Tuesday, August 29, 2017

August 28, 2017

Family and Friends,

I had a very good week! A lot of great experiences have happened and I am so happy! To start off my letter this week I would like to share an experience we had last week with one of our investigators. Josh, who is progressing towards baptism on October 22, was saying a prayer after one of our lessons with him. In this prayer he said something really significant. He said, "Heavenly Father I am thankful for being able to remember what I learn in the Book of Mormon." We asked him about that after the prayer and he explained that usually everything he studies whether it be a document, movie, you name it... He usually cannot remember anything. He told us that it is different with the Book of Mormon. He said that he can remember everything he learns and it has a profound effect on his mind. We were able to explain that being the power of the Holy Ghost. As a testator to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ the Holy Ghost can and will help us remember the spiritual principles that we learn each day. It was very amazing to see the way the spirit has been working with Josh. I am thankful for Heavenly Father being mindful of our investigator. We are being blessed.

A couple weeks ago we taught a college student named Sal. We have not talked to him since, but we have stopped by his apartment a couple times. One of those times was this week. Right when we knocked on the door his roommate answered the door. He was holding a Book of Mormon...the one that we had given Sal. He explained that Sal was at school and we asked him what he was holding. He said that Sal had shared it with him and told him to check it out. Apparently Sal had told Kevin, his roommate, to check out this Book because it was really interesting. We are hoping that something comes out of it. So please pray for someone in that apartment to feel the spirit!

On Saturday morning last week we went a contacted a referral we had gotten from the assistants. His name is also Sal. Haha. Well we went and we taught him the Restoration and he was pretty open to the message. We talked to him a lot about the Book of Mormon and what it is. He told us that he would read and pray about it. He actually prayed at the end of our lesson. It turns out that two of his supervisors at work are Mormons and that he also has a co-worker that is Mormon. It was a really good lesson and I could really feel the spirit there. Well.... After the lesson and prayer we were walking outside. And we saw two guys coming up the driveway. Sal kind of chuckled in the back and it turned out these were the JW's doin' there Saturday morning rounds! It was the funniest reaction I have ever seen from a J-dub. They looked at us coming out the front door...and with an "oh crap" look they turned around and walked off. We smiled and asked how they were doing and they said they were doing good, but they kept walking. It was so awesome! Totally showed them who's boss.

So I had another once in a life-time experience this week on my mission! Al Fox Carraway the "tattooed mormon" came to the Turlock YSA branch. I thought it was gonna be sort of overrated....but I was wrong. She is an amazing person. I wish I could read her book....but I am on a mission. She told her story of how she met missionaries and how she joined the church. And then the sacrifices that she made to follow the promptings of the Holy Ghost. These were not small sacrifices. On her 21 birthday she went to dinner with her Dad and he told her that she needed to choose between him and the church. Well, she chose the church! She eventually came to Utah and went through many struggles. After a lot of struggles and trials she is now speaking with her father and living a very happy life sharing the gospel and inspiring others to do the same. It was an inspiring story! I got pictures so I will send them.

Brandon was confirmed this Sunday! It was a great experience. I had a very spiritually edifying sacrament meeting this week. I would like to share the lyrics from what is now my second favorite hymn:

1. Savior, Redeemer of my soul,
Whose mighty hand hath made me whole,
Whose wondrous pow’r hath raised me up
And filled with sweet my bitter cup!
What tongue my gratitude can tell,
O gracious God of Israel.
2. Never can I repay thee, Lord,
But I can love thee. Thy pure word,
Hath it not been my one delight,
My joy by day, my dream by night?
Then let my lips proclaim it still,
And all my life reflect thy will.
3. O’errule mine acts to serve thine ends.
Change frowning foes to smiling friends.
Chasten my soul till I shall be
In perfect harmony with thee.
Make me more worthy of thy love,
And fit me for the life above.

As I was studying this hymn while we were partaking of the sacrament I pondered on the words contained. If you think about this hymn it is very personal. I have found in my life times when the Redeemer has "filled with sweet my bitter cup" He does that because He loves us. Also the lyrics "Chasten my soul till I shall be in perfect harmony with thee. Make me more worthy of thy love and fit me for the life above." Isn't that why we are here? To learn and to grow? This prayer hit me hard. I know that the Savior loves us all because of what He did for us. And we cannot repay Him, but we can try our best to be worthy. I know my Savior lives and He cares for each of us in a very personal way. I am very humbled to be able to proclaim His love and His gospel. I pray that each of us can live our lives knowing that we have a Helper, a Comforter, a Savior. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Willden

Monday, August 21, 2017

August 21, 2017

Family and Friends,

I had a great week this week! It started with a great zone conference that we had in Modesto last Tuesday. It was focused on using the scriptures to present doctrine and then to show the blessings that come from applying that doctrine in our lives. I felt the spirit so much. While President Palmer was bearing his testimony I could see him glowing. I think that it is a real thing to be able to physically see somebody's countenance shine when they bear their testimony. It was an experience I will never forget. I cannot really even remember what he said, but I remember how I felt. It was great. We were able to conduct a zone break out after the meeting and we talked about having the faith to find those who are prepared. I felt the spirit as I bore my testimony on finding people who are ready. As missionaries we sometimes get discouraged because of how many people say no, but the joy you find when someone lets you share is priceless. I am so grateful for the scriptures that we have. They touch people's lives. The Book of Mormon is the tool we use to convert others.

Now I would like to share about a couple of our new investigators that we picked up this week from knocking on doors and what the experience was like. Our first is Tiara. We knocked on her door in a complex close to the college. She opened up and was extremely kind. We asked if we could share a message about eternal families. She said that would be nice, but for us to come back. We went back the next week and took a member with us. As we taught her the Plan of Salvation we really focused on our Savior and why he is important. We shared Alma 7:11-13 with her which reads:

11 And he shall go forth, suffering pains and afflictions and temptations of every kind; and this that the word might be fulfilled which saith he will take upon him the pains and the sicknesses of his people.
12 And he will take upon him death, that he may loose the bands of death which bind his people; and he will take upon him their infirmities, that his bowels may be filled with mercy, according to the flesh, that he may know according to the flesh how to succor his people according to their infirmities.
13 Now the Spirit knoweth all things; nevertheless the Son of God suffereth according to the flesh that he might take upon him the sins of his people, that he might blot out their transgressions according to the power of his deliverance; and now behold, this is the testimony which is in me.

We asked the member that was with us if he could bear his testimony on that scripture. I could see Tiara tearing up as our member bore a powerful testimony. It was a great lesson. We have a return appointment for this Friday. So please pray that she read the Book of Mormon and prayed about it. Our next experience was with Flower. We taught Flower the Restoration on her doorstep. It was a good experience and we shared Moroni's promise (Moroni 10:3-5) with her. We told her that if she prayed to know if Joseph Smith is a prophet she would find her answer. Our return appointment fell through with her, but we hope to meet with her soon. Please pray for her.

To give an update on other investigators mentioned in previous letters... Josh is doing really good. He is reading his Book of Mormon and praying to know if this is true. In our lesson last week he committed and picked a date to be baptized on October 22. We are excited for him. We wish it were a little bit earlier than that, but that is what Josh was comfortable with so that is all that matters. Our investigator Brandon was baptized yesterday! It was such a good service. It was so amazing to see another one of Heavenly Father's children enter the waters of baptism. Missions are so great!

We were able to attend our Branch Conference yesterday as well. It was such a good meeting. Our Branch President gave a very good talk on Repentance. Something that stuck out to me that he shared was that from his experience the hardest thing to teach someone is how to forgive themselves. I am going to try to paraphrase what he said, "If we want to follow the example of our Savior he forgave everyone so we need to do the same including forgiving ourselves." I got so much from this talk and I cannot do it justice... I don't even know if I quoted it correctly, but I know that if we look to our future with a brightness of hope and not dwell on the sorrows of our past we can feel the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ bring us the joy of salvation.

I love this work!

Elder Willden

Elder Miller and I at zone conference

Elder Guerrero and I

Brandon's Baptism
I got athletes foot, but it is all taken care of now. TOO MUCH HEAT!!! FUNGUS

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 is...as 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.