Kentucky, Louisville Mission

Monday, March 21, 2016

Week 103 "Ya se acabo"

This week has felt very similar to what my mission felt like as a whole. I felt tired, stressed, overwhelmed, excited, humbled, and extremely blessed! Words can hardly describe the feelings I have and I don't know what I can say to help you understand everything, maybe I can’t but I can try to fill you in on the details!

On Friday Felipe Nieto married Tanya Price!  Then on Saturday he got baptized!  After investigating for more than 2 years they finally made the decision and Elder Hamilton and I were very blessed to be able to be a part of it. I have never been a stronger believer that God knows the end from the beginning and he will bless us as we diligently demonstrate our faith and love for him! What an amazing way to end the best experience of my life, it wasn't the easiest or the funnest but it was easily the best. I've often heard it described as a million dollar experience you wouldn't pay a dime to repeat haha but I would not be who I am today if it wasn't for everything I've experienced the past two years. Looking back now I can smile about certain times when I didn't understand why things happened the way they did but now I know that God knew and I am amazed. I love you guys and I'm so grateful for your support these last 2 years, I couldn't have done it with out you! 

¡Para siempre Dios esté con vos!

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Email for Ward Mission Leader in Clarksville, Indiana

I am the Ward Mission Leader in the Jeffersonville Ward of the New Albany Indiana stake. Bishop Roger White and I wanted to write you about a missionary that is coming home to you this week, Elder Follett. We are copying his Bishop and family in on this email as well.

We know that you likely get a number of missionaries that return home from your stake. While it is not a common practice for us to write a stake president about a missionary's service, we think that there are some things you should know. Please know that Elder Follett has served with honor. I get the privilege to serve with many missionaries (we have had 4-6 missionaries serving in our ward most of the last 20 years.). He is among the most notable. Thank you for sending Elder Follett to us. He was an amazing tool in the Lord's hand. 

Missionaries who serve in our area are an integral part of our ward. We have 4 full time Elders in our ward alone, with about 185 people attending each week. As you can tell from those numbers, that means that the missionaries are often in members homes and working with them closely. Their service is important to our ward, which covers much of a complete county.

Elder Follett served as a leader in the mission and several of the missionaries took me aside when he arrived here. I think what they told me speaks volumes about how he served. To a person, they confided in me of his dedication. They mentioned that he served most of his mission in areas that the other missionaries were glad they were not serving in. (That is putting it mildly.) They told me of how hard it was and how much they respected him for serving diligently and without complaint, when others did. They told me that the areas he served in had little to go on and it was truly tough to find investigators. This was all unsolicited by me, but they wanted me to know how truly good an elder he was and is. In the time we have served together, I have come to see why they respected and loved him. When he arrived in our ward, he was one of the friendliest, warmest and most fun missionaries I have ever served with. He was comfortable in the humblest of circumstance as well as  the most formal.  

 I truly wish I had more time to serve with him. It is a shame that we do not get more time together.

Elder Follett has served in our ward only 7 weeks. The last 7 weeks of his mission, which is partly why we are writing.  It is uncommon for missionaries to get "trunky transferred" (transferred into a brand new area on the last transfer of their mission.) But it does happen.  

In his case, the area had been closed the previous transfer due to a shortage of missionaries and then reopened. No teaching pool to start with. No one who knew the area to start with other than the other Elders in the ward. Only the area book and 7 Sundays to do something with it. Elder Follett took on the challenge and wrote an epic last chapter to his mission. It was a treat to observe.

I have watched many missionaries shut down on the last weeks of their mission, and it would be even more typical to expect it in this case due to the difficulties, but he did not. Even tonight he is serving with everything he has. 

During this 7 weeks he connected with virtually all of the members of our ward. His area was expanded to include his old area temporarily as well, due to other missionaries being transferred. (His mission president was comfortable having him cover whenever there was a need because he knew it would get done.)  He helped locate more than a few people in our county that we did not know where they were and served diligently and well. He has worked tirelessly. We thought you should know. We consider him family.

We have had a number of people in the area that missionaries refer to as "eternigators". One such couple was Felippe and Tonya and their teenage children. They have been attending the neighboring ward on and off, and because I had worked with them and knew them, I got to work with Elder Follett and his companion in teaching them.

They have been studying off and on with the missionaries for several years. Still not married. Husband still not baptized. Wife is a less active member. Children attending church only now and then.  I counted no less than 12 missionaries that had taught them at one time or another. 

Elder Follett's loving persistence was there at the right time. I am writing this on Sunday night. Earlier this weekend, on Friday, they were married. Elder Follett helped them get the paperwork so that they could get married. He helped prepare the reception for them, as they live humbly, and with medical expenses and it was out of reach for them. He found a missionary that could decorate a cake. He found decorations. He literally found a way over every obstacle so that they could get married and so Felippe could get baptized. All of this again happened in 7 weeks, from not knowing them to befriending them, to  teaching them, to facilitating all of this. Amazing.

I had the pleasure of sending some of the missionaries that had served here the news that after years, these people had finally been married and joined the church and that their efforts to teach them were not in vain. It was a tender moment.

There are no words to describe how thankful returned missionaries are who don't even know Elder Follett for him taking care of the person that they taught 2-3 years previous. 

The number of obstacles was impressive. Elder Follett and his companion stayed with it. I have attached photos of their reception and of Felippe's baptism yesterday. Felippe was confirmed today in that ward.

You also need to know that while we love all of the missionaries, we do not write letters to Stake Presidents about all of them. You are indeed standing in the presence of greatness and humble service when you greet him as he arrives home. Please welcome him home appropriately for his valiant service. Please thank his mom, dad and family for their sacrifice in sending him. They have sacrificed greatly. We have appreciated the time he has been here more than you will know.  

And we realize, that our ward is only one of the areas where he served this valiantly.

As a Ward Mission Leader you grow to love all of the missionaries, but you especially admire and appreciate the ones who have that special balance of confidence and humility and love that Elder Follett does.  They are indeed special.

In a couple short days we will send Elder Follett home to you safe and sound (and tired ;-) ). We will miss him. Since we cannot be there, we would ask that you do a couple of things to show him our gratitude for his service.  

Please share the contents of this letter with him as appropriate and  (again) thank his family for his service. Please make sure that they FEEL it. His family needs to know that he was a great missionary. So often people try to measure the mission by the number of baptisms, but each mission is different and his was full  of extraordinary challenges. Having several children serve missions and one to go,  I could only hope that they served to his level. That is all I can say. I am honored to have served with him. 

Please convey the love of the families of our ward to him. Please let him know that he has #refrigeratorprivileges here in Jeffersonville and that we expect him to use them. (grin)

Please pass the contents of this letter as appropriate to your high council to let them know what an impact this young man has made. I am sure that while they get to see many missionaries return, they would want to know of his service. He has returned with honor. 

Thanks again for sending one of your best and brightest to serve on a mission. It has been our honor and privilege to serve with him here, even for a short time. He has made a dent in our universe and a lasting impact. 

We hope and pray things continue to go well for your stake. 

Monday, March 14, 2016

Week 102 "Una mas"

Hey People!  

This week went really good!  We have a pretty eventful week ahead of us!  We have meetings out th wazoo haha 4 people to be interviewed for baptism, a wedding, a reception, a baptism and a whole lot more so this will be a really fun week to go out with a bang!  Honestly I don't even know what to tell you about this past week haha we worked hard and are finishing up all the lessons with Felipe and Tanya and things are going really well!  We're very excited for them and feel super blessed to be able to have met them and worked with them.

This week we have been trying to meet with every less active member on our records and its been interesting, met a few families who didn't know spouses were members and weren't too happy about it haha and other interesting things!  Like Louis for example, Louis is a 85 years or older less active man who was a little confused when we met him, he told us that his wife and him were married in 2006 and that they just hit their 25th wedding anniversary and they got married 6 months after they met in 1962. (if you add htose numbers up they don't make sense trust me haha) but we have been having a good time trying to track down a lot of people who haven't been to the church in a really long time and its been great.

Other than that not much to report!  Things are going really well and we are working our hearts out!  Love you guys, hope you have a great week!

Para siempre Dios este con vos!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Week 101

Hey people! this week was absolutely crazy haha 

So last week i talked a little about how we needed a miracle in order to get Felipe married before his baptism and we definitely got one! We went over there last Monday night and had a lesson with them and just taught them about the 10 commandments and basically they just decided right then and there in a split second that they were going to get married, so i was pretty excited and asked when they wanted to go get the paper work and they said lets go tomorrow! so we did haha we went and got their marriage license and everything (for the most part) went really smoothly! so now me and Elder Hamilton and scrambling around trying to get their marriage and baptism planned so this will be a very busy and exciting 2 weeks. They will be married the 17th and he will be baptized the 19th so we'll be cutting it really close haha but I’m excited!

Other than that this week has been pretty normal, The sister missionaries made it back to Louisville so we no longer are covering 2 areas which has been really nice. For some reason every English investigator we have has dropped off the face of the earth so really things are pretty normal for me here only teaching Spanish people but my poor companion feels a little unused haha he’s trying his best with his Gringo Spanish though.

We are also teaching a guy named Armando who has investigated for a long time, he is very quiet and very unsure about everything and pretty hard to get a hold of but he has a lot of potential, he's read in the Book of Mormon up to Alma and pretty much knows it’s true, now we just have to help him act on what he has learned. Last night we also picked up a guy named Silvestre, he lives in an apartment where we kept being sent back to, first looking for a guy named Eric, than we met Ledio who said we could come back, couldn’t find Eric or Ledio but later ran into a guy named Jose who said we could come back, lost Jose but then found Silvestre and taught him the restoration last night haha he seems pretty cool so we're excited to see who else we can find here. 

Anyway, love you guys a lot, hope you have a great week! 

¡Para siempre Dios esté con vos!