Monday, July 28, 2014

The Two Most Prepared Kids I've Met

Lots of things have happened this week.  Lots of crazy things that are so great that I really don't know how to describe them.  I've been just amazed at how much the Lord has really helped us out throughout the past 7 days.   This really is His work.  There's not a doubt in my mind about that.   

When I was re-reading the past 7 days of Journal entries, trying to figure out what it was that I was going to write to you about, I noticed that almost every single day involved Jenny and Fernando.  We have probably seen them every other day this week, teaching them and helping them as they prepare for THEIR BAPTISM THIS SATURDAY!  I've absolutely loved teaching these kids the Gospel.  They don't argue it.  They don't deny its truthfulness.  They're so receptive to the Spirit that we teach them, they commit to read and pray, they do it, and they know for sure that its true.  These kids have blown my mind and made me so happy.  
The two most exciting numbers we've ever put for our weekly goals

Words really can't explain how excited I am for their baptism on Saturday.  It'll be my very first one since I came out and I couldn't ask for two better people to be getting baptized.  It'll be a great way to finish out my time here in Sioux City since transfers are on the 8th and there is a VERY high chance that I'm leaving the area since I've been here 9 months already (Thats a REALLY long time for a missionary to be in an area).   I know that as we go out and work hard, the Lord blesses our work and places people in our path that are just prepared to accept the Gospel and dive in head first.  I know that I have done nothing really to help bring this to pass except trust in the Lord and invite others to come unto Him.  This is His work, not mine.  I know that and I'm 100% sure about that.  Thank you for all your prayers and love.  Sorry I don't have a lot to talk about this week but this week coming up will be an amazing one for sure.  I love you so much!   
Elder Zack Paddock

From his email to Mom:
Family really is everything.   I'm happy that I grew up in a home that believed that.  I love you crazies more than you know.  Christmas is coming though so don't worry :)  I thought about not sending any pictures of me until then just so you'd see how super manly I looked at Christmas... but then I realized you wouldn't be to happy about that....  I didn't take any pictures this week except the numbers one I sent in the big email so I'll send you a picture of the day I woke up with a headache and a craving for Mountain Dew with Blue Raspberry flavoring.  Took the picture at 9ish and already was working on 52 oz of dew.  I love you!  

Monday, July 21, 2014


The cool thing that lots of humidity will do to an Iowan sunset.
As if out of no where the work here is booming!  Things are coming out of the woodwork and I am continually reminded that this is really the Lord's work.  Since I got here almost 9 months ago, we've been lucky if we can teach maybe 12 lessons a week, but this week we had already taught 12 lessons by Thursday!  We had already completed all of our goals by Wednesday!  Our numbers went from having 1 or 2 people set for baptism to having 5 and with two of them set for the 2nd of August (AKA 13 days!)  This is the Lord's work and I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of it.  
I'm 100% convinced that the success we are having all of a sudden is because of the fun that we are having while we do it.  I've never been happier.  We go out of our houses every day and serve people and laugh the whole time while we do it.  We walk down streets beat boxing and making jokes and just talk to people and have a good time.  The way I see it, there shouldn't be "work time" and a separate "fun time" on a mission.  The work should be fun, and that's exactly what's happening here in Sioux City.  This work here is only going to continue to grow and this week we've increased all of our goals and we're trusting in the Lord that he will help us fulfill them.  

I don't have a lot but I want to share a story.
This week, while on exchanges with the ZL's, Elder Pulver and I were reminded about how important it is to follow the Spirit.  We were working in our area while Elder Shipley and Elder Jensen were in the ZL's area and we had decided, since none of our investigators in a certain area of town were home, that we were going to go Tracting and find some new investigators that were prepared for us.  We came to an intersection and Elder Pulver said, "Right or Left?"  and I said, "I like the way those houses look over there." to which he replied, "I was thinking the same thing." 
So we began to knock them.
Door #1- A nice Guatemalan lady, kind of interested, told us to come back later
Door #2- A nice Mexican man, sort of kind of interested, told us to come back.
And then we came to Door #3.
I knock the screen door and a lady at the kitchen table sees me and says, "hello," in a really spanish accent.  I said, "Hola" which drew her attention closer to the door when us and screamed, "MI AMIGO!"  
I thought she was talking to me and I was extremely confused since I'd never met this woman before in my life.  
Apparently she's the Zone Leader's most golden investigator who was just visiting her friend who lived in our area! 
She came to the door and said, "You'll never believe this but I was just barely telling my friend about you guys and the message you share and not 5 minutes later you knock on the door!"  To say that our minds were blown would be an understatement.    They let us in and we had an AMAZING Restoration lesson with them in which they both committed themselves to read the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true.  
We really are just instruments in the Lord's hands.  I'm thankful that we were guided by the Spirit to be able to find people that the Lord is preparing.  I'm just grateful for the opportunity that I have to be a part of this work.

I love you!  Have a great week!

Elder Paddock
Elder Shipley trying to stay awake during the Restoration Video at our
Branch President's house after a couple games of soccer.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Awesome Lessons with Awesome People

Hi there!
This week was AMAZING!  We made contact with every single one of our investigators and potential investigators and our numbers of people taught this week were the highest that Elder Shipley and I have had in the 4 months we've been together. This week taught me a lot about how important it is to follow your plans and follow the Spirit as a missionary. We had two AWESOME lessons that I want to tell you about.

#1 Leopolo
While Elder Blanck and I were on exchanges, we decided to go see Leo.  We show up to Leo's house and they're having a big ol' get-together out on their front yard.  Normally, I don't like to be the weird guy that shows up to a giant party BUT this time the Spirit just told me strongly that we should go up to them.  So we walk up and I start talking to Leo and a few of his friends (Elder Blanck doesn't speak Spanish so he smiled and nodded his head).  Before I knew it, one of Leo's friends named Oracio started asking me questions about our church, about what we believe, what is the Book of Mormon, and other cool questions like that.  As him and I were talking, I began to notice that every single person in that party had stopped doing what they were doing and begun to listen at least for a few minutes to what we were talking about.  One of them, named Jose, stood up from his SUPER comfy looking chair all the way across the yard and began to listen intently.  I began to teach them about the Book of Mormon, about how its a record of God's actions through prophets in the ancient american continent. All I really did was bear my testimony about how its another testament that Jesus Christ lives and that He loves us.  For some dad-gum reason, I had walked up to that party of Hispanics with an English Book of Mormon in hand.  So I extended the invitation to whoever wanted to learn more could come down with me and Elder Blanck to the car to receive a Book of Mormon.  Oracio, Leopolo, and Jose all followed me down.  They all 3 promised to read from the Book of Mormon and that they would be there the next week to learn more.  
That was without a doubt one of the moments in my mission where I've felt the Spirit the strongest.  When Elder Blanck and I got back in the car, I couldn't even talk because there were no words to explain how I felt.  I know this Gospel is true and that we were guided to that house by the Spirit because those people were prepared.  I'm very excited for the appointment we have with all 3 of them tomorrow.

#2 Fernando and Jenni
We ended up visiting them 3 times this week but what I really want to talk about is the amazing lesson with had with them yesterday.  We made plans with Presidente Lagunas to come to his house and have a lesson on the Plan of Salvation with Fernando and Jenni.  It was AWESOME!  They really are so prepared.  
Quick funny moment from the lesson:  We had just talked a little bit about the Pre-Earth Life, when we lived with our Heavenly Father as His spirit children before we came to Earth to get our bodies and have experiences, and I looked at Jenni and asked, "So Jenni, where do you come from?"  and with a HUGE smile said, "Mexico." and was completely serious!  Elder Shipley, Presidente, Fernando, and I all just busted up. I then rephrased the question and she got the answer right the second time.  At the end we invited them to be baptized..... AND THEY SAID YES! Fernando and Jenni are so prepared that we set them for the 2nd of August, AKA the weekend right before transfers.  I know they're ready.   I'm just going to be praying for them to keep doing as well as they are.  I invite you to keep them in your prayers as well.

I know this church is true and I know that as we go out and help our friends and family to come to the truth and to come to our Savior, Jesus Christ, we'll see miracles.  This is the truth.  I know it and I love it.

I also love you and I know that I wouldn't be out here if it wasn't for your support.  Have a great week!

Lots of love,
Elder Paddock

PS Texas Roadhouse with 8 Elders for Elder French and Elder Larsen's' birthdays is a lot of fun! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Fireworks, Food, Futbol, Cletus, and Bug Bites

I loved this week!  I can't even explain to you how great this week really was.  So many great things happened and I'm just going to jump right in and hope I have enough time :)

4th of July Flag shirts sent from home.

First off, Thursday.  We had the awesome opportunity to be a part of a local parade.  Not for being recognized as missionaries like in St. George but because we volunteered to help out.  All we did was walk next to a float/semi thing that was throwing out necklaces and make sure no kids ran under the tires of the semi.  It was AWESOME to be able to see so many happy Iowans, as weird as they are.  Everyone was smiling and dancing and having a good time.  It was really funny when our investigators or members would see us walking down in the middle of a parade.  They were so confused!  Seeing all those happy people reminded me of why I love this area so much.  Everyone here is great and I love them.
Gilote Loco (crazy corn on the cob).  I FINALLY had it. 
 Its basically corn with mayo, cheese, and chile.  
and it is FANTASTIC!  For a while I only thought it
 existed in Nacho Libre but its real and I had to try some.

Then we had an awesome lesson with Leopolo (his name isn't actually Leopalda, I lied last week.) We showed up to his house and he immediately dropped what he was doing and came and talked with us.  There's no doubt in my mind that he is prepared by the Lord.  He has so many good questions like, "where do I go after I die?" or "What does a prophet do?"  We've got a lesson with him tonight planned and I'm so excited to go see him again.  

Friday was just as great!  We got invited to at least 4 different parties so we ended up just choosing a few and going to them.  We played all sorts of games, ate lots of good food, and were even able to teach a lesson about Faith to a neighbor of some of our favorite members, the Flores family!  Sadly, missionaries aren't allowed to light off fireworks but sitting there watching a bunch of Guatemalans and Mexicans and El Salvadoreans play with explosives was still a whole lot of fun!  I ended up just bringing the box that you sent me that had a whole bunch of random, dollar store, 4th of July stuff and giving it to some cute little El Salvadorean twins.  They say thank you :)

In other updates: 
The Briseno family is doing great!  They want me to tell you that they say "Hola".  Right now we've been really working with them to get them to the Temple.  They REALLY want to go!  They REALLY want to be sealed together for all eternity and to be able to receive the blessings that Heavenly Father has prepared for them.  I'm thankful for the opportunity I have to work with them and to help them as they prepare for those covenants.  I hope I can be around or close to the temple when they go through so that I can be there.  I love those crazy old people.  Seeing them "Every now and then" has been a real blessing for me.

Last cool story:
A month ago, President Lagunas brought his niece and nephew up from Mexico for safety reasons since the pueblito where they lived is super dangerous.  They were sealed as a family when they were REALLY little but could never go to church since the closest chapel was hours away so they were never baptized either.  Elder Shipley and I got the lucky opportunity to be able to work with them and help them enter the waters of baptism.  We finally had our first lesson with them yesterday after a month of trying. (They were never home, or everyone was asleep every time we tried).  They are soo ready!  We taught them the Restoration and at the end we asked them, "So what did you learn today?" and shy, 13 year old, Fernando spoke up and said, "If I want to come closer to God, I need to read the Book of Mormon and pray to my Heavenly Father and ask if its true."  I was shocked.  He hardly said anything the whole lesson up until that point because he's so shy.  His 10 year old sister Jenni did most of the talking.  Those two are so prepared for the Gospel.  I'm so excited to continue to work with them and help them towards baptism.

I love you!  Thanks for the support and the love.  Have a great week!
Elder Zack Paddock

PS These bugs here think I'm delicious.  I've got so many bites its ridiculous.
Look how big that thing on my arm is!  And look how big the bug bite is too!

We were talking at our car one day with Elder French and Elder Blanck when a tiny little bird smacked into our back window and then just chilled on our trunk.  We named him Cletus.

From email to Dad:
4th of July was SUPER fun.  I guess I never explained the "futbol" part of the Title.
We've started playing Soccer every Saturday now with our Branch and it'll woop me into shape pretty fast.  As hot and humid as it is out here, plus the amount of running soccer makes me do, I'm going to be losing the 15 lbs I've gained pretty quickly.  My 6 pack is already coming back :)

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When Being Easily Distracted Pays Off

The Sioux City Elders
Guess what!  I'm still here in Sioux City!  Same area, same address, and everything!  That means I'm going (at least) 9 months here in The Promised Land!  The week building up to transfers was nuts.  We had investigators and members calling us and being worried about us leaving.  It was really nice to feel the love of the people we've been serving.
The best was their reaction when they found out that I was staying.  Crazy Hermana Briseno called us and said, "Elder De Vez en Cuando (Every now and then), I heard rumor you're staying! Is it true?!"  and when I told her it was she let out a happy little old mexican lady giggle and told me she was so happy that I was staying.  
The only change in our whole area is that Elder Harrison, my ZL since I started my mission and now one of my good friends, got transferred to Grand Island.  I'll miss that guy a ton.  I feel like I was trained by 3 missionaries: Elder Juan, Elder Cabezas, and Elder Harrison, and now all of them are going home.  That's super weird.  Mission time flies.
Elder Harrison and I (matching not planned)

I don't have a whole lot to say from this week, but I do want to share a SUPER cool story.  
Elder Blanck and I were on exchanges again and this time we were in our area.  We were running low on miles so we were walking all day and at this point of the day, Elder Blanck had to go to the bathroom so bad he thought he was going to poop his pants.  On our way back to the apartment, I looked to my right and saw a Thrift Store which I had never been in and something, which I now recognize as the Holy Ghost, told me that we should go in and look for ties.  So we walk in and some man with a really bad Spanish accent says, "Brothers!  How are you?"  I didn't think much of it.  Maybe "brothers" was the only English he knew, so I just said, "We're good. How are you?" and we started our search for ties. (Keep in mind, Elder Blanck still has to go to the bathroom REALLY bad).  As soon as we stopped talking to him, the random man in the shop starts talking to the guy at the cash register in Spanish and I thought, "I'm going to go talk to them!"  I asked the cash register man, whose name is Leopalda, if they had any ties and he went looking.  Random man, then starts a conversation with me asking me how long I've been on a mission and where I'm from, things like that.  Turns out, he's a Member from Salt Lake City here on Business!  He was born in Peru, served his mission in Peru, was married in the Salt Lake Temple, and was here for 3 days selling some kind of something to send money to Mexico or Guatemala!  My mind was blown!  As soon as Leopalda got back, the member guy says, "Amigo, these boys have an amazing message for you.  It'll change your life, and I invite you to listen to them," and then he looked at me!  So I took it from there and between the member guy and I (because Elder Blanck doesn't speak Spanish) we taught the entire Restoration message right there in that tiny little Thrift Store.  I just looked at the member and said, "would you like to explain this book (The Book of Mormon)?" and he said, " I would love to." and began to talk about how this book is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, that its the story of people who left Jerusalem for the Americas 600 years before Christ and its their history of God's dealings with Prophets over here.  He spoke about how the book has blessed his life with peace and love, and a knowledge that God loves ALL of His children.  I was amazed by the power that this member had as he spoke.  You could tell that he knew that it was true and that he felt the burning desire to share it.  
My mind was even more blown when Leopalda said, "You know what?  I've been thinking recently about how come Christ never talked to the people over here.  How come he was only in Jerusalem, you know?  I'm going to read this.  Want to stop by again next week?"

I know that we were led to that Thrift Store that day.  I know that the Lord had prepared Leopalda for that specific encounter with us and that he placed that Member in our path to be able to add another personal testimony of the truthfulness of these things.  I'm so incredibly grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Lord's work and to be able to work here in Sioux City for at least 6 more weeks.  I love you and I hope you have a great week!  

Lots of Love,
Elder Zack Paddock

PS Another blessing is that the whole time we were in the Thrift Store, Elder Blanck didn't have to go to the bathroom.  As soon as we left there though it was basically a 7 block sprint back to our apartment....
The cutest little fat Guatamalan boy.  His name is Eduardo. The kid could not keep his shirt on.
 Everytime you said, "Eduardo, smile!" he just lift up his shirt.  

The storm rolling in yesterday.