“IF There is ANYTHING Virtuous, Lovely, or of Good Report or Praiseworthy, We SEEK After These Things.”

Hello Y’all!

This is Elder Runyan here! We had such a great week! I would first like to recap the messages shared in the mission tour with Elder LeGrand R Curtis Jr. and his wife on Friday!

Before the conference, I asked God in prayer that I would receive an answer from the speakers about making my study and planning times more effective. I have no doubt God answered this prayer! The first thing Elder Curtis talked about was how to gain additional layers of testimony, (he used the analogy of a testimony lasagna,) through very prayerful study of the Book of Mormon. He recited Elder McKonkie’s promise that we can gain a testimony of it by reading it all the way through and praying after each chapter to ask “Is this the work of man or the work of God?” or maybe even doing the same thing with each verse of one of the great chapters of the Book of Mormon. He then asked us what we thought were some of those chapters. Almost everybody raised their hand! We talked about many different chapters and he had something to say about each one! This was an answer to my prayer because I learned that basing my study on building a foundation on the Book of Mormon will make me a much more effective missionary!

I want to extend this challenge to all of you! Read a great chapter of the Book of Mormon and pray after each verse to ask if it’s the word of God or of man. You can also pray after each chapter with the same question while reading the whole book. The former challenge is guaranteed to testify to you the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon. Here is a list of the great chapters we decided on with Elder Curtis as well as some of my own additions:

Something else that really stuck out to me during the conference was Sister Weed’s address to us. Since half of our missionaries will be leaving by the end of the summer, she decided to speak on enduring to the end which she also applied to serving diligently as missionary while we are still here. She did a very close evaluation of the 13th Article of Faith as it pertains to Philippians 4:8.

She gave the dictionary definition of three words (I don’t remember it perfectly):
IF= supposing any circumstances
ANYTHING= Any person, object, idea, etc..
SEEK= deliberately strive and desire

Rewritten, it looks something like this:

“Supposing any circumstances providing there is any person, object, idea, etc… which is virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we deliberately strive and desire after these things.”

President and Sister Weed are so inspired! She encouraged us to make this statement a motto for our life. Do not follow after the fleeting pleasures of sin; deliberately strive and desire things that are virtuous, lovely, and so forth.

Thank you so much for all your prayers and the wonderful things you do! I’d say more, but I have little else to report on.
Stay blessed!
Elder Samuel Runyan

I’m Becoming More Comfortable Talking to People!


What a crazy week this has been! Elder Byrd fell sick on Monday night, and we were cooped inside on Tuesday and Wednesday. That kind of inactivity can drive a missionary insane, so I spent a lot of time doing things that needed to be done around the house; made calls, and did a lot of personal study. I took this as an opportunity to look inside, and turn to God for answers to some of the deeper matters of my soul, about enduring to the end. I felt a very distinct answer, and an admonition to read my patriarchal blessing. I did so very thoughtfully, and it provided more answers to my questions that I hadn’t considered before. Looking back on the week, I can see my study journal is full of very valuable insight, specifically for me.
I have also learned so much about being an effective missionary from those around me. I want to recognize a wonderful ward missionary, named Evan, who told me early in the week, “You don’t need to sacrifice what isn’t needed,” which helped me to feel more confident in my efforts then later in the week. As he was helping us exchange back with the Yorktown elders, he showed his great example of being willing to talk to everyone. We were doing yard work for one of the Yorktown elders’ investigators, and he saw that we could use a hammer. Faithfully, he went door to door, undeterred by the awkwardness, and asked everyone if they had a hammer we could borrow and if they would like to meet us! He came back in a few minutes, with a woman who told us this was the strangest thing anyone had asked of her. To which he responded, “I’m just not afraid to talk to people!” The woman showed appreciation for what we were doing and showed interest in meeting the missionaries again to give them more service to do!
I’m becoming more comfortable talking to people! We have talked to just about everyone we see every day! I am starting to feel such a greater love for people! Something which confirms something I read in my patriarchal blessing. Read here for more information on Patriarchal Blessings I am really learning to follow Jesus’ example by becoming a servant!
Just so you all know, I am still a huge nerd! Elder Byrd and I have some Legend of Zelda music which we listen to sometimes, and we love to connect with people we meet who have similar intersts! (We even got the Breath of the Wild soundtrack from Elder Byrd’s little brother!)
Have a great summer!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

2 Nephi 2:25 Adam fell that men might be; and men are, that they might have joy.

Exodus 3:16 (footnote b) – study material on God visiting His children
(I included a picture of some spaghetti I made which I was proud of because I put some sauteed onions and mushrooms in)

Calm Down Elders!

This was a busy week! I have some pictures I think, but I left my camera behind.

I heard this was graduation week for y’all in Folsom! Congratulations to Sara and all y’all who graduated! This is a big step in your life! Be willing to embrace the changes that will push you to be an active member of society and help you to draw closer to God. It’s only been a year since I’ve graduated, and a lot has changed since that time. It is a good thing! I also want to recognize those who have given their lives for this great country in honor of Memorial Day. I found very hopeful verses in the Book of Mormon for those who have given their lives in such a way (Alma 24:19, 27:12).
This week, we met with several families in the ward to invite them to invite one friend to church this month. I have learned a lot about how to continue to do missionary work after my mission and I have learned a lot about how to really gain the trust of members and those you teach.
One particular learning experience was our zone conference on Wednesday! The focus was on Chapter 12 and 13 of Preach my Gospel I learned so much from this meeting, but two points I took away are that we need to actively prepare investigators to continue in the gospel after baptism, and when talking to members we need to show lots of respect and charity. Sister Weed smacked down on this! She gently rebuked everyone and told us we need to start every active member meeting by getting to know them; we need to remember their names and things about them; we need to be on time or call if we will be late; we need to set up lessons at least 2 days before; we need to be professional; and we need to be at church early to greet everyone! At the end, stake President Hamilton and his family shared their experiences and blessings from being actively involved with the missionaries! The daughter talked about how she would make CDs of appropriate music for the missionaries. If I may be so bold, I would invite anyone reading this to be more involved with the missionaries. Tell them about your friends, and ask them to follow up with you on your missionary efforts. Offer to help them (Don’t just ask them if they need help and let them get away with a sheepish “we’re good”.) Doing missionary work will make you happier! The gospel will make you happier! I have seen the difference in people that are more engaged and those who aren’t. Of course, in the end, don’t push yourself too hard.
I learned this for real this week. Elder Byrd and I had an awesome exchange with one of our zone leaders, Elder Anderson. He was a great example to us, and gave us the push we needed to be more aware of our surroundings and more willing to talk to people. However, the next couple days, I was getting discouraged. I wanted to be where he was, but I felt like I was going further back. In church, a member passed by us and said, I think, “You are working too hard elders! Calm down!” We were both very confused by this comment; Elder Byrd didn’t even hear it. Then, during Elders Quorum meeting, while we talked about acting on spiritual promptings, I realized that my head was too boggled with wanting to do everything all at once. I learned that I need to calm down and clear my head to recognize promptings better. The experience will come as I make little steps. I also remember a memorable quote from a Sister who spoke in sacrament meeting, “We don’t need to do a balancing act on the iron rod, we just need to hold on.”
Thank y’all for your prayers! I am grateful for all of your examples in my life!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
Galatians 6:9-10

9 And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.

A Wallet and A Crushed Cell Phone


This has been a week full of miracles a changes! We had our last ever zone meeting last Friday! There will be no more for now on. I’m pretty sure this is a church wide thing. We now have more frequent zone conferences (bigger meeting) which will include training from our individual zone leaders. The next zone conference is actually this Wednesday, so that will be fun!
There are also a lot of families coming in going in the ward because of the military, so the ward is gearing up for a lot of calling changes and things.
We also had a really fun time at Jamestown, but I will let the pictures speak for themselves.


Elder Runyan and Elder Byrd by John Smith Monument




Elder Byrd and Elder Runyan at Jamestown

Our big focus this week has been helping the members do missionary work. In our recent Stake broadcast, there was a huge focus on members doing missionary work. After that, the Stake President gave us a challenge to reach out to as many families as we can to help them fulfill the stake goal of inviting at least one person to sacrament this month. He is hoping this will spark a real desire for the members to do missionary work. Lately, we haven’t been able to have very many lessons with investigators, so this is helping us feel like we are really doing something here. Most of the members we go to already have someone in mind they want to invite, but just have to get over the initial fear of doing it. I don’t have any big stories as a result of this push yet, but I feel like this will make a big difference.

Otherwise, we’ve been walking this whole week. A lot of my pictures came from stuff we saw as we were walking; including the dead bird on the side of the highway. I do have one pretty cool story from all the walking. We saw a wallet and crushed cell phone on the side of the highway. It had everything including SS card, so we called our ward mission leader to deliver it to the address on the driver’s license. They were very excited and our ward mission leader had the idea to give them a Book of Mormon. They were very excited and said it might be a sign! The Yorktown elders are setting up to teach them now!

Yorktown Wildlife


Yorktown Wildlife


Yorktown Wildlife

Not much else to share, Thanks!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

Mother’s Day!

Hi y’all!

This was a great week! The work is starting to move forward! First of all, I got to call my family at home for mother’s day! It was fun to hear from everybody! I love you Mom!
Last Monday, we had a pretty cool experience going with a member, Alberto, who works at Langley to see the base! I didn’t have my camera, but Elder Byrd and he took some pretty cool pictures and videos of a 747 taking off, some F-22s and T-38s landing, and some other planes on display. I will attach those.
We also did a lot of service this week! On Monday, we helped a family carry stairs……. up the stairs……… (for a bunkbed.) On Tuesday, we helped two families in Langley off-base family do some gardening! It was fun, and we got our hands dirty!
Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday were all pretty normal days. We had district meeting on Friday and met our new District Leader, Elder Weber! He will do a great job! We also read a talk called the “4th missionary” which was all about becoming a consecrated missionary! I think it had a really good message about making your mission have a lasting impact on your life.
Saturday was full of excitement! We attended a baptism for one of the Yorktown sisters’ investigators, David. We invited as many people to it as we could even though we had short notice of it. We had some maybes, but nobody came; which is OK because it was a great event! After that, I had lunch with my cousin, Ben! He is in the Navy, and he’s doing great! He will go up to New York for memorial day parades soon! We also had a nice lesson with an investigator, and we showed a talk from Elder Costa in the last General Conference! Here’s the link if you want to see it!
Thanks to the Brimhalls, who let us use their home to Skype our families! It was a great conversation! The elders quorum in church also did a great job of relieving the mothers and women from their classes in 3rd hour so they could enjoy a Mother’s Day social! It was a pretty great day!
Take care y’all!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

Choosy Moms Choose Jesus


This is the week of transfers! Elder Byrd and I survived! We are both staying in Poquoson! 6 more weeks with this awesome missionary!
​​As for the title of this email. I got it from a random church billboard. I really wish we had those in California! They can be really funny sometimes! ​​​​​​Also, I realized I keep forgetting to write clever title to my emails, so voila. Also, I posted pictures of a turtle, and what we are now calling “vulture alley.” It’s a stream outside off-base housing were a lot of the fish went to die. Every day we went by there were more and more vultures.
I will be brief today.
This was a great week! We were on foot the whole week, since the sisters had the car and my bike is getting fixed (again.) This time a spoke on the back tire broke. Luckily a member of the ward is good with bikes, and is willing to help missionaries with bike problems! I will be honest, the work here is a bit slower on foot. Our area consists entirely of highways, and residential areas; there aren’t a whole lot of people walking around to talk to. However there are certain areas we can usually talk to a lot of people, and all the walking gives us the chance to be really excited whenever we see someone! I feel like I’ve become a much better missionary this week! I will share a few brief stories.
Saturday was a particularly busy day! We did service for a part-member family in the morning who wants to take the whole zone to one of the nearby colonial settlements sometime! Later, we attended a funeral for a family that lived in our ward until recent boundary changes. He was an engineer in the air force, and it was an honor to see the air force perform the ceremony. In the evening, we were walking to see an investigator, and saw him outside playing with his son! It was a nice conversation, and we gave him a Book of Mormon asking him to read it. As we were walking home that evening, a man waved us down and immediately asked us what our church thinks about Heavenly Mother (a less-taught doctrinal topic the apostles of our church have mentioned which you can learn more about at lds.org if you want.) It was an interesting conversation, but he agreed to meet with us again sometime!
Sunday was an area-wide broadcast stake conference meeting (I think it’s a new thing they are doing.) It was a great, spiritual meeting, and Elder Oaks gave some direct counsel about member missionary work. He said missionary hours are not being fully utilized when they spend so much time finding people to teach. Part of that responsibility as well as the responsibility of working with less-active members is given to the members of the church. The missionaries really liked that part! I’m not sure what the members thought! Later on Sunday, we met a man who had questions about our religion. We had a nice conversation and although he felt the Book of Mormon was not true the last time he started reading it, he was willing to “take another crack at it.”
Well that was my week! Hope y’alls was great!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
Virginia Weather

I Got To Play A Cello!


Elder Byrd and I have had a great week! Elder Byrd is especially awesome! This morning, we just had a zone p. day. A member let us use their gymnastics gym for a while; which was lots of fun! This is a great zone! The other missionaries are really uplifting and encouraging! All of our district and zone meetings are great, and I can feel the Spirit very strong in them!
So the highlights of the week:  We taught a newly returning, less-active member in our ward’s mission prep class; I had a great exchange with Elder Brown (Yorktown Ward,), in which we met a lukewarm bible-basher; I got to play a cello! (finally!), We saw some dead fish in a ditch!
We actually met the returning less-active member visiting her former mother-in-law. She was living in Utah for a while, and upon moving back here she’s decided she wants to be active again! She actually posted on the ward Facebook page to see if anyone had a cello I could borrow to play in the Ward talent show which was on Saturday! It turned out someone’s son had a cello he hadn’t played in 4 years. Even though it was a 3/4 size, it was great to play a cello again! I didn’t have any unaccompanied pieces on me, so I just printed out Prelude of Bach Suite I and played that. We were actually able to use me playing in the talent show to get an investigator to come! A member also brought her non-member friend she had told us about, so it was a success!
On Wednesday, we were asked to teach a segment in our ward’s mission prep class on the MTC and first weeks of the mission. We had previously asked the youth leaders how we could help with the youth because we want to help them have a missionary mindset. We ended up teaching the whole class and it turned more into a conversation of what serving a mission is really all about. That was a great testimony builder for me to be able to share my experiences and inspire others with the Spirit.
After our awesome district meeting this week, I went on exchanges with Elder Brown! I guess I had my first real bible-basher experience. A man was watering his lawn and asked us why we think we need the Book of Mormon to be saved. We basically went through the whole first lesson to help him understand why God needed to provide further witness of Christ. However, his question persisted; He simply could not understand why we would need any further witness than the Bible. We also explained that we are not saved by the book itself, but by grace and our adherence to the gospel, but he did not see the distinction. I could tell no matter how we explained it to him, he would deny us, so I gave him my testimony that the Book of Mormon was true. He couldn’t argue that, so he told me his testimony was that it was not true, but I could not feel the Spirit in his words. We left that man with a prayer of peace, and an even further conviction in our hearts that the work we have been called to do is of God. He did restore the fullness of the gospel to the earth along with the priesthood, and I know that is true!
Well, I just want to let y’all know that I pray for you, and I am deeply grateful for the people in my life who have helped me become a better person! Keep on being awesome!
-Elder Runyan
Baby birds are ready to leave the nest.
Dead fish in a ditch