Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The True Meaning‏

I had an awesome week though we only got about 3 full days of going to work. Last Tuesday did not go will. After I left here I kept getting worse and worse. By about 2 I thought I was going to die my head was throbbing, I couldn't decide what sounded better throwing up or passing out. I decided to work through it but our ward mission leader told me to go home. I spent the next 6 hours incapacitated in my bed sweating up a storm. It was not a fun experience but around 8 I took some Tylenol and went out and taught for about a hour. On Wednesday I went and conducted an exchange in the area that split off from my last one. It was cool to see people who I had taught and be in that area for the day. The Elders who are there are working so hard and it brings me so much comfort seeing it blossom into what I totally thought it could be. We got drenched that night during a rain storm that seem to conveniently happen the only time of the day we were outside. Despite the sickness and the Holidays we still managed to squeak out about 10 investigator lessons.

This week does not look a whole lot better. Wow that sounds negative but it wasn't intended to be I promise! It's just we have a lot of things this week that are taken up by commitments. Like Friday for example we have Weekly Planning and then we have music practice for the concert that night at the Christmas Lights. We are the musical number for the closing ceremony at the lights. I just happen to be the chorister for the opening number(yay) so to say nothing more, it should be fun.

Our investigators are doing well, Thailicia continues to inspire me despite being on probation and not being able to be baptized I think that she's more active than many members of the church. It's cool just to see how much faith they really have. We had 3 investigators end up in the hospital this week which hurt us quite a bit. It makes me sad when we get that call because you feel so helpless. But luckily everything worked out just fine! Josefa is still amazing! Her family is still amazing! I love them so much and will help them out in anyway that I can! We taught her Christmas Eve.

Christmas day we woke up early and played volleyball where I did pretty well until I blocked a spike that ended spraining the other 2 fingers on my right hand. If I keep it up my already slim hopes of ever playing a musical instrument well will be dashed! We then went to a member's house and Breakfast Burritos. We ended getting a guitar and playing Feliz Navidad. we all sang(about 20 missionaries in our pajamas) then we went to various houses and rehearsed our new favorite song! Later I opened presents which was cool and then called home(yay!). That night we had the most amazing meal ever! We had lamb and variety of other foods but I my goodness it was soooooooo good! A lamb roast I might add.

The reason I titled the email the way I did is because of this. Early this week we talked to a guy named Miron. He lives in rather humble circumstances. We taught him about the message of the Restoration and how he could become closer to Heavenly Father. We ended up setting a baptism date. We went back on Christmas Eve and he asked us to read with him. He has very humble circumstances. His apartment would be very comparable to that of a hotel room. We read with him and he asked questions and we answered. It was really a nice way to spend a little part of our afternoon. As we knelt down to part ways in prayer, he asked if I would say it. I began to simply express my gratitude to Heavenly Father to have let Elder Tanner and I meet Miron and asked Him to answer Miron's prayers. My thoughts began to turn to Christmas. It was very apparent that Miron was not going to have a Christmas with his family. As I struggled for the words to say I thought of what Christmas meant to me. For most of my life it was solely about family, presents, snow, Christmas lights, and my mom making fudge and me lingering around the kitchen to lick the spoon. As I've come to develop a greater relationship with God I've added something to that list which has made the top of the list. The Birth of the Savior. I thought about how much that means to me and pleaded that Miron could find peace through the true reason for the season. As we finished and we left I felt the quiet reassurance that "there's no where else I'm supposed to be at this time". It's a great time of year.

Well Next week I'll be writing during 2011. Yikes I can't believe I only have 3 months left!

Love, Elder Caywood

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Christmas, Christmas time is here!‏

Well hello there! I hope you enjoyed that a titled the subject after an Alvin and the Chipmunks song. Haha, pretty much awesome. Well I don't have a whole lot to say. I'm really really tired and I don't feel very good so we'll see what this will turn into. Oh Boy! This week was hard and many many of our lessons have fallen through! No bueno. But we have had some miracles which I will explain in the following paragraphs.

We have been teaching this family for a little bit over a month and a half now I believe. Her name is Josefa and she has 8 kids. She's so awesome! We finally were able to have a lesson with her on Sunday afternoon, we invited our mission president to come with us to the lesson. It was A-Mazing! I loved it so much. I still can't believe how awesome it is. We talked about prayers and receiving answers. We asked her how she's been able so pull through this hard time in her life. President Ellsworth shared a plethora of scriptures. At the end of the lesson the Spirit was so strong! We set baptismal commitments for her and 3 of her kids because they are the only ones old enough. We're going back on Thursday. I'm so excited it was imply amazing.

I also got to attend the baptism of a guy named Erik who I taught in the ward that got split off and made into a new area. It's pretty much sweet. He's so awesome and I think his future in the church is nearly limitless. He has so much potential. I was able to speak on baptism at the service which was sweet. He's going to be amazing.
We had a pretty good day yesterday on exchanges with one of our zone leaders. We taught about 3 investigator lessons. We also street contacted a lot of people. All and all it was a good day. I think there are many more on the way that are going to be just like it. Today should be sweet. One thing I'm hoping is to find more investigators. I don't know I feel we really need to pray when we are trying to accomplish something so great. I think that's what I'm going to invite the wards to do here. I'm thinking and typing out loud. cool.

Well I better go I really I'm exhausted and I'm having trouble focusing right now. Love you bye!

Love with love from

Elder Caywood

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Haha, December?‏

A few weeks ago it may have been slightly easier to convince me that it was indeed December. After Thanksgiving it wasn't getting about 50 degrees and I swore it was below freezing in the evening which led to my prompt buying of my fashionable SWEATERVEST OW OW!!! For a mere 3 dollars at the Mesa Thrift Store yahoo! Being cheap. Nevertheless yesterday it was about 80 degrees and was way hot, I couldn't believe the temperature outside. It was amazing how sweaty I was(you may be thinking well didn't you just do 120 degrees a mere 4 months ago?) to that I say true but still it's December and come on 80 degrees.

Admittedly it's hard to imagine Christmas is only a week and a half away. I have had trouble getting into the Christmas Spirit this year, I think part of it is due to the fact that no day is different than any other day we have so it's hard to imagine this holiday barreling towards us at a high speed. Another factor is the heat which was not a factor last year in the winter wonderland of Snowflake! Many other things have contributed to this but last night I really got into it. We finally on Wednesday and Thursday of this week moved into our permanent housing. The family we live with is sweet and last night for their family night they put a small Christmas Tree up in our room. It really brought the Spirit into our room and it was sweet because finally the thought or I guess the song crossed my mind "It's starting to look a lot like Christmas"

As for teaching this week it has been a little hard. When things were beginning to perk up for our area it seemed that everything in the world was thrown against us. We lost 3 baptism dates this past week. 2 to probation and one guy just got cold feet. A kid we're teaching had bit of cold feet as well and was pushed back to January. It was hard to be honest but I know that we can still make it. Despite it all we still managed to teach about 13 investigator lessons. We are relying a lot on the ward to help us out and share the gospel with others.

I feel sudden urgency to teach Elder Tanner as much as I can, I don't know why but in my gut I feel I'm leaving this transfer and he needs to be ready to potentially take over the area. He's awesome but timid and shy, kind of still in the wide eyed greenie daze. I need to work harder and I plan to. I really do. We're going to see miracles and I know it.

There's a lot of potential coming up for the next few weeks, we've had the opportunity to be at the lights at the Temple a few evenings this week. It's weird to see a family from one of my old areas walking around and looking at the lights. I got to have the miracle of sending missionaries to a couple who are looking for a church, that night I ended up teaching the the 1st lesson and invited them to continue learning, it was exciting for me and I know the Lord is preparing people of the same understanding and desire in our area.

Saturday we had to go to the hospital, we planned to teach a family, a single mother and her 8 children with one more on the way. When we arrived at the member's home and found all the kids their but the single mother and her youngest daughter were absent. We asked the family what had happened and they told us that Josefa had taken her daughter to the urgent care for an infection in her eye and a high fever. We were informed while we were there that it had become severe and that her and the baby were now in the ER. We had talked about possibly giving a blessing to the child but now we knew we had to. We called the Mission President and asked permission to leave the Mission Boundaries to go to the hospital we thought they were at. He let us go and we drove over with the member to the hospital in Tempe. Initially we couldn't find them and we were worried that they had gone to a different hospital. We were relieved when we turned the corner to see her holding the poor child in her arms. She looked pretty miserable(the baby was so spunky and happy it was hard to see her in that condition) we found a quiet room and gave the baby a blessing. I felt so good after that, I knew it would be alright. We're going to follow up when we can, but I believe it all worked out.

Well pretty much I'm out of things to say, thanks for the update on Justin I know he's going to be solid and awesome missionary, stick to your guns keep the faith and it always works out.

Love, Elder Caywood

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Picture Christmas!‏

Oh boy it's Christmas down here in the valley of the sun. Last year it was a little different because last year I was in Snowflake. Which meant snow during Christmas. Granted there wasn't a lot but there was some and remember being negative 10 degrees and then opening presents and stuff. This year is much different because in the valley it never snows. It's really weird it doesn't feel like the Christmas season is here at all but then I remember and see all the wonderful lights and stuff and it's pretty sweet.

I got to say it's been a pretty eventful week. I can't remember all of it but I remember that it was pretty eventful. Let's get started, I guess I'll try to recount all the things that have happened since. I'm now training again as I mentioned in my email last week. It's been good but a lot of stress is involved in that. Not so much from the missionary (in fact he makes things easier because he's way sweet) but the circumstances. I think I mentioned last week that we split our area over here. That has a lot of things to it. Getting new Elders settled and helping them out with their area along with taking care of your own area. We are temporary housing right now which is hard because we could move any day. That means all mail for me and my companion have been held in the mission office for over a week now. *sigh* it's rough but awfully rewarding. Even after the split right now we have 5 people with a baptism date. It's pretty sweet, one is for the 18th and two for the 25th and 2 for the 8th of next month.

One of the people we are teaching is named Joann, and she's so cool. We taught her the 1st lesson and went rather deep into the apostasy (not something I have to do a lot of) it was kind of cool because I got to teach a lot about the history behind it and why the Restoration was needed. She accepted a date on the 8th of January. We are also teaching a family of 8. They are in a hard situation but we love them so much. I pray a lot for the family and feel a connection with them. I hope that we can help them I know that we can do our best for them.

Well I don't have an incredible more amount to say, my companion's name is Elder Tanner and he is from Bountiful, Utah. He's really a cool guy. He's soft spoken, kind of funny, and humble. Like way humble, I love it. He's so great! He's originally from Russia which is sweet. I'm blessed to have him as a companion and I'm expecting to work miracles with him. He potentially could be my last companion. The district is sweet, and we are one of the highest teaching districts in the mission we average about 50 investigator lessons a week as a district which is cool. It makes me feel inadequate sometimes because all these missionaries are so amazing. I'm grateful to be a leader and learn from them.

Well I better go, if I forgot anything of importance I apologize.

Love you bye,

Elder Caywood

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Training Part 2‏

If you can think of some crazy stuff that could happen to my area you don't have to think anymore because here we go transfer news. I was minding my own business Saturday Night(well kind of, I was in other people's business) when a call came from the mission office. Oh snap! I was a little scared and weary because had been working on this for a while. We had a lot of people that we are teaching and it's been amazing. We had 3 baptisms this past week. It was pretty cool, one of the baptisms fell through and she is going to have to wait until June when her probation is up. Anyways I'm drifting from the subject of this paragraph(no wonder I stunk at English). Anyways big news. I'm training again and we split our area and another missionary companionship is coming in. It's really wonderful! It's happening on Wednesday! Oh boy I'm pumped!

This week unfortunately Elder Whaley and I are being split he is off to Mountain View zone in East Mesa. We've had a way good time and though I'm fairly sure that I drove him nuts(I drive everyone nuts, I'm lucky I got any friends! Yay! :D ) He's going to do amazing things in the mission service and I'm excited for him. Great missionary.

I really don't have a lot to say. We had Thanksgiving this past week. Best part was the "Turkey Bowl" football will forever be my favorite part about Thanksgiving. We played for 3 hours and then we played soccer for a hour afterwards as well. I was so dead tired. I couldn't believe how sore I was on Friday. We had dinner with the Fullers. We only did one diner after last year's 4 I couldn't do multiple again(Thanksgiving still makes me a little sick from last year). But we had a great time there was like 40 people there or maybe more. It was so much fun! There was like 20 pies there! 20! I ate a lot and it was fun. That family is awesome!

This past week we had 3 baptisms and had a lot of fun. It was pretty much sweet. It was a little rushed but the Spirit was so strong and the people who got baptized were really sweet. I love the Spirit they carried. I wish I could say more but my brain is not working so I better just end this. i love you all and you're awesome. Wait wait, I forgot I got to do the Christmas Lights last night and it was so cool! It was so cold we were out there for 5 hours talking to people about Christmas and inviting them to learn more. I wish i had pictures from it but I don't maybe next time. Alright for real Love you bye.

Love, Elder Caywood

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

4 Baptisms and a Wedding‏

Well as you can see from the title of my email you know what I'm going to be doing on Thanksgiving weekend! I'm so excited! It's going to be way fun. I love serving here. Saturday is going to be interesting, it is also transfer news day. It's sickening to me to watch the time go faster than the speed of sound. It's the one thing that no one has control over(despite any sci fi guy's opinion). We're blazing through this but it's still awesome. I've been reflective lately. It's amazing to see that we are put where we are put for a reason. I love serving here and there's several reasons why I think I got put in Mesa. I think one of the big reasons is that I didn't know a whole lot about the church and teaching so much on my mission has allowed me to learn the doctrine very well and explain it too. There's plenty of opposition here where the majority of the people have at least heard the term Mormon and are quite aware that they are all over Mesa. That has allowed me to learn to rely on the Spirit and to show patience and love to those who some may consider our enemies(though I don't think the Savior showed any less love for his enemies). One thing this experience in the valley of the sun has allowed me to have, is it has allowed me to mature a lot. We are under the spot light here a lot. By members and non-members. What people's views of the members and missionaries are often reflected upon by your own behavior and admittedly I was rather immature at the beginning of my mission(and am still immature at this point and will more than likely keep many of those but hey I've grown up a little). While we are on our missions regardless of country or continent, whether we are having problems with are companions or struggling in the area all I can say is the Proclamation that President Hinckley said and that I echo "Lose yourself and go to work". There's a lot more to that than just being a little trunky for home and the things you used to do. You stop caring about yourself and those around. You wonder how you can help your companion and the people you teach in anyway you can! Then you're happy and successful. I learned that lesson and it's sweet.

This week was full of goodness. We lost one baptism date, she got "antied" by a "friend' and has backed off completely. We care about her so much and we're going to find a way to reach out to her. I was at Leadership Training for most of the week learning the new principles that have been given down to us from the First Presidency of the church. It's really an incredible experience! It's humbling to for me to be in the presence of so many of the wonderful leaders of the mission. They're examples to me. I hope sometimes I can be half the missionary some of those Elders are but I do what I can.

One of the scarier experiences of leadership training was seeing my name on the departing missionary list. It said Elder Brandon Caywood April 5th, 2011. It suddenly hit me like a brick, ah! This is creeping up on me! It gave me a since of urgency I guess. Which means I'm pushing myself more(woo hoo!)

This past Sunday I spoke in 3 different wards and prepared 3 different talks collectively adding up to about 30 minutes. Many of them were linked to my conversion which is something I'm asked to speak on rather often. It was crazy speaking that much but luckily I had prepared pretty well and had no problems.

This weekend Lisa is getting baptized. She is the mom of the young boy who was baptized about 2 weeks ago. It's going to be an awesome baptism! Then we are having Gabe, Kelly, and Shelly getting baptized on Saturday as well. They are so often and I don't know if I ever met anyone with Greater faith. For example Bishop called yesterday and said "Gabe and Kelly aren't married!" My jaw dropped as I thought of how they were going to handle this news(we thought they were already married). We went to teach them and Gabe said "Did you hear the good news we're getting married on Friday! Bishop said we couldn't be baptized until we got married so we're having it this weekend!" It was sweet I'm pumped! We also had a cool experience with an investigator named Kenny, Kenny was supposed to be baptized this weekend but we asked him if he had quit chewing tobacco, He told us he had been doing better but that's not what we asked so we told him to get baptized on December 4th his new date he had to quit completely that night. He said follow me and we walked into the bathroom and he flushed all of his chew into the toilet and threw the container in the trash can. Then he said "Well I'm done" once again it was awesome, God is helping so many of these people.

Well many of you probably have dropped out of this by now so for those of you who have made it to the end of this email I will bid the fondest of farewells.

Adieu :D

Love, Elder Caywood

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Quarantine Part Dos‏

I think that's how you spell two in Spanish...dos. Not sure but that's ok, I don't got any Spanish police on me. I'll explain more about that later. But this week has been a good week for us. We set another date bringing our total to about 14 now I believe. It's been really wonderful. They span from a cool black lady from the south to a guy who wears an eye patch to church. It's pretty much sweet. I really enjoy teaching all of these wonderful people. It gets my mind off of "you only get to do this for 4 more months" argh!

Well I mentioned that I was sick. I think it's official that I have gotten way sick in every area I have served in. I need to eat healthier I thinking I'm slacking more than ever right now. That might have something to do with a lot of my health problems dang inability to cook! Anyways Thursday we are on a zone leader exchange and had an amazing day but I was quite certain that I was going to die throughout the day. I had a terrible headache, I was tired, and swallowing seemed a little more like swallowing quarters rather than swallowing spit. It was miserable and began to lose it which is so exciting because I'm already crazy as it is. I sat around inside for about 3 days or so and have been told to take it easy which is really really hard for me(I like to work!) But alas there are blessings in obedience and if I'm told i have to slow down a little there's probably wisdom in that.

Right now I feel alright but a lot better than I did before. This week appears to be exciting as we will be in Scottsdale for training. I've enjoyed my scripture study as of late. I've been in the Book of Mormon reading in Alma. The missionaries in that book are very bold and the people are very angry at them. Despite this circumstance they still find lots of people to teach and baptize(sadly enough the mean people burn the baptized people alive but that's not the point of what I'm saying just something I wanted to point out). It seems to me that there will always be people who are jerks about stuff. Granted there will be missionaries who seem like they are just as big of jerks! But nevertheless there are people out there who are lost who are searching but we need to find them.

I'll share a cool example from this week. There's a couple we are teaching and they are just awesome. They are Gabe and Kelly. They were way awesome the first time I taught them I was confident that they would accept a baptism date when it was extended. They immediately did and ere so excited to be baptized.To be honest we have not taught them since mainly because Keely at the time was 9 months pregnant and has been recovering since the birth of their 2nd son. Yet they still come to church and class and we are now on schedule to teach them tomorrow. They are amazing good people and I love them. Now I'll share the experience, this week we had a state wide stake conference broadcast from Salt Lake in which President Monson spoke. Gabe mentioned after the service that when the Prophet spoke he felt so good that it was as if God was speaking to him, Himself. It was powerful and they just looked so great, I'm excited for their baptism.

I love what I'm doing and I'm not ashamed of it, I believe it's true, if you say otherwise that's fine, but I know what I know and I'll share what makes me happy.

Love, Elder Caywood