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!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Elder Dallin Stout

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 12:52 PM

My companion has this alarm clock that is called wacky wake up from Timex and every morning it goes off differently. This guy with some kind of accent will repeat an annoying phrase to wake you up. The personalities and accents differ every morning it can be an Indian, New York, lawyer, cowboy, happy weird morning person, ext. sometimes my companion takes a few minutes to wake up so it goes off forever! Anyway here is what our week was like.
     We did a tie trade with the 1st ward and I got some awesome ties.
     The Gredings took us to the LA temple in the morning. We showed up late to their house and got to the temple at 9:30 which is when they thought the session started. It actually started 15 min before we got there so we would have missed it anyway. We did family sealings instead for a few hours. The temple there is beautiful and is the 2nd largest, Salt Lake being the biggest. We later took 2 priests out with us to lessons that both fell through. So we met a friend of theirs and talked with her for a while. Hopefully we can start to teach her. 
     We had a lesson with Madelene and set her with a baptism date for the 3rd of may
     We took a priest out to see a less active member. He couldn't talk with us then but set up a time for next week. The Anderson's had us over for dinner, their son Kyle has a Chinese yo yo that he is teaching me how to use which is really cool.
     After our weekly planning session we took our last can of silly string and attacked the 2nd ward elders in their apartment. I have it recorded on camera, my companion sprayed around their front door as they tried to close it on us and sprayed Elder Spencer right in the face! He had glasses on so he had the raccoon look when he took them off!
     We participated in Mormon helping hands by planting trees with our ward and also the 1st ward Elders. Later in the day we went to see Kirk but he wasn't home. So we have a Zone goal to "preach in every place" so before we can get back in the car we have to talk to someone. We walked all over the neighborhood to get to Ron but when we got there he was busy and couldn't talk. Fortunately on the way we met some people on the street. We also walked past the Gould's house, when Bro Gould saw us and came out to ask us to help him move his couch. We helped him lift it out the window onto his front lawn. We had a short lesson with Puru and Preeti. They bought a car so now they can come to church themselves and do stuff together as a family. The ward members are inviting them over for dinner. But they buy ingredients for Indian food and ask Preeti to come make it for them in their home. The ward is doing a great job at taking them in and fellowshipping them. Micheal Morgan (a priest and ward missionary) opened his call and is going to Argentina!
Madelene, Puru and Preeti came to church! Millie didn't come because she hasn't been feeling well. So we dropped by to see her and talked for a bit. She has had lots of anxiety partially because of her Parkinsons and baptism. She still wants to see us, she just needs to progress at her own pace.

Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 1:23 PM

This week was awesome! I learned a lot of applicable lessons and principles. Here is what our week was like.
     We took a priest with us to our first lesson with Manny Ramirez. We got to know him better and more of his religious background. He is a great guy, we scheduled to meet with him again. Millie told us she wants to have a month to think about baptism. Her friends and neighbors have given her anti Mormon stuff so she is very confused about what to do.
     We had a lesson with the Vudmaskas and started reading from the beginning of the BOM. Madelene took us out to dinner at Red Lobster! She is awesome we need to figure out a date for her baptism still.
     We taught Lito about the law of Chastity and the priesthood. We plan on watching a conference talk with him.
     Sister Morgan called and requested service from us. We went and planted 7 plants in her front and back yards. We also  moved some furniture to her front curb for people to take. Afterwards she gave us an Easter basket and gift cards! My companion knows sign language and has been teaching members how to sign "I want to follow Jesus Christ" for our dinner messages.
     We had a mission conference in Ventura and 3 general authorities were there with their wives. They were Elder Garnes, Elder Bowen and Elder Russel M. Nelson! The entire mission got to shake hands with them, it was awesome to meet one of the 12 apostles! He smiled at me and said "its nice to meet you Elder Stout". He was genuine, you could tell it was more than just a half hour of shaking hands with missionaries. I took lots of notes on the meeting and learned lots of good stuff. Elder Nelson let us ask him questions on the spot and he would answer all of them without difficulty using the scriptures to teach us and validate what he said. He is an inspired servant of the Lord, we were able to speak with him personally and see him not just as the man we get to see talk to us every so often. But as a loving servant who left an apostolic blessing upon us.
     For Easter we had lunch and decided while we were cooking fries in vegetable oil to deep fry a peep... Well I have it recorded on my camera and the little rabbit marshmallow completely melted into the oil and released smoke into the whole apartment. So I now know that deep fried peeps are not a good idea. We had dinner with the Anderson's and afterwards watched the new movie on "Because of him". Everyone shared personally how Jesus Christ has made their lives hopeful and a blessing. We took a plate of food to an older lady in the ward and talked with her a while to wish her a happy Easter.
     Elder Nelson also told us that the movie "Because of him" has been viewed by over 2 million people! He also said in the U.S. the state with the most views is California! It is a great Easter message and I recommend you all see it. you can find it at
Elder Stout

Sister Sydney Burningham

                                                    I call this one, the empty mailbox.

Mon, Apr 28, 2014 at 9:41 AM

Family and Friends,
What a rollercoaster of a week this has been.  I have been very humbled and have come to realize that I really cannot do this work without the help of the Lord, I mean really, it's His work, He knows what his children need, His spirit is key.  I have learned so much about myself I never even thought this was possible to learn so much about yourself on a mission, but everyday, every setback or victory, I learn more about myself and it's brought to my attention that I need to change again and improve, for this I will be forever grateful.
The greatest thing happened this week, we went to see a less active woman and some recent converts were there for a lesson with them (they've been close friends for awhile) and me and this kid were just freestyling lyrics about like the church and struggles we go through, it was HILARIOUS I'm sure you sort of had to be there, but we were just going to town, I love that little kid so much plus he's a baseball professional already and he's 10 so, I like him for that, but also for his strong testimony of the church, he's my hero. 

This is one of our recent converts in West Hills, he's wearing my glasses and insisted we take a million pictures of him, he's 10 his dad was baptized as well a few months ago!

I am finally feeling like I fit in here and I am really coming to love the people in West Hills, they are all so wonderful, the work is looking up and it's been such a blessing to continue to serve.  I don't like to talk about going home and it seems every single person asks you how long you've been out and when you say 15 months they say "Oh you're going home soon, we're so happy for you!"  It's very strange, haha.  I've made a resolve to give it everything I can for my last two transfers so wish me the best of luck everybody, everyone needs the gospel, and everyone needs an invitation to learn about the gospel, the Lord can give us the courage to invite, invite, invite.  The success is in the inviting and commitment, it says so in Preach my Gospel, which by the way is one of the best books in the world.
More so this past transfer than my entire life I've come to realize that the trials and struggles we go through are for our good and they can help us grow.  There is no growth in our comfort zones, it always amazes me how perfect God's plan is for us, that each life, is individually cared for and recognized, he knows exactly what we need, when we need it.  Our agency is critical to the plan, and he respects our agency, all He wants is for all his children to return to him, and he has invited us to help in this great effort.
"These are your days—to stand strong as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.  Build more firmly your foundation upon the rock of your Redeemer.  Treasure more completely His incomparable life and teachings.  Follow more diligently His example and His commandments.  Embrace more deeply His love, His mercy and grace, and the powerful gifts of His Atonement.  As you do, I promise you that you will see the whirlwinds for what they are—tests, temptations, distractions, or challenges to help you grow. And as you live righteously year after year, I assure you that your experiences will confirm to you again and again that Jesus is the Christ. The spiritual rock under your feet will be solid and secure. You will rejoice that God has placed you here to be a part of the final preparations for Christ’s glorious return." -Neil L. Anderson
I'm learning, I'm growing, I'm making mistakes along the way, and I will never stop trying because that is not our nature, we were not meant to stand still, we were meant for much much more than that.
I love you all and pray for you back home often, thank you for everything you have done for me and the examples you have been.  I'm sorry I keep writing so much every week, it's difficult to put into words what I learn and what's going on each week, next week I will give you more of an update on our area and the people we're working with!   Until next week!
Sister Burningham

                  This is me and my companion, it was a... long day or something? haha. You're welcome.

Elder Justin Thiel

This week was a little interesting. On Monday I got that package that you sent me with the Easter stuff inside. I also got the bread. I shared it with the missionaries in Albany and at first it tasted amazing but.. pretty soon we all got a vile taste in our mouths and we realized that it must have gone bad. Luckily none of us got sick. Next time that you want to send food to me we're going to have to have you send it to my actual address so it gets to me fast enough. Also that day I got a cramp in my leg so I stood up really fast and pulled my inner quad on both legs. As soon as I stood up, it felt like both my legs were on fire. It hurt so bad.. so I couldn't walk all of Monday let alone bike. 
On Tuesday we had a great day though. We taught some of our investigators and we put 2 people on date for baptism.  On Wednesday, my companion got sick so we didn't go too far!  We helped with a church tour though. Thursday we taught some more people and we put 2 more people on date for baptism so we are excited for that.  Friday was my companion's birthday and we also had Zone Conference that day. The zone conference was 2 hours away and we couldn't get any of the members to give us a ride because of the time it was at so what happened was the zone leaders took us there and the AP's took us home. The drive as well as the conference took up the entire day so we didn't get anything done on that day. We had a ward Easter party on Saturday and we had an investigator show up to that so we were happy. They served us chicken that was pretty good and we spent some of the time playing with the little children of the ward in the nursery. At the end of the party one of the kids jumped on my back ( these kids were a little older) so I started running with him on my back and pretty soon all the kids wanted a turn.. that night the sisters doorbell ditched us and left us some Easter baskets. In the Easter basket they gave us some treats and such but there were also some hair ties because of a little game that I started. A short while ago one of the sisters hair ties fell into my possession, so I shot it at one of them and the only natural thing to do at that point was to shoot it back!  So that's what she did and now it's a little game. The game is to shoot the other person when they aren't expecting it. It's pretty fun. On Sunday we had church and one of the sister missionaries investigators came that was a male so we took him around with us. After church one of the members invited us over to their house for an Easter lunch.  They fed us ham, bread, mashed potatoes, and green beans and it was delicious.  After that they gave each of us a Easter basket with treats, a puzzle and other fun stuff like that so it was really great.  We had dinner with our ward mission leader that night as well and the meal we had there was equally divine.  We had turkey, rolls, potatoes, and some blueberry cobbler for dessert. Our Easter was great and we we're really taken care of.

That was the majority of my week.  That's great to hear about the anniversary. 24 years is a long time.  Our lesson this week in Sunday School was on eternal marriage.  I am determined to get married in the temple now and I hope that I can have a marriage someday that is as strong as you and dads.

I hope that you all have a great week and that everything calms down for you. I love all of you!

Elder Thiel

Sister Sydney Burningham

                               This is how it's going to be folks, she doesn't like pictures, haha.

 Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 9:16 AM

Title:  Indexing and Vauda.

Hi Everyone!
The greatest thing happened this week, well it happens every week but I'm just going to tell you about it now. So we've been going over to the family history center weekly to do indexing, it is some of my most favorite memories of West Hills, the main consultant is Vauda, she is a hoot and so blunt and in love with family history work, which inspires me. We do indexing and every time we ask a question she is like the lady on Monsters Inc. that says "You didn't file your paperwork" but she says "Did you check the field help?  Check the field help!" It makes my life.  One of my newest goals upon my arrival home is doing way more family history/genealogy and temple work, because it is part of the work of salvation, a big part, I think all this stems from my studies on the millennium this week.  The church is so true.
As for our area and our people.  We got 3 new investigators which is wonderful, all of them have come from going through the area book to find people who have maybe slipped through the cracks.  So many we've met have been so receptive to the gospel, it's amazing, they even keep return appointments and look forward to us coming!  What a blessing.  The Lord knows what he's doing, we're just doing the best we can out here, and there are people prepared everywhere.  We also had dinner with this family who are the best on Easter, they took us in to be with their family on the holidays, which was so kind.  We were able to talk to their daughter about her desire to perhaps serve a mission, I just bore my testimony about the importance of the work of salvation and the gospel.  She really has a strong desire to go and the spirit was so strong as we were all bearing our testimonies, I love opportunities to share what my mission means to me. 
As a mission we have started reading the Book of Mormon together, our mission President, President Irion and his wife will be returning home after three years of service in Tennessee the 1st of July and so she wanted to read the Book of Mormon as a mission one more time before they go home, I have loved going back through again and again, finding new things each time, this week I was reading in Jacob 5 again, I'm sure I have mentioned this before, but it's my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, and I learn so much everytime, as I was feeling a big down trodden the day I read it, I realized that I only have a short time left to be on a full time mission and I also realized our time is limited and that is why the Lord is hastening his work.  In Jacob chapter 5 verses 71 and 72 it says:
 71 And the Lord of the vineyard said unto them: Go to, and labor in the vineyard, with your might. For behold, this is the last time that I shall nourish my vineyard; for the end is nigh at hand, and the season speedily cometh; and if ye labor with your might with me ye shall have joy in the fruit which I shall lay up unto myself against the time which will soon come.
 72 And it came to pass that the servants did go and labor with their mights; and the Lord of the vineyard labored also with them; and they did obey the commandments ofthe Lord of the vineyard in all things.

"We best serve our Father in Heaven by righteously influencing others and serving them.  The greatest example who ever walked the earth is our Savior, Jesus Christ. His mortal ministry was filled with teaching, serving, and loving others. He sat down with individuals who were judged to be unworthy of His companionship. He loved each of them. He discerned their needs and taught them His gospel. He invites us to follow His perfect example." -Richard G. Scott

I was reminded this week again of the Saviors love.  His Atonement, and his glorious resurrection, it's because of him we get to return home.  I have fallen in love with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

I love you all, thank you for everything!  Sorry I write so many words.  Have a great week!
Sister Burningham

This is what I look like during studies, always FREEZING cold. Enjoy this one, haha.

This is me looking kind of weird, but putting my red pin on the map downtown Knoxville has this cool map where you can leave your legacy, I'm all about that.

Elder Dallin Stout

Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 1:19 PM

    So I forgot to mention last week that transfer calls had come. I am staying in Thousand Oaks and Elder Sandholtz is now a zone leader in Newbary Park. My new companion is Elder Wilson he is from Plano, Texas and is an awesome Elder. Its only been a week but we get along terrifically! I was very happy when I found out that I was staying! I love the ward here and the people that we have been teaching! So here are some highlights of the week.
Elder Sandholtz and I taught Puru and Preeti a little about the plan of salvation. Elder Sandholtz invited them to be baptized and they said maybe.
I got my new companion.
 We read Millie the baptismal interview questions to help her be prepared and help us know where she is at. We also taught Charles and took John with us to be a friend to him. Charles responded positively to investigating the church. President Castro called us and asked me about our situation with Madelene. I told him and he also called our Bishop for a second opinion.
We got word back from President Castro that if we feel Madelene is ready for baptism we can proceed to do so! 
     We taught Lito about tithing and fast offerings. He is currently paying tithing already to his church in the Philippines so it will not be a problem for him after he joins the church. He is continuing to read and pray about what to do about his family back home. 
We taught Millie the gospel of Jesus Christ and finished teaching the other commandments. She is willing to keep and follow all of them to her best ability!
We went to a funeral for sister Sinclair who was in her 90's and had a boyfriend that she brought to church every week. A minister from another faith spoke there, his name was Reverend Smith. After the service Bro Doerfler got a plan of salvation pamphlet and Book Of Mormon from us. He then tackled Reverend Smith with Information and doctrine. We had a lesson with Puru and Preeti. They first explained to me how hard it would be for them to be baptized because of the culture they had been brought up in. We taught the Restoration to them. We watched The prophet of the restoration and explained why the Book Of Mormon is so important to us. They said that it was the best meeting so far and said they might eventually want to be baptized!  
We correlated with all our ward missionaries and arranged for them to come with us to lessons throughout the next week. We got a call from Luis, a guy I met over 3 months ago! Hopefully we can meet up with him soon. 
     We talked to Millie and asked her when she would like to be baptized. We have to change the date because the 19th is when we have a mission conference with Elder Nelson! She will tell us today when works for her. 

Elder Stout

Sister Sydney Burningham

                    Took this nice photo next to my two favorite flags.  I really love Tennessee haha.
Mon, Apr 14, 2014 at 9:07 AM

Title: Ferd Hickey Road.

Hey Everyone!
Well, the subject of this email is the name of a road here in Knoxville, it's been my favorite by far thought I'd entertain some of you with that.  Maybe no one else really thinks the names of these roads are as hilarious as I do.  Oh well, haha. Also, this week a lot of ward council was about how to keep transients, or homeless people out of our buildings, so that's fun, haha.  They just need help but they really are all over here in the city trying to have somewhere to stay and someone to help them, so we're working on being more organized in locking up buildings and always having Priesthood there, it really was a pretty funny ward council, one of the best for sure! 
 But as far as this week goes it was really great, we've been having some success with going through our area book and contacting those who have been taught before or some potential investigators.  I feel so blessed to be a part of this great work.  We were going to contact a former investigator and we came across a woman who was sitting on her patio, we started talking to her turns out she's tried out or been to every single church in the world basically except for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  She expressed that she knows God loves her but she doesn't know how to worship or what's right, we introduced her to the Book of Mormon and she just expressed that she'd been looking for a book to read and it must be meant to be that we came by.  She said she's going to read a good part of it before we head back over there tomorrow, it was so simple but given the it seemed lack of interest of everyone lately it was such a tender mercy, sometimes we just have to take a few steps into the dark to get to the light, and to bring others that light.  I love going to members homes as well for dinners and such because it just reminds me that we're all on the same team and that we're not alone out here, that they're here and they want to help, sometimes they just don't know how.  There are a lot of people the members are working with, we met some friends of a family in the ward last night, they have been taught before and are looking to come back to investigate again, just a lot of miracles and I'm very grateful for them, it is always worth the hard days.
I just really felt like Elder Jeffrey R. Holland was speaking directly to me and to my companion Sister Sume, it was exactly what we needed and I'd just like to share a bit of that with you and share my testimony of discipleship and what I have learned on a mission specifically about discipleship.
 "You may wonder if it is worth it to take a courageous moral stand in high school or to go on a mission only to have your most cherished beliefs reviled or to strive against much in society that sometimes ridicules a life of religious devotion. Yes, it is worth it, because the alternative is to have our “houses” left unto us “desolate”—desolate individuals, desolate families, desolate neighborhoods, and desolate nations.  So here we have the burden of those called to bear the messianic message. In addition to teaching, encouraging, and cheering people on (that is the pleasant part of discipleship), from time to time these same messengers are called upon to worry, to warn, and sometimes just to weep (that is the painful part of discipleship). They know full well that the road leading to the promised land “flowing with milk and honey” of necessity runs by way of Mount Sinai, flowing with “thou shalts” and “thou shalt nots.”
I think for the first time in my life I have had my faith really challenged, my beliefs reviled and rejected, I mean in a way that they've never been challenged before in my life.  It's amazing though, how our testimonies grow as we believe anyway, even if we feel the rest of the world is in chaos and confusion and really aren't willing to listen sometimes, in the words of Joseph B. Wirthlin when someone doesn't want to listen, or isn't interested or challenges the beliefs you hold so dear to you and what has become who you are. He says: "Love them." that is always the answer isn't it?  Love them.  Discouragement will weaken our faith, I know that to be true because I've seen it, in my life and the lives of many others, we can't give up no matter how far we have to go in our journey as disciples of our Savior, Jesus Christ.  It will always be worth it, this is HIS work, and the only true church upon the face of the earth, it can bring anyone who will listen more joy, purpose and happiness than anything else. 
I love you all and thank you for everything I hope you have a wonderful week!
Sister Burningham

This is our apartment behind, upstairs it's  pretty great.  Sorry not the clearest picture, this is my companion Sister "incredible singing voice" .

This is our kitchen, My Companion and I made that Enos 1:4 sign, had a lot of fun doing that with some members and their friends! 

Elder Colton Price

Wasn't conference just the best thing ever!!?!?!? I thought it was the fastest most spiritual ten hours of my life! I also can't believe that it was my third conference...I only have one more left. It was my companions last conference. He took the end of it pretty solemnly.

If you haven't listened to it I have to say the I absolutely loved Elder Oaks in Priesthood session, that was powerful! I also loved Elder Bednar's talk about the need for a heavy load. I think sometimes we get so wrapped up in trying to get rid of the load that we have that we miss the opportunity to grow that a load gives us. One thing tht really stuck out to me was the need to put a purpose in our load.
Did you notice how many people threw down over the pulpit? It reminded me of the verse in 2 Nephi 9:48. It sound like as a covenant people we are not so holy right now.  I am grateful that we have the Atonement.

Last night we went over to the Taylor's for dinner and you'll never guess what she made us...she made us ribs!! they were the best ribs that I have had in 18 months! It was pretty much the ultimate ending to a "super-bowl" weekend.

Holy cow mom, you sound like a work/school junkie! Are you doing ok with all of that busyness?
I am so glad that your phone is getting all of the pictures that are being sent your way! It is the best way I could think of to try to keep you involved with the day to day things of what I do :) unfortunately I haven't been able to get any pictures when I am being chased by a dog, or when shirtless men answer the door, or when I am totally a muddy mess after playing ultimate frisbee with the zone :) all of these memories and more I will have to invent a machine that will pull the memories out of my head, kinda like on Meet the Robinsons.
I am so glad that you learned me how to cook, Elder Berman and I eat like kings all the time and we haven't had fast food in 3 months. Ka-chow!! You rock mom, I love you :)

Melanie, I am so glad that you are in tune with the spirit. You are such an amazing young woman! I don't think I really paid attention to conference like you do until my mission. You should totally send me your cell phone number (because I never memorized it) so I can send you texts too!! You are totally going to love your mission if you decide to go on one. There is nothing quite like it. Thank you for calling me handsome...even if I still have a baby face and can not grow any more facial hair than when I left. ps do you realize that I have been gone for almost a year and a half...time flies on wings of lightning. :) I love you

Hello my good man,
So dad, I haven't seen any pictures as a result of your camping trip...we must rectify that situation immediately :) I couldn't help thinking about you while I was sitting in Priesthood session. It will be good to be with you again in a year.  I hope you know what a profound impact you have had on me. Thank you for helping me develop a strong work ethic, I am truly seeing the blessings of it now :)
I love you man, more than you know.

I love all of you so much. Thank you for helping me gain a strong testimony of the gospel. I absolutely LOVE THIS GOSPEL. I know it to be true.

Elder Colton Price

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sister Sydney Burningham

Not the best picture of us haha, but this is my new companion we got Jet's pizza which is THE BEST pizza ever, the a family in my last area introduced me to it.

Mon, Apr 7, 2014 at 9:14 AM   Acapella Medleys.

Family and Friends,
I love General Conference, that is it, I love it I love it I love it.  There is nothing better than sitting in front of the big screen watching and listening to our beloved prophet, the apostles and other general authorities of the church and being able to receive revelation for ourselves and for those that we are striving to help come unto Christ, nothing better I tell you.
This week Sister Sume and I made up a Medley of missionary songs and then sang it acapella for zone meeting, we had fun and built some unity, her voice is like unbelievably beautiful.
This week has gone by quickly, as for our area, we are not teaching very many people right now, we are trying to come up with new ideas for finding activities and striving to talk to as many people as we can.  The ones who were progressing are not progressing as we had initially hoped, but we know as we put our trust in the Lord he will bless us beyond our deserving of it.  West Hills is a beautiful area, it has a lot of apartment complex's, like a lot, I didn't know there could be so many in one place, haha.  The people here are wonderful and the ward is great!  They are so helpful and we are getting more and more team ups each week which we hope will continue to increase.  So happy about that!  It's just building up the area and our teaching pool, I hope and pray everyday that we will be lead to those who are searching and we will courageously follow the promptings of the spirit, we all as members of His church probably pray for that daily.  I have noticed as I study and learn of the Savior and his life and his church my testimony grows, my conversion deepens and I do have a greater desire to share what I've come to know, the Lord helps me everyday and I'm grateful he gave me the Gospel and the Atonement so that I don't have to dwell on my imperfections and I can be made clean and pure and be changed each day.
We had a training from an Elder in Zone Meeting this week and it really helped me understand the power and necessity of the gift of the Holy Ghost.  Often times we focus on baptism, which is important and necessary for salvation but often times we forget that baptism can give us a remission of our sins, yes, but after that we are endowed with God's power, and the Holy Ghost is what CHANGES us, it purifies us and sanctifies us, that is why it is necessary, without it's constant companionship we cannot and will not be able to quality for eternal life. 
One thing that I just wanted to express from conference is I think I'm beginning to understand the potential we all have and that we are eternal beings, we were with God before we came here, he knows us, we just have to strive to remember Him, to know Him. 
"In the hours following the Savior's crucifixion the apostles were consumed with despair and grief unable to understand what's just happened but one event changed all of that their Lord appeared to them and declared behold my hands and my feet that it is I myself.  When the Apostles recognized the Risen Christ when they experienced the glorious resurrection of their glorious Savior they became different men nothing could keep them from fulfilling their mission, they accepted with courage and determination the torture, humiliation, and even death that would come to them because of their testimony.  They were not deterred from praising and serving their Lord they changed the lives of people everywhere, they changed the world.  You do not need to see the Savior as the Apostles did to experience the same transformation, your testimony of Christ, born of the Holy Ghost can help you look past the disappointing endings in mortality and see the bright future that the Redeemer of the world has prepared.  In light of what we know of our eternal destiny is it any wonder that whenever we face the bitter endings of life they seem unacceptable to us?  There seems to be something inside of us that resists endings.  Why is this?  Because we are made of the stuff of eternity, we are eternal beings, children of the Almighty God." -President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I hope we can all remember who we are, and who our brothers and sister are, and help them return back home with us.  I love this work, I have a testimony of the Gospel and of the inexpressible love our Heavenly Father has for us. 
Sorry for such a long email, there were so many things this week that I wanted to share, thank you for everything I love you all so much!
Sister Burningham

I forgot to send this beauty.  All Sister Weight wanted for her birthday was to shove my face in a cake, so she got to,  I don't look that happy but it was hilarious.

Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Last Email! Beautiful Testimony! Homecoming April 20th 1:00!!

Priesthood session is televised now? Wow. Well I don't have a lot of news this week. And we are planning to make the most of my last pday here in Portugal. :) We are going with the AP's to Rodizio, and then bowling. :) We are pretty excited. This last week went by really fast because me and Elder Denney had so many meetings! We had mission council, a meeting with the stake president, a meeting with the branch president, our zone meeting. It was just meeting after meeting, and then General Conference weekend to top it all off! And seeing as General Conference in Portugal is basically all day Sunday, we were at the chapel from 10 a.m to 10 p.m.
Conference was incredible! I really enjoyed Elder Eyring's talk on being a worthy role model, also Elder Hallstrom's talk about being changed, and not falling into the attitude of "that's just how I am" and finally the talk on gratitude...that I think was by Elder Uchtdorf. It was a great conference! I really enjoy conference, especially because it also gives you an idea of what God wants for the world to work on at this moment. I'm also expect something big to be announced! My first general conference in the mission was when the mission age got changed! Since then I always expect something big to happen!
With this email I would like to share with you a learning experience that I had this last week, and leave with you my final testimony over email. This last week it had been raining the entire week. However, despite the rain, me and Elder Denney still worked with happy attitudes, knowing that the Lord had been blessing us immensely this final transfer. Everything was going great and we still had Lili's baptism to look forward to the following week! Life could not be better! Friday afternoon while we were proselyting in the pouring rain we had received a phone call from Lili. She called telling us that her uncle had murdered her aunt, and then committed suicide. Their family was leaving the next day to Germany for the next two weeks to be with the family and attend the funeral. This shattering news took me and Elder Denney down into a sudden mode of discouragement. We immediately went over to Lili's house and taught her one last time as she told us that she would not be back in time for her baptism. Unfortunately, we did not rise up from this occasion with the attitudes that we should have. We "gave up" that day. In our disappointments we allowed the adversary to tempt us into complaining and pulling the whole "why me?" routine. I know. We should definitely have known better. But unfortunately, we let this news affect our attitudes that day. It would have affected me throughout the rest of my mission, had the Lord not intervened. After having given up that day, and working aimlessly, not really putting forth much effort, the next day I woke up and I could feel Satan start to say, "Why wake up on time? You have nothing to work towards now. There is no baptism at the end of your mission, and you might as well just keep the casual attitude towards missionary work now..." Fortunately, I ignored that voice and got up on time. I went into the exercise room and sat down in the armchair, with no intentions to do exercises. I was still quite discouraged. Exercises was such a small mission rule, and I was sure that I wouldn't be penalized for not exercising. During this thought process, I felt the Lord intervene. Suddenly thoughts such as "am I really going to let this upset destroy the rest of my mission? Am I going to let this keep me from ending my mission diligently and with honor?" Although it doesn't seem like much, the feelings that came with these thoughts brought me to realized that the Lord has been SO good to me in my last transfer. Although I was so excited to have Lili be my final baptism in the mission, I had failed to show forth the gratitude that the Lord deserved for all of the blessings that he had blessed us with. He had given us 4 baptisms in my last transfer. This already is a huge deal! From that point I jumped out of the chair and began exercises and I began to face the rest of the mission with a happy attitude, doing my best to push out discouraging thoughts. I now see this entire experience as a powerful lesson from the Lord on gratitude. While I was only worried about receiving one more blessing, one more baptism, I had failed to be filled with joy and recognize that the Lord has already blessed me with such an incredible ending! What could I wish more? And as a token of my gratitude, I put away the attitude that I had, and I look forward to the final week of my mission, working hard and with a happy attitude, despite the fact that there will not be a baptism this week!  May we all remember to count our blessings, no matter what the circumstances are! This lesson I learned was then complimented with Uchtdorf's talk on gratitude!
Finally, I would like to leave my testimony. At the beginning of my mission, I had a very hard time. I suffered. I wanted so much to give up. Not too far into my mission I had told you that I had no idea why I was sent here. I figured that I would be of much better use in a mission that spoke English. You sent me an email that I have never since forgotten. You told me that as you prayed fervantly for my cause, you felt that I would know exactly why I was sent to Portugal. However, you felt that it wouldn't be until towards the end of my mission that I would receive my answer. Well, about a month ago, I received that answer.
As I was reading in the Liahona during my personal studies, I came across a talk by an Elder from the seventy. He talked about missionary work. In the very beginning he had talked about the miracle of the mission. He said something that touched me deeply and was the answer to the question I had posed 2 years ago. I don't remember the paragraph word for word, but I do remember which part touched me the most. He said something along the lines of: "God knows exactly what mission president we need, which investigators we need, which members, which less actives, which companions we need to become who he wants us to become. To become the priesthood holder, husband, and father that he needs us to be." This struck me and as I thought about all of the people that the Lord has led me to in my mission, and as I think about everything that I have learned from my mission president and his wife, I know exactly why I came here to Portugal. My mission has been a trial and a blessing. I will be eternally grateful for this mission. A couple days ago I read a letter that you sent me at the beginning of my mission. You said, "The process is hard. But the outcome will change eternity." I am a testimony to this phrase.
I know that Jesus Christ lives. I love Him. I have come to know Him in a personal way that has molded me and allowed me to gain my own personal testimony of His gospel. He has been with me through every step of the way. Through the dark moments. Through the happy moments. I have seen His gospel change the lives of people who I have come to love. He is our Savior and Redeemer. He truly did take upon our infirmities, and He will come again. Heavenly Father loves us. He has a plan for the salvation of every single one of His children. If we follow that plan, we will indeed return to live with Him. Joseph Smith is the prophet of the restoration. I am so grateful for what he did. Thomas S. Monson is the Lord's chosen prophet and leads His church in these days. How grateful I am for the experiences that have led me to a burning testimony that these things are true!
I love you, I am so grateful for all of the things that you have done for me while I have been away. I know that our family has been blessed. Thank you for everything! I am very excited to see everyone again! I'll see you in a week! :) Love you!!
Elder Colton Wayne Richins

Elder James Robert Hadley

March 3, 2014

We eat at members houses every day for lunch. Lunch is the biggest meal here by far. Every day except P day, but sometimes they invite us then too. We leave the house everyday at 10:30 and get back at 9:00 - 9:30 so we are out at night. The area next to us is more dangerous, and they said a guy pulled a long knife on them and asked for money, but they just gave him a pass along card with Jesus on it and he backed off. They just asked him if he wanted to change his life and through Jesus he can. 
We have district conferences and zone conferences every Tuesday and every 12 weeks a conference with 4 zones and the mission president.
So I'm really learning Spanish a ton. I can pretty much communicate whatever I want. I am connecting a ton with some of the members of the Ward. Some of them are so amazing. I really love them so much. It's going to be sad to leave them. The area I'm in is amazing. Really this week I kind of arrived to a new level of happiness and dedication out here. It's exciting.

March 10, 2014

Sometimes it's hard because I am so new and it's a different language and all. But I'm really starting to learn it so much. I can converse with everyone and express pretty much all of my ideas. It's so exciting and it's to the point that I don't even think of what I'm saying, it just comes out. I'm not fluent yet, because there is a ton of vocabulary that I need to learn, but I'm getting there. I can understand pretty much everything too, at first that was the hard part.
So, we find people to teach by either references from people or by contacting in the streets. For health reasons we can't just knock doors. We contact a ton of people in the street every week. The goal for everyone is 70 people every week, 10 a day. Sometimes a bit hard to get motivated to talk to everyone, random people in another language, but really me just stopping could really change their lives forever and help them and their families a ton.
We are teaching a ton of new people. The most promising of all is a women named Marina and her two daughters. The first time Marina went to church was fast Sunday and she bore her testimony. In front of everyone. After her daughters got out of primary they ran up to us and asked, "When are we going to get baptized?" They are awesome. Marina used to drink a ton of coffee, but last week in church her Sunday School teacher said one thing about how we need to follow the words of the prophets, for example not drink alcohol of coffee and Marina didn't drink coffee once last week. We haven't even taught her that yet.
The hardest thing here is getting people to church. Everyone works on Sunday or they sleep in. It's so hard to just get people to church the first time. But that is the key.
I'm doing well. I'm halfway through this change and I'm going to be sad to leave. I love the members here. Some of them have become such great friends. It will be fun to get a new companion and go to a new area.

March 17, 2014

Marina and her daughters are doing so good, Marina is amazing. She loves all of the lessons on tithing and law of chastity and all the other commandments. Other investigators are bummed to hear that stuff. 
We have other people that we are teaching, Martha and Alfredo, who have 2 kids, and I think we, well the next missionaries here will baptize them. I want to baptize a bunch more families because, really, Mexico is in a horrible moral crisis. Of course pop culture has been teaching everyone bad morals, but here in Mexico it is amplified. So the reason I love helping families is to help the kids grow up in a good environment, teaching good morals with loving parents. This is one thing that I love about the church. Martha and Alfredo love it too.
Yeah, I don't know, not a ton out of the ordinary happened this week. Just living the mission life.

March 24, 2014

Yesterday we baptized Marina and her daughters. It was a great experience. I'm excited to continue teaching them this week. The thing is that Marina was already like 100% prepared to hear about the Gospel. She was taught extremely good values from a young age. When we told her about Tithing and The Word of Wisdom and all that stuff she was so excited to do them. It's interesting. And her daughters are great too, they have been taught way well. I baptized both of them. A member from the Ward, baptized Marina.
We are teaching a lot of new people. And yes, it's weird to just go up and talk to people in a foreign language in a foreign land, but it's getting easier. It wasn't wayyyy hard for me at first, just hardish for them to understand me. But my Spanish is getting way better. I tried to say a prayer in English and I couldn't do it very well... ahah. 
So we found this one guy who is working in the Temple right now, they are re-doing the inside. So he is super interested in everything.
Also, we found this guy from Utah (it's weird we find a lot of people from Utah) and he speaks really good English. We were teaching him, and even though sometimes he would talk in English I would always respond in Spanish, I always do this cause it's funny, but then all the sudden I started teaching in English and it felt so weird but so easy. He said that he just wants to change his life and be like a piece of clay in the hands of God. He wants to be baptized way bad, but he is going back to Utah next week. We are going to teach him more and he is going to get baptized up there. USA missionaries need more baptisms. He just one day came up to us on the street and asked for a Book of Mormon, it was weird because that never happens. I'm excited to teach him more. 
I'm way happy to be here. Teaching families morals, helping children have good lives, it's the best. I really really hope that the daughters of Marina stay strong with the church.

I am changing areas next week, Monday, I might just stay here but I think I will go somewhere else. I'm going to miss the people here though, the members and the investigators.

March 31, 2014

Today were changes. I changed my area to an area that is completely opposite. My old area was hilly and super poor. This new area is in Distrito Federal, named "Roma" and it has a Cathedral named Zocalo, and it is pretty much the Time Square of Mexico. The are SO MANY people. The area around the central is just a super huge city with super tall buildings and everything. I feel like I left Mexico and I'm in Europe. It is so awesome. I'm excited to work here. When I decided to go on a mission this is the kind of place I wanted to go. A big foreign city.
There are a lot of couple missionaries, like 10 I think. Some of them live here. 
My new companion is my first white companion. Well I'm super excited for General Conference. The last 6 weeks FLEW by so fast I can't believe it.