Week 88 – Weekly Update from Reno, NV

My Two Sons! (Two guys I've trained)
 Elder Short and Elder Torres
May 23, 2016
Hello everyone!!

Elder Torres and I have been having lots of fun here in downtown Reno.  This past week has been another beautiful week and we've been enjoying ourselves. We had a few big meetings this week including zone conference and zone training and those took up a lot of our time, but we were still able to teach some good lessons.

"Noche de Hogar" (Family Night) with the
Castiblanco and Luciano Families
Certainly the highlight of the week was yesterday when we had a "Noche de Hogar" with the Castiblanco Family and the Luciano family!! (Brother Castiblanco is the branch president.)  It was great!! The Luciano's said it was the first time that they had been invited to another family's home ever, and they felt really honored. It was a great experience for everyone to get to know each other, and the Luciano parents haven't really come to church yet, so we are hoping that now they know at least one family really well, so they will have less anxiety over coming. The Spirit was SUPER strong and I know that the Luciano family felt it. We learned that the parents aren't actually married yet, so of course before they get baptized, we gotta get them hitched...but lately we have been really focusing on how to help their family grow and be happier. Last night was a great chance for them to see another family who is happy and blessed because of the gospel. I think last night they saw what the Gospel REALLY has to offer...and that is a family who is happy and peaceful and blessed...and not to mention really fun! The 17-year old daughter is still on track to get baptized this Saturday, and it appears that nothing will stop her. She is pretty excited.

Francisco is doing well, we had a few more lessons with him this past week and he loves all of it. We watched the Joseph Smith Restoration movie with him, and afterwards he shared his testimony with us that he knows Joseph Smith was a prophet. Francisco is dead set on moving to Provo ASAP though, we told him (jokingly) that if he moved to Utah he could work somewhere that wasn't open on Sundays, and ever since then he has actually been serious about that. He got even more serious when Elder Han and I told him that we would be there for school. We've developed a good friendship with him.

Exchanges with Elder Naegle
We had Zone Conference this past week, and President Chesnut had one of his friends fly in who is like a Book of Mormon professor who works at the MTC now. He is SUPER passionate about the Book of Mormon and it was inspiring to listen to him and let him teach us. He told us that as part of their inheritance, each of his kids will get one of the copies of the Book of Mormon that he has studied. He really inspired me to learn more and dig deeper into the Book of Mormon. There is no doubt that I have developed a love for it here on the mission. I am studying in the end of Alma right now…in the war chapters with Moroni and Helaman, and it is fascinating for me to see the scriptures come to life and imagine being there with the stripling warriors fighting along side them. Moroni is such a brilliant war captain and a powerful leader. I would love to serve under his direction.

But anyways, Brother Dickerson (President's friend) showed us a few ways that we can teach people about the Book of Mormon, and how to teach about how important it is. He told us that too often missionaries are complacent when an investigator doesn't keep their commitment to read a chapter, but that we need to be bold and be devastated when they don't read. I certainly fell under that category and he really inspired me to be more passionate when I teach, and show more emotion.

With Elder Naegle
I have grown to love hearing the testimonies of other people and to be taught by people who are so knowledgeable. I love being around members of the church and hearing about their experiences and their testimonies. There is one member in our branch who didn't talk to her parents for 26 years after she was baptized because her Mother was a devout Mexican Catholic and was upset with her decision.  Two years ago, she spoke with her for the first time since her 20s when she joined the church. We had dinner with her and she was sharing her story and everything – and the Spirit was so strong as she shared her testimony with us.  She said that she would go back and do it again 100 times if she had to. It is a no-brainer why we have a testimony meeting each month...because truly we are all strengthened from hearing testimonies from each other.

The gospel blesses families. If I had to choose ONE thing that I've learned on my mission it would be that, that the gospel blesses families. This is because having the knowledge about The Plan of Salvation offers us a better perspective on life. I know that there is more to life than making money and working...we know that now is the time to prepare to meet God, and that all sorrows, trials, and unfair things that happen to us can be over come because of the Gospel. I am so grateful for modern day revelation through prophets that can teach us things such as the Word of Wisdom, the Law of Chastity, Family Home Evening, and many other things. These help us find true joy and happiness. President Packer said, "The end of all activity in the Church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed for eternity." I know that this is true. I know that there is no substitute for regular family prayer and scripture study, and I am SOOOOO grateful that my parents taught me that growing up. I love my family.

Have a great week everyone! I love you!

Elder Todd

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