February 10, 2014

Dear Family!

Wow what a crazy week! For sure the highlight of the week was having another MINI-MISSIONARY! another Samoan to boot! We had a really great time! This one was kinda special, cause the Stake President of his stake (Huntington park) actually set apart all the mini-missionaries and gave them each a missionary handbook. I thought it was super cool. I wonder why we never did anything like this back in Ohio?
Mini-Missionary
Mini-Missionary
Today was kinda crazy too! You know about Elder Miller’s knee problems, but it isn’t getting any better, and hard for him to walk. If you can’t walk, then you can’t really do missionary work, which is tough for both of us. This morning the mission nurse called us and told us we had an appointment in Downey with a doctor. So we had to move everything to get him there. turns out that we have to go back, for an MRI now.
Sadly, we weren’t able to meet with our investigator G this week. Another investigator V needs a little space too. She feels a lot of pressure to be baptized since her husband and son already are. We did have an investigator at our Book of Mormon class! It’s kinda a funny story. We dropped by to see Bro. T. He is in 70’s and is coming back to church after not coming since he was a teen. He has a lot to learn too so we go over and teach him. Well he afterwards wanted to take us out to dinner, so we piled in his car and drove to the “Red Onion” a nice Mexican restaurant. While we were there we got a call from a former investigator who is Persian. So we asked Bro. T to help us pick him up and then come to the Class. All worked out, but Bro. T is a little hesitant after that to drive us around anywhere. Little did he know how much we were going to need him! But we all had a good time.
Wow after reading your email, I can’t believe it! Please send me some pics of the snow…I’m starting to forget what it looks like. That is so cool with the boys! Glad to hear the news about Malachi! I guess I can tell you guys…it’s kinda funny they mentioned “the fluffiness” I’m up to about 210 now! I’ve gained nearly 25 lbs. on the mission. I’m not too worried. We are getting plenty of food here in Palos Verdes, but with Elder Miller out, not much exercising to do.
Thanks so much & love you guys!
Elder Valdez
PS: I forgot to tell you, but our zone is pioneering a family history class as a missionary tool. I might need some help with getting that stuff organized, so any info you got would be great ūüėČ It’s what you do right!
Lunada Bay
Lunada Bay
Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset
Beautiful sunset, too!
Beautiful sunset, too!

February 3, 2014

Dear Family,
We have had an exceptional week! We have a golden new investigator! Her name is G, and she is super interested! She really likes to talk, but we are going to set a baptismal date with her. V is so close! She read Alma 32, and just can’t stop thinking about it! She will be baptized really soon! Our planning has really improved, so we are working a lot more efficiently. Elder Miller hurt his knee last Monday getting out of the car. I hope he can get treatment soon. He walks with a cane… We also gave some service to the Millar’s. We helped plants some flowers. It is amazing to see the ways service opens opportunities to preach the gospel! In the picture Elder Miller was cold, so they gave him a blanket. Transfers are good. I’m staying in Lunada Bay as a DL. Looking forward to serving with Elder Miller! Thank you for all that you do!
My sidebag was bought at Office Depot, so that might be why you had trouble finding it. I love it though! Swiss Army, so it is really sturdy. That’s so cool, you got to get an email from Sis. West. She is really nice, and is a good cook! Can I throw away my old insurance card?
Love,
Elder Valdez
pictures of the week:
Elder Miller being cold
Elder Miller being cold
New Sidebag, Replacing Backpack
New Sidebag, Replacing Backpack

October 7, 2013

Hi, good to here you guys are doing well.

Wow, holy cow talk about a power weekend! General Conference is so amazing on the mission. I am proud to announce that I didn’t even come close to falling asleep. Each session only seemed to last about 10 min. I am grateful for all of the talks on missionary work. Hopeful that will help our ward work with us more. Also seemed a lot of talks focused on the family and protecting it from worldly dangers. Crazy to think we have 15 million members and 80,333 missionaries, and NOW IS THE TIME FOR MEMBERS AND MISSIONARIES TO WORK TOGATHER!

In the very beginning Ulisses Soares’ talk on meekness was very powerful. You must develop meekness, before any other Christlike attribute. Edward Dube had a motivational talk about looking forward, that I really liked. Elder Bednar threw down on tithing! Also pointed out some interesting aspects of tithing. I especially liked S. Gifford Neilson’s talk about missionary work, and work like to echo the three invitations he has extended to all! Those bronze shoes were pretty sweet! As always Elder Holland delivered¬†a powerful talk. Stephany’s story was very touching! Priesthood session was exceptional also! President L. Tom Perry and a nice talk about the 13 Articles of faith. President Uchtdorf’s priesthood session talk was bomb! About getting up after falling and become champions! Right after that was President Eyring’s talk that was just as good. Some interesting stories with his bishop. Then President Monson took it home with a great talk on Home teaching, not to mention some very cool experiences of Home Teaching. Glad I wasn’t President Hinckley’s HT and ended up instructing three apostles. Sunday morning Richard J. Maynes had a very good talk, and not just because he included basketball, but it did help. Dedication, perseverence, and self-discipline can get my testimony into shape! Amazing to think President Monson has been an Apostle for 50 yrs! He is truly a remarkable servant of the Lord. Sunday afternoon David M. McConkie gave a very helpful speech to me on how become a powerful teacher of the word. Last but not least Terence M. Vinson gave a powerful talk on adversity. I don’t know if it is because I’m on a mission, but General Conference seemed so much more inspiring and powerful than ever before! I loved it and it flew by so fast.

We have been working with a less active sister whose faith has grown so much since I first met her! She has now really dug into the Book of Mormon and is feasting on the words of Christ. She has also started to go to institute which is really helping her. The joy she now has, has given me joy also! She has even started talking to her family who are non members about the book of Mormon. At district meeting I got to give my second training. Always a little nervous instructing missionaries who are “older” than me in the mission. Not to mention I was training on how to teach simply. Funny teaching on how to teach. I think I did ok, I prepared way too much though, and was kinda scattered. I ended up evolving it into teaching with the spirit, not using a lot of words (1 Cor. 14:19), and not adding¬†our own interpretations (like our own analogues, I wanted to added a discourse on parable but didn’t have time).

Love you guys, and thank you so much!

Elder Valdez

 

October 1, 2013

Dear Family,

Wow where has all the time gone. It seems like yesterday I arrived at the MTC at 11:30 at night, but now it’s already October. The new transfer starts tomorrow! I get to stay in my area and I’m am privileged to still be with Elder Manning. There is a lot of change still happening in the mission. We don’t have enough elders to fill leadership positions that some are doing double duty. For example our District Leader has now become a Zone Leader at the same time. And many District Leaders are now trainers too. I heard from one of the Elders that President Weidman is now having an exciting first day planned for the new missionaries coming in. After they get off the plane they will be drivin roughly four miles away from the mission office, and given some pamphlets and cards, and a map. They will have to navigate to the mission office and get out everything along the way. I am so bummed out that I have missed this!

Zone Conference with Elder Richards was quite amazing! I have included a picture with him, taken after lunch. He talked about the great increase of missionaries and about the baptismal rate. We have gone from 140 missionaries to about 250! Sadly though we have yet to see an increase in baptisms. We had during the week 130 some baptismal dates but only 8 have been baptized. He talked about faith to act, be obedient, work hard and teach with plainness, simplicity and clarity. He helped me a lot by explaining 4 foundation truths of the Restoration that investigators have to understand in order to be baptized. (Jesus Christ and the Atonement, Joseph Smith and the First Vision, the Book of Mormon and Restored Priesthood Authority) and then to teach simply so that their understanding and conversion to these principles increases.  I feel I need to especially work on teaching simply and clearly. A lot of times I have so much information, that I kinda just throw it at them. I need to simplify things down. I have high hopes for this transfer. I will work as hard as I can!

2013-09-27 MV With Elder Richards

Our one investigator that we were able to have regular appointments dropped us. It was kinda sad and extremely frustrating. He had gone to the internet and looked up a bunch of stuff about Joseph Smith. I have a real dislike to the internet now. The thing that helped me overcome it was the fact if he wanted, he still could have received an answer, but it was his choice not to dig past lies. The funny thing is that most of his research was on Wikipedia, which is a joke, no academic research would be expected from there. There has been some light though! We have met with a young man He seems to be very humble and open. He plays football for a local college in Long Beach. We found in our potential list for Compton. We had a really good lesson about the restoration, and he said he would read 3 Ne. 11! We are going back on Wednesday. Please pray that we will be lead by the Spirit! We are staying busy and appreciate all of your help.

2013-09-30 Compton City Sign

Thank you so much for the package of garments. I have enough that I can shower after biking and change into fresh clothes for dinner. I appreciate and am sure members do. I work hard, but they don’t need to smell it. I don’t know what it was, but I only received a blank email from you lol; hope everything is ok. I was also wondering how much cash is in my bank? Thank you guys so much and I love you!

Elder Valdez

PS: I just found out a couple weeks ago that if you lower your bike gears, it makes going up hill infinitely easier. I was wondering why that it is? Maybe the engineer can give me a good answer? bye!

 

September 23, 2013

Dear Family,

We have been crazy busy! This Friday is Zone Conference with one of the seventy! Elder Kent L. Richards is coming! President Weidman is preparing the mission for his arrival. We have to shine our shoes (have to figure that out), cut our hair (doing that today), and wear our best (I always do that). Spiritually we have to be exactly obedient and come with a question or two.¬†Preparation for his arrival¬†is being compared to Joshua and Israel entering the promised land. Not only that, but General Conference is so close! I have never been so excited for General Conference. Out here on the mission it is like Christmas, but twice a year! I have made it a goal to read the entire conference issue before Conference weekend. This week meeting with an investigator was great! We have finally got him hooked to the Book of Mormon. He thought the Bible didn’t talk at all about the Book of Mormon. Little did he know. Left him lots of study material for our next lesson. We also got several new investigators this last week! We will be having our first lessons with them this week! Pray that they go well!

Do you remember all that great missionary material Brother Scheibmeir let me copy? Well I do believe that I left that at home. I am especially looking for the plan of salvation visual aids. Hopefully soon I will get to teach that lesson!

Last Saturday we were able to give service with the ward. We did the city of Gardena Clean up! Really fun, we got to mulch and rake pine needles. We were out cleaning with our name tags on and got lots of questions, really neat! They gave us a free t-shirt that says Gardena Clean up on it and they fed us a really nice lunch. Their tacos were the best!

Getting really nervous with transfers coming up. I never thought I would get attached to an area, but I would be really sad to leave.

The pictures are really cool! I got to go on splits with our District Leader over in Redondo Beach. Took a bunch of pictures at the Redondo Beach pier! The ocean looks so beautiful. Way bigger than lake Erie, it seems to never end!

2013-09-17 Palms & Seagull

2013-09-17 Redondo Pier

2013-09-17 View Toward Palos Verdes

2013-09-17 Pacific Sunset 4

2013-09-17 Moon Over Palms

2013-09-17 On the Esplanade

Also some interesting pics of a weird bug that I found.

2013-09-18 Big Beetle

2013-09-18 Beetle Underside

I spent some money the other day on bike repairs. My gear changer thing broke off and cost a little over $76 dollars to fix. I am really starting to love biking, but sadly I know little about bike maintenance. I think I might be getting ripped off. Will see ward member in the future. Bought a rugby ball and Frisbee today at sports authority for $45ish I think. I am also debating a purchase of an ipod nano? Would like your opinion. One elder has a voice recorder very similar to yours back home. Instead of email home he just sends a voice recording. I wouldn’t do that, but he has lots of talks from general authorities on there. Elder Holland is especially inspiring!

Thanks for all of your love and help,

Elder Valdez

PS got a really neat letter from Aunt Sherry and Ximinie

 

September 16, 2013

Hello from Cali,

The weather has been great as usual. Staying really busy. Don’t know if you noticed, but I got my good bike fixed. I think the cost was around $60. Totally worth it though. The seat on this bike is big and comfy, like a LazyBoy. I could ride all day now and not be sore.

Thanks for all the encouragement. I was mostly swallowing in self pity. I just had to stop thinking about that. Though your “essay’s” were really helpful. I know as long as I’m obedient the Lord will take care of the rest.

This week was really exciting because we had a baptism in the Ward. A sister was baptized by Elder Fertig. She wasn’t in our area, but it was still really great to see her happiness. During the changing of the clothes Elder Manning and I did the missionary moment. We taught the Restoration, which was good because there were a lot of nonmembers there! I was a little nervous, but everything went really well! The Samoan man is Bro. Taufa who is a ward missionary and helped a lot.

2013-09-15 Samoan Member

We are still teaching and he has been asking a lot of good questions. We invited him to be baptized and he said he’d have to think about it. So he isn’t totally averse to it, which is good!

We have also been playing rugby at the church in the mornings! There is a nice grassy area behind our church that we play in. It is really fun and we have about 8-10 elders playing each morning! We get pretty muddy though, not because we tackle though, we only play 2 hand tap.

It is crazy to think we are already half way done with September!

Thanks for all your love,

Elder Valdez

September 9, 2013

Well another week has gone by.

Last P-day was Labor Day and a ward member invited us to his cook out. It was really good Samoan food.

Labor Day feed at a member's house
Labor Day feed at a member’s house

I also got a picture with his dog. It looked pretty sweet with shades on. I think I might get a pit bull later in life.

Pit Bull doggy friend
Pit Bull doggy friend

Saw a cool Captain America tire cover on the free way. Go ‘Merica!

Captain America SUV
Captain America SUV

On Tuesday I had training with everybody that came in the same transfer as me. Which means I got a picture of all the elders from my MTC district that are left.

Elders from MTC time
Elders from MTC time

Our ward had a talent show on Friday. We actually had a less-active family come and they brought a nonmember friend! It was pretty fun and the funniest part was when the bishopric did a rap dance routine!

Ward Talent Show - Bishopric Rap Dance
Ward Talent Show – Bishopric Rap Dance

On Saturday we were biking and came across a motorcycle/stunt bike show in the middle of the street. Took it as an opportunity to get lots of cool pictures, and talk to people. I handed out 10 Book of Mormon pass-along cards in 20 minutes. I think I might be interested in buying a bike.

Motorcycle Man
Motorcycle Man
Street motorcycle/stunt bike show
Street motorcycle/stunt bike show
Motorcycle/Stunt Bike street show
Motorcycle/Stunt Bike street show
Motorcycle/Stunt Bike street show
Motorcycle/Stunt Bike street show

The last pictures is of the California sky at twilight. Look familiar?

Night moon shot, and Venus?
Night moon shot, and Venus?

We were teaching a lady, but she had her baby and now she won’t let us come back for another two weeks. On Saturday we met this man Had a really interesting, great first lesson. He knew a lot about the church from the internet, which is either false or severely slanted. He was very open though. We invited him to church and he said that he would pray about it. Well he didn’t come to church. Kinda disappointed. We are going back on Tuesday to talk some more. The work is very slow in our area. We don’t have any progressing investigators. There is supposed to be people just waiting to hear the gospel, but I haven’t found them and don’t know how to. The other elders in our ward had a lady show up to stake conference and ask them to baptize her! She will be getting baptized this Sunday. I know that, that is remarkable, but I want to find people who are prepared. There are really great missionaries, zone leaders who have been out 18 months and have only one baptism. I could easily see myself going a year without anybody. The field is supposed to be white, where are they?

I went to Target today to buy personal items. The Target was really cool, it had escalators and a parking garage. Bought: Spanish-English dictionary, gel pen refills, trunky journal, protein powder ($20), and more socks.

Love you guys,

Elder Valdez

 

September 2, 2013

Sorry, I forgot to explain the pictures from last week. There is never enough time to email. The first one is of Elder Manning and me. In the picture I’m wearing the posterity tie Elder Campbell gave me.

Elders Valdez and Manning
Elders Valdez and Manning

The next three pictures all go together in a really funny, cool story.

Before I begin I want to same some things first. WE DID NOT HAVE THE INTENT OF BREAKING MISSIONS RULES NOR DO WE PROMOTE SUCH ACTIVITY. OK now we can begin. We were called the night before by our District Leader to see if we could do some service tomorrow. We said we could and coordinated with the other elders in our ward to go. Elder Fertig’s new companion is Elder Rogers from Texas. He came out the same time as Elder Manning (12 weeks). He’s the one wearing a hat. The two other elders are Mickey and Mosile, new Samoan elders serving in the Nu’umau Ward. Elder Mickey came out the same time as Elder Fertig and Campbell (6 months). He was English but president changed him to Samoan. Elder Mosile is fresh off the plane from the island of Samoa. So Elder Mickey is showing Elder Mosile how to be a missionary and Elder Mickey is learning how to speak Samoan. They also came to do service. The service was for a lady in one of the sister’s area and she wanted Elders for heavy lifting. All we were given was an address that turned out to be wrong. The next day we drove around the neighborhood looking for a moving van cause we called the lady and found out we were helping her move. We got there and she wanted to fit a bunch of stuff in a small moving truck. Amazingly we were able to do it. She is the older Brazilian lady in the picture. Luckily we didn’t have to move everything cause somebody was still living there. She was moving to a friends house. She asked us to help her unload also. We weren’t sure because we had stake conference later that night. She said it was only 7 miles away in some city called San Pedro. We said we would. 40 minutes later and after driving through Palos Verdes (super rich homes) we finally stopped. We realized that we were in the Long Beach mission. We helped her unload and saw the inside of a multimillion dollar home. So the green couches are designer couches and in no way ever will be inside our apartment. The other younger lady I assume is her daughter and the daughter’s husband took the picture. It was really cool. The view was awesome and the best part was that I saw the ocean for the first time since being in California. We hurried back to our mission and didn’t get struck by lightning at all!

Moving service
Moving service
green couches
green couches
moving truck, view to ocean
moving truck, view to ocean

 

A cool T-Rex we saw
A cool T-Rex we saw

I have been praying for investigators since our area has been slow. This last week we have 6 new investigators. Hopefully they can become progressing and come to church. The biggest problem is that people are comfortable where they are at and don’t want to change. We have been visiting less actives and some of them are coming to church now!

The other day someone parked in front of our garage, so we couldn’t get out. We decided to be nice and bike. We biked about 12 miles and I thought I was about to die. It was really hot. In the 90’s, and September and October are the hottest time of the year. We might get in the 100’s soon. Good luck in your family history class, mom! Take care Dad!

My new favorite scripture is D&C 121:45 I love the promise in the end. Charity has allowed me to become such a better missionary.

Love,
Elder Valdez

 

August 28, 2013 (Mom to Mark)

Sure, Elder Valdez!

You know, it’s kind of funny ‚Äď that recipe was up until just a couple of weeks ago.¬† It had fallen down several times and I finally just threw it out, so here’s a¬† redo!¬† ūüôā¬† This recipe should make plenty for both of you Elders, and probably even some for another morning – just be sure to cover them with Saran wrap and put them in the fridge!

OATMEAL PANCAKES

  • 1-1/2¬†¬†¬† cups¬†¬†¬† oatmeal ‚Äď not the quick cooking kind
  • 2¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† Cups¬†¬†¬† flour, all-purpose
  • 2¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† Tbsp¬†¬†¬† baking powder
  • a pinch¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬† salt
  • 2¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† Tbsp¬†¬†¬† sugar
  • 2 ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† eggs
  • ~4¬†¬†¬† ¬†¬†¬† cups¬†¬†¬† milk
  • 1/3¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† cup¬†¬†¬† vegetable oil

To start out, put the oatmeal in a rather large bowl and add some of the milk, to start the oatmeal softening.¬† Then add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar.¬† Next add the eggs, and the vegetable oil.¬† Add the remaining milk a little at a time, but be looking for the consistency that you know you want for pancake batter (kind of thick, but still drops off a wooden spoon readily).¬† It may need a little more milk or, if it’s too thin, add a little more flour.¬† If you¬† need to add very much liquid, makes some of it a little more vegetable oil.

if you let the batter just sit for a minute, droplets of oil should make their way to the top.¬† When you start to cook them, you may want to take a little bit of vegetable oil and put it on the skillet.¬† After the first batch on the griddle, there should be enough oil in the batter to keep them doing fine.¬† I don’t know if you do have a griddle, but we can hope!¬† ūüėȬ† Don’t flip the pancakes until you see that bubbles have risen and popped on top.¬† Then they should be ready for the second side.

You can always add fruit to these: Grandpa Steelman loved to add banana slices and nuts, once the pancakes were on the griddle.  I was more excited to do blueberries.  In either case, the easiest way to add the fruit is once the pancakes have been poured onto the griddle, rather than trying to mix it into the batter.

Happy pancake-ing!¬† ūüôā

Mom and Dad

Comments Off on August 28, 2013 (Mom to Mark)

Categories Uncategorized

August 28, 2013 Wednesday

Hello Family!

Well you probably noticed that today is Wednesday. Today was our temple P-day! It was truly amazing! I love going to the temple because it is a beautiful reminder of the covenants we have made with the Lord. And as I learn more about the gospel it is the perfect place to ask questions. We had to get up at 5:30 for the 8am session. I don’t mean to diss on the Columbus Temple but the Los Angeles Temple is truly majestic. I sent a picture after the session of the South Bay Zone which is everybody that was there except our Zone Leaders who took the pictures. If you haven’t been to the temple to see the new revisions I definitely recommend it.

Los Angeles Temple Day
Los Angeles Temple Day

So much has happened since last Tuesday. I have my new companion Elder Manning from Smithville Utah. This is his third transfer, which means he just finished his 12 week training. Technically he is finishing my training, but I’m not going to count him as my “dad” in the mission. Also considering I was in a trio for two and a half weeks. My situation is also somewhat interesting. Elder Manning is considered the senior companion, and me the Junior. He came to my area though so he is at a slight disadvantage. I thought it was interesting that the Lord would put two “greenies” together like this. I am grateful for all of my teachers, leaders, and parents that have prepared me.¬†

Elders Valdez and Manning
Elders Valdez and Manning

We also had stake conference. It was really amazing. The main message that I got was on the temple, families, and missionary work. President and Sister Weidman spoke, which was really cool. Since we are returning to my area after a couple weeks we were struggling to find people to teach. We have recently received a lot of messages on bring back less actives. The ward we are in is split in two areas. Most of the members are in the other area. The ones that are in ours are mostly less active. So instead of tracting which I kind of enjoy we have decided to focus on less actives. As we have done that we also have found investigators. One of them is a Jehovah Witness and it is interesting teaching him. He is very knowledgeable about the Bible but we trying to get him to read the Book of Mormon. Also he wouldn’t let us pray with him. Interesting religion.

Good to hear you guys are staying busy ūüėČ I’m sure this food drive is a worthy cause, but don’t stress too much. That’s really cool Brother Stockoff is Young Men’s president. I’m sure that he will do a good job preparing everybody back home on for a mission! I’m jealous that you guys now have a pretty nice car lol. I don’t know if you guys could tell but I activated my USAA debit card and talked about the car insurance thing. I’m still on your policy but as a nondriver. I agree that I should leave the yellow watch at home. It was just a pride thing. I will probably buy a Spanish dictionary out here and our apartments have very large dictionaries from the 70’s, so I should be fine. The rear tire on my bike broke, so I’ll probably pay around $50 dollars to get it fixed.

I have concern for less-actives I have seen The world is gathering into light and dark; we need them to receive all the light they can.

Love you guys and thank you for all your help,

Elder Valdez

 

ps can you email me the oatmeal pancake recipe, please?

thanks

 

Comments Off on August 28, 2013 Wednesday

Categories Uncategorized