W4 of T11 10/24/16 - 10/30/16
Total: 1631.7 miles
Time: 23min 40sec
Hey Fam and Friends!
I've been getting lots of questions about the Mission, the people, and the food down here and let me see if I can enlighten you on these topics. So I decided to plagiarize Elder Carson Birds brilliant idea of writing a General Epistle about what we are doing out here on Missions in various parts of the world!
I am Elder Ben Allen and I am serving the Texas Houston East Mission of the Church. It is known as THE Mission of the Church. The best one. That's all there is to it;) We have the name Houston in the name of the Mission, but we don't actually cover any of down town Houston. Houston is made up of a bunch of smaller cities that the bigger Houston Government has annexed into the City of Houston. Last I heard, Houston is the 4th Largest city in the United States, but I recently heard that it just passed Chicago as the 3rd. But I can't verify that, so I don't know completely. THE Mission extends from just outside Downtown Houston all the way to Crowley, Louisiana, which isn't too far from Lafayette. It runs along the Gulf Coast and goes as far North as Lake Livingston. Minute Maid Park (Houston Astros), NRG Stadium (Houston Texans), and BBVA Compass Stadium (Houston Dynamo), are all on the other side of the mission boundaries. I've attached a marked up screenshot of the map. Kennedy Space Center is on the other side of the Highway as well. All in all, we really don't have any Tourist Attractions in our Mission. The mission right now is split into 6 zones: Kingwood, Summerwood, Pine Trails, Houston East, Beaumont, and Orange. Houston East was recently formed from Broadway and Pasadena Zones. When I served in Broadway, it was its own zone. I have served in Beaumont, Broadway, Summerwood, and now Orange.
The People down here are all in the Gas and Oil Industry. Big companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron are mostly based out of Houston and surrounding areas. There are a lot of refineries and plants. All of Houston and the surrounding areas live off of these plants. The life cycle that we live revolves around the different seasons and shifts. Missionary work is also affected by these because the Spring and Summer are when a lot of the plants are rolling over trying to expand the plants and do repairs. This creates a lot of jobs and a lot of workers go back to work for a few months. They will work 7-12s for weeks on end. 7 days a week, 12 hours a day. They'll do this for 14 days, then get a break day. When workers are on 7-12s it makes missionary work quite hard...
I am stationed in Vidor, Texas assigned to the Williamson 2nd Ward. We cover parts of north and South Vidor and a little bit of Mauriceville. Vidor was originally founded way back when some missionaries came in about a 100 years ago and baptized a few big families, the Williamsons, the LaPrays, and the Odoms. Every member in Vidor or Beaumont thats not a transplant is a member of one of these families. They are all interconnected in some way, shape, or form. There are enough members here in Vidor that everyone knows at least 1 or 2 of them. Every non member that we come in contact with has talked with members before. It makes missionary work a little bit different; we work a lot through the Less Actives on the rolls to find unbaptized children or spouses to teach. The Williamson 2nd Ward is part of the Orange Texas Stake. There are 4 Wards in Vidor: Williamson 1, 2, 3, and 4. We all meet in the same building on Sunday and it makes for an interesting Block. Church times are at 8:30, 10:30, 12:30, and 2:30. Right now we go to 12:30, but are going to be rolling over to 2:30 at the New Year. The 2nd Ward incorporates people from all the different families as well as a few Utah or Idaho transplants, mostly those that married into these big families. Our Bishop is a man named Bishop Quirante and he is a very nice man. Our Ward Mission Leader is one of the best I've ever had, a man named Brother Hatton. He's a hard working, former Bishop who knows his stuff. He gets things done when they need to get done and he likes to be involved in all the missionary efforts around the Ward.
The food down here is pretty good. There is a lot of Cajun Influence and that means spice and rice. The spice is amazing and the rice is pretty good too. I've ballooned in the last month or so since I've been here. Not necessarily a good thing, but having a car isn't helping either. Need I say more on that? Ok thought so.
Moving on to the more Spiritual side of things. We've been sharing 2 Nephi 25:26 with just about everyone that we come in contact with, members and no members alike.
"26 And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins."
Everything in this Church and what we believe revolves around Our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement for our sins. Sometimes we get too caught up in the prophet Joseph Smith or the Restoration of the Gospel that we forget what the Gospel is. Gospel literally means 'good news.' When we share the Gospel, we are spreading the Good News, being that Jesus Christ sacrificed Himself for us and that through Him, we can be forgiven and washed clean. We do this through being obedient to the Laws and Ordinances that have been set forth: Faith, Repentance, Baptism by Immersion, and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost by the laying on of hands by those holding the Priesthood Authority from God.
Yes the Restoration was necessary. Yes the Book of Mormon is the Word of God. Why did the Gospel have to be restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith? Why do we need the Book of Mormon? For sake of time, I won't go into too much detail. The answer is simple: Through the Book of Mormon, we gain a greater understanding of the Divine role of our Savior and a witness that the Priesthood has been restored and because of this, a knowledge that we have the authority and power to be cleansed through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.
I know that this is true. I know that we have a Savior who loves us very much and wants the best for us. As we let Him work within our hearts, He can change them. I know this through prayerful study of the Book of Mormon and application of the principles contained within.
I love y'all! Happy Halloween!