Monday, September 26, 2016

How about these mad two weeks?

I apologize for the lack of an update. I hope this makes up for it.

Here is Elder Wood proudly declaring "His Street" claimed.  

Introducing Preston Wagner!

Once upon a fateful day, Elder LaMont is called to be a trainer to a missionary named Elder Wood. Elder LaMont is 'voluntold' (like volunteered, but in reality told to do something while declaring we still have agency) to take Elder Wood tracting for his very first day to 'break him in'. While knocking doors, we meet a woman named Amanda Wagner. Upon knocking the door, Amanda answers the door and says, "Not today. You can come over again, just not today," and closes the door. Elder Wood is undaunted. He says to Elder LaMont, "She said we can come back! Success!" In the following days Amanda's fourteen year-old son, Preston, shows real interest in the gospel. Upon contacting the first day, Elders Wood and LaMont assign Preston to read the eleventh chapter in the third book of Nephi. To their enormous surprise, when asking if the chapter was a priority in Preston's life the very next day, Preston says, "Yeah! In fact, I was reading a lot about baptism... How do I get baptized?" Shock and awe are upon the young missionaries' faces. Quickly, the Elders explain how it is done, and when the next baptismal service will be taking place. In the coming week, the baptism has been scheduled for October the first right after General Conference. Preston will be confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints in the sacrament meeting of October ninth.

What a beautiful work this is! Preston has a little brother just two years younger than him named Asher. Asher Wagner will be baptized when he can start attending church with their five-year old brother Julius rather than babysitting him at home. Amanda Wagner too, has warmed to the idea of being baptized.

The ward has been wonderful in helping Preston acclimate to a ward family. Preston has attended sacrament, mutual, church tours, Sunday-school, priesthood meetings, etc. The ward council has even planned for Preston to attend the ward temple trip in late October.

One family in particular, the Winterhalter's, have been especially helpful to Preston. Providing rides to all activities and meetings and such. One evening, the family invited Preston and Asher to dinner.

This is the beautiful cake served at our 'Fellowship and Feed' with Preston and Asher. It was delicious! 

The gospel of Jesus Christ is very real. It is changing lives every moment in the beautiful land of Kansas. Including my own!

I grew up in Kansas! 

We pranked the Sisters bad this week. That is, if the prank were not so glorious, I would feel very bad. The sisters are in a trio because a missionary left for home early, but more on that later. One Wednesday evening, before a correlation meeting with the ward mission leader, I found a huge wolf spider! I caught it, and doused the arachnid with Windex in an effort to kill it. I placed the drenched spider on a napkin and contained it in a pancake griddle. Sister Sinclair, the ward mission leader's wife, was present. She asks me, "Just what do you intend to do with that dead spider?" I respond honestly, because my mother taught me to be honest, "I'm gonna scare the sisters with it!" I smile big and wide, but Sister Sinclair says to me, "Don't you dare!"

I kept the pancake griddle close to me the entire meeting. When the correlation was finished, I gift the sisters with the griddle saying, "We have a surprise for you!" Sister Pedersen grabs the handle of the pancake griddle and lifts. Now this is glorious! Our wolf spider friend went eight-legged Jesus and came back to life! Upon the Sisters lifting the lid to the pancake griddle, the creepy-crawly nearly escaped! The scream of terror that escaped the lips of the three Sister missionaries echoed through the building (good thing nobody else was in the building)! Sister Pedersen moves so fast to close the lid and book it out of the room, it was as if she teleported. Sister Wall retreated to the corner of the room, and Sister Fountain nearly fell backwards out of her chair! Well, I am just dying of laughter, rolling on the floor. I had expected the sisters to find a very dead spider that would make them go, "Eew!" Ne'er in a million years had I expected something so wondrous! Miracle!

The best part: Sister Sinclair comes charging into the room. Well-knowing exactly what I had just done and gives me a look straight out of hell. This just makes me laugh harder.

In the end, everyone still loves each other. Everybody, including Sister Sinclair, has forgiven me. We all look back at this moment proud of the experience.

Here is the enormous wolf spider!

IOS 10 has come, and the mission is abuzz! We can finally do things like this to sleeping missionaries and airdrop it to all of the mission:

IOS 10 is awesome! Haha! 

                                    Goodbye Sister Tims!

Sister Tims went home a little early. Sad. So we now have three sisters. Sister Fountain is the newest addition to our district. There will be a district picture to come next week!

Wichita zone of the KWM before the departure of Sister Tims! The muscle of the mission! 

I am in love with Kansas! This is so much fun, and the best thing I've ever done. I am so grateful for Preston and his rapid, spiritual progression. Miracles are everywhere in the heartland, and more inbound!

Thank you all for your gift of love and support. I love my cheer squad! Have a great week everyone!!

Monday, September 12, 2016

...the rains came down and the floods came up...

It's been a most exciting week. Dinner on p-day was entertaining. Sister Wall gave herself a chocolate mustache complete with a soul patch. Needless to say, all of us were very entertained by her shenanigans.

We have had enormous amounts of rain. All of the rapid moisture has resulted in some flash flooding. The lightest of the storms came as Elder Wood and I were biking home from the church - perhaps a thirty-minute ride. The majority of that time was spent battling a torrent of rain. I've been less wet six feet underwater. Luckily the damage from the amount of rain was minimal. We should have known this storm was only the forerunner to the next few storms.

On an exchange, Elder Candland and I attended a wedding in Andover, a member/investigator couple: Jenny and Jeremiah Daffron. Jeremiah is the investigator. Elder Goldsberry, Elder Candland's companion, teamed with Elder Wood in the Rolling Hills area. Consecration was a big effort. There I am dressed in a suit, sipping lemonade out of a fancy glass, having a staring contest with the dance floor, surrounded by flashing lights and laughter. Good thing Elder Candland is such great company! He helped me stay focused. The wedding was amazing. Elder Candland is ecstatic to baptize Jeremiah after attending. Apparently, Jeremiah has been investigating for over a year. Here is the venue in which the wedding was held:

The rains came down and the floods came up. On the way back to Sister Pinkerton's, the car stalled in a four-foot-deep puddle. We jerked the car into neutral and pushed it to higher ground. It wasn't long until many more cars became stuck. We rushed to the rescue and preached the gospel to those we helped. Elder Candland said he "felt like a superhero helping everyone." I say it felt like a dramatic apocalypse setting like the Last of Us. We waded in water pushing cars into parking lots from the streets until eleven at night. The zone leaders came to pick us up and even lent a hand in pushing vehicles. I recall one of the couples we helped saying, "I feel bad for accepting your help and just leaving you. How can we help you?" I say to them, "You want to help us? Help yourself! Check out and find a way you can come closer to Christ. Here's our card." Maybe it was necessary to be stranded in order to teach those people. Perhaps I'll know one day in the eternities.

Javier Orlando Cervantes Garcia has been baptized! Hooray! Javi was baptized two times. After the ordinance was over the first time, the font drained, nearly everyone returned to their homes, both Javi and I changed, it was mentioned Javi has TWO last names! Oy vey! We turned the font back on, scrambled into our wet clothes, and sat in the font to keep warm while it filled. I am pleased to say, Javi has been baptized in the right way the second time by yours truly. Also, the following day, I confirmed Javi. I remember something I said that struck me greatly. "Javi, you will one day stand before your Lord and testify of this day. As you continue to be faithful, you will always be welcome in His fold." I felt that to be a powerful statement. I truly believe this is true for each and every one of us. Brother Javi, as he prefers to be called, is a fantastic addition to the ward. The Rolling Hills Ward will be blessed by his faithfulness. The council is already executing a plan to allow Javi to join with them in the next temple trip for the youth. What a blessing to us all!

Elder Wood, Javier Orlando Cervantes Garcia, Elder LaMont

I even capped the week with an enormous nosebleed while teaching about the Anti-Nephi-Lehies unwilling to stain their swords with blood and all of a sudden... Niagara Falls. Perhaps you can enjoy the irony. Maybe it's time to take after Channing Tatum's character in the movie: She's the Man...

Elder Wood continues to impress me day by day. He is an amazing missionary. One of the very best things to ever happen to this mission. I haven't trained him really, as much as I try. Most times he teaches himself before I have the opportunity to help him. My effort includes frequent encouragement, but I truly believe he surpasses me in every aspect. The Lord will be very pleased with his contributions to this mission in the near future.

More pictures?  

The district after our district meeting - Sisters Wall and Pederson, Elder Michaelis, yours truly, Elders Wood, Clifford, Goldsberry, and Candland.

Funny picture! 

This IS a sign! 

They come. They eat. They leave. (; 

Love all of you so much. A thank you, thank you, thank you to you. I am so grateful for the enormous support, the miracles wrought by the prayers of the righteous people you are, the thoughts, concerns, emails, your love and thoughts.

Monday, September 5, 2016

...not a walk in the park -but having a lot of fun...

Wow it's been quite a week. I'm learning so much about my callings. It's not been a walk in the park for sure, but I've been having a lot of fun...

... As you can see.

Working with Elder Wood is a different experience from any other companion. Moments from, "Alright let's try this one more time, you can do this," to "Woah, dude! You definitely can NOT do that. What are you thinking?" But wow, it's such a rewarding experience to see him grow. What a stud.

As a District Leader, I also have to spend a lot of time with the zone leaders. Reporting, accounting, taking orders, asking for help, the whole nine yards as they say. It's way different than doing these things to a district leader as a 'foot soldier': passing the phone to your companion saying, "Your turn to talk to the DL tonight." I don't have a companion that shares district leader responsibilities. It's helped me to realize just how not alone I am. The Savior is helping me, and I'm depending upon Him now more than ever before. Times are getting harder, but it the times are even better. I've been under stress to the point I'm about to crack, but I've been amazed again and again to have the burden upon my back lifted, and to find strength in the enabling power of the atonement of Jesus Christ.

This is a picture of Christ we have been given by the mission. The plaque reads 'Come Follow Me'. Such a simple phrase, yet, the most powerful commandment we could be given.

I have a great story followed by a wonderful announcement.

Yesterday, fast Sunday, Javi sits with Elder Wood and I. A young boy named Cael Crosby approaches the pulpit and delivers a powerful testimony of the awe inspiring creativity of the Almighty God. The "most incredible architect in the world," he says. A testimony so powerful, it stirs the heart of Javier Cervantes. Javi leans to Elder Wood and whispers, "I want to do that. But... I don't know what to say." I listen intently, waiting for Elder Wood's reaction, praying Elder Wood will feel the same inspiration that if Javi reaches the pulpit, the Spirit will fill his heart to the maximum. I knew this would be an incredible opportunity for Elder Wood to grow. I allow him to encourage Javi without my help, pretending to be oblivious. Elder Wood responds to Javi, "I will go up with you so you won't be alone. You'll know what to say when you are up there, I promise." This simple encouragement and testimony is enough for Javi. He stands and moves toward the front of the chapel. At this point, I'm shaking. I'm such a nervous wreck, my suit is wearing me. What on Earth is he going to say?

Javi reached the pulpit and began, "I am so glad to be here. And I never would be here if it weren't for Elder LaMont and his companion. I remember, when they first approached me, my mother had asked me to take out the garbage. I really did not want to. I reluctantly made my way outside and saw two well-dressed young men. I immediately recognized them to be missionaries. My eyes met theirs, and I knew I made a mistake. I began to say in my mind, 'Please don't come over, please don't come over, please don't come over.' Well, they came over. I bared my teeth as I responded to their questions. I figured I will allow them this one chat and they'll go away so I can move on with my day. They asked for my number. I was very hesitant to give it to them. Over the next few weeks, they kept calling me, and texting me and texting me. They are SO persistent! When they invited me to church I responded 'Some day.' There came a Sunday I had a clear schedule so I accepted their invitation. When I had come, I started to realize... I have never been more comfortable in any other church. Even though I was in a church where I knew no one, I had no clue what I was doing or what I got myself into. Now I know this is where I need to be. I love this church. I know this church is true. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen."

Sister Pederson and Sister Wall shoot me looks and grins while this happens. I smile with a great big lump in my throat and choke on my words when Javi returns to his seat, "Great job, buddy," I say. What an amazing feeling in my heart.


The service will be September 10, 2016 at 10:00 am. Javi has been investigating for months, and the entire ward couldn't be more excited. The world just became a better place to live, and the heavens are celebrating.

What incredible joy.

I can't wait to tell you all about it. In the meantime, I thank you for your prayers, your help, your thoughts, your service, your faith, your support. You're wonderful people. I'm so lucky to have all of you. THANK YOU!