Elder Devin Kirk

Elder Devin Kirk
I am blessed to be the messenger that is permitted to bring this joyful message to those who are in great need. I have authorization from our Savior, Jesus Christ, to represent Him in this part of the world. I am given the ability to work miracles in the lives of the people. I am guided by His Spirit in all that I do and say. I am given power to testify boldly to all who will listen that Jesus is the Christ and that He has restored His Gospel in these days and that all can be forgiven and receive the blessings of living this Gospel. I cannot begin to express the gratitude I have to be called to this position and be blessed with this assignment.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Arizona Week 29 - Christmas

Hey everyone,

I hope you all had a good Christmas. Mine went well. I am now completely overrun by a variety of junk food and sweets; my soul is happy but my body opposes.

Things are going very well though. It was a good Holiday but it will be nice to have everyone back in town and to resume our routine of teaching. We did have opportunities to teach, of course, and we were able to find opportunities to give service throughout the week. In fact, on Saturday, we helped out an elderly couple with some branches that they had cut from a tree that was to be removed from their yard. We helped break up the sticks and put them in the bins. We were able to have a good conversation with them, and we received the payment of cookies and milk. We also set a time for us to return and remove the stump from the yard also. I have a good feeling about the future of our relationship with this couple. 

We were able to celebrate Christmas with the other missionaries we serve with. We had a Secret Santa gift exchange where the rule was that it had to be a homemade gift. The Elder I was to make a gift for played baseball in high school. I found an old piƱata stick in the apartment and carved it into a small baseball bat. He loved it, and I had a great time making it. The gift I received was not homemade, but I still liked it. It was a box of Aloha chocolate covered macadamia nut clusters. 

Yesterday, during church, Sister Casas (the woman that we recently baptized) received a calling to work in the primary. We're very excited for her.

We have some neat things coming up:

On New Year’s Day, we will have an activity with the missionaries in our zone and three other zones. We also recently learned that we will be able to take people to the Gilbert Temple Open House. But the really exciting one happens in January. Three missions will be together for a special meeting with Elder Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. We are looking forward to that opportunity with a lot of anticipation.


I hope you all have a great new year. Love you all.

Elder Kirk

Monday, December 23, 2013

Arizona Week 28 - 170 Ties

Hello,

I hope everyone is getting ready for Christmas and really enjoying this time of year. I also hope you all stay warm, I know I am. It's been an alright week. Many people are beginning their vacations with families and aren't home when we come knocking. However, when we do meet with people around this time it's a very nice experience. 

I see Christmas a little differently this year. I've been noticing many people that don't have much going on for Christmas or they have nowhere to go. I'm very pleased with my ward members that are reaching out to have other people join them for Christmas and doing other little kindnesses that are much appreciated. I would encourage you to seek for people that could use a family during Christmas. Ask the Missionaries if anyone they teach needs a place to go for Christmas Eve and day. 

We met a man this week that lived next to missionaries in the past. He talked about how he'd always like chatting with them and how they had helped him with things. He then had something click in his mind. He said, "You boys want some ties?" we paused for a moment, and he said, "Of course you do! You're missionaries!" He escaped into his apartment and returned with 2 BOXES. He emptied the boxes into 2 garbage bags that were then completely filled. He insisted that we take them all.  He told us that we could share them with other missionaries. We went to the church and counted them up. 170 ties total. We selected the ones that we definitely wanted and later literally  threw the rest of the ties to a group of Elders that tore through them like lions. What a great Christmas!

As for the rest of the week, it was fairly ordinary. We've been enjoying the difference of feeling around town as more people seem kinder and more generous toward others. 

I hope you all can feel it too; Merry Christmas to each of you. Have a great week.

Elder Kirk

Monday, December 16, 2013

Arizona Week 27 - It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas?

Hey everyone,

It's been another great week here in sunny Arizona! Hard to believe that Christmas is coming when its 60-70 degrees outside and there are no clouds in the sky. For some reason I don't think that I will be having a "White Christmas". Nevertheless, there is definitely the Christmas spirit in the air here. We have met many people that are nicer than you'd expect them to be. I do have, however, some stories about very unchristmasy happenings.

A few days ago, we went to visit a man that is not very active in the Church. He has some mental struggles and a smoking addiction. As soon as we walked in, I could tell he was a little off. A few minutes in, and he admitted to doing "something wrong." He told us that he was pretty high. Apparently he had given food stamps to a friend and the friend repaid him with "spice." He told us that he had smoked some a few minutes prior, and he did not like what it was doing to him. He made the decision to get rid of the rest of it. He pulled out the containers (2 of them, they were clear plastic cylinders with a black plastic twist on lid, much like something that would hold make-up) that had this herbal looking drug in them. He asked us to dispose of them. There was no way we were going to touch it! We said, "We think it would be best if you got rid of them. Just open them and flush the stuff down the toilet." He agreed and then asked if we could read Doctrine and Covenants 89 with him (he wasn't aware that it was the doctrine discussing the Word of Wisdom (which is a kind of health code that we follow) so that was kind of neat). After we left him, we started to exit the complex when we heard a woman yell HEY to us. We went back to see what she needed. When referring to the man that did the “spice,” we could defiantly say that it was a depressant...this woman was on something else. She spoke sooooo fast. The bits and pieces I caught were about "walking with Satan" how he's in her apartment every day, "the Holy Spirit in the Church helps with all" "the Church is true" "it talks about Ezra Taft Benson in the Bible" and she said she knew we were busy and bid us farewell. None of it made sense; then she was gone as quickly as she appeared. 






We have been able to get hold of a Christmas tree that we placed in our apartment. It's pretty basic but we really like it. 














We also acquired a scorpion. It came from one of the members who lived on the reservation. It was dead, but we had it for a bit.








One of the Zone Leaders went on exchanges with me, and we worked in his area with his other companion (2 Zone Leaders with 1 other missionary = their companionship so I just swapped with one of the Zone Leaders). They serve on the Indian reservation here. A lot of crazy things happened but the biggest one was in the evening. A member was performing the "hoop dance" at the casino, and we were invited to go watch it. The hoop dance is done with hula hoop type rings that they place together and intertwine on their bodies to make the shapes of various animals such as the turtle, eagle, etc. So we drove to the casino. We went inside and experienced an overwhelming smell of cigarette smoke. We asked the first person we found that works there where the hoop dance was so that we wouldn’t just wander about. They weren't aware that it was happening but they said to check the "showroom." We searched for it for a minute and had to ask another worker, "Where's the showroom?" With a confused look on their faces the pointed us in the direction we had asked to go. It turns out that there was a "Christmas" show happening in there. I place that in parenthesis for reasons I'm sure can be figured out. We then learned that there are, in fact, two casinos on the reservation...we ran from there like we were fleeing from Sodom. We quickly drove to the other casino and the cycle restarted. We asked for the showroom in this casino and received the same turning of heads and confused looks. Then, we learned that the show we were looking for was just outside the casino, and we could have found a way to get there without going through the actual casino at all. We showed up just in time and saw the hoop dance. It was really neat to watch. Apparently, some of the performers were in a music video for Nelly Furtado. The fastest way back to the car afterwards was...through the casino. We again waded through this land of sin and busted out the other end as if to be fleeing from Gomorrah. We were still in awe that this had all happened but at least we got to see the hoop dance. 

Those are my exciting experiences for the week. It's been a good one. I hope you all are having a good holiday season so far. May God bless you all.

Elder Kirk

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Christmas Card

Elder Kirk sent us a Christmas card. 


He and his companion had previously gone to a ward 50's style Halloween party where they put on these hats and called it, "good." 

Then, they decided that their pictures would make an awesome Christmas card. I agree!



Monday, December 9, 2013

Arizona Week 26 - Fire Revisited

Hey Everyone,

It's been an alright week; fairly ordinary. It's been cold. One day, it was in the 80s and 90s then the next it was in the 30s and 40s...and it's been the same ever since. Pretty cold for a bike but it makes people feel more inclined to inviting us into their homes. 



Three interesting things happened this week. The first was when we came home one evening. At the top of the stairs, we found two little kittens. We pet them for a minute then went to the apartment. When we opened the door, they both bolted inside. We let them roam around the apartment for a while until one of them left a little present on the broom...that got them a ticket back to the outside, but they hung out around the door for a few more hours before heading off.


The next thing was our trip to the Visitors Center at the Mesa Temple. They started a tour for missionaries to learn about all the different things we can use there. The cool part was what we rode in: a limo. One of the members of the Church in our Stake has a limo and drove us all down there in it. So that was pretty cool.





The last one was the Christmas party for our ward. It was a 1950's themed party so we just added era style hats to our wardrobe and it totally worked. We got a lot of compliments and pictures taken of us by people there. 







Earlier in the day, (here's where the fire comes in) we were up where the food was to be cooked (they had steaks for the party). In our ward is a young man from Russia that was adopted when he was young and he's about 15 now. He was driving a homemade go kart (I'm not sure who it belonged to). He did power-slide in front of the house we were stopped at. We all thought it was pretty cool. So, he took off going down the street, and we heard a pretty loud crash. Turns out he had tried the same thing but this time he flipped the kart. We soon realized that the motor was on fire. The flames continued to rise and spread onto the pavement from where the fuel had spilled. Fortunately it did not explode as many thought it would. Unfortunately, I did not have my camera with me so I do not have a picture of it. 

So yeah, pretty ordinary week. Hope you all are having a good holiday season. Love and miss you all.

Elder Kirk

Monday, December 2, 2013

Arizona Week 25 - Organization

Hey everyone,

I hope you all had a good Thanksgiving. I know that I enjoyed mine, all three of them. Apparently, everyone wants to feed missionaries on holidays. So we went to one at 12:00, one at 3:00, and one at 6:00. I don't advise doing this if you have other options. It was a dizzy bike ride home.

With the added generosity of the holidays, we have obtained a great deal of furniture. Most were things that people were ready to completely throw away but hey, a couch is a couch. So, the Spanish speaking Elders that we live with got a leather couch and seat and a fabric seat from someone’s front yard on the reservation. (We Lysol’d, bleached, and permethrin'd all of them to be entirely sure that they would not bring any infestations into the apartment). Then we got a 6' x 6' L-shaped IKEA desk and a bunch of office chairs. In the excitement of getting all these things, we didn't think about how they would all fit in the apartment...we have had idea after idea and diagrams drawn, measurements taken, feelings hurt, and tears shed. OK, so that is a bit of an exaggeration but it isn't too far from the truth; it's been a struggle. Hopefully next week I'll be able to tell you that it all got worked out but for now we have an upside-down couch in the middle of the room, and we aren't sure how to get it to where we want it.

Other than that I've had a great week. We went to the lighting ceremony for the family that we helped with the Christmas lights. It was a big celebration with a lot of people. Inside the house was just as spectacular as the outside. They have, in total, 41 Christmas trees of various sizes and styles. They like Christmas I guess. It's been fun though. I hope you all have a great week.

Elder Kirk

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Arizona Week 24 - Construction

Hello,

It's been a pretty good week. We just had transfers but my companion and I are staying in the same place. It was a really good transfer meeting though. We (my companion, Elder Tarr, Elder Krueger, and I) sang an arrangement of "Silent Night" and got a lot of compliments on it. I am sad about the transfer though because Elder Van Meeteren got transferred to a different zone, but I know that he'll do great things there and it's likely that we'll work together again in the future.

It was really neat this week. We started teaching a young mother and yesterday was our second time meeting with her. What shocked me a little was that she started taking notes! She's so interested in learning and, more importantly, remembering the things we say that she takes notes and reads all the things we give to her. She comes with questions and a great deal of understanding from the things she has read. It caught me off guard a little because I've never experienced that. Usually we can see people 2 or 3 days in a row and they remember very little. It's rather refreshing to be meeting with someone that truly wants to learn.




So, over the past few weeks I've gained a bit of a putation for my building abilities. Everyone knows that I can make pretty much anything out of cardboard and duct tape. 

I would say the most impressive of which is the bookshelf that I recently completed.





I learn something really neat this week from another missionary. He talked about the ten lepers that Christ healed. It says that all ten were healed but there was one that turned back to express gratitude and, of him, it is said that he was "made whole". There is a substantial difference between being healed or cleansed, and being made whole. Through Christ's Atonement, we can all be healed and cleansed from our mistakes but to be "made whole" we must show gratitude for that sacrifice He made that makes forgiveness possible. 

I love and pray for you all and I hope you have a great holiday.

Elder Kirk

Monday, November 18, 2013

Arizona Week 23 - From the Rooftops


Hey everyone,

I have had a great week. It's nearing the holidays and there are many opportunities to serve others and brighten their day. Also, we were able to host a Baptismal Service for a woman we have been teaching. The service was wonderful and there were so many people there to support her. She shared a few thoughts in Sacrament Meeting after she was confirmed, and I along with many others, was impressed by the strength of her testimony. 

There is a family that recently moved into a neighborhood that we cover. They first met us at a home of a member that we were going to eat with. About 10 minutes after we left their home, they called us to say that the family that moved in had invited us to their Open House party. So, we went and got to know them and it was a really good experience. The couple that lives next to them puts a large Christmas light arrangement on their house each year. The husband was out there working by himself and, after 10 minutes of trying to convince him to let us help, he finally gave in. So, we were climbing up ladders and getting on the roof and hanging a bunch of lights for him. All the while, we had a good conversation with him, and he was so happy that we were able to get so much done so quickly.



Later that day, we went to the home of member to help him install his security cameras. Up to the roof we went again. But this time we goofed off a bit. (attached is a picture of us preaching the Gospel from the rooftops). But we had an enjoyable day of giving service and meeting new people. Sorry this week’s is short, but I hope you enjoy the picture.

Elder Kirk

Monday, November 11, 2013

Arizona Week 22 - Consecration

Hey everyone,

This week we had a zone training meeting and our zone leaders introduced a new idea to the zone. They had already counseled together with Elder Van Meeteren and me about it, and we were very excited. They talked about being "consecrated missionaries" as it is mentioned in the talk "becoming a consecrated missionary" by Elder Callister. They concluded that everyone wants to be a consecrated missionary but it is a hard thing to tackle on one's own. They pitched the idea of a "consecration week". Seven days where everyone in the zone will help and encourage one another to be consecrated and giving all their time and energy to the Lord and His work. 

To open the week, we had a little ceremony where we had a "consecration box" and everyone took turns placing things that they would not use into the box. A few hobby items were placed in such as knitting materials and puzzles. Unapproved articles of clothing like boots were put in. Music and movies that don't meet the standards were put in and many slips of paper describing specific actions or behaviors that missionaries would avoid made it into the box. Then I went up. I placed in the box the activity of making videos with my apartment mates because it has become a time wasting distraction. I also put in my lock-picking utensils. That caught everyone off guard. Those that were not paying attention suddenly looked up with puzzled looks on their faces. This includes a visitor that we had; the man in charge of all the keys to facilities in the stake...So, thus I consecrated my homemade lock-picking things for the week.

On a more serious note, the consecration week is bringing great miracles to everyone who is fully participating. The first official day, Elder Watson and I extended 2 baptismal invites that were accepted and set for specific days. We taught many people, and we are seeing great progress in all of them. We are so pleased with how everything is going. We are finding new people to teach all the time. 

Things are going well for me, and I'm happy to be serving and to be consecrating myself and everything I have to the Lord. I love you all and pray for you.

Elder Kirk

Monday, November 4, 2013

Arizona Week 21 - Exchanges

Hey everybody,

I had a good week. Our ward had a Halloween party that was HUGE. It was crazy. We put fliers advertising it on everyone's door and many people came to it. 

I went with Elder Van Meeteren to a hand therapist for an appointment...I didn't even know that there was such thing as a "hand therapist". It was pretty funny. We got there and there were a bunch of machines for all the different types of physical therapies. I leaned over to him and said, "I bet they'll put you in a corner somewhere, and you'll use a tiny little machine that could fit in a large fast food cup." And that's exactly what happened. We were having a good time and joking around as usual. 

I conducting my first District Meeting ever and it went pretty well. I had others tell me that it was one of the most spiritual District Meetings they've attended in a while so that was nice to hear. 

I went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders so Elder Krueger was with me for the day to evaluate how I'm doing as a missionary and as a District Leader. It was a great experience. I began to realize some important principles about obedience. We are counseled to talk to everyone we can, and I've tried to do that a few times before, but I never saw success from it so I stopped. With Elder Krueger, we did talk to everyone and, although no one we talked to listened, we had other people approach us later in the day. For almost every person we talked to, another person came to us. I realized that obedience does not always bring blessings by way of the act; the obedience itself is what brings the blessing. Showing the Lord that you are willing to do all the He asks of you is what invites the Spirit into your actions and you are blessed for it. This is something that I am grateful to have learned early in my mission. 

I also will have the opportunity to conduct companion exchanges with the Elders in my District, and I'm looking forward to that privilege and opportunity. 


I hope you all had a good Halloween and that things are going well for you and your families. I love you all.

Elder Kirk

Monday, October 28, 2013

Arizona Week 20 - Fire

Hey there everyone,


It's been a really good week. We had a mission tour where a General Authority of the Church came to instruct us. We were blessed to have Elder Teh visit us and it was an amazing experience. Everyone was able to receive revelation during the meetings and it was great to feel the spirit that was there. Afterward, he interviewed a few missionaries (I don't know if it was random or if they were selected for him or if he decided who we wanted to talk to), but I was the first one. It's a little nerve racking to speak one on one with a General Authority but he is such an inspired man and I'm grateful to have had the opportunity to meet him.


The other day, Elder Davis made eggs in the morning and it kind of got all over the place (the pan was too small for the amount of eggs he was cooking). So later I was cooking some rice, and we to the fridge to get something when Elder Watson said calmly, "Elder, there's a fire." I turn about to see flames encircling the pot I was using and reaching about 8 inches over the top of the pot. "Oh." I say equally calm as I reach to move the pot away from the burner, "How about you get that rag wet." And as Elder Watson soaked the rag, I blew out the fire. It turns out that some cooking oil had spilled under the burner. We decided later that we should have reacted more violently and awakened the other Elders to get them to flee from the apartment but, oh well.

So, Elder Watson wanted some ranch for his pizza one afternoon and searched the fridge diligently but found none. We referenced back to a previous joke that said if he had enough faith he could command the mayonnaise to be ranch. He replied that his faith wasn't that strong. So, Elder Van Meeteren walked over and, looked straight at us said, "I have faith!" He then reached into the refrigerator still looking directly at us, and pulled out a bottle of ranch dressing. We of course all freaked out and were astonished at the "miracle." It was one of the funniest things ever.

The neatest experience I had this week was at a care facility for the mentally impaired (mostly memory). This facility is within our ward boundaries. We were asked to assist in the Sacrament meeting held there on Sunday. It was a wonderful experience. There were not very many people but they, even with their health difficulties, could recognize the spirit and wanted to feel it whenever they could. It was wonderful to see their dedication and desire to take the Sacrament each week. Elder Watson and I blessed and passed the Sacrament and spoke in the meeting. I feel that I have a stronger appreciation for the blessings I have, but I feel blessed to have been able to help the wonderful brothers and sisters at the facility renew their covenants. I hope that I get to visit there again.


I can tell you all that I am doing better than ever before and I know that I have grown much in the past week. I'm so grateful for your prayers and I pray for you all as well. I hope that all is well.

Elder Kirk

Monday, October 21, 2013

Arizona Week 19 - Poor in Heart

Hey everyone,

Little bit of a crazy week. My companion and I came in knowing nothing about the area (white-washing) and so we had to learn quickly. We've met a lot of people in the area, and we LOVE the ward. They are great people and very close knit (probably because most can see 3-4 other member's houses from their front doors). They are very excited to have a set of missionaries assigned only to their ward. We have a woman that has decided to be baptized in November, so we will be preparing her for that. Her husband is nearing the decision to be baptized as well, so we're very excited for them. 

A bit of a change of pace for me training a new missionary and being a new District Leader, but I'm adjusting. My new companion is doing really good and learning a lot. I'm getting to know my District a little better and seeing their strengths. I had a District Leader Orientation with the other new District Leader and the Zone Leaders. They are awesome, and I'm so excited to work with them. 

You may remember me telling stories of the other District Leader, Elder Van Meeteren. He is the missionary that I took to the hospital for the broken hand. Also, he was one of the Spanish missionaries that we helped with putting that washing machine on top of the truck a while back. I'm so excited to be working with him. 

I can't think of any funny stories from this week, but I got to speak for a few minutes in church yesterday, and I'd like to share with you what I shared with them. We were asked to speak on faith and to base our talks around Alma, chapter 32 in the Book of Mormon. In this chapter, Alma is teaching a group of people when a second group approaches him. This second group is comprised of humble people in poverty that have been cast out from the synagogue because of their poverty. He begins to teach them about how to exercise and develop strong faith. I decided to focus more on the way the people were described. A few times, the chapter referenced them as they "whom were poor in heart". Things struck me and I started to explore what it is to be poor in heart (or poor in spirit as the footnote suggests). I decided that it was a feeling a hopelessness. They didn't feel like they had worth or that they could be accepted by man or by God. Later in the chapter, faith is described as a "hope for things which are not seen, which are true." So, if one does not have hope, they do not have faith (or at least not strong faith). There is a definite connection between the two. I also discovered in the Bible Dictionary that an effect of true faith is "an actual knowledge that the course of life one is pursuing is acceptable to the Lord". These people, lacking in hope and therefore lacking in faith did not have the knowledge that God accepts them or what they do. I feel that we sometimes experience moments of being poor in heart or poor in spirit. In these times, we need to hold to our faith and do what we can to strengthen it. The rest of Alma chapter 32 explains how to do this. If you fear that the way you are currently living your life is not acceptable to the Lord, I would invite you to take the time to strengthen your faith in Jesus Christ so that you can gain this knowledge and a hope for the future. I love you all and I pray for your safety and well being.

Elder Kirk

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Arizona Week 18 - The Phone Call

Hello everyone,

This week was transfer week. But I would like to start with a phone call that I received on this past Saturday:

I answered the phone, "Hello this is Elder Kirk"
"Elder Kirk. This is President Sweeney. How are you?"
"I'm doing just fine, President."
"Well I'm about to change that" and after some silence.. "for the better I'm hoping"
Some relief...
President, says to me, "We're going to transfer you to the Papago Zone, and we have a new companion for you. He will be arriving from the MTC on Monday, and you will be responsible for training him. Also, we are going to ask that you serve as a District Leader there. Would you be alright with doing these things?"
A little in shock but trusting the inspiration President Sweeney receives I replied with a yes. 

Interestingly, I am replacing a District Leader here, and he will still be in my District. President Sweeney explained that they do not do that very often but that is what needs to happen. He said he wasn't even sure the purposes behind this transfer, but he feels very strongly that this is the will of the Lord. He anticipates that this will begin to make sense in the long run. 

Regardless, I am now serving in the Mesa 20th Ward with my new companion, Elder Watson, who is now in his second day in the mission field. Elder Watson is from North Carolina and is fresh out of high school ready to take on the world. I have to keep explaining that we don't do door-to-door "tracting" anymore. He is just so excited to be a missionary that he wants to knock on every door to tell them that the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the Priesthood of God have been restored. I can tell that we are going to have a great time working together.

The transfer meeting went well. We were able to show another video that we had made and people really enjoyed it. It is hoped that Elder Clark and I will continue working on these things but it seems like it won't be nearly as much as before. No matter, I had a great time doing all of those extra things, but I am grateful to be able to focus myself on teaching people about the church. 

We walked the ward boundaries last night. Yes, I said "walked." From one end to the other, it takes about 25 minutes on foot. It's a very small ward but there are around 300 members of the church in the few square mile area of the ward. We met a few of the members last night, and they are wonderful people. 

It was difficult to say goodbye to the many people that I grew close to, but I know that the Lord has need of me in this new place. I am looking forward to the things that I will do here and the growth that I will have. I love you all and I hope the best for you.

Elder Kirk

PS congratulations to Megan and Sophia on your mission calls. I know that you will be wonderful missionaries and that you will love the work you will do. Best of luck to you both.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Arizona Week 17 - Just Stopping By

Hey everyone,

This week has been a little crazy. We received a text from the Mission President and then from his wife asking, "Will there be a video to show at the Transfer meeting?" which, being interpreted is, "I hope you have a video ready for the transfer meeting because we expect one to be shown." So, we've been scrambling to put together some things that we've been working on. This week, will be even crazier because we have until Saturday. But we'll get something together in time, I'm sure.

Tomorrow we will be going to a recording studio to get the music done for our ASL video. Once we get that done, we will be able to post it on the blog so that you all can see it.

The coolest thing that happened this week was a few nights ago. We had written down in our plans to stop by the house of a family in the Ward. We weren't sure why we were going to stop by because it's a good family, and they are doing well. So, we stop by and it turns out they were having dinner with some company: a man and his wife and son. We were invited in to visit for a while. The man that was visiting stood up, walked over, and with a big smile gave a firm handshake to us and boldly proclaimed to both, "Hi, I'm Jim. I'm a Catholic, and I'm proud of it." At that moment I knew that it would be a fun night. We spent the next bit of time eating and answering many questions about missionaries and missionary work. The conversation took a turn to more doctrinal matters and it was at that point the members answered most of the questions and bore their testimonies of the church and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It was amazing to see that this conversation continued for a half hour or more. Feelings weren't hurt, no one was offended, and no one was rude or pushy. It was a pleasant Gospel conversation between friends that we just happened to be there for to unintentionally start. The visitors left at the end of the night and the members were very grateful that we just happened to show up.

I would encourage you all to seek for opportunities to speak about the gospel with others; especially speak with your friends. They trust you and if it is done with love and kindness they will not be offended.

I pray for you all. I hope that all is well.

Elder Kirk

Monday, September 30, 2013

Arizona Week 16 - The Right Place

Hello Everyone,

It's been an interesting week. We had a Zone Conference and the Mission President and his wife revealed the exciting news they learned at the seminar in Texas. 

Remember, they were at a Mission President Seminar in San Antonio, Texas with all the Mission Presidents in the Southwest Region and their wives along with some General and Local Authorities of the Church including Elder Anderson and Elder Callister. They learned many things and heard some exciting news. They returned on Sunday. Elder Clark and I went to the Office on Tuesday to work on the blog and the training videos. They were very excited but said they couldn't tell us why for another hour. During that hour, they called all the zone leaders to tell them the news. After which, Sister Sweeney came in to tell us all of it. So there are 50 missions in the United Sates selected to be a part of the FIRST wave of iPad missions. 10 of those 50 are in the Southwest. 1 of those 10 is the Arizona Scottsdale Mission. They will be fazing them in, and we will have them by no later than February. There were a few other things but that was the really exciting one.

There is a woman that has been learning about the church for over a year, and she is very close now to being baptized. She has made huge progress this week and has been reading a lot in the Book of Mormon. Previously, she would use the Index to find a verse of two that talked about how she was feeling or what she thought she needed. She is now reading entire chapters and even multiple chapters on her own. She has gained a testimony of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon, and she knows that Joseph Smith is a Prophet. It's very exciting to see her get to the point she is at now. We even invited her to share the Book of Mormon and her testimony of it with her mom. After many attempts (we had only expected her to try once or twice) she has now decided to get her grandmother involved in the church so that the two of them can work together to share it with her mom. It's amazing to see the faith that she has and the desire that she shows in sharing this with others that she cares about. I suspect that she will make the decision to be baptized in the coming month.

So on Thursday, the family that was having us over for dinner wasn't able to so they dropped food off for us at the apartment. While we ate we heard a noise that we couldn't identify. We quieted down and listen more closely. It was a woman's screams. I walked over to look out the window and Elder Clark looked through the peephole. I couldn't see anything in the courtyard so I figured it must be next door. All of a sudden, Elder Clark saw quick movement towards the door followed instantly by loud pounding. It startled us so bad that I fell off the bed I was on and he ran into the next room. I finally gathered my senses and looked through the peephole to see our neighbor and what I assumed to be her boyfriend that she lives with arguing on the door step, and he shoved her back and slammed the door. We stepped out to see if we could help, but she was so much in shock that there was no hope of getting any information from her. The door to her apartment opened again, and she walked in so we went back into ours. We felt that we should not yet leave. This was about 7:00 PM now. We then began to alternate looking through the peephole and listening in at the shared wall for the following 45 minutes. We could hear argument and yelling for a while but most of that time was filled with silence and no visible activity outside of the apartment. At last the door reopened and she emerged with a garbage bag, a backpack, and a duffel bag. We waited a minute and went out to find her sitting on the stairs (she said she sat there waiting for us because she knew that we were men of God that could help her). She expressed the need for a place to stay and immediately we thought of one of the people we teach. This man is so generous and serves others every day. We knew that he would sympathize with her situation and that he would be able to assist her. We called him, and he of course, wanted to help. The three of us walked out to the front of the complex to wait. We tried to figure out how we could get all of us over to the man's house (he's married and has 3 kids, by the way). It was now a little after 8PM. We waited a long time for him to come get us (not remembering that he didn't have a license, and he didn't mention that until way later). When he did finally mention that he couldn't drive, we called another set of missionaries to see if they knew of a member of the church nearby that could drive us to the man's home. This was at 9:20PM. We finally made it up to his house, and he agreed to shelter her for the night and to get her to the airport or bus stop in the morning. So we travelled back home and prepared for bed. It was now 10:20PM. The next day, we went by the home to see if everything went ok. They said that everything went fine and that a friend had come and picked her up and taken her down to Tempe. She plans and heading back to live with her parents in Northern California. It is such a blessing to be used by the Lord to help another person in need. Although we were exhausted from all the effort and prayers we had put in, we felt very good about what we had done for this young woman.

I know that our Heavenly Father is aware of each of us and knows how to help us. I invite each of you to look at you life and try to recognize the many times that the Lord helps you and blesses you. I love you all and I'll talk to you again next week.

Elder Kirk

Monday, September 23, 2013

Arizona Week 15 - Fort

Hello Everyone,
 
It was a good week. I don't remember everything that happened but it was good. 

Elder Clark and I have continued doing work for the Mission President including a training video and being sort of administrators of the blog. We recently redesigned the layout a bit if you haven't seen it; I'd go check it out. 

President and Sister Sweeney went to a conference or seminar of sorts in Texas with the other Mission Presidents in the Southwest to receive instruction and counsel from Elder Anderson. Many of them commented on our mission's blog and were very impressed to hear that 2 Elders in the mission were running it (I'm one of those if you didn't know). Many of them have decided to start their own blog. They learned of things that will be coming to our mission and new ways to share the gospel being implemented. We went to the office to work, and they were obviously very excited about what they were told. But, they said, they couldn't tell us for another hour (they had to tell the zone leaders first). But right after they told them, Sister Sweeney came to the mission home and told all haha. Unfortunately, our zone leaders have not made it known to everyone just yet so I still have to keep it a secret since I'm technically not supposed to know. But I will reveal it next week.
 
I've had some good fun this week. I showed Elder Harris a trick where I made a quarter disappear. He kind of freaked out and wouldn't relax until he found it, so we starting messing with him a little to see where we could get him to check (one of which being the room on the opposite end of the apartment. He finally figured it out when he felt my tie and found the quarter inside but Elder Clark recorded it with my camera so it's documented.
 



On Friday morning, an Elder came up from the office to deliver a dresser that we asked for. We spent quite a bit of time figuring out where to put it. We finally rearranged the beds a bit by rotating Elder Clark's and putting it against the wall. The dresser was placed at the foot of his bed with the drawers facing him if he were lying on the bed (so we can't use the bottom three drawers (they're broken anyway)). 







This caused the head half of my bed to be enclosed on three sides by 2 walls and the back of the dresser. 
After a comment by Elder Clark that I was closed off the idea came to use that extra blanket we have to build a fort around my bed. 













Missionaries can have fun too.









The Spanish missionaries contacted me the other day to inform me that I am to speak about the Holy Ghost at one of their baptisms. The woman being baptized asked for me by name (in a way). I have only met her once but, due to my glasses, she thought I looked like Clark Kent. So, forever more she refers to me as "Superman". And, when asked who she would like to speak on the Holy Ghost, she replied, "I want Superman to do it." And here we are. They have now told me that the service will, of course, be in Spanish. This woman does understand English but I have yet to decide which language I will speak.
 
A woman that we are teaching is nearing baptism. Previously, she would almost cringe at the word because previous missionaries would push it so much. She is now able to not only say the word "baptism" but knows that she needs to do it. We're helping her to understand more about what it will require and that it is not meant to destroy her English heritage (she holds to tea for the culture aspect we think). Also, the woman with the fear of churches, went to an activity at the church and walked around with a Sister in the ward that she has grown close to. So, a lot of exciting things are happening here, and we anticipate that it will continue.
 
I love you all and I pray that all is well in your lives. Take care.
 
Elder Kirk

Monday, September 9, 2013

Arizona Week 14 - The Price of a Soul

Hello Everyone,

It's been an exciting week. We have been continuing work on our ASL video. We need to get original music so that we have no risk of lawsuit if we ever post it online. So we've been asking around for pianists. The name of a member in our stake came up, so we gave him a call. He was happy to help us, and we set an appointment to come to his house. We received a call the night before from one of the Spanish Elders saying that he needed to get his bike fixed at the shop. Fortunate for him, the shop was on the way to this man's house.

So the next morning, we got to the shop, and they started looking at the bike while we browsed the shop. The bike guy comes over and starts talking about how they really need to train us about basic bike maintenance and repair before they send us into the field. "You guys destroy bikes!" was his forceful statement. And it was met by hysterical laughter from all of us (except the one with the broken bike). This poor Elder is a regular at this shop. He has been in there for more repairs than, I would say, the rest of us combined. The guy began to explain that the front derailleur is demolished. Upon discovering that he couldn't even describe it well enough, he decided to show this missionary. He took the missionary behind the counter to another bike that they were tinkering with to show him "what the front derailleur is supposed to look like". He then stated, "Let’s go look at yours. This piece should be on the other side of the chain. I don't even know how it could have gotten to be like this...this is all supposed to be one piece of metal. Yours is two..." The whole while this is happening, the other three of us are dying of laughter. Especially because the guy pointed out that the missionary had only had this bike for a month.

Anyway, we continued on to the man's house, excuse me, mansion. What the man had that told us about his piano skills completely undersold him. This man was beyond fantastic. He was able to do exactly what we had imagined from the begging of planning this video (and with these types of things; that never happens). Even better, he called on friend of his that has a recording studio (we learned later that this place normally costs around $42,000. to rent for an hour). Anyway, he tells the friend that he has a bunch of young missionaries from the Church that need some help recording. In his words, "You can either join the Mormon Church by letting these boys baptize you, or you can let us use your studio." So we will get to use his studio but we'll work towards the other option as well. We may even be blessed to have a violinist that studied at Julliard and performed with the New York Philharmonic. She's a member in a different stake. Oh, and did I mention that her violin is over 400 years old? I feel like the video itself is going to pale in comparison to the music within it but we are so excited.

One of the coolest things that happened this week was on Saturday. We didn't have anyone signed up to feed us, so we called one of the families that said they wouldn't mind having us over on short notice. But he was out of town and she was sick. We didn't; however, feel the urge to call anyone else. So dinner time came, and we drove around looking for a place to eat. We found "The Pizza Buffet and much, much more". The name of the establishment alone would have turned me away in a different situation, but we felt like we should eat here. We went inside and paid for the buffet (which came out to about $8 each) and started to look for a place to sit. My companion felt like we needed to sit all the way at the back kind of close to the arcade so we did. The food was bad; really bad but while we were eating, Elder Clark looked back into the kitchen area that was only visible from where we were sitting. He saw some cabinets and there was just a little space between the tops and the ceiling. In that little space, he could see a picture frame that contained a portrait of Jesus, the same one that we give out to people. This sparked our interest and we began to see why we needed to be sitting where we were. Before leaving, we asked the manager about the picture. She replied that it had been there since they first opened 8 years ago. We explained to her that it was the picture that we receive from the church to give to people. Then everything clicked together. She remembered that her grandmother had 2 missionaries come and bless the restaurant before they opened and that they had given the picture to them. We asked if she would like to know more about the church and she expressed that she knew very little and was willing to learn about it. So, we spent a total of $16 for food that was not kind to me later that night but It was very much worth it to me to be able to find this young woman who is seeking the truth. As it is said in the scriptures, "the worth of souls is great..."

I can tell you that we, as missionaries, are guided daily to find those who want to know more. I can also tell you that you can receive the same experience if you ask for it and as you look for opportunities to share what you know to be true.

I love you all and I miss you dearly. May God bless each of you.
 
Elder Kirk

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Arizona Week 13 - Hospital

Hey everyone,

We had another transfer this week (why I'm emailing on a Wednesday) but I'll get back to that later. This past week went pretty well. It feels like it was very busy as we had a deadline for our ASL video. We worked hard on it and it paid off. We were able to present it yesterday at the transfer meeting and received many good comments. As it turns out, I narrated the whole thing, but we modified my voice for the first one so that I would sound like the guy on the TV commercials. 

I would say that this week’s temporal highlight was at the hospital. We were playing sports on Monday morning and one of the Elders collided with another Elder's...finger. The injured elder was holding his hand close to his person cradled in his other hand. When he removed the cover of the uninjured hand, we were able to see the injured hand. We could see that his right ring finger was leaving his hand at an odd angle that placed it behind the pinky finger. Realizing that this isn't how it should normally be, we decided that he should go to the hospital. Being the driver of the only car we have, that responsibility fell on me. What a blessing. This Elder is one of my closest friends on the mission and gosh dang it we had a good time! During the two hours that we were there, there was very little time that I wasn't laughing. I have no doubt that everyone in the ER who interacted with us had their morning made (and quite honestly they really needed it because it was early). This Elder now has a cast, a sling, and has been referred to a hand surgeon. He has also been transferred. And this makes me sad. But we got to keep his mini fridge so it makes it a little better. He and I have grown very close over the past few months, but I know that he will enjoy the new area that he has been sent to.

Another good highlight is the baptism that I attended on Saturday. One of the Spanish Sisters asked if I would sing with her at the baptism. I agreed because I had sung with her at a previous baptism. Saturday came, and we met at the church building to practice. I was surprised to hear her say, "I can't find a Spanish Hymn book." I was in shock and immediately assured her that I did, in fact, NOT speak Spanish. Her reply was, "I have faith in you." So after much trial and error, I sang "Yo Se que Vive Mi Senor" at the baptism. Which, being interpreted, is “I Know that My Redeemer Lives". People assured me afterward that I did sing real Spanish words which was good enough for me. I learned later that one of the members of the Spanish branch bore their testimony about how they had never paid attention to the words of that song until we had sung it at the baptism. It always amazes be how the spirit can cross language barriers with ease, and I was so grateful for the opportunity that I had to participate in the baptism.

So transfers. I have not been transferred. I am remaining exactly where I am with the exception of being a part of a newly formed district which I am finding to be a huge blessing in my life. My companion and I will continue to work on projects assigned by the mission president. We're both excited for the things that we are getting to do. 

As for the spiritual highlight, it would be our lesson with the Chester Family. We have been meeting with them for a while with the intention of strengthening their family and getting them more active in the church. They've been struggling much. However, this time when we visited with them, it was different. The room felt different. They looked different. They sounded different. My companion and I both felt it. They were happy and so were we. We all smiled and spoke freely together. To think that we have had this much influence on this family brings a peace to my heart and motivates me to continue. I'm so happy for the changes that this family is making and how their faith is being strengthened. 

I pray for you all, and I pray that my words may be inspiring to you. I pray that you too can feel the joys of the gospel as I feel it. I love you all and miss you dearly. 

Elder Kirk

Monday, August 26, 2013

Arizona Week 12 - Green Ham and Eggs

Hey everyone,
 
This was a pretty full week. Didn't get to teach a whole lot but did some other things. First off, the work out that we redesigned and re-photographed is all done, printed, and is being assembled for distribution next transfer. President Sweeney was very happy with the way it turned out. Also, some of the photos I took while we filmed the ASL video have been posted on the mission's blog so go check them out. Come to think of it this week was a lot of knocking on empty houses so it felt like we did a lot but not much happened.
 
I would say that the highlight of this week was the service that we did on Saturday at 6:30 AM. That woman that we are teaching that has a hoarding problem needed help cleaning out the apartment now. One of the ward members who had become friends with her called us up to see if we could help. The next morning, we had a total of 9 missionaries there to help. Regardless of the situation, we had a blast. We found new and exciting ways to kill roaches including, but not limited to, various cleaning supplies, pet odor eliminator, foaming pet shampoo and of course standard bug spray. Just kidding on the bug spray, this was the king of bug sprays. It was called "Auto Trigger" meaning that it would produce a steady stream of poison that is accurate up to almost 15 feet (by our testing). Needless to say, everything in there was disgusting, and you felt the need to burn your skin when you left, but we all felt very accomplished and enjoyed giving this service. I would say the key moments were when we moved this bedside dresser and had a shootout with nearly 20 roaches (I should mention here that these are fairly small roaches only measuring about 1.5 inches (but then again they fly...)). We emerged victorious but many of us will never forget that day. The second key experience was......the fridge. This fridge was not readily accessible until after about half an hour of moving things. We opened the door to find a very full fridge. Some things inside were: apples from who knows when, individual restaurant sauce packets, what was lettuce at one point in history (we think), cheeses of every variety (and color), 2 cases of 5 dozen eggs, and an unopened package of bacon that was sporting a full coat of forest green color. It smelled…bad. But most of the floor was now visible and this woman was making major changes in her life, and we are all very proud of her. It's going to be hard, but we know that she will be able to overcome her challenges.
 
Transfers are next week so I’ll figure out my fate this Saturday. Looking forward to the future and where the Lord needs me to be. I hope you all have a great week. Love and miss you.
 


Elder Kirk

Monday, August 19, 2013

Arizona Week 11 - Lights...Camera...Sign

Hey everyone,

This week was very busy. We've had to put a lot of effort into the projects that the mission president gave us. We've been taking a lot of pictures and doing a lot of filming. Well I don't do the filming but I've been taking behind the scenes pictures. Today, we’re going to record the audio for the one Elder's rap and the narration for the ASL video. It's likely that yours truly will be providing the voice of Joseph Smith in this video so keep your ears open when the video goes onto the mission's blog. We've been having so much fun doing all of this though. I've built a lot of good relationships with the missionaries here, and we're having a great time working together.

We had a really good training meeting as a zone this week. Our zone leaders are such inspired missionaries. I'm so grateful to be able to work with them and learn from them.

After the meeting, one of the Sister missionaries said we should take a quick photo as a zone. We were starting to set the timers on the cameras when someone had the grand idea to have this woman that was in the building take the photo. She must have been a professional by the way she was acting (more so she thought she was a professional). This picture took at least 10 minutes to take. And I sometimes exaggerate things like that but this time I'm not. It seriously took over 10 minutes, ask anyone in the zone. It was ridiculous. And there's one missionary that just smiles so big, it totally fits his personality, but the woman said, "Wipe that dorky smile off your face; just calm down. We want this picture to look good." It was one of the worst pictures I've ever been in. But now we just have another story to joke about with each other. "Remember that zone pic?" It was an experience.

I also got to attend a baptism for the Spanish branch on Saturday (it's a long story to really explain why I was there). But I had to been asked to sing with a few other missionaries there for the baptism...the baptism that I was told would be done in English...I was shocked to hear that it was actually going to be done in Spanish...but then it was clarified that we would be singing in English. False alarm. It was really great to participate in that though. There's an interesting Spirit that one feels when a service is in a different language. I really enjoy opportunities like that.

It's been a really fun week though. I love you all and miss you all. Talk to you next week.

Elder Kirk



Elder Van Meeteren filming with his DSLR, Elder Clark filming with a GoPro, Elder Sessions holding a poster to bounce light, Elder Quiner signing the first vision

Same but with Elder Vete signing the lead in to the first vision


















Brother Call taking photos of Elder Faughnan for the workout







Elder Quiner found some pants on the ground. He titled this one "O, Jerusalem"
















Elder Sessions and me, behind the scenes photographers.








Musicians Daryl Williams and Christina LesueurRecording voice-over

With the sound board