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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Be of Good Cheer!

To my family, friends, and Yankees fans,

Yes, that especially means you, Nikole,

If only I could have your undivided attention to sit down and talk
with you, share the best of the best stories, show you how I've
changed and become something better, give you the best pieces of
advice I have and the most powerful spiritual experiences from this
week, I might be able to finish telling you about it next Monday.
But we don't have that luxury, so I'll do what I can today.
Last Monday the missionaries in the greater Round Rock area got to
sing the national anthem at a triple-A baseball game. The stadium was
really nice for being a minor league place. It was rainy, so the
stands weren't as packed as you would like it. But we got to sing to a
thousand, up to three thousand or so people, my guess is. That's a
very lame estimate, I know, but still, that's a lot of people.
Singing wasn't much of a big deal for me. I'm a theater guy. It was
small potatoes. But being on the field. Watching Willson Ramos, Joey
Gallo, Jurickson Profar, and Jose Ciriaco warm up 50 feet away from me
was amazing. I know, you probably don't know any of these names, but I
knew them! It was so great to see them, and to be in a baseball
stadium again. Baseball is such a special sport to me. I love it so
I also finally got to meet Jeff Kent! Jeff Kent is a member of the
church and also the 2000 NL MVP, and I got to talk to him for about 3
minutes. I'll be honest, I was a little nervous to talk with him. This
guy was in the big leagues! He swung with Barry Bonds, played on the
same fields as Roger Clemens, got to throw seeds at Eric Gagne's space
goggles in the dugout, talk ball with Dusty Baker, he is my childhood
if my childhood was a 6'2 man in a Leather Jacket and boots! It was a
little dream that came true for me to meet him. He almost took a
selfie with me so I could send it to my brothers, but we had to get
going. It's a shame. A real shame. But I did tell him just how much it
meant to me that I got to meet him.
He also said that no one is going to know the real story about the
pressure washer until the millennium.
Alright, so probably about half of you understood what was going on in
the last few paragraphs, but the half that did understand it probably
really appreciated it. Moving on!
We had ten hours of service this week. Between that, meetings, and the
occasional sickness from Elder W, it felt like there wasn't
much time to proselyte this week. Those weeks are always hard, because
when you lose the chance to go out and work, you are aching to go out.
Thursday Elder W and I got the feeling that we need to refocus
our efforts on teaching and having more set appointments with members
present, and ever since we have asked the lord for help in our goal,
and now we have multiple lessons set up for every day of the week,
including tonight. It's amazing to see the power of faithful prayer.
For all those reading: God hears our prayers. We are his children, and
he wants us to be successful. He knows what is best for us, he knows
exactly what are situation is. Don't be afraid to be humble.
It takes courage to be humble. One of our families we are working with
is a great example of the courage it takes to be humble. Nicole is a
less active member of the church, but she wants to start coming back
to church with her nonmember fiancé, Bob. Bob is covered head to toe
in tattoos. He's taller than most people, he drives a Harley, he
doesn't talk that much. But hey, he has come to church for the last
three weeks, and is seriously considering baptism. But you can see
that he has some reservations about getting to know more of the
members in the congregation. If you are familiar with LDS
congregations, you know Bob doesn't look like me. But the Ward wants
to reach out and befriend him. It is going to take courage for Bob to
realize that he is welcome into the Ward family. But courage comes at
a price.
This Friday three people had the courage to be baptized! They were in
the Stony Point Ward. The elders that serve there live with us, so it
has been a great time listening to them come home and talk about how
excited they are for this family. He have been so excited for this
baptism. We attended the baptism. It was fantastic.
Training is the best. Elder W is doing great. He still has some
things to learn, but his fire is unmatchable, and we have the time of
my life.
I'm doing great. The Ward members here are amazing. The work is going
great, our district is flourishing. We only have eight days left in
the transfer. Zoinks! This has been going by too fast! Like,
seriously, by the end of this transfer, I'll be out the same amount of
time that Elder Acor was out when he was training me. That is crazy.
Well, I hope you are all having a great week. Hopefully ours has a
little less rain this week around.

Elder Richard Hall

Picture Time!
1. Elder S, Elder D, Elder W and I at Dell Diamond
before we left. Special moment.
2. Once again, Dell Diamond.
3-6. So, there was one night where we got done from planning, and the
apartment decided to take some pictures. Here are a few of the

Monday, April 18, 2016

Brotherly Love

This week, Elder W was sick. But luckily, we were able to do a
fair amount of proselyting. We saw a lot of miracles out there. I am
always so amazed at the power of God. If we remain faithful in our
actions and obey the commandments given to us, we can always expect
accordant blessings. What usually surprises me about the miracles is
that I never expect the amount of spiritual impact that they can have
on you.
This Saturday we received a referral for a less active member whose
fiancé was interested in the church. They came to church last week,
and honest to goodness, no one noticed. Even still, they really
enjoyed it and came back again this week! We sat next to them, and
this time, it felt like almost every member talked to them. The less
active member is loving being back at church. She sang all the hymns
and intently to the lessons. Her boyfriend, who is covered head to toe
in tattoos, was greeted warmly and like a new member. It is wonderful
to see just how prepared this Ward is to do missionary work. The
momentum is shifting. From when I first entered the area about 4
months ago,the Ward still felt new and a little overwhelmed by the
sheer amount of members who were moving in and joining the
congregation. Now that the flux of new members is stopping, it feels
like the members are looking to get their friends and neighbors coming
to church as well.
Our recent convert family, the C, our doing fantastic. We were
able to watch "Prophet of the Restoration" with them. The movie ends
with the martyrdom of Joseph Smith, a spiritual and powerful scene to
watch with someone whose testimony of Joseph Smith is so young. At the
end, Christina looked over at us with a bit of shell shock, and said,
"That movie was so depressing." Yes, yes it was. But my goodness, it
shows the marvelous life of Joseph Smith so well. They loved it, and
also came to a realization of just how much opposition the church ran
into during the early years. It's wonderful to see people's
testimonies grow.
This week, my thoughts go back to my siblings. Last week my mom, as
well as one or two siblings notified me that it was Siblings day. This
made me think of a few things.
1. We are all sons and daughters of a living God. He created every
single one of us, and we are eternally indebted to him. Because he is
the father of our spirits, we are brothers and sisters in the spirit.
Once we come to realize this universal connection that we have with
everyone, we have an obligation to love and serve them. I love knowing
that we are all given life from the same God, and we find the
remainder, the essence of our heavenly parents within other people. We
can also find the essence of the adversary in those who forgot the
identity of who they are, where they came from, and how to act
2. I have not seen my siblings all in the same place for a while. My
brother Keith notified me that it has been almost two years since we
have been in the same place. It was the summer of 2014 at Yuba City,
California. It will be another 14-15 months or so, until we are all in
the same place again. Perhaps longer. I do miss my siblings
3. I have had the experience of living in a house with multiple
siblings, and being in the house as an only child. There is a
difference. The last sibling other than me left the house when I was
entering high school. At that moment, I felt like our house was much
emptier. I noticed my parents started coming to more of my activities,
and asking more about things that were going on in my life. They were
using a 5-child strategy on a 1-child household. It creates an
interesting effect. Luckily, sibling rivalry came with the
grandchildren. I was jealous, but the competition was healthy. It's
strange. Pride is competitive, but competition is healthy. Think about
4. Our association with our brothers and sisters differs from our
association with people out of bloodline. We all act more naturally
with those we grew up with than with those we meet o the street.
Sometimes wards give themselves an additional title. "The Ward
family," to help unify the congregation as one, and to show the trust
they have in one another. What would happen if we treated all of our
spirit brothers and sisters the same comfortable, accepting way we do
with our physical brothers and sisters?
5. I love my brothers and sisters. Absolutely. 100%. Sure, Todd's a
bum to me sometimes, and Callie made listened to some lame music in
high school, but in the end, it matters not. Or, as I used to put it-
it doesn't care. My family means a lot to me. I get letters from them
every week, and I try to send one out to a different sinking every
week. Sometimes I don't. I apologize. But know I love you. Hopefully
God knows I love him too. And every day I look to improve the love I
have for my brothers and sisters all around us.

Elder Richard Hall

1. A giant lizard we found while doing service. Those are Elder
Whiteley's hands. Elder Castorena was there with Elder Savas for the
day. I know Elder Whiteley and I haven't sent a picture of us yet. It
will come.
2. The family
3. Good ol' Texas Sky

Monday, April 11, 2016

Streetside Prayers and Other Joyous Occurrences

Tuesday we were biking down AW Grimes on the way to contact a referral
when a woman honked and pulled us over. We had no idea what was going
on. Bible bash? Citizens arrest? Hopscotch challenge? Nope, she wanted
to say a prayer. She was having a rough week and recognized us as
representatives of Jesus Christ, so she asked if we could pray with
her. It actually was a really nice moment and though she wasn't
interested in meeting with us, she did really appreciate that we spent
a few minutes with her.
The week was filled with little miracles. I wish I could describe them
all, but K C(a recent convert) gave Elder W and I
some old baseball gloves, so we're stoked to play some catch. We'll
probably spend the rest of P-day doing that. Having a companion that
loves baseball close to as much as I do is a major blessing. I love
being able to talk real baseball with him. Of course, only after
proselyting hours, of course.
The best part of my week had to come from a lesson we had with little
KN. K is a 9 year old who wants to be baptized so badly!
She reads the scriptures every day with her little brother and she has
all of her pamphlets lined up when we teach her. She is just the  most
wonderful little girl. Her mother is a member, but hasn't been
attending regularly in years. She wants Kiley to be baptized, but has
a hard time bringing her to church. Luckily, on Friday we got to
introduce the Ns to the R family, some members who live
close by. Immediately the two families hit it off. We didn't have to
say a word Until it came time to teach the lesson. And there you go,
on Sunday morning, we saw little K N and her friend at church
with the R, all smiley and happy. We are planning Ks
baptism for May 7th. It's fantastic!
We also had a miracle that you don't get very often. We got a media
referral from some online missionaries about a 14 year old who wanted
to join the church. We gave him a call and set up a time to meet with
him. When he answered the door, he said, "hey, I've been waiting for
you guys." Turns out, he's talked to his mom about it, and she's okay
with us teaching him! He said that the parents will have to talk about
baptism, but you should have seen S's face when we gave him a
Book of Mormon. He was elated to get it. We are having a lesson with
him tomorrow and we are excited to teach him. He is one of the stories
that you'll always remember.
Saturday was a great learning experience for my new and fiery
companion. We had four appointments set up for the day and they all
canceled. Then we got caught in the rain. Then we had dinner canceled.
You could tell that Elder W was getting discouraged. Missionary
work is hard sometimes. There'll be days when nothing goes to plan and
your just want to get out of the heat and forget about the day. But
you know what, we keep going. I told him to cheer up and to have
patience. We said a prayer and started the day over. We ended up
having three lessons and finding someone to teach. What do you know.
It reminded me of one of new favorite mission president quotes. "Watch
the lord bless your decision."
As we live righteously and make accordant decisions, the Lord will
bless us. In the world many decisions are right verses wrong, but many
of the choices you make as a missionary are right verses right. We
must follow the council of Dallin. H Oaks when he talked about good,
Better, and best decisions. What are we doing? Is it good? Good. Could
it be better? If so, make the adjustment, and change. God trusts us.
He believes in us to make the right decision. So don't worry about it.
When choices come and you council with God, and haven't received a
solid answer, think about the council of David A. Bednar "be a good
boy, do the right thing. And move on." The lord believes in us far
more than we believe in him.
Spring is my favorite time of year. I love it so much. The
wildflowers, the sticky heat, the joy of good works.

Elder Richard Hall

1. One of the larger houses on our area. I'm missing part of it in this picture
2. Elder W's first Texas Longhorn. He took 1000000 pictures of
it. This is one of them.
3. A sweet daynaflow parked on a front lawn
4. Me and the boots. Please let me know if I could pull off boots.
These ones I'm wearing are only 649 dollars

Monday, April 4, 2016

I can't help myself

I want to add to Richards words if I may. 
 I too enjoyed conference.  My heart was touched.  
My mind was edified, and my spirit was filled. 
I know that God loves us and wants us to return
 to live with him.

Conference Report

As a celebration of the most exciting time of the year for a
missionary, I decided to devote an absurd amount of time reviewing the
absolutely wonderful session of general conference at all members of
the church experienced this week. It was one of the most uplifting two
days that I have had in this earth, and I do not wish to forget it so
quickly. In fact, I will follow the counsel of Elder Gerrit G. Gong
and remember these special witnesses of Jesus Christ.
To make this as memorable as possible, and to highlight the best
moments of conference, I made a new awards ceremony: the Tommys! Music
has Grammys, Theatre has Tonys, movies have Oscars, so why can't
conference have the Tommys! The Tommys will cover a wide array of the
events and talks that make up general conference and make it so good.
Hopefully this does not take away the spirituality and dignity of the
conference (too much), but instead magnifies the precious memories
that we gained from General Conference.

Starting off!

Best costume design (the best tie worn throughout conference)
The Winner of the Tommy is- President Uchtdorf's Sunday tie, hands down
Other nominees: Donald B. Hallstrom's, Saturday, Jeffrey R. Holland's , Saturday
- It should also be noticed the that President Hallstrom was the only
one wearing a blue suit for the Saturday sessions. That's how much he
loved that suit. He just wouldn't go black

Best Picture (Best Visual Aide used in a conference talk)
The winner of the Tommy is... The Post Dresden bombing! You got to
love the statue of the Saint reaching out over the war-ravaged German
city, showing us the aftermath of a bomb raid. Touching
Other nominees: the photo of George Albert Smith in the Saturday
Afternoon session, as well as the infamous dinosaur chasing children
photo that further immortalizes Jeffrey R. Holland. Bonnie L.
Oscarson's photo of the pneumonia survivor was also touching

Best Adapted Screenplay (Talk with most amount of noticeable scripture
I can't be official about this until the CR comes out, but I'm pretty
sure it goes to Uchtdorf's Preisthood session talk. He started to pile
on the big ticket scripture references by halfway through the talk.
Though kudos to Elder Bednar for unraveling 20 minutes of numbing
doctrine from Mosiah 4:10-12

Best Original Screenplay (Talk with the most memorable one-liners)
The Tommy goes to... Jeffrey R. Holland! Surprised? You shouldn't be!
Once again he unraveled a masterpiece of poetry and sermon. Other
nominees include Robert D. Hales, Dieter F. Uchtdorf (both sessions),
and Stephen W. Owens.

Best Sleeper Pick (the one you probably slept through)
This Tommy goes to Dale G. Renlund. I loved his talk, his topic was
absolutely essential, but I could get better delivery from a UPS truck
with two wheels. Don't get me wrong, loved the talk, but The closer on
Saturday morning is a rough slot for a stale speaker. Other shout outs
go to Robert D. Hales, and Jairo Mazzagardi's lovely Portuguese accent

Best Song (Best song by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing, Duh. Other Tommy nominations go to
I feel my Savior's love, and Praise ye the Lord, the Almighty

Best Choreography (The Best camera shot)
This Tommy goes to the man who sings next to The African American in
the MoTab. It lasted for almost ten seconds. It was right during the
second verse of "Come Thou Fount". We saw a close up balcony shot of
this man, you could see the tears rolling down his face. It was like
he was all alone in a room of 24,000 people. Other nominees go to a
shot of Jeffrey R. Holland looking at his phone minutes before
conference started, and second place goes to a shot of President
Monson laughing and showing his counselors something in a folder. They
started laughing too. I have no idea what could be that funny in that
folder, but it got them going.

Best Talk (the best Talk, being chosen by doctrine, inspiration, love,
power, and my personal opinion)
Okay, from here I'll count down ten to one from my favorite talks of
the conference

Quentin L. Cook (Sunday Morning)
You know who needs the temple? Fijians. Apparently the work just can't
go forth without a temple in Fiji. But what a marvelous description of
the lower behind the Lord's house. Inspiring talk given by an apostle
that I wish I could get a better grasp of.
Dallin H. Oaks (Sunday Afternoon)
This was a wonderful explanation of a question so many people have.
Why is their opposition in the world? Explaining the role of agency
and the adversary with crystalline descriptions, Elder Oaks' talk was
a ray of light over a traditionally dark subject.
Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Sunday Morning)
Given the big ticket spot, closer for Sunday Morning, President
Uchtdorf did not disappoint. A perfect idea of the restoration of man,
as well as the restoration of all things. There is hope always shining
brightly before us.
Russell M. Nelson
In a follow up to his heartbreaking story of a failed surgery in his
last conference address, President Nelson offered a happy ending to
the unfinished tale, and then presses us forward to better use our
priesthood. In a challenge packed with doctrine and dualistic advice,
he empowers us to multiply our priesthood power.
Melvin B. Arnold (Saturday Afternoon)
This was simple, spiritual, and filled with hope. Loved it. In four
points he made every member's mission a rescue plan. His urgency is
impressive, and his loving faith touching. "Ho hath made man's
mouth?... Have not I, the Lord? Now therefore go!"
Donald L. Hallstrom (Saturday Morning)
What an outstanding talk. Taking one of the simplest and most commonly
known doctrine and magnifying the power of its truth to overcoming
temptations and trials. An excellent sermon including that somehow
included a heartwarming story about his child and Halloween. Now
that's a real miracle. and finishing with a Jeffrey R. Holland quote
for that ages. "You can have what you want, or you could have
something better.
Patrick Kearon (Sunday Afternoon)
As time goes by this talk will recede into the back of our minds.
Who's Patrick Kearon? The guy with the cool accent? He cried every
other minute in his talk? Perhaps that is what will happen, perhaps it
won't but as for now, Tis was one of the most touching and urgent
talks given to us. The only talk that made me tear up. Beautiful.
Brushing upon one of my favorite ideas, and an eternal truth. "Their
circumstance does not describe them, but our reaction to it describes
who we are"
Jeffrey R. Holland (Sunday Afternoon)
Elder Holland. The man. The myth. The legend. He only adds to his
reputation of beautiful, powerful talks. His question for tomorrow was
answered by the answer given to help with all things, but in such a
special manner. For feelings of hope, see this man's witness of
Dieter F. Uchtdorf (Priesthood Session)
Unstoppably good. Like, I didn't want him to stop talking. Addressing
the importance of the eternal things pertaining to our daily life in
the family. He beautifully made something as spacious as the love of
God and Christlike attributes and turning it to a tangible tool to
uplift the family, as well as laying down a burn on his fellow
brethren. "If there was such a thing as a perfect woman, what makes
you think that she would be interested in you?"
David A. Bednar (Saturday Afternoon)
You can't beat this. Starting with his personal studies we got to see
the whirring gears and cogs of David A. Bednar wind up a Rolex of a
talk. The amount of impact of every single word was mind blowing. Each
sentence was stacked with a continuous flow of eternal significance. I
can't say enough about this talk.

So there you have it. The first and maybe the last semi-annual Tommy
awards ceremony. I hope you enjoyed. I sure enjoyed conference.

In other new, my trainee, Elder Whiteley, is doing amazing. He is from
Seattle Washington and has already fallen off his bike and popped a
tire! I probably should have warned m about the broken glass. Luckily,
he is okay. Elder Whitely has the fire of the restoration in him and
like me, loves baseball. But he's a batter and a Marlins fan, so I
can't connect too well with him. We would play catch sometime, but we
don't have gloves or baseballs.
However! We get to be part of a special missionary choir April 18th at
a Triple-A baseball game. We'll be singing the national anthem for a
special "Mormon night" and enjoying a Round Rock express game. I was
trying to figure out how I could get to throw the first pitch until
they told who was invited to do so- Jeff Kent! This is my chance to
meet Jeff Kent, for both me and my brother's sake. A wish me luck with
Alright, I've already spent way too much time on this weekly. Hope you
are all having an excellent post conference week

Elder Richard Hall

1. Elder W taking a picture of us in between seasons
2. Elder W and his first time at Rudy's! Poor kid wasn't ready
for barbecue of that magnitude
3. Suburban Texas at sunset