The Best Two Years

Saying goodbye to my family at Dulles Airport
September 17, 2014
Dulles Airport once again...returning from my two-year mission!

September 17, 2016

Well, I can’t believe its over. Two years ago, I said goodbye to my family and stepped on a plane headed to Mexico City. I knew it would be hard, I knew it would be long, but I also knew it was the right decision. What I didn’t know was that it would be the best experience of my life thus far.

Serving a mission has changed my life forever. It has given me a foundation upon which I can build the rest of my life. I was blessed to go to the great state of Nevada and put the Savior’s name on my chest and serve him for two years.

A mission is really an incredible thing. The Lord takes all of us 18, 19, 20, and 21 year olds in arguably the time of our life when we are the most selfish. When we leave home we are very self-centered. Everything is about me, how can I benefit from this, how is this going to help me? He takes us in our selfish condition and accepts us how we are. He throws us into the mission and puts us in a position where we can think about anyone and everyone but ourselves. We have no room to even think twice about ourselves. We are asked to get up early and work hard all day, and do it day after day. And it’s all for others…the people of Nevada, the members of the church, our companions, and of course, Jesus Christ.

What does this do for us? Well it teaches us humility for sure…we learn quick that we can’t do this without God. I am the type of person who likes to work hard and see instant results. But in the mission field, you can work hard and knock on every single door in Reno and have very minimal success. But as soon as you involve the Lord through prayer, miracles happen…and you don’t need to knock on every single door in Nevada. The same is true for life out of the mission, as well. All of us can be more humble and rely on the Lord more. Whether it be with school and the many tests and projects we have, at work and the stress that comes from work, with our families and the many different trials that arise as a family, or anything else, we ALL need to rely on Him more.

I can sit here all day and list many things that I learned in the past two years, but when it comes down to it, it is all about Jesus Christ. This is HIS church and HIS gospel that we teach and practice. He loves us so incredibly much, and I know that He loves us. We all go through times in our lives when we want to give up and we think that we can’t do it. We fall to our knees and cry out in despair, and our loving Savior stands next to us with open arms and offers a helping hand. Christ wants us to lean on him and he asks us to do so. He invites us, “Follow me” and “come unto me” and he wants us to take those invitations seriously.

I know that Jesus Christ lives. I know that he loves us. This is His gospel and He stands at the head of the church and directs it. I have gained this testimony through the power of the Holy Ghost. I know that we can know the truth of all things through the influence of the Holy Ghost. The Book of Mormon teaches us these truths and I have gained a spiritual confirmation that it is true. Because the Book of Mormon is true, I know that everything else is.

I am not perfect, and I did not serve a perfect mission, but I am grateful that the Lord accepted me in my weaknesses and allowed me to serve Him for the last two years. I wouldn’t trade the experiences I had for anything, and I pray that I can take what I’ve learned and move forward. Thank you all for following me and supporting me while I was away, I couldn’t do it without you. I hope and pray that each and every one of you can come to the same joy that I have found in living the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Please feel free to reach out to me and say hello, my cell phone number is 571-420-7023.

I love you guys!


Richie Todd

Week 100: The Last One

With the Coto Family after their baptism on Saturday!

August 15, 2016
Hello everyone!!

Well folks, as the subject line says, this will be my last email home as a full-time representative of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It still hasn't hit me, and I don't think it will until I am on the airplane.

I am truly overcome with emotions as I reflect back upon the past two years and all of the miracles, memories, and experiences that I have had. I wouldn't trade them for anything. 

All eight dressed in white
That being said, I couldn't have asked to end my mission on a better note. On Saturday, August 13th at 1pm the Coto family was baptized into the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It was an exciting and very spiritual service. The room was packed with people from the branch and others who came to support the Cotos.  Seeing their family dressed in white was an experience that I will never forget. I had the privilege of baptizing the father of the family, and Presidente Castiblanco baptized the mother. My two companions each baptized one of the daughters. We then all confirmed them on Sunday in sacrament meeting. The Spirit was so strong in the service…Hermana Coto was emotional throughout the whole thing.

Hermano Coto and me before the baptism
There were a few people in the congregation who didn't speak Spanish (including the Stake President and President and Sister Chesnut who came to support us!) and it was interesting to hear their thoughts afterwards. They said that though they couldn't understand a lot of what was going on, the Spirit of what was being said carried it to their hearts and they knew what was going on. One English member commented to some other missionaries the next day, "I went to a baptism yesterday of a family of 4 and it was so incredible! I couldn't understand anything but the Spirit was so fantastically strong!"

With Presidente Castiblanco
I know that the Spirit is manifest when the Priesthood of God is used worthily and righteously. The Spirit testified to me in the service that Heavenly Father was pleased with their decision to get baptized, and that they were doing exactly what he wanted. I can't put into words how blessed I have been to know the Coto family and be a part of their first few steps on their journey in the Gospel. I plan to come back in a year and attend their sealing when they enter into a temple of God and are sealed for time and all eternity. We did a temple tour with them the night before the baptism and it was cool to see them get excited for coming back. Hermana Coto said that she had already picked out her dress for when they get sealed...!!!

La Familia Vasquez-Trigeros
We also had two lessons this past week with Alicia!! She is so funny. We have gotten to know her better and she is really a funny person. They have a great family and will be great members of the church one day. We had a family home evening set up with them on Tuesday and they showed up 30 minutes late, but we were still able to share a short message with them. Then we met again on Thursday and it was basically a question and answer session with Alicia and her husband, Isidrio. They still have not given us their address, but we accidently came across where they lived. I found out the street that they lived on but it is a long street and we had no idea where, but then last night we were driving down that street and I recognized their car and their little daughter was playing outside. So we found them!!! They still aren't comfortable with having us over to their house, so we are going to play it by ear. We might "accidently" go tracting right down their street sometime. 

Teaching the Restoration with Elder Lyman
I know that this Gospel is true. I have spent two years studying it, living it, and inviting others to live it, and I know that it is real. Jesus Christ directs his Church, and this is His Gospel. I have had the privilege to wear His name on my chest for the past two years and it has blessed my life and changed it forever. Even though we spend lots of time talking about scriptures, commandments, prophets, baptism, faith, and all that good stuff, at the core of all of it is our Savior. It is all about Him. He lives. He loves us. He lived a perfect life and died for us, for our sins and mistakes, but also for our sorrows, pains, and temptations. He rose three days after his Crucifixion. He is real. One of my favorite scriptures about the Savior is in the New Testament:

With Jose (Mileishka's brother)
"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich."

He did everything he did for the rest of us. It is now our responsibility to accept Him AND follow him. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. 

I am so grateful for the opportunity that my Father in Heaven has given me to come and serve for two years here in the Holy Deserts of Nevada. I have loved my mission and I will be eternally grateful for the people that I have met and the experiences that I have had. I am not perfect, and I have made many mistakes, but my mission means everything to me. Thank you to all who have supported me in your prayers, your thoughts, your letters and your packages, I love you all!

I'll see you on Thursday!!

Elder Todd

The District together at the temple
The Chavez Brothers
Hermano Carrasco
Hermano Caballero
Three (Spanish) Musketeers before the baptism
I made apple puff pancakes for all of us on the morning
of the baptism
The Zone together at the temple
The Wanlass Family!
My Reno!

Week 99 - Fill up the Font!

With Hermano Chavez
August 8, 2016
Howdy from the great state of Nevada!!

This week was the annual “Hot August Nights” event, where people come from all over the US and bring the antique autos to show off. So there was tons of traffic all over Reno and tons of sweet antique cars driving everywhere. It’s a fun vibe.

What do you get when you put a Mexican, a Peruvian, and an American together in a trio....? Straight MIRACLES! The life of a trio is nonstop fun. Although trios can kind of be hard at times to teach and take care of normal missionary tasks (such as putting three bikes on a bike rack vs. two bikes is a BIG difference...), they sure are a lot of fun. This week has been another week full of good things going on. 

Soooooo…the big news is that the entire Coto family will be baptized this Saturday at 1pm, including Hermano Coto!!!!! Our prayers and fasts have been answered. We went over to their house on Monday night for a lesson and they told us, "we have some exciting news for you!" And then Hermano Coto said, "All four of us are going to be baptized on August 13th as a family." My companions and I about jumped out of our pants!! We were pumped!! They came to an English baptism on Saturday night and then afterwards they all had their interviews. They are super excited. Thanks to everyone for all of your prayers for them, this truly has been a miracle.

Noche de Hogar (Family Night)
with the Coto and Castiblanco families
Everyone in the Spanish branch is super pumped.  They haven't had a whole family get baptized in forever, so the entire branch has been rallying around the family and supporting them super well. They are already part of the branch family…Hermana Coto went and helped clean the Bishop's storehouse the other day, and Hermano Coto went and played soccer with a bunch of the other men in the branch. The two girls love church so much they told us that they want everyday to be Sunday so they can go. They are on fire! Their cousin, Jose, will not be baptized with the family due to a few small hiccups, but he still loves the church and has been reading from the Book of Mormon. He told us in one of our lessons that this is what he has been looking for. 

We had a family home evening with the Coto's and Presidente Castiblanco and his family last night at the Castiblanco's home and it was a lot of fun. Doing gospel-related things with other people is just a total party. The Spirit was strong, and they commited to start doing FHE on their own. 

This past week I went on exchanges with Elder Lyman again, and I went with him to his area, which is the YSA ward in Reno. We went and did some street contacting on UNR campus again, and it was weird because in just a few weeks I will be on the other side of things. But we had a lot of fun together. Serving in YSA is awesome, because we are teaching people that are our age! So it is a lot easier to relate to them than someone who is 40 years older than you and grew up in Mexico. But that’s ok, the Spirit makes up the difference in those situations. 

My boy Arturo
Francisco is doing well. We still teach him regularly and he still tells us every lesson that he wants to get baptized, but he still works Sundays. It will probably be a little while before he is actually baptized, but maybe when he does get baptized that will give me a good excuse to go back to Reno and visit.

We are all set to have another FHE with Alicia and her family tomorrow with another family! She still comes to church and has been reading the Book of Mormon like crazy, but she still isn't comfortable with giving us her address! It is so funny because every Sunday she comes to church and asks us like a million questions and we always say to her, "Well we'd love to come by sometime this week and answer all of your questions and teach you more!" And she always says, "Ok let me talk with my husband and I'll call you." But she is really a great lady and has a great family. They will also be solid members in the future. 

Today I was studying the topic of charity, and what charity really means. Twice in the scriptures it tells us what charity is, in Moroni 7 and 1 Corinthians 13.

It tells us that, " suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail." (Moroni 7:45-46.)

After reading this, I think it can really help us determine what we can get better at. I know for myself there are times when I envy a lot, or when I get puffed up and seek my own. However, when we struggle to have charity for someone or in general, in verse 48 it tells us what we need to do to get that charity, "pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ."

So when we lack that charity that we all want, we can pray to God and ask for it with real intent, and then we are told that we will be filled with more of Christ's love. I can certainly have more charity, and so this week I am going to strive to be more charitable and loving. Thankfully, Jesus Christ always loves us with His perfect, endless love. So even when we fall short, he still cares about us and wants us to succeed. 

I love you guys, and I know that this Gospel is true.


Elder Todd