Monday, January 16, 2017

Pictures Dec 27, 2016 - January 16, 2017

January 16, 2017 ~ Transfer 4 Week 3


I little about the culture. Right now is what is called "rebajas" which is like Black Friday sale prices on clothes and other stuff but it lasts for like a month and a half. So on Preparation days head over to the malls and check out the deals they have =) I haven't bought anything yet =) also there are knife-sharpener men who blows a flute/pipe instrument thing (really loud) and then people come down and have their knives sharpened.

Also, for Día de los reyes, a holiday to celebrate the 3 wise men, we did an activity with the youth. We ate a cake called rascón and there is a Rey (king) inside and who ever finds it gets to keep it and wears and crown from the rest of the day. I found it haha 

There were so many miracles this week. We passed by a investigator and right when we got there he was carrying a bedframe out and we got to help him out and then had a great lesson. We have had a great week with investigators. One youth investigator is a sister of a member and she is so ready to be baptized. We had an amazing lesson with her and talked about what she felt about reading the scriptures, praying and doing the basics that help us better our relationship with God. 

We also had intercambios (companion exchanges) this week. I was with Elder Bataller (a native) and then we also had intercambios with the zone leaders (because my companion is a District leader). I learned a lot from both of them. I learned how to answer hard gospel questions in Spanish and how to help people find solutions to their problems. Like sometimes people don't "have enough time" to read the scriptures and I've learned better how to help them talk through their problems so we can find them a solution.

I've learned a ton this week. It's been difficult but I have learned a lot. I've learned about how much God really does love us and how important the Atonement, the act of Christ suffering for our sins, is for us even today. God loves us, He loves you. Our Heavenly Father did not leave us on our own. He has given us prayer and the scriptures  (His words) to guide us. Use those tools. Pray, read the scriptures, really learn to enjoy the time you have to strengthen your relationship with your Heavenly Father.

Love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Openshaw

January 9, 2017 ~ Transfer 4 Week 2

Hi family and friends!

During this week were many learning experiences =) I'll start out by explaining a funny one first:

Tuesday I was making calls to set up lessons for the week. Elder Hale and I talked about calling a future investigator named Snider. Then we talked about calling a member named Oswaldo and setting up a lesson with their friend named Marina. And so I called, I had already put a number in the phone and I thought it was Oswaldo's. A woman answered the phone (who I thought was Oswaldo's wife) and I talked about setting up a lesson and doing a family home evening with her and Oswaldo and inviting their friend, Marina. For some reason she was super confused. And then she asked me to call her back in an hour and to my surprise I hung up the phone and saw that I had called Snider! Thankfully Snider picked up when we called back within an hour =) We have a lesson with her tomorrow. =) We died laughing after I realized what I did.

Food experiences: I tried a fruit called Kaki and it was okay. It is like a mix between on Apple and a pear. We also ate with members and went up to Hermana Uri's house in the mountains. It is a super cool place. They cooked meat over an open fire and it was sooo good, Ricardo (the dad) called the steak "caballo" (horse) and we fell for his joke at least for a little bit =) until we actually tried it.

In the work: we have an investigator named Luis from Columbia. He's great. We asked him to read the introduction to the book of Mormon and he read the intro and a little more. I think that's the first time anyone as read something without me having to follow up a ton. It was such a great feeling to know he was doing it for himself and to strength his relationship with God and not just because we asked him to do it.

We had a zone conference in León this past week. It was a little crazy having with 10 elders in the same apartment but we made it work =)

The zone conference was amazing =) We talked about the Atonement and how it's okay to still be learning about the Atonement while we are teaching it. We also talked about making firm commitments and contacting more youth. I have been timid contacting youth sometimes because there are a lot of them and I don't want to rejection from people my age. But when I actually faced the excuses I make and combated them by realizing how open youth are to the Gospel and how much it would help them at this important time in their lives...I've decided I will do better =) We talked about how the youth can use Facebook to share favorite mormon messages with their friends and how they can really help their friends out =) I think it will be great working more with the youth, I understand youth better than others because I am one. 

I want to share my feelings of the Atonement. I know that we can be forgiven and feel clean before God. It is difficult to just continue life with feelings of dread and guilt from things we did that were not pleasing to God. But we can be cleansed through the wonderful gift of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It's really sad when talking with people about it Atonement and they don't believe it can work for them. But it can work for all of us. God knows each of us individually, personally.

It's been amazing to see the spirit working in my life. There have been some hard days and some great days. This week I had a hard day and God gave me exactly what I needed. God works in His own time and in His own ways. We just have to be patient and like for the answers to our prayers, praying that we will recognize them. I know God answers my prayers and that He will answer yours.

Have a great week!
Elder Openshaw

January 2, 2017 ~ Transfer 4, Week 1

Happy New Year!

I hope everyone had a great new years and Christmas! This week I got a new companion named Elder Hale and we found out we are related =) We had a ton of lessons this week and also quite a few lessons that failed. We have two investigators with baptismal dates (Jan 28th). We shall see what happens because the holidays have made things a little complicated (everyone works more, or doesn't work) and one of our investigators has been working 3 jobs and it has been really difficult for her (Rocío).

So this past Sunday  (yesterday) I played piano. ELDER Chabot (my last companion ) played the piano and there is no one here currently who can play. Thankfully its an electronic piano so all i need to do is find the songs (which aren't in order) and play with one finger and the piano does the rest. Easier said than done. So I played and it was quite terrible to start out. The first song was terrible. It was hard not to laugh but it was soo off. But I got the hang of it by the end. And it started to sound a ton better =) not perfect but at least close to normal. So mom, I played the piano in church. Sure it was only in front of 15-20 people but I did it (and with only one finger =) ). So my music skills have been useful here =)

This week went by fast. We did the best we could to meet with everyone to introduce my new companion. It's a great excuse to meet with people. =) this week was difficult with festivos but it went very well. We have a lot of new people we met this last week and may be meeting with soon. We shall see what happens this next week.

I've learned a lot this last week. I'm a lot more comfortable teaching lessons, I was pretty uptight and nervous but I'm becoming a lot more comfortable and the words are coming better in Spanish.

I want to share a scripture. 2 Cor.9:6-7:
 6 But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
7 Every man according as he purposeth in his heart, so let him give; not grudgingly, or of necessity: for God loveth a cheerful giver.

I think this scripture applies to our New Years Resolutions. If we work on our resolutions we will benefit from them. The harder we work at them the more better we will benefit. Keep the vision of your goals in mind, why you are doing them. Have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

Pictures December 13 - December 26, 2016

December 26, 2016 ~ Transfer 3 Week 6

I hope everyone had a great Merry Christmas/Feliz Navidad!

This week has been a quick week. For Christmas and for Christmas eve we had huge dinners, one included turkey (which is very rare here) and the other lacon (the shoulder of a pig) and gambas (shrimp) (I tried getting a picture of the shrimp but it didn't turn out). For dessert we had polvorines which are okay =) all it is is pig fat, flour and either chocolate powder, lemon, or olive oil. Me and my companion also had cachopo this week and a very nice restaurant because it claimed to have the best cachopo in Asturias. Cachopo is a Asturiano dish so we figured it probably is the best in the world too =) I believe them! It was amazing. Cachopo is like a thin steak with layers of meats and cheese and then fried.

Some funny moments: Today I went to Burger King and I tried to order ice cream with my meal. I figured, we'll I'll just get the ice cream now so I don't have to come back up. But they thought it was soo strange that I wanted the ice cream now and not after I ate my Burger haha. They asked me 3 times if I was sure I wanted the ice cream now and so I gave in at the end and figured I would just succumb to the very strong culture here of eating my sandwich first =)

My companion is getting transferred this week (elder Chabot) and I will get a new one tomorrow (Elder Hale). My trainer, Elder Chabot will be a zone leader in Madrid  (he will basically look out for 6-8 other companionship's of missionaries in his area called a zone).

It's been really good this week to reflect how much the work has changed here in the past 2 transfers (3 months). It's been cool to see my progress too. I know I will grow a ton in the next transfer or two now that I'm done training. 

I've really enjoyed this past month and the Christmas Initiative on it has been great to look for opportunities to serve and to help others. And now that we are looking towards the New Year and finding resolutions, I challenge you to check and the 25 days of service from the Christmas Initiative and see if you would like to consider any of those service suggestions as Resolutions. There's many amazing and simple suggestions =)

I know that Christ lives and He still guides us today. He has given us prophets (including modern day prophets) and the scriptures to help us in this life to live in such a way that we can enjoy joy, feeling His love. I know God loves you. I know it because I have felt it love myself, from searching the scriptures, finding answers there, and from the charitable actions of other people - little tender mercies. I pray that everyone is well. I love you all and hope you have a great New Year!

Your friend,
Elder Openshaw

December 19, 2016 ~ Transfer 3 Week 5

Hi all!

We have had an amazing week! I've had so many great experiences.

Tuesday, we went to Grado, a small pueblo (little town) and visited someone named María that we promised we would come back. (and if you read the blog a month or two ago, this is the same lady who was about ready to slam the door in our faces and her heart was softened). Last time we checked if she was home (she doesn't have a phone) she wasn't but this time she was! And she kept her promise about reading the Book of Mormon! She read the whole book. She said she doesn't believe the same but she was so happy to see us. She even braved the cold for 20 minutes because we couldn't go inside. I know she feels the spirit whenever we are there sharing a lesson because I felt it so strong. I was prompted that we pray for her and as we were leaving we prayed for her and I felt the spirit very strong. She is such an amazing person. It's amazing to think of how the first time we met her she only opened the door a crack and was ready to yell at us. But she is so loving now. The Oviedo Branch (the congregation here, branch just means it is small) was having a Christmas dinner, so we gave her an invitation. She had us write down our names and said she will put to card up on her tree every year. And I believe she will.

We had the Christmas dinner this week and I wasn't sure how it would turn out, but it turned out amazing (60 people)! There were so many less actives and investigators that came. We even met the dad of Taily  (who is the only member of her family). The dad is against the Church and is never home when we are teaching the family, but I think he will open his heart eventually =) he's a great man, very funny. We saw him in the street on the way to work and he honked at us and asked us if we wanted to work for him for free haha =)

We are teaching a lot of families and youth right now. One has a baptism date (Jan 28) and possibly another one soon. They are still struggling with coming to church and keeping commitments but I think they are getting to the point where they will decide to keep their commitments.

For the Christmas Initiative this week we were looking to help someone and there was an old lady who was struggling with her groceries across the road. We went to help her and she was very, very grateful. And it wasn't a huge deal, it took 5 minutes to get her home and it made a world of difference to her. People very rarely let us help and it was quite the miracle.

We ran into one of our investigators in the street with her family who we haven't been able to meet with for a while. That was a blessing, we got to meet with her this week. She has been working 3 jobs non stop during the holiday season. God definitely puts people in our path.

Funny experiences: we also sang this week (the whole branch) at a residencia de Ancianos (elderly home). It turned out a lot better than I thought it would, including a trio by two other American elders and I singing songs in English. After the singing we were given pastries that were not very good at all. I ate one that tasted like formaldehyde  (the chemical that preserves animals to dissect). Another Elder got one that tasted like "dentist tools". They were not very good =).

Another: we found and have been teaching a Dominican woman who is a less active (we found her my first or second week here). So we have taught her quite a bit and her kids have not been interested in listening in. And then this past week the other Elders found a Dominican joven (youth) and got his number and have been meeting with him. We found out its one of the older kids who wasn't interested in listening to us. In the first lesson he told the other Elders that who mom has been meeting with the Jehovah's Witnesses (us). So it was funny when the mom found out the missionaries were there for her son instead of her. We are having a family night with them all together tomorrow =) I'm glad that the kids are now ready to listen to the gospel on their own terms =).

Have a great week! If you haven't kept up with the initiative of Christmas now is a great time to start again =) I promise that by doing service you will feel the spirit of Navidad (Christmas) more.

Elder Openshaw

Pictures November 15 - December 12, 2016

December 12, 2016 ~ Transfer 3, Week 4

We just finished the 4th week of my 3rd transfer on my mission. 
I'm am enjoying my mission a ton and the time really is flying by fast.

This week I want to copy and paste some parts from my journal that I think will be entertaining: "Dec 6: Some funny experiences: Monday I tripped someone at Mercadona(grocery store), a worker was walking really close perpendicular to the aisle we were in, my companion walked out of the aisle and I followed close behind him and this lady who works there walked between me and him and she tripped on my foot. Seemed like an eternity before she hit the ground. I tried to catch her and that did the work, she sprawled/was about to faceplant but somehow she ended up on her knees. I felt so bad. I tried helping her up and she won't let me and she had a terrible scowl on her face (probably about 22-28 years old).

Today in A Coruña I was going up the escalator to the bus station with the other Elders and tried adjusting my small handbag on the suitcase so I wouldn't have to carry it and then I dropped my suitcase down the escalator! It just flew straight down! Thank goodness there wasn't anybody underneath us (I dropped it from nearly the top/end of the escalator). Thankfully a man helped me pick it up at the bottom and try again =) haha

The elders in Ferrol have an amazing Piso! It is the nicest Piso I have ever seen on the mission (for elders at least). They also let us eat their food which was very nice.

Dec 7: Zone conference in A Coruña. Elder Simmons, Santa and Hermanas White and Nielsen are here from the same CCM group. In the conference, President and Hemana Pack and the ayudantes talked about faith. Very needed. I enjoyed the message they had to share especially about how we are called to this mission to be ourselves, not to be like someone else. I loved that because I've been struggling a lot to know if what I have been doing as a missionary is good enough and I've been trying to become much like my trainer. But that really isn't what I need to do. I need to become better but not compare myself to other missionaries. I need to keep working hard and trusting in the Lord, trusting with faith that He will help me get better, that I will be qualified for the work. We ate Cafe Rio style dinner/lunch which was great with plenty of dessert. Then we did a white elephant exchange after in our zones and I ended up getting a cupcake pan and gifted it away to someone who wanted it (I didn't care what I ended up with). We contacted in Ferrol with Elder Kmetz and Elder Simmons and received 2-3 numbers. Back at Elder Simmons piso tonight."

I have to say that when going in to Mercadona (our grocery store here) today I was a little scared that I would find the lady I tripped and she would remember me =) but I didn't run into her again (literally or figuratively).

We had some great experiences this week. This zone conference was great and I met two elders who are in the same stake as the Alstrom family in Colorado (one Elder is in the same ward). It's a small world.

This week was a little difficult. We didn't have much in the sense of lessons that worked out. We were booked until Saturday but then we missed our bus on Thursday morning (because it was a holiday here, almost every other day is a holiday) and had to wait til 5pm for the next bus. We learned our lesson. But the lesson that did work out as it was planned went really well. We are teaching a part member family (the daughter is a return missionary) and we taught them about the Restoration of the Church of Jesus Christ. The spirit was so strong. The we knew they were feeling it too because one of the daughters started laughing and asking questions about totally unrelated gospel subjects (like why is this not done this way...kind of questions). And the mom who we are teaching answered the daughter's question by saying "honey, it's so easy..." It was pretty funny =) In the end, the spirit won. I know they felt it. It's just such a good feeling - I felt a feeling of peace and comfort. And then the mom asked for a blessing of comfort and I felt the spirit very strong during the blessing. I know the power of the priesthood is real.

A little bit about decisions and the choices we make in our lives. I was reading a talk and here are some quotes i liked:

It has been said that the door of history turns on small hinges, and so do people’s lives. The choices we make determine our destiny.

Most of you are familiar with Alice in Lewis Carroll’s classic novel Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. You will remember that she comes to a crossroads with two paths before her, each stretching onward but in opposite directions. As she contemplates which way to turn, she is confronted by the Cheshire Cat, of whom Alice asks, “Which path shall I follow?” The cat answers, “That depends where you want to go. If you do not know where you want to go, it doesn’t matter which path you take.”1

This principle is very important. If we don't know where we want to end up in life it doesn't matter what choices you make. But I know we have a purpose here. As it says in Alma 34:32, "This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God; yea, behold the day of this life is the day for men to perform their labors." And truly this life is for us to prepare to meet God. I challenge you to have goals. Think of who you want to become and what you want to do in life. And have that vision. Maybe it doesn't seem possible. Great =) that means you are thinking big. Set goals and pray about them. If you feel good, go for them. Do all you can and ask for God's help in accomplishing them. I know that we can do hard things and goal stretch, giving us something to look forward to and measure our progress. Choose to live your life in the way that will bring you closest to God. Serve. Forgive. Choose the right.

I was on the bus for 8 hours this week and thought about typing about the culture of Spain and the differences between here and the US so I could remember the differences and I thought I would share that:
These thoughts are based on my opinions and observations and so some things will be wrong but this should give you an idea of what it is like to live in Spain vs. the USA.

It feels like almost every other day is a holiday. I think Spaniards like their days off. Their Saturday nights are kind of like our Friday nights in the sense of the amount of people in the streets or people hanging out with friends.

Almost everyone lives in pisos which are apartments, 4-6 floors high sometimes with as many as A-J or as few as just a left and right piso.

People walk everywhere, transportation is different, bus (either a tour bus or a city bus where I am, in Asturias) and tren are more common than cars (because obtaining a license and gas is so expensive). Also, gas pumps are at stations but sometimes they have these stations that are on the roadside, we pull over and fuel up (and it doesn't seem like is much of a lane to pull over and fuel up but I guess there must be somehow they do it without stopping traffic behind them).

People use little carts to wheel their stuff around, carts kind of like a piece of luggage but made of cloth, 4 wheels for easily getting over high curbs, etc.

Everything is in grams and liters, it's sooo nice to do the math =) I don't know why America uses pounds and gallons. Also things are in kilometers  (car speeds). And in Celsius  (which at first didn't make sense but makes a lot more sense now).

Also the food is cheaper, you can buy 2.2 lbs (1kg) of apples or fruits for like 1€ (about $1.25)

You can buy almost the same products here but the super markets here are not like in America, here they have a super market for most supplies (food, cleaning supplies, candy) but not office supplies or light bulbs or some other things like that. I have to go to a smaller store to find everything I would like. They have what we call chinos here which are little stores with usually cheap items from China and Chinese owners, you can find quite a few things in chinos that are quite useful (like light bulbs). They have pig legs that are cured and just hang from the ceiling (called Jamon Serrano, but many different names based on the quality of the meat, affordable ones are called Pata negra (50€) haha =)). Nutella is so much cheaper here. You can buy almost all the same foods but milk tastes weird. Kind of sour but it's alright, you get used to it. The brown sugar is way more grainy. Chocolate chips and syrup are hard to come by. Coconut too I have found out, unless you want the whole thing (I don't know how to eat it when it isnt in shavings). And with fruits and vegetables you use plastic gloves, grab a bag, fill it yourself and weigh it on a scale which prints off a sticker that the cashier scans at the register. It's pretty cool =)

In restaurants you don't have to tip, it's so nice, everything is included in the price of the meal

Tax is already added into the price and so the prices are usually even numbers (1 € or 1,50€, usually easy numbers to do math) 

There is something called kebab which is meat which is rotated on a skewer with coal on the wall behind it. They use some sort of razor to shave the meat off and then slice it up. And then it's put on bread, kind of little a mix of English muffin and pita bread and they put different sauces on it. It's quite good and usually very cheap (2€ per kebab!)

There aren't many trees but if their is a tree it is trimmed usually in the shape of an upside-down cone.

Almost no one speaks English which is good for me =) focuses me to practice. But usually the younger colleges aged people want to practice English and it becomes so hard to speak English =).

The mail system here is done through yellow cylinder mailboxes that you put in your outgoing mail. To recieve mail the mail company (Correos) use cars, motorcycles or people carrying their small Correo carts to deliver it to your Piso and put it in your mailbox on the first floor. Usually you have to buzz someone in if you get a package, and they press your Piso number on a panel (they are outside, on first floor, still not in the building) And you pick up the phone that buzzes, talk to them and press a button on  the phone set to buzz them in.

Almost everything here is smaller. The sink, mops, brooms, trashcans, shopping carts, escalator (width) etc. The stuff here is fun-size =) and most pisos have a washer but you air dry your clothes on racks either in your Piso or outside the window in some areas (not our piso).

The elevators are a lot smaller. Sometimes it's hard to fit 4 people in one. =)  but it has been done. Pressing the button is the difficult part =)

Many people have dogs. I was wondering where they went to the restroom if there isn't much grass...on sidewalks, steps, roads. Doesn't really matter to them =)

WiFi isn't everywhere like in the US, most people don't have computers or WiFi in their homes. Most people have smart phones but usually Sony or Samsung or other, not many iPhones.

People love soccer. The city of Oviedo goes silent (I'm sure other places around Spain do too) when Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing. Everyone goes to the bar to watch the game. There are bars everywhere, I don't know how they stay in business when they are all next to each other but they are often quite full, usually very full in the evenings.

With meals here, people eat a light breakfast (usually very sugary) and a huge lunch around 2pm called La Comida. From 2pm-4pm or 5pm people usually go home and take a break called Mediodía. Most businesses close and people go home to take a nap and eat and spend time in their homes or at the bar. The streets empty out around this time and we only see a person every now and then. Some people start Mediodía as early as 1pm. During this time we go to Piso  (our apartment) eat food and study Spanish (in other missions people do language study usually  in the morning after scripture study but becuase no one is out in the streets we do language study then). People usually only eat a small snack for dinner. For their sleeping schedule, Spaniards are usually up quite late into the night (2-4am) and sleep in until 11am or so.

The car brands are different here (European brands) but also some familiar ones like Ford, Toyota, Honda, BWM, Audi, Kia, Nissan . To be honest, they have some nice cars in Oviedo where I am. Some other brands are Fiat, Peugeot, and many others.

For soccer, most of the courts are made of concrete  (I haven't seen many of grass, there isn't much grass here). There usually are basketball hoops on these same courts.

At every meal there is what I would call French bread (a bar of bread).  If this is forgotten at the meal it might be the end of the just doesn't happen =) Bread stores (Panaderías) stay open on holidays probably for this reason haha.

Also about the pisos, most are like small apartments but some can be pretty big. Nothing like a normal-sized house in the US, although the pisos can cost about the same as a small house in the US. There are two types of heaters I have seen. One, a heater is bought separately and a gas/butane can attached  (these get insanely hot). Or two, the heater is a series of pipes (5-8 columns, kind of shaped like baldes) attached to the wall and hot water runs through them (from the water heater) to heat the Piso. We have the latter type. 

The pillows here are longer (about the size of 1.5-2 regular sized pillows in length). So American pillowcases don't fit them, you have to use two (thanks mom for making sure I had an extra =) )

There are Domino's pizza, McDonald's, Burger King, H&M, Nike and many other American stores here. Interesting thing is that you can take McDonalds to go in big bags that you can walk with. Drive thrus exist but aren't as common (although Burger King in Oviedo has a drive thru). Dominos doesn't use paper plates, they give you a triangle shaped piece of cardboard (of course with the Domino's logo on them) that fits a slice of pizza and that is your plate. The sides fold up so you can use it to eat your pizza slice but it's so much easier just to pick it up with your hands =)

This will probably be the longest email of my mission just because I have copied and pasted stuff. I hope you found something that will help you feel a little more joy and happiness =)

With care from your friend,
Elder Openshaw

December 5, 2016 ~ Transfer 3, Week 3

Hi all!
There was a lot that happened this week. And I'm going to try to explain it and I hope it reaches you with the same joy as I'm having here =)

This week we met with many members to share the message of the Christmas Initiative and that was great. We have received 4 references this week from members and investigators which is 4 mini miracles. In the culture here in Spain, people don't really know their neighbors or make new friends so for the past 30 years missionaries have asked the members to give references of these same friends and they don't have any new makes it complicated to talk with more people than the usually members without going out to the streets (which isn't super effective in finding but it's one of our best options at the moment). So those 4 references were miracles and I may have smiled a little too much because I realized how much of a sacrifice it was to give those names of friends or people they knew.

Some funny moments: this past Sunday was was the first Sunday of the month and is usually when we fast (from Saturday at comida (lunch) to Sunday (lunch)). (AND as a side note we don't eat dinner here)). So Saturday we had a lesson with a menos activo and she prepared us food and we were about to eat it when I remembered we were fasting! Haha
Also we had a lesson with two part member families and it was a miracle, both are more receptive. The first time we taught one of the families it was a little uncomfortable because they didn't talk at all but this coming week we'll have dinner with them!

This week on Wednesday we have a zone conference in A Coruña which is with President Pack that I'm looking forward to.

Quick spiritual thought: I've been learning a lot about the spirit and how to recognize it better this past month. If you ever are wondering whether or not you are feeling it, ask yourself if the thoughts or feelings you are having are inviting you to do good. If the thoughts or feelings are inviting you to do good it is of God, if not then it is not of God. So if it is good be assured it is of God =) I'm feeling like my thoughts are quite scattered this week, I hope you can gain something from this- have a great week!

Elder Openshaw

Another funny: we went looking to do service at a residence of elderly people and they didn't want our help because we aren't Catholic. Kind of silly =) it's been hard finding service but finally a member agreed to let us serve them and clean their house =).
It's also funny when Barcelona and Real Madrid are playing and the whole city is at the bar watching the game (these games between real and barca are called classico)

Words of Hope and Encouragement ~ November 28, 2016

I was reading a talk this week and I hope it helps bring some hope for our citizenship in a God-inspired government...

Some quotes from a talk from April 1972, Ezra Taft Benson (Civic Standards for the faithful Saints). And for more also read Alma 46 about Moroni and the title of liberty. Hopefully this gives you some more hope for the future and understand better/be reminded of the principles that we must choose to live each day to uphold the government and Constitution =)

"President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., put it well when he said:
“God provided that in this land of liberty, our political allegiance shall run not to individuals, that is, to government officials, no matter how great or how small they may be. Under His plan our allegiance and the only allegiance we owe as citizens or denizens of the United States, runs to our inspired Constitution which God himself set up. So runs the oath of office of those who participate in government. A certain loyalty we do owe to the office which a man holds, but even here we owe just by reason of our citizenship, no loyalty to the man himself. In other countries it is to the individual that allegiance runs. This principle of allegiance to the Constitution is basic to our freedom. It is one of the great principles that distinguishes this ‘land of liberty’ from other countries.” (Improvement Era, July 1940, p. 444.)

“Patriotism,” said Theodore Roosevelt, “means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President or any other public official save exactly to the degree in which he himself stands by the country…

“Every man,” said President Roosevelt, “who parrots the cry of ‘stand by the President’ without adding the proviso ‘so far as he serves the Republic’ takes an attitude as essentially unmanly as that of any Stuart royalist who championed the doctrine that the King could do no wrong. No self-respecting and intelligent free man could take such an attitude.” (Theodore Roosevelt, Works, vol. 21, pp. 316, 321.) And yet as Latter-day Saints we should pray for our civic leaders and encourage them in righteousness...But the greatest handbook for freedom in this fight against evil is the Book of Mormon.
Joseph Smith said that the Book of Mormon was the “keystone of our religion” and the “most correct” book on earth. (DHC, vol. 6, p. 56.) This most correct book on earth states that the downfall of two great American civilizations came as a result of secret conspiracies whose desire was to overthrow the freedom of the people. “And they have caused the destruction of this people of whom I am now speaking,” says Moroni, “and also the destruction of the people of Nephi.” (Ether 8:21.)

Now undoubtedly Moroni could have pointed out many factors that led to the destruction of the people, but notice how he singled out the secret combinations, just as the Church today could point out many threats to peace, prosperity, and the spread of God’s work, but it has singled out the greatest threat as the godless conspiracy. There is no conspiracy theory in the Book of Mormon —it is a conspiracy fact.
Then Moroni speaks to us in this day and says, “Wherefore, the Lord commandeth you, when ye shall see these things come among you that ye shall awake to a sense of your awful situation, because of this secret combination which shall be among you” (Ether 8:14.)

The Book of Mormon further warns that “whatsoever nation shall uphold such secret combinations, to get power and gain, until they shall spread over the nation, behold they shall be destroyed. …” (Ether 8:22.) This scripture should alert us to what is ahead unless we repent, because there is no question but that as people of the free world, we are increasingly upholding many of the evils of the adversary today. By court edict godless conspirators can run for government office, teach in our schools, hold office in labor unions, work in our defense plants, serve in our merchant marines, etc. As a nation, we are helping to underwrite many evil revolutionaries in our country.
President Clark warned us that “we stand in danger of losing our liberties, and that once lost, only blood will bring them back; and once lost, we of this church will, in order to keep the Church going forward, have more sacrifices to make and more persecutions to endure than we have yet known. …” (CR, April 1944, p. 116.) And he stated that if the conspiracy “comes here it will probably come in its full vigor and there will be a lot of vacant places among those who guide and direct, not only this government, but also this Church of ours.” (CR, April 1952.)

Joseph Smith taught “that a prophet was a prophet only when he was acting as such.” (DHC, vol. 5, p. 265.)
Suppose a leader of the Church were to tell you that you were supporting the wrong side of a particular issue. Some might immediately resist this leader and his counsel or ignore it, but I would suggest that you first apply the fourth great civic standard for the faithful Saints. That standard is to live for, to get, and then to follow the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

Said Brigham Young: “I am more afraid that this people have so much confidence in their leaders that they will not inquire for themselves of God whether they are led by Him. … Let every man and woman know, by the whisperings of the Spirit of God to themselves, whether their leaders are walking in the path the Lord dictates, or not.” (JD, vol. 9, p. 150.)

Even within the Church we have been warned that “the ravening wolves are amongst us, from our own membership, and they, more than any others, are clothed in sheep’s clothing, because they wear the habiliments of the priesthood.” (J. Reuben Clark, Jr., CR, April 1949, p. 163.)

And so four great civic standards for the faithful Saints are, first, the Constitution ordained by God through wise men; second, the scriptures, particularly the Book of Mormon; third, the inspired counsel of the prophets, especially the living president, and fourth, the guidance of the Holy Spirit."

Love you,
Elder Openshaw