Monday, September 18, 2017

September 18, 2017 "3rd Nephi 5:13'

Hey everyone!

Enjoying some Jollaf rice!!!

We've had another great week! I'm amazed by how many people we are able to talk to and teach each and every day. 

I just want to share one brief experience of someone we met this week. We had a neat experience finding a lady named Pam a few days ago. She's a testament to me that God truly does put people in our path. We were parking our car and then walked across a street and she was up on her balcony with her dogs. We just said hello to her as we walked by and to our surprise, she asked us if she could come down and talk to us. When she came down, she told us she just glanced out her window and saw us parking and decided to step out on her balcony and see which direction we would walk. She wasn't going to initiate conversation with us, but decided that if we walked her direction and talked to her, then she would come down and listen to us. She said this has been the hardest year of her life, with tons of trials and adversity that she's experienced, and when she saw us she felt like she needed to talk to us and see if the
Some jollaf rice from one of our African members in the Ward.
message we share could help her feel some peace. She was going in for a surgery today, and our visit with her a couple days ago helped to not only bring her some peace in her time of stress and anxiety, but also opened her eyes to a lot of truth she's been searching for. After teaching her about the Book of Mormon and reading a few powerful verses about the Atonement of Jesus Christ, she could not wait to have a copy of her own. She is excited to continue meeting with us, and is excited to start coming to church. I'm grateful that we were placed in her path! I know that the simple truths taught in the Book of Mormon are powerful and that the witness of Christ that is found in its pages can help heal any wounded soul. 

Can't do missionary work without food.

 Elder Ure and I at one of the Zone Conferences
 last week. I feel blessed to have had some great
companions throughout my mission!

We had two Zone Conferences this week that we trained at. Due to having such a large percentage of our missionaries that are in their first few months in the field, we were asked to train on the importance of teaching simply.  Harold B. Lee stated that we as missionaries and "teachers are not being sent out to teach new doctrine. You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plain that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand." We have THE most important message that anyone could share! We have a message that has a life-changing, and eternity-changing impact on those who embrace it. So we need to teach this wonderful message in a way that the Savior would have us teach it. We decided to not merely train the missionaries on the concept of teaching simply, but to teach it as the Savior would teach it. Under the "Teaching the Gospel" section in True to the Faith, it gives us some great insight! It states  "In your efforts to teach the gospel, look to Jesus Christ as your example. Study accounts of His mortal ministry, and look for ways to teach as He taught. He showed genuine love and concern for those He served. He strengthened people individually, teaching gospel principles in a way that would help them with their unique needs. He awakened in some the desire to understand and live the gospel. At times He asked questions that would help them apply what they learned. He taught the saving truths of the gospel, helping His hearers understand what they needed to know, do, and be in order to receive the gift of eternal life."  
I love all of these different things the Savior did as he taught! It humbles me to know that as a missionary, I truly represent Him and His restored gospel. So we need to be sure we're doing all we can to teach His gospel in a way that he would want us to teach it. I love what Mormon says in 3rd Nephi 5:13 "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life." This applies to each one of us missionaries as well, called to declare the restored gospel so that those we meet can access the eternal blessings of the gospel. Remembering that I've been called to represent Him every day helps me to keep pressing forward, trying my best to preach His gospel by the spirit. 

Sister Gutzwiller knows my Aunt Becky and Uncle Tom  and others
from when they lived in my home town,Temecula.
And her daughter was friends with my cousin Starla.
What a small world!!!

This is Sister "Gutz" Gutzwiller, a member living in

Woodbridge. When she found out I was from Temecula

she got super excited! She has lived in Temecula with her family twice and started making a lot of connections with me. Super nice woman! I love how small the world is within the church. Throughout my mission I've been surprised by how many connections I've made with different people.

I am grateful for each one of you, all of the wonderful examples I have to look to in my life. But I'm mostly grateful for the example of our Savior and I know that if we look to him, we'll never go wrong. 
I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

 Elder Ure and I at one of the Zone Conferences last week. 

Monday, September 11, 2017

September 11, 2017 Dancing with Grandma

Hey everyone!
I felt quite a bit of peace this week with the passing of my Grandma Smith. I am grateful that I was able to say some final words to her over the phone, but most of all I am grateful to know that for this past week she has enjoyed a sweet reunion with Papa Smith and Uncle Randy! I am so blessed to have had 4 amazing grandparents in my life. I love them all! I am grateful for my Mom and Dad, who wouldn't be the great parents who they are if it weren't for their parents. I am grateful for the gospel of Jesus Christ, that has blessed my family and brought so much peace and joy.
One of my favorite memories with Grandma was one of the Sundays that she came over for dinner. For a while, she and Uncle Mark would regularly come over to our home on Sundays. One time, I remember that I randomly took her by the hand and starting dancing with her in our kitchen. I think there was some music playing. It was really fun and she was laughing a ton. There's nobody else I'd rather dance with than my sweet grandma! I figured that someone had to dance with her in place of grandpa, but now she's probably happily dancing away with Papa Smith in heaven! Many of my memories with her over the past 5 years include sitting by her chair in her bedroom making her laugh. I enjoyed sitting in front of her, allowing her to put her hand on my head, letting her scratch my hair. She always had the prettiest smile, and nothing brought me more joy than making her laugh and seeing her smile. As a child, I also always looked forward to Christmas Day breakfast when I would have her yummy coffee cake for breakfast, and I remember getting to make it with her a couple of times. We had a member of our ward here this last week give us some banana bread that reminded me of hers!
I will miss grandma but I know she is in a better place. And I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that I will get to see her smiling face again! I know that she will be watching over me as I continue to serve as a missionary, and I know that she will continue to watch over all of us as we continue our lives here on earth.

This is the video of Jeremy dancing with his grandma Smith taken on December 23, 2012

Early Wednesday morning, dropping off all of these
great missionaries off at the airport! It's been an interesting
feeling being able to be there in the airport each transfer
 as we say goodbye and send them all back home. If anything,
 it motivates me to keep working hard each and every day.
 I'm grateful that it's not me on that plane, and that I still
 have a lot of time left to serve here in VA.

We had a busy week starting off the new transfer. We had to spend a little more time in the office again this week than we usually do, taking care of a bunch of changes and things that have happened as a result of all the new missionaries arriving last week. But we still were able to teach quite a bit this week.
Our main investigators right now are Tenisha and her children, and Michelle. We taught them both this week multiple times and they are both doing great, reading the Book of Mormon in between our visits and enjoying everything that they learn. I'm grateful to be a missionary in this area and I am grateful to be able to share the gospel with people each and every day. I am grateful for the great Plan of Happiness and our Savior Jesus Christ that is central to it all!

Elder Ure and I have been looking every day to try and find 3 or more unplanned opportunities to serve someone. It's been awesome and we've met some pretty cool people as a result! We've helped quite a bit of people carry groceries inside from their car, opened tons of doors, and taken people's trash out. Elder Ure even cleaned someone's headlights on their car for them while they were cleaning their car. He used to detail cars for work, so he knows how to clean cars super well. They were pretty impressed with how clean the lights looked (bug spray was the secret, it cleans the lights really well). It's cool to see how simple acts of service soften people's hearts. We've been able to introduce a lot of people to the Book of Mormon and even taught a few lessons as a result of the simple acts of service.

I finished the Book of Mormon again this morning! The Book of Mormon truly is the keystone of my testimony! I know without doubt that it is true. I am grateful for the more personal relationship with Jesus Christ that I have gained from it as a result of studying it and trying to "abide by its precepts."

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall

Michelle is so sweet! Her testimony of the
Plan of Salvation after we taught it to her is so solid!

Early morning breakfast with the Office Elders
at Denny's, right after leaving the airport.

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, September 4, 2017

September 4, 2017 "Down Payment on Tomorrow's Happiness"

Hey everyone!

Today is the day before transfers, and we picked up 34 brand new missionaries from the airport today! That is the biggest group that President Huntsman has had since being a mission President. Elder Ure and I had to drive separate cars full of missionaries, along with President and Sister Huntsman each having to drive a vehicle as well. It was fun welcoming them all to DC! Each time I go back to that airport, I think back to the time that I walked off that plane. It always feels as if that were just a few weeks ago, but when I stop and think about it, SO much has happened since that day. I've had so many experiences and met so many incredible people over the past 20 months!

This past week marks one year since Asif and Isha were baptized. They are both doing well! Asif was baptized at the end of August last year, and Isha was the first week of September. Isha has been doing great. Her ward meets in the same building as us, so it's fun running into her every now and then.
I emailed Asif this week checking up on him, pointing out that it has been one year since his baptism, asking how he and his family have been doing in Dubai, and his response was the best. I love imagining his accent saying these words, he responded "Thanks a lot brother, me and my family following all our lord Jesus Christ commandments and we are very happy and always thankful to you and our brother Elder Judkins as well. Thanks a lot for remember my baptism day, I feel it's my birth day. We wish our lord Jesus Christ will bless us and give us a place in the celestial kingdom, where he's living with his beloved father in the name of Jesus Christ amen."

Last night we had the new member fireside that we do every transfer, where recent converts speak and talk about their conversion stories. That is by far my favorite meeting. I've been able to attend it numerous times over the course of my mission. Sitting up at the front looking out, I noticed a companionship of sister missionaries walking in late in the back. They walked in with Katie, who I found and taught in the spring of 2016, who was eventually baptized at the beginning of this year. I made eye contact with her and she saw me and just had the biggest smile on her face. I had the thought/impression while seeing her, that if she was the only one I had an impact on on my mission, these two years would have all been worth it. I have been able to see many people's lives blessed by the gospel, but perhaps hers more than anyone else. Her path towards baptism took a while, through many sets of missionaries, but has been strong in the gospel ever since her baptism. Talking to her after the meeting, she explained that she just accepted a calling to serve as a Young Women's Sunday school teacher, which she is nervous about, but I know she'll do great!

This week was pretty busy. We don't usually spend much time in our mission office, because we try to proselyte in our area as much as possible. But we had a lot to get done in preparation for this week, so we were there a bit more than usual this past week.

Here's Tenisha holding her brand new baby.
 I think she weighs a little over 4 pounds now.
And then there's two more of her kids, Amaree and Amani.

But we still were able to teach some great lessons to our investigators this week. We had an awesome lesson with Tenisha and a couple of her kids, Amaree and Amani. We met her months ago, but we're finally able to start teaching her a couple times a week the past few weeks. She has had many health struggles that've prevented us from meeting with her, and has been in and out of the hospital throughout the year, but her health is finally starting to stay steady. She actually just had a baby as well about a month ago. The baby, named Amaya, was born premature though, at 2.5 pounds and had to stay in the hospital for the first month until last week when she was able to take her home. It's growing really healthy though and is such a precious little thing! Tenisha has been extremely humbled by everything that's gone on in her life, and has really embraced the opportunity to learn about the gospel. It's cool to see her enthusiasm to learn, despite all the struggles she goes through.

Elder Ure, Logan, and I with Gifty,
one of our many Ghanaian investigators
who we've been teaching.

A quote that I heard a while back from a good friend said that "Gratitude is a down payment on tomorrow's happiness." We all will experience different trials in our lives. But no matter where we are at, we can find all things to be grateful for. If we hold on to the good memories, good experiences, and blessings that we do have, instead of focusing on what we don't have, we can and use that perspective to motivate us to press forward. Tenisha, and many of the people I have taught on my mission, have exemplified this perspective, having a spirit of gratitude despite their circumstances.
I know that that is something that can help all of us, and I know that as we express our gratitude towards others and towards our Father in Heaven, that it truly will turn out to be "a down payment on tomorrow's happiness."

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, August 28, 2017

August 28, 2017 "Better and Happier"

Hey everyone!

We had another pretty good week!

This guys name is Atta. We see him all the time in his
neighborhood. He's always sitting out on these steps
 and enjoys talking with us. He says that one day he will
come to church with his neighbor, who's a member.

I want to start this email by quoting Elder Holland. I read an article the other day and came across a quote that I really like. He said "If my life has taught me anything, it is that kindness and pleasantness and faith-based optimism are characteristics of happy people. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness--kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” (September 2017 Ensign)
I am grateful for the happy people that have blessed my life with their kindness, pleasantness, and optimism. I hope that each of us can strive to be someone who leaves others "better and happier" after they interact with us.
Over the course of my mission, I have tried my best to live this principle, striving to leave people better and happier than I found them. As I have tried to do this, I have definitely seen it to cause myself to be better and happier.

Kadiatu was excited to take a picture
 with me and then post it on her Facebook!

We had a really cool experience meeting and teaching this woman named Michelle this week. We were street contacting people and talking to a couple guys, and began talking about the importance of families and how we believe families can be together for eternity. While testifying of eternal families, Michelle walks out the door of the apartment building, sees us and hears what we are saying and then begins to get emotional. We went over to talk to her and found out that she had been in her bed all day praying for the strength to get up and go do something in the day. She in her 50's and had a daughter (who was about 30) that passed away a couple moths ago, and she has been depressed and discouraged ever since and has just been extremely sad and unmotivated to do much. But after she saw us and heard us talking about eternal families, she wanted to know what it was that we were sharing. So we taught her the Plan of Salvation right there and she loved every bit of it. So many of her questions and concerns that she has been having over the past few months were answered. We then saw her the next day and there was a whole new light about her

We usually visit Kadiatu (Katie) once or twice a week to 
read the scriptures. She has really enjoyed coming
back to church after not being in so many years.

than the day before. She was smiling and happy! We were able to teach her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and she loves everything we've taught. She lives in a neighborhood that we are in all the time, where we have a lot of investigators, and everybody in that area knows who the missionaries are because they see us all the time. She has heard false things about us from her friends and family, and has always brushed off the missionaries when they've approached her in the past. But when she stepped outside that day and met us, in that moment she felt like it was a sign from God that she needed to no longer ignore us and actually give us the time to talk to her. After meeting with her just a couple of times, she said she wished that she wouldn't have ignored the missionaries for so long, and that there's so many misconceptions she has had that held her back. But now she says "it's time to focus on Michelle's salvation and not care what anyone else thinks." Were excited to keep teaching her. Im grateful for the peace and comfort that God's plan brings to me and to the people that we are able to teach it too. I'm grateful for the many people we are able to meet and teach every week!

 Elder Baxter and I with Kwasi.

I had a great exchange with Elder Baxter this week! He's one of the Zone Leaders right now. We had a few sweet lessons together. One with this older Ghanaian man named Kwasi who we met months ago and were able to teach him again. He's had a Book of Mormon for a while, but hasn't truly understood it. Even though he's met numerous missionaries during his life, he never actually knew that the Book of Mormon is all about Jesus Christ. We've been reading some chapters out of 3rd Nephi with him about Christ visiting the Nephites and he kept saying "why haven't your colleagues before you that came here ever told me about this!" He is really enjoying reading the Book of Mormon and is praying for an answer to his prayers. In the past he's been pretty set with his church, but now he sincerely wants to know if what we teach is true.

Yesterday at church we had a new couple that just moved into the ward. The husband is a member of the church and his wife isn't. The husband approached us and told us that his wife was meeting with missionaries right before they moved here from Georgia, and that she has a testimony and is looking forward to being baptized! So he asked us if we could start teaching her and helping her prepare for her baptism! So of course we're pretty excited about that.

This week is the last week of the transfer, and President Huntsman told us that Elder Ure and I will most likely be spending a 3rd transfer together! I'm looking forward to another 6 weeks in this ward! We have another huge group of over 30 new missionaries coming next week. About half of the missionaries in our mission will be within their first 6 months, which is pretty crazy. So President thought it would be good to have some consistency and keep us together another transfer.

Remember to "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier." I know that as you do this you will be happier as a result! I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

On exchange with Elder Walker, another one of the Zone
Leaders.This is with Eishetu, the coolest recent convert, and his brother
in law Tezera, who we've been trying to teach and help come to church.

 A sweet family we found and taught last week.
The mother is Yaa, and her kids names
are Enoch, Prince, Evelyn, and Peter.

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 "One by One"

Elder Ure and I at the temple Saturday 8-19.

Hey everyone!

We drove the van up to the temple again this
 weekend with all these missionaries.

We had to wake up at 3am this morning to take a group of 8 missionaries to the airport, who went home a little early for this semester of school. So we slept at the mission home last night and only had a few hours of sleep. Since today's Pday, we will be able to catch up on a little bit of sleep though.

 Early this morning at the airport, with the
 8 missionaries going home and
President Huntsman being silly in the back.

This week was pretty busy! We had 3 different exchanges with different companionships of zone leaders. I had a great day with each of them. We were able to teach a lot of lessons this week and have met some more great people! Every day is busy in our area! Always lots of people to talk to and there's never a dull moment it seems. We have met all kinds of people.

Throughout my mission, I have kept a list of all of the countries that I have met people from, and this week I reached 100!! I was pretty excited about that. It's been really cool to meet people from throughout the world.

Elder Ross and I on exchange,
after teaching our next door neighbor Kadiatu.
I put on this African shirt that I have when
 we got there, and she absolutely loved it!

There was a quote I heard from our Stake President this week that I really liked. It was a pretty simple phrase, but I think it has a lot of meaning. He said "If you give time to the Lord, the Lord will give you time." Sometimes I think we are so caught up in our daily routines of life, that we feel there is so much on our plate, and so much that we need to get accomplished each day, that we neglect to give the Lord some time. I think one of the best ways that we give time to the Lord is through serving others. I like that promise that our Stake president gave, that if we devote some time throughout our day, or week, towards serving others, the Lord will give us the time we need to accomplish the things that are important to us. We should not feel so stressed and overwhelmed all the time with everything we feel we need to do. But instead if we forget ourself and our own needs, even if it's just for a few minutes out of the day, the Lord will help us have the time that we need to get everything done. I really like that principle.

In my study of the Book of Mormon the past couple weeks, I've read through the Saviors ministry among the Nephites in 3rd Nephi. It's such a great part of the Book of Mormon! I've really enjoyed the different places where I've found the phrase "one by one." Here are some places that I found it.

First in chapter 11:14-15. I love in these verses how the Savior allowed everyone to come and feel his hands, and witness that his atonement has been completed for each of one them. I truly believe that he suffered for us "one by one" and he overcame death, so that each of us, "one by one" can make it back into the presence of the Father.

"Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come."

Elder Baldwin and I on exchange, eating dinner
at SuPollo, a Peruvian chicken restaurant
that we really like nearby our home

Next in chapter 17:18-21. Just as Jesus Christ blessed the little children individually, he blesses each of us "one by one" with strengths, weaknesses, and spiritual gifts, and continues to bless us with so many things every day.

"And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them."

 This is a lady named Dorothy that we've been
teaching for a couple months. She's super nice!

Then in chapter 18:35-38, before Jesus Christ left his 12 chosen disciples he gave each of them time and attention, touching and speaking to all of them "one by one" before he left their presence.

And now I go unto the Father, because it is expedient that I should go unto the Father for your sakes.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them.
And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had touched them all, there came a cloud and overshadowed the multitude that they could not see Jesus.
And while they were overshadowed he departed from them, and ascended into heaven...

Here's a better picture from the
baptism of Christian and Stephanie
from 2 weeks ago.

Then again in chapter 28 verse 1 "he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?"

I hope I (and all of us) can follow the Saviors example by loving, serving, and speaking to others "one by one," just as He did. Giving others the gift of our love, time, and attention is so important!
Anyways, thanks for being patient with me and all my scriptures I put into here.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week! Happy birthday to the best Momma in the whole world! She's THE best! I'm so grateful to have a incredible, loving mother who has done so much for me throughout my life!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017 Baptisms and Priesthood Blessings

Hey everyone!

This week was great! We made it through a busy week of three Zone Conferences! We enjoyed presenting trainings at each one. Even though we do the same things with every zone, we are able to fine-tune our training and make improvements and changes to it each time we gave it, so by the time we reach our last one it was much better than the first time. It's so fun being able to see all of the missionaries throughout the mission within the span of a week.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

We had the baptism of Cristian and Stephanie this past week in our ward! Cristian and Stephanie are 12 and 13 years old and we have been working with their family for a while, so it awesome to see them finally make this step!. Their baptismal service was great! We had good support from some members there, and Elder Shelley was able to come back to baptize Stephanie. He was my second companion in the mission field in my first area, Centreville. And he also served here in this ward shortly before I got here, and he taught Cristian and Stephanie for a bit before I came. Elder Shelley baptized Stephanie and Elder Ure baptized Cristian. I gave a talk at their baptism, and then I also was asked to do Stephanie's confirmation in church yesterday.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
 Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

I am excited for them and so proud of the decision they've made to be baptized! Their Mom and two older sisters were baptized about 8 years ago or so, and then stopped coming to church when they moved here from Annandale. So it has been exciting to see their family start to come back and be at church together. Cristian and Stephanie were nervous before their baptism, but they are so happy that they decided to do it!

We had a cool experience this week teaching this young couple named Anthony and Redeit. We just knocked on their door, trying to see someone else who doesn't live there anymore and Anthony talked with us for a minute and had a lot of great questions about the Book of Mormon. After explaining it briefly to him, he allowed us to come inside and sit down. We then taught he and his wife all about it. Most of the people we meet from Ethiopia are pretty devout Ethiopian orthodox, but they aren't really strongly attached to any particular religion, but they are strong in their faith in God and Jesus Christ. They're in their 20's and have been married for a few years. They were intrigued by the Book of Mormon! Recently, we've been trying our best to emphasize the fact that the Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, and that we represent Jesus Christ. Often times we meet people that say we are from the "Church of Mormon" the "Mormon Church", or even the "Church of Joseph Smith." But we have been trying our best to explain that we represent the Church of Jesus Christ, and that this is His church, and that He is at the head of it. People have so many misconceptions about us, but when people recognize how we believe Jesus Christ to be central to everything we believe and teach, it makes a difference. It certainly did with Anthony and Redeit! They are excited to learn more!

Every time we have a companionship study, we start out by reading a few pages of the Missionary Handbook, and then we try and identify one thing that we can apply or focus on that day. One day, we read the pages about administering blessings to the sick, and giving blessings of comfort and counsel. We were trying to figure out how this could apply in our day that day, and we decided to make sure we had oil in our vials. The oil vials we had on us were actually empty when we read through these pages, so we decided to fill them up, just to make sure we were ready if asked to give a blessing that day. Then a few hours later, right after our dinner, we got a phone call asking us to go to the hospital to give a blessing to a woman named Felicia, who was having some complications. She is an investigator that the sister missionaries in our ward have been teaching. We happened to be just a couple miles from the hospital she was at. Within 10 minutes of the phone call we were in her hospital room. Felicia was astounded that we made it there so quickly! She told us that God put us in the right place at the right time! It was a cool experience there in the hospital room with her as we discussed the priesthood, gave her a blessing, and read through a few scriptures with her.
We also had the opportunity to give a blessing one of the Ghanaian members of our ward, who had her fourth child this week! We gave her a blessing just a couple hours before she had her baby boy, so it was cool to be part of that special day in their family!

We've been teaching our next door neighbor Kadiatu who has been coming back to church pretty consistently over the past month or two. On Saturday, we found out that it was her birthday and hat she had nobody to celebrate with! No family or friends in the area to celebrate with that day, and all she had planned was to go to work. So we baked her a little cake and went and sang happy birthday to her! She was SO happy! It always feels good making people laugh and smile. She's such a happy woman!

This week on Saturday we'll be going up to the temple to take the departing missionaries for their departing temple trip. The temple is closed for cleaning for a few weeks on the day of transfers, so we have to do their temple trip early. In excited to go again! I love the temple and I'm grateful for the opportunity we have to go!

 These are two investigators we've been teaching from 
Burkina Faso, Frank and Bouma. They speak French and have 
been learning English. We first met them a few months ago
 and have been teaching them for a while. They look like thugs 
in this picture, but I can assure you that they are some of the 
nicest people I've ever met!  They are actually moving back up to 
the Bronx in New York City this week, so we got them in
 touch with the missionaries there, so that they 
can start teaching them.

We had a lesson in Elders quorum at church about the importance and value of work, based of of some teachings by President Hinckley. He said
"The great genius of this Church is work. Everybody works. You do not grow unless you work. Faith, testimony of the truth, is just like the muscle of my arm. If you use it, it grows strong. If you put it in a sling, it grows weak and flabby. We put people to work. We expect great things of them, and the marvelous and wonderful thing is they come through. They produce.
Nothing happens in this Church unless you work. It is like a wheelbarrow. It doesn’t move until you get ahold of the two handles and push. Hard work moves the work of the Lord forward, and if you have learned to work with real integrity it will bless your lives forever. I mean that with all my heart. It will bless your lives forever."

I am grateful for the principles of work, and those who have helped me to develop good work ethics over the years. I hope I can continue to learn the importance of work and know how to work hard throughout my life, in all aspects of life.

I love you all! I hope you have a wonderful week!!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

We did an exchange this week with a trio, so I went
with these two Elders, Elder Evans and Elder Benard.
And Elder Ure went with their other companion.
 Elder Evans and I met eachother at EFY in 2012,
 so it's been fun to serve with him throughout my mission!
He is finishing his mission, so I'm going to miss him!
This picture was taken amidst a huge
rainstorm that got us soaking wet!

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017 Come to Know Him

Hey everyone!

We had another great week! Each week just seems to be flying by.

I love Lawrence's face in this picture! He's a sweet kid!

We were able to drive all the way from Alexandria out to Warrenton for Lawrence’s baptism last week! It was a special day! Elder Jones and I enjoyed teaching him for the 3 months that we were together. Whenever we taught him, we would play basketball in the driveway with him, and teach him at the same time. Every few minutes we take a break from shooting hoops and teach him some more. Over the course of our basketball lessons with him we covered all of the missionary discussions and baptismal interview questions. As time went on, he understood and grasped everything pretty well! His family has had their fair share of trials this year, but amidst it all, he and

Elder Smith, Elder Gleed, myself, and Elder Jones 
with Lawrence prior to his baptism!

his two older sisters and his mother eventually started coming back to church. (His Mom and sisters have been members of the church for a while, but Lawrence wasn't old enough to be baptized when his family joined the church years ago). At the baptism, I gave a brief talk about the Holy Ghost and Elder Jones spoke on baptism. It was a great evening, being there to congratulate him and support him and his family. It was fun seeing many of the awesome members that I grew to love in Warrenton. It feels like a family in that ward. (Shout out to Sister Goss! Thanks for the delicious homemade bread! I ate a bunch of it on the long drive back to Alexandria). Lawrence just turned 12, so he will be receiving the priesthood soon and be ordained a deacon!

Back in our area, Christian and Stephanie will be getting baptized this week! It's has been so fun

Here's our next door neighbor, Kadiatu! She's one of the nicest ladies ever! 
It was a cool experience meeting her, and she's been to church every week
 for the past month! She loves coming and she's so happy to
serve others by giving our investigator Peter rides to church

teaching them ever since I got transferred into this ward. I actually taught them a couple times prior to serving in this ward, when I used to come on exchanges here. So I've known them for a while and it's cool to see how much they've grown and how excited they are for this week! Christian turns 12 this week as well, so he will be preparing to get the Aaronic priesthood and start passing the sacrament at church.

Exchange with Elder Norton this week. He is one of the Zone Leaders
 now so he got to come on exchange here last week. We were in the MTC 
together (19 months ago?!) It was fun being with him for a day!
We are with a couple of kids in this picture
who love seeing us when we visit their parents.

All week long, we weren't able to get in contact with our investigator Otelia who came to church with us last Sunday. So yesterday at church we weren't expecting her to come, but all of the sudden she walked in! She's had a busy week moving to a new place nearby and has had a lot going on, but she told us she knew she needed to come to church again. She is so in tune with the spirit and feels it so much at church. She has had a lot of struggles in her life, especially the last couple of years with a lot of death in her family, but she has recognized the peace and the hope that the gospel has started to bring into her life in just the past few weeks that we have been teaching her. She's excited to come and watch Christian and Stephanie's baptism later this week and is even more excited for her own baptism in the future.

We had one Zone Conference this past week, and we have three this upcoming week. So it's going to be a busy week!

Elder Judkins mother took this picture of us
right before they took him away!

This transfer our mission has been focused on utilizing the Book of Mormon more effectively and more often in all aspects of our work. Whether it be in finding, teaching, working with members, or our own personal study, we have a big emphasis this month on the Book of Mormon. In Preach My Gospel Chapter 5 I love what it says about the Book of Mormon. Under the section "The Book of Mormon Testifies of Christ" it says that "A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ (see title page of the Book of Mormon). It testifies of Christ by affirming the reality of His life, mission, and power. It teaches true doctrine concerning the Atonement--the foundation for the plan of salvation.... Those who know little or nothing about the Savior will come to know Him by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon."
I love how it doesn't just say those who read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon will come to know about the Savior. Instead, we are promised that we will come to know him as we read it, on a personal level. It's one thing to learn about Jesus Christ, but coming to know him is a whole different story. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for all that it has taught me about the life, mission, and power of Jesus Christ. But more importantly I am grateful for the chance I've had to continue come to know Him, each time I study and apply the things I learn.

I love you all so much! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

 I love this picture of the temple!

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017 You Are His Hands

Hey everyone!
This was a busy week starting off the new transfer! It was sad saying bye to about 30 missionaries that I've served with over the course of my mission. But it was fun welcoming a ton of new missionaries to the mission field as well!

My longtime companion, Elder Judkins!
I am going to miss this guy!

I had a great experience going to the temple last week with all of the departing missionaries. It was especially fun being there with Elder Judkins again. Before our session, we ran into the Richmond Mission Mission President along with his group of departing missionaries. When I saw their group of missionaries, I saw one that I thought looked familiar, and then I realized it was Braden Starr (my cousins cousin, also from Temecula). It was cool running into him in the temple and talking with him for a few minutes. I completely forgot he was called to the Richmond mission, but it was fun to see him before he heads home!
Later that evening, it was fun being at the mission home with all of the departing missionaries for a testimony meeting. I enjoyed hearing from all of them! At the end of the night there were 5 different families that came to pick up their missionary, so it was fun seeing the joyful reunion that was for each of them and meeting some of their parents.
It's fun seeing the nervous excitement of the new missionaries, coming in, not fully knowing what to expect. And then seeing that in contrast with the departing missionaries, who go home with more confidence and with such strong testimonies.

On the way up to the temple with some
of the departing group.

After the busy couple days of transfers, we had a good week!

We have an investigator named Otelia who we have taught multiple times over the last few weeks who I haven't written about yet. She initially was a referral from some members of the ward. She has attended a couple of the self-reliance classes that the church does as part of that new program, which is how she initially got in contact with the church here. She is the best! Otelia absolutely loves reading the Book of Mormon and is learning a lot. She came to church for her first time yesterday and had a great experience!

5 A.M at the airport with the departing missionaries

Peter came to church again as well! It was his 3rd time at church, so he is progressing pretty well!
Christian and Stephanie will hopefully be having their baptismal interviews this week and their baptism next weekend, so we're looking forward to that as well. It's been fun encouraging their family to pray together every day and to spend just a couple minutes daily in the scriptures. Prayer and scripture study are two of the most simple commandments, but the changes they bring into our lives are incredible.

I'll be going back out to Warrenton this week for the baptism of Lawrence!! He was the 11-year old kid that Elder Jones and I taught for a while when we were in that ward. I'm super excited for him, and excited to see some familiar faces out there!

This is when we picked up Elder DeSchepper and
Sister Doyle from the Mexico MTC.

I'm grateful for the opportunity we have had this week to teach our investigators. It is so fun to see the joy of the gospel begin to work in the lives of the people we are teaching. I am grateful for the chance we have as missionaries to represent Jesus Christ as we share His gospel!
I was reminded of a great talk this week titled "You are My Hands" given in April 2010 by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf. I would like to share a brief portion from the beginning of his talk. He says:
"A story is told that during the bombing of a city in World War II, a large statue of Jesus Christ was severely damaged. When the townspeople found the statue among the rubble, they mourned because it had been a beloved symbol of their faith and of God’s presence in their lives.
Experts were able to repair most of the statue, but its hands had been damaged so severely that they could not be restored. Some suggested that they hire a sculptor to make new hands, but others wanted to leave it as it was--a permanent reminder of the tragedy of war. Ultimately, the statue remained without hands. However, the people of the city added on the base of the statue of Jesus Christ a sign with these words: “You are my hands.”

Went to lunch with my good friend Kerry Harding
today! He's a great man!

There is a profound lesson in this story.
When I think of the Savior, I often picture Him with hands outstretched, reaching out to comfort, heal, bless, and love. And He always talked with, never down to, people. He loved the humble and the meek and walked among them, ministering to them and offering hope and salvation.
That is what He did during His mortal life; it is what He would be doing if He were living among us today; and it is what we should be doing as His disciples and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
As we emulate His perfect example, our hands can become His hands; our eyes, His eyes; our heart, His heart."

I love the symbolism of the townspeople deciding to not sculpt on new hands to the statue after it was damaged. Just because we probably will not physically see the hands of Jesus Christ while in this life, does not mean that He is not there. His hands are in the details of our lives, each and every day. And more often than not, we can feel the loving embrace of His hands through the hands of those around us. And we can be His hands to others, as we reach out in love and service towards those around us!

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, July 24, 2017

July 24, 2017 "Called to the Work"

Hey everyone!

Say hello to your bus driver, Elder Duvall!
It's pretty fun driving this big van
with all the new missionaries!

This was the last week of the transfer, and the past few days as well as the next couple days are all super busy!

Last night we had a New and Returning Member Fireside, where we had 7 speakers all share their testimonies and conversion stories. I was asked to conduct the fireside in front of a chapel, packed full with people and into the overflow seating. It was such a great meeting! Hearing their testimonies makes me more motivated to go out and work hard everyday to find more people like them, ready to embrace the gospel. Each speaker was SO different from one another, but the joy and the light that the gospel has brought into each of their lives was the same! I'm grateful for that meeting and for our mission that puts it together every transfer!

We have 27 new missionaries arriving from the MTC today  who we will be picking up from the airport! (Two of them from Temecula!) and we have about 30 missionaries going home early Wednesday morning. So our mission is going through a period with a lot of turnover in missionaries, but it's exciting! Aside from preparing for all the changes that we are involved in with transfers, we had a really great week in our area.

After church on Sunday with Hamid!

We got a media referral this week for a man named Hamid. He's from Morocco, which is in the northwestern part of Africa, and is super cool! He was a diplomat in Morocco and he speaks 5 different languages. We called and scheduled an appointment with him for 10am one morning this week. But at about 9:30am that morning, during our studies, we got a call from him and he told us he was at the church waiting for us! We didn't even know that he knew where the church was, but he took a taxi to get there, so sure enough we jumped in the car and sped over there! We were planning on meeting him where he lived, but we got to the church, showed him around the building and had a lesson in the relief society room, right next to the baptismal font. It was such a great lesson! Hamid reminds me of Asif Khan, who I taught last summer. Hamid converted to Christianity about a year ago, and wants so badly to follow Jesus Christ the best that he can. He then came to church yesterday and had a great time! He happily introduced himself in the Sunday school class and elders quorum, and is excited to keep on coming.

Peter Kamara also came to church again yesterday, his second time coming. Our neighbor Kadiatu gave him a ride. It's amazing to see how great they connect with each other!

This is Christian and Stephanie, and their mother Cris.
 They've all come to church the past couple weeks!
Eshetu also came with us to their lesson.
He comes with us nearly each week to help teach people!

We had a great lesson with Cris and her kids, Christian and Stephanie this week, about family prayer and scripture study. It's such a simple teaching, but there's so many blessings that come from it. It's neat to see their little family grow closer to one another as they have started coming to church and feeling the spirit more in their lives.

We saw a pretty sweet tender mercy happen to someone on Sunday. There was this kid named Brigham, who was visiting our ward from Utah. He was from Cedar City, and is here in the D.C. area for the summer doing sales/installation for Vivint. He usually goes to another church building in Arlington, but took a wrong turn on the freeway, so decided to just find the closest chapel and wound up visiting ours. He approached us after our Sunday school class and explained that his mission call is at his home in Utah and he'll be opening it in a couple weeks. He then started to say how nervous he was, and that he's always dreamt of going to a foreign country, and how he's "afraid" he's going to get called to an English speaking stateside mission. He asked us what our thoughts were about serving in an English, stateside mission. We basically bore testimony to him that no matter where he serves, it will all work out for his good and he will know that wherever he's assigned is where he's meant to be, and that he will love it. Then as we walked into priesthood meeting, for elders quorum, they mentioned that the lesson was going to be based on two conference talks: "Called to the Work" by Elder Bednar (April 2017) and "The Divine Call of a Missionary" by Elder Rasband (April 2010). Both of these talks are great and I recommend reading them! Anyways, I feel like it was no coincidence that he "took a wrong turn" on the busy freeways of Northern VA, and ended up at our ward. I think it was an answer to his prayers attending this meeting. The discussion about those talks were just what he needed to give him the comfort and assurance he needed. I know that no matter where we serve as missionaries, we will always be able to bless the lives of others and we will always be able to feel the joy of sharing the gospel.

Jason Larrabee gave his farewell talk on
Sunday. He's going to Sendai, Japan!
He came out with us to teach people
pretty much at least once a week for
the past 3 months,
so we're going to miss him!

My favorite part of the talk is when elder Bednar expounds on Doctrine and Covenants section 80. Specifically in verse 3: “Wherefore, go ye and preach my gospel, whether to the north or to the south, to the east or to the west, it mattereth not, for ye cannot go amiss.”
Elder Bednar states-
"I do not believe that the phrase “it mattereth not” as used by the Lord in this scripture suggests that He does not care where His servants labor. In fact, He cares deeply. But because the work of preaching the gospel is the Lord’s work, He inspires, guides, and directs His authorized servants. As missionaries strive to be ever more worthy and capable instruments in His hands and do their best to fulfill faithfully their duties, then with His help they “cannot go amiss”--wherever they serve. Perhaps one of the lessons the Savior is teaching us in this revelation is that an assignment to labor in a specific place is essential and important but secondary to a call to the work."

I love how we are "called to the work" and "called to serve." Yes, we are "assigned to labor in specific places. And I would add that I am extremely grateful for my specific assignment to labor here in the Washington DC South Mission! But no matter where our assignment is, our call comes from God, through living prophets and apostles who receive revelation on our behalf. And that call to serve is the same for every missionary! Regardless of where we serve, we can see miracles happen, and bless the lives of many people through the gospel of Jesus Christ. The joy that comes as a result is the same, no matter where we serve. I'm grateful for this experience we had on Sunday and the good reminder it was to me.

I'm excited to spend another transfer with Elder Ure! We are having a blast and seeing lots of great things happen in our mission. I hope you all have an incredible week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Here's Robert, who we've been teaching for
about 6 weeks now.
Our lessons with him always go great!

 Last week at the mission home with a big group of missionaries
on Pday. It was fun this past transfer getting to go there
every Monday, seeing all of the missionaries, having a BBQ,
and playing basketball and volleyball with them all.

Here are the elders from Temecula:

"Elder Cole Benson and Elder Thomas Deschepper!
Elder Deschepper is a Spanish speaking Elder,
and Elder Benson is a visa waiter, going to Guatemala soon!
 It's fun to have more people from Temecula here in the mission!"

From Sharon Duvall: I sent the picture of Elder Benson and Elder Deschepper to the the Benson's and the Deschepper's here in the Temecula Stake and Sister Deschepper replied back saying: "thank you so so much! I'm so excited! I don't know if Elder Duvall knows this but Thomas and Cole have been best friends for years. They used to teach gospel topics to friends and teachers at TVHS. They were always so excited about it. It makes my heart happy that 3 of God's choicest missionaries from Temecula are there together! Thank you!!"
I asked  the Benson's: "How long do you think your son will get to be in Washington DC South Mission? Have they given you any idea? My son just picked him up at the airport today in this big van"(I sent the picture of the van) and Elder Benson's mom replied back saying: "Thanks for letting us know. This is the first we heard that he was out of the mtc." And "Well, this all must have happened since our last email from him last Wednesday because this is the first I have heard that he is there. I guess we will get an update from him in a couple of days. So to answer your question I have no idea what is going on. Thanks for the update. 😀"