Tuesday, August 26, 2014

I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike

Hi everybody!
This week has been much less eventful than last week, but super busy!
Lots of biking, service, fasting, teaching, biking, service and talking to people. Oh and biking. But today I found out that I am now authorized to drive when necessary! Hopefully that means I get a car soon! Not necessarily likely, but I can always hope, but then again, so can my somewhat torn pant legs.

Last pday after we said bye, I got to write letters, and play sports with other missionaries in the zone. We played marshmallow dodge ball for the majority of the time we had. it was pretty ridiculous and fun! And apparently marshmallows hurt when thrown! it was way fun though!

Elder Lyden and Elder Griffin
This week we had a special missionary training with Elder Johnson (there are about 8 of them in my mission) of the Area 70. It was way good and he emphasized how if someone isn't progressing, you don't need to keep teaching them! We had been praying about what to do with several investigators who weren't progressing and there it was plain and simple for us. Now we have been working on getting the ward to help out more and a few other investigators.

One family that I'm really excited about is the Mitmas. They're a part member family. The mom is single and has been inactive for a few years, but she is working on coming back and we're super excited for her! She has two daughters, ages 8 and 10, who have almost no church background, but they are super excited to be learning about the gospel and I'm so excited to teach them. They taught Elder Lyden and I a lesson on how we need to teach much much much more simply! We had to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ discussion 3 times before we finally made it simple enough! But it was a great learning experience for them and now we're really helping them to progress! They even came to church! I'm so excited!

We have dinner appointments almost every night and the members in the ward are so giving, even though many of them they don't have much.

So the other day I found a package on my door step and I was so so excited! I thought I finally got my package from Marlee! But guess what! I decided to refrain from opening it till after planning time that evening! And the anticipation was killing me! But guess what! It was JCPenny's giving me short sleeve Sunday shirts -- still exciting, but I have to admit I felt a bit foolish for thinking it was from Marlee! I love the shirts though, it has been such a huge blessing! Thanks Mom!

The Cuevas are super amazing! They're like home away from home! And they always have someone to help us give service to. Last week we helped them clean up their neighbor's yard (I think you have pictures) and removing a tree trunk! We have also been helping them with different things and they even coordinated our media blitz.

This morning we were getting ready to go to the store for pday and guess who shows up? The infamous JW's! Ahhhh!! But guess what, my companion was in the bathroom and so I was just polite and they realized that it wasn't going to help them any to bother us and so they left. But unfortunately the Spanish Elders came to pick us up at the exact wrong time and so the JW's decided to bother them in the parking lot, keeping them from helping us take out all of the garbage we cleaned out from the last several months of trash build up (my apartment was kinda gross, but not anymore). We ended up talking with them for an hour and pretty much established nothing except they have some weird translation of the Bible and that our faith is founded upon solid personal revelation and there's... isn't.
Spokane, Washington LDS Temple

It was a big faith builder for us and really showed how true the gospel is to us and how happy it can make us. And also that some people think God is confusing, but he isn't. so yeah. my first run-in with the JW's and I came out with unshaken faith!

Sunday morning we helped move out some of our favorite members. It was really sad. They used to always feed us and were just the most fun and best inactive members ever! haha. pretty much they believed everything, They just didn't like the ward or something. Part of it was that the son (28 yrs old) had his wife cheat on him and went through a messy divorce and so he didn't like going to church and having people ask him about it all the time. It was sad to hear.

A few things that I've noticed about Spokane: Everyone smokes. I mean everyone! Many of the LA members are LA because they feel guilty about their smoking habits. Also, most people we meet are on their second marriage. A lot of broken homes. It's really sad to see.

However, most of the second marriages are really happy together and seem like things will be okay from now on. It rains about once a week and when it does it's just beautiful. something interesting is that it always feels like the sky is closer here than in Utah. It's hard to explain. Oh! And the Spokane temple is tiny! like two of it could fit in the St George temple! I couldnt even believe how small it was! Basically the size of the Telegraph chapel!

Today we cleaned our apartment for most of the morning, went to the store, went bowling for free and ate pizza at a bowling alley outside Cheyney and now we're at the stake center emailing and stuff. This evening we get to meet with the Mitmas again and hopefully it will go really well!

That's about everything that's happened! Oh, and I got my first relic from my mission! a little cast iron toy truck! it's super cool! When I get the chance Ii'll send pictures of it!

Hope everything is well at home! Things are great out here and the work is moving forward so quickly! I find myself sometimes dreaming about teaching now! it's the funniest thing! I love you all and I pray for you often! be safe and know that this church is so true!

-Elder Bryce Griffin

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Monday, August 18, 2014

Chatting with Bryce

Email conversation between Bryce and I early Monday afternoon as he experiences his first P-day in the mission field.

BRYCE: I'm on! Hey Dad, I'm not sure if this is when I will usually be on, but it sounded that way!
DAD: Hey, man, how was your first week as a real missionary?!
BRYCE: Crazy! I'm working on my weekly letter right now!
DAD: Being a missionary is cool, huh?
BRYCE: It's definitely interesting a lot of the time!
DAD: You guys tract a lot or how do you get your people to teach?
BRYCE: Mostly street contacting and referrals. I haven't knocked any doors yet. Most people sit out on their porches in the evenings, so we talk to them while we're riding around on our bikes.
DAD: Ya gotta love those porch monkeys! Is the weather nice?
BRYCE: High 80's and kinda humid, I sweat all the time! Better than St George though!
DAD: Yeah, that should be nothing for you after working out in the heat. You like your comp? He's pretty new too, eh?
BRYCE: Yeah, Elder Lyden is awesome! He's been out for 3 months (two transfers) and just finished being trained and now he's district leader and my trainer!
DAD: Holy crap, that's quick! How many in your district? Where's he from?
BRYCE: Kearns, Utah. Um... 2 sets of sisters and some spanish elders and the Russian Elders. Can you send me the lyrics to I'll Find You My Friend? Maybe have Marlee mail them to me? I dont have a printer I can use right now.
DAD: Wait, you have Russian speaking Elders?
BRYCE: Yes, they were pulled out of Ukraine and sent here.
DAD: Ohhh, that makes sense. Are there any Russians for them to teach or are they just speaking English?
BRYCE: They somehow find them, not sure how many people they have to teach though. Oh and FB friend Sister Cuevas! There will be a bunch of pics of me because of the media blitz to combat the Book of Mormon musical that's playing at the local theater here in town. Apparently it really bashes missionaries, which is just sad since we give up 2 years of our life to go serve people.
DAD: OK, I will. Yeah, that musical is pretty sacrilegious, but any publicity is good pub, right?
BRYCE: Exactly, it definitely helped people become aware of us, and we put out a bunch of stuff on Facebook to help show that we aren't what the musical says we are
DAD: They did a thing on the news about how the church should be protesting, but I think the church is smart -- just leave it alone, let people have their fun, and then explain the truth to them.
BRYCE: That's pretty much what we've been doing, not protest, but use the attention to teach people what we're really about!
DAD: How long you guys going to be there?
BRYCE: At the computer lab? probably just a few more minutes.
DAD: Oh, OK, anything you need from us? Sounds like your area's a bit scary, huh?
BRYCE: A little, but we're protected! I could probably use a couple short sleeved shirts? Also if you send me packages, try to send healthy-ish treats. I am so over sweeted at this point. Any idea who sent me the popcorn factory stuff? It was good!
DAD: Yeah, that was Mom! We'll have to find you some shirts and have them shipped direct to you.
BRYCE: Yeah, you can send letters to the address you got, packages too, but i think i have to go to the post office to get them. How's Holly and Dallas?
DAD: Holly is great. She likes Mr. Ivie, at least so far and seems to enjoy school. Dallas is good, starting Dixie State next week.
BRYCE: Can you have Marlee email me? I dont have her email address memorized and I dont know how to get her new address? Oh! and tell her happy birthday for me on Thursday! I'm planning on sending one more letter today and then not sending her any until she gives me her new apartment address. Did you get the weekly letter?
DAD: Yep, got it. You got enough money for food and whatever?
BRYCE: I think so, haven't really had to spend any yet, we go to the store as soon as I finish up here. I need to go now. I think I do need a micro sd converter so I can send you guys pictures. Time to say bye! Love you Dad! Talk to you next week! Give my love to the family!

DAD: K, love you son!!!!!!!!

First week in Spokane

Hey everyone!

So the first week has been super crazy!

My apartment is.... decent, some of the neighbors are pretty iffy though. Every night we have to be in the apartment before it gets too dark or else there will be druggies outside. Some of them were eyeballing my bike and it kinda made me nervous!

So far I've been bit by a dog, saw a swat team drive by for a drug bust, talked to homeless people smoking weed, helped someone move out of an... interesting situation, and rode my bike a ton and learned a little Russian! The members take really good care of us, we have meals planned for almost every night. my area isn't huge, but it is big for biking.

Elder Griffin and Elder Lyden (daddy!)
So Sunday morning we were riding around inviting people to come to church and guess what, we stop to talk to some people and their dog comes up to me and bites into my shoe! Then it went for Elder Lyden! It was funny, it only kinda hurt, didn't get through my shoe though. It was a really cool little example of how Heavenly Father cares about the little things, I almost wore my Hushpuppies, which are thinner leather and not as tough, but I decided to wear my other ones because it was Sunday and if I had worn the Hushpuppies I probably would've taken a big chunk out of my foot! But it just left a big dent in my Sunday shoes leather instead! It was awesome!

On Saturday, we were teaching a lesson at Roberto and Keala's house, which is on Boone. probably the most dangerous area in Spokane, definitely the most ghetto apartment Iv'e ever been in, and right in the middle of the lesson we hear a police car, and it was like okay. and then two and then we look out the window and see a swat team tank truck, 3 under cover swat trucks, 2 police cars and 3 undercover police suv's driving by! It was just like =O

On my first day, we went fear-busting and we went to "mission park" in downtown Spokane. Elder Beckstead decided that it would be good to go talk to the people there and so we walked around the park talking to homeless people and half of them were super high! it was crazy! everyone was super hardhearted though and we didn't have any good contacts, but I invited 3 high homeless people to be baptized! They all said they already had been and therefore didnt want anything to do with us. It was pretty funny!

Elder Lefler, Barbakov, Lyden and Griffin
My first night out here, we stayed in some member's homes, it was..... very interesting!
It was like a house of of a scary movie, complete with creepy porcelain dolls and random South American relics! It was way strange! It was super hot in the room I stayed in too, and at most of the windows they had the dolls perched so that they were standing in the window! it was creepy! the members were really nice though. they made us cereal for breakfast ha! But seriously, they were really nice.

During my first day in my area, we were called to help do a service project and when we called the guy, he said "Thanks so much! Just to warn you, you are walking into a highly volatile situation with crazy B***** from H***" and we were just like.... never accept a service project from the sister missionaries! haha! it wasn't actually that bad though, i guess the guy was moving out of his abusive girlfriends house, it was pretty weird. he had about 1000 pounds of ammunition in the basement! And there were buddah statues everywhere inside and out, so no Idea what the deal was with those people. it was pretty crazy!

Then later that day, we were riding our bikes through another not so nice area of our mission and a guy named "trip" riding a bright orange bike saw us and decided he wanted to talk to us, and so he followed us around talking about "only God can divide infinity, but if we have faith than we can divide infinity too! it says it in Corinthians and.... Etc Etc" it was super weird! and Elder Lyden, being the stud that he is decided to just start teaching him the restoration discussion and the guy kept rambling and i was just sitting there confused! it was pretty weird and funny!

At the end of that day, we were pretty discouraged cause none of the people we wanted to talk to were discouraged, but then we decided to talk to a guy sitting at a bus stop! his name was Sean, presently homeless, but he was super excited to learn about the gospel! he accepted a BoM and a restoration pamphlet and we're hoping he'll turn up soon! 

Bryce's bike
Also during that afternoon, we were riding our bikes around and found a guy named Dave (there are daves out here everywhere!) sitting on the side of the road dehydrated and stuff, we stopped and talked to him, and then we felt prompted to go and buy him some water from a 711 nearby and he was so very grateful! It made me feel so good to help someone in need! We were literally an answer to his prayers!

On Tuesday, we went to Russian lessons to support the Russian elders and sisters with their efforts to spread the gospel, it was crazy and I didnt understand most of it, but i'm sorta getting some of it. they do it every Tuesday evening at the chapel. it was just way random when i found out about the Russian companionships, apparently they can tell what houses have Russians in them because they have a vegetable garden and sunflowers in their front yards instead of flower gardens like most houses have..

Durning DL training meeting, I had to go on splits with some other elders who lived in "sherwood forest!" how random and hilarious was that!? it made me laugh and i need to get a picture with the sign sometime!

We had our media blitz on Saturday to combat the Book of Mormon Musical, which apparently bashes missionaries, so we were taking a bunch of pictures of missionaries doing what missionaries do! it was pretty nice because we had members giving us a ride all day Ha! and we did a bunch of service too! It was tons of fun! I had the opportunity to give my first blessing and i think it went well.

Spokane is way interesting! it's like cedar mountain, st george, las vegas, park city and salt lake city combined into one big city! its crazy! It's like cedar mountain because you'll be driving through the woods and just see houses throughout the trees, instead of cabins. it's way weird, like people are just used to seeing deer and elk and wild turkeys roaming through their yards!the big city, like down town is like vegas and park city because everything is so beat up and ghetto and there's random homeless people everywhere! but it's super weird because there are just huge forests everywhere around the city! also it seems like everyone and their dog smokes here! not to mention all the illegal stuff as well. 

Random side note though, I have been randomly cleaning the apartment and i kinda enjoy it? it's really weird!

Sorry my timeline is way confusing! it just seems like the days blur together!

Sunday was weird, We went to church and the ward was so small compared to ours back home! The chapel was about half the size of the Telegraph chapel and the seats were only half filled! I couldnt believe it! Unfortunately we didn't have any of our investigators come to church, but a lot of the less actives came and that was really good. 

I've decided that I love bus stops because its the easiest way to talk to people. They're everywhere and people pretty much are stuck there waiting so they are willing to chat! It's fun having a captive audience ha!

I think that's pretty much everything exciting that happened this week! 

Hope everything is well at home! love you!

-Elder Bryce Griffin