Monday, March 7, 2016

My heart is full.‏

March 7, 2016

"Well, I have a year and 2 months left to be in high school. I will just like to say i have meant some really great people at the school and at my church. I just hope that the Class of 2017 is ready to start a new life after High School. I wish it had never came to this but we have our future ahead of us. I would like to thank Fred for introducing the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints to me. If I hadn't gotten baptised or even met everyone at the church then my life would still be screwed up. My past was amazing. But it was also the worst that I lived in, and i hope it won't come back and haunt me. When I graduate from high school i am hoping to serve a mission for the church and i hope Fred gets to join me. I hope my senior year will be the best." -Alberto

My heart is full of gratitude for what has transpired the past few days. My mission has nearly come to an end, but I could not have ended it any better. Alberto was baptized on March 5th at 7 pm. It was an amazing experience and perhaps the most rewarding baptism of my mission. As you can see from Alberto's Facebook post, he was ready and understood the sacred nature of baptism. Some people judged him harshly from the get go, but we never stopped working with him. I've seen him grow so much! He's waaaaaayyyyy happier than he was when I met him and now he has a secure, bright future ahead of him. I am grateful to the Lord for blessing me with this wonderful opportunity. I'm grateful for the friendships I've made with Fred and Alberto, and I hope to cherish them for the rest of my life. Through this experience, I've been able to witness firsthand how the Gospel of Jesus Christ works in people's lives. It changes them from the inside-out and fills the void they never knew was there. I look forward to the day when I'll be able to write Alberto on his mission and see him get married in the temple one day. And I have full confidence that many will follow after him.

This week was just amazing. It was my last full week in the mission and we KILLED it. We taught many great lessons and I was able to leave a lot of great final words before heading out. I may not fully realize the impact that I've had here in Dunn, but I know that by me just being here, lives have been blessed, including my own. I hope to be able to return to this area soon after my departure to visit these people again. I've made more friends on my mission than I have my whole life, which I find incredible. And these aren't just acquaintances either. I mean, I really have loved the people of North Carolina in each one of my areas. It will be overwhelming to come back here after my mission and attempt to visit each one of them. And thank goodness for Facebook, right?

In other news, we also ate with our friend Pedro again. He's a convert from Durham and he likes to come eat lunch with all his missionaries. It was good seeing him again. He's another one of those "life-long" friends I've made out here. Like I said, there are many.

Well I guess this is it people. My mission has officially come to an end. There have been times when I never even thought I would have made it this far, but here I am! I look forward to seeing and speaking with you all when I return to Georgia. Now allow me to conclude by summarizing my experiences out here and the things that I've learned.

First off, missions are not easy. I came out here with a lot of pride, thinking that because of my talents and abilities, I would be successful. I used to be competitive with other missionaries and seek the recognition of others in order to validate my efforts, but things changed very quickly. Toward the end of my first area (Pinehurst), I started to humble myself and learn how to love people. I learned that serving others was a much happier way of living than what I had previously been living. I also began to understand the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the importance of it not only in my life, but in the lives of those I served. As I got to Clinton, I was tested with having to work hard every day and making sure to continue to strengthen my testimony. Things were not easy there. I had a lot to live up to. The members really counted on us and at times, I didn't even feel worthy to be in their service. But even with that self-inflicted trial, I kept working hard. I gave it my all. And when the days were so hard that I just wanted to give up, Heavenly Father would send me something to make it all better and all worthwhile. Then I got a baptism. It rocked my world. I began to see that I COULD be a successful missionary and that there WERE people out there that were ready to receive the Gospel. The next year, I worked harder than I ever have. In Durham and Chapel Hill we would bike over twenty miles a day sometimes just for one appointment. Although I did not baptize there, I learned a lot about myself and I believe it prepared me for what was to come. I got transferred to Raeford and was called to be a district leader over six companionship. Being a leader and having to take care of so many missionaries really allowed me to grow and to see my true potential. I was not perfect by any means, but my efforts helped a lot of missionaries get through some unique struggles. That's some rewarding stuff. Months later, we got another baptism. Through her, I was able to see that the Lord truly does know us and that He places us exactly where we need to be. I can see that this woman was prepared to receive the Gospel from me and that because of my talents and abilities, she chose to follow Jesus Christ into the waters of baptism. After training for the last three months, I was called to train again, except this time I would be coming into an area all by myself. Once again, the Lord blessed me with more experiences to stretch and refine me. Although I've struggled here, sometimes with obedience, sometimes emotionally, I've been able to learn the value of hard work and dusting ourselves off and moving forward when we fall down. And just this last week, I was able to confirm Alberto a member of the church. I could probably go on, but I just want to reiterate how grateful I am for having served a mission. It's been the hardest two years of my life, but it's also been the best two years of my life (thus far).

I pray that when I get home, I will be able to continue to be a servant in the Lord's hands. There is a life-long calling of service ahead of me and I can't wait to get started. I will miss the mission field, my mission president and his wife, my missionary friends, members, and investigators, but I know that there is more to life ahead of me. Although I'm leaving this stage of my life behind, I know that there is so much more ahead of me. The MTC was training for my mission and the mission has been training for the rest of my life.

I love all of you and can't wait to see your faces and hear your voices again. Please pray that I can have a safe journey home and that I can leave here satisfied with what I've been able to accomplish.

Con mucho amor y sinceridad,

Y por la ultima vez,

-Elder Landon Carroll

Last full week. Ready. Set. Go!!!‏

February 29. 2016

Here I am coming into my last full week in the mission field. Honestly, I never thought I would get this far given how difficult missions can be, but here I am. I've made it this far and there's just one more full week between me and my journey home. Oh, and a baptism of course. Isn't that exciting?

Let me give y'all an update on A. He's doing really well! He's fully prepared to be baptized on Saturday which is a big relief for me considering it's my last Saturday in the mission. Talk about clutch haha. We had a little bit of a scare yesterday at church. We got there and A wasn't there. We waited for about twenty minutes for his "ride" to come in but it never did. So we gave him a call. "A, are you coming to church today?" "I tried to get a ride yesterday and this morning, but non one answered the phone. So now I'm at work with my dad." WHAT! I was about to lose it. It was the Sunday before his baptism and he HAD to be there in order to get baptized. I told him "you have to be at church today if you want to get baptized. We can't move it back again cause I won't be here. How can you get here?" This was about ten minutes into stake conference. So we got together with A's friend F and some others and finally found a ride for him. He'd be late, but at least he'd be there. So we had F's dad go and pick him up about thirty minutes away. Super far away, but hey, he had to be here. I was so relieved when he finally walked in for the last half of stake conference. Now he can get baptized on Saturday and I can go out with a bang!

In other news, there's a dead beaver outside our apartment right next to the road. I guess someone hit the poor thing. I wish I had a picture. After much contemplation, we decided to name him Joseph. Joseph is funny. And disobedient. He never gets up on time. In fact, I don't think Joseph ever moves. He might be the laziest beaver missionary I've ever met. Every time we pull into the parking lot we're like "What are you doing Joseph?!?! It's like 4 pm!" Hahaha it's super funny. And it'll be even funnier when his body starts to rot. Yuck!

Andi n more other news, we made a roast on Wednesday! Elder Christensen and I are quite the cooking pair. We've made quite a few things together. Asian food, tacos, chicken, grilled cheese, Rice-a-roni, and even some Sister Schubert's rolls! Those went with our roast on Thursday. One of the recent converts in our ward bought us a crock pot and we have been taking advantage of it. I'm not sure what we're gonna make next. Maybe some soup? Or some yummy dip or something? We'll figure it out. I'm sure the cravings will give us a good idea.

And that's about all I have for this week. It was a good one and my main focus now is making sure to set up Elder Christensen well for when I leave and getting A into the water. Your prayers are appreciated. Please give me one more week of them so I can finish what I set out here to do.

Con mucho amor,

Elder Landon Carroll

P.S. What does a tree do when he's all ready to go? He leaves.

I'm finna end this mission right!‏

February 22, 2016

This week was really a great one. Most weeks in the mission are just hard, but every once in a while you have a week that's just refreshing and full of success.

First off, I'd like to share some very exciting news because I can't hold it in anymore...

Alberto is getting baptized! He had his baptismal interview last night and passed with flying colors! He won't be baptized this weekend because of stake conference, but we're counting on the 5th of March. I am super stoked! It's been a bumpy ride with him and I've been stressed out of my mind about his whole situation and making sure he's ready, but he and the Lord have prevailed. I really would love to share his whole conversion story with y'all, but I'll save it for after his baptism. For now, it sufficeth me to say that he will be baptized on the fifth of March.

In other news, we found some great new investigators this week. It never ceases to amaze me that we can just randomly knock on someone's door, teach them a quick little message, and then we're meeting with them twice a week. And then if they progress, they become lifelong friends. That's how it's been for me my whole mission. One thing that I cherish deeply is the friendships that I've made out here, especially with those I've been able to teach. As it says in Doctrine and Covenants section 50:22 "Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." There's no stronger relationship than one that is first found upon the teachings of Jesus Christ. That's why marriages and families in the church are much more successful than those outside of it. We often think that when we share a relationship with someone, it's just us and them, when in reality, the Lord should be the center of it all. That's why marriage in the temple is so important. It binds families together not only for eternity, but for this life as well.

How did I get on that subject again? Oh yeah! I was talking about the relationships we build with those we teach. Relating that to Alberto, I think that's one of the biggest things that has played a role in his conversion. The closer we've been able to get to him, the better our teaching has been and the more the Spirit has been felt. The reason I've been able to recognize his progress so well is because of the close relationship we've formed. And I know that after his baptism and after my departure home, we will continue to be friends, not only because that's what we should do as missionaries, but also because there is a real friendship there. It's a beautiful thing.

Something funny also happened this week. So there's this restaurant called "Ron's Barn" right here where we live that everyone likes to go to. We were hungry one evening so we finally decided to check it out. Let me just say that everything was very confusing. We got in there and some lady (obviously noting our confused faces) asked if we were in a group or if it would be just us. "It's just us," we said. So she told us where to go to find a seat. We sat down, some guy came and took our drink order and then said "okay, you can go when you're ready." What the heck does that mean? So we waited for some other people and just followed them. So what you do is you go through this buffet style line and (kind of like the Lion House, but buffet) tell them what you want and then you just go back to your seat and eat it. The confusing part was: 1) Can we go get more food after we're done? 2) Why are we the only ones that have never been here before? 3) How do we pay for our food? We spent the whole time while eating contemplating how everything worked. The confusion was almost making me go cross-eyed. So we finally finished our food, asked the bus boy how to pay,and we headed out toward the front desk. We paid for our food there and that was it. I told Elder Christensen "We are never going there again. I don't care how good the food was. It's not worth it if we have to pass through Hotel California every time we come." I kept telling Elder Christensen during dinner "We can check out anytime we'd like, but we can never leave." Haha so that was our dinner. The food was great, but the lack of communication from the employees was almost repugnant. And I'm convinced that we were the only two living people in that restaurant. All the rest were ghosts who are trapped there haha.

I guess I'll end it on that note. I hope y'all have a fantastic week. Please continue to pray for Alberto so that he can get baptized on his scheduled date. Thanks for everything.

-Elder Landon Carroll

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

What do we do? Well, isn't it obvious?‏

February 15, 2016

Sooooooo.....this week was very successful. It was very cold throughout the week, but we didn't hesitate to go and and work to bring people to repentance. That is our purpose after all. We bring people the message of the Restoration and attempt to build their faith through the Spirit, they act upon it by keeping our commitments (them repenting) and then as they continue to make changes in their lives to be more like Christ, they are prepared to make and keep the covenant of baptism.

I gave an instruction this week at our zone training meeting in Fayetteville. The rest of the leaders in the zone insisted that I speak about our purpose as missionaries and what our priorities should be. I spent the whole week praying and pondering about how I would go about presenting things and everything finally came together just the Tuesday before the meeting. I really learned a lot as I studied about our purpose. I think Preach My Gospel says it best:

"President Ezra Taft Benson taught: “We are commanded by God to take this gospel to all the world. That is the cause that must unite us today. Only the gospel will save the world from the calamity of its own self-destruction. Only the gospel will unite men of all races and nationalities in peace. Only the gospel will bring joy, happiness, and salvation to the human family” (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [1988], 167).

You are called to represent Jesus Christ in helping people become clean from their sins. You do this by inviting them to come unto Jesus Christ and become converted to His restored gospel. To come to the Savior they must have faith in Him unto repentance—making the necessary changes to bring their life into agreement with His teachings. You can help people develop such faith by teaching them the restored gospel by the Spirit and inviting them to commit to live according to its teachings. Keeping this commitment prepares them for the covenant of baptism and confirmation and the precious gift of the Holy Ghost. They are to put off the “natural man” and become a Saint “through the atonement of Christ the Lord” (Mosiah 3:19).

So that's pretty much it right there. Our main purpose is to help people become clean from their sins so that they'll be prepared to receive the Savior's mercy at the Day of Judgement. It's always interesting to me that the Lord would trust us with so great a task. But one thing I've learned is that He really is in charge of the work. It's His work. We're just instruments in His hands and we have the marvelous privilege of helping people find peace in their lives. It's quite amazing. So going back to my instruction, one thing I really focused on with the missionaries is our priorities as missionaries. Over the course of a few months, we've been able to see a decline in lessons taught to investigators and therefore a decline in the number of baptisms. So I basically told the missionaries that we can't be wasting our precious time with less active that won't progress. As a mission, we spend too much time teaching less actives and recent converts because it's "easy" and because it fills the time when we have nothing to do. But that's really not what we're called to do. That's what the home teachers are ultimately for. Our job is to go out and call people to repentance by teaching doctrine by the Spirit and asking them to act upon it. These are things that I've always understood to an extent, but after studying for this instruction, it all just makes perfect sense. I wish I had received this insight months ago, but hey, the Lord gives unto us "line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little." So I hope I was able to motivate someone to work a little harder and to take this calling with a little more seriousness. As I've seen throughout my mission, this time to serve the Lord is extremely short. We have to take advantage of every opportunity that's given us to call people to repentance.

Some updates on investigators. A finally came to church! We spent the whole week making arrangements so he could get there and he did it! That means he is one step closer to baptism! I'm really proud of him and the progress he's made. All he needs to do now is go to church next week, be taught a few more lessons, be reading and praying consistently, and have an interview and he'll be ready! Please continue to pray for him. He's going through a hard time right now and I feel that having the support of the church and especially having the Gift of the Holy Ghost will give him some needed consolation.

Well I guess I'd better wrap this thing up. As I come to the end of my mission, things are starting to come into perspective. I continue to learn more about the Gospel and particularly about the Atonement and it's allowed me to see a different side of life. I have great goals and desires for who I want to be when I get home. But right now I just have to continue focusing on what's important, that is, the progress of my investigators and the progress and well-being of my missionaries.

A guy threw a gallon of milk at me the other day. How dairy! (How dare he)

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

I'm just...tired.‏

 February 8, 2016

Good morning everyone,

I remember when I was serving in Pinehurst as a new missionary and my followup trainer Elder Johnson would say to me "Elder I'm just so tired all the time. When you get my age, you'll understand." I can now say that I understand. Two years of dedicated service to the Lord certainly takes it out of you. I'm tired ALL THE TIME. I don't have problems getting up, but there are times during the day that all I want to do is lay down and take a nap. But....the good news is my companion has fresh legs and keeps me motivated so that I can go out and fulfill my purpose as a missionary!

This week was somewhat uneventful. We had all this great stuff planned out and things just got in the way...people's agency, sickness, work, whatever it was. A lot of things just fell through so we had to do a lot of adapting. We were able to knock some doors and we found some good prospects. Tracting is not my favorite thing to do, but it's proven to be successful on my mission. You just have to know how to talk to people and how to help them have a spiritual experience on the door. It's not easy, but with practice you can get pretty good at it and as long as you're consistent, you'll have success.
Now an update on our baptismal candidate A. He's doing pretty well! We had a pizza party with him and his friend F and it seemed to inject some positive motivation and friendship. As we've taught him, I've really been able to see him get more and more excited about what is to come. He's made a lot of changes in his life and his sister even came to church to see what this was all about. Others are apparently starting to notice the changes as well. The only thing holding him back write now is church attendance. Until he can prove that he wants to be a member of the church and participate with some consistency, we just can't baptize him. He didn't come to church this week because of some stomach bug, so it's really crucial that he comes the next two weeks in a row. That's his commitment and I'm praying that he can fulfill it.

I could write about some other things we did, but I've chosen to ramble instead. 
As I continue to gain a greater understanding of the Gospel and how it fits in my life, the need of it in the world becomes more and more evident. I'm not completely up to date on everything that goes on the world, but people keep me sufficiently informed to be able to understand a lot of what's going on. The world has changed a lot these past two years. Society continues to crumble as things that fifty years ago would never have been acceptable eat away at the Christian foundation this country was built upon. Sin today is acceptable and in many eyes even desirable. The ways of the world and the ways of God continue to drift farther and farther apart. There is a distinct separation between those that follow God and those that have elected to follow Satan. It's really sad if you think about it. We truly are in the last days. The signs of the times are here. People are losing hope in things they thought would last and they have as it says "stopped looking for the truth for they know not where to find it." I look around me sometimes and I'm able to almost visibly see holes in people's lives wherein if the Gospel was planted, happiness and peace would be restored. This is why the Restoration came about when it did. God knew that these times would be perilous so He called another prophet to guide those who would listen. Some of my favorite verses come out of Doctrine and Covenants section one:

"17 Wherefore, I the Lord, knowing the calamity which should come upon the inhabitants of the earth, called upon my servant Joseph Smith, Jun., and spake unto him from heaven, and gave him commandments;

18 And also gave commandments to others, that they should proclaim these things unto the world; and all this that it might be fulfilled, which was written by the prophets—

19 The weak things of the world shall come forth and break down the mighty and strong ones, that man should not counsel his fellow man, neither trust in the arm of flesh—

20 But that every man might speak in the name of God the Lord, even the Savior of the world;

21 That faith also might increase in the earth;

22 That mine everlasting covenant might be established;

23 That the fullness of my gospel might be proclaimed by the weak and the simple unto the ends of the world, and before kings and rulers."
It's truly comforting to know that the Lord hasn't left us alone. Because of modern-day prophets, we have all the tools necessary to combat the insecurity of the world. The Gospel truly is the answer to everything we're facing in life. And the beautiful thing about it is just how simple it is! Sometimes it's so simple that we don't even think it'll help us, but as we humble ourselves and follow the counsel of the Lord and His servants, we will be blessed to overcome the world. I have my own weaknesses and struggles, but I know that through the Gospel and through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, everything will be made right in the end. We just have to remember what we've been taught and hold on to what we know to be true and right.

I could ramble all day but I'll just end it right there. Please share the Gospel with someone this week. People are starving for the truth. Also please continue to pray for our investigator A. He needs it.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll


February 1, 2015

Good afternoon!

I've had a good week and hope y'all have as well.

As my mission slowly rolls to an end, I try to take every opportunity I can to just teach people the Gospel and testify of how it will bless their lives. Sometimes that's all I can do. There are times when struggles cause me to lose my footing in life and in the mission, but something I always hold on to is my ability to teach the Gospel and share my testimony of the hope that it brings me. And although people don't always respond to what I have to say, I at least leave edified knowing that I laid everything on the table.

An update on A. He's the young man who has 17 years (excuse my Spanish) and a baptismal date. It's currently set for February the 13th, but I think we'll move it back just to be sure he's ready. As we've gone through the teaching process with him, I've really seen him grow-both in knowledge and testimony. We had him over to a member's home on Saturday to give him a better learning environment and he really opened up about some of the things he's been feeling. Brother Knight, our Ward Mission Leader, asked him some questions about the Spirit. Alberto opened up and said that ever since he started feeling the Spirit through reading and praying, his anger has nearly left him. That's really where his testimony lies at this point and what's great is that he recognizes where it's coming from! The only thing holding him back from baptism right now is a couple more lessons and his church attendance. If we get through those hurdles, he'll be a member this month!

Other updates on the work include but are not limited to...
1. Three new investigators!
2. Out of those three, one man has offered to make us Puerto Rican food!
3. We had some less actives come to church.
4. We helped a man who's addicted to caffeinated beverages switch his habit to flavored water!
5. I got a haircut.
6. Elder Christensen got a haircut.
7. We had a great district meeting.
8. Had an awesome linger-longer after church yesterday.
9. Avoided the temptation to hold a baby.
10. Had some awesome beef tacos!

I really wish I had more to write, but these weeks sometimes just mesh together. I guess that's what happens when you do the same thing every day. You know, it's funny. I'll have these crazy dreams where I'm at home or at Wal-Mart or at College, but in almost all of them I'm still a missionary and somehow end up sharing the Gospel in my dreams. Well, sometimes that's the case. One of my dreams this week involved me and a couple of giant pet cows. I guess when you associate yourself with an Idahoan farm boy for long enough, it starts to get to you.

So I guess I'll wrap this thing up before I start rambling about absolutely nothing.

Just remember who you are this week and focus on how much the Lord has blessed you. Also remember to continue to reevaluate your life so you can make changes and receive even more blessings from Him. I know that God lives and that He loves us. Because of His love, He sent us His Son Jesus Christ to atone for our sins, giving us all the equal opportunity to learn and follow him to one day be able to stand in the presence of God again. That right there is the most valuable piece of information anyone can ever posses. Don't ever forget it. Matthew 13:44-46.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

Monday, February 1, 2016

Snow and ice and what have you.‏

 January 25, 2016

Weeeeeellllllllll......this week definitely had its challenges. But I'm grateful for them! We were able to help so many people this week and I'm proud of our efforts in serving the Lord and those around us. Being out here on the mission has taught me that serving others is one of the quickest ways to relief and happiness. Every time I get out there and give someone a hand, my burdens are lifted and the Spirit enters my life, bringing me indescribable joy.

Before I get to the meat of this email, we have another baptismal date! We still have A, now for the 12th of February, who is progressing nicely, along with another man named E. We found him through our area book and he seems very committed to gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon. So pray that we can get him in the water one of these days!
As I'm sure most of you know, the east got slammed with winter storms this weekend. We were told Thursday night to prepare for power outages and time inside the apartment. So we got some visits in Thursday and then the freezing rain started to come down at about 8 pm that night. My companion, who's from Idaho, kept telling me "These people are ridiculous. They're closing everything down for a little rainstorm." "Just you wait," I told him. We woke up the next morning and everything was iced over! We were tempted to go out and work, but the zone leaders texted and told us if it's snowing, raining, hailing, or sleeting in freezing conditions, not to go out. So we stayed in. We got some planning and cleaning done and I continued my journey to complete Jesus the Christ before I get home. I'm almost there ;). So we were pretty much doing that all day until around 3 pm when we lost power. Then it kind of got fun. The wind was picking up and the rain (ice) started coming down even harder. So we waited a little bit, hoped the power would be back on when we returned, and left the apartment to buy some ingredients to make tacos. We bought all our stuff: the cilantro, cebolla, carne de puerco, and salsa verde, and then we headed back to the apartment only to find that the power was still off! There was ice everywhere and no power to the stove, so I had some cereal or something and my companion went to bed with the hopes that the power would come back on so we could make our tacos. Nada. I kept reading and then I went out on the patio to see how everything was going. I got out there just in time to hear a massive tree falling to the ground. Thankfully it didn't hit anything.

Well, we finally got power at about 9 pm and then we went to bed. We woke up the next morning to SNOW! There was quite a bit, too. Probably a good three inches or so. So we made our tacos for lunch, went down to Clinton with a convert from Durham (Pedro) to have dinner with the elders down there, and then we headed to another meal. After that, we went to go check on B. He's the man with the tracheostomy. We had got a call from him earlier that day telling us that he didn't have power and wasn't expecting it until Monday or Tuesday. So we definitely kept him on our minds and then visited him when we got the chance. We got to his house at about 7:30 pm to find him sitting in his car with the door open trying to unscrew and remove the driver's seat from the car. I guess he spilled some Brunswick stew and desperately needed to clean it. It's just who he is. Things have to be clean. So we tried to convince him to stop and go inside, knowing that if he were to get sick, he could be gone, but he refused. So we helped him out a bit and then finally got him to come inside the trailer. All he had in there was a space heater and a lamp, all powered by a small generator. He doesn't like to ask for help and he's super independent. We tried to convince him to stay with a member, but he wasn't having it. He just didn't want to be a burden to anyone. So we hooked him up with a kerosene heater and left him for the night. We came back on Sunday morning (church was cancelled) to check on him. When we got there, the seat was removed from his car, his house was clean, the kerosene heater was outside on the ground, and the power was back on. What a relief! I was really worried about this man. So we spent some time helping him clean his car, kept him company, and then headed off to another appointment.

I'm grateful that the Lord has allowed us the privilege of serving his children here in Dunn. We're called as teachers and ministers of the Restored Gospel, but sometimes we're called on for different things. I'm grateful that we were able to be of help and that B is doing okay. Come to find out he grew up in Murray, Utah! Small world!

In other news, I got recalled as district leader for my last transfer in the mission. I think I'll be a lot more prepared to lead these missionaries than I was the last time. My goals before I go home are:
1. Help Elder Christensen learn to teach in Spanish
2. Help the elders and sisters in the district reach their potential and come to love the work.
3. Baptize.
4. Take every opportunity to teach and testify.

Thank you for your prayers in my behalf. I hope everyone survived the storms okay. Please continue to pray that I can end this mission strong.

Have a great week!

-Elder Landon Carroll

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Stay Inside.

January 19, 2016
Soooooo....we have some work ahead of us.

I was able to go down to Clinton again for a district preparation day and visit some more people. I saw Kent (the man who believes Jesus is black) and Sister Tyndall again! I got to talking to Sister Tyndall for a second and she asked me "Do you feel ready to go home?" I said "Nope. I've got some work to do." And that's how I've been feeling the past few weeks. Of course it would be great to be home watching sports and playing with my dog, but I'm just not done here. I don't feel done. Like I said earlier, there's work to be done. I just have to figure out exactly what the Lord wants me to focus on this last transfer coming up.

So let me tell y'all about some of our investigators. A is progressing....we say progressing, but really he just continues to learn. He's not progressing spiritually. We think it's due to his lack of understanding and lack of spiritual experiences. I guess what it comes down to is making sure that he understands the sacredness of baptism and the covenants he's preparing to make. He's under the impression that going through the missionary lessons prepares one for baptism, when in reality it's living the commitments that we extend. That's what changes people and that's what gets them living the Gospel even before their baptism. So we have some work to do with him. He has all the desire (we need to figure out why), but he just needs to keep his commitments and come to church with some consistency. But I'll keep you updated! He'll get there!

Most of our other "elect" investigators have either vanished off the face of the earth or just don't have the capacity to receive us right now. So the past week we've just been knocking.....and knocking....and knocking. And we're getting pretty good at it! I don't know why, but my door contacting is a little rusty, but we're starting to get in the groove of things. What's hard is that as soon as someone sees you on their porch, they've already made up their mind up about whatever it is you're about to offer. So it's our job to try and give them a spiritual experience on the porch so that they'll want us to come back. And we did do that last week. We have some appointments today because of it.

An update on Elder Christensen and his training experience. He's doing really well! He's much better than he was when he first arrived to the field. He knows how to teach, testify, and he's even starting to get the hang of Spanish. I'm just hoping I will have taught him enough before I head out. He's got a lot of potential to do a lot of good and I want to make sure he reaches his full potential.

Something funny (and creepy) that happened the other day. Add this to your list of cat stories (and reasons dogs are better than cats). So Elder Christensen and I were knocking doors in a neighborhood at around 6:30-7:00 pm. So we parked our car on the side of the road and began to get our stuff out. Then we look behind us and we see this black cat approaching. We named him Nightmare :). As we began knocking doors, he continued to follow us around. I think he was attracted to the lantern we were carrying or something. So we bade him follow. He kept following until we reached a certain point in the neighborhood where he was content to stay put. So we knocked some more doors and then headed back toward the car only to find Nightmare sitting in the same place we left him. We tried to get him to follow us, but he wouldn't budge. Then he started hissing! Didn't know why...So we bade him follow again....and he started talking. Like literally talking like a human. You couldn't understand what he was saying, but it sounded like someone possessed with a demon or something. He continued doing that and hissing and we began to wonder if maybe he was pregnant? Or in pain? Weirdest thing. I was just about to perform an exorcism when out of the corner of my eye I see something white sitting in the middle of the road. It was another cat. I approached it only to find that it was even creepier than Nightmare! It was just an orange cat, but it was so large and so ominous looking that I was compelled to shew it away. And then we got Nightmare to follow us again. He took a seat next to our hubcap and breathed a sigh of relief. I guess we....saved his life or something? Anyways, that's my cat story of the week. Still gives me the creeps. This is why you get a dog.

And that was my week! I hope that I can continue to work hard and testify every moment I get! Continue to pray for me as I wind this thing down!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Landon Carroll

Sunday, January 17, 2016

59 days left, but who's counting?

January 11, 2016

Yes, yes, I know. I have 59 days left. But who's really counting? I'm not. My focus right now is to get my new missionary trained and speaking Spanish and to baptize at least once, preferably twice before I head home. People often ask me: "Elder Carroll, you trunky yet?" I always give them the same answer: "What reason do I have to be trunky?" Yes, I realize that life continues after the mission and that there are people who are anxiously awaiting my return, but the life of a missionary is one that can't be taken for granted and that certainly cannot be wished away so quickly. Every day is different. Every time I wake up I have another opportunity to go out and serve someone or perhaps to astound someone with the doctrines of the Restored Gospel. Sure, there are times when I look out the window and say to myself "I'm not going out there today." But why listen to that voice? With so much power to bring about so much good, why would I rather sit in the apartment and rot? Just because it's hard? Just because I might get sick from tracting in the cold? Nonsense! The Lord is preparing His people and we are here to go out and gather them! And that's what we did this week...

We had a lot of success this week. We were able to finally get up with some of our most elect investigators and we had a great turn out at church. We've been working with a less active family since I got here and the progress has been slow to say the least, but they came to church yesterday! The mother, who is a member (the father and three of the children are not) finally found a job that allows her to go to church. And the father has decided to start coming to church frequently so he can be the spiritual head of the household. So they came, had a great time, and they've committed to keep coming. That's a success for sure.

We also got another man to come to church. His name is E. He was a referral from a member a while back and we hit it off with him really well the other day. We talked about feeding the homeless and such and he mentioned that his kids always like him to give candy to the people under the bridge. I told him "We have plenty of candy if you need some." We really do though. People think missionaries don't get enough sweets, so they just dump candy and doughnuts and cake on us. And they wonder how some of these missionaries gain so much weight haha. So anyways, we told him that if he came to church on Sunday, we would have a whole bag of candy for him. And guess what. He came! So we're gonna start teaching him and hope that he progresses quickly.

We also finally got up with another man. His name is J. He's eighty-three years old and his son and daughter are both strong, active members. He got offended at his Methodist church (that never happens) so he has decided to start coming to ours. Aaaaaaaand he wants us to teach him the "discussions" so he can understand clearly the point of view of his children. So we began with the restoration. We talked about God revealing His Gospel to the prophets, Christ establishing His church, and then the Great Apostasy. And then we moved on to the Joseph Smith story. At this point, J got a little restless. He said "I was wondering when you were gonna bring in Joseph Smith." So we continued, despite the apparent opposition to the idea of a modern-day prophet. He got a little more restless. Then he says "Can we just skip this part of the lesson? I already know the story anyway." He then turns to the member who's with us "I really love the Mormon church. I might consider being a member of it if they would just get rid of Joseph Smith. Him and his polygamy." He continued " I did a lot of research at the library when I found out my daughter was going to be a member of your church. I read book after book, some anti books, and then I formed my opinion of the whole thing. I think Joseph Smith was a charlatan." So we kind of left it at that. But we did say one more thing. "I encourage you not to close off your heart just yet." So he kind of stopped for a second and then turned to me again. "You know you might be right. If I'm trying to understand the point of view of my children, I might have to walk the path they walked. I'll think about things and let you know what I want to do next Thursday." And now all we can do is pray and hope that the Lord softens his heart before Thursday. I really have the faith that He will.

And here's my rebuttal...

"You say that you like the Mormon church. You say that you love the emphasis on family and how good the people are. You say that the members of the church have been there for you when the members of your own were not. You've seen the church bless your children's lives, and yet you say Joseph Smith was a charlatan? Good fruit cannot come from a corrupt tree. The reason the church is so good is because Joseph Smith was who he said he was. He died defending his cause. He testified of the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon to the guards who kept him enslaved and then shortly after sealed his testimony with his blood when an angry mob decided to take his life from him. And you're telling me that the man was a charlatan?!!?!?! Read and pray with a humble heart. The Lord will let you know through the Holy Spirit of the truthfulness of the Restored Gospel."

That's my testimony of the matter. This Gospel changes lives. It works. God lives. Christ lives. Joseph Smith was their prophet on the earth. Through him, the truths of the fullness of the Gospel were restored. I don't know how I know these things are true, but I do. They're engraved so deeply in my heart that I cannot deny them.

Please pray for me this week. Pray that I can go to work. People need this Gospel more now than ever.

-Elder Landon Carroll

From Missionary to Minister

January 4, 2016

Good morning,

There comes a point in every missionary's mission when they have to decide who they really are. There comes a point where you have to decide what kind of sacrifice you're going to make for people and what side of yourself is going to dominate your missionary work. This week was a time for us to literally transform from young men wearing black name tags to ministers of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not because we necessarily got any better than we were, but rather, because that's what was called for this week.

I was sitting on my bed reading some books New Year's day (we had to be in by 8 pm) and I got a call from one of our potential investigators. His name is L and this man was just having the hardest time. He called and said he needs a lot of help and that he didn't know else to call, so he dug out our number and gave it a ring. He told me "Man I am in bad shape. I've lost everything! I have nothing left! I'm about to put a bullet in my head and I have no idea what to do. I don't know how to handle this stuff." I was extremely shocked at what I was hearing! I had never before received a call like that nor had I dealt with anything remotely similar. So I calmed him down a little bit and asked what was going on. He told me that his wife walked out and that there was nobody there for him and that he was sick and tired of going through the same stuff over and over again. So I continued to get more details and found out that he's had an incredibly difficult life and that he almost feels abandoned and forsaken. So I explained to him a little bit about what was going on. I said "You've been living this way for a long time and it's time to make a change. You say you keep going through the same stuff over and over again, so what you're doing clearly isn't working. You need to go about things like you never have before. You need to make a change in your life." He then exclaimed "It's too late for me buddy! I'm 51 years old! It's too late to make a change!" I assured him that it was never too late. Then he continued to rant about his mistakes and how he wasn't worth anything, so I took it as an opportunity to bring in the Gospel. It really is the only solution for a man who has NOTHING.

So I began to talk and read about the Atonement, explaining first the love of God and that Jesus Christ suffered everything and knows exactly how he feels. Then I told him that he can start a new life, that he didn't have to be the person he was before. I told him the reason for the Atonement and explained what we could do to help him. I told him that he could make a change and begin to live a meaningful life full of hope and happiness. He said "I don't know how to do that! I don't know how to deal with this kind of stuff." I told him "What you've done in the past has obviously not worked because you've been in this situation before. So what I want you to do is get on your knees and ask God to lead you in the right direction so you can find happiness. Do that and then call me back, okay?" He agreed. So he hung up and then I just sat there in shock, praying with all my heart that Heavenly Father would fill him with His love. I sat and waited for about twenty minutes for this man to call back. Meanwhile my companion was in the other room watching some church videos. I sat there anxiously praying and listening to the Spirit to know what I would say when he called back. He didn't call, so I did. I gave him a call and he answered. I said "You still with me?" "Yessir. I'm doing okay." He then started ranting again about how much it hurt and how he didn't know where to turn. So I said "Well you can't lose hope L. There's a Heavenly Father who is looking down on you and hoping that you turn to Him. He's not giving up on you and we're not giving up on you. And you can't give up on yourself either!" He then started to be positive "No I'm not gonna give up. I can't give up! God loves me!" I was getting so happy. So I asked him "Do you remember when the missionaries knocked on your door a few weeks ago? How did you feel?" He told me "Happy! I felt happy for the first time in a long time!" I then went on "Well that happiness was real and was a sign from God that you need to follow." I then got his address and we planned to visit him tomorrow. I asked him "Do you have a TV or a radio or something? I want you to listen to that and get your mind off things so you can sleep tonight. We'll call you in the morning."

So we did. We called him and set up a time to visit him later that day. When we got to his apartment (shack) he was drunk and just depressed out of his mind. We sat down and read Alma 36 with him and assured him of our love and of God's love for him. We gave him a Book of Mormon and invited him to read and start making small changes in his life. He agreed. And then we invited him to church and set up a ride for someone to pick him up. He thanked us for coming and told me that I saved his life. I was touched! The Lord really used me as an instrument in His hands! We left him with a prayer, he left us with some YooHoo, and then we were off.

The next morning, he gave us a call telling us that he was ready to come to church. So we picked him up just before church and got him there a little late. This man was having the hardest time of his life. We sat toward the back of the chapel and he kept saying to me "I can't keep my head up. I can't keep my head up I'm so ashamed of myself." I continued to reassure him and help be an emotional rock for him. He hadn't been to church in many years and he felt unworthy to even be in the parking lot. As the testimonies were borne, he began to tear up. He was losing it fast. He turned to me "Hey buddy I'm gonna step out for a second." We went out in the hallway with him and he started toward the door. Then he began to weep, rather hysterically. I couldn't help but pity the man. So he went outside on the sidewalk and basically fell on his face because of all the anguish. He began to cry some more. He knelt on the ground and started to cry out to God for mercy, wondering how he even went down this road in the first place. The anguish continued. As we waited by the door we saw Brother Knight approaching us. He's our ward mission leader and the man who took L to church. He observed the situation and it seemed like he knew exactly what to do. So after his breakdown, L finally came back in, wiping the tears from his face. HE said "I'm so sorry. I just had a breakdown. It's not right for a grown man to be crying like a baby. Can I talk to one of y'all? We all just listened. He began to explain that he didn't feel right to be here and that he's afraid God doesn't love him anymore. Brother Knight did the smart thing and pulled him over to a room where we could all talk privately. Brother Knight pulled up a chair and sat in front of L and began to speak some of the most Godly words I've ever heard. He told L that everything was going to be okay and that God loves him know matter what he does. And then he talked about moving on from the past and looking with hope toward to future, trusting that God would lead the way. We all promised that with diligence and with the right support, he could change his life and become a new man. L said "That's what I want. I don't want to be stuck to the past anymore. I just want to be at peace with myself and with God." We told him that he had already taken the first steps by making the call and by coming to church and that he need only to continue walking the painful road of healing and forgiveness. So we gave him a blessing so that he could get through the day and the rest was just awesome. He participated a lot in Sunday school(which just so happened to be lesson one of Gospel Principles), slept through Priesthood, and then we took him home, promising again that if he did what he was supposed to do, he could become a new man. And that was it.

Not only was this experience emotionally and spiritually taxing, but it taught everyone who participated a valuable lesson. It reminded us exactly what it means in the scriptures when it says "mourn with those that mourn, comfort those who stand in need of comfort." That's the covenant we make at baptism and that's the charge we took upon us when we submitted our mission papers. This is not a number game. We're not here just to see people enter the waters of baptism. We're not here for the converts, the Spanish, or the food. We're here because there are people in this world who are lost and have nothing else to turn to. L is an example of one of those people. I don't know if I could have handled a situation like this a few months ago, but the Lord does a good job of preparing us for what's to come. I know that I'm here for a reason. I know that it's much greater than I can even imagine. We are to minister. That is, do the things that Christ did. And that doesn't only extend throughout my mission, but throughout my life. We represent him and He expects us to be ready when our number is called. Thankfully, I was.

Keep on believing. Don't stop progressing. And remember who you represent.


Elder Landon Carroll

Gotta keep Going...

 December 28, 2015

Good morning everyone! I hope you all had a very merry Christmas. I hope that you were able to feel the Christmas in the air this year and that you were able to make this season something special. It certainly was for me :)
First off, this week was wonderful. We weren't able to teach that many lessons, but we sure touched a lot of lives. We visited everyone we could before Christmas and dropped off plenty of presents and goodies. Something I've learned to love on my mission is just the joy that comes from generosity and giving. We gave a plaque with a picture of Christ and a scripture on it to a man named Mario and he said "this is the best Christmas I've ever had. Y'all just made my day." That made me feel really good. We spent the week doing things like that and experiencing lots of joy. Before my mission I didn't really know the joy of giving. But now that I do, I'm never going back.

Christmas day was wonderful. It started off with some really muddy basketball with my companion, then we came back and opened presents. I got a sweater, a UGA shirt, some socks, and a new watch! Life is good. Oh and I got one more thing for Christmas! That is, fat. I got fat for Christmas. There was no shortage of food this week. The families in the ward were especially generous. I haven't had American food like that in months. It really puts you to sleep haha. 

And of course the highlight of Christmas day was talking to my family. It was an amazing hour and a half or so. I especially loved seeing a new baby sitting on my dad's shoulder haha. What a cute little guy. And I loved being able to catch up with my family a little bit. Everyone is a little older, but nothing has really changed. We're still the same family and I look forward to the day when I can come home and be with them again.

Just a little update on the work. We had some great success at church this week. A lot of our less active members showed up and A even came! He's doing pretty well. We're really just trying to make sure he has a solid testimony and understanding of the covenants he's preparing to make with his Heavenly Father. We can't play games here. We can't baptize people that are just gonna fall away afterward. It's our job to make sure that these people are firmly rooted in the Gospel before they take the plunge.

Well, that's about all for this week. We now have to wake up from our Christmas nap and get back to work. I hope that we can have a successful week and that we can help someone progress in the Gospel this week.

Have a great week and a happy new year!

-Elder Landon Carroll
Love the little Elder Carroll Christmas ornament!  Looks just like him!

I'll be home for year.

December 21, 2015

Good afternoon everyone and Merry Christmas!

This week has been an eventful one for sure. Something I've learned to appreciate this week is just being there to help those in need. A lot of missionaries get caught up in the numbers, myself included sometimes, and it really takes away from what our calling is. First off, we're teachers of the Restored Gospel. But the calling of being a missionary is much more than just that. We are to minister, that is, do as Christ would. It's been a joy as I've been able to do that this week.

We were not able to meet with a lot of our investigators this week due to various things, but we did have a couple pivotal lessons. A especially. It's been quite the adventure with him this week. He's a very special kid and I just love him. I'm excited to help him progress in the Gospel. Let me tell you a little more about him. So he's half Mexican. His dad barely speaks English and his mom is American and apparently abusive. Read last week's email for a little more on that. So they finally found a house to stay in this week and we were able to go over and check it out. It's a little double wide that needs a lot of work, so of course we have offered to help them with that. We taught A the Restoration AGAIN and it was like teaching him for the first time. I guess his retention isn't the best. But he seemed to understand everything clearly and we drew a little picture for him to keep, so I think he'll be okay in that department. We told him though, that he can't get baptized unless he gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon, so that's what we committed him to do. He needs to read and pray and be solid so that he doesn't just slip away after his baptism. And if we do our job right, we'll be able to teach his dad as well and have the makings for a solid family. So that's A this week.

The next guy we met with was R. We met him knocking doors a couple weeks ago and we're glad we stopped by again. This man is very friendly and lives in a somewhat ritzy neighborhood, so it's almost surprising that he let us in. But he's very open to us and wants to learn a little more about what we do as missionaries. He's a very strong Christian man and even has his own online ministry. So we got to talking and it was like he was interviewing us or something. I played a long for a while and then I had to turn it on him. We got to talking about why people try to make God conform to their lives, rather than making their lives conform to the will of God. I don't think he ever had thought about that before, so it gave him the perspective we needed to start teaching the Restoration. He had to leave, but we invited him to read the pamphlet of our unique message to the world, the Restoration. I'm hoping he reads it and gets intrigued enough to allow us to keep teaching him. We have an appointment of Wednesday so we'll see what we can do.

We also had the opportunity to meet with B. I told ya'll about him last week. He's the man with the feeding tube. Well, he's been having a hard time so we've made sure to give him special emphasis this Christmas season. We bought him a DVD player and some movies for him so he can stay busy and sane. He has to gain a lot of weight for his surgery, so we can expect him to be laying on the couch for most of the time, trying to maintain his calories. I really hope and pray for this man. He has an amazing attitude and a great heart. I hope he gets better so he can enjoy food again. I can't even imagine.

Other than those individuals, no one really progressed. When we're not teaching, we're finding ways to help people during this season. It's that time of year when no one should go cold, hungry, or unloved. We try to make sure that we are touching as many hearts as we can with our service and wonderful message of hope. That's really what this season is about. Love and hope. We show loves to those around us and give them hope through the light of Christ. I love reading the Christmas story because it reminds me just how amazing the birth of the Savior is. The Jews were expecting him to come in power and glory, but instead he came as a humble baby. And the other amazing part is that shepherds and great kings traveled many miles to go and worship him. The wise men even brought him gifts of great value. Yet, he was only a baby. It's clear that those who visited him knew exactly why he came. The worshiped because of the hope he gave them. They knew that in that little stable was born the light and life of the world.

Should we not glory in the Savior? Should we not take this time, to truly show our love to Him? He came to give us hope and light and it's through us that others can experience that. We didn't teach as many lessons as I would have liked to this week, and of course we're not perfect missionaries, but as we go out knocking doors and visiting less active members, we make sure to show them the light of Christ.

He lives. I know it.

I hope you all have a Merry Christmas and that you let the light of Christ radiate as you worship and serve him. Please know of my love for each one of you.

Until next week,

Elder Landon Carroll

Learn to Be Grateful!

December 14, 2015

This week was another eventful one. We didn't teach as many lessons as we would have liked, but the work takes its turns and sometimes you just have to go with it. After all, we're not even in control of it. We do our part and the Lord takes care of the rest.

Since I've gotten here, I've really come to realize something. We all go through trials! Even if we think we're not going through some type of trial, we are. But that's nothing new. Just a small realization. What really amazes me is the way some of these people handle their trials. Here's a few examples...

B is less active member in his fifties. Come to find out he's from Murray, Utah where I was born! Small world haha. But his situation is very unique. Three years or so a ago he accidentally swallowed some Drain-o and it just destroyed his throat. So he had some surgery and they ended up removing his stomach. So now he can't swallow anything, has a feeding tube running through his intestines, and he has a tracheotomy for breathing purposes. And his digestive system continues to break down so he can only eat like two cans of Ensure a day. Needless to say, he's losing weight rapidly as he tries to stay alive. On top of that, his wife decided to divorce him after twenty-six years of marriage and is not making it easy for him. So his life is hanging on by a thread and the only hope he has is a surgery either in PA or in Utah. If the surgery doesn't work, he's done for. What amazes me about B is his attitude. He's in constant pain and barely has enough strength to lift himself out of a chair, but I never see him get down on himself. He knows that he's doing all he can and trusts in God to make things right. We go visit him once a week and he always attends us well and makes sure our needs are met. Wouldn't it be easy for B to just throw in the towel and give up? Couldn't he just be the most bitter man in the world? Well he's not. He fights and he continues to be grateful and positive. He's an example to me of how to withstand our trials. We have to look to the lighthouse of the Lord. We have to trust that things will be better, even though we can't even see that light at the end of the tunnel sometimes.

The next one is M. I'll save the details, but she had a very rough childhood. Her parents were in some corrupt cult and they traveled all over the world evangelizing. Well, she got abused and mistreated in the process and so she's naturally a little bitter toward her parents, particularly toward her mother. She struggles to forgive, but she doesn't let that get in the way of her relationships with others. She's looking to get married to a nice guy (who is in jail for some things) and she has two adorable daughters from her last marriage. We helped her change a flat tire on Sunday during church and she wasn't negative at all. She took care of her daughters and focused on being positive. Every time we do something nice for her, we get a text of gratitude a few hours later. Because of our love, she is now active in the church again and her fiance has agreed to come to church with her when he gets out of prison. Things are difficult, but she holds on to what she knows to be true and the people that show her love. She's an example to me.

The next one is our investigator A. He has a baptismal date for the twenty-third of January and is progressing nicely toward that date. So here's his current situation. We were eating dinner with some members and another youth member, A's friend F, called us four times, so we went ahead and answer it. Turns out something had happened to A and that F needed us to take him over there to see what happened. So we wrapped up dinner and quickly got over there. When we got there, A's mom and sisters were outside and A and his dad were on the clear other side of the yard. We went and talked to A and he told us what had happened. He and his mom got in an argument and she tried physically attacking him. He grabbed her to defend himself and then she kicked him out of the house, threatening to call the police if he and his dad wouldn't leave the property. So A got out of that abusive situation and was just looking for a place for him and has dad to stay for the night. So we spent three hours with them last night trying to arrange things and we finally were able to this morning. A and his dad slept in their van last night, but a member from the ward has graciously offered to house them tonight. What blows me away about A is his attitude. He could be angry and bitter about the situation, but he's not. He has an abusive mother and a less than ideal home life, but he continues to hold on to the strong relationships he has with us and with his friends. We were laughing and joking last night and he didn't show an ounce of anger toward the situation.

These people are examples to me! They're circumstances aren't ideal, but they acknowledge the blessings they have and our Heavenly Father who loves and takes care of them. I learned this week that we can't mope around because of our trials. There will always be someone who is going through a harder time than we are. It's our job to recognize our own blessings and be of support to those who stand in need of our help and love. And after we overcome our trials, we're able to empathize with those who may be going through similar situations. It's just a big cycle and if we do it right, we'll be happy and blessed in the end!

I know that this Gospel is true. People try to argue with me about the truthfulness of our message and the controversies in the church's past and present, but I continue to hold on to what I know to be true and the experiences I've had. I'm grateful for what I'm learning as a missionary and I wouldn't trade these experiences for the world.

Go out there and spread some Christmas spirit. Make somebody's day. Lift someone up. Be an example. Go get em.

-Elder Landon Carroll