N's email 6/29/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

This week was great. I'm so grateful to be out of the city. Don't get me wrong, the city is great too, there's always people to talk to and we don't have to drive 30 minutes to get from one small town to the next, but I've missed the country. The big trees surrounding fields that almost go on forever with the occasional house or small town to let you know you're not entirely alone. I love how the towns here are old too, just like Placerville. Except there's no mountains, anywhere.

Since Elder Kohler and I got white washed into the Jennings area we spent most of this week just trying to meet their investigators but we haven't had too much luck with that. So we also found some new people to teach and got to know the towns. We're also running short on miles so we've spent all our time in Jennings and Welsh. We're hoping to move to Welsh next week so that'll be nice because right now we have to drive 20 miles just to get to our area.

The Crowley elders had a baptism on Saturday for Gaige. He's 19 and absolutely loves the missionaries! Elder Kohler found and taught him when he was in Crowley, so it was an awesome experience for him. I gave the talk (short speech) about baptism during the service, I'll send a copy of it. It was a great baptism though. He said he knew the Church was true ever since the first lesson when they asked him "Do you believe God is the same yesterday, today, and forever?" He replied in the affirmative so they taught him how just like in times of old God has called a prophet to show His love for His children. After that he knew the Church was true.

I love Louisiana! It's super green! There's definitely Southern Hospitality here. Quick story, we were biking through Welsh and we saw some people outside a house so we rode over to introduce ourselves and invite them to come unto Christ. As we pulled up we said who we were and the guy laughed at us and said "You're in heavy Catholic territory around here. You better just get on going and find somewhere where you'll have some better luck." And I don't think he meant another street or town but another state... Then we started to reply to that when his wife started blasting the music and shook her head at us, but we kept right on going. We cleared up some of this man's misunderstandings about us and as we did so his wife turned down the music, then turned it off, then walked over and joined us. They thanked us for coming by but said they're comfortable in their church. The wife shook our hand and said "it was wonderful to meet you, and I'm sorry for being so disrespectful earlier." I love it here!

I love all of you! But I love Jesus Christ more. And this is where He wants me. So this is where I want to be.

Talk on Baptism:
To start off I would like to share a couple of stories, one from the Book of Mormon and one from the Holy Bible.

Alma the Elder Mosiah 18:8-11 & 16 (204 souls)
verse 10 says we make covenants, or promises, at baptism. They are to take Jesus Christ's name upon us, keep His commandments, and always remember Him. He promises us that the Holy Ghost will always be with us in return.

But what if we make a mistake after baptism? Each week we partake of the sacrament, and we make these same promises so that we can continue to repent and be made clean weekly.

Jesus Christ's Baptism Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus walked 60 miles to be baptized by John the Baptist who held the authority from God to baptize. Although today Gaige didn't need to walk 60 miles to get baptized, he has come a long ways spiritually to get here. He is here because the missionaries and the Holy Ghost have helped him develop a stronger faith in Jesus Christ so he could repent of their past transgressions. Gaige is here now because he wants to complete that repentance process and become totally clean through baptism.

A quick story about authority Joseph Smith-History 1:68-73
When Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon a man named Oliver Cowdrey was the scribe, or wrote down the words that Joseph Smith spoke. When they got to 2 Nephi chapter 31, which talks about why Jesus Christ was baptized, Oliver Cowdrey asked, "How are we supposed to be baptized?" Joseph Smith replied, "I don't know." So they decided to go ask God directly. They went to the woods, like Joseph Smith had on a previous occasion, and began to pray and ask their question. As they did so, John the Baptist appeared to them and answered their question. He told them they needed proper priesthood authority, then gave them that authority and commanded them to go baptize each other.

Gaige is here now because he believes this to be true, and that this authority has been passed down from generation to generation to Brother Trichell who is performing the baptism today. Gaige, pay close attention to the feelings you have before and after your baptism. As you do so you will feel a difference in your heart, I promise you will feel clean. And each week you can feel this same feeling as you participate in the sacrament worthily.

Gaige, remember this day forever because in a few minutes you will walk through the gate of baptism that allows you on the straight and narrow path that leads to Eternal Life. This isn't the only gate on that path though, there are many gates you will need to walk through. You'll walk through the second gate when you are confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and receive the Holy Ghost. The rest of the gates will be opened and you'll walk through them later on as you attend the temple of God and receive all the gifts and blessings that your Heavenly Father has in store for you.

Remember to endure to the end. The end of my talk. The end of today. The end of this life, and then on into eternity. And in Revelations 21:6 we learn that one of Jesus Christ's names is "the End." So "endure to Jesus Christ."

In the name of Jesus Christ amen.

N's email 6/23/2015

area: Jennings Branch (Crowley, Louisiana)
zone: Orange
companion: Elder Kohler

I'm in Louisiana! Jennings to be more specific. I've left the city and come to the country. It's super green here. And Main Street in Crowley reminds me of Placerville Main street. (We live in Crowley for now because the apartment in Jennings was not a good environment so now we're waiting for the Church to find a new apartment in Jennings for us. For the time being we have to drive 20 miles to get to our area… )
My new companion is Elder Kohler. He's been out 3 transfers (18 weeks). We were white-washed into this area, meaning we are both new, but Elder Kohler's last area was Crowley which is in the same branch, so he already knows the branch members and a lot of the area. I'm also a district leader now, meaning I get to serve not only the people of my area, but also the 4 missionaries in the Jennings Branch.

Last week was a lot of fun. It rained, nonstop, for 6 days. It never flooded where I was though. We taught an awesome young couple named Corey and Amanda. We also helped Sister Obu (her husband is a member who joined the church when he was a teenager living in Nigeria) understand what she needed to do to prepare for baptism and she accepted July 26 as the date she'll get baptized, so I'll get to go back to Baytown for that.

We said goodbye to all the ward members. I'm going to miss Brother Files (he's the ward mission leader or the guy to looks after the missionaries serving there and helps them coordinate efforts with the ward.
I'm going to miss that area. I'll miss Elder Leftwich too. He's got such a strong desire to be a good guy. He strives to do his best.

I'm looking forward to getting a bunch of exciting stories from Louisiana! I love being a missionary!

I love all of you. But I love Jesus Christ more. And this is where He wants me to be. So this is where I want to be.

N's pictures from Transfer #5 - Baytown / Leftwich - 5/12/2015 to 6/23/2015

area: Baytown Ward, Houston Texas East Stake
zone: Pasadena
companion: Elder Leftwich

entering THE Mission 5/11/2015

leaving THE Mission 5/13/2015

missionares' iPads

Pasadena Zone Conference 6/15/2015
(Elder Combrink and Elder Leftwich on back row far left)

Orange Zone

Beaumont Zone

(Elder Noall back row 7th from right)

(Elder Hobbs back row 2nd from left)

N's quick email on 6/23/2015:
We're getting flushed
which means both Elder Leftwich and I are getting transferred.
They're putting sisters in our area
so we've been spending the past couple days
deep cleaning the apartment from years worth of young men.
I am going to be a district leader in my new area.
Still not a trainer though.
I'm glad I don't have to be new to both at the same time.
I'll write a better email tomorrow.

 entering THE Mission 6/22/2015

 leaving THE Mission 6/24/2015