Transfer calls were this past Saturday and I'm sad to say that I'll be leaving the Tampa Bay YSA :(. I'm off to Port Charlotte and I'll be serving with Elder Olsen who will go home 10 days before me and Elder Spendlove which this coming transfer will be his second transfer in the mission. It'll be a good change but at the same time I never wanted to leave this area. I was able to however leave this area with a bang. This past week we had our monthly BBQ and Elder Cook and I took big signs that read "FREE BBQ" and pointed people into the church. We had the New Tampa Elder's waiting for non members and would give them a church tour. While we were out there I was dancing and doing the jerk and stanky legg and it was a blast!!! The BBQ usually lasts for and hour and a half, a half hour into it they made us come in because 1) They were running out of food and 2) They had more non members then the Elder's could handle. To be honest we gave 22 church tours between the 4 of us and we didn't have enough missionaries to get to all of the non members! Bro Patrick who is the Institute Instructor told us we need to teach the new Elder that is coming in how to dance and advertise on the corner :). We also had Bull Market this week which is a thing at USF where all the clubs, frats, and sorority's put up booths to bring people in and we had a booth there with the members. We started to offer people free Bibles and if they said yes we would follow up with offering The Book of Mormon. 9 times out of 10 they would say, "Sure what is it?" Elder Cook and I can answer that question all day and we did. We ended up teaching about 20 lessons that day!! We met with Crystal this past week and she set her own date for the 23rd of April!!! After 11 years of investigating the church she wants to be baptized!!! I'm so excited!! She is awesome and so solid! This area is finally taking off and from the work we did this week we had 5 people show up to church on Sunday! Speaking of which we had Mike and Anthony show up on Sunday and Mike is about to get his Phd in Religious Studies and we had a 3 hour discussion and WE were teaching him haha. Every question that you hate to answer as a missionary got asked, how did God create intelligences in the Pre-Earth life? Kolob? The cursing on the Lamanites? Heavenly Mother? Curse of Cain? Evolution? Polygamy? Becoming God's? Temple Ceremonies? Where did God come from? Yea it was a long discussion haha but if anything it was a great testimony builder for me to realize the simplicity of this Gospel.
For being spring break this past week we did a great job at staying busy and the Lord blessed us for it. We announced in church last Sunday that we needed things to do this coming week because of spring break and the members stepped up. We were able to give 6 church tours this past week! Thats great on a normal week. We started the week by going to the golf range with one of our members and it was a blast. Never hit so well in my entire life! Maybe it's because I'm on a Mission and my Mission President is a Pro Golfer. But a had a few drives, with a rented club, that went 300 yards and best of all they were going straight haha. Wednesday we went to Clearwater for Institute and afterwards one of the members said that his friend was here and wanted him to be taught. So we got to know him and answered his questions and taught a little bit of the first lesson and set up a return appointment. Elder Cook and I were talking after the lesson and something seemed a little different. So when we arrived at his the address he gave us on Friday as we were driving through there were nurses and doctors walking with people around and mini play grounds for adults so we pieced together what we thought was a little of a couple nights before, but I'll let you piece that all together. Because of the distance we couldn't travel there enough each week so the missionaries in Clearwater will teach him. We were asked by a member on Sunday if we could come over Thursday to give her a blessing. We arrived with our male member, so all bases were covered haha, and when we walked in the room her some of her roommates were watching TV and she walked up to the TV and shut it off and said that the Elders are here to teach us now and another one came out of the room and sat down and they all looked at us just waiting for us to teach. Elder Cook and I looked at each other like "I thought we were here to give a blessing?" so we proceeded to share the First Lesson with them. 2 of the 3 wanted a copy of The Book of Mormon and hopefully will continue to progress. Afterwards we went in the other room to give her a blessing and said sorry for not giving you a heads up on the lesson when I was going out to meet you at the front desk I told them that I wanted the missionaries to share a message with you and they were all willing. Obviously we replied that no apology was needed and thanked her for the opportunity to teach them. We had a great dinner at our Ward Mission Leader's house for St. Patrick's Day and had corned beef and cabbage and a green soda stuff. The Sister's in our zone had a referal for us and we were able to teach him on Saturday and he is solid! He taught us about the Great Apostasy and told us that stuff in the Bible had been lost over time in translation, he has accepted the committment to read The Book of Mormon and do as Moroni says to "have a sincere heart, real intent, and having faith in Christ" and we'll be meeting again with him this week. Crystal asked her Dad about baptism this past week and she said it went pretty good and she wants to get baptized here in Tampa and soon. We are meeting this Friday with her and are going to let her set her own date for when she wants to be baptized. Another member called us up and said that his friend had deep doctrine questions and wanted to meet us at the church. It went really smooth and she has agreed to start taking the lessons. The member approached us at church on Sunday and said that his friend has another friend she wants to bring to learn about the church as well!!! Finally things are starting to turn around here!!! Saturday morning we had a service project at the VA Hospital in St. Pete and we painted the basketball court and spread molch and it was a blast! The whole St. Pete Stake did it and it was great to see a lot of the member's that I knew in the Clearwater Ward. Transfers are this Saturday!! I don't wanna leave but I'm pretty sure I'm leaving.
We have done a lot of finding this week. We started off our P-day right this past week and went to a Yankees vs Phillies game! Spent all week at campus trying to invite people to church and we have a couple potentials but none that will be progressing for a week and a half because as of this past Friday it is spring break here at USF. Elder Cook and I have a lot planned this week to work with almost everyone in the zone and hopefully that will help them to try and get motivated. We had a unique opportunity to go to Jay and Wayne Osmond's book signing at Barnes and Noble this past week. Jay had us come up and had me bear testimony to those that attended and it was just a surreal experience because it felt like as I was speaking the whole store was just dead quiet, I've never had that happen before and the Spirit was just so strong. Afterwards we were approached by many members, non members, and even some people investigating in the church!! We gave out our information to get a hold of us as well as church websites etc. There was this mother and daughter that approached us and the daughter was about to turn 21 and she was looking for somewhere where she could make friends and hang out with people who had the same standards as she did. We gave her our information and will hopefully be meeting with her this next week. Jimmy and Jay also took us out to Outback the night before and it was great seeing them and talking about their families, missionary work, and the Gospel. One of the better ways to have a happy lifestyle is found in 2 Nephi 5:12. Nephi mentions he “had also brought the records which were engraven upon the plates of brass.” Why would having access to the scriptures be a consideration in a happy lifestyle? Anyone who reads scripture regularly develops a clearer perspective and purer thoughts and has more sincere and thoughtful prayers. Our lives are bound to be happier when we use the scriptures to answer our very personal questions and needs. The scriptures can cleanse us from evil thoughts and fortify our resolve to resist temptation. They can give comfort in times of need such as a death of a loved one or a personal tragedy. Reading them can put us in tune with the Spirit of the Lord so that our depression and self doubts will flee and our confidence will wax strong in the presence of God. D & C 121:45. A powerful expression of the happiness that can come from immersing ourselves in the scriptures comes from Elder Parley P. Pratt’s autobiography, in which he describes his first encounter with the Book of Mormon, which he called “that book of books”:“I read all day; eating was a burden, I had no desire for food; sleep was a burden when the night came, for I preferred reading to sleep….as I read, the Spirit of the Lord was upon me and I knew and comprehended that the book was true, as plainly and manifestly as a man comprehends and knows that he exists. My joy was now full, as it were, and I rejoiced sufficiently to more than pay me for all the sorrows, sacrifices and toils of my life.” The Book of Mormon promises us that if we will act upon the promise in Moroni 10:3-5, that we will have the power of the Holy Ghost to be ours and we will know the truth of all things.
We started out the week with getting a phone call from President Summerhays early Tuesday morning telling us that the sister's in our zone called him and told him that something didn't feel right in their apartment and would like us to come and bless their home. So we were able to go over and I was able to give my first blessing on a home and it was a great experience. Afterwards we each gave one of the sister's a comfort blessing and they were extremely grateful. We attended one of our District Meetings and one of our District Leaders challenged each companionship to focus on one specific goal for the next day and write out how we were going to achieve that goal. So Elder Cook and I knelt in prayer asking our Heavenly Father what goal we should set and how we were able to reach that. We both received the same answer. We were going to get 5 new investigators and how we were going to reach that was having 50 OYM's, and OYM stands for Open Your Mouth instead of just talking with someone and handing out a pass along card we have a small gospel discussion with them, the standard for our mission is 75 a week so we really needed to step up. That night during planning we called the assistants to see if they wanted to go out for a big meal because starting at noon the next day the leaders of the mission were going on a 24 hour fast. They also asked if we wanted them to go to campus with us and we thought that'd be a great idea we can split up and achieve our goal. And that is exactly what happened! We were able to get 5 new investigators with 57 OYM's! It's so great to see how if we pay attention to what the Lord wants us to do that he will provide a way. At the end of our 24 hour fast from Thursday to Friday we gathered together as Zone Leaders, Assistants, and President and Sister Summerhays and blessed the mission. It was such a spiritual experience that I can't tell you more than that but it was such an overwhelming feeling. From Saturday to Sunday we had another 24 hour fast to unite the mission and this fast was very special to me. I have never been able to physically fast before. When I started my fast on Saturday I prayed for the strength to be able to fast and show the Lord that I wanted to make that sacrifice and for the first time in my life I was not only able to skip a meal but I was able to go 24 hours without any food. I am so greatful for the Lord's hand in everything I do. I know without Him I am nothing. I know that all I need to do is work diligently and do everything I can on my part, go to Him in humble prayer and He will do the rest.