Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Family and Friends,

This week has been GREAT! We finally got our area reorganized so we are back to full time work. It has been so stressful this week. In the past two weeks we have gotten 9 headquarters referrals...which is nuts. So we have been all over the place.

As Mom probably knows my bicycle failed me again. The bolt underneath my seat snapped in half again and I took a tumble onto the asphalt. I was livid ticked....luckily I did not swear this time. But I did almost throw my bicycle into the river next to the bike trail we were on. I went down right on my knees too so I am thankful no bad injuries occurred and that I did not fall forward...So I think I can still have kids when I am older. As for my call to President Palmer for that one...He sent me straight to world of wheels and told me to tell them he sent me. They fixed my bike for free and gave me all new parts for my seat. So that was cool.

My day was made the next day though because Mom sent me a watch. And it is nice....(: haha nicer than my 10 dollar watch from wish.com. But... That thing was a tank. Lasted a whole year. And now it is hanging up in our apartment. I also just wanted to write a little bit about how thankful I am for my parents. They are AWESOME. My siblings can probably attest. But just looking back on my life and everything that they taught me. They did a dang good job. I am thankful for their constant prayers and constant love. You are amazing people. Thank you.

Funny story: We have a ward missionary named Brother Black and he is just super awesome. He will come out with us whenever we ask and he just sacrifices so much for the church. His wife has passed away and basically he is just dedicating his life to missionary work. We absolutely love him. So he was taking us home from church the other week and I just looked at him and said, "you know what Brother Black...You are the GOAT." He looked at me with confusion haha. He is like 74 years old. And I said, "Brother Black... You are the Greatest Of All Time!!" And he just erupted with laughter. So we have been calling him the GOAT and just trying to uplift him everytime we go out with him and the last time we were with him he said, "This is the best antidepressant." It made me so happy to just be doing missionary work with him. He is awesome.

So.... I heard that the church has done away with the BSA program. So I guess I am kind of off the hook for not getting my eagle. Just kidding. But I thought that was so weird. And ironic😂

This past Thursday was my second time planning and conducting a district meeting. And.... Sister Palmer showed up. It went so well though. We had a meeting based around loving and working with ward members. We were able to discuss ways to help our ward and stake. Sister Palmer shared some awesome insight that we wouldn't have gotten if she weren't there. It was just a great meeting. I am going to stem my spiritual thought off of this meeting. I was reading in the New Testament and in 1 Peter 5:2-6 it really talks about how we have to humbly love the people that we serve. The passage that stuck out to me most is in verses 2 and 6. "Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;...Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time..." The two words that stick out to me most in those verses are feed and oversight. If you look at the footnotes provided it has words like, tend and superintend for feed. And words like, overseeing, guarding, and watching for oversight. I have tried to compare this to my service, but this can also apply to church callings. We are guarding and tending the flocks that the Lord has trusted us with. We should do what Peter so straightforwardly puts, "humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time." We must be humble as we provide service to others. God resisteth the proud. (v. 5) I love missionary work. It is the most humbling, rewarding, joyful experience you can ever have.

I love the work here in Calfornia.

Elder Willden

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

May 15, 2017
today has been a good ole slice out of the celestial kingdom, i mean glory to the highest to be able to serve another blessed day in the beautiful valley of stockton cali for niaaa in the beautiful brookside ward. #shakabraman

Family and Friends,

As you can tell the first part of my email was inspired. It magically popped up on the screen so it must have been God's will. I had a great week this week. Especially on Mother's Day. I was so glad that the whole fam was there and that I got to finally meet my brother in law.

This weeks letter is going to be pretty short because of skype. I am so thankful for the mission and how it has blessed not only my life, but my family's lives as well. I hope that you all can find the peace that this gospel brings. I listened to a talk last night by Henry B. Eyring. It was from the 2015 general conference. He talked about the Holy Ghost and how it can lead and guide us. If we seek for the will of God, by the power of the Holy Ghost we can know what we need to do and magnify it. President Eyring has become one of my most loved General Authorities. He is so powerful and brings the spirit so much.

I love the Lord and I love this Gospel. If any of you are debating a mission...GO. It will be the greatest experience of your life. Your testimony will grow so much. I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to serve.

I love you all.

Elder Willden

May 8, 2017 
Family and Friends,

This week flew by! We got our transfer calls last night and I will be staying in the Brookside ward. I am so excited because they moved the zone leaders to Spanish work. That means that Elder Payne and I will be covering my whole old Weston ward area as well. The Lord has blessed me to be able to work with this ward so much. We are also seeing a lot of success right now so I am very satisfied with staying. It still won't be easy. But I will always remember what President Waddoups said in my setting apart blessing. "Happiness is a choice...always remember this."

So.... My bike is always trying to bring me down now. 3 days after I got it fixed another spoke broke. 20 more dollars!! I am definitely donating this bike when I am done with my mission. I HATE biking haha.

I had a pretty cool experience this week. We showed up to a dinner at a park with some members and it turned out the Sister's parents were their. Well they introduced themselves and said that they were serving in the mission presidency in Spokane Washington. I asked them if they knew Elder Jon Christensen and they said that they did and that he was only 20 miles away from where they lived in that point of time. He pulled his phone out and texted him haha. It was cool to see how small the world is in the church.

We had a zone training this week and found out that Elder Weatherford T. Clayton is coming to our mission for a tour. This is a great opportunity for me to memorize the first vision. President Palmer told us to do that because each of us have a chance to be interviewed by him. That will be a nerve-racking experience if that happens, but it is a small chance.

One really cool experience we had this week was with our investigator Larry. We had a member named Brother Harper come with us. He is a recent convert of about a year and he investigated for 14 years. He came with us and said the spirit told him to say some things. And BOY DID HE SAY SOME THINGS. It was so cool to be in there. But as I was in there my jaw was dropped. He started talking about racial problems in the world (Larry is African-American). And then he told Larry, "The reason I am here tonight is to welcome you to the ward. I don't care if you get baptized tomorrow, next week, or next year. You made it this far and you know that you are going to join. It is just a matter of time." That is one of the many quotes that I remember. But overall it was just a great experience haha. Afterwards Larry texted us and told us how much he liked Brother Harper. So that is what needed to happen. I forgot to mention that as we were leaving Brother Harper did a gangster handshake with Larry and hugged him. This was so surprising. Larry is from Compton. Enough said.

Andi's baptism was soooooo spiritual. There were about 20 non-members there supporting her. And it couldn't have gone any better. I cannot wait to tell you all her conversion story. She will be such a great member. She already got her temple recommend so I think we will be heading to Oakland soon. I am so excited. I hope to keep in touch with her for the rest of my life. She is going to be a great missionary. She already has her Mother's name to take to the temple. After Andi's baptism we went to lunch with President Palmer. A funny story is associated with this. I got a steak and cheese sandwich. Well they decided to put horseradish and red onions on that bad boy. You all know how I am. My taste buds have changed, but not that much. So as I was trying to choke this thing down I got to my third bite and just gagged super hard. I almost threw up in front of President and Sister Palmer. President saw that I wasn't eating my sandwich and Sister Palmer being so kind took my sandwich gave it to President and he got me a new one. Haha. It was embarrassing, but President was cool about it. I guess Sister Palmer is very picky too. So I got off the hook.(: Cool experience too: We decided to go back to Andi's that night. Which we weren't really planning on and we showed up and she was having a very hard time. I am not going to go into details, but basically she told us she was so glad we were there and we stayed and talked to her family and friends. I actually got to talk to her friend Dave whose wife recently passed away and he was very interested and involved in the conversation. It was cool. And to top things off I confirmed her on Sunday and it was so cool. I could feel God's love for her so much. It was crazy. God LOVES his children.

My spiritual thought for this week is just my testimony that I know God know's his children. He knows what we need, when we need it. I know that Jesus Christ Atoned for our sins. I have recently been reading pretty close to the end of Jesus the Christ. I read about his trial and condemnation to death. He was truly the Son of God. And everyone knew it. Christ felt everything. As he suffered for our pains he truly saw each and everyone of us. He knows our weaknesses and knows our strengths. I have been able to see this on my mission especially with things He has blessed me to go through. I love Him. He is my Savior and He is your Savior.

I love this work. Have a great week!

Elder Willden

Elder Rivera, Elder Hacking, and Elder Bonola. And of course YOURS TRULY:)

Andi's baptism

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Family and Friends,

I wanted to start my letter this week congratulating my Sister on her marriage in the temple. I think in Utah it is taken for granted for someone to get sealed. It does not happen a lot. I am so proud to have a Sister that made the choice to seal her marriage in the temple. And I cannot wait to see all of my other siblings make that choice. What a great gift God has given us to be able to be with our families forever. I am so grateful for my family and all that they do for me. I would say the number one thing I have learned on my mission so far is the importance of family. It is the most important organization on this earth.

So..... my bike has still been giving me struggles. I am on the verge of throwing the thing away. lol. No, but another spoke broke and I ended up having to true both of the wheels. I love spending money on a bike I don't like. I guess that's just the mission life. I almost wanted to give my bike a blessing this week....but that would be sacrilegious so I did not do it. But seriously the thing hates me. Or I just ride too durty on it.

ALLERGIES have been killer this week... I thought Utah was bad, but the central valley is terrible. I sneeze on average 20 times a day. It is all of these trees and farmland out here. I feel like Chase out here getting the "hot sweats" for days. Thanks for giving me these genes though Dad. There is a tree out here that gets me every time I ride past them and they are everywhere. The hay fever is nuts. Gotta love it.

So Larry has decided to push his baptism off for a little bit. We are going to keep meeting with him, but I think that he will need some new missionaries here before he progresses. Hopefully the ward will rally around him and soften his heart. He is a great guy. Please pray for him. He needs it.

Some good news though. Andra (Andi) will be getting baptized this Saturday. Her story is crazy. This is probably the greatest experience that I have had on my mission and I will be in contact with her for my whole life. She is a CONVERT. Her baptism is going to be packed. We don't know if everyone is going to fit in the baptistery. This lady is awesome. I am humbled to be able to be apart of her journey. I am also very honored that she chose me to do her confirmation on Sunday. I am super nervous. This will be my first time doing this. It will be a neat experience.

Vera another one of our progressing investigators is doing great. She called me on Friday and said, "You have a new Brother!" She was so happy and excited to say that to me. By the way she is the one that sent the flowers to Bailee in my name. I am so happy they got there on time. And Vera will be happy to hear that they matched her wedding colors. She is a great lady. We hope by this week she will have picked a date to be baptized. She did not make it to church this past week, but for the first time in a year of investigating she came to church. Not only once, but two times in a row. HUGE steps for her. We can see her desire to come closer to Christ.

We have been teaching a new investigator named Grace Gaea. She is great haha. She came to gospel principles and did not really like it... So she said she would attend sacrament meeting. She did this past week and said that it was "okay." So please pray that if she does come to church again that she will be able to feel the spirit and that it is what God wants us to do weekly to keep the Sabbath day holy. She is a very busy so we hope that she will take the time necessary to find out if the gospel is true.

I forgot to mention that I am also very happy to be hearing about all of these mission calls. Brighton my cousin will be going to Magala Spain. That is nuts! And Branson just got his call to Wichita Kansas Spanish Speaking. Which is also nuts! He is going to have a blast. And Boston just got his papers turned in and is expecting his call here soon. I cannot wait to hear all of the good news! Missionary work is the best work!

I went on an exchange this past week with our district leader. He is great! I asked for a blessing and he gave me one of the coolest blessings I have ever gotten. He answered a lot of questions of my soul and helped me so much. It just reassured me of the power of the priesthood. Whenever we need divine guidance we can ask a worthy priesthood holder to give us a blessing. And God will help us.

My spiritual thought this week was a scripture that President Waddoups sent me at Christmas time and told me to memorize. It is Ether 12:41 and it reads, "And now I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written. That the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in you forever. Amen." What a great scripture to memorize and remember throughout the year. I always think about this scripture when I am having a hard day because seeking Jesus is the best thing that we can do. I love the Lord. And I love doing HIS work.

I forgot to mention that I am 10 months into the mission. How crazy is that?? I love it out here.

I love the work. Have a great week.

Elder Willden
I have desecrated the UOP tiger with a lip bite. Go BYU #IBleedBlue​​

I have converted our whole zone to Taco Bell. #Hallalujah

April 24, 2017 
Family and Friends,

It is really weird having a sister getting married to someone you don't know. I trust my sister's judgement. But I wish them luck and especially him luck on this journey. Welcome to the clan. I will be doing initiation when I get home. Maybe it is a good thing that I am gone at this point so that he will marry Bailee. Because once their sealed there is no going back👹

I got to see Alejandra this week which was cool. We were able to do exchanges with the zone leaders so we went and ate pizza over there. Still one of my favorite families in Stockton. I feel like a Stocktonian now. I have been here for almost 9 months. It is crazy. But I know that I am supposed to be here and The Lord has blessed me with so many great experiences. I am blessed.

So Larry has had some setbacks this week... So I don't know if he is going to be baptized on the 6th of May, but that is still the plan. Pray for him that he will continue to progress.

While we were on exchanges with the zone leaders this week Elder Bonola and I got to make the long drive up to Lodi;) They cover the singles ward so we were able to go up there and seek out the less-actives there. It was a great exchange that was much needed.

This week was a very slow week and it was kind of rough. Dad was right about journals being therapeutic. I think my journal very well keeps me sane sometimes. Stockton is so so good. Don't get me wrong, but just pray that I can have the strength to be patient and love people as Christ would love them. The mission helps so much with everything. I am happy to hear of my friends and cousin that have gotten their calls to serve. It is the best decision you can make in your life.

I am doing so well and love all of you. I am sorry for the short letter. I will do better next week. Had to write a lot of individuals. Keep praying I can feel your prayers!

Elder Willden