Tuesday, November 1, 2016

10-31-2016 Steady, Ever-increasing Effort

Hey fam and friends! This week was great! We've had some great experiences and have been able to teach a lot of people! 

On October 7th, Elder Judkins and I had the privilege of teaching Rahel Yohanes, from Ethiopia, the first lesson. In that lesson, she accepted the invitation to be baptized and even accepted a baptismal date. Rahel had met missionaries about 10 years ago here, but returned home to Ethiopia and hadn't had contact with the church since. After being back in the states for a while recently, she remembered the how good she felt about the message the missionaries shared with her years ago, but didn't quite remember what that message was. So she came seeking the truth once again. She requested our visit and a copy of the Book of Mormon via Mormon.org and then we showed up later that day! She actually lived just outside of our area in the Annandale ward boundaries, so we taught her the first lesson and then passed her off to the missionaries there the following day. 22 days later, on October 29th, Rahel was baptized!

Elder Ostendorf, Elder Hall, Rahel Yohannes, Elder Burleson, myself, and Elder Judkins prior to Rahel's baptism. 

All of us, along with a family in the Annandale ward, prior to Rahel's baptism. 

 I can't help but think about the missionaries that taught her 10 years ago. They definitely planted some seeds in Rahel that didn't grow for a while, but that seed of faith grew tremendously with Rahel over the last three weeks! I'm so glad we were able to attend her baptism this week and be a part of that special day! It makes me wonder how many seeds we plant in people's minds and hearts every day. It's amazing that we will never truly see the ripple effect our service has over the years. 

We had a great lesson with Fatu this week! We taught her the Plan of Salvation and she seemed to really enjoy the perspective that it gives us, knowing that this life isn't it. She especially liked the fact that our family relationships can continue after this life.

     This is from after our lesson with Fatu. Brother Jones came with us and added some great insight on the lesson! 

 On Sunday, Fatu and her daughter Dora both came to church! I was sitting right next to them during sacrament meeting, and the topics of the talks were all about family. Two of the hymns we sung were "Love at Home" and "Families can be Together Forever". Dora loved singing these songs and Fatu loved the lyrics! I felt the spirit strong sitting next to them hearing them sings those words. Those two songs are easily two of my favorite hymns! I'm so grateful for my family and the opportunity we have to be together forever, and for the love I have always felt at home! 

Fatu and Dora loved church on Sunday! They wore these matching dresses. All of the African members and investigators wear pretty interesting outfits to church, but I love them all! It's always colorful in the chapel! 

We've had many other wonderful experiences this past week! I have a ton of pictures I'll send in separate emails with some of the other people we have taught throughout the week.

Something that has stuck out to me quite a bit this week is a quote from President Eyring that I recently received in an email. He said that "Casual prayer won’t be enough. Reading a few verses of the scripture won’t be enough. Doing the minimum of what the Lord asks of us won’t be enough. Hoping that we will have the Atonement work in our lives and that we will perhaps sometimes feel the influence of the Holy Ghost won’t be enough. And one great burst of effort won’t be enough. Only a steady, ever-increasing effort will allow the Lord to take us to higher ground.” 
I love his thoughts! We can't expect for the Lord to be satisfied with singular bursts of effort. There's nothing wrong with extra effort, but if those bursts of effort are followed by laziness and apathy for the simple truths of the gospel, then what was the point? More importantly, if we have "steady, ever-increasing effort" we will continue to have the spirit with us in our lives. After all, the Lord doesn't care too much as to where we are on the ladder of our spiritual progression, but rather he cares about the direction in which we are headed. As long as we are striving to improve, day by day, the Lord will be pleased with us and continue to bless us. I'm grateful for the individual journey we are all on back to our father in Heaven! Even though we each experience this life in our own unique ways, thank goodness we don't have to travel through it alone! 

I'm grateful to be here in Alexandria, Virginia! I'm grateful for the gospel in my life and I know without a doubt that God loves each of us individually! 

I hope you all have a great week! I can't believe it is already November! Talk to you next week! Love you all, 

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Since Jenny sent a few fall pictures home, I figured I better do the same! Haha this is a nice path that cuts through our area not too far from our apartment. 

Elder Judkins and I with Elder Hall. 

After our lesson with an investigator Solomon. 
We've taught him a couple of times and we hope to take Quintin to a lesson with him. 

We met this guy O'Neil this week, and his friend Kim.
They are from Jamaica! He's got the coolest Jamaican accent!
He was pretty receptive to our message,
and remembers talking to missionaries a few years ago back in Jamaica.

We knocked on this door for a potential investigator in our area book, and this Hispanic lady Jill answered the door and invited us in right away saying "Entre, Entre!" And started speaking Spanish super fast! She thought we were Spanish speaking missionaries at first so it was pretty funny. She then introduced us to her Pakistani friend who recently moved in and is renting a room from her. He doesn't speak any Spanish and she doesn't speak any English, but they're great friends! They communicate with each other through speaking into their phones and having google translate for them. We soon found out that Jill was actually a member of the church from Guatemala, and we were able to have a good visit with her Pakistani friend! The man we were looking for originally does live there, but was asleep while we were there. 

While on an exchange with Elder Teeples, we were able to contact Fatima and her nieces again! We found out that these two girls are actually half-sisters to our investigator Fatu's daughter Dora. It's cool how all of the Africans we meet in Alexandria are either related to or close friends with other investigators or members that we know.

Elder Teeples and Elder Chu joined us in Alexandria on an exchange.
It's always fun to spend a day with another missionary.

We had a great lesson with Linda this week. She has been to church numerous times and we've been able to teach her a bit over the last two months, but her progression towards baptism has been relatively slow. I know that as time goes on she will accept the invitation to be baptized! 

The man in the green shirt is one of the Sisters investigators named Solomon. Our ward has two sets of missionaries, and often times we get to help out the other sets investigators in some way. We helped Solomon, along with a roommate of his, move from one apartment to another one in his complex. It took the four of us a couple hours, but we had a blast helping him! He's such a sweet man! After interacting with him for a couple hours, we think he'll be more likely to act upon the message the sisters have shared with him. 

 This is a random Peruvian chicken restaurant nearby. These places are all of the area, but they're pretty good! They've got some good Yuca fries and really good chicken!

This is our investigator Mariatu's daughter, Maisha. She's the cutest! Every time we leave she says "Bye Uncles!" The Sierra Leoneans all call each other brother, sister, cousin, aunt, uncle, etc. even if you're not related. I think it's awesome! They are great examples of making everyone feel like family! 

The Mt. Vernon mansion on the estate where
George Washington and his family lived. 

Mt Vernon Estate

This tree is estimated to be over 300 years old and
would have been on the estate when Washington himself lived there. 

George Washington had a beautiful view in his backyard! 

Beautiful view of the Potomac river, with Fort Hunt in the background. 

Christ's Church, an episcopal church in Alexandria that George Washington, Robert E. Lee, and other prominent men attended often.  
George Washington and his family had their own reserved pew in the church.

This is my first mission! Hopefully I can serve another mission in 50 years or so with a wife hahaha. 

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