Come Follow Me

Come Follow Me
"And he saith unto them, "Come and follow me, and I will make you fishers of men." (Matt. 4:19) As the New Year begins, we, the members of the Willow Wood Ward, invite you to Come and Follow Him!

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Elder Zach Beckman

Elder Beckman and the other 29 missionaries make their grand debut into Cincinnati today.  This article is fabulous, so fun!  Hope you enjoy it as much as we did.
The Beckman Family

(We aren't proud of him at all, can ya tell:)

Mormons could soon spread the word in Cincinnati one text at a time

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Elder Seth Garner

Last week it got up to about 118 degrees in my area. Julian was about 105, but we also cover Shelter Valley, which is out in the desert. Yeah, it has been a little warm. I am getting a pretty sweet farmer tan though! Anyways, everything is going so well. Andrea still isn't feeling too good, but the members of the Branch have been helping out so much! The love that the Church has for others is amazing!
Dennis is so awesome! He answered all of the baptismal questions correctly without even knowing that we asked them. He knows that the Book of Mormon is true, he knows that Joseph Smith saw God the Father and His Son, and he knows that the Church is true! He just wont commit to a date! Other than that, he is completely ready to enter into the fold and be baptized!
Diana came to church this last week and stayed for the full three hours again. She felt the Spirit very strongly, and we were able to finish teaching her the Plan of Salvation. Diana is a good example of someone who is actually seeking for truth, and who is doing it with real intent. We cannot recieve an answer that the Book of Mormon is true if we are not praying with real intent and a sincere heart, meaning we want to act upon the answer that is recieved. She is totally going gain that witness!
I have learned as a missionary never to get discouraged. That can diminish faith and hope, which detracts from the Spirit. An investigator cannot be converted unless they feel the Spirit, and if you are discouraged, then it is going to be difficult for them to feel it. Never get disouraged about things that are happening in life. The Spirit will be less abundant, and you will have a rough time being led on where you need to go. ALWAYS HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE! The Lord will bless you, and provide you with a witness that everything will be alright!
     Elder Garner

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Elder Zach Benard

Hey Everyone!!

We had a less active and his wife who is a catholic come to church for the first time in a while. I think it's been around 3 years or so, all because we did service and kept pestering them...sometimes that's what we need to do. The lady that we gave a blessing to could really use a lot of prayers cause she's going through a really hard time. She came to church yesterday and just cried the whole meeting cause every talk was what she needed to hear and then the bishop came and talked to her the rest of the church meetings. We went over that night with the elders quorum pres. and had a really great lesson. It's just been a really hard time for her so she could use some prayers.

Barbra is still Barbra. She loves taking what we say and mixing it with what she wants to believe and then puts some anti stuff in there and then makes that what she thinks we believe. We've been trying to teach her and it's been really hard to do that.

Tonya and Alex are ok. If we can get him to believe that the church is true then Tonya will follow cause she doesn't do anything unless it's with Alex. Alex doesn't believe that Christ had to die for us and that He could have done so much more if He had just lived, and since He's God He could have saved Himself from dying on the cross. I apparently told him that He chose to die and He did this out of love so we could repent and return to live with God and Jesus again, and some other stuff, but I don't remember saying that and the other things that I said. It did strengthen his faith, he said, so I'm happy.

It's funny this past month we leave our bikes at the DTC (Downtown Transit Center) and take buses to go to appointments and such. Then we sometimes miss the bus to get back and we think, "oh this is nice, we can get a long walk back"... (there was a reason we took the bus in the first place...) "and hand out some cards", but we only get one handed out, if that, when a member shows up and says "hey do you want a ride?" So we say "sure thanks!" and get in the car and then rub our legs on the way back. ;) It's really cool how many times that happens and it's just the small blessings that God shows us missionaries once in a while that He's there and He loves us. I've had the opportunity to share experiences with youth and primary kids in church about the way God blesses missionaries and it's hard to think of what one experience I want to share. :) Well I hope you all have a great week and have fun!  Love you all!!

Love Elder Benard     

Elder Brayden Evans

This week one of our progressing investigators came to us broken down and explained to us how she couldn’t keep going and visiting with us. She explained to us what was going on and it was one of those really big problems. She has had some very strong spiritual experiences with us. One of them we prayed about the book of Mormon and she said that she felt somebody "Slap her in the back of the head and tell her it was the truth... DUH" haha If I didn’t feel the spirit in that room I would have thought she was crazy. Anyways She sent us like a 5 page text about how it was over and she wasn’t going to continue and explained to us why... At first I felt like, well that’s a really good reason I think we lost her. I was heart broken to say the least. I’ve really grown to love this woman. In all reality the only thing Satan can not combat is love. I got on my knees and asked the Lord what to say. I sent a text telling her how much we loved her and how big of a blessing she was in our lives. It was really heart felt and from my heart. My companion was in his greenie "I don’t know what the heck to do" phase so I had to handle the whole situation on my own. At the end of the message I sent I told her the only thing that the Lord cares about is if she can get up in the morning, keep moving on, and go to church (It was Saturday night) She didn’t respond...

I tossed and turned the whole night. It was just pounding me in the back of the head. I was pretty devastated. I was sitting in Sacrament meeting the next day praying and looking for spiritual guidance (it was a long week haha) and boom, She walks in with her daughter about 10 minutes late.. :)

We have a lesson with her tonight... It was a really rewarding feeling to see the Lord go to work on her. Charity is what we are all trying to develop and in all reality we have the best example in the world in Jesus Christ. People accepted what he said because of the Love he showed. One of my favorite chapters in the book of Mormon is 3 Nephi 17 If you read the start of the chapter until verse 7. "Have you ANY that are sick among you? Bring them hither.....or that are afflicted in any  manner?" and then in verse  9. I love the way it is written when he is healing the people. "and with ALL them and that were afflicted in ANY matter; and he did heal them every one as they were brought forth unto him." Sometimes I think we forget when we see a trial the the Atonement heals all. Literally fixes everything. Christ told the people there to bring all unto him to be healed. He put no exceptions because there are none. He heals all. The Atonement is Infinite and Perfect.

Elder Evans

Elder Brennan McEwan

            Hey all,
Freshly minted Elder McEwan here. As some of you probably know, I got my mission call to Hong Kong back in March, and I will be leaving for the MTC in August. I was very excited to get called to such an amazing place in the Lord’s vineyard. Ironically enough (with the partial exceptions of brief trip to Canada and Mexico), Hong Kong was my first (and so far only) visit to a foreign country. That’s right; I actually had the opportunity to visit my future mission on a family vacation a few years back.
Since I’ve already been to Hong Kong, I can say that it is an amazing place. I am excited to have the chance to share the gospel among such a polite and kind people. I am happy that I will get the chance to experience a culture completely different from my own. Oh, and I also really like Chinese food, so that’s another perk to this call as well. (And to those who just read that and are rolling their eyes and saying something like “Heh heh… you have no idea….,” don’t worry. I actually think real Chinese food is much tastier than Panda Express style Americanese food. In fact, I really think some squid is sounding really good right around now…)
            Anyway, I know that Hong Kong is the right place for me to be serving. Honestly, both my Mom and Dad guessed I’d be going there, and I had my suspicions too. I think no other place in the world could give me a better experience, and I think I can leave my mark there too. I know that there are people out there that I can help to know in their hearts that Christ is their Savior, and that they have a loving Heavenly Father who knows them and their struggles personally.
            I know that a mission is the right place for me to be, and that Hong Kong is where I need to be serving. I know that Christ is our Redeemer, and that we have a loving Heavenly Father who watches over us. I know that His prophets and the scriptures they wrote are full of truth that give us the guidance we need to live with Him again some day.
            To wrap up, I’m thrilled for Hong Kong, and I can’t wait to get out in the field.

-Brennan McEwan

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Elder Zach Benard

Hello Everyone!!

I don't remember if I told you this but HAPPY 4TH OF JULY!!! Ok well this week was fun, we had a stake breakfast at our church building and there were a lot of people there. We got a referral from 1st ward elders and they said she accepted to be baptized and she's praying for a date, she's also moving into our ward so we pretty much are getting a baptism handed over to us. This transfer so far is going great with E. Georgia who was also my MTC comp. We've been doing good together and he's been getting to know the area pretty well and learning how to be a DL.

At the beginning of the transfer we didn't have any food and I had 135 dollars. Now we have a lot of food and I have 30 dollars....that's supposed to last me the rest of the month?! Well I guess that's where my saving of money comes in where I hide money and it magically appears latter on when I need it. ;) My family can tell more about that...even though they'll probably just say "oh he stole from us." Nope not true, I hid 20 bucks and found it not too long ago. :)

I've been trying to learn a little of Spanish so I don't just sit there when I go on exchanges with the Spanish elders but it's not a huge priority yet. On my b-day and the 4th WE DID NOTHING!!! I did more stuff on Christmas and New years than on the 4th but oh well it's OK. It's only our countries Independence Day who really cares about that...obviously me! Anyhow I've been having a great week other than dealing with other people's problems and being stressed. The usual missionary work.

Well love you all!!
Love Elder Benard  

Elder Derek Fisher

Hey Everyone!  Today I was looking back as I was emailing my mom and seeing just how much has changed in my life in the last 2 years.  I only have about 15 more minutes of email time, but I just wanted to share some changes in my life since then.  In essence, I’m very much the same person, but the biggest difference is a great love and personal closeness to our Savior Jesus Christ.  I remember back when I was 13 and my mom brought the missionaries over to teach me.  One time they taught me that the Telestial Kingdom is better than the world we now live in and I remember telling them “well if that’s true, then that’s good enough for me.”  Since becoming a member, I’ve come to realize that Heavenly Father has so much more in-store for us than “good enough.”  He has given us the potential to become whatever we set ourselves to be.  It depends upon our diligence and faith to see those things through.  Before my mission I sold myself short a lot, I didn’t fully understand how this life is a trying ground to do our best.  Since I’ve come to that knowledge, I’ve come forth with a commitment to do my best.  I know that as we exert all we can in righteous actions, the Lord will bless us with His grace (temporal and spiritual power) to fulfill the things that normally aren’t possible. 
One thing I’ve really developed a testimony in, is faith unto prayer.  So many times I have received spiritual witnesses to truths otherwise unknowable.  Often times, as I’ve read or learned about doctrines in this church I stand confused with a “?” over my head, but each time I’ve wanted to know the truth of one of these doctrines, I turned to the source and the first thing I do is ask Heavenly Father if it’s true.  After that I exert my own effort to try to understand these things.   As I do so, with “faith”, a “sincere heart” and “true intent”, meaning you believe you will be answered, you really want to know, with the commitment to follow that knowledge once obtained, I have felt the Spirit testify the truth to my heart. (Moroni 10:3-5)  That’s a truth I can never deny and I know unless you have those 3 things you will never know the truth of these things.  Concerning prayer, I know Heavenly Father has answered my prayers in so many other ways as well for “whatsoever ye shall ask the Father …which is right, believing that ye shall receive…it shall be given unto you” (3 Nephi 18:21).    These words really have played a part in my life as I’ve had family members become active, including my best friend and cousin who is serving a mission as well, but that’s just the tip of the Spiritual Iceberg.  Hindi busta-busta nangyari ang mga bagay na ito.  Anyways I think I’ve been a bit too preachy for today (kinda hard not to be when all I do is preach every day).  But I just wanted to express who truly grateful I am to have the Gospel in my life, I only wish I had
found it earlier.
I just want you to know I’m doing great, stressed but great.  Lately I’ve just been preparing a lot of trainings, meetings, baptism interviews, etc. etc.  Oh and also we moved into a new apartment that I found.  It’s pretty dang nice.  I never expected to live in an apartment this nice during my mission, tender blessings haha (pictures will come when my camera is fixed).  Things are going pretty great, which scares me because usually when I’m happiest, that means I get transferred and given more trials.  Anway, I love you all.   I’m out of time, but hopefully I’ll find some more next week.  Take care!
Elder Fisher

[a lady] has been coming to church for months, has a testimony of the church and The Book of Mormon, and really wants to be taught and baptized, not only that but she’s been bringing her children with her.  I can’t help but wonder what it is that I’ve done to deserve such a blessing?  I truly know that He has been listening to my prayers and is answering them.  I LOVE THIS WORK!

The only downside is that I’m fast approaching my 6 month mark in Paranaque, which means I could likely be transferring in the next couple weeks.  I’ve loved working here.  I hope I get another 6 weeks because I’m pretty sure 5-7 of the investigators I’ve been teaching for the past 1-6 months will be getting baptized next month.  No worries, though, planting the seeds is just as important as harvesting.  If I do transfer, I’ll feel satisfied with the fact I’m doing all I can here in this part of His vineyard.

Aside from that, things are going great!  Held a great zone meeting this last week, coordinated really well with the stake and started a lot of ideas into motion to get the work to go better in the Stake. (random fact: the 1st counselor of our stake has the coolest voice ever, don’t ask, it’s just cool).  Outside of that, I’m getting pretty decent at cooking.  This week I made Chicken Asado, Bicol Express, and Fried Chicken (Filipino style).

I learned something though, when it rains hard in our area, it floods.  I had one very wet day this week.  Aside from that, not too much to report…I did some interviews, went to a baptism in our zone (which we sang at), attended a couple of birthday parties, the usual.
That’s about it for this week.  Hope everyone is doing great!  Much love,
Elder Fisher

Elder Fisher waiting to teach a family of eight at their home.

Sister Sydney Burningham

Sister Burningham and Sydney Ramey

Hey Hey Hey Everyone,
Seriously this week FLEW by.  As do all the weeks.  I can hardly believe I've been out almost 6 months.  That is not true, it can't be true.  I love every single minute I am out here and I can hardly believe the time passes as fast as it does.  Just to update you on the work here in Kingsport Tennessee.... Sydney Ramey got baptized on July the 6th at 1:00 p.m. I don't know if you can tell but I pretty much am really pumped about it because it is the first person that has been baptized that I have taught start to finish and had the privilege to witness the actual baptism.  She is incredible.  Her dad actually came to the baptism but he doesn't like Mormons that much.  The good news is that he was reading the Book of Mormon and took one with him, he is not supportive yet but he will be when he opens his heart open a little.
GREAT story for you.  So we have been randomly contacting people on the ward list that we need to find out if they've moved or where they are or if they're interested.  We went to Tonya Hatchers first.  The first thing she said to us was "Joseph Smith is not all y'all think he is."  then she told us she wanted her records removed from the church.  It broke my heart and I didn't think it would make me as sad as it did.  I just want people to realize that those thoughts and feelings are Satan and he works so hard against that which is good.  It was hard, but then we went to Susan Girgis's house.  I think she's insane.  She just kept saying words..and words..and more words.  She asked us if we had ever seen evil.. we said yes it's all around us and she looked into our souls with her piercing eyes and said ".. No.. REAL evil..." we got kind of scared then she said she was 50% christian and 50% muslim and that Joseph Smith AND Mohammad are both prophets..equally.  We will work with her she wants us to come back and we are going to try to get her on the right track.  She's just been away from church for too long.  Haha, anyway funny stuff.  I LOVE TENNESSEE.
Sister Bedke is awesome, we laugh all the time.  That seems to be the theme of my companionships is laughing, I think the Elders think we're crazy sometimes but you have to learn to laugh and make missionary work fun.  I love meeting people and seeing them as they can become. 
Something I learned this week is to be an example.  This ward is amazing, they are just welcoming Sydney in with open arms and it has been incredible to see the work progress here since they are all just into it. 
Something I love: "Bear your testimony always and if necessary, use words."
I bore my testimony for the first time in this ward on Sunday, the spirit was so strong, Sydney had just received the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Beth was there, she is going to get baptized in Atlanta when her husband gets used to the idea and I looked at her and just lost it.  I have grown to love these people so much, it is going to be hard to say goodbye when that time comes, until then I'm living in each moment.
Keep being amazing, always share your testimony through your actions and love for others.
I love you all have a great week!
Sister Burningham
Sister Burningham, Sydney Ramey, Sister Bedke

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Elder Martin and Sister Jeanette Evans

We just returned from the Tabernacle Choir tour on June 23rd.  The choir only goes on tour every other year.  We were able to go this year as drivers of one of the tree trucks that carry their equipment.  We went about 4,000 miles round trip.  One truck carries the choir's wardrobe, the other the risers to set up at each venue for the choir to stand on.  The last truck (ours), carried the sound equipment and the instruments, such as the the chimes, harps, cellos, timpanis, bass drums, etc.  We would set these up at each venue and take it all down after the concert was over to be ready to go to the next stop.  Usually this took us until 1:00 or 2:00  in the morning.
We stopped in Columbus, Ohio, Indianapolis, Indiana, Chicago, Illinois, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Madison Wisconsin, and Minneapolis, Minnesota.  What a huge accomplishment to have that many people and gear in the right place at the right time.  The Lord definitely had a hand in the success of the tour and our safety.   We could feel the power of the gospel as it reached different people through music.  We started every day as a group with prayer, which surely helped us.  We were exhausted but thrilled to have been a part of such a great undertaking.
We are now back to supporting music and the spoken word usually twice a month.  And we also support the orchestra and Bells on Temple Square.
We love the Lord and are grateful to be a part of this wonderful mission!!
Elder Marty and Sister Jeanette Evans

Elder Acord

Baptism last Saturday

Family Home Evening

Hi Family!!! Its a good morning here in Praia! I don't know if I told you guys last week, but we have Zone Leaders Counsel tomorrow, so on Sunday we got on a boat to Mindelo, and this morning at 5:30 we got on a plane here to Praia. I feel like I have been traveling a lot lately... Its cool though. Cape Verde is sweet, in two days I have been on 3 different Islands. This last week was pretty awesome. It was a great first week of the transfer. We got ourselves super set up to have a pretty successful transfer. Elder Smith is pretty cool. He is just one transfer younger than me. He really likes video games and talks about them all the time, which is fine, cuz then I just talk about Emma and Hockey all the time. AAAAnd you guys too of course. This transfer should be super sweet though. After this last week and church,  we have 3 solid progressing families. Possibly a marriage by the end of the transfer, which would be just soooo awesome. I've been here a year now and I feel like I kind of get how the work goes now, and what it takes to get people to baptism. This transfer already I have made a lot of changes in just some aspects of the way that I work. I made some plans last transfer that I wanted to start doing this transfer and now that I'm training Elder Smith as zone leader, its the perfect time to apply some changes in our ward here. We are doing a lot of divisions with members which allows us to teach a lot more lessons every day. We are going to start having weekly trainings for the ward missionaries and we are heavily involving the ward in almost everything that we do. Yesterday for church instead of what missionaries usually do here, which is pass by all the investigators and remind them of church and walk with them there, We had about 10 different members designated to different people and making sure they get to church. We had a SUPER high attendance in church yesterday, it was awesome. This week while we are gone we have people teaching our next couple baptisms. Also, because of the new focus of the mission, we are working a lot more with the inactives and its been sweet having all this new work with the ward. In some ward here in Cape Verde, things are good and well organized. I don't think that any of this kind of work between the ward and missionaries has happened much in Santo Antao and its already paying off a lot. Dad, you asked me if I was able to watch any of that church wide training thing. Not yet, maybe tomorrow during zone leaders counsel. 

Elder Acord