Friday, December 14, 2012

Another Shorty

December 10th, 2012
Tsev neeg, 

So I'm so sorry that this letter is so short, but I have no time right now to get everything done.  I did send the calling instructions for Christmas day! 

Here's my spiritual thought for the week: 
"Work will win when wishy washy wishing won't" 
-President Thomas S. Monson 

Sorry that I don't have time to expound but it's an awesome quote.  I love you all so much! Let me know if you have any questions or anything and I'll be happy to answer them. 

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem 


Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Fresno Days (Lost in Translation...)

December 3rd, 2012


Things are going really well here in Fresno, Pioneer Park East. We just had president interviews this last week and they were awesome. Its great getting 1-on-1 time with President. You get correction, inspiration, love, everything...just in one big package! He's the best! Our area is doing really well too! We've been finding a lot of people to teach and just getting ready for baptisms so its REAL good. 

We have been teaching the Hmong class and we've been doing a lot more tracting. We haven't seen the results from the Hmong class yet, but we have been working hard in our finding efforts. 

This last Sunday, we had epic fail translating moments! It was pretty funny. We were translating for Sunday School and it was just bad. The teacher kept asking us (missionaries) questions and I'm translating...."So she's now asking us a question and we don't really understand her." (Note: questions about Zedekiah and Brother of Jared's name.....I'm saying WHAT?! right?) Hahaha. Yeah, still working on the Hmong. 

Answers to Mom's Questions:
So yeah, we run every day still. Nope Hmong is still hard to learn even with a native speaker. Also, we didn't get to see the devotional. The stake decided not to broadcast :(  Also, I'll let you know about the calling at Christmas stuff. We will be receiving instructions in the next 2 weeks.

Spiritual Thought
Also, I had a really cool experience this week. We had just got done teaching a family and it was dark outside. As we were walking to the car, I got chastised by the spirit about "TALKING TO EVERYONE." As missionaries, God prepares people for us to find and teach. However, because we don't always know who those people are we have to talk to everyone. By talking to everyone you can find the prepared people. However, as Hmong missionaries we sometimes shy away from talking to people other than Hmong. In my heart I realized, I was wrong for not talking to ALL PEOPLE that crossed our paths. Therefore, I said in my heart: "Father, I'm sorry I haven't been talking to everyone. Please forgive me for this. Please give me someone right now and I will talk to them, NO MATTER WHAT." Now remember its dark outside and nobody is around. But right when I said this silent prayer in my heart, a garage door opened and a man walked out. Then, as I had promised, I went and talked with him. He was willing to let missionaries come back and I knew that it was no coincidence he came outside at that very moment. I know that God answers our prayers. He hears us! He loves us! He is literally our Father and He is concerned with the details of our lives. So for anyone that may not know this or may have forgotten; GO TRY IT! Ask Him if He's really there. Promise Him you will act when He gives you an answer. Then JUST DO IT (NIKE)! 

Love you all! Hope you are all doing well. 


Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fresno Days (Of Companions & Volleyball)

November 26, 2012

Hey Family, 
Glad to hear everyone is doing well. That's pretty great Dad went up to NY for Helping Hands. Hopefully I'll hear about it when I get his letter. Glad you liked Black Friday shopping, Mom. For us, we did weekly planning for 3 hours so that was good.
Sorry that I haven't let you know about my  companion. His name is Chenou Xiong. He is native Hmong and he is from Colorado. He is super funny! He is really good at Hmong because he is Hmong. He is a little shorter and is pretty athletic though....VOLLEYBALL! It's like all Hmong people are pros at volleyball. Also, it's just our companionship at our apartment. However, when the Hmong New Years celebrations start, we will have other elders staying with us because they will be coming down from Merced and Atwater for the proselyting/celebration opportunity.
Also, right now we have a ton of people getting ready for baptism. We have some part-member families that are preparing their kids for baptism and some young single adults as well. We are super excited for them. I think there will be at least 2 baptismal services in December so the work is going really well right now! 

It was so awesome. We went and played at the turkey bowl with our members and it was fabulous. I never realized flag football could be so rough. I was so sore these last few days. We had 2 dinners to go to but we missed one for the other. We were going to go eat with President Gelwix at a member's home, but we ended up going to dinner with a potential contact at another member's house. We also watch two movies that were approved for thanksgiving; Forever Strong and 17 Miracles. 

"Knowledge of the gospel is the essence of a testimony. Consistently being true to that knowledge is the essence of conversion." We all know about the right things, but doing them is a different story. I think a lot of people have a testimony but not everyone is converted to the gospel. We all have a lot of work to do to become 100% converted. So let us all take the time to go and strengthen our testimony by living it and therefore become more converted unto Christ. 

Love you all so much! Sorry that I haven't been able to write back to everyone yet. I'm getting around to it. Continue to ask me questions about everything and I'll be sure to answer them. LOVE YA

Kev Hlub,
Es Daws Fwv Leem 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shortest Letter Ever...

November 19th, 2012
Dear Family,
I apologize I don't have any time to email because we played flag rugby as a zone activity. So, I will be happy to relay all of the thanksgiving festivities next week. But it looks like we will have 7+ dinners so should be good :)
Spiritual message is this:
"Enthusiasm is the mother of effort, and without it nothing great was ever achieved."
Ralph Waldo Emerson
President told us that so...let's go do all our work with enthusiasm.
Love ya all! So sorry I didn't write more this week!
Tseem Fwv Leem

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Fresno Days (The Doghouse Grill)

November 12th, 2012
How's it going back home? Glad to here everyone had a good birthday with Regan.  It sounds like you did NY big!

Anyways, our mission is on fire right now. We have a goal of 1200 baptisms this year and we have a lot of work to do but I know that we will get it. We have set 5 baptismal dates in one week...CrAzY!! Elder Xiong is awesome. He is from Colorado and is Native Hmong so its really great to have his language skills. Our ward just recently downsized. The Hmong YSA is being moved to combine with the English YSA so that's drama.

Some good news is that the Fresno North Stake put on a musical about the founding of the country and God's hand in raising up this nation. Super cool! All the youth were involved and there was some dancing, singing, patriotic stuff...! Real Good. Sorry to hear that your boy 'Mitt' didn't win. Don't worry, its not the end of the world....yet. Hahaha. My favorite thing to say is: "e'ryone just need to calm down." 
I don't know if you've ever heard of it but there is this thing called a tri-tip...its slamming! Its some sort of cut of meat that just blows my mind. You should look it up: Doghouse Grill...they are look a one-time sandwich place here in Fresno that specialize in tri-tip. Amazing! 

We also had special training from a former Assistant that extended his mission for 3 weeks. He tours around and gives training to different companions around the mission. So we were able to be with him for 4 days. His name is Elder Owens and he is the best missionary I've ever met. Me and Elder Xiong have learned so much from him. It was awesome. 

Costco has been treating us well. I have to go get a flu shot and I'm kinda nervous about that but we'll see. We also have a zone conference coming up tomorrow so that'll be good. Looking forward to getting some training from President Gelwix. 

Well I've got to get going! So my message for the week is this:
 “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” - Benjamin Franklin

I know that it is through effective planning that we achieve our goals. If we want to reach our full potential, we have to plan and then go do it. Therefore, when we plan with the Lord, then we can truly become what He intended us to become.

Well, I love you all! Good luck with everything and keep me posted.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Crazy Fresno Days!

November 5th, 2012


So glad to hear you survived the hurricane.

Me and my new companion are doing some great work here in Fresno. We have found new investigators and have been working extremely hard.

We went and got a Costco card together so now we are hoping to save a little bit of money that way.

I got the package as well but it was after Halloween. Super Sad but I appreciate all the candy and the awesome scriptures with it. They don't send packages from the mission home during transfers because they don't know where the missionaries addresses are and when mail will get there so they wait until they know the right packages will get to the right missionaries so I got it late but no big deal.

Super excited for Ray Ray's b-day! Can't believe she will be 18!!!! Time be a flyin'!

Driving has been really fun. I'm learning the area really well. The members are continuing to be awesome. They feed us super well! 

Last Saturday, our schedule was crazy! We woke up at 6 and went farming as service for a member. We took huge (I mean huge) tarps and covered lemon grass for the winter so that was fun... After, we had to go teach Hmong class which has been awesome but we were super rushed all morning. Then we had a ton of appointments so cRaZy! 

Also, we had the ward Halloween party which was adorable. A ton of little kids dressed up...hilarious hahaha! We set up our car for the trunk r' treat and it looked like a shark so it was pretty awesome. 

We have been tracting more and its super scary when we think a house is Hmong and it turns out to be English. Definitely give English elders props for dealing with white people :) 

Everyone in the church is flipping out about Mitt so that'll be interesting to see what happens. 

Also, today we played ultimate and rugby (two hand touch missionary style) outside the church and it was sooo much fun. 

Well here is my spiritual message for the week: 
"JUST DO IT!" -Nike 

Sometimes we just need to go do the right thing. I noticed that a lot of people sometimes just are lazy or hesitate doing the thing that they know they need to do. It’s super frustrating for missionaries especially because we just want everyone to do the right thing! So, I invite you to "just do it!" It may be hard, but always worth it in the end. Love you all!

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem Vaj 

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Hallowe'en from Fresno!

October 29th, 2012

Nyob Zoo!

How's everything? Hope you enjoy Hurricane Sandy...Halloween should be fun! We have our ward trunk n' treat this Tuesday.  Really, I hope everything is okay and that you don't get hit too badly with the storm.  Pretty scary, eh?
So tons of craziness in Hmong work here in Fresno. Elder Allen and Elder Burton are "doubling in" an area up in Atwater. Elder Xiong and Elder Maybe are coming down to pair up with me and Elder Doane. Super Scary. Basically, me and Elder Doane are the only ones with experience down here. We are the only ones that know anything about Fresno so it's really scary. Also, me and Elder Doane are designated drivers. So, kinda nervous about it, but it will be good. Also, on Monday I ate chicken heart and stomach. Not too bad actually. Loved it.
Our Hmong class is going really well. Most of the people are young single adult age and they are great to teach. We are aiming to try and get some older people out but it will be a lot harder because we will have to teach them in straight Hmong instead of English. Overall, the class is a blast.
Well, we have to get going so we can get ready for transfers. I love you all. 

Spiritual thought: 
"He cannot work on what he does not have, and He cannot have you, unless you give yourself to Him." 

"The greatest gift you can give Jesus Christ is your Heart" 



Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Fresno Days (Rain, etc.)

October 22nd, 2012

Nyob zoo!

Hey, how's it going? Sorry to hear that the Cougars lost, but Notre Dame sounds really cool. Thanks for sending that package out, it is appreciated.
FYI, it's finally rained! Hasn't really rained in weeks so Fresno has been dying for some rain.
Also, there was an earthquake the other night, so that was interesting...I just slept through it though. We had Stake Conference yesterday which was really good too. Today we have a quad-zone activity with all the zones in Fresno so that will be fun. You asked about preparation day (yeah, we can't use abbreviated terms such as zls, dls, pday or anything like that). Usually, we get up and go start some laundry and then clean up around the apartment (vacuuming, wiping, scrubbing etc.). Then we start our studies for 2 hours. After, we go to the store and get food (milk, bread, eggs, and cereal). Then, we go to get the car washed. Then, we go to the Family History Center and email our families. Then we play sports as a zone in the gym until around 4. After, we go back to our apartments and relax and shower until 6. At 6, we start proselyting again.

Also on normal days as missionaries. We usually do this:
Wake up
Get ready/Eat
Studies: 4 Hours
Go see Less Active Members, Investigators, or Potentials
Dinner W/ members
Go see Less Actives and Members

Thats a basic day. Sometimes we go tracting, etc. It just depends.   

Also, other exciting news is that we started a Hmong Reading/Writing class so that was really fun.

Spiritual Thought: "Victory- No matter how long and hard the road may be" (Gordon B. Hinckley)
I love this quote. Super inspiring. The work in which we are engaged will be victorious. Let us decide now to be a part of it!

Well we have to get going to this quad-zone activity so I'll write more next week. Continue to ask me questions!!! Love you all!


Tseem Fwv Leem xai yob Vaj

Fresno Days (Late Letter)

October 17th, 2012

Hey Family, 

Sorry for not writing. This week, we had preparation day on Wednesday instead due to leadership training so I'm writing today. This week has been going pretty well. We have been working on finding more people so it should be good. How are things back home?  Super excited for you that you get to go to the BYU game, Dad. Have fun! There's not a ton of new stuff to write about yet so totally ask me questions about anything b/c i don't know exactly what you want to know. 

Spiritual Thought: 
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf's Talk--3 Major Regrets of People

1) Not spending enough time with the people they loved and cared about the most. -Give people meaningful time! 
2) Not reaching their full potential. -We are capable of being so much more. The more we devote ourselves to holiness and happiness, the less we are on the road to regrets. 
3) They wish they had let themselves be happier.  -We determine our happiness. Let us decide to be happy today. 

So all this was stolen from his talk but it’s so good. I think that the more we focus on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we avoid these regrets. We spend time with the people we love, we become the people God intended us to be, and we find true happiness in the journey. 

Anyways, love you all!

Keep me updated with everything! 

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem Xai Yob Vaj

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Fresno Days & General Conference

Happy Columbus Day and Canadian Thanksgiving!! 

Everything is going great here in CFM!!! Conference is like Christmas for missionaries. We love it so much. Conference just blew me away this weekend. So inspired!!! Anyways, I'm glad to hear that Dad's 50th party was a success. Love all your craftiness mama!! 

Highlights of the week: CONFERENCE-It was just pure awesome!!!

Awesome lesson with a member family-
They invited us to come back and teach their friends in their yeah Church is True!! Also, we invited the husband to say the closing prayer and he totally prayed for us and talked about our families that raised us and have helped us get to that, super all kinds of emotional and spiritual. Just wanted to say thanks Mom and Dad for everything. I love you lots and appreciate all that you've done to help me become the person I am today!

Really good week. Working on finding more people. Are you being super nice to the missionaries? Believe me. They love it. It inspires them to do more. It helps all of us become better missionaries.

Spiritual Thought:
“If you want something you've never had, you must be willing to do something you've never done.” - Thomas Jefferson

President Gelwix sent this quote out and I really like it. I want to relate it to Bednar's talk on conversion and testimony. We always can become more converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. There is always more waiting for us. However, we have to go and do it. If we want a better conversion to this gospel; an increased light in our life, then we have to go and do the things that we haven't been willing to do earlier. Sometimes it requires us to do new things, even forsake old things. What can we each "DO" in our own life to strengthen our conversion to Jesus Christ?
Love you all much!

Hope everything is going well!

Keep me up to date with everything!

Tseem Fwv Leem 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Fresno Days (The Work is Moving Forward...)

Nyob zoo! 

How's everything in good ol' Virginia? Things are going really well in CFM!!! Here are the highlights and stuff for the week: 

I had the privilege to confirm a Hmong sister a member of the Church this last Sunday so that was excellent. The cool part is that her sister introduced her into the gospel so it's really cool to see how families come closer in the gospel etc. 

We translated for fast and testimony meeting and yeah that was interesting. Me and Elder Doane were translating: "Hello brothers and sisters...," then everything after that was just a blank. Its so hard to understand the older people because they speak so FAST! We have to work on our language study a little more because some days the language just goes over our head..ha ha

Miracle Day: 
So earlier this week we were on exchanges and I was leading our area. We were tracting and were able to street contact some awesome people. Super interested and everything! Also, we were able to get in touch with a ton of former investigators so that was great too. Overall, it was just a super productive day! Not crazy miracles but enough for me! 

HaPpY 50 kuv txiv!!!!!!!!  (Dave's Birthday is on October 4th)

We were teaching this one members kid and he said the funniest thing. He said: "Me and my brother were outside and this dog started barking at us. Then the dog started trying to get out of the fence to bite I prayed and then commanded the dog to stop barking because he was scaring me...but he didn't stop barking." Hahaha, it was hilarious, so we explained that Heavenly Father will always protect us but it's not always the way we expect. 

Missionaries in Manassas:
Okay, so a few things I'd like to ask you to do for the missionaries you see back in Va. First, invite them to dinner...maybe even take them to eat out at Dennys or somewhere sit-down. Also, give them a referral who wants to learn more about the gospel (preferably someone you've already talked to about learning more or something like that). Next, volunteer to go on team-ups with them to go teach investigators. Then, on Sundays, give them some sort of snack that they can take home and eat later that night. Yeah, our members treat us that awesome! They are the greatest. I just feel bad because I definitely did not treat our missionaries that well, so you should definitely do that. We get fed everyday, and a lot of the members take us out to eat so it's fantastic. So please do that! They will love you for it! 

General Conference: 
Okay so we've been reading a ton of old Ensigns and we are reading all the general conference talks and they are AMAZING! We are getting so pumped for it.  You should definitely watch all the sessions because they are just too good to pass up. Also,  try and invite someone over for lunch or dinner to watch it with you. I promise that you and them will be inspired! 

Spiritual Thought: 

Safety for the Soul -Jeffrey R. Holland 
"I ask that my testimony of the Book of Mormon and all that it implies, given today under my own oath and office, be recorded by men on earth and angels in heaven. I hope I have a few years left in my “last days,” but whether I do or do not, I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true, that it came forth the way Joseph said it came forth and was given to bring happiness and hope to the faithful in the travail of the latter days."

You have to go watch this

I ask that you go and watch this and then ask how you can strengthen your personal witness of the Book of Mormon...then go do it. 

I love you all and hope everything is going well! Have fun at General Conference
(By the way, Me and my companion are in the Pioneer Park Ward in the Fresno North Stake. Hopefully that clarifies things for you Ma!)

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fresno Days (Dinnerware?)

Nyob zoo 'os! 

How's it going? Everything is going great in the CFM! Yesterday, I had my first baptism which was extremely exciting. We had a great program, and a lot of ward members came and supported her. Overall, just awesome. We have the best ward in the church. They are super supportive of missionary work and love to feed us so :) . 

Also, I wanted to thank you for my awesome package (the clif bars...yum, the mango is all gone so...yum too, and the letter stuff...super helpful).

Funny for the week: 
We are eating dinner and there's Hmong sausage on this funny looking plastic plate. Anyways, I just kept eating...then Elder Burton lifts it up and says: "Umm...yeah its a Frisbee." So just so you know, sporting equipment is truly multi-purpose. If you run out of plates, don't forget about the disc golf Frisbees in the garage. Hilarious. 

The Work: 
One of the things were thinking of starting in our area is a Hmong reading/writing class at the church building so that'll be interesting if that works out. I heard that Sacramento has one and that it is really good for finding people and practicing Hmong. 
We are working on finding more people right now so that's exciting. I love tracting and talking to new people, its so much fun.

Spiritual Thought: 
This week I was studying "Preach My Gospel" and came across a study activity that was really good. It was trying to teach about the importance of effective gospel study. It asked the question: How did Joseph Smith's personal study change the world? Joseph Smith studied the bible and really pondered about his question before he went and prayed. Do we think he would have received the answer he did, if he didn't go and study it out first? The next question was: How did Joseph Smith's study change your life? The Restoration started with his simple question. It started with his personal study. Its amazing when you think of how influential his study of the scriptures really was. However, do we feel the same way about our studies? Do we consider them to be life changing, let alone world changing? Perhaps if we did, we might make more time for them. I know that as a missionary, our personal and companionship studies are extremely important, but they are also critical for everyone else. It does not matter if we are a member or an investigator, our study of the gospel will change our life, whether by small degrees or huge leaps. I invite all of you to take time every day to study the gospel and really find the treasures in the scriptures and in the gospel. 

Love you all so much! I appreciate all your love and support!!! 

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem Xai Yob Vaj

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fresno Days (09/17/2012)

Nyob Zoo! [Hello Family!]
So life is going really well. We are preparing for the baptism on Sunday so that's exciting. Loved your spiritual thought too! Still working on Hmoob so its coming right along. I don't have a ton of time today to write but I'll give you some quick highlights. 

We painted a garage/office. (It was awesome but I definitely have removed "painter" off of my possible future career list)

My Hmoob dad (the people that gave me my name) is now on the high council so super sad because he won't be able to do as much in the ward anymore.

Had Chipotle with some members that signed up on the dinner calender...AmAzInG 

Went on exchanges again, I was in charge of our area for a day and a half so pretty crazy having to do everything with another Elder that didn't speak Hmoob. 

Got a small taste of "English work"...went to followup on a list of names our ward clerk gave us. The one person just yelled at us through the door, so that was fun... apparently the Hmong people we were looking for moved 3 years ago so super sad.  

We had crawdads, ribs, rice and kua txob, and mash-potatoes for a meal...super random and awesome! 

Anyways, that is some of the stuff happening in Pioneer Park (East Side). 

Spiritual thought: 
"We have to forgo the things in the moment, for the things that matter most." -Elder Caprio 

I think we forget this all the time. Success does not come without sacrifice. Exaltation does not come without sacrifice. We have to make the sacrifice! Nobody else can do it for us. So, let us all ask ourselves the question: What do we need to give up? What do we need to sacrifice to come closer to Christ? If we do this then we will truly become better disciples of Christ. 

I love you all and apologize this letter is short. Also, sorry that I am not able to write back to everyone yet...I'm working on it. :) 
Kuv hlub Nej! [Love You]

Tseem Fwv Leem "Xai Yob" Vaj 

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fresno Days (About that fork...)

Nyob Zoo tsev neeg!  (Hello Family)

Things are going really well here in Fresno! We have a baptism on the 23rd so that is really exciting. Elder Golden of the Seventy came and spoke to us yesterday and his message was awesome. He and Sister Golden are from South Africa so their accents were super strong! 

Funny stories for the week: 
There is an awesome old guy from Laos and we went and visited him yesterday (he's a recent convert). Every time we come over, he always tells us that we should marry a Hmong girl or a Thai girl or a Laotian girl because if we do, then we'll learn more languages and if you know more languages you make more money. He's always saying: "English girls only know one language! But if you marry a Hmong, Lao, or Thai girl, she knows 2 or 3 languages and then you learn the languages and make more dolla." And when it’s all in Hmong it’s even funnier! It’s really hard to communicate with the older people.  As missionaries, we just do our best.  Old Hmoob people are the best, though! They are so nice and just love to talk to us about everything. Most of the men who came from Laos served in the army and it’s crazy to hear their stories about the war. 

Also, this week we went to a ladies house for dinner but there was no male person in the home so we had to sit in the doorway to eat. Of course with my luck, as we were almost wrapping up the lesson/meal, I accidentally slammed my hand down on my fork that then goes flying out the open door onto the sidewalk. In English this would turn into an awkward conversation, but in Hmong it’s just 10x more awkward. Super all kinds of laughing, though, from my companions. 

Still doing awesome! Had chicken feet again...I really have to take some pics of it and send it to you guys! (Quote: "Just chew the soft bones") 
We eat bamboo and pho more often now. Pho is awesome especially with all the different stuff you can put in it (chili garlic sauce, kua txob, sugar  if you want, just so many possibilities)

Things have been going really well. We teach a lot of less active members and are trying to help them get back to church. Also, we went on exchanges last Tuesday so I had an English elder from Auberry with me so that was really interesting. We went tracting and I held a 40 minute conversation with a Green Hmoob Husband and a White Hmoob wife. Overall, pretty awesome! 

Favorite Scripture: 
Joshua 1:9
I really like how the Lord commands us to be of good courage and be not afraid. He commands us. He isn't saying: it’s a good idea not to fear, but rather He commands us. Also, it gives us comfort that the Lord is with us. He is there to support us through all our trials if we are willing to listen to His voice. 

I love you all so much! The work is going well! Make sure you feed the missionaries and give them people they can go see! Love ya!

Elder Tseem Fwv Leem Xai Yob Vaj 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Fresno Days (In the Vineyard)

Nyob Zoo! (Hello Family!)

Thov txim rau qhov vim hais tias kuv email hnub no. Peb muaj preparation day hnub no. [Sorry I didn’t write an e-mail on Monday]  We have preparation day today and next Tuesday instead of Monday because of zone meetings etc. We have a member of the Quorom of the Seventy coming so that’s pretty cool. 

Some awesome stuff happened this week: 
We got to go to the grape vineyard and do a ton of grape picking. I was a cutter so I was all up in the vines working hard cutting grapes out. Pioneer Park is the Hmong Ward and they are awesome. We had close to 150 show up for this so we started at 6ish and finished around 9 so it was awesome. It was the best service ever. The Hmoob ladies gave us medical masks b/c of all the dust and we had gloves so we were decked out in our Hmoob vineyard gear! Literally working in the Lord's vineyard! 

(This picture was sent via text from a ward member's phone.  We were SO excited to get it!)

We had an investigator commit to a baptismal date for the end of this month so super exciting. We are doing a lot of work with finding and also less active members so the work is moving right along. Tonight and all of tomorrow, Elder Burton is going on exchanges with another companionship in Auberry (Burton is a district leader so he has to go check up on different areas to see how the work is going in our district). Therefore, I have to lead our area the next day and a half and make sure it doesn't crash and burn :) Should be fun! 

Today we also got to go to the temple so that was good. We go once every 3 months so very awesome. President Gelwix met our zone outside and gave us some awesome counsel. He said, "Listen for that which isn't being spoken...analyze your feelings and thoughts and learn what the Spirit is trying to teach you." So it totally changed my perspective on stuff at the temple. I've always gone trying to look for deeper messages but really, we should be thirsting for the spiritual and personal revelation that will guide us in our personal journey and conversion. I love Pres. Gelwix! I promise that if you go to church, read the scriptures, go to the temple, etc. with an attitude of "WHAT IS THE SPIRIT TRYING TO TEACH ME?" you will find the answers to the questions you long for. You will feel Heavenly Father speaking peace and comfort to your heart and mind, and you will know what to do. 

Spiritual thought: 
Apparently when the Spaniards came to the Americas, there was a commander of a group of soldiers that was pitted against the Aztec empire. They were grossly outnumbered and defeat seemed imminent. However, their boats were sitting in the bay. Therefore, there was solace to be found in the possible escape route which could lead them safely home to their families if they had to retreat. The commander knew his men and knew what he had to do. He unloaded all the supplies off the ships and onto the beach. Then he ordered the ships to be set on fire. Why did he do that? Why would you cut away your only way of retreat? He did it because his men had to know that failure was not an option for them. They had to conquer their enemy or die. There was no looking at the ships while the enemy swarmed them. They had to focus solely on the war at hand. Any distractions would have cost them everything. What things keep us from focusing on the Lord’s work? Do we try to fall back on old ways? What boats do we look at when the battle is raging in front us? We learned that we must (as missionaries) burn all are boats in order to focus on the work. Also, investigators must burn all their boats; alcohol, old friends, everything that keeps them from coming closer to the Lord. It’s going to be hard. The war is not easy. But it demands everything of us, and until we give it, we cannot and will not be successful. So burn your boats!!! Awesome lesson from zone leaders!

I love you all so much and appreciate all your help and support! Kuv hlub Nej tiag tiag! kuv tsev neeg zoo tshaj plawm! [How “I love you all so much and appreciate all your help and support!” is written in Hmong]

kev Hlub [Love]
Es Daws Tseem Fwv Leem 'Xai Yob' Vaj

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicken Feet

Nyob Zoo kuv tsev neeg! (Hello my family)

This week has been going pretty well. Highlights include: Eating some chicken feet..."just chew the soft bones, spit out the others." Surprisingly delicious. Also, I got to eat some great pho (Vietnamese soup, pronounced Fa). There are these sweet old peanut farmers named Pab Zeb and Mili and they made the best pho ever. We also found new investigators this week which has been the answer to tons of prayers. We went and found one on the weekend in this apartment complex. It’s crazy though, because on the weekends, that is when all the "jingle bells" take place (jingle bells are ua neeb; shaman rituals etc.). Another crazy thing that happened was when we went to go visit a less active member, we were about to get out of our car when we heard a couple yelling at one another (not nice words about inappropriate things and drugs etc.). They were both men and the one was storming down the street and the other one was in a door way so it was all kinds of craziness on that street. So when I got out of the car, I walked up to some Hmoob lady that had been watching the whole thing and was just like "Nyob Zoo" "Koj nyob li cas?" (Hello, how are you?)   Super funny, b/c I just pretended like nothing happened when it had obviously just went down. Old hmoob lady...super nice. All the old people call you son if you’re younger and if you’re familiar with the older people you call them dad, mom, grandpa etc. :) Also, just to fill you in on some of the obvious that i forgot to mention. I live in Fresno. I am in the Fresno East Area. Elder Doane is in the Fresno West area. There is one companionship for each (hmoob speaking). So, me and Elder Burton operate on the east side. We live right next to the airport (Google earth that if you want to try and find it). We live in a gated community right across the street and there is an Army National Guard aviation repair depot right in that corner of the airfield. It’s so great. Every day we run past all the helicopters (Blackhawks, Apaches, Chinooks) during our morning jog. Totally want to be a helicopter pilot...just kidding.... 

Anyways, I'll answer dad's questions now. 1st week was kinda crazy but still awesome. We don't speak Hmoob as much as I would like but that just means I'll need to work harder on finding older people to teach etc. President and Sister Gelwix are awesome. He is super inspirational and just gets you fired up. His way of teaching is very unique because he takes nontraditional routes. For instance, he reads scriptures by explaining what it doesn't say. EX: 1 Ne 3:7--"I will go and do because it'll be easy. I will go and do because I know exactly what to do. I'll go and do when I feel like it. No it says he'll go and DO!!!" It’s great. It really puts scriptures in better perspective. Next question to answer: The bike is assembled and ready to go. However, we have a car so we haven't biked at all yet. We have such a large area so its kinda crazy. Food is great here. The spiciness is a killer but it’s so good now. Sticky Rice and kua txob (peppers) are the best! Anyways, the work is going great. 

Spiritual Thought: 
Joshua 1:9 
Great scripture... definitely in my top 2. We have no need to fear because the Lord is with us through it all. Read and ponder and apply!!!

Love you much! Good luck back home! 

Es Daws Fwv Leem (or full name: Es Daws Tseem Fwv Leem Xai Yob Vaj)