Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017 Baptisms and Priesthood Blessings

Hey everyone!

This week was great! We made it through a busy week of three Zone Conferences! We enjoyed presenting trainings at each one. Even though we do the same things with every zone, we are able to fine-tune our training and make improvements and changes to it each time we gave it, so by the time we reach our last one it was much better than the first time. It's so fun being able to see all of the missionaries throughout the mission within the span of a week.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

We had the baptism of Cristian and Stephanie this past week in our ward! Cristian and Stephanie are 12 and 13 years old and we have been working with their family for a while, so it awesome to see them finally make this step!. Their baptismal service was great! We had good support from some members there, and Elder Shelley was able to come back to baptize Stephanie. He was my second companion in the mission field in my first area, Centreville. And he also served here in this ward shortly before I got here, and he taught Cristian and Stephanie for a bit before I came. Elder Shelley baptized Stephanie and Elder Ure baptized Cristian. I gave a talk at their baptism, and then I also was asked to do Stephanie's confirmation in church yesterday.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
 Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

I am excited for them and so proud of the decision they've made to be baptized! Their Mom and two older sisters were baptized about 8 years ago or so, and then stopped coming to church when they moved here from Annandale. So it has been exciting to see their family start to come back and be at church together. Cristian and Stephanie were nervous before their baptism, but they are so happy that they decided to do it!

We had a cool experience this week teaching this young couple named Anthony and Redeit. We just knocked on their door, trying to see someone else who doesn't live there anymore and Anthony talked with us for a minute and had a lot of great questions about the Book of Mormon. After explaining it briefly to him, he allowed us to come inside and sit down. We then taught he and his wife all about it. Most of the people we meet from Ethiopia are pretty devout Ethiopian orthodox, but they aren't really strongly attached to any particular religion, but they are strong in their faith in God and Jesus Christ. They're in their 20's and have been married for a few years. They were intrigued by the Book of Mormon! Recently, we've been trying our best to emphasize the fact that the Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, and that we represent Jesus Christ. Often times we meet people that say we are from the "Church of Mormon" the "Mormon Church", or even the "Church of Joseph Smith." But we have been trying our best to explain that we represent the Church of Jesus Christ, and that this is His church, and that He is at the head of it. People have so many misconceptions about us, but when people recognize how we believe Jesus Christ to be central to everything we believe and teach, it makes a difference. It certainly did with Anthony and Redeit! They are excited to learn more!

Every time we have a companionship study, we start out by reading a few pages of the Missionary Handbook, and then we try and identify one thing that we can apply or focus on that day. One day, we read the pages about administering blessings to the sick, and giving blessings of comfort and counsel. We were trying to figure out how this could apply in our day that day, and we decided to make sure we had oil in our vials. The oil vials we had on us were actually empty when we read through these pages, so we decided to fill them up, just to make sure we were ready if asked to give a blessing that day. Then a few hours later, right after our dinner, we got a phone call asking us to go to the hospital to give a blessing to a woman named Felicia, who was having some complications. She is an investigator that the sister missionaries in our ward have been teaching. We happened to be just a couple miles from the hospital she was at. Within 10 minutes of the phone call we were in her hospital room. Felicia was astounded that we made it there so quickly! She told us that God put us in the right place at the right time! It was a cool experience there in the hospital room with her as we discussed the priesthood, gave her a blessing, and read through a few scriptures with her.
We also had the opportunity to give a blessing one of the Ghanaian members of our ward, who had her fourth child this week! We gave her a blessing just a couple hours before she had her baby boy, so it was cool to be part of that special day in their family!

We've been teaching our next door neighbor Kadiatu who has been coming back to church pretty consistently over the past month or two. On Saturday, we found out that it was her birthday and hat she had nobody to celebrate with! No family or friends in the area to celebrate with that day, and all she had planned was to go to work. So we baked her a little cake and went and sang happy birthday to her! She was SO happy! It always feels good making people laugh and smile. She's such a happy woman!

This week on Saturday we'll be going up to the temple to take the departing missionaries for their departing temple trip. The temple is closed for cleaning for a few weeks on the day of transfers, so we have to do their temple trip early. In excited to go again! I love the temple and I'm grateful for the opportunity we have to go!

 These are two investigators we've been teaching from 
Burkina Faso, Frank and Bouma. They speak French and have 
been learning English. We first met them a few months ago
 and have been teaching them for a while. They look like thugs 
in this picture, but I can assure you that they are some of the 
nicest people I've ever met!  They are actually moving back up to 
the Bronx in New York City this week, so we got them in
 touch with the missionaries there, so that they 
can start teaching them.

We had a lesson in Elders quorum at church about the importance and value of work, based of of some teachings by President Hinckley. He said
"The great genius of this Church is work. Everybody works. You do not grow unless you work. Faith, testimony of the truth, is just like the muscle of my arm. If you use it, it grows strong. If you put it in a sling, it grows weak and flabby. We put people to work. We expect great things of them, and the marvelous and wonderful thing is they come through. They produce.
Nothing happens in this Church unless you work. It is like a wheelbarrow. It doesn’t move until you get ahold of the two handles and push. Hard work moves the work of the Lord forward, and if you have learned to work with real integrity it will bless your lives forever. I mean that with all my heart. It will bless your lives forever."

I am grateful for the principles of work, and those who have helped me to develop good work ethics over the years. I hope I can continue to learn the importance of work and know how to work hard throughout my life, in all aspects of life.

I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week!!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

We did an exchange this week with a trio, so I went
with these two Elders, Elder Evans and Elder Benard.
And Elder Ure went with their other companion.
 Elder Evans and I met eachother at EFY in 2012,
 so it's been fun to serve with him throughout my mission!
He is finishing his mission, so I'm going to miss him!
This picture was taken amidst a huge
rainstorm that got us soaking wet!

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017 Come to Know Him

Hey everyone!

We had another great week! Each week just seems to be flying by.

I love Lawrence's face in this picture! He's a sweet kid!

We were able to drive all the way from Alexandria out to Warrenton for Lawrence’s baptism last week! It was a special day! Elder Jones and I enjoyed teaching him for the 3 months that we were together. Whenever we taught him, we would play basketball in the driveway with him, and teach him at the same time. Every few minutes we take a break from shooting hoops and teach him some more. Over the course of our basketball lessons with him we covered all of the missionary discussions and baptismal interview questions. As time went on, he understood and grasped everything pretty well! His family has had their fair share of trials this year, but amidst it all, he and

Elder Smith, Elder Gleed, myself, and Elder Jones 
with Lawrence prior to his baptism!

his two older sisters and his mother eventually started coming back to church. (His Mom and sisters have been members of the church for a while, but Lawrence wasn't old enough to be baptized when his family joined the church years ago). At the baptism, I gave a brief talk about the Holy Ghost and Elder Jones spoke on baptism. It was a great evening, being there to congratulate him and support him and his family. It was fun seeing many of the awesome members that I grew to love in Warrenton. It feels like a family in that ward. (Shout out to Sister Goss! Thanks for the delicious homemade bread! I ate a bunch of it on the long drive back to Alexandria). Lawrence just turned 12, so he will be receiving the priesthood soon and be ordained a deacon!

Back in our area, Christian and Stephanie will be getting baptized this week! It's has been so fun

Here's our next door neighbor, Kadiatu! She's one of the nicest ladies ever! 
It was a cool experience meeting her, and she's been to church every week
 for the past month! She loves coming and she's so happy to
serve others by giving our investigator Peter rides to church

teaching them ever since I got transferred into this ward. I actually taught them a couple times prior to serving in this ward, when I used to come on exchanges here. So I've known them for a while and it's cool to see how much they've grown and how excited they are for this week! Christian turns 12 this week as well, so he will be preparing to get the Aaronic priesthood and start passing the sacrament at church.

Exchange with Elder Norton this week. He is one of the Zone Leaders
 now so he got to come on exchange here last week. We were in the MTC 
together (19 months ago?!) It was fun being with him for a day!
We are with a couple of kids in this picture
who love seeing us when we visit their parents.

All week long, we weren't able to get in contact with our investigator Otelia who came to church with us last Sunday. So yesterday at church we weren't expecting her to come, but all of the sudden she walked in! She's had a busy week moving to a new place nearby and has had a lot going on, but she told us she knew she needed to come to church again. She is so in tune with the spirit and feels it so much at church. She has had a lot of struggles in her life, especially the last couple of years with a lot of death in her family, but she has recognized the peace and the hope that the gospel has started to bring into her life in just the past few weeks that we have been teaching her. She's excited to come and watch Christian and Stephanie's baptism later this week and is even more excited for her own baptism in the future.

We had one Zone Conference this past week, and we have three this upcoming week. So it's going to be a busy week!

Elder Judkins mother took this picture of us
right before they took him away!

This transfer our mission has been focused on utilizing the Book of Mormon more effectively and more often in all aspects of our work. Whether it be in finding, teaching, working with members, or our own personal study, we have a big emphasis this month on the Book of Mormon. In Preach My Gospel Chapter 5 I love what it says about the Book of Mormon. Under the section "The Book of Mormon Testifies of Christ" it says that "A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ (see title page of the Book of Mormon). It testifies of Christ by affirming the reality of His life, mission, and power. It teaches true doctrine concerning the Atonement--the foundation for the plan of salvation.... Those who know little or nothing about the Savior will come to know Him by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon."
I love how it doesn't just say those who read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon will come to know about the Savior. Instead, we are promised that we will come to know him as we read it, on a personal level. It's one thing to learn about Jesus Christ, but coming to know him is a whole different story. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for all that it has taught me about the life, mission, and power of Jesus Christ. But more importantly I am grateful for the chance I've had to continue come to know Him, each time I study and apply the things I learn.

I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

 I love this picture of the temple!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017 You Are His Hands

Hey everyone!
This was a busy week starting off the new transfer! It was sad saying bye to about 30 missionaries that I've served with over the course of my mission. But it was fun welcoming a ton of new missionaries to the mission field as well!

My longtime companion, Elder Judkins!
I am going to miss this guy!

I had a great experience going to the temple last week with all of the departing missionaries. It was especially fun being there with Elder Judkins again. Before our session, we ran into the Richmond Mission Mission President along with his group of departing missionaries. When I saw their group of missionaries, I saw one that I thought looked familiar, and then I realized it was Braden Starr (my cousins cousin, also from Temecula). It was cool running into him in the temple and talking with him for a few minutes. I completely forgot he was called to the Richmond mission, but it was fun to see him before he heads home!
Later that evening, it was fun being at the mission home with all of the departing missionaries for a testimony meeting. I enjoyed hearing from all of them! At the end of the night there were 5 different families that came to pick up their missionary, so it was fun seeing the joyful reunion that was for each of them and meeting some of their parents.
It's fun seeing the nervous excitement of the new missionaries, coming in, not fully knowing what to expect. And then seeing that in contrast with the departing missionaries, who go home with more confidence and with such strong testimonies.

On the way up to the temple with some
of the departing group.

After the busy couple days of transfers, we had a good week!

We have an investigator named Otelia who we have taught multiple times over the last few weeks who I haven't written about yet. She initially was a referral from some members of the ward. She has attended a couple of the self-reliance classes that the church does as part of that new program, which is how she initially got in contact with the church here. She is the best! Otelia absolutely loves reading the Book of Mormon and is learning a lot. She came to church for her first time yesterday and had a great experience!

5 A.M at the airport with the departing missionaries

Peter came to church again as well! It was his 3rd time at church, so he is progressing pretty well!
Christian and Stephanie will hopefully be having their baptismal interviews this week and their baptism next weekend, so we're looking forward to that as well. It's been fun encouraging their family to pray together every day and to spend just a couple minutes daily in the scriptures. Prayer and scripture study are two of the most simple commandments, but the changes they bring into our lives are incredible.

I'll be going back out to Warrenton this week for the baptism of Lawrence!! He was the 11-year old kid that Elder Jones and I taught for a while when we were in that ward. I'm super excited for him, and excited to see some familiar faces out there!

This is when we picked up Elder DeSchepper and
Sister Doyle from the Mexico MTC.

I'm grateful for the opportunity we have had this week to teach our investigators. It is so fun to see the joy of the gospel begin to work in the lives of the people we are teaching. I am grateful for the chance we have as missionaries to represent Jesus Christ as we share His gospel!
I was reminded of a great talk this week titled "You are My Hands" given in April 2010 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I would like to share a brief portion from the beginning of his talk. He says:
"A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was--a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”

Went to lunch with my good friend Kerry Harding
today! He's a great man!

There is a profound lesson in this story.
When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.
That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart."

I love the symbolism of the townspeople deciding to not sculpt on new hands to the statue after it was damaged. Just because we probably will not physically see the hands of Jesus Christ while in this life, does not mean that He is not there. His hands are in the details of our lives, each and every day. And more often than not, we can feel the loving embrace of His hands through the hands of those around us. And we can be His hands to others, as we reach out in love and service towards those around us!

I love you all! I hope you all have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 "Called to the Work"

Hey everyone!

Say hello to your bus driver, Elder Duvall!
It's pretty fun driving this big van
with all the new missionaries!

This was the last week of the transfer, and the past few days as well as the next couple days are all super busy!

Last night we had a New and Returning Member Fireside, where we had 7 speakers all share their testimonies and conversion stories. I was asked to conduct the fireside in front of a chapel, packed full with people and into the overflow seating. It was such a great meeting! Hearing their testimonies makes me more motivated to go out and work hard everyday to find more people like them, ready to embrace the gospel. Each speaker was SO different from one another, but the joy and the light that the gospel has brought into each of their lives was the same! I'm grateful for that meeting and for our mission that puts it together every transfer!

We have 27 new missionaries arriving from the MTC today  who we will be picking up from the airport! (Two of them from Temecula!) and we have about 30 missionaries going home early Wednesday morning. So our mission is going through a period with a lot of turnover in missionaries, but it's exciting! Aside from preparing for all the changes that we are involved in with transfers, we had a really great week in our area.

After church on Sunday with Hamid!

We got a media referral this week for a man named Hamid. He's from Morocco, which is in the northwestern part of Africa, and is super cool! He was a diplomat in Morocco and he speaks 5 different languages. We called and scheduled an appointment with him for 10am one morning this week. But at about 9:30am that morning, during our studies, we got a call from him and he told us he was at the church waiting for us! We didn't even know that he knew where the church was, but he took a taxi to get there, so sure enough we jumped in the car and sped over there! We were planning on meeting him where he lived, but we got to the church, showed him around the building and had a lesson in the relief society room, right next to the baptismal font. It was such a great lesson! Hamid reminds me of Asif Khan, who I taught last summer. Hamid converted to Christianity about a year ago, and wants so badly to follow Jesus Christ the best that he can. He then came to church yesterday and had a great time! He happily introduced himself in the Sunday school class and elders quorum, and is excited to keep on coming.

Peter Kamara also came to church again yesterday, his second time coming. Our neighbor Kadiatu gave him a ride. It's amazing to see how great they connect with each other!

This is Christian and Stephanie, and their mother Cris.
 They've all come to church the past couple weeks!
Eshetu also came with us to their lesson.
He comes with us nearly each week to help teach people!

We had a great lesson with Cris and her kids, Christian and Stephanie this week, about family prayer and scripture study. It's such a simple teaching, but there's so many blessings that come from it. It's neat to see their little family grow closer to one another as they have started coming to church and feeling the spirit more in their lives.

We saw a pretty sweet tender mercy happen to someone on Sunday. There was this kid named Brigham, who was visiting our ward from Utah. He was from Cedar City, and is here in the D.C. area for the summer doing sales/installation for Vivint. He usually goes to another church building in Arlington, but took a wrong turn on the freeway, so decided to just find the closest chapel and wound up visiting ours. He approached us after our Sunday school class and explained that his mission call is at his home in Utah and he'll be opening it in a couple weeks. He then started to say how nervous he was, and that he's always dreamt of going to a foreign country, and how he's "afraid" he's going to get called to an English speaking stateside mission. He asked us what our thoughts were about serving in an English, stateside mission. We basically bore testimony to him that no matter where he serves, it will all work out for his good and he will know that wherever he's assigned is where he's meant to be, and that he will love it. Then as we walked into priesthood meeting, for elders quorum, they mentioned that the lesson was going to be based on two conference talks: "Called to the Work" by Elder Bednar (April 2017) and "The Divine Call of a Missionary" by Elder Rasband (April 2010). Both of these talks are great and I recommend reading them! Anyways, I feel like it was no coincidence that he "took a wrong turn" on the busy freeways of Northern VA, and ended up at our ward. I think it was an answer to his prayers attending this meeting. The discussion about those talks were just what he needed to give him the comfort and assurance he needed. I know that no matter where we serve as missionaries, we will always be able to bless the lives of others and we will always be able to feel the joy of sharing the gospel.

Jason Larrabee gave his farewell talk on
Sunday. He's going to Sendai, Japan!
He came out with us to teach people
pretty much at least once a week for
the past 3 months,
so we're going to miss him!

My favorite part of the talk is when elder Bednar expounds on Doctrine and Covenants section 80. Specifically in verse 3: “Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.”
Elder Bednar states-
"I do not believe that the phrase “it mattereth not” as used by the Lord in this scripture suggests that He does not care where His servants labor. In fact, He cares deeply. But because the work of preaching the gospel is the Lord’s work, He inspires, guides, and directs His authorized servants. As missionaries strive to be ever more worthy and capable instruments in His hands and do their best to fulfill faithfully their duties, then with His help they “cannot go amiss”--wherever they serve. Perhaps one of the lessons the Savior is teaching us in this revelation is that an assignment to labor in a specific place is essential and important but secondary to a call to the work."

I love how we are "called to the work" and "called to serve." Yes, we are "assigned to labor in specific places. And I would add that I am extremely grateful for my specific assignment to labor here in the Washington DC South Mission! But no matter where our assignment is, our call comes from God, through living prophets and apostles who receive revelation on our behalf. And that call to serve is the same for every missionary! Regardless of where we serve, we can see miracles happen, and bless the lives of many people through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The joy that comes as a result is the same, no matter where we serve. I'm grateful for this experience we had on Sunday and the good reminder it was to me.

I'm excited to spend another transfer with Elder Ure! We are having a blast and seeing lots of great things happen in our mission. I hope you all have an incredible week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Here's Robert, who we've been teaching for
about 6 weeks now.
Our lessons with him always go great!

 Last week at the mission home with a big group of missionaries
on Pday. It was fun this past transfer getting to go there
every Monday, seeing all of the missionaries, having a BBQ,
and playing basketball and volleyball with them all.

Here are the elders from Temecula:

"Elder Cole Benson and Elder Thomas Deschepper!
Elder Deschepper is a Spanish speaking Elder,
and Elder Benson is a visa waiter, going to Guatemala soon!
 It's fun to have more people from Temecula here in the mission!"

From Sharon Duvall: I sent the picture of Elder Benson and Elder Deschepper to the the Benson's and the Deschepper's here in the Temecula Stake and Sister Deschepper replied back saying: "thank you so so much! I'm so excited! I don't know if Elder Duvall knows this but Thomas and Cole have been best friends for years. They used to teach gospel topics to friends and teachers at TVHS. They were always so excited about it. It makes my heart happy that 3 of God's choicest missionaries from Temecula are there together! Thank you!!"
I asked  the Benson's: "How long do you think your son will get to be in Washington DC South Mission? Have they given you any idea? My son just picked him up at the airport today in this big van"(I sent the picture of the van) and Elder Benson's mom replied back saying: "Thanks for letting us know. This is the first we heard that he was out of the mtc." And "Well, this all must have happened since our last email from him last Wednesday because this is the first I have heard that he is there. I guess we will get an update from him in a couple of days. So to answer your question I have no idea what is going on. Thanks for the update. 😀"

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 17, 2017 Safety for the Soul!

July 17, 2017
Hey everyone!

Gotta stay hydrated in the summer!

I hope you are all doing well! I am having a blast here and am loving every day! It seems like each week just flies by! We are keeping busy and seeing some good things happen!

This is Joshua. We also taught him while on our exchange.
Joshua is a college student and is from Ghana.
He's really knowledgeable in the Bible, and at the beginning
of our lesson he just wanted to bash with us and argue,
but it was really cool how our discussion changed course and
by the end of it he was happy and smiling

We had four different exchanges this week with different sets of zone leaders in the mission. They all come to our area, so we have double the work going on each day, and two days to plan for in one area, so it's been a busy week! Four days in a row with a different missionary in our ward. I remember when I was a zone leader I always looking forward to coming here on an exchange in the past, so it's cool to see missionaries come to us and be super excited to go out and work in our area each day. It's been a full week of teaching and finding some incredible people.

We had another great lesson with Gifty this week. We read more out of the Book of Mormon with her, and emphasized how it is the key

One of my exchanges this week was with Elder Lucero.
 He's a great missionary! He is a Spanish speaking
elder, and is a zone leader in Woodbridge. This is us
with Eshetu (recent convert from Ethiopia) who came out with
us to help teach a few people. Eshetu is one of the happiest
 people I know, and he has such a firm testimony
of thegospel! It's cool to hear him bear his testimony
in lessons, because it is so simple but
so powerful at the same time.

to helping us gain a testimony of this gospel. After our lesson she explained how the more we teach her, the more everything feels like it could be true. She said she still has some doubts and concerns, but the more we help her learn and understand, those doubts keep being diminished. It's really cool to see her open up and begin to understand the truth!

We found and taught this lady named Gina. She told us how she had a good friend in Canada who joined the church a few years ago, and she noticed the miraculous changes in his life, and then she said she wants to see that same change take place in her life. It was a really neat experience teaching her about the Restoration of the gospel and seeing her embrace everything. Throughout the week we were able to teach a lot of lessons to a lot of different people, I wish I could have more time to share all of the experiences we have had this week.

We did had a few investigators make it to church on Sunday. One was a lady named Fatima, who showed up with her 5 year old daughter to church. We've only taught her a couple times and just met her a couple weeks ago, so we were excited that she made it to church! She's excited to come again!

In the middle of church we also had a guy named Shabaz just walk into the building. He is from Pakistan, and told us he met missionaries a few months ago, and that he hangs out at the park right across the street from the church all the time, which is right  by the Potomac river. And he just felt like walking into the church building today, because he sees it all the time. So it was pretty cool meeting him! He enjoyed the part of church that he stayed for. He's going to go to the singles ward in Crystal City next week.

Our other investigators at church were Christian and Stephanie. Their Mom is a less active member that was baptized years ago in Annandale, and then moved to this area but has never come to church here before. The missionaries before us had been working with this family for a while. Christian and Stephanie, the two kids, have come to church many times over he past few months, but their Mom has never come. Until this Sunday, it was the first time all 3 of them came together. Their Mom was nervous to come because of some past experiences, but she said she felt good after it all and was glad she came. It was a big step for her to come!

Driving to the mission home for Pday

This week is the last week of the transfer. Next Tuesday we will be getting 28 new missionaries in the mission and about the same number going home, so this mission will have a lot of turnover the next two transfers! The changes are exciting, but I'm going to miss a lot of the missionaries going home this transfer that I've been able to serve with throughout my mission. Elder Ure and I will most likely be staying together another transfer, which we are excited about!

I wanted to close by sharing a portion of Elder Hollands talk "Safety for the Soul", given in 2009, about the Book of Mormon. It's a treat talk and he bears a powerful testimony. If you have a chance, you should all go and listen to it again. He said:
"I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work--and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times--until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages--especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers--if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”

I am grateful for the Book of Mormon, and the knowledge and truth that we can learn from its pages and apply into our lives. It truly is the evidence of the truthfulness of this gospel!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017 Next Door Neighbor

Hey everyone!

At the mission office. We're usually only here a couple times
a week, but we enjoy our time there, getting things done
and seeing the senior couples that are there every day.

It's been another good week! I hope you all had a great 4th of July week! President Huntsman invited Elder Ure and I to have dinner at his home on the fourth with him and his family, so that was pretty fun!

This picture was taken on 7/6/17, our 18 month mark!
We were all at the mission leadership conference that was held this week
and happened to be on our 18 month mark.
Elder Norton, Elder Meldrum, Elder Jones, and I were all in the MTC
 together 18 months ago! I can't believe it's been that long.

My MTC group and I hit our 18 month mark this week, which is crazy! That means that the sister missionaries that started at the same time as us go home in about 2 weeks at the end of this transfer. That's a weird feeling.
This is Edith, one of our investigators from Ghana.
We taught her on the 4th of July,
which also happens to be her birthday!

This week was full of great experiences with different people that we've been working with.

We had a cool experience finding this lady named Gifty. We met someone else that lived at her house on the street a couple weeks ago, and we were trying to see him when we knocked on her door. Instead, Gifty opened the door and immediately invited us inside. She then told us her background, and connections to the church. She is from Ghana, and has lived in multiple places throughout the world in her life, and no matter where she goes, she always ends up making some connection with the church, whether it be an extended family member, a coworker, neighbor, or friend. She has interacted with members of the church throughout her life. She was in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago on a business trip, and went to Temple Square. She had a good conversation with two sister missionaries, who tried to get her address and phone number so that missionaries can come to her home. But Gifty refused to give it to them and told them "When the time is right, I have confidence that God will send them to my home again." And then told them about how she's always ended up meeting members of the church, no matter where she goes. And sure enough, a couple weeks later, we ended up knocking on her door! No coincidence there. Anyways, she was first given a Book of Mormon when she was 11 years but never opened it up, because she had some concerns and misconceptions, but never bothered to ask anyone more about it. So when we taught her, we were able to have a great first discussion, helping her truly understand everything. She had so many misconceptions about the church that we were able to clear up. Once she actually understood what the Book of Mormon was about, and what it's purpose is, she started to get emotional. She started to express regret to us, because she has had one for so long but has bothered to open it up and read it. But now that she understands it better, she's excited to start reading! It was a really cool experience teaching her and were excited to see her again tonight!

Also, if you remember a little over a month ago we were teaching a lady named Isatu, but she went to Sierra Leone for a month. She's back now and we're teaching her again! We emailed her while she was gone and she said it meant a lot to her knowing that we were thinking about her from thousands of miles away.  Her cousin is a member of the ward who was baptized last year, so she's doing a good job fellowshipping her.

This is our investigator Peter Kamara, from Sierra Leone.
This was right before we left his apartment to go to church!
He was super happy to come!

A few weeks back I wrote about one of our investigators, Peter, who we found. Well he's was in the hospital for a couple weeks, but is back home now. We had a couple good lessons with him this week and he came to church with us on Sunday! While in Elders quorum, the lesson was on the importance of families, and Peter participated by bearing his testimony on families. He talked about how he never actually knew his birth parents, but different people came into his life and became his family. He got pretty emotional, but it was powerful, and he really seemed to feel comforted and loved by everybody at church yesterday.

We had a cool experience meeting with our next door neighbor, Kadiatu, who is from Sierra Leone. She has lived next door to the missionaries for a year now, and has seen us come and go many times, but somehow the missionaries have never talked to her before. We gave her our card a few weeks ago and told her to let us know if she ever needs help with anything. We got a phone call from her last week and she left a voicemail that said she wanted us to come over and pray with her and that she wanted to come to church with us. Obviously we were super excited, thinking that she would be pretty solid! So we went the next morning with a member of our ward to go teach her, but after just a few minutes in her apartment, we find out that she was actually baptized a member of our church in the early 90's, but hasn't been in a long time. I was surprised that she's lived next door to the missionaries for a whole year, and they never found out that the next door neighbor Kadiatu is actually a member! Her records for some reason haven't been in the ward, but we're going to find them. We've had a couple good visits with her since we met, and she came to church yesterday for the first time in about 20 years! Pretty neat that we were able to get our next door neighbor to come to church!

Here's a sweet scripture I came across this week. D&C 25:10 ​"And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the ​​​things​ of this ​​​world​, and ​​​seek​ for the things of a ​​​better​."

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

This is the Boakye family! Sarah is the mother of the family
and was baptized many years ago, but none of her kids are members,
and she has allowed us to start teaching her crazy kids.
Sarah is the one who doesn't look happy in this picture, but she's actually
a pretty happy person. Her house is always crazy though!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 3, 2017 Happy 4th!

Hey everyone!

This last week just flew on by. I can't believe it is already July! About a year ago I was transferred from my first area, Centreville, to Alexandria.

Elder Judkins and I with Desmond at his baptism!
What a great day! Elder Judkins goes home in 3 
weeks which is hard to believe.
One of the first people that Elder Judkins and I taught together was Desmond Whitfield. We taught him many times over our six months together. This past Saturday I was able to drive back to my previous ward and attend his baptism! It was such a great experience seeing Desmond make that step! Elder Judkins performed the ordinance, which was pretty cool because he finishes his mission in just a few weeks. Elder Judkins and I were the first two of many missionaries that taught him over the past year. It was fun seeing so many familiar faces and members in that ward. Desmond took a moment to himself after coming up out of the water with his head down, praying and thanking God. It was a spiritual baptismal service. Michael Heaney and Chris Ricks, two other recent converts Elder Judkins and I worked with, each gave a talk at the baptism. It's cool to see them actively participating in the gospel, and embracing new members. Desmond bore his testimony at the baptism, thanking everyone, especially the missionaries who persisted teaching him over the past year. A year ago, when we first met Desmond I never would've thought he would've made it to this point. He was pretty connected to other churches and had a hard time truly understanding the message of the Restoration, but as time went on he slowly began to understand and gain a testimony of everything. I'm glad I was able to go back and be there for his baptism!

This is all of the missionaries that taught Desmond over the past
year. Me, Elders Snow, Judkins, Johnson, Baxter, and Jones.

Elder Judkins and I with Chris Ricks. He's such a
great guy! He's been a member of the church for
about 8 or 9 months or so now. It was fun seeing
him again!
We finished up this transfers Zone Conferences this week. We did the Centreville and Gainesville Cone Conference, and the Mt. vernon and McLean Zone Conference his week. I really enjoy doing trainings at those meetings and seeing all the missionaries throughout the mission. It's also cool to see how it just gets better as each conference goes by. We always train on one of the 8 fundamentals that are taught when a missionaries is being trained in there first couple months.

We had a great lesson with Robert this week. He's making good progress, always super engaged in our lessons. Reading the Book of Mormon in between our visits and asking great questions as we continue teaching him. He decided that he wants to set a goal to be baptized on his sons birthday which is in about a month from now. We've taught him multiple lessons, but he still hasn't made the step to come to church yet, so we're hoping this week he'll have the courage to come. We also found out he has a twin brother, and they're identical, so that was pretty neat.

Our mission set a goal this week to find 400 new investigators. Each night President Huntsman would come to our apartment and we would total up the numbers and film a video, which would announce how many we found that day, along with a goal of something specific for each companionship to do the next day to help make this happen. It was fun seeing the missionaries all work hard to accomplish this goal. We found a total of 419 people who were taught the first discussion and over 90% of those were invited to baptism. Elder Ure and I found 12 new people this week! We don't seem to have problems finding people to teach. Getting them to come to church is the more challenging part, so we hope to focus on helping all of these people have a desire to come and see what church is like in the coming weeks. The coolest part of this finding week was when President Huntsman showed up to our apartment to film one of the daily videos and gave us a referral for a cashier at the 7-11 across the street. He talked with him for a few minutes and found out that he used to meet with missionaries. So we went over there the next day and met him and he's pretty interested in meeting up with us. How cool is that?! Nothing's better than your mission president finding people for us to teach! We love President Huntsman!

Today's another Zone activity at the mission home, barbecuing and playing basketball and volleyball with a bunch of missionaries is always fun. I hope you all have a fun and safe 4th of July! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Elder Smith and I after our exchange. He's from Arizona and
we both love In-N-Out. He insisted on taking this picture, and
for some reason gave me a Krispy Kreme hat to wear. Gotta
love In-N-Out! (This is the car I drive around)

Happy 4th of July, from your local missionaries.