First Week in Arizona: Aug 22, 2016

This is the note he wrote us when he got there. He had just a few hours of sleep when he wrote this and you can tell a little :) I made it to Phoenix. First of all, I wanted to talk about the plane. Both awesome and terrifying, every time the plane moved in a funny way I thought it was over. It was beautiful too. The ground from a plane looks just like Google Earth. Who knew? Clouds also look super cool from a plane. Like ripped up cotton. I met my mission president and he's really cool. They just fed us sandwiches. I'll try and tell you who my companion is. I don't get transferred out to my area until tomorrow, so I don't know even where I'm going yet. And everyone was right, it feels exactly like opening an oven. Just one difference: you have to keep your face in the oven until you can run inside. I'm super tired still. I'm going to do what my district calls Elder Gray prayers. Back when I didn't sleep well and I just fell asleep we joked that I just prayed a lot. Kind of funny. I'm actually really worried and anxious about not seeing my friends from the district. The ones going to Salt Lake City South I already had to say goodbye to. Oh, and saguaros are everywhere. It's strange to see a different landscape and thinking that I'll be seeing it always for two years. I'll leave you with a spiritual thought and my testimony. A good way to define “obedience” is “trust in the Lord”. Because with the knowledge or testimony that God loves us, then if we trust him by keeping his Commandments and obeying Christ’s word we are showing trust in Him. And here's why if we know He loves us then why wouldn't we trust that obedience or trusting him is a way for him to bless us. He loves us so being obedient can only bless us “for He is bound” if we follow him. And that's what obedience is. It leads to happiness, protection from sin, and deepening conversion in the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ
Love, Elder Gray.

This is from his email today: Just to answer a few questions: No it is not hot, yes it is awesome, and my companion is the coolest. And the funny thing is I don't actually live around saguaros since I'm in Cottonwood. My first day in the actual field started with me waking up and getting ready to meet my companion for the first time. When I first met him the first thing he did was give me a big hug that lifted me off my feet. His name is Elder Townsend. He's super cool. He was a beekeeper in Florida and a great missionary. He's taught me a lot already. The cool thing is that he actually did something called flip trained. He just finished his first three months which is our training period and now right after he starts training me. My area is a few cities around Cottonwood, a super cool area. I've loved it here. It's not as hot as Phoenix, and it's actually rained quite a bit. People tell me that I got really lucky with the weather so far because it can get to almost really warm temperatures here, but I'm going to skip all of that. My home is pretty cool too. The power went out the first day while I was writing in my journal. So far the best thing I ate is this sandwich thing called a Torta. It's got carne asada and refried beans to start out, some tasty sauce, tomatoes, lettuce, and cheese. It was so good. The coolest thing though is the people, they are so amazing. The members all are so nice, we actually have dinner appointments most every night. And even the nonmembers are all so cool. This area is the perfect example of a white field being ready to harvest. I already have put my first person on date to be baptized. And we have two people being baptized this Saturday. And it really is about being baptized, but that isn't the end goal. That is the beginning of our end goal. We want our investigators to be baptized and after that we continue to help them to the real end goal which is Eternal Life living with our Heavenly Father again. So as a missionary I just can't be about getting statistics high. The goal is to work hard enough so that my efforts bring the most people that I can, with the help and strength of Jesus Christ, bring the most people unto Christ as is possible at this moment. Because people need our Savior.

1st Transfer Day. August 17, 2016

From The Arizona Phoenix Mission blog:

Despite the summer heat, our Missionaries always show up with all smiles!  We had a large group of new missionaries and they were paired with some awesome companions for their first 12 weeks. This is an exciting time for both the trainer and trainee and a great opportunity to form new friendships and learn how to be the best missionary they can.  Thank you to the members who help to transport our missionaries to and from the Transfer building.


Arrival Day. Aug 10, 2016

From The Arizona Phoenix Mission blog:

"After leaving a great group of Missionaries at the departure gates of the airport, we swung around the corner and picked up our next incoming group.  There were 21 all total - 4 Sisters and 17 Elders. They were excited to finally be in the mission field and to arrive in Phoenix on a 110 degree day. Thank goodness for air conditioning.  At the Mission Office, they completed some preliminary paperwork, had a snack and were introduced to the office service missionaries.  Then they were given a glimpse of the Phoenix Temple and then to the Mission Home for lunch, writing a letter home and a much appreciated nap.   After the nap, there were training videos for bike and car safety.  Then the traditional spaghetti dinner and more training.  Early to bed to be able to rise Wednesday morning and get to the work of being a missionary."

MTC, Week 2. August 10, 2016

So much has happened since last week that it feels like a lot longer and I can't quite think of what I'm supposed to put in the email. I've made much better friends with all the other Elders in my district. I've had an awesome time so far. I still get chocolate milk every day but in order to keep Jeremiah 4:19 from happening I have a bowl of cracked wheat every day too :) Every day is more fun still, my teachers are awesome and Sunday and Tuesday devotionals are awesome. We had an apostle's son come teach on Joseph Smith and then a different apostle came to speak on missionary work and it was so cool. One of my favorite things that I've been able to do here so far, that doesn't have to do with learning how to help others more, is gym. Every day except Sundays and Wednesdays I get to go to the gym and my favorite is to go up on the track, there are stationary bikes and ellipticals and I've just been having a blast. Although in this last week I did get sick, not too bad, but I caught a cold. Most the Elders have though, but now I'm really not sleeping well. It should start getting better though. From Carma - Elder Gray shared a very personal story about learning to teach the lessons to people interested in the LDS church. Since it's about actual investigators and not people role playing, he asked that I respect their privacy in the blog. But this is what he learned from his experience... I had a rougher time with our first lesson. One of her concerns was that during a hard time in her life she prayed really hard and felt nothing and now has a testimony that either God doesn't exist or if he does that God is great for some people and for others the whole idea of God just doesn't work as well. I got out of the lesson and we had a temp exchange. I was with Elder Christofferson. I just cried, a lot, for a long time. One) I had no idea how I would have helped someone with that problem and two) I cried later in the middle of class because I realized that some people don't know that God loves them. Here at the MTC I've strengthened my resolve in going on a mission. Before I went my reason was that I wanted everyone to have the opportunity to have Christ in their lives. Now it is also from last week because I want other people to feel as happy as Christ has made me feel and now I am going on a mission so I can help other people know, through the power of the Holy Ghost that their Heavenly Father loves them. I'm not sure what else I have to say other than a spiritual thought: I am never the teacher. It is not me that teaches the investigator. Since it is only through the spirit that someone can learn and know, I have to be humble. That is connected, because if I am humble enough to understand that it is not through me but it is through the spirit and the spirit through me that someone comes unto Christ, then I can have the spirit with me in the lessons which will allow that spirit, the one Holy Ghost to testify to my investigators by touching their hearts. Moroni 10:5 Another cool scripture 1Nephi 21:14-16 Read it first and it's amazing and then realize that the comparison between us and Christ and us being described as a sucking child is because that child is helpless. Just like us without Christ. Without Christ we are helpless and he knows that. And he loves us so much that with the knowledge he has that we need him he will not forget us and leave us to die just as that infant would if the mom forgot about it. We are engraven in his hands and his walls are continually before us. Love, Elder Gray

1st P-day in the MTC. August 3, 2016

So it's been exactly one week and it's my first P-day!! Sorry it took till 2pm, but our district went through the Provo temple and I had to be getting to lunch after. We had to set up district leaders before my mail came in last week and from that day on I have been getting mail and packages every night. Thank you for all the love!

People in my room:
Elder Durrett, my comp.
Elder Christofferson, he's really funny and pretty cool, he's from New York and he's the district leader, he gives me my mail every night.
Elder Hoganson, he's really serious about everything and from Canada.

The rest of the district is:
Elder Gherrett, he is a wrestler and a fun weirdo. His comp left home a few days ago and he's pretty bummed about it though.
Elder Plushie, we can't say his real name, but he's really chill and spiritual and just an all round cool guy.
and Elder Waddell, he's from a small town, Farmington, Missouri and super funny and friendly.
Sister Winkler and Sister Murphy, they are both really cool and spiritual and the only reason us Elders stay focused on the lesson at times, the sisters do a good job at keeping us in line.

Every day is better than the last and each day I think there is no way tomorrow can top this. I feel so spiritually uplifted and energized more and more each day. It's just amazing. I love everything about it. My teachers are all awesome and I learn so much about how to better help people become deeply converted to the gospel every day. The food is great too, there's a new bowl of soup every day and always choc milk. It's the best, and in the morning I always have a bowl of cracked wheat and brown sugar. After the first Sunday time flies and it just feels like such an awesome time.

I'll answer all of your questions from the letters now, but I don't have that much time left to email.
It really has been amazing so far, I really do miss all of you. They keep me busy though, but I like it. A lot of rules.

I heard about Matt's nose from him just barely too, oh that looks like it hurts!! I laughed a bit at him when I heard he needed stitches but I hope he's ok.
My comp doesn't say y'all that much, but he does end every sentence with so.
Best thing to eat is definitely soup bowl, honeydew and watermelon, or choc milk.
I've got the packages and I love you so much for them.
The beds are not too comfy but not too uncomfy.
I can choose to be a greeter every Wednesday.
Classes are SO AWESOME!!!!

My favorite Elder I met here was named Elder Gneiting, he looked out for me the first few days while I was homesick, and dealing with being so busy (we called it drinking from a firehouse), and basically every challenge of the MTC. He left Monday but he's cool.

I'll tell you about my investigators next week because I'm out of time.

Elder Gray