Transferred to Woodbridge, Greeted with Snow, A New Future

January, 7, 2014 
Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

Happy New Year! So, I have gone north indeed. I am in Woodbridge in the Prince William Ward (congregation). In other words, I moved one stake up (a stake is a group of congregations in a geographical area that serve together, an analogy would be the stakes of a tent). There are many good things that I see here. The members are willing to help us out, especially on giving us rides. There are kind members here. Plus, what is really ironic to me is the fact that some names here are some of the names I dealt with back in Fredericksburg. My new address is 5486 Rector Drive, Woodbridge, VA 22193. (Have some fun and use the satellite google map).

Well, the last week wasn't so good. Things were not going right in the end, but I did feel as though I finished my work in the White Oak Ward. I was able to say goodbye to people. I am glad that I was able to serve there and now I am glad I can serve here. There were special goodbye moments. I got to have a family home evening with a family and that was not on purpose. We had dropped by and they welcomes us in. It was great to be there. 

Transfers were hectic, but I now know where I am at. When I got here in Woodbridge, it snowed and things began to freeze. So, I was not able to bike for a while in part for that reason. I went walking and nearly a dozen times I almost fell and slipped. Only one time I did, but my bag cushioned the fall. We are having a lot more dinners here. We had dinner with a Ukrainian family, which to me was exciting. The husband was once Jewish, but he is now Mormon. So, I learned some Hebrew (I learned how to say river of water), though I have to work on pronouncing it. I am excited. Plus, for the new year, Sister Wilson (the mission president's wife) is putting forth what she is calling, "Fit for the Kingdom." In other words, she is putting on a mission-wide program to help us be fit. So, we earn points for working out, which goes to the zone and the zone that has the most points earns an extra Zone P-day. That, of course, does not mean I get an extra P-day. We got weighed. Now, I know I weighed 148 pounds before I left and while I was in Fredericksburg. The last time I weighed myself was probably in August of 2013. So, I have lost eight pounds if my memory serves me right. So, now I am at 140 pounds. It does not make sense to me, but it has happened.

When we were packing the trailer for the luggage and bikes. They took off my tire and for whatever reason, they unhooked the front brake. That took a while to fix.

With this new program and with the new year, I decided to wake up even earlier to do two things: (a) work out physically and (b) spiritually and mentally work out. I decided to do that to (a) be fit, (b) know scriptures, and (c) improve memory. Plus, I looked at the Word of Wisdom (the health revelation which mirrors a lot of what we know we should be eating and avoiding) again and made notes of a few things. Eat more vegetables, eat more fruit, eat grains, etc. What this means for me is that I am going to improve my health even more. It does not mean that I am going to be a vegetarian. I will still eat meat. I am limiting sweets and snacks, which means the time I will have dessert of any kind or anything like it will be at a member's house. That will be until the end of my mission when I go extremely cold turkey. I am keeping my health up.

My companion is Elder Frank from Colorado Springs, Colarado. We have been getting along fairly well. I am happy that to have another companion that likes Avatar. Just saying. . . So, he is a nice elder. He has only been here in the ward for one transfer, or six weeks. The weather went from snowing to the 60s, back down to a bizarre 16 degrees. In other words, it is cold. This entire zone is on bike, except the sisters and the zone leaders. I am living in a house with another set of missionaries. I make sure that the doors are locked, but it seems as though I am the only one that has studied serial killers and criminals and knows about safety. Just saying once again In a very sarcastic manner it's what I know can happen in this day and age. Next weekly planning session with Elder Frank I am going to mention our safety.

I am slowly adjusting to a bike. I think I will be here a while. I am excited to be here, even though there are hills that I have to bike. Next step in learning begins here.

Also, I want to wish you Merry Christmas! Today is Russian Christmas and I am happy to wish you a Merry Russian Christmas. The reason why it is Christmas is the fact that there, due to the split in the Catholic Church with the Eastern Orthodox, when the new Gregorian calendar came out, it took a while for the Eastern Orthodox to accept it. Something like that. So, they are two weeks behind.

All is well.


Elder S. Todd

December 31, 2013

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

The verdict is in. I am leaving White Oak, which is highly sad. There are a lot of good members here and it is hard to let them go. Plus, my first convert is here as well. It has been hard. I just knew on Sunday that I was going, despite how much I was hoping to stay. These last few days here will be saying good bye. Sunday, I said good bye to some people, especially the people that I was with when I got the phone call. Monday, was in part a nightmare. To be perfectly honest, we tried to repair my bike. We got the tire repair kit and repaired the tire, but putting it back together was a bit challenging. It ended up where something was off, which turned to be a washer in the wrong spot. 

I am really trying hard to say good bye to certain members, because I cannot say good bye to all. I am still working as well, so it is trying to balance it all. I had two good lessons yesterday as well. (Plus, I got a hair cut.) I joined someone's family home evening (this is a night where a family gathers together to have a spiritual lesson and some family fun), which was nice. Tonight, I get to say good bye to more people and the Lord's convert. Man, this is what I get for having a companion who is cursed. His companions stay with him for only one or two transfers. Oh well. 18 more months await.

Also, with yesterday, my bike lock fell on my foot and I thought I had broken it. Nope. At least, it just was bruised. And all I know about transfers is that I am going to a biking area. So, I know, I know, lock up my bike, know the serial number, be cautious, be safe. I know. Sorry to hear about Dad's finger (his dad was holding a dog biscuit bone and letting his dog take small bites until there was a small piece and one of the dog's canine teeth split his finger nail and caused him to bleed). My dog just wanted that piece plus protein. I was so happy that I was able to see her and that she still remembers me.(While using Skype on the internet we had his dog with us and when he would call her name she'd look at those speakers wondering what was going on.)  Day completed.

Christmas was great. I had a nice talk with the Hairs. I should tell you. When my trainer was being moved, they got us Subway as dinner. Brother Hair was surprised that I liked spicy food and was the one that got the spicy sandwich to which I said I am half Mexican. That took them by surprised. So, when we had another dinner with them (this time with Elder Longman), we had some Mexican food. Sister Hair told me, "I hope you like them. I know they won't be authentic." They tease me about it in good fun. 

But, Christmas. It was nice to talk to my sister. The connection was off, so she had a very deeper voice that slowly turned to the familiar Bria voice. And it was nice to talk to Grandma and Grandpa. Then, we went to the next person's house. We had technical difficulties with my companion's Skyping session, so we stayed a bit long. I got to spend time with their son, who is a senior in high school. He showed me his new pellet gun with which we had some fun. They have a pool, to which squirrels like to die in and they come back up frozen. One time, their son took such squirrel and hung up on a tree to see what would happen. On Christmas, we decided to go check up on it and it was gone. 

Then, we went to another family's house for dinner. It was fun; good to talk to them. Then, we went to the landlord and stopped by for a short time before we went back to the second home of the day. At that time, when we went back to the second house, the sisters were there, taking their turn. One of them was very loud and she was in the basement talking. They closed the door to give her more privacy, but she was still heard.

I had a unbeknownst last meal with a family on Thursday; it would be my last meal with the family. The wife is an awesome woman and can cook wonderful meals. I had some good conversations and scripture reading at that house. It was great to unknowningly have a last meal with them. I am happy that I will be able to say good bye. The past week we have been making cookie deliveries, which has been fun. We ended up staying longer than we had planned, which was great and awesome. Oh, the sister missionaries here got a brand new car, which my companion is so jealous about it while I could care less (yeah, 'cause he's leaving to a biking area). Well, on Sunday, we got a call from them, as my companion is the district leader, saying that they will be going home late for their car was stuck in the mud and they had to be towed out. My companion and I had went to help... to no avail. So, tow truck gets there and pulls them out. Then, the tow truck started to get stuck. It was hilarious, but it worked out. The tow truck was able to get out and the sisters were able to get home, finally.

And the third hour on Sunday went well. It was the last thing I could do for the entire ward . The last hurrah. It was about the Elder Sitati mission conference that we had a month and a half ago. People were excited for mission work... and I am being transferred. So be it.

All is well.


Elder S. Todd

December 23, 2013

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

Happy non-P-day! Our P-day is on Tuesday, but we are allowed to email.

Please do ask the mission president if at all possible for me to call Bria and Grandma.

Well, I wanted to wish you a happy spring here in Virginia. Why? The weather is whack! It turned to 70 degrees this past weekend and oh, it decided to rain. Earlier, as I had previously told you, we had an ice storm. I am not so sure about this weather. I was quite honestly expecting cold. And I was dreaming of a white Christmas. Not so sure now.

So, you are also doing fifth Sunday. Same here with the same topic (Member Missionary Work), although a different thing. I told you of the Elder Sitati mission conference we had. We are condensing that mission conference and what we did to 45 minutes. It will not be anything spectacular, but it will definitely be something to help the members. It will be exciting. 

I am starting to realize that I am OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) with time, or at least I am obsessive about time and am really sensitive to it.. In several cases, this past week when we went over time, I could tell and I start to get tied up. My companion is relaxed with time, albeit he is a good companion. But, we, well, ended up an hour late to a dinner appointment, which the person was totally fine with us being late. It was good thing we were late, because we found a new investigator and put her on a baptismal date. At the same time, we were extremely late and I was trying to tell my companion. Of course, I will give him the benefit, although I did tell him what time we had our dinner appointment.. 

Also, I am annoyed with last minute drops. For mission conference, we had an issue with our ride. One member called us and asked if we needed a ride, to which I confidently said, "Oh, we have a ride from this member." To which the member who called us told me, "The person who was going to give you a ride cannot and that is why I am calling." And that was the night before the conference.  We were able to find a ride, thankfully. Then, we were needed for service in unloading the bishop's storehouse (this is a building where food and other supplies are kept for the needy, it is not a Thrift Store) and where we were unloading was outside of our ward boundaries. We got a call at 10:20 before the day that we were supposed to help out and were told that we could not unless it was an emergency made by the bishop. Now, I respect my leaders and do enjoy their counsel, but I do like warning. We were able to help out, much to the relief of the Relief Society President (Relief Society is an charitable organization for women in each congregation) in our ward. But, yeah, I am starting to notice that I have issues.

The last paragraph really summed up most of my week. The only thing really left is the mission conference that we had for Christmas. There were a lot, a lot of musical numbers, but many spiritual thoughts. It was good to see some of the old district members of the MTC. I also ran into my trainer, Elder Meibos, and he asked me many, many questions about the area. It was quite enjoyable.

So, this week is going to be an interesting one. It is the time of the holidays. I will think positively and hopefully, people and members will let us in. Hey, at least Christmas and Christmas Eve are busy.

Cannot wait to talk (using Skype for a video phone call on Christmas). All is well!


Elder S. Todd