Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Monday, January 15, 2018

Family and Friends,

I would like to start off just by saying ROLL TIDE. I heard about the big win against Georgia and I have already emailed my first companion Elder Spikes about it because he was non-stop talking trash on bama and how they were going to lose to the dawgs. Idiot.

Now for the good news! I got my transfer call this week and I will be going back to my home in Stockton! I am so excited to go back to the Brookside ward! There are many people there that I love and had gained a close relationship with over the time that I was there the first half of my mission. This is going to be a great transfer. My new companions will be Elder Kesler and a new missionary. It is going to be interesting being in a trio again. They are always wild!

 Basically this week was a blur. We had two exchanges so it went by pretty quickly. I looked through my journal and couldn't find too much to write about this week. We were able to have a lesson with Tyler! But once again couldn't come to church...So we will see what happens there in the next few weeks. I will have Elder Stewart give me an update on all of that.

I am really sad that I have to leave my recent converts in this area. Juan, Josh, and Brandon are all super good converts. I will keep in touch with them and a lot of the people here hopefully. Juan is starting up school here pretty soon and Josh is working. Haven't seen Brandon in awhile. I hope he is doing okay. This was the fastest 7 months of my mission. Sometimes you wish that you could get time back, but that is not how the Lord works.

My spiritual thought this week is going to be a short testimony. I know that the Lord knows each one of us and he places people in our lives to change us for the better. I am so happy that I was able to serve here in the Turlock YSA. This place will always be special to me. I am thankful for inspired leaders who know where we need to be and what we need to be doing. I know that this church is true. I know that our Savior lives. And that God is our Eternal Father in Heaven. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Willden

I guess this is all we get this week......shades and computer lab at the church in Turlock, CA

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Monday, January 8, 2018

Family and Friends,

To start off my letter I just want to say that this week we were on exchanges with the assistants and we got a call from President Palmer informing us that President Monson had passed away the night before. I was so sad...but I knew that he is in a better place and now he gets to be with his wife again. I did not realize how long his service was in the church. He was called the the Council of the Twelve at the age of 36. And had many callings before that. He was and is a great man.

Well to get to some good stuff. Juan took us out to eat last Monday and we went to Red Robin. It was pretty good. We got to talk to Juan about his goals and things for the upcoming year. He told us how he is starting up college here pretty soon at Modesto Junior College. Then his ultimate goal is to transfer over to BYU Idaho. I hope he reaches his goals. I think that he is seriously contemplating a mission too...so that would be super awesome if he served! We were also talking about his previous 2017 goals and I thought to ask him, "You probably did not think you were going to be baptized this year, did you?" He responded and told us that he had actually been wanting to be baptized since his sister and his dad joined the church, but he just did not know how to get started. What an amazing blessing from following the council of our mission leaders so that we could knock on his door. He waited for a long time. Something that is amazing that he just did was he took 29 names to the temple and was able to be baptized and baptize others for his ancestors. He had an amazing experience.

On Tuesday we had a great experience going to the dentist...Elder Stewart got a root canal. I really felt bad for the him! It looked like they drilled on his tooth pretty good! It was on one of his molars so they went hard in the paint! It was funny too because the root canal specialist was pretty old and first glance it looked like Elder Stewart was going to get drilled on by an old guy that just decided he was going to do the root canal haha. I am happy to announce that he is fully recovered and doing well...or at least that is what he tells me!

Well we had an exchange with the assistants this week and I was with Elder Wray. It was a great exchange! We had a great experience up in Riverbank. We decided to knock some doors on Alabama Ct. Because roll tide. So when we pulled up we saw this guy in his garage and he looked at us for a little and then got back to what he was doing. Well we knocked and knocked and finally made it to his home. When we got to his house we introduced ourselves. We asked if we could share a message with him. He asked us if we were Jehovah's Witness and we quickly replied with a no. He then said that he would listen. Well...we started to teach the Restoration. When we had just started he asked where the church was. We told him and gave him the info. We felt prompted to bear testimony about family. We told him that we would live with our families again after this life and that death does not separate those bonds. He quickly responded again and said, "What made you say that?" It caught me off guard that this tough guy said that and looked up. I could tell that his eyes were getting a little bit watered...He then told us that we could come back another time to share a message. I still don't know if he had a recent death in the family or if someone close had died in the past. But I do know that God cares about each of his children and wants them to know of the love and the peace that the gospel of Jesus Christ brings.

We got into contact with Tyler this week. We will have to move his baptism to a different date, but we had a great lesson on temples and families. He is really starting to get it. The spirit has been working on him. I think that he has a sincere desire to know what God has in store for us. This gospel is a blessing and I am so thankful to have been born under the covenant of faithful parents. Thank you Mom and Dad.(: The church is true and Heavenly Father loves us and is in the details of each of our lives. Give thanks to Him for His generosity to us as His children. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Willden

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Family and Friends,

This week was awesome. Funny story to start off. So we hosted interviews with President Palmer this week and after they took Elder Stewart and I out to eat. We went to in-n-out burger and President was over waiting for the food and we were with Sister Palmer. And out of nowhere she told me about how our family sent her a Christmas card and she said, "I looked at it and all of them looked like MODELS...they looked like they came straight out of GQ!" I laughed so hard. Sister Palmer is just the greatest. I got to talk with President about boating too. He said him and his buddies used to go water skiing in Washington on Lake Chelan. (I think that's the lake he is talking about.) But he told us that he would barefoot and skii and they would get up to speeds of 85 miles an hour from whip out acceleration. That's nuts! It was funny. I also told him that if he wanted a good burger he needs to go to Culvers. He said that he has heard about it, but has not been yet.

Another funny story this week! We were on exchanges with the Turlock 1st Ward Elders and we decided to go down to Delhi. Well we got down there and started to knock some doors and there was a man on his front porch. We couldn't communicate with him that well because he spoke spanish and there was definitely a barrier there. Well...we gave him a Jesus card and then went on our way knocking. Well we finished up and started to head back to the car. This man we gave the card too was pretty old. I glanced back at his porch and he was in the front yard. I looked a bit closer and could see liquid streaming directly from his midsection to the lawn...lol...this man was peeing in his front yard. So casually you wouldn't even catch it unless you looked closely. I almost fell on the ground. Now that was a funny sight. I love the mission!

Oh we also had another dinner with Jake in the branch. He is the one that made us jackfruit tacos that one time. Well we got there and we were a little nervous to see if he was going to try and redeem himself with another vegan meal. He didn't. But when we arrived he told us that it would be better and that he was making snake! Hahah. I have heard that snake isn't bad, but I was still trippin' a little bit. When we sat down to eat Jake broke and told us it was chicken. So we had tomato curry and chicken. It was pretty good! I'm glad it wasn't snake.

Now for missionary work...sorry for the stories. We taught a potential, now investigator, named Luis this week. He is amazing. I had one of the best lessons of my mission with this 22 year old. We started talking to him and we could tell that he genuinely wanted to learn. We decided to teach the Plan of Salvation. As we were teaching he was interacting and asking questions that he had. We got halfway through and we were talking about Jesus Christ's Atonement for mankind and how it helps us to get back to our Father in Heaven. He told us that he has been looking for that extra help to get him through hard times. We asked if he wanted to know how he could get that help. He desperately answered telling us that he wanted to know. We opened to 2 Nephi 31 and read these verses:

5 And now, if the Lamb of God, he being holy, should have need to be baptized by water, to fulfil all righteousness, O then, how much more need have we, being unholy, to be baptized, yea, even by water!
6 And now, I would ask of you, my beloved brethren, wherein the Lamb of God did fulfil all righteousness in being baptized by water?
7 Know ye not that he was holy? But notwithstanding he being holy, he showeth unto the children of men that, according to the flesh he humbleth himself before the Father, and witnesseth unto the Father that he would be obedient unto him in keeping his commandments.
8 Wherefore, after he was baptized with water the Holy Ghost descended upon him in the form of a dove.
9 And again, it showeth unto the children of men the straitness of the path, and the narrowness of the gate, by which they should enter, he having set the example before them.
10 And he said unto the children of men: Follow thou me. Wherefore, my beloved brethren, can we follow Jesus save we shall be willing to keep the commandments of the Father?
11 And the Father said: Repent ye, repent ye, and be baptized in the name of my Beloved Son.

Right after we read these scriptures we asked him if he would follow the example of our Savior and be baptized...we explained that this is how he would find that extra help. He paused for a little bit and we could see that the spirit was working on him. He told us that he would be willing to do that. He further apologized that he paused for a minute...he said that he could feel something. He told us he felt that feeling when the missionaries talked to him on the side of the road and that he was feeling it again. We opened back up to 2 Nephi 31 and read:

12 And also, the voice of the Son came unto me, saying: He that is baptized in my name, to him will the Father give the Holy Ghost, like unto me; wherefore, follow me, and do the things which ye have seen me do.

We promised him that after he was baptized he would be able to feel that feeling all the time. We could see the gears turning in his head. It was amazing. We meet with him again next Friday. Please pray that he reads the Book of Mormon.

Some more good news is that our recent converts Josh and Juan are getting ready to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood in this upcoming Stake Conference I hope that they reach their goals. We are also working with a recent convert from Merced named Monte that is working on it too! I am so thankful for this opportunity to work with people who are my age. It is so amazing.

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

Elder Willden

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

December 26, 2017

Family and Friends,

I am having a very hard time of trying to figure out what to write because I just talked to you yesterday. We had a super good week this week. I told you about how there is a very big middle eastern influence here. Well on exchanges this week Elder Christensen and I were knocking doors in Ceres and we came across a man named Ashur. He is from Iraq and moved to Greece and now he is here the Cali. Well he told us he is from LA and said he had some Mormon friends. We got to talk to him for awhile and he gave us some dates, pastries, and orange juice. (by the way dates are pretty dang good...really rich though) Well he ended up telling me that he played basketball and that he could dunk it pretty good. It was a funny conversation he was telling me that I need to go play in the NBA. We shared a laugh. We were able to teach him about the Book of Mormon more in depth because he knew the bible and he knew some of the geography of what we were talking about. So we told him that a branch from the seed of Joseph left Jerusalem and came to the Americas then explained what the Book contained. He understood everything that we were talking about. It was so cool. Hopefully the missionaries in Ceres take care of him.

Another tracting experience I wanted to share was with a man named Hermes. He was too from the middle east. Somewhere... But we knocked on his door and said that he was Christian. We praised him for his belief in Christ and asked where he went to church at here in town. Every missionary would've loved to hear the response that we got. He said, "I don't go to church here in town because there are so many and I don't know which one is the true church." We got so excited! It was a great experience to give him a Book of Mormon and share with him that a boy in 1820 had that very same question. We explained that Joseph Smith got an answer from God and that he could too! It was wonderful. We will see what happens because we referred him to the Turlock family Elders. It should be good though!

So as I said in the skype video we were able to go out and tract on Christmas morning. I had an impression come to me as we were knocking and I knew it was from God. I thought about the Savior and His earthly ministry and a thought that just came to me now is even how he felt in the pre-existence as Lucifer and his followers were slandering His name in the war of words. I knew that that Christmas morning of having some people be a little warm, some slam their doors as they said merry Christmas, and some just blatantly slamming the door...was a time for me to ponder how the Savior felt during His mission so that I could appreciate Him more. And I do. It wasn't a typical sacred Christmas missionary experience, but it was definitely a sacred Christmas experience for me. I will never get to do that again. I keep pondering and pondering on it. I am thankful for everything that the Savior went through during His ministry and especially for what He did in Gethsemane. 

We were also able to do some very fun service last week at the Catholic church. What we did was packed up some boxes of food, presents..etc. And packed them in a truck to go to surrounding cities. It was great. I think we made it in the news there in Hughson. It isn't on the internet so don't go searching, but it was awesome!

Thanks for everything this Christmas season! I love you all and hope you have a great New Year as well!

Elder Willden


Christmas Eve with the Falke family after skyping home.

December 18, 2017

Family and Friends,

My birthday was awesome! Well...as awesome as it can get on a mission. I did get really scared when President was calling friday night. I thought Elder Stewart and I did something wrong..but he was just calling to wish me a happy birthday. We were able to go to in-n-out burger too so it was a great day! After our in-n-out these kids our age or just a little bit younger wanted to "talk about Jesus." It turned into them trying to preach to us and it went all bad from there. We shared the Restoration with them, but it didn't go anywhere. I will have to share a quote from them when I get back;)

So an update from last Monday... My basketball shoes and basketball were stolen. And what I did not realize also happened was my bike helmet and lights also got jacked. President Palmer is being very kind and letting me borrow a helmet and lights for the remainder of my mission. The helmet looks super awesome on me. Maybe you will get a picture in the next couple of weeks. We will see... We did a white elephant gift exchange at the YSA activity last Monday. It was super fun. I got a bobblehead baseball player from the MLB and some new soft socks. It was so awesome. 

Recently the college has been pretty sparse of people being there because it has been finals week. So we will have to wait a few weeks for things to start back up. We did find an investigator this week from finding on the college though. His name is Anthony. We were able to teach him yesterday. He is 24 years old and does not know if he believes in Jesus Christ. It is funny because I have had a few of these on my mission and we are working with two people right now who are struggling to believe in Christ. Anthony has not read the Bible before so it was cool to introduce that and the Book of Mormon to him. We taught him of the Restoration and invited him to read and pray. He accepted. He is going to his Mom's in the bay area and will not be back until January so hopefully he reads! Pray for him. The other investigator we picked up this week is named Christian. He does not know if Jesus is the Christ either! It has been a good experience to not only testify of the Restoration, but to get to the very center of our faith...Jesus Christ. Especially during the Christmas season. They both accepted invitations to read the Book of Mormon. We promised them both that as they read they will come to find out that Jesus Christ is our Savior and Redeemer.

Oh! I wanted to tell you all about a dinner I had this week. So it's the same members that had us for Thanksgiving. Their name is the Clarks. Brother Clark is from Louisiana. Well we got to his house on Saturday night and he had the whole works! Steak, shrimp, and chicken. I was in heaven. Let me tell ya I ate A LOT of shrimp lol. It was a super good dinner and we were able to share a message out of 2 Nephi 3. We talked about how Joseph in the old testament prophesied of Joseph Smith Jun. the prophet, seer, and revelator of this dispensation. It was awesome! They had a less-active family there so it went really good.

I have some good news! So Tyler our investigator that kind of dropped off for a little bit scheduled 2 appointments with us...one of them was just Elder Stewart because we were on an exchange. But we were able to resolve his concerns and he has a baptismal date set for January 6th! We hope so badly that he can get cleared and make that covenant. He is working on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We know if he puts in the effort he will gain that testimony! Please pray for him. His conversion process has been a roller-coaster ride.

Update on family history! So we are having a lot of indirect success through family history. I will tell you why it is indirect. We have had a lot of our prospective elders and recent converts come in to do family history. We even have an investigator that likes to do family history more than taking the lessons;) haha. But two individuals one being a prospective elder and the other a recent convert have come and found a lot of names for baptism. Well, both of their non-member mothers are interested and have created accounts. Sister Van Allen (Josh's non-member mom) and Monte's Mom (not a member) both want to come to the family history center! Josh's mom came last week and one of the consultants had a blast helping her! It was awesome.

I love the work and hope you all have a great week.

P.S. Preperation day will be next Tuesday. So I will skype on Monday and email on Tuesday. 

Elder Willden

December 11, 2017

Family and Friends,

This week was a good one! I have officially decided that I need to start losing some of this unnecessary missionary chub weight. So Elder Stewart and I are now going out every morning and running. I almost died the first morning let me tell ya. My lungs were on fire. Like I am very afraid for when I get back up to the Utah altitude I might pass out walking up a flight of stairs. I am over exaggerating, but seriously this SUCKS. haha. We have also decided to stop getting beverages every week. (Beverages or bevs is the soda that we buy at the store each week haha) So I am definitely starting to make better choices with the things I am eating. I even got wheat thins this week!

Something funny that happened this week...well two things that happened this week that were funny. We were doing weekly planning and at the end we wanted to call President Palmer to get some counsel from him so we call and we are talking to him...all is going good then at the end he ROASTED us because we forgot it was his date night and we called him about something that was not even close to an emergency. I felt so dumb. I thought my life was over. But hey I am still alive and President Palmer still loves us so it's all good. It just reminded me of how much we would call Mom and Dad over the stupidest things during their date night. So I am very sorry for that. I had to learn the hard way through a Mission President. lol. Another precious memory occurred this past week while we were tracting in Ceres. It was Saturday morning...and you already know on Saturday mornings the Jehovah's Witnesses are out. So I cracked some jokes and we started knocking. Well we came to a house and the man said he was a Jehovah's Witness. Then... his daughter came up and she was finishing her proselyting duties. And she offered us a Bible pamphlet. I was not about to take it so I said we believed in the KJV version of the Bible. They proceeded to show us scriptures that proved their religion right and all we did was bear testimony. They continued to try and bash us and we were just spittin game. Because you already know Joseph Smith was a prophet. But legit we were just testifying and they brought up the 144,000...I was frustrated at this point and just asked them how they could believe that. (It wasn't as bad as it sounds...). But we testified that God wants all of his children to live with him. Then we left. It was awesome. Not really, but I love the true Church of Jesus Christ.(: A testimony can never be compromised by someone else...unless you let it.

An update on Branden Green. So we had our lesson this week. It went okay. We were able to teach the Restoration and when we got to the part about Joseph Smith we decided to watch the Restoration video. Branden said it was interesting after we watched it and we invited him to read and to pray about the Book of Mormon. He agreed after some hesitancy. But we have a return appointment with him next week so that should be good. Juan Lopez joined us in the lesson and he did so good testifying and being there as a member. Juan is like the BEST recent convert haha. Always willing to come out with us...he is going to BYU Idaho as soon as he is able to and I think he will be serving a mission soon. I am so excited for him.

We were able to do family history with two people this week. One was a prospective elder and the other was a recent convert from Merced. Kyle, our prospective elder, told us that most of his work was done and there wasn't really anything to do. Well we hopped on and found 6 names right off the bat. He had so much stuff to do! It was crazy. So he will be working with us and he has been coming to church. Hopefully we can get him to the Temple. Monte, the recent convert, came and he had this whole pamphlet thing filled out with names. He walked out of the family history center with 7 names to take to the temple. I thought it was so cool and he could see how excited I was and he got excited. Monte is sick. He is one of those dudes that I would chill with after the mission. haha. He was talking to me and he asked how he could explain what he was doing to his family. I thought of something that would be super cool. I thought that maybe he could tell them that it satisfies his beliefs because he is taking them to the temple to be baptized and it is fair because they get to choose to accept it or not. So we will see how that goes. He has like 20 other names that he could do once there is more research done.

I was reading in 3 Nephi 26 and a few impressions came to me as I read. One of the questions I had was: How long was Jesus in the Americas? And how many things did he teach them that we don't have? If you look at some of the verses it makes you wonder. For example verse 13: "Therefore, I would that ye should behold that the Lord truly did teach the people, for the space of three days; and after that he did show himself unto them oft, and did break bread oft, and bless it, and give it unto them."  So he visited them "oft." I thought that was interesting. And in verse 6 Mormon says, "And now there cannot be written in this book even a hundredth part of the things which Jesus did truly teach unto the people;" He goes on to say:

 9 And when they shall have received this, which is expedient that they should have first, to try their faith, and if it shall so be that they shall believe these things then shall the greater things be made manifest unto them.
10 And if it so be that they will not believe these things, then shall the greater things be withheld from them, unto their condemnation.
11 Behold, I was about to write them, all which were engraven upon the plates of Nephi, but the Lord forbade it, saying: I will try the faith of my people.

We need to cherish the scriptures and then the Lord will give us more. I cannot wait for the day when we have all of the teachings that Jesus Christ gave to the Nephites. This chapter of scripture really made me think.

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

Elder Willden

Monday, December 4, 2017

Family and Friends,

I hope I can write a good letter this week. I forgot to write down things from my journal again so this could be a little rough. Monday night last week was super funny. We were at the branch's FHE and it was game night. Like board games, card games...etc. Well we had two of our recent converts there and our autistic member, Tyler had created this super complex game called Questopia. It was OFF THE CHAIN. Juan, our recent convert, decided to play with him. It was the funniest thing to watch. I went over and asked Juan how it was going and he said it was super complex and detailed. He then went on to tell me that his "weapon of choice" was a spiked war-club. lol. Chase would enjoy this game because he is a rat. Well about 15 minutes went by and then all of the sudden while it was Juans turn Tyler yelled, "LIVE ACTION FIGHT!!!!!" And he went over to Juan and put an imaginary hat on him and gave him his spiked war club and started to fight him. Juan was a good sport and went along with it...but I almost fell on the ground laughing. Had to be there...

We had mission leadership council this week. It was super good. We counselled about a talk that was given by Elder Rasband in this last conference. It is called, "Divine Design." It reminded me of his talk he gave the conference before about recognizing the spirit. I thought that it was significant that he talked about feeling the spirit and then recognizing that there are no coincidences with God. I learned a lot about how I can help the people around me and also our stewardship. I am lucky to also have a companion that knows how to love everyone because that is something I struggle with. So I feel like I am making improvements.

We went on exchanges with the assistants this week! It was super fun...pics will be coming soon. I got my fushigi on! It was definitely a rat fest. But nah it was a super good day. I was with Elder Cook. We were able to teach a couple lessons and it was super good. We shared Light the World with a lot of people. Elder Stewart threw his back out the night of our exchange because he whipped to hard. Elder Stewart and I dance a lot and it is super sick. I would take videos...but that is something that you need to miss for a couple years. Then it will be legendary when I come back.

This week was pretty busy with appointments...some of them fell through, but we were able to pick up a new investigator. Her name is Joyce. She is golden! We taught her the Restoration and really focused on Priesthood authority and how important it is. We brought both of our recent converts to the lessons we had with her. It was so nice to have them there to relate their experiences to her. They told he about how the gospel has blessed their lives. We invited her to read the Book of Mormon and she said she would. It was super cool when we extended the invitation for her to be baptized. She told us that she really wanted to after she knows this is true. She expressed how she felt her baptism when she was a baby did not mean much to her. We were able to explain that any question that she has can be answered by the Book of Mormon. Including if infant baptisms are right. She was excited to start.

I have a really cool family history experience to relate. We have a non-member that is strictly coming the the family history center to do family research. Well Elder Stewart and I had both had the impression that we needed to pop the question this week and see if he wanted to learn more about the gospel. This is the first time we have ever found someone through family history so it was nerve racking. We invited Juan Lopez to come with us and he was so willing. I was helping Juan with his family history and Elder Stewart was helping Branden (the non-member). After about 45 minutes I could hear Elder Stewart starting to bring up the gospel and I was thinkin' it was about to go down. Branden told us he wanted to become a youth pastor. He is an interesting guy, but we extended an invitation for him to take the lessons. (This conversation went for awhile...we basically taught the whole Restoration without teaching it...). When we extended the invitation I turned around because I could feel the spirit and I saw Juan praying fervently. He had a tear running down his cheek. I turned back to Branden and I could see the spirit working on him. Branden then told us he wanted us to meet one of his friends and that he would take the lessons. He wanted to see if his friend wanted to take the lessons too, because his friend is very family oriented too. It was a MIRACLE. Family history is doin' work!

I am absolutely loving my mission! The time is flying and I feel very nervous, but I know the Lord will continue to be there for me. For my spiritual thought this week is a scripture from 3 Nephi I never realized was in there. When Jesus was with the Nephites he asked them if they had written down if the prophesies of Samuel the Lamanite had come to pass. They told him that the prophesies came to pass, but they did not write it down. Well....Jesus rebuked Nephi and told him to write it down. Here is the reference:

6 And now it came to pass that when Jesus had said these words he said unto them again, after he had expounded all the scriptures unto them which they had received, he said unto them: Behold, other scriptures I would that ye should write, that ye have not.
7 And it came to pass that he said unto Nephi: Bring forth the record which ye have kept.
8 And when Nephi had brought forth the records, and laid them before him, he cast his eyes upon them and said:
9 Verily I say unto you, I commanded my servant Samuel, the Lamanite, that he should testify unto this people, that at the day that the Father should glorify his name in me that there were many saints who should arise from the dead, and should appear unto many, and should minister unto them. And he said unto them: Was it not so?
10 And his disciples answered him and said: Yea, Lord, Samuel did prophesy according to thy words, and they were all fulfilled.
11 And Jesus said unto them: How be it that ye have not written this thing, that many saints did arise and appear unto many and did minister unto them?
12 And it came to pass that Nephi remembered that this thing had not been written.
13 And it came to pass that Jesus commanded that it should be written; therefore it was written according as he commanded. (3 Nephi 23:6-13)

I know that the Lord would have us write the miracles that go on around us. Even the small ones. This was a good refresher for me and reminded me to keep on keeping a good journal. As the Nephites we need to keep good records for those who come after us. I love looking back on old things that I write too because I am able to learn from my mistakes and my success.

I love you all have a great week!

Elder Willden

Cover photo for my fushigi tutorial.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Family and Friends,

I had a great week this week...I was a little bit sick this week, but it ended up being a really good one! On Tuesday we hosted interviews with President Palmer. Afterwards he asked what are plans were that night and Elder Stewart and I had overbooked ourselves so President decided to come out with me to one of our appointments and Elder Stewart went out with our Branch President. I was a little nervous teaching without a companion and having our mission president with me, but it went super well. We had a lesson with our recent convert Josh Nardini. We taught him about obedience and serving in the church. It was actually super good that President was there because he helped Josh feel really good about what he was doing. I was also able to get information about my recent convert Andi...President said that he saw her a week before that and said she was doing super well! I can't wait until next May when she is eligible to go through the temple!

We have really been trying to implement family history into our proselyting efforts. It has been slow, but it always surprises people when we bring it up. A lot of people aren't interested in it, but even if they have little interest it is always good because the Spirit of Elijah works like that. They will get hooked lol. I have been taking my pedigree chart out and showing it to people and they think it is really cool. We have a lot of family history appointments this upcoming week. So we are going to keep going with it and see what happens. I have noticed that with a lot of the perspective elders we are working with, family history seems to catch their eye. And in due time they will want to go to the temple and get these deceased family members' work done. It is awesome how the Lord works. Family is so important to His eternal plan.

Light The World came out this week! It is a great opportunity to do missionary work. And it Utah I would definitely recommend to do social media missionary work. Go to mormon.org and share the video! Imagine if every member of the church shared the video! How many people do you think would see it? Do not make an excuse like..."oh someone else will share it..." I am inviting all of you within the circle that this letter hits to go online and share the light the world video on any social media account that you have. It is a wonderful way to share the Christmas spirit and to show people that Jesus Christ is so important. We can be His light to the world!

We picked up a new investigator just yesterday named Joyce! We have another appointment with her tonight so pray that it goes well! Juan Lopez, our recent convert came with us to the appointment last night and he did so good! In our last lesson with Juan he expressed that he wants to go on a mission. Halfway through the lesson we did a question and answer on what a mission is like. He said that the biggest reason he would want to serve is to be a good example to his children we he is older. Before he shared that I had talked about how my Dad was such a good example to me by serving a mission and ever since I was little I wanted to serve because of that. I was so happy to hear about Juan's desire. Elder Stewart also shared a powerful testimony about why he served and it just brought the spirit there. Juan will be such a good missionary if he goes next October!

I showed up to church yesterday and they assigned me to speak I didn't have any time to prepare, but I gave a talk on the plan of salvation. I told a story from my childhood that went like this:

 When I was little my father bought a boat so that we could make more family memories and become closer. I was so happy when we got this boat, but when we finally started taking it out none of my siblings including me wanted to do anything... For me it was a little bit more extreme; I would not even get into the water. I thought that there were sharks in the fresh water lakes...I recall a time that we were out on the lake and I was feeling very brave. I had convinced myself that I could get in the water and then get right out. Well I started my descent into the water and fear overcame my body. I was hanging off of the edge of the boat only holding on the the dock handles of the boat. I was eight years old and did not have the strength to pull myself back into the boat. I was embarrassed, scared, and felt like I was going to fall into the water. In my eight year old mind I could picture the sharks underneath me that were just waiting for me to fall. To make things worse I could hear my Dad telling everyone that we were going to start the boat and head off. As I was hanging there I could remember that I did not want to call out for help because I was going to be embarrassed...but I was also very scared and almost in a shocked stupor. When finally I heard what I wanted to hear. My Dad asked, "Where is Kolton?" I timidly spoke out and said I was hanging off the boat. Although, I think that my Dad knew I was there. After my Dad had heard me call out he saved me from my biggest fear and in my eight year old mind a very real struggle and trial. My Dad grabbed me and lifted me up back into the boat with my family. I felt safe and comforted despite the mocking I got from my family. I was so thankful my Dad had the strength to help me get back into the boat.

I told this story to represent the effects that we have from the fall of Adam. Obviously there were no sharks in the water, but for effect I have kept them in the story. Due to bad decisions we make in life we can find ourselves hanging on the side of the "boat" helplessly because we do not have the strength to get back in. We can also be hesitant to call out for help because of the embarrassment that we feel from putting ourselves in these situations. We need to remember that we can all find ourselves in these situations, dangling helplessly looking down at the worldly sharks that can destroy our souls. But we need to remember that like my Dad in the story we have a Savior. Jesus Christ can help us as we struggle through personal trials. He will not come to our aid without us seeking for His help. He has the strength because of the Atonement to help us back into the "boat." "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." (1 Cor. 15:22)

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

Elder Willden

Monday, November 20, 2017

Family and Friends,

This week was pretty awesome except my throat has started to flare up because of the cold weather. My new glasses came too and I think they are super sick! Thanks Mom. And Corie for doing the shopping for me. I also very much appreciated the letters that came this week. I don't know about other missionaries, but the hand written letters is what I like most when I get them. They are the best!

I have been thinking about our mission vision a lot lately..."We are one with the Savior in doing the will of the Father." I have found this to be very profound. It is such a simple and sublime phrase, but if you dig into it you can never hit the bottom. A lot of scriptures from the Book of Mormon and trace back to this phrase...a lot of what we do here in life traces back to this phrase. President Palmer did not come up with this by himself. He held a mission council on what the vision would be and this is what came of it. It also is not just a mission long vision it a life-long commitment. Sometimes when the mission is hard and I feel tempted to just take a break I don't necessarily just think of the mission vision, but I feel that it has been ingrained into my very being. We cannot just dive into being perfect...and none of us will attain that status in this life. But we can TRY...we can STRIVE. I recently studied the hymn, "More Holiness Give Me." Every phrase in that hymn I attached to a scripture from the Book of Mormon. We can always try to get better in the little things....Until we truly can become, "More, Savior, like thee." 

We had a special training this week that is going on here in the northwest area of the church. I really liked the re-emphasis on the rescuing of Melchizedek Priesthood holders. 50% of them are less-active in this area of the church. These are men that have served missions...have served in bishoprics... It was cool how Elder Rasband and Elder Ballard chose the parable of the prodigal son to teach this principle. As I have studied this I realized that we have all strayed from home at one point in our life and it is our duty to help those that have. No matter how far they have gone away. We can also be in the position of the jealous brother...why be jealous? God loves each of his children perfectly. We should rejoice when someone fixes the things in their life that have been contrary to his will. I cannot wait to go out with the Branch President to rescue these Brothers.

We found a new investigator this week! His name is Vini. He is just graduating high school and we are super excited to teach him. We taught him a very quick Restoration lesson and committed him to read the Book of Mormon. It was awesome when he told us that he would have a lot of questions next time we came back. That is how you know when someone is interested. We are very short on investigators right now. We hope to find some more in the coming weeks. Tyler, unfortunately, has kind of drifted off and we have not had any contact with him in awhile.

Please keep praying that someone from our pool of potentials or someone that we find will be ready to hear the gospel. Thanks for your prayers and support I love you all.

Elder Willden