Monday, 15 September 2014

Eventful Sunday

Monday 21st of July, 2014

So Sam got an unexpected call on Thursday, President Ahlander called Sam and asked him to be the district leader here, so he'll be staying in the Evergreen Ward another 6 weeks! His new companion is Elder Matheson, and they will be getting a car, so hopefully they will be getting a lot more work done this transfer.
So now Sam has to prepare district meetings each week, go on exchanges, call in stats, do baptismal interviews, and just make sure everything is going well in the district. It should be an interesting learning experience for him.

So yesterday was eventful. After sacrament meeting a sister came up to Sam and his companion and told them there was somebody who needed their help. It was a guy around their age (21), and he said he needed to get a ride up to Reno, and that he has no where to stay. He borrowed someone's phone to make a phone call, and two guys walked into the chapel and one said "Don't make us drag you out of here", and the kid didn't want to leave with them, so one of them leaned over the pew and grabbed him by the shirt and tried to drag him out. Luckily the bishop asked them what the problem was, and they started talking about how Hernan had beat up their dad and smashed their windows and slashed their car tyres. He started crying and turned to Sam and told him that he just needed to get out of there. So Sam took him into one of the side rooms to make a phone call with one of the priests, and Elder Matheson went with Brother Hirschi (he works for Metro Police) to talk to the guys who walked in. One of them said "We just want to talk to him", and pulled out surgical gloves and started putting them on his hands. Brother Hirschi told them that he doesn't care about what beef they have between each other, but that it was a church building and that there were children there, and he doesn't want them doing anything. They had some people from Elder Quorum waiting at the exits, since he wasn't allowed to leave until the police came. He asked Sam if they were calling the police, and he just told him that he didn't know what they were planning to do. The police came and talked to the guy who got assaulted, and Hernan left in handcuffs, he had a warrant out for his arrest. So that was a pretty exciting sacrament meeting.

Then last Monday, after transfers, they were giving Elder Denton and Elder Cease a ride back to their apartment. Elder Cease commented that the apartments on the other side of the road looked nicer than theirs. Sam commented that they probably get less black-outs than they do, and literally the second he said that, all the power went out on the street, the traffic lights, the apartments. It honestly couldn't have been timed any better!

Sam loves Elder Matheson, they've been getting along really well, they've picked up the work a lot, his last week with Ete they only taught 5 lessons, this week they taught 16. They've also been contacting a lot more part member and less active families as well, and have some referrals to contact still as well. So they're staying pretty busy. Having the car makes the work so much easier, they can actually spend more time contacting people, rather than biking everywhere.

Transfer Time

Monday 2nd & 9th of June, 2014

So they got their transfer calls, Elder Bowser is getting transferred to Pahrump. Sam will be staying in this area with Elder Ete. Sam sort of knows him, he was in his last zone, he only has six weeks left before he goes home, Sam said he will make sure he works and doesn't get trunky! This means he will probably stay in this area another three months, unless they double transfer him and Elder Ete out at the same time, which he hopes they don't do.

So after they've had success with their baptisms, their teaching pool is filling up again, they got four new investigators this week: Joseph, Juan, Kevin and Marcy.

Joseph is going to be moving soon, and he has some mental issues from drug abuse in the past (he's been clean for a while now).

Kevin is 16 and he's a cool kid, he has pretty good insight and understanding despite only being 16, he told them that after he prayed about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he got the impression that he would receive an answer, but God is going to make him work to get his answer, and that he will need to act on that answer.

With Marcy they had a really interesting experience, they taught a lesson about the Book of Mormon, and showed her the promise in Moroni 10, after reading that promise, she excused herself and went and got a notepad where she had written down a prayer she had given a few days earlier. It read to the effect: "God, please help me find the truth, guide me to where you would have me be". She started crying and the Spirit was really strong, she accepted the invitation to be baptized on the 28th of this month, but they invited her to pray about it herself to get a confirmation that it's the right time for her to do it.

Elder Ete is from Samoa, he lived in Seattle before his mission, he has five weeks left! They get along well, and they work together well also. This week has been a long week, they've been working hard, Sam almost burned himself out, he should be ready to work again by the end of P-day though :)

Elder Ete really wants to get at least one more baptism before he goes home. They tried contacting some former and potential investigators this week, they managed to pick up one new investigator, but other than that they haven't had a whole lot of luck finding new investigators, Sam and Elder Ete are going to start finding their own people to teach now.

Thursday, 11 September 2014


Monday 27th of May, 2014

This week has to have been the best on Sams mission so far. He had six baptisms, one on Wednesday and five on Saturday.

On Wednesday Eric Blodgett was baptized, and he was confirmed on Sunday, he still has a lot going on, but now with the gift of the Holy Ghost he should be better prepared to face his challenges.

On Saturday, Brother Tim Gardner was able to baptize his whole family, the spirit was really strong, and while Sam was standing next to the font as a witness, he started crying, just a bit, it was an amazing day. 

Helen Davis who gave up smoking and coffee was baptized also, and all the confirmations were on the Sunday. Sam had the privilege of doing three of the confirmations, he confirmed Helen, Bin and Jane.

This week hasn't been without it's drama and opposition however! Eric Laurence dropped them over a small misunderstanding. He doesn't like to be picked up from outside of his apartment, since he doesn't like people knowing he is not home, so instead he meets Sam and his companion outside of Jack in the Box before going to the church for their lessons. Well Sam called Brother Guthrie and asked him if he could pick Eric up from Jack in the Box, which he agreed, however he forgot and went to Eric's apartment instead. Eric called them and asked them to tell Brother Guthrie he drove past him, so they called Brother Guthrie and told him Eric wasn't at his apartment, and Eric calls back and tells them he doesn't want any contact, that he's tired of people showing up without calling him first. It was sad, but there's obviously a deeper problem than just that.

They had a great Zone Conference this week, a lot of great training was received. It's from 8am - 4pm so it's pretty tiring, but also really useful. Sam made a custom ring tone for their phone with Sam just saying 'Ring... Ring.... Ring....' and it went off in the middle of the last talk which Sister Ahlander was giving which was pretty funny.


Monday 5th of May, 2014

This week has been amazing, they taught 28 lessons again, they had 9 investigators at church, 6 are set with a baptismal date, and 2 more are progressing towards baptism.

Eric Laurence came to church. They had a lesson with him earlier in the week, about the scattering and gathering of Israel (it's fascinating to study, Sam and Elder Bowser had one of their best companionship studies yet), Sam mentioned that if he was baptized he could receive a patriarchal blessing and he explained what they were about. He responded "What do you mean if I'm baptized?" So Sam re-phrased the statement to say when he was baptized and he was really happy about it. At church he got up and bore testimony, it was an overall powerful meeting, the Spirit was really strong. They met with him for a short lesson after church and he wants to work towards baptism on the 30th of this month.

They also have Eric Blodgett who has been interviewed and is ready for baptism, he's been investigating for 25 years, he's wanting to get baptized either this week or next, they haven't set a specific date yet.

Finally there's the Gardner family, Brother Gardner is a member but has been less active most of his life, he is wanting to work towards receiving the Melchizedek priesthood on the 18th so that he can baptize his wife (Bin, she's Asian, and their three children Candy, Jane and Joey) on the 24th.

Helen is going to  be starting the stop smoking program next week, she's ran into some financial difficulty and needs to take care of that situation, but as soon as she's given up smoking and coffee she's ready to be baptized, she's coming to church every week, and she is really sensitive to the Spirit.

Also on a random note, Sam caught a lizard/gecko thingy outside their apartment, he called him Jeffrey, but he refused to eat part of his meatball sub or the half a grape he put in his box, so he let him go free the next day. 

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Weird Las Vegas

Monday 17th April, 2014

Sam was teaching a lesson at Mary Allen's house, she got her daughter back from CPS, and has completely changed, if you could see her now compared to six weeks ago you would be amazed, the Gospel really does change people and bless families. As they were finishing up they heard a helicopter outside, she lives in a pretty bad part of this area, so it was searching around with a search light, and as they walked out of her apartment it shone on them. Sam wonders what they thought "oh, it's just missionaries, obviously they haven't done anything... keep looking!"
They had a new investigator named Michael come to church. He had a panic attack outside of one of their other investigators homes (Helen) and now he's living there until he can get back on his feet. During the gospel principles lesson he went off on a tangent about how he is Michael the Archangel and how he's a warrior. Then he had a random outburst when he was explaining what anger was. He also believes he can't die, but he'll give him the benefit of the doubt, he probably meant that he couldn't kill himself because he couldn't bring himself to do it. (But in other words, he is totally out of it and needs professional help).
Talking of insane people, they had a random guy walk up to Sam and his companion while teaching Zoa (they teach her outside her apartment). He asked Sam what his favourite scripture was, he told him about Alma chapter 7, and he started playing this pipe. He explained that he covers all six holes and blows through it, and it plays the tone of E. Then said he couldn't make the tone without the pipe, and that was just like that scripture. Sam had no idea what he was talking about. He then wandered off, and came back 10 minutes later with his hand painted blue, and pulled a song he had written out of his pocket and asked Sam to read it out, he had to censor it a lot, but it didn't really make any sense.
Then they had a musical fireside last night, during it Sam got a call from a guy named Anthony, he wasn't able to answer the phone, but he sent a text saying he was never going to trust them or any other missionaries again, that they betrayed his trust and told his girlfriend everything he said about her. They've never talked to her, and all she has done is lie to him and get him into all sorts of trouble. Last week he got jumped on by 8 people, who were then waiting outside of his apartment and he didn't know what to do, so they spent 2 hours trying to convince him to call the police, but he wouldn't do it. Sam ended up playing a game in the back of his planner with his 8 year old son Alex, who they offered to find a safe place for him to stay, but he wanted to take him back to the apartment where the gang was, he really needs to get his act together.
They got 5 new investigators this week, they should be setting some with a date pretty soon, they already have one (John Bolin) who said he's read the entire book of Mormon and is ready to be baptized on May 10th.


Monday 7th April, 2014

So this week Sam had my first baptism in this area, Mary Allen was baptized and Sam had the privilege of performing the baptism, for the first time on his mission! She has changed so much, and she is loving church, she's been fellowshipped well. Sam actually had to baptize her twice, her hand didn't go under the water completely the first time. Elder Bowser did the confirmation the next day, she is getting to see her daughter again, Sam is confident she will get her back, everybody is on her side.

This week has been another great week. They didn't teach anywhere as many lessons as last week (we taught 15 lessons this week). They lost a couple of days doing service. There was a sister who had her house short sold, so she had two days to get out. They helped box, load the U-Haul, unload it, and then box and load it again. It took almost two straight days, they got to leave a couple of hours early, but one set of elders were there from 10am - 9pm, they were there from 10am - 6pm on Tuesday, and most of the previous day as well. Sam and Elder Bowser helped pack up all of her food storage, there were tins dating back to 1991 in there. There was so much junk she didn't need it was frustrating for Sam loading 20 year old lamp shades, and 30 year old ultrasound machines,  just total junk she will never need.

They started teaching a man called John, he is a landscaper and just recently lost his wife. They talked for about an hour on two separate days, he told them about some experiences he's had in the past, and explained that normally he doesn't talk religion with people, and for some reason he didn't tell them to go away. He accepted the invitation to work towards baptism, they even talked about how he could be sealed to his wife in the temple, which is also something he ultimately wants to work towards. He was also telling them about how he is trying to find his purpose in being here, and said that he believes they are the reason and can help him find that purpose.

They also taught one of their members friends, Ash, they had a really good discussion with him. They are using a new style of teaching, and it was amazing for Sam to watch as he pretty much taught himself the plan of salvation. The fall of Adam and Eve is probably one of the hardest principles to teach without going off on a tangent, but he sat considering what he had just read for a few seconds and then asked: "Wait, isn't it a good thing that the fall happened? Why does everyone else think it's such a terrible thing?"

Double Headed Dragon

Monday 24th March, 2014

So this week has been interesting. They went on exchanges, and Sam mentioned to the District Leader that something bad always happens on exchanges. That day he got a phone call telling him he had to go home for surgery, and Sam got what is called "double headed dragon" (vomiting and diarrhea at the same time). He has never thrown up with so much force or volume before. He had eaten rice for lunch, which made for a really interesting texture when it came back up. That totally wiped him out for two days, so they're behind on their goal to teach 120 lessons this transfer, right now they're up to 35, they need to be up to 40 to be on track for our goal.
Sam also discovered a bed bug infestation in the box springs in the apartment, so they had to throw them away, that was pretty interesting, Sam has never seen bed bugs before. He finally found the reason that there was blood on the sheets every morning!
They talked to some people outside their apartment, her name was Jarene or Janene (I'm not sure exactly). She had just lost her mother and they offered some words of comfort and they saw them again the next day and invited them to stake conference. Elder S. Gifford Nielsen was there, and she had the opportunity to talk to him and he gave some words of comfort and counsel as well. It's really handy to have a seventy tell a potential investigator that they need to take the missionary discussions!
Sam also sang in the stake choir, it was really hard since he effectively had to sing tenor because the bass part was so high. He only got one hour of practice before they actually had to sing. The stake is big enough that it actually has to be broadcast to another stake. They got a text from another set of Elders telling them that the way the camera was zoomed, whenever somebody walked away from the pulpit it was zoomed in on Sam!
Mary Allen is ready for baptism, she will be getting baptized on the 29th, she has struggled with alcohol (I told you about her relapse last week), after she was admitted into hospital they totally de-toxed her and she has changed a lot. She is a lot happier and will hopefully be getting her daughter back shortly. They also just taught her a lesson last night about family history and temple work, and she accepted the commitment to prepare to enter the temple to do baptisms on behalf of her ancestors.
So one year tomorrow Sam was at the airport to leave on his mission, how quickly has that went by!? People say that the next year is going to fly by, and he is betting it does, time just gets faster and faster the longer the mission goes.


Monday 17th March, 2014

So this week has been a rollercoaster, the area is on fire, they have so much work to do, they had 22 lessons this week and found 2 new investigators.
The area is pretty ghetto, but the people are humble and willing to listen. They're working with too many people to talk about each of them, but the ones which stand out are Mary Allen and Eric. There's an area called the 'Sundance Apartments', it's pretty much the Byker of Las Vegas. Sam saw someone start their car by lifting the hood, pulling something inside to start the engine, then driving off, he has never seen that done before.
Mary is trying to overcome an alcohol addiction, it was so bad that she had her daughter taken away (back to England in fact!). She breaks down into tears a lot and tells them how much she misses her. They were teaching her the word of wisdom, and she turns to Sam and asks if they're ever going to give up on her. They promised her that they never would, and more importantly Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father never would either. They left her apartment with a trash bag of her alcohol, tea and coffee.
She came to church for the first time yesterday, she got a lot out of it, unfortunately after church, she relapsed and called the paramedics, Sam think she's been admitted, one of the members here picked her up and took her to the hospital.
Eric is carrying around a lot of guilt and pain from the past, he's really struggling to let it go, however they had a lesson with him on Saturday morning, and apparently two things which he's never done is let anyone in his back yard or in his house. They had a lesson with him in the back yard, and before they left they were invited into his house briefly. The next day he came to church, and Sam didn't realize that it was the first time he had come to church in 20 years! Elder Bowser says he can see something changing in him, so they're going to keep working with him and help him unburden himself of all the stuff that's happened in his past.
They also got asked to speak last minute at church, they got told about 24 hours beforehand so it wasn't too bad, a lot of people enjoyed their talks, they were on looking at others as Christ would.
They also had the opportunity to talk to some people who were trying to mock them, they responded with love and they didn't know what to do and just ended up walking away.
They heard there was a lady who jumped out of her car near their area and killed herself, there's also a ton of police cars here. This area is anything but "quiet" or "boring"!
There's so much work to do in this area, they're actually considering assigning another set of missionaries to their area to help out. It's only 2 square miles but there's a ton of people here, there's no shortage of people to teach, the ward directory is also 25 pages long!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Hulk Gone Wrong

Monday 10th March, 2014

So Sam got his transfer call on Thursday (they started them early this transfer!). He is going to the Evergreen ward in the Las Vegas Stake, with Elder Bowser. He will be staying in a four man apartment with Elder Blanco! It will be great for them to see each other again, Sam will also get to see him go home as he's only got 3 months left! It's a pretty big area, and yes he is still on his bike!

Sam is nearly all packed, he just has a bit of clothing left to pack, but he should be ready in time for the transfer meeting at 5pm. He has said all his goodbyes, he is pretty happy to leave though, he was really losing motivation in that area as he has just been in it too long. They've been seeing some success though, Samantha Norman told them that she has prayed and received an answer about the Book of Mormon, unfortunately she couldn't go too into detail since her husband was there.

Sam is glad all is going well with Amorie and that Maghan is making a good recovery, he said it's great to hear how much support she's getting from the ward.
He is excited and nervous to go to his next area, but he needs to be pushed out of his comfort zone, that's where the real growth comes.

He will be burning a shirt soon to mark his 1 year mark. He heard a story of an Elder a while back (not in this mission) that had the idea of setting his shirt on fire while he was wearing it, and then tearing it off hulk style. He lit the shirt on fire, but he didn't have the strength to tear it, he ended up getting 3rd degree burns and sent home, so Sam wont be doing anything stupid like that!

Sam has been studying the book of Romans, it's a great source of false doctrine, if it isn't understood by the spirit, or taken out of the context it was written in. They met with Jason for an hour or so, they didn't really bash, just explained (as politely as they could) that he needs to do a bit more study. He says the Bible and Book of Mormon contradict each other, but it's because he doesn't understand either book. He seems to contradict himself a lot: "It's by grace we are saved, not works, but that doesn't mean we don't have to do anything, we still have our part to do" (isn't that 'works'? just not the works of the Mosaic Law, which is the context of that chapter)

Exciting News

Monday, 3rd of March 2014

Sam thought it was such great to hear the news of Amorie Florence Mea Atkinson being born! He loved the photos, and he is so glad to hear everything went well despite the low iron that his sister had after delivery. She was 10lbs 5oz which is huge! He thought she might be a little more than average, but that was totally unexpected! Sam is so happy for Maghan and Chris! It's crazy thinking she will be just over 1 when he gets back, even crazier is that he hits his 1 year mark in just a few weeks, time has been flying!

This week they talked to the Normans about baptism, they didn't accept a date, but they are both thinking about it, they think it's her husband which is making her a bit unsure, she is loving church, and the one week she missed church (her 18 month old was sick), she read the lessons at home which were taught that week. They will keep working with them, but he is guessing he will be getting transferred next week. Sam has been in the Tule Springs zone four transfers now (by the way, it's pronounce too-lee), it's really unlikely that he will stay. He will find out if he is getting transferred on Wednesday if he gets a leadership call, otherwise he will know for sure on Saturday.

On Wednesday they had their temple visit, Sam said it was uplifting and the Spirit was strong, and he got a lot out of the session.

The zone leaders were talking about how they need to be unique to be remembered and earn member trust, so they've started doing a two part spiritual thought, and likened solving a rubiks cube to the Atonement. The members seem to love it, they'll have to keep thinking of new ideas.

They nearly had the police called on them the other night as well, it was just some over-enthusiastic neighbourhood watch guy, luckily the people's house they were visiting just happened to drive home at that moment, so it was obvious to him that they knew each other. Apparently some kids on bikes had been trying to steal cars. That makes total sense, bring a bike with you to steal a car, that way when you get in the car, you can leave your bike behind!

Today they started P-day at 5am, there's a game they started playing called Dominion, Sam thinks its great, super easy to learn and really fun. He is probably going to have to have a nap today some time to catch up on sleep though.

They've been doing a lot of less active visits, but in terms of finding new investigators they haven't had much success. They finally started co-ordinating with the ward mission leader how they can more effectively work with the members, Sam did bring up the subject about 20 weeks ago, but it was dismissed. Oh well, hopefully things will pick up after he gets transferred, the Deer Springs ward is a really low baptizing ward, the last baptism was in 2012. Luckily they have a great Bishopric and great members, so it can really get turned around if everybody gets on board with member missionary work.


Monday, 24th of February 2014

This week has been a good week, the Normans have been progressing well, her husband who was totally against the church has started listening in on the lessons, and he grilled some burgers for them when they went over for lunch. He is a really nice person, and he's really into gaming, so Sam just guesses he just gets touchy when religion comes up.

After Church yesterday, Samantha Norman asked them what she has to do to join the church, and wants them to talk about it tomorrow, so hopefully they can set her with a baptismal date tomorrow! She has two children, Krystina who has taken the lessons who they will invite as well, and Jessica who hasn't taken the lessons, but is coming to church and loving it. So things are going really well there.

They also met Jason this week, he goes to Canyon Ridge (which they refer to as the Great and Spacious building, or the whore of all the earth haha) and they spent almost two hours talking with him in his garage, he's obviously researched a lot about our religion, and he knows his bible really well, but they have disagreements on the interpretation of certain verses. He seems somewhat open minded, but Sam doesn't think he's going to listen to them. They will probably try a visit just to explain how everything comes down to whether the Book of Mormon is true or not (which they've already explained several times), but he seems pretty set in his ways.

Sam has been studying the bible more as a result, he is thinking of asking him what Ephesians 4 is all about, since he already agrees that there's been an apostasy, so that being the case, what are we to do? Just get thrown around by every wind of doctrine like it says? Sam isn't going to bash, but it's helpful for him to understand someone else's point of view.

There's also another family in their ward, there is a boy named Adriel who wants to be baptised. His mother is taking the lessons, but she is being taught by the Spanish Elders from the wrong zone, and the situation is a bit of a mess, so he will probably get transferred before they start teaching them.
Sam is surprise his sisters baby hasn't come yet as its overdue! He was impressed how he got to see a 3D scan, she has grown a lot more since he seen the last scan at 20 weeks! He is looking forward to seeing the real photo!

Transfers are on 10th March, he thinks he will probably be leaving, but he is getting ready for a new area. They've nearly visited everyone on the ward directory, there were 85 less active families when he got there, they only have about 5 - 7 left to contact, some people are a bit touchy and they need to work with members first before contacting them.

Sam keeps getting emails from random people as well, there must be another Elder Samuel Kennedy serving somewhere! 

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

All About Change

Monday 18th of February, 2014

So this week has been busy, they had their zone conference, it was the Tule Springs, Elkhorn Springs and Lone Mountain zones combined. The focus for this conference was on developing Christ-like attributes. They all had to prepare 3 minute talks, and then they just call random people up, luckily Sam wasn't chosen as 3 minutes isn't long enough to really say anything meaningful!
At the end of the conference, President Ahlander interviewed Sam and Elder Calderwood again, since their last interviews were only 3 minutes long. Sam had a good discussion with him, they just talked about some of the challenges of the work and what to do to overcome them. By far the biggest challenge is that people don't want to change, because it's hard - Sam said he wouldn't change if he didn't have to! haha. But that's what he is there to do, invite people to make changes in their lives to bring them closer to Christ, but not everyone is willing to do that.
Sam had a good experience about it. He was studying for a less active family in the ward, and he was pondering what they could ask and what they could teach. He decided to focus on remembering Christ daily. They visited them on exchanges, (Sam was with Elder Loertcher), and he asked brother Laub what he did to remember Jesus Christ, and that was like the magic question, he just told them his story of why he was less active and why he wasn't coming to church, which will make it a lot easier for them to work with him now that they know what his concerns are.
While on exchanges they ate at a members house, it turned out her husband forgot about valentines day and she was upset, so she prepared them both a plate of food then just left to go and babysit, so Sam and Elder Loertcher were left by themselves in the house. Sam thought it was pretty funny, they just ate, loaded the dish washer, and then her nephew came home and was surprised to see them!
Also the Normans, Samantha is really enthusiastic and is loving coming to church, she didn't this week because a couple of her children were sick. They also found out that her husband (who was totally against her taking the lessons, and didn't even want a Book of Mormon in the house) is now getting curious and wants to sit in on their lessons. So hopefully they will get the opportunity to teach him tonight!
Today was busy, they were going through their regular morning routine and they got asked to help move some more hay, so they had to bike to the place where they were loading it, but they also had their District Meeting right after, so Sam had to put his whites in his back-pack, dress in service clothes with his suit coat, then carry a football since one of the district leaders needed it, they then got a phone call so Sam was riding down the street talking on the phone, carrying a football and wearing a suit coat and shorts, it must have looked pretty funny! Those bales were heavy, it was hard work for him but it felt good.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Ward Update

Monday 10th of February, 2014

This week Ryan was baptized in the Waterfall ward in the Highland Hills stake, he is the 14 year old they taught the first couple of discussions to a while back. After he was baptized he bore his testimony to everyone there, Sam said it was amazing to see how much he had grown in the few months since they last saw him.
Samantha and Krystina Norman came to church again this week, and Samantha's older daughter came for the first time as well. They are getting a lot of support from the ward and they seem really happy.
There's not a whole lot else to report for this week, a lot of appointments fell through, and they found a lot of families who moved and never updated their records. 

The fighter jets at the air force base were flying really low doing some practice drills, they're really loud, and a lot bigger than you would think!
When Sam was a young boy he used to have a toy rabbit which he took EVERYWHERE, so he has chose a Jellycat Rabbit for Maghan's baby when she comes along.
Today it's 19°C and it's going to warm up to about 25°C later in the week! That's summer temperature during winter! People keep saying that they're in for a brutal summer, since there's been barely any rain or snow on the mountains, it's going to be really dry.
The ward is really good at feeding them dinners each evening, they occasionally have an empty spot if something's happening like a conference or something but the Normans have also started feeding them dinner each week, it's a good sign when investigators start offering you dinner!
Sam has to wait a week each time to hear any news if his sister Maghans baby is born as she is due on 15th of February, so it's especially exciting for him to check  his emails now!
Transfers are on March 10th, and he will really likely be getting transferred, he is kind of ready for it as he has been in the same place for a while and he is starting to have a bit less enthusiasm for the work. Sam feels bad for Elder Calderwood, there's probably not going to be a whole lot to do after this next month as they've contacted nearly everyone on the ward directory and most of the area has been tracted now. They might be starting to work with a less active family (the Jenkins), they're really friendly so hopefully that will start to go somewhere. Sam has been in the same ward since about September 22nd, so he's been there about 4.5 months and has about 1 month left.

Service, Service and More Service!

Monday 3rd of February, 2014

This week has been a fun (and a tiring) one for Sam. They've had a lot of service, on Tuesday they helped someone move, and they hadn't packed anything, the garage was just littered with rubbish, and Sam couldn't tell what should be kept or not, so he just threw random stuff away that looked useless. As they were helping them move, somebody else up the street needed help moving, so they helped them, then as they were getting ready to leave, they got a text from the Zerkles asking if they could help move 100 bales of hay, so they went and helped with that as well.
Then on Friday the Zerkles needed help moving 250 bales of hay, they helped and it was really fun. Each one weighs 100lbs, but Sam learned the trick of picking them up so it was a lot easier the second time. His shins are all scratched up now, but it was great for him to be able to do some physical labour! Their son (Vernon) is coming back from his mission on Thursday which Sam is looking forward to meeting him!
They haven't had a lesson with Martha yet, a couple of things kept coming up but they are scheduled for Tuesday at 2pm. She has some huge Egyptian statues with Egyptian writing on the bottom, Sam thinks they're really impressive! When she had to reschedule she asked them to promise to come back, they told her she didn't have to worry about them showing up!
Also, Samantha Norman (the mother of Krystina Norman who they've been teaching) came to church for the first time yesterday, she was really nervous, but the ward welcomed her really well, and she sent Sam & his companion a text later that day telling them she really enjoyed it and can't wait for next week. Their lesson was lesson 3 in Gospel Principles, about how you chose Jesus Christ to be our Saviour in the pre-Earth life, and they read from the Book of Abraham and Moses, so Sam was a bit nervous to what she would think, talking about "the intelligences" and seeing the facsimiles in Abraham, but she was answering the questions that were asked under her breath (she's a bit shy) but understood the lesson really well.
Also, Ryan who they started teaching, but had to pass off to the elders in a different ward, is getting baptized on Saturday, so they're looking forward to that!
There's also Todd Johnson and his wife who they tracted into a while back, something has come up each week, but he wants to sit down and talk with them next Monday, so hopefully they will finally have a lesson with him!
Sister Sams also came to church again this week, they will be visiting her again this week and help her along the way of reactivation. She's a great person and will be solid as long as they can help her feel comfortable and welcome at church.
Sam got the new Seminary Book of Mormon manual, it really helped with the Isaiah quotations in 1st Nephi 20 + 21, he feels like he got a much better understanding of the role of Jesus Christ as our Saviour and got a feel for His characteristics. The frustrating thing is he really can't explain it to someone unless it's by the same spirit he understood it, he guesses that's how Isaiah's prophecies work!

Friday, 9 May 2014


Monday 27th January, 2014

So transfer calls came this week, Sam is staying in Tule another 6 weeks which he is happy about, there's still so much work to be done! There are about 85 less active families in the ward, they have contacted or are working with around 30 families, so many people just aren't interested, lazy or just don't have their priorities right, however there are some great people as well, all it took was one visit to a less active sister in their ward and she came back to church. She's really nice and felt bad about missing their lesson (she had to go to the hospital), so she took them to u-swirl.

Less active work is just like tracting really, finding those who are ready to commit or re-commit to following Christ. Sam is not going to lie but says it's pretty frustrating when he meets with people who just don't "get it". But it's all worth it when people do listen and keep commitments and have a sincere desire to live the Gospel.

They've tracted about half the streets in the area and hoping to get the rest done the transfer before Sam leaves! There's also a lot of members there who aren't on the ward directory, it's surprising how often they tract into them!

Tonight they are eating dinner at the Freeman's, Sister Freeman cuts their hair but her son just had surgery and so she hasn't been able to cut their hair recently (as you can tell by the photo). But Sam doesn't want to go somewhere different, since he loves visiting them! Her Dad is the MTC president at the Preston MTC, so she tells them stories about the missionaries there.

Sam got a nice surprise last week, remember Daniel Black who he talked about a while back, who he tracted into in his last area? Well Sam got a text on Friday morning letting him know he would be baptized on Saturday! So he got to go to his baptism and meet everybody from his last ward :) It was a great experience, he has a lot of support from the ward and he has progressed a lot since Sam last saw him. That is Sam's first 'Tractism'

Sam thinks he's gained about 15lbs being on the mission, he is 155lbs now, and that's staying pretty consistent.

Missionary work is always hard, but in different ways. When he first came out it was hard since he had to learn to teach, tract, street contact etc.. it was all new and he was really nervous. Now it's hard because sometimes he just feels like he is banging his head against a wall. Hopefully the wall breaks before his head does though! :P
They received a referral, and he called her and spoke with her (her name is Martha), she told them she feels like most Churches are man-made, but feels like ours is true, since it helped her son out a lot. They have a lesson with her tomorrow at 11am so hopefully that will start to go somewhere!

Wednesday, 7 May 2014


Thursday 13th of January, 2014

So another week has passed in the field and a start of a new year, the time is going so quickly for Sam right now! Sam and Elder Calderwood are getting along great, he is going to ask President Ahlander to consider keeping them together one more transfer.

It's really warm over there, 50's and 60's which is really nice, he is wearing a short sleeve shirt!
This week has been a good week, they have got two new investigators, and have a few potentials as well.

There is a young black boy named Joshua who has been going to their ward every few weeks, and they went by his house to meet with his family, they taught his mam (Tracy) outside, and she was really interested in the fact there were prophets in America. They will be going back tomorrow with a Book of Mormon and hopefully Joshua will be there this time so that he can be involved as well.

They also went tracting yesterday with Jake Ludwig in their ward, in the ensign-story style, they were about to go to dinner, and it was the last house on the street, Elder Calderwood knocked the door, talked about families and asked if it would be something she would be willing to learn more about, surprisingly she said yes, then invited them in. That's the first time they have been invited into someone's house there and then for a discussion when tracting. Her name is Moreena (Not sure on spelling), and she told them how important her family was to her (she has photos of them everywhere). She is pretty young, around the same age as Sam and Elder Calderwood, and Sam asked her why she felt to let us in, she told them she wasn't really sure, just that it was Sunday and she was getting ready to go to church. So the timing worked out well, and she already has a religious background, so hopefully more will come of this!

They also had a cool experience where they received a referral from a member, and they went by his house and spoke to him for a while, he was a pretty funny person and they had a good discussion with him outside, but he wasn't really interested. After leaving they felt like they could have said something more, so they got a Book of Mormon and left a message in the front cover for him, with the intent of leaving it for him on his porch, however once they went back Sam just felt like they should knock, so he came to the door again, and surprisingly he didn't mind and accepted the book. They probably wont see anything from that yet, but it is a seed that's been planted, and it would have stuck in his mind that they stopped by twice, so hopefully he will start reading more from the right sources (it seems like he's read some anti stuff before). His name is Tom Garvey.

This week they are hoping to meet with Todd Johnson, Harold and Greg, the first two they tracted into, and Greg is a former investigator from a while back, he invited them back, but wasn't able to invite them in since he had been waiting on a call for two hours and had just got through (something to do with Obamacare, nobody likes that there, and from what Sam has heard, it's terrible).

Tuesday, 22 April 2014


Monday 30th of December, 2013

Sam and his companion got to speak at church yesterday, Elder Calderwood spoke about a day in the life of a missionary, and Sam got to speak about what the members can do to help them with the work. He planned the talk differently than normal, he wrote it out like a tree, so he knew what he was talking about and where he would move on, but the wording was up to him. So he was able to add a lot more personality to the talk than he could have if it was just written out. It was a 10 minute talk and wasn't too hard to prepare, most of his time was spent practicing presenting it, rather than what he would say. People seemed to really enjoy their talks so he is hoping they can start getting more referrals from members and have them more involved with the work.
They tracted into someone named Todd Johnson, he had met with missionaries in Mesa, Arizona 7 years ago, and has a lot of friends who are members, he seemed interested, and after they had knocked on his door, he came back out to have a smoke, and he started talking with them again, so hopefully something will come of it!
After their Christmas dinner, they did some star gazing with Brother Jeffers, the telescope they used was a 12 inch reflector, and was as tall as Elder Calderwood, they were able to see the Orion Nebula, the rings on Jupiter and its moons. Sam also got to use his binoculars which were designed for astronomy, they are 10-50's. Even though they don't zoom in as closely as the 20-50's, you can see a lot better since you can never hold them perfectly still, so the hand-wobble doesn't have as much of an effect.
One of Sams Christmas presents was a balloon sculpting kit. He thought it was really fun, he managed to make a dog, but he got the proportions wrong and it had a huge tail. But it's really fun and a lot easier than he thought, so he is going to become expert at it!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014


Monday 16th of December, 2013

Sam received some of his Christmas Packages! He thought it was a great idea what his Mam did for him, each day he opens up a present and inside is a part of the nativity, a message and a gift to go with that part of the nativity. Now he really looks forward to opening a new part of the Nativity each day :) He also loved the union jack socks and signed pillow case, he tucked his suit pants into his socks and pulled them as far up as he could before cycling to the other side of our area (just to show off his was British)

Sam and Elder Calderwood have started practicing throwing playing cards and they're both getting pretty good at it, but now their arms and backs are killing them.

He has also started working out for the last few weeks, he always needs the loo at 6:30am each morning. He filled a gallon milk jug with water and put it in the bathroom, so for exercise time he can give his biceps and shoulders a pretty good workout each day.

Sam has been doing a lot of work on the website, he has found quite a lot of work which has already been done, and he has also pushed back a few generations using family census records. It's really fun for him, however he only gets 2 hours a month to do it. Elder Calderwood can trace his ancestry back to Adam and Eve, which Sam thought was really funny finding Jacob, Isaac and Abraham in his lineage.

Sam also printed out some Egyptian stuff from the Joseph Smith Papers website, he is trying to decipher the Anthon transcript, it's pretty interesting. He loved how you can see the original papyrus with the facsimiles, he wants to learn so much about the Egyptian language, but that can wait for a short while!

He can't believe that he is coming up to 9 months in the field, he still feels like a greenie! He is really looking forward to Skyping his family on Christmas day! The missionaries are having a Christmas party this Wednesday and they're going to watch Ephraim's Rescue, which Sam is really excited about as he heard a lot of good stuff about that movie!

Sam will be having Christmas dinner at the Jeffers, and probably Christmas Breakfast with the Van Buskirks. The Jeffers are preparing to serve a mission in Portugal at the beginning of January.

Sam found It funny that there is a really obvious pattern which pretty much proves the opposition is real. As soon as you set anyone with a date, or commit them to baptism, anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. They set Leslie with a baptismal date, then no later than 1 week after, her boyfriends ex-girlfriend suddenly comes back on the scene, causes a huge commotion, Leslie says she wants to kill herself, and they gave her a blessing. She moved out back to her parents. This happens (nearly) every time someone commits to baptism, which is pretty funny for Sam to observe, but also a bit scary that Satan really does everything he can to stop the work from progressing.

Monday, 3 February 2014

Dish Soap V Dish Detergent

Monday, 2nd December 2013

Sam was blessed with success this week!
From tracting one street, they have found 3 new investigators, and an active family who is actually going to the ward he used to be in (Eldorado Estates), but should be coming to the Deer Springs ward instead. They also managed to get in contact with Sergio (who is investigating) and his wife Portia, who is less active. They have managed to schedule more lessons with Sergio, and Portia went to church yesterday. She was nervous since she didn't know a lot of people, but it was great that she made the step to coming back. Lastly, they set Leslie with a baptismal date of January 4th, however there are still some things they need to address with her first, so the date will probably get pushed back, but the goal of January 4th will help her progress.

Sam gets fed pretty much every night, occasionally there might be a day somebody doesn't sign up, but most of the time the dinner calendar is booked 3 months ahead of time. Some people even sign up twice in the same week. However, there are over 200 members in his ward, so there are enough families that they aren't burdening anyone in particular.

A few weeks ago Sam was loading the dishwasher, and he picked up a bottle of dish soap, but he didn't read it properly and he thought it said 'dishwasher detergent', so he started the washer, and when he went back into the kitchen 10 minutes later there was a big pool of foam on the kitchen floor and it was just pouring out of the washer. He stopped the washer, but the inside was just filled with foam, so they got it all cleaned up and started it again, luckily the next day it was all gone and it didn't flood again.

There is a family that Sam wants to help this Christmas, she's a single mother who is looking after her two sons, and her daughters baby, and her brother as well. She works two jobs but is barely making enough to make ends meet, she told them that 'Christmas is staying packed up this year', she has a 4 year old and an 11 year old son, so they are going to try and get some ward members involved in putting together something for them.

Sam and Elder Calderwood have both joined the ward choir, they both sing bass, and he is glad his companion knows how, since it's so hard for him to sing a different tune than the melody, he just follows him and the other bass (Brother Sampson).

English Weather in Las Vegas?

Wednesday, 25th November 2013

This week has been cold and wet, it felt like England again for Sam, but it luckily only lasted 3 days! Now the sun is out again and its melting the snow on the mountains.

Sam had a fun day on Saturday, he went on exchanges with the zone leaders, he went with Elder Frost in his area, and Elder Wilcock stayed with Elder Calderwood on their area. Sam had the car so it was nice to have the chance to warm up after walking around in the rain. The training is going well with Elder Calderwood, they've been tracting more, and they are going to try something called 'Inspiration Tracting', where they both pray over a list of the streets in their area, and write down which ones they feel prompted to tract, then whichever streets they both feel prompted to tract they will go and do.

Sam should still be in the same area for Christmas, as he will be training for 12 weeks, there are 9 weeks left of training, so unless something bad happens, neither of them should get transferred this transfer.

The work is picking up, they've been receiving referrals, and they tracted out some potential investigators, so hopefully they can get the ball rolling, the Tule Springs zone isn't a very high baptizing area, Sam is not sure why but he is not going to stop working just because of that!