Monday, December 29, 2014

Feliz Navidad!

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I LOVE CHRISTMAS!!  The rest of the pretty rough but all that didn't matter since I got to Skype with you guys for an hour-ish.  Thank you for being the best, awesome supportive family an Elder could ask for.  I sure do love you guys.
Christmas PJ's (he asked for no Christmas PJ's
 so I just sent warm socks full of candy)

Christmas Morning

Christmas Dinner (SOOOOO much better than last year's Goat Stomach)

The Dog I spent all Christmas playing with

Temple Trip

This week, what I've been trying to figure out what it is that I can do to be a better help to Elder Kummerman and our District, and I knew that this week would be a good week to go and get an answer since President Weston gave our Zone the Christmas present of going to the Temple the day after Christmas.  Sitting through the session, I kept my question in my head and by the time I was done, I knew that the answer was be 100% obedient.  After all, we can only receive blessing based off the rules and commandments we obey.  Selective Obedience brings Selective Blessings.  I didn't think I was very disobedient, and I'm not, but as I've been going through the Missionary Handbood, I realized that there's some small rules that I've slipped on and could improve.  I know that as we obey all the rules in the mission, not just the one's that make perfect sense or the one's that are "convenient" that all the blessings will come and the work will explode in our area.  
The temple trip was amazing.  It was exactly what I needed, on top of a Skype call home, to give me more strength to carry on.  Training Elder Kummerman is hard, but I know there's a reason that I'm with him and that I was assigned to be his "dad".  I'm grateful for the testimony that I have of the truthfulness of this work.
I hope all is well with you!  I hope you have a happy new year!  
Lots of love,
Elder Zack
Merry Christmas from the Crete Mill

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Skype!

Elder Paddock

Paddocks at Home in our new Nebraska gear that Zack sent us.
Mom's post:

We got to Skype with Elder Zack on Christmas for about an hour and 15 minutes.  It was awesome!  I love having my family together for that little bit of time!  Here are some of the highlights of our chat:

He is disappointed that he did not have a white Christmas last year or this year.

Zack is training a new missionary and has also been called to be a District Leader.  He is handling a lot of challenges with those new responsibilities, but is very upbeat about it all.  He told a story about Elder Kummerman's first day out tracting.  They knocked on the door of a crazy Guatemalan man who invited them in.  He spent over 1/2 an hour telling them a crazy story that jumped all over the place and even burst into song at one point.  Then he said, " I'm sorry I didn't get to hear your message, but I've got to go to work now."  So they left wondering what just happened. Elder Kummerman hadn't understood most of it and Zack had been trying not to laugh.  He says you only have crazy stories like that when you are getting trained or are a trainer.  

Meg & I were bantering about something and Mason complained to Zack about being girl-trapped and left alone with the ladies for 2 years.  Zack told him to be tough and hang in there, that he'd be home in just 9 months.  9 months!

He said he likes all the silly things we send him, but when I asked what he would like us to send, he said "more ties".  It sounds like he has about 50 ties with him now, but we could always send more.

Mason asked if he'd be burning something else at the 18 month mark.  He said he was not going to be burning a suit.  He said that his mission president has banned fire from the mission.  No more tie or shirt burning and no candles and no flame throwers made from bug spray.
Elder Paddock & Elder Kummerman

We got to briefly meet Elder Kummerman.  He was very nice.  Then all 4 missionaries that were there came in to sing us "Feliz Navidad".  Zack showed us that he still has his awesome dance moves.
Feliz Navidad

He says he's down about 5 pounds from when he left home, but thinks he's grown taller.  I asked if his pants were getting short, if you could see his socks.  He said he's gotten lots of compliments on his Christmas socks, so maybe it's true. ;)

Overall, he looked good, sounded good, is very focused on the work he is out there to do, but is still the same silly kid that we love.  None of us cried, at least not during our chat.  It was just so good to be together!  Only 130 days or so until we get to talk again on Mother's Day!

Maybe my favorite part was when we had a family prayer together near the end.  Sending Zack out on a mission has been a good experience for all of us.  We are focused more on the gospel and the important part it is in our lives.  We are trying to build each other up and be supportive.  We tell each other how much we love each other and realize how important family is to us all.  I'm so thankful that he chose to go, but I am also very much looking forward to having him back with us next Christmas!  It was so good to see him and hear him and I'm sure he felt the same about us.

I sent a preview of this post for Zack to approve and he said, "Sounds good!  And yep I felt exactly the same way."

Meg & Zack

Monday, December 22, 2014

Being a Proud "Parent"

Merry Christmas from Elder Paddock and Elder Kummerman!

Training is by far the hardest thing I have ever been asked to do but it is also one of the most rewarding.  I have heard its a lot like being a real parent.  I have to teach him how to talk (both in English, like what to say, and in Spanish of how to say it correctly), I have to teach him how to walk (teach him the area, know where to go, how to tract, etc.), and how to take care of himself (like the daily schedule, buying groceries, etc.)  Luckily the last one's pretty easy since he went to college for 2 years in Oregon.   I've never been so tired though.  Constantly watching over someone to make sure they're doing alright and adjusting and are continually progressing takes a lot out of a person.  
But luckily this week's been pretty rewarding.  It's been really cool to teach him something and later that day watch him use it.  
For example, we went to go try to visit a guy named Rene.  We've seen Rene a couple times and this time when we went to try him, a lot of his family was there.  Earlier that morning, Elder Kummerman and I had talked about the very first minutes after we enter a home and how important those are to set up the rest of the visit and how its going to go.  We had talked about the importance of inviting every one in the home to join in the conversation and as we were sitting there with Rene, his mom walked into the room and Elder Kummerman jumped on the opportunity and invited her to join us.  She accecpted and actually ended up participating way more in the lesson than Rene did.   
We've also had many other occasions during knocking or talking to people during service where I see him go over and just start talking to people.  Its been really cool to watch him grow just in one week.  I'm pretty sure this must be what a parent feels like watching their children accomplish things.  Training has been a completely different experience than anything I've had these past 14ish months and I'm thankful for the opportunity.  

On a completely side note, I convinced someone I was from Spain this week!  I've been practicing my accent and he totally believed me for a bit!  When I told him I was kidding and that I was from UT he was really surprised.  I'm probably going to keep having fun with people like that for the rest of my life :)  

Anyways this week was good!  We had a super good Zone Conference focused on our responsibility to talk to everyone.  We talked a lot about the scripture in 3 Nephi 5:13 that says "Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. I have been called of him to declare his word among his people, that they might have everlasting life."  I know that is true.  That really is our responsibility and I'm grateful for my calling as a full-time missionary. There's no where else I'd rather be.  

I love you and I'm sooooo excited for Thursday when I get to talk to you for a little bit.  I've been counting down the days since October :)

See you soon!  Have a great week!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack
Sis Weston's photo from Zone Conference:
Elders ?, Holman, Garff, Paddock, & Kummerman

Sis Weston's photo from Zone Conference:
Elders Kummerman, ?,?, Garff, Paddock, ?

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Transfer of Big Changes

Elder Holman and me
Thursday morning, Elder Holman, Elder Garff, and I were sitting around the table and the phone began to ring.
"Its President...,"said Elder Holman and he threw the phone at me.  The conversation that proceeded went something like this:
"Hello, this is Elder Paddock."
"Elder, its President Weston.  How are you doing?"
"I'm doing well, President.  How are you?"
"I'm well.  Staying obedient?"
"I'm doing my best."
"Will you commit to exact obedience?"
"Elder, the Lord has called you to train.  Do you accept?"
Instantly my heart started beating like drum, and somehow I managed to stammer out,   
 "Yeah, President.  I can do that."
Well in order to cut the rest of the story shorter..... ITS A BOY!  I'm a "Daddy" now.   I'm training Elder Kummerman from Portland, Oregon.  He's 20 years old and has only been a member of the church for about a year and a half.  He's surprisingly fairly half-way decent at Spanish (But he thinks he's better than he actually is, so that's been fun) and he's got a great love for the language and the Hispanic culture.   He's definitely got "Greenie Fire", which means he's so excited to get out and work and teach and share the Gospel.   My goal is to work that as hard as I can and just use it to propel this work forward.  Hopefully both of us can stay humble and patient.  We'll definitely need to.  Should be fun! 
Yo y mi hijo: Elder Kummerman & Elder Paddock

Back to the story though.
10 minutes after talking to President, the Assistants called.  
"Elder Paddock, the Lord and President have called you to be District Leader."
I guess the Lord's got a lot for me to learn this transfer.  I'm excited but nervous about all the new responsibility that I've got now, but I"m excited to be able to serve in new ways.  
In other news, Elder Holman was sent to open up the Columbus Spanish area that's just in the neighboring zone and only about an hour away so we'll get to see him every now and then.  I'll miss that kid like crazy.  He's definitely been my most favorite companion.
Also Elder Garff got sent to Grand Island to be with Elder Hill again and Elder Shipley came to Lincoln and is now part of our district.  It'll be fun to go on exchanges with him in the future.
Overall, I'm doing alright.  Just trying to get used to the new comp and the new responsibilities.  Should be an interesting transfer!  
The Paper I got telling all
my fun responsibilities

Elder Kummerman's paper telling
him he'd be getting me

I love you and I'm excited to see you in 10 days!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack

Monday, December 8, 2014

8 December 2014

The final District Picture of the transfer.
  Elder Paddock is on the left, Elder Garff is sitting, not sure who the photo bomber is,
standing: Elders Lambert, Pearson, ?, Taylor & Zack's companion, Elder Holman, is sitting in front of the podium.  
This week was a pretty good one!  We did so many exchanges!  But I guess that's what happens when the leaders (My companion and the Zone Leaders) decide to put them off until the last two weeks of the Transfer.(Transfers are this week....)  So as much as I don't like Exchanges for a couple reasons, it was good to be able to learn from Elder Pearson and Elder Lambert.  We had some pretty awesome experiences those days too! 
A lot of what happened this week is really not very possible to explain. Maybe in the future I can tell you about it.  Everything that did happen this week pumped me right back up though and even further proved to me that this is the work of the Lord.  Lots of things happened and I'm so happy to be in Crete to see these things.  Is the work moving super fast?  Not really.  But its through small and simple means that great things are brought to pass. 
Here's the update on the things in Crete:
Basically we're having to drop investigators, meaning that they don't really want to talk to us any more, and we're doing it to probably half of the people we talk to.  Chances are that whoever stays this transfer, (its like a 70% chance that Elder Holman leaves and a 29% that I will, and a 1% chance that we'll go another transfer together)  will have a lot of work in re-building the area back to where it once was.  We've gone from teaching around 20 lessons a week to 8 just because no one is ever home or every time we come over they come up with some excuse for why they can't talk to us and then schedule an appointment for later and the cycle starts over.  We're just sorting the Wheat from the Tares I guess.  I'll keep you updated if I stick around. 
GOOD NEWS THOUGH!  Saturday night we went over to visit our friend Kevin, who's a 17 year old High School Senior.  When we got there he said, "come on in guys." and sat down on the couch, but didn't look too happy.  After talking to him for a bit about what's going on, he told us that thinking about college hurts his head and I just laughed because I had told Elder Holman that exact same thing earlier that day.  Kevin said he was nervous about the future and he didn't know what to do.  A scripture came to our minds thats in 2 Nephi 32:3 that says " Angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost; wherefore, they speak the words of Christ. Wherefore, I said unto you, feast upon the words of Christ; for behold, the words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do."
And he sat there thinking and we talked about it and we asked him, "So what does that say to you?"
And he sat there thinking again and said, "Well if I want to know what to do, I need to read the scriptures more and do what God wants me to do."  That's exactly right!  God has a plan for each and everyone of us and He tells us what that is through the scriptures.  It was really a cool lesson up until that point, but it got so much cooler when he said, "I'm going to be at church tomorrow!" and his dad said, "And I'm going to take him."   And guess who came walking into the ward right as the Sacrament was about to start!   Kevin and Jose!  Elder Holman and I were sooo happy.  In the 4 1/2 months we've been together, we haven't had anyone Spanish go to church, which was really kind of a bummer, but in come Kevin and Jose and they stayed for the whole first two hours of church!  Kevin said he liked Sunday School and Sacrament meeting so hopefully they'll come next week too!   My whole week was made when I saw them come walking into the Chapel.  Its funny how things like that can make us as missionaries so dang happy.  
I love this work.  
I hope you all had a great week too.  I love you!
Lots of Love, 
Elder Paddock
Their Christmas Tree with 24 days
of Christmas presents from home
for Zack & his companion

Elder Zack wearing his cheesy Christmas socks sent from home.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

A Very Happy Thanksgiving Week

The Pioneer Ward Missionaries (Elders Quayle, Holman, Garff, Peason, Paddock, and Howell) and the Olivers 

This week was awesome!  I loved the whole week!  We've been having LOTS of fun, ate LOTS of food, and have seen LOTS of little miracles.  Let me tell you about each of those highlights.
Lots of Fun
Elder Holman and I have amped up our fight against the cockroaches.  We had noticed that every  time we would try and get close to them to smack them with a shoe, they'd climb into a little hole or a cabinet or something and be lost forever so last P Day we decided to get creative and we bought some PVC pipe and some nerf darts and made blow dart guns to be able to get them at a distance.  Needless to say we're pretty much professional blow dart shooters and the cockroaches don't stand a chance now.  Every night we've been playing games of horse in the living room too where one of us will shoot something across the house and the other person will have to hit it too.  Have I mentioned how I really enjoy serving with Elder Holman?  We've had a good 4 months together and its been lots of fun.
The Cockroach Killer

Lots of Food
Sometimes being a missionary has some pretty good days.  One of those was Thanksgiving.  Don't worry, we didn't starve at all.  We had one dinner at 12 in Seward with the Lieske Family, another in Lincoln at 2 with the Oliver family where we had planned to do service so we even got to eat in not proselyting clothes which was completely fine by me, and then a Hispanic Thanksgiving dinner of Tamales at 6 with Hermana Chairez and her family.  I'm fairly certain that all the weight that I've lost since I got to Crete came back in just one day.  Oh well.  Eating with the Olivers was by far my favorite though.  We ate soooo much food and then in between food and pie we all went and played games downstairs and tried to recuperate before we went off to eat with Hermana Chairez.  
Recuperating from Dinner #2

Lots of Miracles
The biggest miracle of all this week was with Fernando and Veronica.   There we were one morning doing studies and we hear a big knock on our door. They live in the apartment right above ours so they come down and knock our door a lot to ask questions or favors or stuff like that.  We open the door and there stands Fernando with this big, huge smile on his face!  After talking to him for a little bit, he paused for a second, and then said,
 "Oh and Veronica got an answer!  We were sitting there on the couch talking after you guys left that night (See last week's email) and all of a sudden I look over and she's sitting there praying.  I let her finish and all of a sudden she says ' Fernando! He is!'   And I said, 'Who is what?'  'Joseph Smith!  He's a prophet!  I was praying and I asked God and before I even finished asking I felt something say He Is.  He is, Fernando!' "
As Fernando was telling us this he had the biggest smile on his face and you could tell that he'd gotten an answer as well!
It was just another testimony builder to me that when you pray with faith, God gives you the answer.  If people actually do what we invite them to do, the answers come, testimonies are built, and conversion takes place.  Its a really cool thing to be a part of and its one of the many reasons I love being a missionary. 
I'm glad that you all had a great Thanksgiving.  This year as I thought about the many things that I'm grateful for, I realized that this past year the Lord's blessed me with lots of miracles.  I'm grateful for this chance that I have to be a part of this work.  I know its true.  I'm grateful for the blessing that I've had to grow up in the Truth with a family that loves me, cares about me, and has the same eternal goals as I do.  I love you!  I hope you have a great week!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack