Loving the South

Hey y’all!

Transfer calls came last Saturday! I’m going to Poquoson, VA; which is in the Newport News stake! It is a biking area, and there’s a big military presence there. I’m going to miss Washington! I’m not sure if Virginia still counts as the south. If not, I am really going to miss being in the south! You have no idea how much I love it! Anyways, I’m still excited to go to a new area, and meet new people! I haven’t really started packing yet, but I will! Sorry I didn’t take too many pictures! I will be taking pictures with some people before I leave, so I will send those next week.
As for the pictures I do have, One was me trying to take a picture of these weird crab things they have at the waterfront. The other is from our car’s accident this week. We were parked in a Family Dollar parking lot, and as we were exiting the store, a guy driving a truck backed into our car right in front of our eyes. He got out of the truck, and felt really bad. I just feel bad for our vehicle coordinator who has to get all the repairs approved for the car. We still haven’t taken it in for the first thing. Well, I guess I won’t have to worry about cars in my next area anyways!
We have seen some miracles this past week! One happened while we were tracting an apartment complex without much success. Elder Aland told me he had been saying a prayer that someone would at least open their door. We knocked on a door, and a very nice lady came out, and said, “sure! I’d love to talk to you!” We came back a couple days later, and taught her family a great lesson! Right off the bat, she told us she had a really good feeling with us being there, and she warmed up to us very quickly. Towards the end of the discussion, we helped her realize the feeling she was getting was the Spirit. Somehow, during the lesson, the Spirit allowed us to teach her well enough that she was saying it made a lot of sense! It was a great experience!
Church yesterday was also great! We had Branch Conference, and the sister missionaries brought an investigator to church! The first meeting was sacrament and we heard some great messages about the importance of the Book of Mormon and temples. The 2nd meeting was all about Religious Freedom. After that, we had a big lunch prepared for everyone, then we went into different meetings. The missionaries and our branch mission leader met with the Stake mission representative/ mission presidency person named President Rappleyea. It was a great meeting, and we really focused on our stake mission goal; which is for everyone to pray with real intent for inspiration to share the gospel. We talked about how sharing the gospel is really the responsibility of everyone in the church; not just the missionaries. We also discussed how missionary work shouldn’t be a compartmentalized part of the gospel, but an integral part of everything we do in the church.
– Elder Samuel Runyan

Be Not Weary in Well-Doing

Hey y’all!

Really, my big question from this week was knowing how far we should go on teaching people when they aren’t progressing. That has been a hard question to answer, and I’m still trying to understand what the Lord’s plans are for all these people. I’m not really sure where to start with this week, so I’ll just go day by day.
We went fishing with our Branch Mission Leader! He is awesome! We didn’t catch any fish, but it was fun. Later that day, we taught an investigator we haven’t been able to see in a while! I was about to give up on them, but I guess the Spirit had other plans.
We had some appointments fall through today (as usual,) but when that happened we asked the member with us if we could help him do his home teaching. We were able to see a less-active member who the sister missionaries have been struggling to get up with and the member with us shared his conversion story. It was awesome!
We met another investigator I’ve been thinking about dropping. He went off as he did before, but I really tried to recognize that he is just saying these things out of a lack of understanding. He claims to believe only in the Bible but has not read it. We very carefully explained how the Bible and Book of Mormon testify of Jesus Christ together. I think I saw a little spark in him. We were also talking about dropping an investigator who has had a baptismal date before, (I’ve talked about her in the past,) because she has continually told us she would come to church every week, but still has not come. We didn’t end up dropping her.
We had a super fun Plan of Salvation lesson with the less active family we’ve been working with. I used the kit someone gave me as a gift before I came out on my mission. The mom wants her kids to learn these things, so she is studying them on her own so she can teach them. We also found a new investigator from random tracting today!
I was on exchange with Elder Oldroyd! The new investigator from yesterday didn’t answer the door, but we taught the family with a bunch of teenagers. They seemed to actually be listening this time, and we were able to count them as investigators.
Still no answer from the new investigator, but such is missionary life. We got an oil change in New Bern this morning. There was some problems setting up the appointment, so we spent a little more time there then expected. We went out with the New Bern elders and did some service!
I learned an important lesson from one of our members in the branch presidency. He took us out to give a member a blessing. I won’t go into the details of that meeting because it was very personal, she declined the blessing. The member shared D&C 64:33 which says “be not weary in well-doing.” That was a really profound scripture, not just for the visit, but for my whole week; working with less-actives, recent converts, and investigators who are not progressing, but we keep going back because we love them, and we want to help them. There was a very short turnout in church, and none of our investigators or RCLAs came which got me pretty down, but I don’t have to understand the Lord’s purposes in these things as long as I keep trying. I also learned that I need to be more attentive for opportunities to teach and serve new people, because even if we keep trying with the old ones, that doesn’t mean we should only focus on them.
Sorry for the long letter! Pretty much just spewed out my thoughts that I tend to have as a missionary. Hope y’all are doing well!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

Working with People One by One

Hey y’all!

This week was awesome! We’ve really been putting our focus on working with members and we’ve seen several miracles come of it. Some ways we’ve tried to do this is by branch activities, visiting families, and service.
On Monday night, the Elders quorum President and we missionaries directed a branch Family Home Evening night which was especially for the single adults who don’t have families to have FHE with. We plan on doing it monthly. We planned fun activities,  with a “superhero” theme, and had a couple that were specifically heroes from the Book of Mormon. It was lots of fun, and there was a less-active family which came! We are now teaching their children to prepare them for baptism!
The Kinston Stake holds a monthly “Super Saturday” activity for the youth. This Saturday, it was our branch’s turn to plan and direct the activity. We had a service activity at the Goose Creek State Park cleaning up trash and planting trees. It sounds like they had lots of fun! The sisters’ 2 investigators preparing for baptism, 2 young brothers, were there and they had fun! They’ve also been playing basketball with the young men in the branch! They are set to be baptized on March 25! Right before the end of the transfer!
On Sunday night, We missionaries and our Branch Mission Leader planned and conducted a “Missionary Fireside” to commemorate the end of our branch’s “40-Day Fast for Missionary Work.” It was very successful! We watched a video of Elder Holland’s talk, “Witness Unto Me” (May 2001 Ensign), then we had people speak on their missionary experiences from the fast. We closed with a “missionary training” from the missionaries and some words from our Branch President. The people who showed up to it really enjoyed it and the Spirit was very strong! I’m so glad we were able to put it on! We saw members who hadn’t been getting along before become closer that night and the Spirit of missionary work permeated the room! I just love this branch so much!
We visited a couple member families to talk about missionary work in the branch and ways we can help them to accomplish it. It wasn’t like us begging for referrals or anything, but we got a few anyways. We talked to members about their conversion stories and really built their trust in us a lot more. During a meeting with Branch President Whaley on Wednesday, we talked about the need to work with people one by one as the Savior did. We’ve seen immense blessings from this effort!
Like I said before, Our Branch did service for Goose Creek on Saturday, but I also had some fun service in New Bern during exchanges! We cleaned out a lady’s drainage ditch with the Elders Quorum. It was lots of fun and the men brought all kinds of tools and equipment which was probably a bit overboard! One member brought a tractor with a “ditch witch” attachment. It shredded up all the branches and junk in no time! The other Elders and I were swinging machetes to clear out vines and branches, (In case you don’t know, NC has lots of trees! They grow very fast too, and become a nuisance.) I should have taken pictures! I think one of the other Elders might have, but I’m not sure.
Well that was my week! Hope y’all are doing well!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
We had a little snow on Sunday morning (In the middle of pollen season!) There are also some pictures from some of our branch activities this week.

Road Hazard

Hello Everyone!

This week has been a huge learning experience, and I’ve really come to appreciate how much this work is not about me.
We were informed this week of a surprise zone meeting we would be having in New Bern last Friday. We had already scheduled some teaching appointments at that time, but rescheduling them wasn’t too big of a hassle. The real hassle came from my own mistake. As we were driving to New Bern, I decided to take a different route which was much less windy than the one we took previously. I still wanted to save miles so I left the gps on “shortest distance so that once we got close enough to where we were going, I would simply get off the main highway and follow the GPS. I turned just a little too soon because it took me to a dirt road. The road wasn’t too long and it would take us to a bigger road, so I just decided to follow it rather than turn around. I reasoned that we drive on a lot of dirt roads anyway. There was a puddle in the road; which I easily moved around while driving fast to avoid getting stuck. There was another puddle after it which was a little bigger. After planning how to get past it I decided to go for it and got stuck on the side of the puddle. I did not once think to turn around. I learned from this experience that the Lord expects us to stop in situations that are hazardous or uncertain and think rationally as well as turn to Him in prayer for a better path. Thankfully, there was a man living on that road who got us out with a truck and we were free within a half hour. We were a little late to zone conference, with our shoes a little muddy, but it was a great meeting, and I’m glad the Lord provided a way for us to receive that divine guidance. I should have done more to thank the man who helped us because he got us out of a really tough situation! I received some chastisement from our vehicle coordinator, Elder Slusser, and the car needs some minor repairs, but thankfully it wasn’t worse! (The car got a little water in it which I took a picture of. that will be the most expensive repair because the carpet needs to be taken out, cleaned and dried)
Sorry for that long piece about our car. As for real missionary work, we’ve found lot’s of people to talk about the gospel with, including a family who are investigating now! One man was really cool who we were talking to on the street! He told us we have a great spirit about us and he shared his ideas about James 1:5; which we didn’t even bring up. We gave him the restoration pamphlet, and later in the week he called us and told us he really liked the things he read in it and wants to talk about it over fishing! There was another man who is a former investigator, who we met at the park, where he told us about his conversion to Christianity. His family is super important to him. He read the Book of Mormon all the way through, but still has reservations about it; telling us he thinks it has too many Fascist ideas. He wants to make it out to our church sometime though because he’s never been. He wanted to talk about other political things, but we didn’t have answers for those. I’ve learned that even though many people have desires to live the gospel, or at least see more of what we are about, they just need to take time.
We also had a very cool experience in our regular Thursday scripture class. A less-active family we have been working with came to the class! The children want to be baptized and we are going to start teaching the lessons to them! They are a super fun family! I’m excited for them!
Well, that was my week! I hope y’all are doing well and be blessed!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

North Carolina Sunset