Monday, August 29, 2016

8-29-2016 Goals, biting flies, and fresh picked apples

Hello to my wonderful family and friends!!

    This week was just another awesome week here in Minnesota! Nothing new, there was another really big rainstorm again this week. There are these biting insects (i think they are some type of fly) and they BITE! And let me tell you, these bites are literally the worst things ever! I got 6 bites on my hands these week. So that's great! But good news is that when it gets colder all of these insects freeze and they won't bite me anymore! But then it is going to be super there is a down side I guess! The members that we live with have an apple tree in their backyard! Hermana Brittner and I picked some of them and we were super excited to try them... they ended up being really tart/sour. Super fun to pick them though! 

And it didn't work out!  Ha-ha
Me trying to do tricks!


OH and I tried Mexican cheesecake for the first time this week. SOO good, but so fattening ha-ha Mexican cheesecake for the road!! (After we had already eaten like 2 full meals... It was worth it) .
 We did a lot of finding and contacting this week, so it was a fun week talking to a lot of different people! We still haven't been able to get in contact with Andy (the one who had a baptismal date). He doesn't have his own phone, goes to English class in the morning and works at night, so we haven't been able to meet with him for the last two weeks! We are REALLY hoping and praying that we will be able to see him this week! Karen, from the miracle family who just randomly showed up at church a couple of weeks ago, texted us this week saying that she has so many things going on right now. So, she isn't able to meet with us anytime soon, but she wanted to keep the Book of Mormon that we gave to her and pray about it! 

   We worked a lot with Less-Active members this week! We had two lessons with Vivian, and she is so awesome! She really wants to be sealed in the Tijuana Temple with her family by next summer. She is trying to do everything that she can to make it there. I love meeting with her because you can just see her real desire to come back to church with her family, and she has such a strong testimony. She wasn't able to make it to church yesterday, so we hope she can come next week! We stopped by a house of a less-active family that missionaries haven't been able to visit within the last 6 months or so. And, when we were just about to leave, Samantha and Moises and their dad Hermano Felix arrived home! They let us right in, and we were able to share a scripture with them about prayer (Mosiah 24:14-15) and Hermano Felix loved it! He shared a lot of really cool stories about prayer and faith and how he knows that Heavenly Father really does answer prayers.  His whole family works A LOT, which is one reason why they don't come to church. He got offered to work another job, but isn't sure if it is the right choice. So, we challenged him to pray about it. He said he would!  We were SO happy that we were able to meet them and have a little lesson with them. Definitely a miracle that they got home when they did.

     Jose Saldana, the son of the awesome Saldana Family, got home from his mission (Guadalajara) this week!  The Saldana’s have been talking about him since I got here, so it was nice to finally meet him. They had a homecoming party that we were able to go to and eat some AMAZING TAMALES!!! Oh side story, about 4 hours before the party started, Hermana Brittner was really hungry; so, we stopped by a McDonald's because she had a gift card. When we got there, the manager came right out and told us that she would pay for us! Her name was Brianna and she was a member as well. She was super sweet! I wasn't planning on getting anything to eat and just eat at the party, but she insisted on paying for me.. SO needless to say, I was super stuffed after going to the party and eating some amazing Hispanic food!! 

    We left the party because we had an appointment with Marian. But the second we got out to the car, we got a text from Marian saying that she wasn't able to meet with us.  So we said a prayer to figure out where we needed to go (because we didn't make good back-up plans the night before).  After the prayer I turned to Hermana Brittner and just said "all I am picturing is a Hispanic man, with a striped shirt and jeans. But I have no idea where he is." Hermana Brittner had the idea to go to a trailer park in Burnsville. So we went...and GUESS WHAT??? We ended up remembering that we received a referral from a member, so we went to visit Emmalina and guessed who opened the door!! It was Emmalina's husband, and he was wearing a striped shirt and jeans! We ended up teaching them a lesson, but they weren't interested in learning more. It was kind of sad that they didn't want to hear the wonderful message of Christ's restored gospel, but what I learned from this situation is that Heavenly Father answers prayers and will help you as long as you have faith!! I am so very grateful for this experience, because it really strengthen my faith. 

    I was studying this morning and I found a quote by President Thomas S. Monson, the Prophet,that I really liked. He say said: "Remember the past; learn from it. Contemplate the future; Prepare for it. Live in the present; serve in it."  We have been teaching "goals" lessons to some of our investigators and less active members, where we have them write down goals and steps as to how they are going to reach those goals. Where do you want to be in 5, 10, 25, etc. years down the road? The fact of the matter is that goals affect an eternity of choices and decisions. For example, if you have a goal to loose 15 pounds by the end of the year, are you going to eat a brownie every single day? NO?! Because the day by day choice to not eat a brownie, and to eat something healthy will help you achieve this goal. What's so amazing about having goals is that we have this wonderful life and time to grow and become better. Time is literally a gift from God, and it's our decision as to how we are going to best use the time that we have RIGHT NOW to choose where we want to be, and not just in this life, but after this life as well. In Alma 37:36 it says: "Yea, and cry unto God for all thy support; yea, let all thy doings be unto the Lord, and whithersoever thou goest let it be in the Lord; yea, let all thy thoughts be directed unto the Lord; yea, let the affections of thy heart be placed upon the Lord forever." And I know that this is true. I know that we can receive help and comfort from our Savior Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father answers prayers, as long as we have the faith and willingness to ACT upon this answer. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and the Bible as well. And that we can learn SO much about our purpose in this life as we read and study and ponder the teachings within. 

I am so very grateful to be a missionary! I hit my 3 month mark this week! Isn't that crazy? It's crazy how fast time just flies by when you are having fun!!  I hope all of you have the best week yet, and remember to smile. Smiling is the best. And, don't forget that I love you. But even more importantly, Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ love you all SO much more!!!!

Hermana Duvall

Last zone pday before transfers last week!! 


Monday, August 22, 2016

August 22, 2016 God's timing is better than Perfect timing!

Cool scenery. Love how green it is here 

Hello everyone!!

    This week was just another awesome week here in the land of Many Might Miracles. The weather is starting to get a little colder here, which is starting to make me a little scared. Yeah, I know I am from California and it is going to be a huge shock for me. I know. But, it is going to be something that I have never experienced before.. an adventure?? So, that is what makes it exciting!!!

   We taught the Sunday school lesson with one of our members in our branch, Alma, yesterday! She was really nervous to teach, but she ended up doing so well! And I participated a little more than I did the first time haha. But overall the lesson was awesome! We taught about the importance of having two witnesses, the stories of Alma and Amulek (in Alma 8-12). I don't have time to really expand on it, but they are awesome examples of missionary work and what it really means to truly be converted to the Lord. So, I suggest you all to go read about it because it's awesome!

    Update on Andy: We were not able to see him at all this last week! He is working SO much and he we don't have any way of contacting him, except through his Aunt who is never home. We stopped by on Saturday because we were supposed to have a lesson with him, but he was still working. So we bought him a Coke and left him a note (side story: he always tries to buy us a soda every time we meet with him, so we bought him one as a joke haha) And he was supposed to come with us to a Fireside yesterday, but long story short it didn't end up working out! Hopefully we will be able to see him this next week!!

    We finally had a lesson with Karen!! She is the mom of the Alegria family who just happened to show up at church a couple of weeks ago. She wanted to know what the differences is between our church and other churches. We taught her about the Book of Mormon and about Priesthood Authority! We were able to answer all of her questions, and the lesson just went so well with her! She was super excited to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, to know for herself that it is true. She said that she needed to talk to her husband about getting baptized, but she didn't say now! We are so excited for her, and we hope that we will be able to teach her and her family together this next week. Families are so important, and I cannot wait to see how the knowledge of this restored gospel will be able to strengthen their family!!


   The rest of the week was just a lot of finding and teaching first lessons! We taught 5 first lessons with new people this week! Which is so much more than we normally are able to! It was super rainy this whole week, so we taught a lot of lessons in the Rain! And talking about timing… we were trying to contact some previous investigators but they didn't answer the door (and we knew they were home because we could literally see them through the window haha) But as we started walking away, their niece, Brenda got home. So God's timing is great, because if we hadn't seen her family inside, we wouldn't have waited so long until we left. We ended up teaching her about the Restoration in POURING rain. And we gave her our big umbrella, so Hermana Brittner and I shared a small umbrella and we got soaked. But it was worth it.  We had so many experiences like this one this week, where we would arrive to someone's house and they would just be pulling in their driveway.  I know that sometimes we say perfect timing, but isn't it more like God's timing!! God is in charge of everything, and it is so fun serving him and being able to see His hand every single day!!!

   One thing that I have learned this last week is the importance of having Faith. What is faith? Faith is when you do something or believe in something or continue forward, even when you don't have an exact answer as to why. Faith is when you hope for things which are not seen. Sometimes, in our lives, there are so many different things that happened and we have no idea why.  In Alma 32:21, "And now as I said concerning faith—faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true."  I testity that this is true. We don't need to have a perfect knowledge to just believe. Just believe that Heavenly Father really knows what's best for us. Believe that things are going to get better. Believe that we can be redeemed and saved through the atonement of Jesus Christ. Just Believe and have faith. God's timing is perfect. He loves all of us, and I promise that as we continually look for his hand in our lives, that we will be so much happier and have so much more joy!!

I hope that everyone has the best week ever and remember to look for God's hand in your lives! He is amazing. I love all of you, but more importantly Heavenly Father and his son Jesus Christ loves you so much more!!!

Hermana Duvall

August 16, 2016  Last zone lunch together before transfers!! I am staying here for another 6 weeks!!

Monday, August 15, 2016

AUgust 15, 2016 New cousin, Mosquito bites, and First Prayer Ever

Hello mi familia and mis amigos!!
I hope you all are doing wonderful and are happy! This week was simply another awesome week in the land of Many Might Miracles (the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission), and I am so grateful to have this opportunity to
be here on a mission.  There was a HUGE CRAZY storm this week! I sent a video home to my mom. But it was pouring so hard and the wind was so hard the trees looked like they were going to break in half!

Andy is still progressing. This week we had a lesson with him outside because the lobby of the apartment building was being used, so we sat on the grass in a circle. Even though I ended up will some bug bites
and itchy skin and it was super humid outside, the lesson was awesome. We taught him about baptism and confirmation, and the role of the Holy Ghost.  He understood it and just soaked it in. He just got a job at
IHOP, so meeting with him is probably going to be harder now because he doesn't really know his schedule. But we were able meet with him again, and we had a lesson sitting in the hallway of the apartment (sitting and teaching a lesson in a skirt makes it more interesting ha-ha). We just went over the different commandments that we've taught him, and he knew it all. We had to move his baptismal date back to September 3rd, because he needs to come to church at least one more time, and with his new work schedule it is difficult. He is excited to be baptized and to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost! He said that he cannot wait to have the Holy Ghost there to help and guide him every day!

We weren't able to have a lesson this week with the miracle park girl, Julia this week. But we are hoping to have a lesson with her tomorrow! We were able to stop by and see the Alegria Family (the family that just showed up at church a couple of weeks ago) this last week! They are super nice. They told us that they are interested in learning more about our church, but do not plan on joining our church. So we are still going to be teaching them!

At prince of peace this last Tuesday, we taught two lessons to two guys that came in! We are not allowed to proselytize but if they ask questions it's free game ha-ha. The first guy was genuinely interested in learning more, and was just asking a lot of questions. We shared Ezekiel 37:15-17, where it talks about the Book of Mormon and the Bible being records from God. When he read this his mind was just like blown ha-ha. The other guy's name was Bill. He walked in and started talking to us about the Bible and how it has changed his life. He was super nice, and challenged us to read the Bible and pray every single day. We told him that we are missionaries, and that's exactly what we do!! He didn't really understand that we were actually telling the truth, but we had an interesting conversation with him!

On Friday night we had a really awesome experience! We had a lesson planned with someone, but it ended up falling through. We had about 20 minutes until we were supposed to start heading home, but instead of just heading home we knocked on one more door! We ended up meeting this super sweet lady named Maria! We talked about how our faith in Jesus Christ has helped us in our lives. We ended up giving her a Book of Mormon and she said she would read and pray about to know for herself if it is the word of God, like the Bible. We taught her on her doorstep, and even though I had put a bunch of bug spray on earlier in the day, I got 10 new mosquito bites. I got three on my head and the rest on my arms. But it was definitely worth it!!!

Then on Saturday we just had an awesome day! We were able to teach 3 lessons, which is our goal to do every single day! One of them, was this guy named Ryan. He's 17 years old. We were walking down the street, leaving a house of a lady that we just taught a short message about the Book of Mormon, and we saw Ryan sitting in his car smoking. At first we just walked past him, but Hermana Brittner had the feeling to turn around and go talk to him. We ended up talking with him and found out a lot about him. He told us that he has never prayed, and that he didn't even know how to pray. So we taught him how to pray, and he said a prayer for the first time ever in his life!! Afterwards, he said that he felt like a burden was just lifted off of his shoulders. He said he felt so much happier. His prayer was probably one of the most sincere prayers that I have ever heard, and I could just feel the spirit so strongly. We ended up teaching him about the Book of Mormon and he said that he would read and pray about it! He was super glad that we stopped and talked with him, and recognized that there really are no coincidences! SO AWESOME!

This week I had a lot of different types of food! Instead of just eating Hispanic food, we had a Swiss dinner with the awesome Cupkie Family and an Italian dinner with the Jensen Family. It was fun being able to have a little bit of a variety in our meals!  And Hermana Brittner and I made tortillas! They were super super yummy!

FUN FACT: I am related to one of my Zone Leaders, Elder Atwood. Turns out that we have the same great-great-great Grandfather, Lorenzo Turrell Atwood. Which makes us 3rd cousins! It was fun comparing our family trees and figuring this out. I am so grateful for Family History! It is so awesome!!

I wanted to share a scripture about prayer this week. In 3 Nephi 27:28-29" And now I go unto the Father. And verily I say unto you, whatsoever things ye shall ask the Father in my name shall be given unto you. Therefore, ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you; for he that asketh, receiveth; and unto him that knocketh, it shall be opened."
I just want to stress how important it is to pray! It's crazy to think that there are some people who don't even know how to pray. Just to have the knowledge that you can communicate with a Father in Heaven who loves you so much is such a wonderful gift. I know that sometimes our prayers are not always answered in the way that we want it to, but Heavenly Father knows what's best for us and he will ALWAYS answer our prayers.

Love you all so much, but more importantly Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ loves you SO MUCH MORE!

Hermana Duvall

Here are some videos of a crazy Mid-West storm:

"Good thing we have our house built upon a rock!"

Monday, August 8, 2016

August 8, 2016 By Small and Simple Means, Great things Happen

Hello my wonderful family and friends!!!
   This past week was really interesting because we had a lot of meetings so it was hard to get a lot of work done. Last P-day we had a sister’s day so all of the sisters in my zone went to a Mexican restaurant and got lunch together.  I ate tongue... ahhh! But it was actually was pretty good, I mean it wasn't disgusting so now if a member feeds me tongue I am going to be prepared ha-ha.  After lunch, we got permission from our Mission President to watch Finding Nemo, so that was a super fun treat!! 

All of the sisters in our zone out for lunch

That's a torta and a taco de lengua. Woo

I love these ALOE drinks. So good. You can buy them at this Hispanic store haha

     So update on all of the people: Andy. He's progressing and still wants to be baptized. The last lesson that we had with him, he shared with us how he knows that through Christ's help that he will be able to change! Which is awesome. But he didn't make it to church yesterday, which was sad.  The Alegria Family, the family that just showed up at church last week, wasn't able to meet with us this last week because Karen (the mom) got sick. But hopefully we will meet with them this next week! We made a lot of contact with a bunch of other people this week, and had a lot of mini lessons. So this next week should be great meeting back up with all of these people this week.

     On Saturday I got to go out to lunch with my Mom's cousins, Bevie Ann and Rob! It was such a treat getting to talk with them and spend time with family. I love and look up to both of them! And I am so grateful for my family, and for the knowledge this gospel has given me that Families can be together forever!!!

Lunch with Bevie Ann and Rob (my second cousins)

Hermana Duvall and Hermana Brittner
     Miracle time! Okay, so our Heavenly Father is simply amazing. And this story that I am able to share is amazing and I hope that I will be able to explain it to do it any justice.  On Saturday night Hermana Brittner and I were leaving our Branch Activity at the park (we were playing soccer once again ha-ha) because we had to make it to a phone call that we had set up with our Sister Training Leaders. So we were walking to our car and this girl calls out to us and is like "hey, do you guys go to Lakeville North?" and we responded saying, "No, we are actually missionaries." Her name is Julia, and she's 14 years old. We started talking with her, and introduced her to a girl in our ward who is her age and goes to the same High School as her! At this point, everyone in our branch had left and it was just us with Julia. Julia started telling us that she has struggled with an eating disorder for the past couple of years, and she also shared with us some heart breaking stories about those at her school who bully her. But, she then told us how her faith has helped her. That she goes to church, and her pastor has really helped her. She also shared how important prayer has been to here, that she loves praying and prays every single day more than just once! We testified to her of the importance of prayer and that God really is our loving Heavenly Father! That he has a plan for all of us.  As she was talking, I realized that that morning I had put an English Book of Mormon in my purse instead of a Spanish one. And as I remembered this, I just pulled it out and said, "This Book is call the Book of Mormon. There have been so many times in my life where I am struggling, and reading this book has helped me." She immediately recognized this book and asked if we were Mormon! Hermana Brittner testified of the Book of Mormon and gave her a short background of it. Then, I shared one of my favorite scriptures with her, Mosiah 24:14-15, and testified to her that Heavenly Father doesn't give us a challenge too hard to overcome, and that through our Savior Jesus Christ we can receive help. When then continued to talk with her about a bunch of different things, and for every question she had, we were able to remember a scripture in the Book of Mormon that would answer her question. (We were definitely receiving some divine help right them). She mentioned that she didn't have a Bible, and so we happened to have an English copy with us to and gave her one!  She said that two years ago two elders knocked on her door, but her older sister turned them away. But she felt like she really wanted to talk to them. She then went on to tell us that she feel like there was a reason that she saw us tonight. That God was trying to tell her something!

Ice Cream break! YUMMMMM!

   So let me just say that meeting her was simply a miracle, and that God was literally working and setting up this moment for us to meet her for weeks! 2 year ago when she first saw this missionaries- a light was sparked in her. 4 weeks ago we received 2 English Bibles instead of Spanish- she needed a bible. I put an English Book of Mormon in my purse- we were going to give her one. Our call with the STL's- if we hadn't set that up, we wouldn't have left our branch activity when we did, and we wouldn't have met her.  We had a return appointment with her on Thursday, and I am so excited!!!!!!
   There is a scripture that I just love, and it is in Alma 37: 6-7.
It says, "but behold I say unto you, that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass; and small means in many instances doth confound the wise. And the Lord God doth work by means to bring about his great and eternal purposes; and by very small means the Lord doth confound the wise and bringeth about the salvation of many souls."
      I would just like to testify that I know this is true. Heavenly Father has a plan for every single one of us, and it is little by little that his great and wonderful purposes are brought to pass!! I also know that we can be instruments in the Lord's hand to bring to pass these great purposes. Sometimes, what we are going through may seem unfair or not make sense, but I know that everything has a purpose. And that when we rely on our Heavenly Father and Savior, that everything will be so much easier, happier, and better!!

      We can help others know that there is hope, hope through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And, that through the Restored Gospel of Jesus Christ, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, all can receive salvation and live with our Heavenly Father once again. I know that this church is the restored gospel of Jesus Christ, and has the same authority as when Christ established his church years ago. I know that it is back on this earth to help us and to guide us, but that it is up to us as individuals to accept it!

Love you all so much, but more importantly, our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ both love you all so much more!!

Some members in our ward just moved into this super nice apartment!!! It's basically like a hotel. It has an arcade room, a theatre, a pool, etc. Super cool. 

Hermana Duvall

Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016 Heart, Might, Mind, and Strength

Hey Mi familia y mis amigos!!!!!!!
 It was another great week here in the wonderful land of Minnesota! A lot of miracles and amazing things happened here, and yes I love being a missionary. The weather here wasn't as crazy and humid, so it was really nice walking outside and not sweating buckets haha.
We had another couple of lessons with Andy and he seems like he is progressing towards his baptism! He finally expressed that he is realizing that this gospel can actually help him. And he came to church this Sunday!! The second that he walked in, it was like the best thing ever haha. He actually participated a lot in both of the classes, and it was so awesome hearing the things that he had to say.
I went on exchanges this week with Sister Clegg! I went with her to her area, so it was all English work but it was so much fun! It is definitely different teaching people in English, like I can actually understand everything that is being said and I can talking without worrying. The people that we taught were all so great. We taught a recently married couple and the husband was just baptized. They are working towards going to the temple next year! Talking with them made me so excited, because this gospel really does change lives!!
We had a lot of contacting this week, just getting to know the people here better. And we were knocking doors because one of our appointments fell through. We ended up knocking into the Allegria Family! They immediately knew who we were, and were super nice. Jose is from Mexico and then Karen who is from Minnesota, and they have two kids of their own. BUT they wanted to go to church, because Jose wants their children to learn more Spanish. And Sunday came around and they came to church!!! WOOOOO. We didn't think they were going to come, because we called in the morning and they didn't answer. It was a miracle that they came. And their kids loved primary.
On Wednesday, we went the WHOOOLE DAY without our cell phone. And it was very, very interesting trying to figure everything and contacting the people we needed to. So, let's just say that we said a lot of prayers that day, more than usual. Heavenly Father helped us a lot. And I am so very grateful for prayer and that we have the opportunity to pray to God to receive guidance and direction every single day!

Hermana Brittner hit her 9 month mark (half way!!) so we celebrated by getting Panera on Friday for dinner. So good!!!!

 This week I was studying in a talk that is by Jeffery R. Holland, "Tomorrow the Lord will Do Wonders Among You." And this is an amazing talk, love every word of it. But there was a part that I especially loved. My brothers and sisters, the first great commandment of all eternity is to love God with all of our heart, might, mind, and strength -that's the first great commandment. But the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life. Indeed it is only with that reassurance burning in our soul that we can have the confidence to keep trying to improve, keep seeking forgiveness for our sins, and keep extending that grace to our neighbor. This is just so true!!! God loves us sooooo much! I know that knowing that my Heavenly Father loves me is a reason that keeps me going. He has given me my life and everything in it, and He has given all of us a Savior who we can turn to and through him we can return to live with our Heavenly Father again. That is just the best gift ever! All we have to do is turn to Him and he will help us. Why? The answer is simple. It is because he loves us. So, because of this great eternal love... "Keep loving. Keep trying. Keep trusting. Keep believing. Keep growing. Heaven is cheering you on today, tomorrow, and forever."

Thanks for all of your love and prayers! I love you all, but more importantly Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ loves you more!!!!!!!

Love, Hermana Duvall