Monday, December 17, 2012

Craxy week!

Well it sure has been a crazy week here in Centreville! With it being the week leading up to transfers and getting close to Christmas there has been a lot of stuff out of the ordinary going on haha. We had that Conference Monday I mentioned in my last email and then we had that day of driving around to various doctors appointments and then we had our Wednesday P-day that I sent my email on. Then Thursday was a good solid day of normal missionary life, which was awesome haha. But then Friday morning was our mission wide Christmas Party, it was really sweet! We had a lot of good food and a really good talent show, it turns out we have a lot or musically talented missionaries here in our mission! That was fun getting to see everyone again. It's not often that all of our mission gets together for things, usually its just a part of it that gets together, so it was really great to have all of us missionaries in one spot. After the Christmas party we went with our Zone Leaders to pick up our mission shirts for this year and they are really cool too. Then Saturday was our wards Christmas Party and it was alot of fun, mostly because of how many non-members were there haha. That was really great. There were a few people we have been teaching that were there and then lots of people who had brought their non-member friends that we got to talk to. A few of the ward members also put on the play Scrooge and did a really good job. This week is a very very stressful week though because it's transfer week and I really don't want to leave here but I'm pretty sure I am :/ I feel like this has kinda been a short email but I don't really have too much I can talk about this week because of how late in the week my last email was haha. It was a good week here in Centreville though, just a crazy one haha. I hope everyone is having a great week back home wherever you are though! Hopefully my next email will come from Centreville still! I love and miss you guys lots!

What a week! 12/12 email

Well it sure has been a crazy week here in Cenreville! But everything is really going great! This week our P-day got moved to today because Elder Packer of the 70 came and spoke to the whole mission Monday morning and man was it awesome! It went really really long though haha, we were there at the chapel for 6 and a half hours. He shared some rally great things wih us hough and promisd us los of blessings for working as hard as we can. So just a quick note just in case you noticed haha my typing isn't the best today. We have a third computer in our computer lab that we have to us when the oher ones are in use and it's keyboard doesnt really work how it should haha so it is really frstrating to ry ad get it to type, basically the buttons are all broken from people pressing them too hard so now sometimes they work and sometimes they don't. So at random points in the email today you'll probably notice I'm missing lots of letters haha. So because of the conference on monda our p-day would have been movd to yesterday but Elder Skinner had a fw doctors apointments he had to get to that were way down in Fredricksburg where his las area was at, which is close o a two hour drive haha so we spent the whole day yesterday in the car oing to those and got permission to take our p-day today instead haha. This past week I was really excited to get a whole bunch of packages in a row! I got 2 from my Family, one from my Grandparents, and 2 for some stuff I ordered off all in a period of 5 days haha it was awesome! So thank you to all those who have sent me ackaes this past week! We had a few really great lessons his past week as well. We had one on Wednesday with a lady we are teaching that wants to stop smoking, so we taught her about this plan that missionaies use that can get anyone to stop wanting to smoke for good after just 7 days, so far it's worked awesome! We have been calling her every night since we taught her the lesson and she has stayed smoke free all 6 days! If she does everything the program asks her to do today too she should be completely smoke free! We are really excited about that and will be having a paty for her tomorrow night o celebrate. We also had a great lesson with our Korean investigator who is the best friend of the Bishops son here in our ward and he is set and excited to be Baptized on the 24th! We finished reviewing everthing he needs to know to be ready for the 24th and man he is stoked! His friend will e the one doing the baptism too so it should be an awesome experince all around. This past week we have also had some major bike trouble too though unfortunately. Elder Skinner broke his rear derailleur and derailleur hanger, which the derailleur can just be bought from any old bike shop but the hanger has to be special ordered. So we have been borrowing the Sister's bike since tuesday haha. Since Elder Skinner unsed to downhill race back home e likes to take his bike off any jump he sees on our way to our appointments haha and e can't really do that on the Sister's bike because it's completel rigid (no suspension) so I let him ride mine while I used the Sister's and he ended up getting a flat on my back tire with a pretty good sized chunk of rusty metal then after we patched i up and got it back together we noticed that my back brake caliper is broke and doesn't stop he bike anymore... so I've got to go buy one of those at the bike shop today so I can have more than just my front brakes haha. Neither of those breaks were his fault though they were both just chance haha. So a lot of the P-day oday will be spent doing some bike repairs haha. It was a great wek here though! Our weather is cooling down, which I'm super excited about haha, and hopefully we will get some snow soon! Well that's about it for this week, I hope everyone has had a grat week wherever you are! I love and iss you guys lots!

Monday, December 3, 2012

A Great Week Here in Centreville 1st!

We sure have had a great week here in Centreville! We had a lot of great lessons and some great progress with a woman we have been teaching for a long time now! She and 4 other people we are teaching all came to church this Sunday, it was awesome! We think that she'll understand what we are talking about a lot better now that she's been to church before, it was her first time coming. I got put in charge of entertaining her two kids so that she could listen to the speakers. One little boy who is 4 years old and all over the place, I probably looked at every picture in my Gospel Principles book with him 2 or 3 times by the end of sacrament meeting haha. By the end of it he started to figure out which one Jesus was in each of the pictures, which made his Mom really happy haha. The other was a little 7 year old girl who was much easier to keep busy because she appears to have a crush on me haha, so all I had to do was give her my study journal to draw pictures and let her lean on my arm the whole time haha. We think it really helped the woman we were teaching focus on the people speaking, she really seemed to enjoy it. Hopefully they make it back next week! We also started teaching a few new people this week, which is always good news haha, one is the boyfriend of a member who has just recently started coming to church and the other is an 18 year old boy who is the friend of a family in the ward. Both first lessons with each of them this week went great. We're really looking forward to teaching them some more. Something else cool that happened this past week though that I always enjoy is I got to go on an exchange over to the Spanish Elders' area again this Friday and Saturday. That was now my third exchange with the Spanish Elders here so I'm getting a little better at sharing the Gospel in Spanish but still not too much better haha. I was able to bear testimony in Spanish though at our lesson Friday night, Elder Ursenbach (my temporary Spanish companion for the exchange) was teaching them about what sounded like the Law of Chastity because I had heard them use the word "Fornacacion" a few times haha, so we were reading a few scriptures with the couple from the book of Mormon about it and I was able to say afterwards in my not so great Spanish "Yo se este Libro es la Palabra de Dios y es verdad, es por Usted y por Usted y es verdad" Which translates to "I know that this book is the Word of God and it's true, it's for you (looking at the one) and for you (looking at the other) and it is true." It was a very cool experience and I'm pretty sure that because of that they both thought that I could speak Spanish because they asked me to say the closing prayer, which I definitely don't know how to do in Spanish haha so I had to ask them if it was okay if I said it in English, which they said was fine haha. Then the next morning I was able to give out a Book of Mormon in Spanish too, which was a lot easier haha just "Quire este Libro?" or "Do you want this Book?" haha. It was a fun exchange though. Well that's about it for this week! I hope everyone is having a great week back home wherever you are! I love and miss all of you!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Man it is cold!

Well it sure has gotten very very cold this past week! Especially this past couple of days! It has been low 40's for the high this weekend and looks like it should stay that way throughout the week haha. I'll personally take it over being really hot and sweaty but man some of these bike rides home at night have been like 26 degrees and man are they freezing! We had a great thanksgiving week here though! We had a few really good lessons with some of our progressing investigators and had a single woman bring her non-member friend to church yesterday who said he would love for us to come teach him at his house this week. Way cool! The area just seems to be getting better and better each week. I wish I could stay here the rest of my mission! haha. Thanksgiving day was really great though. I ate until I couldn't eat anymore, then kept eating! We had our first meal at a members home at 2 o clock and were planning to eat later that night with our investigator at 7 o clock. The dinner at the members home was amazing! She made the sweet potato souffle and man it was way good! I ate a bunch of servings of that haha. Then we had some really good stuffing and turkey and potatoes, all the good old traditional thanksgiving food (which I stuffed myself on). Then she brought our desert, which I didn't know we were having so I was already full haha, which was 4 different pies: a banana creme (my favorite), pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pecan pie. They were so good! Even though I was full I managed to squeeze down a couple of good sized slices haha. So we figured we would have a good amount of time to go bike to a few peoples homes and let the food settle a bit so we would have room to eat again at 7... but we got a text from our investigator a little before 5:30 saying dinner was ready early and we should come over! Oh man did we panic haha. So we went over to their house and even though we were stuffed beyond belief, we somehow managed to eat a full helping there too and some desert. I was probably the fullest I've been in my whole life haha. It was a great day! Unfortunately though because of the holiday almost everyone was out of town, most of the members and a lot of our investigators, so we had a hard time finding people to meet with and it made for a really slow week, but still a good one! The new Sister in our district to take the place of the Temple Square Sister who just went back to her mission, is Sister Evans, who we don't know very much about yet but we are glad to welcome her to our district! So overall it was a really good week here! It's definitely time to bust out the winter gear! I hope everyone has had a great thanksgiving week wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Email to Mom 11/20

Hey Mom!
Thank you guys so much for the package! I got it just last night and it was such a sweet surprise! I had no idea that all my favorite snacks just happen to be fall colors haha I'm really glad that worked out the way it did because it's full of all stuff I love :) No snow here as of yet but hopefully soon! Elder Skinner is a great guy, he's taught me lots of new tricks on the bike haha, me and him get along great because we have a very similar sense of humor. He is a little green around the edges but that is by no means a bad thing haha. We were reading in the missionary handbook the other day and it said that we have to be sure to not much personal information like the names of our investigators publicly known so I've got to start being a little more cautious about putting that kind of stuff into my mass emails that go up on the blog and just keep the names and details to you in personal emails haha :) The husband and wife we are teaching in the Sisters area now are named Katy and Marvin and man they are sweet! I got to impress them with my Spanish a little bit because they are south american haha. We got to have some fun demonstrating all the different people and languages we run into here too haha I know just a few words in each of: Spanish, Twi, Creol, Hindi, Punjabi, Korean, German, and Chinese haha. Mostly just how to say hello and strike people's interest in talking to us but still it's cool to be in one of the most diverse places in the world :) Michelle told me a bit about Pa's surgery too, I'm glad to hear he's recovering well! I'm very jealous that you guys get to go up there for thanksgiving though haha. Especially about the pies, they sound awesome! I have never heard of banoffee pie but it sounds incredible! As far as Christmas stuff goes I'm not really sure haha. I am definately in need of more socks, all of mine have holes now haha, and little fun things to play with during like mornings, lunches, or evenings are always fun haha. A light jacket would be sweet too, because my one right now is just a super heavy one haha, so when it's not super cold I just sweat in it then I get super cold haha. Just like a light windbreaker like that brown one I had back home :) I'm fine with anything though as always haha :) I can't wait to get to skype with you guys though! That will be awesome! Well I've got to get running, I sure do love and miss you lots Mom! Give Dad and Shell my love too!

Great Week Here in Centreville 1st!

Sorry for the delayed email, we spent our P-day yesterday up in DC with our district and we ended up being there the whole day haha so we got permission from our Zone leaders to email today instead. We had planned to be home in time to still email but we totally forgot that the time we would be heading back was right in the middle of rush hour (which starts pretty early here) so the train and bus ride were both super packed and backed up haha. The trip went well though, it was one of the Sisters in the District's last p-day here in DC South because she is a Temple Square Sister and was just here temporarily, so she requested we go up to DC as a district. We ended up going through first The Holocaust Museum (which was super depressing but a good experience, don't think I'll ever do that again), then we went to the Washington Monument, then the WW2 Memorial, then the Lincoln Memorial, then the White House, then Chinatown, then the Capital building (which was closed unfortunately so we didn't get to take a tour or anything, they were renovating some things for the inauguration), then we went to the Museum of the American Indian to finish off the day. The American Indian Museum ended up being super lame though, or maybe I just had my hopes in the wrong place haha, I was hoping to see and read about lots of stuff from like the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs, and be able to draw some comparisons and similarities between theirs and Nephite/Lamanite traditions in the Book of Mormon, but the museum was all about the Modern American Indians and didn't have anything about their ancestors haha. Like I said though, it was a really good week here in Centreville! We have been having more and more lessons progressively these past few weeks and have been getting pretty close to our Area's standard we would like to be at each week. Almost all of the success this past week though came from referrals from members. The biggest one being from a lady who lives somewhere over in Leesburg (like 45 minutes out of our area) who works with a friend who has been going through some personal issues lately and was asking this woman (the Member) how she could find some comfort from all of this stuff, well the Member suggested that we could come to her house and give her friend a Priesthood Blessing of comfort and that would help. Her friend accepted and invited us over but said that she might not be too interested in learning about our church or taking the missionary lessons. Well we met with her on Sunday evening and talked with her and her husband for probably just a little over an hour about the Restoration of the Gospel, they just had question after question and seemed very interested in it all, then finally we closed with giving both of them blessings and they said they would like to have us over again sometime to learn more and that they would like to take a trip up to the Temple Visitor's Center with us and their friends sometime soon as well! It was awesome! We will probably have to lest the Sisters teach them instead though because they are in their area instead of ours it turns out :( but still it will be great that they are having the missionaries over! Plus one of the people we have been teaching is starting to progress very well! She has been having a few things hold her back from feeling ready to be Baptized but she has said that she would really like to be Baptized when she feels ready. We had a lesson with her on Saturday though and she said that she would pray about a goal to help her self be ready by and that we could help her reach. Well top make it even more awesome, she came with us to Stake Conference the next day and the whole conference was about praying for answers and receiving personal revelation! In particular President Riggs spoke at the conference and talked about how if we want answers we have to go into it with the intent to act on whatever answer we get! Of course whenever he would say things along those lines I made sure to sort of nudge her to give a hint haha, she got a kick out of that, but we really think she will start progressing well. It's the same woman Elder Cluff and I had met a month or 2 back who has a less active boyfriend and invited us over for dinner out of the blue, so really it's been a miracle filled little journey for her all throughout! Well I wish I had more time to write but I've got to get going! It was a great week here! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever each of you are! I love and miss you all lots!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trip to DC!

Elder Gronning and Elder Cluff with Sister Jeppsen and Sister Carter

The start of a new transfer!

Well transfer calls came and here I am still in Centreville 1st with a new companion! Unfortunately Elder Cluff got moved elsewhere, but he wanted that so he didn't have to ride his bike any more haha. I am super excited that I got to stay! My new companion is Elder Skinner from Hermiston Oregon, he has been on his mission 5 months now and came here from the Fredricksburg area. He's an awesome guy, him and I have been getting along awesome so far, mostly because we share the same sense of humor haha so that helps a lot. He was really big into mountain bike racing before his mission so he is super excited to be here in a bike area. He is way better than me on a bike though haha but he has already taught me a new trick of being able to wheelie on my front tire without using my front brakes, it's super useful for going up curbs and stuff haha. Plus with his mountain biking experience back home he is a lot more excited to try out new trails we see on the side of the road that look like they go where we need to go, so we've already discovered a few new shortcuts haha. Things have been going great with the work here in the area too to start off the transfer. Brother Large got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday and now has the Authority to baptize the rest of his family when the time comes, which he is super excited about! Then after church we ended up having two lessons with two really awesome people. First was a young Korean guy who is the best friend of our bishop's son, he wants to be baptized but his parents wont let him, but now he has decided that he wants to be baptized on Christmas Eve, the day after he turns 18 and doesn't need his parents permission any more! Way awesome. He's not what you would typically think of though when you think "young Korean guy" he is huge! Like tall and big, he can bench press 300 pounds haha, crazy! He's the local high school's football star, he's a great guy. Then after that we had dinner with some members and while we were there the Sister who was making the dinner for us was talking to a friend of hers, who had just stopped by for a second, about the Plan of Salvation and invited her to come back over after dinner for a lesson with the missionaries and she agreed! So she came by after dinner and had a great lesson about the Book of Mormon, Prophets, and dispensations. It went great! I had met the friend a few times before but she always was very anti the church, and still is in a way haha, but she said she wants to learn where we are coming from but does not want to convert and wont guarantee that she'll believe any of the things we tell her haha, we told her that was totally fine and all we would ask her to do anyways is just take what we say and pray about it to find out if it's true for herself rather than taking our word for it. She said she would definitely do that and has no problem hearing us out and learning what we believe. Most of her questions though seemed to revolve around the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith though so we started out by teaching her about that but she said that she would like to meet with us again this Thursday to hear more about the Plan of Salvation, so we are very stoked about that! Overall though it was a great week! things are starting to heat up here again for some reason though, it has been up in the 50's and 60's all this past week and is supposed to continue to be that way this week. Lame! We want snow! Haha people have been saying that it's supposed to be a heck of a winter once it does hit though, the coldest in 10 years someone told us that the farmers almanac said. Hopefully it's right! I got hosed on my first winter here since it didn't snow really much at all or get very cold, and I wont really see much snow or cold next year in Vegas at this time, so I really want it to be a cold one this year to make up the difference haha. Well I've got to get running! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are! I love and miss all of you guys lots!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What a great weekend!! 11/5 email

Well it sure has been a great weekend since I emailed you all last! Brother Large is now the newest member of our ward and man does he have a strong testimony! First his Baptismal interview on Friday went awesome. The Missionary who was interviewing came out afterwords and whispered to me "Holy Smokes that guy knows everything!" haha which is always good to hear after an interview. Then on Saturday the Baptismal service went great! We didn't have a huge turn out from the ward, in fact I think there was only one family there who didn't have a part on the program haha. But Brother Large was excited to see everyone who did show up and made a couple of new friends in the ward in the process. It was a super spiritual experience all around. Saturday night we ended up going to a Fall Festival for the Manasses ward with a lady who we've been teaching (she goes to the Manasses ward with her boyfriend so she pretty much goes to all their stuff) and had a great time there too. Unfortunately, even with our two votes, she didn't when the Chili cook off though haha. Then Sunday went really awesome! Brother Large got confirmed during sacrament meeting and since it was fast and testimony meeting he got to get up afterwards and bare his testimony and man was it powerful! I was a little concerned that he might not have had a complete conversion take place in his heart before the baptism just because he had progressed so fast, I mean after all we did only teach him for like 4 weeks haha, but his testimony sure did take all of that concern away. He talked about how reading the Book of Mormon has helped him to have his perspective changed and he understands the things in the Bible so much better now and about how he knows the Word of Wisdom is the word of God and he is excited to live it so he can be Physically and Spiritually strong and how grateful he is that God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet just like in times of old. It was super cool! I wrote down a lot of word for word quotes from it in my journal that night so I won't forget them haha. He is loving the ward though and they are loving him! The only concern it sounds like he's had so far though, which he didn't seem too distraught about was "(super think African accent) I believe that I am the only Black in your congregation" but we told him there are lots of Black members of the church, just not in our ward I guess haha. But wouldn't you know it, this past week we had a man from Ghana move into our ward, so now he's not the only one! So overall it has been a great weekend! Today we have been playing sports pretty much all day and man am I beat haha, we played a few games of Gatorball which is a huge sport in our mission, it's exactly like soccer but played with a volleyball and if you kick the ball up off the ground you are allowed to catch it and run with it until you get tagged then you have to put it down and instead of goals you just have a chair on both sides of the basketball court that you have to throw or kick the ball at. And we got to play some two on two racquetball with the Spanish Elders and man it was fun haha. Everything is really going great here, I really hope I don't get transferred this Thursday! So hopefully my next email is from this area! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are though! I love and miss you guys lots!

Hurricane? Email from 10/31

So I feel like a "Hurricane" is probably too strong of a word to use for what Sandy did atleast down where we are haha. It was just a ton of rain and a little bit of wind. We've yet to see a downed tree or hear of someone here in Centreville losing power, so it was pretty disappointing haha. We were expecting it to be a little bit more exciting. But it was bad enough that we did get stuck inside all Monday :( The winds were gusting at about 45 MPH in the morning and then went up to about 60-70 MPH throughout the evening, which is pretty much impossible to ride a bike in, I don't know what it is about wind while you're on a bike but for whatever reason it is always blowing directly in your face haha. Luckily though we had a member sign up to feed us dinner and be our house to evacuate to incase of emergency and they called us first thing in the morning asking if we would like to come have snacks and family card games since we were going to be stuck inside anyways haha so we got to do that for most of the day. Man did it bring some major cold in though! I had to go buy a few sweaters from Ross this past week so I'd have more than just the one I bought last year haha. Humid cold just cuts you right to the soul too! So yesterday it was in the 40's and raining pretty much all day but after not being able to work at all Monday we were determined to be out in it all day haha but man it was freezing! Brother Large is still planning on being baptized this upcoming Saturday at 11 AM and man am I pumped! We are having one of our ward missionaries named Brother Gore do the baptism, who was able to take us to the Stake Center during the day Monday with Bankoli (Brother Large he prefers) to show him what the baptismal font looks like and let him and Bro. Gore have a few dry practice runs haha. It went awesome! It's been such a miracle all around being able to watch Brother Large progress in the gospel. He was barely here in america a week when we met him which brought the verse in 2 Nephi 1 to mind: "6. Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." Bankoli has only been here just over a month now and he will have to go back home to Sierra Leone in December, we definitely believe that he was brought here specifically to find the Gospel and take it back to his family. So cool! So those have really been the highlights of this past week, I love this area! Next week will be transfers though and we really hope we will stay. Elder Cluff thinks he might be ready to go (he HATES having to ride bikes everywhere haha), but I feel like I'll probably get moved elsewhere this time around :( but If I do get to stay I will have officially been in bike areas for a year straight! Which would be pretty awesome, and pretty rare because 70% of our mission consists of car areas haha. I hope everybody has had a great week wherever you are and will have a great Halloween tonight! We will be watching Puss in Boots with our zone tonightfor our Halloween celebration :) they don't want us out and about on New Years and Halloween (due to drunk people and scantily dressed women) so they approve some sort of a Disney or animated movie for us to watch instead haha. Should be sweet! Well I love and miss you guys, hope all is well!

October 22 email-Great Week!

Well it sure was a great week here in Centreville! We had a hard time finding people to teach though so that was kinda rough. But both of the lessons that we did have were awesome! At the first one, the lady we are teaching made us homemade Tostadas and man were they good! We taught her about the Word of Wisdom with a guy from our ward and it went really well. Our other lesson was with this guy named Bankoli from Sierra Leone who we've been teaching for a few weeks now, we taught him all about the Plan of Salvation and he loved it! At the end of the lesson he told us that he would like to be baptized as a member of our church on November 3rd! I'm so excited! Plus he came to church for the first time and made it a point to tell us that, after we explained why we call each other Brother or Sister and the person's last name, that he now prefers to go by Brother Large haha how cool of a last name is that too? He really fit in great with the ward though, he made some great friends but his only difficulty was getting them to understand what he was saying haha, he has a pretty thick African accent (he's only been in the U.S. like 4 weeks), so whenever he would tell people he was from "Sierra Leone, West Africa" they would have to keep asking him to repeat it over and over until we said it haha. I don't know why they had such a hard time, we understand him just fine haha. So that was all around a great time at church. Also a pretty big highlight to our week was this past Saturday was Centreville day! It turns out that's really a holiday here haha so they had a pretty big fair thing with all sorts of booths and we set up a Mormon booth with the Centreville 2nd ward and hung out there for the day talking to the people that walked by. We also had a sign out front for "Free Family Photos!" since we are so big into having the family together, and we just told the people we would deliver the pictures to their houses after we print them out, so we got their address and permission to stop by! So we might get some new people to teach from that! But it was a lot of fun getting to be there talking to people about the church the whole day. We passed out probably over 100 pass along cards while we were there too, we were giving them to everyone we could haha. So overall it was a really great week! The weather here is still beautiful, 60's and 70's every day and the trees are all sorts of red and orange, I'm making sure to take lots of pictures! Well I hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are! I love and miss you guys lots!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Good Week 10/15

Well today is a special day to be able to email because it's my Moms birthday! So everybody be sure to wish her a great one! I believe it's her 23rd birthday. Well it's been another great week here in Centreville 1st! Everything is really going well here and we've had some of the best weather! It has been mid 60's pretty much all week and this upcoming week it's supposed to be just a little warmer, upper 60's, so it should be awesome! We had a few interesting lessons this past week though, probably two of the most frustrating lessons I've taught on my entire mission, but still I'm just glad we got the chance to teach! The first one was with a woman, who has some great faith, but believes that she is a prophetess (female prophet). She's single so we were having a lesson with the Sister missionaries there so that they could start teaching her instead because it was really hard to find people to come with us right in the middle of the day, which is always when she wanted to meet. But the whole time we were there she just kept cutting us off or telling us to stop talking and then she would stand up and begin to yell some sort of something at us haha, anything from Nephi (Book of Mormon Prophet) just being a reincarnated Paul (from the New Testament), or that the Sabbath is really on Saturday and not Sunday and we need to repent and change that practice in our church... So it was pretty tough haha. She loves the Book of Mormon though and loves to study it with the missionaries, so hopefully the Sisters can just help her get some things cleared up haha. So then immediately after that lesson we went to another lesson with a woman who we were going to watch general conference with and we had spent like 2 hours burning it onto a DVD for her the day before, then we got there and after about 12 seconds of her just being like "this is dumb, why do they have to introduce everybody? Why can't they just introduce themselves?" or "I hate it when choirs sing all at the same time like that, I can't understand anything they're saying" she decided she would just watch it later and then told us she thinks that the reason that Mormon's are such a widespread religion and the fastest growing religion in the world is because it is being led by the devil, who is just deceiving all of us haha. But to soften that blow a little bit she did say that we are very nice people and if the devil is leading us we are probably having a good influence on him, so that was really nice of her haha. So that was a super frustrating day, but still a good one! We had a pleasant surprise this weekend too with one of the other women we are teaching. We just stopped by her house to see how she was doing because she wasn't home for our lesson this Friday, and her son answered and told us that she wasn't there again, so at first we were like dang! she hates us! But then he told us that the reason that she wasn't there is because she decided to take a trip up to the Temple Visitor's Center with her boyfriend! How cool is that? So after finding that out we were totally fine with her not being home right then haha. Overall it was a great week here though! Centreville is an awesome place, I wouldn't be the least bit mad if I ended up staying here the rest of my mission! Well I hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are! I love and miss you all lots!

Quick note to Mom 10/9

Hey Mom! Wasn't conference awesome? I really thought all the talks were awesome, I was so pumped up after Elder Holland's talk especially "I imagine Christ will ask each of us that ver same question, he will turn to you and ask 'Did-You-Love Me?'" I think bold and underlined is the closest way to type it with as much power as Elder Holland said it with haha. I also really liked President Uchdorf's Sunday morning talk about resolving to be happy. His Priesthood session talk was really similar too and it was great. And then of course the two the pictures went with were awesome as well. "Ask the missionaries!" and "I'm a Mormon, I know it, I live it, I love it!" So awesome! I'm glad you and Shell got to watch them all too, I've decided that in order for me to remember stuff I've just got to write it down, so I ended up taking like 14 pages worth of notes this conference haha. I did get both the Packages though! They were so awesome! That Mac and Cheese you made was delicious too! Super duper cheesy with bacon in it, the best!! We've been loving all the Steak Dad made too. We each had a big slice on Friday and then Saturday made some steak and cheese quesidillas and we still have two steaks left over for this week! I wrote Melissa a quick email yesterday before I had to go letting her know that I think she should try to serve if she can, she would really make a great missionary. Well I better get running, crazy to think your birthday is just a week away! That'll be sweet because I'll be able to emaiil you right on your birthday since it will be on a Monday :) Well I hope you're having a great week Mom! I love and miss you lots and lots!

Real Weekly Email 10/9

Well now I'll be able to go into just a little more detail with my email haha. It was a great week here in Centreville like always! This week was actually even greater than usual too! Friday was our year mark and we had a nice home-cooked meal straight from home itself! I got 2 awesome packages from my family with tons of great food in it. The second of the two packages was even filled with home grilled steaks from my Dad and some awesome homemade mac and cheese from my Mom, it was so awesome! Plus we were able to finish off our meal with some good chocolate fondue and lots of stuff to dip in it (also in the package). Which overall made it an awesome day! Then of course Saturday and Sunday were great because of General Conference, which I was really really excited about. I can't believe the age limit for Missionaries was lowered to 18! And 19 for Sister missionaries! How crazy is that? So we should be getting a couple really big groups of missionaries coming in these next couple of transfers! Especially a lot of Sister missionaries, which is good, because Sister missionaries are always the best missionaries anyways haha. I thought all of the talks this Conference were great though! I really liked President Uchdorf's talks and also Elder Hollands alot. Plus Russell M. Nelson's and Robert C. Gay's talks were really good too. I can't wait until they get put up on so I can download them onto my MP3 player to listen to a few more times. We were able to watch the Saturday afternoon conference with a guy we're teaching named Bankoli (he's from Sierra Leone) and he really really liked it, he said that he can really tell and feel that the men who were speaking were inspired of God. Yesterday was also a ton of fun because we went on a district trip to Washington D.C. for the day! We had planned to meet everyone at a bus stop in our area and just take the bus and then train up to D.C. but we got there, then the Sisters got there, and then the other two companionships in our district texted us and said they were just going to meet us up there because they had found someone to give them a ride. Well we got up there and got another text saying their ride fell through so they weren't going to come... So it ended up just being us and the Sisters haha which was still good because we're really good friends with the Sisters, but still we were really hoping everyone could come haha. I did take lots of sweet pictures of the Monuments and stuff though that I should be able to send back soon. It was a lot of fun! Man has it been getting chilly here though! Sunday the high for the day was like 58 and then Monday it was 54! It sounds like it should stay the same and just cool down from here on out though. Some people in our ward who we ate dinner with last week said that it will probably stay 60's all throughout the upcoming week. It's going to be sweet! So it's time to start breaking out the winter gear! Well overall it's been another great week here! It's looking like it should be another great one coming up too! I hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are! I love and miss you guys lots!

Email from 10/1-- Almost 1 year!

Well it's crazy to think that this Friday I will have been on my mission for a full year! As much as I miss everyone it still has flown by so fast! It feels like just yesterday I was back in Mclean 2nd with Elder Campbell, was in a car rather than on a bike, and 30 pounds lighter! The mission really has been great so far though, I hope the second half stays just as awesome. This past week was a really great one too but man did it bring back a lot of year ago memories. We had a guy in our ward give his farewell talk on Sunday and he flew out to the MTC today. So on Saturday we got invited to his farewell BBQ with all his friends and family for dinner and man it was weird, it felt like I was just at my own of each of those! Time has flown. We had a few people we are teaching come with us to church on Sunday as well so it was an awesome thing for them to be able to experience as well. The guy who is leaving is Elder DeLeon and he is headed to the Guatemala mission. He is the first of 3 that will be leaving from our ward this transfer. We'll be having a Sister head to Taipei and then another Elder heading to the Anchorage Alaska mission right after she leaves! Lots and lots of missionaries! We have had some sweet storms this past week as well. This past Thursday? I think it was Thursday but I don't remember for sure, we were biking home and all of a sudden we realized that there were some really dark storm clouds all around us and the wind was really picking up and then all of a sudden it just started pouring! There was lightening like every couple of seconds and thunder like crazy! It was so awesome to see up close haha. We made it home all safe and sound and everything but man were we soaked. It was a great end to a great day! This P-day has been quite a crazy one as well though. We have been all over the place shopping! We biked about 10 miles this morning to go to Costco to buy food in bulk (Elder Cluff has a Costco card) so it would last us through the new transfer, and then we biked a few more miles over to Walmart and then stopped on our way back for a haircut and finally made it back just in time to be able to email! So unfortunately because of the crazy bike riding everywhere my time to email is a little shorter than normal, so this email is going to have to be just a little short this time around. I wish I had more time! Oh and by the way Elder Cluff and I are staying together for this next transfer here in Centreville 1! I forgot to mention that somehow haha. It really was a great week here though, just as it always is out here in the mission field! I hope everybody has had a great past week as well! I love and miss you guys lots!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Pictures from Cody!

Elder Kessler

Elders Cluff and Gronning

20th Birthday!

4th of July 2012

District Photo

Elder Gronning & Sister Jeppsen

Sister Julia Jeppsen is serving in the Washington DC South mission too. She is from Boulder City NV and is in our same stake. Since she got to the mission field a few months ago, she has been in the same district as Cody. He is her district leader. Fun!

Quick note to Mom 9/26

We moved the rest of our p-day to today because we had a few appointments on Monday we needed to make it to. But we got transfer calls last night so I thought I'd update you real quick on the news! Both Elder Cluff and I are staying here in Centreville 1 for atleast 1 more transfer! We are super excited. This is only the second time in my whole mission that I've gotten to stay with a companion for more than one transfer so far haha. For our P-day today we are going to borrow the sisters car and make a quick run to Walmart so I can buy some food and get a blanket for the winter coming up, it's really starting to get cold here at night! Eveyone is telling us we'll have a really harsh winter here, which both Elder Cluff are excited for haha. They've already started making preparations on the roads for emergency routes and stuff for the snowstorms they're planning to have roll through. Should be fun! Oh and by the way there's a guy in our ward, he's a really cool guy he just joined the church 3 years ago, named Brother Shannon. He is really big into riding Harley Davidsons and has a really nice one that he rides all the time, well he has this tradition where he takes pictures of all the missionaries that come through the area, on his bike in all his biker gear haha so I'll forward you the pictures he emailed me! He said it looks better if we wear sun-glasses while we take them so I made sure to bring the ones Shon sent me awhile back haha. I'm sure he'll get a kick out of that. Well I hope you're having a great day at work! I love you Mom!

Transfers are here!

Man these transfers just keep getting faster and faster! Tomorrow night we will find out for sure who's staying and who's going and then Thursday will be our actual transfer day. We are hoping we both stay together (as always haha), we are thinking that we probably will since we both just came into the area, but that didn't stop me from leaving last time haha. So who knows! This week has been a good one though. Tuesday I went on an exchange to the Spanish Elders in our district's area for the day and man was that hard! I could hardly understand anything anyone said! We taught 4 lessons that day and all 4 were completely in Spanish! I could speak all I needed to just fine, but being able to understand what they were saying was hopeless haha. So basically I just sat there with a prayer in my heart for my companion, nodding when they nodded or laughing when they laughed haha that seemed to work out great until the people we were talking to would turn to me and ask me a question, then I would just have to look to Elder Wilson (my temporary companion for the exchange) with a look of panic and distress and he would translate for me haha. It was a lot of fun though! Spanish people are some of the nicest people you'll ever meet. It's funny how they look around to find people to teach though. Instead of just knocking on every door like we do, they go around and kind of stereotype each of the apartments or houses to whether or not it looks like Hispanics live there haha. Elder Wilson told me that two of the things that they usually look for is first and foremost any sort of statues or things in the yard that would determine that they are Catholic (99% of the people they talk to are Catholic) and then secondly, they look to see if all of the stuff someone would normally put inside their house is currently on the outside of their house haha, things like couches, tables, chairs, TVs, kids stuff, fridges, etc. He says from what they've seen so far it's been pretty fool proof haha. So that was quite the interesting day spending some time in the life of a Spanish missionary! Another highlight to our week though was, once again, Church yesterday! We had President and Sister Riggs come and speak in our Sacrament meeting and man were their talks awesome! Sister Riggs spoke to the youth about preparing when they are young to be righteous adults when they grow up and read a lot of stuff from the scriptures, it was really good. Then President, of course, talked about how to do missionary work! He emphasized how the desire of our hearts is really what decides what will happen and how if we desire to share the Gospel then we will be blessed with the opportunities and means to do so. He shared a really funny story from his football days though haha. He said he was playing as a quarterback in high school and during their practice that day they were working on being able to call and run audibles. An audible real quick for those who might not know football so well, is when the quarterback gets up to the line of scrimmage and looks at how the defense is lined up and can just tell that whatever play they've got planned just isn't going to work, so he says some sort of key word and they change their play right then and there to whatever play is associated with the word he says. Well what they were practicing is whenever they would get up to the line and he would call out any color they would switch to a play they called a "smash" then he would follow the color with a number, if the number was odd the play would go right, if the number was even the play would go left, well for whatever reason his team just couldn't get it down haha. So they would practice and practice this over and over and just couldn't get it right, which was making their coach really frustrated so the coach calls them in to try talking some sense into them and he said "if you (insert offensive word here)s don't get this right this time around you're all running 10 100's" which meant running the whole field 10 times. Well President Riggs really had the easy part of the play, he just had to call out the color and numbers, so he being kind of a smart-alek at the time asked his coach "So coach no matter what color I call we are running a smash right?" his coach said that was right, then he asked "So no matter what number I call, if it's even we go left and if it's odd we go right?" His coach told him he was correct. So they re-line up and as soon as they get on the line President Riggs starts calling it out "AquaMarine! Eleventy million nine hundred and seventy five.....!" and by the time he had gotten to that point his coach had already thrown his clip board on the ground and was shouting for everyone to line up for their 100 yard dashes. Well President thought it was really funny at the time but the rest of his team didn't, so as he was laughing and running is 100's the rest of the team was giving him all sorts of mean looks. Well they get back into the locker-room afterwards and the biggest guy on the team gets President Riggs pinned up against a locker and he doesn't look to happy, and he just looks at President and says "Riggs, why are you so dang happy all the time?" Well that wasn't really what he was expecting to hear haha but he said he just opened up his mouth and put came the words "Because I know why I'm here, where I'm going, and where I've come from." As soon as he had said that both he and this beasty football player just looked at eachother with confused looks on both of their faces for a few seconds, then the football player let Riggs down and asked "Riggs, you walking home today?" he said that he was and the guy responded "Alright I'm walking with you, you've got to tell me what you mean by that." And he did! Throughout the walk home President was able to explain to this guy all about why we are here in this life, where we are going after we die, and where we were before we were here. The guy really understood it and if I remember right I believe he joined the church with his family some time down the road. So the point of this story that President wanted to emphasize was that just because he had the desire to share the Gospel with others he, when placed in a panicky situation, was able to have the words placed in his mouth of what was needed to be said to the person asking him and as long as we have that desire too that we will always have to words we need to say given to us. It was a really awesome talk all around. Man I didn't realize how long that story was though haha sorry that took up so much room! But overall this week really was a good one! Hopefully my next email will be from here in Centreville still! I hope everyone is haveing a great week wherever you are! I love and miss you guys lots!

I think fall is finally here- 9/17

Well like I said, it's felling like fall has finally come around! It's been 70's every day this past week! Perfect weather for riding around on the bikes, it's been great! Unfortunately it was a rough week for teaching lessons though. Just one of those weeks where EVERYBODY cancels! We had lots of lessons set up but when the time came around for us to go either they weren't home or cancelled on us, so bogus. That's missionary work for ya though haha, it's like 1 in 10 visits to someone that actually go through, I think that's why we put so many miles on the bikes haha. This week looks like it's lined up to be a good one though, we've got appointments lined up almost every night already and on some nights we've even got as many as 3 set up! So hopefully those all go through. We did have another great lesson with Alejandra this past week though, she wants to go with us up to the visitor's center at the Temple to watch the full length movie about Joseph Smith in one of the theater's there. She's also pretty pumped to see the big Christus statue there, it's not as big as the one in Salt Lake but it is still really awesome. One of the great highlights of this past week though was yesterday at church. I guess the big stake meeting for all of the Priesthood leadership in the stake was on Saturday and President Riggs was there as a speaker. Well he made sure that the whole meeting was centered around missionary work! He asked everybody there if they knew what OYM stood for first, which he later explained was an acronym for Open Your Mouth and share the gospel! He said it's not hard, you've just got to get out there and do it. He also shared a few experiences he's had from applying some principles from Elder L. Tom Perry's talk in this past General Conference. Mostly about that experience he shared about his friend Scott (if you want to get an idea of what I'm talking about it's literally only like the first 2 minutes of his talk here: ), President riggs said he's been giving those same two questions and answers a try with everybody he gets a chance to talk to. It's a real simple way of sharing the Gospel but I guess he said that one person has joined the church already just from him asking that! So the reason this whole meeting thing made our Sunday great was man did it light a major fire for the leaders in the ward to get on mission work! We had lots of people tell us that they could help us with whatever we need and a few tell us that they would come on an exchange with us one night, no matter what we were doing, one guy even said "I don't care if we have to just go knock on doors all night I'll still come with you guys" haha. The Bishop was especially fired up too, he just started flagging people down and giving them an assignment of how specifically to help us out in the upcoming week haha it was way cool! Well so far our P-day has been a good one too, we went fishing early this morning with a few other Elders that we were in the MTC with at a pond owned by a member in their area. It was so sweet! I finally got to go fishing again! We caught just a few small mouth and a bunch of bluegill but man it was a lot of fun. I've got a sweet little telescopic pole that a lady in Ft. Belvoir bought me last transfer from a garage sale for like a dollar haha. I want to look around at some thrift stores for a new reel for it though, right now it's one of those ones with the button on it and the bell all covered by that plastic cap, I can't stand those! It was still great though! Later on today a member of the ward is planning on taking us to Costco so we can buy some good food for cheap too, so it should be an awesome p-day! Well sorry that there wasn't a whole lot of cool experiences to share this week, I feel like this email really lacked interesting stuff haha, but hopefully this next week I should have some more great things to talk about! I hope everybody is enjoying their Monday! I know it's a hard day to enjoy haha but still hope it's a good one! I love and miss you guys!

Monday, September 10, 2012

Beautiful weather is finally here!

Well the weather here is finally starting to cool down! Hopefully for the rest of the year haha. It's down to clear skies and high 70's for the rest of the week at least. So sweet! We've been sweating like crazy in this humidity lately. By the time we get to some of our farther out appointments we've had sweat just dripping off our faces haha. Humidity is no good for a couple of desert rats like ourselves! So we are pretty stoked about the nice weather now. We did break our miles in a day record again though, two days in a row actually haha. This past Wednesday we went on an exchange with that young man in our ward I talked about in our last email. His name is Zack Gore and man he's an awesome guy. He's 17 and runs his own lawn cutting business where he drives around with a couple of lawn-mowers and a hedge trimmer and just offers to cut people's lawns for cheap, he does like 15 different houses weekly haha, and here's the crazy part, he does it all just so he can pay for all of his mission! He's already up to like $6000 so he should be able to make it for sure, how cool is that? Well we planned to contact a former investigator with him on like the way way far edge of our area with him so he could drive us there, but when we showed up at his house we found him out front on his bike in a white shirt and tie getting ready to be able to spend a day on the bikes with us haha. We told him how far the lady was but he said he wanted to do it, so 14 miles we biked with him through various business complexes and lots of roads with no sidewalks (major setback to the pedestrians of Virginia, there's only sidewalks on like half of the roads here) just to find out she wasn't home, of course we're used to that haha but we thought Zack might be kinds bummed, but to our surprise he was just as stoked for the ride home and wants to come with us again this week! Haha so that was our first record day we totaled 28.6 miles that day. Then the following day Elder Cluff and I made the trip back up to her, she was sick so we're going back this week, and then biked around a little more and beat the record again! We made it a solid 30.5 miles that day :) it was awesome! Elder Cluff doesn't think it's so awesome haha but I love it. This weekdays this week were awesome though, we found 3 new investigators in one day and had lessons almost every day. 2 of the 3 new investigators were actually found in a really miraculous way. We were just biking home one night and we got a call from an unknown number, it was a lady who said her name was Alejandra. She said we had given a blessing to her boyfriend in a hospital awhile back and she wanted to have us over for dinner, but she said she lived in Centreville (which evidently was really far from the hospital they were at) and she didn't know if that would be too far for us to be able to come over. Well luckily we just happen to live in Centreville :) so that was fine. Well we asked around to the sisters who were in the area for awhile before us and they said they didn't know anybody who was in the hospital recently that they would have visited and there was no one named Alejandra on the ward list, so she wasn't a member. So really we had no idea who this lady was but she wanted to have us over for dinner with her and her boyfriend so we accepted without questions haha. Well we show up and their power is out but they still invited us in and talked to us like we were old friends or something haha. But the boyfriend wasn't there, just this lady and her son and daughters who were all a bit older. So we still weren't sure who this guy was who they thought we had given a blessing to quite some time ago. Well about 10 minutes into dinner the boyfriend comes in and the craziest thing, it's this guy we had totally met just in passing like the first day we were here in the area. He had stopped us on our bikes and said that he might have a girlfriend that would be interested in learning more about the church, grabbed our number and a pass along card, and drove away. We hadn't heard from him since or really even thought about it haha. But here he was! So that made everything really start to make sense all of a sudden haha. It turns out the guy, his name is Rob, is a less-active member of the church who hadn't been to church in years, but was raised in Salt Lake and has a son on a mission in Colorado. We had a great dinner with them and afterwards shared with them the restoration of the Gospel out back with only the light the moon could give us because the power was still out on their whole street. They loved it and accepted to read and pray about the Book of Mormon as well as come with us to church on Sunday. Which they did and loved it as well! It was an awesome experience for sure. Well this turned into a really long email haha, sorry about that. But it was a great week here! It has been quite a blessed one for sure! Well I hope everyone is having a great start to their week wherever you are! Everybody be sure to wish my Dad a happy birthday this Thursday! I love and miss all of you guys!

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Well another week has come and gone here in Centreville. This really is a great place, I hope I stay here awhile! We've gotten in lots and lots of biking this past week, here in this area we bike tons! We are averaging a little under 100 miles per week. This week has been full of member-work though. We have been getting to know everybody and trying out this new program that President Riggs has asked us to do. He's felt really inspired to ask us to do it too. The plan is that we go visit 10-15 members weekly in our area but only for about 10 or 15 minutes tops. We just see how they are doing and then ask "What revelation have you received for you, your family, friends or neighbors that we as missionaries could use to help you?" At least something along those lines, he wants us to always make sure we ask specifically for their own personal revelation though however we ask it. So at first I was thinking to myself, well it sounds good but I think people are really just going to be like, what the heck, and not give us anything haha. He said that might be the answer at first but the trick is, is if they say they haven't then we say "Alright that's okay, can you pray with your family this week and seek that revelation?" then we follow up on a weekly basis until they do it and get some revelation haha. To my surprise though, out of the 3 families that we asked this past week, all 3 had some sort of revelation that they had been thinking about that they were really glad we asked to share! All 3 were completely different answers too. The first family we asked, just the Dad was home, and he started to tear up a bit as soon as we asked, he said that he and his wife had been praying for awhile to find out how they can help their son stay on track to go on a mission someday, because it's something he's always wanted to do, and he felt like this was an answer to that prayer. So we'll be going on our first exchange with their son tomorrow night :) the second family said they didn't have anything yet, but that they would pray as a family about it. We came back yesterday to follow up, and they prayed and got an answer! They said they felt like they need to help their neighbor with his yard work this Saturday because he is always at work and never has time to get to it and they want us to come help. So we are doing that this upcoming Saturday. Then the third family immediately answered that they had lots of friends from work and neighbors that had either met with the missionaries before or that were interested in meeting with the missionaries now that we could go teach! So cool! So that's been quite a blessing. It's been very cool to see the Hand of the Lord working in the people's lives here. You can tell he really does love all of us. For labor day though we had a nice P-day and our computers in our complex were in use all day so that's why my email is coming a little late this week haha. We did get invited over for a labor-day BBQ though! It was awesome to have some fresh grilled burgers and dogs and to get to meet some of the people from the ward some more. So overall it's been a great week here! Like always I suppose haha. I hope everybody had a great labor day weekend wherever you are! I love and miss you guy lots!

August 27th email

Onyang-ha-seyo! That means hello in Korean haha. So far that's all I can speak but hopefully I learn some more! It's been a great week here in Centreville though. We found a few new people to teach, so that's good. Man has it been a tiring week though! They've changed how district meetings work here in our mission now so that the district leaders are supposed to teach for 2 hours straight! It used to be half was taken by the zone leaders to teach everyone in the zone and then the last hour was for the district leaders to just teach their district, but President said he wants to put more focus on the district leaders teaching the missionaries and the zone leaders more of just teaching the district leaders. Man it is tough to think of 2 hours worth of stuff to share though haha. But so far it seems to really have helped to make our district of missionaries more unified and helped us to know what we can do to help eachother out. So this keyboard is really junky by the way, I'm having to really press hard on each of these keys to get it to work haha, the good computers were already taken today :( so if I'm missing letters or anything like that, you know why haha. Also something that made this week a little tiring as well was we had to speak on Sunday! We had said to the Bishop that it could be good for us to speak one Sunday so that the ward could know who we are but man I didn't think he'd ask us so soon haha. I think it really helped the ward trust us though, we had a lot of people come up and ask us if we could come to their house for dinner sometime, that's always a good sign for a missionary haha. Our topic was a good one though, but hard to find material on. It was "The Doctrine of our Heavenly Father" which surprisingly enough is kinda hard to find scriptures on because most of them talk about Jesus Christ rather than God the Father. I found a good quote from Elder Holland though about how everything about Christ, everything that He did, everything that He said, and all the things we praise Him for are all given for the purpose of pointing us to who our Heavenly Father is, so that really helped. Then I just focused the rest of my talk on how much He loves us and how we need to do all that we can to show our love back to him. I'm glad that talk is out of the way though haha. This week we also broke our record for miles biked in a day too, which Elder Cluff wasn't too pumped about haha he hates that we don't have a car. But we rode 25 miles this past Saturday, it was sweet! I love being on bike! Well I hope that everyone had a great week wherever you are! Elder Cluff has a thing I can use to plug in my camera card to the computer and mail pictures so when he's done with it I'll send an email here in a minute to everyone with some pictures! Love and miss all of you!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

More Photos!

Elders Gronning and McGoffin(Cody was his trainer)

Elders Gronning & Anderson with Lauren Murray.
Cody was Jaxon Anderson's trainer & Cody baptized Lauren.

Pictures of the Mt Vernon boys before transfers last week

New Area!

Well another week has come and gone here in northern Virginia and man has it been a crazy one! It has been really exciting though. My new area is in the Centreville 1st ward, which is kinda right in the middle of all of the areas I've served in so far. It is a pretty densely populated area with a lot of houses. It's actually the in the top 3 cities in the U.S for having the most Koreans too haha so there are a ton of foreign people here! The craziest part about this area though is that my companion Elder Cluff and I are replacing sisters in the ward here so we are both new to the area! In the mission that's called a "white wash" where two missionaries leave and two new missionaries come in. Elder Cluff was one of the guys in my district in the MTC and was a roommate of mine back in McLean so we've served around each other quite a bit. He's a great guy though, he is also from Nevada too, but he's from a little farther up north, Panaca. Which I don't think I've ever been to but it's just a little tiny farm town according to Elder Cluff (the Vanilla Gorilla) haha. Also we are still on bikes here too, which means that at the end of this transfer I will have been on bike for the past 9 months straight! Our area is definitely the biggest bike area I've been in though. On Saturday alone we biked 22 miles almost 23 haha. It is a great area though, everybody here is really friendly it seems like. We went and knocked on some doors for about an hour our fist night here and 3 people in a row invited us back after talking to us awhile on the doorstep! That like never happens! Usually it's about 1 in every 100 that actually says they are interested haha so it was pretty sweet. Luckily one of the sisters that was serving in the area before we got here got transferred to just the next ward over and ended up being in my district. So we can always call her to get info about the ward or the people we are teaching. We have had great reception from the ward so far too. This past Sunday we had a lot of people come up and introduce themselves and welcome us to the ward, so hopefully we can make some good friends there. It's always hard on a ward having two missionaries leave and two come in because there isn't really much trust for the new Elders right off the bat, so we have to make sure we work extra hard to prove them we're trustworthy! We are pumped to be here though. It seems like it's going to be such a great area. Well hopefully next week I'll be able to give an update on the new people we are teaching! We sure are doing our best to find them haha. I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are! I love and miss all of you guys!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Sorry for the late email!

Sorry for the late email! We went mini-golfing this past p-day with a recent convert to the ward here named Lacey and it ended up being farther than we thought haha so we got back right as P-day ended at 6 and didn't get to email :( but we got permission to do some quick emailing today so we can atleast get an email to President in with our numbers for the week. Man tomorrow is transfers though! It's even more crazy too because 3 out of the 4 of us are being transferred! Which includes, myself, Elder Kessler, and Elder Frazier.Elder Dickson is the only one who will be staying in the area! Craziness! I think they are closing down Elder Kessler and I's area, since we are in Ft. Belvoir C, it's pretty normal for it to close down and open up from time to time. The area is really transient so there are sometimes a lot of people to teach so we need a lot of Elders and sometimes there's not so much people to teach that just one companionship can cover it. So it's slowed down enough in both areas now that I bet they could combine it pretty easily. Elder Kessler and I are hoping we will go open up a new area somewhere else instead though! But odds are that won't happen haha. It's crazy that I only got to stay one transfer here. I feel like I  just barely got finished unpacking and I have to start packing again! Crazy! We had a really sweet experience on this past P-day though. We were at Marshalls looking at ties before we went mini-golfing and this guy from Sudan came up and just started talking to us, asking who we were and things like that. Well we told him about how we are missionaries and we are from the Mormon church or the Latter-Day Saints. He then told us that he just feels and sees in everyone that he's ever met that is Mormon that they have something special that he wants. He said that whenever he sees members of our church they just seem to glow. He said "I don't know if you guys can see it but me and everybody else don't glow like you guys do. I'll see someone just walking in a store dressed normal and see them have that glow around them and ask them what church they go to and they always tell they are Mormons!" he had a very thick sudaneese accent too so it sounded even cooler when he said it in person. We told him about how the glow he sees in us is the special sort of happiness we all share as members of the church because of the peace and happiness we have from knowing why we are here, where we came from, and where we are going and that is the message we have been sent to share as missionaries he responded "That is a message that I want." It was such an amazing experience. We asked him if we could come over and teach him more but he was leaving the next day to go to sudan for 2 months then he is coming back. I got his address and phone number for while he is there in Sudan and left him with our number, he said he would love for the missionaries in Sudan to come over though so hopefully we have missionaries there! For the most part the people living there are Muslim though and very hardcore Muslim so usually they aren't to fond of branches of Christianity so I'm not sure if we will :( Well I should probably get going though. Man I'm going to miss this area! I hope everybody is having a great week back home though! I love and miss all of you guys!

Monday, August 13, 2012

What a week! 8/6 email

Dear Friends and Family,

Well it was a pretty rough week for lessons here unfortunately :/ For whatever reason like nobody was home at all! And the ones that were home were too sick to let us in so they just told us to come back this upcoming week instead. Lame! But it was still a good week spent working hard haha. We also had our first interviews with President Riggs this past week on tueesday too and man that was cool! He is such a great guy! We got to spend some good time just chatting one on one and getting to know eachother better. He of course asked me the classic question of "so what kind of career do you want to pursue after your mission?" Which for anyone who has ever asked me that question you know it never stays the same haha but I told him I was kinda thinking about 3 different options that I still wasn't too sure about: Being a Pilot, a Doctor of some sort, or working with Federal Law Enforcement FBI/CIA stuff. His immediate reaction was "What a waste!" haha. So of course I laughed and asked him what he meant by that and he said "Well I just can't see a guy like you wasting your God-given talent to talk to people on something like flying a plane or fixing someones health problems, I could maybe see you working for the Government but c'mon Elder Gronning you can do better than that!" haha. So from that we talked for about 15 minutes on how he thinks I should just go be a lawyer like he was haha. That should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of guy President Riggs is though, he loves to joke around and have a good time but he's all about hard work at the same time. The whole interview was a really spiritually uplifting experience. Also, speaking of interviews, yesterday I got to give my first baptismal interview to somebody! As district leader they have you go give the interviews for people who are being taught by the missionaries in your district. So this was the first one that I had gotten the chance to give and man it was great! It was for a guy named Roberto who is being baptized in the singles ward this upcoming saturday and boy does he have a strong testimony. Elder Holfeltz (he's the tall guy I was standing next to in that picture where we are in front of the tiger) and Heiner have been teaching him for only 3 weeks now. He's just here temporarily for work in the summer and actually leaves to go back home next weekend, but he loves the Gospel so much and already has such a great testimony of it that he wants to be baptized a member before he goes! How cool is that? Well that's about all I have time for this week unfortunatelly. We have to cut our email time to just a half hour today because we got invited to a dinner at 5:30 that we've got to get running to. I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are though! I love and miss each of you guys!

Monday, July 30, 2012

Email to Mom

Hi Mom,
Man Siri is pretty sweet haha she does a pretty good job of putting the emails together for you, she messes up on a few words from time to time and the punctuation is super confusing sometimes haha but besides that it's awesome!  The weather here has been pretty miserable though, I hate humidity! So as long as people let us inside into the air conditioning it's fine haha but when we're out walking around I just sweat and sweat and sweat haha. My camelback has been very nice for keeping me hydrated though.
Man that'll be sweet having another lake powell trip this year though! I can't wait to go to one when I come home :) I'll have to take some pictures of our apartment so you can see how nice it is and then send you my SD card this week, it's been quite awhile now that I think about it haha. I only have 1 card still though since my last one broke in the mail :/ but one is good enough for the time being.
I did get some good looking short sleeve white shirts from Granny and Pa but they're too big :/ I'm stll the same size even with the extra 30 pounds haha. She sent me 16's but she included the receipt from JC Penny so we just have to make a trip up to one one of these P-days and then I'll be able to switch them for some smaller ones.
The time here seems to be flying by though but at the same time it feels like I've been here while, but I suppose that's true now that's it's almost 10 months that I've been out. Man it's so weird! I'm one of the older missionaries at most things now! Most of our mission consists of people who have been out less than a year so for the most part I've been out longer than a lot of the other missionaries haha. It's really strange. Well I hope you're having a good day at work! I love and miss you lots Mom!

Another Great Week in Ft Belvior!

Well it has been another sweet week here in Ft. Belvoir! We were blessed to have a good amount of lessons this past week with lots of different people. Unfortunately the two people that were planning on being baptised soon still haven't come to church though so we'll have to push back the baptismal date for awhile. We did have a few really good lessons with them this week though! It seems like this past week we went on quite a good amount of exchanges with other missionaries too, which are always a little hectic haha. Usually they last a full 24 hours and we just switch companions and areas for the day. So on thursday I went over to the Alexandria 3rd Area with Elder Bennet (one of the guys in my district) and Elder Kessler stayed in our area with Elder Merrill (elder Bennet's companion). That was a lot of fun, it's Elder Bennet's second transfer in the field so he's still pretty new. I love hanging out with new missionaries though, they are always so much more pumped to get out there and work haha. So we spent most of the day there on bikes and it turns out that they are currently looking for a new bike so for now they have a girls bike... so I kinda got stuck on that for the day haha. It looked like a guys bike kinda but man it was super uncomfortable! The pedals were super small and the seat and handle bars were bother super wide haha. So I almost crashed quite a few times but I survived haha. Throughout each transfer I'm supposed to go on one exchange with each companionship in my district so I'll probably have another one one day this week. Then Friday was my day to go on an exchange with the zone leaders (they cycle through each one of the district leaders every week) and that was alot of fun. I got to stay in our area this time around and Kessler went over to their area. So I was with Elder Anderson (not the one I was with before haha) for the day and we had some really spirit filled lessons with a few of the people we are teaching. Also this past week we had a lady in our ward take us to the comissary on base to buy some groceries and man that place is sweet! Everything there is super cheap compared to civillian grocery stores, even cheaper than wal-mart! It was very cool. We are going to see if she will take us at the beginning of next month too so we can buy some more stuff.
We had a really sweet experience on Saturday evening though. It was a few minutes after 9 o clock so we were heading back to our roomates car so they could give us a ride home and a lady just came up out of nowhere and was like "Hey I just felt really strongly that I needed to come talk to you guys, can you come visit with my son?" So she told us that her 13 year old son has been going through some rough times and she really wants her family to be raised on a Christian foundation so that her children can have good morals. So we went and got to know both her and her son. I mostly talked with the son, his name is Marcelis and he's a super cool kid, I talked with him about video games and drawing (which it turns out he's super good at) and about how God and prayer can really make life easier, even when we're young. While I was doing that Elder Kessler was talking to his Mom, Natasha, who was just so glad we were there and told him about how much she really just feels the spirit about us and things like that. Unfortunatelly it was pretty late and we have to be in by 9:30 if we're at a lesson (9 if we're not) so we had to get running, but man overall it was really a sweet little discussion we had with them. We left them each with their own copy of the Book of Mormon and invited them to read a chapter together and pray about it, which they said they would do and they really wanted us to come back over. Such a sweet experience! Hopefully we get to see them again this week. Also this past week I had an awesome little surprise package and card! First a card from my family up in idaho that totally made my day! and then a package later in the week from my grandparents that was full of cards made by my cousins! So cool! So it was another really sweet week here. So far I really love this area and I hope I get to stay here a long time! Well I hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are! I love and miss all of you guys!