Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Elder D MEETS MICHAEL MCLEAN!! -- 2 letters....

Hola mis amados padres y amigos!             19 Dec 2011

            This week has been pretty good.  I really cant complain about anything. My mission is still a great experience and it has helped me personally so much, but I have been able to help others as well.
            This week was just full of random things and events. I went on some exchanges with other missionaries this week, and I learned again how blessed I am to have Elder Castro as my companion. I went on exchanges with one elder who is from Nevada. He is a cowboy, he has some trouble speaking and writing.  He has a really good heart and wants to do all that he can to serve the Lord.  He is just kind of quiet, so I tried to get him to open up, but it didn't work that well. The best part about exchanges is that the craziest things happen. Almost every time we will go to a door that we haven't been able to get in for about a month or so, and we will go on exchanges and have the greatest lesson ever. For example, we to this lady who is extremely nice, but just never seems to have time for us. We knocked her door she let us in! She told us that she was about to get baptized, but wasn't able to because of a problem she has with her leg. We actually invited her to be baptized again and she accepted it! (Basically she has had a few surgeries on her ankle/leg and isn't allowed to get it wet. So that is just the main problem that is stopping her from getting baptized.)
            This week we have been inviting  a ton of people to be baptized. There has been some good responses, some bad ones, and no responses. We won't ever know if they will accept it or not unless we ask them, right?  Inviting, inviting, and inviting.
            There was a really awesome experience that I wanted to share with you all. We were teaching the Reynoso family. We have taught them about 4 or 5 times and we came back for our appointment and they didn't read the chapter that we had left them. We decided it was better for us to read it with them then to move on with the lessons. (Good choice on our part.) We read Alma 34 with them, which talks about the purpose of our earth life. As we were reading, you could just tell that they were soaking it all in. At the conclusion, we asked them what they thought of it. Angelica just kept saying, "precioso, precisoso." We asked her why she felt that way and she just said that she felt something inside her and how that she just knew that this book was something good and that it has something special for her and her family. It was a super amazing moment for us. We were able to testify and help her understand that she had felt the Spirit. It is a good start to everything. We are looking forward to meeting with them again and seeing how they progress.
            We had a pretty awesome Christmas Party with the Spanish branch here. Elder Castro helped narrate the program. We did have one person show up that we had invited.  He came to the Christmas Party and actually brought two of his sons. He had to go out of his comfort zone of his house and into unknown territory, but he did it and enjoyed it. The next step is getting him to come to church!
You Never Know WHO
You Will Meet at McDonalds!
            We had one more exchange this week. This one was with Elder Banta. As I said earlier, the craziest things seem to happen on exchanges. Number one, we went to eat at McDonald's. We figured that we needed to talk to everyone. There was a guy right behind us listening to some music. So we talked to him and he was very nice and we asked him what he was listening to, his reply is what shocked us. He said, "Myself. I just wrote a song and now I am checking it out. I am a singer, songwriter. You may have heard of me. I am Michael McLean." We just were like, "What?  Like "The Forgotten Carols" Michael McLean?" It was so strange to meet some famous brother in a McDonald's. He was on his way up to Richfield to do another show of "The Forgotten Carols". It was a pretty cool experience. SEE PICTURE  Note:  The Mom LOVES the Forgotten Carols and has been to a live performance with Michael McLean.  Wow!  I am so very jealous!  What an honor!
            Well number two is that I ate shrimp gumbo. It was pretty good. I had never thought that it would be that good, or something that I enjoyed, but it was good. At dinner there was the smartest 4 year old I have ever met. This kid probably knows more about the Book of Mormon then I do. He knows almost all the stories in there. You can basically ask him who anyone is and he will tell you their story and what they did. He knows that there are two Moroni's, two Alma's, and who the Brother of Jared is. I was completely blown away. That truly is the next generation of missionaries right there. They are being more and more prepared than ever before.
            NEWS FROM HOME: (This past week, Chad's Uncle Rick was found dead in his apartment in Portland.  Tonja's brother was a great companion to us all when we lived in Corvallis.  He was always great fun!) Well I am really sorry to hear about Uncle Rick. It is tough to hear, but I am glad that you told me. It is pretty tragic the way it happened. Please let Grandpa Swoboda to keep his head up and to not beat himself up. It isn't his fault, and he was able to help him a lot and be a good example. I still remember the trip that we took from Eugene up to Tacoma with him and Dad. That is something that I will never forget. Just Uncle Rick's comments about always having to stop so I could use the bathroom. It still makes me laugh to this day. J  
            I am glad that things seem to be working out for both of you, Mom and Pops. You both deserve it, and that is something that comes from keeping faith and doing what you should. Blessings come through those things. Keep plugging along and all will work out. Well Mom, I still haven't got my packages or my suits. They should come in this week.  I am grateful that you were able to put them together for me and are constantly thinking of me. We are blessed to have this season right now. Christmas is fast approaching and my prayer is that we all can remember the true reason for the season, which is our Savior, Jesus Christ. We know that because of His example and sacrifice for us, that we can live again. We celebrate that He was born and that He lived a perfect life. Let us all trying to press forward becoming more like Him each and everyday!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  Feliz Navidad a todos!

les amo!    ELDER D
LETTER TWO   Saludos a todos!             26 Dec 2011

This week was pretty good, even though we had to battle against everyone being out of town and all the holiday festivities. We have been blessed abundantly by the Lord with bunch of miracles and great moments.
          We have been trying out this new program called "Being Purified". It is all about becoming out best self and how we cant rid ourselves of all unworldliness. This program it gives us the promise that we will be able to have the Spirit with us constantly and to be more centered on our true purpose as a missionary. It has really been helping a lot. I feel that I have become bolder in my missionary efforts. For example, we had a lesson with one of our newer investigators and he just kept feeding us excuses. So we became super bold and told him that if he didn't want to change now, what makes him think he will ever be able to change. We talked with him that if he knew the commandments and believed in God, it means that he needs to follow completely or it would just be better for him to say that he doesn't really believe in anything. We had never really have never taught this man before and yet we were telling him his faults and he had a sincere desire to change afterwards.
          We had this investigator just go off and started saying how much the church was racist.  It really hit me hard. I felt so bad that she thought that way. I looked back in my own life and I was wondering if someone could think that about me. I have gained such a strong love for the Latino people that I could never say anything in a manner that could be considered racist. I may not be serving in South America or Mexico, but I still have gained a strong love for the people that I am serving. I know they truly are sons and daughters of our Father in Heaven and that they need this message just as much as anyone else. I have come to love their food, their language, their whole culture! I don't know how anyone could not love these people.
          I said last week on how exchanges bring about crazy experiences; well the case holds true this week as well. We went on exchanges with the Assistants and I had a pretty awesome experience. With one investigator, we were reading part of Mosiah 2, and he had his own epiphany. It talked about keeping the commandments and then we will prosper. He thought that is what makes the difference between temporal and true happiness. They both are amazing feelings, but only one brings true happiness. True happiness is only found when we follow the plan that our Heavenly Father has outlined for us. He has given us the promise that if we follow that plan and do all that we can, He will give us the greatest gift which he has; Eternal Life!. It was pretty cool to see an investigator have this change within himself, it helps me realize that I am doing what I need to and teaching with the Spirit that they can learn and grow for themselves.
          The biggest miracle of the week comes from an investigator named Pedro. He just wanted to listen to us, but never really had a desire to change. He then showed up at the Christmas party at the Spanish Branch. We stopped later to see him and we just had a short amount of time, but it was an amazing few moments. I asked him if he read the chapter that we had left him, he said that he did and that he understood it all. I then asked if he had prayed about what he had read. Once again he replied he had and that he had received an answer. So I then asked him what that answer was. He then quickly told me, "That it's true. What I read in the book is true." I was so shocked by his answer. We explained how if he knew the Book of Mormon is true, then he knows Joseph Smith is a prophet and that through him God restored His church to the earth. He said that he believed all of that as well. I was so overcome with joy and excitement that I almost jumped out of my chair. We then committed him to be baptized on the 28th of January and he accepted! It was such an amazing experience and it let me know, once again, that we really aren't alone in this work. This is the Lord's work and that we are only working in the vineyard for Him. I am grateful to be on the Lord's side.
          I am happy to say that this Christmas was truly a WHITE CHRISTMAS! It was not only white because of the patches of snow on the ground, but because we were able to have a baptism on Christmas Eve. It was for a Native American boy named Wakan. (Pronounced WAH-keen.)  It was an awesome experience not only to have a baptism at that time, but that I was the one to baptize him.  Christmas was a way different feeling this year. It was mostly because of the separation from all of the commercialism that accompanies the Christmas season. I could concentrate on the true reason for Christmas and that is our Savior Jesus Christ. I hope that all of you had a great Christmas season and you enjoyed it, because I know that I did. I wish you all the best and a Happy New Year!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!   feliz ano nuevo!   ELDER D

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy CHRISTmas to one and all!

Good Afternoon to all!     12 Dec 2011
"D" for Elder DAVIS
          My email is coming a little bit later then usual, but that is because we had to take a trip down to St. George. It was a good trip, we went to the temple and some stores down there that we don’t have here in Cedar. This week was pretty good. There is a lot of positive things happening and a lot of really good experiences. I think that every week has experiences and you are probably tired of me starting out my letters like that, but there are just experiences every week that just blow me away.
One big change was that it was super, super cold this week. It got down all the way to -6 one night. So we were having a big battle to layer ourselves up as much as possible. The cold has kind of gone away this weekend, but snow and cold are in the forecast for this upcoming week.
We went to St. George last Wednesday for our monthly zone leader meeting with President. It was really good. There is always so much to be learned from those meetings. The purpose is to try and discover ways to help the mission grow, but I always find that I learn more how to better myself then how to help the zone or the mission. It is just the ability to learn from meetings in all different types.
This week we have seen an increase in the spirituality of our lessons. We have been able to constantly feel that guidance and direction at all times through the day. The Spirit is such a vital part to missionary work, but without it, it doesn’t do much good. We had this really awesome lesson with Cris. It was probably one of the best lessons I have had on my mission. Cris has really been worried about how his wife will take him being baptized and all of that, so we started to teach his wife and do all that we needed to in that aspect. We had a super strong lesson on being an example and how that can help change the lives of others. We gave the story of Alma the older, who was the only one that actually listened to Abinadi's teachings and he eventually ran away and started to preach himself. He then had a son who also converted to the gospel (with a little extra help), and in turn Alma the younger had sons as well that were all in the gospel. The craziest part is that because of the choice of one man, thousands of people were converted to the gospel. The cool thing was that everyone in the room (Elder Castro, Brother Barnhart, and I) were all directly effected by someone converting to the gospel. In the case of Brother Barnhart, he was the one that converted himself. But in the case of Elder Castro and I, we are both sons of converts. It was just a really testimony of how much good can come from a change and the example given. We talked with Cris saying how he could be that example to his wife and family. He could be the "Alma" of his family. Another big thing we pointed out was that he could receive the Priesthood and eventually baptize his wife if she didn’t get baptized with him. So we are really excited, because he said that he was going to get baptized on either the 24th or the 31st.

That is One BIG TORTILLA! 
Another good lesson we had was with a guy named Jose Luis. We have never really had a sit down lesson with him. We just talk to him at the door, or when he invites us in there is always so much going on that it is hard to have a lesson. Last night we went by and there was no one there except for him and his kid.  The difference was that we were able to create an environment where the Spirit could come and bear witness. If we weren’t able to turn off the TV and have a nice quiet environment, it probably never would have happened. It is just so important that the Spirit is there to bear witness to the investigators, or nothing will happen.
We have seen a ton of good things come this week and that is because of the Lord. He is the greatest paymaster in the world! Our job is to just thrust in our sickle and do what we are supposed to and then the Lord will be there to bless us. I have learned that time and time again on my mission. When I am worried about what the outcome is or what good I am doing, I am usually tested or tried, but if I just forget myself and go to work, the Lord is there to pick me up when I can’t stand. He is there to bless us with a great lesson, a good contact, a solid new investigator, etc. Whatever it is, He is always there. It doesn’t matter what the situation is, the Lord just says to do our part and He will be there for us.
NEWS FROM HOME: Well Mom, I am very proud of you for your positivity at this time of the year. You have really grasped what the season is really about. It is about our Savior Jesus Christ and all that He has done for us. If we did not have Him, we would have nothing! He provided the way and He atoned for our sins that we may be made clean. So always remember that is the true reason for the season. It isn’t the presents or the commercial aspect of Christmas, but it is CHRIST. Christ the main part of the word CHRISTmas, so we always need to remember that.(The Mom told Chad that even though there wasn't going to be a lot of money available this Christmas, she was still looking forward to the season and focusing on what the Savior has done for us.)
(Because of donations from Tonja's family, Chad was sent money enough to buy a new suit for Christmas. Tonja sent them letters explaining that since Chad's dad was not working, we didn't have anything extra.  They family stepped up and provided enough for Chad to have a new suit for Christmas!) Know that I did buy my suits today. I don’t have them yet, because they are hemming the pants. But the guy cut me a deal, so I actually bought two for the price of one. So I hope that doesn’t upset you, but it was a deal that was too good to pass up. (I asked for a picture of Elder Chad in his new suit...) I will send pictures as soon as I get the suits!
Well I love you all and am grateful that you are part of my life! Have a great week and remember that Christ is the reason for the season!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!   de tu hijo amado!     ELDER D

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

December is upon us! Blessed Season!

Buenas tardes!     Dec 5 2011
How do you say BURRRRRR in Spanish?
This week was a good one as well. I am pretty sure that most of my emails start out like that, but it really is true. We did have some trials this week, but we learned and grew and worked through them. The weather basically changed over night. On Tuesday it was around 50 and sunny and nice. Then on Wednesday night, we started to get a really cold wind. We then came out of a lesson to see that it was snowing a little bit. Well that little bit of snow, then turned to a lot of snow. We woke up to about 8 inches of snow on the ground. It was a pretty interesting dealing with the drivers of Utah. You would think that they would learn to drive in the snow since they get it every year, but somehow they manage not to. The snow still kept falling off and on over the rest of the week. We still have about 10 inches of snow in most of the town, but the roads are pretty decent now.
We had a really awesome zone conference this week. It was with Elder Claudio Zivic of the Seventy. It was a pretty cool opportunity to have him and his wife come and visit our mission. He was a really good and powerful speaker, even though he had a language barrier. He is from Argentina, so he was always looking to his wife for certain words he didn’t know how to pronounce. We even got a nice little meeting with him afterwards. He is a really amazing person; he has a great sense of humor as well. We carried the Spirit with us for the rest of the night and hopefully we are still carrying it with us.
Most of last week and the first part of this week, we have been dealing with a lot of trials. We haven’t had the greatest success with people coming to church or even finding them home, but our luck turned around a little this week. We had some pretty awesome experiences. One was with this lady named Rita. We haven’t seen her for about 2 weeks, and we finally got a lesson with her. We just went into it and picked up where we left off, but she stopped us and asked us a question. She then started to talk about how she has had a lot of different religious missionaries come to her door in the last few weeks, and she wanted to know what was the difference and how she could know which one was true. So we just went right into the Restoration and bore powerful testimony to her about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. She just seemed to stare blankly, as she pondered what we said. She didn’t have to say anything for us to know that she was feeling the Spirit. We are looking forward to our return appointment, to see what happened from there. So stay tuned to see what happened with Rita.
Another pretty cool experience happened with Cris. The missionaries have been teaching Cris for quite a while. He has wanted to get baptized and he knows he should, but he wanted to wait a little not to cause family drama between him and his wife.  We actually invited his wife to join in on the lesson. (None of the other missionaries had ever thought to do that.) We started to teach Cris and Maria together, and this week we found out some concerns that Maria had, then out of nowhere Cris asks a question about modern prophets and authority. We started to answer his question, but before we really could, he answered it for himself. He bore testimony that this was the true church, because God himself had restored it to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith. That the Priesthood authority of God had been restored to him and that no other church could have that authority. It was such an amazing moment for us to see that Cris is truly converted to the gospel. Then about 3 days later, he did it again! He started to bear testimony again on how he knows that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. I am just hoping that he can continue to help his wife progress and that they can be baptized together.
Two cold elders looking for someone to teach! :)
With the snow this week we had to take to the streets and knock some doors. It wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be, but it does get pretty cold after you have been in it for a while. Mainly my feet get cold, but it was a good experience, it will be one that I will never forget. We did get a chance to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional yesterday. It is always good to be able to listen to the Prophet and to be able to get in the true spirit of Christmas.
NEWS FROM HOME: Well Mom, I am glad that your birthday worked out and that you were able to get some random gifts. (I went and saw Hugo with Marilyn! A tradition!)  (The Mom also met with the Bishop this week to update him on Emma's living situation and Dad's possible job!)   Well I am glad to hear that the Bishop is being supportive. I have never met the man, but he seems like a very wonderful man, and I will look forward to meeting him. It is good to hear that the missionaries came by for dinner as well. The new one is from Sandy. (Elder Boswell) That is right next to where Elder Castro (Chad's previous companion) is from, they may have even gone to the same high school. It is interesting that Southern Virginia University is still calling for me. (And offering $8,000 scholarship!) It does seem like they would help me out a lot, but it still is a long ways away. I don’t know how much I would like that aspect of it. I could even try to play for some sports team while I was there, but I still have a lot of time to think about that. I was looking into schools a little bit ago. I think I am going to try to apply to BYU-Provo again, and maybe Eastern Washington. If all else fails, I have already been accepted to BYU-Idaho so that will work out. But I still have until April to start thinking about that. Well I love you all! Thanks for the support!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!   les amo!    ELDER D

Monday, November 28, 2011

Grateful for Blessings

Buenas tardes!                  28 Nov 2011
We asked for some pics of Elder Davis
consider for our annual picture
Christmas Cards.  Nice!
It is that time of the week again; the time for the weekly epistle from Elder Davis in Utah! This week was filled with the ups and downs that accompany missionary work. We had good things, but we have also been battling a lot of difficulties.
This week I was able to see a lot of missionaries that I haven’t see for quite awhile because of transfers. I got to see Elder Leguizamon this week. I hadn’t seen him for about 5 months. The weird thing is that he is actually headed up to be a zone leader in Price. (Where Chad just left!) So that is a pretty cool thing. There are a lot of missionaries that are getting ready to go home. It is strange to think that all of the missionaries that were only out a few months longer then me are getting ready to head home. 
Elder Davis and Elder Castro
     We had some frustrating moments with some people this week. One lady we tracted into was really nice and we continued to teach and talk to her and then we discovered why she wasn’t being taught. She said that she could believe in a modern prophet, but couldn’t believe in the Book of Mormon. It is just way out of whack. If someone can believe that Joseph Smith is a prophet, they should believe that the Book of Mormon is true. Sometimes people are just so frustrating and you just don’t know how to help them understand everything completely. We also had one of our investigators tell us that she prayed and she believes everything is true, but she is worried that later in her life she would pray again and that God would give her a different answer. So that was a tough bridge to cross. She just seemed to give us excuses along those lines the whole time. We couldn’t help her understand that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever; and that He wouldn’t change His answer. But everyone has their ability to choose, which is extremely frustrating at times.
I had an experience this week that helped me realize how great this work really is, and how there will be opposition in all things. We were trying to contact a potential investigator that we haven’t seen for quite a while, and their neighbors were carrying in groceries. We offered to help them and they really didn’t let us help, but decided they would tell us how bad our religion was and all the faults that we have. It was a little difficult because we wanted to just tell her our side, but she was completely closed to everything we were trying to say. Eventually we came to the point where we just asked her to pray directly to God to know if what we are saying is true. After we left, I felt genuinely sorry for the lady we had just talked to and wanted to help her out so bad. As we were driving in the car, I just kept thinking on how much I need to help others understand the truth that we carry.
We then went to contact another potential investigator, and they actually let us in! It was the first time they let us in since we started trying a month and a half ago. We then proceeded to teach the first lesson to them. It went so amazing. They had such great questions and were really paying attention. We discussed how important it was to have a "restoration of all things". We even committed them to be baptized and they didn’t shoot it down, but said that they would continue to listen and learn. Later we had another lesson with them and they accepted to be baptized in January. It helped me realize how important this work is. We really are helping others come unto Christ; this gospel is helping others change for the better. The work is true and it will continue to move forward until it has reached every nation and tongue!
Thanksgiving was pretty interesting. We weren’t allowed to go door to door, so we only had one appointment during the day. Most of the day was just hanging out, trying not to be super bored. We had two dinners, one with an English family and one with a Hispanic family. We had a traditional dinner, and then we had tamales and arroz (rice) with the Hispanic family. We also made a trip to St. George for a Spanish DTM. It was nice to see all of the Spanish missionaries in the southern part of the mission. Most of them are now training new missionaries. Elder Castro and I were the only ones there that weren’t training a new missionary. We also had to speak in the Native American Branch this weekend. It was a big learning experience. We had to speak on gratitude and thanksgiving. I never knew that there were so many scriptures on giving thanks. It helped me realize how many things I have in my life to be thankful for.
NEWS FROM HOME:  I am glad to hear about good things from home. It was awesome to hear that the missionaries back there had a baptism in the ward! That is exciting! Baptisms always are special experiences. Mom, I am glad that you enjoyed the birthday present. It was something that I saw and I really liked and thought that you deserved something special for your birthday. Speaking of which, you are how old again?  (ha Ha HA, Chad!) Well I hope that your movie with Marilyn goes great. (Marilyn has been taking Tonja to movie on her birthday for the last 5 years or so!) 
Well I am loving my mission so much and am enjoying the time I have to help others. Hopefully you all had a great Thanksgiving and truly recognize how many things we have to be grateful for. I wish all you the best this week and during this time of the year!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!      de la vina del Senor!       ELDER D


Monday, November 21, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!!

Buenos dias mis queridos padres y amigos!                    21 Nov 2011

We had really awesome week! There are so many positive things that are happening here in our area, and we are super excited for the future here. We just keeping going out and working hard everyday and we have been seeing so many blessings from it. Just this past week we found two new investigators that are truly prepared to receive the Gospel. They are both 16 year old young women. One is Hispanic and one is Native. One of them attends seminary and reads from the Book of Mormon almost everyday. She just basically has never gotten baptized, even though she lives the life of a member already. She is preparing to get baptized on the 10th of December. The other one just moved up here to live with her dad. She lived most of her life in New Mexico with her mom, who is not a member. So her whole family here is members and she goes to church every week with them. So we always thought that she was a member already, but now we know that she isn't and she has a great desire to be baptized. She too is preparing to be baptized on the 10th of December. So there are some extremely positive things happening and we are happy to be here in this area.

This week has been a really big learning experience for me. I mean, everyday I am learning, but I learned a lot this last week.  I started to question how strong of a missionary I am, and why I was even a zone leader.  The next day as I was studying in the Book of Mormon, I came across a scripture in Moroni 8:16. It says, ".... Behold, I speak with boldness, having authority from God; I fear not what man can do; for perfect love casteth out all fear." This hit me so hard. I realized that I was really lacking boldness in my missionary work. I was letting things of the world get me down, and I wasn't presenting this message to the best of my abilities. Well I now have repented of that and am heading in the right direction. I am trying to emulate this everyday now. I am trying to be bold and go and do what the Lord has called me to do. I especially like the last part of the scripture, which talks about perfect love, or charity. I am really trying to develop that love. Charity is a struggle, but it is a commandment and something that is required for us to have to enter into God's kingdom.

This week has also been super eye opening to how well young men can be prepared to serve missions. I have seen this in young men as young as 12 and have seen it in young men that are 18 and leaving on their missions. Preparations starts long before the mission papers are started. This preparations starts long before these young men even receive the Priesthood. It starts when they are in the Primary. The song "I hope they call me on a mission" helps emphasize this. It comes through righteous living from the beginning. That is the true preparation. Righteous living from youth until death. I know now, that one does not need to graze in a different pastures, to know that the pasture that we have has the best grass we can obtain. I wish I would have discovered that in my youth, but I know it now and I am helping others come and be part of the Lord's flock. This is the greatest work I could be doing right now, and I am enjoying every moment that I have to do it.

This week was the end of the transfer, so that means changes too. But I am happy to say that nothing is happening or changing for me this transfer. Elder Castro and I are staying together in Cedar City. This is the first time in my whole mission that I have not had to change companions. I really love my companion and my area, and there is so much good to come in the next few months. So it will be a great next transfers. (I asked if the next transfer would be before or after Christmas and how hard it would be to be transferred a few days before Christmas.  Chad said the next transfer will be after the first of the year. So he will be in Cedar City for Christmas.)

Well Mom, you asked about a Spanish Thanksgiving. Basically it isn't really that different. I think maybe it is because we still live in the States, but they cook turkeys, but just cook it with chiles. It really is good, but it depends on the family too. Sometimes they cook different things, like goat. Oh, and goat really is good. So you should try it sometime Mom! (Not likely!!  - the Mom) 

Oh and sorry for not sending a picture. I will take one this week and send it home. My camera battery died, so there will be no pictures this week, next week I promise..Thanks for everything Mom, and everyone else. I am grateful for the chance to have all of your support! May God bless you this Thanksgiving season!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!

con muchismo amor,    ELDER D

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Let It Snow, Let It Snow, Let It Snow!

Hola mis amados padres y amigos!    14 November 2011

     Another week has come and gone. Time is such an interesting thing. When we look towards the future, everything seems so distant. When we look to the past, things seem like they were just here. But when we focus on the here and now, things are neither future nor past. This is the most important time to use, the present. If we constantly look towards the future, we will never get anything done. If we constantly review the past, our mind is focused on how things used to be. Being focused on the present is sometimes difficult to do, but it is far more valuable then the other two alternatives. Time will continue to pass by, but it is how well we use our time that matters. (Being a bit philosophical, our Chad is!)
I keep moving along here in Cedar City. It is a pretty awesome place. We have been really striving to do our best every day and some times we see it working and other times we feel that it isn’t. However, it is once again a trial of our faith. The weather is still bi-polar in Utah. You think that I would be used to it by now, but it still just amazes me. Tuesday of last week, after it snowed for 3 days straight, it was warm enough for me to wear short sleeves all day. We haven’t had any more snow since last Monday, but I am sure that will change here this week.
We are really trying to find the elect here. We have found a lot of new people to teach lately. We are now trying to discover which ones are ready for the message of the Restoration.
We had interviews with President Leonard this week. It was a long day of meetings for Elder Castro and I. We were required to be in meetings from 10 until about 4 in the afternoon. So it was just a long time to be sitting and focusing! The interview with President went really well. I continue to gain more and more respect for him each and every time I am around him. Don’t worry Mom, I won’t try and tell you that I am getting sent home like I did last year. (Right!  The MOM did NOT think that was FUNNY at all!!)
This week has been full of a lot of zone leader things. We have had some pretty crazy experiences we have had to take care of. One of them required us to leave our house at about 10 in the evening to go have an intervention with a missionary. He was just struggling with anxiety and was questioning a lot of the rules and why we have them. He isn’t one for organized sports, so he has a hard time letting all of his anxiety out that way. We were looking for an alternative to help him. It was some pretty intense stuff. We learned a lot about this missionary in just a short hour or so. We are still looking for a way to help him, so the battle goes on. We also had another incident where we went to another missionary's apartment and one of them had purchased a pool table. So that was a big thing to take care of. I just don’t know why someone would want to buy a pool table, or something like that on a mission; especially since we hardly stay in the same place for longer then 3 months. So it was a pretty interesting week as a zone leader.
Elder Castro, Brisin, Elder Davis
Moving on to a happy note, we had a BAPTISM!!! It was for a 10 year old boy named Brisin. Since my nephew has the same name (his is spelled Bryson), it was pretty interesting to be saying that name while we were teaching him. His family is so crazy, but it has been a really good experience for him and for his less active mother. His grandfather was the one that got to baptize him, so that was a pretty special experience. This kid has a bright future ahead of him. I am happy to know him and his family. I will be doing the confirmation for him next weekend. It was postponed this week because we had a regional Stake Conference.
The Regional Conference was pretty crazy. It took in over 80 stakes in the southern half of Utah. There were four General Leadership that spoke, one from the Primary Presidency, one from the Sunday School presidency, Elder Callister of the Seventy, and Elder Nelson of the Twelve. It was pretty cool. Most of it was about marriage and family. So there wasn’t too much I could apply to myself right now.
We met this crazy guy this week. He is from San Diego and was just flat out nuts! He had been in gangs and all that throughout his whole life. He has done hardcore time in prison for over half of his life and he is only 33! He is in a wheelchair because he got shot by the police. His life is just a crazy story! The craziest part was that he wouldn’t even let us teach him anything. He let us into his house and then he just started going off on us, especially me, about religion and the Bible and all of this ridiculous stuff. I think he kind of singled me out because I was white and everyone else in the room was Hispanic. But it was alright with me, I tried to teach him about the Book of Mormon, but he still wasn’t having it.
NEWS FROM HOME:  (We mentioned to Chad that a ward member and former Mission President and person Chad did his senior project in their lawyer office, President Barber knows Chad’s mission president.)  Well that is cool about President Barber and how he knows President Leonard. The world really is a small place. I am glad to hear that the missionaries came over and were able to give some perspective on things. I can agree with the missionaries in what they say. It really is a great challenge to try and think of things in that way, but when we try to love as God would love us, we are becoming like Him. Charity is a commandment. It is something that I am still not very good at, but we can only try our best to improve everyday. But Heavenly Father wants all of His children to come back to him, which is why He has restored His church again to the earth through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The evidence of this restoration is the Book of the Mormon. That is why we invite everyone to come and partake of the goodness that comes from the gospel of Jesus Christ. We don’t ask others to only believe our words, but to experiment and try it out for themselves. Through these things, can we return to our Heavenly Father!
I am grateful for your continuous love and support! At this time of the year, I am indeed grateful for everyone who is there supporting me! Thank you! Everyone!
Live it, Love it, Preach it!!  les agradezco con todo de mi corazon!

les amo!    ELDER D

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Happy November!

Hola mis queridos padres y amigos!!       7 Nov 2011 

     This week was a little bit different. It wasn’t the greatest week, but there was definitely a lot of good things that happened.  I think it may have been a little different because we had a slow start to our week because of Halloween. Since there are so many people dressed up in costumes and all of that, we were not permitted to leave our apartments. So we had a very long three hours of nothing just sitting at home in our apartment. Not a fun night. No mischief or anything!
Well the weather here has been pretty crazy. It has been back and forth with rain and snow the whole week. It will get cold and snow in the evening, and then the next day it will warm up and melt it all. But we had a big storm on Friday and it calmed down on Saturday, but it came back last night and hasn’t stopped snowing since. It is crazy because if it was snowing like this up in Washington, everyone would probably be hoping for a snow day. Here, everyone didn’t even blink an eye for that. There is still school and everything is still in full swing here in Cedar City.
This week I experienced my first Zone Leader Council, aka, ZLC. It was a different kind of meeting that is for sure. I saw a whole different side of the leadership and what was discussed. I still think that my love for President Leonard grows every time I am around him. It was a cool thing to escape the cold weather of Cedar and head down to sunny St. George for the day.
I have just a few little experiences to share with all of you this week. One is from our investigator named Cris. He has been learning about the Church for quite awhile now, but he hasn’t really been focused until now. Before, he was basically having the missionaries over to be nice. That has completely changed now. He came to church this last week and then from then on it has been a new attitude. We gave him a "Gospel Principles" manual at church and when we came back on Wednesday, he had been reading it and had a ton of questions. He is now learning at such an immense rate. I have never had some so intrigued to learn and to grow. We are now just trying to work out all the little details for his baptism.
I also went on exchanges with Elder Cancel this week. I stayed in my usual area, but Elder Cancel doesn’t speak Spanish, so I was basically by myself for the night. It wasn’t bad, but I just really had to rely on the Spirit and trust in the Spanish that I have and know. I feel that my Spanish really took a blow from when I was in Price and never used it. It is definitely starting to come back and that will continue to happen. I just want to keep it when I go home too. That is going to be the biggest struggle.
NEWS FROM HOME:  I am glad to hear that the bathroom is basically all put back together. It will be exciting to see that all changed. I guess that is just what happens when you leave for such a long time. I will come back to not even understanding how to get back to my own house because of all the road changes, I will not even know my own bathroom, and even my mom will be different. That is going to be interesting to see and experience. Mom, I am glad that you are feeling happier with the job and the health. Both seem very exciting for you and it makes me happy to know that you are happy!
Well I am pretty good on clothes and everything. I am going to buy some smaller gloves then the ones I have, and I don’t think I will need any more sweaters. For the most part, we just put on our jackets and use those. But I am glad to know that you are still concerned for my well being. Oh and that is crazy to think that Bro. DeMille just has family almost everywhere I serve. We will see if I will be able to meet any of his family. I am so grateful to all of your support!

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!   ELDER D

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Lessons Learned......the weather is getting COLDER!

Hola Padres!                  31 October 2011

         This letter is late in the afternoon because we took a little vacation this morning since it is a holiday. We went to a place called
Bryce Canyon. It was pretty awesome. It is something that you definitely have to experience for yourself. I hope that the pictures that I send will do it justice. I also sent some home from last week with the baptisms and all that. I hope you enjoy.
         This week has passed by pretty quickly. I can hardly believe that it is November already! The last few weeks I have learned a lot about being physically tired vs. being spiritually tired. I thought I really understood what being tired was before I left. I have had some extreme weeks of sports practices and have been pushed to my absolute ends, but being on a mission I have learned that those feelings barely compare to those of being spiritually tired. If you exert one or the other yes, you may feel tired. But when you exert both of those all day long for the whole week, you truly know what tired feels like. There is something about having the Spirit there and continually using that just drains your body.
         We had some pretty crazy weather again. We went to sleep on Tuesday with it raining pretty hard, then on Wednesday when we woke up to go run, we saw about 3 inches of snow on the ground. We prepared for the cold that day. We went to a meeting and when we came out, the snow was completely melted and it was just brutally cold with the wind blowing. I guess that is just something I will have to look forward to during the long winter here in Cedar City.
         Last week I mentioned a potential investigator named Carlos. Well this week he became an investigator. He actually read what we had left him and he had gained a ton of knowledge from it. We touched up on all the points of the Restoration again for him and it went really well. He seems to have a genuine interest on learning more. We have an appointment with him this evening to give him a "church tour" so he will feel more comfortable when he can come to church.
         I went on exchanges with the Assistants to the Mission President this week. I actually went back down to St. George and was with Elder Hultgren. It was pretty amazing. We had some really awesome lessons with people that I didn't know at all. I just went by what the Spirit directed me to say, and it went amazing. That is one thing that I have really grown a testimony of lately, that no matter where you go, the Spirit is still the same! After I got back from being on the Dixie Campus, Elder Castro and I had an awesome lesson with Cris. He has been having some struggles while his dad is in the hospital in Mexico. He originally thought his father was going to pass away, so we prepared a lesson about the Atonement to help him. We read an article called "The Atonement Heals All Pain" from April's General Conference. As much as this lesson was for Cris, it definitely helped me see a lot of things in my own life. In this talk, it says how the pains and struggles in our life do one of two things. One, help us come closer to our Heavenly father; or two, push away from Him, but it depends on what we do. I thought so much on how I felt when my father was in the hospital and how I felt when he had cancer. I can see now, that this struggle was a big learning step for me. I learned how fragile life really is and how I could not continue to take it for granted. It was pretty tough to pass through this just a few months prior to my mission, but now I look at it as a great tool. I can really talk to investigators and members who are passing through really tough times and talk about how I was able to learn and grow from my struggles.
         This weekend I also gave a talk in the Spanish branch. It was pretty short, because I was the last speaker and only had about 5 minutes. I didn't mind too much! (A good friend, Brad Romm, gave his "farewell" talk in church this last Sunday before leaving on his mission to the Philippines.) It is crazy that Brad gave his farewell and Jared (Scrimsher) gave his homecoming all in one meeting. It is crazy to think that Jared is already home. (He served a mission in East Los Angeles, Spanish Speaking.) It feels like he just left. It feels like I just left and now I have been out for 14 months! Time just continues to fly by! I really liked what Brad shared about how he had worked really hard to become a physical giant, but he would gladly give it up to become a spiritual giant. He has the attitude that will take him to the point to becoming that spiritual giant. That is the first step, to decide who and what you want to become, and then it can happen. It is so weird that Brad is headed out on his mission. It is a crazy thought to think that we are all old enough to be out on missions and serving the Lord. I echo what Brad said about RMs though. They are really those people that you want to be around them and the missionaries who are serving. That played a big part in why I chose to serve a mission. It was because I looked at them and saw how they were able to carry themselves in such a bold, strong, and dignified manner, that the choice was easy to make. I wanted to possess those characteristics so I knew that I had to make a change and serve my mission as well. I love every moment I have to be able to be part of the Lord's army.

Live it, Love it, Preach it!  les amo!    ELDER D

Monday, October 24, 2011

Best Week Ever ..... Again! :D

Hola Padres y Amigos!     24 October 2011

Well this week has been an incredible, awesome week! It was one of the best ones of my whole mission. Since there is so much to cover with such little time to do so, I am sorry if I do not hit on the points or the questions that you have sent. There is a lot I want to say, so hopefully I will be able to cover it all.
We have been extremely blessed over this last week with so much to do. We have had so many spiritual lessons with our investigators and have really been about the Lord's work with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. We have been planning a lot more efficiently for our investigators and it continues to pay off. I have been feeling the Spirit guide me more and more every day. We also had Zone Conference this week. It was a good experience, but it was pretty strange for me. On the way down there we drove right by Hurricane and then we had to drive through the St. George area I was in to get to where it was. It was weird to think that I was on the complete opposite corner of the mission two weeks ago and now I am back down in the south. 
One of the crazy experiences that I had this week - Well one comes by way of a potential investigator named Carlos. We went to knock on Carlos' door around . He kindly invited us in, which is quite unusual for us to just have someone ask us to come in. We  got to talking and he said that he has some friends that are members and so we asked him what he liked about the Church. His answer was completely shocking. He said, "the baptism". He led into exactly what we do as missionaries. We had a really good talk about baptism and we have a return appointment for this week on Wednesday. We are looking to extending the baptismal invitation to him. We also had another random experience in the city of Enoch. We were going out there to try and contact a potential Native American to teach, but when we knocked the door, some guy started to speak Spanish to us. It is a pretty big shock when you are expecting to hear English and then you get Spanish. We went in and we taught Miguel the whole Restoration. He really enjoyed the outcome and the message. He is extremely excited to hear more about what we have to offer. He took a copy of the Book of Mormon and promised us to read it for himself.
The next story is probably one of the craziest, but one of the greatest from the week. We had received a referral for a lady named Sophia about two weeks ago. She lives with her granddaughter and her granddaughter's husband in a neighborhood that you wouldn’t really expect to go to teach the Gospel. The house she lives in, is probably one of the biggest and nicest houses that I have seen on my mission. We came back this week and we finally had a lesson with her. A little background on Sophia is that she is 80 years old and says that she is looking for a change in her life and was wondering if we could help her find that. We taught the whole Restoration to her and right after we said the First Vision in Spanish, you could just see her physically relax/melt. Afterward, these are the words that she said, "Oh how beautiful that God and Jesus Christ would come and answer that boy's prayer. Also that God loves us so much that He put His Church back on the earth." I was just completely amazed when she said that. It was so shocking and not what I was expecting. At the end of the lesson we extended the baptismal invitation and she accepted a date to be baptized for the 19 of November! It is just another tender mercy of the Lord that has been put into our path. I am just continually grateful for all that He has given me, especially the help here on my mission.
We finished off this week with a baptismal service. In that baptismal service, we had three baptisms. It was just the topper to the week. The three people that got baptized were from the same family that the mom shared the testimony with us. It has been amazing to see these three men/young men embark on this journey to eternal life. I am grateful that I had the opportunity to teach them and to see them make this step.
I am just so grateful for everything that I was able to see this week. It is just a great experience to be on a mission. I just want to thank everyone that has helped me to get here to this point. There are so many people to thank, but to just throw out a few: my parents, my Church leaders/teachers, Bishop Lott, and my seminary teacher, Sister Lott. I am grateful for all of these people. If I didn’t have these people and all the rest of the people that helped shape my life, I know that I would not be here today or be the person that I am. Always remember that what you do everyday may have a major impact on someone else’s life.

Live it, Love it, Preach it!    les agradezco y les amo!     ELDER D