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!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Well things are really coming down to the wire! This last week I realized that if the amazing investigators that the Lord has given us don't get baptized this transfer...I DON'T have another transfer to keep working with them! That was the weirdest thought that came over me this last week!  As far as the investigators go, we are now down to 4 people marked for baptism. The 5th one fell through. I feel she will still get baptized here in the future...but for now she needs to think about what she really wants. But the other 4 that we have marked are progressing wonderfully! 3 of them are marked for this weekend. The 4th one unfortunately still needs a couple more times in church before she can be baptized. So we are remarking her for the 13th of April.  My last Sunday on the mission. :)
So we'll start with the first 2. Sandra and Sandriny. A mother and daughter who are marked for this upcoming weekend. They have been making amazing progress. And they are really into the gospel. They have told lots of family members and friends about what they have been learning from us. And they are always so excited to meet with us! Our only stumbling block right now with them is that Sandra has received an answer, but didn't recognize it as an answer. To us it was obvious that it was an answer! What had happened is that she was praying and as soon as she was done praying she felt inspired to write. She wrote down a bunch of thoughts in her head after saying the prayer. That night that we were there she showed us the notebook filled with thoughts she had written down. Some of the ones that I can remember off of the top of my head were:
"Jesus Christ organized the only true church on the earth. He ordained apostles and gave them His authority."
"Joseph Smith was chosen by God to bring His message to the world."
"John the Baptist was sent from God to restore His authority to Joseph Smith."
It was incredible. And we clearly took this as God's answer for her. But for some odd reason she was saying, "I don't know I don't know. I still have some doubts!" She is an interesting woman, she always looks so excited when we teach her to the point that she struggles to breath! haha. But we are pretty sure that she will decide to be baptized! She came to church for the 2nd time yesterday and loved it! She really enjoys church. The night that we taught her the Word of Wisdom she told us that she had a problem with coffee. We committed her to quit and that we would bring her some cevada. Which has the coffee taste, but it doesn't actually have any coffee in it. She said that she wouldn't drink any coffee until our next return appointment. Then she ran into the kitchen and called us in. She had her tub of coffee and she poured it down the sink and washed it out! This woman has great faith! And her little daughter retains a lot more than we expected!
Next we have Sofia and Lili. The two 19 year old friends. Sofia is the one we are hoping to baptize this weekend, and Lili is the one that we will have to wait on. Both of them are incredible! We only have a couple more commandments to teach them. Tithing, and Chastity. Other than that, they readily accepted the others. They love Iced tea. But when we taught the Word of Wisdom they said that they would no longer drink iced tea. Lili's mom was actually present on that lesson and she said that she would keep this commandment as well and said that she would stop buying iced tea! haha. As soon as Lili is baptized, she is next. ;)
This last week was an amazing teaching week. We had some great lessons with these people. And we have found some other people that look like they have potential! The Lord is blessing us immensely and I am so grateful for that because I have a certainty that if it weren't for His divine help, NONE of this would be happening!
Our zone up until now has 11 baptisms for this month. Our goal was 12 initially. We had raised it to 18 a couple weeks ago. And we have 11 people marked for baptism in the zone for this weekend. We are holding a zone fast tomorrow to be able to help all of these people enter into the waters of baptism!
Things are going great and I couldn't ask for a better end to the mission! I hope and pray that the miracles keep happening up until the very end!
So I am very excited about the flight plans changing again! I was not looking forward to leaving on monday! I have been waiting for my end of mission party with my district since we got to Portugal! So I was ticked that I wasn't going to get it! But now that the plans are changed again it looks like there will still be a party! :D
As far as the room goes..what room am I going to be in? Honestly whatever color you decide to paint it is fine with me. :)
I can't believe how much health problems are going on in the family! How is McKay doing right now? He has really had it rough since being home from the mission. Maybe we should consider holding another family fast for him. Let me know if you decide to do that. I will definitely contribute.
I have had my last zone conference. It was on my birthday. :) haha. It was the most I have ever participated in a zone conference. I was asked to do a musical number, me and Elder Denney were asked to give a training, we had to give an accounting for the zone up until that day in the month, I bore my final testimony, and I was sung to. haha. It was a very eventful zone conference. But that won't be my final testimony. My final one will be in mission council next Tuesday. After that one...I'm done! haha.
Well you will only be hearing from me 2 more times! Thanks for all of the love and support that you have shown! I am grateful for this mission! It is definitely the best mission that God could have chosen for me! I love you! Have a great week! :)
Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Elder Brennan McEwan

Hey family!

This week was kinda slow in the middle, but it started and ended really well.

Anyway, right after I finished emailing last Monday, we went off and hiked the hills of Fan Lihng - two subway stops away. We got high enough up that we could see the Mainland! Plus, we passed through a pretty nifty Buddhist cemetary - some of the big graves were actually really cool. On the way back down, I managed to convince everyone to check out this nifty Taoist temple right next door to the subway stop. There was really neat stuff all over the place. I really wish that I could read characters. It'd be cool to know what it all said... oh, and yes, I took pictures, but I forgot to bring the camera today. I'll get those to you guys next week.

Then on Tuesday we got to have the all-mission meeting with President Holland. That was way cool. The start was a bit of a bummer though. We stacked up all 150 missionaries for a picture, and then waited for about an hour for him to show up. He wasn't late - the mission just wasn't taking any chances. Since I'm the probably the third or forth tallest missionary, I got to stand in the place the entire hour with my chest in the next guy's back for the entire hour while all the shorties lined up. Woo.

But then Elder Holland was really cool. I got to shake hands with him on the way into the conference, and he asked me "How's that blonde hair doing out here, Elder?" Woah. Most of everyone else got a "Hi, how are you?" Anyway, his talk was really good. He didn't seem to have a very prepared message - it seemed like he was more talking according to what he felt like what needed to be said. He talked a lot about making sure that this mission can becoming an enduring and lasting change for us. He also gave a really cool training/talk on the Book of Mormon. He talked about how the very first chapter of First Nephi can prove that Joseph Smith was a prophet and why that's important. Basically, when you boil it down to basics, Lehi's story and the Joseph Smith story are pretty much the same. They prayed to know the truth, were visited and instructed by heavenly beings, received a book, and went out and shared their knowledge. In other words, if Lehi's story in the first chapter of Nephi is true, then Joseph Smith must also be a true prophet of God. It was a really neat experience.

After that, we had some pretty long and fruitless finding days. Which was kind of disappointing. It's really kind of tough to find youngish people that aren't on their way to or from work here. We probably could talk to high school students or super old people all day, but we've been asked to prioritize on families and young single adults. We're working on it, but it's gonna be quite a process finding new people to teach. Meanwhile, "I'm in a rush" is slowly becoming my least favorite phrase in Chinese.

Anyway, we still got to have some good teaching experiences this week. Ms. L’s dog finally died - that's a relief. Now the problem is that since she's not taking care of the dog anymore, she's looking for work again. (she stopped working for a while to take care of her invalid dog. Kinda weird, but, whatever, right?) She, like many people around here, seems to have the impression that if you work a full eight hour day you don't have time to do anything else. Hopefully she doesn't get too busy to keep meeting with us. Either way, we had a pretty good lesson with her this week, so I think she's still got potential to get baptized.

Other than that, one frustrating thing this week is that we met with a former investigator who seemed to be making fun of us. He brought a friend, and just by his general, vague responses to questions, his lack of real attention, (he started playing games on his phone at one point) and the way he kept smirking at the friend he brought along, it feels like he was a fake investigator. It's a little confusing to me, since any chance to bear testimony is a good one, but it just felt like he didn't have a sincere desire to learn about the gospel. Hopefully I can figure out if this punk is going to be worth our time later on.

We also taught Mr. L on his own for the first time a few days ago. He's quite the character. He really, really, likes to talk. He was very excited to tell us all about how the earth and sky both come from Jesus and he created them and plants grow on the earth and sky and people can grow food from the plants and then eat the food and if you don't eat the food you'll get really hungry and die but you can also grow other plants on the earth and make clothes out of them so that you can wear the clothes so that you don't have to be cold because it's been really cold lately but the weatherman on the TV said that it would warm up soon and that he likes to watch the other things on the TV too...

Yeah. He's still maybe got some potential - the fellowshipper confirmed that he's not crazy, he's just a bit old. And likes to talk. A lot. He also gets confused really easily. I gave him a pass along card last week that had a example of how pray. It basically said "Dear Heavenly Father... Thank you for.... please bless.... In the Name of Jesus Christ, Amen." But when I handed it to him he ignored the "..." (are those called ellipses? I'm starting to lose some of my less useful English vocabulary and spelling...) and just read straight through the thing. We stopped him and explained that you could fill in the blanks. He kind of got it. But then when we met with us this time, he reported that he "did it three times before he ate and thought very hard about the meaning of each character." In other words, sounds like he forgot how to work it. Sigh. Maybe we'll be able to successfully teach this guy correct doctrine.

On the good side of things, we got to teach A, our closest baptismal date this week. He accepted the Word of Wisdom and Tithing really easily. Cool stuff. As soon as he gets a little more into the Book of Mormon, he'll be golden. We also got to help confirm Aubrey, so that was also pretty neat.

Oh, and we got cheng'd out by our Bishop last night too. That was some really good food. Plus, he arranged for investigators and less active members to be there too so that we'd be justified in showing up. Sweet. He has a really nice house. I think his kitchen may actually be bigger than our living room/bunk room/dining room. One thing that made me sad though was that they had a big tray full of the biggest, most delicious looking shrimp I've ever seen. Unfortunately, they were uncooked, and therefore "mh dak" for us missionaries. Sniffle. Oh well, I ate plenty well anyway. But all I could do was look longingly in the eyes of those tasty little shrimps. One day I'll be able to eat Sushi here...

Oh, and last thing - if you guys do happen to send a package any time soon, could you send an industrial sized case of Tums? You can't buy them here. And man, there's been some nights where I would have sold a kidney to get some.

Love you guys lots!

-Elder Brennan McEwan

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Elder Dallin Stout

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 1:04 PM

     So this morning I was woken up by an earth quake. It was pretty cool, I thought I was just dreaming but apparently other missionaries also felt it. 
     Monday we got our district together and played free for all dodge ball. It was way fun but I was sore for several days after so I think I played a little to intense. We met the Khyat family, only the father is not a member. Sister Khyat I found out is related to Kelsey Bone, currently a senior soccer player at Layton high where I went to school! 
     Tuesday we met with Madelene and she was able to help us understand her medical situation with coffee more. We also met with the Vudmaska's. 
     Wednesday the 2nd ward needed us to go on splits several times with them, to help them get to their lessons. Elder Fagen was sick so I stayed with him. Madelene called and was not happy. A member went to see her and knew about her coffee situation. So Madelene was embarrassed and doesn't want to come to church. I talked with her and tried to calm her by saying a prayer over the phone, But she still didn't come.
     Thursday we met with Millie and had a short lesson about faith. Then we had to run to a baptismal interview for Kevin Interiano, who was trying to get baptized in December. 
     Friday we had dinner with Araceli and Nathan who are not members but are amazing Christian people! We have done service for them lots of times and she used to be taught the lessons. We had a lesson with Leto, an employee of Bro Guevara's who has come to church a few times. We taught the Restoration but found out that he knows a lot and has been reading the Book Of Mormon. He is already in the book of Mosiah! 
     Saturday was Kevin's baptism, he asked me to speak on the Holy Ghost. We forgot to tell Kevin to bring a towel and extra underwear, so he had to go commando after the baptism. He got up to bear his testimony at the end and he spoke to his mom in Spanish. I know every person there felt the spirit of his testimony. We later had a lesson with Millie at the bishops house. We watched President Monson's talk from last conference about how God is always there to help us. We helped her understand what the role of a prophet is and what makes him so important to us.
     Sunday Kevin was confirmed and received the Holy Ghost. His mom gave me a big hug afterwards, we were able to get her contact info and she wants the Spanish sisters to come see her!   After church we went finding and ran into this family from India who invited us to their house. They were Hindi so we taught them simply about God being our father who loves us and wants the best for us. It was nice to have a companion who served part of his mission in India and knew the culture! They invited us back next Saturday to teach them. Their names are Puru and Preeti, they have 2 little kids and are the most humble people I have ever met. It makes me think that for people who are not Christian at all are more Christ like than most people I have met who claim to be Christian as well as members of our church. Don't tell me your Christian... show me your Christian!

Elder Collard and Elder Stout

Elder Brandon Wallis

So the work is going really well! We had a rough week last week because we were sick the previous week and had no appointments set. BUT, this week is looking amazing! We have another person that wants to be baptized! The Begay family is an inactive family that's returning and they have a son that wants to take the lessons and a daughter that's also interested. SWEET!!!! We just met them a few days ago. Awesome family. Savanna is still doing great we're hopefully going to have her baptism interview this week. Sean and Kelsie are doing pretty good too. They're still talking about the wedding date, and hopefully the next time we meet with them they'll have a date we can start working with. I read them the emails you all sent of your testimonies of different topics. They loved them! Kelsie especially liked hearing your testimonies and is even more excited to raise her family in the Gospel. The Shorty family is a recent convert family. The dad was inactive and decided to come back to church and brought his family along. They were Baptized a few months ago. Their son, Grant, got the Priesthood! He went with us to Louis Wadely in the nursing home to give her the sacrament. It took him a few tries, but he got it! He loved being able to serve with the Priesthood. Things are really moving along. 
Our Mission President, President Miller, set a new standard for our meals with members that we're also really excited about. We're only allowed to eat with two active members a week, and the rest of the meals need to be a teaching opportunity. So active members can have in-active or non-member friends over and that counts. We're really excited to put this new standard to work. President told us to be bold when we're talking to the non-members we know and the less actives, simply tell them that we're having a tough time filling our dinner calendar and would love to join their family for dinner sometime in the next couple weeks. It'll be interesting to see how that is received. So far most of the members seem on board with it as well, we were a little worried about that.

All in all, things are going great! Love you all!

Elder Wallis

Elder Justin Thiel

This week was pretty good. Me and my companion did a lot of tracting but we did find reasonable success while doing it. This week we got a lot of new investigators. One of them is named Johnny Goodman. He is working to be a minister at his church. He was a refferal that we got last Monday. He wanted a free bible from us, but he also agreed to hear the message that we share. It was a good experience, the first lesson went over well. We went back the second time and that was an interesting time.. so we found out that he is an Aristotle ( its kind of like a penicostal). We taught him about the Book of Mormon and he started bringing up some scriptures in the bible. One of them was in Timothy. It was Paul talking to Timothy about some slaves and following their master but putting the Lord first. the way that he used this was that we can follow any "master" or church as he put it, as long as they follow God. This guy took it completely out of context.. he also told me that God was a spirit and that God and Jesus Christ are the same person etc.. I've heard it all before. That really bugs me when they do that. The guy thought that he had won and baffled me but I wasn't going to have it. I tend to be really bold and blunt with people and I tend to sometimes be overbearing because I can't stand false doctrine. I was about to attack the guy's logic using his bible but the spirit made me hesitate.. So I held my peace because I felt that the Lord was going to show me the way I needed to go but I had to wait for something. So then he went from scripture to scripture and then asked me if I knew the 7 denominations of Christ's church that he set up. At that moment the spirit was just like he's all yours now. So I told him I didn't know of 7 denominations that Chirst set up. I told him I only know of one church that Christ set up. I then went to Eph 1:10 and some other scriptures about to apostasy. After that I testified boldly about Christ's one true church and how it has been restored and this guy was totally baffled. I testified of the Book of Mormon and its importance. I used the analogy of a point and how with one point you can't draw any line through it any way you want and I told him that this was the bible and that's why there are so many churches. Then I showed him what happens if you draw a second point. I showed him that you can only draw one line through it. I then told him that this is why the Book of Mormon is so important and one of the reasons that God brought it forth. He then said that he would really read it and pray to know if these things are true. He also wants us to go to his church with him this Saturday. I have high hopes for this guy and I feel that this guy is going to be a catalyst for something that's supposed to happen in this area. We had some other awesome experiences like this one this week.

As district leader I have to conduct district meetings on Tuesdays and decide who is going to teach us during them and what they have to teach on. I have to collect everyone's numbers in my district for the week to report in to the zone leaders. I have to come up with goals for my district as well as give help to anyone in my district who may need it. I also have to be an example to everyone in my district and my area is supposed to be a example to everyone in my district. In all honesty being a district leader isn't very hard at all. 

So that was a little bit of my week. There is so much that happened this week that I could fill a book with things to say. One thing I will talk about though is something I found while in time this week. I read a talk called out of weakness he will become strong or something like that. The talk is about Joseph Smith. While I was reading this it really just hit home. The talk describes some of the weaknesses that Joseph had, like his limited education and art of speech, and how that only through God he was able to overcome them. The talk then goes through some scriptures like Ether 12:26 I think that talks about why we have weaknesses. It then talks about how we have weaknesses so that we can understand that we need God but once we know this, if we turn to God with full purpose of heart then with the Lord make those weaknesses strengths. I just felt the spirit just whisper to me and chastise me in the most loving way. Thoughts came into my head. They said you need to stop relying on yourself. Your weakness in your knowledge. If you want the success that you desire you need to solely rely on Me. I will tell you what to say and speak, and then will you have the spirit of power. It went something like that. I realized that my confidence in my understanding of what I teach has lead me to pride. There is still so much that I need to work on. The Lord humbled me and I plan on keeping it that way. I'm going to start leaning on Him more as I teach as well as when I contact people. The second that you realize that you are weak and on your own, you can't do it. Then will the Lord make you strong and you shall accomplish it. I have a sure testimony of this now. I would invite all of  you to take some time and read this article on your own. It's on the picture of it has Joseph Smith in like a patriot suit, in the church history section.

I hope that you all have a great week and I love all of you!
Elder Thiel                  

We had an interesting week this week. We didn't get as much done as we could have because of zone conference on Thursday as well as interviews with the president on Friday. We have quite the drive to get there. It takes us about an hour one way and then zone conference was 3 and a half hours long so that day was basically used up with all that. The same with Friday.
We did go to a Bible study with Johnny at his Aristotle church.. that was interesting. The pastor there is a woman and the spirit wasn't there at all. We also had a "prophet" in our mists while we where there. People were given the opportunity to bear testimony before the meeting started so I took that opportunity and I bore testimony of the Savior. They asked us if we wanted to teach, but since it was the first time there we said that we just wanted to observe this time. The pastor wasn't very prepared so they just took us to a random chapter in Isaiah. They asked us to come back and next time we can teach so we are going to take that chance. I think that Johnny felt the difference in when we teach and when his pastor teaches because he wants to come hear my companion teach in church in 2 weeks so we have high hopes for that.
This week we are going to try and get the ward here more involved in the work. We are going to try and get the bishop to come out teaching with us and other ward members. For the work to move forward here, the members are going to have to get more involved so we're are trying our best to give them opportunities where they can.
Me and my companion are going to work harder this week. We both have the feeling that there is more that we could be doing here then we are currently doing. I'm praying and fasting to know what and how to do it. We have found more people to teach then ever before but the biggest struggle is to get them to church. If they don't come to church, then they cant be baptized and if they don't come to church, baptizing them won't mean anything. The members are very hesitant to give rides here and it doesn't help that most people in this area don't have transportation. It's a puzzle that we are trying to solve.
That's really cool to hear about Johnny! You should give them my email and give me theirs so we can keep in touch while we're in the mission field. He leaves really soon. They didn't give him much time to prepare, haha. I can't wait to hear where Jordan is going. You need to get me his email. I want to talk to him before he leaves so as soon as possible please.
As for that scripture, it is truth. Many people like the ones you talked to are trapped in a world where there is no hope, joy, purpose, or direction, their hearts fail them. That's because in the world, those things don't exist. Those things only come from one place and often the answer is right in front of them but they just cant see it. Satan works this way to bring down many. The only thing that can help them is Jesus Christ. Many people don't think that this is the solution they're looking for, in fact it is the last thing they think would help sometimes, but once they let it in the solution becomes clear. Using the atonement of Jesus Christ can do more then just heal us of our sins it can also heal us from ourselves. Living and following the gospel of Jesus Christ can change behavior faster and better then the study of behavior itself can. It is said in the scriptures by Jesus Christ "come all of you that labour and are heavy laden, and i will give you rest" (Matt 11: 28-30). Those who want to be healed need only seek it, but the key is desire. I hope that could be of any help. I wish I had more time to speak on the matter for I have personal experience with it, but this I can bear short testimony of: I know that if any wish to be healed from these afflictions, you must come unto Christ and seek it. You can seek medicine but that only nulls the pain and doesn't fix the problem causing it. If you turn to Him who is mighty to save, you will be healed of anything. I know that through utilizing the power of His atonement, that our burdens and sorrows will become light. His atonement has real power that we don't fully comprehend. If we live what he taught and search the scriptures, we will find where the true happiness, purpose, joy and peace lies. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
I hope that you all have a great week! I love all of you love,
Elder Thiel

Elder Zach Beckman

Hey everyone well another week has gone by here in the Greater OCM.  I am just loving the work here in Fairfield and with Elder Coughlan... it is the best!!  Well this week were able to do some pretty sweet things!! and then there were times that just sucked so ya that was alot of fun!!!  But I swear that a mission is like a roller coaster of just ups and downs all the time but at the end, it's the greatest thing ever.

So this week we were all out of things to do and people to go visit and it was just bad.... like those are the moments that you hate as a missionary because you feel so unproductive but we got on our pray bones and said a quick prayer that something good would happen for us that day and something would work out... so we sit on the couch and I thought to myself to just start calling random people in the contacts on our phone because we didn't know half of them. So as we did that it was funny it was like tracting from our couch.  All we did was call a bunch of random people, but this one contact named "Ida" said that we could come back and talk to her and she would like to have her family listen too!  So we were stoked and just so happy to go and meet them!!! So the next day was the lesson and we take this recent convert to a lesson who is from Micronesia and he is just way funny doesn't know English very well and is just a way friendly guy who loves the gospel! and his name is Peter. But we take him with us to the lesson and we walk in and sit down with her but it turns out that her and Peter just start talking to each other in their native language and me and Coughlan just are in shock of what's going on... but I guess it turns out that they knew each other from back home on their Island and asking what each other is doing here and just all of this stuff!!  It was nuts and then we start asking her about her life and it turns out that she is already a member and was baptized back in Micronesia!!!  BUT..  her family has not been and she has two daughters and a boy friend so we were able to teach them all and try and get them to church and it was awesome they are such a sweet family!!  It is crazy how the Lord works his miracles!

Next crazy thing was that church was canceled AGAIN! because of the weather so that is like the 3rd time of my mission that church has been canceled!!  So that is really dumb!!  So we weren't able to have any investigators at church this week but next week we should have like 10+ people!!  It should be sweet, I am excited! but ya this ward is pretty sweet except the fact that no one feeds us... I've only had one meal so far with a member and the rest of the time its a toss up if we eat or not but its still fun either way ha ha :)

Well last Friday we were able to go on exchanges with the Assistants in Western hills for a day and it was way fun!  Me and Elder Benevides were together and he is a way sweet missionary from Arizona and he and Tavake were actually companions before me and Tavake were together so that was fun! But we were able to do alot of fun things with them and learn alot too! But Today we are actually having a Fun Day up in Middletown and 4 Zones are getting together to play games and stuff like that and President and Sister Porter are coming too!  So that should be fun I will let you know how it goes!!! But that is about it for today/this week!!  Well I miss and love you all and hope you have an awesome week! LOVE YA!
Keep smiling 
Elder Beckman

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Elder McCade Tracy

January 15, 2014
I can't believe that a whole week has flown by! It was cold early last week but it's warmed up more and it's actually raining right now :)
Well, my testimony has gotten stronger than it was when I left or shared it with you all back on Mother's day :) I just want you to know that I know for a fact that this is Christs' Church once again established on the earth. I was looking through the scriptures yesterday, in the Doctrine and Covenants, and I came to Section 71 and it's the Prophet Joseph Smith and Sidney Rigdons' mission calls. And it reads in verses 3-4:
3 Verily this is a mission for a season, which I give unto you.
4 Wherefore, alabor ye in my vineyard. Call upon the inhabitants of the earth, and bear record, and prepare the way for the commandments and revelations which are to come.
I see these two scriptures explaining not only a full time missionaries call, but also a call to the members of the Church for what we need to do as we are all assigned/called to the places in which we live or where we're called to on our missions and we need to do all that we can to fulfill this call and prepare the way for future people, if that's God's will, to bring many people to the Gospel. I know that these things are true and that the Lord will place us in situations that will help us fulfill it and it'll help us grow a great amount throughout our lives. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, our Lord, Savior and our perfect example, Amen.
High - Being able to follow the spirit in the decisions that I've made recently and we've met a few really cool people lately that seem really legit and we're gonna start to teach them this week :)
Low - Only getting one person to church and having to drop a few baptismal dates because they didn't come to church :(
The best experience that I've had this week was meeting one of our investigators father who is a pretty devout Catholic, we started talking about the church and it turns out that he knows the stories in the Bible but not their meaning. So we invited him to church and he came! After, he said that he enjoyed it, we'll be calling him today and asking him if we can share our message, because he really likes to visit other churches and wants to know about them and what they believe, so it's gonna be an experience of a lifetime :)
Everyone that we meet is my favorite because I'm the one that is teaching them and meeting them at this critical time of their lives and when the Lord places me in their paths or visa versa ;) They're all my favorites because I'm blessed enough to see the wonderful change in them that not many people get to see, as they let go of the natural man and realize that they truly are sons and daughters of God. I love seeing the light that comes into their lives and the light that is strengthened in them :) Yeah! They closed the schools because it was TOO COLD!!!! It was like 5 degrees, and I thought to myself  "They're inside all day and they're gonna cancel school for two days because of it being too cold OUTSIDE?!" Kentucky is crazy and I already know that they don't handle the cold very well ;)
Thank you so much for all the wonderful things you send me and the love and support that you give me from so far away :)
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

January 21, 2014
We had a pretty good week to start off, but during our biggest proselyting days (Sat. and Sun.) Elder Beard was pretty sick so we were unable to go anywhere for those few days, so our week didn't really have a good look to it but I really don't care about the numbers because if that's all who we were supposed to see on those days then that's who we were meant to see this week :)
We're doing all that we can to expand the teaching pool and help all of them progress right now, we're going to start teaching a lot of our investigators the 15 step program to quit smoking so prayers to help our investigators would be appreciated so that they can succeed in this journey and make their baptismal date :)
Love you and miss you all!
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

January 27, 2014
Our week was actually much better than last week, Elder Beard and I were able to stay healthy for the whole week and we made contact with some really awesome referrals, when we started contacting them it was pretty much like normal referrals who want us back because of the sisters and then they're not interested when they see us at their door ;) Anyway, we were trying another referral yesterday and his dad answered the door, we asked if the referral (David) was home and his dad said he was but asleep, and then he asked us what church we were from so we told him and just like a lot of people we meet automatically tell us that their both Catholic and that was it. So we left not thinking about it much, until this morning David gave us a call and told us that he's more of a "believer" Catholic and not a real strong catholic, and he really wants to hear us out and wants to learn more about the church from us in the next couple days :) It really just goes to show that great things come from making a little effort, no matter what the result, as you make the effort to reach out to those who seem interested in the gospel, they may turn down at first or others might try and tell you to stop trying to contact them. We must remember that Christ never gave up on anyone, and neither should we.
High - Besides my birthday ;) We also are now able to teach a really young couple who's our age! Their names are Brandon and Lauren, Brandon is 20 and Lauren is 19 :) We met with them last night, and when we knocked Brandon welcomed us right in! It was a much welcomed change :) As we talked we learned a lot, they both were raised Catholic but fell away after growing up, and they really want to get back into church, it's amazing that they both have a real solid foundation that is built upon Christ :) We'll be teaching them later this week and I know that they'll be baptized here in the next couple months :)
Low - Not being able to see everyone that we wanted this last week, also our car didn't start all day on Friday so we just planned and tried to call all our investigators that we've got numbers for :)
Thank you for all of the love and support that you give me, thanks for the hard work that both you and dad put in to keep up with everything that I'm going through right now :)
Love you and miss you like crazy!
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

February 3, 2014
There was a really big experience this last week when we had Zone Conference, before the conference the AP's called Elder Beard to help with one of the trainings. I knew what they were gonna do as soon as they asked him to do push ups for the training, so we go into the training and we both know what is going to happen but I didn't see the feeling or the Spirit that was about to come into the room...... As we began Elder Beard had to do 20 push ups for every person so that they could have a doughnut. The more that he did, I couldn't help put think of the Savior in the garden suffering for us and the Father asking Christ if He would suffer for each individual person and the response was always the same. I will, I want to do this. In the end Elder Beard did 340 push ups for the whole group.. I really thought I knew what the Atonement was but I was very wrong and I never really knew how powerful that single act was.
High - Being able to set a few more bap dates and get an investigator to church that has been struggling for a little while.
Low - Having all the dates that we had set before drop because they're not progressing very much right now.
Every day is special and I really cannot believe that 11 months has gone by this fast, but I really love looking back to see all the amazing and permanent changes that I've made in my life. Both spiritually and physically.
Love you and Miss you all like crazy! Thank you for the support and work you do on my behalf from so far away!
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

February 10, 2014
Yeah, it was really fun to be out in the snow and now it feels like winter after having a really brown December and part of January :) Sadly, we're going to have to re-set all of our baptismal dates. Why? Because nobody came to Church that said that they would!!!!!!!! I swear, getting them to actually follow through on things is like trying to get me to say more than three sentences back home ;) Now I know how you felt when I wouldn't talk. Sorry about that ;)
High - Just working with these wonderful people in Owensboro. 
Low - Having to now re-set the baptismal dates with everyone because they didn't come to church
There's no really strong experience from this week, but I'll share one next week :)
Thank you for all your support and love through everything! I think my time in Owensboro is coming to a close sadly, I love it here and the people here are so much different than those from Louisville.
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

February 17, 2014
Hey Mom,
I just wanted to email you really quick, and sorry for the lateness of this email once again but we've been running around all day seeing people and saying good byes, as well as cleaning the apartment and packing up my stuff because I will be getting transferred somewhere else in Kentucky or Indiana :) 

February 24, 2014
We've been able to stay fairly busy here in the area :) It's still pretty interesting to be in the same ward as President & Sister Woodbury, it's a little tough but I've been able to see a lot of my recent converts since I'm so close to Shively again :) I saw and talked with Felton on Saturday at a Stake Priesthood meeting, he's going to get interviewed soon so that he can receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in the next few months! Also, talked to some others from the Shawnee Branch, yesterday I was able to see Josh again! He was at the fireside, and he's married now and she's getting baptized at Shawnee on Saturday! I've also been hearing some really good things about Trent and that he's been blessing the Sacrament and doing his part in the Branch :) it makes me so happy that ALL of the people that God lead me to bring into the church are still very active and doing all they can to stay active!
the area is a smaller version of Downtown Louisville. There's a lot of people to talk to and the roads are a whole lot better than Shively!
We're in the process of building our area book, once again President is using me to build up an area and we're starting to see some success from yesterday, there's a lot of finding and tracting going on right now. 
The weather wasn't too bad the last couple days until yesterday, before church it was warm and sunny. After church it was overcast and cold.... We started to work and it started to rain, and the rain turned into snow, regardless we continued to work. We were able to contact a lot of people and pray with them, we biked for a good amount of time through the snow, just glad that we had coats so that we were able to stay warm for the most part :)
My Spirit is good, it's strong and ready to work here in this area. We're in a Ward, but with the attendance at Sacrament it should be a branch, we got more people to church in Owensboro than here!
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

March 3, 2014
 I'm really trying hard to stay positive with everything and last night I seemed to hit the end and I got really tired of doing the same things each day as well as having the same thing always happen as we get to meet and teach someone who is really ready for the gospel in their life and we go back for the next appointment a few days later and they're not there and we seemingly lose track of them and nothing really happens. Even though times are tough, we do have a bright spot with Traye Knox as he is progressing very nicely towards baptism on the 15th :) That's what makes our struggles worth it.
 To look back to who I was and where I was last year is simply a remarkable turn, not only have I changed physically with the minus 50 lbs. but also, maybe more importantly, the change spiritually, emotionally, and mentally. I know that if I had not chose long ago in Primary to serve a mission, I wouldn't be out here and I wouldn't have had the opportunity to grow as close as I have to my Father in Heaven and His Son Jesus Christ. With this change I've really found the deeper meaning to the basic gospel principles and how it all fits in with everyday life. I've dove deeper into why other faiths don't see us as Christians, and I've been able to use that information to my advantage when talking to others and answering the questions that they haven't had answered by their pastor or preacher :)
High - Having someone open their doors to us last night. Like I said, I was down and didn't really have hope, but the last house that we go and visit let us in. While we were there, we testified of the importance of going to church and we shared our individual experiences with going to church and contrasting it to when we didn't go and obey that strict commandment. He may not go anywhere, but really only time will tell if now is the time for him to move forward, that's not the point though. It's the fact that we got in when seemingly all was lost, to me at least, and then to have that one spark of hope at the end of the night :)
Low - Not being able to contact anyone that we taught last week, and not having anyone to church
I now have a much stronger testimony of faith. With the last little bit being a struggle for me, and then to see just one door open and let us in when we needed it most is simply amazing and a gift from God. I've been focusing a lot on faith and what it all leads to, President Joseph Fielding Smith said “Faith is the moving cause of all action.” 
Yesterday in Elders Quorum we learned that in order to move our performance up and live with the stress that is often associated with increased success, we need to be living the gospel principles and be able to apply them when the moment for us to teach someone else about it arises.
Thank you for all your love and support from so far away :)
Love your Son and Missionary,
Elder McCade Tracy

March 10, 2014

This week was ok. Actually, to be honest this week was possibly the worst week that I've had even with some bright spots through the week we didn't teach or see that many people so our numbers were cut in half from last week basically. The only thing that really made it better was finding three new investigators and they seem really solid and we'll be meeting with them this week and I'm really excited to meet with them :) Traye did not make it to church, and it was because of the time change and it hit a lot of the members pretty hard so not many people who are normally there were there. We've had to move it back until the 29th but I believe that he'll make it and he'll get baptized on the 29th.
Yeah, I talked with President about it this last week in interviews and I'm doing a lot better. I just have to remember the story of Alma, we're kinda similar right now, Alma had success in his first two cities and then was shut down in Amalikiah. I had success in Shively and Owensboro and  now I have a new challenge so that really helped me to see what I need to do in order to make something happen here in St. Matthews :) 
High - being able to find three new investigators and having a few more high potentials on the radar, we'll be doing all that we can to teach them and help them towards baptism!
Low - just the difficulty that we had in teaching and meeting with people this last week, it's not going to happen again.
This week has been filled with my prayers being answered really. With the difficulty of this week, it really brought me to my knees and brought me to re-evaluate myself and how I go about things. My prayers were answered yesterday with meeting a lot of wonderful people and having many people, who turned us away, say thank you and just to keep going because we're doing a marvelous work. So that was a much needed thing and it's helped to keep me going right now :)
Love you and thank you for all that you do!
Elder McCade Tracy

Friday, March 14, 2014

Sister Sydney Burningham

This is Tori Marler my hero, she's putting in her papers this month!  She came out with us for two days straight haha, love her.  and of course my adorable companion Sister Weight and the sun sphere in downtown Knoxville.
 His name is everywhere.  Everyone here really has such strong faith in him.

Some of my many people at the food pantry in Corryton, Tennessee. This is Cornelia and Von.  I love them with my whole soul, seriously, the best people!  They mean so much to me.

Mon, Mar 17, 2014 at 9:48 AM

Hey Friends and Fam,

What a glorious week.  This week was very eventful, I really can't explain or tell you about each thing that happened but there was a real funny high light I'd like to tell you about it, mostly to explain my subject of the email.

So get this, a couple got married in January but they just had their reception this week, strange a little I know, but they are our ward missionaries and we hadn't planned on going because well we're missionaries and it would be slightly uncomfortable probably but then we get a call from Caleb, one of our ward missionaries who is friends with them and he says that absolutely NO ONE was there, and this was about an hour after it started, so he begged us to come, we said we would so we headed over there with the Elders in the car we grabbed a Book of Mormon and wrote "Dear Amber and Arthur, this Book of Mormon will bring you closer to each other as you read it together, we study together as companions and it's awesome, you're great Love, the chilhowee missionaries" after which we grabbed red duct tape in the car and made a bow to go around it. Embarrassing I know.  So we go there and it's just awful but the bride was so happy we came and it made her night, she tried to make us dance and I was just uncomfortable and I realized how awkward I am.  I hope all of you get amusement out of this story, it was terrible, haha. 

On a more spiritual and mission related note we had a wonderful week with less-actives.  Melissa is someone we have been working with since I got here and slowly she has started putting her trust in the Lord and really relying on him for the strength she needs.  So, she prayed and read and prayed and read and told us she knows Joseph Smith is a prophet and the Book of Mormon is true which has NEVER happened, then she proceeded to get her own interview with the Bishop for her patriarchal blessing and she has invited us to go with her April 4th to get it.  We love her so much it hurts sometimes, but her son came to church now we're just working on her mate Wendell, he's way cool and such a southern black man.  He'll come around.  I really really really hope I don't get transferred but I think it's going to happen, transfers are the 26th, so in like a week basically I will let you know next Monday.  So many miracles I'm loving every minute of being here, Sister Weight and I went with Mike and Wayne to Springs Kountry Kitchen this morning, the South is where I'm supposed to be and I love it with my whole soul.  I love these people so much it hurts.

This week Sister Weight and I have been working on a training we're giving in Zone Meeting tomorrow on Bearing Testimony, it was amazing to see the spirit work through us to prepare what we all need to hear, me mostly, you know how that goes.  But something I have come to realize that you have to have a passion and a conviction of the things you know to be true or the spirit cannot and will not be able to testify to the person you are bearing it to.  It must be sincere and passionate for it to make a difference, on my mission I have come to realize that this Gospel is true and it is the only way to eternal life, the only way to true happiness.  I am becoming converted.  I love my Savior because he puts up with me and my short comings, he has felt the frustrations I have at times and he loves me anyway, unconditionally, I have come to know him really well out here because at times he really is all I have to hold on to.  I love sharing this message with others.

In the wise words of my companion Sister Weight:
"Circumstances do not make anyone inferior to anyone else."

We come from different walks of life, but the Atonement is for everyone.  I am so grateful I get to change and become more converted something I really love in True to the Faith on conversion is when it says "Conversion includes a change in behavior, but it goes beyond behavior; it is a change in our very nature." It is what we become. 

He knows our hearts and I love him for that.
1 Samuel 16:7

Thank you again for all the love and support but I really do feel your prayers and your love.  I am having the time of my life and I have never been happier.

Sister Burningham

This is Tracy who just got baptized and her husband Daniel, they're the best. No we did not try to coordinate outfits Sister Weight and I that is, it just happens because we have so much unity.

Tue, Mar 11, 2014 at 9:32 AM

Well Everyone,

My subject is a line from a song a Less-Active taught us on the way to the dentist yesterday.  It's basically the best, sometime I'll teach it to some of you, that's just the chorus.  I love the South, I think I'll try Grits this week, not sure what they are but they're southern, I'm gettin' real adventurous.

Yet another week gone by.  So sorry Mom, the computers were down all day yesterday so we had to wait for one more day, it was out of my control, haha but here I am today, still alive and well.  Loving Tennessee.  This week has been wonderful we were able to go on exchanges this week again and learn so much from the other sisters.  I really am grateful for that.  I'm also grateful for the leadership meetings I'm able to attend each month, it gives me a whole new perspective every time and more responsibility which pushes me, but in a good way.  We only have two weeks left of the transfer and it's sort of blowing my mind how fast time is flying.  I know I say that every single week but it just goes and before you know it it's the next week or the next transfer.  I was talking to a Less-Active now activated member who's wife just got baptized Saturday and he said "As your spirit changes, time flies."  And how true that is, as you really just get lost in the work, it goes by way too fast. 

As for the week we saw some roadkill, but nothing really new there, we also laughed a lot, nothing new there with Sister Weight being my companion.  The thing is.. is that all of my companions have pretty much been opposite of me personality wise, and Sister Weight is EXACTLY like me so we have great unity and we laugh quite often, which lightens the load and we're finding true joy in the work, it's just like all those prophets in the scriptures who talk about the joy that comes from sharing the gospel.  Anyway, she's great, sorry I just love her a lot.  This week Tracy Willis was baptized, I will send pictures.  It was a beautiful service, the ward did pretty much the whole thing, we had to do very little because this ward is just on fire with missionary work.  I do not want to leave this area, probably ever.  But I know inevitably I will have to eventually. 

Something that's really been weighing heavy on my heart lately is the importance of missionary work in the sense that we give others the opportunity to be baptized for the remission of their sins, that they are endowed with God's power by the Holy Ghost to guide them so they can qualify for Eternal Life.  We are much too casual about this as missionaries a lot of the time.  We were blessed to be able to attend a mission leadership meeting in Oak Ridge Sunday night with 5 stake presidents of the mission and President Hymas our area seventy.  He got up and just the spirit was so strong, he knows the Lord's work needs to be hastened, and that we have got to step it up.  He bore powerful strong testimony of the restoration and the work we are doing, I have a testimony that this is not our work, that Jesus Christ, the savior and redeemer of the world is at the head and that he leads and guides this church, it is His. 

"We're fighting for souls." -President Hymas

Something I've come to realize is that because God knows us all so perfectly and individually that each one of us individually has a specific role to play in the unfolding of the truth to all the world.  We all matter, and he needs us all to assist in the work, I really love this Gospel, I wish I could tell you all the amazing stories and miracles that happen but there just isn't the room in this email or the time or really the words to explain it. 

I love you all so much, I hope your week is great! Until next week, hopefully Monday this time.  Sorry Mom!

I had to.  This poor guy is one of many on the roads narrow crazy windy roads here.  He didn't stand a chance.
This is Beatrice, she's like 90 or something and she loves the church.  She's not able to attend but we love visiting her, she's a hoot.

Sister Weight and I cut our faces out of things to thank the mission office couples- we think we're pretty funny.  I love her.

Mon, Mar 3, 2014 at 10:48 AM

Family and Friends,

This is truly the transfer of miracles.  I just have to start by telling you that it is COLD today, and windy and it's hailing sort of and it had been so nice the past week and now it's cold again, but don't worry someday spring will come, I just know it.  My companion is still Sister Weight and she's still the coolest.  Oh, and most everyone in our ward is gourmet cooks and I love basically all foods, never thought I would ever say that.  That my friends and family is a miracle in and of itself.  Heavenly Father knows us all perfectly I will just tell you that much, he knows exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.

So this week we go to Colin Kronicks to talk a little more about priesthood and the responsibilities that come with it and at the end he says (like the missionary he is) "Hey, my neighbors down the street, I wasn't very nice to them because their dogs attacked our chickens but they seems to be having a really hard time and could use Christ, please go see them." He has come so far.  Anyway so we knock on this door and it's a family of five they let us right in and immediately Sister Weight and I just felt prompted to testify of the Gospel and just let them know how much God loves them and needs them in his church.  They were so excited they felt the spirit, the father just kept saying how much they needed this and how much they needed something to hope for again, after some hard times they were going through.  We will see them on Tuesday again and we're so excited.  Five new people to teach=miracle.  Then we told Joe Kronick and he was just almost in tears said he felt the same way and he was so excited for them to come to church and experience the same change he has, Joe is incredible by the way his faith in Christ is just, incredible.

Sorry for the blurriness people.  But these murals of Christ are EVERYWHERE, they love him here and it makes me happy.

Tennessee is just a part of who I am, the worst thing happened this week, this boy came home from his mission in Brazil and bore his testimony in the meeting yesterday.  The whole family kept talking about him coming home and he just said it's been the most difficult thing for him because a piece of him is still there, that's how I feel that Tennessee is just part of who I am, these people mean the world to me and I am so blessed to know each one of them.  My conversion has deepened and my testimony has grown so much and I owe it all to them and their faith and examples, and to my Savior, Jesus Christ, without him I couldn't change and progress at all.

Something that I've tried to understand on my mission is Humility.  The balance between humility and self-deprecation.  But humility through my studies and experience on my mission is not self-deprecation, humility is submitting to the will of the Lord and then giving him the glory and the honor for what has been accomplished and who we have become, that's why it's so important we each have that personal, sincere and honest relationship with our Father in Heaven and that we are in places where we can feel the spirit to receive it's guidance and do the will of the Father.

I've been reading a lot of church history lately and about the early saints because well, they inspire me I found this story:

"A story is told of an encounter between the Prophet Joseph Smith and Brigham Young. In the presence of a rather large group of brethren, the Prophet severely chastised Brother Brigham for some failing in his duty. Everyone, I suppose somewhat stunned, waited to see what Brigham’s response would be. After all, Brigham, who later became known as the Lion of the Lord, was no shrinking violet by any means. Brigham slowly rose to his feet, and in words that truly reflected his character and his humility, he simply bowed his head and said, “Joseph, what do you want me to do?” 

We can have our personalities and individuality and still be humble and submissive. I know Heavenly Father loves me and wants me to be myself, but he also wants me to be humble enough to receive his guidance and become who I'm supposed to become here. 

I look up to so many of you back home, keep doing what you're doing, someone around you will feel inspired and change because of your righteous example. 

I love you all and hope your week rocks, I hear congrats are in order for Viewmont High School's hockey team, so great!  Um... well my Mom could sing you the school song, I can't remember it.  Haha

Love,  Sister Burningham

                 This is my favorite human being Sister Freestone-- she starts flour fights making dinner.