Week 32 - Life is BUENO!!

I made teriyaki chicken for dinner!
April 27, 2015

Hey everybody! How’s it going?  Things back on the west coast are going great. Elder Krey and I are having a blast. We still don’t have many investigators, but we are working hard! The lesson with President and Jared went well! We were really grateful that we had President because Jared was asking all these deep questions about the Levitical Priesthood and all this stuff that I had no idea what to say. President obviously knew about all that stuff, so he was able to answer most of it. But Elder Krey and I just kept tying everything he asked about back to the Book of Mormon, because that’s what we are best at! We probably mentioned 5-10 times that everything weighs on the Book of Mormon. It finally hit home, and he agreed to read and pray specifically to know if it was true. We are going over there to see him again, so we will see what the deal is. President was impressed with his knowledge of the scriptures.  We walked out of the lesson and he looked at us and said, "Wow!" Haha but it was all good. 

With Elder White
So this week I spent a day with Elder White, who is one of the Assistants to the President, and that was way fun. I love going on exchanges with the APs because they are the best of the best! So I feel like I always learn a lot, just by their example even! When I was with him I took him to the dump house and warned him beforehand and everything...and when we got in there it was WORSE than when we left it!! I couldn’t believe it. But the owner actually had us do yard work outside, and Elder White was like, "Well Elder Todd, it is no doubt that the fact that we got to work outside of their house today is a miracle...good luck next week when you go back in." It was funny. Elder White is a Spanish missionary so it was fun to speak Spanish all day to someone.

On Exchanges with Elder Cox and Elder Lewis
I also went on exchanges with Elder Cox and Elder Lewis for a day, two Elders in our zone (Cox is a DL) and they serve in downtown Reno. We were in a trio, while Elder Krey spent the day with another set of missionaries. We had a great day. Elders Cox and Lewis have been teaching this woman from Iran who is Muslim and who really doesn’t speak any English at all...so needless to say it has been a struggle to teach her. Her name is Cema...they did get that much.  She has come to church the past 4 weeks and even though she can’t understand she still comes. The Elders have been kind of baffled by her…they don't know what to do with her, because it’s hard for her to progress when they can’t communicate! But on Saturday they had a lesson set up with her, and they found a member from another stake who speaks Farsi, so they set it up to have her come and translate everything. We all showed up and of course the member and Cema were immediately were friends. We went into the apartment clubhouse thing and all sat at a table, and the two Persian women talked for like 5 minutes straight. Us Elders just sat there like fools and pretended like we knew what was going on. But then the member's eyes welled up with tears and then she started sobbing. We had no idea what was going on but we could feel the Spirit SO strong. The member then turned to us and, with tears in her eyes, told us the story that Cema had.

Cema came here to Las Vegas from Iran like 20 years ago to get more money and freedom – like everyone else. The only job she could get was cleaning houses because she didn’t need English for that. She barely got by, and sent any leftover money back home to her three kids so they could come here and join her. Eventually, she sent enough so they all came over, but her two sons abandoned her as soon as they got her. She kept in touch with her daughter a little, but she lived here in Reno, while Cema was still in Las Vegas.  Cema hurt her hip and was out of work for a while.  She was kicked out of her place and was basically homeless. She says that she was so sad and hopeless that she would just cry and cry all day. She made her way up to Reno, where she knew her daughter was going to school, and eventually located and stayed with her daughter.

With my favorite Persian people...
the member on the left, and Cema in the middle!
One night she cried and cried and cried because she was so helpless and couldn’t manage here in the US. Then that night she had a dream where Jesus came to her and told her to go find "the Mormon" and he kept saying “Mormon” over and over again, and that the Mormon could help her. This is really incredible because she knew next to nothing about Jesus.  Having grown up in Iran, all she knew was that he was the son of Mary. And she had never heard the word Mormon before. But she woke up and told her daughter about it, and asked her to look up the Mormon. The daughter had missionaries show up, and that’s where the Elders come into play. They showed up and gave her a Restoration pamphlet with Christ on the front. When Cema saw the pamphlet, she started crying and kissing it because it was the person from her dream!! The Elders could communicate enough to set up a return appointment and explain where the church was, but she really doesn’t understand anything. So after the member explained all this, we all were just in awe. But we taught her about Jesus Chris and why he is so important, and the member translated everything. Cema agreed to be baptized in 3 weeks!! It was so incredible. Probably one of the most spiritual experiences I've had on my mission. The member is going to meet with Cema and the Elders for the next few weeks to go over everything so she can actually understand! But we all got our armpits blown off by that story because they had no idea why she came to church or why she met with them if she didn’t understand a darn thing! So now they are super excited.

Earlier that same day, we had another cool miracle. We were out walking and just street contacting people because the Elders had no appointments. We were walking down a street and I stopped and said, "Hey guys, lets say a specific prayer and ask Heavenly Father if we can have at least one meaningful conversation with someone who will be interested between here and the car." They were cool with it, so I said a quick, but specific prayer. We opened our eyes, and saw a young dude walking away from us and away from the car, but we decided to run after him, so we literally ran after him to catch up with him. We called out to him, and he stopped and let us catch up. He had a bunch of tattoos and backwards hat and honestly my first thought was, “oh great, this dude probably thinks we are crazy, and not only did we just waste our energy by running after him, but now we are farther from the car!”  But we started talking with him, and we found out that he is going through a rough time and was actually praying that he could have someone to talk to about it...and then we showed up!! He had attended an LDS church in Montana for 2 1/2 years with a university ward, but stopped going when he moved here to Reno. He said he loved it and wants to go back. Of course we agreed to have the YSA Elders come by next week, and it ended up being a great lesson right there on the street!!! Specific prayers are awesome!! As soon as the dude left, we said another prayer and we had another great lesson right before we got to our car. It was a huge testimony builder for me and the Elders I was with. It was great!!

Mom, you will be proud…I made teriyaki chicken the other day because nobody had signed up to feed us dinner!! It was freakin delicious!!!!!

Elder Krey and I have been asked to give a training at the Mission Leadership meeting this Friday, and so we are excited about that. We have an easy topic..."Teaching with the Power of the Spirit" 

Hey - Sounds like our family is famous now after an APOSTLE announced the Ocampos and our name too!! That’s freakin awesome!!! I was telling mom that you guys are making our name famous on the East Coast, now I need to step up my game on the west coast so we can just be nation-wide famous haha!!

A quick word of advice to everyone reading this...don’t leave wet clothes in the washer for longer than a few hours...I did a load of laundry but forgot about it until just the other day, and when I opened the washer, I almost passed out because of the stench!!! ....needless to say, I had to put them through another washer cycle.

Well folks, I absolutely LOVE being a missionary. It is the best. I also have a testimony of specific prayers. I know that when we ask for specific things, it makes life easier on Heavenly Father because then he can give us those things just as we ask and as he wants/needs. (Of course it doesn’t work with anything...like if we asked for $3,543,871 dollars instead of just "a million dollars" but you know what I mean!!)

I love you guys!!!

Elder Todd

Long story short...some Elders in our zone
had a ROCK thrown in their window!!
You can see the (huge) rock on the floor -
and all the glass on the bed.
Fun run with my homies

Week 31 - Life is GOOD!

Rivera and Gutierrez both go home this next transfer...
I probably saw them for the last time as missionaries! :(
April 20, 2015
Hey guys!!

Life is awesome here in Cold Springs. Elder Krey, my new companion, is awesome. We are having a blast together. He is a convert to the church – he joined about 4 years ago, and so he has a very powerful conversion story. I love when he shares it with the people we talk to everyday. He is from Clinton, UT and is the oldest of 3. I don’t know if I mentioned before, but we entered the field together, which is fun. He was best friends with an Elder that I was in the MTC with, who was in another district in our zone. He is a theatre fanatic, and did all sorts of plays and stuff. He is hilarious. He sings in the shower and all that good stuff.  Its great – we are having lots of fun together.

With Elder Choi at transfer meeting
Dad asked how transfers here in our mission work, so I thought I would explain a little. So the last week and a half of each transfer, President and the two Assistants get together and plan and figure out where everyone is going and who their companion will be and who has cars and all that good stuff. Then the last Sunday of the transfer they email the Zone Leaders the plans for the coming transfer. Then us, as Zone Leaders, go and print up those plans Sunday night, look over them, and figure out where everyone in our zone is going. On Sunday night, we give everyone in our zone a call and let them know if they are staying, or if they are going. If they are being transferred then we let them know where they will be living, who their new companion is, and what area/ward they will be in. They then have Monday (P-day) to pack if they are moving, and Tuesday we have transfer meeting.  It’s fun to be a zone leader and be a part of all of it. Or at least I enjoy it!!

Me and my homie Elder Nieves!!
Dad, you also mentioned in your letter to me that you are so grateful for the Elders that came to our house and challenged us to set a goal to have one baptism as a family in the year 2013. I remember the Elder too, I could have sworn it was Elder Capt. But you can ask the elders serving in the ward right now to check the records and ask who was serving in the ward in the winter of 2013. Every area book should have the history of the area at least that far. But I remember very much that night when they left us that challenge. Because of that, we have been leaving the same challenge with each family we have dinner with. I can only hope and pray that each family will take it seriously and set that as a goal. I remember the Elder said that if every member of the church has that goal, then in one year the church will double in size in one year. So we have been sharing that message with everyone, in hopes they will be able to see the same success we saw!!

So we found a new family two weeks ago and we had a good lesson with them this past Thursday. It was kinda interesting, because when we met the dad (Jared) on the street, he was very nice. But after talking to him a little, he gave us a decent amount of pushback when it came to prophets and the priesthood. But we left him with a Book of Mormon, and a Restoration pamphlet and he told us we could stop by anytime when we see his car in the driveway. So like a few days later, he called us, and said he had a few questions and wanted us to come over. I was shocked because its only the second time ever that an investigator or a potential investigator has called us first! So I was thrilled.

Elder Talbot....reminds me a lot of my friend,
Chris Miller from back home
We went over last Thursday, and he was super nice. He has 4 kids and one on the way, so a really young family. We sat down and first thing he said basically was, "would you be alright if I record this?" I instantly was kinda like uhhhh I guess, but was super sketched out. I had all these thoughts like "uh-oh, here we go, he is going to bash us and quiz us and make us twist our words, and then it will be all over the Internet and all this stuff." But he just had about 10 or so sincere questions, and he read up to 1 Nephi 7 and had lots of good questions. We were able to answer the questions to the best of our ability, and we were careful not to trip ourselves up. But by the end of the lesson, those skeptical thoughts went away and we were able to really feel the Spirit and testify about the Book of Mormon. We were actually able to teach quite a bit, just by answering his questions. We have another appointment with him this Thursday, and President Hermansen is going to be coming with us because he wants to come and see how we teach.  So with President there, we won’t be as worried about tripping up ourselves. We are planning to teach the whole message of the Restoration to him, with President as our third companion for the evening. (The pressure will be on with President as we go into a tougher lesson, but oh well!!)

With Elder Gutierrez
We did some service for a part member family this week...and let me tell you it was the grossest thing I have ever seen. We helped clean up their house and it was incredible how bad it was. I will send pictures next week, but just imagine never doing any dishes and letting them pile up with old grease and food from months ago on it.  Instead of using a garbage can with garbage bags, they just have a huge pile of old food and trash in the middle of the kitchen. And then imagine like 1,000,000 flies EVERYWHERE. It was gross. I almost threw up a number of times. Elder Krey pulled out this bag of broccoli and showed it to me...and then after further examination I learned that it was actually bread that was so old and moldy it looked just like broccoli..... (So Mom and Dad – today at Wal-Mart, I bought a few supplies to help us clean up some more this week, like some plastic gloves and a candle and stuff so that’s what that was about...it is literally SO bad.)

The 4 Stooges...we hung out with these Elders a lot during
this last transfer...on P-days and such
The other day we were talking to an older guy on the street who I think was a little intoxicated, and he was pretty nice, not super interested, but we asked him for his phone number and he said, "Dude I don’t know my number, I don’t ever call myself!"  Krey and I just cracked up when he said that.

Well guys, I LOVE being a missionary. At transfer meeting, as the out-going missionaries who were going home bore their testimonies, the thought came to me that I am SO glad that I am not going home. Even though I miss you guys dearly and think about you regularly, I am so grateful for this chance that I have to be a full-time representative of our Savior. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else for these two years. But just because I don’t want to come home doesn’t mean I don’t love you guys, because I do!! And I miss you all like crazy!!

Well I hope you all have a great week!!! I love you!

Elder Richmandawg
Me and Elder Talbot 
With Elders Rivera and Gutierrez

Week 30 - Back in the Driver's Seat....Literally!!

Leadership of our zone from last transfer
April 13, 2015
Hey everyone!!

Well last night we made transfer calls....annnnddd I am staying. And I am getting a new companion, Elder Krey! He is freakin awesome. He served up in Quincy, California, and I spent a day with him on exchanges. (He is the one who I sang the California Elders song with). But I have actually known he was my companion since Thursday, because President told us early. On Thursday, we had zone training, and then afterwards we had a fun run/walk around the Sparks Marina to celebrate our mission-wide diet being over. We did it with the Sparks and Reno zones, so that was fun to see all of my old friends. 

This picture was taken 30 seconds before we found out
our transfer calls.  My new companion, Elder Krey,
is on the left!!!
Afterwards they gave us lunch and I was talking with Elder Krey and his comp, Elder Hawkes when President came and huddled us up and said, "Can you guys keep a secret?" And I knew immediately what was going on. President said, "Elder Todd you have your arm around your new companion, Elder Krey you have been called as a Zone Leader. Elder Hawkes you will be training a new missionary." We all started freaking out, cuz me and Elder Krey are pretty tight. I was in the MTC with his best friend from high school, so we had that cool connection. He still has a greenie fire, so I am really excited to get another fellow greenie like myself so we can tear it up. But I am back to being Senior Companion, and that means I get to drive again! I am SO freakin excited for this upcoming transfer. We sent 5 people home from our zone, but we are getting a few new awesome people. We also lost two companionships as President shut down two areas...the mission is still shrinking. Our zone had 17 baptisms in March, which was 10 more then the next closest zone! So we are hoping to keep that streak up!

Breakfast with the Quincy District Elders when they
came down for the night.
But Zone training was a lot of fun. Elder Klingensmith and I did a training and we started it off by giving a funny example of how to be terrible missionaries. It was hilarious; the zone got a kick out of it.

Also, Wednesday night we had 4 other elders stay at our mansion before Zone Training, and that was a lot of fun. I made them all muffins and eggs for breakfast the next morning...the ones you sent me for my birthday!!

So in regards to actual missionary work...we had a baptism this weekend!
Brother Dotson got baptized!!
Brother Dotson got baptized. He is the Old American Cowboy that I told you about. He is awesome. He is so down to earth. Not to mention he drives a big Ram diesel truck and drives trailers around for fun and had his own construction business back in the day. We had a lot of fun teaching him. He got into a terrible car accident 3 years ago, and so his memory isn’t great, but he truly has the desire to learn and understand the gospel. He listens to the Book of Mormon on CD while he works out in his yard. Elder Klingensmith baptized him, and I confirmed him yesterday in sacrament. That was cool.

Blizzard in April
I was able to go on exchanges and spend a day up in Truckee, California which is like a resort town right off of Lake Tahoe. It snowed like 4 inches while I was there.  It did NOT feel like April!! I wasn’t ready for the snow, so I about froze my feet off, but I lived. The work up there is hard because most of the people are rich and snotty, or they are tourists. The missionaries up there live in a TINY motel room...literally their whole place is the size of our study back at home (on Canoe Landing Court)...just imagine having a bunk bed, a fridge, a table with a hot plate to cook and a microwave, and two study desks all crammed in our study at home.  I was never so appreciative of our double wide trailer with two luxurious bathrooms and our own exercise room and all kinds of space!!

Yesterday we had a great discussion in gospel principles class about Heavenly Father. The thought came to me that truly in this life, the ONLY reliable thing is this gospel of Jesus Christ. Sometimes governments fail, businesses fail, countries fail, everything can fail – EXCEPT this Gospel. So truly we all need to do as we are told in Proverbs, when it tells us that we need to Trust in the lord with all of our hearts, and lean NOT unto our understanding. Any other way we fail, and we fall short. I am so grateful for our Savior, Jesus Christ. I know that he lives. I know that he loves us.

Well life is good here in Cold Springs!! I hope you all have a great week!! I love and miss you!

Elder Todd
On exchanges with Elder Fletcher in Truckee, CA.
Cute family fed us dinner and took us out for ice cream.
Tiny apartment in Truckee, CA...makes me appreciate
the huge double-wide that we live in!!
Tiny apartment in Truckee 
With Elder HAN!!!!  He used to live in Virginia -
 and we were in scouting together.
Now both speakingSpanish in the same mission!
Two of my favorite missionaries...Elder Sheats and Nieves
Our car covered in snow in Truckee, CA
Spent a day in Truckee with Elder Fletcher...funny coincidence
because he was my temporary companion for that first night
in the mission when I was so miserable...and here we are
six months later on exchanges and I am his Zone Leader! 

My "father"...Elder River...goes home next transfer!!
Posterity picture with Rivera...the grandpa of us all,
with my "son" and my "brother" 
The snow was bad for a while in Truckee 
My boy Elder Lewis 
Me and my son!! (Elder Short) 
Me and my homie Elder Nieves who I freakin miss!!
Exchanges with Elder Lewis 
With my homies from the CCM 
President Hermansen at the Zone walk/run
Brother Dotson and his wife and another missionary
that helped teach him a few transfers ago 
Elder Talbot...a friend who reminds me a LOT
of Chris Miller from back home
All the Span-Ams in the mission (except like 10) 
Burning Elder Klingensmith's clothes before he goes home