Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017 Baptisms and Priesthood Blessings

Hey everyone!

This week was great! We made it through a busy week of three Zone Conferences! We enjoyed presenting trainings at each one. Even though we do the same things with every zone, we are able to fine-tune our training and make improvements and changes to it each time we gave it, so by the time we reach our last one it was much better than the first time. It's so fun being able to see all of the missionaries throughout the mission within the span of a week.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

We had the baptism of Cristian and Stephanie this past week in our ward! Cristian and Stephanie are 12 and 13 years old and we have been working with their family for a while, so it awesome to see them finally make this step!. Their baptismal service was great! We had good support from some members there, and Elder Shelley was able to come back to baptize Stephanie. He was my second companion in the mission field in my first area, Centreville. And he also served here in this ward shortly before I got here, and he taught Cristian and Stephanie for a bit before I came. Elder Shelley baptized Stephanie and Elder Ure baptized Cristian. I gave a talk at their baptism, and then I also was asked to do Stephanie's confirmation in church yesterday.

Elder Ure, Elder Shelley, and I with
 Cristian and Stephanie and their Mom at their baptism.

I am excited for them and so proud of the decision they've made to be baptized! Their Mom and two older sisters were baptized about 8 years ago or so, and then stopped coming to church when they moved here from Annandale. So it has been exciting to see their family start to come back and be at church together. Cristian and Stephanie were nervous before their baptism, but they are so happy that they decided to do it!

We had a cool experience this week teaching this young couple named Anthony and Redeit. We just knocked on their door, trying to see someone else who doesn't live there anymore and Anthony talked with us for a minute and had a lot of great questions about the Book of Mormon. After explaining it briefly to him, he allowed us to come inside and sit down. We then taught he and his wife all about it. Most of the people we meet from Ethiopia are pretty devout Ethiopian orthodox, but they aren't really strongly attached to any particular religion, but they are strong in their faith in God and Jesus Christ. They're in their 20's and have been married for a few years. They were intrigued by the Book of Mormon! Recently, we've been trying our best to emphasize the fact that the Book of Mormon truly is another testament of Jesus Christ, and that we represent Jesus Christ. Often times we meet people that say we are from the "Church of Mormon" the "Mormon Church", or even the "Church of Joseph Smith." But we have been trying our best to explain that we represent the Church of Jesus Christ, and that this is His church, and that He is at the head of it. People have so many misconceptions about us, but when people recognize how we believe Jesus Christ to be central to everything we believe and teach, it makes a difference. It certainly did with Anthony and Redeit! They are excited to learn more!

Every time we have a companionship study, we start out by reading a few pages of the Missionary Handbook, and then we try and identify one thing that we can apply or focus on that day. One day, we read the pages about administering blessings to the sick, and giving blessings of comfort and counsel. We were trying to figure out how this could apply in our day that day, and we decided to make sure we had oil in our vials. The oil vials we had on us were actually empty when we read through these pages, so we decided to fill them up, just to make sure we were ready if asked to give a blessing that day. Then a few hours later, right after our dinner, we got a phone call asking us to go to the hospital to give a blessing to a woman named Felicia, who was having some complications. She is an investigator that the sister missionaries in our ward have been teaching. We happened to be just a couple miles from the hospital she was at. Within 10 minutes of the phone call we were in her hospital room. Felicia was astounded that we made it there so quickly! She told us that God put us in the right place at the right time! It was a cool experience there in the hospital room with her as we discussed the priesthood, gave her a blessing, and read through a few scriptures with her.
We also had the opportunity to give a blessing one of the Ghanaian members of our ward, who had her fourth child this week! We gave her a blessing just a couple hours before she had her baby boy, so it was cool to be part of that special day in their family!

We've been teaching our next door neighbor Kadiatu who has been coming back to church pretty consistently over the past month or two. On Saturday, we found out that it was her birthday and hat she had nobody to celebrate with! No family or friends in the area to celebrate with that day, and all she had planned was to go to work. So we baked her a little cake and went and sang happy birthday to her! She was SO happy! It always feels good making people laugh and smile. She's such a happy woman!

This week on Saturday we'll be going up to the temple to take the departing missionaries for their departing temple trip. The temple is closed for cleaning for a few weeks on the day of transfers, so we have to do their temple trip early. In excited to go again! I love the temple and I'm grateful for the opportunity we have to go!

 These are two investigators we've been teaching from 
Burkina Faso, Frank and Bouma. They speak French and have 
been learning English. We first met them a few months ago
 and have been teaching them for a while. They look like thugs 
in this picture, but I can assure you that they are some of the 
nicest people I've ever met!  They are actually moving back up to 
the Bronx in New York City this week, so we got them in
 touch with the missionaries there, so that they 
can start teaching them.

We had a lesson in Elders quorum at church about the importance and value of work, based of of some teachings by President Hinckley. He said
"The great genius of this Church is work. Everybody works. You do not grow unless you work. Faith, testimony of the truth, is just like the muscle of my arm. If you use it, it grows strong. If you put it in a sling, it grows weak and flabby. We put people to work. We expect great things of them, and the marvelous and wonderful thing is they come through. They produce.
Nothing happens in this Church unless you work. It is like a wheelbarrow. It doesn’t move until you get ahold of the two handles and push. Hard work moves the work of the Lord forward, and if you have learned to work with real integrity it will bless your lives forever. I mean that with all my heart. It will bless your lives forever."

I am grateful for the principles of work, and those who have helped me to develop good work ethics over the years. I hope I can continue to learn the importance of work and know how to work hard throughout my life, in all aspects of life.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

We did an exchange this week with a trio, so I went
with these two Elders, Elder Evans and Elder Benard.
And Elder Ure went with their other companion.
 Elder Evans and I met eachother at EFY in 2012,
 so it's been fun to serve with him throughout my mission!
He is finishing his mission, so I'm going to miss him!
This picture was taken amidst a huge
rainstorm that got us soaking wet!

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017 Come to Know Him

Hey everyone!

We had another great week! Each week just seems to be flying by.

I love Lawrence's face in this picture! He's a sweet kid!

We were able to drive all the way from Alexandria out to Warrenton for Lawrence’s baptism last week! It was a special day! Elder Jones and I enjoyed teaching him for the 3 months that we were together. Whenever we taught him, we would play basketball in the driveway with him, and teach him at the same time. Every few minutes we take a break from shooting hoops and teach him some more. Over the course of our basketball lessons with him we covered all of the missionary discussions and baptismal interview questions. As time went on, he understood and grasped everything pretty well! His family has had their fair share of trials this year, but amidst it all, he and

Elder Smith, Elder Gleed, myself, and Elder Jones 
with Lawrence prior to his baptism!

his two older sisters and his mother eventually started coming back to church. (His Mom and sisters have been members of the church for a while, but Lawrence wasn't old enough to be baptized when his family joined the church years ago). At the baptism, I gave a brief talk about the Holy Ghost and Elder Jones spoke on baptism. It was a great evening, being there to congratulate him and support him and his family. It was fun seeing many of the awesome members that I grew to love in Warrenton. It feels like a family in that ward. (Shout out to Sister Goss! Thanks for the delicious homemade bread! I ate a bunch of it on the long drive back to Alexandria). Lawrence just turned 12, so he will be receiving the priesthood soon and be ordained a deacon!

Back in our area, Christian and Stephanie will be getting baptized this week! It's has been so fun

Here's our next door neighbor, Kadiatu! She's one of the nicest ladies ever! 
It was a cool experience meeting her, and she's been to church every week
 for the past month! She loves coming and she's so happy to
serve others by giving our investigator Peter rides to church

teaching them ever since I got transferred into this ward. I actually taught them a couple times prior to serving in this ward, when I used to come on exchanges here. So I've known them for a while and it's cool to see how much they've grown and how excited they are for this week! Christian turns 12 this week as well, so he will be preparing to get the Aaronic priesthood and start passing the sacrament at church.

Exchange with Elder Norton this week. He is one of the Zone Leaders
 now so he got to come on exchange here last week. We were in the MTC 
together (19 months ago?!) It was fun being with him for a day!
We are with a couple of kids in this picture
who love seeing us when we visit their parents.

All week long, we weren't able to get in contact with our investigator Otelia who came to church with us last Sunday. So yesterday at church we weren't expecting her to come, but all of the sudden she walked in! She's had a busy week moving to a new place nearby and has had a lot going on, but she told us she knew she needed to come to church again. She is so in tune with the spirit and feels it so much at church. She has had a lot of struggles in her life, especially the last couple of years with a lot of death in her family, but she has recognized the peace and the hope that the gospel has started to bring into her life in just the past few weeks that we have been teaching her. She's excited to come and watch Christian and Stephanie's baptism later this week and is even more excited for her own baptism in the future.

We had one Zone Conference this past week, and we have three this upcoming week. So it's going to be a busy week!

Elder Judkins mother took this picture of us
right before they took him away!

This transfer our mission has been focused on utilizing the Book of Mormon more effectively and more often in all aspects of our work. Whether it be in finding, teaching, working with members, or our own personal study, we have a big emphasis this month on the Book of Mormon. In Preach My Gospel Chapter 5 I love what it says about the Book of Mormon. Under the section "The Book of Mormon Testifies of Christ" it says that "A central purpose of the Book of Mormon is to convince all people that Jesus is the Christ (see title page of the Book of Mormon). It testifies of Christ by affirming the reality of His life, mission, and power. It teaches true doctrine concerning the Atonement--the foundation for the plan of salvation.... Those who know little or nothing about the Savior will come to know Him by reading, pondering, and praying about the Book of Mormon."
I love how it doesn't just say those who read, ponder, and pray about the Book of Mormon will come to know about the Savior. Instead, we are promised that we will come to know him as we read it, on a personal level. It's one thing to learn about Jesus Christ, but coming to know him is a whole different story. I'm grateful for the Book of Mormon, and for all that it has taught me about the life, mission, and power of Jesus Christ. But more importantly I am grateful for the chance I've had to continue come to know Him, each time I study and apply the things I learn.

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

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

 I love this picture of the temple!