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

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

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Bonus: New Testament Reading Challenge--Starts TODAY!!!

Hey so sorry I can't say much but basically this is a reading challenge
we're doing as a mission and I'm allowed to write home to invite
everyone to do it! So if you could get the word out to as many people
as possible that would be great. Basically it's studying the Harmony
of the Gospels, so everyday you look at the topic for the day, and
study the scriptures that relate to it in each of the four Gospels.
We're also supposed to highlight or underline all of the spoken words
of Christ. This is a really cool thing I hope everyone does, remember
today is day one. Reading about John the Baptist, Mary and Elizabeth,
the Annunciation, and the Genealogies.

Love you all

Elder DeFord

Click on the picture below if you want to open a pdf version.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Week 4: 11/7/2016

Sorry about no email last week. We ended up
being pretty busy all of Tuesday and not having any time.
Thankfully President is on top of things and took care of all you
worriers :P It sounds like he was like a multimillionaire, uber successful
businessman before he became a mission president. That's just what
I've heard though I don't have any solid evidence. Sis. Hodgman is a
great cook though. We had homemade tortellini our first night in the
mission home... wow, it was good! There wasn't nearly enough though :P
I ran into Elder Minson, he came out with me, and the day I entered
the field was Elder Barfuss' last day. Kind of a bummer though cuz he
was super chill. Also it turns out if I want to teach D. I have
to become AP... oh right I never did tell you about D., did I?

Ok so D. is seriously like my favorite person in the
world. If I could adopt him as an extra grandpa I totally would. He's
about 74 and is the best whistler I have ever met. He works as a TRC
at the MTC. TRCs are people who get taught the lessons by missionaries
in training, some are members, some aren't. You get a schedule at the
beginning of each week with who you'll be teaching, where, and for how
long. So D. is of Italian descent, raised as a strong Catholic.
He used to go to mass twice a day. Every day. And I just love him.
More than I can possibly describe. He's really searching and he's
highly analytic. He makes observations not judgments. He lives up in
Provo canyon just down the road from one of President Monson's homes.
He sees him occasionally and always waves, then President Monson
waves back. He's even met President Monson in person a couple of times.
Unfortunately that area is part of the AP's area and the only way to
get that area (which includes BYU and stuff) is to be one of the AP's.
So it may take a while... but gosh dang it I'm gonna teach D.
again if it's the last thing I do. I'm sorry this doesn't really do
him justice... you're just gonna have to wait a couple years until you
can meet him ;P

So yeah. I've talked to Elders Bental and Wiltsie (the current APs)
about him a couple times. It sounds like they're still teaching him.
But I know he's waiting for me ;P. I'm in the Provo West
area, I'm over only 1 stake with just 7 wards. Its actually one of the
smallest areas in the mission. So it's kind of nice to actually be
able to get to know some people. Oh that reminds me, don't let me
forget to tell the Buttars and the Moses' family who I met down here.
Anyway my trainer.... is literally a Polar Bear.

Some people we've met and we're teaching... I put someone on date for
baptism Thursday, my second day in the field in case you didn't catch
that, he's great, but his daughter is even better. She's nine and just
totally full of energy and a desire for the gospel. She was so sad
when she came to church this week and found out the primary program
was next week so she probably couldn't sing in it. She has a great
little voice. I think I'm gonna see if I can't get copies of the music
so she can participate though.

We're also starting to work with C.  He's a champion UFC fighter,
who we have a lesson with then workout with. I seriously couldn't
stand up afterwards. Haha its going to be quite the learning
experience for sure. Also I would just like everybody to know that
in spite of all odds, I actually lost weight in the MTC (despite eating
at least two plates a meal, sometimes three, plus extra stuff) and
have managed to stay stable thus far for the first week of my mission.
Only problem is.... the holidays are coming ;P plus we have two dinner
tomorrow... I'm gonna have to start working hard in the mornings to
keep up with all the food.

The members here are great. My first day in the area we met with
Bishop H. and his family for dinner. That was the best corn chowder
I've ever had. They were awesome and even better.... they had a baby
grand and even better... guess what was on it? That's right the
Garden. Woot! I've actually found several people who know what the
Garden is. Yay Utah. I'm also singing in Bishop H's ward in a couple
weeks because we were talking about music stuff and so our spiritual
thought was a song and it just kinda went from there. I need to choose
a song today actually. We've actually seen a lot of miracles in the
past several days, it's been super cool.

Which again reminds me, we ran into the Dennis's by accident because
we were looking for service opportunities on Saturday and helped them
with their leaves and had some really good talks with brother Dennis.
Then our dinner cancelled on us that night and they had us over for
dinner instead. Turns out Brother Dennis is good friends with Mont
Buttars so if we could get this to him or tell him that'd be great.
Even better though, back when he was Bishop Dennis, he introduced and
later married Eric and Sherry Moses :D So from Brother/Bishop Dennis
to the Buttars and the Moses' families he sends love and regards and
says he misses you all :D

Alright I think that's pretty good... any questions just ask. Or ask
my family or something :P I'll try to answer. It looks like for us
with iPads, our emailing is pretty relaxed on pdays so who knows, I
may be able to respond :P oh yeah and I have an actual address now, if
you want it talk to my mom ;P

Love and stay strong

Elder DeFord

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Week 3: 11/1/16

New missionaries to the Utah Provo Mission 11/1/2016
No email this week. Today Michael left the MTC and entered the Utah Provo Mission home where he will be assigned his first companion and area. We should get a letter later this week giving us more details. Meanwhile we received the picture above with the following letter:

We received your wonderful missionary today, Tuesday, November 1, 2016.  We are eager to serve together in the Utah Provo Mission as we endeavor to invite all we come in contact with to “Come unto Christ.”  Thank you for preparing such a faithful missionary to enter the mission field.

You will receive a letter in the US mail letting you know of their assignment and trainer in the next couple of days.  You will also hear from your missionary by email every Monday - their preparation day.  They will look forward to an email from you every Monday as well.  Letters and Packages may be sent at any time the mission office address below. 

Attached is a picture we took with them at the Mission Home.  What a wonderful group of missionaries … thank you for sharing them with us and The Lord!
Sincerely yours,

John C. Hodgman and Vicki Hodgman
Mission President
Utah Provo Mission
85 North 600 East
Provo, UT  84606