Monday, September 21, 2015

I Know That This Is The Work of The Lord

Elder McBride & Elder Paddock at the Winter Quarters Temple
This week has been absolutely amazing.  We started off the week with an exchange in Crete where I got to see a couple of people, like Dylan, Barbara, Eric, Vidal and a few others who we taught while I was there who I love so much.  It was so great to see them and teach them and talk with them!  They're definitely people and they made me promise to keep in touch.  
Pres Gardner and the missionaries at the Winter Quarters Temple on September 18

The next day was when things were put into perspective.  I got my "Super Trunks" or Flight Plans and a Letter from President telling me how he expects me to work hard and finish strong and he gave me a few of the questions he'll ask me in my departing interview next Tuesday before I head home.   It really just made me realize just how close the 30th is.... I'm so glad that the last Friday we had the blessing of going to the Temple.  Sitting in that Holy building and listening to the Spirit both helped me to realize that the mission is not the end.  That's there's a LOT of things that the Lord expects of me after the mission and that the work will continue to move forward.  I know the Lord has a plan for me after and I'm excited to be a part of it and help this work from a different point of view.

Due to the craziness of next week, I doubt that I'll have the chance to email.  I just want to finish off with a few of the things I've learned during these past 2 years and my testimony.

I know that God lives.  I know that He is our Heavenly Father and that He loves us so much more than we can understand.  I know that because our Heavenly Father lives and loves us so much that he's given us the tools we need in this life to be able to live full and happy lives and be able to return to live with him.  These tools are called the Gospel of Jesus Christ,or the teachings of Jesus Christ.  This teachings not only help us individually but as families.  I know that the home is the best place to teach the Gospel.  I know that families are ordained of God. I know that God wants us and our families to be happy and because of that, all throughout time he's given us Prophets- great men like Noah, Moses, Abraham and many others who were called of God, held His Authority (The Priesthood) and taught His will.  Time after time, these great Prophets were rejected and for a small time, God took away the Prophet from the Earth because the people weren't ready.  I also know that God always loves His children and when the time was right he called another prophet.  I know that because God so loved the world, He sent His only Begotten Son, Jesus Christ, who came to the Earth to establish His Gospel, give us an example, and show us the way.  I know that Jesus Christ atoned for all of our sins and that He knows us personally and individually.  I know that because God loves us so much, He restored that exact same church and gospel and Priesthood Authority through the Prophet Joseph Smith.  I know that Joseph Smith was called of God.  I know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the true and living Church of Jesus Christ.   I know that the convincing evidence of this is in the Book of Mormon.  I know that it was translated by the Prophet Joseph Smith through the gift and power of God and that if this book is true,  Joseph Smith was a Prophet and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is the Lord's true church established upon the Earth in preparation for the Second Coming. (See Introduction to the Book of Mormon).  I know that by reading and praying and asking our Heavenly Father in the name of Jesus Christ if the Book is true, we can receive an answer through the power of the Holy Ghost.  
I know that this work is true.  I know that my mission has been the greatest experience of my life and I will always look back on these two years with love and appreciation to my Father in Heaven for allowing me to be a part of this great work.  I know that this is the work of the Lord.   For any one who is pondering the idea of serving a mission,  I give my whole-hearted encouragement.   You'll never regret it.  The blessings, miracles, and growth that I've seen not only in my own life but in the lives of others has made every single day amazing.
To those of you who aren't members of the church, I invite you to learn more.  To read in the Book of Mormon and to pray about it and I know that God will answer your prayers. 
I love you all.  Thank you for your support and love. 
I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I'll see you next week!

Lots of Love,
Elder Zachary Ashden Paddock
One last Nebraska sunset.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Full Speed Ahead

This week was so good!  It was so fast too!  It all started off with some crazy miracles on exchanges and then finished with some great miracles as well.  
Exchanges with Elder Draper were so good.  I feel like the Lord's definitely blessed me on my mission to be able to take part in so many exchanges just with being the District Leader/Zone Leader or having a companion that was the DL.  You learn so much just from those 24 hours of working with someone else and there's always some crazy miracles that happen.
The first one from that day is a guy named Cesar.  As we were walking down the street a couple weeks ago, Cesar yelled out to us and told us to come talk to him.  He's from Bolivia and has lived here for a couple years.  While in Bolivia, he met some of the members of the church who introduced him to the Gospel and later to the missionaries.  He knows everything we talk about and he's super willing to keep commitments and come closer to Christ.  On exchanges, Elder Draper and I went over and taught him about the Book of Mormon and showed him how its another testimony of Jesus Christ.  He loved it.  We then invited him to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized by someone holding the correct Priesthood Authority of God.  After thinking about it and having a few questions he said yes!  Ahhhh it was so great!  Right after we left that appointment I felt like we should go contact a referral some other elders gave us.  We went over, the husband let us right in.  We sat down on the couch and talked to him and his wife and introduced ourselves.  They said that they had actually talked to missionaries only about 2 years ago and they had the Book of Mormon sitting on an end table right by their couch!  We taught them the Restoration and invited them to also be baptized... and they also said Yes!   It was so great!   This area's moving so fast and we're finding great people everywhere!
The time, like I said last week is flying. This week I had my very last Zone Training.  I remember sitting in my very first Zone Training listening to Elder Rasmussen give his final testimony.  He talked about how fast the time goes and about how much he loved this work and I remember thinking, "That's forever away," and I couldn't even picture myself being in his place.  But there I was, standing in front those 15 other Elders, saying probably the exact same things that he said 21ish months ago.  I love this work.  The time goes way too fast.  
But guess what!  This week, both Chelem and Alex went to the temple and did baptisms for the dead with the ward!  Holy cow I was so happy that day!  Just thinking about them both standing in the temple and feeling the Spirit there made me smile.
I hope you all had a great week as well!  I love you!  
Lots of love,
Elder Zack Paddock
Scripture of the Week:  Luke 9:23-24

These were the list of scriptures we had to memorize and pass off during the month of August. 
Study them and try to memorize them :)

1. D&C 8:2-3
2. D&C 1:29-30
3. Moroni 10:3-5
4. JSH 1:17
5. 2 Thess 2:1-3
6. James 1:5
7. Abraham 3:25
8. Moroni 10:32
9. John 3:16-17
10. Matt 22:36-40
11. 2 Nephi 9:6
12. 1 Nephi 15:24

Don't worry about me.  I'm super focused on the work.  I think me coming home is making my companion more trunky than its making me.   If anything I'm working harder and studying  better and moving quicker because of it.  There's no time to waste.  That's the message I'm trying to convey to my district right now.  They're all so young and have so much time to work hard.  I hope they get it. 
Anyways I hope you have a great week!  I love you!
Elder Paddock

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Time's Flyin'

True Nebraskan Corn

This week was such a fast week.  Just recently the Zone Leader's let us know that my district had been changed and that it was going to include the Columbus Spanish Elders (Elder Sharp and Elder Peters) and that we were going to be able to have our District Meetings in Spanish!  I was so excited!  So this week,  the day before District Meeting, we headed up to Columbus to do exchanges with them.  Elder McBride was so excited since he served in the Columbus branch before he came to Lincoln.  I'm so happy to be working with all these Spanish Elders.  They're all such hard workers and are so excited about the work.  I was super impressed with Elder Sharp as well and his determination to be obedient, even when missionaries in that area have a set a standard of disobedience in the past.  He's really trying to turn that around and I know that he and Elder Peters will do a great job at that.
District Meeting in Spanish was a lot of fun!  I love so much more.  I haven't been able to do that since my 3rd transfer when Elder Juan was our District Leader.  I've missed it.  All the other Elders liked it as well.  It makes us stretch and learn.  
Our area this week just got a little more crazy.  Due to some events, the English elders in the Pioneer ward (the ward we're in) got Emergency Transfered out of Lincoln.  President Gardner called us and informed us that for the rest of the transfer, not only were we going to be covering all of the city of Lincoln for the Spanish side of things (which is our normal area), but we'd also be covering the English Elder's area, including cleaning up some things.  No pressure or anything, right?  President expressed confidence in us that we'd be able to handle it and that it'd all work out.  We'll see how it goes I guess!  We were really busy with just 1 area but now with 2 we'll be working like crazy for the next few weeks!  
Everything here is going great!  Right now I'm on exchanges with Elder Draper who replaced me in Crete.  Last night, they had a few set appointments down there so we drove down to see them.  It was so great to be back in that tiny little town.  I've missed it there.  We'll get to spend the entire day there next Tuesday when we do another exchange but this time in their area.  It's going to be so good!  
I love you all and I hope you have a great day!  
Lots of Love,
Elder Paddock

Game Day (Nebraska vs BYU)

Breakfast with the BYU fans was good.  They're all from Elder McBride's home ward.  (The couple across from the missionaries were Elder McBride's Mission Prep Teachers).  Our Mission President also gave us permission to watch the game at a member's home if we passed off memorizing 12 scriptures.  I'll send them to you to memorize as well.  Elder McBride and I had them passed off pretty quickly.  Such a great game.

 I cheered for BYU but I didn't have the shirt... 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Life's Great!

Lincoln is Great.  Elder McBride is great.  2 Baptisms are great.  Life's just Great!  Let me explain.
I have never had a week like this week.  Not only did we have 2 amazing baptisms and confirmations with Alex and Ximena, 2 kids that Lincoln has been teaching for a while that were SO excited about their baptisms, but we also managed to teach 22 other lessons throughout the week.   I've never had that many in a single week during my whole mission!  We've been so busy and the people we've been teaching are so great!  I love this place!

Elder McBride is sweet!  He's so much fun to be around.  I haven't had a single moment when I'm angry at this kid because he's too darn funny and fun to be around.  He's a super hard worker too which is definitely why this area is doing as well as it is.  

The Baptisms we had this week were awesome!  These two kids were so ready!  The coolest part though is the guy who baptized them.  His name is Chelem.  He's a recently re-activated member who's made some HUGE changes to his life recently and has an amazingly strong testimony.  He's been working so hard to get the priesthood and last Sunday he was ordained a Priest and baptized the kids on Saturday!  I love this guy.  The work here is going great!  I'm so happy to be here!  I know this work is true.  I know the Lord blesses us when we give this work everything we've got.  
I hope you're all doing well!  I love you!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Bouncing Back

This week's events took me completely by surprise!  After 4 great days of working with Elder Ferry in our area, transfer call morning gave us a whopping surprise.  President called me and said, "Elder, I'm thankful for the work you've done as a Zone Leader, but for your last 6 weeks we need you in Lincoln."  In other words, I'm back in the Lincoln area, serving in the same ward I served in while I was in Crete!  I've been assigned as a District Leader again and guess who's in my District?!  Crete!  I'm so excited to go down there for exchanges in a couple weeks!  
My new companion is Elder McBride.  He's from American Fork, UT, has been out almost 8 months, and is so full of energy.  He's a lot of fun to be around.  He's been here for 2 transfers so he knows the area pretty well.  When President called me, he told me that Elder McBride had been struggling with some stuff and that for my last 6 weeks I was assigned to help him out and teach him how to work hard.  I'm thankful for the trust from my mission President and for the opportunity to give it my all.  
This area is great.  The members are great.  I really like Lincoln already.  
Leaving Sioux City the second time wasn't any fun though.  All the members/missionaries (including myself) were expecting that I was going to finish out there, so the fact that I was leaving so soon was weird for them.  It made it a little easier though when I told them I'd just call them in a few weeks :)  
I'm thankful for this work.  I know its true.  I've learned in the past few days the power that comes from being a true friend and helping others know you love them.  I know that that is exactly what our Savior Jesus Christ would do.  
I hope you have a great week!  I love you!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack Paddock

Oh!  I forgot to mention!  I'm walking right into 2 baptisms this week here in Lincoln!  Elder McBride and Elder Smyth (The guy who took my spot in Sioux) have been working with this family and two of the kids are getting baptized this week!  That's so exciting!
Leaving Sioux City Pics:


The Adams Family

Jose & Emma Aguilar

The Flores Family

The Brisenos

The Alvarado Family
(Monica is usually the one who sends you pictures randomly)

The Limas

The Flores Family #2

Presidente Lagunas


The Ramirez Family

Angel Hernandez

The Florys

 Heading to Lincoln:

A couple 3 St. Georgians
 (Elder Hughes went to DH,myself, Sister Allen, and
Elder Nixon all went to PV ('13, '09, '12 respectively)

Driving down to Lincoln with Elder Peters (He went to Columbus)

Elder McBride and I

Monday, August 17, 2015

The Swan Song

Iowa at its finest.

What a crazy week its been!  With Spanish Conference, Zone Training, my Birthday, great lessons, and "killing off" Elder Swan, we've been so busy! 
Spanish Conference was amazing!  It was so crazy to think that it was my last one.  It was especially crazy when I was asked to give my "final testimony".  It was so great to see all the Elders and Hermanas.  It truly is a pleasure to be counted among them in our small family of Spanish Missionaries.  I've learned tons serving by their sides.
Elder Kummerman & Elder Paddock

The Dying Spanish Missionaries

Our Group

Spanish Conference

Zone Training

a great picture Elder Garff's mom posted on FB

I feel super blessed to have the missionaries that we have in our zone.  Coincidentally, Zone Training and my birthday landed on the same day.  The zone sang me happy birthday and even brought a pinata and afterwards all the Elders went out to Red Robin to eat, followed by tracting in an area where every single person we talked to said, "This place is dangerous.  Be Careful. You probably shouldn't be here."  It was great!  We ended up finding a SUPER solid person in that area!   It was a great day!  
Before Birthday Cake Face Smash

After Birthday Cake Face Smash

A great birthday tie (which I'm wearing right now) and
4lbs of Jelly Beans (which are almost gone already)

We also had an amazing lesson with Jose this week!  We met him at the church, did a church tour, in which the Spirit was present so strongly the entire time!  I truly felt guided as we talked to him about the importance of church and baptism.  At the end of the visit, we showed him the baptismal font.  I remember looking at him and he had a very thoughtful look on his face.  I remember saying to him, "You know you want to be baptized.  You've told me so. When are we going to do it?"  We talked about a plan to get to that day and set the goal for the 19th of September.  After which we all knelt down and he offered a prayer asking the Lord if that's what he should do.  He said he felt good about it so we're proceeding forward towards that goal!  

Elder Swan and I

the Trio this cold, and rainy morning

"Killing off" Elder Swan was probably one of the hardest things I've done on the mission.  Being an Elder's last companion isn't easy, especially since they're usually really excited about going home and starting new things that it's hard to keep them focused and in turn it distracts their companion.  Elder Swan did great though, working hard all the way to the end.  We dropped him off this morning to the AP's who will take him to Omaha until he flies out to San Diego on Wednesday.  The past 18 weeks with him have been so great!  He became one of my best friends and my favorite companion.  Every day was fun!  The Zone loves him and they were sad to see him go as well.  Luckily though he's going to BYU so I'll see him soon enough.     

I hope you all had a great week!   Thank you for all the birthday wishes.  You're the best! 
Lots of Love,
Elder Paddock

Sis Flory and her family feed us every Saturday Morning. 
Bro Flory is the Branch Mission Leader so we have our
coordination meeting with him and they feed us pancakes.
 I'm ok with it :) 
Sis Flory posted these pics on her FB

Angel posted this on his FB with the caption
"The amazing missionaries that help
us get closer to our savior"

Angel also posted this on FB "Meeting with the hermanos"

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Such a Fun, Crazy Week


Sunset over the Missouri

Ever since Monday after emails, the week's been jam-packed with miracles and fun.  Its been an incredibly joyful week.  
We've been so busy with a ton of meetings and Exchanges this week that it took a ton of time out of our area.  After a great exchange with the Norfolk English Elders (one of which, Elder Jones, is from Hurricane and his dad taught ceramics at PV for a while), we headed back to Sioux City to get everything ready for Interviews with President Gardner the next day.  
My Interview with President was really good.  We talked about the fact that you only serve a mission once.  I asked him what I could do in these past few months to finish stronger than ever and the only advice he gave me was "put everything off that you can until you get home and work, work, work."  I plan to do just that!    He also asked me how I'd changed over the past 22 months.  That's a huge question.  I listed off a couple of the things that I've noticed are different and he pointed out to me that all of those changes are the Lord preparing me for the future.  He said, "Elder,  the most important people you'll ever teach are not the ones you're teaching right now.  They're your wife and children.  The Lord's preparing you and changing you so that you'll be an incredibly prepared husband and father to help bring them back to the presence of God."  
Weekly Planning

Preparation for this week's Spanish Conference

That awkward moment when the guy you have an 
appointment with is asleep in his hammock
 when you show up...

On top of a great interview and a great exchange, we also had a great Missionary Leadership Council where a lot of the rules were discussed and we also received some great training on how to be short and simple in our lessons.  The AP's gave a really good training on how we can use the pamphlet to teach the entire Restoration Message in under 8 minutes, and then invited us to try it out over these next few weeks before Zone Conference. 
We've seen tons of success with it already.  When we go tracting now, we use the pamphlet to teach powerfully and simply this great message of God's love and invite them to learn more.  Its incredible how when people tell you they're "busy" and then you tell them the visit will only take about 10 minutes, all of a sudden they seem to have time and they're more willing to talk to you, especially Hispanics!  We ended up finding 5 new investigators using this tactic this week! 
Branch Party

On top of all those great things, we also had a great Branch Party, part of which was a contest of Horchata with the two judges Don Juan Carlos and Senor Cisne (Me and Elder Swan).  That on top of a huge game of Futbol and some really good food and a ton of Less-Actives and investigators showing up and getting fellowshipped makes for one great night!  

I hope you also had a good week!  I love you!
Elder Paddock

Last Night's crazy storm