Monday, March 16, 2015

Where is the green grass and flowers?

Piles of snow in the parking lots

I am glad that y'all are getting to enjoy the wonderful things that come along with spring- we just had the biggest snow storm yet this year over this past weekend. It's finally starting to warm up a bit though, which is a relief. As for the Blackwelders, yeah, they are his Grandpa's cousins- whadya know? Crazy, small world. I also apologize for the confusion haha, I am still keeping my fingers crossed that I get a companion from Africa at some point. That's exciting to hear about David's mission call to Arizona as well! Elise, Riley, and now him. Dang! Better start packin now...

Even though we don't get to enjoy spring flowers here, we are enjoying a lot of Maple. Everyone has started tapping into the trees- it's Maple season here. The Sugar Shacks are opening up and everywhere you turn there are fresh maple produce items being sold. We had some Tire d'érable earlier this week (maple syrup poured onto snow) and dang that stuff was good. One thing is for sure, after leaving here...table syrup simply won't suffice.

This week we have been really putting a focus on getting the members more involved in the missionary work- we have seriously amped up the amount of lessons with members. The Ward demands a lot of it's missionaries here as well so we have definitely been kept busy. This ward has seen a lot of miracles lately and we are expecting so much more in this next year- even the Stake and Mission President have emphasized the importance of the potential that our ward has for this year. It's exciting to have the opportunity to work here, and to know that we have been entrusted with the Missionary Work in this area at this time.

Last night we also went to a surprise birthday party for one of the members in our ward: Hans. He's the guy that I told y'all a while back who they based the grandpa from UP off of. I have really gotten to know him really well in my time here. Seriously that guy, has lived a life. Not many people have the experiences that he has had- I will be happy if I have half as many stories as that guy by the time I reach 70. His dad was a Nazi that married a Jew, Ezra Taft Benson beat his dad in a chess match in which they had bet whether or not to send Hans out on a mission, a relative of Spencer W. Kimball financed his mission, he was eventually excommunicated from the church in the 90's, got re-baptized a while ago, and finally got his priesthood, his endowment, and everything that he had lost just last month from the Stake President. When that happened, it was absolutely HUGE here- and meant a lot to all of us, especially for him. Needless to say, he has lived quite a life so far. He also brought an older lady to church last week for the first time- her son is a member and she decided that she wanted to get baptized right after her first sunday. We`ll see how that progresses and we also have a student here from India who studied in Europe before coming here who is super serious about investigating the church. It`s just a really great time to be here right now.

I have been continuing to read the New Testament as well- focusing on Paul and his teachings. It really just affirms the revelation of prophets at the time whether they be from Jerusalem or from the Americas. Paul talks about putting off the "Old Man" in a similar way that King Benjamin talked about putting off the "Natural Man" many years before the time of Paul. It's really cool to be able to study the similarities between the two, and also to see the different styles in teaching- yet at the same time they all point back to the same person: Christ. Which is what it is all about when it comes down to it. Jesus Christ and his Gospel provide us with the "what" and the "why", it gives us our reasons, and provides us with the capacity to change in connection to what Paul and King Benjamin talk about. After all of that, we are able to Qualify ourselves for Salvation. Salvation is not something that can be earned, only one person earned it, but it is through living his Gospel that we can qualify ourselves to receive the same. And that is what we are doing as members and as missionaries- living the Gospel of Christ, Earning our salvation, while reaching out and helping others at the same time to do the same thing. It really comes down to being obedient, living righteously, and doing our best- something that is found in Preach My Gospel in regards to "how to become a successful missionary" but that can be applied to everyone in every aspect of life. That is how we become successful in our endeavors.

I hope y'all continue to enjoy the spring weather, keep working hard, and I will talk to ya next week!


Elder Cody Warren Ritz

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