Week 11: Thanksgiving, Dogs in the Night, and the New "He Is The Gift" Video

With Elder Rivera (right) and our two roommates

December 1, 2014
Hello everyone,

I had another great week! I am having a lot of fun. Because we opened a new area, we have been working on building up our pool of people to teach. We now have a pretty good-sized pool and we are hoping to turn it into a group of new members! I honestly think that the group we have has tons of potential. Everyone we talk with seems really interested, the problem is just getting them to progress on their own and keep their commitments. The Hispanic population is really nice and open, but because of this, they agree to like everything. Each week we have like 5 or so people tell us they will be at church, and then we even call them Sunday morning and they will say they will be there, but then they don’t show up, so that part can be frustrating, but we just need to give it time. 

Turkey on Turkey Day
But Thanksgiving was good for me! It didn’t feel like Thanksgiving at all, though. We had a breakfast appointment with this German woman and her 5 CRAZY dogs, and it was actually really good food. Her dogs were like loud as heck and barking so that made it interesting. And then we played football as a zone in the afternoon from like 2-5, which was super fun because I have been dying to play some football since last football season! It was actually really nice on Thanksgiving Day…like 60 degrees and sunny so it was perfect! We were all out in our shorts and t-shirts which was really fun. Then we had a dinner with a family from Australia, which was fun. Their family actually reminded me of our family, except they are in the next phase of life. They have 6 kids too, but their oldest is like 10 years older than me and is married and has two kids. Their youngest is in middle school, about Grace's age. But they had a normal thanksgiving dinner with turkey and potatoes and stuff so that was fun. 

With all the Elders at Isaac's house on Thanksgiving
Because there are 3 sets of elders in our ward, we all usually eat dinners together, so we went with all 6 of us to those meals. Then after dinner we went over to Isaac’s house for another "dinner" but it was mostly just a hangout for an hour with like 10 other elders. I posted a picture of that. And that was just about it for my Thanksgiving Day. Every Thursday we do a long weekly planning session, so we did that too. Our mission president told us that we could only go to two meals, so unlike the elders back at home in Virginia, I didn’t go to 5 dinners…haha.

So the big thing that came out this week is the new "He Is The Gift" video that the church is putting out worldwide this December.  It’s a 3-minute video to emphasize the true meaning of Christmas and remind everyone of the greatest gift we have ever received…which is the gift that Christ gave us of His life. It’s a great, powerful video that you guys should check out!  The church is taking over YouTube starting December 7th and continuing for the rest of the month.  The header and all the advertisements will be by the church. They will also have billboards in Times Square in New York City for a lot of the month. Here's the video - it's awesome:

On a different note, one night this week I woke up in the middle of the night and I heard like this whining noise and I couldn't figure out what it was, so I sat up in bed and this little dog came running up to me!!! I was so baffled and i was still half asleep so i was literally scratching my head as to what was going on. The members who own the house were out of town, so we were in charge of feeding their dogs and stuff. The dogs can get in and out of their house on their own, and they are good dogs, but we had left the door to our loft open that night, and the dog just marched in and somehow the door shut behind it, so it couldn’t get out! So anyways, i woke up and saw this dog and i had no idea what the heck to do with it, so i decided to just leave it.

Freakin' SUNSHINE (the dog) on my bed!!!
So i went back to sleep and ignored it, but then like a half an hour later I woke back up and it was now on my bed, still whining!! I was so confused and bewildered; I had never slept with a dog before!! So this time i was like all right – it needs something, because a dog doesn’t just whine for no reason! So then i got worried that like the dog needed to pee or something and the thought occurred to me that it might pee on my bed or somewhere in our loft!! So then I was like HECK NO – no more of this dog non-sense!! So I tried to get it to follow me to the stairs, where i could take it down and open the door, and thankfully it followed me without too much effort. Then i opened the door and it ran out. Who knew a cute little dog named “Sunshine” could cause so much trouble for me!! 

Another funny thing that happened this week:  we were in the middle of a lesson and we got a text on our phone from an unknown number that said "Please help…my llamas r out" and because we were in a lesson we didn’t make a big deal out of it.  But Elder Rivera showed me the text and we both looked at each other like "whooo in the heck is that...?"  So we texted them back and were like – who is this and tried to figure out who it was! It turns out that it was a crazy investigator from a different area who got the wrong number and was looking for some different missionaries. But apparently they have 12 llamas and they get out a lot, so the missionaries are always over there trying to bring them back – haha.

Helping to remodel the Lira's house
Speaking of service, this week we were able to help the Lira family big time! They are remodeling their house and tore a ton of drywall and wood out of their old trailer. Literally like 3 tons of garbage. And so a guy in our ward has a big 25-foot trailer and a huge truck that we used and piled all the garbage onto, and took it to the dump! It was like a three-hour ordeal, but of course that was right up my alley – so I was loving every minute of it!! And Brother Lira couldn’t believe it all. 

Hauling the Lira's garbage away on a 25-ft trailer
We paid for the dump and everything, and he was overwhelmed with all the help we gave him! We still haven’t had the chance to teach them too much, but they are moving in in two weeks, and hopefully once they are settled then we can actually teach them. It is hard to teach them because whenever we go over they are working like painting or something, so we are kinda waiting on them. 

The Flores Family's Dog
But the Flores Family is doing great. They are progressing slowly. The kids are actually making the most progress, and the parents told us yesterday that they are really interested in what we have to offer because after we taught them about the Book of Mormon and how to pray, their oldest son, Junior, has been really excited about praying. And they said that he has never been so excited to pray, so we must be doing something right. This got us excited and we are going back tonight to teach them more. Please keep these two families in your prayers.

Also keep Victor Andrande in your prayers. Elder Rivera was teaching him when he used to be there. He didn’t get baptized, but was really interested so we went back and found him and he agreed to be baptized this Saturday!! But he didn’t come to church yesterday, so we have to push it back a week, but he has lots of potential. He is doing everything we ask of him and loves learning about what we have to teach. He is 18 and a senior in high school and he is way cool! His grandma and cousin are both inactive members, so we are trying to get them all to come back to church.  Please pray that he will follow through with getting baptized this month. We have a mission-wide goal to have 100 baptisms in December, which is one per companionship across the mission. We have all been praying that we can make this happen, and we hope that Victor can be our baptism for this month. 

Hey Mom – I got the thanksgiving package!!! Thanks for all the food and treats, and thanks to the rest of the family for the notes you all wrote me. I love getting mail from you guys. Everyone is jealous of me because I get so much mail and packages, so that is fun.

Well I don’t have much more time, but I love you guys!! Thanks for everything. 


Elder Todd
In the back of the tractor-trailer

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