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