Wednesday, December 28, 2011

December 26,2011

Dear Family,

I have had a lot of spiritual experiences on my mission, but I'll try to give you a couple...  I don't have a whole lot of time.  My companion's name is Elder Vilorio.  He is from Honduras.

About 4 weeks into my mission I was still writing Chelsey, Ana, and Caitlin and I realized that it was honestly distracting me from the work.  I would write them and then I would think about what I wrote for a couple of days after and then a couple of days before Preparation Day, I would think about what I was going to write...  It was just distracting me.  One day during companionship study, we read the part of our call letter that says to "leave all personal affairs behind" so after a lot of prayer and thought, I decided that I should probably stop writing them, so I did about a week later.  The day that I wrote those three letters, I was so sad and just didn't want to send them, but then I did.  Later that day we were driving in the car and somebody called us that we had never heard of in our lives.  He told us that he had been talking to the missionaries somewhere else and that he wanted to get baptized.  We taught him for a while and I think he was baptized later, but I left before I could  figure that out.  That night I had kind of a vision in my mind of where we could find our next investigator, so we went to that place and the lady I pictured in my mind answered the door.  The next morning we went tracting in the flea market and the very last lady that i talked to was baptized 3 weeks later.  It really is true that "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of heaven."

I have always known that the church is true, but not until I was in the MTC had I realized that the Book of Mormon tells us to read and pray to know if it is true, which is all that I tell people now.  It has always made so much sense to me that Joseph Smith was a prophet, but I hadn't ever actually prayed to ask Heavenly Father if it was true.  I was just about to finish the Book of Mormon and I still wasn't 100% sure without a doubt that all of it was true, so while I was in the MTC I prayed harder and probably more sincere than I ever had up to that point in my life.  About a week later, I was reading in the Joseph Smith History and I can't even begin to tell you about the wave of emotion that came over me as I read verse 12.  Some Elders in my district started to watch the Restoration and I felt that same feeling again during that movie and that night we talked about the prophet in District Meeting and the movie that we watched in the auditorium was Prophet of the Restoration.  Every one of those things that happened all in one day on top of the huge amount of the spirit that I felt was enough to know that was an answer from God.  Ever since I have come to know that the Book of Mormon is true, I have grown more spiritually than in the rest of my life put together.  It is a part of my testimony that I have of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and it is one of my slivers of perfect faith.  

When i found out that I had Chron's Disease I was told that I needed to go into a follow-up appointment a week later so I did and when I was there the Doctor asked me where I wanted to go on my mission when I had already been told I was almost assuredly going stateside.  I told him Mexico, obviously, and he said, "Then let's send you off to Mexico."  I was so happy and excited I couldn't contain myself when he left the room.  I then got this horrible pit in my stomach and realized that it might not be what the Lord has in mind for me to go to Cuernavaca and I just felt like it wasn't where I was going and then when I was pretty much humbled by the Spirit, I felt the biggest sense of peace in knowing that I was probably going to the States anyway.  I know that I am supposed to be in Jacksonville, even though my whole district is in Mexico.  

I really do have a lot of spiritual experiences that have happened on my mission, but I am seriously just drawing a blank it feels.  I hope that those are good enough and that you can change up the wording or something so that it will sound better than I put it.  I love you a lot and it really was great talking to you yesterday.  

Elder Eric Austin Moore
507 NW 39th Rd. Apt. 216
Gainesville, FL 32607



Saturday, December 24, 2011

December 19, 2011

Dear Family,

This week was wonderful.  I can't even begin to describe to you how great the mission conference was.  It was still so nice to see all of those missionaries in one place.  I just think it's something to do with the fact that we all have the same purpose in doing nothing but helping others that makes us all get along so well.  The entire mission came to Orange Park on Thursday and we had dinner, a talent show, and a Christmas devotional.  The talent show ended before we got up to perform "Mary, Did You Know?" and it made us really ad, but then we ended up doing it as a part of the devotional, which was even better.  We sang a couple of songs and listened to the Nativity and then heard the testimonies of the departing Elders and some other people and then President and Sister Barry got up and did a little skit about Mary and Joseph...  Holy SMOKES I could not believe how powerful the spirit was when we left.  They did a part from this play that the church put out of a "recreation" of what might have been said between Mary and Joseph as a betrothed couple when the angel visited Mary and told her that she would give birth to the creator of the universe...  could you even imagine the person effect it had on them?  Crazy...

So anyway, I'm going to play an organ solo at the next zone conference, but guess what? 


It feels like I just got here, and it's kind of sad that it has to be just a few days before Christmas, but I got a call on Saturday night that I am getting sent away from Orange Park this Wednesday!  It's always right when you feel that you are getting the hang of things that they switch you out of your calling, or your area, or whatever other thing.  I guess the reason why we are here though is to progress...  Elder Jones and I have been working a lot on our unity as a companionship and I have felt a lot more love for the people we teach lately because of it.  Adriana still needs to find a new job, but I know that she understands why baptism is so important and why she should be out looking for another job.  We set a baptismal date with a young man named Omar last night, after a long time of teaching him...  He we will baptized on the 1st of January.  I can't even believe that is happening, right when I leave!  We read him all of the baptismal interview questions and he saw it as a checklist of things he is going to be living 100% within the next few weeks.  We found 5 new investigators and they are all wonderful.  I think that the Christmas season is really getting me excited to just talk to every single person in the entire world about the great message we have to share with them!  

I am so proud of Dad and of our ward.  I am confident that you will see baptisms as you just keep pushing through the trails of your faith.  Something interesting that President Barry told me to try to do this week is to pray to know that there are people out there waiting for the gospel that I am going to talk to today or this month.  When you receive an answer that there are, imagine how much more you are going to want to find that person or those people!  Just have the faith to find and you will find people to help out.  If you didn't know, 80% of the people that talk to missionaries on and are referred to the real-life missionaries are baptized.  EIGHTY.  Just share that website with the world!  Watch the videos and show them to people.  They might spark some interest!

I am so happy that everyone is going to be there to talk to, but I was told in the president's letter this week that I can only talk for 40 minutes!  That seems really short, but I guess it's what the Lord wants...  Thank you for sending all of those pictures.  I cannot believe how adorable all of my nieces are.  Let them know how much I love them and miss them so I'm not some stranger when I come back!  

I'm pretty sure that I'll be able to set everything up with you before I call, so don't worry too much about that.  I need to get a buzz-cut...  :)  I am still planning on going to BYU, even though I feel like it is going to take a 4.0 GPA from now on to get into any sort of graduate school.  Oh well I don't have to worry about that for another year and a half!  You are right by the way...  Time really is flying.  Let Hannah know that if she doesn't get into the music program at BYU that she can always just go there and keep getting better until she does make it in.  I think she is sitting pretty with a 30 and a 3.7 though!  I didn't realize how well she did on the ACT!  I don't remember telling Todd I was thinking about going to Utah State, but I might have.  I just really think that I have come to realize that I'm a COUGAR!  :D  

I'm so excited to talk to you and not sure if I answered all of your questions, but I will have more time to do so on Sunday!  I love you all SOO much and I hope that you have a wonderful time with the family this Christmas.  Let them all know how much I love them too.  I'll send pictures soon and I will send you my new address as soon as I can.



Saturday, December 17, 2011

December 12, 2011

Dear Family,

This week was wonderful!  Adriana is progressing so much and it is so wonderful to see someone completely understand what we are saying and accept the fact that our church is not just a place of worship, but a lifestyle set by the example of Christ.  We taught her a little bit about obedience and the Sabbath Day and she told us that she would come to church, but her boss is not going to let her get work off, even for a little bit on Sundays.  She works in unloading at Sam's and tells us all the time how much she doesn't like it and how awful her hours are...  We are just praying that she gets her dream job working in a school so she can have the same hours as her daughter and have a normal family life again.  She is so great and really just the perfect example of hard working and how having a positive attitude always makes things so much better.  She is from Colombia and is really funny and outgoing and has this little almost squeaky high voice.  She loves having us over as far as I can tell, and she completely believes in everything we tell her.  Pray for her to get a better job with Sundays free!

We spoke with a Guatemalan named Mateo about 4 weeks ago and he really knows his Bible verses.  He didn't seem very interested in coming to church or anything, so we just gave him some stuff to read and told him to call if he was interested.  Just a few days ago we went back to see someone else that lives in the same house and he answered the door and talked with us for a little bit and ended up inviting him to church.  He told us that he would do it, almost out of spite it seems, but he ended up coming is the important thing!  He got so much fellowshipping and love from every Hispanic member in church it was crazy!  We have been working and working this week to try to get at least one person to church, and we were so happy to see how well that worked out.  We will be visiting him again this week, so pray that he was impressed by the spirit he FOR SURE felt there.

There's an Elder in my Zone named Elder Bishop from American Fork and he knows Aaron Ingersoll.  I was talking to him about him the other week and he told me that he didn't think that Aaron was going, but that is such great news to hear!  I just wish that every new missionary could see a little preview of what they will learn and just have a little comprehension of how much they will grow in such a short amount of time.  Wish Jordan luck for me.  That's terrible that he has to go back to the MTC.  It was great, but I couldn't do it twice.  You remember my MTC experience... It was full of a lot of Drama, but you're right, in the end I still loved it.

This week we have a Christmas Devotional and Talent Show on Thursday.  I have been trying to learn this Organ piece called "O Divine Redeemer," but I don't think I'll have it ready by Thursday, so I probably won't be playing.  I am accompanying the Sisters in "Mary Did You Know" and singing "Away in a Manger" and "Who is He in Yonder Stall," so my talents aren't going to waste.  It should be great.  I think that the piano and the organ are wonderful, but I really only get time to play them on Monday and sometimes at meetings, so I'm still pretty excited to go on a practice spree when I get home.  

Please send me a CD with Hannah singing on it.  That would be the best thing ever.  I LOVED the package you sent.  It's strange because last week in my e-mail I was thinking about asking you for ideas on what I could do special for Christmas.  I'm excited to go caroling and make cookies to take to people in the next couple weeks.  Let Sister Bartlett know shes great.  And so are YOU.

It sounds like always you are staying busy and having a great time.  Keep up the good work and I'll talk to you in a week :)



Orange Park Pictures

Elder Moore and Elder Jones made this driveway!  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

December 5, 2011

Dear Mom,

Thank you so much for that wonderful e-mail!  I love reading about everything that's going on, and I'm becoming a pretty quick reader, so no worries about making them TOO LONG!  

I don't know if you remember, but Elder Jones is from the Savannah Zone...  He knows all about that area and he said that where he was  there was a lot of Ghetto and kinda freaky things, but actual Savannah is beautiful.  He told me about how he used to go around on P-day and look at all of the sights and go into shops and everything I'm sure you were doing.  It still just weirds me out to think that if you had seen missionaries in Savannah that they would have been missionaries from my mission...  And that you were only like 2 hours away from where I am right now.  

The Orange Park 2nd ward is still trying to get over this change in bishopric, but what can you do.  I think that some things only come with time, but we did get out to see a couple of people this week with some of the English members, actually...  It was interesting going over to teach Adriana with her English neighbor that served his mission in Portugal, but really successful.  She is great!  She is from Colombia and used to live in OK and attend church over there, but with time let work take over her Sunday mornings...  Her husband is a less-active member that changed his "look" after he stopped going to church, so he claims that's the reason why he doesn't want to come back, but once we get him feeling good about coming, Adriana will be baptized.  We set up a date for her to be baptized this weekend on Monday, but when we said it we didn't realize how soon December was, so we'll probably push it back so she can come to church a few times before.  

I think that this week our investigators were avoiding us a bit, but I think it's because it was Thanksgiving break and they wanted to be with their families or WHATEVER haha...  So we didn't get to see a lot of the people we are usually teaching, but they are still there.  Jose told us to call him this week, and as far as we know he is still reading in his Book of Mormon.  He told us the last time we went over there that he believes the church is true, so that's good.  Haha!  Jazmely and Patricio, a couple from New York, went back up to New York on Friday to pick up their son and bring him back here.  They told us to call them tonight to come over and visit and it's gonna be great!  Elder Garnica and I actually started teaching them and they both told us that they need to get baptized, but didn't want to do it until they were settled in and had their baby with them, so now that they are on their way back with him, they have NO EXCUSES!  They are so wonderful...  We went over and taught them about the Law of Chastity and the next week they were out looking for rings.  I think that there is a great miracle coming up in regards to them :)

The camping trip was fantastic!  We didn't do any missionary work that day, sadly, but it was still so much fun!  We drove out there with a member, Elizabeth, and then played games for a while, took some pictures, and then ate the BEST food ever.  They made turkey and ham in a smoker overnight and it was so delicious.  There were so many different foods from so many different cultures and the Willis family even made Elder Jones and my favorite berry pie!  We closed off the night by playing some games around the campfire and talking about what we were grateful for and then Sister LaFontaine (a Navajo Indian!) told us all about these spooky things called "skin walkers" that are like the native-american equivalent of a werewolf.  They are people that turn into animals and night and come to your house to collect your fingernails and hair to put a hew on you.  Sister LaFontaine was telling us about how when she was driving one night on the reservation, her sister told her not to look and she looked and saw a wolf running on its two back legs (kind of a funny picture to me...) next to their car going about 60 mph!  Honestly, if it were anywhere other than an Native American reservation, I probably wouldn't believe it!  Creepy!  Isn't that fun though?  Who would think to go camping on Thanksgiving as a ward?!  All of the talk about tradition and things that everyone is grateful for reminded me of back home though, and I got a little reminiscent.  You're GREAT!  Just know that I'm being provided for out here...  This ward really is so wonderful.  

We are going to have a Christmas Devotional sometime soon and I'm getting really excited because of that!  Apparently this is a great time of year to go out and find people to teach as well!  Maybe we'll give some people the best Christmas present they could ever receive this year...  I'm almost 100% positive that we are allowed to Skype.  That will be great, but it just makes me a little woozy thinking about actually seeing my family!  What if I shave my head and you yell at me??  I've been trying to get a haircut for the past little while actually because I don't want to shave it again, but no such luck.  It's funny how when my hair is long it's TOO LONG and when it's short it's TOO SHORT.  I guess I'll just try to be a bit more of a square or something...  

That is so wonderful that Jordan is going out to Japan!  Is he going back to the MTC or just going straight there?  Either way I'm sure he is stressing out about learning that language!  That is so great for him and for Russell as well!  I can't wait to see where he goes. 

I love you so much and I hope that you saved some leftovers for me!  I am so happy Heavenly Father chose you to be my Momma and I couldn't ask for anything else than all that you do for me.  Your prayers help me every day to remember why I'm out here!