Week 71 – Thee Elder Clayton

What’s up everyone?! This week was a fantastic week here in Riverbank!

This last Saturday and Sunday we had our Stake Conference! It was amazing. We had a Seventy come too! It was Elder Weatherford T. Clayton. He gave a great talk on the Plan of Salvation this last General Conference. It was so awesome to be able to hear from him and from our wonderful Stake President! It was also super awesome to see a whole bunch of members from the Oakdale Ward that I haven’t seen in awhile. We had the opportunity to get up and sing during the Saturday night session.

This morning we had a Zone Conference. Guess who was there? Elder Clayton and his wife! It was super amazing! And, guess what is even cooler then that? We get to have another Leadership Meeting with him tomorrow morning! It will be the Zone Leaders, the Sister Training Leaders, and the Assistants. It is going to be super intense tomorrow but I am super excited! During the entire meeting today we talked about the Book of Mormon and how wonderful it is. Elder Clayton called four missionaries out of the audience to bare their testimonies and I was one of them. Talk about intimidating. Half of the mission was there, plus President and Sister Palmer and Elder and Sister Clayton. It was so amazing to bare my testimony even though I was super scared out of my mind! I love the Book of Mormon and all of the wonderful things that are taught in it.

We have been teaching a few of our investigators. Last night we had a great lesson with a part member family, the Baileys. They are a super awesome family! The mom is the only member and they have three kids who are twelve, eight, and one. The eight year old wants to be baptized and the twelve year old is praying to find out if she wants to be baptized. We are hoping that if they commit to be baptized that the dad will want to be baptized too! It would be an amazing thing to see the whole family joined together in the gospel. We have also been teaching an 18 year old who we found two weeks ago. I think I talked about him last week. We committed him to be baptized on June 10th so that is super awesome. We are going to give him to the YSA Ward missionaries now that he is YSA age but it was awesome teaching him! There are a bunch of part member families in our ward that we are trying to teach! After we spend some time
working with them we will find more families and people to teach.

We had the opportunity to go on exchanges with the Assistants this week! It was lots of fun going on exchanges with them. They are great Elders! I went with Elder Booth and it was awesome! We visited a recent convert and we taught about the Melchizedek Priesthood. It was so awesome because right after Stake Conference yesterday he was able to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood. He invited me to stand in the circle. It was so awesome to see someone receive the Melchizedek Priesthood.

The scripture for this week is Mosiah 2:17. I love this scripture. We have been using it a lot in our teaching and for our dinner messages. It is so important that we serve all of the people that are around us! There is such an amazing Mormon Message called “Lift.” It is so touching. Every time I see this video it really touches my heart. I challenge each of you to watch it and look for opportunities to serve all around the community. If we will pray for opportunities to serve they will arise! I love you all so much and hope you have a fantastic week!

Elder Pope

We are the dynamic duo when it comes to ballin’. We will play anyone two-on-two. Give us a call and we will make it happen!
The squad on exchanges. The Assistants and us ballin’ outside their house!
Elder Wray and I chillin’ out!

Week 70 – Happy Mother’s Day!

Dear Family and Friends,

Happy Mother’s Day! I am so grateful for all of the wonderful mothers and women that are in the world right now. I am so blessed to have such a wonderful Mother, who I love so much! She is such an amazing example to me and to all the people around her. I am so blessed to have her in my life. I love my Mrs. Pope, as everyone knows her! One of my favorite hymns to listen to is Hymn #309 (notice how I said listen to it and not sing it…haha!):

1. As sisters in Zion, we’ll all work together;
The blessings of God on our labors we’ll seek.
We’ll build up his kingdom with earnest endeavor;
We’ll comfort the weary and strengthen the weak.

2. The errand of angels is given to women;
And this is a gift that, as sisters, we claim:
To do whatsoever is gentle and human,
To cheer and to bless in humanity’s name.

3. How vast is our purpose, how broad is our mission,
If we but fulfill it in spirit and deed.
Oh, naught but the Spirit’s divinest tuition
Can give us the wisdom to truly succeed.

My mom is the definition of this song. Every time I think of it I think of her and all of the amazing things that she has done.

My new companion’s name is Elder Wray. He is super awesome and the Riverbank Ward is super awesome! The members here are great and we have a bunch of investigators. We had four investigators at church yesterday.

One thing that I have really loved and learned while I have been on my mission is that the Lord places people in your path. We were biking around visiting people on my second day in the area. There was a kid out standing by a canal. We stopped and talked with him about the church. He said he was out doing a senior project and wanted us to be a part of it. We got to take the survey he had and it was amazing. He really loved the message that we shared and invited us back. We talked with him about the Book of Mormon and how it is the most important book in the world. He loves it. His name is Jordi. He came to church with us yesterday and he told us he knows the Book of Mormon is true! It is amazing what that book can do. He hasn’t read a whole lot of it yet but he just knows it is true. I love the Book of Mormon and I know without a doubt that it is true!

Sorry but there isn’t going to be a scripture of the week this week. We have to go and help the missionaries in Oakdale move out of their apartment. Have a great week! I love you all so much and am thankful for all that you do!

Elder Pope

This is our new district! Everyone is tons of fun and I am excited to be here!
A lane in Modesto that we found. Good old Elder Lane!
This is my companion, Elder Wray. He is super awesome!

Week 69 – Golfing is Great!

Well, we got our transfer calls last night and I am being transferred…I am going to the Riverbank Ward and am a Zone Leader in the Modesto North Zone! My new companion’s name is Elder Wray and I am super excited! It will be a change but I have been here in Manteca for 6 months now. It is bitter sweet. I will definitely miss my companion Elder Silva but this is what the Lord wants.

So, it has been super hot this past week. One day it got up to 101 degrees here! Let’s just say that I am not ready for summer. It is still supposed to be spring. On the bright side, I will now have a car. This is the first time on my mission that I have had a car, so that is pretty exciting! We had to deliver some papers to the Ripon Sisters (a good five miles away) and decided to bike there since we couldn’t find anyone to give us a ride. Needless to say, it was 96 degrees outside when we biked there and then turned around and biked back. We said we probably won’t be doing that again. Haha!

This week I had the opportunity to go on exchanges with one of the zone leaders. I went with Elder Chambers in the Lathrop Ward. It was so awesome and I was able to learn so much from it! I love exchanges with other missionaries and seeing the different ways that they do things. It is so awesome to see such a variety and to see what works the best and what doesn’t work so well. Missionary work is not easy. When I first came out on my mission it was so easy to prepare people for baptism, but as time goes on it just seems to be getting harder and harder. I know that we can all do hard things if we will rely on the Lord and seek out His guidance.

Sorry for the short letter. I am all out of time. Didn’t have a whole lot of time to email today. We just got done golfing with a less active member and have dinner soon. The scripture for this week is Alma 32. I really love this whole chapter, mainly because it talks about faith. We need faith in all that we do. We all have that seed of faith in us; it just depends on how much we nourish it and help it grow to be big and strong. Or, we can just not nourish it and do things that we are not supposed to do and it will incinerate. I promise that if you will continue to be diligent in reading your scriptures, praying, and going to church then your faith will grow immensely and you will be blessed because of it! I also want to talk about a wonderful and powerful video that we found this week. It is called “The Infinite Power of Hope” by Elder Uchtdorf. It is a short Mormon Message that teaches us so much about hope. In some ways I like to compare hope and faith. They are both super awesome and we need to have both of them! I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Pope

Elder Silva and I enjoying this beautiful weather by going golfing today. It was super funny wearing my Durant jersey on the course. Everyone kept yelling, “I love your jersey, man! They are totally going to win tonight!” It was super funny!
This is Brother Cortez’s granddaughter, Abby. We have the same birthday so she really likes me. It is pretty great!

Week 68 – Caswell State Park

This week was a great week! Have a great week everyone!

Last Monday we had the opportunity to go to Caswell State Park in the town right below Manteca. It is one of the smallest state parks I have ever been to, but it was an absolute blast! We went on a little hike with the Sisters and just had lots of fun! Down below there are some pictures of the wonderful fun we were able to have. It reminded me so much of home (except that home is in the mountains). Being outdoors is so fun! I have loved the outdoors ever since I was a little boy and I am loving them even more each time I get to go do something in the outdoors!

We had the wonderful opportunity to help a family move. It was super fun! They lived with Brother Cortez (the guy who is in a lot of my pictures) but moved about two blocks away. They are still in our area but we have to get a male over the age of 18 if we want to go and visit them. Her name is Sylvia and she has two daughters. They are a super awesome family! I love meeting so many wonderful people here and developing a  friendship with them! I love doing service projects for people!

We have been working a lot with our less active members in the ward. We just found out that there are over 500 members in our ward boundaries and only about 150 of them are active. We have been making it a big push to visit everyone on our ward list who we don’t know and bring them back to church. Attending church is such a wonderful thing! Each week we are able to partake of the sacrament and take upon ourselves the name of the Savior. The sacrament is such a wonderful and peaceful thing in our lives.

Yesterday we had a special fifth Sunday meeting with all of the brethren here. We talked about prospective elders and less actives. We talked about the importance of home teaching each and every month. It is so amazing when we visit a family on the ward list who we are not familiar with. When they open the door they see it is the missionaries and get super excited. Oftentimes they have been praying for someone to stop by or talk about the church. There are so many families here and all around that are ready to come back to the fold, but “they know not where to find it” (D&C 123:12). I think that it could also mean that they don’t have a friend or that they don’t know that someone cares about them. Home and visiting teaching is so important. We just need to let people know that we love them and that we are always here for them. Just being a friend to someone may be what could bring them back to church so they can receive the wonderful blessings. I am so grateful for my dad and the wonderful example he set by home teaching his assigned families every month! I want each one of you to reach out to someone in need. Pray about it and reach out to them. Help them feel loved!

We had the opportunity to do our usual service this week at Second Harvest and then at the Methodist Church Food Bank. We always have so much fun serving at these places and meeting the people who come through. Below is a picture of us at the Methodist Church Food Bank. They didn’t believe that we could stack the baby food but they were wrong! We got it!

For our dinner message we have been sharing the Ask of God video. I really enjoy the youth video. I love the questions that the kids ask. A bunch of them ask questions that we will all ask at some point in our lives. I know that our Father in Heaven loves us and will answer any question that we have. Prayer is so important. He wants to hear from us each and every day. I love that I can turn to Him any day and at any time. He is listening. Sometimes we get frustrated that He doesn’t answer our prayers when we want Him to, but in His time He will answer them! Sometimes our prayers take a while to get answered and sometimes they get answered right away! I love my Father and knows that he answers our prayers!

The scripture for this week is 2 Nephi 9:5-10. I love my Savior so much. I know that nothing would be possible without Him. If it weren’t for the infinite atonement, that He completed for each and every one of us, there would be no purpose here on earth! It is only by the Atonement of Jesus Christ that we can be saved. It is the grace of God that we are saved after all that we can do! I love you all so much and hope you have a wonderful week! Family, I will see you in two weeks on Skype!

Elder Pope

This is Caswell State Park. Let’s just say we had a lot of fun doing whatever we were doing!
​​Here is the district!

Week 67 – Eternal Life is Key

Hey! This week was a pretty good week! I hope you all had a wonderful week! It was pretty warm and cold at night.

It is super crazy because we have been working with lots of less active members recently. We have been struggling finding investigators but working with less actives is going really well. It really seems like the hardest thing is finding people to teach here in California. There are so many people but none of them are willing to listen to our message. One thing that I have really learned about on my mission so far is PRIDE. It is the root of all evil. It seems like people are too prideful here in California to listen to our message. They all think that they are good but really they are not. I love the people here and know what is on the line for them. Eternal life is what we are striving for!

We played frisbee golf and then a card game called “Save your A$$ets” with some of our less actives this last week. It was a ton of fun! They really enjoy us coming over and sharing a message. They committed to come to church yesterday but didn’t show up, so we were pretty sad about that! We just picked up a new part member family! We were able to share a message with the family. Two of the kids are active and come with their grandparents to church but the mom and a few of the other kids are less active. The dad isn’t a member YET! We have another time to meet with them this next week and are super excited about it. They are a Polynesian family, the Sovatabuas, and want to have us over for dinner sometime too, which is super awesome. I don’t know what it is but we are good at finding Polynesian families to teach but no one else. And, I am sure a lot of you have seen the pictures from the Robbins’ house with the lizard on my shoulder. The Robbins’ are a super awesome family in our ward! We love going over to their house and having dinner with them. There is never a dull moment.

So we have been trying to teach our investigator, James, lately but haven’t been able to meet with them. We just found out that his wife is pregnant so that is super exciting! It is going to be so awesome for them! They are so awesome. Also, our investigator, Marianne, is in the hospital right now. She has some crazy disease that if she had not gone in when she did she would have died. Please keep her in your prayers!

It is super crazy because when I left on my mission I didn’t have allergies. Well, now that I am in the central valley I have allergies. I now know what all of you were going through. Having allergies is the worst! They said it is worse this year than it has ever been. For all of you who don’t know, the central valley is where they grow tons of stuff. They say that if you don’t have allergies and you come to the central valley that you will get them. Well, lucky me, I got them!

The scripture for this week is Moses 1:39. I love this scripture so much! It is a constant reminder that our Heavenly Father wants the best for us! He knows our potential and all the wonderful things that we can do on the earth. Everyone here will receive immortality but not everyone will receive eternal life. We need to be doing the best that we can in everything we do to strive to attain eternal life. Jesus Christ made it possible for that to happen!

Elder Pope

We went to IHOP with all of the other missionaries for dinner this week. It was pretty fun! The redhead is Elder Whitlock and his companion, Elder Hayden, is sitting next to him.
Our new duck friend!

Week 66 – Happy Easter & Jesus Loves You!

Happy late Easter everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful Easter full of love! I think that one of the main concepts of Easter is love. It is the love that the Savior has for each and every one of us that led Him to do the things that He did. He didn’t have to do any of it, but He did it out of love. Always remember that!

We met with one of our investigators this week and it went really well. We showed her the #PRINCEofPEACE video and it went really well. She was in tears at the end of it. We talked about things that we can do to help strengthen our relationship with Him. We talked to her about getting baptized and she is nervous that if she were to join our church that Jesus would be mad at her. We told her if she does what is right then he won’t be mad at her. She is still praying and trying to figure out if it is true or not, so this week we will see what she says. We also have been visiting a lot of less active members here. It is nothing like in Utah. Two-thirds of the members in our ward are less active. It is super sad. They don’t realize how important attending church really is. Partaking of the sacrament is so important. Yeah there are weeks that we can’t partake of the sacrament because we are out of town but every chance we get to take it each Sunday we need to take it!

This week we had a pretty cool experience. While we were biking to district meeting a lady honked at us. We waived and kept biking. She honked again so we looked closer and she was waving us to come over. We slowed down and pulled over to her car. She started talking to us and really expressed her feelings. Her husband died a few years ago and her son is in the mental institution in Stockton because he has been doing a lot of drugs. She said she is in a really depressing stage of her life right now. She goes to a church in Oakdale but is looking for a change. It was super awesome because we were able to testify of the peace that our message can bring and the joy it brings to others. She gave us her information and unfortunately it is outside of our area but that is okay! We sent the referral to the other missionaries in Oakdale. We are not sure what will come of it but she was such an awesome lady and it was an amazing experience. It isn’t the first time that someone has pulled us over in their car. It is just such an awesome feeling. I now know why President Palmer wants us to ride our bikes as much as possible.

I had the opportunity to go on exchanges this week with an elder in my district. His name is Elder Whitlock and it was a super awesome exchange. He is a really awesome missionary and knows so much. I was able to learn so much from him. He has been on his mission for 19 months now. He is from a small town in Wyoming called Ten Sleep. I love going on exchanges and getting to know new missionaries. That is one thing that I have really loved about my mission. I love teaching the gospel to people but I really love meeting new people. I have met so many awesome people out here!

Church was amazing yesterday! I always love Easter Sunday! I loved listening to the children sing. It was so awesome. Primary programs are just the best. I don’t know what it is but music just gets to me. I love music so much. I never realized how much I really love music until I came on my mission. After church we went over to Brother Cortez’s house and his whole extended family was over. It was a fiesta kinda thing. I think that’s what they call it. The kids had an Easter egg hunt and we had lots of candy and had some fun! We then went over to a different family’s house and had dinner. It was a super fun day!

The scripture for this week is Alma 7:11-13. This is one of my all time favorite scriptures about the Savior. I feel like it is appropriate for this time of the year. The past few weeks I have been reading Jesus the Christ and let me tell you – I absolutely love that book! It was super awesome because at the beginning of the week I was reading about Jesus Christ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and yesterday I finished reading about His resurrection, the main few parts of the Atonement. Something that really stood out to me, that doesn’t get covered a lot, is the scourging. For some reason that just stood out to me as I was reading about it in Jesus the Christ. I know that He felt every single persons pains and afflictions in the Garden but I don’t think we will ever know everything He went through. I just think of the whip/cat-o-nine tails that they whipped Him with. I can imagine what that felt like and then getting the crown of thorns placed on His head. I can put my mind around those and no thank you. He is the King of all Kings and the Lord of all Lords. He was sent here to do something and because He knew it was the Father’s will, He did it. I know that if we will align our will with God’s will then we will be happier and live happier lives. I have become so much happier as I have aligned my will with His! I love you all so much and hope you have a wonderful week this week!

Elder Pope

My Lone Peak boiis!
We did service for an investigator of the other missionaries. It was pretty awesome!
These are things that go on here in California. We see this guy all the time! He is super funny when we stop and talk to him!
Brother Cortez took us on a team up and then he hooked us up with some fresh fruit cups. The fruit was super interesting and had a bunch of spices on it. It was the spiciest fruit I have ever had.
This was dinner last night. Let’s just say it got pretty intense!
We found the Manteca Mansion. This is the biggest house in the central valley. It is pretty cool!
We also found this super cool park last night. We had to test it out before we went home for the night. It was pretty awesome!

Week 65 – Love Lard

This week was a pretty fun week! We got a few nice rain showers this week that got us super soaked, but it is supposed to be good weather this next week – we hope! I heard Utah got some snow! Not sure if that is a good thing or not but I miss the snow.

So this week we were visiting one of our investigators and, after visiting with them at the door step, these three guys called us over. They didn’t look too intimidating so we walked over and they asked us if we believe in space. We said, “yes” and it led into this wonderful conversation. We started talking and testifying of God and Jesus Christ. It just goes to show that anything can relate to the gospel. We have an appointment with one of the guys this week and are super excited to see him! Oh, I forgot to mention that they were all super high and super drunk so it was pretty funny. Hopefully they remember our appointment!

We did the service project Love Manteca this week. It was super awesome and super wet! The weather here in Manteca is super bipolar. We had the opportunity to spread mulch all around a park with a bunch of other people. When we started it was super sunny outside and the next thing you know it was pouring outside. It was lots of fun, but a bunch of people decided to leave because they were getting too wet. We pushed through it though and finished. It is so awesome to finish things! If you start something it is always such a wonderful feeling when you finish. We got back to our apartment and saw a moving truck outside so we helped the people move in. They are now interested in having us come over and share what we believe, which is awesome!

We met with a few of our investigators this week. We met with Marianne twice and it went really well! She was supposed to come to church on Sunday but wasn’t able to make it. I guess it is hard for people to come to church at nine when they are used to going to mass at like four in the afternoon. So that was kind of a bummer but we have another meeting with her this week! We also picked up a new investigator this week. He was a referral from the YSA sisters and he is super awesome. He is a single man who loves to talk about Jesus and we have an appointment with him tomorrow morning! This week we are pretty busy with appointments and meetings, so it should be fun like usual!

Yesterday we had the opportunity to teach the young women. It was kind of weird when we got a call Saturday night to teach the young women. It was super fun though. We shared the #PRINCEofPEACE video with them and talked about it! The young women in our ward are super awesome. It was the first time I have ever taught the young women and I don’t think it was as weird as we were anticipating it would be.

We have been watching the #PRINCEofPEACE video every day, multiple times a day. It really makes me think of the peace that He truly brings into my life. I cannot imagine myself and where I would be right now if it weren’t for Jesus Christ in my life! I know I talked about it a little bit in my email last week but this video is just so amazing. One thing that I really love is the music in the video. It just really gets me excited. Excited to share the message with all those people that are around who haven’t experienced peace in their life because they don’t have Jesus in their life. I love just going over the words that are in the video. Here are the words so you can look over them and reflect on a few of the many things that the Savior has done!

He was the world’s greatest conqueror, yet He ruled no nations, led no armies, never raised a sword, took no spoils.
His only crown was made of thorns.
He won victories no one else could.
He defeated death, He conquered sin and offers peace to all who follow Him.
He can calm troubled seas and troubled souls.
He can heal broken lives and broken bonds.
He can turn water into wine and heartache into hope.
He lived, died, and lived again so we will all live again.
His resurrection brings us peace now and forever.
He is Jesus Christ, King of Kings, Lord of Lords.

The scripture for today is D&C 46. I love this section talking about our spiritual gifts. We need to always be thinking, “What have I done to develop my spiritual gifts today?” I know that we are all blessed with different gifts that we need to use and develop. It makes me think of “The Parable of the Pounds” in Luke 19:11-27. Don’t just bury your spiritual gifts. Use them to the best of your ability. The more we use our gifts the more gifts we will be blessed with. I love this gospel and I love the Savior. He loves us and wants the best for us, and he will help us if we will truly turn to him!

Elder Pope

So the Spanish Elders somehow got a key to our apartment and put our beds in the bathrooms. It was super funny to walk in because we were not expecting that!
Here are a few pictures from Love Manteca. It is always a fun time with these two Elders. It was super funny too because we met at a big church by our apartment. The church had a Starbucks in it. It was pretty cool to go in and take a tour of this church!