Monday, March 28, 2016

March 28, 2016 Week Full of Service

3-28-2016 Week Full of Service
I hope you all had a great Easter Sunday! I'm currently in the Library of Congress sending this email! We were able to get access to acquiring library cards to be able to come and do some gospel study in
the main reading room in here this morning! It's an amazing place! It's cool because there's less than 50 people in here right now, and hundreds of people are walking by the window in the upper level
looking down into the reading room. It's sweet that we were able to access getting a library card that allows us to study in here! We found a section of religious texts and were currently flipping through
different encyclopedias and historical books on Mormonism that are pretty interesting. I'll send some pictures later!

Anyways, we did a lot of service this week! 3 mornings in a row we were out doing service for multiple hours each day. 

The first day, we spent about 5 or 6 hours clearing out a whole backyard full of
branches, vines, and leaves for Sister Moore. She's from Trinidad & Tobago, and is super awesome! We filled about 25 to 30 of these huge trash bags!

The next day, our whole zone did some service for a man in the Centreville 2nd ward. He owns a big piece of land and has a lot of plans for the future for his property. We spent the day digging holes, planting trees, using machetes and clippers to clear low-lying branches off of trees, and then cleared and moved a ton of brush into a huge pile, which we then set on fire!
 Here's Elder Krambule and I with machetes.

This is some of the elders in our zone piled around a small tractor. 
You can see some of the smoke in the background from fire, 
which burned for hours until all of the branches, logs, and brush were all gone.

The third morning, we went to another members house in our ward, who is moving in a couple months and needs a lot of yardwork done in preparation for selling the house. We dug up a ton of roots from vines that have grown over their front and back lawn which took us a couple hours and we're going back again this week to help them out some more. 
Along with the three mornings/early afternoons of service we did this week, we also went to the Doxeys house a couple times last week to help them move pack up and move boxes in preparation for their moving at the end of April. 

This previous week felt a lot different than the last couple months, because we did not teach as many lessons or do as much finding, because we did so much service! It was a nice change in our normal routine to do some manual labor! Although we may not have taught as many lessons this week and done as much "missionary work" as we had in previous weeks, we both recognized the importance of serving others and serving God. Mosiah 2:17 states "And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God." So even though we felt like we needed to be out doing more teaching and finding, we know that serving and helping out other people is important! In reality, no matter what we're doing, we're always serving! When we meet with people and teach them about the gospel, we are serving them by helping them grow closer to our Savior. I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to help out a lot of different people this week!

On Friday we taught our second lesson, the Plan of Salvation, to an investigator named Ahmed. We met him two weeks ago at the end of four hours of tracting. He is about 25 and is a graduate of George Mason University, currently working on his masters degree there. We taught a sweet lesson along with two other missionaries from the Young Single Adult branch. They will get to continue teaching him now moving forward because he will start attending the YSA branch. He's excited to attend some of the YSA activities the next couple weeks and is even going to watch some of General Conference! We're slightly bummed that we don't get to continue teaching him because he's pretty solid! But in the end it doesn't really matter who teaches him as long as he's learning and growing closer to the Savior. 

Speaking of General Conference, I'm stoked for this weekend! It's always a great experience to listen to the prophet and apostles speak to us and give us guidance and direction! I know that if we listen to the conference this week with an open heart and mind, willing to act upon what we learn, that we will be able to be grow based on those things which we will learn! Also if we prepare questions in our minds that we want answered, I know that we can and will receive answers to those questions through listening to the leaders of the church speak! 

Just as an update, Michelle's baptism is going to be next Saturday, April 9th! And we're going to go to the Temple Visitors Center with her and her daughter Kaylie soon! And we're going to meet with Megan and her mother again this week as well! Megan is excited to be baptized at the end of April! We weren't able to meet with Luz last week, but we talked to her briefly and will hopefully get to have a lesson with her this week.

I studied a little about the Savior and the resurrection this week and in Matthew 28:19-20, the resurrected Savior tells his disciples to "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen."

I love that one of the first things the Savior tells His disciples after He's resurrected is that they need to go forth to serve and teach the people. And I love His promise that he will always be with us! I find so much comfort knowing that He will never leave us alone. However, we have the agency to choose whether or not we want to make Him a part of our lives. He promises that He will always be with us, but are we making the effort to allow Him to be involved in our daily lives? That's something I've been thinking about recently and I think it's interesting how many times in the scriptures that He promises that He will always be with us, and how many times we hear the phrase about his arm of mercy that is always stretched towards us. We need to utilize Him and make the effort which will allow Him to play a role in our lives, and when we do that, we can receive the blessings He promised us! I'm so grateful for our Savior and all that He has done and continues to do for each of us! Make Him a priority and let Him into your life. 
I hope you all have a great week! I love you all! 

Elder Duvall

Also, last Monday we got to go to the Air and Space Museum that it right next to the Dulles International Airport. Here's a few of my favorites:  US Discovery Space Shuttle! This museum was a super cool place to visit and has a lot of history inside it!
The Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird in the middle of this panoramic picture

The US Discovery Space Shuttle

And the Enola Gay which dropped the first Atomic bombs on Japan

We ate Easter dinner at the Doxey's house, and Sister Doxey (aka Momma Doxey) put together an Easter basket for us! We are so grateful to be able to go over to their house every week and visit with them! We had a great Easter dinner with them and had some quality conversation about Jesus Christ's atonement and resurrection. Sister Doxey gave a beautiful testimony of Jesus Christ and the role He plays in all of our lives. They are wonderful examples of people who know how to find "hope through the atonement of Christ" through all of their trials. I'm so grateful for our association with them and am sad that they will be moving in about a month.

Spent P-day today at the Library of Congress

We walked up here first, it's the one spot where the public can look down in through a window.But we knew where to go to get an ID card (in another building across the street) that allowed us to have access to go down and study. Snuck a couple pictures while we were down there!

Reading in the "Reading Room" of the Library of Congress. Elder Duvall, Elder Krambule, and Elder Shelley

Walked around the Capital a little bit and enjoyed the cherry blossoms!! It's a beautiful (but super short) spring season!

Monday, March 21, 2016

March 21, 2016 HAPPY EASTER!

This is our Zone this transfer.  Pretty similar to last transfer,
just a few changes with new companionships

Had some pretty sweet experiences this week! But I'll focus this letter on Thursday and Sunday!

So on Thursday (which was St. Patrick's Day), we decided to go tracting on a specific street in our area. We locked up our bikes and felt like we should start at the first house at the opposite end of the street from where our bikes were. So we walked to up to this first door and a lady named Luz, from Peru, answered the door. We began talking to her about the church and about what we do as missionaries. We asked her some questions about her beliefs and about her life. After talking for a few minutes, she started crying at the doorstep as she explained that she's been going through different trials in her life and she's been trying to reach out to God for help, but hasn't seen much guidance in her life or felt like she's received answers to her prayers. We taught her some of the basic doctrines of the church and promised her that whatever trials she's going through in her life, that this gospel can bless her and her family. Right as we were saying this, a little Hispanic boy starts walking up the steps towards us, and we moved off to the side assuming it was her son. This random
little boy stopped in between Elder Shelley and I, and told Luz "I just want you to know that what these missionaries are saying is true. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and I want to be a missionary just like them someday because this gospel has blessed my life and my families life." I was so confused as to where this boy came from, but we asked him to tell Luz how the gospel has blessed his life and he replied that his family has struggled financially but the Lord always prepared a way for them to make it through and that his older brother was able to go serve a mission. We thanked him for sharing his testimony and then Elder Shelley and I both bore our testimony to Luz and said that everything this little boy said was true! Then he skipped his way along back into a car that was parked nearby. Luz felt the spirit of the message and was so thankful that we were able to meet her and talk with her about God and Jesus Christ. We will be meeting with her again on Thursday! We were amazed with this whole experience with this random little boy and meeting Luz! It was super sweet!
After saying by to Luz, we went to the car from which the boy came and we met Sister Chirino! She is a member of the local Spanish ward and is from El Salvador. She said her son, Esteban, saw us missionaries at the door and told his Mom he wanted to go bear his  testimony to the lady at the door, so he did! What a brave little 10 year old! They happened to be parked waiting for the school bus to drop off a couple other of her kids. Esteban happened to be sick that day so he didn't go to school. Thankfully he was able to be there at that time, to testify simply but powerfully of the truthfulness of this gospel! Sister Chirino explained how excited Esteban is to be a missionary someday and she thanked us for being examples to his son. But we thanked her and her son for being the examples! We were glad that we decided to start at Luz's end of the street so that we were able to have this cool experience!

Then, that whole day of tracting, we didn't meet one rude or negative person! Everyone was respectful, even if they had no interest! We met another family from Peru, that didn't speak any English, but I was able to share a brief testimony in Spanish and give them a Spanish pass along card with the Spanish missionaries number. Then we met a Chinese guy that Elder Shelley was able to speak to in Mandarin a little bit. And everyone else we talked to was super nice! Even the couple agnostic or Atheist that we met were respectful, rather than the typical slammed door in the face, they gave us a few minutes of their time to talk. At our last door, before we had to head towards our Bishops house to teach Michelle, we met a man Terry who let us in his home and we taught him a brief message about the Restoration of the gospel. He was a basketball player that played at VCU. He was a kind man and has a nice family with a couple little kids and expressed small interest in learning more, but he recognized God as the source of the blessings in his life and he appreciates learning about other faiths.

Then we booked it over to our Bishops house and made it there just on time for our lesson with Michelle! This time we taught her a brief lesson about the importance of keeping the Sabbath Day holy. She has made great progress this last week with keeping the Word of Wisdom and is willing to make changes to make the Sabbath Day a more sacred day each week. Being St. Patrick's day, we felt like we had a pretty "lucky" day, but in reality it was the Lord just placing good people in our path as we worked! We've heard "Luck" defined as "when preparation meets opportunity." We believe that that's true!

Sunday was sweet! Michelle attended all 3 hours of church for the first time this week and enjoyed Sunday School and relief society. Her baptism is just a couple weeks away! We're meeting with her again tonight and having FHE with her and her daughter and the bishops family.

I don't know if I've mentioned Megan at all in any of my emails yet! Megan is 18 years old and about to graduate high school in a couple months and is best friends with another girl in the ward. She has been waking up and going to seminary every morning with her friend for the past few months! She's been going to church and attending mutual as well. She's enjoyed learning every morning about the gospel, but has been hesitant and nervous to meet with us. I met Megan my first Sunday in the ward at the end of January, and she finally agreed to meet with us at her friends house to have a lesson with the Wilkinson family! Even though we are set apart as missionaries, we're still normal people that are basically her same age, and I think she finally realizes that. Last night, we taught Megan and her mother at the Wilkinsons home. It was a great discussion and Megan thanked us for "helping her feel the spirit more and recognize the blessings in her life." She accepted the invitation to be baptized! She was super prepared and is excited to make this step in her life! I know that this is a crucial time for her as she's about to graduate and go off to school, and I know that nothing will give her more guidance, direction, peace, and happiness into her life than this true gospel! Her friends have been great examples to her and have helped her out a lot in her life! Her mother was open and receptive, but is not on the same spiritual level as her daughter at this point. But she's supportive of her daughter and is interested in learning as her daughter continues to learn! We look forward to working with them both over the next few weeks!

Given that Easter is this week, I thought I would share a portion of Jeffrey R. Hollands talk "None Were With Him" from April 2009. In describing the final moments of the Saviors life, Jeffrey R. Holland stated:
"With all the conviction of my soul I testify that He did please His Father perfectly and that a perfect Father did not forsake His Son in that hour. Indeed, it is my personal belief that in all of Christ’s mortal ministry the Father may never have been closer to His Son than in these agonizing final moments of suffering. Nevertheless, that the supreme sacrifice of His Son might be as complete as it was voluntary and solitary, the Father briefly withdrew from Jesus the comfort of His Spirit, the support of His personal presence. It was required, indeed it was central to the significance of the Atonement, that this perfect Son who had never spoken ill nor done wrong nor touched an unclean thing had to know how the rest of humankind--us, all of us--would feel when we did commit such sins. For His Atonement to be infinite and eternal, He had to feel what it was like to die not only physically but spiritually, to sense what it was like to have the divine Spirit withdraw, leaving one feeling totally, abjectly, hopelessly alone. But Jesus held on. He pressed on. The goodness in Him allowed faith to triumph even in a state of complete anguish. The trust He lived by told Him in spite of His feelings that divine compassion is never absent, that God is always faithful, that He never flees nor fails us. When the uttermost farthing had then been paid, when Christ’s determination to be faithful was as obvious as it was utterly invincible, finally and mercifully, it was “finished.” Against all odds and with none to help or uphold Him, Jesus... restored physical life where death had held sway and brought joyful, spiritual redemption out of sin, hellish darkness, and despair. With faith in the God He knew was there, He could say in triumph, “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.” 
"...because Jesus walked such a long, lonely path utterly alone, we do not have to do so. His solitary journey brought great company for our little version of that path--the merciful care of our Father in Heaven, the unfailing companionship of this Beloved Son, the consummate gift of the Holy Ghost, angels in heaven, family members on both sides of the veil, prophets and apostles, teachers, leaders, friends. All of these and more have been given as companions for our mortal journey because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the Restoration of His gospel. Trumpeted from the summit of Calvary is the truth that we will never be left alone nor unaided, even if sometimes we may feel that we are. Truly the Redeemer of us all said: “I will not leave you comfortless: [My Father and] I will come to you [and abide with you]"... 
"As we approach this Holy Week... may we declare ourselves to be more fully disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, not in word only and not only in the flush of comfortable times but in deed and in courage and in faith, including when the path is lonely and when our cross is difficult to bear. This Easter week and always, may we stand by Jesus Christ “at all times and in all things, and in all places that [we] may be in, even until death,” for surely that is how He stood by us when it was unto death and when He had to stand entirely and utterly alone. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen." 

This is a great talk! I know that Jesus Christ truly died and suffered for each one of us individually. I know that he was resurrected and that He is risen! I know that He lives and that we can feel His influence in our lives as we strive to be like Him. I'm so grateful for His atonement and resurrection and the opportunity we have to overcome sin and death because of Him! May we all remember Him, not only during Easter season, but throughout the year! We are never alone! I find so much comfort in that and hope you all can too!

I hope you all have a great week and a wonderful Easter! Love you all!

Elder Duvall

We started to find some pretty sweet bike trails this week that cut through some different neighborhoods.
Had to cross this little stream on our way!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

March 18, 2016 Elder Duvall "rides" a Harley Davidson Motorcycle

"Brother and Sister Duvall,
Your son, Elder Duvall, is currently serving in my ward and as I've done for the past 10 years I've taken some pictures which I believe you'll enjoy. Two of the pictures are taken with his companion, Elder Shelley. Please know that your son is doing a great job in serving the Lord and I have no doubt has and will continue to help teach the gospel to many of our brothers and sisters. 
Take care and God Bless.
Brother Steve Shannon
Centreville, Virginia"
"Brother Shannon had us take some pictures on his 2014 Harley-Davidson
Ultra Limited CVO after we ate dinner with he and his wife. He said
this bike is currently worth $52,000!
Keep an eye out for two missionaries cruising around on "Scarlet" (His
name for the bike). That'll never happen, but it would be a funny site!" Elder Duvall

Monday, March 14, 2016

DC Temple with Amy, finding people, Michelle, Stay By the Tree!

This week we decided we would be in "full-finding mode." So whenever we weren't at a scheduled lesson or appointment, we were out talking to people on the streets and knocking doors. The weather has warmed up quite a bit this week it reminded me of California! I'm just not looking forward to the imminent humidity that will start up soon.  Because it's been nice outside, there's finally a lot of people out and about, so it's easy for us to contact people! On Tuesday, after hours of rejection and uninterest, we were about to head towards our dinner appointment, but decided to talk to one more person that we saw walking through his neighborhood. A 13 year old kid named Eric! We thought he was about 16 or 17, but found out his actual age later on. We shared a brief message with him on the street, and gave him our card and number, but he was in a rush to go (because of an angry mother yelling from a car about 30 yards away for him to get in the car). We were sad that he had to leave so quickly because he was a nice kid and seemed interested in learning, and we weren't able to get any of his contact info. Later that night, to our surprise, he texted our number and said he wanted to meet with us soon to talk more! So a couple days later we went over and taught him! He had a lot of interesting and unexpected questions prepared for us and was really smart for only being 13 years old. His parents didn't really even acknowledge us when we were at their house, but we will go back again in the next few days and teach him some more. We've been doing a lot of tracting and street contacting recently, which I hadn't done much of last transfer, but we have a good time doing it!\

On Wednesday, we had the privilege of going with Amy, along with a lot of the ward members, to the Washington DC Temple! I was super excited to be able to see and go to this temple for the first time, but I was more excited for Amy to be able to go inside! She had a wonderful experience there and shared her testimony to some of the ward members about how much she appreciates temple work and what it's doing for her family. She was able to participate in baptisms on behalf of her two grandmothers! I was able to help her with doing two of her male ancestors. The temple is extremely beautiful and the spirit is so strong there! Afterwards, we were able to spend about 2 hours at the visitors Center. The sister missionaries there did a great job of showing us around and explaining more to Amy about the temple. We were able to watch a couple different films while we were here. First we watched an awesome film about families! It was a great film that teaches us the importance of families, how we can strengthen families, and the eternal nature of families. While watching it, I couldn't help but think of my own family and how amazing it is! I'm so blessed to have 2 incredible parents who do so much for our family and great examples of love and sacrifice! I'm also thankful to have 6 wonderful siblings who are great examples to me! I am so glad that I know that I will be able to live with my family forever! We also watched "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" inside the huge theater that they have there at the visitors center. We were the only ones in the entire theater but it was cool that they let us watch that film in there! Amy loved the films and is going to bring Omar and Kadija back sometime soon to show them around the visitors center and walk around the temple!

We met with Michelle and her daughter twice this week! Once at our Ward Mission leaders house (Brother Goehring) and once at the Bishops house. At the first one we taught her about faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. She started to open up more during this lesson and asked more questions than she has in the past, so that's a good sign! Her original baptismal date was scheduled for March 19th, but we still have some important visits with her and don't want her to feel rushed into it, so she decided that April 2nd will be a better date to work towards. She has been nervous to pray vocally, but she started saying personal prayers. By the time we taught her on Sunday, she finally prayed out loud at the conclusion of our lesson. It was great! Her daughter Kaylie is excited for her mom to be baptized just like she was last year. On Sunday we taught her about obedience to commandments, and specifically about the Word of Wisdom. She had a few concerns regarding the Word of Wisdom, but is willing to strive to do her best to live it! We were bold in asking her why she wants to be baptized. We wanted to make sure she wasn't just doing it for her daughter, but for herself. She opened up and explained how she likes all the good that has come into her life as she's been learning and growing over the last month. She stated how much she has loved all of the kindness and love that's been expressed from the members of the ward. And most importantly, she recognized that something has been missing in her life, and realizes that this is it! It was sweet to hear her say all of this! We are glad that she is continuing to grow closer to Christ as she applies the things that she's learning in her life. We will be meeting with her two more times this week!

There were a few other cool lessons we taught this week to random people that we met out on the streets. In one neighborhood alone, we met someone from Morocco, Iran, Trinidad and Tobago, Philippines, Guatemala, Argentina, Thailand, and Vietnam, and a couple more that I can't remember right now, so that was pretty cool!

As far as a spiritual thought goes, I'm super excited for General Conference coming up in a few weeks so I decided to start looking through some past conference talks and I came across "Stay By the Tree" by Kevin W. Pearson from last April. I was reminded of a family home evening I a few months ago at home where we discussed this talk. I love all of the counsel he gives in the talk, but particularly liked the following portions of his talk. In the Book of Mormon, 1st Nephi chapters 8 and 11, we read about Lehi's vision of the tree of life. In his talk, Kevin W Pearson explains that "The tree of life is the central focus in Lehi’s dream. Everything points to the tree of life. The tree represents Christ, who is the clear manifestation of the love of God. The fruit is His infinite Atonement and is great evidence of God’s love. Eternal life with our loved ones is sweeter and more desirable than any other thing. To realize this gift, we must “come unto Christ, and be perfected in him.” He is “the way, the truth, and the life.” We can fill our lives with accomplishment and well-doing, but in the end, if we do not enter into sacred covenants to follow Christ and faithfully keep them, we will have utterly and completely missed the mark."
This is so true! There is no greater gift than Christ's Atonement, and if we don't utilize it and "become perfected in Him" than what are we doing?! We are slowly drifting off the path that leads to him. Later on in his talk, he states that "Once we enter into covenants with God, there is no going back. Giving in, giving up, and giving out are not options. In the kingdom of God, there is a standard of excellence for exaltation. It requires valiant discipleship! There is no room for average or complacent disciples. Average is the enemy of excellence, and average commitment will prevent you from enduring to the end.

 If you are struggling, confused, or spiritually lost, I urge you to do the one thing I know will get you back on track. Begin again to prayerfully study the Book of Mormon and live its teachings every day, every day, every day! I testify of the profound power in the Book of Mormon that will change your life and strengthen your resolve to follow Christ. The Holy Ghost will change your heart and help you see “things as they really are.”

I love this! The message is simple. We can't accept being 'average or complacent' on a daily basis, but rather we need to endure to the end by keeping ALL of God's commandments throughout our lives. Nobody is going to be perfect and we all screw up at times! But that's what is so amazing about His plan for us. Through Jesus Christ and His Atonement, we can get back on the 'straight and narrow path' that leads us to eternal life! I'm so grateful for my loving parents and their example to my family and I! I remember my Dad emphasizing the phrase "every day, every day, every day!" We won't be able to faithfully endure towards eternal life if we aren't praying, studying our scriptures and applying its teachings into our lives, and striving to do our best "EVERY DAY, EVERY DAY, EVERY DAY." We know what we have to do. Sometimes we just need to swallow our pride, and make a leap of faith and make the changes that we know we need to make in our lives. I know that if we can do that, we will be much happier and will be on the path towards eternal life with our Father in Heaven and our families. Make the choice now! It's never too late. We can either remain being 'average and complacent' or we can take a leap of faith and start doing the things that will not only get us back onto the path, but will keep us on the path!

Kevin W Pearson's concludes his talk by saying that "enduring to the end is the great test of discipleship. Our daily discipleship will determine our eternal destiny. Awaken unto God, cling to truth, [make and] keep your sacred temple covenants, and stay by the tree!"

Love you all and hope you have a great week! :) Stay by the tree, and if you're not by it, get by it!

Elder Duvall

Here are some pictures from our trip to the Temple and the Visitors Center with Amy! She had a wonderful experience there and is excited to go back soon!

Monday, March 7, 2016

New Transfer, New Comp!

My first transfer came to a close this week and we started our second transfer. Elder Yeager got transferred over to Fort Belvoir, which is in Alexandria. We spent a lot of time on Tuesday and Wednesday driving around for him to say a lot of goodbyes to people that he's grown to love in his 6 months here.

My new companion is Elder Shelley! He was born and raised in Provo, Utah and is Japanese/Hawaiian/American. He's a great guy and I'm excited to get to work with him here in Centreville! Elder Shelley came to the mission the same time that Elder Yeager did, so they knew each other from the MTC. Along with transfers, we also no longer have a car in our area, so we will be on bike or foot. It was nice being able to use a car for most of last transfer, so it will be an adjustment no longer having a car. But we're ready and excited to experience missionary life in its typical fashion!

On Wednesday night last week, Amy went with us to the Somkey's home. Brother and Sister Somkey are family history consultants and they were able to help her prepare some names to be able to take to the temple. It was difficult to find information on because there aren't many records online from people in Africa and Sierra Leone, but she had enough information to be able to get about 6 of her more recent ancestors to be able to participate in baptisms for the dead. There are so many people on this earth that never have the opportunity, during their lifetime, to hear about Jesus Christ and his teachings. I love how God has provided a way for those people to learn about and accept his teachings after they leave from this life. It wouldn't be fair if the millions of people that never have a chance to learn about His gospel are forgotten. Amy is super excited to go on Wednesday to the temple to perform ordinances on behalf of her ancestors! We're going to be able to be there with her, so I'm excited to go to the DC temple for the first time! And we will take her over to the visitors center for a little bit afterwards! It is our stake temple day this Wednesday, so there will be a lot of ward members there with us supporting Amy!

Saturday morning, I got to go with Elder Shelley to his previous area to attend a baptism for someone that he and his previous companion have been teaching for a while. The man who was baptized is named Nuwan. He is a refugee, that was born in Sri Lanka and then lived in Thailand, that came to America about 5 months ago. His story is pretty miraculous. It was a beautiful service and I'm glad I was able to go to it!

Afterwards, Saturday was the first day that we went out on bikes. Our area is a decent size and it takes us about one and a half hours to ride from one end to the other, but it's all good, we're going to get in good shape!

Last night, we finished teaching Michelle about the Plan of Salvation at Bishop Duersch's home. It was an awesome lesson and we were able to address a few of her concerns and get her feeling more confident and comfortable with her decision to be baptized. We were praying that she would express a greater desire and level of excitement for baptism, and by the end of our lesson, she expressed that she "feels so much better about baptism" after the discussion was over because of the things she learned and the spirit she felt. I know that as we come to know and understand God's Plan of Salvation for us, we will have a greater desire to keep all of His commandments. As Michelle learned about where we came from, why we're here on the earth, and where we're going after this life, she was able to understand why baptism is an essential step to make on the path towards living with our Father in Heaven again someday. Her daughter, Kaylie, is a great example to her and it's awesome to see them grow closer together as Michelle continues to progress and learn more about the gospel.

Something that I liked in my studies this week came from 2 Nephi 4. This is Nephi speaking a few verses after his father, Lehi, died. Nephi catches himself complaining but then he remembers everything that he has been blessed with. He said:
26 O then, if I have seen so great things, if the Lord in his condescension unto the children of men hath visited men in so much mercy, why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow, and my flesh waste away, and my strength slacken, because of mine afflictions?
27 And why should I yield to sin, because of my flesh? Yea, why should I give way to temptations, that the evil one have place in my heart to destroy my peace and afflict my soul? Why am I angry because of mine enemy?
 28 Awake, my soul! No longer droop in sin. Rejoice, O my heart, and give place no more for the enemy of my soul.
 29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.
30 Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.
I love when he tells himself "why should my heart weep and my soul linger in the valley of sorrow." The Lord has shown him so many marvelous things and has blessed him and his family so much. Although they did go through many trials, Nephi was able to remember the experiences he's had and rely on those to get him through the tough times. His father passing away must've been really tough, but he puts his trust in the Lord and rejoices in Him instead of complaining and committing sin. I think this is an awesome example for us when we experience trials. We should all try to remember what the Lord has blessed us with and remember the experiences we've had. If we build upon and remember the positive, spiritual, and uplifting experiences that we've had in the past, it will be much easier for us to stay on the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven and make righteous decisions throughout our lives.

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all,
Elder Duvall

This is our friend Richard Knox! He's 76 years old, and we go over to his house every couple weeks to check up on him and see how things are going and usually spend an hour talking with him. He's such a nice man and loves talking with missionaries about a bunch of random stuff. He gives us a bunch of good advice! He shares stories from his life and lessons he's learned and it's always fun spending some time with him. He jokes around a lot and is a super funny guy! He's not really interested in the church, but he reads the Book of Mormon and has talked with missionaries for years. He thinks that missionary work is great and he loves asking us how our work is going and the people we are working with!

Sad saying bye to Elder Yeager!  

But I had a great first transfer with him and I am excited for him to go to the Fort Belvoir area!

Here's my new companion Elder Shelley! I'm super excited to work with him!
He is an awesome guy! Born and raised in Provo, Utah.