Thursday, November 21, 2013

Elder Almen Thorpe

Elder Almen Thorpe heads out to his first area in Manukau, New Zealand. His first companion is Elder Jarnigan.
Elder Almen Thorpe with President Paul N. Lekias and Sister Lekias

Monday, November 18, 2013

Elder Christian Tanner - Be Grateful For What You Have!

 Hey family!

What a week it has been. Obviously I we had transfers this week. I am now about a 35 minute train ride from Göteborg. We are allowed to go to Göteborg on pdays if we have permission from our Zone Leaders, but from what i have heard is that they have never said no. So, I am looking forward to spending some time in Göteberg.

So what is it like here in Trollhättan? Well, its different. A lot different. Halmstad was very big and beautiful. It had a river running through town and it just had a very warm feeling to it. Lots of art everywhere. Right on the beach. But, Trollhättan has none of that. It has no river, no beach, no warm feeling. Its a lot more ghetto town (as much as sweden can get...).  There are soooo many muslims here. Everywhere you turn. Which is not what I was used to in Halmstad. So far the only up side to Trollhättan than to Halmstad is that it has about 70 or so members active. In church on Sunday we had about 75 members in attendance. So that is good. I was asked to stand up and introduce myself during sacrament. But everyone does that, so that was not a big deal. But, its hard to compare too much. I was in Halmstad for over 4 months and I have only been here a week. So, maybe I will learn to love it here too. But, for now, Halmstad is my home in Sweden. Like really though, I havent seen THAT much of Sweden, but from what i have seen, Halmstad would be where I would live if I lived in Sweden. For the reason of everything i mentioned before. The river, the beach, the art, and just the warm feeling it gives. But, anyway.

 We have 2 investigators here in Trollhättan right now. One of them has a baptismal date. His only problem is that he has been using snus (chewing tobacco) for a very long time and is having a hard time quiting. So we are working with him and getting him to quit before the 30th. He has this "club" for missionaries called the MRRC (M double R, C) Missionary Rest and Relaxation Ceter. It was the weirdest thing I have ever heard of. Basically its just that we sit there and talk for a few minutes before the lesson. Anyway, for my first time there he asked all these questions to get to know me. Questions like "most embarrasing moment" and "best prank you have ever done." So for most embarrasing I told him about while I was at the MTC and we had the Wrold Wide Broadcast and how i was on the screen looking up at the jumbo tron. Then for the best prank I told him about when it was April 1st a few years ago and dad called that guy in our ward who is a cop. He came over and "arrested" chase. HAHAHA he was like "I LOVE YOU AND YOUR DAD!" So, Dad, this guy loves you! It was really funny to watch him. One other interesting thing is that before we pray, we play rock, paper, scissors to decide who says the prayer. Its not the person who loses, it the person who wins. So you have to fight to say the prayer. It was really cool actually. And as it turns out our investigator won the opening prayer AND the closing prayer. And his prayers were some of the absolute best prayers I have ever heard in my life. I really look forward to helping this guy out. I really think he'll get baptised while i am here.

 So our goal for this area? well, since this ward is soo strong in comparison to Halmstad, we have agreed to focus more on finding investigators than strengthening the ward (and the sisters are already doing that). We decided to start looking for NO to baptisms. Do you know why? because sometimes you have to go through a lot of people before you can get to the right person. We are more afraid of asking for baptism than they are. So i really just want to find find find and teach teach teach. I think we will baptise monthly, but we gotta get to work. My companion, Elder Peterson, was with me in the MTC. He still has the fire that i have. So, together we can do it.

On Friday this past week we had a combined Zone Training in Göteborg. The highlight about this meeting is this. There were 4 zones at this combined training. Mälmö, Helsingborg, Göteborg and Göteborg East zones. Thats less then half the mission. There are 5 other zones that had their training the day before. Anyway, sister newell said that 8 months ago the amount of people that were in these 4 zones was the entire mission. WHAT? In 8 months the mission has more than doubled. In 1950's there were only 26 missionaries and 13 companionships in ALL of Sweden. Today we have almost 100 companionships not including the senior couples. How cool is that?? that just gives me chills down the spine The 2nd Harvest is happening, and I am right in the middle of it. So awesome.

So thats it. I forgot my camera. I will send the photos later this week. Enjoy your thanksgiving and BE GRATEFUL FOR WHAT YOU HAVE!!!!!

 Äldste Tanner

Elder Almen Thorpe - Nov. 16, 2013 (written on November 11th)

Once I made it to the MTC safely, our first day arrival we all had a lot of free time to relax and have fun after Being up all night. During that time, I got to meet my roommates. I told you last time I'd get their names down. Their names are, Elders Aumua, Faaifoaso, Seiuli, Pennington, and Escott. The first two are Samoan. Seiuli is from Wellington, NZ, Pennington flew with me and Escott is from Australia. Seiuli played rugby and is a really nice kid and funny as well.

Elder Escott, my companion has really taught me a lot. His story and background has shown me that you don't have to grow up and have an LDS family to share the gospel. How cool is it for me to be partnered in the MTC with a convert?

I've got one week left in the MTC and I'm off into the field. The MTC is just a wonderful place to be. There are a lot of Samoans, Fijians, Tahitians, Americans, Australians, New Zealanders and one from South Africa here.  The spirit here is so strong because all of them came from a different back ground but want to teach the gospel. I've already made close friends with the elders and sisters here.

This gospel has blessed my life and I want to thank each and every one of you for helping me and to not give up on me. My first day of class we learned about what our purpose of being a missionary is. Going through the lesson and talking about it really got me thinking. In our classroom we have a poster that reminds each of us every day what our true purpose is. It says, "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His atonement, repentance, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." This touched me and woke me up because this whole work I'm doing right now is not about me. It's all of out the investigator that I will be teaching. As my teacher would say, "There's no more I."

A side track to all of that, we are all writing to our families. As I am writing I thought I would share this with you guys. We all just got on our knees to pray because Elder Aumua was missing his brothers a lot. He first talked to me while I was writing and I told the others we should all get down and pray with him. Even though he said his prayer in Samoan, I still felt the spirit in the circle. This all happened while I'm writing to you.

I believe so much in Heavenly Fathers plan for all of us. It's because He loves us. As we practice teaching our teacher, it is such a neat way how they show us how it is going to feel in real missionary work. Love being here in New Zealand. Love this gospel and what it really can do to change many people's hearts. Miss you all oh so much.

I just want to close this letter by saying my testimony. This church is true. Anybody with the desire can and will feel that same happiness. So many things have accrued in my life that all led to my decision to go on this mission. My heart is full of happiness and smiles.

Love you family! Miss you guys a ton. I hope everything is going well, Elder Almen Thorpe

Sister Courtnee Wood - YOSO pt. 2

Sister Fuchs and Sister Wood

Today was pretty sweet. We had a zone activity and we went sand boarding. Just basically sledding/snowboarding, but on sand. It was pretty legit. The hill we were on had an ocean view so it was cool. So while you are at home in the snow, we are here in the Philippines sledding on the sand. :)
Zone Activity
So we are so blessed with the apartments we have to live in. They are incredible. The only thing is, the ANTS. I have never encountered so many ants in my life. While we are studying at our desks it is literally like playing wack-a mole and smashing them with our fingers. The other day we also found them all over inside our toilet and around it. Like so many ants. And then, Tom and Liza are the greatest and sent me tootsie pops. Which I loved so much thank you. And there happened to be literally a little sliver of a hole in the bag, and when i opened it, it was swarming with ants. But don't worry i just brushed them off, put them in the fridge, and still ate them. I guess I have been in the Philippines long enough. :) 
I have decided that all of the funny things that happen to us happen while we are in La Paz. This week we found a couple of ladies whose dad was a member of the church, but lived in a America. So we decided they would be good to teach. Well we started teaching them and of course like a crowd of 20 kids come and gather around. We continue the lesson and I asked her "Sister, gusto mo ba and walang hanggang pamilya?" Do you want and eternal family? She responded, "Hindi!" No. I sat there like wait what? I looked at our fellowshippers and was like did she say no? They nodded, and then come to find out, she thought I asked her if she wanted NO family. I was SO confused. So obviously there is room for improvement in my tagalog. It kind of made the whole mood of the lesson leave though, so I guess I just need to be better haha. Next thing, so as you have seen La Paz is along the big river here. Well we were walking along the riverside and come to this little lagoon where all the little kids are swimming and jumping off rocks. Super cool/sweet. I had to take a picture of them because they were so cute. So I walked over there to take a picture of these 4 kids and right as I was about to take it, this little kid who was swimming, but was away from us on the side (not the one i was taking a photo of) starts SCREAMING! BALLING! CRYING! Louder than I have ever heard in my life. I didn't know what was going on. I turned around and he had jumped in the water and started swimming to the shore (still crying). By this time, since it is La Paz, there are probably about 50 people watching this. All of the people are laughing at this little kid. He is probably 4 or 5. He gets to the shore, grabs his clothes (cause he was naked) and starts running. I did not know what was going on at this point. I told my companion we gotta go find that kid! So we start walking up the the walkway and i remembered i have some tootsie pops in my bag. Perfect. We look over, and the little boy is hiding behind the waiting shade. We could see his little legs there. I start walking towards him with a sucker and he starts screaming bloody murder haha. He was legitimitally scared haha. He starts running up the side of the houses and all i wanted to do was give him a  sucker because I didn't know why he was so sad! AFter he ran away there were about 30 people around me. I asked them ANO NANGYARI! What happened! They told me he was scared of me. HE WAS SCARED OF ME! I have never felt so bad in my life! hahaha. I couldn't believe it. This little kid was scared out of his mind. Anyway, I had to find this kid and give him a  tootsie pop. We walked up to the main road and there he was. At his house, on the balcony with his mother, just calming himself down from crying so hard. Probably because he knew I wouldn't be able to get him or something hahaha. I don't know, but I at least finally got to give it to him. :) I never thought of myself as scary, but I guess I am wrong! haha. 
I have amazing news. NANAY BATUGAL passed her interview and will be getting baptized this Saturday. It is going to be the most incredible day ever. This woman has so much faith. We taught her about modesty a little bit ago because being an old nanay she always just wears these little tank tops. Well we came back later that night after teaching her for some reason and we saw that she had changed her shirt to a modest one. I love the woman! She only speaks ilocano, but somehow we find a way to communicate. :) Not to mention the coolest news that Joey WILL be baptizing her. It is going to be such an amazing experience I can't wait. I hope we can make it the most memorable day for nanay. 
Nanay Batugal's hand and Sister Wood's hand - I love this picture
You know what, in the short time that I have been a trainer, I have realized how imperfect of a missionary I am. There are so many things that I could be better at. So many christlike attributes I need to better develop, just the WHOLE enchilada. But I do know one thing. That Heavenly Father has been with us in our work. As we do our very best as a companionship to have the Spirit with us, all of the flaws I have, and the ones she has as well, will become strengths. God sends the weak to do His work, and I have realized how weak I really am, but I am grateful for Him because I know that if I do what I am asked of, he will make up the rest. Every day I am shown the happiness that the gospel brings. Being able to look people in the eyes and bear my testimony to them about the joy they will have if they accept the gospel is a feeling that you can't describe. I am so so so grateful for this opportunity. 
Trust me, I know there are a lot of things I am missing out on right now back home, like the ncaa tournament, the holidays, all the things i love back home. But the Lord's work is what really matters right now. He is hastening his work, and I will be eternallly grateful that I get to take part in it. Have an amazing week everyone. :) 
Sister Wood
P.S. Oh yeah, just FYI, our zone is doing a Filipino folk dance for the Christmas conference. Bahahaha enough said. 
Sister Wood's favorite treat - HALO HALO

Elder's eating Balut - a developing duck embryo that is boiled alive and eaten in the shell. It is commonly sold as streetfood in the Philippines.

Elder Christian Tanner - Last Week in Halmstad!

So I know you've all been dying to know where I am getting transfered to. Well, maybe you haven't been dying. But I HAVE! President was suppost to call on Saturday morning - he always makes the calls then. But he never called me! But I knew I was getting transfered because Elder Bilodeau is getting a greenie and he had a telephone conference call on Friday and they said in that call that he would be staying in Halmstad. So I wait the entire day on saturday. Nothing. I thought "surly on Sunday morning he will call." Well, now church is over. No call. We go to visit some families for my last time. No call. Finally we get to the apartment and I get a text from the office elders. They said that my travel information will be in my mail box tomorrow. So at this point I am like... what? So I actually called President Newell myself. I said "So, I got my travel information text, but... I don't know where I am going..." then he says "oh. Yeah, we have you transfering to...." then he pauses for like 30 seconds. Then he says "I am driving to karlstad (or some city like that) right now. I don't know where I am sending you. Can I call you back?" About 5 minutes later he calls back and says "Yes, Hi Elder Tanner. We have you transfering to...... Trollhättan! You'll be co-senior companions with Elder Peterson." I was in the MTC with Elder Peterson so it will be fun to be with someone I know a little bit already. 
 I talked to Elder Peterson last night. It will be a fun area. Its actually a lot like Halmstad. They only have 3 investigators and a bunch of less/inactive members. They seem to send me to the struggling areas. Although, they do have a baptismal date for one of their Investigators´. There are 6 people in the district there. Us 2, 2 Sisters, and 2 other elders in a town not to far from Trollhättan. I am excited to see what I can bring there. I hope to get at least 2 baptisms out of it and maybe reactivate a few members. I know I will be there for at least 12 weeks. President said that Elder Peterson was born in Trollhättan and he wanted me to learn the area as best as I can in 6 weeks. So I will get a new companion in 6 weeks. Maybe I will even train there? That would be cool. However, its farther north. 
As for my last week in Halmstad, its been bitter sweet. I have grown to love the people here. I am really going to miss the people here. I am going to miss the beautiful art everywhere. Halmstad has a lot of art. But at the same time I am excited to continue my adventure elsewhere and meet new awesome people. I have gotten really close to Elder Bilodeau, Sister Christensen and Sister Hosenfeld. I will certainly miss them a lot. But It will be fun. I am really excited. I leave tomorrow afternoon, too. So today I get to do a lot of washing and packing! Yippy! Haha. I will send my Trollhättan address when I get there and you can send your mail there if you want. Elder Bilodeau said he would forward all my mail to me that comes to Halmstad, because I believe I have a few letters out here right now.
As for what I DID my last week here. Well, its been a normal week. I didn't know I would be transfering until Thursday night. So it was the same. On Wednesday, however, my last companion Elder Millsap and his companion, Elder Hansen, were in Halmstad for the night. On Thursday Millsap and Bilodeau had leadership training in Stockholm. So I was on splits with Elder Hansen on thursday. We spent the entire morning that day handing out flyers for our family history. We spent our 2 hours shift at the church, and we went street contacting for a few hours. It was a fun, we had a good time that day. Probably my favorite day of the week.
On saturday while we were at the church, I was going crazy! President hadn't called yet and I was dying with anxiousy. Sister Christensen has these tabs in her Bible and in the Book of Mormon that coorespond with each other. So like all the green tabs is the Gospel of Jesus Christ and red are all the Commandments and so forth. So for example, I could flip to the first green tab in the Bible and it would talk about faith. I could in turn flip to the first green tab in the Book of Mormon, and it would talk about faith. The second green tab would be repentance in both books. It is genious on a number of levels. Its perfect for if someone doesn't belive in the Book of Mormon but does believe in the Bible. You can just.. BAM, BAM, BAM, BAM... all the same stuff. It took me like 2 hours but I copied them all into my scriptures. I want to put them in my quad too. But it takes a long time. She said she got it from her trainer and wanted all of us to copy it. Its super helpful and it helped take some time off my hands waiting for President to make his call that never happened. Haha.
So yeah. Thats about it. My next email will be coming from Trollhättan and I probably will have a lot to say then! But for now, as usual, I miss you all and hope you have a great week!
Äldste Tanner

Elder Xavier Stilson - November 18, 2013

Elder Stilson
HOWDY!! And BOM DIA to everyone!!! This week has been really good with a couple of bumps... First off Elder Crapo was transferred! Now it is just me and Elder M. Silva. We have to cover 2 areas now with just 2 missionaries... It’s rough because of all of the hills here haha but it is alright. We have been making a lot of progress here in Cobilândia and I love it here.

Tuesday was H-O-T HOT!!! I think it was close to 120!! Now the humidity isn’t what has been killing me! I thought it would be but it is just the stinking heat!!! We had to stop after walking for about an hour after lunch and asked a random guy for water, it was a nice house so we think the water was safe ;) (My mom will love to hear that! She reminded me over and over not to drink the water.)  While we were sitting there we got a call from the APs saying that Elder Crapo had been transferred! Well he served a good week here in Cobilândia ;)

After we took him to the bus stop we had amazing lesson with an investigator Sheila! She wants a Joseph Smith testimony experience before she is baptized though... We have tried and tried to get her understand it usually doesn’t work that way.  She finally has accepted baptism and is scheduled to be baptized this Saturday! She feels the spirit every time we visit with her but it is hard to tell someone exactly what they will feel and what their answer will be. She wants to be baptized so we are hopeful about Saturday!!

Wednesday we had a lesson with Lorival which was really good. Teaching him was very different because everything we taught he accepted!!?? WHAT?! A 71 year old catholic accepting everything?! Yeah we were a little shocked at how accepting he was about everything we taught but we now know that he truly was prepared!! He stopped drinking coffee and he was baptized this week! It was amazing and the members here have really helped him! He is an amazing man and one of my best friends here in Cobilândia!!

The rest of our time this week was mainly spent trying to get addresses! Our zone leaders have made this a new rule. We didn’t get all 35 addresses this week so we had to go out this morning and get the 8 that we were missing.  It is frustrating but we did it and I’m glad we were able to get it done.

I don’t have a lot of time today but I want to thank everyone for the letters and emails.  Thank you for everything that y’all have done for me!! You are the best!! JR thank you so much for that essay that you sent me! I hope you know how much that means to me and I know you said not to waste my time but I need to thank you for that! It really is going to help me!


Vitoria District

Elder Zach Taylor - November 18, 2013

It´s kind of weird how much you change and learn in a week out here. I almost feel like a new person every time I write home.. but this week was great! On Tuesday and Wednesday, we went on splits with the zone leaders. I was with Elder Balmaceda, which was great. I learned a lot from him. One thing that we did was we found a lot of new people that we could potentially teach. It´s been really nice to have all these new people to visit. A lot of them ended up not being home or making up some excuse when we returned, but a lot of them didn´t. One of them went to the ward night on Wednesday, so that was pretty exciting.
We´ve been teaching this one family for a while and we visited them on Tuesday. The father is a member, but hasn´t gone for 10 years or more, and his wife isn´t a member. We asked her if she really believed that all we had been teaching her was true, and she said yes. She said yes, because one day she had a dream that two angels came to her house, and the next day was when we visited her for the first time.. I don´t know how I didn´t know this until now, but it was really cool. They went to church this Sunday and loved it. The wife´s name is Roxana and her husband is Sergio. She told us after that she´s definitely going next week. She also told us that she liked how everyone was so friendly and welcoming in the church. It´s so important that we welcome anyone we don´t recognize. I´m excited for this family, I really want them to have the blessings the gospel brings.
So this week is...changes..that´s not the right word but I can´t think of the other one...anyway I´m pretty sure one of us will be moved to a different area, but nobody knows until tomorrow. Guess you´ll have to wait another week to find out anything! 
All in all, this week has been awesome. And I finished my training! Now I´m a real missionary!.. haha. Well, until next time,
Elder Taylor

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Elder Kaden Barlow - "No Regrets", That is definitely my motto!

This week has had its up and downs where to start...
We have a new investigator this week named Nahomy. She is 11 but is super super smart. She has been going to church with a member for over a month now and is very prepared. I got to invite her to be baptized and she said yes so hopefully the 30th of Nov.
When we were out one night working my comp wanted to go visit this member, but we had absolutely no reason to do so. So I insisted that we go contact in this other area. Usually he pulls rank and does what he wants, but I didn´t let him. I just started going with or without him haha. I felt strongly about doing this though, and he came with me.  Anyway when we were contacting, this lady, Siomara, came up to us all excited and asked to take the lessons! She had been contacted in Santiago and had a restoration pamphlet, so now we are teaching her! She seems excited so hopefully she chooses to accept.
Saturday we got to do Mormon Helping Hands. We went to a cemetery and cleaned it up for a few hours. They bury all their dead above ground, so that was interesting and there is definitely no organization.
One time this week I was doing dishes and out of the corner of my eye I saw this... critter fly from somewhere into the pantry. It looked big and I thought that it was a spider but we couldn't find it. Later Elder Tirado saw it and thought that it was a mouse. Turns out it was a huge freaking HUGE cockroach, Elder De La O killed it but I’m still not sure if I will sleep the same again ;)
Well I’m enjoying life here and I’m sure it will only get better! It’s always fun when the random goat walks past or four missionaries squeeze in the back of a carro and I’m laying on their laps and a guy in the car over takes a pic. That’s when you know that you are squeezed tight... even for Dominican standards haha.
As to the “no regrets,” that is definitely my motto! The pain of discipline is less than the pain of regrets!! I can sleep and be tired when I am dead. I am here to work! :)

Monday, November 11, 2013

Elder Zach Taylor - November 4 - 10

This week has been amazing. The zone leaders went to a conference in Posadas last Monday, and came back with some great things to teach us in our zone meeting Tuesday. President LaPierre is really focusing on reactivating less active members and creating new ones that will actually last, not just stop going after a couple weeks. He made a couple new rules that I think are going to help a lot. 1: we can´t baptize anyone under 18 years of age unless they´ve gone to church for 2 months consecutively, at the least 6 times rather than the normal 3 that is required for others. 2: The bishop is going to be the one who approves all the baptisms. If he doesn´t feel like a certain investigator is prepared enough to stay active, he won´t give us permission to baptize them. I think that´s going to help a lot in building unity between the investigators and members and help them keep coming. The president also sent out a message that we´ve been giving to all the members. It talks about what elder Ballard said in conference, about inviting people to church activities. A lot of times people don´t invite because they´re afraid to hear the word no. What the president did was type up an invitation that invites every member to invite others to church and look to recieve 4 answers ¨no¨ before Christmas. That way, they´ll be looking for a no, they won´t be afraid to do it so much, and they´re pretty much guaranteed to find a yes while looking for 4 no´s. I think it´s awesome. If anyone who reads this wants to do it too I¨d encourage it! Besides that, my companion and I have been working with a man named Abraham, but this week we invited his daughter, Cintia to church. She came, and quickly made friends with the other young women in the ward. I¨m pretty excited for her. We´re going to make sure that she keeps going! Something not so spiritual, it´s been the hottest week I¨ve seen so far this week. I¨m soaked with sweat and humidity when I come back every night.. and in the morning studying is now an excercise. Who knew I could read so hard I´d start sweating? Welcome to South America, eh? Well, talk to you all later, hope your week is as fantastic as mine´s going to be.
Elder Taylor

Sister Courtnee Wood - Hindi ko alam tungkol sa inyo, perro naramdaman ako dalawam pt dalawa

Hi all, this is Kim, Sister Wood's mom. Courtnee has definitely maintained her sense of humor and quirky, randomness. I laughed when I google translated the subject of her email. Just know that she is a huge Taylor Swift fan and it will make much more sense......
I had to make that the subject of this email in honor of her. So you can put it in to google translate and figure out what it says if you want. :)  
Obviously it was a big week because of transfers and training, and everything else that went on! But I will start with the days that Sister Brewer and I got to be companions! Greatest days ever. Everything just went perfectly. We got to teach so many lessons, and the people, yes i repeat, they understood us the whole time! Heavenly Father was really watching out for us haha. But yeah it was awesome. 
Sister Wood is a trainer now!! Her new trainee is Sister Fuchs from West Valley - I dare say that Sister Fuchs is in for the time of her life!

Sister Wood with Brand new missionary Sister Fuchs and President and Sister Barrientos
This was the big week that we got our new companions! After the days of anxiously waiting, my new companion is Sister Fuchs from west valley, ut!  I love her. She is so funny. She is shy/quiet, but then out of nowhere cracks the funnies jokes. I love it haha. And is so extremely chill. We make a good pair. And she likes soccer! So woohoo! I am excited for the next couple of months. Plus, being a trainer is super fun everyone. I love it! I am pretty sure that God gives trainers of missionaries the power to somehow understand the language more, and be able to communicate. Because somehow everyone seems to get what we are saying through our broken tagalog haha. The language is definitely improving rapidly though. :) 
So regarding the people we are teaching. I hate to say it, but the Javier family we have been teaching from La Paz and who have come to church, they don't want a baptismal date anymore. They told us to just wait until they told us they were ready. So we are hoping that they keep progressing, but i will keep you updated on that. Nanay Batugal will be getting baptized on the 23rd. We are SO INCREDIBLY excited for her. She is too. So enthusiastic. We are going to see if Brother Joey (RC) and her grandson will baptize her. It would be such a cool experience. 
With the transfers that happened, we got 2 new elders in our ward with us. So there are 4 sisters, 2 elders. I think it will be a good addition! 
None of us here were affected by the Typhoon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those missionaries and people that our in Tacloban. There are many missionaries here who are from that area, so we are praying that they are all okay. 
Have an amazing week! :) 
Sister Wood
PS, I am a giant here, we all know that, but the comments they make to me make me laugh so hard. A 10 year old girl asked me the other day, "Apay malaking ka?" Why are you so big? I told her I was born this way. They thought it was hilarious. Anyways, gotta have tough skin here hahaha. :) 
These are some serious Missionary Feet!!
Dragon Fruit - Sister Wood's favorite
Farmer Courtnee

Elder Xavier Stilson - 11-11-13

Elder Xavier Stilson - I guarantee Bishop Wood will love this picture!
BOM DIA!!! Well I was transferred!!  I am in Vilha Velha! I am in an area called Cobilândia! I absolutely love this  area and the people here are great!!! The area is HUGE!!! We are in a trio as  well. I’m with Elder Crapo again and Elder M. Silva.

This week was great and went by  SUPER fast! I love when that happens! That means that I am working and loving  what I am doing! Our area is flat except for 2 morros or hills. That is where  all the houses are at. Now at first I HATED walking them, but now I love it!!  They people here are amazing and so willing to accept the gospel!!

This week we had a BAPTISM!!!! Now  how baptisms work here is that you have a wedding in the morning then the  baptism at night ;) The man that was baptized is Iran! He is big like me and we  get along great! He is just awesome!!! His wife doesn’t want to be baptized  right now but we are really going to work on her testimony of the BOM!!!

We also have a new investigator  named Lorival. We met him this week and he is just a great 71 yr old guy! We  went and had some great lessons with him despite our ability to teach PERFECTLY  in our companionship. But he was waiting for us on Sunday when we went to pick  him up and he really liked church! So this Saturday we have a baptism as well!!  

We have also been knocking a lot of  doors this week as well. On the morros and have had some success! There are a  lot of Catholics and members of the Maranata church who are very happy where  they are at right now but we are working hard and I KNOW that we are going to  have great success in this area!

I have really figured out why the  last 2 transfers felt so slow and it was because of my ATTITUDE!!!! As a  missionary you can have an amazing experience during your 2 years of service or  it can go by SUPER slow. If you have the attitude that you are here to teach people  about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and you are ready to do whatever it takes.  Decide how you want things to be and then JUST DO IT!!! ONLY YOU have control  on what these 2 years are going to be, NOT your companion, NOT your mission  president, NOT ANYONE BUT YOU! JUST DO the Lords work and he will bless you and  you will ENJOY THE JOURNEY! I remember in Jd. da Penha when we would walk I  would basically just look down or in front of me and not think about anything  except who do we get to talk to next... Now I am really starting to enjoy the  people and what is around me and we all need to do this!

Like yesterday! I SAW FIREFLIES FOR  THE FIRST TIME!!! And I wouldn’t have seen them if I wasn’t looking around and  enjoying what I have been given!!!

I love you all! I hope everyone will  put me on their mailing list for Christmas.  I would love to hear from everyone.

Well I love you all and JUST DO  IT!!! Whatever it may be!!


Elder  Stilson
Elder Stilson's new district

Recent Baptism

Elder Stilson's new area

Elder Almen Thorpe - Thanks for the great first email!

DAD and MOM!!!!! I miss you so much!!! Thank you for being such a good example for me over the past years of my life. Elder Christensen is such a funny kid, we hang out a lot during lunch, dinner and breakfast. We don't have p-days because we are only in the MTC for a week. Not this coming Tuesday but the next Tuesday I'll be going into the field. Right now we are all practicing how to invite investigators into the gospel. We do a lot of role play by going into different rooms with our companion and talking to the investigator. By the third visit they want us to ask them if they want to be baptized. My companion is cool, he's from Australia and is a convert and has been a member for four years. Neat story because he's the only LDS member in his family and he's dedicated to help them and is hoping this mission would change their minds about joining the church.
I've learned that I'm blessed to go to seminary and waking up at six in the morning everyday helped so much. Without that I don't know how I would do with this schedule of waking up. Thanks for pushing me to do the best and not giving up on me. I'm feeling like I've almost grasping the true meaning and lesson that my MTC teachers have been teaching me. One lesson I've learned so far while being in the MTC and I hear it from the teachers too and its been on me for awhile is that this work I'm doing is not all about me it's about the person I'm going to teach and the Lord. The words that will come out of my mouth are the words of the Lord. I have a testimony that Heavenly Father has a plan for all of us and He wants us to be happy as he was and that everybody has a purpose in life and those who don't know that purpose are needing help. That's where missionaries come in to help those who are lost. through us Heavenly Father can speak to the investigator.
Everybody here can feel that spirit everytime they go into class. It's amazing to hear from all the kids that have the some beliefs and same goal in life as I do. I have six roommates, two are Samoan, ones from Wellington, NZ, one is an American like me and the other is from Australia. We help each other and get alone so well, its like we are a family but who come from different places. Its amazing how he can get a group of kids from all over the world to work together to bring happiness to others. I've been writing in my journal and I know the elders and sisters names pretty well so can say their names are very unquie. The elders and sisters here say that I have a funny accent which I don't blame them because it is kind of funkey if you think of it. I'm learning some Samoan language for fun from the elders. Also we have learned this beautiful song in the New Zealand language that everytime we sing it I start to cry. I'll have to show you the next time I email or something.
There's a sister here from Australia that asked me one day where I was from and I said from the Marshall Islands. She said her friend was going to serve a mission there. I was very excited that there are some people that go there. She said it was cool and actually meet some Marshallese. I also learned what the language was from another elder but.....I forgot it I'll get it next time. Most everybody here knows where and what the Marshall islands are.
This Thursday we will be going to the New Zealand temple in Hamilton. It's an hour drive from the MTC. They have been telling its a beautiful place and such a neat expereince. I'll make sure to take some pictures for you so that you can see them. I love being here even though some days are hards. Sometimes I get homesick and miss you guys a ton. I love you guys so much and you are in my prayers everynight. Love you mom and dad, I'll see you the next time I email you. It's great to hear the family is doing well.
from Elder Thorpe
p.s. My companion is shorter than me!!! Looks like im not the shortest one!!!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Elder Almen Thorpe - Elder Thorpe's First Letter

Elder Thorpe - Airport Security and Big Smiles!
Hey Dad and Mom,
I made it to New Zealand safely. The flight itself was very nice but long, all in the fun I guess. This is the best decision I've made in my whole life and loving every minute of it. I'm making sure to take a lot of pictures so I can show you guys once I get back home. At the airport I flew with six other missionaries. They all grew up in Utah and one is named Elder Christensen. He is good friends with our neighbors son Jake Kruitbosch. I still haven't gotten used to the Elders names yet because I'm still getting used to the fact that I'm away from home, so sorry if I don't tell you guys their last names right away. Sometime over the week I'll get their last names down.
 While waiting for our flight to go to LA, a couple of us walked around the airport and saw another group of missionaries with a lot of sisters that were going to Cambodia. We also had one girl in our group that flew with us to LA and New Zealand. On our arrival to New Zealand I couldn't stop thinking of the day when you guys will be coming down and seeing the beautiful site I saw while on the plane.

Our driver who picked us up is from New Zealand and Hawaii. According to him, the Mission President here is super nice and so is the Sister President. They asked were I was born and where I was from and I told them my whole background and their answer would be "ahhh that's cool".
They Love Love LOVEEEEEEEE Rugby down here!!!! If you don't play rugby then you watch it. One of my roommates played rugby, he's prettty cool and big. Did I tell you they love ruggby....well good, cause they do!! I told them I wrestled and they said that's unreal cause wrestling is a tougher sport than rugby.
In all everybody here is very friendly and nice, tomorrow will be another day. Thank you for everything you two have taught to me, shown me and said to me. Love you both and miss you guys a lot. Tell the family I said hi and that I made it here safely. Talk to you guys soon, love your son, Almen Ray Thorpe 

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sister Courtnee Wood - REAL HALLOWEEN

Sister Wood with the J. Family

Hello po once again!
It has been a crazy week that's for sure. So the typhoon that came through this week was actually the worst storm so far. Yeah I will admit, I was scared haha. BUT it did make for a good Halloween.
I hope you all had a very happy halloween as well. They celebrate it a lot different here in the Philippines and it is Nov. 1-2nd. They all go to the cemetary and eat and stuff. So it kind of made it hard to teach because everyone was so busy. To celebrate Halloween, we dressed up as much as we could, as you can see in the pictures.
Sister Brewer and Sister Wood - creepy costumes, haha
While we were hanging out, all the power went out. So that was great. Then that night, the typhoon hit. I woke up at 1 in the morning cause i was blazing hot, and could hear this loud noise. Well, I guess our roof was broken and it literally sounded like someone was shooting missles at our roof and it was going to cave any second. Okay I am probably exaggerating a little, but it was loud enough that we moved downstairs and slept. I got like 4 hours of sleep that night  because the noise was so loud. It was a real Halloween I am telling you. We did get to go out and teach the next day, but it sure did take its toll on all the trees and homes! 
This week is transfers/getting my new trainee!!! I am so dang excited. I will be staying in the same area. Which I am thrilled about. I love it so much. I know that I still have a lot to learn, and training will be such a humbling experience. I am going to need to work even harder to be able to have the Spirit with me always because I know for a fact that I won't be able to do it without the Lord's help. AND, Sister Brewer and I are temporary companions for the next few days. To say I am excited is an understatement. Basically doing missionary work with a best friend. I don't think it gets better than that. 
So I told you about the 2 families that we are teaching from clear out in La Paz. Well we have continued teaching them twice a week. They are so amazing. The amount of faith they have strengthens ours. This week both of them came to church. Wow. It was the greatest thing in the world. I just want the gospel for their families so bad. They have so many little problems, and I know that if they just fully accept it, they will be so blessed. Their lives will be forever changed. Coming to church though, is one step closer to our Savior though. So thrilled for them. Plus we had the 75 year old Nanay Batugal come to church for the 2nd week in a row. This woman is a saint. She WILL be baptized in 2 weeks. So we had 7 new investigators at church. Heavenly Father is blessing us so much. All of the members were so good with taking them in, and so it made our job so much easier. There has been a lot of progression in the ward. 
We taught another person with a monkey this week! Needless to say, I was getting extremely distracted. More than I already do haha. Thanks dad. 
We just got back from eating at a members house. She fed us mussles, squid, and prawns (shrimp). It was so dang good. 
Well, I am truly happy right now. I mean my whole life I always thought the only thing I would find joy in is soccer hahaha. But, missionary work, I hate to say it, beats out soccer! The Lord's work is the most important thing! I truly have a testimony of it. 
Have a good week everyone!
- Sister Wood

Elder Christian Tanner - Another Day In Paradise

Elder Christian Tanner


 Well it's Monday again. I dont have to much to write this week either. We have been really busy but there is nothing that just seems to stand out over the week that was imporant or a good story. Haha. I guess I'll just write a few things day by day.
So last Monday, as I was saying earlier, we had a hurricane warning. It got crazy outside. Remember when we were in Mexico last year and we had that crazy storm? yeah it was kind of like that. We were told to just stay inside and enjoy being indoors. Well, Bilodeau and I were at the church when it got really really bad. So we decided to go home. They stopped running the busses though! So we ended up walking home in a hurricane basically. Not not really. It was just really windy and rainy. As we were walking through town we could see a bunch of roof shingles on the ground broken and busted up. So we walked in the middle of the street instead. haha. Trees were fallen all over the ground. It was pretty crazy. When we got back home the sisters called us up and wanted to tell scary stories. We sat down with hot chocolate and turned off all the lights, but the scary stories didn't last long before it just turned into a spiritual story night. haha. We just told spiritual stories and it was really fun. The Mission President told everyone in Skåne to stay indoors.
Wednesday evening the Källbergs had a game night at the church. It was super fun too. Some members came and us 4 missionaries. Its kinda hard to explain the games, but we played Stop the Bus, had a paper plane throwing contest (which I won of course... not to brag or anything), and just a bunch of team games. Its good for the ward to have activities like this. It makes them closer to eachother, which is what they need here. Other than that we visited with Tony and did our time at the church.
Thursday, Halloween! You cant expect me to NOT dress up right? Well, for Halloween I was a piece of 3 hole punch paper. I just colored 3 black dots and put them on my shirt and wore I white tie. It was about as creative I could get and still be missionary appopriate. I'll send the picture if I can figure out how to get this chord to work. Today was by far the biggest day we had though. We had District Meeting in the morning. After that we met with Samuel one of our investigators. We taught him the Plan of Salvation I know he understood it. He is very intelligent and very mature about these things. I am not too sure what he thinks about it though. He shows no facial expression and doesn't really talk much. But he has been keeping his commitments of reading the Book of Mormon. He said he was on chapter 18 of 1 nephi. Thats more than 2 chapters a day he's been reading. Much more than I thought. He is a super cool guy and I really hope we can baptism him and then send him on a mission in 2 years or so (he's 17 right now). Right after that we met with Maria. We visit her everyweek. It wasnt anything too special. Just another visit. After that we went home teaching with Jose Alercon. And after we went home teaching we had to go visit Ingvor. We visit her every week too. I was so exhausted I fell asleep on the bus on the way to her place. I get so tired. Switching between lanugages all day is more exhuasting than one might think too. Sometimes I wake up and i'm just like "ugh.. how in the world am I going to get through today." but i hardly blink and there I am laying in bed again. It just goes by so fast and we're so busy i forget about sleep sometimes. I even forget we have to eat lunch. Study time is over and I am just like "okay, gotta go! we got stuff to do" and my comp reminds me we havent even had lunch yet.
Saturday was more of swedens halloween/memorial day. All the busses were on Sunday schedules and all the stores were closed. We got a text from Sister Newell this morning saying to make plans to go to a local cemetery and look at all the candle lights that everyone puts on the graves of loved ones. So we did. It was super cool too. All these candles were lit up all over the place. Really really neat i thought.
Sunday was Marias birthday. She hasn't even really had a cake. So thats why we made her a cake. After church on sunday we grabbed all the ward members and sang happy birthday to her and we all ate some cake. She was so happy, as you can imagine. It made me feel really good inside to see that we made someone so happy. She was so happy she didn't say a word the enitre time. Haha. It felt good. We also went with Bishop to go see Markus at the psych ward. Since we dont know what to do with him, we took bishop. But Markus was asleep so we didn't get to meet with him. But we will this coming week probably. Tony also had us and he invited a friend for us to talk to for dinner. So we had this amazing vietmaeze dish that I just loved. I ate 3 gigantic bowls. They were staring at me weird. I dont know how i put that away either. Haha. So after we ate we talked a little bit to Tonys friend. She is die hard catholic and didn't want to talk about it. We did our best and got a fantastic dinner.
Jag önskar er en underbart vecka. Saknar er alla.
din favorit,
 Äldste Tanner

Monday, November 4, 2013

Elder Zach Taylor - A Scary Halloween

Elder Taylor
This week was.. a little bit of everything. We´ve been talking with an 18 year old named Leonardo. He´s addicted to 4 different drugs, his house is in really bad shape and his family has basically abandoned him to live alone. He kept telling us he´s ready to follow whatever it is we have to teach him. He came to  church on Sunday, but left after the first meeting because he thought we were making fun of God. All that really happened was the teacher was giving us a demonstration of how not to give a blessing and it was funny, so we laughed.. it was kind of weird. His sister was being taught by the other elders in our area, and she got baptized Saturday. She told us she´s going to help him help her brother. He really just needs a lot of help. We talked to Juan on Friday, and he told us he´s going to move this week... so we won´t be able to teach him anymore. It´s kind of a sad deal, but I suppose we can´t do anything now. Halloween for me was a bit more scary than expected as well.. we went to visit this girl that we had been teaching for a couple weeks. We taught her about the Sabbath day.. but soon after realized she´s only interested in.....well not in the gospel. One of her friends came and they started saying really awful things. I didn´t understand most of it.. but my companion told me afterward more clearly. Her mom in the middle of it said did you know that my daughter wants to marry a North American?.. It was then that we decided we should leave pretty quickly... on the way out, the girl spanked me.. I didn´t have any idea what to do but just start walking faster.. so that´s what we did! So I guess you could say my Halloween was more scary than any I´ve experienced before.. haha. But it makes for a good story. Well, that´s pretty much all for this week.. talk to you all later!
Elder Taylor

Itaipu Dam. This is on the Parana River, on the border between Brazil and Paraguay. It is largest operating hydroelectric dam in the world.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Elder Kaden Barlow - "There Are Dogs Everywhere!"

Elder Barlow and Elder Arias
Hola Family!
It has definitely been quite a week and a half! It’s been really hard this week, but I know that it will get better. Probably what I miss most about Utah is Mom’s cooking, and music.
Coming out into the campo has been crazy!! There are dogs everywhere, and it is so noisy. We left the CCM at 6:30 that morning and I rode with the president to the mission home. We had a big training on the money and health stuff in Spanish, which I don´t think was a smart idea because a lot of the people in our group really didn´t speak Spanish haha. Anyway then I got my new comp and we took a taxi to our home.  My zone/stake is Villa Mella and the area is Santa Cruz. I think we are in the North East part of Santo Domingo.
We live there just the two of us. It’s actually pretty nice compared to some, we even have a shower and if we want, hot water, but I just shower in the cold because it is better. Our bedroom has air-conditioning too! Very sweet, but we only have one light in the main room so at night I wear my headlamp around. It’s very useful and I’m glad that I brought it. There are no spiders in our apartment (that I have seen haha) and the mosquitoes aren’t that bad either.  In fact, I don’t even use a net [to sleep under], and I have only been bit once or twice. There are a few cockroaches... one crawled over me in bed the first morning here.  Our apartment is nicer than most... some people have bucket showers and our power is only out 2 or 3 times a day ;) haha There is a member that lives above us but she doesn’t cook for us. She does take us to church.
For dinner we either eat out or cook rice... I prefer eating out because my comp thinks that he can cook... and he can’t... so I think I shall cook from now on ;) On the bright side I haven’t been sick yet... knock on wood.
Now about my comp. He is from Costa Rica and this is his last 5 weeks so actually I will be having two trainers. He doesn´t work hard and isn’t very obedient. He thinks that he can speak English but really it isn´t that great... I can understand his Spanish way better than his English. Not my favorite guy but like you said mom sometimes we have to learn patience. On the bright side I get lots of personal study time while he is sleeping and I have been enjoying Jesus the Christ. I have really missed Elder Foote the past week because he is a great missionary. He got a great trainer too... lucky.
Both of us are new to the area so we have been contacting a lot which I don´t mind. I think it’s fun to go up [to the home] and yell Saludos or Buenas and start talking to them. As for my Spanish, people tell me that I sound really good, I even got one member surprised when I told her I had only been out 4 days :) I can understand the Costa Ricans and the Mexicans really well, it’s the Dominicans I have a problem with... they don´t speak Spanish I have decided.
We have one investigator with a baptismal date for the 11th of Nov. We just need to find her. The old Elders didn´t keep a very good area book with numbers or addresses, of course there really isn´t addresses, it’s just the shack around the corner with the metal roof. The members are great though.
I went to stake conference Saturday and Sunday and actually saw some people that I met in the CCM so that was cool to talk with them again. Also I went on intercambios with a guy named Elder Tirado. He is from somewhere in Mexico, Chihuahua or something like that. Anyway he speaks perfect English and is in the same situation as me where his comp doesn’t work hard so we got to vent to each other. He reminds me a lot of me, just Mexican and speaks Spanish. We even look a lot alike. We have become good friends. For intercambios you actually go overnight so it’s pretty cool.
I like the Dominican Republic though. It’s fun when you are traveling from area to area you can take the metro or a carro. You pay 20 pesos to get in this car that is in worse condition that Tanners old ford dinking thing and a little smaller and 7 or 8 people are in it.
Today we went to Parque del EsteIt was cool to see a lot of my friends from the CCM and play some football. It’s crazy there were probably 150 missionaries at this park. We went to Mega Central a mall near Parque del Este and I ate KFC today. It was awesome! And I listened to some Maroon 5 in the mall. It was like being in America haha. Kinda crazy.
Miss you all and love you,