Florida Elder’s Companion Leaves

My companion left today. Well one of them. I can’t remember if I explained this, but one of my companions is actually from the Mexico City West mission. However, his passport and visa were stolen (or at least they thought so), so he got deported. He went home for a short period before coming here to Tampa for two months. Now that he is just about to return, they found that his visa and passport were stuck up under the seat of the car that they put his papers in. He was great and really fun, and I’m glad I was able to serve with him for a time. 

This week we visited the hospital several times to give blessings and prayers and comfort. It was rather sad. However, helping them was very good. Giving service and comfort and blessings brought some light I think. Otherwise, this week wasn’t much to write home about (pun extraordinarily intended). 

However, I would like to share a brief testimony of Joseph Smith. I love Joseph Smith. Of course, we know we do not worship him. However, we should respect him. He has been called the second greatest prophet of all time. The greatest, of course, being our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. His life was filled with much trial and difficulty, and yet he was described by many as jovial, friendly, happy, full of vigor, the life of the party. Later on in his life in regard to his great trials he simply said “In deep water am I wont to swim in. (D&C 127:2) Better deep than shallow. (The Restoration Movie)” He relates himself to Peter in rejoicing in his trials for God continually delivers him from them. Joseph Smith lived a life that very few will be able to accept, fewer understand, and fewer know. He was constantly in the midst of miracle either in communication with God or exercising his priesthood in service of others. His greatest sorrows were for the wayward lives of others and pain inflicted due to his presence and preaching. His greatest joys were in his family and friends. His discourses were powerful, his friends loyal, and his revelation was true. Looking through his life and his teaching helps us understand more about God, more about our purpose, more about this restored church, and more about how we should interact with one another. This testimony ended up being not so brief, but I would like to close this email in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Hasta próxima semana (Until next week) 

PS: some pictures of my District (the Elders of Israel) and Elder Hemming (my companion who left).

“Elders of Israel”
More about this name below. 
This was taken outside of a Golden Corral where they ate one day. 
St Petersburg Zone – Aug. 22, 2019
Elder Kith is third from the left.
Elder Hemming is OBSESSED with cotton candy!

The Tampa Mission FB page shared some great pictures this week from their Zone Conference.

 Missionaries love to eat and the Relief Society sisters and Senior Missionaries love to feed them.

Some pics that Elder Kitch made it into. Unfortunately, they weren’t the best timing. LOL! But a missionary mom will take whatever she can get! Even if it’s part of an eye or the top of a head! LOL! 

This is a great one of him though!! <3 His companions are on either side of him. 
President Hollingsworth and his sweet wife.

Mission Nurse, Sister Madsen and the Area Medical Advisor, Elder Bair.
We are blessed to have this dedicated medical personnel to take care of our sons and daughters. Walker has already needed medical advice since arriving. Sister Madsen has been so helpful and kind.

Inspiration instruction and dedicated missionaries at Zone Conference.

Car training and inspections for new missionaries.
Now into the phone call. 🙂 Today’s conversation was taken down by handwritten notes. Jared is out of town for work in Denver. He is usually able to record our conversations, so I don’t miss anything when I type them up later. So hopefully I got everything down! 🙂

As I picked up the video call there were all kinds of sounds and buzzings and notifications going off. Apparently, he was getting notifications from Salt Lake about a referral, but it was all for the same person 30 times! LOL! Walker is like hold on… I don’t know what’s happening right now! Haha!

He was also getting texts from St. Pete, which is short for St. Petersburg, which is an area in his Mission. That’s where his District Leader, Elder Knell, is. I asked him to spell that for me, and he said “K-N-E-L-L, you know from the song from the Haunted Mansion.”

When you hear the knell of a requiem bell
Weird glows gleam where spirits dwell
Restless bones etherealize
Rise as spooks of every size

Only my son would remember that random word from that song!! LOL!!

The photo above called “Elder’s of Israel” isn’t his whole District. However, they call themselves that because they are an all male District. He’s in the St. Petersburg Zone (there are four Sisters in his zone), Largo is his Area. A Mission is made up of Zones, which are made up of Districts, which are made up of Areas.

The condition of the Sister who is on life-support in his Branch won’t change. She can’t live without the machines, but her husband can’t let her go. They keep trying to reach him to offer support, but he doesn’t return their calls. It is not because they are missionaries; he has a history of being hard to track down. Such a heartbreaking story.

Today is 85 degrees with a BILLION percent humidity! Hahaha! The humidity is 70-90% every day!!! Yikes!

He’s understanding more of the Spanish language than he can speak. He’s not “speaking”. He’s still “translating”, so it makes it slow. He studies out of books and tries to practice when he can, but it’s much more difficult because he’s not immersed in the language since he still speaks English there. It will come. His companion, Elder Oren, says he’s doing better than he did when he arrived.

Apparently, Elder Hemming LOVES cotton candy. There’s a photo of him at the top with some cotton candy at the Golden Coral. Walker got a video of him scarfing an entire bag at once!!! He had two to three bags that day! That’s a lot of sugar!! 😛

Elder Hemming left today, so it’s just Walker and Elder Oren now. Elder Oren was telling Walker things are probably going to be different now that Elder Hemming is gone. It’s been pretty chill for the past two or three weeks because Elder Hemming was ready to get back to Mexico. The rest of his mission will be much different now.

They shared with Walker that since he joined them they haven’t gotten as angry with each other. They fought pretty bad I guess. However, since Walker has been with them, blood was drawn three times, so I don’t know how much better it really got. LOL! The most recent was this week. Elder Oren whipped Elder Hemming with his pocket-handkerchief while they were out knocking doors. Things started to escalate while they were standing on the doorstep of one of the houses. The owner opened the door and asked them what the heck was going on out there. They stopped immediately, composing themselves as if nothing happened, and introduced themselves as missionaries for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. LOL!

The whole rest of the day Elder Oren kept making Elder Hemming mad. He’d pull his arm hair, and he was telling the Sister Missionaries weird references (I think about Elder Hemming… boy I wish this was recorded. Sorry…) So Elder Hemming said, “When we get back to the house you’re going to die!!” haha!! They got back to the house, and Elder Hemming got a real towel and started whipping Elder Oren. Then he got one too and started whipping him back. Elder Hemming then whipped Elder Oren so hard that it broke the skin on the back of his leg. Not just a cut but tore the skin away. OUCH!! I hate to think how brutal it got before Walker showed up! LOL!

The young woman they are working with to get a baptism date for that he mentioned last week has set a date for September 14th. Her name is Alandra. They are hoping she will be ready with her testimony by then. I sent Walker a quote earlier this week that made me think of her, and he shared it with her along with a scripture.

“There is even more good news for those who question their ability to receive and recognize revelation despite their sincere but often seemingly ineffective efforts to do so. It is that you are likely doing better at receiving revelation than you think. The scriptures make clear that it is possible to be influenced by the Holy Ghost and not fully recognize it.” —Kevin J. Worthen

She said she is feeling that she has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Prophets, but she’s struggling to know if Russell M. Nelson is the Prophet. He’s been looking for talks that he can share with her about him and they are going to watch his 95th Birthday Celebration that is going to be aired on September 6th together.

He’s been digging into learning about the Church and the Gospel. He loves to learn, and he’s growing such a deep understanding of things, as you can tell by his testimony of Joseph Smith that he shared in his letter. He’s been listening to talks, lectures, studying the Restoration, anything he can get his hands on. He recommended a few things for us that he’s especially enjoyed.

The Follet Sermon (Parts 12) – This is the most well-recorded discourse Joseph Smith ever gave. It’s found in the Journal of Discourses. The sermon is about exaltation, apothesosis, and becoming a god. It’s published in the Ensign (he said to make sure to read them in order), and in the Journal of Discourses it’s the sixth one.

The Truman G. Madsen Lectures on Joseph Smith (1: The First Vision and Its Aftermath2: Joseph’s Personality and Character3: Joseph Smith and Spiritual Gifts4: Joseph Smith and Trials5: Joseph Smith and the Kirtland Temple6: Joseph Smith as Teacher, Speaker, and Counselor7: Doctrinal Development and the Nauvoo Era8: The Last Months and Martyrdom) – He’s listened to the first three. They deep dive into the life, gifts, stories, and doctrines exemplified through Joseph Smith’s life. The first was a little dry. It’s about the First Vision and the after-effects. The second is fun! It goes into the character and personality of Joseph Smith. He really loved to wrestle! 😛 The third is really really spiritual. It goes over Spiritual Gifts. He’s come to really like Joseph Smith. There are people who have issues with him because he was seen as “just a man”, but that’s what he loves about him.

Brigham Young on Salvation. This is the very first entry in the Journal of Discourses.

Hugh Nibley’s talk How to Write an Anti-Mormon Book (audio only) – Hugh Nibley was a professor at BYU for 50 years. He was a prolific author and wrote apologetic works supporting the archaeological, linguistic, and historical claims of Joseph Smith. Walker likes him a lot.

He’s downloaded 64 talks to listen to from various prophets and apostles. Holland, Uchtforf, Bruce R. McConkie, Nibley, and my personal favorite Neal A. Maxwell!! <3

Some by Bruce R. McConkie that he’s enjoyed are; 10 Commandments of a Peculiar PeopleThe Seven Deadly Heresies, and Choosing an Eternal Companion. He liked that last one a lot. 🙂

He said we should also check out the Gospel Topics Essays. They go over topics that are “eeeeuuuhh”. That was his exact words. Haha! They are topics that people tend to shy away from: Heavenly Mother, polygamy, Race and the Priesthood, DNA evidence of the Book of Mormon, etc.

He finished reading the Book of Mormon all the way through, and he’s reading James E Talmage’s Jesus the Christ. He’s on the fifth chapter. Then, he’s going to start The Saints.

He never really studied the Gospel in this way before even though he’d gone to church all of his life and attended Seminary. When he was a junior and senior in High School he had an awesome Seminary teacher, Brother Isom. He was the first to really bring context and excitement about learning the scriptures to him, but even then he didn’t study like this until he entered the CCM/MTC. Now he can’t get enough!

Jared popped in for a minute as he was walking back to the office from lunch. He said hello and then had to go in.

This week they didn’t do a lot since Elder Hemming was leaving. They hung out with two other missionaries, Elder Hickenlooper (sp?) and Elder Allen who reminds Walker of Bracken Trudeau in our Ward. Their humor is similar. They drove these Elders around, and they helped them paint a lady’s house.

When Walker first arrived, they went to Culver’s to eat. Elder Allen asked the girl working there if she had any Windex Remover. He thinks he got some Windex in his eye. Weird goofy humor like that is just like Bracken.

Poor Elder Oren gets messed with because he’s from the Philippines and doesn’t know a lot of the American culture. The prank they liked the most is to have him go up to the waitress in a new restaurant and ask her if they have any Zazpergurt lotion. It’s a nonsense word that Elder Hemming convinced him was real. It supposedly moisturizes your hands and gets the grease/oil off. They were out this week and they pranked him again. He went up to ask, and the waitress was like, “What? We don’t have any of that.” She, of course, has no idea what it is either. LOL! Walker was DYING laughing, but everyone else had a straight face, so he was totally falling for it again. Then Walker said, “Yeah, Rubios ordered some of that when I worked there, but it came after I left.” Poor Elder Oren. Hahaha! Boys like to play pranks.

Elder Oren also likes traditionally girl stuff like facial masks. He loves the mall and things like that. This week, he was looking for some more comfortable dress slacks with some stretch in them, and he took them into a Lululemon store! Walker’s like “why are we in here? Let’s just go buy you some golf pants they’re like $20.00. They are light and have stretch.” Elder Oren wasn’t having it and then took them into an Athleta store. It’s all women’s clothes. The girls working there looked at these young men quizzically and said, “Welcome gentleman can we help you?” They told them what they were looking for and they said, “No sorry, everything in here is for girls.” Hahahaha!!!

He’s adjusting to Missionary life really well. He said better than he expected. <3 So good to hear that! But he did request music. He gave me a short list of some he knows are allowed like, SmoothieThe FoxYou Don’t Have To Move That Mountain by Nickel Creek, Breakdown by Jack Johnnson. Everything by GoGo Penguin. We will be on the hunt this week!

I taught Walker another new word! Prado, it means meadow. 🙂 I’ve been doing my Duolingo app all week. However, I learned that one coming home from Macayo’s. It was on a street sign. LOL!

I’ll end with something he learned this week. He asked me to spell socks. So I spelled it S-O-C-K-S. He said that means “Now that’s” or “That really is”, in Spanish. Well that’s how you ‘say’ it. How it actually looks is, eso si que esHaha! I thought that was cute! 

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