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.