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!