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! 

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