Elder Derhak and Elder Derrick (and more clones)

This was the first week of the transfers. My companions name is Elder Derhak. He is from Rochester New York. Elder Derhak’s most notable accomplishment is coming in third in a national cooking competition. So I have been enjoying that. The members however don’t seem to be at ease when they find out at our dinner appointments. Haha. Today we went to Costco and bought him about anything he could ever want in terms of ingredients. It sounds like any hopes of going home skinny are officially lost.

We were meeting with our New Ward mission Leader this week and as we were leaving a bunch of non members came into the church to play soccer. Our WML started to talk to one of them because he is the guys dentist. I recognized him because we had played soccer with him a few times down at the park. He was a really white guy named Dan but spoke good Spanish. So I asked him where he learned Spanish and he said he used to live in Bolivia. So we started chatting with him about the Spanish branch and we invited him and gave him our number. Here comes the cool part, today, he texted us. That’s right, HE TEXTED US. That’s never happened to us before so that’s pretty cool. We are excited to start teaching him in the coming week.

Saturday and Sunday was full of General Conference which I am sure you have heard all about. I really liked the idea and focus on ministering. Here in the America South West area of the church we have been implementing a organizational strategy called ‘Ministering the Ordinances of Exaltation to Individuals and Families (MOE.) ‘ The changes that were made only seem to mirror the success that I have seen in my mission from using the MOE. So needless to say I am excited to see this plan emphasized and expanded to the whole church.

Despite all the changes I thing the most exciting part was when they were announcing the new area 70s. I know. No one ever pays attention during that part, but I joked as they started that I was just waiting to hear out old mission president’s name (he is the only person I know who might be called) Then they did! Either that or there is another Spencer Griffen who got called to be an area 70 instead. But with all that aside I really enjoyed President Nelson at conference. I feel like he brings a whole different personality to the meetings as a whole.

We had a good Easter Sunday. We ate dinner with the Walker family (pictured) , they got a hoot out of that. 4 boys, tall, skinny, and loud. It seemed like a younger clone of our family. The oldest one’s name is Seth. He was baffled that there might be another Seth Walker in this universe.

Right now we only have one investigator in the English ward. Her husband actually called brother walker as we were leaving. Apparently the investigator was in tears because she thought that the other Elders were transferred because she didn’t get baptized. So we went over to calm her down and fix this little misunderstanding and she showed us a picture of her son, who looks JUST like the missionary who was transferred. So that was a new one for me. We got everything figured out and she is better now. I think the transfer might motivate her a little bit to take the church more seriously.

That’s this week. Really busy but really good. I hope you all had a fantastic Easter.

Elder Walker




Surprising transfers and lots of food

This week was transfers. We were pretty sure that nothing would really change that much. That was our first mistake.

It was all a mess. Basically what we decided on is that I won’t be companions with Elder Groesbeck for his last transfer. I will cover the west side of the branch, and I will double into an English ward in Prescott. But there are no apartments in Prescott, so I will still live in Prescott Valley. It will be good though.

My new companions name is Elder Derhak. I have met him a bunch of times but I have never served around him. It will be a good transfer.

We also had a spanish meeting this week. We are going to start doing video chat rooms where you can go and study together. That will really help some of the younger missionaries learn how to study. I wish I had that.

We had our first big activity in the Spanish branch. It was family history based. Elder Groesbeck and I taught for part of it. A lady from the local Spanish speaking newspaper came and interviewed us. We took home a few pounds of carne asada and a giant cooler of jamaica so I guess you could say it was a success.

Sunday was Maria’s confirmation. Afterward the Andersons invited a lot of the branch over for dinner to celebrate. They made Buffalo burgers. We also took home a lot of extra buffalo burgers.

Oh yeah a member also gave us a full Costco chicken. Shout out hermana Lerma.

I think that’s all. Talk to you next week.

We had a really busy week. We spent the whole week visiting less actives and trying to get them to the baptism on Saturday. The baptism went well, only a few minor hiccups, like Maria forgetting her towel, the brother giving the prayer not coming, and everyone showing up a half an hour late. Maria also brought two of her friends which is really awesome. We are going to try to teach them this week.

Right after the baptism, we had the priesthood session of stake conference. There was an area 70 there. He opened it up to questions, nobody actually asked any questions, they just voiced their opinions in the form of questions. What everyone didn’t know is that the area 70 didn’t really care what your opinion is on church policy. No the church isn’t going to command their members to carry guns, no we are not going to tell the apostles to talk about the importance of the old testament rather than the Book of Mormon. The 70 was pretty good at steering the conversation towards relevant topics.
In the evening session, he and his wife gave a training on the doctrine of Christ. It was really good.
Sunday was good too. Maria brought one of her friends again. 👍
Today we had a zone activity and went to the zoo. Lemurs are cool. I like lemurs now.
That’s about all I have for today. Next week is transfers so I will be emailing on Tuesday.


This week is Maria’s baptism. It will be the Monte Vista Branch’s first baptism. Her story is pretty cool so I will probably just share that.

So missionaries were out looking for a former investigator and knocked on the door. It had been months since they had received a promising referral and were struggling to find someone to teach. Most of the people they talked to were less than interested.
On this occasion, the former investigator no longer lived there but a teenage girl named Carla answered the door. She, like any of the other people we talk to, wasn’t at all interested. But the missionaries, determined to find, asked for a referral. Surprisingly she said, “yeah my mom might be interested, but she’s not here” she added, “try next week”
So they did. Carla answered, “she’s still working you have to come later.”
Next week, “oh she is shopping right now.”
Next week, “Im not sure where she is.”  The missionaries decided that this was a lot of driving for someone who they had never met who may or may not be interested. But they gave it there all and were blessed accordingly.
That Sunday they got a call from a member in another Stake. It was a member, Sister Anderson, who said she had a friend who would be interested in the gospel. The mission felt like they finally received the blessing that they were waiting for. Sister Anderson explained that her husband owns a tire shop in the town and that Maria came in unable to pay for what she needs ed. Brother Anderson asked her what she did for a living. She cleaned houses. He said that they could make a trade of services. And that’s how sister Anderson got to know Maria. Maria barely speaks English and Sister Anderson doesn’t speak Spanish. But that was no excuse for not sharing the gospel.
The missionaries taught Maria at the Anderson home, once, twice and a third time. She had also been to church and loved it all.
Sister Anderson would be out of town for a week so the missionaries asked if they could have a lesson at Maria’s house. She sent them the address and the missionaries went to the lesson. The house seemed very familiar. That’s because it was Karla’s house. Maria was Karla’s mother.
The Lord really does prepare the people. We need to work like it’s up to us and pray like it’s up to the lord. And only when we do that can the Lord’s work be accomplished. I will send pictures from Maria’s baptism next week.
Elder Walker

just a normal week

This week was good. Pretty normal.

We had zone conference in Flagstaff on Tuesday. Flagstaff is further from Prescott than I thought. It is also much colder than I thought. But it was a good meeting. Not much to report. It snowed a lot on our drive back. We didn’t end up getting home until 6pm.

We had some good splits with the branch members. Being in this branch stresses me out. It’s only about 2 months old and I feel like every week if enough people don’t come we will go back to not having a branch. We are really lucky to have a lot of support from branch, stake, and mission leaders. We have been seeing a lot of the stake president recently. He has a genuine interest in helping us in the branch and in general missionary work. On Thursday he invited us to give a training on the area plan in the stake bishopric meeting and the mission president came as well. There were a lot of keys in that room.

This morning the stake president took our district out to breakfast. He’s the best.

That’s all I have for today. This week is interviews with President Collins so I will let you know if he drops any good chisme [jokes].

Elder Walker

Oh yeah I also saw a heard of wild javalina running around the city. Scared me half to death. I don’t understand how something that large can just chill in a city like that.


This Week Brought to you by the Letter G

Good first full week in Prescott Valley!

When I was called to Phoenix I thought of cactus and dirt and 120 degrees. For the first 20 months, I was spot on. But people, you will never believe it. IT SNOWED. Not too much but enough to make me uncomfortably cold. Elder Groesbeck made a cute little snowman.
When I found out I was being transferred up here one of the saddest parts was that I would miss the project connect service project they do in the valley every year. Well, I had exchanges back in the English part of my old area on Thursday and the service project happened to be that day! It was awesome I helped a cute little Guatemalan family around and then asked them if they would meet with the missionaries and they accepted. They would make such good Mormons.
We started visiting all the Hispanic names in the phonebook. Saturday we went through the Garcias. No new investigators but they were all Hispanic so I am counting that as a success.
Sunday was likely my most busy day of the mission yet. We had stake meetings in the morning (which were surprisingly not the worst) then sacrament for the ward, branch council then we split so that Elder Groesbeck could go to ward council and I could go to the branch. We got two awesome new investigators, a meeting with our ward mission leader, and one more family to visit in the evening.
Maria is planning on being baptized on Saturday so I will let y’all know how that goes. She is awesome. Really a testimony of how easy it should be to share the gospel. She cleaned the house for a member in exchange for fixing a tire on her car. The members speak no  Spanish and Maria speaks minimal English. The member started to talk about the gospel and invited her to church and to meet with the missionaries. Even despite not speaking any Spanish she has been the best fellowshipper ever. Maria’s baptismal date was supposed to be last week but she came up to us and said, “Elders,  I don’t want to be baptized anymore.” We tried playing it cool but inside we were devastated. Then she says, “until sister Anderson comes back in town”  She got us pretty good.
We will see how it goes. It is supposed to snow again this week so pray for me.
Elder Walker

Missionary Work is the Same Everywhere

This is the first letter I am writing from Prescott Valley Arizona. I
am sitting on the couch in our house. There aren’t any apartments in
PV. In my last place the beds and the desks couldn’t fit in the same
room. Now we have a 3 bed two bath duplex. Our roommates took the
master bedroom so we sleep in one room and study in the other. The
garage has been converted into a gym.

Last week I found out the winter olympics were going on. I asked out
loud “I thought south Korea was in northern hemisphere, why are they
doing the winter olympics in the summer?” Guys, I legitamemtly forgot
it was still winter. And as it turns out just because Phoenix is 85
degrees does not mean the rest of the world is. It has been snowing
for a good 3 hours now. That’s not okay. It’s too cold here.

So this is my first time covering an English ward on my mission. They
asked me to say a prayer in sacrament meeting. It was rough. Elder
Groesbeck mentioned that I sound uncomfortable praying in English. I
cant imagine what it would be like actually serving a foreign language
mission. I think I got over it pretty quickly though. The members are
cool, They don’t cook quite like the hispanics down in the valley. I do
bring with me a bottle of tapatío and a bag of chile tepín with me
wherever I go just in case.

The spanish branch here is pretty new. This was its third Sunday and
we had about 60 people. There used to be a branch here about three
years ago but it had to be dissolved when the branch president went
inactive. So right now we are just searching through the cities of
Prescott and Prescott Valley looking for hispanic people to come to
church. I had the bright idea to go get a phone book and visit anyone
with a hispanic name, its much more effective than knocking random
doors. I feel like if the average american knew that phonebooks still
existed they would be offended that their name number and address was
public information.

Our english area is tiny. About 4 square miles. Half of it we can’t
tract or they will call the police on us. Our spanish area however is
huge. We have to go to places like Chino Valley or Williamson which is
all dirt roads. Last week I was afraid of a pitbull knocking me off my
bike and this week I am taking cover in my truck from a mad ostrich.
Missionary work is the same everywhere.

Oh and we heard that a bunch of the branch was playing soccer on
saturday so we showed up. It was a lot of fun. My legs are really
sore. I take it as a warning to start running again before i get home
and cant run for 2 minutes without falling down and dying.

Well i think that’s my week. I will try to send pics later. Hasta luego!

Elder Walker

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Meet Maria and Maria

We had a good week. Not too exciting. Just good.

On Wednesday we found two new investigators. And before I tell you about them I want to say that I have taught a lot of Marias on my mission. Like A LOT. So we are teaching these two sisters. They are older. Maybe like in their 50s. One is visiting from Mexico and the other lives here. We ask them what their names are and they pretty much say “so funny story, we are both same Maria, I grew up as Maria and she grew up as Maria so we are just both María.” Keep in mind these are sisters, not friends. So I keep my cool and say  “well you probably have different last names. What are your last names?” Nope their last names are the same. That was a confusing lesson report.
Now time for the real highlight of the week. I made salsa. If was really good. Really picante but I sure did munch on a lot of that stuff. More to come this week.
That’s all I can think of this week. Hope everyone is doing good great! Talk to talk next Monday.

It all started with being sick…

This week was slow. It started with being sick. So not much happened for the first few days. Except for sleeping. A lot of that happened.

On Friday was zone conference. It was really good. We had training on being a consecrated missionary and helping investigators keep commitments. But with all kidding aside, the highlight was most definitely getting smart phones. It feels weird. I don’t feel like a missionary with something so big in my pocket. But I’m not really complaining. It’s a very different mission experience from those who go third world.

Saturday we did a service with the city cleaning up alley behind people houses. I don’t really know what they are for, trash and used needles I guess. It was fun to get outside when it wasn’t too hot.

Sunday President was going to present some training in our ward council meeting. About 20 minutes before the meeting started bishop texted us to tell us that he was sick and wasnt able to come. So that was super stressful. He still came and it was really good. It was full of over emphasised ‘erre’s and Chilean accents. But the ward seems to be getting really excited to help us in the work.


Rumors, Meetings and Nothing to Report

I am having trouble thinking of things to write about this week.

We had a good week as finding goes. This area had over 100 potential investigators en I got here 2 weeks ago. Ive made it a goal to lower that number significantly. So far that has lead to 7 new investigators and 8 drops/deletes.  Some of the profiles are from 2013. I imagine it would be a little creepy if you tell missionaries your name 5 years ago and then hey come back somehow knowing your name and address. Sometimes its just better to pretend you don’t know who it is.
This week church got pushed back to 1 because the other stake had stake conference in our building. That meant we had time for even more meetings in the morning! Before PEC the senior missionaries gathered all the ward leaders to go over the records. Pretty much what I am doing with potentials, they are doing with members.  In these “inner city wards” there are not a lot of people who have sufficient training to be membership clerks, or finance clerks, so they have been sending in what they call “inner city missionaries” from some of the wealthier areas. They are cool. One of the couples is white and the wife doesn’t speak any spanish. She bakes us food though so Im not mad.
We also had zone meeting. Oh wait Im not allowed to call in that. The multi-district meeting. It was alright. Just another long meeting 🙂
Rumor is this week we get phones! Im sure it will be not worth the hype but i will let you know.
Elder Walker