Monday, July 25, 2016

July 25, 2016 Zone conference, exchanges, Power of Prayer

I had an awesome first full week of work here in Alexandria!

Our Zone conference turned out great! We did our training portion based on a few points from chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel about the "power of the spirit in conversion" and the different roles that play a part in the conversion process of an investigator. We as missionaries have to be able to teach with converting power so that the investigators can feel the spirit to receive conversion. So we discussed what we need to do to create a spiritual environment and have the spirit with us as we interact with people. One major thing that I learned from preparing for this conference was how critical the spirit is in conversion. We thought an analogy to help us understand it better: Just as the Book of Mormon is the keystone of our testimony and the keystone of our religion, the Holy Ghost is the keystone of our conversion. Without the Book of Mormon, our testimony and religion falls apart. Without the Holy Ghost, we can't become truly converted. We can have a testimony of the gospel, but without the spirit we will lack conversion. Conversion is an ongoing process that we work on throughout our lives as we consistently are true to our testimony. The Holy Ghost is what will allow us to make decisions that will keep us on the path back to our Father in Heaven. The conference was really discussion based and it went really well. President and Sister Huntsman, and the Assistants gave different training portions as well and we all learned a lot.
This is our Zone right after our Zone Conference! Left to right: Elders Judkins, Larsen, Goodson, Hall, Mecham, Richards, King, myself, Norton, Ma, Sister Huntsman, President Huntsman, Sisters West, Corey,Young, Alldredge, Blackham, Moore, Adair, Hansen, Richardson, Morris.

Enjoyed a brief visit with Uncle Mark and Brayden last week! It was great to spend a little time with them! We both enjoyed seeing them! Elder Judkins thinks he's an awesome uncle! So do I!  Brayden is lucky to have such an amazing grandpa! He's such a smart kid and is going to be a great man someday!

As a Zone leader, I get to go on exchanges with the district leaders and their companion each transfer. This week we went with Elder Ma and Elder Norton. It was great being able to spend the day with Elder Norton, who was in my MTC group! We taught a lesson together to a 12 year old kid from Egypt, that Elder Judkins and I have been teaching. His name is Aiman and he is such a smart kid! We taught him a brief lesson on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and said a prayer with him at the end. Right after the prayer he said "I feel something... It feels good!" And then he started tearing up a little bit. It was sweet to help him recognize that what he was feeling was the Holy Ghost. It was fun teaching with Elder Norton! I remember practice teaching with him a lot in the MTC back in January, seems like it was yesterday.

We also got to go on exchanges with the Assistants (AP's) this week. Their area is Fort Belvoir over in Mount Vernon. On that exchange we did a church tour with one of their investigators, and taught a couple other lessons as well. Their church building in Mount Vernon is in such a beautiful location! It is right on the Potomac River and is close by George Washington’s estate.

 Elder Duvall and Elder Judkins "On our exchange with Elder Ma and Elder Norton"

I got to do my 1st baptismal interview this week! I have the privilege to interview people for baptism that were taught by the district leaders in our zone. The man I got to interview this week was Bill. Bill is about 60 years old and he met the missionaries a while ago. They've been working with him for a long time and he finally was ready to be baptized this last week! He had been smoking for about 40 years, a pack a day, but has gone the last two weeks without smoking a single cigarette! He explained to me how difficult it had been for him, but through relying on Jesus Christ, he was able to have the strength to stop! It's remarkable how much strength we can get as we rely on the Atonement of Christ in times of need!

The power of prayer is real and works wonders- we say a prayer every time we leave the apartment, even on our way to the gym. As a result, we've felt great direction as we search for people who are prepared for the gospel. The other day we ran into this lady named Brigitte. It was amazing how we were led there- our original plans would not have brought us to her, but because of specific impressions we felt (which felt like small decisions in the moment), we were led to her. So we knocked on a few doors in a certain complex, until we got to hers. She's a rock solid Catholic, but loves the missionaries, and she met with some back in Africa. But when she moved a few times since coming to the states, she has lost contact, and lately has been going through some family struggles. Apparently she had been in tears all day, until we showed up. She told us her background and past interactions with the church and with missionaries and we spent a while talking at her door and said a prayer with her. She felt much better when we left. Then we had a lesson with her and a member yesterday and have plans to take her to a baptism later this week and the temple visitor's center. Crazy! We had no idea we'd run into her, but because we were praying, the Spirit led us to the right place at the right time. Cool, right?! Don't forget to pray- the power is as strong as our faith.

Ultimately, we're here for the Lord to work through us. Nephi writes in 2nd Nephi 33:1 "And now I, Nephi, cannot write all the things which were taught among my people; neither am I mighty in writing, like unto speaking; for when a man speaketh by the power of the Holy Ghost the power of the Holy Ghost carrieth it unto the hearts of the children of men." It's the Holy Ghost that is able to work within people to help them make changes in their lives that'll draw them closer to the Savior. As long as we are worthy and do our best, the Spirit will be able to carry into the hearts of the people we teach! I'm so grateful for the opportunity I have to serve here!

I love you all! Have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission

We saw this family from a distance and said to each other, "I bet you they're Mormon." Thirty seconds later, the little kids yell "Missionaries, Missionaries!" It was pretty funny. They were visiting Old Town Alexandria from Utah and they know a cousin of Elder Judkins. Small world!

July 18, 2016 Enjoying P-day basketball!!!

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