Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Elder Xavier Stilson - Faith

Good morning everybody. Well another 6 weeks have flown by and I am being transferred tomorrow! This transfer was really good and I am going to really miss the people in this area.
First off, this week we did NOT run into anymore problems with knifes!/;) haha Tuesday though it rained hard again which I was not really happy. My comp told me that usually Summer storms don’t last that long but with all of my experiences here in Cobilândia I really didn’t believe him so we left the house in flip flops. The water was to our ankles and about 15 mins later the rain stopped and we went the whole day in a white shirt tie black pants and... FLIP FLOPS! Haha oh great! But what can you do. That day we went and talked to Warlesson to make sure everything was good for his Baptism.... Well..... WE BAPTIZED HIM SATURDAY!!;) It was Awesome!
This week we really tried to find new people to teach but no one really seemed interested so we focused on the investigators we had and it was alright.
Now back to the baptism. We really wanted to make this special, he is the first person to be baptized in his family and we knew he had invited all of them to come. We were a little disappointed at the ward turn out. We were hoping to have more people come and support him in this. I really think it makes a difference when the ward steps in to help and support these newly baptized members.

We waited an hour hoping that more members would arrive but decided to begin with the 5 members who did come. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, get in contact with your ward missionaries and ask them when baptisms are and try your ABSOLUTE best to get to them! These recent converts need good friends! But with all that happened, He was finally baptized and the family was very happy. It went so well that they all want to start coming to our church! We couldn’t have asked for a better reaction.
This week I have been taking the challenge of Elder L. Tom Perry about really studying the Articles of Faith. One way I have been doing this is through James Talmages Articles of Faith. In one of the chapters about faith, Talmage talks about exactly what faith is. He says that there is a huge difference BELIEVING and having FAITH in something. If we believe in God we realize that he exists. That is the extent of belief, but faith in God is willing to do HIS will and to believe that he will do what is best for you. To believe that he will put things in your life that you need to know or that you need to learn. Faith is the ACT of believing! We can say that we believe in God and his prophets but if we do not act on what they have said we DO NOT have faith. One thing that the prophet said is that MEMBERS AND MISSIONARIES NEED TO WORK TOGETHER. Do you believe in his words and do nothing or have you given referrals, talked to the missionaries, ASKED THEM HOW YOU CAN HELP? I have FAITH in the lord, I have FAITH in the prophet and the 12 apostles that is why I am doing all I can to harken to their voices. My challenge this week for EVERYONE is to increase your FAITH. Just as I have had to try to but it is NECESSARY! I know that God lives and I am developing faith everyday as I can! I love you all and this is a challenge for you. Read the last conference and find ways we can ALL strengthen our faith in God! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!


Elder Stilson

Elder Zach Taylor - January 27, 2014

Elder Taylor
Hey, hey, hey!

Not really sure how to begin this so I´ll just jump right into it.

Here´s a random story that kind of turned out to be a blessing. At the beginning of last week sometime, we decided to go to the store to get some food. I walked over to the dairy product thing and took out some yogurt. The way they sell yogurt here is in a plastic bag, that´s kind of flimsy and can be easily broken... I was walking down one of the aisles with the yogurt in my hand and I don´t even know what  happened but it fell on the ground and broke and spilled everywhere... I just kind of stood there like oh man.. this stinks. But this really nice blonde lady (which is so weird to see.. blonde?!) came over and cleaned it up. And.. here comes the blessing part... they didn´t charge me for 2 when I bought another one! Kind of dumb but hey, I´m kind of scraping the bottom of the barrel to find good things in my days here.

Now when I say that I hope you don´t get the idea that I´m just over here wallowing in self-pity; I´m not. It´s just a time where you´ve got to be happy about every little thing that happens.

Like this last Tuesday, for example. Now this would have happened normally in Ciudad del Este, but we were walking down the road that day and (can you believe it?) this lady with a big family called out and said ¨hey, do you guys want to come over here?¨ Of course! we went over and talked for a few minutes, found out they were baptized before in an evangelist church, but now they don´t attend anywhere. They were really nice, and showed interest in going to church sunday. They didn´t come.. but hey, at least it made us happy the day we talked to them.

Another great thing was that on friday for lunch we ate....... nachos! yes, we really did find tortilla chips here. And we had some refried beans that we miraculously found in Encarnación the other week. It was nice to have such a delightsome lunch at the end of a hard week.

Speaking of food.. I found it funny that people here have no idea what nachos or quesadillas or tacos or burritos are. I had always thought if you speak spanish, you eat all that stuff. The things getting out of your country will teach ya, eh?

Something else that happened.. friday night there was a huge thunderstorm and our power went out just as we were going to bed. We were up till around 3 when the power came back for the lack of fans.. not too fun.  

We did have a semi-brilliant idea this week. We were thinking, since all the members that go to church live in another city called Trinidad, maybe we could go live over there for a week. There´s a less active member that has a house that´s not being used and he said we could possibly use it. We called up President LaPierre to see if it would be okay, and he told us we´d need to get a list of all the people we want to teach there, what we hope to accomplish, what the house needs, and then tell him to see if it´s okay. It almost sounds like more work than it´s worth, but it wouldn´t hurt to give it a try. I´ll let you know if we end up doing anything with that. 

We did have about 25 people that showed up to church, so that was another blessing. And this random family showed up that used to live here whose kids are all members, but the parents are unmarried and are not members. We´d love to work with them, but the only problem is that they live pretty far away.. they said they plan to move back in a month though, so if I´m still here, that could be a great opportunity.

But anyway, there´s my week in a nutshell. Trying to see the good in every day. Talk to you later!

Elder Taylor

Elder Almen Thorpe - January 26, 2014

Hey! I don't know about you but my favorite part of the weeks are starting to be Sundays, not just because Monday is around the corner and P-Day soon, but because I get to see every ward member, less active and none member at church. During sacrament meeting we all started to sing a song and wow, islanders can sing. I never noticed that until now...wish I could sing like them. Which brings up the fact that I have found myself singing a lot everyday, sometimes just walking or eating breakfast. I'm always singing. Be prepared cause my singing talents are getting up there or maybe people are just saying I have a good singing voice just to make me feel good....oh well, still going to sing! 
I'll tell you about my week, it started last Monday. After e-mails my companion and I decided to go and pick up a couple of couches from our investigators Danny and Bionca. So the story behind the couches is that my companion and I have been looking for some because our living room looked too boring. Luckily while visiting Danny and Bionca one day and having no clue how our conversation got on couches with them, Bionca just all of sudden asked us if we wanted their couches. My companions face and my face just started to lighten up! Short story we got the couches, but...news...my companion and I had to carry all three couches back to our flat and we lived a good 20 minutes away. Was it worth it? Yes! Was I tired? Pssh, no! Yes I was and I flopped on the couches as soon as we got to the flat. That was my story from last week, pretty entertaining I would say but that's not all. 
This week was slow at finding and seeing the less actives and the investigators. Every single one of them had an excuse of why they couldn't see us or are just too busy...Excuse, excuse, excuse. Still not stopping me from seeing them!! Anyways, this coming up Saturday we will be doing a service project with the ward for Danny and Bionca, cleaning their front and back yard of all the garbage they have. It'll will be a lot of fun and hopefully not too hot but this is something that my companion and I know will bring us even closer with them. Danny and Bionca are getting close to coming to church so having ward members will help them not to get too nervous about coming to church.
Transfers week is coming up and my companion and do not know if either of us will still be in the area to see Danny, Bionca and their daughter Jade get baptized. We both still have faith and pray that doing this service project will help them get closer to marriage and being sealed in the temple as a family.
We also have another couple investigators named Jay and Leione, who are in their 30's. They have four kids. They are beautiful little ones. We are working on them as well, Jay and Leione had past missionaries teach them but because of transfers they always get new missionaries and some are nice to them and some are not. Their story is that we taught Leione and she really wants to get baptized but the thing is she wants to do it with Jay so they can be sealed. They reason Leione is wanting to be baptized is because of her kids and she knows the church is true. Jay on the other hand is all about himself right now, he's really nice and funny and a super nice dad for the kids...but Jay is just all about himself right now and about playing pickup games of touch rugby. We are working on Jay to bring him back to that some routine that he used to have of going to church a lot with the past missionaries. Please pray for Jay and Leione that they will find the answer they need for their loving and caring family. I know what you are thinking...why are my companion and I getting unmarried couples?..well good question because I don't know either. The Lord knows though. 
Yesterday we had a zone fast...we were all fasting to find a family to teach and bring unto our Heavenly Father.  Going through out one day we were eating at a members house, half way through our dinner appointment it started to pour down hard rain! Like pouring down hard! Never seen it rain so much before and I thought Seattle was bad but I am so wrong. Anyways my companion and I went back to our flat to get our rain coats and off we went into the storm of storms. It was actually enjoyable! I love the rain..except that my socks got soaked and my pants but all in the good work. We stopped at another members house to dry off, we waited 20 minutes and it stopped raining but then it started again. While on our walk we had a promoting to stop and walk up this long drive way, we went up and knocked on a door. The first knock no one came but the second knock a lady then came. We found out that she is a less active member and has four girls but two who are not baptized. We have a next appointment with them this Wednesday! waaahhoooo!! Time to bring them back to church.
On our way down the driveway we passed another house that also had a really long driveway, we stopped at their house and knocked on that door. The family living their had seven kids...yeah a little too much...but five of them are not baptized. The dad is from Samoa and has been a member his whole life, the other side of his family started the church in Samoa so they are very popular in their village. We also have another returning appointment with them this coming week!!! wahoo!
My companion and I thought that we were done with miracles but we went up to this house and there were two dogs barking hard at us. I was scared to death thinking these two dogs were going to rip us into pieces, but I put that to the side and put my faith in Heavenly Father and I stuck my hand out for them to smell. My companion did the same thing and both the dogs settled down and walked towards us licking our hands and playing with us. Fewww!! My heart was calmed down. We knocked on the door and found out that it was a Samoan family with eleven kids!!! yeah...I thought the last family was too much, but was I wrong!! 
Three miracles in one day!! Especially on a Sunday!!! So happy that the fasting went great and prayers were answered. What a week I have had. My lesson of the week is the importance of putting your whole trust in the Lord and the importance of church. My companion told me that he has seen my testimony grow and I can see that myself. My mission life is just started and its already started to be way too much fun! I love going to church and love that feeling when we walk into the sacrament room. The feeling of peace and safety. This is the kind of feeling I know for a fact no one else can find other than in the church. The importance of coming to church is to learn from one another and grow. For example my companion and I taught sister Talas class and they are all high schoolers. They were goofing off and such but I felt the spirit and told them "You are representatives of Jesus Christ. When your friends and classmates ask you questions about Joseph Smith or Jesus Christ you won't be laughing. This is your opportunity in class to learn by doing these role plays to know what to say to your friends in church. Don't be shy or ashamed of being a part of this church. Stand up for what you believe. " I know what I said is true. We should not be ashamed of who we are, what we believe in and how we go about our ever day lives. Take the opportunity in church to listen, share and learn from others so you can grow.
I love you all and wish you will have a wonderful week!!! You are all in my prayers!! 

Love you all, Elder Thorpe 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Elder Brandon Wallis - January 21, 2013

Elder Wallis

Last week I transferred from Los Alamos to Albuquerque. Its much warmer here and there are a lot of dogs! Haha! The Indian reservations have dogs everywhere. We were just at a former investigators apartment yesterday and their pitbull jumped at me. It was more of a "back off this is my house" barking jump. None the less, it still scared me half to death! Why does everyone seem to have a pitbull here??? I've only met two that were actually nice! I was able to go out to the reservation branches on Sunday! My other two companions went to the Ladera Ward and the Sage Ward to confirm a guy a member. This area is awesome! We have everything from the suburbs to inner city ghetto to almost third world reservations. It keeps it pretty interesting! We have a few investigators that we are working with. We have 9 of them set on a date for Baptism! Elder Reali set 3 one night on a member split, I set 3 the next night on a member split out on the rez, and they already had 3 others on date! This is super, super cool! We're also working with some less active members and it's been really cool to see them get back into the Gospel! I'm meeting new people everyday, but I've noticed that I already love all of them. Our companionship is awesome. We all get along really well. We work out in the gym every morning and that just makes our days go even better. I love this new area! The Church is true! I know that I'm the happiest when I'm following the commandments and the principles of the Church. I want other people to be happy. That is why I do what I do everyday. I leave my Testimony of these things with you in the name of our older brother, our Savior, Jesus Christ, Amen!


Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Elder Zach Taylor - Week 3 of Obligado

Another week here in Obligado...
On Tuesday we had interviews with President LaPierre. I love having interviews with the mission president, I feel like I can just talk to him about anything. President told me in our interview that the place Im at right now is one of the hardest areas in the whole mission. He´s been considering just taking out the missionaries for a while, but decided to put me and my companion in kind of as a last hope effort. Apparently this area hasn´t been growing in a very long time. The area consists of a couple cities, Obligado and Trinidad. There used to be a branch in both cities, but a few years ago it seems like everyone in Trinidad decided to stop going to church, and they took out the branch and just combined it with the one in Obligado. Now when we go to Trinidad to talk with the less actives, they use the excuse that the church is too far away, so they can´t go. And everyone in Obligado has just gotten lazy. President LaPierre said he knows this place is suffering, and he´s probably just going to take out the missionaries for a while if it continues this way. I´ve definitely been feeling it these past couple weeks here. It´s a very difficult area where me and my companion just don´t feel wanted by anyone. We thought that maybe we should just go to last resort and run around clapping doors all day, but we didn´t enter into a single house. Sometimes I feel like darth vader, and everyone here are a bunch of Lukes. ¨Search your feelings, you know it to be true!¨ ¨NO, THAT´S IMPOSSIBLE!!¨ ... But I´m not about to give up. I realize that I wouldn´t be put here if it werent for something, even if it takes a long time to figure out what that purpose is. All I have to worry about is doing my best. What the people decide to do is out of my hands. 
I´m not going to lie, it´s been a relatively unsuccessful week. We had about the same church assistance as the first week. I´m just thankful for the 3 faithful families that continue to go, even though times are hard here. If it weren´t for them, the church wouldn´t even exist in this area. 
We did have one small success, though. We went on Saturday to go look for a familiy that before visited with the missionaries. We asked the neighbors if they know which house it was. They told us that they moved a few months ago, but they invited us in to listen. It wasn´t anything too special, but they did say we could come back. I´m just glad we´ve found someone to teach. 
This morning I was reading in 2 Nephi 4. Verses 15 - 35 are just amazing. I love the way Nephi declares his love for the lord and that he will always follow in his footsteps. It was a powerful passage that just hit me right to the very center. Something I noticed too, I´m pretty sure those verses inspired the words to the song Ï love the lord¨. It´s pretty similar.
Well, I´m glad I was able to email you today. It was kind of a pain finding a computer. There arent any public ones and the one in the church broke, so we had to go to a members house. I heard my family lent our computer to the missionaires over there, I know how thankful they must have been! 
I´m hoping for a better week this week, but I´m thankful for the tiny successes we´ve had so far. Talk to you all later! 
Elder Taylor

Monday, January 20, 2014

Elder Almen Thorpe - January 18, 2014

Hi Family! Miss you!
This week went by really fast! Wow, where did the time go!?! First it was one day, then one week, and now months, too fast, no good!..hah. I'm still loving it though, to the fullest! I'm healthy as never before but I think I might be allergic to some of the foods down here but I don't know which one, which is no help... all is well though, all is well, still keeping that smile on my face! Sounds like the family is keeping themselves busy for this new year. 
My week was crazy! (in a good way) The ward that I am in right now is just awesome! We had this whole week where my companion and I went out on splits with the members going to see less actives, none members, and families that are in need of help. We came up with a new system to get the ward involved more by having one whole week where we take the High Priests out with us, then the next week the Elders Quorum, then the next the Priest's, Deacons and so on. My companion and I have seen this being really effective because the members not only get to see what we do, but they also participate in the work. President Lekias, the mission president said that this is what we are going to focus on "the work of salvation" were members and missionaries work together.
Going on splits where my companion takes one or two members with him and I take about the same amount with me, has really taught me to be brave and shown me how it would feel like taking the lead. The members love going out with us and have shared their testimonies to the less actives or investigators. It has touched them, the things that just sharing your testimony can do. Working with the members like this really helps those who we are teaching get comfortable with coming to church on Sunday with us. For example, we used brother Latu, our ward mission leader to help Danny and Bionca, our investigators, feel more comfortable being with the members. 
Speaking of Danny and Bionca, my companion and I had a miracle happen to us this Sunday with both of them. About two days ago my companion and I were on splits and my companion took brother Latu with him to go see Danny and Bionca. They had dinner with them and later had a discussion, and Bionca said she and her daughter Jade would be baptized. This was on Thursday, (good news) bad news is we want Danny and Bionca and Jade to be together so Danny and Bionca would need to get married. I don't know much about marriage, but... I'm going to put my trust in the Lord to help us get these two married because he is the one that put them together for a reason.
My companion and I also invited them this Sunday to go to a fireside. They both said yes. Now to come and see this fireside is where all the missionaries bring an investigator with them to hear President Lekias talk and some new converts to the church speak as well. There's also singing and food afterwards. Well, this Sunday we went with Danny and Bionca to the fireside. I was praying really hard that the talks would be something that Danny and Bionca could both take home and use in their daily lives. The things that our Father in Heaven does, I prayed hard all day and my prayers were answered because the meeting was about families and how families are the key in this society today. My mouth dropped open when I heard President Lekias start talking about families. Talk about how the power of prayer really works!!! During the meeting I looked over to see what the expressions on Danny and Bioncas faces were. I could see Bionca crying a little and Danny was really into the talk.
YES YES YES YES!!! Prayer is the best!! This seriously is something we should never give up on and that is praying with real intent and asking for specific details to our Heavenly Father. He is there and waiting for us to ask for guidance. After the fireside we hung around their place and had some pizza. They both said "that talk was really useful and really uplifting". We had a good night and they both loved it. Bionca was telling us that when we told her we were going to a see a fireside she thought there was going to be a group of people gathered around a fire and singing, we all laughed and she was happy it wasn't like that. 
Miracles do happen! My personal lesson this week is that prayer is powerful!!! I never thought prayer was that big of a thing, but boy was I wrong. Like on a scale of one to ten and ten being absolutely right, I would be on a scale of negative one hundred....yes I know sad but..good news I have been praying every morning and night and even during the day! I'm always on my knees praying about the people down in New Zealand and the family back home. I know there are times where we are too tired or just getting back from work or too busy to pray but our Father in Heaven is honestly waiting for us to ask Him. He loves it when we pray to Him because its His way of hearing our voices and the way for Him to reach out to us is by giving us miracles. It's His way of telling us thank you my son or daughter for that sweet prayer you have said to me.
Mom and dad and family, please keep up with your prayers and invite others to pray as well. I have a testimony that prayers can be powerful as long as we set our minds to it, have faith in Him and keep Him updated on our day and how we are feeling. Include in your prayer the peoples names. My mission has really shown me that, I wish I would have taken it more seriously back then but now I know. I love you all and hope your week goes great!! Every single one of you is always in my prayer! Love you and miss you!

Elder Thorpe :)

Elder Kaden Barlow - "Holy Apostasy!!!"

Quote from Elder Barlow’s apartment wall:  “I want to live in such a way that every morning when I wake up Satan will see me and say, ‘Oh no, he is awake!’”
Hey everyone!
This week has been great here. New Year’s Eve we went out for pizza and then went home early. On New Year’s eve everyone is cooking pigs, like whole pigs on a stick like in the movies out on the street. . . kinda gross. It was completely insane--fireworks, people, gun shots, whatever. Didn't sleep at all. Everyone and their dog was out partying and getting drunk. It was crazy. And then on New Year’s everything was closed!!  Everything, even the colmados [small corner store] and the place we get water. . . I felt lost without my colmado haha. But at least no one threw more beer bottles at our door.
One of the days when everyone was drunk, we were out contacting and not having any success and we just sat down for a little. . . 5 minutes later a lady in one of the houses came out and asked if we wanted water. . . which is always exciting because the people that contact the missionaries are usually more prepared to hear our message. . . turns out she is Catholic and really just wants to serve everyone. . . but now we are teaching her and her grandson. . . Hopefully they will progress.
Oh I successfully cooked lunch all by myself for the first time. :) Rice, beans, meat and veggies. And it actually tasted good!!! This week we went to the zone leader’s house for lunch and I learned how to play dominoes [Dominican Dominoes]!! It’s super fun and you would think it doesn't take very much strategy but it does. My comp is really good and he is teaching me. The Dominicans are way into it.
We were teaching a less active that has been having the missionaries go to her house for 2 years. We haven't and that ticks her off, but she won’t progress. She has this huge grudge against this ward and it’s ridiculous. Anyway we were talking about the importance of the sacrament and how it’s super important to renew our covenants and she is like I don't need to go to church for that, I bless my own sacrament every week! . . . I almost burst out laughing, and well, I was too in shock. . . holy apostasy!!! Never thought I would ever hear something like that.
Yamile has been reading the Book of Mormon!! Yippee I didn't think she actually would, she has this thing about prophets she doesn´t believe in them and that is a big problem talking about either the Bible or Book of Mormon, but well I guess I won´t see how this turns out because I’m being transferred!
My new area will be Villa Carmen in a different zone.  I’m not training sadly. . . but I think my comp is a district leader there and I have heard that there are 6 missionaries in the ward. I have heard that my comp is from Utah and he has 8 months in the mission. Both his parents are from Mexico though and he already knew Spanish before coming, and apparently he likes to work a ton, le gusta trabajar pila as the Dominicans say. I’m excited to go tomorrow to my new area. I’m not really sure but I’m pretty sure it’s in the capitol still; I will have a lot more information next week.
I was doing service at the Patriarch’s house and we had dinner after and they served us iced tea. . . yeah I didn't know that until after.  It tasted good to me and I just thought it was some weird fruit juice. . . yeah I was kinda. . . well I didn't know what to think. . . The Patriarch is chevere [way awesome] but his wife is trying to set me up with her daughter who is serving in the Santiago mission.  She was in the CCM with me and she is a cool person but. . . yeah I’m going to marry an American thanks.
Elder Barlow

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Elder Christian Tanner - Where Are The Prepared?


Hey Family,

It has been a really great week. I will just dive right into it I guess. There were 4 experiences that I really want to share that I think you will like a lot. I most certainly feel strengthened spiritually and feel like a better missionary.

First, I know that last week I mentioned how confused I was. I still didn't know what I was doing in Trollhättan. Being Senior Companion really added a lot to that stress. Well, I, again, kneeled down in prayer. As I was doing my personal study, it hit me. "Visit all the members in the ward and teach them about Member Missionary Work." Instantly I started working on the lesson plans. Over the next hour and a half I read over the "finding people to teach" section in my Preach my Gospel (which I had already done 100 times. I don't know why I got it THIS time.) I decided that we wanted the members to commit to two things. 1. We would give them a pass along card. They would give this card to a friend, family member, or someone who they think needs it. and 2. to invited them to hold a personal or family fast and prayer that they can find someone to give this card to. After I decided this I said to Elder Hansen "Tell me yes or no...." Then explained what I wanted to do. He said yes. So we went right ahead and started calling all the members in the ward. Took about 4 hours, but we have appointments with them over the next few weeks. So this week is going to be really really busy with visiting with members. The finding wasn't happening by knocking doors or contacting (which by the way, my goal is 5 UNPLANNED contacts per day. Not the plans for the day of contacting/tracking) and I was getting frustrated. WHERE ARE THE PREPARED? I have come to the conclusion that this is the road we need to take over the next few weeks. Investigators will come. The Bishop is also going to ask the ward to hold a fast and prayer for the missionaries and for finding investigators this up-coming fast Sunday. For that very reason, we went to the BISHOP first. We also offered our help in anything. The members need to trust us, and the best way for us to build trust is to do service. When you have the Bishops trust, the rest will naturally follow. 

On Thursday, January 9, we went on splits with our Zone Leaders after district meeting. I went with Elder Mangum. The ZL's are in Borås, so I was excited to leave Trollhättan for a day. When we got to Borås, we spent a little while planning out what we were going to be doing that day. We had a total of 4 lessons planned - 2 with investigators, 1 with a member, and 1 with a less active. All of them fell through. I was really bummed, I wanted to teach a lesson with Mangum. We had a big list of "swing-by's" of former investigators and in-actives. So we started going by those. Everything just seemed to work out. As we were walking up to the door of one former investigator, he was just leaving his house to go to the gym. We had a discussion with him and he told us to come back (unfortunately, I wont be.). But he particular part of the story I want to share is what happened next. We drove over to our Less-active appointment and discovered that she had no intentions of meeting with us. The apartment complex had a port-code so there was no way we could have even gone and knocked on her door. We waited there for a few minutes to see if we could get a hold of her or if somebody would be leaving so we could get through. Nothing. So, we turned around about to head back to the car. Elder Mangum stops mid-tracks. He says to me "Elder Tanner, where do you feel inspired to go?" At first I was caught off guard. I don't know. I don't know anything about Borås. I stood there for a minute, and looked around at the apartment buildings around us. For some reason, my eyes kept going back to this particular window with the light on. So I started walking towards is. Elder Mangum said "okay. I'll just follow you."

I said "yeah, okay. But the place I am walking to is probably still port-coded so we wont get in."
"yeah, that's probably true." he said.

Well, we walk up to the third door of the apartment complex. Sure enough, it is port coded. But, as we walked up to the door, we could see which numbers were in the code because they had been worn down from being pressed too much. Not even 2 minutes later we were in the door, after having guessed the code. This particular door had only 6 (I think... maybe it was 8) apartments in it. We started at the top, and worked our way down knocking on every door. Out of 6 (or 8) doors, 3 people said we could come back and visit them again. The last door, one of the 3, had two kids that answered the door. One of them 17, one of them 14. We just started talking to them about a bunch of stuff. Where they come from, what they believe, and even things like soccer. We must have talked for about 20 minutes. The only this was, was that their parents were not home. Although these kids were totally interested what we had to say, their parents probably were not. The kids told us to come back in the next few days and meet their parents. A few days later, on saturday, I got a call from Elder Mangum.

"guess what" he says. "Those kids that we tracked into, we went back to them and met their parents and they want us to come back too." That is a family of 6 which means a possible 6 baptisms in the next month or so. Can you say "Totally awesome!" I know for a fact now that stopping just for a second to listen to a prompting can make the biggest difference. Mangum felt the prompting to as me, I felt the prompting to know where to go. By the end of the evening that night we had 11 new potential investigators. 6 of those potential I know for sure is now considered investigators. So awesome. We just saw so much success even though all our original plans went through. It was most definitely an incredible learning experience - and I gained an even bigger testimony... again. :) The apartment in Borås has a sauna, so Mangum and I relaxed in the sauna that night. It was the best ever. I felt so good spiritually and just relaxing in the sauna - awesome.
So another really good story that happened this week. As you probably know, Helen and Dag Stulen is the Bishop and his wife. They have a son, Martin, who is on a mission in the Phoenix, Arizona mission. They also have a daughter Sophia who is inactive. Her sambo is Daniel, he is a Norwegian and not a member. Daniel is taking the lessons from Martin through skype every sunday, however he isn't really interested. Also, a few months ago when Elder Faylor and Elder Peterson were here in Trollhättan, they left the bikes at the train station and just kept them there. So when we went to go get the bikes, they were destroyed beyond repair. We had permission to go and buy new bikes. But the bikes were in Uddevalla, a city about 25 minutes away from Trollhättan so taking a bus to get 2 new bikes (still in a box, by the way) by bus is quite a pain. I decided that we would call Daniel on Friday night and ask him if he could take us in his car to get the bikes. He said that he would. A few hour later he picked us up from our lesson and drove us out there. Right before he picked us up, however, Helena called us and said that she was giving Daniel money to take us to Burger King to get dinner, also.   We said thanks, but didn't think too much about it. We went and got the bikes. So now fast forward to Sunday night. After institute we asked if we could stay a few minutes behind and talk to Bishop and his wife about the Member and Missionary Work in the ward. After our lesson with them, we thanked them again for the Burger King on Friday night. Helena then started explaining:
On Friday when we called Daniel to ask if he could take us to go pick up the bikes, he had been in bed all day really depressed. (Both Daniel and Sophia have some health issues that cause this kind of stuff, but I wont get into that) He had forget to do something so that's why he was really depressed. Well, he and Sophia had gotten into a fight and Sophia called her mom to come get her to take her away for a while. So, according to Helena, the fact that we called him and asked him to take us to get the bikes was exactly what Daniel needed. He needed something to "break the ice" and to get out of bed. The reason that she gave us money for Burger King was because she was so grateful for us and because Daniel hadn't eaten all day. She explained how she was so grateful that we were so in tune to the spirit to just randomly call up Daniel like that. As she was describing this, I could see a small tear in her eye. For us, it was nothing. To her, it meant her family, but more importantly it meant her daughter. It was just a really really nice experience.
So for the final story. This was on Saturday night, the day after splits with the Zone Leaders. This lady in our ward had given us a referral...kind of. She gave us the address, but didn't know the name. Just that it started with an H. The address she gave us just so happened to be across the street from our own apartment. Number 40. We walked inside and found no name that started with an H. Which was strange because it was a BIG apartment complex. Probably at least 50 or 60 doors inside. My companion turned to walk outside but I said "nope. we are tracking this." With that many doors, it would take at LEAST 1 hour or more to tract. By the way, we live in Iraq. Muslims and middle-eastern people are around every corner and take up more than half the bus generally. He was kind of complaining that it was all Muslims and we wouldn't find anybody. I didn't say this, but I thought about it: So I guess our purpose as missionaries is to invite EVERYONE to the gospel, EXCEPT Muslims? No, of course its not. So I tracked the dang building by myself. I ended up giving away 2 Book of Mormons and 5 pass-along cards. (Before we left the apartment earlier that day I felt the prompting to take another Book of Mormon with me.) And even some of the Muslims that DID answer their door found it really neat that we leave our homes for two years and come to a foreign land at our age. So, it was totally worth it. I remember dad telling me a story one time of how sometimes looking for a referral is just a way for the Lord to get you to the prepared. Plus, after my experience with Elder Mangum, there was NO way I wasn't going to knock that. If you have time, and you don't find your referral, knock the doors surrounding it!!
We still have no investigators at this point. But now we have 2 potentials. I know that if I keep at it, keep being obedient and keep being faithful, they will come. They will come. This week was probably one of the best weeks so far of my mission. I learned so much. I love doing missionary work. I love the work. I love the Lord. I love this gospel.
Have a good week my friends.
Äldste Tanner

Elder Xavier Stilson - "It Was Something I Had Never Felt In My Life"

Elder Xavier Stilson
This week was really good! I need to  make a correction though. I told my mom last week that I had boils but I used  the wrong word, they were blisters. Mom, those little blisters on my arm have  cleared up. Now I am just working on the legs now ;)  This week was awesome! We met an Amazing  family. Their names are Washington, Valdirene, Mateus, Walesson, and Ryani.  They are really receptive and it has been great working with them. We have a  baptism with Walesson this week! It was very spiritual as we taught and worked  with him this week. We had invited him to come to church with us and so we walked  a half hour to meet him. He lives in Premeiro de Maio. My companion was a little  worried that he wouldn’t come with us but when we got to his house he was  waiting for us at the door!!! Right before sacrament meeting we got a call from  our Zone Leader and he challenged us to talk to each of our investigators who  were at church with us to pray during the passing of the sacrament and ask if  this church was true. We had 6 investigators at church and so we asked everyone  to do this... After the meeting I asked Walesson if he had done this and he  said, “yes, it was something I have never felt before in my life" after  that he said "I want to be baptized".  He is 14 years old and has a very strong  testimony of the gospel. I am so grateful that we were given the counsel for  this small invitation. The spirit during the sacrament was so strong. We asked  all of our other investigators and they all said the same thing that it was  something that they had NEVER felt before in their lives!! What an amazing  blessing to know that these people want this in their lives!

We also had the baptism of Thamiris,  it was awesome!! The spirit was so strong during the baptism and then I was  able to be in the circle when she received the Holy Ghost. She will be an amazing  missionary one day.  This week was just  full of these great experiences and I really felt the Spirit especially during  the end of the week. I love serving the Lord and I know that this church is  true. Those of you who have fallen away "Come, Join with US!" You had  a testimony at one point, it is still there! If you know of someone who has  fallen away share your testimony with them! Invite them to church and to pray  during the sacrament!!! You WILL feel something you have never felt before!  Also do this for YOURSELF so you can feel this amazing spirit and then share it  with others!! I love you all!!!


Elder  Stilson

Elder Almen Thorpe - January 12

Elder Thorpe working hard

Having fun with eyebrows sent to him by his sister Amy
Dear family! 

This week went by fast, unbelievable...things are moving too quick and so many things have happened this week. On Saturday and Sunday we had stake conference and it was amazing!! Our mission President gave a talk on Saturday and had all the missionaries stand in front of the stage looking forward towards the members attending the meeting. He had each of one of us tell our names and where we came from, then after that he had all of us sing "love on another" but in a different way. He had the congregation sing to the missionaries the first verse and then he had the choir and missionaries sing back to the congregation the second verse. It was amazing! The feeling in the room of all the members singing to the missionaries and the missionaries singing to the members was just...amazing! So many people began to cry and yes I did myself as well. President Lekias purpose of all of us singing together was to help each other and share where all the missionaries came from was to show the members to love one another and that we are here because we love them and want to help them out.
This is the time where members and missionaries work together, the Lord is moving his work forward and we all should starting working together as a big family. After that Saturday night meeting everybody left with a big smile and were so happy! Just seeing others, even members smiles makes my day and I love how everybody left with the importance of working together. In their mind is the key to bringing back our lost brothers and sisters. 
The next day was Sunday and all of the missionaries in the Manakau Zone sang to the congregation. No body knew we were going to sing because the member leading us kept it a secret from them, the meeting went great. Everybody talked about one thing and that was "hastening the Lords work". He is moving his work fast and we should all prepare ourselves and work hard to bringing as many of his children back to Him. At the end of everyone's talk the missionaries sang the last song,  it was the EFY melody. All of us missionaries could feel the spirit! The kids in the congregation, families, adults and some of the none members started to cry. We sang that song so that everyone could remember at the end of the meeting the moment the missionaries sang that one special song. It was great! That was my week and it was special.
This week was mostly about bringing members and missionaries to work together because without unity there can be no work to be done.  I have learned that with my companion, we may not agree all of the time on some things but we find a way in our hearts to forget the silly things and work together. It has really changed me and him as well because each day we learn from members and from each other. We are working our hardest to bring our investigator to baptism before the transfer week so we can see all of them progress before one of us gets transferred.
My testimony grows and grows and grows each week, loosing myself in the work and progressing to become like Christ everyday. Love is the key to being successful not only in missionary work but in life as well. We can all surprise that one person by simply showing our love for them. As members of the church that is what we do, we share our love with everyone.  We do this by doing the simplest things in life, giving a simple hi jester or a simply help can change someones attitude and thoughts about the members of The Church Of Jesus Christ Of Later Day Saints. Don't be shy about showing that love towards someone you don't know. I myself have worked my way out of my comfort zone by showing my love towards everyone I see and talk to. I hope everyone is doing well in the family and I think about you all everyday! Miss you tons and love you all! Hope your week goes great! 

Much love, Elder Thorpe 

Elder Zach Taylor - January 6 - 12

Much has improved this week!

First of all, funny story. My companion and I were standing out front of one of the members houses this past Monday night waiting for the member to come out so she could show us the house of one of the less actives in the branch. Just minding our own business.. when this rat comes flying out of a tree and smacks my companion in the shoulder. He freaked out a little bit.. it was a good time.

Also one thing I forgot to mention about my apartment. Since I'm living in a town that has a bunch of German people, who are generally taller, the shower head is high enough for me! Who´d have thought I'd find that in Paraguay?

I've also got to know some of the people here a lot better, which is making me feel more happy and optimistic. There's a family of less active members that we´ve been visiting called the Rolín family. The mom's name is Nancy, and she lives alone there with her 7 kids. I LOVE visiting them. They're so funny and just make me laugh every time I go over. And my companion is really good with kids, so they just love having us come over. Nancy is quite an amazing person. She has her huge family and works every day, including Sundays. If she goes to church she only has time for Sacrament meeting, which is at the very end. Usually when we go talk to a less active its because they don't understand why church is important. Nancy is different.. we went to go visit her yesterday and she came out of her house with her Book of Mormon. She had been reading one of the chapters in Alma and as soon as we sat down she just started talking about how true the Book of Mormon is. She told us of all the blessings she's recieved from Heavenly Father, and even told us ¨Could you imagine how blessed I'd be if I went to church??¨ It kind of surprised me. Then the question came to mind ¨Then why in the world dont you go!?¨ She actually did come this Sunday for Sacrament meeting. I'm hoping she continues in her faith and finds the means to attend all of church with all of her family.

I had been thinking a lot about their family. The little kids always get embarassed when their mom asks them to pray or read a verse in the scriptures. I had never really thought about it before, but I realized how important it is that we start those habits young. I felt thankful to my parents for always making the whole family wait for my little brothers to pray with our family every night, for making us go to church every week, for stressing the importance of those things. I've seen a lot of families with little kids that just don't want to pray or go to church, and the parents just let them. I've seen when they get older that since they don't have those habits, its even harder to do them when asked. And I've heard awful stories about people here that have just fell off the deep end in life because they weren't built on that foundation. A family based on gospel principles is the only way to be truly happy. I'm thankful to my parents for raising me the way they did, and I know I'm going to do the same thing when I have my own.

I also had a cool experience with another less active family. Their names are Miguel and Romilda. Miguel is kind of in a tough spot with work right now and has been worried about it. We went to their house on Wednesday just to talk about church assistance. They told us the usual thing, ¨If it doesn't rain¨ or ¨If God lets us, we´ll go¨ (which is completely ridiculous, why on earth wouldn't he let you go?!).. I'll tell ya these Paraguayans have some pretty lame excuses sometimes. But I opened up my Book of  Mormon and it fell open to a scripture I had marked. I felt prompted to have Miguel read it, so he did. I also had him read another right after when Christ tells us to not worry about how we´ll make it through tomorrow, just look for god first in your life and he´ll give you what you need. After having read, I could see a distinct change in his attitude about the church. It wasn't much, but at the end when I invited him again to go, he gave me a definite yes. And he went, along with his wife. It was a witness to me that the scriptures do have power to change people, and it is so important that we read them.

We had 36 people in attendance at church this week, compared to our 13 last week. I know we've been blessed for the small efforts we've been making.

All in all, this week was a good time for me to appreciate all that I had and have, and the ways the Lord has blessed me in my life. Being here has filled me with desires to live as close to God as possible, because I've witnessed the difference it makes in peoples lives. Hope you all have a good week! :)

Elder Taylor 

Monday, January 13, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - A Solid Week

Sister Wood and her companion designed these t-shirts for their district. She was pretty proud of how they turned out

Sister Wood playing basketball with her district. She gets frustrated because the Sisters can only guard sisters. She's toooo competitive. hahaha.

Hello all. :)
This week has been pretty solid. I have loved every second of it and am so grateful for all of the little miracles that Heavenly Father has put in our path. I started a Miracle Journal and I love updating it every night and reflecting on even the smallest little miracles that happened!
So the photo at the fabric shop. So hilarious. I couldn't believe it when I walked in. Well you know we are having one of the Less-active ladies we teach make us a couple of skirts, so we got to go pick out the fabric. It was so crazy inside of that store, as you can see. Haha it was so chaotic, and that is why I loved it so much. :) It will be exciting to see the product at the end of the week! If they are cute, AWESOME. If not, that's okay. It will be a fun thing to remember. :) 
 this is a fabric shop in the philippines. there is no organization whatsoever. no board for cutting, they just eye ball it. fabric on the floor you just walk on. this is their best seller fabric. dollar signs. the guy said they like to make sheets out of this on their bed so that people can feel like they are sleeping in money. i bought fabric for p55 a yard. a dollar and twenty cents hahaha. 
Oh my, I was so excited to tell you about the other day when we were sitting in the jeepney waiting to leave to La Paz. A lady climbs in and is wearing this familiar bright blue shirt thing. She sits down, and I get a better look. She is wearing a blue nike penny just like we wear at practice. Hahaha I just sat and laughed! She had this tiny little shirt under it and then just was wearing it as a fashionable shirt or something! I am telling you, everything gets dumped here in the Philippines!
Last monday on our way home we were riding in the tricycle and sister fuchs was on the back. I was inside the little metal box haha and for some reason the driver drove too close to the gutter. Well the gutters here are like canals. Not like the ones at home! Well, the tricey wheel went inside the canal, so we tilted sideways because the wheel wouldn't come out of course! so i was in the contraption sideways, and I went to climb out and the driver said no its okay i will get it out! So he starts reving the engine like he is going to be able to drive out of it!!! Yeah it was going nowhere. Haha everyone was driving passed laughing, and finally I just got out and he lifted it up out of the canal. Oh man. 
One of our lessons this week was hilarious. We were teaching the family in their family room, and just to the side of it, their dad was passed out drunk. On the floor. It was really strange and awkward, and then I just kept thinking to myself haha I would only experience this here! During the lesson he kept making the gargaling noises and at one point tried sitting himself up, and then he would just fall backward again. He tried a few times, but it wasn't happenin! It was funny to watch, but I feel really bad for his family. 
We got a new schedule for church for the new year! We have 8:00 church now! At home this is a big deal, but as a missionary you have to wake up at 6:30 am no matter what, so no big deal! We got to church at 8:00 and NO ONE WAS there. Okay, 2 people were there, but still. We knew this would happen! Haha after about 30 minutes people started rolling in slowly but surely. But also from ward 1. So we were confused because why were they coming too? Well for some reason they thought it would be a brilliant idea to have ward 2 start at 8:00 am and ward 1 at 8:30 am. Ward 1 has sacrament first, and we don't. But still. The timing of things here is always off so I am sure that we will have some issues with scheduling! haha. 
Our solid week contained 34 miles total of walking! YAY! Haha we walked a ton, but it is always more fun to walk a lot because then you get time to just sit and talk to your companion. We have been on the quest to flood the world with the Book of Mormon, just like everyone should be! This week I have really come to fully understand the power inside of that book. I know that just as Joseph Smith said, that it is the most correct book on earth. This week we met a lady named Sister Sebastian, and she was 85 years old. Her son was a preacher for some other church, but she let us share a message with her. We quickly found out that she could not speak any tagalog and only knew ilocano. And a tiny bit of english. Like a tiny bit. The lesson started and she just kept saying she didn't understand us. I was throwing out any and every bit of ilocano that I knew, but it just wasn't cutting it. Finally I just said get out the ilocano book of mormon, it is all she will understand. We read some of the paragraphs to her in ilocano and then told her that it is for her to read. She lit up and was so happy. She grabbed the book and held it to her chest and said "I love this book!" I don't even know if she knows it is true yet, but I know that the Book of Mormon speaks to people way better than we ever could.
Sister Sebastian
Next, Papa Erman Javier that we have been teaching forever. He is now on page 103 of the Book of Mormon. He loves reading it. He knows it is true. We had bishop give him a blessing the last time we were there teaching because he has bad health issues and can hardly walk, so he can't go to church. The Spirit was so strong. The room was filled. All of his kids could feel it. It was amazing. The book of mormon has changed their life and is the biggest instrument (along with the spirit), in their conversion. :) This week I met someone that I will never forget the rest of my life. Her name is Joylyn Antonio. She is 17 years old. We were up in her neck of the woods finding people to teaching because less active families live up there. We were on the road and a group of kids had been following us everywhere. We had stopped to decide what to do, and she came out of nowhere. This one kid I could tell had been teasing her cause she was trying to chase him. (I will send pics of her next week). I told her not to listen to whatever they were saying. Somehow she asked us if we were mormons. She told us that she had a Book of mormon! I asked her if she could show us and she leaded us to her house. Her mom and sister were there and she went and grabbed it. Her mom was so happy to see us and told us that SIster Joylyn was autistic. Of course that made me fall in even more love with her. She grabs her book of mormon, and we find out that the sister missionaries taught her back in 2011-2012. Taught her and her mother. They went to church every week! But for some reason, one day, the missionaries never went back to their house. At this point, Sister Joylyn couldn't get the smile off of her face. We got to know her a little bit and she showed us pictures of the missionaries and all of the things that they wrote to her. She never was baptized of course, and I asked her if she wanted to be baptized. She said yes! I don't know why the missionaries just never went back to this special daughter of our heavenly father, but i know that i was supposed to meet her. It kills me to know that there is a chance that I won't be able to be there to see her baptized. Her mother told us that in her free time when she has nothing to do, she just picks up the book of mormon and tries her best to read it! There is SO MUCH power in that book. I have a very strong testimony of it. I am not a book of mormon scholar,and I don't know it from front to back, but I know that it is true, and I know that I can feel the spirit when I read it. I have a goal of reading the standard works before I go home. So reading the bible, and the book of mormon and doctrine and covenants again, and the pearl of great price. I know that these are the words of god. We get closer to him by reading them. As we CPR every day/week, we won't fall away. We will continue on our path of enduring to the end. :) I am so grateful for God's plan for us, and his love he has for us. I am grateful that he has given us the scriptures as evidence of the gospel and his plan. My testimony is growing every day and I want you all to know that this church is so true! Even when two wards are scheduled to have church at the same time! Haha it is still true! God loves all of us. Ay-ayaten na tayo ni Apo Dios. Have an amazing week. :) 
Love, Sister Wood

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Elder Zach Taylor - New Area

This week.. Its been.. strange. As I said last week, I got moved to a new area. They sent out the email to all the zone leaders last Monday around 6 telling them I'd leave, and I had to be in the terminal by 10:30 that night. I'm now in an area in the more southern part of Paraguay called Obligado.. It's a weird little town. And its full of Germans. And everyones rich. And… we've been whitewashed. That's probably been the hardest part about this week. We arrived Tuesday morning and my companion and I had no idea what to do.. so we called the branch president. He told us to go to the church around 3 and someone named Hermano Foltz would show us around. So we did as the branch president said. We went there at 3 and waited around for this guy that was supposed to come. A couple cars pulled up and we thought it might be him.. but none of them were. My companion saw this Amish-looking guy walking down the street and said half as a joke ¨Hey I bet it's that guy..¨ turns out he was right. It was kind of funny, the one person that wasn't super rich in the town was the one that was actually a member. But I guess you could expect that.. haha. He showed us a few houses that the missionaries before were teaching. We went home that night not really knowing what to think. We barely could remember where we had just gone.. let's just say these past couple days have been a little disappointing, with not really knowing what to do. We did look in the area book, but the directions to the houses are no help because we don't know where anything is. I'm hoping we'll get to know the place a lot better this week and actually have people to teach.
I got a new companion too. His name is Elder Hemenway, and he's from California. He's 21 and is about to finish his mission in March.. so I could be his last companion. He's pretty funny and really nice.
Here they have these cool garbage cans that look like people holding a basket. They're pretty sweet.
We were hoping to meet a bunch of new members that we hadn't met yet on Sunday in church. We had already met the branch president and his family and another family that are super active. Oh I forgot to say, my area covers like 3 different cities, and both those families live in a city called Trinidad, which isn't even part of Obligado. My area is HUGE.. but anyway, we went to church at 8 when it starts, and we were the first ones there. A couple minutes later the branch president came with his family, and later the other family we met. And that was all. We had 13 people in the meeting, including us. The crazy thing is is that there are over 350 members in this area.. and 13 go to church. I'd say we've got some serious reactivating to do.. once we find their houses.
Our branch president is really nice, but I don't understand him hardly at all. He mumbles when he talks and his words are all mushed together. He's from Chile. Hes a nice guy though, when I can understand. 
There are a couple conveniences to being here.. one is that the supermarket is right across the street from where we live. And the apartment is bigger than my other one. Trying to find a place to email was hard though.. there was a cyber right down the street, but it closed. Know why? Because apparently the people in this town are all so rich that they all have their own computers and the people that run the cybers dont make any money. So as of the end of last year, they closed them down. We had to go to the church and use their computer today.. but writing is kind of a pain. The website keeps kicking me off.. 
Through all this I'm trying really hard to remain excited and happy about the work I'm doing. I did learn quite a bit of patience in CDE.. I guess this area is my test. We'll see how things go this week. Talk to you all later!
Elder Taylor 

Monday, January 6, 2014

Elder Almen Thorpe - January 5, 2014

Hey Family! 
Everything is going great! The days get hotter and hotter and the people keep coming and coming. Loving it! Transfers happened this week and only three of us stayed in the flat and we go three new Elders in the flat. One of them is companions with the zone leader under Dunica and the other two new Elders are Elder Wilson and Elder Tuna. Both of them, well all four of them are in the Samoan speaking language which is great because my companion and I get to learn some Samoan language everyday. We have six Elders in the flat and believe it or not we keep the flat spotless, cleaner than anything you have every seen, well maybe not that clean but clean enough that we keep the flat from smelling. We are all having a good time and starting our new year in the right direction which is up, many events have happened to my companion and I over the past week going into the new year.
First of all new years is a little different, how different, well I'd be more than happy to explain it to you! its different. My new year started off going to bed before midnight. Never happened to me before but it felt weird going to bed at ten at night even thought I do it everyday. But the good news is the ward families during new year do not feed you heaps and heaps of food YEAAAHHHH!!! Finally I'm one happy camper.
Anyways I had some miracles happen to me over the past week!! I don't know what it is but The Lord sure does now how to put people in our path. The couple that I told you about in the last email, their names are Danny and Bionca, well my companion and I had a feeling that we should go over and see if they were home. Danny was outside in his yard and Bionca was inside the house. We both talked to them and Danny was telling us that he needed help with a project that he was going to be doing, and that project involves us using nails and hammers. I'm glad I did a little bit of framing back home as a job and helping dad at home doing little projects because this can show Danny and Bionca that missionaries are normal people too. We told Danny we would have to get approval with our Zone leaders if we can help him out with the project and I have a feeling that it wouldn't be a problem.
As we were about to leave, Bionca just out of nowhere asked us if we wanted to come over for dinner the next day, my companion and I just looked at each other shocked because neither of us have ever had an investigator of ours invite us to dinner. We accepted the invention and the next day we went over the their place and ate dinner, it went great! We all visited after we were done eating and we taught Danny and Bionca the Plan of salvation because during dinner they were asking us question like where we came from and where would we go after life ended for us. The feeling we felt teaching them the plan of salvation was unbelievable. Afterwards we could tell that they both were. happy and understood what we just told them. We also said that getting married is the key point between them because right now they are not married and one of the laws is that we have to keep the law of chastity. Marriage is key to Heavenly Fathers plan because he blessed is with the gift of putting us together in families and that is how he wants it done the right way. Our message to both of them about marriage came across well and they have been talking about getting married a couple of times. 
We got done with dinner and asked Danny and Bionca if they could come and meet us at the church the next day for a chapel tour, all went well because the next day they showed up at the church. The Lord works in many ways and I have seen that while on my mission. We took both of them around the church showing them each of the classes and were their daughter Jade who is 13 would go to class. The final place we showed them was the sacrament room. WOW! Is all I can say because as soon as we moved into the room my companion and I could tell that we just ran into a big wall of the spirit! It was just incredible how we felt. Bionca told us as we walked in she said "There's something special about this room, I have a feeling that is just, I don't know, it is just peacful". Hearing those words come out her mouth was something we both knew at that moment she had felt the spirit because Danny felt the spirit too. 
I have so many miracles happen to me that I will never forget, The Lord does work in many ways as long as you keep that strong faith in him. I love what I, do saving souls weekly and being the mouth peace for the Lord.
Patience is the key to success in this life! We all may think he is not giving us the answers right away but then again he is. But we cannot go on l in life just thinking about ourselves and the answers we need, instead we need to start thinking, "How could I pray to help my brothers and sisters out there in the world that are lost? How can I help in his work? How can I be that mouth peace he needs me to be?" He is happy when we are not prideful and He is helpful when we don't think of ourselves. He will help but he can't help if we don't do our part and that even doing the little things in life like praying, paying tithing, or other things. We have to do our part in life, He's already done his part, now its up to us and I know that I haven't been the best at it but now I'm realizing it everyday.
We told Bionca and Danny that they have to do their part as well, we can only do so much but in order for them to know the truth for themselves they have to read the Book of Mormon. That book holds everything they need to know. If you want know how to get help, the answer is in the Book of Mormon. If you are lost, the answer is in the Book of Mormon. If  you want to change, the answer is in the Book of Mormon! Elder Holland once said "no man could write such things unless it was from God", something like that. 
At the end of the day Danny and Bionca felt happy and could not wait for our next visit, The Lord is working on them to come back into his family and kingdom. I want to share my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true, it is from God our Father and it is our key back to Him. He truly is there on our left and right shoulder everyday, he loves every single one of us and all he is asking is that we be obedient. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.    

Love you all from Elder Thorpe. 

Elder Kaden Barlow - January 2, 2014

Kaden with Elder Shimomato
recent baptisms

Christmas Eve dinner with the Mejias family
Tranquilo, tranquilo tu sabe.

Yes, this week has been really good. Sadly, not as productive as I would have liked. The work here is really slow actually during Christmas time. You would think it would be a lot better but because everyone and their dog is out drinking and doing bad things it’s kinda tough. But I have really enjoyed being able to work every day. I feel like a missionary so much more.

Lets see... We had a zone Christmas present exchange and I got a new tie! How original right? Also we went to a hospital here and sang carols to all the sick people. Remind me never to go to a hospital here for anything medical.... wow it was just... I don't even know.. I’m grateful for the health care in the states that’s for sure.

We went to a baptism Friday night of some of Elder Shimamoto's old investigators that moved to the sisters area and he got to baptize them so that was really cool. It’s always great to see people entering into the waters of baptism.  I’m just really hoping to do it in my own area now :)

Christmas Eve was insane... everyone drinking and going crazy. Apparently it’s even worse over the 31st... so I’m a little scared to see the Dominicans even crazier haha. At 5 o’clock in the morning some great lovely son or daughter of God threw a bottle of beer through the bars around our house and it hit our house/door and shattered everywhere. We both bolted out of bed and he asks me, “Is that our house?” and I’m like yep. And we both ran to the front to see what the heck was going on... kinda crazy.

Christmas was good because yeah we got to Skype and talk. It was really cool to see you guys and talk for real. It’s a great blessing that even though I’m like 4000 miles away we can talk and see each other like we were together. I admit I was definitely a little trunky afterwards but I’m almost back to normal. :)

Umm... As for investigators we are working with this girl named Yamile. We contacted her and when we asked if she wanted to go to church she was like umm... well... I don't know but then her Mom was like “YAMILE WILL YOU ACCOMPANY THESE NICE YOUNG MEN TO CHURCH OR NOT!”  Anyway now we are teaching them and I’m pretty excited. She came to church and really liked it and we are going to give her a Book of Mormon this week! :)

Also we were walking in the street this week and we heard someone call us and this lady came up to us introduced herself and said, “I’m less active but I’m ready to return to the church. Will you help me?” haha of course... she was at church on Sunday. The combined lesson actually happened to be on going after the lost sheep so really the Lord is working on the less actives and the members here right now. Besides the lady I just talked about we had one or two other less active families there and for the first time we had 6 investigators!!! Whoo! Now maybe our hard work is going to be paying off :)

Oh and as to Spanky´s appearance this week, [the lizard that lives with them] I was getting a sack from under the sink and he was on it. He jumped on to me and ran down my leg and that was pretty funny. I didn´t scream or anything... no really I didn´t. I did jump a little though.

Elder Kaden Barlow

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - Seeing The Stars In Our Lives

Christmas Day in the Philippines with the Javier Family

Sister Fuch's and Sister Wood

Christmas Day!!

Cow's usually pull these

I will just start out by saying that the elders told me the other day that an old lady that lives across from the basketball asked them a question. They were talking about how we all play basketball in the morning there and she noticed that there were girls there too. She asked them, "Is that tall one a tomboy?" Tomboy here means lesbian. She went on to say because only girls who are good at basketball are tomboys. So that was a big diss/compliment at the same time haha. Anyways, mornings are my favorite. Kind of a little getaway. We balled this morning too, and other Filipinos joined in too! My companion wasn't too happy that I made her wake up at 5:45 am on a P-Day, but I didn't feel too bad haha. Oh and in case you were wondering. Only girls can guard girls. So we guard each other every time haha.  
I feel like we have kind of hit a bump in the road with our area and the work. We have people coming to church, and people we teach, but no one really really committed to a certain date that they are working towards. The Javier Family is still ready, and they came to church, but we are waiting on her husband to be ready. Which I am happy that she wants to wait. They came to church together yesterday, and I hope they continue to have good experiences. The whole family is reading the Book Of Mormon and it makes me so happy. There truly is power in the Book of Mormon. It changes people's lives. No wonder why they are wanting us to flood the earth with the Book of Mormon. Haha so this week in La Paz we sat down to teach some ladies, there ends up being like 30-40 people that gather in to listen to our message. It went really well, but before we started, just for kicks and giggles, I told Sister Fuchs we were going to sing for them hahaha. Don't ask why I did this, because neither of us like singing. I just thought it would be hilarious. Because Filipinos like music. Haha we sang families can be together forever. Surprisingly it turned out pretty decent, and everyone was silent, so you could feel the Spirit. So just to everyone out there, even when you have a bad voice, the spirit can be felt through singing! haha. I am so grateful for our Heavenly Father because now when we teach, or when I specifically testify and bear my testimony, I can feel the Spirit. Even though it is in a different language. When I first got here it was really hard for me because when I bore my repetitious simple testimony in tagalog, i just didn't feel the same as when I did it in english. But it wasn't fair, because the people didn't understand it in english! As little time has gone by, I can feel the spirit as I bear testimony of our savior, and I know they can too. 

Christmas was absolutely fabulous here. Definitely the most different things in my whole life. But the simplicity of it was amazing. On Christmas Eve we visited all of the less active families. Of course for a bit I got distracted with some kids playing basketball, so I asked if we could join them. So yes, we played a game for about 20 minutes in our skirts haha. By far the most fun thing we did that day. All of the young little girls were sitting on the side watching, because here, girls don't play sports haha. Haha the other team didn't score a point. They were younger boys so literally half my size. No advantage there or anything haha! The next day when we walked passed the same court, there were girls out shooting the basketball. I mean I don't know if it was cause they saw us playing, but I hope they know girls can do anything boys can. :) Christmas was the best because it was a time where we got to know the people so much better and be one of them! We shared the same message with everyone we visited and I want to share a bit with you too! Stars, as I have talked about a lot, have become something big for sister fuchs and I! We love them so much. So we wanted to talk to the people about how the star was the sign of christ's birth. We talked about that and then told them about when we go out to La Paz, there are no lights out there. Wala ilau. So when you look up at the sky there are so many stars! So bright! Maraming maliwanag bituin! These represent all of the many blessings we have in our lives because of our savior jesus christ. As we walk closer and closer to centro, wala sa sky!! Why? Because there are so many other lights! Or, worldly lights. This could be things that are distracting us from being able to see the many things we have been given, but are focusing on the things that don't matter. But as we step outside of those lights, 'into the bukid,' we see all of the many stars and blessings that we have because of our loving father in heaven and savior jesus christ. I know that this is true. As I have been a missionary, I see all of the things that distracted me from the true blessings of the gospel. So many things that occupied my time that weren't important. I know that if we focus on things that truly matter, those stars will always be in our lives, even when the storms roll in. I am grateful to be a missionary. This work is hard. It was never meant to be easy, but I am thankful for who I am becoming. Thank you for all of your continued love and support!


Sister Courtnee Wood


Sister Wood's Zone

Missionaries in the Laoag Philippines Mission

Flower wreath - Sister Wood getting crafty

F. Family - Sister Wood gave all the boys ties for Christmas