Elder Taylor Dearden
South Carolina Columbia Mission
110 Oak Park Drive, Suite B
Irmo, SC 29063

taylor.dearden@myldsmail.net


Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas was Amazing!

Hey Family Friends and People!

Christmas was amazing! I had such a fantastic week, we did so many fun things and had some great spiritual experiences!

Christmas day we started off by going to Kathy's place and opening the gifts she had for all of us and giving her our gifts. She got us a bunch of board games so we have more stuff to do on P-day! Super thoughtful of her!

After that we went to Sis. Foster's home to have a Christmas Lunch! Sis Foster had made a fantastic tasty meal! Good Southern food! I wish I could have been able to eat all of it! It was so good. Kathy came with us to eat. We watched "He is the Gift" and sang songs and it was really just a picture perfect Christmas! Sis Foster Bore her testimony about Missionary work and talked about how important it is to her! She is just amazing, I will always remember her!

We went to the Manley's home afterwards to skype. The Manley's are my other favorite people! 
Skype was really run I thought, when we were talking I felt like it had only be a few days sense I had entered the MTC, it was fun to see how fast time moves!

Bryan was ill over the weekend! He wasn't feeling to good. Anways he asked us to give him a blessing. We brought a ward member with us, Bro Quinn. Bro Quinn looks like and sounds just like Elder Bednar, I always feel funny around him because he reminds me so much of him. But Bro Quinn sealed the anointing and gave Bryan a special blessing. I know Bryan loved it. 
Bryan is reading the Book of Mormon regularly now, and I know if he keeps doing that he'll finally commit to Baptism. :D

Lots of other things are happening, I love my mission most because of how much I learn each day! The Lord is very real!!!

I know that my mission is not about Baptizing, but inviting others to come to Christ, and I receive so much joy as I focus on the invitation, although many will reject it, or be slow to accept it I know the Lord is in Charge.

I love the Friendships I have made, and I hope they last beyond my mission.

I am looking forward to the New Year! Holy flip, 2015? How? I thought it was still 2012, the end of the world?

I hope your week is as great as mine was!

(In the picture we are squinting our eyes because the sun was right in front of us! But that is Sis Foster and her Husband Ellis, and Shomarkus, and investigator of the other elders, and Kathy behind me!)


Also, Thank you Freeman family-  I got your Christmas card this week!  Thank you so much!  Thank you everyone!  I had an amazing Christmas!  I feel so blessed to have such great family and friends!
Elder Dearden

Monday, December 22, 2014

Excited for Christmas!


Hey Family and people

Merry Christmas! I know my Christmas is going to be super awesome!!! Hopefully ya'll can have as good of a time as I have planned!

On Christmas we will be with Kathy, The Manley family(For Skype), and Sis Foster was going to talk about having all of us plus Kathy at her place! And Bryan said he's going to cook us up some food to keep in our fridge this week!

Last week was really really fun, we had some great things happen.

At the Cemetery we worked again and cleaned up some Grave plots. Sis Foster was her usual awesomeness and a guy walked by and asked us what we were doing, she told him everything.

It resulted in us gaining a new investigator, Shamarkus. He was so fascinated with what we were doing and is going to help us clean every Wednesday now. Sis Foster invited him to Church and he came! Sis Foster is on board, she knows how to do things. 

So....remember Dikerous, the strange guy who smoked in the church bathroom....well...he's out of jail now. So he contacted us and we have resumed the lessons. So quick miracle (I guess a miracle, or just a strange convenience)....because he was in jail he was kept away from drugs, and he is no longer shaky and doens't need to smoke a pack of cigarettes every day.

He came to Church again and loved it, he really has a countenance change and I am humbled that he has such a desire that he reaches out to us, we didn't really reach to him, he is coming to us.

Bryan has a second Job now so it has been difficult to set up a time to meet with him, especially during these holidays. But we stay in frequent contact. :D

Kathy is as awesome as usual. She gave us a large Christmas Tree and decorations to put up in our apartment. It was so fun as a district to decorate the tree, Kathy is so kind and I know we'll be friends for a long time! Love that lady! I forgot to take a picture of it, but I'll put it on next week.

Many other things happened but that was the highlight!

Hope ya'll have a great week :D

Thanks to these people for sending me cards, packages, and stuff :D

Grandma Dearden
Grandma Dixie and Grandpa Glenn
My parents :D
Kraig and Kim Dearden
Kyle and Kylie Boren
Linda and Kelly Batt
Leslie
Don and Connie Dearden!
My awesome ward and the youth!

And all the people who write me each week!!! Love yall! 

Monday, December 15, 2014

Loving Greenwood!

Family, Friends, People...

Life is going really good here in Greenwood. I am loving it!
Elder Lumpkin and I are like best buddies now, we seem to be able to read each other's mind and we're getting along real nice. 

Nothing super amazing has happened really. 

Just the usual. Our investigators are moving along nice and we are gaining more investigators as we go.
We have gained 3 investigators because of the service we do by cleaning the cemetery each week. People will come by and thank us for cleaning their cemetery and then ask why we do it....then we talk about family history and set up times to teach them how to use Family Search at their home.....which in turn leads to gospel discussions. Sis. Foster deserves all the credit though! She is amazing with her creative missionary efforts. 

The ward here in Greenwood is doing so great in missionary work. They seem to really be on board now with Hastening the work!

We got a new Elder in Our apartment...Elder Gardner!


Elder Gardner and I get along real nice, he is a fantastic addition to the apartment. He lightened the mood and things seem a lot brighter now. 

I am so excited for Christmas! It is going to be so fun here during Christmas.
The Weather has been so nice and I've decided that I prefer Carolina Winter over Utah Winter. 

A lot has happened, but I'll write more about what our investigators are doing next week! I've got quite a few emails to respond to this week!

I love ya'll and Hopefully my blog/letter next week can be a little longer.  

Elder Dearden

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Greenwood People

Hey Family and Persons!

This past week flew by! I can't believe I will have been out here for 6 months this week! What an Adventure. 
Rather than send a lengthy letter, I figured I Would send lots of pictures of the people I love out here! 

This is Sis Foster! MY FAVORITE! She is doing this project that we help out with where she is excavating a graveyard site from the 1800's that was covered under a forest. She has contacted the families of these graves and many of them are actually slaves buried here. It has been a great missionary opportunity and she has touched so many hearts as she has helped families here in Greenwood connect to their ancestors! I use my GPS to plot the locations of the graves and she is recording all the information so that people can come find their family. She actually found her Great grandfather here, and she has done the temple work for him and his family :D Such a cool thing!!


This Dan West (Left) and Brian (Right)
Bryan....He's ready to be baptized, he's just praying for a date now. 
Dan West actually grew up in Ogden Utah, and was a world famous gymnast believe it or not, and he was friends with one of my old Gymnastic Coaches (Dustin). Dan served here in Greenwood on his mission too! And he just ended up moving back here after his mission. Funny story.

This is Sherry Ingerto, she is a recent convert, Baptized in October. I played at her Baptism and we are becoming great friends! I can't wait for the day that she goes to the temple! She is an amazing person!

This is the Litchfield couple! They are so good to me, they make life fun and interesting out here!  Also the couple that visited my family in Utah.

This is Bishop Wren and His wife. They are so kind to me and I love them so much! They fed us Thanksgiving breakfast  2 weeks ago! 

This is Brother Pate, the Ward mission Leader! He's such a great support and help to everything we do here! He frequently gives rides to our investigators and does so much to help out! I'm really close to him, it will be a hard day to say goodbye.

These are my really funny redneck truck drivers I go see every once and a while. 
(Right: Claude) (Left: Jeff)
Claude is a Blackfoot/Cherokee Indian, his father was a medicine man (or so he claims). 
I love visiting with them, we have funny and interesting conversations. When I am in need of entertainment, I visit them. haha, funny people.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wow! December?!

Wow! December?! What happened!!!!
Things are fantastic here!

Last week we got to eat Thanksgiving with Kathy! It was really good! We went out to Cracker Barrel and had a great dinner! We also ate Breakfast with Bishop Wren that Morning. It was a tasty day. 

This is Kathy, my favorite person to eat out with.
Bryan is doing sooooo good!!!
We went over to his home last week on Wednesday and talked from 2 pm to 4 pm....during which we broke the ice and invited him to be baptized! He actually agreed! He says he knows that is what he is supposed to do, he however doesn't know when. He says he feels it is around the corner, but he is going to ponder on a date!
So after that visit, we went home for a bit, and then came back...! We talked again from 6pm to 8pm (His family was out doing sports and his wife was working, so we had some good quiet time to talk.)

He had never said a Prayer out loud before. We invited him to pray with us to see if this is the right path for his life. He was hesitant, but he finally mustered up the strength to say a prayer. It was a beautiful prayer, he started to cry in the middle of it, and said to us, "You don't know how much it means to me to call you friend". It really touched my heart! It has been amazing to see Bryan progress to this point! He said, "This is so close to my heart, what the missionaries have taught me causes my heart to burn".  It was so cool, he was able to describe to us how he felt, and he knew it was the spirit! He was filled with so much emotion and it just melted my heart to see the light of Christ awakened in his soul!

Bryan is truly one of the closet friends I have out here on the east coast! He is truly a brother to me! I love him to death!  Bryan came to church on Sunday for all 3 blocks again, it was so great. He participated in all the classes and he is really understanding everything! It is just so cool to see this happening! 

I actually gave a talk on Sunday I talked about how Missionary work for the Living goes hand in hand with Work for the Dead. I centered my talk around Elder Bednar's talk, "Missionary, Family History, and Temple Work"
You can read it here.

The ward loved my talk and I know the spirit was there when I spoke, it was a neat experience. We had a total of 3 investigators at church yesterday! It was another great week full of success!

So many things are happening here! Greenwood has really changed from the time I got here! It seems the missionary work has exploded, the members seem to finally understand what this is all about! Love it!

I find out this Saturday if I'm being transferred or not! I really don't know what will happen? I think I might leave? But who knows?!

The people in Greenwood are so close to my heart, it will be hard when the day comes that I have to say goodbye! I'm going to get lots of pictures of my favorite people here in Greenwood this week, so ya'll can see what they look like!

I hope your week is as fantastic as my last week was!

Elder Dearden

Monday, November 24, 2014

Fantastic Week

Family and Friends!

Last week was a fantastic week!

1st Story:

Bryan, he has grown so close to us and we are best friends now! I hope I can always stay in contact with him, we get along so well! Anyways, he wanted to thank us for all that we have done so he invited us to his home to have dinner. He wanted me to try something I have never tried before....Deer Burgers....I wasn't to found of the idea at first, but he convinced me that I should at least try it. So last thursday we went to his home and we ate the deer burgers. It tasted really good as far as flavor, but the texture...I'm still thinkin on it. But It wasn't bad, I really liked it, it just was different. 
We spent a lot of time with his family, and his wife for the first time sat down with us! She opened up so much and has agreed to take the discussions now! Bryan was so excited to see his wife come around and open up! We are going to talk about Eternal Marriage and how our families can be together forever!
Bryan has been such a blessing in my life!

2nd Story:

We had stake Conference this past weekend. We went to the adult session on saturday night in Greenville, and then realized that we wouldn't make it home until midnight, so we decided to sleep over at the Zone Leaders place, that was a fun night, I love Elder Cook and Elder Lee, they are great examples to me. Elder Cook and I stayed up for a while talking about of families, particularly on the Shaw side, it was fun to learn about our extended families.
Stake Conference was great! The entire theme was centered on Hastening the work! Every talk was about that! It was neat to feel the excitement the members had to further the work here in the Greenville area! 

President Turner talked at the stake conference about how the Church is one Body, and the missionaries are a special part of that body, but every part has a role to play and must function. It was great to hear him talk.

I talked with President afterwards about doing Kathy's father's temple work. President basically gave us the option to decide if we thought it would be effective. But after Counseling with him we came to the ultimate solution that it would be better for her to be baptized first, that way she can be in the temple to witness the baptism. We also discussed how us encouraging her to join the church in order to save her family who have past on could be a catalyst for her to decide to get baptized.

I am meeting with her tonight and will be bold in a loving way to explain that she needs to take these actions herself, and that it will bring many blessings her way if she will accept the invitation to be baptized.

I hope ya'lls week is great, the weather warmed up today! It feels great here now!
Thanksgiving with Kathy should be a blast! I am so excited for that!

Elder Dearden

Monday, November 17, 2014

Fruits of our Labors

So this past week I went up to Greenville again and visited the Zone Leaders (I was was transporting some other missionaries who didn't have a car so they could do exchanges with the zone leaders.) Anyways we ate Chinese again with them.

Kathy was so great last week! We had her come over to the Church and we watched, "The testaments". She loved it! She was crying at the end like crazy and she was trying to cover it up, she says, "My allergies are not to well right now"....haha it was fun to see her feel the spirit and to have her testimony grow. She is moving along one step at a time. We have a member in our ward, Sis Foster who fellowships her so well and she has helped Kathy with her Family History. They have gotten a lot done! Kathy wants us to go to the Temple and do her Father's work. She asked me to do that for him. The only problem is we need permission from President Turner to do that. So we're working on getting that permission.

Yesterday at Church was a super successful day for us. We had 3 investigators come to church and one less active return. It was great to see the fruits of our labors. 

Bryan, he came to church and LOVED IT! He announced in Priesthood, "I am loving it here, and everyone can expect to see me here a whole lot more!" He has been making some great friends here in the ward, especially with our Elder's Quorum president, President Manley. Bryan is so awesome and I love seeing him progress! Him and I have become such great friends! Love it!

Marshall Nichols- He is a son of one of the recent converts in our ward. He is 23 years old and we have been working with him for the past 2 weeks. He wants so bad to be baptised. He is going to do everything he can to prepare. He is awesome, he just showed up at church a couple of times and we started talking to him and he says he LOVES the church and is so excited to become a member. So we are going to start working with him this week, on Tuesday we will begin the lessons.

Sis Foster brought a friend to Church! Her name is Tequila, she is so sweet. Sis Foster met her while doing a Family History Seminar- thing. She said she loved church and we are excited to begin working with her too!

We have so many other people we are working with and we love them all! I wish I could tell all ya'll about them! But I ain't got no time! 

The work is going great and I love it!

Love ya'lls

Elder Dearden

.....haha we drove to this random church so I could take a picture of me in the pastors parking stall .

Monday, November 10, 2014

5 Months!

Holy cow, does time fly. Tomorrow will be 5 months?! I don't know where time is...I'm rather confused as to how time has moved so quickly.

This past week wasn't really eventful, we had lots of great lessons and lots of great things happened, but nothing out of the ordinary (Like last week). But things have been good. We had ZTM last thursday and it went well, I loved hearing form the other missionaries in the zone and getting different insights to how to do things.

Bryan- 
He kept his book of mormon reading assignment for the first time in the history of the world! He read Alma 32: about planting the seed. The spirit must have worked him over hard because he understood it so well that he actually taught me what he learned. It was cool to see him have that experience. He was also able to attend Church Yesterday again which was cool. He tells the members at the ward, "I'm taking baby steps, someday it will happen, but right now I'm taking one step at a time." Which is good, I know his conversion will be much deeper if he takes it one step at a time and really understands what is happening.

Kathy-
We ate dinner with her again. We are such great friends. She is actually is going to take us out for thanksgiving, that will be great! I'm excited for that!

We met with many other people this past week, but nothing super amazing or noteworthy. 
I'm learning a lot about myself. Especially as I work with Elder Lumpkin and help him to progress and develop.

I love ya'll, sorry for not having to much to say, but I'll attach some funny pictures of signs and stuff you see here in South Carolina.



Monday, November 3, 2014

What a Week!

This past week has been crazy! Lots of stuff happened!

1.  I met the reincarnated black Jesus?

So I've ran into this crazy lunatic several times actually, but this time I decided to get a picture of him :D. It is hilarious, he believes he is Christ reincarnated to prepare the world for the last days, he seems to always find us (This time outside of walmart) and then he thanks us for the work we do....haha....that part is awkward....I always refer to him as, "sir"....but I don't know his real name or anything. Anyways, he let us take a picture with him, he says it is worth lots of money...haha, he honestly belives he is God, but oh well, this world has crazy people for a reason right? He hauls this staff around and approaches people and says, "I am he"....awkward.


2. It SNOWED?! 

Ya, this was really weird, we woke up saturday morning and there was snow everywhere....the people here in the south were freakin out! They said it has never snowed this early in the year in over 120 years! So that was a shocker...however by noon it was all gone and it was nice and warm again.
But....ya that was strange!


Our investigators are doing rather well.

We met with Susie again this past week, she loved hearing the message of the restoration. She is so excited to learn more about this church. She came to church again yesterday! She is progressing very fast. She loves the church and she says she wants to be baptised after she receives her own witness! 

Bryan is doing pretty good, we finally were able to have a member teach with us, and they connected really well. Bryan is so cool, I love being with him. I can't wait to see where his progress goes!

Kathy was ill last week, she ended up going to the hospital, we gave her a blessing and did some more service for her throughout the week. I love her too, she has such a sweet spirit and she is a great friend!

I hope all is great back home! 
Thanks for the halloween packages people~! LOVED IT! 
 Elder Dearden


Monday, October 27, 2014

One Of The Best!

Ward Halloween Party

This past week was probably one of the best ever!

Elder Lumpkin and I are getting along so great now! We trust each other and understand each other! I have seen him grow so much and I have seen how he has helped me grown even more!

Life is so good right now!
We had so many great things happen.

I'm not getting transferred! YAY! I'm so excited to be staying here in Greenwood! I couldn't have hoped for better news!

First off, we met with a Less Active John Mitchel, he hasn't been to church sense 1995! Before I was even BORN! CRAZY! He was so thrilled when we knocked on his door, he hasn't had contact with the church sense he was baptized 19 years ago! Anyways, we started talking with him and he was just so happy! (BTW John so you can get a visual is an older black guy in his late 60's, lives in a mysterious trailer home in the back of a jungle...)
He was so kind to us and so thrilled to have us teach him!
He came to church on sunday! I was so happy for him, for him to take the sacrament again after 19 years! What a story! Anyways he was great at church! And Guess what?! He brought a friend! (Suzie Rice)! She is a non member who after being at church yesterday loved it and wants to take the discussions with us and get baptized! I feel like I'm in a dream, things are just rolling out crazy! I felt so honored to help John get back to Church after all those years. He loved Church and is coming back next week! We are going to have him teach with us as we help his friend investigate the church!
 
On Saturday the Sisters in our ward had a baptism, I played a special musical number with the sisters at the baptism. "Savior, Redeemer of my Soul" Sis Young sang and Sis Lower was on the violin. 

Bryan: 
He is doing great, he went camping last weekend, so he was unable to go to church, but he is still planning on next sunday. We are going to teach him with Bro Manley on wednesday, which will be really good!

Kathy:
She came down with a terrible flu! She is not doing good at all! She is stuck in bed! Please pray for her! We talk with her on the phone everyday. We are going over today hopefully to give her a blessing. She is so sweet and has done so much for us we are doing our best to help her get through this sickness.

There are lots of other great people who we are working with! I wish I had time to tell all the miracles!  The Lord's hand is there, you just have to know it!

I'm going to start getting pictures of my favorite people here in Greenwood, I'll post some of them next week! That way ya'll can put a visual to the people I get to work with!

I hope ya'lls week was as good as my week was!

Love ya!
Elder Dearden

Happy Halloween!   This is my District.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Hey People



Hey People
This past week was awesome! We taught some great lessons and had some great success! 
We went to Greenville last p-day and had a blast! We went to this waterfall in the middle of the big city. I'll attach some pictures of our adventure in the city.

Bryan: He is doing amazing!!!! We had some great lessons with him and he came to church on sunday! He loved it and wants to come back next week! He is so cool! I really believe that he is someone special! Especially because he gave me a rock! He ain't any normal guy that's for sure! I can see him in my mind as a great preisthood holder someday! He basically already lives the gospel, he has a strong masonic background and really likes that our church heavily reflects the same concepts. I can't wait to have him at church again! 

Kathy: She is as great as ever! We hang with her a lot, she called my mom last week apparently to have a fun conversation! She is so sweet and she is doing a lot with her family history! She has gone back 3 generations and realized she has some Cherokee background! That was a cool discovery!

I'm starting to think I'll be here in greenwood for a while longer...Elder Davis (my trainer who is home now) He says that he heard that they are pushing for 9 month areas to become the norm...so we'll see. 

I love ya'll and I hope your weeks go good! I would write more but I'm a little busy, got lots of emails to reply to.

Elder Dearden




Sunday, October 19, 2014

A Message



reposted from October 13th. (I accidentally deleted it..)

Hey Family and Friends

Life is great out here, Elder Lumpkin and I are having a blast, today we are going up to Greenville to hang with the Zone Ledars for p-day, that should be fun!

Our investigators are doing great:

Kathy: She is still actively involved with Family History, she loves meeting with us and takes us out to eat every week. She is great. She is progressing, but it will be on her own time, which might be a long time....but that's alright, she loves the church and the people and in time she'll receive her testimony!

Brian: He is doing great too, he went to Texas last week to expedite some prisoners, so we didn't get to meet with him much. But He actually gave me some more rocks as gifts, I told him I felt like he was giving me to many gifts, but in a text he responded, 
"Let me throw this one at ya, You said in your travels people have given you tokens like those stone's or some other things you may have received. Those of Gifts. And like those things the messages you guys share can be considered as such. And this is what I mean by that.
G=God
I= IS
F=Forever
T=True
Hence the word gift. The message you share is that, a gift, a small token which will eventually lead you to the truth. Take care and have a good night". 
(FYI: he is a freemason, hence the terminology he uses :D)
Obviously Brian understands the meaning behind our message, I think in time he will be able to be baptized, but it may take some time, but I think the spirit has worked with him, especially with the way he sees our "message" as a gift, which to me shows that he understands what we are trying to do.
We have many other great investigators, but I don't have much time to talk about them, maybe next week i'll talk more about them.

Elder Lumpkin is doing great, his message and story of overcoming cancer is so inspiring to our investigators, the spirit rocks their hearts when he tells it! I feel so honored and privileged to serve with him! He is a special soul!
Sorry, no pics this week. I'll send some next week!

I hope ya'll have a great week!

Elder Dearden

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Special Gift!

Hi family and friends.

I Want to thank everyone for sending me so many gifts, cards, and letters! I loved it!
I had some really great experiences last week!
I'll talk about the best one first.

Brian- So we met Brian just over a month ago, he is a cop who serves warrants. We have been visiting him weekly, and he tells us his cool cop stories, like how he almost got blown up and stuff like that. He's really cool.

Well we sat down with him last week to teach him again (we had taught some of the restoration). We showed him the Mormon messages video about fatherhood. It was perfect because his 17 year old son sat in on the lesson with us and watched the video. His sons name is Trevor, we gave him a Book of Mormon and he loved it, had so many questions and was excited to learn more about it. I don't go into to much detail, sufficient to say it was a great lesson. ( Brian saw my square mission stone I haul around and asked me why I carry it, I told him It reminds me of Christ).
Anyways as we were about to pull away in the car Brian comes running out of his home and stops us. He approaches me and says, "I want to give you this rock, I found it 23 years ago by lake Michigan, I don't know why I've been hauling it around for 23 years, but I feel like you should have it". I was so touched by him giving me his stone! I mean, I really loved teaching Brian, but I didn't know that he liked us that much too! Now, I Didn't realize how amazing the stone was until we got home and Elder Reed pointed something out to me, it's in the shape of South Carolina! I'll attach a picture.

Anyways, that was one of the highlights of the week!!!! Great time! 



The second story:

So we had conference! I loved all of it!!! It was just great!! (I probably over exaggerate how great it was just because I'm out on a mission and I see the world from a skewed perspective now, where everything is righteous and spiritual haha.)
We'll I kept trying to get Kathy to come to conference with us, and she just was so busy and couldn't make it, but then we were finally able to get her to come to the 2nd sunday session! It couldn't have been a better session for Kathy! With the emphasis on Family History (which is why Kathy started investigating in the first place) and then Elder Bednar's talk directed to those not of our faith! She was emotional during Elder Bednars talk, I know she received a witness that he was an apostle and prophet of the Lord. Kathy had such a great time, loved the Mormon Tabernacle choir and it was just great for her! She is working with our ward Family History Specialists right now and that is perfect for her!

At "Five Guys"  after Zone Conference
We had interviews with President Turner last week too! I loved being with President Turner, the Spirit just burns true that he is a man of God. I am so honored to be serving under his direction here in the Carolinas! 

Life is so good right now, the Lord has lifted burdens and has helped me to overcome my fears and stresses! His Atonement is so endless and powerful, never underestimate the power of a sincere prayer! 
I couldn't be happier right now! 

I hope ya'll have a great week!

Love,
Elder Dearden

Monday, September 29, 2014

Smoke?

Friends and Family.....


So this past week was really interesting....lots of strange things happened...so i'll tell ya'll a story from last week.

Last Tuesday, I had an appointment to go see Dexter, a member (Bro Harrison) (He reminds me of Obama, the way he looks and sounds) he went with us to go see Dexter....well we got there and Dexter wasn't home, and so I was like....crap...I had this member drive out here to meet this guy and now he isn't here. But the Lord had another idea. A family from across the street came outside and quickly invited us to come into their home to teach them. I don't know why they wanted us to teach them, they had never spoken with missionaries before, so I was like...Ok....we'll come teach you?

So we taught them, the Cullen family. We taught them the restoration and it was very powerful, they wanted to come to church and have a desire to be baptized. They have so much Potential. Broth Harrison said he would pick up Dikerous (the 32 year old son of the lady we were teaching) and bring him to church....

Well Dikerous came to church alright...shaking like a skeleton. Half way through sunday school he asked where the bathroom was....I was like oh no.....so I took him to the bathroom, I thought I would walk out for a few minutes to see what he would do if no one was there....and sure enough when we walked back in he was smoking in the church bathroom.....I flipped out and made him come out, put out his smokes, I took him outside the church and chewed his fanny off....I explained that the Lord was upset that he would smoke in his church (Dikerous knew better) and I told him that if he wanted to come back into the church he needed to take his drugs somehwere else, and he could come back in for priesthood hour if he showed me his pockets and that he had nothing in them....so he disposed of his drugs and he came back in....well I hurried and found the bishop and explained to him why the bathroom was stinking...so while I was talking to Dikerous he told the priesthood brethren the situation, and they quickly put together a lesson to teach during the priesthood hour about addictions.........

It was amazing, there were so many brethren that were sharing stories about how they overcame alcohol and drug addictions, and how there was hope, all the while Dikerous had no idea that they were really talking to him, but Dikerous was super receptive of the lesson, he wants to keep coming to church, he has a desire to be baptized, he has a very, very, very long road ahead of him. I told him he would need to make some HUGE adjustments in his life if he wanted to be baptized, but he claims he wants to make those changes. He understands it will take a while and won''t be easy. 

I was really frustrated at first that the lord would send someone with problems like this to me, but then I realized that Dikerous is the one who found us, he knows he's got issues, and he wants to change so much, he is reaching out of the pit of addiction wanting relief, Bro Harrison (the High-priest group leader) is going to help, we're getting him involved in addiction recovery programs and hopefully we can make something happen, of course the Lord is who will make the difference. 

Thankfully we have individuals in the ward who understand Dikerous situation, they don't judge him, they want to help, which is really good.
This should be an adventure, I'm excited to help Dikerous. 

Well there's my story for the week, and I think it Qualifies for a WTH moment: Headlines for Elder Dearden's weekly Newsletter: INVESTIGATOR SMOKES IN CHURCH BATHROOM....
Yep was interesting...
Hope ya'll have an interesting week like Elder Lumpkin and I did!!

Elder Dearden

Monday, September 22, 2014

New Adventure!

Friends and Family!

This past week has been an interesting adventure!

Elder Davis went home! I was super sad when he left, I love him so much, and he was such a great example to me! I feel honored though to have been trained by him!

My new companion is Elder Lumpkin, He is an amazing individual. He had cancer when he was 10 yrs old. The cancer left him with Scoliosis, a balance disorder, and other concerns. He is actually legally blind.

I was given driving privileges, now I drive a Ford Fusion, it's a nice car, and I like driving.

It has been a stressful week for me, I now am the senior companion and run the show here in Greenwood. I didn't realize how much Elder Davis actually did for me until now that he is gone! I will need your prayers, I want to keep up the work that Elder Davis and I did, I don't want to work to slow down, hopefully I can live up to the example Elder Davis set here.

Our investigators are doing pretty well, we didn't have much time this past week to visit with them because of the transfers and adjusting to our new companions. I will do better to update ya'll on them next week.

I have learned so much about the Lord's atonement, HE is so real, His atonement can help us overcome stress and anxiety! I have had a lot of that this past week, but the Savior's atonement has made it possible for me to overcome those negative energies!

I hope ya'll have a great week, hopefully I'll have time to write more next week. 

Elder Dearden


Monday, September 15, 2014

Three Months Already?

People who read this blog:

Today is the 15th- Those of you who know me well know that good things always happen on the 15th ;D

Life is great out here in Greenwood, I will definitely be staying in Greenwood another transfer. I will find out who my new companion is on Wednesday. I am excited to travel back to Columbia and be with all the other missionaries! 
I will really miss Elder Davis, it will be a strange adjustment to get a new companion, but I'm sure the Lord has something good in store. 

Last week was an adventure with our investigators! We taught so many powerful lessons, I'll go through our investigators. 

Marshall:
We met with him last week with one of the members from our ward, they hit it off so quick! They related to each other and made great friendships! I am so excited that they like each other so much! Bro Manley is the name of the Member who is doing an amazing job at fellow shipping! Marshall recognizes that Satan is going to try to do everything he can to stop him from being baptized, life is difficult right now for him, but I am excited to see how the Lord will raise him out of the darkness. He has such great faith already that the Lord will help him! I love Marshall, and I look forward to seeing him again this week!

Kathy:
She is doing as great as ever! We are taking her today to meet the member in our ward who runs that youth school, we will be having dinner with them, along with many other members in the ward. They are having like a farewell dinner for Elder Davis, so lots of members will be there, so because of that we decided we would invite Kathy, so we are super excited to see her connect with those people!

Myia and her Mother Barbra: 
They are doing super well! We taught them the plan of salvation and they loved it! Myia has expressed a desire to be baptized, we will be meeting with them later this week! I love them so much, they have such a sweet spirit about them! It is neat to see people come closer to Christ!

Dexter:
We met him a few weeks ago while he was drinking on his porch. We approached him and he immediately threw down his cigar and put away his drink, he was embarrassed and didn't want to talk to us while he was indulging in the drugs....So we taught him about repentance and set a time to back and teach him. We gave him the restoration pamphlet, and came back a week later. He had studied it like crazy! He claims to believe it all, and expressed more interest in what we had to share. So we gave him the Plan of Salvation pamphlet and came back the next day. Sure enough he studied it like crazy again and said he believed all of it! He has made a commitment to give up smoking, we told him it will be a slow process but that the lord will help him every step of the way! So many other things happened, but it would take to long to type it up, but I am so excited to see Dexter Progress! He has some really good questions, like, "Who Created God?".....I was nervous to answer at first, but I told him that one quote, "As man now is God once was, as God now is Man may become".....strangely he thought that made perfect sense (which is awfully unusual for people in the south to accept that kind of thinking). So anyways, he's a deep thinker and he's realizing that our message actually can answer all his 'deep' thoughts....

Other stuff happened that was super fun and I learned a lot! But I ain't got no time to talk about it!

WTH moment of the week:
I was on an exchange with Elder Barrow and we were biking back to the apartment when a big bearded old man on a bike stopped us....(He looked like Si from Duck Dynasty).....He then started yelling (in a cheerful way) about how he had been 'saved'.....He thanked us for our service and told us we were doing a great thing....but then.....he....welll.....at this point tons of cars had stopped and were watching us from the side of the road listening to this crazy old man yell about his 'bein saved' experience.....He then Fell on his knees and screamed at the stop of his lungs, taking the Lords name in vane (I think he thought he was praising God or something), it was just super awkward, from a distance it may have looked like we were casting devils out of him or something....but ya...we just hoped on our bikes and rode away, I think he was high or something, it definitely wasn't normal....I remember saying to Elder Barrow, "What the Hell just happened"...........Yep....Life is Good!

Have a great week Ya'll.......

Elder Dearden



My District here in Greenwood.

This is the Litchfield property we go to on p-day, where I saw those indian paintings, I'm going there again today!

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Lord keeps me busy!

Family & Friends-

I'll just update ya'll people on the people we've been teaching!

Marshall: 
He is this awesome guy we have been working with for about a month now, he has a great family! They are so kind to us! We watched the restoration video with them last week, and his kids seemed to really like it! Their mother has been reading the Book of Mormon with them, but she wanted a simpler one so that her kids could understand it, so I went to the ward house and sorta stole a Book of Mormon stories book....I Plan to replace it of course, but anything for an investigator :D. I am so exctied for this family! They want to come to church, and they have expressed a desire to be baptized! They text us a lot, so that's good, they seem to really like us, we just hope we can help them to like the people at church! 

Kathy:
Kathy is as awesome as ever! She has been studying a lot about the church and we have been doing some service around her home. We have connected her with a local member here who runs a youth correction school, because Kathy has a PhD in Psychology we thought they might want to meet, and Kathy has actually offered to volunteer at this members school, and if that works out, that will be perfect! She'll have a daily fellow shipper! So anyways, things are great with her. She has to go to North Carolina this week for a medical appointment, she has rods in her back, and she needs them checked on or something so we won't be able to see her this week. 

Myia: 
She is a sweet lady we met last week, we have been teaching her how to pray, we've kept it really simple, but she is doing really good, we are meeting with her again today!

Tim, Ed, and the others are still doing great! Just no major stories with them right now, but they are doing good! 

Last week we had a Zone Conference and that was really fun, I always love getting together with the other missionaries, reminds me that I'm not alone in this jungle of South Carolina!   It's weird to think I only have 1 more week with Elder Davis, he's going home after this transfer! I'm excited to find out who my new companion will be!?

Something kinda funny that people say here, they use triple plurals....they say for example, "Is that all ya'll-es bikes?" It's really funny, they also don't really use the word "does". You may ask them a question like, "Does it make sense to you that we need a modern prophet?" They will respond, "It DO"----they won't say "it does"....It Do. 

Anyways, hope all ya'll'es week has been good! I love it here! The Lord keeps me busy!

Have a blessed week! (they say that a lot too, or, 'praise God, have a blessed week') :D

Elder Dearden

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

September Already?

People who read my letters:

I had a super awesome week! We have some awesome people we are working with still I'll update ya'll on them!


Kathy:

We were able to help Kathy connect with the Genealogy lady in our ward! They are going to be great friends! Kathy has been reading the Book of Mormon and reading about Joseph Smith. She is still extremely interested in our Faith. She took us out to Chinese Dinner last week and it was super fun, we taught her while eating good food :D

She Took us out again yesterday! It was even better! We ate at Outback and had some good steak! She shared with us a cool connection that she found, something about a 7 year cycle in Joseph Smith's life, and she saw that as a sign that he was a prophet, I was like, "Whatever floats your boat". But she seems to be really feeling the spirit as she learns more! She wears a Thunderbird Turquoise Necklace from the Navajo reservations every time she talks with us, she thinks it's cool that we have both been there, so she likes to wear the necklace when she's with us. It's really cool, it almost looks Egyptian, but i'll see if she'll let me take a picture!

Ed:

Ed says he'll finish the book of Mormon by next week, he basically reads all day, which is good. He's a very independent guy and wants to figure it out on his own, which is good, he'll feel the spirit and hopefully he'll understand what he needs to do. 

We met another guy his name is Tim:

Tim lives near us and we went to his home 2 weeks ago and shared with him the restoration pamphlet. He then took it to his pastor that Sunday and asked his pastor about it: You can already see where that went, the pastor basically told him a bunch of lies about us and hated on us. But Tim told us he felt the spirit compelled him to pray about us, so he prayed, and while he was praying a voice told him to read in Romans 12: Where it says we are all brothers in the Faith, and he felt like he would keep meeting with us. So we shared with him the Book of Mormon, at first he rejected it and said he refused to read anything outside the bible, but then I compared the way the scribes refused to give Christ a chance (and then eventually took it to the extreme and Murdered Christ and his Apostles), and I told him how the world sometimes refuses to give Joseph Smith a chance and they reject him (and it eventually went to far and they Killed Joseph), Much like the scribes said, "We have the Law of Moses, we need no more than that", today they say, "We have the bible, we need no more!" But in reality Christ didn't destroy the law, he fulfilled it, I told Tim that the Book of Mormon doesn't destroy or discredit the Bible, it rather Fulfills it, the same way that Christ fulfilled the Law of Moses, Tim got really emotional and he asked us to pray with his family, we stood in a circle and Tim prayed and thanked God that we brought the spirit into his home, in the prayer he told God that he would read the book of Mormon and asked that God will reveal if it is true or not. It was an amazing experience! I was even a little emotional. But I am so excited for Tim, I hope his family continues to learn more and that the spirit will continue to lead them to the truth, they would be an amazing LDS family! 

There are many others who are doing great to, but those are just the highlights! Dan is doing good, we're just having a hard time finding a time to meet.
 
I really wish I had time to talk about all the investigators we have! They are all amazing people! I've noticed a huge difference in the type of people we are working with now, at first we worked with lazy people, but the people we are working with now are very energetic and excited to learn, and they keep their commitments! 

GOD IS IN CHARGE! THE CHURCH IS TRUE! SATAN HATES ALL OF US! BUT OUR SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST LOVES ALL OF US! LIFE IS GOOD!

I love being on a mission! You can really see the Hand of the Lord!

Elder Dearden

Monday, August 25, 2014

Awesome Week!

This past week has been awesome!!!!
I'll just tell ya'll about the people i've been working with!

Cathy:

She is an sweet lady we met on the side of her home while she was getting mail. She has traveled the world, she spent time in Germany, she does some kind of mental health profession. I could go on and on about the stories she has told us, but she even spent time down on the Reservations in Nevada in Tuba city! She has some cool stories of helping some Hopi people! It's strange how I run into people who I can somewhat have a conversation with! I told her about the Hopi Outreach thing, and she thought it was great, I think she wants to try to help, but we'll see. She wants to learn everything about our faith, she even asked us if we would do the baptism for the dead, for her father! It's almost like she already believes! So, if anything we'll be able to help her get her Genealogy work in the temple done! She wants real bad to sit down and do some family history stuff with the church, so we are helping her with that! She it taking us out to dinner tonight! I think she is just amazing, I really hope that we can continue to work with her because she is ready for baptism, we just need to teach and not let her tell us stories, we tend to get sucked into her stories because we love them!! Anyways, i'll report back on her next week.

Gabell:

She is a sweet older lady too who we met 2 weeks ago, she has been reading the Book of Mormon and loves for us to come to her home and talk about the gospel with her, She says she prays every night to know if Joseph Smith is a prophet, she wants so bad to have a witness! It's like she knows in her mind that he is a prophet, but she wants to have the Holy Ghost confirm it! I think she will convert quickly if she can get that witness, so perhaps ya'll could pray for her to get that witness! She wants so bad to have it! (BTW- she watches Sister Wives, and she knows they are crazy and not the real mormons, but we do have some conversations about it sometimes! haha reminds me of being home watching Sis Wives every sunday!!!) 

Dan Luke:

He is a super nice guy, has a great family, he is moving along slowly with interest regarding the Gospel, but he lets us go each week and teach him. I think he just has an educational interest in our message, not really a spiritual interest.

Ed Henderson:

I met him 3 weeks ago, he is amazing! He has been studying the Israelite people for years! He has done his genealogy and has traced himself to some biblical people, so he told us that he thinks he is of the tribe of Ephraim! He strongly feels he is of the house of Israel. He has been studying the Book of Mormon like crazy! He basically already knows the whole gospel. We invited him to be baptized, and he said no, because he feels that because he is of the House of Israel he doesn't need ordinances to save him, like, he is already saved by blood or something....we're going to try to help him understand that...but He is amazing, he put together a nice binder for me all about his studies about Israel, and they go right in line with the restoration of the gospel, I think he'll understand if we sit down with him for some more time....I could go on forever about Ed, he is just amazing! I was certainly meant to meet him! He knows so much, and he understands truth from lies, I just hope I can help him understand that the Church we represent is the RESTORATION OF ISRAEL! I think he'll come around :D

There are certainly other people who we are working with, but those are the highlights! 

I hope ya'll have a great week!!!!

Elder Dearden

Monday, August 18, 2014

Life is still good!

Friends and Family

This past week has been one of a transition. We have found that when we spend a lot of time in the Ghetto we get Ghetto results...people who don't want to work, they also don't want to go to Church...so we basically dropped a ton of investigators and moved out of the poor areas of the district. We are now spending lots of time in the "Nicer" parts of town.
We still have some great investigators though that we didn't drop, including Shane. But for the most part, we gave lots of them up, because they just aren't willing to do anything, they are lazy, which is sad.  But after we started searching in the rich homes, we already have tons of new investigators.

We have a great guy named Dan, he is a very humble and open person, he has lots of questions and we are meeting with him today.

Then there is Shika, she lives in a town not to far from Greenwood. She has tons of questions about the plan of salvation, all of her questions have been answered so far as she has talked with us. She has some spiritual gifts that help her discern truth.

There is also a man named Raymen (guitar player), he is a super nice guy. He has lots of opinions on religion, but fortunately all of his opinions are in line with our doctrine, which is odd because most people out here have some crazy ideas, but he is on board. He is supposed to be coming to church next week. There are others but I am so excited to work with these new people, it is so much more fun to teach people who actually keep commitments. 

So last week I went on an exchange with the Zone Leaders, I got to spend some time with Elder Cook again, I've attached a picture of him. He is so nice to me.  I also spent some time with Elder Wery. I loved the exchange with Elder Wery, I learned so much from him, he is a well balanced guy and has humility about him that is inspiring. He taught me a lot about how missionaries think, and how there are so many opinions on how to do this work. He is like me and believes that there is no ONE way to do things, we all have our own unique ways and we shouldn't try to force our habits and patterns on other people, we can share them, but don't try to change people, let them change after they see your example.

I got some amazing letters and packages from people last week!! Thanks so much! I hope to be sending some "real mail" this week. 

WTH moment of the week: This past week I ran into a guy who had been to a seminar that was done by an excommunicated general authority or someone who was "exposing the church". He was so full of crap, he thought he understood our church, when he was just fed with lies that were not even relevant. Anyways, I had this thought go through my head and I wanted to say the following to him, "I would tell you to go burn in Hell, but I don't believe in Hell, so I guess I can't say that"....he was just so stupid, and ignorant...I tried to tell him he was fed with lies...but anyways...If we believed in Hell, then I would tell him to Burn there :D....(perhaps this in inappropriate for the blog....oh well...)

Life is GOOD!


Me and Elder Wery



Me and Elder Cook








Monday, August 11, 2014

Life is Good!

This is me in Mccormick...a small town by the Savannah  river.
People back home...


Life out here is great! I love it still.
I am really short in time, so I don't have much time to tell a lot....

Last week I went to an area by the Savannah River, it's a small town called Mccormick, it's on the edge of our mission, I'll attach pictures of that, it is so beautiful out there, amazing country.

Elder Cook is now my Zone Leader!! Haha, so I'll see him again this week! He's going on exchanges with our apartment this week, so that will be fun to see him again! I'll send pictures next week of us!

Our investigators are in weird places, a lot of them went out of town, so we spent the week meeting lots of new people, but I'll write more about them next week. Linda Ann Burton is still on date to be baptized, she needs to overcome some difficulties in her life, but things are looking good, my hope is that she'll be baptized on Aug 30th. We met a new guy named Raymen. HE is awesome! He studies the bible independently. He recognizes that the bible isn't perfect, and he is looking for the stick on Joseph, so I gave him a book of mormon, he was so shocked and it made so much sense to him! He's golden, He even understands the law of consecration, God has been teaching him his whole life. Everyone of his personal beliefs is in line with our understanding in the Church. He even understands the Trinity the proper way...I mean like he is just totally on board with this whole concept of restoration and everything!!! I'll write more about him next week! BTW, I met him because he was playing the Guitar on his lawn, so I went to talk to him because he sings really well, and we had a musical conversation about theory, and that was funny, then we brought up religion and it just went perfect from there!

I feel bad writing a small letter, but next week I'll write more!
The Lord is taking care of me! He's very very Real!

I love ya'll!

Elder Dearden


Monday, August 4, 2014

August already?



 I know I say this every time...but TIME FLIES!

This past week has been a week of separating the Wheat from the Tares....so we had some hard moments dropping people who just don't want to keep commitments. But Linda Ann Burton is still on date, she is progressing slowly though, hopefully we can help her progress faster.

So last week, I saw the petroglyphs again and I’ll send some pictures. It was pretty cool, although there are bugs and lots of nasty stuff in the jungle where it is.

I found out that really no one at all knows what they are. The land owner said that he had a professor take a look at some pictures of them and the professor suggested that they were the writings of some legendary “council rock”. A place where the native Cherokee supposedly would meet for council meetings and what not.

The paintings are kinda cool, they have red and blue in them, I‘ll send some up close pictures of the remaining paint….Those of you who have talked with me about what red and blue paint means, you’ll understand why I thought it was cool.





I got to play the organ in church yesterday, so that was really fun! Also next Sunday I am playing the piano for a special musical number, the youth in the ward are singing, there is only one other person in the ward that can read and play piano. I am so grateful that the Lord allowed me to develop that talent! And I’m grateful for all those who patiently let me “pound” on the piano all day so that I could develop the talent, everyone in the ward tells me every week how grateful they are that I play. Thank you Liz!

Today for p-day we are going to feast at a Chinese buffet. We then will go home and sleep…we have not had a day to just sit and do nothing for a while, so today is a day that we eat lots of food and sit around and relax…should be relaxing.

WTH moment of the week- while we were at the writings last Monday we ended up getting lost in the jungle….so we drove around for like an hour and then the bumper in front of the car fell off….so……here we are stuck in the jungle with a car that is falling apart….so we wandered around until we found a fence and realized that we were not lost and that the land lord’s home was just right there….so that was fun, getting  “lost” but not really….In south Carolina you can get disoriented really easy, there is nothing you can use to determine North, east, west, south or anything…you just see trees….that’s it.
I hope ya’ll have a great week! The Lord is in charge! This church is true!

Elder Dearden

The paitings are big...if you look close you'll see on the left side of me there is the bull head...and on the left a pitch fork design thing...

They are kinda hard to see, but there is an animal head on the right side, and a pitch fork looking symbol on the left.