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

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