Monday, August 21, 2017

Goodbye Philadelphia

I've starting writing this first like like a billion times because I hardly know what to say. Halfway through Saturday I looked at the date and realized it had been a whole 24 months since I left home. I can't explain how fast those months went, especially the past 6, but it looks like my days are few so hopefully you enjoy this last email as much as I'll enjoy never having to write one again!

This week was just as full as I thought it would be. A packed pday full of soccer and rugby, plus dinner with one of our favorite families in the ward.
Tuesday I led our Book of Mormon study in District Meeting. For the past transfer we've made the studies extra fun by turning them into games. This week we played trashketball which definitely was a blast AND the spirit was felt. Something I've loved about the mission is that you can enjoy it, have fun and still accomplish your purpose with the spirit guiding you. Afterwards the District had a funeral for me. We laughed as they read a eulogy a sister wrote for me and talks from the elders, followed by a roast session. We helped out at the Ronald McDonald house afterwards. I love walking into the building and seeing "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints" on their sponsor wall. How amazing is the humanitarian work our church does?
I had my departure interview with President Randall, such a bittersweet thing. We talked about the past, things like "what companion would you want to proselyte with for just one more day?" "who is someone you would love to teach one more time" then we talked about the future and I'm reassured that as long as I have the gospel in my life everything will work out according to God's plan.
We had our last lesson with Allen, Quince and Vennesa. Allen asked what advice I could give to someone who wants to serve a mission. I'm so proud of him for thinking about a mission at 14 and I rattled off a few things, but I ended up just telling him that it was the best thing I ever did for my life and it would be the best thing he'd ever do for his life too. They took us out to Chinese buffet where we pounded a ton of food before heading over to help a member move a piano into their new house.
On Friday I went to the temple with all the departing missionaries. As we all drove together we laughed about all of the crazy things that have happened in two years. The temple was great, it's been a focal point of my mission and it was amazing to be there once again. I just noticed a huge peace come over me. On the way home we stopped to get some water ice, something I'll miss way too much. The rest of the day was teaching and dinner at Antoinette's. Since her baptism she was called to work with the young women and went to camp with them. She had 3 less active girls in the church over for dinner with us and I was so impressed how well she's magnifying her calling, probably without even knowing it!
Sunday was too good. After working with Quince and Vennesa for 6 months I was able to confer upon them the Aaronic Priesthood! It was such a powerful experience and a reminder that missionaries don't have to baptize people to have an impact in their lives. After church a family that I've come close with had the baptism of their 8 year old daughter Alisha. Her dad Emmanuel asked if I could confirm her. Such a great last Sunday in P1!

The next few days are going to be awesome! We are going all out playing at the field today. Tomorrow all of us going home get to go hangout in Philly for half the day, then we head back to the Randall's for our departure dinner. Wednesday we will take the other elders and sisters home and I'll get to stay with the Assistants to pick up the new missionaries. On Thursday will probably be their golden training, which I'm excited to be apart of again! On Friday I'll get picked up by some former missionaries, Devin and Dusty, who are going with me to Trey and Kyra's wedding at the temple! It's gonna be amazing, I can't imagine a better way to finish my mission than to be in the temple with some of my close friends as one of them gets sealed to his wife for all eternity. Afterwards I'll be getting on a plane and heading back home to Utah.

Thank you for all the support you have given me over the past two years. It hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. I've come to love this gospel so much and I'm thankful for our Savior who paid the ultimate price for us. I'm thankful for my family, my companions, and all of my friends whether here or at home. I'm thankful for an amazing Mission President and his wife who care so much for us. These two years have changed me so much and I can't imagine where I'd be without it. This truly is the best two years for my life! I know the Book of Mormon is true and that we have a living prophet on the earth today. I love Philadelphia and the people here so much that it's going to be tough to leave, but I know that it's my time to go and I'm excited to see you all soon!

1) water ice with the departing kids
2) 128 oz slurpees!!!
3) Allen, Quince, Vennesa and Solange
4) the Pour family! The two girls on the left got baptized
5) best District ever

Missions are for the Boys

August 14, 2017

Last Monday was top notch! President & Sister Randall organized a zone
pday, so all the Elders and Sisters from Valley Forge met up in
Broomall for some pinball soccer and food! Of course the squad of
Elders stayed after for Volleyball before we headed out to Philly and
somehow ended up on the Rocky Steps at the museum! We gave a blessing
after pday was over and had a great lesson with Vafa on the
restoration. It was such a packed day, I loved it! Throughout the week
we got fed some super good dinners too haha I haven't eaten so good in

We got over to see the Sesay family this week! I love this family so
much, they got baptized right before I got here and we used to go
there all the time but they've been so busy. The boys Ishmeil and
Chernoh love to play basketball so we always promise to play with them
after the lesson. Their court is incredible! It's an uneven dirt patch
in their backyard with a basketball hoop tied onto a 2x4 shoved into
an old fisher price base. I'm pretty sure I sent a picture before, but
I'll probably send it again! The boys are 11 and 10, it's hilarious to
watch them play 1 on 1. I got to go again to work in P4 with Elders
Tawiah and Cole. We had an amazing lesson with a less active sister on
the sacrament. It was amazing because I'm pretty sure the elders plan
was to teach about prayer, but between the bills, the spirit and I we
ended up shifting it to the sacrament. By the end she was telling us
she wanted to pick up her recent convert neighbor to go to church this
Sunday and she actually did it! I don't think she's been to church in
a long time, I'm so thankful we followed the spirit on this one.
Saturday evening we got to go teach Esther, she shared how she was
praying to be able to get to our church when we first knocked on our
door! Her kids in Liberia went to youth conference this week and loved
it. It was kinda funny because during the week she texted me and said
"elder, the missionary took my kids for a 5day program and I don't
know where they are. I know they are safe but they don't have their
phone" hahaha luckily with some questions we found out it wasn't the
missionaries and it was just the branch. We also taught Vafa again
that night and shared "You Never Know" and guess what! She finally
came to church! They had to go right after sacrament but her 3 year
old Erin said "mommy I want to go to my class!" Vafa felt so bad she
had to leave hahaha.

If anyone has ever heard of the Phila 1st Ward before, you know it's
legendary. I could tell many stories, but this one might take the
cake. A brother stood up to give a talk today. He also happens to be
the chorister who continues to sing different songs after the hymn is
over... and at random times. When he stood up his comments immediately
made me get ready for the show. Chorister man decides to walk off the
podium and walk through the aisles speaking as Christ did, then asked
for us missionaries to stand. Us 5 stood, then he asked 7 more people
to stand. He said some stuff about how people need to repent and that
one day he would be gone and the people needed to listen to his 12
apostles. After preaching he just walked out the door. No joke, just
walked out the door! So we are all standing there like uhhh and a few
minutes later he walks in another door and says "y'all are still
standing?" goes back up on the stage and sits down. I seriously
thought he was going to elaborate on this extravagant performance, but
he didn't. That was it, that was his talk. Then another man gets up
and preaches for more than his allotted time about parenting and
somewhere in there talked about "this is my work and my glory to bring
to pass the immorality and eternal life of man". Nice! All in all it
worked out because we confirmed Dolly at the end of sacrament meeting
so it ended on a great note! I don't know how I'm going to be able to
go back to a Utah ward, I love this one too much. I love this mission
so much. I've already looked at the upcoming week and the days are
packed, I know it's going to go quicker than ever. I hope you all have
a wonderful week!
1) rocky steps
2) rocky!!
3) Greg!!
4) cracking open a cold one (dad's root beer) with the boys
5) "smile for our moms!"
6) the sesay family!
7) dinner at the Cullen's

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Poutine, The Temple, and an Amazing Week

August 7, 2017

I'm not kidding this was one of the most exciting weeks I've ever had!
A mission is pretty exciting in itself, but generally a switch up of
your day to day finding and teaching is even more exciting! After
district meeting on Tuesday we headed to Center City to enjoy some
Panda Express before going to the temple to do service. Alright, has
anyone ever thought about the top of the temple before? Like what the
roof looks like? Because I never have. We somehow got the opportunity
to head up there and clean it!!! We also got to go into the spires on
the temple. It's not as luxurious in the spires, it's actually quite
dirty and a few long climbs on a ladder, but the view was amazing!
When we got to the top the other missionary showed me a little door
that you can open to go out on the balcony of the spire... I never
even imagined you could do that! Anyways the Philadelphia Temple's
roof is now clean because of a few missionaries dressed in white

That night I went with the elders in P4, Elders Yirena-Tawiah and
Cole. Since they only have two beds in the apartment the mission
supplied me with a pretty sweet inflatable mattress, still didn't
sleep too well but nonetheless it looks extremely comfy. Our day on
Wednesday was too fun. We took a long bus ride to a senior tower for a
few lessons. The Bills joined us when we taught a super nice less
active lady. There was some time between our next appointment across
the hall so the elders proposed we get lunch with the Bills. When the
question was asked "where should we go?" Without hesitation I said
"Taco Bell!". Now Sister Bills has told me many times she hates Taco
Bell but she promised she would try it to see if I could convince her
to like it. Long story short she's converted to Taco Bell and my
batting average is still perfect! We then went to teach this wonderful
lady named Sister Gateward. She's in her 80s, but got baptized like 2
months ago. She is hilarious! I wish I could have listened to her all
day. She complained about how the women who drive SEPTA have started
acting crazy since they started wearing pants and her explanation of
her old church was downright hilarious. She is the best story teller

After that we got drenched in the rain waiting for the bus, the rain
came out of nowhere. From there we headed back to their place so that
I could pack and get ready for the Zone leaders, Elders Lee and Brown
to pick me up. We went right out to Broomall for a training on family
history from a couple in our mission presidency. It seems like our
work might be done, but there's always more! I'm pretty pumped too
because he wasn't expected me to be with the Zone leaders, so I'll get
to go again soon with my companions.Thursday morning was the most fun
morning workout I've ever done. We ran from their apartment in South
Philly to the stadiums. Elder Lee told me it's the same run that Vince
Papale does from the Eagles stadium to his home in the movie
"Invincible". It was a long run and I thought I might die at the end,
but it was worth it. My day with them was mostly weekly planning and
them doing zone leader stuff, but for lunch we got poutine! I've been
wanting to get it for months and I finally got to try it! Fries
covered in cheese curds, gravy with chicken, bacon and ranch on it?

Saturday and Sunday were two wonderful ways to top it off. On Saturday 
we met up with Trey and some of the other guys I knew from the YSA to
do baptisms for the dead. Trey has been a member almost a year, lived
in Rexburg and never went to the temple hahaha. I had no idea but it
was exciting to be there with him for the first time! It was awesome
to see him though, he's such an amazing kid and I'm excited to see him
get sealed in a few weeks. Afterwards we got Carmen's cheesesteaks
which are always the best. That night we had dinner at the Bills house
for Sister Bills' Birthday! It was also my mom's birthday so Sister
Bills called and talked to her and all of us missionaries in the ward
got to sing happy birthday to my mom! I heard it made her cry haha I
can't even imagine what it will be like when I get home! We had some
amazing chicken alfredo and cheesecake. Another 10/10. Sunday was
amazing, we were able to have the baptism of our friend Dolly. She
fits right in with all the other African lady's in the ward that you'd
hardly even notice she wasn't a member until today. She's amazing and
was so excited for today!

I'm thankful for these amazing weeks I've been having. Time keeps
slipping, but trust me it's well spent. I might be running out of
money and I might be eating too much good food, but this work is
making me happy and I'm cherishing every moment I have left. I'm
thankful for such amazing companions and a bunch of other missionaries
I get to spend time with because they are helping me make this be an
incredible and unforgettable last transfer. Take care, enjoy the many
pictures and have a wonderful week!

1) temple scrubbers
2) Elder Moench and I on the spire
3) inside the spire
4) a view of the roof from the spire
5) phillyyy
6) post temple slurpees
7) my portable bed
8) phillies stadium
9) Wilt Chamberlain #trusttheprocess
10) poutine with Elder Brown and Elder Lee
11) a lady at the temple joked this was Trey's "bachelor party" idk
12) Dolly and the Squad!!

double stuf

July 31, 2017

I can't even begin to describe how fun this trio has been! I have some
awesome companions. This week we had interviews with President
Randall. We had to go to Broomall for them so we made sure to go to
Freddy's for lunch. My favorite thing about Freddy's is that they have
fry sauce! It's so amazing. Interviews were great! When I walked in
President Randall said "can we stand for this interview?" "Getting
tired President?" "Yeah, and I'm getting a headache!" So we stood for
the entire interview and just chatted haha. It was pretty cool. We
have the best mission President here in Philly!

We got to do some service this week for what feels like the first time
in forever. A family was moving out of their house and needed help
getting the yard ready. I got designated to edge the lawn which I've
never done before, but after some trying to remember how my mom did it
and some trial and error I figured it out! I edged that yard to
perfection. Then the family made us some Thai dish with chicken that
tasted like peanut butter and they bought us Oreo blizzards on the way
home! The family is top notch too, the dad is hilarious and the mom
played professional volleyball in Puerto Rico! I could go on about how
great they are, but they also bought us a bunch of Taco Bell last week
and that says enough about the kind of people they are:) we also moved
out another family who said it wouldn't be too much to move, but then
they only had us 3 to pack up and a few others came to unpack. The guy
is super Book smart, but I'd say his street smarts are lacking and it
wasn't as organized as I'd hope. They bought us pizza though so I'm
not mad at all! We've taught a bunch of cool people this week, but
there's so many new faces with our areas being combined. I think one
of my favorites is this guy named Issa. He calls Elder Makuakane
-President, Elder Chauncey - Vice, and himself the Secretary. I became
the General last week and I'm in charge of keeping them all safe! Not
sure what I'm keeping them safe from, but I'll do it! It's awesome
when we see him at church and just say "how's it going Secretary". We
had one of our newer investigators Esther come to church this week!
She seemed to love it. She'll definitely be baptized.

There was a cool small tender mercy as we were walking one day, it was
pretty hot and we were crossing a huge highway when a truck driver
yelled "hey y'all want some water?" So we ran up to his truck and his
tossed us a few super cold waters then handed me one and said "this
one has lemon in it!" with a big grin on his face. We've eaten a bunch
of Oreos this week then somehow ended up buying our own tubs of ice
cream. Somehow I ended up with a 4 minute video of me shoveling ice
cream in my mouth without getting a brain freeze! I'm loving it out
here, being a missionary is such a unique experience and I constantly
find myself smiling uncontrollably, which seems to completely
overshadow the hard times. I hope you all have a great week!

1) killin Oreos
2) all we do is dream about killin eggo waffles
3) killin ice cream
4) killin missionary work

Changes never stop comin'

July 24, 2017

I guess a lot has happened since I left off. I haven't been too open
in my past few letters so I'll drop a little bit more this week.
Subliminally I put that meme in my email of "dear mom and dad
everything is fine" with a picture of everything destroyed, turns out
that pretty much happened. Now calm down, I'm okay! Sadly Elder Lee
had to go home. He re-tore his ACL two weeks ago and was told not to
walk on it much on it. Luckily I'm in a walking area right? So for
almost two weeks we couldn't leave our apartment for regular
proselyting and I was going nuts. It reminded me of the months leading
up to my mission where I found myself bored with not much to do.
Luckily my mission has helped me grow up and really helped me stay
positive so the time was much better spent. Lots of reading the Book
of Mormon, videos, cleaning, cooking and baking bread helped. We had
to go to a couple doctors appointments and wait for an MRI this last
week to confirm his injury. I'm extremely sad to see him go, he's an
amazing kid and was going to be such a great missionary in time. I'm
grateful that I'll be able to talk to him as often as I want very
soon. So you might be wondering what happened to me? I'm companionless
once again? I figured after sitting in my apartment for a few weeks I
might be pretty out of shape as far as missionary work goes, so I
asked President Randall if I could finish in a trio and I got a pretty
cool assignment from him. I moved all my luggage down to the P1 South
apartment with Elder Makuakane and Elder Chauncey. Not only do I get
to work with them, but a few times a week I get to go with Elder
Yirena-Tawiah and Elder Cole in the Philadelphia 4th ward too! Not
sure if I have 4 companions or I'm just a roaming missionary, but
either way I'm excited!

We taught a wonderful lady named Esther and her husband David this
week. She had us over a few weeks ago and they were so happy to have
us come back. As we taught David he was following along so well.
Esther said she prayed about the Book of Mormon and knows it's all
truth. We extended the invitation to David to pray as well and he was
so sincere about doing it. We invited him to pray at the end, which he
was hesitant about. So we taught him how to pray and in his prayer he
asked for "help to join this church". I love teaching the gospel so

This week I did get to go to my last Zone Conference! Elder Lee and I
sat in the back of the cultural hall and listened for the most part.
At one point they were talking about living the missionary standards
and President Randall asked if he could pick on some of the more
experienced missionaries and I knew right away he was going to ask me
my opinion, then it hit me that I've been living this missionary
standards so long. It's seriously become a part of me. It's mostly
just good habits too. That morning I woke up at 6:15 without an alarm,
my body and mind just naturally knows what they needs to do and it's
super cool but I wish I would have perfected this months ago haha. At
the end they had the "dying" missionaries bear their testimonies. Man
could I have gone on for forever, I love this mission. It's been
incredible. Every tough moment and every good moment has had a huge
impact on me! I'm so thankful for all of the lessons I've learned.
This has been the best thing I've ever done for my life! It's gonna go
faster than ever bouncing between all these areas, but I'm so excited
for this last month! I hope you all have a great week and an awesome
24th of July!

1) the power four (Elders Chauncey, Makuakane, Smith and Lee)
2) our district! We got Quilly to come to our district meeting haha

Slurpees & Memes

July 17, 2017

Probably one of the biggest highlights from this week was conferring
the Aaronic Priesthood to Allen, one of the boys we've been working
with since we got here. He's 14 and went to youth conference this last
week. Bishop had him get up in sacrament meeting and bare his
testimony, it was amazing to see that! He also looked mad sharp in one
of my old suits. Another fun highlight was getting to go out on splits
with a new missionary, Elder Chauncey. He's being trained by Elder
Makuakane and he's such a stud. He's from Vegas and grew up down the
street from Bryce Harper. Probably one of my new all time favorite
missionaries because he's just so... normal. Seriously. He's the
typical leave right after high school kind of missionary and he's
gonna fit in well here in P1.

On Monday we weren't able to physically be at a lesson with Vafa and
her friend Maryealah, but the Bills went and Facetimed us in! How cool
is that? I feel so blessed to be in this mission with our tablets, it
makes missionary work so easy. Also, one of my favorite holidays
passed! 7/11 so I had to celebrate the right way with getting the
smallest free slurpee I've ever seen in my life. It's free though, so
I won't complain too much! I also had it pointed out to me that the
pictures from the children's Book of Mormon stories make for
incredible memes... it keeps me so entertained! Thank you for all of
your support, I'm looking forward to this week and I hope yous all
have a good one yourselves!

1) goodbye Elder Fowers, cya soon
2) teaching lessons from home! (I might have been wearing sweatpants)
3) free slurpees
4) cya Elder Jolley (if you saw pictures from 6 months ago to now
you'd be shocked because we were mad chubby)