Nearing My One Year Mark

June 30, 2014

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

I am in a state of utter disbelief. This is the very week. The week. You are indeed right. It was only a year ago that I left to Utah to the Missionary Training Center and then to Virginia. Now, it is a year left. I have to be honest. It doesn't make me happy. But, I will get to that.

I have been out more than Elder Avison by two transfers. Elder Avison is a wonderful, perfectly honest person. He bluntly states it as it is. It is a strength. I do believe that I will have a major growth with him. He is just as silent as I am and he does not smile as much. And it is just Elder Avison and I now. Elder Brown is gone; he has officially gone home. It is sad to see him go.

With Elder Brown leaving, he had a lot of things to take care of. I mean, he joined the Navy and has been trying to figure out ways to come back out here. (He had enlisted here, which means he will have to be in Virginia. His parents have yet to know about this plan of his.) It is the right decision for him (many blessings have been bestowed upon him). However, this week has been mostly bad. It is not entirely his fault, nor is it really his; it is just that he had a lot of things to take care of that took up the entire week. This coming week should be and is planned to be a week where we reestablish the work and contact with investigators.

With the Appomattox Ward, we cover Petersburg, Colonial Heights, and, the majority of our area, Dinwiddie County. With a budget of 950 miles, we cannot go far. Although this month, we currently have gone 112 miles over. I have a defense prepared in case of lectures arising. We are stationed at the Colonial Heights apartment, albeit we can transfer back and forth to the Petersburg Apartment. Only problem is that we have people to see in both areas and schedules and people do not mix. The idea of using the Petersburg Apartment is a great one, but is difficult to implement. We are limited to 20 miles per day and it is extremely hard to keep to that. There are certain difficulties. Tracting has to be done with caution; there are "safe" areas. Some finding has been done by going to the local mall by previous missionaries, but I automatically veto that idea. We do have an investigator there, but it is extremely difficult in my case to feel the Spirit. My brain goes for stimulation; noise, sound, pictures, and all of that just distracts me. There is a reason why I like quiet time, because otherwise, I would be terribly exhausted. There are issues arising, but as of now, it feels as though we are rebooting the area. We have been delayed a bit, but the work will go forward. I am happy to work here, because there are opportunities that are coming about.

Monday, it was a day of fulfilling tasks that needed to be done. At this time, we still had three. We were able to see a less active that day and help him out a bit. He is currently bedridden. 

Tuesday, we had lunch with a member. This member used to be in the Powhatan Ward. It was really fun talking about the people back in Powhatan. What I love about this ward is that I am close to Powhatan in boundaries and in certain members. We helped this member with fixing up his trailer's bathroom. (Yes, he lives in a trailer, but it is an awesome trailer.) We had dinner with a member that night as well. It was overfilling. That member gave us a personality test, which for me, hit it on the head. It was a "How Others See you" Personality Test. My result was, "Others see you as sensible, cautious, careful, and practical. They see you as clever, gifted, or talented, but modest. Not a person who makes friends too quickly or easily, but someone who's extremely loyal to friends you do make and who expect the same loyalty in return. Those who really get to know you realize it takes a lot to shake your trust in your friends, but equally that it takes you a long time to get over if that trust is broken." I have known this about myself and I know that this test really hit in the head. I remember taking another personality test for one of my psychology classes and talked about my having a martyr complex. It was pretty interesting to see that correlate with this test. After dinner, we talked with our investigator and we helped answer one of her questions.

Wednesday, I met the ward mission leader. I have no idea who the ward missionaries are as of yet and with all areas, nobody, but the ward mission leader and us show up for our meeting. Usually, we have correlation on Wednesdays, but this was not a correlation. I have been warned about our ward mission leader. So, when he asked where I came from, I actually surprised him by saying, "God." He thought I would say the prophet or my hometown. If I had said my hometown, I would have been lectured. I do not come from places. I reside in places. So, when he asked me where my parents resided, I told him, "Lemoore, California." Pretty much, I have to word my words carefully. Then after an introduction of myself, I was compelled by my companions to show my scriptures. The ward mission leader likes that I know my Bible. I am not so sure if that is a good thing with him. I feel like I am going to be toyed with and that is never fun. After that, he proceeded to explain about the Creation and his thoughts. After a while, my head started hurting. We tried talking about our people, but he wanted to talk about the Creation. We had an appointment afterwards with some members, which the ward mission leader attended with us. It was mainly for Elder Brown and his decision to join the Navy. I felt bad for him, because he barely got to speak and plead his case. After that session, the ward mission leader asked if there were any questions relating to the gospel. We got asked about the woman and the priesthood, specifically with the woman who got excommunicated. (We have been hearing all about it these couple days.) I was excited to finally be able to speak, but the ward mission leader continued to speak and helped explain it. All patience that I thought I had went out the window. I realized I am happy with speaking just a bit to put my two cents in, but when I am constantly trying to interrupt to say my part (seeing as he just kept on talking), it is frustrating. One thing I have always been sick of is people talking for me. I understand that I do not speak much, but I do say words and I am very careful of what I say. Mind you, I did not snap then, nor did I snap at all. I was just a bit frustrated afterwards.

Thursday, we stopped by a member's house. I believe we had dinner with them. But, they like to feed us on a regular basis, such as every Sunday if at all possible. They are an interesting family. 

Friday, we learned of new missionary changes. We now have to teach lesson 5, we are in charge of reteaching the lessons after baptism, and so on. I was quite surprised. We also had zone meeting, but a member needed help with moving. We simply asked and they let us go. The other two were so shocked; meanwhile, I was simply amazed at the new changes that were happening. So, we helped the member move and it was a nice good bye for them. 

Saturday, it was more things that needed to be done. 

Sunday, Elder Brown said his final good byes. I taught gospel principles. I felt like I did horrible. I had this spectacular idea that just went south. Of course, this idea was based on the amount of people, which I judged would be a lot based on the previous Sunday. As always, expect sudden changes. So, I slowly plowed through that hour, going off the top of my head on the chapter I assigned myself. Our investigator showed up that day. She has been investigating for a while and has had help from the members who recently moved. She has made decisions in her life that relate to the Church. Even more, she told the three of us she wants to be baptized after realizing the Book of Mormon is true. We do not have an official date, but she has plans. She wants the member who just moved to be there, because she promised that she would. Details are pending on that.
And so, I said good-bye to Elder Brown. It was fun. We have had similar mission experiences and similar family situations (of sorts). It was fun while it lasted. Elder Avison and I had a fun last week scaring him by jumping out of closets with metal doors. I tried duct-taping the bathroom door shut while he was in there to another door. The idea lasted until he was able to rip it open. It took a while and was mildly successful. I also scared Elder Avison by hiding behind a couch. I am going to have fun with Elder Avison, because just the way he is makes me laugh. I have not laughed in a very long time.

Now, I present to you, my summary of the year. This is my year in review. I am not really counting the MTC for much. While there were great moments, not much happened. The only big thing was our practice person who was an actual investigator and trying to figure out ways to actually help her progress. I loved White Oak and Fredericksburg. It is very historical, plus it is my first area. There were a lot of wonderful people. There were lots of good times and bad times. I look as it now as the Lord purging me; my faith grew in the light of Him. My testimony grew. I was ready to move forward with life. By the time I left, I helped see some miracles and build the area to suitable stance. I was able to see one person be baptized, but as I have now seen with another person that I taught, I will never know the effect that I have had on people's lives. I loved the people of Prince William and Woodbridge; the condensed nature and city of Woodbridge, I am not much of a fan. After growing faith and being purged, I learned to hold fast. Whether it was being on bike, dealing with the bike, or dealing with people constantly dropping us, I learned to endure. I am glad to see how much I was able to make it go forward. I heard of miracles happening after I left, but not much else after that report. I loved Powhatan. It was consistency of White Oak, only more country and spread out. It progressed nicely as well; I have of yet no report. I helped build these areas and leave my mark. The Lord's work has moved forward and I am happy to serve. I have grown so much and it has been only a year. I remember thinking that I would be on vacation here without the stress of school. No, the Lord has other plans and I have been more stressed, more exhausted, and more happy, all with the miracle of not having burnout. (Funny thing is, I had nightmares where I was behind on schoolwork and I wake up, thinking I have to catch up.) I have no idea what is going to occur this last year. It sucks that it is my last year; the reality is, it is. I would honestly love to stay. I know less of my immediate future than I do of the future. Whatever the case, I know that this year I need to build confidence. I am looking ahead instead of looking behind. I have finally forgiven myself of so many things. Now is the time to build confidence in myself and my decisions. Now is the time to prepare for my future. If anything at all, I have to prepare. I have received promptings and it is made obvious by God, especially seeing as I was with the process of Elder Brown's last moments in the field.

All is well!

Elder S. Todd