Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016

Dear Family and Friends!

Wow things have been getting better and better here in BV! We are seeing lots of progress with a few of our investigators and serving in the YSA is of course just a different experience! Ha! The YSA is so great because missionary work is done RIGHT there! Members do ALL of the finding and all we have to do is teach the doctrine while the members fellowship! Almost all of the members are returned missionaries so they recognize the joy of the gospel and do so well to share it with as many people as they can! It's amazing! 

So I'm sure everyone is wondering what has been going with all the rain in West Virginia so I'll let you know all that is happening because some of the most severely hit areas was in our zone!! It's in a place call White Sulfer Springs which is famous for the Greenbrier hotel! Houses have been literally swept away, cars overturned and in the middle of the Greenbrier golf course, and entrance ramps to the freeways collapsed! We have been sending teams of volunteers as part of "Mormon Helping Hands" with missionaries to help serve! They have been trying to do clean up, but there is just SO much to do over there it's almost over-whelming! Most recently they have just been going into peoples homes (everyone was of course evacuated) and shoveling mud and gunk out of the houses! President Salisbury has been communicating a lot with Elder Maloy and I and basically has delegated a lot of the responsibilities to us as far as what the missionaries in our zone should do! He also told us that he wants us giving as much service as we can this week, so we will be going up there to help out a lot this upcoming week! I'll be sure to send some pictures!

Last night we had a tri-ward missionary fireside at our ward building and it was awesome! We had probably about 60 people attend with 6 non-members and less-active members present! It was so successful! We had testimonies of recent converts, amazing musical numbers and uplifting videos from! It was such a powerful meeting and one of the non-members we were sitting near was in tears as we watched the mormon message "the hope of God's light"! She unfortunately isn't in our area to teach, but it's still a sweet experience to see someone be touched by the Spirit of God! It was amazing

All of our investigators are doing well and are progressing towards baptism! Especially one who we found a couple weeks ago! We taught her on a day that we werent planning to see her but rolled with it and ended up inviting her to church AND to be baptized which is HUGE! She has a lot of concerns with coming to church alone, but the Spirit hit her hard and completely washed away all those concerns because she even accepted a baptismal invitation! It was honestly one of the most powerful lessons of my mission! I love it! It was a real experience of how the Spirit can soften hearts and perform miracles! I know that the Holy Ghost is real and is sent by Our Father to lead and guide us as we are humble enough to listen! I love this gospel and I learn things every day! I hope you all have a great week! Love ya!

Elder Barazoto

Monday, June 20, 2016

June 20, 2016

Dear Family and Friends!

Another great week being a missionary! I am learning and growing so much, it's awesome! This week we have been able to accomplish a lot of different things! On Tuesday we picked up a new investigator, Joseph! The Sisters who are serving in Lexington referred us to him and he is great! He is an Eastern Orthodox Bishop!! We knocked on his door and he answered in a big black robe! Haha! It was awesome! He invited us right in and we got talking about religion and all kinds of different things! There isn't a very big presence of Orthodox members in the area so for now he holds church in his living room! I was very surprised to sit on his couch and be staring directly at a "temple" modeled after Solomon's Temple in the Old Testament! Ha! It was crazy! But Joseph and his family were super nice and said we could come back to teach more about the gospel! He told us that he has read the ENTIRE standard work so our next visit should be really interesting! :) I'm excited! Haha

As far as working with the YSA's, there is so much to do and so many people to see! We had a meeting with Bishop Rodrigez on Saturday and went over a ton of people for us to go see! Some of them are even returned missionaries which is super sad! If there is one thing I've learned from serving in the YSA ward is that it's far too dangerous to skip or not make church or scripture studying a priority because it can become a habit real quick! If we do those simple things, we will never fall away and never have to experience less-activity in the church! Its one of those things that terrifies me and motivates me at the same time! Ha! 

Well thats about it for this week, but I want everyone to know that I know that Heavenly Father lives and loves us! I know he answers prayers and will help us as we trust and follow Him! I know that the Book of Mormon brings joy, peace, and purpose in life, because I have personally experienced it! I know that the church is true and am SO grateful I have a sacred opportunity to teach and preach it to my brothers and sisters! I love you all and hope you have a sweet week! :)

Elder Barazoto
A snake!

He loves me!

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016

Dear Family and Friends!

Another pretty awesome week in Buena Vista! We've been pretty busy with some more responsibilities that we took on, but thats a good thing! So this last transfer, the missionaries serving in the YSA wards got transfered because our mission is loosing a TON of missionaries and because of that we will be taking over the YSA ward! So now we are working with people that are only like 2 years older than us and its super different! Haha! Yesterday we were at a house full of YSA's having dinner with them and I felt like they could all be current missionaries but they were all RM's! It was really cool though because they are super missionary minded and told us that one of their non-member friends was coming for us to introduce ourselves too! His name was Alex and he is roommates with the Elders Quorum President in our ward! At the dinner appointment (We had no idea Alex would be there), we had already decided to teach about the Atonement and when we taught it to them, the Spirit was pretty powerful! I was really happy Alex was there because it was definitely a good taste of the blessings of the gospel for him! He is having great exposure to the church right now so hopefully that will mean that we will be able to teach him more soon!
He is also studying at Virginia Tech to become an engineer so we of course connected pretty well there too! It was a really great experience I think, and I think working in the YSA ward will be a blast! Im pretty excited for it! Ha! :)

Elder Maloy and I had another pretty neat experience with another one of our investigators. I had mentioned her in my letter last week, but she has made some awesome progress since then! We were able to teach her a couple of times and she opened up quite a bit to us which is super awesome! We taught her about God's plan for all of us as individuals and our divine heritage! I think that it really hit home for her and she is excited for us to come back and teach her more! 
I never would have thought that she would be as receptive and as prepared as she is so it was a great testimony builder to me that Heavenly Father works in mysterious ways, but His way is always the right way! I know that there are people all around us that need what we have and if we approach those situations in a spirit of love, people will receive it! When we understand our Savior's love for us as individuals, we will understand how important it is for us to share the gospel to our brothers and sisters! This work is all about love and I have come to learn that more and more each day! 

Well thats all for this week, but I hope everyone has an awesome week and that you reach out to one of your friends this week! :)

Elder Barazoto

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

June 8, 2016

Dear Family and Friends!!

Its been a pretty insane week and I dont have a whole ton of time, but I do have a couple pictures! Hurray!! Haha. So between last week and this week we had MLC, Zone Meeting, AND transfers! Pretty nuts! So MLC was last Friday and Elder Perkins who is a General Authority was there! He made a last minute decision to come because he hasn't been to West Virginia in a while so he came! Ha! He talked to us very specifically about how we can be better missionary leaders and what our mission is doing well and can improve on! He basically took the statistics of our mission, compared them with other surrounding missions and helped us to see exactly what our focus should be! It was awesome and he is so powerful! Then on Monday we did zone meeting and that was pretty sweet too! We taught a lot about how to be powerful and faith-filled missionaries and it was so insightful! 
Then of course we have transfers this week! The news came on Saturday and Elder Maloy and I will be staying together for another transfer!! This is his last transfers and he is pretty happy that he is staying! Ha! Then something interesting occurred to me that I will spend 6 transfers (9 months) with only 2 companions! I haven't ever heard of that happening in our mission before, but I am stoked about it! I have loved them both so much! The only sad thing about this transfer is that Elder Taylor who is serving in our zone and is from Gilbert is getting transfered... He was one of my favorite missionaries to work with but the Lord needs him in other places! He is an awesome missionary!

So a highlight of this week was when we found a pretty awesome new investigator! We had seen her a couple of times walking around Buena Vista and always waved and said hi but for some reason never talked to! We finally decided to talk to her and she was very receptive and nice to us! She wants us to teach her family as well so that should be interesting! Ha! We will be teaching her tonight so we are pretty excited about that! 

Well thats pretty much it for this week! I love all of you and hope that you have an awesome week!

Elder Barazoto
This is our zone! I would be in the picture but I am taking the picture.... Im sorry Mom!!