Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Hello everyone!

I had a very good week this week! Being on bikes a lot more has really been hard because it is so hot out here, but that's what missionary work is about right? I was very happy yesterday as I finished the Book of Mormon! As a missionary I have been able to focus a lot more on the little things in the BoM. There are so many examples for missionary work in the BoM. One of the missionaries I look up to a lot is Abinadi. He was a spiritual giant! I will always remember his story because of the way he stood up to them when they told him he was going to die if he did not deny the word of God.

Simi was baptized on Saturday so that was really cool. It was one of those moments I will never forget because of how spiritual it was. Elder Lamm and I were able to be witnesses for the ordinance and then we were able to be in the confirmation circle. Simione Sr. gave a wonderful blessing and you could really tell he cared about his son. Something I really like about President Palmer is he does his best to come to every convert baptism. Him being there really brought the spirit. This shows people that the church really cares about their converts.

I went on exchanges with our zone leader earlier this week so I was not able to see Brett and Alejandra. I am going to talk about my experience from the exchange though. The Elder I was with is named Elder Jeong. He is from Bountiful, UT. He is a very good, obedient Elder. So I really enjoyed my exchange with him. I was able to see some things that I can implement into the Weston Ward. I counseled with Elder Lamm and we were able to change some things organization wise that I think can really help our area. I was able to meet some weird people from Stockton while I was on this exchange. I was also able to eat at this Hawaiian BBQ place. Wow it was so good. If you ever can try chicken katsu, try it you won't regret it.

Vierra is doing really well. She needs your prayers though. She does not understand the importance of going to church. So we are really trying to emphasize that to her. Every time we are over there she gives us so much food and good candy. She is the nicest lady.

My spiritual thought this week is my favorite scripture in the Book of Mormon. It is on my plaque and it really has had an impact on my life forever. It is 2 Nephi 4:35. Background of this scripture: Nephi is telling God that he is sorry for his wrong doings. He then goes on to pledge his life to the work. In the verse I chose he tells God he will forever lift his voice to God's. I invite you to read 2 Nephi 4 and apply it to your life. We all sin, even Nephi the man that is a hero in so many eyes of the Church. I love this whole chapter though.

If you are struggling...keep fighting. God loves you and he knows your efforts in keeping his commandments. I love this gospel and I am so glad I am able to serve in this capacity. I love being a missionary.

I love my family! I will miss all the candy for General Conference! 

Elder Willden

This is Simi Jr. and Simi Sr.

Simi plays football and is really shy. We had a really good time at his baptism and felt the spirit so strongly. 

Monday, September 19, 2016

Family and friends,

I finally feel like I am getting with the program out here in California. As a missionaries we often get stressed out because we feel like we are not doing enough. I have fell victim to this discouragement we bring upon ourselves, but as I thought about it this week it got better. I thought to myself, if we are honestly doing our best the rest will fall into place. Also just a side note, I miss my family so so much. They have helped me through my life the whole way, it is weird not having anyone to bug 24/7. haha  If I did that to my companion, there would be a lot of issues. So, when I get home watch out... 2 years of built up energy is coming right at ya.

I got the package you sent me Mom! It really was a lift to my spirit, but I feel like I am getting too many lifts in my lbs. hahah. 30 minutes is not long enough workouts for the amount of junk food we get here. When I left on the mission I was 170 pounds... 3 months later I am 190. I might regret putting this in my report for everyone to see, but I just want you to know how missionaries feel. Because we cannot do anything about it! haha. We can work out and work out, but the members are always giving us food and it is too hard to say no;).

Simi's baptism is this Saturday! We are so excited for him and his decision. His Mom is so happy for him and got all of the plans submitted to us yesterday. His Dad will be baptizing him while Elder Lamm and I are being witnesses. He will then be confirmed as a member of the Church and will receive the Gift of The Holy Ghost. I am so happy for him. As much as we are told no and as much as people flip us off and yell at us; it is so worth seeing someone make the choice to be baptized.

Elder Lamm and I have really been focusing on Vierra Turner. We extended a baptismal date to her and she is thinking about it right now. We set it at October 15. You know what that means!! Please send prayers her way. She is such a good lady. To tell you a little bit about her, she is from Germany. When she was growing up she had to go through the WWII bombings and everything like that. So her childhood had some really scary times. We really want her to be baptized because as missionaries we can see her potential and she has a lot of it! 

Brett and Alejandra are doing great! Whenever we go over there she gives us either these little jello packet things or these juice boxes haha. And then she sends a picture to Mom and tells her I am getting fat. She and Brett are my favorite haha. They both love Star Wars so I have a blast when I am there. They were not able to attend church yesterday because they had a friend get in a car crash. They are coming next week though. We really hope they get married soon. Alejandra wants Brett to ask her to marry him, but it is so so complicated. We are excited to see what happens. I absolutely love this family!

This week Elder Lamm and I got to get some service in at a house a former investigator is fixing up. It was so so fun. We got to sand cabinets and (dad will really like this one) prune his yard hahah. We hauled a lot of wood off. But we got to use a saws all. This house was so cool. It was pretty dang big and it had a little community pond in their backyard. I loved the house. But once again, I will say that California is not a place I will ever live in.

We have been getting so many referrals, but one that sticks out to me the most is this guy named Abraham that we saw yesterday. He has been prepared to receive the message. We are teaching him tomorrow and hope that it goes really good. We talked to him for like thirty minutes about some of our beliefs and doctrines. 

Spiritual experience for this week is not a scripture, but just a thought. As I have progressed in my mission some of the things that President Palmer has set in place here is really making sense to me. One of the things we really focus on here is preaching by the way. This is something I now think is really cool. We are on our bikes all day. All day. We do not have a lot of miles on our car. But I like it now. Elder Lamm and I got in trouble because we went over on miles. (not my fault) lol. Elder Lamm thought we had 1250 miles, but we only had 700. So now we are on our bikes a lot more. It has really been a testimony builder for me because we have been preaching by the way a lot more. What this entails is talking to everyone we see while we are on our bicycles. It is hard, but worth it. I literally hit my pillow at night and pass out. It is so nice. As I keep moving forward preaching by the way the Lord is putting me and my companion in places where we are supposed to be. I have a testimony that missionaries really are set apart as ministers of the gospel. I am so thankful to be out here.

I love my family and miss them everyday.

Elder Willden

In front of the delta in Downtown Stockton.

Sanding cabinets at a service project.

Elder Lamm took this one haha.

I don't know.

We had bane masks for the sawdust and fungis that were in the air.

The next few are for DAD;)

I don't know.  Just my feet.....

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Another great week!

Did it feel like this past week was in fast forward to anyone else? Well we have been having a lot of problems with cockroaches in our apartment and so we had to go talk to our complex management. It was so fun... haha and it was also fun going home every evening, turning the lights on and having cockroaches scatter everywhere. We are in the process of removing them from our apartment.

I woke up Thursday morning and had a sty in my eye... haha. It was so irritating and I felt like it was the worst sty I had ever had. Well, when I woke up Friday morning my eye was swollen shut and had some weird fluids around it. Come to find out I had pink eye. I was lucky enough that it was caused from allergies though because it went away very quickly. I will send pictures of the development because I thought it was just a sty so I took a picture, but then the next day it was huge so I took another!

Soo... We had something very disappointing happen this week. Shawna sent us a text explaining that she had counseled with her kids and they decided to join a baptist church. This was devastating. As we were thinking about what to say to her it kind of just went to the back of our mind. Luckily we got to see President Palmer this week and ask him about the situation. He said something that changed my perspective on it. He said to send her a text and tell her that when she has questions to contact us and we will answer any questions or concerns she might have. He then went on to explain that since she attended an LDS sacrament meeting and felt the spirit that was there; she will have questions about why it feels different in the baptist church. So I will keep you guys updated on that.

Brett and Alejandra are progressing! Thank you so much for the prayers they have definitely been a blessing. They had not been to church in awhile, but we invited them again and they showed up. Brett is the investigator and he is actually very spiritually smart! He had a lot of good insights, even one that really changed my perspective on Enos. We were teaching the gospel principles class on Sunday on Charity. It brought Enos up at the end and how he was first praying for himself to be cleansed of sin and wrong doing and then he prayed for the Nephites, his brethren, and then he prayed for the Lamanites, his peoples enemy. This was a good example of charity because he prayed for people that the Nephites did not necessarily like. This is what Brett commented: He said that Enos prayed for his sins first because without cleansing himself first he could not have perfect charity to pray for the Nephites or the Lamanites. This was very cool because I read a scripture this week that backed this up very well. In Alma 60:23-24 (Go read it). It talks about cleansing our inner vessel before we can cleanse the outer vessel. I really thought that that scripture connected with the story of Enos and what Brett said. They committed to come to church next week. And Alejandra replaced her tea with plain water. This is making me so happy because they are a great family and deserve the best.

We have another investigator I failed to tell you guys about last week. (I think). Her name is Vierra Turner. She is the nicest lady I have ever met. She has a son named Steven that is a recent convert and that family has been through a lot, but they are very blessed. Vierra was going to meet with us and the Bishop to have dinner this past week, but it did not work out because Vierra was having health problems. Pray for her and her health as she continues to meet with us.

Simi Pomana is doing great and will be my very first baptism! We got to go talk to him yesterday and he is super excited to get baptized. His Dad who is also named Simi keeps me updated on BYU football. Ha. I heard about the loss this weekend and I am very disappointed, but not surprised. I really hope BYU turns it around. (I say that every year). Keep little Simi in your prayers as he continues to make good decisions in his life. As we were at their house the other night I was able to share the scripture Helaman 5:12. He is starting his foundation and it needs to be built upon The Savior.

My spiritual thought this week is actually from Helaman 5:12. I did not hear about this chapter a lot growing up. As you read what I talk about I invite every one to go read this chapter. It was such a cool thing to read about. Helaman was talking to Nephi and Lehi (his sons) about what they needed to do in their lives and they went out and did it. Not only did they leave and go spread the gospel, but like the Sons of Mosiah they brought many to the fold. It says in this chapter they brought 8000 souls to the fold. That is a lot of people. After this they had, like many prophets before them, been thrown into prison. This story is so cool because they had an experience like Alma, Amulek, Shadrac, Meshac, and Abidnigo, and Abinadi all at once. While they were there they were literally in a pillar of fire, as their faces shone like unto Abinadi's, and as that was happening the prison was quaking. And as this was happening many Lamanites witnessed what had happened and were converted to the gospel. To be exact the number of Lamanites were 300. And they went out straightway and preached the gospel. What a cool story. I hope it effects your life as much as it helped me.

I love each and everyone of my family members and hope they have a very good week.

I love the work so much.  Love,
Elder Willden 

Found this on the ground in South Stockton, so why not?

I made this stuff I call, Frijole Carne con Queso. So good!
(mom says:  he can make nachos, shocker!

 Day 1 of pink eye.

Day 2 of pink eye.

This hat was in our apartment lol.

This was the day my pink eye was bad.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hello friends and family,

What a great time to be serving The Lord!

Elder Lamm and I had a very good week. We are starting to see the desire that the Weston Ward has in bringing it's members back. Oh how the Lord loves his children. We have a few progressing investigators and we are excited to bring some new faces into the Weston Ward and Stockton Stake.

The investigator we are working very hard on is Shawna Richardson. She is a very good lady. We went to her home over the week, but could not get in to give a lesson because we could not get any members to come with us. She was out of town this last Sunday so she could not come to church, but she told us without us asking that she was going to come to church this upcoming Sunday. It has been such a spiritual experience to watch her growth and how her desire to know if this is true is working. Please pray for her and her kids Aiden and Gavin as they are preparing to make some decisions that will give them salvation.

I do not know if I told you all about Simi Pomana last week. He will be getting baptized on the 24th of September. We had to push it forward a week because of his football schedule. This kid is 9 years old and has a pure desire to get baptized. We taught him the 10 commandments, Word of Wisdom, and the Law of Chastity. He learned all three very well. I am not gonna lie the 10 commandments were very hard for me to memorize this past week. haha. But Simi has good parents that want the best for their children and they are very excited for their son to be baptized. I am so very blessed to have touched this boy's life and I am thankful for the opportunity to be serving where I am serving.

We have a part member family that we have been working really really hard on. Their names are Brett, Alejandra, and John Luke (their son). They are not married at the moment. Alejandra has been divorced and it has led to commitment issues. She is the only member in their family. Elder Lamm told me that Brett is willing to be baptized and go through the process he needs to go through to go to the Temple and be sealed with Alejandra. He has great faith. haha. They are one of my favorite families I have ever met. One of those moments where I thought to myself that this is one of the families I was supposed to see on my mission. It is very humbling to have those kind of experiences. Elder Lamm says they have not been open to anything until recently. Alejandra has been open to hear the lessons. And I think she wants to get married. She has not told us that, but we think that is what's going on. We will be eating dinner with them tonight and we are trying to set up a family home evening with our ward mission leader Brother Roberts. I love Brother Roberts haha.

The spiritual thought this week is based off of my studies in the Book of Mormon (again).;) I absolutely love the record of the sons of Mosiah. In Alma 26 after all of their labors with the Lamanites they returned and Ammon started talking about their experiences. He talked about how they had brought many unto the fold and if they would not have gone to the Lamanites many would've perished. After a little bit of this Aaron, Ammons brother, rebuked him. He said that Ammon was boasting in himself and being prideful. But, Ammon then said in verses 11-12, "I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever." I really liked this because as missionaries we do things that we could never do by ourselves. It is easy to become prideful and think that we are doing all the work. But to think of how long the Lord has been preparing people in the world. It is a blessing for us to be that "instrument" in God's hands. I absolutely love the work and the experiences I have been having. Stockton is so great.

Tell the fam I love and miss them all and look forward to seeing them at Christmas!! The time here flies so fast.
Elder Willden

I did not take any pictures this week so I took this after I gave myself a haircut.

Haha I imitated Chase this week hahah.

We made a golf hole we can putt into.

This is what I eat everyday hahah.

This is my Zone!