Week 28 - Birthday Week

Birthday Banner sent from friends and family!!
March 30, 2015
Hey guys!!

Thank you all so much for the birthday banner and all the little letters with the notes, it was really a fun surprise to get a bunch of little notes from everyone. I have the best family ever!!! (And thank you, Mom, because I know it was probably all most all of your doing!!) I am super excited to use my new Quad for scriptures!!! It is awesome!!

Verduzco took us to dinner on Saturday
My birthday was actually great!! We had 4 investigators at church, including a Mom and her 9 year old daughter her came for the first time!! Her name is Candace. I'm sure you will hear more about her…she is very interested in the church, but she has two twin 2-year-olds who keep her busy. Our church starts at 11:00, which is right during their nap, and yesterday we stopped by her place after church, and she said that she didn't want to come back again because it was too hard on her with the kids. So we will keep praying that she will be able to come back again. It was awesome. We also had a ton of less active members that we have been working with, and so it was a great day. We got to teach the 3rd hour lesson about missionary work and we feel that it went pretty good. I forwarded the little handout we made and went over that with everyone and had them practice with their neighbors. It was actually a lot of fun.

I also discovered a new workout this week...wood-chopping. MAN it gets tiring after a while. We chopped wood for like 3 hours on Saturday morning for a less active member and this man had SO much wood. He had a wood splitter too, but Elder Klingensmith and I were just using axes and sledgehammers and all that good stuff and man I was just exhausted afterwards. And my hands are still super sore from it all too. But it was fun. I also got unlucky because one of the mornings I did the workout with 5 Pull-ups and 10 pushups and 15 squats for 15 rounds...and it was the first time I have done squats in like almost a year...and then the next day we walked probably the most I have on my whole mission. So I was hobbling around like an old man for a few days, it was pretty bad haha.

Driving to Quincy, CA
(California is a lot prettier than Nevada)
But this past week we were able to drive up to Greenville, California and have dinner with the Quincy Stake President. The drive was like 2.5 hours, but it was actually a lot of fun. And President Meyers lives on this awesome ranch...and I think I found what I want to do with my life. President Meyers builds custom homes for a living, and most of his work is building lake houses for the lakes up there in Northern California. And then they have a ranch with like 400 acres of land and a bunch of cattle and stuff. It is classified as a "Hobby Ranch" because it is big enough where they don’t have to hire help, but it definitely keeps them busy. They bought an old ranch house that was built in 1860, but remodeled it and everything. It just seems like
Stake President's Farm
the funniest thing ever. They live in the middle of nowhere, but I think it would be so fun to have a ranch like that and build houses for a living.

Things in Cold Springs are going well. We are just trying to build our teaching pool, and have been spending lots of time out and about and trying to find new investigators. So far not too much has come from it, but we are going to stay diligent.

Stake President's Barn
One funny thing that happened this week was that one morning while we were doing our studies we looked out the window and saw a bunch of people outside in the street - which is really uncommon, because nobody is ever on our street, it is pretty desolate. But we looked out and immediately identified them as Jehovah's Witnesses. And sure enough, we watched one of them come up and knock on our door. We answered it, and immediately he was like "Ohhhhh...uhhhhh" and it was funny cuz he seemed kinda scared of us. But he handed us some little pamphlet thing, and then we of course turned around and offered him a Book of Mormon. He declined, and then we offered to say a prayer with him, and he turned that down too. He was not too excited to see that it was us, and wanted to leave ASAP. We were surprised that he didn’t want to bash with us, because most JWs that I have run into always start bashing with us. But we got a kick out of that. I sent a little video clip as well.

Well that’s about it for this week!! Thanks again for all of the birthday cards and the banner, that was so much fun!!!

I love you guys, hope you have fun in Rosemary Beach!!

Elder Todd

Verduzco and Me
Stake President's Farm
More pics from the drive to Quincy, CA

Week 27 - Happy Spring!!

With Elder Young
March 23, 2015
Hello everyone,

How is it going??? The mission here is awesome. I am really starting to love Cold Springs, and the people in it. And Happy Spring!! I can’t believe spring is already here!! I can definitely say that I meet lots of cool and interesting people here, every day!! Many of the people we meet have cool stories or are into cool things, and I really enjoy getting to know all of them!

We had a more normal week, with less crazy stuff going on. Because we are the Zone Leaders, we get to go on exchanges with the Assistants to the President, and so we had Elder Young with us! It was honestly so much fun, probably one of my most favorite exchanges. Elder Young was my Zone Leader for one of my transfers back in Sun Valley, and he served in the Redhills Ward – just in English instead of Spanish. But he is the most bold and confident missionary that I have ever met. He truly "fears no man." I am so grateful that I got to spend a day with him, and learn from him. He has a cool story, because he joined the church as an 8-year old, but went inactive until he was 20 years old and in college. And he tells his story like this: "Well, I was a sophomore in college at Arizona State University, and after crashing on my long board, I decided to reactivate myself instead of join a frat." He is from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania and he says that the reason he choose to go to ASU was because he Googled "hottest girls at college" and ASU was the rated number one at the time, so he applied and got in...hahaha...I thought that was pretty funny.

Elder Kingensmith and me
It just so happened on that day that we went with him, we ran into two random guys, and before we could get anything out of our mouths, both guys started bashing us. It has been a while since I have been bashed, so I was taken back by it, but by the end, I could barely hold in my laughter. These guys just LOVED to fight, and they were all very well-versed in the Bible, so they were like "do you know what this word means in the book of Corinthians?" and it was some long word I can’t even remember, and then all three of us were like, nooo we don't. And he was going off like "Wow you guys are trying to preach the word of God, and you don't even know what they all mean!" And all this stuff. My goal was just to "Kill 'em with Kindness" and bear a short testimony and get the HECK out of there. Because it was obvious they were not interested. Thankfully, both Elder Young and Klingensmith were very well versed in the Bible, so they kinda started to bible bash, and when that happened I just started slowly walking away, because these guys wouldn’t even let us tell a two-sentence testimony without throwing their two cents in. It truly was incredible and after each guy I couldn't help but laugh because of how ridiculous they were! Gotta love missionary life.

So this Sunday, (the 5th Sunday of the month) the Bishop brought up the idea to us of having the lesson be about Missionary work. We of course were like "heck yeah!!" and so we put our heads together, and came up with a few ideas of how members can do missionary work. We put them together on a worksheet and gave it to the Bishop. He loved the idea, so we are going to give a training to our ward this next Sunday on how to be member-missionaries! I will forward you the worksheet we came up with. But if you have any ideas, please shoot me a quick letter with them in it this week, so I can use them for this weekend. We are pretty excited about it, especially because we can tie it in with the "April Showers of Miracles" program that we are going to roll-out.

So a little bit about the people we are working with...we are supposed to have a baptism this weekend, but the man had an eye procedure this weekend and couldn't come to church, so we are going to postpone it at least a week. This guy is one of the old classic American Cowboys. He has a ranch with like 5 horses, drives a huge pick-up truck, and wears cowboy boots everywhere he goes. I love spending time with him, because he always has so many funny stories to tell. His wife is a less-active member, returning to church with him. We are excited for him. We have been able to do a lot of service for him, and spend some time with him. 3 years ago he got into a terrible accident, and was smashed into a semi truck by three cars going 70 mph each...(long story...) so he has poor memory and his brain is older than he is, but he is still quite healthy. He works out on his ranch and does more than he should, but that's what I love about him...he is just one of those classic hard-workers. We are excited about him...I will try and send pictures of him next week.

Hey look - a tree!
(There are like no trees in our area at all haha)
Well that's about it!! Life is good here in Cold Springs…can’t complain. I am so grateful for this gospel and the joy that it brings to our lives. I know that as we read the scriptures and pray daily, and attend church every Sunday, the Lord will bless us 10x over. Those three things really are the key. Almost every less-active person we talk to will come up with some excuse as to why they don't come to church anymore, like they were offended, or got a dirty look from a member...but when it comes down to it, the real reason they are having a struggling testimony is because they are lacking in one or two or all of those things (reading scriptures, praying daily, and going to church). I remember having multiple talks with Dad about this, and how even when people have doubts or concerns, as long as they stick to those basics, they will easily overcome whatever doubts or concerns they have. I am so grateful that I have two parents who do just that, and who taught me to do the same. I will be forever grateful for that!

Well that's about all this week. Sounds like you guys are having another snowy winter back there, but hopefully you can have fun at Rosemary Beach!! (but not too much fun without me...)

I love you guys!!

Elder Richmandawg

Week 26 - I Love the Mission!!

Katy Perry Remix - Missionary Style!

March 16, 2015
Hello folks!!

How is life back at home??  I died hearing that MJ got Friday school detention for messing with the RISE pictures...what a great prank!!!! Go MJ!!  

Life here in Cold Springs, NV is going well!! I am finally starting to get the hang of life as an English missionary, and dealing with white people problems. But we really do have a great ward, and I am excited about the direction we are heading.

Cold Springs has had really good missionaries in it for a long time.  So because of that, there have been quite a few baptisms in the past year…like 20 or so, so
Cold Springs and White Lake = my area
our te
aching pool is almost non-existent. So finding has been our focus, and we have been fasting and praying specifically that we can find a family of 4 this month, who will be ready for baptism next month. We have been working hard to find them!! We are doing a mission-wide thing for April that we are excited about called "April Showers of Miracles" which is actually a program that Sister Stevenson had, and she and her companion shared with the rest of us at MLC. (Sister Stevenson is an awesome missionary btw #LeesburgRepresent!).

But, basically during the month of April we are going to have a 40-Family fast for missionary work in the ward. So each day, a family will fast for missionary work, and then we will end their fast with them when we go over for dinner. It’s kind of a play on Christ's 40-day fast, but with 40 families. So one family each day, plus ten more because there are only 30 days in April. We then filled out our own goal sheet and set some goals for us as missionaries.  I will take a picture of our goal sheet and the calendar and send them next week. But basically it’s just a program to get the whole ward and the whole mission involved and excited about missionary work. Also, every Monday night at 7pm wherever everyone is, they are going to stop and say a prayer specifically for missionary work. Isn’t this just a great idea???? Klingensmith and I introduced it to our bishop the other day, and he was quite excited about it.

Spending a day in Quincy, CA
with Elder Hawkes and Elder Krey
So I had the opportunity to go spend a day in Quincy, California with Elder Krey and Elder Hawkes!! Elder Krey is one of our district leaders, and they are both awesome missionaries!! I love Quincy, too! It is a tiny town in the mountains of northern CA, and it feels like VA plus some mountains, because there were actually trees!!! I honestly walked outside expecting it to be humid like back home!! But we had a great time; they are two studs and I hope I can serve with them again in the future. The only thing that stinks about their area is that they are about 45 minutes away from any other missionaries! So I got the feeling they wished they were closer into town with the rest of us. While I was there, I met a member who grew up in HERSHEY, PA!!! Talk about a small world, he was pretty cool and excited to find someone else who knows the area. He was in the Lebanon Ward, but he went to stake conference in the Hershey theatre, too!! His name is Brother Walmer.

One member who is a recent convert, and was baptized here a few months ago is a ski-boat mechanic!! So we were instantly best friends, and we started talking about the different boat companies and which is the best and stuff. As part of his job, after he fixes up the boats, he has to go and test them, so he gets to drive all sorts of ski boats for fun as he "tests them." He offered to take us out one day, but the missionary white hand book says we cant :( haha!  (BTW Dad, he recommends ski Natique or Malibu boats...so start looking!! Just kidding, those are the most expensive ones!)

So Dad, just to answer a few of your questions:

My new companion is great. He is a workhorse. He will be going home next month - and he openly admits that he is starting to get a little trunky, but we are working hard, especially to find new investigators. And no worries, I will make sure he finishes through the finish line. He is from Minnesota, and he's a Vikings fan! He was a mechanic before his mission (he is 22) and he knows everything there is to know about cars.

And yes, President Hermansen has us do lots of little things, like last Saturday we had a mini-mission here in the Reno North stake, and the stake asked for two missionaries to come and teach the mini-missionaries how to use Preach my Gospel.  So he assigned us to go down to the stake center for what was supposed to be like 15-20 minute training, but turned into like an hour-long thing. The stake center is 30 minutes away, so we end up driving lots in the car (thanks again for the ipod....MoTab is great and all but it gets old after a while...).

President also had us arrange all the mini-missionaries into a companionships and make sure everyone was in the right place at the right time and so forth. And then the next day, after the mini mission, the stake asked for 4 missionaries to go back to the stake center and do a Q&A session, so we went with two sister missionaries for that.

We also have to do Baptismal Interviews for the district leaders, which we have had like 6 of those in the past two weeks, which is a GREAT thing, but it just means more driving, like we drove out to Tahoe again this past week, which is like a three hour ordeal.

Yesterday, we met with the High counselor in charge of missionary work and talked with him for about an hour, and we have an appointment with the stake president tomorrow. It’s all just little administrative stuff, but stuff we have to do. I enjoy it, being like a little helper for President, but it’s also nice to do real missionary work.

There is not a "Spanish" Zone, although I wish there was. There are currently 8 Zones, and there are two other Zone Leaders currently serving as ZLs who were called to speak Spanish, and have served in Spanish areas before, but all the ZL areas are English speaking. Apparently there used to be a Spanish speaking ZL Area, but it doesn’t exist anymore. On Tuesday, I actually had a personal interview with President Hermansen (my first one), and we talked about me serving in Spanish. He actually brought it up first, when he said "I'm sorry Elder Todd, I know that you want to serve in Spanish, but right now He (The Lord) needs you to serve as a leader." And then he told me about how one of his past Assistants was called to speak Spanish, but was an Assistant for 14 months and served in English there. So in other words, he was trying to tell me that if you are in Leadership, you are probably going to be in an English area.

As far as creating a Spanish zone, I don’t think that will happen, because President likes to keep the zones with the corresponding stakes, so until we get a Spanish stake that won’t be the case....but ya never know!! The mission is at an all-time small, but as usual, we are expected to get another big wave of missionaries this summer. And of course, there will be lots of changes when President Hermansen goes home and we get President Chestnut in July!! (Did you know they only get TWO hours together?!!??)

Dog throw up...
One funny story from this past week....we were in a lesson with the two teenagers who got baptized last week, and their dog came up and puked ALL over Klingensmith's pants and shoes and everything....it was hilarious. Especially cuz the two kids didn’t do anything to help clean it up, they just were like "Awww that sucks." It was really funny. 

We got back from our exchanges in California Saturday night to find out that our propane tank ran out, so we have had no heat or hot water, no gas stove or oven or anything for the past two days....so I have been bundling up at night, and it stinks waking up to a freezing house!! But we called the mission office today, and they are going to send someone over soon....so hopefully that is just a short-term trial that we are going through hahahahaha....gotta love missionary life!!!

But that’s about all I have for this week!! Things are going well, the Zone is doing great, I love my zone!! And we get to go to the temple on Wednesday, so we are excited about that!!! I know that the church is true. I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet of God. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers, and that he loves us.

I love you guys!  Have a great week!!!

Elder Todd

Week 25 - Transfer to Cold Springs, NV

March 9, 2015

Saying goodbye to Adrian
Well sadly, I am no longer serving in Spanish. This past week has been a little harder for me. It was my first time getting transferred into a new area, and it has been hard, especially the first few days were rough. I really miss my old area, and speaking Spanish, and living close to other missionaries to get together to workout in the morning and stuff. I was overtired and a little homesick, but I have gotten used to it all, and I’m quite excited about the ward and the way things are moving, and like President Hermansen told us last Zone conference: "There is no comfort in the growth zone, and there is no growth in the comfort zone." So I am out of my comfort zone, but that’s ok because the Lord is growing me!  I am serving in Cold Springs, NV – which is a little town with nothing but a 7-11, a liquor store and a LOT of houses. We live in a huge double-wide trailer that is way too big for the two of us, but at least we each have our own bathrooms!!  

Two baptisms in my new area
This week has been pretty crazy, actually. We have been busy doing random Zone Leader stuff, like doing baptismal interviews, and some stuff for President. We have yet to have a full day of proselyting!! Wednesday will be our first full day. But we actually had two baptisms yesterday/Saturday! Two teenagers were baptized. It wasn’t quite as exciting as Juan and Laura for me, because I hadn't really met them before Saturday.  But it was memorable nevertheless.

Transfer Day
But our area is actually quite a nice area. There are a few trailers, but mostly lots of middle-class houses. I have only seen one person that I could speak Spanish too, aside from the returned missionary who just got back from Peru like 8 weeks ago (and he has already been married for 4 of them!!!!)  But because our area has had really really good missionaries for a while, (it has been the ZL area for almost 2 years), the area is pretty exhausted. Everyone on the ward list has been contacted a few times, and Elder Klingensmith (my new comp) said that he has tracked most of the streets in our area and knocked most doors. (He has been here for 5 transfers). So basically the opposite of the area I came from, which I opened up. But, nonetheless the area has been consistently baptizing ever since it has been a ZL area. I hope to keep that up, and we fasted yesterday that we can find a family of 4 this month that can be baptized next month. I know that as long as we stay busy and work hard, the Lord will bless us. 

At MLC (mission leadership council...once a month meeting with all the zone leaders), President was talking about how the only thing that he put on the shelf to use again when he gets back from his mission is his 20.5' Glastron Ski boat!!!! So it is a sign that we need to follow in President's footsteps and be as righteous as he is and buy a boat. ...cough cough DAD....

I love you guys. I love getting the letters and pictures from everyone, it makes my day when I do!!! Thank you for all of your love and support. Have a great week!!!

Elder Todd

Saying goodbye to Walfer and Rosa

Saying goodbye to Veronica and her family!
Super messy desk...trying to pack up all my stuff
from the old apartment

Sparks Zone run in the morning
With Juan and Laura and Elder Short
Saying goodbye to Juan and Laura and Adrian
Doing all the stinkin dishes

Elder Short and me
Moving apartments...without a truck