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. 😀"

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

July 17, 2017 Safety for the Soul!

July 17, 2017
Hey everyone!

Gotta stay hydrated in the summer!

I hope you are all doing well! I am having a blast here and am loving every day! It seems like each week just flies by! We are keeping busy and seeing some good things happen!

This is Joshua. We also taught him while on our exchange.
Joshua is a college student and is from Ghana.
He's really knowledgeable in the Bible, and at the beginning
of our lesson he just wanted to bash with us and argue,
but it was really cool how our discussion changed course and
by the end of it he was happy and smiling

We had four different exchanges this week with different sets of zone leaders in the mission. They all come to our area, so we have double the work going on each day, and two days to plan for in one area, so it's been a busy week! Four days in a row with a different missionary in our ward. I remember when I was a zone leader I always looking forward to coming here on an exchange in the past, so it's cool to see missionaries come to us and be super excited to go out and work in our area each day. It's been a full week of teaching and finding some incredible people.

We had another great lesson with Gifty this week. We read more out of the Book of Mormon with her, and emphasized how it is the key

One of my exchanges this week was with Elder Lucero.
 He's a great missionary! He is a Spanish speaking
elder, and is a zone leader in Woodbridge. This is us
with Eshetu (recent convert from Ethiopia) who came out with
us to help teach a few people. Eshetu is one of the happiest
 people I know, and he has such a firm testimony
of thegospel! It's cool to hear him bear his testimony
in lessons, because it is so simple but
so powerful at the same time.

to helping us gain a testimony of this gospel. After our lesson she explained how the more we teach her, the more everything feels like it could be true. She said she still has some doubts and concerns, but the more we help her learn and understand, those doubts keep being diminished. It's really cool to see her open up and begin to understand the truth!

We found and taught this lady named Gina. She told us how she had a good friend in Canada who joined the church a few years ago, and she noticed the miraculous changes in his life, and then she said she wants to see that same change take place in her life. It was a really neat experience teaching her about the Restoration of the gospel and seeing her embrace everything. Throughout the week we were able to teach a lot of lessons to a lot of different people, I wish I could have more time to share all of the experiences we have had this week.

We did had a few investigators make it to church on Sunday. One was a lady named Fatima, who showed up with her 5 year old daughter to church. We've only taught her a couple times and just met her a couple weeks ago, so we were excited that she made it to church! She's excited to come again!

In the middle of church we also had a guy named Shabaz just walk into the building. He is from Pakistan, and told us he met missionaries a few months ago, and that he hangs out at the park right across the street from the church all the time, which is right  by the Potomac river. And he just felt like walking into the church building today, because he sees it all the time. So it was pretty cool meeting him! He enjoyed the part of church that he stayed for. He's going to go to the singles ward in Crystal City next week.

Our other investigators at church were Christian and Stephanie. Their Mom is a less active member that was baptized years ago in Annandale, and then moved to this area but has never come to church here before. The missionaries before us had been working with this family for a while. Christian and Stephanie, the two kids, have come to church many times over he past few months, but their Mom has never come. Until this Sunday, it was the first time all 3 of them came together. Their Mom was nervous to come because of some past experiences, but she said she felt good after it all and was glad she came. It was a big step for her to come!

Driving to the mission home for Pday

This week is the last week of the transfer. Next Tuesday we will be getting 28 new missionaries in the mission and about the same number going home, so this mission will have a lot of turnover the next two transfers! The changes are exciting, but I'm going to miss a lot of the missionaries going home this transfer that I've been able to serve with throughout my mission. Elder Ure and I will most likely be staying together another transfer, which we are excited about!

I wanted to close by sharing a portion of Elder Hollands talk "Safety for the Soul", given in 2009, about the Book of Mormon. It's a treat talk and he bears a powerful testimony. If you have a chance, you should all go and listen to it again. He said:
"I testify that one cannot come to full faith in this latter-day work--and thereby find the fullest measure of peace and comfort in these, our times--until he or she embraces the divinity of the Book of Mormon and the Lord Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies. If anyone is foolish enough or misled enough to reject 531 pages of a heretofore unknown text teeming with literary and Semitic complexity without honestly attempting to account for the origin of those pages--especially without accounting for their powerful witness of Jesus Christ and the profound spiritual impact that witness has had on what is now tens of millions of readers--if that is the case, then such a person, elect or otherwise, has been deceived; and if he or she leaves this Church, it must be done by crawling over or under or around the Book of Mormon to make that exit. In that sense the book is what Christ Himself was said to be: “a stone of stumbling, … a rock of offence,” a barrier in the path of one who wishes not to believe in this work. Witnesses, even witnesses who were for a time hostile to Joseph, testified to their death that they had seen an angel and had handled the plates. “They have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man,” they declared. “Wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true.”

I am grateful for the Book of Mormon, and the knowledge and truth that we can learn from its pages and apply into our lives. It truly is the evidence of the truthfulness of this gospel!

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017 Next Door Neighbor

Hey everyone!

At the mission office. We're usually only here a couple times
a week, but we enjoy our time there, getting things done
and seeing the senior couples that are there every day.

It's been another good week! I hope you all had a great 4th of July week! President Huntsman invited Elder Ure and I to have dinner at his home on the fourth with him and his family, so that was pretty fun!

This picture was taken on 7/6/17, our 18 month mark!
We were all at the mission leadership conference that was held this week
and happened to be on our 18 month mark.
Elder Norton, Elder Meldrum, Elder Jones, and I were all in the MTC
 together 18 months ago! I can't believe it's been that long.

My MTC group and I hit our 18 month mark this week, which is crazy! That means that the sister missionaries that started at the same time as us go home in about 2 weeks at the end of this transfer. That's a weird feeling.
This is Edith, one of our investigators from Ghana.
We taught her on the 4th of July,
which also happens to be her birthday!

This week was full of great experiences with different people that we've been working with.

We had a cool experience finding this lady named Gifty. We met someone else that lived at her house on the street a couple weeks ago, and we were trying to see him when we knocked on her door. Instead, Gifty opened the door and immediately invited us inside. She then told us her background, and connections to the church. She is from Ghana, and has lived in multiple places throughout the world in her life, and no matter where she goes, she always ends up making some connection with the church, whether it be an extended family member, a coworker, neighbor, or friend. She has interacted with members of the church throughout her life. She was in Salt Lake City a few weeks ago on a business trip, and went to Temple Square. She had a good conversation with two sister missionaries, who tried to get her address and phone number so that missionaries can come to her home. But Gifty refused to give it to them and told them "When the time is right, I have confidence that God will send them to my home again." And then told them about how she's always ended up meeting members of the church, no matter where she goes. And sure enough, a couple weeks later, we ended up knocking on her door! No coincidence there. Anyways, she was first given a Book of Mormon when she was 11 years but never opened it up, because she had some concerns and misconceptions, but never bothered to ask anyone more about it. So when we taught her, we were able to have a great first discussion, helping her truly understand everything. She had so many misconceptions about the church that we were able to clear up. Once she actually understood what the Book of Mormon was about, and what it's purpose is, she started to get emotional. She started to express regret to us, because she has had one for so long but has bothered to open it up and read it. But now that she understands it better, she's excited to start reading! It was a really cool experience teaching her and were excited to see her again tonight!

Also, if you remember a little over a month ago we were teaching a lady named Isatu, but she went to Sierra Leone for a month. She's back now and we're teaching her again! We emailed her while she was gone and she said it meant a lot to her knowing that we were thinking about her from thousands of miles away.  Her cousin is a member of the ward who was baptized last year, so she's doing a good job fellowshipping her.

This is our investigator Peter Kamara, from Sierra Leone.
This was right before we left his apartment to go to church!
He was super happy to come!

A few weeks back I wrote about one of our investigators, Peter, who we found. Well he's was in the hospital for a couple weeks, but is back home now. We had a couple good lessons with him this week and he came to church with us on Sunday! While in Elders quorum, the lesson was on the importance of families, and Peter participated by bearing his testimony on families. He talked about how he never actually knew his birth parents, but different people came into his life and became his family. He got pretty emotional, but it was powerful, and he really seemed to feel comforted and loved by everybody at church yesterday.

We had a cool experience meeting with our next door neighbor, Kadiatu, who is from Sierra Leone. She has lived next door to the missionaries for a year now, and has seen us come and go many times, but somehow the missionaries have never talked to her before. We gave her our card a few weeks ago and told her to let us know if she ever needs help with anything. We got a phone call from her last week and she left a voicemail that said she wanted us to come over and pray with her and that she wanted to come to church with us. Obviously we were super excited, thinking that she would be pretty solid! So we went the next morning with a member of our ward to go teach her, but after just a few minutes in her apartment, we find out that she was actually baptized a member of our church in the early 90's, but hasn't been in a long time. I was surprised that she's lived next door to the missionaries for a whole year, and they never found out that the next door neighbor Kadiatu is actually a member! Her records for some reason haven't been in the ward, but we're going to find them. We've had a couple good visits with her since we met, and she came to church yesterday for the first time in about 20 years! Pretty neat that we were able to get our next door neighbor to come to church!

Here's a sweet scripture I came across this week. D&C 25:10 ​"And verily I say unto thee that thou shalt lay aside the ​​​things​ of this ​​​world​, and ​​​seek​ for the things of a ​​​better​."

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

This is the Boakye family! Sarah is the mother of the family
and was baptized many years ago, but none of her kids are members,
and she has allowed us to start teaching her crazy kids.
Sarah is the one who doesn't look happy in this picture, but she's actually
a pretty happy person. Her house is always crazy though!


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

July 3, 2017 Happy 4th!

Hey everyone!

This last week just flew on by. I can't believe it is already July! About a year ago I was transferred from my first area, Centreville, to Alexandria.

Elder Judkins and I with Desmond at his baptism!
What a great day! Elder Judkins goes home in 3 
weeks which is hard to believe.
One of the first people that Elder Judkins and I taught together was Desmond Whitfield. We taught him many times over our six months together. This past Saturday I was able to drive back to my previous ward and attend his baptism! It was such a great experience seeing Desmond make that step! Elder Judkins performed the ordinance, which was pretty cool because he finishes his mission in just a few weeks. Elder Judkins and I were the first two of many missionaries that taught him over the past year. It was fun seeing so many familiar faces and members in that ward. Desmond took a moment to himself after coming up out of the water with his head down, praying and thanking God. It was a spiritual baptismal service. Michael Heaney and Chris Ricks, two other recent converts Elder Judkins and I worked with, each gave a talk at the baptism. It's cool to see them actively participating in the gospel, and embracing new members. Desmond bore his testimony at the baptism, thanking everyone, especially the missionaries who persisted teaching him over the past year. A year ago, when we first met Desmond I never would've thought he would've made it to this point. He was pretty connected to other churches and had a hard time truly understanding the message of the Restoration, but as time went on he slowly began to understand and gain a testimony of everything. I'm glad I was able to go back and be there for his baptism!

This is all of the missionaries that taught Desmond over the past
year. Me, Elders Snow, Judkins, Johnson, Baxter, and Jones.

Elder Judkins and I with Chris Ricks. He's such a
great guy! He's been a member of the church for
about 8 or 9 months or so now. It was fun seeing
him again!
We finished up this transfers Zone Conferences this week. We did the Centreville and Gainesville Cone Conference, and the Mt. vernon and McLean Zone Conference his week. I really enjoy doing trainings at those meetings and seeing all the missionaries throughout the mission. It's also cool to see how it just gets better as each conference goes by. We always train on one of the 8 fundamentals that are taught when a missionaries is being trained in there first couple months.

We had a great lesson with Robert this week. He's making good progress, always super engaged in our lessons. Reading the Book of Mormon in between our visits and asking great questions as we continue teaching him. He decided that he wants to set a goal to be baptized on his sons birthday which is in about a month from now. We've taught him multiple lessons, but he still hasn't made the step to come to church yet, so we're hoping this week he'll have the courage to come. We also found out he has a twin brother, and they're identical, so that was pretty neat.

Our mission set a goal this week to find 400 new investigators. Each night President Huntsman would come to our apartment and we would total up the numbers and film a video, which would announce how many we found that day, along with a goal of something specific for each companionship to do the next day to help make this happen. It was fun seeing the missionaries all work hard to accomplish this goal. We found a total of 419 people who were taught the first discussion and over 90% of those were invited to baptism. Elder Ure and I found 12 new people this week! We don't seem to have problems finding people to teach. Getting them to come to church is the more challenging part, so we hope to focus on helping all of these people have a desire to come and see what church is like in the coming weeks. The coolest part of this finding week was when President Huntsman showed up to our apartment to film one of the daily videos and gave us a referral for a cashier at the 7-11 across the street. He talked with him for a few minutes and found out that he used to meet with missionaries. So we went over there the next day and met him and he's pretty interested in meeting up with us. How cool is that?! Nothing's better than your mission president finding people for us to teach! We love President Huntsman!

Today's another Zone activity at the mission home, barbecuing and playing basketball and volleyball with a bunch of missionaries is always fun. I hope you all have a fun and safe 4th of July! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Elder Smith and I after our exchange. He's from Arizona and
we both love In-N-Out. He insisted on taking this picture, and
for some reason gave me a Krispy Kreme hat to wear. Gotta
love In-N-Out! (This is the car I drive around)

Happy 4th of July, from your local missionaries.

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017 Another Great Week!

Hey everyone!

It's been a good, busy week! We had a few Zone Conferences throughout the mission and it was fun going down to Woodbridge and up to Ashburn, two parts of the mission I haven't been to yet.

Life as a missionary is going great! We are trying our best to find joy and happiness in every day, pointing out things at the end of the day that made us happy.

Here's Hannah! It was so cool to see her
walking on the side of the road!

We had a cool experience the other day. We were driving on our way to a couple of appointments and along the side of the road I saw someone walking, who looked familiar. From a distance I couldn't tell who it was but right as we drove past, I recognized her. It was Hannah! She was an investigator from Sierra Leone that I taught for a few months last year in the Alexandria 2nd/Lincolnia Ward. So we quickly did a U-turn and pulled over to the side of the road. I jumped out of the car and before I said anything she recognized me and was so happy to see me! She was pretty surprised! Apparently she recently moved and is now living in this area. I couldn't believe the timing of seeing her. That was a cool tender mercy! We taught her a lot, and she attended a couple baptisms that we had, and came to church a few times, but was never baptized. She told me that she still wants to do it though! There's just been so many other things that came up in her life that stopped her from progressing. Hopefully we can start teaching her again regularly and help her come back to church.

Our church building is the only LDS chapel
with this picture. The building is only a mile or two
from George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate.

We were only able to have one lesson with Robert this week, but it went really well. He's still soaking everything up that he's learning. It's so fun to teach people who are genuinely engaged in a lesson, asking questions, with a strong desire to understand the message and how it applies to them.

We street contacted this Ghanaian guy, who once he saw us asked "were you two in Ghana 2 weeks ago? You look familiar!" He told us he was meeting with missionaries in Ghana right before coming here. That's actually happened quite a few times. Most people that we meet from Ghana have met missionaries in their country before coming here. It's cool to see how missionary work is going really strong there right now.

Another cool person we met on the streets was this young mother, whose name is actually Dada, from the Congo. We started asking her some questions, and found out she doesn't read English that well, even though she speaks it perfectly fine. We just happened to have a French Book of Mormon and French pamphlet in our car, so we went and grabbed it for her. When we were introducing it to her, she was fascinated and said "where can I buy one of these?" We then told her that was hers to keep, for free, and she was just so happy! It feels good to bring joy to people like that, in such simple ways.

If everything works out, I'll be going back to the Lincolnia Ward is Saturday for the baptism of Desmond, another person Elder Judkins and I taught for a while. So I'm excited for that!

This transfer, each Pday, Elder Ure and I will be at the mission home for Zone activities that are happening this transfer. It's fun to be here with all the missionaries! I love you all! Hope you all have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission


Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017 HAPPY FATHERS DAY!

Hey everyone!

First and foremost, Happy Father's Day to the best Dad in the world! I'm so grateful to have been raised by two incredible parents, and to have an amazing father. I love you tons Dadio! I am also grateful for my Grandpa Duvall, his example and for the legacy he left behind. And I am grateful for Papa Smith, for raising the most incredible mother in the world. I am grateful for all of the other father-figures I have had throughout my life. I have had so many great examples to look to!
I really like the following excerpt from the Teachings of the Presidents, Ezra Taft Benson manual. It says"Fathers, yours is an eternal calling from which you are never released. Callings in the Church, as important as they are, by their very nature are only for a period of time, and then an appropriate release takes place. But a father’s calling is eternal, and its importance transcends time. It is a calling for both time and eternity.
Our pattern, or model, for fatherhood is our Heavenly Father."
There is no better calling than that of a Father! We can hold different callings and positions in the church, or in the world, but nothing is better than being a father. I am grateful for you Dad, for being a good example to me and showing your unconditional love to our whole family.

This was a super busy transfer week! I'm glad that it is over and we can finally catch our breath. We've been going nonstop this week with a lot going on in the mission and in our area. I'm amazed how much work we are able to accomplish in our proselyting area, while still attending numerous meetings and getting a bunch of other stuff accomplished involving the start of a new transfer.

 Elder Ure and I with President and Sister Huntsman
at the temple.

I got to attend the temple again with the departing missionaries. It was great to be there with them and President and Sister Huntsman! Sleeping at the mission home later that night, and then waking up at 3am to take them to the airport takes its toll though. It's weird to have a night that throws off our daily sleep schedule we follow every single day.

My first week with Elder Ure has been great! I feel so blessed to have had awesome companions throughout my mission.

Our most progressing investigator that we have right now is probably Robert. I haven't written in any of my emails about him yet. We met him just about 2 weeks ago, but have already taught him four times or so. He is 57 years old and is a former marine. We met him checking on his brother who we met outside on the streets a few days earlier. His brother wasn't home when we knocked on his door, but he invited us right on inside after meeting him. He then began telling us a little bit about himself and his life. He explained how after he left the military he was a truck driver for many years, and how he drove through and stopped in Salt Lake City multiple times. While there, he said he was amazed with how kind and friendly people were to him. In our lessons with him he has said numerous times something like "there's just something different about you guys, you all have a light to you that I don't see much in other people" and has also said "that's something I want." He has really enjoyed and understood everything we taught him. He is such a humble man. He constantly says "I don't know everything, but I know that this is all good. It feels right, and that's enough for me to build upon." I love his perspective on learning about the gospel. We just need to take things one step at a time, little by little. None of us are ever going to truly understand and comprehend everything there is to know, but we can always continue to learn and progress in the gospel and in life. He's the best! He reads everything we leave with him, and then writes down questions and comments to discuss each time we come back. He grew up Baptist, but is super open to everything we have taught him. We had one lesson with a member, Brother Vance, who is a convert that was also raised Southern Baptist. It was cool to see how much they had in common. Robert remembers feeling good when he used to have religion in his life, but has been far from it for many years. He told us that the day when we knocked on his door, he had been feeling like he needed to "get back in touch with the Lord," and that it was no coincidence we met him that day. I'm excited to continue teaching him.

At the airport at 4 in the morning with
13 departing missionaries who I will miss!

Every week we have experiences where I feel like we were just put in the right place at the right time. For example, in the Aldi parking lot, we bumped into this guy Jacob from Ghana, who we've been trying to schedule a time to teach him, but haven't seen him for about a month. I didn't even see him at first, but as we were getting in our car he was sitting in his car parked right next to us and was smiling at us and then we realized it was him, so we were able to schedule a time to go and see him. Things that like seem to happen all the time. I love seeing the Lord guide us to certain places so we can run into people like that.

Elder Leishman and Elder Hansen. These are two of my good friends here in the mission. It was sad saying bye to Elder Leishman last week, but I'll see him back at BYU.

One of my favorite pages in Preach My Gospel is the First Presidency message at the beginning. Part of it says"We challenge you to rise to a new sense of commitment to assist our Father in Heaven in His glorious work. Every missionary has an important role in helping “to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” (Moses 1:39).
The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him. More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children."

I love what it says about happiness. In chapter 6 of a Preach My Gospel, it talks all about different Christlike attributes. This transfer, our mission is focusing on the Christlike attribute of joy and happiness. Joy and happiness actually isn't one of the Christlike attributes listed in PMG, but I think it definitely qualifies as one. Christ is the greatest source of joy and happiness and he exemplified it throughout his life.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, June 12, 2017

June 12, 2017 Another transfer in Ft. Belvoir, Alexandria!

Hey everyone!

Elder Yang and I with the Taggart's!
They are moving, but they're an awesome family.
Brother Taggart is getting deployed to Afghanistan,
and sister Taggart and their children are moving
back to Rancho Cucamonga, CA.
 They made us their homemade rendition of
In-N-Out cheeseburgers, that were delicious!

We have a new transfer starting tomorrow and I am getting a new companion! Elder Yang is needed back in the Chinese program, so he'll be spending his last transfer serving in the Chinese branch before going home. His new companion will be Elder Chu, who I trained over a year ago! They'll do great together.

Elder Ure and I had to sit around and watch
all this luggage at the airport for a while,
as we waited for a couple other missionaries
to arrive from Mexico, and for the office elders
to bring their truck to put it in

My new companion is Elder Ure, from Logan, Utah. He started his mission in the Richmond, VA mission, but got moved into this mission last summer when we got the Woodbridge Zone added to our mission. He's been with us for the past couple of days, for the transition period as we show him the ropes on how some of the things work that we do.

So today we are at the airport picking up 13 new missionaries from the MTC, and will be going tonight to the mission home. Starting last night, I got to start driving the 15-passenger van, which we will drive multiple times over the next couple days, picking up new missionaries, and taking the departing missionaries to the temple and to the airport. It's a pretty big car to drive, especially on the super busy beltway, but it'll be fun! can't believe it was already 6 weeks ago that I got transferred here! Odds are I will be with Elder Ure for the next few months, but you never truly know what President Huntsman will end up doing.

This week was pretty good! I got an exciting message from the Elders serving in the Lincolnia Ward, where I served for 6 months, the second half of last year. They told me that Desmond Whitfield is getting baptized in a few weeks! He was someone that Elder Judkins and I taught many times over the course of our six months together. Desmond came to another baptism that we had in that ward, but he never made it to church while we taught him. But the missionaries that came after us were persistent in continuing to teach him, and he started coming to church finally! He reached out specifically asking for Elder Judkins and I to attend his baptism! It is coming up in a few weeks. I talked with Elder Judkins on the phone about it, and we were both just astounded that he finally made it. We were honestly both a little surprised when we got the news, but we are so excited for him! He's the person that we visited at the I.C.U. back in September (see letter from 9/19/16). It'll be fun to go back and visit that ward again for his baptism

We taught Bouma and Frank again this week. They are the ones from Burkina Faso that speak French but are learning to speak English currently, and are doing a pretty good job. We had a really solid lesson with them, where we brought some Restoration pamphlets and a Book of Mormon in French. We identified different important things to read from the pamphlet in French, then we would have them describe in English what they understand, and they understand it all really well. It's amazing how we are able to communicate our message to them, and to see how good they feel as they begin to understand it.

We found a new investigator named Peter Kamara from Sierra Leone this week. He investigated in the past for a few months, and even went to church 5 or 6 times, but then he had a stroke and a bunch of other health issues, and he moved here and lost contact with the missionaries and hasn't been to church since. We were just walking out of his apartment complex, and he saw us and got a huge smile on his face and starting telling us how much he has been wanting to meet with missionaries and start coming to church again! He's truly a miracle that just crossed paths with us at the perfect time. We taught him a couple times, but then when we went to pick him up for church on Sunday with a member, he was sitting out front waiting for the ambulance to come and take him to the hospital. We didn't quite understand what was going on, but he said he was feeling really sick, so we said a prayer with him and then the ambulance got there to pick him up. It all happened so fast it was kind of crazy. He'll be okay though and will hopefully get to start coming back to church next week!

Last night we conducted the New and Returning Member Fireside, which we do at the end of every transfer. It's always a great night, listening to recent converts and members returning to activity, as they describe their conversion process and the difference that the gospel has made in their lives. While listening to all of their newly formed testimonies, I was reminded of a quote from President Uchtdorf that I used in an emailed last year "It seems to be human nature: as we become more familiar with something, even something miraculous and awe-inspiring, we lose our sense of awe and treat it as commonplace." Sometimes we get so caught up in the daily routines of life, that we begin to forget how truly amazing the gospel is. It was so refreshing to listen to all of these people testify of the miraculous change the gospel has brought into their lives, which made me reflect on how much it has blessed my life.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017 The Joy in Reconnecting

Hey everyone! This week was incredible! It was probably one of my favorite weeks on the mission. 

Ami and I at the temple

So after looking back in my journal, I realized that on January 25th of 2016, a few days after arriving in Virginia, I taught one of my first actual, sit-down lessons with Ami Koroma and her kids, Kadija and Omar, in my first area in Centreville. A few weeks later, on February 13th, 2016, Ami and Kadija were baptized. And on June 2nd, 2017 (this past Friday), I was able to attend the Washington DC Temple with Ami Koroma as she received her endowment. What an amazing day that was!! It was definitely one of the highlights of my mission seeing the joy Ami felt on Friday. She was surrounded by some of the relief society members of the Centreville 1st Ward who came to support her. It was wonderful to see them all hug, embrace, and congratulate her on that special day! I have loved seeing over the past year and a half how much she has embraced and applied the gospel into her life and the life of her family! I've been lucky enough to be able to see her on multiple occasions after getting transferred out of Centreville last July. The members that were there with her were Sister Duersch (the former Bishops wife), Sister Zanotti (the current Bishops wife), Sister Neary (her visiting teacher), Sister Patten (the Relief Society President), and Sister Zilleruelo (her neighbor). Each of those individuals, along with many others have done a wonderful job helping Ami and her children continue to learn and progress in the gospel. I am so glad I was able to be there in the temple with her! I sat near Ami and her escort, and was full of joy as I congratulated her upon entering the celestial room of the temple. Ami's decision to join the church has led to many other family members and friends entering the waters of baptism, and I know it will continue to affect generations. I am grateful to have been a part of Ami's journey, and I will without doubt stay in touch with her throughout my life. The Koroma family will always have a special place in my heart!

Some of the members of the Centreville 1st Ward
Relief Society with Ami Karoma and I at the temple,
after her endowment.

Elder Yang and I 


Elder and Sister Allen, the senior couple
who drove us up to the temple to be there for Ami.
I'm grateful for the amazing senior couples we have in our mission!

A Beautiful day at the temple!
Yesterday at church I was able to reconnect with another person who I have missed! I was able to see Isha Sesay again! She now lives in a ward that meets in the same building as ours for church. While waiting for Ward Council, I saw brother Erickson, who was my ward mission leader in the Alexandria 2nd Ward (whose also from Murrieta) and talked to him for a few minutes. He then introduced me to Isha's Mom, who was walking through the hallway. It was so great to meet her! Her mother, Fatmata was baptized about a month and a half ago. Minutes later Isha came walking down the hallway, and once she saw me she got this huge smile on her face and ran up to me and threw her arms around me and gave me a big hug. (Yes, I know we're not supposed to do that, but there's really nothing I could've done to stop it). I'm so glad I was able to talk with her for a few minutes! Just like Ami, she is still going strong in the gospel as well! She's been coming to church every week, and now her sister is finally taking the missionary lessons and will likely be getting baptized soon as well. Its a really cool rippling effect that all started with Ami Koroma, who eventually referred Isha to us, who is now helping her family and friends all enjoy the blessings of the gospel.

Just these few interactions this week with people I taught in my previous areas made me so happy! I'm grateful that our mission is so small geographically that we have opportunities to run into people again. I am incredibly grateful for the eternal friendships I have made in Virginia. I know I may not be able to see many people I've grown to love after I leave Virginia, but I will always remember the incredible individuals I've interacted with. Members and nonmembers, investigators and converts, everyone.

Elder Yang and I taught the sharing time in primary yesterday, which was pretty funny. Elder Yang has never attended a primary before, so he had no idea what to expect. He was like a deer in headlights once he saw what the primary was like, it was pretty funny. He's not really a fan of kids, but I love 'em. We had a fun time teaching them though.

We found some sweet new investigators this week. We met these two young guys named Frank and Bouma. They're from Burkina Faso (in West Africa), and speak French. They just moved here from the New York City, the Bronx, just a few weeks ago and have been looking for a church to start going to. We had a good lesson with them and are excited to keep teaching them.

We taught Rob again this week. He's our investigator that is wheelchair bound, and has slowly been regaining his mobility and strength. He's awesome! He hasn't made it out to church yet, but we've taught him a few times and he really likes the idea that we have a prophet on the earth today, and that we believe our church has the oringinal priesthood authority that Jesus Christ held. He constantly brings up baptism In lessons with him, we don't even have to bring it up, but he's got it in his mind that that's something he wants to do eventually.

We decided to start learning how to sing some Ghanaian songs in Twi. They're all pretty short, but fun to sing. Sometimes Ghanaian people won't want to listen to our message, so then we just say "well, can we sing to you in Twi?" And then they make a confused face and say sure... then we start singing, and without fail, they will always smile and start singing and clapping with us. It's the best. And it will usually soften their heart to at least let us share a brief message. We're trying to find some creative ways like that to better interact with the people.

We have transfers coming up next week on Tuesday! This transfer has flown by, but it's been great.

I'll just close with a brief quote from President Monson. He said "As you serve, you will build rich eternal memories and friendships. I know of no field which produces a more bounteous harvest of happiness than the mission field... The world needs the gospel of Jesus Christ. May the Lord bless all of His Saints--regardless of where we serve--with a missionary heart."
It is true! If you want to find more joy and fulfillment in life, no matter what stage of life you're in, find a way to serve others. Whether it be through sharing the gospel, or just showing love, I know that as we serve others we can "build rich eternal memories and friendships" and receive a "harvest of happiness!"

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission
 This is Maxwell Appiah, a member of our ward from Ghana. He took us to this Ghanaian  restaurant last week called Rahama. We were the only two people in the entire restaurant not from Africa. Whenever someone walked through the front door, they immediately looked surprised and walked up to us and asked how we enjoyed the food. I guess a lot of people aren't fans of their food, but Elder Yang and I enjoyed it. I just got the jollaf rice, with goat meet, Elder Yang and Maxwell got the FouFou soup with the Banku (which is a bitter ball of dough made  from corn meal and water, that you use your fingers to dip into the FouFou). I've had that before, but I like the jollaf rice better.

Texas Sheet cake from some members,
the Taggart's, who are moving back to CA this week.

Just some kids in one of our investigators homes.

Monday, May 29, 2017

May 29, 2017 Super Busy Week!

Hey everyone!

It's been a crazy week! Due to other things that go on throughout the transfer, this week was our week where we needed to do 4 exchanges with different sets of zone leaders in the mission (Gainesville, McLean, Oakton, and Mt Vernon), all back to back. So for four days I was hardly with my companion, Elder Yang. It was really interesting being with a different missionary each of those four days, but we had a great week in our area! I was able to learn a lot from each of the sets of zone leaders, and I hope they were each able to at least learn one thing from me.

While on one exchange, with Elder Harding, we taught a man named David. David Galindo is from El Salvador, but has lived here most his life, and has a couple little kids. We found him my found first day here (a month ago!). We've been teaching him about once or twice a week since I've been here. He hasn't had much religious foundation in his life, so we've taught him really simply and focused a lot on the fundamental basics of the gospel. He is slowly progressing, but has been making some good changes in his life. He's never really prayed much in his life, but is now starting to pray regularly and he can feel the difference it makes. Im grateful to know that no matter how rapid or how slow our progress is, the Lord is pleased with our effort as long as we are headed in the right direction. Whenever we meet people from El Salvador, I jokingly say "Me gusta papusas!" David speaks perfect English, but his mother only speaks Spanish. I said this phrase to her a couple weeks ago, and in one of our lessons with him this week, all of the sudden she walks out of the kitchen with a plate full of fresh, homemade papusas! They were delicious. She's such a kind lady!

This kid Presley drew a sweet picture of a me! 

On another exchange I was with Elder Benard. While walking through a parking lot in an apartment complex we saw this kid walking and drawing. He had a book full of sketches. Elder Benard told him he should draw a picture of me, and so he went right ahead and did it! While he was drawing, we met a lady walking through the neighborhood who joined our church many years ago, but moved here and hasn't really been much. We were definitely out in the right place at the right time to meet her and invite her to start coming back.

This only took him about 5 minutes to draw.
He's a talented kid.

Another person we are teaching is someone named Tenisha Davall. Not Duvall, but Davall. So close to the same last name! She's pretty cool, she got a cousin who's a member of the church and is interested in learning more. We've only taught her twice so far, but she seems pretty solid.

We also teach a man named Rob. He's about 50 and suffered a stroke and other health struggles years ago causing the right half of his body to become partially paralyzed. Over the past years he has regained much of his strength and mobility, which is cool to see. He is still confined to a wheelchair but is able to move most of his body. We've taught him a few times as well, and it's so humbling to see how strong his faith is in God. He's got such a great outlook on everything we taught and really enjoys learning, and is excited to come see what church is like.

We have a long list of investigators and people we are teaching, and we keep finding a lot of new people every week. We want to focus on helping them all attend church so that they can begin to progress further and enjoy the blessings of worshipping with us. I always tell people they can sit and talk to us all they want, but they will never truly be able to experience it all in action unless they "come and see" what it's like! (John 1:39).

I gave a talk at church yesterday about the importance daily scripture study and about remembering our baptismal covenants, and how those two things give us spiritual power. I was asked the day before to replace the youth speaker and prepare a brief 5-minute talk, but then on Sunday morning they told me one of the other speakers had to cancel, so I had to quickly put together a longer 15 minute talk. I think it turned out well though! I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to speak.

One thing I shared about scripture study was what Preach My Gospel states about it. It says that "We show our faith by studying, believing, and obeying God’s revealed word. We diligently search the scriptures to understand the truth. We feast upon them because they open the door to revelation and show us what we need to do and become. We search the scriptures to learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel. Faith in Jesus Christ is a gift from God and comes through studying and living His word and His gospel."
I talked about how studying the scriptures on a consistent basis shows our humility- the fact that we set apart time to search the scriptures sends God a sign that we love and appreciate him, and that we want to learn. As we humbly search the scriptures we will be in a better position to receive revelation from God. That revelation may come directly through the words we read, or it will come through the thoughts, impressions, and feelings we get as we read.

This morning we had a Memorial Day breakfast in the ward. Our chapel is located just a mile or two down the street from George Washington’s Mt Vernon estate, right along the Potomac River. It was a beautiful morning to celebrate Memorial Day!

I love you all and hope you have an amazing week and great Memorial Day!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

This is "Grandma."
She's a member who joined the church about 4 years ago, and is from Liberia.
She loves the missionaries, and calls us her sons.
We went and home taught her with Brother Kibby.

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017- Romans 5:19

Hey everyone!

We had two more Zone Conferences this week- one for the Annandale and Woodbridge zones, and another for the Centreville and Gainesville zones. They seemed to get better each time, even though we taught the same things at each conference. I love seeing all of the missionaries throughout the mission, hearing their experiences and learning from them.

Aside from the Zone Conferences, we've been busy teaching many, many people. We've taught so many lessons in the past three weeks, it's awesome! We are going to try and focus on helping our investigators attend church, because we've been able to find and teach a ton of people. But we'd like to have more of them attend church and enjoy the blessings of worshipping with us on the sabbath day. I wish I could have time to talk about everyone were teaching, because we have some pretty great people! I still write in my journal every day, so I don't feel that bad not writing home about everyone.

Lasts week I mentioned one of our investigators named Isha. So it turns out her name is actually Isatu, but she sometimes goes by Isha because she says it's easier to say. We went to a lesson at her house this week and when we got there she was packing up tons of clothes in huge boxes to ship to Africa. The people we meet from Sierra Leone and Ghana here all work so hard to provide for themselves. They don't have much, yet they're willing to collect so much and send a lot of what they do have back home to their extended families and friends who are in need. She told us they need all this much more than we do. Isatu is a great example of pure charity. So we helped her box up some clothes to clear some space in the tiny apartment so we could all sit down and have another lesson. She understands the gospel so well, it's great! She'll be leaving in a week to go back to Africa for a month, so we will miss her while she's gone, but she's excited to come back and start coming to church.

We had two, back-to-back exchanges this week with two different sets of Zone Leaders. That means I wasn't really with my companion for two days in a row. This week we have exchanges with four sets of zone leaders, all back-to-back, which means I'll pretty much have a different companion four days in a row, but we will still be in our ward each day and have them come to our area. With our schedule throughout the transfer, it's necessary to do a lot this week, or we wouldn't be able to do them all. It'll be pretty crazy and busy, but I'm excited!

This is Logan, Elder Valdez, and I
with the Boachewaa family. Amma, and 5 out of her 6 kids

I love all of the zone leaders. Many of them I've gotten to know quite a bit since I've been here. It's fun to learn from each other as we spend a day together. For one of the exchanges we did his week, I was with Elder Valdez and we had a really cool experience! We had a priest (Logan) come out with us to visit and teach a few different people. He was supposed to meet us in this certain apartment complex, but we got there a few minutes before him, so I decided to stop by a potential investigator we met last week, named Amma. She's from Ghana, and other than that, I didn't know anything about her. But we knocked on the door and she invited us right in. She then began to gather all SIX of her kids together to sit come sit down and listen to our message. It was one of the best first lessons I've ever taught. We had the undivided attention of 7 people! (Her husband was around the corner, pretending not to listen, but we know he was.) Her kids are Isaac (25), Derek (20), Grace (19), Jesse (12), Derek Jr. (11) and another little one that wasn't really engaged in the lesson. I was impressed how on a Friday night, all of her kids (a few of which are young adults) were all willing to sit down and meet with us for about 45 minutes! They all asked great questions and were curious to learn more! I hope that we can continue teaching them!

I got an email this week with the coolest news!! Amy Koroma, who we taught and was baptized last year in February, a little over a month into my mission, is going to the temple in a couple weeks for her endowment! I sent a message to her a while back, around her year mark, encouraging her to start taking temple-preparation classes. And she reached out this week telling me the news, inviting me to attend! I love her family so much! I am so glad that she has stayed strong in the gospel over the past year and a half! Her son Omar (I miss that kid!) will also be getting baptized in October when he turns 8. I'm so glad I've been able to see the process of this family learning about, accepting, and embracing the gospel! I know that generations will be affected from this family.

President Huntsman shared a scripture about obedience with us last week that I really liked. It is Romans 5:19 which says "For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous."
This shows that our decisions today have eternal consequences. If we choose to be obedient, and strive to faithfully live the gospel, our future families and generations after will be affected by our influence and example. "Many will be made righteous" and enjoy the tremendous blessings that the gospel brings. On the flip side, if we choose to be disobedient and not follow Christ's teachings, generations after us will lack the blessings that they could have had, if we were obedient and faithful. Sure, they might still have decent lives, but they will miss out on so many blessings. This scripture gives me more motivation to make sure I strive to live a righteous life. There are generations of people, so many that we can't even comprehend, of which our obedience can impact.
I'm grateful for my Moms decision to join the church, 34 years ago today! Her obedience and that decision has impacted many.

I love you all so much! I pray for you, and I also feel the influence of your prayers on my behalf!  I hope you all have a fantastic week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

All of this trash (including the shopping carts)
was pulled out of a small river in this neighborhood
that we go to all the time. We thought it was ridiculous
how much trash was in there every time we walked by.
This is Jason, he just turned 19 and comes out with us
every week teaching people!
He'll be getting his mission call within the next few weeks!

A picture of some yolaf rice,
a popular dish in West Africa,
especially Sierra Leone and Ghana.

I see these pretty much every day, a few different kinds of them.
It's a constant reminder of Temecula! My dad is the CFO for Channell Commercial, the company that makes these.