Snow is the Best!

We woke up on Wednesday morning to check the forecast on our phone, like we do occasionally. It had been pretty cold the past week and the lakes were starting to freeze over, so we wanted to know how warmly to dress. It said “mostly cloudy skies with a calm breeze and in the 30s. We didn’t expect anything more so we were surprised to see snow that afternoon. Someone wanted to cancel an appointment because they wanted to prepare for the “storm” We checked the forecast again and still nothing about a storm or even snow! Of course we kept trying to have the appointment, but they insisted on waiting until after the “storm” As we talked to more people that day, we found similar reactions. Virginia Beach was about to enter hibernation…

We managed to teach one person that night, and by the end of the lesson the snow was about an inch high just in that one part of town. We woke up the next morning to about 5 inches, although in places the wind had blown it as high as a foot or more. Elder Tolley started the moaning (he’s from Utah, so he hates snow,) and I was ready to have a little fun! This whole week has been full of shoveling people’s driveways and getting their cars unstuck. The first few days, it was literally like a ghost town! I’m not joking when I say hibernation. A lot of people STILL haven’t bothered to move their car! They probably have good reason too, because the roads are BARELY ploughed. and most parts are covered in thick ice from cars rolling over it. It is pretty dangerous to drive on unless you have a truck or jeep.
We’ve had some cool experiences helping people. Most people have been in a rush when we get their car unstuck, (it involves pushing, shoveling, and coaching them the “rock” the car. No one knows how to drive in snow around here.) so we just have enough time to give them a pass-along card and maybe our number, but we gave some people Books of Mormon and some are potential investigators!
Some of the members here, Chris, Bruce and Rolf especially, have been real heroes by driving us to places we can’t reach on foot! I’ve never gotten so many calls from people asking for help, and we couldn’t do it without them! It’s almost non-stop! It the midst of all the spontaneous service, these members have taken care of us and we’ve been able to have a few lessons with investigators. One of them wants to be baptized, but is not sure about a date yet to do it. She is praying about Feb 3.
Anyways, that’s my crazy week! I had some spiritual thoughts I wanted to share, but I can’t remember, so hopefully I will next week!
Take care!
Elder Samuel Runyan

2018 Is Going To Be A Good One!

Happy New Year Y’all!

I hope everyone is well, and you have enjoyed quality time with friends and family over the holidays!
New Years is a good time to reflect and project. Set some realistic goals! Here is the scripture we have shared with people as the key to successful “resolutions.” (Alma 7:24. also Peter 1:5-8)
24 And see that ye have faithhope, and charity, and then ye will always abound in good works.
I am grateful for the people that took us in on Christmas and New Years! The LaRoses, the Schoppauls, a man named Sam, and Simone! Thank you also to everyone at home for the gifts, prayers, and well-wishes! You all mean a lot to me!
Elder Tolley and I are getting along well, and I am slowly learning how to actually be a decent trainer! I hope he realizes how great he is because I need to be better at telling him! I’ve forgotten what it is like to be a new missionary; missionary life is just how I am living right now, and it will be just as hard to adjust to “normal” life. I have to remind myself that it must be hard for a lot of missionaries to make the switch! They take a lot of “baggage” sometimes which can really weigh some of them down! My advice to anyone about to go on a mission is to let all that go. Your trainer will appreciate it 🙂 Thankfully, Elder Tolley has prepared well, and he has a lot to look forward to!
Brother Lambourne got me a new bike wheel! That was a great Christmas present, and very much needed! Other than that, the work has been a little slow this week due to holidays. Half of our investigators have been out of town, but that’s ok!
Elder Runyan

God Has A Lot Of Work To Do!

We didn’t schedule our very well today, so I won’t have much time to email, sorry! Since yesterday was Christmas, we got today as a as well. I was happy to call my family yesterday too! They asked a lot of good questions! My Mom also made a list of questions to answer, so I will just try to answer some of those right now! Sorry if I don’t get to all your emails this week, but I will read them!
1. How many investigators do you have right now? Who are you teaching currently?
We have over 20 investigators right now, but many are on hold for the holidays. We are actively teaching 10 of them.
2. Who is the person in the ward or branch that has made the biggest difference for the missionaries? What have they done?
I don’t even know where to start with this one! This ward is so missionary minded! There is one member I know, Wayne, who previously helped baptize over 2 dozen people in, I think, a year, but that was a while ago. He said this ward used to be the 2nd most baptizing on the East Coast! There are at least 7 people who have been a tremendous help to missionary work since we got here! They are Chris, Bruce, Stella Goings, Margie, Joan, Wayne, and Rolf. Most of them are recent converts who have developed very strong testimonies of the gospel! Rolf was only baptized on November 11, and he is so eager to help is in any way he can! He takes us, (and our bikes,) on rides often and always says, “It’s the least I can do for all you do!” Stella, Margie, and Joan are like the dynamic trio who visit all the less-active sisters in the ward, and come to missionary lessons whenever they can. They work tirelessly to help some of our investigators work through personal challenges that are keeping them from being baptized. Chris is our ward mission leader, and does so much! He works a lot as it is, but still magnifies his calling as much as possible by following up with us on investigators, and helping us teach lessons! With all that going on he still makes it to the temple often! (even though it’s about a 4 hour drive!) Bruce is often willing to help us when we are in a bind with scheduling and transportation, and has a really positive attitude even when things don’t work out. Wayne is the high priest group leader, and he understands the scriptures very well. Whenever we take him to a lesson, he prepares an essay, and offers in depth understanding to investigators who are willing to learn! He also keeps track of the members in the ward who need service projects done, and gets the ward involved.
3. Does your mission have a theme?
Lighthouses and the hymn “Brightly Beams our Father’s Mercy” Ask Sister Weed about it. She cries every time we sing it!
4. Describe the area that you are living in? Hills? Rivers? Flat? Etc
Flat. very very flat.
5. What do most people do for work in your area? Is it a rural community? Urban? Suburbs?
6. Do you know any of your neighbors? Are they friendly?
Yes! We are trying to teach one! One watches TV very loudly every night when we are sleeping, but that’s ok… we love them anyways!
Oh! well I’ve got to run! We had some very powerful lessons this week, but maybe I’ll tell you about them next week! I hope y’all had a Merry Christmas, and thank you for your prayers!
Elder Runyan

“O Come, O Come Emmanuel”

Thank you so much everyone for writing! I took so long reading your emails I don’t have any time left for this one!

Here’s some of the big things from the week! I had talked to the bishopric about performing “O Come, O Come Emmanuel” On the Cello and it was thanks to Sister Sweet who accompanied on short notice, and the Thorntons that I had a cello to borrow. We played on Sunday, and we might play it again tomorrow at the mission Christmas Conference. It went really well!
(Elder Runyan’s mom here. I thought I’d share a couple messages I received  from members in the Salem ward regarding Elder Runyan’s musical number. From Brother Pedersen, it was truly magnificent. I have never wanted to clap more after their performance. From Sister Goings, this morning your son and Sister Sweet took us all to a higher place with his beautiful cello interlude. It was magnificent. Brought tears to my eyes.)
Our district also went caroling yesterday at Mt. Trashmore while we handed out #LighttheWorld cards! There weren’t a whole lot of people there, but it went well. There’s a picture of our district, and we met some people doing medieval style fighting at the park. I took a picture of one of the elders holding a sword and shield. There’s also some pictures of a service project we did, and a picture of one of the elders in our district giving a training about hope at district meeting, and I wanted to get a picture of his “flow chart.”
Rolf, a new convert gave a very memorable talk at 2 young men’s baptisms which we were privileged to hear! He has such a strong testimony of the gospel, and is already an amazing missionary!
In other news, we are excited for one of our investigators who told us she wants to be baptized last night, and she is praying about Jan 20 to be baptized!
Thank you!
Elder Samuel Runyan

Training x2


I don’t have a lot of time left to email, (actually none,) so I will just say for now that it has been an amazing week! Elder Tolley is my new Trainee and he is from Springville, UT! He and Elder Allen went to the same high school together!
We had some really cold rain on Friday and Saturday! It kept us inside for a little while while we waited for clothes to dry. Thankfully no sickness! The amazing Brother Pederson has been a true hero this week as he took us to and from the training meeting where he was asked by President Weed to speak on the spot and share his conversion experience, and he drove us around Saturday night when it was too cold and rainy to be on bikes! He even helped someone fix their gutter while we were visiting people in the spirit of #LighttheWorld! He was going to post pictures of it on social media if you can find it Mom! A lot of appointments fell through this week, so Elder Tolley has only gotten to teach one lesson in the field so far, but next week will be better!
My birthday was wonderful! Thank you to all the friends and family who wrote and and sent birthday wishes! You all are the best! I had a Birthday present from seeing the stake’s Christmas concert musical production! It was well done, spirit-filled, and an investigator came!
Happy Holidays!
Elder Runyan

“Are We Not All Beggars?”


Transfer calls came, and I am staying here in Virginia Beach! Elder Allen is going to Hampton to be with Elder Brown who I served close to when I was in Poquoson! I will be training another new missionary for the next 3 months!
There is so much to be grateful for and so many opportunities to serve others for all of you, so I would encourage you to look for those opportunities! Pray for them because I know it serves God to serve others, and when you serve Him, he will return that to you! I learned this week, from Mosiah 4:19-25, about why we should always serve those in need. There is a phrase there, “are we not all beggars?” We do all have needs which God can meet. On the same note, Jesus Christ went below all of us, and he knows all our pains and struggles better than we do. If he knows us that well, then he feels what we feel. If you make one person happy, you are making Christ happy.
A wonderful family we met fed us on Tuesday! They are Catholic and very strong in their faith, so they did not want to learn more, but they were still very nice to us!
We also had an interesting experience with an investigator who told us she was baptized in our church a long time ago. We can’t find her records, but she’s not all there. The wonderful Sister Goings has helped be her friend, and took her to the ward’s Christmas party this Friday! That was lots of fun, and a few investigators came!
We’ve tried caroling already, and I’m hoping to play the cello to share the Christmas Spirit and #lighttheworld with people! Probably the highlight from the week was inviting our investigator to fast the full 24 hours yesterday for fast sunday. He is at a rock in a hard place right now, so we promised fasting would give him the strength to endure. He was going strong at church, and now we have to find out if he made it the whole way!
Happy Holidays!
Elder Runyan
I included a picture of some twice-baked potatoes I made, one of the pictures is Elder Allen and I doing companionship inventory. (All the missionaries out there will get it!) and one of the pictures below is of our district.

Christmas Starts This Friday!

Hello everyone!

I know it’s still a little early for Christmas, but as far as I’m concerned, Christmas starts this Friday! Why? Because that’s when #Lighttheworld officially begins! Of course, you can get started now, but don’t miss out this year! Every day in December, there is a different video with a way to serve each day! There is a scripture and several different ideas for each day. Of course you can get creative too! The most important thing is sharing the Savior’s light with the world through service! Even if you aren’t very religious, this is a wonderful opportunity! Be sure to post what you do on social media so everyone can get excited about making this Christmas season special! Below is the video for the first day, Dec. 1st. I think you will find it very inspiring!
Last night, the Virginia Beach Stake kicked off this program in an amazing way!  You should be able to see videos and pictures with the hastag #Lighttheworldvb, or #Lighttheworld but if not, I should be able to share a video of it next week. The zone leaders in this stake had the idea to put little LED lights in helium balloons with #lighttheworld pass along cards attached. Everyone wrote an encouraging note on the cards and we let all the balloons go into the night (with permission from the city of course,) and it was an amazing experience! #lighttheworld is a good way to inspire others this year, and I feel if we all do everything we can to make it memorable, it will change the way we see others, and hopefully inspire to do good for others always! Don’t be a bystander, get involved!

Virginia Beach Stake #LighttheWorld Kickoff.

Ok, I just had to get on my soapbox about that! I am so super excited about this! Sorry I don’t have any pictures! There were several times this week when I was going to, but forgot 😦
One of our investigators, Tony, really got on my case to speak up this week! It was funny because I really wasn’t speaking THAT softly, but he has a really friendly personality and was telling me, “You’ve got to be STRONG when talking about the Lord! So I raised my voice and said, “Will you be baptized?” He said he had already been baptized in another church, then I said, “Well, this is the true church. Do you believe the Book of Mormon is true?” and he said yes, but he doesn’t wan’t to be a “church” person, and is hesitant about coming to church with us. However he wants us to keep asking him because he likes us and thinks we’ve got guts!  (That’s what you get for calling me “soft- spoken!” jk, lol.) As we were leaving, Elder Allen said, “See you at church tomorrow!” and he said “ok.” then Elder Allen said “Gotcha!” and we biked away.
The kid who quit smoking after he met us apparently got kicked out of his house recently, so we are trying to call him and meet up with him, but he hasn’t answered his phone 😦
We had Thanksgiving with a family from the ward, then we had thanksgiving with an investigator named Simone! She is awesome, and treats us like her kids! We told her about the Book of Mormon and she promised to read it!
As for me, I’ve learned a lot about letting go of past mistakes and repentance in general. I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the phrase “That they may ALWAYS remember Him” in the sacrament prayers; it is so important to seek for the Spirit in everything we do.
Happy Holidays!
Elder Samuel Runyan
*Oh, by the way, I attached a pdf for how members can now refer friends to the missionaries anywhere in the world with lds tools and It has to be with the friend’s consent of course 🙂 Be sure to take advantage of this useful tool!