Hello y’all!

I don’t know what you might have heard about this worldwide missionary broadcast on Wednesday, but they announced some big changes for missionaries! (get jealous Kendall.) First of all, our schedule is changed to allow us to adjust to our needs and our investigators needs. We only need to have an hour of personal study 30 min of companion study (and only 30 min of 12 week,) planning is in the morning now, and we have more time to sleep or get ready for the day because we can have comp study during proselyting time. (sorry if this isn’t making any sense to non-missionaries.) On p-day, we now have 10 hours instead of 8 to do things. We only need to have personal study and planning on p-days. The other change was with key indicators because they are only recording Baptism/confirmation, sacrament meeting attendance, and new investigators.
Anyways, transfers are coming up soon, so I will most likely be getting a new companion soon. (I’ll miss Elder Staheli.) This past week we were able to have a lot of lessons (Even though the majority of our appointments fell through, but that’s missionary life.) The Spirit has honestly helped us so much this week! I’ve learned a lot from my experiences here in North Carolina, and I’ve come to love the people here more and more every day!
Today, one of my zone leaders, Elder Ward, is leaving. We had a great transfer this past Friday and he taught me a lot about missionary work. He helped me learn that I need to trust in myself more when I talk to people, and not forget to let loose and have fun sometimes. I’ve also learned a lot about listening to people, and letting the Spirit give me the words to say. One example this week was this Saturday, when we knocked on someone’s door and asked if we could share our message and she said “no thanks.” Then we asked if we could share our message about how families can be together forever. She was willing to listen! Tears came to her eyes as she told us about the great example her mother was to her of Christlike love. I can’t remember exactly what we told her, but it comforted her, and she said we could come back!
Another great experience I had was with a lady who held a big youth group at her house. She was very friendly! We were sitting down with her to have a discussion, and there were a lot of teenagers in the other room doing nothing. I told her, “If you want, we can invite everyone to join in,” and that’s what we did! They could have been really rowdy or disrespectful, but we actually had a great lesson with all of them (I think there were like 6 teenagers there!) It was funny because the lady said I looked nervous, but the next day we came back she said “I’m so proud of you” because I didn’t look as nervous. (I didn’t think I was nervous but whatever.) It was great because we just had a relaxed, casual conversation with a bunch of teenagers about the restoration of the gospel, and Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon, and  they really enjoyed having us over!
Hope y’all have a great week!
Elder Runyan
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Elder Staheli Messing Around

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I Got a New Haircut

For if He Have Not Charity He is Nothing

Hey y’all!

I’ve realized I really need to learn Spanish! At least enough of it to explain who we are and our basic message. We have Spanish speaking elders in the mission, but they cover very large areas, and can’t easily tract everywhere. We have several neighborhoods in our area that are heavily populated with Spanish speakers, and if we can get them interested in our message, we can pass them off to the Spanish elders. One sister in our branch, who is from Columbia, told us she was able to learn some of the harder English words just from comparing the pamphlets in English and Spanish. (One of the harder words was “agency” because it has two meanings.) (Down here, they have “Southern Spanish” like “Como estas y’all!”)
We had zone p-day last Monday; which was fun. We played a missionary game called Oompa Loompa; which is a mix of Basketball, Football, and Ultimate Frisbee.
We got to do service for a member who lives in Bath. He has started coming to church again recently. We had some really interesting deep conversations about the gospel, and he talked about how the most important thing in life is to love God and love others. That is something I’ve noticed a lot more in missionary work. If we don’t have charity for the people, our efforts are empty. I have come to really love Washington and this branch.
I think I told y’all about how people like to preach to us. There was actually a man we talked to on Saturday who has studied the scriptures very closely his whole life, and tells us he doesn’t accept anything as truth unless it comes from the Spirit. His ideas are actually very closely aligned with our beliefs and he see’s the problems of corruption that are occuring in other churches. He is a deacon for his own church and wants to help them reach a point of unity that Christians should have, but he can’t figure out why Christians are still so divided. We didn’t get much of a chance to jump in, but it will be super exciting to talk about the restoration with him! He enjoys having us over to talk to us, so we should be able to come back.
Having more charity has really helped me enjoy and thrive in missionary work. I have been working on it for a while, and whenever I focus on it I notice things that get me down or offend me simply wash away. The atonement and the Holy Ghost have a great power in doing that for everyone.
Sorry I haven’t taken pictures this week! I will repent of that.
– Elder Samuel Runyan

“Don’t Take No Wooden Nickels!”

Hello!

Missions are crazy! We had lots of interesting, unexpected experiences this week! I posted pictures from last week’s snow which I forgot to include last time. It was all gone this week and the temperature got back up in the 70’s this week! I think I said this in my Christmas call, but there is a saying in North Carolina, “If you don’t like the weather.. wait a minute.” The title of my email is due to something that one of the members in our church always tells us in passing. “Don’t take no wooden nickels now!” He is such a fun guy! He took us out to dinner at an Asian style buffet this week and the food was so good! I would take his little saying to mean that we shouldn’t be fooled by things that appear to have value. True wealth comes from the blessings of the Spirit in our lives.
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On Tuesday, we had interviews with the mission president in New Bern. We had a great discussion and he asked us a few questions about our branch mission leader. I talked to him about how I’ve learned to come out of my comfort zone and talk to everyone. That same day, I got the chance to come out of my comfort zone and lead an exchange for the first time, with Elder Davis. It was actually one of the most successful days all week! We got 2 new investigators, a mother and son, and we drove over to Bath to teach 3 less actives; all of which expressed their desires to come to church more. We had a really interesting discussion with one of them about how living the word of wisdom has changed his life. He was a really cool guy and we saw him in church this Sunday! I think the Spirit was helping us a lot, because I would have been totally scrambling to lead the exchange. Since Elder Staheli is the one who drives I rely a lot on him on where to go, but I’ve been learning the area a lot more (and using the gps).
Wednesday, we had Zone Conference in Greenville. We talked about some great finding ideas! One of them was helping members use Facebook to find friends they can share a quick online message with. If any of you at home have any other ideas for finding people to teach, I would love to hear it because as missionaries we tend to forget how normal people think and act about missionary work. President and Sister Weed shared some great thoughts about uplifting others during the conference. Sister Weed shared some stories from a friend of Hillary Weeks who would share her music with people who looked down, and her acts of service really played a big influence in changing their lives.
As we were coming home from zone conference I was feeling a bit queezy and threw up in a bag just as we were getting home. I had to sleep in the rest of the day. It wasn’t much fun. Some loving members brought by a pack of Ginger Ale to help my stomach. We decided it was probably food poisoning from me not refrigerating my sandwich at Zone Conference. The good news is that I felt better the rest of the week! On Sunday, a great member brought us pizza and soda to break our fast. I’m pretty sure she is an angel.
One last story. We saw a sign at a church just down the street from our house that said they were holding a food pantry on Saturday. We asked some people there if we could help, but the first thing they said when they saw us in our white shirts and ties and name badges was, “You better not go passing around Mormon stuff!” He was almost offended by the fact that we were all dressed up as if we were full of it or something. He told us we could come, but basically said we’d be kicked out if we weren’t in casual clothes. We came still wearing our name badges and he said, “do you really have to wear those” and we told him we just always wear them and he finally relaxed a bit. It was just funny to see how much he looked down on us for being so, what he thought was, uptight. The event was fun! We just had casual conversation with people and a couple people asked us about what we do.
I hope y’all are doing well! I heard there’s been flooding in California lately. They say the drought is ending. I bet y’all are just rejoicing right now!
-Elder Runyan

The Lord is Preparing Us for Greater Things

Hello Friends and Family!

This has been a great week! Unfortunately, the meeting we were going to have with Elder Cook was cancelled due to snowy weather. In Virginia, the snow got pretty high, (about 8 in) but here in North Carolina it was just a little dusting. The roads weren’t even very icy. I left my camera at home, so I can’t send pictures right now, but Elder Staheli took a video I wanted to send you. It kinda sucked that we didn’t get to see Elder Cook, but at least we saved a ton of miles! What was worse was that pretty much every church in our mission closed (even here where we barely got anything), so people wouldn’t have to drive on icy roads. Additionally, all our cars were grounded for a day unless we got permission otherwise. Elder Staheli and I were only given permission to give a few people the sacrament. The cool thing is that I got to see my first snow since coming on the mission!
One great thing that happened this week was that we got two people to commit to a baptismal date this week! One of our investigators and her daughter committed to be baptized on February 4! Of course, it really was too bad that church was cancelled because we really need to get them out to church! One of our recent converts who hasn’t been in a while also committed to go, and she was going to get her temple recommend! Despite these weather inflicted tragedies, Elder Staheli and I have really appreciated the Lord’s tender mercies this week in helping the work progress.
We had one pretty funny story from this week which I think should be OK to share with y’all. One night we were walking down a street and a man on a bike comes staggering towards us. He was very drunk, and asked us what we were doing. We told him we were representatives of Jesus Christ spreading His gospel. The man told us he needs Jesus in his life to overcome his alcohol addiction. We tried to be as helpful as possible in giving him our contact information, but he was way too drunk for us to be able to do anything else for him. I reflected on that experience, and remembered someone else who was contacted in a similar way, so who knows? He may be baptized next month.
Anyways, I’ve grown a lot from being on this mission. I know the Lord is preparing us for greater things. It is like what we told one man we are teaching: God is trying to speak to you if you only listen. His message is simple, the gospel of Jesus Christ as it has been restored through His prophets and apostles. I really liked the message in Helaman 5:12; which we shared in a lesson. We related it to how when the Salt Lake temple was being built they found cracks in the foundation and had to start again with more precise measurements and stronger stones. When we build our foundation on Christ, we cannot fall. At the same time, we can’t forget that the devil will continually send his “shafts in the whirlwind,” to sway us, but his intentions can never overcome God’s love and willingness to support His children. The way to build upon Christ’s foundation is the gospel: Faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, Repentance, Baptism, Receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End.
Thank you everyone for your support! I wouldn’t be here without you!
-Elder Runyan

Happy New Year Y’all!

Hi Family!

I hope y’all had a happy new year, and you didn’t party too hard on New Year’s Eve. We were told to be in our apartments or members homes by 5pm. We stayed in our apartment playing board games and I studied and finished preparing for my talk on Sunday.
My talk went really well! the topic was on Preach My Gospel (PMG), Ch 11 (commitments). I basically explained how making commitments is repenting; which leads to a Change of heart or being born of God (Mosiah 27:24-25) and I spent most of the talk using the guidelines in ch 11 to call repentance. I really took to heart a promise in PMG, pg 195 that says we should cry repentance and references D&C 15:6, “The thing which will be of the most worth unto you will be to declare repentance unto this people.” PMG, CH 11 also talks about bearing testimony, and I almost wanted to sing a hymn in the middle of my talk to bear my testimony, but I just read the words of “I Need Thee Every Hour” instead; which happened to be the next hymn. I took that to be a real sign of God’s love for me. I really related to “the song of redeeming love;” which Alma talks about in Alma 5:26-27 and I used that as a call to repentance for the congregations to fulfill their new year’s goals.
I’ve really been thinking about the idea of bearing testimony through music lately, since I met with an investigator who is basically converted to the music at his church. He loves to get up and sing and shout hallelujah, and it’s almost as if by that expression of love to God he feels like he’s done enough. To him, his baptism was just an expression or declaration of his love to God. However, he tells us over and over he has sinned and he wants to stop doing things like drinking and smoking, and he feels the Spirit when we come over; he just hasn’t been acting on those promptings.
I guess it’s interesting because I feel like music is a strong way of bearing testimony, but for some people, Satan deceives them to feel like those good feelings they get when they sing and praise God are enough to get by. He tells them their other problems will fade away as long as they keep praising Jesus. To a certain extent, that really does help; I love spiritual music and I really miss my cello because that was the best way I felt I could share my testimony; not just for others, but for myself because it makes me feel good. However, I feel like being a baptized member of this church who keeps those covenants makes those expressions of love for our Savior so much sweeter! I couldn’t imagine my life without the gospel!
Also, We got new sisters! Sister Ustach and Smith. Their very first day, they broke into someone’s apartment thinking it was theirs. Later, we sent them to a recent convert without telling them about her big dog in front of the house (woops). They’re great!
I need to wrap up soon, but here is a picture of my messy desk I thought I’d send you. This desk was a replacement to one a previous elder broke. We got it at the Christmas conference and I got to put it together around Christmas which was fun because I like putting things together.
Love ya’ll!
Elder Runyan
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