Monday, July 28, 2014

Sister Courtnee Wood - We Love Recent Converts

I am writing this with a big smile on my face, because I am so grateful for all of things that Heavenly Father has blessed me with! So if I am writing this with a smile, you can all read it with a smile. :) 
My life in San Nicolas continues on! Our week comprised of mostly teaching recent converts haha. We taught 24 lessons of just recent converts, so that kind of gives you an idea. But we put a dent in their reteaching, so I am happy! So listen, last monday I had a dream that one of the recent converts was pregnant, and we went their the night after, and they told us that she is waiting to find out if she is pregnant! Way weird... but super sweet at the same time. I have actually enjoyed reteaching the recent converts, we gotta help them keep strengthening their testimony. There is one recent convert family that is preparing to be sealed in the temple in September! So cool to see.
Being a missionary is just really funny sometimes, and even though you are a missionary, there are times you just do stupid things on accident haha. We thought this man named Charito was a long less active member of the church, so we went and found him and told him we just want to teach you for 5 minutes if that is all you have. In the meantime he is going off about how the Catholic church is the true church and I just keep saying, "Brother what are you talking about? You are a member of the true church of Jesus Christ!" Basically just saying stop saying that you are already a member of the only true church haha. Come to find out after about 10 minutes of this talk that he has never even been baptized and had only come to our church once when he was taking his kids there. Hahaha oh my gosh I laughed forever and just kept saying sorry. That was my fault, and we need to ask more questions haha!  Then right after that we were walking down the road and we saw some people roasting a full dog. That was my first encounter of that haha. It looked like a dalmation,
We are teaching a really cute family. (the kids in the photo) They all came to church on Sunday. They are so cute. She washed my clothes for me this week. They have a baptism date for August 30th. We will keep visiting them and helping them prepare! 

So there is actually a 7-11 here. But it is not as good as at home. We do reporting every saturday and then walk to 7-11 afterwards since it is just down the street from the church. Convenient right? Haha also too convenient for the members to leave church and break the sabbath day on sundays! But i got a hot chocolate cause it has been way rainy. It almost tasted the same as at home. 
Also, I am reading the book Jesus the Christ. HOLY smokes, it is blowing my mind. In the best possible way. It is such a cool book. If you have not read it, buy it and read it. Most people say that it is so deep, but really I know that the Holy Ghost helps you to understand it because I have been reading it just like any ordinary book! I am learning so much. President Barrientos once said that there is no such thing as deep doctrine, it is just deep understanding. SO TRUE. I am really learning who Christ was, his personality, his miracles... and it is making me grow closer to him. EVERYONE, read it. 
I also found out that Sister Willson is coming to the US of A next year for conference. I AM SO EXCITED! It is going to be a blast. Seriously I will just say it again, that I have made the best friends here on my mission. I AM SO LUCKY! 
Well, I know I am sorry this isn't the longest e-mail I have every written, but I feel like that is about it for the week! Love you all. 
Sister Wood
Sister Wood's desk

Sister Wood's bed - Guess which one is hers:)

See that bucket in the corner? Yep, that where she showers!

Filipino Breakfast

Elder Stetson Wood - Exchanges


Elder Wood

This week we had exchanges on  with the zone leaders and i stayed up here in St. Paul. 
Elder Sorenson is who i was with and he is total stud of a missionary. We Tracted the whole time pretty much because we didnt have any appointments but we found 3 new potential Investigators in one night! It was great. We already taught one of them again about the restoration and things are going great with her:) 
Things are starting to pick up here in the St. Paul area! We have a lot of less actives in the area so that has been a big focus lately to meet with all of them and get things goin so that is what we have been doin a lot lately. 
This week the primary president asked if i would teach in sharing time about the Holy Ghost so this week I prepared for that and then Friday night our 2nd councelor in the branch presidency called and asked us if we would speak in sacrament meeting... So last second we had to throw stuff together and get talks ready for Sunday. I spoke on the role of members in missionary work and my companion spoke on the Plan of Salvation. Kinda random but it was good. Our branch takes about 15 min to get started and get through the sacrament. I wasnt even thinking about that! I spoke first and talked for like 15 min then i got done and we still had like 35 min! hahaha i sat down and my companion look at me and just said. " you suck so bad. " I looked at the clock and I almost lost it up on the stand. hahahaha:) by time he got done we had like 20 minutes till it ended so our branch president just got up and talked a little bit. It was good sacrament though. And the talk in sharing time went great! We had a big primaryon Sunday because of visitors (10 kids). 
That was my week in a nut shell... 
Have a great week,
Elder Wood

Studying hard

Elder Mitchell Oliphant - July 27, 2014

Okay so this is one experience. We were riding back from a recent converts apartment and as we were riding we heard someone say ''hey Elders!'' It was this homeless man that was behind a grocery store down where the trucks drop off produce. So we rode our bikes down and began talking with him. He told us that he could always tell that the LDS missionary's were coming cause of the warm feeling he would get. I told him that was the Holy Ghost, he said that he was a member of the church and he already new thats what it was. So we continued talking and found out that he would be getting a call the next day concerning some pretty serious medical issues, and that he wanted a blessing. So we went over to some stairs and gave him a blessing. Even with all the sounds of traffic and other things the spirit was there. After the blessing he wanted a Book of Mormon, and the address to the church. Unfortunately he doesn't live in our area. But i can see he has potential. Also ive noticed that i have got some very specific answers and blessings to my prayers and i have noticed how much the lord has changed me and how much more i need to be changed. Ive learned a lot of things out here. So there's that.. Could you guys tell the Hoopers thanks for the cards and Swedish fish for me and sorry for not emailing them. Ive been pretty busy, but i will email them. I dont mind long emails btw, they are kind of nice. Thanks for taking care of the music thing for me :] i appreciate it. I love you guys! 

Elder Brandon Wallis - July 23, 2014

Calf at Church


Hey family! There's tarantulas out here! Lots of snakes too. I killed one by our trailer. I'm working on getting a rabbit... and catching a lizard. Some of the lizards get up to a foot or longer! We also had a calf get into the church lot. It snuck around the cattle guard! So me and Elder Ah Loy went and cornered it and tackled it to the ground and walked it out of the lot. That was an adventure!
There's a Womanhood Ceremony this week, and the Navajo's are wanting the belegaana gamalii's (white Mormons) to slaughter the sheep for the event on Saturday!  Apparently its quite an honor to do it for a big event like this. They don't use guns to slaughter sheep out here though... They slit their throats and rip the head off... I'll admit I'm a little nervous.
Julia, Lyn, and Suzie Johnson were baptized and confirmed this last weekend! It's a really cool story of how we found this family. At the beginning of the transfer our Stake President called us and told us that we needed to have a goal of getting three baptisms this transfer. We thought it was a good goal, and started fasting and praying that we would find three people that were prepared to enter the waters of baptism this transfer. Later on we went teaching with a member of the branch and he brought us to this family's home. Just like everyone on the Rez, he was related to them somehow! We taught them the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and invited them to baptism. We set a goal with them for about 3 weeks out, and they kept all their commitments to make that date. This family was prepared and willing to make changes to allow God's influence into their lives. I'm so happy that I've been able to be a part of all of that! There is a brighter spirit about their home now. They are happier. Everyone wants to be happy in this life, and it's great to see people figure out that through Jesus Christ is how we can be the happiest. I know this Church is true. I know that in this Church, Jesus Christ's Church, we have the fullness of His Gospel restored again. This came about by people just like you and me that were willing to act on promptings and commandments of the Lord. People that asked questions and sought diligently for answers. I have had some incredible tender mercies as I have dedicated myself more and more fully to this Gospel. Faith is a verb. We act using our faith, to repent and make covenants with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ. We are blessed to have the immeasurable power of the Atonement at our disposal when we come short. Jesus Christ doesn't make up the difference. He makes ALL the difference. We don't push through life on our own until we're tired and worn down and then pass off our load to the Savior. He is there the entire time pulling with us. IF we are willing to humble ourselves and ACT on our faith and USE the Atonement. I'm now down to 6 months left on my mission. It's a real bummer! I feel like I have finally figured it out, and it's coming to a close. The people here on Alamo need this light in their life. I am called as a messenger to bring them that light and invite them to plug in their faith so it can illuminate their lives with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So this is what I will do. Until my Stake President takes my tag off I will serve as a called representative of our Savior. However, it doesn't stop there. Those of us who have taken upon ourselves the Covenant of Baptism have a solemn and sacred responsibility to take this light into the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters. Every member a missionary. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

I love you all! I hope you enjoy your week and have some opportunities to share this light with our brothers and sisters! If you aren't already, pray for missionary experiences, and your testimony will grow as you open your mouth and share this wonderful message.

Elder Wallis

Elder Kaden Barlow - July 22, 2014

Hey Family! How is everyone? 

Let’s see the big part about our week is we have no water!! It’s kinda ridiculous. What happened is the pump that pumps the water into the sistena, which is the big underground storage that then gets pumped to the tenacos(the buckets on the roofs that give us our water,) broke. So we just had the water left in our tenaco. Well they hired a truck to come fill the sistena, so after our tenaco ran out of water the first time it got filled again. But that was just a temp. fix and they are asking 800 pesos from every apt. to buy a new pump. But freaking first off that is a lot of money that they would be getting so everyone is protesting and no one knows when we will get water and it is just a joke. I spent a good 12 minutes talking on the phone with Elder Mortenson trying to figure out what to do and basically we are just on our own praying for water... the only thing they can do is if we don't get water at the end of the month they won't pay rent. So tonight I will be washing my clothes in a member’s house :) because also there is never light here until night time so you can never wash in the mornings. Oh boy... I miss nice cold showers where I could relax after a super hot day.... yeah never thought I would say that did ya? haha but tis true.

Last night I almost ended up in a Dominican hospital! I got super sick yesterday I had a fever of 104 and was throwing up all day and in lots of pain. We couldn't get a hold of anyone either for some reason. In the night time we finally got a hold of Doctor Walker and they were gonna come get me to take me to the clinic because they had no idea what was wrong. It could have been a relapse of Chikungunya, Dengue, Appendicitis, Kidney Stones, (this is what they were telling me). Luckily my fever dropped to 103 so they decided to let me rest the night and if I wasn't better in the morning they were going to come get me. Luckily when I woke up my fever was gone and I was able to drink without throwing anything up!! :) So I still don't feel my best but I’m alive :)

This week we did an intercambio and I went to Alimirante, which is the ward that shares the chapel with Villa Carmen, and I ran into a few people that I knew. I went with my District Leader, Elder Marroquin. He is super cool and we had some great lessons. It was nice to have a quick break from my area and from my comp. On the intercambio we were walking down the street and on the other side a power line blew up... kinda freaky. Everyone in the street starts screaming… Once we see that we are out of harm’s way, we pull out the phone and start recording it. It was crazy!

So we have this investigator named Samuel. He is super cool. He first got interested in the church through David Archuleta!! Crazy, right? He has tons of his music and sometimes when we get there it’s playing and it kinda makes me trunky! haha But he is evangelical but actually wants to learn. It’s super cool and he never contends with us so we will see what happens with him. I just thought it was awesome that he knew who David Archuleta was.

Let’s see what else, um... We have a baptism coming up the 2nd of August... of course nothing is ever for sure but so far so good. He is a 16 yr old named Pablito and is super awesome. Always studies and loves to learn and has tons of animo. Funny story, we were teaching him the word of wisdom last Saturday night, and he had two friends over that wanted to contend with us. Also Elder Cortes was a little mad with me because I didn't let him stay and play dominoes with some people because we had a cita and so he tried to contend with them, and I was just sitting there watching. When he finally didn't have anything to say I began to teaching trying to invite the spirit and the whole tone of the lesson changed and none of them argued with me and it turned into a really cool lesson. It just goes to show that contending never works!

Well that’s about it. Love you guys lots!!


Elder Zach Taylor - July 21, 2014

Some great news from this week.. Thursday I officially finished my 1st year as a missionary! Sometimes I can`t believe that much has gone by already.

But anyway, this week was pretty fun. We´ve been teaching this young couple for a few weeks, Ivan and Lilian. They`re really fun people, but they have almost no concept of how religion or how god has a place in their lives. We´ve been teaching them little by little, but it`s still kind of hard for them to believe even that heaven exists. Anyway, we went over to visit them on Tuesday night and found that Lillian was there alone and she was crying. She came out and told us that she had had a fight with her mom. Ivan was gone working for a couple days, so she felt really alone and sad because she had no one to talk to about it. When we showed up she was so happy because finally she had someone to talk to. Sometimes being a missionary just means being there for people. Experiences like that really help me to expand my love for others. It makes me feel like I`m doing things the Savior would do. 

Wednesday we had a district meeting.. and since the mission completed it`s first year this month, we got mission t shirts! They`re pretty cool looking. The computer I'm using is a little busted, so I´ll send pictures next week.

There`s this guy that lives on the first floor of our apartment that asked us for a Book of Mormon the other day. He said he`s a really curious person and wanted to know what that book was all about. I`ll let you know if anything becomes of this.

Church was great this week. I had been studying about the sacrament this week and decided I was going to try to make that a more special moment this week. It`s a whole different experience when you stay focused on the Savior while you take the bread and water. Also, when we were singing the opening hymn in sacrament meeting, the branch president stood up and stopped everyone because he didn`t think the congregation was singing well enough. Reminded me of a similar experience I had back home... ha ;) 

Well if you´ve made it this far, I thank you for reading the whole letter. haha See you next week!
Elder Taylor

Elder Almen Thorpe - My Week

Elder Thorpe

Family and friends!,

My companion and I have been working on our Christlike Attributes this week. On Tuesday we had an interview with our New Mission President, President Balli, he is from Colorado. Very inspiring mission president, from what I have heard from other elders and sisters after their interview is that they felt like they were themselves with President Balli and they could open up to him. I can tell by speaking to him that he is going to be a great mission president for the next three years! As I was thinking of him I was thinking of Spencer parents when they were mission presidents, (for those who do not know who Spencer is, he is my brother in law) and how they were inspired as well to help those missionaries back in Guatemala. 

Elder Matua and I have been working with part-member families. They are the best! Even though these families have different back grounds they still act like themselves. We have been building a friendship with these them to get close to their husband or wife that are not a member and the thing is that they want us over a lot that they even offer to have dinner with us. The amazing thing about this is these none members are seeing that we are not only missionaries but we are ourselves and that the gospel of Jesus Christ is all about having fun not having to stress out on anything. There is a scripture in 1 Samuel 16:7 in the bible that talks about how the Lord looks into the heart of his children and not on their outer appearance. When we showed this scriptures to those people I could see that their reaction to the scripture got them to ponder more.

The names of the part member families are the Fiatua family, The Masi family, the Simon/Bugby family, and the McCallister Family. The uniqueness of these family's are that three of these families (the Fiatua, Masi, and MacCllister family) have less active members that are their husband or wife. It is amazing to see that these members still have their testimony about the church and the gospel and its teachings. While building this friendship with them we are able to see that all they are searching for is a friend. The McCallister and Masi family, the two wife's are sisters and less active but one of the sisters husband is not a member but the sisters dad is not a member which is good because we will be working on both of the families. Falite and Niiki Masi, Falite is not a member but has his own barbershop that Elder Matua and I go to get our hair cuts at. (good thing we are missionaries because we get them for free, its the smiles that win over the people sometimes). Falite and Niiki have a son who has a disability and slow but really, really nice kid! He is our best friend and we look out for him.

The Fiatua family, the wife is a less active member but the )usband is not a member at all. Sister Fiatua has had some past problems with members but she is getting over that, Elder Matua and I have been just going over and sharing scriptures here and there to get them rolling. She is okay for us missionaries to come over but is starting from the last time I heard is warming up to members. They have about five to six kids and they all love to play video games. Good thing Elder Matua and I got over that stage of playing video games. They have expressed to Elder Matua and I that they enjoy our company and they like us to come over more often because she wants to treat us to dinner and cookies and crackers. 

The Simon/Bugby family is an interesting family (what I mean by interesting is that all the kids have TOO MUCH ENERGY!) Sister Simon is a member but her husband is not but both go by different last names, she hasn't changed her last name yet. Both are Maori and really funny, Donovann is a rugby player and has been showing me some of his Maori dance and stick games. Each of them both have four kids and all live under one roof, the house is crazy and I learned the hard way, note to myself not to give sugar to little kids especially late at night. Donovann came two weeks ago to church, without anyone inviting him, he came with his family. All the kids in the family every time like to jump on us and start wrestling us. It is a good things I learned some wrestling moves. Poor Elder Matua just couldn't get out of the attack. 

It has been a good week and a week of trying to find those lost sheep and bring them back into the fold. Elder Matua and I are trying to be like Ammon and bring back those less actives back to church. What I have learned is that these less active's are just looking for a friend to come back to church with. They have their own situation going on but it is that sometimes as members we get too caught up about ourselves that we sometimes miss the opportunity and forgetting that we are missing a member or one the sheep in the fold. All of these less actives all have something in common, they still have that strong testimony that the church is true, and what we do to help strengthen their testimony to coming back to church will reflect on how much we care for our brothers and sisters. Our job as members is not tell them they are not good enough to come back to church but to say "hey, we miss you, it is time to come back and we will be there every step of the way to help you come back to the family". I have felt what they have felt and I know that this mission is not all about baptism but it is to help all those are seeking help, if they be less actives, members, recent converts or someone just looking for help, that we will be their as representatives of Jesus Christ to help them and be guides for them. Missionaries or not missionaries we will always be there to help, that is what we do as Mormons or as Later-day Saints, we HELP. 

I have learned that people will accept you more when you are yourself and not trying being someone else. When I am myself I am more happy but when I try to join and be like my friends, I am not truly being myself and trying to fit in. As President Monson said "Dare to be a Mormon, dare to stand alone, dare to make it known."

Hope you all have a wonderful week! Help find those Lost Sheep!!
Elder Thorpe, Auckland New Zeland Mission 

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Elder Stetson Wood - 1st letter from the MTC

First Letter From The MTC - He Really Is A Missionary!

Elder Clinger and Elder Wood

The District

I cant believe that its already been a week! time really does fly here in the MTC. The first couple days here are kind of a blur now but I know they were great! The day after we got here our branch president assigned me and my companion Elder Clinger as new zone leaders. I felt way overwhelmed but it really isnt that bad. OH my companion is a great guy! hes from Southern California and way way smart about the gospel. We work great together and I really did luck out to get such a good companion. I'll tell more about him later. The food here is amazing and i can just tell that ive already gained tons of weight. haha When I got here my whole district was afraid of me and didnt dare to talk to me except for one kid named Elder Gardner from Pocatelo Idaho. He follows me every where I go because he found out I was playing college football. He reminds me from Kevin on the office. He looks just like him and believe it or not his name is Kevin! Hes way funny and we've gotten pretty tight because every gym time he comes and watches me work out in the weight room because my companion is a twig (as you can tell) and refuses to go in the weight room. Every single person in my zone looks and reminds me of somebody from the office I'm sure you can tell who reminds me of Dwight (Elder Wolvers from Alberta Canada) and then Toby(Elder Ebright). My zone is pretty funny and we all get along pretty good. Im glad I dont have to share a room with any of them but my companion though. Hunter Evans my best friends room is right down the hall so we talk every night which is pretty cool.
ummm theres not alot to talk about really, we have like 5 hours of personal study every morning before our class the second part of the day and then me and my companion have a bunch of leadership meeting after class so days here are way long but it goes by waaay fast! its weird. I feel like all I do is eat food. My Coaches would be so proud. On a spiritual note.. Me and my companion have to teach a P.I. and TRC investigator every day and its been so sweet! our P.I. investigator committed to babptism our first meeting with her. At first I felt so uncomfortable with that stuff but its amazing how fast you change. One thing ive learned is that you have to love the people you teach. Thats why its so important to treat your investigators here as if they are real. The second thing is that you dont have to know everything but as you teach simple truths and things that you know to be true the spirit will teach them everything they need. We had a devotional sunday night and the lady that wrote the song daughters of zion spoke and i dont think ive ever felt the spirit more strong then at that meeting. I've learned to love singing the hymns! MTC really does change you!! Before every meeting we start out with a hymn and they really do bring the spirit into the room. Having the spirit with you as you teach and learn is so important and that is why i think ive learned to love them. I even went and bought me my own little hymn book. Well anyways at that devotional we all stood and the Elders stood and sang Army of Helaman and the sisters sang Daughters in Zion. And holy crap you cant really even put it to words really. It was so powerful!! Last week and this week the new Mission presidents from around the world have been here being taught from all the apostles so half the place has been locked down but once in a while you'll see them and its pretty sick! The other day me and my companion walked past Elder Bednar and talked to him a little bit. Every Tuesday there is a devotional and we knew there was gona be an apostle speaking because of this training thing that was goin on. We showed up and there was six apostles there! Elder Christopherson spoke on charity and how every soul is great in the sight of god. Ive had some pretty cool experiences here. The second day while playing basketball my companion twisted his ankle and has been on crutches for a week! are you kidding!? He loves it because i have to carry his bags everywhere and get all his food... We get to take elevators everywhere though so i guess thats good.. Well I kinda flew through this email but i summed up the coolest things i think. I didn't even write this much in my three years of high school so my eyes and brain hurts really bad right now. This is my only p-day in the MTC so the next time you here from me i will be in Canada. I leave July 1st at like 2:30 in the morning.. kinda sucks. sorry if things arent spelled right or dont make sense i didnt proof read it...
Love you all. Church is true.
-Elder Wood
Elder Wood and his best friend Elder Evans

Elder Wood and Tuna....

Elder Wood (right tackle) and Elder Evans (QB1) Stetson has protected him since they were 9 :)
Elder Clinger on crutches

Sister Courtnee Wood - Get Ready, Get Set.....

This is probably one of my most favorite letters that Courtnee has written. You can feel the love she has for the people she is teaching. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did:
Sister Wood and Sister Ramos teaching their investigators

It's me again. I hope you all aren't going and forgetting about me. And I really hope you are reading this e-mail/letter because it is going to be a good one. 
Haha so to start off, I know I have said it a million times, but you can basically get anything here. I am not joking. Last week i went and had a stamp made with my name and address on it haha so that I could just stamp all my letters instead of write them. This old man carved it all by hand in like 3 hours. Haha I am crazy, but I love it so much! So here is the thing... if you want to see my stamp in action, you have to write me a letter. That's the catch. Along with the stamp, I got my dress... hope you can all see the photo of it. I am pretty excited about it. Let's hope I have occasions to wear it to....

 :)Yeah, so we had exchanges again this week. It was pretty good. We went and found all the rich people in their area and just basically knocked on their door. We ran into an Australian Filipino who was just here for a vacation staying at their house here. I quickly came to realize the culture differences that I will have to get used to again haha. I just started asked him all about his family in english, asking names, ages and stuff. Cause that is what we do to the filipinos here! Haha he quickly stopped me and said, what are you doing? Interviewing me? Just something I had to realize wasn't normal to do haha. Only here is that okay! We found them such good potential investigators.
I still don't like that apartment in Camalaniugan. You would think after being here for almost a year I would be used to everything, but the water to the shower with is the color of pond water and there was a frog in there with me when I was showering.... ugh I was in and out as soon as I could. 
We had a pretty cool experience this week that i want to share! I wrote it in my journal so i will just quote what I wrote. "We were walking in Centro 1 along the beach of the river when all of a sudden out of nowhere, what we though was a boy, was really a girl, and came up to us with her arm out to shake our hand. Of course we shook her hand and proceeded to ask her what her name is like we do with all the little kids. She didn't reply. We tried another question, and nothing. Not even an expression was made. Sister Ramos said, "I think she is deaf sister wood." A woman walking by saw us struggling to communicate with the little one. She confirmed to us that she was deaf. I immediately said we have to find this child's home. She obviously has a family. I grabbed her hand as we began walking towards Punta (the other sister's area). We were asking where she lived from the people around. With the help of all the people we found the little girl's home. No one was home, but her aunt informed us that the mom walked out on them when they were tiny, and the dad was a fisherman. Obviously this was a family that need the Gospel of Jesus Christ.Our conversation ended and little Cherrilyn was inside sticking her head out the window. We told them the other sister missionaries would return. They had never seen missionaries before. I waved to Cherrilyn goodbye and a bright smile lit her face as she waved back. I learned a valuable lesson from that girl today. From a child who cannot even communicate with the world. A child who never will be able to because sign language schools are far too expensive. Yet, she has the most important thing. A Spirit so sensitive to recognize 2 missionaries from the true chuch of Jesus Christ. she couldn't hear it, or read it, but she could feel it. I know that our spirits spoke to each other today. I don't know what will ever happen to her family reguarding the church, but i do know that because of this little one's sensitive spirit, she has now opened the doors for her family to hear about the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ." I am so grateful that Heavenly father allowed me to feel and experience this tender mercy. It showed me the power of our spirits." Anyways, it was a really cool experience, and the other sisters have gone back to teach them. 
Now, on the complete opposite spectrum of that, there are so many drunk people here. Ugh it drives me crazy. But at the same time, you can make them do things they otherwise wouldn't do if they were all there. Haha this man was just going off about how beautiful I was, and wanted to take a picture of me, and telling me he has never seen someone so beautiful. Then he was about to light a cigarette and start smoking and i told him not to, and to throw it in the water. Haha he immediately taken them and throws them in the water. I just turned to my companion and said, well that was easy! Someone who probably just wasted his only money on cigarettes, and then just throws them in the water. YAY. I laughed so hard.
So the next thing is that Noriel and Mayline got married this week! Such a big thing because now he for sure can be baptized on June 9th! They got married at the catholic church. But hey at least they are married! haha the night before their wedding we went and visited them and taught them. We too, an article from a conference talk on marriage and shared it with them. It was a pretty funny site. Two sisters who know nothing about marriage, but on top of that, probably the two biggest hopeless romantics in the mission! Haha we are so lame. That baptism is set in stone and we are super happy about it!
The biggest greatest news of the week will follow.... We taught 50 lessons again this week and holy smokes it opened the doors to so many amazing things! We had 34 new investigators and they are so receptive and good. I want to tell you about some of them real quick. We taught a whole barkada (group of friends) this week. The friends of Jeffrey the recent convert. They are the roughest looking boys. There are 8 of them. They live in a very rough place. None of them go to school. They catch fish and crabs all day. That is their job. So they are all super dark skinned and spend their open time fixing fish nets and stuff. They were the type that we wouldn't have even looked twice at to teach. Well, this week we taught them all with Jeffrey. They are the most kind and respectful boys ever! Teaching them is the best. You can see them in a lot of the pictures! All of them accepted baptismal date for august 2nd. We of course invited them all to go to church on sunday and they said they would all go. We said that we would go by their homes on sunday more to remind them again. Haha we go their on sunday, none of them are anywhere to be seen. We start asking around. They are playing basketball daw. We have the tricey driver take us to where they are. What do you know, they are all dripping sweat playing basketball. I walk off the tricey on to the court kind of like their mothers would do and say do you know what time it is? Haha they immediately start walking off the court because they know what they should be doing haha. They told us they would shower and then come. We went and picked up more people for church. We got to church and they weren't there, and sacrament was already starting. I had faith that they would come. at this point we had 10 investigators already there. about 20 minutes into sacrament meeting, a tricey pulls up stacked with boys. 8 boys on 1 tricycle! THEY CAME!!! Oh I was freaking out. They had all showered and put on their best they had. Which I am sure you can tell that black was a common color hahaha. We ended up with 17 investigators at church, and it was the greatest sunday of my mission so far. I can't wait to keep teaching those boys! I know that they can find their true purpose in life. Their lives will be forever changed!
The 8 boys that came to church

 So can you see what i am talking about when I say that the Lord is blessing this area? You know how I said that I will probably only be here for one transfer more? Well, I am just hoping and praying that I get to stay for one more because there is so much good happening and i do not want to miss it! I WANT TO STAY! We will see if President is cool with it.I think I could handle 7 1/2 months here! 
Alright, hope you enjoyed our week as much as a i did! 
Love, Sister Wood
Gospel essentials class

Elder Brandon Wallis - July 1, 2014

Hi All,

Brandon transferred to what may be his last area, the Alamo Navajo Indian Reservation (transfers have typically been 6-7 months).  Background on the reservation on Wikipedia:  A YouTube video I found that shows the landscape and talks a little about the reservation of around 2,000 people:

You'll be happy to hear that in my new area we go off roading every day! hahaha. I'm on the Alamo Navajo Reservation! The only full reservation in the mission! It's suuuper different out here. It's practically a different country. People live in trailers, and there's wild dogs, horses, cattle, and other animals just running around everywhere. Everyone here speaks English, but they also speak Navajo. Which makes it kinda hard for us. I'm trying to learn some, but it's a suuuper hard language! I feel like I'm choking on my tongue when I try and say a regular sentence. There's a free gym here! So that's super nice! We live in a trailer too, with a swamp cooler. It's not quite enough to keep us cool! Some good news though! We have 5 people on date for baptism! two of them are looking really solid, and there's another three in the family that we might be able to get too. Really exciting! That's all happened within this past week! This area hasn't had solid bap dates in a long time! We're working hard, and we're already seeing the fruits of our labor. We live right next to the Church building. There's a small branch here, and about 50 people attend every week. So there's hardly any member support with the missionary work. We're in what's called "phase 1"(Missionaries do all the work). Probably sounds familiar to Dad! So we don't get fed meals in this area. Maybe once a month. We hardly ever get members out teaching with us, BUT! It's all improving already. We were able to get 4 lessons this last week with a member.
I'll tell you a bit more about my companions, Elder Ah Loy has been in this area for about 7 months. This is also his first area. He's super tall, and is roughly half Polynesian. He says is 38.5%... He also makes the best spaghetti I've ever had in my life... I'll have to get the recipe from him. Elder Farb is 25% Japanese, and has been out 9 months. This is his second area. Before this he served in Taos, up by Los Alamos. I actually saw him come into the mission and get trained up there. We all get along great. We've been able to mold our teaching style's really well. All of us have been learning from each other.
Well, I love you all! Glad to hear that everything is still going well for you! Stay safe and healthy!
Elder Wallis (your belegaana son, that means white person hahaha)

Elder Zach Taylor - hernandarias week 2

Wellllll.... this week`s been good. It started to rain a lot and it got cold again. Remember how like a month ago it was really cold? Well that disappeared for a while.. but now it came back. So thank goodness we`re heading into winter.. again. 
I`ve been getting more used to the area this week. My companion and I are still getting along well. He`s a funny guy. His personality reminds me a lot of my cousin Jacob.. so it`s a lot of fun. 
I had to teach the youth sunday school class in church yesterday.. it was an interesting experience. I finally understand what all my poor teachers went through. Everytime I asked a question everyone would look at the ground, or say I don`t know, or wait for someone else to answer..or young men would say something really stupid thinking that it`s funny and all the young women give him that ¨look¨.. and you as the teacher sit there telling yourself over and over "It`s only an hour, it`s only an hour".. My respect goes out to all those sunday school teachers out there. We should have a sunday school teacher appreciation day.
I don`t think I mentioned this last week, but we have to wash our clothes by hand here. Sometimes in the morning or at night I`ll wash some of my clothes and then hang them out to dry. It`s an interesting experience.. but I think I^m getting the hang of it. It`s not as bad as I thought it would be. I actually kind of like it.. it gives me a sense of accomplishment.
We haven`t had any super cool experiences like we did last week.. the days have been pretty normal. We study in the morning, then we eat lunch, then we go out and knock doors or visit people we`ve already met.. I am growing a lot here though. Everyone`s really friendly and happy, they all help me a lot to develop my talents. 
Anyway, that`s about all for this week. Hasta luego!
Elder Taylor 

Elder Kaden Barlow - "Strong men are like kites, they raise up higher when the opposing wind is stronger."

Elder Barlow and Elder Cortez
Hey Family!! Que lo que hay?
I have finally recovered from the Chikungunya virus. My rash went away completely yesterday and everything is just peachy!
But first off, I just want to tell you guys how much I miss my old area! I miss my comp and the people so much. When I saw Elder Cardoso, Granados, and Jimenez at Parque del Este today, I about died! I miss living in that house it was so much fun. And I miss the members and investigators too!! This area is definitely more of a trial or test for me. There is so much work that has to be done and I seriously feel like I’m starting all over. But as the talk you sent me says, strong men are like kites, they raise up higher when the opposing wind is stronger.
Anyway attending church here was super weird—super small. They asked me to give a talk about 15 minutes before, so I did. It was my first talk in the mission and it actually was pretty good if I do say so myself. First time ever just winging it and pulled a 12 minute talk out of my sleeve. Also I got to bless the sacrament for the first time in the mission so that was really cool too.
This area is kinda dead right now though. In weekly planning going through the list of investigators... well, wait... there were only three. Not sure if that counts as a list. I began wondering what Elder Cortes and his old comp used to do... THREE INVESTIGATORS... sigh... Well, looks like we will be contacting a lot… hopefully we can find some people to teach here. The members here that actually are active seem pretty firm, and it will be cool, although different to serve in a branch. We went on splits yesterday and I went with the Elders Quorum president. I went to a reference with him and now we have two new investigators so I’m super excited for that... we will see what happens with them. Their names are Juan and Jenny, an old married couple. Hopefully they progress. 
Ok, day three with my comp and he locks us out of the house... I admit at this point I got a little frustrated... sick with Chikungunya, and he locks us out of the house. We call the Branch Pres. who shows up with a sledge hammer and crow bar and with one good hit takes the lock right off the bars... that’s when I decided it was time that we buy a better lock. One that will actually keep us safe...
As for my companion I get along pretty well with him. He likes to talk... a ton!! More than Mom, Grandma, or any other girl I know... I almost have to fight to say anything in a lesson... but now that I have complained, he is a great guy and seems to have lots of animo to work. We will see what happens this week.
I was at a church in an area bordering my new area and they had a piano like the ones they have in the churches back at home—the electric upright ones, and it had a pedal!!! How cool!!!!! I loved playing! It sounded awesome! It made me want to play on a baby grand... I miss pianos. One day....

Elder Almen Thorpe - Working Hard

Elder Thorpe Working Hard!!
Dear family and Friends! 

Finally got my bike fixed!!! Elder Matua and I are now doing some real missionary work. Walking takes too much time. Few, thank goodness for bikes! The weather was CRAZY! The winds were blowing hard. While it was raining and the sidewalks were covered with water so bd that we couldn't see them, plus there was thunder and lightning. Talk about a rough week to do some missionary work...too much fun!!! Good old rain! 

This week, my companion and I, while in the horrible, slash, amazing, slash, scream like a little girl storm were able to finally find one of our potential investigators at home! We had to bike up the great north road in the stormy weather (yes, we were singing hyms on the way up), no worries, we had our spiritual armor on that day. We showed up to Mefi, an investigators of ours that we found (which was a miracle). Mefi has some friends that he grew up with that had some Mormon buddy's go on missions. It took us until the next transfer to finally get in contact with Mefi.  We had a lesson with him outside in his garage while the storm was still going on. It was coming down hard, and we could all hear the thunder and lightning. We then decided to go inside the house because Mefi's father in law, who isn't a member, kicked us out of his garage to drink with his buddies. Mefi is really kean about looking into the church!! We showed him a scripture in Alma 32:21. When he read that he asked us, "How did you two know that is what i was thinking?" Alma chapter 32:21 talks about faith and how we don't need to have a perfect knowledge of things but to have that faith for things that aren't seen that are true. He couldn't stop thinking about how we found that scripture talking about everything he told us. About how he wanted to believe and also to stand up to his friends about God and the missionaries. Mefi has a partner and a daughter. They are not members but the daughter has been praying at night with Mefi. When we were ready and about to leave, Mefi told us that he would feel more comfortable about taking the lessons we share when he isn't in his parent in law's house because they don't like us. We told him that we would be more than happy to teach him at the chapel and he agreed. Again, he was still shocked about the scripture and couldn't stop talking about it (which is good). We told him that it wasn't us telling him, it was from the spirit. Everything we do is from the spirit.  He was happy and plus some of his friends are returned missionaries. We have a good hold of him to progressing, hopefully towards baptism with his family, if not my time while in Henderson then it will be the next elder. Either way, I will be happy if he decides to get baptized with his family. 

On Saturday aftertnoon Elder Matua and I had a prompting to go down an unknown street. We had no clue why we needed to ride our bikes down there but we decided to go down and find out. We then decided without any hesitation that we should both go to one of our less actives house that was near that neighborhood. We went up and knocked on the door. Charlie, the little boy opened the door and didn't say much but ran back inside to get his mom. Marlyn came out and greeted us at the door, we talked to her but she didn't say much, she just looked at her other son Josh, who is 24 years of age, just lying on the couch. I noticed that she was giving us a look like something wrong just happened. Marlyn left the room and went back to her own business, and we were left on the porch just poking our heads in the door. We started talking to Josh and at first he said, "Is there anyway I can get out of the church? Because I don't want to join anymore." Hearing those words shocked Elder Matua and I, we both just stood there in silence not knowing what to say, then Josh said, "Right now I don't want anything to do with the church because I want to just think about myself." Josh's background is that he lives in a house that is not very nice like other homes, he just lives with his mom and brother and has had some bad history with drugs, drinkings, and so on. He started talking to us and told us everything that was going on in his mind saying that at times he felt like he wanted to kill himself and just leave this whole world. Josh doesn't have a job, he doesn't know what his family is or who his dad really is. A 24 four year old man, who feels all alone and doesn't think he can be forgiven for anything he has done in the past and really was struggling in life. I looked at my companion  and saw him starting to tear up. The rain started coming down harder and we went right inside the house. Without an hesitation, Elder Matua asked Josh before we left if we could say a prayer with him. As soon as we said that prayer with him, we could see Josh starting to cry. His whole attitude changed, he had a smile on his face. We  gave him a hug and as we left we saw him giving his little brother a hug. 

People at times judged Josh as being someone who CAN'T be helped, but how wrong were they? All Josh needs is someone to listen to him about his problems in life, he needs a friend, someone who can listen to him and try feel what he feels. He needs a father figure and really needs some help. I can admit that when I first met Josh with my other companion, I was judging him wrongly! It was when he was smoking weed, but this time, this was a different, Josh I was seeing. Afterwards I felt so bad, so guilty for doing something like that, that I couldn't forgive myself. Elder Matua and I stopped at a corner and said a prayer, I could hear my companion crying, he could feel the same way Josh was feeling because he has felt like that in his life before. That day changed my view on people like Josh. I thought i had that Christlike love for everyone but that was a life check up on me. I need not to judge people for their experience but what is really inside of them. 

The next day Elder Matua and I fasted. Bishop, during the week, asked Elder Matua and I to sing, (for all those who know me, I do not sing very well). Well Sunday showed up and the time was at hand when Elder Matua and I were getting ready to sing. During the testimony of one of the members, my companion and I could seriously feel the spirit in the room. I have never felt the spirit so strong before in the sacrament meeting! This was the very first time in my life that I have felt the peaceful feeling so strong! it was a feeling that i wish I could explain to you all! When the member got done, we then got up to go sing "Love at home". Elder Matua and I had a different song picked out to sing but when we got to the church we had the impression to change the song on the spot. We only practiced going over the song once, my nerves were, you might say, CRAZY!!! I HAVE NEVER EVER sang in sacrament before. It was a good thing that the spirit was there to help us sing, because in the middle of our song, Elder Matua and I heard the congregation start singing the last versus with us! What a neat experience that was. Our bishop was also singing along with us and the other bishopric member too. Afterwards people said we were great! Which is a good sign, because now the members like us even more, (getting the trust of the members...check that off the to do list). 

Our week was a hard, fun, sad, and all thumps up and smiles week. Elder Matua and I have unity that is strong, we both agree that unity in a companionship is beyond important in missionary work, without it we would not have the spirit with us. We also have to be obedient with the mission rules but if we are exactly obedient then we will see miracles. I know this to be true. Ever since my brother in law's parents sent me the card saying "obedience brings blessings, exact obedience brings miracles"  when they were mission presidents in Guatemala, I have seen miracles happen when we are striving to be exactly obedient. Rules never were something easy for me to keep but since I have been out I have seen the the rules are what gives us happiness. 

There is a quote that i want to end with "Heavenly Father gives us commandments to give us freedom, Satan gives us freedom to rule us" That is so true, I know it to be true!!! I hope you all have a wonderful week! 
Elder Thorpe