Washington Seattle Mission
June 1, 2014 - June 1, 2015
Something that stood out to me this week in my studies was Isaiah 41:10. It was the inspiration for one of the verses of How Firm a Foundation. I really love the powerful words of "Fear thou not; for I am with thee... for I am thy God". It makes me think of "Be still and know that I am God." All things are in his control and I need not worry about every little thing. In the words of President Gordon B Hinckley, "It will all work out".
We had a special zone conference on Tuesday about our goals. Last year we had set a very high goal that we did not achieve but President Choi explained that the goals we set last year were to help us raise our vision and "push against the rock" to build our strength. He expressed that this year is the time for us to actually move the "rock". It was an intense meeting. After the meeting, we began an exchange with our Zone Leaders. This is when I met Elder Carpenter. I can best describe him as a Mormon Garrett. He's great! I was able to learn a lot from him and he was able to teach me as well. It was during this exchange that we determined we wanted to be roommates haha. Anyway, we were able to involve Jing with a lesson and she truly caught the spirit of missionary work!! She loved being involved and sharing her testimony! It was a successful visit, although the woman does not desire to meet with us still, Jing and her created a friendship. Elder Carpenter and I basically sat on the couch and listened to them speak Chinese to each other. It was pretty funny.
When we exchanged back, I saw a huge difference in Elder Pulini. Normally zone leaders don't exchange with normal missionaries because that is the responsibility of the district leader and the zone leaders generally exchange with each district leader of the zone. Yet, the zone leaders felt a need to exchange and I am very grateful for it. Elder Pulini came back from the exchange with a resolve to be exactly obedient and he has been. We have seen quite a bit of success this week! It was truly amazing to see the change in him. We were able to work effectively together. We taught 23 total lessons this week, which is the highest we've seen in this area in a few months. It was more than a 33% increase! It was truly phenomenal. We were able to bring many members out with us as well.
On Thursday, we had a cleaning check from our housing coordinators and then another surprise one from the Assistants. We are truly being hammered on our cleanliness, because that made 4 in 6 days. I might say it was a tad much, but I understand the importance of keeping a clean apartment because a clean apartment brings the spirit. We don't just do it because someone is going to check it.
I learned this week of the importance and power of grace. As defined in the bible dictionary, grace is "divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ". I truly experienced the enabling power of grace this week. I witnessed it in the change in Elder Pulini and I felt it myself in another incident spanning Saturday night to Sunday afternoon. It was a distinct incident that has helped me understand the power of the enabling power of grace through the atonement of Christ. A few weeks ago, we had a zone training where we were asked to remember a time when we had felt the cleansing power of the atonement and a time when we had felt the enabling power. I could recall the former but struggled for the latter. I have since began studies of that enabling power and I was able to recognize it Sunday afternoon as Elder Pulini and I sat down to overcome an intense argument that had driven a wedge into our companionship. We felt that enabling power and changed what could have destroyed our companionship into something that built our relationship and actually strengthened it. I am grateful for that experience.
I hope you have had an amazing week! Sorry for emailing so late, we had a mission activity this morning and then we decided to visit the Microsoft visitors center. That was pretty cool. I love you!!
Elder Connor M. Garriss
pics: Elder Pulini doing a handstand and me posing on the docks in the park on Pine Lake.
I am sorry I missed your letter when it came in last week. I was busy shooting my worst score of the year, an 80, in my tournament. I felt bad because I thought you could use a little pick me up but I am happy to say you handled the situation very well. You have really grown a lot since being out on your mission. Before you left you probably would have handled the inspection angrily and with bitter feelings but instead you took it as an opportunity to better improve yourself and I am so very proud of you for doing that. Life will always bring us challenges, such as Elder Pulini, and how we face those challenges will be your legacy. In situations like you are currently facing the Lord councils us " only by persuasion, by long suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and love unfeigned; by kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile" ( D&C 121:41-41 ).
St. Francis deSales said: There is nothing so strong as gentleness, and there is nothing so gentle as real strength. I think this is what you will need to endure this particular transfer and to help both you and Elder Pulini. He is looking for you to guide him with a strong but gentle hand, to be a shining example that he can follow. We all look to someone from time to time and now is your time to be a leader. I know leading others is not really your thing but sometimes we all have up our game a little.
We had a great time in Rocky Point with Debbie and Bruce this past week. This was their second trip in two months and their first time driving. I think they are much more comfortable with Mexico and I suspect we will see more of them. They are very easy to get along with and Bruce is a wonderful cook. It is fun with him because he likes to try and cook different things and always puts a different twist on it. We ate very well needless to say. I think they would like to get Callie and Tracy down with their families sometime. It was a little cloudy but warm so we mostly read our books, don't fall over laughing as I did say read. We also played cards and watched some of your movies. I had forgotten how good of selection you have. When you get home we might have to have a movie session where we watch some of your movies for 10 hours, ha ha.
Cousin Kyle comes in tomorrow evening for a couple of days to play some golf with me. It should be a lot of fun and I am really looking forward to it. The Garriss trophy is up for grabs, except there is no trophy just pride. He is not working right now as his department was shut down when a new company bought his company that he worked for. He does have a full years worth of pay coming so he is taking a little time off before getting back to work.
Well that is about it for me for this week. I look forward to your letter tomorrow and hope you have had a fantastic week. I pray everyday for you.
This week was a pretty good week. We had a fun New Years! Well, we just worked but that was fun enough haha. On New Years Eve, we had to come in early and do our weekly planning because the mission didn't want us out past 6 o'clock. It doesn't really get "crazy" in Sammamish but I could definitely understand why they wouldn't want missionaries out past 6 in places like Gehtto Seattle and Downtown Seattle. I can only imagine haha. January 1st was a normal proselyting day for us.
We had the opportunity to kick off the New Year right though with a surprise visit from President and Sister Choi. On the 2nd, President Choi felt inspired to come and visit us to do an apartment check and conduct personal interviews with Elder Pulini and I. It was inspiration because it was way needed. Our apartment was a mess. It wasn't "dirty" because I clean everything multiple times a week but it was not picked up and organized at all. Most of it was my companion's stuff but I won't blame him for it. Its just as much my fault for not saying anything. It was a pretty big surprise for us to have President Choi show up. As I said, my companion isn't the most obedient so when he walked into our apartment, I was studying but my companion was in the other room on the couch in his pajamas. I don't know if he was studying or not but it surprised him quite a bit. President Choi interviewed us each individually and then together. He told me he was disappointed in the appearance of the apartment and proceeded to question me about my companion. Elder Pulini's interview was a bit longer and from what Elder Pulini told me, a lot more chastening went down. I guess President told Elder Pulini that if he doesn't shape up, he's getting sent home. Now, I have to text President every night an obedience and disobedience percentage for each of us individually.
I learned a lot from this encounter with President. One, was that he is truly inspired and truly loves each of his missionaries. I have been struggling with my companion for awhile and it wasn't really getting any better. Two, I learned that I need to be a better leader. I'm not sure how yet, but I need to. This has been an interesting transfer so far. I have learned a lot and made a few mistakes a long the way, but you grow the most during your trials.
Something I learned this week comes from my study of the Book of Mormon and from the guidance of a previous leader. I was reading in the Book of Mormon and was inspired to look back at my notes. I remembered specifically a single phrase "Don't get stuck in Bountiful." Now I don't mean Bountiful, Utah -- I'm sure its a great place -- but instead it comes back to the land Bountiful in the Book of Mormon, the Bountiful that Nephi and his brethren came across just before building a ship and crossing the ocean. Now Nephi and his brethren had passed through 8 years of hardship "yea, even so much that we cannot write them all" (1 Ne 17:6) before reaching the land "called Bountiful, because of its much fruit and also wild honey" (1 Ne 17:5). Bountiful was a fantastic place. It was a seaside vacation! It had much fruit and honey, things that were scarce to this nomadic family. Yet, the Lord had promised them a "promised land" that would be even better. How easy would it have been for them to stop (in fact Laman and Lemuel wanted to) and say "life is good enough". The Jaredites did exactly that when they took their trip to the promised land. They postponed their blessings for 4 years waiting around in Moriancumer before finally being chastened enough to repent and put their faith in the Lord (Ether 2:13-15). Yet it took faith in the Lord that he would provide something better than Bountiful and Moriancumer. Nephi and his family as well as the Jaredites could not see this promised blessing, for all they could see was an ocean. For all they knew, there wasn't anything out there except a watery grave. Yet by placing their faith in Christ, "nothing wavering" (James 1:6), that faith took them to the promised land where they found a greater abundance of everything and a blessing greater than that of Bountiful (1 Ne 18:24-25). Have faith in Christ and "Don't get stuck in Bountiful".
It was great to have the opportunity to talk to you on Christmas day!! I loved it! Although contrary to popular belief, I didn't feel very well on Christmas day. We'll cover that later.
Its been a pretty fun last couple of weeks! I feel like I have so much to catch up on in this email since I haven't emailed in 2 weeks. We spent much of the week visiting formers and less actives that Elder Pulini was working with when he was here the first time. We also visited a lot of Members. Elder Pulini was truly beloved in this ward and they are very excited to have him back! Some quick facts about Elder Pulini:
-He is a national rugby player. He played for the Tongan National Team and has played against teams such as the New Zealand All Blacks.
-He is the only member in his family
-He is from Tonga
-I get to teach him English
It has been pretty fun to get to know him and serve with him. He truly loves everyone!
On the 20th, we had a Stake Presidency Missionary Breakfast. It was the Stake Presidency and all the Missionaries in the stake went to one of the Stake Presidency member's home for breakfast. It was pretty sweet! It was an opportunity to meet the stake presidency and the other missionaries in the stake.
We did find a new investigator this week! His name is Curtis. I don't know how solid he is, but he does have a bit of curiosity about the Book of Mormon. We will be meeting with him later this week hopefully. Once we are able to help him feel the spirit, we will be able to teach his whole family. That would be great to have a family we are teaching!!
On Christmas Eve, we had breakfast with the Savage family. They invited over the Muhlestein's and it was a ton of fun! The Savages are a great family although we found out that they will be moving! :(( Oh well, they're moving to Utah so I'm sure I'll visit them sometime. Later on we did some weekly planning and had the opportunity to visit with Jing for a few. She's still doing great!! We had dinner with the Muhlestein's that night. They had a double whammy of Missionary that day haha. They are a super fun family, so we really enjoyed ourselves! We ended the night with Elder Pulini calling home from the Gutke's in an attempt to get in touch with his family. Its a 21 hour difference so we got permission to call on Christmas eve instead. He talked with them only briefly and ended up calling the next day.
Christmas day we got up and did our normal studies and stuff before heading over to the Gardner's for a couple of hours in the morning. Christmas day was our p-day so we were able to hang out and play some games with them in the morning. We moved from there to Skyping from the Gutke's place. After Skyping, we went to the Beatty's home for dinner! We had a lot of fun there. The Beatty's are awesome. We had a good dinner and they gave us some Christmas presents (most of the families out here have, I just forgot to mention it). We went to the Caldwell's last and played some scum with them before going home. I hadn't been feeling tip top all day but I started to really not feel very well over at the Caldwell's and when we got home I went straight to bed. That only last a little bit, because at 11pm I was up and vomiting. That continued for every 30 to 60 minutes from 11pm until about 9am. Around 7:30am, all that came up was blood so I called the mission nurse and Sister Choi and was given permission to stay in for that day. I got a blessing from elder Pulini and Sam Caldwell at about 9 and I didn't lose it at all after. The miracles of blessings! It turns out I just had a little bout of food poisoning from something. We can't figure out what. I'm totally fine now by the way and actually by about 3pm, I was cleared to go out. All we did was spend time with the Caldwell's because that's all I had the strength for but at least we weren't stuck in the apartment. What's a mission without at least one battle with food poisoning?? I seriously don't want to try it again though...
Yesterday, we had a fantastic day! Church was really good! We had 2 missionary Homecoming talks. They were quite inspiring. We had a very rushed dinner with the Millett's because we had the Member and Missionary Fireside. We were participating in the choir and Jing was speaking!! She gave a amazing testimony!! It was so amazing to watch her speak to 600+ people about how she joined the church. I was so happy!!
Overall, it has been a great 2 weeks. I hope you have enjoyed your Christmas!! Happy New Years!!!! I love you!
We loved having the Elders over this evening. They make a good team - it's such a contrast your son and our son compared with Elder Pulini. Both our boys have so much support and love from home with continued emails and packages. Elder Pulini's mother passed away when he was 11 and her dearest wish was for him to join the church in Tonga. But when he wanted to serve a mission his father basically disowned him.
The two make a really good team - Elder Garriss was telling us about Jing, the wonderful woman from China they tracked out and found and baptized. They are still doing such a great job teaching her and she' s been asked to speak at the regional Recent Converts Fireside next week!!
We also had a great time trash talking about the Cardinals vs. Seahawks game we were recording (sorry about that loss!!)!!
Well, today is transfer day. Elder Egbert got transferred. He got sent out to Kirkland. The ward is going to miss him. But on the brighter side, I stayed and my new companion is Tongan!! Yeah buddy!! His name is Elder Pulini and is literally straight from Tonga and is a famous Rugby player. He's massive compared to me. I look like a little twig. I'm excited to serve with him. This is his 7th transfer (for those of you who don't could in transfers--been out for 9 months). We are going to have a lot of fun together.
Not too much to talk about work wise. We are still working to find some investigators. I know we will be able to. We had an amazing Zone Meeting this week taught by our Zone Leaders. That was pretty exciting! It was powerful. On Thursday, we had a Mission Christmas dinner. It was a lot of fun. We watched videos that each Zone made about Christmas. Some were funny, others were more spiritual. Overall, they were all great! At the end, President Choi gave all of the Elders a special Washington Seattle Mission High Expectations tie as a Christmas present! It is so sweet! It has our missions logo on it at the bottom. I didn't take a picture of it, but I'll show you it on Christmas day.
Outside of that, not much else happened. I won't be emailing again until the Monday after Christmas because our next p-day is Christmas day and we will be skyping. I don't know what time yet, but I will make sure you know. I hope you got my package!! Anyway, I love you and I can't wait to chat on Christmas day!
Elder Connor Marshall Garriss
Jing took us to dinner at a Chinese restaurant.
The Caldwells! Only 2 pictured because the rest of them weren't home, but Brother Caldwell is who I think of when I hear the talk "The Priesthood Man" by President Eyring.
No quote this week :( I forgot to write it down... Anyway...
It was a pretty good week. The clouds came back but we avoided the rain until today! That was nice. It was warmer too since the clouds were back.
As for the work -- we found some solid families that we can potentially work with. Still no new investigators yet, but hopefully soon! We had our ward Christmas party! It was a lot of fun (even though it was a Christmas Breakfast which I have opinions on but we'll save that for another day and another time). We were able to connect with some of the members of the ward.
We have had quite a few missionaries come home in the last month. About 3 in this ward. Pretty sweet! Oh! We got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional on Sunday. It had a wonderful Christmas spirit to it. What a great blessing!
I had the opportunity to teach Gospel Principles again this week. My lesson was on the Post-Mortal Spirit World. I was told it went well. I have found that I really enjoy teaching! Especially in the classroom setting that Gospel Principles supplies.
Last night we had dinner with the Nelsons and they invited Jing to come too. We had taught her over there a few times so they have become friends. We watched the Restoration movie with her and she loved it! She is seriously so solid and committed. I also had a Candy Cane Standoff with Eli Nelson. It is on Natalie Nelson's snapchat storyline should you desire to witness my standoff abilities. :D
I finished the Book of Mormon again. What a blessing! This time through, our mission presidency challenged us to read a blank copy marking only the words of God and Jesus Christ and any descriptions of them (in 2 different colors -- one for words, one for descriptions). It has been our own Christmas present to ourselves and it is a pretty neat testimony of the Book of Mormon being a witness of Christ as you flip through the pages and only see one or 2 without highlights on them.
Overall, a pretty good week. I really appreciate your prayers! Thank you so much for praying for us to find investigators. I know that your prayers (and ours) are being heard and we are being blessed with opportunities to find new investigators. I love you and can't wait to talk to you on Christmas!
This week was a great week because it was Thanksgiving and we went to the temple today!!!! Woohoo!!! Outside of that, we didn't see much success. People were nice, but no new investigators which means we still have 0 investigators. If you could, pray specifically for us to find a family to teach. We are in need of it.
Thanksgiving was fantastic though! We were able to spend time with the Gardners and the Caldwells, two of my favorite families in the ward. It was super fun! We had Thanksgiving dinner with the Caldwells.
Jing is doing really well still! She is continuing to come to church and is loving everything about the Gospel! She is like a sponge -- just soaking it all up!
Well, that's about it for the week. Sorry for the short email -- I just don't have much to report on. I hope that will change next week! I love you!