I Really Do Love the People Out Here

Hello Family!

I am so sorry to hear about Sister Warff. Tell the family I will keep them in my prayers. She was a very sweet lady, and will be missed.

This week has been quite a learning experience for me. We had a lot of people say they would come to church, but didn’t show up. Elder Staheli has told me that he hasn’t gotten a single investigator to come to church in the 6 weeks he has been in Washington. The people here are great, and love to talk about Jesus, but it is hard for them to keep commitments. You can really see how the devil tries to snuff out the Spirit after people have felt it. I won’t get too much into specifics, but I know we will change lives here in Washington. One of the apostles said that the day would come when the south would start accepting the gospel in great numbers. People here already have great faith in Christ. They know there is a lot of confusion between churches and have spent a lot of time trying to find the right church. Often they are just hanging onto a string of loyalty to some denomination, or have settled on believing that they only need to read the Bible and love God, and everything will turn out fine. I get really excited about the moment people realize that our church might have what they have been looking for their whole life. It just requires patience and love, and I really do love the people out here.

I had exchanges for the first time with an Elder Hintzy, in New Bern. It was good to get a different perspective from him of how to teach. He told me miracles always happen on exchanges, and we did have some really good lessons. He really likes classical music like I do so we had some good conversations.

I really want to hear about how y’all are doing! It sounds like Thanksgiving was fun! We had a good Thanksgiving at the church and we still have some leftovers! we didn’t have a dinner appointment like missionaries usually do on Thanksgiving. We only cover half the branch which is small to begin with so we only get a few dinner appointments. People do like to give us their leftovers though! The dinner at the church was great, and I got to know the members a lot better!

Love you!

Elder Runyan


Y’all take care!

Hello Family!

I don’t even know where to begin! This is a great mission and I love the people here! The last few days at the MTC were great, and like I said over the phone, I got to perform for the Senior Missionary welcome with Sister Aloua. It was sad to say goodbye to my MTC district because we had gotten really close, but we were all really excited to get out on the mission field!
     I flew in with Elder Adams, Workman, and Dryer. I was seated next to other missionaries on the plane, so I didn’t get to talk to strangers about the gospel, but Elder Adams and I did meet a nice woman at the SLC airport who lives in Utah, but is a nonmember. She loves the family friendly environment in Utah, especially since she was originally from Detroit. President and Sister Weed greeted us at the airport and they were very accommodating about calling our families, and the first night they had us stay in a hotel which was really nice. From Norfolk, they drove us to Portsmouth where we had orientation, and the next day we met our trainers at the mission center!
     My trainer’s name is Elder Staheli (pronounced Stay-lee), and he’s been out here (I think) 14 months. It was a 3 hour drive from Portsmouth to Washington, and I’ve gotta say, there is a different feeling out here in North Carolina then the cities of Virginia. A lot of missionaries really like it out here because it’s really chill and laid back, and pretty much all of us get cars for driving on these country roads. The people here are the nicest people I’ve ever met! I don’t think we’ve had the door slammed on us once! It’s funny though because you talk to anyone, and they are a preacher, or they’re related to one. I’m also working on my southern talk and all that. I’m getting really used to saying y’all.
A little more about my companion:
     He listens to country music, so in the car we listen to this band called the Nashville Tribute; they are a Mormon band that makes religious country music. I think it’s pretty good even though I’m not a country fan. He wants to be a diesel mechanic for all the big rigs and stuff. He talks in his sleep sometimes and wakes me up in the middle of the night to things like, “can we share a message with you about Jesus Christ,” and other indiscernible things. Anyways, he is a great companion and he’s taught me a lot about being a more confident and spiritually led missionary.
To answer Mom’s questions:
  1. For thanksgiving, I am helping set up for a thanksgiving dinner at the church for single members of the branch. There will be plenty there for us.
  2. We usually drive the car because our area is so large and spread out, but we try to get out on our bikes and talk to people whenever we can. It usually goes pretty well when we do that because people here are really nice and willing to talk to us. Pretty much most the people that we see on the street have talked to the missionaries before though.
  3. North Carolina/Virginia is beautiful. Virginia in particular has lots of trees. The intersections in our area though are pretty messed up. We have a lot of 5 or 6 point intersections, and a lot of houses are off of dirt roads. Pardon my language but the locals would agree there are a lot of hillbillies out here and all that.
  4. My biggest surprise about being a missionary is how easy God makes it for us to share our message about Jesus Christ.
  5. President Weed and his wife are really nice. They are really new to this, but I heard them in the Kinston Stake Conference this Sunday, and they spoke a lot about how the members are really helpful in taking care of the mission, and this is a wonderful area. The branch is full of nice people who have a lot of personality, and we’re really trying to help them support recent converts.

I love y’all so much!  Y’all take care!

Elder Runyan

Welcomed by President & Sister Weed

Dear Brother and Sister Runyan,

Sister Weed and I were delighted to welcome Elder Runyan to the Virginia Chesapeake Mission on Tuesday.  He arrived in good spirits and has been assigned to labor in the Washington Branch of the Kinston NC Stake.  His trainer is Elder Spencer Staheli.  I have attached two photos of your missionary: one with his trainer, and one with Sister Weed and me.

Thank you for sending us such a fine missionary,

President Weed

Don’t Be Afraid to Change Someone’s Life

Hi Family!

      It’s been a crazy week at the MTC! Sunday’s devotional was by Jenny Oaks Baker and she played several church pieces with her children. It was pretty cool! On Tuesday, the General Primary President, Sister Jones and her husband spoke. She spoke all about how many people don’t realize they are children of God, and the importance of keeping the commandments / white bible because we will feel free through Christ. That’s a message that gets brought up a lot here.
     I don’t think I will get to play in a devotional, but I did audition last Thursday with Sister Aloua as an accompanist playing “Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief” (not the one you gave me; I checked this one out.) They gave us a note saying they would like to use us if they have an opening, but they did say it wasn’t as likely because we aren’t here for very long. On that note, thank you for the music! I haven’t gotten to play it yet, but that’s mostly because I would feel bad about dragging my companion around more than I already do, and we are pretty busy here!
     The MTC is a very spiritual place and sometimes people just say really profound things out of nowhere which I like to just write down in my journal. Here are some of them:
  • “All the time in the world is but a moment in the MTC”  – Elder Orzel
  • “Don’t be afraid to change someone’s life” – Elder Workman
  • “The world is loud. This place is quiet…” – Elder Adams (granted he is the loudest one in the district :))
  • “Smile, because our message is happy!”  – Sister Nilsson
    Some other big news: I’ve been assigned as a zone leader! Today is the only day when that really matters much though because the zone leaders and sister training leaders are supposed to welcome the incoming missionaries. I’ve seen Elder Woodbury and Elder Lawson a few times around here, and I’ve pretty much just said hi. They seem to be doing well though!
    Elder Dryer and I have committed one of our investigators to baptism. Our other investigator made a lot of progress as well, so I hope things are going well for him.
     This week, our whole district is teaching an investigator. I won’t share his story because it was personal to him, but basically, he had prayed once to God for a very specific reason, and he felt like he didn’t get an answer, so either God didn’t exist, or He didn’t care. We’ve been trying to help him understand how God works, and I’ve felt very moved to share with him just how much his Savior loves him and has done for him. I’ve really come to realize how important Jesus Christ is in all our lives. One of my district’s struggles has been staying on track during study time, and I really think we just need to focus more on the Savior during every aspect of our day. When we do that, we will want to be more effective and have a greater desire to better ourselves.
     I am really sorry to hear about what happened to the Bakers. It is hard not to feel love for their family. To answer Mom’s question, I think our covenant to “mourn with those who mourn” has a lot to do with us taking on Christ’s name. The Holy Ghost has the great ability to bring peace to those who mourn, but even this is not enough for most people. I’ve come to a realization that God can speak to His children, not only through the Holy Ghost, but through people as well. You know that investigator I talked about? He felt so alone after praying that it seemed like God didn’t care, but we told him to consider that maybe God had answered his prayer by putting certain people in his life so he could meet us. We all have a great responsibility to build each other up with charity, and when it comes to mourning with those who mourn, that just means being there, so they can have someone to turn to to let them know that God has not abandoned them. Jesus Christ himself felt abandoned when He cried, “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? (My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?)” (Mark 15:34). He doesn’t wan’t any of His children to feel that way, and that is why it is our responsibility to support our brothers and sisters.
     As far as Trump getting elected……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. whatever
     Thank you so much for the cookies!!!!
     Sara, I’m proud of you! congrats on the 33!
     Love you Amanda and Gabby! how’s Ginger?
     How’s Kendall doing in Idaho?
Lots of Love!!
Elder Runyan

I’m Already Starting to Feel Like A Different Person!

Hi Family!

     I can’t believe it’s only been a week! so much has happened here, and I’m already starting to feel like a different person! It’s been great getting letters and emails from all of you! I wished I could respond as soon as I got them! Thanks for setting up my blog, and thank you for the package of noise makers! I handed out the pens to my district, which the sisters really appreciated because they hadn’t gotten any Halloween packages. Elder Adams loves using the noise makers to annoy everyone in our residence halls (he’s a really fun energetic missionary!)

Back: Me, Elder Dryer, Elder Long, Elder Workman Middle: Sister Mello, Sister Aloua, Sister Nilsson, Sister Oswald Front: Elder Adams, Elder Orzel.

      My companion is Elder Dryer. He’s pretty quiet, but he is very humble, and he has a strong testimony of Jesus Christ and this church! I’ve really gotten to love him over the past week; we have our differences, but I think he is the best possible companion for me here! More about Elder Dryer: The first thing he did when our district met him, was he looked at all of us and could tell our nationality just by the shape of our noses! He also likes linguistics and cinematography, so he’s still thinking about what his career might be. I really think he will be a great missionary. He has a great ability to speak with the spirit when bearing his testimony.
      I was kind of surprised that they had us start teaching investigators on our second day (the first ones were just our teachers acting as investigators) and by Monday, we were teaching TRC’s (people who sign up to act as investigators. Some are members; some are not). One of our TRC’s, T_ A_ , seems to be a real investigator, and we struggled at first to help him open up. We were starting to think we weren’t qualified to give people emotional help, but the next day, we came with a bright attitude, and got to know him better, and it went really well!
      President Nelson spoke on Tuesday about missionary work transcending generations which was really inspiring, and I sang Praise to the Man in the choir! It was quite an experience! I started checking out their cellos this week during my free time, and I will play Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief for an audition. Sister Aloua agreed to accompany me (she is a great pianist!) Speaking of the cello, I kinda wish I brought some music, so if you could send some of mine, that would be great!
      I need to wrap up now! I will leave you with a quote from Elder Workman about stress that made us all laugh. He was relating it to a car and said, “If you stand in the front you get tired. If you stand in the back you get exhausted!) I guess it’s not really that funny, but we were all really tired.
Love you all!
Elder Samuel Runyan