Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas!!


Holy cow, what a week. It was sad to see Manning go - he was an incredibly well-respected missionary around the mission, and so seeing him go home was like the end of an era out here for a lot of us. I picked up Elder Tunney at transfers and went outside to help him put his luggage in our car. Out there by his bags was a crate - a full crate - of golf balls. We're having so much fun I'm surprised we're still together; my abs are constantly sore from laughing nonstop. The best part is the increase in work this past week. I think last week I mentioned we had four people set for baptism...as of right now, it's increased to seven. It's been absolutely amazing to see how the work moves forward, and it's even more amazing that the Lord would allow Elder Tunney and I to be a part of it. We're teaching a ton and loving it - our teaching styles work really well together and it's nearly effortless. Among my favorite moments this week is this lesson we were having with this family that recently moved here from southern California. At one point during the plan of salvation lesson, the 10 year old boy raises his hand. We call on him and he looks us full in the face and says, "I feel so good when we talk about these things. I believe everything you tell me". It's so humbling when these children feel the spirit so strongly and nearly burst at the seams with how happy they are. This ten year old boy we met a couple of weeks ago played a shepherd in our wards nativity play this past Saturday and the family is on fire. It's truly been an amazing week.

We've had a lot of great experiences this week, but I'll tell you all about them this Wednesday when we get to Skype! I'm so excited - it feels like it hasn't been that long since we last talked. I'm looking forward to spending another Christmas with my family :)

Love (and Merry Christmas!),

Jesse



Elder Dowdle's Santa hat

 Elder Dowdle and Elder Houghton performed a guitar duet at a family's home. Click the link to watch.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=10202933926734332&set=vb.1388154468&type=2&theater

Monday, December 16, 2013

Elder Manning is leaving...and Elder Tunney is moving in.

Hey, everyone!

My new companion is who I thought it was: Elder Tunney, from San Diego, California! I'm really excited to serve with him; we've served around each other before in Tule Springs and he was one our of District Leaders while I was in Lakes - a great guy that Elder Herlin and I knew we could really trust. He's probably going to the U when he gets home as well, so there's one more person I'll know around that area after the mission.

Elder Manning's bags are packed and ready to go. Last night we went to go see some of his converts in his first area, and that was a neat experience. His time is up and it's weird to be the one to "kill" him off. When you think about it, all of the mission-to-life analogies are pretty spot on. You're "born" (start your mission) to a "father" (your trainer) who teaches you everything you need to know, you gain more experience and learn how to act appropriately, you have a "son" (trainee) of your own, and at the end of your two years, you "die" (go home). What happens after you die? You're reunited with your loved ones! :) It all fits too well. Anyways, Manning dies today and it's been a trippy experience for him and for me. However, we've made this last week count.
 
As of right now, we have four investigators set for baptism in the coming weeks. Even better, all four of them were at church yesterday and stayed for all three hours! Amazing things are happening in this area right now, and it's moving faster than we can keep up with. We're teaching so much that it's getting hard to find time for all of the appointments - just tonight, I pick up Elder Tunney around 6:00, we go home and drop off his stuff, and we head to our first lesson of three for the night. It's humbling, seeing the change in work in the past six weeks; we're truly being blessed. I'm excited to see what happens for the next six weeks with Elder Tunney and I. 
I'm so excited for Christmas, I can hardly see straight. One of our members gave us some decorations for our tree, which means now we have to go out and get a tree! I'm looking forward to skyping and talking with you guys; Mothers Day honestly feels like it was last week. It's frightening how fast this is all going. Anyways, things are great and getting better every week. 
 
Love you so much!

Jesse
  

Monday, December 9, 2013

'Tis the Season...

Hey guys!

So this is Elder Manning's last week, so we've got to make it a good one. It's always somewhat odd being around a missionary who's going home soon - it's always in the back of both of our minds. He's being a good example on how to use it to your advantage, however, and his fast-approaching plane ride is motivating him as opposed to slowing him down. It's putting an urgency into our missionary work, which I kind of like; I wish I could always work as if I was going home in a week.
 
But now to continue last weeks story with the woman who watched the DVD - we had a good lesson on Wednesday and she asked a lot of questions, a lot of really good and thoughtful questions. You could tell she really wanted to know the answers. We had our Mission Leadership Council on Wednesday at the Lakes Stake Center, so while we were down there we stopped at the only Deseret Book in town and picked up a couple copies of "Mormons: An Open Book" by Anthony Sweat. It's an awesome book answering all of the questions that most people want to know - questions about our beliefs, practices, history. The price was down from 20 bucks to 5, so I picked up several of them. We went by later that night and dropped off a copy with her, and ever since then, she hasn't stopped reading/learning, and we couldn't make her stop if we tried. We had a lesson on the Book of Mormon on Saturday night and she's been texting us about the stories and characters all weekend. She mentioned to us "If Nephi could forgive his brothers and the sons of Ishmael for trying to kill him, then I can forgive as well"; she then called someone she's been holding a grudge against for years and apologized, saying she forgave him and asked for his forgiveness. It's absolutely incredible to see the change the Spirit has wrought in this person after ONE WEEK of learning! She came with us to the First Presidency's Christmas devotional last night and really felt the spirit. It's been a great week because we've been able to witness, in a very real way, a "change of heart".
 
This is all so true, I can barely stand it. I've had several moments this week where I stop what I'm doing and just marvel at how perfect the Savior and His teachings are. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that the fullness of the everlasting gospel has been restored to the Earth. I also know that this happened because we're loved, loved more than we can imagine.
 
By the time I email next week, I will have heard about who my new companion is and will have a better idea of my situation for the next couple of months. If it's who I think it is (who the AP's have hinted at), then it's going to be an awesome couple of months,

'tis the season and all that,

Jesse


Elders Dowdle and Manning
 

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving was Great!!

It's December!

I'm so very ready for this Christmas season - I've been listening to Christmas music since June. It's crazy to think about what was going on this time last year. I was in Logandale, about a week away from coming down to Vegas for the first time. What's even more weird is thinking about what the holiday season will be like this time NEXT year...there's a lot that's uncertain, but one thing I'm sure of is that I'll be happy and with my family.
 
This has been a crazy full week! Thanksgiving was great; no, we didn't win the Turkey Bowl ( :( ) but we had a lot of fun regardless. We beat the first team, but the second team we played was Las Vegas zone (who made it to the finals) and we lost 6-5 in overtime. One of their zone leaders is a missionary I came out with who happens to be a BYU receiver, so I don't feel too bad about losing (or about throwing him a fat interception). We had a good time and ate a lot of food afterwards, so it was a successful Thanksgiving by all accounts.
 
As far as proselytizing goes, this was the first double digit lesson week this area has had for a loooooong time! We've been teaching a ton and it's been amazing. A couple of days this week, we had an appointment at every hour - being that busy is incredibly satisfying and exhausting. It feels great to collapse on your bed after a day of going from teaching appointment to teaching appointment.
 One woman in particular we had been trying to meet with for a couple of weeks. We texted her the day before to ask her if the lesson was still on, and she told us it would be a waste of our time because she doesn't believe in organized religion. We were bummed - she seemed so promising and so excited to learn. We texted and asked for one chance, but she didn't respond. We felt impressed to go by and leave a DVD a member burned for us called "Intro to Mormons", which talks about our origins, temples, service work, etc. Before we left it in the door, I wrote a little note saying that we were glad we had met her and her daughter, and that we know it's easy to be skeptical of organized religion, but that this particular religion was organized by God. We left the DVD and didn't think about it for the rest of the night. We woke up the next morning to a text from her saying "I watched your DVD and it's beautiful. Can we meet tonight?". It was an amazing confirmation of what the spirit had told us to do - we met with her and have another appointment this Wednesday.
 
This work is full of miracles and our lives can be full of miracles if we just pay attention to what the Spirit is trying to tell us. When we follow promptings, great things happen. I've seen that this week for sure.

Keep going strong and I'll see you in a couple weeks!

Jesse

Monday, November 25, 2013

What a great week!

Hey hey -

GREAT week. This week happened to be the most fruitful this area has had as far back as our records go! The potential I saw in this ward when I first got here is starting to rise to the surface and we ended up teaching all sorts of lessons and gaining several new investigators.

On Tuesday, we had a lesson with the couple that showed up to church the previous Sunday. In thirty minutes we taught the message of the Restoration and answered a lot of the nonmember girlfriends questions, and her last question was perfect: "How can I know this is true?". We taught about prayer and invited her to offer up the closing prayer and find out for herself. This time, we told her that after the prayer we weren't going to say anything until she feels she received an answer. She begins to pray and starts to cry when she asks if what we've taught is true. After the prayer we sit there for maybe a full minute while she quietly cries, and then she turns and looks at us and smiles. She said she doesn't have to worry about choosing a church anymore; she would get baptized. It was an amazing experience; we set her for the 14th of December, although it's probably going to be pushed to 2014 because her and her boyfriend have to get married first. They came to church again on Sunday and were warmly welcomed by the ward - they're on the right track.

Throughout the week, we also received two referrals from the Church and found several people to teach through street contacts and knocking doors. We taught a lot of people the first lesson and have a ton of return appointments this next week - things are really moving. I feel pretty strongly that things are moving along because we have faith in this area and in the ward. It's easier for the Lord to bless us when we respect the stewardship he's given us, whether that be a quorum, a family, or an area. When we make the best with what we've got, we find out we've got a lot more than we thought we had. I hope that made sense haha. I love this work and the miracles associated with it - it's humbling to be the warm body working in His stead.

Love you tons,
Jesse
 
p.s. when you see someone you don't recognize at church, go introduce yourself. Makes all the difference in the world.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Humbling week with lessons learned

Hey, guys!

This has been a pretty humbling week in a lot of different ways; it's neat to sit down at the computer and reflect upon the lessons the Lord has been teaching (or trying to teach) me throughout the week.
 
I mentioned a little about the area last week, about it's location/makeup. When I arrived on November 4th, there wasn't really anyone the missionaries had been teaching regularly, no one progressing. Our ward mission leader can't remember the last convert baptism in the ward; meanwhile, the ward a block to the west of us is baptizing and teaching like crazy. Elder Manning and I decided to work our hardest to find people to teach. Whether it's knocking doors, talking with everyone we see on the street, hitting up part-member family lists - we're down to do whatever it takes. Well, early in the week, we started to get excited; people were talking to us and some seemed interested - interested enough to set up appointments with us later in the week. Almost one by one, we'd set up an appointment, bring a member, and it'd be a no show. Every single contact punched out on us this week and we only got to teach three lessons. By the time Sunday rolled around, I was starting to get a little frustrated at the area, the ward, the people, and just about anyone and anything that gave me a wrong look (reminding me I was my father's son). Then, in the middle of our sunday school class, a member comes in and grabs us, telling us that there's a couple in the foyer that we should talk to. We get out there and it's an inactive member and his non-member girlfriend, showing up to church for the first time. He told us he's been thinking about coming back for the longest time and now it's time. The non-member girlfriend wanted to learn more, asked questions, asked us when WE can stop by (doesn't happen often (ever)) and we set up a time on Tuesday.

I share this experience because it reminded me of an eternal principle that I had forgotten for a short amount of time: when we do what the Lord asks, we'll be blessed. The blessings will almost never be how we expect or want them to be. I was expecting to talk to a golden contact on the street, or tract into a perfect family waiting for the truth. That didn't happen. Instead, the Lord saw Elder Manning and I express our faith and inspired a young man and his girlfriend to show up to church. I am so thoroughly convinced that them showing up is a direct blessing and outcome of our efforts spent finding people. The Lord is waiting to bless us - always - and we just have to give him a reason to do so.

I love you all and pray for you several times daily.
Jesse
 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

First Week in the Meadows

Hello from Meadows!

So, this area is much, much different from my last one. Last night we sat down to plan and were drowned out by the sound of a police chopper flying over our little complex. Apparently this is a normal occurrence. The area is actually pretty cool and there are a ton of humble people living within it's boundaries. I'm amazed at how many people are willing to converse with us as we walk around and contact; I can already tell that it's going to be a lot easier to find people to talk to. That's always the first obstacle - if we can talk to people, we can talk about restored truth and give the Spirit the opportunity to bear witness of it. If we can't say anything or bear testimony of anything, then the Spirit can't soften their hearts and let them know we're messengers of the truth. Upon entering the area, there weren't any people that were being taught or that were progressing, but since Monday we've had the opportunity to talk to a lot of people and set up some return appointments. This is a traditionally slow area, but I'm pretty confident that with a good attitude and work ethic, this place can be pretty dang fruitful. It's just a matter of time. I love being in new wards and getting to meet all of the members; there are so many stories and lessons to be learned in each ward. I'm looking forward to the time (and this time always comes - usually right before transfers) where I can name every person that walks through the doors on Sunday at church.
 
On top of learning a new area with a new companion, Elder Manning and I are preparing our "team" for the annual mission Turkey Bowl on Thanksgiving! It oughta be a fun one this year; we have 12 zones this year instead of nine last year, so they're doing the brackets a little differently. It'll be a flag football tournament and I'm excited and nervous about it, but it'll be fun, regardless. Last year I wore a santa hat as a declaration that I wasn't taking it seriously. This year, Elder Manning and I are thinking about wearing suitcoats from DI. We'll see. 
 
I keep thinking about a scripture in the Book of Mormon that talks about the fall of Adam and Eve and the state of mankind as we are today. It's in 2nd Nephi, chapter 2, verse 25: "Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy". In an area like this, where the work can seem daunting and the teaching pool seems exhausted and barren, it's been important for US to remember that we are to have joy. We're supposed to be happy, and to find happiness in righteousness and in everything that we do. We all need to step back from the day-to-day junk sometimes and ask, "Am I happy?", and if the answer is no, reevaluate what you're doing. Everything is better when our attitude is positive.
 
Life is good and I'm happy. What more can I ask for? :)
Love you all very much,

Jesse

Monday, November 4, 2013

Transferred!!

Hey family!
Got the call on Saturday - I'm getting transferred to the Meadows Zone, and my new companion is Elder Manning! I'm bummed to leave Lakes and Elder Herlin...it's been a great six months here. Six months is the perfect time to stay in an area; I was in Tule Springs for six, six in The Lakes, and now I'm hoping for six more in Meadows. My ward will be the Meadows 1st ward and my boundaries are Jones on the west side, Decatur on the east side, Washington to the south, and Cheyenne to the north. It's a little bit different than the far west side I've been serving in so far, so I'm excited for the change and challenge. Elder Manning has a reputation as an overall stud and he only has one more transfer left, so it's going to be awesome to "kill" him off and learn everything I can from him.
Not too much more to report: next November, Larry is getting sealed in the Salt Lake temple; Sam will be going to the temple next June, so I'll be in Vegas for that. I love that these converts have their sights set on the temple. Last night, Elder Herlin and I took one of our investigators, Simon, to what's called the Zions Youth Symphony. It's a choir/orchestra comprised of LDS youth from Las Vegas and they were phenomenal. I found out last night that I'm not done playing the clarinet and being involved in performing; I'd miss it way too much.
Anyways, I have yet to pack (surprise surprise). I love you guys and will let you know about Meadows and Elder Manning next week!
Jesse

Monday, October 28, 2013

Larry Doxie's Baptism

Hey, everyone!

Thanks so much for the birthday wishes and gifts! They made what was already an awesome week even better. It's been a really busy one, so I'll do my best to do it justice in writing.

This Monday, we went on exchanges with that guy from the missionary department, Brother Glazier. Turns out his name isn't even Travis; still confused where we even got that information. Anyways, we had him from 4pm to 9:30pm, so we did our best with setting up appointments and making sure we were busy. Well, our 6:00 appointment cancels. Then our 7:00 appointment cancels. I'm sweating bullets, driving around our area with this guy in the backseat with nothing to do, so we go to visit some part-member families and less-active members. I'm so glad those appointments fell through, though, because he taught us so much during that time - it was remarkable. He taught us how to actually be missionaries. At the end of the night, Herlin and I were like, "What were we DOING out here before?". It was incredible. We talked about our purpose, how we best achieve it, how to effectively teach and contact. On Wednesday, we had a long leadership training meeting and Brother Donaldson and Glazier taught the leadership what we learned on exchanges. I recorded it on my dictaphone and I'm in the process of transcribing it so the entire mission can have it - it's about 11/12 pages of material. I'll email it to you when I'm done. It was such an amazing training that we're cancelling district meeting this Tuesday and having an impromptu Zone Training Meeting so we can teach what we learned from them. We've already applied some of the things that we've learned this week and seen amazing results. Most of the changes stem from teaching very simply and in short amounts of time, and it's working. 


Larry's baptism was amazing. I was sitting next to the second counselor in the bishopric during the baptism and he leans over to me and whispers, "He's going to be our bishop by the time you go home". Larry is on fire and ready to learn everything he can. His wife's family came from out of town to baptize him and support him, so that was really neat to see. A lot of people came from the ward to support him as well, and that was REALLY good, seeing as this was Nevada Day weekend (yes, there's a holiday called "Nevada Day", and people celebrate it) and tons of people were out of town. On Sunday, immediately after sacrament (where he received the gift of the Holy Ghost), he was given the Aaronic Priesthood and ordained to the office of a Priest - he's not wasting any time. It's absolutely incredible to see the stark contrast between several weeks ago, when he told his wife he'd never join her church, to yesterday, where he received the priesthood of God. The ONLY explanation is that he came to a firm understanding of truth given only by the power and influence of the Holy Ghost - there is no other earthly force that changes the heart of men with such power and conviction. Logic can only do so much; the spiritual witness seals the deal. On Wednesday, the most powerful thing that was said from the brethren of the missionary department was this: we need to understand that the only way that someone can fully access the Atonement of Jesus Christ in it's entirety is through us and the church we represent. We are, as missionaries, the gatekeepers of the atonement. The power of Godliness is manifest through ordinances, and that's what we're providing the children of God in Las Vegas, Nevada. There is no greater work.

I love every little stinkin' thing about this. And I love you.

Jesse
 
Larry Doxie, with his family, at his baptism
 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Larry's Baptism, The Lakes Duck Trophy, and Jesse's Birthday

Hey guys!

I know, I know - I'm emailing way earlier than normal. The reason behind that is that our (Elder Herlin and I) p-day is being pushed back two hours because of what's going on tonight. So this Wednesday (on my birthday), some people from the missionary department in Salt Lake City are coming down to our mission to give us a Leadership Training Meeting. They came down to Vegas a couple days early and have asked President Ahlander if they can go on exchanges with a pair of Zone Leaders for a night...Pres picked us :( We're really nervous haha. Brother Lee Donaldson, a higher-up in the department, will be going with the Assistants; President Ahlander is going with Sandstone Zone Leaders, and a guy named Travis (don't know anything else about him other than the fact that he works at the missionary department) will be going with us. We're picking up Travis at the mission home at 4 p.m, which means we lose two hours of p-day, but that's okay; tonight should be pretty cool, if everything works out. We've only had a couple days notice, so we're somewhat freaking out trying to set up appointments for tonight. We don't necessarily want to take a representative from Salt Lake City, someone who communes with the brethren, tracting...so we'll see how this all shakes out!

Larry is all set for his baptism on Saturday! We're so excited and so is he. He's so prepared and on fire, ready to do whatever is required of him. It's been amazing to see the faith of this man; his logic has been "I know this is the true church, so what am I waiting for?". He's in the process of memorizing the sacrament prayers so he can exercise his priesthood the moment he receives it...it's humbling. We love him and the Lord does too.

Last weeks stats from our missionaries weren't the greatest, the standout being there were more lessons taught withOUT members present than WITH members present. That's not good. You want a member at every lesson. So, to offset that trend and get our LTM (lessons taught with member present) to Other Lessons ratio better, we made a Lakes trophy for overall lessons! We total it up by LTM's being 2 points, Other Lessons as 1 point and RC/LA's (recent convert/less active lessons) as 1 point as well. The companionship with the most points at the end of the week is presented with the Lakes trophy at district meeting, which happens to be a wooden sculpture of a duck we found at Goodwill (lol). They also get free lunch on the Zone Leaders, so there's some serious incentive. The zone cast ballots for the name of the duck - the name "LeBron" was chosen. Don't know how I feel about that haha. Anyways, the sister missionaries won LeBron this week with 18 points! We were curious if LeBron the Lakes Duck would help out with overall stats, and then we got the numbers in last night - EVERY SINGLE CATEGORY increased - nearly doubling in lessons. It worked, and we're happy about it.

Good week, and it's looking like this one will be better. Can't believe I'm turning 21. I've thought about it, and I don't think I want to grow up. 20's a pretty good age, I think I'll stay here for a couple more years.

Love you guys so much!
Jesse


Monday, October 14, 2013

A great week teaching

Hey family,

With Conference at the end of last week, it seemed like the days leading up to it lasted forever. This week was the complete opposite; it just about flew by. It's amazing fast time moves - this whole week feels like a blur in some ways. Looking back at my mission thus far, some transfers seem to do the same. Some drag on for what seems like two years, while others are there and gone before you know it. Those are the ones that scare me. 


We had some great lessons this week, one of which being with a lady Elder Torgersen and I tracted into months and months ago. We've been trying and trying to set up a time to meet with her and she finally relented and set up an appointment. The lesson was pretty amazing; this woman knew the bible pretty well and with every point we'd share, her eyes would widen, she'd grab her bible, and flip open to a verse or passage of scripture that supported our doctrine. Usually it was a verse she had just studied that week. By the end of the lesson she was in tears, telling us that everything we've said resonates with her. She asked a final question about the gifts of the Spirit, asking if we believe that the miracles found in the scriptures can still happen today. Instead of just answering her question, we turned to the Book of Mormon, in Mormon 9:7-11:
 
 And again I speak unto you who adeny the revelations of God, and say that they are done away, that there are no revelations, nor prophecies, nor gifts, nor healing, nor speaking with tongues, and the binterpretation of tongues;
 Behold I say unto you, he that denieth these things knoweth not the agospel of Christ; yea, he has not read the scriptures; if so, he does not bunderstand them.
 For do we not read that God is the asame byesterday, today, and forever, and in him there is no cvariableness neither shadow of changing?
 10 And now, if ye have imagined up unto yourselves a god who doth vary, and in whom there is shadow of changing, then have ye imagined up unto yourselves a god who is not a God of miracles.
 11 But behold, I will show unto you a God of amiracles, even the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; and it is that same bGod who created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are.
She was amazed and became even more emotional. It was another reminder to me of the absolute truth of the Gospel - our God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He has not changed and will not change, and it makes so much sense that we would have the same organization that the early church had - 12 apostles and a prophet. It makes so much sense that we'd have the power and authority to perform real saving ordinances. It all just makes sense. I love what I'm doing out here, what I've been allowed to be a part of. Keep on keepin' on!

Jesse
 
Elder Herlin and Elder Dowdle with their new hats!
 

Monday, October 7, 2013

What a great General Conference!!

Hey!

How awesome was conference? We are SO blessed to not only be able to listen to the counsel our modern-day prophets and apostles give us, but to be able to re-listen whenever we want; it's already online and ready for any and all who want it. The Lord keeps making sure his word and direction gets to every living soul as time goes on...we've come a long way since April 6th, 1830. There were plenty of times where I sat back and had little realizations of how far-reaching the Gospel is. With the advent of technology, there are absolutely no boundaries - all who will listen, can listen. Prophecy is coming true right before our eyes as we witness the Gospel of Jesus Christ being preached to all of the inhabitants of the Earth.

Several talks immediately had my attention. Elder Bednar was so bold last conference with his talk about the law of Chastity, only to follow it up with the law of Tithing. He reminded me that the apostles of today have the same calling the apostles of old had - calling the house of Israel to repentance. I'm excited to return home and pay an honest and full tithe. Elder Dube reminded me of the work yet to be done; President Uchtdorf's address had me wishing it was a Mormon Message. I'm sure, in time, it will be. I could go on and on and on about the things we heard: President Monson, calling us to be missionaries - Elder Holland on depression (amazing), many talks on the sanctity of marriage and separate family roles. I left the Stake Center (where we watched conference) with a sincere and burning desire to become a better person, a better missionary, and a better priesthood holder. If we apply the direction we heard from these chosen servants of God, there is no way we can be led astray. 

Let me rewind to Monday. I told you we were to have a lesson that night with Larry, a nonmember who came to church and wanted to learn more. He's set for baptism on October 26th! :) He is quite literally "the man". He's in love with the Gospel and he and his wife have already set a date to be sealed to each other in the Salt Lake temple....it's absolutely mind blowing. The Lord has prepared this man for this specific time, and he's 100% ready. We love him; we were going to show him a DVD from our DVD arsenal, and he stopped us, walked over to his DVD player, and showed us the same disc. He's been shopping at Deseret Book and has any and all materials that can teach him more about the Gospel. It's amazing! We popped by after conference and have another lesson with him tonight.

I'm loving my time here and having amazing experiences! Thanks for all you do.

Love,
Jesse
 
 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

A great baptism and I got my stitches out!

Hey guys!

This has been a packed week. Saturday saw our first baptism in Desert Breeze ward with Natalia Faircloth! We've been teaching her for some time and she was finally able to be baptized by her Grandpa this past weekend. She was so excited and bore her testimony at the end; it was the most heartfelt and sincere testimony I've ever heard a nine-year-old bear. Her grandparents drove from California to come, and they don't speak a lot of English (the family is Chilean), so we had to make sure he said the baptismal prayer correctly...in Spanish. Luckily we were able to run to the family history center and find D&C 20:73 in Spanish and print out three copies; one for the Grandpa and two for Herlin and I, so we could make sure it was right. I'm glad we did that, because he omitted some parts of the prayer at first and if we hadn't printed it out, we wouldn't have caught it, but it's all good. He really dunked her...wouldn't be surprised if she had a goose-egg on the back of her head from the bottom of the font. It was a great service, though, and a lot of people were able to make it out. She was confirmed in sacrament the next day and it was a great experience for all involved.

I talked about a non-member dad who came to church last week in my last email - so, we got to meet with him and he's amazing (and ready). He had some concerns, but after talking with the stake president and with us I think he's on board! He loves what the church is teaching his daughter and he says he's like a sponge, just wanted to soak up all the knowledge and learn as much as he can. He was at church yesterday and we have a lesson with him later tonight; we're going to try and set him for baptism in late October. 

I don't know what it is, maybe it's where I am in the Book of Mormon lately, but I have constantly thinking about our country lately. I've been becoming more and more aware of how blessed we are to live in a country that allows us to worship how we worship, to say what we feel, and to live how we'd like to live. I'm so grateful for America and the freedoms we enjoy, and I've been praying especially for those who put their lives on the line for those freedoms. My mind goes back to Grandpa a lot, and the sacrifices he made for millions of people, and I'm so blessed to come from such brave and valiant families. We have to do everything we possibly can to ensure those sacrifices were not made in vain.

On a lighter note - stitches came out thirty minutes ago. I think it's looking good, or at least better than last Saturday. Only time will tell how much will scar. The break isn't too bad, just a more prominent bump on my nose now haha. I can breathe just fine - doc said to get it xrayed when I get home if it's bothering me, but it most likely won't. Things are good out here, thanks for your love and support!

Love,
Jesse

Monday, September 23, 2013

Broken nose, stitches, and another 6 weeks in The Lakes

Happy Birthday, mom!!

As a birthday present, I'll tell you all about how I busted my nose this weekend:

In our mission, if we wake up earlier (5:30 or so), we can go play sports with other missionaries for morning exercise - "morning sports". We were getting kind of bored with volleyball and basketball, so for the past week we've been playing disc golf at a course in the zone. This Saturday, we had just thrown off the tee box on hole 8 (I was at -8, I might add) when one of our missionaries neglected to say "fore" and nailed me right in the nose. I'll spare you the really gory details, but it just about ruined my shirt and had me on my back seeing stars. Some security guards grabbed me a granola bar and a bottle of OJ so I could recover from some of the blood loss and it got me up and to the car. Using my shirt to manage the bleeding, we raced to a quick care center only to see that it didn't open for another hour. We had accidentally switched phones with the companionship that covers the Ridges ward (the ward I used to cover, really wealthy one), so I was looking through their phone for directory assistance, or a number for a Walgreens or something. I passed by Bro Rodriguez in the phone, and I remembered that he was a world-renowned plastic surgeon in the Ridges ward (
https://www.rodmd.com/Home_Page.php), so I called him at about 7:15AM for some advice. He told me to call him around 1:00PM and he'd see what he could do. At around noon he called to say he was on his way home, so we met him at his house. He sat me down, looked at my nose, numbed me up, and had me lay down on his kitchen table. Seven stitches later, he slapped a Cinderella band-aid on me and said "Go save some souls". He was no-nonsense and an overall stud. I'll send some pictures of the whole ordeal, but he said scarring should be minimal due to the fact that it's a horizontal cut that goes with the tension lines of the face. I can breathe just fine, too, so the break isn't too bad at all; I'm starting to get some black eyes this morning, but I'll work through all that.

...the rest of the week was really good! On Tuesday we met with a family from Ethiopia we tracted into and we brought one of our High Council members, Stan Nielson, who just got back from being a mission president in Poland. It was a great lesson; we talked about the restoration and the need for a prophet in these latter days. They seem really on the ball and we have another lesson with them this upcoming Tuesday as well. Sunday was pretty awesome, too; it was the primary program, so there were a ton of nonmembers present. One of the nonmembers was a man who's wife is LDS, so he came to watch his kid. However, he stayed for the second and third hour and absolutely loved it, and has agreed to meet with us this upcoming week. Another lady walked in in jeans and a Robert Plant t-shirt; she said she was visiting her mom and she felt like she needed to attend church, so she stopped at the closest one. She stayed for Sunday School and loved the lesson about eternal families - she said that her experience at church has confirmed to her that she needs to move to Las Vegas and attend church here. 


In other good news, I'm staying another six weeks in Lakes with Elder Herlin! I'm way excited for the good that's going to come of this last transfer; I feel like six months is the perfect amount of time to spend in an area, and I'm ready to kill it these last couple of weeks. Not too much is changing in the zone, so we'll be staying the same for the most part. I'm pumped to see what the fall brings :)

Solid week, bummer Saturday. Thanks for the emails and letters! I love and appreciate hearing from my family and friends.

Love,
Jesse
 
On the kitchen table



Dr. Rodriguez' handiwork 

Cinderella Band Aid

Monday, September 16, 2013

Realplays on The Deuce

Hey guys!

Solid week with a lot that happened! I'll start with Tuesday at our Zone Training meeting:

So, we told the zone to meet at 10:30 in a parking lot off of Sahara/Fort Apache and bring 5 bucks instead of meeting at the church building. Everyone was confused, but we promised them it was worth it, so they did it. Elder Herlin and I drove our car down to Sahara/Rainbow around 9:30, parked in a Wells Fargo parking lot, and then took the deuce up to one block west of where we told the zone to meet up. We had our district leaders pretend like we were late and so they directed the zone to the bus stop. All of a sudden, the deuce pulls up, doors open, and we're standing there; everyone was confused and we told them all to hop on. It was so funny to see all the expressions of people as 16 mormon missionaries climbed on to a double-decker city bus. We took them up to the top level in the back and opened up our Zone Training Meeting! It was on "Helping People Make and Keep Commitments", and since we were on the deuce, we had "realplays" instead of "roleplays". Instead of having missionaries teach each other, we had them try their teaching on real people on the bottom level of the deuce; the first lady one companionship contacted on the first "realplay" was interested and set up an appointment with the elders. It was amazing. Pretty soon, the bus got to Sahara/Rainbow where we told everyone to get off. When they got off the bus stop, they saw our car and were like "how did...but wait...". We had a box of copies of the Book of Mormon, so we passed them out and had the zone contact people at a busy Vegas intersection (in our zone). Thirty minutes later, we hopped the deuce again until it got to the very last stop before crossing into the east mission (Sahara/Rancho), right at 12:00. It was an awesome training, and after the closing prayer we had lunch down there and then took the bus to hear Elder Anderson and Callister address us at 1:00, at the building only a couple blocks away.

It was amazing to be able to shake the hand of one of the Lord's Apostles. He shook the hand of every single missionary there, and then spoke to us directly, walking around in the aisles and using our names. His knowledge and public speaking skills were incredible; he was working the room and had our direct attention. The first thing he let us know was that we were not to compare ourselves to anybody else, ever. It kind of reminded me of golf; you're only playing against yourself - it's about day-to-day improvement. Elder Callister of the Presidency of the Seventy talked about changing our nature rather than changing our behavior, and that really hit home. The last thing they put a lot of emphasis on was the message of the Atonement and the reality of a Savior. One thing I really liked that Elder Anderson said was that when we don't know what to say, testify of Him. When we're at a loss of words, or when there seems to be nothing more to say, testify of Jesus Christ and the fact that He lives. I love that. I've been doing my best to do that as the week has gone on, and it's been easier to be a missionary as I find myself completely centered around that message. We're ambassadors of the Lord, and our sole purpose is to testify of Him. If I'm not doing that, I'm doing something wrong.

With transfers, I'm not sure what's going on. Elder Anderson said our mission presidents need to keep us in our areas longer, 6-8 months being the AVERAGE. I was glad to hear that, because I want to spend one more transfer in Lakes, but looking at the mission logistically, everything is pointing to me getting transferred :( I might go to South zone, not sure. It's not that I don't want to serve in these other areas with these other missionaries, it's just that I really feel like we're getting into a groove and a lot of good has yet to be accomplished. We'll see, though; we get our calls on Saturday, so you'll know Monday!

I love you all and hope your week was as good as mine!

Jesse


The Lakes Zone missionaries on "The Deuce"

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Red Rock Canyon for P-Day

Hey guys!

Sorry for emailing so late today - we just got back from Red Rock Canyon, where we went hiking/exploring for P-day. Vegas is like Salt Lake, in that way (Christopher Walken voice), where you can drive for ten minutes outside of the city and be in absolute nowhere, USA. I'm a huge fan of the P-days that get us outside of Vegas, or at least take our minds off of it. I'll send some pictures; it was perfect, high 70's, nice and cloudy. No one from the zone fell and broke anything, so that's good, too. I'm going to be way sore tomorrow morning, I can feel it - my poor body is far from in-shape.

This week has resulted in the most lessons taught in all the history of the zone...we're talkin' since it's very existence, so we're really happy and proud of our missionaries. I'm grateful we have such studs serving in our zone right now, everyone's working hard and missionary work matters to them. Refreshing, for sure. Elder Herlin and I have a baptism coming up on the 28th - this nine year old girl we've been teaching is ready and set for that date. It's been fun teaching her, but different as well; having to find ways to teach her effectively has been fun (and challenging). 

You asked about some of the pictures on the double decker bus...I'll give you a hint: it has to do with our Zone Training meeting tomorrow. Every week our district leaders give trainings to their districts from 10:30 to 12:00; Elder Herlin and I split up and switch which district meeting we attend every week. Once a month, after our Mission Leadership Council, the two of us present a training during that time to the entire zone. Lately, our two district leaders, Elder Tunney and Elder Birch, have been presenting the most creative and amazing district meetings we've ever attended, so we had to think outside of the box for our Zone Training...it's either step it up or get shown up, so Elder Herlin and I planned the most incredible (and risky) ZTM in history. Don't wanna spoil it, so be sure to remind me to talk about it next week.

Also on Tuesday! Both missions are getting together to listen to Elder Anderson of the Quorom of the Twelve Apostles and Elder Callister of the 70 talk to us! I'm so excited I can hardly see straight. Rumors are floating around that they're going to talk to us about some of the new advents talked about during the "Hastening the Work of Salvation" fireside, but I don't know about that; I'm just excited to hear what they have to say. The east mission is meeting there too, but it's on the west side on Charleston, so I hope a fight doesn't break out. I know, sounds like 1950's high school rivalry/west side story sharks vs jets, but who knows. Looking forward to that (the Apostle, not the bi-mission brawl).

Other than that, things are going well! Starting week 5 of the transfer! Also, Go Utes.

Love,
Jesse
 
P-Day at Red Rock Canyon
 

Monday, September 2, 2013

Great Teaching Experience!


Hey y'all!

So, not a lot of missionaries are emailing today due to the holiday and all of the libraries are closed. However, we normally email in the family history center in the stake center, so that doesn't effect us at all!

The re-dedication, the fasting and prayer, "hard in the paint" week - whatever it was, it worked. The zone set a record for people set with a date with 14 set, two for August and twelve for September. We're so excited and so proud of the zone for working hard and doing what they should...and we haven't even started zone "hard in the paint" week! Next week we're committing everyone to being 100% obedient in EVERYTHING; doing all of the little things that they normally overlook. After doing that ourselves in Desert Breeze and seeing the difference, I can't even begin to think about how awesome it'll be when 16 missionaries do that all at once. Great, great week.

I had an awesome experience on exchanges with one of our district leaders (and one of my good friends) Elder Birch. We were in his area, the Spanish Hills ward, and visiting a list the bishopric gave him of people they've never met. We knock on this one door, looking for a certain family, and a confused woman opens the door and says she doesn't speak very good english. Her son comes downstairs, maybe around 25, and invites us in. As we walk in, I notice pictures of Christ on the wall and an Arabic bible on their coffee table. The father comes downstairs and sits down with us as well and we learn they're actually from Iraq! They escaped Iraq in 2002 and moved to Syria where they lived for ten years, and then have been in the states for about 9 months, trying to acclimate to the culture and style of living. They were one of the rare devout Christian families back in the middle east, and were heavily persecuted. They had never heard of Mormons before - we started at ground zero and taught the first lesson and they loved it. The mom couldn't understand very well, so the son and dad would translate into Arabic for her and teach her the principles we had just taught them. It was probably the most spiritual lesson of my mission...they testified how they had felt like Joseph Smith before and they want copies of the Book of Mormon in their native language, which we can get for them. Awesome, awesome time, and I got emotional thinking about what it's going to be like when those countries open up for missionary work. I sincerely cannot wait.

The mission is awesome, I'm having the time of my life out here. Pday is going to be fun today; we'll be having a BBQ at this park. Next week, we're going to Mt Charleston again, so that'll be awesome! Then we'll be playing Quidditch with another zone (long story), then transfers. Here's hoping I stay in Lakes!

Love,
Jesse
 
 

Missionary life in Las Vegas libraries!!

Hey everyone!

So, picture this scene: 12 missionaries sitting in a library on computers emailing their families. Four more missionaries are standing up against the wall, waiting for their turn. A crazy woman starts yelling at them, telling them that they're brainwashed little servants. Such is the life of a missionary in Las Vegas.
Luckily, I'm one of the ones sitting down (now) and Elder Herlin is holding down the fort in the little waiting line. That's one of the many reasons why it's so awesome to have a companion; I don't worry about what he's going to say/do and I know that he has my back and I have his.
Today marks the end of our "go hard in the paint" week, and we seriously went hard in the paint. I'm talkin' shattered glass; we were dunkin' on everyone. Last week we had nobody set for baptism - after "hard in the paint" week, we have three. Last week we only taught 8 lessons (six to less-active/recent converts), this week we taught 14 lessons (nine to non-members). It was really difficult to buckle down and work as hard as we did, working through lunch and dinner a couple of days, but the blessing are evident. We tracted in to a man who had taken the lessons last year and was planning on being baptized, but fell off the map (I'm trying to type over the sound of this woman claiming that we believe Joseph Smith was Jesus reincarnated...). We had no record of him, but he told us it isn't a matter of IF he gets baptized, it's WHEN. We have an appointment with him this next week, and we're really excited. When you work hard, are obedient and diligent, things like that just fall into your lap. It's amazing how you find teaching opportunities in the most inopportune places.
It's so hard for me to listen to people slander us, and I wish it wasn't. I wish I could just brush it off and not worry about it, but I want so badly for these people to understand, to know truth. There's so much out there that takes the truth and twists it, and it's a very real evidence of the adversary. It makes our job all the more important. I love what I'm doing, and I know that it's true.
Love you and hope everything is going well!

Jesse

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rededicated The Lakes Zone

Hey guys!
This has been a really good first week. We got a lot of newer missionaries in the zone this past transfer, so we thought it'd be a good idea to "rededicate" the zone for missionary work. President Ahlander floated the idea past us when we did interviews, and it had been coming up in conversation between Elder Herlin and I for the last two weeks of last transfer, so we decided we'd do it right after transfers. The Saturday before, Elder Herlin and I drove around the west ridge of Vegas looking for a neat, secluded spot we could hold a rededicatory meeting, and we found one! We found this cool ridge overlooking the zone (and the rest of Vegas) and it had some logs for our Elders/Sisters to sit on. EARLY Tuesday morning (we woke up at 4:10 to go grab Krispy Kreme and OJ for the zone) we had everyone meet on the side of W Charleston at 5:30. We all hiked up to the ridge and sat down, just in time to watch the sun come up over the eastern mountains, right above the temple. It was a really cool sight. After that, we had a testimony meeting and then one of our district leaders said the rededicatory prayer for the zone. I think it was just what this zone needed, and it was perfect with all of the new companionships and everything.
A couple of my favorite missionaries went home on Tuesday, it was a sad day. Elder Eddie Woodard, who I was with in Tule, and Elder Matthew Joseph Jones, the most christlike man I've met and Sydney's future husband, both went home to Kansas City and Lochbuie, respectively. Great friends, excited to hear about their lives/futures.
Zone Conference was on Friday, and before every ZC there's a vehicle inspection. On Thursday we reminded the zone about it, and so naturally everyone washed their car Thursday night. The sisters didn't have any supplies, so we dropped by to get them some cleaning stuff. They asked us if we run into any spanish-speaking people, and we do all the time, so they gave us a box of spanish materials they don't use. Driving around on Friday after Zone Conference, we were headed visit someone when we drove by a street I felt like we should knock. The person we were trying to visit wasn't home, so I told Elder Herlin what I was feeling and we stopped to quickly tract the street. We were having no luck until the second to last door; this Hispanic lady opened up the door and said "No hablo ingles". I used the only spanish I know and said "Tenemos misioneros que hablan espanol?". She got excited and brought out her son to translate between us, and she wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. Because the sisters gave us the spanish box the night before, we had what this woman wanted and we were able to give it to her. It was a really neat experience and we passed her off to the spanish elders.
It's been great out here and it's only getting better! We're really feeling it this week; between the two of us, we've dubbed this week "go hard in the paint" week (we've been playing a lot of basketball). We're piloting it before we commit the zone to going "hard in the paint". We'll let you know how it all shakes out. Love you so much!
Jesse

Monday, August 12, 2013

A visit with The Guesmans

Transfer #10!

Transfers are today, which means at around 5:00pm, every missionary that's getting transferred meets at the "transfer building" in North Las Vegas on Alexander and Ferrel. I really enjoy going to transfers; you get to see all of the missionaries that serve pretty far away from you and you get to see all of the new missionaries coming in. I think we have around 20-something new missionaries coming in this transfer, seven of them sisters. We have a lot of changes in our zone going on today, so it's going to be neat to see how it affects the zone dynamic we've got going on. Speaking of zone dynamic, last night the district leaders reported in stats and it's been the best week as a zone for months! We're really proud of how our missionaries have been working this last week here, especially those who knew they were getting transferred.
 
This past Friday, I talked to Elder Steenstra (one of my past companions) and he said Susie and Chase Guesman, a family we taught and baptized in Logandale, was coming down for lunch in Vegas! It was awesome to sit down with them and catch up for a little bit! Such amazing people, and I'm so grateful I was in the right place at the right time last November/December when we started teaching them. It also made me aware of the fact that Logandale was a year ago, and THAT was really weird for me. Time really does stand still for no one ("time stands still...").
 
A family in the ward had us over for dinner last night and surprised us by being amazing member missionaries: they invited 13 of their coworkers over for dinner to listen to our message. She works for a tutoring place, and so almost all of her guests were around our age, so it was neat to talk to them and get to know them. One girl was related (somehow) to a friend I made in college, Ben Jaojoco. Anyways, it was really awesome to share the message of the Restoration with that many people; it gave me a thrill that reminded me of being on stage, playing music. We need more members like that family, unabashed in their desire to share the truth with their friends.

Great week, and I'm sure a great transfer to follow for the next six weeks! Hope everything is doing well back home!

Jesse
 
Elders Lane, Steenstra, and Dowdle with Susie and Chase at Smashburger!
 

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Summer's almost over!.....

Hey, everyone.
 
This past week has been a busy one! A lot has been happening in our area/ward as well as in our zone and mission, so we've been bouncing between all sorts of meetings, trying to piece everything together. August is here, though, and it's really weird for me. I always associate August with the start of school and the end of summer, and in a way, that still holds true.  Tomorrow marks a year from when my plane landed in Las Vegas, and I now feel WAY more comfortable with who I am and where I fit in my calling as a missionary. I feel finished with my summer and ready for class.
 
On Tuesday we had a return appointment with the woman we had tracted into last week. We ended up bringing a recently returned missionary (Josh Bryan, just back from Monterry, Mexico) and had a nice lesson about the Book of Mormon and her thoughts about what she had read. She told us that she loved the part in the Restoration pamphlet about the restoration of the priesthood to the prophet Joseph Smith - I've never had an investigator mention that specifically. It's amazing that she recognized the importance of the priesthood and of the fact that it's back on the earth again, the fact that someone can, like in times past, authoritatively say "thus saith the Lord". That experience helped me once again realize how grateful I am for the restored church of Jesus Christ and how grateful I am to hold and use that priesthood.
 
My absolute favorite part about being a Zone Leader (and there aren't very many favorite parts) is interviewing people the district leader has taught for baptism. One of our district leaders, Elder Peacock, has been teaching a man named Eddie and set him for baptism on the 10th. Upon meeting and sitting down with Eddie, you could feel how bad he wanted it; he truly had a testimony. We started to talk about his experiences and it turns out that the death of his mother caused him to look for truth and that's how he found the church. As soon as he heard that he could be with his family forever after this life, he was on board; I couldn't help but notice Tad R. Callister's "The Inevitable Apostasy" and LeGrand Richard's "A Marvelous Work and a Wonder" on his bedside table. It's so humbling to meet with people ready to make such a life-changing covenant. This work is awesome.
 
I love you all very much and love reading your letters! Thanks a ton!

Jesse
 
Elders Herlin & Dowdle
 

Monday, July 29, 2013

A Solid Week


 
Hey y'all,

Pretty solid week this week with a lot of good experiences! I can't believe July is almost over; it's weird for me to hear about the upcoming school year. It's pretty normal for missionaries to use major sports seasons to measure how long they've been out, and so I've had a college football season, a world series, a SuperBowl, and an NBA championship (can't forget about the summer olympics, either!). Just coming up on the second and final college football season is crazy for me! I can remember getting Utah/PAC12 updates weekly in emails from Dad and packages from the family up in Logandale...I even had their schedule taped up on the wall of the trailer. Pretty soon we'll be having the annual TurkeyBowl again; not quite sure how we'll be doing that with so many more missionaries than before. Anyways, back to the important stuff:

We've found some new people to teach this week, and we're really stoked about it. When Elder Herlin and I spoke in church, we mentioned that one of the best ways to introduce us to their friends was to have us over for dinner and invite their neighbors. A woman approached us while we were still on the stand and invited us over for this past Tuesday, to eat with them and meet her neighbor. We ended up teaching a lesson to her that night and she committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it! It was great to be able to find someone new to teach, and even better that a member had taken up our challenge and saw the blessings from doing so. It's awesome to have great members that get personally involved with the teaching process and bring their close friends to us.
 
Later on during the week, Elder Herlin and I went on exchanges with one of our district leaders in the zone. I was with his companion, a brand new missionary, for the day. Since he was new and hadn't had a ton of experience, I wanted to help him with some things I had personally needed a lot of help with as a new missionary: contacting people on the street (something I didn't do until about my 6 month mark). On one of the first doors we knocked on, a nice 30 year old woman invited us in, gave us water, sat down on the couch and asked "so how does this work?". A little confused at the question, we asked "how does...what...work?". She responded, "Well, I've let you in and given you water. Aren't you supposed to teach me something?". This new elder and I taught her about the Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and we had a great impromptu lesson. We'll be meeting with her again early this next week. Leaving the house on a spiritual high, I had to explain to my temporary companion, "that doesn't necessarily happen EVERY time you go tracting...", but now that I think about it, why shouldn't it? Anyways, great week, good things are happening, we have some great weather and nothing to complain about!

Love you tons!
 
Jesse


The Lakes Zone Leaders. Elders Dowdle & Herlin
 
 

 

Monday, July 22, 2013

Goodbye Ozzy, burned a shirt, and some flash flooding

Hey guys.
I guess I'll start out with Ozzy. For those of you who have been over to our home, you've met Ozzy; he was our happy, hairy, lovable dog. Apparently he wasn't in the best of health, and after a long and good life, he was put down this past week. It's really odd for me to think about how long he's been around. It's been the majority of my life. There are tons of memories I've had with that dog, and he'll always be a member of the Dowdle family.
 
This has been a different week for us. For one, we're starting to get into monsoon season here in Vegas, and there have been a couple of flash flood storms that have caught us out of nowhere. On Saturday, we held a burning at the Bryans house (it's customary for missionaries to burn a tie at 6 months, a shirt at 12 months, a pair of pants at 18 months, and a full suit after two years). Since we had three guys in our zone hitting a year and two hitting six months, we had a lot of clothing to burn. About thirty minutes before we started the fire, the wind picked up and a storm hit out of nowhere; it reminded me of being back in Texas! The three of us lit up our shirts, and as soon as we did, a gust of wind blew a flaming shirt out of one of the missionaries hands and onto a nearby bush. Luckily, we caught it before we left the Bryans homeless...but it was close!
 
On Friday we had our Leadership Meeting, which happens quarterly and every trainer, district leader and zone leader shows up. Roughly 100 missionaries. On Wednesday the assistants called and asked Elder Herlin and I to present a training on asking inspired questions. We agreed, and man, I was really nervous, haha. It went alright, though, and we filled up our time and now it's over! As soon as we were finished, I felt a huge weight off of my shoulders; I had been stressing about that for some time.
 
At one point during the week, we had three investigators set for baptism! Buuut just like the flash flood storms, some unexpected things happened and now all three are up in the air. Pray that we know what to do and that we'll be led in the right direction!
It's been a pretty long week, but week four looks pretty promising. Things are going well here and we're having a good time!
 
Love you,
Jesse
p.s. (happy late birthday, dad!)


Elders Herlin and Dowdle
(nice background son!)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Time flies...

50%

A year from today and I'll be in The Woodlands, Texas. We're not supposed to be thinking about our return date, but it's really put a lot in perspective. I think about where I was and, more importantly, WHO I was a year ago today and it's remarkable. I'm pretty sure we were in Salt Lake this time last year, buying (last minute, of course) the last little bit of my mission clothes. I think of the expectations I had, the fears and the excitement. I remember wondering about what it'd be like to be a year out. I'm now wondering what I'll be thinking about a year from now; how I'll feel, what I'll look back on. This has been an amazing year, and I wouldn't trade the experiences I had for anything.


I think I'll do a quick run down of the past year. You know, in case you missed something-

July 18th - Dropped off at the MTC. Met my companion, Elder Zane Kaelberer. Loved my district and had a great time; learned a ton.

Early August had me in Vegas. Met my trainer, Elder Jesse Millar from San Antonio. Taught some of my first investigators, started to learn how to survive in Logandale, Nevada.

Millar left and Elder Connor Steenstra moved into our little trailer. We taught a lot and had a good time together.

Got my transfer call and moved down to Tule Springs with Elder Jared Craft. Elder Craft and I served together for 8 weeks before he went home for wrist surgery.

Spent the remainder of the transfer with my two Zone Leaders, Elder Sean Larson and Eddie Woodard. Made two great friends and learned a lot from their example.

Got the training call and met Elder Corey Biggs, from Huntsville, Alabama. Spent three months together to cap off my 6 months in Tule Springs.

President called and put me with Elder Tristan Torgersen as a Zone Leader. Torg left me for the office and now I'm with Elder Zach Herlin of Frisco, Texas.

It's been a ride, for sure! I'm really looking forward to the year ahead of me. This week has been great; I've taught the most this week than ever before in my mission. Herlin and I are getting along great and we crack each other up (reminds me of Matt Powers a bit, too funny). We have a baptism on the 28th for a nine year old girl named Natalia, she's been a lot of fun to teach and is incredibly intelligent. Things are going really well in the Lakes, and I hope they're just as good back home!

Love you so much!

Jesse

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Bunk beds, two texans, and ghost peppers...

Week one of Transfer 9.

Monday and Tuesday might have been the busiest days of my mission thus far. 3 companionships in the zone changed housing, so we've been bouncing all over the zone trying to get things in order and make sure everyone is situated. We moved out of the Bryans (they're the greatest) on Tuesday into President Teshima's place and had to disassemble the bunk beds and move them out. I've used more powertools on my mission than I have in my life. The funny thing is that the companionship that initially wanted the bunk bed changed their mind. We've been driving a bunk bed around Vegas in our minivan for a week. It's sitting in the parking lot as we speak. Anyways, a lot of administrative stuff went down and we didn't really get time to unpack (or breathe) until Wednesday. Busy weeks are good weeks, though!

I've loved this last week with Elder Herlin. He's from Dallas, Texas, (Frisco, to be exact), so everybody has been making the "two texans" jokes. He went to BYU for a year to study Mechanical Engineering, and is a really great guy. This is the first time he's been in Vegas for 7.5 months, so he's enjoying his time back in civilization. We're laughing a lot and teaching a lot, and we can already see that a lot of good things are on the horizon. We had a family just move into the area and the daughter was just baptized into the singles ward, so they're interested and have potential. We're still teaching the ten year old boy Leo, and now his nine year old sister Emily is going to church with him as well. We also found another family with an unbaptized nine year old, so we'll start teaching her this week, too. We have a lesson tonight with a part-member family, and hopefully we'll pick up a new investigator. Things are really looking good.


The 4th of July was non-proselyting after 6pm, so we went over to Elder Kaelberer and Elder White's place to play some pool and have some pizza. Well, Elder White had a bag of ghost peppers (from who knows where) and convinced us to try one. Terrible idea. Seriously, never ever eat a ghost pepper. If there's anything to take away from this week, it's to abstain from ghost peppers. I'll send the video. Anywho, been a good week and we're excited for the next one!

Love,

Jesse