I can email on Mondays and I would love to hear from you. My email address is:

Sunday, September 17, 2017

9/11/2017: Week 48 So This is Actually Half and Half

This is both my weekly and my response to you. The first paragraph is for you, the following is for the weekly and the end will be the response to your email. (Michael’s Mom: I took out the first and the last, but I included the explanation because otherwise the title makes no sense J)

I am pretty busy that's for sure, although some of that is definitely my fault. For instance, today we woke up at 4:50. Went to Cross fit at 5. At 6 we met with the Vernal and the Spanish Elders to go hike to the U on the mountain. We ended up having to hike clear from the road because Elder Rowe doesn't know how to drive his Rav 4 (which in my opinion he doesn't deserve and he should trade us for our Rogue!)  We rode with the Vernal Elders in their Corolla. I don't remember if I sent videos of the adventures Elder Bayless and I had with the Rav 4 but needless to say, it has several times more than enough to do it. Anywho we're also playing golf (meaning he's playing golf and trying to convince me that he's having the time of his life while constantly complaining about the clubs, the course, his hits, the balls etc etc.... not terribly convincing to say the least. And on top of that they're all free so.... yeah) then we're gonna play Ultimate in a little while, should be super good. 

Last week’s Pday wasn't too crazy so no need to get into that. As for the rest of this week... we're so busy! Like I knew that this area tends to have a lot of work, plus whitewashing and all the other stuff I've been talking about... but this is crazy.

I really don't know where to start, it feels like there is just too much to put together in one email if I go day by day and talk about everything, but at the same time, I don't want to miss things.

Well let's discuss the area first. Obviously, I'm in Vernal, also known as freebie heaven, the promised land, or the Mecca, in the mission. Interesting thing about Vernal, in spite of the fact that it's actually two districts, Elder Joachin and I almost act like the Zone Leaders for Vernal, because we have people go across district lines all the time, and we hang out as well. We also do baptismal interviews for each other, which is normally a ZL responsibility. Quite honestly, the people we spend the most time with are the Spanish Elders, Elders Sanchez and Rowe, who cover all of Vernal, and the other district leaders, Elder Joachin (from Guatemala) and Johansen (from Denmark) who obviously aren't in my district. We also have activities with both districts together pretty frequently... which we don't really have the authority to authorize... but sort of we do. It's pretty odd to say the least. Over the last three days.... we've just spent a lot of time together, let's just leave it at that. Vernal is a super tight knit group, which is pretty cool. Another oddity, although this is our ZLs decision not because of Vernal, we're basically going on surprise exchanges with our ZLs. They just texted today and said meet us at this place at this time and we're having an exchange. I'll be going to their area tonight with Elder O'Reilly (my frisbee buddy) and Elder Hansen will come up here with Elder Nelson. 

Ok so the work. Something we have in our mission is the Standards of Excellence (SoE). President Hodgman, some time ago, took a great deal of time to study, ponder, and seek revelation as to what each area in our mission can do. The result is the SoEs. We have a promise, from the Lord through President Hodgman and the keys he holds, that every area in our mission CAN achieve the SoEs. That being said, they very often don't. I've never had an area before that consistently met them. In the past I never really focused on them too much, I didn't think about the promise we had, it was just cool when it happened. Normally we could at least meet some of them. They are as follows. Gate (meaning baptisms) on average 1.5 per month. So three every other month or so. Date (meaning investigators on Date for baptism) is 4 per week. Pew (church attendance) is 5 per week. And New (new people who have been taught and agreed to learn more) is 9 per month. My goal for the last several months has been to achieve the promise and work to fulfill it and make my areas SoE areas. My time is Ferron was spotty, we could achieve some parts but not other parts. Here in Vernal, we almost met the SoEs for the month the first week. 2 baptisms, 4 on date, only 3 at church, and 2 new. I'm not sure why the new was so low... because the week after that we met the standard in the first week on the new month except for baptisms, which was the next week. So now, the goal is to make my district an SoE district... that'll take some work. Our area is just exploding, now to figure out how to help them too. My district is a total of 4 areas, which means SoE for the month is Gate 6, Date 64, Pew 80, New 27. That's a lot of people and a lot of good we gotta go out and do. So that's the goal, just gotta get it done. 

So as for this week... we got 7 new investigators, 4 of whom went on date. That felt really good. Haha my last two areas have been low finding areas, it feels just wrong for it to be so fast. ... it's just weird. That being said.... if there are any missionaries or future missionaries reading this.... do NOT push and force people to baptism. There are things that are so much more important! In the last week, we've contacted at least 3 or 4 or 5 different families, all of whom either didn't meet with us or thought about not meeting with us because of missionaries and other members who pushed them away by trying to force and cajole people into baptism. It's not about baptism, it's about conversion. It's about Gospel centered families that last generations and are sealed together in an eternal chain that reaches from one end of the eternities to the other. And it happens on the Lords time table. If you just love people, provide an example, listen to them, and invite them, always always invite them, then the time will come. That's the way it works. 

I love you all, I really do. Thank you for always being out there, for being the examples you are. The other thing that has seemed so obvious this week is gratitude. I remember a companion whose mom chewed him out for complaining about only getting two baptisms in a month, where in some missions they wouldn't have any. I know lots of people, companions, missionaries, members, nonmembers, it seems like all they know how to speak is complaints and whining. Just like those who begin to swear and then forgot how to speak any other way, their language is weak and corrupt, they are not fun to be around, and they drive away the spirit of light and call in the spirit of contention. If you feel sad or weak in your life, if you feel like your relationships are failing, ask yourself how grateful have you been. If you will just focus on being grateful, your life will change. Especially in our mission, missionaries are blessed with very many things. I mentioned my companion complaining about his free clubs today. That happens all the time. Missionaries complain about restraints on freebies, the food they get, the members who feed them. It's such a poison. And it makes me sad. If there is one thing you could do for me to change your world and the people around you, it’s to be sincerely grateful for all you receive and for the blessings you have, that's all I ask.

Have a great day, have a great week, have a great life.

Elder DeFord

Sunday, September 3, 2017

8/28/2017: Week 46 Dino Land

Those of you back home, you know that town... the one with all the frogs? I totally just forgot what it's called... but it's a little like that here in Vernal. Not quite as prolific with the dinosaurs... but they're waaaaay bigger.

Ok so when it comes to this week, there isn't too much to report about the beginning of the week. We just tried to visit as many people as possible. Unfortunately, there were many that I had hoped to see that I didn't get to. Since I live so far out from Provo and was going to be training, we had to drive up the night before so I could be there early in the morning for the trainers meeting. And that cut into my
visit times :( but for those of you I wasn't able to visit, I love you and I will return in 14 months or so :) I'm kind of cheating right now actually... I just emailed leadership down there to put it in the
program :D haha

Anyway since then.... whitewashing... and training... and district leader again... it's been a well filled 4 days. So Wednesday morning we had our meeting, I met my trainee, Elder Nelson, he's from Houston and, you guessed, way taller than me :p I may really never have a shorter companion... oh well. Cool thing though... from Texas and as big and brawny as he is, you would think, football of course. Nope. Turns out he isn't really that interested in sports like that, he's done motocross since he was about 3. So that's pretty cool, it's been super good so far.

Uh... where to start... first off everyone thinks I like peanut butter. Elder Connelly, my first companion, is one of the missionaries we're whitewashing out, and he has been telling people for days that I love peanut butter. I DO NOT! Luckily most people have seen through it... but it scares me every time. On the other hand, in his first four days in the Field, my companion has had baptisms, Correlation meetings, solo lessons, eternal investigators, put people on date, met with bishops, met with excommunicated members, WMLs, had a Baptismal interview, given two different talks in two different wards with just a few days notice, cleaned fonts, played frisbee, been payed for,
gotten free food, all sorts of stuff. Like I said, very full few days.

We've seen several miracles in our area already, we found a collection of names that have been ignored by missionaries for months and some cases years who seemed to be ready to be baptized, we're going to go contact all of them in a few days. We also had a 12 year old girl who is so pumped to meet with us, she's already read half the Book of Mormon, been going to church, the whole deal. All I can say is, I'm busy, and I'm being forced to grow, and reinforced, to keep up with the area and all the Lord needs me to do right now. Wow. The church is so so very true. See ya ;P

Have a great day, have a great week, have a great life.

Elder DeFord

8/21/2017: Week 45 Transfer Week ... Level 8 ... Start!

So I don't think anyone knows this... but on my calendar I have all of my transfers laid out like a game. When I entered the MTC is in as game start tutorial, followed by level 1, level 2 etc etc, with each transfer I level up. Then level 16 (second to last transfer) is sudden death because that's when the Hodgmans finish their mission and I have to get a new mission President and wife. Then Level 17 is my final transfer and that's the boss fight. Then the final day when I go home and get released, is Game End, Gospel Win! Haha I know I'm a nerd but that's just the way it's gonna be.

Alright before we get any farther into this, you should all know that I'm getting transferred this week and heading off to Vernal for the next little while. I'll also have a new district and new missionary to
corrupt as a District Trainer, a mix between district leader and trainer.... so yeah. All sorts of new experiences there. Honestly I look forward to Vernal (after all who can complain bout free food?)
but I'm going to miss my Ferron. There are so many people there who will never leave my heart. I have had so many experiences, so much growth, I'm sad to leave. I have to admit, there have been a few tears over the last few days... haha but I'm like the cop from Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, whenever the tears come I tell myself I have to be strong, I've got a lot of work left to do.... and then I suck the tears right back up into my eye like a real man ;P

But really, I don't know how many of my friends from Ferron are actually even aware this blog exists... I do a really bad job of advertising I guess :P but those of you that are... if any... thank you. My life has been changed, and I hope that I've made a difference in some of yours.

Alright now that that's out of the way... let's talk. Life is good on a mission. Always learning or doing or growing. It's pretty amazing. I'm not gonna go into crazy details this week... but we had some pretty cool experiences I'd like to share. So Saturday morning I'd decided we should go visit a formerly less active member I knew pretty well, and say good bye. He wasn't home but his neighbor was out mowing his lawn and thought we were coming to talk to him. So we did ;P turns out he's from Helper actually but has been having lots of hard times for a long time and asked what we could do for him. How could we help him. We talked about church, we had a prayer with him, and gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon with a 21 day testimony bookmark. He took it and asked us to put our names in it and date it so he could remember it. We also included our number and the number of the elder in Helper. I don't know where that Book of Mormon will end up... but the spirit testified to me that it was in the right place, and some day I'll hear about it. Whether in this life or the next, that's an encounter in which I know I did what God needed me to at that time. Interestingly enough, that evening we got home and one of our new neighbors was standing outside, we got to talk to him some, he was also a less active member and he had some great questions, we directed him to the church and testified before returning to our apartment. The Lord guided our footsteps, and as long as we're willing to be guided, both as missionary's and as members. Remember, an invitation is an expression of love, if you love someone more than you love yourself, you'll want to invite them to partake of the same blessings you experience every day in your life through the Gospel. And here's the most important part.... If you invite with love, you are a successful missionary, member, disciple of Christ. It doesn't matter if they say yes or no, but inviting is success. I can point directly to the words of the prophets if you want... it's that simple. I love you all. I'm gonna miss Ferron. And times are just always getting better!

Have a great day, have a great week, have a great life.

Elder DeFord