Monday, July 14, 2014

I leave you with my testimony...

Well, it's here!

The week finished up quietly and so did I; I tried to leave the ward and the zone with as little fanfare as possible. Whenever I would stress or worry, I'd receive a gentle reminder from the Lord that the work is going to move along just fine without me. I let Palmer and Osburn take over on Sunday and it was as if I wasn't even there - they don't need me and I'm proud of them. While it all feels so natural, it feels alien as well - it feels like I'm just going to get transferred again. 

When you finish up a lesson, a conversation, or a commitment, you bear testimony to seal it. I'll close this blog with a testimony as well, to everyone who reads it:

Jesus Christ is the Son of God. It's only through Him that we can find happiness - real, lasting happiness. He came to Earth and was the perfect example - He showed us how to live, how to love, and how to interact with each other. He paid our debt, taking upon himself every sin as well as every pain and sickness that the children of men would ever experience. He died, and three days later He rose from the grave, defeating death and giving all men the privilege of living again. He lives today. He loves us all and knows us individually.

His church is found in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. God the Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the boy Joseph Smith and called him to be a prophet in the early 1800's, re-establishing the original church of Jesus Christ again upon the Earth. It's only within this church that the ordinances of salvation can be performed by men who have authority from God to do so. 

Because of these simple truths, I can live together with my family in Heaven forever. The knowledge of a loving God and a loving Savior has helped me understand my self-worth and why things are how they are.

I know this. God is our Father and He doesn't want us to be confused; I asked for guidance and understanding and He gave it to me. This is real, the only real thing in a world that worships fantasy. I would encourage all to ask God if these things are true. He'll show you, if you want to know.

What a ride. 
I love you, and I'll speak to you very, very soon.

Jesse
 
Leaving Las Vegas...for a while...
 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Greg's Baptism and the 4th of July

I don't even know where to begin...
 
This has been an amazing week. We set a personal record for lessons taught in this area and we were able to teach a few new investigators who want to be baptized! Monday morning a member that we're close with texted us and wanted us to teach one of her friends in her home that night - that's a rare occurrence, so we were happy to oblige. We were able to have several lessons and answer many of her questions over the course of the week; this week she'll be bringing her whole family to the lessons so they can go through it all together. It's been great to see her "get it" and understand what baptism and the Lord's church can really do for her. This week I've been letting Elder Palmer take the lead in preparation for my leaving and he's been doing great; the lessons these week have been smooth and well-taught with him taking the reins.
 
The 4th was a lot of fun! We had to be with a member by 6:00pm and home by 9/9:30, so we went to a members home for a 4th of July party and watched the fireworks from their rooftop deck. The family (the Geists) invited the Moultons over as well, so it was fun to all be together the day before Greg's baptism. President Ahlander also let us watch some certain movies, such as "The Prince of Egypt", "The Best Two Years", "The RM", "17 Miracles", and get this: "How to Train Your Dragon" and "Frozen". We only had time for "The Prince of Egypt" and "The Best Two Years" though, but it still made for a great holiday.
 
Greg's baptism on Saturday was incredible. He was so prepared, it wasn't even funny - he's been waiting for this day for a couple of weeks, and his family has been waiting for a couple of years. It's been such an honor to be able to teach him and his family and to see the subtle transformation take place. His two older children that are out of state came into town for the baptism and came to church for the confirmation. His oldest son and his wife bore powerful testimony during the meeting and we watched from the back of the chapel as the ward swarmed them after the closing prayer. It felt so good to see the members wrap their arms around the Moultons and congratulate them. All day long I kept thinking about Dani's (Greg's wife) testimony and the way that she ended it, talking about how they're headed for the temple as a family and that she can't wait. The greatest joy I've ever felt comes from the knowledge that the families I've been blessed to work with will soon make covenants in the temple, sealing them together as a family for eternity. All I wanted to accomplish as a missionary is to provide for a family what missionaries provided for mine several years ago - I'm incredibly grateful that I've been able to see that come to pass.
 
I've been making a serious effort to ignore the clock, and I feel like it's been working. This doesn't feel like the last week. People keep saying it, I know that it is, but it sincerely feels like any other week. I don't know when it's planning on sinking in, but I'm not looking forward to it. I'll just keep working until they tell me it's time; I won't let up until then. I'll be able to email again next week, so this isn't the end - I love you so much and I'm excited to tell you these things in person.
 
Jesse 
 
Greg Moulton's baptism

Mission-mobil break-in. Nice...
 
 

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

"Trunky Papers" and some golf therapy!!

Hey guys!

During your last three weeks of your last transfer, the mission mails you your "trunky papers", an assortment of forms to fill out and send back for mission history. They're blank pages with titles at the top that say things like "My Goals", "Most Spiritual Experiences", "Major Things I've Learned", "My Testimony". I filled them out the best I could and sent them back, happy to get them off of my desk. They sat there for a couple of days, a constant reminder of my remaining time. It was nice to sit down and reflect on some important things for a little bit; I felt relatively selfish doing so, though. It's somewhat of a shame that we're to fill them out with a couple of weeks to go still, because there are still some experiences waiting that might affect what I wrote on those papers. Some of those experiences happened this week.

We taught more than normal this week, and I'm really grateful for that - after last week of practicing and meetings, it was nice to teach and get my hands a bit dirty. We were able to meet with some people we hadn't met with in a long time, maybe about six weeks time, due to either unavoidable circumstances (someone had a baby) or avoidable circumstances (motivation). Either way, some good lessons and good experiences; one of our investigators believes it all and is ready for baptism, but needs to get married first and we're unsure as to when they're going to do that. Another funny/odd experience: we set up a lesson with a less-active member the ward told us to visit, show up to his house and it's this forest enclosed by a huge wooden fence. We buzz the bell, he lets us in and we're in this beautiful wooded compound - turns out he's the caretaker for Paul Mitchell's Las Vegas house. It's hidden in our ward out in the desert a little bit, but it was neat - he took us on a tour. There are some celebrities that live in the custom homes in our ward: the pawn stars guy lives across from some members, Pauly D lives a block south of us...kind of weird. 

Anyways, Greg Moulton had his baptismal interview and did great! We met right before for a little review lesson and he pulls out all of the lesson pamphlets out of his pocket and goes, "I've been studying". He's so prepared it's not even funny; I'm so excited to see what he can do and who he's going to be able to help in his service in the church. That family is on fire and I'm doing my best to just stay out of their way as they keep heading for the temple. His baptism is the 5th at 5:00 and Tunney's giving the talk again; he's so stoked. I'm so grateful for this last area and the people I've met here...it's been a curveball in my mission, but the best one, for sure.

Today ought to be fun - we'll be playing volleyball with Herlin's zone and then Palmer and I are golfing at a local (and cheap) par 3 course with Tunney and his companion. Golf therapy is much needed at this point.

Love you all so much!

Jesse

Friday, June 27, 2014

Musical Fireside and Samia went through the Temple

Hey there -

This has been a ridiculously busy week with a lot going on! I mentioned last week how things need to slow down a bit; this week felt about a month long, but in a good way.
 
So, first things first - I'm in a trio again (see February of 2013)! There's this guy from Las Vegas who can't serve for medical reasons, and so his Stake President and President Ahlander worked something out where he can serve here during proselyting hours and go home at night - we were chosen as his first companionship. His name is Elder Osburn and he's a good guy; he did a year of school at BYUI and is ready to serve the best he can! He drives to our place at 8:00am and then drives home at around 7:00pm. I've had to leave the companionship several times this week, and so I'd leave the area in the capable hands of Elder Palmer as acting senior companion. He's been doing great and handles it really well - it's a good opportunity for him to pretty much "train" a new missionary and he said he's been learning a lot this week.
 
The reason why I've been leaving Palmer and Osburn alone a lot is because I've been practicing for a Musical Fireside we had as a mission last night! Our mission started holding these firesides once a month and the program is entirely missionaries making music - everyone in the valley can come if they bring an investigator. They've been really successful (this is only the third time) and so I wanted to play at this one since it's my last. I got together with Elder Carson, a great pianist and Sister Baird (really good voice) and we wrote a song this week to play last night at the fireside. It's been stressful because we were on a time crunch and practiced every day this week, but it all paid off last night and it was a really good time; I think there were around 500 people in attendance, so that's pretty sweet.
 
The highlight of the week was Samia Witwit's trip to the temple this Saturday! She was baptized last June and she received her endowments at the Las Vegas temple this weekend - awesome experience. Elder Herlin and I were companions for the day and we were picked up by former Elders Torgersen, Peacock, and Kredt. It was a ton of fun to see those guys again, albeit kind of weird; it doesn't seem right to see them outside of the context of a mission. It was great to see Sam again and to see how happy she was, surrounded by people who support her in the house of the Lord.
 
Awesome week; looking forward to another one! Love you all so much -
 
Jesse
 
Samia and her "support staff"
 

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Power of Prayer

Hey everyone!

Gah I can't believe I'm writing another email already...this has to slow down sometime soon, because I feel like I'm losing time faster than I can use it. I'm more sensitive to chapter 8 of Preach My Gospel, "How Do I Use Time Wisely?", now that mine is coming to a close. With that being said, it's been another good week, albeit a quick one.
 
I alluded to some good news last week, and here it is. Elder Palmer and I spoke last Sunday on the Book of Mormon (I think I told you that last week) and then we taught Sunday School right afterwards on Faith in Jesus Christ. We were stressed out all day preparing for these two hours of church, making sure we didn't look like dorks in either instance. We finished up the Sunday School lesson and we're packing up our things, and Greg Moulton walks up to me. He says, "Something today inspired me; call it a revelation. What steps do I have to take to get into that tank back there?". I just hugged him; it was a while before I could compose myself and respond. We had been working with that family several times a week for the past six weeks and praying for them constantly; ward council was praying for them, and I know that his family was praying unceasingly. It was incredible to be there in the moment God answered many, many prayers (including Greg's). We're going over to the Moulton's several times a week again, but this time, it's to prepare Greg to be baptized on the 5th of July.
 
We've been on a spiritual high from that experience all week, and it's carried into everything else. A kid we go out and work with a lot from the ward called us a couple of days ago and has a friend that wants to learn more - we're meeting with her this Tuesday. We got a text from Church Headquarters for a woman who visited the St George temple and wanted a visit from the missionaries. Too many good things are happening for me to even handle right now - I love it. So incredibly blessed.
 
Love you so much! Have a good one.
 
Jesse
 
The area I get to serve in and the church we attend
 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The physical and emotional healing of the Atonement

Hey fam -
 
It's weird re-learning how to work with a car.
 
I'll see 104 on the in-car thermometer and wish I was outside biking in it. That's normally when I step outside and realize I'm crazy.
 
It really has been such a great week. We've had some amazing experiences that I promised not to talk about for a couple of days, so I'll fill you in on it next week, but we've been constantly reminded of the love our Father in Heaven has for all of His children. We've always been acutely aware that prayer is real; He answers to those who ask in faith. I'm so pleased and blessed for the way this last transfer of my mission is turning out and I'm grateful to those who have offered up prayers in my behalf. I feel them.
 
We had dinner with the Moultons (Tatum's family, Tunney's aunt/uncle) this past Saturday and had a great time - Sis Moulton apparently won Cupcake Wars a while ago and made us an assortment of the best cupcakes I've ever tasted in my life...they were phenomenal. Afterwards we taught a lesson about the Atonement, the sacrifice, of Jesus Christ. We shared a scripture from the Book of Mormon, found in 1st Nephi 19:9. It reads:
 
"9 And the world, because of their iniquity, shall judge him to be a thing of naught; wherefore they scourge him, and he suffereth it; and they smite him, and he suffereth it. Yea, they spit‍ upon him, and he suffereth it, because of his loving kindness‍ and his long-suffering‍ towards the children of men".
 
I love that the Book of Mormon constantly testifies and prophesies of Christ (mentions Him in some form or fashion every 1.7 verses) and that it teaches in depth about His Atonement. This verse talks about being scourged and smitten, but it's interesting to note that he was spit upon. The scourging and smiting are physical tortures; the spitting, emotional. Christ suffered for us so that we can be forgiven of sin, but also so that we could be emotionally healed; we can use the enabling power of His Atonement as well.
 
We spoke in church and my topic was how the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. Five minutes before my talk, I lost my notebook. I was so nervous, looking everywhere for it. I had to speak for ~10 minutes without notes or a guideline of any kind. After the meeting, the notebook surfaced behind the seat next to me - I have the worst luck speaking in this ward.
 
Amazing week, excited to tell you all about the upcoming one :)
Love,

Jesse

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Agency and Answers

Hey family!

I seriously cannot believe that it's June. Three huge groups of missionaries came out in 2012, the June group (Tews), the July group (my group), and the August group (Tunney and Herlin). Each one of these waves of missionaries had around 25 come in, so we're seeing the numbers of missionaries out here in Vegas West begin to recede with the first supergroup heading home today. I've been around these missionaries my entire mission, and so it's surreal to see some of these great friends leave. When companions I've really loved have gone home in the past, it felt nothing like this because the end felt so far away. However, with the end looming in the distance I've felt claustrophobic around these "dead men walking"; I don't like being reminded of the eventual and inevitable end of my service.
 
With all of the missionaries going home (and a lot of missionaries (mostly sisters) coming in), there have been a lot of areas closing down/collapsing and a ton of double-transfers. The ward right below us is being double-transferred and getting sister missionaries, but they can't live with the single male that the elders were living with this transfer, so we're switching living situations with them (since we live in a casita, a separate living area). This switch up is taking us out of our ward boundaries, so as a result we get a car this transfer! It's bittersweet because Elder Palmer and I were somewhat looking forward to biking around in 120 degree weather, but our effectiveness as missionaries will be through the roof with some wheels; we'll have to fill our day up even more when we plan now!

Some of the people we're teaching have been struggling with recognizing their answer from God on whether or not what we've said is true. Almost in response to their (and I'm sure many others) dilemma, an Ensign article came out this month about recognizing revelation called Agency and Answers by Elder Richard G. Scott (you can read it here 
https://www.lds.org/ensign/2014/06/agency-and-answers-recognizing-revelation?lang=eng). It's a wonderful talk that we've shared with many this week and has helped them (and us) recognize the way God talks to us. As I read and study more and more, I realize that the Lord respects our agency and demands accountability, which I absolutely love. He wants to see what we'll do with the truth he's already given us. Read the talk and let me know what you think!

Love you all so much! Good week this week and a better one up ahead.
 
Jesse

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

New people to teach and a morning in Death Valley, CA

Hey, everyone - 

This has been another great week, especially as far as finding and expanding our teaching pool goes. After a baptism, you're always afraid of having to fill up the pool of people to teach; finding, especially through your own efforts, is pretty difficult. Luckily, we were able to find several new people this week we're really excited about and a couple of them are already progressing!

The part-member family we taught on Wednesday was great - we show up for dinner and a lesson and they invited over their nonmember neighbors as well! We were pleasantly surprised; we had talked to the neighbors earlier in the week from street contacting, so we already had somewhat of a relationship with them. The lesson went very well - they were asking some great (and sincere) questions and committed to church this upcoming week. 

On Thursday, we saw two teenagers get out of a van as we were biking by, so we stopped to talk to them. They live right down the street from the church, said they've always been interested and accepted a return appointment for Saturday. We go in Saturday and they're actually there; we were half-expecting two 18 year old boys to no-show, but they were ready and curious. After the lesson and a really great prayer from one of the guys, they committed to work towards a baptismal date in late June. We have another lesson with them tonight and we'll let you know how that goes!

All in all, great week and our teaching pool is filling up! Today for P-day we went to Death Valley - a large amount of it is actually in our zone, Lone Mountain, so we've been up there all morning. I'll send some pictures; it was pretty crazy, but crazy fun.

Love you so much!

Jesse
 
Proud of my roots during a Death Valley sunrise
 
 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tatum's baptism and some great contacting

Hey guys - 

Best week in the area thus far. Tatum was baptized this Saturday and it was such a spiritual service! Because she's Tunney's cousin, he got to come and give the talk on baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost and it was such an awesome experience to witness; he called it the "highlight of [his] mission". We've been so grateful to have been able to teach such an intelligent and intuitive young women as she's really desired to know what's true. Her entire age class was there at the baptism and I'm so happy the ward was so supportive - this is the perfect place to finish a mission. 

Although Tatum's baptism was the highlight, the rest of the week has been really fruitful. Through talking to everyone we see, we've found several part-member families that haven't been on the ward records. One of them was excited to see us; he mentioned how he just ran into his old Stake President at a gas station and how seeing us was a sign that he needed to start coming back. His nonmember wife was excited to meet with us and they set up an appointment for dinner this Wednesday. Things are happening here and we're way happy about it; the ward hasn't seen this amount of work for a couple of months. We're grateful that we have such a great ward to bring these people to, as well; we don't have to worry about the ward being on it's best behavior when we bring these people to church. 

We invited a young man who was contacted by missionaries to Tatum's baptism and to our surprise, he accepted. After the baptism we were able to take him on a church tour, teach him a lesson, and set him for baptism for the first week in June! He was prepared and it was an amazing experience. However, he's 19 and so we set up a lesson yesterday with the YSA sisters to pass him off and that went super well - he's all passed off and still excited for baptism. Amazing week - next week has the potential to be just as good.

I love you so much!

Jesse
 
Tatum's family at her baptism

Elder Dowdle, Tatum, and Elder Palmer

Elders Dowdle and Biggs were with Todd and Shea Hill as they
were sealed together as a family at the Las Vegas Temple
 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Flat-tops and some service work

Hey there -
 
It was so much fun being able to Skype yesterday! It's so weird to think that yesterday was the last video chat until July; four General Conferences = done, four calls home = done. I don't like it. Every time calling home has been fun, but different, as I've been in different stages during the mission at different times. Now that this last call is over, it's time to keep my head down and work hard until mid-July.
 
This has probably been our slowest week. The casita we were living in was undergoing some pretty heavy construction, and so we moved in with the Zone Leaders for the week until the work was done. Living in a four man apartment again was pretty fun, albeit distracting, but Elder Palmer and I were able to get out and get some things done. At one point we were talking about Dad getting a flat-top on his mission, which, of course, led to discussion of US getting flat-tops. I said the only way I'd get a flat-top is if Tunney got one, knowing that he'd never get one. He got one...so I did too. It's hilarious. The Zone Leaders cover Indian Springs as well, a small town up the 95, and so we went with them one morning to pick up trash around the town - that was fun, almost entirely because Indian Springs is pretty strange. 
 
We spent a lot of the week helping a girl named Tatum get ready for her baptism! Funny story, she's actually Elder Tunney's cousin, and so it's been neat for me to be able to leave him and go teach members of his family! She'll be getting baptized this coming Saturday and we're really excited about it; she's young, 12/13, but grasping it all extremely well and she, and her family, is on fire - we love them. That's going to make for a great weekend and it'll be Elder Palmer's first baptism, so that'll be awesome.
 
Anyways, great week and a better one coming up. Love you tons!

Jesse
 
Just minutes before getting my flat-top

Elder Tews giving Elder Tunney his flat-top

Elder Dowdle and Elder Palmer cleaning up Indian Springs
 

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Time is flying by

Hey guys!
 
I can't believe I'm sitting down to write another email already. These past two weeks in this area seem like such a blur, I can hardly believe it. Elder Palmer is doing so well out here, teaching and talking to people like he's been out a year. The other day it finally got a little toasty out (probably around 95-97 degrees) and poor Palmer was just eaten up by the sun - a Canadian lobster. A rare delicacy. However, his attitude is awesome and the work in this ward is fun with him by my side.
 
In order to be counted as a resident of the state of Utah (which is crucial for my tuition this fall), I have to have a Utah drivers license issued before May 1st. I told one of my zone leaders, Elder Tews, about this and he called President to ask for permission for us to go up to Utah and get it...and permission was granted! So on April 30th, Elder Tews and I went on exchanges and rode the 15 up to Hurricane, Utah, to get my drivers license! It was a trip to be back in Utah again, but we got there, got the license, and headed back...after a little stop at Chick-Fil-A, of course :)
 
The people that we're teaching are making great progress; a family we've been working with came to Stake Conference this weekend and really enjoyed it! It's so neat for me to be with Elder Palmer and experience his "firsts" along with him; his first lesson, first investigators, first rejection. We're so filled with love for the people we've been blessed to teach, and when they keep their commitments and come closer to fully repenting, we're the happiest we've ever been. Good things are happening here and it's such a blessing to be trusted with the people in this little part of the vineyard.
 
I love you all and I'm excited to Skype with you on Mothers Day!
 
Jesse
 
He sends these pictures and thinks I'm not going to put them on the blog???
 
 

Monday, April 28, 2014

First week with Elder Palmer and Todd and Shea Hill sealed in the Temple

This has been an awesome Week 1.
 
It's been so much fun being with Elder Palmer these past couple of days, and I'm really impressed by him. He's constantly looking for ways to improve and be a better missionary, and he's incredibly humble about the things he does well. Right before his first lesson this week, he was so nervous about what he's going to say or if the family will be able to feel the spirit. He was great and did just fine; I wish I had been teaching like that my first week. We get along really well, too, and have been having a good time together as we've been working in the Valley Vista ward.
 
Being on bike makes for such a rewarding night. I've honestly never gone to bed so fast in my entire life. We've been working nonstop the entire week, getting out and making contact with the people that past missionaries were working with as well as the majority of the member base. It's not too often that an area gets double-transferred, and so we have to put in a little more effort the first couple of weeks to ensure everything is how it's supposed to be. The ward is fantastic; the members are so nice and accommodating as well as pretty diverse. We have a couple of very new neighborhoods in which there are a lot of younger families and then we have a lot of custom lots with families who were out here before the highway was built. The ward has been very good to us this week as we've been trying to find out what exactly is going on.
 
About a year and a week ago, Shea Hill was baptized out in Tule Springs. This past Saturday, I was able to go to the Las Vegas temple and witness her and her husband, Todd, receive their endowments and be sealed together as a family - forever. It was absolutely incredible. The sealing ordinance was so beautiful and simply done; when they brought in their children, I lost it. It reminded me so much of my own sealing to my parents, and I was filled with the Spirit as I witnessed another family participate in an ordinance that means everything to them. I love those guys so much, and it was so good to see them dressed in white together at the temple. 2014 has been a good year.
 
Anyways, having fun and working hard! Love you guys so much and I'll talk to you next week!
 
Jesse
 
Elder Palmer and Elder Dowdle
 

Monday, April 21, 2014

I get to train for my final 12 weeks!!!!


 
So.....I'm training!

I got the call from President Ahlander on Tuesday, and it threw Tunney and I for a loop. We had just had interviews a couple of weeks before, and Pres had said that I'd most likely be traveling for the rest of my mission. Definite curveball - we weren't expecting that at all. There are only two missionaries coming out this transfer: a spanish sister, and an elder, and so I'm to train this lone elder for the rest of my mission and I couldn't be more excited. I've always wanted to finish my mission training but it got to the point where I didn't think it could (or would) happen. Another curveball? I'm on bike for the first time! I'll be serving in the Valley Vista ward in the Lone Mountain stake and we'll be double-transferred in, so it'll be a fresh start with a new missionary and I'm so pumped to work harder than ever these last two transfers.

Since we live with the AP's, they gave me a little bit of information about my new companion and it got me really excited: his name is Elder Palmer and he's from Raymond, Alberta! It's about 45 minutes away from Cardston which is pretty cool. I'm so excited and it's about time I serve with a Canadian!

I've been thinking all week about how nice it's going to be to get back in the trenches. I don't have to worry about meetings, about trainings; no more spotlight, no public perception. For these last twelve weeks, I'm off the grid, and the only things I need to worry about are the work in the Valley Vista ward and the development of a new missionary. It'll be a trip to go back to it all after almost a year of some sort of leadership, but it's something I've wanted for a long time now. It's something I didn't think I'd get and an opportunity that 26 or so other missionaries that go home with me don't have. I have to make the most of it, and I will.

Elder Birch (probably the best in the mission) will be taking my spot, and that's an honor. The traveling elders will continue to travel and with Elder Birch in the mix now, it'll just keep getting better and better. It's been a crazy six months or so, but I couldn't have created a more picture-perfect ending scenario for my mission.

Here's to the next (and the last) twelve weeks.

I love you!

Jesse

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

All over Southern Nevada

Hey y'all - 

Another super fun week with a lot of driving and traveling - we were just about everywhere in southern Nevada. We spent a couple of hours in Alamo, Nevada, spent a day in Mesquite, then got to spend days in Tule Springs and Bonanza zone. We went from the middle of nowhere to the letter streets in downtown Vegas, so it was a super eventful and varied week.

Monday night we left for Mesquite and spent the night with Elder Herlin and his companion, Elder Frost (they're the Zone Leaders out there). It was good to see Herlin again; we sat in on their Zone Training Meeting and then followed the Panaca and Alamo elders back to their respective towns. The fastest way to Panaca from Mesquite is through St. George, Utah, so we stopped for lunch there and made our way to Panaca through some small towns like Enterprise, Utah. I loved the drive - it reminded me of the yearly Dowdle road trip up to Utah and the surrounding states. We made our way back late that night and spent the next day in Mesquite. It was so much fun - I was with a spanish-speaking companionship, Elder Scola and his trainee, Elder Fotheringham. Sitting in on lessons in a different language was a trip, but it was a sweet experience to watch these two teach and contact people. 

After a planning day down in Vegas, I was up in Tule again on bike with a companionship, and let me tell you - I love being on a bike. You feel somewhat ridiculous, and so it's much easier talking to people on the street; you already feel silly, so why not talk to them? These two elders in particular didn't really need me at all - they were teaching really well and leaving effective commitments. I love to see that. The next day was in Bonanza zone and holy cow...that was the most people I've ever talked to in a single day. We were on bike and probably spent an hour talking to people for every 5 or 6 houses we passed...we weren't moving very quickly. The first person we talked to was Rudy, and he set up an appointment with us later that night. Long story short, we went back, he was there, we taught him, and he's set for baptism on the 17th of May. Amazing day - I'd love to serve in that area (J street and Washington). 

Last night was the missions first musical fireside, and it was so much fun - such a hit, we're going to start doing it on a monthly basis. 330+ people showed up, and so it's only going to get bigger as we keep doing it.

The best part of the week? Charisa McNary was baptized this Friday night! It was so awesome and such a spiritual night - she's been learning and attending church for a while now, and so she was excited to finally be able to make that special covenant, that special promise, with God. I love her and Duane, her husband, and I'm so excited to see what the rest of their life is going to be like now. 

Great week, great people. I'm in love with what I'm doing. Thanks for everything and I love you!

Jesse

Monday, April 7, 2014

What a great Conference weekend!!!!

Hey - super good conference, huh?

I was looking forward to it all week and now it's gone! So many great messages, though - I had some questions and thoughts going into conference this year (like they tell us to do; this is my first time actually doing it) and they were answered and addressed pretty quickly in the first couple of sessions. About three speakers in, I had the realization that what I'm hearing is pure, unadulterated doctrine. The Spirit was bearing witness so strongly of all of the truth I was hearing that I began to panic, wondering if I was picking up on all of the truth that I need to. I had to calm myself down a little bit and remind myself that I'll be able to read the talks in a few days time - I don't have to grab everything first listen. 

For those not familiar with the structure of our church, it's identical to that found in the primitive church established by Christ himself. Jesus Christ called 12 apostles to lead and direct the church, giving them power and authority to preach and to act in the name of God; this was done to ensure order and provide saving ordinances, such as baptism. After the crucifixion of Christ, the church was left in the hands of the apostles, who were persecuted and eventually killed/died. 

Because we claim to be the very same church Christ established in the meridian of time, we have the same structure He had organized - apostles and prophets. These modern-day apostles and prophets have the same power and authority and the same job description as their ancient predecessors, Peter, James, John, etc. That job description is to preach the gospel and to call the world to repentance. The apostles of today did just that this past weekend. 

Elder Holland called the world to repent of it's tendency to "create God in the image of man"; Elder Anderson called the world to repent, claiming that changes in civil law do not change the moral laws of God; Elder Hales called the world to repent of "selective obedience", picking and choosing which commandments are convenient. They couldn't have been more clear. Calling the world to repentance is just half of the job, though. We also heard peaceful and reassuring doctrine: Sister Reeves reminded us how merciful the Savior is; President Uchtdorf promised us happiness if we show more gratitude; President Monson testified of God's reality and personal love for us all. 

How grateful am I for the words and warnings of modern-day prophets and apostles. Those who lived during Ezekiel's day didn't have the book of Ezekiel; they had Ezekiel, the man. The children of Israel didn't get to study from the book of Genesis because they had Moses in person to tell them information pertinent to them in their specific time and circumstance. I'm forever grateful for a God who loves me enough to give me a prophet for my specific time and circumstance. If I listen to their counsel, I'll be just fine.

Love you and hope you had a good week!

Jesse

Monday, March 31, 2014

Lots of work, a wedding, and some French!!

Hey everyone!

For some reason, this week was brutal - we were absolutely worn out. We had some pretty labor-intensive exchanges this week, though, biking around and doing service. This week we were in South, Spring Mountain, Lakes, and Las Vegas zones, and we had a pretty good time. I was lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time for some sweet experiences, and it was pretty awesome to be able to share them with two deserving missionaries. Most, if not all, stemmed from trying to teach at all times and in all places; a mental shift from the normal mindset of a normal missionary. We too often believe that we can only teach after an opening prayer in somebody's living room, but we can teach and testify in everyday conversation with anyone and everyone, and it truly makes a difference. 

This week I've been working with a lot of missionaries on that very concept, teaching whenever we can. It's amazing how many people talk to you when you're just real with them...missionaries have a nasty habit of reciting the old, "Hi, we're missionaries from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and we're sharing a message about Jesus Christ". About halfway through that sentence, most people decide they don't want to listen; it's rote and it feels like we're talking to them out of obligation. People are much more receptive when you're 1) talking like a person and when you're 2) doing it out of love. "Hey dude, I've got something that means a lot to me and I want you to have it", is way more personable and way more effective. I've seen more success in being myself than I ever did trying to be a "missionary"; yes, I'm Elder Dowdle, but I'm Elder Dowdle, and I need to act like it. When you integrate your personality with sharing the gospel, it becomes easier and more effective. It becomes fun. It becomes what it's supposed to be. 
 
We took this Saturday off because a part-member family we've been working with for a couple months (and love a ton) got married! It was so much fun and so sweet to see Duane and Charisa McNary tie the knot. We helped Duane set up the whole day and he was so nervous, it was pretty adorable. He took us out to BBQ for lunch and while we were driving there, he just explodes and yells, "I'M GETTING MARRIED!!!". Haha we love these two and I'm so happy for them! Manning came down from Provo and took their wedding photos for them; it was awesome to see him again (Torg is probably coming down next week - that'll be fun, too!). Charisa will be getting baptized on April 11th and I couldn't be more excited. 
Something that I never thought would happen happened this week: I used my high school French. I contacted this black guy across the street and starting walking over to talk to him. The other two elders were caught on the other side due to traffic, and so I approached him alone and started a conversation. When I was a couple of words into the contact, I realized he wasn't understanding me. I don't know why, but I stopped and said, "parlez-vous francais?". He lit up and starting rattling off in French, telling me he moved here from the Congo in Africa 8 months ago and has been learning English at a catholic church but wants to go to a "mormon church". By this time, one of the elders I was with (Elder Ballard) comes up beside me...and starts speaking to the guy in French! I was floored. Turns out he's an old referral that never got contacted due to the language barrier. In our broken French, we set up a lesson and later found a translator to accompany the elders to the lesson. Crazy experience, but pretty fun.

Anyways, looking forward to this next week and conference! Love you and I'll talk to you then!

Jesse

Monday, March 24, 2014

Leadership Training last week

Hey guys!

It's been a good week spent with some good Elders. We started the week in Tule Springs, then Elkhorn Springs, had a day to plan for Leadership Training Meeting, had LTM the next day (9:00am to 4:00pm meeting...killer), then finished out the week in Red Rock and at church. So many missionaries impressed me this week, and due to their faith, we had a lot of cool experiences.

I'm really glad Leadership Training is over with haha. Elder Tunney and I had to present a training on doing effective exchanges and we were stressing all week about it; it's been a long time since we've had to give a training, let alone a training together. Thanks heavens it went over pretty well with the mission - we got some good feedback on it afterwards. The entire experience just reaffirmed to me the fact that I'm so much happier with the daily mission grind. I'd much rather wake up and work all day than have to plan and give a training in front of 100+ missionaries. Sombody else can do that; I'll take notes. 

We did a lot of contacting people on the street this week, and in a couple of interactions, I was pretty straightforward with some people, saying what (I'd like to think) the Spirit would have me say. Walking away from a few interactions, several missionaries have asked, "How did you learn to be so bold?". I really haven't been any more bold, but I've definitely been more honest with people; there's a big difference there. Bold can come off as overbearing, but honesty carries the Spirit. Being increasingly aware of the passing days as of late, I've come to the conclusion that I don't have time to dance around subjects with people anymore. They need to know and understand exactly who I represent and why I interrupt their day with my message. The quicker I can get them to feel the Spirit, the more likely they will keep talking to me. The best (only) way to effectively bring the Spirit is to speak truth, and so I'll give them truth, even if it's not what they want to hear. Coming in contact with God can be unpleasant when the way you're living isn't in harmony with how He'd like you to be, but the truth remains. Such a cool job, really; raising a voice of warning, spreading the good news, inviting people to repent. Ezekiel 33:1-6 explains the job of a watchman, and I'm doing the best that I can to "blow the trumpet".

Love you all so much!
Jesse
 
3 meat combo at the John Mull's Roadkill Grill
 

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Back to Work

Hello hello - 

What I thought would be a nice reprieve from traveling from place to place for three weeks has been one of the slower weeks of my mission! This past week has just been crawling by and I'm so ready to get back on the road. I'm glad we tried it out, though, because now we know to schedule some exchanges for Week 1 of next transfer instead of taking a break. After meeting with President Ahlander several times, I'm starting to realize that this assignment won't be dying with me; President is excited about the progress and the feedback he's getting from missionaries we've been out with and he wants this to continue after we go home. With that being said, we're paying more attention to the efficiency of the entire process so that when we go home, our replacements inherit a non-jank, well-oiled system. 

This next week looks pretty fun, with time in Tule Springs, Elkhorn Springs, and Red Rock. We have Leadership Training on Friday, so we won't be going on exchanges then. We have to give a training on going on effective exchanges, and I'm not necessarily looking forward to it; not quite sure yet as to how we're going to make that fun and interesting. I'm sure it'll be fine, though! 

There's an article in this month's Ensign that I really liked about ministering to others. A section that stuck with me was about finding "the one". Elder David A. Bednar was in England, if I remember correctly, and mentioned that the Apostles are always sent to find "the one" when they travel; they just happen to go to meetings and speak to multitudes on the way. And even then, he's not speaking to a lot of people, he's speaking to a group of assembled "ones". It's been on my mind all week long, and I've been doing my best to be on constant lookout for "the one" - it makes all the difference and influences nearly every action. 

I love you and hope to share some good experiences with you next week!
Jesse


Elder Dowdle and Elder Tunney
 
 

Monday, March 10, 2014

A Week of Normalcy

Hey guys - 

This past week was the last one of the transfer, and it was a good one to end on. We were in Red Rock, Spring Mountain, South, and finished out in Pahrump (which was a trip). This upcoming week, week 1 of the transfer, we'll spend in our area full-time; we're giving the companionships the first week so they can get used to the new areas/companions. It'll be nice to have a week of normalcy; Elder Tunney and I can regroup, plan for the next five weeks using what we've learned this past transfer, and also use the skills we've been working on together in a single area. Coming out of dinner last night, Tunney and I saw a couple in their garage across the street and went and talked to them. It was the first time in weeks we've contacted/taught together in a real situation, and it felt good to teach with him again. 

It's almost a guarantee that when on exchanges, there's going to be a crazy experience - that's widely known in the mission. That being said, Tunney and I have been very fortunate to have a crazy experience every single day. I feel as if I've had an unusual amount of spiritual experiences in the past three weeks, and with them comes a spiritual fatigue. It's akin to the fatigue you feel after a good workout; a very satisfying feeling. Much like a workout routine, it's always beneficial to have a rest week :)

This upcoming transfer will be fun - one of our investigators will be getting married and then baptized in April! We're way excited about that and so is she. We'll also have interviews with President, Mission Leadership Council, and some other meetings and trainings coming up that we're looking forward to. 

Torg goes home tomorrow morning - last night was his last night in the apartment with us. I've been in contact with the U getting some things set up for this fall - I'm waiting to hear back the process for enrolling, but I've gotten word from the marching band that I'll still have a spot/scholarship opportunity, which is good. This is all going by too fast, so excuse my while I do my best to slow it all down.

I love you!
Jesse

Monday, March 3, 2014

Back in Logandale for a day

Hey y'all -

It's been another good week; I feel as though we're starting to get the hang of moving around all the time. It's nice, falling into a routine again. I'm starting to go into these exchanges knowing exactly what I want to happen and what I need to do in order to make it happen, and it's making me more efficient as I try to help them become more efficient.

The beginning of the week had me in Littlefield, Arizona, and Logandale, Nevada. I'd forgotten what it's like to work in a small town, and to be honest, I found that I missed it. The people are incredible and the investigators sincere...the food is also delicious (deer steaks for dinner, mmm). It was great to be back in Logandale, but hard as well - I couldn't go around seeing the people that I knew and cared about, I had to be focused on the companionship I was with at the time.

Later in the week I was back in Vegas with a pair of Elders who wanted help talking to people. We saw these two thugs and I was strongly impressed to go talk to them, so I pointed them out and we started after them. They were a ways from us at the time and walking in the opposite direction, so we were hustling to try and catch them. We got close enough to call out to them and they looked back, smiled, and crossed the busy street. The elders were a little disappointed and upset as we walked back to where we were; they felt ridiculous chasing after someone and were bummed their efforts were in vain. I, myself, started to wonder if it was even a prompting. As we were walking back, the door to a furniture store opened and an older woman came out, introduced herself, and asked what we were doing. We told her what we were up to and she invited us in. She began to tell us, in the middle of this fake living room set, that she has burdens that need to be lifted and she needed to hear about Jesus Christ. She said it was ironic we passed by; we told her it was an answer to her prayers. We all started to get emotional and she got goosebumps, saying that she knew we were sent by God. She asked if we could come back in thirty minutes and teach her our message, and we agreed. Walking out of the furniture store, I could barely control my emotions - I have never had a prompting be confirmed so quickly and in such a big way. When I caught up with the Elders later, they said they had a great lesson and they're meeting with her again on Wednesday. I'm so grateful for the promptings of the Spirit and the blessings God gives to those who risk looking ridiculous to follow them.

Solid week, excited for the next one. Sorry for the lack of photos, the camera is in Littlefield (I know, I know...), but I'll have it soon!

Love you!

Jesse

Monday, February 24, 2014

First week as a Traveling Missionary!!

Super full week, but tons of fun.

This was the first week spent driving around the mission, and it was a definite learning experience. The biggest thing I've learned thus far is that this mission has some amazing missionaries; I've been constantly impressed with the caliber of the Elders I've been spending time with. I've been learning way more from them than they are from me.
 
Every night during planning, I ask the missionaries what they'd like to work on, what they want help with. Every companionship has been the same: talking with people and teaching simply. To get over the fear of talking to people, I've had the missionaries contact the first three people we see, no matter how ridiculous the situation. With one companionship on bike, we saw this tattooed biker dude pulled over on the side of the road on his cell phone. We were going to pass him, but I reminded them we promised to talk to the first three regardless the situation, so we circled him on our bikes and waited until the end of his phone call. Imagine that for a second...it was really awkward. Eventually he finished his phone call and one of the elders started to talk to him; turns out he works with a lot of Mormons, just moved into the area, and is looking for a church to attend with his wife. We rode away from the Harley-Davidson with a name, phone number, address, and a return appointment. Biking away, one of the elders said, "I would have never talked to him!". I told him, "I wouldn't have either!". Serving in this capacity has helped me to become more confident and honest with people; there's no hidden agenda, no tentative approach. I'm sharing truth with these people, truth that will change their lives, and if I tell them anything other than that truth then I'm wasting their time and mine.
 
I was with two other elders in a lesson with a less-active member trying to quit smoking. What we planned earlier that morning was to ask for his last pack of cigarettes at the end of the lesson, yet during the lesson I kept feeling prompted to ask for just a couple of cigarettes instead. We got to the end of the lesson and one missionary did a great job and boldly asked for the mans last pack. He denied, saying he couldn't go without them. I asked for just two of his cigarettes, a small act of faith to show the Lord he's serious, and he complied. He reached down to his last pack, opened it up...and there were just two cigarettes left. We all froze, he chuckled looking down at them, yet he took them out and handed them to me. Incredible experience. We all learned that whenever we meet with someone, we have to invite them to act. It's not enough to just share information; it's about how they use it. We have to invite - it's the only way people will change.

Amazing week, excited to have another starting tonight. Keep praying for the missionaries in your ward!

Love you so much,
Jesse

Friday, February 21, 2014

Mt. Charleston Snow!!

Hey everyone -
This week was our preparation week; we got to proselyte with Elders Hunsaker and Lane as they took over our area as the new Zone Leaders. The only problem was that they're such good missionaries that getting them used to the area took about half the week, and for the last half of this week Elder Tunney and I have been doing our best not to just sit around. I guess it isn't a problem (it's actually a really good thing - I feel good about leaving this place in the hands of these guys), we've just been chomping at the bit to get started. And we get started tonight.
So, tonight I'll be with a companionship in Highland Hills stake and spend Tuesday with them; Wednesday I'll be with some elders from Tule Springs; Thursday, Elkhorn Springs; Friday, Lone Mountain; Saturday, Meadows; Sunday, we'll be back at our apartment to go to church and recuperate for a bit before we start again Monday night. I'm really excited to get started and go to work after this weird week; it's been a week in limbo. Four out of the five companionships I'll be spending time with are on bike, so I'll finally get that janky (but trusty) purple Trek the attention it deserves.

This morning we got up at 3:30am, worked out, and then headed up to Mount Charleston (in the dark) with Elders Hunsaker, Lane, Tews, George, Park, Marshall, Torgersen, and Jones. It was so much fun, but soooo cold - snow everywhere and not a soul in sight. We found some mats up there and slid down part of a ski slope and it might have been one of the scariest things I've ever done.
The rest of today will probably be spent on making sure we have everything lined up. I'm not expecting everything to go smoothly this week; there has to be some things we haven't thought of yet, or some pitfalls awaiting us on our first week. Hopefully we'll have all of the kinks worked out before the transfer ends and we can have an efficient system up and running in no time.

Next week, I'll be emailing you from Mesquite!

I love you all and pray for you daily!

Jesse

We are here...

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Traveling Elders!!

Sorry for not emailing earlier today; it's been an absolutely crazy Monday.

I should start with two Thursdays ago. Elder Tunney and I were transfer planning for the zone, planning out exchanges, trainings, and p-day activities, when we starting talking about what it'd be like if all we did was go on exchanges with other missionaries. As we continued to talk about it, it sounded better and better; we talked about the challenges that you'd face, the sheer logistics of the whole thing. Eventually it sounded so good we decided to call President Ahlander and set up a meeting with him. We sat down and laid out the entire idea with him the next day. Our idea was that there would be a companionship of "traveling elders" - their entire purpose would be to go on exchanges with companionships all across the mission (at President's discretion). Five days out of the week they'd go on exchanges in a different zone every day, then finish the exchange around 9:00pm, drive to the next apartment, and begin the exchange with the next companionship. Sundays would be normal proselyting days and Mondays would still be preparation day/planning day for the coming week. This isn't a new idea; in fact, Elder Holland was a traveling elder in his mission in England. The method we presented, however, would better fit a mission much more dense like ours. Through the traveling elders, President could get a better idea of what's happening around the mission and missionaries could have personal interaction with someone sincerely dedicated to help them improve. Overall, it'd be a great way to increase mission morale, obedience, and discipleship. 

To our surprise, he loved it. He said he'd think about it and get back to us. Three or four days later (last week), he brings us into his office and says he wants to try it...and he wants us to be the two traveling elders! We were taken aback, but accepted the assignment and assumed that we'd start at the beginning of the next transfer (March 10th). At the end of our meeting in his office, he turns to the transfer board (a board with all of the pictures of the missionaries in the mission) and says, "Well, we just have to make a few emergency transfers and you can start on Monday". 
We were shocked. "Monday?!"
He said he didn't want to wait - he'd double-transfer two new Zone Leaders to take our place on Monday and give us a week to help them acclimate to the ward. Then, on the 17th, we'd hit the road and start doing our back-to-back exchanges. Today at 10:00am Elder Hunsaker and Elder Lane, the new Meadows ZL's, moved in to our apartment and we moved into the AP's apartment with them. We'll only be spending Saturday night and Sunday night in the AP's apartment - otherwise, we'll be sleeping in apartments all across the mission, a different place every night (our bishop gave us a couple of sleeping bags...we're covered).

It's been crazy. The whole mission is buzzing about the mid-transfer transfer and our new assignments. I'm really excited; miracles happen on exchanges, and now my mission life is dedicated to them. My job will be to provide uplifting experiences for these missionaries and help where I can, and I hope I can do that effectively. I'm nervous as well, because no one's done this before; there's no manual, no training. We're flying by the seat of our pants. I know I'll be exhausted, but I'm looking forward to the next couple of weeks. I have no idea how long I'll be a traveling elder - it could be until I go home - but I'm going to work as hard as I can. 

I'm sure I'll have more details next week. No idea how this week of floating will work out. Anyways, awesome week, I love you, and I'll talk atcha later!

Jesse

Monday, February 3, 2014

Lessons learned...if you're paying attention


 
Hey guys!
 
This was an interesting week, for sure. Not too much happened in our area, but I definitely have learned a lot through several different experiences and exchanges.
One good learning experience I had was Saturday during exchanges with the assistants. I was with Elder Torgersen, a past companion, in his area. His area just so happens to be right across Jones Road from ours, so it was a familiar area and we were having a really good time. We knocked on this door and the person Torg was looking for wasn't there, and so as we were standing there a man walking on the sidewalk behind us. We could have let him go, but in my mind I was like, "Nah, Dowdle, you said you'd talk to everyone, and this guy is included, so go talk to him", so I did. He was extremely rude, haha. Chewed us out and went on his way; we laughed it off and headed back to the truck. However, before we climbed in, a woman walked out of her apartment, headed for the dumpster, and we starting talking to her. She was extremely nice, interested, and when we asked if there was anyone she knew that would want to talk to us, she answered affirmatively and that she had family living in Utah. Driving away from the complex, we came to the realization that if we hadn't stopped to talk to the crustiest dude on Lake Mead, we wouldn't have been delayed enough to talk to the incredibly nice woman. Talking to the man took faith, action, and the immediate result wasn't what I desired. What I learned this week is that God doesn't often use immediate results to reward us. Blessings come in many forms and at many different times; the only fail proof plan is to be as Christ-like and obedient as possible in an effort to further His purposes. The good things will come.
 
This upcoming week will be fun - we have a lot of appointments scheduled and some exciting meetings, so we're looking forward to it. Thanks for all that you do and know that I love you!

Jesse

Monday, January 27, 2014

With the Guesmans at the Las Vegas Temple

Hey everyone!

Don't have a ton of time to email today; it's transfers again, so we're way super busy today. It's also Serre's birthday, so we're going to go have birthday lunch with her soon! Then we set up some pick-up baseball at some nearby ballfields for the zone p-day activity, so just in case you wanted to know what my planner looks like today, there you go.
 
This transfer has a lot of changes happening in the zone! Three of our wards are being double-transferred, which is crazy. That means three brand new companionships are coming in tonight and taking over an area they know next to nothing about. Hopefully the missionaries leaving have updated all of the records necessary so that the new elders can pick up right where the old ones left off. We're kind of excited about the "facelift" we're going to be experiencing here in Meadows shortly; it'll be a new start, and a fresh one, at that. One of our favorite missionaries, Elder Tanner, has about 4.5 months left and so he's dropping from Zone Leader and becoming one of our district leaders! He also happens to be Tunney's trainer, so we're really excited to have him here with us. All in all, the zone will be well-equipped to find, teach, and baptize at quite an efficient pace. That's the plan, at least.
 
We've been able to teach some good lessons this week and meet some new people. Our stake has organized a basketball night at the stake center on Saturday nights, opening it to missionaries who have investigators/less-actives who like to play basketball. We play for a couple hours and then have a little lesson at the end. We got three kids to come out with us this weekend and we had a great time; I've been blessed (or cursed, depending on the viewpoint) to have a couple companions that are really good at basketball (Tunney, Herlin...), and so that comes in handy in this instance. It's all about the unorthodox finding methods nowadays, and this is definitely one of them.  
 
The most amazing thing that happened this week (saving the best for last) was Tuesday. Tuesday night, I got to go to the temple and be there when Susie and Johnny Guesman received their endowment. That night has been the absolute highlight of my mission to date. It was an incredible blessing to be able to witness these two worthily enter the temple of God and make covenants with our Father in Heaven - it was almost surreal. The entire ward (Logandale 3rd) was there as well, and so being in the temple with all of them together was pretty much like being in Heaven; everyone was so happy, there wasn't a dry eye in the room, and the spirit was as strong as I've ever felt it in my life. Standing there with them in the temple, my mind raced back to that night in 2012 where we knocked on the door we've knocked plenty of times, not expecting anyone to answer. Susie opened the door and let us in. Now they're temple-attending latter-day saints. Nothing I've ever felt before can compare to the joy that filled me when we hugged in the celestial room (for more info on LDS temples, visit http://mormon.org/faq/church-and-temple). I understand now the pure happiness that will come when we're reunited with our loved ones who now reside on the other side of the veil.
 
Awesome week. Love you all.

Jesse
 
With the Guesmans at the Las Vegas Temple
 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Another Amazing Week


This past Saturday, Serre Splond was baptized! It was an amazing service and she was so ready; she's BEEN so ready for weeks! Always reading her scriptures, asking us questions about what she's been reading, praying for guidance and answers and receiving them...it's been incredible to see her journey thus far. It's been incredible to be one of the missionaries witnessing her journey; Ben Manning drove down from Provo for the baptism to give a talk and it was great to see him (we played 9 holes at a local golf course on Monday while Manning was in town - shot a 50, not great, too many three-putts...anyways, this isn't about golf, it's about Serre!). Her mom and grandpa came to the baptism and seemed to have a good experience as well; just an overall great night. The next day I had the honor of blessing her with the gift of the Holy Ghost, and now she's a fully fledged member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She'll be able to help so many who are looking for a knowledge of the truth and I'm really excited for where she'll be in five or so years.
 
As per usual, when someone is baptized or leaves our teaching pool, the Lord provides somebody to take their place. A man was riding his Razor kick scooter by the church on Sunday and decided he should go inside and see what it's all about. He stays for the entire three hour block, making comments in all of the classes, and then sets up an appointment with us and off he goes on the scooter. We go by later that night and teach him and his cousin (we think) and they have both committed to baptism for mid-February! We're so excited and so happy and so are they. It's been three days and we've had two lessons already; we're having a church tour with them on Thursday as well as a lesson about the Plan of Salvation. A young couple also moved into ward boundaries last week and the non-member girlfriend wants to be baptized this spring; her husband is in the music production business and does some work with some hip-hop artists and Disney, so that'll be a great way to better get to know them. Basically, things are amazing here in Meadows 1st ward, and Elder Tunney and I are way happier than we deserve to be.
 
Thanks for all of your support! I love you and pray for you.

Jesse
 
Elder Tunney, Serre Splond, Elder Dowdle