Monday, September 22, 2014

Transfer 1, Week 4

Hey! I'm glad to hear from all my friends.

It's been a great week. Every week's a great week when you choose to be happy. :)

This week, I want to write about Fernando. He's this very friendly man from Sri Lanka, who has lived in Canada for a while now.

A week or so ago, Fernando approached us, crying about his wife, Pania.

His wife is in New Zealand. She has cancer, and Fernando barely has enough money to pay for her chemotherapy treatments. He's living very humbly right now. He was very worried about her, so we prayed with him that he could be comforted. We also arranged to meet later at the library.

There, he told us all about how the prayer we said with him enabled him to sleep well that night for the first night in weeks. He mentioned how he goes through bouts of anxiety and depression from worrying about his wife, Pania, but that our prayer enabled him to find peace.

We sent missionaries to his wife in New Zealand, using the form. They successfully contacted her and gave her a blessing, with Fernando on the phone to translate. He explained how it was a deeply spiritual experience for both him and Pania. His wife was formerly Buddhist, but ever since that blessing, she wants to become a Christian. Fernando mentioned how his wife was able to significantly reduce the amount of pain medications she was taking since the blessing. Wow. He thanked us profusely and wants us to baptise him and his wife. He says he's had a lot less worry since we've come into his life.

Christ's Atonement is powerful. The priesthood power of God allows us to help others. I know it.


Here's a picture from the conference where we met and learned from Elder Craig A. Cardon, of the Seventy. I'm in the top row, on the far right of the picture. I just don't have enough time to write about that too.

-Elder Crye

Monday, September 15, 2014

Transfer 1, Week 3


It's been a pretty decent week.

I'm a little disappointed that not many of our investigators showed up to church. Don't they understand that church helps them build a relationship with God?

Last week, my companion and I took a selfie at the temple in Brampton, Ontario. It's literally right next to the chapel that we attend on Sundays. We also had Zone Conference for the missionaries and Stake Conference for all the members around here. I'll probably write a bit about those next week.

There's this investigator we've been teaching. Her name's Sobriety and she's from Guyana. She flagged us down, literally from a 5th-story balcony as we were walking past her building. Her life's a bit of a struggle. Her husband, Rohan, has cancer, arthritis, diabetes, and is mostly deaf. (No, they don't know ASL - I wish...) They came to Canada so that he could get chemotherapy. She's like the perfect housewife - she works very hard and keeps the house spotless. The thing is... she can't read.

So, the past two weeks, we've been teaching her English as a Second Language (ESL) on top of sharing brief messages about Jesus Christ.

Last week, we were struggling to get through the alphabet. We were teaching her the sounds for each letter, and we could barely make it from A to F. Then, out of nowhere, on Tuesday she could read! It was amazing! My companion and I just looked at each other, mouths open. Somehow, we got from barely being able to make out the sounds for each letter to being able to read nice, complicated sentences like "You can know for yourself that these things are true by asking your Heavenly Father in prayer." She could actually read that. Slowly, of course, but she could make sense of it. Whoa.

She later related to us that over the weekend, when her son and husband were out of the house, she knelt down in prayer on her balcony. She asked God sincerely, to the point of tears, for help in learning to read. After that experience, she could read. We asked her if she'd ever been able to read before. She responded in the negative. Wow.

It reminds me of some scripture verses I've been sharing a lot recently, found in the Book of Mormon. In Alma 7:11-13:

"And [Christ] shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people,

And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.

Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me."

From these verses, we understand that Christ's Atonement, or sacrifice, covers a lot more than just sin. A lot of times, we tend to think of it as just being a tool to allow us to repent of our sins. However, it covers all your pains, sicknesses, feelings of regret, guilt, or shame, that brief feeling that hurts you when someone says something that you don't appreciate, and really just about anything.

It even covers all the little mistakes you make when you're trying to learn something. Through Christ's Atonement, you can call down the powers of Heaven to help you improve at something, or in learning something new. That's what Sobriety did this week, and it was amazing.

Christ knew of these prophesies when he ministered among the Jews. He knew that he'd feel all these pains for every single person that ever walked the earth, was walking the earth, or would walk the earth. And he still made that sacrifice for us, because he loves us.

I know that He lives.

-Elder Crye

How I Email Home

This week, a few people asked how I email home.

On preparation days, usually Monday, some other missionaries and I visit the local library and use their laptops.

Alternatively, the Family History Center at our chapel has some computers that we could use, but we've mainly been going to the library.

No. Unfortunately, we don't have iPads yet.

Yours truly,
Elder Crye

Monday, September 8, 2014

MTC / Provo Temple Pictures

Here are the pictures that Elder Gary Crye sent me to have it posted here.


Transfer 1, Week 2


It's been a great week.

It's been a lot of fun. I have some pretty good stories.

1) Investigator Drama

[Note: 'Investigator' is a term that we use to describe someone 'investigating' the church.]

There's this investigator, named Lamar*. We've met him once, taught him a single lesson, and then we set a return appointment. We passed him a day or so later on the sidewalk and said hello. That night, he canceled our return appointment for unspecified reasons.

A few days later, we get a call from Sister Palmer, the Church Public Affairs Agent in the area. She tells us that Lamar was threatening attorneys saying that we were bothering him.

Okay, then. Sorry for saying hello. We won't contact him again.

Later that night, the Mission President over all of the Canada Toronto Mission, President Clayton, texted us saying he wanted to see us. Wow. This must've been serious.

Well, his visit had nothing to do with Lamar. He just wanted to come work with us for the evening. That was a lot of fun, but that might have to be a story for another time. We laughed about Lamar.

2) The Stormy Friday Night

At about 7:30pm Friday, Elder Mangakahia and I were left without anything scheduled besides just finding potential investigators. We had just finished teaching a lesson. The sun was going down in a glorious sunset and it was nice and warm. However, about two or three minutes after we stepped outside, a strong, cold breeze blew. Thick, dark clouds rapidly covered the sky. The temperature dropped dramatically - we thought it might hail. Suddenly, it was pouring rain. This wasn't just a drizzle, it was the kind of weather you really shouldn't be outside in. It was the kind of weather that would break cheap umbrellas. That is, if we had any umbrellas with us.

There was nobody outside, so we decided to go tracting. In the rain. We knocked on a few doors in the immediate vicinity. No answer. We finally got someone to answer the door at a house down the road, but they weren't interested in our message at all. They, if anything, were irritated that we interrupted their 8pm dinner. We continued down the road. A few houses later, this man named Sam ran after us, waved us down, and gave us an umbrella. He then ran back to that one house that answered the door. We were a little discouraged by this point, but life was good - we now had an umbrella. 

I kept laughing - the whole situation of being off in Canada... in the pouring rain... and knocking on peoples doors with absolutely no success is still pretty absurd to me. Perhaps that's a normal experience for the veteran missionaries out there. Our approach clearly wasn't working. So, we did what any missionary would do and prayed for inspiration on where to go. 

Both Elder Mangakahia and I got this feeling that there was somewhere that we needed to be, but that we were in the wrong place. We played a game of warmer/colder directly to this one specific house several blocks away. We knocked, and a man named Ned answered. He was curious and we shared the entire story of the Restoration with him at his door, and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon. He has a close friend from our church that attends the chapel to the outside of our boundaries to the northeast. He wasn't interested in a return appointment, but he committed to praying about our message and said he'd talk to his friend about it. 

That story's cool, just because of the experience in finding Ned. The Spirit can really guide us.

3) The First Lesson on the Temple Grounds

We have this 16-year-old investigator, Gurpreet. He showed up to church after just a street contact, inviting him to church, and handing him a card with the chapel's address. He's this really bright, very independent kid. We weren't able to meet with him for a lesson last week, but this week he showed up to church again. He likes it a lot. However, the especially cool part is what happened afterwards. We offered to ride the bus home with him - he, like Elder Mangakahia and I, uses the bus system as his primary method of transportation. 

We were walking out of the chapel towards the bus stop when he asked us a few questions about the temple that we were walking past. The gate was open, so we suggested that we all walk around the temple grounds. He agreed to that suggestion. So, we walked around the temple and discussed our missionary work.

Somehow, the conversation led to baptism, and he was interested. He had no idea what baptism was, so we explained it to him. He liked the idea, and asked what he needed to do to be baptized. Elder Mangakahia and I looked at each other, somewhat in shock - this was perhaps the best investigator ever.

We handed him one of the calendars that we use to help people track their reading/praying - to visually see their progress in coming closer to God - and flipped it over to the back. The back has a little checklist of the things you need to do to prepare for baptism. Some of the items have some LDS jargon like "Word of Wisdom," but it's generally pretty understandable for investigators. We explained that a large part of our work as missionaries is to get people to understand all the items on the checklist. Gurpreet then asked about Joseph Smith. Elder Mangakahia and I looked at each other again. This was indeed the best investigator ever. 

Elder Mangakahia and I then taught the entire message of the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ on the earth. We taught about how God is our loving Heavenly Father. How He loves families and blesses them. How He calls prophets on the earth to teach people how to get closer to God. How prophets have authority, much like how police officers have the authority to give you a traffic ticket and ice cream trucks don't. How you can ask God if prophets are actually called of God. How all the prophets taught about Jesus Christ. About how people gradually reject prophets and fall away from God. About how this is a pattern that's happened throughout history. About how Christ came to the earth. About Christ's Atonement - that sacrifice and subsequent resurrection - that Christ did out of love for us. About how Christ and his Apostles, and thus that authority, was lost from the earth. About how a new prophet was needed. And about Joseph Smith. Convincing evidence of what we've said is the Book of Mormon. Joseph Smith uncovered it, and translated it by the power of God. It's another testament of Jesus Christ. You can find out, for yourself, if all these things are true by learning about them and then praying about it.

And so, we taught the entire first lesson on the temple grounds. That's the kind of story you can tell to your kids about how you converted.

Not just that, but he said he really wanted to be baptized. We told him to pray about it first, but that we were very excited for him.

4) Lesson from a Catholic

We met a guy on the street, inviting him to pray about the brief message that we shared. The thing I really like is something he shared with me - that he really appreciates the way we do what we do. We INVITE. We don't just tell people that things are true. We invite them to find out for themselves.

It's been a great week. Being a missionary is fun.

With love,
Elder Crye

*Names of people not directly affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been changed. I'm getting a little sick of putting this asterisk on each email I send home, so this is the last time it'll be here.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

First Week in Toronto

Just finished up my first week here in the Toronto area. It's been a great first week.

I'm in Brampton, so something like 30 minutes northwest of Toronto proper. Specifically, I'm in the Heartlake South area. It's pretty packed here, but there's only a few skyscraper/apartment buildings in the area. It's interesting because there's literally this underground culture - almost every house has another tenant in their basement. I've met people of all different religious beliefs: Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, Muslims, Jews, Christians of all denominations, Buddhists, and a few athiests. Haven't met any Confucians or Shinto (Japanese religion) believers yet though, so I can't cross that off yet. :) Everyone's so diverse here, it's crazy.

The weather's been great so far. Nice and sunny. It's definitely more humid than Utah though, and there are no mountains to be seen. The only sources of direction I have are streets (with not-so-useful names like Queen Street, instead of 700 North) and the sun when it's still up.

My companion is Elder Mangakahia, from Melbourne, Australia. He's great. We get along really well. He's all I ever could've hoped for in a companion. He was formerly a professional ballet dancer that performed in the Sydney Opera House. He's a great example for me, especially with contacting people on buses. He's so great at striking up conversation with people and then redirecting it to the gospel of Jesus Christ or missionary work.

For those of you that this means something to, my companion is our District Leader, and this week, we achieved all Standards of Excellence!

This week, I want to share a few stories. 

The first story is that of our investigator, Duna*. She's this really nice Hindu woman from India. She's a grandmother, who lives with some of her children and grandchildren. Communication with her is a little difficult since her English isn't great, but she can understand simple terms very well. This week, we taught Duna about the Plan of Salvation. She likes everything that we taught and she has a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon and the Restoration. However, she doesn't want to be baptized. In her words, in her heart she really wants to be baptized, but in her head she doesn't want to, since she says it won't work out. Her entire family is Hindu, and she doesn't want to convert since she would likely be ostracized. Having investigators with testimonies not getting baptized due to their families is heartbreaking.

The other story is a time when I could really feel the Spirit. It's the story of when we met with Raj*. Raj is a former investigator that we met on the sidewalk last week. Raj is this Hindu man with a firm belief in "All religions - one God." As I would later find out, he was previously dropped for not following up on commitments to pray about what was taught, etc. We met him on the sidewalk and he asked us to come over later that week. Even from a former investigator, having someone invite you into their house to share a message, unprompted, is an offer that you don't turn down as a missionary. We got there and he had some juices laid out on a table for us, surrounded by a few chairs for us to sit down on. He wanted to share a bit about his beliefs with us, so we agreed to spending the time roughly half/half. The most interesting part is what happened roughly in the middle of our meeting when we began to share our message. It was absolutely fascinating, since there was some back and forth as we were beginning. Whenever he would speak, primarily in his belief about this Diety Cycle, I could not feel the Spirit at all. When we would share, and bear testimony, the Spirit would come rushing back so strongly. Perhaps it was the contrast that made it so much more memorable, but that was a day that I could really feel the power of what we were sharing. Long story short, Raj refused to pray about the message we shared on the grounds that he had already logically deduced that his religious beliefs were true.

Those were some of the more interesting, but disappointing, stories of the week. We've had a lot of success though. This week at church, several of our investigators came, including one that we just invited to church on a street contact and haven't taught yet. That was very exciting. 

Life's been good here in Brampton. It's also great having the only temple in Ontario within our area. So many people know where the temple with the little golden angel on top is.

With love,
Elder Crye

*Names have been changed