Monday, December 25, 2017

December 25, 2017 Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!!!

President and Sister Huntsman are the BEST!

Since last week’s letter was pretty long, I’ll keep this one a bit more brief.

We had a full week! We had 3 different exchanges with different companionships. For one of them I was able to go on an exchange out in Warrenton, which was super fun because I was able to see different investigators and members that I knew really well when I was out in that ward.

We were busy and had a lot of lessons in our area. Knowing that my mission has been winding down, I feel like in all of the lessons we have had the past few weeks, my testimony has been more sincere and meaningful as we teach our investigators. I am grateful for the chance I have had to bear my testimony of the
Restoration of the gospel for the past two years here in Virginia!

 I’m grateful for all the senior couples in our mission!
Elder and Sister Beus 

Last night on Christmas Eve we were able to deliver a pile of gifts anonymously to a part- member family that we’ve been teaching a lot the past few weeks. It’s a great feeling helping to make someone Christmas a little bit more meaningful! They’re the Sanchez family and they’re is awesome and have been coming to church the past few weeks!

We also taught the different recent converts in the ward a couple times this week and gave them some gifts. I will miss them!

Even though I gave a talk in church a couple weeks ago, I was asked yesterday on the spot to bear my testimony at church. I was happy to do it! I’ve spent the last 6 transfers of my mission here in the Fort Belvoir Ward and have really enjoyed my time working with the members of this ward!

Elder and Sister Neilson

It’s hard to believe this is my last weekly letter home! I’m grateful for an INCREDIBLE mother who wrote me every single week of my mission, and has been writing weekly emails to missionaries for about 12 years, with a few small gaps in between where she didn’t have a missionary out serving. Over 700 letters! That’s some dedication. I only had too write about 100, she’s done way more. Love you Momma!

I have loved my time serving here in the Washington DC South Mission! I’ve had many wonderful experiences, met so many amazing people, and have learned a lot. I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve had to serve my mission and serve the people here.

Elder and Sister Bloomfield

I love what Gordon B Hinckley says that “There is absolutely no point in doing missionary work unless we hold on to the fruits of that effort... When you go home do not forget [those you have taught]. At all times live worthy of their trust.” I’m grateful for every person I’ve been able to teach these past two years and I hope and pray that I can always remember them and “live worthy of their trust” as President Hinckley said.

I am grateful for this Christmas season and the time we have to remember the birth of the Savior, Jesus Christ. He is the greatest gift!

So many gifts come from Him. The gift of his birth, the gift of his life, the gift of his example, the gift of his atoning sacrifice, the gift of his doctrine and his gospel, the gift of his infinite mercy and love. As the Christmas lights all come down in the next couple weeks, I hope we can all continue to shine the light of Christ throughout the year through our actions and our words towards those around us.

I love you all SO much and wish you a Merry Christmas!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

 Logan, also a senior. They both came out
with us all the time to help us teach people.
They have become good friends

Richard, a senior in high school in the ward.

The Larramee Family. Their son is on a mission in Japan and has been out for 6 months now, which is hard to believe since he was here for a couple months while I was in the ward, and I’m still here!

Inayat and Martha, a couple from Pakistan
who we’re baptized a few years ago in our ward.


Andres and Cindy, a young couple that live i
n our apartment complex that we’ve been teaching.
They are so awesome!

The Bailey Family on Christmas Eve. 
I enjoy their 8 year old twins!

Monday, December 18, 2017

December 18, 2017 Patterns for Life

Hey everyone!

My last trip to the Washington DC Temple

The Visitors Center and the temple are full of lights during this time of the year. Thousands of visitors come every year to see them. We left right before the huge crowds of people arrived when it got much darker.

This upcoming week is officially my last full week as a missionary! It’s hard to believe that 2 years have already gone by. I’m looking forward to this upcoming week! We have a lot of things planned and a busy schedule ahead of us.

Elder Ostendorf (or I should say Zach)
and I both taught Michael prior to his baptism
(even though we weren’t companions at the time).
He was able to fly back out here from Salt Lake
to attend Michael’s endowment session.

In this email, I’ll share a few brief things from this week, then I will share some lessons learned and insights that’ve been on my mind this week as I review these experiences I’ve has the past 2 years. This letter will likely be longer then usual, but I hope you find time to read through it! Next week will probably be a more concise email.

Anyways, this past week we had four different dual Zone Conferences throughout the mission, Tuesday through Friday. I have really enjoyed the past 6 transfers, having the opportunity each transfer to visit the 8 different zones in the mission to present different trainings and bear my testimony! It also gave me the opportunity to say goodbye to all of the missionaries that I’ve grown to love.

We had the opportunity this weekend to go up to the temple to be there with Michael Heaney for his endowment. I was able to teach him a year ago prior to his baptism in the Lincolnia Ward and he has been an extremely faithful member ever since! There’s no greater feeling of joy than seeing someone like him in the temple exactly a year after his baptism. I don’t think he has missed one Sunday of church in a year and he still enjoys doing his family history and temple work. He has over 60 family names that he has already done the baptisms for in the temple and is excited to begin working on doing the rest of their temple work. He also just got a calling in the Elders quorum presidency in his ward. He’s just on fire! He took us out to dinner the night before and it was awesome being able to sit down and talk with him, and hear how excited he was for his endowment. There was a lot of support there from members of the ward, so it was fun to reconnect with many of them. I am grateful for the temple and the opportunity I have had to go there many times over the course of my mission with recent converts. Those are easily some of my greatest memories of being a missionary are being in the temple with new members, seeing how excited they are and seeing them feel the spirit.

 Departing temple trip. All of these missionaries, except for Elder Jones and I went home a few weeks ago. Elder Jones and I are the only ones going home on the 28th.

Last Sunday, when I spoke in our wards sacrament meeting, a woman named Griselda walked up to me after the meeting was over. She is a member of the church, but started telling me how she moved to this area a year ago, and hasn’t been to church for over a year. Her husband's name is Jesus and he isn’t a member of the church, and she also has a daughter who hasn’t been baptized yet, and she told me that she wanted us to come over and start teaching them. So we went over to their home and were able to see them a couple times this week. I’m positive that her daughter will be baptized sometime early next year! They’re a sweet family. They live in really humble circumstances, and we’re going to try and do some things special for them for Christmas. We had an unused set of quad scriptures, and we got their names engraved in them when we were up at the temple. We are going to wrap it up and give them to them as a Christmas gift, along with some other things.

Yesterday in our ward we had a few other investigators at church as well. One was this guy James who we have been teaching for a couple months and he finally came to church. He is originally from Minnesota, but has lived in Nigeria for 17 years and recently came back to the states for a few months. He is moving back to Nigeria soon and is planning on finding the LDS congregation there, but tells us he is sure he will cross paths with missionaries there soon enough because he saw them often prior to coming here.

As I think about a the lessons I have learned over my time here in Virginia, it’s difficult to narrow it down to a few specific things, but I will try.

As I reviewed my patriarchal blessing this week, it has been really neat to think about everything that has happened these past two years. The patriarch had quite a bit to say in the blessing about my time as a full-time missionary. Numerous promised blessings in there have come to pass as I have followed the counsel that was given to me in that blessing.

One of the things that it says in there which I will share is that as I serve I will “establish patterns for [my] life which would have eternal rewards.” I don’t know exactly what those eternal rewards will be, but I’ve tried to think about what are some of the patterns I have developed.

I feel like a theme of my mission could be from Alma 37:6, “by small and simple means are great things brought to pass.” Some of these patterns are small and simple, but I know they’re powerful.

Gotta love Kerry.
He took us to dinner one last time,
he is such a generous man! I am grateful for him

One “pattern” or perspective I have developed is trying my best to find joy in every day, and focus more on the present. I think that it's human nature to always be thinking/worrying about the future, looking forward to and waiting for what lies ahead. It’s also natural for us to dwell too much on the past. I have come to realize that if we are constantly looking forward or looking backwards, we won’t make the most of the present. No matter where we are at in our lives, at some point in he past we looked forward to where we are at right now. So we should enjoy and cherish the present day and try to make the most of the here and now, and approach our challenges with optimism. I have met so many people who get so caught up in worrying about what’s going to happen in a few months or years that they miss opportunities to find joy today. I’ve also met people that struggle letting go of things of the past, and it holds them back from embracing the happiness that’s waiting to be felt.

Along with that perspective, comes the pattern of gratitude. Every evening as I conclude my day, I have tried to express sincere gratitude to my Heavenly Father. I don’t think a day has gone by where I have not expressed my gratitude to Him for my incredible mother and father, for an amazing mission President and wife, for my opportunity to be a missionary, and for my Savior Jesus Christ. Those things were always included, but each day I would try to think of other things I could think about and express my gratitude for in my prayers. I know that “gratitude is a down payment on tomorrow’s happiness” and if we want to be happier tomorrow we need to be grateful for what we have today. The happiest people I have met here are those who truly appreciate what they have and express gratitude to God and to others on a regular basis.

Another pattern has been the desire to seek more knowledge! I once heard that question asked “What's the difference between knowledge and wisdom?" To which an outspoken and shy individual responded: "Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit. Wisdom is being smart enough to not put it in a fruit salad." I’ve always thought that was kind of funny, but it’s true! Simply stated, wisdom is how you use and apply the knowledge you have acquired. I feel that I have gained a more solid knowledge, testimony, and understanding of the gospel. But now comes the test to see if I can have the wisdom to apply it all correctly!

Another pattern, not too difficult to develop as a missionary has been a pattern of loving to study the scriptures. My testimony of the Book of Mormon has increased so much! I know that it is a powerful witness and testament of Jesus Christ, and his infinite, atoning sacrifice for us. I know that daily study of the Book of Mormon, even if just a couple of minutes, can help us keep the resist temptation, overcome doubts and fears, receive heavens help, and have the spirit with us more abundantly, as promised by President Monson. I am grateful for the scriptures. I have seen the Book of Mormon change so many lives. I have witnessed miracles that have come as a result of the Book of Mormon! I can think of numerous experiences where I witnessed the Book of Mormon be the catalyst and turning point in different converts conversions.

I’ve had the opportunity to find, teach, and see many enter the waters of baptism over these past two years. Many of the people I’ve taught have stayed faithful and active in the gospel, and a couple unfortunately have not. The biggest difference between those who faithfully endure and those who don’t, comes down to consistent study of the scriptures. I know that regular patterns of scripture study will help me to maintain a strong testimony of and desire to live the gospel.

Elder DeSchepper and I proudly representing
 Temecula in the WDCSM. I’m going to miss him.

Another simple pattern that I’ve developed are patterns of thought. The way I think about myself, the way I think about others, the way I think about God and Jesus Christ, have all been enhanced in some way. As I have tried to improve myself and develop Christlike attributes, I feel like I have developed patience with myself and learned to not give myself a hard time when I fall short of expectations that are created by myself or others. I’ve learned to try and see everyone around me as sons and daughters of God with divine potential, and learned that our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us. I know that these patterns of thought will be a blessing to me and I know that there is much more to develop.

Another thing I’ve learned is the importance of focusing on the things I am in control of. There are many things as a missionary I can control, but there are many things we can’t control. Instead of worrying about the things I can’t control, as I have focused on giving my best ability in those specific things that I have control over, the other things always seem to work out the way the Lord wants them to! I think this is an important principle.

At the beginning of my mission I set a goal to love and get along with all my companions. I feel that I have truly been blessed with some amazing companions on my mission!

Elder Gleed, Elder Smith, and myself.

Here’s the overview of my companions and areas:

Elder Belnap (MTC)
Elder Yeager in Centreville 1st Ward (1 transfer)
Elder Shelley in Centreville 1st Ward (2 transfers)
Elder Chu in Centreville 1st Ward (1 transfer)
Elder Judkins in the Alexandria 2nd Ward/Lincolnia Ward (4 transfers)
Elder Jones in the Warrenton 1st Ward (2 transfers)
Elder Ostendorf in the Tysons Corner Ward (1 transfer)
Elder Yang in the Ft Belvoir Ward (1 transfer)
Elder Ure in the Ft Belvoir Ward (4 transfers)
And lastly, Elder Smith and Elder Gleed in the Ft Belvoir Ward for my last transfer.

Elder Gleed, Elder Smith, myself, and Elder Ure.
A couple weeks ago at the temple,
prior to Elder Ure going home.

I have loved each and every companion of mine and have learned so much from each of them! I knew that if I would be united in love with my companions that we would have success in furthering the work in the areas we served. I always wanted to “leave the area stronger than I found it” and I am grateful for the incredible companions that I was able to have amazing experiences with. Life is so much easier when we love those around us, looking past weaknesses, and looking past differences in opinion or in personality. When we love those we interact with, life is just so much better.

Along with my companions, I will never forget the wonderful people I have been able to teach the gospel to! There are so many people I have grown to love and people that’ve grown dear to my heart. The gospel changes lives! I’ve seen it in many people and I’ve seen it in myself.

The last pattern I’d like to talk about is probably my favorite one! This pattern is the “ripple-effect.” Over the course of 2 years, it’s impossible for me to count how many people I have taught and testified to. I’ve tried my best to share the Book of Mormon with everyone and I know I’ve talked to thousands of people. There may be a few things I can count and measure as I review the past few years, but the bottom line is that none of us will ever be able to measure the impact our service has towards others. Of the people I have taught the gospel to that have accepted it and began to live it, many of them have already began to share it with family and friends, and that chain and sphere of influence will never stop growing. Whether someone enters the waters of baptism or not, every small act of kindness we give, or every testimony we share makes an immediate difference, as well as a long term impact. Perhaps one day, after this life, each of us will have the opportunity to see what difference our actions and words had in the world. But for now, it’s neat to think that we will never truly know in this life what impact we made in the long-run, but each day we can do small and simple things to bless the lives of others.

I’ll just close with a quote by Brigham Young-

He said “There is neither man or woman in this Church who is not on a mission. That mission will last as long as they live, and it is to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth, and to prevail upon themselves and everybody around them to live those principles that they may obtain eternal life.”

Although my full-time service as a missionary is coming to an end, I know that all of us here on earth are on a mission “to do good, to promote righteousness, to teach the principles of truth” and to serve others. I hope to be able to continue a life-long mission of love and service towards my family and friends and others!

I have probably spent too much time typing out these thoughts. There are so many other lessons I have learned and patterns I have noticed and developed that I know will be a blessing to me in my life. I have loved being a missionary and I will miss putting on this name tag each and every day, striving to help others come unto Jesus Christ. But I know there are great things ahead in the future! :)

I know I haven’t been perfect and I haven’t been the greatest missionary, but I can honestly say that I do not have any regrets, and I know I full heartedly put forth the effort I was capable of offering.

I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week, and a Merry Christmas!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

The Bloomfield’s, a senior couple in our mission,
drove us to be there for Michael’s endowment.

Monday, December 11, 2017

December 11, 2017 Simple Formula

Hey everyone!

We had another great week here in the trio! There is never a dull moment. Elder Smith and Elder Gleed are great companions.We had a neat experience meeting and teaching this girl named Carolyn this week. She was just walking her dog and we approached her and started talking with her. Not too long into our conversation we recognized some of her concerns based on some of her past experiences. She felt like she was putting forth so much effort to be close t God and go to church in the past, but that he wasn’t there and she couldn’t feel his influence, so she decided to stop attending the church she was going to. She recognized that she felt even more empty when she stopped going to church and that she wasn’t as happy anymore. We simply testified of a few brief truths to her that resonated with her. We just told her that God loves her and is aware of her, that he knows her name and what she is going through. We told her that even though she couldn’t recognize his hand in her life that that didn’t mean he wasn’t there. We promised her that if she would meet with us and learn the message that we share that she would begin to feel that joy again. She got really emotional and started crying and said this is exactly what she needed and that she felt like God sent us to her. It was a neat experience meeting her.

It snowed this week, the first time since early
this year! It reminded me of my first week in the
 mission field when there was a massive snow storm
. It feels like that was just yesterday! 

We had a couple exchanges this week with some of the zone leaders. I was able to go to their areas and spent one day in Annandale and another day up in Ashburn. It’s fun to be able to go visit different parts of the mission!

I was asked to give a talk in our ward on Sunday. The topic was “Missionary work: Giving the Gift of the Gospel.” They also asked me to speak about the “Light the World” initiative. The greatest gift we can offer someone is the love of the Savior Jesus Christ, especially during this time of the year. My favorite thing that I shared was a section of a talk from President Uchtdorf from a couple months ago.

“Every time you turn your hearts to God in humble prayer, you experience His light. Every time you seek His word and will in the scriptures, the light grows in brightness. Every time you notice someone in need and sacrifice your own comfort to reach out in love, the light expands and swells. Every time you reject temptation and choose purity, every time you seek or extend forgiveness, every time you courageously testify of truth, the light chases away darkness and attracts others who are also seeking light and truth.

Elder Smith and I at Melt, this famous burger place in
Leesburg, VA.
That’s one big burger!

Think about your own personal experiences, moments of service to God and fellowmen when divine light has shined in your life--in the holy temple, at the sacrament table, in a quiet moment of prayerful pondering, in your family gatherings, or during an act of priesthood service. Share those moments with family, friends, and especially with our youth, who are seeking light. They need to hear from you that with this light come hope and healing, even in a world full of darkness.

Christ’s light brings hope, happiness, and healing of any spiritual wound or ailment. Those who experience this refining influence become instruments in the hands of the Light of the World to give light to others. They will feel what King Lamoni felt: “This light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and … the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul.”

There is so much that we can do in our lives to increase our light, and we should always strive to share thee light and love of the Savior with those around us.

The lights that we decorate our homes with go up a few weeks before Christmas and come down shortly after. But the light of the Savior of the World can and should shine brightly throughout the year. The month off December isn’t the only time where  we should reach out and serve others, but instead we can make Christlike service a part of our daily lives, throughout every month of the year.

Augustine and his son Joshua, we’ve taught them for a while.

I am grateful to have served in this ward for so long and I’m glad I was able to speak! I have served here in the Fort Belvoir ward longer than any of my other areas on my mission. 6 transfers is a long time! I’ve grown to love the members and investigators in this area. The recent converts in this ward did a trip to the temple this week to participate in baptisms for the dead and to see the visitors center. It was a great experience for all that went!

This week I was reflecting on the missionary purpose, which is to “invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end.” Every day as we make decisions, as we set goals and make plans, as we talk to people and teach lessons, we are constantly striving to fulfill this purpose of helping others come unto Jesus Christ. Over a long period of time of serving and helping others, I’ve come to realize that in this process, I, myself have come so much closer to Jesus Christ as a result.

It’s a pretty simple formula- If you want to grow closer to the Savior, help others grow closer to him, and naturally you will simultaneously grow closer to him as well.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission
This is Elder Duvall with Annabeth and Rachel Goss. Since Elder Duvall is returning home from his mission  on December 28th  I wanted to do something special to help him celebrate Christmas the way we do at home.  We make Christmas Bear Breads and go Christmas caroling on a Family Home Evening prior to Christmas and we deliver the Bear Bread  to neighbors and friends.  Since the bread is best fresh I recruited  Annabeth Goss to bake the bread and make a special delivery of FRESH BEAR BREAD with a card and Santa hats from me. (Annabeth is my dear friend from Warrenton Ward where Jeremy  previously served .  These are pictures from today's Special Christmas delivery.- Sharon Duvall
From Elder Duvall: "When you said that you were going to have someone deliver something personally, I was 95% sure it would be Sister Goss! Thanks for having her do this for us! I am excited to go share these bears with people! We have 3 people in mind for tonight that we will deliver one to, and then we’ll try to give out the rest over the next day or two! Love you TONS Momma!"

Elder Jere Bear Duvall, Elder Bear Smith, and Elder Bear Gleed 

Monday, December 4, 2017

December 4, 2017 The Chief Corner Stone

Hey everyone!

Our last night with Elder Ure before he went home.
4 beds in one room was pretty tight.
It’s hard to believe that he’s home now,
especially after being companions for 6 months!

Well this week has been a blast! Being in a trio with Elder Smith and Elder Gleed has been great. I’m trying my best to help them learn how to do everything that we are responsible for once I leave and the two of them are together. I’m confident they’ll do great together. We have been working hard and having a lot of fun working together these past few days. We’ve taught a lot of great people! Teaching in a trio is much different that teaching in a normal companionship, but we’ve already developed some good flow together.

I feel like this week we’ve been put in the right place at the right time numerous times to meet and teach different people. There have been numerous occasions recently where people call out to us from across the street, or from a parked car, and say something like “Hey! Can I get one of your pamphlets or something? My grandma/grandpa/aunt/uncle/etc. just passed away.” It’s neat that people can see us and immediately recognize us as representatives of Jesus Christ, and they feel comfortable calling out to us to try find some peace. We’ve been able to share the Plan of Salvation with these people and teach about the hope and peace that comes from the resurrection and eternal life. I’m grateful for those short, yet meaningful conversations that we are able to have with people each and every day.

This is Adwa and Benard, two of the many people
from Ghana we taught this week.

We had some great success this week in finding more people to teach. One of our first lessons together as a trio was Adwa and Benard. They are a sweet couple from Ghana. We met Benard a few weeks ago, but were finally able to teach him and his wife together this week. Another was a different lady from Ghana named Edna. We found her towards the end of the night one night last week. We were about to leave the area we were in but decided to try a few more people and wound up teaching her for 20 minutes about the Book of Mormon and she’s curious to learn more.

We’ve been working with this couple, Andres and Cindy. They are a young, newly married couple that have a baby daughter. They live just around ne the corner from our apartment and they are super awesome! He’s from Chile and she is from Mexico, but they both have spent most of their lives here and are pretty Americanized. They are still proud of their Latino heritage. We met them a couple months back, but have had 2 really good lessons with them this past week. We are excited to help them continue to learn. I seriously couldn’t help but thinking of them dressed in white being sealed in the temple. as we were sitting there teaching them. I know that if they sincerely act on the things we invite them to do, that they will gain a firm testimony. We relate to them really well, perhaps because they’re only a couple years older than us. Andres has been really in tune with the spirit, and he especially recognizes it when we pray with them. I’m grateful for the unity and the spirit that prayer can bring to a group of individuals.

Eshetu and Nestanet, a couple from Ethiopia that were
baptized earlier this year. We had a really good lesson with them
about prayer, and talked about the importance of them praying together as a couple. They both said they always pray at the beginning and end of each day, but never pray together. They were excited to accept our invitation to start praying together daily. I know that that will help their relationship grow stronger!

One of the common concerns that a lot of people have that we teach is that they are skeptical of organized religion. I can understand that when they’ve had bad experiences in churches in the past, or when they see corruption going in different churches they’ve tried attending. I’m grateful to know that the organization we belong to, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, isn’t an organization merely put together by men, but rather it is an organization “built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Ephesians 2:20). I know that Jesus Christ is at the head of this church and that he leads it through his appointed servants on the earth today.

Last Tuesday we took the departing missionaries to the temple, and it was another great experience at the temple! I came on my mission with the expectation that I’d only get to go there 4 times over the course of 24 months, but I’m grateful to have gone many more times than that. Going at the end of each transfer for the past 5 transfers has been awesome. And being able to go with recent converts has been a great experience as well. This was technically my departing temple trip as well. We were able to have a testimony meeting and dinner at the mission home the night before taking the missionaries to the airport. There’s always such a special spirit in that testimony meeting!

We aren’t able to go up to the Temple Visitors Center this year like we were last year. But here’s a few pictures that a member took that went up there this week. The DC Temple “Festival of Lights” is a super popular event that goes on the entire month of December, with musical performances in the auditorium of the visitors center every night. 

I hope you all have an incredible week! Don’t forget to #LIGHTtheWORLD with daily acts of service throughout the month of December. Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 27, 2017

November 27, 2017 2 New Comps

Hey everyone!

Elder Ure and I
 with President and Sister Huntsman

First things first. Elder Ure goes home this week, so he needed a replacement. On Friday night I got two new companions! Since I’m going home 4 weeks into the transfer, President decided to bring in two new Assistants, instead of bringing one in now and then another one a few weeks later. So my two new companions are Elder Smith and Elder Gleed! They’re great. I’ll be in a trio with them for the rest of my mission. We spent the past couple days training them and teaching them on how to do everything in preparation for transfers.
It’s a weird feeling saying bye to Elder Ure. I’m grateful to have spent the last 6 months with him. Not too many missionaries get to have a companion for 4 transfers, and I’ve been able to do that twice. Today we picked up a group of new missionaries at the airport and tomorrow will be transfers, and early Wednesday morning we’ll drop off the departing missionaries at the airport.

It’s been fun being in a “quad” for a few days. It’s
really interesting proselyting with 4 of us all together, and will soon be 3 of us. It’s cool though, because we’ve been able to split up in twos and find and teach people at the same time. We’ve also had a couple lessons with the 4 of us that’ve been great.

President and Sister Huntsman

President and Sister Huntsman and their family are so awesome.
They have 8 kids and a few son-in-laws.
I think there’s one child missing in this picture.
We enjoyed spending part of Thanksgiving Day with their family!

We had a great Thanksgiving Day! President and Sister Huntsman invited us to join them and their family for an early dinner. Each year of their mission they’ve gone to Mt. Vernon for Thanksgiving, so we joined them at the restaurant there. They had all 8 of their kids here, so it was fun to be able to meet all of them and spend some time with their family. After our meal, we also took a tour of Mt. Vernon, which was my 2nd time going there. It’s a pretty neat place to be, walking where so many prominent early leaders of this nation have been in George Washington’s home. We drive by Mt Vernon every Sunday because our church building is on the Potomac River just down the road from it.

On Thanksgiving, we also went to our investigator Kwadwo’s house, where we were invited to attend for dinner. There were probably 30 Ghanaians there, none of whom were members of the church. It was super fun! We were able to meet a ton of new people and enjoy their food.

Elder Ure and I with Dorothy at her baptism!!

Dorothy Smith was baptized on Saturday! She’s been working towards this day for a long time, so it was a special day! I’ve been teaching her since my very first week in this area. I’ll be honest, when I first met her it was hard to believe that she would progress towards baptism, but as we were patient and persistent with her, we were able to help her make small changes, a little bit at a time to help her prepare for baptism. She was pretty nervous leading up to her baptism, but it went it really well! Elder Ure baptized Dorothy, and then our new bishop confirmed her on Sunday.
Pam has been such an amazing support to Dorothy, and so have the other members of the ward. Elder Ure said goodbye to both of them last night and they were both sad to see us split up, but were excited for him to go home.
Recently I studied a lot about patience. I love what Preach My Gospel teaches us about patience. “Patience is the capacity to endure delay, trouble, opposition, or suffering without becoming angry, frustrated, or anxious. It is the ability to do God’s will and accept His timing. When you are patient, you hold up under pressure and are able to face adversity calmly and hopefully. Patience is related to hope and faith--you must wait for the Lord’s promised blessings to be fulfilled.
You need patience in your everyday experiences and relationships... You must be patient with all people, yourself included, as you work to overcome faults and weaknesses.”
I’ve thought about that first sentence a lot. In order to measure how patient we are, we just have to see how long we can go without getting “angry, frustrated, or anxious.” I have learned that I am generally pretty patient with myself and with others and hope to continue to develop more patience.

Here’s our mission picture from a couple weeks ago with Elder Andersen, and a few other General Authorities. I’m so grateful to serve alongside so many wonderful missionaries! You can find me on the left hand side of the picture.

It’s going to be a busy and exciting next few weeks! I’m looking forward to it! I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 20, 2017

November 20, 2017 Elder Mervyn B Arnold and OMARR!

Hey everyone!

Long time waiting for this special day!
Omarr and I before his baptism.

We had a pretty busy week this week, with some mission conferences, and lots of lessons and finding more people to teach. We’ve been putting a little bit more extra effort into talking to everyone we see. We had a cool experience finding some pretty sweet people while pumping gas at a gas station. I’m grateful for Elder Ure and his desire to work hard to the end. He goes home next week and I will get a new companion!

This past Saturday was a day that I had been looking forward to since my first transfer here in the mission field. My first few weeks in Virginia, I was able to teach Ami Koroma, and her children, Kadija and Omarr. Kadija was 8 at the time and Omarr was only 6. I remember the day that Ami and Kadija were baptized (February 13th, 2016), which still feels like it was just yesterday. I remember Omarr was sad because he wished he could’ve been baptized with them. I told Omarr that I would still be a missionary when he turns 8 years old, and I promised him that I would come to his baptism. I was able to go back on Saturday to attend his baptism and keep my promise to him. Bishop Duersch (who is now President Duersch in the Stake presidency), baptized Omarr.

 Omar, Kadija, Ami and I.

I just felt so happy being there! It’s been cool to see everything come full circle with that family! It’s been an amazing experience seeing this family stay so faithful and converted. They’ve hardly missed any Sundays of church for nearly two years. Ami was able to go to the temple for her endowment earlier this year, and now her mother Kadiatu is getting ready to go to the temple as welll. Ami continues too share the e gospel with her friends and family. She invited 3 nonmembers to come attend Omarr’s baptism! Ami, Kadija, and Omar, along with their many extended family members and friends that have joined the church as a direct result of them, will always have a special place in my heart!
It felt like I was “home” being there at that baptism. It was fun reuniting with so many of the members in the Centreville 1st Ward, where I spent the first 6 months of my mission.

President Duersch, Omarr and Ami 

We had Elder Mervyn B Arnold of the 70 visit our mission this week for a Mission Tour. It kept us pretty busy. On Wednesday night, Elder Arnold and President Huntsman We had two half-mission conferences on two different days. The night before the Conferences Elder Arnold and President Huntsman came with Elder Ure and I to our area to visit a member family and do a missionary activity with them. Once we got there he told us to “observe well, you’ll be training the mission tomorrow on how this is done.” So we sat there and participated as he did this activity with the family. It was an activity out of Preach My Gospel and it works really well to get the members thinking about people who they could begin to share the gospel. We’re excited to start doing it with the members in our ward! Elder Arnold is such a spiritual man, and I learned a lot from him over the course of the 3 days we were with him. Elder Ure and I each had an opportunity to have a personal interview with him as well which was a neat experience.

Elders Woellhaf, Ure, Oldroyd, and I.
 I 'm always enjoy doing exchanges with the
different sets of Zone Leaders each week. 

He taught a lot of practical things we can do to find more people to teach, how to work better with members, how to be better teachers, etc.
But I’m more grateful for all of the doctrine he taught about and the spirit that was felt during the meeting. I’m excited to see our mission apply the things that he and his wife taught us over the two conferences!

Dorothy is doing really well! She has gone 10 days without smoking now and is excited to be baptized! We’ve been working with her ever since my first week in this ward back at the end of April, so it’s cool to see how much progress she has made, even though it’s been relatively slow, it’s cool to see where she is now. She recognizes a huge difference in her life and in herself and we can see it too.

It’s crazy to think that my sister is in her last full week as a missionary! It’s weird to think that I started 5 months before and will still be here for a month after she’s done. But I’m extremely grateful to be here longer! You are a great example Jenny! Finish strong!

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 13, 2017

November 13, 2017 Elder Neil L. Andersen

Hey everyone!

This past week was great!

 On Saturday, we had a mission-wide meeting with Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles. He was accompanied by Elder S. Gifford Nielsen of the 70, and Bishop Gérald Caussé, the Presiding Bishop of the church.
It was a wonderful meeting! President and Sister Huntsman bore brief testimonies at the beginning and then the general authorities took the majority of the meeting. The meeting was only about 2 and half hours, but it was great.
Elder Ure, Brian Gore and Elder Duvall

Elder Nielsen was a former BYU Quarterback, a quarterback in the NFL, and a sports broadcaster. His talk was inspiring and motivating. He talked a lot about getting the most out of our time as full-time missionaries, telling us that we “cannot afford to waste a single minute,” that there is too much at stake. This is my only time to be a full-time proselyting missionary. I love what the Missionary Handbook says about time as a missionary:
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven” (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Time is one of the most precious resources Heavenly Father has given you. The period when you are able to serve the Lord with all your time and all your efforts is extremely short. Use it fully and wisely. Such an opportunity is a privilege.”

Bishop Caussé centered his remarks on a scripture from 1st Corinthians 2:3-5, which states “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching was not with enticing words of man’s wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power: That your faith should not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”
He talked a lot about how our missions are important times in our lives where we can learn how to access spiritual power. A quote from him that I really liked was that “A bold missionary is a humble missionary.” Sometimes we hold back ourselves from being bold out of fear. But if we are bold with the people we meet, and do it lovingly, that actually shows our humility and willingness to do what the Lord would have us do.

Elder Andersen gave us some practical tips on ideas of things we could try to do to find more people to teach and see more success in our individual wards, but most of his remarks to us were about Jesus Christ. He asked missionaries to stand up and share scriptures that we have memorized about Jesus Christ from the New Testament and from the Book of Mormon. He challenged us to identify a few scriptures that we truly do believe about Christ, and then remember those scriptures whenever we begin to have doubts about anything in the gospel. He talked about how so often he meets young adults in the church who are beginning to have their doubts, questions, and concerns about the church. Maybe they have doubts about the calling of Jospeh Smith as a prophet. Maybe they have doubts about the validity of the Book of Mormon. Maybe they have doubts about current church leadership or policies, etc. No matter what our doubts and questions are, Elder Andersen firmly told us to “never lose our testimony and relationship with Christ.” That is the most important thing we need to hold onto. He wants us all to memorize scriptures that we truly believe about Christ. I think that’s a wonderful invitation. We will all have various doubts and concerns that come up at different times in our lives. Some doubts may come as a result of trials and tragedies in our lives. Some may come as a result of the actions and decisions of others. But no mattter what we go through, we should NEVER doubt the example, the life, the mission, the atoning sacrifice, the resurrection, and the infinite love of our Savior! He invited us to constantly evaluate ourselves and ask “What do I really believe about Jesus Christ? and How can I improve my relationship with him?” If we stay solid on the foundation of Jesus Christ, I know we will never fall away into the “mists of darkness” of this world.

The spirit in the chapel was strong get as Elder Andersen bore his testimony of President Monson’s calling as a prophet, and his testimony and witness of Jesus Christ. I am grateful to have been able to attend this meeting and learn from numerous leaders of the church, and to be able to shake their hands and interact with them was special.

We had a fun experience on an exchange this week. I was with
Elder Wright for the day and we went to teach Konadu, one of
our investigators. She watches some of the neighborhood kids for work,
mostly Ghanaian kids, a couple Hispanic. We started trying to teach her,
but it was hopeless with all the kids running around making noise. 

It’s a busy couple of weeks in our mission. This week, we are having two half-mission conferences with Elder Mervyn B Arnold of the 70. These conferences will be a full day event. Half the mission one day, half the mission the next. But Elder Ure and I have to attend both days because we’ve been asked to conduct the meetings. The night before the half mission conference, Elder Arnold will be coming with President Huntsman into our area for the evening to proselyte and make some visits. We are nervous but excited for that!

So Elder Wright went on one side of the room and gathered
them together to teach them a simple lesson about Jesus.
They absolutely loved him. He’s super tall, white,
and has blonde hair, and some of the kids were rubbing
their hands through his hair as if they have never seen a
blonde person before. As he occupied them and taught
them, keeping them quiet, I taught a lesson to Konadu and
 her brother all by myself. It was a fun experience!

Another highlight of our week has been teaching Dorothy. She’s made tremendous progress over the past few weeks. She’s been coming to church and learning a lot. She told us yesterday “You’re the two best missionaries that I’ve ever had!” However, in our minds we think, “well, we’re the only missionaries you’ve ever had, since we’ve been together for nearly the whole 6 months since we’ve been teaching you.” She did used to meet with JW’s, so I guess maybe she’s comparing us to them.
She had a baptismal interview, but apparently needs some more time to work on quitting smoking. We gave her a priesthood blessing a few days ago, then at church on Sunday she said “I don’t remember what you guys said when you laid your hands on my head, but it’s workin’! I was about to smoke, but I felt the strength to not do it” and now she has gone two or three days without smoking. We’re hoping she can have the strength to continue to overcome it so she can be baptized in a couple weeks.

Things are going great in our area. We also have a part-member family who we’ve been working with quite a bit, and the wife finally chose a baptismal date for the end of December!

Elder Ure is in his last couple weeks as a missionary, but we’re staying focused, trying our best to get out and work hard every day!

I hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, November 6, 2017

November6, 2017 Baptism & Pentagon

Hey everyone!

This week was great! It’s hard to believe that it is November!

We’ve been teaching Pam a lot over the past 8 weeks!
Here’s a couple pictures from her baptism on Saturday.
President Huntsman performed the baptismal ordinance,
which was pretty neat.

We had daily contact with Pam every day for the last two week, leading up to her baptism on Saturday! We had a few really good lessons with her leading up to the big day. In one lesson we read out of 1 Nephi 8 and 11, talking about Lehi’s vision of the tree of life. Pam has received some opposition from family members about her decision to be baptized, but we encouraged her to ignore the the people mocking her from the side and focus on the end goal and the path that she’s on. In all of our lessons, we usually have taught her in her home, bringing members and recent converts with us to teach her. We did have one lesson with her the night before her baptism in a members home that was great! She has been able to connect well with a lot of members and has told us she has never met so many genuine friendly people in her life!
I believe that President Huntsman was truly inspired to keep Elder Ure and I together one more transfer, so that we could help Pam. I know we were meant to meet her. I have no doubt that the Holy Ghost prompted her to step out on her balcony the day we met her. She saw us and “felt the need to step outside” to see where we would walk. I know we were placed in her path, and that she was placed in ours.
She tells us that we have a special place in her heart and continues to express so much gratitude to us and to the members of the ward who have helped her to make the changes that she’s made to bring the peace and joy of the gospel into her life.

So, after a long week, Pam was baptized on Saturday! She met President Huntsman a couple weeks ago, when he interviewed her for her baptism, and she asked him to perform her baptism for her. It was a pretty cool feeling having our mission President baptize our investigator! The baptismal service went great. A coworker of hers, who she has known and worked with for four years spoke at her baptism, and I spoke as well. It’s been a little less than 2 months since we first started teaching Pam, and once her coworker found out Pam was meeting with the missionaries, she has been a good support to her, encouraging her and answering her questions. There’s been so many pieces of the puzzle that just fell together at the right place at the right time to help Pam make it to where she is today. I’m excited to see her continue to learn, grow, and progress in the gospel! She has made the first step of many great decisions that I know will bless her life eternally! It’s amazing to see the gospel work in her life.

We have a less-active member of our ward who bakes and decorates cakes for a living. We thought it would be a good idea to arrange for her to make a cake for President Huntsman, who turned 50 years old today! Last night we surprised him at our mission office, along with his wife and kids, and enjoyed some delicious cake with them. He’s not huge on celebrating birthdays, but we knew we had to do something special for him! He does so much for us. It was fun for us to treat him to that. It was a fun surprise and the cake was delicious!

We took a private tour of the Pentagon today!
 I’ve driven by it tons of times over the past
two years  and have always wanted to go inside.
 Finally got to do it today!

This morning we had the opportunity to go to the Pentagon and do a private tour. A member that lives here in Alexandria works there and took us on a tour for 2 hours. He took us to a lot of different hallways and offices where the public tours don’t have access to, so that was pretty cool! It was a cool feeling walking by all of these really high up official offices and walking through the halls of the Pentagon.

He showed us where the plane hit on 9/11 and took us to the memorial outside. My favorite part of the whole tour was hearing about his experience on 9/11/01 when he was working in the Pentagon the day it got hit. He wasn’t that far from where the plane actually crashed. He shared with us his experience, sharing so many details of running and tripping through the smoke-filled hallways trying to escape the building, and then describing the scene outside. He got emotional and remembers everything like it was just yesterday. He wasn’t a member of the church back then though. He is a convert to the church, who joined just a few years ago. He actually started investigating the church after seeing “The Book of Mormon” musical, so he’s got a pretty cool conversion story.

It was a cool experience walking around inside,
but it was cool to see the
9/11 Memorial outside the Pentagon.
Each bench has a name engraved on it and
 represents a person who died either in the Pentagon,
or in the plane that crashed into it.

Elder Dunn, Ure, Jones, and I.

A commonly quoted talk by President Uchtdorf titled “Come, Join With Us” was a talk we shared with Pam prior to her baptism, when she had expressed some of her uncertainty.

“Some might ask, “But what about my doubts?”
It’s natural to have questions--the acorn of honest inquiry has often sprouted and matured into a great oak of understanding. There are few members of the Church who, at one time or another, have not wrestled with serious or sensitive questions. One of the purposes of the Church is to nurture and cultivate the seed of faith--even in the sometimes sandy soil of doubt and uncertainty. Faith is to hope for things which are not seen but which are true.
Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters--my dear friends--please, first doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith. We must never allow doubt to hold us prisoner and keep us from the divine love, peace, and gifts that come through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Here’s a cool path nearby our church building.
I love the Virginia trees in the Fall!

I love what this talk teaches us! We are all going to have questions and doubts. That’s natural. But it’s important that we do not let doubt hold us back from exercising our faith. The peace, love, and gifts that come as a result of strong faith is so great!

A kind lady that we taught yesterday.
Her name is Konadu. She met with missionaries
about 2 years ago somewhere else, and was
super happy to meet us again.

This upcoming Saturday, Elder Anderson, Bishop Caussé, and some other general authorities will be visiting our mission! We are excited for it!

I love you all! Hope you have a great week!
Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission