Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 13, 2016 Christmas joy & Randall K Bennett

Trying to stay warm with a scarf. :)

Hey everyone! Happy Tuesday! We switched our Pday again this week because of a half-mission conference we had yesterday with Elder Randall K. Bennett of the Quorum of the Seventy, which was awesome!
This past week was great! We were able to go up to the temple on two different days. The first night we went up with the entire Penedo family. They absolutely loved it! It was pretty cold outside, but we all enjoyed the beautiful lights and the beauty of the temple grounds. Roberto, who was baptized in November, enjoyed being there with his wife and daughters. His wife Natalia is not a member of the church, but has become more interested in learning since her husband and daughter were baptized. She is from Ukraine, so the sisters at the Visitors Center gave her a Russian Book of Mormon and taught her a bit about it. She is being taught by the sister missionaries in our ward, and we are going over weekly to teach the new member lessons to Roberto and Angelica. Every night of December there is a musical performance from different local groups and the family enjoyed hearing all of the Christmas songs, especially Natalia! They also had a room with nativities from all around the world that were fun for them to see.

The Penedo family is awesome!
Natalia, from Russia, loved being at the temple!
 The sisters at the visitors center gave her a Russian Book of Mormon
 and Natalia is so close to deciding to be baptized
to join with the rest of her family!
Natalia and Roberto's daughters had a blast!

Natalia, Roberto, Julio, Angelica and Ivanka with us
by the Christus Statue that is shining abnormally bright due to the lighting.

Vibrant lights at the temple

Julio loved being there with us and his family!
He his Roberto's brother.

Saturday night, we were able to go up to the temple with Micheal. He's been baptized for just over one week now, but if you first meet him you would think he's been a member for years! The entire drive to and from the temple, he was asking us really good questions about so many different doctrines and beliefs of the church. It's cool to see his desire to learn! He is super excited to get more involved in family history, to eventually participate in temple work for his family.  He wants to know so much, so quickly! And it's incredible how well he is able to retain everything. Often times he has quoted different scriptures he has read, or lyrics of hymns he has sung, in order to explain a point. This time up at the temple, the concert at the visitors center was the Mormon Choir of a Washington DC. It's basically a mini-Mormon Tabernacle Choir, and includes members of the church from many stakes in Virginia and Maryland. They were really good! A few members from my last ward in Centreville were in the choir so it was fun to see them.

 Our second night going up to the TVC and Festival of Lights. Thanks for the matching ties Mom!

Christmas wouldn't be Christmas without Christmas music! On Sunday night, about 40 missionaries sang at a Stake musical fireside, called "Christmas at Mt. Vernon." We were the opening number. I enjoyed singing! This week was full of a lot of great music! I'm grateful for the special spirit music brings into our lives!

Our lesson with Edgardo, 

that Michael joined in on prior to going up to the temple with us.

Another highlight from the week would be the progress of Edgardo! He's doing great! Michael joined us in our second lesson with Edgardo. It was the most ideal teaching environment there, to have a man baptized just a week ago help us teach someone else that's preparing for baptism. It was good for Michael to not only hear the lessons again that he was taught before baptism, but to participate in the teaching. He gave a great, humble testimony to Edgardo. Edgardo came to church on Sunday and had a great time! He connected well with so many of the members, specifically those that served Spanish speaking missions, and he looks forward to coming back again next Sunday and learning more.

Different lesson with just Michael.

Our half-mission conference yesterday with Elder Bennett was great. He started at 8 in the morning with a small meeting with all of the zone leaders and sister training leaders, before the rest of the missionaries arrived. It was great to interact with him and help him understand what the missionaries in our mission could be improving on. He focused most of his training with the mission on the topic of obedience, which seems to be talked about all the time, but it is so important. The conference lasted until about 5pm, and included so much training on how we can be better at finding, teaching, and loving our investigators. Something that stood out to me was a scripture he shared. D&C 123:15-16 says "Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things. You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm. . ." We will be given so much more power from in high as we focus on the so-called "small things" because obedience to the little things is what will ultimately bring the miracles. We can't expect miracles to happen in our lives if we aren't striving to be obedient to the small and simple things the Lord asks us to do. For me, it's easy to be obedient to the big things. Often times, it's more of a struggle for us to submit our will to the Lords will when it comes down to the small things. I love the analogy that a large ship depends so much on the very small helm when a storm comes. The same is true in our lives! When the "storms" of life happen, if we are in control of the "helm" (the small things" then we can have confidence that we will make it through.

I'm grateful for the opportunity we had to be taught be a general authority this week and I look forward to applying the many lessons we learned from him! He shared a lot of stories he's had from when he served as a mission president in Russia, and while serving alongside members of the Quorum of the Twelve, and First Presidency. Tomorrow we will have another opportunity to meet with him as a mission leadership council to discuss some goals for the coming year, so we're excited about that as well!

T-minus 12 days till Christmas! I'm excited! I hope you all have an amazing week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Twelve days of Christmas package for Elder Duvall and Elder Judkins.  Each package had a label attached with a scripture reference to look up. They were to read the scripture and guess what's inside prior to opening each package..

12+ days of Christmas

Scriptures attached to look up and
try to guess what is in each package

I have enjoyed guessing the gifts based off the scriptures! So far, I’ve been able to get a lot of them! You are so clever Mom! Thanks for sending all of these! It has been fun! We enjoy having this little Christmas tree in our apartment as well :) 🎄 I actually grabbed it from my old apartment in Centreville a couple weeks ago when we were out there for transfer day driving other missionaries.

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