Week 76 – Beautiful Weather and A Cough that Won't Quit

Elder Han and I going to lunch with Verduzco 
February 29, 2016

Life in Reno is ROCKIN. It really is. I love the Sierra branch so much, and I am super excited about the area that I am in. This past week we have been blessed with GREAT weather, in the 60s and sunny for most of the week. It is really fun to do missionary work when the weather is perfect.

Elder Han and I had lots of awesome and crucial lessons with our investigators. One family, the Luciano Family – which has two parents and a 16-year-old daughter (who is 6' 3" btw, SUPER tall!). They are from Puerto Rico and their Spanish is super slurred and I have a harder time understanding them, but they are awesome. The father and daughter came to church for the first time yesterday and loved all 3 hours. We went over last night and taught them some more, and we found out that at church they signed up on our dinner calendar to feed us later in the month, which was cool. They are set to be baptized on March 26th.  Last night, we taught them the Word of Wisdom, and that will probably be the biggest hang-up. They both smoke and have tried quitting in the past, but couldn't. So that is our next hurdle for them to leap. They are lots of fun to teach.

Story of my life the past two weeks...coughing 24/7
So this past week I had to eat a piece of humble pie and go to the doctors office....the Stake President in Sparks has a family practice and often sees missionaries, and so I went and visited him. I have been super clogged up the past two weeks and I have been coughing up a storm!! I figured it was just another cold and would pass in a few days, but I am still sick! So finally I decided to humble myself and go to the doctor. It has been a weird cold because I am not super weak, I am just very stuffed up. My nose has been running like a faucet, and as a result my ears have been clogged and ringing and I can't taste or smell a dang thing! It has actually been a blessing and a curse to not smell or taste anything....this past week on a couple of occasions we walked out of a lesson and Elder Han took a big deep breath and said, "Whooo! That house stunk really bad, I could hardly breath!" And I had absolutely no idea!! It was awesome! It also allowed me to eat extremely healthy and eats lots of salads and healthy stuff that I usually eat sparingly. There was also absolutely no point in eating desserts and candy, so I didn't. However, on the down side, I couldn't taste anything, and so when I got a craving for a certain food I couldn't do anything about it! There were also many meals that looked delicious but I couldn't taste, including the breakfasts that I love to make. But oh well, Heavenly Father is just growing my patience!

Zone Conference
Wednesday we had Zone Conference combined with the Carson City zone, and it was a great conference. It was weird not being the guy conducting the conference, but the Spirit was still the same. Elder Han and I were asked to train on helping our investigators feel the Spirit, and the role that we play as missionaries in helping them feel the Spirit. We have been trying to help our investigators feel and then recognize the Holy Ghost. This is so crucial because they have to understand what God is telling them, especially when they pray and ask if the Book of Mormon is true. I have learned TONS about this myself in how to get answers to my questions, and we have been trying to help our investigators do the same. It was great because Monday night we were teaching a young family the Restoration, and we recited the first vision like we always do, and the spirit was super strong. We then asked the father of the family what he felt as we recited it, and he told us, "The presence of God." We were then able to testify that it was indeed the Holy Ghost that he felt. We were able to use this awesome example in our training at zone conference, and it was lots of fun. 

A quick update on some of our other investigators:

Jonathan-there is no update, we haven't been able to meet with his parents, and we are hoping to do so tonight, and set a baptismal date with his parents and him so we are all on the same page, instead of trying to keep it all in secret.

Beba-She went back to some of her old ways, and kinda tried to hide from us because she was ashamed. We were finally able to track her down after about 10 days of not seeing her, and let her know that everything is ok. She will not be baptized in the next few weeks, and we are hoping to start teaching her again and working with her. She was able to attend mutual this past week, and she actually brought her twin brother, and they both loved it. We want to start teaching her twin brother now, too.

Jose posing for a picture.  We love this guy!!
Jose-I absolutely love Jose. He is our "biggest" investigator and we have lots of fun teaching him. I wasn't sure if he really understood what was going on at church, or if he had real intent to learn more, but he actually does! He showed up at church yesterday at 2:00pm right as all of the classes ended, and it was really funny because he was quite upset with himself that he missed it all. But he is hilarious. We love to joke around with him. He said he isn't sure if he wants to be baptized because he has already been baptized twice and he feels like baptism isn't something that you can just do for fun every year. He will not be baptized on March 12th like we had originally planned for, but he still wants to learn more about the LDS church and that's all we can ask for! Funny story about Jose, we showed up yesterday afternoon at his home to teach him, and he was spraying his porch with some anti-spider spray. We were joking and we told him to spray his dog, and sure enough, he turned around and sprayed his dog! We then went into his home, and he had literally sprayed his entire house with this Spider Spray, so the whole house was wet with this stuff. You never know what you are gonna get with some of these people!

Last Saturday, we attended a baptism for a mother of 3 daughters, Sister Razo, who the other Elders in the Branch have been teaching, and it was one of the most powerful baptismal services that I have attended. The Razo family is an awesome family that was actually introduced to the church by the Mathews family from the Prater ward. Only the mother was baptized, but the whole family including all the daughters have been coming to church for a few months. We are hoping that the rest of the family will follow shortly. But I really felt the Spirit strongly at the service. The mother was very emotional. When they opened the baptismal font for the actual ordinance, the Spirit of the room seemed to multiply. The water was still and calm and the room was quietly reverent. The Holy Ghost testified to me in that moment that what Sister Razo was doing was exactly what God wanted. The church was true, and the font was a holy place. As Sister Razo and Brother Mathews entered the water, it made me so excited and happy for her. As soon as she came up and out of the water, she exclaimed in broken English, "I'm so excited!" I know that everyone in that room felt the Spirit. I know that she was baptized by the Priesthood of God. I have been to many baptismal services, but for some reason this one was especially memorable. Elder Han noticed it as well.

My homie Jason Scott from the Prater Ward
This week we had the opportunity to teach a few people the Word of Wisdom, and it really strengthened my testimony. I am SO grateful for the Word of Wisdom, that teaches us to abstain from alcohol, tobacco, illegal drugs, tea, and coffee. It has blessed and changed my life. I have seen SO many peoples lives go down the drain and relationships torn apart as a result of drug and alcohol abuse. The commandment of the Word of Wisdom was revealed to the prophet Joseph Smith in the year 1833, and the FDA came out in the year 1964 and declared that smoking causes cancer. This was over 100 years AFTER God revealed it to Joseph Smith. Most people we teach the Word of Wisdom to understand why we don't smoke or drink or use drugs, but they don't understand why we don't use coffee or tea. At the beginning of my mission I tried to find a good reason to explain to them why we stay away from those substances, like staying out of habits and addictions, but I have learned that the number one reason we don't use those substances is because God said so. We don't yet know all the reasons why, but frankly I don't need a whole list of reasons or "proof" as to why we don’t drink tea or coffee. I know that Joseph Smith was called of God and that he truly was a prophet, just like Moses and Abraham of the Old Testament. Because he was a true prophet, I know that he was inspired when he received the revelation for the Word of Wisdom.

Downtown Reno
We read of the blessings that come when we follow this commandment in Doctrine and Covenants Section 89:

"And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures; And shall run and not be weary, and shall walk and not faint. And I, the Lord, give unto them a promise, that the destroying angel shall pass by them, as the children of Israel, and not slay them. Amen."

Now I don't know who doesn't want those great blessings of physical and spiritual health and strength!

I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true. It is God's kingdom here on the earth. I love sharing the "glad tidings of great joy" with everyone around me. It has been the best experience of my whole life.

I love you guys!


Elder Todd

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