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


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
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