Monday, December 28, 2015


Hey Ya'll!

It was sure nice to talk to ya'll on Christmas! We spent a lot of the day there at the Clays. We played lots of spike ball and ate tons of food and just had a good time. The baptism on Saturday went great too! Elder Andersen baptized him, but I got in, too, to help lift him out of the water. Surprisingly there were quite a few people there! We weren't expecting many the day after Christmas, but  we had the whole room pretty full. On Sunday I confirmed him in Sacrament and next week he'll be interviewing for the priesthood. I feel really good about Johnny; he's reading the Book of Mormon a lot, coming to church every week, and seems to know a lot of people at the church. He also loves family history so we'll be starting him up on some Family Search this week. We've also got a few more investigators coming well along towards baptism and now we're just fixin' for more new investigators.

I read a talk today that reminded me of some of the feelings I have towards the sacrament. First off; the sacrament can be an extremely spiritual experience if you want it to be. In fact it can, with proper spiritual preparation, invite just as much revelation as the temple. The sacrament is for the renewal of all covenants, including the temple covenants, which is why we do it over and over again. Second, before we're baptized we just have the light of Christ to guide us. When we're baptized, we're baptized by water, by the Holy Ghost and by fire. The baptism by water is pretty self explanatory, but the baptism by fire and the Holy Ghost are actually two different things. When we're baptized by the Holy Ghost, we just receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (the first comforter) but the baptism by fire is a continual process. That is when the Spirit sanctifies us and renews us. It is the key to repentance and essential to entering the Celestial Kingdom. The very heart of the baptism by fire is the partaking of the sacrament.  Without that weekly recommitment we can't be renewed. So yeah, make sure when you go to sacrament meeting you've spiritually prepared to have a spiritual experience. I'll end on a quote from my MTC branch president. "If you truly knew how sacred and significant the sacrament is, you'd be willing to crawl on your hands and knees all the way to church just to partake of it."

 I love ya'll!

 Christmas sweater vest from Grandma...

Monday, December 21, 2015

Getting ready for Christmas

We've really enjoyed the 12 days of Christmas! And don't worry, Elder Andersen has put your sticky notes to great use. Personally, the pop tarts have been my favorite so far. We've had fun taking turns reading the stories out loud too.

Fun stuff is happening in Danville! On Monday one of our investigators quit smoking, and hasn't smoked since. He used the stop smoking program we have, so I now I know for a fact it works. Next month he'll be baptized with his wife and they want to be sealed in the temple a year later. We've got another investigator named Jonny getting baptized on Saturday.  He'll be going to the temple soon to do baptisms for the dead for his father who recently passed away, and we have another investigator who really wants to be baptized. She just struggles with Word of Wisdom addictions. So yeah, missionary work is going pretty good!

Elder Everett pretty much cooks all of our food now, which I don't complain at all about.  He's sort of teaching me how to cook. We've been baking a lot of goodies and taking them out to less actives and investigators. The three of us are having a lot of fun together, always someone to pick on.

Can you thank everyone for all the packages? Let Grandma know she'll be getting a great picture of me in the sweater she sent me. I've been so incredibly busy lately, even on P-day.  I wish I could write everyone, but I just don't have time.

Oh yeah, Elder Everett has been teaching me how to sing Rudolf the Red Nosed Reindeer in Inupiat. He's pretty fluent in it so it's been fun.

Welp, I'll tell you more details about me life on Friday! (Christmas day is one of the two days during the year we get to talk to Sam.  We'll have a Facebook video call from him.) I don't take pictures very often so here are some old ones I don't think I've sent yet.

Monday, December 14, 2015

A New Companion

I really like the tree and ornaments! I enjoyed reading all the notes, but I didn't recognize a lot of the names. I particularly enjoyed Brett Bateman's.

So our new companion is Elder Everett from Alaska. He grew up way up in the arctic about 23 miles north of Nome in a little village called Catsabu. (Yes he grew up in a village). He's pretty chill, and super easy to train so thats nice. I really enjoy him and he's pretty funny; probably my favorite companion so far. Also he speaks Inupiac. (Not sure how to spell that but it's the language all the Eskimos speak.)

So we have a new neighbor.  His name is Billy and he's crazy southern.  We've been helping him move in and he offered to let us use one of his spare Christmas trees since we didn't have one. So we took the offer and set it up and then the next day we woke up and all smelled like cigarettes and something that's hard to describe. Like all true southeners Billy is a heavy smoker.  Anyway, I sprayed Febreeze on it, and that made the smell ten times worse because the tree was now wet. So I sprayed some of my Old Spice spray on it and that was really, really bad. We ended up sticking the tree outside for a few days and sprayed it with disinfectant so now most of the smell is gone. BTW I love my new tie!!!!!!!

This week we've just kinda been helping Elder Everett get adjusted and teaching a few investigators how to stop smoking.  That's been rough but we're making some serious progress. We've also got another investigator that's getting baptized in a week or so.  He's been the easiest person to teach. We just ask him to read and pray and he does everything we ask. He's coming to church actively too and is also getting a lot of fellowship from the ward members.

The ward has been treating us good. We had a ward Christmas party and we were the three wisemen. (photo attached)

I'm super happy here and really excited for Christmas! We're going over to the C's on Christmas and the M's on Christmas Eve so I'm pretty stoked. Being in a trio is awesome and crazy fun, never a dull moment. I love and miss ya'll,


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Staying in Danville

Hey ya'll! It's nice to hear from you. I love getting emails!

So I'm not getting transferred. Me and Elder Andersen are training a new missionary together which means I'm hitting my 6 month mark in Danville. Freakin 6 months, can you believe it!? But I'm so excited to be in a trio. That's gonna be a blast! 
We've just got to figure out how to fit all of us in our tiny house.....

Things are going pretty smoothly here. We've got another investigator getting baptized in a few weeks, and he's getting a lot of support from the ward which is awesome. And we have another couple we're teaching who's progressing pretty well, although they couldn't come to church on Sunday because there was a shooting by their house that night and they took off and stayed with some friends. Pretty crazy place Danville is...

Today we went mountain biking as a district. We've got some really nice mountain bike trails here in Danville so that was super fun! The only person getting transferred from our district is our district leader Elder Greenwood, so its nice we'll still all be together.

I'm getting pretty excited for Christmas. The C's signed up to have us over so that's gonna be fun; they're a really nice family. We've been showing the church's new video 'A Savior is Born' a lot to the people we come across. If you haven't watched it yet make sure you do! (Here's the website if you'd like to watch it:

I finished the Book of Matthew this morning. I think the New Testament is probably my favorite set of scriptures right now. I'm a little more than halfway through Jesus the Christ, but I haven't been reading it much lately. I also read a really good talk from Neil A. Maxwell about revelations yet to come. He talked about the sealed portion of the Book of Mormon and the records of the lost tribes of Israel. Really cool stuff. 

Write again soon!


Mountain biking with Sam as photographer

Monday, November 30, 2015


Glad to hear ya'll had a nice thanksgiving!

Had a funny experience the other day. We were volunteering at a food drive and before they handed out the food a preacher got up there and gave a sermon and everyone was yelling 'amen' and 'praise the Lord'.  It was a classic southern baptist sermon/ football pump up. One of our investigators was in the crowd and when the preacher said "ya'll need to come to my church and be be baptized!" everyone yelled "amen!" except our investigator yelled out "When I get saved, Earnest is gonna baptize me!" It was pretty funny.

Thanksgiving was fun! We spent it with three of the girls from the YSA branch. Sister Johnson taught us all how to cook and we had a great dinner! But the Tuesday and Wednesday before we had Thanksgiving dinner with two other families that had to have it on those days because of work so I got a ton of food last week. 
Oh, and this week we met a man who claimed to be a prophet and said he started levitating the other day. The weird thing was he was a totally chill dude, and just slipped that into our conversation totally casually.
This week has been pretty good. We've got a few new investigators I'm pretty excited about and the ward is doing really well welcoming and reaching out to our recent convert that got baptized a few weeks ago.

I miss ya'll a ton and can't wait to hear from ya'll soon!

Monday, November 23, 2015

Helping those in need

I had the neatest experience last night. We were meeting with these people we are teaching and they were showing us how they literally have no food. Like they were gonna eat ice cubes and bacon for dinner and then that's all the food they had for the next 2 weeks. I wanted to start crying at the extent of their poverty, it was terrible. So we told them we'd keep an eye out for any canned goods and went to go see Brother M.  Somehow we ended up on the subject of the family we just saw and when the M's found out they needed food they jumped up and started stuffing their pantry into bags for us to take to this family. The M's themselves don't have much, and I was just amazed at their willingness to jump to the aid of people they'd never even met. We ended up delivering a ham, a full turkey, a ton of canned goods, and some assorted deer meat to this family. It was like one of the coolest things ever.

We had stake conference this week and I sat behind Orson Scott Card. Afterwards I said hello and complimented him on the artwork he chose for our stake center. This building has art in every room and all over the hallways and it's really cool. I guess the stake president asked him to pick it out when they got it and there's a ton of really neat pieces here.

Today we went ice skating as a zone in Greensboro. It was pretty fun, and afterwards we went to the church and played b ball.  Other than that it's been a pretty regular week. Just visiting a ton of people and we gave a few blessings too. Lots of people are getting pretty sick here.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Feeling at home

So, yeah, the baptism was pretty rad. There weren't a ton of people there, but it was still a really nice service. Sienna's boyfriend and mother (who are both fixin' to get baptized themselves) said the opening and closing prayers and she had the bishop baptize her. The next morning I got a text from her mom saying they wouldn't make it for church and I was pretty scared because she was supposed to be confirmed in sacrament and it would have been really weird to tell my district and zone leaders we had a baptism but no confirmation this week. But then Sienna texted us saying she still wanted to come to church, she just needed a ride. I'm glad she has the desire to come to church even if her mom isn't going, that shows some real conversion which makes me happy.

We also had a zone conference on Friday all about the Sabbath. It amazes me how keeping the Sabbath day holy is one of the basic ten commandments, yet society as a whole doesn't really even pay attention to it. Like it's right up there next to 'thou shalt not kill' and 'thou shalt not commit adultery'. Anyways, the conference was super
good! I learned a ton and was reminded of my schooling days and how when I strived to not do any homework on the Sabbath and used it as a day of rest and worship, the rest of my week went WAY smoother.

This week has been really weird. I'm starting to feel like I'm at home in Danville, but let me explain because it's not in the way you'd think. So my companion is from Oregon which is nice because he knows what voodoo donuts is and where all the places I talk about back home are. Then at zone conference, one of the ladies serving us lunch asked where I was from, I told her Oregon, and she asked what part. I never know how to answer that because no one knows where Redmond is and only like 2 people know where Bend is. So I start to say Central Oregon and she says "like Prineville?" I almost starting laughing at the fact I've been asking everyone if they know where Bend is for the past few weeks, but this lady knows where Prineville is. I guess her son served part of his mission in Prineville like 20 years ago. A few weeks ago I was talking to one of the missionaries at mission conference and he asked where I was from and I told him Oregon and he said "do you know Emily Capson?" I guess his college room mate dated her or something, but still that was super weird. I met Danford's dad in Casswell a few months back and then on Friday some lady came up to me at the stake center (where I saw Orson Scott Card in person!!!!!!) (*he's in my stake BTW but I didn't get a chance to talk to him I just saw him and instantly recognized him) and told me she knows my grandparents and started talking about Grandma Ann. (Her name was Wendy Hughs). So yeah all that's been going on and I feel like tons of people here know me. Then I get this email from Shae Wilcox Saturday morning:

"Sam! Are you in Danville, Virginia? 'Cause I'm here right now!!! I know you won't see this till Monday and even if you could there's probs nothing you could do, but isn't that cool we are in the same city?!?! We are going to play Averett right now!"

What the heck!? I don't even feel like I'm away from home, which is good I guess, but really weird. (Averett is a private College in Danville)

Alright I hope that was detailed enough. Really most of my week was just spent planning for the baptism so not a whole lot going on. Alright, Brother Hales is taking us out to dinner so I've got to go,

Love ya,

Monday, November 9, 2015

Having a baptism!

So this week we had to get our car towed out of the mud, our investigators cat got run over, and there was a double homicide stabbing a few streets over from us! Good ol' Danville. Saturday night the Sister missionaries called to tell us President is moving both of them to High Point, so now Elder Andersen and I are the only missionaries in Danville. It'll be weird without the Sisters here, but I'm pretty happy we're full car going into the cold weather. With them leaving it also means we get all their investigators so we now have 23 investigators to teach at least once a week. In case ya'll don't realize it, that's a flippin ton.

It looks like we're having a baptism this Saturday! I'm super excited for that, especially since I found, taught, and will probably baptize this girl from start to finish. We met her and her mom in September, the mom wants to be baptized too.

Zone meeting was last week, and Zone conference is this week. We found out that instead of having interviews every other transfer, President Alexander wants to have them every transfer. I can tell President really cares a lot about each of his individual missionaries. He's also more of a spirit of the law as opposed to letter of the law kind
of President so I like him a lot.

This week I've been going through identifying all the writers of the books from the Bible and Book of Mormon, and then finding passages of scriptures where they testify they've seen Christ. In preach my gospel it explains the reason the Book of Mormon is another testament of Christ is because the four main authors (Nephi, Jacob, Mormon, and Moroni) all saw either the pre mortal or resurrected Christ. So that's been fun and time consuming to study since I'm looking for specific scriptures in all their writings. I've finished identifying and finding scriptures for all the Book of Mormon authors and now I'm onto New Testament authors. I already found John and Peter's, but I've got a few more to go.


Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Hey Mom! 

I spent my Halloween playing board games and eating candy with Elder Andersen, very exciting.   We had to be in by 6. We didn't get any trick or treaters though, I guess parents don't want their kids in our neighborhood. 

Our investigators are still progressing. They missed church yesterday which means their baptism date had to be pushed back a week. But that's okay, it just means they get more time to prepare. We've met a few new people this week, but no one super solid. The best thing that happened this week was probably the ward Halloween activity. There were a ton of people there, like more than probably show up to church, and it was nice just to relax and talk to people. 

I've been cooking a lot of chicken this week, I'm getting pretty good at that. Haven't made anything bad yet so that's nice! After yesterday I now feel your pain of preparing dinner on fast Sunday, that sucked.

Today we went and played Ping Pong in Eden with our district.  We have a zone meeting in Greensboro on Friday so that should be fun! Other than that it's been pretty dull around here - a lot of raining and biking. 

I really enjoyed the Halloween pictures ya'll sent me. Even though I can use Facebook, I can't see anyone's newsfeed from back home so I really enjoy getting random pictures of what's going on through out the week. 

Well I guess I'll write again next week! I love you mom and miss you a ton!


Sunday, November 1, 2015

Claiborne Street

My new companion is Elder Andersen. He's from Eugene, Oregon and has been out a transfer longer than me, which means since he doesn't know the area I'm driving and kinda have to lead the companionship, which has been a bit stressful, but it's all good. My MTC companion is training this transfer so I really shouldn't complain. I definitely miss Elder Clarke. He's now a district leader with one of my MTC homies, but me and Elder Andersen get along pretty well. 

Fall is definitely here. The trees are super colorful!  I miss Oregon so much...I think the thing I miss the most is just being a normal person: wearing actual clothes, listening to good music, hanging out with friends, that kind of stuff. I feel like I've been kicked out of society

Lately I've become super grateful for the plan of salvation. The knowledge of who I am, where I came from before this life and where I'm going after this life, brings so much joy, comfort, and purpose to my life. It's such a blessing to have that knowledge, and share it with others.

The way we found our investigators that are getting baptized is kind of a cool story. We were talking with a less active woman on her porch and reading in Alma 13 about how angels are preparing people in every land to hear the gospel.  Then this mom and her daughter come walking along and the less active member yells at them "Hey! Get up here and listen to these boys!".  She's great for referrals for that exact reason. Anyway, they come up to the porch, we teach them, they're totally prepared to hear our message and are super accepting of it, so we set up a time to come to their home and teach them. So we teach them for a few weeks, and then the bishop and his family invited them for dinner at their home. Other than them we were really struggling to find people to teach that are ready to progress, so that night I said a prayer asking that we could just find one person the next day that's ready to progress towards baptism. A couple of hours before the dinner they called us up and asked if the daughter could bring her boyfriend. He ended up coming and is super solid and reads the Book of Mormon all on his own and everything. The Lord answers prayers. Now because of that one less active member's referral we're teaching the mom, daughter, daughter's boyfriend, daughter's sister and sister's family, daughter's sister's brother-in-law and his family, and the whole lower block of Claiborne street because that's where the sister lives and everyone in the neighborhood is always at her home. So yeah, give your missionaries referrals cause it makes us super happy!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Elder Kopischke visits NC

Hey Ya'll!!!

Sadly Elder Clarke did not survive transfers. He's packing as I type. Pretty sad to be losing him, we were pretty tight, but I'm also excited to see who my new companion is.

Highlight of my week: Elder Kopischke of the first qurom of the seventy was at mission conference!!!!! He's spoken in General Conference a few times and is such a cool guy. He's from Germany and knows a ton about the gospel. He started out by talking to us about listening to the promptings of the Spirit, and then just opened it up for questions. For four or five hours we just asked him whatever questions we wanted, it was so cool. I asked him what are the best things we should be studying. He told me to study The Book Of Mormon, The Four Gospels, The Pearl of Great Price, and The book of Acts in that order. He also talked about the cycle of faith using Alma 32:27-29. He explained that faith is a principal of action and power. We have to do all we can to act on our faith  or the action side, and then God takes care of the Power side and that's when we see the miracles happen. He said we're really only responsible for the things we can control. Sometimes, especially as missionaries, we feel guilty for things we can't control, but we shouldn't at all. We just have to focus on the things we can control and trust God for the rest.

After the conference President Alexander selected a few missionaries to interview with Elder Kopischke, Elder  Clarke was one of them. I sat in the hall while they interviewed and got to talk to Sister Alexander for a bit. Turns out she has some family in Newburg! It was nice to get to know her a bit more, she's so kind and loving and is just filled with charity for everyone.

So yeah, that was super fun! We also have three super solid investigators, Ivan, Holly, and Siena. They came to church yesterday and are progressing really well and are on date for baptism on the 7th of November so we're super excited for them!

So it looks like I'll be in Danville for the next six weeks! I'm pretty happy, there's a lot going on here as far as missionary work and I'm making pretty good friends with some of the ward members. I love you and let me know if I can doing anything for ya'll!

Elder Earnest

An excerpt from Grandma's letter:

So I'm not sure if I mentioned it it in my weekly email home, but a few weeks ago we had a huge mission conference all about family history and the spirit of Elijah. Our mission president's son-in-law works for the church's Family History Department, and he was there and gave a great training on how we can use family history as a missionary finding tool and also trained us using family search. I have the family search app on my ipad and have been doing a bit of family history work lately. Most of the work is done on all sides of my family, but I was able to search through some records and attach someone to their wife so that was pretty cool! At that huge conference they said something I thought was cool. They said the Spirit of Elijah can usually be felt a lot faster than the Spirit of the Book of Mormon, so if people aren't interested in the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, they might be interested in family history and that can lead to the gospel. So that's been a big focus in our mission the last few weeks. 

Elder Earnest and President Alexander

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Families are forever

Hey ya'll,

Glad to hear everything is swell in Redmond.  I'm so jealous you got to go to the temple! I wish there was a Charlotte North Carolina temple.

We've been teaching a mother and daughter that live in our neighborhood this week. They both want to get baptized, which is awesome, we just need them to come to church.  Anyways, the daughter called us Sunday afternoon and told us her sister wants to meet with us now and wants to be baptized into our church.  We went and met them, there was some crazy junk going on in that neighborhood so we didn't stick around long, but they seem super nice and we're super excited to teach them!

We ran into a couple while we were looking through a list of perspective elders. They weren't really buying the church's stance on some issues so it was awkward and we didn't really know what else to share with them.  Elder Clarke told me he was trying to think of something to say to get us out of there, then I just randomly asked this guy if he'd done any family history before and we ended up having a hour long conversation on family history and If they're not interested in religion you can usually get em' with family history.

I've been studying the Book of Mormon a lot lately. I did a really deep study of Nephi's vision in 1 Nephi chapters 11-15. There's a lot of really cool stuff in there. I've also been reading parts of Isaiah that talk about the grea
t apostasy and the restoration and the last days. Basically I'm just trying to deepen my testimony of the restoration and the need for Christ's gospel to be restored to the earth.

So far I think my favorite part of my mission has been studies. It's so nice to sit and read form the scriptures for 3 hours a day. I've learned a ton! I'm gonna try and read all the standard works before I hit my year mark. Speaking of which, next week is the last week of the transfer! I can't believe how fast time is going!!!! I don't think I'm going to get transferred though, and we're hoping Elder Clarke is going to stay too.

I was talking to a member the other day that recently moved here from Utah. He said on the first day of school, his kids came home really confused. They said all the other kids at school were asking them who they lived with.  They couldn't understand that some kids still live with both their mom and their dad. It's so sad how much the family has been degraded in the past few years. I've been in and out of many homes here and it's rare that you find a family with a married mom and dad and kids. It's so sad. I'm so grateful for my family and even more grateful I can be with them for time and all eternity. I'm so grateful the priesthood has been restored so that families can be bound both in heaven and on earth and that marriages are not "till death do you part" but are "for time and all eternity". God's plan for us is perfect, and it's centered around the family and the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of my favorite chapters in the Book of Mormon is 2 Nephi 9. It talks all about God's plan for us and why we're on this earth and what we need to focus on while we're here. Great stuff, I'd invite ya'll to read over it when you get a chance.

Anyways, thanks for writing to me! I like to hear about what's going on at home in ya'lls letters. It's not so much what's in the letters, just that you write them to me. I love reading them so keep sending them I'll try to send more letters to the kids! Till next week,

Elder Earnest

Making use of his Eagle Crest golf course maintenance experience.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

General Conference is awesome!

Fishing was a bust. It rained the whole time and I didn't catch any fish.

General Conference is awesome as a missionary!!! We watched all five sessions at the church and I've got about 6 pages of notes. It was really weird that they all started at 12 instead of 9. I learned a ton though. I'm not sure if anyone else noticed, but I'm starting to get the feeling we need to be keeping the Sabbath day holy. A couple other key things I took out of it were that we should pray and ask the Lord each night what we need to be improving on. Ask what's keeping us from progressing and then listen to the Holy Ghost. It will speak in your mind and your heart and give specific customized answers. I realized the importance of living worthy of a temple recommend and keeping ourselves pure and unspotted from the world. This way we can have the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. The biggest thing I took away is that we need to be patient and trusting of the Lord. It seems to me that we express our faith by trusting the Lord and trusting that as we do as he says, everything will turn out all right. When we pray, we ask what we can do to better follow Him and align our will with His. Then we listen to his guidance and follow through and trust it will all work out. I'm so grateful for the blessings that come from having modern day prophets and apostles that receive revelation specific to us in our time. Before conference started I had six questions written down referring to what I wanted to learn about during conference. All six questions were answered and a few very specifically. The Lord has not left us alone in these days. He has restored His gospel and called a modern day prophet to lead and guide us and when we adhere to His message, we cannot go astray. 

That's exciting ya'll are reading the Book of Mormon together again! As for why Laman and Lemuel went astray even after seeing an angel, I think of the quote from the Bible dictionary relating to faith: "Miracles do not produce faith, but strong faith is developed by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ; in other words, faith comes by righteousness, although miracles often confirm one's faith." So even though they saw an angel, which should confirm one's testimony just as much as any miracle would, they weren't being obedient and diligently following Jesus Christ. I think of the verse in the 2nd chapter of James that states "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble." It's not enough to believe in Christ, you must act on that belief. Laman and Lemuel were not acting on that belief, or after the angel appeared, knowledge. If we're not acting and trying to improve ourselves because of our faith what good is it to have faith at all? "Even so faith, if it has not works, is dead..."

It's been raining a ton here. That hurricane brought lots of rain and wind our way. At one point they thought it was going to come through Danville, but we got lucky and it didn't. Because of general conference, an exchange to Eden, and a mission conference, we didn't teach a whole lot last week, but we're looking to get back at it this week!  Love and miss you so much! 

Elder Earnest  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Answering Mom's questions...

Hey Mom,

It's been raining all week. Luckily we had the car this week so we didn't have to ride in the rain.

The lady that's been teaching us how to cook is Sister J.  We're actually going to her house tonight and she's teaching us how to make a special pasta. Also, she makes really good Nutella cupcakes.

I have a new favorite general conference talk. Next time ya'll drive out to Madras as a family listen to "Know Thyself, Control Thyself, Give Thyself" by Paul H Dunn. It's the best general conference talk I've ever heard, but listen to it, don't read it. The way he speaks is great. It's from priesthood session from April 1972.

Right now we're teaching a kid named J who's trying to stop smoking. He was a previous investigator that used to meet with missionaries and stopped. The first time we met him his grandma came at us with a ton of anti mormon stuff and we just testified what we knew to be true and the spirit really softened her heart. There's been a few times where I start bearing testimony, and the spirit has just been so strong. I love it.

The Tubbs family in our ward has been really kind to us. They always have us over for dinner and are super nice. Also, Brother Hales is awesome. He drives us to meetings all the time and bakes us treats a lot too!

This week I learned how important the Book of Mormon is for one's conversion. If we don't have a strong testimony of the Book of Mormon, we really don't have a testimony of the church we belong to. The Book of Mormon is just as important as the Bible. In fact, without the Bible, the Book of Mormon would lose most of it's purpose. I've heard it explained that the Bible is the tool and the Book of Mormon is the instructions for the tool. I'm not really sure if I fully like that analogy, but you get the point. If the Bible was really all the instruction we needed, than we wouldn't have hundreds of different Christian churches teaching different doctrines. "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5). The reason the Book of Mormon is so important is that if the Book of Mormon is true, then Joseph Smith was a prophet, and if Joseph Smith was a prophet, then Christ's priesthood
has been restored and Christ's one true church is again on the earth today. If not, then our whole church is false. It really comes down to if the Book of Mormon is what it claims to be, or if it's false. And the only real way to figure out whether or not it's true is by reading it, thinking about the message it contains, and then praying and asking God if it's true. Once we ask we need to pay attention to the feelings and impressions the Holy Ghost gives us. "By the power of the Holy Ghost you may know the truth of all things."

I'm feeling pretty healthy I guess? I haven't passed out so that's good. I've slowed  down on losing weight, but I still weigh 15 lbs less than I did three months ago, and I didn't weigh that much to start with. For P-Day today we're going bass fishing with a member and I'm super excited!!!!!! 

Okay, I gotta go fishing, but I'll send you pics when I get back!

I love you mom!!!
Elder Earnest

Monday, September 28, 2015

Short but sweet

This week we had interviews with President Alexander. He talked to me about improving my studies so I can become a better teacher. He also let me ask him any questions I wanted, so I asked him about something I've been studying a bit lately. I don't want to get into too much detail, but if you want to study some pretty cool keys of the Aaronic Priesthood, look into the keys to the ministering of Angels. President Alexander had some neat insights, it's definitely an under-used power of the priesthood. I've really been studying the priesthood a lot lately. I don't think we really fully appreciate and understand the honor and privilege it is to have the priesthood bestowed upon us and I think a way to better appreciate it, is to better understand it.

We also had a ward picnic, and lots of people brought non member friends, which was great for us. We taught quite a few people and have a couple new investigators from it. I'm really starting to like our ward here. The people are really friendly, and there are a couple of families that are stellar at member missionary work.

I wish you taught me a little more about cooking before I left (side note:  I tried, but he had no interest!), but don't worry because we have a sister in our ward that invites us over for dinner about once a week and shows us how to make the meal we're having.

Well, it sounds like ya'll are doing great in Redmond. Let me know if I can do anything for you and sorry again I didn't write enough last week. Also let me know if you have any questions about what going on with me because sometimes its hard to know what to write. I love you and miss you a ton! Hope to hear from you again soon,

Elder Earnest

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Missionary work in the Bible belt

This was my first full week on the bikes. Not my favorite mode of transportation, but whatevs. Since we were on the bikes we didn't get to teach as many lessons as hoped for, but we had a couple of really good ones. We had the chance to teach an investigator about the gospel of Jesus Christ in a members home and also had the ward's former bishop, Bishop Mullins, come teach our progressing investigator, Josh, who's on date for baptism in a few weeks. The quality of lessons is more important than the quantity. Speaking of which, Mattie was asking if we have many investigators and if it's hard to find people to teach. Finding people to teach is literally so easy, finding people that are ready to accept the message is not so easy. I can literally walk down the skreet (that's how it's pronounced here) and every other house will have people sitting on the front porch. All I have to do is walk up to them and ask if they believe in Jesus Christ and I'm pretty much guaranteed a thirty minute lesson with them, in which we can teach and most likely be taught. People here are so religious and absolutely LOVE Jesus. Just not all of them are ready for the fullness of the Gospel. 

In other news, my banjo playing skills have won the heart of our high priest group leader.  He had us over for dinner the other day and let me play his guitar. He's in a bluegrass band and plays just about every bluegrass instrument. He also really likes the Civil War and watches Turn so we had a lot to talk about. That Civil War class I took last fall has really come into good use here. 

I'm not really sure what else to tell y'all about my week here. It's been fairly slow but it's still been pretty fun. Even when there's not much fun going on, we just make it fun. I'm sad I missed the first football game of the season! I feel like I should be in school right now, it's weird. 

One other thought. I've realized pretty quick that if you're going to be a Christian missionary in the Bible belt, you need to know the Bible REALLY well. So I've been really diving into the New Testament and I love it. Such good scripture in there! 

Hope all is well back home. Did y'all get the letters I sent you? I'm super jealous of Mattie and Lauren's new seminary teacher! (Side note:  Included for Leah Wilcox's benefit!)

Anyways let me know if there's anything else y'all want to know about what's going on here! I wish I could email each of you individually, but that's why I've been writing letters in my free time. I love y'all!

Elder Earnest

Also, an excerpt from Elder Earnest's letter to his Dad:

I think my new favorite talk is Elder Holland's High Priest of Good Things to Come. Since you sent it to me I've listened to it two or three times and read over it a couple more. Something I'm starting to realize, mostly from reading Jesus the Christ, is that Jesus was a man just like us. Obviously He was much much greater than us, but He had a mortal, human side and still felt the same trials and temptations we do. For a long time I seemed to think it was easy for Him just because He was Christ, but it wasn't until a few days ago I really started to grasp the fact that He truly was human, and that's what made Him so great. I'm sure most people already understand this, but I just marvel at the fact that His physical human state was the same as mine and it would have been just as easy for Him to sin as it is for me. I'm having trouble putting it into words, but what I'm getting at is my appreciation and absolute awe for the Savior has increased tenfold. Jesus the Christ is my favorite thing to read right now because it's teaching me so many things I never realized. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Breaking and entering

Hey Ya'll. 

 "4 Wherefore, whoso believeth in God might with surety hope for a better world, yea, even a place at the right hand of God, which hope cometh of faith, maketh an anchor to the souls of men, which would make them sure and steadfast, always abounding in good works, being led to glorify God."  Ether 12:4

I love this idea that if we just have hope in God, it turns to faith and when we exercise that faith it becomes an anchor to us. Even though life gets really rough and hard, as long as we anchor ourselves in Christ and live a Christ-centered life, everything will be alright. There's really nothing to worry about because in the end Christ has our back. I love the line in the Hymn 'I Believe in Christ' that says "I believe in Christ, so come what may." God rarely does what's easiest for us, but he'll always do what's best for us and if we just live the gospel of Jesus Christ (faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) our burdens are lightened, and life is good. 

Speaking of life being good, this week I was chased by a pitbull, met a lady who claimed she was the resurrected Christ, and had someone try and break into to my house. Pretty normal week....

At 3 AM this morning I was awoken by a pounding at our front door. It was like a violent pounding and super loud. I was really confused why someone was 'knocking' on our door at 3 AM and pretty freaked out. I just kinda pulled my blanket up over my head and waited for it to stop, but the person (aka Sasquatch) kept pounding on our door. Then they started turning the door knob back and forth like they were trying to get in. At this point my companion was also awake and I was like "what do we do?" and he was like "I'm calling the cops." So he calls 911 because some insane person is pounding on our front door and violently twisting and turning our door knob. He told me later the lady on the other end of the line told him they had a unit on Claiborne, Washington, and 3rd ave which all are right next to our house, basically they've got a ton of cops patrolling our neighborhood every night cause it's super sketchy, so it only took like two seconds and then there were eight cops and three or four cop cars in our front lawn. Sometime between when we called 911 and the cops showed up the person stopped knocking and left our door step. As we told the police officer on our door step what was going on, I noticed that for some reason our car's lights were on and that two other cops were talking to these people in a truck right up the street from us. The people in the truck were our neighbors, a crazy old lady named Sister Crochier who goes to church with us and some other weirdo that lives with her. The two cops talking with our neighbors come over and tell us that Sister Crochier noticed our car light was on and wanted to let us know so that our car wouldn't be dead in the morning. I'm baffled as to why she chose to do this at 3 in the morning and even more confused, and slightly concerned, at the fact she tried to open our front door. Long story short, someone tried to break into our house so we called the cops and it turned out to be Sister Crochier telling us our car light was on.

We also have a stalker named Berna. She's an insane old woman who thinks she's the messiah, speaks in tongues to birds, and can read palms. She was a referral from a minister we talk with sometimes, and I'm pretty convinced he set us up. This lady calls us about 30 times a day and sends us really creepy text messages. Also she saw a demon at Walmart. 

To say this week has been interesting is a bit of an understatement, but we've also been super blessed and have more people to teach than we have time for! One of our investigators is on date for baptism and another one is getting pretty close. It's very exciting. 

I went on an exchange to Caswell this week (and got chased by a dog that probably weighs twice my weight)  and met Brother Batten! (Note:  Brother Batten is Sam's uncle's father who lives in North Carolina.)  He gave us a ride to district meeting, very nice guy.

I'm on my way out to Eden to go fishing for a district activity, but I hope ya'll have a great week and keep writing to me! Love ya'll! 

Elder Earnest