Believe You Can Bring Change

June 23, 2014

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,
I definitely expected the call from the former bishop (my parents received a call). I could not recall whether or not the current bishop of Powhatan was going to do something. But, I am glad that they did something and that you asked to be informed about our special investigator. 

 I am in the Appomattox Ward, which does indeed cover Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and other surrounding areas. The unfortunate thing is that we are confined to the two city limits, while the rest of the ward expands beyond that, due to the mileage limitations of 950. Yes, there are the poorer neighborhoods here. (I will not use the slang term, "ghettos," for Mrs. Salgado and for an avoidance of slang.) I know about my bike and other safety tips. Luckily, I am in a car. Speaking of safety tips, I am so excited. I get to train in the next district meeting about the section in the Missionary Handbook called "Physical and Temporal Well-Being." That includes my favorite subject of health and safety. I have plans on doing what I did for my Ted Bundy presentation and fake an injury.

My new address is (address withheld), Colonial Heights, VA 23834-1688. (There are two apartments and this is our mainstay.)  I got it off a box that was left in the apartment and it correlates with the apartment. I would not call this place a safe place to drop off packages. I have been wondering what to do for packages. I could (one) talk to the bishop or (two) have the UPS require a signature. The second option is what occurred in Powhatan. Whenever I had a package, they asked for a signature. But, that option can be rather difficult due to life as a missionary on the go.

I am now in this new area. Monday was filled with good byes. It is sad to leave an area and I actually felt like I was starting to get attached. A lot of things were happening and it felt like things were starting to build up. This is a cause of reflection for me. White Oak, I spent in six months. Prince William, three months, which is the same for Powhatan. I really do feel that I have helped build those areas. I put in my area a lot of effort and new ideas. I feel the Spirit confirms to me that is true. Things are now progressing in those areas. I heard in Prince William that one of our investigators actually came to church. Things were starting to happen when they otherwise seemed they would not. It is amazing to me that there is so much that has been going on since I left. I cannot imagine what will happen next.

Tuesday, we had breakfast with the bishop. It was the second to last goodbye (the last belonging to the driver). We get to transfers and I learn that I am going to Appomattox with Elder Avison and Elder Brown. Yes, to my own surprise, I am in a trio. Elder Brown is going home in a week from today (his schedule is off for he once was a Washington D.C. South missionary). It is hard being in trio. As much as I love my companions, one seems to dominate in taking charge and other tasks while the other follows and relies. Pretty much, I feel that I have to wait a week before putting in energy. Why? Well, this week was not the best, because not much happened. I have not a clue what is going on. Elder Brown is going home, so he is taking care a lot of things to prepare for his upcoming future. With that, we are pretty much stuck in helping him and also doing work. We cannot split up; we have to be in sight and sound of each other. Mind you, I am not complaining. There is a blessing in what may seem utter frustration. I am observing what is going on and coming up with ideas that can help this area. Not much is happening and the one that relies on others just goes and hopes that things work out. 
Elder Avison is a very dry humor person, who is very blunt. He puts it out there. My task for the transfers ahead with him are to smile. He does not smile and people often wonder what is wrong. Elder Brown is a humorous person as well. I cannot say much else, but he is planning to go into the Navy. 

Tuesday and Wednesday, Elder Brown went to the mission home to go to the temple. Meanwhile, I was Elder Avison and he introduced me to the area and some people. I got to see how he works. I find it important to find his strengths and utilize them. (The more I think about this, I feel like I am scheming, which makes me feel awful. But, I feel tested by the Lord and I am not trying to be full of pride. I am trying to figure out how to make this companionship go forward to help benefit the area.) Tuesday, I met a couple of members and a recent convert. Wednesday, I went to a less active and ended up meeting somebody else along with the person we were trying to see. That person, too, is a member. That member turned our visit into a game show, or so it felt. He asked me these different questions, such as "Who baptized John the Baptist," "What is the meaning of the seven stars and the seven golden candlesticks as spoken in Revelation," "What is the name of the woman at the well," etc. By attempting to answer his questions (I got the second question correct and I was the first of many to get it correct), it showed to the less active and this member that I love to learn. The member was happy that I smiled. We tried to see more people after that visit, had lunch, and saw another less active. It was quite fun to meet that less active, who is sick and cannot come due to illness. Racoons were chattering in his chimney. Dinner forgot about us and, because there was no food in the vacant (yet rented) apartment, all we ate was a spoonful of peanut butter. (Returning to the main apartment later, we ate dinner and, even later, realized there is actual food in the mainstay apartment.) We were going to have correlation, but the ward mission leader did not show up. He has not been showing up for quite a while, apparently. I have been warned about him, too. If he asks me where I am from, the correct answer would be God. If he asks me where I was born, the correct answer would be from my mother.

Thursday, I attended my first funeral on the mission. A member who had been sick had died before I arrived. We had other tasks that we needed to take care of afterward. 

Friday and Saturday, we took care of certain tasks that needed to be done. We tried to visit some people. One person, as we found out, was in the hospital and took an adventure to the hospital. We checked up on that person and made sure he was good. We gave him a blessing. 

Sunday, I was amazed. Imagine this: a sacrament meeting that is actually quiet. Usually, you have the occasional cries from kids. Not this time. It was quiet, though one kid ended up crying. You could actually hear the quiet and the person speaking. I paid no attention to it and then, the thought occurred, It is quiet here. It was perhaps the strangest thing. We again checked up on the person in the hospital. We checked up on a lady who is in a very bad situation. I hate doing nothing, but there is nothing that we can do. She recognizes that. Bless her heart.

Here I am, Monday. Energized, but tired. I am excited for the upcoming future. I have ideas, but I still have observations to make. I do plead for a letter soon. We are in a library- while, yes, nice- that does not like missionaries too much. There is a new library in Petersburg that requires a letter as proof of residence in this area. I sent a letter to Sean, because (one) I had to wish Sawyer a happy birthday for I was unable to get a card in time, (two) thank them for the picture of Reagan, (three) respond to their question, and (four) ask for a letter. I am going to have loads of fun in Appomattox.
All is well!
Elder S. Todd