Sunday, November 30, 2014

November 24, 2014- Saying Goodbye to Elder Remund

November 24, 2014
Saying Goodbye to Elder Remund 

Hey family and friends!

I am officially not a verdecito, or a greenie, anymore. I finished my 12-week training with my trainer Elder Remund. We had transfer calls last night. Elder Remund is heading down to Wilson, North Carolina to be a zone leader there, and I am staying here in Newport News.  It’s been weird because our whole district has been together for 12 weeks or two transfers. Normally at least a few people get moved around every transfer but since we have been together for so long, we have become unified, worked super hard and got a lot of work done during the time we had together. Hermana Belnap is finishing her mission today. She is leaving for her home tomorrow morning. Hermana Camps is coming in to replace her. Hermana Valdez is leaving for North Carolina and Hermana Phillipy is going to be training a new sister. With Elder Remund leaving, Elder Morgan will be joining us as our new district leader.

Elder Morgan is going to be my new companion. Elder Morgan has been on his mission a long time. He only has 2 more transfers, 12 weeks, and then he is going home. I’m happy that I get to stay in Newport News because I love this area and I love the people here! Even though Elder Morgan will be the senior companion, since I'm the one with knowledge about this area, he will probably going to be looking to me to make a lot of the decisions for the next couple weeks.

We found out this week that during our mission conference in December, Elder Snow from the seventy is going to come and talk to us.  We are all very excited to be able to hear from him!

We had a great lesson with our new investigators Ramon and Belkis and their two daughters. They all said they would be willing to be baptized, so Elder Remund and I are hoping to set a baptismal date tonight in our lesson with them!

On Friday we had a branch party for Dia de Accion de Gracias or Thanksgiving.  We had a lot of fun. There was a lot of food there, and at the end of the evening there were still two turkeys in the oven, which hadn’t been used for the dinner yet. The members that were in charge of the party gave Elder Remund and me a whole leftover turkey. A Guatemalan sister in our branch had cooked the turkey.  I don't know what she put on the turkey but it was the best turkey I have ever eaten.

On Saturday, we helped teach at a Stake Family History Youth Activity.  We taught the youth how to set up their family search accounts. It was really long activity that lasted for a total of three hours.

I'm looking forward to this next week, and I hope everyone has a great week.

- Elder Cannon

My first district- 
Back from L to R - 
Me, Elder Remund 
Front from L to R-
Hermanas Valdez, Phillipy, Belnap and Hilton

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

November 17, 2014 - A Cold Snap and New Investigators

November 17, 2014
A Cold Snap and New Investigators

Hey everyone!

It is starting to get super cold here in Virginia. The past couple days it has been around 40 degrees during the day and by 7 or 8 p.m., when we are still teaching and proselyting, it drops down into the 20’s. I've heard a bunch of people say that this is going to be a super cold winter.  I don't know if I'm ready for that.

This week Elder Remund hit his 6 months until he returns home mark, but here we call it "6 months to sexy" because it’s the 6 months when you need to get it shape physically so that you are in good shape when you get home.  This week I have been pushing Elder Remund super hard in our workouts when we are running and at the zone leaders benching. This "6 months to sexy" thing seems kind of silly to me. I figure why not just do "24 months to sexy” by staying in shape the whole time." It is pretty hard to stay in shape here, because we are served so much food when we eat dinner at member’s homes.  It is considered an insult if you don't eat everything they put in front of you. It is pretty humbling though because these families are pretty poor, yet they still give us so much food to eat when we come over.

We had a slower week in terms of lessons. Our whole district has kind of hit a wall this week because none of our investigators have been progressing. So Elder Remund and I have been hoping that we can find some more investigators to teach. We were able to meet up with Elias again this week.  We had him set for a baptismal date in the first weeks I was here but we had to drop him because our appointments kept falling though because he was super busy at work. He told us that we had come at the perfect time to teach his family cause he and his wife were going to separate. She plans to leave with their kids so hopefully we will be able to help them out.

We also met up with Ramon and Belkis. They had been investigators of the hermanas in our district earlier in the year but they weren't progressing.  Belkis wanted to get baptized, but her husband Ramon didn't really want to hear from the missionaries, so the hermanas had to drop them. We just happened to drop by their house and Belkis told us that she had been hoping that we would come by since her husband was now more receptive to listening to the discussions. We asked the hermanas if we could pick them up as our investigators and they consented. I'm super excited because we’ve got a lesson scheduled for tonight with them. Belkis knows the church is true and wants to be baptized, so Elder Remund and I just need to work on Ramon.

A transfer is scheduled for next week, which means I will probably get a new companion because my 12 week training is complete.  This means that I am not considered a "greenie" any more. I'm hoping I get to stay in the area, but I guess I'll see.

Hope everyone has a good week!

-Elder Cannon

Me in front of the Bay in Yorktown, Virginia

Thursday, November 13, 2014

November 10, 2014- My First Baptism

November 10, 2014- My First Baptism

Hey Family and Friends,

This past week was an amazing week! The biggest thing that happened this week was Jeff's baptism!!

Jeff is just such a great guy and it’s such a testimony builder to see how much he changed since I first met him at the beginning of September. When I showed up, he had already been taught many of the bigger lessons such as: Restoration, Plan of Salvation, Gospel of Jesus Christ, Word of Wisdom, and Temples. However, he wasn't really progressing. He didn't really want to agree to a baptismal date because he felt like he wasn't ready as he wasn't quite sure yet if he wanted to be baptized and he had a major addiction to drinking and smoking. In my second or third lesson with him, we talked about the Book of Mormon because he wasn't sure if he had a testimony of the Book of Mormon.

All new missionaries in my mission get extra training for 12 weeks. One of the things I also had to do as part of the training was to challenge someone to pray about the book of Mormon. Elder Remund and I felt that instead of challenging him to do it sometime after we left, we decided that we would ask him in the lesson to do it right then.  We had so much faith that Jeff would receive an answer right away. So halfway through the lesson I asked him if he would pray right then to know if the Book of Mormon was true. Jeff was kind of iffy and didn't really want to do it, but after both Elder Remund and I promised him that he would receive an answer, he consented to do it. The spirit was super strong when he prayed and he received an answer that it was true.

At the end of the lesson I also asked him, "Jeff will you follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ and be baptized by someone holding the priesthood authority of God?" He took a couple seconds to respond and then he said he would. After that lesson we continued to help him get ready for baptism.  At first it was really difficult for him to stop his Word of Wisdom problems, but his desire to be baptized continued to grow stronger. Finally he was able to completely stop drinking and smoking. We met with Jeff a few nights before his baptism and his testimony was so strong. It was so amazing to see his strong desire to be baptized. And then Saturday, November 8th came around and Jeff was baptized!

On Sunday, I had the opportunity to confirm Jeff at church. Elder Remund and I met with him last night to talk to him about his baptism and he said about his baptism, "You know the feeling when you are outside in your yard working super hard and you get super sweaty and dirty, and then you go inside and take a long nice hot shower and wash all that dirt and sweat off? Well, that's what I felt at my baptism"

Before my mission, I had heard the saying many times that "there are people waiting for you out there." Jeff has been an example to me that this is true. That first night I met Jeff, my first night in the field, Jeff told me that there was something different about me than anyone he had met before. He told me that he never opened up to strangers until he had gotten to know them, but he was able to open up to me from day one because he said I had a glow about me. Elder Remund has told me many times that he thinks that Jeff and I just clicked and because of that, Jeff changed from a non progressing investigator to being baptized. 

It is super exciting because Jeff and Yomara, Jeff's wife, are super excited about getting married in the temple in a year from now. It’s a little disappointing that I will not be able to go because the closest temple is in Washington D.C. which is outside my mission.  I will still be on my mission so I can't leave to witness the marriage anyway. I am so excited for them and their sons Willie and Mikey who will be sealed to them as well. It has been one of the most amazing moments of my life to see Jeff change his life for the better. My testimony has been strengthened about the actuality of the atonement of Jesus Christ and that this really is the Church of Jesus Christ. I'm so thankful for this opportunity to be a representative of Jesus Christ and help bring people closer to their Heavenly Father.

The scripture in D&C is so true that says:
"And if it so be that you should labor all your days in crying repentance unto this people, and bring, save it be one soul unto me, how great shall be your joy with him in the kingdom of my Father!
 16 And now, if your joy will be great with one soul that you have brought unto me into the kingdom of my Father, how great will be your joy if you should bring many souls unto me!"

Hope everyone has an amazing week

-Elder Cannon

Me and Jeff on his baptism day

Friday, November 7, 2014

November 3, 2014- Zone Exchange and an Upcoming Baptism

November 3, 2014
Zone Exchange and an Upcoming Baptism

Hey family and friends!!!!

This past week has been an amazing week!!

On Monday night, we had a family home evening night with our entire Spanish Branch at the house of President Hamilton, the stake president. It went super well!

On Tuesday, Elder Remund went over into the Zone leader's area for the day while Elder Terril, another of our zone leaders, came down here to work with me. Elder Terril is an English Speaking missionary so that meant that I was going to do all the talking because he doesn’t speak Spanish. We had some tracting planned and a few scheduled lessons later in the night. At the first home where we tracted, it was really hard for me to have a complete conversation with the woman of the house in Spanish. Normally I'm used to having Elder Remund step in to clarify something I was saying but since Elder Terril was there instead, I was on my own. Notwithstanding, I managed to schedule an appointment with her later in the week. As we began knocking on more and more doors throughout the day, it got easier for me to converse with the Latinos and they could actually understand with me. I had a 15-minute conversation with a gentleman and his wife in front of their home and I was able to give them a book of Mormon and commit them to read it. It was pretty funny because during the entire time we were tracting, Elder Terril basically just stood there and watched me talk because he had no idea what any of the conversation was about. After each conversation he asked me what we talked about.

Elder Terril is an amazing missionary. It’s no surprise to me that he is a zone leader. Whenever we ran into someone who spoke English while we were tracting, which happened a lot, he would be able to pull out scriptures based on what they were saying.  He was really good at getting people to open up and be friendly when at the beginning they weren't.

At 5 p.m. we had a lesson with Jeff which went super well and which was lucky for Elder Terril because that lesson was in English.  Afterwards we had dinner with the Ojeda family. The dinner with the Ojeda’s ended up being pretty awkward though. After we taught them a short lesson after dinner, Brother Ojeda asked us some questions about Joseph Smith and polygamy that he had seen on the news.  He and his family have been converts for about 5 years.   Our discussion ended up focusing on polygamy.  Our answers to their questions didn't really seem to help Brother and Sister Ojeda feel better about what they had seen on TV. We really tried to focus our answer about having faith and relying on their testimony. 

Later that evening, we had an appointment with Edwin and Miriam. I had been a little worried about this appointment since this was going to be our only scheduled appointment in the day that would be only in Spanish. But it ended up going super well.  I taught them the importance of having Noche de Hogar, Family Home Evening, and I committed them to have it.

On Wednesday, we ate lunch at Abuelita's home.  This week ended up being a tender mercy because she didn't have enough time to make the soup so we just had the rice, beans, and chicken. I actually got to enjoy eating this part of the meal for once because normally I'm super full after eating the big bowl of soup that is usually served first. So for once, I left Abuelita's home feeling contently full and not feeling sick because I was too full.

There is a nasty cold that has been passing around our branch this past week, and I ended up getting it.  Thursday just ended up being a sick day and I slept most of the day because I felt really sick.  I am feeling a little better now but I am still sick.

All the missionaries in our mission got Halloween night off after 6 p.m. because President Baker didn't want us to tract or be outside during trick or treating.  Elder Remund and I went to the zone leaders' apartment and we ate pizza, played Apples to Apples and then carved a pumpkin.  It was super fun!

On Saturday we had the social media split!! Some members of our ward walked around with us the whole day and took pictures and videos of us doing missionary work.  Later, they posted the pictures on Facebook and Twitter and used the same hashtag that the Book of Mormon musical used so that when people look that up, pictures of missionaries from all over the mission will pop up. The members of our ward had been very excited about it ever since it was announced. We had some of the young men in our ward take pictures during our study hour.  This worked out great because we were able to have a really good discussion about the Atonement after our personal study time. We also had a great service opportunity where we got to help unload items for the Bishop's Storehouse and then we helped sort the items for the individuals who needed them and helped these people put the items in their car.  All in all, I think the social media split was extremely effective in our branch!

Jeff had his interview for baptism on Saturday with one of the Zone leaders and he passed!! He is going to be baptized this Saturday Nov 8!!! He has asked me to confirm him and give him the Holy Ghost on Sunday. Elder Remund and I are super excited for him!!!

Hope everyone has a great week!

Elder Cannon

Our Ward at Stake President's home for FHE

Playing Apples to Apples with Zone leaders on Halloween night

At the beach with Elder Remund

Sunrise at the beach on transfer day with Zone leaders