Monday, April 25, 2016

April 25, 2016 Looking forward to another great transfer!‏

It's the start of a new transfer! Still get to serve in Centreville! No longer in the trio, but still with Elder Shelley!

This is the only picture of us while we were in a trio the last week and a half before transfers. We enjoyed serving together with Elder Strawn and teaching some of the people in his ward. This picture was at a super good restaurant called Genghis Grill (similar to a Mongolian Grill).

My parents got to meet his parents in Provo this week! It was cool for us to see a picture of our families together.  
Elder Duvall's parents met Elder Shelley's parents Scott & Jamie Shelley 
Elder Duvall's family enjoyed meeting Elder Shelley's parents

As we were doing our weekly planning last week, we were trying to decide where to go that night. We both felt prompted to go check up on a certain lady from our ward. We didn't know why we were going there, but we biked the 30 minutes to her house. She answered the door and was so glad to see us! She had been sick and just barely lost her job, so she was feeling really down. We were able to comfort her and help her feel some hope and happiness moving forward by the time we left. She invited us in and introduced us to her son, who has been inactive in the church for a long time. We've been over to this house many times, but never met the son, because he just moved back in with his mom. He's a super cool guy and wants us to come back and talk with him about the gospel. We're excited to go back and help him feel the spirit and remember why he and his family joined the church 10 years ago. Another night we met another inactive father who has a wife and three kids that moved in over a month ago. He's the only member in his family, but he wants us to start teaching his 8 year old son! We hope that we can help him feel the spirit again in his life as we teach his son about the church. The father served a mission in Cambodia and told us some crazy stories from his mission! So we're also excited to meet with them again soon. It's important to introduce the gospel to people who don't have it in their lives, but it's equally important to help rekindle that spirit within people who've felt it in the past and have that testimony deep inside them. I know that through turning to Jesus Christ, these people can once again feel lasting peace and happiness that they have felt in the past.

We got to teach Amy’s relatives (her brother, sister in law, niece and nephew) a few times the last two weeks and we had a big family FHE where we all got together and watched the movie "Meet the Mormons." They all loved it! We were able to go to the baptism of Aminata and Sahid Jr this week! Amy gave a beautiful talk at their baptism! It's so great to hear testify so strongly about truth!

We taught Megan at her house this week! Bishop Duersch came with us and met her mother and father. They are a great family and are supportive of Megan's decision to be baptized! Megan "can't even express how excited" she is for her baptism! She and her mother actually came to Aminata and Sahid Jr's baptism on Saturday to see how it all works. We are so excited for the opportunity Megan has this Saturday to enter the waters of baptism as well! She is a great example to all of her friends and family!

This Sunday was ward conference in our ward so Bishop Duersch and our Stake President both spoke at sacrament meeting and church was great! After church we went with the Goehring family and Michelle and Kaylie up to the Washington DC Temple in Maryland. The weather was perfect! As we walked around the temple explaining to them the purpose of temples and why they're so important, I was reminded of President Monson’s conference talk from April 2015, called "Blessings of the Temple." He said: "As I think of temples, my thoughts turn to the many blessings we receive therein. As we enter through the doors of the temple, we leave behind us the distractions and confusion of the world. Inside this sacred sanctuary, we find beauty and order. There is rest for our souls and a respite from the cares of our lives.
Such an amazing place to be! I wish I could come here more often
Two of brother Goehrings kids, Kaden and Max! They're funny kids to be around and they enjoyed the visitors center! 

"As we attend the temple, there can come to us a dimension of spirituality and a feeling of peace which will transcend any other feeling which could come into the human heart. We will grasp the true meaning of the words of the Savior when He said:“Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you…Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

"Such peace can permeate any heart--hearts that are troubled, hearts that are burdened down with grief, hearts that feel confusion, hearts that plead for help."

Although we were not able to go into the temple yesterday, we definitely felt the peace and happiness of the temple walking around it and going into the visitor’s center! No place on earth can give us more guidance and peace than attending the temple! It's important to make attending the temple a priority. And if it's something we are currently unable to do, we need to set goals to be able to make it there. I'm so grateful for temples and the opportunity we have to learn and grow as we attend! They truly give us a glimpse of what heaven will be like! We watched the same video about eternal families that we watched at the beginning of March when we took Amy up there, and Michelle loved it! We all felt the spirit and she teared up a little bit at the end of the video. I'm so grateful for the temple and for the power of the Priesthood that allows us to be bound to our families for eternity!

We are looking forward to working hard this transfer!! I'm grateful that I get to stay here in Centreville!

I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Duvall

Kadija, Sahid Jr., Amiza, Aminata, Amy, Omar, and another cousin Abdul after the baptism.

The four of us missionaries with some of Amy's family right after the baptism of Aminata and Sahid Jr.
Aminata is Amy's sister-in-law and Sahid Jr. is Aminata's son. Aminata's husband Sahid Sr. wasn't able to make it to the baptism, but he will eventually be getting baptized as well! It's so great to see Amy's family follow her example and the example of the Savior! 

I love these kids!!!

A missionary in my district gave me this drum before he got transferred to another area. It is made with the same pattern and material that this tie is made from!
My brother Danny got me this African tie while serving his mission in New York City. Amy and Aminata loved this tie! They said the name of the pattern but I can't remember it. She said it is a popular Ghanaian pattern! And there's a cute baby picture of Jenny and I on the wall above my desk :)

We got to learn a little bit about bee-keeping last week while doing some service for a man the the Centreville 2nd ward!He just started doing this as a hobby and is starting to get some good honey from these bees! Here's a few pictures from that day! 


Enjoying the honeycomb!

Elder Duvall with his new bike(and his companion, Elder Shelley)

Monday, April 18, 2016

April 18,2016 JOY in the JOURNEY!

April 18-2016

Being in a trio this last week has been great! Its an entirely different dynamic, but we've enjoyed it. It's been cool covering both of the Centreville wards going back and forth for different teaching appointments. We got to meet and teach a couple of investigators that they're working with, including a family from Bolivia and a lady from Jamaica! Transfers are this Thursday, so we will no longer be in the trio once Elder Strawn gets a new companion.

We were able to have two lessons with Megan this last week that were both super great! We finished teaching her about the Plan of Salvation and then we had discussions on faith and repentance. She is super receptive and loves everything that she's learning! The spirit is always so strong in our visits with her. Brother and Sister Jonas are great examples to her and have solid testimonies of the gospel! It's so great to see how effective member missionary work is! Megan recognizes how this gospel has already been such a blessing in her life and she's excited to continue to progress towards baptism in a couple weeks! As Megan told us how much closer to God she's felt recently and how she knows this is the path she needs to take in her life, I couldn't help but think of the impact her decision is going to make. Not only is she being an example to her current family, but her decision to be baptized into the true church will be a tremendous blessing to her future family! Plus, she'll also eventually be able to participate in temple work to help bless her ancestors who didn't have the opportunity to accept Jesus Christ while on the earth.

The blessings of the gospel truly have an eternal impact! If my mother hadn't have joined the church while in her 20's, she would've never met my father and I wouldn't even exist! My 4 older brothers wouldn't have served missions and I wouldn't be here in Virginia sharing the joy it brings into my life, and my sister wouldn't be getting ready to go to Minneapolis, Minnesota to serve the people there. My family has been so blessed with our membership in the Lord's church, and now it's my privilege to help people receive the restored gospel into their lives so that they can enjoy the same blessings we've enjoyed through striving to live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Anyways, I can't wait for  Megan and I know that the decision she's making at this point in her life, being only 18 years old, will have a tremendous impact on generations of people!

Because we've been covering both the Centreville 1st and 2nd ward, I was able to meet and teach Sahid (Amy's brother), his wife Aminata,  and their son Sahid Jr. this week! They've been meeting with missionaries for over 6 months, and Aminata and Sahid Jr. are getting baptized this Saturday! When we told Amy they were getting baptized, she was SO happy for them! Amy's testimony is so strong and it's great to see that her family is able to enjoy the same peace and happiness that the gospel has brought into her life. Amy agreed to speak at the baptism and bear her testimony to the people there. I'm excited to be able to support them by attending their baptism this Saturday!

On Sunday night, we were able to go with Amy, Kadija and Omar, as well as Sahid Jr. to a New Member fireside that the mission puts on every 6 weeks or so. This time the fireside was up in Arlington at a church building that is super old. I'm pretty sure it was the oldest LDS church building in Virginia! The fireside was great! There were a bunch of new members that bore their testimony and shared their conversion stories explaining why and how they decided to become members of the church. Amy agreed to speak at the next one which will be at the end of May! It's so great to hear new members of the church testify of truth! President and Sister Huntsman spoke at the conclusion of the meeting. It was an uplifting meeting and the spirit was strong! It is so motivating and inspiring to hear the stories of these people and I'm excited for Amy to be able to speak at one next month!

This week, I read through the conference talk, "Finding Joy in the Journey" by President Thomas S. Monson, given in October 2008. Here's some of the quotes I pulled from his talk that I really liked! :)

  • "This is our one and only chance at mortal life--here and now. The longer we live, the greater is our realization that it is brief. Opportunities come, and then they are gone. I believe that among the greatest lessons we are to learn in this short sojourn upon the earth are lessons that help us distinguish between what is important and what is not. I plead with you not to let those most important things pass you by as you plan for that illusive and nonexistent future when you will have time to do all that you want to do. Instead, find joy in the journey--now."
  • "You pile up enough tomorrows, and you’ll find you’ve collected a lot of empty yesterdays. My brothers and sisters, there is no tomorrow to remember if we don’t do something today."
  • "Rather than dwelling on the past, we should make the most of today, of the here and now, doing all we can to provide pleasant memories for the future."
  • "Stresses in our lives come regardless of our circumstances. We must deal with them the best we can. But we should not let them get in the way of what is most important--and what is most important almost always involves the people around us."
  • "Our realization of what is most important in life goes hand in hand with gratitude for our blessings."

This is such a great talk and I recommend that you all read through it regardless of how many times you've read it in the past. In the eternal scheme of things, this life is super short, so why not make the most of each day! I think too often we get caught up in constantly dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, rather than enjoying the present. I liked how he says what is most important always involves the people around us and. My favorite memories always involve other people! So as we go through life, we need to recognize the importance of our relationships and interactions with those around us every day! Also, he encourages us to have more gratitude for our blessings. As we take a step back from any current stresses or trials in our lives and think about all of the things we have been blessed with, we can find more joy in our journey on earth. Life is sick! And we're all blessed with so much!

I love you all! Have a great week!
Elder Duvall

Monday, April 11, 2016

April 11, 2016 "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home"

I'm in a trio now for the next week and a half until transfers. We will be covering the Centreville 1st ward and the Centreville 2nd ward. Elder Strawn is the other missionary that we're with. It'll keep us busy and we're excited!

Michelle's baptism was such a great experience! She has some extened family that are members of the church and they drove a few hours to come support her in her decision to be baptized! A couple members of the ward gave a couple of super great talks and there was a lot of support from the ward there! I had the privilege to be the one to perform her baptism! Michelle's daughter was baptized last summer with her cousin (from her fathers side) and on my very first night in Centreville (January 21st), we went to her house with Bishop Deursch because they had just moved into the ward, and we wanted to go to meet her daughter Kaylie. Michelle was actually one of the very first people I met in the mission field! So it's pretty cool to see the progress she has made in the last couple months, from knowing little to nothing about the church, to becoming a member! Her testimony has grown a lot and she is such a great example to her daughter! She was confirmed in sacrament meeting yesterday and she is already being a missionary to her friends! She has a close family friend named Hassan who she invited to attend her baptism, and he also came to church to see her confirmation. It's great to see her desire to make this a priority in her life, and I know this decision is going to bless her and her daughters life more than she can even imagine right now!
Elder Shelley and I with Michelle and her daughter Kaylie right before the baptism! What a special day for their family! Kaylie is only 10 years old, which is crazy because she's almost as tall as me!

This is Bishop Duersch, his wife and kids with Michelle and Kaylie! Nicole, Addie, and Marshall are the kids. It was fun to have Marshall sit in between Elder Shelley and I as we taught. He was "mini-missionary Marshall!" This is such a great family and I'm grateful for their examples and the time that we've been able to spend in their home teaching Michelle! 

In 2nd Nephi chapter 31:17-21 we read: 
17 Wherefore, do the things which I have told you I have seen that your Lord and your Redeemer should do; for, for this cause have they been shown unto me, that ye might know the gate by which ye should enter. For the gate by which ye should enter is repentance and baptism by water; and then cometh a remission of your sins by fire and by the Holy Ghost.

18 And then are ye in this strait and narrow path which leads to eternal life; yea, ye have entered in by the gate; ye have done according to the commandments of the Father and the Son; and ye have received the Holy Ghost, which witnesses of the Father and the Son, unto the fulfilling of the promise which he hath made, that if ye entered in by the way ye should receive. 

19 And now, my beloved brethren, after ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done? Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.

20 Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.

21 And now, behold, my beloved brethren, this is the way; and there is none other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God. And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ..."

Repentance, followed by baptism by someone holding the priesthood authority of God, are the "gate" by which we are to enter, but it's certainly not all that is expected of us! We need to "press forward" and "endure to the end" striving to keep all of God's commandments throughout our lives! None of us are going to be perfect, but that's why our Heavenly Father lovingly and willingly sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to atone for each of us. We all will mess up, but we can turn to Him to receive forgiveness and to feel the peace and happiness that comes from His atonement. We're so excited for Michelle as she continues on the "straight and narrow path" that leads to eternal life with our families and with our Father in Heaven!

This week we also were able to teach another lesson to Megan! We taught her in the Jonas family's home, who live just a couple doors down from her! As we discussed the Plan of Salvation, she expressed that she has felt so blessed and so much closer to God as she's continued to learn through attending church, seminary, and meeting with us! Her friends do a tremendous job in being an example to her and loving and supporting her! She still has the goal to be baptized at the end of this month, so we are excited to help her reach that goal! We're going to teach her again later tonight.

We were also finally able to meet with Phyllis again! (Refer to my letter posted on March 1st). We stopped by and talked with her for a little while. She told us that she was able to go to "The Savior of the World" production that that the stake put on at the DC Temple Visitors Center during Easter weekend, and she loved it! She went with her neighbors who are members of our ward. We shared a couple scriptures with her, and encouraged her to watch some of the general conference talks. She told us how much she loves hearing President Uchtdorf speak, so we pulled up his talk from last weekend on her computer and she said she would watch it after we left! That talk is entitled "He Will Place You on His Shoulders and Carry You Home." It was a great talk! I love it when he explained the following: 
"To me, the parable of the lost sheep is one of the most hopeful passages in all of scripture. Our Savior, the Good Shepherd, knows and loves us. He knows and loves you. He knows when you are lost, and He knows where you are. He knows your grief. Your silent pleadings. Your fears. Your tears.
It matters not how you became lost--whether because of your own poor choices or because of circumstances beyond your control. What matters is that you are His child. And He loves you. He loves His children."

I know that the Savior truly knows and loves each of us! I know that He is always there for us, even when we are lost! It is so comforting to know that "it matters not how [we] became lost" but what does matter "is that [we] are His child[ren]. And He loves [us]!" I know He is there. I know he wants us to turn to Him! I'm grateful for the tremendous opportunity I have to help people access the enabling power of His atonement and His gospel! There is no greater source of peace and happiness than that of our Savior, that comes from following His commandments! He is the one who carries us when we feel like we can't keep moving forward and He is ALWAYS there, even when we may not realize it.

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

Elder Duvall

Monday, April 4, 2016

April 4, 2016 "If we look for the good, we will surely find it!"‏

We came across this graffiti on our way back home one night.
Can't believe this week marks 3 months since I entered the MTC!