Thursday, May 28, 2015

The Blessings of Diligence

The biggest burger I've ever had from Norfolk, NE.
1lb patty, a giant onion ring, steak strips, cheese.

These past few weeks have been crazy with Exchanges.  This week was no different.  This week we had the opportunity to do exchanges with both sets of Norfolk Elders, Spanish and English.  Lately we'd been getting a little worried about the numbers they've been sending in at the end of each week which showed that in that entire week they'd only taught one or maybe two lessons.  Our goal going into the exchanges was to figure out what was going on down there and to be able to help them find some people so they could get those numbers up.
As we went through the exchanges we realized that there was a lot of time that they had spent in their apartments or just driving around instead of actually trying to find people.  It seemed like they were more interested in having fun sometimes than getting down and getting to work.  
I learned that blessings really do come from working hard.  I learned that if we have faith and go out and do our best, that the Lord will make things happen for us. 
Elder Pearson and I drove out to a little town called Madison, about 15 miles south of Norfolk, to work the last 3 hours of the night.  In those 3 hours, we were only able to knock 3 doors because all 3 let us in!  We knocked 3 doors, found and found 3 new investigators all in 3 hours!  The Lord really does help us!  

Besides all that, this week's been ridiculously busy with service and teaching!   I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend!  I know we did!
People just kept inviting us to BBQ after BBQ.  I ate so many hamburgers and carne asada this week!  

I love you all!  I hope you have a great week!
Lots of Love,
Elder Zack Paddock

Elder Peters birthday party.

The most intense game of Jenga at last night's
FHE with the Flores family.  The game lasted at least
 35 minutes without the tower crashing.  

Monday, May 18, 2015

"Its Been a Weird Week"

In the words of Elder Swan, "It's been a weird week."  Lots of things occured this week that made it a special and strange week for sure. 
Upon starting the week off with spraining my ankle really bad in basketball, we then had 3 different exchanges with Storm Lake Monday night, Spencer Tuesday, and with the Assistants on Thursday, with Spanish Conference in there as well, and finished off the week with a special Stake Conference with Elder L. Whitney Clayton of the Presidency of the 70 presiding.    Its been a busy week.   Between Monday and Friday, we had only had 3 hours of real working time in our area and it was great to see the Lord fill those 3 hours with lots of work.  

Spanish Conference from the point of view of the companionship in charge of everything was a completely different experience.  I imagine its a lot like a parent's point of view on a vacation trip.  Its a lot of making sure everything's going to plan while everyone else just has a lot of fun.  Its crazy being in charge and giving trainings at Spanish Conference.  I remember my first Spanish Conference thinking, "wow.  Those guys giving trainings are so experienced and old."  Now I'm the old guy!  That's a weird thought.  Our training was all about the story of Enoch in Moses 6 talking about how we need to have the faith to open our mouths, even in awkward situations.  We actually talked a lot about "Embracing the Awkward" which I think has kind of been the motto for my entire 20 months as a missionary.   It was still a lot of fun though!  I can't wait until the next one!

With all the exchanges I've learned a lot!  I think thats one of the biggest blessings of being a Zone Leader is how much I get to learn about this work from the missionaries I serve with.  Each exchange teaches me about a different Christ-like Attribute.  I think the biggest thing I learned this week is the importance of always being Humble.  We should always be seeking to learn more, to grow, to progress.  We won't be finished growing ever and I love that there's always things to learn.  The missionaries I worked with this week (one of which was the Orr's cousin) taught be a lot about that.  

Yesterday was a really great Stake Conference where we had the opportunity to sit down and listen to one of the leaders of this great Church.  Elder L. Whitney Clayton, who had been in Council Bluffs, IA the day before with Elder Oaks of the 12 for a leadership training meeting, came to Sioux City to give a special stake conference.  He talked a lot about an analogy of a tree.  Are we planted in rich, deep, gospel soil?  What are the fruits coming from our obedience and diligence?  Are we planted on a firm foundation in Christ?  I learned a lot from him yesterday and from his talk last General Conference.  Check it out! 

Sorry this email's all over the place.  This week's also been all over the place.  I love you guys!  I hope you have a great week!
Lots of love,
Elder Paddock

PS the Last 3 months of my mission just some how disappeared  from my camera...

Every thing since February 2nd has been erased on my memory card.  Hopefully I've sent home most of my pictures.  I"m buying a usb today for my camera so I can back everything up to it.  I'm trying to be happy though!  Its a good thing I've sent home a LOT of pictures over the past 3 months, right? :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mother's Day Skype 2015

Mom note: It was so great to get to talk to Elder Paddock on Skype! We are so thankful for the family who let the missionaries use their computers and so thankful for the technology that allowed us to feel like we were together in the same room for an hour and a half on Mother's Day.

Elder Paddock is happy.  He is doing well.  He is gaining a little weight, which is good.  He loves Sioux City.  He loves being a Zone Leader.  He loves serving the Lord.  He is dedicated and hard-working.  He talked a little bit about his plans for when he comes home at the end of September, nothing is concrete.  

He is planning to leave most of his tired old clothes there and come home with just what he has on.  He wanted to make sure I didn't want his old shirts for a craft project.  I wanted to know if he wants me to send new shirts now.

4 more months.  He isn't ready to be done yet.  That's fine, his room isn't ready for him yet.

He loves us.  We love him.  

Below are our short emails to each other the day after our Skype chat.
I love your face!
I also love your face next to your sister's face!

Dear Zachary,
I love being together as a family.  It is so awesome that we get to see you through Skype.  It feels like we are all here together for a little while.

I loved when we all shared our testimonies.  Thank you for asking us to do that.  I am so glad that you are happy & excited about the work you are doing.    We have been  blessed through your mission experience, your weekly testimony, and by trying to be the kind of family you can be proud of.

We love you!

Please let me know if I can send you ANYTHING:  garments, socks, shoes, cookies, white shirts, whatever.

Love always,

From Elder Paddock:
You crazy people :)

Skyping was great yesterday!  I love you guys so much.  
Question:  What is the actual possibility of translating at the hospital?  I actually like that idea a lot.  I'd much rather do that kind of translation than translating at meetings.  That's hard.  Also do you know if any of the Spanish stores around town are hiring?  Keep an eye out :)
I  love you guys.  Nothing new to report.  Have a great week!
Our Zone

Planning for Spanish Conference

Monday, May 4, 2015

What a Week!

Elder Peters and I and the Castle (AKA where Elder Swan and I live)
This week was amazing!  There were so many things that happened that made me so very happy to be a Zone Leader in Sioux City that I wish I had time to fully describe them.... but I don't.  So here's a quick recap of our week!

I think this accurately describes the feeling of hanging
out at the church for too long while waitng for interviews.

Us and President Weston at Interviews
 and Sister Weston at MLC.
 I love these two so much.

Wednesday we had interviews with President Weston here in Sioux City Zone.  Due to our assignment as Zone Leaders, Elder Swan and I had the great priviledge of being at the church sitting in the Stake Offices room from 8 AM to 6 PM to make sure everything ran smoothly as all 24 of the Elders and Sisters of our zone got to have one-on-one time with President.  It was great to be able to spend time with the missionaries of our zone though while we all sat together anxiously awaiting our turns.  Elder Swan and I got to go last. 
My interview with President was amazing.  Due to the fact that he finishes his mission in July, this would be last interview with him and I wasn't going to let the opportunity to ask his advice on life pass by.  At the end of our interivew about normal things like Missonary Work and how great the Sioux City Zone is, he asked, "Well, Elder, do you have any questions or anything I can help you with?"
"How much time do we have left?"  I asked.
"Well where do you live?"
"St. George, UT"
"I'm only a couple hours away in Logan, Elder.  Come visit me!  Even if I'm out in the middle of my field, my tractor has a buddy-seat."

I told him I'd take him up on that offer.  I did get to ask him about some advice that he might have for me.  The words "Get Married" showed up quite a bit.  "You only have 1/2 a brain, Elder!" he said, " Get married and let the other half of your brain help you make the rest of the hard decisions!"   It was a really interesting, great talk.  I love President Weston.  Its hard to imagine anyone else as my Mission President.  

The Sioux City ZL's and STL's, Sister Allen and
Sister Eddington (and Elder Larsen). 
Sister Allen is from the Beckstrand's ward!

The new Sioux Falls ZL's whose zone joined our mission last week.

The Sioux City Spanish Elders
Friday we had Mission Leadership Council in Omaha where all the Zone Leaders and Sister Training Leaders get together to receive trainings from President and Sister Weston and the Assistants and to talk about how the work is going, how the missionaries in their stewardship are doing, about how we handle certain situations, about rules that could be adjusted, etc.  It was incredibly interesting to be in that meeting and to see and be a part of the inner-workings of the Nebraska Omaha Mission.  The Spirit was so strong and re-affirmed to me how much this is the work of the Lord.  All the decisions made in that meeting were inspired and I'm excited for them to spread throughout the mission.  

The last thing I want to share was such a cool experience.  This last week, the Hermanas called us and said that they had just finished talking with Emma Aguilar and that she said that Jose had heard that I was back in town and he wanted me and Elder Swan to come teach him.  This week was our first visit with him.  It was so cool to be able to start teaching him again.  A month or so ago, the other elders stopped visiting him because he wasn't progressing and it seemed like all he wanted to do was argue.  We went into that lesson prepared to set some expectations and to help him feel the Spirit.  We read 3 Nephi chapter 11 with him and talked about how we know that we're representatives of Jesus Christ and that this is His gospel.  We also talked about baptism and told him that that is where we see our visits going.  We then invited him to be baptized onJune 27th, which he said yes to on condition that he feels ready.  I know he will be.  I know that if he puts in his part that the Spirit will take care of the rest. 

Language Study on Exchanges with Elder Saunders
I love being back.  I love this zone.  I love this work.  I love each of you and I hope you have a great week!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack Paddock