Monday, September 30, 2013

Sister Courtnee Wood - Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays?? - Sister Wood told us that the Filipino people start playing Christmas music and preparing for Christmas at the beginning of the .....ber months. September, October, November December.

Sister Wood's first baptism - Joey
The Philippines LAOAG mission SAVED 101 souls in the month of September ALONE! I don't know about you, but that is pretty sweet. Don't you think? 101 more souls that have the chance to live with our Heavenly Father again! I am pretty happy about it. Makes us 1 step closer to reaching 1000 souls by the end of the year!
And, HAPPY HOLIDAYS from the Philippines! Is it not Christmas there? Because here we are already singing Christmas songs in sacrament meeting hahaha. How cool is that? I mean people already have Christmas lights up and everything! All I am going to say is Christmas here is going to be a celebration like never before. Haha.
So we got a new Sister in our apartment and she is filipino, and she is so so so cool. And speaks the language so good. Well duh, she is from here, but for me is awesome. BECAUSE my tagalog is progressing. I told her to only talk to me in tagalog. And if by the end of the month I can have complete normal conversation all in tagalog then I will buy her a halo-halo. Hahaha! Hey I need help okay.
This week we also finally got to have Brother Joey's baptism! Ah what a special day it was. My heart was so happy seeing him get baptized. He bore the most solid testimony in the world after it as well. No, I didn't understand it because it was in ilocano, but I felt it. And everyone was so impressed! He actually has already fellowshipped with us before he was even baptized! He is that good. I know that he will be such an amazing member of the church. Oh my heavens I almost forgot, my kasama and I sang at it........ haha no this is not a joke, this is real. We sang I feel my savior's love and When I am baptized. It went........... Okay. I don't like singing. So that's that. BUT the SPIRIT was felt as we sang so that is all that matters. We were so proud of Joey. He will help so many people! Not to mention that so many people from the ward came out to support him which made it even better. 

Dad you asked how we contact people, and we try and get referrals, but we mostly contact on the street! It has been working pretty well, and we can kind of discern who really would be interested. Yes it is scary at first, but I have gotten better at it!
The Lord is blessing us with such amazing people to teach that have so much faith. Even though we are teaching them, they are strengthening me! What a blessing. Our attendance from investigators and less active is increasing and it makes me the absolute happiest. 
This place is amazing.
Have an awesome week!
- Sister Wood
P.S. My companion told me my personality/chillness is like a guy. Best compliment I have every received. :) 
 Sister Wood representing BYU in her WCC Champions t-shirt and BYU backpack

Sister Wood jogs past this market in Laoag every morning

Sister Wood and Sister Brewer - Sister Brewer is one of the Sisters in her apartment. She is from St. George and Courtnee loves her!!
I was so excited to see that Sister Wood sent us a video - The Caption read: hahaha, this is all you get to see of me. She thinks she is so funny!

Elder Xavier Stilson - WHAT?!?!?

Elder Xavier Stilson
Bom dia! Well this week has been rough; the work is VERY slow in the area we are at right now. The one thing that I was really excited for when I got my call to Brazil was that I thought that all the people here were going to be very humble due to the Country’s circumstances. The Brazilian people are so amazing but a little prideful and it is very hard for them to change ESPECIALLY their religion. They are very content and don’t like to be told they are wrong. But it is ok, I still love them and will do anything I can to help spread the Gospel to anyone that will listen. We are working hard and finding new people to teach to so we are very excited about that!
Tuesday was transfers and Elder Torres and I are staying here in Jardim da Pehna for now. Like I said, the work is hard but we are moving forward. Elder Mitchell and Elder Conde were transferred. Elder Conde is now a Zone Leader for Serra and Elder Mitchell is a District Leader in Rio de Janeiro! We have one Zone at the top of Rio that is in our mission. I am way excited for them! They are awesome missionaries and I miss having them here.
Wednesday we visited with a lot of our new investigators and it was a pretty good day. I have learned that I do not like it when Brazilians make a tsk tsk sound and then they wiggle their finger at you like you are a little kid. I don’t particularly care for it but I guess that’s just one of those things you have to let roll off.  
Thursday was just an interesting day. I learned something that I really didn’t want to learn. So our house is having more sewage issues and I do not do well with smells at all!!! So I get Elder Torres so we can go talk to the owner again but before we leave Elder Torres asks me "Elder you aren’t flushing toilet paper are you??"
"Only the ones that that I wipe with!" I tell him.

Well…he goes on to explain that here in Brazil you wipe yourself, take the toilet paper and THROW IT IN THE TRASH CAN.... WHAT?!?!? Well I can tell you all right now that we are going to continue to have plumbing problems because I psychologically can NOT do that!! That is really messed up!
Friday we were able to visit with one of our investigators but we had to have a quick lesson because we had a wedding that we were invited to. The lesson went ok but then the wedding was awesome!!

Saturday was not good!!! Everyone we had set up appointments with fell through. It was a little frustrating because not only did we not get to meet with our investigators but we had walked so far! We walked from Maria Otiz to the neighborhood past Praia do Canto which is about 5 miles one way. But while walking we saw a man get off his Motor cycle and he was wearing a RUBBER SUIT.  It was really funny! After that Sister Regina made us cupcakes which were awesome!! She takes way good care of us!!
Last night while we were sleeping someone broke into our apartment AGAIN!!! It was pretty scary to think that they came in while we were sleeping. They took Elder Santos's suitcase and backpack and we don’t have an iron yet again. But, we truly were blessed that he didn’t come into our rooms and take other things or even worse, hurt us!! I love the lord and I am grateful for everything that he has taught me and the blessings that I have received from all of this!!

Well that was the extent of our exciting week! I cannot wait to have conference this week! I am so excited to hear the new instructions that the Prophet and Apostles will be giving us during these next sessions!!! Well I love you all and know that you are all in my prayers!!!

Elder Stilson

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Elder Tanner Nelson - #3

Elder Tanner Nelson

Hi mom, dad, family, and everyone -
I haven’t seen Mav or Taylor yet, but I have no clue when they got here. I have a funny story for you!  On Tuesday, when all the greenies were supposed to come in, there was a monsoon here. We went outside to play volleyball for gym, porque nosotros jugamos al volleyball cada dia por gimnasio (um.....did he mean to say that in Spanish?....just wondering?), and the weather was fine. Then as soon as we started playing, it started to rain. And not just rain. I think it was probably the biggest rainstorm I have ever seen!!!!!!!  After two minutes we were soaked, and we played for an hour!!!  It was really one of the best times I've had here! And it rained until about 7 like that!!!!!!!!!!  But because of that, no greenies came in that night. I think they had to fly to a safe airport for the night or something. So I think they came in yesterday, but I haven’t seen them yet!
We got to go to the temple this morning, and I actually understood alot of what they said! It's about an hour drive away, and let me tell ya, I'm not sure if I would feel safer with me controlling a car or a native driving...its crazy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! People get within an inch and a half of each other, and it's kind of freaky!!!!!!! 
My Spanish is coming, I can say a lot of stuff if I have a sec to think about it.  Its getting harder to write and say English words because we're supposed to be thinking in Spanish...and even though we aren’t fluent, it still messes with our minds!
We've been learning about the Atonement a lot recently, and how it can help us so that we can apply it and then help investigators apply it.  It's been really cool, because I was really homesick the other day, but after reading some scriptures (Alma 7:11) and watching videos, I felt much better! The other day the language computer program, wasn’t working, so we watched mormon messages instead. I watched the one about Sid Going and what he gave up to go on a mission, and then what he got back from going on a mission, and that really helped me feel at peace too.
We pray about 30 times a day, in Spanish, and that’s a little spiritual in and of itself ;)
Love you guys! 

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Sister Courtnee Wood - Life in Laoag Part 2

Zone Conference - Sister Wood and her MTC companion Sister Ulu'ave

Welll what do ya know... it is P-Day again! So I am sure a lot of you heard about the typhoon that went through here. It was actually a pretty big storm. Pretty impressive mother nature is! BUT the sad thing is, because of it, we couldn't have our baptism. So we are shooting for next week! Kinda lame, but that's okay! 
The power just randomly goes out here so you've always got to be ready especially at night time. Last night I was out talking to Sister Brewer (they are our neighbors) and all of a sudden the lights go out and it is pitch dark EVERYWHERE. So yeah, that was a tough one finding my way back inside. I am starting to have dreams in tagalog. Which is a pretty good sign. I need all the help I can get... so at least I am hearing the language even when I sleep! 
This week we had zone conference, and it was AWESOME! We learned so much. I loved it. Plus, we got to see tons of people, so I got to see my peeps from the MTC! Made me so happy. :) 
This week is transfer week. Which means for me, I have 6 weeks to prepare myself to be able to train since that is what I will be doing in November! I am way excited, I can't lie. 
I love being a missionary. It is the greatest thing in the world, but there come some frustrations with it as well. The power of the Spirit is an incredible thing. And I love when our investigators feel it. The other day we were teaching the sweetest young single mom named Pronaline who is so smart. We were teaching the restoration, and it was super powerful. After we shared the Restoration and first vision, she told us that she had goose bumps and knew it was the spirit. Yet, she still said she didn't believe it. WHAT IN THE WORLD? SERIOUSLY? I wanted to go crazy! Because she felt the Spirit so strong!!! Don't worry, we will work on her. She will realize sooner or later :) 
So I made it a goal to read the whole book of mormon this transfer. I started it when I got here and finished it a couple of days ago. I want everyone to know that I have a testimony of that book. I know it is the most correct book on the earth. I love the power of the book of mormon, and the role it plays in my life. Whenever I read it, I always feel strength. And as a missionary, I need that strength more than ever. I know for a fact that it contains all of the things we need to know to live with our heavenly father again. 
Well, I am so sorry this letter is short! Haha I cant even concentrate. THis computer shop is playing Ed Sheeran.....enough said. Have an amazing week! I would love to hear from everyone. :) 
- Sister Wood

Sister Wood and their investigator Joey, his Nanay and cousin - Look at that tiny lady next to Sister Wood

Sister Wood's favorite Filipino dessert - halo halo

a local doing their laba (laundry) in the river

Sister Wood out on an early morning jog and stopped to take another random cow picture

Elder Christian Tanner - Tjena!

Äldste Tanner and his cousin, that he has not seen in a long time

Hej familj! Hur står det till?
This week has been really awesome! The highlight of my week we definelty on Saturday. We got to go to the Copenhagen, Denmark Temple! Millsap and I went with Bishop Lindahl and Heikki the Ward Mission Leader. We drove to Helsigborg and then took a boat over to Denmark. From there we drove to Copenhagen. It took about 3 hours. When we got to the temple, I walked to the changing room and there was Thomas! I guess he works there every so often? It was really fun. Thats the second time I just "run into him." haha. Me and Millsap did some sealings first. I had never done that before ever, so that was really fun. Then we were able to do a session which I did in all Swedish. It was really cool to do it in another lanugage. We spent about 3 hours in the Temple. It was awesome. After we went to the temple Bishop took us to the Kristus statue. I remember being there several years ago. It was fun to go there again. He also took us to that one famous street with colorful buildings in the background and the river running through the steet. As we were walking through Copenhagen, I saw several thing that just brought back sooo many memories from when we were there years ago. It was really a blast! I had a great time. It was probably one of my most favorite days of my mission so far.
I got my results back from the doctor. I do have a bacterial infection and they presribed me a specific type of antibiotic that should kill it. So, I have to go and get those today. At least they found out what I have and not just take a guess!! Geez. Haha.
On Tuesday last week Johan Tageson called me and said he would be in Halmstad later that day around 3:00. I just happened to have an visit with a member at that time! But I called her and asked if we could move it back to about 4:30 which she was okay with. So, I met Johan at the Hopsital doors and we were able to talk for about 20 minutes! It was really awesome! Out of all my family I think he's the one that it has been the longest since I have seen last. That was the other highlight of my week.
One part of my week that I did not enjoy so much was... well, a guy in our ward died and we had to dress him in clothes for his burial. It was... not very plesant. The bishop and Heikki were suppost to do it but the Bishop couldnt. So he deligated it to us, Heikki, Millsap and Myself. It was not something I want to do again. But as much as I did not like it, I did gain a stronger testimony on The Plan of Salvation. So, I guess thats good about his experience. We ended up going to his funeral the following day also. We were the "church support." I think it made the temple this past weekend just a lot better!
I feel like I learn the language in spurts. Like I will learn a bunch of new words and my understanding goes up a whole level. Then, there were be a while that I learn and learn but nothing changes as far as understanding goes. Last week I made it over one of the "spurts" and I feel like I started understanding even more this week. When I first got to Sweden and we went on splits with ward members for hometeaching, I would always go with the one who could speak English in case I needed it. And then Millsap would go with Heikki because he doesnt have very good Swedish. Well, now Millsap has me go with Heikki because I can understand him and Millsap says "you have about the same level of swedish as he does now." Well, he just indirectly told me I have bad Swedish! Haha. Nah, its getting good. I am doing a lot better with Swedish. So yes, mom, you can wirte more in Swedish. I do understand what you say. :)
We have a baptismal date for this Saturday! With Jens, the hobo. But, we dont think he will actually be ready. He promised us he wont get baptised until he has read The Book of Mormon, The Bible, and the Quron or whatever its called. And he hasnt dont that yet. We meet with him every day at 3:00, though. So hopefully we can get him baptised pretty quick! :) We have another investigator , Tony, who I told you about. He has fed us 3 times but doesnt own a single fork. So you could say I am getting pro at using chop sticks! Lol.
This saturday is the day President Newell calls the mission and makes the transfer changes. So I find out in a few days what is going to happen with me, Which could be transfer out of Halmstad, Stay in halmstad with a new companion (in which case I would be the senior companion most likely) or nothing happens! haha. So, i am excited to find out what happens!
Thats all I really have for right now. Nothing too special. Enjoy your week. Love you all.
Äldste Tanner
The picture of the Kristus statue that is standing at temple square is a copy of the original statue found in a church called "Vor Frue Kirke" in Demnark


Monday, September 23, 2013

Elder Brandon Wallis - September 23, 2013

Los Alamos is still going well! A lot of our older investigators have slowed down a lot, but we've been able to find some really solid new investigators. Ferman and his wife Denice came to church with their whole family! Well, Taylor their oldest son stayed home. But it was awesome! We've invited them several times and it hasn't worked. This time they were invited by one of their daughters friends to come to the Primary Program! That goes to show the power and influence that members have on their friends. We were very excited and they loved it. Ferman said they will definitley come back. He even made the statement that as they keep coming that their kids will get used to everything. Their two youngest had a hard time being away from Mom and Dad during Primary and Nursery. We're hoping that this will really help them commit to Baptism. They're such a wonderful family! They're practically Mormon already! We also have a relatively new family that we're teaching.  They've met with Missionaries before but have been in Germany for work for a year or somewhere close to that. The Mom and her three daughters came to Church. They have wonderful friends in the Ward that have helped them so much! Member Missionary work is soooo important! We've found that a couple of the Bus Drivers are getting annoyed at us teaching people on the bus... so we've been hanging out at Starbucks of all places! It's a really small town, so there aren't that many hang out spots. Between the bus and Starbucks we've picked up, Jacen, Ash, Nicole, Emma, and Victoria as new investigators! Jacen was reading the New Testament on the bus and we starting talking to him that way, and we set an appointment with him and he brought a friend, Ash, who is also interested in learning more. They both have many questions. They're 16 and 15 years old. Nicole and Emma are Seniors, and were studying for a test in their Psychology class at Starbucks. So we quized them and helped them study! They were curious about what we do as Missionaries, and we're hoping to meet with them again this week. Victoria is a Freshman, we met her on the bus and we noticed that she was looking at our tags, so we talked about her religion and ours. It turns out that she is very Christian and loves service. She actually wants to be a Missionary someday. So we want her to be a Missionary for the right Church... All of these new investigators knew at least one member of the Church. They were all impressed by the standards that we live by, and how we practice what we preach. I know that as we all embrace the call to be Missionaries we will be able to make just as good or better of an impact on the people that surround us. I love this Gospel, I love this Church, I love helping my brothers and sisters come to know the joy of this message.

Elder Xavier Stilson - September 23, 2013

Elder Stilson and his companion and roommates

  Holy cow this week really flew by... The days seemed like they took forever,  but honestly this week has gone by really fast! Last P-Day was hectic trying to  get things done and trying to help out Elder Torres put together a CD of all  the Pics we have taken then we went back, ate, and went to work! Also Monday  afternoon I got a haircut... RULE #1 when you are on a mission, DON’T trust elders  to cut your hair. Haha the pictures are great.... But hey in 2 weeks it will  all be alright again... I hope haha. After my haircut, Elder Conde asked me to  cut his hair.  Haha, I think I did a  pretty good job!! I am proud of it too! :)

I honestly don’t know where Tuesday  went; all day Wednesday I thought it was Tuesday. Haha Actually, Tuesday, we  went to a grocery store that is really close to our house that we got a referral  for the owner. We went in there to meet with him and he has the biggest desire  to do his family history work and wants to learn more about the church.  So we had our first lesson then talked to him  about how he can do his family history work right at the church.  He was really excited and I am pretty sure he  has already contacted the ladies who run the family history center! It was so awesome;  he gave us some free fruit while we were teaching him.  That's always a plus, right;) After that we  had an awesome lunch with some members! The guy is in his mid to late 60’s and  his wife died not too long ago. One morning he wakes up, not wanting to break  the law of chastity, marries the maid who already lives in the house. :) Haha  he is a great guy and his second wife is a very good cook!

  After that we got a call from our Zone Leaders, telling us that we need to fast  for baptisms this transfer! Like I have said in the past, I LOVE fasting and the  blessings that it brings but the whole "God will not be mocked" fraise  came to my mind.  Why are we fasting for  some crazy amount of baptisms that are our ZLs want to happen this Sunday?  Shouldn't we have done this at the beginning of the transfer, or even last  week?  Even though I disagreed with the  timing I participated in the fast and had a great attitude and faith that we  would have baptisms.

On our way back to our area from  lunch we went into the store where my companion’s camera has been being worked  on for the past 4 weeks. The camera still isn’t fixed but we are teaching the  owners of the store now! The owner hasn’t been feeling well so we gave him a  blessing and when we invited them to church later in the week he was feeling  ALOT better!!

Thursday we went to yet another Dr's  appointment haha. Since my glasses were stolen and I have NO clue what my prescription  is, we had to get my eyes checked again and they dilated my eyes... Not a fun  day!  I couldn’t see anything after the  appointment and because my sunglasses were taken as well I had to have Elder  Torres be my guide dog Haha

Friday was long, hard, but pretty  fun! We woke up and went to help out a member. They are building a house for their  daughter and soon to be son-in-law so we had to haul concrete for close to 3  1/2 hours.  I really liked it and worked  hard! But my body has hated me since then but it felt great to work.  When we finished working we were supposed to  have lunch for us at the church.  We were  so hungry after all of that working but when we got to the church there was no  food.  We called the lady that was  supposed to feed us and she just said that she couldn’t do it.  That was a little rough haha but everything  worked out and it was still a great day!

Saturday we just walked and walked  and walked and walked!! Our lunch was an hour and a half walk away from our  house. Yeah, it was a little rough because after we ate lunch we had to walk back  to walk back to the OTHER edge of our area to start teaching.  It was a great workout if not anything else.

I am staying in Jardim da Penha for  one more transfer and hopefully I won’t have to be ETed again ha ha!  The blessings have started to roll and I  really hope that they continue. I just need to remember my fear of God and to  keep moving forward. The one song that has saved my life is Stand by Rascal  Flatts. Anyone who is having a hard time with anything, look that up.  It helps even if you don’t like country! 

Eu amo Vocês!!

Amor Elder Stilson:)
Elder Stilson and Joao Henrique (Joao really reminds Elder Stilson of his little brother Taeten)

Elders doing a service project at Adilson's house

Elder Zach Taylor - September 23, 2013

Elder Taylor with the Gamarra Family

This week was pretty great. It was cold every day except for Friday, so that was nice to have a break from the heat. I felt like I was actually in the fall season at home. Anyway, something kinda cool happened. We met a lady a couple weeks ago named Lorenza and she is awesome. We were tired and went to get water from her store that she owns and she started talking to us about religion. She´s Evangelico and it´s surprising that she even talked to us so much because those are the people that we usually have the most problems with. But we gave her a Book of Mormon this past week and when we came back two days later, she had read 16 chapters in 1 Nephi. It was awesome! She offered us coffee as well, and we told her we don´t drink that and explained the Word of Wisdom to her. She told us she usually drinks tea a lot. By the end of that discussion she told us she wasn´t going to buy any more tea. We didn´t even invite her to do so, she just said ¨well, I ran out of tea this week, but I¨m not going to buy more¨ I hope things keep going well with her. We had an Area Seventy come this week on Saturday. His name is President Gonzalez. We all had to go down to Encarnacion and that was fun riding the bus for 5 hours... not really but it was worth it. I didn´t understand everything that was said, but most of it I did. I got to talk with the other new American missionaries while there also, and they all were saying that they still aren´t used to it here and they can´t communicate or understand anything.. I realized how really well off I am. I feel pretty well adjusted and I can understand most of what people say. Unless they start speaking Guarani, which is another language they have here. It´s the weirdest thing ever. On the way back from the meeting, there was the coolest rainstorm ever! There would be a flash of lightning and literally the second it went away there were at least 2 more in it´s place. It was pretty darn awesome. We met this random old lady on Sunday and she told my companion that he speaks Spanish badly and that we should go get married already. It was pretty hilarious... she taught us how to say I love you in Guarani.. you say Jevoipotá. So that´s the new vocab word I learned for the week. I´m sure I´ll use it a lot on my mission.. haha. We met a couple other people that I¨m hoping will progress. We decided this past Wednesday to go to a part of our area that we hadn´t been to a lot, and we met a few people that I feel good about. Not much has happened yet, but we´ll see. I also received word that with this being a new mission and all, I may have to train a new missionary this next transfer which is next week I believe. That would be interesting.. We´ll see what happens!

I seriously just love the idea of a mission so much. This really is more for me than for anyone else, I´m going to grow and change so much. I´m already a different person than I was when I left. You guys would be surprised.. haha. It´s an indescribable feeling when I think about the things I´ve already experienced and the changes I´ve felt. I love it out here so much. That´s it for this week. Adios!

Elder Taylor
Service Project

Friday, September 20, 2013

Elder Kaden Barlow

Elder Barlow's MTC District

Elder Barlow with President and Sister Freestone
Kaden left last Wednesday morning and flew to the Dominican Republic where he is attending the MTC there.  Here are some excerpts from his letter this week.
The food here is great! We have fruit juice to drink here at every meal and the Mangos and Pina are great. Sometimes I have no idea what we are eating but I just go with it and hope that I don’t get sick. The only thing that I haven't liked are the plantains and we only eat those like everyday so it’s whatever :)
The weather here is well... HOT all the time!! I have yet to see it rain. We have an hour outside everyday and I’m finally adjusting and I don't sweat as much. It’s really fun to play bball and soccer here even though pretty much everyone can kick my butt (at soccer anyway, basketball a little less) We actually go outside a lot more than I thought. Just to walk around the temple and stuff. I had a cockroach land on my head and that was pretty fun!
There are about 30 American missionaries that came down with us but there are two districts of Haitian elders here and we are getting a bunch of Latinos this next week so basically everything is translated in to three languages.
Every lesson from day one has been in Spanish and I’m definitely improving. I can understand almost all of what people are saying as long as they speak reallly really slow.... so actually I’m not that great but hey better than most. ;)
My companion is Elder Foote from Kaysville and I have met him before so that was really great. He doesn't talk much but we get along. There are 8 People in our district... actually now there are seven. We had a companionship of sisters in our district but one of them kept passing out randomly and having seizures in the middle of class so they obviously sent her home for medical reasons just yesterday actually. So the other Hermana in our district is companions with us and the other sisters in another district. Which is pretty nice because she speaks good Spanish and when she cries all the teachers (who are our fake investigators) suddenly are a lot more interested in what we have to say ;)
We taught our first lesson three days in and so that was really crazy. I did most of the talking and it went ok... actually it didn't. The older district pretending to be our investigator totally shut us down and it was really frustrating. My companion started crying a little and they stopped and gave us a great pep talk. I love those Elders. They taught me that when Joseph Smith had the first vision he only had his testimony to rely on and likewise sometimes that’s all we have too. When a lesson goes bad, just bear your testimony. The spirit was so strong and I have really grown to lookup to these elders!
Sundays are the best! We get Pizza and Ice cream for dinner and it really is the most relaxing day. I played a solo in sacrament meeting on Sunday. I played "If you could Hie to Kolob." The damper pedal on the piano doesn't work so I made do but it really brought in the spirit. There are actually a lot of guys here that can play. There is a church history library room here with a baby grand so sometimes me and my companion sneak in and play... I’m not sure if we are allowed in there but we go in there anyway ;)
Talk to you next week!! :)

Elder Jake Kruitbosch

Last meeting with our district

Well this week has been a very overwhelming week!

This was the last week of the transfers.
After P-day we had dinner with the Swans. He went to Japan on his mission and married a japanese lady. They made us REAL sushi. It was really good and they had company over from Japan and they all spoke in Japanese the whole time... haha it was cool

Wednesday: We saw some investigators and less actives went on splits with members. Kinda the average missionary day.

Thursday: Normal day until 8:30 I called President Alba for Sis Alba's number because I needed to talk to her about some facebook work and he said " OH, well while I have you on the phone I want to let you know that you are training next transfer!!" .... I was kinda of stunned to say the least. Training is a lot of responsibility that I didn't necessarily want.

Friday: Then in the Morning Pres Alba calls back. " I wanted to apologize Elder Kruitbosch, I gave you some false information last night." My soul lept for joy, I thought I wasn't going to have to be responsible yet! but then " But you are still training, but your going to be district leader as well" Yes, a little overwhelming. I am excited though but nervous too. That night we had dinner with some AMAZING people that used to be taught the missionary lessons that we are trying to pick back up. Such a fun family. And their daughter is the cutest little girl ever. After dinner we found out that my area with my new comp would be on bikes. SO I am now a district leader trainer on a bike. haha ahhhhh

Saturday: We had an awesome ward BBQ and had our investigator, John, come. He loved it! It was so good for him. And Craig Appel, ex-stuntman, ex- 5star chef, and coolest guy ever. BBQ the tri-tip for us. It was soo good.

Sunday: A good day, Elder Call's last Sunday in a ward he's been in for 6 months! But then we saw some members after and less actives.

Facebook: I am currently talking to a man in Nigeria, a women in Botswana, and a man that used to live in Cambodia but moved to Korea. Facebook is how the gospel will be taught to the world. It's so cool. I'd have to get transferred to a lot of different missions to meet all the people I'm supposed to!

Today: Today we are going golfing at Silverado golf course, it will be on the PGA tour next year with the son of an ex-pro golfer. It's going to be a good p day ;)

Update on Holly: we have talked to Holly and she said she does want to be baptized! and we gave her some pamphlets to read, cus she is really busy and can't meet a lot and she read them all!!

Love you all,

Elder Kruitbosch

Elder Tanner Nelson

Elder Tanner Nelson
Mexico is nothing like I expected. It's rained every day here except for yesterday, which was really strange. And when I say it rains, it really rains!! They don't have a good drain system in the streets, so it's like walking through creeks! I've used my overshoes several times, and the first time I was putting them on everyone was making fun of me until we were walking on the sidewalk in three inches of water. That sure showed them!  The storms here are crazy because its monsoon season.  I’m also glad we fit my coat in my suitcase – I’ve used it a few times already.

 I decided that I really AM a watch collector now, which isn’t weird because I have so many watches. I bought another one yesterday-$120, what a steal!!!!! And don't worry, those aren't dollars, they're pesos.  It was less than ten bucks. haha!!

Our schedule is a lot more normal now.  We have a night teacher, Hermano Salazar.  He is so funny!  He’s a native and only speaks Spanish, but he picks up a few English words and uses them in the funniest times! We are supposed to be teaching two lessons a day, and that gets a little crazy sometimes, but I'm not doing too shabby at Spanish! 

Heres some exciting news, I'm the new District Leader!!!!!!!!!!  They called me last Sunday. I love the power ;)   (JUST KIDDING), but I really do like being a leader.  A few people have told me I’m doing a great job.

Sundays are great.  We go to priesthood, district meeting, and sacrament in the morning, then we have a fireside, study time/interviews with branch president, then a devotional video from when an apostle comes to the Provo MTC.  Then dinner, study time, and at 8 we get to watch a movie!   Last week was the new Joseph Smith movie about the Restoration - awesome!

Last weekend was Mexican Independence Day, so all of last week they had Mexican treats and stuff at meals. On Saturday night, we got to watch a show some of the natives put on for us, they danced and sang and it was way cool!! They are all so proud to be Mexicans! Then on Sunday night at 11 we all met in the gym and watched the pres. of Mexico ring a gong. I didn’t understand it, but I guess it has national value. It was pretty cool!

As we teach our lessons to our ‘investigator’, I try to be led by the spirit.  I'm writing in my journal every night, trying new food every day, and trying to be patient to go to New Jersey.

Love you guys!!


Elder Nelson


Sister Rebecca Packer - Smog GALORE!!!

Sister Rebecca Packer
So incase you all didn't know....California is very...very....SMOGGY!! The other day we couldn't even see the was gross
that is besides the point that this week we got two new investigators!! I am so happy to finally see something happen in this area again. Last transfer sister
tt and I had quite a bit of success and we almost always had at least one person to teach. The last 4 weeks we have had like NOBODY!  But our hard work has finally paid off and Heavenly Father blessed us with 2 wonderful investigators! Their names are terry, and Jose. We have lessons with both of them this week, and I am excited to see how they go!
Transfers are this weekend and I am really hoping that I stay here in Ontario, but it is almost a fact that either sister havens or I will be leaving. There are a lot of new sisters coming in this transfer, and we will both be training most likely! So I am excited to train, but I want to train here!!! But all will be found out Saturday and sunday. and by next week you will know if I am leaving or staying, but if I am leaving you wont know where until the week after that! But I will keep you all posted! :) but for convenience sakes please send all packages and/or letters to the mission office from now on, and through the rest of my mission
even if I get transferred! Thanks!  :)
                                 Mission Office:
                                 6541 Woodruff Place
                                 Rancho Cucamonga CA, 91701
I love you all! here is a picture of me at my 3 month mark! :) I am styling my candy jewelry made by Camille
s kids! :) ENJOY! :)
I LOVE you all!!
ister Packer
p.s. I liked the bathroom picture, but the sign is was dumb. haha but I sent it anyways! :)

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sister Courtnee Wood - Life in Laoag

Sister Wood and her companion Sister Rico

Hey all! this is Sister Wood's mom. I feel like I need to explain something she talks about in her email. She mentions her companion telling her to wipe the food off her face. I died laughing at this. Ever since Courtnee was little she couldn't eat anything without getting it all over her face. You would think as she got older this would change and maybe she would feel the food on her face, but NO. Even as a teenager she would eat ice cream and honestly she looked like a 3 year old. In fact, in high school, the soccer team had an end of year banquet and the seniors gave each girl a "gag" gift. They gave Courtnee a Barbie doll and they had drawn brown all over the mouth of it, like she had chocolate ice cream all over her mouth. I'm glad she hasn't changed! These are the little things that make her who she is.

Kumusta mga tao!
Life is great. It really is. Sorry about my last letter, my thoughts were all over the place and I didn't put anything that was even important in that! I know one thing... that I haven't changed one bit! As my companion and I are proselyting... I am telling her to wipe the extra make up off her face and she is telling me to wipe the food off my face! Sorry mom, I am still the same. 
September 11th was this week, and no I did not forget! We sang patriotic hymns all day and I even wore my patriotic get-up. I was happy! I really am proud to be an american, and since being here I realize how blessed we are for the freedoms we enjoy in the US of A! 
I'm guessing this the Patriotic Get-Up that Sister Wood is referring to. God Bless America!
So we were going to visit an LA this week out away from the city and it reminded me of walking in the mountains. We get to their house and I look around and see that all types of birds are all over and there are big cages for them... reminded me of someone else I know.. (cough cough DAD.) We walked over and I told my companion, "We have to be interested in his animals to gain his trust and stuff, just trust me, I know how these guys think!" So I walked in and started talking to him about all of his different birds and his face just lit up! He took and showed me all the different birds he had and was seriously so happy! He was so attentive in our lesson and I know it was because I acted interested in what he liked! His favorite animal is the turkey. Haha. Hey you do what you gotta do. Dad thank you for being a crazy bird/animal man so that I had experience!
Alright, so we have a place in our area called La Paz, and it is beautiful. But we found out it is a lot bigger than we thought, and have had no foreigners there haha. We started walking where we had never been before and literally it was like a parade was going on. Us being the stars of it. Everyone was out on their balconies waving at us and it was just crazy! So we of course waved back, and yeah, felt like a parade. As we walked further, a herd of about 20 children follwed us everywhere. Even into the house of our lesson! The whole time they were touching my skin and touching the moles on my face and arms! Haha and then as we were leaving the little town, I had 3 kids on each side of me holding my arms/hands! Okay, I was so happy and I was in heaven. I love the children here. They are so so so so cute! I love being a missionary. 
Sister Wood and the "herd" of children. Her choice of word's kills me. She really loves the Filipino children.
We have a baptism on Saturday and I can't wait! His name is Joey and he is 19 years old. He is so ready to be baptized and I know he will be a great leader in the church.
MOTHER, I got your package this week. It made me so happy. You are the best, and you know me way too well! 
There are miracles that happen every week here and I am so blessed and grateful. 
Oh yeah, we had a zone activity today. We played sports and stuff. My new favorite game though is rugby! AHHH IT WAS SO FUN! I got to play with the elders and a couple sisters. Besides the fact that my feet are raw/sore from playing it on the track. Hey the WIN was worth it. It was much needed. :) 
Have an amazing week everyone!
Mahal Kita.
- Sister Wood
After zone rugby match - It frightens me that Sister Wood has added rugby to her list of sports. She is far to competitive for anything involving tackling. Those poor 5'3 Filipino Elders aren't going to know what hit them
Zoomed in so I could see her big smile.


Elder Christian Tanner - Min Familj!

Elder Tanner

Hey guys! 

So, I will just write some of the highlights of the past few weeks, as I usually do. I did get sick again! My throat started to swell up again and get really uncomfortable to swallow. It didnt hurt yet though. So I called Tina the nurse in our ward and asked her what to do. She said to go to the clinic again before it got worse. So I did. They took another swab and they sent it in to test it for bactieria in groups like B, D, G and such. I dont know exactly what he said. Its not too bad right now, though. I also woke up with a cold a few mornings ago. I just cant seem to stay healthy! lol.

Yesterday before church Tony (one of our crazy investigators) called us and said "If you want me to come to church this week, you have to invite me." HAHAHA. Hes so funny. He always calls us and makes the appointments yet he has a difficult time actually listening to us. I think he just likes to be around us. So of course we invited him. And he did come to all 3 hours of church. And he comes to Innabany (floor hockey) every friday with us and the ward. He also wants us to go over to his house everyday and read some of the Book of Mormon with him. So we do that. He's really interesting. He built a helicopter with a camera on it and the camera transmits to his iphone. Its cool but it kinda freaks me out. Haha.

We also got a bike stolen. Ugh. So now we are back to using the really terrible bike again. So, its not ideal but its still better than walking everywhere.

We met with Jens a few times this week. One day he came in to our lesson and flat out said "I am either going to be blown away by your message today or I am going to completly reject that this church is for me." He asked so many hard questions too! He did a lot of research before our lesson too. He asked about stuff that goes on in the temple (quite detailed too, actually) and just all sorts of stuff. The way we answered it was by talking about he Plan of Salvation. And he just loved it. He was like "this just makes total sense. its not heaven and hell like everyone talkes about. and also the fact that you guys arnt forcing this on me to believe it. i really like what you guys did today and.. I am blown away." hahaha. It makes me feel good that we are able to just listen to the spirit and just teach what needs to be done. He did tell us he will only get baptized when he has read the Book of Mormon, the Bible, and the quron (however thats spelled) completely through all the way. So we have to really really push for the 28th.

We did get another investigator this week though. We met this guy Axel with Jens one time. We didnt do anything about it though. We ran into him the other day and talked to him for a while and he wants to meet with us. So, thats always good. Its good to have a "backup" baptism for the 28th incase our original one doesnt go through ;)

Neither Lena or Ingvor were in church yesterday. But they both said they would be coming next week. And so far they have kept their promises. Lena set the date to quit her coffee drinking on September 19th. That is this week so we have to go visit her and see how she is doing with that. I am not too worried about it though. I think she can do it. We did have a new inactive in church though. Her name is Poula. We went to her earlier this week and gave her a blessing. So it was cool to see her there.

That really it, honestly. We have been really busy just being out and about. But not many events are happening. Enjoy your week and I miss you all!

Äldste Tanner

Elder Zach Taylor - September 16, 2013

This week was a lot better. I´m getting used to how things are here and starting to really like it! On Monday last week we had a family home evening with the family of the lady that washes are clothes. Her family is so fun! I can´t understand the little kids very well, but it´s still a good time. I´ve also realized how much American music there is here. I´ve heard a ton of Justin Bieber and Coldplay.. everyone listens to it here, whether or not they can understand it.. haha. I also decided I really like having a native companion and two latino elders in the room next door. I feel like speaking English is actually something cool.. haha. Them and people in the ward say random phrases in English to me sometimes.. Sometimes it makes no sense at all, but they think it´s  so cool that they can say something in English to me haha. It´s pretty great. At their ward night on Wednesday, they were playing soccer.. they are SO good at it here. Like I don´t think the best soccer player in America could beat one of the kids playing in the church court... well maybe that´s an exaggeration but still they´re a lot better at it here than we are. On Thursday we had an extra Elder with us since there was a meeting here and his companion is a district leader. That was different..Friday and Saturday had two of the prettiest sunsets I´ve ever seen.. I wish I could have taken a picture.. oh well. Saturday we did some service moving dirt! haha. It was pretty fun. My companion and I and the zone leaders all went. Apparently I don´t shovel hard enough.. they kept telling me ¨con fuerza!¨... I need some muscles. We got a reference from a sister on Sunday who brought us to teach her sister. We went in and taught them the Restoration and they accepted a baptismal date just like everyone else.. but afterwards the member sister told us that that was the first time they had listened to the missionaries. She told us that they´re going through something really hard right now and that this is the perfect opportunity for us to be here and show them some light. I really feel good about this family, like they´re going to progress as long as we teach them correctly. They invited us back to eat lunch with them on Wednesday, so we´ll see what happens! It´s a huge family too.. 9 kids and the parents. It´d be so fun to have a family home evening with them.. haha. I´m excited! Well, that´s my week for ya, Adios!
Elder Taylor

Elder Xavier Stilson - Totally Robbed!

Elder Stilson

Hi everyone,
Well this week, again, has been  mixed with the good and the ugly! (It seems to skip the bad and go straight to  ugly ;)) We started out great. Monday we played volleyball with the mission  Presidents wife and some other missionaries. That was really fun! :) That night  we didn’t have any lessons but we did have a bunch of people that we contacted  on the street that we hope to get as new progressing investigators!:)
On Tuesday we had an awesome lunch  at a member’s home and had quite a few lessons with our new investigators! We  met Marlene last week and she is an amazing lady but has a crazy Catholic  mother... It is rough trying to get any progression until the mom leaves but  she leaves tomorrow so Marlene can come to church this week!!:) One other lady  that we contacted on the street last week was Deusa (Goddess). She is a member  of the Maranata church and Tuesday night we attended her church... Yeah a little  awkward but it was really fun. A lot of just singing and they gave me one of  their Hymn books so I have a pretty awesome memory haha!;) Also after lunch we  went to the Ice cream shop and had awesome Açai!! It is a Brazilian ice cream. I  thought it was way goofy the first time I tried it, I really didn’t like it but  I think it is way good now :)  After we  went to the Maranata church we got some other addresses and then went home.
Now the UGLY... So Wednesday started  out pretty good! We woke up did everything we needed to, called a bunch of  people and went to lunch.  Even though  lunch was way good, it was different but couldn’t figure it out until we  left... THERE WERE NO BLACK BEANS!!!! I felt totally robbed. The beans with the  rice are my favorite things in the world and there were NO beans! :( Anyway,  that morning it had already rained a ton and was kind of goofy haha but way  cool! After lunch we had a lesson with Marlene again and it was good except for  the mother was a big distraction and that wasn't helping out at all haha. By  the end even her mom took the Book of Mormon that we gave her and said how  beautiful it was especially because it was the word of God. That was good; then  we started on our 45 min walk to our lesson that was at the far edge of our  area. We start walking, talking to people along the way and we looked out at  the Ocean and noticed that there was a huge storm coming! So we started to walk  super fast but we got caught!! It was a “mild” tropical storm! It was the kind  of storm where the rain comes literally at you instead of falling straight down.  My umbrella was in front of me, not over my head! It was way cool! But my  planner in my front pocket was soaked and my wallet in the back pocket was  totally dry!! Ha ha ha weird things in Brazil! After we visited with Marlene,  we contacted a bunch of other people and then met Eduardo. He is like 22 and  lives with roommates. He really wants us to meet with him and his friends. We  are really excited about that.  Anyway, we  get to our house around 9:15ish and the lights are on and the door is unlocked.  We walk in calling for the other Elders but no one is home... I walk into the  kitchen and the microwave is gone. I walk into the bedroom and everything is  thrown on the ground from my dresser. My backpack and carry on suitcase is  gone... Yep... We have been TOTALLY ROBBED, twice in one day;) Luckily they  didn’t take everything. They didn’t take my iPod. All my clothes were still  there and so were my shoes!!! :D Haha I truly am grateful for the things that  they didn’t take and had to thank Heavenly Father for that. The things that  they did take are all things that can be replaced; everything except my journal  from Colorado so I am very grateful!  Luckily  I have been able to send home letters and journal entries so I should have some  things. Yeah, I have to say it was a rough day.
The next few days were really good  with the missionary work! We were even given an address to contact by some  other Elders.  Iit was a wild goose chase  but it was awesome!! We found 4 new investigators! The work is hard right now  in the area we are in and I feel like I am being tried and test with more than  I can handle but every time that I get these trials, I make it through and come  out stronger! "I Glory in plainness, I Glory in truth, I Glory in my Jesus  for He hath redeemed my soul from Hell!" 2 Nephi 33:6
Alma 32:41-43   - 
Love Ya'll
  Elder Stilson


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sister Courtnee Wood - Life in the Pines......

Sister Wood holding what I think may be some sort of fish? Maybe Brother Reisbeck or Brother Webster can enlighten me on what exactly what this is. I'm just glad that I'm not eating it. Courtnee however will try anything. I mean, her Dad had her eating a pigeon once.
P-Day again... what in the world. Where is this time going? I am seriously going on my 6th week? I don't believe it.
I heard MY COUGS won this week, so I am going to start by saying that we were on a run one morning and I looked over and some random filipino was wearing a  BYU Quest football t-shirt! Hahaha it made my whole day. I love love loved it.
Last P-day my companion and I went and shopped around the centro, and usually we just get random cheap stuff we can use through out the week and we left that day and I went home with a Converse UK t shirt and a soccer ball. So I mean nothing much has really changed. Hahaha!
This week was a big milestone week because I had (for the first time) a filipino tell me I was MAGALING at TAGALOG!!! Which means I was good at Tagalog. I don't think I have ever smiled so big in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hey, it meant a lot. (even if she was just trying to be nice.) Because speaking of the language, we were in a lesson, and as I was talking, I started using SPANISH!!! Do not ask how spanish even came into my vocabulary hahaha. I was always so bad in spanish class too! But hey, it is what it is. Good thing they understood.
The animal situation here is crazy. The dogs and cats and chickens and what not. Like I said, they are everywhere. Not only that, but there are mixes that should not be mixes! For example, hound dogs with a wiener dogs body. I die laughing everytime. As well as the eyebrows that people paint on the stray dogs! Who does that?!?! Haha. And the other day we watched people pluck a chicken after killing it and then roast the whole body. I was freaked out by it, BUT. Why would I be freaked out by that? I would sit and pluck geese with my dad and watch him cut them open! And I still can remember how it smelled! How nasty is that hahaha. Oh I love you dad. :)
We haven't had water for 3 days and never did I understand how hard it would be without it! Gee wiz! But it is okay. Thank heaven we bought jug of water earlier this week. Gosh, how blessed are we back home? I think about it every day.
And MOM, when I was reading your letter from last week........lets just say I was walking around in the middle of the centro crying my eyes out! I love you and I love our family. :) The Lord has helped me get through so many of the hard and different things here. I don't know what I would do without his help. I owe it all to him.
Have an awesome week!
Sister Wood

I love her randomness!! I think she only sends these pictures for her Dad, although I do love seeing her smiling face!

"What!! I know these people." Courtnee was sooooo excited to see these two familiar faces all the way over in the Philippines. Cute Eliza and Willy, both good friends of hers.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Elder Xavier Stilson - A Growing Testimony and WIFE POINTS!

Elder Stilson & Sister Bezerra, the Mission Presidents Wife

It has been an amazing experience  being on the receiving end of a fast. I want to thank everyone for everything  that ya'll have done for me!! I had my endoscope done on Tuesday and they found  what they needed to find. The Gastrologist told my companion and the mission president’s  wife that they didn’t find anything. That they just removed out about 2 liters  of stomach acid and bile from my stomach. They finally sent over the results  from all of the tests to an American doctor who is serving in the São Paulo MTC  right now.  He was able to go over each  of them again. Well, come to find out, there were several problems with my  stomach. I have severe gastritis throughout my stomach. The American doctor  told me that my whole stomach was basically one giant ulcer.  The good part is that they found that it has already  started to heal! This is such a great blessing to me and I know that it is  because of the faith, fasting and prayers from my family and friends that made  this possible! If it hadn't started to get better, I know that I would be home  right now.  I am so grateful for the  blessing that allowed me to stay here in Brazil to continue to teach the gospel  to the amazing people here. I have had to fast for different things while I was  in Colorado and now being a recipient of the blessings... It truly is amazing!  So thank you all so much again!

Well Saturday was Brazil’s Independence  Day!! And all of the missionaries who were really close to the main island of  Vitória were in the Parade! It was really cool and an awesome experience to be  part of!  Right as the parade started...  It started to pour!!!! This was a kind of soaking wet that soaks you clear to  the bones.  Haha it was SO bad and very  wet! Not to worry, the parade went on.  Here  in Brazil the missionaries say that if you go through these kinds of trials it  adds up to “Wife Points”!! Meaning that our wives just keep getting better  looking every time we get soaked, have blisters, or any other trial that comes  our way! HEY my wife is going to be the BEST looking girl on the face of this  planet then!!!!! SCORE!!!!!;) Haha

We have been having problems with  our sewage. We live in the first level of a family’s home and it has totally  backed up in our laundry area.  It is  backed up from the sink and from the toilet!! Yep pretty much just super  nasty!! We noticed it on Sunday when our house smelled like POOP.  We tried to talk to sister about it but  nothing really happened and she just told us to talk to the owners of the  house. We tried talking to them every day but he was either sleeping, at work  or just busy. We finally couldn’t take it any more so on Saturday night and  woke him up and asked him to please come down and look at it. Well he had to go  shoulder deep into the sewer to try and get the pipes unclogged to take care of  it and so that we could have a normal smelling house again. Even this morning  it started to come back up again!! GAH! Give me a break??;) Haha WIFE POINTS!!

Well the next thing I want to talk  about is about the morons who tried to build a tower to get to Heaven...  Really... Did you not think that there was going to be consequences for trying  to get up there ... And now all of the missionaries who are sent to foreign lands  have to suffer due to their stupidity? THANKS! I really wish the language came  a little quicker and easier so that we could really focus on teaching.  Haha. No I am learning a little bit everyday!  I can understand every third word now;) Haha I can’t wait until I have been  here long enough that I can easily communicate with people here.  But for now I get to deal with another trial;)  “WIFE POINTS”

On Friday I had my first baptism  here in Brazil!! It was awesome because I got to baptize my Brazilian Mom!!!  Her name is Regina and she pulled an awesome surprise on her daughter Fernanda!  Fernanda just turned 20 on Friday and really wanted to be baptized on her birthday,  but she really wanted her mom to be baptized with her! Well, Regina yelled at  her and told her no, that she wasn’t ready! But to Fernanda’s surprise when we  got to the baptism, Fernanda was ready and waiting for it to begin and right  before the meeting started, Regina and I walked in dressed in white all ready  to have 2 baptisms!! It was such a cool experience!

Well that was how my week went!:) A lot  of crazy and a lot of amazing as well! Well I love you all and hope to hear  from you soon!!

Eu amo voces!!

Elder Stilson
The missionaries with Regina & Fernanda at the Surprise Baptism

The Vitoria Missionaries that marched in the Brazil Independence Day Parade