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