D&C 20:10-12

10 And thy brother Oliver shall continue in bearing my name before the world, and also to the church. And he shall not suppose that he can say enough in my cause; and lo, I am with him to the end.

11 In me he shall have glory, and not of himself, whether in weakness or in strength, whether in bonds or free;

12 And at all times, and in all places, he shall open his mouth and declare my gospel as with the voice of a trump, both day and night. And I will give unto him strength such as is not known among men.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Feb 23 2015 Email

Dear Friends and Family,

This week has been a very good week. We have learned a lot, and worked super hard to make the most of our time. You have asked me to update you on how the mission did on our goal of setting 250 baptismal dates. Our record, previously, was about 210 baptismal dates. 250 was a huge leap. A very large gap. And what is a baptismal date? It is a goal. A day that is chosen as a target, and we work towards that day helping our friends read and pray and come to church and live the commandments. If they do all these things, then they will be baptized.

So, Thursday night we were up to 240 baptismal dates set so far. A mission record, but we had not yet hit our goal. So, we prayed some more, worked some more, and Friday, we set another 32. It was a week full of miracles. However Saturday we got an update... That we were down to 252 baptismal dates. At first we were a little dissappointed. ''Why would that many people cancel their goal so quickly?'' But then we realized that those that we lost, we lost in the best way ever. By baptizing them, haha. So, our sadness was long gone.

I got news from Elder Hampel, who is in Torrevieja right now, and he said that an entire family that I found and taught set baptismal dates this week. And, another family that I found and taught has already gotten baptized! ¡Qué alegría!

Anyways, here in Mazarrón, we only set 1. A new friend of ours from Honduras. We had a great lesson with her and her boyfriend, M. She is scheduled to be baptized the 21st of March (we have lots of work to do before then).

C is doing well. We had the talent show this saturday, and everything went really well. Actually it went fantastic. We will send you videos and pictures next week. After the activity, I was talking with A, cousin of the A family, and an investigator that I found a year and a half ago in Torrevieja, and he said to C, ''Hey! When are you going to get baptized?''  (However, he is not baptized either). And C responded, ''I don't know. But I want to as soon as possible.''  He is so awesome. He really loved the activity, and has been grafted into the family very well. 

At the activity, I played a bunch of mariachi violin stuff, sang a little bit in german, and acted as a blind man. It was a great activity. Plus, we got all the left overs!  Seco de Pollo con Salsa de Maní. Very typical Equatorian.

Even though in Mazarrón we didn't set as many baptismal dates as we wanted, we did see some other cool stuff!  In Family Home Evening on Thursday, P, a golden investigator, proposed to his girlfriend! J. Previously, she was really scared of getting married, and really scared of those creepy Mormons. However, recently she has taken more interest in our message, and has resolved her doubts and fears. 

AND SHE SAID YES!  Which means that P for sure will be able to get baptized soon, and then she will. It is going to be awesome!

This week was great. Next week will be better. There will be many good things that happen, and I am privileged to be a part of this work.

¡Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Feb 16 Email

This week was another good week for us. We were able to teach a lot of lessons, and we saw some more miracles (again)!

This week I made a giant soup. I used a beef broth that I bought and threw in just about everything I have lying around. It contains rice, noodles, peas, carrots, artichoke hearts, celery, an onion, a  a giant potato, and other things that I found lying around the apartment. It turned out amazing, and I have enough to probably last me until Friday!

This week C came to church, and he was paying attention, but a lot! When he comes to church, his friend D usually distracts him, and neither of them get much out of the talks. However, D didn't come to church today, so C was left to listen all by himself. It was really good. M, from Portugal, gave a talk about the Sacrament, and focused on how we renew our promises with God as we partake of the sacrament. C really enjoyed it, and we think that it is exactly what he needed to hear.

This week as a mission we have a goal of helping 250 people set a goal of a baptismal date. We are to teach about baptism in every lesson, and when the spirit is there, we are going to invite them! Some scriptures that I love about faith, repentance, and baptism are 2 Nephi 9, 2 Nephi 31, Alma 7, and 3 Nephi 11. Also, Acts 2, Acts 11-12, and basically everything that the Savior spoke during his life.

This week has gotten hot. Well, ''hot'' as in, 70 degrees or so... Haha, I am going to die when I get back to Phoenix... In July. Anyway, we wear long sleeve shirts every day. Because my comp can't show his arms, and we are one, so I don't show my arms. (Due to his life before his baptism a year and a half ago.) I hope that it doesn't get any warmer, and I hope that he doesn't get transferred to Sevilla for the summer.

This Saturday we are going to have a talent show at the chapel! We are going to do all sorts of stuff. I am going to do some classic bluegrass hoedowns on the violin, and play some Ecuadorian music with C. He is an amazing singer... I'll get some videos to you guys next week about how it goes.

Love you all!
Pray that I can play some groovy bluegrass!

Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

ps. This week was Carnaval. You know, the giant gentile festival where everybody gets drunk and all the girls dress immodestly. Well, we survived, but Saturday and Sunday in total, we taught 1 lesson... Everybody was partying.

(These pictures remind me a bit of Olympia's Procession of the Species)

Feb 9 email

Wow. I don't even know where to start... Again.

This week has been full of finding, teaching, and feeling the spirit.
This week we didn't have to go to district meeting, because it was Zone Conference week!

We got to travel to Cartegena this week to go help out other sister missionaries. It was just a ward activity, so the 3 companionships of missionaries that work in the Cartegena 2 ward (us included) got together for a little cosecha (harvest), where we went and contacted a bunch. For the first 2 hours, Elder Q and I didn't do very well. Not a single person stopped to listen to us, and we were feeling rather defeated. Then, it was about 1 o'clock in the afternoon, when the streets normally empty out, and we decided to stop and pray. We asked forgiveness for thinking so highly of ourselves, and we asked for help. Do you want to know what happened? We found tons of people in the next 45 minutes. Sometimes, we just need to humble ourselves, and then the Lord will be willing work with us.

Zone conference on Friday was great and we learned a better way to plan for our day. We began to put into practice from that night on, and we learned that it really is a lot more effective that the older way that we planned. We are working really hard to be more obedient and focused on helping people progress towards a better life. Speaking of that...

This Saturday was an unforgettable day. We were teaching Mission Prep and we had invited one of our friends who is recently getting to know the church, C. We had a 'practice' where D and I taught C. We were talking about how he felt about the things that he has learned and felt recently. He paused, and we asked him, 'how do you feel when you pray?' 

His response surprised me. He said, 'I feel good, ya' know? In these last two weeks since you guys found me on that bench that Saturday evening, I have felt so much different. Every time we talk, meet here in the chapel, or when I pray, I get such a strong feeling of peace in my heart. All my outside problems and worries are postponed, and I feel like God really does love me, even though I have done some pretty un-Christlike things in my life. These are feelings that I have never felt before in my life.'

My jaw probably dropped out of surprise and an overwhelmingly peaceful feeling overcame me. I know that what he said is exactly the fulfillment of the promise that God has made us.

It was an amazing morning. Then, that evening, another one of our investigators told us almost exactly the same thing. We are changing lives here, and I have the privilege of being the tool that the Lord is using to work in the lives of these men.

I love you all,
¡Os quiero mucho! 
Elder Oliver

(ps. My fingers are freezing cold in this locutorio. Next week I am going to bring gloves or a heater or something.)

Monday, February 2, 2015

Feb 2 2015 email

Well, this Sunday was a lot better than last. We had 16 people at church, and we were able to go and find a whole lot of new people. 

This week was full of miracles, just like last week. We haven't stopped seeing miracles since we got here. Elder Quispe is awesome, and it really hasn't taken us long at all to get into the groove of teaching together.

This week we started out by chilling with the YSA for p-day, and we went to the mines. That is the only thing cool to do around here, according to Elder Quispe and the youth around here. Then, we went and played uno in the chapel.

On Tuesday we had our district meeting and we had to take the bus up to Cartegena (Car-te-HEY-na) and wow, that was really weird. I got off the bus, and thought, wow, I am back in Cartegena. I haven't been here since I was in my first area. Everything is the same. It really doesn't look like anything has changed in a year and a half. 
I got to meet the rest of the district, and they are all pretty cool. However, I am the oldest missionary in the district now. That is weird to me too. I think everything is weird to me now. Now that I am in the last quarter of the mission. 

This Wednesday we stayed in Mazarrón, and didn't teach any lessons. Instead, we walked around all day and contacted. But it was really, ALL DAY. We walked for about 9 hours in total. We calculate that we walked about a marathon. Needless to say, we got lots of futures, and slept really well that night.

Thursday we were really really tired. Luckily, we were able to do weekly planning and rest our feet for a little while.

Friday we traveled out to Cartegena again, and did a zone contacting activity in the new sisters' area. They are opening the area, and needed some extra help.

Saturday we saw lots of miracles and were able to get 3 investigators out to Cartegena to watch a baptism. It was absolutely perfect for our investigators, and on the way home one of them kept asking, ''so if I got baptized...'' type questions. Elder Quispe and I were pretty excited about that.

On Sunday we had a great sacrament meeting, a good gospel principles class, and a whole lot of investigators in the chapel. Everything went really well. We were super psyched about everything. Then, that evening we were able to find one of our investigators, B, and we had an amazing lesson with him. He is super repentant, and he is going to change his life, starting yesterday and today.

Anyways, I hope you enjoy the few photos and videos that I put in Dropbox!
¡Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Jan 26 2015 email

Well, maybe you've already seen pictures of my new area on the internet. Maybe you already can see the difference between Mazarrón and Marbella. They are very different. For example, the main business in Marbella is selling high price goods to rich foreign tourists. In Mazarrón, the main business is picking tomatoes. Everybody here is a tomatero, and those who aren't, are unemployed. There really is nothing to do here in Mazarrón other than visit the mines or travel to the port.

Did I forget to mention that it is cold? Wow, it is super cold here. I can't ever seem to warm up. It is humid and super windy all the time, and today is the first day since I have been here that I have not been frozen. However, we do have a couple of portable heaters that we carry with us everywhere we go in the house.

A nice change over Marbella, is the chapel. We live on top of it! Which is kind of cool. We don't have to drive half an hour to go to church. However, the heater doesn't work so we bring down our little heaters to try and heat up the chapel. Do you know what's cool? and scary? I am basically the branch president here. We are a little extension of the Cartegena 2 ward, and Elder Quispe and I take turns doing branch president duties. This Sunday we had an attendance of... 7 in total. Quite the surprise to me. The first thing I thought was, wow... These are going to be a long 6 months.

However, the missionary work is going really well here. Thanks to several amazing elders since they opened this area 6 months ago, this place rocks. There are tons of people to teach, and everybody is pretty friendly. It helps that this place isn't very big, and everybody knows where the chapel is. This is a really small town. Word gets around fast.

Yesterday we were knocking doors and an African opened the door and let us in without a word. That made us a little suspicious of something wrong, but he led us to a room where we taught a whole group of Malis about the restoration. We'll be coming back on Tuesday with a pamphlet in French for them.

Elder Quispe is awesome. He has almost 4 months in the field, and he is a convert to the church of about 1 year and 4 months. He is awesome. Very mature, a very hard worker, very funny, and very obedient. He is a great missionary. I'm looking forward to being his comp for the next 3 months out here in tomatolandia.

Random coincidence. In November 2013, while I was in Torrevieja with Elder Rodríguez, we got a phone call from a member family that wanted us to buy and deliver flowers to their cousin that lived there for her birthday. We did what they asked, and then we were able to teach that family there. They are some of my good friends from Torrevieja. Funny thing, that member family that called us lives here in Mazarrón. It was pretty cool-funny realizing that. 

Anyways, I hope to be able to make a lasting difference in this area and in the lives of those that live here. Pray for me, pray for Elder Quispe, and pray that the hearts of the people here will be softened to our message.

¡Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver

Jan 19 2015 email

I am tired. This week has taken its toll on me. Where do I even begin?

So many things have happened this week I can't possible begin to explain how I have felt, what I have learned, and the pain that I have gone through.

I will go day by day, to try to help you out. Sunday, as I said last week, Elder Moore decided to return home to fix his health problems, which was the start of the craziness this week.

Monday. I have absolutely no recollection of what happened before 6 o'clock. Right about then, we got a call from President Deere. He was informing Elder Moore when he was going to fly home. It was the strangest night ever. We needed to be at the mission home at 9 o'clock for an interview with him, and then we were going to stay in Fuengirola over night and head straight to the airport the next morning. However, when we got this phone call, we were in Fuengirola, and our bags were not finished being packed. So, we took the toll road, and made it home in record time, threw our bags together and made it back in time for the interview. After President was done with Elder Moore, he brought me in, and we discussed what we should do with Marbella. In the end, we decided to take missionaries out of Marbella and merge the area with Fuengirola. There are many contributing factors to this decision. All of which are valid. I will be leaving the area, because I have been here a very long time. When there is finally a chapel in Marbella, we will be able to have missionaries there, but it just is not possible right now. It absolutely breaks my heart.

Tuesday, We drove Elder Moore to the airport, and I waited with him for a while in there up until he got to security. Then we said goodbye, and I left. We proceeded home in reverent silence, confused and bemused at everything that has happened. We showed up to district meeting, but despite the happy message that we were discussing that morning, a somber cloud hung over our heads. I think I was affected the most of all. Which makes sense, but I really couldn't put myself back into reality. That night I slept for about 2 hours. I couldn't sleep peacefully. I had a really rough time.

Wednesday I had to force myself back into the groove. I went with the Fuengirola Elders to Marbella, to teach them the area and finish up the cleaning of my old apartment, and we taught a man who is really having a tough time right now (who isn't?). The rest of the day passed without anything exciting happening.

Thursday I was called by the office Elders to take a newby with me for the morning, so we went out to go contacting in Marbella. It was refreshing. I love contacting. It really helps me to focus on what I really am doing out here. Later that evening, I went back to Marbella with J and we tried to find a couple of my friends that we haven't seen in a very long time.

Friday we had a lesson with a Gypsy lady and we totally set a baptismal date with her for the 31st of January. The Fuengirola Elders are pretty excited.

Saturday, TRANSFER CALLS.  So, keep in mind that all the stresses from this week have been magnified by not knowing what was going to happen to my beloved Marbella, and all the amazing friends that I have made there. Today, the Zone Leaders called us, and informed me that I would be transfered to the city of Mazarrón. An anomoly-branch (as in it is really just a part of Cartegena 2, but we have a chapel and meet in Mazarrón.) located just about an hour west of my first area, Torrevieja. I am pretty excited to get over there. However, I have no more details about what it is going to be like. It was confirmed that the Elders here are going to have to work Marbella from now on. I pray President Deere assigns the car to the Elders, because if not, everything that Elder Scheible, Gonzalez, Vera, Moore, and I have done will be thrown down the toilet. All our work, thrown away.

Sunday I said my farewells to some of the members, but many of those that I wanted to see weren't at church. I blame the rain. Anyways, Sunday evening we went to Marbella to hunt down those that didn't come to church, and we ended up finding some Philippine amigos that I have here. We got into their house, and they gave us a bunch of spring rolls and sweet potatos covered in brown sugar caramel. They were amazing. Then we taught. Us three Americans, teaching, in perfect harmony, to 7 Filipinos and an Indian the restoration of the gospel of Christ. We ended the lesson with a beautiful prayer offered by Elder Bean (Elder Berry's kid), and it was awesome. The day ended well. 8 New investigators from one appointment. The day couldn't have gone better. However, I did burn my fingers pretty badly on a spring-roll. It was a good day:)

Wow. This doesn't even begin to cover everything that happened. Everything that I felt.
I hope you have a great week, and may God bless you all.

Os queiro mucho
Elder Oliver

Jan 12 2015 email

Sorry for the lame email last week. I was a little down and not feeling much for writing. I really couldn't focus very well, so I just did a brief overview of what happened.

Here are some more details for this week:
Monday was P-day, and we went shopping. Then, we went to the mall and ate subway and KFC. It was good, but it was lacking freedom and bald eagles. Then we went and chilled with the office elders for a while, tried to call all of our references, but nobody answered.

Tuesday was 3 Kings day. It's when most Spaniards recieve their gifts for the holiday season. We spent our day delivering little stuffed animals that the Relief Society created to some of our friends in Marbella, and they loved it. M, an older Argentine woman invited us in (she was a less active rescue from about 4 months back) and said that she wanted to make us a little snack while her husband woke up (it was 1 in the afternoon). So, we sat there while she cooked and chatted with C for a while. She ended up bringing us empenadas, fried chicken, soup, and asked us a ton of weird questions (but that is not unusual) and my comp had to talk to a medical adviser in the Area Office for a while. So I was left alone to answer all the questions.  What was supposed to be a 5 minute drop off/happy 3 kings day kind of thing turned into a 3 hour long meal/weird doctrinal questions/her telling us about everything that was going on in other people's lives. That night, we went to Puerto Banús. We weren't allowed to proselyte much that night, so we walked down the Port road and saw lots of Ferraris again. It was a good day.

Wednesday, we had also delivered one to D and L, the Bulgarian family. We stopped by their house and shared a quick message, and as we left I heard L in the back room almost squealing with joy and saying over and over again, ''I love it! I love it!''  It's my new best friend!''  (the stuffed animal thing). It really made my heart melt. So much so, that I just wanted to go and give her all the rest of the pillow things. I guess when you only get one present for Christmas, you are really grateful for that one present.

Thursday were supposed to do weekly planning, which is usually what we do on Thursdays, but my comp was suffering from a pretty strong migrane, so he slept the entire morning. I just started to read in Spanish, and by the end of the day, I had read about 300 pages of assorted spanish stuff (scripture, study guides, classic spanish literature and poetry, etc.) My reading skills have definitely sharpened up again. And my poor dictionary has taken a beating.

Friday we had a bad day. We were at the doctor's all morning, and from a neurological standpoint, my comp is totally healthy. So, all the tests and stuff were inconclusive. We missed our zone conference, and then drove out to eat at the buffet with the zone (I'm sure they were thinking, ''where in the world were those Marbella Elders''). Later we went back to the hospital, got a really fun biology/ Elder Moore's Brain anatomy lesson, and we totally got rejected by one of the doctors (when we tried to share the gospel). Later that night, we only taught one lesson to some members, but the 12 year old kid let us fly his cool rc helicopter. I got it to do some flips in the air, but then I almost lost control while it was up high, so I handed it back to him. I didn't want to repeat that one christmas 5-6 years ago with the air hog, haha. Then, we went home to sleep.

Saturday we hunted down some more references, but to no avail. We have no idea where this one lady's house is. So, then my comp called home to council with his family about what to do.

Sunday was decision day. After much prayer and fasting, Elder Moore has decided to go home. We have been weighing everything on both sides of staying or going, and he feels that he will be better off posponing his service and devoting his time to getting healthy. He is a good kid, and I know he made the right decision.

We'll see where the Lord wants him to go in due time. Whether he can come back to Spain, serve somewhere else, or work as a missionary in some other capacity. He is a great missionary. He has been unfairly targeted by illness and bad health, but hopefully he knows that he has had an impact on the lives of many people here in Marbella, and on my own.

I hope that this shed a little more light on how things are going here in Marbella. There is a chance that I stay another transfer here, because Elder Moore is leaving, but if not, pray that the new missionaries here will be able to help it progress better than I was.

I love you all. Thank you for your prayers and your faith.

¡Os quiero mucho!
Elder Oliver