Friday, June 30, 2017

June 26, 2017
Family and Friends,

A lot changed this week... A new area, a new companion, and a new assignment. It was so hard leaving Stockton. After preparation day was over we went to Andra's house. It was so hard so bye to her. She is so awesome. Before we went to Andra's though we went to Cafe Rio for the last time. It was a sad day... They don't have one in Turlock. But Turlock definitely has plenty of good things.

My new companion's name is Elder Robison. He is so cool. One of my favorite companions so far. He is from Rigby, Idaho. He likes to ball so we are chillin'. He also likes taco bell so this will be a good transfer. He has been serving in this ward for 3 transfers... So he has been here for awhile. I am worried that we might not be together that long. I hope we are together for awhile though. It has been a good first week. So we cover the whole Turlock Stake, but we live in Ceres. Which is a town up by Modesto. We have a super nice apartment. Funny story about this week. It was Elder Robison and I's second day together and he got onto a roof to fix an A/C unit for a member. Well.... He got done and was coming off the roof, but as he was coming down he fell off the roof!!! BUT. I caught him falling off the roof and we just knew the companionship unity this transfer was gonna be off the charts!! Haha. It was funny.

The YSA work is so fun. We serve in a branch and it is so awesome. The zone leaders here just switched this transfer from covering both the YSA Branch and Turlock 2nd family ward. To just the YSA branch. So we definitely have to work a lot harder to find. And we are definitely going to have to get more creative with finding. But there is a college campus in our area so we will be spending a lot of our time doing work there. Our area is also huge so we also work the area book a lot and drive through farm country to get to other cities. We went to some cities this week that were called Hughson and Waterford. They were cool little cities. It is cool working with younger people too because they are more open. Working in a YSA branch though... There is a lot more drama, crude humor, and jokes than the family ward so it is interesting! I love it though.

Something else that is super cool about this area is that the Stake President here is related to our family. I have not met him yet, but our Branch President said that he talks about Cove Fort a lot so we are definitely related. I also met this kid in our branch that is like our 3rd or 4th cousin. It is weird to have family here. But the people are very nice to me because of my last name... Which is weird because our name is not common.

Fun fact about this area Colin Kaepernick lives here. Everyone hates him, but we are gonna try to get him to YSA hahaa. Probably not gonna be able to contact him. He has a huge gate.

Well I love it here. It is so awesome.

Elder Willden

June 20, 2017
Lunch with Elder Payne and Brother Black (ward missionary that Elder Willden calls "the GOAT" because he is the greatest of all time!)  before Elder Willden left Stockton.  He served in Stockton for almost 11 months.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

June 19, 2017
Family and Friends,

This week was just super super good. Transfer calls were last night and... I am going to see a change of scenery. I will be serving in the southernmost area of the mission in the Turlock YSA Ward. I am so excited. The area is pretty big and I get to work with the young single adults so it should be so fun! For my letter this week I wanted to just take some time and tell you all what I have learned during my time in Stockton. There are 3 big things that I wanted to specifically talk about.

1. The Lord knows all of His children.

As I have served here in Stockton I have learned that the Savior knows us all personally. More than we can even comprehend. He knew us all before we came to the Earth. Think about that. Sometimes we lose trust in Him and His plan for all of us, but if we accept what he has put in front of us and learn to grow then we will benefit in the way that He wants us to. I came across a scripture about 3 months ago when I just finished training Elder Payne and it was in D&C 123:14-17 with emphasis on verse 17.

14 These should then be attended to with great earnestness.
15 Let no man count them as small things; for there is much which lieth in futurity, pertaining to the saints, which depends upon these things.
16 You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.
17 Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

These few verses that I turned to late one night changed my perspective and outlook on the next two transfers that I have gone through. I knew it was going to be hard, but I knew with the "utmost assurance" that the Lord would reveal His arm to me and help me through. And He did. I love my Father in Heaven and my Savior. They have heard my prayers and I am just so happy that I chose to come to this Earth. This didn't just affect me in my personal life either. I know that it applies with everyone around me too. As I have served here I have seen people gain faith in our Savior Jesus Christ and His Atonement, I have seen them repent, I have seen one amazing lady be baptized and receive the Holy Ghost, and now I have just seen everyone here leaning on our Savior as they endure to the end. 

2. Patience is key to growing and learning.

I remember getting to Stockton the first day and just could not wait for the next week so that I could get transferred. I was so confident that I did not even unpack that whole week...Well that week we got a call from President and he said that I was staying. To say the least I was mad. Deep down I knew that I was supposed to stay. God had put me on a path to learn patience and humility. That journey still continues as I am still trying to learn how to be humble. As I continued pressing on in the area a scripture that President Waddoups showed me before my mission continued to press on my mind. It is in Alma 7:22-24.

22 And now my beloved brethren, I have said these things unto you that I might awaken you to a sense of your duty to God, that ye may walk blameless before him, that ye may walk after the holy order of God, after which ye have been received.
23 And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.
24 And see that ye have faithhope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.

I have bolded all of the Christlike attributes that we should be striving to develop. None of us will be perfect at it, but when Alma was preaching to these people he made it clear that we have a duty and we must strive to be humble. That is the first thing that he said. I also remember a quote from President Palmer and he said, "It is ironic that when you think you are're really not." And this is so true. I have learned that as we are patient in our afflictions and as we continue to give thanks to God for everything that we receive that we can gain a better relationship with our Father in Heaven. I could go on forever on this topic, but I just know that when we are patient through the plan that God has for us we are blessed.

3. Love people deeply and God will work miracles.

I have met so many wonderful people here in Stockton. But I would like to just talk about 3 people/families.

Andra Zastrow
Andra is so awesome! She is an awesome convert to the church and someone that I always felt I had a special connection with. President Waddoups, in my setting apart blessing, said that as I loved the people deeply I would know who I promised to come see. Andra is one of those people. With all of the experiences that we have had it is just the craziest situation I have been in. She is awesome. We were in a lesson with her one night and she said she read the Book of Mormon and a particular passage stuck out to her. Well this passage was in 2 Nephi 4:29.

29 Do not anger again because of mine enemies. Do not slacken my strength because of mine afflictions.

I recognized this passage without her giving the reference. This scripture along with the other 34 verses in the chapter affected me immensely before my mission and throughout my mission. I felt the spirit so strongly while meeting with Andra and I know through impressions that I have had that I was supposed to meet her.

The Roberts Family
This family is so awesome. This was my second Ward Mission Leader. This was during the duration of time that I spent in the Weston Ward. He is THE LEGEND. He worked so hard to help us and just did a great job overall. Their family made a lot of sacrifices to do missionary work. Brother Roberts never ceased to feed us. And to help us. He is now living in Utah and I cannot wait to see him at my homecoming. He helped me out a LOT when I was serving with him.

The Pyper Family
Okay so the Pypers are so awesome. When the Weston Ward dissolved this was my new Ward Mission Leader. He gets up and goes to work at 4AM every morning and gets home at 9PM every night in a normal week. So I am running out of time, but basically he has sacrificed so much to do missionary work and he has done a very good job. The improvement in the ward has been due to the dedication of Brother Pyper. And Sister Pyper is just an amazing missionary without the calling to do so.

I love this area. And I am happy I got to be here.

Elder Willden
We made sure Elder Willden made it into a few wedding photos

June 12, 2017
Family and Friends,

I had such a great week this week! I am so thankful for all of the prayers from you all. The ward is doing so good. We have seen so much progress in missionary work. We have been so busy and it has been nice to see all of the progress made by the members. We are now having multiple members come out with us a week and the work is just rolling. We have fellowship with our investigators no problem. We just have to call a member and they will say when do you want them over? haha. It is GREAT. By the way the GOAT...Brother Black...came out with us three times last week. He is the best ward missionary of all time.

Funny story for this week. As Elder Payne and I were going through our week we were just swamped with appointments and on our busiest day which was Wednesday we had one of our members text us at about 7PM and it said "are you still coming to dinner?" it was a nightmare. Haha. We told her that we did not think we confirmed the appointment and then she quoted the confirm text we sent her last week. It was SAVAGE. I felt so bad.

So during interviews this week, President Palmer told us that he is going to come with us to Andra's next week to teach her. It will be good. He is going to talk to her about patriarchal blessings. I am excited for it. I think I am going to take notes;) But I am very excited for him and Sister Palmer to join us this Tuesday. I love this area so much.

For my spiritual thought this week I want to share something that might spark interest to study. I have been studying the story of Joseph this week. The coat of many colors Joseph. And I have asked myself the question, "How does this relate to the blessings given to Ephraim?" Well first off the name Joseph means "to gather." There were a few more explanations of his name, but I just think that the scriptures are so symbolic. I have really been looking for "types." When the scriptures refer to "types." It means there is a symbol and I just think that that is super cool. Sorry for the short letter, but I am in high demand here in Cali (show this to Corie). haha No I love you all and hope you have a great week.

Elder Willden

June 5, 2017
Family and Friends,

This week was so so good. Andra, our recent convert, invited us to go to the Sacramento Temple. It was such a beautiful Temple. The experience that I had there will be a memory I will never forget. Andra took her deceased Mother's name along with her great great grandmother. The spirit was so strong in that baptistery. Something else that was cool is that the temples here are a little bit different from the ones in UT. The temple workers allowed me to record the baptisms. It was so cool. Also thank you Mom for sending me so many temple names. We got all of the male baptisms and confirmations done. It was a great experience for me to be able to do that. I will send them home ASAP. To end this great week that we had to we enjoyed watching Andra stand and bear her testimony at the Stockton Stake Conference. It was amazing. The spirit was so strong as she spoke. I am so happy for her and her decisions. She has so much support too. It was just amazing. Elder Watkins, the seventy that came spoke to Andra and bore his testimony. It was cool.

Funny story for this week: I have been having some respiratory problems due to allergies and one of our ward missionaries....The GOAT Brother Black was concerned. So he went and bought me some apple cider vinegar and told me to take a shot of it every night until it goes away. Well yesterday was the first night I tried it and it was just so disgusting... I plugged my nose and I could still just feel the vinegar in my mouth. Haha I also just forgot to put in here. Yesterday was Sunday and Brother Black was so concerned about it he pulled into dollar general and we told him it was Sunday and he said..."The sun is down...I am goin' in" Haha. We sat in the car while he went in and bought it, but it was just the funniest thing.

These past few transfers have really been focused on member missionary work. And we have had some great experiences working with members to help converts and less-actives. Well recently we went over to a mans home and he is the only member in his home. His wife is baptist and so are his children. He struggles with his marriage and it was just cool to share with him some words out of Preach My Gospel. It was the section entitled, "A Successful Missionary." It talked about how Satan tries to make us discouraged. And when we get discouraged our expectations then go down and our success goes down. So he told us that what he learned is that his expectations need to stay high. And that is such a big thing with missionary work. We cannot become discouraged or you find yourself just going through the motions and waiting for something to fall in your lap. Which never happens. It was intimidating to try and give him advice on how to work with his wife. But the best advice we could give him was in Alma 38:12. Always be doing something. I loved being able to help this man.

We met a man named Tim Rios this week. He is a recovering meth addict and still struggles a lot. This was super intimidating as well. Because he wants to change, but it is so hard. What we are doing right now to help him is to get everyone we can involved to help him. He has been reading the Book of Mormon. I have enjoyed being able to help this man in his journey. Please pray for his well-being and that he can have strength.

So I went on exchanges this week with an Elder in my district. He is from Roy. His name is Elder Manley. It was a pretty good exchange lol. We met this guy out here that is from Utah. He was doing pest control for a company based out of California. He told us that he served a mission in Birmingham Alabama. And he had been to Decatur. haha I was pumped about that, but he didn't know any of Mom's side of the family.

I had a really good week this week. I have a lot of pictures to send this week.

Elder Willden

Friday, June 2, 2017

Family and Friends,

I would like to start my letter off this week by sharing a spiritual thought. Last Monday we were able to attend a meeting with Elder Clayton of the seventy presiding. It was so awesome. We had a lot of insight on how to do missionary work. Particularly planning and helping investigators keep commitments. It was awesome. Elder Clayton got up and started talking about prayer and how we should pray and it really touched me. It answered a lot of questions that I had. A quote that I would like to share is, "We are kneeling before God...He is not kneeling before us." We have to be humble when we pray and ask what Heavenly Father's will is for us and then act on the promptings we receive. So being me... I wanted to test this as soon as possible. So I had to prepare a district meeting this past week and I wanted to know what my district needed to hear. So basically I was asking Heavenly Father if what I prepared is what they needed and I could consciously tell if I needed to change something every time I prayed. Finally the spirit told me that it was good to go and the meeting went great. It was a good experience for me.

 And before I go on in my letter I would like to take this paragraph and tell my brother Chase happy birthday! He is just my best friend and I am so happy I have him as a brother. Keep on being chill and work hard in Cali. You'll do great things my man.

I would like to ask all of you to pray for our recent convert Andi. She is doing okay, but just going through a rough patch. She is the strongest convert I have ever seen. But just pray for her strength and that she will be comforted through this time. Her personal life has gotten very choppy before and now after she has joined the church.

We have been having super busy weeks. We went over to a less actives house this weekend and did some yard work. That went very good. Except his yard was a jungle and I almost passed out from allergies lol. I really sneezed about 100 times. But he came to church so it was worth it. We are so excited for this ward and the potential that it has. I love the members here. I hope that I can stay here the rest of my mission.

We have had a lot of Hawaiian BBQ this week too. And I have lost weight so that's cool. There is this new Mt. Dew that has a mix of three dews. You know I hit that up...but not too much because ball is life. I love my family and I love the work.

Keep being awesome everyone and keep writing me!

Elder Willden

Taken May 8, 2017 at the Dickson's home with their youngest son.  Elder Willden Skype called from their home on Mother's Day

Getting treats from Alejandra again

Last two are from this week.
What does the lip bite even mean?