Monday, December 26, 2011

Hey y'all

Familia y Amigos,

Feliz Navidad!!! I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas. It sure was great here for us in Columbus. We were befriended by some great members and recent converts here and had a great time with them and then talking to my family of course!!! haha And also, Happy New Year this next week.

I don't have hardly any time today for e-mail. Sorry. But I just want to testify that I know this Church is true. The Gospel is so AWESOME. I have seen it change the lives of people here in Nebraska. And I have seen it change mine. I am so grateful for the service that occurs during this season. But most of all, I am grateful for the Ultimate Gift that our Heavenly Father gave to each of us individually...His Son Jesus Christ. I know He lives and that He died for each of us.

Talking to the family on Christmas day
A highlight of our family Christmas this year

When I called my parents on Skype, I got the chills when I heard my father say my name. It was sooo cool. And talking to my family gave me an additional boost. I thought of my Heavenly Father. He is there for us and if we call to Him, He will be there for us. He wants to give us an additional boost...He is always there for us. We can receive His guidance through prayer!!

Have a wonderful week,

Love you all,

Elder Vawdrey

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

It's Coming!!

Hola Hombres y Mujeres :D

How are you all? I can't believe this week is la Navidad! Wow. Time flies by so quickly.

Okay, I have little time today, sorry. But here we go.

So this week, we have dinner with the "M" again!! They are investigators and man it was so cool. They fed us a delicious enchilada dinner...like the biggest enchiladas I have ever seen...and then they began asking us questions about baptism. When the mom asked: "What we believe about baptism and why we don't baptize infants" I felt the spirit enter the room and I was like BOOO YEAHH!! haha So, we explained to this Hispanic family about baptism, age of accountability, and it was SO powerful. They believed every word of it and it was so cool to see their countenances just light up. But anyway, we also introduced the Book of Mormon to them again and found out that they read 3 Nephi 11 and that was so cool to hear that they had read. Overall, it was an amazing lesson, we soft-setted them for baptism, so we are SO excited to keep working with them. But, at the end of the lesson, Sis. "M" opened up my quad to the Doctrine & Covenants just randomly and read a scripture. I was a bit hesitant at first and then she read in D&C 89 about how if they did these things then they receive receive health, walk and not faint, and run and not be weary. It was super cool.

Then, we received a referral the other day. We went and met this guy, "JG", on Saturday. He was a super cool guy and is from Guatemala. He was referred to us by his wife and he began taking the lessons in Guatemala. We were STOKED when he showed up at church the next day. And to know that he WALKED. He lives about a mile from the church, but still that was amazing to me. So, we have some great investigators right now. Unfortunately, we aren't going to have any baptisms by the end of this year, by my hope is to have some more baptismal dates set by the end of the year and make this Christmas a preparation for more investigators entering the waters of baptism :)

Sorry, I forgot to say again last week...but this week is transfers. I am so excited that I will be staying here in Columbus again, and with my same companion. The Church is true. I hope you all can keep Christ in your Christmas. I am so grateful for this time of year and to see how people's attitudes change. If only we would just choose right now to keep it throughout the next WHOLE year, we will be made all the better for it and help those around us. One thing I have really realized this past transfer is the importance of CHARITY. Charity is everything!! Merry Christmas everyone. I wish you all the best of keeping Christ in your Christmas. Love you!

Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Why not use some Saltines?

Familia y Amigos,

I hope it's been another great week for everyone as it has for us here in Nebraska! The snow has melted quite a bit, but I hear the next couple days we are going to be getting some freezing rain. It gets pretty cold here. But actually not as bad as I had thought. Hopefully it stays that way. haha It's the wind that makes it really cold.

Anyway, 2 weeks until Christmas, that is so crazy. My companion and I have a missionary meeting with the leadership in our branch every other week and yesterday was the week it fell on and it went really well. Elder Keele and I were thinking the night before of what we want to give Christ for Christmas and how to help our branch more. We came up with the idea to invite and challenge the leaders in our branch to give away one mormon.org card before Christmas to a non-member that they know and engage in a conversation about it. The Branch President loved the idea and asked us to invite the branch as well in the combined Relief Society/Elders Quorum meeting. So, we are excited to see how the members respond to this.

Also, before church began, there was a couple at the church that was super sick but wanted to partake the sacrament because they hadn't done it the week before either. They asked Elder Keele and I to do it and we were like, sure. We looked for some bread. Didn't find any...but we kept looking for some, and then we found some good old SALTINE crackers!! haha yay. So, we used them. Another good memory now!

The work is really starting to move forward now here in Columbus!! We have received a few referrals from members, we are getting more appointments scheduled, and we have a lot more investigadors to see!! boo ya. As for an update on "C" and "G"...the ones that were set for baptism...they are planning to be baptized at the end of January. "C" and his fiance need to get married before he can get baptized. But, their family is solid. Very humble people. And "C" just got a job from a member in our branch! We were stoked about that because he has been looking for one for a while. His hours are very reliable and allow us to visit them often. Thank goodness!

Also, in our branch there is the two "M" families. They are both super strong in the gospel, and the dad's are brothers. They have another brother that lives in Columbus, but his family are not members. Well, they invited us over for dinner the other night and one of the other "M" families joined us as well. We had "Posoli" It was super good. But they put a lot of spices in it. It's like a soup. And it was funny because after I took my first bite, the soup went down the wrong tube, so I was like coughing and stuff and they were like..."Oh, is it too hot? We can make you a sandwich if you want." hahahaha. I was like "No, it just went down the wrong tube." Then, right after this, the same thing happened to my companion and then to Brother "M". haha It was hilarious!! But anyway, after dinner, we just talked with the parents for a while and then shared a lesson about the Book of Mormon. The spirit was super strong. And it was so cool. After we read the introduction to the Book of Mormon, "J" (the mom) just opened up the book and randomly landed on D&C 89. I got a little nervous at this point because she opened up to D&C, cause we would have had to explain about that too. But she didn't say anything but pointed at the verse. In the verse she read it said: "And if you do these things, you will receive health in your navel and marrow in your bones...run and not be weary, walk and not faint..." She read this right after we explained the importance of the Book of Mormon and the blessings that come from it. So it was a way cool experience.

I see a bright future for this family and the great thing about it is that they have an immediate support system in the branch with two brothers! The "M" family then scheduled a dinner appointment with us for next week too. We are excited. This was one of my favorite experiences from this week. Missionary Work is great. I love it!

I hope you all have another great week! Thanks for your love and support!!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, December 5, 2011

Love the life you live

Hombres y Mujeres,

Hola!! Como estan todos? Wow, I can't believe it's already the 5th of December. Wow! Time flies. I have almost been out for 6 months. Whoa. Okay, that's weird. Anyway, I hear Utah hasn't seen much snow yet? Oh man, Nebraska...different story. Just the other day, it snowed for hours, and we got a few inches. But, the thing about Nebraska is that it is just FREEZING. Today it is suppose to be a low of -4 degrees. WHAT? haha Yeah, it's crazy.

Anyway, it has been a great week. Well except until the snow came. Because of it, our mission president called and said that we couldn't drive our cars. So, Elder Keele and I threw on our huge coats and started walkin'! haha I looked like a HUGE black marshmallow. I could like barely walk because I had on so many layers. But anyway, as we were walking forever to this one house, I kinda had a bad attitude and was like, "Uggh, we have to walk while the roads are pretty much all shoveled up!" Well, next thing I knew, I looked over and saw a family just goofing off in a parking lot. It kinda made me laugh for a second and then I saw the back of the dad's jacket that said: "LOVE THE LIFE YOU LIVE." That one hit me. I was like, "Oh, thanks!" haha So, I tried to have a better attitude. And then in our visit we read with the member in the scriptures where he had left off....which was 1 Nephi 16. In this chapter is about Nephi and his brethren when going hunting. Nephi brakes his bow and his brethren murmur. Then Nephi makes a new bow, gets food, and then everyone is happy again. So, that day I learned a lot about the importance to have a good attitude. Love the Life you Live. Life is to be enjoyed not just endured. We have trials to make us stronger. And I got to thinking, dang, the pioneers walked through all this for months. Who am I to complain? And I have a testimony of Jesus Christ, what do I have to lose? We have all that we need. We just need to remember that. So it turned out to be a good day when I changed my attitude. And then later that night we helped a lady move. We were the only ones she contacted to help and she relied only on us to call people. I was like what the ? We invited lots of people but nobody came. haha So, we got a good workout and helped her load up her whole truck. Good thing that's like most of what I did my first transfer so I think we did a pretty good job.

As for an update on two of our investigators, our baptismal set, they actually aren't set anymore. "C" has been living with a less-active member...and because they have to get married before the baptism, we need to give them more time. It was too much too fast. But we are still hoping to have them baptized by December 31. We figure that would be a good way to finish and start a year!! They have had lots of struggles, but we have had some VERY powerful lessons with them. They keep coming to church, so we are SO happy about that. But, we hope they stick with it!! I see so much potential in them. The less-active member ("K") is an awesome lady. She has been through a lot in her life and is probably one of the most humble people I have ever met. Also, "K" and "G" came to the church and watched the Christmas Devotional with us so that was cool.

In our district meeting this week, we had an amazing meeting talking about the importance of Obedience. It was so good. I know Obedience is key to happiness and success. It's not always the easy thing, but it's always the right thing to do.

Well, I hope you are all doing well. I love you all. Thanks for all your love and support. Have a great week!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, November 28, 2011

The Lord's hand is in our lives!


I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!!

This week was great. The Lord is blessing us mucho. There is a family that just moved in from Omaha that wanted to investigate the church. We contacted them and found out that the mother is a less-active, and the dad and daughter are investigators. A few days later we met with them and taught about how God is our loving Heavenly Father and how the gospel blesses families. The spirit was SO strong!! Oh my goodness. I don't think I have ever felt the spirit more strong in a lesson than I did that day. The mom and daughter were crying their eyes out...haha The gospel is such good stuff!!! But, they invited us over a few days later and we taught about Joseph Smith. We watched part of the Restoration movie with them and that really brought the spirit into the room. I was a bit nervous because when Joseph Smith walks into the grove, the mom and daughter got up and left for a second. I was like NOOooooo! haha but they quickly came back so I was happy. And then they cried again after the movie. The spirit was so strong and my companion asked the father what his thoughts were. And he said, "I feel that this is right. Like I believe everything that happened in that movie." So right there, we invited him to be baptized so he could feel that peace everyday for the rest of his life, and he said YES!!! And so did the daughter!! WHOOT!! They are set for December 17. So we are super excited for them. I will let you know how things go with them.

"Prophet of the Restoration" - 62 minutes

Then, another big event from this week was that we were in a parade in Seward, Nebraska the other day. The parade was put on by the city and was pretty much just to get people excited for Christmas, I think...not sure exactly. haha But anyway, there were like 20 of us missionaries who went and sang Christmas hymns on the float and that was way cool.

For Thanksgiving, we were super blessed as well. We were invited to the Couch's home for dinner, which was amazing, and then after visiting with them for a while, we went to the Hyde's home. We felt very loved and had a great holiday with some of the members of our branch and some investigators as well.

Sorry this update is a bit short but I am out of time. The Lord's hand is in our lives. I know that of a surety. Look for it and you will find it. The Church is true!!


Elder Vawdrey

Monday, November 21, 2011

Golden Moments

Familia y Amigos,

Elder Christoffel Golden Jr.
This past week, Elder Golden from the Quorum of the Seventy visited our mission and man was it powerful. All of us missionaries lined the hallway in the church as he came in and he shook all of our hands. He asked where I was from and he was like, "Oh nice!" haha Found out he is from South Africa. He has a sweet accent, but the coolest thing was the feelings that I had when I saw him. The whole church was just filled with the spirit. So powerful. And wow, it was a way good conference. He shared lots of sweet stuff, what we call the "Golden Moments." haha He really pushed the fact that we should focus on the simple things of the gospel, and that we don't need to know answers to crazy life questions to know this church is true. He shared how we can have the spirit more as we pray, study the scriptures, meditate during the Sacrament, and go to the temple. Also, several other things like faith will increase as personal righteousness increases. He told us that we ought to strive to baptize a family each month...that was pretty cool. Families make the best investigators for sure.

So, I'm here in Columbus, Nebraska, and it is like home. Seriously. The branch is super united. The Spanish and English are combined. It is a very Catholic area, but the members are strong and the potential here is sky high. It's starting to get cold. Woke up to it being 20 degrees outside the past two days. And this morning we went on a run with our branch president! haha It was so sweet. It felt SO good to run. We ran like 4 miles. Apparently the branch president has ran like 21 marathons. So, we will be running with him each Monday. Oh, it feels so good to run. My companion, Elder Keele, is from Boise, ID. He is a good kid. He has been on his mission for about a year and he is super smart.

The area is going very slow but has so much potential. This past week has probably been the hardest week for me thus far on my mission just because it is a change of everything. The people are different, and our teaching pool is very small. But, I know that big things are coming. I am sure things will really pick up this next week since I know the area a little bit and hopefully we can start working real hard.

But I had a great experience with Elder Keele this week that helped me realize I am where I need to be. We were eating with a member one afternoon and he suggested that we go see someone. And earlier that day we had talked about going to see this person. So, after we finished eating, we went over to this lady's house, and it was SO sweet. So, she is less-active...hasn't been to church in several years and is a big smoker. She invited us in and I could hardly breathe because she just smoked a fresh cigarette. Blah! But we sat down and she said: "I'M SCARED". We were just kinda startled and had her explain why. Then I looked at the foot stand right next to where she was sitting and there was an open Book of Mormon. She pointed to it and said, "Did someone send you here?" haha And we were like, um...no, we were thinking about you and wanted to stop by. Then she said, "I know God sent you." We were like Whoa! haha Then she said that her past week was way hard. She stopped going to drinking parties and wants to stop smoking and realized that she really wants to go back to church and start over. She said, "There is more to life than this." She read 2 Nephi 29 about "A bible! A bible!" and said that she knew that the Book of Mormon was true. It was a way cool visit and helped me to realize that I am where I need to be. She asked us if we would give her a blessing and it was so cool. I'll keep you posted on how things go with her.

But, Columbus is great. I love it here. And thanks everyone for your love and support. I love you all. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!! We are going to a member's home for Thanksgiving and there will be a less-active and recent convert family there. I'm excited.


Elder Vawdrey

Monday, November 14, 2011

Good thing I like pizza!

Familia y Amigos,

Wow, what a roller coaster the mission is! But oh man, are the thrills awesome or what? This last week was transfers and pretty quick I met my new companion, Elder Keele! He is from good ol' Boise, ID!! haha. This is my 2nd companion from Boise. But once I got to my new area, Columbus, Nebraska, I immediately felt loved. As I met my companion, I realized that we have quite a bit in common, personality-wise...which is awesome. But I have realized that my first two transfers have totally prepared me for this area and my companion. It is amazing where the Lord puts us and we don't realize how good it is until later.

This city is lucky to have Elders Vawdrey and Keele!

Columbus, Nebraska is AWESOME. We have a branch that is English and Spanish (mixed) but it is much bigger than Sioux City. It is on the verge of becoming a ward and there is so much potential here. There are a ton of investigators for us to teach and I'm so excited. Just last night there was a Spanish broadcast and we didn't find out about it until like 3 hours prior. So...okay, we have some ward mission leaders and just all the members in general that are SO missionary minded, it's unbelievable. The father of a hispanic family is the 1st counselor in the branch presidency and he has a brother (and his family) that are recent converts and another brother (and his family) that are investigators. It was so cool to see his love for his brothers as they came to the broadcast and I met them all. I'm really excited for the investigators. They have family support and branch support.

My Spanish has really improved. I got here not having spoken much Spanish in lessons other than my testimony and/or a principle. But here, my companion has let me teach a bunch of lessons and lead them out in Spanish. I love Spanish. It is so fun to speak. The Lord is really blessing me.

Also, just this last week, I was worrying a lot about the money that I had left. For some reason, I only had like $40 on my card for the rest of the month and don't have much food. I don't know where all my money went. I had to buy a lot of little things and I guess they all just added up. Well, on top of only $40, I needed to still pay fast offerings. So, I was getting super nervous. Not having money is something that really causes you to appreciate what you have and sacrifice. So anyway, I prayed about this to know what to do, and how to have food for the month. And in the next two days, we received 11 frozen pizzas from some members in our branch. SO COOL. The members are so good to us here. And I have had several other miracles happen to me like this this past week. I would type them all if I had time. But, all in all, I know that God knows where each of us are and He loves us.

I have never been so happy in my life before. And I know that it's not because things are easy, but because my faith is growing. So, this past week I have really learned that, as our faith improves, our happiness improves.

Well, I hope you all are having a wonderful week. I love you all. Thanks so much for your love and support. I hope you enjoy the snow ;) and that you had a fun 11-11-11. Here, we decided to be crazy and eat 11 lifesaver mints at once. I have pictures ;) Take luck!

Elder Vawdrey

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I'm going to Columbus!!

Familia y Amigos,

Sorry, you didn't receive an e-mail from me until now. This week is transfer week and so our P-day is on Wednesdays on transfer weeks. But, I am being transferred to Columbus, Nebraska! It is in the Lincoln, NE zone, so I will be by the University of Nebraska and the capitol. My new companion is Elder Keele! I haven't met him yet but I'm way excited.

Columbus, NE - Brian's second area in the mission field

Being here in Sioux City has been great, and I have learned a ton, but at the same time, I enjoy change and am excited to see another part of the mission. Being with Elder Jones and Elder Thayne has been a blast, we have had a ton of fun memories and experiences!

It seems so weird... change. It's something that is constant and something that we must learn to enjoy. Sometimes it's hard, but it's from the Lord and it's His will. It's kinda hard to leave Sioux CIty because it's like my home-town! haha Looking upon my first 2 transfers is kinda funny. I didn't have any baptisms but this past Sunday, we had our first 2 investigators come to church! yes!! I will talk about that later. But I feel like I have done the things the Lord wanted me to do here...and I feel like he has kind of changed me for good here in this area. I feel like I have done all I could to help the work progress here...and whether I get baptismal numbers or not, it doesn't matter. :)

So... update from this week!! Oh boy! All right... so, all in all, 2 weeks ago there was like 37 people at church... and then this week there was 57!! WOW! It was unbelievable. Two weeks ago in church, there was only like 10 people at church including us and the branch presidency once the meeting began. And then, this week was just like: BOOM baby!! haha Whoot! I felt like this was a great blessing from the Lord. It has been tough to get this area going because of all the service from last transfer but this was a blessing from the Lord.

We met with the "O" family (name withheld), the ones I talked about last week, family of 7. They invited us over for a delicious dinner and then they shared their experiences of praying about Joseph Smith if he was a true prophet. It was so cool to hear both the parents share their experiences with prayer. They both received a small but sweet answer, but I love what Sister "O" said. She talked about how she had a dream about what we shared with her family and that she saw a light in her dream!!! NICE! I was like... boom baby... Dinero!! haha

We have also met with many other family this week. But there are two other families that I want to report on. First of all, the "N" family (name withheld), they are less active. We went over and taught them about temples and it was SO powerful. They said they think they should start coming back to church and that they want to be sealed in a temple. We will see how it goes. And then another family: Elva and Ruben! These two are the ones that came to church this week! Ruben is less-active and Elva is an investigator. The thing with Ruben is that he was offended from something. But things are cleared up now and their future is bright!

But I thought our visit with Ruben was interesting. Often, we get offended by things other people say or do or maybe we don't feel loved by others. However, when we get offended, it is our own fault. We can choose our happiness. But then, once Ruben talked about his worry with us, everything was fine. I love that. The best thing you can do if you struggle with someone is to talk to them. I love that. But sometimes it isn't just that easy. Sometimes we may need to humble ourselves a little bit before doing this... pray and study the scriptures. We all have our differences and challenges. But with the Lord, they are milestones to lead us to greater things.

I hope you all have a great week! I love you all tons.

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 31, 2011

Power of the Book of Mormon

Familia y amigos,

Hola hola otra vez!! and Happy Halloween! Wow, I can't believe it is already Halloween. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday, and eat a good amount of candy ;) It's a bit weird for us here because we have to be in our apartment by 6pm tonight, so it's like the whole day is P-day. But we have some fun plans today, so I'm pretty excited!

This week, I have realized the power of the Book of Mormon in teaching the gospel. We found 3 families this week and wow...they are so fun to teach! Teaching families is just powerful. But I thought it was really interesting how we were inspired to teach about and the people all questioned us about the Book of Mormon. Once they understood that it is the word of God also but stories from different prophets and that it supports the bible, everything else just flowed and they understood everything!! The first big family we taught was a family of 7. The kids ranged from like 8 years old to 18. And wow, there were 2 twin 14-year-old girls and they reminded me so much of my little sister Angi!! Oh my goodness. It was so weird. But just by that, I knew they would be a sweet family! To finish the lesson, the 10-year-old boy said the closing prayer and it was SO cool!! I think the kids will have a great part in motivating the parents to hear more about the gospel too. But anyway, we will return and visit them next week!

Another family we taught invited us to have dinner with them at our next visit with them. Wow! Nice! That has never happened and only once in my companions' missions...being invited by investigators to eat dinner. We are really excited for all of these families! I can tell that they have good standards, but they just don't know the truth of all things yet!! I'm so excited to keep in touch with these families!!

The biggest burden right now is only having a car every other week. Our area is HUGE...so it's hard on the weeks when we don't have the car because we have to walk so far. Our investigators live all over the place. So, we are hoping to get a car for ourselves but we will see how that goes. It is starting to get a little chilly. I know back in Utah, Halloween night is usually the day of a big storm. Sooo...we will see what it's like here in Sioux City, Iowa.

As for my Spanish, we often don't have time to sit down and do an hour study because of appointments, so sometimes my language study is just talking to my companions or the investigators. During our visits, it's kinda frustrating when I don't know what the investigators are saying, but at least I can testify well!! Learning Spanish is really teaching me patience.

Funny moment the other day... so we were eating lunch with some of the members in our branch and the mother was cooking beans. I asked her "Como se dice ese?" (how do you say that?) and she said "BEANS." hahahaha! And I said no, in Spanish? hahahah We all got a super good laugh out of that one...FRIJOLES. Word of the day for those of you who may be eating beans for dinner tonight...I know my family usually eats chili on Halloween night, so alright. anyway, I hope you are all doing well!

Missionary work is great. I am loving it out here. Having two companions is sometimes a challenge when teaching lessons, but this is my 2nd time being in a trio. However, we get along well and have fun. So...all in all, I'm super pumped for this week...to teach these families!!

Love you all, thanks for your love and support,

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 24, 2011

Coincidences...no way :)

Familia y Amigos,

Oh wow, I hope that through this e-mail you will feel the spirit of missionary work. This week has been amazing! Lots of changes took place, we have had tons of opportunities to help others, and it has just been a BLAST!! Missionary work is... the BOMB!! haha yes! It is so sweet! And if you feel something from this, please share your testimony with others or find a way to continue in the Lord's work. We truly have been given so much and I have found that as I show my love for my Savior by serving others, they have the opportunity to feel God's love and I in return feel of His love in greater abundance. I think I personally have grown a lot this week in my testimony of my love for missionary work. I got a little discouraged my first transfer, but I have realized that through this work, if we know why we're here and make the most of it, we won't be discouraged. So, if there are any of you out there who may feel discouraged, keep pressing on. There is always that light at the end of the tunnel. Your Heavenly Father knows you personally and He loves you mucho. You won't feel that discouragement forever. What I have realized is that I was discouraged the first transfer because I was thinking of myself a lot and that I needed more faith. I realized my weaknesses, but through these, the Lord has made me strong! As I focus on the people here, and serving the Lord, I forget myself, and life is just GOLDEN!

First of all, this week, Elder Jones and I received a surprising phone call from President Kunz saying that we have a new companion. At first I was like...Nooooo! because Elder Jones and I were starting to get things under control and teach well together. Little did I know what a blessing this new Elder would be to us. His name is Elder Thayne (from Spanish Fork, UT). He served a year of his mission in Bolivia, but had to come back to the states because he got super sick out there. His Spanish is awesome, he is an amazing teacher, his desires to serve are great, and he is a Jazz fan!! haha yes!! I have learned so much and we have gotten really close over these past 2 days. Since he has been with us, we have found like 7 new investigators and taught like 5 lessons. (in 2 days--like 6 hours worth of time). He has made our companionship's weaknesses strong. We have found all the answers to our questions here. The 3 of us work really well together and it has just been a BLAST!!!

Just yesterday, we had many miracles happen. First of all, it was Stake Conference and it was SO powerful. President and Sister Kunz came and spoke, along with like 7 other speakers. I was surprised that they had so many speakers but it was amazing. And then after a powerful meeting about missionary work, charity, and choices, our Spanish branch sang the closing hymn "Yo Se Que Vive Mi Senor" (I know that my Redeemer lives). I felt the spirit SO strong. It was so cool as we walked up to the choir seats to go sing. I saw several of the other Spanish Elders in the stake also come up to sing with us. And man was it a powerful song. I felt as if I was in the midst of angels...maybe how it was when we were in Heaven before this life. And probably what it will be like when Christ comes again...singing songs to our Heavenly Father of praise and joy. I felt so happy. All the hispanic kids were even singing (which never happens), and during the last verse, there were random people out in the congregation who stood up and sang where they were standing. Just typing this letter and remembering my feelings is just priceless. Let me just testify that I know this is God's church. Joseph Smith saw God the Father and Jesus Christ. And the Savior is coming again. I know this church is true. And through our efforts to find this knowledge is how we can know for ourselves and be prepared for when Christ comes again. It is a daily effort and preparation. Through Sister Kunz, we learned how it's possible... 1) Sincerely spend time with you Heavenly Father daily... 2) Feast upon the scriptures Daily... 3) Teach your family the gospel truths and the importance of prayer and scripture study. None of us are perfect, myself included, and that's why we are here because Heavenly Father still has things in store for us to learn here on earth. But in Him, we must put our faith so that we may be strong.

After church, we taught 3 lessons out of the 4 houses that we knocked. The first guy...when he came out of his house, I had a strong impression of what to say and talk about soccer with him. I felt like I knew his needs. We taught him a 10-minute quick lesson about prayer. It was powerful and he scheduled an appointment with us again this week. Then, we saw a lady outside raking leaves and my companion had a strong impression to talk to her. We went over and it was like every word that came out of our mouths was perfect for what she needed. We got talking about families and she said of I have a son... and he pulled right up in his car right at that moment. We talked to him. Cool kid and he said he wanted to wait to shower because they wanted to hear our message! So cool. But something key...the son just got back from a soccer game...they wasted. haha ok. Then we knocked another house in a completely different area and the guy who answered the door referred us to his neighbor. We walked over there and a 16-year-old kid walked outside. We got talking with him, and come to find out, he is on the same soccer team as the kid we just talked to. It's little things like this where I have been able to see the Lord's hand in His work.

Anyway, life is great here. As the sign on the freeway says: NEBRASKA...THE GOOD LIFE :) hahaha Have a great week everyone. Have a Happy Halloween!! Love you all mucho!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 17, 2011

Here we go...

Hola Familia, Amigos, etc.

Hey!! How are you all? I hope everything is going well!!

It has been a great week here in Sioux City, IA. We have been contacting lots of people and have had lots of opportunities to teach families about the gospel!!

The other day we were walking down a main street here and I saw a guy sitting on his porch at the house just ahead of us..smoking. I felt like we needed to talk to him. As we got closer to his house, I got eye contact with him and asked him how he was doing? He said oh I'm good. I can't even remember what else we talked about, but he talked to us about his family and how he wants to stop smoking. whoa!! nice. This was perfect. We told him that the gospel of Jesus Christ puts a big emphasis on families and that through this message, you will gain the strength and help to overcome your addiction with smoking. He was so excited... that he asked where our church was. He said, I'm coming on Sunday and I'm bringing my son too! haha wow. now that is someone with an open heart. haha anyway, we talked to him more about our message. We gave him a Restoration pamphlet and read him Alma 7:11-13 and he loved it. He took a book of mormon too. so we were pretty excited about him. He was probably one of the nicest guys I have met here in Sioux City, and probably one of the most prepared by the Lord to meet with us.

On Friday Night, he called us and said that he couldn't meet with us again tonight... but he felt super bad. And this Sunday was the Primary Program. Unfortunately we didn't see him at church. We will go stop by again soon. I strongly believe that with him, he wanted to come to church...I see a lot of potential with him. He has a desire to learn more.

Last week, I told you about Edgar and Sandra. We taught them a lesson but Sandra wasn't all for it... she was of the Evangelical belief. We just talked to Edgar last night and pretty much said he doesn't want us to come by again because he is going to that church. He said he believes that our message is good and he thanked us for our time but he said he thinks he should just go to one church. It was really sad for me to hear him say this because I know the joy that he could have. But he has agency, and I can't take that away from him. But the most important thing is that we continue to love them and not neglect them just because they are of another faith. God is a God of love. He loves all no matter who they are, what they have done, or what they believe.

In the mission, we are in a car share with the English Elders. We switch off with the car every week. So every other week we just walk. This is kind of difficult because it is a huge area, but it all works out... and we get a good work out too. Gives us lots of chances to contact people. Contacting people is something I have really liked. Right now, my companion, Elder Jones, and I are really trying to work on asking more "inspired questions." We feel like we have a lot of potential to improve our teaching skills. So, we are going to read the Teaching Skills chapter and practice contacting eachother more.

As for my spanish, hmm.. I have potential in that too :) haha I don't understand everything that people say, but I understand the main points of what they say. and I always share my testimony. I feel like my spanish is at its best when I share my testimony. I'm going to review the grammar with spanish more and continue to talk with hispanics. That is how I have learned the most!

Well, I had a powerful study of the Book of Mormon this week. I know that it is true. It is the foundation of this gospel and I know that it contains the "good news!" I am amazed at the power and the spirit that comes from reading that book. Please read it often. It will guide you in all you do. I know the church is true. This life is real. Jesus Christ will come soon and we are here to prepare for his coming. May we all learn more of him so that we can be more prepared for his coming! I love you all so much. Remember what Heavenly Father thinks of you. Charity endureth FOREVER. Have a wonderful week!

Elder Vawdrey

P.S. Grandpa Vawdrey, I found out that there is a guy here in our spanish branch that was in your ward when you were a bishop. His last name is Zoebel. He told me about how he went with you up to Montana or Wyoming once to pick up your car or something. haha Anyway, I thought that was really funny.

Alyssa Smeda, congratulations on the great news. hope all goes well for you both!

Hermana Brittni Vawdrey!!! Congratulations, you are going to Argentina! You are probably talking to mom and dad on the phone right now. haha TAKE LUCK!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Put your hands in the air!

Familia, Amigos, Individuales, etc. ;D

Hola!! My oh my, it's been a great week. Tons of many great experiences. With the time I have, I will try to explain a few.

Well, this week we have been going through the area book like crazy. Feels like we are digging for a golden nugget...and truly, every person in that book is a golden nugget! haha Actually, better than that, they are a child of God! But, anyway, we have been contacting like crazy and have set up several appointments for this next week. In the meantime, we had several miracles this week and we were able to teach many people about the gospel.

The first big experience was with Edgar y Sandra. We just felt like we should knock on their door. Edgar answered the door and like usual didn't seem super excited about 2 young men in church clothes at his door. Well, we got to know him a bit and introduced ourselves. We also asked him questions like: Are you a very religious person? Why do you think there are so many churches on the earth today? etc. These questions really sparked him. And then I just said: Hey, well you probably think it is a little weird seeing us 2 young men at your door. But neither of us would be here if this message wasn't important or if we didn't know it to be true. He just laughed and then said... Come on in! haha cool!! So we went in, got to know him and his wife a little bit more and pretty soon taught the first lesson. It was a really great experience. I know they felt the spirit because I could see it in their eyes and my heart was pounding. They agreed to be baptized if they come to find it is true through study and prayer. I am really excited for them. The wife is Evangelista so she has some questions still, but that's why we are here. So we will go by soon and see how they're doing.

On Thursday, I was on an exchange with a different Elder because my companion went to some leadership meetings. So I spent the day with Elder Pouni. He is from Tonga and is such a cool guy. But we had an amazing experience. We went to go pick him up and then I drove us back (my first time driving in 4 months :) ) and it was like 7:30pm at this time. We had a GPS so that was sweet but there was so much construction that we had no idea how to go anywhere. haha. I began thinking...Wow, what should we do? We had planned to go see a less-active member tonight but it's already getting dark, we don't know their exact address, I don't know where I am, the family only speaks Spanish and my companion doesn't speak Spanish, I'm tired, and there is more work we can do back at our apartment for future investigators. I told Elder Pauni my thoughts and he said: Do what you think we should do...Let's go do work! After he said this, I thought: We told the stake president we would try to stop by, and that I just need to have faith. Well, I decided that we would go try to find this house. So we did. By the time we got there it was like 8:00pm but we found the house!! They invited us in. Sister Flores is a member but her son is less-active and he is the one we really wanted to see. We had a chance to talk with him (Nefi) for like 5 minutes because he said he was going out with friends. Well it was a great chat. Anyway, we then talked with Sister Flores for a bit and then I shared a quick message in Spanish. And then I was about ready to go, but then she offered to feed us some food. I was like: hmmm, not sure... looked at my companion and he said yeah. haha ok. But, he told me he felt like we needed to stay. Pretty soon, as we were finishing eating, Nefi came back and the spirit was so strong with him! Greatest visit!!! So glad for my companion. Helping me to exercise faith, be patient, and trust in the Lord!

Last night all of our plans fell through... so we thought, Hmm, what should we do? We prayed to know where to go and we felt like we needed to go to a trailer park. So, we went there and then walked around a little bit. We saw a guy outside and went up and talked to him. Once again he didn't seem super excited either, but he changed. At first we explained who we were and I could tell he wasn't super interested because he was looking all around. So we started to ask him some questions. In the end, he accepted a restoration pamphlet and Book of Mormon. He has a wife and daughter and they just moved it. My companion, Elder Jones, shared a powerful testimony and then I also shared my testimony, and once again said that I am here because I know this message to be true and it has brought me so much joy. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important to me. And then I said: PLEASE read this pamphlet. Please, and pray before doing so because Jesus Christ is coming to the earth again very soon. We need to know which religion is right and it's through studying and prayer that we can receive that answer. As both of us bore testimony, his countenance changed and he looked us both straight in the eye. I know he felt the Spirit and he honestly was more excited about this message than any other investigators I have met. I am really excited for this guy!! Go Luis!

Great experiences. Hope you all have a great week! Thanks for your letters!!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, October 3, 2011

The Spirit changes lives!

Mi Familia y Amigos,

It has been a great week!

Well, first of all, this week was transfers.  It was a little bittersweet when the transfer call came. I found out that my companion, Elder Rigby, was being transferred. I reflected upon all that my trainer had taught me. I am so grateful for all that I have learned from him. He helped me to know how to teach people, not lessons, and to concentrate on the "one." I will always remember the things he taught me...or as he would say...that the Spirit helped me to learn. We did service pretty much the whole last transfer meaning that I didn't really get to teach any investigators, but I learned a lot just from solely serving others through breaking down good ol' sand bag walls.

The first day with my new companion, Elder Jones, we found out we have a lot in common. Found out he is from Logan, UT and ran cross-country at Logan High. He also worked at Subway. But the thing that stood out to me most the first day with him is that he came to this area to WORK.  I love my new companion and I know that we will have a great transfer!!

We have really studied a lot about past investigators here and we have found lots of people to teach and lots of less-active members. We are really excited and hope that we can make a difference here in bringing the happiness we feel to the people in Sioux City! We taught a man named "Serbin" just the other day and it was really great. We went to his house to teach his father who had been living with him for a short time but when we got there, we found out that his father had already returned to Guatemala. But Serbin was kind of in the background when we taught his father and he wanted to hear what we had to say. So, he asked us a lot of questions. Thanks to Elder Jones, who speaks great Spanish, it was a great visit...haha. My spanish isn't amazing, but I still do all I can to focus on what the investigator says. I feel like I understand what he is saying through the Spirit. I could sense how Serbin was feeling as we taught him the first lesson. I didn't always know exactly everything my companion said when answering his questions, but as I bore my testimony, I saw his eyes light up. He looked me straight in the eye, and I knew that he felt the love of God. The feeling is indescribable. I know he felt the Spirit...and he invited us back over again this week. I can't wait to see him again.

I feel like I got to know him quite a bit. I kinda joked around a bit about how I don't know Spanish super well...and I talked with him quite a bit. Sometimes, not knowing exactly what I said...haha and him too...but I feel a bond with Serbin that no way could be how it is if it hadn't been for the Spirit that touched his heart as we testified of the Book of Mormon.

He still has tons of questions, but I can just already see him as an amazing member in the branch and going to the temple with his wife and daughter.

Then, this weekend was conference...wow, was that amazing or what?? I loved every session. I feel like I enjoy conference more every time I watch it because I understand why it's so important. I don't know what my favorite talk was...they were all amazing. But I hope all of you will watch or read the conference talks if you didn't already and review them again. What was said is the Lord's counsel for us for these next 6 months!!

I watched 1/2 of conference in Spanish with some of the members in my branch. I don't know exactly all that was said when I was listening in Spanish, but I could feel the Spirit. And hey, how about the other Provo temple?!! That will be SO sweet! and even in Wyoming, haha

Anyway, my testimony has grown 10-fold this week. I know that we are all children of God and His love for us is perfect. He will help guide our lives towards His will. I love my Heavenly Father and Savior with all my heart. It is such a privilege to be a missionary right now. I know that the Spirit changes lives. Teaching Serbin the other day wasn't by me or my companion...the things he learned and how he felt was from the Spirit. I know this church is true. Remember to look up!

I love you all, have a wonderful week.

Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Share the love!

Familia y amigos,
Hola! It has been a great week. We began working on the biggest sandbag wall of all... "Dan's wall" haha. It is HUGE. Wow. I have pictures but his house is like a mansion and during the flood his backyard (like a flippin' park) was all covered in water. Had it not been for his huge sandbag wall, his house would be burnt toast. haha
This week I went on an exchange with one of my zone leaders, Elder Miller, and with my ward mission leader to go find a hispanic guy that my mission leader knew. When we got to his apartment, a lady answered the door and said he moved. But we got talking with her and pretty quick we asked her if she would be interested in hearing a message...and she immediately invited us in. At this point, I was SO stoked because I haven't really had anything like this before. So anyway, we got talking to her (and she was American...didn't speak Spanish haha... but that's okay) and got to know her a bit. Pretty soon we began to teach about the Restoration and it was awesome. She said she has been trying to find a religion that she can just stay with and commit too. She has been catholic and a member of a different church (that I don't remember) most of her life. And she was so excited to hear our message. We taught her how to pray and then left her with something to read. We didn't teach the whole first lesson, but I think we taught what she needed to hear. Anyway, I'm excited to see how much she progresses in the future.
The other day, we had another district meeting and it was so good. The main message was about "becoming", not merely "doing." "Be is the motivation behind do." I remember there was a talk given by an apostle last conference about making a "to be list" instead of a "to do list." Pretty much the lesson was about if we aren't "becoming" someone better each day, then we don't understand our purpose in this life. Too often we are only focused on the "doing" that we don't become. Become is the motivator. Thanks to the Savior, we can always become, look forward, no matter what.
This week I have come to a greater understanding of the importance of this life. The Savior overcame everything for each of us. By our obedience we show our appreciation and love for all he did. Anyway, He is with us each and every step of the way. The Church is true.
Well, that's my thought for today. But this weekend is general conference. I'm way excited and  hope that you all are too!! Tomorrow is transfers. I can't believe I have already been here for 6 weeks... Hope you all have a great week!
Love, Elder Vawdrey
PS: The General Conference talk referred to above can be found by clicking here.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Of Things that Matter Most

Family and Friends,
Hola otra vez!! Como estan?!! Wow... is life busy or what? It has been a week of lots of learning and studying :) Thank you all for your wonderful examples and love. But the lesson I have really been learning lately is Finding Joy in the Journey.

I have a companion who has been here for 21 months and so he is very experienced with the work here. He has a great love for everyone and is amazing with the members of our little Spanish branch. The biggest thing I have learned from him is Patience and how to follow the spirit. I don't know if it's just because I am new here or what but these first few weeks, I was often quick to feeling stressed about pretty much everything. I felt like we weren't doing everything right. I felt like I needed to be more "perfect," I guess you could say.

Elder Vawdrey and Elder Rigby
But, my companion would often ask me: What's on your mind, Elder Vawdrey? And at first I didn't want to talk to him because I was stressed out of my mind, but then I just started to tell him what was stressing me out. He helped me to realize that I shouldn't worry so much about stuff. Honestly, he has changed my life for the better. When I first met him, I thought he was a nice guy, but I judged him. I am so grateful that he didn't judge me and is so loving. He had me read the talk: "Of Things that Matter Most." I suggest you read it. (Click here to read or watch this amazing talk by Elder Dieter F. Uchtdorf.)

We need to simplify our lives. If all we are concerned about it how many numbers we put up for baptisms and how many things I can do in one day... we will feel stressed all the time. We need to take time to evaluate ourselves often and as we simplify our lives, we will better understand why this gospel is so great and we will be more productive with our time. Also, if we are super stressed, we probably won't be able to follow the spirit. So... this week, I am committing myself to slow down a bit, remember my purpose here in this area, and love people... not judge them.

Sioux City, IA Spanish Branch
Our little branch is doing well. There are many callings being extended right now and we are so excited to see this branch grow. This week I had more opportunities to speak in Spanish and that was so sweet. I loved it. Overall, the work is great here. There is lots to do, but we will do our very best. I have a testimony that I know that Lord places people in our lives for a reason. There is something great we can learn from everyone we encounter. "We shouldn't focus on problems, we should focus on solutions to problems and then solve them."
Julian was baptized soon after Brian's arrival

Wrestling un serpiente
LOTS of sandbags to move

"When ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God!"

Mucho sandbags = mucho musculos!
I love you all and I hope you all have a wonderful week! Much love,
Elder Vawdrey

Monday, September 12, 2011

Change is constant!

Hola mi familia y mis amigos,

I hope you all had a wonderful week! And yesterday was a memorable day for America. I am so grateful for our freedoms and privileges...especially for our freedom of religion :) This freedom set up for the Restoration of the Gospel. How sweet!!!

And this week has been memorable too. We had a zone conference this week which was very uplifting and we received several new standards. One of which has to do with food. oh no. haha Here in this mission we have great members who feed us every night for dinner. In our zone conference we were told that we need to stop this. It is destroying our mission because it is taking away too much time from proselyting. From now on we can only have dinner with a member family if there is a progressive or potential investigator present. Otherwise, we must eat dinner on our own before 5pm because we found out that the best proselyting time is between 5pm and 9pm.

I was a little surprised at this change, but I am really excited about it, to be honest. I think this will really open up more opportunities to serve more and teach more lessons!!! yes!! That's what I want. We have been doing service so much...but this will allow us to teach lessons too! I think this will allow me to have more opportunities to speak Spanish too. cool.

Anyway, it has been an interesting week. However, there are many people who don't like this inspired change. I hope that I can work more closely with my companion so that we can help this truly help out the mission and bringing souls closer to Christ. When we receive counsel from a leader, it's not just from them...it's the same as if it is directly from the Lord... so obey we must :)

I love missionary work, and it is definitely work. but it's great. One other new thing coming out is mormon.org campaigns. They will start having commercials and billboards of mormon.org profiles next month in different cities throught the country...so we are really excited about this. If any of you aren't familiar with mormon.org, I encourage you to go check it out. It is SO sweet. Click on profiles and watch a movie clip or two they are amazing. And you can also create your own profile with your testimony and hobbies. :)

Because we have just been continually helping with sandbags and moving people from house to house, I haven't had opportunities to speak spanish, but I know they will come :)

Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you all!

Elder Vawdrey

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

It's a branch!

Familia y Amigos,

Hooola! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday yesterday. We had a great holiday here as well. Some of the members that we helped with their sandbag walls invited us over to their house for a picnic. There were like 80 people there...non-members and members. It was so great. There was amazing food, amazing people, and fun games. We enjoyed playing with the kids and it was a great time. No huge miracle moments but I'm sure something will come up later. Just being around the non-members is a motivator and makes things fun.

The other day, one of the non-member couples wrote a note to our ward mission leader (who just got released because he is now in the bishopric) and thanked him for the 7 elders who showed up at their house the other day to help them take down their sandbag wall. They said it helped them to realize that there is still good in the world today!! This couple had been working on breaking down their sandbag walls themselves... they had taken 91 truckloads before we came. Pretty amazing, because they are old. haha But it is amazing how quickly you can get a job done when you have lots of people helping.

The biggest news of all is that our spanish "group" just became a "Branch" on Sunday. I thought this was pretty saweet! I'm not exactly sure what all this entails yet... other than my companion saying that we will have lots of work to do :) sweet! That's good stuff. So he told me that right now, we will probably focus more on the members of the Branch and strengthening them in their testimonies than on finding new investigators. Time to strenghten the kingdom!! ah yeah!! But Brother Ignasio in the branch has tons of referrals for us... so as we do our best to strengthen the members we will also try to contact the referrals and begin teaching! whoot!!

So, last time I talked about how we were going to teach Monica... but that actually didn't work out. But, we are going to visit her this week! And many more people! I had my first like real weekly planning session with my companion yesterday because we have just been doing service and that was so sweet. I feel like I know more about the people in the mission and the mission work I was expecting... but I'm not going to lie, the service with sandbags was sweet.

As for spanish, the other day I had the thought to read the book of mormon in spanish. I began just 2 days ago and then I just read my Hermana Vawdreys e-mail about how she wants to do the same thing. woo hoo. That's way cool. And wow, I have learned so much in the past 2 days. I have been able to understand everything for the most part and have learned tons of vocabulary. My goal is to finish it by the end of the year...my companion said that if I did that then I would be fluent in spanish! yeah yeah! 

My companion has me answer all of the phone calls that we get from our spanish members... hahah and yeah, wow. This has been a challenge. My conversation with them lasts for just a few seconds after a pause on the phone and I say... "si, no entendi espanol mucho." hahah so thanks to my companion, he talks to them. But, this is what really made me want to study the book of mormon in spanish and practice speaking it more since we no longer will be breaking down sandbag walls for a while.

On Thursday night I believe, I taught my first lesson to some spanish members in our ward... about fasting. I was on exchanges with the English missionaries because my companion had meetings to go to. The members spoke English too but because they speak spanish, I gave the lesson in spanish and the other English missionaries just nodded their heads with big smiles :) haha And the lesson went great. The father was very attentive and nodded his head, meaning he understood me!! haha whoot.

Overall, these first 2 weeks have been interesting and tough. But everyday I learn something new and learn how to be more united with my companion. The weather is hot.. lots of humidity, I look like a tomato right now to be honest! haha don't worry madre, I'm gonna go get some aloe vera today. That stuff is my favorite thing in the world. My companion gave me the nickname "sunblock." so alright, that will help me to remember to put on sunblock! haha But it's going to get really cold here soon.. my companion is really excited about it... I'm not sure what to think... but when it comes, I'll make the most of it.

Hope you all have a great week. I love you all. Thanks for your examples and love!

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, August 29, 2011

Service...do it for others, and if necessary, with words

Familia y Amigos

Hola, hola!! It's great to hear from you!! Oh wow...I'm here typing in the library and there is a bat flying around and just went over my head!! AH!! hahahha So I am sitting short in my chair ;) But, I'm glad you are all keeping busy and just enjoying life!! Yes!!

This week has been crazy. Constantly busy for us here, lots of service, and so we very much appreciate sleep at night. This whole week, we have been breaking down sand bag walls again. One family we did it for was the Dial family. They are non-members and through the whole process of taking down their wall, they totally opened up. They looked up to see how big their sandbag wall was...which was HUGE! But anyway, they said it had 29,000 bags of sand and was a total of 1.7 million pounds. hahah Well, that is definitely an overstatement. It wasn't that big, but it was huge. It took like 10 of us 2 whole days to break down the whole wall. The last stretch was the most difficult of course, but we pushed through and really enjoyed the feeling of having finished it. The father of the Dial family works for a steak business here in Sioux City, Iowa and he offered to cook us steaks! Beauty. So yeah. We ate steak the other night...best steak I have ever had. They were like an inch and a half thick haha. Yeah, it was delish. But the best thing of it all was when they told us what they learned from this whole experience. The father told us how he has always believed that everyone goes through at least one hard thing in their lives and of all things, he thinks this was his hard thing. And he told us about how when we are serving others, we are blessed in return. The whole community really came together because of this flood. Except for one lady...who didn't want to help anyone with theirs but demanded that people help her. And as things turned out, she was the only person whose house was somewhat flooded. Wow. How do you figure that? So the Dial family told us that if we serve others we will be blessed in return. I believe this was an example of the importance to serve others. If all we do is focus on ourselves and demand help, we are less likely to receive it then if we decided to serve others first :)

Anyway, throughout this service experience with the Dial family, they were open and were really respectful to us missionaries for our help towards their family. We didn't ever share a lesson with them because it just didn't feel right. But, we left a good impression on them and hope they will be open to receiving the gospel as time goes on because we really want to teach them!! But they know our beliefs and they respect them. The Lord is in control...and I hope that this family will choose to receive the gospel someday!!

The people are so nice to us here. They feed us constantly, I have now only had to cook like 2 meals haha. I love it. One lady we go see is less-active and we visit here a time or 2 each week and take care of her lawn and house and things because she isn't able to do it herself. She insists to buy some of our groceries for us.. :) haha I love her. She is way nice.

I experienced my first baptism on Saturday. An investigator from the companionship before me helped a guy named Julian to accept the gospel and his baptism was just the other day. The spirit was strong and it was fun to see his family there supporting him. I gave a talk about the Holy Ghost, but it was in English. Julian speaks English and Spanish but for some reason wanted his baptism to be all in English. His wife speaks better English. I believe that is the reason why. Then, later Saturday night, we went to 2 weddings. haha wow. Before today I think I have only been to like 2 weddings in my whole life, so it was a crazy day. One of the couples will be married in the temple in a year...the wife just got baptized a month ago and then I don't know what will end up happening with the other couple. I hope they get married in the temple because I have seen both and I know that temple marriage is so important and much better.

Another service thing we did this week was we went down to Nebraska to clean a church that had been vandalized. It was sad...but it's all cleaned up now :) And then at church yesterday, we were there for a total of 9 hours because of church, and other meetings. wow. They weren't lying when the missionaries said that Sundays are crazy.

And my companion is great. I love him. We are starting to become good friends and I am realizing why it is so important. The mission is great. I love it. Tonight, we have an appointment with a lady named Maria. We will be teaching the first lesson in Spanish and I am supposed to take the lead in the lesson. I'm really excited for it and to teach. This is the first lesson I will teach here in Sioux City with my companion!! But I hope you are all doing well. I wish you all the best. Have a great week at school and work and of course have some fun. love you all.

Elder Vawdrey

Monday, August 22, 2011

The life of a missionary in Sioux City, Iowa!!

Amigos y Familia,

Wow. It has been a crazy past week, lots of changes, and lots of great experiences!! I lied in my last letter about being in Nebraska...my first area is in Sioux City, Iowa. However, my area has part of South Dakota and Nebraska as well. It is a different world out here. Different culture, different people, but the church is the same and it is GREAT!!

After a great experience in the MTC, I got on the plane with 14 other Elders and sisters to fly to Nebraska.. one other elder was spanish speaking. We were met at the airport by our great mission president, President Kunz. He is such a great President. I love him. But the airport was pretty funny. So...if I can remember everything that happened, first of all...my bags weighed too much so I had to switch some things around. Then, when we went through the thingy, haha not sure what it's called...I put my carry-on through the security belt and the light went off. I had hair gel in my carry on so I had to throw that away. Then, when we arrived in Nebraska, my carry-on bag was gone. But, to make a long story short, all of us traveling Elders and Sisters got some good laughs and I arrived safely with all of my things after all :) Just gave the day some more spice, I guess you could say!!

It is very humid here.. so that has been crazy. But my first day here in the field was spent with the other new missionaries and President Kunz visiting all of the history sites here and it was so much fun. We had a big testimony meeting the first night, had interviews with President Kunz, and had some amazing food. We also were assigned to go with an experienced Elder or Sister for our first splits. And I went with Elder Starkey. We didn't have much success...after knocking on doors until we saw an Apartment complex. And I looked at him and was like "Ah yeah!!!" hahaha So we went over the the complex and the whole time I was thinking in my mind, I want our goal to be to enter into someone's home and teach the first lesson. Well, sure enough, at the very first door, we knocked and they immediately invited us in. Wow. And guess what, yeah! we taught them the first lesson!! haha. It was a tiny apartment with 2 families and the lesson was awesome. The committed to read the book of mormon and they want another appointment. So this was a total miracle. This was in the Omaha area, so other Elders will continue to teach them.

As for my companion, he is awesome! His name is Elder Rigby from Provo, UT. He is athletic, played as quarterback at Provo High and may try-out for BYU football. He is a big guy! haha He has lots of experience out here in the field and is currently the district leader. He is really nice, has great faith, is really good with people, doesn't worry much about things, and loves the cold!! haha I quickly found that out after my first night with him when I woke up to the thermometer at 55 degrees. What? hahaha. I pretty much froze but it was a good way to wake us both up. haha It actually felt really nice.

The mission field here is different than I expected. I thought I would teach lessons non-stop, but as for here in Iowa, right now it is pretty much just a SERVICE mission. There has been lots of flooding out here so we have been putting up and breaking down sand bag walls. It is hard work, but I am getting some big biceps ;) Anyway, the people are SO nice here. The members are so kind. I haven't had to cook a single meal yet. wow. And we get fed lots of steak, chicken, beans, and tacos. Wow...I'm gonna get so fat. haha

All in all, the mission is amazing. My companion is great, the people are amazing, and there is lots of work. I hope you are all having a great week and for those of you getting ready for school, I wish you the best. Thanks for much for your love, and your cards. I love you all so much. Hope you got a little taste of the sweet city of Sioux ;)

Elder Vawdrey

Nebraska, Here I come!

11 August 2011

Familia, Friends, le amo!!

First of all... I got my Travel Plans!!! Woo!! I leave on Tuesday to Nebraska. I'm sad that I wont be able to see my sister at the MTC before I leave... but I guess the Lord's will is different. But... I am SO excited for Nebraska. I can't wait until I can just go talk to people about the gospel. I feel like I know enough spanish to carry a conversation with someone and teach the lessons, but we will see how fast they speak out in the field!! haha

I hope you all had a great week. I can't believe it's already the middle of August. That means school is starting up again soon. I hope you all are super excited for school :)

Well, last week, I talked about how I was so excited to teach a lesson to our investigator here at the MTC. And wow, it was SO awesome! We taught our investigator about the Atonement and the spirit was SO strong. We directed our lesson based on the needs of her than just teaching the lesson. I feel like this is the first time we really did this. And wow. Our investigator was crying during our lesson, and it was just so cool. After the lesson, as a companionship we said a gratitude prayer because we know that we weren't the ones that taught the lesson.
It is amazing, you can tell when the spirit is teaching or not. If you're not teaching with the spirit, the investigator doesn't pay attention and you feel like you are just saying whatever you can think of. But wen you have the spirit with you, it is powerful, and the lesson is just amazing. This is a lesson that I will never forget and will motivate me in the mission field.

Also, this Sunday was Fast Sunday, and I was debating whether or not to bear my testimony. Well, if I were to bear my testimony, I would do it in spanish...sooo I wasn't so sure if I wanted to. Well, once the Sacrament Meeting started, it hit me that I should go up and bear my testimony. although I just didn't want to. haha Then, during the sacrament, I felt the spirit strongly and I remembered that I set a goal at the beginning of my MTC experience that I wanted to share my testimony in sacrament meeting, so I ended up doing it. And I did it all in SPanish!! haha YES!!! I would so stoked. My companions said they understood everything I said...so Yes!! I was so happy!! And I realized how important it is to have goals. If we have goals in our lives, they can lead us for good. I'm so glad I set this goal at the beginning of my MTC experience. Just going up and bearing my testimony in spanish
really pumped up my confidence with the language and helped me to realize that if I truly just rely on the Lord, he will help me in everything I do. And i'M grateful for the opportunity that we have each month to bear our testimonies in church. It's an opportunity to share our testimony with others and thank the Lord for his great mercy and love in our lives!! I don't do it much, and so I felt like I needed to
this week!!

Later on Sunday night, I got a picture with Elder Robby Lee by the big map because he left Monday morning. It was the weirdest thing to say goobye to him again. haha I'm excited for him... he will be a great missionary.

Then, yesterday, one of our teachers told our district that we needed to combine with another district because there were lots of missionaries coming and 16 desks were in one room. and there was only 5 desks in our room. haha Having 16 desks in a room would be unbelievable, so I understand why this is needing to take place. Our little class of 5 elders was so much fun... and I am so grateful that we didn't have to combine with the other district a few weeks ago. This change was
definitely not as difficult as it would have been a few weeks ago. We wont have our same teachers anymore, which I will miss... but we gained 2 other teachers, and that is good too! we combined with another district of 5. And really, we only have like 4-5 days left here, so this change wasn't bad at all.

Overall, The MTC has been a great experience for me. I have learned more about myself, the Lord, and the importance of this life here in the MTC than anywhere else. I love missionary work. And I am so excited that my next e-mail will be sent from NEBRASKA!!! woo hooo. Thanks everyone for your love, examples, and letters. I hope you all have a wonderful week!! The church is true!!

Elder Vawdrey

Travel plans today!

4 August 2011

Familia and Amigos... HOLA!!!!

I just found out that we should be receiving our travel plans today, so I am SO excited!! I hear that they should come after dinner. I can't believe that I only have 2 more weeks left in the MTC. I am so excited to get to the field, but until then, I need to learn more!! But, anyway, I hope you are all doing well. It has been another great week here at the MTC and I have learned so much.

To start out on a funny note, in my district, there were a few pranks that happened. And one of which was on me. haha So...I received a card from my mom about how things were going on the home front and my extended family. I was so excited about what I read in the letter that I shared it with my companions. I told them how I have a cousin that just got engaged, another cousin that could be getting engaged, my other cousin is about to finish his mission, and my sister preparing
for her mission. Well, I was telling them the story in spanish, but I forgot how to say cousin. I thought it was "primo" but after asking my companion, he said "no, it's novio." Well, for those of you who speak spanish, you are probably laughing right now. Well, anyway, I told them about all of "novios" and as I was expressing my excitement, I noticed that my companions and district all were trying not to laugh. I thought they were just so happy for me. haha well, I realized what "novio" meant after my district leader asked me, so... how many "novios" do you have? So, I responded with oh, like 60. haha. And then I found out that "novios" means "boyfriends." WOW. seriously. haha But it was a good laugh for a while. And likewise, something happened like this to several other Elders in my district.

As a companionship this week, Elder Hansen suggested that we read scriptures together each night before bed. So we read scriptures for about 10 minutes and share our thoughts about them before bedtime. And that has improved our companionship and also our personal testimonies!

On Tuesday, Elder Lund (former member of the 2nd quorum of 70) spoke. He gave an AMAZING talk about faith. It was SO awesome. So I thought I would share a few things about it that I liked. "Faith is a process, not an event." To be successful in life we need to know how to exercise faith, how to learn by faith, and how to help others do the same. Then, he talked about how we need to hear the word and have a soft heart in order to have 1. desire/hope 2. Action 3. Witness/Confirmation. "The real test is if you will act on the hope you have within you or if you will demand proof first." I loved this talk. It strengthened me so much and I know that increasing our faith will build up our testimonies, bring us closer to Christ, and feel of his love. Oh and one other quote "We can't see the love of God...but we can feel it as we come to learn about the Savior and learn about how he suffered for each of us individually."

Well, back to a funny note really quick that just happened. So, I'm here typing and sitting next to me was an Elder facing the other direction that looked just like Elder Lee. So, I punched him and was like "ELDER LEE!!!" haha And well...it wasn't Elder Lee!! But he is in his district. But hey, apparently this Elder that looked like Elder Lee was falling asleep so I woke him up :) hahaha

This week, the MTC is now teaching a new curriculum. It started just yesterday so yesterday was a bit different. But I love the new curriculum. It's more focused on investigators and how to teach. And it came perfect timing because our fake investigator we have been teaching is getting baptized on Saturday! But...we will continue to teach our other fake investigator: DIANA. And wow, it has been a good experience.

Well, the background of her is that she has never been very religious and has recently been separated from her family because of bad choices. So.. tonight we are teaching her about the Atonement, which I am excited for. I think it will be a great lesson. I know that God truly loves us all so very much no matter what you have done. The Atonement is incredible and infinite. I hope you all know that.

Lastly, as a district, we realized how fast these last 2 weeks are going to fly by and so we just had like a 40 minute talk that we were going to work as hard as we can so that we can be as prepared as possible when we get to the mission field. I am so excited to get to the field and I am so grateful for an awesome district who always wants to work hard and obey the rules. I hope that we can all finish our MTC
experience on a good note by giving everything we have and obeying the rules!!

Overall, I love you all. Thank you so much for your love, your support, and your examples. This life is so important and it is so great...depending on your attitude. My companion gave a comment the other day that I love: "Faith is having a good attitude and trying to serve others while you yourself are going through a trial." It's so true. So... exercise faith amigos. This life is great. The Lord has
promised that he wont give us anything we can't handle. So, our trials are solely for the purpose to make us stronger. Are your trials making you stronger and closer to Christ? If not, how can you change that? Life is good. :) We all struggle, but that's why the Plan of Happiness is so great!! Have a great week.

Elder Vawdrey

Going to work!

28 July 2011

Hola familia y amigos!

How's the summer going? I can't believe it is already 1/2 over ;)

I had many awesome experiences this week! First of all, when we taught one of our progressing investigators last week. We were wrapping up our lesson and talking about the importance of prayer. It was going great and then after my companion finished a thought that he had, he told the investigator that I was going to teach her how to pray. And I was like... yeah! haha It was really funny because, we weren't planning on teaching our investigator about how to pray during this lesson, and so I didn't know exactly how to teach it in spanish because I didn't know the vocabulary. Wellst, I just explained it the best way I could...sometimes just by showing her what to do instead of saying it. haha But I'm grateful for this opportunity. My companion already knew how to teach people how to pray, but he decided to give me the opportunity. So that was awesome. Then, our other progressive
investigator, after we had taught the lesson, I concluded with my testimony and I was using words that I have never said before in spanish. It was so sweet. I had heard the words said before, but I had never used them before. And I was using them...now that was SO sweet!! haha

Next of all, as a district, we decided to make the rule that we wouldn't say a single word of English during gym time. And if we say a word in English, then we have to stop playing basketball and run the rest of the gym period. Well, on Monday, I believe, we were having a dandy old time playing basketball. After the game, we were shooting again for teams, and when one of my companions was shooting. I yelled out: "LET'S GO ELDER!!" nooooo!!! hahaha So I spent the rest of gym time
running around the track, haha. Atleast I was encouraging my companion on the way right?!! haha. So, this happened once again later in the week... I said: "PICK LEFT." So.. I will probably never forget those 2 words in spanish again for as long as I live. haha. But, this rule has really pushed me. It makes me only speak spanish. And when someone starts talking to me in English, I just talk back in spanish... and hope that he stops talking soon. haha jk

In the line for food during lunch the other day, I noticed that standing behind me was one of the spanish teachers here at the MTC. For a minute, I didn't want to say anything to him because he was native...and I knew he would talk muy rapido. Well, my only decision was to be confident when he asked me where I was going to serve my
mission...and stuff.. in spanish haha. so I talked to him for a bit He is from Argentina, and I was like "hey!" my sister is serving her mission there. haha So that was really cool to talk to a native spanish speaker during lunch for a bit. And what really made my week was on Sunday during lunch. There was an Elder in line behind me going on a spanish speaking mission as well... and I was thinking, hey I'm going to talk to this Elder. So I did. ha And I talked with him in spanish for
like 15 minutes. Seriously. It was SO cool!!

Also this week in my scripture study, I learned so much and felt the love of the Savior. I have been reading in Alma, and I read through the chapters of Ammon cutting off arms, The Anti-Nephi-Lehies, the 2000 striplings warriors, and Alma the Younger. Wow, those stories are powerful. I felt the spirit very strongly as I read these stories. I loved the story about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies and how they buried their weapons of war deep in the earth. What are our weapons? What are things in our lives that are keeping us from feeling the love of God or his spirit everyday? I realized that I could bury some things in my own life, and that has blessed me this week. We need to bury those things in our lives that are making us angry or unhappy about life. When we stop thinking of ourselves and start serving others, we will feel amazing joy. I have really tried to do that this week and I have experienced a great week. Focusing on serving others brings such purpose to life and
the joy of the Savior. And then, I also love the story of Alma the Younger and how the Lord was merciful enough to save his life. An individual who had gone contrary to God's will and the Lord helped Alma realize what he was doing wrong. And then Alma became one of the greatest missionaries known to mankind. wow. what a great story. I know it to be true. God loves us all, and he will help all of us to bring
about good works when we turn to him and bury our weapons!!

Then, of course the devotionals every week are awesome. For those of you who need patience, this is for you. haha :) "Patience=the process of perfection: accepting that which cannot change and working against it. Firm, steadfast, and immovable, even when it's hard." And also..."It's often in the waiting than in the receiving that we learn the most." And then... "When someone says you can't, listen to the part of you that says you can." haha whoot. Now you get a taste of what the
devotionals are like here. Amazing.

I hope you all have a great week and remember who you really are: Children of God. He loves you so much. Thanks for your letters and all your love and support!

Elder Vawdrey

Tender Mercy of the Lord

21 July 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

Hola!! I hope you are all doing so well!! I feel so happy today...just thinking of how much the Lord is blessing me and each of you.

To start out, last week I think I talked about how I was asked to give the closing prayer in spanish in sacrament meeting next Sunday (last sunday) and yeah it was awesome!! haha I thought a little bit about what I would say before the meeting, but as I got up and began walking up to the pulpit, my stomach was filling up with butterflies. Then, I was like... why should I be nervous, I pray in spanish multiple times every day, so no reason to be nervous. Well, I was still a little nervous haha but it went well. I got up there... and thanks to the speakers who spoke by the spirit, I felt guided in spanish of what to say...saying things that I
hadn't planned to say! Nobody came up to me after the prayer saying I said something wrong, so I am pretty happy :) haha

A little later on Sunday, we went to the cafeteria for lunch before our next meeting and I brought my backpack with me with Preach My Gospel and tons of other stuff that I needed with me. I put my backpack on the rack before going to lunch and as you can probably guess, I came back to get it after I finished eating and it was no where to be found. I thought, "oh no!" haha But at the same time, I wasn't too worried about it because I figured that if I wanted and needed it bad enough, the Lord would help me to find it. So anyway, I went to my meetings after lunch and I didn't need the things that were in my backpack. Then, Monday came around and the lady at the front desk called my name. At this point, I knew it was my backpack. Sure enough, I went to the front desk and there it was!!! haha yes!! And it was perfect because after this, my companions and I were preparing to teach our progressing investigator, so I needed the materials in my backpack. So...from this
experience, my testimony was strengthened that the Lord knows our needs and wants. He knows us by name and he will help us in times of need!! I was super happy to get my bag back. haha And it's crazy how little miracles come into our lives like this all the time and we don't even notice them. So as for my thought for you all today...look for the Lord's hand in your life daily. He truly is there all the time. I have been amazed as I have been reading the scriptures, the word "remember"
is in the Book of Mormon so much. We need to remember our blessings so that we have greater faith in times of trial. ;)

Next of all, I have been meeting with a spanish tutor like 2-3 times each week...and that has helped me SO much. The tutor is way nice and helps me mucho with the language. He has helped my spanish a lot and right now I just had the thought of how it's kind of like the Savior. The Savior is our tutor in life. If we turn to him, not just in times of need, then he will always help us and bless us!

Earlier this week, about 20 of us Elders at the MTC from American Fork got together for a picture. That was awesome and it was fun to see them all at the same time. Although, there were still a few Elders from A.F. who weren't there...they forgot about it. haha but esta bien!

And one more thing...one night earlier this week, a member of our district presidency came into our classroom and said that we have 10 minutes to prepare to teach him about the 1st vision in SPANISH. We were like: oh, ok, cool! haha So, we split up the lesson between the 5 of us in our district and then after 10 minutes, we went upstairs and taught him. It was an awesome experience. The first vision is so powerful. I love teaching that lesson. He complimented on our spanish and said he
felt the spirit!! yes!! haha

The MTC is awesome. I love it. And time is flying by. I really can't believe that today is another preparation day. It feels like last week's was just yesterday.
seriously. Well, I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love the gospel, the church is true, and may you see God's hand in your life :)

Elder Vawdrey