Week 45 - Exchanges, Stolen Bag, and Laughter is the Best Medicine

At the temple with Elder Han and Laura
July 27, 2015

Hey everyone!!!

How is life in Utah?? It sounds like you guys are having all sorts of fun in Utah, going to "Pops’ Party" and everything…without me!! It sounds like it was a total blast!!! Ukuleles and everything!!  Please send tons of pictures and everything, so I can at least get a little taste of what’s going.

This past week has been a lot of fun. On Tuesday night, I got to go to the temple and do baptisms with Laura Lopez, who was baptized back when I was serving in Sun Valley. Juan wasn't able to go, because he got tied up at work and didn't make it home in time. But I went with Elder Han, who took my place when I left Sun Valley.  (He is now a Zone Leader in Sparks and is serving in the Sun Valley English ward.)  So he and I went to the temple with the Sun Valley Ward youth group, and Laura joined us. We drove up to the temple with Brother Noble and Laura, Elder Han and I. She loved it. I was able to do confirmations for the first time for all the youth and Laura, and Elder Han and I did Laura's in Spanish – which was super cool. But then again, who doesn't like going to the temple?!?!  It’s awesome!

With the Fallon ZL's - Elders Bramall and Cruz
On Friday and Saturday, Elder Freeman and I actually left Sparks.  We spent Friday in Fallon with the Zone Leaders there, and then drove to Carson City and spent Saturday with the Zone Leaders there. It was a lot of fun to go and spend a day in those zones and get to know the rest of the mission. Fallon is a really cool place, and please tell the Gardners that I finally had the chance to check it out!!  It is just a small town in the middle of the Nevada desert…and it’s actually relatively green!!  It is called the "Oasis of Nevada" which is totally accurate! It’s just a big farm town, and then there’s also a big Navy base in Fallon, with all sorts of planes and jets flying around all day.  There are 6 wards in Fallon, with three church buildings, and the church is super strong! The ZLs there live literally right next door to the church, like their front door is the closest door to the church possible, aside from the people that live below them. But Elders Cruz and Bramall are doing great. I learned so much from each of them!! Elder Cruz was my first district leader my first transfer.  They are great.

With Elder Gea
Then we drove to Carson City and spent the day with Elders Gea and Johnson! Elder Johnson was in Sun Valley with me, and Elder Gea was in Sparks when I was here the first time, so we know each other fairly well, and we had a blast with them. I spent the day with Elder Gea and we had so much fun together. He is a native Spanish speaker so I got to speak Spanish all day with him, and that was super fun. 

It is weird because usually the missionaries called to serve as Assistants to the President are supposed to be like the best two missionaries in the mission, but that is totally not the case with me!  There are so many missionaries who have way more experience and are better teachers and work harder than I do, and I am so grateful for the chance that I have to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, because they are all STUDS and I learn a ton from each one. I am very lucky!

At the end of our exchange in Carson City, we had to hurry home because President wanted to meet with us, and we are pretty sure that Elder Freeman left his bag on the trunk of our car, and when we drove off – we think it fell off the car. We got home that night and couldn't find it, so we freaked out. Especially him, because it had EVERYthing important in it, including his flash drive which had all his pictures from the first 18 months of his mission, his electronic journal, his scriptures and preach my gospel, his study journal with all his notes, his wallet with credit cards and license and everything. And we know it was picked up and used because the credit cards were used the following morning. So he has been pretty bummed, and so have I! But he is slowly coming to terms with the fact that it is gone, and is starting to get over it. But super sad experience!! 

With my homie Elder Johnson
We have had the chance to do some proselyting work in our ward back in Sparks, and the work is moving along. It has slowed down since the other two companions left, obviously, but things are moving forward. Teresa, who I’ve mentioned before is doing well. She has committed to never smoke again, and she has been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy!! Like at least one chapter a day, if not more, which is always a sign of progression and desire. She has a hard time reading and comprehending what she has read, but she told us that she loves to read because of the Spirit that she feels when she reads. She told us that she feels like nothing can stop her after she reads and she is super happy. She is excited to be baptized so that she can have this feeling with her always!! It has been neat to work with Teresa, because she comes from a rough background. She has three children, but doesn't know where any of them are, and is living in this tiny apartment in a bad part of town with two guys who aren’t very nice.  Everyone around her smokes and drinks and is obnoxious. But since we have begun teaching her, she said everything has changed. She is going to be moving out on her own so she can study the scriptures more and feel the spirit. She loves church and everything. She has also begun attending the ARP (Addiction Recovery Program) meetings and she enjoys those. We are very excited with the direction she is heading, and if she doesn't smoke again then she will be baptized in 2 weeks, on August 8th. 

Elder Bramall, Elder Cruz, and me
So the other morning I was just kind of having a rough time and I couldn't feel the Spirit.  I was having a hard time focusing on my studies, and I was just upset about something else. So I prayed that I could feel the Spirit and that I could focus and everything. Elder Freeman and I started our companionship study, but I wasn't feeling much better – and it felt like Elder Freeman felt the same. Then it occurred to me that I hadn't laughed all morning – and therefore neither of us had laughed all morning. So I decided to tell Freeman about how in the middle of the night I had to use the bathroom, and so I went downstairs to the bathroom and sat down on the toilet...but I forgot to put the seat down!!! And so we all know how that goes! Needless to say I woke up at that moment, and I don't recommend just sitting on the bowl itself with the seat up, UNLESS you are still 99% asleep and you need to wake up for some reason, then it comes in handy. We both cracked up at the memory/thought of that, and I learned that Heavenly Father wants us to joke and have fun and laugh and smile, because after that our studies were great and we had a great day, and I was able to come out of my slump. So don't be a "Johnny Raincloud" (name that movie!) But SMILE everyone and be of good cheer. The gospel is true.

Our entire mission has been focusing on Prayer – including our personal prayers, companionship prayers, and how we can help our investigators pray, too. I am so grateful for prayer. I have been trying to make my prayers less repetitive, and instead make them more meaningful and more pertinent to the time and day that I say them, rather than asking for the same things day after day. Prayer is essential. It is the communication between us and our Father in Heaven, and we can tell him whatever we want. He is there and I know that he listens to every single prayer that is said, whether it be a short, 5-second prayer out of despair, or a long, personal, prayer at night before bed. Elder Freeman made the great analogy that when in a war, one of the enemy's first goals is to somehow shut down communication for the other side, because this messes and slows everything down. The same is true with our Father in Heaven and with Satan. Satan knows that prayer is our communication with the Lord, and he also knows that as soon as we stop communicating with him, the worse off we will be, and that makes him happy. I love the scripture in D&C 10:5: "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror; yea, that you may conquer Satan, and that you may escape the hands of the servants of Satan that do uphold his work." I know that when we have those daily, heartfelt prayers, we can truly conquer Satan. There is no obstacle too big or trial too hard that cannot be overcome with prayer. 

Have a great week everyone!! I love you guys!! Don't have too much fun at home without me.


Elder Richman Dawg

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