Monday, January 14, 2013



I wrote Acey a letter this last week. Funny thing is that I'll probably beat it down there. Crazy to think. I guess you guys already know, but I got my visa! I'm also really glad that my letter came through for your birthday, Mom. I was a little worried that it might not. Anyway, I get to try to pack my bags again! I just hope that I didn't collect too much stuff here... It's kinda sad, though. Elder Seitz was the only one that didn't get his visa. There's still a chance it could come this week, but there's also a chance he could be here for another transfer. He and his trainer don't get along so well... I hope everything turns out okay for him.
I really want to express my appreciation for my long johns. I love them. Thanks for sending them to me in the MTC. I wear them almost daily.
Craig, I know I said this in the letter, but it really was SO cool to go to Costco! Thanks for that! It made my day. And all of my companions' days too. We've been feasting on muffins and bagels this week. It's been great. 
So we taught the restoration a lot this week. It was pretty cool. First guy was Antonio. We were gonna teach him again this week, but he wasn't there. Even so, he received it pretty well. Quiet guy. I'm hoping we can stop by another time this week.
We also taught a lady named Alma. She's a friend of someone in the ward and an inactive seventh day adventist. She also received the restoration really well, and we also threw a bit in there about why Sunday is the Sabath and not Saturday. She seemed to take that well, considering she's a seventh day adventist.
One of my favorite lessons this week was with a guy named Oscar. A couple weeks ago we followed up a referral that spoke Spanish. She didn't seem very interested at all, but said she didn't have time and if we really wanted to try, we could come back later. Which of course we did. Except when we came by this week, it was her son in law that opened the door. He has three kids, one of which is handicapped, I think Down Syndrome. We shared parts of the Plan of Salvation and how families can be together forever. He loved it, almost to the point of tears. The spirit was really strong, and definitely giving second witness. He wasn't there for his return appointment, but we'll catch him sometime this week!
Just as a side note, some of the interesting things I've eaten in the past week include tongue and cactus. They were both much better than I expected! Who'd have thought I'd eat something wierd in the States?
So another fun story was when we tracted into a guy named Chris. He produces Christian grunge/rap/heavy hip-hip from a recording studio in his house in an effort to get gangster kids to listen to messages about Christ. Interesting idea. He had some fun ideas about religion. He said he didn't align himself with any one organization because he decided they were all practically the same. He said he'd compared the Book of Mormon, the "witness book", and the Koran to the Bible and they all practically say the same thing. They all are rooted in Abraham, and it's all the same God that they're all praying to. He also said he'd read through the Bible and came to know it was true. We left him with another Book of Mormon (since he'd probably lost his last one) and promised him if he read through the whole thing - not just comparing sections to the bible - then he would know that it was true too. Then he said something cool. "So I guess if this book is true then the whole Mormon thing is the way I have to go, isn't it?" Yes Chris. Exactly. That's what it says in the last two paragraphs of the intro. We passed him off to the English missionaries, but I hope things go well!
We had a cool zone conference this week. Those are always fun, especially when the president comes. They had a presentation on Lock your Heart. We're getting 12 new sisters this transfer. Well, Oregon is. I'm going to Argentina, but I imagine they'll be getting some sisters, too. So far, no problems. We haven't had any sisters in our zone, but I imagine so long as I stay focused on what's important, it won't matter.
Last but not least, just like President Young promised, I'm going to have a baptism before I go. Manuel, the one that was going to be baptized on the 5th, is getting baptized on Saturday. We went by this last Saturday with the branch president. At first, I was sure we were going to drop him. President Constanza was saying things like "If you don't want to take this step of obedience, that's okay. I'll still be your friend, but the missionaries need to spend their time with the people that are humble enough to be baptized. You're ready Manuel, you just have to do it." All in Spanish, of course. Then they said a whole bunch of stuff I didn't understand and then I heard the words "Two weeks from Saturday." From there I picked up that we'd somehow got talking about baptismal dates. President convinced him that he was ready for Saturday. So Saturday it is!
Well, That's my week! Love you all!


So to start off, I want to tell what happened to Brother Torres (Carlos) on Monday, the day after his confirmation. He was pumping gas for a young lady and the pump was being weird and he accidentally filled her up with premium rather than regular, making about a 40 dollar difference. He apologized and tried to get a manager over, and said if they couldn't work it out, he'd pay the difference from his pocket. Due to a sudden surge of cars coming in, he was running all over the place, and the manager for some reason couldn't make it over right then, so she sat there for almost a half hour waiting. She came up to him and told him that she'd talked to her parents and they said it was okay, they could just pay for the premuim, and thanks for all his help. The next day he had a note waiting for him from the girl saying how appreciative she was for all his efforts to help and try to help her. She also said that if he was ever interested in finding a job more suited to his skills, he should try LDS job services, and left him with a card. I was thining, what a great example of being Christlike. In a situation where a normal person would have gotten ticked, maybe reported the guy that made a mistake that was mostly due to a falty machine, this member of the church forgave, and then left a card. I thought that was a pretty cool way to give Christlike service and share the gospel in a non-threatening way.
Anyway, this week was different again due to the holiday. We had a party with the ward new year's eve, but had to be in by 8, which was nice. Some time to think over the year, read some scriptures, and such. Great way to spend New Year's! New Years Day we had a missionary party. Every zone was authorized to get together and watch Brave. It was way fun! That night we got to hang out with members. We went to the Clantons. Brother Clanton is the only guy in the branch that speaks no Spanish. He's hilarious in a Mark Burnett kind of way. For work he owns a ma and pop shop across the street from his house. It was so cool! He had some antiques and stuff. Including a 1908 Sears Roebuck catalog and a third edition 1891 Book of Mormon. THAT was cool. I'll have to send the pictures next week because I forgot my cord. But yeah, I got some really sweet pictures there.
As I was saying before, we pushed Manuel's baptism to this Saturday. It was crazy - on Saturday our companions decided it would be interesting if Elder Setiz and I tried to teach a lesson. We went with the president to teach the last couple commandments to Manuel. It was so cool! I haven't talked that much since the MTC. It was nice to have that chance, and to have the president there to save us. I also went on my first exchange. Since there's two companionships we just went in threesums. I got to visit some of the ZL's investigators. He also showed off his Ward Mission Leader when he was setting an appointment by calling him and having him get a member for them. After watching all the training videos this week about working with the WML, and seeing that, I'm really kinda wishing we had one. They seem useful.
So Rosalba, the one that let us in the first time we went by without any introduction, is finally progressing! We got her to stop talking for long enough to share the restoration. And she's been reading in the book of mormon and the pamphlet. She even went online to find the book of Mormon in bigger font!
Tracting was nuts. We were looking for a referral in a place with tons of no soliciting signs. The best thing? They came out about ready to rip our throats out, and then we just identified ourselves, what we do, and told them we were looking for someone who spoke Spanish in the area that had expressed interest in our message. Suddenly they were all smiles and got very helpful. It was a great backdoor to the no-soliciting. We finally found the guy. He's really busy, so we have to wait until Saturday to teach him but he's meant to be a member. He's got two recent convert friends who are working with him.
We also tracted out a place that had TONS of hispanics. It was so cool. I had another lesson with someone who invited us in at the door. It took us three times to convince him we weren't Testigos de Jehova (J dubs), but I think he finally figured out we were Mormons. It was a cool lesson!
Last cool story - we stopped by the gas station to fill up. The guy looked at us and started talking to us about the Mormons. We ended up finding out he had two kids that he wanted to get into a church and that he'd talked to missionaries like 5 years ago. We got his information and left him with the church address and a pamphlet to read on his break. It was a cool thing!
Anyway, this work is still as awesome as ever. We have lots of appointments this week, and I'm so excited!
Love you all!


It was so fun talking to all of you last Tuesday! I'll admit, this week I forgot to make my usual "week recap" card from my journal that I usually use to write my letter, but I think I can remember enough to not be too rambly and lost.
It was fun to see everyone on Skype, but I must say, no one really looks any different from 3 months ago. Some things I was supposed to mention in the call that I kinda forgot... One, I have a testimony of this gospel. I think I may have mentioned that... I hope. But if not, I just want to make sure that you all know that I know that the church is true, and there to help us more fully live the gospel of Jesus Christ, that the Book of Mormon is a powerful resource through which God can speak to us, that prayer works, and that we have a living prophet in the restored church of Jesus Christ, exactly as it was when he first established it.
Two, I love my mission. Like really, I'm enjoying my time here in Oregon, even though the streets are crazy and some of the laws are nuts and everybody hates Mitt Romney, I love it. The people here are so kind and feed us too much, and there's so much humility, especially with the hispanic people. Also, it's so fun being a missionary and causing interest to well up inside of people just because of the way I dress and the name tag I get to wear.
Three, thank you so much for your support. Your letters, your prayers, and financial support are so much appreciated.
Lastly, I was supposed to say that President and Sister Young love all of you, and appreciate you for all the ways you've helped me.
Okay, so for my week. We have one investigator who's going to be baptized this week. Manuel. I think I've mentioned him before... He's a friend of the branch president who's been going to church for 4 weeks. He's about 60 and has an awesome tendency to talk really slow, which is great for me. He's been receiving everything so well, even when we brought up the Word of Wisdom. He's one of those ones that's referred to when it says in PMG that "the Lord is already preparing people for you to teach."
I'm starting to get used to some of the accents out here! In church yesterday, for the first time, I understood a whole talk enough to take notes! I didn't understand the other one, but I was still super exicted. Afterward I went up to the speaker and was able to thank him for the things he said, because I understood them. I also caught about half of preisthood meeting. Gift of Tongues is real! Also, at our surprise baptism on Saturday (more later), I gave a talk, and most of what I said made sense! I'm so grateful I get to learn a language on a mission, where the Lord is helping me.

All of us with the Rojas family
So Christmas was pretty fun. We spent most the day at Sister Pool's, which was nice because they don't speak Spanish, so I got to speak English most of the day. We played some fun card games, similar to Apples to Apples, then ate two more dinners after that - one at the Branch President's and one at the Rojas. I've eaten way too much food this past week...
Most of our appointments fell through this week, and nearly all of the potentials we tried to contact weren't home, but we still had some success! One of the houses we tried ended up not being a potential, but a former investigator. We talked to his sister, who said that the missionaries would always come by and her brother would just try to hide. He didn't want to say no, but they were "starting to annoy him." We were able to talk to her a little bit about what we do and kinda change the perspective from annoying to hopefully not so annoying. I'm not sure if anything will come from it, but I'm hoping!
Later that same day, after trying to do all of our plans, we only had about fifteen minutes left before we had to go to dinner. We got the feeling to go back to the first house we tried. Still no one home. But as we tracted around the area we found a house where two people lived that used to meet with the sisters, but had never gotten around to the lesson due to time problems. the best part? The husband speaks Spanish! A lot of times it can be kinda sad when we find someone to teach, and then have to turn them over to the English elders, but since he speaks Spanish, we can come back! I'm excited for that return visit.
So as I alluded to earlier, we had a surprise baptism this week. I think I mentioned Brother Torres in my Skyping, and how since his records were lost, we had to rebaptize him. It was pretty cool! Technically, I think that was my first baptism that I was kinda involved in. Afterward we had a family insist that we come and eat with them. I think one of the biggest challenges we have on the mission is getting the members to understand that we only have 1 hour for dinner, and that we have to be home by 9. It can be really hard to convince them of that sometimes... Also, they insisted that we eat. I looked back at my driver's license from July and I've put on 20 pounds since then. It's something I'm going to be working on.
To wrap up, I just want to say how grateful I am for the gospel. Between discussions about some of the crazy things other churches believe and seeing the way some people are without the gospel, it just makes me all the more appreciative for what the gospel has done for me. For instance, while tracting this week, we found a guy that was smoking, had his wife and kid in the house, and was using the F word as often as some people use umm. As he was talking about some of the challenges in his life, I was thinking that his situation wasn't too much different than some of the members in the branch, yet they have so much more joy and happiness in their lives. The gospel really is the difference between being happy in this life and just struggling to make it through. I'm glad I get this chance to give people the opportunity to come to that knowledge as well.
Lastly, I just want to say how cool modern prophets are. We've been playing the most recent general conference in our car, and it's so fun to listen to those messages. They're so relevant to our day, and convey the spirit so well.
Anyway, that's all I've got for this week. I love all of you! Have a happy new year's! I will! (We get to go to the ward party that we just help set up. We have to be in the apartment by 8, but what better way to spend the new year than surrounded by gospel study resources?) Well, until next year!


A picture of our kitchen and beds
Looking forward to talking to all of you! Most likely, I'll be Skyping sometime around 10:30 or so. Thanks so much for the package! It was awesome and so unexpected! I wasn't around when they delivered it because I was at a zone conference, so I had to pick it up in a different city, but it was worth it! As for Elder Gabbitas, funny story. I was walking out of the Library after e-mailing last week and he just happened to be e-mailing at another computer. I saw his name tag and said "Hi, I'm originally from Bakersfield." He gave me a big hug and was super excited! Thanks so much for the 12 days of Christmas! It's been so fun. Camacho and I have been loving it. I'm also excited to do double opening tomorrow with the two new ones I got in the package. Even though Camacho's my only real companion, Seitz and Anderson are practically like companions, too, since we live together and share a car.

Camacho's conversion story: He's from Mexico. He grew up there until he was 13 when he came to the states (still not sure if he's serious about being illegal). He's lived all over the place. Most recently in Washington, then Sacramento before coming on a mission. He had some contact with the missionaries in Washington, but moved to Cali during the lessons. There he got heavily involved in a gang. His mom came home one day, went into the kitchen, fell on her knees, and just prayed to know how she could help her kids. She was really worried because Elder Camacho was the oldest, and the other kids looked up to his example. Within an hour, the missionaries showed up. He was a little resistent, but one day locked himself in his room with a Book of Mormon, and prayed. He opened to 2 Nephi 31 and got an answer about baptism. And now he's here, four years later. He's about 2 months younger than Craig.
The Connecticut shooting has actually been kinda nice... I don't know if I told you about it last week, but we've been able to use Alma 14 to help people understand why God lets bad things happen. Although it was a terrible tradegy, sometimes God lets us experience those so that we can have a chance to come closer to him. There have been some other missionaries who have used the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis sacrificing themselves rather than take up arms to help others understand it as well. It's really cool to see the way the gospel and the Book of Mormon can help people understand and get through tragedies and trials. The gospel truly does help. 
So this week I was kinda sick. I downed a whole bottle of Pepto Bismol. Kinda funny though. I prayed to be able to remember to pray more often. Then, I started getting sudden strong urges to go to the bathroom. I suddenly started praying A LOT that I would be able to hold it. God answers our prayers in ways we don't always expect.
Awesome story from this week: On Tuesday morning, Elder Camacho told me that we would get into a door that day while tracting. We first went to visit an investigator, but he wasn't home. We were about to leave when we heard voices from the door across the way (it's like a trailer park thing). We decided to knock and the door swung open seemingly by itself (there was a tiny kid hiding behind it we later found out) and there were like 5 people just sitting in the living room chatting. We kinda just stood there stunned because they were all staring at us. Usually at door approaches there's someone to talk to. It's hard to know who to address when there's 5 just looking at you. After about 3 seconds, the Mother-looking one said, "Pasense!" (Come in!). We didn't even say anything and we got invited in! Pretty awesome. Apparently she saw us try to visit the investigator the other day and was expecting a knock, but it never came (we'd already knocked her door before, but she hadn't been home). And that's the story of Rosalba. I'm really excited to see how she responds to the restoration this week.
We have an investigator with a baptismal date! Manuel. He's older, and awesome. Plus he talks slow, so I can understand most of what he says. He's been coming to church for about 3 weeks now, even before we started teaching him the lessons. He's really receptive, and already has lots of faith in Christ. He seems pretty excited to be baptized, and loves church. The only thing I think might prevent him from getting baptized on the 5th of January is the Word of Wisdom, but miracles happen! It's possible.
I annointed for the first time this week! One of the sisters in the ward, Sister Rojas, needed a blessing, so I had the opportunity to annoint. In spanish. Elder Camacho had to tell me what to say, because I had no idea, but it was a really cool experience.
One of the coolest things this week was being able to share Luke 2 and a couple Christmas hymns with a family that had never heard them. Maria and her kids are some investigators we met through the English class, or rather the last missionaries met through the English class. It was really fun to help them see for the first time the real Christmas story and the true meaning of it.
Anyway, hope all is well. I love you all! Talk to you tomorrow. 
Elder Landon Willey


So right now I'm serving in the Medford Spanish Branch. My new companion is Elder Camacho. He's awesome! He's originally from Mexico, but moved here when he was 13. He's a convert of 4 years and is an amazing missionary! The area we're in is interesting. It used to be the area of Elder Anderson and Camacho, but since there's four visa waiters, they decided to just stick us both in the area as well, although two went somewhere else in Oregon. Elder Seitz (from my MTC district) and I are with Anderson and Camacho. In theory, Anderson and Seitz are taking the north and we're taking the south half of the area, but in practice we kinda just do both. There's only one car between the two companionships, so we're kinda limited in our travel. We had a couple bikes we were riding, but Elder Camacho's broke on Thursday (I borrowed Elder Anderson's). I'm not very good at riding bikes. But I only crashed once!
The branch is pretty tiny. Only about 40 actives. We do a lot of work with inactives. There's no ward mission leader, because he quit, but the branch president is awesome with a huge focus on missionary work!

Elder Camacho and Elder Willey at Zone Conference
So tracting is interesting. My first house with with a woman named Juanita. She was on the phone and didn't really want to talk to us, but we left her with a pamphlet. The next house was Roberto. We tract in English, but if they look like they speak Spanish, we ask. Most lessons we teach end up being in Spanglish. It's kinda how the Spanish people talk here. With Roberto he tried using the excuse "My English isn't good," but that doesn't work with us. I listened to Elder Camacho as he pretty much taught the first lesson, then introduced the Book of Mormon. I bore my testimony of that and we left him with a copy. He wasn't home when we went back, but I'm excited to check up on him! I've also seen the bad side of tracting. I haven't been sworn at like Elder Seitz and Anderson yet (but I have had some other words thrown at me), but there was one guy that just shut the door as soon as I said "Missionaries." There was also one time when we tracted into an old folks home (not that it looked like one). We shared a message and left them a book of Mormon, but we're not going back because I think they're past the point of comprehension. It was still kinda cool.
So investigators/ lessons. Talia was the one with a baptismal date when I came. Something I wasn't prepared for in the MTC - kids. They're nuts! It's almost impossible to teach a lesson when there are kids distracting the investigator every three seconds. It's loco. Talia decided she didn't want to be baptized unless she was baptized in a river. We have another appointment tonight. I'm hoping we can help her understand why sooner is better.
The Torres family is less active. We had a lesson with them, too. I didn't understand much of that one. With Talia, she would flip flop back and forth between languages, so I could keep up okay. Not so with the Torres. Plus they talk really, really fast. It was cool - we taught them about missionarywork, which they're already doing. I never would have guessed they were less actives with the testimonies they bore. Funny thing that I'm learning about less actives -- most still have a strong testimony of the gospel even though they don't come to church. When they bore their testimonies, I didn't understand hardly anything, but I felt the Spirit, which was pretty cool.
Maria is another one we have. They found her through the English class we have every Tuesday. It was during her lesson that I learned just how reluctant hispanic people are to turn off the TV, and how distracting it is. She fed us really well though! It was unexpected. She just told she was making food, and that we needed to eat. So we had two dinners that night - one with her, one with members. The members provide dinner every night here.
President Young told us to expect miracles, and it happens. Here's a couple of my favorites from this week. Here's one. We came back from a dinner appointment and got dropped off in the area where we were going to teach. The people weren't home, but we really needed to use the bathroom. We tried the ZL's appartment, but they weren't around, so we ended up going to a Dairy Queen. Unfortunately, it was for patron use only. It wouldn't have been a huge deal to just buy something small, but as we walked in, a Mormon couple was just walking out, saw that we were missionaries, and insisted on buying us something. It was really awesome. What are the odds of that timing? Here's another fun timing one. Elder Anderson and I were on an exchange tracting having absolutely no luck. I was starting to wonder why we were even tracting that heavily white area when a car pulled up. It was another member - Brother Warr - who just happened to be the home teacher of one of the less active families that Elder Anderson had been praying to know how to help. Had we decided not to tract that street, or skip a few more houses, we would have gone past the intersection, Brother Warr would have turned, and he never would have seen us. Even though we didn't have any success tracting that street, there was a purpose for it. We talked to him and set up a lesson with this family. I wasn't there for the lesson, but I heard it went really well and that there's a lot of hope for getting that family back to church.
One other cool experience I had was with service. Another companionship called us and asked for help cleaning out a garage of a lady they found, since they had another appointment to go to. We weren't doing anything in particular, and with the four of us the couple was so grateful for the help. They loved it so much that they bought us all pizza. During lunch, we talked to them about what makes the church different. They'd just become unhappy with their church for the last 50 years since the leadership changed, and are in prime position to hear the gospel. Elder Camacho told his conversion story, and the Spirit was really strong. The elders for that area stopped by later that night to see how it went and they wanted to hear the discussions!
So that's really all I've got. A couple just FYI things - My luggage locks are no longer on my suitcase. I guess they weren't so TSA approved after all. Also, I really hate telling people I'm from Utah. So tempted to just say I'm from Bakersfield - I just don't have the experience to back it up. They always act so interested when they hear Sacramento or Montana, but you say Salt Lake area and they just go, "Okay. Another Utah one."
Anyway, that's all I have time for. I'm not really sure how pictures work on this machine, so I'll see if I can ask someone between now any next Monday. Love you all!

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