Awesome Members and Bike Problems

Hello Everyone!

This has been a great week thanks to the devoted efforts of the Poquoson Ward! A month or 2 ago, President Weed announced a surprising change; he asked us to encourage members not to offer us meals so often, so that we have more time to proselyte, and when we do have meals, there should be a focus on missionary work. Since then, the information has passed through ward mission leaders to ward bishoprics, and many wards have decided to make changes to how members offer meals. In the Poquoson Ward, we encourage members to invite a friend, investigator, less-active, etc.. Otherwise, they are encouraged to schedule the meal before 6:00pm. This week, we had 3 lessons in members homes with a neighbor, friend, or investigator. In fact, that is where the majority of our lessons were. I don’t think Poquoson is the only ward with members who are excited to share the gospel, but I feel blessed to be around such amazing people!
One family in particular helped us immensely with teaching an investigator who received some upsetting news that will hinder his progress towards becoming baptized. This wonderful family, I am convinced, have helped him so much in gaining a testimony about Jesus Christ and the restored gospel far more than we or previous missionaries have! When he came to them with this concern, they were able to help and comfort him far better than we could. I am very grateful to have witnessed the amazing changes that have happened in this investigator’s life because of the gospel!
I also had fun with the origami book Mom sent me! I made two frogs that I gave to the kids of a member family that fed us.  They also invited a neighbor, who had a lot of questions about what missionaries do!
Unfortunately, I’ve had some bike problems this week as well. Halfway through the week, A spoke on the back wheel of my bike broke and the wheel became really warped. I started riding the backup bike the mission provided which a previous missionary had spray-painted “Ghetto Bike” Ghetto bike didn’t last too long before I ran over a nail which popped the back tire. I spent a good long time patching it and was able to ride it for the next two days, but somehow when we were biking in the rain, the hub in the back wheel disconnected from the wheel and we had to walk it back home in pouring rain. Thankfully, a member in the ward was willing to fix my bike! He fixed Ghetto bike in a minute somehow. I’m not sure what he did, but it works!
We did get some pity from one man who saw us biking in the rain! He said we could come back any time! We knocked on another family’s door, and they saw that we were walking in the pouring rain, and just kinda said oh… have fun. We were going to see if we could teach a lesson, but they made up an excuse. No grudges I promise!
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Anyways, that was my week! Sunday was awesome! The Sisters brought an investigator who we taught about the priesthood in gospel principles class! He seemed to really enjoy church! There were great speakers during sacrament meeting as well!
Take care y’all!
-Elder Runyan
Pictures:
We saw the birds again!
Couple missionary drove us through Fort Eustice! (Meeting house, and James River)

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We saw a bunch of planes flying around one day! (One left behind red smoke)
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We Saw Elder Cook!

Hello!

This week was awesome! We found 2 new investigators, (more than we usually find in this area,) and 3 investigators came to sacrament meeting.

Tuesday:
We had an interesting lesson with an investigator. He likes to go off on tangents a lot, so we tried to just teach the lesson. He agreed that next time he will try try to let us actually teach the lesson. He was on the verge of saying he was good with his faith, but we helped him to realize that he hasn’t given us much of a chance to say what we need to say. Later, we had dinner with a family in the ward with a returning less-active member. The son is a ward missionary. We had a great discussion, and enjoyed reading the Book of Mormon together!
Wednesday:
This was just a normal day in the life of a missionary. We dropped off some tupperware that the sister missionaries asked us to return to people, and all the members we brought them to asked if we could come over for dinner.
Thursday:
I went on an exchange with the district leader, Elder Rogers. It was awesome! He is a great missionary! We were on foot the whole day. We taught a less active member about Easter and an investigator about the Book of Mormon. We focused on bearing testimony frequently in those lessons, and I noticed a real difference when we did that! Meanwhile, Elder Byrd and Brown had a great lesson with one of our long-term investigators.
Friday:
I studied a lot about the last week of the Savior’s mortal ministry. That has been a very inspiring study for me. We finished the exchange finding a potential investigator. The rest of the day was pretty normal.
Saturday:
We saw Elder Cook and his wife! It was a wonderful meeting, and probably the only time I’ll ever see the whole mission gathered in one place like that! The previous mission president was President Baker, so President Weed joked that it should have been the Bakers to welcome the Cooks. Elder Cook talked about the importance of Easter. He talked about the various appearances of the resurrected Christ, (something I felt inspired to study beforehand,) and He mentioned something cool about D&C 110. It was on April 3 which happened to be Easter and Passover, a rare event. The resurrected Christ appeared at the Kirtland Temple. Shortly after, Moses commits the keys of the gathering of Israel, (missionary work.) Similarly, other accounts of the resurrected Christ in the New Testament make mention of missionary work, (i.e. “Feed my lambs”). Clearly, Christ is telling us missionary work is an important part of this dispensation, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints sends out more full-time missionaries, (currently 70,000,) than anyone else! Also, in D&C 110, Elijah committed the sealing keys on the Passover and Easter when Jews everywhere where holding an open seat for him to come! He actually came! I thought that was so cool!
There were other great messages shared as well! A member of the 70, Elder Calderwell talked about how we do well teaching repentance unto baptism, but need to do better teaching continual repentance forever, (he called it “real time repentance”,) and he shared lots of scriptures, (D&C 11:9, 14:7-8, 15:3-6, 18:13, 58:42-43, Isaiah 1:18) Elder Cook also talked about inviting, and his wife talked about Christlike attributes in the context of hymns. The 2nd line of “Lord I would Follow Thee” has a great story behind it! The writer was with a woman who was buying burial clothes for a baby and the merchant didn’t know what it was for. He said things like “she will look, so lovely in this,” but the lady held her composure. In the end of the meeting, Elder Cook gave us an apostolic blessing, (my first!) It was a wonderful experience! We all got to shake his hand in the beginning as well, and before the meeting, we took a mission picture with Elder Cook and his wife!
To end this wonderful day, we found one new investigator, and had dinner with a member family!
Sunday:
We had a great Easter! Probably my best because I was so focused on the Savior. We sang “He is Risen” in the Ward choir, and I got to know more of the members! Later, we had dinner with a member family, and shared a message with several families. We spent the rest of the day biking around trying to see people. We met one potential investigator who was about to go fishing, and a less-active member we’ve been trying to see for a while. He was really nice!
Well, that was my week! I forgot to mention the pictures! Some were just nature scenes with Spring happening right now. also a picture of a nest of chicks on someone’s door! I have a video I will send as well, and another video of some “chucks!”
Hope y’all had a happy Easter!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
 

Adjusting to a New Area

Hello!

This week has been great! It’s also a learning experience for me adjust to a new area, but it is a good opportunity for me! Elder Byrd is a great missionary! I’m learning a lot from him! Here’s a little bit about him:
He is also from Sacramento! He’s still new to the mission; he just finished training before I came here! He likes computers and fixing things. He also really likes going through the Bible and “fixing” false doctrines and misunderstandings that people bring up. He still knows the area much better than I do, and I’m learning a lot about how to get started in a new area.
We taught as many people as we could throughout the week and heard lots of interesting stories, including a man who had an interesting vision that sounded like the Spirit World. We also taught a less-active member who is working towards going to the temple! She reminded me a lot of a recent convert from Washington. She’s had a lot of trials, but she gains great strength to overcome them when she comes to church! I’m excited for her!
I’ve also heard about 4 investigators here who are waiting to be baptized! One is 17 and needs his parents’ permission, one is the husband of a member. He is deployed oversees and has been going to church every week there! He is waiting to get back to be baptized. Two have expressed that they want to be baptized, and are working to overcome some things holding them back. I haven’t met all of them, but I’m excited to! Elder Byrd explained that this area has “nothing but the elect” because it is hard to find people to teach, but the people we do teach progress very well!
There were two highlights to my week:
Friday: We had Zone meeting and learned a lot about sacrifice, being bold and promising blessings from some very inspired trainings. I took lots of notes, and wrote down commitments the Spirit was telling me to make. One thing I wrote was that, “When it’s hard to be a missionary, that is when it is most important to be one.” I think the same applies to discipleship in general although both are inseparably connected. After the meeting, we had the chance to apply what we learned about boldly promising blessings to an investigator who told us he wanted to be baptized and quit smoking. We didn’t have to say much, because he knew the Book of Mormon was true, and the Spirit was very strong. As we showed concern and compassion for him, and promised blessings for keeping commitments, his heart opened up. We will be seeing him again today!
Saturday: We had interviews with President and Sister Weed! It was a brief meeting, but I was glad to witness the real concern they have for each of us missionaries. Sister Weed talked about my studies and my allergies; which have been pretty bad lately. President Weed talked about adjusting to a new area. After the interviews, we stayed for a baptism that was happening in the Stake Center. It was the Yorktown sisters’ investigator and a young boy. The investigator’s daughter called it a “bathtism” and sang with one of the sister missionaries! It was cute. We had invited some of our investigators to attend, but none could make it.
Sunday was also great because I finally met the members in a church setting! There was a great Elder’s quorum lesson about self worth. It was interesting to be in a class with a bunch of military guys. Well, I’ve got to log off soon. Here is a random picture of our apartment (I forgot to take pictures. We’ve been biking, so it’s hard. Sorry.)
Thank y’all for the support!
-Elder Samuel Runyan
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General Conference is the Best!

Hello!

This has been a hectic week! I spent the beginning of the week saying goodbye to people, while still doing missionary work. One of the members didn’t know I was leaving, and when I told him he said, “You suck!” It was funny! I spent most of P-day packing. I miss Washington, it was a great place to be a missionary! When it came time to leave, our branch mission leader drove us to Greenville for me to get on the transfer van. He kept joking that I was happy to get out of Washington. He’s funny, I’ll miss him! It was about a 3.5 hour drive crammed in the back of the van to Portsmouth which felt even longer. When I got there the Zone leaders picked me and Elder Godfrey, the new zone leader, up and drove me through busy Newport News to my new area and new companion, Elder Byrd! We drove on a tunnel bridge which I had been wanting to do since I got on the mission and learned that they existed! One minute you are driving on a bridge over the water, then you go underwater into a tunnel!
Anyways, I am now serving in the Poquoson Ward! The Newport News South Stake had boundary changes just before I got here so we lost a few areas, including Langley Air Force Base, but not much else. Things have been really busy for missionaries here adjusting to the changes, and I came in right in the middle of it. We share the ward with a sister companionship. They cover the actual town of Poquoson while we cover the rest. Our area is rather wealthy, and there are a lot of military people here. We also cover Langley off-base family housing where several of the members live. They don’t tend to stay very long, so the size of the ward fluctuates often. We expect to lose about 5 families there next month, (I think.) Unfortunately, we aren’t allowed to proselyte in off-base housing, but we do say hello to people walking on the street. Another thing about the area, It is half car/ half bike. We trade off the car with the sisters every week. This week we are biking, and Elder Byrd is waiting for his bike to be fixed. Thankfully, we have a back up called “ghetto bike” However, if it rains, he refuses to ride it because the brakes don’t work in the rain I guess. We’ve already done a little walking here. The area’s small enough we can do that, but it was still a lot of walking.
I’m still learning about this area, and I’m trying to get to know as many people here as I can. We helped one family move on Saturday, and we had a pretty cool experience with a member family last night! We were trying to visit some people in an area, and Elder Byrd decided we should drop by a member family that lived across the street. We did and it turned out they were spying us across the street! They mom told us about a friend she is talking to about the gospel! We were able to do a role play with them to help her prepare to talk to her friend. It was great!
I loved General Conference this week! I learned a ton! We have a really solid investigator who watched it. There were several talks that I think were specifically for him! It was perfect! We were also hoping to have another investigator watch it with us, but there was a problem. He only wanted to attend one session and we told him the different times. He said the 8pm session (priesthood session,) worked best with his schedule. We told him that particular session is tailored specifically to the men in the church so he decided to make the 4pm Saturday session work. Well, Saturday morning he called us and told us he changed his mind and wanted to go to the 8pm session instead. Apparently, he forgot what we told him the previous night, and he showed up with his wife. I caught her in the corner of my eye with a sort of horrified look as she walked in then out of the chapel. I nudged Elder Byrd that we needed to chase after them. Sure enough, it was them. He scolded us for not reminding him of the priesthood session, and said he would try to come on Sunday, but he didn’t. We told him his wife was completely welcome, but he didn’t want her to feel weird being there 😦 That was pretty disappointing. General Conference was amazing though! Some talks I really liked: Elder Choi, Elder Rasband, Sister Jones, Elder Clayton, Elder Uchtdorf, Elder Costa, Elder Eyring, and many others!
I hope y’all had a blessed week! Here are pictures of my new companion, and something I noticed about cigarette signs that I think is kinda funny.
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Elder Runyan and Elder Byrd

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Cigarette Ad

-Elder Samuel Runyan

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.
Monday:
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.
Tuesday:
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!
Wednesday:
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.
Thursday:
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!
Friday:
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.
Saturday:
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!
Sunday:
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.
Activities:
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!
Visits:
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!
Service:
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.