Week 62 - Traveling to Elko and Yelling in My Sleep

November 22, 2015

The Holy Deserts of Nevada - haha!
Good evening everyone!! I am sure that you are wondering why I am on my email right now….since it’s Sunday night instead of Monday.  We actually just drove across the Holy Deserts of Nevada and got here in Elko tonight, and we got permission to email tonight because we won't have a P-day this week. So here I am.

But it has been a great week!!  We had 3 of our 4 zone conferences, with our last one tomorrow here in Elko. Each one has been such a total blast, and I have learned so much from each one.  It is great! 

The Sparks and Quincy Zone Conference
I mentioned last week that our conferences were on Chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel and the 4th missionary talk, and it has been awesome. Elder Ash and I have given our portion of the meetings about what it means to be a successful missionary and how to teach with power and authority and what it means to teach with power and authority. Preach My Gospel tells us that our success is measured by our commitment to teach and invite others to come unto Christ, so we also talked about what it means to be committed. Elder Ash is a great missionary and is really good at giving trainings, so it has been lots of fun to get up there with him and work with the different zones. This round of zone conferences has been a lot different than the first round, because this round we are doing combined zone conferences – with at least two zones each conference.  And tomorrow we have the 3 zones on the east side coming together here in Elko. So each conference has been a bigger group, which has its pros and cons. It is always fun to get together and see other missionaries and play games and converse with them, but it is also fun to work with them on a more individual basis. With these bigger groups they can tend to be a little bit rowdier, too. But nonetheless, we love attending these meetings and seeing all the missionaries in the mission!

The infamous space heater in our room
This past week we finally were able to get our hands on a little space heater to put upstairs by our beds, because our heater downstairs works great, but there is like no way for the air to get upstairs, so the upstairs is usually about 10 degrees cooler than the downstairs. But we finally got our hands on one and set it up between our beds. I guess it works just a little too well, because the other night apparently I woke up and yelled, "It's so DAGGUM HOT up here, TURN IT OFF!!" while I was slapping the ground around the heater trying to find the heater to turn it off. I had no recollection of this happening, but in the morning Elder Ash asked me, "How did you sleep?" and "We're you warm enough?" and I answered "I slept great, and yeah I was plenty warm, how ‘bout yourself?" And then he explained to me. Elder Ash is a good sport. I never knew that I was such a loud, reckless sleeper...all of my companions have told me funny stories along those lines...many of which I yelled in Spanish, so most of my companions can't even understand what’s going on – haha!

Another funny experience happened today at church: In the middle of Sacrament meeting these two kids of a recent convert got up and starting running around and yelling in the chapel during the middle of a talk! It drew the attention of just about the whole room, and the chapel is funny shaped, so they were standing right in the middle. And then the little girl yelled at her brother, "NO! I need to go to the bathroom, too!" and then shoved her brother into one of the pews and took off running. It was quite comical, but then again they weren't my kids running around. But certainly one to remember.

Our crazy schedule
This transfer is actually totally CRAZY for us, and beginning today for the next three weeks, we don't have a single day without something going on, except for Sundays!  I won't have a p-day this week, but instead we are doing 4 exchanges and have a zone conference tomorrow, and then Thanksgiving right in the middle of the week! (Which we are way excited for…to have a turkey bowl with the Sparks zone, and then dinner with an awesome family in the ward!) So it will be a whirlwind the next few weeks, but we are excited for all of it.

President Chesnut was bouncing the idea around with me last transfer of putting another set of missionaries in our ward and splitting our area, and then having us travel more around the mission and work more with the missionaries and proselyte less. This probably won't happen this transfer, but the transfer in February we have to open up at least 2 new areas, and so we have talked about doing it then. So we will see, I think it would be exciting to do some more traveling and get to know the other missionaries better, but that would also mean that I would get to do less of what I love to do the most, which is teach the Gospel!  So we will see what we end up choosing and what the Lord wants.

Next week we will have Elder Snow come and visit our mission and have a mission tour and we are super excited for that! And then we also got word from President Chesnut two days ago that President Robbins of the presidency of the seventy has asked to come on another mission tour at the beginning of January, so we have a hunch that he is coming to introduce iPads to the mission...but we aren't sure yet. We are going to ask President Chesnut tomorrow and see if he knows anything about iPads yet, but that would be exciting if we did.

Exchanges with Elder Cruz
Our proselyting area really seems to take a hit when we are busy with zone conferences and everything else. It seems as though all of our solid investigators who are progressing slowly just come to a halt when we get super busy...and it stinks!! I wish so badly that we could keep up our area while we are attending all of these meetings. But oh well, it teaches us that we really need to rely on the Lord to bless our area while we are away from it, work as hard as we can when we are working in our area, and pray and expect miracles! 

Not only does our proselyting area take a hit when we aren't working, I feel as though I personally take a hit, too, because I don't get the chance to study! It’s become like my favorite part of the day, and it really is a huge blessing that I kinda take for granted until I don't have it! But one thing that I did learn this week in studies, however comes from the Bible Dictionary under the topic of faith. It tells us: "strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness."

So we can gain faith by simply just being obedient, and as we practice those good works, our faith grows. But then it also tells us that, "faith always moves its possessor to some kind of physical and mental action" –  so once we have faith, that faith inspires us to have better works. So it’s this weird thing that faith grows by our works, but our works grow our faith. It produces this cycle that grows our faith stronger and stronger. The opposite is also true, if we stop doing small things to grow our faith, then our faith slowly decreases. Satan knows this and tries to tell us it’s OK to miss just one week of church, or that it’s OK if we don't say our prayers. So the only way to get faith or to grow it is to just start somewhere, jump in, and give it a try. This can be something simple such as saying a prayer, attending church, opening the scriptures...nothing too crazy, it doesn't take rocket science to grow one's faith. 

Well – I have to wrap it up, we are going to plan our day for tomorrow and then catch some sleep! We have zone conference tomorrow and then we are going on splits with the Zone Leaders here in Elko. It should be a great day!

I love being a missionary. I love being a representative of my Savior Jesus Christ. I know without a doubt that this is HIS church and HIS work. I know that His gospel blesses families, and I know that I want my future family to be blessed by that Gospel.

I love you guys!


Elder Todd

Week 61 - "Are You True?" (and a few confessions from my senior year!)

Making transfer calls with the Zone Leaders
November 16, 2015

It snowed the night before transfers - and caused the
power to go out at the mission office and church
It is definitely winter here in Nevada! The colder weather has settled in, and we’ve had 2 snowstorms already!! It's great…I love the snow!  And so does Elder Ash. He is from Canada,  so he loves it more than I do.  It’s fun when it is snowing, and everyone gets excited around here. What's the weather like back at home, any sign of winter yet there?

I want to give a special birthday shout-out to my wonderful mother, who is still very young and hip and awesome. But I am SO grateful for her and all that she has done for me. I wouldn't be here on my mission now without her. I am so grateful for the example that she gives me and to everyone around her of how to live a life centered around the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I can't imagine my life with out my Mother. I love you Mom!!

At the airport picking up the Greenies
Our first snow of the season happened to come on transfer night, so we woke up Tuesday morning (transfer day) with 3 or 4 inches of snow on the ground, and we had no power at the mission office or any of the surrounding church buildings. So of course everyone went into freak-out mode and we were about ready to move the whole transfer day to the other end of Reno. There were many prayers said that it would work out, and of course it did...while we were at the airport picking up the Greenies, we got word that the power was back on, and everything was good to go. So we witnessed a huge miracle with that one. 

Our vehicle temporarily
But other than that, transfers went very smooth!  It was a whirlwind – as it always is, and it seems like we are always out way late the day of transfers. This time, after the transfer meeting, we had to go and load up the trailer with a bunch of furniture to send to Elko on the usual van run.  So that took a while, but it was fun. We got to drive the van and trailer in the snow, and that that was lots of fun too!

All this snow reminds me...
I have a confession to make about a snowy night
when I was a senior in high school (hehehe!)
I have to pause and confess a small sin that I committed during winter of my senior year: One snow night we went over to Salar's house and I finally convinced Dad to let me take my little car to his house for the night as long as we didn't go anywhere but to his house and back. This was the case until later that night when we were invited to go sledding with some girls. It was the 5 of us guys and three girls that lived on the other side of Lansdowne. We decided to take my car and all 8 of us crammed into the tiny car to go sledding. It was a ton of fun, and we were sliding all over the place on the roads (no one else was on them) but I felt guilty after having agreed to NOT take the car anywhere. So anyways a night for me to remember, and hopefully this doesn't ruin the chances for MJ to take the car out into the snow...

Updating phones and computers
But back to missionary work: this week has been quite crazy like usual, with the finalizing of transfers and everything. We spent Wednesday and Thursday mostly in the office updating the computers and phones after the transfer. We also had an MLC meeting on Friday, and we invited all of the District Leaders to attend as well. It was a huge meeting, with about 50 of our leaders in the mission present. We had the whole mission presidency present as well, and it was a GREAT meeting.
Doing office work the day after transfers
For a portion of the time we split the
group up into Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders, and then the District Leaders. Elder Ash and I trained each group on what their responsibilities are. We have lots of new, young leaders and nobody ever received any training on what their
new role is. So we explained to them what is expected of them, and with each group we discussed the talk "Jesus: The Perfect Leader" with them (fantastic talk by the way..) but it was lots of fun. Then each member of the mission presidency took some time and trained us. President Chesnut trained us on a new theme he has kinda adopted of, "Are you true?" He heard the line from some talk a general authority gave, and he wants us all to be true to ourselves, our families, and most importantly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, including the covenants we make with God. It was a great training, and he had each of us dig into the scriptures to find an example of someone who is true...and of course, there are TONS of examples. It was a great discussion.

Elder Freeman and I teaching at MLC
President Perry, the 1st counselor in the Mission Presidency trained on faith. Sounds pretty basic, but he is a total scripture guru, and can take any scripture story or topic to the next level. He gave a powerful training on faith, and what it means to truly have faith, and how we can develop faith. He also talked about how and why it is that sometimes we think we have all the faith in the world, but things don't happen as we hope and then we get frustrated. This topic hit home for me because many times I have fasted for something, and then we go out and work our tail ends off, but nothing happens, and it can get frustrating at times. But President Perry told us his personal experience of losing his wife. About 11 years ago his wife developed a cold that wouldn't go away, and turned into bronchitis. Her health deteriorated and she went to the hospital. She was there for a few days, and it didn't improve. He began fasting for her health, and then eventually got their children and extended family fasting on behalf of his wife. Many priesthood blessings were given to her, and her name was on many temple prayer rolls. Yet 11 years ago Friday, (the day of MLC) she still passed away. It was very powerful, and many people were very emotional as he explained that he had all the faith in the world, combined with his family members and not to mention the temple prayer rolls...yet she still passed away. It was a great example to me of how we need to still press on, even when things don't happen the way we want them to, even when our desires are righteous and we want it with all of our heart – God still has his will. This life-changing event did not stop President Perry, however. He is a total stud and I am jealous of his gospel and scriptural knowledge. For many, an experience like this would weaken one's faith, and cause them to doubt and question everything they know, including their own testimony. But this was not the case with President Perry, this experience only made him stronger. It was a phenomenal training. 

Elder Freeman and I with the Bells - an office couple
who go home next month
Though I have learned a ton on my mission, I am still struggling with some of my weaknesses that I had before my mission...I still have a bad habit of leaving the milk out after I use it – haha! All of my companions have noticed it and it probably drives them crazy, but for some darn reason I can't figure out how to put it back when I am done. I am also still a champion for putting the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. So I still have lots to learn, but thankfully I still have lots of time to improve!! 

Saying goodbye to Elder Freeman
This transfer we are jam-packed with transfers, transfer planning, zone conferences, MLCs, the Elder Snow mission tour, and exchanges with the Zone Leaders. We are so busy, in fact that we have to forego some p-days! So next Monday I will not be on my email, but our P-day was rescheduled to Wednesday. And the following week I won't really have a P-day, but I am hoping to send a quick email to everyone with a brief overview. Then the last week of the transfer I should be back on a normal schedule. Just FYI so no one freaks out when they don't get an email from me.

Tomorrow we start our zone conferences and I am so excited. We are doing them differently this transfer.  We are doubling up, so we will have 2 zones attending each conference. Tomorrow we have Carson City and Fallon, Wednesday we have Reno and Reno North, then Thursday we have Sparks and Quincy, and then next Monday we have Elko, Winnemucca and Ely all combined. So it should be lots of fun. We have lots of new greenies in our mission,  so we have decided to focus on Chapter 1 of Preach My Gospel, "My Purpose" – just getting down to the "why" of all that we do. It should be a good round of conferences. We are training on what it means to be a successful missionary, and how to teach and use our Power and Authority that we were given when we were set apart. 

Elder Ash says Hello.

Anyways, I am out of time, but I hope all is well back at home. I love being a missionary, and I love my companion Elder Ash. We are having a total blast together; I can't wait to train with him at these upcoming zone conferences and to work with him for the next little while. 

The Church is truer than ever!


Elder Todd

Week 60 - The Three Musketeers!!

The three of us...Elder Ash, Elder Freeman, and I
November 9, 2015
Hey guys!!

This has been a GREAT week. The cold weather is settling in, and the mountains all around us have snow on them, it is awesome!! I love snow-covered mountains, especially when I can go skiing on them!! (That will have to wait until next year.)  Tonight we are supposed to get a few inches of snow, so everyone in town here has been freaking out and stuff, it causes lots of excitement!

With my new companion, Elder Ash
(We will have Elder Freeman with us for just one week)
But the biggest news of the week is that I have a new companion, Elder Ash!! He arrived in from Elko on Wednesday, and helped us plan for the upcoming transfer. He is a total STUD. I love him to death already. He is so innovative and wants to be exactly obedient and work hard and love life and that's all I can ask for in a companion! He is from Cardston, Alberta, Canada and grew up on a 10,000 acre farm driving tractors and trailers all over the place, so we have the same passions. I can't wait to get to work with him and baptize the whole city of Sparks!!

Hot Cocoa on a snowy night
So all week, Elder Freeman and I were in a trio with Elder Ash, which has been way fun. Trios are sometimes a pain because when we go into lessons, it feels like we are bringing this huge crew, especially if we have another member or two with us. But it is also a ton of fun, especially when both of my companions are great missionaries. Tomorrow after the transfer meeting, Elder Freeman will go with his new companion, Elder Corry, to Carson City to be a Zone Leader there, and then Elder Ash and I will just be in a regular companionship. We are stoked for this upcoming transfer because we have Zone Conferences again, as well as the re-scheduled Elder Snow tour, so we will be doing lots of driving and traveling the mission.

Transfer planning in the office all week
This week of transfer planning has been lots of fun, as usual, but it has also been the hardest transfer for us. We made TONS of changes, and it will be the biggest transfer in a while. But we were completely stumped on some missionaries. It is always so tough, because we want to give every missionary in this mission a good, strong, companion who is obedient and has the desire to be a missionary, but it is just not possible. So we have to consider many different concerns, and look at things from many different
We were stumped!!
(Prayer is always the answer when you're stumped)
angles. This was the first time that we were really stumped, and all 4 of us (President, Elder Ash, Elder Freeman, and I) were just staring at the board for hours with three or four missionaries in mind. And then we would arrange it and then the next day we would come in and not feel comfortable with it and switch it all again. President Chestnut has really taught me how to listen to the Spirit for promptings when it comes to this kinda thing. We would often be stumped, so we get on our knees and pray and then we would all just sit and and "study it out in our minds" and then we would discuss the first things that popped into our heads.

Elder Ash and I with President Chestnut
It was really cool in one situation we had a missionary who has been struggling to find his purpose, and has off and on said that he wants to go home. So we were praying about where to put him, and we all prayed and afterwards President asked us what we thought, and the 3 of us young missionaries all had the exact same thought... to double transfer him with a great missionary who is a solo Zone Leader of a small zone. (A double transfer is when both missionaries are new to an area.  Usually, we keep at least one missionary in an area, so they are familiar with things.) President wasn't too fond of the idea at first, because he hates double transfers, but because all of three of us Elders had the same idea, we went with that idea. It’s cool to see the Holy Ghost work on all of us, and even though we might not all get the exact same idea in some cases, we would talk about possible ideas and that would prompt other ideas and so on until we feel comfortable with the situation. We always joke that we wish Heavenly Father would give us an audible "bing" when we put two missionaries together where they need to be... that would make our lives much easier! But he doesn't, so we have to learn to listen to the Spirit and to follow our first impressions and promptings when they come. It has been fun to work with President so much. He is really a funny guy and we have lots of fun together while we sit in his office all week.

Tomorrow is transfer day, and like I mentioned earlier we made a bunch of changes throughout the whole mission. Part of the reason we are doing that is so that next transfer, which will be a week before Christmas, we don't have to make so many changes. This transfer was actually made a week short, because we were originally scheduled to have a transfer on December 22nd, but Church headquarters changed it to a week before. So this transfer is 5 weeks, and next transfer will be 7 weeks. But I am excited for tomorrow, it is always an exciting day. We are only getting 9 new missionaries (the smallest since my first transfer as an Assistant) tomorrow, and sending only 2 home. So despite the small numbers coming in and going out, practically the whole mission is changing.

I mentioned a scripture earlier that has been on my mind a lot, the scripture is Doctrine and Covenants 9:8-9:

"But, behold, I say unto you, that you must study it out in your mind; then you must ask me if it be right, and if it is right I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you; therefore, you shall feel that it is right. But if it be not right you shall have no such feelings, but you shall have a stupor of thought that shall cause you to forget the thing which is wrong; therefore, you cannot write that which is sacred save it be give you from me." 

Last few days with Elder Freeman
This scripture has been on my mind a lot with transfers and different things, and it really is great guidance the Lord gives us when we have any big decision to make…whether it be what school to go to, what to study, where to live, what job to accept, or who to marry. As we transfer plan we are choosing where these missionaries will spend the next 6 weeks of their life, and I don't want to mess it up! So I'm grateful for the guidance that the Lord has given us, because we spend LOTS of time studying out different scenarios in our mind.

After we get the transfer board arranged and we feel comfortable with it, then we begin creating the plans on how to get everyone to their new destination... and the whole time they must remain with another missionary, so no one can be by themselves. It would be nice if we could tell everyone to just drive or catch a cab to their new
area, but it doesn't quite work like that. We have the iMOS system, which is the mission office computer program that tells us everything we need to know about our missionaries, and it is connected with Salt Lake, so when we get another missionary assigned to our mission, they pop up in the iMOS system. It is pretty cool system, actually, because it simplifies a lot of the reports we create, and it is very handy when it comes to updating our cell phones after the transfer, and putting everyone's new phone number and address into our cell phones and President's cell phone. It has a transfer board online, too, so we first fix the physical transfer board in President's office, and then we go online and make them match. Then after we assign the greenies to their trainer, we hit finalize in iMOS and it begins the new transfer. It’s a pretty nifty system that the Church has come out with.

Anyways, that's all for this week! I love you guys! The Church is true, and it blesses lives each and everyday.

Have a great week!

Elder Todd