Monday, February 29, 2016

February 29, 2016

Hello Everyone! How's it going today? This week was pretty awesome for me. I was able to go to my first zone conference, and I can say that it was the most spiritual experience I've had on my mission. I'm just glad that I've got like 8 more to go, and I heard that it only gets better as you go on. So yeah, you could say I'm excited.
So do you remember I told you about that one girl who was getting baptized last Saturday? Well, her parents decided that she should wait a little bit, just to make sure it was what she wanted to do... If only she was eighteen... but she'll get baptized eventually, she referred herself on so yeah, it's what she wants to do.

At zone conference President Chesnut told us about the 5 expectations he has for all the missionaries:

1. Be exactly obedient
2. At least 1 new investigator a week
3. At least 1 person at church a week
4. At least 1 person with a baptismal date at all times
5. Exceed these expectations

He then told us to write down 5 expectations we have for our missions. Mine were:

1. Always be focused on the work
2. To  come home exhausted every night
4. Gain a stronger testimony of the Savior and the restoration

Who wouldn't expect this?

5. Learn to Look beyond myself more.

I'm not saying I have a pride issue, but I want to pattern my life after the Savior, which I feel is a good thing.

I want everyone who reads this to send me their five expectations they have for my mission. What do YOU expect of me?

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Wonderful Misadventures in Reno, February 22, 2016

Greetings from Not Vegas! I think I'm finally getting the hang of this Mission thing. I figured out how to get pictures here now, some are pretty old, some are kinda fuzzy, but hey! They're here!
January in the MTC

Blurry MTC Picture

I can't believe that it's only been a month that I've been out here, and that's including my time at the mtc. I'm having a wonderful experience out here. The view is gorgeous, but everything's brown... And everyone's Catholic, and then they try to use that as an excuse not to talk to us... HA! but seriously, Catholics are just as common as dog owners here.

I count myself VERY lucky to serve in the area that I'm in my first transfer out here. We have every day except for one filled up on our dinner calendar. The members are SUPER nice. If they don't want to make food for us they take us out to eat. I have to tell y'all about the place this elderly couple took Elder Day and I. It's called Gengis Grill, to put it simply it's basically the Subway of Mongolian stir fry. You get a bowl, put a bunch of raw meat and occasionally veggies in it, pick your poison (spices and sauce), and then set it on the counter and wait. There's a huge metal platter that's easily 15,000,001 degrees. The guy that's working with it takes your bowl, throws everything onto this thing that's hotter that the sun, moves it around with these two big stirring sticks, drips your sauces onto it, and stirs it some more, puts the whole thing on rice, then it's done. The whole process takes about 10-15 minutes, and it was easily the 2nd best restaurant I've ever been to. (Dad, you know which one it didn't beat...) My food tasted really dang good, which is great cuz I didn't know what the heck I was doing. Dragon salt? What's that? it has a flame next to it, so I'll take three! Isn't being a missionary great?

Dang it, now I'm hungry...

Because literally everyone has a dog, one of the most "reliable" methods we find people is just walking on the many paths and hoping we come across someone walking their dog that just might be interested in perhaps giving us a chance... People are great here! They are very supportive of what we do. Just as long as we don't talk to them...Ÿ

Anyway, the guy that one of the super solid priests introduced us to is actually down to take the lessons! Hallelujah!!! More investigators!!! What's more? there were two other guys at the churchball game that wanted to watch and see what these "missionary lessons" are all about! The super solid priest's name is Brayden Stiemle. He alone has given us maybe half our referrals. He's the bishop's son so maybe it isn't so surprising...

I love being out here! Mainly because I can feel the hand of the Lord guiding my words as well as my actions. The Spirit is constantly here with me. I think that alone is making me a better person. I pray every day to have the companionship of the Spirit, And I Actually have it! I think I've learned more about Jesus Christ and God the Father in just the first month on my mission than now my entire life combined. In addition to the companionship of the spirit, like the verse in the book of moroni chapter 7( ) I've been praying for charity to be able to feel the love that Christ has for the people in my area.

45 And charity suffereth long, and is kind, and envieth not, and is not puffed up, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil, and rejoiceth not in iniquity but rejoiceth in the truth, beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.
 46 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, if ye have not charity, ye are nothing, for charity never faileth. Wherefore, cleave unto charity, which is the greatest of all, for all things must fail
47But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him.
 48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
I've been reading in the book of Mosiah this week. I gained a lot more respect for Abinadi, especially because I could understand the extent that he absolutely wrecks the priests of Noah. But I tried something a little different this time, I knew that Alma was converted, so I tried to read it as he would hear it, he obviously knew his stuff, so to have your practice wrecked by this guy and then get called to repentance. It was a really cool experience reading it from his point of view.
Anyway that's all for this week! I'll let you know if I get mugged by any hobos this week! I love you all!!!
P.s. It's so cool that you're reading the French BoM Marissa! Keep it up!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

February 15 Hello From Reno!

Hey everyone! How goes it? I hope you are all safe and sound and not eaten by lions or sharks. Things have been really wacky here lately weather-wise. Yesterday the temperature got up around 65, in February! I was so happy to be able to wear my short sleeved shirt without being cold. But the funny thing was that I was the only one doing it! I've determined that Renoans are 5x as wimpy as Minnesotans, both complain about the cold, but at least the Minnesotans have something to complain about. But I have to be fair to Reno, As soon as the sun goes down, the temperature drops at least 25 degrees. I'm not quite used to the desert climate quite yet.

I've discovered a few peculiar things about Reno. Literally EVERYONE has a dog, every other guy we meet is either named John or Steve (I'm 100% serious about that, it got so bad that when we met a guy on the street the other day and he said his name was John I just about lost it...) and then when we went blessing contacting the other day (basically tracting) only 3 people answered the door, they were all in a row, and they all were on oxygen...

Despite all that I'm having a blast out here in Reno! I got to go to the temple the second week I was out here! In case I didn't say, my trainer's name is Elder Day, and yes every Day is a good Day with him. Even though he's my trainer he just hit his 6 month mark! And I'm not even the first one he's trained! He's super cool and a very dedicated missionary.

Let me tell you more about my first area. I am in the Foothill/South Meadows wards, and in the Reno zone. It's a very wealthy area, a lot of retirees live here, most of them from California (which explains their sensitivity to the cold) but there are also a lot of college aged people here (the most successful area is YSA) they all go to the University of Nevada-Reno. The south meadows ward is huge, Elder Day has been here almost 5 months and he still hardly knows anyone! The Foothill ward however is a lot smaller, but we have one investigator with a baptismal date and we just heard yesterday from one of the priests who has been inviting all his friends to play Church ball on Thursdays that one of those friends now wants to take the lessons! Isn't that awesome?!?!

I seriously love being a missionary! It has already been the best experience of my life! Of course I haven't gone skydiving or into space yet, but let's just take one step at a time now shall we?
I want to challenge all of you to look for the times that God has supported you in your life, it shouldn't be hard, one of the things that I've learned is that there is hardly a moment where He doesn't, if there's any moment at all. As a representative of Jesus Christ I can say that I feel His hand in my life all the time. I have ideas of what to talk about that are my memories, but I know for sure that I didn't think of them, they were given to me by the Holy Spirit.

Remember 2nd Nephi 32:3
"Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ shall tell you all things what you should do."

And no, we don't have ipads…

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

February 8, 2016

HEY Y'ALL!!! First things first, stateside missions in wealthier areas teach a lot less than I thought they did. In the MTC they focused a lot on teaching the lessons, but I think that the entire first week I've been here I've taught 2 maybe three lessons. The majority of our time is spent finding, street contacting and knocking on less active's and potential investigators' doors. Although the two lessons we DID teach were awesome! We taught this Methodist couple on Saturday, they were really cool, but  we think they're just taking the lessons to find out more about the church. They're really high up in their church so yeah... but It was a blessing to at least have someone talk to us more than "Hi" or "yeah it's really quite nice out" or “I appreciate you caring about my soul" or "I'm content with my religion." I can't wait until someone throws something at us. That's gonna be really fun!! We're also teaching this girl named Anna, She referred herself on so all the elders before had to do was teach her the lessons. Like I said before we do a lot of street contacting. She has a Baptismal date set for the 20th of this month!
Anyway my companion's name is Elder Day, he's from Riverton UT, I asked him if he knew the Kertamuses, unfortunately he did not... He's really cool though. I got my bike the first day I was out here, but I have yet to ride it. There really ARE a lot of members in Reno, Because we have two different wards in our area  the foothill ward and the south meadows ward (one meets at 9, the other at 1... yay... 9 hours of church... yesterday hurt quite a bit...) Our dinner calendar was almost filled for this month by the end of the day yesterday. However, because my companion was training a guy who was just waiting for a visa to Australia, and so he left a week and a half before transfers, my companion was in a trio and so didn't get the dinner calendar passed around last week so I ate a LOT of eggs and burritos.

Overall I'm loving being a missionary!!! I can feel the hand of the Lord guiding me all the time! I also know He has a sense of humor because not only does He help me wake up to my alarm, I always wake up before it goes off. It's like He's saying "Hey! I heard you like to sleep! How about I wake you up at 5? Is that good?" I can tell He's easing me into this whole mission thing, because not only do I have a car, but I'm in an area where almost every day I'm fed by members, AND He's been sending some very awesome people across our path. In the words of my MTC branch president, I love all y'all and each y'all!! I WANT YOU TO SEND LETTERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

My apt address is 1001 south meadows pkwy Apt. 313, Reno NV

PS... I've determined that literally EVERYONE has a dog here. Elder Day and I like to pretend that whenever there's a dog pawing at the window or barking as we pass by, they're saying "Please save my owner!!!" because you know... all dogs go to heaven, they just want their owners to come with them.

February 2, 2016

This is the letter we received the night he arrived at the mission home in Reno.  It was scanned to us.  

Elder Stotts with President and Sister Chestnut