Thursday, May 15, 2014

Scottie during our Mother's Day FaceTime call! Love that smile SO much!

Hola!!! It was so good to hear y'alls voices yesterday (he got to call home for Mother’s Day using FaceTime and we were able to hook the iPad up the television to see him “live, large and in color”!!) , I can't even accurately describe how excited I was. My cheeks hurt from smiling so much during the call, thank you, thank you, thank  you :):) It was awesome, and so cool to see Grandma and Papa. I feel like there's a billion things I wish I could have said, but I hope y'all know how much you mean to me and how thankful I am to have y'all as my family. I love you so much!! I said most of the details via the FaceTime chat, but here's some highlights from the past week for the blog (I'll send pictures too):

Monday 5/5/14:

Pretty normal P-Day today...up until we witnessed a drive by shooting at the park where we were  playing Frisbee. Thankfully, nobody got hit and the shooter car drove away. Kind of crazy, first time I've called 911 on
my mission, but hey, that's life right?? No worries though, I'm safe, and things are all good with us :)

Tuesday 5/6/14:

We had our zone conference today for the 3 Granger zones. It was a spiritual tsunami of training and powerful messages on faith and missionary work, and we loved it! And I met someone with family ties to the Humphrey family back in Georgia, it's a small world! (my dear friend, Jennifer Humphrey sent me some photos that her Aunt sent her after meeting Scottie!!)

Scottie at Zone Conference (sent by Jennifer)

Scottie and his old companion, Elder Balino (sent by Jennifer)

Wednesday and Thursday

Pretty normal days, not too much to report, good lessons though. I'm loving this area!!

Friday 5/9/14:

Today was awesome! Alfonso Acosta got baptized this afternoon/evening, and it was an amazing ceremony. I'll send pics. The spirit was so strong and we just were so happy, it was hard to stop smiling. I know that Alfonso just made one of the best choices of his life!!

Alfonso's baptism, Alfonso on right, Hermano de Alba on the left

Saturday 5/10/14:

Today was Día de las Madres (when they celebrate Mother's Day in most Spanish-speaking countries). So we got to go to the branch (his local Spanish-speaking congregation) Mother's Day activity, and sing and perform in front of everyone, kind of nerve-wracking but it went well. (he told us that he actually sang a solo in Spanish!) We also had an amazing lesson with Olga and Edir. She's super pumped for baptism and they're getting married next Saturday if everything goes according to plans!!

Me, Howe, Baliño, Martinez, and the Gomez family
Funny baby with a Stache!

Sunday 5/11/14:

Happy Mother's Day!!! To my mom and my grandma, my aunts and great aunts, and all the amazing examples of mothers I've seen amongst our ward and stake back home as well as with my friends' parents. It truly is a special day today! (Please link the video, it's awesome). We had some meetings, then church, then we rushed home and got to FaceTime home. That was the coolest thing to be able to see and talk to my family. I miss y'all like crazy, and I know that what I'm out here doing is the Lord's Work, but I can't wait to see y'all again and be able to give you all big hugs! It'll be sweet :) I loved seeing Grandma and Papa (they were here visiting) and Aunt Tammy and Tess (they live  in Iowa, but we FaceTimed them also!) too, that was a cool surprise. I hope that y'all are having a great time. You all look great and seem happy, and that's what's important :) Thank you, for being the best family ever!!!!!!

Love always,


Scottie with my Mother's Day Rose!!

Sis. Juarez, Elders Duncan, Biggs, McNeil, Me, Sis. Sosa

This last week was full of experiences, and we were definitely busy!

4/29/14 - Tuesday

Today was definitely one of the craziest days I've had on the mission in a long time. We were on exchanges
(where he and his companion split up and go out with other missionaries) today. I stayed in our area with Elder Bagley (Elder Burgin's companion). We had studies and talked about the exchange focus a bit, then we went and biked over to help the Sanchez family move all of their stuff and furniture. I picked up this massive TV that was really old and super heavy, and I saw Elder Bagley coming over so I thought "cool, maybe he'll help me carry this." Then he proceeded to grab the power cord....and that was it, haha. Love the kid though, he's great! We then starting getting texts and no lie, every single appointment we had set up today cancelled or fell through. Obviously, The Lord had different plans for us today. So we started contacting referrals and new people, had dinner with the Nash and Atwater families, and then we went to visit with Hermano de Alba and Ramon Barboza.  Unfortunately, Hermano Barboza's father passed away today, so he was a little down.  We were riding back home with Hermano Rosas when I got a phone call from somebody in the stake. They called to tell me that Sis. Juarez's (sister missionary in his zone) grandmother had just passed away, and they asked me to tell her since I was her zone leader.  As I was getting this information, we got hit by another car (we were in Hermano Rosa's car), so needless to say it was a pretty stressful few minutes there. No worries, Bagley and I are fine, it wasn't a bad crash it was just kind of unexpected. Hermano Rosa's car is pretty messed up, he'll have to go get the door replaced for sure.  Then we learned that another missionary's mom died in a car accident. So it was kind of a crazy day, lot of sad emotions over the deaths (Sis. Juarez's grandma died in a car accident too), so we'll see what happens with them! It is such a comfort to know that the Plan of Salvation is true though and that families can be reunited again!

4/30/14 - Wednesday

Another busy day! We got up and took some cards around to Sis. Juarez and Ramon Barbosa, then we had District Leader Training meeting. We did some more service (helping the Sanchez family's parents move),
then we had a great visit with Alfonso and others. I'm worn out from moving so much furniture haha, so I'm about to get some sleep!

5/1/14 - Thursday

Wow, it's already May. Craziness! We had the normal morning routine, and then we spent 1 to 4 going around to the different weekly planning sessions and coordinating with the missionaries there. We have an awesome zone, I'm so happy to be serving here. Then we biked over to the Balderas's home. Today is stake temple day since stake conference is this weekend, and we've been working with Pepe Balderas and Levi Silos (his brother-in-law), to get them back active in church. So they've been progressing really well, and we took them to the temple to do baptisms. It was Levi's first time, and Pepe's first time since he was 14 (~10 years ago), so it was such a powerful experience. The Spirit was so strong and it just furthered my testimony that the temple truly is the House of The Lord on Earth.

Pepe, Me, and Levi at the Jordan North Temple

5/2/14 - Friday

Another busy day! We got up, studied, then went to Elder Burgin's district meeting (as Zone Leaders he and his companion rotate to the different districts to observe/evaluate the training), and he did an excellent job! Then, we did our weekly planning, and then left to go help another family move. We didn't have a lot of time, but we wanted to help Sisters Unga and Martinez out (sister training leaders in another zone - they had someone moving near our area). We went and helped with as much of the heavy lifting as we could (beds, mattresses, sofas, fridge, etc.). Then we ran home, changed, and ran off to dinner and visits for the evening with la familia Tierrablanca. It was a busy day, and it's certainly been a week full of service! We love it :)

5/3/14 - Saturday

We got up today, did some studies, and then went and helped the Sanchez family set up their  FamilySearch accounts so they can get started on their family history. We had a meeting with Elders Duke and
Howe to plan the training we're giving at Zone Conference this upcoming Tuesday (as a zone leader, I found out we give training all the time haha). Then, we met some new investigators in the afternoon, had an awesome visit with Alicia Ramirez, then a great dinner with la familia Antonio. Tonight was the Saturday session of Stake Conference, and it was a great meeting. Super spiritual and it was focused on the Hastening of the Work, so we loved it!

5/4/14 - Sunday

Today was a great day! We had the priesthood session of stake conference starting at 7 AM, then the regular session at 10 AM. I got to speak, but my topic was on the joy of missionary work and serving a mission, so it was super laid back and easy to speak on, since I absolutely love my mission! Then, we had a great day visiting people, and it seemed like everywhere we went we had food. We had 6 lessons, and food at 3 of them. Carne asada y chorizo tacos with the  Casteneda family, awesome dinner with las familias Nash y Atwawter, and then tacos sudados (steamed tacos basically) covered with nopales (cactus) with Alfonso. It was legit. Then, the coolest thing ever happened to us. We were going to pick up this kid named Gerardo to come out with us in the evening, and his brother's girlfriend walks up to us and (in Spanish) says, "Hey Elders. I'm ready to receive the discussions and be baptized. I'm not working right now, so whenever you want to start teaching me is good, I'm home all day pretty much." That is a miracle right there! It just goes to show you that The Lord really is preparing the hearts of the people to receive the restored Gospel, I love it! There is so much joy in the Gospel, and the endless possibilities made available because of Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, fills me with hope. I'm so thankful for the many blessings in my life, especially my family and friends and the love of my Father in Heaven. I can't put in words how much I've learned on my mission or how thankful I am to be here. It's not easy and I miss y'all so, so much, but I know this is where I need to be right now. Thank you for your continual support. Love y'all!!

haha....nuff said

(From his email to his Aunt Tammy)

Hey Tía Tammy!

We're staying busy! I'm getting settled in, I almost know the majority of the important details for the area. Still learning street names though haha. It really just depends (she asked him how long he would be in his new area),  I know a lot of people that pull one transfer (six weeks) and then get moved and I know some people that pull 9 months in an area, it's kinda random. (well, the Mission President is guided by the Spirit, so it's not random, there's just no set rule).

I can't believe it's already Mother's Day. Speaking of which, Happy Mother's Day Aunt Tammy! I'm so proud to call you my aunt and I wish I could just call y'all too, but we'll see each other before we even know it!

The weather is getting warm which is great! I've determined I'd much rather be burning up and sweating than freezing while out proselyting :)

I love that kindness of the people in this area. The people are so nice and warm and make me feel at home. To be honest with you, the thing from home I wish I could have: soft bed or maybe just the time to go and play sports and workout. I really miss playing frisbee and basketball, but that's okay, I'll be back and playing soon. Sometimes we get to play on Mondays, but it's always dependent on the athleticism of the missionaries (in his area).

Word of the week: Felicidad - happiness. The Gospel and my family give me more happiness than I can put into words!!

Love always,


Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Valencia family, saying goodbye!
Hola Familia!!
4/21/14 Monday:

Today was the crazy pre-transfer P-Day. We spent the morning getting haircuts and cleaning, then all day with the zone playing whiffle ball, soccer, and football - so much fun. We went to Buffet City with Hermano Baquerizo
(their ward mission leader) and his family, then we had a great night visiting and saying goodbye to the Garcias, Jiminiez, Bronson, Eggers, and Valencias. We got home and continued packing and getting ready for transfers!  Also, I got my Easter Basket package!  Thank you so much! The food was amazing and the shirt and ties were perfect. I needed another long-sleeved shirt and those ties are super fresh, thank you!!
Familia Baquerizo :) outisde of a Chinese buffet
The Bronson family, they're way cool!
4/22/14 Tuesday:

Transfer day! It's crazy that I'm already leaving Hunter West, this is the first time I haven't stayed in an area for a while. 1 transfer and done
! (transfer days come every 6 weeks but they can stay in one area for several transfer periods, in his first two areas he was there 4-5 months!) But I'm really excited to be serving as a zone leader with Elder Biggs over in Granger North. Transfer meeting was awesome, I got to see so many people I haven't seen in a while, like Elder Moleli and Rosdahl. Pres. Swain has titled this transfer the Transfer of Faith and wants us to all work really hard to grow in faith and see the results. We then went over to my new place.  We live upstairs at the Kitchen family's home. We have our own little kitchen and washer and dryer and such, and it's a nice place! The Kitchens are super nice too, so we go downstairs and hang out with them some. Our apartment upstairs was a wreck when we got here, but after a few hours of cleaning it’s looking good! I'm excited to be here! I'll be in the San Marcos branch (a Spanish-speaking congregation), by the way. At night we went on visits...and we actually went on splits (a split is where the companionship splits up and each one goes out with a member of their branch), which was hilarious because I didn't know anyone we were teaching...or the member that I went out with, but things went well and we got a few solid visits in!

The New Apartment

4/23/14 Wednesday:

Solid day today! It was a great 1st day in the area. We got up, worked out, did studies, then ate lunch and headed over to the stake center. As a ZL
(Zone Leader), we do weekly trainings for the District Leaders in our zone (Elders Burgin and McNeil). So we prepared a training and did that with them. Afterwards, we did some area book updating and then had a great lesson with Hermana Tierrablanca. She's an investigator and she now has a baptismal date for mid-May. We're super excited about that! Then, we had a fun dinner with the Torres family, visited a few people, and then the Assistants to President, Elders Russell and Isabell, came over and we started exchanges (exchanges are where the companionship splits up and each one goes out with a missionary from another companionship) with them. I went with Elder Russell into their area. It was pretty cool, they're the only elders in the whole mission with a car, so I get to see what that's like. Unfortunately I won't be allowed to drive haha, but that's okay!

4/24/14 Thursday:

Today was an awesome day. I had a blast on exchanges with Elder Russell. One thing is for sure, the assistants
(assistants to the mission president) definitely stay busy! We got up, worked out, and then had really good morning studies. Then we headed over to the Peachwood building because Elder Russell had some reports and forms to fill out and baptismal records to update/drop off. We went and taught Chad (the Assistants cover a YSA (young single adult) area), then we went to La Fontana for lunch. I got a chimichanga that was pretty good! Then, we drove around and visited a few of the weekly planning sessions and helped people with iPad difficulties and questions. We had a few more lessons, then grabbed dinner with their Bishop and it was great. We evaluated the exchange afterwards and Elder Russell gave me tons of helpful tips for becoming a Zone Leader, he's a great guy! Then we un-exchanged (rejoined their original companions) and it was time for sleep!

4/25/14 Friday:
Good day today! I didn't have to prepare a district meeting, so we went over to Elder McNeil's (one of the district leaders in his zone) and just participated in his, and he did a great job. Then, we had our weekly planning (since ZL's visit everyone during Thursday weekly planning, we do ours on Friday). Afterwards, we had dinner, then our nightly plans started canceling so we knew The Lord intended for us to see different people that night. We found a few new people and met some people we haven't seen in a while, and it was a good night!

4/26/14 Saturday:

Today was a cold, rainy, but good day. We had the normal morning, then went over to the stake center for Choir Practice. The Mission President Devotional is in our stake this month, so during practice, Elder Biggs and I were responsible for doing a training for all the missionaries that didn't want to sing but whose companion did. We did a training from 10:30 to 12:30 on effective role-play for lesson planning, then we came back home and got some lunch. We spent the afternoon contacting people and inviting them to the branch Pascua (Easter) activity, and that's what we did at night! We had a few investigators and less actives there, and they showed the Because of Him videos (the link is: . Then we came home, planned, and went to bed.

4/27/14 Sunday:

Today was one of those busy Sundays! We got up, studied for a few hours, then we had a meeting with  the Stake President at 10:15 (to get assignments to speak in Stake Conference next weekend), branch  council
from 10:45 to 11:45, we went and picked a few investigators up and had church from 1 to 4, then we had a missionary correlation meeting from 4 to 5, then we set up the devotional from 5 to 6:30, then the devotional from 7 to 8, then we cleaned up and came home. It was non-stop action, but I got to meet a ton of the branch members and everyone seems really nice and I'm excited to be here. Then we collected zone numbers, called them in to the AP's, and it's time for sleep! I'm loving the new area, I think it's going to be great!

So my new area is awesome, we've already put 3 people with baptismal dates since I got here. The new apartment needed some cleaning but we've got it looking nice!!!!  Elder Biggs is doing super well, we're pumped to be back together. 

I just moved 4 miles east!  And I go to the San Marcos branch (local Spanish-speaking congregation), we meet at 1 o’clock (boo) (he would rather start church earlier – like 9:00 am). But it seems great! The branch president is not Hispanic...but he's a professional translator so his Spanish is just fine! Everyone here has been in awe over my Spanish, they all tell me I sound native, so I guess it's getting better! I told a few people I was from Mexico and they flat out believed me haha :); there's a colony of people in Guadalajara that look like me apparently, that's what everyone tells me! And I do have a Mexican accent too, it just happened serving with 2 Mexican companions!

And being a ZL is awesome, I'm going to learn so much and get to serve so many missionaries, so I'm excited. We definitely stay a lot busier! As a zone leader, I do the same things as a district leader, except instead of focusing on individual companionships in one district, I focus on the district leaders of multiple districts, and then we're in charge of the individual companionships to an extent too. We work pretty closely with the Assistants and Pres. Swain (the mission president), and it’s a lot of responsibility for us, but we get to learn and work with a ton of missionaries so I love it!

Hey, we've got to run! I love you so much though, and I can't wait to email with you next week!

Y'all are the best! I love you so much!

Sis. Kitchen, our landlady
(teaching Elder Biggs how to get stains out of white shirts!)

(From his email with his Aunt Tammy)

Hey Tia Tammy!

I just got called to serve as a Zone Leader in the Granger B Zone, Granger North Stake! I'm a little bit nervous and excited, but probably more excited than nervous. We've got really solid people here to help me figure things out, I'm serving with Elder Biggs again so that's awesome!

So as far as my daily schedule goes, it doesn't change too much. During district events (training meetings, weekly planning, etc.) we go and visit all of the districts in our zone, and then we do our weekly planning on a different day. And we have to do several exchanges and other training meetings throughout the week. 

And I did get transferred. I'll definitely miss Dude (the “house dog” at his last location), but It's a good area so that's good :)

I'm definitely thankful for warmer weather, I don't think I'm much of a fan of the cold!

We're still biking in this area, the only missionaries in the mission with a car are the assistants (assistants to the mission president), and there's only 1 car, 2 assistants, so it's biking time for us!

New word of the week: bakan. It's a Chilean slang word for something that's really cool. In my opinion, the scriptures are really cool. I've come to love them so much and I learn every time I read and study them. 

It's crazy that in like 5-6 weeks I won't be a teenager anymore, I don't know how to feel about that haha. 

I love you Aunt Tammy, hope everyone is doing well!!