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