Tuesday, October 8, 2013

October 8, 2013: Week 103 - The last email!

Well I'm not really sure what to say....I'm still alive and we'll see you on Friday!

OK, I'll write a little more than that ;) I just want to share my testimony to all and say that without doubt this is the work of God here in earth. To be a part of it and be in it 24 hours a day helps you see it and I know that this is his church and that we a part of his Kingdom here on earth. I love this Gospel and I love my Savior. I hope that all can do their part to help this great cause go forth, and that as the Prophet said, now is the time that we work together.

Love you all! and we'll see you soon!
Elder Jordan Duke

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

October 1st, 2013: Week 102: Penultimate email from the mission field!

How is everyone? I'm great! We had a good week and I have a lot to share. So first off yesterday I didn't write because we had interviews. It was great and we also had a capacitation where I learned a lot. In my interview with Pte. Smith we talked a lot about how to apply what you've learned in the mission for after and I really like some things he said. Part was about not having to stop being a missionary when the plack comes off and also about applying these things to now be the member that is there to help the missionaries in what they need. I have no desires to stop working when I get home and any time the missionaries need me I'll be there to help and be a friend and support to all who need it. He also talked about after the mission and a little about how the next biggest step is finding an eternal companion. He said you need to find someone who loves God more than they love you. I know that it's true and I've seen it in Pte Smith and his wife and you Mom and Dad, even through hard times and problems your love for the Savior and God is what kept you together. I want a marriage like that. Not trying to sound trunky at all I just appreciated that thought that President gave me.

Another thing that I like is how he talked about the atonement of Christ and something he said stuck with me, he said "it's not the nails that kept Christ on the cross, it's the love that he had and has for his father and his brothers and sisters that kept him up there." I know that it really is like that and that Christ really has a love without end for all of us.
This Sunday was great! We saw higher assistence (attendance), almost 60 again, and a miracle happened. We were standing in front of the church waiting for people to come up to greet them and a man walked up we didn't recognize. He asked if he could come in and we thought he was just a less active member. We asked some members who he was and some said that he came before. We talked to him and set up a lesson for later that day and we invited him to come to the ward choir practice that we had that day. He came to sing and we had a great lesson after. We found out that he wasn't a member and that about 5 years ago was the last time that he talked to the missionaries. He told us that changes of missionaries happened and he was forgotten, something that sadly happens sometimes, and he was having trouble in work and had fallen into depression and problems. He passed by the churh on Saturday and remembered how he had felt there years before and wanted to feel that again, so he showed up to church on sunday and now is super excited to come to all the sessions of conference and be baptized. He is a great man and I'm excited for him to start his journey as a follower of Christ.
That's about this week in a nutshell, just a lot of great moments and full of the spirit. I also have been praying about my mission the last few nights and as we were coming home on the bus from the interviews I was just meditating and thinking about the things I'd done and what I had accomplished and I just felt peaceful, I knew then that I may not had done it all perfect, but I knew and know that the Lord accepted my work and now that I have about a week left to actually work as a missionary I want to continue feeling that peace and knowing that I didn't flake out at the end, like Bro Shamy said, "Sprint to the end."
I'm happy the hear that all is well and that everyone is doing good, I love you all and will talk to you a little next week, I doubt the email will be long, but I'll still write to let you know I'm good. I love you!
Elder Jordan Duke

Monday, September 23, 2013

September 23, 2013: Week 101

How is everyone? I'm pretty sure I start my emails with the same thing every time, I just never know how to start..anyway, this week was good. We saw an increase in attendance in church which was great. I can see that this focus on the Menos activos and recent converts is doing good and showing results. I really enjoy working with them and helping them find that light that they have had once but lost. It's great to see the light come back on in their eyes and see how happy they are.

Yesterday something crazy happened. We were at the house of a family with some jovenes outside and they were playing marbles. Some kids were there also and one of the kids threw a marble at Fabian, one of the jovenes and he ran up to the kid, playing and pick him up. The kid got scared and ran to his house. The dad or uncle of someone like that came out and started yelling at Fabian and then he came up and started hitting him. At first we just sat there wondering what to do. After a few seconds I decided to stand up and try to calm the guy down and break them apart. We successfully got them apart and Fabian took off. It was super uncomfortable since we were there  trying to talk to them and the guy came out of no where and started beating Fabian up.

Another great thing we did was service at a  little school place for the handicapped. We painted the entire place and it looked great after. I always love serving others, it just makes you feel all warm inside. One of the Jovenes, Emanuel gave his testimony in church about it and he shared the scripture in Mosiah 2:17. Elder Watts also gave a talk and he did a great job! He has improved so much in spanish and everyone always congratulates him on it. I'm kinda sad that our time together is almost up. I've had a great time with him. Definitely one of my best comps.

I laughed when I heard that the props fell on the kids, It just seemed funny the way I imagined it! Everyone is ok though, right? Hope they do great at the next competition and win a bunch of trophies! 

Happy to hear that Sarah and Kaili and the rest had a great time, I love the dances and always had a blast! I can't believe how fast everyone is growing up! 

Next year BYU will win, because I'll be home to give good luck ;) lol! but seriously they'd better win! 

The stake young single adults supervisory couple.......no idea what that is, but it sounds like you'll be doing something similar as us, with working on making sure people go to church. Don't worry I won't be a problem of that when I get home.

I love you all and I want you to know that I love this Church and the happiness that this gospel brings. I know that the Savior lives and that He loves all of us. We can be happy and successful in life if we just obey the commandments of God and do all that is asked of us. I hope that you all have a great week and I'll talk to you next week!

Elder Jordan Duke

Monday, September 16, 2013

September 16, 2013: Week 100

How's the best family in the world doing? I'm good. This week has been interesting. To start off there has been some big changes here in the area Sudamerica Sur (South America South). Pte Gonzalez has changed the focus completely here and now we are to focus 2/3 of our time working with Recent Converts and Menos Activos. That's a very big portion of our time. It's a little weird having so many changes at the end of my mission, but I've already seen that it's revelation and inspiration. I've noticed throughout my mission that what was lacking in uruguay was retention of the new members. There were a lot of baptisms, but of those, few stayed active longer than 6 months to a year. 
So as of now we've had to drop some of the people that weren't progressing and put more attention on those that have strayed from the path. One of our missionaries here in the mission shared something with all of us and I'd like to share it with you.
"Cuando llegué a la misión mi mayor deseo era poder fortalecer la obra en mi país, antes de tomar la decisión si serviría una misión o no mi preocupación por la fuerza que la iglesia tenia en Uruguay era muy grande, cuando me enteré que serviría mi misión en Uruguay yo lo tomé como una oportunidad grande de poder ayudar a mis hermanos. Cuando llegué a la misión mi visión estaba un poco frustrada debido a que su objetivo principal era solo Bautizar!!!, lo cual no era malo pero los barrios en Uruguay poco a poco se estaban desintegrando yo lo estaba viviendo en mi propio barrio y en mi propia familia, soy el numero siete de ocho hermanos y el único activo junto con mis papas en el evangelio, cada día que pasaba en la misión mi única esperanza en mis oraciones era que alguien se preocupara por ir a rescatar a mi familia y que me dejaran hacer lo mismo por las familias que estaban perdidas y que necesitaban volver a tener esa luz, después de casi veinte meses de mi misión y solo sintiendo que la misión tenia un espíritu de competencia, el cambio a través de la revelación llegó, por fin la obra misional va a poder ayudar a edificar con metas realistas y con objetivos que ayuden a los barrios a ser edificados desde su punto mas débil los menos activos, estoy agradecido al Señor que escuchó mis oraciones y que la obra misional ahora actuará como los ángeles salvadores de almas que somos, mi deseo por ser parte de este cambio es muy grande porque se que hay alguien que se preocupa por mis hermanos que ahora ya no serán mas los menos activos de la lista de miembros, sino que serán las almas que debemos rescatar, siento tanto gozo cuando enseño con un objetivo mas elevado, el poder reactivar y lograr que familias lleguen al santo templo para mi es lo mas hermoso que puede existir en la obra misional. les prometo que el éxito vendrá al seguir estas enseñanzas, pero esta ves vendrá con mas seguridad y con todas las bendiciones que el Señor tiene preparadas para sus hijos gracias por sus esfuerzos y trabajo la recompensa es eterna las amistades que ganemos en nuestra misión deben llegar a ser eternas." Elder Silveira
Translation: When I reached the mission my greatest desire was to strengthen the work in my country , before deciding whether or not to serve a mission, my concern for the strength that the church had in Uruguay was very big, when I found out that my mission would be in Uruguay I took it as a big opportunity to help my brothers . When I reached the mission my vision was a little frustrated because the main goal was just Baptize! , Which was not bad but Uruguay wards gradually were disintegrating I was living it in my own ward and in my own family , I'm the seventh of eight siblings and the only active along with my parents in the gospel , with each passing day in the mission my only hope in my prayers was that someone cared about going to rescue my family and that they let me do the same for the families that were lost and needed to have that light again , after almost twenty months of my mission with the mission feeling like it only had a spirit of competition, change through revelation came. Now the missionary work will be able to help build realistic goals and objectives that help the wards to be built up from its weakest point the less actives. I am grateful that the Lord heared my prayers and missionary work will act as the angels saviors of souls that we are. My desire to be part of this change is great because there is someone who cares about my brothers who now will no longer be the less actives of the membership list , but are the souls that we rescue , I feel such joy when I teach a with higher objective, reactivate and help families go to the holy temple, for me is the most beautiful thing that can exist in missionary work I promise you that success will come to follow these teachings , but this time come with more security and all the blessings the Lord has prepared for his children thank you for your efforts and work the reward is eternal, friendships we win in our mission should become eternal . Elder Silveira
I really just loved what he expressed in his letter and I feel the same for the oportunity that we have now to actually help the Church grow here in Uruguay.
Good to hear that everyone is doing good at home and having a good time. Busy as usual ;) Tell Mango that I'm definitely going to help when I can. I hope this show is great! 
I can't believe that Sarah and Kaili are going to dances together! Before neither of them could even date! How time flies! You guys should feel really old, Mom and Dad! lol! 
Josh and Lauren, keep it up with doing good in school and just being like the best ever! 
Emily, Love you! I wrote you already so I'm not going to add anything here.
I hope that you all have a great week and that everything goes well! I love you and want you to know that this work is true and the Gospel that we teach every day is the real work of God. I love being a missionary and I'm grateful for the time I have left, I'm determined to make it the best part of my mission experience. Love you all!
Elder Jordan Duke
P.S. I think I'm fine, only problem is that my suit is a little dirty from mold that it got in Artigas and since then I haven't been in an area that has had a drycleaner....so I might show up with a used dirty suit...oh well.

Monday, September 9, 2013

September 9, 2013: Week 99

First off I haven't recieved the flight info yet, but it should be here in the bolsa tomorrow. Hopefully.....
Well this week was great! It ended super well with the baptisms of Ana and Sofia. Elder Watts baptized Sofia and Ana's dad baptized her. It was great to see the two girls enter into the waters of baptism. Elder Watts did good too and only had to do the baptism twice. Wasn't even his fault, her hair didn't go under the first time. Yes I'm sending pictures ;)
Also we had a miracle and one of the most spiritual moments in my mission, if not the most spiritual. It all started with an Hermana that gave us a reference of her brother named Cristian. She told us that he was athiest and that he never had thought of God and religion in his life. We went with her to meet him and set up a lesson. The lesson of L1 (The Restoration) went super well and the whole time he was just nodding his head and had a smile on his face. We got to the part of Joseph Smith and the vision and he was just fascinated about it all. When we told him that he could have that faith and be able to recieve an answer to his doubt, whether God exists or not, and that he could receive an answer, like Joseph Smith did, he was surprised. The spirit told us to ask him to offer the last prayer and very calmly we asked him to say it and he accepted. We got on our knees and he gave a very heartfelt prayer and when he finished his eyes met mine and they were wet with tears starting. My comp and I confirmed his feelings as an answer from God and he told us that he had never thought in his life that he would pray let alone feel what he felt after. I don't think I've ever felt the spirit more strongly in my whole mission than I did at that moment. The spirit bore witness to the three of us that God is real and he is watching and cares for all of us. I realized that even in situations that may seem a little hard or even impossible to make something happen, that even then, miracles happen. Because with God nothing is impossible. Now Cristian is super excited for our next lesson where we plan on giving him a "special Gift", BoM, that will help him grow his newly aquired faith in God.

The rest of the investigators are going good. Agustin couldn't come this week, but he hasn't missed a
Sunday in almost 5 weeks. His sisters still have problems with going to dances on saturday night and we are working with them to see that it's better to be in church than do those things.
We also found Natalia, who is the sobrina of an Hermana in the ward. She is really great and has already read almost half of 1st Nephi. The great thing is she also remembers what she read. Which is a relief because I hear all the time that answer of ya I read, but I don't remember anything...of course most of those times it's because they didn't actually read. We set up another lesson with her and commited her to pray and ask if the things she are reading are true. I really feel that she has real intent and is trying to learn more.

Elder Watts is doing amazing really. Everyone, members and missionaries, are super surprised at how fast and well he is learning the language. I can't take any credit either. He is just really determined and at every hour available he is studying more and asking how to say things. I'm sure that he will be fluent, or close to it by the time he finishes. He is really the best comp that I could ask for at this time in the mission and I love serving with him.

Great to hear that everything is going well in Utah. Crazy that it's raining so much. Here it hasn't rained for almost 2 weeks and the weather is super hot and humid and it feels like it's the summer, supposed to be winter here.... Today it's at 34 degrees Celsius! Which is around 93-94 degrees fahrenheit! (I had to look up that word to know how to spell it...:))

BYU beat Texas?! WOOT!!!!! Now if they could just keep it up for the rest of the year it will be a great year. Seahawks, cool I guess....lol! They're probably a lot better than the Eagles anyway, but I already chose my team and I can't be a bandwagonner.

I'm totally going to ask Emily how Logan is, both of them ;) I'm glad to hear that she is doing better this semester and that she got a great job. I wonder myself how she always get the jobs like that. I'm jealous. Also happy to hear that the other kids are doing good. Josh's drumset is awesome!

I love you guys and want you all to know that I know that this church is true. I have grown closer to my Savior throughout the time here and I now more than ever can testify of his love and care for us. I've had so many testimony builder moments in these 2 years and I've loved every minute of it. I love you all and hope that you have a great week!
Elder Jordan Duke

P.S. The pics are the baptisms and a fire of the sugar cane in Bella Union being burnt.


Monday, September 2, 2013

September 2, 2013: Week 98

Every doing good? I'm great! This week was good and it ended even better. Agustin was able to accompany us to church again for the 3rd or 4th time and Ana and Sofia and well. Also the attendance in church was the highest I've seen since I got here, with almost 60 people! The spirit was also really strong and I was able to get up and bear my last Fast Sunday testimony and it was great to feel the spirit working through me to touch the people in the congregation. It was funny a little after though, because some people got confused when I said that it was my last fast sunday and they were asking what day this week I was going home. I told them don't worry, that I have a month still to go!
Best announcement, on the 7th Elder Watts along with 3 more people will be dressed in white to enter in the waters of baptism. Ana and Sofia are going to be baptized and Elder Watts and the Father of Ana will be baptizing them. I'm super excited for them and I know that this step they're taking is a life changing one. I'm really happy that we are able to help more people come unto Christ and partake of these sacred ordinances.
The rest of the investigators are doing really well. Hugo is starting to warm up a little more which is great, because Rosa really has that stong desire to be baptized. Just that fact that she isn't married is holding her back.
I'm happy to hear that the house is yours. I wanna take this time to say I'm sorry for  all the times that I didn't want to listen and thought that I knew more than you did. I realize now that I was just being a stubborn teenager and most of the time you were just trying to help me succeed because you love me. Thank you for everything that you have done and for being the best parents in the world!
I love my family! I couldn't ask for a better support system. I've learned that the most valuable thing that we can strive for is an eternal family and exaltation with God. We were talking with a menos activo a couple nights ago and as we were talking everything got quiet and there was a little pause. After a few seconds the Hermano (brother) looked at us and a little choked up said, "It's not easy." I felt the spirit so strong and told him simply, "You're right it's not easy, but with God it's possible." I know that that's true and that it may seem impossible for man to accomplish what's asked of us, but with God we can do anything. I have seen people change their lives completely and it came only when they decided to take that step closer to their Savior in their lives and to keep the commandments.
I love this work and I love this Gospel. I hope that you all have a great week and that you can see the blessing of the Lord in your lives!
Elder Jordan Duke

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

August 27, 2013: Week 97

So it's just hitting me that I'm going in to my last change.... I don't want it to be over so soon.. No time to think about that though, because we have too much to think about in the work. A lot of people are progressing and some should be getting baptized soon if all goes well. Sofia and Ana should be getting baptized on the 7th of September. Sofia is the daughter of Rosa and Hugo, Rosa has fecha for the 21st of September, but has to get married before she can be baptized. We haven't been able to talk to Hugo about it yet, but tomorrow we set up a lesson where he is there and we can talk about it with him. I'm sure she can get baptized and that God can soften the heart of Hugo to accept getting married.
We had a great experience with Rosa as well where we got her to finally pray with us. She never wanted to and we were thinking about what to teach her and we thought of sharing lesson 1 and the story of Joseph Smith and how she can have an experience just as powerful as his with prayer. of course she wasn't going to see angels or God, but the feeling would be just as profound. She accepted to pray after the lesson and gave one of the most heartfelt prayers i think I've heard in the mission thus far. After she said that she felt much better and since then hasn't had problems with saying the prayer.
We have only one new change. Elder Rodriguez left and Elder Gutierrez from Chile is coming to be comps with Elder Mendoza. It's always interesting changes time, though up here in Bella Union we don't hear much of anything. We're a little bit islated or aislated however you spell it.
Glad to hear that Josh is getting a drum set. I put one of my goals to learn the drum set. knowing that you'd buy him one before I got home ;) Sounds like everyone is about as excited as usual for school. Emily: mixed feelings, Kaili: normal I think, maybe a little scared about being a senior, Sarah: good a lot of boredom, Josh: a little bummed out and bored, but super excited to be playing the drums, and Lauren: just overjoyed as always ;)
I hope you all do good in school and get good grades! When I get home I'm going to challenge you all to a "who gets the best grades contest!" I'm sure that I can win ;)
I love you all and want you to know that I know that this church is true. I love this gospel and the work that I'm in. I've come to love the people of Uruguay and I'm sad that my time here is almost up. I know that they will all be fine without me though and life moves on. I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Jordan Duke