Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Talking to y'all was so fun!!!  Well this will be the last week...  I can't believe it has gone by so fast.  Korina's Baptism was awesome!  Part of her family that lives here in East Texas came to her baptism and we were able to give them a church tour and they definitely felt the spirit while they were there.  Korina has changed so much.  We were able to teach her last night and I mentioned to her how happy she looks now, and how when we first met her she just seemed hopeless and negative.  It is amazing how living the Gospel makes us happy.  President and Sister Drake came to the baptism with one of their Daughters and her family.  His son in law said that he knew Ryan some how.  So, after Korina was baptized, while they were changing, Elder Hunter and I shared the Joseph Smith Story.  It was very powerful and you could tell that everyone in the room felt the spirit touch them.  It was exciting to see the faces of Korina's family members change while we shared that sacred and glorious experience.  After the baptism we asked Korina how she felt and she said that she felt clean and after her confirmation on Sunday we asked her how she felt and she said happy.  Being able to be cleansed from sin through making covenants with God, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost is quite the deal to me!!  Seeing Korina happy and having changed so much brought so much joy to me.  Giving me the opportunity to be a missionary is the greatest gift God has ever given me.  It has brought me so much joy and knowledge.  I was thinking about this last night and earlier today, I would not be in the position I am in now today without Mom and Dad.  You taught me so much, y'all raised me as the parents of the army of Helaman.  You taught me to stand for truth, to love the Lord, and many other important things that if I had otherwise I would not be serving a mission today.  I love y'all.
  On Monday we were having dinner at a members house, and after we had finished eating we were talking about missionary work and the members role along with the missionaries role, and then their next door neighbor came walking in and had some questions about our faith.  He told us that he has gone everywhere, been to almost every different church you can think of and the only one he has not tried yet is ours.  We were able to teach him the restoration right there.  The spirit was really strong and he definitely liked the message.  Afterwards we set up a return appointment and left him some stuff to read.  The appointment was for Sunday, but he had some things he was busy with this Sunday so we will be rescheduling.  His name is Austin, I know he is ready and that Elder Hunter will have some success with him.
  We were also able to see Mathew once this week.  He is so smart and understands so much of the Gospel and is hungry for more, but he is not willing to change.  It is driving me nuts!  I love him though and hope the best for him.  Other than that we don't have to many solid investigators at the moment.  We will be doing a lot of finding this week that is for sure!  I love y'all and hope y'all have a fantastic week!  CYA on the 7th!
Elder Willden

Elder Willden and Christmas gifts

Karina's Baptism Day!

Dam at Lake Livingston

Golden Eagle

More Pictures of beautiful Lake Livingston

Christmas Dinner

Monday, December 22, 2014

Elder Hunter and I had a really good week this week.  Korina had her interviews and will be getting baptized this Saturday.  She is doing really good, she reads the Book of Mormon and loves church and prays all the time.  She is truly changing and it is fun to watch the change in her and I am sure her family has also noticed a change.  We were also able to meet with Mathew this week.  He is not progressing, but he still loves our church.  He talks about it all the time with his friends.  When we went over to his house his friends already knew everything about us and Mathew asked for a Book of Mormon to give to one of his friends right there.  We didn't even do much talking because he was going off about how good it is and how Joseph Smith saw the vision and translated the gold plates and then how we have a prophet here on the earth today.  Mathew knows a lot about what we share and just doesn't act on what he knows.  He lives a very hard lifestyle and it has been very hard for him to dig his way out of it.  He is a very good guy though and is down to earth, but we are just not sure what else we can do to help the guy.  
  On Saturday Elder Hunter and I had the unique opportunity to go ring the bell at Walmart for The Salvation Army.  One of our members had an Elf Suit that yall saw me in Monday night and he let me borrow it for the special occasion.  It was so funny, and lots of people were donating because of it.  We had a few people come up and get pictures with me as well.  Kids would look at me with the cutest eyes and I got a lot of people that called me Buddy the Elf.  At one point while we were ringing the bell, there were a few teenagers that walked in past us and about 20 minutes later they walked out past us hand cuffed and with a cop.  It was eye opening to me to see how Christmas can be used for much good and can also be used for bad.  It was sad to see that those teenagers had lost the sight of Christmas.  Christmas isn't about how much I can get, nor is it about how much I can give.  Christmas is about our Savior Jesus Christ's birth and the gifts we give in this season should always remind us of the greatest gift that was given to us.  It has also been very heart warming to see people reaching out to others.  It means a lot to see someone outside with there family in need and someone to stop and give them what they can.  
  That is pretty much our week summed up.  I love y'all and am excited to be able to talk to y'all on Christmas!
Elder Willden

Last Pday, dec 15, 2014  
Went to Lake Livingston....beautiful!!

Got flight home itinerary!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Building gingerbread houses with the members in Houston.

These texts came in to Me(mom) tonight from a member in Houston.  The caption was "Buddy the Elf, What's your favorite color?" 

December 15, 2014 email:

Elder Hunter and I had a fantastic week!  We went on exchanges on Tuesday with the Cleveland Spanish Elders who live right by us and I was with Elder Resseler.  It was a lot of fun.  I was able to participate very little in lessons, but it was fun to hear Spanish and sit there haha.  I added in as much as I could and it was a wonderful experience.  That morning as we were saying our morning prayers Elder Resseler prayed that we would be able to find someone who is struggling and in need to hear our message.  I thought that was profound and added my faith to his knowing that God would provide as we opened up our mouths.  We went all the way to 6 without finding that person.  We decided to go out and do some tracting and the 2nd door we knocked on a 27 year old man opened the door.  He had a few tattoo's and looked a little rough, but was the nicest guy ever.  He immediately invited us in to teach them for 15-20 min.  We were able to share the Restoration and get to know him a little bit.  He just got out of prison and he had been in there for 8 years!  He told us that he is having to go to court again this week and he might be getting locked up again.  He expressed his desire to change, but also expressed how hard it is for him when he has all of these bad influences in his life.  We were able to teach the Restoration to his needs and the spirit was so strong.  After the lesson as we were walking away I leaned over to Elder Resseler and said, "Do you remember what you prayed for this morning?"  he then said, "I am not sure, why what's up?" I then explained how he had prayed that God would guide us to someone who is struggling and in need to hear our message.  The spirit was so strong.  I know that if we pray for God to place someone in our path each day that we can invite to hear the gospel everyday that God will provide that.  But, we have to act, we have to search for that person and talk to everyone about the great blessing that we have received.  It is unfair for us to hold on to a gift that we aren't even fit to receive.  God gives to us freely and expects us to give to his children freely.  I have a testimony of giving, as we give we have room to receive much more.  Never hold back when there is someone with a need and we have it.  We are taught in Mosiah it is a commandment to take care of the poor and the needy.  We are also taught in one of Christ's parables.  The parable of the Sheep and the Goat.  To the sheep he said I was an hungered and ye gave me meat, I was thirsty and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger and ye took me in, Naked and ye clothed me, I was sick and ye visited me, I was in prison and ye came unto me.  Then, the people said when have we done these things and Christ tells them that they did it to there fellow brothers and sisters and welcomed them into the Kingdom of God.  Christ then said to the goats the exact opposite and they weren't allowed into the Kingdom of God.  Therefore we know that we must give in order to receive.
  After Exchanges on Wednesday we had Christmas Conference down in Baytown.  All of the missionaries in the mission got together from 9 am- 5 pm.  It was really long.  We watched a movie called silent night, needless to say I won't be watching that movie ever again :).  As a district we sang silent night in front of everyone...  That was interesting.  Overall it was really good to see some friends and reminisce.  At the beginning the Mission Presidency gave talks and they were really good and I was able to learn much.  
  We were able to see Jamie this week and her and Marvin got into a little fight and it escalated and Jamie pretty much dropped us.  She wasn't mad at us and we weren't getting involved she just feels like being a Mormon is too hard.  And she feels that she doesn't have an answer from God to know that what we have shared with her is true.  It was disappointing, but I am sure that the Lord will continue to work on her.  KORINA is back!  She got back this Sunday and we will be seeing her today.  We are going to try and get her baptized soon.  She really struggled in Oklahoma.  She said that she wasn't happy because people were always arguing and that she didn't feel as good as she did as she was going to church and meeting with us.  Its amazing how living the Gospel makes us happy!  But, we are really excited to start working with her again.  
  We also had our Ward Christmas Party and it was the weirdest Christmas Party I have ever attended.  We had dinner and then sang a few carols and a member who is blind put together a display with 12 people for the song called 12 days til Christmas or something.  It was a jumbled mess haha.  People were all over the place and wearing weird things it was so funny.  But, it was a good experience.  It made me miss all of the Ward Christmas Parties we would go to as a family.  
  Elder Hunter and I just had a really good week and are hoe'in to the end of the roe!  I love yall and am excited to be reunited with yall again! Have a good week!
Elder Willden

Here is a funny little email exchange between Mom and Elder Willden: 
And yes I did get the PACKAGE! :)  Elder Hunter and I have really enjoyed the nerf guns haha

On Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 10:57 AM, Chase Willden <> wrote:
haha mom you know me I am a clean person... Well now I am :)

On Mon, Dec 8, 2014 at 5:00 PM, Rhonda Willden <> wrote:
You got a 10 on apartment clean checks!!!! I have been wanting to see that for 23 months!!!:)

 On Mon, Dec 15, 2014 at 12:26 PM, Chase Willden <> wrote:
Holy crap I forgot today was the 15th tell Kolton happy birthday for me and that I will give him his birthday spanks when I get home :)

Missionaries are still a little goofy.  Chase sent us pictures of what they drew on Elder Hunter's wrists to be festive: 

December 7, 2014 email: 

Elder Hunter and I had a really good week this week.  We were really busy!  We received a referral from and her name was Janet.  We called her and she said that we could come see her right then.  We quickly drove up to her home to talk with her.  Turns out her sister is a recent convert and she is looking for something in her life.  We were able to teach her the restoration and the lesson went really well.  We will actually be going by tonight to meet with her and her husband at 7, so we will see how it all goes with them.  We also received a referral from a member that is a doctor and works here in cleveland for one of his clients wife.  Her name is Ashley.  Ashley's husband is a member and his whole family is as well.  Her in-laws recently started going to our ward due to some changes in boundaries and she is genuinely interested in learning more about our church.  We were able to ride with the member who referred her to us, to their home.  It was a long ride because they live way out at the east boundary line in a small city called Rye.  (when I was in Kountze our west boundary line was Rye) We had a really powerful restoration lesson with her and her husband after dinner (which there is another funny story with dinner) and her husband was all teary eyed.  It was a very good lesson overall.  We will be going back to see them on wednesday this week hopefully.  So, with the dinner thing.  Before we went to Ashley's home we didn't know we were going to have dinner and a member signed up for dinner that night, so we went to the members for dinner and it was really good and we ate so much and got stuffed.  Right when we got in the car with the doctor to go see Ashley he told us that we were lucky and that they were going to have dinner for us and yall should have seen Elder Hunter and I's faces.  When we got there I barely finished all my food and Elder Hunter was struggling haha.  I was just messing with him saying that he had to finish all the food on his plate and I was laughing so hard just watching him try to get it all down.  He wasn't able to finish but he did pretty good!  
  On wednesday we got a call from the AP's asking us if we would be will to go to the temple the next day at 6:30 am, because the day they scheduled us to go there would be too many missionaries and we wouldn't all fit.  So, we got up at 3:30 and got ready and took off for the temple.  It was awesome, but I was so tired after.  They held a meeting afterwards with the temple president again and we were able to have an open discussion about the symbolism in the temple it was really awesome, I learned so much.  We also had to go to a zone meeting this week and to the nativity.  At the Nativity on Saturday we had to be there at 3:00 pm and we left at 7:00 pm.  We had to stand at the door greeting people for 4 hours.  It felt like forever haha.  It was a really good experience though being able to meet all sorts of people.  
  And I found out that Alex from my last area got baptized yesterday!  It took long enough!  I was so happy for her and glad that I was able to be a little part in her conversion.  And turns out some other people that my companions and I worked with will be getting baptized as well.  I found out that Ken Jones had to go to the hospital this past week and is having a hard time.  Turns out the doctor told him that he would be better off health wise to not live the word of wisdom.  Hopefully he doesn't go back to his old habits.  But, he is a huge help in the church though.  He has been helping out with trying to find out where less actives are and information about them supposedly.  He is a solid guy and I hope everything works out for him.  
  Elder Hunter and I are doing great!  We love it here in Cleveland and are having fun!  Love yall and hope yall have a good week!
Elder Willden
Temple Trip to Houston this week.

Helped at a Nativity Christmas activity in Kingwood.

An old abandoned car wash.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Here is the last two weeks of emails from Elder Willden:

Elder Hunter and I had a good week!  We had Thanksgiving over at our ward mission leader's home the Roberts.  It was a good home cooked meal with lots of people.  Elder Hunter and I had a good time!  Holidays are weird on the mission though, so of course it was a little weird not being around y'all.  
On Monday night we saw Korina and she told us that she had received an answer from God that she needs to stay here in Cleveland and not go back to Oklahoma.  When her family came down for Thanksgiving her mom told her that she didn't have a choice and that she will be going back to Oklahoma.  So, she won't be getting baptized this month, but she comes back in January, so hopefully she will get baptized then.  
We have been working with Jamie a lot this week.  She has a lot of struggles, but she is doing well.  Right now we are working on getting her a solid testimony of the Book of Mormon.  
  We had to do a lot of finding this week, because the people we were teaching have either dropped us or we dropped them because they weren't ready yet.  We contacted a lot of people and did a lot of tracting and other activities to find people to teach.  Needless to say Elder Hunter and I are very exhausted, but somehow we just keep going. 
 On Friday we had District Meeting and I had a plan on what it needed to be throughout the week and on Friday morning as I was praying the Lord inspired me to change what I had planned.  All that he placed in my head was LOVE.  And, two hours before district meeting I researched everything I could about love and put together a lesson.  It was awesome.  For part of the meeting we read 1 Corinthians 13 and there were some amazing comments afterwards.  We all learned a lot and came away uplifted and inspired.  
  Overall, we had a fantastic week and Elder Hunter and I are doing great!  Love y'all and hope all is going well back at home!
Elder Willden

We were out tracting and there just so happened to be a huge Longhorn and he was right next to the fence so we went up and petted him.  He really liked Elder Hunter, but I am not sure he liked me very much.  He tried to wack me with his horns!  haha.

Elder Danielson and Elder Willden

Elder Galvez and Elder Willden

This week was a unique one and I will tell y'all why!  We received a text from the Media Referrals, someone was on and wanted a bible.  We called the number and he said that he would come up to our church to get it.  We set up an appointment on Sunday at 3 o'clock to give it to him.  We met up and we started talking and we taught him and a couple of his buddies a little bit.  While we were coming to a close they invited us to come to their church at 7 o'clock that night and told us that we would be able to preach.  We accepted the invitation.  We then called our ward mission leader and invited him to come with us.  We headed over to their church at 6:30.  We got there around 6:50 and it was a wear house and we noticed that it was a Pentecostal church :).  We entered in and there were only black people!  We were literally the only white people in the entire building.  As we entered in many people greeted us and thanked us for coming.  We were able to spend a few minutes speaking with the Pastor.  He was a good guy.  Then, they started the meeting.  The Pastor got up and he used the phrases Praise God, Hallelujah and Thank You Jesus like we use the words and, um, and like.  I heard those phrases so much they are officially ingrained into my head!  And they would just be yelling into the microphone while they were preaching! haha.  After a good 10-20 minutes of the Pastor Preaching he then had a bunch of kids come up and sing different songs and they had music blasting so loud you couldn't hear yourself think!  While they were singing there were people on the side speaking in tongues and acting all crazy, there was a little boy probably around 7 or 8 and he was way into it!  He clapped his hands so dramatically and just loved it!  He made me laugh a little bit.  Afterwards the Pastor asked me to come up and Preach.  It got extremely quite while I spoke, I talked about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and how it happened.  And, related it to them and how they can rely on the savior to heal them and to help them return to God.  And testified of the truthfulness of it.  The spirit was so strong, then they had a guy from their congregation Preach.  Then, the Pastor looked at Elder Hunter and said there is something special about him and he said that it is because he is serving the Lord and then the Pastor asked him to come up and Preach and he bore his testimony and then the Pastor had our Ward Mission Leader preach at the end.  And he talked about how there is truth in every church, and then told them about how he joined our church and how much it has blessed his life.  It was overall a crazy night!  It was quite the experience.  I realized that this was a direct result of the apostasy.  They know some truth, but there are little things the devil throws in to mess them up and throw them off the path.  I can't wait to tell yall more about what happened that night.  Guess yall will just have to find out January 7th.  After the meeting we were talking in the car and we felt like we did a lot of good.  Because now those people have questions about our beliefs, and hopefully they will act on that and research it.  
  We are having lots of success with Korina.  We received a text from her this week telling us how happy she is and how much she loves church.  She is keeping all of her commitments and will get baptized on December the 20th if she doesn't go out of town.  Jamie came to church this week!  She is planning on getting baptized December the 20th as well.  She is really progressing as she is keeping all of her commitments as well.  
  This Saturday our ward had a talent show and Elder Hunter and I were part of it.  Elder Hunter has just memorized the Joseph Smith Story so I gave the background and setting and he recited it for our talent.  It was really good.  Elder Hunter is a great missionary, he is progressing so quickly.  He is an awesome companion and we are just loving doing the work.  This week the man over the Missionary Department of the Church came to our mission.  His name is Brother Hemmingway.  He came on Thursday and all the leaders of the mission gathered together and were taught by him.  He taught us how to set goals and make plans.  He also taught us how to teach the Restoration in 10 minutes!  It was awesome!  He was a very intelligent man and knew almost everything there is to know about missionary work.  He pretty much came in and has refocused our mission on Planning.  I never really understood exactly how to do it, but when he explained it now I have no questions.  It also creates a focus on the people instead of our Key Indicators.  
  I love y'all and hope y'all have a fantastic week!
Elder Willden

Monday, November 17, 2014

Elder Hunter and I had a really awesome week and sad week.  I will start with the sad and get it over with.  We were able to meet with Thomas and we had an awesome lesson and he solidly committed to come to church.  On Sunday we were waiting for him and he never showed up so we texted him at the beginning of church asking him where he was and to make sure he was okay.  He texted us back saying that he was getting dressed this morning and ready to go when he received the answer that Joseph Smith was a false prophet and that he will be discontinuing our meetings, but he is going to continue reading the Book of Mormon to make sure that was the right answer.  Hopefully he will come along sometime in the future.  A member that we took with us to see him (Brother Parente) asked to have his phone number so he could call him.  Brother Parente called him and bore his testimony about the Book of Mormon and what we as missionaries shared with him and invited him to listen to the missionaries again.  Hopefully something works out with that.  We were just really sad to lose him.  Satan works in mysterious ways, but we are sure he will come around sometime.
  Now for the good news!  We went by and saw Korina on Friday night and she told us that she wants to start attending our church again and be a part of it.  Because she has been going and visiting other churches and she said that it just doesn't feel the same as when she comes to ours, she just feels good!  We are now going to continue our teaching with her and if she stays in town next month (She might be going to Oklahoma with her mom for a month) she will be baptized on the 20th of December.  She came to church on Sunday and is progressing very well.  It is amazing how the Gospel just makes you happy! 
 We are meeting with Jamie again.  She is so excited for a hopeful baptismal date on the 20th of December.  She is doing a lot better though, she didn't come to church this week because on Saturday night her daughter that she never gets to see was given permission to sleep over at her house and Jamie wanted to spend as much time with her as she could and they decided that they would just wait for next week to come to church.  So I will keep y'all updated on her!
  We were able to see Mathew as well this week and he is doing okay.  He expressed to us that he is so grateful that we were the missionaries that came by at this time and that we have helped him so much.  Hopefully we can continue to help him.  He said he was going to be at church today and never showed up so hopefully everything is alright with him.  We will see him again sometime this week and I will let y'all know what happened.  He is really smart though and just soaks up everything we teach him like a sponge.  He keeps telling us that he used to avoid Mormons and he would act like he wasn't home when we knocked on the door, but now he say's that we are ahead of the times.  Like we have so much knowledge and he just wants to learn more and more.  It's amazing how there is no limit to how much you can learn when it comes to the Restored Gospel.  
  We also had an awesome miracle this week!  We were going through some Former Investigators in our area book and found some people we wanted to try.  As we were going by and trying them there was a particular one that we knocked on the door and it was an older couple.  They told us that they had just moved in and that the people we were looking for just moved out.  They invited us in though and we had an awesome Gospel discussion.  We taught the Restoration in a format that I have never taught it in.  We started talking about Joseph Smith then it morphed into how God calls prophets and the how God loves us and we are his spirit children then to how Jesus Christ established a church and then to the Book of Mormon.  They were totally open and wanted to learn more.  A lot of their beliefs lined up exactly with what we believe.  We invited them to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it and also to read the Restoration Pamphlet.  They also expressed to us during our conversation that they were looking for a church because they just moved in, so we invited them to ours they said they would come when they can, but they couldn't come this week due to having Grand Children coming over.  We are really excited to work with them and we will be seeing them tonight with one of our members.  
  Elder Hunter and I are doing really well.  We working hard and having fun like usual.  I love y'all and hope that y'all have an awesome week!
Elder Willden

It is officially cold here.  It got way down in the 30's this past week brrrrrr.  Love you Mom!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Elder Hunter and I had a fantastic week this week!  We are having a good time going out and working and having fun together.  We were able to add a little bit to our teaching pool this week and missionary work here is moving forward.  We were able to teach Thomas Smith again this week and we invited him to be baptized and he willfully accepted the invitation.  He has been keeping his commitments and you can tell that he is a sincere seeker of the truth.  While we are able to discuss the gospel his eyes get all teary because of his solid testimony of the Savior.  He didn't live the best lifestyle throughout his life and has found the Savior and has gained a testimony of the happiness it brings to follow his teachings.  We were able to teach him the Plan of Salvation, the most profound message we have to bring to the world.  It was a very spiritual lesson and I was uplifted and edified from it as I think everyone who was there was.  We will be going back to see him tomorrow and will be following up with the commitments we have left in the last lesson as well as the baptismal date that we invited him to.  
  I was able to read a talk this week by David A. Bednar titled Bear Up Their Burdens With Ease.  It is a powerful talk and I learned something I personally thought was profound from it.  In his talk he talked about our own personal loads and how they help us to return to our Heavenly Father.  He then talked about Amulon and how he persecuted Alma and his people.  Alma and his people had done nothing wrong, yet they had been taken captive and placed very heavy burdens upon them.  He then talked about how we should pray for Help and Strength through our trials and yoke ourselves to the Savior so our burdens can be made light (not taken away).  We should not be praying for Heavenly Father to just take away our trials, because if we don't bear our own burdens and face them then we become agents that are acted upon, instead of agents that act.  I found that very profound that as we pray for the Father to strengthen us and comfort us that he will, and we will be able to overcome our problems and challenges.
  We were able to see Mathew this week and we set a return appointment and then he just disappeared.  We are worried about him because he doesn't live the best lifestyle and we aren't sure what happened to him.  Hopefully all is well and he just went out of town for a while.  We were also able to teach a lady named Jamie.  She was a Media Referral like Thomas.  Her husband is a member and was recently converted and she wasn't baptized because she is still smoking.  They recently moved down here from New York and she is really struggling.  We were able to teach them about the importance of scripture study and talked about baptism and she wants to get baptized so we will work on getting her there.  We were informed this Sunday that she was taken off to the Hospital for some psychiatric problems and hopefully she will be back soon so we can continue teaching her. 
  We were also able to teach a lady named Dena.  On Sunday we went by to see if her son was there because he had met with missionaries before and she was there and we started talking to her and she expressed a desire to go to church and to learn more and we invited her to listen to our message as she willingly accepted.  We were then able to teach her the Restoration and the lesson went great!  I personally feel that, that lesson was the best lesson Elder Hunter and I have taught yet!  The spirit was really strong as we were able to testify of the Restored Gospel on the Earth today.  I love how the Restoration flows and how it is so simple and easy to understand the importance of it and we talk about Christ's Church, the falling away, and the bringing back of it.  After the lesson we gave her our classic invitations and also invited her to read 3 Nephi 11.  We will also be going back to see her this Saturday and hopefully her husband will be there so we will be able to teach them as a family.
  I love y'all and hope y'all had a fantastic week as I did :D.  Have a great week this week and be safe!
Elder Willden
This is an old picture from Channel View, TX.  The fire chief let them play in his firetruck.

"Elder Hunter and I got some glasses to look professional so people will listen to us haha."

Monday, November 3, 2014

Elder Hunter and I had a fantastic week this week!  We had an experience yesterday that I will never forget.  We were going to teach Mathew and he lives fairly close to our apartment so we decided to walk over to his trailer and talk to anyone we saw on the way.  As we were walking there was an older guy on his front porch smoking a cigarette.  He was wearing an Alabama hat so we had an immediate conversation starter.  We began talking about Alabama how he has family there and I have family there as well.  The conversation morphed into what we share as missionaries.  As we were talking about prophets we then asked him the question, "If there was a guy on the earth right now like Moses would that be important to you?"  He immediately answered back, "Are yall Mormon?" We said yes and he told us that he doesn't believe in the Mormons.  We then asked him what he doesn't believe about us and he could only say I don't believe in the Mormons.  I was shocked at how someone could not know anything about our message and say that he doesn't believe in that.  As I reflected on it, I thought about it on the flip side, How many of us say I am a Mormon and don't know hardly anything about what we believe.  Back at home I had a very limited knowledge of what I believed.  I didn't know what the difference was from a Jehovah's Witness and a Catholic.  I didn't even know what the Restoration was.  I had seen the 20 min. movie, but I could not explain it.  I only knew the very simple and basics of what we are taught in church.  The reason for that is because I was not studying my scriptures daily and prayerfully.  I was crippled by my own lack of diligence.  It is so important that we don't cripple ourselves by allowing meaningless things to take up our time so that we don't allow the scriptures to be a part of our lives.  I love the scriptures, like Nephi I delight in them.  As I read I am uplifted and edified.  After reading my scriptures everyday I just feel happy.  Scriptures are the medicine for happiness as we apply the principals into our lives.  I know that as we read the scriptures that we can be free of the chains of the adversary and we will not be crippled.  When someone asks you what you believe your mouth will be filled and the spirit will testify to your words.  I invite everyone reading this email to make a personal commitment to start reading the scriptures daily and if you already are then to continue that pattern. 
  We were able to see Mathew a few times this week.  He is doing okay.  He has the mouth of a sailor, but we are going to work with him on that.  We are going to have to work pretty hard on him to get him ready, but he will get there.  We were teaching him about the Plan of Salvation and he was just loving it!  He loves the idea of the three different Kingdoms of Glory.  We also were talking about the importance of living what we know and why we can't just live in sin.  It was an interesting lesson, but a good one at that.
  We had an awesome miracle this week as well!  We received a Media Referral which comes from Salt Lake that some missionaries had ran into a guy that seemed really interested.  We went over to meet him, his name is Thomas.  As we pulled up to his house he was outside working on his yard.  We began talking to him and he was a really nice guy.  He asked us if we had a Book of Mormon that he could have to read.  We quickly gave him the one in our hand.  He was so grateful.  It was like we gave him the most precious gift anyone could give.  After we set up an appointment to come by on Saturday and left.  We went back and taught him the Restoration.  It was very spiritual and he just soaked all of it up.  After we asked him a question he told us that he has just been looking for truth and that's all he cares about.  He could care less what religion it is he is just looking for the truth.  We are very excited to continue to work with him.  
  We were also able to meet with Bino this week.  He didn't read what we committed him to so we read with him.  We talked about the Book of Mormon and about the importance of church.  It was a good lesson and we will be seeing him sometime this week and hopefully we can get him to church.  
  We also had stake conference this week.  They called a new Stake President and a new Counselor.  It was awesome.  There were two Seventies there and they both were able to speak.  One of them was Brother Corbridge.  He wrote a famous talk amongst missionaries called The Fourth Missionary.  It was a good conference and we all came away uplifted and edified.  We didn't have any of our investigators there because none of them wanted to drive from Cleveland to Kingwood to go to church.  
  I hope yall have a good week and have a good start to the Holidays:)
Elder Willden

These are pics of Elder Willden's and Elder Hunter's Halloween pumpkin carving this year:

This was an inside joke.  Every time Elder Hunter calls me dude I look over to the side and talk to my imaginary friend John and say, "Did you hear something John?  I think I did too."  

Monday, October 27, 2014

This week was a great week for Elder Hunter and I.  We were able to meet a lot of people!  We are starting to develop some good relationships with the members and the work is moving forward.  Cleveland is a really big area and we don't have much miles each month that we can use on the car, so we are going to have to figure out how we are going to work the area.  Elder Hunter is a good missionary we get along really well and are having fun!  On Saturday we received a text from Korina that she didn't want to meet with us anymore.  We tried figuring out her concern. Hopefully she will gain a desire to follow God's commandments sometime in the future and will turn back to the missionaries and take the lessons.  She was reading and praying and keeping all of the commitments we had left with her.  She even went to mutual.  Then, on Saturday it all went Kaboom.  The Lord will work on her though that's for sure.  We have been teaching this guy named Matthew though.  Matthew has been being taught by the missionaries for over a year now.  He has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith, but has never been to church or really changed his life too much with the knowledge he has gained.  He came to church this Sunday for the first time and really enjoyed it.  He said that he liked how he feels really comfortable there and that it is different from other churches because normally when you go to another church everyone is looking at you like, "why are you here?" and are judging you.  He also said that he likes how we stay calm during our meetings and we don't stand up and sit down all the time.  He overall just had a really good experience.  We are going to continue working with him and hopefully as time goes on we will be able to get him ready for baptism.  He has lived a rough life and has a few things to clean up so we will see what happens:).  
We had the coolest experience ever this past Thursday!  Every Hour of Power in this area we go on splits with the Spanish Missionaries so that if we knock into someone who speaks Spanish then the Elders can contact them.  I was with Elder Resseler and Elder Hunter was with Elder Gamez.  The place we were knocking was super country so the houses were spread apart.  The first house we went and knocked on the guy answers the door and he is Indian and immediately he lets us in.  I just kept having flash backs to when I was teaching Bunny the whole time.  He sat down and told us that he is Catholic, but he loves to hear new things and gain a broad knowledge of Jesus Christ.  He was raised in India and was also raised Christian.  He was telling us how the Hindu's and Muslim's really persecute Christians there.  He told us that he has a family back in India and he had to come here to work because in India the Christians always get the 2nd hand jobs.  We were able to teach him the Restoration.  He soaked it all up.  We were able to set a return appointment with him and will be going back on Tuesday.  His name is Bino, I was impressed that I came here to meet this guy so hopefully everything works out!  He has that classic Indian accent and definitely looks Indian.  He told us that he would make us some food and that the food they eat in his part of India is different from Bunny's so I am excited to try it out.  
After we tracted into Bino and taught him Elder Hunter and I went to dinner with our ward mission leader, Bro. Roberts.  He smoked some more wild hog and made this really good Southern Texas meal.  It was delicious!  After dinner he took us out to his barn where he has tons of goats and fed them.  After we walked out of the barn there was a fence on our left and I looked over at the fence and I just saw two huge horns!  It was the Biggest Texas Longhorn I have ever seen!  It made me jump a little bit.  He got some feed for it and went into the fence and poured a massive bucket full of feed for it.  He also told us that the had a pet Buck and some Deer.  But, the Buck wouldn't come over to where we could see it.  It was an awesome experience.  They also invited us over for Thanksgiving if they are home, so we are crossing our fingers that they will be there!  
This week in my studies I have been reading a chapter a day out of the Book of Mormon and in 2 Nephi 5:27 it says, "And it came to pass that we lived after the manner of happiness." I thought that was really profound that Nephi added that in there.  That there is a way to live to be happy.  I know that as we live the Gospel and as we attend the temple regularly that we will be happy!  Also, this Sunday Elder Hunter and I were both given sometime to introduce ourselves to the ward and basically say whatever we would like to.  I told the story of when I was teaching Luke's Sunday School Class and we were in Primary and the kid who was supposed to give the spiritual thought wasn't there and Luke volunteered to give it.  And, when he got up there with my scriptures he flipped to Moroni chapter 10:5 and read it and bore testimony of it.  I then testified that it is true that by the Power of the Holy Ghost we can know the truth of all things.  And I also talked about the sacrament and related the Holy Ghost to the Sacrament.  It was a really good experience being able to speak in front of people just off a whim.  
We had a fun week going out and meeting people and looking for the elect.  I hope y'all had a good week and that y'all will have another good week this week!  Elder Hunter and I will continue to work hard and have fun!  Love y'all!
Elder Willden

in the middle of no where in Cleveland, TX

Monday, October 20, 2014

This letter came today from Chase's previous companion.  Of course, I cried:)

Hey Mom!!!!!

How are you doing?! I feel as if I haven't heard from you, it's been a while. Especially since Chase is no longer my companion but you know what?! He's still my brother and I love him! 

I want to thank you for the amazing birthday package I received last month. I shared it with the entire zone! You must forgive me for thanking you so late. I'm slowly getting out of the habit of procrastinating. hehehe I promise that I don't do the same with missionary work! =)

Chase and I had our last(Hopefully not, because there are still two other young adults that we've thought together that will eventually be baptized.) celebration as Carisil Lumapas shared he testimony at her baptismal service. The spirit was so strong and so many non-members were there which is great!

I don't know if Chase told you but I get super anxious, stressed, and nervous, when planning an event because I want everything to go perfectly according to plan. hahaha It turned out to be amazing!

I know for a fact that last night Chase and I were reminded to cherish forever the experiences we've had while serving the YSA branch! We were surrounded by so many people we loved.

Thank you so much mom for everything you've done and do for us! I love you! Elder Sully Guerrier =)   

Happy Birthday BAILEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   You are officially 18 olds!  And thank you mom for the money I would be starving without you :D


I am now in Cleveland, Texas.  It is just like Kountze.  We are basically in the middle of nowhere.  We drive a truck and there are a lot of humble country people.  My new companion is Elder Hunter.  He is from Provo, Utah and has been out for 1 week in the field now!  It has been crazy trying to get to know the area and go out and meet people.  It puts being outgoing to the next level!  From what he was telling me, Brandon Davies from the BYU Basketball team grew up for some of his life in his home.  Elder Hunter graduated this year and he played soccer throughout all of his high school career.  He is a good, hard working missionary and we will have a good two transfers together!  
When we first got here to Cleveland we were so lost!  The GPS was a life saver and even with it, it is not always correct.  But, we managed to make it through the week and meet a lot of people.  Don't ask me what their names were again because I couldn't tell you, but that will come over time.  On Wednesday we were able to meet our ward mission leader.  He lives way out in the middle of nowhere and has a lot of land.  His name is Brother Roberts.  He went to BYU and was very good at shotputting and supposedly holds a record there and here in Cleveland.  Everyone knows him and respects him; so he is a great tool for missionary work.  But, while we were there he gave us some of the wild hog jerky that he had from one of the pigs he decided to shoot cause it was in his yard either this week or last week.  It was okay, but at least I can say I have had wild hog now!  All the people in the ward on Sunday warned us that you never know what you are going to eat when you go to the Roberts; so I am excited to have a meal with them this week!
  As Elder Hunter and I were going to throw away all of the junk mail that we receive every week we stopped and talked to a girl on the way.  She asked us a question she said, "Why do people hate Mormons so much?"  We were then able to answer her question by teaching her the Joseph Smith Story.  It was really awesome and she was really interested in learning more, so we set up an appointment for the following day.  We went back by and were able to teach her the Restoration in its entirety and it was a great lesson we then committed her to read 3 Nephi 11, be baptized, and to come to church.  It took a while to get her to commit to it, but we were able to.  By the way her name it Korina.  Later that day we received a text from her saying that she was able to understand it and that it was really good!  Then, Sunday she came to church and really enjoyed it.  After church we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon with her and part of 1 Nephi 1.  She is progressing so fast!  Now I will tell you the back story on her.  She is from Oklahoma.  Her mom brought her down to Houston to live with her mom's boyfriend.  It didn't work out and her mom went back to Oklahoma while Korina just stayed here with her Aunt and Uncle that she doesn't really know.  She is only 16 and she just sits at home everyday and isn't really doing anything with her life at the moment.  But, the Gospel will help with that.  We were also able to commit her to be baptized on 15th of November, so we will see how it all works out.
  Other than that, we haven't really had many people to teach because the Elders just baptized the few people they were teaching; so we are working on building up a teaching pool which should be easy to do considering the fact that there are a lot of nice people here that are willing to spend a few minutes to learn about Jesus Christ.  We also met another guy this week who came to church, but wasn't interested in taking the lessons.  His name is Ronnie.  He is an older guy and this guy loves Jesus.  He invited us into his home and I have never seen more crosses on a wall than this guy had.  His house was kind of a mess though and he offered us some water so we took it.  We watched him take out the ice with his hands that were all grimy and set it on his semi-clean counter then proceeded to grab the cups and set held them at the side of the counter while he moved the ice over the semi-clean counter into the cup.  It was sick!!!!  And, he filled them up with water and handed them to us.  Both of us only took one sip haha.  I couldn't take it!!!!  But, we had a good conversation about Jesus then he tried to show us that we can't have anymore of God's word (about the Book of Mormon), but also tried to say that we could receive revelation.  It was really frustrating because he didn't even know what he was talking about so we couldn't have a good conversation about the scriptures.  Then, he told us that he wasn't interested in learning more, but would come to church and we just closed with a prayer and left.  Its interesting because after this was when we talked to Korina.  He actually showed up to church though and said that he enjoyed it.  He was an interesting guy.
Overall I am doing great.  I love this area and I love this ward!  The ward is amazing!  They are so loving and caring and they look to help the missionaries.  I love y'all and hope that Bailee has a fantastic Birthday week!  And that we all have a fun safe week!  Love y'all!
Elder Willden