Wednesday, August 16, 2017

August 14, 2017

Family and Friends,

It was a very good week this week! The YSA branch is so fun to be in. Last week there was a karaoke night for FHE and let me tell you it was so funny. Basically members got up in front of everyone and sang some oldies songs. Tyler, one of our members, sang two songs and one of them was a backstreet boys song. Tyler is so awesome.

I think I am now immune to rejection and probably tick people off a lot. Everyone back home knows that I can push buttons...well me and another Elder were on exchanges this week and we were knocking doors. We got about halfway through the area that we were working on and this man answered his door. He stared at us momentarily and I asked him how he was doing. He replied, "Well I am not happy at all to see you!" And usually people just slam their door or something, but he kept it open. So I gave him a big old grin and said with the most enthusiastic (maybe a little sarcastic) tone, "And why is that??" Then we made some gnarly eye contact for a minute and I could kind of just feel the fumes coming off of this man; so I just kept smiling just to see what he would say. He said a few things but then clearly stated, "Just don't even try." And then....he slammed his door. I slipped him a little Jesus card in the door so that when he opens up again he can be reminded that we tried to share the good word with him, but he didn't want to hear it... Californians are so awesome(: I hope that he didn't notice my sarcasm and just took it as we were very happy. Maybe he will realize in the spirit world that his hostility was in vain. He probably needed a hug...

In our efforts this week to find new investigators we found 2 more new investigators named Juan and Arturo. Juan's Dad and Sister are baptized members of the church and he has seen the positive effects of the church in their lives and he wants to learn more. We are excited to teach him and to get to know him. Arturo is a college student that is fairly busy, but he wants to know the purpose of being here. It is going to be great teaching them. Our hardest bump in the road right now is getting investigators to church. Especially YSA members. They are so busy and it can seem like there are better things to do on Sunday so please pray that we can teach the Sabbath Day to these people and have them feel the spirit. We have seen so much success over the past couple months. We now have 9 investigators...2 months ago we had 1. So it has been a growth process and our branch is really seeing that we are working hard and trying to find those who are prepared. It has been a good experience for me!

Update on Brandon. Hopefully he will be getting baptized on Sunday. He might be moving the day after so if that happens we cannot baptize him here. So we are crossing our fingers and hope he stays in the Turlock area. We have taught him pretty much all of the lessons and we have everything in order for his baptism so please pray for that!

My spiritual thought is going to have two parts today. The first part I was studying in D&C 93 this last week it gives a great definition of truth in verse 24, "And truth is knowledge of things as they are, and as they were, and as they are to come;" Well this section is super interesting and I think all of you would benefit from substituting the definition of truth for every time it says truth in that section. And I have gone as far as to substitute it even in the Book of Mormon and it makes so much sense. All that Satan does is try to distort truth...every temptation we have leads to him clouding a truth. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. I just thought this was amazing. So try it! Also we had a dinner appointment and I was able to share the message. I decided to do a scripture in 4 Nephi 1:5 and it reads:

5 And there were great and marvelous works wrought by the disciples of Jesus, insomuch that they did heal the sick, and raise the dead, and cause the lame to walk, and the blind to receive their sight, and the deaf to hear; and all manner of miracles did they work among the children of men; and in nothing did they work miracles save it were in the name of Jesus.

I will try to share what I did in the dinner. President Palmer shared this scripture with us several months ago and talked about how miracles can only be done in the name of Jesus Christ. What I got from this is that we need to have faith in Jesus Christ before we can do anything to further the work. It is the first principle to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If you correlate faith with miracles the bible dictionary talks about how faith cannot be based upon miracles, but because of miracles we can have our faith confirmed (see BD Faith). I thought about that and as I thought it came to me that as we strive to recognize miracles in our lives...even the small ones it can confirm our faith and we will have even more of a desire to come closer to Him that provides them. It takes faith to look for God's hand in our lives. So I invite you to look for little miracles in your life. Always seek Him. (Ether 12:41)

The last thought I wanted to share was an experience that we had the night we shared that message. We decided to street contact at 8:45...not a very good thing to do in the Central Valley. Haha. But we went out and we were not finding anyone. Well we were walking back to our apartment and ran into a guy named Nanif. He is friends with several of the members of our branch. We taught him the Restoration briefly and gave him a Book of Mormon. It was a great experience. Hopefully he will feel the spirit and accept the divinity of the Book.

I love this work! Have a great week everyone!

Elder Willden

Elder Freitas and us...Leaves tomorrow for the mission

Elder Robison took this I don't know when?

At one of our lessons with Brandon

Sick glasses I found at the church


Monday, August 7, 2017


Family and Friends,

This week was very good! Besides the fact that I got pink eye again. Which was really weird because it was the same eye and the same time of the year that it happened last year. We were shut in the apartment all day last Wednesday. It was not good. But we definitely deep clean our apartment and I got to read pretty much the whole book called "Our Heritage." It is a book that reviews briefly the Church's history all the way up until today. It was really good. I got to learn more about a fraction of some of the sacrifices made to bring the Gospel forth in this dispensation. It was really amazing.

Something really cool that happened this week is that Marcus, one of the members in our branch, invited us over to dinner last Tuesday. Well his Mom is a Willden! So I got to talk to her a little bit about our history and things like that. I have never met anyone outside our immediate family named Willden so it was a great experience for me. Also yesterday Elder Robison and I were able to attend Stake Coordination Meeting. Which was presided over by President Willden. I mentioned this to Mom and Dad, but he reminded me so much of Grandpa. It was weird. It was a very awesome experience to have though. Thinking about it I realized that I was able to ponder on the sacrifice that was made by Charles and Eleanor Willden as they were our Pioneers. The sacrifices they made allowed me to be in that room with a common descendant that is serving now as a faithful Stake President. It was a very spiritual experience for me.

In our recent efforts to follow our Mission Presidents counsel to seek more finding opportunities, Elder Robison and I found 3 new investigators this week. 2 of which are very solid. Valerie, Alexis, and Josh. Valerie came to church and expressed that she was very uncomfortable, so we are going to have to work through that and get the branch on board to fellowship and to do whatever we can to make her feel comfortable. Alexis on the other hand did not come to church, but we had a wonderful lesson with her last Monday. We had a member there with us and she expressed her want to be baptized into the church. So we will continue to teach her and to help her gain that solid witness. Her story is kind of cool. She was investigating back 3 years ago and her step-father would not allow her Mom to sign off on letting her be baptized. She was forgotten. And we got a referral from some other Elders to see her and now she is getting ready to make that covenant again, but now she gets to decide on her own. Last, but not least Josh is the boyfriend of one of our members. He has been coming to church for 4-5 weeks now and has been really confused so we offered to teach him. He accepted our offer and we taught him yesterday the Restoration of the Gospel. He has no background of religion at all and the only thing he could say he knows is that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He was gnostic before he came to church. Well after our lesson with him we asked if he would want to follow the example of Christ and be baptized. He said yes! He has already read the beginning of the Book of Mormon so we will keep working with him, but we are very excited.

We had a lesson with Brandon this week and it went very well. We needed to explain to him that we are never going to have a perfect knowledge. He seems so enthusiastic when we meet with him and then he does not do anything about it. He did not show up to church. I can tell he wants to be baptized, but he is going to have to start coming to church so please pray for him. We also were able to have a lesson with Jonathan this week. We taught the Plan of Salvation. Jonathan is a really smart kid. He was asking us a ton of questions and by the spirit we were able to answer them. We told him how important it was to follow our Savior and he recognizes that. He is truly seeking an answer from God whether or not to join the church. We asked if he would be willing to be baptized. He said that he had already been baptized Catholic. It was cool to explain to him the authority that our Church holds in these latter-days. I know that he was feeling the spirit. We gave him Mosiah 18 to read and he committed to pray about baptism. It was a good experience.

I love the work!

Elder Willden


I had a very good week this week. I met President Willden. It was so cool. I told Dad this, but he looks like Grandpa and is just a lot more mellow haha. It is cool that I have met these great people. I really like the kid in the branch that we are related to. He is leaving on his mission soon.

I hope you had a very good Birthday! I did not have a good day that day because I woke up with pink eye....AGAIN. Haha. Sister Palmer put us on quarantine for the day so we were stuck inside. So I read about the early history of the Church and cleaned the apartment. haha

Sounds like a lot of good is going on back home. I love it out here. Thanks so much for the pictures. That baptism day one is pretty cool. It made me think of that day. I told Papa I wasn't going to wear a white shirt to my baptism and I can't remember what he said, but I remember that he told me something really encouraging and after that I had the desire to put the white shirt on. I think he might of told me how important it was to show God we love him or something like that. I remember that because of the Spirit I felt from him.(:

Elder Willden

Animal friends while tracting

Mom received these pictures through text after a dinner appointment with President Willden's
daughter, Sister Kim Centeno and family, on August 1, last Tuesday.

Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017
Family and Friends,

This week has definitely been a good one! Last Monday evening we joined the YSA for their FHE. We were playing dodgeball. Well right before we were about to leave I was just going hard chucking the dodgeballs as hard as I could and then all of the sudden everyone stopped. I turned around a Elder Robison had gotten nailed in the face...hahah. He was dying. It turned out later in the week we had to go to the eye doctor. His eye is fine, it was just really bruised. So yeah that was cool.

So transfer calls happened yesterday. I am lucky enough to stay here in Turlock YSA with Elder Robison. I am excited for another transfer of hard work and finding. We have had so many miracles happen as we have dedicated our hearts to this branch. We have been strictly just trying to find those who are ready. As we have done so we have provided a lot of referrals for other missionaries as well as found potentials for our own area. It has been an amazing experience. Our area is huge so we will go somewhere where we have potentials and try to contact them. And then after that we are just talking to everyone and knocking a ton of doors around that general area.

We picked up a new investigator this week named Shayla. She had investigated in the past, but was turned off when the missionaries tried to set a baptismal date that was a month later. She said that she wanted to choose when she is baptized. And that is awesome to hear. We are going to start the lessons this week and there is a member in the branch that actually knows her and is friends with her. So it should go well. Please pray for her and that the spirit will testify to her the truth of our message. She lives with her grandparents and they are members. They expressed to us that they have been waiting for her to be baptized for awhile and have prayed earnestly for it for a long time. Elder Robison and I are very excited to teach her.

YSA has brought me so much more opportunity to play basketball(: We have some less actives in the branch that love playing ball. So we have been playing once a week with them and usually they bring some of their non-member friends. It has been a good environment to set good examples and to invite them to activities. We haven't gotten them to come to church yet, but we think that Tucker will come next week. I was also able to throw in the second put back dunk of my life this week so that was cool. I just need to get my conditioning a little bit better so I can breath when I play;)

We had a couple of lessons with Brandon this week. His baptismal date got moved to August 20th. We hope that he can progress towards that date and do the things that he knows are right. Keep praying for him that he will recognize the spirit and follow those promptings.

Cool story this week. We were tracting an apartment complex and a guy opened his door and was pretty friendly with us. He was also very cautious. Well, he asked where we were from and my companion told him he was from Idaho. The guy kind of chuckled so we asked where he was from and he said he was a former member from Idaho. He then went on to explain how by the age of 14 he had proven the church wrong from the things he had learned in seminary. He went off on some anti-mormon literature that was so inaccurate I could've pulled my scriptures out and embarrassed him. But the spirit guided us. He was saying that first he proved the Pearl of Great Price wrong. Then he didn't think Joseph Smith was a prophet. And eventually it led to a great apostasy of even thinking Jesus Christ is not real. This is a great example of how Satan deceives us. It all started with some doubt about the facsimiles in the Pearl of Great Price and now this poor man does not even believe Jesus Christ lives or that God loves him. He was telling us that he did not believe that there was a creation and that it was all made up. He said there was no God. I had the prompting to share with him a scripture in Alma 30:44

44 But Alma said unto him: Thou hast had signs enough; will ye tempt your God? Will ye say, Show unto me a sign, when ye have the testimony of all these thy brethren, and also all the holy prophets? The scriptures are laid before thee, yea, and all things denote there is a God; yea, even the earth, and all things that are upon the face of it, yea, and its motion, yea, and also all the planets which move in their regular form do witness that there is a Supreme Creator.

This scripture seems harsh to share with this guy, but the way I shared it was in a way that would uplift him. We all felt the spirit as my companion and I testified and also the member that was with us testified of the divinity of the plan that God has for us. This man refused to listen to the spirit and denied our witness. We invited him to read the Book of Mormon and he accepted (I thought he wasn't going to for sure). But I know that the spirit affected him. He is in the Lord's hands now. I am so glad we knocked on that door though. It built my testimony.

I love this work.

Elder Willden

July 24, 2017 

Family and Friends,

I had a very good week this week. To start off my letter this week I would like to share a scriptural thought. I have really been thinking about missionary work and how scary it was to me before my mission. And now being able to share the joy of it with others is amazing. There are some verses in D&C Section 45 that I would like to share:

49 And the Lord shall utter his voice, and all the ends of the earth shall hear it; and the nations of the earth shall mourn, and they that have laughed shall see their folly.
50 And calamity shall cover the mocker, and the scorner shall be consumed; and they that have watched for iniquity shall be hewn down and cast into the fire.
51 And then shall (they) look upon me and say: What are these wounds in thine hands and in thy feet?
52 Then shall they know that I am the Lord; for I will say unto them: These wounds are the wounds with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. I am he who was lifted up. I am Jesus that was crucified. I am the Son of God.

In district meeting this week we were talking about how to find better. And a lot of the conversation led to not being fearful about sharing the message. As full-time missionaries we bear Jesus' name 24/7. So we should know that he is always with us. The message I wanted to share with you all is that, that same promise applies to members. When we feel as if we are getting mocked or scorned for our beliefs stand up and testify. The Lord will come and those people who reject him will "weep" (v. 53, same section) I have thought a lot about this because the Lord still all of us no matter what we choose to do with our agency. He calls them His "friends" in these powerful verses. The greatest work that we can do is missionary work. The Lord has done so much for us. I know that He lives and that He guides The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He is our Savior and Redeemer and will reign as our King when He comes again. Use the divine power of His Atonement and you will come to know Him and to love Him.

Our week has been busy. The Lord is blessing us with so many people to see. Just to give a little run down of our week. We picked up three new investigators. Jonathan, Trinity, and Andy. Jonathan is our most solid investigator. We will be teaching all three of them this week, hopefully. Please pray that they will receive the message and accept the commitments that we give them.

I am pretty much out of time emailing. So I will end by saying that I love you all and that I know that the church is true.

I love the work!

Elder Willden

July 17, 2017
Family and Friends,

This week was great! I finished my second journal. At the beginning of my mission I felt like it was a kind of therapy for me to write in my journal, but now I feel like it is a hassle and like I don't have time for it. But I know that as I write in it, it will benefit me for the rest of my life. It has been so good to be able to look back at previous entries and learn from them. I have found that I have retained so many more memories as I have written them down. It is a blessing to be able to record my spiritual experiences, trials, and joys. My mission has been so hard, fun, and rewarding. The Lord knows us and how to teach us. Time seems to be moving fast and I cannot control it. I know that I need to soak in and enjoy every moment on my mission before I lose it.

We had a special leadership meeting this past Tuesday. I really enjoyed it. President Palmer trained us on how we can get better. I enjoyed learning from him and we are now trying to apply the principles that we learned into our work. Something that I really got from the meeting is that fear stems from the adversary and all he wants to do is thwart the work. We have all been given a calling to spread the gospel to everyone that we see. Sometimes we are fearful to share that message, but the Lord has promised us that we will not fail. People have their agency, but we need to SHARE. It really reminded me of our mission vision, "We are one with the Savior, in doing the will of the Father." This vision will not only affect my mission, but it is going to affect the way that I live forever. I am so happy to be in the Modesto Mission serving the people here. And to be blessed with such a great leader. President Palmer has helped me know my Savior better and to continue to follow Him. I love missionary work and I hope that everyone can have the same experience that I am having as they do the work.

We have an investigator that is on schedule to be baptized August 5th. Please pray for him, his name is Brandon. He has been kind of progressing, but we need him to follow up with the commitments we give him so that he can be ready. I really hope that he can keep doing those things that will build his testimony, but he needs to make sure he keeps his commitments.

Elder Robison and I have really been tracting, street contacting..etc. It has been hard work, but it is paying off. We have a lot more potential investigators and we are sending tons of referrals to the other Elders and Sisters in the zone. We hope to start finding those young single adults that want to learn more. We spend a lot of time contacting at Cal State Stanislaus. It is a good school with a lot of students. We mostly just give cards out and invite them to get to know their Savior. We have gotten some potentials out of it, but a lot of them are "too busy" to listen. I am so glad that I get to be working with people of my same age. It has been an amazing experience to show them that we can love the Savior. And acknowledge what He has done for us.

We had an awesome dinner with the Essemuns this week. Haha. They are from Ghana Africa and Brother Essemun is called as a high councilor over the YSA. They made us a ton of lasagna. And as we were eating if he saw any room on our plate he would say, "MORE, MORE" and give us more food. It was AWESOME. Haha. Then afterwards they packed us up this big tote of food and shipped us off. It was so funny I loved it. While I am on the topic of food...Mom is going to love this. We have a ysa member that went to India on his mission and he learned how to make authentic curry. Well he cooked it and.... I LOVED it. Haha It was so good. I think when I get home I will enjoy Mom's cooking even more than I already did. It is going to be awesome!

I love the work so much!

Elder Willden

They set the black widows on fire! 

Monday, July 10, 2017

Family and Friends,

To start my letter off this week I wanted to write a little bit about the talk that I gave yesterday. It was such a great experience for me to be able to study some of my notes that I have taken over the course of my mission. I was able to choose my topic and I decided to speak on Repentance Through Jesus Christ. The basis of my talk was centered on a story from my high school year that I related to repentance. It was awesome to see how one of my really dumb car accidents could relate to a process that Christ has gifted to us. I enjoyed it. I also got to speak for 20 minutes because the kid that spoke before me spoke for 7 of his 15 was awesome.

My Fourth of July was very awesome. We were able to drive out Newman which is about 30 minutes south of where we live and we literally drive through all of the almond/alfalfa/produce farms. It is such a cool drive, but we don't get to do it too often. We spent the day down there on a team up with our branch mission leader. He drives a challenger so it was fun to cruise around for awhile in a fast car. After we went there we drove clear out to the outskirts of Hughson which is farmland clear across our area... We had dinner out there with our Branch President's family. It was so fun. They have some really cool property. A river flows through their backyard. The yard is massive. They own a lot of tree orchards. So we got to go skip some rocks and take pictures. Which I will get to you soon. While we were in Newman that morning we got to teach a member that had one of his non-member friends over. Well... we taught the Plan of Salvation and it went super good. Afterwards our branch mission leader asked the non-member if he had questions. Alec, the non-member, replied with an honest, "I don't have any questions, but I have contradictions." The spirit was out the window. We could feel contention in the room. Alec is baptist by the way. So we explained to him that we were not going to bible bash with him, but that we could answer his humble questions if he had any. Well he put his contradictions into a question and we were able to show him in the Bible where our doctrine came from. We totally tag teamed and killed it. The Lord was there with us. Weston the member friend bore a powerful, emotional testimony during the meeting as well and we could feel the spirit so strong. Hopefully Alec was touched. But those baptists are tough man...

We had a zone conference that was on Wednesday this past week. Elder Robison and I were assigned to do a training on one of our missions "points of emphasis." We had a very good training on extending commitments and following up. In preach my gospel it talks about how if we don't extend commitments we are not inviting people to repent. I really enjoyed it.

Funny crazy story... So this new kid was at institute this last week and he was a returned missionary from Richmond, VA. That is where Cole Dean was serving... Well I told him I knew him. He ended up sending a picture of me and him to Cole. Well after about 20 minutes Cole facetimed this kid. It was so awkward for me hahah. I did not want to break any rules, but I am not going to lie it was pretty cool to see him! I told him to send me an email;) It was cool haha. I was super anxious about it. But I cannot control others... lol.

Another funny story. So we were driving home from a court of honor dinner in crows landing... By the way it didn't feel as awkward not joining the eagle's nest as I thought because my companion didn't get his either lol. But....anyways. We were going about 55 mph down this country road (the speed limit). And.... all the sudden we went shooting up into the air haha all four tires were in the air. It turned out that we hit the railroad track and it had a really big incline so we got air... It was awesome.

So there are a TON of black widows on our apartment complex grounds. So we caught two of them the other day. Scared the crap out of me... lol. But it was super awesome. I will send pics. And videos... haha. 

I love the work and I am doing so good!

Elder Willden

they are catching these in their apartment!