Monday, March 27, 2017

Lil Africa

So there's this joke where you look up in the sky at an airplane and say "how far away do you think that plane is?" And your young companion unknowingly says "I don't know 300 miles" and you reply "it looks like 23 months for you!". When I was in Bethlehem on an exchange with a missionary who would soon be finishing his mission he said that the longer your out, it seems like the airplanes actually start to look a lot closer. Well just for your information our ward actually covers the Philadelphia airport and it's very close...

Anyways this was a good week. On Monday a recently baptized family, the Sesay's, had us over for a family home evening and they invited their sister and her kids, the Coles, who are now also investigating the church;) We taught a lot this week, I feel like we always do here and next week already looks packed. We picked up 6 new people to be taught, and they are all great! Especially the family that I just mentioned. Early in the week we hopped off the bus in a rush to get to our next appointment, I looked on my iPad and saw that a trolley that hasn't run too often in my time here was running that day. It said it was about two minutes out so we got to a stop and sure enough it picked us up. Right in front of the complex we were going to, we saw a recent convert young man named Momo walking with his friend. We hopped off to go to the appointment and waved at the two boys. As soon as they saw us they started running towards us, and when they reached us Momo's friend, Darlington said "Momo tells me a lot of great things about your church, can I come to your church?" uh Yeah! (the irony in this email is that his last name is Yeah.) so we taught him the next day and a few days later met his family and we have a lesson set up to teach the Yeah's this week! 

We had our zone conference this week, which was wonderful. I always enjoy a good spirit filled meeting, especially when I get called on to give a talk on Faith that I didn't prepare for. It went super well! The next day we had a zone Training, which was pretty good. It's nice not to have to plan for those things anymore, but as it always goes I got asked to do a short training. As usual they asked me the day before, and gave me the topic that night "How can I strengthen my Conversion through my faith in Jesus Christ?" so I stood up there with a couple notes I jotted down in about 5 minutes and taught about the Book of Mormon and the difference between Conversion and testimony. That went super well too! But wait, there's more! I show up to Gospel Principles and the other missionaries tell me that I'm teaching, yet no one informed me prior. No worries, I broke out Chapter 24: The Sabbath day and probably had one of the best discussions on the Sabbath Day ever. Remember the 111 MPH windstorm Centerville? That came up in the fact that church got cancelled for us to serve one another and clean up the place, ultimately keeping the sabbath day holy. I also cracked a few jokes and everyone participated, that shows success, right? This scripture rings true: "Neither take ye thought beforehand what ye shall say; but treasure up in your minds continually the words of life, and it shall be given you in the very hour that portion that shall be meted unto every man." (D&C 84:85) Although I should try to prepare a little more... sometimes;)

At church I was amped because I thought that we would fill up the entire 2nd overflow with all the people we had coming to church but as soon as I walked out of ward council I saw on the phone that we had many messages "my car won't start" "we have to go visit family" "I can't come this week", but I wasn't going to let it get my hope down. We had our regulars, which is always good, but then right as it started one of our investigators Mack walked in. Now Mack has been an investigator since last summer (S/O to Elder Fowers for finding him) but Mack has struggled staying consistent. Miraculously we met with him a few times this week. Seriously it was a miracle because past missionaries had his wrong address and we set up lessons with a lady who was a former who actually is his wife so when we went to the home she wasn't there, but he was!  Anyways I guess my teaching style is different, because I use the Book of Mormon very heavily (the scriptures teach for me) and expound on it. Mack loved it and in our second lesson we read Ether 12, which is on faith and we were quite bold with them. Topped it off with the story of "Fourth Floor, Last Door" and by the end he said "by the Grace of God, I will be at church this Sunday." Well God is good ladies and gentleman because he had a great experience and I am optimistic that it won't be the last time he comes. Thank you for the support you give me, I truly love this work and I pray you all have a great week!

Elder Dylan Smith

I need to get me one of these backpacks this summer to carry around all my baja blast!

Monday, March 20, 2017


Nah I'm kidding, that was the most pathetic storm I've seen. We got at
most 6 inches and everyone was acting like they'd be stranded inside
for the rest of March. Around the mission cars got grounded, but guess
what? I don't have a car! I walk! The bad news was that we are still
about 5 miles out of our area and all the SEPTA buses shut down... but
that didn't stop us! Only slow us down a bit because our alternate
route was about a 2 hour trolley ride. To make my parents worry more,
I sent home just about every winter weather item I owned back when I
left Cherry Hill. So I've been layering up the best I could, but I
think God was watching out for my stupidity because I found a sweet
Russian hat in one of our apartments and a super nice 3 in 1 jacket.
God is good. It was also super Sunny (my face got a tan, what?)
and I was in dire need of some shades. Too bad for the 10 businesses I
stopped into that day who didn't have any shades, but a huge shoutout
to the massive sketchy dollar store because they had what I needed.

This week was pretty awesome. We picked up 7 new investigators this
week! Our mission has a goal in March to find 1000 new investigators
and I'm super pumped I added a few to the total this week. I hear the
struggle in the city isn't finding investigators, but it's keeping
them. It's gonna be a rollercoaster ride these next few transfers! I
think one of the highlights this week extends from the past week. We
were lookin through the areabook and found a former family who seemed
promising. When we dropped by one of the sons answered and told us to
come back the next day. When we walked in there was about 7 people
there! I was amped to pickup all these new people to teach, but sadly
a few weren't interested and then I found out two of the sons were
actually members and they were taught and baptized by Elder Fowers! He
talked about them a bunch when we were together and I was so pumped to
finally meet them. We found out that they were baptized when the YSA
met at the chestnut building, then they went on vacation and the YSA
moved to the new building on Vine. When they got back they went one
Sunday, couldn't find parking and they just haven't tried to get back
since. Anyways, they are awesome kids and they have a real desire to
get back to church.

We had interviews with President Randall this week and over the past
few months President and I have been harboring a challenge that has
finally been initiated this transfer. Once upon a time President heard
me talking about my morning workouts and asked me if I'd been  on a
really good workout routine and I said I was trying to start. He
replied that he needed to lose some weight too and said we should do
some sort of challenge. I almost thought he was joking, but in the
many skype calls, emails and face to face meetings we've had with him
he's always mentioned our challenge. So a few weeks ago I finally
typed up the rules and conditions and he agreed. Winner buys the other
a cheesesteak. Anyways this interview was wonderful as always, but
when he welcomed me into the relief society room I handed him a white
paper bag and said "here's a present for you" and he was in such
dismay when he opened it up and saw a cookies n' cream Beiler's donut.
If you haven't heard of them, please look them up because they are mad
tasty. Good luck Pres.

So some Sundays are tougher than others and this one just started out
a little off. Everything flipped around when we visited Brother
Truitt. He called us over earlier in the week and amongst our very
rushed visit he mentioned he wanted to take the sacrament. Brother
Truitt beat cancer, but the chemo destroyed the nerves in his hands,
legs and feet, which make it harder for him to get around. With
permission from our bishop we brought him the sacrament. I'm not a big
singer, but I felt that we needed to sing a hymn before we blessed the
sacrament. It wasn't any life changing event, but we sang one of my
favorites "There Is a Green Hill Far Away" and Brother Truitt loved
it. He said "12 years in the church and that's the first time I've
heard that one." It's one of his favorites now! Afterwards he wanted
to talk, so we chatted a bit before we blessed the sacrament. It was
quite a different experience because we had stake conference and
didn't get to take the sacrament this week, but I was administering it
to another? I'm thankful for the Atonement and that we can repent each
and every day.

I hope you all enjoy my many pictures throughout this week adventures
and have a wonderful week!

1) day 1: layerz
2) day 2: typical
3) day 3: swag
4) septa boyz
5) mormon boyz
6) a very fat cheesesteak
7) zone picture
bonus video: sleddin

Monday, March 13, 2017

I didn't know it got this cold in Africa...

Good morning ladies and gentleman, my last week has been a big blur. I
got transferred this week to the Philadelphia 1st ward and it's been a
blast. Over here there's a lot of African refugees so I like to think
of this place as little Africa. Anyways, we also use public transit
over here, which means tons of walking where the buses and trolleys
don't go. I should be in pretty good shape by the time I leave here!
For a couple days I was running around trying to figure out this place
with Elder Selby, one of the missionaries that came out with me. I've
never felt so lost before haha. On Thursday, Elder Selby and I went to
the mission office with a few other missionaries to pick up our new
missionaries! I'm training a Elder Berry from Graham, Washington! He
doesn't know my family that lives up there though... anyways he's a
great kid and it should be a good two transfers! While Elder Selby was
here he woke up with bumps on his legs, turns out we have bed bugs...
whoops. Who knew that was a thing? So we currently live out of our
ward boundaries in a vacant apartment clear out in 'nam.

Like I mentioned, I was lost for most the days and we doubled in
without too much knowledge of the area so we didn't teach too much
this week, which will for sure change, but church here is an awesome
experience. I remember before my mission hearing the legend of the
Philadelphia 1st Ward where it's so culturally diverse and people let
it show. I barely missed out on the legendary testimony meeting last
week, but this week before the intermediate hymn the chorister hopped
up and just started singing some soul music for a minute, then led us
in our hymn. Oh and the classes? Priesthood meeting felt like I was
listening to some preacher with so much soul and man I felt like I was
in a baptist church, but they were preaching of the restored gospel.
It was awesome! I really don't have too much else this week because
I'm still trying to figure out everything and it's been freezing the
past few days, but if there's one thing that has come from this week
is that I'll never say to my kids "goodnight, don't let the bed bugs
bite". That's no joke anymore. Thanks for all the support you give to
me. Have a good week!

Oh and I'll be in between apartments so if you would like to kindly
send me things my address is
721 Paxon Hollow Rd. Ste. B
Broomall, PA 19008

1) a big shoutout to free Liberian food 


Sunday, March 12, 2017

A Tongan, a Paraguayan and a Utah walk into a church....

March 6, 2017

This week has been an absolute blast! We've been in a trio this week
with Elder Fifita, from Tonga. He came with us for a few reasons, one
being that his companion went to fill in where a missionary was needed
and Elder Fifita goes home on Wednesday anyways so they let him kick
it with us! He's the man, we've had a crazy fun time this week, and we
are the most diverse trio of missionaries ever!

On Tuesday I went to Elder Beebe's district meeting, where he had his
companion, Elder Dennis, draw these gnarly looking faces. Then we
proceeded to teach those faces for our role play. Money! Then we got
some Buffalo Wild Wings and I had a really good exchange with Elder
Soto from Texas. We did a little service for an investigator, taught a
bunch of lessons and just did straight work. On Wednesday when we were
exchanging back we met up at this little convenience store in the
middle of nowhere. I picked it on google maps because it seemed like
an easy place to find, but I also checked the reviews, 2 of 3 said
"best cheesesteak in south New Jersey." Really? Wow? I figured I'd
test out this claim and I'm not kidding it was one of the best
cheesesteaks I've ever had. I think that my favorite thing about food
is that it's not always the biggest best name to get the best food,
you can easily get better, cheaper food from the small ma & pa stores.
Just like the gospel, you don't need to be a big name preacher to help
others find their savior right? I figured I might take a stab at a
food-gospel analogy.

On Sunday we were invited over to President Sikahema's for dinner
because Elder Fifita is Tongan. No joke. The other reason Elder Fifita
came up here was to meet President Sikahema, because he looks out for
all the Tongans and the rest of the Polynesians. It was pretty fun and
he's a super cool dude, his wife is awesome too and cooks amazing

Transfers are this week and I've finished up my sister mission (18
months). Sadly I'm getting transferred once again, but I'm super
excited for new opportunities and experiences! I'll be training a new
missionary in Philly and I couldn't tell you how happy I am for it! I
feel super lucky for this opportunity and I look forward to telling
you all more about it next week! Love you all!

1) gnarliest district picture ever
2) Elder Soto!!
3) bomb cheesesteak!!
4) President and Sister Sikahema and Elder Fifita and Elder Cristaldo!!!


February 27, 2017

Last week I mentioned we were going to a member's house for wings and
pizza which was super good and the next two days I ate pizza too...
such a solid week! This week we had a pretty good leadership meeting
down in Delaware. All of our district leaders rode down with us and we
were able to hit up costco for lunch, which is always a good time! On
Thursday I got to go on exchange to Moorestown with Elder Willson!
He's a great kid and we taught some cool people and a member bought us
Girl Scout cookies, I can't complain! Our week was pretty full of
teaching lessons and whatnot, but by the end I felt like we didn't
have the success we expected for the work we put in. I was feeling
kinda discouraged Sunday morning when we were at church. We were
listening to the announcements in sacrament and I looked back and saw
a part member family we've been working with for forever walk in! I
was so excited. Sister Conklin came a few weeks ago without her
family, but this time the whole gang came and they loved it! I was so
pumped. Hard work pays off, you just gotta be patient but persistent.

This week I also finished the Book of Mormon, which I'm super pumped
about because President Randall invited us at Christmas to finish the
Book of Mormon by Easter, so I started up again and after only 2
months I was able to finish it! I'm super excited about it because it
used to take me ages to read anything in the Book of Mormon and now I
love it. I understand it so much better and I know it's true.

I'm gonna keep this relatively short because we are spending our day
over here in Atlantic City seeing all the sights and just kickin it
with our zone. I hope you all have a wonderful week!


February 20, 2017

This week was super sick because we got to have a mini missionary with
us for the weekend! His name was Brother Bradley Beamer, he's 16 and
lives in Smyrna, Delaware where all of my buddies have served! (He
really didn't remember any of them though haha) Brother Beamer was
awesome! We had a fun time dragging him to days full of lessons and
church and Firesides! We worked him hard and he fell asleep every time
we were in the car or the train, even if we was just a 5 minute ride!
He told us that it wasn't what he expected at all. He expected us to
be uptight and that we would just be walking around and knocking on
doors. It's crazy how people think that us missionaries are pretty
generic, but I can tell you that we are still our own unique selves. I
think that's one of my favorite things is that there is no perfect
missionary because each of us is super different and we can use our
talents and strengths in missionary work. This week I was told I'm one
of the thriftiest guys around and I'm way laid back, surprise
surprise. That's two decent qualities right? Thanks for the
compliments Bradley!

This week I also got to go on two wonderful exchanges. First was with
my good friend Elder Beebe. I brag about him to all the other
missionaries because he is one of the best elders in the mission. We
had an awesome day and did work. The other exchange was with one of
the assistants, Elder Wilde! Fun fact: Elder Wilde and I were in the
same room in the MTC and were even companions for a little less than a
day. A less fun fact: I replaced him in cherry hill and he was a big
influence here so I have a hard time filling his big shoes hahaha nah
he's just very very outgoing and memorable and the people loved him so
it was super fun to be here with him and go see all the people he
helped out. We even got our eyebrows threaded while we visited with
our recent convert Beena. We both took it like a champ, but it really
is super painful.

Sunday night we had a stake Fireside featuring some pretty big
influences in the Mormon and football culture. Our stake president is
Vai Sikahema, who played in the NFL, but I'm kinda used to him so I'm
not too star struck anymore, but he invited one of his former
teammates EJ Junior to come and told an experience about how Vai was
worried about his teammates forcing him to drink alcohol at rookie
initiation when he started with the Cardinals. After praying he had an
impression to talk to EJ Junior, a big time name on the team, about
his situation. EJ was very understanding and at rookie initiation he
made an announcement that Vai wouldn't drink. The rest of the team
starting throwing a fit about it and EJ said "if any of your have a
problem about it, you can talk to me about it personally" and another
teammate who was even bigger, tougher and quieter stood up and said
"yeah and you can talk to me and EJ about it in the parking lot". One
of the funniest firesides I've ever been to! The headliner was the
Navy head coach, Ken Niumatalolo, who's featured on Meet the Mormons.
He shared many experiences about the influence of the Holy Ghost in
his coaching career. Many might think that God doesn't care about a
sporting event, but he said "God cares if everyone performs best at
their job, whether they are a doctor, lawyer, accountant or coach,
that's how we put food on the table for our families and God wants us
to do our best." He's got some awesome stories over the years he's
coached that are truly inspiring.

We had our interviews with President which are always something I look
forward to so much. I just wish I could talk with him for way longer
than 15 minutes because it goes quick! Sadly we didn't get everyone
who we would have liked at church this week, but a family who recently
moved in to the ward brought their son and daughter in law who have
lived in our ward for a while to church and they are trying to come
back. When I say come back, the son is. The daughter is a non member
and we are going to try to capitalize on that, especially because they
are feeding us pizza and wings tonight. Sick! The weather is
incredible and I'm doing great! Hope you all have a wonderful week!

1) Our eyebrows looks great right?
2) Brother Beamer!!!
3) Ken and Vai!

Chocolate Covered Strawberries

February 13, 2017

I think the biggest highlight of this week was getting one of our Less
Actives to church this week. She hasn't been to sacrament meeting in
15 years! (At least that's what she says) She loved it too. We've been
working with her and her two unbaptized kids for a while now and she
said they will all definitely be there next week. I'm super excited
for that!

I got to on on yet another exchange with Elder Martinez this week. We
are back in the zone and we've picked up right where we left off! It's
crazy how most my mission was spent with him and we knew what was
going on in each others lives and now there's a big 6 month gap where
we haven't known what's been going on. So he asked me how life's been
the past 6 months and immediately I replied "it's been awesome!" I
didn't even have to think. While yes I get discouraged a lot and some
days it is rough to go out and work, I still love this. I still enjoy
it. When I look at it as a whole, it's been an incredible experience!
The good times outweigh the bad. It was great because yesterday we had
a lesson in Priesthood about optimism. I feel like I'm relatively
optimistic, right? I mean I wasn't even that bummed when the less
active mentioned above wasn't home for our appointment last night
because she came to church! That's so incredible!

We had a wonderful zone conference this week. Lately we've had so many
meetings that they all blend together, so I'm not going to pretend I
remember every little detail from zone conference, but we were shown
an incredible video on working with members as much as we can! I hope
that I'll still be able to have missionary experiences throughout the
rest of my life and be a member missionaries can count on, even if I
still live in Utah and never see them haha. This zone conference was
also the last time I'll see Elder Stimpson until I get home, I
remember him being out 6 months when he trained me and I've always
gaged my time on the mission by thinking about how long my trainers
been out. He goes home in a few weeks... yikes.

Other news worthy events this week - we had Zone Training and although
I put it together it still blends in with all the other meetings we've
had, but it still went really well! We tried to focus on getting our
investigators to actually get baptized after we set them with dates,
especially by focusing on the strengths we each have as missionaries.
We also dropped by a less active family this week and met the mom
whose name is Karen Smith. Nice. Also, Wawa has a Valentine's Day menu
and I've never loved this holiday so much. Imagine a chocolate covered
strawberry shake. Yes it tastes exactly like a chocolate covered
strawberry and yes it is incredible.

1) catch ya later
2) an overedited pano of philly
3) how's it goin
4) have I qualified as a true missionary yet?
5) train station
6) zone training
7) that's my kind of sign

Yo como alitas de pollo y pizza

February 6, 2017

These weeks keep flying by faster and faster, which I'm trying to
decide if that's a good thing or a bad thing... this week I got to go
on exchanges with Elder Thatcher, he's from New Mexico and he's
awesome! We taught Nina, our Chinese investigator, on that exchange.
We talked about baptism with her and she seems willing to be baptized
but said she needs to learn everything and asked Tyson if she needed
to go to BYU to learn more about the church and to get baptized
hahaha. Tyson is super pumped about her though, we don't get as much
of a feel of her progress in English, but Tyson lets us know how much
she is understanding!

This week we also got to do family history with our recent convert
Jennifer. She's so excited to get to the temple to do baptisms for her
family. I act like I know how to do family history, but I don't
because I've never really done it. I guess it's not that hard though
because in our time with her we got two names reserved for ordinances
and there were many more to reserve but her computer kept getting
pop-ups and ads #thestruggle. Family history is pretty awesome though!

We finally got some elders back in Camden this week. I'm super excited
about it and one of them that was originally here, Elder Jensen, came
back! He forgot his iPad in his temporary area though, so I went with
him on the speed line to meet some missionaries in Philly to get it
back. Anytime I get to walk through Philly I'm just amazed, it's such
a cool place.

We had our MLC this week, which was focused on a lot of administrative
stuff, but it was still great and we had our Area Seventy, Elder Kunz,
there with us. So back at transfers I was hanging out in the office
waiting for my companion to arrive and Sister Randall said "Elder
Smith, any suggestions for lunch at MLC?" "Pizza." Yup, we had pizza
at MLC. I ate pizza three times this week and chicken wings twice this
week too! So pumped about that. I'm also working on my Spanish with
Elder Cristaldo and I say all these ridiculous phrases all the time
and he just laughs! Thank you for the prayers and support you give me,
your all in my prayers as well. Have a swell week, adiós¡

1) district meeting
2) I filmed a time lapse of the speedline on our way to Camden and it
might not be that cool, idk

Rollin' Sushi

January 30, 2017

Guys some really cool things happened this week! Some pretty
unordinary things too. Transfers happened this week and my new
companion is Elder Cristaldo! He's from Paraguay and he's been on his
mission about 10 months, but because of visa issues he's only been in
our mission for about 5 months. 5 months? I think back to when I was 5
months in this mission and I was so lost. Then again I was 18 and
Elder Cristaldo is 24 so he's got a grip on life. His English isn't
too shabby either! He didn't know what a slurpee was but I fixed that
real quick.

We picked up a new investigator this week named Jacob, who lives clear
out in 'nam. Anyways, he's only 17 and the kid quoted the Bible out of
the wazoo. He wants to be a missionary too! We can make that happen!
We also have a Chinese investigator named Nina we are teaching. Nina
is Chinese and has very broken English. Last time she was taught I was
on exchange so this week was my first time teaching her. We taught the
restoration and it was probably the weakest attempt of a lesson in my
life, I felt like she didn't understand anything. The good news is
that we taught her the same lesson later in the week, but with a
little help! I don't know too many people out here who speak Chinese,
but I do know someone back home who does. So I talked to President
Randall and he thought it was a wonderful idea and exactly what the
church wants us to do with the technology we are blessed with, to get
those involved from back home. So I got to skype in my brother in law,
Tyson, to teach with us! It was amazing! We'd teach something in
English and she'd seem to understand it, then Tyson would check for
understanding in Chinese and she would actually ask questions and make
comments! It was so awesome! I'm so thankful to live in this time and
serve a mission for opportunities like this. She came to church too!

This week we were able to have our friend Jennifer get baptized and
confirmed! Jennifer was just a former in our areabook a couple months
ago and all it took was a call and a lot of lessons and now she's
getting ready to go to the temple! Let me tell ya though, this was
such an awkward baptism. Now bear with me on this, because I feel like
most of my missionary work is just awkward. We heard the font takes 45
minutes to fill up. Nope. 15 minutes before the baptism it wasn't even
half full of hot water, so we had to turn on the cold water to fill it
up faster... luckily I didn't have to get it! Jennifer showed up and
we could not find a jumpsuit for her anywhere. Luckily she decided to
swallow some pride, because she's a "tomboy" and wear a white dress.
Wow I felt so unprepared! Then our first speaker at the baptism was
late, so we had to wait. Jennifer's boyfriend baptized her and he's...
different. He could not figure out how to baptize her and it was a
struggle for everyone. I don't even know how many attempts it took.
Then we are smooth sailing to the end and the member conducting forgot
to have the bishop welcome her to the ward, so the closing hymn starts
and the bishop stands up and rushes to the front to stop the music and
give her a proper welcome. Nice! The great thing is that no matter how
awkward it got, it was a special day for Jennifer and the spirit was
very strong when she bore her testimony at the end. She said that when
she stopped coming to the church in the summer she felt something
missing and now it's back and she doesn't want it to go away again!

In closing, for dinner last night a member had us over and we made
homemade sushi. I didn't even know that was possible. Who's game to
make sushi with me in the future? I hope you all have a great week!
Thanks for the support you give me, love you all!

1) start off day one of the transfer with Taco Bell... it's gonna be a
good transfer
2) font filling & wawa
3) don't let your 60+ year old members take your pictures, they never
turn out as good haha

Strange Things & Pizza

January 23, 2017

This was one of the more strange weeks in my mission, no joke. It was
a great week nonetheless, but very very odd. Let me explain. On p-day
we rode the train up to a nice part of our area to pick up some dry
cleaning and walked around a nice little city that reminded me a lot
of park city, minus the mountains. That was way weird! At dinner the
member starting talking politics and his wife just kept saying "I
don't care, I really don't care" and when he said she needs to know
about what's going on in the country she said "I really don't care,
all we need to care about is surviving each day, that's all that
matters" we were all dying of laughter! On the way home a member
called us and told us to stop by. Throughout the week she's given us
all this free stuff for our apartment, like toilet paper, laundry
detergent and all those real life things I don't want to worry about.
She gave us more stuff and had us sit down and talk about cheesesteaks
and pizza. What? She also said she will feed us whenever we don't have
a dinner and she will drop off a pizza! AWESOME!

We taught a lesson this week to a new investigator and about 5 minutes
in, she answered her phone and told us she'd be right back and left us
in her house alone for a solid 7 minutes. What the? We taught a lesson
to a member from Nigeria this week. His voice makes him sound so
angry, but he's also the nicest guy ever and I couldn't understand
him. I left that lesson so tired. We also taught a rather less active
part member family who wants to get to the temple. Awesome spiritual
lesson at the beginning, but as soon as we started talking about
family history they had so many concerns. Can any of you think of any
concerns with family history? I mean I couldn't, until now! A member
also wanted to feed us pizza for lunch, so he picked us up at the
train station and said "we are gonna go pick up a couple pies" so I'm
stoked out of my mind for some decent pizza, but all that excitement
left when he pulled into little ceasers.

Now this is where my week got really strange. Saturday morning we had
a meeting over the phone with President. A couple minutes in I turned
to Elder Lake and said "did you take your toast out of the toaster" he
ran to the kitchen and all he sudden our apartment is filled with
smoke and his toast is hard as a rock! Our toaster's timer doesn't
work. So our mission president asked us a question and I told him the
situation and right then our smoke alarm went off. Money!!! We road
the train into Philly to go to the temple and at the second stop our
train gets packed full of women heading to the Women's march. When we
got off the train we ended up walking with the whole crowd to center
city. Two dudes in suits didn't really fit in very well in that march
haha. We went inside the temple and while our recent convert was doing
baptisms we did confirmations. We confirmed like 75 names and our
recent convert never came in! We asked some sisters to look in the
women's dressing room and she was nowhere to be found! We literally
lost our recent convert. Luckily we found her sitting in the arrival
center with a big smile on her face. We had to rush back through the
march to get back to our area because a recently returned missionary's
non member mom wanted to take us out to eat. It was 5 course meal and
I got flounder, when do missionaries get to eat like that? We got back
on the train to go teach a referral we got who "wants to be a
missionary". After walking around the most ghetto trailer park ever
for a half hour searching for his trailer, we realized we had to get
home for some lessons. From the time we got on our train to when we
pulled up to our apartment, our entire night cancelled. It was all
within like 3 minutes too. We still headed out and stopped by some
backups, taught some awesome lesson and got home just in time for a
member to drop off a real pizza to us around 8 o'clock. What? I don't
know about all of you but this was a super strange week for me.

On the other hand I had interviews with President, which was also
strange because he got sick last minute and we had to do interviews
over Skype. Talked about my future and school and the last little bit
of my mission. Crazy to think how fast it's gone by. Especially this
transfer. Elder Lake is leaving to go fulfill a special assignment
that we are pretty pumped about and I get to keep it up here in New
Jersey! I'm excited for the upcoming week and the new transfer! Sorry
this email was mostly about my attempts to eat pizza and strange
stuff, but it's just another week as a missionary. Love you all, take

1) I forgot I owned an RV center
2) just chillin at home (MOD pizza)
3) all star weekend is coming up
4) Deuces Elder Lake

Teach Repentance, Eat Wings

January 16, 2017

A good ending to the week is when some other elders give you a
referral of a guy who came to their church, so you contact him
immediately and he texts you back saying "I want to baptism in your
church" not bad right?

I got to go down to Vineland in an exchange with Elder Scow this week.
He's been out almost a year and is just killing it! Super impressed
with him. I think about when I was in his place back in Reading. How
time flies. Before we exchanged back we ate at Buffalo Wild Wings,
which I found an incredible deal for wings so that's a blessing, but
even more blessings were showered upon on us when our waitress said
"you guys come here all the time, here's a punch card for a discount
on a meal and we'll give you guys two punch on this card for being
great" Life is good.

We had an awesome Zone Training this week. Our zone is HUGE. At least
it used to be. At the time of Zone Training we had 26 missionaries in
the zone, it was so great to hear their testimonies and be able to
feel of their spirits. We truly have some great missionaries here in
Jersey. During the week President Randall felt the need to take all
missionaries out of Camden, which I guess is well known for being
super dangerous, so we had to say goodbye to a couple companionship
which was super sad. The bright side of it is that they no longer are
in New Jersey so we got their public transit passes and we can ride
the light rail up and down our area AND we still have a car!
Versatile. We also had a leadership training down in Newark, Delaware
this week. It was great to learn about some new changes in the mission
and its always great to learn some ways we can be better leaders!
Afterwards we went to the nearby Costco, which I haven't been to since
I left home, and got lunch! I forgot how cheap it is! Wish we had one
closer by us hahaha

Our investigator Jennifer is solid. Everytime we teach her she is just
cool with everything and is ready to be baptized! Her boyfriend will
be baptizing her too so we are pumped for that! Joe, that guy we found
last week? He's a boss. He keeps going in and out of the doctors for
tests and whatnot, but he's always texting us and giving us updates of
how he's doing. He read the testimonies in the book of Mormon and said
he was pumped to read more of the Book of Mormon to learn more about
Joseph Smith... Ugh Joe, we got him on the right track though and told
him to watch the Joseph Smith movie.

There's plenty more I could talk about investigator wise, but this
week we heard a dying testimony from my good friend Elder Fernandes.
He heads home in a week, but he said something pretty cool. We all
travel home the same way, but we can choose to travel home as who we
were or who we've become. I continually reflect on how I've changed, I
mean this week I fixed our clogged sink and cut my own hair. I think
my parents would be thrilled about that! I'm definitely growing up,
but most importantly I've grown in my testimony of the gospel and have
become a better disciple of Jesus Christ. Thanks for all the support
you give me! Take care and have a great week!

1) Cherry Hill Zone
2) Elder Fernandes, the Dirty Fern
3) public transportation and a big ole cheesy grin
4) MLC from last week

6 inches and everyone goes to the store to stock up on milk...

January 9, 2017

This email might be a little lame because I got sick all week and each
day it turns into a different illness... it's ridiculous. I'll try my
best to muster up something decent though, just don't expect much.

This week I got to bring Elder Libberton on exchange with me. He's
been in my zone a few different times but this was the first time
we've got to go on an exchange. He is awesome! Incredible missionary,
almost a great exchange too! We taught a guy named Joe. Joe's great.
He was in a horrible accident and has recently regained a little bit
of mobility. He has a sincere desire to find out what his purpose it
and he got a little teary eyed in the lesson. Good guy! We had some
other great lessons and meetings and such, but by the end of the night
I was feeling awful. I literally got sick within like 15 minutes.
Crazy. So I was pretty much knocked out the rest of the exchange haha,
but the majority of it was great! I had to stay in most the day on
Wednesday and rest up. We pretty much rescheduled everything to
Thursday and had a pretty good day! We taught Laultan Puia again, the
guy from Burma. He told us in the lesson he was fasting again. Second
time since we taught him fasting! He said "humans complain, it's too
cold, it's too hot! Why we all complain? We just need to wait for god.
We fast once, nothing, we fast twice, nothing, we fast three times and
God will answer our prayers, we need to keep trying." Puia is

Friday we got to go to MLC. It was a wonderful spirit filled meeting
and we had a great discussion on future changes in missionary work!
Big changes too! I'm excited for it. After we got home we taught a
couple girls from Ghana. They are sisters, 18 and 14, and let me tell
you that teaching teenage girls is quite different because they just
giggle at everything. The bright side is is that they actually
understand the purpose of the Book of Mormon and who Joseph Smith is
and whatnot, they are super smart! On Saturday we headed out in the
morning to help some members paint their house. When we left it was
lightly snowing, but it just kept coming down and we got a pretty
decent storm! We kept trying to go out and do missionary work but it
was so snowy and cold we kept going back home so I could get some more
rest and try to kill my illness because by the end of Saturday night
I'd lost my voice. It was rough haha! They called it a winter storm
and even gave it a name, Winter Storm Helena, we only got like 5 or 6
inches though. Our ward mission leader pointed out to us how packed
the grocery store was during the storm. He said everyone went to go
stock up on milk and they act like they will be snowed in for days.
Lol crazy Jersey people. These people gotta experience a Utah winter,
they'd go nuts.

I can't remember if I mentioned it in a previous email, but I started
the Book of Mormon over right after Christmas with a goal to finish by
Easter. I've been marking in red when people "teach repentance" and in
blue when people "baptize converts". I've never gotten through so much
of he Book of Mormon so quickly, and understood it so well too! As
I've been reading, I've noticed that I naturally teach repentance more
often. It's incredible how that book can influence your life. Thanks
for the support everyone, till next week!

1) first time we went out to paint
2&3) a couple hours later when we went out to teach

The Bank is Open!

January 2, 2017

Happy new year folks! 2016 was such a great year, can't beat a full
calendar year spent on a mission. Wouldn't rather be anywhere else. I
guess I'd like to start this off with describing our experience trying
to find a Chapel for district meeting last Tuesday. It was being held
in Bridgeton, NJ, a place neither of us have been before. We cruise
all the way down there and drive up and down the street it's supposed
to be on and we don't see a Chapel. I figure it might be a storefront
since it's a Spanish branch, just like some other chapels I've heard
of in the mission, but we still can't find it. We call the elders and
we find out it's a bank! Like they took an old bank and turned it
right into a Chapel haha it's sweet! It looks exactly like a Mormon
church inside except it's got like 3 floors, really random rooms, and
a bank vault in the chapel! After district meeting our district leader
said "District picture in the bank vault?"  Tú sabe.

I got to go on a couple exchanges this week! One was with a Spanish
golden, Elder Hogge! He's from Kaysville, he skis, likes oldies rock
and played lacrosse! You know we had a good day together! I was so
impressed with his teaching, some of these new missionaries amaze me
with how prepared they are, I was no where near that!

Our investigator Alanna is currently visiting her member boyfriend in
Utah right now and loves it so much she wants to move there! Our other
investigator Jennifer is doin great too! In church someone asked if
she was a member and she said "I'm going to be one soon!". We have
this investigator named Puia. He's from Burma, somewhere in the world
I guess, and his English is getting better but a little broken!
Talking to him reminds me of Ray from Wok-Lin for those of you who
went to high school with me. Anyways this guy is hilarious, we taught
him about fasting and after he understood that it didn't mean going
somewhere at a rapid speed, he said "me? No breakfast, no lunch, no
dinner, no sleep, then God give extra push!" And in another lesson the
smoke alarm in the complex went off and when we asked if we should go
outside or something he said "no, fire company three or four minute
away, we fine" I guess he loves the gospel that much! Currently
there's no Book of Mormon in his language, Burmese, so he's been
reading in a English which is difficult for him, but he's already in
Mosiah! This guy is great!

I am constantly thinking of the story of Laman and Lemuel at the
beginning of the Book of Mormon lately. The reason their hearts were
so hardened and life got rough was because they left everything they
had behind and dwelt on it. They kept looking back at the past and
what they had and could not focus on the future they would have in the
promised land. Please don't look backward. Learn from the past,
prepare for the future and live for the now! Have a great week and