Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017 Prayer and stuff!

The weather has gotten warmer a little earlier this year than
 it did last year, which has allowed for more outdoor service
opportunities. We spent a couple hours at Ken Williams house
 helping him clear a ton of leaves out of his yard.

Hey everyone!

It's been a pretty good week here in Warrenton, filled with all kinds of stuff.

We had a couple of fun different service opportunities this past week!
During an exchange with another missionary, Elder Howells, we went to Jake Seely's house and were able to help him put a bunch of mulch all around his house. While there, Jake also took us on a tour of the huge farm that he lives on and works on (but doesn't own). It was really cool riding around the property hearing him describe the different type of work he does on it everyday.
Later in the week, we were able to help his grandmother out by painting her basement that she's getting ready to rent out. I'm not the greatest painter, but it was fun!

While tracting a street in a pretty nice neighborhood, we noticed these two teenagers playing basketball in their driveway. We approached them, introduced ourselves and then challenged them to a game, two-on-two. We told them if we won, then we'd share a 10 minute message with them and if we lost, we would just leave them with something to read. They agreed. They were both pretty good, one of them was a senior in high school on his schools Varsity basketball team. But sure enough, Elder Jones and I, in our white shirts and ties, beat them! Our basketball skills paid off. So we taught them a brief first lesson and they seemed curious and interested in the message we shared. I always find it neat how open and willing young people are to at least hear out the message we share, even if they don't persist in having interest with it. So many people are immediately closed off and don't even want to take just a few minutes out of their day to hear a brief message that's only meant to help them.

In a couple of previous letters over the past month or so, I've talked about Fatima and her kids, Jackie and Nelson. that we were teaching. This past week we had our final lesson with them before deciding that the best thing for their family would be to pass them off the the Spanish speaking missionaries. They hadn't been coming to church but they always enjoyed learning from us. They did finally express some interest in going to the Spanish ward, even though it'll require them to drive much further, so hopefully the Spanish missionaries will be able to help them progress. I'm glad we were able to find and teach that wonderful little family!

About two weeks ago there was a woman in our ward who passed away. She hadn't been able to come to church consistently over the past few years because of hr health struggles. Her husband isn't a member of the church but has always been supportive of her membership and participation in the church. The funeral was a little over a week ago and he was extremely grateful for the bishop and our ward for helping put together a beautiful funeral service and helping his family so much over the years. We decided to visit him last night and I'm so glad we did! He seemed to be handling everything really well, and it was amazing to see his perspective and outlook on everything he's been through. I am so grateful for the knowledge and hope that the Plan of Salvation brings to us, knowing that we will see our loved ones again and that they are always watching over us.

We also had a Zone Conference, combined with another zone, last week that Elder Jones and I were in charge of. President Huntsman told us we put together a really good training for the missionaries there and that he learned a lot from it. We also enjoyed listening to his counsel to us. I am so grateful for such an amazing mission president and his wife as well. They are such great examples to us and I've really enjoyed getting to know them over the past 14 months or so.

I came across this definition of prayer this week that I really liked. This comes from the Bible dictionary. It says that "As soon as we learn the true relationship in which we stand toward God (namely, God is our Father, and we are His children), then at once prayer becomes natural and instinctive on our part (Matt. 7:7–11). Many of the so-called difficulties about prayer arise from forgetting this relationship. Prayer is the act by which the will of the Father and the will of the child are brought into correspondence with each other. The object of prayer is not to change the will of God but to secure for ourselves and for others blessings that God is already willing to grant but that are made conditional on our asking for them. Blessings require some work or effort on our part before we can obtain them. Prayer is a form of work and is an appointed means for obtaining the highest of all blessings."
I love that last sentence. Prayer is something that requires work and effort, especially if we want it to be sincere. When we pray sincerely and fervently, some of the highest blessings can begin to become ours. I don't think missionary work would be possible without prayer. And life would also be way too difficult without it. So... don't forget to pray!

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

1) This is Elder Vargas. He's a full-time church service missionary that helps out our mission a lot. This was a day that he helped us move another companionship from one apartment to another. Elder Vargas
is awesome. He not only helps out our mission, but he also serves in the temple one day a week, serves in family history centers, does facilities management, and a bunch of other stuff. He's unable to serve as a  full-time proselyting missionary, but it's amazing to see him serve faithfully in the capacity that he can serve in!
There's this town called "Little Washington" out in the middle of nowhere, but it's still part of our ward boundaries. In the town there is this place called "" that is apparently pretty famous. I'm not really sure what makes it so special, I The Inn at Little Washington think maybe some famous people have stayed there in the past or something.

 During an exchange with another missionary (Elder Howells), Jake Seely in our ward took us on a tour of the huge farm that he lives on and works on. We did some service at his house helping to lay down a
bunch of mulch, and then he drove us around the farm to see all the cows and hear about some of the different work he does there. It was pretty cool to see! After we went back and changed, Elder Howells and I were able to teach a pretty awesome lesson to this man named Pedro who Elder Jones and I met a few weeks ago!

Monday, February 20, 2017

February 20, 2017 Why The Church?

Hey Everyone,
We've had a pretty good week this week. Today, for Presidents Day, we were able to go up to the temple! The next time I'll be able to go won't be for another 6 months, but I'm super glad we were able to go today! It was a great experience, always is. Any day at the temple is a holiday (holy-day, get it?) It's been a beautiful few days here in Virginia! 70 degrees or so the last few days, it's been great! But after being here for a while now, it's safe to say it'll probably be back to freezing within a couple of days. Especially because earlier this week we were out tracting in the freezing cold for a couple hours and couldn't feel my face or toes afterwards, but we met a few really awesome people.

This week we did a lot of driving, making it out to some of the further spots of our ward that we don't usually get out to. Our ward is probably makes up about a quarter of our mission, geographically. The closer you get to D.C., the more packed the cities are with people, but out here it's beautiful countryside and people are spread out. We enjoy it out here.

We've been working hard to find new people to teach. We know there people out there that are prepared. A few of the people we have been teaching are on the fence right now, and have been in and out of meeting with missionaries for the past couple years.

Elizabeth and James Brownlows are a couple, who have a few fun, crazy little kids, that have met with missionaries on and off for he past couple years and we've been trying to figure out the best way to help them. They love missionaries and are always happy to let us in their home, but they've got a few things they're having a hard time accepting within the gospel. They've only come to church once in the past few years, but they've had a ton of lessons from missionaries. So we thought the best thing would be to just help them get to know some members. So we did a game night with the Brownlows at the Crosland's home, an awesome member family in the ward and another family from the ward came as well. There were about 10 crazy little kids and us 8 adults. We enjoyed a good evening of games and laughter! The spirit that is felt within the walls of a Christ centered home is awesome. I know they could feel the love that was there in that home.

We stopped by the Depuys house unannounced this week and they were so happy to see us, inviting us into their home right away. We love Art and Joanne. They are the sweetest old couple. People at church mistaken them for members, when they really aren't. They’re still waiting to receive some specific answers to their prayers. They were watching some documentary show on their Roku when we got there and we noticed that they had the Mormon channel pulled up on their TV, which they said they enjoy watching, This was perfect because we wanted to watch a conference talk with them. They have also been meeting with missionaries for a long time and have had all of the discussions. We watched the talk called "Why the Church" given by Elder D. Todd Christofferson in the October 2015 general conference. In this talk, Elder Christofferson explains why it is necessary for God to use an organization, His church on the earth, to carry out His eternal purposes.
He explains that "Following the apostasy and disintegration of the Church He had organized while on the earth, the Lord reestablished the Church of Jesus Christ once again through the Prophet Joseph Smith. The ancient purpose remains: that is, to preach the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ and administer the ordinances of salvation--in other words, to bring people to Christ."
Later on he points out that "There is a second major reason the Savior works through a church, His Church, and that is to achieve needful things that cannot be accomplished by individuals or smaller groups." These include caring for the poor and needy, both locally and throughout the world. This also includes missionary work, thousands of missionaries spread throughout the world proclaiming the gospel, only made possible by sacrifices of members of the church throughout the world. I'm grateful to be part of it!
Lastly Elder Christofferson states that "The final reason I will mention for the Lord to have established His Church is the most unique--the Church is, after all, the kingdom of God on the earth."
 He then quotes Joseph Smith who said “Call upon the Lord, that his kingdom may go forth upon the earth, that the inhabitants thereof may receive it, and be prepared for the days to come, in the which the Son of Man shall come down in heaven, clothed in the brightness of his glory, to meet the kingdom of God which is set up on the earth... Wherefore, may the kingdom of God go forth, that the kingdom of heaven may come..."
I'm so grateful that the Lord has an organization, His true church, upon the earth to carry out His goal of "bring[ing] to pass the immortality and eternal life of [all] man[kind]."
This talk was perfect for the Depuys to listen to & I recommend you all read it! My favorite quote from the talk is this: "If one believes that all roads lead to heaven or that there are no particular requirements for salvation, he or she will see no need for proclaiming the gospel or for ordinances and covenants in redeeming either the living or the dead. But we speak not just of immortality but also of eternal life, and for that the gospel path and gospel covenants are essential. And the Savior needs a church to make them available to all of God’s children--both the living and the dead."
The road back to live with God isn't acquired with no effort. We need to try, and we need ordinances and covenants done by priesthood authority. I'm grateful to be a missionary, trying our best to bring the joy of the gospel into the lives of everyone we meet. I'm grateful for the priesthood authority that we have on the earth, in this church, that allows us to receive all the necessary ordinances to make it back to live with God.
I love you all and I pray for your happiness, safety, and success. I hope you all have an amazing week!
Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Elder Jones and I with Aaron and Annabeth Goss,
 an amazing couple in our ward. I love their family!
I've learned a lot from them about how to live a
 Christ-centered life. From just being around them
a few times in their home, there's so many things
I would love to implement in my future family
that they do with theirs.
 We are grateful for them taking us
up to the temple this morning!

This morning was a great morning at the temple! There were tons of people at the temple today and they had packed endowment sessions going every 30 minutes.
In our session, when it came time for the prayer, I sat there in my seat closing my eyes, and the officiator started the prayer. As the old man said the prayer, it sounded SO MUCH like Grandpa Duvall!! It was the coolest thing! There were a lot of things said in the prayer that touched me. I felt an extreme sense of peace, knowing that Grandpa and Grandma Duvall, and all of our other loved ones that have passed on are watching over all of us.
Then, in the celestial room, a random lady walked up to us and shared his scripture with us D&C 109:22-23
"And we ask thee, Holy Father, that thy servants may go forth from this house armed with thy power, and that thy name may be upon them, and thy glory be round about them, and thine angels have charge over them;
And from this place they may bear exceedingly great and glorious tidings, in truth, unto the ends of the earth, that they may know that this is thy work, and that thou hast put forth thy hand, to fulfil that which thou hast spoken by the mouths of the prophets, concerning the last days."

We are given power to withstand the adversary when we enter the temple, which truly is the house of God on the earth. I know that part of that power is angels that watch over all of us! I'm grateful for the spirit I felt at the temple this morning, and I am grateful for all of you and that I'm part of an amazing family! :)
Love you all!
Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

At our mission office they just put up this picture
that we took in January with the apostles who
visited the Mission and we were the first missionaries
to see it hung up! We're pointing to ourselves in this picture.

Us with Will Morris. He's our age, and he's not planning on serving a mission. But he was excited and willing to come out with us to visit some different people. We were able to follow up with a few potential investigators and teach a less active family with him. His personality reminds me so much of my friend Kenny, who's serving up in Philadelphia, PA right now.

After the Zone Training meeting we had we took a picture with our Zone this transfer. 

The meeting was on  Valentine's Day, hence all the red clothing).

Monday, February 13, 2017

February 13, 2017 Isaiah 30:20

20th birthday celebration with the Crouse family

Thanks for the annual birthday banner Mom! I love all the pictures!

Happy Valentine's Day everyone! I had a great birthday week last week! On 3 consecutive nights I had a birthday dessert with candies and singing and all that fun stuff. Thanks to everyone that sent birthday cards or emails to me!

I just realized that a year ago today Amy and Kadija Koroma were baptized back in Centreville! I can't believe that was an entire year ago, feels like yesterday! They're doing great though, and I believe Amy is about to start a temple preparation class to be able to go to the temple soon.
another one with Lawrence

This week we taught Lawrence a few times. That kid is so fun to teach! We've been showing him a bunch of different church videos and quizzing him on his knowledge of the gospel. It's true that children are so humble and teachable! I wish more people were like him. We're trying to get the Mom motivated to take him to church because their family hasn't been in a while, but she's open to us teaching him and wants him to get baptized. Hopefully they'll start to come consistently!
Basketball/lesson with Lawrence!
We also were invited over to the Depuys house for dinner and a brief lesson, along with Brother & Sister North from the ward. It's cool when you have investigators that will reach out to us and schedule member present lessons without us having to set it up! They are starting to really enjoy the friendships they are forming with members of the ward, it's great!

We had a great Mission Leadership Council this week. They do one every month with all of the zone leaders and Sister training leaders in the mission so I think this was my 7th or 8th time attending this meeting, and it's always a good experience. We receive different counsel from President Huntsman and the assistants and then the week after MLC we hold a zone training (this week) where we relay everything discussed to our zone of missionaries and provide more training. This month, President Huntsman based most of his remarks centered on this single scripture, Isaiah 30:20- "And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity, and the water of affliction..."

Beautiful sunset after the snowfall.

Here's some thoughts that I learned from the discussion on this phrase. First, I find it interesting that this scripture implies that the adversity, affliction, and opposition we experience in this life is often given to us by the Lord. Yes, there are many cases where our own stupidity can bring upon ourselves unnecessary adversity. But often times there's things outside of our control that inflict physical, emotional, or spiritual pain upon us. There is purpose and meaning being the trials we go through. The adversary will distract, deceive, and lie to us, causing us to question our testimonies of our Savior's love. He tears down things that are righteous and builds up things that are unrighteous. But we need to remember that these trials are often given to us by the Lord. So why is that? Think of the symbolism in the verse from Isaiah. What do bread and water represent? The Lord gives us the "bread of adversity, and the water of affliction..."
Another picture of the woods
The first thing that comes to my mind is the sacrament, a sacred, weekly experience where we can remember the Savior and his merciful, infinite, and atoning sacrifice for us. So, the adversity we go through can help remind us of the pain and suffering our Savior went through for us, and we can turn to Him for strength to endure.
Then I think about bread and water being essential to life. Without daily nourishment, we wouldn't be able to live and grow. Without experiencing trials in our lives, we wouldn't be able to grow. After all, this life is the time for us to prepare to meet God, and a part of that preparation is learning, and we learn most as we overcome weaknesses and opposition.
Thirdly, I think of the miracles that the Savior performed while on his earthly ministry. Throughout the New Testament we read of so many miracles where the Savior ministered to individual people, as well as large groups of people. In Matthew 14 He fed 5,000 people with 5 loaves of bread and a couple fish. In Matthew 15 he fed another 4,000 people with 7 loaves of bread and a few fish. In our lives, miracles can happen as a result of our trials. Obviously, we probably won't realize the miracles in the midst of enduring through the adversity. But the miracle is in the growth that comes as a result of overcoming it. And miracles will happen to help us along the way as we overcome it.
At the end of the day, we all experience different forms of adversity throughout our lives. But no matter what it is that we go through, we need to remember that diamonds aren't created without immense amounts of heat and pressure over a long period of time. For us to fulfill our divine potential and to become like our Father in Heaven, adversity is necessary. In fact, we often will grow much closer to him during adversity if we handle it the right way. Having a more eternal perspective will always help us to deal with the challenges we face every day.

Anyways, sorry for the long rant about that. I just felt like I learned a lot from that small verse of scripture and the discussion we had talking about it!

I'm looking forward to another good week! I love you all so much!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission
Elder Jones is a beast. (video)

Video of Birthday celebration at the Evan's home

Monday, February 6, 2017

February 6, 2017 Last day as a teenager!

Hey guys!

Well today is my last day as a teenager and I don't really know what to think. Tomorrow I will be 20 years old. I remember being a little kid and meeting people that were 20 and thinking to myself that I would never be that old. But here I am!

 Kerry took us to this cool Indian buffet for lunch last week!
They had some pretty delicious curry and butter chicken!

They surprised me with a birthday dessert!

 This upcoming week is already the start of a new transfer! Starting now, every transfer we will be finding out before Sunday where we will be getting transferred, so now you don't have to wonder mid-week if I'm staying or going. We found out that Elder Jones and I will both be in Warrenton for another 6 weeks! We're excited! Things are picking up slowly but surely in this area, it's cool to see how things have progressed since the day we both arrived here six weeks ago!

Kerry also happens to be good friends with Steve Young

And he was so kind to get me an autographed copy of his new book addressed to me. 

Pretty cool gift!

This week we started teaching this kid Lawrence Stiles. He is 11 years old and his mother is a less active member of our ward. He was taught by missionaries a few times right before Elder Jones and I came into the ward at the same time, and haven't been able to get in contact with them until this week. Lawrence is a sweet kid! We play basketball and do different things with him as we teach, to keep his attention. For example, yesterday we played horse and every time someone got a letter they had to read one of the articles of faith and then we would explain to him what it means. We hope that we can get him prepared for baptism soon! That is something his Mom really wants for him, but she wants him to want it too and for him to understand it's significance. Tonight they will be joining us for an FHE with an awesome member family in our ward.

A few days ago we were able to teach Fatima and her two kids again. This time Brother Toone came along with us to teach, and he brought his little daughter Arianna along with us which was fun.Then on Sunday he bore his testimony in sacrament meeting of how he was impacted by coming out with us to teach. That was pretty sweet! It was our second lesson with them. They are just the kindest little family, so welcoming and so happy to listen and learn more about the gospel! She is hesitant to come to church because she doesn't want to come without her husband, and he doesn't speak English at all and she speaks it really well. The closest Spanish ward is pretty far away so it might be hard for them to make it out there, but we're going to keep trying our best!

Fatima and her two kids Jackie and Nelson after our lesson, 

and then there's brother Toone and his daughter Arianna.

The Depuy couple came to church again this week and they finally stayed for Sunday School instead of dipping out right after sacrament meeting. They also invited us over this week for dinner and a lesson! They are definitely interesting couple to teach, considering they already have a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon but they have other things they still don't quite agree with about the church (they were formerly active in the RLDS church and are pretty attached to their beliefs). They've been to church more this year than the past few years combined though, and they're starting to get to know a lot of members of the ward, so we are hopeful that as time goes on that they'll get the answers to their prayers that they're searching for.

Another really sweet opportunity we had this week, was that we started going over the discussions with an excommunicated member in our Ward. Under the direction of our bishop and Stake president we are helping him set some goals and progress back to the point where he can enjoy the full blessings of the gospel. He is working really hard right now through some difficult past transgressions, but he is so awesome and a huge example of Repentance and forgiveness. The spirit was so strong in the lesson, and I quickly began to really love this guy. We testified of Heavenly Father's endless and infinite love he has for all his children, even if we don't feel worthy of it, it is always there. It gave us a whole new perspective being able to teach him.

Here's a quote that I liked his week:
"We show our love for God--and our faith in Him--by doing our very best every day to follow the course that He has laid out for us and by keeping the commandments that He has given to us. We especially manifest that faith and love in situations where we don’t fully understand the reason for God’s commands or the particular path He is telling us to take."

We don't need to always understand the reasons why we are asked to do certain things. We just need to trust in God and have faith in him and his commandments. If we do that, we will be blessed throughout our lives as we strive to follow Jesus Christ.

I hope you all have a great week! Happy birthday to the best twin out there! Love you all!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission