This week has been weird.
13 October 2017
Dear Brother & Sister Walker,
I want to express our gratitude for the excellent service of your son. As you must surely feel from his letters, he is doing well. I am impressed with his goodness and strength. This letter is to inform you that Elder Walker has just been assigned as a trainer and will train Elder Richmond. I have every confidence that they will be a great companionship.
There is no position in the mission more important than being a trainer. The future of the mission depends upon the work the trainers do. It is a difficult and challenging assignment, as trainers must do most of the talking and teaching. They have a great responsibility for the development of their new companions. One of the goals I set when I was called to preside over this mission was to never call a trainer with whom I would not place my own son. This assignment says a great deal about your son’s abilities and talents and the personal respect and admiration I feel for him. Your son has shown great talent and ability in sharing the gospel. He has gained the respect of his companions and trust of his leaders.
Thank you for supporting your son as he continues to make a positive difference here in the Arizona Phoenix Mission. Your encouragement at this time will be more important than ever. Elder Walker is a wonderful missionary and we love him. We appreciate all you have done. Please feel my best wishes for you and your family. Your sacrifices are recognized and appreciated. God bless you!
With love and repect,
President Sean F.D. Collins
So my IPad is out of commission as of late so we might be lacking in the picture department.
This was a pretty crazy week. It started with the church releasing online area book 2.0. Long story short is that they made it a lot worse. I have decided that the church thought we were depending too much on the technology and not enough on the spirit, so they just took away some of the technology. Right now it is just obnoxious, not that it matters to much, like I said, don’t really have an IPad at the moment. So really it is just more work for my companion.
I had an exchange with one of the English Elders in my district. We were invited to a service by their roommates. We were told that we were going to clean out a burned down house. I imagined rubble, but it just looked like the garage was a bit roasted. When we finally put on the masks and went inside I was surprised how destroyed everything was. You couldn’t walk without stepping in piles of insulation and glass scattered all over the floor. We started loading out furniture. I was one of the first to go upstairs and start pulling stuff down. Most of the house was unrecognizable, but there was a little corner that was really clean. I looked behind a bookshelf and found three hoverboards. I brought it outside and long story short we are proud new owners of a hoverboard! Elder Lopez was the one that asked for it so technically it was his but I found it so I claim like 40 percent ownership. Anyway it is super fun and I have a video I can send if my IPad ever starts working.
Sunday there we had a baptism for J and V. They are 12 and 10 but SUPER smart. They remember everything we tell them. It is an unusual problem to have where you can’t think of anything to teach that isn’t super deep and still keep their attention. Most adults forget what we tell them but they are completely different. It is just a testimony to me that it doesn’t matter, your age, education, social class, if you have the spirit, you will understand the word of God, if you don’t, you won’t, simple as that. It even applies to 12 year old girls.
So today is transfers, Elder Lewis is leaving and going to buckeye. Buckeye is famous for the former President Griffin stating that the entire city “smells like money,” which is a nice way of saying they are having trouble covering up the cow smell. He is kind of bummed but that is how transfers go. You are always sad to leave but become happy after about two or three weeks. He will be doubled in (he and his companion are new to the area) with Elder Johnson, he was my roommate for a while. They will do good together.
Tomorrow I will go pick up my new companion. I don’t know who it is yet but President told me that he is just coming out of the mtc. I will tell you more about him next week.
So thats about it. Another transfer down. Only 6 more to go. Seems like less than it is haha.
Yesterday we had a lesson with an investigator who we haven’t seen in two weeks. She has been out of town the last two Sundays so also hasn’t been able to come to church either. Before starting the lesson she brought out her Book of Mormon with the book mark several pages in. I could probably end my letter here and call that a miracle enough. We taught the plan of salvation. I did not feel that we taught clearly, nor very directly. However through inspired questions and inspired words we testified of eternal families and the investigator beamed with the comfort that this doctrine brings to so many. I will likely struggle my whole mission to understand the balance between becoming a master teacher and trusting in the spirit to deliver the message, but for now I am simply grateful that in that moment The Lord sent his spirit to testify to an investigator with real intent despite the abilities of his flawed servants.
Have a great week,
We had a good week. Highlighted by interviews with President Collins.
It was our third interview with him, but the first two barely count.
He started by speaking Spanish with us. His Spanish was actually
really good for someone who hasn’t had any practice in 30 years. He
then proceeded by asking my opinion on what should happen with some of
the areas in our zone. I am confident that I was prepared for that
moment as a 12 year old doing logic problems that my dad made for me
in church. I always have a board with all the Spanish missionaries and
where I think they will go. Today I just found out that we are getting
four more Spanish Elders that are being evacuated from their mission
in Puerto Rico. That means within 7 weeks we will get a total of 16
Spanish missionaries. There will only be like 35 total so that means a
lot of young ones.
Elder Lewis and I are embracing our newly adopted culture. I bought a
giant stack of 80 tortillas (just like the natives) some chorizo and
avacado and we made tacos discados for dinner one night. With salt and
limón and everything. 🌮 <— Not this white person taco.
The work is going well. We finally tracked down Hugo. He is still
excited for baptism except there is one hiccup. He wants to finish his
tattoo sleeve before his baptism. He already knows the churches stance
on all of that so I am not going to push too much and we have the
baptism planned for the end of next month.
Saturday we found a family of new investigators. We knocked on a door
and asked if he would take a survey for us. One of the questions is
“If you found out that there was another book of scripture written by
prophets of God, would you read it?” He said no, the bible is
complete. For some reason I felt prompted to immediately start
teaching about the book of Mormon anyway. At the end of the lesson he
accepted to read the book of Mormon. It was a great example of the
Lord softening the heart of someone looking for truth.
Sunday was a first for me. There was a stake fireside for everyone who
is working with the missionaries. One of the members of the mission
presidency came and spoke about his conversion. And I translated the
whole thing. Or the spirit translated it, I’m not completely sure. But
either way I was in front of the microphone the whole time. He just
told stories the whole time so it was kind of tough. I was hoping for
more doctrine. At one point he quoted Elder Benson and used multiple
words in English that I didn’t understand. I dumbed it down and I
think I got the point across. It was really fun but I was absolutely
Today we went to a park and played soccer with the other zone. It has
been a long time since I have played soccer on a big field with full
teams and let me tell you I am very out of shape. I wasn’t even aware
how bad I have gotten at running. It was a lot of fun though. Brought
me back to the high school days on Saturday mornings with the homies.
Hope everyone has a great week!
This week I had a lot of exchanges.
The first was with the french Elders. We had a lesson out in
scottsdale with a french speaking lady. The french lessons always
bring me back to my first few week trying to understand my companion
in Spanish. I can understand a word here and there. It makes me wonder
how hard it would be to learn a little bit of conversational french.
But God has called me to speak Spanish, so I don’t know if he would be
equally helpful if I try to take up the hobby of French. For now I
need to focus on the Spanish. One of the zone leaders mentioned
something about translating for a devotional and that scared me a
little bit so I shouldn’t get ahead of myself.
That day we also did a lot of tracting. We have been trying this
survey where we simply ask questions about the family and peoples
beliefs about God. By the end we have been chatting for a while and
they realize that we aren’t that crazy. So we ask if we can teach them
a lesson and they accept. So that day I taught a family of 5 new
investigators by myself. Unfortunately because we were on exchanges
they weren’t in my area so I had to refer them to the other ward.
Boasting of my recent success I returned from exchanges and desired to
show my companion how great this survey was. The first door we knocked
welcomed us in immediately. I thought it was to good to be true. Well
it turns out it was because it was an inactive family from the English
ward. So we wouldn’t get any new investigators. We did share a message
and hopefully it helped them remember their priorities and covenants.
Our next attempt was also interesting. We talked to Avery. Although
assuring us that “he didn’t want to take to much of our time” he went
on to tell us all about how ‘history and religion go hand and hand’.
Usually when people say things like that I expect some bashing or
complaining about the crusades. But instead I actually learned about
new things, like Buddha was actually black and had dreads, and the
injustice that is the history of Timbuktu. We left him with the
restoration pamphlet so if he really does love finding the truth in
history as much as he says he does he will be baptized by the end of
Also had an exchange biking around in the english area. For dinner we
had tacos. White person tacos with cheddar cheese! Tacos don’t have
cheese on them! And what white person invented taco seasoning? Ah the
Well thats my week. I hope everyone is doing well, wherever they might be.
This week I will tell you about some of the people that we are working
with. I have had some time here in La Joya and I’m pretty excited to
work with some of these investigators.
We will start with Juan B. I told you a few weeks ago about Juan.
He was an investigator in my last area whose wife had gotten baptized
back in February. He was frustrated because he kept hearing miracle
stories about people quitting smoking cold turkey and he just couldn’t
do it. So we made a calendar for him with the number of cigarettes he
was allowed to smoke a day. The plan was to follow up with him each
day and for him to tell us how he did on that day’s goal. Well we did
that, but no matter how we would word our text he would just respond
with “it’s going good.” So we assumed it wasn’t going very well. Well,
it turns out that was a bad assumption. Elder Chandler went over at
the end of the calendar, asked him how it went and it turns out we had
a baptism yesterday. Juan is super smart and already knows a lot.
Every time we would go over he had something new he had learned from
the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, or The Pearl of Great
Now for the investigators in our area.
We will start with Hugo. He was what is called an Eternigator
(Eternal-Investigator). He had been taught by every missionary in La
Joya. His wife and child were baptized last year, and he has shown
little progression since then. Until a few weeks ago, when he called
bishop and said he was ready for baptism. Since I have met him, he has
testified of commandments being a guide in life, church attendance,
and the Book of Mormon. He is also working on giving up smoking, but
we are all confident that he will be baptized next month.
Then there is the G family- Catalina, Fermín and their 19 year
old son, Diego. Catalina is very aware that she needs more spirituality
in her life. Fermín was originally
very reluctant to what we were saying. But when we read the
introduction to the Book of Mormon with him, where it reads Moroni’s
promise that anyone who “reads, ponders and prays with real intent will
receive a manifestation of its truthfulness”, he simply said, “It
sounds like I need to read the book then.” Their son, Diego, is
relatively quiet in the lessons. But when we asked if he had any questions
he asked, “what do I have to do to become a missionary?” We explained,
and he seemed excited about the possibility. As if that all sounded
excited enough, the all came to church yesterday and seemed to enjoy
it. The sabbath day is easily the hardest commandment for members and
investigators alike to keep, so it really means a lot when people make
it a priority to come for all 3 hours.
That’s the biggest news in La Joya right now. I’m starting to get
excited for the next few weeks in La Joya. I will keep you updated on
the progress next week. 🙂
My journal writing skills struggled this week, so my letter writing
abilities might suffer also.
I will start off with a summary of my companion. He has been out for 8
months. He was trained by Elder Clough in Encanto, went to Agua Fría
with Elder Huaiquiñir then La Joya where I joined him. He is from
middle of no where Alaska, and is the 3 of 8 kids. His spanish is
crazy good and he is really good at studying.
Sunday I got in an argument with someone who told us she was a
catholic, but was really just a never-mormon. As missionaries we live
so much with the spirit that we take it for granted. Never before in
my life have I felt such a drastic shift. There is never a positive
spirit present when there is contention. It was rough. But don’t
worry, I won.
The ward seems really cool. I cant wait to work hard in it.
Love you all!
As you can tell this week Pday is on Tuesday because of transfers tomorrow. We are just cleaning the apartment. A lot more chill then last week running around wheezing in a sad attempt at ball hockey.
After about 4 hours of hockey last week I got tired of getting schooled by two Canadians so we packed up and returned everything and went home. That night we had an FHE with a family from the ward. We were eating some meat they were calling chivo. It was ok. I looked over and bishop was going at this meat, digging his fingers into it and banging it against his palm. As a joke I said “What are you looking for bishop?” And he responds, “the brain.” It wasn’t until then that I realized that this piece of meat he was fighting had teeth and a spot for the eyes and mouth. Shortly there after, a little goopy thing falls out of one of the eyes (the brain) and bishop makes it into a little taco. Billy goat. “Chivo” means billy goat.
First thing Tuesday morning we drove up to the mission office to get Elder Lewis’ new junky flip phone because he broke his slide phone and they don’t make any more of those. At this point we had come to grips with the fact that he was getting the worst phone of all time, but the new problem was that all his 800 contacts from over the years were still on the old phone.
So, one of the office missionaries hands us this paper that tells you how to transfer over all the device contacts from one phone to another through bluetooth. The only problem is that it’s a little hard to turn on the bluetooth and confirm the code and select the contacts when you can’t see the screen because in is completely shattered. So that wasn’t going anywhere. We went to AT&T and the man told us that it was impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to transfer the contacts without seeing the screen. So, we went back to the mission office defeated. But I wasn’t ready to give up yet. We are three smart young adults and we aren’t going to let this beat us. So, I did the whole process on our phone (the completely working one) to see where all the buttons are. We remembered the steps and I clicked all the buttons on the black screen phone to save the contacts to the SIM card. We did it! Never before and never again will there be some much dancing in the Arizona Phoenix mission office. So, we pop it in the new flip phone feeling successful. And prepare to head back into the world. On the way out Sister Parker hands us a box of 10 broken slide phones and asked us to take them to AT&T to properly dispose of. After not seeing any obviously fatal characteristics Elder Lewis said it won’t hurt anyone if we just decide to keep them all.
So, we get home and we are all three sitting there and testing everything on these phones seeing if they work. Meanwhile we look over and Elder Chandler has just completely unscrewed and taken apart all of the phones. Before we know it, he rips apart Elder Lewis’ old phone and simply switches the screens with some other one. So, voila! The phone lives. It also turns out we never even got all the contacts onto the flip phone because the SIM card can only hold 250 out of 800 of their contacts. So not only was us doing that now obsolete, but also never really worked.
We realized that one of the phones had a broken front speaker and it needed to be soldered. So we borrowed a soldering iron from Hermano Maldonado and Elder Chandler fixed another 2 phones. He has now fixed 7 of the 10 ‘broken’ phones (one of which we assume was actually new out of the box and put in the wrong pile) and hopes to fix one more tomorrow before we return them to the office. I don’t know why we didn’t think to try to fix them earlier. It makes me wonder how many salvageable phones have been thrown away. It has never really mattered, I’m sure the church bought them for like a dollar each, but now that they can’t be replaced they are going up in value. So now the only question is, return them? or sell them on the black market to other missionaries?
I got some chilatapín in my eye the other day, that wasn’t fun.
This past week I boasted the best district meeting refreshments of all time, Papusas. I have spoken of the magical papusa in the past. Fried el Salvadorian goodness.
I forgot a part, Saturday night we stopped by at the church but our electronic key wasn’t working and we were really confused. Luckily Maryville’s ward mission leader was there filling the font. Apparently, the electricity was all out and the mechanical room smelled like burning plastic. First, we called the English wards bishop (we found his number on a sacrament program) to tell him that they probably want to get this fixed before Elder Anderson was to come to their Stake Conference the next morning. So next we called the APs to let them know what was going on with their baptism and they told us they were running late from the temple trip and asked us to run the baptism. So, the convert shows up and I have to get him dressed while explaining to everyone why it is pitch black and smells like burning plastic. Eventually they all show up and we had a baptism in the dark with two flashlights and I spiritual burning smell through the halls. Near the end a very annoyed electrician showed up and said that if he works at it all night he might be able to get it on by morning. So that’s a baptism I’ll never forget.
On Saturday, we had a mission conference with Elder Anderson of the quorum of the 12 apostles. It was interesting to see him be so normal. He may have priesthood keys but he still doesn’t know how to use PowerPoint and occasionally forgets where scriptures are. He challenged us to memorize ten scriptures from both the new testament and the Book of Mormon that we REALLY believe. He taught that the New Testament tells us about the life of Jesus Christ and the Book of Mormon teaches us about the power of Jesus Christ. It really opened me up to how much of a blessing it is to have this scripture, and how much of a blessing it can be to those I teach.
My last companion, Elder Clough, drove down from Utah for a few days. We got caught up and played some basketball today.
Yesterday we received transfer news. I will be going to La Joya. It’s not too far of a move, actually just across the hall. I will be with Elder Lewis, my roommate of 3 months. So I am super excited. I am really sad to leave Encanto but I will still get to visit occasionally. I still live in Encanto’s ward boundaries so it’s not far.
Sorry for the epistle, I had a lot of pride of that phone story. Have a great week and I will let you know how the first days in La Joya are!
Wednesday we had a lesson and lunch with the Gomez family. Their friend Lees was there and brought her two girls Laylani and Delilah. After the two lessons, one with adults and one with the kids, we went out to eat elotes in the back. The whole time Delilah was out hanging with us while all the other kids were inside playing. She is adorable. She was playing basketball and jumping around and drinking raspados and taking pictures and giving hugs and touching lewis and saying “look at that fat tummy”. I died laughing.
On Sunday Elder Lewis left with Hermano Waldo to go to la joya and we stayed in Encanto. Juan Muro in the bishopric came up and asked me to give a talk 10 minutes before sacrament meeting. I found a few scriptures and rambled on for like 8 minutes. It wasn’t the best talk of all time but when I sat down i realized that at no point during the talk did i have to think about how to say anything in Spanish. Everything i needed was already coming out of mouth. That was a really cool moment. I could definitely feel Gods hand in that.
Than we went and picked up Elder Lewis from La Joya and drove to the YSA ward. It was weird. The Sunday school class was on eternal marriage. I don’t know if its always like that or i just had a really topical first time. Everyone was trying to be so spiritual and funny at the same time. Elders quorum was much more real.
Today we played ball hockey in the gym for a few hours. It was exhausting and I’m not very good at it. So that’s a good combo.