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Monday, January 25, 2016

I've Had Adele Stuck in my Head All Week

Except for everything that did happen this week, which was a lot. To be honest with you, everything is getting to a point where days are blurry. I was in an interview with the mission president last week and he asked me what time we got back to the apartment on New Years' Eve. I thought about it for a while, and he was giving me a weird look. Finally I gave up and said, "President, which day was New Years' Eve?" 
That is a real story.
But seriously, please disregard the giant caps lock sentence at the beginning of this email. There was a ton of stuff that happened this week. 

One of the highlights of my week was meeting with Brother S and his daughter. Brother S is way cool. He is one of the two converts in our ward that recently moved in and also recently converted from Judaism. His wife is a member who can't come to church because she works on Sundays. He can't come to church because he has severe leukemia, and their two year old daughter has cystic fibrosis. It's a little saddening to think about, especially when you hear Brother S's testimony of the Book of Mormon. That man knows that it is a Book from God. He loves the church and what it stands for, and he has such a happiness to him. 
It's always a good time when we go to the Skevingtons, mainly because they don't get a whole lot of visitors, so when they get visitors, they love them to death. Also, you probably won't meet a man more at peace with his situation than he is. He stays home all day with his little daughter, while his wife works as a manager for a toy store. They have all of these little toys and gadgets lying around in their apartment. He has a giant beard he's growing out for the world's beard and mustache exhibition being held in Austin. His overall attitude is jolly, and he loves elders. I am always so grateful for the times we get to visit him. It always is a spiritual and uplifting experience. An olive leaf of missionary work.

We have a new elder in the apartment! I'm sure that I have neglected to tell you that we live with another companionship of elders living in the apartment, and they are super fun. One of them being one of my first companions, Elder A. His old companion, Elder G, just got emergency transferred, and was replaced by Elder D. My first district leader! Now he's in the apartment and it is a party every night. Fun fact, Elder Goeckeritz was on the Lone Peak high school basketball team, one of the four teams in the last 20 years to go undefeated all year. Elder D was on Plainville High School's, on one of the other four basketball teams that went undefeated in the last 20 years. He's really, really good at basketball. 

The T's came to church this week! The T's are a reactivating family from Samoa who are seeing some good things happening in their life. Their home teacher has been working with us to get them back to activity in the church. At first things were a little rough, but now they've come to church for three straight weeks! And every time they see us they come over and give us hugs, from their little eight year old daughter their monstrous father. He is about 6'3" and all muscle. He gives surprisingly gentle hugs though. They also are some of the funniest people to have dinner with too. Islanders are worse than Mexicans when it comes to dinner. They made us Pork Chops AND Grilled Chicken for us on Sunday, with roasted potatoes, carrots, pepper, etc.four slabs of meat a piece for me and Elder M. It was delicious, but way too much food. Brother T said he's going to go boar hunting so he can cook us a pig Poly-style. It's going to be heavenly.

This week we saw a true miracle happen. It seemed like the whole week we were scheduling lessons with our progressing investigators and then seeing them fall through. Just this repeated cycle. I'd say 8 of the 25- or so lessons we scheduled actually happened. We usually get about 8-15 lessons a week in this area, but this week we were a little deflated because of the potential greatness we missed out on. Anyways, our effort did not go to waste. After seeing the hundredth lesson fall through for the week, we both decided to try by a less active woman that no one has even heard of. We thought it wouldn't hurt to try by, especially with all our plans going down the drain, and it turned out to be amazing! She had us come by Saturday so we could teach her whole family. They agreed to take all the lessons and to try coming back to church! Her kids awesome. Before we left they wanted to take a Polaroid picture of us. And then they gave us the most delicious banana bread. OH MY GOSH. It was good. We are super excited for the Walters as they start their journey towards Christ.

Life is good. Life is always good. This week was an up week, and some weeks are down weeks. What makes the difference is the attitude. God looks at everything in the best possible light. He is full of grace and mercy. He is full of love. God is love!

I didn't even get to write about half the things I wanted to. But hey, the beach volleyball court is calling my name. It's 70 degrees here, baby!

Elder Richard Hall

Monday, January 18, 2016


Sometimes you just don't understand the will of Lord, but you like how
it turns out. Just about every single set lesson we had this week fell
through in great devastation; usually with a confused member behind us
going, "they probably aren't avoiding you." Wow, you're optimistic.
And no, our investigators are not avoiding us. However, we have a lot
of good contacts and drop-by lessons, which balanced out with our poor
luck with the set lessons. And, our star investigators, the C
family, came to church, as well as a ton of less active families that
we have been working with. It was a breath of fresh air to see the
fruits of our work come to pass. It made me very grateful to see that
there are people out there with a real desire to change their life and
come unto Christ. I love being a part of it all.
Wednesday and Saturday were two of the more memorable days of the
mission that I've had so far. They were filled with special occasions
and fun times. I'm glad that they were filled with memories because
this week just flew by. Honestly I don't know where time goes, but it
goes, and it goes fast.
Wednesday I got to go on an exchange with Elder G. Companion
exchanges always seem to have a specialty to them. The learning
experiences you have are astonishing.
First, a few things about Elder G. He played for basketball
at alone Peak High School. He was on the national championship team
there. The one that throttled Jabari Parker's Simeon High School,
Andrew Wiggin's crew, and averaged 110 points per game in state ball.
He's a triplet, and he's one of the most beautiful people you ever
meet. I was going to send a picture home of the two of us, but people
would go crazy at the accumulative attractiveness of the two of us.
He's been out on his mission six months now. Awesome, awesome guy. A
monster at basketball.
Anyways, our exchange started with a lesson that fell through. Elder
Goeckeritz was so upset he almost broke his toe kicking the curb. Very
passionate man. A few hours later we contacted this man who was dead
set on convincing us there was no God. Elder Goeckeritz was having
none of it, and they got into it for about 20 minutes. Finally, I just
asked the man.
"Sir, do you have faith?"
"I have faith in science."
"Do you want to have faith in God?"
"No, because he doesn't exist."
"Sir, I have faith in God. In fact, I know he exists. I know he made
the heavens and earth, he even created science. The thing is, your
faith takes millions of years to move a mountain, but my faith takes
just a few seconds to move it."
He sat there and thought about it, and then we very courteously said
thank you and we went our ways. It was a great learning experience for
Later that day, after an excellent lesson with two girls from Brazil,
we went to the basketball courts at the park to shoot a few hops and
see if anyone was open to a message. Elder Goeckeritz and I tore it up
for about minutes then shared a message about prayer with TJ and Gary,
who both came from rough backgrounds and lived for basketball. We are
going to go and teach them how to pray this week- at least we plan to.
It was eye opening to see their background and experiences. Between
that, almost watching someone die, and having an amazing lunch for
less than five dollars at Taco Bell, it was a one of a kind exchange.
Saturday was a mix of everything. It was highlighted by a contact we
had with an old Japanese woman. She walked up to us, after scowling at
us from across the street for a solid minutes, and very politely said,
"you guys are so sexy!" She was joking, which makes it even funnier.
Turns out Yong, a 78 year old lady who survived the Tokyo bombings in
WWII and walks everywhere, is really interested in our church. She
said that we could come by any time with as many friends as she
wanted. It was a great moment, a nice way to recover from the 120
dollars he had to spend replacing parts bike that morning. Poor guy.
Friday night he was trucking it up a hill, and his metal pedal sheared
off. It was a miracle.
Well, we have had a wild week. I hoe we keep it up!

Elder Richard Hall

Oh, and it's supposed to be 70 here on Wednesday. These awful Texas winters

Monday, January 11, 2016

Fighting the Good Fight

I am a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ,
called of Him through prophecy and revelation,
and assigned to serve in the Texas San Antonio Mission.
I have been sent to teach repentance and baptize converts.
This is who I am and this is why I am here!
I invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the
restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement,
repentance, baptism, receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and
enduring to the end.
My decision has been made. I've put my hand to the plough. I've
crossed the line.
So as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Every Sister, every Elder, all in!

This is the new purpose statement that our mission president has given
all missionaries. Whenever there is a district meeting or zone
conference or any missionary-oriented meeting, everyone recites these
powerful lines. Before this purpose statement there was this one.

I have been called of Jesus Christ through inspiration to serve in the
Texas San Antonio Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day
I will boldly invite others to come unto Christ by helping them
receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and his
atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving  the gift of the Holy Ghost,
and enduring to the end
I will stand for truth and return with honor.
"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."

Both of these purpose statements are very powerful, but you can see a
shift of culture in the new one. This statement is very much a
manifestation of belief, it does not focus of the willingness to serve
so much as the service we are doing right now. It puts a bigger
emphasis on commitment, conviction. I love it. The whole mission is
trying to catch on fire. Our president is challenging us to double the
amount of baptisms we have per month, and we're all getting behind it.

This week was crazy. Last Monday it got up to about 65 degrees, which
meant that the zone leaders and some other missionaries came over to
play some beach volleyball at our complex. Yes, I played beach
volleyball in January. In the United States. However, the weather
never got any better for the rest of the week. It actually got much,
much worse. The wind here is awful. It cuts through all the layers you
put on. I don't understand it. Luckily, it only gets windy every once
in a while, so usually we're fine.

There was one night where it was particularly warm. On this night I
got to participate in one of the coolest things ever- Pros-ball. Elder
M and I were biking through one of our favorite parks in the
afternoon when we saw the usual bunch playing basketball on the
outdoor court. I decided I would try seeing if any of them were
interested in a message of Christ. So I made a deal with them. If my
team won, Elder M and I got to share a message of the
Restoration with them, if we lost, my team had to get dunked on by
Roman, the local hoops junky. It was a great way to spend 20 minutes
of the afternoon, busting out the old basketball skills In my shirt
and tie. Everyone there was a street baller; cagey on the drives, lots
of isolation moves, poor ball handling. I was able to wreck the
rebounds and steal a couple passes. Unfortunately, R was a little
too good for me, and they ended up beating us. We weren't able to
teach a lesson, but we passed around cards with our contact
information. We were all tight by the end of it. Pretty fun times.

Thursday we had dinner with the S family. Their nonmember nieces
from Recife, Brazil were visiting them at the time. Turns out they are
super interested in the church! Both of their parents are less active
members, but I and M were introduced to it by their aunt
and uncle. The two girls spoke fairly good English, but the mother had
to translate most of the two lessons we've had with them so far.  They
came to church on Sunday and really liked it. It helped that their
Sunday School teacher, Brother V, is also Brazilian. They also
want to go to college in the states and heard about BYU, now they
really want to go there. Unfortunately, I and M will be
leaving back to Recife on Saturday, but they were more than willing to
have missionaries over back home. That would be so cool. Elder
M and I will get to send a referral across a continent! That's
way exciting. You don't hear that everyday.

So, none of you reminded me about D, which is fine, because he is
an investigator and I shouldn't forget about him. Anyways, last
Saturday we had a lesson with Dahir. We were planning on teaching
about the Plan of Salvation, but D had other plans. He had a lot-
and I mean a lot - of questions about the fall of Adam. I probably got
more light and understanding about the garden of Eden and the gift of
agency out of those 60 minutes we spent answering meticulous, deep
questions than if I sat down with Adam himself. D kept sending
question after question, outlining these beautiful ideas and doctrine
that most members don't even think about. Here I was, talking to this
guy from Somalia about the purpose of transgression in a house in
Round Rock Texas that has It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia playing
softly in the background. And finally, at the end of our discussion,
he paused, took a moment, and said, "This is all the will of God. This
is his plan for us. This book contains great truth." Crazy, crazy

We have a new Ward mission leader in the Old Settlers Ward. His name
is L M, and he was actually in the Taylor Ward during the
time that my brother served in this area! Yes, My brother Keith is a
true TSAMer just as I am. Brother M served in the TSAM as well.
He has a real fire of the restoration. He is learning Korean so he can
share the gospel with his coworkers. He says he wants us to have 25
lessons a week, 15 of them being lessons taught to investigators
referred by members. Currently, we're running about 10-15 lessons a
week, and we thought we were busy already. We are busy already! It's
going to be a fun couple of months.

It was an awesome week. If this week will be anything like the last
one, I'm going to have a blast.

Until then,
Elder Richard Hall

Monday, January 4, 2016

Did you know it gets cold in Texas?

It's sweater weather down here in Round Rock. Actually, a little more
than sweater weather. Gets a little too nippy for my liking on the
bikes when it gets dark, but hey, we have work to do. Tuesday night my
ears were about to fall off from the whipping wind, so at 6:30 at
night we made a very rare exception and went to the WalMart to grab
some ear warmers. It was either that or loose my ookoos.
Other than the weather, life has been great. On Thursday night (I
suppose that's  New Years Eve for the rest of the world) we had dinner
with the C and M families. No, I'm not making these
names up. The M are recent converts that live in the
Georgetown Ward, which is just yonder North about 10miles yea. They
are also the parents to Christina C, who is planning on bing
baptized soon with her husband. We had an excellent dinner that
featured Jewish delicacies, like matzah balls and chavalah, or however
you spell it. Why? I have no idea, both families are Catholic.
Everything was going great until they asked us to stick around and
play Settlers of Catan with them. Now let's get this straight. I hate
Settlers of Catan. I know I just ruined a lot of friendships at BYU,
but I'm not about that game. Also, it would be a poor use of prime
proselyting time. We're also discouraged to play games outside of
preparation days with members. You should have seen the look on
Brother Senkunda's face when we told him that we didn't feel
comfortable playing boggle with him. Sorry Brother S. Fun fact,
he was a world class breakdancer from Uganda. Now he's the Ward Sunday
School President.
Speaking of Judiasm, we got to visit the B! These people are
actually Jewish! Well, Brother B is now a member of the
church, but he was religiously Jewish only 2 years ago. Sister
B is hilarious. She is so sweet, so nice. she'll talk the ear
off a horse. She likes coming by and talking to her. She even came to
church not too long ago, but isn't very interested. We go over there
mainly for Brother Baranowski. He was attending church regularly until
he got a heart attack a few months back. Now his work schedule shifted
to Sunday. He is very nice, and likes to talk about Christ with his
wife. P thinks Jesus was a communist. It's fun to go over
there. They are having us for lunch on Thursday. What's in the menu?
Shellfish. Of course.
I would like to take some time telling you some of the mishaps that
have made me think that I'm getting a new companion soon. I am sure
that Elder M is going to die very soon. He's not very good on
a bike. On Monday, we were biking past an HEB parking lot, and he was
blowing past on the sidewalk next to the road. he didn't even see the
truck that was parked right in front of him. I thought he was going to
be crushed, going straight into the truck. He was saved at the last
second as the truck got out of the way of him. The next day he was
about six inches away from plowing over an old man checking his mail.
It was the grace of God that caused his wheels to finally unlock.
Wednesday on exchanges with Elder G and Elder M bumped
into his back wheel and toppled over. Thursday his chain fell off at
9:00 after a lesson, and after he finally got the chain back on he ran
over a nail the size of my finger. Lets just say we walked home the
rest of the way. Oh, a Elder M, not only have I given up
spelling your name correctly, but you also scare me every time you get
on the horse.
I got to go on an exchange wit Elder A this week! Elder A is my
district leader, and he was one of the four missionaries that trained
me. I was so excited to be back with one of my old companeros. We
worked hard and long and good. It was awesome to see how far both of
us have progressed since we were back in Cibolo/Randolph wards. I was
just a few days out when I joined him and Elder Tovar, and these six
months since, I have seen miles and miles of improve tent and
knowledge and strength grow with me, as well as him. I'm glad we got
to reunite for a day and take the world by glorious storm. It was
almost like a gift from the mission president to put me and Elder Acor
back in the same district, as a way to say, "here, go show him how far
you've come."
Let's see how far I've come. The last time I was with my family was
June 2015. I weighed 145 pounds. I never had brisket before in my
life. I couldn't tell you exactly what the restoration was, but I knew
it. I had a hard time talking to anyone on the street. I had a fear of
calling people. I never studied the scriptures as you do on a mission.
It's 2016. I weigh around 175 (mostly muscle, I promise). Brisket and
ribs are my favorite meal. I can tell you just about anything about
the restoration you cold ask about, as well as God's plan for us and
the gospel of Jesus Christ, as well as the commandments he has given
us.  I try to talk with every person I meet. I make important phone
calls every day. I milk every last verse out of the scriptures. I love
working hard. I love being on a mission. They say that missionaries
mature fast during the mission. I think they're right.
Elder Mighelstin and I have to get going. Remember to ask me about
Dahir the investigator that should be an apostle, and Ryan
Bartholemew, the man that doesn't believe Joseph Smith was a prophet,
but believes in the Book of Mormon.

Elder Richard Hall

P.S. I have never sent my new address! It is

These are nookies they are deep fried cookie dough balls with sauce.
They come from a magical place called Torchy's. It is a mile down the
This is a picture of a heifer end Elder Hall after a cold day on the
bikes. Fun day.