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!

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