Week 71 – The Church is Still True in Reno

We were in an awesome trio for a week...
me, Elder Slatcher, and Elder Ash
January 25, 2016

Well it sounds like the tides have changed as far as the weather goes!!  It sounds like Virginia finally got the winter everyone was hoping for.  How fun!! I am jealous actually…I love the snow.  But I am glad to hear that everyone is safe. The weather here has been in the 40s and 50s, nothing too crazy. 

It has been an extremely fun week here in the Nevada Reno Mission. Elder Ash and I were actually in a trio with Elder Slatcher, who we went and picked up from Ely, NV last Sunday night. He is a great kid!  He entered the field the same time I did, but he is English speaking. He is from Oklahoma and we share a lot of the same interests in sports – and he is HILARIOUS. He is always joking around, which is lots of fun, because it makes sure that we never let things get too boring or dull. He is a really good missionary, too. It was honestly one of the most fun weeks of my whole mission. Trios are always a ton of fun, and many inside jokes are created.

On Wednesday, we had a world-wide broadcast from the Church headquarters to all the missionaries in the world. We were trained by some Apostles and some Seventies. It was a GREAT training…which is to be expected coming from our great leaders…but I learned a lot. The theme was, "Teach Repentance and Baptize Converts" because they really want us to focus on baptizing people who are truly converted and have repented of their sins. They covered a handful of different topics, but they all related to that theme. I am so grateful that we have church leaders who are inspired and know what the Lord wants, and who then can help us fulfill our purpose better. I learned that I need to do a better job of following the promptings of the Holy Ghost, and really let the Spirit do the teaching. Elder Bednar taught us that when we are doing it right, the Holy Ghost is the boss and he is directing us and inspiring us what to say and do. I want to improve in this part of missionary work, because following promptings from God is something that will be necessary throughout the rest of my life and anyone's life, really. When we can learn to follow a prompting, then it becomes easier to follow the next one we receive, and so on and so forth.

Sparks Zone
We were teaching another lesson with a man named Dan who was baptized about a year ago. He is in his late 70s and is a great guy – we love teaching him. The other day we were teaching him and at the end of the lesson we asked him to say a prayer...and in the middle of the prayer he fell asleep and just stopped praying!! So Ash and I looked at each other and silently laughed, and then Elder Ash coughed loudly. He woke back up and looked up at us and said, "Did we finish the prayer yet?" Ash and I busted out laughing, it was so funny. We then had him finish the prayer and we left. You never know how a lesson is going to go!

So it’s official...I will be released as an Assistant this transfer. Within the next few hours, President Chesnut is going to call Elder Nieves to replace me. He still isn't sure where he wants me to go next transfer, but it’s looking like I might be going back into Spanish in the Sierra Branch in downtown Reno, where the Reno Zone Leaders serve. If that is the case, then I will more than likely be companions with Elder Han! If that’s what ends up happening, then I would be SUPER excited. I love Spanish and I love Elder Han, so that would be way fun. We will see what happens. I will know for sure in the next few days. This week is transfer planning week, which is always lots of fun. It will be lots of fun to have Elder Nieves with us, too!!

Lunch with the Sparks Zone
But although I am leaving, I was asked to speak in Sacrament this coming Sunday. I am really excited to leave my testimony with the Prater ward. I was asked to speak on "member involvement in missionary work" which is a much-needed topic. I am excited. I plan to share the Ocampo family experience, and if you have any other ideas of stories or topics or principles to include, please send me a letter ASAP!!

It rained one day this week, and we were out working in it.  Thankfully we have a car, but all missionaries are motivated to work in cruddy elements because we have a saying in our mission that “for every 10 minutes you walk in the rain or snow, your wife gets better looking. For every 10 minutes you walk in the heat or freezing cold, her testimony grows. However, every time you drop a Book of Mormon on the ground, your future wife gains 5 pounds.” So we try not to drop any copies of the Book of Mormon, and instead go out and work in the crazy weather – haha!!

Our area is doing great, and continues to grow. Dave and Cassandra are doing well, and they are really excited to learn more. They couldn't attend church yesterday, but the night before, they asked us to text them what we learned and bring over the church manuals to look over and review before next week. That like rarely happens, so we were pretty excited. Clancy, the older man, is doing well also, but the only problem is that they are leaving to their house in Arizona this week, and will not be living in Reno for the next little while. They have 3 houses:  one in Reno, one in Arizona, and one in Colorado. So we might not be teaching them much more, which stinks, but oh well!! We also got a call the other day from a member in California, who had a son that lives in our area and isn't a member. His son recently had his hand smashed into hundreds of pieces by a 400-pound bar at work, and he wanted his son to receive a blessing. So we went over to his house and sure enough, he showed us the X-ray and his bones in his hands were everywhere. We gave him a blessing, and then after talking with him, he committed to take the lessons.  We are going back over tonight for another lesson. Miracles like that have been happening everyday to us, it is awesome!!

The Christ-like attribute that I have been focusing on lately has been humility. I often can get ahead of myself, and try to do everything on my own, without involving my companion, or others around me, or even the Lord. But humility is truly submitting ourselves to God's will and doing whatever he asks. This means that Elder Todd does NOT know everything, nor does he know how to fix every problem. I read in 2 Nephi 9 this week, verse 42:

"...and consider themselves fools before God, and come down in the depths of humility." 

I can often get pretty prideful and feel as though I am doing well and can manage things on my own. But this scripture reminded me that I am a fool compared to God and that I need to involve him in everything I do. The more experience people have in the Church, the better their perspective. I often get way too concerned with the little, unimportant things, such as what tie I wear, or who makes more shots in a basketball game, whereas the general authorities are more worried about how they can help the rest of the world go to the Celestial Kingdom. So I am trying to humble myself and forget about those little, unimportant things. I really enjoy the talk, "Beware of Pride" as well. I know that all of us can develop a little more humility and rely on the Lord a little bit more. I know that as we do that, we can be blessed with more strength and wisdom. Humility is not a sign of weakness, but is a sign of spiritual strength. 

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the God's kingdom on the earth. I am blessed to serve him as a full-time missionary. 

I love you guys!!


Elder Todd

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