First Week in the Salem Ward

Hello!

This was a pretty busy week! Honestly, our first few days here were a blur! We didn’t know anything, but now it feels like we know what’s going on! The members here often invite us over for dinner which I am grateful for! They have really helped us know who to work with and things like that. When we got here, the area book was a bit of a mess and nothing was updated later than July, but we’ve done a lot of organizing and a lot of calling which helped! I usually don’t like spending too much time using the phone, but I’ve got to say it is useful! We were able to set up a lot of appointments that way!
Some of the best experiences we’ve had so far in Salem were from finding new investigators and hearing members’ conversion stories, of which I will share a few details. One family we met were Christians their whole lives and swapped between several different churches. They were very disappointed with what they saw in the churches, and finally decided to stop attending all together except for a weekly bible study class. One day they felt prompted to go to our church, and they found that it was exactly what they were looking for for years!
We found one investigator after a disappointing miscommunication between us and the other Salem elders which caused us to miss a lesson with an existing investigator. We took the opportunity instead to knock doors on the street. We then met a man who didn’t believe too strongly in God, but wanted to learn more. One day, as we went back to visit him, we ended up talking to his neighbor across the street instead, who was more than willing to talk to us about our message! There was also a cool experience on Sunday, when a member brought her friend to church and we got to invite her to learn more!
Elder Allen is great! He is very easy to train because he has great faith and confidence. Where many missionaries would be cracking under the pressure, he is holding up great! I make sure to talk to him about stress just to make sure though. We got haircuts today and played sports with the zone. It was really fun!
Scripture of the week! Romans 8:14-17. I especially liked this one in comparison with Romans 7:14-25. There is some great doctrine about salvation in these verses. I am going to study it out more to understand it better.

14 For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

15 For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father.

16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Have a great week y’all!
Elder Samuel Runyan

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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)

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