Week 37 - Back in Sparks

Saying goodbye to Elder Guttierez
June 1, 2015
Howdy everyone!!!

Our tiny cottage
This week has been great. I am so lucky to spend an entire transfer in a Quad with the 3 best missionaries in the mission. We have a ton of fun together, and I have learned SO much from being with them. Each day I go out with a different one of my companions, either Elder Twitchell, Elder White, or Elder Freeman. Elders Twitchell and White both go home this transfer, so Elder Freeman and I are trying to learn as much as we can while they are here.... and we go and see tons of people. I am serving in the Prater Ward, and the ward is basically Downtown Sparks – it covers Prater Way and the surrounding area, so it is like a long strip. But it is great. The work is literally exploding, and we are super busy, even though there are 4 of us, so two companionships. They have had 11 baptisms already this year, and the ward had a goal set in January for 10....so we changed it to 20. The area hasn't always been the Assistants’ area, it just became the AP's area in January. But the ward is great, we already have a full dinner calender for June and that has never happened before. I am super excited to be here. It is fun to be in a hustle-and-bustle place, too, because Cold Springs was a LOT quieter. We actually live in the ghetto of Sparks, and we had our neighbor's car get lit on fire and heard gun shots the other night...crazy stuff. But no worries, the Lord will protect us.

Saying goodbye to Elder Rivera...
my first companion, my trainer, and my "Dad!"
So Tuesday was transfer day, and we spent all day at the mission office. It was actually a calm day, because the missionaries going home had their departing missionary temple trip a few weeks ago because the temple has been closed the past two weeks for renovations. So all we had to worry about in the morning was picking up the new missionaries and setting up the rooms for the evening. We then got to ride over in the van and pick up the new missionaries as they got off the plane. There were only 5 of them, so SUPER small group. Next transfer we already have 17 scheduled to come, so it will be a different story. But we took them back and had lunch with them, and then they had orientation meetings all day. By that time we have the new Trainers arriving, and we train them on how to train the new missionaries. Then the transfer meeting starts and all the missionaries arrive, which is always a lot of fun. Then everyone leaves and we clean up, and we have dinner with the departing missionaries, which was especially fun because Elders Gutierrez, Dalton, and RIVERA all went home last week :(  Three of my closest friends, but oh well, that's missionary life. But it was a fun day. The next morning we had to update everyone's phones, with the new contacts and stuff, and that took a while. We only update the office missionaries’ phones, and President and Sister Hermansens’ phones, along with our own. But we had to change all the contacts because everyone has a new area and a new address so that took a while. But aside from that, it has been quite a normal week. Our stats have been off the charts because there are basically 2 companionships reporting in a one-companionship area. So we had like 60 lessons this past week.

The other day, Elder Twitchell and I were going to an appointment in an apartment complex, and we had our Bishop with us. We were walking down the hall and this woman opened her door RIGHT as we walked by, because she was taking out her trash. We scared her by accident, and said sorry, but kept on walking. We got about 20 yards down the hall, when she called out to us and asked, "What church are you guys from?" We responded, "well the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints!" And she said, "Oh yes – I know, but which one?" We explained and it turns out that she is a member, and has been less active for 10 years. She is 27 now, and is going through a dark time in her life, and is quite lonely. We set up a return appointment and everything, and she was super receptive to us. But that experience confirmed to me that The Lord is leading this work, because it is His. It is not at all a coincidence that she opened her door right as we were directly in front of it. 3 seconds difference, and she probably would've paid no attention to us. I am grateful for experiences like that to remind me that this is HIS work, not Elder Todd's work. 

As we were walking out of the apartment complex, we ran into a man, and we started talking to him, and he immediately said, "No hablo engles..." and so I said, "Esta bien, yo hablo Espanol!" And then his face went white, and he said, "Oh you caught me!! I don't actually speak any Spanish, I was just trying to avoid you guys!" Hahaha and so we thought that was funny, but we talked to him for a little while and he turned out to be a nice guy. Not super interested in the church, but a nice guy. You never know when it will be handy to know a little Espanol!!

I had another cool experience after church yesterday, Elder White and I were carrying a couch from the church building back to the mission office because we borrowed it for our 5th Sunday lesson.  We were standing outside the office waiting for Elder Twitchell to bring the keys over, and this dude walked by…he had tattoos all over him and was walking his dog. Elder White just said "Hello" from a distance as we held the couch, and the man stopped walking, and turned around and started walking towards us. This NEVER happens so we dropped the couch, and started walking towards him. He then explained to us that he was homeless as of yesterday, and all he had was his dog and a few extra dollars. We found out that he was 28, and the YSA ward was about to start in 20 minutes, so we invited him to church, and he told us, "Well, can I bring my dog?" And we were like as long as he's well behaved, then sure! So we introduced him to the YSA Elders, and I texted them last night and said that he is SUPER solid, and they have a lesson set up with him tonight. It was yet another experience for me that strengthened my testimony that the Lord is preparing people. Because if that guy had only said hello back, and then kept walking, we wouldn't have gone up to him, because we were busy and had a couch in our hands, but The Lord whispered to him to come up to us, and who knows where it will go from here. But I also feel like the Lord was telling me through both of these experiences that I need to talk to everyone in my path. And I mean EVERYone. Because we never know who’s ready. 

With Elder VanLeeuwen - a missionary who went
home this transfer.  He was in my zone and was
obsessed with Star Wars!!  Loved it.
Well that's about all the news for this week! I am loving life back here in Sparks. I’m going to the temple next Friday with Juan and Laura, and I am SUPER excited for that, and to see them again. It has been super hot this past week, the car once told us it was 101, but unlike the rest of you – there is NO HUMIDITY!!!! Three cheers for that!!! But this week it is supposed to cool down, so things should be better. 

I want to start leaving you all with a scripture of the week, and today in my personal study I read the talk "Stay by the Tree" by Elder Pearson. Great talk, and I like how he says TWICE that we need to 'Study the Book of Mormon every day, every day, every day!' That's how he puts it. And President Hermansen mentioned to us the other day that the 3 things he tells missionaries to do as they are going home is 1) Have heartfelt prayer twice a day, 2) Regular temple attendance, and 3) study the scriptures EVERY DAY.

So it has been on my mind a lot, that even active members need to be studying the scriptures everyday. And so the scripture of the week is 2 Nephi 32:3 Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do. I know that as we treasure up the scriptures DAILY and feast upon them, the devil will have no power over us and we will grow closer to our God and our Savior. I am so grateful to have a full hour, uninterrupted every day to do that, and I have already made it my goal to keep that studying going after my mission, because Satan is going to only try harder to get me to sway or to doubt after my mission.

Have a great week, everyone!! I love and miss you all!!

Elder Todd

Week 36 - Planning Transfers, Driving Trailers, and Breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa!

Three "Todd" Missionaries...
Elder Todd, Elder Todd, and Sister Todd!
May 25, 2015
Howdy y'all!!

Happy Memorial Day!!! And a special shout-out to all of you veterans out there…thank you for all that you do for our country! 

How is real life back in Virginia??
Going to Breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa!!
They finished their 12-month mission in San Diego,
and drove through Reno on their way home to Utah!

So yes, Breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa was a BLAST. It was so fun to see them. It sounds like they had a great mission in San Diego!  And perfect that they were driving through Reno on their way home to Utah.  It was kinda weird seeing them again, but then again it wasn't all that weird.  They are the best. They brought a bunch of candy and fruit to us, and we love getting fruit!! Especially grapes and pears, they are the best! But it really was fun to see them and they are great for taking us out to breakfast. I can't wait to throw pool parties at their house in 2 years from now!! Haha just kidding, that is getting ahead of myself a little bit.

Aside from going to breakfast with Grandma and Grandpa, life here hasn’t been too interesting – this past week has just been a lot of planning for the next transfer! Tuesday-Friday from 10-5 everyday I spent with President and the other Assistants planning for the upcoming transfer. It was actually pretty fun to be a part of it all. It was a little hard when determining the plans of how everyone is going to get to their new area/companionship with their new car and everything, but it was fun. I forwarded you the transfer plans for this upcoming transfer for my current zone, the Reno North Zone.

It has been very fun to get close with President Hermansen. He is great. I am going to miss him so much. We had a 20-minute conversation about boats the other day...and he told me to tell you that he HIGHLY recommends getting a boat. He said that it has brought his family close together, and every time they use it they have a blast. He did a disclaimer though...that it is expensive, but we already knew that. Anyways, the bottom line is that President Hermansen HIGHLY recommended that you guys buy a boat.....haha!  But he was talking about how much fun they are and how he loves to water ski. He said Jet-skis are fun, but a boat is way more fun, and I certainly agree with that! 

I get to drive a trailer!!!
So yes, we are moving today....annnddd....that means that I get to drive the transfer van with the trailer on it. And yes this is a big deal. Haha not really, but it is fun. Today we have spent the whole day packing up every single thing that is in our missionary mansion and moving it to Elder Krey's new place and my new place and the rest goes to the mission storage unit. There is actually a ton of stuff in our place because it is so big, so we have had to make a few trips. It is fun though....I mean we are talking about driving trailers here which is like my favorite thing to do! (aside from missionary work of course....)

But I am actually so sad that I am leaving the Cold Springs ward! I have grown to love it. And it seems like the area is just exploding now, and just as it is getting good, I have to leave! It STINKS! Because Elder Krey and his new comp are going to have like 15 baptisms...no lie...within the next transfer or two. We had some great lessons this past week, and it really is kinda frustrating because I've been working hard to find all of them, but now I don’t get to teach many of them at all! But oh well, I did my part here in Cold Springs, and the Lord needs me in the Prater Ward in downtown Sparks, so I will go and do!

Me and my man Elder Krey
I am also going to miss Elder Krey...he has been so much fun. This kid is an actor at heart, and he is always on stage!! He always comes up with the most hilarious things to say. Like the other day he was wearing his "back-up" suit while his favorite suit was being dry-cleaned.  It was pretty hot outside, and we had parked the car and were making a few phone calls, and the sun was beaming right on his legs, and he looked at me and said, "Elder, I am wearing pants of death right now."  Haha – I was cracking up, because it’s a wool suit and so he really was being cooked alive!  Krey has been super fun, and the ward loves him.

In front of our regular mission car
This week we had a cool experience while doing our nightly planning. We were making our plans for the next day, and we didn't have any set appointments at 7pm, so we were deciding who to go see. We originally put "Ray & Rachel" who are two potential investigators, but then we wrote down "Justin" as one of our back-up plans. But then after a few minutes, I said to Elder Krey, “hey I think we should switch Ray & Rachel and go see Justin instead.” And he agreed and said that he felt better about that too. So at 7 pm the next day, we went to visit  Justin and had a GREAT lesson with him and his wife. They are a young couple who said that they had been looking for a church to raise their family in, and had tried a few churches but none had the right feel. One of their co-workers is Mormon, and they knew a little about us, but they said that they had been super interested to know more!! They agreed to come to church next week, and we had a great lesson! Krey and I were stoked, it was great!! It is so cool to see the Holy Ghost prompt us to make those little changes that make a big difference. Having the Lord on our side is the ONLY way to go when it comes to missionary work!!

Finding Justin was a cool story too, because last transfer Elder Klingensmith and I were walking down the street, and Justin was outside fixing his fence. I started to walk up to him, and Klingensmith said, "Hey, don't talk to him, we already tried and he isn't interested." But I just marched up to him anyway, and Klingensmith kinda followed me, and Justin was like "Oh, hey guys! I remember you guys! Can you say a prayer with me right now?" And then of course we accepted and were able to go from there and get a return appointment. But it was a huge testimony builder to me that we shouldn't give up on people, just because they turned us down once. Obviously there is a line that we have to draw so that we don't annoy them, but when we are obedient the Holy Ghost can lead us and guide us in all that we do. And that goes for us as missionaries, as well as the rest of you "normal folks"

I get to drive the van and trailer for a few days!
Well all is well here in the mission. Tomorrow should be fun, because I will officially take on my role as an Assistant and be running all around the mission to go and pick up the greenies and then drop off those going home, too. It should be fun!

I love and miss all of you!! Thanks for all of your love and support!! Have a great week!!

Elder Todd

Oh and two cool perks of being an assistant...I get $50 more per month on my card, and I get a personal cell phone instead of sharing one between a companionship!

We had to move out of our "Missionary Mansion!"
Boxing up our house
We're gonna miss our double-wide...
Before the big move
I sure do love these two!!

Week 35 - Being a Seamstress and an Assistant to the President!

Four of us AP's...getting the mission ready for the handoff from
President Hermansen to President Chesnut on July 1st.
May 18, 2015
Howdy YALL!!!

Just kidding, I haven't turned into THAT big of a hick.....YET!

But how is life?!? Life here in Cold Springs is good...but COLD! It has been chilly this past week, and we have gotten a TON of rain lately, which is good because we need it, but it is not favorable for us as missionaries...but it’s all good!

Four AP's
So yes, the biggest news is that I was called to be an Assistant to the President last Monday. President Hermansen had Elder Krey and I come into his office, along with his other two Assistants and told us what the deal was. So next transfer there will actually be 4 of us assistants, because the current two assistants go home with President...which is THIS transfer!!! I can't believe it. President has to be moved out of his house by June 27th....about a month or so away! I can't believe it. I am sure it will be a big shock for him, too. But President called myself and Elder Freeman, a Zone Leader from Sparks to be his next Assistants. We will be in a foursome next transfer, so the two of us new AP’s can get the hang of being an AP as well as learn our new area. The biggest thing that the Assistants do is help with transfer planning...which is actually a lot of fun! We had one 4-hour planning session on Saturday to get us started, and we will be planning more Tuesday-Friday this week from 10-5 everyday. It’s fun to be a part of moving everyone around and figuring everything out...it is certainly right up my alley!  Basically I won't be doing much proselyting this week. But I am excited to be an Assistant at this time, for the handoff between President Hermansen and President Chestnut, and to be a part of all the action.

I am bummed, however to be leaving Cold Springs...Dad was right when he said that I will be just as sad when I leave Cold Springs as when I left Sun Valley! I have grown to know the ward and love the new families we are working with, especially all the new ones we have found! There will probably be about 15 baptisms or so in the next few months, assuming a few of these families pan out. But oh well, I am also excited for the ward that I will be serving in, I know there is plenty of work to do there back in Sparks!

So an update on the beloved Cema...she MOVED to Las Vegas!!!!! :(  She got the news that her daughter's apartment lease was up, and so they both had to go back to Vegas. So unfortunately we don't know what has become of her since...but it was such an amazing experience for me to be there when her story was told, I will certainly never forget it.

Exchanges with Elder Corry and Elder Adams.
Elder Corry is from the Oakton Stake - and knows
Hadley Powers!!
So I went on exchanges with Elder Corry and Elder Adams this week, and Elder Corry is from the Oakton stake! And it turns out that he knows Hadley Powers, and he was at all of the NYE dances too! Small world.

I got your package Mom, thanks for all of the goodies!! Always fun to get packages. Please send all mail from now on to the mission office...1146 Prater Way Sparks, NV 89431...I will be spending lots of time there now haha.

One thing I did not expect when I turned in my papers last year was that I was going to turn into a seamstress! Holy cow I feel like every spare moment I am sewing something...from pants to buttons on shirts to ties...I've done it all! And I have to be quite honest, I have gotten quite good at doing it! You would all be very proud of the job I did on my jeans, I got a huge hole right on my crotch, but now you can't even tell!!!

Well, that's about it this week. I am excited to take on my new calling as an Assistant, partially because it means that I need to step it up myself. Being an Assistant is a huge role, and the whole mission looks up to us, and so I think this calling will truly help me become the best missionary that I can possibly be, and I know that who the Lord calls, he qualifies, which is comforting to know.

I love you guys!!! You guys are awesome, and you all truly inspire me to work harder and be the best person that I can be. I appreciate all that you do for me, especially all of the prayers that are said on my behalf...I couldn't do it without them.

Have a great week!

Elder Todd

p.s. Exciting about Brandon Scott's mission call, he emailed me and told me too...Madrid, Spain!  Awesome.