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

Monday, December 26, 2016

Week 11: 12/26/2016 Post Christmas Mailer

Ok let's get something straight.... holidays kind of suck as a
missionary. And not necessarily in the way you would think. Missing
family and friends and stuff... not too big a deal for me. But as a
missionary, everybody has family in town, or is out of town, or
sick... it's just hard to find people to teach who aren't affected by
all those things so you can actually teach them. Grr, as a result I
don't have a ton to talk about from this week. It almost feels like we
were just trying to get through the week to Christmas and this week is
likely to be similar I think. Hopefully January should be more normal
at least. But yeah here we go.

So Monday was a pretty normal boring Monday, nothing too terribly
exciting. We did laundry and went to Lowes and what not so not bad...
just not fantastic either. Just kind of meh.

And we didn't really have any plans for proselytizing that evening so
we just kind of had to visit people and hope they were home and we
could do something. That actually been super common this week. We
spent a lot of time at A.'s house.

Tuesday we had some chores to do at least... and then we had some
baptism interviews... and more visiting people and saying hi and
stuff... and everybody passed their interviews... I also have been
playing the piano a ton... just getting ready for the talent show
stuff for the mission Christmas party on Thursday. But still, it feels wrong
to be sitting on my butt playing the piano when I could be working....
it's been a frustrating week.

Wednesday was a little better... we had a full evening planned...
more baptism interviews again, everyone passed, and we got to have
another lesson with A. which was nice. Everybody else cancelled
though. Oh we also had district training meeting that morning... so
that was kind of productive at least. And then at about 10 that night
I got a txt from some sisters... haha I'm now in three things in the
talent show. Tada. Oh and my voice is blown out and I'm getting a
throat cold so I can't hardly talk. And I'm supposed to sing
tomorrow... yikes.

So Thursday was the Christmas party, I already feel like a frog
croaking so this will be interesting. I'm accompanying a sister on an
arrangement of A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief on the violin. The
arrangement is by Craig Petrie so the accompaniment is pretty
ridiculous, these long multi octave 8th note runs... yeah all sorts of
fun stuff. Haha don't get me wrong, it was a great challenge and I
really enjoyed it, more time might've been nice though. And being able
to practice with her ahead of time... Then I told the APs that I would
do something by myself as well because almost no one had signed up,
but that was only a couple days before so not much time to polish up
something presentable, then the night before as I said I got a txt, to
accompany a couple other sisters. Also unrehearsed. Then as we went up
for that one... Sister Merenda said, and I quote "I decided I don't
really want to do that one, we're going to do silent night instead.
That's ok isn't it?" As we're walking to the front to begin. Yikes.
But everything went fine. The violin performance with sister Nichols
was great, not perfect but fun, my solo was interesting... frogs in
the throat make singing interesting. But it wasn't bad. Just
interesting, many people were very positive... which if you know me
you know is kind of awful... anyway, Silent Night was also fine,
luckily I've been working on my own arrangement of that for prelude
and what not so it was pretty. Then we did some other stuff, watched
It's a Wonderful Life, oh and I skipped the devotional at the
beginning, it was all about Mary and her role in the first Christmas,
it was pretty cool. Anyway then the rest of Thursday and Friday
basically became bouncing back and forth between members house picking
things up, trying to contact investigators, planning... all that fun

So my voice just kept getting worse, I've barely been able to talk the
last couple days although it is slowly getting better. Christmas Eve
was fun. We got a txt from the investigators getting baptized that
M. had slipped and fallen and hurt her face so the baptism needed to be
postponed. So we just stopped at the K.'s and spent some time with
them just chilling. Then the Ru.'s and played some dominion with
them. And the Ro.' were after that, we had some great gumbo,
played a bunch of games and got pajamas so that was fun.

Christmas was pretty similar. We went to three sacraments as normal
and listened to the same songs three times... and couldn't sing for
any of them. But there were people there and it was good. Haha sorry
I'm not very eloquent today. Seems like I already told all these
stories... man skyping is weird. Writing is just kinda hard. I'm ready
to move on to next week already... although this week will likely be a
lot of the same... haha like I said holidays suck. But it is what it
is I guess. And I'll add some pictures I guess... I dunno. I wore baby
blue pants to church... got lots of stuff from random people... just
need to be a missionary now. Sorry that's not too exciting, oh then we
had traditional danish Christmas food and watched It's a Wonderful Life
again with a less active part member family who are super cool... well
we'll see what happens. Ok I'm done. This letter is awful but I don't
wanna write any more so you're stuck with it ;P email me if you want
details about things. My email is You have to be specific though ;P

Elder DeFord

Elder DeFord's Christmas present to his family

Week 10: 12/19/2016 Almost a Christmas Mailer

Well let's see... maybe we'll make this weeks a little shorter yeah? In my defense cool things happen on missions and I don't do very good journaling soooo... here it is.

Frisbee fell through Monday which was super sad. But we're getting a bunch of guys (and some sisters) together to play the day after Christmas so that'll be super boss. Then Monday... was kind of awful. We didn't eat dinner so we had T. pick up some in and out from Orem... but we didn't get it till 7:20 or something, R., who we love dearly, forgot and flaked on our chapel tour, which was kind of the big thing for that day, she didn't let us know till we'd already set up everything. Then we went to the church to eat... and locked the car keys in the kitchen by accident... then we just kind of crashed at the B.'s house for the rest of our night before we headed home. It was not our best day. It's kinda been one of those weeks off and on.

Tuesday was better though, got to play the piano some and we had lunch with the Zone Leaders and a former senior couple then some really great lessons. The M.'s learned about the law of chastity and then we ate with a new investigator who is awesome and asks tons of great questions. Unfortunately our evening fell through again and we did our best but... ugh. Super cool though, A. who we baptized December 3rd, for Christmas is getting the three of us matching CTR rings. How cool is that? I'm super pumped, I love that guy so much. I can't wait until he can baptize his daughter.

Wednesday we got to see lots of people we like, got to have a great talk with T. again, it's so. Good. Just good. I don't know if he's progressing exactly... but it's awesome. Oh and I'm gonna teach K. some breakdancing while we're preparing him for baptism. Unfortunately we only have two baptisms on Christmas Eve after all, the other ones all got moved back because of scheduling issues. So that's sad.

We met all the new peeps in our district on Thursday. Sis. Mendoza seems pretty cool, and Elder Zamudio, our new zone leader is super sweet. Then we went to Great Steak with the Zone Leaders as usual and then headed back to the church for some music practice for my song in Sunday in 3rd ward. My Gift, My Offering. Then we had a great discussion with the C.'s, ward mission leader for that ward. And in the evening we had a 60 day sobriety party for someone we're working with, she's really incredible, but she's been dealt a lot of hard cards in her life, but she has a feel to her... I'm not sure what's gonna happen but I'm excited to see where it all goes.

Weekly planning Friday... woohoo. Ugh. Haha but we got to see B. which was great, even though that's when we found out his mom wanted to push his baptism back to January. Grr. But it's ok, haha we love them anyway. We're actually gonna go eat with them sometime... was it Christmas? I don't remember but they're from Louisiana and boy does she know how to do Cajun. She's also a Hinckley actually... so that's cool too. That night was the 4th ward Christmas party which was pretty fun. Good way to get fed too ;P we had 3 investigators and some recent converts there which was great. As well as their mom who is not a member... at all. Then even better that evening... we got to visit a family we really like, who are about to go through a pretty hard time. The husband is about to head to Mexico for a month to deal with some green card type issues, the wife is a member but almost completely ignorant about the church. They have 3 kids, and they just need help. We were able to give them both blessings of comfort and counsel, as well as bring the spirit into their home. When we got there the kids were fighting and being rowdy but as soon as we had the opening prayer, they were totally focused and silent. Just listening to the message we had to share and the power of the spirit that was with us. It was pretty incredible.

Saturday was super fun, we tried to visit people through the day but with very little success. That was frustrating but in the morning we went to a YM activity in 14th ward where we played some fun games, ate pizza, shared a thought then had some instruction and a knife throwing tournament. The priests had actually designed their own knives with some CAD type software then had them produced out of steel with a robotic plasma cutter, and taught the other boys how to throw them. We did two divisions, a bronze and a gold, and I won the gold division with my thorn style throws. I actually won a knife which was pretty cool. We also ran into this Native American lady who couldn't seem to decide if I was an incredible musician or a young novice. It was interesting. Apparently starting Christmas, the Native American Ward is moving into one of our buildings. They have quite the music program, we may have to attend their meetings occasionally. Then finally that evening we had the 2nd Ward Christmas party which they set up like Edison Ward did several years ago, everyone dressed up, the gym was set up like a Bethlehem market place, you had to get little coins to buy food.

Then that night at about 10, Bishop Jarvis called to ask if one of us could narrate their Christmas program... which means me. So he brought it by at 10:27. Which means no practice... oh well. Sunday was fun. Stake Correlation meeting in the morning, then talks in 6th Ward (that has some cool stuff but just be patient) then practice and a song in 3rd ward, then in 4th ward the narration and singing with the choir. Ok so talks... I had about 35 minutes for my talk... yeah. I went second and somebody was a slacker. Not that I'm bitter :P it was really good though, I hope it made a difference for somebody. We were talking on Spiritual self reliance. Anyway after the meeting, Sis K. (less active family we ran into several weeks ago, I probably talked about them, she's super awesome) came to me, after discussing it with the bishop, and said that as I was talking she could see a glow. She figured her eyes were playing tricks so she looked around at other things other people... no glow. Looked back at me, glow. So she talked to Bishop to see if she was crazy and said she knew that as missionaries we had special blessing and gifts... he told her that it was real and she should be grateful for the blessing the spirit gave her. She described it as my mantle. That kind of blew me away... just.. wow. I told her to write it down, write down how she felt, to describe it all and to ask God what she needed to learn. I actually had a story from a recent conference open that I could share, it's from Elder Richard G Scott who is the boss man of spiritual revelation. It's as follows. This is pretty long... so so much for a short email :P but if you really want to learn about spiritual matters and revelation, study Richard G Scott. This talk is To Acquire Spiritual Guidance from 2009, and he has an article entitled Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge in a 1993 ensign. The man is incredible. Anyway here is the story.

Now I share an experience that taught me a way to gain spiritual guidance. One Sunday I attended the priesthood meeting of a Spanish branch in Mexico City. I vividly recall how a humble Mexican priesthood leader struggled to communicate the truths of the gospel in his lesson material. I noted the intense desire he had to share those principles he strongly valued with his quorum members. He recognized that they were of great worth to the brethren present. In his manner, there was an evidence of a pure love of the Savior and love of those he taught.

      His sincerity, purity of intent, and love permitted a spiritual strength to envelop the room. I was deeply touched. Then I began to receive personal impressions as an extension of the principles taught by that humble instructor. They were personal and related to my assignments in the area. They came in answer to my prolonged, prayerful efforts to learn.

      As each impression came, I carefully wrote it down. In the process, I was given precious truths that I greatly needed in order to be a more effective servant of the Lord. The details of the communication are sacred and, like a patriarchal blessing, were for my individual benefit. I was given specific directions, instructions, and conditioned promises that have beneficially altered the course of my life.

      Subsequently, I visited the Sunday School class in our ward, where a very well-educated teacher presented his lesson. That experience was in striking contrast to the one enjoyed in the priesthood meeting. It seemed to me that the instructor had purposely chosen obscure references and unusual examples to illustrate the principles of the lesson. I had the distinct impression that this instructor was using the teaching opportunity to impress the class with his vast store of knowledge. At any rate, he certainly did not seem as intent on communicating principles as had the humble priesthood leader.

      In that environment, strong impressions began to flow to me again. I wrote them down. The message included specific counsel on how to become more effective as an instrument in the hands of the Lord. I received such an outpouring of impressions that were so personal that I felt it was not appropriate to record them in the midst of a Sunday School class. I sought a more private location, where I continued to write the feelings that flooded into my mind and heart as faithfully as possible. After each powerful impression was recorded, I pondered the feelings I had received to determine if I had accurately expressed them in writing. As a result, I made a few minor changes to what had been written. Then I studied their meaning and application in my own life.

      Subsequently I prayed, reviewing with the Lord what I thought I had been taught by the Spirit. When a feeling of peace came, I thanked Him for the guidance given. I was then impressed to ask, “Was there yet more to be given?” I received further impressions, and the process of writing down the impressions, pondering, and praying for confirmation was repeated. Again I was prompted to ask, “Is there more I should know?” And there was. When that last, most sacred experience was concluded, I had received some of the most precious, specific, personal direction one could hope to obtain in this life. Had I not responded to the first impressions and recorded them, I would not have received the last, most precious guidance.

I can so testify to the truthfulness of this pattern. And that's exactly what I did for sister K. I don't remember if I've told you, but starting just a few days into the MTC this pattern began to unfold for me. I talked about my experience with denying Satan, praying, and being given greater light and Knowledge right? That whole experience came about based on this principle I've described here. If I hadn't done what I did, and written it down, then asked God what was next, I would never have had the beautiful feelings, experiences, and growth that I did. Try it out. In that story there are a few steps you can follow. You will learn and grow more if you figure them out by yourself, but if you really can't, feel free to shoot me an email and I'll explain :)

Alright so that was cool... then we practiced for my song in the next ward which is always great. There were actually supposed to be 3 songs that day... and their Christmas program is this week. Anyway that was great, B. came and sat with us which was good for him, and then we messed with the Fischers kids all of sacrament meeting. Then we had a meeting with Bishop Parke to talk about a bunch of people which was great. Then back into sacrament for the 4th ward. Now remember... I haven't practiced with them at all, and my narration is totally unprepared... but here we go. Haha it went ok I guess. A bunch of people told me they cried, including C. who we're working with with the Tolmans. All of whom were there today, woot! But then the sketchy part. You may recall I told you that there were Janice Kapp Perry descendants in my ward right? Well guess who came to the Christmas program? Yep... Janice Kapp Perry. We were talking to people and I figured it was just another ward member who wanted to be nice and say hi... but as she shakes my hand she starts out with "I'm friends with your aunt." So I think oh that's cool, we should talk, then she says "we know each other pretty well. I'm Janice Kapp Perry" and she just walked away. 
Processing terminated.

Mind status: Blown
Reboot initiated

Yep that's pretty much what happened. She did compliment me on what I did and stuff too... but that's not really important, the crazy thing was (and please no judging) I thought she was dead! My whole life I just kind of assumed she was super ancient and therefore no longer around, when I met here children and grandchildren they were decently aged so I didn't even think about it... oops. So that totally just happened. I kind of freaked out about it the rest of the day.

Ok so just real quick, last couple things I promise. So we had an awesome lesson with A., then an awesome lesson with M. and V. 
M. has been really struggling, from the very beginning V. knew he wanted to be baptized, but she had a lot of struggles. But last night she had a dream. She told us about it yesterday, she called it getting her testimony. She knows that this is what God wants her to do, and if she doesn't do it, Satan will come into her life. That was so powerful. Dreams and prayers and visions are real. Don't you ever deny that. Then V. asked me to be the one to baptize him, said I had something special, that I was very holy, so that was cool too. alright I'm done I promise, love you all :D

Elder DeFord

Monday, December 12, 2016

Week 9: 12/12/2016 Transfer Week 1 ... or is it 2?

So Tuesday was pretty special. As most of you know since I couldn't stop talking about it, Monday was awesome because we went to Goblin Valley with the Berretts, but Tuesday was incredible in its own ways.

So the morning wasn't too exciting although either Monday night or Tuesday morning we checked the mail and I had three things actually, two packages from my mom and a small letter from Shiloh. Then that morning we got a txt from Tyler that said he'd finally gotten it scheduled he was going through the Temple for his endowments at noon, so we got ready made some plans for after, and headed off to the temple. Going to the temple is always awesome, but taking him through was pretty special. Haha he was so excited. When he came into the endowment room early before everyone else in the chapel he literally just sat in the seat with his head turning back and forth and back and
forth as he took it all in. It was great to watch.

We got some pictures outside then headed to the hospital for lunch. I might've thought that was weird but everyone at Southridge does it all the time so I'm pretty used to the concept :P however, that's when some of the really specialness happened. An older lady came up to us as we were eating and asked if we were there doing the rounds for blessings. We explained where we had been and she asked if, when we were done, we could come up to her husbands room and give him a blessing. Of course we said yes, and we brought Tyler with us to give him an opportunity to exercise his newly acquired priesthood authority, which he received less than 2 weeks before hand.

There we met Brother Palmer, in the intensive cardiac unit in recovery. We don't know all the details, but he put on a brave face for us, and seemed in a good humor. His wife explained how difficult it had been lately and today especially, she expressed her gratitude and appreciation of the miracle that we were there, we just randomly decided to eat there after the temple.

When we entered the room and met him, after his pleasant surprise and some chatting he expressed to us his incredible gratitude, that he had been praying all day for help and relief. We talked to him for some time, then Elder Connelly offered a prayer to bring the spirit, I anointed, and we gave Tyler the opportunity to pronounce his first sealing and blessing for the sick and afflicted. He was nervous but he listened to the spirit and was ready and worthy. He did have to do it twice, but I know that both of those blessings were from the heart and from our Heavenly Father.

When we finished Brother Palmer asked why we were there, assuming, as his wife did, that we were there to give blessings. When we explained that we had simply stopped for food after the temple, the spirit testified so powerfully that we had been sent and that our Heavenly Father had listened to his prayers that there was no longer a dry eye in the room. His daughter and wife were both in tears, and his wife especially clearly displayed her gratitude for this beautiful tender mercy of the Lord. We also made Tyler give them both hugs since as Elders we couldn't. After leaving the room, his daughter took our picture and shared it with our mothers I believe. What a blessing to be guided by the Lord in such a way to uplift his sheep and guide them to safety and peace and comfort in affliction. 

Friday was ZTM which was awesome as usual. Goal setting was great, as a zone our baptism (gate) goal was 17. If we add up all the goals from each district we actually expect up to 23 this month in our zone alone! White Christmas anyone? So yeah we're pretty excited, then we had an awesome training from the Sister Training Leaders about the Book of Mormon and the gospel being preached to the Lamanites. That was super cool. All I could think of was when Louie's dad bore his testimony in Sacrament meeting just after Louie came home. He talked about the power of the Book of Mormon in the life of a Lamanite. Super cool. "And if someone wants to get offended about it they can fight me."

 We also talked a ton about spiritual knowledge and growth. If you ever wanna receive better understanding, knowledge, light, or revelation, read Richard G Scott's talks. Get this, the Zone leaders told us to read a talk by him, 'To Acquire Spiritual Guidance' for Zone training meeting. Then that morning I'm reading in the beginning of PMG (Preach My Gospel) and it has a quote from him that says 'Knowledge carefully recorded is knowledge available in time of need." From an Ensign article in 1993 entitled 'Acquiring Spiritual Knowledge' and the chapter focus for this month is chapter 2, how can I study more effectively?. Revelation much? Anyway Richard G Scott, spiritual knowledge guru.

After the training and lunch and everything we just had more people to visit. We did have a great lesson with Braxton who is preparing for baptism on Christmas Eve, did his paperwork today, he should be all good to go. Then we had way too much food at a Christmas party and got a lesson with a new investigator plus dinner on Tuesday. Woot! We also again made great contact with a bunch of people we haven't been able to so yay there too.

Soooo... I know I am about to get soooo much crap for this... sorry Sis. Tolman. In my defense we've been working with some other Tolmans for over a month now and we see them at least twice a week so when Sis. Rubow said Tolman... And I DID figure it out before she told me she had texted you... it just took me a while. (of course if SOMEONE was writing/emailing me, I might have made the connection sooner).

So for those of you who have no idea what's going on... several weeks ago we ate with the Rubow family. They're super awesome, but we only ate with their youngest son, their daughter, and Bro. Rubow because everyone else was gone and Sis. Rubow was out milking the goats. We had a great meal and a wonderful time then right as we were leaving Sis. Rubow returned from the goat milking... I thought she looked kind of familiar... but at the same time ever since I entered the MTC I've been thinking people looked like people I know so I didn't think about it. Then we'd taken her son Matt out several times with us to teach, and at their ward Christmas party Friday night we sat with them and she asked where I was from and told me she had a sister in Kennewick and did I know the Tolmans? All I could think of was the family we were teaching (again in my defense, we've been teaching them a ton, and mostly I'm on a first name basis with you so.... :) ) so I said no, but I looked and saw they were in Palouse Ward which I have a bunch of family in so I said I'd ask them if they knew them. She also asked if we'd already talked about it and I vaguely remembered talking about her sister so I said maybe but she didn't think so.... then when I was writing my draft that night, I checked LDS tools again... and some of those names looked awfully familiar... then I checked the picture. Yep. Smooth Elder.

Then when we returned to the Rubows the next day to save Matt from his English assignment... Sis. Rubow reminded me that yes I had had that conversation... in the foyer of the stake center... in the Union Building... with her sister who yes said, I have a crazy older sister in Provo, she's shorter than me and has gray hair... oops. And I did tell her that I probably wasn't gonna remember because do you have any idea how many people told me to go find their relatives? But she did say she had a feeling I would run into her in my first area... and here we are. What are the odds?! And we're having Christmas with them too if we don't get transferred anyway. But yes, I am dutifully ashamed... and that's my embarrassing story for the week. Now hopefully Sara and Cleo and Cera (or little Cera as your aunt calls you) won't crucify me... and I can serve the rest of my mission in one piece ;P

So yeah... Saturday was super laid back cuz we had six hours of stake conference... I did get some really cool revelation and prompting but I'm not gonna tell you about them until I know if I can even maybe get to do them :P and it was fantastic. And we knew all the people who spoke in the adult session which was cool. Then Sunday was just morning session, and like 6 lessons. And baptismal paperwork. A lot of it.

Elder DeFord

p.s. I am NOT being transferred

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

Goblin Valley

Elder Connelly and Elder DeFord at Goblin Valley

Elder Connelly and Elder DeFord at Goblin Valley

Elder DeFord, Tyler, and Elder Connelly at the hospital
Elder DeFord, Tyler, and Elder Connelly at the Temple

Monday, December 5, 2016

Week 8: 12/5/2016 Oh My Scaredy Pants Mailer

{the first part of Michael's mailer today came from a response to a question I asked him. After he typed the response he decided to include it in his letter to everyone because it was so powerful and came straight from his heart!}
Well today in the #LightTheWorld Initiative is Jesus Healed the Sick and So Can You. It suggests giving blood or something. Is that something you can do? If not go look at the other options on on every day there is always something that anyone can do. Do you know why? Because anyone and everyone can follow the Savior. Doesn't matter who you are, sinner or saint, disabled or world class athlete or genius, poor or rich, anyone can follow Him. And follow His example. Nephi says in 1 Nephi 3:7 that 

"...that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save he shall prepare a way for them that they may accomplish the thing which he commandeth them." 

Well the Lord Said unto the Nephites and to us (for the Book of Mormon is for our day) 

"48 Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect."

Think about that. I just know that the more you focus on serving as he served the closer you will grow and the more powerful and sweet you testimony of Christ will be. That's why missions are so powerful. You spend all day every day following his example. One of my favorite scriptures is Abraham 3:16 which says

16 If two things exist, and there be one above the other, there shall be greater things above them; therefore Kolob is the greatest of all the Kokaubeam that thou hast seen, because it is nearest unto me.

I read that years and years ago, and when I did I was struck by the power of the spirit in such a way that by reading and teaching about it I am always struck again to this day. Abraham was shown the entirety of creation, or at least as much as it's possible for mortal man to be shown, the vastness of eternity and the universe, all of Gods creation, and among all the incredible sights he saw, the nebulae in their abstract beauty, the stars, worlds without end and peoples and creatures too, and the greatest of all of that was Kolob. Why? For no other reason, than the simple fact that it is closest to our Heavenly Father. Not because of size or shape or power or beauty, just because it is nearest unto Him. That's what following the Savior does for us. Following his example makes us perfect. Draws us too him. Makes us great. So that one day we will be like him. As it says in Moroni 7:48

48 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is; that we may have this hope; that we may be purified even as he is pure. Amen.
Pray that ye may receive that which is given to TRUE FOLLOWERS of the Son. Those who follow His example. And do it to become the Sons or Daughters of God. When Jesus Christ comes again, we will realize that we have become as He is. By following. By coming nearer. Becoming greater. THEN we shall see Him as He is. If we are like Him, we can be cleansed like him. As a missionary I follow in His footsteps in almost every aspect of my life. THAT'S why missions are so powerful, why missionaries are so powerful, not because they have the spirit more abundantly, or because they are blessed, or people love them, or they have good experiences, although all of those things are true and good. But rather we have the Power of Christ because we are like him. We follow Him. And as each of you follow Him, that power and greatness because a part of you as well. I can give you that promise as a representative of Jesus Christ, a messenger who has been given the keys of the ministering of angels, in His holy sacred name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Ok now the email I had planned to send :P

How do you fill a pair missionaries with an intense mixture of fear, anxiety, spiritual enlightenment, immense joy, and excitement when you're a mission president? When they txt you to let you know they have a baptism the next day (cuz that's what you're supposed to do) you say the following.

"Great, I'm meeting with Elder Cook, I'll see if he wants to skip out and come to you baptism with me :) Enjoy!"

Yeah so that happened. Talk about momentary panic. Like we were 90% sure he was kidding, but President would totally do it sooo... yeah. Unfortunately (or maybe luckily) Elder Cook did not attend the baptism but the baptism was great nonetheless. Alright so with that let's go back to the beginning of the week....

Oh actually first, just FYI but last Sunday I met Batman and this week I not only met with but also ate dinner with Santa so yeah. Cool week.

So last Pday we played Bang and Liars dice with T. like all day after the other district we were gonna play with wimped out on ultimate frisbee in the snow. I found a sweet sweater at DI though and got some other stuff too. Oh and a recent convert we are taking to the temple next Friday called us cuz she got a flat tire that need replacing. I have never changed such a frustrating tire in my life. Just getting the spare down from under was a pain. And it was supposed to be easy! But we did get it eventually, and we did get our little corollas jack to work, thanks to extensive engineering and practical/applied physics experience... super sketchy. And it was frigid in the snow and slush and I didn't get my gloves from the Cutlers until Thursday. Seriously... worst tire ever. But we eventually managed it and we got dinner and cheesecake out of it so I'm not really complaining.

Tuesday we just had a bunch of service planned... which fell through cuz it's hard to shovel snow when it all melts the next day by the time we're out of studies. But we stopped by the Jarvis's and cleared gutters for like four blocks and managed to make contact with some less active members and others in the process. Then I went and learned how to do sheet rock. So that was sweet. More service followed by a great lesson. Then food and more lesson. Then we got to take a recent convert to the temple, and here's a miracle for you. So we got there and discovered that because City Center is closed for cleaning and this is the busiest time of the day and week, that there is more than a two hour wait to do baptisms. We were crestfallen and disappointed. As we discussed out options with the Bishop and Young Women's president who were there to help D. (our recent convert), the gentleman at the recommend desk stood and said he had someone to talk to. He came back a few minutes later with the Brother overseeing the baptistery that night. After assessing the situation he told us to all go change and that we were making this thing happen. So essentially we cut ahead of several hours worth of youth to be able to make D.'s first temple experience as incredible and worthwhile as possible. That was super cool.

Wednesday wasn't too exciting, just talking to some old people in a nursing home, lots of finding then lots of meetings. It was also the last day of the month however, and I don't remember if I told you all this but we had a meeting in Heber that ate up almost 90 miles we were told wouldn't count... well the Assistants to the President changed their minds after we got home so we were pretty short on miles. We parked at the zone leaders apartment with exactly 599 miles out of our 600 for the month. Luckily Thursday was December and also my first exchanges so we survived. 

So yeah first exchanges. I loved it. I learned sooo much, my companion is a district leader but other than the ZLs we only have sisters in our district so no exchanges for obvious reasons. But that also means we do exchanges with the ZLs for which I am so grateful because Elder Gallegos and Elder Schwantes are just incredible missionaries. So we spent that night with them Wednesday night then all of Thursday was myself and Elder Schwantes together and Elders Connelly and Gallegos together. To be fair we had district training that morning anyway so we were altogether anyway most of the day, we went to great steak for lunch and ate way too much. When we finally got to proselytizing I was just blown away by Elder Schwantes tenacity. It was incredible to watch. With Elder Schwantes I was able to see a great missionary in action and learn and grow from it. The whole day was just wonderful. Plus we ate dinner with Santa that night (soup bowls for the win!) I have some pictures but they're on Elder Schwantes IPad. I'll try to get them for you. No promises.

Friday was a little like Wednesday, not too exciting, just normal missionary day. It would've been pretty awesome except half our appointments canceled on us :( we did teach B. again and we met with A. late in the evening to get the final things figured out for his Baptism the next day. But nothing to insane or incredible. We did attend 3rd wards Christmas party and had some great food, plus Sis. Cox took some pictures which she posted on the Missionary Mommas fb page (her son enters the MTC this week before leaving for Cambodia) and Sis. Dean (whose son comes home in less than a month and is currently serving in my companions home stake) took pictures and texted both of our moms, but anyway on to the exiting stuff. Saturday! If you want those pics you'll have to bug my mom for them, I don't have them.

Ok so things started with a donut, a reprimand, a little boys baptism, and our own baptism with A. Yes, I got pictures for that one :P oh and that was all after getting that txt from president... again we were pretty sure he wouldn't bring Elder Cook but you just never know.  Anyway about the baptism, unfortunately since we suck at scheduling and the times kept changing we didn't have many people there but A.'s daughter S. gave the talk on baptism, we had her read a poem about it from an old Friend magazine, she did great. I sang 'I Have Not Seen, Yet I Believe' which was kind of tender for me, it was one of the first songs I ever really performed on my own for a solo. It wasn't quite the first, that was 'He Sent His Son', arranged by Sally, but it was the first one I really made my own and I think the first one I chose. Anyway the rest of the baptism was great, Elder Connelly did the actual baptizing, for which I'm rather grateful since the water was apparently freezing. After the baptism we headed to Salem for lunch with a bunch of people from my companions last area, it was good food but there just wasn't enough :P  then to Payson for a mission wide meeting with Elder Quentin L Cook, as well as the 1st counselor in the presiding Bishopric, and the President of the 1st quorum of the 70 if I'm not mistaken. So yeah that was pretty awesome. We received some fantastic, very specific advice and some powerful Apostolic blessings. I wish I had taken better notes.

 Haha and I also played the piano for about 30 seconds ;P so Elder Lee was playing prelude when they started to go around and shake everyone's hands, and when it was nearing our row, President kind of signed at me to go take Elder Lee's place at the piano when I'd shake all the hands... I was a little confused but I did as he asked. As I approached the piano, Elder Lee was playing Abide With Me Tis Eventide, and he paused mid phrase, slid off the bench, and I slid on and continued where he left off. He went to go shake hands then when I finished the hymn I started 86 How Great Thou Art (Jason would be so proud)  then about halfway through he came back and I stopped and he started right where I was. Haha I thought it was pretty slick. If I do say so myself. And one of the senior Elders thought so too so there. 

From there it was straight back for more dinner, then just a couple visits and meetings before bed and Sunday rolled around. B. was at church along with all his siblings, we had a ton is other wards. Taught two lessons to the young men in different wards, sang The First Noel three different times (and it was the special musical number at the big mission meeting), went to 8 hours of church, had two dinners and tried to teach Plan of Salvation plus a ton of deep doctrine before bed. Also got fed extra desert, lost our bike rack again, and got a call from the ZLs asking for a sleep over. So yeah. I'm pooped. And I told President so too. I literally started my letter to him yesterday 'Hey President, I'm pooped.' But Goblin Valley today so I think I'll get over it. It may be a little chilly though, my warm clothes came just a day too late ;P it shouldn't be too bad though. Haha and sorry this kind of turned into a play by play. We just did a lotta stuff this week :P See ya in a few

Elder DeFord
A's baptism
Lakeside Third Ward Christmas Party

Also Third Ward's Christmas Party


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Week 7: 11/28/2016

Alright well... holiday weeks are weird for missionaries. This was probably our least productive week since I've been out. We had a follow up trainer/trainees meeting Tuesday morning. That was several hours. Then we had District training meeting in the afternoon cuz we had President interviews which were awesome. So that was pretty much all day. Then Wednesday was kind of normal... ish. But everyone was getting ready for turkey day so we just kind of went around contacting referrals all
day... we did find someone cool but I'll talk about that when I get to the Christmas Initiative. Then Thursday... that was great. I should get some pictures from some other Elders sometime today and
I'll add those. But yeah we slept in... oops. Then I played Ultimate for 2 hours. One of the Elders, Elder O'reilly, actually played in school and on his state team. It was fantastic. I got a little torn up
but it was sooo worth it. Then we just had dinner with a family and then played games at some different homes. Somehow... Bishop Jarvis and his whole family had no idea what Phase 10 was... so needless to say, they are now hooked. Last Monday I downloaded like 40 Sally songs on my iPad so now I can play whenever which is great.

Friday then was just sharing the Christmas Initiative with basically everybody we come in contact with. So if you don't know what it is, listen up. Go on and click on the picture of baby Jesus and Mary. Watch the video. Then do the stuff. Basically, it's an advent calendar that describes the life of Jesus Christ, each day focuses on a different aspect of his ministry and service and gives ways to emulate him. So go forth and do! Also this is my next level commitment that I've extended to everyone we've talked to. As you serve everyday, whoever you go serve, invite them to join with you,
show them the video and invite them to follow the example of the Savior. I know that as people reach out to others and invite them, the spirit will spread, love will spread, and we will all rise together.
As the Quakers say 'I'll lift thee, thee lift me, and we'll ascend eternally'

Do it


Go on.

You can read the rest of my crap later, just go do it already.

I'm waiting.

Alright so cool story about the Initiative...

Ok so this is an excerpt from my letter to president this week and I'm not editing it so it may not make total sense but.... deal with it.

"One in particular... I think it was Wednesday, we were just biking around contacting referrals when we pass a woman unloading groceries. We helped her then talked to her for 30 minutes to an hour, she's a less active member who moved not too long ago and has decided she really wants to start getting back into the church. Super high energy and super aware of the Lords influence in her life and His constant care for her and guiding her. We promised her we'd come back Friday and share the initiative because she kept talking about how she was looking for a way to focus on Christ and talking about how much she wanted to serve... wow. Golden. So we stopped by Friday evening and
just had an incredible lesson with her and her family, and it was exactly what she was looking for. Then the next day we had a similar experience with some one else."

Saturday was super slow. Just visiting people we missed Friday, did some service, Skype into a baptism. Nothing too crazy. I ate more thanksgiving leftovers that day than I did actual thanksgiving the day before if you can believe it. Sunday was cool though. Mostly just two things. So I sang in 4th ward, and somehow got roped into singing in 3rd ward. Oh right and we helped ordain our soon to be missionary friend to the Melchizedek priesthood then his farewell was Sunday. Also I got this sweet pair of pants from his dad who is kind of like Rob and is gonna take us to Goblin Valley in a couple weeks. You'll see the pants just be patient. Anyway so after all that stuff Sunday we had an awesome lesson with V and M, they're Armenian and Georgian respectively.

Anyway...So... do I speak really fast or is it a Washington/west coast thing? I never really noticed in the MTC until Elder Montoya who is a drama kid and specializes in accents and impersonations, went through and described the different ways we all talk and he described mine as a little faster and something else. I didn't really believe it but then he did it and he sounded.... normal. It was weird, but after hearing him impersonate me I realized how much slower most other people talk.... then with V and M, mostly M who is hard of hearing and doesn't speak English as well... oops. I had to get reminded to slow down a couple times.... haha it was a really fantastic lesson though.

I love being a missionary.

K. Picture time. Here we go.

With Bubba because hes awesome

Drama Llama

More Drama Llama

Elder Connelly and Elder DeFord

Herd of sheep (obviously)

Turkey Bowl with Elder O'reilly who played Ultimate Frisbee in high school and college

Turkey Bowl with Elder Duncan who has never played Ultimate Frisbee but kicked trash

New pants and suspenders. Woot!

I'm cool!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Week 6: 11/21/2016

Alright another week down... just a 101 to go or something like that :P 

It's been good week. Seems like they all are, never perfect, there are always harder days and times when life is more difficult, but the weeks are always good. The Lord really does watch out for and protect his servants. That means all of us, not just me, not just the full time missionaries or the general authorities or bishops. No, everyone receives these blessings if they choose to become His servants. There is a scripture that I was guided to while in the MTC, I think about it pretty frequently, especially when life gets hard for those I teach. I actually found this scripture because I misread a reference I had in my scriptures, but the scripture I found was perfect. So I had a sticky note from Sunday school that said 2 Peter 3:10-13. I instead went to that same reference in 1 John this is what it says, starting in verse 9 actually

9 Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.

10 In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

11 For this is the message that ye heard from the beginning, that we should love one another.

12 Not as Cain, who was of that wicked one, and slew his brother. And wherefore slew he him? Because his own works were evil, and his brother’s righteous.

13 Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.

That last line really got me. And it was perfect for the TRC I was working with at the time. But it basically says, evil things attack good things, so when you get closer to God, why are you surprised that evil people and evil things attack you and life gets hard? Then I think of Nephi's Lament in 2 Nephi 4, he says in 17-19

17 Nevertheless, notwithstanding the great goodness of the Lord, in showing me his great and marvelous works, my heart exclaimeth: O wretched man that I am! Yea, my heart sorroweth because of my flesh; my soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.

18 I am encompassed about, because of the temptations and the sins which do so easily beset me.

19 And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.

As sad and hard as it is, sometimes we know that we're doing things right because life gets harder, because Satan is trying to stop us from doing good things, to keep us from our blessings and the reward of eternal life. But choosing to trust, to act for Him and be His servant then "Be[ing] still and know[ing] that [He is] God" I know in whom I have trusted, and He keeps me safe, He guides me, and He will bring me safely home again in a few years. Alright... that was a lot more than I expected but... deal with it :P

So like I said it's been a good week, I made several cakes * (5 now actually) for different families and investigators and people. Every time I learn the recipe a little better and it turns out a little better, they're pretty good if I do say so myself. We've been teaching and eating and doing all the things. 

We did have an experience either early this week or late last week that was kind of cool. So we were getting gas and this guy stops us, he's dressed in kind of farmers work clothes and stuff, pretty good drawl, but he just asks if he can share a poem with us. We weren't sure what to say to that really. So we said yes, and he shared a really cool poem with us all about the gospel and he shared several more with us as we went. We gave him our number and email and asked him to send them to us, unfortunately we haven't gotten them yet but when we do there's another cool story I have for you. But yeah that happened.

So unfortunately not baptisms this month because A., my baptism for this Saturday pushed it back a week to December so his sister could be there, but that also means that we're going to have an insane number of baptisms in December... hopefully ;P it should be really cool. We're planning several for Christmas Eve which will be awesome.

It did finally snow here... but just a tiny bit and it melts away before it hits the ground all the time. It's gotten a little chillier but not too bad, it's still way too warm for Utah... it's been pretty weird. Oooh and I get to go to the temple 3 or 4 times in the next couple weeks! Woot. A few for baptisms for the dead with recent converts, and then also December is the month for the mission temple days so that's super exciting. Anywho, any questions or what not just ask away. Still doing great and learning and growing all the time.

Oh yeah and I sang in church on Sunday, and I'm singing next week, and the week after in a baptism sooo yeah.

And we may have killed a friend of ours. Ooops.

And hopefully a fun adventure in the next couple weeks.

Love you all,

Elder DeFord
Elder Gallegos, Elder Schwantes, Elder Polar Bear (aka Elder Connelly), Elder DeFord
 * Caramel Apple Cake
1 pkg of moist yellow cake mix.
1 pkg of jell-o vanilla flavor pudding.
1 cup of water
4 eggs.
1/3 cup oil.
1/4 cup of milk
3 Granny Smith apples peeled , and coarsely chopped
20 caramels.
And 3 tbsp of milk.
Oven at 350. Beat first six ingredients in bowl until blended, stir in apples pour into a greased floured fluted tube pan.  bake for 50 min. Cool for 15 min then transfer onto cooling rack or serving plate Finally take Carmela and milk, melt until liquid then Pour directly over cake before hardens ... Then enjoy super yumminess

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Week 5: 11/14/2016

Ok so this week has been interesting already. I'm starting this on Wednesday (11/9) because my companion/trainer/district leader is doing a training that takes like 3 hours. So after I left you all Monday, we had several great recent convert lessons. We're working with a brother and sister who are... interesting. They actually got baptized in March, but never received the recent convert lessons. The area got whitewashed (both Elders get moved out and two brand new ones go in) soon after they were baptized. That just makes it even more important that I do everything I can, that I love them, and take care of all the people I can. I promise I'm doing great, it's really awesome.  My district is good. 

Anyway same deal, yesterday (Tuesday, 11/10) we had some really good lessons, but the morning was kind of weird. We were super excited to see the R family, the people I was talking about last week. We were all set to teach his daughter so she could sing in the primary program but they flaked on us. They went out to dinner when our lesson was supposed to be so we came back later... and we thought he was gonna drop us. We all sat down around the table and he just started talking. Thankfully, as he continued to talk, he really opened up and shared some of his concerns and we found out that on top of everything else, there were some major issues that he was confused about, things like baptisms for the dead and becoming like Heavenly Father. But we talked about everything, and it ended up being an incredibly spiritual and sweet experience. We made a lot of progress and our relationship is so much stronger. I'm grateful, so grateful for that opportunity. 

Ok yeah... the rest of the week has been pretty good. I honestly don't remember a ton, we had a ton of lessons, did some service, met lots of people. The change in people hearts is really incredible to watch. And the food is great all the time. Bro. R’s daughter got to be in the primary program, which was awesome in so many ways. The mom is less active but we got the family to come and be part of it. I also sing next week in 14th ward and I'm getting scheduled in 4th ward sometime soon. We finally got in with some people this week who we'd been having trouble contacting. There's one family that's less active but the mom basically just came and said, “Hey we want our boy to be baptized and get back into church.” We're helping them with that. We also got back in with the UFC fighter, but he's gonna be gone for a week doing his trial for his second degree black belt or something. The man is incredible. He asked us all about how the church started and Joseph Smith and stuff at the end of our last meeting, we just have to start with the restoration next time. It’s really interesting because he has dealt with a lot of substance abuse type issues, so he's an AA mentor and goes around the country doing talks and keynotes and stuff about how it affects people, how to be free. He talks at schools, jails, all sorts of places. He's so cool, I just worry that his analytical world side is going to keep his testimony is check.

Anyway life is good. I got a free Frisbee, and we're going to play with some scouts in a couple weeks. Woot :D also my weight has remained a total constant. Not getting fat over here :P ok I think that's good enough... it was just weird cuz I started Wednesday...

So.... I get to see D (someone he taught while he was in the MTC) on Saturday. Like in person. Which is way exciting! There ended up being 6 missionaries at that meeting, plus one of his 'adopted' granddaughters who's an RM: me and my companion, the APs, plus a senior missionary couple. So I didn't get to say much, but I am sending him the Garden to listen to and I got to see him again which was great. We also accidentally left the mission... ooops. We get to see a general authority on Wednesday and an apostle in the beginning of December I think. 

“Mormons? I thought they were just a choir.” Quote of the Day from a lady we had dinner with who was telling her conversion story.

Alright see ya, ask away, love you all

Elder DeFord

p.s. Ok sorry I totally forgot, I probably have to explain about my companion this week. So he is Elder Polar Bear, I think that's just what we're going to keep calling him. If you really want to know his name and stuff, he's the back-to-back national wrestling champion, heavyweight Greco style. There ya go. And he's a giant Polar Bear. So he's the one really working out with our UFC fighter. Haha I try to keep up but it's tough for sure. He's from Oklahoma and is several months younger than me. He's been a member since he was 11 and he also went to Catholic school his whole life so he knows a ton about their religion which has been super nice. There ya go. That's Elder Polar Bear in a nutshell.

Elder DeFord