Week 82 – New Stake in Zion

Biking all day...
April 11, 2016
Hi everyone!!

Congratulations to my sister Grace who just played the official role of a "Mersister" in “The Little Mermaid.”  I’m sure she did a great job, so please congratulate her! You’re awesome, Grace!!

No spotting of any Mersisters here in Reno, but lots of sunny weather! Elder Han and I had another fun week, and it really has been nothing but a blast serving with him. 

So the biggest news of this past week, is that yesterday was Stake Conference, and we had two visiting general authorities from the Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Echo Hawk and Elder Spannus, who came and reorganized the Reno and Reno North stakes, and created a third stake…called the Nevada Mount Rose stake! We knew that the change was going to happen thanks to some inside sources (namely, President Chesnut) but it was still a great meeting! There were no new wards created, but they just redid the boundaries and called a new stake presidency. The meeting was really spiritual, and we got to hear lots of powerful testimonies from the new leaders that were called and the old leaders that were released. The church is growing day by day, and it is exciting to be a part of it.

We saw lots of cool miracles this past week in our area! The biggest one is that we finally were able to teach the Luciano family again! We've been setting up lots of appointments with them, but they have all been falling through. We had decided that if they keep cancelling then we were going to drop them this week. We had an appointment scheduled for Wednesday night at 8:30, but then in the afternoon we got a text from their 17-year old daughter (who is super mature for her age) and she cancelled the lesson because something came up. We were bummed, but honestly not surprised given the recent history. But then around 8:00, she texted us and said, "Hey we fixed the problem that came up, and you can come over right now if you want!"

Exchanges with Elder Smith
Thankfully, we didn't have any other set appointments at that moment, so we went over and had a really good lesson! They said that they have had lots of questions and doubts about some of the doctrine, because they grew up in a different Christian church. They didn't understand the plan of salvation, and the principle of the Spirit World, and the Three degrees of Glory. They had totally marked up and written all over the plan of salvation pamphlet that we left with them about a month ago, and we love when that happens because it shows they actually want to learn! We were able to answer all of their questions using scriptures from both the Book of Mormon and the Bible, and the whole family was really impressed that we had answers to everything. It was actually a very spiritual lesson, and although at times Brother and Sister Luciano got really heated and almost wanted to debate with us, I felt very calm throughout the whole thing. I know that the Holy Ghost guided the lesson and put into our minds the scriptures we needed to share, and the inspired questions we needed to ask.

At the end of the lesson we committed them to all be baptized on the 14th of May, and all three (dad, mom, and daughter) accepted! They told us they would read some of the Book of Mormon and pray everyday. Both prayers that they said in the lesson at the beginning and at the end were way good…they asked God for help to know if this is the right church, and if it was, if they could have the strength needed to be baptized. It was great. The father even said at the end, "You guys put me in "check" like in Chess, not checkmate, but check, when you answered all of my questions. I am ready to prepare to be baptized." It was great! They told us they would not be able to attend church this past weekend because they had family coming into town, but we were ok with that because it was stake conference anyways, and we knew it would just be a crazy meeting, so we didn't push to hard. We left the lesson super pumped and on a spiritual high! 

But then it gets better...two days later, on Friday, the teenage daughter texted us and asked if she could get a ride to church, because she wanted to come and find out for herself if the church is true. We were shocked! We explained that of course we would find a ride, so we got her a ride and she came to stake conference yesterday and loved it! Despite the fact it was a unique meeting with a new stake created, she said she really enjoyed it. She is really solid, and we think she will for sure be baptized on May 14th. The parents are committed at this point, but they are both addicted to cigarettes and coffee, so we are going to meet with them again tonight and implement a plan we developed to help them quit by the end of the month so they will be ready by May 14th. I have grown to love the Luciano family a lot. Please keep them in your prayers that they will progress and be ready for baptism! It is really exciting. 

Wednesday morning we got a call from another potential investigator who we never had the chance to sit down with and teach, we just met her on the streets and knocked on her door a few times, but never really went anywhere. But on Wednesday she called us in the morning and said, "Hey today is a great day for us if you want to come over and have a lesson!" Our jaws were on the floor, because that only happens once in a blue moon, especially if you haven't ever taught them before. So we went over and had an awesome lesson together. It is two sisters who live together, and both are no longer with their husbands, but they each have a few kids. They are really nice and want their children to grown up in a church. We are excited to go back and teach them some more.

Selfie with Elder Smith
This week we were walking down the street because we had like 10 minutes before our appointment, and so we came across this guy sitting on his porch and after our very friendly greeting he responded with a glare and a frown. So we responded with another friendly, "Who do you know in this neighborhood that is going through a hard time and could use a simple prayer?" and he responded with some cuss words and strong language and told us to leave. So we responded once again with a friendly, "Have a nice day!" and then he told us, "I hope you get hit by a car." Elder Han and I couldn't control our laughter after we got out of earshot, because we have never heard something so mean said to us before!! I am grateful that Han and I can laugh off stupid encounters like that, and just roll with the motto, "Come what may, and love it!" We were joking that we wanted to get a wheelchair and then go up to him and say that he got as he wished and see what he did after that. We hopefully planted a little teeny tiny seed that can maybe one day be harvested in the future....

The new Hermana who serves in our branch with Sister Daniels had an appendicitis this past week! So they have been stuck in the apartment all week while she recovers. It made me grateful that I already had mine taken out, so I don't ever have to worry about that one again!

Those are a few of the highlights of the week! I will keep you posted on how they progress and what steps they are taking. We have about 100 potential investigators, so we are just trying to find those who are prepared to accept the gospel right now and join the church right now. It is the best job on earth!!

This weekend really strengthened my testimony that our church leaders are called of God. I know that they are all inspired men, and that if we follow them, we will not be led astray. I am grateful for a living prophet and the other apostles on the earth that guide us. I know that our leaders hold Priesthood keys that allow us to participate in saving ordinances such as baptism and confirmation. It is also through those priesthood keys that I will live with my siblings and parents for ever, even after this life, and I know that I will be able to live with my future wife and children for eternity also, but it is only made possible through that restored priesthood power.

"For I have conferred upon you the keys and power of the priesthood, wherein I restore all things, and make known unto you all things in due time." D&C 132:45

The Church is true, and I love you guys!!


Elder Todd

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