Monday, January 26, 2015

Temple Trip - Elder Kolby Madsen

Written by Elder Kolby Madsen, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Danish.

Elders Madsen, Child, Ogden and Ma**
I have one transfer left and we find out about transfers next week. I am praying I stay in Slagelse.  I don’t want to move for my last transfer, but the Lord knows best. In my interview with President, he asked me if I would be willing to stay and I told him, "Of course." Then he asked if there's anything that he can do for me, and I just said to continue to follow the Spirit because as much as I love Slagelse and the people here, I also know the Lord knows best. I am willing to go where ever he wants to me. I have no reason to be selfish. The Lord has given me so much from start to finish. I know he will do what is best for His work!

The temple was so great.  We had N** and Ma** in the temple for their first time this week.  It was a great experience and so much fun. Both N** and Ma** had their own family names to take.  They both were baptized for their grandmas.  It was great to see that through their own conversion they have been able to give their family that same opportunity to make the covenants of baptism and continue to progress. N** loved it so much that she said she wants to see the rest of the temple.  Her year mark (after being baptized herself) is the 15th of March, so it would be awesome if she went and received her endowment before I left.  That would be great.  We will see how it goes.

Another great thing that happened this week is that we were able to meet with G**.  He was still sick and does not find out about the results from the scan until the first weekend in February. So slow.  It's too bad, but that's the system and they take care of him, so that is good. We have to wait until he finds out about the scan before he will commit to a baptism date. He did say, however, that he has a stronger testimony of Joseph Smith, which he had a huge problem with before. So that is  great!

Things are just trucking along. The Lord’s work is hastening and it's beautiful. We had a great time with H** this week. He taught me how to work with the electrical system here in Denmark because it's way different than at home. He taught me how to fix lights, gave me a test, and I did it right. It's good because I have had so many people ask if we know how to work with the lights, and we've had to say no. So now I know! The things you learn on a mission, haha.

Nig, ÆLdste Ogden, Natascha, Stefan (Denmark’s
champion boxer in his weight class. Great guy
and a great missionary!)
Well, we were talking to Jo** and he was talking to bishop. We had set a date to go through the temple with him for the first time in a while, then he asked bishop if he could receive his endowments! So they are in the process of that!!! It would be great if we could go with him.

It's great seeing people come closer to Christ through baptism, and even greater to see those same people taking the steps to go to the temple and make more covenants and continue to move forward. It’s the next step and it helps with activity in the church. It's a great focus and is bringing people closer to God through Jesus Christ. There is no better way to do that than to make and keep covenants!

Med Kærlig Hilsen,

Ældste Madsen

Accelerate the Work (January 19, 2015)

I Am Not Trunky  (February 2, 2015)

Our group at the temple in Copenhagen, Denmark

Beans, Water Balloons, and Old Folks - Elder Jacob Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Our bean patch
This week, I'm sooooo reaaaddyyy to see some real progress. I feel like people are just playing us because they feel bad watching us walk around all day.

We're working with Pe**, the fisherman, still. He has like 15 siblings and 11 of them are members of the church. I have no idea what they're all doing, or why it takes two full time missionaries to help him find out the church is true, but I'm glad for the opportunity to help out. His wife and kids are good and listen sometimes. I just don't get why they want to be friends with us, but then leave the room when we start the lesson...

Water balloon fight with the ninos!
J** and D** are also coming along, but then their daughter's ex-partner got put in the hospital so they had to help him out. They didn't get to the church on Sunday, but this Tuesday we're taking them on a tour and hopefully committing them to baptism. Woo! J** got his pancreas operated on and shows us his scar occasionally. It's very scary.

Oh, cool story with J**. There's a super old member who was branch president when J**'s uncle was still alive. J**'s uncle was a member of our church and had the same problem that J** has, where he works in a meat shop on Sunday instead of going to church. The old branch president said that he promised J**'s uncle that God would help him if he didn't work on Sunday. So the uncle put God to the test, and never missed a Sunday until he died.

Well, we also did service for an old folk's home. I just can't wait until I'm an old folk and try to remember how funny I thought the elderly people are. My group also took out a bean patch, then we tilled it to put in new beans. It was a lot of work, but I feel pretty good about it.

We did a ward activity and had a water balloon fight. At the end, the kids all went for us. It really came down to every missionary for himself. The kids had a blast though. They'll remember that for the rest of their lives.

Being a district leader is a super tough job. I feel like I need a district leader to help me out, but then I have the realization that ''I'm my own grandpa.'' I worked with two elders this week, and I'm kind of seeing that they spend too much time talking in the street and too little time talking in the people's houses. Well, we're getting better.

So family, I hope you guys are doing well. I didn't read your emails yet, I'm a little behind :( I love you all though and I'm soooo haaapppyyy to be a missionary. Hannah is probably crying to finish. I love you so much!!

Elder Jake Avery

My District
These Are Your Days (January 19, 2015)

Put the Lord First  (February 2, 2015)

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Feeling 22! - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Sister Hannah Avery (and her mom) in 1993
Hey friends and family!

Well, it's been an extremely FAST week for us! I can't believe I am back writing you all again. Time flies when you are busy! Here is what happened this week:

Well, B** was confirmed a member of the church yesterday and is super happy :) He is a really good kid and is really trying to turn his life around. It's been fun helping him along the way! He will be preparing to receive the Aaronic Priesthood this week we hope!

Al** and Ni**.... well, Al** is in the North working in the mines until Tuesday, so we haven't seen him recently, but we have visited with Ni** and she is doing really great! She said that they know that the church is true, and are working on getting married, but that it is hard for them to accept paying tithing. They said that it's hard just to get by in life, and they feel that giving 10% of their income to the Lord is just another expense. We shared our testimonies of tithing, and she seemed a little more open to the idea now. It's one of those set backs that is easy to fix if they will just try their faith :)

We had a lesson with Ca** this week and she told us that she broke up with her boyfriend. So she officially is living the law of chastity! :) WOOHOO! We just need to schedule a date with her and get her baptized! We are hoping that we can make it happen before the end of this transfer!! Pray for her! :)

Well, other than that, we have just been visiting lots of less active members and trying to find new people to teach! We did have a ward mission activity on Friday and had a movie night. We watched "Ephraim's Rescue" which I haven't ever seen (it came out while I was on the mission) and it was great! I really liked the movie a lot, and how it puts a lot of focus on the faith of people and the power of the priesthood. Really cool movie. If you haven't seen it, go see it!

So.... "I don't know about you, but I'm feeling 22!" this week! (I hope you can hear me singing that for you all, in my best Taylor Swift voice :) I feel crazy old. I came into the mission being 20 years old, and go home being 22.... what in the world?! Thanks to all of you who have sent birthday wishes :) You are the best!!

Okay guys, I hope that you all have a great week! Work hard, pray hard, and remember that you guys have a big role in missionary work too! Go spread the love :) Talk to you soon!

xoxoxoo Hermana Avery

Sister Hannah Avery
Chile Vina del Mar Mission
Happy Birthday!!

Bautismo and Trunky Papers (January 26, 2015)

The Hardest Thing I Ever Loved To Do  (February 2, 2015)

Photos from Elder Remund

Written by Elder Dallin Remund, serving in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

My companion had his birthday and the Spanish
elders from Smithfield and Mount Olive came up.
We went out to another Mexican restaurant and
played some soccer with all of the Hispanics.
Lots of fun!! The blonde elder to my left is
Hayden Parkinson's (from Herriman High) cousin.
We're Spanish elder buddies. He's awesome.
Hey everybody! I am just going to send some pictures today.

Suffice it to say that I am loving Wilson and I'm having some of my most memorable moments of the mission out here. The work is really picking up and we're staying really busy with member work out here. We've got so many referrals to work with right now!

Also! My investigators from Newport News, E** and M** got baptized on Friday. I didn't get to go, but one of my old companions got to baptize M**. I am so excited for them!!

Mucho amor,

Elder Remund

Freezing rain in Wilson a couple weeks
ago. That's right outside the apartment.
Greenie Fire (January 19, 2015)

Exchanges  (February 2, 2015)

We went to a Mexican restaurant where
a couple YSA (young single adult) members
from our ward work. It was some good food.
Me with Elder Jeppesen at a district meeting
in Albertson! (Hayden Parkinson's cousin!)

The view from our front porch in Wilson!

The Amazing Adventures of Elder Burgess

Written by Elder Brian Burgess, serving in the Mexico Puebla North Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.
Our Zone
Hey Y'all,

So this last week I went on divisions with the elders from Teotlalzingo (one of my past areas). It was super nice seeing some of my past investigators and some members.

On Wednesday we had our zone meeting. My companion and I talked about working with members and setting baptismal dates. Fun meeting! I love being with the zone!

My companion is gonna go to BYU after the mission. So on Friday we traveled about 2 hours to the mission offices in Puebla so he could take an English test to help him on getting registered to BYU. It's kinda nice having a companion who speaks English. We are both fluent in Spanglish, sometimes we just talk in Spanish, and then when one of us says an English word we change to English.. And then when we say a Spanish word we switch back to Spanish, etc. ... to the point of not recognizing the language, just being able to understand everything.

We have been working with Ro** (14 year old) who lives by Cacaxtla (Google search Cacaxtla Tlaxcala, it's actually in my area. Haha, I still haven't gone, but one day will) and he is progressing amazingly to his baptism scheduled for February 14th.

Mi** who lives in front of us is also very excited for her baptism on the 14th of February as well. Her mom was baptized when she was 9 years old, and right now she is going back to church. Mi** will be baptized on the 14th! I am so excited for her!

I love every minute that I get to serve. I hope that the time can slow down. But I don't think it will. I love you all so much!

I will attach pictures of the zone and Jack, our dog.... Okay as missionaries we can't have a pet. But he is the landlord´s dog and so he follows anyone who walks out of our house. So we have adopted him as our friend who just likes being with us.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Burgess

Don't Try This at Home (January 19, 2015)

MOLE: Not the animal  (February 2, 2015)

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Transfer News - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

(We shouldn't forget....they are still boys :)
Hey Family and Friends!

Transfer news just arrived, and I will be staying in Ipoh with Elder Li! Ahhhhh! I am so excited, haha :)

This week was the best! And I got a good keyboard today. Here is your weekly update.

Monday we taught J** about the Plan of Salvation. He understood it very well and had great questions. He expressed to us that he wasn't sure if alcohol is bad, and said that the temple seems secretive so he is not sure how he feels about it. While we were teaching him, I told him if he is unsure if alcohol is bad for him, he can ask God and He will tell him. After I said that, J** knocked over his glass beer bottle on accident and it shattered everywhere. He was embarrassed, but he was not too sad because he also had a can of beer. Not too long later, a big gust of wind came and knocked his can over and spilled the beer out. He salvaged some of the beer and put the can back on the bench where we were sitting. Then, God kindly knocked it over one more time so that J** got the message. He left a little freaked out and said that he needs to stop drinking. He was still confused about coffee and tea.

Friday we met with as many members on our branch list as we could find. The list is outdated and home teaching here is practically nonexistent. Hardly anyone answered the doors, and those who did had lived there for a while after those on our list moved. We also stopped by a potential investigator named Mr. C** and he said he would meet with us after church. Before we left he grabbed my **, which was not okay! I had gotten a weird vibe from him before, and Elder Li thought it was in my head. We ended up not meeting with him on Sunday because he failed to show up. Not sure if he is interested in the church or in us...ick! I talked to the other elders and they said stuff like that happens sometimes. They both had some unpleasant stories. Pray for me! I really would hate to punch someone in the face....

Sunday was awesome. Three of our investigators were at church! Our branch attendance was over 100 members, which was so awesome. I think that is a record! We taught J** after church and he is committed to giving up tea. He didn't understand why he is supposed to give it up, but he said he would. After the lesson we gave him a priesthood blessing. After the blessing he told us that he realizes that the coffee and tea feed his addiction to alcohol. The coffee makes him crash, which makes him want to drink alcohol, which makes him thirsty, so he drinks tea. Hopefully he will commit to a baptism date soon.

I** is out of the hospital and found a new place to live. He is scheduled for baptism the 14th. That came out of nowhere! He came to church and is doing soooo awesome :) That was a miracle.


Elder Avery

Miracles (January 19, 2015)

We Are All Broken  (February 2, 2015)

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Greenie Fire - Elder Dallin Remund

Written by Elder Dallin Remund, serving in the Virginia Chesapeake Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Elders Cannon and Remund - Virginia Chesapeake Mission
Helloooo everyone!

I apologize for how long it's been since I last wrote a full email like this to everybody.

I had an incredible week and overall just a great month. This is a great change because the past couple years I was convinced that January was a cursed month that lasted super long. This January, I have been so busy and also really concentrated on setting goals and hitting them.

My New Year's resolution was split up into three broad sections:

-The first is to stay healthier and stay away from ice cream and soda except for on holidays, and to track my workouts.
-The second is to continue to improve my Spanish skills and retain it after the mission. (I've got some other specific goals to help me with that.)
-The third is to improve in diligence. Each day I have a focus, sometimes from Preach My Gospel, sometimes it's physical or simple (like smiling more or staying positive), and then I write about it in my journal that night. I can honestly say this goal has helped me out a ton in missionary work, and it keeps me staying accountable for goals that I hit. I think it's because of this that this month has been flying and that I've been so happy. I have become more aware of my weaknesses, and I am continually realizing there are simple things I can do each day to be a better servant of the Lord.

Missionary work wise, we have been working a lot with the members. We go over to their homes and have a lesson and, at the end, they have a big list of names they are working with and we are finding a lot of work from there. The members in this ward are amazing. All that work should keep us very busy this week.

For those who don't know, I have a new companion (2 weeks ago) named Elder Merkley. He's from Seattle, Washington and he is great. He reminds me of one of my cousins a lot. We get along well and have great unity.

We are going through the '12 Week' program as a mission, so we're getting 'trained' all over again, hence the greenie fire I am displaying in this letter. The fundamentals of Preach My Gospel are inspired and they help us focus on our purpose. It has helped me become a "Preach My Gospel" missionary.

I am incredibly excited for this week. I hope you are doing well.

Con animo,

Elder Remund

Feliz Navidad de Wilson, NC (December 29, 2014)

Photos from Elder Remund  (January 26, 2015)

Monday, January 19, 2015

Bautismo and Trunky Papers - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Hermanas Avery and Moreno - Chile Vina del Mar Mission
Hey family and friends!

Well, we have had a VERY eventful week this week! It went by SUPER fast and well, I have no idea where to begin, but here it goes!

First off, we found two new investigators this week who are AWESOME! One girl is named Ca** and is the girlfriend of a boy in our ward. She is 18 years old and is reading the Book of Mormon, working on her Personal Progress, and praying. She wants to come to church, but her parents won't let her come. She told us last Friday that she wants to talk to her parents this week about letting her go to church without ruining the relationship with them in the meantime. She is amazing, we just need to get the "go-ahead" from her parents so that she can come to church and get baptized! :)

The other girl that we found this week is C**, a referral that we got from our Zone Leaders. We had a heck of a time trying to find her house, but in the end, we found it and she was more than happy to let us in! She has been going to church with her friends in La Serena, which is about an hour from our area here, and has been to church more than eight times! She came to church in our ward yesterday too, and is going awesome! We tried to schedule a baptism date with her for the 1st of February, and she said that she will think about it and let us know :) So, we will see her again this week and (hopefully!) have another baptism soon! :) Please pray for these girls!!

Okay, next, we had Ba**'s baptism yesterday! He was super happy, and was soooo nervous in the font, that when he came up out of the water, he came up really fast and bonked his head on the wall of the font really hard! I was like "OH MY GOSH!! Is he okay?!?!" and he just looked at us and started to laugh....sweet kid. He is totally fine though :) He is doing really well, and even brought his grandma, who is devout Catholic to the baptism and she really liked it! Maybe we will get to teach her soon too :)

So... I had a kind of freaky/scary thing happen to me this week! We were walking in the street on Wednesday afternoon and I looked down at my arm because it started to itch WAY bad all of a sudden. I realized that I had this HUGE bite on my arm. It had a black dot in the middle of it and a big red spot around it. Anyways, I disregarded it, thinking it was a mosquito or something, and kept walking along. Well, by Thursday morning, the bite was about the size of an small egg and had a LONG (like 4-5 inches) line growing out from it that itched WAY bad too! So, I started to get worried, and called our mission nurse, who is 5 hours away in Viña del Mar. She told me to go get antibiotics right away because she said it was possible that I had been bitten by a spider and got blood poisoning from the venom.... I was like, "what the heck is going on?!?!"

We ran to the nearest pharmacy to get medicine. When we got there, the pharmacist looked at my arm and said, "No, this is an allergic reaction to some bug." He told me to take Benadryl and put an ointment cream on the red spots. So, I did that Friday and received a priesthood blessing, and by Saturday morning, it was just a light pink color and MUCH smaller in size. Now, its completely gone :) Anyways, it was scary to me at first, but I'm glad to know it wasn't as bad as our mission nurse thought! :) And, I am not going to lie, that Benadryl made me sleep better than I have my whole mission! haha!

My "trunky papers"
We also had Zone Conference this Wednesday. It was good, and they had me give my "last testimony" to the missionaries. That was a weird feeling. After the conference, the zone leaders handed me a white envelope filled with my "trunky papers," also known as the "you got home soon and need to start packing" papers. Everyone was like, "AWW, Hermana Averrrrrryyyy.... pobrecita"..... hahaha! Yes, poor me, poor me.... I love these people so much haha! (Missionaries use the word "trunky" as a way of referring to packing their bags or "trunks"... getting ready to go home.)

Okay, another crazy story.....we were looking through our area book this week, trying to find some old investigators to teach from other missionaries who were in our area before us. We came across a lady named Bl**, who is about 60 years old and was an investigator for about a year and a half. For some reason the missionaries before us dropped her, but didn't say why. So we decided to go see her and find out why she stopped coming to church, didn't get baptized, etc.

We got to her house, and she let us right in! So, we are thinking, "wow, this lady is getting baptized then! She seems great!" ...WRONG!! We walked in, and she started to tell us about how she likes to meet with the missionaries because she likes to learn more about Jesus, but that she is Evangelist. Then, she started to tell us some really creepy things.... the Spirit totally left the room, and I was getting freaked out!

She told us that after she got baptized in the Evangelist church, she came out of the water and felt like her hands and feet were burning in the same spots as Christ's nail marks in His hands and feet. Then she said that ever since then, she has been able to "heal people" and make miracles happen. She told us that she had risen a baby from the dead, and even told an evil spirit to leave a possessed person's body, and it left through the top of their head "like black smoke."  By then, I was really getting freaked out, so I told her about the power of the priesthood, and how it is received. I explained to her that miracles DO happen and exist, and that people CAN be healed, but only when done by the proper authority. Well, she didn't listen to me.....

So, remember how I told you guys about my arm this week? So, we visited that lady on the day that I was going to get medicine for my arm, and she asked me if she could look at it. I looked at my companion with this horrified face, and she started to freak out too. We were both thinking that she was going to try to heal me! Anyways, she didn't, but she did tell me to go to the doctor, haha. So, no, we aren't going back to her house any time soon. Satan can mimic the real and true things of the Gospel (like priesthood power), and make people think that those fake things are of God, when really they are of Satan....scary stuff!

Okay, last thing for this week! This was a MIRACLE! :) We were walking in the street and I hear, "HERMANA! HERMANA AVERY!" I looked behind me and saw Al** and Ni**!! They are the people we were teaching in Ovalle over a YEAR ago who lived in front of our house! They recently moved here to Tierras Blancas in August, and invited us to come over! They have some plans now to get married, but not a date yet. We are SUPER happy, because maybe this is their chance to get baptized! It is a small world for sure! :)

Well guys, that is all that I can think of for this week! Sorry that this email has been all over the place, but I wanted to tell you everything I could think of :) haha! Anyways, I hope that you have a great week and I will talk to you all next week! I love you!

xoxoxoxo Hermana Avery

Training and "Just Havin' Fun" (January 12, 2015)

I Don't Know About You, But I'm Feeling 22!  (January 26, 2015)

Miracles - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

Baptism in Ipoh, Malaysia
Hi Friends and Family!

This week was awesome, but guess who got a keyboard without the letters again! This guy! This week was enough as far as numbers go, but it was also full of miracles.

We had the honor of teaching a prepared investigator named Jo**. The sister missionaries met him at the bus stop the other day and invited him to our baptism on Wednesday. When he came he smelled of alcohol and was clearly drunk, but he sat through the meeting reverently. After the baptism, he was blown away and said that the elder who performed the baptism was like John the Baptist. He was nearly in tears as he talked about John the Baptist! I don't know if it is because he felt something, or if it was because he was drunk.

He had a lot of questions from the Bible, so the other missionaries asked me to answer his questions. Realizing he had a LOT of hard Bible questions, the sisters decided to pass him off to Elder Li and I. We taught him the next day and were blown away by how well he understood the Restoration. Never in my life have I seen someone so on the edge of their seat in a lesson. He had the best questions, and he really gets it. That never happens here! He said he will read and pray about the Book of Mormon. This guy really seems like someone who has been kept from the truth only because he didn't know where to find it. That was the highlight of my week!

Now, to answer Mom's questions:

1. For our missionary mom's dinner this week, we are celebrating all our kids' birthdays. If you could eat anything for your birthday, what would it be?

ANY meat without bones in it!

2. Is your apartment air conditioned? I just looked up the weather for Ipoh, and it said the high will be 90 and it will rain everyday for the next week!!

We have a little air conditioners in our apartment we can turn on. It feels like Heaven after a day in the heat!

3. Are you just soaked all day, every day? What do you do?!!

Yes, I'm soaked everyday. I don't even worry about bringing a poncho along because I sweat so much that I'm always soaked, no matter what.

4. I'm super concerned about you losing so much weight! Is there anything you can eat that goes down easy on your stomach but satisfies you? Is there anything I can send, or that I can add money to your account for you to buy?

I have plenty of food and I am digesting everything much better. I love the naan and curry here. That always goes down well. Mom, you'd seriously love the food here.

5. When are transfers? Do you think you'll stay in Ipoh for the full 12 weeks of training?

I find out about transfers next week. Anything could happen, really.

6. What is the weirdest or grossest thing you've eaten so far?

I can't stand the gelatin here. Neither can Elder Li. Everyone feeds it to us it because they have heard Americans like Jell-o, but it's not the same.

7. What is the weirdest thing you've seen or done?

There is a lot....even to sum up.

8. What is your favorite part of your mission so far?

Seeing my investigators at church!!

9. What are the guys in your apartment like? Where are they from? How long have they been out? Etc.?

Elder Lallemant, 22 years old, from Quebec, and is hilarious. He's our district leader, and has been out for over a year. Elder Stanford from Utah, 19 years old, and he loves basketball. He is like Alec Johnson's twin. He has been out since July. Elder Li (my companion) is from California, always has a serious face, but is hilarious and awesome. He is 19 and has been out 5 months.

Love you all!

Elder Josh Avery

The REAL Banana Leaf (January 12, 2015)

Transfer News  (January 26, 2015)

"These are Your Days" - Elder Jacob Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

"Camote" - Elder Jake Avery, Vegueta, Peru
Dear Family,

Well, the area is a great area. We're finding new investigators. Seven my first week, 15 the next, and 11 this week. We're excited and grateful for that! Our HUGE problem in the district is getting people to come to church. It's super bad and really embarrassing. We have a church very close and very central, and the other missionaries have an even better situation, but the investigators aren't coming to church on Sunday! Blah!

To answer Dad's questions, the major industries in my area include fishing, taxi service (all of Peru is a giant taxi franchise), and working in the farm. It's a super calm and pretty place. The branch is doing great. We've had great attendance and the branch presidency is working. I'm especially happy for the secretary, J**,  who is doing an amazing job of getting very old records up to date. There hasn't been a secretary for years, and he's done year's worth of work in a week! I've seen the lights on late at night because his work is from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m., and he only has night hours to do his calling.

There are less active and part member families that we're working with. The biggest problem is the part member families don't get baptized because they aren't legally married. They probably would get baptized, but they feel guilty and sometimes just don't want to get married. Man! We talked to some investigators who live in a straw hut who said they want to wait to get married until they have a brick house, so that they can invite family to the reception. My companion and I were in shock! Alma 39:5 versus entertaining dinner guests. In Vegueta, the marriages are cheap. In fact, on February 14th they are free! So money isn't the issue, like it is in Lima.

You asked about the raw yam. They call it camote. That was a fun day. We helped some members haul their wheel barrow to the house. And, yes, I ate the duck, but I really don't like it. It just looks really gross.

Question, Question! Who is the Archibald family you're talking about? Are they related to my president?

So I had a work visit with an elder who reminds me a lot of Josh. However, different than Josh, he has a confidence issue. He's super self conscious about his Spanish, and just shy in general. It was a lot of fun working with him and helping him feel confident. I felt really good when he told me a few days later, ''You're a really good leader.'' I have had a lot of great examples to follow. I'm trying to get this district up and rolling. I'm probably doing two visits this week to get the other ward rolling. We'll have baptisms in no time :)

Stake Conference was a blast. We have one of the most solid Stake Presidencies I've ever seen. President Archibald and his wife also favored us with talks. The stake is progressing and I'm so glad to be here. President Uchtdorf told the mission presidents in their training, ''these are your days.'' I want to make the most of these few days.

Pray that Ja** keeps reading the Book of Mormon. Well, really that he accepts our invitation to be baptized on February 14th with his family. Pray that An** and his wife V** get married.

The Church is true :) Jesus Christ atoned for us and he invites us lovingly to come unto Him :)


Elder Jake Avery

10 Ways to Find (January 12, 2015)

Beans, Water Balloons, and Old Folks  (January 26, 2015)

Don't Try This At Home - Elder Brian Burgess

Written by Elder Brian Burgess, serving in the Mexico Puebla North Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Don't try this at home!
So, it all started off slow... sort of ...

Tuesday we had the monthly numbers crunch and goals meeting with the stake president and President Christensen. So the entire morning we had to finish the forms for the stake and mission for the zone. (Hard to explain) ...

Then Wednesday we were going to have our zone meeting, and joined with a small conference from President Christensen. He was going to take the time for about an hour and a half, but with all the questions that the missionaries had, it ended about two and a half hours later. So we didn't have time for our zone meeting that day. So we will have it this next week.

Friday we had interviews with President Christensen. My interview was a little different because my temple recommend expired (it's been two years), so my interview was focused on that. Then President and I had a happy/sad conversation about how we both need to "RUN" to the end of our missions (he ends his in June, and I end in May).

Today we spent some time with the zone, playing basketball. And we played volleyball with some water balloons, which ended in a water balloon fight. Very fun day!

In the little time we had to teach in the week, we taught our investigators. Now we have 3 baptisms scheduled for February 14th. :) Elder Olea and I saw some pretty amazing miracles last week with our investigators.

I love you all so much! Read the Book of Mormon. It's a good read, and I recommend it. It has changed my life. On every page there is something for you and for me. I invite you to find what's in it for you!
A buff dog

Elder Brian Burgess

Miracles and Transfers (January 5, 2015)

The Amazing Adventures of Elder Burgess  (January 26, 2015)
Nice, gas cooktop - fancy!

Accelerate the Work - Elder Kolby Madsen

Written by Elder Kolby Madsen, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Danish.

Beautiful snow! Elder Kolby Madsen
Mor (Mom),

President is going to be going home in July. It’s crazy! I am just way glad that I will have him my whole time. He is amazing. We actually already got to hear form the new mission president, President O´Briant. Way nice. It should be good. I am glad that you will be able to say hi to him when we come back. He is so great.

Well, this week has been great. Full of miracles. We had a great time on splits with the assistants, which meant that me and Elder Child got to work together again. It was way fun. We had a great time. We had a ton of good stuff happen.

Then we had time to see one of our good friends, L**, again. She is a friend of one of the recent converts in the ward (Na**). I have only taught her 3 times now, and she is great. We just have to get teaching her more regularly. It will be way good.

We started off the week only planning on having Ma** go to the temple, and now Na** want to go for her first time on Friday. So, Friday and Saturday we will be have the opportunity to go to the Copenhagen Temple. It’s going to be great. Na** has been a member for almost a year now, and has not been for baptisms yet, so that is what we are doing. That has been the missionaries' goal with her for the past 8 months. It was a great experience to be with her when she prayed about it and got the answer that she needed to go the temple! She was so excited after she got her recommend that she just hugged me and Elder Ogden. It was a huge surprise that we were not expecting, and she got a kick out of seeing our red faces afterward, haha!

Also this week, we were teaching Ri**, and she is super excited to get baptized. We have been working with her to find out if she is wanting this for herself or if it's what To** wants for her.  The more and more we teach her, the more and more we realize that she is the one who wants to do this. It's way good to see. She was not able to make it to church this week because she had work, so that is going to push her date back. But it's okay. A little more time to prepare and get everything ready won't hurt anything.

We did not meet with Gø** because he had been super busy with doctor appointments.  He has been fighting this aneurism for a while now, and he is done. He just wants it to be gone. We still keep him on our radar, and he wants to meet this week so that should be good.

We had a great week with service as well.  We had the opportunity to break through a ton of concrete, kind of like what I did last year at this time, but in a much smaller and more irritating way. We got it though, so no worries.

Yesterday in church we had 2 friends who are not members and 3 who are less active. It was great! It's been a real blessing to see so many coming back to church. It's amazing what meeting with people weekly and showing them your love and support, along with the Spirit, can do to help people come back to church and wanting to stay. The Lord has blessed us so much in our efforts to teach people!  We have had a great time with our friends, and we even had the opportunity to see the movie "The Other Side of Heaven," the movie that inspired me to want to serve a mission as a child. We saw it with a friend, and had permission to get a movie night with our other people we teach. It was very nice, and the Spirit was there. It’s fun to watch this movie after being on the mission because now it makes sence as to why he was so passionate and stressed at the same time, about the language and things. We all go through that. As I read the letter from Josh, I can tell he's is going through it right now. He will be fine though. Everything happens for a reason. We need to struggle a little before we can understand why!

That is a huge thing that I have learned the last week! I remember about a year ago when me and Elder Zalewski were companions.  We had an experience praying about a baptismal date for one of our investigators. After prayer, we both felt, in unity, the date we should have the baptism. So we prayed again to confirm what we were praying about, and the date felt more correct then we could describe with words. After that, we went and invited her to accept that date for baptism, but she said no and picked another. At first I was confused and a little thrown back. Why would the Lord give us such a  strong impression to do it on that date if it was not the right one. Then I realized it was because of our boldness and faith that she accepted the invitation to be baptized. It was not the date we thought, but she chose a date for baptism, none the less.

Looking back now on that experience, I have had many opportunities to pray about these kinds of things. Because of the experiences and feelings that have inspired me, many great things have happened. For example, M** and her dåb, Na**, and her temple date. Same with Ma** and many more. The experiences we had at that time strengthened my faith to know that whenever we pray to know what needs to happen, the Lord will give us that which will help the person most in the time that they are ready.

Now, without hesitation, we drop to our knees and pray for these things because of that simple step of learning. The Lord gives us the amount that we need at that time. Could we use more? Absolutely. Do we need it right now? If so, we would have it. I know that we all progress in this life at different rates, and that is perfect. The Lord works with us differently. We are not all the same person. Different speeds of progression and growth are direct signs that God does love us individually. He is patient with us, and no matter what, He is always with us. We cannot run faster than we have strength. I don’t say this because I am slowing down. I say it because, if anything, it means I have to speed up. It's exponential. And it is the same for the Lord’s work. We have been blessed to live at this time, with everything to win. The church is getting bigger and the harvest is now! Let us all accelerate the work.

Med Kærlig Hilsen,

Elder Kolby Madsen

Talking With God (January 12, 2015)

Temple Trip  (January 26, 2015)

Monday, January 12, 2015

10 Ways to Find - Elder Jacob Avery

Written by Elder Jacob Avery, serving in the Peru Lima West Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Vagueta, Peru
My mission president has been talking to us for the past two months about incorporating 10 specific ways to find new investigators every week. For a few weeks, everyone was wondering why, so I'm going to share with you WHY:

With 10 ways to find, we'll get a variety people to teach. We'll get rich people, poor people, young people, old people etc.

With 10 ways to find, we'll find more people. Period. If we focus on finding, there's no way we're going to miss people who are prepared to accept the gospel.

With 10 ways to find, we'll have more spiritual strength. We'll be able to tell the Lord, ''I did what you said and now I want to baptize.'' Imagine the difference in confidence between a missionary who knows they're doing everything the Lord and their mission president wants of them, and one that has no specific direction or expectation.

With 10 ways to find, the ward has a much better opportunity to get involved and feel the spirit of missionary work.

And with 10 ways to find, we can have a pretty established plan for the week. This will help us prepare and give us a better feel for what and when we're doing things. 

We're doing good, here in Vegueta. This little congregation is coming back to life! My companion told me that when he got here 3 months ago, attendance was around 30 people. Yesterday, we had 75 people in church! The Stake Presidency also came over to complete our Branch Presidency. Now we have a secretary and a 2nd counselor!

We're finding lots of new people to teach...fifteen this week! One family we found is an older couple named J** and A**. They're older and super fun to teach and talk to. We gave them a Book of Mormon, and they were super excited to read it. I hope they're super excited about going to church too...haha!

Another family was a referral. J**, R** and their kids, Ja** (who was a catholic missionary) and Ma**. We're taking them to the church this week to do a tour and just hoping to help them feel familiar with it. We need to take advantage of the fact that we have a dedicated church building where they can get answers to their prayers.

Well, that's about all for this week. I'm enjoying the sun and getting tanner. I will be Peruvian color in a few short weeks. I even use sunscreen! Stay strong and be good everyone! I love you all!

Elder Jake Avery

Summer Vacation (January 5, 2015)

"These are Your Days"  (January 19, 2015)

The REAL Banana Leaf - Elder Joshua Avery

Written by Elder Joshua Avery, serving in the Singapore Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Mandarin Chinese.

My grandma took me to eat at a restaurant called
The Banana Leaf before I left for my mission. This
week I got to eat at the REAL Banana Leaf, haha!
Hey everyone!

This week was good. K** got baptized on Saturday. That was so awesome. Seeing the change that has happened in her life is just so amazing. I wish that her son would follow her example, but he is not in that place right now.
So, this week a lot of appointments fell through, but somehow we still managed to reach a lot of our goals. It is so amazing what God can do! One of the English elders' investigators brought some of their friend's kids to meet with us. We taught them about the Restoration and they were so receptive. One of them even asked to be baptized. It was so awesome. Sadly, they texted us Saturday and they said that their dad doesn't want them to meet with us anymore. It seems like kids are dependent on their parents here until they are 25 years old! For cooking, housing, pretty much their entire livelihood. So that was too bad.
I don't have anymore big news. I know you're worried, but I'm doing good. I wish I could type better. You were right about that! I should have taken a few days to get that down better before I left. I go through hard times, but nothing like I did in the MTC (Missionary Training Center). Learning the language is the main source of my stress. Every missionary in Ipoh gains weight because the members here are so generous and feed us so well....but not me. I have gone down 2 belt notches. If I lose any more weight, I will have to poke more holes in my belt. I'm sure it's just the stress of learning the language. 

The highlight of our week! K**'s baptism!
I know that faith in Jesus Christ is the most powerful kind of faith. It's better than faith in ourselves, better than faith that time will give me more exposure so I can learn, and better than faith that my efforts to study and practice will one day help me speak Mandarin. I have unwavering faith in Christ!! I also know that I will only reap what I sow. This will pay off in the end!
Love You!
Elder Josh Avery

Happy New Year  (January 5, 2015)

Miracles  (January 19, 2015)

My jungle adventure:

Training and "Just Havin' Fun" - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

Hey friends and family!!

How are you guys?? I am on cloud #9 here in Tierras Blancas! Time is flying, and my companion and I are just the best of friends and goof around way too much, haha! (We get along really well :) Somos locas!! We have had a really quick and pretty successful week this week. Here's what went down:

We have officially finished teaching Ba** all of the lessons that he needs to be baptized this Sunday! He will have his baptism interview Wednesday, and from there, we just have to wait until Sunday :) He is really excited, and told us yesterday that all he wants is "to get baptized and start his new life." Isn't it amazing how we really CAN start a new life when we follow Christ's example?? I love it!

Se** was confirmed a member of the church yesterday! He was grinning from ear to ear and looked to be the happiest person at church yesterday :) We have started to teach him his retention lessons this week, and should be finished by February. He still has a long way to go in the Gospel, but I have always loved seeing people's first steps and weeks in the Gospel and this "new life" that they have begun :)

Funny story time! This week, we had our weekly meeting with our ward mission leader and while we were talking about our investigators' needs, his phone started to go off with some song in English about "weed, drinking, and just havin' fun." I looked at the American elder in our ward and we both just shook our heads and smiled because, obviously, the people have no idea what that song means, but they like the beat, haha! That happens way too much here....

My companion is just the cutest thing ever! She teaches like a pro, and I feel like she is training me more than I am training her! We work SOOOO hard all day long and always come home and chat on the couch, just dying laughing together. She keeps me sane :) I love training!!

Well guys, I really don't have that much more to inform you all on! (note from Mom: I'm not editing this because she will laugh when she gets back to speaking English and sees some of the things she said when she had a Spanish brain, haha!) It's been an awesome week, honestly, and we are just working at our fullest every moment and enjoying missionary life :) I will miss this!!! I hope that you all have a great week, and I will talk to you all next week! (Don't be too "trunky" in the meantime :P

Love you!!

Hermana Hannah Avery

My Final Transfer (January 5, 2015)

Bautismo  (January 19, 2015)

Talking With God - Elder Kolby Madsen

Written by  Elder Kolby Madsen, serving in the Denmark Copenhagen Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Danish.

This week was great. We scheduled a baptism date with one of our new friends, who just happen to be dating one of our recent converts, way great. She wants to get baptized on the 7th of February, so that should be great. We are working hard with her.

We have a date that Ma** wants to go to the temple.  It has moved around a bit, but we now have the date set in stone, the 24th of January. We will be going to the temple to have great time as Ma** and the ward go through and do dåb for de Død. yeah! Should be way fun.

I also got word of one of the guys that I taught in Randers is getting baptized this week.  So I will be going to that on Saturday, hopefully. It should be a great experience.

We also had 10 people in church. One friend who is not a member and 9 others who are usually not very active, and one of them got reactivated yesterday. It was way good. We had a great day in church this week. So many blessing that have been happening in the ward, and the Lord is very loving towards or friends in the ward here. It is so great to see how much better the work goes when the ward works with the missionaries to accomplish the same goal, instead of their own goal.

We had an appointment with our friend who we have been talking to about baptism, G**.  He said he is going into the doctor to get his back checked out on Thursday, and then he will tell us when he wants to get baptized. So, that should be way good.

We have been working hard. We had some really good stuff happen this week. We went to visit some of our friends down in Næsved in the southern part of our area. While down there we got a referral for another person in the ward who is less active and lives down there.  He was way excited to meet with us and we are plan on meeting with him more and more, it’s great.

We have had so many blessings in this area. I am so grateful it’s been such a great week. We had a great lesson yesterday in Priesthood Meeting about prayers. We talked about how the greatest commandment is to love God. They made the point that if we loved God, we would want to go out and get our home teaching done. We would want to go serve our neighbors. Then we talked about what we need to do to gain a greater love for our Heavenly Father, and how we could do that. We talked about how we gain a love for people on earth. By talking to them and taking time to get to know them. We talked about how it is the same way we need to talk to our Heavenly Father. To gain a relationship with Him, we need to take the time to get to know Him through our experiences and through prayer.

We also talked about how some times in life we need to make appointments with those who we would like to talk to. Then the teacher made a great point by asking how many of us have a time in the week where we schedule time to talk with our family members about things that are important? Then he asked, "Do we do the same for our Father in Heaven?' Do we talk things through. We claim that we have a conversation with God and that we really believe that He speaks to us through the Holy Ghost. Why do we sometimes just kneel down and talk AT God for 2 minutes (if we are lucky), instead of  speaking with Him and giving Him time to respond?

Sometimes I feel that we get caught up in praying for things, asking for things, or even just thanking God for things, but we don’t stop to listen. I would like to invite you, the next time you have a question for our Heavenly Father, to kneel and pray THEN listen quietly without any distraction. I know and promise that you will get your answer in a prompting from the Holy Ghost. We need to practice what we preach and have a conversation with God. Listen to the thoughts and impressions that come within our prayer. He is trying to talk back, but sometimes we don’t listen.

Med Kærlig Hilsen

Ældste Madsen

Drunk People and Flaming Explosives (January 5, 2015)

Accelerate the Work  (January 19, 2015)

Monday, January 5, 2015

My Final Transfer - Sister Hannah Avery

Written by Sister Hannah Avery, serving in the Chile Vina del Mar Mission of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, speaking Spanish.

(Photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.)

Saying goodbye to one of my favorite people in Chorillos!
Hey family and friends! :)

I hope that you all had a great New Year celebration, and that your resolutions are working out well for you :) haha! Well, I have a LOT of news for you all this week! Ready??

First off, I was transferred! On New Year's Eve, I got the call from my mission president that I would no longer be a Sister Training Leader, but that I was going to have a new assignment to train a new hermana (sister missionary) here. I packed my things, said goodbye to my family here in Chorrillos, and left for transfers meeting.

I was called to serve in Tierras Blancas, in the North of our mission, which is near Coquimbo. I hopped on a bus, and rode through the night without a single view of fireworks, but lots of excitement for a new year, new area, and new companion :) I arrived to my new area at about 2 a.m. (about 7 and a half hours later) and was picked up by my companion, Hermana Moreno, at about 2:30 a.m. We arrived to our apartment at 3:30 a.m. and crashed until we had to wake up for the next day 4 hours later! It was a crazy night for sure!
Last dinner with sweet Hermana Evans

Hermana Moreno is from Argentina, and this is her second transfer in the mission. She is 21 years old and super cute! She is a really hard worker, and I love her excitement for the work :) She makes me happy, and we are great friends! It should be a really great transfer!

So, we had a baptism yesterday! The boys name is Se** and he is 15 years old. He was SUPER happy and just all smiles :) Us too! It was my companion's first baptism. She was too cute and super excited about it! We have another boy named Ba**, who likes to learn English, and I asked him to come to church yesterday and he did! He told me thanks for asking him to be there, and that he wants to be baptized in 2 weeks. I was like, OKAY! Let's go! :) He is great. So, we are working hard here and just running everywhere! It's great! :)

Training has been awesome so far! It's always been my dream to train, so I am more than happy to get to do it in my last mission transfer. I am thrilled to have lots of work to do here, and that I am being kept on my toes :) It's fun!

Well guys, that is all the news I have for this week! I will write you all again next week (of course!) to let you know how things are going here in the "golden area" :) I love you all so much! Have a great week and I will talk to you soon!

xoxoxoxoxo Hermana Avery

It's an Amazing Life (December 29, 2014)

Training and "Just Havin' Fun"  (January 12, 2015)

Baptism in Tierras Blancas

Saying goodbye to more friends in Chorillos!

I found a Maryland flag being used as a canopy!
The bugs are eating me alive!
My new area

My new area
Tierras Blancas, Coquimbo, Chile
Our living room

Dining area
Different view of our living room

Study area