Semana 35: 8 Months!

Howdy y’all!

Your favorite Elder turns 19 this Wednesday! That’s basically the only cool thing happenin’ down here in what I call Beastzoria. Hahaha I’m proud of that one.
It’s been an amazing week and an amazing month! This has been pretty much the best month this area has seen in YEARS! SO that’s pretty dank. Welp, I’m just going to share a cool experience from this week.
March 29th, 2019
8:32 pm
Richwood, Texas
We walked up to the door of this trailer. With only one light on inside, we assumed that there was no one there. Knocking after 7:30 at night rarely goes well. So half-doubting that anything would come of it, we knocked the door. We waited. We knocked a second time. Then a short Mexican lady opened up the door. We talked for a second, and realized that she was a formerly taught person who was deleted from the system. So she and her husband let us inside and they let us teach them the Gospel. Sometimes you just gotta send it. Miracles happen! The Lord’s work goes ooooonnnn! 
Love y’all, thanks all for the birthday wishes. Have a wonderful week!
– Elder Saunders

Here are some pics

Semana 29: Prayer is Clutch

Howdy y’all!

It’s been a great week. The work has been a bit slow, but I have learned this week that it never stops. The Lord is always preparing people for the message of this Gospel. I have also learned of the amazing power of prayer. When we pray sincerely, we truly are communicating with our Heavenly Father. I re-evaluated my efforts in praying this past week, and I realized that I can be doing a lot better at making my prayers meaningful. I invite each of you to think of one person that could use lifting up at this time, and pray for them. Doing so will help them feel God’s love and receive the guidance they need at this time.

Monday: Have I ever told y’all how much I love bikes? Especially when tires get holes every two or three days 😀 I love it so much, it’s super fun to have to be late to appointments because my tire decides to die. Then, when we finally get to the appointment, it turns out that they aren’t even there! 🙂 No for real it’s not too great. After all of that fun happened, we just went to a Member’s home and had a noche de Hogar. They are preparing to go to the temple and we’ve been helping them get in the habit of regular study, I love the Romero family.

Tuesday: We went to a Member’s home and she gave us fresh haircuts for free (she was only available to cut our hair on Tuesday so we just had to take the offer). We also ate dinner with a returning member, we are also helping get her to the temple. She’s been struggling a lot with her children and husband lately, but we hit her up with a lot of cool general conference talks to listen to. Shout out to Bishop Webber for teaching me the power that comes from listening to talks from General Conference regularly 😀

Wednesday: We had district council. Then we came home and did weekly Planning because Thursday we had…

Thursday: Lesson Skills review! We went to the Mission office and had training presented by the Assistants to help ensure that the trainees have been taught how to teach. I actually learned a lot about how to be a better teacher, and Elder Freebourn also was able to learn a lot.

Friday: Wasn’t too big of a day, we just did missionary work a lot of the time. Actually did the most knocking that I’ve done in a while. Ya saben that we balled out at Friday night soccer.

Saturday: We went downtown and helped some dude that’s moving out. Throwback to when we moved this past summer. After that, we just did missionary work for the rest of the day. Just the typical.

Sunday: Yesterday, we had a really good ward council. We were able to talk about the people we are teaching, and coordinated a lot of good efforts. After church, we went and visited some members, then taught this homie named Draven who’s still in high school. We taught him about the Plan of Salvation, and he seemed to really like it. So I’m pumped to see where that goes.

Calling Home: To be honest, I did not believe the news about being able to call home more often. I was honestly very excited and I loved being able to talk to my family this morning as I was getting ready for Preparation Day. I can definitely see the benefits and blessings that will come from this new policy. I can also see how this new policy may negatively impact some missionaries and families if not used exactly as outlined by our inspired leaders. I look forward to having my family more engaged with my missionary efforts.

Anyways, just the typical grind. I know I make my life sound boring but in reality it’s the most exciting thing I’ve ever done because it actually MATTERS. No me importa how many times we get rejected, it’s progressing the work forward. I love this all, it makes me so happy to hear about tons of my friends back home getting calls. Welp, that’s it for this week. I love you all, hope that y’all have a great week!

– Elder Saunders

Pics

1. Moving a cool Bolivian dude

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2. Hermana Benton took my phone during device audits

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First 6 months report & testimony

Howdy y’all!

This email is going to be a unique one. I thought that it would be great to send out a report from the first 6 months of my mission. Just going over a lot of the great experiences I’ve had, blessings I have seen, trials I have overcome. So here is a summary of the past 6 months as a Missionary.

Transfer 1 – High School 2.0

Provo Missionary Training Center (August 1st, 2018 – September 9th, 2018)

Companion(s): Elder Andrew McCann, Elder Grant Johnson

Whew, the MTC feels like forever ago. Now looking back, being at the Provo Missionary Training center was a great experience. The best “real life” way to describe it is… It’s basically high school. The whole schedule, cafetería, drama, immaturity, and messing around is a lot like high school. When I first got to the MTC, I was put in a trio with Elders McCann and Johnson. Elder McCann is currently in the Puebla México North mission, and Elder Johnson is (spoiler alert) actually here in the same district as me here in Houston! The first couple of weeks there went by really slow. Just getting used to missionary life and the whole schedule. After 2 weeks, our trio got split up because one of the Elders in our district went home. Elder McCann and I struggled a lot to get along for the rest of the stay. I felt like an outsider because I tried to be obedient as best as I could. I learned a lot about the importance of obedience in the MTC. I messed up my shoulder playing basketball one day, and had to go to physical therapy for a couple weeks, which was a bummer. By the time I left the MTC, my Spanish was alright. I could teach the basics of all the missionary lessons. And I wanted to get out of there bad by Week 5. But it was a good experience.

Best moment: Heart-to-heart with Elder McCann. After a particularly hard day, I sat down with my companion and asked him this simple question: “Why are you here on a mission?” At first he seemed offended, but as I answered the question myself, we both started to tear up. I wanted him to succeed so bad, but it just seemed like he was working against himself. I told him the Savior loved him and NEEEDED him here on the mission. It ended with a hug and going back to work on Spanish. Recently, Elder McCann and I were emailing back and forth. He is serving in the Mexico Puebla North mission, and he just had his sixth baptism.

Hardest Trial: Being obedient. It’s very easy to fall into the trap that because everyone else isn’t doing it, you don’t have to either. That is a lie from Satan. Obedience is of the upmost importance, even in the MTC. It is really hard, and I struggled a ton with balancing being obedient with being liked by my roommates. What I discovered is that there is no balance: “Fear God more than man” is the simple yet sufficient solution to the dilemma.

Transfer 2 – Being Trained Part I

Houston 2nd Ward (September 10th, 2018 – October 21st, 2018)

Companion: Elder Logan Stites

When I hopped off the plane in Houston, I thought I was going to die of the humidity. That night, I met my trainer Elder Stites. What a legend. I love that man so much, he’s one of my best friends. We had so many fun times, a lot of fighting against the forces of evil, and tons of spreading the Gospel of Christ.

Best moment: Elder Holland. Elder Holland came and spoke to all 3 of the Houston missions. We were able to look him in the eyes, shake his hand, and introduce ourselves. His eyes pierced my soul, and I learned that he truly is a servant of the Lord. It was an amazing experience, I am grateful for the impact his words have had on me since.

Hardest trial: Adjustment. At first I thought I was doing fine, but after about 2 weeks I felt really alone. I struggled with a lot of dark thoughts and wanting to go home. I felt thrust into a different country: that’s basically what my area is. It’s heavily Hispanic, even the stores and everything are in Spanish. Even though I was still in the United States, the new environment, plus new lifestyle of missionary work, really threw me for a loop.

Transfer 3 – Being Trained Part II

Houston 2nd Ward (October 22nd, 2018 – December 2nd, 2018)

Companion(s): Elder Logan Stites, Elder Isaac Ledezma, Elder Dayton Underwood

What a blur. I remember that on Halloween we had district council but it was raining really hard so when Elder Stites and I got there, we were totally soaked in our suits. So we didn’t wear socks or shoes for that district council. That district council basically described the rest of the transfer. We went through a really hard time because of unfortunate circumstances that I shouldn’t get into. But Elder Stites and I stuck together and by the time he left the area, we were like brothers. I spent the last 2 weeks of the transfer in a trio with the other Elders of my ward. It was interesting to say the least.

Best moment: Juan Carlos. When I was with the South Elders for 2 weeks, we met this one kid from Colombia named Juan Carlos. He was living with a member for a few months to learn English here in the United States. This kid was golden, he is 18 years old so we were just like best friends. Then he got baptized like a few weeks after we met him. It was fire.

Hardest trial: Elder Stites’ emergency transfer. Whew what a struggle. It was hard to see my trainer leave the area early because of some external problems that were faced. I know that is really vague, but just know that the forces of Satan are constantly attacking us, and luckily Elder Stites’ was so strong that he fought them straight on for several weeks.

Transfer 4 – Training Part I

Houston 2nd Ward (December 3rd, 2018 – January 13th, 2019)

Companion: Elder Garrett Freebourn

Dang this transfer was difficult. I was called to train a new missionary right after training. At very first, I was excited; soon that excitement turned to being overwhelmed by the calling. I struggled to train Elder Freebourn. I didn’t have enough confidence in myself to help him build up his own confidence. I learned to rely heavily on the Lord during this time. Prayer was my best friend. Fortunately, things began to clear up as I was able to realize my purpose as a trainer and missionary more and more.

Best moment: Christmas Conference. At Christmas Conference, we got to listen to amazing talks by President Guthrie’s mission president and companion from when HE served his mission in Madrid Spain 20 years ago. We watched The Best 2 Years, the GOAT. We reenacted the nativity which was tacky but it’s all good. I ate 2 full steaks that were the best steaks ever. And we received our Christmas packages from our families! It was such a fun time, and made me feel a lot better in a season that was hard.

Best moment pt 2: Christmas calls with family. I loved being able to talk with my family again for the first time in months. It went way too fast and I am pumped for May when I will be able to talk to them again 😀

Hardest trial: The car accident. Three hours before the Perdomo family was supposed to be baptized, the dad’s brother (who is a member of the ward and was actually going to be the one performing the ordinance) and his wife were in a car accident. They got rear-ended and their car was totaled. It left them decently injured but really shaken up. The baptism was canceled last minute. That really hit me hard. It sent me into a tailspin that led to a lot of anxiety about things going wrong. Now looking back, I’m really glad I was able to learn patience and trust in the Lord through this trial.

Transfer 5 – Training Part II

Houston 2nd Ward (January 14th, 2019 – February 24th, 2019)

Companion: Elder Garrett Freebourn

Here we are. As of today (February 11th), there are two weeks left in this transfer. This transfer has been the best so far. A lot of things have been going right, and Elder Freebourn has learned so much this transfer.

Best moment: The Perdomo’s baptism. This baptism was such a special experience and brought me so much joy. I love the Perdomo family. When their baptism got delayed as I described above, it really made me worry. But the wait was worth it: seeing this family be baptized was such a spiritual witness for me that the Lord has a plan for me in this work of His.

Hardest trial: Being diligent. I’ll admit, this transfer I have always been exhausted biking for 6 months straight has taken a little chunk out of me. But at least I can now appreciate a car when I get one! But because I have been tired and sick a good amount, we haven’t been able to work as much. Yesterday we actually had a really hard-working day, and I am going to strive from now on to always have days like that. I know the Lord will give me strength to do what He needs me to do.

Wow thanks for making it this far. Hopefully you have had a tiny bit of insight into some of the experiences I’ve been able to have during these amazing months. I’d like to close by writing out part of my testimony.

I bear witness of Jesus Christ. He is our Lord and Savior. He indeed came to this earth, taught His gospel, established His church, and performed many miracles. Out here in the mission, I have developed a strong witness of His Atonement. I know now without a shadow of a doubt that he suffered, bled, and died for our sins and pains. As I proclaim His name, I marvel at just how far His hand extends to every soul in existence. Through Him, we are able to be made clean again. Through His Prophets that He has called, we are able to know the truth of His gospel. I have had my doubts, but as I have looked unto Him in every thought, those doubts have been swept away and I have learned to not fear. I testify that Joseph Smith was called by God to restore these truths. There is only one true church on the earth today: that is The Church of Jesus-Christ of Latter-day Saints. I love this all. I am grateful for the opportunity to represent my Savior, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Te amo,

Elder Saunders

Semana 28: Edify

It’s been a great week. Having to do service for 10 hours a week has made the work go a bit slower, but it just means that we get to be more diligent in everything else we do! Something that has been on my mind this week is how important it is that we are never content. I know that sounds like a recipe for frustration, but here me out. What I mean by this is that because of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, we can ALWAYS improve. No matter how good we think we are doing, we have to work harder to be better. And it may just be small changes, but we must always be progressing. Something that I realized is that whether it’s swimming against a tough current or swimming with it, we have to keep paddling to make it to our destination. We can’t control the current, but we CAN control how we interact with the current. Don’t float along in mediocrity; keep striving to become more!

Monday: On P-Day, I played the best game of basketball I have played in my life. Dad you would be proud of me, I was hustling HARD. We lost by 1 😦 but it was still a stinking great game. After P-day ended, we went and had a great member-present lesson with our Obispo (Bishop). Whew I love this ward so much, I think I’m going to be transferred here soon which makes me really sad 😦 We also stopped by the Relief society president and shared a cute little message.

Tuesday: We were able to go to the temple. It was such an amazing experience, I was able to really feel the Spirit as I was there. The Houston temple is really pretty, it’s not too big but it just is beautiful. The biggest takeaway I got from this temple visit was the need to EDIFY. Edify means to instruct and improve others. It means to have charity as you talk and work with those around you. I am really going to strive to edify everyone else. I know that the Lord will bless me for doing so, so I’m pumped. I’ve always had really sharp words, therefore I hope that I can do this to help make others feel the Spirit more.

Wednesday: We went to District council, where we talked a lot about our missionary purpose. It was a great council. Afterwards, we went to the mission office to drop off Elder Freebourn’s broken bike. After that we came back and studied. We were then able to go over to the Perdomo’s for dinner. After being baptized a few weeks ago, they have continued so strong! We taught the Restoration again (We teach all of the lessons again after baptism). I’m so happy with how they are doing. The Spirit is really strong in their home now. They are pumped to go to the temple next week to do baptisms for the dead. Anyways, after that we stopped by some more members. We are really focusing on working with members, plus they are like family to me at this point. With this particular family we always answer the door saying we are from a different group. I’ve already used the J-Dubs, Pentecostals, Immigration, and Solar Panel salesman @HunterSaunders. So I need some ideas for what else I can do.

Thursday: We helped old people learn Spanish at the Senior Center. Doing service at the senior center has been really fun, and the people there love us. We help out with a chess class, 2-3 Spanish classes, some computer classes, and a Spanish club each week. Anyways, after that we had a 3-hour long weekly planning session. But it was really baller and we got some good plans going. The mission has really taught me how important setting specific goals is. Thursday night, we taught the most dope English class. We taught about Houses and Rooms. By the end of it, we basically had our 3 students ready to graduate from real estate school.

Friday: Elder Freebourn and I decided to stop by a store to buy some lunch. This place was called Aldi’s. It is a grocery store but the building is like a CVS, Walgreens, or Rite Aid building so I just thought it was another one of those. Boy was I wrong. This place has deals out the wazoo! Like stuff here is so cheap, it’s amazing! But it’s like really nice! Brothers and sisters, you don’t know how big of a deal that is for a pair of 18 year Olds living off of $140 individually every month. So you already know that today (Monday) we hit that place up SO HARD.

Saturday: We got a call from some sister missionaries at the LA Visitor’s Center, turns out they had a referral for us through Mormon.org. We were super siked, because these kinds of referrals are super fire, they almost always lead to something great. Welp, we got the referral and it turned out that it’s the nephew of another dude we were teaching like 4 months ago but decided to stop teaching. And they live in the same apartment! So we basically got a referral for a dude that we already know. But we are still siked, we have an appointment with him tonight.

Sunday: Your boy Elder Saunders woke up with a stomach bug that made him absolutely destroy the bathroom. That was fun. At least I had my Spanish grammar book to keep me company as I was unleashing the wrath of the God’s. Because of that, we missed church 😦 It feels really weird to not be at church as a Missionary. Luckily I’m feeling a lot better though. I decided to suck it up, so at about 2 pm yesterday we left the apartment and went HARD. We found three new people to teach, and knocked tons of doors. And visited a couple of members, and set up appointments, and also helped this one lady with some yard work for 30 mins. It was awesome.

Life is good. The mission? Call me McDonald’s because I’m (buh-duh bah-bah-bahhhhh) LOVING IT! Sorry that was cheesier than their new Cheesey Bacon fries. But the mission has brought me so much happiness and so much growth. Keep swimming! Love you all!

– Elder Saunders

Also here are some pictures

Photos 1,2, and 3: Just your boy modeling in front of the temple
Photo 4: My son (trainee) and I
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Photo 5: Houston Zone Spanish Elders! Strongest force in the mission🙏🙌
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Photo 6: My new phone background
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Photo 7: A pic from zone conference a few weeks ago that I forgot to send out. The district + my trainer Elder Stites
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Photo 7: The squad + the Asian dude is an AP 🤷‍♂️
Photo 8: A picture of Joseph Smith that I really like
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Semana 27: No Facebook

Howdy y’all!

This week was a fun week. I’ll keep this email relatively short, just because there wasn’t too much going on.
Monday

P-day.

Tuesday
We had zone conference. It was really great, and we are starting a Facebook fast for 40 days in order to improve our use of that great tool. Some other take-aways are that things are getting in full swing for the 10-hours of service a week. It’s a really cool initiative.
Wednesday
I felt really sick so we weren’t able to get out too much.
Thursday
I felt really sick so we weren’t able to get out too much. We weekly planned and ate Chinese food.
Friday
We went and worked at the senior service center. It’s been super fun, we helped out with a Microsoft Excel class. I’ll take some pictures this next week.
Saturday
We had tons of lessons, some of them fell through, so we knocked doors. I love Hispanics, they are so fun. They always have mops outside their houses, and also these small grills.
Sunday
We got Ana to church finally after trying for 2 months. It was really nice to have her. Also, broke my fast with Ramen which was a highlight of the week.
Anyways, we get to go to the temple tomorrow so I’m pumped. Go to the temple this next week! Whether it’s baptisms or something else, go! There are so many blessings there.
Love y’all have a great week!
– Elder Saunders

Milagros y Blessings (Semana 25)

Howdy y’all!

This week was great! It was also pretty cool because my trainer Elder Stites was able to be with us for a few days this week. It was nice to have him back, and I’m pumped for what he will be doing after the mission. Anyways, you’ll notice I’m taking a different format for my weekly email this week. I know it seems extra, but here is an account of each day of this week. Hopefully this will help you all see the wonderful joy my mission has brought me.

Monday: After P-Day ended, we tried to get out working as quickly as possible. We went to a nearby complex to try by a few people. As we were walking towards the first door we were going to knock, a less active family whom I had never met before despite being in this area my whole mission, two people came up behind us. As we were walking, the Spirit said “Yo dude, those are the people you are looking for” SO I turn around and sent it. Turns out it was! They kindly let us into their homes and we were able to share a spiritual Thought with them. We will be working on reactivating them going forward! We were able to go over to a members place after and have a super bomb Noche de Hogar (Family Home Evening) with tons of members and also the Perdomo who were baptized this last Thursday (see below). I shared a message about Ether 12:27 which I guess made sense. But it was a good night! We ate Heavenly taquitos and chocolate cake. We also manages to setup some other appointments for later in the week.

Tuesday: We helped out with this service for setting up for the Houston Marathon. I set up toooons of chairs. SIDENOTE: My mission is participating in a pilot where, starting February, each companionship is required to “prestar”-(sorry I forgot the English word for it)- 10 hours of service each week. So that’ll be really cool to start doing here soon. We are scouring for opportunities to begin regular service. Anyways, Tuesday I also had a doctors appointment that took up a good chunk of the day.

Wednesday: Réunion with Elder Stites, my trainer and previous companion! Had some fun re-destroying our area together. We were able to knock a door and immediately have it lead to teaching somebody new. Which doesn’t happen too often. And that was the VERY first door we knocked that day. #milagros

Thursday: The Perdomo were baptized! It was such an amazing experience, they have been being taught for over a year now. They were supposed to be baptized a month ago, but there was a car accident just hours before their baptism, and as a result it got moved to the 17th of January. But what a cool experience. They’ve been through so much in the past few years, and seeing them enter the waters of baptism brought me soooo much joy. For any of you reading this that are considering serving a mission, DO IT FOR THE BAPTISMS. You’ll understand what I mean when it happens, and you’ll thank me later.

Friday: We tried to follow-up with some of our contacts without a lot of success but that’s how the work goes. I did get to eat some good McDonald’s chicken nuggets and pedal a bike that only had one pedal. My companion’s pedal fell off his bike rest in peace #rip.

Saturday: I was able to participate in an MLK March. I even got a certificate for it. No for real, we did some service helping with Houston’s MLK Honorary Children’s March. It was a great experience, I love how deep the culture is here. No matter what race, God loves all of his children the same. That was the main message, and boy is it true. The rest of the day we got schwhacked (pronounced shh-whack-d, basically means we got wrecked) by bike problems so it was super hard to be productive. Sometimes, it do be like that.

Sunday: The Perdomo’s were confirmed. I was able to stand in the circle for all 3, and whew was the Spirit strong. What a baller family, I can’t wait to be with them when they take out their endowments and are sealed as a family next year.

This week, I was able to have the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th baptisms of my mission. Words cannot describe how grateful I am for the opportunity to serve a mission. It has changed who I am for the better in almost 6 months. I know that mission will benefit me for the rest of my life. As I’m writing this, the hymn “I Need Thee Every Hour” comes to mind. We all depend on the Savior so much. Where some might see that dependence as a burden, I have been blessed to recognize it as hope. Hope for a better world, hope for a bright future despite the darkness that increasingly looms over us.

Family and friends, no matter how you feel right now, please look to the light of Christ. Realize what he has done for you. I BEG of you. With all my heart, I tell you that THERE IS HOPE IN HIM. I love you all, and may hope carry us through to brighter days. Amen.

Elder Saunders

Fotos!

– Perdomo’s baptism. The one kneeling in white is Hermano Fernández, Fredy Perdomo Sr’s brother that baptized them.

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– RIP Elder Freebourn’s bike pedal

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– Just your boy looking fly in downtown Houston. This was Tuesday after doing the service for the Houston Marathon. PC: Elder Freebourn

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Enjoying some comida with awesome members and missionaries:

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Happy Thanksgiving

It has been quite a week. I have learned a lot this week about patience and staying focused. Although transfers weren’t this past week I have had a change in companions. I am now in a trio with another companionship in our ward, so I’ll still be able to work with our investigators up here. This is important so we can continue to keep the area alive. President let me know that I’m going to take over the area next transfer. This is such a blessing as we have 3 baptisms planned and the work is going good. I am so blessed to serve and receive so many blessings on my mission. The Lord is mindful of each of us and our situations. If we have faith and then do what we are supposed to He will provide miracles and blessings. This I can testify to.

Thanks for all the continued love and support. Happy Thanksgiving!

Elder Saunders

Photos
1- The district (minus hermanas)
2- Ward Thanksgiving party!