Week 75 – Reno is the BOMB

Grillin' up burgers at Jonathan's house
February 22, 2016
Hello everyone!

This has been a crazily awesome week! Honestly it has been a very spiritual week, full of miracles!

Apartment flooded by the washing machine
To start off, last week I uploaded a picture of our apartment flooded by the washing machine...and no one was able to get to the problem until Tuesday afternoon because of the President's Day holiday. So our apartment smelled like mold for the first half of the week...but we are just glad that it was taken care of.

Definitely a highlight of this past week was the exchange I went on with Elder Woolsey. He is a STUD missionary who has only been out about 7 months, but he is rock solid. We had a total blast together in the YSA 1st Ward in Reno. There are two YSA wards for the UNR campus, and he serves in one of them. It was way fun serving there for the day. It was also kinda weird! But they have actually been having tons of success the past little while, and many young college kids have been joining the church. And the coolest part about all of them is that they are all ROCK solid.

Exchanges with Elder Woolsey
It really grew my testimony, because Elder Woolsey was telling me about all of their investigators and recent converts, and 90% of them do NOT have their parents support in joining the church, yet all are very solid. There were a handful who hadn't even told their parents yet…they just get baptized and hope it works out later down the road. It’s also funny because many of them join the church because their boyfriend/girlfriend is a member, and many are dating missionaries who are in the field right now. They had two convert baptisms this past week, and I had the opportunity to interview one of them, and she has such a strong testimony! She brought her study journal with her, and it was so exciting and fun to see someone my age join the church who was so pumped to learn about the gospel. Her journal was more full than my scripture study journal!

Kenzie and Garrett after Kenzie's interview
The other baptism that happened in the YSA ward we were able to attend on Tuesday night. It was a girl named Kenzie who was dating another YSA member, named Garrett. Garrett's parents live in the Prater ward in Sparks, and so I knew his family fairly well. They would often have us over for dinner, and they would invite Garrett and Kenzie, so I was actually one of the first missionaries to teach her - just after dinner appointments.  We then committed her to actually sit down and take the lessons, so we passed along her information to the YSA Elders. That was about 3 or 4 months ago, and she just got baptized this week! Kenzie's parents are divorced, and her dad was totally cool with it, but her Mom was totally against it. Her mom called her all sorts of bad names, and said that she would never talk to her again if she joined the church. She offered her
Garrett's family with Kenzie (on the far right)
alcoholic drinks on many occasions and tried to persuade her against it. Early on in her teaching progress, the Elders promised her that if she read her scriptures and prayed daily, her Mom would attend her baptism, and so Kenzie took that promise to heart and made sure to read and pray every day while she was learning and progressing towards her baptism. Two days before the baptism, her Mom told Kenzie that she would NOT attend the baptism because she was disgusted with her choice. However, on the day of her baptism, Kenzie's mother showed up. She wasn't happy, and as soon as the service was over, she left super quick, but the promise was fulfilled because she was faithful and read every day and prayed every day. Kenzie said, "My mom wanted me to wait, to make sure if it was what I wanted. But I told her 'Why would I want to wait for something I know I am going to do regardless?' and besides, I couldn't wait any longer to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Kenzie already has such a strong testimony, it was awesome to see. Because Kenzie was baptized on Tuesday, she had to wait until Sunday to be confirmed and receive the Holy Ghost. We had a lesson on Friday with her while I was on exchanges, and she was SO stoked to get the Holy Ghost. I had never seen anyone be so happy to be confirmed before, it made me realized that I often take the Holy Ghost for granted! 

Serving in YSA was lots of fun. It helped me grow and get out of my comfort zone, because I can talk to anyone about the gospel all day, but we were street contacting on campus at UNR, and as soon as I was put in a place with a bunch of people my age, it got really hard for me!! Thankfully Elder Woolsey is a stud and showed me the ropes. 

That is A LOT of meat!
(Grillin' up hamburgers with Jonathan's family)
We went and had dinner with Jonathan and his family this past week, and it was a great experience. We actually cooked hamburgers for them, and had the other 4 missionaries of the branch come join us, too. It was a great opportunity for us to get to know Jonathan's mom better. We also had a lesson earlier in the week and she really opened up to us and explained that she has noticed good changes in Jonathan, but that she still had lots of questions, because Jonathan hasn't been telling her anything about what goes on at church. He just always asks for rides, and then never communicates about what he learns or why he likes it so much. This bothered her, especially when he then asked to be baptized without telling her anything. So we committed them to pray together about baptism and the church, and she agreed. She is open to let him be baptized, but it won't be this Saturday.

Stuck in the mud - Part One
At dinner on Thursday, we were able to talk more about it and get to know her better. We fired up their grill and grilled some burgers for everyone (BTW, the weather here can't make up its mind, on Tuesday it was 70 and sunny, and then on Thursday we had a blizzard and got a few inches of snow, and now it is 60s and sunny again...) But we had the food all ready, and then the other two Elders were in charge of bringing the buns for the hamburgers. They called us at about 5:05 pm and said, "Hey, come outside, we have a surprise for you!" We were all confused about what it was that they had for us, and so we went running outside, and found that they had gotten stuck in mud, just like we had a few weeks ago!!! This time we knew what we were doing, and then someone actually came out and pulled the other Elders out of the mud with their Jeep that they had. We ran inside and ate quickly, and the other Elders had to go because they had a baptismal interview for their investigator, and so they really didn't have time to sit around and eat with us, they just grabbed their food to go. We were hoping to have a nice lesson with Jonathan and his family about the church and stuff after dinner, so we were happy.

Stuck in the Mud - Part Two
(Elder Jarnigan trying to go
four-wheeling in a Chevy Cruze!)
About 3 minutes after Elders Romney and Jarnagin left, we heard a knock at the door. We were joking that it was the Elders again, and that they got stuck once more...and sure enough, we opened the door and Elder Romney was on the door step and said that his companion and just driven into a ditch!! So once again, we went tearing outside, and once again, the same dude who helped the first time came and towed him out. I was helping attach the cable to the Elders car, and my hands got FREEZING because it had snowed that morning, and the mud was just like super cold, and the sun had gone down by the second time, and my hands went completely numb except for my left index finger. It hurt so bad, and for the rest of the night my hands were killing me!! But they are still intact now, so no worries. By now this had taken like an hour of our time, and we now were going to be late for our next appointment. So we went inside and tried to defrost ourselves while we ate, and then we spoke briefly with Jonathan's family, but mostly had to set up another appointment for this evening. It was certainly a night to remember!! 

Going on exchanges with Colton
He was awesome.
On Saturday, the Sparks stake had a mini-mission, where they had all the youth ages 16-18 come to the stake center and then they paired us all up with a mini missionary for the day so we could go on splits and show them what its like to be a missionary for one day! I was paired up with this really cool Priest named Colton, who actually lived at the member’s home, where I lived in the Sparks loft back when I served in Sun Valley. I recognized him, but I never got to know him very well. He was a super cool kid, and I was praying all day to have testimony-building experiences that would help him grow his testimony and his desire to serve a mission, and we honestly had a fantastic day! We saw tons of miracles...like we knocked on this one guy’s door who was a potential investigator that I had never met, and he didn't answer, and then Colton was like, "maybe we should try his neighbor’s door!" who was right across the hall from the other apartment. So we knocked on it, and it turned out to be this super solid Hispanic family that agreed to let us come back later this week!! It was cool to see that Colton could receive inspiration, too. I want to stay in contact with him and hear about his future mission experiences!

With our new favorite investigator
We are teaching another man…I attached a picture of him, and he is hilarious. He has been coming to church faithfully for the past few weeks, but we haven't been able to teach him until this past week. He always shows up to church super late, and then sleeps through all three classes!! He even snores, and the whole branch looks back at him, so we have to nudge him to wake him up. Then he speaks in this very loud, very deep, very raspy voice that is impossible to whisper. He cracks us up. He is set for a baptismal date on March 12th, but we aren't sure if that is going to happen. I will keep you posted on his progress.

Well guys, the church is true. I know it is. I have seen soooo many miracles first hand to say other wise. I read Enos today in my studies and he teaches us how we should pray... he says,

"I kneeled down before my Maker, and I cried unto him in mighty prayer and supplication for mine own soul; and all the day long did I cry unto him."

So he teaches us that we should kneel down, and "cry" unto the Lord. In my mind this means making the prayer sincere. Like we have to really want the things we ask for, and we need to really be grateful for the things that we say that we are grateful for, and we need to be willing to act upon the answers that we get to our questions. I know that Heavenly Father hears and answers our prayers when we pray like Enos and kneel down and pour out our hearts to him.

I love you guys, have a great week!!


Elder Todd
Someone took this picture of Elder Romney
and me out street-contacting
With Alberto
Romney's selfie of getting stuck in the mud
Elder Freeman came back for a visit!

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