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, November 24, 2013

Elder Brennan McEwan

Oct 27, 2013

Things went well this week here on the other side of the planet. We had another good lesson with our best investigator, Betty, we watched that cheesy "Finding Faith in Christ" video back from the nineties. Yeah, it's got some cheesy filming going on, but, I at least felt like the Spirit was with us. She had a few questions about why Christ had to die for us, and we did our best to answer them with the Book of Mormon. I don' think she quite understands the full importance of it yet, so we're still doing our best to help her gain a strong testimony of it.

Oh wait, more about Betty in a sec, but some explanation is unnecessary first. Elder Wu lost his voice this week. He's nearly better, but he's sounded like he's going though puberty. It's honestly been hilarious. Like bad voice as in that fast food guy on the Simpsons who sounds like a dying donkey bad. Good times. Anyway, things still went pretty well. He would kind of play up the whole "lost my voice" thing when we were doing companionship studies, (He seems to really hate companionship study still) so that was a bit rough. He milked it out so I was basically just rambling on about scriptures or Preach My Gospel or whatever, and if I ever tried to ask him something or turn over the study he'd just make pathetic noises until I moved on.

Anyway, back to Betty - she's probably the nicest person in Hong Kong. After we taught her with Elder Wu's (much better than comp study) deathly voice, she gave us some sort of Chinese herbal throat remedy of some sort. Then, she "Changed" us out to this life-changingly good ice cream store. Best ice cream I've eaten since I left home. We shared some of our favorite BOM scriptures with her while we were devouring our banana splits. That was easily one of the best nights on my mission.

Other than Betty, we committed another investigator to baptism! His name is A-Hong. (Did I mention him before? If not, we taught him and his wife together about 2 weeks ago) He came to church this Sunday, and he seemed to like it for the most part. After sacrament, he told me that he liked the talks, but then put his hand to his mouth and said something in a really conspiratorial way. No idea what he said though... so... it seemed like he had a good time though. Sunday School was really good. The Bishops wife, Sister Ng, taught. She actually reminds me a lot of July Barnson. I feel like she may have a secret Cantonese sister. She's super energetic and laughs at her own jokes a lot (her laugh even sounds a lot like July's...) but she taught really well, and I think A-Hong had a good time with the lesson. After church, we clarified some things in the lesson, taught a little about the Plan of Salvation and the Book of Mormon, and then we invited him to baptism. He agreed, but then he said he wanted to wait until his wife is ready too. I have really high hopes for his family.

We had one other investigator come to church this week, Victor. Victor's a nice guy, but he's kinda got some weird issues. He often goes to a different Christian church, apparently because he's afraid that God might be real so he wants to cover his bases. Apparently the last time my companion tried to commit him to baptism he said "Even if I knew your church was true, I think I'm too much of a coward to join your church." Exact words. I guess there's a lot of Anti-Mormon stuff going on around here. Part of it is probably everyone and their dog is connected to the Internet 24/7, which, let's face it, is not a generally friendly place to our church. Part of it is because the original phonetic translation for "Mormon" unfortunately sounds a lot like "Devil Church." We can't really talk to older people becuase they'll just see the badge, mutter "Mo mun gaau" and shuffle away from us. (They've switched up the translation, but the name still sticks with us...) Also, he thought that Sister Ng's lesson was really boring. He thought that he had already heard plenty about making right choices, so he didn't know why he had to learn more about it. Not entirely sure how to help him with that.

Other than those guys, we taught a lot of people on the street this week. We had a few good lessons where I felt the Spirit with us, but we weren't able to get anyone to meet with us again at any specific date. I've got hopes that we might be able to see a few of them eventually though. It's honestly a bit frustrating when we do have a good lesson, but then people aren't even willing to say a 30 second prayer with us. It's going to be a big job convincing people to make that first leap of faith and be willing to even think about God.

As for the less spiritual stuff, my companion gave me a haircut this week. It actually wasn't too bad, except for the FREAKIN' CRATER ON THE TOP OF MY HEAD. Fear not, pictures are coming soon. (I finally brought out the camera, only to realize that I don't have the requisite stick-reader with me...) We have a set of clippers, so he was just giving everyone haircuts. The longest setting on the clippers is just about right for missionary-length hair, so we don't even have to use scissors. Anyway, he was getting close to done, he was just blending the sides and top of my hair. Then, the clippers sound changed, from a steady, soothing "zzziiiippp zzziippp" to a sudden "ZZZRRROOORRRK." My companions' eyes suddenly got huge. Two other missionaries who had been eating on their beds a few feet away froze, food halfway to their mouths. Then, the two started laughing so hard that I think one of them almost died. I jumped off of the foldy chair I had been sitting in, and ran in to the bathroom. And there it was: There was about a 2 x 3 inch crater on my head where the guard of the clippers slipped and cut all the way done to the very shortest setting the guard would allow for.  I only strangled my companion a little bit. (No marks and it never happened, right?) On the plus side, I'm taller than 99.99% of everyone in Hong Kong (I've only seen three or four natives taller than me all three weeks), so nobody can really see it... but... yeah. I'll probably have enough hair to fix it sometime next week.

Oh, and you asked about the short budget for food. Let's do it TV style:

It's Time for the Cooking with Elder McEwan Show!

(Cheerful fanfare and applause)

Today's meal: Carrot, Egg, and Rice Stir Fry!
Make a cup of rice in the rice cooker. Chop up the two ridiculously huge carrots you can't really remember why you bought. Use a ginormous butcher knife because it's the only sharp blade in the apartment. Add a bit of oil to your frying pan. Add the carrots, two eggs, and all the rice. (For added fun, do it in a 3 X 7' kitchen with three other people trying to cook at the same time) Fry it until the fifth guy waiting outside to cook gets too annoying to continue. Results: It tastes... kinda depressing actually. Realize you don't really have any other food until you go shopping later. Eat it all because you're too hungry to care. Sigh.

Anyway, that was Monday, before shopping. My diet got significantly better than that. I even found some meat! (We like to scoop up all the manager's specials on meat that expires soon at our local grocery store and then freeze them) My favorite: 1 Cup of rice in the rice cooker. Add a can of corn. Let it cook. Fry up half a tray of super cheap pork. Mix it all up. Results: Actually not too bad!

As for the money, $50 a day is actually just fine. You can buy two or three weeks worth of rice for $50. The trick is just learning how to eat well with the money you have - we don't have enough money to eat like we did in the States. Dairy products are more or less out of budget completely. We can also eat out pretty cheaply - we live on top of a restaurant that will sell you a tasty pork and rice box for $18.  There's this bread store in Wan Chai that you can buy these delicious chocolate rolls for $3.5 a piece. (I may or may not drop about $20 any time we're in the area...).

Thinking of which: I need recipies. The less ingredients involved the better. (We don't have enough space to store food we're not planning on eating soon.) So far, I've found three very cheap food staples that I'd like to improve: Rice, Ramen, and Oatmeal. All three are incredibly cheap, but need improvement. If you guys can find me any recipes that involve these, it'd make me happy. Oh, and if you can find a recipie for pancake mix, that'd also be great. Pancakes are a great breakfast, but so far I haven't found and bulk-ish bags of mix, and the little boxes are a bit overpriced.

Anyway, I'm pretty much out of time. We're going hiking! (Yes, I finally have the camera)

Love you guys!

Elder Brennan McEwan
 Nov 4, 2013

…So, for this week, last P-Day was awesome. We went hiking up to Lion's Rock. It's a really cool overlook of the city. We got a bunch of great pictures. (Explanation coming later...) It was great to finally go hiking again after so long. The other great thing this week is that we got chang'd out twice this week. Once was to a Korean Barbecue. Oh man, that was easily the best meal(s) I've eaten in Hong Kong so far. Basically, it's a buffet - except that there's ginormous piles of deliciously marinated, uncooked meat. You grab a plateful, and there's a barbecue in the middle of your table. You plop as much as you can onto the barbecue, wait, and then feast. If you get the timing right, you continually are cooking and eating. I probably downed at least three pounds of meat. No joke. Greatest restaurant ever. Our Bishop gained great status in my heart. The other was to a member's apartment - Sister Lum. Their family cooked a ton of really good food for us. Plus, they had some honest to goodness cheescake. It's funny, I used to not really like cheescake, but serving a mission has given me a great appreciation for free food. Om nom nom.

Besides that, we also went out to a Dim Sum restaurant today. It's great having a native companion with us - we ate at a decent place for only $60 a piece. That's really not too bad at all considering the ridiculous amount of food we ate. Oh, and I discovered another Hong Kong pastry I really like. I can't remember what it's called (I'll get that to you later), but it's a sweetish roll filled with this delicious yellow sweet sauce - and the entire thing is nice and hot. Takes some practice to eat though - I got too excited and bit straight into one and it blew up in my face. I blew up another one when I pinched it too hard with chopsticks. By some kinda miracle my shirt was spared though - it had some really close calls today.
Actually, other than hiking and food, I don't think there was any super memorable events this week. We taught a ton of people on the street this week, but we only got one new investigator. I'm getting a little frustrated with this stupid "believe in yourself, not God" philosophy here. A lot of people aren't even willing to pray with us because they just don't really believe in anything at all. It seems like the general consensus among most non-crazy people is that it's admirable that we're willing to spend our time like this for our faith, but they just think that you're free to do whatever you want, worship whatever you'd like, but pretty much everything is good for anyone if they like it. Someday we'll get 'em.
Our best investigators, Betty and A-Hong, are still doing really well. Unfortunately, we haven't been able to get A-Hong's wife to church yet - she works on Sundays. We're trying to get Betty to move her baptisimal date up. For some reason, she wouldn't agree to anything before December 29th. However, she's really prepared. Her faith and testimony are already very strong, and she's going to make a great member. We're trying to get her to switch up to the 1st, but she's not sure about it yet. However, it gave us a good oppurtunity to teach about how we can pray to know the truth again - so I think whatever happens it will be a good experience for her.

And... that's it, actually, lots and lots of finding this week. The Jay Dubs (Jehovah's Witnesses) have been making our job hard though. Sounds like they've been (illegally) knocking on doors lately, so a lot of people think they've seen missionaries in their apartments. Grr. We actually ran into a pair the other day - he went on like a ten minute monolougue about how the Bible is the only source of truth and about the resurrection. Yup, we hear you buddy. (They've got some crazy ideas though. Sounds like if you aren't one of the 144 thousand, death is the complete end - you just cease to exist - no afterlife at all. Pretty depressing religion actually...)
All right, I'm out of stuff to write. Love you guys!
Elder Brennan McEwan

PS for Nov 4: Oh, and why there’s no pictures…
As per subject - we got locked out of the apartment... yeah.
We were going out to buy some groceries, and just as the door shut behind us my companion said,
"Did you grab your keys, Elder Doorman? 'Cause I didn't."
Wide eyes and gasping commenced. Many plans were proposed - anywhere from climbing out onto the bamboo scaffolding the workers use on our building around to an open window (don't worry, we didn't actually do that one) to unscrewing the people and trying to fish for the deadbolt with a coathanger. We actually executed that plan, but we couldn't quite get the deadbolt. We finally got a spare key after about an hour's worth of travel to the mission office.
Anyway, my camera was still in the room, and we're not going to have time to get there and back here to the Wan Chai convention center before time's up. Pictures next week hopefully...
Elder Brennan McEwan

Nov. 19 2013

…Other than that, all our lessons went really well this week. One of our investigators made us a tasty cheesecake. We devoured it all right after the lesson. We gave another one of our investigators a baptismal date, so that brings us up to three, with another who is doing really well and will probably take a date soon. I've really been enjoying teaching people about the Gospel - it's really awesome to see when people realize how important our claims about religion are. You can really see that the idea that we have living prophets on Earth today and another book of scripture to prove them just blows people's minds. It's even cooler to see people feel the spirit. Sometimes they don't really recognize it, but there's just something in their face that says "Oh - We've gotcha, don't we?"

The language is coming. I've had a lot of other missionaries tell me that I'm doing really well for how long I've been here. I've got a decent vocabulary, it's just pronunciation that's the problem. A lot of natives tell me I'm really smart to know Cantonese, but I think some of them are just being nice. I know for a fact my tones are still pretty bad. Stupid tones. I have a tendency to try and put emotion into my voice when I'm talking  in an English sort of way, which completely jacks up Cantonese tones. I'm getting really good at recognizing the "I have no idea what you just said but I'm too nice to say anything about it" face. It's an important skill for new missionaries.

I'm getting better and better at understanding what people are telling me too. I'd say I'm up to about 75% understanding when people are talking about church-related things. Plus, I'm getting pretty good at picking up random snatches of conversation from the street. I felt really cool last night because I randomly understood two old people complaining to each other about how tired they were. I'm getting better, one word at a time.

Oh, thinking of old people, have I mentioned that the old people here are SUPER WEIRD? Seriously, every morning we run over to a soccer court to do some working out. Every morning, there's a line of at least five hundred old people that have probably been waiting for hours to get a newspaper at 7:30. Even weirder - most of them are passing the time by reading a newspaper. Half the time it's the exact same newspaper. Whuh? The ones that walk around are even weirder. Whether it's clapping with every step, buzzing like an alarm clock, or blasting Cantonese opera from a boom box as they walk... there are some seriously strange old people here.

Love ya guys!

Elder Brennan McEwan

Elder McCade Tracy

October 28, 2013

I've quickly learned that here in Owensboro, they proclaim to be the capital of quite a lot of things, but no I haven't had any BBQ pulled pork, I'll have to see what the members fix us in this upcoming week, it's really cool that the members actually feed us and they really want to help move the work forward because this place is so close to becoming a small ward, yesterday we were at 116 on the attendance and to be a ward we've got to hit 125 consistantly for 3 months, I know that it's about to happen!
Yeah, I'm really lucky to be in a car and to actually get to drive if I want to :) Yes, Elder Stoddart and I are getting along just great, we each are covering each others weaknesses and we've been working really well together and it started from day one of the companionship, that's the great thing that I love about being able to teach with just about everyone no matter how long or how short we've been teaching or paired up together. We've been pretty busy, we've been working a lot with the LA in the branch trying to get the families back to church, but it's all just a matter of time before it all happens, at this point not a whole lot, they're keeping the reading committment but they haven't been coming to church, hopefully that will change with all the great people who we've met just in the last few days and I really feel that we'll be able to get a couple baptisms in this transfer and it all relies on the work that we do as missionaries and how we handle the situation that the Lord has put us in during this companionship.
High - Getting the chance to help someone move, and they're moving to Utah with a very active member family to go to the Sundance festival in Park City, the guy that we helped move is not a member but I don't doubt that he'll become a member sometime.
Low - Just not having anyone who committed to church come.
I learned that I can be bold and loving with people to get a point across to those who we're teaching, and in doing so I bear my testimony because I can relate to a lot of things that our investigators are going through and what they're struggling with. This is also the spiritual experience from this week.
I think that everything that I experience and learn is the most important thing because I am continuing to learn new things, and with each one I become a better missionary, person, son of God and a better representative of the Lord Jesus Christ. So my mission, so far, is the most important thing that I've learned. I've learned so much about myself that I've really become a different person because of it, and I wouldn't trade this experience and this challange for anything in the world.

November 4, 2013

We're still in the mid to upper 60's here in Kentucky :) I would love to have at least some snow, maybe not to shovel off a parking lot but I do miss the Utah snow in early November, yeah, and I really do miss that good old Utah weather every now and again but we'll just have to wait and see with this Kentucky weather in a few weeks.
Yes, the car is now fixed after we biked in the rain for three days, but it was really good and we'll be biking a whole lot more, to save miles as well as have the opportunity to contact a lot of people tht we don't have the chance to do in a car as we drive past a whole lot of people every single day. They got rear-ended a couple weeks before the transfer ended, this last week was a good one, as we were waiting for the car, or more specifically on Halloween we hung out with the bike Elders at about 6 (from 6 on it was non-proceliting) we knew that there was a storm headed our way so at about 8:30we left and just as we got down by Moreland Park the Tornado siren went off, and trying to be hard-headed I told myself that we were just gonna keep going, but another part of my mind said "stop, turn around and talk to your Companion." As I turned around Elder Stoddards eyes were as big as plates, and he said we're going back to the bikers apartment. As we were riding along I said a small prayer asking if this was something that is either keeping us safe for another reason or something that I needed to experiance to help me know that there are many dangers out there, as I did that the feeling came over me that yes, in an answer to both questions, and the talk "Behind Enemy lines" by President Packer came to my mind and this experiance will never leave me. We did end up making it home safely, and there was a small tornado that did touch down in Newburg for a little while.
Yeah, we've been able to stay busy no matter what we do, we've met so many different people this week. The members have been doing all that they can to help move the work forward, they've been giving us so many referrals that we've contacted 7 and we've got 4 left to contact this week! They really want to become a Ward, so that we can build a new building in the spring :)
 Halloween got moved to Nov. 1 because the storm happened on the 31st, we were at our Branch mission leaders home for "Halloween night in November" and we only had two people come to the door, we were playing apples to apples and we heard the doorbell, so all six missionaries who are in the Branch, 4 Elders and two Spanish sisters, went to the door and scared the crap out of two teenage girls, one of them grabbed her phone and acted like she was getting a phone call! It was a really funny experience :) 

November 12, 2013

We've met a few really interesting people this last week, and probably the best part was Sunday because after church we had a church open house/ church tour, and the missionaries were the tour guides as some of the members were helping to explain some of the things that we do in a few of the rooms that we took them to. Also, we met this guy that's a WWII buff, he's got a whole lot of cool things from WWII, right now he's a member of the Owensboro Catholic Church (one of the mega churches in Owensboro) but we'll be working with him as much as possible and trying to get him aquainted with more members of the Branch.
High- The church tour, as well as getting an investigator to church! Her name is Adrianna, she's a 9 year old granddaughter of one of our investigators named Linda, Linda would have been at church too but she wasn't feeling very well, also we had a few less actives come to church as well, and Cynthia (she's a recent convert) brought her boyfriend named Eric to church and he said that he enjoyed it and would like to come back next week and he's starting to become interested in hearing us out so pretty soon we'll hopefully be teaching him.
Low- getting a small cold, but I did get some mucinex to fight it, so everything is under control.
This week was just like a normal week for me, not anything too big happening.
I learned that I need to be the absolute best missionary I can be, that's how I will have success, I need to work harder than I have been and use my experiances from Louisville to know what to do with the people here.

November 18, 2013

I'm doing really well! Yesterday was pretty interesting as it rained for a good part of the day and then after church we found out that a tornado touched down just west of us, as the day went on the storm seemed to just pass north of us, we were meeting with one of our investigators when a strom siren went off and we looked out the window and we saw clear blue skies behind us so we didn't worry about the supposed strong storm coming our way :) It was really a blessing because it led us to work even harder, and I even mentioned it to Elder Stoddard as I said "God must really want us to work today" in the end we really did see the fruit of being able to work all day, we ended up teaching a full restoration to a couple we met last week, as well as contacting a referral from the sisters and they're pretty interested as well. A lot of really good work is happening here in Owensboro and I feel that we'll break out of this dry spell of no baptisms here very soon and I'm so excited to be a part of it!
Yes, my cold is getting better and I'm feeling a lot better this week, up until yesterday we were having some cold temps. but it wasn't that bad and so far no snow, just A LOT of rain! Yesterday it was about 70 degrees in the middle of November! Super crazy! 
Transfers are on the 26th, and I'm almost positive that I'll be staying here in Owensboro for quite sometime, and I couldn't be happier because of the great things that are happening right now and all the success we're having as we're teaching some part member families as well as some that we're finding through our own efforts.
High - Having the storm pass by us and being able to work for the rest of the day without harm or restriction, as I said before it was a huge blessing to work all day after church, the first thought I had as I looked at the clear blue skies was "there must be a reason why God allowed this to happen, this is our chance to make the most of the day..." it helped us recover from the two days that we didn't really do much (Tuesday - Pday, Wednesday- Zone Conference) it really gave me a boost to move forward as we're going along for this next week and have a lot of things lined up for Wednesday this week with all of our new investigators!
Low- not getting anyone to church, but it wasn't that bad because there were a lot of LA that came to church, and we have a better out look for next week with the Part member families coming to church.
We've been up to a lot this last week, a lot of driving around, we went on exchanges on Saturday and we spent the night up in Tell City, Indiana and we drove back Sat. morning at about 7 am :) That was certainly a fun drive, and I had to drive because our District leader got his driving privilages taken away for the rest of his mission. Other than what I've already explained in the email, not a whole lot more has gone on, I'm just getting ready to tackle this next week and move forward in the work as I approach the 9th month of my mission in a couple weeks!!!! You know as well as I do, that Heavenly Father will bless you through your efforts as you reach out to others and help to bring back those who haven't been at church for a while.
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Elder Colton Price

Well this past week was awesome! And the start of this week has been spectacular as well! I went to a meeting last Wednesday and we were taught by President Porter and by Brother Wade (Someone high up in the missionary department). 
Elder Nixon and I are still companions, but it is still a possibility that one of us will be transferred on the 26th so, who knows. I hope I get to stay with him, he is just so much fun to be with and he is really in tune with the spirit. When we teach he is always able to really bring the Spirit and soften people's hearts. 
I just got back from exchanges with the Elders in Eaton. I went with Elder Sorenson. He is from Laramie Wyoming and he has been out for almost 9 months. He is a great missionary with a huge potential to be a leader. It was fun to work with him in his area for a day. 
 The weather here is cold...below freezing cold, but other than that it is still beautiful. There was snow on the ground yesterday when we woke up and it was 23 degrees outside. I have given in to the dark side...I just started wearing a scarf. It should really help when it blows freezing wind down the back of my neck, but we'll see. 

So while I was at the meeting and even at zone meeting yesterday we learned a lot about the doctrine of Christ and the doctrine in the lessons in Preach My Gospel. We were asked if we could teach each of the lessons in one or two words. Can you do it?
What word would you use for lesson one? lesson two? etc.
I testify that Preach My Gospel is modern scripture. It is designed to help us understand the Celestial law of the gospel. We are learning how heaven is going to be like. 
I want you to know that I know that this gospel is true. I know it without a doubt. The Church IS true! (exclamation point) Jesus is the Christ. He is the Anointed Savior of the children of God. Because of His sacrifice we are able to have agency, and without agency the plan of God would have no power to save. He cannot force us to become like Him, so He won't. I am so grateful for the grace of The Father and The Son in giving us this gospel. I am grateful for the Holy Ghost and His guidance and care for us all. I know that we have prophets today and that this dispensation started in 1820 when a young boy knelt to pray. I know that Joseph Smith saw Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. He was allowed to restore the Church in behalf  of Jesus Christ. He brought about the Book of Mormon--the truest book on earth. Thomas S Monson is the prophet today. Of this all I bear testimony in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sister Sydney Burningham

Hi Everyone!
Turns out it was Veteran's Day yesterday, those Monday holidays they'll get ya on the mission.  But the good news is I get to take some time to email now.  I'm actually on exchanges with some sisters in a different area because we have to do three exchanges this last week before transfers.  And that is where our story begins.
Last Tuesday, a week ago, Sister Whitehead had to go get rabies shots because she got attacked by a cat in Middlesboro, Kentucky on an exchange.  There were five shots she had to get at the hospital, so we went to the hospital and we finished getting her shots.  We get a call from our mission President, President Irion, and he tells me that a Sister in Rockwood, Tennessee has been very sick and her Mom was on her way to pick her up to take her home, she had been out a year.  What he needed from us was Sister Turner.  They took her from us and put her in another area, an emergency transfer, I had heard of those but I had never actually had one happen to me or my companionship.  We had less than twenty-four hours left together.  It got worse as Sister Whitehead and I had to leave to go to mission leadership council that day with all the zone leaders and other sister training leaders so we found out and then left her alone with another sister for the day.  We got home that night and she was a wreck so we got her packed and she left around 9 Wednesday morning.  Now there are a lot of things I learned from this experience.  I learned how much I love Sister Turner.  I learned that I need to be keeping track of all the little details she remembered haha, we went out with a member the next day and we had like no addresses or numbers for people, she always took care of all that, used the phone called people/texted people.  So needless to say Sister Whitehead and I are stepping it up now.  Transfers are a week from tomorrow and anything could happen so I'll keep you updated.  I have learned more about how to adjust and get outside my comfort zone in ten months than I have in twenty one years of life.  It's just amazing.
As for our area, it is just amazing.  We have two people with a baptismal date, Misty Ramirez, her husband is a member, she loves the church and is really excited for baptism.  We've seen her come so far and we can't wait for her to raise her family in the Gospel.  We also have David Lee getting baptized, he is really struggling with some things right now but we are trying to help him through it.  There are members getting involved too and that is when things start to happen, when you involve members in your investigators lives.  It's just amazing the success we've seen as we've had goals to be exactly obedient and just always out building people up and inviting them to learn more about the Gospel. 
I know I say it every week but I just love my mission, this is exactly where I'm supposed to be.  I was reading a talk my good friend Sister Stone has (she's going home in a week) she said it really helped her on her mission I'd like to just share one part of it with all of you back home.
"I am convinced that missionary work is not easy because salvation is not a cheap experience, salvation was never easy.  We are the Church of Jesus Christ.  This is the truth.  He is our great eternal head.  Why would we believe, why would we think that it would be easy for us when it was never, ever easy for him.  In turn, how could we possibly bear any moving, lasting testimony of the Atonement if we have never known or felt anything of such an experience?... We have every reason to stand tall and to be grateful the Savior and Redeemer of the world knows all about our sorrows and afflictions and that for a moment or two in our lives we will understand what he went through for us.  The only way to salvation is through Gethsemane.  The only way to victory is the victory or the summit of Calvary.  Welcome to the journey of the Disciples of Christ."
-Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
We are part of something so much bigger than we will ever be able to comprehend.  Right now we as full-time missionaries are just running one short leg of the race and I'm so grateful that the Lord trusts us like he does.  Members and missionaries are working together to bring his children back to him.  It's just the best thing, ever.
I love you all alot, thank you for your prayers and love I feel it everyday! 
Sister Burningham

Elder Justin Thiel

Dear Family,

Things have gotten a lot better this week. I received the card from Kay and the money she sent me.  Tell her thank you for me.  It's getting so much colder out here. in the morning and at night it gets down to the low 50's and it got down to the 30's for one night and the humidity just makes it so much worse.  I have a request for you guys: when you can spare it I need some things as of this time. 1. Next transfers is on the 26 and if my companion leaves then I am left without a gps... so if you guys could get me one it will be much appreciated. 2. Also I have a small dvd player ( all missionaries have one in their apartment) and I have time every morning to work out so I would love it if you could send me a copy of the insanity workout with a calendar, that's if you can.  I would love to come back from my mission fit and be fit on my mission. 3. Lastly I would love it if you could send me some mittens because my hands get pretty cold and with the mittens if you could send me my red stripped hoodie ( which I left in the van ) to me for something warm to wear on p-days and at night. I know that this is a lot to ask and take your time if you need to, I'm just saying that I will need these items in the future.

Things are really starting to pick up here.  We now have 2 people on date for baptism.  One is named Eddy and he is a golden investigator.  He is planning on being baptized on the Nov 23.  The other is named Johnnie.  I think that I've told you about him in the past but now he's starting to get ready for it.  We have the largest teaching pool that we've ever had right now so we're pretty happy.  We are going to make sure that we continue to keep this up.  We have been going to see former investigators and going tracting, which I don't like to do, to find more people to teach. I don't have any funny stories this time, I'm afraid but I have had some funny moments with the sisters in my district and my companion.  They like the different voices that I can do.

For Halloween we got to come back to our apartments at 6 and do whatever we wanted till 10:30 so I just studied the whole time.  It was great and I learned so much.  Our ward did a trunk or treat and I got to try a boiled peanut..  It was nasty.  I didn't get any candy from the trunk or treat though sadly enough.  My members don't love me :(

One thing that we did this week was bake a cake for one of our investigator's birthday.  We made the cake ourselves and everything went well until my companion tried to take the cake out of the pan.  You see we did a 2 layer cake and the bottom layer came out just fine, but when my companion tried to take the top layer out of the pan, the cake ripped in half.... so what I did was mended the cake back together with frosting and then used tons of frosting to make it so you couldn't notice that the cake was in pieces.  It looked perfect when it was done and I was so proud of myself.  I'll have to send you a picture of it.  It also tasted pretty good by the way.

Well I love ya'll and thanks for all the support that you have given me.  I hope that you continue to read together as a family and I hope that moms leg gets better. and dad still owes me some of his missionary stories! Don't let him forget.

Elder Thiel   

Elder Seth Garner

Dennis Reynolds and Elder Garner

Quite a bit has happened since my last e-mail. I have a new companion! His name is Elder New! He is from New Mexico, and we were in the same district when I was in Julian, so we were already good buddies! He is 6'7'... The guy makes me feel like a shrimp. He has got a good six inches on me! Aside from that, he is great missionary, and I have loved serving with him!
We have a couple investigators with baptismal dates! Aaron Gadberry is back on for the 21st of December, and we added an investigator named Ben a couple weeks ago who has a baptismal date for the 4th of January. When I was with Elder Carey, we street contacted Ben outside of his apartment. He told us that he had ordered a free copy of the Book of Mormon online, but it never came in the mail, so he was pretty upset about it. He wouldn't accept a copy from us, and our visit was very brief (He was quick to run back into his apartment because he didn't want to be seen with the Mormon boys.). We decided to drop by this last week and give him his Book of Mormon. He accepted, we taught the Restoration, and agreed to prepare for baptism! We are hoping to get the Taylor family with baptismal dates here soon as well. Kyle Taylor came to church last week and loved it! He pretty much asked us when he would be getting baptized! We want to make sure everything is ok with his mom first, and hopefully get her and Nick on board for the same day as well.
This last Saturday was the greatest day of my mission. I received special permission to attend Dennis Reynolds' baptism in Julian. Words cannot even begin to describe the joy and love that I have felt for that man, and for the changes he has made. It was one of the most sweetest moments of my life! I am SO happy! Dennis has come down quite the road. Just over a year ago, he was an alcoholic of forty plus years, addicted to cigarettes, and homeless. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has truly changed his life! When I first met Dennis eight months ago, he seemed like the grumpiest, most bitter old man there ever was. Now I do not know anyone in the world that is happier than that man! I love Dennis!
We are receiving a new Tagalog companionship in our zone, so we have to go pick up some new missionaries and get things set up for them. I know Christ lives. I have seen his hand in my life and in the work of salvation. I cannot deny it. I love my mission, and I love my Savior!
         Elder Garner

Boy, this week is packed! We are not going to have too much time to do work in our area, due to many, many meetings and training exercises. This Monday, we had our Mission Leadership Council, tomorrow we have our zone meeting and we need to plan for our Mission Training Exchange which is on Thursday (that is where I leave my area for a day to coach other missionaries), that will get done on Friday, and then on Saturday, I will hopefully be heading back up to Julian to see Diana Sherwood get baptized! Man, this week is crazy!
Sunday was awesome! Kyle Taylor came to church again, and we were able to give his mom a blessing after. They are so ready to be baptized! Kristy doesn't want to rush things, so we will see where that goes. Aaron Gadberry is back on for baptism on the 21st of December. His anxiety has been holding him back from getting to church, but I know he can do it!
So our zone meeting is tomorrow, and I have felt prompted to teach about charity. Having Christlike love for those you teach is SO important. We have so many great examples in the scriptures of men who had the greatest love for those they served. In the bible dictionary, Charity means the greatest love of all. Christ was the most perfect example of showing this love. He did it in so many ways, but the greatest way he showed it was through the Atonement. Charity never fails, and neither does the Atonement, because that is the pure love of Christ! When an investigator understands the Atonement, they can easily feel God's love for them. Being able to show that Christlike love towards the people you teach is so key in letting them know that they are not only loved by you, but by the Savior.
This week is going to be rough with trying to visit people in our own area, but, I am looking forward to it! Dang, being a missionary ROCKS!
       Elder Garner

Elder Zach Beckman

HOLA everyone!!!
How the heck is everyone?? Well I'm doing good!!! Thanks for caring, but wow, was this last week awesome!!! Elder Seegmiller and I did WORK this week!!!  We taught 35 LESSONS!!!! in 1 WEEK it was so sweet we were just on fire!!  But man was it a ton of work, but Seegmiller is so legit he has only been out a month and loves working hard and has such a desire to be a successfull missionary!  I love being his companion... NOT his Trainor his companion!  He doesn't need a trainer he is so good ha ha!
But this week alot of fun stuff has happened!!!  To start off with a funny story with Janet. Well we were out trying to find new people to teach and we get this call from Janet and she is freaking out on the phone saying "Guys I need your help... my daughter is coming over for dinner and I am super behind on making dinner I need you to come make dinner while I clean up the house!!!" So of course we dropped what we were doing and went right over and started cooking an awesome meal!   It was awesome ha ha but as we were cleaning up and about to leave her daughter walks in and HOLY COW!!!   She was drop dead gorgeous!!! ha ha Elder Seegmiller was like "ARE YOU KIDDING ME... WHY DO WE HAVE TO LEAVE??"  ha ha ha ah but after that we left and went and taught a bunch of scheduled appointments!!  So that was a pretty fun day!!!
Next story was a way fun service project we did!! So a less active and his non member wife call us up and say hey we need you guys to come help us move some stuff.  But it wasn't just a random family, we visit them everyweek with out fail, so I know them actually really well.. well anyway we go to help them move all of this stuff and turns out we ended up staying and helping them paint their whole upstairs!!!  It was actually way relaxing and a good time.  They fed us lunch and then we painted some more and it was funny cause Bro. Krechmur, the less active, was like... "well all I have to do now is clean out the rain gutters"... so immediately Elder Seegmiller climbed out the window and started doing it for him.  It was awesome and alot of fun believe it or not!!  I love helping people all the time! Iit makes me feel needed when people call for service!!
Well another story about Janet was we were in a lesson with a member and we get this text from her saying,     "Hey can you take me to the hospital real quick, I'm having a alergic reaction.... so we rushed over there and took her to the hospital and gave her a blessing!  It was kinda scary but exciting at the same time... so from like 6 to 9 o'clock we stayed at the hospital with her just talking and telling her about how when you are baptized and become a member of the church,  you get home teachers who are there to help you out,  so if things like this ever happen you can just call them and she thought that was a cool thing about the church and she wants to get baptized on Dec. 4th so hopefully it all works out for her... but ya we took alot of pictures and Videos through out  the week it was a lot of fun.
Well not much else has happened besides all of that, but ya just another week of working hard and Doing work!!! But ya I'm loving it out here and LOVE RICHMOND!!! The ward out here is so awesome and they just take care of us so well its awesome!!!  But just know I know the church is true and I love being a missionary... It's the greatest thing in the world!
Well until I write next week,  peace out.... LOVE YA!!

Elder Dallin Stout

On Monday, November 4, 2013 1:35 PM, 
So the first person I talked to on my first day, her name is Tanya and we finally got a hold of her! I taught her the Restoration and she's really open to learning, but she is not yet an investigator because she told us to come back whenever rather than a specific time.  Marry has memory problems and has been taught since the beginning of this year.  On Saturday she said she would get baptized if it meant she would be following Christ.  But yesterday she told us she would never get baptized because she thinks 2 times in her life to other churches is enough. It's difficult but it answered my prayer for her to be honest with us. My companion is very hard working and I'm so glad for that!  It's good to know you're doing all you can to help people. I'm worried about Troy we haven't seen him in a week and can never get a hold of him. I got my new bike on Saturday! So happy that I don't have to borrow an Elders huge mountain bike anymore! We do have a car that we use every other day so that's nice. Every companionship in the mission gets a cell phone to contact members and Investigators. 
  One of the members in my ward is Jack Regus. He danced with Judy Garland, taught Elvis Presley how to dance, and won an Emy award. I have a picture with it! 
Another recent convert was recently divorced from her husband who is the number one most recorded drummer in the world. The ward is awesome here they are all so willing to help us out.

On Monday, November 11, 2013 1:19 PM
Hey so I forgot to mention when I was on the plane over here I sat next to Elder Smoot.  He lived in Box Elder and was a wrestler there until his senior year. He was in a bike accident and barely survived. His cousins wrestle at Box Elder, they're Nick Sorenson, Raxton Yates, and Brock Hardy. (jr. high)  In my area the high school is called the Thousand Oaks Lancers. That's pretty cool.  I feel kinda at home when I go by it.  Anyway I found out that my companion was just Trained by Elder Jackson, who has a girl friend in my dad's ward in Roy.  She is Angelica, one of the young women in my Sunday school class there. 

So this week we had lunch with some investigators. Ron and Jeanie, they made us roast, potatoes, corn, pie, and ice cream! We rolled out of the house so full! We didn't eat anymore that day.  Luckily we weren't scheduled for dinner with a member. Yesterday one of our recent converts, John Grund, didn't come to church. His mom is Marry an investigator. We went over to visit them after church.  John was upset because of his current situation. He basically told us about how he was set up and the courts are corrupted and it ruined his life. We had no lesson plan, but we told him how trials come to us and to make this short he can't do anything about that, so stop complaining and do something now. Elder Driggs was completely guided by the spirit on what to say, and at the end of the lesson John's attitude completely changed. We were able to help him and his mother Marry was there just watching. I know she felt the spirit was there and the lesson wasn't for her. 

I read a talk this morning by Elder Bednar, it is called 'Things as they really are'. It is so straight forward and helpful. EVERYONE IN SOCIETY SHOULD READ THIS!!!!! take the time for the Lord and read it, it would be good for a Sunday thing.     

On Monday, November 18, 2013 1:05 PM, 
This week was very interesting, I went on splits with the zone leaders, the traveling trainers, and a blitz with Elder Watt. On Wednesday I was with Elder Eastman, we spent the whole day, it seems wandering, and no one we planned for was available. That morning we studied in Doctrine and Covenants, and read about Elders who needed to get to Saint Louis. They traveled quickly there on a river and the Lord corrected them to slow down and help people in the area. They made their way slower and met up with other Elders. Then they arrived in Saint Louis exactly when they needed to. This is what happened with Elder Eastman and I, we wandered and talked to a few people. Then we prayed and asked for guidance, we felt that we should return to the first area we were in for the day and talk with a woman who said we could come back later. On the front porch of the house next door was a young man who recently graduated from high school. His name was Daniel and we taught him the Restoration. We were talking for an hour and a half, we gave him a Book of Mormon and the Bible. We told him that as he comes to know the truth of our message that he will have a desire to be baptized, and then invited him to do so. He said yes, and was excited to read and learn. This whole day was for Daniel.  I learned that with patience and trust in the Lord,  He will guide and bless us.
That same day my companion Elder Driggs was with Elder Bate, they had an unexpected lesson with our investigator Marry. Our plan was to let her know that we were slowing down the visits and let her develop a desire to know the truth for herself. They told her that and she understood why. Last night just before bed John ( Who is Mary's son ) sends us a text. He said Mary came to him and they read out of the Book of Mormon. She expressed her desire to be baptized to him!  I thanked the Lord after hearing this and felt more joyous for her than I can remember.
I only get an hour a week to do Email, it takes most of my time to read them all and write to my mission President. I might not respond but if you send me letters in the mail I have a better chance at writing you back.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Elder Colton Richins

I have no time really to write today. You know how crazy transfers are...but I do have new information for you. Needless to say my new transfer call has stressed me out of my mind to the freakin max. I haven't really been able to sleep or eat much because of it....well I'm guessing you are wanting to know what it is now, huh? I was transferred out of Viseu (I will miss them all so much) and I was released from being zone leader. I have been called to be the new Branch President of the Lagos branch. (the cool part of it, is this is the area that Kyle Lemperle ended his mission. So I am excited about that) But the whole branch president thing completely freaks me out. I am also district leader over some sisters. Yay. I know that the Lord qualifies those that he calls...I would be lying, however, if I said I wasn't nervous beyond all belief. I'm fine being a zone leader and being responsible for missionaries...but for a whole branch of members with physical and spiritual needs?!  President called me the other night and told me the situation of the branch. It sounds like there is a lot of work to be done here...he told me that they are currently looking to interview a couple of people to be the branch president here, who is an actual member and not a missionary, but until they figure that situation out, I will be the branch president. I talked to the office elders yesterday, and apparently ironically I was not going to come here. President had me assigned to a different area...but I was a last minute change. So....I don't know what to do basically. :/ I don't have a ton of information for you right now...I'm just have no idea where to even begin with anything. I'm meeting with my counselors today to kinda get an idea of what I'm supposed to do..and there is a senior couple missionary that said he would stay in contact with me to help me out if I need it as well. President said that he expects baptisms in the branch as there is going to be major juggling required in this whole process. Well...please pray for me. I will probably...most definitely be ending my mission here. I'm looking forward to the lessons I will learn from it. I know it will help me to grow in ways that are not possible any other way. I don't feel like I have a sufficient knowledge of the church to do this...but the Lord knows better than me. I will just have to trust in Him like never before. Anyways. There is the news. PRAY FOR ME. :) Also. I got your package! Thank you so much! I'm wearing new socks and shirt and garments right now. It is quite nice. 
I love you! Thank you for all the support and love you have given, along with everyone else in the family! Wish me luck. I'm gonna need a whole lot of it!
Love, Elder Colton Wayne Richins

(another weird thing is that I won't be going by elder anymore...but by president... :/ :/ :/ :/ ) 

Elder Bremen Acord

Good Morning my wonderful family! How are all of you?
So last night we got a pretty interesting transfer call. I was texting President about how the attendance was in Sacrament this week and I told him that he better not call us because I really didn't want to leave. He texted back, "sinto muito" which basically means I'm sorry. Then he made us sit there and be super stressed for another hour! He then called and I refused to answer the phone, so Elder Darling answered it and started freaking out and making weird faces and stuff. Then he got off all mad and he said that we are both getting transfered to Praia to serve as the new zone leaders of the new zone in Praia. A new Island got opened up for the first time ever, Maio. And It is now part of our zone, which means that I'm going to be visiting Maio too! Sooo it super sucks that Im leaving Porto Novo, but at least I am staying with Elder Darling and we are going to be visiting Maio. The really hard part though is that our plane doesnt leave until tomorrow night, which means that our family night tonight is going to be super sad... Some people are going to be pretty upset. I had an absolutely amazing time here in Porto Novo. Easily my favorite area. We had another really good baptism on Saturday that was pretty sick. I have met soo many awesome people here and one day we HAVE to come back here and visit these people. It's weird to think now though that Praia could be one of my last areas. I'm excited, it should be a good experience, apparently we are going to be serving in this brand new branch that is kind of struggling, so we will see how that goes. We also have our mission leadership council on Wednesday this week. I won't be traveling nearly as much anymore. It should be a good transfer.
Okay, I love you family! Have a great week! 

Elder Acord