Hello Everyone!

Whew! This has been a busy week! As I said before I am training now! Now for the big reveal! My companion’s name is Elder Tanner Allen! He is awesome!
This area is the smallest I’ve worked in yet, but also probably the most populated! There is one apartment complex we’ve biked by which we call “the great and spacious apartment complex.” Oh, by the way, we are on full bikes! Also, the ward here is amazing! Our ward mission leader was ready to welcome us and get us familiar with the area as soon as we got here! We have been meeting with as many members as possible to set a good impression and get them excited to look for people to share the gospel with!
I won’t lie, it has been a challenge to open up a new area. We don’t know anyone here, so we are just slowly chipping away at our area book.
I am so grateful to be companions with Elder Allen! Here are some details about him:
  • He is a natural teacher and is already comfortable talking to people!
  • He played soccer in high school
  • He plays the piano pretty well. He played the trumpet for several years in band. Also guitar.
  • He loves Hi-Chews (went through a whole 5-pound bag in a week!)
  • He is super prepared and relaxed and excited to serve!
That’s about it for now! I will give more details next week!
Thanks!
Elder Samuel Runyan
Pics: Elder Allen and I (Elder Latimer and Syphus are in the back. They are the other elders in Salem.)

Elder Runyan and Elder Allen (Elder Latimer and Elder Syphus in the back)

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Goodbye Poquoson!

Hello!

This has been and will be a busy few days! Transfer calls came on Saturday; I will be leaving to go to Virginia Beach, VA, in a place called Salem! I will also be training a new missionary, who I will meet at Portsmouth on Wednesday! Meanwhile, Elder Gardiner is staying in Poquoson to hold the fort with Elder Fox! They will also be training a new missionary together.
Transfers are boring so here is the good stuff!
Let me start off by saying that our Egyptian friend is progressing very well! After the whole family came to the baptism last week, it caught the attention of some of the members in the ward! One family got their contact information and invited them over for lunch with us! We went over on Sunday after Stake conference and it was great! This family really helped them feel like friends! Our lesson with them was a bit long because we had to explain words like “Mormon,” “Moroni,” “faith,” “gospel,” carefully since their English is still coming slowly. It just really helps to have members participating in missionary work!
Right after that lesson, we went to a lesson with a Muslim family from Turkey! (We might as well have been serving in the middle east yesterday!) It was a very good and engaging discussion actually; they said they won’t change religions or anything, but he used to teach religious studies, and the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith was all new to him so he was very interested by our message! We gave them a Book of Mormon and invited them to read it and pray about it in the name of Jesus Christ, (this was an interesting thing to ask of them because they think Jesus was only a prophet and not the Son of God and our Savior.) They offered us Turkish tea which we had to turn down because of our religious obligations, but they didn’t seem offended by that.
As for the rest of the week, we were busy meeting with people, but I don’t have my planner on me to remember the details. There was a pretty big rainstorm that came out of nowhere and got us soaked in just 5 minutes! We hurried back to change clothes.
We had an amazing district meeting and stake conference! I really learned that I need to study very well for the people we teach and make sure they know we love them, and I learned that the Spirit can testify to others despite our weaknesses.

Have a great week everyone!
Elder Samuel Runyan
Pics: We decided to take a recipe from the widow of Zarephath and make our own “famine bread” “that we may eat it, and die.” (1 Kings 17:12). We were running low on quick and easy food so we called it the famine. Also, a picture of us after a rainstorm!

Yorktown Battlements

Hello!

Sorry this is a late email! Because of Labor Day all the places we usually email were closed so we got permission to email today! That said, I will be brief, because we have some people to see today.
On Saturday we saw the baptism for one of our investigators, Steve, and his daughter! It was a wonderful event and his wife, who was already a member of the church, was very happy! They had a lot of family over for the baptism! We also brought another investigator there, who brought his whole family, (the Egyptian family I have talked about) and they really enjoyed the service! He also came to church on Sunday, and got to know a few more of the members there! The Spirit was really strong last week, and a things lined up really well! Of course everything was not perfect, but that’s just how life is.
I have featured some pictures from a trip we took to the Yorktown Battlements yesterday with a member in the ward! There was a very real and spiritual feeling there. The ranger told us about how american soldiers marched hundreds of miles to get to the battlefield. Very many were barefoot and many were almost naked. The victory was very tight and only possible because many things lined up absolutely perfectly, (i.e. mistakes from British general Cornwallis, the French rendezvous with the American troops, a severe storm which prevented the British from escaping, and other miracles.) There can be no denying that this was made possible by the hand of God, so our country could be made free. As members of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, we hold this patriotic spirit very dear because it brought the conditions of religious freedom for the Restoration of the Gospel to be made possible. I enjoyed visiting Yorktown to see our country’s heritage! It was really inspiring!
Well that’s our week! Take care everyone!
Elder Samuel Runyan ​
Here’s a short video about the Battle of Yorktown

“Everyone’s Just Looking at Their Own Spiritual Muscles.” – Brother T.

Hello everyone!
Looking back on my week, we have had a huge focus on receiving revelation through church attendance! During district meeting, we talked about different ways to help people come to church. For people who are comfortable where they are, a focus on the restoration, the sacrament, and service are super important. One of the ideas someone shared really stuck out to me though. They said for people who are just too lazy to come, share the story of Christ telling His apostles, “couldest not thou watch one hour?” We should never forget that the Savior suffered all things for us. He does not ask much of us. In the end, His way leads to greater peace and happiness than anything else!
I just want to share this notable miracle from Wednesday with you, which gave me a lot of hope! We were scheduled to meet with a sister in the ward who was baptized 3 years ago. I won’t go into detail of all the things she is going through right now because it is a lot. We were having such a hard time finding a 3rd male because it was scheduled at a time when most people are working. We even contacted most of the priest quorum which we thought against because we knew this situation would probably require someone with more maturity. Finally, we texted her to tell her of our failure and she said it would be OK to meet later in the day. We recontacted all the people we originally hoped to get for this lesson including her home teachers, but they still couldn’t make it. The Spirit quietly nudged us to call a brother in the ward who didn’t have a noticeable calling and who we hadn’t reached out to much in a while. He quickly told us he would be happy to come! As he picked us up, he told us he was just coming from a party to celebrate his recent promotion, but didn’t mind leaving early anyway because he didn’t care to be around a bunch of drunk people. He turned out to be a miracle sent from heaven in that lesson because his conversion experience was exactly what she needed to hear! We also realized that he will be a useful resource in the future! He made a pretty profound spiritual analogy too; he said he likes to go to the gym, but feels self-conscious about all the buff guys there. He realized they weren’t really looking at him; they were looking at their own muscles! He said his experience at the gym is similar to that of many recent converts and less active members or even seemingly strong members who come to church and feel judged when really, “Everyone’s just looking at their own spiritual muscles.”
I hope we can all learn something from that! Whether we are the spiritual machos or we are just getting started. We can be such an influence for good in others rather than unwittingly discouraging them, and we can grow so much when we follow Elder Choi’s counsel in this past general conference and “Don’t look around, look up!”
That analogy hopefully will also help us to build ward trust here as well. We have communicated with the sisters and ward mission leader, and realized that with so many families moving in and out for the military, it can be hard to make this ward feel like a family. There are certain cliques within the ward while others might get left out of the loop. We are working hard to find a solution and even worked with a family in the ward to organize a “new member social” this Friday! We would like to have more activities, but this would go against the stakes mandate to allow families to have more family time.
That’s about it for my week! Scripture of the week: D&C 128:22.
Looking forward to a baptism this Saturday for Steve! It will by the first I’ve been a part of in my mission! (Even though previous missionaries did all the work :).
Thank you all for your prayers and just for being awesome!
Elder Samuel Runyan

 

The pictures included are of our sad cooking skills and exchange pictures (Elder Gardiner forgot his suit so we borrowed one from the church closet. He is rocking the “High Priest Look” 🙂

 

كتاب مورمون (kitab al murimun/Book of Mormon)

Hello!

This was a pretty great week! I am so grateful to be serving a mission right now! This has been the most life changing time for me! I am glad that I started out my mission with an attitude of wanting to be here because it would have been a lot harder if I didn’t.
We had an awesome zone conference this week! I don’t have my notes right now though, so I’ll share briefly what happened:
President Weed’s message was all about the history of the church in the 20th and 21st centuries. For a long time, the church was growing rapidly, and people saw all the good things it has to offer. Many other churches noticed the growing popularity of the “Mormons” and were concerned about their members leaving their church to join the church. This led to a campaign around the 80’s of “anti-Mormon” literature and movies, most notable the “God-Makers,” created by excommunicated member Ed Decker. The movies were distributed to many different church leaders who were eager to protect their members who gave monetary contributions to their church. This is still going on today, and the thing these pastors and preachers from various faiths tend to be most envious of is the fact that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints actually pay tithing.
Well, I hate to be negative towards other churches, but one of the first things we teach as missionaries is that the world entered into a state of apostasy, or separation from God, after the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and the passing of the apostles. This is why many people looking at society today wonder if God actually cares, and if He even exists at all. Believe me, He does care! This world and life in general wouldn’t make sense if He didn’t. We are the ones who turn away from Him, but the truth is available to all who seek it. “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matt 7:7).
The point President Weed was getting at is that the church has worked with knowledgeable scholars, historians, and professors to release 11 essays at www.lds.org/topics about topics that have become “controversial” which enemies to the church have used relentlessly over the years to discourage people from joining God’s one true church. The best one is called “Are Mormon’s Christians”

There were other really great messages at zone conference about “serving the Lord rather than serving time,” working with members and other useful topics!
Sorry I have some pictures, but left my camera! I might send them later!
One other cool story this week! We taught an investigator who is from Egypt about the Plan of Salvation in the church building. Then we showed him the baptismal font and asked if he wanted to be baptized sometime in the future. He said he probably would, so we will be working towards that now! Also, a baptism coming up on the 2nd with a man who was in a part member family!
Thanks for the prayers and support!
Sincerely,
Elder Samuel Runyan

It’s Cool to Learn About Different Cultures!

Hello everyone!

This has been an eventful week! The reason for my title is because I have noticed you are a lot happier when you do nice things for people! During a class in church, someone gave us a commitment that whenever we feel good and want to do something nice for ourselves, we should do something nice for someone else! It doesn’t have to be big; in the end, everyone is happier!
We had some difficult lessons with some of our investigators who expressed their concerns about what we are teaching. I was very grateful for the counsel we received in district meeting to teach simply and trust that the Spirit will fill moments of silence. I have started noticing little moments during lessons when I refrain from saying more than is necessary and it can make all the difference.
Even after 8-9 months of teaching the gospel, I am still not a very good teacher. I am so grateful I can rely on the Spirit to give me the right words to say. A lot of the time I have different ideas of what to say, but it is so much easier and more effective when I just listen to the people we are teaching and to the Spirit, and let the promptings come.
Probably the most notable thing that happened this week was our Egyptian friend coming to church this past Sunday! We had a lesson the previous night with a family that was scheduled to speak on Sunday about the Book of Mormon. It was great! The husband had served in Afghanistan for the Air Force, so he understood some of the customs a little better. He told us afterward that we shook his hand too hard because a soft handshake is a sign of peace for Arabic cultures. When we did that he would touch his hand to his heart as a sign of respect. It’s cool to learn about different cultures!
Our friend didn’t make it to the first hour of church when the family was speaking, but he did come to the rest of church! The ward did a good job welcoming him and helping his kids go to primary! We could see that he learned something from church because the lesson in Elders Quorum was about service and later he offered to give us rides if we ever need it! It was a pretty great day!
One last note, We have some big plans for our area to move forward! We are working with the sister missionaries in our ward to build the ward’s trust in us! We will do this by showing we are united in our efforts, and by making it easier for the members to feel comfortable talking to us. We are already working on a new way to set up appointments with members; which involves showing them what our calendar looks like. We are looking into splitting the area a little differently to share responsibilities more evenly.
I hope y’all have a wonderful week!
Sincerely,
Elder Runyan
P.S. We also got caught in a massive rainstorm, and got absolutely soaked! Sorry I don’t have pictures! (I did take a picture of myself, because it’s probably been a while since y’all have seen my face.)

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Respond with Boldness

Hello!!

Well, this has been quite an eventful week! I don’t think I can fit everything in right now since I have basically no time left to email so here is bullet version
  •  We were helping a family get rid of their old table, so we called our Egyptian friend, who we noticed had no table. He said he would like the table, so we brought it over on the same day. He later told us the table was too big, so we replaced his with our own smaller table. Then we asked the ward if anyone needed a table and someone came to take it. I guess that’s all unrelated, but we are teaching our Egyptian friend and have an Arabic Book of Mormon coming for him soon!
  • We met with another new investigator who told us he did some “research” and pulled out a book called “Kingdom of the Cults.” We were able to answer most of his concerns with the Book of Mormon (Some concerns were completely false anyhow). Unfortunately, he felt too unsettled by what he read and told us he wasn’t sure we are “saved.” (This idea of being “saved” in this life is an incomplete concept which is taught by an Antichrist, named Nehor, in Alma 1 in the Book of Mormon.) We strongly asked him to read the Book of Mormon a few months ago, before he found this book, and he did not do that, so I told him I was disappointed and gently rebuked him. The Spirit was very strong in that meeting, but it was such a struggle! I pray he will read the true word of God and not propagandist lies. We will be meeting with him again.
  • We taught another scripture study class on Thursday about keeping the commandments. I can hardly remember what we said, but the Sisters told us it was a good lesson 🙂 The new sister’s name is Sister Borget by the way! She only has a transfer left!
  • We had a very strong lesson with our friend who is a Baptist preacher. He had a hard time giving up his concerns, but I know the Spirit was there!
  • One of our investigators gave us a long text to politely tell us he didn’t want to keep investigating. We felt prompted to call him to ask him to give it another chance. He said his work schedule will make it hard to meet right now (maybe in the future), but he will read the Book of Mormon.
  • We had a lot of people to fast for including all of the above mentioned, so we put a lot of energy into our fast. We were blessed yesterday to randomly meet a very nice couple who let us right in. The husband had a stroke and cannot talk, but they allowed us to give him a priesthood blessing. We did not even have oil with us, but the spirit was very strong there! It was one of the most significant moments I think I’ve seen on my mission! We will be going back soon to share more!
Have a great week y’all! I included pictures of the 6 bikes in our apartment right now 🙂
وداعًا
Maa salaama
(Goodbye): We learned this from our Egyptian friend.
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