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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Baptisms!

Sent May 23:

"On Thursday we had Zone Conference, where the Mission President, APs, and office elders come and give training to our zone. Elder Macdonald and I also had to give training on planning. That went quite well. Afterwards the twins, Miranda and Marissa, were interviewed by the Mission President because of a special consideration. We decided to push their baptism back a few weeks after that, so as to clear up a few things and have them strengthen their testimony a little more. Sonja and Crystal were interviewed by our Zone Leaders and they were all set for the baptism on Saturday.
Oh, by the way, did you know the world was supposed to end on Saturday? Yeah, there was this "prophet" of a church out here who put out a full-page advertisement in a newspaper how the Bible points to May 21, 2011 as the end of the world. It was supposed to be a global earthquake. I'm kind of disappointed, actually. A global earthquake? That would be cool to see, wouldn't it?
Anyway, back to the baptism. We managed to plan it out well, so it ran really smoothly. It was just Sonja and Crystal, and Angel wasn't there, but everything else went very well. The talks were excellent, the musical numbers were great, and both of the girls only had to go in once. The Bishop baptised one and Brother Voyles baptised the other. No, I didn't baptise either of them, but it's good for them to build relationships with ward members for when we get transferred. Afterwards we went to their house for lasagna. In church yesterday I did get to confirm Crystal and the Bishop confirmed Sonja. We taught a lesson in Gospel Principles about the Sacrament. I'm confident that the whole family will be baptised by the end of July. Next will probably be Melissa, the mom, then Angel, then the rest of the girls. But I've already got two baptisms that I've been with the whole way!"


Sent May 15:
"Yesterday was a pretty good day. All seven of the Gonzalez family came again, along with Andy, a less active member, and Robert, an older man who's going through chemotherapy and radiation for prostate cancer. We've been going to his house every couple days to support him, keep him company, and share a thought or two.

"We taught Gospel Principles with the four Gonzalezes and Andy about sacrifice and fasting, and then I was volunteered to teach the High Priests group about missionary work. Elder Macdonald stayed with Angel Gonzales and went to Elders Quorum. I had almost no notice for teaching the High Priests, but it went really well anyways. I just had to ask a question or two and they would start sharing insights and experiences, and every once in a while I'd just put in my own stuff since I was the actual missionary. It helped me a ton in realizing that I can definitely be led by the Spirit and that I'm actually not too bad at giving a lesson pretty much on the spot. But it's still comforting to plan sometimes.

"On Saturday a pretty interesting thing happened. We were in Bartow on the side of a street trying to get organized and make a simple map of the potential investigators in the area. While we were going through it, a guy in an orange suit carrying a clipboard came up to the car and knocked on the window. I thought we had parked in a restricted area or something. It turned out that he was from Utah, and was an RM. He was out there knocking on doors, probably selling something, maybe even security systems. I didn't really get his name or where in Utah he's from, but it's pretty crazy how small of a world it is."

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

A Huge Change

I sent David an Easter Package with lots of goodies in it...

"I got the package on Friday and we're still chipping away at it. I've only cooked two things since I've been here: a bowl of chili and some brownies that we gave to a member to support them through a bit of hard times they're going through. We've mostly snacked, gone out to eat, or eaten at a member's house. There either isn't time to make something or the stuff we have to make has been here since who knows when and is expired. Or we don't have all the ingredients we need. But I'm not complaining."

"There's not really any huge things that happened this week. We taught the Gonzales family about the Plan of Salvation and visited some members and less actives, but I suppose you could just call it business as usual. I kind of feel bad not having a lot to tell everyone about what's going on out here. I write in my journal every night but I didn't bring it here to look at it, and I just can't remember a whole lot. This week went by pretty fast. Hopefully I'll remember to bring my journal next week and have more to write about.

"I'm still loving it out here, the weather isn't too terrible yet, and the people are still super generous and welcoming. I just finished Jesus the Christ and the Book of Mormon, and my studies are helping me so much. I'm feeling the Spirit every day. I'd just like to encourage everyone to keep reading the scriptures and praying together, and thanks for your prayers for me. I love you all and am looking forward to see you all again after I've served an honorable, full-time mission. I think you'll see a huge change."

Always Be Prepared

David says he is only allowed to email family members. Anyone can still email him, and if you'd like him to write you back, please let him know your home address for snail mail. :)


From David...
"We taught the first lesson to Angel and his family on Friday (two weeks ago.) In the conversations we'd had before, I've figured that they might as well already be members of the church. Angel thinks that we're the best young men he's ever met; he hates it when guys are disrespectful, especially because he has five daughters. He only wants them to have one pair of earrings and he hates tattoos. All of the kids have a curfew of 9. When we were going to start the lesson, which is about the Restoration, they kept asking perfect questions having to do with what we were going to talk about, like why there are so many churches, and why people go to church on Sundays but go about drinking and stuff the rest of the week. The lesson went really well and we answered a lot of their questions. The next day they invited us to play tennis and go to lunch with them. That was pretty fun, even though I was terrible at tennis."

I had asked him if they are eating well...
"We seriously get too much food out here. Members and nonmembers alike just have this weird need to give us food every time we see them. Yesterday we got a huge tub full of storage food that was nearing its expiration date. We have more than we could ever eat in our apartments. It's pretty funny."

"Church went well yesterday, but not as many of the investigators came as last week. We taught Gospel Principles again, this time about the Holy Ghost and prayer. Melissa, the mother of the Gonzales family, participated a lot. After church there was a stake youth fireside scheduled at about 6 at our building. President Summerhays was going to speak about preparing to serve a mission. At about 3, though, Sister Summerhays called us and told us that he had thrown up three times in the past hour and wouldn't be able to make it. She asked if we would be able to take over. It was a huge surprise. We didn't really commit to anything, since she said that she would call the stake young men's leader who was in charge of it, but we immediately started trying to prepare. I wasn't too worried since I had given that talk in sacrament meeting before I left, so I thought I would just kind of recycle it.
"It turned out that we didn't have to do anything. The stake young men's president had managed to gather three other people and they all gave a few small talks. It went well, considering how long they had to prepare. But it did show us that we always had to be ready for anything while we're here."

Monday, April 11, 2011

An Exciting Sunday!

More blurbs from David this week....

"So some pretty awesome things happened recently. Saturday was the baptism of Casey. She had been taught for several years, and had been going to church enough that the first missionaries had thought she was a member already. Elder Macdonald, my companion, was super stressed out about it because he had to talk about baptism and also confirm her. She wanted the confirmation that day because her family was there. But the whole thing went well. Mike, a less active member who's been struggling with smoking, was there and he said it was the first baptism he'd ever cried at. He had been a part of teaching Casey so he felt really close to the event."

"We went tracting [knocking on doors in neighborhoods] about a week ago around a street near some railroad tracks. We didn't have too much success, and as we were about to leave we saw a house across the tracks with a ton of cars at it. We thought we might as well try it. We knocked on it and a man from Mexico named Angel answered the door. He's been struggling with a bad case of vertigo and also with being laid off from his job. We told him a little about our church, and while we were talking, one of his daugters came out to talk a bit with us. Her name is Sonja and she's 20. They both were really friendly, and we told them we'd stop by again a little later.
"We did on Thursday. As it happened, the whole family was home at the time. There was Angel, his wife Melissa, and their five daugthers, Sonja (20), Crystal (19), Miranda and Marissa (15, twins), and Thalia (13). They all came out and we were talking for about two hours on their doorstep because they just liked to talk. They even gave us some frozen fruit and sodas. We'd only met with them once before! We handed out three English copies of the Book of Mormon and one Spanish for Angel. We answered a couple questions they had about us and they seememd pretty interested. They hadn't been too into church before, but they'd attended some Pentecostal congregations and kind of like those. We told them where our building was and finally broke away, thinking we'd be able to follow up with them a bit next week.

"About half an hour before the baptism, though, Sonja called us. She asked what time church was, and confirmed where the building was, and said that the whole family was planning on going! It was crazy! Elder Macdonald got even more stressed because we had also known of three other possible investigators coming the next day. I was just excited, because you all know that I just don't get stressed. But now we had potentially ten investigators coming to church the next day, maybe more.
"Sure enough, the family showed up. Angel wasn't with them because his vertigo was acting up, but Melissa and the five daugters were there. We sat with them during sacrament meeting, then took them to Gospel Principles. We taught the lesson, about Faith and Repentance. It went very well, especially because there were plenty of members also there who shared their insights. Two other investigators were there as well, brought by another member.

"After the class, one of the investigators brought by the member came up to me. She told me that something I had said during the lesson had been exactly what she had needed to hear that day. I felt really good about that, because I hadn't really planned on saying a whole lot during the lesson. I know that the Spirit worked through me, and that even when we don't know about it, we'll be saying what people need to hear all the time."

Monday, April 4, 2011

Storms!

Yay! The first letter from David since he arrived in Florida. Blurbs from David....

"The first flight was normal and boring, I slept because we had to get up at 2. The second flight was... interesting. It was normal for the first part but at about 40 minutes left we hit a storm over Florida and had crazy turbulence until we landed. A couple people actually threw up. I thought it was pretty fun for the first few minutes but then I got tired of it and just wanted to get on the ground. We landed safely and a man came out just after me. He asked me if I was starting my mission or leaving. I said I was starting, and he said he was glad I was on the plane. It was pretty cool."

"When we got to the airport it was an unusual storm going on. Usually they have storms all the time in the summer, but the winter has almost none. We met President and Sister Summerhays and talked for a while while we waited for our luggage. It turned out that all of the missionaries, plus two other people, had their luggage lost. I had my carry-on with stuff I needed for that night, but I just thought it was pretty funny. Every one of the new missionaries had to spend the first night without their checked luggage. We all got it the next day though."

"My area is called Highlands. We live in a town called Mulberry, and work around Mulberry, Lakeland, and Bartow. There might be some other towns in our area, but those are the ones I know about. The culture here is so different. Let me tell you, you guys [missionaries] are blessed to be living in sturdy houses, without seventy dogs in your neighborhood, and where everything is fairly clean. There's lots of trailers and mobile homes, almost everyone has a dog or two, and there's stuff everywhere in everyone's yard. It's so different from our area of Utah. Plus there's lots of southern accents."

"I've been told a couple times that I'm being spoiled for my first area. It's full car, which means we always have a car available. There's just a limitation of 1250 miles per month, which apparently usually runs out about the day before the last of the month. We had no miles on the 31st, but it was alright because of the storm that I'll tell you about in a second. The members around here feed us every day. Our apartment is quite nice, with tons of food stocked up. It's definitely been lived in, though."

"As far as I can tell, Jevin would love it here. Right now is the dry season, and it's more humid than I've ever felt it in Utah. The temperature is excellent right now, but it's going to get really hot here soon. We'll see how it goes. I'm just excited for the thunderstorms that apparently happen every day in the summer."

"This week has been quite a way to start off my mission. First we lost our luggage. Then I found out my bike hadn't arrived yet. Then, on Thursday, there was a HUGE storm that came through our area. The news said there were 6 reported tornadoes. We were in the apartment at the time when it started getting super windy. We were excited and freaked out at the same time. It didn't last very long, but we got a call from one of the members in the ward in charge of the safety of the missionaries. He told us to go to the stake center and hang out there since it was the safest building in the area. We waited there for four hours until it was safe for us to head out."

"After the storm, we spent some of the next couple days helping people clean up. We could see lots of trees that had fallen all over the place, and branches were broken off and laying everywhere. We helped trim down a tree that had fallen over a member's driveway and cart it all to their backyard. It was a huge tree, so they had to cut it into lots of pieces with chainsaws."

"I'm having a great time and am learning a ton. I'm loving it here in Florida, and I'm loving the chances I'm having to teach the gospel. It's a new experience, but it's fun, inspiring, and a challenge I'm going to live up to."

David arrives in Tampa and meets his Mission President

David's Mission President: Elder Summerhays

Bruce Summerhays is a former professional golfer... go to this link for more about him:
http://mormon.org/me/2F8J/ Watch the video :)

We got a letter from Elder Summerhays with this picture saying he arrived safely and in good spirits. He said he interviewed David and found out the following about him: "Elder Parady wants to be an example for his siblings by being exactly obedient. He has a very happy spirit and stated he wants to give it all of his might, heart, mind and strength in serving the Savior. He is going to be a great missionary."





Monday, March 28, 2011

Time to Fly to Tampa

Today David goes to Tampa, Florida. He had to get up REALLY early and report to the travel office at 3am! His flight left Salt Lake City at 6:30am. He had an hour and a half layover in Dallas, then landed in Tampa an hour and a half later. He was so excited to finally get to Florida.