Monday, December 26, 2011

Elder Aaron Johnson

Dear Family,
Since i just barely talked to you yesterday i will keep this brief! First off it was really good to talk to all of you! I really enjoyed hearing you voices! Sounds like things back home are going really well. It was fun to speak with you! It was the best Christmas present ever! I really liked all the ties that i got. Thanks for them! I am actually wearing Margot and Robs tie that they sent me. it was funny cause when I came out with their tie on a missionary told me "wow elder johnson that tie reminds me of DR. Mario!!!" It was pretty funny cause this is a tie from Robs mission and he called it his medicine tie and when he was feeling down he would wear that tie and it would make him feel better. Its true - it looks like a bunch of pills on this tie...awesome!!
Well Rebecca got baptized on Friday and will be confirmed this upcoming Sunday (she went out of town and wasnt able to make it to church)...Ty was baptized this past Saturday and was confirmed by elder Wilson. I got to baptize both of them which was really cool!! I was really nervous and i almost dropped Rebecca! but at the last minute i grabbed her by the back of the jumpsuit and with my strong unbelieveable rippling muscles saved the day (that last part was made up....but i really did almost drop her) Ty's baptism went alot smoother! afterwards i asked him how he felt...he said it just felt like he had a clear mind and everything made sense to him. Then he told me about his dad and how he wasn't really around for him when he was growing up...which forced Ty to live with his grandma (who is very religious in the navajo beliefs) then when he was older his dad came back into his life and helped him even more to accept the navajo beliefs. And then when his dad passed away 5 months ago from colon cancer and we came to his door...he said everything has just fallen into place. It was cool to see him recognize how the Lord has prepared him to accept the restored gospel! He said that "my dad would accept this too!" It was really cool to hear him bear his testimony. I feel very blessed to be able to be apart of his conversion. I love that family. they are awesome.
Well this morning we did our usual Monday call in to president taylor...and he told us that we finished out the year with 1024 baptism for 2011!!!! and he is anticipating that 2012 will also be a very strong and successfull year also. I am grateful to be serving here in this mission...i wouldn't have it any other way. i love phoenix arizona!
Well i will let you go. but thanks for making my Christmas on the mission a great one!!! Love you all and wish you happy new year.
Love Elder Aaron Johnson

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Elder Litton

Nick in Scott's room - they're related now, you know.

Oh hey fellow participants in this here journey we call life....
So... crazy week. BIG changes and BIG blessings. A week of suprises.... bitter sweet.

First off... i recieved a call from President Pingree on friday. It started out as a normal advise for my district for transfers kind of call... He was worried about a few people and a few assignments but we talked about things and got stuff worked out. I asked about a few of our investigators and some of the problems or issues getting in the way of baptism it was good. Right when i was about to tell him hasta luego he was like.... there is one more thing. I need you to be a Zone Leader. Yep... that was a shock. Im training a new missionary right now and with the new program we were pretty much promised that we would be together for 2 transfers so i was 99 percent sure i was staying... i guess the Lord had a different idea. It was a hard assignment to say yes too... i mean.. i love my greenie companion and we have like 10 baptisms coming up... the area is bumpin. I love the branch, love the people here and was sure i was staying to finally see the fruits of all my hard work come to pass.... i worked sooo hard here. I sort of froze when he said that and really didnt know what to say. I told him he was asking for something really hard... i really wanted to stay to see all this play out. All these people getting baptised know me... i felt like i needed to be there for them. So i explained all of that to him and he was like i need you to do this. We are opening up a new zone (pretty much a mega zone with 2 combined...HUGE) and i need you there to do it. I feel very strongly that this is where you need to be. I know President Pingree and i know he really prays about these things until he receives confirmation from the Lord. So well... i accepted. Ya.. it was hard. My companion will now be in a trio (a group of three missionaries) with the other spanish missionaries in Conroe and they will just combine the areas. The good thing is i really do trust him.. he is an amazing missionary.. still working on spanish obviously but the other spanish missionaries that he will be with will have his back... they are way legit too. So at least im leaving all these people in good hands... still worried about it but the Lord knows what happening way better than i do... as i prayed i just felt him telling me..."Trust Me". So.. i will. Im going to Houston...the city. Gangs... Guns... graffiti... and lots of apartments im i guess im supposed to be leading a mega zone down there. No idea what the Lord was thinking when he made that decision... haha. I just gonna do what ive been best at my whole mission... "Fake it 'till i make it". We will see how that works out.

Anyways... enough of that and right to the good stuff. So... starting with Sandy. Its been a crazy week with her. She changed her own date to sooner... for the 25th of this month. Then the next day she wasn't nearly as excited.... then she got sick... than this than that... Roller Coaster... but finally knowing she was ready just planned for someone to come up for the interview anyway. She did not think she was ready... so nervous. Doubting herself. But we helped her get to church and during one of our classes had her interview. I have never been so nervous for someone on my whole mission... or even longer. I was just waiting outside praying... it was long. i heard bit and pieces but didnt know the verdict... well.... SHE PASSED!!! we were soo stoked. I have never worked harder to help someone with something in my whole life... especially something this important. I was just happy... so happy for her. We were taking her back to class with her little baby and she stoped me right before and was like... i need to tell you something.... i want you to baptise me. So im coming back next sunday to baptise Sandy... Im so stinkin stoked that it all worked out. Now we just got to make it all happen this week. Well.. i only got a few days... just got to keep her strong. Satan works hard in this super important week... got to keep him out of there.

We also had 3 other interviews this week... Diego, Gabby, and Rafael. Dulce Marias kids. There solid... especially Rafael. They all passed and will all be baptised next Sunday also. Im so excited for them. They have all told us they have noticed such a change in there home... They say it just feels good. Thats called the Gospel of Jesus Chirst. Its a good train... get on it. I love that family soo much. The Mom, Dulce Maria, is what you would call one of the elect. Just so excited to be a member of Christs church... telling all her friends... im a mormon. Love it.

Also Consuelo has a date for October 9th to be baptised and Margarit is still moving along to be baptised also on the 9th. More good things. Tons of others on the way...But im leaving, oh well.

Cecilia finally had her appointment with the Lawyer... we worked so hard to make that happen. She just needs to qualify for a few things and she will be divorsed in about 3 months. Praying it all goes smoothly. Now her Boyfriend Luis is getting a lot more interested... i think this might be how it was meant to be.

It was supposed to sort of be confidential that i was leaving because were supposed to find out on Tuesday but i told Sandy and well i didnt think it through and we had a branch party and well... now everyone knows. They asked me to bear my testimony in Church and the whole 9 yards... it was hard. Cecilia started crying... i had to hold back tears, haha. She prayed in one of the classes and thanked our Heavenly Father for me because i brought her the gospel... Man. Best paycheck i could have ever got. Sandy almost started crying and well... im sad to leave. I love these people. Its amazing how much this gospel can change these so called strangers lives.... and now i can say there some of my closest friends. Love this branch. Worked my tail off to help it grow... even had missionary meetings with all the members so that they could start to help make their little branch into a Ward... i guess its not a little branch anymore. We had a Fiesta Latina on saturday... Way fun and so good for all the investigators we brought. Everyone brought food from the different countries (Mexico, Honduras, Puerto Rico....ect)... so good. I love food. Especially this food. Not to good on the body but whatever.

Anywho... wow, long email. Lots of random stuff. Lots of stuff happening. I dont know how this next week is going to turn out... probably really busy. To whoever read this whole thing you must really care about me. Thanks. haha. Yall have a nice one.

Elder Litton

Elder Pinnock

Another week has gone by like dust in the wind again. Speaking of dust, this week has been super windy and dusty which has made my shirt collars the dirtiest they have ever been.

Anyway, this week has been really neat. We helped the other missionaries with two baptisms this past Sunday and we are excited because we should be having one baptism this week too. Guillermina is doing great and is super excited to be baptized, she is the perfect investigator. We have found some good new people too. We had to drop a few people this past week too because they just don’t do anything. It’s sad that they just won’t progress in the gospel.

The members are great to work with. Brother Marcos fell off a ladder and landed on his head and has this huge gash with stitches and everything. The stitches were done terribly. He has a hard time remembering stuff. We visited him a couple of times this week but he forgets that we even visit him. He has a good attitude about everything though and we call him Carlos just to make him think he has forgotten his name. The doctors say that the brain problem is only temporary and that he should be as good as new in a few weeks.

I love being a missionary, you get to serve people and do good things all day. Teaching, finding, sweating, studying, serving and praying a ton. It all seems way too normal now and I am really scared to even think about where I am going to be in a year from now. I don’t think I will be able to stop being a missionary without feeling sick inside. It is kinda scary how life can change.

Elder Treyden Johnson


Well whats up everyone I just want you to know I miss you all and love you all ha! This week was one for the record books of elder Treyden Johnson. Elder Kuliker from the quorum of the 70 came to our mission for a mission tour, and It was one of the most spiritual experiences of my life. On sunday night we had only a few zone leaders meet with elder K and our misssion president at the mission home. Elder K had such a spirit about him where I just felt at peace, not scared like I didnt know everything about the work or my zone, but just at peace. I felt the saviour's love through him and I really found out he is a representative of Jesus Christ, and even he is trying his hardest. We talked about simple things like just getting our investigators to kneel in prayer with us every lesson and having them say it. Something so simple you think every missionary would do this. We found out less then half of our missionaries do this, so now we know what to do. We are just focusing on the basics, having our investigators pray, read, and go to church. I felt the spirit so strongly mainly because of the Elder K's love and being with my mission president again. Sometimes we all feel we aren't doing enough, or we feel a weight on our shoulders, but we need not to worry. If we are trying our very hardest and living right the lord will do the rest. Its so simple how we can feel the spirit everyday and everyting will be ok, is my kneeling pray twice a day, read the book of mormon, and church once a week. I know that to be true. We then had an awesome zone conference with our zone the capitol zone and the albany zone, and my good friend from SLC elder Pututoa is the zone leader there. He went to east highschool, and we spent a lot of time together building each other up and talking about salt lake city ha. The zone conference was great, and I learned many new things to implement into the work. That night we had a lesson with Betty Q who did have a baptismal date, and told us she wanted to hold off. I remembered what Elder K said and we had her kneel in prayer with us and just ask God what to do right then and there. The spirit testified to her, and it was the best lesson I have ever had. We just taught very simply and clearly and that is where the spirit does the rest.

Any way my big tall canadian comp is going home next week, I might get a homie for a companion elder Nigeren who is a short skier like me. I wonder if we are meant to be haha? But we have three baptisms coming up, life is great, its raining a lot, the zone is great, and today we are going to a driving range to hit some golf balls!! haha Ok love you all, and Im sorry if this email was very sloppy, i was hustling! Love Elder J

Didn't you just love conference. Oh man i loved it so much it was great, we watched it with a ton of people... On monday we went to silver falls a little out of Salem.. We went with our really good friend skylar coombs from the singles ward, it was awesome! That night we were in our shirts and ties and we helped some member paint this non member ladies home. We tried not to get paint on us ahah, and we taught this lady the gospel. Guess what? She said she wants to join the church ha how bout that huh? Sweeeeet. Zone leader council was long and kinda fun yesterday, from 9 am to 6 pm in eugene. A lot of instruction, lunch, an activity, talking, testimonies, and talking to president and sister young... Times are great, im healthy and went running this morning, eating good, clothes are haggard and im an old missionary now haha. Well I miss and love you, live right, pray, give service, pay tithing, spread the gospel! k love you so much

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Elder Estrada

Well this week was rather great, we were able to teach a sum of 42 lessons and were able to find 19 new people to teach. 42 is the alltime misison record for lessons taught in a week. The prior record was 41 which was set by Elder Jimenez(the one who wrote Johanna) and his companion Elder Ramirez, and the record before that was set by Elder Rhead and I at 40. I know its not about numbers or anything like that but its just quite interesting to see how the mission level can raise.The best part of it all is that we had tons of fun while doing so. Well one of the miracles that we had this week happened yesterday. Well sunday morning we did splits to go and pick up investigators, Elder Harris picked up Mercy, who will be baptized this weekend, well when they got to church, Elder Harris and the accompaning member where teaching her and they asked her if it be alright to announce her baptism on saturday, she said, yeah about that. She went on to explain that she was thinking of delaying her baptism because of problems that she has been having with her boyfriend and how he is just not too great of a man to her so things where left at that for the moment. I had no clue what was going on because i had shown up late because the investigator that i had gone to pic up was a bit slow. So i came into the sacrament meeting a few minutes late and there where no seats next to Elder Harris the member and the investigator they had brought so i sat down with the member who accompanied me and some other people. So during the last part of sacrament meeting her 2 year old son fell and smashed his head on the wall and was about to start screaming so my companion to save things grabbed the child and ran him out to the hall so that he wouldn´t shout in the meeting (the mother is on crutches so thats why he grabbed the child), all this happened in a split second so i hadnt even realized it yet. Well she than started getting up and I saw that my companion was leaving the meeting so I followed aswell. When I got out in the hall turns out there was a member there so Elder Harris had handed the child to him and was coming to go get the mother and I. So finally we where all in the hallway and the child was just yelling his guts out. After a few moments he calmed down again, well we started talking and found it a right moment to go and show her the baptismal font, the member that was in the hallway accompanied us. Well when we showed her the font, we had a great lesson with her talked about the blessing the Holy Ghost is to us in our lives and the blessings we can benefit from by having this gift. Well sacrament was ending and we had to get her to class and so we decided to take her into a room and finish with a prayer and have her ask God what to do. We went to a room and vefore we started praying i felt inspired to tell her to ask God those specific things and to promise her that if she did so, and listened, she would recieve and answer to her prayers before the church meetings where over. So she prayed and we parted to our corresponding classroom, she stayed in the guarderia with her son so that he can get used to the other children there and the teachers. Well after that second hour we went to Elders Quorum and we did our "missionary minute" which is a time they give us to tell what is going on, have a member share their testimony of when they have helped us in the week and ask members for times of avelability. After our missionary minute we went back to our seats and than i looked out in the hallway and i saw a spanish lady there looking at things in the hall. I didnt recongnize her so I told my companion and we went out and talke to her and gave her a tour of the chapel. Well after that we decided to scare the little kids in the guarderia and see how Mercy was doing and so we went to the window outside and looked into the guarderia and said boo, the children laughed and Mercy came to the window to talk. She told us she had talked to her boyfriend on the phone and had told him some things and well she had felt good about it. She said she had sort of gotten an answer, she felt she was on the path. So my companion said, Mercy, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized this weekend? and she said yes. To me that was the biggest miracle and it involved other little miracles to make that big one happen, I truly am glad to be able to have the spirit with us and guide us and tell us the things we must say and promise the things we must promise if necessary. Trully there are lots of miracles happening everyday and I am greatful to see and be part of them they help me grow stronger and stronger day by day. Sorry this story was so long, now i dont have time to report on anything else but hope all is well.
Much love Elder Estrada #1
oh there is a photo included, its the tribute to the virgin, this whole past week was fiestas here to her.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Elder Ward

 These past couple weeks have been full of really great, really rewarding experiences. I have felt immensely blessed since the end of July, as seemingly miracle after miracle has been coming our way.
On Sunday July 31, one of our investigators got baptized. It was really great to see Sister Tintin finally commit. We have been working with her for a while, and she has had her share of ups, and downs. But, she finally put her doubts and fears aside and committed to go forward. After she was baptized she bore a great testimony. It was kind of all over the place, and you could tell it was her first time doing something like that, but you could tell it was so sincere. She was glowing with the spirit, and it was great to hear her try and explain what she was feeling, only being able to say "it feels warm." She is very young, 23, and has a lot to learn, but she has that confirmation of the spirit and that is what is most important. We were also asked to play the musical number at the baptism. I played the guitar, and Elder Cheung and I sang Sweet Hour of Prayer. Apparently we were a hit because we are singing at Sister Sheryl's this Sunday too...
On August 6, Sister Lida got baptized. She was very prepared from the beginning. She was looking for change, and recognized quickly that baptism would help her move forward in life, to forgive, forget, and be forgiven herself. As far as investigators really understanding the miracle of baptism she seemed to understand it best of all. She spent a long time praying before the service, and seemed to always have her head bowed in prayer during any spare moment she found leading up to the actual ordinance. She told us that it was everything she hoped for. I'm thankful that the power of the Savior's Atonement has the power to cleanse us and help us start over again. We all need a fresh start, and we can get it anytime we truly repent. The spirit is really impressing the joy and peace that a fresh start can bring with each baptism I get to see.
This week has been full of mission tour. Elder Watson, and Elder Gong of the Quorum of the Seventy, and counselors in the Asia Area Presidency were training our mission about how to recognize and follow the spirit this week. The office staff met with Elder Watson on Monday, half of the missionaries came in for the "Mission Tour" on Tuesday, and The other half on Wednesday. Elder Cheung had to translate so we were able to go to both 7 hour sessions. It was really amazing to be trained and taught by general authorities. Each time I was in the same room as them there was a special spirit present. One thing Elder Gong shared with us that has stuck with me was about "being quick to observe" (Mormon 1:2) there are very many things in the world that call for our attention, and if we are not quick to observe the thing that is most important can go completely unnoticed. He then said the spirit do not speak loudly, we have to listen and observe carefully to feel it, but WHEN we feel it we will know it, and we will never forget it. It was a good reminder to me to step back and focus on the more spiritual side of things, and I have noticed a huge difference even though it has just been one day.
I love you all and hope you are well and happy!
Here are some pictures from the baptisms the first one is Sister Tintin, and the second is Sister Lida

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Elder Stringham and friends

Steve just sent me a picture of Megan Morgan, Lindsay Stephens and Steve.  They were visiting a friend in Huntington Beach and ran into Steve at an early 4th of July celebration.

Elder Andrew Menlove

Aloha! Or should i say Malo e lelei?! 
Without a doubt, this has been the craziest, most stressful, most rewarding week of my mission! I don't even know where to begin....
Monday and Tuesday i spent most of the time packing and saying goodbye to people. It was a bummer to leave Kauai. I truly love the people there, and the work was incredible. Kapa'a is doing way better than it has for years-July is going to be incredible for Elder Miller! I jumped the plane on Wednesday morning and headed back to the rock for transfer meeting. It was a tough to go back to the hustle and bustle of Oahu-there are WAY to many people on this island. Anyways my new companions are Elder Nawatu and Elder Mafi. These dudes are awesome! Elder Nawatu is from Fiji, and Elder Mafi is straight off the boat from Tonga. They're both hilarious and hard workers.  I'm back in the Honolulu Zone, but President totally changed it since i was there. We've got some big challenges here. About half the zone is new greenies, and the other half pretty new to both the mission and the area. President had a special assignment for us-we are whitewashing the Kahala Ward (the Cloward's ward and President's ward), and covering the Honolulu Tongan Ward! Holy Cow! The Kahala ward is also the American SIgn Language Ward, so i am learning both ASL AND Tongan! I can sign my name in ASL and say a little bit in Tongan but it's totally nuts. We are also pretty much homeless. Our pad has MAJOR plumbing issues and we cannot use the bathroom. We've been sleeping at other Elder's houses until we get a new place. Both the Wards are great-we went to about 7 hours of church yesterday. It's been really challenging to whitewash a new area but we have seen many miracles just the the past few days. The Lord is guiding us and helping us and that is all we need. 
Happy Fourth of July! Brother Cloward had a huge party at his house on Saturday and it was the Tongan Ward Conference yesterday! I walked in to find TWO PIGS sitting on the table! They don't eat till they're full here, they eat till its all gone and everyone hurts! So much for my working out in Kapaa. 
I don't have much time to write but i love you all and wish you the best. CTR!
Ofa Atu,
-Elder Menlove

Elder Treyden Johnson Happy 4th!

Well its getting hotter and hotter here in eugene, and it feels great to get a little sun and not be in the rain all the time. This last week has been pretty amazing, and the lord has blessed us so much. My new companion who I am training is Elder Bradham from Atlanta Georgia. He is a really smart guy, out here for the right reasons with his head on straight. He is down to work hard, and have fun like myself. Right from the get go Him and I have been seeing some blessings when it comes to the work. We found two families, the Kellys, and the Freemans, who are less active with unbaptized children. With sister Kelly we have been teaching her and her son Dieter for the past week and they came to church last sunday. Sister Kelly loved being back, and her son Dieter has a baptismal date for July, we cant wait. Sunday was amazing, there were 8 investigators at church and we sure had our hands full. This gentleman John Green who we have been working with for ever finally came to church, and is reading the book of mormon. The whole Washington family came to church, and the mom Katie told her husband at church that she wants to work on getting baptized, we were so stoked! Also the Stapletons came to church, and I had a wonderful talk with Andy Stapleton man to man, and It was way spiritual and we are great friends. Andy is getting re-baptized then we are going to baptize his wife and kid, so we have been teaching them a lot about eternal families and getting them to the temple. Working with each of these individuals has shown me how much God loves each and every one of us. I look at all the people we work with, and try and help, and I realize I have a sincere love for each and everyone of them, and I can't even fathom how much more love God has for us. 
         Ok this was the miracle of the week. The other day, i was thinking of a lot, like honestly and the spirit of the lord hit me so strong. I just realized how lucky i was to have a family, and the knowledge of the gospel. In prayer i started to plead with the lord and I got way emotional. I was asking where to go, how to find more people who need this message. Honestly pleading. I received two distinct answers in my thoughts. I heard the words.. "Just go and do", and then "Marcola".  Marcola is a town twenty minutes out of eugene, that is in our ward boundries. I have been wanting to check it out for a while. So marcola it was, on saturday we set aside some time to run up there and follow the spirit. As we got to marcola we parked on a street, and also we had a map of the town. We prayed and in the prayer i asked god where on the map should we go. Right when the prayer was over, my eyes were drawn to queen street on the edge of the map. We knocked a few doors where we were at, but then headed over there. We knocked everydoor on queen street with much faith and diligence, and nothing. I thought thought we came to that street for a reason so we stuck around. We were about to leave, then right across the main street of queen street we saw a house on stilts by a river? We were thinkin, should we knock it or just leave? We knocked it, and Mom what I tell you is true. We knock, and a little girl answers, but runs around the house. She brings out her mom, and we start chatting a bit about who we were and our message. Another teenage girl came out and said she has been talking to missionaries since she was like 8? As we were trying to pull the pieces together the father came out. I thought he was going to shew us away, but once i brought up that we were known as the mormons, he said hey im mormon too! We were like yeah? thats awesome. this guy's name was jimmey, and he told us he was been trying to find missionaries to come up to marcola. He hasnt been to church in years, and there family doesnt have money to get down to the valley to church. He said, he was like lost? Then he said yeah, my two kids are baptized but my other two are not, and I want them to be baptized, and my wife to be baptized as well so we can go to the temple. I look at my comp with a dropped jaw! We knew we were led to this family. Jimmy went on by telling us he has been trying to teach his wife but couldn't so we set up a time to meet on wednesday! Mom the spirit is real, God doesnt tell us exactly where to go. He doesn't hand things to us, but he leads us, and it is up to us if we want to continue to seek what he has in store for us. Always seek, and find out what god wants you to find. Oh and yesterday haha, there was this really drunk lady who came running up to us, asking us if we were virgins. We tried to revert the conversations to more teaching her about the gospel, and it got way serious. She like started to trust us so much, and told us like everything! I dont know if it was the spirit telling her to tell us or the alcohol talking haha. She told us even though she was drinking she wanted to change, and for us to teach her. We have a lesson with her tonight!
           Things are going great, and I am still loving this area and my companion. Eugene is still radical, and I hope I can stay in this area for ever haha.  Love you all!
Elder Treyden Johnson

Monday, June 13, 2011

Elder Estrada

Nick saw Jose at a mission conference. Don't they look great?!

although they both say they've gotten fat

Monday, June 6, 2011

Elder Ward

My very first facial Yay!!

Sister Flora's baptism

  This morning, April 28, I got a call from president Chan.  That always starts your heart beating fast!  He has called me to be the new Distribution Coordinator for the mission.  Tonight I will pack my things and tomorrow morning the APs will come pick me up to go to the mission home so I can start training.  I don't know exactly all it entails, but I do know that form Monday to Friday I will be in the mission home doing office work, Saturday and Sundays I'll be in International proselyting, I get to drive, I will live in the temple and I'll become a District Leader!  I have mixed feelings about this as I will miss the people in Aberdeen, but I'll go where the Lord wants me to go.
   The first week in the office has been pretty crazy!  We had to run all over Hong Kong to get my drivers license and check out some apartments.  On Satuday i did my first day of international missionary work, which is completely different from Chinese work.  Most of the people we talk to are domestic workers from the Phillippines or Indonesia and most all of them are women.  We're speaking English, Cantonese, Tagalog...well some of are speaking those languages!  I stick mostly with English!
   We had a huge youth conference with youth coming from all over for meetings and activities.  An EFY band called National Tribute came all the way from the States to play most of the music we've been listening to on our iPods since we went into the MTC!  But it was cool to have so much going on.  We had dinner with Pres. and Sister Chan in their apartment in the temple...pretty weird to be living across the hall from your mission president!  Got to help orient new missionaries on Wednesday.  It was fun to see how excited and nervous they were and to remember that i was just like that about a year ago.
   This week we've been moving furniture and i've been driving a big white van, on the wrong side of the road!  I've also been getting lots of exercise lifting furniture into and out of tiny elevators.  Office work is a different aspect of missionary work.  instead of spending the majority of our time on the streets sharing the gospel, we are serving the missionaries and doing things behind the scenes.  The Lord is blessing us in all we do, especially on the days we get to go out to proselyte.  We are getting lots of referrals from members and have 4 solid baptismal dates now. 
  Wow - i've been living in Hong Kong for an entire year (May 25).  I used to thing one year was a long time, but it's beginning to seem shorter and shorter.  A lot has happened in that year.  I've gotten used to eating just about anything, whether it swims, or crawls, or flies; whether it has bones, no bones, fat, or cartilage.  I've kind of learned a new language; i'm meeting loads of new people from just as many different countries, and I've done my best to share the Restored Gospel with them.  I've seen miracles; i've received blessings and i've seen the lives of others change because they accepted the gospel.  Sister Flora was baptized last Sunday.  She was so excited and ready.  My companion, Elder Cheong baptized her. 
   Elders Holland and Bednar were in Hong Kong this week.  They each gave some powerful talks and shook hands with all of us.  Elder Bednar even came into our apartment (he was having dinner with Pres and Mrs Chan) and talked with us for a bit.  Pretty cool to meet two Seers and Revelators.  We are pretty lucky, not to mention all the things they taught us in the two days there were here.  We are really blessed.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Elders Johnson and Matesen

Pre-mission photo with Carson

They wrote us Rysers! Here's what they said:

Aaron: "Things are going great for me here in Surprise. I am still in the same area, going on 9 months (my entire mission). I am perfectly fine with staying in this area for so long. I love the wards and the people we are working with." Aaron's own address is 18001 North 79th Ave. Ste C50, Glendale, AZ 85308

Max: "Chile is amazing and the time is flying by in the mission! I'm loving the mission and although it's a daily fight, we're on the winning side and it has been a huge testimony builder."

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Elder Pinnock

Laura combined a few emails to summarize David's Mexican adventures:

I made it! I am finally here in Mexico and I feel good! President Call and his wife are terrific people and I am sure I will learn a lot from them. When I arrived in Mexico we were driving from the airport to the mission home and we got pulled over by the police, it was awesome because President Call said, “How much should I bribe him with?”

My companion is Elder Tun and he's great. He doesn't speak English and is really good with people on the street. I took a shower with a bucket of water (we don't have hot water). I was laughing to myself the entire time because I actually liked doing it. Sometimes we don't even have water in the morning but then I just say, "Who needs baths?". I love the Mexican culture. On Preparation Day we wash our clothes by hand which is also a lot more fun than I thought it would be. I don't mean to brag but I am not too bad at washing clothes with my hands. I think you would loose your mind mom if you saw our home. I love it though, I love everything about this place, Mexico is the best!

I ate fried fish heads yesterday and they were super duper! We have been eating a lot of good food but it is mostly just beans, rice and always tortillas. We always eat with the members here at 2:00 and they are so nice to do it, some of these people have nothing to give but they find some way to get food for us.

This past Sunday I played the piano for the church here (thanks for the simplified hymns mom). I really enjoyed it. Never thought I would enjoy playing the piano.

This past week has been a burner. It is getting hotter and hotter and my sleep has really been suffering. Last Monday I finally lost it and gave myself a buzz and as the picture can testify my companions thought it was a good idea and followed up right behind me to cut their hair. It is kinda funny too, with less hair I have found more strength to work in the sun.

A couple of days ago Elder Tun and I received a referral who lives on the outskirts of town. It took us an hour and a half to walk there, and much to our disappointment they wouldn't answer the door. I guess the referral might have been a bad one. But when we were out there we decided to track a little in the area. I am not going to lie, the area was beautiful, few people and only open fields (without trash). We didn't have much success but I still love talking to people on the street. Later during the week we tried to find one of our investigators that completely fell of the grid. Her name is Ceci and she was coming to church reading a praying and already had an answer to her prayers. She is not at her work, there is no one at her home. It's like she died. I will definitely be praying to find her this week with my companion.

Make sure all you people in America realize that you are all spoiled and that you are also missing out. I wouldn't be anywhere else right now, I love the people, busses, stores, building, I love the dirt! You all are going to have a tuff time getting my back to America in a year and a half. Good luck!

Hang Loose with Elder Menlove

Wow what an amazing week! I don't even know where to begin. First of all, we had a baptism on Saturday! His name is Kiely Kalani Lloyd. It went great! He's a 17 year old and called us last minute wanting to be baptized. We had a beautiful service and he was confirmed on Easter Sunday along with his friend who was baptized 2 weeks ago. I couldn't have asked for a better Easter Weekend.

Saturday night was also the Hanalei Branch Luau! We ate poi, raw fish, kalua turkey, Laulau, Squid Luau, and Coconut cake! One of the branch members, Brother Colburn, is a professional entertainer and he brought his band to play for the event. His daughters did Tahitian and Hula dancing and he did fire-knife dancing as the finale! It was awesome! Easter Sunday was great. We attended the Hanalei Branch and Elder Miller gave a talk. It was an incredible week! We worked our tails off and found 3 new investigators. We have a couple more baptisms scheduled for May so hopefully everything keeps working out well!
Today we woke up at 5 and went fishing. We hiked down to a beautiful area on North Shore Kauai, and caught 10 fish, an octopus, and a sea turtle! The ocotpus was too cool to part with so we put it in the Zone leader's toilet. Hehe.
As a mission, we have been studying the atonement every day this month, and I have learned so much about the Savior's sacrifice. I don't think there is anything else in the world more important for us to have a testimony about. Without it, we have nothing. To me, the atonement is a very personal thing. I love my Savior and i am so grateful for the things that he did for me. It's nice to have a holdiay to celebrate this, even though we should really be celebrating every single day. I have been thinking i living my life in such a way that i SHOW the Savior my gratitude for it? It's one thing to say we are grateful for the atonement, and another thing to show Him. I am thankful to be on a mission where i can focus on this every single day and strengthen my testimony of Him.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

JJ Ward April 28

Hello hello hello

So this week has been an exciting one. There will be a pretty big change in my missionary life starting tomorrow.

But 1st and foremost, A-Jan got baptized on Sunday! It was so awesome. It was a very simple humble service, but really really nice. At first she seemed a little nervous, but when she was walking down the steps into the font, I could see this peace wash over her, and she new it was the right decision. The entire service was translated by Sis. Hohn, one of the most amazing members ever. Even the confirmation was translated from Chinese to Thai. Even though The brother confirming her only met her that day, he gave a really great blessing. At the end A-Jan got up to bear her simple testimony. She doesn't have a lot of knowledge but she has a really testimony given to her by the spirit, and that is stronger than any knowledge. She went back to Thailand yesterday and will have to wait there for at least one month for a visa renewal, and then she will come back to Hong Kong to help her older sister work, and take care of her troubled son. Sis. Hohn is helping her find a branch in Thailand to attend, it will be so great for A-Jan to hear the gospel untranslated in her own language. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to meet a A-Jan and play a small role in helping her come to know of the reality of the restoration, this experience was definitely one of the greatest miracles I've experienced on my mission.

Now for the big change. This morning I got a call from President Chan. That always starts your heart beating fast. He has called me to be the new Distribution Coordinator. So tonight I will pack my things, and tomorrow morning the APs will come and pick me up to go to the mission home so I can start training to work in the office... I never thought I would go office. I don't know exactly all that it entails, but I do know that from monday to friday I will be in the mission home doing office work, saturday and sunday are our only days to proselyte, I will no longer be speaking Cantonese I will be serving international and speaking English, I get to drive, I will live in the temple, and I will probably become a District Leader all for at least 4 transfers. So it definitely has it's ups and downs....

I kinda felt like it was coming, but it was still a big suprise when I actually heard President Chan say it himself. So we will see how it goes, I have mixed feelings about it. I had a really short stay in Aberdeen, and I will miss the people we were teaching, especially a couple of the less active members we were making progress with. but, this is what the Lord wants so I'll do it. It'll probably be a tough transition, haha I've never really done office work before, and I haven't taught the gospel in English in a long time. I'm still kind of taking it in. It will be a pretty big change. So I just took time to enjoy P-day today and now it's home to pack and after 9 months I'm leaving Kennedy Town and headed to Kowloon. Missions are full of suprises.

Well this week I read another one of my favorite scriptures in D&C 36:6 "Look to me in EVERY thought, doubt not, fear not." This scripture is a huge faith booster for me. If we focus on Christ, with all of our might mind and strength, there will be no room for doubt, and no reason to fear, because he who is mighty to save has made it possible to overcome all things.

Love you all!!
Elder Ward

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Twins unseperated

Katie Ward just "happened" to be in the same Sacrament Meeting with her brother. Here are their reports:

Katie wrote: so here are the details on what went down in hong kong. we got here friday morning and got to our hotel and got settled. this whole "vacation" to hong kong was a little disorganized so the rest of friday night we just wandered around kowloon. we ended going to bed at like 7 o'clock. saturday morning we went on a tour that took us to victoria peak, stanley markey, and aberdeen. the tour ended at 2 in the afternoon and we were left with the rest of the day to do whatever we wanted. some of the girls and i decided to find our way to the temple and mission headquarters. when we got there i ran into two companionships of missionaries and talked to them for a bit. they both knew who jj was and they had seen him on thursday to play basketball and get their transfers. i was sad cause he wasn't there but they let me write him a note and told me they would give it to him. we continued to the temple and i had this thought in my mind that i was going to find jj's ward and maybe go to church the next day where he was serving. so i ran back across the street just in time to catch the elders before they left and asked for the address to the aberdeen ward. they gave me one but it was in chinese. when i got back to the hotel i asked the information desk to help me find the bus route that would take us there and after many miscommunications and three people trying to figure it out, they told me which bus to get on and how much it would cost. i told the group and most of the girls were planning on going to a church anyways so about 12 of us decided we would go. we met at 7:15 sunday morning and ventured off to find the bus and try to find aberdeen. we ended up finding the ward which was pretty well concealed around 8:30. at about 8:45 this chinese lady came into what we thought was the chapel and told us it was the relief society room and that the chapel was a floor down...i ran down the stairs and lone behold THERE WAS JJ!!!!!!!!! i took him by complete surprise. he was in so much shock, it was funny. i just started bawling, but then we got talking and it was really good. he is doing soooo well and he is loving it in china. he told me to tell mom and dad hi and that he loves them. he said to tell the friends hi to. saying goodbye wasn't even that hard...i mean i did cry a little bit, but i'm fine. i hope he isn't in too much shock and i hope he is able to keep his focus. i got to hear him speak in cantonese as he explained to everyone that i was his twin sister. we stayed for relief society and the ladies translated for us. unfortunately we couldn't stay for sacrament because we were really limited on time. so i only got to chat with jj for probably a total or 5 or 10 minutes.

me in aberdeen on saturday trying to spot jj

JJ sez: I'm pretty sure everyone has heard by now that Katie found our chapel in Aberdeen and came to see me. Probably one of the most surprising days at church in my life! I was talking to a member and then all of a sudden a familiar looking girl walks in the door, heads straight for me and gives me a hug. Luckily, I recognized she was my sister before she hugged me or I probably would have run away. We didn't get to talk much but it was really good to see her. Surprisingly, this visit didn't seem to phase me too much; when she left it was just back to business as usual. It was a really good reminder of home, and that I have a lot or people supporting me and praying for me.

jj and me at church

a picture of jj's ward (it's the black door in that big building and the church is on the 5, 6, and 7th floor, they kept it really secretive i feel like).

Elder Ward

JJ is talking to the guy that had a bow staff or something that loved smoking.

The mustache is real

Been trying to get to know the new area. Aberdeen is really awesome, totally different from West Point. Our ward is really supportive and has already given us two referrals. When Elder Cho and i go out finding, we never know who we'll meet - a kung fu master one time, a 70 year old blind man another, Hong Kong is just an amazing city.
3/10/11 Well, it's been an ENTIRE YEAR! That's crazy. Can't believe how fast the time has gone. I'm starting to get the hang of Chinese and of missionary work. We pick up some new investigators, we lose some of the older ones, and on goes the cycle. We've given out two baptismal dates this week; one has fallen through and we're praying the other will happen.
Next week we have another moves call. If i stay in Aberdeen, i'll have lived almost that entire year in Kennedy Town, serving in the same district! Good thing i love it here. I've also grown to love the scriptures and the guidance they give us; studying the Book of Mormon has been so amazing. I love being here and love and miss you all

Elder Ward

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elder Aaron Johnson

Dear Family members,

We have had a lot of blessings this week!! So on Tuesday we met with Kenny and taught him the plan of salvation. It was an extremely good lesson. During that lesson we extended a baptisimal date to him for March 26th! He accepted and started asking all about what he needs to do to prepare for that day and how he can do it. His grandpa (he is 20 years old and just moved from Houston into his Grandparents house to take care of them) said you know your going to have to stop smoking and take out those earings. When hearing that Kenny took out his earings on the spot and we havent seen them in yet. So he is definately ready to go for March 26th. The only problem I can forsee is the smoking and he told us that he has lived in and out of homeless shelters and was even homeless for a couple of years in Houston. He said that he has gotten into some bad stuff and has been in and out of jail. So tomorrow when we teach him we will find out if he is on parole or probation or not...if he is then he would have to wait till he was off to get baptized. Actually he found his grandparents through facebook...and thats how he found them and now is living with them to take care of them. He is so sincere and is a very caring person...he does nothing all day except take care of his grandparents. He is definately one of the Lords elect. I feel so lucky to be teaching him.

Then on Wednesday we taught Michelle (who is still praying about March 26th as a baptisimal date) the 4th lesson. Specifically praying, scripture study, law of chastity, and word of wisdom. The lesson as always was an extremely spiritual lesson. she accepted everything that we taught up until the word of wisdom. She LOVES coffee. She says that she loves everything about coffee...the smell, the taste, the sound of it being made...everything (in her words). She did committ to living the word of wisdom. she was really hesitant at first...but as i was teaching her i could feel my tongue be loosed by the spirit. I don't eve remember what was said or how it was said all I know is that it was not us speaking. I shared my favorite scripture in the whole book of mormon and the bible (ether 12:6) where is talks about how we will not recieve a witness until after the trial of our faith (i love this scripture!!) and is seemed to calm her nerves. the the member offered to giver her a priesthood blessing. so we gave her one and you guys know my testimony of priesthood blessings after the experience with Pat and Jerri. So i know that she can give up coffee. she also asked us to find some scriptures to help her overcome this. So during our study the next morning we searched everywhere for scriptures and as we were searching...i thought to look for a conference talk that would help her. (those are considered scripture) i said a prayer right before i started thumbing through the last conference issue of the ensign. i believe that i was led to give her the talk by President Henry B Eyring entitled "Trust God then Go and Do" (you guys should look it up). this one jumped out to me. i knew that she needed to read this. On sunday when we saw her she said that she is not worried about it...the combination of the priesthood blessing and the conference talk comforted her. She is most definately the Lords elect and i feel very humbled that I could be the tool in the Lords hands to help her come unto Christ. We could possibly have a baptisimal date set with her this wednesday (March 26th).

Yesterday we taught Darian and Ally (Steve Scotts kids) and Ally has chosen to be baptized on March 26th!!! She is very excited!! I am really excited to see Steve baptize her!! Darian is still really unsure that he want to be baptized (hes just being a regular 14 year old boy)...but i know he will come around.

So if all goes according to plan(which i hope it does)...we could have 4 baptisms next month. Ive Chaug (March 19th), Kenny Bowring (March 26th), Ally Scott (March 26th), and the date that Michelle is praying about is March 26th also. So March 26th could probably be the busiest day of my life!! I feel so blessed...i don't understand it...i mean i work hard and i try to be 100% obediant but do i really deserve this Humbles me. Hopefully i can live up to the blessings that our companionship is recieving.

Well i got to go Love you

Elder Johnson

Elder Smith

I started reading the Old Testament a few months ago, and I’ve gotten to Job. Some of the stories are really captivating. So far I’ve loved reading about Saul and David. Their story up until David’s death is so awesome, and I love the scripture in 2 Samuel 1:23:

“Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.”

And of course the cross reference in D&C 135:3 talking about Joseph and Hyrum Smith. They are so inspiring for me, because every time I start to get disobedient or my work ethic begins to fall I think of how disappointed Papa Hyrum and Uncle Joseph would be with the grand son/nephew. Dad I think you for being built on a rock, and making it easy for your sons to follow the example of the prophet and the patriarch of the Church of Jesus Christ in the later days. I know that you have made our fathers proud. I love you all. Faaitoito.

Elder Luke Smith

Elder Treyden Johnson

Being a DL is fun, and I love it here. My new comp is so great and we just had a baptism last night. We have a lot of people to teach. Winston really is great, and we have a big area with different logging towns ha ha. I am learning a lot as a DL and I feel more free than I ever have in my entire life, just like you said!

Tonight we are teaching a family in our ward for FHE then they are taking us rock climbing indoors for the activity hahah! I love this life.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Elder Estrada

Jose wrote us! He said "Hey Season's Greetings, how is all going on back home? I hope you are saving lots of money with all of us gone and not at your home trashing things and eating all your food..." (ha ha. We loved it.)

Here's a picture from the Barcelona website.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Luke's in Bora Bora

hey family Im writing you from bora bora. I got transfered here two weeks ago and im loving it. My compaion is an american who finishes in march, and the other is a new tahitian that we're training. we're working really hard and its amazing here. the members work so hard and everyone is more accepting of the gospel here compared to punaauia. Im convinced that this is tied for the greatest place in the world with salt lake city. we have some great investiagtors, and I'm having a lot of fun. we eat even more here than on tahiti, and the food is really good. we're on bikes and we have half the island and two other elders have the other half. our area is pretty big so we have some long rides sometimes, so I dont have to worry so much about eating a lot. I was really excited to start a new phase of my mission. oh and our house is a mansion compared to our first house, which is really nice.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Elder Smith

On January 1st, Luke wrote:
As I am writing this letter, I'm happier than a little boy on Christmas. Why? Because President just called and told me that I'm headed off to paradise in a few days. Headed off to BORA BORA!... It's the island everyone in the mission wants to serve on, even the natives. I don't know why President decided to bestow such a gift upon me, but all I know is that I couldn't be happier... When you read this, I will be in heaven teaching the gospel...

Today a guy wanted to trade me cocaine for my tennis shoes. Our neighborhood has a lot of drugs go through and a lot of not so high class people. So I get stuff like "Yo missionary, you sure you don't want some weed?" "Yeah I'm good brother. You sure you don't want the blessings of the gospel?" "Yeah I'm good." Just about everyone in the neighborhood knows who we are and despite the drugs, and not so reputable people, we are well-liked and very safe...

... If someone offers you something to eat here, you say yes, then you eat a lot. So don't feel bad, Mom, if I get home and don't want to eat right away. It's because all we do here is eat and to be honest, I'm more excited to be home because of the ability I will have to not eat if I don't want to.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Elder Ward

A man was on vacation in Hong Kong and ran into "4 very happy elders" at the Stanley Market. He said "They all appear to be healthy, well and having a good time together Christmas shopping for their families. We spoke for awhile and all enjoyed their missionary work. The only eye roll I saw was when I asked how the language was coming. 'It's hard but is getting better.' they say. My hats off to these young men and the work they do." Here's the picture he sent their families.

So what's been happening in Hong Kong these days? Brother Wong is good for his baptism on Sunday (Dec 19). Our new investigator Brother Ng is starting to recognize the spirit when we teach him and we have a couple of new is good. Oh, and there is that Christmas eve phone call.
We've had a couple of funny finding experiences-first there was the man in the park who would rather play his harmonica and dance than listen to us talk about the gospel. Then there was the lady who was playing with a Chinese hacky sack, complete with feathers and gingles. We went up to talk with her and she kicked the hacky sack our way so we ended up playing for a few minutes, just in our suits, wearing our backpacks. We got her number though so that was good. I love Hong Kong. Everday I just get to walk around and meet new people and it's great.
It's been rainy and cold the last few days. Last night I had to sleep in my jeans because I didn't have any sweats and it was so cold. Humidity is kind of a killer - the heat is hotter and the cold is colder. Even so, I miss the snow!
I stayed in Kennedytown last moves and my new companion is Elder Lamb; he's from the St. George area. When we go out finding, we work pretty well together and we've been getting lots of phone numbers. We're both pretty tall and Elder Lamb is just an overall big human sooo maybe we've just been scaring people into giving us their numbers, but whatever works, right?
We're going to an all you can eat Mexican buffet to celebrate mine and Elder Wing's birthdays. Should be pretty fun and if I survive eating beans instead of rice, I'll tell you all about it next week.

Elder Stringham

Elder Stringham sent us a nice letter on December 13:
"... I'm doing great, I still have problems with dizziness but I received a blessing from Elder Zwick from the 70. It was way cool and he said I would be completely healed so I'm not too worried about it.
I love my mission and I love the gospel. Thanks for always putting up with us handing out in your house and eating all your food!" (ha ha)

Elder Litton's Christmas card

The big machine that's holding up the elders in the air is a giant Texas tractor.