Monday, November 26, 2012

Very Hungry!!! and I just wanted to hug them all...

Things are going well here. Training is fun with another companion. Our new companion, Elder Kuila is a funny guy. He is polynesian and huge- taller than me and over 300 lbs! He is very humble but also very hungry. We got a huge tin of the Church's hot chocolate last week and he has killed half of the tin now. He found out we had an Asian restaurant in our area and asked to go there. We took him and he ate over 24 Wontons! Awesome!
He also opened one of my Irn Bru's, took a few sips and then put it back. But we won't talk about that. Ha ha...
There are a lot of polynesians in this mission and they are all interesting. There is a Tongan Sister out here who is awesome! She is also very hungry. One day, on P-Day we packed lunchs of bread to make sandwiches, peanut butter, some pudding, Cheetos, etc. She asked if she could have some Cheetos and we said sure. We came back to our lunchs later and found that she ate ALL the Cheetos, both of our puddings, and opened and ate half of our brand new peanut butter jar...... probably without any bread.
Good stuff....
Honestly, it feels like a Southern California vacation down here, not Christmastime. People have lights up and the trees are a beautiful variety of colors, but it still smells like ocean and the temperature is too dazzling to be true. It's amazing and beautiful. 
Want to know something weird? Promise you won't tell anyone?
I'm going to assume you said "Yes." So yesterday, we were asked to go help teach the primary kids how they can be missionaries now and prepare to be missionaries in the future...... and I kind of liked it. That's strange because normally I do everything I can to avoid children, but sitting in the back during singing time it was hard, if not impossible, not to sing with those little bundles of joy. I just wanted to hug them all.
Moments gone. Back to work.
                                                                                  -Elder Ryan A. Bell
Editors Note: I did promise not tell anyone and have kept his secret for almost a whole month before I finally cracked and decided to publish his comments, I just could not help myself from hitting send,,, this stuff is priceless! Sorry Ry Ry...

Monday, November 19, 2012

Three's Company!!

My Friends!
Would you like to know what happened to me this week?................................................. I stayed. Indeed, I will be a dweller of Spring until New Year's. So, my address is still the same. My companion in still the same as well. Elder Jimenez will be giving this area try number 3 and hopefully we will get it right this time. One thing did change though- we both got a call from President Pingree asking us to train a new missionary together. His name is Elder Kuila from Southern California (Born in Hawaii). He is awesome! Definitely an interesting past, but we are so stoked to have him out here with us. What a great personality! His third day here he drank 5-7 Yoohoo's and then filled the empty bottles with Kool-Aid and drank about another 3.
You can see a picture of the three of us together on the mission blog.
Having another Tripanionship is awesome! It definitely has logistic challenges, but it is powerful to have three set-apart missionaries working together to bring souls to Christ! It gets a little silly a lot of the time, so keeping us all focused is tough too, but when we are in the game, it is incredible.
This Thanksgiving we had a miracle and were invited over to a less-active, part-member families home for dinner; so we will spend much of the day out there. Then, we will go to another great family from Payson, Utah and spend some time with them. The wife just fulfilled her dream of being a published author and asked for our address, so you may see a book come in the mail.
Things are great here, time is short, and I grow weary of typing.
                                                                             -Elder Ryan A. Bell

Monday, November 12, 2012

13 is a Lucky Number !!

My Friends!
Guess what? It has been like 80 degrees all week here in Houston. BE JEALOUS!!!! People are still outside swimming in pools! YEA!
I think you will all be pleased to hear of some wonderful happenings with the Atoigues this week. On Wednesday, we went over to have our barbecue and decided to teach the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them again (The first lesson in Preach My Gospel that Missionaries are to teach). At the end of the lesson, we invited CJ (The youngest son) and Arthur (The cousin from Guam) to be baptized. This definitely caught them off-guard, which I thought was a great thing. Inviting people to be baptized, if kept in appropriate bounds and doing it when the Spirit is present, is NEVER a bad thing! If they say "No" or are uncomfortable with the idea, the thought will still work itself in their minds long after the moment has past. This will at least get them thinking about baptism, and thinking much more seriously about it than before. To me, this is the perfect, "Are you really serious about this?" question.
Of course, CJ and Arthur were both very surprised by the invitation and responded with "Uhhh..... we'll pray about it. But you definitely should come over and study with us more." Perfect! They realize they are not ready and desire to meet more often to get there. Very good. But this invitation had a more far-reaching effect than either Elder Jimenez or myself anticipated. As we were leaving, Brother and Sister Atoigue walked us out to our car. Brother Atoigue, out of nowhere said, "You guys be prepared; it's coming." Elder Jimenez laughs, but I was confused. I thought it was a "Obama got re-elected, the End is coming" kind of thing. So I asked him, "What do you mean?"
"You know....... BAPTIZE!" he responds. "Every time I read the book (Book of Mormon), I feel like God is pushing me to do it." Sister Atoigue was not expecting this either and says, "So how is December 1st? That's the 13th anniversary of the day your dad and mom died. Some people think 13 is bad luck, but it's actually good luck." (Which is true, it's Mom's lucky number.) So we left with Ernest feeling good about that date. Who would have thought?
It was a cool experience! The Spirit worked on Ernest just as much as it did on CJ and Arthur when they were taught true and fundamental doctrine and then invited to be baptized.
It sounds like you all had a great week with the homecoming and such. Transfers are this week, so call the Mission Office to find out where I will be or just wait until next Monday and see.
Thank you all for the outpouring of love, support, and encouragement! It means the world!
                                                                                            -Elder Ryan A. Bell

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Stranger From the South speaketh; hearken!

Family, Friends, Esteemed Associates,
Hello Again! The Stranger From the South speaketh; hearken! It pleaseth me to report that the baptism of Wayne Bennefeld this week was a marvelous event! As I told you last Monday, Wayne went to the hospital for diverticulitis last Saturday. We visited him often this week and kept asking to see if he would like to move his baptism back. (It was scheduled for Saturday, November 3rd) That man has faith to put is all to shame! He said that he wanted his baptism to be on Saturday and he would do it whether or not he was still in the hospital. He said he would say he was "Going for a walk" for an hour or two, go and get baptized, and then come back before they knew what happened. Fortunately, he did not need surgery and was released from the hospital on Thursday.
His baptism was awesome! Very powerful! I will get a copy of his testimony and send it, he says that he KNOWS he is in Texas at this time just for this. He was originally a very successful chef and owned a couple Italian Restaurants in Arizona. When he divorced his wife she took everything and he was left in dust and ashes. But he says he knows this was for a reason. He ended up in Texas and was not sure why. Now, suddenly, he had an opportunity for work open up again in Arizona and will be heading back in the next couple of months to Gilbert, Arizona. His story is so touching!
Lately, I have been awakened to a desire to put all of my energy into studying the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Why study the Atonement? I will share with you something I have learned.
To be honest, the Gospel is exciting! There are many fascinating and deep subjects into which one might delve for further understanding and have a very enjoyable time doing it. There's the Spirit World, the Veil, Exaltation, Blessings and Cursings, Birthrights, the Millenium, Signs, and of course Kolob. These are all great things and very fun to study! But here is something I have come to realize lately, none of those things would matter in the slightest to us if it were not for the Atonement of Jesus Christ. That's kind of an interesting thought, isn't it? Seems a little harsh; but it's true.
If the Son of God had not submitted to the will of the Father and voluntarily offered Himself as our Savior, come to the world in a tabernacle of clay, and then endured the sufferings of Gethsemane and Calvary, to rise from the tomb on the third day; it would not matter if there were a Spirit World to return to, for we would never make it there. The Millenium, the Veil, and all these things would make absolutely no difference to us.
These tenets of the Gospel are like branches on a tree, they have no life except as given through the roots and trunk, or in other words, the power of the Atonement, which makes faith, repentance, baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, Spritual Gifts, Angelic Visitations, etc even mean something to us.
As stated by Jacob in Jacob 4:12 And now, beloved, marvel not that I tell you these things; for why not aspeak of the atonement of Christ, and attain to a perfect knowledge of him, as to attain to the knowledge of a resurrection and the world to come?
We can comprehend all things beginning from the root (Atonement) outwards. Then faith, repentance, baptism, the Sacrament, the Priesthood, Celestial Marriage, the Endowment, and every other part of the Gospel make sense; they have power and meaning when studied this way than as a lone, dead branch by itself.
My time is up, I go now back to the place of my dwelling.
Farewell to all! I love each of you dearly and thank you for your loving kindness and caring!

                                                                                  -Elder Ryan A. Bell