Monday, June 29, 2015

It's Been a Rough Week

Beautiful Sunset in Yankton
Theft.  Food Poisoning.  Bed bugs.  I believe that pretty much sums up the past few days of this week.  Its been so great.  

Friday, we got in our truck to take it to the mechanic to get some stuff fixed and saw that there were copies of the Book of Mormon everywhere.  I just assumed that the box of them that we keep in our back seat had just been knocked over when we were going in for the night  the evening before... but then I saw that my CD's were also in the back seat and thats when I started to realize something was up.  Then we really noticed when Elder Swan couldn't find his sunglasses and mine were also missing and also Elder Swan's pack of gum.  And then we saw the Book of Mormon conveniently placed where Swan's GPS was supposed to be.    We came to the conclusion that when we went back to get Elder Swan's wallet the night before, we had forgotten to lock the truck.  It was our fault.  I think the most impressive thing was Elder Swan's attitude toward it when he said, quite genuinely, "I guess they needed that GPS more than I did."   

Sickness at its finest

Sickness at its finest
Saturday morning, 5 AM, I woke up with a lot of stomach pain and ran to the bathroom to throw up.  My situation pretty much stayed at that state for the rest of the day, with me drifting in and out of sleep.  Around 12, Elder Swan also began having stomach pain, a headache, and throwing up.  By 6, Elder Robinson joined us with the exact same symptoms and within the next few hours it hit Elder Peters.  Our two companionships ended up just quarantining ourselves in the apartment playing Monopoly, throwing up, and watching Mormon Messages and Legacy for the entire day.  I've never felt so unproductive in my life.  

Sunday morning, after having slept the remainder of my sickness off, I woke up with giant red itchy spots all over from the hips down.  I'd seen these before and knew that it could only be one thing: Bed bugs.  I ripped off my sheets and looked at my mattress, and sure enough there were the signs we'd been told to look for.    What a great way to finish off a "fun" weekend. 

On the bright side, in the midst of all of this, we had an amazing lesson with Jose this week. We've been fasting and praying and giving him assignements to help him understand the importance of Priesthood Authority.  About half-way through our visit with him, he looked at me and said, "Now I get it," and continued on explaining perfectly why its so important.  I really feel like the Lord has great things in store for Jose.  As soon as he joins the church I know he's going to be such a faithful member, and become a leader in helping others come unto Christ.  He's getting there, slowly but surely.  I know he's part of the reason I've come back to Sioux City.  I just know it. 

I hope you had a fantastic week and that every thing is going great!   Don't worry about us.  We're doing great now!  I'm so excited for the crazy week that's ahead of us with exchanges, a new misson President, a Zone Conference, and MLC!  Its going to be crazy!

I love you!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack Paddock

President Weston's last email

Dear Sisters and Elders:

What a great feeling to be in the greatest Mission in the world! And to be serving with the greatest missionaries in the world! What an honor it has been to serve alongside of you! I will be forever grateful for all I have learned from you in ways to become more like the Savior. The Gardners will be in the best company of missionaries ever in this mission when they arrive! May your prayers be with them as they adjust to mission life. As with you, it will be the hardest and yet the most rewarding experience of their lives so far. "There is no more compelling work than this, nor any which brings greater satisfaction...The Lord will reward and richly bless you as you humbly and prayerfully serve Him. More happiness awaits you than you have ever experienced as you labor among His children" ( PMG pg. v.). 

Our prayers and hearts will always be a part of the people and missionaries in "The Nebraska Omaha Mission". We love you. And now I will invite all of you to "search, ponder and pray 30 minutes every day in the Book of Mormon" so as to enable the Atonement to be active in your life and in the lives of those you teach. More miracles and blessings await those who are obedient than ever before. Seek after those miracles for they are alive and well in this mission! And this because of your great faith. May God's grace be forever with you! You will be for--ever in our prayers! Have a GREAT MISSION!!


President Weston @27 A of F 13

P.S. "We are , each of us, angels with only one wing, and we can only fly embracing each other." (Luciano Decrescenzo) 

P.P.S. From Sister Weston: It truly has been an honor to serve with some of the finest souls on earth, the missionaries of the Nebraska Omaha Mission. You are indeed, No Ordinary Missionaries!!!! Thank you for your examples of faith, hope, and charity--I have learned from you what those words mean. As you knock on doors and talk with everyone you meet, know that the Savior of the world stands beside you as your constant friend and companion. And don't forget that every day won't be perfect, but there are perfect moments in every day--tender mercies given freely by our loving Heavenly Father that we might experience joy. I love you!!! You will always be ours, we will always be yours in this great NOM family. This work is true!! Stay the course, keep the faith, be happy, and carry on until the great news of the gospel has been sounded in every ear in the Nebraska Omaha Mission!!!!

Monday, June 22, 2015

The Promised Land

The Zone

Now I'm beginning to remember why this area is really called the Promised Land of the mission.  There's been so many miracles this week that have just reminded me that when we work our hardest the Lord blesses us with his prepared children to teach. 

This week we've been doing a lot of knocking and there's been two lessons with people that we found and taught just this week that I'm so excited about.

The first is Helmer.  Elder Peters and I found him while we were on exchanges and knocking doors.  He was just hanging out in his hammock with his kid blasting some kind of hispanic music.  As we were walking up to his house, he turned the music down and got really excited to see us.  He said he'd never seen missionaries here nor in Guatemala and he was excited to learn more.  Elder Peters and I just taught him a quick message about the Book of Mormon and left him with the Introduction to read before we stopped by again later in the week.  When Elder Neuenswander and I came back, not only had he read the Introduction, but he saw that it cited Moroni 10:3-5, so he found that and read it too, then he moved on to just starting in 1 Nefi 1!  And he loved everything he read!  He said he felt so good about it and wanted to learn more.  Then we had an amazing Restoration lesson with him, which he just soaked up.  

The second amazing lesson was with Otilio and Maria.  Elder Swan found them on his exchange and when we went back to teach them this week, Maria had read the entire Restoration pamphlet twice.   She said right when she read it the first time that she felt a sincere desire to want to learn more.  The Spirit was already testifying to her of the truthfulness of these things!  Otilio and her both said that recently they've been trying to bring themselves and their family closer to God because they knew that they would need his help in all things.  When we told them that the Book of Mormon would help them do just that, they promised us that as they went on their trip to Texas this week that they'd read and pray about it.  I'm excited to follow up on that with them!  

On top of all those, its been a great week!  We had Zone Training this week, which is always fun.  President Weston surprised all of us by showing up, so it was great to see him again and to learn from his counsel.  Our Zone is great.  I love being with these Elders and Sisters.  They're so much fun and their faith is so strong!  I'm excited for our back-to-back exchanges with the elders in Yankton and Vermillion, SD this week.  Its going to be a lot of fun!  
I hope you had a great week!
I love you!
Lots of love,
Elder Zack Paddock

Photo by Sister Weston
photo by Sister Weston
(see Elder Zack behind this missionary?)

photo by Elder Gower (Elder Zack has the camera)

Monday, June 15, 2015

Farewell Zone Conference

This week's Zone Conference was amazing.  It was defineitly the zone conference that I've gotten the most out of during my entire mission and I know that's due to the preparation that was put into by President and Sister Weston and the AP's.  It was the Weston's last Zone Conference and the last time that we'd be able to see them before they leave on the 30th.  
President first gave an amazing training on the Atonement.  We talked a lot about how important it really is for not only our investigators to use the Atonement, but for us as missionaries as well.  We talked about how much diligence plays a key part in applying the Atonement, how we have to be diligent to be able to find those who are ready.  We've been seeing that bring blessings already.
Sister Weston gave a training on change and why change is a good thing.  She talked all about President and Sister Gardner who will be replacing them and about how great they are.   She talked all about how important it is to let the Savior change you and allow him to be a bigger part of your life.  Don't be afraid of change.  Embrace it!
One of the coolest things though was right at the end when President gave all of us an "Exit Interview" just like he would normally give a missionary who was finishing their mission and going home.  He gave us tons of advice on what to look for in an eternal companion.  He was constantly saying "Go find your Sister Weston!"  He gave us lots of good counsel on that but I think that besides that he gave some very important counsel on a few very important things.  President commited all of us to do  three things for the rest of our lives.
#1 Read the Book of Mormon 30 minutes every day.  "If you can do that, I have no reason to worry about you," he said.
#2 Listen to, or read a conference talk every day.  Learn from the Living Prophets.
#3 Attend all church meetings.  Make the Sabbath a delight.  
I know that by doing those things that we'll always have the Spirit to be with us.  

Although I'm excited to meet and serve with President and Sister Gardner at the end of the month, I'll miss the Weston's like crazy.  They've been the best Mission Parents I could have ever asked for and I've learned so much from them. I'm happy that a few of us have a BBQ planned with them after we get back in October :)

I hope all is well with you!  Have a great week!
Elder Zack Paddock

Monday, June 8, 2015

It's Been a Weirder Week

This week has been one of the fastest moving, strangest, and most random weeks of my mission, and I've loved every minute of it.   It all got weird Tuesday morning when we got a text from the AP's saying, "How soon can you get to Crete?  President wants you to do an exchange with them ASAP."  Crete is not in our zone... its not even close!  Its 5 zones away and 3 hours of driving!  All we were told was that Elder Kummerman and his companion had been struggling and President wanted Elder Swan and I to get down there. 

Some of My Favorite Crete People

Crete Sunset

The Missouri River

The exchange itself just was awkward and great at the same time.  I actually enjoyed it a lot!  Being with Elder Kummerman again and working our old area was a lot of fun.  It was great to see those people that I grew to love so much!  The biggest thing I learned there was the importance of Patience, Charity, and Communication.  If you're lacking in those three things, being in any kind of relationship is extremely difficult and has an affect on the way things work around you, for example, in missionary work it has an affect on the progress of your area.  If you and your companion aren't on the same page ever outside of a lesson, why would it be any different going into the lesson?  That's the message we tried to convey to those Elders.  I hope things continue to improve!

The St. George Missionaries at MLC (Elder Clark (DHills),
myself, Sister Allen (PV), and Elder Chipman (DHills))
Also this week was MLC again.  It was President and Sister Weston's last MLC since they go back home to Logan, UT June 29th, which is absolutely crazy to me!  I'll miss them like crazy.  After some amazing trainings about the Sabbath Day reverence, which is something the entire church is focusing on right now, and how to make our District Meeting's more spriritual, the time was opened up to a Q and A session with President and Sister Weston.  Questions were asked about what they've learned, about what makes a great missionary, about some of their favorite moments, and other things along those lines.  Their testimonies about the truthfulness of this work and the love that God has for His children were strong and the Spirit was testifying of those things to me the entire time.
Sister Manning, Elder Gardner, Elder Bascom,
Elder Adams, and me. (We all go home together.

This week finished off with two giant miracles. 
#1 Jose came to church again!   He's progressing so fast and its so great to see!  He likes church too and is feeling the Spirit.  What more could we ask for?
#2 blew my mind.  Recently Elder Swan and I have been working really hard to build our area back up and we've been praying to find the people that are prepared by the Lord.  Yesterday we were out trying some potentials when Elder Swan said, "Lets go try that Past Investigator family that we found in the area book."  These people hadn't been taught for probably 5 years and we thought it'd be good to give them a shot.  A 22 year old kid answered the door and said, "Oh.  Hey guys.  What's up?"  The conversation went on to us finding out that his name was Angel, that he loved talking to us a while ago, that while he'd been in prison he read the Book of Mormon 2 or 3 times and had prayed and knew it was true.  After about 5 minutes of talking to him, we invited him to follow the answers he'd been given and to be baptized.  He said YES!  I know the Lord's been preparing him for a long time and I'm so excited to watch him progress towards July 18th!  

The Lord really does answer prayers.  He really does prepare people for us if we go out and search for them and follow the Spirit.  I love this work and I'm excited about  the good things that are happening in this area.  
Elder Robinson and I and the letter we got this week. 
The Clock's ticking.
(The letter talks about his release date & has a form to fill out
 about what airport he will fly into or whether his parents
will pick him up.  He will fly home at the end of September.)

Sunset from the Castle

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

Monday, June 1, 2015

What a Week

Spanish Missionaries of Sioux City
Guess who the new record holding missionary is for most time in Sioux City?  This Elder.  
Transfers happened this week and with that came the news that not only were Elder Swan and I staying together (Making us the "oldest" companionship in the mission) but 9/12 of the zone was staying together too!  Staying here for another transfer means that I'll serve over one year of my mission in this great city.  There's going to be some great things that happen this transfer, I can feel it.  And this Sunday showed that to me. 

Yesterday I felt prompted to ask Elder Swan if we should go over and knock on Jose and Emma's door 40 minutes before church to see if they were going to make it.  He said sure, so we went over and tried it.  When we got there, Emma and the girls were running around cleaning the house and Jose was literally half way through shaving his head.  They said they weren't going to be able to make it to the classes, but that they'd be there for Sacrament Meeting, which in the Spanish Branch is last.

Elder Swan and I were sitting up at the Sacrament Table when right before the Sacrament started, Jose and Emma came walking in.  I'm really surprised that I didn't just stand up and shout for joy right when it happened because that's exactly what I was doing in my head!  We've been trying to get Jose to come to church ever since we met him 18 months ago.    Not only did he come to church, but also 5 of the Less Active Members we've been working with came to church as well!  This transfer is off to a GREAT start!  

In other random news: Sister Jensen (My seminary teacher's daughter) joined our zone this week and we're excited to have her!  Its a small world when you're a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

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

Transfer Day
Elder Adams and I.  He left to go be a ZL in Omaha

Waiting for Transfer calls with NOM-opoly
(Properties are areas in the mission)