Monday, August 28, 2017

August 28, 2017 "Better and Happier"

Hey everyone!

We had another pretty good week!

This guys name is Atta. We see him all the time in his
neighborhood. He's always sitting out on these steps
 and enjoys talking with us. He says that one day he will
come to church with his neighbor, who's a member.

I want to start this email by quoting Elder Holland. I read an article the other day and came across a quote that I really like. He said "If my life has taught me anything, it is that kindness and pleasantness and faith-based optimism are characteristics of happy people. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier. Be the living expression of God’s kindness--kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile, kindness in your warm greeting.” (September 2017 Ensign)
I am grateful for the happy people that have blessed my life with their kindness, pleasantness, and optimism. I hope that each of us can strive to be someone who leaves others "better and happier" after they interact with us.
Over the course of my mission, I have tried my best to live this principle, striving to leave people better and happier than I found them. As I have tried to do this, I have definitely seen it to cause myself to be better and happier.

Kadiatu was excited to take a picture
 with me and then post it on her Facebook!

We had a really cool experience meeting and teaching this woman named Michelle this week. We were street contacting people and talking to a couple guys, and began talking about the importance of families and how we believe families can be together for eternity. While testifying of eternal families, Michelle walks out the door of the apartment building, sees us and hears what we are saying and then begins to get emotional. We went over to talk to her and found out that she had been in her bed all day praying for the strength to get up and go do something in the day. She in her 50's and had a daughter (who was about 30) that passed away a couple moths ago, and she has been depressed and discouraged ever since and has just been extremely sad and unmotivated to do much. But after she saw us and heard us talking about eternal families, she wanted to know what it was that we were sharing. So we taught her the Plan of Salvation right there and she loved every bit of it. So many of her questions and concerns that she has been having over the past few months were answered. We then saw her the next day and there was a whole new light about her

We usually visit Kadiatu (Katie) once or twice a week to 
read the scriptures. She has really enjoyed coming
back to church after not being in so many years.

than the day before. She was smiling and happy! We were able to teach her about the Restoration and the Book of Mormon and she loves everything we've taught. She lives in a neighborhood that we are in all the time, where we have a lot of investigators, and everybody in that area knows who the missionaries are because they see us all the time. She has heard false things about us from her friends and family, and has always brushed off the missionaries when they've approached her in the past. But when she stepped outside that day and met us, in that moment she felt like it was a sign from God that she needed to no longer ignore us and actually give us the time to talk to her. After meeting with her just a couple of times, she said she wished that she wouldn't have ignored the missionaries for so long, and that there's so many misconceptions she has had that held her back. But now she says "it's time to focus on Michelle's salvation and not care what anyone else thinks." Were excited to keep teaching her. Im grateful for the peace and comfort that God's plan brings to me and to the people that we are able to teach it too. I'm grateful for the many people we are able to meet and teach every week!

 Elder Baxter and I with Kwasi.

I had a great exchange with Elder Baxter this week! He's one of the Zone Leaders right now. We had a few sweet lessons together. One with this older Ghanaian man named Kwasi who we met months ago and were able to teach him again. He's had a Book of Mormon for a while, but hasn't truly understood it. Even though he's met numerous missionaries during his life, he never actually knew that the Book of Mormon is all about Jesus Christ. We've been reading some chapters out of 3rd Nephi with him about Christ visiting the Nephites and he kept saying "why haven't your colleagues before you that came here ever told me about this!" He is really enjoying reading the Book of Mormon and is praying for an answer to his prayers. In the past he's been pretty set with his church, but now he sincerely wants to know if what we teach is true.

Yesterday at church we had a new couple that just moved into the ward. The husband is a member of the church and his wife isn't. The husband approached us and told us that his wife was meeting with missionaries right before they moved here from Georgia, and that she has a testimony and is looking forward to being baptized! So he asked us if we could start teaching her and helping her prepare for her baptism! So of course we're pretty excited about that.

This week is the last week of the transfer, and President Huntsman told us that Elder Ure and I will most likely be spending a 3rd transfer together! I'm looking forward to another 6 weeks in this ward! We have another huge group of over 30 new missionaries coming next week. About half of the missionaries in our mission will be within their first 6 months, which is pretty crazy. So President thought it would be good to have some consistency and keep us together another transfer.

Remember to "Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier." I know that as you do this you will be happier as a result! I love you all! I hope you have a great week!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

On exchange with Elder Walker, another one of the Zone
Leaders.This is with Eishetu, the coolest recent convert, and his brother
in law Tezera, who we've been trying to teach and help come to church.

 A sweet family we found and taught last week.
The mother is Yaa, and her kids names
are Enoch, Prince, Evelyn, and Peter.

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017 "One by One"

Elder Ure and I at the temple Saturday 8-19.

Hey everyone!

We drove the van up to the temple again this
 weekend with all these missionaries.

We had to wake up at 3am this morning to take a group of 8 missionaries to the airport, who went home a little early for this semester of school. So we slept at the mission home last night and only had a few hours of sleep. Since today's Pday, we will be able to catch up on a little bit of sleep though.

 Early this morning at the airport, with the
 8 missionaries going home and
President Huntsman being silly in the back.

This week was pretty busy! We had 3 different exchanges with different companionships of zone leaders. I had a great day with each of them. We were able to teach a lot of lessons this week and have met some more great people! Every day is busy in our area! Always lots of people to talk to and there's never a dull moment it seems. We have met all kinds of people.

Throughout my mission, I have kept a list of all of the countries that I have met people from, and this week I reached 100!! I was pretty excited about that. It's been really cool to meet people from throughout the world.

Elder Ross and I on exchange,
after teaching our next door neighbor Kadiatu.
I put on this African shirt that I have when
 we got there, and she absolutely loved it!

There was a quote I heard from our Stake President this week that I really liked. It was a pretty simple phrase, but I think it has a lot of meaning. He said "If you give time to the Lord, the Lord will give you time." Sometimes I think we are so caught up in our daily routines of life, that we feel there is so much on our plate, and so much that we need to get accomplished each day, that we neglect to give the Lord some time. I think one of the best ways that we give time to the Lord is through serving others. I like that promise that our Stake president gave, that if we devote some time throughout our day, or week, towards serving others, the Lord will give us the time we need to accomplish the things that are important to us. We should not feel so stressed and overwhelmed all the time with everything we feel we need to do. But instead if we forget ourself and our own needs, even if it's just for a few minutes out of the day, the Lord will help us have the time that we need to get everything done. I really like that principle.

In my study of the Book of Mormon the past couple weeks, I've read through the Saviors ministry among the Nephites in 3rd Nephi. It's such a great part of the Book of Mormon! I've really enjoyed the different places where I've found the phrase "one by one." Here are some places that I found it.

First in chapter 11:14-15. I love in these verses how the Savior allowed everyone to come and feel his hands, and witness that his atonement has been completed for each of one them. I truly believe that he suffered for us "one by one" and he overcame death, so that each of us, "one by one" can make it back into the presence of the Father.

"Arise and come forth unto me, that ye may thrust your hands into my side, and also that ye may feel the prints of the nails in my hands and in my feet, that ye may know that I am the God of Israel, and the God of the whole earth, and have been slain for the sins of the world.
And it came to pass that the multitude went forth, and thrust their hands into his side, and did feel the prints of the nails in his hands and in his feet; and this they did do, going forth one by one until they had all gone forth, and did see with their eyes and did feel with their hands, and did know of a surety and did bear record, that it was he, of whom it was written by the prophets, that should come."

Elder Baldwin and I on exchange, eating dinner
at SuPollo, a Peruvian chicken restaurant
that we really like nearby our home

Next in chapter 17:18-21. Just as Jesus Christ blessed the little children individually, he blesses each of us "one by one" with strengths, weaknesses, and spiritual gifts, and continues to bless us with so many things every day.

"And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of praying unto the Father, he arose; but so great was the joy of the multitude that they were overcome.
And it came to pass that Jesus spake unto them, and bade them arise.
And they arose from the earth, and he said unto them: Blessed are ye because of your faith. And now behold, my joy is full.
And when he had said these words, he wept, and the multitude bare record of it, and he took their little children, one by one, and blessed them, and prayed unto the Father for them."

 This is a lady named Dorothy that we've been
teaching for a couple months. She's super nice!

Then in chapter 18:35-38, before Jesus Christ left his 12 chosen disciples he gave each of them time and attention, touching and speaking to all of them "one by one" before he left their presence.

And now I go unto the Father, because it is expedient that I should go unto the Father for your sakes.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had made an end of these sayings, he touched with his hand the disciples whom he had chosen, one by one, even until he had touched them all, and spake unto them as he touched them.
And the multitude heard not the words which he spake, therefore they did not bear record; but the disciples bare record that he gave them power to give the Holy Ghost. And I will show unto you hereafter that this record is true.
And it came to pass that when Jesus had touched them all, there came a cloud and overshadowed the multitude that they could not see Jesus.
And while they were overshadowed he departed from them, and ascended into heaven...

Here's a better picture from the
baptism of Christian and Stephanie
from 2 weeks ago.

Then again in chapter 28 verse 1 "he spake unto his disciples, one by one, saying unto them: What is it that ye desire of me, after that I am gone to the Father?"

I hope I (and all of us) can follow the Saviors example by loving, serving, and speaking to others "one by one," just as He did. Giving others the gift of our love, time, and attention is so important!
Anyways, thanks for being patient with me and all my scriptures I put into here.

I love you all! I hope you have a great week! Happy birthday to the best Momma in the whole world! She's THE best! I'm so grateful to have a incredible, loving mother who has done so much for me throughout my life!

Elder Jeremy Duvall
Washington DC South Mission

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!