One Year…Feeling Blessed

One year ago, I left my family in Utah to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. All I can say is that was by far the best decision I’ve ever made. I’m so grateful that the Lord has given me this opportunity. I don’t know much, but here are four things that I do know for sure: I know God is our loving Heavenly Father. I know he sent his son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins and overcome death. I know Joseph Smith is a Prophet of God. I know the Book of Mormon is true. I know these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Hace un año, dejé mi familia en Utah para servir como misionero por la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los santos de los Últimos Días. La única cosa que puedo decir es que esa fue la mejor decisión que he tomado en toda mi vida. Estoy muy agradecido que Dios me ha dado esta oportunidad. No sé muchas cosas, pero yo sí sé estas cuatros cosas: Sé que Dios es nuestro amoroso Padre Celestial. Sé que el le envió a su hijo Jesucristo a la tierra para superar la muerte y expiar nuestros pecados. Sé que José Smith es profeta de Dios. Sé que el Libro de Mormón es verdadero. Yo sé todas de estas cosas en el nombre de Jesucristo, Amén.

Semana 45: Rainin’ Mighty Miracles

Hola y’all!

Hey! It’s been about a month!!! Sorry about that. Been busy fighting off alligators and life-sucking mosquitoes 
🙈
. Well… I’ll be staying in my current area of Brazoria for 6 more weeks as District Leader! I’m totally stoked for that, I love being a district leader because things are just more personal. And we have some awesome new missionaries coming into the district so I’m just full of energy. We out in Bayyyyy City!
A couple things have been bumping lately!
Hilda!
Hilda whew. I’ve been teaching Hilda ever since I got here over 4 months ago. She was super close to getting baptized and then backed out an hour before. But now she is going strong again! We are actually hoping to go over tonight and help her set a new baptismal date. Hilda has been an amazing example to me of faith even when we have many trials in our way. She has held on so strong and has come to church every week for the past 6 months! What a baller. So please pray for Hilda by name! 

Elder Robinson!
Man I love my companion Elder Robinson. We get along really well and just have tons of fun. I’m trying to turn him into a workhouse out here in the hot, humid Texas summer. And it’s working .

Lots of rain!

There’s lots of rain. And it’s humid.

Exercise machine!

TENDER MERCY ALERT. So we went to go move this one lady this past week. Get this: Elder Saunders has really been looking to get some workout equipment so that I can come back swole in a year. Well, we walk into this lady’s apartment and boom right there is an exercise machine that could collapse and fit in our Corolla. I’m eyeing it the entire time we are there, just waiting to see if there’s any chance that it’s being left behind. Finally, we get to the end of the move. All of the sudden, she comes up and asks “Hey, would you like this exercise machine, I’m not taking it” and I literally go crazy. I pick that sucker up and chuck it in our car faster than a Hispanic worker leaving the plants in Clute on a Friday afternoon. I prayed for something that would help me wake up and exercise in the morning, and it came! Moral of the story: Prayers get answered!!!! (see Enos 1 for more info)

KAHOOT!

Hahahaha I discovered a secret. It turns out the missionary department doesn’t block Kahoot on missionary devices so I made a Kahoot on Teaching with the Scriptures for our last district council! hahaha everyone went crazy when I pulled it up, it was so fun. #ThanksMissionaryDepartment!
👍

Quick question! Respond if you want!

So I actually have a question for the probably 2.5 of you that are actually reading this. What gets you motivated to do missionary work? What kind of things can missionaries do to really excite you to share the Gospel? For those of you that served or have been involved with small (15-30 active member) branches, how did you help the great Work of Salvation progress? I’m not expecting to baptize the nations, I just would like to hear people’s thoughts. Feel free to email me back, I’d appreciate it a TON!

Well, other than that, I just want to bear my testimony of a special set of the Savior’s servants. Sometimes I wonder what it would be like being an Apostle during His earthly ministry. It must have been such a faith building experience to be right there alongside the King of Kings as He ministered to those that needed healing. Imagine the indirect impact of the miracles Christ performed. Imagine how He blessed those that witnessed the healings, casting outs, and raisings from the dead. The modern day Apostles have a special sanction that separates them from all other general authorities: they are to stand as “special witnesses” of the Savior. I invite each of you to study the teachings of the modern Apostles. Whether it be Elder Holland, Elder Bednar, Elder Cook, or Elder Gong, there is so much to learn from each of those 12 men. I promise that as you study their teachings, you will come to develop a “special witness” of Jesus Christ. I bear testimony that power has come to my teaching as I have studied the words of living prophets. I love those men so much, and pray for them. The organization of the Church is definitive proof that God has restored the Church of Jesus Christ in these latter days. I know that Jesus Christ looks out for you! Just… look for Him! In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Love y’all! Have a dandy week!
– Elder Saunders

Semana 41: Love My Mission

Howdy y’all!

MASSIVE DAMAGE done these past few weeks. Sorry I haven’t sent out any weekly emails, I’ve forgotten half of the English alphabet and so it takes a lot of work to write. Welp we remodeled our entire apartment today and so I don’t have tons of time. I’m just going to give a breakdown of what has happened the past few weeks.

Elder Robinson

2 weeks ago were transfers and I got a new companion named Elder Robinson from Chandler, Arizona. He’s only been out for 4 months and he’s taught me all about what’s happened in the outside world. It’s crazy! Tons of albums dropped. He keeps on quoting raps and I look at him confused and he’s like oooh that came out after your left. But for real Elder Robinson and I get along really well. We have a similar sense of humor and we just have such a good time. Literally my favorite start to a transfer so far.

District Leader

So I also got called as a District leader which has been an amazing opportunity. Our district is on fire right now in all aspects of the work. I love all the members of my district. It’s been so much fun and I actually want to share a cool experience I had just last night while on a call with the Zone Leaders. So the zone leaders are in our district so they account to me on how their week went, how the area is, goals for this next week. So at the end of the call I had an impression from the Spirit to ask an Elder a question about how he loves the people of his area. Since it’s his last transfer, he actually opened up and admitted that he’s struggled a lot with connecting with people especially with such a short time left. The SPirit filled me and I promised him that if he put every effort into connecting with the people, he would end his mission feeling like he did all he could. He expressed that what I had said was an answer to a question he has been asking the Lord. It was so cool, and I was grateful to be an instrument in that experience.
Meditation

One thing that I have been doing lately is when I have felt stressed, I have stopped and meditated for just 10 minutes. It has been a total game changer! I don’t do any weird hum chant or anything, just focus on having a clear mind. Elder Stites if you’re reading this, thanks for teaching me to slow down to speed up! 

Anyways I’m super happy with how my mission has been going lately. I know that the Lord is looking after me and that he is blessing all of you for your prayers. I know the Savior LIVES! He LIVES everyone! His hands, marked at the palm, are extended to catch you when you fall. His legs, pierced at the feet, take every step along side you. Look to Him, and He will carry! That’s my testimony that I would like to share with the world. I stinking love this work!!!!

Love y’all!

– Elder Saunders
P.S: Congrats to all my graduate friends! Let’s goooo!!

Semana 39: I TRAVELED TO CAMBODIA (not click bait!!!)

Howdy y’all!

I had a dream last night that I was the DJ for a dance back in high school, it was super dope. Anyways now that that’s out of the way, how’s it going? Over here in Brazoria, we just chilling doing missionary work and the such. Actually, we’ve been working hard to keep the work progressing. Something that bothers me is that a lot of people call this zone “exile” because it’s so far away from everyone else and because they say the work is a lot slower. But we are the only zone hitting out monthly goals, so we are literally just flexing on everyone. For any of you other missionaries that get sent to “exile” areas, don’t even listen to that kind of stuff. The Lord prepares people EVERYWHERE, EVERYDAY. Just go in with the mindset that if you are obedient and work hard, the Lord will bless you with success. But also remember that SUCCESS DOES NOT ALWAYS EQUAL NUMBERS.

Now it’s time forrrrrrrr theeeeeeee newwwwsssssssss.

Monday

Monday was super awesome, we got to go play baseball with our mission president Presidente Guthrie because our zone hit our monthly baptismal goal in March and April. It was super fun, after hitting around a little we played a game of baseball with the tennis ball. Our team was the Little Squeezers, that’s what Elder Perkins and I call Little Caesers and so it caught on quickly. We won the game because President Guthrie hit a walkoff home run, it was super clutch and just a good time overall.

Tuesday

We went around and put up some fliers for English classes. We then helped Hermana Reyes with her yard. While we were out walking around, we talked to this super awesome lady named Jennifer. She has tons of faith and really connected with the message we share. We talked with her about the Come Follow Me program and how it blesses the home with a Spirit not felt before. She is interested in learning more, and said she loved what we do. People down here are usually super awesome, I love Lake Jackson. We wrapped the night up by teaching English Class and then talking to Hilda, who is going to be baptized May 17th.

Wednesday

Wednesday we had district council as usual. During district council, we were told that the Mission-wide policy for music has changed: we can only listen to music that would be appropriate for sacrament meeting. Oof that hit me hard. Because I have a tons of missionary music like raps about the Gospel and parodies (like one of Justin Beiber’s “Boyfriend” called “Convert”). So I immediately deleted any music that wasn’t approved by these new standards. It was really hard, but one of the best lessons I have learned on my mission is when the Lord commands, DO IT. Later onWe met this kid named Kevin, he is actually the son of a lady we are teaching named Ana. Anyways this kid is super solid in the Baptist church he goes to, even though he is only 8 years old. His parents don’t even go with him or force him to go. He’s just been going there for like 3 years or something like that. But I’m praying he will be open to listen and come to church.

Thursday

We helped this one lady move and her house was kind of freaky. She literally had a shrine to Dolly Parton, had tons of picture of her son photoshopped next to Dolly Parton, had statues of her, it was actually hilarious. But she was a nice lady so it was all good!

Friday

Insert thoughts or feelings when you don’t have your….wait was that a squirrel? Those that know will get this.

Saturday

DUDE SATURDAY WAS TIGHT!!! So we went and drove up to a service project where we helped America Red Cross install free smoke detectors in a bunch of Cambodian and Hispanic homes. It’s literally this place called Little Cambodia right in the middle of nowhere Texas. They had a freaking MONASTERY here! Plus we met some super cool Hispanic people that were all from Guanajuato (think I spelt that wrong but too lazy to check) Mexico. It turns out they were all family. The best part of the service is that a bunch of missionaries from other zones showed up, so I got to see a lot of old friends including my trainee Elder Freeborn. It was really good to see him. There was this super cool Cambodian guy that played these magical instruments that I didn’t know existed. He was getting dang HYPE on these things.  It was soooooo lit. Anyways Saturday we also had dinner with the Stake President, call me fresh 😎. And at night, we found this cool guy from the Caribbean named Alex and started teaching him.

Sunday

Normal Sunday activities. Plus we had a General Priesthood Session of Stake Conference over in Bay City. It was pretty dope because they talked about missionary work and a lot of stuff I have been talking about with members recently in order to get them involved in missionary work in natural ways like just inviting people to things.

There is the rundown. Sorry I’ve been flakey on sending out weeklies, I honestly am too lazy to write out an email sometimes. Jajajaja así es. I want to hear from people this week though! What’s been going on in your life? What’s been bumping? I can’t wait to hear from all 3 of you that read my emails 😍 Welp, that’s it for today folks. I love the Lord, He has helped me become a tool in His hands. I want to invite you all to check out these DOPEEEEE new videos about sharing the Gospel that can be found in the Gospel Library App. To get there, you just gotta go:

Missionary > Sharing the Gospel > Come and See Videos.

Here’s a link to one of the videos: https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/study/video/come-and-see-videos/2019-04-0010-inviting-others-to-come-and-see-1080p-eng

The “Inviting Others” videos are honestly super awesome, I love them and know that if put into practice the Gathering of Israel will hasten.

Anyways, love y’all, have a good week!

– Elder Saunders

carson.saunders@missionary.org

Pics

1. A super lit Cambodian dude playing an instrument
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2. Elder Perkins has evolved
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3. This one is super random lol. I was going through some pictures from my Farewell, and found this one of one of my best friends, Elder Taylor “T-Dog” “Tay-Tay” “T-spence” “Pizza time” “New Jersey’s Finest” Spencer. What a hot kid. Love ya Tay.

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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