Monday, March 27, 2017

March 27, 2017 Miracle in Tyson's

Hey everyone!

Rachel, Steve, and Blake Sippert. Their basement
is hands down the best place to live as a missionary.
 I'm going to miss them!  Blake felt like a little brother to us.
It's a whole new world out here in Tysons compared to Warrenton. This ward covers portions of Falls Church, Vienna, and McLean Virginia. I've enjoyed getting to know some of the members here in the past 6 days, it seems like a great ward.

After being in a car for the past 9 months, it did feel nice to be out biking and walking around a bit more this week. Elder Ostendorf is great! He is really good at connecting and communicating with people. We've enjoyed this past week! We've knocked on a lot of doors and talked to a lot of different people. Warrenton wasn't very diverse, but being back in a city there's a lot of diversity again! In our area there's specifically a lot of people from India. We actually have a couple investigators we are teaching that are from India. They're super nice! In our apartment complex there's a ton Indians, it's kinda cool! It does constantly smell like Indian curry though and I still can't decide whether I like the persistent smell or not...

Anyways, this week we had some great experiences! We've been able to teach a few different people. One of our investigators is named Swati. She's from India, and has been to the D.C. Temple Visitor's Center and gone to church with and LDS friend in Maryland. She grew up with Hindu beliefs, but has had a lot of Christian influence over the last 10 years. She hasn't been to our ward yet, but has been taught a couple times and hopefully we can help her progress in the gospel.

We were knocking doors on a street and realized and older member lived there so we knocked to try and meet her and nobody answered. As we were leaving her driveway we heard the door open so we rushed back to her and started talking. She is hardly able to walk and make it to the door, but she had a feeling it was missionaries after we knocked a second time, so she mustered up the strength to come open the door. She has a disease that doesn't allow her to leave her house much, and the simple fact that we stopped by to say hi and talk for no more than 10 minutes made her day! It's fun seeing people brighten up from just a brief conversation with us.

This is Claudia, the referral from Elder Crisp in Bolivia,
and her husband Rolando.
We had a good brief visit with them!

We were on splits the next day, and I was with Kirk,
a returned missionary that just got back from Mexico,
 so we decided to drop by and say hello.
He was able to teach her a bit and explain that the
Spanish elders are planning to come by this week.

 Here's the miracle of the week. Last Monday (the day before getting transferred to Tysons Corner) I got an email from my good life-long friend, Ben Crisp, who's currently serving a mission in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. In his email he had a referral, an address in Falls Church, Virginia for a lady named Claudia. Ben knows Claudia's mother in Bolivia, who converted to the church, and the mother asked Ben to ask missionaries in Virginia to go contact her daughter. I went back and forth in a few emails to Ben explaining that I'd get the referral sent to where it needed to go and make sure missionaries go by and teach her and answer questions for her. I then plugged in the address online and quickly found out that it was in the Tysons Ward boundary, ward I would be getting transferred to the next day! On Tuesday I arrived here and that address happened to be just a few blocks away, no more than a 5 minute bike-ride from our apartment! Crazy! It is SUCH a small world in the church! What are the odds?! I get a referral from my friend in Bolivia, and I get transferred the same week, right next to where the lady lives! So cool! That's not a coincidence- but a "God-incidence." Haha. So we went and of course she hardly spoke any English, but I was able to briefly explain in Spanish the situation with my friend, a missionary in Bolivia that knows her family in Santa Cruz, and how they told him to tell me to come here and meet her. We were able to schedule an appointment for the Spanish elders to come meet her and start teaching her and her husband Rolando! I took a picture to send to Ben to show him that I met them. 

This is Elder Ben Crisp who is serving his mission in Bolivia with the recent convert (the mother of Claudia).
"Ben and Jeremy doing missionary work together!!!!"
 Dana Crisp

I realized something interesting this week while studying in Alma. In Alma chapter 8, verses 3-6, Alma talks about his success in preaching the gospel in the land of Melek. "Alma departed into the land of Melek...he began to teach the people in the land...people came to him...and they were baptized throughout all the land." I'm sure Alma had some miraculous, joyful experiences as he preached the gospel to the people in that city. People were receptive to the gospel and they received the blessings that came to it through baptism. Alma must've been so happy! I find it interesting that there isn't more recorded about his amazing experiences there, but instead there are only 3 verses about it. Then, contrast this to the many verses and chapters following that are recorded about Alma's experiences in Ammonihah. This city was quite different from Melek. In this city "Satan had gotten great hold upon the hearts of the people" and "Alma labored much in the spirit, wrestling with God in mighty prayer..." to soften the hearts of the wicked people. People rejected him, mocked him, spit upon him, and they weren't receptive. Though Alma struggled in the land of Ammonihah, there is SO much more written about his experiences preaching the gospel there, and the lessons he learned from it. I learn from this that there is so much to be learned through adversity. It's really enjoyable to be having a ton of success, like Alma did in Melek, but often times we will learn lessons through adversity that we wouldn't have been able to learn when everything was smooth sailing. I've definitely seen that to be true on my mission. I've been in areas where we've had so much success and everything was incredible! But there have also been times that were more difficult. But in the difficult times I've been able to learn lessons I couldn't have otherwise learned. I'm looking forward to this upcoming transfer in Tysons. I hope we can work hard to accomplish the will of the Lord in this area!

I love you all and hope you have a great week! I'm excited for general conference this weekend and know that it will be a good experience for all of us.

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Jake and Kelli Seely, and their new baby Maggie.
They had us over almost every week, I'll miss them as well!

Trying to get Maggie to smile, not much luck. 

 I thought this doormat was pretty funny, especially
since nearly everyone seems to have a dog.

I'm going to miss Blake! He's such a fun little guy.

                                             Last Day in Warrenton

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017 Transfers!

Hey everyone! 

Especially for Momma!
 I saw this when we walked into a home and had to take a picture with it!
My wonderful Mom concludes everyone of her emails with this saying!
 "I love you a bushel and a peck and a hug around the neck."

Just a bunch of us Elders on St. Patrick's Day
with our big green ties! (With kerry Harding-
he took us to lunch and gave us these cool ties!!!

I am getting transferred tomorrow! I will be getting transferred to Tysons Corner! Transfers always bring mixed emotions. Ive grown to love the people in each area that I've served in and it's always hard to say goodbye, but at the same time it is exciting to see what's coming up next! I have enjoyed the past 3 months serving out here in the Warrenton 1st Ward with Elder Jones. I will miss the people here in this ward and in this area. It was an adventure to say the least, both of us coming into the ward at the same time, "white-washing" and not knowing anything about the area, but we have made he most of it. One of our main goals when we first got here was to to follow the instruction given in Preach My Gospel chapter 8 to "Do all you can to leave your area stronger than you found it" (p. 137). I feel like we've done a pretty good job doing that. I'm going to miss the beautiful drives through the countryside out here, but I am excited at the same time to get back into a city! 

The Jenkins.
They feed us breakfast EVERY P-Day!
They're the best!

My new companion in Tysons will be Elder Ostendorf! He's a great guy. I know him a bit already. We have taught a few of the same people while he served briefly in the Annandale Ward when I was in the Lincolnia Ward right next to it. We both taught a couple of the same people that we passed into each others wards. He also served here in Warrenton a while ago too. He's from Salt Lake City. I don't know him super well, just a bit, but we've talked a few times and I'm excited to get to serve with him in Tysons. Transfers are tomorrow morning! 
With the new transfer, I will also no longer be serving as a zone leader. I've been able to serve as a zone leader since July, so for about the past 9 months, and it's been awesome! I will miss being able to serve in that assignment, I did enjoy it a lot! I told President Huntsman during interviews that I'm happy to serve wherever he needs me, so I'm excited to see what's in store this next transfer. Elder Ostendorf will be the district leader of our district so I'll still be able to go on a good number of companion exchanges which I enjoy doing!
Tysons is a bike area as well. I've been in a car for the past 9 months, so it'll be nice to get back on my bike again! 

As far as this past week is concerned, a couple highlights included some baptisms that we went to, and getting some priests in the ward to come out with us. 
There were a couple baptisms this past Saturday. One of them was an 8 year old, grandchild of the Manwarings in our ward. The morning of the baptism was a beautiful spring morning, and the bishopric member conducting the baptism said that on his drive over he was humming the song "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" thinking through the lyrics of the song "Oh how lovely was the morning..." He pointed out that the family whose grandson was getting baptized is an ancestor of George Manwaring, who wrote the lyrics to that song. He is their great, great uncle. George Manwaring also happens to be my great, great uncle! Our family connects to George through his brother, David. The Manwarings in our ward connect through another brother, Herbert. Anyways, aside from that cool connection, the Depuys came to the baptism! 

This is Art and Joanne Depuy!
They're so awesome! Many members of the ward
regularly will mistaken them for members of the church.
They fit right in and get along so well with many of the members!
We're glad that they enjoy attending our services
and having lessons from us!

They have never attended an LDS baptismal service before, and they really enjoyed attending it and felt the spirit that was there. Afterwards, however, Art joked around while talking with us he said that when brother Manwaring invited all Melchizedek priesthood holders to come join in on the confirmation circle, Art thought about getting up and joining, but he decided to stay put (thankfully). It was funny as he talked about it afterwards, but that's his main holdup with the church is feeling like he already has been "called to the priesthood" in the RLDS church (which technically no longer exists- now called Community of Christ, which has strayed away from many of the RLDS teachings and practices.) I'm glad I've been able to teach them while serving here! It's given us a whole different perspective from a teaching standpoint. And we love them! I'll send a picture of us with them at the baptism.

The other baptism on Saturday was of Brother Sippert's niece. Brother Sippert baptized his niece, who lives in the 2nd Ward. The missionaries in that ward taught his niece who was about 10 years old and she was super excited to be baptized. She raised her arms and shouted "Yay!" with a big smile on her face following the baptism. It was sweet! 

The past few weeks we've been trying to get all of the priests to come out with us to spend a couple hours with us and get them pumped to do missionary work. It's been fun! We've knocked some doors with them, taught some lessons with them, and made other visits to potential investigators and less active members. It's fun to see them motivated to get involved, even if it takes a little convincing from us or their parents to get them to come! We have had some cool experiences with the 16-18 year olds coming with us! I remember being a priest and being invited by the elders to go teach with them, but I let other excuses get in the way. I wish I would've done it more! 

I'm so excited for general conference coming up next weekend! I can't believe it's almost been 6 months since the last one. Elder Holland gives a wonderful promise about listening to conference. In April 2011 he promised us "If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you." I'm excited to receive some personal revelation as I listen to the leaders of the church address us. I'm grateful to know that all of us can receive guidance and direction concerning life's challenges as we listen intently to general conference. 

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

This is Denver and Kristi James.
They are both recent converts within the last couple years
and they are an amazing couple.
They both serve so faithfully in their callings
and it's cool to see how much joy the gospel
continues to bring into their lives!

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017 Funny Story!

Thanks for the shirt Jenny (Hermana Duvall).
I just realized I never sent a picture wearing it.
P-day racquetball has been pretty fun recently!

It's been a good week! So I'll start out with some news,then a funny story from the week, then some other cool stuff.

First, the news: We had our interviews with President Huntsman this last week, which are always awesome! In my interview he hinted that I am probably going to be getting transferred to another area. Transfers are next Tuesday, the 21st. We'll find out for sure this Saturday if I'm getting transferred and where I will be headed to.

This picture was taken while I was over at the sink.
They were telling me to hurry
so I could make it back before the 10 second timer.

This was a re-enactment of the moment.
I'll just say that rice and ice cream coming
out my nose was an interesting feeling.
I felt perfectly fine after it all came out.
In fact, we had a lesson
with the Depuys about 15 minutes after this.

Try number two worked out.
We love their son Nicholas, he brings so much joy!

Now, the funny/embarrassing story. So we were having dinner with the Evans family, one of our favorite members in the ward. They ordered Chinese takeout for dinner. I love Chinese food, so I ate and ate and ate, until I got pretty full, but it was delicious. Then, they had this delicious ice cream called "Moo-Thru" ice cream made from local cows in the area. We have it every time we go to their home. It is so thick and creamy and amazing. Anyways, despite being full from the Chinese food, I decided to tackle this big bowl of ice cream. About halfway through the bowl, my stomach started feeling pretty uneasy and I thought about stopping, but I thought to myself "I

haven't thrown up in years, I'll  just power through and finish the bowl, so I did. Then Elder a Jones starts sharing our thought on eternal families that we've been sharing with different families, and I can tell that my stomach is really not feeling good. After the message, we all stood up to go take a picture with them, but I awkwardly made my way towards the sink not saying anything and they all wondered what I was doing. And sure enough, right as I made it to the sink I started to throw up the Chinese food and ice cream into their sink. We were all laughing, myself included. I was smiling as I was throwing up. It was embarrassing, but memorable all at the same time! Their family was good sports about it. I'm glad it was at their house that it happened. But I'll be careful not to eat so much next time! I'll attach a few pictures.

We love the Goss family!
On the left, Sister Goss is holding a picture of
her "little missionary" serving on the other side.
Their daughter passed away from cancer at a young age, 
but they've never doubted
the truth of eternal family's and have been strong!

The past couple weeks we have been sharing brief lessons on eternal families with the members of the ward. It's such a simple truth, but it is so vital to everything that we do in the church. Every ordinance we participate in essentially prepares us for the crowning ordinance of being sealed together forever with our own families. This knowledge that I can be with my family forever is one of the major factors that motivated me to serve a mission, so that I can help other families have this same blessing in their lives. With this message we've been inviting members to take a picture with us, along with a poster we made (we're not sister missionaries, so it's nothing super amazing) and then post it on Facebook or other forms of social media with a brief caption with their testimony of eternal families explaining why family is important to them. Social media provides such a simple way to share the gospel! You never know who will see what you post and be impacted by it!

We did an FHE this week at the Goss' home. And Lawrence Stiles, along with his two sisters, Mom, and Dad were all there to join us! We had a brief lesson and then spent some time playing games with their family. I loved the quote that the lesson was centered on. It comes from Elder Uchtdorf, who said "In family relationships love is really spelled t-i-m-e, time." I love that! I am grateful for the gift of love and time that each member of my family has given me.

 Busby family. 6 fun kids!

We had a cool experience this week where a man living in Provo, Utah called our number and asked us to go and give a blessing to his friend who lives just a few minutes away from us. His friends name is Paul, and his wife was recently diagnosed with a terminal disease. They are both devout Catholics, but they were both comforted by the blessings we were able to give them. I find it so cool how worldwide our church is, and how connected we are to one another. It's so easy for a random person from across the country to find the number of missionaries in a far place to ask for help for a friend in need. I'm glad we were able to help out!

This past week we also had an exchange with the Assistants again, out in the Fort Belvoir Ward in Alexandria. It felt so nice to be back in that area. We were able to teach a few solid lessons and find some great people. It was fun teaching a few people from Africa again! They aren't out in Warrenton much at all, it's much more diverse the closer you get to D.C.

We had a pretty neat lesson with the DePuy's this week. At this point, Art is pretty much looking for a sign, expecting some miraculous answer to join the church. So we decided to show him the video "Patterns of Light: Spirit of Revelation" ( by Elder Bednar.  He basically describes how most of the time we don't receive answers at the flip of a light switch, but more often than not our answers come gradually, like the sun rises little by little. He also explained how sometimes we receive personal revelation like a foggy day, where we know it's light outside, but we can only see enough to take a few steps forward, requiring more faith on our part. They seemed to really like the video!

A couple days ago I re-read Elder Bednars talk from last years conference in April titled "Always Retain a Remission of Your Sins." This talk is all about baptism, the Holy Ghost, and staying pure through partaking of the sacrament. There was one paragraph that really stood out to me. Elder Bednar said "The ordinance of the sacrament is a holy and repeated invitation to repent sincerely and to be renewed spiritually. The act of partaking of the sacrament, in and of itself, does not remit sins. But as we prepare conscientiously and participate in this holy ordinance with a broken heart and a contrite spirit, then the promise is that we may always have the Spirit of the Lord to be with us. And by the sanctifying power of the Holy Ghost as our constant companion, we can always retain a remission of our sins.
We truly are blessed each week by the opportunity to evaluate our lives through the ordinance of the sacrament, to renew our covenants, and to receive this covenant promise."
I love how he says that the act of taking the sacrament isn't what cleanses us of our sins, but rather it is the way we prepare for it, and our mindset as we participate in that ordinance, that allows us to be cleansed of sin and retain the companionship of the Holy Ghost. If we have a broken (repentant) heart and a contrite (obedient) spirit, then we can truly allow the Saviors atonement to take effect in our lives as we partake of the sacrament every week.

I love you all! Hope you all have an amazing week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

Free pancakes on national pancake day last week! 

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017 "14 months?!"

Hey everybody! It's been another good week in Warrenton!

We've still been teaching the Depuy's. They came to church again this Sunday and enjoyed fast and testimony meeting. In our lesson, we watched the conference talk by Elder Bednar titled "Come and See" which is a great talk geared towards nonmembers.
We also taught Lawrence twice this week! He's such an awesome kid! We're just working on helping the family get back to church, because that's the only thing keeping him from progressing towards baptism.

The first Saturday of every month our mission does a "car fast" where we go without using our car for the whole day. This saves the mission miles, helps us get more involved with members, and also helps us to get outside more and walk around. This is a bit difficult considering our ward is the largest in the mission, but it all worked out great! We enjoyed getting rides to a bunch of different places with different members of the ward.

Another sunset on one of the many farms
that are spread throughout the ward!

Another good part of the week was having breakfast at our Stake President's house! He invites the zone leaders in his Stake over once a month to discuss the missionary work in the Stake, and how we can better involve the members in our efforts to share the gospel.

We had another exchange this week with one of the District leaders and his companion. I always enjoy doing exchanges! It's fun to interact with other missionaries and learn from one another as we go out proselyting and serving. Elder Jones and I have also been working on getting the priests in the ward to come out with us, to help them have positive missionary experiences, motivating them to continue preparing for their own missions. That's been pretty fun!

We were able to teach a lesson to a recent convert couple that just moved into our ward a couple weeks ago. They joined the church a couple years ago and are preparing to get endowed and sealed in the temple in a few months. We were able to teach them a lesson about the importance of having daily spiritual experiences There's a video titled "Daily Bread: Pattern" which is 1 of 3 videos by Elder Christofferson about this topic. In the video, he describes how the Lord created us in a way which requires us to have daily physical sustenance, food and water. He then describes how the need for daily spiritual sustenance is just as strong. The children of Israel coming out of Egypt lived off of manna for about 40 years, and the manna was provided by God, which taught them the importance of remembering Him. We can remember Jesus Christ every day as we pray and read the scriptures. Just like we can't eat one big meal and expect to be filled for the whole week or month, we can't have one big spiritual experience and then neglect to nourish ourselves spiritually throughout the week and month. It's something we need daily! These simple acts of faith will give us the spiritual sustenance we need to go throughout our lives. I know that as this couple does the little daily things that feed their spirits, that they'll be prepared to make it to the temple in a couple months!

Since today is March 6th, that marks 14 months since I entered the MTC! Where does time go?! In my Missionary Handbook that I carry around in my pocket everyday, I have written down a reminder to myself to "Work hard, make the most of every day, and have no regrets." I'm grateful for this reminder to myself. Although sometimes the days can get hard, this experience here won't last forever and I need to make the most of every day. I've recently thought about how it's human nature to always be thinking about the future (or dwelling on the past). Too often we will be looking forward to and waiting for what's next in our lives. If we spend so much time worrying about the future, we might fail to fully enjoy and cherish the here and now. At some point in the past, we all looked forward to where we are at, right now, and we need to remember that. For me, I've looked forward to my mission for my entire life leading up to it. So I can't afford to not be grateful and enjoy everyday, even when it gets difficult. No matter what stage of life we are in now, we've dreamt about and been excited for where we are today. So rather than constantly looking into the future, worrying about what the next step is, make the most of today and find joy in your current circumstances, whatever they may be! Look for the Lord's hand, because it's always there. Even if it's hard to find, He's there.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

  Say hello to Chuck Mason. This man was baptized a little over a year ago, and he has embraced the gospel more than anyone I've seen. He's a family history guru, so he decided to become a family history service missionary! He's found over 5,000 names to take to the temple. He fulfills his calling serving in the young men's. He goes to the temple every single week. He is currently doing BYU Pathways to receive more education. His conversion story is quite amazing too. We love Chuck!