Week 68 – Happy New Year!!

With Elder Nieves
January 4, 2016
Hey everyone!!

Ringing in the New Year
Prospero Ano Nuevo!! Or Happy New Year!! I cannot believe that it is 2016. That just blows my mind. It sounds like everyone back at home had lots of fun at the different parties and dances, New Years is always a fun holiday. We rang in the new year by putting on the party favors that were sent to me and then posing for a picture together while looking like a couple of dufuses. It was great. 

With a new year comes lots of reflection on the past year, and lots of reflection on the year ahead. 2015 has easily been the best year of my life. I can't believe it's over. It will be the only year I give 100% to the Lord until I serve a senior mission. And what a great blessing it has been to me. I have learned SO much about so many different things, and my testimony has never been stronger. I am also excited for the year 2016, it will be a big year for me as I come home from my mission and go to school. I am sure that I will learn even more this year. 

It has been SUPER cold here in Sparks this past week. It didn't get above 25 for a few days, so we have been bundling up with long johns and the whole nine yards of clothes. Most of the snow is still sticking around, and has turned to ice in many places, which honestly I really like. I prefer that when it snows it sticks around for a little while.

With Elder Fisher
This week, Elder Ash and I zipped up to Lake Tahoe so I could do a baptismal interview for a Spanish investigator that the Sisters up there were teaching. It was actually a way fun little excursion, because the little town of Kings Beach was bustling with skiers and snowboarders. There was a fun vibe up in Tahow. The interview itself however, was quite strange.  Of all the interviews I've done, none went quite like the one I did the other evening. As soon as we sat down, the first thing that the man told me was, "I'm not ready to be baptized." I was quite shocked, the Sisters were telling me about how pumped he was and how he had been taught everything and they had just had a lesson with him the night before and he was still on board and ready.  So I was really shocked when he told me, but I decided to go ahead with the interview and ask all of the questions and discuss them with him.  He passed the interview and knew his stuff, but he still wasn't ready. I then went into Mr. Fix-It mode, and began to think of anything I could teach him or share with him to get him to change his mind, because in my mind he was 100% ready!  I shared a few scriptures from Mosiah 18 with him, asked lots of questions, but he still wasn't feeling ready. I then got the distinct impression in my mind, "He's not ready. Don't try and be a hero and force him to change his mind, he is simply not ready." It was exactly what I needed, because I thought that I could be the hero and save the day and the baptism and everything, but that was not the case. I needed to be humbled. So we closed the interview with a prayer and my testimony, and left it at that. He didn't change his mind, and I wasn't the hero, but it was a good lesson to me that I don't have the answers to everything, and this isn't Elder Todd's work, this is the Lord's work. The sisters were disappointed, of course, but he wasn't ready, so there was nothing to be upset about. The rest of the evening went well.  The Sisters invited us to come to their dinner with them and some members, so we went and had dinner with some awesome members in Truckee. There is SO much snow up there...like 3-5 feet snow banks everywhere! It was fun.

Last week we said goodbye to Elder and Sister Bell, who worked in the office for the past year. I've grown close to them having served as an Assistant, and it was sad to see them go. They were awesome, and will be very missed! We could always rely on them if we needed something. Sister Bell was the mission secretary and answered all the phones, and Elder Bell was over the finances and housing. We could always rely on him to find us a new apartment when we needed to open up a new area. I love them so much.

Last night we went up to President's house and had a great chat with him about the mission and the direction we want to head. We recently learned from the mission headquarters and the brethren that there are a few changes that are to be made across all the missions. The biggest one is that there will be no more transfer meetings. So this really messes up our usual transfer plans, and we will have to figure out a new way to have transfers without having large gatherings of missionaries.

I mean - look how sharp 
Elder Ash and I are...
"model" missionaries in this pic - haha!
They also instructed us that they want the Assistants to the President (AP’s) to spend as much time as possible in their area working, and not driving around helping other missionaries. This is something that we've talked a lot about, and President Chesnut was planning in the future to use the Assistants to help him more with the administration of the mission rather than worry about our area. But this also changed, and he wants us to focus more on our area and making it a "model" area for other missionaries. So in other words, he wants us to see lots of success, so other missionaries can see how we do it and then apply it in their area. This is a big change for us, because lately we have been more focused on the mission than our area. So we have cancelled some exchanges and we are really just going to get to work in our area and build it up. There is no doubt that our area has suffered as a result of the many administrative things we do with the mission, but we are going to change this. We want to have at least one baptism a month and set the tone for the rest of the mission. It was kind of a wake-up call for me, because I haven't seen tons of success on my mission thus far in terms of reactivated members and baptisms, which isn't at all a bad thing, in the end, the numbers don't matter.  That’s not at all why I am out here, or what our goals are as missionaries, to have tons of baptisms. But we do want to put a better emphasis on it. So it is time for us to hit the pavement and go to WORK. I am pumped.

I have been reading the New Testament for the past 6 months, just a chapter or two a day, but it has been really neat for me to do so. It is cool because it is a different kind of scripture, most of the Bible and the Book of Mormon have stories with characters and story lines and stuff going on, but Paul's epistles don't have much of that, it is just a letter to the different people telling them what they need to do and explaining the doctrines. It has been very cool and informing, and I have learned a TON. Paul teaches us in 1 Timothy 6:7 "For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out."  What great wisdom! That really puts things into perspective, about what we worry about here on earth. Because we won't be taking items with us into the next life, but we will be taking knowledge and relationships. Both my own dad and President Chesnut have taught me the importance of relationships, as well as how we honor and respect the relationships we have. First and foremost, the relationship we have with our Father in Heaven and his son, Jesus Christ, and how we can show the love we have for them through our actions and obedience. Then the relationship we have with our family members, and those we will be able to spend eternity with, especially our spouse. And then of course, our friends and people we meet. It is those things that we will be able to take with us into the next life…not a nice car, or house, not even a boat. I know that we can gain more knowledge and better relationships by using our time wisely, and by spending our time with those who are important to us, and who can help us become better. There is no better way to strengthen our relationship with Christ than by doing a little CPR...Church, Prayer, and Reading the scriptures. I know and have personally experienced that in my life. The church is true. It blesses lives.

I hope everyone has a great week this week and stays warm...(or cool if you are on the east coast.) I love you guys!!

Elder Todd

P.S.  This week, Elder Lynn G. Robbins will be coming to the mission!  He has asked my companion and me to have a one-hour meeting with him on Thursday, and then on Friday, we will have an MLC where he will preside and teach us for a few hours. Then 6 out of the 9 zones will gather and we will have a GIANT mission tour meeting where he will teach us some more. Then on Saturday Elder Ash and I will jump into our truck and zip out to Elko and we will hold an east-side meeting out there with the rest of the mission. We are pumped to spend so much time with a General Authority, I will certainly have to fill you all in next week.

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