Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016 The Church in Africa

Hey everyone! We had a great week!
The Book of Mormon will lead you to the light at the end of the tunnel, so "Feast upon the words of Christ!"
We watched a video recently about the growth of church in Sierra Leone. There's a series of videos on LDS.org called "Unto All the World" about apostles traveling throughout the world to hasten the work of the Lord.

(Here are the links to two of the videos about the church in Africa: one, two)

The 3,000 stake of the church was organized in Freetown, Sierra Leone, in 2012. Freetown is where most of the Sierra Leoneans in Virginia are from. Check out the two videos! ! It'll give you a sense of the amazing type of people we get to work with here. After getting to know so many Africans here and getting a taste of their culture, I would love to visit there someday! The first video gives a little history of the wars and rebels of Sierra Leone and how the church has recently grown exponentially in a short period of time. The second one shows Elder Holland with some of the stake leaders and him talking about the confidence he has in them. Something he says that I love is "If you ever wanted an object lesson, that your happiness doesn't depend on your material wealth, you'd go to Africa. These people are happy blessed, joyful people, and in many cases they have almost nothing." That is so true! The Africans we meet here are some of the happiest people I've met! They work so hard to get by, and despite all of their struggles, they are so happy, and it's contagious! It's made me so happy to get to be a part of these people lives.

 Quintins baptism was great!! He is such a great example and has grown a lot in the gospel in the span of 2 months




We met Quintin outside as we were on our way to teach Isha for the first time about 2 months ago, and now he is the newest member of the church! I know that the Lord put us in the right place at the right time, so that he could see us walking by and call out to us. It caught us off guard when a complete stranger yelled at us from his balcony asking where our church is, but I'm glad we took the time to talk to him that day, even though it made us late to our next appointment. It has been a great experience teaching him the last couple months and I know that he will be blessed for the decisions that he has made and will continue to make. His baptism was a special day for him. Isha agreed to give a talk at the baptism. We helped her during the week to prepare for it, and she was super nervous, but she did a great job! It's wonderful to see new members of the church fellowship other people so well. After the baptism itself, Quintin shared a few of his thoughts about his whole experience leading up to today. He testified of His love for Christ and the joy he felt that day. One thing in particular that he said that was funny was something like (not verbatim, but close enough): "I'd like to also thank the missionaries today for all they have done for me. Sometimes they call me and ask to come over, and there
were times where I had so much going on and I honestly did not want to see them, but I said yes anyways and they come and teach me and helped me prepare for today." It was funny to hear him say that. We were persistent with him, and I'm glad he took the time to meet with us, even when other things were stressing him out and he didn't want us over. But at this point, he regrets nothing, and he is glad to be where he is now. He's now part of a ward family, as well as a worldwide family!


Quintin calls Isha his new "sister in Christ." They do a lot to help each other out. We will be watching some of general conference with them this week!


This is Nazir, Quintin's roommate's kid. Whenever we go to teach Quintin, Nazir climbs all around us.
We have still been working with Kim to help her quit smoking. She has been getting really down on herself when she gives in to the temptation, and she has a strong desire to stop, but is struggling. We had a lesson with her specifically on hope. We wanted to help her realize that even though she may continue to mess up, that she should not give up. In the middle of our discussion with her, I was reminded of a specific portion of a talk from Elder Holland that I shared with her. Last April, he said "Please remember tomorrow, and all the days after that, that the Lord blesses those who want to improve, who accept the need for commandments and try to keep them, who cherish Christlike virtues and strive to the best of their ability to acquire them. If you stumble in that pursuit, so does everyone; the Savior is there to help you keep going. If you fall, summon His strength. Call out like Alma, “O Jesus, … have mercy on me.” He will help you get back up. He will help you repent, repair, fix whatever you have to fix, and keep going. Soon enough you will have the success you seek." We all will continue to make mistakes and fall down, but no matter how many times we mess up, we can get back up. He will continue to give us the hope and faith we need to press forward as we endure (enjoy) through the trials of life! Kim really liked this quote.

Desmond, the one that was in the ICU last week, is doing great. We were able to visit him at his house this week and he's actually getting ready for an extended vacation in Africa and Europe soon, so getting him to progress in the gospel will be difficult. But when he comes back, we'll be sure to get back in touch with him.
Elder Judkins, Sheila and Elder Duvall
We were able to teach the media-referral Sheila from last week again. She is battling cancer and is going through a lot in her life right now. We weren't able to schedule any appointment with her throughout the week, but felt to stop by last night, and she let us right in and was glad to see us! Once again, she was having a rough day, and called us her angels coming at the right time to help brighten her day with the word of God. We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, with an emphasis on the resurrection. We shared the scripture from Alma 40:23 "The soul shall be restored to the body, and the body to the soul; yea, and every limb and joint shall be restored to its body; yea, even a hair of the head shall not be lost; but all things shall be restored to their proper and perfect frame." Not only will we receive a perfect body, with no pain or sickness, but we will then have a more perfect understanding of Gods love for us as well. This brought Sheila a lot of peace, knowing that "the sufferings of this present time are [nothing] compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us" (Romans 8:18). I'm excited to continue teaching her! She's so kind!

We are SO excited for General Conference this upcoming weekend!! We've been listening to past conference talks as we've been driving around in the car getting pumped for this next weekend. It's always great to hear from our Prophet and the 12 apostles! Our investigators and recent converts look forward to it as well! I'm grateful for modern revelation through a prophet, and the chance we have to receive personal revelation as we listen to the counsel of our leaders with humble hearts. I hope you all can take specific things and apply them in your life!

We have transfers on October 6th and we are hoping to do a third transfer together. We've got a lot of great things happening and are enjoying every day. I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission


Delicious cinnamon rolls! Thanks Mom for sending that recipe to Sister Emily Flanigan! She made them for us! There were more than these, but they sure didn't last long!





Today we took a tour of the Capital Building from a member of the church that is currently doing an internship for one of the Representatives from Utah. It was an awesome tour! There are different
tunnels underneath DC that connect all of the different covers net buildings and offices, so we went from his office and walked underground to the Capital building. We got to sit in for about 30 minutes of a session going on in the House of Representatives chamber where different topics were being debated and voted on. Obviously we couldn't take pictures while in there though. Here's some highlights of the tour that I liked:

The chamber where the original US senate used to meet.



The Senate Appropriations Committee room


 The directional center of Washington DC. Not the geographical center, but all the streets go outward from this point. 

George Washington's original tomb was going to be here, but in his will he wrote that he wanted to have his tomb at his Mt. Vernon Estate. 

 This is the staircase that every president of the United States walks down right before giving their Inaguaral Address outside the Capital building.

Statue of Ronald Reagan. There was a statue of prominent people representing every state in this room. 

Statue of Brigham Young, representing the state of Utah.


The original mold of the statue of Lady Freedom, which is on top of the capital building rotunda.

The last meeting held in this room was the meeting in which the decision to impeach President Clinton.

video


Video of me explaining a little bit about Brigham Young to a tourist group. The tour guide saw us and said "Hey, explain Brigham Young, you could do better than I can, just try not to keep it super religious." The she handed me the microphone and I talked for a minute or two, and Elder Judkins caught a few seconds of it on camera. It was fun to do! I wish more of it was recorded.

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016 Trip to the I.C.U.

Hey everyone!

Yes, we went to the ICU this week, but everything's okay! We had a great week. Here's some of the highlights:

We had a great Skype call with Asif on Friday.


Weekly Skype call with Asif is always a good time! 

It was a funny Skype call because his son was climbing all over him the whole time and there wasn't much we could do about it. We didn't have the chance to meet his son when they were in Virginia, but he's a nice kid. Asif hasn't missed one week of church yet since returning to Dubai! We told Asif to talk with his Bishop about receiving the Priesthood soon, and we also taught him a little bit more about temples and how he can begin to do some family history work. It was super cool to be able to read different things from the Gospel Library app with him, and having him be able to follow along on his own device, all the way across the world. He repeatedly told us on Skype "You have changed our lives forever, thank you so much!" Of course hearing this made us super happy, but at the same time, we feel like we didn't have to do much. He was ready for it all! We simply taught and testified of the principles of the gospel, and the Lord did the rest!

This week with Isha, we taught her a new member lesson on temples. We showed her a Mormon Message video titled "The Blessings of the Temple" by Russel M. Nelson. In this video it show different temples from across the world and different members of the church testifying how temples have blessed their lives. The video also shows different rooms inside different temples. When it showed a couple different celestial rooms, Isha whispered to herself "Wowwwww" and her face was lit up the whole time. She asked us right after the video "So, I can go there now?!" She is super excited to get to go there soon! My favorite quote from Russel M Nelson in that video is that the "teachings of the temple are beautifully simple, and simply beautiful. They are understood by the humble, yet they can excite the intellect of the brightest minds."

We have an investigator Desmond (yes, he's also from Africa) who we have taught numerous times over the last two months, but hasn't progressed much. He hasn't been to church yet and doesn't read any of the Book of Mormon on his own, but he loves when we come by to teach him. He did actually attend Asif's baptism though, and he finally committed to coming to church last Sunday but ended up not coming. Then on Wednesday we got a text from him apologizing for missing church and he told us he had been admitted to the hospital and has been there since Sunday. So on Wednesday afternoon, without telling him, we decided to show up and visit him at the Alexandria iNOVA Hospital. We walked in the visitors entrance, told the front desk who we were here to visit, and they gave us a visitors pass with his room number. As we were approaching the part of the hospital that his room was in, we realized that he is actually in the Intensive Care Unit. We didn't know what to expect, but we got to his room and he was so happy to see us!! We talked for about 15 minutes asking about what happened to him and how his recovery had been going. To keep it short, he basically had some sort of heart attack due to not taking some medication that he's on, then he was out for about 4 hours, but made a miraculous recovery! He told us that right before he passed out, he remembers seeing a picture of Jesus and hearing the words "Fear not, everything will be okay." The next thing he remembers is waking up in the ICU hours later. His family and relatives back in Africa had all thought he died, but they all prayed for him and everything worked out okay. We said a prayer with him there in his hospital room and then went on our way. I think our visit helped him out a lot!

Quintins baptism will be this Saturday! In our last lesson with him, we talked more about Joseph Smith's 1st vision. This time, however, we emphasized to him that Satan did every thing he could to stop that miraculous event from happening, but Joseph Smith's faith and prayers were able to overpower the influence of the adversary. Satan knew exactly what was about to happen, so he tried to stop it. This happens in our own lives as well, before something great is going to happen, Satan will throw whatever he can at us to stop us from progressing. We applied this to Quintin with his upcoming baptism, telling him that things will come up that may test his faith, but he needs to stay strong in his desire. This helped him a lot because he actually had other things that were coming up this weekend causing conflicts with his baptism, but he realized he just needs to make his baptism a priority because that what God wants him to do, and everything else can wait. Quintins so awesome! He's actually a little over 30 years old and has a wife and daughter back in Sierra Leone. He is starting to make friends in the ward and he's super excited for his baptism!

Going back to the story of Joseph Smith, it's a testament to me of the truthfulness of the gospel to know that Satan tried to do everything he could to stop the First Vision from happening (JSH 1:15-16). The same is true in our lives. I know that Satan doesn't want us to be happy and receive the blessings of the gospel, which is why he will throw anything he can at us to take us off course. Whether it be temptations, a specific event, or even other people, he use anything to try and hold us back from receiving the lasting joy the gospel brings and he truly "seeketh that all men might be miserable like unto himself" (2 Nephi 2:27). I know that if we point out Satan's influence in our lives, and do all we can to avoid doing what he wants us to do, we can be protected from making decisions that will hinder our eternal progression, and we will be able to make righteous choices that bring true joy into our lives!

I love you all! Hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission

Pictures-

Cool street in Old Town Alexandria. 

This lady is Fatima and her grandkids. She called us from the other side of a busy street saying "Hey! Long time no see!" Turns out she came to church with a couple missionaries a few years ago. She looks forward to coming back soon! 


This is Sheila, her story is pretty cool. She was a media referral, requesting a free Bible, from Mormon.org. She had just recently had a stroke and is recovering pretty well. We called and asked if we could bring it over and she said of course. We got there and she explained that she "had been just about ready to give up, and was praying that God would do something" to brighten her day. She was SO excited to have her own Bible, and even more excited to start reading the Book of Mormon. She told us she had always wondered what Jesus Christ did after he was resurrected, and wondered why there weren't more accounts of what he did. Through the Book of Mormon, she now knows he came and ministered to the people in America! 

This is Hailu, and his two kids Ruth and Abenezar. They're a sweet Ethiopian family that we've been teaching slowly since my first week here. Hailu and his wife have already read over half of the Book of Mormon in their language native language of Amharic! They enjoy reading it and comparing it with the Bible, but don't want to come to church or commit to anything until they finish it. Awesome family! 

 Quintin with me at church yesterday. He has the coolest African shirts! We're going to get one eventually. 

 Hey Mom, why didn't you carry me and Jenny like this? Looks fun! Or maybe uncomfortable...but this baby seemed to enjoy it!




These two are from last weeks P-day. We got a little creative with the panoramic setting. What’s the only thing better than our companionship? ....Our companionship multiplied by 3. 




These two pictures are from today at the George Washington Masonic National Memorial in Alexandria.

video

Recording-Elder Judkins and I, along with the 10 Sister missionaries in our zone, sang "This is the Christ" at the concluding session of an annual 3-day DC Mid-Single Adult Conference. We were the concluding number at the fireside. 


Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12,2016 What Lack I Yet?

9-12-2016
Hello hello hello!

We had some good experiences this week!

We try to do at least one exchange with each of the elders in our zone each transfer. Last week I was able to spend a day with Elder King in Crystal City. It was great! We spent some time street contacting downtown and met some cool people. Walking around the city, I was reminded of when we were in New York City last summer visiting Danny's mission. Although it's not nearly as big, there was just a ton of people walking around it was super crowded, but we had some good conversations with different people. Then we went and taught a couple of less active members in their ward. In one of the members apartment buildings, we were able to go up on the roof (about 30 floors high) and look out at the view. It was the best view of DC possible! All at once I could see the Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon, White House, Capitol, all the monuments, and the Ronald Reagan Airport. It was pretty sweet! I'll send some pictures of the view.

Pentagon!


Awesome view into DC, excuse our faces, the sun was extremely bright.


Panoramic picture of D.C.
Lunch at Good Stuff in Crystal City with Elder King.

Good news! Quintin is back on date for baptism in a couple weeks. We were finally able to schedule two different lessons with him last week. We finished up teaching him about the commandments and he's basically already living all of them. While teaching him about the law of chastity and the Word of Wisdom, his roommate Mohammed, who is a less active member of the ward sat down and listened in on some of the lesson. It was cool to have him there! Quintin agrees one hundred percent with all of the commandments and wishes that more people in the world would live by them. He had his baptismal interview this morning and will most likely be having his baptism next Friday.

video

"Here's a video of me trying the Cola nut that Quintin gave me

This morning Quintin gave me an African nut, called Cola nut, to eat. It was the most bitter thing I've ever eaten. Literally tasted like dirt, but it was fun to try! He said that I'm a true man now after trying it..Haha! Never trying that again, that's for sure. It was sad not being able to contact Quintin for a couple weeks, but we never doubted that he would stay solid with his commitment to learn and accept the teachings of the gospel. We're excited for him.

One of my favorite lessons we had this week was with a recent convert family that joined the church in February, Brother and Sister Jalloh and their daughter. They're from Africa as well. We taught them more about temples, specifically about baptisms for the dead and introducing the endowment and sealing ordinances to them. It surprised me that they had not already been taught and understood more about the temple. They have been to the temple in DC to do baptisms for the dead a few months ago with members of the ward, but they hadn't learned yet about sealings. They were super excited to learn that they could be married for time and all eternity and be sealed to their daughter forever. That's easily my favorite aspect of the gospel that we teach people about, and it's so cool to see their reactions as they begin to understand it. They're excited to go to the temple in February to have those sacred ordinances done!

We were able to attend a baptism on Saturday in one of the other Alexandria wards. A set of sister missionaries in our district have been teaching a whole family the last few months and they got baptized on Saturday. A mother and father, and 4 of their 5 kids all got baptized, there's 1 baby boy that'll be baptized when he turns 8. They are the Dillard family and they are an amazing family! There was so much support from the ward at their baptism we had to have most of the program in the chapel, and then congregate over to the baptismal font when the baptisms took place. Elder Judkins and I were able to interview them to prepare them for baptism and I'm so glad we were able to go. Seeing the smiles on their faces as they walked back into the chapel after they were baptized was priceless!

In our zone training last week we discussed a lot about being unified with our Father in Heaven and with Jesus Christ, and also focused a lot on faith. We asked all of the missionaries in the zone to send in a response to the question "How has showing your faith made a difference in your life?" The missionaries didn't know what we were doing with their responses, but we took each of them and wrote them on our "Alexandria Flag of Faith." (The flag was just some of the leftover African material that we bought the previous week). We presented the flag to the zone at the end, showing that as we combine our faith together, we can accomplish tremendous things, particularly regarding the goals we've set as a mission to achieve by the end of the year. We then took the flag and hung it up in the mission office, and President Huntsman took it and hung it up in the mission home somewhere. He thought it was really cool!

Alexandria Flag of Faith!
One of my favorite ones is Elder Ma's Quote:
"Faith to me is like water. It keeps me alive."

I recently read the talk "What Lack I Yet?" by Larry R. Lawrence from last October. Here's a few paragraphs that stood out to me:
"The atoning sacrifice of the Savior is what makes perfection or sanctification possible. We could never do it on our own, but God’s grace is sufficient to help us. As Elder David A. Bednar once observed: “Most of us clearly understand that the Atonement is for sinners. I am not so sure, however, that we know and understand that the Atonement is also for saints--for good men and women who are obedient, worthy, and conscientious and who are striving to become better.”
I would like to suggest that each of you participate in a spiritual exercise sometime soon, perhaps even tonight while saying your prayers. Humbly ask the Lord the following question: “What is keeping me from progressing?” In other words: “What lack I yet?” Then wait quietly for a response. If you are sincere, the answer will soon become clear. It will be revelation intended just for you.
The Spirit can show us our weaknesses, but He is also able to show us our strengths. Sometimes we need to ask what we are doing right so that the Lord can lift and encourage us. When we read our patriarchal blessings, we are reminded that our Heavenly Father knows our divine potential. He rejoices every time we take a step forward. To Him, our direction is ever more important than our speed.
Be persistent, brothers and sisters, but never be discouraged. We will have to go beyond the grave before we actually reach perfection, but here in mortality we can lay the foundation. “It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today.”
If spiritual growth is not a priority in our lives, if we are not on a course of steady improvement, we will miss out on the important experiences that God wants to give us."
I particularly like the thought he mentioned about reading our patriarchal blessings. Those are special! They can give us guidance and direction, as well as hope for the future. I've read mine a couple times recently and it has helped a lot, I encourage you all to do the same! God has experiences in store for us that will bless us, but we need to be willing to make personal spiritual growth a priority.
I'm loving my time here! I hope you all have a great week!
Love you!
Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission


We did some service with some elders in our zone and cleaned a ton of trash out of a hoarders house. It was pretty gross, but we had a good time!


We attended the Franconia Ward yesterday because our investigator Kim wasn't able to attend our ward earlier in the day, but still wanted to come to church. While there I met grandpa Orme! (Show this picture to Kelly and Denise Orme). He was excited to meet someone that knew some of his family and said he wants to have us eat with him sometime. Super nice man!!

Time lapse video driving on George Washington Memorial Parkway alongside the Potomac River, on our way to the Dillard family's baptism at the Mt. Vernon Chapel.

video



Monday, September 5, 2016

September 5, 2016 Isha's baptism!

After having a great week with Asif, this past week was another awesome week!

Last Tuesday our zone had our interviews with President Huntsman, which were awesome. He strongly encouraged us to seek personal revelation as we set personal goals for ourselves. I decided that a goal I am going to try to focus on over he next month is to be better at "always remembering Him." Sometimes as missionaries it can be easy to get caught up in the daily routine, that we neglect to genuinely remember Jesus Christ and what he has done for us. His atonement is central to why we are here, to allow people to have access to his atonement through the restored gospel. I know that as I strive to "always remember Him" throughout each day, that I'll continue to be happy and motivated as I strive to share the gospel with the people here.
This week, our Zone we had interviews with President Huntsman.During each missionary's interview, their companion was in a training done by Elder Judkins and I, along with the AP's.Halfway through the interviews, President took us out for lunch and we snapped this picture on the way.

Last Thursday we had another MLC (Mission Leadership Conference), where we set some goals as a mission for the remainder of the year. We discussed different things that we are going to focus on the next 4 months to allow us to achieve some of the goals we've set for the year. I'm excited to see what we can accomplish! At the meeting, we talked a lot about the necessity of faith. In the "Guide to the Scriptures" it talks about how faith relates to miracles. It says "Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. In other words, faith comes by righteousness (Alma 32:40–43; Ether 12:4, 6, 12; D&C 63:9–12). True faith brings miracles..." I think this is so cool! Witnessing miracles is not what causes us to have faith in Christ. Rather, it is our personal righteousness and seeing the blessings that come from living Christ-like life that builds up our faith, step-by-step. I know that as I continue to live righteously, then the miracles will continue to happen as a result.
Later in the same day Isha had her baptismal interview!( Elder Duvall, Isha, President Huntsman, Elder Judkins)

We bought 6 yards of fabric from this African mart for only $15! We got creative and made multiple ties out of it and wore them to Isha's baptism! It was easier than I thought to make a tie! She loved them.
Also, the sister missionaries that also serve in our ward wore African dresses to her baptism. It was a fun day!

















Speaking of miracles, Isha had her baptism this past week!





She says herself that it has been a long journey leading up to this point in her life, but she is so glad she has made this decision. From the first day she stepped into the church, she immediately felt like everyone around her became her family. Amy Koroma, a recent convert that lives in Centreville and her friend who she used to work at a nursing home with, referred Isha to the missionaries about a month before I got here to Alexandria. They only met with her once or twice and didn't see much progress with her at the time. I'm so glad I was able to come here to Alexandria to meet Isha and help her along the path! She talks about how long of a journey it's been leading to her baptism, but the journey has just begun! Baptism has opened the gate to the path which leads to eternal life!

Amy was able to come out from Centreville to support Isha at her baptism. It was such a sweet moment to see them hug and embrace one another! As our Bishop was bearing his testimony on the Atonement of Jesus Christ and the strength we can draw from it, at the conclusion of the baptism, Isha was crying quite a bit. She explained to us afterwards that "those were all tears of joy" and then she said "I feel so emotional, I don't know how to describe it, I feel so good" in her soft African voice. These moments have made me so happy, seeing the happiness the gospel is bringing into the lives of others! Her baptism was another really special day!
Isha snuck a picture of us singing a musical number at her baptism.



Moving forward, Isha is going to help us out with her neighbor Quintin. He's come to church 3 times now and we've taught him almost everything, but we just haven't been able to meet with him in a couple weeks. But we look forward to the challenge! Quintin is an awesome guy and has a great heart, and he knows the gospel is true, he just needs a little push it seems.

Update with Asif! We were able to Skype him on Friday! So it's pretty interesting, they treat Friday as the Sabbath Day. So the LDS congregation he goes to has their sacrament meeting at 9am on Fridays. Sunday is a business day there. We talked for about 20 minutes on Skype and he was telling us all about how much he enjoyed going to church there. He said it felt a lot different, but at the same time, he recognized that everything they did and said was the same as here. Asif and his wife actually plan on traveling back to the States in a couple months for her to be baptized, because it's a strenuous process getting permission and doing a bunch of paperwork and things for her to be baptized there. It's also safer for her to do it here. We've emailed the bishop there and he enjoyed meeting Asif and is excited to have him there. He continues to read the Book of Mormon every day and is still fired up about the gospel! We will probably Skype him on a weekly basis.

I'll close with a thought on unity. We're focusing a portion of our zone training tomorrow on being unified within our companionships. The Guide to the Scriptures defines unity "To become one in thought, desire, and purpose first with our Father in Heaven and Jesus Christ, and then with other Saints." I like the order it says this in. So to truly be unified with other people, we first have to be unified God and Jesus Christ!

It's been a great week! I hope you all have a great week this upcoming week! Love you!

Elder Jeremy Duvall Washington DC South Mission

Enjoyed some Krispy Kreme Doughnuts today!