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Monday, March 28, 2016


The title of this email is one of my favorite easter traditions. Every
year for Easter I have read this wonderful little book on Easter
Sunday. Well, except for this year. But hey! I read the children's
book even in college. What a fun little tradition.
Yes, I know, that's not a very religious Easter tradition, but hey, my
Easter baskets were also filled with Cadbury Cremes and baseball
cards, so I've never been that big of Easter enthusiast in the first
place. However, the dying of Easter eggs has always had a soft spot in
my heart. And I'm sure that my dad has a soft spot in his heart for
them too, because after Easter he gets to eat them.
When I think of Easter, I think of family just as much as the savior.
Maybe I've missed the mark with this holiday, but Easter often
coincides with the LDS General conference. Conference is always a
great time to talk with family, discuss the talks given to us by
church leaders, and enjoy the spring season. Last year for Easter we
invited the missionaries over for a wonderful breakfast and a session
of general conference. I was thankful to watch such an exciting
broadcast with Elder L and Elder F. I thought about how I
would be in the same position in a year.
Easter and April conference go hand in hand for me. This time of year
is always filled with memories. One of my favorite sessions of
conference was one I missed half of! It was my sophomore year of high
school, and I had a double header for baseball where my coach got
thrown out of the first game. It was one of the best memories I have
of coach Clix. About the same time he was packing up his bag and
kicking dirt on home plate, Henry B. Eyring gave one of my favorite
talks ever, "Mountains to Climb." The next day President Uchtdorf
offered the heartfelt talk, "The Merciful Obtain Mercy", and Neil L.
Anderson finished with the introspective "What Thinks Christ of Me?"
Great conference.
Some other great conference talks in the past few years: "Lord, I
believe" (Holland,
April 2013) Help Them Aim High (Eyring, October 2012) The Plan of
Happiness (Packer, 2015) Is it Still Wonderful to you? (Causse, 2015)
Are we Not All Beggars? (Holland, October 2014) Faith is Not by
Choice, but by chance (Anderson, October 2015) living the Gospel
Joyful (Uchtdorf, October 2014), The Preisthood Man (Eyring, October
2013)  Be Anxiously Engaged (Ballard, October 2012)

Easter concerning the Savior:
At sacrament meeting yesterday I was invited to be a part of three
special musical numbers, all of which were very beautiful. My favorite
one was a little barbershop trio that I sang with. We did a solemn
rendition of "That Easter Morn." I would like to share the lyrics of
the second verse to the forgotten psalm.
"This morn renews for us that day
When Jesus cast the bonds away
Took living breath and conquered death."
Easter is that morning. Almost 2000 years ago Jesus Christ rose from
the garden tomb. It is this morning that comes in the springtime of
every year, in which we renew the sacred and joyous climax of history,
in which Jesus Christ, the embodiment of love, service, selflessness,
passion, and perfection broke the bands of death. He rose again, never
to fall again. That is the truth. And through him, we all shall rise
To me, this is the greatest message of hope, and proof of inherent
good that I know. If this world was to be filled with hate, grief,
sorrow, despair, selfishness, loathing, and depression, then the story
would have ended with Christ in the tomb. But Christ rose. He is
risen! And still rising  are all those who came onto this earth, and
all his followers are rising up from sin, and putting on their
beautiful garments. Yes, this world is a world of good. The world of
God rises above the clouds of darkness. It is full of light. It is
full of love.

Other news:
I love training so much. Elder W has been in Texas for only a
few days, and he is loving it here. His faith has brought so many
miracles. Our street contacting is amazing. We have been doing an
amazing job focusing on commitment invitations. Teaching is so simple.
It also helps he doesn't know enough to overload the investigator with
information yet, but hey. Positives! He has the fire. We have the
fire! I love it!
I ran into one of my buddies at BYU this week! I was with the Stony
Point elders while waiting for Elder W to come to Texas. It was
so funny. Turns out he lives in the Ward right next to where I'm
covering. We had a great reunion.

Enjoy the spring time. It's a wonderful life.
Elder Richard Hall

1. Ro and I, an amazing investigator. He loves us to death. He also
benches 465. I'm not joking
2. Me and M, my friend from BYU. It was awesome.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

March Madness, and the New Guy

I'm training! I got the official call from Elder T (the assistant,
who just happened to be one of my trainers) last night. I'm super
excited. New missionaries have this fire to them, it's a beautiful
combination of willingness and faith and constant learning. There
aren't very many moments of your life that match that feeling of
panic, adventure, and thrill. It'll be awesome. I don't know his name
of the new Elder yet, but I know he exists, and he is one of the two
elders that came out this transfer. I am staying in the Old Settlers
Ward for another six weeks. The next round of transfers will be the
week before mothers' day. That's crazy.
Before I go any further: can someone please do me a favor. I haven't
heard anything about the Golden State Warriors in weeks. Please tell
me they are still on track for having the best record ever. Please
tell me Steph Curry is the most amazing shooter since Maravich, if not
Okay, time to move on. Tuesday we and two other missionaries painted a
kitchen for some less actives in our Ward. It was super fun and I
managed to not get paint in myself. However, Elder Diaz swiped the
right half of my shirt with paint. Apparently it was not in the plans
to save that shirt. But the family loved the new look in the kitchen!
They said they owed us a few dinners and a lesson or two. Which is
great. Service softens the hearts of all people involved, both Those
who do it and those who receive it. It is a great way to express love
and willingness.
That night we got to finally give Al his Arabic Book of Mormon. I
don't know know if I have talked about Abdel before, but he has
traveled all across Asia and Africa for his job. I can't really
understand his accent, but I think he was in the oil industry. Somehow
he's in North Austin and he is really interested in Christianity. I
don't really know how far we can teach him, because he's told us Abdel
isn't even his real name, and he is very set in some Islam traditions,
but it'll be a wild ride.
That same night we taught Brother B's wife, who is Jewish. We
went over the spirit world, resurrection, and the afterlife. Really
interesting to see her point of view. She had a hard time
understanding the spirit world, but she enjoyed the lesson. She
apparently reads the Book of Mormon from time to time. Other than
that, she isn't progressing too well. But she does want to do temple
work for her family, so we are doing everything we can to help her get
there. It's hard though, when you don't believe Jesus Christ is your
savior, and you must be baptized to enter the temple.
Friday I fell ill. Not fun.
The rest of the week just feels like a blur. Saturday was one of the
windiest days I've ever experienced on a bike. Seriously. I felt like
I was back home, in the wind tunnel they call the Magic Valley. It was
been uncomfortably windy for about the past month or two, but Saturday
was the worst day yet. My throat has been getting windburn. Pretty
badly. I hope it doesn't anymore. The Ward asked me to sing in
sacrament next week for Easter. One of my favorites too.
This week wasn't filled with anything too special or too cool, so I'll
add on a thought I've been having.
Change is constant. In an experiment, there are constants, things that
never change,  but more constant than the constant in an experiment is
the presence of a variable. Change is inevitable. It is perpetual in
existence as well as motion. We cannot stop exterior changes from
existing. That is out of our ability.
However, reaction to the change, our own change, is controllable. It
is not always consistent, but it is within our power. Between stimulus
and response, there is a choice. Change is not the variable in the
equation of life, our decisions are the variable. And our decisions,
our mindset, our attitude, our faith, ourselves, have more weight and
importance in the equation than any other component. interpretive
communities, false binaries, socioeconomic status, hyperreality, and
predicted simulation affect you- to a point. But when you reach that
point, the output to the experiment of life is determined by you.
Follow the guidance of Thomas S. Monson. "Decisions Determine

Elder Richard Hall

1. The district! Filled with great missionaries, but not the best photo
2. Me and the S girls, Isabelle and A

Monday, March 14, 2016

Couldn't decide on a title

There was too many good titles for this week. So here's a list of some of the ones I almost did.

The C got baptized
I like fish, and mango pickle
The delicate sound of thunder wasn't so delicate
"Bring Him Home" is a bad song to listen to on a mission
There's a Gerbil nesting in my bag
Riders on the Storm
The GOP Debates in Texas are a second super bowl 
Electric Sliiiiiiiiiiiide
Missing March Madness Like Crazy

Yep. Wild week. We've had so much on our plate it's been ridiculous. This area just keeps throwing stuff at me and Eldee M. Hopefully, we have made adjustments and dine better planning for this week, so we'll be prepared.
First thing's first: the Cs got baptized! It was an amazing service. Tons of people came to it, including our mission president and his wife! We got to sit next to him and the Georgetown elders. One of the elders covering Georgetown was my MTC companion. It felt way good to be reunited with him after so long, and at a baptism! It made me feel complete, since we weren't able to attend the baptismal service of the woman we taught at the MTC. But here we are, together again, watching a very special family entering into a covenant with God. The C are amazing. They were so happy at the service. C couldn't stop smiling, and Kevin actually smiled for once. This was a moment I'll never forget. It's one I'll tell to the kids.
I got to talk to my mission president afterwards. I told him he could trust me with anything, which he then said, "I know, in fact.." And then he gave me my transfer information a week in advance. I would tell you what's happening, but he told me not to. And he does trust me...

We had dinner with a less active family in our Ward, the S. Contrary to her name, Sister S is Catalan/Pakistani/Puerto Rican and she loves to cook for missionaries. We had the most delicious rice and fish, and she made us eat with our hands. Including a mango pickle. Let me tell you, Mango Pickle is awful. "I like fish and mango pickle" is a lyric from a song, but is very misleading. Don't eat mango pickles.

Tuesday night was the first time I've ever been disrupted from sleep by thunder. It was ridiculously loud. At first I thought someone turned on the garbage disposal in our room, but nope! It was thunder. Some of the lighting was so close to our apartment it lit up the whole room at midnight, followed by a loud crack of thunder. I laid awake for quite a while until I got used to the noise. Man alive was it loud. 

It's been rainy all week. Except for Sunday. It was another Pleasant Valley Sunday, but my goodness, the rest of the week has been wet. There was a lesson we had Wednesday night with a part member family that we couldn't find a ride to. It wasn't coming down too bad, so we thought we could get there without getting too wet.
We were wrong. Well, it didn't help that we got lost. We took a left of Phil Mickelson Drive instead of getting onto Lord Byron Cove (yes, these are the street names. The whole neighborhood is intertwined with a fancy golf course, and all the streets have awesome golf names. There's a golden bear drive next to the Arnie way. Gotta love the HOA) and we ended up a mile away from the appointment. We were soaked. We had to sit on towels and throw our bags in the dryer. We got a ride back to the apartment from the nonmember husband (who was an outfielder for the Cardinals, fun fact) and we both took showers before we planned for the night. 
That would have been okay, but we got caught in the rain every night except Saturday. 
Friday morning it was real bad. We were getting out of a lesson and it was pouring rain. I slipped off my bike and slid across a bridge for a good 30 feet. If it wasn't raining, I would have torn my pants ankle to hip and the cement would have left a nice scar on my leg. But hey, sometimes your blessings come in disguise.

We are teaching the Ry family. The father (Richard) used to attend the LDS church a lot with his cousin when he lived in Utah, and now he wants to know what we really believe in. We had the best restoration lesson I've had on my mission with him. We asked what he would do if there was a prophet on the earth and he said, "I would follow him! He's a man of God! If only there was a prophet that God called on the earth." Well, Richard, let me tell you about this church. He also already believed Jesus Christ visited America, so the Book of Mormon was an amazing concept for him. He wouldn't commit to be baptized, which makes me wonder, but he's excited to meet with us again. 
Also, his son is a Junior in high school and is being scouted by the Cardinals as a pitcher. For being 17, this guy is a mammoth. He's 6'3" and built like an athlete. He throws 91 as a righty and has the lowest ERA out of any pitcher in the Austin private schools. He said he'd find a lefty glove for me so we can play catch. If I cannot baptize you, I will become your best friend.

This week was wild, all over the place. I wish it didn't rain so much! We tried our best not to let it slow down the work, and I feel the lord has blessed us for our efforts. Even with all the rain, This week was amazing. Time's going by way too fast!

Elder Richard Hall

1. The Mission President and wife, The C and the Hs, and Elder M and I. I got to confirm K on Sunday!
2. My MTC Companion, Elder B, at a Zone Meeting we had Wednesday. I saw him twice this week after not seeing him in forever.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A Break For a Long, Nontraditional Email

We are going fishing with the coolest member ever this P-day, so I
don't have much time, but I did want to send out this lengthy letter,
because I thought it would be fun. So I'll write personal emails again
next week. Sorry. But this one is fun.

The other day during personal studies I was looking at Preach my
Gospel to notice that one of the studies it offers outlines the
doctrine found in the hymnal and songbook. It made me think about the
power of music and lyrics. In the doctrine and covenants it says that
"the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me, and it shall be
answered with a blessing upon their heads." (D&C 25:12) truly, when we
sing, we are giving our praise unto God. It is this scripture that
stuck into my mind, and made me wonder about some of the things in the
hymn book and over church songs.

I decided that as a missionary I need to use my special witness of
Christ. I have been called as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, and
I and Elder M are his representatives for the people of Round
Rock. We are given a special calling to preach repentance and testify
of the church of Jesus Christ. My mind came to one of my favorite
children's songs, which testifies gently but powerfully of the Jesus,
who is the Christ. Who is the only begotten Son of God. My testimony
of Christ and his atonement is the most important power I have in the
world, and it is yours too.

He Sent His Son, Children's Song book 34
"How could the father tell the world of love and tenderness? He sent
his son a newborn babe, with peace and holiness. How could the father
show the world he pathway we should go? He sent his son to walk with
men on earth that we may know. How could he father tell the world of
sacrifice and death? He sent his son to die for us, and rise with
living breath. What father ask of us? What do the scriptures say? Have
faith have hope, live like his son, help others on their way. What
does he ask? Live like his son"

Along with my special witness of Christ is a truly special witness of
Christ, an apostle of his church. The hymnal is filled with prophets
of God in these latter days who have poetically described their
knowledge of truth. These names include Orson F. Whitney (The Wintry
Day Ascending to its Close, a strange one, but pretty), Bruce R.
McConkie (I Believe in Christ), Gordon B. Hinckley (My Redeemer
Lives), and the most recent apostle who has a song in the hymnal? Lee
Tom Perry. His is a slow and pondering tribute to the emblems of
Christ that we can take every week- the sacrament. It is a great poem
of restitution.

As now we take the sacrament, Hymnal 169
"As now we take the sacrament our hearts are turned to thee. Thou son
of God who lived for us then died on Calvary. We contemplate thy
lasting grace, thy boundless charity. To us the gift of life given for
all eternity.
As now our minds review the past we know we must repent, the way to
thee is righteousness the way thy life was spent. Forgiveness is a
gift from thee we seek with pure intent. With hands now pledged to do
thy work we take the sacrament.
As now we praise thy name with song, the blessings of this day. Will
linger in our thankful hearts, and silently we pray. For courage to
accept by will, to listen and obey. We love thee lord our hearts are
full. We'll walk thy chosen way."

This is a simple song, one that I can't help but the chills when I
listen to the Mormon tabernacle choir sing. It is simple and shows the
love of god better than most songs. The power of God is real, he is
there. And this is a striking little rhyme that is too profound to be
anything else but true.

I Feel my savior's love, children's songbook. 74
"I feel my savior's love. In all the world around me. His spirit warms
my soul through all I do and say.
I feel my savior's love. It's gentleness enfolds me. And when I kneel
to pray, my heart is filled with peace.
I feel my savior's love and know that he will bless me. I offer him my
heart; my shepherd he will be.
He knows I will follow him. Give all my life to him.
I feel my savior's love. He love he freely gives me."

Who are some of the authors in our hymnal? What words get sung in the
halls of the church? Joseph Smith, William W. Phelps, and... Rudyard
Kipling? Yes, the man who wrote the Jungle Book and one of my favorite
short stories is also in the hymnal. Most people are familiar with the
song right after it, "Press Forward Saints", but "God our Fathers,
Known of Old" slips right in there. It skips in there. Other
interesting authors in the church songs- Francis Scott Key (n. 340),
St. Francis of Assisi (n. 62), Karl Maeser's wife (n. 269 cs), and
Henry Longfellow (n. 214)

God our fathers, known of Old (n. 80)
"God of our Fathers, known of old, lord of our far flung battle line,
beneath whose awful hand we hold dominion over palm and pine: Lord God
of Hosts, be with us yet. Lest we forget, Lest we forget.
The tumult and the shouting dies; the captains and the Kings depart.
Still stands thine ancient sacrifice, an humble and a contrite heart.
Lord God of hosts, be with us yet. Lest we forget, lest we forget.
Far-called our navies melt away; on dune and headland sinks the fire.
Lo, all our pomp of yesterday is one with Nineveh and Tyre! Judge of
the nations, spare us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget."

You know who else is in the songbook? Every famous musician from the
classical era ever! Including George F. Handel, Felix Mendelssohn,
Franz Schubert, Johan Sebastian Bach, and the ever impressive
Tchaikovsky. Some of my favorite musicians from the golden age have
navigated their way into quite a bit of the church's singing canon.
This one itself comes from the one and only Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

I pledge myself to love the right, children's songbook 161
"I pledge myself to love the right, the good, the fair, the true. To
keep my faith in honor bright in everything I do"

The last one I'll out on is one from W.W. Phelps. I was best friends
with Corey, Conner, and Aaron Phelps back in California. We were a
bunch of little rascals back in the day, but man did we have some fun
together. Turns out, they are direct descendants to this man, W.W.
Phelps. He himself has a great story of his journey into and out of
and back into the church, and I like to read about it at times. It
shows that hardship will happen, choices will be made, and even though
it's hard to go back, if it is worth it, then we need to do it. The
cost of discipleship may be at any size, but it will always be enough.
This sing in patrician was chosen because I remember a couple in that
little Linden Ward back in California. The wife had this beautiful
voice that was so nice, but her husband was tone-deaf. It was
hilarious to hear him sing it, because he could never hit the high
note. He would get sharp and run over it. Good times. Also, the lyrics
show the different Christian culture the lds church is a part of. Now
is the day of salvation, and now we are in oppression. We are the
opening into the gates of heaven. Members of the church have such a
powerful grasp of the gathering of Israel compared to many other
Christian Faiths, and it is fun to read this from a Protestant point
to of view.

Now let us rejoice, hymnal n. 3
"Now let us rejoice in the day of Salvation. No longer as strangers on
earth need we roam. Good tidings are sounding to us and each nation
and shortly the hour of redemption will come!
We'll love one another and never dissemble but cease to do evil and
ever be one. And when the ungodly are fearing and tremble we'll watch
for the day when the savior will come.
In faith we'll rely on the arm of Jehovah to guide thru these last
days of trouble and gloom and after the scourges and harvest are over
we'll rise with the just when the savior doth come
Then all that was promised, the saints will be given and none shall
molest them from morn until ev'n. And earth shall appear as the garden
of Eden. And Christ and his people will ever be one."

I got to go catch me an alligator gar now with Brother Martin, but I
promise I will get back to you on an individual basis within the
coming weeks. I might even have time to write to my mom and pop right

Elder Richard Hall