Sunday, December 21, 2014

Week Eighty Two - Transfers and Leaving Garland!

P-Day emailing crew!

Distrito el Garland Espanol!

Zone Christmas picture!

The best zone, ever!!

All is well here in Garland, and today is my last day in Garland!  Last night we received transfer calls and they told me to pack my bags and be at the transfer chapel tomorrow!  I have no idea where I am going or who my new companion.  The anticipation is killing me!  I am quite excited.  Elder Berardy is pretty bummed I am leaving, and I am sad we only had 5 weeks together.  It always seems to be the shortest time spent with the best companions.  I guess that is just the way the cookie crumbles.  It will be good experience for Elder Berardy to take over this area.  Super ready for whatever is to come!
Two of our investigators received their answers to the Book of Mormon this week!  Maria and Patricia Garcia, who I have mentioned before, are the only two in their family that have really been reading.  Patricia is the daughter and she tells us that every time she reads, she feels really happy.  Then there is Maria, the mother, who has been the most hardheaded and stubborn of them all.  She told us that she woke up at 1:00 in the morning with a desire to read the Book of Mormon.  So she went into the closet, and for the first time she actually prayed before reading.  She was having a hard time focusing, so she started reading aloud, and a warm and peaceful sensation came over her that she had never felt before.  And what was that sensation?  The Spirit, of course!  She has really softened and opened up, and it is awesome!  It just goes to show that God wants to give us an answer, we just have to do our part first!  Now she tells us that every time she prays, she sees a vision of a little red brick house that is isolated from a little pueblito, and she wants me to tell her what it means.  I wish I knew!  I am a little worried to leave them, because for some reason they absolutely love me, and it is almost as if Elder Berardy is not even there when we go over there.  But I have confidence in Elder Berardy!  I just love to see the Spirit work on people and soften their hearts. 
This week I finished reading El Libro de Mormon.  I sure do love that book!  
We got cussed out by a homeless borracho the other night, who was playing his guitar outside a laundry mat.  He was really looking for a fight.  As he walked away he yelled to us:  "BATMAN. IS. HERE!"  And I am quite sure he was referring to himself.  It makes me really sad to see people like that.  
Last night we had a good time delivering as many Christmas baggies as we could.  People really liked them!  We still have a few left, but we will hand them out tonight.  Really great idea and I appreciate them!
-I got the 12 days of Christmas letters.  Thank you!
And that's my week!  Or at least all that is worth mentioning.  Thanks for the update.  Know that I love you all and pray for you all!  I am praying for a White Christmas for you!  I love Christmas!  I love being a missionary!  Sometimes it is a bit of a grind, but it is for a good cause and the Lord makes it well worth it!  May we all remember Jesus Christ during this special time of year, discovering more, accepting more fully, and sharing it with all those that we love!  I have a testimony of Jesus Christ and it brings a smile to my face and joy to my soul to be able to share it with Texas every day!
Elder Williams

Week Eighty One - Raking Leaves and Sharing 'He is the Gift'!

Elder Berardy and Elder Williams eating helotes!
David, Cindy and a puppy!

Elder Williams and Elder Crockett survey their work!

That's a lot of leaves!

Providing service!

Hello Family!  

Thanks for the updates.  Happy to hear that all is well!  
Unfortunately, I have very little to tell you about this past week.  It was a decent week, but nothing special.  We are teaching quite a bit, but it has been difficult to get any commitment out of anyone.  It is quite frustrating, but that's missionary work!  We raked lots of leaves this week during the early, slower hours of the day for some investigators and less active members.  We just showed up and started raking, and everybody really appreciated it.  Serving feels good!  
Right now, I believe all the missionaries in the world are sharing a card and a 3 minute video called "He is the Gift".  Not sure if you have seen it, but it you haven't, you need to check it out!  We are sharing it with everybody we can right now, and I love it!  It is short and simple, yet so powerful.  And it's for everybody!  It really brings the Spirit into the homes that we visit.  Share the Gift!
I was not aware of Elder Powell, but I am not the least bit surprised.  He is a solid missionary.  The English AP's are in our zone.  They normally come and play sports for a bit, but yes they are usually crazy busy.  I am far from AP quality, and I probably couldn't handle all that responsibility anyway!
We got the pizza as well as the package from Frances.  THANK YOU!
We are going to get all the Christmas bags out this week, because it could be mine and Elder Berardy's last week together!  The Spanish is great!
I've only found a package at our door once or twice.  They almost always go to the office.  I am quite sure UPS never leaves at the door.  Idk!

Sorry for the short email.  I will make up for it with a few pictures!

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Week Eighty - A White Thanksgiving, Service, Hymns and The Fridge Magnet!

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree!  And....nice socks!

Greetings Family and Friends!

   It sure does bring a smile to my face to hear about your week and adventures with the dogs!  I can only imagine the fun it would be with Sherman and Toby in St. George.  I miss those two pups!  Thanks for the pics too.  Is that Rachel?!  The first thought that came to my mind was that Rachel was some random chick that was Christopher's girlfriend!  She sure has grown up!  Everyone else looks the same.  That blue looks really good on Tom.  Glad to hear that Thanksgiving was spent happily together with family!

   Elder Berardy and I had a pretty good week.  The weather was actually pretty good and quite pleasant for the majority of the week, until today.  Thanksgiving went well for us.  We started the day off with service, cleaning up the yard of a member that is overcoming cancer.  A few of the brethren were there, but the four of us Elders did most of the work.  But it was fun!  We cut down trees.  Then we went to another hermano's house to scoop up dog poop and mow the lawn.  Nobody had cleaned up that backyard for who knows how long!?  Poop. EVERYWHERE!  It made me grateful for a dad that understands the importance of regular poop-scooping.  Love you, Dad!  In the evening we had two dinners to go to, both with Hispanic families, Morales and Serrano families. But the food was surprisingly white!  So it was pretty typical.  At the Serrano's, Hna Serrano told me that she had an ex sister missionary that served in Garland come and cook the food so us missionaries could have a traditional "white" Thanksgiving, because she doesn't know how to cook turkey and stuffing and all that stuff.  I told her that every Thanksgiving that I have had and will ever have has been a traditional "white" Thanksgiving, and she took away my last chance to have a Mexican Thanksgiving.  Oh well!  We were well fed and had a good time.  
Angelica had a mild heart-attack the other day!  But she got to the hospital soon enough, so all is well.  But it was a bit of a scare. 
   So we almost went on a double date to Starbucks this week.  We contacted this girl the other day, and we set up an appointment with her for another day.  She didn't want to do it at her house, because her parents probably wouldn't like us too much.  So we asked her where she wanted to meet up, and she chose Starbucks of all places.  She also said she was going to bring a friend, but her friend bailed last minute.  It was funny because the first thing she said to us when we got to Starbucks was "I just read online that you guys don't drink coffee...we can leave if you don't feel comfortable."  But it was no big deal, so we just talked about the Restoration in Starbucks, surrounded by worldly coffee drinkers.  We were sitting at a table by the line, and in line next to us was this rich looking man with a bow tie, and he kept looking back at us, and we could tell he wanted to say something to us. Once he got his coffee, he turned around to us and told us that we should be teaching out of the Bible and not talking about Joseph Smith.  He said some other things, but that was the gist of it.  I just said "alright thank you sir" over and over again until he left.  I feel like we handled it pretty well, stayed cool on the outside, but you better believe my heart was pumping and my blood was boiling on the inside.  It just amazes me how many people feel like they need to go out of their way to degrade us and beat us down.  But it's okay!  I can handle it.  After that, it was terribly awkward, but it was kind of good.  Gabby, the girl we were talking to, had sympathy for us and was just like "you poor boys, that probably happens all the time, I'm so sorry".  So the lesson was a little rough, but she was super kind, and it took guts for her to go to Starbucks by herself to meet up with two weird guys that she doesn't even know.  So props to her!  We are supposed to teach her again tonight.
   Remember the picture of that family we had dinner with?  We are still teaching them.  They absolutely love when we come over, but it has been hard to have real spiritual, focused lessons with them.  They are just all over the place!  So this week, we decided to start our lesson off with Elder Berardy and I singing a hymn.  I have never really done that before, but I wish I would have been doing it all along.  We sang "I am a Child of God" and they loved it.  It even brought tears to Patricia's eyes!  And now we can't go over there without them asking us to sing a song.  I know we are not really that good, and I know that music is powerful and invites the spirit.  It has really made a difference in our lessons!
   We witnessed a miracle this week.  A couple of weeks ago I lost one of my name tags, the magnet one with the clippy thingy to put on jackets.  We looked for it for a while, but I just gave up and ordered a new one.  But I did pray that God would help me find it.  Then the other day, we were just walking down the sidewalk, and by this point, I had entirely given up and forgotten about my name tag.  But something caught my eye, and it was the clip that my name tag was attached to!  But there was no name tag in sight.  So we decided to knock on the door closest to where we found it, and a lady answered, and I asked if she had it, and she smiled and said "hold on".  Turns out they have been using my name tag as a fridge magnet for the past two weeks!!!  Super funny.  Absolute miracle.  God loves me and he does answer prayers!  Who knows, maybe this lady is our next baptism.  We got her phone number, and hopefully we can teach her this week.  How cool of a conversion story would that be?!
   Last night, the Serranos had us over for dinner again, along with the other elders, Angelica, and the two other coolest families in the ward. After we ate, we had a big family home evening and played lots of games and it was an absolute blast!  Hispanic members of the Church sure do know how to have a good time.  It's nights like that that just make my heart swell with love and joy!  It was really good for Angelica too to see a family home evening and have fun with the members.  I love real, whole-hearted fun after a classic family home evening.  Nothing better.

-I got all the packages.  Thank you!
-Pizza on Thursday for lunch, 1:00 would be great!

Love you all!  

elder Williams

Week Seventy Nine - Feeling Grateful!!

Greetings Family and Friends!  

I don't know what to tell y'all about our week. It was decent, but quite uneventful too. Nothing crazy or exciting or special. It wasn't freezing cold, and some times I didn't even need my jacket! So that was pleasant, but I think this week it's going to get cold again. So that's not too exciting, but we'll survive. Elder Berardy is from Hawaii, you know?  So he like SPAM, because that's what they eat in Hawaii, you know?  So this week I ate SPAM for the first time ever!  And it was actually really good.  Not sure what it is exactly, but I don't know why SPAM has such a bad rep?  Probably because people aren't sure what exactly it is, but oh well!  Elder Berardy got pooped on by a bird this week, so that was pretty funny.  We have a small handful of investigators right now, but we are spending a lot of time trying to find new investigators and searching for those elect, but we didn't have too much luck with that this past week. But this week is a new week and we have high hopes and expectations!  
So this Thursday is el Dia de Pavo, as it is called in the Hispanic culture. THANKSGIVING! We got a couple of dinner invitations from a couple of different families in the branch.  Not sure where exactly we will go, but hopefully both options will work out!  But in this email, because I have so little to tell you about my week, I would like to express my gratitude for my family and friends and blessings and everything that makes my life great.  Coming on a mission has really opened my eyes to how blessed I have been and how great I have always had it.  We spend a lot of time with A and her daughter, D, the two that were recently baptized.  A is the sweetest lady, and she is trying so hard to embrace the gospel and make it a part of her life and the life of her family.  She just left her abusive husband last month, and now she lives with her daughter and her two sons that are 13 and 19.  Her sons are real chumps, they don't do anything but work, play video games, beg for money from their mom, and team up against their mom and sister and make fun of them.  They are both miserable, sad, angry people.  They want nothing to do with us and try to avoid talking with us at almost all costs.  But this past Wednesday, we had dinner with A, and she made her sons eat at the table with us.  To see the way they treat their mom made Elder Berardy and I furious and almost sick.  It wasn't quite bad enough to the point where we needed to say something, but it made me very sad to see that.  That's not what a family should be!  Families should love and support and inspire one another, and enjoy and cherish the time the moments they have to spend together.  I know that they can be hard to do in the moment at times, but right now that has never seemed so easy!  This experience with A and her family made me think about my family, and the family I want to have in the future.  I also thought about other families that I admire, and how it feels in their home.  Throughout my mission I have been in some very pathetic and sad homes, but I have also been in some incredible homes where their is much love and the Spirit is felt strongly.  President Monson said that "love is the essence of the gospel".  I truly believe that there is nothing on the planet that can bring so much love and peace and unity into the home the way the restored gospel can.  And I have that gospel in my life!  And I have a happy, united and blessed family!  And for that reason I am content and grateful.  There are some days when I am just so full of gratitude that I can hardly keep myself from dancing and screaming and making an absolute fool of myself!  It feels good to be grateful.  We all have more than we realize to be grateful for.  So mom, dad, Tom, Em, grandmas and grandpas, aunts, uncles, and cousins, the Little Cottonwood 5th ward, and freinds and every body else  - THANK YOU!  My life has been filled with great people that have done more for me than they realize!  I hope and pray that everybody has a great week and a happy happy Thanksgiving with bulging tummies and hearts full of gratitude!  

Elder Williams

Monday, November 17, 2014

Week Seventy Eight - New Companion and Completing a Sister Mission!

New companions!  David and Elder Berardy!

Dinner with investigators! 

Dinner with investigators! 

Hello Fam!  

   This week was FREEEEEZING!!!  And I don't really have anything to share with you other than transfers.  So yeah, transfers were tuesday and it was wack!  There was a chapel stuffed full of missionaries, and everybody there was getting a new companion, and nobody knew who their new companion was going to be.  So it was very exciting, but quite nerve-racking as well, as you could probably imagine.  They announced the new companionships using a slideshow, going zone by zone, and your picture would pop up with your new companion next to it.  And my new companion is Elder Berardy!  He came to the mission with my last companion, Elder Alkonis, and was trained by one of my old companions, Elder Patton, in my last area, McKinney.  So we get to talk about the good ol' days in McKinney all the time and it is fun.  Elder Berardy has decent Spanish, but what I love about him is that he is super motivated to learn and master spanish, and he has no shame of talking with everybody.  You can still tell that he is pretty new to the mission lifestyle, but he is learning quickly and he is a great missionary!  He is always super happy and loves to be around people.  Elder Berardy is pretty much a stud.  Half American, half Filipino, and born and raised in Hawaii.  He surfs and cliff dives and has basically lived the dream life for the last 22 years.  He has already graduated from BYU Hawaii, and he has a degree in exercise science, or something along those lines.  He loves sports, is super laid back, and had 1300 followers on Instagram!  So that's my companion.  I think we are going to get along quite well together.  

   On Wednesday, the Hermanas that I came out with went home.  That's sooo crazy!  I have now completed a sister mission.  Hard to believe.  

This week was miserably cold and difficult, but we did have some good things happen.  We had a zone conference, where we got together with three other zones and heard some uplifting words and inspiring trainings.  Good stuff!  

We are teaching a family that is super Christian and love love love their Bible.  We have spent a lot of time trying to help them understand and accept the Book of Mormon, and I think we are making some progress.  They really really like us, and they had us over for dinner on Thursday, and they wanted to take pictures with us afterward.  Ha!  After dinner we had to go to a branch activity, but we didn't have a ride.  They then offered to take us, and their plan was to just drop us off at the Church, but we talked them into coming in for just 5 minutes.  So we walked them around the building and explained a few things to them, and we were about to walk into the cultural hall where the activity and the members were, but they didn't want to go in.  But right in that moment, branch president found us and got to talk to this for a minute.  Then, as we were walking them to the door, another member came out and started talking to them, and then another, and somehow the members convinced them to come into the cultural hall and stay for an entire hour!  I love members : ) The activity was a family history activity, and Angelica came and found out that her father was married 11 times!  So that was kind of interesting. But other than that one family, we are trying to work with a few part-member families, but it has been difficult to get any real commitment out of them.  Typical.  But things are going alright, and it should warm up a little bit this week.  Just doing my best to stay positive and do all that is asked of me.

-we haven't a Christmas tree, that I am aware of.  
-not sure why they changed the way transfers are done, but I think they are going to continue doing it that way, but try to get the calls to us a night or two earlier. 
-still district leader : )
-I have not yet bought any new bedding, not sure if I will.
-I have not been warm enough, but I don't know what else I could do to be warmer.  I do wear the long johns that you sent me, and I bought another pair this week.  They help.
-I haven't thought of anything else I need for Christmas.

Thanks for the updates on things back home.  I miss you all and love you to Kolob and back!  


Sunday, November 16, 2014

Week Seventy Seven - Basketball With President Taylor, Baptism and Transfers!

Elder Alkonis, Ashley and David at her baptism! 
Zone conference!

Hey Y'all!

   Our week was good, a couple rough days of rain, but we survived, and the last few days have been rather pleasant.  

Monday, after emailing, we got to play a few intense games of basketball with President Taylor, as well as the bishop of one of the wards, and a recent convert that played on the Guatemala national basketball team.  We played 4 on 4, viejitos against jovenes, 5 game series, and the jovenes one!  Mostly because of Elder Truman, who is 6 foot 8 and played basketball at Snow for a year.  But we played 5 close games,and President Taylor has still got it!  He is a lights out shooter.  One of the games he ended it by nailing a 3 right in my face!  I was honored.  But in the end, they couldn't keep up, and they might be coming back today for series # 2.

Angelica and DeeAna are doing great.  We had dinner with them twice this week.  They are true CONVERTS!  DeeAna went to a different church yesterday with a friend, and she told us that she likes ours better because it just makes more sense.  She's 10 years old!  Already figuring it out.

On Thursday we had a zone meeting, and Elder Alkonis was asked to give a five minute training.  I would like to quote the opening and closing lines of his training:  "So when I do things like this, I tend to teach false doctrine.  So if you hear any of that, don't be afraid to speak up.  However, if you see any spelling errors, you can keep those comments to yourself."  Closed off by saying:  "So I believe in this.  Doesn't mean I always do it, but yeah.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen."  That's Elder Alkonis for ya!  The last half of the zone meeting we talked about the Atonement and the importance of deepening our understanding and strengthening our testimonies of the Atonement.  In the first chapter of Preach my Gospel, it reads: "As your understanding of the Atonement of Jesus Christ grows, your desire to share the gospel will increase".  That is an interesting concept, and I think too many of us have a very shallow understanding of the Atonement, and we should all spend more time studying it.  What a blessing it is to have a knowledge of the Atonement!

Saturday we had a baptism!  Ashley is 10 years old and she is the cutest and sweetest little girl ever!  She is super funny too, and lots of fun to teach.  On Monday we witnessed a miracle.  The zone leaders were on their way to Ashley's to do the baptismal interview with her.  We showed up first, and she was asleep. . . this was our biggest fear because she is the heaviest sleeper ever!  One time we watched her grandma try to wake her up for a half hour and make no progress.  It is next to impossible to wake her up!  And her mom didn't even want to try to wake her up because she was sick and didn't get much sleep the night before.  So we were just going to call and ask the zone leaders to try to come back later at the end of the day, but they insisted on doing it right then as soon as they showed up.  So we started praying that all would work out.  The zone leaders showed up, we went to the door, and to our pleasant surprise, there she was, wide awake and walking around!  She was able to have her baptismal interview, she passed, and she was baptized Saturday by her uncle.  MIRACLE!  There was also another little boy baptized at the same time, someone that Elder Crockett and Elder McBride have been teaching.  The baptismal service was supposed to start at 4:00.  Ashley showed up 15 minutes early.  What a relief that was!  But then, her uncle didn't show up until right at 4:00, the speaker that was supposed to speak about the Holy Ghost didn't show up until 4:20, and the other boy that got baptized didn't show up until 4:35!  Unreal.  I wanted to pull my hair out!!!  Nothing ever seems to go smoothly for baptisms.  It is terribly frustrating, but in the end, we are just happy that it happens.  : D

So yeah, President Taylor threw everybody a curve ball Friday night by announcing that transfer calls would not be made until Monday night, and that we weren't even going to be told who our new companions would be, or where we are even going.  All they are going to tell us is if we are leaving or staying, and the new companionships will be announced Tuesday morning at the chapel in front of everybody!  I don't know why it is being done this way, but it is pretty exciting!  But at the same time, I have been dying to know these last three days!  A lot of missionaries are quite upset, because these complicates things with goodbyes, packing, and finding rides.  But President Taylor is an inspired man.  I don't have a big problem with it.  I just want to know!  Elder Alkonis and I already have two transfers together, so we are expecting a call.  No idea who is going and who is staying, and I don't want to make predictions.  I'll let you know next week!  

-President Taylor said a month or two ago that iPads will be coming at the beginning of the year.  No date yet, and I don't think it is even a for sure thing.  Missionaries in this mission have been expecting iPads pretty since I got here, so many guesses on when they would be here, and still nothing.  So who knows?!  I think the iPad hype has kind of died here.  We'll get them when we get them.  

-Every apartment I've been in has had a cd player.


That's about it for this week.  Thanks for everything!  Love you all!  Until next week!  


Elder Williams

Week Seventy Six - Halloween, a Baptism and Dinner With the Darquea Family!

Dinner with the Darquea family!

Dinner with the Darquea family!

Elder Alkonis and David at DeeAna's baptism! 

Elder Truman as President Taylor and David!

Howdy Y'all!  
   Elder Alkonis and I had another great week here.  We had a baptism!  DeeAna is 10 and the daughter of Angelica, the lady that was baptized five weeks ago.  As we first started teaching Angelica, DeeAna wasn't really interested and just wanted to stick with what she knew, which was Catholicism.  But when DeeAna saw her mom get baptized, she changed her mind, and Saturday was her big day!  We are pretty good friends with those two now.  We were able to go over there nearly every day of this past week to prepare DeeAna for her baptism.  DeeAna has two older brothers that are real chumps, and she told us this week that we are now like her cool, nice brothers, and that felt really good!  Angelica is doing great since being baptized.  She is already reading something from the Church, whether it be the Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, or the Teachings of the Prophets.  She is smart and just gets it.  She understands and accepts anything we teach her, and she is really embracing the whole Mormon thing.  She came with us to a lesson for the first time the other day, and she is even giving us names and addresses of her friends and family in her home town to send missionaries to!  She should be getting a calling here pretty soon to be an English class teacher.  I've really been able to see the change that the Gospel has brought into her life, and I could not be happier for her and her daughter!  

   Halloween was fun!  At 6:00 the whole zone had to be at the stake center.  We had a testimony meeting and we got to hear the testimony of every mission in the zone.  We have a pretty great zone.  After the zone meeting we just played volleyball for the rest of the night.  So not your typical Halloween, but it was a good time.  Other than that, I can't really think of much else to tell you.  We taught quite a bit, we got the members out with us a lot this week, and we are just working hard to have one more baptism this next week to end the transfer well!  I've had to break out the jacket the last few days, but it is still quite pleasant outside with a jacket on.  No complaints here!   

-I got two packages from mother, and one from grandma and grandpa.  Thanks for everything!  I am now set on snacks for the next little while! 

-I haven't bought any new bedding.  If I do it will be right before I leave the area.  

-Bed bugs haven't been a problem at all this week.  Happy to have that taken care of!  

-I had lots of bites, just itchy little red dots.  No big deal!

Did you get my letter with the art project in it?

Sorry it's a short one this week.  But I want to thank everybody for the love and support.  I love you!  

Elder Williams

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Week Seventy Five - Happy Halloween and Missing Utah!!

This really made me laugh because Hermano Darquean is one of the kindest, most innocent people I know.  He said he has never even seen the movie because it is too dark for him.  He tried super hard to pull it off, but I couldn't stop laughing! 

I want to thank you for the update on things back home.  It sounds like you had a good time with the missionary parents the other day.  Sister Wyss's mom sent me a picture!  I don't get to hear much about baseball here.  I think partly because the Rangers didn't do as well as they should have this year, and also because Hispanics are way big into soccer, more than anything else.  So that is super exciting!  It is hard to believe that the World Series is here already.  And even harder to believe that the Royals are in it!  I remember a couple of years ago when James Paloukos told me that they were his favorite team, and promised me that the Royals would be good in a few years.  Who would have thunk! 
   A little more about Lance - that was one of his 12 "uniforms".  He has them in all sorts of colors and patterns.  He claims to be the chief designer for the S.S.A. and has been doing it nearly all his life.  He told us that he is always outside of Kroger showing off his uniform and looking for attention.  And boy does he get it!
   Elder Alkonis and I had a decent week.  It wasn't anything too special though. Every body we are teaching right now are women.  I don't think we are teaching a single man!  What's up with that?!  But we did make some good progress with one of our investigators, Lily, that we found almost two months ago.  She is just barely over coming cancer.  She is very humble and soft spoken, and very sweet.  She goes to another church, but doesn't feel like it is satisfying her spiritual needs entirely.  The people at her other church told her not to read the Book of Mormon, and she told us that she feels something deep inside that urges her to keep reading.  The Spirit, duh!  So she said she is going to keep reading.  She also came to Stake Conference this weekend with a member and liked it a lot.  I have a good feeling that tells me she will be baptized one day, but I think it will take a while.  Another one of our investigators had their interview yesterday and will be getting baptized this Saturday.  Woohoo!
   So this weekend was the Richardson Stake Conference, and every single talk was about missionary work!  President and Sister Taylor are in this stake, and we got to hear from the both this weekend.  They are superb speakers.  Sister Taylor has a heart the size of Texas!  She can never say anything at the pulpit without crying.  Normally that would be kind of annoying, but she is just so loving and sweet and genuine that it touches your heart every time.  I don't know if I have ever met a woman so passionate about the gospel.  
   We also had the branch Halloween party on Friday and it was lots of fun!  Hispanics are funny.  In Hispanic countries, the tradition is el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), which is celebrated on the first of November.  It is a day to worship the devil and is a very evil day.  So lots of members didn't come, others refuse to dress up, or let their kids dress up, and they just don't like Halloween.  Lots of people we have talked to lately ask us about Halloween and tell us that it is a very evil day.  One of our new investigators is from Guatemala and she told us that one Halloween/Dia de los Muertos years ago in Guatemala, she was walking passed a cemetery when she saw a lady dig up a grave, pull out a dead body, open up the head and eat the brains.....Kind of hard to believe, and maybe I just don't understand the culture, but all I want to tell these people is "lighten up!"  It's all about where your heart is, folks. There is nothing wrong with dressing up like Mario or Superman and getting lots of free candy.  
   Saturday night Elder Alkonis and I discovered the most horrific scene of my whole mission.  Elder Truman and Elder Walters finally moved out on Saturday.  So as we were rearranging the beds, Elder Alkonis discovered a little bug on the box spring... Yup.  You guessed it.  BED BUGS.  Elder Alkonis let out a shriek and starting freaking out and immediately took the box spring to the dumpster.  The feeling you get the moment you discover that you have bed bugs is a terrible feeling.  I want to compare it to the feeling that you get when you hit a car.  NOOO!   and you want to say some colorful words, but you don't because you know better.  So that night we had a hard time sleeping, and Sunday we spent a big chunk of time finding more and then blazing our whole apartment with a heat gun to kill them all. I feel like we did a pretty thorough job, but Elder Midgley from the mission office is coming by today to treat the apartment more.  So that was the scare and frustration of the week.  Do bed bugs even exist in Utah?  I want Utah!
-I don't know how President Taylor is with the hair policy, but my hair doesn't do gel well, and helmet hair looks unprofessional! so as long as I'm on a bike, this is how I'm doing my hair until he tells me otherwise. 
-I don't know how President Taylor feels about missionaries being picked up by their parents.  But I have given a little thought to that, and I think I would prefer to have the traditional experience of arriving at the SLC airport with my family waiting for me.  Is that okay with y'all?
-I will send you a Christmas list!
-My feet are all better!  The doctor told me to use the medication until it is gone to prevent it from coming back, and I finish up the pills tomorrow.
Thank you all for the emails and love and support and prayers.  I love and miss everybody!  I hope everybody has a spooky but safe Halloween! 
Elder Williams

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Week Seventy Four - Temple Visit and The Most Interesting Man in Garland!

Kassandra after her baptism!

The most interesting man in Garland!

Lance of the S.S.A. and David!

Just a couple of Elders in Garland!

Texas Sunset!

Dear Family and Friends,

    This week went quite well.  We had some good things happen!  The weather is almost perfect right now.  Some afternoons the sun is still a little too strong, but it is quite pleasant to be outside these days!  Here are a few things that happened this past week:
-On Tuesday, Elder Crockett came with me on an exchange, which I was hoping would be good experience for our companions, because neither one of them can really speak Spanish.  Elder Crockett and I have fun together.  He is really funny when he is happy, he is just hardly ever happy!  But the exchange was a success. 
-Friday we went to the temple with Angelica Huichapa and her daughter, DeeAna, who will be baptized in a couple of weeks.  We did a lap around the temple, then went inside to sit in the lobby.  Angelica was absolutely loving it.  She said she didn't want to leave!  I just love the temple.  Then, to make things even better, as we were leaving the temple, a rich member in his Audi pulled up to us and gave us 20 bucks for dinner.  What a miracle that was because we weren't going to have a dinner that night!  So the trip to the temple was edifying and successful!  
-Saturday we got to go back to McKinney for the baptism of Kassandra Ochoa.  Elder Packham and I found her back in May.  She showed up a half hour late to her baptism!  Unreal.  But she got baptized!  So that was neat to see!  After the baptism, Sister Holm had us over for lunch.  She is just too kind to us!  I don't know if there is anything she loves more than having the Elders at her house to eat.  
-Last night we met the most interesting man in Garland: Lance of the S.S.A (Secret Soldiers of America), some guy that has watched a few too many movies and done a lot of drugs I would imagine.  He told us we are in "GROUND ZERO" for Ebola.  He showed us a video of a UFO and claims that it only lasted 10 minutes on the internet before the government took it off.  So how he had it, I don't know.  He taught us how to take out our enemies with hammer - one hit to the ankle and they are done for.  We talked to him for about a half hour.  He was actually kind of scary!  The picture will explain...
-We have a couple of baptisms coming up in a couple of weeks, both young girls.  DeeAna, whose mom was baptized a few weeks ago, and then Ashley, who is 11 years old.  Her aunt and grandma are both active members in the Church and bring her to Church all the time.  Ashley has lots of energy and is super cute and funny.  At the end of every lesson, she has to turn whatever we taught into a game.  And she is actually pretty good and clever with it!  So she is lots of fun to teach, and she is super excited to get baptized!  

-I will put the art project in the mail today!
-The english elders we have been living with are being forced out this week.
-Training is hard, requires lots of patience, and wears me out!  But Elder Alkonis doesn't make it too hard on me.
-My new shoes are brown.  Goes better with my blue suit!  
-We hear a lot about Ebola.  Mostly jokes though.  However there was a scare at North Garland High School, which is where all the kids in my area go.  I never heard the full story, but I guess it was just a false alarm.  President and Sister Taylor say they are watching it like a hawk and we don't need to worry until they say something or move us.  So I'm not too worried!  

Thanks for the pics and the updates!  I am happy to hear that all is well and everybody is happy.  That was my week.  All is well!  Can't complain!  I appreciate all of the love and support!  I love and miss everybody!  Also, if you haven't sent off my package yet, I could use some cetaphil face lotion.  Thanks!  Bye!

Elder Williams

Week Seventy Three - Meet the Mormons and Lessons From President Taylor!


President Taylor lip-syncing to "I hope they call me on a mission!"

Bautismo de Katelyn Guevara!

David's zone at the Meet the Mormons showing.

Hey Fam!
   We had a pretty eventful week here in Garland.  To start off, we had an epic meeting on Tuesday where the entire mission got together to watch 'MEET THE MORMONS'!  We met up at a chapel in Garland/Dallas for a breakfast, then a hysterical musical number by President and Sister Taylor and the Possey, then an activity and a few trainings before the meeting.  President Taylor gave a great training on the Spirit.  At the last meeting we had, President Taylor pleaded with us to stop beating ourselves up, stop being so hard on ourselves, and stop listening to the discouraging voice of the adversary in our heads.  So this time, he gave a training on the other side of the spectrum, as the Spirit is what encourages and lifts us up to be better and happier people.  Happy people are FULL of the Spirit.  Being around people that are full of the Spirit feels good!  We enjoy listening to General Conference because those men are FULL of the Spirit!  He then explained that the price to pay to be happy, to be successful, to have the Spirit, is OBEDIENCE.  He explained it all in such a simple and understandable way that I have never really thought of before.  One of the many things I have learned on my mission is the importance of the Spirit in our lives.  Before my mission, I never really thought in terms of "is this going to invite the Spirit or distance it?"  President Taylor shared an experience with us from when he was playing basketball at BYU, and right before one of their games, in the locker room, President Ezra Taft Benson came in to give them a pep talk and told them that "the Spirit will be their greatest asset both on and off the court".  I am starting to gain a testimony of that.  I don't doubt it one bit.  We just need to pray the price and obey.  Anyway, then we watched the movie and it was incredible!  I felt weird watching a movie, but it was very interesting and inspiring and touching.  I am proud to be a Mormon.  I love being Mormon!  If you haven't seen it yet, go check it out!  We ended the meeting by singing a series of hymns, and there is an Elder that just got here that is an absolute pro with the organ, so that added some power.  It was probably one of the most spiritually powerful experiences of my life.  "I'm in heaven! I'm in heaven! In the Texas Dallas Mission I'm in heaven!!!"  (a classic song from President Durrant)
   After the meeting I went on an exchange with Elder Adams to his area.  He is a great missionary and it was fun to be working with him again.  I got to go back to McKinney on Saturday for a baptism!  So I got to see some old and familiar faces, and that is always nice!  We have a couple of baptismal dates right now for two young girls, but other than that, we don't have much going on.  We are doing lots of knocking and contacting and it isn't getting us much.  It is frustrating and tiring.  But I am trying to look at it as a trial of my faith, so we will keep pushing on and working hard.  Some prayers would be appreciated.
-If the General Conference Ensign comes out before you send the package, I would love a copy of that in English.  We should get one in English and one in Spanish from the mission office for the companionship, but I would like my own copy.  Also, I  have a jacket/hoody/coat at home that is grey, I think it is Columbia, and it is really soft inside.  I was thinking that it might be nice to have this winter, if you can find it.  Other than that, nothing comes to mind. I'll be happy to receive whatever you send!  
-The socks are nice, but I think they will be better for winter weather. 
-The last few days have been dark and glum and a little cold.  Saturday I had to break out my jacket for the first time in months!  I heard this winter is supposed to be super bad.  I'm scared! 
-The storm had already simmered down by the time we got there, Mother.  Don't worry about it! 
Mom and Em - I have another art project for y'all if you have the time and are feeling up to it.  This one should be less work than the last one.  Can you help me out?
Thank you for the updates and the pictures.  I hope Emilee had a an enjoyable day on Saturday. The girl that was baptized on Saturday was baptized on her birthday, which is Em's Birthday!  Kinda funny.  So I was thinking about you, Em!  Thank you for the support and love and all that you do for me.  I love and miss everybody! 
Elder Williams

Monday, October 6, 2014

Week Seventy Two - Lessons From Conference, the Arboretum and Tornado Warnings!

Elder Truman at the arboretum!

David at the Arboretum!

The arboretum!

Elder Truman and Elder Alkonis at the Arboretum!
The arboretum!

The arboretum!

Elder Truman, David, Elder Meads and Elder Alkonis!

Rims in Texas!

Buenos dias Familia y Amigos!

   So this week was pretty good!  On Monday some members that the zone leaders live with took a bunch of missionaries out to lunch and then to the Dallas Arboretum, a big and super fancy garden in Dallas where you just walk around and enjoy the scenery.  Not exactly what I get excited over, but it was nice and kind of a fun preparation day activity!  The English Elders are still living with us.  They were about to move back to their apartment until they stopped by to do one last bedbug check, and they found more.  So we might be stuck with them for another transfer.  Elder Truman's companion is Elder Walters.  We go home at the same time.  I got to know him pretty well last year about this time when we served near each other.  He is a cool kid and a good missionary.  The four of us get along pretty well.  On Friday we had a zone meeting, and the zone leaders asked me to give a training.  Normally I get excited when we have a zone meeting, because that means we don't have district meeting and I don't have to do anything!  But Elder Adams and Elder Cheathum took that away from me this week.  Giving trainings is definitely not something I enjoy doing, but it went well, and it is good experience for life.  So I'm not complaining.  The highlight of our week was, of course, General Conference!  I learned a lot, had some questions answered, received some good counsel that I am excited to apply into my life, and I was spiritually reenergized with a boost to get me through the next six months!  It is hard to distinguish just one central message or theme of the Conference, because every speaker is answering different prayers of different people in different situations.  But I do know that God spoke to all of us according to what we needed to hear at this time.  Multiple names that I have been praying for lately came to mind during certain talks and I had the thought "hey! this is for _____! I just pray that they are listening right now!"  But the great thing about it is that General Conference talks are so accessible these days that we still have a chance! 
      Here are a few things that stood out to me as I watched General Conference: 
-TRUTH is TRUTH and we should not look for ways around it but trust and support the Brethren, having faith that there counsel comes from the Almighty God of TRUTH.
-We should be saints of INTEGRITY with complete loyalty to the Lord, taking accountability upon ourselves for all we do and are.  
-Stick to and LIVE the FUNDAMENTALS.  In my notes, next to every name that spoke, I put P's and R's and O's every time prayer, scripture study, and obedience were mentioned.  My notes are filled with "PRO"s!  I wrote down a handful of questions before Conference, and I know doubt received answers to some, but at the same time, as I think about certain questions that I wrote down, something tells me that I already know the answer to these questions.  We have been told what we need to do time and time again.  We just need to do it!  

-I did get Em's mug.  She is a pro with this pottery stuff now!  Unfortunately, the handle was broken into three pieces when I got it.  But fortunately, there's super glue!  So I glued it and it is good as new!  Thanks Emmy!
-My feet are a lot better and the prescriptions are really working.  No need for reinforcements.  
-We watched Conference in the chapel and it was absolutely superb!
-There was a pretty nasty storm on Thursday I believe.  We went into a rec center because it was looking like it was about to down poor any minute.  And sure enough, it did.  Then the tornado sirens went off and they told everybody to get in the bathrooms.  I was thinking "oh snap this is serious!"  Luckily the English Elders showed up right then, so we hussled out to the car, and five minutes later when we showed up to Chik-fil-A it was over and that was it.  Last night we woke up to hail hitting the window and some pretty intense thunder, but now it's sunny and just looking like a beautiful day!  So we didn't see anything too serious here in Garland.  

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO MY MOST FAVORITE SISTER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (to be delivered the day of)

Thank you for the updates on everyone!!  I'm super jealous about Jim Gaffigan.  Did he do his hot pocket jokes or was it all something you haven't seen before? That sounds like a super good time!  I love and miss everybody and I am grateful for all the love and support that I receive from everybody back home!  I recently received letters from Dad and Sister Iba.  Thank you!  Your letters truly make my day!  I hope and pray that eveybody has the best week ever!  

Elder Williams

The Prank!

David told us about a prank that the other companionship played on them in their apartment, but didn't give us any detail about what actually happened.  Here's the whole story as told by Elder Meads in his e-mail to his family....boys!!

We pranked the elders in our apartment bad! it ended in a 911 call hahahahahaha. 
So we bought these bathtub crayons and we drew this on the shower wall and put a knife with spaghetti sauce on it in the tub.. we left the front door wide open and moved the beds around in the bedroom! They were freaking out and were like we think someone is in here still... maybe they are in the shower.. we played a long and they were soooo scared and they opened the shower curtain super fast and they gasped and were OH MY GOSH!!!!! one of the elders were cussing they were so scared and mad! hahahahahahaha... elder Williams decided to call 911 and we were like no lets just call some other elders and see if it is a prank and they obviously had no idea about it and so elder Williams calls 911 and we were freaking out and were trying to tell him it was a joke and to hang up! but he wouldn't.. we had to yank the phone from his hands and hang up! they called right back and were trying to figure out what was going on and they came to the house to make sure everything was okay hahahaha.. we washed everything off the bathtub so they wouldnt think we were crazy and everything was all good.... I recorded the whole thing on a recorder i bought! oh too good!

Week Seventy One - Staying in Garland and Excited for Conference!

Elder Alkonis, Angelica and David!

David being disappointed in his 'baby' breakfast burrito....

Greetings Family and Friends!  

   Elder Alkonis and I had our best week yet this past week in Garland!  We taught a lot, we had lots of support from the members, and we had another baptism!  Angelica H. was baptized on Saturday.  She is great, and more baptisms from her family should come soon.  Transfer calls have always come Saturday nights, but this weekend they were postponed until Sunday night, which threw everybody for a loop!  But all the anxiety and excitement was for nothing in the case of Elder Alkonis and I.  We are staying for another one together in Garland!  Not surprised, not excited, but not really disappointed either. Things are going well here, and I get to be outside on a bike during the most beautiful month of the year!  For Texas at least.  Elder Meads and Elder Truman got a change - Elder Meads is going to Plano to be a zone leader, and Elder Truman is getting Elder Walters as his companion.  I served around Elder Walters when I was in Lakewood.  He is a good kid.  Not sure if they are going to live with us again.  I'm hoping they don't, just because four missionaries in one apartment is a lot to handle and it has warn me out!  But at the same time, I'm not going to force them out of the apartment.  So we will just have to wait until tomorrow when Elder Walters gets here.  A member from an English ward took us out to lunch this week to a super nice sea food restaurant.  Aligator tenders, catfish, shrimp, and grits!  I wasn't a big fan of the grits, the catfish wasn't anything special, but the rest super duper yummy!  Some members are just too kind to us.     

GENERAL CONFERENCE WEEKEND!!!  I could not be more excited for Conference!  I hope and pray that everybody prepares themselves spiritually and does all that they can to get the most out of this super weekend!   A member in the branch yesterday shared a funny yet true story, but I didn't catch if it was a personal experience of his or someone he knew, or just a scenario, but I'm sure it happens - 
A member and a nonmember get talking about what they had going on for the upcoming weekend.  The member says that he is going to spend the weekend watching General Conference.  To no surprise, the nonmember has no idea what General Conference is, so it was the perfect missionary opportunity for this member to explain what it is!  He says something along these lines:  "General Conference is a worldwide conference from our Church that happens every six months, where we listen to the prophets and apostles that are God's modern day mouthpieces, and they tell us what God wants us to know in these latter days."  The nonmember was fascinated and said "how neat!  What is it that God told the world at the last conference?"  Now, put yourselves in that situation.  Would you know how to answer that question?  I don't know if I would be able to.  I watched all 10 hours of the last Conference and I enjoyed every minute of it and learned bunches.  For me, I noticed that many of the talks were about the importance of a strong and unshakable testimony in these latter days, and how we can deepen and strengthen our testimony so that we do not fall when tempted.  It makes sense, because the adversary is working harder than ever to pull us away from the Gospel and destroy our lives with the nasty things of the world.  From what I can remember, that is what the "theme" of Conference was for me, but I still don't know if that answers the question very well.  What did God tell the world at Conference?  It is an interesting way to look at Conference, and I would like to invite all those who read this to pay attention during Conference to be able to answer that question when it is over.  What will God tell us through General Conference this weekend?  I would love to hear some responses to that question next week!  

-I can't think of anything I desperately need you to send me right now, other than some garment tops.  The ones I have are getting warn out and a little itchy.  So you can send me what ever you can find in my room.  You shouldn't need to buy me any new ones.  Maybe a jump rope.  I should have one in my gym bag, but I have no idea where that is these days. Other than that, just some yummy treats, not pure candy, and whatever else you want to throw in there!
-The weather is still quite hot most days, low 90's, the sun is still strong but it does feel a little bit more fresh outside, some trees are changing, and we are starting to see a wee little hint of autumn in the air! 
-Biking isn't too bad, physically it is getting easy, I just cannot stand having to be so dependent on people.  That is the worst part about it, and I am not looking forward to another six weeks of that.     

-I will forward you some pictures and a summary of the prank in the eyes of Elder Meads, the brains behind the prank.  He kind of stretched the truth on a few things, but it will do.

-Dad, is Larry that guy that lives where we used the jackhammer to tear apart his back patio?  Happy to hear you are busy! There is nothing better than being busy!  
-Em, did you get my letter?
-Tom, are you in institute?  You should sign up for institute at UVU!  Try to get into Brother Knolton's class, he's hilarious!  I think that is his name, it's something like that at least. 
- Mother, next week I want to hear all about what you learned from our dear prophets and apostles  ; ) 

Thank you for the updates, I love to hear about what is going on at home!  I hope everything goes well for everyone this next week, and I want you to know that you are in my prayers!  
Cuidense y Dios les bendiga!  

Elder Williams