“Are We Not All Beggars?”

Hello!

Transfer calls came, and I am staying here in Virginia Beach! Elder Allen is going to Hampton to be with Elder Brown who I served close to when I was in Poquoson! I will be training another new missionary for the next 3 months!
There is so much to be grateful for and so many opportunities to serve others for all of you, so I would encourage you to look for those opportunities! Pray for them because I know it serves God to serve others, and when you serve Him, he will return that to you! I learned this week, from Mosiah 4:19-25, about why we should always serve those in need. There is a phrase there, “are we not all beggars?” We do all have needs which God can meet. On the same note, Jesus Christ went below all of us, and he knows all our pains and struggles better than we do. If he knows us that well, then he feels what we feel. If you make one person happy, you are making Christ happy.
A wonderful family we met fed us on Tuesday! They are Catholic and very strong in their faith, so they did not want to learn more, but they were still very nice to us!
We also had an interesting experience with an investigator who told us she was baptized in our church a long time ago. We can’t find her records, but she’s not all there. The wonderful Sister Goings has helped be her friend, and took her to the ward’s Christmas party this Friday! That was lots of fun, and a few investigators came!
We’ve tried caroling already, and I’m hoping to play the cello to share the Christmas Spirit and #lighttheworld with people! Probably the highlight from the week was inviting our investigator to fast the full 24 hours yesterday for fast sunday. He is at a rock in a hard place right now, so we promised fasting would give him the strength to endure. He was going strong at church, and now we have to find out if he made it the whole way!
Happy Holidays!
Elder Runyan
I included a picture of some twice-baked potatoes I made, one of the pictures is Elder Allen and I doing companionship inventory. (All the missionaries out there will get it!) and one of the pictures below is of our district.
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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.

Service is the Best!

Hey’all!

This week was pretty much awesome! Thank you Dad for sending that quote from President Hinckley about optimism last week!
As a missionary in England, Elder Hinckley worked hard to follow his parents’ counsel. He and his companions shook hands each morning and told each other, “Life is good.”4 Almost 70 years later, he suggested that a group of missionaries in the Philippines follow the same practice. “Yesterday was a great day in my life,” he told them. “Every day is a great day in my life. I hope every day is a great day in your lives—every one of you. I hope you can get ready to go in the morning and shake the hand of your companion and say, ‘Brother (Sister), life is good. Let’s go out and have a good day.’ And when you come in at night, I hope you can say to one another, ‘It’s been a good day. We’ve had a good time. We’ve helped somebody along the way. … We’ll follow up with them and pray and hope that they will come into the Church.’ Every day ought to be a good day in the mission field.”5
That has been a big motivator for me! I Just love this mission and everything about it! This week we’ve had some great experiences working with members. The sisters and we have been fasting and praying to know how to help this branch, and I’ve had some amazing spiritual experiences from that, confirming to me why I am out here on a mission.
Our Elders Quorum President, Brother Kukahiko is awesome! He went out with us on Monday and we visited some less active members. He is a great missionary, and shared his testimony well! He has that attitude of being helpful the way missionaries are. This branch may have its struggles, but the members here are some of the most missionary minded I’ve seen! We worked with Brother Kukahiko to get the Branch’s FHE nights going again. The members really liked when we did them, and they were a lot of fun! We are helping plan for it.
We got a couple new investigators this week. One of them was pretty interested; the other one we dropped shortly after he became an investigator. The whole lesson he was trying to tell us why we were wrong, and we didn’t want to get into bible bashing, so I asked, “Have you felt spiritually uplifted during this visit?” and he said no, so we decided he didn’t have much desire to change. A lot of appointments with our investigators fell through, but I think that gave us a chance to re-evaluate our approach to missionary work. We want to try working more closely with members so they can develop more trust and confidence in us, and we can uplift them more.
This week we did a lot of service for people; which was awesome! We dug up a bush for someone, cleaned out someone’s shed, helped someone move, and just did little things like smile and talk to people. When we are serving, I can feel so much more love for people, and they become a lot more open and trusting with us. We also had to do a training in Zone meeting and taught a lesson in church. We were kind of feeling blocked as we were preparing for these, but we felt the Spirit’s guidance very strongly as we taught, and those we taught were able to learn a lot by the Spirit as well as ourselves! The missionaries in our zone were able to receive revelation for how to resolve their investigators’ concerns, and our Sunday class learned a lot about sacrifice. That concept of sacrifice and the Law of Consecration has meant a lot to me, because I’ve realized how little I can offer to the Lord compared to what he’s given me. Despite this, I will give as much as I can, because I know what incomparable joy it brings! I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior, and I love the opportunity I have to wear His name on my chest!
I hope y’all are doing well!
– Elder Runyan
These are pictures of my old planner versus my new one. It’s crazy how beat up they get!

Basketball is an Important Missionary Skill

Hello everyone!

This was a great week! I’m going to try set this email up day by day like I see lots of missionaries do.
Monday:
We got haircuts and did other p-day stuff. We met with a new investigator who I think is pretty cool! We are going to try setting him with a baptismal date today.
Tuesday:
We did service most of the morning for a really cool member of our church! He moved in a few months ago and was less-active, but has made it to church every Sunday since we met him about a month ago! We always have great gospel conversations with him which are lots of fun! We moved stuff out of his storage unit for him. He lives out in Bath, so travel time eats up a lot of our schedule.
Wednesday:
We taught the mother and daughter who were set with baptismal dates. Since they haven’t made it out to church, we asked them to pray and set a new date. They don’t have one yet. I realized today that basketball is an important missionary skill! We played ball with one of our investigators who is 14 and did fine, but then these older guys wanted to play with us and smoked us! For a lot of the kids out here, basketball is all they do their whole lives. We’ve found out that it’s more show-play than real basketball because they are mostly trying to look cool. They still smoked us though. We played with the young men as well tonight and had to try to break that habit of looking cool and making shots by getting them to pass the ball more. Their game is on Saturday! (We probably played too much ball today.)
Thursday:
We met with a couple recent converts. One of them is really struggling to do what he knows is right. We gave him a priesthood blessing. Please pray for him; he really means a lot to us and comes out with us often. The sister missionaries gave a great lesson tonight about faith! (We always teach a scriptures study class for members and investigators on Thursday nights.)
Friday:
After District meeting, I went on a trio exchange with the New Bern Elders (Elders Davis, Oldroyd, and Collier.) Elder Collier is just working with them until he gets his new companion on Wednesday because we lost Elder Ward. It was super fun working with a trio! It was like we had extra fire when we were in lessons. We worked really well together! (Plus, we can go into single ladies houses without needing another adult male with us!) Elder Staheli also had a successful day with Elder Davis getting 2 new investigators and 2 member present lessons!
Saturday:
We had several media referrals in Plymouth, so we got our branch mission leader, Brother O’Brien, to drive us out there. We had 3 solid lessons out there! One of them even told us he wanted to become a member of our church! It was really a miracle! We also got Transfer Calls this morning! I will be staying in Washington as the designated driver and my companion will be Elder Aland! (Pretty sure he’s also going to be the new district leader.) Elder Staheli will be a zone leader in Goldsboro! I’m done with training now!
Sunday:
Lots of people bore their testimony, and it was a great fast Sunday! We met with the Young Men, and The young men’s president gave the boys his testimony. It was really powerful! I think he is meant to really bring these boys together, and make them strong leaders that their friends can look up to. President Whaley told us meeting with the young men was is his favorite thing about being Branch President.
Well, that was my week! I’ll send whatever pictures I have in a bit. Hope y’all are doing well! How’s the MTC Josh?
– 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