Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 26,2016 BLIZZARD!!!!

Dear Family and Friends,

I made it here safely to Washington DC! President Huntsman welcomed all of us new missionaries to the airport on Wednesday! He and his wife are so awesome! They took us to the Lincoln memorial and the Washington Monument before we went to the mission home which was super
cool. There is so much history here that I am excited to be around! We each got to spend a few minutes alone getting to know President Huntsman. He's great! He advised all of us to be strictly obedient to the mission rules and God's commandments if we want to be successful. One piece of advice I particularly liked was that we "need to make the choice each day to be happy" and that if we do that, we will be much more effective in fulfilling our purpose as representatives of Jesus
Thursday was the transfer meeting, where we all got our first companions. My trainer is Elder Yeager! He's so great and I'm super excited to get to work with him for at least the next 6 weeks! He's been out here since September. Elder Yeager is a baller, so we've been enjoying beating all the other Elders at basketball! He grew up in Sheridan, Wyoming and Lehi, Utah. The area that we cover is Centreville, in the Centreville 1st ward. Our area doesn't get a car so we are on foot or bike most of the time, which is no problem! A lot of missionaries told me that this is one of their favorite areas to serve! The members here are super awesome and the people we get to work with are sweet!
We spent my first couple days meeting some of the members of the ward and meeting with some of the current investigators and less active members. They're all super nice and I've already had some mothers say that us missionaries are their adopted sons. But don't worry Mom you can never be replaced!
I'm already amazed at the diversity here! We have copies of the Book of Mormon in our apartment in about 15 different languages because there are people everywhere.
Blizzard!!! The weather has been crazy here. I'm definitely not in California anymore! Apparently it's been a pretty nice winter with barely any rain or snow the past couple months, but of course the day I show up it starts snowing. They projected it to be the biggest snowstorm in the DC and Virginia area for the last few years, predicting 28-32 inches of snow. There's definitely more than that in a ton of places, up to 40 inches! Some cars are entirely covered in snow! It ended up snowing all day Friday and Saturday. There's no better way to preach the gospel than to go help people shovel some snow! We walked a decent amount in the blizzard on Friday and Saturday, wearing more layers of clothes than I ever have in my life. There were pretty much no cars on the streets other than the snowplows, so we walked in the middle of the streets where it was flat, because if we tried to walk on the sidewalk we'd be walking in two to three  feet of snow. People looked confused as they drove by seeing us walking, but we were glad to get to help some people out. Our arms are super sore from all the shoveling we've been doing, but it's been fun!
Church was actually cancelled on Sunday, which was a bummer, but it's crazy how much snow is piled up everywhere. The mission President advised us to not go too far from our apartments and to stay safe in the blizzard. So we've been doing extra studying and planning inside.
The first lesson I got teach was to Amy, a single mother, and her two kids Kadija (8) and Omar (6). They are from Sierra Leon, Africa. They are amazing! They are getting ready to be baptized in a few weeks! Amy is nervous to make this step in her life but she knows that this is what God wants for her and her family. Her faith is super strong and she wants her kids to grow up "knowing the word of God." Her accent is super sweet! I'm excited to continue working with them. We haven't
been able to meet with a ton of people yet due to the storm, but we've tried to make the most of it.
My first week in the field has been great and I can't wait to get to work! Centreville is an awesome area and I can't wait to start working with the members here! I know that as members get involved in missionary work, they can grow closer with their families and with Heavenly Father, as they share His gospel with those around them.
Elder Yeager and I are going to emphasize that every member should be a missionary and encourage them to share the gospel along with us. 
Well, I'm alive and was safe in the blizzard, but it was pretty crazy!
I got a nice cold welcome to the Washington DC area. I love you all at home and I pray for your everyday! Have a great week!

-Elder Duvall

(My p-days are Monday's, but this week was switched to Tuesday. I'll be writing on Mondays.)

January 21,2016  Elder Duvall and Elder Yeager after the "Transfer Meeting"

Friday night (1/22) walking back to our apartment. This road is normally super busy but there were no cars other than snow plows this night. This was towards the beginning of the blizzard before it got super bad.
This was Saturday morning (1/23). Constant snowing all through the night and continued to pile up throughout Saturday and Sunday. To the point where you couldn't even see these two cars.
2016-01-25 Centreville, VA Ended up with up to 4 feet of snow in some areas!

2016-01-25 Centreville, VA

Friday, January 22, 2016

UPDATE: Elder Duvall's companion is Elder Yeager and his first area is Centreville 1st Ward

I was so excited last night (January 21st) when I received the following communication
 and picture from Sister Brenda Gore from the Centreville 1st Ward:

Hello Sister Duvall, your wonderful missionary is here in the Centreville 1st ward. We are taking good care of him. He and Elder Yeager are set with food and all other things they need to get through the crazy weekend we are about to have! We are excited to get to know Elder Duvall!!! Thank you for sending your son! -Brenda Gore"
I replied"Oh my goodness! How cool is that! So are you a member of the Centreville 1st ward? Did you have him over for dinner today? You must have missionaries out serving yourself if you would do this for a missionary mom!!! You just made my day! Thank you so much!Yes, we hear there is a huge storm coming like they're expecting 30 inches of snow this weekend! I do hope the missionaries are safe and that they don't have to ride bikes in the near future!"
Sister Gore replied: "I am member if the Centreville 1st ward. Unfortunately for us they had a dinner appointment with another family. But I had collected a bunch of food for them for the weekend since they will likely not be able to get to their dinner appointments. They stopped by to get their food, so we were able to meet your son. They were out visiting families with our Bishop tonight. Our son returned in July from serving in the California Redlands mission and our oldest daughter is in the California Roseville mission, Redding Area, she has been out about 2 months. I doubt they will be riding bikes until later next week. It will take a while until the roads are clear enough to ride a bike. "
I responded to Sister Gore: "Thank you for taking care of the missionaries!  Elder Duvall's twin sister will be receiving her mission call sometime in the near future. Her call has been assigned but has not been received yet."  
Sister Gore replied: "How exciting to be waiting for a mission call for your daughter!!! We love the missionaries, I wanted you to know that there are many people here who will be looking out for him." 

January 21st 2016 Elder Duvall and Elder Yeager- Centreville 1st Ward

Elder Duvall's first area is the Centreville 1st Ward in Centreville, VA

Thursday, January 21, 2016

January 20th SLC to DC Elder Duvall arrives safely in Washington DC and is ready to serve!

1-20-2016 A kind man saw Elder Duvall putting quarter after quarter in a payphone at the airport as he talked with his mom, dad, and sister Jennifer and he offered to let him use his phone to call us. Before boarding the plane from SLC to Reagan airport in DC the kind man took this picture of  Elder Duvall and Elder Belnap 

After the flight landed in DC, I (Elder Duvall's mom) received a text message
 from the kind man who loaned Elder Duvall his phone in the SLC airport.
His message said "Everyone is safe, Pic to follow. You have a wonderful son!" Here is the picture he sent.
This is Elder Jeremy Duvall meeting Sister Huntsman for the first time.

1-20-2016 Elder Duvall with all of the new DC South missionaries
with the Washington Monument in the background 

1-20-2016 Elder Duvall with President and Sister Huntsman in front of the Lincoln Memorial."Brother and Sister Duvall, we have your son here in Northern Virginia. A quick stop in our Nations Capital, dinner at the mission home, now hopefully he's fast asleep. Training in the morning, then off with his new companion.
We LOVE him already."
President and Sister Huntsman

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Week 2 January 15, 2016

1-10-2016 This is everyone going to my mission (not including the 3 other people that are Spanish speaking).
Fri 1/15/16 1:31 PM
Dear Family and Friends,
Well I've been here for about a week and a half and it has flown by so fast! It feels like I just got here yesterday, but at the same time it feels like I've been here for a month because I have learned so much!
     I leave on Wednesday morning (Jan. 20th), along with 13 other missionaries where I will fly from SLC to Washington D.C. where we will meet the mission President!
Throughout the last week, we have learned a lot about teaching and we have practiced A LOT. We teach lessons almost twice a day to "investigators" and it has been awesome getting to know them and learning what they need to know about the gospel that will be able to bless their lives.
     On Tuesday, we had a devotional from Neil L. Anderson from the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. It was so cool having an apostle of the Lord come and speak to all of us here at the MTC. He focused His words on the Jesus Christ and how He should always be at the center of our work. If we aren't constantly teaching and testifying and Jesus Christ, we aren't fulfilling our purpose as missionaries. We represent Him, and we wear His name on our chest everyday, which means we need to strive to always do what He would do. He taught a lot about Christ's doctrine and how that should always be our focus.
     After the devotional, we had a district meeting, where our district all shared thoughts about what we learned from Elder Anderson and what the Spirit taught us as we listened to him speak. Being the district leader, I had the privilege to guide the discussion, which was awesome! I encouraged everyone to share, and I was able to comment on everyone else's thoughts with my testimony of what they each spoke about, and the Spirit was so strong in that meeting!
     On Wednesday, during one of our classes, we watched a video from Elder Holland that was a previous MTC devotional. It's pretty cool that only the MTC has access to most of the devotionals given here, and they can't be found anywhere else online. In this particular talk, Elder Holland talked about the story of Peter and the other apostles that were out fishing (after Jesus Christ had already been crucified and resurrected) and then Jesus came to them and asked Peter 3 times if he loved Him, and Peter responded each time that he did. After the 3rd time, when he answered sincerely that he loved the Savior, the Savior responded and told Him to "feed my sheep." The Savior was disappointed that His apostles went back to their old ways of fishing now that He was gone. Relating this to missionary work, Elder Holland taught us that as missionaries, we need to leave behind our "nets" and our "fish" and our "boats," and focus on becoming "fishers of men." As a missionary, I won't be able to be as effective as the Lord wants me to be, if I continually thought about my life before I came here to serve my mission. The next two years, I have the opportunity to share what I know to be true, to help other people "come unto Christ and be perfected in Him" and I won't be able to do that if I am not entirely focused on the work.
     After listening to a portion of this talk from Elder Holland, I decided that I am going to try my best to keep the phrase "forget yourself and go to work" always in my mind. If I ever get any feelings of frustration, doubt, discouragement, laziness, anger, homesickness (the list can go on and on), I will tell myself in my mind to "forget yourself and go to work!"
     I've learned so much from all of my teachers, my Branch Presidency, and other missionaries that it would take me hours to email everything (but I'm doing a good job recording a lot in my journal every night). But if I could say one major thing that I've learned this week, it is that one of the best ways you can find your testimony is to constantly share it. I've heard it said that you can often "find your testimony in the bearing of it." I already had a solid testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel before coming here, but my testimony has been enhanced a ton as I've had the opportunity to share it all the time with those in my district.
     I've been able to go to the Provo Temple twice while here at the MTC and it has been awesome! It's comforting to know that so many people pray for the missionaries and our safety.
     I can't wait to fly out to DC in a few more days and I'm excited to let everyone know all about it!! Love you all!
Elder Duvall

1-08-2016 Ran into my roommate Elder (Sam) Bratsman.
He is headed to serve in Las Vega

1-08-2016 Ran into a good friend from school, Elder Stapley

Add 2016-01-10 Elder Duvall's district -
Elders are all going to Washington DC South Mission
2016-01-10 Sister Livingston and Sister Hyer
(sister Hyer is from Moses Lake)

1-10-2016 DC Boys
01-10-2016  Elder Duvall's district The Elders are all going to
Washington DC South Mission, the sisters are going to Chicago IL West

1-10-2016 This is everyone going to my mission
(not including the 3 other people that are Spanish speaking).

Elder Duvall was excited to run into his cousin, Dee Davis
at the MTC!  Dee is a French teacher at the MTC

1-19-2016 Elder Duvall gave the closing prayer at the
MTC devotional and met this couple, Elder and Sister Sowby, who served previously
in NYNY North mission with Elder Danny Duvall.  When they saw
Elder Jeremy Duvall they knew that he must be
Danny Duvall's brother. They also served in DC South
 so it was fun for Jeremy to meet them on his last night
before he shipped out to DC South.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

January 8, 2016 My first couple days in the Missionary Training Center have been awesome!

January 8, 2016

Dear family and friends! My first couple days in the Missionary Training Center have been awesome! It wasn't too hard for me to say bye because I know that what I am doing is right! My companion is Elder Belnap and he is from Twin Falls, Idaho. He is super funny and he definitely has a different personality than me. It is awesome learning how to work with different people and learning to love them despite our differences. My district consists of me and 5 other elders, and 4 sister missionaries. All 6 of the elders are going to the Washington D.C. South Mission so I am super excited to get to know them because I will likely see them all later on in my mission. Their names are Elder Belnap, Elder Jones, Elder Hart, Elder Meldrum, and Elder Norton. The sisters in my district are going to the Chicago, Illinois West Mission. I already feel like a family with my district. Speaking of my district, I was assigned to be the District Leader yesterday after meeting with our Branch President, President Lords. I am super excited to serve my district in this capacity! My zone consists of 3 districts with about 10 people in each district. Some of the missions that these elders and sisters are going are DC South, Chicago West, NY NY North, some in Los Angeles, and a couple others. I am already learning and growing so much. The spirit is so strong here at the MTC and I know that the programs here are inspired by the Lord.
I arrived to the MTC on Wednesday along with 400 other missionaries. It seemed a little overwhelming the first few hours but I found comfort in the knowledge that Heavenly Father knows and loves each of us personally. All of the new missionaries had a meeting with the MTC presidency Wednesday night. While all 400 of us are all going throughout the world, some learning languages, and others speaking English, they stressed the importance that all of us will be learning an additional language: the language of the spirit. President Burgess taught us that we all can and will learn how the spirit works with us individually. We all learn and recognize the spirit differently, but as we study and teach the gospel of Jesus Christ with sincere desire, then we will be able to learn how the spirit works through us. In our first meeting as a zone, we all went around the room simply testifying of Jesus Christ and what we know to be true about Him. It was awesome listening to everyone testify of Jesus Christ, his life, example, Atonement and resurrection. It was cool to focus our first night on Him, because He truly is the root of our work as missionaries. As we share the gospel with others, we will strive to teach, serve, and love just as He did.
On Thursday, we studied A LOT and we practiced teaching A LOT. We went to different classes where we learned about the missionary purpose and how to best work with people. Our purpose as missionaries is to "Invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end." I learned that the best way to be able to teach people is to first love them, get to know them and their needs, and then follow the Spirit as we teach them. On Thursday night we met with our branch. Our whole branch each went around sharing brief testimonies of what we know to be true. Branch President Lords wanted us to speak no longer than a minute, so it was really interesting to see what people focused their testimonies on. Everyone bore simple testimonies on the basics of the gospel: that the Book of Mormon is the true word of God, that Jesus Christ's gospel and His authority was restored back to the earth through the prophet Joseph Smith, that we have a living prophet Thomas S. Monson on the earth today who receives divine guidance and revelation from our Father in heaven, and that we can pray to God to know these things to be true. Listening to everyone bear powerful testimonies about these basic doctrines of our church brought comfort to me. One thing that I worried about coming into the mission was not having the best scriptural knowledge, particularly with the Bible, but that's okay! I might not know a whole lot, but I know enough. It reminds me of 1st Nephi chapter 11, where Nephi is asked "Knowest thou the condescension of God?" and he responds by saying "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things." Nephi recognized that he doesn't know everything, but he focused on what he did know to be true. He simply testified that he knows that God loves all his children. I would like to echo Nephi's testimony that God DOES love all of us, and he knows us, and he wants us to return to live with Him. I know that receiving, accepting, and living the Gospel of Jesus Christ is how we can return to live with our families, in the presence of God, forever. I know that Jesus Christ died for each one of us, and because he suffered, we don't have to. Because of Him we can repent be cleansed of sin. Because of Him we can receive eternal life. Because of Him we can find comfort, peace, and happiness in this life despite everything that we may go through. I don't know everything, but I do know enough. I know that as I learn to focus on the basic doctrines of the church, and testify of what I do know to be true, that I can be an effective tool for the Lord to work through. I know that there are people waiting in northern Virginia that are waiting for me and my testimony and I can't wait to get out there and work!
My district flies out to D.C. on Wednesday, January 20th! Two weeks from the time I arrived on January 6th. That's not a lot of time here, but I am trying my best to M.T.C. (make time count!).
Love you all!!

-Elder Duvall
Left to Right: Elder Belnap, Elder Duvall, Elder Meldrum, Elder Norton, Elder Jones, and Elder Hart

Left to right: Duvall, Jones, Hart, and Belnap

Friday, January 1, 2016

It's almost time!

Hey guys! I will be going into the MTC next week on Wednesday, January 6th. My Mom will be running this blog while I'm gone the next two years. She will be posting my weekly emails on here for everyone to see. If you want to send me an email, my email address is jeremy.duvall@myldsmail.com.

Love you all!

Elder Duvall