Week 48 - Transfer Planning, Pizza Dinner, and Appreciating the Sacrament

Driving around in the van and trailer this morning
to open up new apartments and such

August 17, 2015
Hello everyone!!

How is everything back at home?? How are the fall sports going?? Sounds like we have a family of full of runners and I am the odd one out! I need to start running more, so I can keep up when I get home.

Well, like the subject line suggests, tomorrow is transfer day!! I can't believe it, I feel like transfers are like every 6 days instead of every 6 weeks. This past transfer went crazy fast. We spent the past week mostly in President's office, making arrangements and setting everything up for the upcoming transfer. The last two transfers we were
The lunch room in the mission office
shutting down areas and combining them, and now this transfer we are opening up 6 new areas, and closing one area that was just not productive at all. So it has been a different ball game, we have had to find new apartments, and figure out who we need to take a car away from, because we now have less cars than we do areas. We have also had to find 20 new trainers, and so we have some missionaries who are opening up a new area and training a new missionary at the same time, which is always a little harder. Elder Rivera had to do the same thing when he trained me, he came from the Elko side of the mission and we opened up a new area together. So it has been a good week. I have absolutely loved working with President Chesnut and the chance that it has given me to get to know him better. It turns out that President and Sister Chesnut love to play tennis, so I told him that one of these P-days we will have to go and play. (Hopefully I'm not too rusty that I embarrass myself...!) 

Transfer planning
It has been such a neat experience to help plan for transfers. It took us about 3 days to figure out what areas to open, and all the new companionships, and who is training and so on and so forth, and then it took us about 2 days to make all the plans for the transfer, like all the specific instructions and figuring out the car exchanges and housing issues. And then on Friday we found out that one missionary who was a visa waiter assigned to our mission got his visa, so we had to make a bunch of changes. And then over the weekend we found out that two different members who were housing missionaries basically kicked the missionaries out, so now we have to find more housing, and sadly we have a really bad mission-wide bedbug problem, which never helps either!! And then about an hour ago we found out that we lost one more missionary, so we might have to make some more changes...it just never ends. But honestly it is fun and it is cool to see the Lord's hand in all of it – like we first had the board all set up and everyone matched up, but President Chesnut came in the next day and said, "ya know guys, I just don't feel good about a few companionships, we need to make a few changes." So we changed a few things and now we all feel good about it. 

Sister Allred's dinner she set up for us!!
We didn't have much time to proselyte this past week, but we made the most of it. We had a really cool thing happen this past week…a single sister in the ward signed up to feed us dinner, but then last minute she got called in to work at the temple. She called in and ordered pizza for us, and had her neighbor come over and eat pizza with us, and it was so much fun! She set it up perfectly, because not too long ago she gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon and so we were able to follow up on that and establish our purpose with him, and set up a return appointment with him. It turns out that his daughter is a member of the church, and he has had a chance to attend Sacrament meeting many times in the past! So we are excited about him.

Teresa is still doing well. It is funny because she loves the church and loves us and wants to be baptized, but she just can't find a place to move into! She is living in a really rough part of town and her roommates are a terrible influence on her, so we have been praying that she will be able to find a new place to move to. 

The mission office
This upcoming transfer should be a lot of fun. For starters, in 10 days we will have a mission tour with Elder Snow (a member of the 70) and we are going to be traveling across the mission with him for 2 days. Then at the beginning of September we will be having our first round of zone conferences!! I am super excited for those, to really get to interact with all the missionaries in our mission, and get to know those that I don't. It should be a fun transfer.

So we have been struggling to get investigators and less active members to church lately. It is an ongoing struggle that missionaries have, and aside from Teresa, really no one has come to church in a while. So we have been teaching many people the doctrine behind the Sacrament, because we all know that "if any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine…" or in other words, "Doctrine Understood is Doctrine Lived."  We know that once people truly come to understand the doctrine behind the importance of coming to church and taking the sacrament, they will instinctively come to church. What better way to do that, then to read from the Book of Mormon, right??  3 Nephi 18 is a great chapter that gives us the commandment to partake of the Sacrament...Verse 12: “I give unto you a commandment that ye shall do these things (talking about partaking of the Sacrament) and if ye shall always do these things blessed are ye, for ye are built upon my rock.”  Wow!!  Pretty powerful stuff.  Most people we read this with are always pretty shocked that taking the sacrament is a commandment, not just a suggestion or a bright idea.

My home for the past week - haha!
(The mission office)
I am so grateful for the chance that we have to partake WEEKLY of the Sacrament. What a huge blessing it is. I know I take it for granted way too much, and I often just take the little bread and water and pass it on without really realizing what I am doing. I know that we can truly renew our covenants with our Father in Heaven as we partake of the bread and water. I know that it is an extremely sacred ordinance and we should not take it for granted or take it lightly. 

That's all I have time for today, but I hope that everyone has a great week!! The mission is great. I am loving every minute of it! 

I love you guys!


Elder Todd

Week 47 - Antique Car Show, Transfer Planning, and Learning About the Atonement of Jesus Christ

"Hot August Nights" Car Show...just imagine this
times like 1000 all over Sparks and Reno!
August 10, 2015
Hey guys!!

How's it going?? Everyone ready for school almost? School here just started today! How is Cross Country treating Nathan and MJ? Major props to them because I could NEVER do XC...!! Is it still humid as heck back there?? Because it is still dry as ever here!

Almonds for DAYSS!!
On the calendar that you sent to me at the beginning of the year, for the month of August is a bunch of pictures from our Europe trip, and that was such a fun trip!! I totally forgot that I had fallen asleep in the middle of whatever little city that was, but if that wasn't evidence that I was tired, I don't know what was! And then it was one year ago today I gave my farewell address in sacrament meeting and we had a big luncheon afterwards...time flies, huh?!

Mom, thanks for the almonds!! We were in the office when the mail arrived, and the almonds came in this huge box, and so I was trying to figure out what on earth it was. I was not at all expecting 6 cans of almonds haha!!  But they are a fun treat. Except my companion that morning had told me that he was not going to snack at all from then on, and in the little note that came with the almonds Mom said, "Happy Snacking!" So that kinda ruined his goal of no snacking, it was pretty funny. 

With my Virginia Bro...Elder Han!
I know I say this every week, but...another great week here in Sparks!! Because it really was. We had the chance to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders here in the Sparks zone on Wednesday, so that meant I got to go and spend a day in Sun Valley again!!! It was English speaking, but it was fun to go back and work on my old stomping grounds...and it's different in the summer!! But still
the same old Sun Valley! I had the chance to stop by a few of the old people I worked with, including Juan and Laura! They are doing well. Laura is rock solid, she is awesome. Their son Adrian just turned 8 years old, and I think Juan feels lots of pressure to baptize him, but when I was there on Wednesday he told me that he wanted me to baptize him, because I baptized Juan and Laura.  Personally I would LOVE to see Juan baptize Adrian, so we will see.  But I spent the day with ELDER HAN!!!! Virginia bros, wahooo!!! It was a ton of fun to spend the day with him, he is a great missionary and a ton of fun to be around. We had a great day together.

This past week our area has been flooded with old antique cars, because it’s been "Hot August Nights" which is like this HUGE deal where people drive in from all over the country with their antique car and drive it around town. They had an official "Cruise Route" where they blocked off traffic for this never-ending parade of antique cars and they could drive through Sparks...right through our area down Victorian Avenue!! So all week there have been cool antique cars driving around Sparks, and then in the evenings the
cruise route was blocked off and people were every where!!  We didn't spend much time at all checking out the cars, but in the evenings they had awesome events like Drag Races and such, so I definitely want to come back some day during Hot August Nights and actually get the chance to check it out!! I uploaded a few pictures of some of the cars, but these cars were actually really cool...all different shapes and sizes and ages! The only requirement of driving your car down the cruise route was that it was at least
25 years old, so 99% of the cars were really well kept up and fancy, but then every now and then you would see a car drive by that was just super old, and had not been kept up like the rest of them haha!

On Saturday, we started planning for the next transfer...which is one week from tomorrow! And this is going to be a CRAZY transfer. We got 17 new missionaries last transfer, and we have 22 coming this transfer, so we will have lots of missionaries being trained!  It’s good but also hard, because that means we need to find 22 more trainers!!  So we have been thinking a lot about who could train, because that’s the first thing we look at when we start planning. We also have to open up 6 new areas, because we have a net gain of 12 missionaries this transfer. So that means we have to find new housing for all of them and get that all set up. We  worked on it for about 4-5 hours on Saturday, but we didn't get very far! So we have our work cut out for us this week. It has been crazy the number of phone calls and requests we have gotten regarding where missionaries want to be transferred to, or if they don't want to be transferred...and each time Elder Freeman and I just sing them our new favorite hymn..."I'll go where you want me to go"...haha!!!

At the temple with Teresa and the Beutlers
Teresa is doing well. She has not completely stopped smoking, but it’s like one cigarette every-other day now. We have finally found a place for her to move in to, and we are hoping that she will be able to move here in the next few days. The current situation isn’t great.  But she has been spending lots of time around missionaries – between us and the Beutlers. The Beutlers are like the mission cooks, and so for MLC on Friday they cooked lunch for us, and they had Teresa come and help them. She loved it, and she loves being around the church, we just have to get her to quit smoking! We took her to the temple, and she is really excited to go in, and so we are hoping that the temple will help motivate her to stop smoking. Please keep her in your prayers as well.

In my personal study of the Book of Mormon, I have finished Mosiah and have moved onto Alma, but I have grown to truly love the book of Mosiah, it is such a great book!! So many great stories and lessons to be learned from that book. I especially love King Benjamin and the great address he gives to his people. One of my favorite scriptures from his discourse is Mosiah 3:7…

"And lo, he shall suffer temptations, and pain of body, hunger, thirst, and fatigue, even more than man can suffer, except it be unto death; for behold, blood cometh from every pore, so great shall be his anguish for the wickedness and the abominations of his people."

I love this scripture because it teaches us that the atoning sacrifice of our Savior does not just cover our sins, it covers much more. It covers every weakness, pain, hardship, and trial that we go
Reno Temple at night
through. What a marvelous gift! Most of the people we are surrounded by do not understand that. Most people kinda understand that because of Jesus Christ, our sins can be forgiven. But they don't understand that it is much, much more than that. I am so incredibly grateful for the Atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. I know that as we go to church and partake of the Sacrament, we can truly access the power that it offers to us, both the atoning power and the enabling power. 

Well that's all for this week! I uploaded quite a few pictures, hope you enjoy! I love and miss you all!!


Elder Todd
With Elder Ash at MLC
(Mission Leadership Conference)
With Elder Kidman and Wheeler in Reno
A member's boat and truck!! (Dad...are you taking notes??)
Goofin' off with Elder NIEVES!!!!
Elder Cox
Freeman and I with Teresa at the temple 
Freeman and I with Elder Buetler
With the Beutlers at the temple
(The awesome couple who serve
in the ward with us.)
Doing yard work service with the awesome young men in our ward

Week 46 - Teaching English to the Hispanic People

Hiking on P-Day with the Sparks Zone
August 3, 2015
Hey guys!

How is it going?? How were all the trips? From last week it sounds like everyone was having a blast out here in the West!! 

With Elder Krey and Elder Moore
in Cold Springs!!!
Here in Nevada things are pretty much the same, nothing too crazy going down. But this past week we had the chance to go on exchanges with the Reno North and Reno Zone Leaders, which was WAY fun. Especially the Reno North Zone, because that's my old area and zone!! So even though I am not supposed to have a favorite zone, that zone is secretly my favorite haha...But it was a ton of fun. We did them back-to-back on Friday and Saturday again. Friday we spent the day with Elders Krey and Moore in Cold Springs, and it was way fun. I spent most of the day with Elder Krey, and we had SO much fun!!  It was like a throw-back day. Old companion in an old area. The only thing that is different is that they don't live in the trailer!! But oh well. Unfortunately most of the families that we found while I was serving there didn't turn into anything, but they have found some new people that they are working with. We also had dinner with the Davis family. (They are the family that sent pictures a few times after we had dinner in the past.)  It was fun to see them again. After dinner, we had a spiritual message on temples, and it was SUPER powerful. Sister Davis is a convert to the church, and the only member in her immediate family (her uncle is also a member).  She told us about an amazing experience she had while in the temple, which was awesome to hear about.

Sparks-Reno area
Then on Saturday, we spent the day with the Reno ZLs, and it was fun because they cover an English ward and part of a Spanish branch, so we split up and I spent the day with Elder Wheeler in the Spanish area! So I got to teach some lessons in Spanish which was way fun. For the first time in a few months, I really missed serving in a Spanish area!! I had kinda forgotten what it was like, and how great the Hispanic people are.  They are so much fun to work with!  The Elders there have an interesting area because they cover downtown Reno, so it’s a crazy place with never a dull moment! 

Both sets of Elders in Reno and Reno North are doing great, and just like last week, I have come to the conclusion that I have so much to learn from all of them!! 

Sunset over Reno, NV
We have started an interesting thing, where we are trying to do more service for the local community in the Reno-Sparks area. This has been up and coming for months, like back in April, President Hermansen started stressing service and how he wants us to do 6-8 hours of service each week. So one of the counselors in the mission presidency, President Perry, hooked us up with a volunteer ESL program where we teach English to people here in the area!  There are tons of people in the area that want to learn English, so we have started to teach them. We work for free, of course, but it is really weird, because we go into these people's homes and we aren't allowed to talk about the Gospel unless they ask us!  Honestly, it is quite hard to not talk about it, because that’s all I have done for the past 10 months. We just go in there and most of them only want to talk in English, so we talk about random things and have conversations. We also have a workbook to work from, but most of what they want is just to practice speaking!  
Me and Elder Freeman
Something we don't do as missionaries is just 
"hang-out". We never go in and just talk and converse, maybe for the first few minutes, but then we have to stay focused on our purpose to invite others to come unto Christ. But with these people we are literally supposed to talk with them about whatever!!  Thankfully, people have asked us about who we are, and we are able to jump on that and talk to them about the Gospel. It is also hard for me because I am just dying to speak to these people in Spanish!! But the only way to learn is to immerse them in English.  One girl we are teaching barely knows any English, so I do a lot of translating for her – which is fun. One talent that I have kind of been blessed with by nature of serving as a Spanish missionary in the United States, is that I can switch between Spanish and English pretty easily. Obviously my Spanish has gotten worse, but hopefully with this new program of teaching English to Hispanic people, I can get at least a little practice!!

My Study Corner in our apartment
So President Chesnut is finally getting settled. He completed his first round of personal interviews with the whole mission, and he was really looking forward to doing that because now he knows each missionary personally…how they are doing with their companion, what area they serve in, and all that good stuff. Until this point, he hasn't really gotten to know the missionaries.  President Chesnut likes to delegate a lot of the small issues and things to the leaders around the mission.  He served as an Assistant when he was on his mission, and he told us that he didn't even proselyte or have an area that he covered. He spent almost all of his time in the office – had his own office, and worked with just the missionaries and those that were struggling. They also took care of the office stuff like the finances and the vehicles and those things, because they didn't have office missionaries. So I think that as time goes on we will actually begin working more with the missionaries and less with the investigators. Which in some ways will be a bummer, but whatever he needs us to do, that's what we'll do.

Elder Twitchell came back to visit us...
it was weird seeing him in civilian clothes!
I get the feeling that he wants us to travel to the East side of the mission more often because he always talks about how much the missionaries out east love seeing us (the Assistants and the President).  So I think in the future we might go and spend time out there and go on exchanges with the East side Zone Leaders. Right now we have a set of "Zone Leader Trainers" that are the more experienced Zone Leaders out East, and they conduct exchanges with the other two sets of Zone Leaders that are out on the East side, in the Winnemucca and Ely Zones. Pres. Chesnut has been meeting with us quite regularly to give us updates about what is going on in the mission, and to ask us questions about our different policies regarding random things. Missionaries have been trying to take advantage of him a little bit while he’s new – and hope that he just doesn't know some of the rules.  But we spread the word mission-wide that not a single policy has changed with the new President, and so people have stopped asking him all those questions.  We will be joining him for the first round of Zone Conferences, and get to travel across the mission, but those don't start until next month.

The Truth!!
Well, for my scripture of the week I want to share Mosiah 28:3…

"Now they were desirous that salvation should be declared to every creature, for they could not bear that any human soul should perish; yea, even the very thoughts that any soul should endure endless torment did cause them to quake and tremble." 

This is such a great missionary scripture! Because the Sons of Mosiah were not good guys, in fact they were trying to ruin the Church for a time.  But they had a change of heart and all went on to be great missionaries. After their change of heart, they turned into studs and had an amazing desire to share the Gospel with everyone. It is cool to see that even people as wicked as the Sons of Mosiah were able to turn into great missionaries. That means that if they can be great missionaries, so can we!! So share the gospel with as many people as you can! Even with small opportunities, we can all be missionaries. When we realized what a wonderful gift this Gospel is, it becomes natural for us to want to share it with all of those around us. I am SO grateful for the opportunity I have to spend 24/7 doing just that!! It is great!!

I hope everyone has a great week, and I love you all!!

Elder Todd
Action shot of me falling off a rock while taking a picture