Monday, June 27, 2016

June 27, 2016 Vincent, 'Groove', James and Brandon, Psalm 23, Turtle!

June 27, 2016
Another week in Centreville with some great experiences! I've been here since January, so I know this place so well and have come to know and love so many of the people, so it feels like home (almost). I can't imagine serving in a different area, but it'll happen eventually!

A few weeks ago, while we were out street contacting, we met a 16 year old kid named Vincent who talked with us for maybe 5 minutes. He seemed really interested as we were talking about the restored gospel, but he had to get going because he was running late somewhere, so we gave him a Book of Mormon and a pamphlet with our number as he left. We completely spaced on asking him for an address or any other contact information. Afterwards, we regretted it because he seemed really interested, but now we had no way to find him or contact him again. Last week, we were in a neighborhood of town houses and nobody seemed to be home, or at least nobody was answering their doors, but we just kept on knocking. We thought about going to a different neighborhood, but decided to stick around for a few more minutes and we saw a car pull up a few houses down, and a mother and a couple little kids got out of the car, so we went and talked to them. After our initial approach to the mother, she said "Oh yeah! My son Vincent talked with you guys a couple weeks ago. Thanks for talking to him!" We talked with her for a few minutes and she quickly invited us to come back to have a lesson with her and Vincent. She has some extended family members that are members of the church, so hopefully our visit with her and her son goes well! I'm glad that we felt inspired to stay there in that neighborhood for just a few more minutes so that we were able to get in contact with Vincent again!

We were biking on a sidewalk alongside a busy highway and a man that was jaywalking across the road yelled out to us "Mormons?" We responded and then walked towards us. This man’s name is Steve, but he says his friends call him "Groove." He is currently homeless, and is a struggling alcoholic. But he had a lot of questions about the church
and has a good friend that's been learning about the church for a while. We sat on the grass, next to a lot of traffic, and talked with this man for a whole hour. He wanted to know what made our church different from all other Christian denominations. We explained to him about the apostasy and restoration of the priesthood, and discussed the fact that we have a living prophet on the earth who receives revelation from God to guide and direct His church. "Groove" was such a humble man and it was such a pleasure to simply lift his spirits as we sat on grass alongside a busy highway. Despite the noise from the hundreds of cars passing by every minute, I really felt he spirit and the love that God has for him as we talked with him. He explained to us his background and some of the struggles he has been through, and by the time we left he seemed so happy!! He has such a strong belief and faith in God! It's sad how there's so many people in the world who seem like they have everything, but they lack the things that matter most, such as faith in God and Jesus Christ. But Steve, who physically may seem to have nothing, has so much happiness and peace because of his faith in God! We hope to be able to run into Steve again sometime soon!

We had a great visit with Quinn's family last week! Quinn enjoyed getting to know Elder Chu and his background and conversion story. We're going back this week to finally have a second lesson with Quinn Jr.!

We found a kid named James in our Area Book that met missionaries about two years ago, but his Dad don't want him learning about the church. The note in our area book said "try back in 2 years," so we went to go find James! He no longer lived in the house he used to live in, but after asking around the neighborhood a little bit, we were able to find him! He is actually good friends with a member of the ward here, named Brandon, who hasn't been to church in years. But we got in contact with both of them and had a lesson with them where we talked a lot about faith and we bore our testimonies to them, and they both came to church yesterday! Brandon explained a scripture to us that brought him a lot of hope and strength while going through some major trials in his life. He read through the Bible multiple times in the last couple years, and when he came across Psalm 23 recently, it changed his perspective on where his life was headed. It says:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

After reading this, he explained that he realized he needed to let his past go and look forward to the future. He realized how merciful the Lord truly is to all of us!  No matter what we've been through, if we've been "in the shadow of (spiritual) death" because of sin, we can be restored to the "paths of righteousness" if we turn to the Savior! I have felt his goodness and mercy "all the days of my life" and I know that we can all "dwell in the house of the Lord forever" if we rely on Him!! I'm grateful for Brandon's testimony of noticing the Lords hand in his life and realizing that no matter what we've done in the past, we can change! After all, our Father in Heaven cares a lot more about who we are now, and who we are trying to become in the future, than about who we were in the past!

Congrats to my brother and sister-in-law, Matt and Chandler, on the birth of their new baby boy, Elliott!! He is beautiful and I know they will be amazing parents! I'm excited to have a family that will continue to grow!

Thanks everyone for being so great! I love you all! Have an awesome week!

Elder Duvall

Amidst the busy work of saving souls, we had the chance to save a turtle!! Haha. There was a huge rainstorm that came out of nowhere and we got drenched! But once it passed, we came across this turtle on the sidewalk and brought it back to the nearby pond on the other side of the hill.

I showed Elder Marshall, Elder Teeples, and Elder Chu around the Dulles Air and Space Museum today! None of them had been there yet, but I went a few months ago, and they all wanted to go today. Fun place to visit!

Monday, June 20, 2016

6-20-2016 Trip to the ER! Tender Mercies. Stake Conference with L. Whitney Clayton!

Hey everyone!

We had to go to the ER last week!! Don't worry, everything's okay!  Last Monday (5/13), we were at a park playing soccer with about 20 missionaries in our zone. After playing for about two hours, I turn around and see my companion, Elder Chu, on the ground grimacing in pain. He immediately knew that he dislocated his shoulder! Another missionary accidentally bumped into it at an awkward angle with a lot of force. He's dislocated it over 20 times in the past, and is usually able to pop it back into place the last few times it has happened, but he couldn't get it back in this time and he was in a ton of pain! We got in the car quick and rushed to a nearby urgent care, who then redirected us an ER a mile away! Thankfully the ER wasn't busy at all and he got in right away and the doctor popped it in within a couple minutes! It was intriguing to see the doctor know exactly how to get it back in, but at the same time it was a disturbing sightseeing a shoulder poking out at a weird angle.  It was pretty stressful seeing Elder Chu go through so much pain and I couldn't really do much to help. He asked for a priesthood blessing in the car, so I gave him a brief one while on our way to the ER. We're glad everything turned out okay! He withstood the pain like a champ and didn't ask for any pain meds at the emergency room, all he did was bite on a towel! From the time it got dislocated till the time the doctor got it back in place was probably about 45 minutes or so! His shoulder was pretty sore throughout the week, but is doing better now. Being in the emergency room, I was reminded of the last time I was in one a little over a  year ago for the "Every 15 Minutes" program I was involved in.

We have tender mercies happen to us all the time! But I wanted to write about a couple from this week. First one, we were walking through a neighborhood and a bunch of little kids were running around, and it was super hot and humid outside. We walked by an ice cream truck and I thought to myself how refreshing it would be to buy an ice cream, but didn't think it was really necessary, so we keep on walking. Then I hear a high pitched voice yell "Elders! Elders!" I turned around and saw a short Hispanic woman with a huge smile on her face telling us that she wants to buy us an ice cream. We said we didn't need one, but she insisted! Her name was Marina, and she is a member of the church and didn't speak any English, but it made her SO happy to please us to an ice cream! The ice cream was a nice treat, but the smile on her face as she bought them for us was priceless!

Another tender mercy we had has to do with a thunderstorm. On Thursday night last week there was a huge thunder and rainstorm that started around 7pm and went all through the night. Thankfully, the rain started right as we were getting to our lesson with Greg. Bishop Duersch joined us for the lesson and then he drove us at the end of the night. We were so grateful that we didn't get caught outside in the crazy storm!

Lastly, the coolest tender mercy that happened is week was getting back in contact with Katie and Jackson! (Refer to letter sent on 5/9/16). Katie told us a few days after our experience meeting her that "this was too much" and that she's "not ready to make this a part of [her] life again." And then she has ignored us the past month and a half as we've tried to contact her. But we were walking through her neighborhood last Sunday and she was outside with the kids! We spent about 20 minutes talking to her and she asked us to come a few days later and have a lesson with her and Jackson! So we went over on Thursday afternoon and had a really great lesson with them! Katie said she was super nervous and stressed out before we came over, but by the time we left she said she felt so much more at peace and was glad we were able to clear up a lot of her questions and concerns about the church. Jackson is such a smart kid! He's 9 years old but understands a lot about God and Jesus Christ.

We had a great Stake Conference this weekend! Elder L. Whitney Clayton, the senior President of the Quorums of the Seventy, and Elder S. Mark Palmer of the Seventy, both came to the Centreville, VA Stake this week. I got to meet both of them afterwards, they are such great men!  Elder Palmer served as a mission President over the Spokane Washington mission a number of years ago and he said he had an Elder Duvall in his mission. I just told him I have a lot of family that lives in Moses Lake, and he said he's been there numerous times! Elder Clayton is from Irvine, CA, and he knew exactly where Temecula is. He sarcastically said "you almost live in the promised land" referring to Irvine. It was pretty funny! Elder Clayton was talking to a few of us missionaries and he told us how lucky we are to have President and Sister Huntsman. I agree with him! President and Sister Huntsman both spoke about missionary work at the stake conference and did a great job!

My favorite talk from the conference was Elder Claytons. He shared a story about some people who were traveling by boat, and all they had to navigate was a compass. He explained how if their compass was off by even the slightest degree, they would end up in a place they never intended to be in the beginning!
Then he related this story to our lives. He explained how it's too easy for us to let things in our lives distract us from our course. We might not realize how little things can affect us now, but as time goes on, we will find ourselves in a situation where we would have never desired to be when we started our journey! We know where we want to go, and we know what it takes to get there. If the "compass" of our lives is off by even 1 degree, we will slowly deviate off of the path that leads back to our Father in Heaven. Elder Clatyon encouraged each of us to constantly ask ourselves "How is my compass working? What can I adjust?" I loved his counsel he gave to us! We all have adjustments that we can, and need, to make in our lives. That's the beauty of the Atonement of Jesus Christ! Even though we may deviate off of the path, it's never too late to come back! Although "adjusting our compass" through relying on the atonement, and making necessary changes, may not be the easiest thing to, there is so much peace and joy that comes from doing so! I'm grateful for the opportunity I have to turn to Christ to help make sure I stay on course! Happy (late) Father's Day to my amazing Dad and all other fathers out there! I'm so grateful for you all! Thanks for being such a great example to me and showing me what it means to love others and how to be a righteous priesthood holder!
I love you all! I hope everyone is enjoying summer! Have a great week!
Elder Duvall

This is my zone this transfer! Great group of missionaries!

I didn't ask to get on his shoulders...Elder Bradley just picked me up!

Monday, June 13, 2016

June 13, 2016 Street Contacting and seeing people through God's eyes

Hey everyone!! Hope all is going well!

"Whoops. Didn't see that sign there. Guess we have to go somewhere else!"

We've done a lot of street contacting this last week because the weather was super nice outside for a few days, so we've been able to talk to a ton of people out on the streets! Elder Chu is super motivated to talk to as many people as possible, so it's been fun, and we've met a lot of interesting people! We met a really old man named Jimmy Carter that we thought could've been the former president. We met a nice Sikh man named "Mr. Singh" that told us that he got in trouble with the police trying to walk into the DC temple after attending the visitors center. We met a man named Luis, he talked to us for 30 minutes explaining some crazy dreams he had and wanted us to interpret his dreams and tell him what they mean. It was funny, but he was super nice and wants to learn about Christ. We tracted into a lady named Fatmata from Sierra Leone that happens to be good friends with Amy Koroma! She let us try some chicken that she was grilling when we met her and we invited her to church and she said she might come! We also taught a lesson to a Muslim man named Hedi from Iran that I met about 4 months ago, but this was my first time actually going inside his house. He was super respectful and interested in our faith, but is obviously pretty set in his ways. We also met Williams’s mother, who told us her life story in Spanish, at her doorstep, for about 30 minutes. I felt like we were in a Spanish soap opera! We had no idea what she was saying half the time, but it was great and she enjoyed talking to us!

Let's see... who else... Oh, we also met a Hispanic lady named Sonia, who pulled her car over to the side of the road and jumped out to talk to us. At first, we thought she was going to be super nice and want to ask us questions, but instead she spent 10 minutes trying to tell us how we are lost and that the spirit we've felt in our lives is "the spirit of deception from the devil." We just bore our testimony to her and told her we weren't interested in arguing with her. As missionaries, we hope to spread the peace and joy that the gospel of Jesus Christ has brought into our lives. I wouldn't be devoting 2 years of my life to doing this if I wasn't 100% certain that this is the true church! I find it funny sometimes how people think that they can sway us from the faith by telling us irrelevant things. But it's all good, we still love them anyways!! :)

Every week we contact all kinds of people! I usually don't write about all of the encounters we have with people, and there's still plenty I left out. But I'm grateful that we are able to meet so many different people every day, regardless if they are interested in the gospel or not. One thing I've learned since being on my mission is that to be an effective servant of the Lord, we have to love everyone, and view everyone as sons and daughters of God. Elder Renlund said last October that for us "to effectively serve others we must see them through a parent’s eyes, through Heavenly Father’s eyes. Only then can we begin to comprehend the true worth of a soul. Only then can we sense the love that Heavenly Father has for all of His children. Only then can we sense the Savior’s caring concern for them. We cannot completely fulfill our covenant obligation to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort unless we see them through God’s eyes.This expanded perspective will open our hearts to the disappointments, fears, and heartaches of others. But Heavenly Father will aid and comfort us.We need to have eyes that see, ears that hear, and hearts that know and feel if we are to accomplish the rescue... Only when we see through Heavenly Father’s eyes can we be filled with “the pure love of Christ" ("Through God's Eyes" October, 2015).I'm grateful that I've been able to continue to develop this love and perspective for the people here!

We met a few times with Greg this week and taught a good lesson on the Word of Wisdom. He still struggles with a few substances, but does desire to quit. He says he knows he's going to stop once he has his own family, but we're trying to help him realize the blessings that can come from stopping as soon as possible rather than waiting. The longer he waits, the harder it'll get to stop. So we're setting goals with him to help him cut back. I love Greg so much! He's become a great friend and we're at the point where I can be straight up and bold with him and he can recognize that everything we say is because we care about him. Temporary happiness is a tool Satan uses to win the hearts of many people, but we know that living the gospel of Jesus Christ is the only thing that can bring us eternal joy. Greg asked us if we could give him a priesthood blessing to help him out and that was a really spiritual experience. He was able to receive some guidance and feel the spirit! We showed him the video on Mormon Channel called "From Gang Member to Good Man" about Bubba, and he loved it! He was able to recognize that ultimately it's through Jesus Christ that any of us are capable of making changes in our lives. Whether they be big changes or small ones, it's through Christ that we can all have the strength to change. Making changes in our lives might not always be the most comfortable thing to do, but I think it's necessary to constantly be striving to improve if we want to have the most joy possible I our lives and in the life to come.

I'm enjoying being a trainer! It's not the easiest thing to do, but it's going well! He's only been here for a week and a half, but Elder Chu is doing a great job! We are both learning and growing each day as we learn how to effectively work together.

I love you all! Have a great week!!

Elder Duvall

Monday, June 6, 2016

June 6, 2016 Bye Elder Shelley, Hello Elder Chu! Good luck Hermana Duvall!‏

Bye Elder Shelley, Hello Elder Chu! Good luck Hermana Duvall!‏
June 6, 2016
New transfer, but still in Centreville! I love this ward so much and I'm grateful that I'm able to spend a lot of time here. Had to say bye to Elder Shelley this week! I'm going to miss serving with him. He's become a brother to me and we became great friends, but I'm excited for the future!

This is Elder Shelley and Elder Duvall with Greg Dolla$ right before Elder Shelley said bye to him.

Always a good time at the Koroma's house with Amy, Kadija, and Omar!

 On Tuesday and Wednesday we went around for Elder Shelley to say bye to different people. Amy Koroma always gets emotional saying bye to the missionaries she gets close to. She was super sad saying bye to Elder Yeager and now again with Elder Shelley, but she said "you're doing the work of the Lord, and I know there's people that need you wherever you're headed to."

I was slightly nervous when I found out I was going to be training a new missionary, but I'm super excited to be with my new companion, Elder Chu! He is fresh out of the MTC, and it's my pleasure to be his trainer! Elder Chu was born and raised in San Diego, so I was excited to find out my companion is another Californian! He is a convert to the church and was baptized just over a year ago on March 28th, 2015! He's grew up Buddhist and has a pretty cool conversion story! He graduated from SDSU with a bachelor's degree in economics, but decided that he needed to put his career and education on hold to come out and serve a mission. It's interesting being a "trainer" to someone who is about 7 years older than me, but I'm excited and he's going to be an excellent missionary! His parents are from Taiwan and China, he grew up speaking Mandarin Chinese along with English. So on his first day here, I took him to this Chinese lady's house that Elder Shelley and I met a few weeks ago and he had a 10 minute conversation in Chinese with her and was able to give her a Book of Mormon. I just stood there and smiled at the small Chinese women as they talked, it was pretty funny to watch.

The first lesson that Elder Chu taught was to William! We went more in depth through the restoration lesson with him, because we didn't fully cover everything with him last time. Elder Chu did a great job and he has a really strong testimony! He's going to be able to help out a lot of people brought it the course of his mission. William said he would come join us at church, but ended up not coming. We'll keep on working with him though. He has a 3 year old son, Dominic, who loves seeing us ride on our bikes every time we go over, but William gets mad at Dominic for always interrupting us when we're trying to teach him. He's a super cute kid though!

We had a quick lesson with Megan and her Mom this week about temples and eternal families. And they both said they'd love to go up to the temple visitors center once high school finishes in a few weeks! The last time Megan was up there at the temple was during Christmas time, and she said she felt the spirit there super strong, even though she was only able to walk around it outside. So she looks forward to eventually being able to go inside soon!

A quote that stood out to me this week was about having hope. James E. Faust stated that "The unfailing source of our hope is that we are sons and daughters of God and that His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, saved us from death." Elder Dallin H. Oaks visited Virginia a little over a month ago and filmed one of our "Small and Simple goals" that we do each day. It was a pleasure to open up this "Small and Simple" goal in my email one morning: It's such a small thing to remember who we are, sons and daughters of God our Eternal Father, but remembering that can make the world of difference in our lives. If we keep that perspective in mind, we'll be more likely to resist temptation and make decisions that will not only please our Heavenly Father, but will bring so much more peace and happiness into our lives.

I also just wanted to say good luck to my twinner, Hermana Duvall, who is now in the Mexico Missionary Training Center! I’m super excited for her to learn Spanish as she prepares to serve the people of Minneapolis, Minnesota! It's so crazy to think that we are both out serving missions now, but it's exciting at the same time. I'm grateful that we both have this opportunity to serve the Lord! I know that she will make an excellent missionary!

Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Duvall