Monday, September 29, 2014

We were able to go on two exchanges this week.  One was on Tuesday and I was able to be with Elder Larsen who has just got out on his mission.  It was really fun to work with him and see the amazing testimony of new missionaries.  He is also a Spanish missionary so I am sure he enjoyed getting away from Spanish for a day.  We were also able to do another exchange on Saturday and I was able to go with Elder Rust who was in my first Zone in Baytown.  It was really fun, and that is where we took the picture of the church with the painting on the side of it.  I was able to learn so much from these exchanges.  After the exchange on Saturday night I was pondering leadership and I realized something....  That Ammon went into the land of the Lamanites not to chastise them for their unbelief, but to serve and when the opportunity would come, to teach them.  I feel that, that is so important, that we as leaders need to first serve and love those we are over and when they come asking us questions or anything in those types of matters then we teach them and help them understand the greater light and truth.  I love the scriptures and how they relate to every situation in life.  
  Ken Jones is doing fantastic.  He was confirmed on Sunday and after church he was interviewed by the bishop and will be on the fast track to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and will be receiving a calling quickly.  He and his wife will start feeding us hopefully every week so we are excited for that! :)  His wife has started talking to us more often and hopefully from feeding us she will become open to listen to our message.  Ken will be receiving the Aaronic Priesthood though the week after next because this week we have General Conference (which I am stoked for) and the week after we have Stake Conference.  Ken continues to progress leaps and bounds and will be a great asset for the church. 
  Andy and Jamie weren't able to make it to church this Sunday due to Jamie's Dad coming down to help them out with something.  Also this week they didn't have money for the light bill and supposedly there electricity was turned off.  Hopefully everything has worked out for them in that regard.  Andy has been reading a lot about his Priesthood and studying it.  Jamie said he has been changing a lot in the past week!  Over all they are doing well and the ward is taking care of them.  
  We haven't heard from Erika yet.  She wasn't able to talk to her parents on Sunday night because they got home late and were tired, but she told us after our lesson on Friday that she would be talking to them about it that night, so when we meet with her this week I will let y'all know how it went.  She continues to read and pray and keep all of her commitments with the exception of coming to church due to her situation.  I will keep y'all updated on her though.
  Carisil is doing GREAT!  She read 1 Nephi chapter 3 and learned a lot from it and we were able to teach her the Plan of Salvation.  She is really putting an effort in coming to know if what we are teaching her is true.  We will continue to work with her and I know that if she keeps this up she will be baptized on the 12th of October.  
  Yesterday as we were driving back towards our area coming from the church we decided to try by Dante's.  If y'all remember him Elder Hoyt and I taught him way back when.  But, we stopped by and he had a few of his siblings over and we had a little discussion with them and we taught them about the Atonement.  We went through the whole process of how Christ did it.  Afterwards they had lots of questions about the Sacrament and etc...  It was so powerful.  The spirit was so strong in the room that you could cut it with a knife.  It was amazing.  When that happens I feel that our mouths are being filled and the words coming out of our mouths are the spirits.  
  I am doing really well.  I continue to survive and Elder Sully and I have a really good, fun time together.  I love y'all and would invite every single person who reads my email today to read through the last and greatest thing Christ has done for us in Mathew chapters 26-27.  And after you read those two chapters to get down on your knees and thank our Father in Heaven for sending his only begotten son to save us from our sins.  I love y'all and hope y'all have a great week this week!
Elder Willden 

Painting on church in Houston area

Elder Willden cooking hamburgers

p-day kite flying and soccer game

Monday, September 22, 2014

**Tell Tayson Congratulations for me.  And chastise Dalton and Cayman and Tayson for not emailing me!  haha.

In the middle of the picture of Ken Jones's baptism is Bishop Love (who baptized him)
Ken Jones's baptism

Ken is a Kung Foo Master

These are some crazy looking mushrooms growing outside of the church

At church I let Andy and Jamie's kids draw on my whiteboard and Jamie helped them draw this haha

Elder Sully and I had a fantastic week.  Ken Jones was able to be baptized and Andy Ramirez was able to receive the Priesthood and will be baptizing their son AJ in October.  With Jamie and Andy's problem last week, I was really bugged at why every single time Andy and Jamie take a good step, it seems like they just get knocked down.  While we were at church this Sunday we were able to talk about them with the ward.  The ward has really been able to step in and gain their trust.  They were able to provide them a washer and dryer, and they were also able to help in transportation.  Andy and Jamie have really been able to bond with the ward.  And I realized that these things happened to them, so that they could form relationships with the ward members.  It was a very humbling experience for me and helped me realize that my ways are not greater than God's ways and that as we continue to push forward that we will be shaped and molded into the men that God wants us to be.  Throughout this past week I have been reflecting on my mission.  The ups, the downs and the things I have learned.  I never knew that this is what it would be like, or who I would become.  But, I know that if I hadn't chosen to serve a mission, I would have had to learn these things the hard way and over a long period of time.  I love the Lord and will thank him everyday for him choosing me to be one of his servants. 
  Ken's baptism was fantastic.  While we were filling up the font Ken walked up to me and he said, "I feel like I am about to die."  We were able to talk about baptism a little more deeply and talk about the Apostle Paul's explanation of baptism.  That we we are baptized we die as to our old selves and bury it away and we rise up a new man with Christ.  It was an amazing conversation.  Afterwards we were able to go take the picture y'all saw and we started the program, we had two talks, one on baptism and one on confirmation.  Then, there was a special musical number done by the missionaries and while they were singing I went and changed into whites, because Ken is so big that he needed a spotter in case Bishop wouldn't be able to pull him up.  He was baptized and after the baptism when they shut the curtains or whatever they call them, Ken just stood there and told Bishop and I that it was so easy and he felt wonderful and saved.  Ken's wife was also there (she has never met with us because she hasn't wanted to), but she was touched by the spirit, because she was crying during some of the talks and the hymns.  Hopefully we will be able to teach her and bring her into the fold as well.  But overall the baptism was a definite success.  
  We have still been working with Erika.  She wants to come to church and get baptized so bad, but her parents are totally against it.  She told us this Sunday that her parents rejected her request to come to church again and that she was going to have a discussion with them later that night, so I will fill y'all in on the details with how everything went.  We definitely don't want to go against her parents will though, so we will see what happens.  We were able to teach her the 10 commandments though with all the signs.  It was a good lesson and she continues to progress.
  We have also still been working with Carisil.  Carisil is doing fantastic.  We invited her to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon and she had a dream!  She comes to church every Sunday and is keeping all of her commitments.  She was also able to come to Ken Jones's Baptism.  It was a good experience for her.  Elder Sully was with them for most of the time since I was spotting and this is what he told me that she said.  She was just so confused at why the Catholic church had her baptized while she was a baby and she said that she feels like that wasn't even her decision.  She is also excited for her baptismal date which will be for the 12th of October.  
  Elder Sully and I have been really blessed to be able to work with all of these people who continue to progress and want to learn more.  The Lord is truly hastening his work.  This morning in my studies I really wanted to learn a lot.  So, I prayed fervently and asked Heavenly Father to enlighten my mind.   I was able to read Moroni chapters 6 and 7.  Chapter 6 is a powerful chapter where Moroni explains the mode of Baptism and Joining the church and he talks about how the church should be run.  I love how in verse 9 that it says that the meetings should be run by the workings of the spirit.  I also loved Chapter 7 where Moroni writes down the words of Mormon.  Mormon was a powerful teacher.  I love how he explains that if there are no miracles performed then it is because you have no faith and if you have no faith then you're basically in trouble.  I also loved how he explained that If we will have faith then we will have hope, then he tells us what we should have hope in verse 41.  Then, he explained that if you have faith and hope you will be meek and if you are meek then you will have charity and I love how he says that those who are filled with this love are true followers of Jesus Christ.  Let us all be true followers of Christ having faith to perform miracles, filled with Hope of eternal life, having meekness and recognizing who provides all, and having Charity towards all of our Father in Heavens children.  I love y'all and hope y'all have a great week!
Elder Willden

Monday, September 15, 2014

Elder Sully and I had Zone Meeting this week and we dressed up for a part in it that I will describe to y'all in the email.

We had Zone Meeting this week and for Zone Meeting we decided to focus on the New Mission Standards that we came up with in MLC on tuesday and to set some Zone Standards and to bring unity to the Zone because there are a lot of new missionaries.  We had an activity where we had sticky notes with a missionaries name on each one.  And we had each missionary come up and grab a sticky note and they would have to act out that person.  It was so great and it created a feel of bonding within the zone.  Afterwards we had an awesome activity.  So what we did is we set up a room with chairs like it was an airplane and we had airplane noises.  And, we created a bunch of tickets, and each missionary grabbed a ticket.  Elder Sully and I dressed up and we made it like they had just gotten on a plane and the plane was taking off.  Then, the plane had its engines go out and we crashed.  And, in a sense every missionary died.  On their ticket it had an A or B.  If they had an A they went to spirit paradise, if they had a B they went to spirit prison.  Elder Sully and I were the teachers in spirit prison and we had a good discussion on our new zone standards, while we had some sisters who are leaders talk to the missionaries in spirit paradise about the same things.  After that we took all of the missionaries to Judgement.  We had each missionary bring their area books and we made them think about how they were doing and if they were doing all that they could.  Then, we had them look on their ticket and it had either a 1, 2, or 3.  If they had a 1 they went to the Celestial Kingdom, if they had a 2 they went to the Terrestrial Kingdom, and if they had a 3 they went to the Telestial Kingdom.  I was able to speak to the missionaries who went to the Telestial Kingdom and we had a good discussion on a few of the mission standards while the other groups went over the other standards for the mission.  After that we all came together and talked about what the other groups talked about and had a solid discussion.  It was a really good meeting and the missionaries seemed to enjoy it and learned lots!

  Andy was able to get Confirmed this Sunday.  They were doing great!  Jamie got sick though and they had to leave church early when Andy was supposed to receive the Priesthood yesterday, so they will have to do it next week.  Earlier today we received a text from them that their car got repossessed.  So, we called them and Andy wasn't able to go to work due to not having a ride and they are just sitting at home right now.  I am so worried about them.  Satan has attacked them hard.  They have no money to get their car back and they don't know what to do.  We called their home teacher and let him know, so hopefully the ward will do something to help them or the Lord will provide a miracle.  It seems like every time they get up on their feet, they keep getting knocked down.  I know that this will strengthen them, they just need to keep pushing forward.  

  Ken Jones came to church this Sunday and is super pumped to get Baptized this coming Sunday.  He has progressed so much.  We had to do the stop smoking program with him last night so that he can be baptized this coming Sunday and he was all for it, and simply said that he just has to do it.  We will be finishing all of the lessons with him Wednesday and he will have his interview that night.  I have never had an Investigator progress so quickly.  He was totally prepared by the hand of God.  He has been telling us lately how much he wants to help out in the church and how he wants a calling to work for the Bishop kind of like his Secretary or something haha.  We are really excited for him and his decision to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ.  
  So we have been working with Erika on getting baptized on the 21st and as she was going to come to church this Sunday she broke it to her parents that she wants to get baptized into our church.  Her parents freaked out and she wasn't able to come to church.  We are going to have to set up an appointment with her and see what we are going to be able to do with her whole parent situation.  We think her parents were letting her meet with us and everything just because she wanted to explore and get to know other faiths, but they didn't think she would actually want to get baptized, so we are going to have to work out all of those details this week.  
  We also are now teaching another YSA named Carisil.  One of our members invited us to come over to his home to teach her.  She is catholic, but she has some friends that are part of our church so she started going to YSA activities then she decided to start going to church and now she is meeting with us:).  We were able to teach her part of the Restoration.  It was great because every time she had a question she would just ask.  We had a great lesson with her and will be teaching her again tonight and will be inviting her to be baptized so this should be exciting!  
  Right now we are getting a larger teaching pool and they are all people that have a great potential to be baptized.  The Lord has blessed us so much lately.  Thank you for all of your prayers, they are truly bringing people who are prepared into our paths.  Missionary work is the best!  I love y'all and hope all is going well back at home.  
Elder Willden

Monday, September 8, 2014

Andy's Baptism was Amazing!  Andy was so excited to get baptized.  Now they are planning on getting him the Aaronic Priesthood so he can baptize his 8 year old son AJ.  Now we are also planning out a temple trip for Jamie and Andy to go do baptisms for the dead in November.  They are such a great family and will be great additions to the Church.  

Elder Sully and I had a great week this week!  He is a great missionary and we work well together.  He speaks 4 different languages French, Creole, Spanish, and English.  French sounds pretty sweet.  He has been out for 18 months now. 

 We had a really good week missionary work wise!  There was a member in our YSA Branch that referred us to teach one of his friends named Erika.  We have been making a lot of progress with her as she has been reading and keeping almost all of her commitments.  We committed her to be baptized on the 21st of this month, but we are not sure if she will be able to make that date because she might be going on vacation with her parents.  So, I will let y'all know when she plans on getting baptized.  When we taught her the Restoration the first time we met her, the spirit was so strong!  It was an amazing lesson and the spirit obviously touched her because she has been doing most everything we ask her to do.  The Restoration is the best lesson ever.  If you want to feel the spirit, talk about Jesus Christ's Earthly Ministry and Atonement, The Great Apostasy, and The Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  

  We have also been working with Ken Jones a lot.  He has now read to D&C 84.  He was reading scriptures out of D&C and correlating them with the bible.  It was sweet.  We continue to make good progress with him.  His friend wasn't able to make it down this week, but will be coming soon.  He didn't make it to church this Sunday because something came up with his wife.  I have never taught anyone like him though.  He just has soaked everything up like a sponge. 
  This week I got sick and was out teaching people with the low raspy voice of a cold.  It hit me pretty hard on Saturday, but we just pushed through it and I feel a lot better now.  It's funny though, because on Sunday I was still sick, and I got up to bear my testimony at YSA.  I don't remember anything I said.   My companion told me that it was good, but who knows? haha.  What I do remember is that I tried to correlate wake boarding to always holding on to the Savior and putting our faith in Him.  In a way, when you first get up and you are holding the rope, if you try to pull yourself up you face plant.  You have to hold on and allow the Savior to lift you up.  Anyways, who knows how it went haha. 
  We were also able to see Brother Duncon this week.  He continues to read from the Book of Mormon daily and has been taking notes as he reads.  He is making great progress.  His wife got up this Sunday and bore her testimony on the change of her husband's heart and thanked us missionaries for being consistent with him.  He is definitely changing and we can see that in the way he acts in lessons.  He has gotten less and less contentious.  I love the Gospel and the changes it makes in our lives.  It has had a huge impact on me and my life.  

Recently, I have been praying for the Gift of Charity.  It can be hard sometimes to put others before yourself, but I am learning and growing as I seek to follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ who always turned outward instead of inward.  I have realized that Mom and Dad have that down very well.  They always think of what they can do for us as kids before they ever think of themselves.  For instance, Mom drives y'all around everywhere, cleans the house and does so many things for us as her children... I can't even count.  And, Dad goes to work all day and comes home and teaches us as kids, coaches our football teams, and he is always wearing his old worn out clothes.  I have always respected you Mom and Dad and will never forget your examples.  
Love your son, brother, and friend,
Elder Willden

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Sorry the library was closed yesterday, so I was not able to email y'all.  But, I now have a new companion his name is Elder Sully Guerrier  he is from Haiti.  He was a spanish missionary, but is now English, seeing that he is my companion.  

This last week was an eventful one.  I was really sad that Elder Poteki is going home.  We have really grown a great relationship and I am going to miss that big guy.  Andy got approved to be baptized and will be getting baptized this Sunday, from what we have planned.  I love that family so much and am extremely excited to see him get baptized.   
If you remember I mentioned Ken Jones a little bit in my last email.  Ken Jones has now read the entire Book of Mormon twice!  He also was talking to us and started quoting scriptures and explaining why they were important to him.  He named off Moroni chapter 10 verses 4-5 and told us that he has experienced that now!  And, that he wants more of God's word basically.  So, we have a quad for him that we will be giving to him today or tomorrow.  He will be coming to church this week with his friend and will be baptized soon.  He has progressed so fast, I have never seen anything like this.  He just continues to learn and learn and just loves it.  I guess he really understands the principle of feasting on the words of Christ.  We are excited for him though and excited for all the help he will bring to our ward. 
We also started teaching someone new for YSA her name is Alex.  She has been taught all the lessons by another set of missionaries, but she wanted to go to the YSA branch so she has been passed off to us and we will be teaching her from now on.  I don't know much about her, so when I do I will fill y'all in.  
This week I have been reading in the Book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon.  Mormon was an amazing man, he was raised in a terrible setting, was taught truths, and lived the truths he was taught.  Even though he was literally standing alone.   I love his example of patience and love as he is always looking for ways to help his people.  I found it interesting though that the people deliberately disobeyed God.  And, that no matter what trial God placed before them they still were not willing to turn back to him and repent of their sins.  They gave no credit to God and disregarded his commandments.  Unlike the repentant Nephites before the time of Christ these people delighted in sin and mourned when they saw that God would not allow it. 

 I think that sometimes we all can be very repentant after a humbling experience and that sometimes we will harden our hearts and disregard the things that God has asked us to do in our lives.  I know that if we will be repentant and seek to change that we will be free and if we seek to gratify our own pride and ambitions that we will be chained up to a point where progression can not be made.  I love our Savior who is so forgiving and loving and who makes us free as we accept him and the sacrifice he has made.  I love y'all and hope that y'all have a great week!  I will be striving to repent and respond to the letters y'all sent me... sorry about that...  
Elder Willden