Sunday, April 26, 2015

Week One Hundred and One - Downtown Dallas, Temple Visit and Coming Home is Sinking In!

Go BIG or go home!  In downtown Dallas!

Seeing the sights in downtown Dallas!

Family Home Evening!

David helping with Family Home Evening!

Picture from Facebook - must have been St. Patrick's Day!

Rosalba takes the boys out to Texas Road more time!

Goofing around at Texas Road House!

David enjoying a nice meal!

And checking out some sports on TV!

Happiness!  Everyone is going to miss Rosalba!

David and President Taylor!

Fun times at Top Golf!

Top Golf!

The crew having fun at Top Golf!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!  But don't celebrate today, we can celebrate in 9 days!  I hope you have an awesome day!
It's good to hear from home, and I'm terribly sorry to hear about Steve.  Him and the family will most definitely be in my prayers.  
MONDAY we went to Top Golf with most of the zone to hit some golf balls.  It was lots of fun, but everybody there was pretty terrible at golfing, including me!  
TUESDAY I went on an exchange with the Lakewood English Elders, in a trio with the two of them for the day.  They had nothing planned for the afternoon, so we went and walked the streets of Downtown Dallas to contact people.  White people are intimidating.  I don't think I had ever been rejected so much in so little time.  There were tons of people, but most wouldn't even accept an Easter Jesus card from us... Hispanics never turn down a card!  I guess people in DT Dallas are too good, too rich, too beautiful for the Gospel... or so they think.  We did, however, teach one lesson to a kind recovering drug addict in a park.  Not much came of our time in downtown, but it was a little refreshing to see something new and outside of Garland.  
WEDNESDAY was a pretty special day.  17 of us Elders, all going home on the 29th, went to the temple in the morning with President and Sister Taylor.  It was super duper neat to be there with the guys I started out with.  It is just the absolute best feeling to be in the temple.  While sitting in the temple, I felt at peace, content and satisfied with what I have done in Texas for the last two years.  I felt calm, confident, and hopeful about the future.  I felt ready to take on the world!  After the session, we ate lunch together in the temple cafeteria, which actually wasn't that bad of food.  It was also President Taylor's birthday, so we had cake!  It was a sweet sweet day!
That same day a member from the Casa Linda ward returned home from his mission in Brazil.  His family lives in our area, they feed us from time to time, and they seem to really like me for some reason, so we were invited to go to the house and eat with them and the extended family.  The kid that came home from his mission is named Jordy, and he is a super cool, humble kid.  We got to talk to him a little bit, and he looked out of place, not sure what to think.  It made my soon departure from Texas more real than ever! 
The rest of the week was somewhat normal, yet uneventful.  We ate a lot of food this week, everybody seems to be taking us out to eat.  So I'm making one last push to get fat before I come home.  I'm pretty excited, but duty calls, and we are pretty busy here, which is nice.  It makes it easy to keep focused.  This week is really going to fly by!  And it should be a superb last week!  

-Jordy Garcia spoke in sacrament meeting yesterday for his homecoming, so I will be speaking next week.
-You can tell Toby that there is nothing that gets me more excited about coming home than when I think about seeing his darling face!  
-Haven't sent anything home yet, but I started organizing some stuff and getting things ready to send home. 
-Not sure who will be the next zone leader, and I'm not involved in that decision.  Lots has been happening throughout the mission, like emergency transfers and missionaries going home, so this next transfer meeting should be huge and crazy!  
-Elder Denos is doing great.  He shouldn't have any trouble taking over the area next week! 

I hope Grandma has a happy birthday on Friday!  I would have liked to write some birthday letters, but there is just too little time in the day.  Just postpone the birthday celebrations!  Or even better, celebrate them twice!  
I love y'all!  May God be with you this week to lift, comfort and strengthen you!  

Elder Williams

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Week One Hundred - Good, Solid Missionary Work and Running Out of Time!

The group that comes home at the same time!

With President and Sister Taylor!

At the Dallas Temple!

David, Elder Adams and Elder Powell - buddies from the MTC, reunited again!


Thanks for telling me about y'all's week!  I am sorry to hear that you have been in pain, mother.  I hope you get feeling better quick!  I'm surprised I've never caused some serious damage from sneezing.  I have been sneezing a lot lately, due to allergies, and it is just exhausting because my sneezes are so powerful, they take everything out of me and scare everyone around me!  Where is Elder Sirmans from?  

We had a good week with nothing special, no big meetings or anything, just good, solid missionary work.  Let me tell you a little bit about some of the people we are teaching right now:  Sophie Licea is a cute little 8 year old girl, whose older brother and mom are members, but they have been less-active since moving to Texas from Ohio a while back.  Her mom's name is Oyuki, and she has six kids, the oldest is 11, the youngest are two twin boys only six months old.  Her husband is only home one day a week because he works in San Antonio.  So she is always home, taking care of six kids by herself.  I don't know how she does it!  But we go over regularly and try to help in any way we can, and it is fun to play with the kids.  It is always a sight to see when that train of kids comes walking into Sacrament meeting, which happened yesterday!  
Jonathan, Christopher, and Orlando are three brothers, all under 12, who are the grandchildren of a member, a sweet little old lady named Margarita.  Their parents are not members and for a while were very against the Church, but their hearts have been softening, and Margarita thinks that it is about time that the kids get baptized.  It is exhausting to teach them, because they are always fighting with each other and horsing around, and they have almost no attention span at all!  So it forces us to get creative and teach short and simple lessons.  Exhausting, yes, but it is still lots of fun!  
The other investigator that I will tell you about is a lady named Carmen.  She recently moved here from Mexico with her husband and two kids.  She feels lonely because her husband is always working, she doesn't speak English, and doesn't know anybody; so we always make sure to take a sister or two from the Relief Society with us when we teach her.  She is not happy with the way her family is, so we have been focusing a lot on the family and the difference the gospel makes in the family, and she has really been loving it. It has been amazing to see how prepared she is, she agrees with everything we teach her!  The only sad part is that her husband, even though he has never met us, doesn't like us and doesn't support Carmen in what she is doing and learning.  It will be nice when I don't have to deal with or worry about wicked, stubborn, hard-hearted husbands anymore.  

There is a goofy gal in the ward named Betsy.  She is 24 and just got her mission call to serve in another Texas mission.  She likes to come out with us to prepare for her mission.  She met us once this week at Carmen's to teach her with us.  After the lesson, as we approached Betsy's car, we could hear the car on and running, and Betsy realized that she had forgotten to turn her car off, and she left the keys in the ignition the whole time, for 45 minutes while we were inside teaching a lesson!  Who does that?!  What a tender mercy of the Lord that was, and a testimony builder to me that this really is God's work, and he is happy we are participating!  

So I was supposed to speak in Sacrament meeting yesterday, along with Elder Barton, another Elder in the ward who goes home at the same time as I do.  Elder Barton went first and took a long time, and then he asked a member to share a very brief conversion story and testimony, but he wasn't brief, and by the time he finished, we only had time for a closing hymn and prayer.  So I didn't get to speak!  It didn't bother me too much, but I was a little bummed because I felt like I had prepared an inspired talk that the ward needed to hear, and I just wanted to get it over with.  But now I have to hold on to it, because I will be speaking on the 26th of this month.  Oh well, nothing I can do about it! 

-I haven't yet taken a look at all my stuff to try to organize a box that I will send home, but I'm still planning on it! 
-Sending my bike home with that member is still the plan.
-Dinner with Rosalba consisted of chicken, rice, and tortillas.  Simple, but yummy!
-I know Elder Nish!  He is a goof and so so happy!  He took my place in McKinney, and we see each other from time to time.  Awesome missionary! 
-Still biking.  This past week we didn't have the car, but we use members almost every night.  This week we should have the car for the majority.

All is well, and I want y'all to know that I am enduring joyful to the end!  I love you all and I am so excited to see everybody!  But, first thing's first, and duty calls!  Excited for another excellent week, and until next time!  

Elder Williams

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Week Ninety Nine - Conference and Zone Meeting!

Happy Easter!

Thank you, Mommy!

Looks like breakfast!?

David enjoying Easter breakfast!


Hola y Feliz Lunes!

What a joy it is to hear about your week.  I love y'all!  I am happy that all is well.  We had a pretty superb week!  Let me tell you about it:
On Wednesday we had a zone meeting and interviews.  We prepared for it the day before.  We heard from a variety of different missionaries who gave trainings on a variety of topics. We did lots of role plays.  We heard testimonies from the departing missionaries in the zone.  There's four of us!  Throughout the meeting, President Taylor was doing one on one interviews, but he poked his head in a few times and shared a few things with us all.  He talked a lot about ordinances and the covenant path and how the covenant path is the happiest place on earth.  We have been focusing a lot in the mission recently on ordinances and covenants, and President Taylor always wants us to have this question in mind - what is this person's next ordinance?  Whether they are recent converts, less active members, or investigators, they all have an ordinance to work toward.  All of us have ordinances to prepare for and work towards.  President Taylor did us missionaries the favor of reminding us what our next ordinance is. . . yikes!!!  But anyway, ordinances and covenants are what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has to offer that no other church, place, or human on this planet does or even can.  Ordinances and covenants are what help us fulfill our purpose of "inviting others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel".  We can't come unto Christ without them!  President Taylor shared these few key verses with us that I will try to remember forever: 
D&C 84: 19 And this greater priesthood administereth the gospel and holdeth the key of the mysteries of the kingdom, even the key of the knowledge of God.  20 Therefore, in the ordinances thereof, the power of godliness is manifest.       D&C 136: 4 And this shall be our covenant—that we will walk in all the ordinances of the Lord.
Ordinances and covenants bring the "power of godliness" into our lives!  How amazing is that?!  I'm happy to be learning the importance of ordinances and covenants! 
I was thinking that my interview was going to be my exit interview, but he only asked me one exit-interview question and said we will postpone the rest until the Tuesday before I leave.  He showed me my picture that we took in the dining room and sent in to the Church with my mission papers.  I guess I've grown up quite a bit since then!  The rest of the interview was a temple recommend interview.  That guy has every one of those questions memorized, and he rattled them off like nothing, staring into my eyes the whole time. But I passed!  
We got to the chapel at 8:00 that morning, and we didn't leave until 5:00.  All went really well, but it was a long day!  

GENERAL CONFERENCE.   We watched all 10 hours of Conference at the chapel we attend regularly, and we enjoyed every minute of it.  There were multiply talks that I felt were directed specifically to me, one of those being from Elder Ballard in the Priesthood Session.  That could not have come at a better time!  Many of the talks that really resonated with me came from members of the 70.  I don't know what it is about them; whether it's a different energy that they bring, a simplicity, or just the fact that it's a new or less familiar face, I loved their talks!  But then you have the favorites, like President Uchtdorf, and Elders Holland and Bednar, who never seem to disappoint.  Elder Holland's story was INTENSE!  It had me on the edge of my seat, literally!  I'm glad, Mom, that you got to see their talks, and I thank you for watching!  It is all just too good, and I cannot wait to get the GC Ensign in my hands to study their words more closely and apply the teachings in my life. As I watched Conference, especially the Priesthood Session, I felt a deep love and appreciation for the Brethren.  All those that we watched this weekend are true disciples, bright lights in a dark world that needs them, and righteous influences for good.  They inspire me to do the same. Oh how I wish I could just give President Monson a big hug and sincerely thank him for all he does and is!  and all the other great men in my life - Bishop Wannicot and Bishop Hatch, Andy and Andrew and John and other young men's leaders and ward members, President Durrant and President Taylor, multiple brethen that I've met on my mission, Tom and Dad and many more. I would hug you all if I could.  I love you all, and I am so blessed and lucky to have incredible people in my life.  You inspire me!
I <3  G E N E R A L  C O N F E R E N C E!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   

Sunday after Conference, a member from another ward took us to contact a referral that he had met the other day.  This member served in the Salt Lake South mission, and spent two weeks in Murray!  Serving a mission in Utah would be a real trip.  But this referral was a lady from Mexico, but has lived here a long time.  She is a professor at a little college in Downtown Dallas, and she is super intelligent.  But she is the worst chatty Kathy that's ever talked my ear off!  We thought we were just going to go drop off some Books of Mormon and set up an appointment to come back another time during the week, but she talked and talked and talked, nearly taking up our whole night!  But the good thing is that before we left, she apologized for talking so much, and said the next time we will be the professors, and she will be the student.  She asked for a Book of Mormon in Spanish, Russian, and Arabic, because she is trying to learn those languages.  And now she wants one in Chinese!  She is a bit loca, but it helps that she is intelligent and likes to read.  She will be interesting to teach! 
Things are going better now and starting to pick up.  We are witnessing miracles, and we can see more on the horizon!  I have no doubt that this is the Lord's work, and there is no other work more important!  

-got Grandma and Grandpa's package, and I am eating one of the cakes as I am typing this email.  I've shared them with missionaries so they get all eaten up before they can go bad!  They are deeeelish!  Thanks Grandma and Grandpa!
-the cookies were edible and deeeelish!  I don't remember you ever making cookies like that.  Where did you learn how to do it?!
-For now, my two favorite talks were by Elder Wilford W. Anderson about enjoying the music of the gospel while dancing the gospel dance, and Elder Kevin W. Pearson about enduring to the end.  I felt like there was so much from their talks that I can and should apply RIGHT NOW!

At the Priesthood Session on Saturday I saw lots of familiar faces from the Lakewood ward and they all asked me when I was finishing up.  It was strange, bitter sweet to tell them I only have 3 WEEKS LEFT!  3 WEEKS!  I am excited! and I am enduring joyfully to the end.  Thanks for writing.  Love y'all to Kolob and back!       Bye!

Elder Williams

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Week Ninety Eight - Receiving "Trunky Papers" and Inspired Teaching!

Headed to the meeting with the district leaders!


I am happy to hear that you had a good, busy week.  Being busy is good!  We too had a busy week.  On Tuesday we had a fun service project where Elder Denos and I took out some small trees from a less active member's yard.  It felt good to get my hands dirty, sweat, and do some real, manual labor.  On Wednesday I went on an exchange, to Lakewood again!  And that was probably the last time I will go there.  That same day I received my "trunky papers" in the mail, where I get my flight itinerary, instructions for sending a bike home, and the schedule for my last Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas.  That made things a little more real, but I still don't think about it too much.  I'm pretty excited though!  
Thursday was a special day.  We had a leadership training meeting that lasted most of the day.  All zone leaders, district leaders, and lots of sisters were in attendance.  We had a couple visitors from Utah there, Brother Donaldson and Brother Jarman.  Brother Donaldson was a mission president in California, and now works in the missionary department - not sure what his exact title is.  Brother Jarman works at the MTC, hiring and training MTC instructors.  They are practically professional missionaries, and they visit missions around the country, training us to be better missionaries.  They taught us the importance of the Doctrine of Christ, how to plan more effectively, and how to teach the Restoration in 7 minutes.  it was mind blowing!  And everybody was spiritually and mentally exhausted by the end of the meeting.  Those two men were absolutely brilliant.  They made me feel clueless, like I was in the MTC again!  It was a humbling experience, yet a grand opportunity that I am grateful for.  I still have so much more to do and change and improve!  
That night we tried teaching the Restoration in 7 minutes, the way we learned from the brethren that day.  It is done using the pamphlets, and you basically just go through every picture with them, asking inspired questions, and teaching as little as possible.  This way, the person you are teaching has to be more engaged and make the connections themselves.  We learned from the brethren that often times, we try too hard as missionaries to be the best teachers we can be, but in the end, we only get in the way of the Spirit, the real teacher.  So when we gave it a try, it was a little more than 7 minutes, but I was amazed at how well the man was understanding.  He was making all the connections himself!  The next day, we did it again with a lady that just barely moved here from Mexico.  The first picture in the pamphlet is a cheesy picture of a happy family.  As soon as she saw it, she started crying.  She went on to tell us all the family problems she has.  I realized then that even the pictures in the missionary lesson pamphlets are INSPIRED!  This whole Church is INSPIRED!  It would have been nice to know some of the things I learned in that meeting since the beginning of my mission.   
So on Wednesday we were informed that we needed to have a zone meeting on Friday. And because of the meeting on Thursday, we had no choice but to plan the meeting the morning of.  That was stressful! Then, to make it more stressful, we had the pressure of taking everything we learned the day before in the 6 hour meeting from two "professional missionaries", and relaying everything to the zone in a two hour meeting.  That was lots of pressure!  But luckily it all worked out and everything went well.  We went to Sam's Club afterwards for lunch!  And now I just saw this morning in the mission email that they did it to us again!  Tomorrow we have to plan for a 6 hour meeting for Wednesday, interviews with President Taylor, and I have no idea what we are going to fill up all that time with!  Ugh.... stress is good.  Stress is good!  When Elder Foster was here, he said that stress builds and strengthens.  So I'll just keep telling myself that.  
On Saturday, Elder Denos and I got challenged by some hoodrats to a game of basketball.  They asked if we wanted to play, kind of jokingly, and when we said yes, they busted up laughing.  I don't think I need to say who was laughing after the game.  That is just the best feeling!
I could not be more excited for General Conference!  I seem to appreciate it more and more every time it comes around again.  I hope and pray that everyone will make time for Conference!   

-I actually met a guy from the YSA ward who is driving home to Utah in mid May, and he has a big trailer with lots of space, and he is already taking bikes home for other missionaries, and he offered to take mine home!  So that is probably what I will do.  
-Not sure how many are going home to Salt Lake with me. 
-Conference will most likely be watched at the chapel.
-I will need to send some stuff home.  Not sure what though yet.

Thanks for writing!  Thanks for the pic!  Tom is looking good!  I got Dad's letter the other day.  It was so nice to hear from you, Dad!  I hope everybody has a superb week!  Love y'all!

Elder Williams

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Week Ninety Seven - Last Transfer Meeting and Grateful For Serving A Mission!

David with Elder Alkonis!

David and Elder Packham!

David and Elder Patton!

David and a new friend!

David and the Texas Towers!

Getting a lift!

The gang after emailing on p-day!

Elder Denos and David with a 'tent' of an umbrella they found in the chapel!


Another good week is in the books.  It was a busy week, and we got lots done!  We had members out with us almost everyday, so we had very little time on the bikes, and lots of good lessons.  
   On Tuesday I was lucky enough to attend the transfer meeting, even though neither one of us got transferred.  Zone leaders were asked to go to pick something up. So lucky me!  Because I love that meeting.  It might have been the smallest transfer meeting I've seen my whole mission.  Very few changes.  And yes, Sister Wyss got transferred to the zone.  She won't leave me alone!  We cover the exact same area, basically, us doing the Spanish work, and her and her companion do the English work.  She is super lucky because her companion is Sister Reboquio, from the Philipines, and she is amazing! And Sister Wyss is a stellar missionary too!  Having Sister Training Leaders in the zone and so close to us is a huge blessing! 
   President and Sister Taylor shared a touching story at the meeting on Tuesday.  Their son got home from his mission that day, and they told us that in the last 8 years, their entire family has been together for only 15 minutes, which 15 minutes came miraculously at the airport when one son was leaving to his mission, and the other coming home.  They testified about how they could not make such mighty sacrifices if it wasn't all true.  Their testimonies are so strong, and it was an inspiring story.  It made me very grateful that we only have to survive three and a half years of separation, and that we will be united again at last in only 5 WEEKS!
   We are in a bit of a drought right now.  We have plenty of people to teach and visit, we are busy and usually have a loaded planner throughout the week, but nothing seems to be going anywhere.  People aren't coming to church, or keeping any commitments for that matter.  It is really frustrating to feel like you are doing so much and working so hard, yet seeing nothing come of it.  It has, however, been surprisingly easy to keep going and stay positive.  I have the hope and the faith that it will all be made worth it in one way or another, sooner or later!
   One day this week we were out riding our bikes when this blond haired hippee looking guy approached us on his bike and said "you Elders out looking for referrals?"  It completely caught us off guard!  It was the last thing we expected to hear from a guy that looked the way he did.  I asked him "are you a member?" and he responded "jack".  Hahaha!  Turns out he grew up in the Church and has very faithful parents in the Church.  When he was 19, he decided to join a rock band rather than go on a mission.  He was a real funny guy, full of Mormon jokes.  He said he a had a problem with the fact that Joseph Smith and Jesus Christ got more and more handsome in every new picture his mother put up on the wall.  He also said there are too many rules in the Church that he can't deal with.  I wish people would stop looking at commandments as "rules".  If only they understand the why behind the commandments.  I guess the guy went after what made him happy, but I could tell that he was lost and his life was a mess.  I could only imagine how different his life could have been if he decided to go on a mission.  It made me think about what I would have missed out on if I had not decided to serve a mission.  The lessons are countless and priceless, my eyes have been opened, a vision for the future gained, and I have no doubt that the entire course of my life will be forever changed because of this incredible experience.  I am so grateful for it, and I can't imagine my life without it!  A big thanks to all who helped get me here!   

-I did not spray my closet for bed bugs because I haven't seen any.
-Elder Keller just got a box from a near by bike shop, disassembled his bike and put it in there, and we dropped it off at the post office across the street.  That is what I think I will do, unless you can tell me a better way.
-No special plans for Easter yet.  Just Conference!
-They did two meetings with Elder Foster, one on Thursday with half the mission, and one of Friday with the other half.

Thanks for the update and all that everyone does for me!  I hope you have the best week ever!  Love y'all to Kolob and back!

Elder Williams  

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Week Ninety Six - Stink Bombs, Bed Bugs and Visit from Elder Foster!

David and Elder Denos at Rosalba's!


Tired Elders......

David gets a lift from the Texas Towers at transfers!


   Thanks for writing me and filling me in!  I had another busy week, so it went by really fast.  
On Saturday I was on exchanges again in Lake Highlands with Elders Ezzell and Perez.  Elder Perez is knew in the mission.  He is a Jehovah's Witness convert, and very unique and funny. It was the last district building, so we had a council in the morning, a hot dog/pizza lunch at Sam's Club, and then we basically just contacted people all day.  But I enjoyed it because I was in a contacting mood and being in a trio always makes for a good time!  The people that live right below Elder Perez and Elder Ezzell smoke illegal substances almost constantly, and it stinks up the missionary apartment really bad. Coincidentally, a member gave Elder Ezzell and Elder Perez a real life stink bomb, so we gave the neighbors a taste of their own medicine by dropping this stink bomb onto their patio that they smoke on.  It smelled like moldy rotten eggs drenched in gym socks multiplied by 10!  We might have been a little too cruel... 
   So, when Elder Keller left, we were seeing signs of bed bugs in his bed.  When Elder Denos arrived, I told him about it, he told his mom, and his mom sent a bunch of professional bed bug treatment stuff to take care of it.  He hasn't found any bites, or much sign of bed bugs in his bed, but every once in a while he will find a bed bug on the wall up toward the ceiling or some other strange place.  I have been lucky and have not found any bites or any sign of bed bugs on my side of the room, until the other night when I had a dream.  I dreamed that there was a big spider on the wall right next to where I rest my head at night on my pillow.  It startled me, so I jumped out of bed and turned on the light, only to find a tiny little bed bug!  Exactly where I dreamed I saw the spider!  And it was making it's way toward my bed!  It was very very strange, and this is the only explanation for it that I can come up with: a tender mercy of the Lord (1 Nephi 1:20).  
   The highlight of the week was Thursday when we had a zone conference in Heath, where we had the privilege of being taught by Elder Bradley D. Foster from the Quorum of the Seventy.  We heard a little bit from President and Sister Taylor, Sister Foster gave us a good ol' fashioned pep talk, and then most of the time was taken up by Elder Foster.  Elder and Sister Foster both said that they are praying that their grandson son comes to the TDM so he can have President Taylor as his mission president.  Now I am convinced that President and Sister Taylor are the best in the world!  It was quite incredible to be trained by Elder Foster.  It was neat to see that President Taylor was sitting with us and being trained as well.  Us missionaries look at President Taylor like he knows absolutely everything, and it was weird to see the roles be switched, and President Taylor was sitting in the learners chair and being taught by somebody that was a mission president 25 years ago!  He trained us on how to work with members, how to reach our potential, the importance and power of sincere prayer, and accountability, because apparently in two months the mission will be getting iPads... Just. In. Time!  I'm really not too mad about it though.  I'm just grateful for another opportunity to meet and learn from another general authority.  The more opportunities like that I have, the more I can see that the gospel really does refine us, and there is nothing else on the planet that can teach us and make us progress in life the way the Church can.  Between missions and callings and service and many other things, it is all just genius!  Elder Foster is so wise, and loving, and confident, his spiritual presence is powerful, and he's just got things figured out.  He inspired me to live the gospel more fully, trust in God more confidently, and give my life to Him more entirely. I LOVE BEING MORMON!!!

-I got my voice back wednesday, but I have still had a bit of a sore throat all week.  But nothing that has slowed me down.
-Transfer calls were made this morning, and we didn't receive a phone call, so it looks like I will be finishing my mission with Elder Denos in Casa Linda!
-I have no needs or request for Easter.  Surprise me!  

All is well!  As a missionary, the transition from winter to fall to winter is miserable and depressing.  But on the other hand, the transition from winter to spring is joyous and splendid, and that's what is happening right now!  The other day we were walking in the ghetto, and we walked past a group of thugs without shirts on that were recording a rap music video.  That's Garland for ya, and that's how good the weather has been the last few days!  It's amazing how big of a difference the weather makes.  Congrats McKay!  Last transfer officially begins today.  Not sure what to think or how to feel, I just want this transfer to be the best one yet!  Thanks for everything!  Love y'all!  Feel better!  Have a great week!  

Elder Williams

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Week Ninety Five - Busiest Wackiest Week of My Mission!

Elder Denos!

Elder Vang!

Elder Stewart (ZL companion), Elder Duce and David!

This past week was CRAZY!  Very very busy with lots going on.  It may have been the busiest wackiest week of my mission.  For the first time in nearly two years I got more than two days behind in my journal writing - I was five days behind at one point!  But don't worry, I am caught up now : )  So I'll try to tell you as much as I can remember, and have time for!
TUESDAY was Elder Denos's cumpleanos, as well as the Follow-Up Training meeting.  We had to be at the chapel by 10 for the meeting, so on our way we stopped at the Garland Cafe for a birthday breakfast.  Dad would really like the Garland Cafe.  Follow-Up Training is the meeting held about halfway through the transfer for all trainers and their trainees.  At this meeting we receive training from President and Sister Taylor, along with the Assistants, we talk about how everybody is doing and feeling, share testimonies, and then, for the highlight of the meeting, we complain about each other!  I think I might have told you about this the last time I attended this meeting with Elder Alkonis, but at one point we split up and the trainers go with the assistants to another room, and the trainees stay with President and Sister Taylor, and we vent about our companions, the assistants and President and Sister Taylor write down what we say, we come back together, and the thoughts and complaints are shared anonymously.  This way, you can express what you are afraid to tell your companion to the face, and you can receive some constructive criticism without any hurt feelings!  What usually happens is the trainers just want to say what they love about their companions and get done in 10 minutes, and all the trainees are crying and take a half hour.  Maybe a bit of an exaggeration, but it's something like that.  Missions are tough!  Another highlight of the meeting that really touched me was when President and Sister Taylor talked about families, and how God takes care of missionary families.  It wasn't planned, but it turned into a testimony meeting, and missionaries were just sharing all these amazing blessings and miracles, along with difficulties, that have been seen in their families as they have been serving.  It was very spiritual and powerful.  The following scriptures were shared:
D&C 31:1 Thomas, my son, blessed are you because of your faith in my work. 2 Behold, you have had many afflictions because of your family; nevertheless, I will bless you and your family, yea, your little ones; and the day cometh that they will believe and know the truth and be one with you in my church. 3 Lift up your heart and rejoice, for the hour of your mission is come; and your tongue shall be loosed, and you shall declare glad tidings of great joy unto this generation. 4 You shall declare the things which have been revealed to my servant, Joseph Smith, Jun. You shall begin to preach from this time forth, yea, to reap in the field which is white already to be burned. 5 Therefore, thrust in your sickle with all your soul, and your sins are forgiven you, and you shall be laden with sheaves upon your back, for the laborer is worthy of his hire. Wherefore, your family shall live. 6 Behold, verily I say unto you, go from them only for a little time, and declare my word, and I will prepare a place for them.
D&C 100:
1    Verily, thus saith the Lord unto you, my friends Sidney and Joseph, your families are well; they are in mine hands, and I will do with them as seemeth me good; for in me there is all power.
I love love love these verses, and I have no doubt that God takes care of His missionary families! 
So that was a 6 hour meeting, and it was lots of fun!  We then went to dinner, where the members fed us and bought Elder Denos a single slice of cake....and he didn't share.... That night was a little hectic because we had to do another one of those exchanges that involves 4 companionship's.  Missionary Leadership Council was the following day, but due to icey weather that was expected Wednesday morning, we were asked to make the drive Tuesday night, and spend the night in the Assistants' apartment.  So Elder Stewart and I got to their apartment at 10:00, and slept in an apartment full of elders.  It was strange being their again, because I hadn't been there since my very first night in Dallas.  But this time I got a bed!  And a real blanket!  But that night was when the tickle in the throat began....
WEDNESDAY morning we got up super early to go play basketball.  I woke up with a killer sore throat, and all day long it was excruciatingly painful to swallow.  It was possibly the worst sore throat of my life!  Nevertheless, MLC started at 10:00 at the mission home again.  That place is like heaven on earth!  Especially compared to the places we spend most of our time in Garland.  It is so clean, smells fresh, and there is just a lovely spirit felt in that home.  That meeting lasted 7 hours, and it was jam-packed full of the Spirit and inspiration.  We did something really neat through a website called Relative Finder, and it told me that I am a fourth cousin twice removed to President Taylor!  And out of everyone in the Texas Dallas Mission, he is my closest relative.  But for the majority of the meeting we talked about the need to become "MIGHTY" in all aspects of the work.  President Taylor is really good at finding words in the scriptures that most of us skim over and give no thought to, and he makes them so significant and brings on a whole new meeting.  I think everybody at that meeting left feeling a little crumby, yet motivated to do so much more and work so much harder!  
It rained literally all day that day, and by the time we got on our way back to our areas, the rain was turning to ice, and we were asked to get off the roads and into the nearest missionary apartment asap.  So I spent another night away from my baby, and slept on the couch at Elder Stewart's and Elder Gile's apartment.  My throat was still bothering me, and I was spiritually drained and exhausted from the meeting, so I fell asleep at 8:30.
THURSDAY we were not allowed to drive for the first half of the day, which worked out for us because Elder Stewart and I were able to prepare a zone meeting for the next day.  In the afternoon I was finally reunited with Elder Denos, and we were able to get some work done and teach a few lessons.  My sore throat had not yet gone away.
FRIDAY we had a zone meeting, and our job was to basically relay all that was discussed and taught in MLC.  We sat in a circle and had a council and it went really well.  For dinner that night, a member took us to a place called WingStop.  From a missionary standpoint, it is a very worldly place.  Ginormo TVs with sports and sports and sports, loud music, and filled with all the cool, young and hip kids with fine clothing.  Some times I want to be cool, young and hip again, but there is a time and place for everything.  While WingStop may be the place, now is not the time!  Randy Farmer came out with us again that night, and it was a much better experience.  I was still sick, but my throat wasn't hurting quite so bad.  
SATURDAY was almost a normal day, until I lost my voice, starting around lunch time.  It progressively got worse and worse, until I could hardly do anything but whisper!  My throat didn't really hurt by that point, it was just frustrating and exhausting to try to teach lessons like that.  We shared the Restoration DVD a few times that day, and got into a heated debate with a lesbian about homosexuality.  It is a very difficult subject to address. 
SUNDAY we were an hour late to church, because nobody told us about daylight savings!  So that was a little embarrassing.  And then, to add to it, my voice was at it's worst, and people thought it was funny so they were bugging me and trying to get me to talk.  Argh!  That night we did another Elder jumble, and a bunch of us were separated from our companions, because I had to go to Mesquite to start another District Building activity.  Lots of District Buildings have been cancelled because of the weather, and they want to finish them all up this week, so we had to fit one in that started Sunday night and went most of the day yesterday.  Sunday night we had a council meeting, and I slept at random apartment again on the couch.  
MONDAY (yesterday) I was in a town called Seagoville for the day, on an exchange with Elder Vang.  We had no plans, no lessons, and nobody to really visit, so we contacted in lavandarias for 5 straight hours.  My voice was better than it was Saturday and Sunday, but it was still at about a level 4 strength.  I couldn't yell, sing, or talk very loud, so it took a lot of effort to get people to hear me.  It did not stop raining that entire day, so all that made for a long day.  But Elder Vang is a great kid, and we had lots of fun!  It's funny because that area - Mesquite and Seagoville and around there - is the most depressing area for me.  I feel like I would be miserable if I ever had to serve there.  And the reason is because I have never been there when it is not dark, grey, glum and rainy.  And I've been there 5 or 6 times!  So now I have this idea in my head that it is never not raining in that part of the world, and I don't like going there.  

-Rosalba is a different Rosalba than the one you know.
-My voice is starting to come back, but I can't sing or yell yet.  Oh how I wish I could sing already! 

Well, that might be the longest email ever written.  Hope you enjoyed it!  Thanks for the update!  It makes me happy to know that there are some good elders in our stake!  I hope everybody gets feeling better.  Mother, enjoy your week in Palm Springs and take pictures!  I really enjoyed the pictures you sent me, you have no idea!  Have a superb week!

Love you to Kolob and back!  

Elder Williams          

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Week Ninety Three - Softening Hearts and Cold, Utah-Like Weather in Dallas!

Utah-like snow!

David and Amber!


Thanks for telling me about y'all's week!  I am happy to hear that Dad is busy, there are some good missionaries in our area, and all is well!  All is well here in Garland as well.  The weather has been terrible all week; we got rain, ice, and some real, almost Utah-looking snow, all week.  So we spent a lot of time in the apartment, unfortunately, as well as walking around on the ice, working in the area around our apartment the best we could.  So I don't really have much to share with y'all this week.  But considering the weather conditions, we had a surprisingly good week with lots of lessons!  We received lots of support from members in driving us from lesson to lesson. 
   I would like to tell y'all about a lesson that we had with a man named Martin.  Martin is the father of a family that we have been teaching.  We have been teaching nearly everyone in that family, but never together.  They are always so busy with different work schedules and never found together at home at the same time.  So one day we will teach Mariela, the daughter, and the next we will teach Rosalba, the mother, and on the weekends we teach David, Mariela's brother.  Before this week we had never been able to teach Martin, the father.  David and Mariela and Rosalba had always told us that Martin is mean, stubborn, unwilling to listen or change, and he has "un caracter muy feo".  They tell us not to come over on certain days, the days that he is home.  Elder Keller and I had a couple of run-ins with him, where he didn't invite us in, and he wasn't really nice, but he wasn't rude either.  Well this week we were finally able to sit down with him when we went over to teach Mariela.  He wasn't really grabbing on to everything we were saying, but he was listening and we had a good chat.  At the end of the lesson, we invited him to offer a pray.  It took some convincing, but he did say a prayer, and it was a very sincere prayer, and he even got emotional toward the end.  Once he said amen, it was very quiet for a minute.  Mariela and her younger brother were shocked to see their dad cry.  The Spirit was felt strongly, and I know that Martin's heart was softened that day. 
   I just love how simple it all is!  God is so anxious to do His part; to speak to us, answer us, help us, and bless us!  Our part is so simple, maybe not always easy, but simple - read and pray with real intent, and do what he asks of us.  That's it!  As people do this, I have no doubt that they will be filled with the Spirit of God, their hearts will be changed, and their lives will be blessed in great and obvious ways!  It really is a small price to pay.  A bargain is what it is!  That experience was a testimony builder/solidifier for me to see again that this really is God's work.  All we need to do as members and missionaries is teach people how they can let God work with them, and seek out those that are willing to let it happen.  It is God that teaches, softens, changes, and converts people to His gospel and His plan. 

-I've had a bit of a cold this past week, but nothing that's slowed me down.
-Yes, Randy is the kid that Sister Wyss referred to me.  
-We just found out that Elder Foster will be coming the 13th and 14th.  Super exciting!  
-I haven't seen Sister Wyss since I got to Casa Linda.  She is in a neighboring zone, but we haven't crossed paths.  I'll probably see her at the Elder Foster meeting.  

Sorry this past week wasn't too exciting.  This week will be more eventful, with Elder Denos's birthday tomorrow, along with a follow-up training meeting, MLC on wednesday, and a zone meeting on Friday.  I love meetings!  Thank you for the reminder, Mother.  I've thought about it in months and weeks, but I hadn't gotten down to days yet!  It is hard to believe that we are already in March.  It's pretty exciting!  But I try not to think about it. Have a great week and know that I love you all to Kolob and back!  Thanks for all of your love, prayers, and support!  

Elder Williams 

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Week Ninety Two - More District Building and Being Sick Is NO Fun!

Lakewood friends!

Lakewood friends!

District building exchange, with Elders Cottle and Boren!

Ice day!


Things have been pretty crazy here this past week.  I wasn't able to email yesterday because all of Dallas was frozen over!  So we were on lockdown for the day. I don't have much time to write today, but I have tons to tell y'all!  So I will do my best.
Monday after emailing and playing some sports, we did a big complicated exchange that involved just about every elder in the zone!  Elder Stewart drove to Lakewood Monday night for another District Building activity, where I spent the night in my old apartment with Elders Boren and Cottle and Manning, and Elder Stewart went with the Lakewood English elders.  The next day I was with Elder Cottle working in Lakewood, and I got to some old familiar faces, including a recent convert that Elder Crockett and I found forever ago!  Him and his mom were super excited to see me, and it was really nice to see that he is still active.  The ward is taking really good care of him!  Were also had a little FHE with one of the ward families and some recent converts, where I learned a super fun game called "PatoPato".  We will have to play it when I get home! The next morning we were supposed to have a district meeting at 10:00 to wrap up the activity, but Elder Adams' van at a neighboring apartment got towed!  So we had to postpone things to help him pick up the van, but luckily the keeper at the tow lot had Mormon connections, and he gave us the van for only $10.00!  I know the Lord looks out for His missionaries!  So district building was another success; very exhausting, but lots of fun and well worth it!
Thursday, Elder Denos and I went to Applebee's for lunch, because we have at least $100 in Applebee's gift cards, and I kind fellow from Utah bought our meal.  I think the majority of times that somebody has payed or offer to pay for my meal, it's when it's already payed for!   
Friday we had to do another exchange, and Elder Hutchings came with me for the day.  He is actually from St. George, Utah and was companions with Elder Alkonis in the MTC.  He wasn't feeling well, and I'm pretty sure he is the one who got me sick.  I sometimes feel a little bad for Elder Denos for sending him on so many exchanges.  Another elder made a joke that Elder Denos is like the troublesome child that nobody loves and gets passed around from aunt to uncle to grandparent.  Not true, but kinda funny!  Exchanges are good though, and he should be learning a lot by working with so many different elders!
Saturday was a day to remember.  I woke up not feeling well, thinking it was just something I ate the night before. Randy, a youth member that is waiting to leave on a mission that I had never met before, was supposed to be coming over at 8:30 to spend the morning and afternoon with us.  Long story short, I had the flu and it was a terrible missionary experience for Randy.  But he was understanding, and hopefully he will be able to join us again this weekend.  The good thing is that the next day I felt all better!   
Yesterday, like I said, was an ice day.  It was literally raining ice!  And we weren't allowed to drive or bike.  In the morning we were kept very busy with the "Ice Day TDM Olympics", which was a missionwide challenge between zones where we competed in a series of consecutive hour long events, like highest average number of exercise minutes in an hour, or most pages read out of the Book of Mormon in an hour, and fun stuff like that.  The Dallas East zone did not win, unfortunately, but we did all we could, and it was a fun and productive way to spend our morning.  We then got talked into walking to Chili's to meet up with some missionaries that couldn't stand being in the apartment for so long.  I felt like I was a pioneer trekking across the frozen plains!  It wasn't worth it.  
Today it is still cold and there is quite a bit of ice, but the roads are mostly cleared up and we have permission to drive and bike.  Yesterday we were supposed to have a conference with a member of the Quorum of the 70, Elder Bradley Foster, but the weather did not allow him to travel, so hopefully he will be able to make it out here soon!
-yes, I got the family tree. Thanks!
-what I have now will be enough for what we are trying to do.  Thanks!
-Elder Denos seems to be doing well!
-the elders brought a couple mattresses, and all apartments have couches too. 
Thanks for the pic!  I love to see familiar faces!  I want more pictures!  I'm super happy for Stevie!  She is super funny and an amazing person!  I'm happy to hear that all is well back home, and I pray that it stays that way!  Have the best week of your life and know that I love you all!  

Elder Williams