Week 43 - First Transfer Day with President Chesnut (He is the MAN!)

Selfie in the van with the new missionaries!
July 13, 2015
Hello everyone!

Whats up? Sounds like a lot of fun stuff is going on outside of the mission field!! All sorts of camps and vacations and fun! Especially the Claytor lake trip...that sounds like a TON of fun, we might have to do a Todd family high adventure version of the Claytor Lake trip when I get home....

Well, as the subject line suggests this past week was President Chesnut's first transfer with us and it was nothing short of crazy haha. We had 22 missionaries leaving, and 17 incoming, and so it was a crazy day on Tuesday for all of us, and Elder Freeman and I spent a lot of the day driving around in the van and trailer! (which I will NEVER complain about...) I'll give you a brief run down of the day:

At the airport
8:00am - Set up the Prater building (next to the mission office) for all of the meetings and orientation and meals that we will have for the day.

9:00am - Departing missionaries arrive, and we weigh their luggage and put it in the trailer

10:00am - We take the departing missionaries' luggage to the mission home, and then take them to the temple for a session.

11:00am - Go from the temple to the airport, where we pick up the incoming missionaries. One of the flights was running late so that messed a lot up, but oh well! 

12:00pm - Take the new Greenies back to the Prater building and have a short lunch with them, and then we begin their orientation by giving a short presentation on the Atonement and missionary work.

1:00pm - Go back to the temple to pick up the departing missionaries, and bring them back to the Prater building.

2:00pm - Have big lunch with all the incoming and outgoing missionaries

3:00pm - Take down and set up tables for the meetings in the evening and brief break

4:00pm - The trainers for the new missionaries arrive and we train them on how to be a trainer.

5:30pm - President Chesnut finishes his interviews with the Greenies, and we meet in his office to decide the match-ups of the trainers and the trainees. (Cool experience… I'll talk more about it later)

5:45pm - Everyone for the transfer meeting gathers in the gym and we announce the greenies and their trainers...this part is a TON of fun

Departing dinner with Elder Freeman and
Elder White
6:00pm - We move into the chapel and have the transfer meeting

7:30pm - We send everyone home

7:45pm - We have dinner with the departing missionaries

8:30pm - Devotional with the departing missionaries, and then we take down all of the chairs and tables for the day, and get the van ready to go out to Elko in the morning.

9:45pm - Go home and plan for the next day

10:30pm - Collapse in bed and sleep like a rock

So that's a brief overview of our Transfer day! It was a total blast, but I was exhausted at the end of it, and my back hurt because we moved so much luggage all day! But oh well, I need it because I no longer get to move rocks for a living to have a strong back.

Got our free Slurpees on 7-11
But my favorite part of the day is picking up the Greenies from the airport!! It is so fun to wait at the bottom of the stairs, and see them come down all excited and stuff, it is great! And this group that just got here is awesome, they are all a bunch of studs!! Especially the sisters, we have some great new sisters who just came in who are sharp and ready to get to work! It was fun to have lunch and get to know all of them and work with them throughout the day.

One of the most spiritual parts of transfer day was when we matched up the Greenies and their trainers. President Chesnut barely knows the trainers, all he had to get to know them was a brief handshake and a hug, but we knew the trainers pretty well. He knew the Greenies pretty well because he actually was in the MTC with them haha, and got to know them a little bit then. So the night before transfers he said he went into a room and had pictures of the Trainers and the Trainees and prayed about each one individually, and then sat down and matched them up based on the little he knows and the Spirit. Then, on Transfer day, after he completed the interviews with all the new incoming missionaries, we raced over to his office and knelt down and prayed that we could match them up. Then we told him who we thought would be good match-ups, and why. Then he looked at his list that he made the night before, and it was the same except for like 3 companionships. It was amazing. I felt the Spirit so strong as I saw how President Chesnut can receive revelation for the missionaries that he barely knows!! It was so cool. I know that God truly qualifies those he calls.

Goodbye Elder Brush :(
The most spiritual part of the day, however, was the transfer meeting itself. The departing missionaries had the chance to share a brief testimony with all the other missionaries, and it was so powerful. Especially because the last two people to share their testimonies were Elder Twitchell and Elder White, and they both gave great testimonies...and I was an emotional wreck! I was sitting up their on the stand just crying like a baby and trying not to show it!! But man those two Elders were great missionaries, and even though we were only together for 6 weeks, the 4 of us grew really close, and I miss them so much already!!! They were great examples to me and I learned so much from both of them. (Elder White sent a picture of him kissing his girlfriend to Isaac with instructions to show Elder Freeman and I the other day and we got a kick out of that hahaha.)

Wednesday, the day after transfers was crazy, too, because we had to help take people to the airport and get them dropped off, and I said goodbye to Elder Brush, who I was pretty close with :(  And then we rode with President back to the airport in the afternoon to go and pick up a Sister who is serving in the Temple Square Mission, but gets to spend two transfers here in our mission...and I actually know her because she and Braedon Bird were friends back at home. (Small world!) And then we had to update the mission office phone contacts and the President's contacts, because after the transfers everyone gets moved to a new area and has a new phone number and stuff...so that took like 5 hours because we couldn't figure it out!  In the middle of all
that, we had a lady come in and ask to speak with someone so she can get some financial help, and when we weren't looking, she stole Elder Freeman's phone and left!!  We haven't been able to track her down. So thankfully I had my phone still, and Freeman got a new one, but we couldn't believe she just walked out of the office with our phone!! And then we lost power for like half of a second, and it messed up our progress completely with the phones and the computer, so we had to restart. But we finally got that done! Thankfully the church has a software called iMOS that is basically the mission office program that has the transfer board, along with all the missionaries info, and the info about the areas, and the finances of the mission, and the key indicators of the mission and basically everything on one website. So we had to get that updated with all of the changes and stuff, so we turned into computer gurus this past week. But the iMOS system we have access to, and it is actually really handy and nifty!! 

Selfie with Isaac and Verduzco
We had MLC on Friday, and that was a total blast because almost all of my mission friends are Zone Leaders now, so it was fun to be with them all day. But basically we didn't have much time to proselyte again this past week, but I am looking forward to having this whole week to proselyte like a normal missionary!! We have a senior couple that serve in our ward with us, and they are awesome. Elder and Sister Buetler are just great!! They cook all three of the meals for the missionaries on transfer day, which is no small task because we have like 30-50 people eating at each one, which is a lot of food!! And it's good food, too! They are a huge help on transfer day, and they cook great food, too!! (Which can be hard when cooking for big groups!) But they also love coming with us to lessons, and giving people rides, because we can't. A few weeks ago we ran into a woman named Teresa, and she was outside smoking on her porch. I was with a priest from the ward at the time, and we were on splits, but Matthew and I went up and talked to her, and she expressed interest in learning more, so we started teaching her! We got her going to the ARP Program (Addiction Recover Program) each week with a member in our ward who was willing to take her, and it is helping a lot! She loves going and she wants to quit smoking and drinking, and she is slowly waning off!  When we first met her, she smoked half a pack of cigarettes a day, but now she is down to one every other day...so we are happy about her progress! She is set with a baptismal date for August 8th, and we are pretty confident that she can make it. The Buetlers have been a huge help for her, because Teresa doesn't have a car, so they have been taking her to church and took her to a baptism on Saturday, so that she could watch. The Buetlers also make sure that we get fed each night.  They always pass around the dinner calendar and call people to get it filled up, it is great!! 

Me and my comp - Elder Freeman
Elder Freeman and I were given basically free reign to talk about whatever we wanted in MLC for Friday, and we only had one day to plan our training and prepare, so on Thursday, during our study time, we studied and thought about what we could train on, and we both had the exact same two topics come to our heads, it was so cool!! He told me when we started our companionship study that he felt good about the sections "personal revelation" and "pray with faith" from PMG (Preach My Gospel), and I literally had the exact same two sections written down as my thoughts. It was a huge testimony-builder to us that it was what the leaders and the missionaries need to hear about! So it made it easy to plan our training haha, when we both were on the exact same page. 

I have grown to really love my hour of personal study that I get each morning. I have broken it down so that each day I spend 20 minutes studying from PMG, 10 minutes from the Book of Mormon, and 10 minutes from the New Testament, and that leaves me with 20 minutes to study whatever I need to study for that day. I just started that pattern recently, but I love it! I have had some of the most effective study sessions ever, it is great! But recently in my Book of Mormon study I have been studying King Benjamin, and man he is such a STUD!! I love him. I think he is one of my new favorite prophets from the Book of Mormon. He teaches such great stuff, and what an experience it must have been to be there for his "general conference" of sorts. I really like what he teaches, and today something that really stuck out to me in Mosiah Chapter 4 was the following in verses 17 &18:

Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just…But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.” 

I think those verses stuck out to me because I am guilty of doing that so many times!! Too often I think to myself, "Oh those people got into their situation because of the poor choices they made, and so they need to figure it out on their own." But King Benjamin teaches us that if we think that, we need to repent!! And then in verse 19 I like the famous line, "Are we not all beggars?" Because it is so true. We are all beggars, and because of that we need to help those around us, regardless of their situation and how they got into it. And I am SO SOSOSO grateful for the chance that I have to do that now, and to help as many people as I can come closer to Christ. It is truly a blessing in my life, and the past 10 months or so have been the best of my life! 

I love you guys!! Have a great week, the church has never been truer!!

Elder Todd

Week 42 - We have a New Mission President!

 With both of our mission presidents and their wives!!
President and Sister Chesnut (incoming) on the left
President and Sister Hermansen (outgoing) on the right
July 6, 2015
Hey guys!!

Happy belated 4th of July!!!! I couldn't be more grateful to live in this country and to have the freedoms that we have. 'MURICA!!! It sounds like life is going a 100 miles an hour back at home, and I think life here might catch up to you guys because I feel like we are going about 150 miles an hour right now. This past week has been crazy!! (But fun, good, crazy!)

The Chesnuts and the Hermansens
So first of all, we have a new mission president!!! He is awesome. I already love him and his wife both SO much. It has been such a unique experience to be an AP (Assistant to the President) during this transition period!  We were in the office when President and Sister Chesnut walked in for the first time! We – my 3 companions, the office staff, and President and Sister Hermansen – were all waiting for them, and when they came in we started cheering and clapping.  The Chesnuts were so surprised!!  We went around and President Hermansen introduced each of us to them, and we shook their hands and gave them hugs. It was so cool! After a short visit with them, and LOTS of pictures, we finally left and the two Presidents and their wives sat down and discussed the mission for a few hours. And then, on  Tuesday night, President Hermansen left for good! He drove home to Utah the next morning.

The four of us AP's with our new mission president -
President and Sister Chesnut
The 4 of us Assistants had a long meeting with President Chesnut the next morning (Wednesday).  We discussed the upcoming transfer, and a bunch of stuff that he had questions about.  It has given me a whole new perspective on how crazy being a mission president really is! We've also learned that President Hermansen did a lot of the little side jobs that now none of us know how to do, so we are all learning together. President Chesnut asked Elder Freeman and I to accompany him to all of the “Meet the President” meetings across the mission, which we were super excited about!

On Thursday we had our first MTP (Meet the President) meeting in Sparks, with all of Reno and Reno North zones. Then as soon as we were done, Elder Freeman and I hopped in the car and drove to Fallon!  We got there before President Chesnut did, and he called us about 10 minutes before the meeting and asked us how to get to the building! And of course this was mine and Elder Freeman's first time in Fallon, so we just followed our GPS there, but President Chesnut’s GPS was leading him astray, so we had to tell him how to get there.

We had our MTP meeting in Fallon, and then Elder Freeman and I drove to Elko, NV.  We got there around 9:30 or so, and stayed with some of the Zone Leaders out there. The "East" side of our mission consists of the Winnemucca, Elko, and Ely zones and they all came together for one meeting in Elko on Friday morning. After that meeting, we drove home and made it back to Sparks around 6pm. It was a lot of fun to drive out there with President and Sister Chesnut, and we had lunch together in Elko on Friday.
However the drive between the small towns in northern Nevada is pretty dull and boring...because there is absolutely NOTHING in between the towns. Just sagebrush and nothingness. It is such a boring drive haha, I was really looking forward to the drive just to see what the rest of the mission is like, but the Sparks/Reno area is in this bubble, and as soon as you leave, there is almost nothing until you run into the small towns along route 80, such as Lovelock, Winnemucca, Battle Mountain (known as the armpit of the U.S....so in other words just a lovely little city....not!) and then Elko. And it's weird because in Elko, the next decent sized stop on route 80 is Salt Lake City!! Very weird – since that’s where my grandparents live. But the meetings were fun, and it was fun to see the other half of the mission, and meet all the missionaries, because there were a few that I had never met before!

But man, President and Sister Chesnut are drinking from a fire hose right now...and my companions and I are trying to put a sippy cup on the end of the fire hose, but it is still quite the challenge for them. I can tell they are a little overwhelmed, but it is cool to see that they are obviously called of God, and can receive revelation for our mission, even though they barely know the missionaries! They have relied a lot on us, as Assistants, to figure out certain things, which we don't mind because that's our job!  He has been asking us all sorts of questions about how the mission runs.

With both of our Mission Presidents
We got back from our trip on Friday evening, and on Saturday morning President Chesnut wanted us to come do our companionship study with him. So we went over, and while we were there, we found out that the 6 visa-waiters that were assigned to come to our mission briefly to wait for their visas would no longer be coming.  So that messed up just about all of our transfer plans, and we had to close 2 areas at the last minute on Saturday morning. We had planned to lose 2 of the visa-waiters, so we set up 2 trios (companionships of three), so if we lost 2, it wouldn't be a problem...but we didn't plan to lose all 6!  So we spent about 8 hours in the mission office on the 4th of July making all of the changes to the transfer plans because of that. So I spent most of
Missionary from 'Murica!
Independence Day in the mission office!  But in the evening, we went over to the home of one of the ward members, and about half of the ward was over there.  We invited all the people we were working with to come and have dessert and watch fireworks on their lawn, because they had a great view. It was a lot of fun, and there were TONS of people walking around, so the 4 of us challenged each other to pass out as many pass-along cards as possible. It become like a dare-challenge, and Elder White and I were dared to go and give a card to two Police Officers strolling around, so we went up and tried, but they wouldn't accept it haha. Oh well, their loss!! It eventually got dark, and we had permission to stay out past 9:30 to watch fireworks as long as we had a member ride and went straight home afterwards. We ended up getting home late, but it was a ton of fun. I sure was thinking about you guys back at home, I'm guessing you went to Ida Lee like usual? That is always a blast. 

Celebrating the 4th of July!!
As far as missionary work goes, there hasn't been a ton of that lately because we have been so busy with the new President and our trips to the meetings.  But hopefully after transfer day tomorrow, things will settle down and we will be able to go out and proselyte. I tell you – I am going to miss Elder White and Elder Twitchell so much!!! They are both studs, and it has been an absolute pleasure to serve with them and learn from them. They will be missed a lot, but I think Elder White should be sending me a wedding announcement here in the next few weeks...he has a pretty serious girlfriend waiting back at home!!

Well that's about it for this week. Tomorrow will be a fun but crazy day as we get 17 new missionaries, and say goodbye to 22!

Flooding in Sparks
Ohhh, and about the floods...yes we had a huge flash flood the other day, and apparently it was all over the news.  I was in a lesson for the whole thing, but my companions were stuck in it. Thankfully they were in a truck, and were able to drive through most of it, but it made them 30 minutes late for their 8:00pm appointment!  Our area was the only area that was impacted by the floods, so it is all good now. But apparently it was crazy for them, and there were dudes out in pool floaties and all sorts of crazy stuff, but I missed all of it!!

With my two Mission Presidents...
President Hermansen and President Chesnut
I love being a missionary. It is the best calling in the world! I love sharing the Gospel with everyone. I love meeting new people, and getting to know their stories and their backgrounds. I know this is HIS work and that he leads us through the Holy Ghost. I know that even those who aren't full-time missionaries can be lead by the Holy Ghost, and sometimes we just have to take that leap of faith, just like Nephi had to do when he was commanded to go and get the plates.."And I was led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do" (1 Nephi 4:6). Nephi didn't know how it was all going to turn out…if he would be killed, or if his brothers would get hurt, or what was going to happen, but he trusted in the Spirit, and everything turned out ok. I know that can be true for us…when we do what is right, it will all be ok in the end!

Have a great week everyone!!


Elder Todd
My last picture with President and Sister Hermansen
The Hermansens and their last 4 assistants
Fireworks in Sparks
Watching the fireworks with Elder White 
4th of July!
It was hot the other day
Elder Johnson and his companion, Elder Leon -
who is a STUD from Mexico!
Barely speaks any English, but he is awesome. 

Driving to the East side of the mission.
It's a SUPER boring drive, as you can see from the pics below: