Arizona Mesa Mission Address

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 22, 2012

Dear Family,

I can't believe there's only one more week left in my mission.  We have been so busy -- we taught almost 30 lessons this week.  We have one investigator, Lorenzo, who will be getting baptized very soon.  His only issue is he and his less-active girlfriend need to get married.  They are both in agreement and we already have a time scheduled to get their marriage license this week.  I'm hoping everything works out and he can get baptized Saturday right after they get married.

I am more nervous to come home than I was when I left.  I'm sure that feeling will go away as soon as I see you guys next week.  Anyway, I'm not going to write much since there are a lot of things for me to do today (and I hate the drama of all this).  See you next week!!!!


Elder Kinney

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 16, 2012

Dear Family,

I am loving being back in Catalina.  A lot has happened since I've been gone but I still know a lot of the members and many were glad to see me back.  Even one of my recent converts from Monterrey had moved to Catalina (Nancy Zuniga) and it was a really great feeling to see them again.

My new companions are awesome.  Elder Fuentes is such a great missionary and an awesome leader despite being out for only two transfers.  I am learning a lot from him and his great attitude towards everything and everyone.  He is 100% Mexican but didn't speak any Spanish before the mission, but he picks it up fast because he was surrounded by it at home.  Elder Broomhead is a great missionary too.  He is half Dominican and half American, and like most new missionaries, was a little reserved for the first few days but is now taking the initiative to talk with people in the streets and bear his testimony.  He'll be a great missionary.  His Spanish is also really good for someone just leaving the MTC, and he'll pick it up really fast.

We have a lot of investigators who need a lot of teaching and we are working so hard.  I'm so happy to be able to finish my mission in this area.  Sometimes I forget I'm going to be home in about 2 weeks, which is a good thing because I guess it means I'm more focused on the work.  On the other hand, reality is going to hit me hard when I'm on the plane or on
my way for the exit interview!!!  I am trying to make these last weeks of my mission life changing and character building.

Dad, the Spartan race sounded like a really cool race.  It doesn't surprise me you did as well as you did.  You seem to have broadened the amount of physical activities you do since I left.  I think it would be really fun to train and compete in things like that, though I'd probably be one of those kids passing out on the hill with the five-gallon can of rocks.  I've seen similar races advertised here on billboards and street posts.  I hope my school schedule will permit me to work out more while still focusing on grades and studying.  I've lost about 8 pounds recently -- maybe you'll be able to tell in the pictures I sent.

Thanks for the packages, Scout cookies, and pictures.  I would have loved to have been at Matt's Court of Honor.  Looking at his picture and program you sent brought back some good memories that seem so long ago.  Tell Matt congrats and I can't wait to see him soon!!


Elder Kinney

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9, 2012

Dear Family,

The Mets game you went to last week sounded awesome. Would have loved to have been there. I'm glad the Mets are doing well, and I'm really glad you were able to see Travis at the fireworks too.  Tell me how his homecoming talk was.  I am already really nervous to give mine.  I was reading over my farewell talk the other day and feel like my English has diminished significantly since I've been focusing primarily on the Spanish language

I am super happy to announce they will be sending back to the Catalina Branch in Phoenix were I will help train with another missionary that just finished his training process.  I feel like I have been so blessed on my mission in terms of my areas.  Even in this area, which was not as enjoyable as the other areas, we had a lot of success.  I have a feeling these next three weeks are going to fly by and I'll be home in no time.  The Branch has had a lot of work lately so I'm sure we will be very, very busy.  I actually just went there to the baptism of the brother of one of my converts (that Elder Carrillo taught) this past weekend.

We had an awesome miracle this week.  For a good while now, we've been talking to the first person we see upon leaving the house.  So a couple of weeks ago we spoke with our neighbor who, after hearing about our message, she expressed her devout Catholic roots but nevertheless, said we could come by to say a prayer in her house.  So we came back that next Saturday in the evening which kind of turned out to be a bad idea because her husband was absolutely plastered and controlled the conversation.  BUT... I happened to catch a glimpse of one of his sons who looked extremely familiar, so I inquired as to his past experience with the church.  Turns out he had attended Brian's baptism, one of our recent converts who got baptized about a month ago.  So we invited him to come to mutual, which he said he had gone to before.  The next day we planned to go by Brian's to tell him to make sure he invites this friend, Pedro, and when we got there Brian's mother was getting out of her car.  That right there was a miracle in itself since we hadn't been able to talk to her since Brian's baptism because she is always working.  So upon greeting her, she politely invites us into her house, offers us water, takes a seat and the very next thing that she says is: "yo me quiero bautizar asi como se bautizo mi hijo brian" (I want to get baptized just like my son, Brian) who was also right there sitting on the couch. So we did a quick tactful assessment of her actual desire, bore our testimonies, invited her to commit to a baptismal date and set up another appointment at the Bishop's house across the street for that Friday.  She went to the appointment, accepted all of the doctrine and shared with us a dream she had received in which Christ, who looks just like he did in that famous church painting with the red robe on, signaled to her to join this church.  It was just another testimony to me that this is the Lord's work and as long as we are doing all we can, the Lord prepares the elect.  All of this came from just talking to Brian, who was a non-member, on my very first night in the area at mutual and setting up an appointment in the house of one of his friends.  The youth are great in the area.

Another miracle is that one of the people Elder Carrillo and I found for the English Elders just got interviewed and is getting baptized this Saturday.  We just saw her sitting on a curb with a sorrowful look on her face in one of the more squalid complexes of the area and decided to teach her the gospel.  She was extremely receptive and so when we handed her over to the English Elders she progressed as fast as possible.  I even got the chance to teach her on one of the exchanges with those missionaries (Elders Johnson and Clark).  Anyway, those are a few of the miracles I've seen of late and it feels great to be apart of them.  I hope all is well at home and that it cools down a bit for when I get back!!

Elder Kinney

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2, 2012

Dear Family,

Thanks for the pictures!!  Mom, I feel like you look younger than when I left for my mission.  It must be all that time you've spent away from me!!! (hahaha)  Sorry, I'll be back so soon.

This is hopefully going to be my last week in this area.  I am grateful for the success we're having, but it is just not as enjoyable as I would like it to be.  A lot of people this past week just didn't even respond to us when we tried to talk to them in the street.   I really hope President sends me to be in a trio with the Zone Leaders in Phoenix for my last three weeks.  He usually does that when there's a case like mine or when a missionary gets an extension.

I'm sure Matt's graduation was really hot.  I am interested to see how it feels changing from a very dry and arid climate to an extremely humid one.  I will then, for sure, be able to say which I like better.  People ask me what I think is better every once and awhile but I don't really remember what high humidity feels like too well.  All I know is that when it gets even a little bit humid here it's really bad.  This past week there were some days above 110 which aren't fun.  We'll see if I get another day of almost 120 before I leave.

Anyway, not many new things to report.  We do have a baptism scheduled for the 15th of July.  Since I've been in this area, I've really been blessed with a lot of success.  Though I think the reason it kind of feels discouraging is because all of our personal attempts at finding have been completely fruitless.  I mean, we've tried really hard to do our part to get referrals from the members, and we've gotten them.  The two teenagers we baptized and the one on the 15th would not have happened if it weren't for the members.  But all of the finding that we've tried to do from contacts in the street and going by formers have been absolutely fruitless.  Like literally, I don't think we've taught one lesson to a potential that we've found in this area.  So the Lord is blessing us but it still feels like a humbling experience at the same time.  But hey, the best way to do missionary work has always been through the members, right?!?

I included some cool pictures I took of an Arizona sunset.  I've probably told you this before but that's probably the best part about this state.  Anyway, I hope all is well back home and that everyone is enjoying their summer.


Elder Kinney

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

June 25, 2012

Dear Family,

I would love to be in the middle of a cold rain storm right now.  I haven't even seen rain in three or four months, and the temperatures here are now constantly in the hundreds by mid-day. When I get home, I can't wait to figure out a gym and pool I can go to so I can have a solid workout routine.  I can't believe what happened to Jeremy.  I hope everything is going well for him and that there aren't any complications during his recovery.  I'm sure Bishop Quigley (from the NC Ward) attended the Arcadia Ward in Scottsdale for his granddaughter's baptism, which is covered by the Assistants, one of whom is Elder Ralphs, who was my second companion and trainer.  I think his daughter lives there.  Great to here dad is tearing it up with his calling and church responsibilities.  I wonder what kind of calling I'll get in my Singles Ward at BYU.  Anyway,  I hope you got my late father's day card.

I got your letter this week and loved the article you sent on Clay Christensen.  I was also really surprised at the comments from Danny Ainge, which were completely against a quote from the Prophet that was also included in the article stating that serving a mission is an obligation for all who have the Priesthood.  I found it interesting that the most successful Mormon sport stars didn't go on missions.

The District is doing really well.  We had a baptism this past week and have 13 baptisms left for the month of July.  We set another baptismal date for a young man in a part-member family.  His family has already come to church for three weeks in a row, are reading the scriptures regularly, and have had personal interaction with the Bishop, so that one is solid for July 15.  We are also working with this less-active, part-member family -- the Hernandez family.  The ward members seem to be really happy that we've gotten them to go to church for three weeks in a row.  Supposedly it's been a real struggle for other elders and members in the past.  They didn't come the first couple times we invited them when I was with Elder Eskeets but they are getting more comfortable with us coming to their home.  We coordinated with the Bishop yesterday on how we can help the father receive the Priesthood and baptize his daughter.  I'm hoping with the member's support we can get the daughter baptized this upcoming month.  The parents are kind of hesitant to let her be baptized after being inactive for a while, but I feel much better after talking with the Bishop, who is now gung-ho getting that family progressing towards the temple.

Elder Carrillo is an awesome elder.  It's nice to have a seasoned missionary as a companion again.  He has a great attitude and really tries hard even though the area is quite difficult right now.  Anyway, that's what's going on with me.  I liked the picture of Matt's sculpture.  Thanks for everything!!


Elder Kinney

Monday, June 18, 2012

June 18, 2012

Dear Family,

Thanks for sending the pictures of Sister Bray and the Davis' -- I hadn't seen them yet.  That was a very "trunky" week seeing all those people from home and talking about all these people I haven't seen in forever.

Matt seems to be tearing it up in volleyball.  Do they win a lot of games??  It's so weird that Matt is graduating I seriously can't believe it.  Now that I'm on my mission, I have a better perspective of what the gospel is and especially the "why" of the gospel.  Before my mission I knew the church was true despite whatever my actions portrayed but I never grasped its grandeur, and now that I do, I see so many things that I could have done differently (even things that aren't even gospel or commandment related) that could've helped me take advantage of all the opportunities of living in New Canaan, as well as being taught by so many amazing and influential people.  I think having this outlook will help me be more successful upon returning from the mission.

Our District is absolutely tearing it up!!  We have 12 baptismal dates and found 11 new investigators.  The English areas are really the ones doing great, while the Spanish areas, on the other hand, are moving a bit more slowly.  We have a bunch of new investigators that are kind of on the brink of progression and we are hoping to get 2 dates this upcoming week for the month of July.  It still feels good seeing the success of the other Elders.  Something that might contribute to that feeling is many of the referrals we have given them have turned into investigators and baptism dates.  So even while the work isn't going as fast as we would like in our areas, we still feel like the Lord has his eye on us and is placing us in peoples' paths.

One thing I recently implemented in our District last week, that can be linked to the success we've had, is counting and reporting the number of contacts we do in the street or wherever we go.  We have always put emphasis on talking to everyone.  But reporting contacts and striving for a numerical goal that you report, helps us not only talk to all those in our path but those who aren't.  In other words we're being a little more proactive in the "finding" process at our level.  We've seen a ton of success from it and have received great feedback from the other Elders in the District.  We've given them almost 10 referrals within the past 2 weeks (and like I already said, some have baptismal dates), and Elders Egbert and Kiene got 3 of their "news" this week from street contacts.  I've told the elders not to focus all of their finding efforts on street contacting because, as we've heard a million times, it isn't the most efficient "finding" method and we're really trying to work through members.  The Spanish potentials we've received from street contacts recently haven't been real great but we found all of our new investigators this transfer through the members.  Really, what made me try this in our District was studying the call-in reports from about 2-3 years ago where the District was raking in 12-18 "news" a week on a consistent basis.  Obviously, I don't have any demographic information on the area and how that's changed and there could be a million factors, but one difference was that they were talking with upwards of 400 people a week as a District.  I can guarantee that we aren't doing that, and talking with that many people had a direct correlation with how many "news" they were getting.  I'm hoping this trend can come back in our District as we try to be more proactive in our personal finding efforts in the streets while working in conjunction with the members.

Anyway, thanks for everything.  Can't wait to see you in like a month!!


Elder Kinney

Monday, June 11, 2012

June 11, 2012

Dear Family,

Dad, it's a good thing you weren't hurt in that bail you did at Tahoe!!  I haven't crashed on my bike for a really long time (probably about a year).  I would love to do a ride with you when I get back and if we're going for a ride on the road, of course I would use the Cannondale.  It was a really poor decision purchasing a mountain bike at the beginning of my mission instead of cycle-cross or hybrid, but I didn't know anything back then and there wasn't anyone to really help me.  All the roads are flat here and there is no need for all of the extra stuff a mountain bike has that slows you down.

I just saw Brother White's profile!!  I watched it but couldn't hear anything because none of the computers here in the Family History Center have speakers and we can't use headphones.  Seeing the green landscape during the scenes shot at their home in NC made me realize even more how much I can't stand this desert.  The only colors you see here are brown, light brown, brown-green, and brown-yellow . . . just about all the colors you would imagine to appear in your vomit.  I am going to miss a lot of things, but the climate and environment are not one of them.  Too bad I'll only be in CT for three weeks -- then back to the desert again. :(

El Charro was pretty good but did not live up to my expectations or the all the hype that it gets from everyone.  The "famous" green chili burrito wasn't even close to the green chili burrito that my old Branch President's bakery made in Phoenix, and I've eaten in little hole-in-the-wall places that are absolutely delicious.  I would like to go back sometime and try another dish though.  I don't think I have ever eaten at a restaurant I've heard so much hype about.  I just want some good old Garden Catering or a steak, egg and cheese breakfast sandwich with cones (which I'd now just smother in habanero sauce, something I would not have been able to tolerate before the mission).

This past week was an improvement, not only for us but for the entire District.  The English-speaking elders are tearing it up with 9 baptismal dates collectively.  We were basically at rock bottom after our last baptism, starting from scratch.  Even though the numbers aren't where I would like them, we got some new people and some solid potentials.  We are going by members homes a lot and asking for referrals.  We got a sweet one from another one of the youth in the Ward who is preparing to go on a mission.  He said he took his friend to the Visitor's Center and his friend got really emotional and told him that he wants to be baptized!!!  That's exactly what we're looking for.  The members are so strengthened when they play a crucial role in the conversion of an investigator.  We had Danny Quiros who brought us the first baptism I had in this area.  Osman German, came to District Meeting to share her experience with the District so they could get ideas on how to inspire their members and work through the youth.  Our District is seeing a lot of miracles stemming from the youth.  The Zone Leaders found 4 new investigators through Brian, our recent convert.  I'm focusing a lot on contacts in the street because when I look back in my District book, people were finding at least 5 new investigators a week and talking to over 100 in the street (sometimes almost 200).  I know the elders in our District are good at talking with everyone, but none of us are compared with the elders 2-3 years ago that recorded street contacts and raked in news on a weekly basis.  I think there is a difference between talking with everyone in your path and proactively finding people to talk to as companionships are traveling from place to place.  I think it's what people did back when they reported street contacts but it's not done anymore.  As we proactively work with the members we can also proactively find people in the streets even though it's less effective.

Anyway, I need to go.  Hope everything is well at home.


Elder Kinney

Thursday, June 7, 2012

June 6, 2012

Lora Davis sent these photos after she and her husband had lunch with Elders Kinney and Carrillo at their favorite restaurant in Mesa, El Charro!  The Davis Family moved back to Mesa from New Canaan about five years ago.

Monday, June 4, 2012

June 4, 2012

Dear Family,

I am going to have lunch with the Davis family on Wednesday at "El Charro", a really famous restaurant I haven't tried yet.  Brother Davis was pretty excited when I called because he had no idea his wife had dropped off a note the day before.  I'm looking forward to it.  The house where I am now is owned by an awesome family, and they have this awesome Chinese Shar-Pei (a type of dog) which is making me very eager to see Frankie again.

I am glad you enjoyed your century ride in Tahoe.  I've really gotten into bikes while on my mission.  I've acquired a bunch of bike-specific tools, and always help the other missionaries out with tune ups and stuff.  I look forward to mountain biking when I get back to Utah.  Do you ever use your Specialized mountain bike with the Fox suspension?  Because I would love to have it if it never gets used anymore.  I'm thinking of leaving my bike with a member here and then driving down from Utah to get it when I visit some of the converts and stuff.  That's may be the least expensive way to get it home.  I would just like to have it for riding around campus since it's not a mountain bike.

Congratulations to the Mets for their record breaker.  I can't wait to be able to watch sports again.  Who won the first two games of the Stanley cup??  New Jersey or LA?  I think LA is going to win because their goalie is super beastly from what I hear, and they completely wiped out the Blues and Coyotes.

I'm still District Leader in my new Zone.  My companion's name is Elder Carrillo from Kentucky (but his parents are from Guatemala and El Salvador).  It has been a real blessing working with him because he has a great attitude and a real desire to do the work and get things going in our area.  It's been awhile since I have had a companion who really takes initiative to be active in teaching and contacting situations (Elder Eskeets had that motivation but was hindered a bit due to how new he was in the mission and learning the language).  I'm a little bummed I'll only have Elder Carrillo for at most, this transfer and the three weeks of the next one that I'll be here.  We just had a baptism this past Saturday of Brian Rangel which was really good.  His whole family was there and you could tell his Mom was especially touched by the service.  He is the pioneer of his family in the church so we're looking forward to working with them.  We did find out, after talking to our Ward Mission Leader, that she desires to be baptized one day, so hopefully we can capitalize on that pretty soon here.

I'm sure the weeks are going to begin flying by even faster now that I am coming to the end of the mission.  It feels so weird just looking at pictures from my last area and thinking that it passed by as if it were a dream.  I am not going to be one of those missionaries who just stops working though, that's for sure.  I would love to send you pictures but somehow in my last area I lost my card reader or left it somewhere, so I'm going to need to buy another one at the store to send pictures.  Love you lots and hope all is well in NC.  Can't wait to see you.


Elder Kinney

PS - Sister Bray pulled over some Elders in my district and asked them if they knew me and of course they said yes.  I don't know if she is still in AZ but you can tell her the the next time you talk to her that the info got to me.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

May 29, 2012

Dear Family,

Memorial day was actually pretty busy for us.  In our Stake there is a program where the missionaries move every three months to new member's homes and yesterday we moved to a new house in our area.  I like it a lot because it is with Spanish members (the Florian's) and we live on the second floor and it's air conditioned really well.  So my new address is:

2057 W 1st St.
Mesa, AZ 85201

You can check it out on Google maps if you want.  I am better now aside from some slight nasal congestion.  There was an Elder who had to go home a while ago and gave me what was left of this super-multivitamin pack that he was taking called Animal Pak.  I have been taking it every day and I really like it. 

Anyway, we didn't really celebrate Memorial Day . . . not really a Latino holiday but I did enjoy my day with one of the members from Phoenix who I like a lot.  She a single middle-aged lady named Ines Labastida from the Federal District of Mexico.  She is really awesome and always loves helping out and spending time with the missionaries.  I hope you enjoyed your Memorial Day!!!


Elder Kinney

Monday, May 21, 2012

May 21, 2012

Dear Family,

I'm glad you liked the package I sent with the photos -- it was a really cool hike.  I was able to see the very beginning of the eclipse last night, but then we had to go into a fireside. The fireside was really cool because one of my recent converts, Sal Garcia, (the river baptism) got to share his testimony and it was really good.  He is a very strong convert and will be a leader in the church soon.

I got sick yesterday morning.  I felt fine when I went to bed, but woke up at about 4am with my throat killing me like never before.  I talked a PA in our ward last night and she assessed my symptoms, checked my throat, and diagnosed me with strep.

The Moreno family had a really awesome baptism on Thursday.  There had to be at least 50 people there and it was great to see so much support.  They are going to be very strong in the gospel.  We will be working with the father who was unable to progress with the rest of the family due to a training position at his bakery which required him to work on Sundays.  He definitely has the desire though and should be done training in July.

I hope you guys had a really good week.


Elder Kinney

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

May 14, 2012

We had a 40-minute phone call from Elder Kinney on Mother's Day (and he sounded great)!  Therefore, today's email was really short with several photos from his five-hour hike from last week.  There is also a photo of him helping with a puppy pedicure.  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 7, 2012

Dear Family,

I am exhausted right now because I had insomnia last night and we "woke up" at 4:30 and did a 5-hour hike up this mountain called Flat Iron in the Superstition Mountains.  I am so beat I can't even remember what you guys wrote about in your emails even though I just read them two minutes ago.  I got some really cool pictures but I lost the cord to connect the camera to my computer and nobody else here has one.

Before I forget, Happy Birthday Dad!!!!!!!  I hope you guys did something fun, like go and see the Avengers or something.  How are the St. Louis Blues doing?  If they get rocked by the Kings I really hope the Coyotes win the Stanley Cup.  Everyone is going pretty crazy in the Phoenix area because its like the first time they've ever even gone to the playoffs.

This week has been pretty busy and we are going to have another busy one coming up.  We have a baptism tomorrow with a kid named Osman whom we set a baptismal date with during my second night here in Mesa.  He is a little odd and his fellowshipper is this really cute member who is in his grade (which probably has a lot to do with why he is investigating).  He has progressed really well and has kept all of his commitments.  When we went to his house to get his parents' permission for him to be baptized, they didn't even know he had been going to church and meeting with the missionaries like three times a week for four weeks, but they were fine with him getting baptized.  We actually set up an appointment with his parents for next Sunday, so hopefully they can come to church and eventually get baptized too!!!

A family the missionaries were working with for a long time in this area just passed their interview and are going to get baptized in the next two weeks.  If all goes according to plan we should have four baptisms this month.  It is really difficult to find new investigators in our area still.  I think we talked to two Hispanics in the street this past week.

Anyway, I can't wait to talk to you on Mother's Day and I hope that everything goes as planned for Mom's surgery.  Also Happy Birthday again to Dad.  He would have really enjoyed the hike we did this morning.  Saw a lot of cool wildlife: 10-inch centipede, coyote, lizards, birds (turkey vultures), and massive hornet, but the centipede was the coolest.


Elder Kinney

Monday, April 30, 2012

April 30, 2012

Dear Family,

Things are going pretty well in my new area in Mesa.  The members are pretty awesome and have a bit more experience than the ones in Phoenix.  We have four baptismal dates which are looking pretty good -- all for the month of May.  One thing that's a pretty big bummer is the lack of Hispanic people we see while out biking and proselyting.  I think it's been a week since we contacted any Spanish-speaking people on the street.  I see them driving around in their cars so I know they're out there somewhere!!!  We are doing what Sister Ellsworth mentioned and came up with seven different things we can do this week to find new investigators.  We really need to find them through the members, however, because we don't get many potentials to sift through that we meet on the street.

Elder Eskeets and I are doing really well and have achieved a pretty comfortable teaching style.  One thing I really like about Elder Eskeets is that he has the desire to teach and is anxious to share the thoughts that come to him during a lesson.  That's something I really haven't had in a companion since I was with Elder Hernandez like eight months ago.  That kind of attitude is really great coming from someone who has only been out for two transfers (or 12 weeks) and who's still trying to get a good grasp of the language.  Our District did really well this week in terms of finding new investigators and getting people to Sacrament Meeting.  I asked one companionship, Elders Johnson and Clark, who are teaching a ton of people and they told me they don't have one investigator who isn't a referral or someone they found through the members.  I am going to invite them to share a little bit in District meeting this week about what they do or what their members do to find new investigators.

This past week I went to Leadership Training Meetings again which I believe are once every two transfers.  Basically what we do is go to the church next to the Mission Office from 8am to 4pm for 2-4 days and receive training and instruction from our leaders, mainly the Mission President and sometimes the Assistants to the President. By the way, Elder Ralphs, my old companion, is one of the current AP's.  They are usually really good meetings that teach me a lot but sometimes its really easy to get distracted.  One of the things that President has recently implemented in mission meetings (District Meetings, Zone Conferences, etc.) is that the person conducting the meeting selects someone randomly to teach one of the three main lessons in five minutes in front of everyone.  So out of the 50 or 60 District Leaders, Trainers and Zone Leaders present I was chosen to teach Lesson Two.  It was pretty cool because I felt like I did a good job.  It's really easy to go off on stuff that is really not that relevant when teaching Lesson Two, especially the Doctrine of the Fall.  The main purpose of the activity is to assess the knowledge that the missionaries have of the doctrine contained in the missionary lessons. I don't think I have or ever will teach every principle of Lesson Two in five minutes with an investigator, but if it were ever required of me, I'll know the doctrine well enough to teach it in 15 or 30 minutes.

I hope everything is well in New Canaan.  I heard that President Checkett's team, the St. Louis Blues are doing pretty well this year and are set to play the Kings tonight in the NHL playoffs.  I also heard Metta World Peace is suspended for elbowing James Harden on the Thunder.  I am so happy I'll be back for football season this year.  As much as I loved football before my mission, I think not being able to watch sports at all has made me love all sports way more than I did before the mission.  I even found myself doing something I  never could have imagined -- two days ago while talking to someone at their doorstep, I had to resist the urge to watch NASCAR, yes, NASCAR of all sports (if it can even be considered that) which was playing in the background on their massive HD TV.  Anyway, I hope the Blues win the Stanley  Cup.


Elder Kinney

Monday, April 23, 2012

April 23, 2012

Dear Family,

Glad to hear Matt is getting his Eagle and that there's at least a remnant left or the bird houses from my Eagle Scout project 7 years ago.  That's cool dad give all of his talks to the Spanish units in Spanish, because I have yet to see a High Councilman do that on my mission.  They either already know Spanish from their mission or they have a translator for the congregation.  

My new companion's name is Elder Eskeets who is 100% Navajo Indian (sad to say the first sober one I have seen in my mission) and he is really awesome.  He loves to sing, is a really good teacher, works hard, and is really outgoing.  We are going to get a long great.  He was Elder Neilson's companion in the MTC so it's kind of cool I get to be companions with them both.  I was actually with Elder Eskeets on his first night in the mission field when he went on his overnight exchange with the Zone Leaders in Phoenix.  I was feeling pretty sick coming into this transfer but it looks like I am better now after I rested for two days and took some antibiotics.

I was kind of sad to leave Phoenix and the Monterey Branch but I think the reason Sal said I looked blue was due to me being sick.  Since I got here Elder Eskeets and I set two baptismal dates for the month of May, one of them was a fairly new investigator.  The Lord definitely blessed us even though we weren't able to proselyte all of the hours being sick and resting.

I had a really cool experience while sharing Joseph Smith's First Vision to Brian, one of the investigators that we set a baptismal date with. He is about 15 years old and lives right across the street from the Bishop so we had the lesson in the Bishop's house.  He also happens to have some kids Brian's age so it worked out pretty well.  I just really felt the Spirit strongly confirming my testimony of restoration as I shared Joseph Smith's experience in the Sacred Grove.  I think part of that experience can be attributed to me not reciting the First Vision by memory like I have a billion times in an attempt to help Brian understand it more.  It kind of made me ponder about it more while I shared it, but all in all it was a very spiritual lesson even though it was very simple.

Am I in a car yet??  Of course not ... still on a bike and probably will be for the rest of my mission.  Another summer on bike.  Its already like 95-100 degrees so you can forget about spring in Arizona this year.  Anyway I am about out of time so I got to get going.  It was great to hear from you.  I hope you're enjoying the coveted spring time in Connecticut!!  Ooh and yes, I would like some jerky.  Don't know my address right now but I'll send it next week.


Elder Kinney 

Monday, April 16, 2012

April 16, 2012

Hey guys,

Thanks a ton for the letters you sent.  I am glad to hear Jeremy did a good job on his homecoming talk. We received transfer news last night, and I will be transferred to Mesa:( and be companions with Elder Nielson's MTC companion.  I will continue to be District Leader though.

I just  got a soar throat two days ago but the Branch members are really taking good care of me -- they love to help me out with medicine and herbal teas, etc., so I'll get better.  Actually, Sal and Emma Garcia (the "river" baptism family) have this kind of side job as salesmen for this essential oils company called dōTERRA, based out of Utah.  They were very kind to give me some of their oils at no charge so I could get some relief at night and sleep better.  They are doing really well by the way.  Sal actually taught the class in Elders Quorum yesterday, which is so awesome.  I don't know if I already told you, but about two weeks ago he asked us why the President hadn't given him a calling or responsibility yet!!!  We contacted the President as soon as we could and told him he needs to consider giving them callings now.

This past week we had some goods and some bads.  We found three new investigators who actually live across the street from Sal and Emma so we are going to start getting them involved as fellowshippers shortly.  I'm kind of sad to be leaving Phoenix and Elder Nielson.  The two transfers we had together were really fun.  He learned everything really fast and is a great missionary with a lot of potential. It has also been great to recognize the support the Lord gives me as a District Leader so I am better able to lift those up I've been called to serve within my District.  I have a strong testimony that the Lord qualifies those whom he calls.  I've received revelation in terms of what needs to be discussed in District meeting so we can better fulfill our purpose as missionaries and apply principles taught in the scriptures as well as Preach My Gospel.  The District and Zone as a whole have grown a lot compared to a year ago when I first got here, so it will be sad to leave.

The recorder is working great, and so far I've recorded things ranging from talks to jokes.  Once again, thanks for that.  I did get the Easter package you sent, and it's really helping me to lose weight and consume more protein hahahah!  Instead of sending me candy next time, maybe you could send me some protein bars from "Dymatize" instead (  I've already tried the Cookies 'n Cream flavor so you can pick some other flavors to try. 

As far as I know, July 30th is still my scheduled departure date.  I've talked with President and one of the Senior Couples at the office who are in charge of that, and since I haven't heard anything suggesting otherwise, I'm pretty sure it's the 30th.  I really liked the picture of Jeremy and Eric in our kitchen that you sent . . . even though it made me a little "trunky" hahaha (trunky is a missionary term for homesick). I like how Jbray is letting his scruff grow out, though I'm sure he shaved it off before his homecoming talk hahaah. Thanks for everything!!
Elder Kinney

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April 9, 2012

Dear Family,

Thanks for the Happy Easter wishes.  It was a pretty good Easter, except I broke a girl's skateboard "ollying" over a bucket so I have to buy her a new one.  And since I've been trying to eat really healthy recently I have no money because healthy food is so expensive.  I currently weigh 184 pounds and I am supposed to eat 1.5 grams of protein per pound of body weight a day, so that's a lot of protein.  I've been trying to get my protein from shakes and canned fish so I'm not packing on extra fat and carbs.  I've gained a lot of muscle recently but I need to tighten everything up, so that's what I'm working on now.

This past week was pretty awesome because we found 8 new investigators, and of course had 3 baptisms.  I am so glad the Cervantes family came back stronger than ever and decided to get baptized.  It was amazing to see their change of heart and the way they relied on the Lord during the trial they are going through with Gabriel.  He calls me often but I have the feeling that he isn't very sincere -- maybe because the last experience I had with him in person influenced my perception.  Either way, he lives outside of the mission now and is supposedly going to the ward there.

We found a family of 7 that's going to be great (the Beltran family).  It's a rare situation with a man and his 6 children -- it's usually a mother with children, like the Cervantes family.  He has relatives who are members of the church and admires their way of life, plus he wants his children to be raised in a gospel environment.  I am excited to see what's going to happen with them.
It sounds like you guys had an awesome Easter.  After speaking with President and someone from the Mission office, my return-date plan at this point is the 30th of July.  Thanks for everything.  Have a great week.
Elder Kinney

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

March 19, 2012

Dear Family,

I had an interesting birthday this year . . . I was sick until the evening.  It wasn't a big deal since all holidays and celebrations pretty much feel the same as any other day when you're on a mission.  The package you sent came on my birthday, and my companion, Elder Nielson, made me the cake you sent.  I should know who Sister Beu is, but I can't seem to put a face to her name right now.  I can't believe all of the Sisters who came out when I did are already home!!!  I sent a picture with them and Elder Samuels that we took the last time we were all together at a meeting.  I do know Elder Hannesson though.  One of the Spanish Elders I'm pretty close with served in his District or Zone, and found out he knew Dave Checketts through a conversation they were having about hockey.  (Hannesson is originally from Toronto, and the Spanish missionary is a die-hard St. Louis Blues fan.)  Oh yea, I just got around to making the caramelized onion pizza because I couldn't find any raw pizza dough at any grocery store, so last P-day I just decided to get the pre-cooked kind which worked out pretty well.  My companion said he's never had a better pizza in his life.  It was delicious (photo attached)!  It's really cool dad ran into my 1st grade teacher at the grocery store.  I don't even think I would recognize her if I saw her again, but I do remember her name.

As far as my return date goes, I think it's scheduled for August 21 or 22.  I know some of the missionaries in my group who attended BYU are going home on August 10th, so I think I'll talk to President this week and see if I can work that out with him.  I'm pretty sure President doesn't want parents to come and pick up their missionaries, but I know of families that have just flown back the next day after they've been released.  I would prefer coming back some other time with you guys anyway.

This past week went pretty well considering I was sick on my birthday and Elder Nielson was sick for the rest of the week.  Mine was just a 24-hr stomach bug, but Elder Nielson is still sick and has what appears to be a sinus infection.  We had a ton of help from the members, now that I recall, and I don't think we had to go on our bike's once.  Nevertheless, we still didn't have a lot of time in our area and were only able to find one new person who seems pretty awesome.  We had our recent converts take a member and one of our investigators to the temple on Sunday after church. We're hoping Elder Nielson gets better soon so we can get back out on our bikes and do some finding.  We tracted a little bit with the members this week but it doesn't seem like their favorite activity.  I don't know how possible it would be to get one, but we really need a car in our area to be more effective.  Aside from our area being one of the largest bike areas in the mission, we are constantly needing to bike to the east side (the Zone Leader's area) for dinners, church, Family Home Evenings, etc.  Our area is basically double in size compared to the other areas, and consequentially, a lot of the time we could be contacting people is spent on our bikes getting where we need to be.

Thanks for everything -- the CD's, all the birthday wishes, and prayers.  Have a good week.

Elder Kinney

Monday, March 5, 2012

March 5, 2012

Dear Family,

The name of the river we baptized the Garcia's in is called the Salt River, which I believe stretches across a good portion of the valley, but is completely dry in Phoenix.  That's why we had to go all the way out to Mesa where it's still pretty big.  

This week was pretty good in terms of the work we got done.  We weren't able to teach the Rosario who currently has a baptismal date.  It's kind of hard because we don't teach her in her house (her family members aren't very receptive so we always teach her in a member's home).  We want to make cookies and drop them off while they're eating in hopes it might lighten the reputation we have with her children that live there.

We found a really cool new investigator who was actually a referral.  It's another woman (so many of our investigators are women!!) who recently divorced her husband and is going through some rough times.  She's very humble and appears to be quite receptive to the Church.  She'll be coming to a Family Home Evening tonight with one of the families in our Branch.

We wanted to find more investigators but we're having good success with less-actives.  One came to church this past Sunday for the first time in a year.  Even though a re-activation doesn't really carry the same numerical manifestation of success as a baptism, it feels very rewarding when I can help someone be re-activated in the Church.  I truly realized that when I was working with the Torres family in my last area, which was one of the greatest blessings of my entire mission.

Elder Nielson is doing awesome and his Spanish is really improving.  This transfer has gone by really fast and I am excited for another one here in the Monterey area of Phoenix.  Elder Hiatt and I want to take an American Heritage class together at BYU after the mission, but I've heard the one they offer in Salt Lake is way easier.

Elder Kinney

Monday, February 27, 2012

February 27, 2012

Dear Family,

Thanks for sending me a picture of my mission chart.  I had totally forgotten about it.  It is crazy to see how I looked before my mission.  I feel like I look a lot older now, which is a good thing in my opinion.

We actually have some good news regarding Evangelina.  She texted us this week and asked if we could come over with a family from the Branch to help her out a bit.  Apparently, she has felt a little unwelcome in church now that her husband won't be coming with her, but we helped her understand that isn't the case at all.  We'll see what happens with them in the upcoming weeks.  It was actually really good to see all of the little kids again because I missed them a lot.  It really was a great blessing to teach them again and I was sure to express my gratitude to the Lord upon leaving that appointment.

This past week still felt kind of jam-packed with non-proselyting time (kind of like last week) which is always really frustrating to me.  I think a lot of it had to do with preparing for the river baptism (which was so awesome!!!).  We still got some work done and had good progress in our area but I love coming home at the end of a day after talking with a bunch of people.  Even if the numbers don't really show it, at least I got to bear my testimony to a lot of people and I feel productive.  I have a feeling that this next week is going to be better.

Elder Nielson and I are doing great and his Spanish is getting so much better.  I let him take the lead all of the time when we are biking so that he gets used to starting conversations with people.  He is doing really well and has a great attitude about everything.  We are really going to bust our tails this week and try to get a lot done, so I am excited.

But real quick, the baptism in the river was so sweet.  I don't know the last time a river baptism has happened in this mission.  We had a really good turnout and one of our investigators was able to come who has a baptismal date for the end of March.  I am really happy for the Garcia family.  They are going to make a great addition to the branch.

Anyway,  I hope all is well in CT.  I am kind of in a rush right now so I got to go.

Elder Kinney

Monday, February 20, 2012

February 20, 2012

Dear Family,

It sounds like Puerto Rico was a pretty cool trip. I wish I could have been there with all of you, but it won't be too long before we can!!  And I can't believe Jeremy will be back in three weeks and I'll be 21 in less than a month.  I remember my birthday last year like it was just a couple months ago.  Anyway, I hope that Frankie made it alright while you were gone.

Elder Nielson and I are really excited for our river baptism this upcoming Saturday.  The family getting baptized is very prepared and will be such a great blessing to the Branch.  They are very "quick to observe".  Just one example: most investigators come to church in whatever clothes they want and just kind of have the mentality that they don't need to dress up like everyone else because they're just visiting.  We had taught them how the members dress before inviting them to church for the first time, so they came dressed up nicely.  But when he saw all of the Priesthood leaders and a lot of the other men wearing white shirts and ties, and sometimes suits, he came the next Sunday with a white shirt and tie and this past Sunday he came in with a full suit on.  He is always making comments in class and will be prepared after his baptism to recieve a calling right away because he clearly has leadership skills.  I am very impressed with the progress of this family and am really looking forward to seeing their progression in the church.

We had to push back one of our baptismal dates to March 31st because the older woman, depsite having a testimony, has a bit of trouble making the commitment.  Origanally she wanted to wait until her son is released from jail to be baptized (to thank God), but using the book of Mormon, and with the help of a member's testimony, we were able to teach her that God performs miracles according to the faith and diligence we render.  It was a blessing we were able to set another date with her.

The other person we had a date with was Chris Zuniga, the son of Nancy who just got baptized in January.  But like I told you before, he is very independant as an 11-year-old and he didn't come to church this week with his family.  He says he wants to see a baptism so I'm hoping Sal and Emmas' will be a good experience for him.

Unfortunately, it appears that one of our investigators who came to church last week and was pretty solid has been kind of discouraged in his investigation into the Church of Jesus Christ by his Catholic family.  He still says he is reading in the Book of Mormon but hasn't shown the same interest as before.  I am going to give him a call later this week and see what is up with him.

Elder Nielson continues to improve in his ablilty to teach, contact people, and speak the language.  He has a really good attitude about missionary work and we are getting along really well.  I hope that you guys are enjoying winter.  It is really hot here already in AZ.  You'd think that I would be used to it but its looking like this summer is going to be pretty brutal.
Elder Kinney

Sunday, February 19, 2012

February 13, 2012

Dear Family,

The woman in the picture I sent two weeks ago is Olga, a less-active member we have been working with for awhile.  She has 3 kids who are members and 2 that aren't.  She is really nice but doesn't really like to progress.  She currently has a boyfriend and is almost always out with him.  Her oldest daughter, Laura, is the mother-figure of the household
(20 yrs old) and is amazingly responsible given the kind of background she's from.  We continue to go by because it seems they come to church more often when we visit, and we're trying to focus on Olga's two oldest daughters Laura and Cecilia.  They are the only ones who aren't members but also the only ones who seem to understand the standards of the church (not that they necessarily keep them) and the significance of making covenants.  I don't know why the Olga got baptized but she isn't a great example to her kids.  Her daughters always get on her case for drinking coffee and breaking the rules because they know what it means to be baptized in this church.  We actually had a sweet lesson with them (the 2 daughters and Laura's boyfriend) last night where we talked about faith and trials with them.  Laura used to be religious when her grandmother was alive but stopped going to church when she passed away.  We shared a couple of scriptures with her, but the one that hit her the most was found in 1 Peter 4:12-13* in which Peter makes known that "fiery trials" await us and counsels us not to be surprised.  I testified to her that trials are necessary in this life and we grow stronger because of them.  I used the example of how she has become a blessing to her siblings as their mother-figure and she has developed many attributes because of the trials she has faced in the past.  We all felt the Spirit and she started to cry.  We invited her to ponder these things in her heart and to pray to God that he would strengthen her faith.  It was a pretty good lesson.

Other than that I would say our week was below average in effectiveness.  There were just a lot of things out of our control that wasted our time.  We didn't get to teach the people with baptismal dates enough and two of the baptisms are for this upcoming Saturday.  They are still really solid investigators but we are going to need to teach them a lot more before they are prepared for baptism.  Our baptismal dates for the 25th are super solid.  It's a family we've been teaching ever since my first week in the area, the Garcia family from El Salvador.  They really want to get baptized in a lake or a river.  We tried to tactfully persuade them into doing it in the baptismal font due to the hassle it causes those who wish to attend, but it's a really big desire he has so we're thinking of doing it in the Salt River in Mesa.  Elder Hiatt, our Zone Leader, knows a High Councilman who owns a lot of land on the river so we're hoping he can provide us with a spot that also has bathrooms for changing clothes.  We are going to figure it all out this week so that we can announce it in Sacrament Meeting next week and give people time to plan rides and such.

Elder Nielson is doing really well and improving fast in terms of his Spanish.  He still has a long way to go but has improved considerably since leaving the MTC.  It's still baffling to me the number of teaching methods and activities they appeared to have done away with; methods that were primordial in my being able to establish a strong Spanish foundation I could build on when entering the mission field.

Anyway, I hope you guys enjoy your vacation in Puerto Rico.  Send me some more pictures!!!


Elder Kinney

P.S. - Isn't really looking too good with the Cervantes family.  We found Gabriel drunk last Monday night, and then we went back again last night.  I don't thing he really trusts us anymore because we kind of caught him in the act and now he can't really play the victim card with us anymore.  It is really upsetting, but he still thinks the church is true.  I don't really know what good that will do him given the way he's acting.  The whole situation is really intricate and would be very arduous to explain.  We will continue to go by every once and a while to see how he's doing, but other than that we are going to move on to those who are more prepared.

* 1 Peter 1:12-13

12 - Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
 13 - Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

February 6, 2012

Dear Family,

I got a little sick over the past couple days but nothing too serious.

Unfortunately, Evangelina and her girls didn't get baptized because some issues came up unexpectedly that really took us all by surprise and I still feel like I don't know the gyst of the entire situation.  I know in the past Evangelina and Gabriel had their issues but those were due to Gabriel's lifestyle of drinking and partying. It seems she is possibly resentful towards him still and can't accept that he has changed.  Gabrial is very trusting with us and has expressed to me that he wants to save his marriage but Evangelina is currently being uncooperative.  We referred him to President Tejada (our Branch President) and it didn't help at all. As a matter of fact it made things a little worse.  Gabriel now doesn't want to be obligated to go to the Branch every Sunday because he feels like President isn't sensitive to his situation (I told  President Tejada beforehand to handle it with delicacy predicting that something like this would happen).  Thankfully he has a really strong testimony that the church is true, but unfortunately, he just realized not all of its leaders are perfect.  Gabriel also told me Evangelina lied to us about the Word of Wisdom because she is still drinking coffee.

I love President Tejada, and we have a great relationship with him as the missionaries, but unfortunately it seems like he isn't sensitive enough to these kind of situations.

Other than that, our week went pretty  well.  We set four more baptismal dates and found a sweet, new investigator through one of our members (with whom we set a baptismal date).  So those were some really tender mercies the Lord prepared for us after the depressing situation with the Cervantes family.  We will continue to work closely with them and see if we will  be able to help them out.  Gabriel really, really trusts me and has expressed a lot of gratitude for the spiritual support I  provided him through this difficult time.  Please pray that the  Lord blesses me with the gift of discernment so I can know how  best to help him and his family.

Sister Zuniga got baptized two weeks ago and is doing really well.  I only have 3 minutes left so I don't have time to send you the photos. I am so happy that the Giants rocked the patriots!!!


Elder Kinney

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

January 30, 2012

Dear Family,
I received Sister Bray's cookies, and finished them off in about 2 days -- they were delicious.

Training is an interesting experience.  I really like my new companion.  His name is Elder Nielson and he's from Syracuse, Utah.  He is a really good learner and has grown a lot already, even though he's only been here less than a week.  Unfortunately, the MTC didn't do a very good job teaching him Spanish.  I was running through a lot of the activities they did with me when I was there that really helped prepare me for the mission field, and they seem to have done away with those things.  His Spanish is already getting a lot better.  On the first day he wasn't even conjugating words because, supposedly, they never corrected him in the MTC!!!  We have had some really effective studies and practices which have helped us both a lot.  He has a great desire to participate in the lessons despite the Spanish barrier.

It is a lot of work at times being a trainer, especially in Spanish work because you are kind of on your own when it comes to understanding.  I remember when I first came here, I couldn't understand a word people would say to me.  My ear started to really become accustomed to hearing Spanish by about 6 months in.  I'm sure that's where the "interpretation of tongues" comes into play.  We are going to start praying for that more, and we will see a difference.

We had a wierd situation with Gabriel last night regarding the baptism of three members of his family on the 4th.  Gabriel called and said he wasn't sure about baptizing his wife, but he's definitely going to baptize his two daughters.  I know he and his wife had had problems awhile back, but since they started coming to church, things had been getting a lot better.  I still really don't understand the entire situation but apparently his wife is always changing her mind back and forth, and Gabriel wants her to be set on the decision.  He told us to set up an appointment and just talk to her, so we're going to try and do that tonight.

We've been finding people to teach but we don't have any real "golden" ones at this point.  We invited a bunch to church and had 6 people there, but two other families didn't come.  We are talking to a lot of people and the Lord is blessing our efforts.  And we actually have this really awesome potential investigator that came to church with a member -- she supposedly wants to get baptized!  We've scheduled a lesson with her this week and are planning to set a date. 

Something funny happened at the bike shop today.  While Elder Nielson was getting a new bike, our Zone Leader, Elder Hiatt, was putting a bike back under a rack when his head hit the tire of a bike on the top rack, sending $15,000 worth of roadbikes tumbling over like dominoes.  Luckily nothing broke and the store owner made it seem like it happens often.  

I still haven't had the chance to make the carmelized onion pizza but I will let you know when I do.  Hope all is well in NC.

Elder Kinney
PS - Did Romney take Florida???  (Elder Kinney worked on the Romney campaign four years ago!)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

January 23, 2012

Dear Family,

I have an extremely busy P-day today because my companion is getting transferred, and I am going to be TRAINING!!!!!!  That's right, I'm getting a greenie (i.e., new missionary) this Wednesday.  Being a District Leader as well as a trainer means I will have a lot on my plate.  By giving me this calling, the President has a lot of faith in me.  I believe these next couple months are going to be intense and filled with learning experiences.

The church has a special program called "the 12-week program", formulated specifically for trainers and their trainees, which guides our studies and activities for the first 12 weeks of the trainee's mission.  Part of this program requires us to have an extra hour of companion study every morning before going out to work.  I'm definitely excited and a little nervous for this opportunity but I know the Lord will help us out.

I really don't have any more time because we have a lot of stuff to do but I'll send you a longer email and some pictures of my greenie next week.  Hope you enjoyed the snow!!!


Elder Kinney

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

January 16, 2012

Dear Family,

That is a really cool scripture (Isaiah 30:20-21*).  I remember highlighting it the first time I read through Isaiah.

Unfortunately, our Zone, as a whole, is kind of low on numbers and it seems to be getting harder and harder to find people, but our area is doing really well.  A woman named Nancy is going to be baptized next weekend, and then the Cervantes family on the 28th.  They were supposed to get baptized at the beginning of the month but our branch president has been insistant on not giving the Priesthood to recent converts without due preparation (which is very understandable).  If he doesn't get the Preisthood this next Sunday, we'll just tell them we will baptize them.  Hopefully it will work out.

I'm pretty sure AZ accepts Martin Luther King Jr. day as a holiday.  It's a bummer there's still no snow in Connecticut.  It has been really warm here in AZ.  I feel like some days are even a little hot.  I got the package with the stuffed ponies and the t-shirt -- which I did like (thanks a lot), but I still haven't received the sweatshirt, which I was really looking forward to receiving it.

I hope everything is well with work and your calling.  Thanks for your prayers.
Elder Kinney

*Isaiah 30:20-21  "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction, yet shall not thy teachers be removed into a corner anymore, but thine eyes shall see thy teachers: And thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, when ye turn to the left."

Monday, January 9, 2012

January 9, 2012

Dear Family,

I received the package with Matt's gift, but I haven't received the other package -- maybe within the next couple of days.  I got Grammie's card too and am planning to write her back today.   I really enjoyed that by the way.  I also received a letter from Brianna in Spanish and am planning to reply back to her during a language study this week.

Our week went pretty well.  We found two new investigators and taught a bunch of member-presents, but had poor church attendance.  More people actually came to church but some had to leave before Sacrament Meeting, which is the meeting where attendance is reported to our leaders.
We're definitely having a baptism on the 21st with a woman named Nancy, and hopefully her 11-year-old son.  The Cervantes' baptism is getting more complicated because the Branch President doesn't want to give him the Priesthood yet since he hasn't been able to attend church for the past three weeks.  One of those weeks they were ready to come, but nobody picked them up (he's been really good to arrange his rides for awhile now).  Last Sunday his wife had to work really late so they didn't come then either.  We're going to stop by and talk with our President to coordinate that with him this week.

I conducted my first exchange with Elder Rogers this week, and it was a very positive experience.  We both learned a lot.  One thing we did, which helped him a lot, was to take every opportunity to teach a lesson even if it appeared we couldn't.  We were able to set a baptismal date with one investigator too.  I think that that will help Elder Rogers' companionship be more effective with their proselyting time.  Anyway, our District could definitely do better, and I believe we will as we strive to apply the things we have learned from the Spirit and our leaders.  Hope everything is well at home.


Elder Kinney

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

January 2, 2012

Hey Family,

I enjoyed reading mom's talk she gave on me in sacrament meeting.  As far as your questions go, I did receive the second package about 4 days a go I believe.  The Wal-Mart hoodie's zipper broke the very first time I tried to zip it up hahaha.  By the way, I think it's better you send packages directly to my apartment because the Mission Office was the reason it was delayed in getting to me.

Last night we took the Cervantes family to the temple to see the Christmas lights which went really well.  All of the little girls in the family love me so much because I am always playing with them (actually when we go to teach them, I split off and teach the girls in English while Elder Camarillo teaches Gabriel and Evangelina in Spanish).  While we were in the Visitor's Center they were climbing all over me.  A Sister Missionary, Sister Avila, who has only been out for like 3 weeks asked, "what is this?!?! little kids climbing on Elders???!?!"  It was kind of funny.  I attached some pictures I took last night of the Cervantes family at the Christmas lights.

I also attached a picture of the brand and flavor of Japanese-style noodles that are my favorite.  So the next time that you want to send me some, you can just send me all of that kind -- they are so delicious!  I remember that I used to just clear out that Japanese store of every single one they had when we went.

This week was kind of frustrating in terms of finding new investigators -- something we are trying to focus on.  We didn't find any but we have a bunch of potentials and referrals from the Christmas lights that we contacted and set up appointments with.  Also due to people staying out late on New Years Eve, there were not many people at church.  We had one investigator, Nancy Zuniga, whose husband is less active and is going to get baptized with her son on the 21st of January.  The subject of one of the talks was reverence during Sacrament Meeting.  It was a really good talk but the Branch President was completely knocked out for the whole thing.  Some of the families in the Branch were laughing because one of the things the speaker focused on was concentrating on the speaker and not falling asleep.  A lot of people were super tired and barely made the decision to come to church.

One really cool experience we had this week was in a lesson with Nancy Zuniga.  We were teaching her about the Plan of Salvation* and I shared with her a scripture in Acts 14:22** which talks about how it requires us to pass through tribulation to be able to enter into the kingdom of God.  After that she shared an experience about revelation that she received while reading in the Book of Mormon about the story of Nephi retrieving the plates from Laban.  It was so awesome.  She told us how she knows that God always provides away for us to succeed but allows us to pass through trials to test our faith.  I told her right after that that she had received a revelation from God -- she told me she knew she had.  We are seeing a lot of miracles with the families we are teaching.  We just need to find more!!!!

I hope that everything is well in CT and that you had a great New Year's Day.


Elder Kinney

*Click on the link (on the rights side of the blog) to view a short video describing the Plan of Salvation.

**Acts 14:22 - Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much atribulation enter into the kingdom of God.