Week 24 - We got a baptism…WOOHOOOO!


With Juan and Laura right before their baptism!

March 2, 2015
Hello all!!!

What in the heck??
We woke up to find SNOW on the day of the baptism!
Well – we had an excellent week, although I have some mixed emotions now as transfers just ended. The highlight of the week was of course Saturday, when Juan and Laura were baptized. It was such a wonderful service!!! We woke up Saturday morning, and the ground was WHITE!!! We received freakin snow!! It was crazy. We couldn’t believe it!  We thought that winter had come and gone already. And not only that, but it continued to snow ALL day long...until about 6 pm. Thankfully, nothing stuck to the roads, and really nothing stuck at all, so there was no trouble there. It sure made for a pretty day, though!!

Juan and Laura and their son, Adrian just before the baptism
But the service started at 2:00, so we actually had lunch with a member (another crazy experience...) and then around 1:00 Elder Short and I headed over to the stake center, which has the font. The font was already filled from an earlier baptism; we just topped it off with some hot water, and got everything ready. Juan and Laura showed up at like 1:45, and Laura was just bawling!!  They were both nervous wrecks...and I thought I was nervous!! I was super nervous, because I had the unique opportunity to baptize both of them, so I wanted to be able to say the prayer in Spanish perfectly along with their names and stuff. But we got them suited up in their whites and after a million and a half pictures, the service started. Verduzco gave a talk on Baptism, and then we did the actual baptism!! It was wonderful...and only took one try each haha!! The first thing that Juan
With Juan and Laura and Adrian
in front of the baptismal font
said to me when we were walking back up the font stairs, was "Soy pesado, verdad?" which means "I’m pretty heavy, huh?" I just cracked up. While I was changing I did a little dance, and just like I was smiling like an idiot after they told me that they were ready for baptism, I was smiling like an even bigger idiot in the changing room.

We then went to the Sun Valley chapel afterwards, where we had a big feast, with tons of delicious Mexican food. It was a wonderful day.

Juan and Laura with two awesome families from the
Spanish group:  The Woodburys (on the left)
and the Nobles (on the right).
The next day in Sacrament meeting, I had the opportunity to confirm them both, which was cool because it was the first time I had ever confirmed anyone...and it was in Spanish!! So again I was super nervous. But everything turned out great, as it always does. Then Juan and Laura both got up and bore spectacular testimonies about everything, and their experience with Elder Short and I. It was a great meeting.

After Sacrament we always have a meeting with Brother Noble, where we discuss the needs of our group, and our
The text from President Hermansen asking me to
be a Zone Leader, and telling me I'll be moving
to a new area....English-Speaking :(
investigators and such. And it was in that meeting when I got a text from President, asking me to be a Zone Leader. Elder Johnson got a text in the same meeting. So then all heck broke loose, because I realized that I was being transferred, and I didn’t want to!!!! I am so sad. I was hoping that maybe I could stay in the area, and another ZL who speaks Spanish comes with me to my area, and we become the ZL area. But nope, I am going to RENO. I will be in the Cold Springs ward in the Reno North Stake, which is part of the Reno North Zone.  It’s the biggest zone in the mission with over 40 missionaries....so we will see how that all turns out.

My three favorite Mexican homies
But honestly, I am so sad to leave my area. I feel like I have finally gotten my roots down, and  Elder Short and I have worked hard to build up what is really one of the best areas in the zone now. We have about 7 or 8 people who are ready to be baptized this next transfer, and so I really thought that I was going to stay in my area and finish training Elder Short for at LEAST one transfer. I love the little group.

Once Brother Noble found out I was being transferred, he opened up to me and was telling me how he is sad to see us go, because we were doing great work. Yesterday at church we had 48 people, which is a record since I have been here, and
The wonderful Noble family with the four of us
Spanish missionaries
we didn’t even have two families there...so there is no doubt in my mind that we can be a branch in no time. Noble told us he thinks it will happen by the end of 2015, I think it will be sooner. We have the numbers now. It brought tears to my eyes to just think about how awesome that would be, to see our group grow into a branch and then grow into a ward. I truly have developed a deep love for the people here, and I am going to miss them! In the meeting before I got the text, I told Bro. Noble that I wanted to plan an EQ activity for the Spanish Elders, because truly we have become a tight-knit group, something fun like a basketball night or a BBQ or something. I have seen the group grow in both number and in unity. The group is all friends, all the members joke around with each other and stay around after sacrament to mingle and stuff. It has truly been a fun experience.

Short and I excited for the BAPTISM!!
I'm gonna miss this guy.  He is awesome.
I am also going to miss Elder Short. He is awesome. He is also very funny. One of the funniest things about him, is that he gets really tired around 7:30-8 every night, and because he is still kinda struggling with the Spanish, the lessons kinda lull him to sleep. So he has actually fallen asleep in a few lessons, and the funniest was when he fell asleep in Spanish Priesthood...and then all the other members started talking pictures!!! He has gotten the nickname "dormion" which means like Sleeper in Spanish. Actually I think the very funniest experience was when we were in a lesson with Walfer and Rosa, and Walfer is like the funniest person ever, and Elder Short was just in and out of consciousness, and so at the end of the lesson, Walfer asked Elder Short to pray, and he agreed, so we all kneel down, and Elder Short closes his eyes, and just sits there, and drifts off to sleep, because he started to lean forward. And then after like 30 seconds, he looks up at us, and we are all staring at him, and he goes "Oh you want me to say it?" and the rest of us just lost it. He is a good sport about it, because every member and a lot of the investigators make fun of him and are always like "good job, you didn’t fall asleep!" Hahaha it’s always fun. Oh and guess who Elder Short’s new companion is....Elder Han!!!!  Elder Han was in my scout group back in Virginia a few years ago…before he moved to Utah – so we go way back.  Isn’t that awesome??!!!

All the Span-Ams in the zone
Well, in regards to missionary work last week, we had another solid week to end the transfer. We had 6 people at church yesterday, not including Juan and Laura. Veronica and her family came, along with Walfer and Rosa and their kids. I also had three cool experiences when we were driving, and we didn’t have any set appointments, but the Holy Ghost put a thought into my head of someone we needed to go see, and all three times it worked out. One of the times the person I thought we should go see didn’t answer, but their neighbor was outside, so we talked to them and they became new investigators for us. And then we went to the other neighbor and did some service for them, and they became a golden referral for the white people Elders. It was cool to see the Holy Ghost guide us and lead us to find those that were ready at that time.

Juan and Laura in front of the font.
I have a powerful testimony about prayer. As missionaries we pray like 30x a day, and I know that because of those prayers, we are guided by the Holy Ghost. I also know that at the beginning of our transfer, the first night Short and I had together, we set a goal to have 2 baptisms this transfer. At the time, NObody was making progress, or coming to church. We set that goal, prayed about it, and then went to work doing everything possible to achieve it. Our prayers were answered. Yesterday we fasted so that we can have 4 baptisms this next transfer, and we were going to work like crazy to achieve that goal too. Obviously, things changed so I will be in a totally different area. But I prayed and fasted many times that Juan and Laura could receive answers, and they did. Juan and Laura prayed all the time so they could know, and they did. I know that when we need help, or we have a righteous goal, and we pray about it, and then we do everything that we can do on our part, the Lord will provide and our goals will be reached, and our prayers will be answered.

Super cute two-day-old puppy
I want to leave you guys with one last really powerful spiritual experience I had. On one of those experiences where the Holy Ghost prompted me to go to an investigators house, we went and she let us in and we were teaching. And right after the opening prayer, her dog walked into the living room, and turned its back to us, and squatted down and pooped right in front of us. The little grandma that we were teaching got all mad and upset, and Short and I just about fell out of our chairs laughing. Then the even funnier part was like 30 seconds later when the stench hit us, and the grandma cussed in Spanish and then covered her nose. Meanwhile her teenage grandkids were trying to clean it up.  Not exactly a spiritual experience, but a funny one that I will probably always remember.

Well, wish me luck as I embark on a new adventure tomorrow as a ZL....in an English area!!!:( I am sad and quite frustrated, but the Lord knows better than we do, and as always, I am sure things will turn out great.

I love you guys!!! Thank you for all the letters and funny little packages, they are awesome!!! I about fell out of my chair laughing when I opened all the paper airplanes from Nathan and James Man Dawg.

Well talk to you guys next week!!

Elder Todd

PS – please send all letters to the mission office, until next week when I can confirm that my new address is correct and everything.

With the other district leaders

Other mission friends

Snow on the day of the baptism

Me and my boy Elder Nieves

With Juan and Laura before the baptism 



Week 23 - We’re Gonna have a Baptism!

 
Visiting the Reno Temple with Juan and Laura

February 23, 2015
Hello everyone!!!

We've had AMAZING weather in Reno this winter...
can't tell if it's February or April!
Well we had another GREAT week here in Sun Valley, NV. The weather has been gorgeous...all the trees and greenery are starting to pop out, and I have been putting away most of my long-sleeve shirts!! Its been great. We also have been spending more time on our bikes, and less time in our car, which is SO much more fun. It gives us the chance to talk with EVERYONE we come across, which isn’t really possible when we are in the car..(Or it is, but we just become 100x more creepy...)

Juan and Laura in front of the Reno Temple...
they can be sealed there in one year + one week
So, like the subject line says, we are GOING TO HAVE A BAPTISM THIS SATURDAY. We are so excited. We had a great week with Juan and Laura, and we have seen them like 5 out of 7 days this week. We had another long lesson with them on Wednesday, and we had taught them everything possible, so now we are just reviewing the basics. We had Sister Noble with us, and she is a perfect ward missionary. She is a convert to the church, and so she was able to bear her testimony to them, which was super powerful. But at the end of the lesson, Juan was still uneasy about being baptized so soon. Back in January when we originally set the date of February 28th, they didn't tell us, but once we left, they were talking together and said, NO WAY would they get baptized on Feb. 28…MAYBE in like a year.  But then a few weeks later Laura was on board.  She wanted to wait until Juan was on board so they could get baptized as a couple. So we were basically waiting on Juan, and on Wednesday afternoon, he still didn’t feel ready.

In our lesson, I was pretty bold with him and told him to just forget his fears and his doubts, and just do it.  Hermana Noble did the same thing, and bore her testimony of how she overcame her fear and just did it. Juan and Laura invited us missionaries and the whole Noble family over for dinner, and our original dinner actually had canceled on us that day, so it worked out perfectly. We had dinner, but by the end, still nothing from Juan. We had planned to go to the temple with them the next day (Thursday), so we said good-bye and left for the rest of the evening. When I left that lesson, I was honestly having a little bit of doubt, thinking that maybe Juan wouldn't be ready and we would have to push the date back or something, which is something I desperately did not want to do. I decided that I needed to fast again for them (which we had done last Sunday also) so Thursday morning and afternoon I fasted for them.

At the temple with Juan and Elder Short
Thursday afternoon we met at their house to drive with them to the temple, so we showed up and hopped in the car, and Laura goes "So we have some good news" And I immediately knew what it was. And after a few minutes of joking around that they had maybe bought us a new car or something, Juan admitted that he knew that the 28 of February was the right day for him!!!! Elder Short and I were ecstatic!!!! I asked him how he came to know, and he said that Wednesday night he just couldn’t sleep, and all he was thinking about was the church, and baptism and everything. He said that he prayed a lot that night, and finally fell asleep at like 6:30 and woke up three hours later at 9:30. He said that when he woke up that morning, he knew without a doubt that it was right, and that the 28th of February was right for them. I couldn’t stop grinning in the back seat haha. I looked like an idiot, but I couldn’t be happier!! We spent the rest of the car ride planning the baptism service and everything. It was a great experience. We then had a great time walking around the grounds of the temple, which it turns out Juan actually helped pave when the temple was built, but the Spirit was so strong, and Laura was telling Juan that they need to buy a house closer to the temple so they can come EVERY day and walk to it haha.

The 4 of us in the Spanish "Groupito"
They passed their baptismal interview, so we announced their baptism yesterday in church, and I actually think that there will be a GREAT turnout. Everyone in the little group said they will come, along with lots of the English ward. Last night we had a little fireside in Spanish "Porque Creo yo" which means “Why I Believe.” We had a few members of the church go up and share their testimonies and their conversion experience. It was for all of the Spanish members in all of Reno, Sparks and Sun Valley. We had a great turnout, and the Spirit was SUPER strong. We had refreshments afterwards, and Juan and Laura got to mingling, and word got around that they were being baptized this Saturday, and so now we have a lot of the Sparks Spanish members coming, too!! Juan and Laura were so excited and so happy to hear that people were coming, but I love what Juan said: "We can invite people, but I don’t care if anyone comes, I am just ready to make this deal with Heavenly Father, and to become a member. That’s what is most important." I was like YES!  Exactly haha!! But we are excited. I can already see him becoming a Bishop of the ward here in Sun Valley. We are so excited for them.

With Elder Flake
So I had the opportunity to go on exchanges a few times this week, with Elder Flake, who is in my district and who is going home next week (this transfer is almost over...we get transfer calls next Sunday...I am hoping and praying that I can stay here in this area for at LEAST one more).  But we had a great day together. He is a great missionary. I also got to spend a day with Elder Freeman, who is one of our Zone Leaders. He is a lot of fun, and we had fun together. I learned so much from both of those Elders. I have really
With Elder Freeman
grown to love exchanges, because it gives us the chance to learn from other missionaries! Neither of them knew any Spanish, so they just basically sat there and listened during the lessons, but thankfully Hermano Verduzco was able to come out with us for a few of them, so it was me and him teaching the lessons, instead of me and my real missionary companion. Which actually works out good.  Even when I am with Elder Short, Verduzco is so solid, and gives great testimonies about any subject we are teaching. He is also very personable and gets along with anyone!

The whole awesome Todd family from a few years back...
we've added three cousins since then!
But this week in my scripture studies I was reading in the Book of Mormon - Helaman Chapter 5, and I came across verse 6 and I just thought I could relate it to myself! Cuz Helaman names his sons Nephi and Lehi, so that they can remember what great people "their first parents were" and use that to motivate them. I can relate that to myself because I wear the name "Todd" on my chest everyday. And I also represent the Cannon's too, and I am so blessed to have such a great, awesome family –
Cannon Family at my Uncle Chad and Aunt Sarah's 
wedding in 2012. We've added two cousins 
on this side of the family also.
both Cannon and Todd, and truly those names and those people motivate me. I want to live up to both the Cannons and the Todds, and when I think about the names and the people, and I see the pictures on my desk and on my family calendar, it truly motivates me to work harder, to strive to be the best missionary I can be. So thank you all for being such great examples to me.

I know that when we read the scriptures, and study them out in our minds, and then apply them to our lives, we can truly grow and become more Christ-like. But we have to actually apply them and do what they say, otherwise it’s just like if you grab the iron rod but don't walk forward....you can still be in the darkness.

I love you guys! Thanks for all your love and support.

Love,
Elder Todd

Me and Verduzco

Exchanges with Elder Katoa

Me and Elder Freeman

With Elder Choi and Verduzco

I thought this would be the perfect car for my little bro,
Nathan-Dawg...it has rubber duckies and figurines
super-glued all over it.



Week 22 - Mission Life = Good Life

Me and my awesome companion, Elder SHORT!!
He rocks it.

February 16, 2015
Hello All!!!

My new cousin, Eliza!!
Born on Valentine's Day
First of all, a Shout Out to my Aunt and Uncle - Chase and Abby Cannon and congrats on their new baby Eliza!! That is super exciting. I can’t wait to meet her.

Life here in Sun Valley/Sparks is going great. Elder Short is awesome. He is a great missionary and an awesome companion. We get along really well, and have a lot of fun, too!!

We didn’t have another increase in church attendance this week, but that’s ok because the work is still progressing. Juan and Laura and Adrian were the only ones at church yesterday, but they are doing wonderful! They are basically like members; they participate in all the classes more than most of the members. We had dinner with them on Wednesday night, and they invited the other two Spanish Elders over from the group, and Elder Rivera drove over with his new companion and Hermano Verduzco. It was basically like a party haha, but we kicked the other elders out afterwards and had the most spiritual lesson I’ve ever had with them. Verduzco stayed with us, and we are basically a trio with him because he
Me and Verduzco at Costa Vida for his b-day
comes out with us a lot, and he is so much fun to have. (BTW he said to tell you "muchisimas gracias" for the lunch...we went to Costa Vida (Cafe Rio's twin) and that was fun. He also loved the birthday card you guys sent him.) 

But anyways, so it was Verduzco and Juan and Laura and Short and I. We started with a prayer, like always, and we taught about the Plan of Salvation. (Lesson 2 from Preach my gospel). Sister Noble told us that last Sunday they were super interested and intrigued by the spirit world and how people can be together forever after this life (the lesson in gospel principles was about eternal marriage), so we decided to focus our lesson on that. So when we got to that part, we
My little sister, Grace ("Goose") - 2nd from left.
Going to the Washington DC temple for the first time
with the church youth group. We believe that temples
make it possible for families to be together forever. 
spent a lot of time talking about how everyone who has lived on the earth is up there waiting for us, and many are receiving the gospel through missionaries up there. They were just eating it up, and I felt prompted to bring up temple work and how we can be baptized for the dead, which is usually a topic that goes over most people’s heads, but they loved it all! I got very emotional when I described to them how happy the day will be when we can go up into heaven and embrace those we were baptized for, some of which are waiting hundreds of years! It was the first time that I got really emotional while I was teaching someone. (BTW congrats on going to the temple, Goose!!! That’s awesome!!!)  

We talked about how there is a temple like 15 minutes away, and what we do in the temple, and I pulled out the photo book and showed them the baptismal font and stuff. And then Verduzco pulled up Family Search.org on his iPad and was showing them how he has been working on his genealogy, and how he can be baptized for his ancestors.  (He is a convert to the church.) Juan and Laura just couldn’t get enough, it was great! We finished and talked about the three kingdoms of glory, and they obviously expressed their desire to live in the celestial kingdom.

Verduzco's b-day lunch - with Elder Short
Now up until this point, they had agreed to baptism, but were not exactly sure about the 28th of February. They knew it was what they wanted, but they felt like the 28th was a little too soon. But Elder Short pulled Mosiah 18:10 out of the blue, and shared it with them, and it was exactly what they needed to hear. Especially Laura…it was like a light bulb went off in her head, she just like jumped up and was like (in English translation) "wow, that is exactly what I needed to hear!! I want to get baptized right now! And I want to shout it to the world!" I was so excited when she said that. So was Verduzco. Elder Short didn’t understand it all, but when I explained what she just said, he too was so happy!! Juan was really amazed at how Elder Short just pulled that scripture from his head, and didn’t have to look for it or anything. It had a powerful impact on both of them. We wrapped up the lesson, and they were just happy as can be. I still sensed a little hesitation from Juan, but he was happy, and we invited Laura to end with a prayer. Halfway through the prayer Laura got all choked up, which made all of us get choked up, and at the end of the prayer, there were no dry eyes in the room! It was a powerful lesson. Laura told us that she had never felt the Holy Ghost so strong in her life.

We came back two days later for another lesson, and we talked about prophets and the law of tithing and the Ten Commandments. They accepted all of it, and were all gung-ho, but Juan expressed to us that he still doesn’t feel quite ready, and that he feels like he still has a lot to learn. I have been thinking a lot about this, and I think it is because every time we have gone over there for the past 2 weeks we have taught them new stuff, and so I think he feels overwhelmed and that every time we come we give him some new commandment like the Word of Wisdom or the law of chastity. But thankfully we have taught them everything there is to teach them before baptism, so hopefully the next few lessons we can just review and help him feel ready. We have been fasting and praying on their behalf specifically.

We also took them to a baptism on Saturday, which they loved and was good for them to see what exactly the baptismal services entail and stuff.  It was cool because I got to interview the guy who was baptized last Monday, so I was excited to go and support him. Baptismal interviews are a really cool and spiritual experience, and I hope that I will be able to do more of them in the future! (DLs interview the people that the missionaries are teaching in their district, and the ZLs interview the DL's investigators.)  The guy was actually being taught by the assistants, but we lived close to them, so they chose me to interview. It was a lot of fun!

Well this week in my studies I have been reading in the Book of Mormon - the end of Alma, with the stripling warriors and all that good stuff. And obviously, as you guys know, obedience has been a big focus for me. Wednesday we had zone conference and President Hermansen gave a training about obedience, and he had a quote that I really liked, it was "As soon as obedience becomes a goal, it no longer is a burden."  Because many missionaries look for all the loopholes to listen to certain songs, or to do certain little things, but really that’s not the goal. We have two years to serve the Lord, and what he really wants is to give up ALL of our desires, and just turn our will completely over to him. That means not trying to be right on the edge of the obedience, but just striving for complete, exact obedience. So anyways, I was reading in Alma chapter 57, and I came across verse 21 and I just loved it!  Especially cuz Mom always taught me and always was such a great example to me of being exactly obedient to ALL of Heavenly Father's commandments. As missionaries, we have even more standards to obey, but really they only help us have more success, instead of restricting us. I am SO grateful for the example that both my parents, as well as all of my extended family have set for me by following ALL of Heavenly Father's commandments, especially you Mom! I KNOW that the Lord blesses those who follow his commandments with exactness. I also know that he has given us his commandments to help us grow and be happier.

Well that’s really all I have for today! Thank you guys for all of your love and support, I love you guys!!

Love,
Elder Todd

video
Ridin' bikes around Sun Valley....

My new favorite breakfast - sausage and eggs
One more pic of Baby Eliza