A New Leaf

. . .become even as my friends
 in days when I was with them,
traveling to preach the gospel
in my power . . .
Doctrine and Covenants 84

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

Dear Parents, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

I have received the Valentine's Package a couple of weeks ago. I forgot to mention that. Thank you for the package.

Yeah, the weather has been bi-polar. It seems nice one day, then it is extremely cold. Then, it snowed recently. Then, there was freezing rain. It has been so much fun driving in it.

With Elder Taylor, I am not sure. The day after splits he seemed a lot happier. But, by the end of the night, whatever it was was back. I cannot explain it. Despite this, he did work a bit more and we were able to get some work done. I talked to Elder Henstrom, who had Elder Taylor as a companion, about what he did, which he said the sleeping part at least happened. Elder Henstrom said he did not have much of a work ethic. Well, now that he is in Woodbridge, hopefully that will get him a bit more motivated. Yes, I did talk to Elder Henstrom recently, because I went back to Tappahannock this weekend. That good news is to follow.

Monday, Elder Taylor said good bye to Mama, because I suggested that he should. We helped a family that were in the midst of moving. Our dinner was supposed to help, but they had to cancel on them and, in some ways, us. They did drop off McDonald's to us, so it was not a total cancellation. At least we received food for which I was grateful. Elder Taylor finished packing that night, late at night. 

Tuesday, we headed, with another set of missionaries, to Cafe Rio. I did not get anything, because I knew we were going to have dinner with our Greek lady. A member paid for the other three and gave us a frequent diner card. Cafe Rio is miniature Utah. From there, we headed to transfers. 

My new companion is Elder Tanner Jensen, first name added due to the multitude of Jensens that are in the mission. Elder Jensen was over in Charlottesville in the country with nobody really to proselyte. His companion was going home that transfer, so he was trunky (thinking of home). Elder Jensen has been out for six months, so he is very zealous at this point to get the work done. I asked him, "Do you like to work? Do you plan? Do you tract?" He answered yes!

As we were leaving transfers, we were talking about what we were like. I told him that in high school I did two main things: study and watch television. He asked me what television shows that I watched. It was the perfect opportunity. I could then put him to the ultimate test of whether or not we could be companions. I stated, "Oh, I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender." He got excited and asked, "Have you seen, 'The Legend of Korra?'" I stated that I have only seen the first season, which is the only season he has watched too, though I know what has occurred in the second season and some things in the third season. So, yes, I do think we will get along and work together. We dropped off his luggage, rescued another set of missionaries, and took them home. We talked when we returned home and discussed some ideas. I told him about Goochland and its issues. I told him about our investigators, whom we only had seen one this past week. People are sick or not home. That night, we had dinner with our Greek lady. Her food is not bad; it was reheated, because she cooked it the day before. I enjoyed it, though my companion was more iffy on the food. It is rather unfortunate, really. As I have explored her teaching record (since she is a less active), I have read comments other missionaries have put down. She has been decried as "crazy" and her food "rough on the stomach." It bothers me a bit, probably because I think she is a wonderful lady, despite being less active.

Wednesday, we worked on the area books. I have been trying to combine the two area books. It has been a slight bear of a challenge. Both area books are thick with old names and formers. We have been weeding it. If they say they are not interested on multiple occasion, then chances are they are not interested. We have done this work on multiple occasions. The ward has been focusing on part member families, so we, not having access yet to the ward clerk, drew upon an old list of part member families to try and go see. We did go tracting on this day, which was great, though nobody answered. We are definitely in a finding mode, which happens to be a specialty of mine. I'll get to that subject in a moment. That night, we had dinner with the new elders' quorum president. And after Bible Study, we had correlation over the phone with our ward mission leader. From these two events, I noticed that the ward is painfully aware of what we do and our actions. They know the rules; they know what we are supposed to be doing. It is important for us to do all that we can to do what is right and to build trust. So, our tasks for the transfer is to build trust with the missionaries, find and contact part-member families to teach, and help less actives to be spiritually self-reliant.

Thursday, we worked at the health center. Mama was at Bingo, which is a first for me. It is good to see her out and about. She was happy to see her new son. Elder Jensen went through orientation and then we helped with Bingo. We contacted one part member family that night. The man, who as far as I can tell, is less active and he has attempted to help his wife, who leans more on the side of being "Wicken." He is a nice man, a bit of a hunter. He has ferrets that roam around; one of them tried to take the car keys. He simply told us that his wife is not really interested, though we can try hanging around and try to connect on common ground. It is a potential idea, but I do not think it is the best. 

Friday, we did four hours of weekly planning. It was great to formulate a plan for not only lessons, but what we need to do to help this area. I do believe that the work looks promising; we just need to put in the effort. We have been helping the bishop with his questions that he has as well as the tasks that he gives us. We have one unfulfilled mission that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible. Other than that, we have been on top of things. We had dinner that night with our ten year old investigator and his recent convert mom and brother. We taught the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to him with cups. It is evident that he understands the concepts and it was taught to him before. As his mother says, he needs to make the right decisions. We plan on giving a Book of Mormon reading chart to help him be more accountable. 

Saturday, we went out to Goochland to fulfill one of the bishop's assignments. The lady we talked to is not a member and from her teaching records, she has lost interest. We got what we needed to get from her. She kept on talking about her problems and animals. It was interesting. We left and headed home in order to get ready for the baptism in Tappahannock. The single mother investigator's son was going to be baptized. You might want to message Elder Meibos to tell him for he did find her and talked to the son. Hopefully he remembers. Anywho, it was a great baptism. Another missionary, besides Elder Henstrom, came down to see the baptism. He is in Prince William, my old area. He got a ride from a member who looked familiar. I did not interact too much with this member, because he was away at the time I was there until my last week. He recognized my name and was like, "Oh, hey Elder Todd, you might not know me. I am so and so while you were in Woodbridge. You snow shoveled my driveway while I was gone for my wife and kids. Thank you for that."

The baptism was great. The son was quite happy to be baptized and bore testimony at the end. He stated that he always felt a part of this church and coming here, something clicked for him, though he knows not what. I am so happy for him. The talk on baptism was done by another kid around his age. He asked the son what are some bad things he has, wrote it on a chalkboard, and then showed that by baptism, everything will be wiped away. After baptism, it is a lot harder to erase, to which the kid demonstrated by making marks on a piece of paper with a pen. The son retorted, "Unless you burn it." Or as the kid said back, "That is true, but you can also use white out."

Afterwards, we headed to the members' upstairs. The wife was like, "Oh, it was so good to see my sons." It seems I have also been adopted by her and her family as well. I am adopted. Everybody, but I and her, went downstairs to play pool. I talked to her, just like old times. I will tell you what I told her. I have had a lot of, if I may say, difficult work. Any kind of missionary work can be difficult. One of the things that I have noted is that I find, I help teach, I help people progress, and then I move on to the next area. I never really see the whole progress from point A to point B, though I am a big part of that transition. It has been difficult in that way, because you never know what will happen to the person you are teaching and you would love to see them reach point B. But, I have seen, especially in Tappahannock, a lot of people enter in the waters of baptism. I often am never sure what I really did in Appomattox, because the people that I did find fell away quickly and never progressed that far. I guess the thing that I did help with was the elders' quorum president, especially when he lost his two counselors as quickly as they came. It has been a wonderful work and I am not yet finished. I have four months to go, as sad as that is. Right now, it is a matter of getting back in the saddle and pressing forward. It is tiring, because I am tired. I am satisfied, because I bear testimony of Jesus Christ. I help people be happy, truly happy. I am happy to see others happy. Well, I do not know all that I said, but it goes something along those lines. I have worked miracles by the power and grace of God; and I have seen miracles done, which has been my greatest blessings.

Sunday, we sought out part member families. Not much else happened. Oh, and we were blessed with a dinner appointment when we had none. Which, is another brief humorous note. I have seen the fulfillment. Remember how in the MTC I was prompted to eat fish, because I would be eating fish in the field? In all my areas, I never had as much fish (in fact I hardly ever had fish) as I do here. I am tired of fish, but I grin and bear it.

Tout va bien!


Elder S. Todd

P.S. Glad to hear you are well.

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