Week 57 - Fall is Here!!

Exchanges with Elder Corry -
who's from OAKTON, VA!!
October 19, 2015
Hello everyone!!

Fall is here, finally!  At least here in Reno. This was the first week that it finally got cooler...so we had to call our gas company to come and turn on our gas because we needed our heater!! And then our heater turns on randomly by itself sometimes, and we come home and its smoking hot in our house...sometimes you just can't win. But I think that we've figured it out! But I love this season....with the leaves changing colors and the cool air at night, and the football games....oh wait...that doesn't apply to me....maybe next year!

With my comp - Elder Freeman
We had another great week! This week the work picked up a bunch and we were able to have some good lessons and find some new people to teach. The Sunday before Conference we had our fast Sunday, and Elder Freeman and I fasted that we would find a family of 4 to add to our teaching pool within the next 3 weeks. We set out working hard to find that family, and the first 2 weeks went by without any new families. Then this past week we got a referral from the Spanish missionaries that cover our area, and so we went and followed up with the referral...and lo and behold, a family of SIX that want us to come back and learn more. We were so pumped. I'm going to be honest...I was beginning to lose hope that the family wouldn't come, and that maybe we were doing something wrong. But that was not the case.   The Lord answered our prayer and our fast! I got the idea to fast from the Elders that taught the Ocampos...because they did the same thing, and were blessed with the Ocampo family! And I tried it in Cold Springs, and we found 7 families to teach the last transfer that I was there. And now, it worked again! I have a testimony of fasting with a specific purpose and goal. We asked the Lord to bless us with the family within the first three weeks of the transfer. We found them 2 and a half weeks into the transfer....coincidence...? I think NOT!

With Elder Bramall
I had the opportunity and privilege to return to Cold Springs again for the day, this time with Elder Bramall. Because it has been about 6 months since I served there, much has changed, and so I took him around and introduced him to some of the families that Elder Krey and I found and began to work with, but for some reason just didn't turn out. We were able to set up a bunch of appointments with those families for the elders there now to go back and teach them!  Elder Bramall is awesome. I also went on exchanges with Elder Corry, who is from the Oakton Stake, and he came to Sparks with me. We had a fun day together and went to the hospital a few times to give blessings, which is always a neat experience.

Our Jeep Compass
In my studies, I am in Helaman right now.  There is some great stuff in there (like the rest of the Book of Mormon!)  I find it so interesting that in the early chapters of Helaman, the Nephites fall off the deep end and their cities are destroyed by the Lamanites.  Chapter 4, verse 11 tells us about their loss and that it"...would not have happened had it not been for their wickedness."  This line reminded me of the vehicle training that was given at the most recent zone conferences, that talked about how obedience gives us protection. When we live the commandments, we are blessed. Later in that chapter, verse 15 says, "and inasmuch as they (the wicked Nephites) did repent they did begin to prosper." So it's really not rocket science on how to be successful...it says in the scriptures, "Inasmuch as you keep my commandments, you will prosper in the land" or something along those lines...a bunch of times!! Nephi and Lehi went to work to try and help these Nephites repent – and those who did, saw the blessings that come from it.

While I was in Cold Springs on Friday, we went and taught a less-active member a lesson. She was baptized as a young girl in Fallon, NV but then she said she was active for "20 minutes" after she was baptized...and never had much of a testimony or liked the church at all. She grew older and went to college and got caught up in the partying crowd and did drugs, got tattoos, and piercings all over her body, and went down that path. Then about a year ago, some missionaries were walking in Sparks, and stopped her on the street and asked her if they could come by and teach her. She agreed, and gave them her information. The referral was sent to Cold Springs, and the Elders at the time tried a few times to contact her, but had no success.

When I went back on exchanges in July, we happened to be in her neighborhood and we decided to try her again, because she was still on our list of referrals. We knocked on her door, and she opened up her front door, but not the security screen. She told us that she wasn't wearing any clothes, and now wasn't a good time, (awkward but funny experience...I've never been so grateful for security screens!!) but we left her a card and told her to call us...thinking that she would probably never call, because 99% of people never do. However, a few weeks later, she did call the elders and asked them to come back. So Elder Krey and Elder Moore began teaching her and she fell in love with the gospel. She became SUPER active, and stopped drinking and smoking and began reading the Book of Mormon with real intent, and came back to church. She was doing great.

Then, about 2 weeks ago, she decided to make her own Halloween costume.  She had set aside an hour each night to read her book of Mormon, because that’s when her child was in bed and she had some quiet time. She decided to use that time to make her costume instead, and that it would only be a day or two without reading the Book of Mormon, and that wouldn't do any damage. So she went a few days without reading the Book of Mormon and made her costume. Well, a few days after not reading, her non-member husband offered her a drink of alcohol, and she accepted, and ended up getting wasted drunk. She asked the Elders not to come over the next day, and didn't come to church that week.

The Elders came by a few days later, on Tuesday, and they had a brief lesson with her, but she just wasn't feeling the Spirit. She told them what had happened, and the Elders just told her to start reading again. The next day, Wednesday, two members from the ward stopped by randomly to check in on her, and it was a HUGE answer to her prayers.
Wearing gowns to give a blessing
to someone at the hospital
She had been praying that day to know if the church was really the right path for her. She took their visit as an answer to her prayer, so she started reading again, and on Friday, two days later, I stopped by with Elder Bramall and we had a great lesson with her. She had read a bunch the day before, and was eager to get to church again. She explained to us how easy it was for her to slowly slip away from the Church, and let doubts creep into her mind and be tempted. All it took for her to stop her spiritual progression was to stop reading the Book of Mormon for just a FEW days...not even a whole week, just a few times, and then one thing led to another and she had tons of doubts and wasn't happy.

Elevator selfie
That's one thing I remember her telling us...that while she slipped for about a week or so, she just wasn't happy!! And she tried everything that usually makes her happy, but because she wasn't reading consistently from the Book of Mormon, there was something missing. What a great lesson this is to all of us. Satan is good at what he does, and he tries to deceive us the slightest bit to get us to fall...like telling ourselves we will be okay without the Book of Mormon for a few days. This is just how easy the Nephites fell...they just slowly let their pride get the best of them, and stopped living the commandments. Then the Lamanites were able to come and take over their cities. We cannot let Satan and his servants come into our lives and take over...we must constantly build up our personal defense walls by reading from the scriptures daily, going to church regularly, and having fervent, personal, prayer with our Father in Heaven at least twice a day. As we do those things, other doubts and trials might come into our lives, but if we have a strong defense that is built upon the rock of the Gospel, we will be able to withstand it all. I am grateful for my parents for providing a firm, gospel-centered, foundation upon which I can build my own.

View of Sparks from the hospital elevator
Well, that is all for this week. Teresa is doing great…she didn't move, but she has quit cigarettes! She called while I was on exchanges and told Elder Freeman that she threw up after smoking one, and never wants to touch another one again...so she is going three days strong now!! She really wants to move, and actually found a place to move away from her boyfriend, but she just doesn't have the money to pay for two weeks rent...so she has to wait until the beginning of the month to get her money, and then she is planning on moving ASAP. We haven't seen Lavanda for a whole week, and so we are going to push her baptism back a few weeks to get her really ready.

Love you all!!

Elder Richmandawg

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