Monday, March 28, 2016

Weakly Email

It's been a super crazy week. Good things are still going on around
here. I have a couple of stories to tell you people.

First, we went to another revival. Turns out the revivals have been
happening at a Methodist church, not Baptist. It was very crazy. I
regret not taking any pictures or videos of it if I'm honest.

This time the preacher came from Houston. She wore this kind of
robe/dress-like outfit, it was bright red and at the neck it had that
collar with a white square right under her chin like those clothes
Catholic priests wear, which was interesting. She gave a pretty decent
sermon about Judas and how even though what he did was super evil,
betraying Jesus was the act that led to Jesus' destiny, that is, dying
for our sins. Similarly, in our lives there are people who betray us
and bad things that happen, etc. but all those things are pushing us

Things got a little weird after that, though. The preacher invited the
congregation (it was fairly small) to come up to the front and told
them she was going to unleash "the resurrection power" upon them.
There were two people who came up who (I'm not sure exactly how the
preacher found out about it) had been having some problems with
anxiety, depression, things like that. (They also happened to be the
only two not black people in the congregation besides us.) So the
preacher decided she needed to use the resurrection power to cast the
devils out of them.

The next part was VERY confusing because I am pretty sure there was
speaking in tongues involved and there were "Hallelujah!"s and "Praise
Jesus!"es interjected about every five words. But it seemed like the
preacher was referring to one devil as "Santa Maria" (similarly to the
word "resurrection", it appeared that no one in the congregation knew
what Santa Maria means) and one as "the medicine man". Anyway, the way
she cast out the devils was basically by yelling at them, in the name
of Jesus, to leave this chapel, leave this congregation, leave the
pews, leave the cars in the parking lot, Hallelujah, praise Jesus,
etc. it went on for quite a bit. Then she would chant at the woman in
some sort of non-language (I guess it was her way of speaking in
tongues) and place her hand - very forcefully - on the woman's head.
With this the afflicted woman collapsed to the ground unconscious. The
other woman was sitting on a pew, so when she had the devil exorcised,
she didn't collapse but merely convulsed and shook where she was

So that was one very weird experience but everyone was fine afterwards
of course. The other one was at a lesson with an investigator who had
always seemed a little crazy but this time... she was different. We
had a member with us and it was her first ever member-present lesson..
I felt super bad for her!

Anyway, we started teaching the message and Elder Yanzon had our
investigator, My-isha, read a scripture in Romans 8 that talks about
our relationship with God. After she read it he asked "so what does
this verse tell us about who God is?" Instead of answering, My-isha
started to breathe in and out really hard and with every exhale she
would say - or rather vocalize - "lalalalalalala" very quickly under
her breath. She kept doing that for an awkward thirty seconds when
Elder Yanzon asked "are you ok? Is there anything we can do for you?"
to which she replied "no, I'm fine."

So after this sort of thing went on for a bit My-isha stood up and all
of a sudden just threw her head back and wailed
"LALALALALALALALALALA!!" at the top of her lungs. Pretty much all of
us were thinking the same thing, meaning, "what the heck is going
on??" at this point, because nothing we said would get My-isha to
react, but luckily she opened the door and told us we need to get out
now, never come back, we are of the devil, etc. Overall it was super

Luckily these experiences aren't super typical of the people we
usually meet, but there are crazy things going on down here. I hope
y'all are enjoying life. This email is super long already so I better
get going.

I love you all, etc.

Elder Taylor

The district. minus sisters.

Habitat for Humanity.

Laser tag. in the church. super lucky.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Trunkiness never was happiness

Well, it's been a while since I sent an email so I figured I ought to send one to keep y'all updated.

Life in Texas is good. It's kind of getting to the point in my mission
where it's stopped feeling like "oh my gosh!! We're TALKING to 20 NEW
people today??" and now it's just become the regular thing to do each
day. I still have a ways to go on my teaching but it's getting better
every day. The people here are awesome. Yeah, pretty much every rumor
you hear about people in Texas is probably true, but they are really

So transfers happened almost two weeks ago now. It's pretty
unbelievable how fast time flies on the mission. I'm still in Sealy
but my new companion's name is Elder Yanzon. He's from the Philippines
and luckily he's another great missionary. I've already learned like
crazy from him. We plan super hard. I used to plan for half an hour
each night (or less) with Elder Jones. Now we plan for like an hour
and a half every night!! I need to sleep...

Overall we are staying pretty busy. The main struggle in the Sealy 1st
branch is the huge size of the area. Every member who comes to church
is spread super thin with all these responsibilities. Yesterday we got
a list of 61 prospective elders that live all over the place. I think
we've met about 5 of them, so it'll be some good finding.

We have two investigators right now with a baptismal date (I was
overly optimistic a few emails ago), Mario and his wife Ana. They are
super solid!! It's way awesome to see the change that has taken place
in their lives as we continue teaching the lessons. Their daughter
(who is an adult and doesn't live at home) walks through their house
every once in a while, and you can kinda tell by the way she looks at
us that she doesn't have a whole ton of respect for religion or
religious people. But! Ana told us yesterday that her daughter had
come up to them (when we weren't around) and asked about us. She was
like "who are those guys? Every time I come in and they're around I
just feel peace." (Not a direct quote of course but that's very much
what she said) and she said next time we were around and she was
around she would listen to us!! So That's Awesome.

Let me know if y'all have any questions about Texas or people in Texas
or whatever.

I love you all. (said every missionary email ever.)

Elder Taylor

P.S. Here are some pictures.

Some cool graffiti in Eagle Lake.

Elder Yanzon.

Elder Yanzon in Eagle Lake. This is pretty typical of the area.

This is a guy we walked by in Eagle Lake. We watched him catch a snapping turtle, and I guess he's going to make stew out of it.

The Houston Temple.

The new district at the temple. (P.S. we got to go to the temple. It was swell.)

Monday, March 7, 2016

first and second baptisms!

Hey. This isn't really a reply to the last email I sent but it's the
only way I could figure out to send it to everyone in a super easy

I'm pretty short on time because we went to Houston today to get a new
CAR! That was kinda exciting.

Elder Jones and I had our first baptism on Saturday and a second one
on Sunday. They were both kids (9 years old) from part-member families
(slash less active) so that makes teaching them really easy. They
already pretty much believed everything and knew most of it. It's kind
of a nice way to get through the lessons as a new missionary.

Some random things:

Hopefully we will be getting some more new baptisms and very soon.
(and adults.) Transfers are in a week, so Elder Jones will probably be
leaving the area since he's been in Sealy for about 6 months. I really
hope I get to stay. We spent these whole two transfers pretty much
trying to build a foundation with the members of the branch because
they really didn't trust missionaries before. Now all of the work is
starting to pay off and Elder Jones doesn't even get to see most of
the fruits of his efforts! He is a super hard-working missionary and
he really helped change the area. I really hope we can keep it up
after he's gone. We could be seeing as many as 10 baptisms in the next
three months so I'm super excited.

Sealy is a really big area and really rural, it's like 50 miles wide
with maybe 25,000 people living in the whole area. (If you want to see
the size of it on a map, Bellville is the northern edge of the area,
Eagle Lake is the southwestern edge, and Brookshire is the easternmost
city. (I think.)

I used to weigh 157 pounds before the mish. Now I weigh 166. I REALLY
hope it's muscle and not fat but we'll see. idk.

I don't really know what else to say but I would love to answer any
questions any of you have. The Lord is really blessing us a lot. the
mission is great. if you want to become an adult really fast (well, I
guess in some ways. a lot of things are still pretty well provided for
us. it's interesting.) try going on a mission. I can't believe how
much I have changed and how many things that I thought were set in
stone before the mission really weren't. It'll be interesting to see
how things are when I come back.

there's my stream of consciousness for ya.

I hope you all are having a great time wherever you are in life. I love you all.

-Elder Taylor

P.S. Here are a few pictures. The one with Elder Jones and I is with
Bailey, who was baptized last Saturday. The one with Elder Jones only
is with Evan and Ella Cornett, who we baptized and confirmed on
Sunday. Since Evan is 9 and Ella is 8, Ella doesn't really count as a
convert baptism. But we taught her so she sort of does. But she really