Just an average sunset in Warrenton
We had the wonderful opportunity to attend a joint-mission conference for the Washington DC North and Washington DC South missions, with Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband, as well as numerous members of the Quorum of the Seventy (Elder Gong, Elder Bennett, Elder Perkins, Elder Muers, and other area seventies). It was incredible to shake their hands and learn from them. I remember back about 5 years ago or so when Elder Ballard came to our Stake conference in Temecula, CA. I remember having the opportunity to shake Elder Ballard's hand back then and had a really brief conversation. I remember the exact words-
Elder Ballard said:
"Hello young man...what's your name?"
I responded, "Jeremy."
He then asked "Jeremy, are you planning on serving a mission?"
I said "Yes, of course!"
He responded "Prepare yourself well!"
I said "Will do!"
And then walked away and he continued to shake hands with members of the Temecula Stake.
It was cool to shake his hand again and have him look me in the eyes! This time I wasn't able to say anything more than "Good morning," because he had a few hundred missionary hands to shake. But in my mind I remembered his counsel to me years ago to "prepare yourself well."
Well... here I am! I know that there is definitely more that I could have done to 'prepare well.' But I am grateful to have been prepared to serve! I'm grateful for the wonderful examples of my parents, brothers and sisters, friends and extended family that've played an important role in my conversion to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Something else exciting- President Huntsman asked me to be the conductor for the hymns that we sung at the conference, and Elder Jones to play the piano. So we were able to sit up on the stand right behind our mission presidents and all of the visiting authorities. That was a pretty neat sight, sitting up their looking out into a chapel full of over 400 full-time missionaries listening intently to what the apostles had to say. Also a little nervous conducting with 2 apostles sitting right behind me, but it was definitely a say I will always remember!
I am so grateful for modern day prophets and apostles that receive revelation from God on how to guide His kingdom on the earth! I have no doubt that Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband are called of God to be special witnesses of Jesus Christ to all the world, along with all of the other apostles.
This week was definitely one to remember! Starting back on Tuesday, we had Zone Conference. This is my 5th transfer as a zone leader, and Elder Jones' first. It was great. President Huntsman also took about an hour to give us some new mission goals for 2017 (365 baptisms for the year, last year the goal was 300 and we got 303!) and let us know how we can accomplish it. We will be focusing on different Christlike attributes throughout the year, a separate one for each transfer (this transfer is focused on Faith). As we become more Christlike, we'll be more effective instruments in the Lords hands- "We cannot convert people past our own conversion."
He also went over several rule changes or policy clarifications that we will be starting to apply. Some of he changes are pretty big, like we aren't allowed to go up to DC any more on Pdays, we also can't take investigators to the Temple visitors center, both because they are out of our mission boundary. I've been able to do each of those a lot in the past year, so I'm at least grateful that I had those opportunities. We will still be able to attend if a recent convert is going through for the first time, and we'll still get to go once every 6 months for a session. There were several other little rule changes that I don't need to mention, but I know they're just more opportunities to test our obedience and will allow for even more blessings and miracles!
So this was our third week in Warrenton and last week we weren't able to see much success but this week was a complete different story. We were able to add 11 new investigators and a few other potentials we taught to our teaching pool! So many miracles, we were definitely led to some amazing people and given many opportunities to teach the message of the restoration. Our missions goal was to get 500 New investigators with a baptismal invitation before Elder Ballard and Elder Rasband came, and we blew past that goal, finding nearly 600 people in the first 2 weeks of the year.
One family we found I will just mention real briefly- They are the Mitchell family! The father Jimmy was in our area Book, but not much information was in his info. So we decided to stop by anyway and started talking to Jimmy and he was super nice, and then wanted us to meet his son James, who has been in our ward's scout troop for like 5 years! So they know a good amount of members, and Jimmy said he always feels he is placed around Mormons and has even considered being baptized one, but has never got taught the lessons. He also said he wants James to learn more a make a choice for himself if he would want to join. As a missionary that is music to our ears!! We went back last night and had a second lesson with Jimmy, James and Elisa, the mother. We read the first chapter in the Book of Mormon and Jimmy had a ton of awesome questions! At the end we asked Jimmy to offer the prayer, which he hasn't really given a vocal prayer ever. So we all knelt down and he gave such an awesome, humble prayer. It was such a sweet spiritual experience!!
Elder Judkins and I with Edgardo before his baptism!
I love you all! Hope you have a great week!
Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission