Wednesday, September 25, 2013

September 24th 2013

Well, Ogden definitely wanted to send me to Mexico with an exciting last couple of weeks haha! I guess I'll start off by letting you all know that the Lord protects his servants!!! Even from black BMWs flying down a mian road and not seeing a line of cars stopped.....mission car totalled. Yes, I was driving ha. We were just sitting there and she hit us going about 40 mph and it was a loud and hard impact. The car is totalled and so is hers, but all of us missionaries are fine. She came out and hat cuts and bruises but not a single scratch on any of us. We were truly being watched over!!!

Elder Aragon and I were walking down that same main road later, and I felt like we should cross the street, but we kept walking straight anyways. This guy came up to us and asked us if we could help him because he lost his job. The only thing is he was supperrrrrr DRUNK haha. He was really funny for a while but then he kept drinking and things turned for the worst. He really liekd Aragon's tie and really wanted it. So bad that he grabbed Aragons tie and threatened to kill him for it! His neighbor was there and helped us out and told us to just walk away, so we did. All good....until we turn around and see him chasing after us! He chased us for 2 blocks down this main road. Then he threatened to kick me in the nuts if Aragon didnt give him his tie!!!! Long story cut short, we eventually got away and all is well haha. Protected once again!!!

Besides crazy adventures we also had some crazy sweet spiritual experiences. Alicia was baptized!!!!!! It was so exciting seeing her get ready and have her feel so ready. She has been waiting for 8 years and finally has mad the changes in order to be ready...and now she's clean!!! There was a big turnout which I know helped her a lot. The spirit was so strong and she just looked so happy. I was so glad to be able to help someone enter the waters of baptism while I was here in Ogden. 

Another great experience was with an investigators we found named Joel, Venely and their 2 kids. He was so prepared and was very curious and receptive about our message. We taught him about the power of the atonement and a short lesson we call here the 5 Essentials. We talk about: Our purpose, the Holy Ghost, The atonement, baptism, and invite them to act in someway. We discussed all these with him and he was super interested. At the beginning of the lesson he flat out told us he didnt want to be baptized, but at the end he agreed that we would all work for him to be ready for the 13th of October!!!! He even came to a baptism we had on Thursday and he said he really liked it. The only thing is, that we found out a couple days later that he isnt married to Venely like we assumed they were! So we'll work on that and I know they are still totally being prepared to make covenants and changes. 

We've had the opportunity to work with a couple of great Less-active families. One is the Gastelum family and we had a family night with them and were able to bless their home before we left and it was way cool. I got to try and do it in Spanish, and at least it brought the spirit!! :) The other family is the Cordova's, who I have talked about before. The dad is now officially active and we have had some really good Family Night's with them. They are always super kind and show us so much love. Definitely one of my favorite families in the ward, and it has been great working with them. 

It has been so awesome to serve here in Ogden, but I am also sooooo stoked to go to Mexico!!!! I leave at 8:40 next Monday morning!!!!! much love to all and I hope all is well. P.S. Elder Cullum....good luck down in Mexico and in Tennessee!!!!!!! It'll be cool knowing you, Parker and I will all be in Mexico at the same time!!!!

Mucho amor,

Elder Connell
Alicia at her baptism.
From left to Right: Guzman, Folkman, Escobar, yo, Aragon, Wright

La Familia Cordova

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17 2013

Hola mi familia!! 

This week has been just me and Elder Aragon working together because Elder Rupp left for Idaho. The anticipation for Mexico is definitely building and I'm so excited!!!!

I hope my emails don't become too long to enjoy haha there are just so many miracles to try to pack in! I guess we'll start with the good news....miracle baptism!!! I guess we should start again with the power of fast first. This week we fasted and prayed to be able to reach our baptism goal of 2 for this transfer. It was the lasty Sunday people could come to church to be baptized this transfer. Before we started our fast we had a dinner at a member's home. One of the members sisters came up to us and simply said, "Me quiero bautizar" (I want to get baptized). What???? Soo crazy!!! The Lord was blessing us to reach our goal even before we began fasting! To make it even more crazy her niece also said she wants to get baptized! We thought "wow it was that easy??" Turns out the neices dad wants her to wait until he gets home from working in December, so that was definitely a bummer. But still, I thought people only walked up and asked to be baptized in Latin America....I guess the Lord is just teasing me before I get to go to Mexico. It was such a miracle and we should have her baptism this Sunday! Her name is Alicia.

After we actually began our fast we saw more miracles. We were fasting Sunday morning for our investigators and to reach our goal. Sacrament was starting and still no investigators.....such a let down. I was expecting them all to show but as we sang the opening hymn no one was there. I was passing out programs at the door when I saw across the chapel Elder Aragon walking in....followed by Adrian!!!! He had to leave work for an hour to be able to come and left for work right after sacrament, but it was soooo cool that he came!! He really enjoyed it and I intorduced him to our bishop and we were able to talk a bit about it. Since he came he can still get baptized this month on the 29th!!! HE just has to come the next 2 Sundays and all is well. It is honestly so exciting to see people keep commitments, especially when in answer to prayers. 

I used to think missionaries only got pumped for baptisms because it was a number, but its not even that at all. We only set goals to motivate ourselves to work hard, but they really are people that need our help and I could care less about numbers. I love being a missionary and with more obedience we have been seeing His hand more and more every day. 

I could go on forever with stories, but I guess I should save some of those to share in 2 years haha. This week has been kinda stormy and we actually lost power on night as Elder Rupp was packing all of his stuff haha. I've been eating crazy good and nothing too crazy until last night. I was eating this tasty soup and all of a sudden I saw something a bit weird.....a chicken foot!!!! it was sooo weird and I got a little weirded out after that haha. We eat mainly Mexican food with the occasional pizza when people forget that they signed up to feed us ahha. It always reminds me of when the missionaries would stop by for dinner and we totally spaced! Like that one time that I took them to Carmens for dinner haha. Just 1 more P-day here in Ogden and then it's off to Mexico. It's definitely been a fun time here in Utah and I look forward to enjoying the next 12 days or so :)

Hope all is well back home and school is going well for everyone. So sick that Elder Cullum heads out soon! He'll beat me to Mexico by a few days!!! 

Mucho amor a todos,

Elder Connell  

Chicken foot noodle soup....yum!!!!!!

Friday, September 13, 2013

The visa is here! I will be heading to Monterrey Mexico on September 30th at 8:40 in the morning. I have a 1 hour layover in Dallas Texas and then I arrive in Monterrey about 3 pm.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

September 10th 2013


Well, I went to the consulate yesterday and all is well with my visa. They should be receiving it later this week, and I will most likely leave at the end of the transfer which is the end of this month! Viva Mexico! 

This week my companions and I definitely learned a lot. We've been having some problems getting along and being united. It's kind of difficult to have 3 teenage guys all agree on every decision made, but we have really been working on obedience and unity! I really feel like these next 2 years will be a period of growth, and not just in my growing belly haha. Disunity makes it impossible to teach with the power of the spirit. We have been working on it a lot and actually fasted on Sunday for unity and to be able to find someone new to teach. As SOON as we broke our fast we began to see miracles. Right after dinner we pulled over to figure out where we should go. Right after we prayed we saw a guy outside playing with his kids and me and Aragon both said at the same time that we should go talk to him. He has met with the missionaries before a couple brief times but he was curious why they stopped coming. We set up a return appointment and it just felt like that was who we needed to talk to. We went to check in on Rosario, but he wasn't there. So we went to go check on Saul (another investigator)  because we only had about 30 minutes left in the day. We knocked on his door and he wasn't there! We were so bummed! BUT a man named Adrian came to the door and talked to us for a bit and invited us in. He's a Catholic but doesnt really go to church often and is mainly Catholic because his family is. We had SUCH a powerful lesson about the restoration. We taught SO unified and the spirit was so strong! At the end we invited him to be baptized in 3 weeks and he accepted! and we set up a return appointment for tomorrow. I know we were led there because of our fasting and prayers and we definitely got an answer. It was so humbling to see the hand of God in His own work. 

On Saturday we had a meeting about how we can help our investigators understand the significance of the atonement and baptism. I realized that I quite often take my baptism for granted, because I don't really remember that much about it, I just knew it was what I was supposed to do. I DO however, recognize the power of the atonement so powerfully in my life. It's possible that I could have stopped smoking and all that stuff without the atonement. I could pass a drug test without the atonement. But, I reflected back upon the day I went and talked to Bishop Orton to access the power of the atonement more fully through his priesthood keys. After talking to him I remember such a great burden lifted off my shoulders that I didn't even realize it was there. I thought I was happy before then, but once I felt the true power of the atonement through many nights of praying for forgiveness and finally talking to the bishop, I KNEW that Christ lives and truly paid for our sins. Our leaders invited us to think of what the world would be like, or what our lives would be like without Christ. I know that if you all think of what your life would be without Christ, or maybe what your life COULD be like if you included Christ more, that you will come to know and realize that he lives and loves us! 

I have already grown so much and can't wait to see what path the Lord has laid out for me. He's taken me on a pretty interesting one already so I'm excited to see where it could go next! :) I love you all and want you ALL to know that I know I am exactly where I need to be right now. I know we all have people placed in our path for a reason, not just missionaries, so look for them!

Before I left I promised Thad Jesperson that I would be 100% obedient, and honestly that hasn't been the case so far. Nothing big, but just a few small rules like getting to bed and waking up on time, and other little things I need to work on. Our companionship has the goal to pay attention to the little rules and try to see miracles through our obedience. 

I love you tons and hope all is well!!! 

Mucho amor,

Elder Connell

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

September 3rd 2013

Missions are so rad! We had 1 investigator come to church on Sunday named Alberto, and we want to try and help him be prepared for baptism either this Sunday or the next one! The spirit felt watching Alberto sit and ponder in Sacrament meeting, especially during the sacrament was so powerful. I know that he is ready and just needs to take some steps to get to baptism. Rosario didn't show up to church which was a super bummer, and then when we went to visit him that night he was drunk! Ahh some people just don't get it! haha but patience is a really big part of missionary work. My companions and I are definitely getting along a lot better and really coming to enjoy each other's company. There is just something special about each of them and I know I am with them through revelation by the mission pres. If you guys ever have any questions you can totally write me an email or letter and I can try to answer any questions you have! 

Each and every day I realize a little bit more why I was reassigned here to Ogden. Just small conversations we have with people and things I am able to share. There was one or 2 that really stood out to me that I would like to share. We went a knocked some random apartments and this girl named Devin answered the door. We talked to her for a bit (in english) and answered some questions she had about horns on our head and tons of other weird rumors. We then met her boyfriend Corey who lives with her, and he is actually a Less-Active member of the church. Devin has been baptized in 3 different churches in the past year so she's not very into having official lessons, but she loved talking to us so they invited us in. 

We got to talking about church and just getting to know them. Corey said that he went less active because of some dumb choices and has just been too scared to go back. He feels like he is going to be judged and then never want to come back. I shared some stuff about when I started going back to church and me and Corey just immediately got along so well. While he was talking he just randomly stopped and looked at me and said, "I feel like you actually understand me because you've been in my shoes before." Yeah! I then felt like a should share my story and it just came out so smoothly and I could see the Spirit working on him. It was so comfortable to share a story that I normally wouldn't share with someone I JUST met, but I knew I was supposed to. 

Later as we were talking with Devin some more, she was asking me some questions about RCA and stuff and then came probably one of the coolest parts of the night. She said yeah thanks for sharing that, Corey actually went to one of those places when he was a teenager....I just knew without a doubt that THAT was exactly why I was prompted to share my story. I know that there are people here prepared for me and I need to work really hard to find them before I have to leave for Mexico. I actually think i'll be super bummed when I leave because I've already had so many great experiences here. It really doesn't matter where you serve, the joy of helping others and doing as Christ would do is the whole point of a mission. I am becoming so much more converted to missionary work and it's leading to growth in myself and obedience as a companionship. It doesn't matter how tired I am or how far we have had to walk, NOTHING I will do in the next 2 years will even come close to the walk Christ took to Calvary to be crucified for us. I am so grateful for the opportunity I have to bear his name on my chest for the next 2 years and act in his place.  

Keep an eye out for people you know who are ready for the gospel. Just because you don't have a name tag on your chest doesn't mean you can't start up a conversation and tie it in to the gospel. Much love to all of you and definitely keep writing me and keeping me up to date!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Connell

We are commanded to teach the gospel to every creature....gotta be obedient!!!!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27th 2013

Well, we had an exhilarating train ride last Tuesday! Just kidding it was like 2 hours long and nothing special haha. Ogden is seriously so rad so far. The president and his wife are so cool and there's tons of rad Elders here. 2 kids from San Diego came here the same day as me and I actually worked in the temple with one of them! Maybe I shouldn't have given him a hard time for serving in Ogden...Karma! 

After we had been at the mission office for only about 2 hours we went out tracting! We went to some super ghetto apartments and got to meet some interesting people. This guy came to the door in his underwear because he thought the knock on the door was his girlfriend....awkward. But we still managed to place a LdM and set up a return appointment for the missionaries in that area. 

The next day we got assigned out trainers and new areas. All the trainers and new missionaries gathered in the gym and it felt like something out of gladiator or something. When all of us greenies walked in they were all yelling and cheering and it was so fun. It was pretty much a huge party and everyone would yell and chant and make noise as the trainers were one by one called off. My trainer is Elder Aragon from Tijuana! He's learning english so it's funny to try and teach him. I also realize how funny it must be when i try to speak Spanish to him. My other companion is Elder Rupp, who is actually a visa waiter for monterrey east as well! He's been out for 1 transfer so far. We definitely have a fun time together. We have a car but are only allotted 900 miles a month, and we have 10 more for the next week so we have been walking everywhere. Luckily there's a solid amount of members here so we often get rides which are seriously the best. If you ever see missionaries walking, offer them a ride! They will be eternally grateful! 

Well I am serving in the Jefferson 2nd Spanish ward, and there are actually 7 missionaries serving in this ward because we have such big ward boundaries. It's pretty run down but it's not super ghetto. We've only walked past 1 knife fight so far but that's just a small detail. hahaha. We do tracting whenever we don't have scheduled lessons and we definitely have knocked on some interesting doors. We normally tract about an hour or 2 per day. We have a few investigators right now and they are all awesome. I can say what I want in lessons, but trying to understand them is the hard part. It's getting better though! 

I want to introduce you all to Rosario real quick. He's about 40 years old and we've met with him once so far. We taught him about the restoration out on his front porch in the pouring rain. Although it was hard to understand and hear him, the spirit was so strong so i knew we were doing something right. All of a sudden he just broke into tears and I felt bad because I couldnt understand what he was saying. Turns out his daughter is in immigration detention in Spanish Fork and he hasnt heard from her since she was taken in, which was a few weeks ago. We told him how the gospel could help and after the prayer I invited him to be baptized ont he 15th and he said he would! We also invited him to a baptism later that night for other elders in our zone and he said yes! But then he never showed foe the baptism and we havent been able to find him since. I really hope he shows back up! 

Our zone theme for this transfer is Stay Posi(tive). I know it's something we can all work on and improve. Every morning I study Preach my Gospel in the Christlike Attributes chapter. I just pick 1 attribute and dive into what it is and how I can develop it more. I know that as I strive to become more like Christ and understand him more, I will better be able to represent him as a missionary.

Still no word on my visa, so I just have to wait and see. Im just serving as if this is my final destination and trusting that everything will work out how He wants. I just have to be patient. I love you all and hope that the end of summer isnt too crazy! There's no such thing here as weekends or summer vacations so it doesn't change much for me! haha

Con mucho amor,

Elder Connell

Where I will be serving until I receive my visa for Mexico

Me and Elder Nick Gruen who is also from SD and actually knows TJ Pugmire. Small world!

Me and my companion Elder Aragon! In a XXL Tall winter coat we found

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15th 2013

Hola Familia!
This is the last time I will be sending email from the crazy is that! I'm not sure where my next email will be coming from because I did not receive my visa. I will most likely be reassigned to a state-side mission for 6 weeks, but who knows. I will find out either later today or tomorrow. Either way, I know I will be exactly where the Lord needs me and I guess he just needed me to take a pit-stop somewhere for him.
Because Elder VonStrahl went home I am now companions with Elder Sawyer. He's super funny and a total stud to work with. His Spanish needs work but I have been able to help him a lot with that and I know he's improved so much. We have taught a couple of lessons together and they have all gone really well. We just naturally are able to work together. One thing I learned about missionary work this week is the power of testimony. Our teacher said that is one thing that we lack as a distrci in our lessons, is bearing personal testimony. I tried to focus on that in our lesson yesterday and it was so powerful and awesome! On Sunday the CCM Exec Director spoke to us. I just want to share one quick quote from it. "If we labor with remission of sins as or goal, we are promised the blessing of missionary work. The blessing of missionary wok is JOY." I just thought that was so cool that it is not our job to get baptisms, but to bing people unto Christ through a remission of sins.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I'm not even living on the main CCM campus anymore! We are over on west campus so we live in the Wyview apartments! It's so much nicer than the dorms. I'm pretty sure it's actually where Tom naylor lived last year, or at least it has the same layout. We have a fridge, couches, 2 seperate bedrooms (1 for each companionship, so 4 in an aprtment.) and it's just a lot nicer and more open. It's been fun to move over here and we are outside walking a lot more because everything is more spread out.
THE coolest part of the week though was foreshadowed in the Subject of this email. For our Tuesday night devotional we had a special visitor. Richard G Scott came and spoke to us! AND it was broadcast to all the MTCs worldwide :) I sat next to Elder Purcell in the choir for the devotional and that was also really cool. Elder Scott's talk was all about prayer and it was seriously so cool! Prayer is such a sacred opportunity we have to speak to our Father, so we need to take time and not rush it. Spend time thanking Him and just speaking with Him about how you're doing and what you think you need. One of my favorite things he hit on was 3 ways to receive answers. 1) We receive peace and a confirmation that our choice is correct. 2) We get a stupor of thought and obviously we need to rethink our plan. 3) We don't receive a definite answer. This is not him ignoring us. This is him either testing our faith, or He just trusts us. He trusts us to use our agency and do what we already know to be right, He's taking our spiritual training wheels off in order to help us grow. We have to act in faith if we act before receiving an answer. He sees the end from the begininng and He knows what our potential is. We can increase in happiness when we realize that everything is for our ETERNAL good.  "pray even when you have no desire to pray. That is probably the time you are in the greatest need of prayer". I know there are some nights where I just want to crawl in bed and sleep, but I have learned the importance of just offering a simple prayer every night and every morning and really dedicating my life to the Lord. He also gave all of us a blessing with his authority that we will receive the gift of tongues with faith and the language will not be a barrier. He repeated the blessing 2 times in his talk, so I know it was important to him. It was really cool because he made sure to emphasize that every time the 12 and first presidency meet, they pray for US! How cool is that. The 15 people on the top of God's good list pray for us as missionaries. That's so humbling. One of the most powerful parts came near the end of his talk. He said that this talk was difficult because he was emotionally weak and sensitive during it. he gave us an explanation why. His wife died in the 1990's but he said that he could feel so strongly her presence there and he was so grateful that she was allowed to be here. Once he said that I felt the Spirit testify so strongly that she was there and I could just imagine her sitting in his chair as he spoke. As he was leaving the gym, he turned and shouted, "Be good!" then he turned again and said "much love coming your way" It was just so spiritually powerful and I could tell that he is definitely an apostle of Jesus Christ.
I've learned so much here in the CCM and I'm soexcited to get out into the field, no matter where it is for a while. I love you all so much and hope all is well. I will keep you updated on where I'm headed and all that good stuff. Hasta Luego,
Con amor,
Elder Connell
Elder Blume, Me, Elder Purcell

Well hello Elder Scott.....sitting next to MTC President Nally

Ya Boy

Elder Childs before he heads off to Kobe Japan!

Our District with one of our teachers, Hermano McPherson, on one of our last days at the CCM. Taken at West Campus