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

Monday, October 30, 2017

October 30, 2017 Overcoming the World

Hey everyone!

Lunch at our favorite Mongolian grill,
called Ghengis Grill.

Elder Ure and I had a pretty good week! This week was pretty busy. We had three different exchanges with different sets of zone leaders on three different days. I feel that doing so many exchanges each transfer keeps me on my toes and helps me to keep working hard and helps me to avoid just “going through motions.” Trying to help some of these younger missionaries, helps me to make sure I give my best effort as we are out talking to people, teaching and finding. I’m also able to learn a lot from them.

With Elders Baldwin and Baxter on exchange.
He’s got some pretty long arms

Our ward had the Halloween trunk-or-treat, chili-cook-off activity this past weekend. Pam came to the activity and had a great time and was able meet a lot more members. She even brought her own candy to pass out to all the kids with us. It was fun! She fit in well with everyone and is getting more and more comfortable with everything.

On Saturday, the Sister missionaries in our ward had one of their investigators get baptized. Pam came to observe the baptism, to get an idea of what hers will be like soon. She even drove our other investigator Dorothy to the baptism. It’s the coolest thing when you have your investigators fellowshipping each other and helping one another out. While driving back home, Pam was expressing some nerves and uneasiness about her baptism and if she’s ready, but Dorothy assured her that she is ready! It’s been up and down this week with Pam, one day she’s unsure about everything, then the next day she’s committed. We hope to help her feel that she is ready! We will be seeing her again tonight.
Pam then also drove Dorothy to church on Sunday, which was cool to have them both there.

We also had one of our Ghanaian investigators, named Kwadwo come to church yesterday. We met him three or four weeks ago and have been teaching him quite a bit. We have some solid members of the ward from Ghana that befriended him really well.

Another exchange with Elders Smith and Nielsen.

So we had 3 investigators at church, and of course the service was bit different than usual. The bishop of our ward got released and we now have brand new bishopric! So there were testimonies given by the former bishop, the new bishop, and their wives. Our investigators enjoyed church though!

As for our lessons with Dorothy, she is making great progress on living the word of wisdom. It’s cool to see her, as she has made effort to quit smoking, she is able to understand everything we teach much better. The scripture D&C 89:18-19 is so true; “And all saints who remember to keep and do these sayings, walking in obedience to the commandments, shall receive health in their navel and marrow to their bones; And shall find wisdom and great treasures of knowledge, even hidden treasures...” Dorothy’s understanding has increased rapidly since she has been trying to follow the Word of Wisdom.

I’ve been reading through some of Elder Neil L. Anderson’s Conference talks in preparation for his visit to our mission in a couple weeks. I really enjoyed his talk from  this last April, which was about “Overcoming the World.” Here are a few things he said as he defined what it means to “overcome the world”:

“Overcoming the world is not one defining moment in a lifetime, but a lifetime of moments that define an eternity.
Overcoming the world means treasuring the greatest commandment: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength.”
Overcoming the world is keeping our promises to God--our baptismal and temple covenants and our oath of faithfulness to our eternal companion.
Overcoming the world will always mean that we will have some beliefs that are ridiculed by the world.
Overcoming the world is being less concerned with our online connections and more concerned with our heavenly connection to God.
Overcoming the world is remembering, even when we are discouraged, the times we have felt the love and light of the Savior.
May we each try a little harder in our efforts to overcome the world, not excusing serious offenses yet being patient with minor slips and falls, eagerly hastening our speed and generously helping others.”

There is so much opposition in this world, and so many things that we have to overcome. I’m grateful for the Savior and the heavenly help that He can give us as we strive to  overcome the world. I recommend reading through this talk!

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, October 23, 2017

October 23, 2017 By Divine Design

Hey everyone!

At the mission home with the new
missionaries, and Daniel and Ellie,
two of president Huntsman's children

Every missionary gets to sign the "Endure to the End Flag"
towards the end of their mission.
 I signed my name inside the D of D.C. South

We had a busy first week of the transfer! We had 26 new missionaries, with only 12 that went home, so we had numerous areas open up throughout the mission.
Since we have new senior couples in the office, they always have lots of questions for us on how certain things should be done. I'm grateful that we are able to help them out. It's been a busy transition for them over the past few weeks!

President Huntsman does a special meeting a couple times a year for missionaries that are in the final few months of their mission. He calls this meeting the "Endure to the End" meeting, and we discussed things we can do to make sure we continue to work hard every day and stay focused to the very end. I really enjoyed the meeting! He started the meeting by playing a brief video clip to the group of missionaries. The video he showed was of me, opening up my mission call over two years ago! He had all of the missionaries think back to the day they opened up their mission call, and reflect on the reasons why they decided to serve a mission, and then think about all of the experiences we have had over the course of our mission. Then he had us think of specific things we can do and that we can change over our final transfers to make sure we finish strong. I really enjoyed watching that video of me opening my call! It felt like it was yesterday. But it was cool to reflect on that, and I hope I can continue to work hard each day to the end!

 This picture is in the basement of the mission home.

We've taught Pam all of the lessons and she passed her baptismal interview this last week! We will continue to teach her and read out of the Book of Mormon with her over the next couple weeks and help her continue to be ready for her baptism. It will most likely be on November 4th or 11th. She continues to tell us that we have "saved her life" and that she is so grateful for everything that has happened. We found out this week that she has a coworker that she's been working with for a few years that is a member of the church that lives in a different ward. She told her member friend that she was meeting with the missionaries and is planning on getting baptized. This news surprised her friend, but she is very happy for her and has been a good support in encouraging her! Her friend will likely speak at her baptism. President Huntsman did her baptismal interview and she's thinking of asking President Huntsman to perform her baptism, so that will be pretty cool!

We ran into Eshetu at the airport last week.
He's a recent convert in our ward that works
 there, so every time we pick up the
missionaries we try to find him.

Our investigator Dorothy is doing really well! We had a lesson where we had planned to teach her about the Word of Wisdom, and before we even began teaching the lesson she told us that since she's been meeting with us she's felt much more positivity in her life, and she's felt the need to make changes. Before us ever teaching the Word of Wisdom or ever encouraging her to try and stop smoking, she decided that she was going to work on quitting. She said that it felt like the right thing to do, even though we had never brought it up before. It was cool to see her act on those promptings, and it allowed that lesson go really well.

We were invited to a lunch/meeting this week with our Stake Presidency, the high councilmen over missionary work, and President Huntsman. They wanted to discuss the progress of the missionary work in the Mt. Vernon Stake, and brainstorm ideas on what the Stake and Ward leaders, and members, can be doing to better support the missionary work in the Stake. I've really enjoyed over the course of my mission being able to interact with different leaders in the different Stakes in our mission and have learned a lot from them. Our meeting with them was at the Army Navy Country Club in Arlington, VA, because one of members of the Stake Presidency is a member there. It was a neat experience.

In really looking forward to the next few weeks! On November 11th, we will be having a special mission-wide conference, where we will be having a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles visit our mission! He will be joined by the Presiding Bishop of the church, Bishop Gérald Caussé and a couple other General authority seventies. They were going to be here that weekend for other meetings, and decided that they would try to fill their time here and add a visit to our mission.
The following week after that we will be having two, half-mission Conferences with Elder Mervyn B. Arnold of the Seventy. This had already been on the calendar for a long time. The night before the half-mission conferences, Elder Arnold has requested to spend the evening with President Huntsman and his assistants in their proselyting area. So he will be coming with us to visit an active member family in our ward and possibly one of our investigators. That will be a pretty neat experience having a general authority, along with our mission president, both come out with us for an evening in our area!

One of my favorite talks from Conference that I re-read his week was Elder Rasbands talk, "By Divine Design." I liked this paragraph from his talk.
"Through the experience of my own life’s journey, I know that the Lord will move us on that seeming chessboard to do His work. What may appear to be a random chance is, in fact, overseen by a loving Father in Heaven, who can number the hairs of every head. Not even a sparrow falls to the ground without our Father’s notice. The Lord is in the small details of our lives, and those incidents and opportunities are to prepare us to lift our families and others as we build the kingdom of God on earth. Remember, as the Lord said to Abraham, “I know the end from the beginning; therefore my hand shall be over thee.”
There truly are no accidents when we are going about the Lord's work. It's cool to see how the Lord places different people or experiences in our lives, not by coincidence, but for a purpose. I know that what Elder Rasband said is true. I know that "the Lord is in the small details of our lives" and that he is constantly preparing us for what lies ahead in the future.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, October 16, 2017

October 16, 2017 BIG NEWS!

Hey everyone!

Last week we met this lady from Ghana who owns
her own clothing store. We went there and started
trying on different shirts and things. I found this
 African man-dress thing and thought it was
pretty cool, so I bought it. We meet men from
Ghana all the time that walk around wearing things
 like this, in all different colors. But we spoke in
Twi to her and had to sing her a couple African songs,
which helped me to get it for close to 50% off!
It was pretty sweet!

I've got some pretty sweet news- something I didn't expect at all. Surprise! Elder Ure and I will be doing a 4th transfer together!! Neither of us will be getting transferred! Last year, I did 4 transfers (which is about 6 months) with Elder Judkins. Now this year I'll also be doing 6 months with the same companion. It's extremely rare for a companionship to stay together for 4 transfers. In fact, the last time President Huntsman did it was with me and Elder Judkins last year! I guess you could use the saying "Why fix something that's not broken?" Elder Ure and I are working well together, trying our best to continue to work hard in our area, and trying our best to be of good support to the missionaries in the mission.
We have some pretty special things coming up in our mission this next transfer, with some General authorities visiting the mission, and President Huntsman felt that it would be best if he kept us together for one more transfer. He was struggling trying to discern who should stay, who should go, and who should come in to replace one of us, and he didn't know why it was such a hard decision to make. But he told us the reason why he was struggling to make a decision was because he realized that neither of us are supposed to go but that he wanted us to stay one more together.

Elder Ure has a good sense of humor.
"No better place to receive revelation than 
on the toilet."

I couldn't believe it initially, but I'm pretty excited about it! This is Elder Ure's last transfer too, which makes me assume that I will probably finish out my mission here in the Ft. Belvoir Ward, because I go home the following transfer. So I will end up being here for about 6 transfers (a little less than 9 months).

This past week was great! We had a couple exchanges. For one of them, I was able to go to another ward for a day, that covers Old Town Alexandria. It was fun biking around there talking to lots of people.

We had two more lessons with Pam, teaching her more of the commandments. We've pretty much finished teaching her all of the required lessons for baptism, now it's just a matter of having her come to church a couple more times and she'll be ready! She sent us a text one day that was super awesome! She told us how grateful she was for us and how big of a difference we've made in her life in the past month. She explained that at the beginning of meeting with us she was having some doubts and concerns, but recognized that those were from the adversary, and decided she needed to ignore those thoughts. We have her baptismal interview scheduled and her baptism will likely be on November 4th.

Our investigator Dorothy came to church again for the second time yesterday, it was the primary program and she really enjoyed it. The testimonies of little children are the best!

Two of my favorite converts that I've helped on 
my mission. Michael and Chris are both preparing 
to go to the temple since they've almost been 
members for a year!

We had another New and Returning Member Fireside last night. This one was great! I was able to introduce the 5 speakers. The first was a recent convert from Ghana that was found at a bus stop by missionaries on a cold day, and baptized a few weeks later. The second was a man from Louisiana, who searched his questions about salvation on google and wound up on, and then showed up at the local church building in Annandale. The third was a lady from Samoa who went to the LDS church as a little child, but the family went inactive for a long time, and she just recently started coming back to church and was baptized a couple months ago. The fourth was a Mom from China, who gave her conversion story in Mandarin and one of the Chinese elders translated her talk. She grew up Buddhist, and had a 25 year period of time learning about Christianity before she finally felt that she found the right church and was baptized into the church recently. And the fifth speaker was a man who works at the Pentagon, and whose wife and kids have been active, faithful members of the church for 20 years. He talked about how his daughter going on a mission to California and returning home was a huge factor in his decision to finally be baptized after many years of attending church with the family.

 Elder Ostendorf and I at the new
Member Fireside with Michael.

It's amazing how everyone's stories are all so different, but the joy and the spirit that the gospel has brought into each of their lives is the same.
I love how every single one of us have our own conversion stories. Some happen really fast, some take many years. People from all different backgrounds and from all over the world, can receive the same blessings of the restored gospel in their lives. And once that initial conversion takes place, we can continually become more and more converted to the gospel throughout our lives.

One of the talks from the recent General Conference that I enjoyed was by Elder  Stanley G. Ellis. The title of the talk is "Do We Trust Him? Hard is Good." He gave many example of different stories where people faced adversity and trials but that the "hard" was what allowed them to grow. He said "we see that hard is the constant! We all have challenges. The variable is our reaction to the hard."
There's no question that each of us are going to go through hard times in our lives. That's a fact. What matters most is that we can choose how to respond and react to the trials that we face. We can choose to exercise faith and make decisions to keep moving forward, or we can choose to back down and give up. If we respond correctly, then we'll be able to learn what God wants us to learn through adversity, and make it out on top.

Today we will be at the airport again picking up another big group of new missionaries! I'm excited to meet all of them, it's always fun being with them on their first day.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, October 9, 2017

October 9, 2017 Love the Lord thy God

Hey everyone!

Another busy week here in Fort Belvoir! Every week just seems to fly by!

Elder Hastings, one of the Zone Leaders,
and I, with the coolest recent convert Eshetu.

We were able to teach Pam a couple more times this week and she made it to church on Sunday! We taught a really good lesson on obedience to commandments in general, emphasizing prayer and scripture study, as well as a lesson on the Word of Wisdom. I love the scripture from Matthew 22:36-40 where Christ explains the two greatest commandments.
"Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets."
Every commandment that we're are given by God is an opportunity for us to show our love for Him and our love for others. When teaching any commandment, whether it be the 10 commandments, tithing, the word of wisdom, Chastity, etc., I love sharing this scripture first because it sets a good foundation. Every commandment ties back to showing our love and gratitude towards our Father in Heaven. As we taught the Word of Wisdom, Pam agreed with it all! She understands the importance of the commandment and is willing to start trying to live it. There are a couple things she is going to need to work on, but I know she can do it! She had a great time at church yesterday and the testimonies that were given were perfect for her to hear. She's excited to come again next week!

Elder Ure and I with our investigator Kwadwo.
His name means he was born on a Monday. 
Each day of the week has they're own name. 
I am Kofi, which is Friday, and 
Elder Ure is Kwasi, which is Sunday

We also found a sweet new investigator this week named Kwadwo. He's from Ghana and just barely moved here to Virginia about three weeks ago. We met him at the beginning of last week and we have already taught him three times! He is so humble and receptive to everything we've taught him. He believes everything we've taught and keeps every commitment that we've extended to him. He's in his mid 20's and is a good friend. When we see him we call him "mah damfo," which in Twi means "my friend."

We were able to teach an awesome lesson to a Nigerian family that we found last week! I can't pronounce their native Nigerian names, but they go by Paul and Amanda. They have three of the most respectful and kind little kids ever! It was fun teaching them. In the middle of our lesson, their 3 year old was trying to be welcoming to us, their guests, so he went to the refrigerator and grab a Corona Light beer and wanted to give it to me. I thought it was super funny! Paul felt really bad about it and apologized, and told his son to grab us some water. It was nice of the little boy to do that for us, it's the thought that counts, right? Another funny part of that lesson was when Paul randomly cut us off and said "Your church is Jon Huntsman's church right?" We said "Yes, he is a member of our church." That comment caught us off guard and we started laughing, and had to explain our connection to the Huntsman's. We told him that we'd be seeing his brother later that evening and he was surprised. Paul is really into politics and stuff. We're thinking of getting President Huntsman to come join us in teaching him a lesson.

President Huntsman up frontat the amphitheater speaking to all of us.

President Huntsman decided to have our Mission Leadership Council meeting at Burke Lake, which is nearby the mission home. We did it at the little amphitheater near the lake. He said that every time he goes there it reminds him of the Sacred Grove. The first part of our meeting was having everyone share an experience or story about the Prophet Joseph Smith, or a revelation, quote, or teaching that he gave. It was a great meeting at a beautiful location! I am so grateful for the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ, and my testimony of it increases little by little each and every day.

Here are all of the Zone Leaders and
Sister Training Leaders in our mission right now-
a great group of people!

Well, this is the last week of the transfer! It's hard to believe that I've already done about 6 months in this area! Elder Ure and I have been together now for three transfers, and we are assuming that I'll be getting transferred to another area, since I came into this area first. But President Huntsman hasn't told us yet whose staying and whose leaving. We do know that one of us will be getting transferred though, we will find out within the next couple days who is leaving and who is coming in to replace one of us. This week will be busy in preparation for the new transfer!

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, October 2, 2017

October 2, 2017 "Light"

Hey everyone!

We went to the George Washington Masonic Memorial museum today. I went outside of it once last year, but today we paid for a tour to go inside and to the top. It was really intriguing learning more about Free Masonry!Some interesting similarities, that's for sure.

Cool statue of George Washington,one of the most prominent Masons

From the top of the George Washington Masonic Memorial Museum.
With Elders Bryson, Benard, Dunn, Jones, Ure and myself

One of the upper floors,
which had some cool stained glass windows.

A picture from the top, looking towards D.C.

 A panoramic looking into downtown Alexandria, with King Street right down the middle.
D.C. Is on the far left on the other side of the river.
You can also see the Free Mason symbol down in the center of the picture


We had a pretty busy week, with 3 exchanges with different sets of zone leaders. We always seem to meet and find some cool people on exchanges.

We met a really awesome guy named Samuel this week. Samuel is from Liberia. I don't know what it is about Liberians, but out of all the different Africans we teach, they probably have my favorite accent to listen to. Anyways, we parked our car and got out, and Samuel was one of the first people we street contacted. We ended up walking with him for about 20 minutes towards his house, teaching him the entire first lesson as we walked with him. By the time we got to his house and finished talking to him about the Book of Mormon, we found out that his cousin is a less-active member of our ward who we've been trying to work with. Samuel didn't even know that his cousin was a member of our church, but once we found out they had the same last names, we made the connection. Samuel is excited for us to come back this evening to teach him again and to meet his wife!

 With Elders Medrum, Ure, Smith, and Williams.
They were in a trio and we had an exchange
with them this week.

We had two really good lessons with Pam this past week. We taught her the Plan of Salvation and Gospel of Jesus Christ lessons, and she is progressing really well. In both lessons we brought different members from the ward that were able to connect with her really well. She was really curious to hear their testimonies and asked them herself how they came to believe everything. Listening to her, I can tell how genuine she is with her desire to learn and to come to know if what we teach is true. A lot of people we teach seem to be really interested in simply learning about what we believe, just to increase their knowledge. But Pam is different, and is committed to finding out for herself if it's true. In our second lesson with her she brought up how excited she was to come to church on Sunday, but we had General Conference, so she was a bit disappointed that we weren't having our regular church service, but she was excited to watch some of the conference. She's awesome!

Had to pick up some Krispy Kreme
 donuts in between sessions of conference on Saturday.

I really enjoyed General Conference this weekend. It's hard to believe that this was my 4th General Conference as a missionary! I always receiving revelation from the Lord through the leaders of His church. I learned a lot from all of the different speakers and look forward to reading and studying all of their talks again in the coming weeks.

One of the talks that I particularly enjoyed was President Uchtdorf's talk from the priesthood session, where he talked about light.
He said "Darkness is not an indication that there is no light. Most often, it simply means we are not in the right place to receive the light. …
It is up to us to be in the right place to see and feel the divine light and truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even when night has fallen and the world seems dark, we can choose to walk in Christ’s light, keep His commandments, and courageously testify of His reality and His greatness."
I think this is a pretty cool analogy. Just because the sun goes down at night, and it gets dark outside, does not mean that the sun has stopped shining. The sun is still burning brightly, but we are just on the wrong side of the earth to receive the light. This is such a great metaphor. The love of Jesus Christ, who is "the light of the world" is ALWAYS there, but in order for us to be able to fully embrace and access that light, we need to be in the right places, doing the right things. When we mess up, and we don't feel the presence of His light, does not mean that He has stopped shining. It just means we need to reposition ourselves to be in a place where we can feel the warmth of His light again.
When I first heard him say that "darkness is not an indication that there is no light" I first thought about the Light of Christ, which "is given to every man, that he may know good from evil” (Moroni 7:16). Sometimes we may meet people who we initially might think "wow, this person is just full of darkness". But rather than having a perspective of them being full of darkness, we should realize that instead, it's just a lack of the presence of light. But whether or not it's readily recognizable, the light of Christ is still within them with the potential to burn brightly once again. Once we can realize that everyone has the light of Christ, then we can do what President Uchtdorf says when he stated that "[we] are instruments in the hands of the Lord with the purpose of bringing light and healing to the souls of Heavenly Father’s children... [and that] Christ’s light brings hope, happiness, and healing of any spiritual wound or ailment."

I am grateful to have the light of the gospel and the light of the Savior in my life and I hope and pray that I can continue to be an instrument in the hands of the Lord to bring more of that 'hope, happiness, and healing' that comes from Him.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Elder Meldrum!
We were in the MTC together,
but sadly he went home this morning because
he blew out his knee playing basketball a couple
weeks ago and isn't going to be able to finish
 his 2 years here. I'm going to miss him!

Monday, September 25, 2017

September 25, 2017 "Great is Your Reward"

Hey everyone!

We're about halfway through is transfer. I'm not sure if I'll do another one here or not yet since it's my 4th transfer here, but I am continuing to enjoy each week!

Elder and Sister Craig (housing coordinator
and mission nurse)-going back home to Kentucky!

 Elder and Sister Hansen (finance
and office secretary),
going back to Utah.

Elder and Sister Browne (car coordinator 

and referrals/supplies manager),
 going back home to Orem.
I've interacted with them the most of
 all the senior couples.
I'm going to miss them all!

After finishing the rest of our Zone Conferences this week, we said goodbye to the 3 senior couples that work in the mission office. They each have finished their missions and are being replaced with new couples. I've gotten to know them all super well over the course of my mission, so I will miss each of them!

We were able to meet with Pam a couple times this past week. She's doing pretty good! She has already read a decent amount of the Book of Mormon on her own. Without us giving her anything specific to read, she read through Joseph Smith's testimony, along with the testimonies of the three and eight witnesses, and understood quite a bit of it! She continues to tell us how she's searching for more peace in her life, and she recognizes the spirit she feels after meeting with us and wants to keep building upon that.

We have one investigator named Dorothy, who we have taught pretty consistently over my past 5 months in this ward. She has slowly began to understand the gospel as we have met with her. We had been debating whether or not to continue teaching her because she didn't seem to be progressing much. But she surprised us on Saturday night when we invited her to church (for the 15th time) by saying yes. She came to church yesterday and really enjoyed everything! She mentioned how it seemed to her that "there is a place for everyone!" She liked how all the kids, youth, adults, men, and women all have a place in the church. She's excited to continue learning and to start coming to church more regularly. We told her last week "people can meet with us all they want, but until they actually come and see for themselves, they'll likely never truly be able to gain a lasting testimony of what we teach." So finally, she was able to come and see, and had a great time.

We've been teaching Edith and her daughter
Audrey for a little while. They're sweet!

We were also able to find a couple other investigators this week, one named Octavia, and a young couple named Cindy and Andres. In both situations finding them, I know without a doubt we were led by the spirit to go to the specific places to find them. Sometimes it's hard to discern what's just our own thoughts and what's the spirit, but I know we were led to them.

We pulled up into his neighborhood,
 and Kofi came running to the car to see us.

                  Every week we are able to find numerous new investigators, and people to teach the message of the Restoration to. We meet people who are nice, and willing to listen with open ears. On the other hand though, each week we'll come in contact with people who will say and do things to us that aren't nice at all, and will just want to argue and contend with us. With this in mind, a couple scriptures bring me a lot of peace, as well as confidence and assurance.

This first is 3rd Nephi 21:9-10
"For in that day, for my sake shall the Father work a work, which shall be a great and a marvelous work among them; and there shall be among them those who will not believe it, although a man shall declare it unto them. But behold, the life of my servant shall be in my hand; therefore they shall not hurt him, although he shall be marred because of them. Yet I will heal him, for I will show unto them that my wisdom is greater than the cunning of the devil."

The second scripture is Matthew 5:10-12
"Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you."

Missionaries and members of the church throughout the world are sharing the great and marvelous truths of the gospel, but there are people everywhere who will try and oppose, reject, and ignore the truth. There has always been opposition and always will be. But we can continue to press forward with confidence that we are in the Lord's hand, and that he will reward us in heaven for proclaiming His gospel, even if we may be ridiculed for doing so. I am so grateful to be a missionary here at this time and I am grateful for the testimony I have of the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I'm looking forward to General Conference this week! I'm excited to learn from the leaders of the church and hear what they have to say. I love you all and I hope you have a great week!!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission