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!

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