Monday, November 21, 2016

11-21-2016 “4-peat!! But new ward?”

Hey everyone!

Exciting week here in Alexandria! It's the start of a new transfer and Elder Judkins will be staying together for another 6 weeks! 4 transfers, pretty much a quarter of my mission with Elder Judkins. We are super excited for the rest of this year! It's extremely rare that a companionship stays together for 4 transfers, and all the other missionaries were surprised, but we look forward to finishing the year together. We get an email the Tuesday before transfers (which were Thursday) that is a PDF version of the transfer board that is in the mission office. When I first saw our pictures  and names still next to each other, my first thought was "Yes! I get to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with family" referring to Elder Judkins. After being together the last 4 and a half months we've become brothers.

So our companionship didn't change with the new transfer, but there were some other pretty big changes that took place this week. The stake re-drew a lot of the ward boundaries, and our ward was affected quite a bit. I'm going to miss seeing many of the faces we've grown to love seeing on a regular basis. The new boundaries caused Isha and Quintin, as well as a number of other investigators and members to be added into another Ward. It's going to be sad saying bye to all of them this week as the transition into the new ward takes place. But we do look forward to exploring the new parts of our ward that got added into ours and meeting new people!

The Alexandria 2nd Ward is now called the Lincolnia Ward, and we got moved from the Mt. Vernon Stake into the Annandale stake, AND we will be attending a different church building, the Annandale Stake center. Amidst all of this change this, I think it was wise that President Huntsman kept Elder Judkins and I together for another transfer.

Picture before Chris's baptism! Sister Alldredge, Sister Bray, and Sister Young taught him and we've been here to support him throughout the process of preparing him for baptism. Chris is going to start coming out with us every now and then to teach people!

Chris Ricks was baptized this week! He's been coming to the ward for a couple months and the sisters have been teaching him. They originally found him on a Sunday morning, at about 8:30am, while trying to help another one of their investigators get up and come to church. They saw Chris outside cleaning and waxing his car so they walked up to him, talked briefly and invited him to church, and then an hour later he showed up in the middle of sacrament meeting! Since then he has felt like family with members of the ward and loves the spirit he feels at church. He asked Elder Judkins to baptize him and then I had the privilege of confirming him a member of the church on Sunday. It strengthens my testimony of the gospel to see people like Chris embrace the truths he's been taught. He's still going to be in our new ward boundaries, so we're excited for that! His smile and enthusiasm brightens our day every time we talk to him!

Addu and his two sisters will all be getting baptized on Wednesday! This last week was busy with Addu! In order for him to be able to be baptized with his sisters this week, we taught him the remainder of the lessons in this past week. We had 3 packed lessons with him this week and helped him prepare for his baptismal interview. He is extremely receptive and knowledgeable with the gospel. He pretty much completed our sentences as we taught. When we asked him to describe what the word "faith" means to him he responded "faith to me is the substance of things hoped for, that are not seen, but are true" nearly quoting Alma 32 in the Book of Mormon. He immediately accepted invitations to keep all of the commandments, without hesitation or doubt. I personally have no doubt that the Lord made it possible for Addu to finally make it to the United States at this specific time. He had been separated from his family for over 10 years, more than half of his life, and the day after he arrives to Alexandria from Liberia he was able to meet the bishop and learn that his two sisters have been preparing the last couple of months for baptism. It's no coincidence that he came here at this time, so that he will now be able to enjoy the same blessings of baptism in his own life. I'm grateful that we were able to be a part of his conversion to teach him the gospel the last couple of weeks, but in reality we didn't have to do much. We prayed for him and his family, taught and testified of the doctrines and principles of the gospel, and the spirit did the rest. Addu was prepared, and the Lord placed him in our path at this time! I love him! He's a great example! Sadly for us he and his sisters live in a portion of our ward that will be getting moved into another ward, so we won't get to see him much after this week. But change isn't a bad thing! We are grateful for the work and the blessings that we have enjoyed and we look forward to the new opportunities that lie ahead.

We had a great week! Found some new investigators and and are going to be meeting many more new people in the coming weeks!

I hope you all have a great week and a wonderful Thanksgiving!! I am so grateful to be a member of this church. I am grateful for this gospel and the blessings it has brought into my life and the life of my family. I am extremely grateful to be a missionary here in Alexandria, Virginia. Odds are I will be here in Alexandria until February, which I am excited about. I am blessed that I will be able to spend the first year of my mission in only two areas, where I've been able to make many wonderful relationships with some amazing people. I am grateful for my family! I am grateful for the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and I know that he knows each of us individually. Have a great week, Eat a lot of food, and stay grateful.

Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Picture of our zone before transfers last week.

Picture of our zone before transfers last week.

We took a picture with our district from back in Centreville at transfers.
Me, Elders, Strawn, Bigley, Bradley, Meldrum, Krambule, and Shelley.
Bradley and Elder Strawn both went home last week.
They have both been great examples to me on my mission.

Last week on Pday we went to the Arlington Cemetery for a couple hours again
because it's so close by. It was cool to see John F. Kennedy's grave.

On Saturday we attended a funeral for a man named James Sovula that was a member of our ward from Sierra Leone. It was cool to see the community of Africans come to support the Sovula family. There were probably 150 to 175 Sierra Leoneans packed into the church that day, most of which were not members of the church. It was a great opportunity for us to interact with them during the luncheon afterwards! Also tried some more kinds of African food, which were interesting dishes that I didn't enjoy too much.

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