Monday, December 7, 2015

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;‏

 December 7, 2015

Mis queridos hermanos y hermanas,

I am pleased to inform you that we had an amazing week! One of the most rewarding weeks of my mission.

I don't know what it is, but lately it's been hard to be consistent with my work ethic and obedience, but with small goals and some reevaluation, I am able to see the Atonement work in my life. What's wonderful about the mission, and even life, is that every new day is an opportunity to be better than the person we were yesterday.

So after my little spill at the hospital on Sunday night, I spent a couple days just taking it easy. I was really worried that what had happened was more serious than the doctors' diagnosis, but after taking my potassium pills every day this week, I've seen a noticeable improvement in my health and I've been able to go out and sweat again. That was really the story of the week. It was kind of like pulling back a sling shot toward the start of the week and then releasing it toward the end of the week. And it all started with my exchange on Wednesday.

After district meeting I was able to go with Elder Shearer (a new elder) on exchanges down to guessed it!....Clinton! Clinton has been my home away from home since I've served there and this exchange really made my feel happy and at peace. Our first stop was an investigator who is getting baptized sometime in the near future. His name was.....CJ and he has a very strong testimony of the restored Gospel. We testified boldly of the blessings of the Lord and really emphasized the principle of "don't wait." We can't let ourselves get in the way of the blessings that the Lord wants to give us. Sometimes we like to delay those blessings by not acting on what we're supposed to. It's like putting an umbrella over our heads and letting the blessings slip away. So that was good.

After that we went to the church and visited with some of the members that I know and love. They all remembered me and were happy to see me! I guess when you spend six months in an area, especially a small branch like Clinton, you really get close to the people. Like I said, it was just like coming home after a long trip. Next stop was dinner with my convert Josefina and the Cruz family. It was so nice seeing the Gospel working in Josefina's life. She's a much happier person than she was when I met her and I can see that the church and the Gospel have really filled that hole that existed before. And it was also nice seeing my progress as a missionary, particularly in Spanish. While as before I left Clinton I struggled sometimes to understand what people were saying, I was able to understand every single word! That felt super good! And Josefina is still the best cook in the mission.

Later that night we went and stopped by the Tyndalls. The Tyndalls are like my favorite people in the world. I really built a special relationship with them and it hasn't changed a bit. We still told the same jokes, stories, and Sister Tyndall still admires the growth that I've experienced as a missionary. As we were sharing a message with them, Sister Tyndall mentioned that I've grown a lot spiritually and that it really shows. So that's a nice compliment. After that we ate ice cream and granola. The funny thing about the granola is that my mom sent it to them! They told me it's the best granola in the west....which is funny because we're in the east. Ni modo. So everything was fine and dandy over in Clinton. The place has grown a little bit since I left, but other than that it hasn't changed a bit.

The next day I went on ANOTHER exchange down close to Raeford. Hope Mills to be exact. I went with Elder Brown, my good friend and zone leader. We had a great exchange and I was able to learn a lot and motivate my self for when I returned to Dunn. When I got back to Dunn, Elder Christensen has done a lot of great work. He found some new investigators and really set us up to have a great rest of the week. This weekend we were able to teach about eight lessons, some of which were just amazing. We have an investigator who was introduced to us by a young man in the ward. Alberto's home situation is not the best, so the church has really been a refuge for him in recent months. I read him a verse out of Alma chapter eighteen and asked him what he had against being baptized. After learning the doctrines of the plan of salvation, he told me "I have nothing against it. What else do I need to do to get there?" Golden! So we set a date with him for the 23rd of January and are anxiously awaiting the day when he can enter into a covenant with the Lord. I know he'll get there. If we play our cards right and trust in the Lord, he'll be a very strong convert.

Our other miracle lesson involved a family....can't remember the last name....but nonetheless, they're basically golden. We taught them the Restoration super clearly and powerfully and even involving they're young children, and they were just blown away. The mom's name is C and she just fell in love with what we taught her. I asked her "Is it hard for you to believe that a young man would be visited by God the Father and Jesus Christ and be called to restore the true church of God?" She said "Not really. God calls whoever he decides to call." So we introduced the Book of Mormon as evidence and told her how to receive her answer and she just ate it up. At the end of the lesson, she asked us "Can you go visit my mom so we can all go to church together next week?" Golden! This lesson was super powerful and I feel confident that this family will be baptized within the coming months.

This week was amazing and I'm super grateful for the experiences we had. I hope that we can continue to be diligent and obedient so as to allow the Lord to use us to work miracles. I know He lives and am grateful that He allows us to improve over time, rather than demanding perfection all at once. Please continue to pray for our success. My goal is two more baptisms before I go home. If I can reach that, I'll be a happy man.

Love y'all.

-Elder Landon Carroll
We went to a cotton gin with President and Sister James and the rest of the district!

"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house....of order"‏

November 30, 2015

Well this was another crazy one. The work unfortunately slid to a bit of a halt due to some unexpected and hard to control circumstances.

We started the week with absolutely no miles left in the car, so that left us with an obstacle. We tried getting exchanges with us, but no one was available. And then most of our appointments fell through due to lack of organization and agency. And on top of that, every time we planned a good night, some crazy thing would happen that took us out of the work. Allow me to share with you a few examples. I'm not writing this to give excuses, but rather, showing you just how unpredictable life is!

So on Monday and Tuesday our car wasn't working, so the few miles we had left were unusable until we fixed our car! We drive a 2014 Chevy Cruze, so it shouldn't have been giving us any problems, but it was! The battery started to die each day for about the last week and a half, and then finally it got to a point where the car wouldn't even start. So we called a young man named Peyton and he came to the rescue. He jumped our car and then we drove it around for a while to see if it would do anything. Then we got to Kohl's to buy Elder Christensen a new coat and when we got out of the store, the car wouldn't start again! So some nice man jumped our car and then we headed back home. We turned off the car again and then we called for one more jump. Bishop came and jumped our car and then we went off to Autozone to get it checked out. Turns out our two year old battery was completely fried! So we decided to take it to the dealership so we could take advantage of the warranty the car was under. And that took FIVE hours. So we sat in the waiting room trying not to watch whatever was on the TV. Sadly, we were unsuccessful on that one. So once we got our battery fixed, we drove back and we were officially out of miles! Woooo! That means bringing out the bikes.
The next crazy thing involved Thanksgiving. We ate too much food! We had dinner with the Lykins family so that was super fun. They have so many kids I thought they were all cousins when we got there. And one of his brothers, the other Brother Lykins was there from Pinehurst (my first area), so it was nice catching up a little bit. Also, this family really loves pies. There were sixteen pies set out for dessert and I only got to try two of them I was so full. So we grabbed some leftovers, played some basketball with the kids, cleaned up, and then headed out. Then we went to a random grocery store and passed out some cards because we’re not allowed to proselyte on holidays like that. We were pretty successful with that.

The next crazy thing involved dinner on Saturday night. We went over to the Christensens for dinner. It was pretty fun being at their house. They have a farm in their backyard, so I got to pet their very tame cow named Emma. She was pretty cool. We had Thanksgiving leftovers (of course) with them and the food just made me sick. That last piece of chocolate cake was just too much for me to handle. Ten minutes later, I just felt horrible. When the Christensens finally took us home, I told my companion "I'm gonna go lay down. No me siento bien." So I laid on my bed writhing in pain for about an hour and a half until I finally went to the bathroom and threw up that chocolate cake. Bleh. I felt a little better after that, but we ended up staying in for the rest of the night, despite our awesome plans.

But wait, there's more! I was feeling well enough to go to church on Sunday morning, so we did that. Church was excellent, by the way. Really great talks about the power of tithing and fasting in our lives. Pay your tithing and feed the poor! Anyways, we went home after church, ate lunch, and did a little bit of training. Meanwhile, something was happening inside of me. My hands fell asleep while I was standing up, so I went upstairs and sat down for a little while and everything was better. Then our exchange came over and picked us up so we could have a good successful night. Well, our appointment cancelled, so we decided to go to the hospital to visit a member named Brother Link. He was having some tests done on his heart, so we figured we'd pay him a visit. We got there and checked in and then headed up to see Brother Link. He was doing alright and really appreciated our company. But as we were talking, I started to feel weak, so I pulled a chair over and set down. Then everything got progressively worse. My hands had fallen asleep again and it was progressing to my chest, feet, stomach, and head. My whole body was tingling like I wasn't getting enough air or circulation. So I started to breathe deeper, thinking maybe that was the problem, but things weren't resolving. Brother Link said "You okay? We can hook you up to this thing if you need it" pointing to his machine. I said "Nah, I'm good." Things didn't get better and I felt like I was going to pass out. I told everyone in the room "I feel like I'm about to pass out." So our exchange, Brother Dominguez, grabbed a nurse and I was quickly put into a wheel chair and wheeled down to the emergency room. The people at the desk were so confused because we had just checked in to visit someone and now I was in a wheel chair. So they quickly called me in, had me sit on a gurney for a while, and then they started testing me for stuff. They took my blood, checked my blood pressure, took a urine sample, and then we waited for the results. They had me set up to receive an IV, but that apparently wasn't necessary. The doctor came and said I was extremely low on potassium, probably from the vomiting. Weird, but it is what it is. Hopefully nothing more serious happens in the future. So they gave me some potassium supplements and a prescription for the rest of the week and now I'm here! I've never felt anything like that in my life and I pray that it doesn't happen again. I seriously thought I was going to pass out.

So there you have it. Our crazy week. All of those things really impeded the work, minus a few miraculous showings at church. The plan this week is to organize ourselves a little better and attack things more directly. I feel that I've been slacking as a missionary and I plan to turn that around. Repentance is real. We can improve each day if we set specific goals and plan to reach them. I've gone through sloppy phases on my mission and have found ways to turn them around. This is no different. Please pray for our success and our organization.


-Elder Landon Carroll

Soul Harvesting

 November 23, 2015 may not be easy, but we keep trudging along as we try to build this area from the ground up. The good news is we've actually started to find people. The investigators that the previous elders left us are either unreachable or just flat out have no potential. So we've discontinued the majority of them.

We had a couple miracles this week. Allow me to share them with you.

First off, we had some great experiences tracting. I took Elder Christensen to a trailer park that I assumed was filled with Hispanics, but was actually filled with a bunch of white folks. So we knocked some doors and then the miracle happened! We knocked the door of a woman named K who seems to be at a turning point in her life. She said that she was pondering how to bring God into her life when we knocked on the door. She mentioned that she just wanted to feel comfortable in the presence of God and we testified of the Atonement and the power that it has to cleanse us of our sins. We testified of the Restoration and gave her a really spiritual experience. We made her cry! She said we made her night and that she was looking forward to our return.

Unfortunately....K made her way to the internet and saw some things she shouldn't have. She found a list entitled "Top ten reasons not to be a Mormon." and the things that she shared with us indicated that it was very far stretched and just flat out false. But regardless, she felt a little freaked out from the situation and told us she would think about letting us come by and teach her. So we left her with a Book of Mormon (which we should have done the first visit. We were carrying Spanish stuff only) and invited her to read and pray. She held the book to her chest and said that she would, so I've been praying every day since that she picks up that book and has a spiritual experience. The feelings she felt were real and they were from the Spirit. That was a miracle and I hope that the Lord answers my prayers....otherwise we're just gonna have to go over there again. 
The next miracle, among finding a bunch of new people to teach, involved a less active member named Sister F. She's less active for a number of reasons, the main reason (I believe) is because she doesn't feel she can change or overcome her past, so the church doesn't really offer her too much. I gave her a talk that I had read entitled "In Times of Trouble" by Elder Holland and it made her cry! If we keep making people cry, we're gonna have to start carrying a box of tissues around haha! (I realize that was the lamest thing you've ever heard. If you can think of a pun, please let me know) But I hope that we can lead her to greater peace and happiness by helping her understand the Atonement a little better.

The work is slowly progressing here and we're starting to find people and gain trust with the members. I'm not the best at working with the members, so that's something we'll be working on, especially with a ward like this. The members are treating us very well and I might actually gain some weight in this area.

Training has also been exciting. Elder Christensen continues to learn and I continue to give him opportunities to learn and grow. The Spanish is coming along slower than I'd like, but Elder Christensen is working hard and it definitely shows. I just need to organize myself a little bit so I can be a better trainer and companion. The Lord is putting me to the test here in Dunn, and I hope that I can live up to my potential.

Please continue to pray for me. Pray that we can be successful and happy and work with the Spirit.

Que les pase una buena semana,

-Elder Landon Carroll

From the Ground Up

November 16, 2015


It's been a busy week as we've tried to learn Spanish, how to be better missionaries, and tried to find new people to teach. It's a little difficult to be starting from scratch, but it's not different from any other area I've been in. We just have to work and pray and expect that the Lord will bless us with miracles and with people to teach. And he has started doing that this week.

Lately we've been teaching a lot of less active members. The people are kind of interesting here. It's basically like I'm teaching people from Clinton all over again. It allows me to embrace the southern culture again haha! I love southern people. They're kind and they remind me of home. And they really bring out the best in me!

But I do have to admit that my love for Americans has decreased significantly after working with the Hispanics. Hispanics are just.....nicer. And they're much more open to hear us. I came to Dunn with Elder Christensen and we knocked our first door here and it was a white man. He basically said we don't have time for you and that we should get off his porch. I felt terrible! And then the people from my last area flashed through my head and I just felt discouraged. I missed them. I missed working with Hispanics. And now I relish in the opportunity to speak to another one. I've met a few Hispanics here and they just make me feel happy. I don't have to worry that they'll hardcore reject me because they already like me! As long as you speak their language, you can relate to them. And then you start talking about their food and they just light up! It brings me so much joy! And now I'm in an English ward and it just isn't the same. The Hispanic culture has defined my mission and has taught me so much about how to love and serve....and eat haha. 

So we will continue to work on finding Hispanics. This ward is just too.....white haha. It's full of military people and medical students from Campbell University. It needs more color! Plus, President advised me to focus on Spanish work so Elder Christensen can learn Spanish.

Speaking of President James....this man is awesome. He's my hero. It's through him and the love that he has for me and all the other missionaries that has inspired me to keep going when I don't feel like I can. I had an interview with him on Thursday and he just blew me away. He gave me counsel that warmed my heart and I will never forget. The words he spoke to me comforted me and gave me the assurance that everything will be okay and that I am not alone in my struggles and never will be. He's an inspired man, no doubt. And he's certainly inspired me.

There is nothing to report in the work other than the fact that we are making progress and hope to have some great successes this week. Please keep us in your prayers. I need two baptisms before I come home. Help us make it happen!

Have a wonderful week,

Elder Landon Carroll

Change is....Good?

November 9, 2015

Well I'm in a brand new area with a BRAND new companion and life is just grand. Things are tough as always, but I continue to push through with the help of the Lord.

So I told y'all last week that I was getting transferred....and I did! I'm now in Dunn, which is one of three Spanish areas in this zone. I've now served in all three haha. This zone definitely defines my mission. I've spent over a year here already and I wouldn't have it any other way. I love serving here. The people are much more humble and everything is a little more relaxing. Just the way I like it! 

So about my new companion....His name is Elder Christensen and he's from Sugar City, Idaho. I like Idaho. It reminds me of the good times that I used to have up at school. Maybe the Lord sent him to me so I could prepare to go back. That's what I feel about it. Elder Christensen is great! He's waaaaayyyyyy different from Elder Flake, but that's not a bad thing. He's a lot younger, so naturally this will be a different experience from the last. And he doesn't speak Spanish, so teaching him has been an adventure so far. He's actually learning quite fast, despite not having the study materials.

Dunn is a wonderful place. It's really beautiful, full of evergreens and grassy plains. I've been here before from when I used to be in Clinton. I used to come up to Dunn like every other week, so I actually already know some of the members here. They're great! They're really helping us out. We need as much help as we can get considering we're "white-washing" the area. That means that no missionaries stayed to keep the area going. We're basically starting from scratch! Thankfully I know the elders that were here last and they took a lot of notes for us. Things have actually gone pretty well so far. I ain't even mad. 

I'd love to tell y'all about our investigators, but I don't know enough to be able to say. Just know that we have quite a few people with the potential to progress and that we will be doing our best to make sure that happens.

I wish I had more to write, but everything is just so new.

But if there's anything that I could say, it's that the Gospel is true and that it has really power to make us happy. It's not just something we believe in or a group we're all part of. It's literally the "power of God unto salvation." I'm truly grateful to be part of this great work and I know that I will be blessed for my efforts after my mission. It's been the hardest time of my life so far, but also the most rewarding. I'm just hoping that I can continue on this path for the rest of my life, because it truly does bring joy and happiness.

Enjoy the pictures!

-Elder Landon Carroll