Week 52 - Wildfires in California = Smoke in Nevada

With the Quincy Zone Leaders
September 14, 2015
Hey guys!!

Howdy from the great & smoky town of Sparks, Nevada! Due to the big fires in California, our valley here in Nevada is just gross and filled with smoke. It is pretty bad and a lot of people are complaining about it, but oh well, the work goes on! 

TBT...with my district at the Mexico City
Missionary Training Center one year ago!!!
WOW can you believe that this week it will have been a year since I said good bye to everyone and stepped foot on the plane to Mexico?!? How LOCO!!!! Time flies!! The past 12 months have hands down been the best 12 months of my life. My testimony has been strengthened and in the wake of my stronger conversion, I have been able to see others come closer to Christ as well. It has just been great!! I look forward to another great 12 months, and I hope and pray to not waste a single minute of it!!

Downtown Fallon
We had two more Zone Conferences this past week! So 5 down…4 to go. We have 9 Zones in our mission; they are the Quincy, Carson City, Reno, Reno North, Sparks, Fallon, Elko, Ely, and Winnemucca zones. They are split up by area of course, and they each cover about one stake per zone.  We have 11 stakes here in our mission, two in the Fallon Zone and two in the Elko zone. But aside from those, it is just one stake per zone. It has been so much fun to drive around and get to know each zone and of course, more importantly, the missionaries in each zone. It is awesome!! 

This week we had ZCs in Fallon and then Carson City, and then we took a break from ZCs because President Chesnut had a Mission President Seminar to attend in Las Vegas. So while he was gone, Elder Freeman and I had the opportunity to
My boy Elder Nieves!
go on 3 exchanges back to back! We have 6 exchanges to do with the 6 zones here on the West side of the missions, and between zone conferences and transfer-planning, it is hard to find time to do them! But we first went with Carson City, and I had the chance to spend a day with Elder Nieves...who is one of my closest friends here on the mission. We lived together back in the Sparks Loft my first two transfers and it was fun to finally have the chance to work together for a day...he is a STUD. He is a great missionary. We had a blast together. 

Then as soon as we switched back from our exchange in Carson, Elder Freeman and I drove up to Susanville, CA where the Quincy ZLs are serving, and we blitzed their area for a day, which was fun. I spent the day with Elder Cruz, who is hilarious. We have great zone leaders.

Exchanges with Elder Wheeler
Then we drove straight from Susanville to Fernley, where we met the Fallon ZLs and we did an exchange with them. I spent the day with Elder Wheeler who is a newer Zone Leader, but he is doing great. He is a Spanish missionary, so that's always fun for me to speak and pray in Spanish. 

Friday night we drove back into Sparks around 7 p.m. and it was a beautiful night with clear skies (before the smoke rolled in the next day!)  We live right next to Sparks High School….annndddd there was a football game going on.  I had instant flashbacks to those Friday nights 2+ years ago, and it made me miss those nights so much!!!! Just hearing the band play and the loudspeaker and the crowd cheer...it made me realize how much I love and miss high school football. 

Spent the day with Elder Cruz
Elder Nieves and I had to take a missionary to the airport on Thursday morning who is going home a year early. He has struggled with anxiety and a little bit of depression on his mission and off and on has wanted to go home...but his parents are going through an ugly divorce right now and it was the last straw for him.  He was just begging to go home. It was sad to see it happen, and of course we don't want any missionaries to go home early from their mission, but it made me realize how truly blessed I am to have the support from my family back at home. I have no doubt in my mind that I have the best two parents this earth has ever seen!! I am so grateful for their examples and their testimonies and everything they have sacrificed on my behalf. I can't imagine serving my mission when there is turmoil and unhappiness back at home, it would make it so hard!! So thank you Mom and Dad, I love you guys! I can only hope that I can be half the parent that you guys are, and raise my family with the blessings that come from living the Gospel and being obedient to the Lord's commandments.

The Navy's Bomb-drop test center, where
they practice bombing things...outside of Fallon
So I am about half way through reading the Book of Mormon right now in my personal study, and this is honestly the first time in my life that I feel like I am actually learning and understanding it. I have probably read the Book of Mormon 10 times in my life, both in my personal study as well as our family scripture study, but I am actually understanding and remembering the stories and the principles...I love it!! I am so grateful for the hour I have each day to study on my own, because I know that I won't always have a full hour to just study the gospel. I also have been studying in Preach My Gospel daily, and right now I am studying faith. Hebrews 11 is a great chapter in the Bible that gives some great example of prophets from the bible who were faithful and had to do many hard things.

I love the example of Abraham and Isaac....because Abraham is a faithful dude. All he wants is to have a son, and he finally gets his son, Isaac, and then the Lord commands him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice...I mean that must have been SO tough. But Abraham was faithful and did what he was asked to do, and then in the end at the last second he was told that he no longer needed to do that. But I have always thought that is a great example of doing what the Lord asks and being obedient. I also like verses 25 and 26 in Hebrews 11,

"Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt"

That is a powerful statement and great advice. I know that as we choose to seek after Christ instead of the treasures of the world and sin, that we will be blessed immensely. Maybe we won't even be blessed in this life, but I know that we will be blessed in the next life if we do everything we can to keep the commandments and follow the prophet who leads us.

Well this week we have the last 4 conferences, starting with Winnemucca tomorrow. We are getting up early tomorrow to drive up there and back in the same day. On Wednesday, we have the Reno Zone, Thursday we have Sparks, and then on Friday we finish them up with Reno North. Then next week we start transfer planning and preparing for the next transfer...we have at least 21 new missionaries coming, with maybe a few more visa waiters or temple square sisters. So it will be another crazy transfer, but we are excited. 

I love you guys! I really do. I am so grateful for your love and support and prayers, I couldn't do it without them. Have a great week!!


Elder Todd

Week 51 - Zone Conferences, Annual Rib Cook-Off, and Teaching a 91-year-old Baptist Minister

On the way to the  Zone Conference in Ely, NV

September 7, 2015
Hey everyone! 

Well, one week of school for you is in the books, and one week of Zone Conferences for us is in the books. It sounds like Riverside High School was actually all up and ready to go by Week 1 after all...can you guys send me some pictures of the new school/field? I'm sure it’s a nice school. But it sounds like life is good and crazy as always back at home...is today the Annual Ward Picnic?? Those were always fun.

Quincy Zone Conference
This past week we had the great opportunity to travel across the mission and do our first three Zone Conferences! We went from the Northwest corner of our mission in Susanville, California and then back down to Reno for MLC (Mission Leadership Conference) and then we drove to the Southeast corner of the mission in Ely, Nevada which is a tiny town with a tiny zone of only 8 missionaries! And then we drove to the Northeast corner of the mission to the Elko zone, and then Saturday night we drove home just in time for church the next day. So 3 Zones down, 6 to go!

I absolutely love driving around and doing Zone Conferences. It is so fun to meet with all of the missionaries and get to know them better. I feel like there are many missionaries that I don't know well, but going to each individual Zone Conference gives us the chance to get to know them all and work with them for a day in the meetings. 

Long and straight road...Route 50
We sure did our fair share of driving though. And we survived America's loneliest highway…Route 50! And man, I know what they mean by the loneliest highway!  It is just long and straight – and there is nothing for 98% of it....just tons of sagebrush. It is a five-hour drive to Ely, 3 more hours from Ely to Elko, and then 4.5 hours from Elko to Sparks. So we have done plenty of driving the past few days! We drove the mission's Silverado pick-up truck and it is just like the Suburban back home, which is fun. But it was cool because as we stopped at the TINY towns along route 50, like Austin, NV and
There are only 13 parking spaces at the
tiny church building in Austin, NV!!!
Eureka, NV – each town had a tiny church building in it. I was talking to the gas station worker in Austin, NV where we made a quick bathroom break…he wasn't a member, but he was telling us how someone from the town was just called to serve a mission in Japan! And it was big news for everyone because the town is so small and tight-knit. It's really cool to see those tiny churches and know that the church is the same no matter where you go!

These Zone Conferences have been centered on our Savior Jesus Christ. The Zone Leaders have each been asked to train on Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, which is the Christ-like attribute chapter, and then President and Sister Chesnut, and Elder Freeman and I have each been training on the Atonement and how we can apply it to our own lives, such that we can help those we teach apply it in their lives. Each of the three conferences thus far have been great revelatory experiences that have strengthened my testimony of the power of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The Spirit has been so strong in each of our meetings, and every time the Spirit confirmed to me of the undeniable truthfulness of the Gospel. I am so grateful for the Atonement. It allows each of us to get better and better. It can redeem us from our mistakes, and push us through our trials. I know that as we all apply the Atonement more and more in our lives that we will see more joy and peace. I love the "Because of Him" video from Easter 2014. It is a great message, that truly because of Christ, our regret can become relief, our despair becomes hope, and our guilt becomes peace. We have been sharing that video to close up our remarks in each conference, and every time it is tough to not get emotional! I am so excited to do 6 more conferences and have 6 more testimony-building experiences!  Here is the video if you're interested in watching it:

Tomorrow we are going to get up early and drive to Fallon for the Fallon Zone Conference, and then Wednesday we will have the Carson City Zone Conference. Then President Chesnut has a Mission President Seminar so we take a break for 4 days, and then next week we finish them all up with Winnemucca, Reno, Reno North, and Sparks. I am super excited!!

More Route 50
This past week we have been totally blessed. The Lord blessed us with a very prepared investigator!! We were referred to a woman, so we called her and set up an appointment, and she lives in a 5th wheel camping trailer, but her trailer is SUPER nice…it feels like a 5-star hotel inside of it.  So we show up and we weren't sure if she was a member or not, but we asked her and her response was, "Not yet!"  When we heard that we were like SWEET! She is a widow who is struggling with depression, and is going through a rough time in her life, she just lost her job, and her son just went to jail and her husband passed away...everything seems to be going wrong, but she is begging to learn more about the church. She accepted the baptismal invitation right away and went to a baptism with the Beutler's while we were out of town. She didn't come to church yesterday, because she has arthritis and the mornings are really tough on her. So we are going to work on helping her get the faith and the strength to come to church. But we are really excited about her.  We have dinner with her and the Beutlers tonight. Her name is Lavanda. The work has kinda been slowing down, and all of our really golden people have just fizzled into nothing, which has been tough, especially because we have been busy with zone conferences now. But we have been fasting and praying to find new people to teach, and Lavanda is certainly an answer to our prayers!!

Eating the Porkinator at the Annual Rib Cook-Off
Sparks is a happening place this time of year. I talked about Hot August nights a few weeks ago, and now this past week we have the Annual Rib Cook-off going on about 4 blocks from where we live. It is this huge deal where BBQ places from all over the U.S. come and set up shop and sell ribs and pulled pork for about 5 days, and of course there are judges and everything for who can have the best ribs. The event as a whole goes through 106 TONS of ribs during these 5 days...is that enough ribs or what??? But the whole town of Sparks has been smelling like delicious ribs....needless to say Fast Sunday yesterday was tough because we walked out of church at noon and for the next 5 hours until we had our dinner appointment we just kept smelling these delicious ribs and BBQ!!! But Elder Freeman and I went to the rib cook off for lunch on Thursday before we left for our drive to Ely, and we got a "Porkinator" from one business, and it was DELICOUS!! It was a HUGE pulled pork sandwich topped with Ham and bacon and pepper jack cheese. Not the most healthy item there were selling, but it was so good.

Small but beautiful church in Ruby Valley, NV
I think I mentioned this last week but Elder Freeman and I both spoke in Sacrament meeting last Sunday, and we didn't know this, but a 91-year old Baptist minister was sitting in the crowd listening. We greeted him before the meeting but we didn't know who he was.  He just told us that he was stopping by on his way out of town.  I spoke on the power of the Book of Mormon, and Elder Freeman spoke on missionary work, and it was perfect!!  The minister stayed for sunday school and Elder Beutler took him out into a separate classroom and basically answered his questions and taught him the basic beliefs we have. He told Elder Beutler that he loves the way he feels while at the LDS church, and that's why whenever he travels he goes to a Mormon church instead of another Baptist church. But he also said that he isn't interested in getting baptized. Pretty cool, huh?? Literally we never know who is watching and listening.

Great Plains of Nevada
I love the scripture in Matthew 11:28-30...

"Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light."  

It is so powerful and so true. I know that as we take all of our burdens, whether they are big or small to the Lord, we can be relieved and uplifted. I have felt that in my life as a missionary. There are times when I am really tired or frustrated, and I know that I just have to turn it all over to him and let him carry me.

I love you guys!!  Thanks for all of your love and support; I couldn't do it without you!  Have a great week!  The Church is true.  I know it is.


Elder Todd
Hey - the next stop is Salt Lake City!!
Driving to Zone Conferences

We almost crashed...just kidding!

Week 50 - Zone Conferences Start Tomorrow

Elder Jetton got his appendix out!!
Now we have matching scars...
(with Elder Han and Elder Freeman)
August 31, 2015
Hey everyone!

I can't believe that school is starting!  That is so crazy. I can't believe that it’s that time of the year again! I feel like everyone was just heading off to school LAST year, and I was heading off to work at the Luck Stone Center!  And glad to hear the Huskies are off to a winning start! 

So sadly, Elder Snow got the flu and had to cancel his mission tour...:(   But he wants to reschedule, so President Chesnut is going to find a few free days where we can reschedule it. So this week wasn't as eventful as we thought it was going to be.  But instead I had the chance to go on exchanges with Elder Baker again, in the Reno Zone! We went on exchanges back when I was a Zone Leader and he was a district leader, and now he is a Zone Leader in Reno. It was a total blast.  Those guys are the only ZL’s that cover a Spanish Area, so I got to teach some awesome lessons in Spanish!! 

Wearing the "If You're Cool, You're Cool"
shirt to celebrate my Grandpa Doug's
70th Birthday
This past week has been rough for our area in the Prater Ward...we had a SUPER solid Mom and her son text us and drop us. It is truly devastating when people tell us they are no longer interested...it breaks our hearts.  First of all, because we work with them and develop a relationship with them – and truly come to love them!   But also because we know what blessings they are giving up. It totally bums us out! Satan has really been trying to get us down before we go and do zone conferences with lots of little things like that. But we will conquer Satan! 

I am SO excited to go and do zone conferences this week! This week will be crazy...tomorrow we drive to Susanville, CA and have our first Zone Conference with the Quincy zone. Then we come back and on Wednesday we have MLC (Mission Leadership Conference).  On Thursday, we do the 6-hour drive to Ely for the Ely ZC on Friday, and then we drive to Elko on Friday night for the Elko ZC on Saturday. On Saturday night, we’ll drive home and go to church on Sunday here at the Prater Ward. So this week will be crazy, but we are excited. The focus for the conferences is on the Atonement and on Chapter 6 of Preach My Gospel, which is “Christlike Attributes.” So we should have some great conferences!!

Well, I don't have much time today…sorry for the short email, but I love you guys! This past week, we have been working with a few missionaries who want to go home because their families back at home aren't supportive at all, and in some cases, want their missionary to come home. This obviously makes it super hard on the missionary here. It makes me SO grateful for you guys, and the support you give me. Not many other missionaries get regular mail from their siblings, it is awesome!!! I love you guys!!

Have a great week! The church is true, I know it is. I wish I had some more time to share a few brief experiences about how I know it is true this week, but they will have to wait until next week.


Elder Todd

Elder Kidman fit under the cabinet!