Monday, August 10, 2009

Received 8-10-2009 - Policemen and Bums in Wheelchairs‏

Hola Mi Familia and Mis Amigos,

I have to warn you, we had a new missionary conference in Ponce today which is about 2 hours from San Sebastian, so I had to wake up at 5:30 to get ready and to write some letters before we left. So if I seem a little off today, I'm sorry. Know that I love you and I'm not going crazy, just might be a little tired :)

Ian and Cody, good luck with your missions. That's so awesome. It'll be great to all be in the same army together. I can't imagine what it would've been like to fight in the army of Helaman with 2,000 other of my friends and compadres. But I have to imagine that it would feel a little something like missionary work. I love you both and wish you the best. Remember the most successful missionary is the Spirit. You are only there to deliver the message. The Spirit is the one that convinces.

Punky! Where the crap are you going.?!?!?!?! If he won't tell me, will someone else please tell me. haha I'm dying to know. Congrats on your call though man that's awesome

Week 3 of my time in Puerto Rico has come and gone. That's another week lived and another week loved. I want to thank you for all of your love and support this week. I received several letters from you all and it helped me so much. Thank you for your letters and your love. They seriously come right when I need them. It seems that any time that I am having a little rough spot or a hard day, a letter from one of you will come in the mail! Thank you so much for your love and support. I know that it is hard to do but it really does mean a lot to me!

This week has been great. I can tell that it's summer even though I live in a place where the temperature doesn't really change over the year. But now it is really hot! It gets up close to 100 every day, then the thunder storms roll in and cool everything off which is nice. It's so green and beautiful here. I hope that you all have the chance to visit someday. It's seriously something that you can't describe.

This week was busy! We had my first zone conference and my first Stake Conference on the mission. Both were great and I got to see the ocean both times which was cool. I really enjoyed what President Martineau talked about during our zone conference. He talked about being led by the spirit as opposed to having the spirit. Both are good but a good missionary will know what to do and where to go because he is being directed by the spirit. It was a great conference and I look forward to the next one. Another reason why it was so good was because I got to see all of the other elders that traveled to Puerto Rico with me. They are all in my zone apparently (Except for Elder Zenger, but I got to see him today) so it was way cool to talk with them and to share our experiences of our first weeks out in the real world in the real mission.

I don't know that I am 100% adjusted to the the mission life yet. I still think of home and think of what I would be doing right now and it's hard to imagine that I am living a completely different life now, doing completely different things. It's fun and difficult to adjust but I know that this is where I need to be, and where the Lord wants me to be. Because of that, I know that he will help me get to the point where I feel that this is my life.

One reason why I kept thinking about home this week was because school started here again today! Crazy huh mom? When does school start there? When does BYU start up? It's crazy to think that a year ago me and all my friends were going to our 1st year of college together. Crazy how much things have changed.

Well OK, I guess some of you might feel that this email is pointless, so I will start talking about some of the experiences that we had this week. This week was a good solid week of work! I enjoyed it. We didn't have a lot of appointments so we did a ton of tracting which is always fun. But we found a lot of great people who are interested which is definitely a good sign. We tracted into one family who is great. They have a 14 year-old son who reminded me a lot of Trent. He's a great kid and his family is really interested in the gospel. When we were teaching them they were way interested in our message about prophets and then we shared with them the Book of Mormon. We read the Introduction with them and they all had huge smiles on their faces. It was such a neat experience. They knew the book was true without even reading it or praying about it. It was definitely an experience that I will remember for a long time.

It was cool because what told them that the book was true, and what told them that our message was true, wasn't our words - it was the spirit. The spirit is the thing that testifies to people and that is something that I have already learned a lot on my mission. You can use all of the flattering words you want, but if you don't have the spirit with you, the people you are teaching aren't going to become converted and they aren't going to truly follow Christ. It's amazing how powerful the spirit is and I am so blessed to be able to be a part of the work where I can feel it every day.

We taught Victorio the plan of salvation this week. Victorio is like 65 years-old and I'm not sure what he really believes. He is very interested in the gospel and so we are really trying to teach him all we can. Anywho . . . we began teaching him about the pre-mortal life and he had all of these questions and doubts. He said that we were telling him a fantasy and that he doesn't believe in fantasies. He was questioning how God could make us all by himself. As soon as his said that I felt prompted to talk about how our parents in heaven are literally our parents. Luckily he speaks English but it was such a neat experience because we don't usually (actually we never) teach that deep. But I felt prompted to do it and the words that came out of my mouth were not mine and they touched him. He really liked what he was hearing and it made sense to him.

He then began to question the creation and Elder Blandon asked what he believed. He talked about the magnetic forces and stuff and Elder Blandon asked if this was imagination too. It was quite the comeback and he used the opportunity to teach about the importance of prayer. Right then Victorio prayed and I know that he felt something different. After the lesson, I asked Elder Blandon if he had ever askeded that question before and he said no. He said it just popped into his head. Holy cow! Wow! Yeah! The Lord is behind this work. There is no doubt in my mind. His hand is in everything and when we have the chance to realize what miracles He performs for us everyday it is incredible.

My scripture this week is a scripture that President Martineau uses all of the time. It's 3 Nephi 5:13. He always says make these words your words. I hope you will read it also and know that your time and call to be a disciple of Jesus Christ never ends.

OK well I hope that this letter was better then the last two weeks. My first one was a total meltdown and I feel sorry. Last week was just a mess because my mind was all over the place. If my emails need to improve just tell me.

Before I go I want to share with you two funny stories about my week. First was Thursday night we were walking back to our apartment and we saw a man in a wheelchair at the bottom of the hill trying to push himself up. We ran over and I pushed him up while Elder Blandon talked. He's a great guy. He's homeless and doesn't have a job, but he believes in Jesus and he goes and begs for money every day so that he can feed his family at night. It was a really cool experience to be able to serve him and push him up that hill. I don't think that I have ever felt love like that for a man that society avoids. I hope that you all look for those opportunities to serve those around you, even if they are those that society avoids.

And last but not least, my adventure today. We had to drive to Ponce and we were late. Luckily we caught up to the zone leaders on the freeway. I didn't know where we were going and so I was following them. They don't have a freeway system in Puerto Rico only a big "state street" type road that goes all the way around the island. Anywho . . . the speed limit is 55 and they were going about 75. I didn't want to get lost so I kept driving their speed. They changed lanes and slowed down and I kept going. Turns out they did this because there was a cop right in front of them. YEAH WOOPS! I got pulled over on my mission. Like the 3rd time driving. It was funny. The cop was a great guy though. I told him that I thought it was a freeway and he just told me to go slower next time. No ticket. No record. No anything. I'm sure it helped that I was shaking and that I was a lost Anglo. But he was such a nice guy and I know that the Lord blessed me not to have to pay a huge ticket. I learned a great lesson today. Never follow your leaders into dangerous places. And Cops are good People. I love them! Hahaha

I hope that this email was uplifting and humorous and that you could feel my love. I love you all so much. Grandma, Grandpa, Jenny, Family and Friends, thank you so much for your love and support. I love you all so much. I know that the Lord is blessing you for your love and support. I hope you know that I love you and miss you and that I am praying for you! Work hard and always follow the spirit and you will go far in life.

I hope that this email was better! Lemme know if it wasn't.

God Be with you until we meet again!

Your Missionary,

Elder Oviatt

Received 8-4-2009 - Week #2 in San Sebastian

Hola Again my Family and My friends!

It was such a blessing to receive your letters and to feel your love and support. Not only through your words, but also through your prayers. I prayed to God that He would be able to give me strength and I knew, that if I asked you all, that you would respond and you did! I want to thank you all for getting me back on my feet when I was down. I love you all so much and I can't wait to write to you all and tell you "thank you." If it takes me a while I'm sorry. But know that I love you all.

I also want to apologize for my letter last week. I sounded pretty down and I'm sorry. I am so happy to have to opportunity to serve the Lord. Last week was just totally overwhelming. If you don't know me that well you should know that me and my family and my friends are so close. Being separated from you and realizing that I won't see you for 2 years. And that I might not have the opportunity to see some of you ever again, was really hard for me. But you know what? This is where I am supposed to be and this is where the Lord and you all want me to be, so I am here. My dad gave me some great advice this week. You can't see the end even if you want to. The mission is an adventure and not a destination. You have to take it one day at a time and take it one step at a time. I have taken that to heart and it has really helped so thanks dad.

I want to thank those of you who wrote me this week. All your words were perfect and they helped so much. Jenny thanks for the pictures. It looks like you had a blast in Cancun!

If you have written me a letter while I have been out I want to thank you . . . all of you. I read every single letter that I have received during the time that I wasn't getting any because of the new address. There were words that you wrote 2 months ago that helped me last week so thank you all. I love you all and I miss you all. One day at a time and we are going to get through this together.

I hope you don't feel a burden that you have to write me a ton of letters. But your letters do help so much. Like I said last week they add fuel to my little testimony. Don't feel like you have to write me every single day. But if you ever miss me or want to talk, drop me a line! And I will try and write back. It's always great to hear about your life and what's going on back home. So thank you to those who responded to my plea.

I feel close to you when I read your words and sometimes I think about a fun experience we had. I cried for joy when your letters started coming in my new area. You are all angels from heaven. Thank you so much for your love and support. I know that the Lord is so happy with the way you have helped out his missionary.

Anywho, enough of the sob story material do you want to hear about San Sebastian?

San Sebastian is crazy pretty. So green! For those of you who think anywhere in the US is greener than here, I am sorry but Puerto Rico has you beat. I don't think that there are plants here that grow different colors other then green. I love it. The flowers are beautiful along with everything else. One thing that is taking awhile to get used to is the humidity. Puerto Rico of course is an island in the middle of the ocean but it is also a rain forest. Especially in the Mountains. It rains every day. The humidity is bad before it rains but man, it's rough after too. It's OK because your letters get me through the dripping sweat every day so yeah thanks again.

The people here are great. So loving and so unique. If you have ever been to Puerto Rico you will understand what I mean when I say that the people here live a different life. If you don't get what I mean then come visit because it's awesome.

The Branch here is great! They all do anything that they can to help the work progress which is such a help. It strengthens my testimony every time I see them come teach a lesson with us, or drive us up the mountain, and then come pick us up two hours later. (We are currently without a car and some roads are impossible to bike up.) I know that they want more sheep in His fold and it's a big testimony builder to see the length and the effort that they make to do so.

Our investigators rock! We have only a few but that's OK because we are working on getting a lot more. Tito is a 20 year-old guy who is way interested in the gospel and I think we are going to be having a baptism soon which is so exciting! :) Guanda has a nice little family and she is pretty interested in the gospel also. Those are the people that were investigating before I came. They are really far along and it's cool to see how they have changed. But what is really cool is to see the change in people from the start.

One of our new investigators is named Victorio. This guy is so awesome! I think I talked about him last week. He is open to learning about anything and he wants to know if the church is legit, and so he is doing all that he can to find out. Something that a lot of people struggle with here, not that they are bad people or anything, but a lot of people don't feel a need to change religions. I understand and respect that. But what I respect even more is someone who is willing to listen to what you have to say. And that's exactly what Victorio has done. Yesterday was awesome because we only taught him once and he showed up to church! I loved it! It got me so fired up to get out and keep teaching and keep finding those people who need the gospel in their lives.

Before I go I want to leave a quick testimony of how the Lord prepares people to hear the g ospel. We tracted into a pastor the other day and yesterday a man who would not listen to a word we had to say. The man yesterday said he already knew our message and when we asked him what we believed. Of course it was anti-mormon and filth and completely wrong. But he didn't want to change and he didn't want to know the truth. His heart was hard and the Lord would have no way to work with it. So we moved on. I know that there are people here that the Lord has prepared. There are those that he will lead is to. But without His influence and without the spirit those people won't be able to tune into our message and we will not be able to find them. The spirit is so important. Without it you are nothing. That is something that I have discovered this week.

Your words and letters help me to stay on top of things so that I can feel the spirit. Your words do not distract me at all but in fact help me to stay on top of things and feel that spirit. I love you all and your love and support is helping me to become the man and the missionary that the Lord wants me to be. This is His work! I am but a lowly servant trying to do the best that I can. Without Him I am nothing.

Thank you for your love and support. I realize that this email was a little all over the place.

I love you all so much and I can't wait until we meet again. Keep the support coming when you have time to give it. I love you so much and I know the Lord will bless you

Until next week, your Missionary

Elder Oviatt

Received 7-28-2009 Hola From Puerto Rico, From San Sebastian!!!‏

Hola familia y Amigos!

I'm finally in Puerto Rico! Can you believe it! It's crazy! And it's been a crazy hard week. I'm so glad that it's p-day and that I am finally able to hear from you guys and write to you all. I love you so much and I loved hearing from you when I arrived in the mission home on Tuesday. Thank you mom and dad for all of your wonderful packages and letters. It was so great to hear from you and to feel your love and support for me as I entered what has to be the biggest challenge of my life.

Jenny thank you so much for your package. The letter was so precious to me I read it every night. I want you all to know that I love you and miss you so much. As soon as I started writing this the tears began to flow. While this is perhaps one of the most exciting times in my life it has also been one of the most difficult. This has to be the hardest thing that I will ever do in my life. Before I tell you about my week, I want to give you my address so that you can write me. My address is:

Calle Vidal Colon
Casa #100 , Apt 101
San Sebastian, Puerto Rico 00685

I need your letters and support so freaking much you have no idea what this week has been like for me. I can't wait to hear from you and to hear about your lives. Dad thanks for the email about Trent. Trent, good luck with the tournament. I will be praying for you so you can play well, but also that you will be able to make the right decision. I know that whatever you do, if you have counseled with the Lord, the decision you make will be the right one.

OK so I don't have a lot of time. Usually only 15 minutes, so I will hurry. For future reference, your best communication with me is going to be letters not emails. We don't have a lot of time to email here in San Sebastian.

We arrived in Puerto Rico and every thing went according to plan. I got off the plane and I had the absolute best feeling that I had in a long time. I knew that this was the place that the Lord had called me and I knew that this was the place that the Lord had work for me to do. We met President Martineau in the airport and then we went to his house for a delicious meal. We had a meeting and we talked about the mission and the goals of the mission. It was so cool. Then we had a meeting with the area 70 who told us a lot about the people here and how he desires to have a temple for them. I desire that too.

After that we went to bed and had to get up early to get ready for the transfer meeting. We went to a big meeting with all of the other missionaries and we got to meet our trainers. It was nice because I got to talk to both Elder Lopez and Elder Bryant, both of them really gave me some great advice and it was awesome to hear from them.

My trainer is Elder Blandon from Nicaragua. OK I know I didn't spell it right. I'm sorry. Anywho he doesn't speak a lick of English so it's been a huge challenge, but he is a hard working and wants to get a lot done in our area so that's good. After we met we got in our car and headed out. Oh and guess who got to drive to the area. Me! So my 2nd day in Puerto Rico I got to drive 2 hours to San Sebastian. It was fun. I really like driving in Puerto Rico. It was nice to be behind the wheel of the car again.

After the two hours we finally arrived in San Sebastian. My area is in the northwest corner of Puerto Rico and it's totally different then I thought Puerto Rico would be. Tons of palm trees but our apartment is in the middle of a valley surrounded by huge hills. You can't see the ocean at all. The life the people out here is different too, it's insane. I wish I had more time to write about it. I will next week for sure.

Our apartment is nice. I'll send you pictures.

As soon as we got to our area we went out and began to tract. It was cool because my first time tracting was in a downpour of rain. My stuff got soaked and my brand new scriptures aren't so brand new, but it was way fun. What was even cooler was that there was only one lady on the entire street that was walking in the rain like us, so we knew exactly who to talk to. I know that the Lord prepares people and I know that the Lord want's His children to be happy. After the rain stopped we continued to tract. Tracting is fun here. You yell from the street and if people want to hear you they come out. If not, they stay inside. It's pretty and fun.

But it's also so hard. This week has been full of sorrow and depression. Every morning is filled with lots of tears because I miss all of you so freaking much. One morning this week was just awful. I couldn't take it anymore. I got down on my knees and asked Heavenly Father to help me. To help me to know that this is His work and that I will be able to make it through. I asked him to help me to feel the spirit so I could know that I would be a successful missionary and then . . . Nothing.

I was so bummed. But then I was reading in Alma 8:13-15 which is Alma. I forgot that in Ammonihah the people reject him. He leaves and is sorrowful and the Lord comes and tells him not to be sad for he has kept the commandments of God and that God is happy with him. I totally busted into tears and my companion had no idea what was going on because I was telling him in English. It was touching but also funny. I know that lord loves us and he hears our prayers.

I need your help and your love. Everyday I have to bike up a mountain for 2 hours to go to an investigator. It's a real testimony challenger and some days my weak little testimony just isn't enough. Your love and your support add fuel to my flame, it adds coal to my fire, so please, today if you have time, write me a letter. I know that it is really rude to say that but I need all the help I can get right now. I feel your prayers and I am thankful. Know that I love you and I am praying for you.

We have a few new investigators this week that I am really excited about. I don't have much time to tell you and I'm sorry but I will tell you more next week. I have a ton of time to write letters but no time to write emails so letters will work best.

As I leave I want to share one last experience with you. Sunday was another really rough day. I couldn't handle it and at priesthood meeting I again prayed and asked Heavenly Father if he would help me. After that Sacrament Meeting started and we sang "Onward, Christian Soldiers." All of this love swelled up inside me and I had a love for the people that I have never felt before it was so cool! I got to get up to bear my testimony. Of course I was bawling my eyes out. They all think I am a sissy but I said that I had so much love for them and if they helped us I know that we could get them a temple here in Puerto Rico. It got me excited to get out and work harder so that I could help them get a temple.

I love this work, but I miss you all sooooooo soo much. I have never been this homesick in my life. Trent good luck with your baseball tournament, play hard. Dad and mom thanks for your love. Mckay work hard and have fun in Orlando, prepare for humidity. And grandma and grandpa good luck with the house that's so exciting. Jenny thanks for your package. I didn't have any food and so your granola bars saved me. Thanks :)

The Lord has helped me so much this week and I am thankful for that. I want to share with you guys my testimony that I know the Lord knows our pain and our sorrows. Jesus Christ your Savior and Brother suffered for your sins but also for your afflictions. He knows everything you've been through and He knows how best to help you. I know that this is His church. Joseph Smith was a prophet and the Book of Mormon is proof of that. It wasn't written by him but was in fact written by prophets of God who lived in the Americas. I am so thankful to be here. It's hard, I want to be home. But I love it.

Thanks for all of your love and support. You have no idea how much it means to me. The Lord sends us angels to help us through our hard times and you are my angels so yeah. I love you guys.

With all the love in the world,

Your Missionary

Elder Oviatt

PS Happy 24th