Week 53 - One Year Down...One to Go!

September 21, 2015

Howdy from Sparks! I hope that all is well back in Virginia, and that all snakes living in our garage have been exterminated for good!  That sure makes for some serious excitement!! Haha but things are great here in Nevada! We finished up our last 4 zone conferences this past week, with Winnemucca, Reno, Sparks, and Reno North, and they were fantastic!! 

First, I just want to give a shout-out to my awesome father, who just had a birthday yesterday!! Happy Birthday, Dad!!! I am very grateful for all that you have done for me and for the great example that you have given me of how to be a great father and a worthy Melchizedek Priesthood holder. I love you Dad!

Also, thanks for the fun one-year package!! I always love a big old box of junk food. Now I’m on the downhill of my mission.  But Elder Freeman told me that everyone runs faster downhill than they do uphill...which stinks because my first year went by super fast and I don’t want it to be over! :(

Sister Chestnut reading the story
about her nephew
I want to talk a little bit more about zone conferences, and what we do at each conference. We have been talking a lot about the Savior, Jesus Christ, with particular focus on Chapter 6 of “Preach My Gospel,” as well as the Atonement in general.  Each Zone Conference is about the same format, but the discussions ended up being completely different. Elder and Sister Zappe (one of the office couples) traveled with us and gave presentations on the mission cars and staying healthy, and they gave the same presentation every time. As part of Elder Zappe's training, he included a hilarious video of Elder Krey beat boxing and singing.  I want to get a copy of it and send it to you guys…maybe next week.

After the Zappe’s part, we had the Zone Leaders train for about 30-45 minutes on the "Attribute Activity" from Chapter 6 of PMG. Then Sister Chesnut read a story about her nephew that was really powerful. The story she read is on jukelohnson.blogspot.com and I recommend that you guys read it.  It is great. (Sister Chesnut's nephew is Kade Winkel in the story.)

Playing 9-Square
After Sister Chesnut’s story, we would go and play 9-sqaure, which is this really fun game that President brought from home.  We took the game to every zone conference and played with all the missionaries. There are pictures on nevadarenomission.com of us playing it.  I think that was a highlight for most of the missionaries. We then ate lunch, provided by the Stake Relief Society from each Zone (which was incredible each conference!) 

Singing at Zone Conference
After lunch, we would go back into the classroom, and President Chesnut would choose 2 or 3 missionaries to give short talks.  (All the missionaries were told beforehand to have a 5-minute talk prepared on one of the Christ-like attributes from Chapter 6.) Then Elder Freeman and I took about an hour and talked about the Atonement…we talked about what the atonement is, how we can apply it in our lives, and how we can help our investigators and others that we work with apply it in their lives as well. Then we would watch the "Because of Him" video from last Easter.

After our part was finished, President Chesnut would speak briefly on the Atonement, which was always super powerful.  And then we finished off each meeting with a testimony meeting, which is easily my favorite part. The Spirit was always so strong! 

Elder Freeman and I giving our presentation 
To give you a little more details about the specifics of the presentation that Elder Freeman and I did every time….we started each training by having one of the missionaries come up to the front and hold a small glass of water out with his or her arm straight. We would all agree that the glass wasn't very heavy, and then we would have someone hold it for like 5-10 minutes, (or until they would start shaking) and then take it away from them. We used this as an object lesson that too often in our lives we hang onto things that we just need to completely hand over to the Lord. Things like past transgressions that we haven't repented of, depression, overcoming the loss of a loved one, homesickness, physical sickness, anything and everything that causes us pain we need to turn over to the Lord. The big theme was Matthew 11:28-30, which is my favorite scripture about the atonement: 

"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." 

I love this scripture because it is so true. As we take every burden that we carry to the Lord, our burdens will be lightened. I will be forever grateful for the chance that I had to give this training NINE times, because each time the Holy Ghost bore witness to me that Christ lives, and that His Atonement is real. I have no doubt that out of all the missionaries that we trained, it was MY testimony that grew the most. For this I am so grateful. Each conference was wonderful.  We truly have the best missionaries in the world! As a missionary, we get to see a small glimpse of the Savior's love for all of his children, and I certainly know that he loves his missionaries, there is no doubt about that.

Elder Freeman and I with President Chestnut
I have loved spending lots of time with President Chesnut.  He is awesome!! We actually took him to a lesson this morning and he loved it, and so did we! It was a great lesson with a new investigator...she asked us if she could be baptized!!!  We are really excited about her.  Her name is Jackie, so please keep her in your prayers!  But President Chesnut is a great example to me of being obedient and doing whatever the Lord asks. We have 21 new missionaries coming to the mission in next week, and I remember last time we were planning transfers, we got a new missionary assigned to our mission almost every day...and each time Sister Bell, the office secretary, came in and told us, "One more for September!” – we couldn't believe it!  But never once has he complained, or anything, he just goes and does. He knows that being a mission president means spending 110% of his time dedicated to missionaries, and that is exactly what he does. I love it. He just says, "Well, I guess that means that one more ward will be blessed with their own set of missionaries!" He is great at looking for the positive in everything. He is truly a man called of God. I love him so much.

Grace asked me in a recent letter what my favorite memory of my mission has been thus far...and to be honest, that is SO hard. But I think it's a great question, so I'm going to answer it: I think my favorite memory has been working with Juan and Laura. It was so cool to be a part of their whole conversion...from the day we knocked on their door, to the day they were baptized. They hold a special place in my heart, and I love them so much!

Exchanges with Elder Cox in Cold Springs!
I got to go on exchanges in Cold Springs again on Saturday, but this time I was with Elder Cox, and Elder Krey came to sparks with Elder Freeman....and I love Cold Springs!! I really do. It is a great area, with great people in it. It is funny how smells bring back memories, because the second I stepped out of the car in Cold Springs valley and smelled the sagebrush and other things it brought back instant memories. Elder Cox is a stud, too! 

This week we start transfer planning...so in other words time, we’ll be spending lots of time at the office!! But I actually love this part of being an assistant; it is cool to see the Lord's hand in everything. So please pray that our minds will be inspired to know who we need to move and who needs to train a new missionary, and what areas to open, because we will need all the help we can get!!

I love you guys, I really do. I couldn't do it with out you guys!! I have the best family this planet has ever seen!!

His Church is true.


Elder Todd

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