Monday, April 10, 2017

April 10, 2017 Don't Look Around, Look Up!

Hey everyone!

Yesterday was April 9th, and a year ago on that day Michelle was baptized in Centreville! I sent her a message asking her if she was able to watch general conference last week and she did. General conference last year was about a week before her baptism, so it's crazy to think it's already been a year since that point. She'll hopefully be preparing to go to the temple soon!

We had a good lesson with Swati this week. We taught her through the Plan of Salvation, with an emphasis on God being our Father in Heaven. Culturally she's been brought up Hindu, and different aspects of Christianity she's still trying to wrap her mind around, but she doesn't disagree with them. She actually drove to our church building last week on a weekday, but was sad when she got there and realized "it was closed." She thought it would just be open whenever she showed up, even though we told her our services are on Sunday. That shows some action and intent on her part that she actually put forth effort to drive there, but hopefully she can make it on Sunday.

We had a cool experience last week that reminded us of a conference talk from last weekend. We were about 20 minutes walking distance from our apartment and started heading back at the end of the night, and all of the sudden it started downpouring rain. We didn't expect it and we weren't dressed for rain. But realizing there was nothing we could do to avoid it, we kept on walking back. We were reminded of Elder Yoon Hwan Choi's talk, where he mentioned advice he would give to his missionaries in Seattle to "Go out in the rain, look up to heaven, open your mouth, and drink it! (Hahaha) When you look up, you will be strengthened to open your mouth to everyone without any fear." It's dark outside, in a rainstorm, so there obviously wasn't anyone to talk to on our way back, but God still managed to place someone in our path! A few minutes after the rain started to pour, a kind stranger in a car pulled over to the side of the road and offered to give us a ride. We were a little hesitant to accept it at first, but after realizing how kind he was we couldn't deny it. At this point we were already soaking wet, but we got in his car, and it only took a few minutes until we were to our apartment. His name was Elias, was about 20 years old or so, and he is an Eagle Scout that did scouts with an LDS troop a few years back! We found out that he had actually been taught a few times by missionaries in the past as well, but after he moved to Maryland he hasn't had much contact with the church. For some reason he was here in Falls Church, but was on his way back over to Maryland when he saw us. So we got his address and phone number that we gave to the missionaries that cover his area. He was open to meeting up with missionaries again to learn more about the church!

I really liked Elder Choi's talk where he encourages us to not look around at our circumstances, but rather to look up in faith. He said "It is never too late to look up to Jesus Christ. His arms are always open to you. There are generations before us and after us depending on us to follow Christ so that we can be an eternal family of God."
He then went on to say "It’s not always easy to look up when your parents are opposed to the gospel, when you are a member of a small Church unit, when your spouse is not a member, when you are still single although you did your best to marry, when a child has strayed, when you find yourself a single parent, when you are physically or emotionally challenged, when you are a victim in a disaster, and so on. Hold on to your faith in those hard times. Look up to Christ for strength, balance, and healing. Through the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, “all things shall work together for [your] good.”

We didn't complain when the rain came, but accepted the reality of the situation and did what was in our control, and God took care of the rest. I know that principle can apply in any circumstance of our lives. There's certain things we can and can't control in life, but if we faithfully focus on the things we can control (how we use our time, what we do for others, our obedience to the commandments, etc.) everything will ultimately work out for our good.

Another highlight from the week was going on an exchange with Elder Walker, a Spanish-speaking missionary this past week. We spent the day working in his area, and it was great! Elder Walker was actually in the CCM (Mexico MTC) at the same time as my sister and met her briefly while he was there. It was fun seeing how different a day in the Spanish program was. First off, Hispanic people are so extremely kind and much more willing to listen than the average people we talk to everyday. We had a couple different people we had never met immediately let us into their homes to have a brief 15-20 minute gospel discussion with them. Because they were all in Spanish, Elder Walker did the majority of the teaching and I just sat and listened, but I participated by reading scriptures or a few sentences out of the pamphlet. But at one point during one of the lessons, Elder Walker stopped and looked at me and smiled as if it were my turn to start speaking/teaching and I had know idea what to say so I looked down and read a couple sentences from the pamphlet and then tried testifying of the first couple principles that we teach people-that God is our loving Heavenly Father and that His gospel blesses families. It was pretty funny, and the guy from El Salvador that we were teaching didn't make any weird faces at me while I tried to speak Spanish (unsuccessfully), so that's a good thing I guess! Haha..

With Elder Walker at Claudias house.
She surprised us and fed us a nice meal!
Her husband hasn't really been interested in joining in
 on lessons when they go teach her,
but she's been enjoying learning from them.

The best part of our exchange though was getting to see Claudia again! She calls me Hermano Duvall, instead of Elder for some reason, but calls all the other missionaries elder, it's kind of funny. They had taught her a few days prior to us going and in our lesson we read out of the Book of Mormon with her and helped her to understand more about its background and its importance to our lives and to our testimonies. The lesson went pretty well and I sat there for a majority of it. But at the end of the lesson Elder Walker asked me if I wanted to add anything, and I told him to just tell her that her "Mom knows that this is true and she wants you to know it all as well. You can come to know its true by coming to church, and by reading the Book of Mormon, and praying to know if it's true." So he told her all that in Spanish. Such a simple and clear invitation! Her husband doesn't seem to be very interested or supportive, which is a bummer, but Claudia is excited to continue learning. Claudia had also prepared a meal for us as well which we weren't expecting when we arrived, so that was really nice too!

Springtime has been nice here. It's starting to warm up quite a bit and everything's starting to get green. Aside from the random rainstorms we've enjoyed the weather here recently.

Anyways, I love you all! I hope you have a fantastic week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

There's a cemetery right across the street from our apartment and we found this really cool statue of the last supper! Perfect timing for Easter being this upcoming week!

With Elder Hansen and Elder Leishman on Pday after playing basketball.

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