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!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Elder James Hadley

February 17, 2014

Hi, today is the first day of a new change. I have a new companion, his name is Elder Rodríguez, he is from Northern Mexico, close to my other companion. He talks really softly, its hard to hear and hard to understand. But yeah, I'm excited to get to know him more. He is 26, so that's cool. 

So, before the first interview with the Mission President I was in his office looking at the pictures of all the Elders, and I knew straight up that Elder Ibarra was going to be my first trainer. I knew it without a doubt. And so, the first 6 weeks started. And really, they were so amazing. There were hard times, but when I think back it was such a fun and amazing time. Elder Ibarra and me got along extremely well. He said I was his absolute favorite companion of his whole entire mission. I don't know if that was way true, but yeah. we focused a lot and worked hard, but joked around a lot and had fun. I loved it. I hope that I can bond well with the rest of my companions.

So yeah, 3 months down. Which is 1/8th of the way done. It feels like I just started my mission, but also that I´ve been doing this forever, its the weirdest thing. I'm way excited to experience everything that is coming my way, and I´m excited to go home and start that part of my life too. Everything is just exciting.

Really, nothing is really that hard. I live in hilly mountain área, and running up hills and stairs can be the most exhausting thing ever. We had a gigantic cockroach in our apartment, and tons and tons of other stuff. The only thing that is hard for me is the whole time factor. But, I can focus on how great it is. Its exciting and discouraging how long it is. But really, I´m doing so great. I just need to take it a day at a time.

So, parents, I guess I never told you why I chose to come on a mission. In all honesty I didn´t want to go my whole entire life. Seriously, even when I was little and we sang I hope they call my on a mission, I always thought, nooooo! But, at Snow, I realized something very important. That I have seriously had the absolute best life anyone could ask for. I can´t think of anything that could make it better. Our family is so amazing, and parents, you have done sooooo much for me. I can´t believe how lucky I am. I have felt so much love my whole life, and I felt that I had to share it with people. I had too good of a life and I needed to try and help others. Also, our Ward and everyone in it, and my teachers, and my friends. All of them are the best. I seriously have the best friends ever. You´ve seen how close I am with all of them, its so great.

So yeah, I wanted to say thank you so much.

Love Elder Hadley

Elder Zach Beckman

Mon, 17 Feb 2014 14:16

Hey everyone how are you all doing??? Well I'm doing great!  This week was unfortunately my last week in Englewood! it is kind of a bitter sweet moment for me because the ward wasn't the best but I made the most of it!!! But ya they are actually changing the Zone Leader area to Dayton so my area won't be an area anymore!!! So if you sent me something in the last couple of days chances are I'm not going to get it!... sorry

Well this week was cool we got do alot of things like help baptize a 70 year old man in a wheel chair with one leg who was from Scotland and it was so funny to hear his accent but the spirit was so strong in the room it was amazing... so that happened and another cool thing that happened was we went to this awesome Steak house called the "Buck Horn Tavern" which is so amazing... a member was like get anything you want so I got a 25 dollar new york strip ha ha ha he is loaded rich so I just went for it ha ha ha but ya we had a good time!!!

This week we were also able to go to the hospital to give someone a blessing and help him out.   When I was standing in the hall this lady came up to me and asked if I was a Jehovah Witness? and I looked at her and laughed and I said "Oh, no, sorry I'm with the true church" but she was like a way friendly lady so she laughed and said well my husband is really sick and I was wondering if you guys could come talk to him and so we went in there and talked to him about the church and gave him a blessing also and just had a way powerful lesson!  It was awesome... after we left I was like we should just go hang out at the hospital more often ha ha... 

But it was funny that Nicholas guy I told you about came with us to the hospital with us and when we walked in he tried a pick up line on this cute nurse because it was Valentines day! and it was so funny we were just messin' with each other all day so I totally screwed it up for him and I went up by the nurse and was like "sorry Nick we are already valentines" and she got all super red and stuff kinda like how Heidi goes red but it was so funny he was so mad! but it made my Valentines not that bad after all!

Well that is about all that happened this week I loved being here but it's time to go I guess so don't write me untill I get my new address so ya talk to you all next week love ya!
Elder Beckman

Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:28

Hey everyone!!! Well it's good to hear from all of you I love getting all of your emails even though I may not always write back but I still enjoy reading them!!! 
So I am now in Fairfield OHIO and that is right out of Cincinnati and it is pretty sweet!  It is alot like Kaysville you could say!!  But when we walk through the neighborhoods I feel like I am walking around back home it is weird all of the houses are the same and so ya thats pretty fun but people are kind of mean here so ya I'm trying to loosen them all up ha ha!!  It will take time but I've got nothin' but time so ya ha ha!!  My new Companion is Elder Coughlan... He is from Firth, Idaho ha ha and yes he is a potato Farmer!  But he is sweet!!   He played like every sport in high school and is just a way chill kid to get along with!!!  But ya he was Elder Tavakes companion not too long ago so it is fun being with him!  And yes, I am still a Zone Leader, over the Cincy West Zone!!!

Well in Fairfield it is kind of weird!  There is alot of African people here! For some odd reason there is like a million people from Ghana so like half of our ward is from Ghana and they are all sweet!!  Our ward mission leader is from there and served his mission there and is the coolest guy ever!   He is way big into soccer so when I met him it was a good connection and he is sweet!   I will have to send pictures!  But like half the people we teach are from Ghana ha ha ha but ya I don't really know why they are all here but they are!!! But ya they just baptized this guy named O'lter.  He is from the Micronesian Islands, ha ha ha but he is just so converted to the gospel it is awesome and he is now going to get his family back home into the church and just all of this way sweet stuff!!  I will have to send home a video of him talking its so funny!!!

Well this week has been cool!  Sorry I don't have much to say but next week I will have a bit more to say and something to talk about!!!  But I love being in Fairfield it is sweet but ya my Address is 11651 Norbourne Drive Apt. 216 Cincinnati OHio 45240
I love and miss you all!!! keep smiling and have an awesome week!!!
Elder Beckman 

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Elder Colton Wayne Richins

This last week has been a very inspiring week. I have now set my course for what my focus is going to be for the rest of my mission. This last week we had interviews with President Fluckiger. I love my interviews with him. Especially as a zone leader. His interviews with his leaders are very different from other missionaries. Because he trusts us enough that he just gets right down to business with us instead of asking us how our obedience is, or how our studies are, or our teaching. He trusts us, so interviews with us are straight down to business. We discussed how we were going to make the branch of Sacavem grow. Over the last year it has experienced IMMENSE decline in growth. Almost 2 years ago, the AP's were in this area. And they baptized hundreds of people here...just about all of which are inactive now. It was a time, unfortunately, where conversion was not a priority. The number took the priority over the conversion. That was when I first got here in the mission. You probably remember that time well, from what I wrote at the time. Well since then, the members have lost complete trust in the missionaries. They don't really care to get involved in the missionary work, despite President Monson's counsel for the members and missionaries to work together. President expressed his frustration that the situation with the AP's almost two years ago is still effecting the members. It's time to let go of it and to focus on what really matters! The work of salvation. So we discussed how we were going to help Sacavem become a ward. Sacavem in the last year has gone from a frequency of 170 to 60. How a branch of 170 can still be a beyond me. However, we've got to make the best of what we have right now! It seems that the current problem of the branch becoming a ward is worthy Melchezidek tithe payers. So that is our new focus. This last week me and Elder Denney have begun visiting members and giving trainings on tithing. Carefully going over the blessings that the Lord's modern day prophets and apostles have explained to us. ("The Windows of Heaven," Elder David A. Bednar, Liahona November 2013). And through this we are hoping to acheive the number of 15 Melchezidek priesthood full tithe payers that we need to become a ward. But yesterday, there was presented an even bigger challenge. Before I talk about that, however, at the end of my interview with President Fluckiger I told him that I have 2 months left, and that I really did not want to start dying. I asked for his advice on how I could keep going strong. His counsel to me has become the focus for my last 2 months. And everything that is currently happening seems to be confirming this God inspired counsel. He told me that when he looks back on the end of his mission, he sees that it was full of compassion towards the people. He told me that my desires to be a great missionary pulls a focus on myself. If I turn those thoughts and direct them to the people then I won't care about being a great missionary. Of course, that is important...but it shouldn't be my focus. If I am full of compassion towards the people, as explained in Moroni 7:45-48 (which President Fluckiger invited me to memorize) then I WILL be a good missionary without having an inward focus. So this last week I have started a special study on charity. And I have learned a lot from it. I am praying constantly to be filled with the pure love of Christ and for opportunities to serve and increase this gift of charity. My focus for the last 2 months is charity. Compassion towards those I serve. Then yesterday, to confirm this end of mission focus, we had our branch conference. The stake president came. During the middle of church he pulled all of the branch leaders into a room and we had a "Urgent Branch Council." I can't remember the last time that I sat in such a powerful meeting. This inspired stake president stood, and with GREAT love, repremanded these leaders. Called them to repentance, told them to sacrifice for the cause of the Lord. He told of a couple poweful stories that he has had during his past ministeries as young men's president, and again as bishop. In that meeting there was a change in spirit. He told the leaders that the role of members and missionaries have switched. The missionaries are doing EVERYTHING when their role is to teach the gospel and baptize. The members are the ones that are to bring the people into the fold. And BEFRIEND them. When the missionaries are the only ones that do this...and we are....then the fruits will become weak once the missionaries are gone. The missionaries cannot be the ones to befriend the investigators. The church in Portugal wants to build a "representative chapel" in Sacavem. This chapel would basically be the "face of the church" here in Portugal. But to be able to have this GREAT blessing. The Lord requires MUCH more sacrifice on the members part. President Silva said that he would do everything in his power to help (even move to Sacavem!) to be able to acheive such a great challenge. Within the coming months, the stake president has asked us to bring to church a frequency of 200 people. We are around 60 right now. He asked us. Is it possible? Do we believe in miracles? He said he would be following up with our branch president on the progress. And also he will be following up with me and Elder Denney. We have a meeting with him here in 2 weeks to report the progress. This is inspired of a great leader. I love the leaders in Portugal. So much! They are inspiring men. They all pass through such trials to magnify their callings. They are amazing. I am so grateful to be apart of this work. And since this meeting (which happened just yesterday!) We have already seen some of the members awake to their sense of responsability to the Lord. Wednesday we are going over to this very strong couple in the branch. We are going to go over the entire members list to identify less actives with potential for coming back, and together we are all going to go visit these people and invite them back! The work of salvation in the branch of Sacavem is starting. We have lots to do, and the start isn't hard. It's the preserverance that is hard. And we hope and pray that the new fiery spirit that SOME of the members have attained will spread, and stick. That others also may be able to "catch the wave" is our hope and prayer. So. The end of my mission is set. I know what I want to do. And I pray that Heavenly Father will bless me in my efforts to acheive these just goals.
That is all I have time for this week!  I am glad to hear that you didn't actually get robbed this last week. You guys are dumb. I almost started freaking out when something told me to keep reading. Then I realized that it was a joke. :/ As for my life after the mission. I still am clueless. :) I don't even know if I will know how to live after I get back. Guess we'll see, huh? :) Good thing you're patient, huh? The Lord will help me though. That I am sure of! Anyway, I hope you have a great week! Thanks for your love and support!
Love, Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Sister Sydney Burningham

Sister Whitehead took this lovely one when I was giving a training, so that'll be a fun one for ya, haha. Embarrassing a little bit.

Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 10:27 AM

Hey Everybody!

First I just have to say that Elder L. Tom Perry is the cutest, I mean really!! and he's SO tall.  He came to see us this week as a mission and leaderships of the wards in the area and addressed us about the work of salvation, and the hastening of the Lord's work.  It was so amazing to be able to go to the meeting with members of the ward council and to be able to link arms with them.  I am so grateful for our ward council and our Bishop, Bishop Cruze, they are all taking this meeting we had so seriously.  Let me share a couple of our miracles.

L. Tom Perry addressed us and made sure we understood that the Lord's work is hastening and challenged the members to be better missionaries, to invite their friends to take the lessons in their homes and a lot of other stuff that I'll address later.  Well our ward really took it to heart and some miracles occurred.  So first of all a less-active brother, Daniel Willis, came back to church for the first time in years, his wife is not a member and they've been married for about a year.  She came with him and really felt the spirit, she wants to know more, so of course a member of the bishopbric says "Hey, why don't you and your wife come over for dinner Tuesday and us and the missionaries can teach you more about the church."  the wife was absolutely thrilled and we will meet with them soon. Incredible!!  Then Sister Ida Manuel, from the Philippines brought her friend Analee to church, Analee has a little boy, seven years old and she had been coming to some activities, we asked her if she wanted to take the lessons at Ida's and she said yes!  She loves what she's learning and is excited to see if this is where God wants her to go.

I just have to say, we are so blessed, the ward is on fire and the work is progressing it reminds me of the quote we say every week by Joseph Smith that says:

"The standard of truth has been erected, no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing, persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldy, nobly and independent, until it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb and swept every country and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished and the great Jehovah shall say the work is done."

Elder Zwick of the seventy said this in our meeting:

"Elder Perry is not patient when it comes to the work of salvation because he knows the Lord's timetable." 

The time is now.  The Lord is hastening his work, and we get to be a part of it.  We are all needed and we all have work to do to build his kingdom!  How blessed we are to be members of Christ's church. I hope we can all say as Paul did in 2 Timothy 4:7 I have fought a good fight, I have kept the faith.  We have so much to look forward to and so much hope found in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, trust him, believe that he can heal you and help you overcome challenges and weaknesses, he has been with me every step of the way. 

I love you all so much, you are always in my thoughts and prayers, have a blessed week/day as the people here in the south would say, I just love it.

Sister Burningham

This is my companion, poor girl just couldn't do it some night this week, Jesus The Christ is the book, which by the way is incredible.

This is Darrell he has a fake leg, he was trying to save someone else that had been in a car accident and another car came and hit him too, he is the boyfriend of the roommate of a less active haha if that makes any sense.  We ate dinner with them!
 Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 8:56 AM

Greetings from Tennessee!

What a week, I mean really it's just been the best.  It's always the best.  I can't adequately express myself in words what my mission means to me.  Suffice it to say it's the best decision I have ever made in my life.

This week I was able to go on our last two exchanges for the transfer, I am learning so much from the other missionaries I am blessed to come in contact with.  They all are so talented and have so many strengths and such a special spirit, the most beautiful thing is that they are all so different.  This week I have been thinking about how individual and different we are, and that that's what makes the world so beautiful. 

SO MANY MIRACLES.  The ward council is just setting the example we have team ups with members everyday, sometimes twice a day, they all have given us one referral and our teaching pool is increasing daily.  We've never had this much to do so juggling it all is a challenge but it's a good problem to have.  One woman in particular I'm excited about is Tracy Willis her husband is reactivating and she has signed up to feed us and go out with us on team-ups.. she's not even a member yet!  She will be soon though, I will keep you updated and then they can get sealed in the temple forever, that's ultimately the goal, to continue to make and keep covenants, that's what lacks everywhere else is those two way promises and ordinances, this church is so true.

Funny story of the week I just have to tell you how much I cannot stand stink bugs, they are creepy and you can't kill them because they leave this odor which is horrible and they are everywhere, there's a lot of bugs here but these ones are just, I can't do it, haha.  So we went up to Lakeway and everyone told me good luck in their apartment but they didn't tell me why.  So I walk in and my bed is COVERED in these bugs, Sister Horckley just goes and puts them in this jar thing like it's not big deal, we'll just get them and catch them, don't mind the ones that walk on you all night.  Needless to say I slept maybe one hour that night.  I was legitimately scared to go to bed.  Their district says district prayer every night over a conference call and they asked me to say it, I prayed the bugs would stay away and just felt really peaceful, it's just always a testimony to me that I can just have a conversation with Heavenly Father, he's my father and he loves me so much, everything that is important and significant to me is important and significant to him.  He is helping me change and remember everything I need to to return to him because that is his whole purpose.  [Moses 1:39] Everyday my testimony is strengthened and my conversion is deepened, the amazing thing is at I look outward and help others in their conversion mine deepens, that's the way it works, that's the way he intended for it to work.

"There is not one of us but what God's love has been extended upon.  There is not one of us that He has not cared for and caressed.  There is not one of us that He has not desired to save, and that He has not devised means to save.  There is not one of us that He has not given his angels charge concerning.  We may be insignificant and contemptible in our own eyes and in the eyes of others, but the truth remains that we are the children of God, and that he has actually given his angels-- invisible beings of power and might--charge concerning us and they watch over us and have us in their keeping." -George Q. Cannon

I love you all so much, wherever you are whatever you're doing, keep close to the Lord, he is so much a part of all our lives if we open our eyes to see it.

Have a wonderful week!

Sister Burningham

Elder Dallin Stout

Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 1:29 PM

So we got an awesome new car! The CD player works and it has blue tooth and voice control and all that nice stuff! So Tuesday we did more service for the Weather-stones to help them move down stairs. They have continued to amaze me with how many things they have. Just as I think we are done some closet opens that is full of old computer technology from the 90's. We had several lessons scheduled that fell through with Crista and Dione. We did read from the Book of Mormon with the Voudmaska's, Alma 22. On Wednesday we had a lesson with Madelene about the Plan of Salvation. She is strong in her decision to be baptized and has come to church twice now. We went to see Mary and John. He didn't join us and I am a little worried about him. They didn't come to church or stake conference the week before. Mary forgets about the Word of Wisdom and offers us green tea. usually John is on top of that but it has happened a few times. On Friday we saw Nick and he invited us in for a few minutes to share a spiritual thought with him. He is very kind as says he is the same religion as us. He has none but knows that we are all trying to get to heaven some way. On Saturday we met a family knocking doors, the fathers name is Scott and is very inviting. We have seen Troy a few times and he says he will come to church but doesn't. We saw Debbie who just got back from her vacation in China. She is a recent convert and just had a very bad court case, she is depressed but we are trying to get her to the temple now that she is able to.     

 Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 1:23 PM

Tuesday we had a lesson with Crista. We taught her the Plan of salvation, she seemed to understand but I'm not sure how much she remembers. As we were riding our bikes to dinner a guy named Kenny stopped us. He talked to us for a while and had some questions about our beliefs. He gave us his phone number so we will have to follow up with him. Wednesday we had a lesson with Madelene, we went over the baptismal interview questions. Thursday we had our lessons fall through, but we were  talking with some members and found out that a man named Lamont was moving out that day. We went to see him and on the way we saw a lady by her car with groceries. We offered to help her, we talked to her for a bit and found out that she just moved in and used to feed/meet with missionaries. Her name is Angelica and we set up a time for us to come by and visit! Later that day we tracted a building that a sister in the ward has wanted us to tract for a long time. We found a lady named Maria who had met with missionaries in a different area and preferred them to speak Spanish. So we told the sister missionaries in the area to go and see her. On Friday we had a lesson with the Sheppard family, it has been a long ytime since we have seen them. We clarified a few questions they had in 30 min, and planned to come back. Later that day we dropped by John and Mary's to give them a spiritual message. We walked in and John was cooking a lot of food... We looked at Mary's calendar on the wall and realized we were supposed to have dinner with them that night. We showed up just in time to eat with them, this is the second time this has happened. I think the Lord really puts us in the right place at the right time when we forget ourselves where we are supposed to be. On Saturday I prayed that we could have charity for everyone we meet. Well That whole day we got random people shouting weird stuff at us as they drove by multiple times throughout the day. That usually doesn't  happen, so I knew it was a test from the Lord to see if I really cared about everyone even if they didn't necessarily care about us. On Sunday the whole stake participated in a fast for rain. We had lunch at a members home and afterwards we walked outside right into the rain! The Lord answers our prayers but I get the feeling he will onl provide as much as the people need, because a lot of people use so much water when there isn't that much. So we decided to do some tracting before the Super Bowl started. At one house we were invited in, all the people there were college students from the Lutharin University. They were all in the back yard playing beer pong, their was a huge pile of empty beer cans and one guy we were talking to was holding a funnel with a tube attached to the end and it was full of beer. They told us of a few LDS people they knew so we decided to just give them a card and get outta there.       

Mon, Feb 10, 2014 at 1:10 PM

So I realize that all of my letters are directly addressed to my apartment. Just so ya know, send them to the mission home in Oxnard. The only time you should use my address is when you send a package with perishable items in it and you have called the mission home to confirm where I live.

This week was awesome, we had a lesson with Madelene and taught her the importance of following the commandments. Thursday it rained like crazy all day and we got to ride our bikes in it! I was super happy the whole day it felt so good to have a change and also an answer to all the peoples prayers here. We didn't get to see too many people out that day but the one person we did see of course wanted to Bible bash for a half hour. On Saturday we were able to have Craig (a return missionary from Japan) come with us to our first lesson with Milly. She just moved from 3rd ward to our ward and told us about her life. We invited her to be baptized and she said yes, then told us she wanted to read more of the Book of Mormon to understand the gospel more. She shared with us an experience she had while undergoing surgery. She had a vision that the voice of God told her that she had a choice to move on to the next life or stay and fulfill her purpose. Throughout the vision she explained in great detail what was happening, it sounded a lot like Lehi's dream in 1 Nephi 8. After she told us everything, we made the connection with Lehi's dream and explained to her using the scripture. 
We also met with Kenny, the guy that waved us down 2 weeks ago. We talked a lot about doctrinal things but didn't get to teach much. He doesn't belong to any denomination but is like a pastor. Craig was able to come to that day as well and was of great use to us by inviting the spirit. On Sunday, Valarie and Cassidy came to church on their own for all 3 hours! They have friends in the ward. Cassidy goes to School with a lot of the young women and she was able to join right in with them. We got there phone number and will try to teach them more. I am so thankful to be an instrument in the Lords hands, I am learning more about my Savior every day and I am glad to be able to tell people that I know for a surety that He lives and that this church is truly His church controlled only by Him through a prophet today.     

Monday, February 17, 2014

Elder Colton Wayne Richins

So unfortunately I don't have a lot to say this week. This last week the weather has been absolutely AWFUL! Heavy rain and powerful winds all week long. So the work has been very unproductive. You would think that people would have compassion on some soaking wet missionaries :) but unfortunately that is not the case here. The rain here in Portugal makes it so that you get wet whether you have an umbrella or not. haha. So it's quite the adventure. But yeah it's been a very long week! We're hoping that the weather turns out to be a lot better this week so that the work is more productive...but we have heard from a few sources that the storms will continue. Ugh. 
We do have some bad news on our end. So we called Madjer at the end of Pday last week...and he told us that he is not prepared to do the "church thing" at this moment. So we had to drop him. It was very hard for both of us and a huge downer on our pday. He was so ready and he witnessed first hand the miracles that the gospel brings into our lives. It was sad. We are gonna give him a little time and then we are planning on going back to see if he has changed at all. Maybe after a few weeks being outside of the gospel again he will realize just how much he truly needs the gospel in his life. So we're hoping!

Just a small story and reality of life that we experienced a few days ago. Here on the mission you hear so many people that are rebelling against God because of specific trials that they have passed or are currently passing. There was a man that we met the other day that was affected by polio. He does not have the full strength in his legs anymore. He has to use crutches to walk and is on some heavy treatments. He said that he is Agnostic. He's not Atheiest...he doesn't deny the existence of a God. But he doesn't necessary believe that He is our loving Heavenly Father. He said that he is revolted against Him because of the things that he was passing through. The dude talked a TON so it was really hard to get our message in. Throughout the lesson we were having with him he gave us a 40 minute long history lesson. Then at the end we decided that his heart wasn't in the right place. So we left him with a Book of Mormon, a church invitation, and a pamphlet of the plan of salvation. He said that he would read it and try to figure out the purpose of all of this suffering. Our number is in the book, and we are hoping that maybe after reading, God can touch his heart and he will be prepared to receive the gospel. The reality is that so many people blame God for the trials that they pass through. There is a certain saying that I've heard that says "God gives trials to those whom He loves." On the mission I have learned the truthfulness and reality of this saying. First it's necessary that we think why we are passing through a certain trial. It is no doubt that during the actual trial it can be hard to turn our thoughts heavenward....but once we do, we can realize the divine purposes for the specific trial that we pass through. We learn from the prophets that our trials are PERSONALIZED. Meaning that God wants us to pass through the things that we go through because it is through those experiences that WE become like HIM. That is the purpose of this life, isn't it? It is only through God's will that this is possible. Without it...we are walking in the dark. But I am grateful for the trials that I have been asked to pass through on my mission. I have learned a lot, and I feel like I've grown closer to Him. This last general conference there were many talks that dealt with the subject of trials. I invite anybody that may be passing through something difficult to read these talks. They help us to understand God's divine purposes for the sufferings that we must go through.

Unfortunately that is all I have for this week. Like I said, this last week was not the most productive week. We are all praying for good weather! :) Anyways. I will get my address for you for next week. To be honest, if you wanted to send it to the mission office I am now in Lisbon and super close to the mission office. It won't come directly to me...but it is close. :) But regardless, I will get you my address next week when I figure it out. I wasn't planning on moving from I forgot that I have a new address. :) Anyways. Thanks for everything that you do! I enjoy hearing the stories that happen during your week! I hope that you have a great week! I love you! Until next week!

Love, Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Elder Bremen Acord

 Monday, January 20, 2014 9:48 AM

Hey Family,

So last night I got into my house, we started doing our planning, and getting ready for this week. I was so confident that I wasn't going to get transfered that I wasn't even thinking about transfers. President Oliveira can't make up his mind though and now I am back in Lem Ferreira where I was serving last transfer... haha but now I am serving with Elder Gooch and training him to be a zone leader. I am suuuper excited! Elder Gooch is sweet and it has been our dream to serve together. This transfer is going to be awesome.

This last week was good though. Elder Gourgel and I worked like crazy and made some goals for the area and totally set up this next transfer. I always feel good leaving an area strong for the next person to get there. Varzea is going to have a killer transfer. Elder Darling and Elder Smith were serving in Lem Ferreira before. Now Elder Darling is not a zone leader and he is up in Boa Vista, and Elder Smith is the zone leader in Sal. pretty cool. I think I am going to die here in Praia. Just four more transfers, I see it. 

Thank you so much for the money, I will use it frugaly. I am going to get myself healthy to come home :) Thanks. Also dad, that article thing about the violin was actually super interesting. Whas this Strativarius guy like a complete genious or something? cooked up bugs and stuff... thats weird. Also... yes. I have been kind of bad at writting in my journal. I will try to make it more interesting and write more. Also HAPPY ANIVERSARY! nhôs é bedjo! That picture you sent me mom makes you both look super young. Congrats :) Anyways, I think that is it for the week. Thank you mom and dad for everything. I love you sooooo much! I owe so much to you guys and I will show you when I get home. Have a good week!

Elder Acord

Monday, January 27th
Goood Afternoon!

So I will start will some interesting news. Mom, you asked me what I am going to do for the couple weeks that President Oliveira is gone. You also said that we are going to post pone the Bear Lake games until the 24th so I can be there. Welll.... President Oliveira shortened my whole MTC district's mission so that we can go home with him. He doesn't want the new mission president to have to worry about us for his first two weeks here. So my new release date is June 27th. It was the first feeling I have had about the reality of me actually going home. It was weird. I automatically started to miss Cape Verde. I absolutely love this place. Dad, you wrote me that little paragraph about the small things that happen all around me that I am now so used to that used to freak me out. Then I looked up and saw that I was in this crapy internet café with everyone yelling in crioulo around me. I looked out the window and saw the lady across the street selling bananas. I saw a hiace drive by and scream at some people asking them to get in and go to Assomada with him. So many weird things that I am now so accustomed to. Yesterday one of my investigators got in a car accident and died. Her name is Samira. She is suuuuper nice. All of Lem Ferreira was screaming and crying and moaning all day and all night. It was pretty sad. Dad, if you want to see where I am and where I live, try doing what you did in Assomada and send me a screen shot of Lem Ferreira and I will tell you where I am at. 

The mission has changed a little bit, but not a lot. All the missionaries are all still suuupper young. Some of the Elders that were being trained are now training. I am still in the same appartment as last time. The one I was robbed in. :) Its a nice appartment though.

This week was a hard week of work. I just got in this area completely dead. Pretty much nothing to work with. I wrote Pres and told him to make up his mind because I was just here and he just told me that he needed me back because the zone is dying again. It totally is. There is a lot of work to do here. I'm pretty excited though. Elder Gooch is awesome. It is hard to compare with Elder Darling because he is just the nicest person in the world. But Elder Gooch is pretty much exactly like me. We have very similar personalities and this last week has been one of the most fun on my mission because of that. He is going to be a great zone leader. Probably an assistant. I am excited for this transfer and I hope we get at least one more together.

Tell Sage congrats on her 4.0. That is very impressive. She is kind of amazing. It is going to be super weird to see Jesse that tall. And I'm not going to lie, I looked up Addies videos on Youtube and wow. Her voice is a lot more mature now. She sounds pretty good. The video itself is just kind of weird. Like the camera angles and stuff. Tell Kyle to wait just a little bit longer to get married. I would LOVE to be there for that.  

Anyways... I cant really think of any stories. Things are good though. It's just weird that I am now down to five months left. The rest of my mission is going to be pretty awesome. Thanks for the e-mails your guys. I love you and miss you so much! Have a good week!

Elder Acord

Monday, February 03, 2014 9:50 AM

Whats up team?!

How was everyones week? Mom, you say it's hard for you to write me and not say stuff about me going home. It's the same for me. It's not like I am always super trunky and thinking about home, but when I get on e-mail to write me family. I could say that I become a little bit more trunky and I think about home a little bit more. haha thats okay though. Its just for an hour. 

Dad, that story is super depressing! This 2 years has seemed like an eternity for me and I have been having a blast here. I can't imagine 5 years locked up like that. That must have been super inspiring to the team though. That's sweet that they had another undefeated season. Is this the year that they are going to take it??? That has to happen soon. I heard the super bowl sucked. How are things looking for the Stanley Cup? 

This last week was pretty good, but pretty stressful at the same time. The zone is just completely dead right now. It's sad because just like 2 months ago this zone was absolutely on fire and not even that much has changed here. It will get better though. This last week we visited a couple of the new missionaries houses to do studys with them and it went super well. We also had our zone leaders council on Thursday which was awesome. It was a pretty good one. President talked about how right now we are on the 3rd generation of this mission since he has been here. And he explained how in the Book of Mormon, the people start to fall in the 3rd and 4th generations because the ones before didn't teach them right. It's super true too, when I first got here, there were about 50 missionaries and the mission was baptizing about 30 a week. Now there are 130 missionaries and we are baptizing 40 a week. A lot of the new missionaries don't understand what kind of mission this is. Most missionaries are pretty happy getting 1 or 2 baptisms in a transfer. We are going to break that mind set. My zone is pretty new, we had a good meeting with the district leaders and then we had a zone meeting and It was super awesome! I gave a training on most of Mathew 4. Talking about why his apostles ditched their work imediately to follow Christ when he invited them. I think its Mat 4:16 I don't have my bible on me, but it talks about how Christ entered in the land and the people saw a great light and how the people were in darkness and despair but they saw the light. My training was basically that. How we as missionaries can have that kind of an influence in the areas where we are serving. And how people can see us as that great light and they can feel inspired to follow us when we invite them to. I talked about what Christ did to prepare to have that kind of a light with him and how he first studied and prepared for 30 years. Then he got baptized, then he fasted and prayed for 40 days, and then he was ready for his ministry. It was a pretty good training. I'm kind of getting good at trainings and meetings and stuff. Zone Conference is tomorrow and that will be fun. Also we have an amazing family getting baptized this week. The dad is totally going to be the next bishop in this ward. He is sooooo smart and he was the pastor of another church before. Him, his wife and two of his kids are getting baptized. It will be awesome! Patrik, Betty and their kids Patricia and Yuani. 

Anyways, Family, I love you all soooo much and I miss you sooooo much! Have an amazing week!

Elder Acord

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Elder Justin Thiel

Don't worry about the bed bugs the mission will take care of it. They're not that bad.. the bug guy is coming back again today to spray and we might just get rid of the beds and frames all together just to make sure that they are gone. Did you guys send the insanity and such? If so I haven't got it yet.. the reason that we had to email today is because of Martin Luther King day.  The whole city shuts down for it here so we couldn't get to the library to email. 

I'm doing really good here and I really like it.  Me and Lyman get along great and we have tons of fun. We get work done and we do everything we're supposed to. We also have some sister missionaries that live in the apartment building just across from us so we have a good time with them and we keep each other in line. We have a family of 4 lined up for baptism for the 1st of Feb and me and Lyman are pretty excited for them. They get interviewed on Friday for it and they are excited for baptism as well.  We also have some other people on date for baptism as well in the future so we're praying hard for them as well!  Over all I really like this area and the time is going by so fast. The transfer is already almost half way over and it feels like I've only been here a week.

I finished The Words of Wisdom for Missionaries that you sent me at Christmas.  I found it to be really inspiring. The book was quotes compiled into to subjects from famous people as well as from leaders of the church. There was a lot of good stuff in there and I plan on using some of the quotes for spiritual thoughts that we share from members. One of them that I thought was really good was, "one often thinks about changing the world but rarely does one think about changing ones self."  It said something along those lines. I couldn't help but to ponder that one.    

I hope that everything works out for you guys this week and I'll be sure to pray for grandma's surgery.  I love you all and I'll keep all of you in my prayers!

Elder Thiel

The bed bugs are gone!!!  We got new beds and everything.  The beds are hard as a rock though.. the week was pretty good other then I got sick.  I think that I had strep mixed with a nasty cold but I'm starting to get over it now.  Some members gave me some vitamins and they helped a lot.  The members also made me some delicious soup to help me get better.  This week most of our appointments fell through but we still have the people being baptized Saturday interviewed and now they are completely ready for it.  This means that me and my companion are going to have to go hard core finding more people to teach, but that shouldn't be too had and we have fun doing it.  That's sad that you had to give up piano.  I now wish that I learned how to play it.  I hope that we can get the insanity working.. I really need some good cardio.. I can probably figure it out with the workouts though I'll just have to find a way to time it.  When you send the guitar stuff, make sure that you send my tuner with it because I dont have one.  Thanks for sending it! 

We had stake conference this week and it was a special one.  It was broadcast from Orlando, Florida.  This was the first time that I'd ever been to one like that.  We had Russel M. Nelson, of the 12, speak as well as some members of the 70 like Elder Gay talk.  It was really inspiring!  The topic was about "hastening the work of salvation."  They talked about how these are the last days and the Lord has hastened his work and that we need to do all we can to assist Him in his work.  They also talked about how the members need to go to the missionaries and ask them how they can help us instead of us going to them and asking that question.  I thought that was interesting.  I really love the gospel now and more and more I read the scriptures and listen to the general authorities I realize that I need to learn how to give up the natural man.  This is my goal and what I'm working on more and more.  Loosing myself in this cause.  I'm learning more and more that the commandments are there to do just that.  To teach you how to have your spirit in control of the body.  I hope more and more that I can do this and no longer be selfish in my conduct with my fellow man.  I'm also learning that true happiness comes from helping others and seeing their joy.  I'm also seeing that the Lord needed me here to learn that.  There isn't a better place to learn how to be like Christ than when you spend all day doing His work and loving and seeing people as He would see and love them.  There are so many things that my eyes are now open to and this also makes me realize that I still have a long way to go, there is still much to learn, and there is still much to be done. 

I hope that you all have a wonderful week and that everything works out for ya'll!
Elder Thiel

Elder Zach Beckman

01/20/2014 10:24 AM 
Hey Guys!! Well hello everyone this week has been crazy!!!! so much happens that time is just flying by I can't tell ya how fast time is going!!! Well this week we had a zone meeting where I had to give a 20 min training on how to teach with members more effectively but I had to give it to 4 different groups so that was fun ha ha but we have a way fun zone I love everyone in it except the sisters kinda suck ha ha ha they just put up zeros all the time so we don't know what to do with them except encourage them to do better but it will be alright! Next we had a baptism this Saturday with a girl named Myozhane" ha ha yes.... she is black and she is 9 years old and her two older siblings were just baptized eariler this last year!!! But they are a sweet family but they live in a sketchy area though we are actually not allowed to tract there because I guess some missionaries got beat up or somthing ha ha but it's ok I think the Lord will be on our side
 So what else??/ hmm well we went to this place called the Spaghetti Warehouse in Downtown Dayton with this sick Recent Convert named Paige. She is 21 and takes the missionaries there every Wednesday and it was so fun! It is like a way nice hipster resturante and its super cheap too!!! Well not much has happened this week so I will let you all go now so you can get back to what ever it is that you do!!! I love you all and hope you have a great week love ya!!! 
LOVE Elder Beckman 

 Mon, 27 Jan 2014 11:59 
 Hey everyone!!! how are you all doing?? I am doing great this week has been so much fun and we have been able to do so much fun stuff and get alot of work done also!!! But it has been kind of hard being a zone leader when your Zone struggles ha ha ha it makes you look bad when all of the sisters put up Zeros and the other elders struggle too so ya we are trying to motivate them all to do better and who knows what were gonna do with the sisters ha ha but ya I will keep you posted on how that all goes!!! Well something that was way sweet this week was we went to a Masonic Temple in downtown Dayton!!! It was so sick! This guy in our mission presidency is way high up in the masons and the Knights Templar and stuff like that so he took us on a tour of their temple!!! It was so sweet to go in there and see all of the stuff like holy cow my mind was blown!!! But it is insane how much that temple is like our temples today!! The only thing he said was different was we have the Priesthood!!! and when I say everything I mean everything!!! But the guys name is Pres. Lochinger he is this way rich guy who was baptized like 10 years ago but he is so sweet he has a $30,000 dollar Gold Rolex he wears and he has a plane he takes to zone conferences in far a way places and stuff but he is way sweet I love him but ya that was way fun he took us out to lunch that day and talked about the church and what not and man it was a good time!! Next thing was this week me and Elder Barnett were able to find 15 NEW INVESTIGATORS!!! That was so sweet!! I love going out and finding new people to teach!!! But it was sweet we basically said this week we are going to kill it and we prayed that God would send us a miracle and sure enough he did!!! We found 3 families and 2 random people!!! It was so sweet and they would have all come to church but our church was canceled!!! Because of a little snow!!! Can you believe that?? Holy cow I was so chapped but they are all sweet ha ha and 12 of the 15 are black families too!   So it is a ton of fun to go over there and teach them!!! Well ya that is my week if you have any questions for me you should probably write me and ask ha ha!!  But ya I love being a missionary it is the best thing in the world I would not change it for anything!!! 
Well I love you all 
Elder Beckman

Sister Sydney Burningham

This is Bryan Hicks and Bro. Freestone, happiest day.  I love this man.
This is my girl Camryn Cupp.  She's a rockstar, also one of my heros, she gave a talk on Sunday, general co 
nference status.

Mon, Jan 27, 2014 at 11:29 AM

Dearest Family and Friends wherever you may be,
Good Afternoon!  This morning my companion Sister Weight got to go to Doctor Becker's office to get her cast removed, apparently her broken hand is healed!  It's a miracle.  They were running a couple of hours behind and we've got to still go practice our musical number for zone conference, things have just been the craziest.  It's a weird phenomenon.  I'm so tired.. like all the time.. but I'm so happy, so happy.  Sister Weight and I had a baptism in the Chilhowee ward on Saturday, Mr. Bryan Hicks got baptized.  I will send pictures, don't you worry.  He is the most amazing person, I know I talk about him so much lately but he is definitely our most progressing.  It's also like COLD, really COLD.  I'm told this week is supposed to be worse, the cold is worse out here, it's wet and humid but we're staying alive and hoping for that warm whether to come around someday in the near future. 
I also really just love the Kronick family with my whole soul.  Debbie, the wife is progressing, slowly but surely she just needs patience and love, and of course some outreach from the ward, which has been really great.  She gets invited to things and comes sometimes.  Joe just doesn't really want to do this without her, which makes sense so he hasn't been coming to church as much as we would like, but all in the Lord's time.  Colin Kronick, their son, the 27 year old, however is on fire.  My goodness he is getting his patriarchal blessing on Sunday, he has a new calling in the Scouts, which he is pumped about.  He's also going to the young single adult ward, which he isn't crazy about but he is getting used to it.  Colin is so close to the spirit and so submissive.  He knows what is right and he wants to do what is right.  I am so grateful for his goodness and willingness to continue to progress.  Last night we were talking about how he just wasn't progressing but he wanted to do something and he found it in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, he always says this is how Christ would want it to be, he doesn't want us just standing still.  I'm always so amazed at his faith and his ability to follow the spirit so automatically, I'm not always perfect at that, so he gives me hope.  I just love them, and I can feel every time we go over there or pray for them that perfect love The Savior has for them.
I was thinking today about all the missionaries all over the world.  Each mission has it's challenges and each mission has it's strengths.  There are about seven from this ward serving and I know several in our family and from our home ward.  The faith of these Elders and Sisters out here inspires me to be better.  I have had the blessing of going on exchanges and interacting with so many more missionaries than I would've been able to otherwise and I just have to say, they all have parents and family and friends and loved ones back home, I know how much of a sacrifice it is especially to those who have little or no support, I have been so blessed and I can't say thank you enough for the prayers and love.
I am not a perfect missionary, or a perfect person.  I have weaknesses as we all do and there are several things that I have been working on this week, my conversion will be a process as is all of our conversions but I was talking with Colin last night and he said you always ask me how I know this is true and why I keep going in the gospel and he turned it around and asked me why I keep going, why I'm still a missionary.  I had to take a step back for awhile, I had never thought to ask those questions for myself and the only thing I could come up with is that I know it's true.  It's really hard to explain but I know in my heart this is right, this is real, and this is what matters.  There's a quote I love by Tad R. Callister from the book The Inevitable Apostasy and he says: "Some things we know not because we see them, or hear them, or even because they reason well, but because they feel right."

As we open our hearts up to the spirit it can testify of the truth, if we let go of bitterness and hostility and hurt we can be healed through the Savior and the Holy Ghost will be able to guide us and help us to know that we're on the right path and that this is the way home.
I know I say it every week but I love my mission, I am learning things he I couldn't learn any other way. 
Love you all sooooooooo very much.
Matthew 20:26-28 FAVORITE.

Sister Burningham

Tue, Jan 21, 2014 at 9:57 AM
Love, Loved ones back home,
How is everyone doing?  I have heard from several of you through letters and emails and I'm really grateful for all of you and your love and support.  This week was really great.  We had a lot going on I will just update you on a few things.
So the great news for the week is that Brian Hicks is getting baptized on Saturday!  He is so amazing and prepared.  His comments and questions are like: "How can I receive or give priesthood blessings?"  He just knows he wants this.  He investigated the church a long time ago and he said the missionaries stopped coming because he wasn't acting on anything, and he understood why they left.  But he is at a point in his life now where he's ready to change, he needs purpose and guidance and he knows this is the way he'll receive that, being endowed with God's power to help him qualify for eternal life.  That's really all we want for everyone, eternal life. 
We have this Less-Active named Fran Turpin.  She is the sweetest and she just adopts people and has them over for holidays if they don't have family.  She met this young boy working at Lowe's a few years back and he used to always come over for Thanksgiving.  He got married and has a six month old baby.  Well Fran got a call Thursday morning that he had been killed overseas in Afganistan.  She was so torn apart, he meant the world to her and now she won't see him again in this life.  The most incredible thing happened though, Fran, although not having attended church in sixteen years said "I'm sort of mad and Heavenly Father knows why I'm mad and we've had these conversations before but I'll be at church tomorrow because I know it's where I'm supposed to be." Despite adversity which usually pulls people away from God and the church she is pushing through.  I spoke at church for the first time on my mission on Matthew 22:37-39 there are four things I felt like I really wanted to emphasize.  1. Love Yourself 2. Love Others 3. Love the Lord's Will 4. Love the Lord.  We weren't given topics but the High Council man who spoke after me spoke on similar things, I just am reassured over and over again that we are all on the same team.  That as we are compassionate  and serve others that we will find ourselves and we will become who Heavenly Father created us to be.
In John Chapter 11 Christ raises Lazarus from the dead.  I learned an important lesson from this story after reading a talk as well on it.  Christ could've done everything he asked the other people to do.  He could've moved the stone, and taken off the bandages and all the other things the people were able to do, but he allowed them to do it.  Christ teaches us how to fish, especially in the scriptures he asks us inspired questions to help us answer our own questions that we have in this life.  He is the perfect teacher.  It's another testimony to me that Christ asks us to do all that we can do and then he will take care of the rest.  Just like the only thing he did was raise Lazarus from the dead after the people did all they could and after their increase of faith and action. 
We have a responsibility as disciples of Christ we've made covenants and he has given us the sacred trust to minister to his people, as we do so we change.  I've seen it and I continue to see it in myself everyday.
I love my mission, I mean really it's the best decision Ive ever made.
I love you all! Until next week,
Sister Burningham

This is on exchanges with Sister Gotchy, she's cool, from Layton, UT actually.  There's actually a sign behind us you can kind of see it that says "Wash yo hands." it's my favorite, at Bishops house in the bathroom.