Monday, May 8, 2017

May 8, 2017 Week 1 in Fort Belvoir

Hey everyone!

I had a great first full week in the Fort Belvoir Ward with Elder Yang. The members in the ward are great! Probably about 50% of the members move every 2-3 years because a lot of them are stationed on the Fort Belvoir military base, in the Army. We have passes to go on base, so we've been on base a few times last week to visit different members for dinner, but obviously there's no proselyting on base. There's a decent number of members that live off base as well, in other parts of the ward, and most of them either are involved with the military in some way, or they work for the government.
Where we spend most of our time proselyting are in some apartment complexes that are Section-A housing for low-income families. There's a TON of apartment complexes in our ward, with so many people out and about to talk to, it's awesome! We try our best to talk to everyone. I need to start learning some more Twi and Amharic, because we've met a tone of Ghanaians and Ethiopians last week.

I got transferred into this ward a few days prior to transfers, which were on Tuesday. Transfers are super, super busy now. It's a few day process. It starts with picking up new missionaries on Monday and taking them to the mission home for their first night. Then on Tuesday doing training meetings for them and their trainers right before the transfers actually happen at noon.

It's tradition for us and the office elders to go out
Denny's early in the morning after we drop off the
departing missionaries at the airport, before we
go back and catch up on a couple hours of sleep.

That is then followed by gathering all of the departing missionaries and taking them to the temple. We then have a departing dinner and testimony meeting at the mission home, and then take them to the airport early the next morning. And by early, I mean3am! It was fun though, waking up in the middle of the night to drive a group of Elders and sisters to the airport with President and Sister Huntsman. We were able to catch up on a little bit of sleep, but still managed to get out the door that morning at10am!

It's a treat to be able to go with the departing missionaries to the temple (especially since the expectation coming on the mission was that I'd only go once every 6 months). It was sweet to be there at the mission home as well as they bore their testimonies of major lessons they learned on the mission, how they grew,

At the mission home with a few of the departing
missionaries on their last night in Virginia.

and what their plans are moving forward. My testimony grew listening to them testify of what their missions meant to them. It enhanced my appreciation for this experience. While dropping them off at the airport and watching them say goodbye to the Huntsman's, I felt extremely grateful to still have 7 or 8 months left on my mission! I don't want that moment to come too soon. It was a relatively small group of missionaries that came in from the MTC and left this transfer, but the next couple transfers the groups are going to be much larger.

We had a busy week with an MLC meeting on Thursday, discussing the upcoming Zone conferences. Elder Yang and I will travel around the mission to all of the zone conferences over the next two weeks. I'm excited to be able to see every one of the missionaries throughout the mission! We also conducted the Return and Report meeting last week, which is a meeting for missionaries that just finished their first transfer. That's one of my favorite meetings! It's fun hearing about experiences new missionaries and their trainers are having, and hearing from what they learned from each other in their first 6 weeks.

This is Eshetu from Ethiopia,
who got baptized a couple of months ago,
and came out with us teaching.

Eshetu, a recent convert in the ward from Ethiopia, came out with us to teach people this week. He joined the church just a couple of months ago, but has such a strong testimony that this is the true church. There's nothing better than having a recent convert join us in teaching lessons to other investigators (especially when they're both African, they connect super well.)
We also had another convert named Maxwell, from Ghana, join us in teaching a couple Ghanaian people. In one lesson, with an investigator named Kwasi, Maxwell said the closing prayer in Twi. It was pretty cool feeling the spirit, even though I had no idea what he was saying in the prayer!

There's also a few young men in the ward that like coming out with us on a regular basis, getting ready to go on their missions. It's great having so much support in helping us teach! We've been able to teach quite a few people this week! I'll send more details about some of the people we've been able to teach in my email next week.

This is Esther, a little Ghanaian girl in the ward.
When we biked on the car fast day,
she insisted on trying on our helmets

One quick thought that stuck out to me this week comes from Elder Gary B. Sabin' conference talk last month titled "Stand Up Inside and Be All In." He said "Brothers and sisters, no one has sinned tomorrow. May we recalculate our route if need be and look forward with great hope and faith. May we “stand up inside” by being valiant and “all in.” May we be pure and courageous in defending our Heavenly Father’s plan and the mission of His Son, our Savior."
I love that statement that "no one has sinned tomorrow." Each of us can make the decision now to decide who we want be tomorrow. We may have sinned yesterday, but we haven't sinned tomorrow, and we can each resolve to be valiant and try our best to be obedient, relying upon the Savior.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

At the mission home with a few of the departing missionaries on their last night in Virginia.

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