Sunday, February 22, 2015

Week Ninety One - District Building and Hanging With Elder Powell!

The District!

Elder Denos, Elder Williams, Elder Adams, Elder Powell and Elder Barton!
Howdy Y'all!

   Another week has come and gone in Garland.  And crazy fast has it done so too!  The weather was quite nice all week, Saturday it was almost too hot for me!  But today it is back down into the 30's, and I think it is supposed to be quite cold all week.  But who knows?!  Weather here is quite unpredictable. 
   This week was pretty neat.  President and Sister Taylor have come up with the idea to do "district building" exchanges, where the assistants and sister training leaders spend a day and a half with a district (a night, day, a night, and half a day).  This past week was the first time trying this, and they started with our district!  So Wednesday night, Elder Adams and Elder Powell, my two best MTC buddies, along with our district leader, Elder Barton, also from the MTC, arrived to our apartment to do nightly planning with us and spend the night.  As you can imagine, 5 elders in one apartment was a real hoot!  The next morning, we went on a long run together, had studies, and then had a 3-hour long district meeting/counsel together.  We received trainings and discussed ways to overcome the obstacles and challenges we face in our ward and areas.  It was quite helpful, because we have lots of challenges in our ward... But following the counsel, we went on exchanges for the day, where Elder Denos went with Elder Adams, and I was with Elder Powell and Elder Barton in a trio.  That too was helpful because Elder Powell drove us around in his van, and he also served in the area that I am currently in for 6 months, so he introduced me to some people and gave me lots of ideas of things we could do.  It was awesome working with Elder Powell!  We have really never served anywhere near each other since arriving to Dallas, so the last time I got to work with him, we were clueless and neither one of us spoke Spanish!  It feels good to say that we have both come along way.  Elder Powell is an incredible missionary, and it was inspiring to be his companion for the day.  At the end of the day, all five of us elders got back together at the apartment, we did nightly planning, and had another sleep over.  The following day, we had another district meeting/counsel in the morning with everybody, reported on how things went with our exchanges, and made plans for the future.  It was all very organized.  Every once in a while, I'll remember that we are all just 20 year old kids and how crazy it is that we are doing what we are doing.  It's pretty neat!  And now, I get to do the same thing all over again tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday morning with another district in the zone.  I'm going back to Lakewood baby!  Hopefully all of that made sense.  
   On Friday, as soon as we got done with the district building activity, Elder Stewart and I had to work on getting the stake president report ready for about 5 hours.  So many phone calls and number crunching and trying to keep track of so many things for so long, my brain was about to explode!  But we got it done, and Sunday morning we met with Stake President Larsen and his new counselor, President Foote.  I was really impressed with these men.  They are so kind and loving and happy and successful.  I just love meeting good quality people, especially in the Church.  It is a testimony builder to me that the Church and gospel together, when put first in our lives, can help us reach our potential and refine us as people.  
   HAPPY VALENTINES DAY!  Mother, you guessed right, Valentines Day was just another day in paradise... I mean Garland.  We splurged a little bit and went to subway for lunch, and I splurged even more by getting one of the $7.75 sandwiches.  But only because it was Valentines Day.  A single, recent convert in the ward took us out to dinner to a a chinese buffet.  But other than that, we just enjoyed the heat and did normal missionary stuff.  But I hope y'all had a fantastic day!  

-It is a bit of a challenge to train and be a zone leader, but I like it!  There is barely enough time in a day to do all that we need to do, so we are always busy and my mind is always always occupied.  It's exhausting, but it's good for me.   
-Elder Denos took a little Spanish in high school, but none of it stuck with him.  It is a little hard on the ears to listen to his Spanish, but he seems to be ahead of some of the other elders that came out with him.  He's not afraid to speak it, so he's learning fairly fast.  
-the cookies were superb and in one piece.  How did you make those things?!  Thank you very much for sending me that stuff.  You are too sweet!  I also got the card from grandma and grandpa Pratt.  Make sure they know that I love them and thank them!  

Felicidades to cousin Ryan and Amanda!!!!!!!!!!   
It makes sense what you say about the summer and work.  Working at the zoo sounds kinda fun!  I'd like to keep my options open though still.  A summer at home sounds great!  Well, as of yesterday, I have now been a missionary for 21 months.  I don't know how to feel about it, probably because nothing is really setting in yet.  But time has never flown by faster than the way it is now.  I'll be home in no time!  I am grateful for the updates and all that you and everybody does for me.  I couldn't do this without y'all! 

Love you to Kolob and back!

Elder Williams 

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Week Ninety - A Trip on DART to Downtown Dallas!

Dallas with Elders Keller, Ezzell, Douglas and Perez! 

Elder Keller and David in downtown Dallas!

Downtown Dallas!

Twisted Root southern comfort burger!

Greetings Family and Friends!  

I love you all!  I love hearing from y'all!  I had a great week!  Crazy busy, overwhelming, interesting, and quite exciting with the new changes.  
MONDAY, after emailing, a group of 6 elders road the DART train to downtown Dallas.  We were going to go to the Perot museum, but that didn't work out, so we kind of just explored and wasted time down there.  It was kind of pointless, but it was refreshing to do something different than spend the whole preparation day in the chapel playing sports and emailing.  One of the missionaries we went with was Elder Scott, who went to Skyline high school!  That kid is a contacting machine!  I don't think I have ever seen a missionary so fearless in trying to contact everyone he can; going up to cars waiting at red lights and asking them to roll down their window, announcing to the whole train that we are representatives of Jesus Christ and wanting to answer questions, and really going out of his way to contact everybody.  As we went from train stop to train stop, he almost got left behind multiple times because he couldn't stop talking to people!  He is a true social butterfly, and it motivated me to put myself out there more and talk to the whole world!  For lunch we went to a famous burger joint downtown called the Twisted Root.  Super good!  While there we met a return missionary Mormon from Utah who is now pursuing his dreams of becoming an actor, and he is currently on tour with I think what is called "the Marvel Experience", where he acts as Thor.  So that was kind of neat.  Other than that, we didn't really get much done down there.  Kinda fun day though!
TUESDAY was exciting with transfers and all.  They threw us a curve ball by dividing up almost all of the zone leaders, so each zone leader has a companion that is not a zone leader, and the other zone leader is in another area.  I'm not entirely sure why they did that, but one of the reasons is because 26 elders went home, and 26 new missionaries got here, so there was a need for more trainers.  So there are a few zone leaders that are training, and I got lucky enough to be one of them!... I really wasn't too excited about it actually, but it does feel good to know that President Taylor trusts me with such responsibility.  Lots of other zone leaders were put with missionaries that are struggling or just need help.  But my new companion is Elder Denos, from Riverton, Utah, fresh from the Mexico CCM Monday.  He played football and ran track and has a trampoline at his house.  So he's a pretty cool kid!  It's crazy to think that he is two years younger than me and just graduated from high school.  I've never felt so old!  The other zone leader in the Dallas East zone is Elder Stewart, from Pleasant Grove, Utah.  He's been out six weeks less than me, and he is great!  I have kind of served around him before, but I really don't know him too well.  So I'm excited to work with him and get to know him, as well as with Elder Denos!  I've got a full plate this transfer, but I have learned to love being stretched and challenged.  I know the Lord has things for me to learn this transfer.  I love learning!   Tuesday I sent three of my dearest companions home - Elders Sheffer, Crockett, and Keller.  I am so grateful for the chance that I had to serve with them and learn from them.  They are great!  Unfortunately, I didn't really get to say goodbye to any of them, because right after the transfer meeting I had to go to a trainers meeting, and by the time we got done, they were gone!  But that's okay, I will probably see them in just three months.                               
After all the meetings on Tuesday, we went and got Elder Denos a bike, along with the other elder companionship in Casa Linda, which is Elder Barton (who came out with me) and a new missionary that came from Elder Keller's home ward.  Small world!  After eating a bunch of tacos for dinner at a member's house, Elder Denos had a cough attack and threw up his dinner all over the carpet in the apartment.  I feel like that is what I will always remember about Elder Denos.  Memorable first day!  
WEDNESDAY we did an exchange so Elder Stewart and I could plan for zone meeting the next day.  This past month we had our "Another Testament" Initiative, where we focused heavily on flooding the TDM with the Book of Mormon.  This transfer we will be focusing on another initiative called "Turning the Hearts", where we will be focusing on spreading the gospel through family history!  Just from reading a couple of talks and studying the initiative powerpoint that President and Sister Taylor put together, I am already super excited to do family history work! Elder Bednar stated that missionary work and family history work are one great work, and the invisible boundary line we tend to place between the two must be erased.  These initiatives are son inspired!  We were informed tuesday night that we needed to have a zone meeting thursday morning to introduce the new initiative to the zone.  So it was pretty stressful trying to plan with such short notice, and trying to familiarize myself with something I had never before seen, to the point where I could train and explain it to everybody the next day.  But all went well and things worked out!
The rest of the week was just typical missionary work, trying to work hard and make sure Elder Denos starts out on a good note with good experiences.  This transfer is going to be amazing!  

-same address and apartment.  we have smokers on all sides, except for above us, and I feel like I am slowly dying.  Not really, but it is not enjoyable.
-do you still have that little speaker you sent me at the beginning of my mission?  We don't have a cd player or anything of the sort, so that speaker would be nice.  Other than that, I don't need anything specific at the moment.  
-still making smoothies!  

I thank you for taking the time to write me and fill me in on things.  I will ponder and pray about a pottery store name for Em.  Keep meeting with the missionaries!  Those Elders have got to love coming to your beautiful home and discussing with such amazing people.  I actually think I would be somewhat intimidated trying to teach someone like you, because you are so intelligent.  I don't have to deal with people like you too often as a spanish missionary, but just take it easy on them!  Please have an open heart as they extend invitations to you, and willingly accept them.  They invite sincerely and out of love.  There is nothing more frustrating to a missionary than when the people they teach don't act on the invitations extended.  Trust me, I deal with it on the daily.  You are a huge blessing to those missionaries!  Congrats to cousin Mike and Katie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

-as part of the "turning the hearts" initiative, us missionaries will be doing some family history work as we invite others to do the same.  President Taylor has asked that we ask our parents for any stories or information that you have that could help us catch the "Spirit of Elijah" and get to know our ancestors better.  So if you have any stories or any documents or anything else, especially for grandparents, great grandparents, and maybe one more great, that would be great to send to me ASAP!  Thanks!  email or hard copy in mail.  whatever works!

Alright.  That's all I've got for y'all this week, and Elder Vang has been talking trash to me all week about pday basketball, so I have some business to take care of.  Have the best week ever!  Thank you for everything you do!  I love y'all to Kolob and back!  

Elder Williams       

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Week Eighty Nine - Army of God, A Call From a Buddy and a Visit From Elder Russell M. Nelson!

A visit from Elder Russell M. Nelson!

Happy, content faces!  David and Elder Keller at dinner with Rosalba!

He loves these rolls!  Texas Roadhouse....the best!

Accidental selfie!

Appreciating being treated to dinner at Texas Roadhouse by Rosalba!

Greetings Family and Friends!  

I love you all and it is so good to hear about what is going on back home.  We had an awesome, crazy busy week!   On Tuesday, we did another exchange.  Elder Clausen, from Kearns, Utah, an elder that I served with for a transfer in my last area, came to Casa Linda with me.  He is a super unique and funny kid.  We had a good time!  Lots of missionaries really dislike exchanges, and they are a bit of a pain, but I really enjoy them. 
     On Wednesday, us 7 missionaries in the ward put on a youth activity for the young men and young women.  There were tons of them!  We taught about the Book of Mormon.  We divided it up into sections:  Elder Keller and I taught a general lesson about what the Book of Mormon is using the introduction to the Book.  It was hard to get them all to be reverent and pay attention.  But we suffered through that, and then Elder Packham and his companion took over for the activity.  We pretty much had a nerf dart war, with pbc pipes and nerf guns, the missionaries against the youth, but we made it super unfair where we had a fortress, more darts, and longer pbc pipes that shoot a lot harder, and the youth had to grab a flag in our fortress without getting hit by a dart.  It was next to impossible.  It was hilarious because Elder Packham is normally a very timid and reserved kid,  but for things like this, he gets super pumped and we get to see the real Elder Packham!  He was the master mind behind the activity,  and he just completely took over and dominated, effortlessly and mercilessly drilling these kids square between the eyes time and time again.  At one point, one of the young men was getting a little mouthy, and Elder Packham yelled "what's that?  I can't hear you, oh yeah, your DEAD!"  You just had to be there.  I really wish I could have got it all on video, because it was epic!  The point that the elders were trying to illustrate was that we had the "army of God" on because we read the Book of Mormon and they don't.  Then the Hermanas ended the meeting on a spiritual note with a story and an invitation.  It all went really well! 
     That night we had to stay up really late to plan for a zone meeting the next day that was supposed to go from 9:00 to 3:00.  Elder Keller thought we could save all the planning for the day before, and that was a big mistake.  But we got it done, and the meeting turned out well.  We went through a powerpoint to teach the 2015 TDM vision, goals and plans.  Then we heard from Sister Taylor, who gave us a training about health and exercise.  We gave a couple of trainings, and then we had the privilege of hearing from our stake president, President Larsen.  That guy is a real spiritual giant if I ever did meet one.  I mean, he writes hymns, for crying out loud!  We sang one of the hymns he wrote at the meeting, called "Here Am I, Send Me".   It really impacted me.  Here is one of the verses, along with the chorus:

When you need a true disciple who will serve thee anywhere,
Who will lift the weak and weary and will show thy loving care,
Just please know that I am ready and my faith is strong and sure.
I am keeping thy commandments, my heart is clean and pure.

Here am I, send me!  Let me be thy loving hands.
Hera am I, send me!  I'll obey all thy commands.
However I may serve thee, I will try to be found worthy.
Dear Father, how I love thee, here am I, send me!  

I almost got emotional as we sang this; the Spirit was so strong.  This is exactly how our attitude should be as Latter-day Saints!  Ready, willing, worthy and able.  I could really do better at having this kind of attitude, all the time, and for that, I love this hymn!  And the words are really stinking with me.
     Then Friday, we had the blessing of being taught by Elder Russell M. Nelson, from the Quorum of the 12, as well as Elder Lynn G. Robins, from the Presidency of the 70.  Talk about a spiritual meeting!  It was amazing to be taught by them.  They are absolute geniuses!  Some of the stuff they said went right over my head.  Elder Robins talked about the power fo the Book of Mormon in conversion, and then talked a lot about success coming from lots of failure and enthusiasm.  He used a quote that I don't have on me.  Elder Nelson talked about our identity, purpose, and destiny.  He was telling us what certain words meant in greek and hebrew and latin, he knew the scriptures like the back of his hand, and we got a bit of a glimpse of how brilliant the man really is.  I almost felt a little crumby after the meeting, because I felt like I was never going to amount to anything in life, compared to Elder Nelson!  Then Elder Keller reminded me that he is more than quadruple my age, and I've got a lot of life ahead of me.  I think the biggest thing I took away from that meeting is that we, as children of God, have a potential that we cannot even comprehend.  We are capable of more than we know.  Learning and progressing are a life long process, and we need to love and be anxious to learn and progress.  Elder Nelson is a prime example of someone who has used their agency wisely throughout life, and what we can accomplish and become if we turn our lives over to God.  I left that meeting with a deeper desire to learn, shoot for the moon, reach for my dreams, and accomplish amazing things in life!  
   Transfers are tomorrow and I will receive a new companion and still be a zone leader.  I love Elder Keller and I have enjoyed our 7 weeks together.  He is a real stud that has taught me quite a bit.  I thought sending a companion home would be hard, and it has been a little difficult.  I am really sick of hearing about home,  plans for once he gets home, people saying goodbye to him and giving him advice for the "real world", and stuff like that.  So I'm ready and excited for the change!  

-If you saw the big mission formal pictures from the meeting with Elder Nelson, I am in one of them, on the back row, next to a super tall white kid. 
-I got a phone call from Elder Haskell the other day.  He told me he had just got done at the gym, eating cafe rio, and about to go on a date.  That kid!  But he told me that he could probably get me a job doing pest control in Orem/Provo, for the summer.  But I don't know what I want to do!  What do you think?  Can we talk about this more next week?

That's all!  Thanks for the updates!  I'm happy to hear that you are taking care of the missionaries and enjoying their visits.  Tell Toby I'll be home in less than three months!  I love you to Kolob and back!  Have a great week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder Williams

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Week Eighty Eight - Miracles, Diligence, Faith and Patience!

Missionary basketball!  Elder Keller and David!

David and Elder Keller looking for a rat!

Wait a minute.....I can't see!

David getting a boost from Elder Keller!

The Casa Linda District and Mini Me!


Well, we had a good week.  We talked to lots of peeps, had some success and some good things happen.  We went on another exchange, and I went with Elder Ezzell to his area, doing English work.  Elder Ezzell is from Layton and has been out for a year and a half.  He is a really cool kid and is going to teach me how to do a standing backflip today!  Unfortunately, it was a very miserable exchange because I had to ride his companions tiny, uncomfortable, walmart bike up and down some serious hills all day.  But I survived!  There was a pretty cool miracle that took place on the exchange though.  So about a year ago, when in Lakewood, I lost my most favorite watch in the chapel where I now attend every Sunday.  Not soon after, I left to McKinney, and I bugged Elder Sheffer about it for a while, trying to get him to track it down for me.  No luck, and I had to give up on it.  On this exchange, however, as I was showering in the shower of this apartment, to my pleasant surprise and amazement, I saw my long lost watch connected to the towel rack.  These missionaries have been using my watch as a shower clock for the year! The bishop of their ward found it and gave it to them.  And it is still in perfect condition, just the way I left it!   It just amazes me that nearly everything that I have lost on my mission has eventually turned up, except for another name tag that I just lost last week, but I do not lack faith!  God loves me and it will turn up in time!   #MIRACLE     

I believe I have already mentioned this, but for the entire month of January we have been working on an initiative with the Book of Mormon.  We eat, sleep, study, teach and preach nothing but the Book of Mormon.  The goal is to flood the TDM  with the Book of Mormon!  We set the goal to invite 40,000 people to learn more about the Book of Mormon and our church.  As of Thursday, we were super far from that goal and definitely not on track, so we have been making a big push to just contact people like crazy.  It has been exhausting, but we have had some good things come from it.  As part of the initiative, we have also set the goal to read the entire Book of Mormon in 40 days.  That has been really neat and I have felt the power of the Book of Mormon stronger than ever!  We are also focusing on studying Preach My Gospel, chapter 5, which teaches all about the Book of Mormon.  The more I read It, the more I study It and learn of It, the more It amazes me.  AMO EL LIBRO DE MORMON!

We witnessed the power of the Book of Mormon this week with a young recent convert that was baptized about a year and a half ago.  He is mas o menos active, and is quite far from really being converted. When we visited him two weeks ago, he was struggling with his testimony and doubts, and regretted being baptized so quick.  He wasn't reading or praying, and had no desires to do so.  He was struggling to find a job and just wasn't feeling too good.  We strongly invited him to read the Book of Mormon every day, especially when he didn't want to.  When we went back a week later, he told us that he had read every day of that week, reading the entire book of Mosiah!  He was excited to tell us what he had understood and learned from the stories, and he seemed to know them better than I do!  It was amazing to see the change that took place in him.  He was happy, really happy, he was interviewed and hired on the spot for a new job, he had a real desire to read more of the Book of Mormon, and he had made the decision to prepare for, and serve a mission!  Elder Keller and I were ecstatic when we heard this news.  Now, it is up to him if that desire to serve will stay, but I know that if he continues to read and pray regularly, that desire will grow and become stronger with time.  To see this was a huge testimony builder for me.  I know that the Book of Mormon is the key!  It has POWER to change and inspire us.  This quote from President Hinckley found in PMG chapter 5 really stuck out to me this week:  
   “Those who have read [the Book of Mormon] prayerfully, be they rich or poor, learned or unlearned, have grown under its power. … Without reservation I promise you that if you will prayerfully read the Book of Mormon, regardless of how many times you previously have read it, there will come into your hearts … the Spirit of the Lord. There will come a strengthened resolution to walk in obedience to his commandments, and there will come a stronger testimony of the living reality of the Son of God” (“The Power of the Book of Mormon,” Ensign, June 1988, 6).
   The Book of Mormon can fill our lives with the Spirit of God, inspire us to be more obedient, and bring us closer to Jesus Christ.  I remember recently hearing a talk from President Hinckley where he said that the Gospel of Jesus Christ refines us as people.  I have a testimony that the Book of Mormon can trigger this refinement in us through the Gospel to be better people.  It's really sad because too many people don't give the Book of Mormon a chance.  They give up on it before anything can be done.  It's kind of like eating healthy or unhealthy.  You're not going to get fat from one unhealthy meal, just like you're not going to get fit from one healthy meal.  I love to share the following verses from the Book of Mormon that illustrate this point:  
   ALMA 32:  41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with patience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life. 42 And because of your diligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the fruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. 43 Then, my brethren, ye shall reap the rewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth fruit unto you.                  DILIGENCE.  FAITH.  PATIENCE.    So pretty much, just read the Book of Mormon, and stick with it!  Diligently, Faithfully, Patiently.  The power will be felt, and the blessings will come!  

-I'm not sure what I would like to do right when I get home, but I would love to have job options when I get home.  It would be awesome if I could start working right when I get home.  So I would love it if you could ask around and pull some strings.  You can find me some "referrals" while you are at it too ;)  
-I got the drawings and they could not be better!  Thank you so much fro taking the time to do that, Mom and Em!  Love you!
-We go on one or two exchanges a week, but it has been difficult without a car.  
-My hair has gotten quite long in the past month!  It's not bad, but I must be looking clean cut for Elder Nelson!  
-I currently do not need anything specific from home.  
-The sword and gun were at a members house.  They are ward missionaries and they help us out a lot.  

I think that's all I have for you this week.  This week coming up is going to be a big week!  I'll have lots to share next next Monday.  Keep taking care of the missionaries, you will be blessed!  I love the pictures!  Have the best week of your life and know that I love you all to Kolob and back!

Elder Williams