Feast on the Scriptures

Hello!

This week has been a full of great experiences! I’ve also learned to study the scriptures more closely. I can still get a lot better at it, but when I go into the study with questions and continue to ask questions, things pop out to me that I wouldn’t have realized, and I just have to say ooooohhhh! Then Elder Gardiner looks at me as if to say, “What is it?” Studying the scriptures is the best! We even got to do a training on it with the other missionaries in our district.
President and Sister Weed were there for that district meeting! It was super cool! Afterward, they went to the stake youth conference where the youth were reading the whole Book of Mormon in 2 days! That would be such an amazing experience! (Of course, for some, it was almost unbearable.) The cool thing was that one of the youth we are working with (daughter of an inactive member), went to the youth conference and had a great experience!
The Weeds also delivered a copy of the Book of Mormon in Arabic which we had ordered the day previous. This was the result of us meeting someone who was a Coptic Christian Egyptian and showed interest in learning about the church! We delivered the book the next day.
However, before we received our order, we tried meeting with another Egyptian family we thought had been taught in the past and received Arabic pamphlets. We tried to ask for the pamphlets back to give to our new friend instead, but they didn’t have them. Instead we taught this family about our church and they came to the third hour of church on Sunday! We introduced him to the Bishop and now we are meeting with him again, with the bishop, to talk about our basic message!
As you can see, there are weeks like this one where miracles just roll out after the other like dominoes falling! I’ve learned that I just need to trust in the paths the Lord takes me down. Even some of the weirder ideas I’ve had turned out to be inspired. For example, we saw a flashing street light in front of an apartment bldg. We saw it as a sign and knocked the one door with a light on. The lady who answered asked where she could go find the church!
One more story from the week: We tracted into a very British woman with a strong accent like you hear the lower class British people using in movies. We talked for a “good minute” and helped her realize that Joseph Smith was not just “delusional.” Elder Gardiner loves Britain so he spoke in a British accent the rest of the night!
I’ll leave y’all with this:
Ezekiel 3:1-5:    Feast on the scriptures!
Have a great week!
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More Bike Troubles

Hello everyone!

I’m honestly not thinking too straight this morning and there are a lot of people around us talking, so I’m a bit distracted. But that’s ok 🙂 I’m going to go read my scriptures some more after this.
This has been a great week! There are 2 big miracles I want to talk about, and both of them came from Elder Gardiner’s bike troubles! First of all, his derailer got bent when he shifted into first gear and it got caught in the spokes. (Elder Byrd had the same bike and his did the same exact thing.) This had us on foot, and as a result, we walked somewhere closer than we were originally planning. The person we ended up seeing became a new investigator! Then, as we were walking home, we ran into a young man in the ward. We talked with him for a while about his plans after school and Elder Gardiner was able to relate to him on more personal matters. I think this was a very spiritual experience; made possible through a bike error 🙂
The next day, I was gone on exchange, but a part member saw Elder Gardiner and Brown walking and offered to help him fix his bike! The day after that, he took us to a bike shop to get Elder Gardiner’s bike fixed. They didn’t have the part for his, but I got a new inner tube to fix up our backup bike. While we were at the bike shop, we met a less-active member, then a total stranger came up to us and asked if we had a free Book of Mormon. I totally thought he was messing with us, so I laughed and said yes. Then he said “No seriously, I’ve been trying to get one.” I immediately pulled one out of my bag and we exchanged contact information! When we got home, the backup bike started giving us problems. At that point we were laughing because of all the bike problems we were having, (and because it looked really silly when Elder Gardiner would pedal, and the bike wouldn’t move.) Later, the sister missionaries gave us their extra bike, so we are good, but we have 5 bikes now.
That’s all for today! I read some interesting stuff in Moses 6:52-68 about the Holy Ghost, so check it out!
Take care y’all!
Elder Samuel Runyan
P.S. the pics are of us signing the declaration of independence in our apartment. I will try to send a video of Elder Gardiner on “Ghetto Bike” later.

Virginia is Hot!

This week was rather hot and humid. Thankfully, the people that we tract into are very nice and about 30-50% of them give us water. It’s basically Virginia culture to give people water since it gets so dang hot! A lot of houses have pineapples somewhere around them (doormats, flags, etc..); which is a sign of hospitality around here. However, according to one young man we asked, “It’s just something the ladies around here do.”
This has been an awesome week! I must say that Elder Gardiner is a spiritual beast! (In a good way.) He is focused, and often asks, “are we using our time effectively right now?” As I said last week, the work here has been picking up as a result!
Our main focus for the past week was finding new investigators mostly through knocking on doors. It’s funny that we did this on such a hot week! People saw us and told us we were crazy for being out in the heat! Some even got angry at us for putting ourselves at risk for a cause they thought was meaningless. That did not stir us and we took great comfort in Matthew 10:14 and Acts 5:41. Thankfully, there were several who appreciated our dedication and expressed interest in learning more. We are keeping close records of each of these experiences, so we can effectively plan to follow up with each one.
We are also trying to focus on working with all the active members in the ward. We have developed a method of tracking each one called “AM-Plan.” It is starting off slow, with people on vacation, but we are already seeing progress.
There are definitely things I can improve on, and I am working to strengthen my relationship with the Savior gradually. I am so grateful for the wonderful examples in my life!
Sincerely,
Elder Samuel Runyan
We saw a cicada on our front porch!

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“I Can Do All Things Through Christ Which Strengtheneth Me.” (Phillipians 4:13)

Well this has been the absolute best week ever! Go America! The scripture in my title was referred to by a man we met this week who was originally from Kenya. From the sound of it, apparently he was a member of the church then and served a mission in Korea. This scripture was actually quite suiting to describe our week, as we were striving to learn this principle. In return, we were able to witness miracles by the divine mercy of God.

The thing that stands out from the week was actually the message our mission president shared in zone conferences. I learned from the Larsens, (senior couple missionaries) that he had been preparing the talk for months and finally felt this an appropriate time to share this very important message. Due to the sheer volume of everything he prepared, he had to read his talk, and was only able to share part of it. It really drained him. He talked about obedience, but not in the way you might think. The reason he found this talk so difficult to deliver was because he needed to carefully tell us to stop being so obedient and to be more obedient. My study journal exploded with notes, but unfortunately, I don’t have it with me; so here’s what I have from memory. (This applies to more than just missionaries)
Missionaries in this mission have developed a desperate desire to be “exactly obedient,” as Elder Oaks has encouraged in the past. This is a good desire, but President Weed noticed that in many cases, it was leading to feelings of frustration and inadequacies among missionaries. He agonized over the solution to this, and it essentially came down to motives. However, this is a topic that can not be simplified, due to the many interpretations of ways one could explain the problem. Essentially, missionaries thought that they could bring about miracles of their own volition through their exact obedience. First, we can ever be “exactly obedient.”  Second, only Christ, who brought about miracles and even his own salvation by his obedience was “exactly obedient.” The other points President Weed shared in full were:
  1. Obedience
  2. Striving
  3. Receiving Correction
  4. Trust
I can’t even tell you how much Elder Gardiner, I, and everyone else in this mission needed this counsel.
Well, here are a few more of the miracles for the week:
One of our investigators read all the way to 2 Nephi in a week, and is still reading!
Another investigator came to our Thursday scripture class and heard our message about “faith unto deliverance” based on 1 Nephi 2-4, Hebrews 11, and other select scriptures; which was exactly what he needed.
We committed a less-active family to prepare to go to the temple, and the returning sister we have been working with is very close to getting her endowments now!
We had a great lesson with another investigator, and helped him make friends with a brother in the ward who recently moved in.
We started teaching a new investigator from a member referral.
We met with several active member families to talk about increasing their missionary efforts.
We taught a lesson to a former investigator we have been looking for for months, and his cousin Jeff.
One of our investigators came to church and everyone loved him!
This was probably one of the most successful weeks of my mission. However, it was not all fine and dandy. We experienced some very dark and discouraging moments as well. This was all the result of hard work, but I know it was only possible through God’s will because we wanted to devote ourselves to Him, not for self-gratification.
Hope y’all had a happy 4th! God bless America!
-Elder Samuel Runyan​
Here is a video of our attempt at healthy eating and a picture of a “Japanese cucumber” we got from Jeff’s brother (they own a farm.)
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We Are Professional Movers Now!

Hey y’all!
Oh man! It has been a great week! On Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, we helped 3 families in the ward in the process of moving! Since this is a military ward, we have a lot of that! Besides that, we had some great things happen!
We taught a second lesson to one of our new investigators from last week, and he had already read a considerable portion of the Book of Mormon than most, and retained a lot of information from our lesson! We are going to commit him to be baptized in our next visit!
We taught a mission prep class on Wednesday for the youth in the ward! This is my second time doing this, but this one was very good! We had them get into companionships and study a heading in lesson 2 of chapter 3 in PMG and teach it to one of the leaders role-playing as an investigators. They’ve had several of these mission prep classes in the past, but we noticed many of them still seemed nervous, so we made the focus on bearing testimony. That seemed to help them really open up from their shell because they didn’t have to worry about anything except bearing testimony. Really, I think that’s the most important thing we do as missionaries.
We found the Waldo of our area! There is a man named Roy who lives on a farm near the church. He doesn’t really have a home, so we drop by the farm sometimes hoping to see him, and we finally did! His family has been urging us to help him for some time now, and he has told previous missionaries he wants to be baptized, so that is exciting!
We had dinner with a really awesome family in the ward! They don’t come to church much, but they are super friendly with the missionaries, and believe it’s all true! Plus, he is a great pit master, and loved to talk about video games when Elder Byrd and I would drop by, (especially Assassins Creed.) It was a great lesson, and we committed them to start preparing to go to the temple! I am excited for them!
Fast Sunday was great! We made a serious committment to fast for a full 24 hours with no complaints for one of our investigators named Matthew. It felt very uplifting, and the investigator we taught that night, James, seemed impressed by our dedication.
Well, Elder Gardiner is an awesome Missionary! I learn so much from him every day! We’ve learned that we have a lot of potential together; we just have to be very supportive and understanding of each other, and the Lord will perform miracles! Here are some fun facts about him:
  • He is from West Jordan and was born in Manassas Virginia
  • 19 yrs old
  • Sport- Track and Cross-Country
  • Favorite Color- Navy Blue
  • College- BYU Provo
  • Major- BioChemistry
Here are some things I studied:
In Judges 6:29– the fact that the Baal worshipers suspected that Gideon was the one who tore down their abominable alter and groves shows that he did not hide his standards. They knew what kind of person Gideon was. We likewise should not be afraid to stand for truth and righteousness.
I did a comparison between Nephi 8 (Lehi’s vision) and Joseph Smith’s first vision. It was a very insightful study because I found that God has certain requirements and patterns in giving revelation, such as a choice. Lehi chose to eat the fruit and Joseph Smith chose to accept his calling as a prophet.
2 Ne 10:24-25 tells us that we must be reconciled to God. I take it that we must pay a token of a broken heart and contrite spirit, and then we are saved solely by the grace of God.
Have a great 4th of July!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
Quote of the week!
“It is fast Sunday…. so that means we need to bike fast today!”
– Elder Gardiner
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Pure Testimony is Very Powerful!

Hello All!

I don’t have much time to email, but I just wanted to give a quick update! My new companion is Elder Gardiner! I can tell this will be a great transfer! It was also a great week because we found 3 new investigators and some very solid potential investigators!
Here are some scriptures:
Acts 5:39– (from Elder Gardiner) when we have negativity, we are serving the devil. As he put it “don’t be a double agent for God and Satan”.
Alma 4:19– Pure testimony is very powerful!
Sorry I had to keep it short! Take care y’all!
-Elder Samuel Runyan

Remission of Sins

Hello!

Happy Father’s Day Dad!
I’ll be honest, I am pretty tired right now! Biking in Virginia weather is an experience! The past few days have been a mix of Sunshine and Thunderstorms in one day ranging around 75-90deg every day.  I hear it’s hot in California right now, but here you start sweating the moment you step out the door because of humidity. We got hit with 4 thunderstorms in one day this week with sunshine in between. It was hot rain. It’s really hard to describe.
Transfers will take place on Wednesday. Sadly, Elder Byrd will be leaving 😞. He is going to Nags Head, NC! That is on the Outer Banks! (The very, very thin strip of land between the Pamlico Sound and the Atlantic Ocean. It’s probably less than a mile wide in most places.) My new companion will be Elder Gardiner! I don’t know much about him, except that he is still pretty new to the mission.
Not too much happened this week. We came up with a really great idea that I’m excited to use more! I have a bike bag that happens to be pretty well insulated, so we’ve started just putting 3 or 4 chilled water bottles in it. Now whenever we see someone running, working on their lawn, or something like that, we offer them water! Most people are really happy to take it, and it makes them more willing to talk for a few minutes! We have one pretty solid potential investigator from it already after 2 days of trying it out!
My bike got fixed a few weeks ago, but a spoke broke again, so I’m back to using a backup bike. This is a backup to the backup bike because that one is broken too.
Here are some highlights from my studies:
Helaman 5. I did the challenge I mentioned in my last email with this chapter! It was a great experience! Although it got tedious at parts, the feeling that this book must be true started to flood over me! I actually got drawn back to Helaman 5:10-11 afterwards while studying repentance. The words, in, from, because, conditions, unto stuck out to me, and I drew a little diagram shown here. The ladder made it easier for me to understand (if you ever find a poem called “The Holes” I think, it shows a similar picture.) Jesus can’t climb the ladder for us, but as soon as we start, He is there to help us, so that He can use His power to bring us to Eternal Life.
Repentance Diagram
HOLES

I had been in that hole for a very long time
In the dark and the damp, in the cold and the slime.
The shaft was above me; I could see it quite clear
But there’s no way I ever could reach it from here.
Nor could I remember the world way up there
So I lost all my hope and gave in to despair.
I knew nothing but darkness, the floor, and the walls
Then off in the distance I heard someone call:
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder.”

This had never occurred to me– had not crossed my mind.
But I started to stack all the stones I could find.
When I ran out of stones, then old sticks were my goal,
For one way or another I’d get out of that hole.
So I soon had a ladder that was sturdy and tall
And I thought, “I’ll soon leave this place once and for all.”
I climbed up my ladder. It was no easy chore,
For from lifting those boulders, my shoulders were sore.
I climbed on up the ladder, but soon had to stop
For my ladder stopped short– some ten feet from the top.

I climbed back down my ladder and started to cry
I’d done all I could do. I gave my best try.
And in spite of my work, in this hole I must die.
And all I could do was to sit and think, “Why?”
Was my ladder too short? Or my hole much too deep
Then from way upon high came a voice, “Do not weep.”
And then faith, hope, and love entered into my chest
As the voice said to me that I’d done my best.

He said, “You’ve worked very hard, and your labor’s been rough,
But the ladder you’ve built is at last tall enough.
Do not despair. You have reason to hope.
Just climb up your ladder; I’ll throw down my rope.”
I climbed up the ladder, then climbed up the cord.
When I got to the top, there stood the Lord.
I couldn’t be happier; my struggle was done.
I blinked in the brightness that came from the Son.

I fell to the ground, His feet did I kiss
I cried, “What can I do to repay thee for this?”
Then He looked all about Him. There were holes in the ground
They had people inside, and were seen all around
There were thousands of holes that were damp, dark, and deep
The the Lord turned to me and He said, “Feed my sheep.”

Then He went on His way to help other lost souls,
And I got right to work, calling down to the holes:
“Get up! Get ready! There’s nothing the matter.
Take rocks and old sticks and build up a fine ladder.”

It now was my turn to spread the good word.
The most glorious message that man ever heard.
That there’s one who is willing to save one and all
And we’ve got to be ready when He gives the call.
He’ll pull us all out of the hole that we’re in
And save all our souls from death and from sin.
So do not lose faith; there is reason to hope
Just build up your ladder; He’ll throw down His rope.

~Scott Lewis and elders from his mission

Today, I studied the “Remission of Sins,” described often in the Book of Mormon. True to the Faith pg. 25 and Mosiah 4:11-12, 26 describe this well. I found a note in the margin which I forgot about, with the date 2/13/17, that said this scripture was a huge strength to my conversion. It explains how to retain a remission of sins in these steps:
  1. Remember God’s greatness and our nothingness
  2. humbly call on God daily
  3. Stand steadfast in your faith
  4. give to the poor and help the physically and spiritually afflicted
  5. (Really anything that has to do with repentance and enduring to the end)
The results are as follows:
  1. You will be filled with the Love of God
  2. You will grow in knowledge and glory of Him
  3. You will stand guiltless before God
To really appreciate these steps, we must first recognize what that precious “remission of sins” is. It is the feeling of profound forgiveness from our Savior which comes from no other source. Learn what this feels like through desire and sincere effort to repent.
One last note: We heard from a homecoming missionary, Tymon Zhou and a departing missionary, Katy Tackett on Sunday! They gave great talks!
I hope y’all are having a great summer! Be blessed!
Elder Samuel Runyan
*The first pics show a hole in our bathroom ceiling we are getting fixed. The last pics are a little trick Elder Weber, our district leader, showed us to make light sabers! You can probably figure it out if you look close enough