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!!

Elder Todd

Ridin' bikes around Sun Valley....

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

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