January 12, 2015 - Breaking and Entering....into our own apartment

Fixing the flat on our own car
(thanks to my awesome dad for teaching me how...)

January 12, 2015
Howdy y’all!!

Well the weather here is quite the opposite of home it sounds like!  It has been warm…like 50s-60s here!! It is great for missionary work. However I am still quite jealous because I want some snow here!! But I am glad that all is well back at home...and that MJ hasn’t yet crashed the car in the snow.

Flat tire (our car)
So if last week we were contractors, then this week we have been auto mechanics!!  We changed like 3 tires (including our own....) and then helped people push their cars, and jump start their cars too!! (See pics.)  Last Monday, we were driving to the store and got a flat tire on the way there.  So luckily we were close to home, and just drove home slowly! We then changed it, (or - I changed it while Rivera did nothing haha) and then we rocked the donut for the rest of the day. That was fun. 
Little did we know that it was a foreshadowing for the rest of the week. On Wednesday I think it was, we were walking around, and this old guy came limping around the corner.  We went up to him and asked him what was going on, and he told us that his tire had fallen off while he was driving home, and it was down on 7th street. So we were like well
Freakin big old nail in our tire
we can go check it out, and drove on down to 7th street to check it out. And sure enough, the whole hub had fallen off, including the brake pads and everything! Bottom line…there was nothing that we could do. But I really needed to go to the bathroom, so we drove down the road to 7-11, where I ran inside real quick, and then when we came out, a mom came up to us and was like "Hey elders, sorry to bother you but, my tire just fell off my car, and I was wondering if the church could help me out. I don’t have any money to pay for a new one, and my car is down on 5th street.”
Car #1 - flat tire
So we were like "Dang! What the heck happened today??  It’s like Tire-Falling-Off Day!" So we drove down to 5th street, and sure enough…this one wasn’t as bad, the hub was still on, but the rubber tire itself was just about to fall off. So we jacked up her car, took the tire off, and ran into a tire shop that was right next to 7-11 to ask how bad it was and stuff. The guy said it wasn’t salvageable, and that we needed to buy a new/used tire. So we went ahead and bought a used tire for her and put it on. 
Car #2 - flat tire
She was so grateful!! It was fun to see how happy she and her kids were after we helped them. We went back to the older man with the other car, but there was nothing we could do for him, because it needed to be towed and we don’t know anyone who has a tow truck. Nor do I know how to put back on an axle...

The next day we had another really cool experience. It was like 8:30 pm and we were just getting back to the church to pick up our car after going with Verduzco for the night, and there were two kids outside the church who looked like they were up to no good. They were dressed up and sneaking around the church. So we went up and started talking to them, and it turns out they were just sophomores in high school, and were waiting for their ride. It was a really cold night, so we invited them to sit in the car with us to warm up and chill with us (no pun intended haha!)  

Right then, another car pulled into the parking lot, and a woman ran into the church. About 5 minutes later, she came out and knocked on our car, and asked if we had seen a member of the stake presidency. We said no, and she was like oh ok, and we continued talking for a while to her. Then she asked if we wanted to go into the church, where it was warm - cuz she had a key. We said of course, and took the two guys into the church, and gave them a church tour. The sister who was there was super nice, about 30 or so, and actually started following us around and bearing great testimony about all the different things we were talking about!! It was so cool! She then invited all four of us to come over to her house for a lesson!! We were like “Wow - she is a great missionary!”  

By then it was about 9:25, and we had to be home by 9:30, so it got awkward because we didn’t want to kick them back out in the cold, nor did we want to leave them with the sister. But luckily the sister asked, "do you boys need a ride?" and they were like yea - that would be great!!  So she was able to take them home. But then it gets better. It turns out that Elder Nieves was on exchanges with the missionaries from this sister's ward, and they actually had dinner at her house the night before.  For their spiritual thought they challenged her and her husband to pray for missionary experiences. So that night after the missionaries left, they prayed for a missionary opportunity. The next night, she was running late on her way to the building, so before she left her house, she prayed that she could make it to the appointment on time to impress the stake presidency. She hit all green lights to the building. But it turns out that her appointment was actually the next day, and she had come on the wrong day. We could not believe all the things that came together! These boys are awesome, and we haven’t been able to set up an appointment with them and the sister, but we will this week. I want you guys to know that I have a FIRM testimony that this is God's work. He is directing us each way, and he is literally putting people in our path that are ready.
Elder Nieves breaking into our apartment

So the same night our tire popped we came home and somehow the bathroom door had accidentally been locked shut....annddd of course we could find the key to open it. Soooo Elder Nieves being the crazy kid he is, took the ladder outside, and propped it up on the wall and climbed up the house.  Luckily the window was open. But I’m not kidding you, it is probably about 1.5' x 2.5'....in other words the window is TINY!! So he had to shimmy his way in, and then fell into the bathtub. It was really funny just to hear it all from outside hahaha.

My chair, my ties, my shirts, and my shoes...
all on the ceiling!
And then the next day we were throwing away all of our candy, and Nieves is like a health freak now that we have the 90 day challenge, so Rivera and I actually took all the boxes of candy we had and the individually wrapped stuff we have, and put it all in his drawers and in his pillow and bed and everywhere where he won’t find them. We thought we were pretty funny, but then we came home
All my stuff hanging from the ceiling
that night and all my stuff was hanging from the ceiling…including my chair and stuff...and my desk was flipped upside down. So they got the last laugh!!  We were all laughing in the end so it was all good fun.

Well I am glad to hear that you guys are doing well back at home. I can’t believe that transfers are already here.  This transfer FLEW by!! I know that this is the Lords work, and that when we are obedient, we are yoked with him and the work is not only easier, but it is more fun. I hope to continue to have more joy in the work. I love you guys and appreciate all of your love and support!! I am so blessed to have such a great, wonderful, faithful family!!

Elder Richmandawg

As part of the prank on me, the other missionaries flipped over
my desk and put my stuff back on it
Two funny dogs looking at us through a door
Who needs cupboards when you have a nice dish drying rack

January 5, 2015 - HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Arachnids and an Accidental 4:00 am Wake-Up

January 5, 2015

Celebrating NYE with the Homies
Happy New Year guys!! I can't believe its 2015!! Like where did 2014 go???  Elder Rivera and Nieves and Steele and I had fun on the New Years Eve. We had to go home after our dinner appointment, so we actually all had dinner together.  They came to our appointment because they didn’t have dinner, and so that was lots of fun. Then we came home and lit off some fireworks we found that were in the garage under our house. And then we had a bottle of Martinelli’s that we decided to explode all over our bathroom instead of enjoy like normal people. And then we messed around until 10:30 when we went to bed. We were supposed to do our weekly planning then, but that didn’t get done haha.

This past week has been FREEZING. The highs were like 29 and 24 some days, and the mornings were like single digits. It was freezing. Apparently this week is supposed to warm up, so I hope that is right.

Orange smiles with Elder Nieves
(aka 4:00 am wake-up guy!)
So Elder Nieves has this really loud alarm that goes off every morning and kinda wakes us up, and then the other alarms we put away from my bed so I have to get up to turn it off. So the other day his alarm went off, and he got up and, like he often likes to do, he started doing dishes and all sorts of random crap like vacuuming and stuff.  So he got up and started doing dishes, (very loudly might I add!), and so I just happened to glance at my watch and it said 4:02 and so I was like "Yo dude, it’s freakin 4:00 in the morning, what are you doing???? and he looked at his clock and was like “Oh dang my bad, what the heck??” and so he turned off the water and the lights and everything, and climbed back into bed!! So thank goodness for my watch, or we probably would have showed up to the church building at 4 am and waited for everyone else to come until we realized it was freakin 4am. Missionary life....

The Lira's house BEFORE....
So I think that instead of being a missionary I should be a contractor...because this week we did a ton of service. We did a lot for the Lira family, who finally moved in this weekend! We basically installed a wood floor for them, and put the baseboard around the edges too. One of the Liras friends, Nester - who was kinda like their contractor, showed us how to do it, and then we basically went to work and did it ourselves, and then did the same thing with the baseboard around the edge. 
The Lira's house AFTER!!!  (With our new buddy, Nester)
More pics below.
And not gonna lie - it looks pretty dang good!  Nester is like one of the funniest guys I know, and we became really good friends. He would always brag about how good he is, like he would lay a piece that he cut perfectly and then be like "Sometimes I pray to God and ask him, ‘Why do you make me so good??’” He was hilarious. He would also talk about how fast I learned how to do all the equipment and lay the floor and stuff, and he would be like, “Me and Todd are good at this stuff, why do you guys all suck??”  He was really funny. 

My new girlfriend, Andrea - who is the
cutest little girl ever and speaks
Spanish 100x better than I do 
We also helped push this SUV up a huge hill that ran out of gas....Elder Rivera and I were exhausted afterwards!! One of my favorite parts of being a missionary is being able to pull over anytime there is someone with their flashers on and help them!! It is so fun to help people out, and many times they don’t need our help, but sometimes they do and they are super grateful for it. So that is a lot of fun.

We have realized this past week that we really need to focus on marriage with all of our investigators. Of the 5 main families we teach, 4 of them (the parents) are not even married!! So we are thinking that instead of baptisms, we are just going to set up weddings for everyone - haha! (Maybe instead of construction I should go into wedding planning!)  But seriously, we have been thinking about how we can get all these couples married.  It’s kind of an awkward thing for us to do...as like 20-year-olds, to tell these adults with families to get married. But we are praying that we can help them take that step of marriage, so then they can take the next step to baptism.

At one of the other missionary apartments,
the missionaries keep a pet BLACK WIDOW.
True story.
So apparently tomorrow our mission is going to start a mission-wide diet, which will entail no more candy, soda, unhealthy snacks, sugar cereals, basically everything that tastes good. And this will last 90 days. I am not sure the details, but we will find out tomorrow in our zone training. Sooooooo in other words, please don’t send me any more sweet stuff! Please postpone any thing until like April.  I will give you more details next week, but luckily we got a heads up because we are good friends with the Zone Leaders. So I have been pounding the candy and cereal you guys sent me, trying to eat and enjoy as much as possible while I can. Apparently we are also going to weigh-in before and after to see the difference. We will see how it goes...

Yes - mom....that's a tarantula on my shoulder.
I often wonder if I have actually learned any Spanish, or if I haven’t, because sometimes I don’t feel like I know a lot. But then when I think back to the Missionary Training Center in Mexico and remember my first day when I had to give a prayer.  I had to script it out and practice it before and everything, compared to now when I say ALL my prayers in Spanish and have even forgotten how to pray in English!  Whenever I am asked to give a prayer in English I often end up throwing in some Spanish words, and it’s truly harder than I imagined!! So when I think about that - then I realize that YES, I have actually learned some Spanish haha!!

Well I hope that you guys all had a great week and a Happy New Year!! I love and miss you guys and appreciate all of your support.


Elder Todd
Hilarious Nester showing off his muscles
before installing the Lira's new hardwood floor
Kitchen BEFORE....
Kitchen AFTER!
Light saber fight with Elder Guttierez...with some nice
photography skills to make them look like the real thing!!
(They are actually crayons)
New Years Eve decorations in our apartment
White New Years!!

Week 15 - Skyping the Fam on Christmas!!

December 29, 2014

It was so much fun to talk to you guys on Christmas!!!!! It really was. It was fun to see you all again, and see how you guys are doing!  

Playing Monopoly with the Span Ams on Christmas
The rest of the day was lots of fun. After I hung up we played monopoly for a little bit and then went to the party for the rest of the day. it was at the institute building on the UNR campus, and it was really fun. President was there and he is SUPER good at ping pong haha. And we watched the movie "courageous" which was a good movie. Then that's about it, we went home and called it a day. But thank you again for all of the gifts and Christmas candy and stuff, it was really a fun day!! and of course it was super fun to talk to you guys.

At the temple with Rivera and Eduardo
Saturday we were able to go to the temple and do baptisms!! One of the guys who we teach got baptized the weekend before we got transferred in, and so we got to take him with the rest of the youth in our ward up to the temple, and it was so much fun!!  Although nothing against the Reno temple, but our temple we have back at home in DC is like 100x bigger! The Reno temple is really small, but it is super new and nice. Rivera and I had the chance to do baptisms in Spanish.  It was super cool.  
With Elder Brush

We had Elder Brush, one of the ZLs (Zone Leaders), with us for a day, and he is super cool. He loves trucks and trailers and boats and so we already scheduled a hangout session when I get home. He is going to take me to Lake Powell. I told him we can take my boat, so please don't let me down and make sure we have a boat by the time I get home...........

Last night we had a GREAT lesson with Hector and Alissa, the couple who agreed to baptism. Rivera and I left and as soon as we were out of hearing range we started dancing and singing and making fools of ourselves because we were so excited for them!! The only problem is that we are going to pass them off to the English Elders...which is a downer because we want to teach them, but I know that this isn't Elder Todd’s mission, it is the Lords mission so he knows what’s best for them.

One thing that I have come to love is when I read my book of Mormon every morning, I often come across passages and verses that are highlighted, and they look like crap cuz I scribbled them and stuff, but the verses are great!! And it just made me so thankful that growing up you read the scriptures with me and had me highlight all the good stuff. So thank you guys for teaching me that and have me do that.

Well that's about all for this week! I am SO thankful for such a wonderful, supportive family that sends me tons (literally) of candy and gifts. You guys are the best!! I love and miss you guys!

Elder Todd

Family Christmas Picture!
Best Christmas present ever!!
My family sent me a little box of Legos...
a Lego SUV with jet-skis and trailer!
In the car with Elder Rivera and Elder Brush
Did I mention we had LOTS of candy???

Christmas Day Missionary Party
Got to see my MTC Homie Sister Pearson at the Christmas party!
My desk with all my stuff
Chef Elder Todd making eggs, sausage,
and muffins on Christmas morning

Week 14 - Feliz Navidad!

Cereal galore!!!! (The 5th Day of Christmas) 
Thanks MOM!!!
December 22, 2014
Feliz Navidad!!

I cannot believe Christmas is THIS week!! I feel like I was just talking to you guys when I was at the airport in October!! But I am excited to talk to you guys!! This was another great week. We had more success this week than last week, which isn’t saying much but we had a great week!

On exchanges with Elder Guttierez
Because Rivera is the district leader, he has to go on exchanges with every elder in our district, which means I get to go on exchanges too! This week we did three exchanges, and so I spent a day with each of these Elders: Hortal, Gutierrez, and Choi!  It was fun because I stayed in our "home" area and those guys came over with me.  It was cool because then I got to show them and teach them about our investigators and I was like the leader for those days! Thankfully all of those guys speak Spanish so that wasn’t an issue, but Exchange days are like miracle days as Rivera says. I used to hate exchanges, but I have come to love them! We had so much success on exchange days.

with Elder Hortal
Elder Hortal and I had a GREAT lesson with Juan and Laura. Our lesson material was actually all over the place, and it didn’t go as we planned, but that to me was just a testimony that we were being led by the Spirit, because we were jumping all over the place!  At the end Juan was telling us how he has friends that are Jehovah’s Witnesses and how he feels something completely different when he is with us, and how he trusts us and has confidence in us. Laura backed him up and was like, “yes – ever since you guys knocked on our door, he has had this ‘thirst for Christ,’” as she said. I could barely believe my ears because I've heard so many people tell me that investigators will feel the Spirit but not know what it is – they will just know that it is a different feeling.  I didn’t believe it, but now I have seen it come true and it is wonderful. We had a comeback appointment set with them, but then she called and canceled cuz she was sick...which she was...her voice sounded terrible over the phone...which was disappointing that they canceled but we are still super excited about them.

Flat tires on the streets and on the roofs!
For one of the days that Rivera and I were together, we were having just the worst luck and NOBODY that we went to see was home!  But then we were driving around and we passed a girl with a flat tire, so we went back and helped her change it.  (Actually, we did all the work haha!)  She told us we could come back sometime and talk to her family, so that was fun. And then we were driving along and Rivera said like a few different times "Man, I feel like there is someone else with a flat tire that needs our help!" and I was like yea maybe we will find them! So we just went on with our day, and sure enough – like 2 hours later, we came across ANOTHER person with a flat tire, and we were able to help them change it too!!  Both people we helped were Hispanic people, which was super fun!!  I got to grow more of my mechanic vocabulary. And it was so cool to see that Elder Rivera was right!!  Of course it is fun to change tires...I'm glad Dad taught me how to!!!

Came home one day and had FIVE
packages stacked up on my desk!
Well that’s all I have for right now!! You guys are the best. The other three elders that I live with love it when I get packages cuz there is usually something in there for them!! The others have all gotten like one or two packages and I have gotten like 10 or so haha. But it’s all lots of fun. I can’t wait to talk to you guys on Christmas!!!

Elder Todd

More treats from the 12 Days of Christmas!!
On exchanges with Elder Choi
More 12 Days of Christmas PRESENTS!!!!