Spread the Word

Spread the Word

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

I'M COMING HOME!!!!!!

Hey mom and dad and family!!

GUESS WHAT?! ITS HERE!!!!!!!! I'm coming home!! Just wanted to let you know that I won't have my iPad by this afternoon probably, so if you have anything you needed me to know, you better say it fast haha. Just FYI, I'm bringing a bunch of quarters in case I need to call you at the airport for whatever reason. Hopefully everything works out and I actually get home. Knowing our family, though, I'll probably end up taking a wrong plane or missing a flight and it'll end up being a tiring, stressful, expensive experience
trying to get me home ;) haha jk! I'll do my best to not screw up!!
Alright have a good one!! I LOVE YOU! This'll be my last email as
Elder Stafford :(


 Me and Brother Downer (one of my favorite members of the ward)

 The whole zone

 My last district :(

Had to get a door knocking picture before I left ;)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Exhaustion Has Set In

Hello all!! This week was pretty good!! For some reason my body has
just been way out of sync, though. I've been feeling exhausted like
all day long. Annoying! I got a priesthood blessing, though, so that
will help. My body has just decided that it doesn't want to fall
asleep at 10:30 anymore or wake up at 6:30. I've always been pretty
good about actually getting up at 6:30, but recently my body just
isn't letting me...really weird.
But anyways...so Anthony (our only investigator really) is doing
really well. He came to church again like he promised and he's loving
it! He's really excited to get baptized. We had a lesson with him on
Sunday after church which was awesome! We taught him about the
Restoration of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and about the Book of Mormon
and all that good stuff. Always my favorite lesson if everything goes
really well.
There has been one hiccup with me and Elder Unice, though. I've just
noticed over this cycle that we have a really hard time teaching
together for whatever reason. It just doesn't seem like we can see
where the other person is going with what they're saying. He has a
tendency to go off on tangents very easily, and he mentions a lot of
stuff that really has nothing to do with what we're talking about, and
so it's hard to rally everyone back to what it is we're actually there
to teach. There are some things that I need to work on, as well
though. Because I've been on my mission so long, and because I feel
like I've developed a really good way to present the doctrine so that
it makes sense to the investigator, I get frustrated when my companion
(usually when it's newer missionaries) kind of goes out of order with
things or he skips something really important that needs to be
mentioned, and so I almost feel like I have to clean up everything he
said so that the investigator isn't confused anymore. I don't know.
Does that make sense? Really I've just got a lot of pride that I need
to work on haha. I guess I just kind of forgot that I didn't have
everything right my third cycle in the mission, either. Heck! I still
don't have it right... :)

So the other thing that's kind of been going on is a little drama with
our Ward mission leader haha. His name is Ray and he's just got a few
quirks that have been really bothering the missionaries in the Ward.
He's a SUPER great guy, don't get me wrong, though. He is retired and
single and so he doesn't have a whole lot to do, and so he invests a
TON of effort into being a Ward mission leader. He takes it sooo
seriously haha...which is good! He makes stuff like charts and
spreadsheets and all sorts of other things to organize
everything/everyone. The only problem is that he's kind of got it in
his head that he's the "boss" of the missionaries in the Ward. He
feels that it's his responsibility to direct how the missionaries do
their work in the Ward...which is not the case at all. The Ward
mission leader is really the connection between the efforts of the
full time missionaries and the efforts of the Ward. So there's just
been some drama and frustrations (a good amount on my part haha)
because we feel like he's trying to get us to submit to what HE wants
done and who HE wants us to visit...and all sorts of other stuff that
we don't need to get into. But it's just been fun. He's gotten a lot
better recently, though.
I feel bad, though, because he picks on poor Elder Unice a lot. Unice
kind of asks for it just with his personality, but Ray can be kind of
short with him especially because he's a newer missionary and so he
doesn't think he knows what he's doing yet. I was really upset after
our last Coorelation meeting because I was on a split with the other
elders in my district, and so I couldn't make it, but I heard that
Unice just got put down pretty hard by Ray. He was trying to figure
out what we had done that week and what we needed help with or
something, and Unice was kind of struggling to remember and just kind
of stumbled trying to figure everything out on his own, and so I think
Ray was kind of making him feel dumb or something. I think that Ray
knows that there's no way in heck I would have put up with that, but
because I wasn't there he did. Idk...we're probably just overreacting,
but I'm sure it'll work out eventually.

So just went to the city for my last official p-day :( next p-day
we're going to the temple with our mission president, and then after
that I'll be on a plane home! Holy moly...it's all just happening way
too fast! It was lots of fun, though! We went to Chinatown to buy a
knock-off Rolex (super super expensive watch brand...they're usually
like $2,000-$10,000) for $30 ;) hahaha. Then after that we just kind
of walked around and soaked it in one last time :( next week we won't
have hardly any time at all in the city, so this was probably the last
time I'll walk those magical streets until we come back to visit!!

Well, I gotta go, but I love you all so much. Have an awesome week!! :)

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Little Miracles...Just Do It For The Right Reasons/ The Countdown Begins!!!!

Hey hey everyone!! 

This week was great! We've actually slowly slowly
slowly started to see some miracles and successes. Tracting
has...still not been super successful, but it's cool because every day
we get out there, we see a little more success. We've even had a few
people that seemed pretty interested in having us come over again!
Although they've all juked us....haha :) but it's all good! We're
seeing miracles in other places for sure. There is a member that has
brought her friend to church the last two weeks and we got to talk to
him after church, and it looks like he's seriously considering being
baptized! He's a really cool guy and so far we think he's felt the
spirit for sure. The only thing we're worried about is that the first
week he came to church, they were "friends", but then this week when
they came they are dating haha. So we just want him to be doing this
for the right reasons is all.
So funny story, before I got to this area, the missionaries here were
out tracting and as they were walking down the street in this kind of
ghetto part of town, they ran into this wad of cash just laying on the
ground. And when I say wad of cash...I mean a WAD! I think they said
that it was about $6500 dollars in hundreds and fifties....yeah. So
they freaked out because hey thought that it was drug money or
something, and so they called the police and they came and picked it
up. So long story short, the police told them that if no one came to
the station to claim it within 60-90 days, it was all theirs. Luckily
the person that it belonged to came to the station looking for it,
though, and it turns out that this guy had dropped this huge pile of
money walking down the street and it was like the rent or something
for his families house or whatever! Anyways, so he was like sooooooo
grateful and so shocked that they were actually honest enough to say
something and not just put it in their pocket and leave. The guy said
that he'd want to go out to dinner with us sometime, so hopefully we
can maybe turn that into a teaching opportunity!

Well, isn't it so sad that Elder Perry died :( I was so sad after we
heard about that. He was so great! One of my favorites!! I just love
love love the way that he would bear his testimony so firmly. He would
almost growl as he said it haha! But something that I will always
remember about him is his intense commitment to unite all Christian
faiths together. He really taught me that just because not everyone
believes the same way we do, it doesn't mean that we're not on the
same team. We're all on Christ's team! When he was at some convention
with people of all sorts of different faiths, he spoke and you know
what he did? He challenged every single one of those denominations to
double their worship service attendance or something! Haha. That's a
man who really understood the meaning of "love thy neighbor" not just
"love thy friends who think just like you do". What a spiritual giant!
I'm interested to find out who will replace him, though. We are all
thinking that President Morgan is going to take his spot at the end of
the month ;)

Well, that's about all I got as far as news! Only three more weeks
until I'll get to see most of you! I'm really excited! :) I'm gonna
cry so hard when I have to leave, though....but luckily that's not for
a few more weeks. Hope you're all happy and healthy :) love you all!

-Elder Stafford

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Doing Some Good Old-Fashioned Tracting

Hey everyone!!!

So this week was probably one of the least exciting
weeks of my mission haha. It was still a good week, but there was just
literally nothing going for us. This area is another one of those
where we don't have many people to teach. The people that we do teach,
though, have been investigating the Church for years. The guy that
were teaching tonight has been having missionaries come over for like
4+ years or something like that. He knows that the Book of Mormon is
true, he knows that Joseph Smith was a prophet...but no matter how
many times we tell him, it just doesn't click that he needs to change
his life because of that. He goes to this other Protestant church
every week, and doesn't see why he needs to be baptized in our church.
But he'll get there eventually...maybe.


We do see a few less active guys that are all really cool. One guy
were really hoping starts to come to church again soon. He's a great
guy, but just needs to feel his testimony come back. Right now he just
doesn't feel ready to see everyone and come to church again. It's so
sad, though, because you can totally tell that it's just pure laziness
that keeps people like that away. He even told us that if he started
to come back to church, he'd have to start doing a whole bunch of
other stuff, and he just doesn't want to put in that work. But he
loves us coming and sharing a message, so we'll keep working with him.
We've been doing a lot of finding lately. Our week is pretty much full
of looking up potential investigators and then tracting for hours
around them. It's definitely not the most effective thing in the
world, but we can't afford to just sit on our behinds and do nothing.
President Morgan has promised us over and over again, too, that if we
just get out and do some good old fashioned tracting every day, the
Lord will bless our efforts. He might not always do it through the
actual tracting, but he'll bless us in other phases of the work as
well.

The weathers been beautiful lately so that's been really nice. It is
getting really really humid some days, though. I'm pretty sure that
when I go back to Idaho, I'm going to dry up and crack in half because
my bodies so used to this wet, humid air!! Haha

Well, only four more weeks to go, before I head back home. That's
still so crazy to me! That really snuck up didn't it? I still feel
like a brand new missionary some times, but it's been really cool to
just notice the difference in how I act in certain situations that I
would have two years ago. I'm a lot more comfortable talking to
strangers, which I think will help me in whatever job that I happen to
go into. The Lord has definitely helped me grow a bunch, and a hope
that I've let Him do everything had planned for me out here. I just
know that I've come to this mission for a very specific reason. I'm so
happy to be out here serving Heavenly Father at this time in my life.
I wouldn't have it any other way! I love all of you and pray for you
often. I hope you all have a terrific week and you enjoyed your
Memorial Day weekend! See ya!

-Elder Stafford

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

1st Week in da Poke!...with Elder Unice

Heyyyy everyone!!

So, I promised that I'd talk a little bit more about my last week in
West Point before I talked about this week so here goes:

So Mara baptism was awesome!! Our investigator Danielle was there
along with another one of her friends....annnnd Sabrina also came!
Sabrina was this investigator that we had towards the beginning of my
time at West Point and she just kind of fell off the face of the
earth. She ran into some questions about the church and heard some
rumors from unreliable sources, and just kind of stopped meeting with
us. But she came!! And she really really liked it! I was able to get her
email so that we could keep in contact after I left. I'm hoping that
I'll be able to convince her to start meeting with the missionaries
once the school year starts again. But anyways...the baptism! The
spirit was really strong and I think that she really really liked it.
Brother Platt was the one that baptized her, because she's known him
for quite a while actually.

So then the next day, Elder Quentin L Cook came to speak to us!! Oh my
word...it was so incredible. That is probably one of the most
memorable experiences on my mission so far. It was so incredible how
tangible the spirit was. You could just feel so strongly that that man
is a man of God. It was crazy. He spoke a lot about the sacrament
surprisingly. He gave some really incredible insights. One of my
favorite points that he pointed out was this: a lot of people think of
the sacrament as a renewal of your baptismal covenants. This is
true...but if you think it's only that, then you're missing the point.
The renewal of our past baptismal covenants is just a part of what
we're doing. We're really, in fact, making brand new covenants with
God, not just renewing old ones. Those aren't his exact words, of
course, but I just thought that was a good way to think about it.

So then that next Tuesday (my last day at the Point), we got to go to
the temple to do baptisms for the dead with Mara and Toese. It was
soooooo cool! I've never gotten to do that with a recent convert on my
mission. In fact, I don't think I've done baptisms for the dead since
I was like 17! It was awesome! It was funny, though, because
afterwards I was talking to Mara about what she thought of it, and she
said that it totally caught her off guard. Apparently she wasn't
paying super close attention to what we were saying when we were
talking about the temple, and the words "baptisms for the dead" didn't
really sink in either, because she just thought that we were going to
be sitting in a big beautiful temple to just think and meditate haha.
She had no idea she was going to be doing anything like that! She did
say something really cool, though. She said that even though she was
really confused and kind of overwhelmed with how different everything
was from what she was expecting, she came out feeling ridiculously
peaceful. I really think she felt the spirit strongly. And Toese just
loved it, of course. That dudes just a spiritual giant. It's pretty
crazy how prepared he was. I love that guy!


But yeah, so my first week in Poughkeepsie has been...different. It's
honestly been kinda hard to go back to the grind of a regular,
challenging, hard area again. West Point was such a dream, and so to
come back to an area with no work going on was kind of depressing. And
I mean NO work. We don't have like anyone to teach. At all. I can kind
of see why this area is the one that's looking to get shut down next
cycle. It's been good, though! Elder Unice is...good! He's another one
of those strange ducks that I've gotten out with, but he's awesome.
He's a little strange, but in a good way. He's got a big heart, and
that's all that matters. There's really nothing too exciting about
this week. I cleaned the apartment for like 2 1/2 days straight.
Again...I just don't do well with messy places. Plus...this apartment
is literally the best apartment in the entire mission. We have
everything. Washer, dryer, stainless steel microwave, oven,
dishwasher, and refrigerator set, a full bathroom to each one of us
(mine has a walk in shower with sliding glass doors, we have a little
deck that overlooks this little creek, a piano (yes a piano, and it's
nice...so I'm really trying to take advantage and get a little better
at playing it), brand new furniture...just everything. It's awesome.
So I would just feel horrible if this place wasn't in tip top shape.
Anyways...so yeah, not a whole lot of lessons that I could tell you
about. We did a LOT of tracting. No success yet, but that will come.
We did have an interesting lesson with a guy that's been taught a
couple of the lessons. Although...we will no longer be teaching him
because he has 0 interest in learning anything about the gospel. In
fact, he believes very heavily that the entire government is being run
by the devil, every politician is a devil worshiper, and he also
thinks that he saw a pentagram in one of our churches, which is a
devil worshipping symbol. So yeah...he's nuts :/ but it was definitely
interesting!

Well, I'd better get going. I love ya'll so much! Have a terrific week :)

Elder Stafford

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Mara Was Baptized!! Transferred From My Beloved West Point :( Hello Poughkeepsie!! :)


Hey everyone!! So sorry that this week is going to just be a little
lame email. I don't have hardly any time because of transfers and all
of that. I will write a more detailed email about this last week in
this next week's email, but I just wanted to talk about a few of the
big things that happened!!

So as some of you might know, I was transferred from my beloved West
Point :( I was so sad to go. I am excited, though, because I've been
transferred to Poughkeepsie. It's a really good place,  so far! My
companions name is Elder Unice. So far, he's a pretty interesting
guy...in a good way :). He's a little quirky but he's funny and we're
hitting it off well!

So on Friday, Mara was baptized!! It was so good! I'll talk more about
it next week.

On Saturday, we had Elder Cook from the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles
come and speak to us. That was one of the coolest things to ever
happen to me!! He gave such amazing thoughts and insights into
missionary work and the Savior. The Spirit in that meeting was so
strong and it really increased my testimony of Christ and of
modern-day apostles.



Mara's baptism


Grand Central Station

Me and the homies...I look puny!! Not that I'm very big...but these
guys are VERY big haha. These are all the prepsters that are friends
with Mara and Toese. They were all big parts of helping those two gain
testimonies.

Me and Cali

Sweaty and gross picture of us with that Poly family that we play
volleyball with. They are so awesome!! We played basketball afterwards
so that's why We're all disgusting haha.

Me and the Platts with Jacob Fryer and our investigator Danielle (on the right)

Jammed my finger pretty good playing ball :/

Us and Suzie


Me and the Ridgeways (that Indian/British family I was telling you about)

Found this on our bedroom wall one night...I'm pretty sure it crawled
out of the depths of hell...


Wednesday, May 6, 2015

This Was A Pretty Terrific Week!!! but...Leaving West Point???

Hellllo everyone!!

This was a pretty terrific week!! We are having
incredible success here at the Point. So Mara is getting baptized this
Friday!! Wooooo!! So Mara is a short little Japanese girl that is
going to the prep school right now with Toese and Jacob Fryer and all
them. She has been meeting with us For about a couple months now and
it's kind of funny because when she first started, she made it pretty
clear that she was Catholic and that she was going to stay that way.
That's what they are say ;) haha but seriously, she's had some really
cool experiences with the Book of Mormon and she just knows that they
are true. She always tells us that there's just something different
about the Book of Mormon from any other book...even the bible. But
anyways, so she committed to baptism earlier last week, and it was
kind of crazy because she has this ridiculously small time slot from
now until when she graduates and then leaves to go to a bunch of stuff
for the summer. Really what it came down to was she was either going
to be baptized this Friday, or she would have to wait like a month or
more before she came back here for basic training...which would still
be crazy to try and schedule. She had a little hiccup a few days ago
where she just had kind of a bad day and she was super tired and
stressed, and she just really felt like she needed to wait to be
baptized, that she was taking things too fast. We had a good lesson
with her, though, and she said that she would think/pray about it. She
did, and so the next day when we met with her, she committed to it and
decided that she really does want to! Phew! So we're super stoked for
that.


We had another pretty cool miracle. So Jacob Fryer (the returned
missionary that is going to the prep school...the same kid that's
given us like 10 referrals since I've been here) invited a bunch of
people to go watch Meet the Mormons with him, and one of the girls
became like REALLY interested. Her name is Danielle Peck and she is
awesome! So she agreed to meet with us, and yesterday was our first
lesson with her. It was SUCH. A good lesson. She had lots and lots of
good questions and the member that we had there did an amazing job,
and it was just great. She's already read some of the Book of Mormon,
and she texted us this morning and said that she wants to meet with us
tomorrow again!! I guess when she prayed about the Book of Mormon, she
just felt really really good and then had this insane urge to read
some more. I think she's taken that as her answer!! She's already
committed to baptism! Miracle!

Sooooo...I basically have the coolest news ever. So this Saturday, we
are all going to meet together as a mission at the temple chapel, and
we are going to have a meeting/fireside thing with Quentin L. Cook of
the quorum of the Twelve Apostles!! Have awesome is that?! I'm soooo
excited. But I also need to repent a lot haha. I'll let you know how
it goes!!

So this last Saturday, Elder Nielson and I volunteered at this North
Face Endurance Challenge thing, which was a 50 mile trail race that
went all over Bear Mountain, which is right by our apartment. It's 50
miles of running up rocks and through bushes and down trails and all
sorts of crazy stuff. Anyways, so we helped out at one of the aid
stations which was a little "rest stop" for all of the runners at
about the 29 mile mark. It was so crazy to have these people run up
and they've just got blood and mud and streaks of white salt all over
their face from sweating. We just provided all sorts of drinks and
snacks and nourishment. It was so crazy what these guys eat. So in the
middle of a race like that, these runners just CRAVE sugar, because
that's like very immediate energy that they need. So they'd run up and
just start chugging Coke to get all the sugar they need. Another thing
they need is salt because their body sweats it all out. So they'd run
up and just go up to this bowl of salt we had and just grab it by the
handfuls and throw it in their mouths!!! Or they'd grab a canned
potato and just use it to scoop up mounds of salt. It was so gross!!
Haha ...but strangely...it made me really want to do something like
that! Haha idk though...we'll see ;)

Ugh so transfer calls are happening this Saturday!! Holy cow...this
cycle flew by so stinking fast. I'm almost on my very last cycle of my
mission...that's crazy. I have such mixed feelings about Saturday. I
want to stay in West Point so badly. Like SO badly. But idk if I'd be
able to do another cycle with Elder Nielsen. I love the guy to death
but it's time for a new companionship. We get along well, but I just
really need someone that understands me and I can connect with.
So we also had MLC (Mission Leadership Counsel) meeting, which was so
good. But in it, President Morgan said that almost all of the "old"
zone leaders in the mission are going to get released to make way for
the new leaders to get ready for our new mission president. So unless
I'm one of the rare exceptions, I'm probably getting released and
going somewhere else for my last cycle. :/ I don't know how I feel
about that. I just love this place so much. I will always have a piece
of my heart at this school.

Well, Ive gotta get going, but here are some more pictures from last
week and also from today!! I love you all so much! Take care and have
a great week :)


Me and Elder Nielson inside the Cadet Chapel. It is one of the most
beautiful buildings I've ever seen. It's so cool!!

Just me in the chapel

Me at 6:00 in the morning at the Endurance Challenge...Yes, I look/felt very tired haha!

Mom sent me a Cinco de Mayo package with a bunch of good stuff for a "mexican" 
dinner.  So naturally, I took a selfie of us making it ;)

 Our goofy zone...haha. So the reason one of the elders is holding
an iPad is because his companion just recently went home for surgery
on his knee, which he hurt playing soccer a few weeks ago :( he'll be
back soon though!!

Oh Goodness Mother...

Oh goodness mother...you can't stop spoiling me can you? I got your
Cinco de Mayo package and it was awesome!! Haha so much fun!! I'll
send you a picture of it in my mass email, but I just want to say
THANK YOU!!! AGAIN!! :)

So the other thing that I was hoping to talk about was a good time to
do our Skype call!!! :D I'm so excited!! For me, around 4pm (my time,
2pm your time) would probably work best. I can't remember what time
you guys have church, though, so is that too early? If so, we can move
it to a little later! Let me know! Love you!

Monday, May 4, 2015

WHAT????!!!!!

Dear Brother and Sister Stafford

Dear Missionary Parents and Families,

We express to each of your our deep love and gratitude for the privilege of serving the Lord with your devoted, hardworking missionaries. We’re inspired daily by their faith and testimonies. As the Work of Salvation continues to hasten, our missionaries are being guided by the spirit in their finding and teaching efforts. We thank you and express our sincere appreciation for preparing such wonderful young women and young men.

In July, our mission, and the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, will be blessed to host the Mormon Tabernacle Choir as a part of their 2015 Atlantic Coast Tour. The Choir will perform at several venues during their stop in New York. Several parents and family members have inquired as to the possibility of our missionaries being able to enjoy a Choir performance and asking if tickets could be purchased for their missionary son or daughter.

One of the several venues in which the Choir will be performing is at Yankee Stadium on Friday evening the 3rd of July. The Choir will perform several numbers before the game including the National Anthem. The Yankees organization has been extremely generous to the mission and reserved 240 seats at a cost of $16 per seat, (Normally $50.00). The money will be drawn from each missionary’s monthly allotment.

President and Sister Smith have approved attendance as a mission group and missionaries will enjoy the Choir, a Yankees game and a third inning introduction - welcoming the Sister and Elders of the New York New York North Mission to Yankee Stadium. Hundreds of other members of the Church from around the area will also be in attendance which will make for a memorable evening.

Please do not purchase Choir tickets for your missionary for any other performance. Our missionaries will have other responsibilities at performance sites welcoming visitors and representing the Church.

If you have questions you are welcome to call the mission office at 914-722-4105.

Thank you for your continued faith and prayers in behalf of the incredible missionaries serving in the great New York New York North Mission!

We’re forever – Loyal to the core!

 

President and Sister Morgan

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

It Means A Lot To Know Our Service Has An Influence On People Mara Wants To Be Baptized!!

Hey familia!!!

Sorry this letter is so late again. Wow I'm really getting bad at that haha. So today was AWESOME!! We spent the entire day in Manhattan with a lot of the other missionaries that I am going home with. We went to the Statue of Liberty, Wall St., and a couple of other places. It was way fun!! The Statue was really cool! I'll attach some pictures in the email :)

So this week was really cool! Thursday we had service at that Nature Museum and we helped them set up for an Earth Day celebration that they were putting on. So funny story, on Monday last week we got a media referral (a text from Salt Lake saying that someone requested either some church literature/materials or they wanted missionaries to come over to their home. So we got a referral for a guy wanting a Book of Mormon. We didn't realize it at first, but as we went to call it, we realized that it was George, who runs the volunteer program at the Nature Museum!! Haha it means a lot to know that our service actually has an influence on people! Anyways...on Friday we had a trio split with one of the APs who came to our area. We had a good day of tracting and teaching Mara and Eva!! Both of the lessons were really good. As far as the tracting for three hours a day goes, it's been going pretty well for us...not super well, but well. It's just hard to plan in that huge chunk of time when we have so many other things we have to do! But it will get better as we have more practice.

Saturday we had a future missionary zone conference with the youth in our stake!! It was super awesome and inspiring! I was asked to conduct by President Morgan and it was kind of nerve wracking at first, but I thought I did a pretty good job so I was proud of myself haha.

Sunday was a regional conference broadcast thing. Idk if you all had that or not but I guess it's something that they're going to be doing now? Pretty cool!!

Monday we had plans to go to this members house to help them out with moving, and then we were all going to go to her friends house because she wanted us to teach her the plan of salvation!! But it fell through and so we helped them move. Then we went tracting for a long time and then went to Volleyball!! It was super fun and even though we lost, we got to play basketball which made my day ;) so remember that Polynesian family we play volleyball with? So I got to have a super cool conversation with the father that night. We just talked a lot about what we do and about our church and he was telling me about some cousins or something that are serving missions right now. It was great!
Tuesday we had service at that food pantry we serve at, went tracting, went and saw Suzie and had a lesson with her, and then a lesson with Mara!! Guess what?! Mara wants to be baptized!! Oh my word we've been praying for her so hard and she agreed to a baptismal date! She wants to do it not this Saturday, but the Saturday after that!! We hope that will work out for everyone in the branch. It's the week right before graduation, and so it would have to be that weekend or we would have to wait a LONG time to baptize her. Anyways...super awesome!

Well, that was my week!! Sorry I'm rushing again. I love you all so much!! You're the best! :)

Elder Stafford









So...this is our mission president, President Morgan, in the middle
of a meeting. So at interviews, he always takes selfies with us haha.
So some sisters in the mission bought him a "selfie stick" which is
basically a stick that you attach your phone to and you can take
selfies from farther away with. I can't tell you how excited he was
hahahaha I laughed SO hard :)



On a boat with the New York skyline behind me. Dang I look like a
redhead in that picture!



 What the Statue of Liberty is REALLY holding!!


So these are most of the elders that I came out with that are going
home this cycle and next cycle. We decided to take a
super...awkward...jumping photo hahaha. You should have seen the crowd
of 30+ people gathered around to watch 15 or so Mormon missionaries
take a high school musical, holding hands picture. Seriously haha :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

I Got To Give Toese The Priesthood. HO-LY COW. That Was Awesome!

Hey everyone!!

I am sooooooo sorry this is such a late, lame email. We got stuck
putting together an impromptu game day for the zone for pday, and then
had to rush back from Middletown to get ready for an early
appointment. Before I knew it, p-day was over and I realized that I
hadn't even gotten to finishing my email to you all!. I don't have a
ton of time, because I really shouldn't be sending any emails this
late haha but... :/ I just would feel awful if I didn't get an email
out to you!! So I don't have much time, but I did want to tell you
about two pretty big things that happened to me this week.

So the first is that on Sunday, I got to give Toese the priesthood.
HO-LY COW. That was so awesome. I was so terrified, though, because I
had no idea that I was going to be doing it. Literally 5 seconds
before it happened, he asked me haha. We were all just sitting in
priesthood class and they look at Toese and say, "alright Toese it's
that time, who was it that was going to give you the priesthood?" And
he just looks at me kind of shocked and whispers "Elder Stafford, will
you do it?". My eyes got huge and I got way scared haha. I hesitantly
flipped through the missionary handbook on how to give someone the
priesthood and ordain them a priest, and some of the other men were
helping me, too. I could really feel the Spirit telling me what to say
during that blessing. It was so so so cool. I will never forget that.

So the second big thing that happened is actually an announcement from
President Morgan! He recently received a revelation on what our
mission needs to do to take the next step in its progression. Well, he
did a lot of praying, and he has felt that each and every
companionship for the next while needs to go out and find people for
at least 3 hours a day. That's only including tracting and street
contacting. HOLY CRUD!!! That's a ton of tracting!! But while the APs
were calling us and telling us to tell our zone, I felt the Spirit
bear a strong witness that this came from Heavenly Father. This may
not be the most convenient or conventional way to go about finding
Gods children that are prepared...but for now, it's how the Lord is
doing things! I'm excited!!

Well, I'm sorry again that this is so late!, I feel horrible!! Have a
terrific week. Love you all :)

-Elder Stafford

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Cali Was Baptized!!! How Special To Be A Part Of Two Baptisms

Hello everyone!!

Everything is going good here at West Point! Cali was baptized this last Sunday and it was terrific!! It's been so special for me to be able to be a part of two baptisms now that I'm winding down on my mission. So it actually went really well. SO many people came which is always good. I hope you all are able to make it to any baptisms that you hear of because I know that it means a lot to the person getting baptized, the missionaries, and the bishopric when there are lots of people there to support them during this special time. Baptisms are so awesome! She was baptized by Brother Creason who is almost like her father figure here at West Point. Each of the cadets in the branch have this like "adopted family" in the branch that has them over for dinner a lot and makes sure that everything is going well and
everything. Well, the Creasons pretty much adopted Cali the second they found out about her. It's been so amazing for her to feel such support. The kids in the family just love her to death. So yeah, it was super sad that Elder Neuerburg wasn't able to come though. He spent such a long time in that area teaching her, but he left just a week too early. Darn it :/

That Sunday we had Mara come as well. We weren't able to meet with her since I wrote last week because her company got in trouble. All of the cadets are broken up into smaller and smaller groups, kind of like how the church is broken up into Areas, Stakes, Wards, etc. The cadets as a whole make up "the Corps", and then the corps is broken up into something smaller, and so on and so on. So her "company" I guess got into some trouble because a bunch of their apartments were messy or something and so they wouldn't let them leave the school for anything other than sports. So yeah, we're still waiting for that to be lifted haha.
We're hopefully meeting with the Ridgeways this Sunday. We honestly have no idea how they are doing. I'm getting a little worried that they aren't going to go anywhere, though. I mean they told us from the start that they weren't going to convert or anything, but I was really hoping that they'd change their minds because of how much they seemed to love our messages. People confuse me so much.... If something makes complete sense, you feel amazing as we talk about it (the Spirit), and you agree with every word we say...wouldn't that make you want to think about joining?! Anyways...

Well, I really don't know what else to write about haha. Sorry, this week was pretty uninteresting except for Sunday. We also had a little accident with one of the elders in our zone while we were playing sports. We think he might have torn has LCL or one of those knee ligaments. Hopefully not, though, because that can be a really really bad injury. :/ I love you all! Have a great day! :)

-Elder Stafford

P.S. I will get pictures to you as soon as I get home from the church. I forgot my iPad at home and that's where all of my pictures are.

CALI'S BAPTISM

Her mom, her, and her grandma (with one of the Creason girls trying to tackle her)

  Me and Cali (with Josh Mooney photobombing us as well as Jared's arm)

Cali and her other cadet friends






Wednesday, April 8, 2015

General Conference...Wasn't It Just So Good?! and Cali Is Ready!!

Happy Easter everyone!!!

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter. It's always a special time to remember the fact that Christ lives! I know for me, I sometimes forget to think about what that really means. I find myself thinking a lot about the fact that He died for me, when really we should be celebrating that He lives! It means so much to me to know that Christ opened that gate for all of us. It also really humbles me to think that out of all the people that will ever live on the earth, Christ is the only one that will completely "deserve" the wonderful gift of Resurrection. However, He's made it possible for even a sinner like me to have that gift, too. Isn't that incredible? Because of Him, the sting of sin and death doesn't have to last forever. What a relief!

My Easter was really good. I wouldn't want to spend it any other way than by listening to General Conference! Wasn't it just so good?! I loved how much they talked about the Family and how important it is. It really is amazing to think that those men don't receive any sort of assignment of what to speak on. It's all revelation!


We weren't able to be there with them, but we had three people watch at least a little conference! Toese watched it at a members house with a bunch of the other prepsters (prep school students) including Mara! I hope I've told you about her a little bit. And then Cali, who is getting baptized THIS SUNDAYalso watched a little bit of it on the Internet while she was at home for the weekend. Isn't that awesome? They all really liked it!

This week was interesting for me just because I've had to take over the area. Haven't had to do that in over 6 months!! When I went to the Bronx, I was only there for a cycle so I never had to get a new companion. It's been interesting being with Elder Nielson again, as well. I had kind of a hard time with him the first time that I was with him about a year ago. He's definitely changed a little bit, but it's been a little rough adjusting to him again. Me and Neuerburg were such great friends that it was just really weird to go back to someone that I don't exactly click with. I've had my fair share of hard companions, though, and I'd take Nielson over all of those, so I guess I can live with it ;) he's a good guy...we're just very different people.

Volleyball started up finally!! I don't know if I told you that or not? So we are officially on a team with a bunch of Polynesians haha!! They're great! It's like this one family with a mom, a dad, and like three of their kids that make up the majority of the team. The daughter is about my age and is a cadet here at West Point and the dad is an employee here doing something. But besides this white girl who is friend with the daughter, we're the only white people on the team! It's a lot of fun. They're all not very tall, so they really like to hit it to me because I can jump pretty high and can spike the ball haha. They're a way cool family, too! We're really hoping that they open up to the Gospel. The know that we're "the Mormons" and they have a lot of family that is Mormon because they're from Tonga. It's always so neat how close Polynesian families are, so I make sure and talk about family a lot with them.

Anyways, so I'm super excited for Cali's baptism!! I've just been so blessed to come here when I did. I feel like I don't deserve them at all! There's just so much missionary work going on, it's awesome. Cali had her baptismal interview with our district leader Elder Henriques last night and I guess it went really really well. She's ready!!

Well, I gotta get going but I hope you all have a terrific week. Love you!! Stay classy :)

-Elder Stafford

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Toese's Baptism!!! and Goodbye Elder Neuerburg :(


Hellllllo!

This week has been absolutely crazy!! Transfers are today! Isn't that crazy? Only two more cycles (12 weeks) before I go home! Elder Neuerburg has finally gotten out of West Point :( he had been here for 9 months, so it was definitely time for him to be gone haha. He was released as zone leader and made a district leader in Newtown, Connecticut! Exactly what I was doing a year ago!! I'm really going to miss him. He's been an awesome companion. We haven't had a single issue, really, and we get along really well. We are both inner thugs ;) you'll see what I mean from the pictures haha. You'll never believe who my new companion is, though. ELDER NIELSON!! Like, the guy I was companions with in Newtown! Haha we're going to do round 2 together. We'll see how it all goes! We got along pretty well when we were last together, so hopefully this goes even better now that we've both had a chance to have more experience and grow up some more. I'm interested to see how it all goes! I think I'm going to "die" here in West Point, which means that it will be my last area. I'm training Elder Nielson to be a new zone leader, so we'll probably go two cycles together.

This week was so good, though! Kinda crazy because we had to try and say goodbye to a lot of people, but we still got a lot of work done. The best part of the whole week was Saturday when we had Toese's baptism. It was so good. Lots of people came and the spirit was just so strong there. He told his family a few days before the baptism what he was going to do, and they weren't super happy about it. They tried to convince him to reconsider, but he wouldn't have any of it. He knows without a shadow of a doubt that this church is true. It's so amazing to see how much faith he has. His spirit is as big as his body is haha. You'll see what I mean by another picture haha.

We started working with this inactive girl named Brittany. She is about 26 or so and has been having some serious, serious issues. We found her through a member who learned that their boys are in the same Cub Scout troop in Highland Falls. She has a lot of problems, and so they way we started meeting with her was she texted the member she became friends with and asked if she knew anywhere that could give her financial aid. The member invited her over as well as the ward clerk and also us, to just help her figure everything out and start getting her life back on track. She was supposed to get married last weekend but the guy she is with is a complete loser and bailed on her. He is a completely abusive and psychotic guy that is just way manipulative and crazy. She's not too sane herself, but still...she needs to get out of there. Really the only reason she is coming to church and meeting with us now is so that she can start getting financial support...but we hope that that will turn around for her as she starts to feel the spirit again.

We met with the Ridgeway family (Hindu family) again!!! It was SO cool!! They are absolutely incredible people. They love us to death and treat us like royalty when we go over there. They were so touched by our conversation last time that they just consider us family now. When we went over, we sattalking in their living room and then Kris comes out with these gift bags! They bought us these supernice dress shirts and ties!! We tried to refuse, but they said that it is just their culture that when they have guests that they love, they always get them something. It was so cool. Because we are both from Idaho, Ian (the son) also got us something! He got us a post card from World War II that was printed in Pocatello, Idaho! Isn't that cool? 
But anyways, so we started eating dinner and we taught them all about the Plan of Salvation. We tried to go really simple and basic, but they just weren't having that. They weren't going to be satisfied with us telling about the Fall of Adam and Eve in three sentences. They wanted to understand EVERYTHING. It was a little rough at first, because the Plan of Salvation is such a broad topic, and it's hard to understand some things without knowing all of it first. After we were able to answer a lot of their questions, they just LOVED it. The husband especially was very touched by what we had to say and said that we were able to answers questions that he'd had for his whole life. I think that the most progress is going to come from him. They almost cried when they heard that Elder Neuerburg was leaving :/

Well, that was about this whole week! I'm pretty nervous to take over the area, just because Elder Neuerburg has been here for so long that everyone knows him really well. I'm worried I'm just going to be that "new Elder" for a while...but it'll get better! I've learned that I really don't have to worry so much about those things. It's all in the Lords timing. I've been so amazed to have been a part of the Lord working through me. Especially with the Ridgeways...they are just so smart, much smarter than I'll ever be in this life, yet Heavenly Father helps me know what to say to teach these people that are a billion times more intelligent and sophisticated than me. It's so humbling. I hope you all can remember that it's really the Lord that is in charge. All we need to do is trust him and move forward! Have a terrific week! Love you :)

-Elder Stafford


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Me and Toese. Sorry, I was kinda stressed at this point because the font was having a rough time getting filled up, so this isn't the greatest picture. I have a super fake smile.

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Awkward steak selfie...we suddenly had an urge to grill when it was freezing outside and pouring rain...but we went for it haha. We share a grill with Elder and Sister Lotz, so that's where we got the grill.

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 The post card we got from Ian Ridgeway that's from World War II. Won't really get the joke...but that's okay. 

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 Our ridiculous zone haha

 Me and Elder Nagel...one of my favorite goofy missionaries in the zone

 Our district at Paul Nardella's house (I'll tell you more about

Paul when I get home hahaha)

 Us and Elder and Sister Lotz

The district at our favorite pizza place ever! Prima's Pizza in
Cornwall. So good!