Week 66 – Merry Christmas!!

Driving around the mission at Christmastime
December 21, 2015

I can't believe that it is already Christmas again...I feel like 2 weeks ago we were just celebrating it! 

The Sparks Zone
But what a fun time to be alive and celebrate our Savior's birth!! I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. Last night we had an excellent Christmas fireside that the Sparks Stake put on.  It included some testimonies, some great musical numbers, and some bible videos and the Spirit bore a powerful witness to me that the Savior lives and he loves us, and that His Atonement is real. I love Him so much.

A shout-out to my AWESOME parents, who just celebrated their 23rd year of marriage!! I am lucky to have two great parents who are unified and love one another…they are great examples to me of what I want my future marriage to be like. I love you guys!!

Also a shout-out to my SUPER talented family, who is preforming at the Washington D.C. Temple Visitor Center tonight. They are all studs and I wish I could be there tonight to be a part of the show, but I will be there in Spirit! (Plus, lets be honest, they are probably better without me haha!!!)

My "Posterity" - (L to R) Elder Vargas,
who will be trained by Elder Labrum,
who was trained by Elder Short,
who was trained by me!
But this past week has been a total blast. I did almost no proselyting which kinda stunk, but on the bright side it was a party week! Tuesday was transfer day, which is always a total party. We only got 5 new missionaries, which has been our smallest group yet, but it was still fun. My "posterity" grew a little bit, because my "son", Elder Short, trained Elder Labrum (who is my grandson) and then this transfer we called Elder Labrum to train a new missionary as well, Elder Vargas, so I now have a "Great-grandson.”  He is a native Mexican, so finally we get a little color in the family tree! But they are all great missionaries.

The West-side party
On Thursday we had a HUGE west-side party with the 6 zones on this side at the institute building in downtown Reno. There were about 120 missionaries there, and it was a total party! It was fun to see everyone and they all enjoyed it because many people don't see their friends until events like that. We played board games, the big mission-favorite 9-square game, Ping-Pong, and other games. It really was lots of fun. Then we jumped in the truck and drove out to Elko and on Friday we had another party, for the East side!  At that party, we had about 45 missionaries, and it was a lot more structured.  We had 2 Sisters take the lead and plan it out for us. But we played a lot of fun games and enjoyed the missionaries out there. 

Elder Johnson won a pair of PURPLE
shoes from the white elephant
gift exchange
We also did a little white-elephant gift exchange, which is always a lot of fun.  I gave up a roll of toilet paper and a light bulb and left with 3 CDs, so I can't complain!!  But it was way fun to spend time and just hang out with the whole mission. The parties are always something everyone looks forward to, and I know that we enjoyed ourselves as well. 

Last night Elder Ash and I decided to go and knock on this random less-active's door who we just pulled off of the ward list. We went up and he let us in, and it turns out he is super solid in the Gospel, but he currently works a night job and can't get time to come to church.  He was telling us about how back in the 90's he was a Ward Mission Leader in one of the old Sparks wards, and when he was called as a WML he went to the first meeting and all the WML's in the stake went around and shared their yearly baptismal goal. Everyone was saying oh 4 or 5 or 6, and then he came to him and he said, "36" and everyone was laughing at him, and the stake leader said that's too high, bring it down.
Get the Oreo into your mouth...
So he said ok fine 24 but that's as low as I'm going. 4 months later he came back and they went around and shared how many baptisms each ward had had since the beginning of the year, and everyone had a few and then he had 32 in the first FOUR months!! He said the whole group of people about fell off their chairs. He ended up with 65 for the year. The next two years he had about 55 baptisms each. So in 3 years he had 150+ baptisms. Now don't get me wrong, it is NOT all about the numbers, and I frankly don't care how many baptisms I have on my mission, I haven't set a goal or anything, but when he was telling us that we were getting pumped, because those are Alma-type numbers!! But it shows that it really is possible. We began asking him how he did it and what the secret is, and he gave us some ideas....but really the secret to his success is the members. When he got the members to understand their role in finding people for the missionaries to teach, then the floodgates broke loose. That is something that Elder Ash and I have been working on...because I have been in this ward for over 6 months
President Chesnut playing the Oreo game
now and we really haven't had any family fellow-shipping going on. We can find, teach, and baptize people on our own, but it just doesn't work as well when we don't get the ward's help. We have been blessed with a great ward who supports us and feeds us well, but now we are trying to get them to assist us in our finding efforts. Our area has been suffering lately as a result of all of the mission-related administrative stuff we have been doing, so we want to turn that around this transfer, because we won't have much going on this transfer. So we want to get down to work, but we want to get the ward to work, also! 

The AP's are ALWAYS serious...
Elder Ash and I are excited for Christmas this week. It is a non-proselyting day, so we are going to have a big breakfast with a bunch of Elders and then Skype with you guys, and then play games and mess around all day! It should be lots of fun. President Chesnut invited us up to his place on Christmas, so we will probably go up there and hang out with him and his family. He has two children who will be in town with their grandkids, so that will be fun.

I have come to love President and Sister Chesnut SO MUCH. Each Sunday night, we go up to his place and have a little meeting to discuss the mission and any concerns or needs, and hangout with the two of them. We love taking doctrinal or gospel questions to him and then he teaches us and opens up the scriptures and we study together. It is one of my favorite things. He is so knowledgeable and wise. He is a great role model and example in my life. I was thinking about it the other day, and I have been blessed with such great examples and role models in my life. Of course, first and foremost, my own father. Then my young mens’ leaders like Brother Decker, Brother Wheeler, Brother Gardner, Brother Hansen, Brother Linton, and my 2 bishops, Bishop Scott and Bishop Wride.  My football coaches, Coach Burnett, Coach Fortune, Coach Fletcher, Coach Miles, and Coach Fenner, and my 2 mission Presidents, President Hermansen and President Chesnut. I am SO blessed to have them all in my life.  I have learned something from each and every one of them. 

Beautiful sunset on our drive to Elko
This past week I finished the Book of Mormon, for the 2nd time on my mission. What a great book it is!! As I reflect back upon it, I honestly can't choose a favorite character or story, they are all STUDS. But I really like a verse from Moroni 7 (great chapter BTW...) where Mormon invites us that, "ye should search diligently in the light of Christ that ye may know good from evil; and if ye will lay hold upon every good thing, and condemn it not, ye certainly will be a child of Christ." And that is our goal here on Earth. We are all born with the light of Christ, and we should search diligently in it to become closer to Him, by following the commandments, serving others, and doing what we know is right. This season is a great time to do that, as we look for opportunities to turn
Me and Elder Nieves...photo-bombed by Sister Friend
outward and serve others. I LOVE being a missionary. And the only thing better than being a missionary is being a missionary during the Christmas season. I love my Savior Jesus Christ. I know he lives. I know that we can feel of his love and light more fully in our lives when we follow His teachings. I know that this is His church, that he stands at the head of it, "...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone" I know that the message we have to offer WILL bless anyone's life who is willing to just give it a try. It has blessed mine.

"The Magic of Christmas is not in the presents, but in His Presence." 

Merry Christmas to everyone!!


Elder RichmanDawg

Outside the house where we stayed in Elko...in the morning

We helped put these Christmas lights up for a family

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