Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Hi everyone!!

So as far as some of your questions, we are still in a 2 man (no roommates) but it is much more common to live with roommates. And I'm missing having other people lots, but like you said we get to see tons of other people. Like for example we drove over to our closest metro stop and we are down at the Capitol Hill apartment for P-Day to hang out with Elder McDonald and his kid! We get together as an entire mission about once a month I would say. Every 6 weeks on transfer and then every 3rd Sunday for the Why I Believe. And then there's always a here and there event that happens and we are with the entire mission. And we are allowed to go to the temple once a transfer usually the week before the transfer cycle. 

So about Brian and Sampson. So since Brian is 8 we are having his baptism with another kid in the ward who just turned 8. So his should be this Saturday the 26th. And yeah Sampson is native from Africa. We have lots of countries represented in our mission and even here in our ward and stake. Example being at stake conference last week we had broadcast rooms where missionaries were acting as translators for the French, ASL and Spanish branches in our stake! 

So about our week here Monday and Tuesday didn't have much to talk about so I'll just jump ahead to Wednesday when I got my baby boy!! So my kid is Elder Schank from Las Vegas! He's 19 and graduated from HS
this past summer like me. He played the oboe at a performing arts high school but luckily he also ran track at a public high school so it's not two 100% music companions I'm a row! He seems like a good kid so far! Though I feel bad he hasn't been able to teach a lesson yet. Then again it took me almost 2-3 weeks to finally teach my first lesson! Only thing is he's kinda struggling with the cold haha. I walked out on Thursday morning and he was staring out the window at the rain. And he's always wearing a jacket and wears sweats in the apartment when
I'm in a tee shirt and basketball shorts. But other than that so far so good haha.

One thing I've noticed lots training is how much I have learned in these short 4 1/2 months! It's been kind of a confidence booster to see all that I have learned in the short time. Whether it be explaining all things mission related I've come to know or just the things like grocery shopping for myself. I took him to the store on Wednesday night so he could get some food and he just wandered the isles like I did my first time and even though I'm trying to improve on my cooking I can see my growth from the first time shopping for myself to now!

Another benefit of training is getting to go to the temple with the new missionaries! It's tradition that all the trainers take the trainees to the temple in the first week (something I didn't get since the temple was closed). But we went on Friday so me, Elder Levi, Elder Jenks and Elder McDonald and our kids went! And yes me and Elder McDonald extend the streak and sat next to each other haha. No joke we are going to try to every time out here. But it really was amazing the be in the temple a week before Christmas. I really felt like it added to the sense of the true meaning of Christmas I have been feeling this month out here on the mission. There is no focus on the hustle and
bustle of the season, just focus on our Savior and the true gift of Christmas.

And I guess that leads into yesterday. So we had the Ward Christmas program during sacrament meeting which was awesome!! We sang almost all the Christmas carols and really was an awesome meeting. Plus I sat between Lucie and Ismael and I was just so excited for him since it was his baptism day! The baptism was after church and it was absolutely amazing! I think the only time I've been happier sitting in all white was at my endowment. But siting there next to Ismael was amazing and getting to take him in for the font was such a great experience. And for him 3rd times the charm haha. He would not keep his feet on the ground. So after 2 time of some feet popping up I finally just stood on his feet and put him under the 3rd time! But he was so happy after it and I'm just so so happy for him!!!

It was a great week! I'm gonna keep it shorter because I'm going to talk to you all Friday!!!! Ah I'm so excited, really I'm excited for Christmas and all the fun stuff we get to do as a mission but I'm really just ready to see all of you! I can't wait! I love you all!!

Merry Christmas and talk to you soon!
  
Love,
Austin

Ismaels Baptism!!




Posterity Pictures
Son, Father, and Grandfather
Elder Schank, me, Elder Coombs



December 14, 2015

Hi everyone!! 

Along with the early Christmas present of Ismaels baptism coming up and all the packages from home this week, I got another Christmas surprise. I'm a father! Yup you read that right.. I was called to train this up coming transfer! Really I don't know how to feel about the whole deal, but I've got pretty use to having something big change every transfer I think I'm getting kind of use to it haha

So Monday night after P-Day we had an exchange with the traveling trainers. It was awesome to be with Elders Parker and Tanner for the night because they are just awesome! Plus we taught an awesome lesson to Jacob! Then after the exchange we came back to the apartment and gave Elder Williams a blessing since we had never gave him one after splitting his chin open at the ice rink since it was just fast paced getting him to the doctors and such. It is always a great opportunity to exercise the priesthood. I'm glad that so far on my mission I have been able to give blessings so I'm getting more comfortable and confident as I give them. 

Tuesday and Wednesday were days filled with lots of tracting and checking on all the Festival of Lights referrals. Which is nice with how many we get, but they almost all are just junk, people writing down their information for the sisters so it's kind of a waste of time in my opinion but hey I'm sure there are some that are successful. Also Tuesday night it became official, Ismael asked me to baptize him this upcoming Sunday!! Quick side note about Sampson and Brian. So Sampson went back to Africa for a few weeks so he's kinda on hold. And as far as we know Brian is set to be baptized next week, since he is 8 he is the wards responsibility, not really ours. But it was in our plans to follow up on that this week to see if it's all going to go through. 

So Wednesday night was where it all went down.. Like I've explained before in our mission it is a process of finding out transfers and such. And Wednesday a week before transfers is when they call the trainers. There has been some predictions that I would train and in all honesty I had kinda had a gut feeling about it, but still only being out 4 months I didn't really feel it was happening. But sure enough that night the phone is ringing and I look down and it is the APs who asked if I had a few minutes to talk to President, that is where he extended the call to me to be a trainer. It was pretty crazy and I think I'm still getting to grips that I'm getting a child (mission slang for my trainee) this upcoming week. I called Coombs that night to let him know he was becoming a Grandfather and he was pretty pumped about that haha

Thursday was a Zone Conference where we had some really great trainings by President Cooke, Sister Cooke, the APs and out Zone Leaders! Plus since my birthday is before the next Zone Conference it was celebrated and as a gift I got a sweet temple recommend holder from the Cookes!

Friday I had to attend a Trainers meeting, so I drove down to my home away from home Suitland to exchange! I seriously miss So Maryland so much! It was tons of fun to see all the missionaries down there I don't get to see as much. So I drove down there because I was meeting up with the other new trainers, which include my main man Elder McDonald and Elder Levi! Elder McDonald and I are both training together on our 4th transfers!! It's pretty crazy but I'm excited, I'm glad we can go through it together and help support each other since I know it's going to be challenging to be training this early on our missions. At the trainers meeting President Cooke just talked about the great responsibility and privilege it is to be a trainer. And told us to always keep in mind that is it a sign of confidence from him but most of all from the Lord. And he said it truly is the Lord who calls us, which was a nice reassurance especially to me and Elder McDonald who are training on our 4th and Elder Jenks is training on his 5th for the second time (he just finished training on his 3rd transfer!!). It's pretty crazy, there is now a few Elders who have become trainers really early. Elder McDonald and I on our 4th this upcoming transfer, Elder Jenks like I just mentioned, and Elder Torgeson (who's quickly becoming another really close mission friend!) who was called to train last transfer on his 4th! Us four are the fastest to train that anyone can remember in the mission..

Saturday and Sunday was Stake Conference here and it was pretty good. Then Saturday nights the Transfer Call Out came. It was pretty certain that I would be staying here to train so I didn't have to white wash train. And sure enough that's what happened, Elder Williams is leaving and I will be training here in Laurel!

It is amazing to me to see how fast paced my mission had been so far. Really I feel like there hasn't been time to really get comfortable yet haha. But I'm thankful for it, the Lord is keeping me on my toes, keeping my humble, and making sure that I relying on him. I have had a lot of things come fast where I haven't thought I could handle it, but every time the Lord makes it possible. I've listened to Pre Eyrings talk from this past General Conference "You are not alone in the work" a lot as a missionary and there is a quote from the end I always find comfort in. He says, 

"Whatever your calling in the priesthood, you may have at times felt Heavenly Father was unaware of you. You can pray to know His will, and with the honest desire to do whatever He asks you to do, you will receive an answer. Heavenly Father will allow you to feel that He knows you, that He appreciates your service, and that you are becoming worthy of the greeting from the Lord you want so much to hear: “Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord....

I am grateful for the examples of faithful priesthood holders everywhere. Heavenly Father and the Savior are grateful that you do your part. They know you, They watch over you, and They love you".

I truly know that as a missionary my Heavenly Father knows me, watches over me, and loves me. And with that I I know I can do all things (Luke 1:37). And of course thanks for all the love, support and prayers from back home!

I love you all! Tune in next week to see what happens with me and my new baby boy!

Love,
Austin

Picture from pday last week when we went ice skating!

December 7, 2015

We are going ice skating today as a zone for our zone activity so I'm getting my emails off early today so you don't have to wait around until later for me to send them!

I'll run down my week! It was another pretty good week here! 

On Tuesday I got to go to lunch at the famous Sister Mayes house. She's this older African American sister in the College Park Ward that LOVES missionaries. Example being her license plate cover which says "I love missionaries" that some Elders got custom made for her haha. Plus she has missionaries over every Tuesday for lunch. She's awesome! The only not awesome thing is your first time at her house you have to eat a scotch bonnet pepper. That pepper is like the second hottest naturally occurring pepper in the world. Yeah.. So this Crazy Jamaican lady makes all the Elders eat one then sit for 5 minutes until we get a huge bowl of ice cream. It was a terrible experience Haha. But at least I got the worst form of mission hazing I've heard of out of the way haha. I'll try and get my hands on the video of me eating it and send it!

Then Wednesday I got to go to the temple. Can I just say how much I love being in a mission with a temple so I can once a transfer! I love the temple so much and it's so nice to go. Plus I get to meet up with all the missionaries I don't get to see as much. So I got to sit next to my boy Elder McDonald for the season. I've sat next to him every time I've been in the temple as a missionary so far, so there fun. Hopefully we can keep the streak going until we come home! I leaned over before our session started and whispered to him, "I hope you realize that today makes it that I've been in the temple with you the same amount of times I have with my own Mom" He about lost it laughing. But it was a funny thing for us to realize together! Then after we got to go to our usually lunch with everyone at a nearby mall food court which is always fun to see everyone try and figure out why there is like 40+ guys in shirts and ties eating together!

A pretty cool experience we had was on Thursday! So remember that lady we kind of Bible bashed with last week? Yeah so she invited us over again. So Elder Williams and I show up and basically come to find out she brought her nephew, Justin, who is an assistant minister for her church to talk (bash) with us. Come to find out he's actually way interested in learning about our church. So he took a BOM and asked us tons of questions! It was honestly one of the best lessons I have had as a missionary! At the end he turned to me and asked for my email so we could keep in contact and talk about things! It was awesome! Then the best part was when Michelle (who was conveniently not able to come all of a sudden) shows up to see us still at her house. She was not happy but acted like she was fine. So we share the new Christmas video which Justin and her daughters loved! They were pumped about coming to the Festival of Lights! So hopefully they come. Plus we got to be apart of another hand holding loud Pentecostal prayer again and those are always fun. 

Then all day Friday I was on exchange with Elder Collins one of our Zone Leaders down in the College Park Ward. Nothing that great happened but I scored going to their wards Christmas party that night so that was pretty sweet. I love getting to be with other missionaries and learning from them. Everyone has their own way of doing things and teaching and it's nice to pick up on things from older missionaries here and there now that I no longer have an experienced comp to learn from. 

Sunday night we went to the visitors center for the First Presidency Christmas Devotional. I thought it was super good! Plus I got to sit next to Coombs. I love that guy so much!! Also just getting to see other missionaries I miss tons. Plus there are other missionaries that look out for me lots, like Elder Coombs and Elder Parker/Tanner will call me some nights just so we can talk. But things are going good! We do get transfer call out this Saturday (I know! Crazy it's already that time again!) so that should be interesting!
I hope you all have great weeks! I love you all tons!

Love, 
Austin

Thought you guys would enjoy seeing Ismael! Plus he asked me if I would baptize him!! So nothing is set in stone but it looks like as of right now I'm going to be the one who gets to baptize him! 


So the story behind this picture. So I was at the College Park Ward Christmas Party and they had this set up for family photos. So of course us as missionaries decided to take one together. And attempted to make it an awkward family photo. 


Me, Elder Collins (ZL), Then 2 French elders, Elder DeMill and Tatuaapua. Elder Tatuaapua is from Tahiti so he pretty much hates life right now in the cold haha  

Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015

Hi all!

Another pretty good week! I feel like I've gotten into the swing of things up here. Plus we had some really good experiences! So just to start out... We are having a baptism!!! Maybe 3! So stay tuned for that!

So I'll answer your questions real quick. So yes we live in an apartment, I only know of 2 areas where they live in members basements. Other then that all apartments in the mission. And most of them have 4 missionaries in them. Our apartment is ok, my last one was probably better and there are some way nicer ones but I can't complain compared to what some of my buds are having to live in around the world haha. The GPS makes things so much nicer! Just plug addresses in and go. We will help out at the visitors center for the holidays here and there but not tons, I'll let you guys know when I find out exactly what we get to do cause I'm not really sure. This area we don't have tons of service and we are somewhat the same teaching load with a little more investigators so we just tract a ton! Last area I feel like I learned to work with less actives and this area is teaching me to tract for hours on end haha So there use to be 4 missionaries in the Laurel Ward so now it is just the two of us that serve in the ward. And overall I can't compare to what it was before but it seems like it's fine having just a companionship run the Ward. We have enough work to keep us busy but not too much we can't cover everything. 

Here's my week..

So Tuesday we had interviews with President and Sister Cooke. President gave me a big smile and handshake as I walked in. He asked about how I was doing and told me that basically he has lost lots of leadership and solid missionaries and he needed some people to step up and I was someone he had step up this past transfer. Then he acknowledged things have been hard, but gave me a huge smile and said "But hey hard things just come to the best". Then got up and gave me a huge hug as I left. So it was super nice to feel Presidents confidence and just how much he loves and looks out for me and all the missionaries. Then I got to sit down with Sister Cooke. After making the mistake of telling her I was sorta sick a few weeks ago (she talked about that for like 10 min). She gave me some awesome advice about Thanksgiving.  She said she knew that it was going to be hard being the first major holiday away from home and that it really is going to be a glass half full/half empty time because there would be things that would be missed but look for the blessings and things that only would happen on a missionary thanksgiving. It was awesome to hear that! First that she was real and acknowledged we would miss home during this time but also just how there are things that only a missionary thanksgiving would include!

So Thanksgiving was pretty good. No decent pumpkin pie or stuffing though so maybe a tear about that haha. But it was a non Proselyting day so Elder Williams and I just hung out until the afternoon where we went over to Lucies apartment to have a little pre thanksgiving lunch. She's from the Ivory Coast and she has been baptized for about a month. Her son Ishmael is 13 and the best kid ever! Ishmael didn't get baptized with his Mom because his Dad said no. But long story short Lucie has full custody and her exhusband is going back to Africa this month. So we get to baptized Ishmael!!!!! He's on date for Dec 20th and I don't know who is more excited, us or him! So just like Sister Cooke said, some things only happen on a missionary thanksgivings, like committing someone to baptism! That evening we had a decent dinner with a husband/wife in our Ward. Super nice of them to have us over. 

Friday we had President on exchange. Our original appointment fell through so we went to see Lucie and Ismael. We are running through all the lessons with Ismael again before he gets baptized so we taught the restoration and went a little more in depth talking about the priesthood and President taught him about the duties of a deacon! It was a great lesson. As President was leaving he was his usual, very complementary of us and let us know how much he loves us! Plus that night a family had us over for 2nd Thanksgiving and they actually had decent pumpkin pie and decent stuffing. Nothing like at home, but decent. 

Then Saturday we had a surprise exchange with the APs! Like out of the blue we are out tracting and they call and ask if we can do a day exchange with them. Super random and I'm kinda worried about it haha. Elder Herring kept telling me it wasn't for any reason and it honestly just happened. Plus he said he had no idea we had been with President the day before. But I'm still skeptical and so help me if I have to train this next transfer or something I'll whoop on Herring for lying to me haha. Well not really since he's like 6'7 haha. But yeah so Elder Herring stayed with me in Laurel and Elder Williams went with Elder Ord to the APs area for the day! It was soo awesome! Holy cow I love Herring! We get along so good and just talked non stop the whole day! Plus I finally had someone to talk football with since Williams is a performing arts guy.

Plus Elder Herring and I had 2 super cool experiences together! So first we were out checking on referrals. So we went to this house that had requested a bible and the ladies daughter who's about 20ish answers the door and she basically says yeah she wants to talk to us and she's talked to missionaries before. Plus she said she's was pretty sure it was me but I've never seen the lady in my life hah. But yeah so we are building that connection and we decide a good lesson to teach is Gospel of Jesus Christ. But we made the mistake of trying to quote a BOM scripture and right as we are explaining the BOM her mom shows up. And they turn out to be some of those people who believe in ONLY the Bible plus the weird stuff like when you feel the spirit you speak in tongues.  So basically I got in my first Bible Bash! They pretty much hated us. We tried so hard not to argue with them. But then as we were about to leave we decided to leave with our testimonies of Christ since that was common ground. Then as we left we gave them a Festival of Lights card and invited them to that. Then we offered service like raking their leaves and they said no. But right as we left I said again, "We come out for two years and hope to teach people, but all in all we are here to help out anyone we can in anyway. So if you need any service give us a call". And I saw their hearts change. They saw we really are out here just trying to do good things. So we have a return appointment to read the Christmas Story in the Bible with the family next week! 

Second awesome experience was later that night. We went to check another Bible request and we go to this apartment complex. We were walking through this complex and come across 3 Latinos. As we walk up Elder Herring asks "Habla Ingles". They all gave us the "umm sorta looks" as they shake their heads. So we look at each other and kinda laugh as 2 English Elders go for it. We struggle our way through some terrible broken high school Spanish and invite them to Festival of Lights. Then I decided I needed to ask if they wanted to be taught by the Spanish missionaries. So I whipped up some of my barely passing HS Spanish. And tell them "Estamos misioneros de la Iglesia de Jesucristo de los Santos de los Últimos Días (they helped me with the church name so that was way funny). Tenemos misioneros habla espanol. Te gusta habla con Them." Like I said, some terrible Spanish haha. But we ended up getting their phone number to pass on!! It was so cool! Plus I know the Lord helped me recall all those phrases from my dreaded memories of HS Spanish. So humbling to see that help when we needed it. Plus it was a good laugh for me and Herring as we walked away from them. 

The week ended on another high note with Pres/Sister Cooke doing our wards sacrament meeting! Plus we got a shout out from Sister Cooke over the pulpit of how much she loves us! She said "I want to thank all of you that have my dear missionaries in your homes to feed and care for them. I know their mothers would thank you and as their surrogate mother for 2 years I also thank you. I love all my missionaries and Elder Carroll and Elder Williams both hold a special place in my heart". Ahh man I love the Cookes so much! I'll be so sad when they leave this summer!

Also on Sunday is how we picked up our 2, maybe, baptisms. So first is a man named Sampson. His wife and son were baptized a little while ago and he just wasn't quite ready. Now he's been saying he might be ready and basically as Elder Williams and I were teaching the gospel principles Sunday school class (since our Ward Mission leader was gone we stepped in) he told us he saw the blessings of the gospel and pretty much said he was ready to be baptized! BooYeah!! So we will try to get him on Dec 20 as well! And here is #3 so there is this hilarious 8 year old named Brian. And he comes from a single mom home and he's pretty much hasn't been baptized cause he's scared of the water and that he'll get drowned. So I walked up to him and told him if he grabbed my hand and I could curl him 5 times he had to get baptized! He said deal and I was psyched so I grabbed that kid and practically threw him through the ceiling. After he told his mom he was still scared but sure now he would get baptized!!! It was so cool to see how happy his Mom was when he told her that! So it won't technically count as a "convert baptism" and I might not be the one who baptizes him but I'm so excited for him! So that is how we might have 3 early Christmas presents and baptize 3 people on December 20th! Wow it was an amazing week where we got so blessed by the Lord! This truly is his work not ours!! 

Before you've asked for specific people to pray for, so this week could you guys pray for Sampson, Ismael, and Brian? 

I love you all so much!

Love, 
Austin

Us with the APs after our exchange. 
We took it under a street light behind the DC Stake center so that's why we look all yellow




November 23, 2015

Hi everyone! 

Sorry for the later letter than usual! We had a mission turkey bowl down on the mall! My team came in 2nd and it was a blast! I destroyed my throat with the cold weather! The last few days have been freezing!! But it was still tons of fun! My legs will be sore for a few days haha

Well first full week in Laurel down! It was a pretty good week! So Laurel is less rural than WP2. Lots more shopping centers and business buildings. But still pretty suburban. The Ward is pretty good, a little smaller than WP2 and not quite as strong. They are nice to the missionaries but not as inviting as the last. But granted my first Ward was what I've heard is one of the best in the entire mission!! So we eat about 4-5 times a week with members. 

So a focus of our mission right now is just contacting, getting out talking to as many people as we can. Elder Ballard came to the mission earlier this year and extended the promise that if every missionary contacts 10 people a day (20 per companionship) we would see our teaching pools go up! So that was a huge push after, and they are revitalizing it with the Festival of Lights and the Christmas season rolling around. So we are doing the Elder Ballard Challenge Pt. 2 as a mission right now. Elder Williams and I had 85 contacts this week! That is way higher than I've ever had in a week so far, but as you can tell it's not quite the 120 we are striving to get! It's pretty hard with the no tracting after dark rule to sometimes get a full 20 on the day! But we are working hard! 

So it was lots of tracting this week so rather than run down the week I'll just hit a few highlights. So Thursday I was asked to give the workshop in District meeting and I taught on how we can better plan/set goals with the spirit. People came up and told me I did a good job so I guess it went well!

Also we had this way interesting lunch on Friday with some members. They live in this like huge wanker retirement apartment complex that has this restaurant. Holy cow I was by far the youngest person in that room. Like I could be those peoples great great great grandson. I'm pretty sure if you added up all the ages of the people there we could have enough years to get back to Adam and Eve. I've never seen so many walkers, wheelchairs, and jazzys. You get the picture.. They were older than dirt. Plus the food was 110+ portion sizes as well so that was a downer. 

So we have a few people I'm super excited to teach here! First is a 14 year old kid named Jacob. He's already a member (technically). But he basically has 0 testimony, he went up to his Mom and Grandpa and told them that he didn't really believe in God. So they brought us in and we are teaching him! He's a super cool kid and he's really open to having us help him out! Plus his family always wants to feed us when we are over talking with him so that is always a bonus haha. But he really does want to know these things he just needs to put in the work so I'm excited for him. Plus we have an exchange with President Cooke this upcoming week and we scheduled Jacob during that time so that's gonna be fun. 

Also we have 2 possible investigators we tracted into on Saturday. So they are Wally and Mary Ann. I say possible cause Wally is a preacher for the 7th Day Adventist church and has been for like 40 years. So yeah.. Fun stuff. So they had just got back from church when we knocked their door and they let us in and we basically just compared and contrasted our beliefs. It was pretty interesting. They were open for us to stop by again and keep talking with them, so who knows maybe the spirit can work on them enough they will have soft enough hearts to convert! I think Wally honestly just wants to learn about our church but I kinda got the vibe from Mary Ann she wants to convert us to their church. They gave us some book of their scripture when we gave them a Book of Mormon. I dunno what to do with it.. I kinda wanna keep it just as a crazy kind of souvenir haha. But yeah they have some pretty interesting beliefs, actually pretty similar to us on some points. But Wally says the Bible is perfect because God wouldn't allow his word to be changed... So we will see where this goes! I'm pretty excited though!    

Sounds like thanksgiving will be a ton of fun with the Carrolls. I'm sure gonna miss you all this holiday season but there are fun mission memories that will be made. The missionaries really look out for each other, especially during the holidays since we are one big mission family! I'll have Thanksgiving dinner at some members house and since it's a non Proselyting day we will spend some time with other missionaries. 

I love you all!
Austin


Yellow Team!!
Elder Herring, the guy in the red beanie, is going to BYU to play O-line when he gets home



Reunited with my boys!!
Elder McDonald and Elder Lee


Elder McDonald and Elder Parker

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015

Hi everyone! 

Wow! What a week! So to answer the question you've all been asking, I am now serving the Laurel Ward, up in Laurel MD. It's on the north side of the mission. 

Well I'll run down my week..

So Monday and Tuesday was rushing around letting me say goodbyes to everyone down in WP2. Wow I love those people so much! I miss them and I am so glad I'm serving in a mission I know I can return to and see people, even though there weren't many investigators, I was able to teach so many members and I grew to love those people. In fact it's been hard not to compare Laurel to WP2. I'll send the pictures of all my goodbyes! My last dinner was with the Chamberlains and Sister Chamberlain just cried as I said goodbye. She said she will always think of me and Coombs as her missionaries, I just love that family!!

So Wednesday rolls around for transfers. I'm already kinda nervous because I know I'm gonna start all over again in an area. I thought that was enough for me to handle, and as usual the Lord has other plans. Surprise!!! I'm now a senior companion and white washing half an area! I didn't know if I should laugh or cry when I heard that announced haha. Ok so here's what happened, I was called up to serve in the Laurel Ward. My companion is Elder Williams, who came out with me. Yup we have two 3 month missionaries running an area. I guess President really does trust me. And yup Herring was right I do have a chance to learn and grow a ton. So about the white washing, so Elder Williams has been here since we got here (2 transfers) and the Ward use to have 4 missionaries, but they cut it to 2 this transfer so we are white washing the other area (what use to be Laurel East). So it's not like a technical white wash since Elder Williams knows the Ward leadership and most of the Ward. But still it pretty stressful. On top of that I got kinda sick on Thursday-Saturday as well, but I'm doing good and it just kinda slowed me down for those few days. 

So in all honesty I was pretty stressed this week. I had all the things running around my head like what in the world I don't even know how to do everything as a missionary, why in the world is this happening. Also I got kinda mad cause I'm already having to spend the holidays away from my family and now I'm not having it with the people I learned to love in WP2. So I was praying tons, and Friday I kinda got a kick in the butt from the spirit, I got out of the car (yes I can drive now) and just had this thought come into my head "get over yourself". Pretty much the Lord knows what to do and he's going to qualify those he calls. Then I got more comfort at the Why I Believe Sunday night. The guy speaking was just talking about how he knows our Heavenly Father knows all of us and loves all of us. He's so aware of each little trial we go through and I just felt the spirit so strong, I know that this situation I'm in (that in reality isn't close to as hard as life will eventfully get) my Heavenly Father knows and loves me. He's putting me in tough situation after tough situation so I can grow into what he wants me to be. I really feel like the Lord is stretching me every transfer with something new, but I'm becoming the missionary he wants me to be. My idea of my learning curve and the Lords idea may be a little different but I trust his call on that more than mine. I know he's making everything hard so I can be who he wants me to be. He wants me to keep relying on him and being humble enough to ask for his help. This truly is his work not mine. 

As far as Elder Williams and I go... We are super different. Like a lot. Plus we are in a two man so no roommates. And I'm in a new Zone with no one I know so that added to my stress this last week. I know Elder Tanner and Elder Parker (the new traveling trainers) and that's about it. It's tough being in a two man, I love having another companionship to hang out with in the mornings, evenings at meals. But just more stuff I guess the Lord needs me to learn. Elder Williams is from Mesa and is really into singing. I don't have any pictures with him, but if you go onto Sister Cookes blog, look at the group that came in with me and he is the bigger of the two Elder Williams. 

Things are good though, thanks for all your thoughts and prayers! I love you all!!

Love,
Austin

WHITE PLAINS 2 GOODBYES

The Vance Family

Scott Jenkins (Recent convert of just over a year)

Richard Barbone, my stubborn Catholic friend I couldn't get baptized.Then again 20 years of missionaries haven't haha. So when I asked for a pictures he said "Sure, but let me grab my crucifix and rosary beads first" hahaha that guy cracks me up.

Goodbyes with the Chamberlains
This is the Chamberlains daughter Willow. 
She is like the most adorable little girl ever!


Last stop by at the Bonneys. Playing a game of Ping Pong with my boy Peter
November 9, 2015

Hi all!

Well it was an eventual week especially on Saturday with transfer call out...... I'm getting transferred.  Ahh I'm so sad to go.

So nothing special until Wednesday when I got to go to the temple! Ah it was so great, I really have missed it. It was awesome to be there with my new temporary family of missionaries. That's really what we are out here, one big family. That's what President Cooke always tells us that we are all part of his big mission family. Like the first night I was in the mission he told me, "I'm not here to replace your parents, but I will stand in their place for you for the next 2 years". It's awesome President Cooke cares that much about us. When we got to the celestial room Pres/Sister Cooke where there waiting to greet us with a handshake and a hug. They are great mission parents!

After the temple trip we went on exchange and one of our Zone Leaders, Elder Crandall came down to White Plains and Elder Redmond went up to Anacosita with the other Zone Leader. It was a fun time, nothing too special. But the next morning, so Thursday, we had to move an apartment in our complex that use to be used by a senior couple. And the DC ZLs came down so I saw Coombs for the morning!

Thursday's meetings were awesome! Every last district meeting of a transfer we have a testimony meeting. And it's always awesome! My district has been amazing and I've grown to love all of them! Like I was saying earlier about the mission being a family, the district is the close family because that's who I work with and see all the time! So I'm so sad to see them go!

Thursday night I found out that the time had finally come... I was gonna get to go on exchange finally with my boy Elder McDonald!!! We were so pumped for Friday to get to work together.... Until he got sick that night and ruined all our plans haha. So Elder Summit and Elder Hubber (McDonald's comp) are training this transfer and had to go to a meeting so we did a quick exchange so they went up to that. Elder Redmond stayed in White Plains and worked with one of our Ward Missionaries. And I had to babysit the sicky. His area is called Capitol Hill and you can see that Capitol Building and the Washington Monument from their apartment window so that's super cool!!

 I felt so bad for the guy he was really not doing so hot. But it was a fun time to sit in the apartment and just hang out with him. Even if he had to leave mid conversation a few times to throw up. It felt weird to just sit for a few hours and talk and not be out working. So I guess that is a good sign. But I honestly love that guy! He's my closest mission friend and we get along great! He's probably going to go to UVU after so we might see lots of each other even after the mission which we both are fine with!

Saturday we went to an event in the evening at the Visitors Center with one of our recent converts Scott! It was called We Serve and it was a big tribute to the veterans. It was super awesome and his wife and in laws who aren't members came! The program had the Mormon Choir and Orchestra of DC preform and Pres Cooke was the guest speaker. 

Later that night was the transfer call out. I was so shocked to hear "Elder Carroll pack your bags" I'm so sad to leave. At the same time I am kinda ready. This area is a slower area so I'm excited to possibly have more convert work in my next area. But it's so sad to see all these people go. I'm so glad I'm in a mission that I will be able to come back to at some point. Whether I get to visit WP2 again as a missionary or I come back after my mission I will come back and see people. I've truly learned to love the people here!

So I am nervous and excited for this upcoming week to find out where I'm going and who I'm with. But the Lord needs me somewhere else in his crazy vineyard he calls Washington DC. Next week I'll be writing from somewhere else!!

I love you all! Have great weeks! Don't forget to say your prayers.

Love,
Austin
White Plains District


White Plains District plus a few like the guy in the orange tie is Elder Thornton one of the traveling trainers, he's going home this transfer which is super sad! He's a stud and I've had tons of good conversations with him that have helped me out. Plus he's the only other Austin in the mission haha. And the blonde guy behind him is Elder Crandall our ZL. The guy on my lap is Elder Tanner or what we call him, Elder Tannerbud. Cause he calls everyone bud or buddy haha. He's the other traveling trainer. Plus the guys like 6'6 if you can't tell haha


The poor guy was so sick haha. He was a trooper to stay awake and talk to me most of the time haha

I was smart and brought up clothes to hang out in since I knew I would
just be in the apartment for the day babysitting him.




November 2, 2015

Hi everyone!!

Really though! How is it November already! This upcoming week I'll hit 3 months and this Saturday is transfer call out again! Like WHAT! It's already almost another transfer in the books. It's going fast so I'm trying to make the most of it! It's a common theme from all my friends out we all tell each other now fast it feels like it's going.  Well this week was pretty good!

Monday we went down to Swan Point, which is like a 45 minute drive from our apartment, for dinner with a Ward member. She's a member and her husband isn't but they are kinda loaded and it was pretty sweet! (Swan Point is a country club/yacht club so you get the idea) They have a granddaughter that just left on a mission so she loves the missionaries!

Tuesday I got to go to the temple!!! We went and did baptisms, confirmations and Initiatory's for family names, so I got 5 of the ones you sent me done! We laughed and said we know we are a low baptizing mission when a couple missionaries messed up holding arms and the wording for baptizing haha I love doing those ordinances but I'm so excited to go to the temple for an endowment session of Tuesday this week! I love the DC temple, but I love my Draper temple more. The DC temple is pretty great though. After the temple we went to lunch with the Roses, the APs and a couple other missionaries!

Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were all pretty normal missionary days! Just stopping by Less Actives, a few teaching appointments, and we got some tracting time in which is nice with how busy we have been covering two wards!

So here's our eventful Halloween haha.. We went to a Ward trick or treat during the day. It was tons of fun! Some Ward members gave us candy to pass out so we gave the kids candy and a pass along cards haha. We then went and had a way early dinner at a members home because we had to be in by 5 for the night. So we came home and took naps and than played 3 games of Clue. I won the first 2 and then was over confident and lost the 3rd game by one card on my final guess haha. But it was pretty good.. Nothing like a Halloween night with friends back home though!

I am amazed at how fast the mission is seeming to fly by sometimes. There are rough time, times where I'm really homesick and times where it just is down right hard. But I'm happy to be a missionary. There is nothing I would rather be doing right now, of course there are "more fun" things to do back home. But a mission is truly life changing. I was having s rough week just with like come on where are the investigators to teach, but I got an email from Jill Parkinson on Sunday. She was asking for pictures for this Christmas present she is pulling together for Cole. Anyways she mentions the effects our missionary are having on people back home in Utah we never realize and in fact that is some of the best missionary work we will do while we are out. So I know my missionary service is helping people. I know for sure it is helping me and people back home. I know I'm down here in WP2 for people, like the Chamberlains, Adam, and others. Whether it is less actives, investigators, or active members, like it says in PMG my calling is to bring ALL closer to Christ.

I love you all so much!! Have great weeks!
Love,
Austin 


My boy Peter, Elder Redmond and I. He was suppose to be an Indian.. Not a Lamanite :)


Us wishing everyone a Happy Halloween!


So this is Willow. She's the youngest of the Chamberlain family. She's absolutely adorable. I guess I can't get away from the little kids haha. So while we were playing UNO last night she was sitting on the table in front of me and she kept popping the Dum-Dums out of my mouth and unwrapping and popping new ones in. She then would eat the one I was eating before. Gross! But Sister Chamberlain thought it was cute. I did too until I wasn't looking and she popped one from her mouth into mine haha!







October 26, 2015

Hi everyone!

So Monday we went and taught a FHE at the Vances. It was super awesome! 

Tuesday and Wednesday were pretty normal days until mid day Wednesday. Elder Dawson got a call mid day saying his visa had arrived and he was leaving the next day. If you don't remember Elder Dawson was visa waiting here to go to Angola Africa. He was companions with Elder Summit for the White Plains 1st Ward. (Our Roommates) Him leaving mid transfer was totally unexpected we thought he would get his visa and just leave after this transfer... But nope he's gone. So here's how I got a new companion, Elder Summit, Elder Redmond and I got put in a trio to cover both wards for 3 weeks until the end of the transfer. So it's gotten pretty crazy covering two wards. We have basically 0 time for tracting or finding new investigators because we are covering all the investigators and less actives of the two wards. Like this up coming week we are booked except for some mid day hours on Friday. So it will be interesting.. Covering two wards and being in my first trio. I'm kinda the administrative guy for this trio doing all the scheduling and calling. I'm basically the face/PR of us. Especially to the WP2 Ward since I'm the one who knows all our people. 

So Thursday Elder Dawson left and our time as White Plains 3 began (the nickname given to us). So we had a dinner with a WP1 Less active and then taught our excommunicated member/investigator that night. 

Friday and Saturday were just crazy days running back and forth between appointments for the two wards. Then yesterday (Sunday) was kinda terrible haha. We were at the church from 7:30-4:30. It was the longest Sunday of my mission! I had to go to 2 primary programs! Plus we have to go to both Ward councils so we heard both sides on the whole church time conversation.  Like the WP1 Ward wants to have church at 11:30 and not take the 1 block next year. And WP2 is like no we took it this year you take it now.  I just told both wards that we are here to be missionaries not mediators haha. It was weird to be the people in both meeting though.  I'm glad we only have 2 more Sunday like that! Well hopefully, we are expecting it will all go back to normal once transfers happen but I guess who knows. Word on the street from Elder Coombs is the next transfer coming in is a big arrival group. 

Well as you can see it was a pretty eventful week. Thanks for all the love and prayers back home!
I love you all!!
-Austin

To upkeep mission rules we had to move 3 beds into what use to be the
WP1 room. So we sleep a little too close for comfort at the moment.
Especially since Elder Summit snores like a lumberjack. (We took the
picture using a timer by the way)



One of my favorite Ward kids! His name is Peter and he comes from the
Bonney family, the one with 14 kids! They love the missionaries and
Sister Bonney already signed up to have us for Thanksgiving and
Christmas! So if I'm still down here I'll be skyping from their house!
They are awesome!


We went for a ride down a bike trail for P-Day, the fall leaves were amazing. We ended up biking 18 miles on the Indian Head bike trail! It was fun! I am laying on my bed now because my legs are so tired. Yeah the bike was  great! I'm glad that I got to ride it because it's just been sitting out locked on our back porch. The fall leaves are great! But I sure miss the canyon drives and all the leaves!