Monday, January 27, 2014

Elder Dayne Joyner Hermosillo Mexico 2012-2014

Monday, January 27, 2014 - "The Best Two Years!"

Dearest Family and Friends, I hesitate while writing this with a ton of mixed feelings and emotions going through my head. I am amazed at how fast our time has flown by, and really flown by! I have always said that the mission is like a dream…you are at home, then you leave and have amazing experiences enjoying and learning a new culture in a far off land and then all of a sudden BOOM! You wake up and you are at home again and the whole experience turns into a blur of memories. I have come to realize, however, that the mission is like one of those dreams where you never want to wake up…you never want it to end, but as always the alarm goes off and dream land fades into a memory. Two years ago I never thought that the mission would impact me and change me as it has. I want to share with you a few of my thoughts on the last 2 years and how it has impacted me. For those of you who don´t yet belong to our church, I will try and explain in simple terms. As young men of 18 years and young women of 19 years old, we are given the opportunity to serve a full time two year proselyting mission for our church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Our purpose as missionaries is to invite all to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We help families receive this Gospel and enter into the waters of baptism to be cleansed from sin and to prepare to be an eternal family one day. We don´t believe in ¨until death do us part¨ but we believe that if we strive and keep the commandments that we can be an eternal family even after this life and that death is just a moment in our eternal existence. There is a saying that goes like this ¨A missionary leaves his family for two years so that others can be with their families forever!¨ I have truly loved teaching the families of Sonora, Mexico and helping them strive towards this goal! About two years ago when I was preparing to come on the mission, I thought I had an idea of what it was going to be like, but I was a little off. In my life before the mission, I thought I was happy. I was loving going to school, hanging with friends and enjoying what life had to offer. Soon after beginning my mission and entering the Missionary Training Center, I realized I wasn´t happy as I was before. I wasn´t with my family, I didn´t have as much contact with my friends and I couldn´t just go out to wherever and do whatever. I seriously thought I wasn´t happy. As time went on, I studied and gained a more in depth testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I began to focus more on what is having faith, repenting, being baptized, having the companionship of the Holy Ghost, and enduring till the end of life being obedient. I began to apply them more in my own life. I began to feel different; more at peace always. I felt happier, but a different kind of happy. Something more fuller, something grander that I had never really capped before. I realized that the happiness that I felt before the mission was just the pleasures that the world had to offer. I began to realized that I didn´t know what happy was, but now I was beginning to experience and live true and complete happiness that the fullness of the Gospel brings. I would have to say that the mission has definitely been the hardest thing that I have had to do and go through up till this point in my life. It hasn´t been anything near easy, but the knowledge, maturing and experience that I have gained are all priceless! I have always heard that those who serve missions come home a lot more mature and wise than everyone else their age, and now I understand why! A few months ago, Emily a friend serving her mission in Georgia, in her letter to her family wrote of a conference the mission had had with Elder Dallin H. Oaks. In this conference, Elder Oaks stated 10 things that no missionary should leave the mission field without gaining. They are the following... 1. A testimony of the Father and the Son 2. A greatly enlarged testimony of the gospel 3. Love for the people among whom you labor. 4. Greater love and appreciation for your parents 5. Understanding the meaning of hard work 6. Understanding the meaning and importance of personal virtue 7. Increased polish and poise 8. Courage to act 9. Faith to try 10. Humility to pray While reading these, I truly feel that I have achieved each one. The mission teaches you the value of hardwork, personal comportment, and over all gives you a testimony that cannot be shattered. I have a firm testimony that God LIVES! He is our Loving Heavenly Father who is like us who has a body of flesh and blood. He LOVES us. His love in infinite and unmeasureable. He only wants the best for us and even though in this life we pass through many challenges and hardships, they are not given to us to punish us, but to help us learn and grow. I know that Jesus is the Christ. He is our Savior and Redeemer and I am so thankful for Him! There is no way to repay what He has done for us. He has atoned for our sins. He has suffered for our imperfections and he suffered for each and everyone of us individually. He knows how we feel at each and every moment of our lives. We are all far from perfect but He still loves us and wants to help us. I can say firmly that I have felt the power of His Atonement in my life. There have been countless times where I have felt alone, scared, unworthy, unable. I have asked why me, why now, what this, how do I get through. I say that the Savior has not just walked beside me in my life, but there have been many times when He has carried me through it all. I know I can never full repay Him, but I want to do the best I can to live every single day following Him and repenting and having faith, keeping the commandments, ect. I know that the power of the Atonement is REAL and is ready and waiting for all of us to take advantage of it. I have a strong strong testimony of the Plan of Salvation, the plan that our Father in Heaven has for us. In the mission, I have passed through many many experiences that have confirmed the truthfulness of this plan. I know that before this life we lived with our Heavenly Father and He sent us here to the earth for a specific purpose, to learn and grow and become more like Him. I know that death is not the end. It is just a small moment in our eternal existance. I know that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones who have died and more importantly we will have the opportunity to return to our Heavenly Father´s presence. But we have to strive so much in this life to reach that! We have to have faith, repent, be baptized, and keep striving and fighting each and everyday. This knowledge I have obtained has been so comforting and valuable to me. I have obtained a much deeper appreciation for my family and for my parents especially. I am so thankful for them and for their countless sacrifices and love that they never cease to show me. I can never repay them for all that they have done and give to me. I am so thankful for the opportunity that we have to be sealed as a family and that we will be together forever! I love you family! I have come to know and be a witness that God really DOES hear and answer each and every single one of our prayers! Being a representative of Jesus Christ, I have seen countless miracles and blessings and have been a witness to many answered prays. I have come to learn that God answers prayers in His time and in the way He sees fit for us. He knows us better than we know. Like I said, the mission has probably been the hardest thing I have ever done up to this point in my life, but I feel like leaving this beautiful place and magnificent adventure will be even harder than it was coming. I have come to love Mexico and the Mexican people so much! I even forget that I am not a Mexican myself sometimes! These people have so much faith and love for God and they really want to follow Him. It has been a grand privildge for me to have been able to help them come unto Christ and to see lives change! I have seen countless lives change for the better. Many think that they are happy and good in life, but when they come to know the Restored Gospel, they realize they were missing so much more. I would like to leave you all with the lyrics of a song that is very sentimental for me. This song is called ¨The Hardest Thing I´ve Ever Loved To Do¨. I feel that there are few better words that I could write than these, to describe my mission experience. The hardest thing I ever loved to do was letting go of everything I ever knew nineteen years of dreams left in my room as I buttoned up the jacket of my suit The hardest word I’ve ever loved to say was goodbye to my mom and walk away choking on my tie and on my tears as I walked down the hall into those years the sweetest song I’ve ever loved to sing filled the MTC on angel’s wings the chorus filled my soul 5000 strong and I wished it would just go on and on the firmest hand I’ve ever loved to shake was my trainer’s with that big grin on his face he grabbed my bag and put his arm ‘round me and whispered "I’m gonna work those Mr. Macs right off your feet" The hardest words I’ve ever anguished for came just before some lady slammed her door my trainer left me hanging out to dry ans a minute of painful silence rolled right by but the hardest tears I ever loved to cry fell as I opened up my mouth and testified between the tiny walls of a stranger’s living room the Spirit told their hearts my words were true the most wonderful sound I’ve ever heard is the sound of water running in the church as someone I’d come to love got dressed in white my eyes saw their first glimpse of Heaven’s light the hardest thing I’ve ever come to see is a man down on his knees in agony a drop of blood falls down on olive leaves and for a moment he suffers there for me the hardest thing I’ve ever loved to do was getting on this plane and coming home to you in a million ways completely torn apart as a land so far away still owns my heart in the most sincere prayer I’ve ever prayed I thank my God for each and every day for the blessing of the man I’ve come to be as I walk up and kiss my mama’s cheek. We always have heard that the mission is ¨The Best Two Years¨ of our life for all the experiences and testimonies that we gain, but I would like to change this statement a little. I would have to say that the mission has not only been ¨The Best Two Years¨of my life, but ¨The Best Two Years¨ FOR MY LIFE! I would not have traded these past two years for ANYTHING! I would like to say a special thank you to each and everyone of you! You have all helped and supported me and have shown much love these past 104 weeks! Your emails, jokes, and words of encouragement have gotten me through a lot of hard times and have given me desires to keep going and keep moving forward! I´m sorry if I haven´t been the best at replying your letters, but your letter mean more to me than replies could have for you. I would like to close as Moroni... ¨ And now, I would commend you to seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth brecord of them, may be and abide in you forever. ¨ I invite you all to seek our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To feel of the power of His infinite and eternal Atonement. I invite you to never stop going to church every week, reading your scriptures and praying every single day. These three things are key to staying strong in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to keeping ourselves close to our Father in Heaven. Life is too short to be messing around in the things of the world. I invite you all to come unto Christ and healed by His saving grace, for ¨His Grace is sufficient to heal us....¨ I love each and everyone of you very much and cannot wait till we have the opportunity to talk face to face and to tell you more about my amazing experiences. Until then, God be with you! I Know That My Redeemer Lives! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Dayne Joyner Hermosillo Mexico Mission Feb. 2012 - Feb. 2014 P.S. For future contact, please use

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Monday, January 20, 2014 -

Hola Mi Familia! So before starting the weekly email, I would like to make a request please! Seeing as how next week will be my final email, I would like you all (if you can) to take a little bit of time and tell me about these last 2 years. I want to know how you all have grown personally and in your testimonies. I may have been the one away on the mission but I have always heard that it is the family's mission too and that everyone benefits and so I would like to hear what you all have gotten out of these past two years. (For blog readers too!) I place this at the beginning of my email so that it doesn't get overlooked. :) Elise! I am so sorry to hear that you are sick. It hurt to read of all your afflictions. I am so sorry and feel so bad for you! You will most certainly be in all of my prayers! Have you gotten a blessing yet?! The power of the priesthood and is real and powerful! Well, this week...I don't even remember what happened. Hmmm... well nothing too exciting at least. There is a little news. This coming transfer (the transfer I leave) we will be 5 leaving, but there will be like 30 coming in and so they are having to open a ton of areas. One of those areas will be Satelite C. Yep, our ward will be getting another set of missionaries--most likely sister missionaries-- so there will be 6! So this week we have been busy trying to find a house and figuring out how we will divide the area and all that jazz. Luckily Saturday night we found an apartment that looks really good and we have found out kind of how we will split the area. They will also be opening 2 other areas in our zone. We have had a slow work week this week unfortunately. The new family didn't go to church and have been a little busy this week so we haven't had a real good lesson with them but a few quick visits though. The 21 year old is just Awesome! I have never had another investigator like him in the mish! He is so prepared and so chosen by God to receive the Gospel at this is just crazy! He read the Book of Mormon this week...well not all of it...just the part we left him and he is always super excited for our lessons. He went to church again yesterday and it was his first time with the normal 3 hour block services as opposed to the stake conference that he had last week. He seemed to really like it and he participated in all the classes. He has a date for Feb. 15 and is progressing wonderfully! We have been able to take a member to every single visit and that really makes a difference in teaching and fellowshipping. We found two new brothers this week. One is 23 and the other is 27. They both go to another church, but they are very open and loved talking with us. We sat there and they asked us questions for a good few minutes about how it was being a missionary and how we see the world today and how we battle it and all. It was really neat. They thought very highly of us and thought it was amazing us being young men out doing what we are doing being so far away from home. We shared with them the message of the restoration and they seemed to be impacted and interested. We left them with a copy of the Book of Mormon for them to read and they said that they would read it. Today has been quite a fun day! I am currently sitting here in the internet business of the a family in one of my last areas in Hermosillo. We came here in Hermosillo to do some visits and say goodbye to some converts and people that I wanted to see and here we are writing as well. It has been fun to see people and a little sentimental knowing that this will probs be the last time I will see them for who knows how long...maybe until the millennium.... I have mixed feelings just knowing that I have only 2 weeks left and just one more P-day. It hasn't really sunk in yet and so it just feels normal and we will keep working like normal. It is just sad to think that soon all this will be over with and I won't be able to continue with the magnificent work that I have been doing for the past 2 years. But right now all is well. Well, I hope this wasn't too much of a short and uneventful email. We still have a few visits I want to do before going home so we are off! I love and miss you all so much and we will see ourselves in just a short 15 days... ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, January 13, 2013 - We Got Gold!

Hola Mi Familia! This week was quite an interesting and fantastic week! Let me just tell you.... We started off the week with member visits! We asked one of the young men who is preparing to serve a mission to go out with us and do some visits and he did. He is almost 17 so he still has a year left but it was his first time doing visits with the missionaries and I think he liked it. We had a really neat experience with the new family I was telling you about that we found last week. We went to go visit them and were planning on doing one thing, but when we arrived, plans completely changed and we did another. We talked about families and the importance of families and how the Gospel is uber important for us to follow. He gave a really special lesson because that was the first time, we met the dad and they had told us before that he wasn´t very religious, but I think he really enjoyed the lesson and that he is ready for us to visit again. The guy that went with us felt the spirit really strongly in the lesson and went around and told everyone to feel his heart because it was beating really fast. He gave an awesome testimony of how the Gospel had blessed his family (his dad was just barley baptized this year after 20 years of being a ¨member¨ without being a member.). It was special. They are a really neat family and we really really want them to progress and go to church. We invited them again this past week, but we were a little busy with other things and couldn´t pass by for them and so they didn´t go. Hopefully we can focus on them more and teach them good! We found gold this week! We received a reference from a member this week that is totally and absolutely prepared and ready to receive the gospel. He is a 21 year old college student. When we went to meet him we took a YSA with us and he was a really neat guy. He said that he wasn´t really that religious but that he would like to find a church to prepare him for the future to have kids and teach principle in his family--something that he really didn´t have. He has so many questions about topics relating to The Restoration to The Plan of Salvation. We taught him a little and he was so interested and wanting so much to learn more. The spirit was totally present in the first lesson and he said he liked how he felt and that he felt comfortable and at peace with a Book of Mormon in his hands. We invited him to church this week and he went, but I will explain that in a bit. This weekend we had Stake Conference. It was a special stake conference because it was a satellite broadcast from SLC. Remember when we had one of those a few years ago? From now on the missionaries and youth were invited to attend the Saturday night session which is usually for adults. The stake pres. is in our ward and so we were asked to do a special musical number and we did a quartet of ¨Help Me Teach With Inspiration¨ It was beautiful and the spirit was present. You can tell everyone was touched. The conference was really great and all the talks had to do with ¨The Hastening¨ and missionary work. Sunday was a little different. We all went to our respective ward buildings instead of the stake center and they did a broadcast from the stake center to all the wards. There was a camera set up in the stake center and we were watching via internet connection! (Crazy the technology these days even within the church.) The stake president spoke and at the half hour the broadcast turned to the live stream from SLC to all of Mexico where we hear talks from Elder Christensen (the one who is coming here to do a conference the week after I leave), Sister Marriot, and Elder Christofferson and Elder Hales. It was a really really good conference and I learned a lot. Again, all the talks were focused on ¨The Hastening¨ and missionary work! I feel the end really is near and they want everyone preparing for the second coming. So the 21 year old went to the conference on Sunday with us and he was really nervous to go to church when we picked him up. When we got there and we entered the church building a great peace was felt that calmed him and us. We took him on a mini tour of the chapel before the conference started and he seemed to enjoy that. He was very attentive and listening to everything that was being said in the conference. At the end he said that he really liked it and that he had a lot to think about. There were a lot of church members greeting him and talking to him and he felt welcomed. This week we also had our every so often scheduled interviews with Pres. I was able to get my temple recommend renewed and we had a good chat. It was nice. Just one more to go.... I hope this wasn´t too short and too uneventful. Just 2 more emails to go...enjoy them while they last! I love and miss you all dearly! Play hard and work hard! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, January 5, 2014 - Have You Set Your Goals Yet?

Hola Mi Familia! So there are winter storms passing all through the country eh? While you all are dying of the cold, we are still suffering from heat! It seems like in the last few weeks the temperature has been rising to where it isn´t even cold in the mornings and it is a little hot in the days. I remember at this time last year I was sleeping with 4 blankets on top of me and with my sweat shirt, gloves, and long pants underneath. But this year...I even turned on the fan the other night because I woke up hot. However, just last night we had a cooler night so hopefully it will only get cooler from now on. Well, let´s see...what can I say about this week... We started off the week kind of sad. We had a Carne Asada at a member’s house. Her family always makes the best Carne Asada that I have ever tasted! New Years Eve was quite the day! Let me just tell you. We were put down to eat with the richest family in the ward, the ones who live in the subdivision with the only Golf Course in Hermosillo. We were eating with them and then they also invited another family from the ward over too. They had asked us to prepare a special message to give and to sing our famous ¨O Holy Night¨ that they loved when we did it in church. When we arrived, we helped them set up tables and chairs for quite a few people and then they tell us they invited Pres. and Hermana Hernandez. Not too long after they arrived and we had a nice social with them! Haha! Before eating, all the guests were called into the front room for us to give our message. We spoke on ¨The Plan of Salvation¨ and the importance of Families. It was a really fantastic lesson that I personally liked and the spirit was quite strong! At the end, we did what we normally do and asked the people there if the spirit had put a name in their minds during the lesson of someone who that we could visit. We received a few names and to our surprise, Pres. Hernandez gave us a name of a friend in Uruguay and told us to get with the Secretaries to be able to send the reference to Uruguay. We even got a reference from Pres! Imagine that! We then passed to the back terrace to eat. It was a really enjoyable meal and visit even with Pres. being there! Haha! When finished eating, we said goodbyes and slipped out to go do more visits. While walking Pres.and Hermana found us and gave us a ride. It was quite an interesting day that I don´t think I will forget. That night we had no big plans. A member’s family invited us over and so we went and eat dinner with them and by 10PM we were in the house and sleeping even before the New Year...but we had our own celebration before sleeping! The rest of the week was kind of slow! Just like last year, New Years day was the WORST working day of the mission. Everyone is too hung-over and sleepy to want to listen to us and so we spent a lot of time just walking around trying to find lessons. Finally, this week everyone returns to school and work and so hopefully we will be somewhat back to normality. This week we found a cool new family who are 3 teenage kids and 2 parents! They are really pretty cool and they like us enough. We hooked them with our voices! We sang ¨Nearer My God To Thee¨ and at the end the mom had tears running down her face with the kids as well, tearing up. At the end of one lesson this week the oldest son gave a prayer and it was really special and heartfelt and sincere that the spirit was felt and at the end his sisters were crying! We invited them to church on Sunday and they said we could pass for them to go together, but Sunday morning when we went they said that something came up and that they wouldn´t be able to go. It was really depressing and sad, but nothing new. You just get used to rejection in the mission, but no matter how many months you have and how many times you have hear it, it still makes you sad sometimes because you just love people so much and desire their salvation, but in the end they have their agency. Our zone started the month off awesome! We had 5 baptisms in the first weekend and have various other dates for the rest of the month. We had the opportunity to give a few baptismal interviews this week and I always enjoy giving those. I talked with the kids this time--one with 9 years and they other with 11--they were both excited to be baptized! It is crazy how fast this past year has gone by! I reflect on 2013 and it was a growing year for me. I will value the things I learned and the experiences I had. Have you set goals for 2014? I haven´t! Haha! I usually don´t like making goals because I never fully complete them. But I do invite you all to put one special goal--to come closer to God and specifically do 3 things: 1) Pray at least twice daily, every single day 2) Have PERSONAL scripture study EVERYDAY! 3) Attend church always! I promise that if we are constant in these 3 things, we will have spiritual help that will give us strength in our everyday lives. Really! Our testimonies and faith depend on these 3 activities so make it a goal to be constant and DO IT!!! Well, I hope you all just have a super duper first week back to school! Sounds like you will with having school canceled already tomorrow. I love and miss you tons! Happy New Year! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, December 30, 2013 - Happy 2014!

Hola mi familia, I had a super fun time talking to all of you Wednesday. Since we just talked and since the rest of the week was kind of dead, I don´t know how long this email will be. Just warning you. :) So I will just give a little review of the week and tell a few stories that I may have told, but just telling them again for the sake of whoever else didn´t hear it and for the blog. For Christmas Eve we got a few dinner invitations. We started off going with some investigators that had invited us and they filled us up with a good big plate. We ate what seemed like Turkey, with a few cold pasta salads and other things including tamales. We were going to eat a little in every visit that we made that night, but they just filled us up the first go round that we weren`t even hungry for the next visits. We did a few more visits and shared some messages of Christ and Christmas complete with ¨Silent Night¨ singing and all. We ended the night with with a member and her family. Pres. allowed us to be out until 10pm on Christmas eve and this week on New year’s eve too instead of the normal 9PM. As we were done with them, we were loaded up with food to take home and she gave us a ride. We stopped at a gas station to buy a soda and my comp and I stayed in the car. We were just there chillin, and then our attention was drawn to a lady. This lady was sitting on the side of the curb with kind of tattered clothes and only a blanket to cover her back. She had a few simple bags with her as well. We quickly realized that she was homeless and it touched our hearts to think that she was alone and cold on the side of the streets for Christmas eve. We thought of the food we had and assumed that she was probably hungry. I got out of the car and ran and gave her quite a bit of food we had. We had already eaten that food so it was really wasn’t necessary that we kept it especially if someone else in need needed it. As I gave her the food she was very grateful and said thank you. Even as I got back in the car, we could see her staring in the car window at us gesturing her thanks. The member returned and we drove off, and she continued to give us thanks as we continued on home. This had to be one of the most special Christmas Eve activities that I would have participated in my life. I don´t think I will ever forget it and I have made plans/goals to participate in an act like that every Christmas Eve--making a dinner and going around the city looking for those less fortunate. Christmas, the alarm went off and my comp immediately sat up in bed. He seemed happier than a 5 year on Christmas. We went into the other room to see what Santa had brought and open presents! We enjoyed our little gifts and had a good time with the little toys we received. We then headed over to a member’s to skype!!! After, we ate with them and continued our visits. We visited a few more and ate some more. We ended our Christmas visiting a member and her family and see what Santa had brought the Texans! Overall it was a good Christmas and, like last year, a lot more meaningful than past years! On Thursday we had a neat lesson with a guy. We had only met him once before and he seemed interested in going to church to see what was there and what it was like, so we went with him. We taught the message of the Restoration and when we got to the part about Jesus and His church and then the great Apostasy and Joseph Smith, we just had his full attention and he seemed captured in our words. I will never forget how interested and focused he was when we talked about Joseph Smith, especially telling the first vision! It was wonderful! The spirit was truly felt and we left a part of the Book of Mormon for him to read. Friday, we had a special meeting of Zone Leaders and District Leaders of the mission with Pres. and the Assistants. It was pretty good but kind of different. There was a major change announced about the way we will be counting numbers. Instead of counting lessons we have per day and week, we will be counting how many people we teach and contact. So the general just becomes more focused. There are a lot of time when we just get numbers in our head and we try to just meet the quota of lesson the Pres. sets for us a week that we are too worried about completing numbers instead of worrying about baptisms and that these numbers are actual souls and people we are working with. This is a different method and I think it will be good I just felt different in the meeting because a lot of things that they were explaining in the meeting were new and different to the way I have worked for the past 2 years and I don´t react well/adjust quickly to change. But seeing as how I only have 5 weeks left, it will only be for a time that I will have to deal with it. Sunday was a little depressing because it was supposed the last Sunday for investigators to attend church for me to be able to see them baptized...and no body went! It was sad! So we will pray hard for some miracle to be able to see someone baptized in this month. Today was kind of a fun day! We hike the Cerro de la Campana as a zone today and up top we played capture the flag! It was uber fun and I think everyone else enjoyed it. We have a fun zone and I love hanging out with them. Well, sadly I think that is all I have for this week...? Well, I hope you all have another fantastic week and enjoy the end of your vacays! They will quickly come to an end. Just 4 more emails from me so enjoy them while they last! :) I love you all! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, December 23, 2013 - Feliz Navidad

Hola Mi Familia! It seems like just not too long ago I was writing! How times flies! Are you all excited for Christmas?!?! Cause I´m sure excited for Christmas!!! So here is the for the whole history of my mission, we have always called in the afternoon right? Well, we are thinking of switching things up this year and we are planning to call in the morning? How´s that? We are thinking of 10AM our time which really wouldn´t be too morning for you all...I imagine like 12PM noon there right? So just be on around that time and that is what is up! Okay? Okay! My last call home in the mission...this is crazy and quite surreal! So I have some news that you would probs be interested in knowing...I got a call this week from my good friend the Secretary and he called to double check my info and address and he told me that he was buying my plane ticket and that he wanted to know at what airport I was to arrive. I of course told him Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International! Eeek! So crazy! He scheduled the flights and everything and he said that he just had to send them off to the church and they have to approve everything and then when he gets the approval he will email us (me and you) my flight itinerary. So be looking at for that quite possibly this week! This week has been quite busy and hectic! Almost everday this week we could only work up till about 5:30/6PM then we had to leave to go to a variety of meetings or do baptismal interviews or who knows what else! But I prefer staying busy than having nothing to do! This week was basically a week of service as well as performing for us. We did quite a few service projects. Ones that lasted 15 minutes to others that lasted 5 hours. I will share a few. We started off the week with a performance/Service! The Assistants asked us to go with them to a Pre-school to do some English singing. There is a sister in the ward of the Assistants who teaches English or something like that and she had asked them to go sing at the Christmas program the school was going to do and they asked us to tag along. We went and sang first ¨Rudolph The Red nosed Reindeer¨ and then ¨Choose The Right¨ (the sister shared a message to the parents on helping kids make good choices and asked us to sing this hymn as well) and then we finished things off with ¨Silent Night¨. It all went well and was kind of a nice missionary and gospel sharing opportunity without directly talking about religion in a school event. The month of December has been a great on for our zone! We are so excited and so proud of how everyone is doing! We currently have 5 baptisms for this month and we have at least 5 more dates set for this coming weekend! It may seem like little, but compared to other months when we had only 0-2 baptisms we are doing a whole lot better. We have just been trying to help everyone realized that with this new requirement of 5 attendances in the church we have to be working and finding people now to be able to have baptisms next month. This past week my comp and I had to give 3 baptismal interviews because all those being baptized were investigators of our district leaders and of course they couldn´t interview their own investigators! In one of the interviews I gave, we had to leave the city to a small town 30 minutes away from Hermosillo. It was kind of neat to leave the city, even though it wasn´t really that far away. Other services that we gave this week...helping a sister paint the outside of her house. Maybe this is done in the US as well but I just haven´t noticed, but it seems like everyone is Mexico paints their houses this time of year. They are like ¨It´s time to put up the Christmas tree...we have to paint the house first.¨ It is cute! Everyone wants their house to look all special and pretty for Christmas, and so every year they get a paint job. So we helped out with one of those paint jobs and it didn´t come out too shabby! It was quite fun! As far as performing goes...We were asked to sing a few times this week. Not only in the Pre-school, but they also asked us to sing at the ward Christmas party and then again in church yesterday. At the Christmas party, we just did a reprise of our previously sung ¨Oh Holy Night¨, but just did it as a duet this time. It didn´t turn out too bad and everyone loved it...(especially when I hit the high note, if I do say so myself.) On Sunday, we sang the Spanish version of ¨Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel¨ and that also turned out quite lovely! Apart from that, we sing in almost every lesson we have and we have 2 specials that we always sing because we sing sick harmonies and it always invites the spirit--¨Silent Night¨and ¨Away in a Manger¨. So we are kind of almost sick of those 2, but luckily in 2 days we will be back to regular hymns, so I guess we better enjoy it while it lasts. We have kind of been slacking in the investigator area this week for Christmas time, but also for all of the activities and meetings and such that we have to do. We found a new guy this week. He is a single dad and has 2 sons of 12 years and 14. He is really cool and seems really open and interested to learn and to get closer to God. We are excited because they are more young men so we can get the program growing (there are only 2 active young men currently)! So I don´t know if you remember the other lady with a son, but we had a really neat lesson about baptism with her. We explained what baptism is and why it is important and necessary. She then began to tell us how she really felt that is was important too and that it isn´t something that should be taken lightly. I am quite amazed how a lot of times people recognize and understand the importance of baptism. I feel like if I wasn´t in the church, I probs wouldn´t really know what it is and what it is important, but I am amazed and surpried how many people take it for real and realized that it isn´t a game and that they should do it with all seriousness. I feel quite privileged to be in the mission at this time. To be a representative of Jesus Christ during the season of the celebration of His birth. I have had quite a few thoughts this week on the life of Christ. I read something that a prophet said that I had never thought of before. We know that Christ grew in knowledge from grace to grace and it is interesting that as a baby and small child, He didn´t know that He was the Son of God and the Savior of the World and He didn´t know of His special mission. He received revelation and knowledge little by little of this His grand mission and divinity. We have watched a few times this week the video of His birth, and with the previous thought in mind I couldn´t help thinking of His parents. Like it says in the song ¨Mary Did You Know...?¨, did Mary really know that her son would sacrifice himself for the whole world and all of mankind. Did she really understand His grand potential and mission. I know that mothers have a special connection with their children even more than fathers have, and so I can´t even imagine what it must have been like have the Son of God, our Savior and Redeemer in her hands. An infant so humble, so innocent, and so special. I am so greatful to be His representative not only at this time in my life, but at this time of the season when I have the opportunity to testify of Him and His greatness! I want you all to know that I know that He lives! That He died for us and He knows us way better than anyone else ever could! He felt every single pain, and affliction that we felt and He suffered personally for everyone of us! What greater gift could we have! May we remember this year the true meaning of Christmas and what it really means to us in our lives! I invite you all to reflect on that in these next few days. I love and miss you all tons and can´t wait to talk to you Wednesday! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! ¡Feliz Navidad! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, December 16, 2013 -

Hola mi familia! Sorry for not writing sooner but we have been busy with transfers and helping missionaries in getting to new areas and such. Just so you know this letter may not be very lengthy. Like we expected, we didn't get transferred and I will finish my last transfer here. Just one transfer left....and this one is will be 7 weeks because this past one was only 5. That is so crazy! My last transfer...just 7 weeks left...less than 50 days crazy! But not thinking about that. This week has been kind of a slow and weird week. We look at everything...all the names and plans and stuff, and it seems like we have quite a bit of work, but at the same the same time we have times when and walking around a lot looking for lessons and people to teach. However, we have been able to find a few new people. I don't have a lot of time right now but in just 1 week we will be able talk, so I hope that is okay. Friday, we had a sweet experience. We went to go look for a reference that a member had given us. This woman had a little store and so when we arrived and there were a few customers but luckily they left and we were able to not have distractions. We decided to share something quick since we didn’t know if more customers would come in. We began by singing a Christmas hymn--"Away in a manger". It was a beautiful hymn we did with a little harmony thing. By the end of end hymn we looked up at her and she had tears running down her cheeks and thanked us. We began to share a scripture about Christ, but at this time there were a lot of people beginning to come in and we were getting interrupted, so we decided to just go. She thanked us again and told us that we could come back and sing to here whenever we wanted to. This week we have been trying to meet with a new lady that we found last week that we told you about, but we just couldn´t find her. She was never at home. However, one day we passed by and her 20 year old son was there and he invited us in and wanted to listen to us. We had a nice lesson with him and taught ¨The Restoration¨. He seemed interested and said he would like to go to church with his mom one day. We were finally able to find the mom on Saturday and we shared a short scripture and invited her to church. She said she really wanted to go and that she would make an effort to go. Sunday came and she actually showed up! We were so happy! She could only stay for the first hour, but she seemed like she really liked it and she said she wanted to come next week too, but stay the whole 3 hours. So we will see! She doesn´t have a baptismal date right now, but if she continues going to church ever week then we are looking at the 18th of January, so let´s hope so! The 12th of December, Mexico had a really special day! It was the day of the Virgin Maria Guadalupe! Haha! Apostasy is running big in the world! It was basically a day to celebrate and honor and worship the virgin. Last year, there were parades and a bunch of things in Nacozari, but is seemed like here, either we weren´t around the festivities or there weren´t too many. We did see a few altars at night and people reciting things and all that. The story goes that in like the 1500s an Native Indian from Mexico went to the top of some hill and the virgin appeared to him and he went and picked a bunch of flowers for her. When he gave the flowers to her, apparently an imprint of the virgin was left on his tunic where he had the flowers in his arms. Apparently this same tunic is in Mexico somewhere on display. Kind of interesting, so this day was celebrating this. One day this week, we were having a really really tough day and were having no success, so we decided to say a pray and ask for a lesson. We said a prayer and then after I said a small one in my head pleading for someone to be put in our path that needed us and that needed the truth. After we were walking by and we say a Nativity set outside someone´s house and the nativity set was complete, but the baby Jesus was missing from the manger. We thought it was weird and we were kind of playing around and said, let´s know them, so we knocked on the door. A man in his late 50s answered and we asked him why they didn´t have the baby Jesus and he explained that they don´t put the baby Jesus in their nativity set until Christmas Eve signifying his birth. We asked if we could share a message with him and he invited us in and we sat on his porch. We talked with him a good bit and taught him ¨The Restoration¨. He was a very knowledgeable man and was talking a lot about religions. At the end of the lesson some people arrived at his house for business and so we couldn’t really talk too much, but he said he was interested and he said he would read a pamphlet we left. I´m not really sure he was the answer to the prayer I made, but maybe so. God always answers prayers and sometimes works in mysterious ways so we will just have to see where we go with him. These last 3 days have been quite crazy! Sunday morning they called us with the changes and boy, were there changes! They really shook our zone up! Almost everyone in the zone had changes except for us and maybe 2-3 other companionships. It was sad! Even the sisters that were in our ward BOTH got transferred and it was hard to see them go because they were really good friends to us. Yesterday, the first group of American Sisters came! Mexico officially has American Sisters! There were more sisters than Elders that came in I think. There were about 8 American sisters who arrived and then about 5 or 6 American Elders. My old comp is leaving this transfer (tomorrow actually) and so he came to Hermosillo. Pres. had all the ones who were leaving come in on Sunday night and they asked him to stay with us. It was really fun to see him and be with him again. He will get home and be able to spend Christmas with his family and then 2 weeks later he will go directly Utah to start Winter Semester at BYU. Yesterday morning we went with a sister who is a widow and we did a service of putting up her Christmas tree. She wasn´t going to put it up, but she is having a daughter come into town and so we convinced her to do and it and offered to do it for her. She made us breakfast while we did it. We then had to go to the offices to pick up another Elder who was going to stay with us too until Today. At the offices all the Gringos...and Gringas...were there so we helped them all get their luggage into Taxi’s to take to their new areas. It was pretty funny! Elders who can´t speak Spanish is one thing, but Sisters trying to speak is even crazier! After that we had to do a few things and them and some members had invited us to their house for a Carne Asada for my old comp’s last dinner and so that took up all our day, alas I am writing today. I hope this isn´t too bad of an email this week, but my mind is a little scattered with a lot of different emotions right now.....friends leaving and finishing the mission, friends being transferred, only have 1 change left--a mere 7 weeks that go really fast, etc.....Hopefully next week will be a better email! Sorry! Well, I hope you all have a fantastic week! Just one more week till Christmas Eve and one week and one day till CHRISTMAS DAY!!!! And then we will be able to skype and chat!!!! And then just one month from that we will be live in the flesh...crazy! Enjoy what I am thinking is your last week of school before vacays! Yay! You did it! Christmas Break! I love you all so much! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner

Monday, December 9, 2013 - It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

Hola Mi Familia! It's the most wonderful time of the year! Don't you all just LOVE Christmas time?!?! Cause I sure do! I just love you all so much! I was pretty nostalgic reading about your weekly activities and reminiscing about the old days when I used to be super busy too and going from one activity to another! *Sigh*...oh the good ole days! So it is cold! This past week the weather has really just turned cold. I wrote you a few weeks ago saying that it was cold, but that is nothing compared to what we are experiencing now. The long sleeve shirts and sweaters have officially made their seasonal debut! We have a boiler/water heater, but the missionaries from last year never paid the gas bill and it is really high and the mission won't pay it neither the house owner so we are going back to using a bucket and water resistance to heat our water again. It just got too cold to bathe with the normal water from the faucet. Well, this week has been just an amazing and such a very very spiritual week for me. It has to do with Wednesday. I will explain in a moment though. First off Wednesday morning, we were going to a lesson that wasn't planned, but we just wanted to drop by and while walking my comp saw a house that he had contacted a few weeks ago while we were in interchanges and when I had left. He was like "Let's go contact them" and my, wasn't it a surprise! We knocked on the door and a lady in her early 40s came out and invited us in. We began talking. She said she let us in because she saw us and could see and feel the peace that was radiating off of us and in our eyes. She said we just radiated peace! We began talking and she was a really nice lady and super easy to talk to. She was very open and not really too much into any church. She said she goes to the Catholic Church when she wants to, but feels that there is something missing there. We began to talk and we sang her a hymn and shared a scripture with her. She just out of the blue asked how she could go to our church. She was asking if she went, what would it be like and everything. And then she asked how we baptized in our church and how if she wanted to go about doing that how it would be done. She was very interested and said that she would like to go and check it out. Well, she didn't go this past Sunday, but we have a good feeling about her. She seems very open and seemed like she could progress. We just need to go back and visit some more. On Thursday we had to opportunity to do a service project. An investigator that we have works in the central state office of a high school chain here in Sonora. She has been in charge of an English Spelling Bee and asked us to help. There were 50 English words that we had previously helped create sentences for. Now, on Thursday, we went to her office to record ourselves! We recorded each word: how it is pronounced, the definition, and the example sentence! It took almost 2 hours to do the 50 words, but now the whole state of Sonora will be able to practice their English with 2 native English speaking missionaries! Haha! How neat, no? Friday, we had our Multi-Zone Christmas Conference with the Pres. It was us and another zone. We performed out "O Holy Night" piece and we rocked it, if I do say so myself! The spirit was felt and set the tone for the meeting. Hermana Hernandez especially liked it and said she wanted to send it to the Area Presidency! Haha! It was a really nice and very spiritual conference. We talked a lot about new missionaries and how to adapt to the mission life and help missionaries who are struggling. Elder Farrow and I had to do a mini training and skit to teach a little how to help missionaries who are struggling. It went okay, but wasn't that great! They fed us a nice Christmas lunch, but unfortunately no Piñata this year... :( So Saturday, we finally had a baptism. The 9 year old was baptized and it was a special event. Only his mom was able to make it because his whole family was sick. It was very spiritual for everyone that went, but especially him and his mom. I did a special musical number of "I Feel My Savior's Love" and then was asked to do it again for church the following Sunday. I would send pictures, but my camera was dead and my comp left his memory card at home next week I will try and get them. Now, for the Wednesday event! So I don't remember if I told you this, but you remember, the family that we ate Thanksgiving Dinner with? Well, she was going through the temple 2 weeks ago for her endowments cause her mom came to visit and she invited us to go with because we had been helping her prepare and giving her the temple prep classes in English. We talked to Pres. and he gave us permission to go to the temple. Well, it turns out that the day she was going in is when we had that meeting with Elder De Hoyos of the seventy and all the ward councils so we weren't able to go with her because we had to be there. So we planned a trip to go with her again this past week for her 2nd time and we planned to do some family names that she had. OH MY HECK! Was that just one of the most amazing days! I had not gone to the temple since last April....about 8 months ago almost and it was so wonderful being back! Right upon entering a wonderful, wonderful peace was felt as we left the world and entered the Lord's house! While getting dressed in all white I was more than thrilled to be doing a session again! The temple video was just MAGNIFICENT! Absolutely stunning and like you said, very emotional! When it started I was like "SISTER HOBBS, BUT WITH BROWN HAIR!!!" Haha! It was super weird! And I just couldn't stop thinking about The Whitings the whole time! I'm pretty sure I've met her before! I think this video just made the session even more spiritual for me and I just learned a lot of new things and felt even more how special the Plan of Salvation is for us! I love how in the mission, one of the greatest testimonies I have received has been of the plan of salvation! I would like to share a few things that touched me about what I learned from the temple. First, like so many people say that we have the original sin and that if only Adam and Eve had not sinner we wouldn't be suffering here or whatever. But here this week, I truly realized how necessary it was for them to do this transgression. And I think Adam and Eve, even though they were innocent, they really knew that! They really knew that it was part of God's plan for them to fall and to be cast out of the garden. I am personally thankful for that, because I wouldn’t be here today if they hadn't have fallen. We also wouldn't have the opportunity to experience happiness and sadness and what true joy and peace the gospel brings. Second, the Atonement! Because of the fall, I have realized (I always knew this, but it just got to me this week and touched Me.) just how important the Atonement is to SAVE us. Christ just didn't come to suffer to know how we suffer, but his suffering SAVES us from he affects of the fall. He is the one that allows us to enter the Father's presence again and have eternal life! I think Adam and Eve also knew that and they were so happy and thankful for it too. They fell and God told them that He would provide a Savior to Save them from this transgression, and then they were SO SO HAPPY to hear that and I think it meant a lot for them too! I really just can't express my feelings and all the knowledge and spiritual revelation I received this day! It was such a very special and spiritual day that that wonderful spirit was with me for the next 2 days even and I was on a spiritual high with my mind wandering! I love the temple so much and am so excited to make it a weekly goal to go when I come home. I felt such joy and peace to be able to help others receive their saving ordinances. And such peace and tranquilness was felt in the Celestial room! It was nice and a bit touching knowing it would be my last time going to the temple here in Hermosillo in the mish! Well, I hope this wasn't too crazy! My mind was so on the temple and the wonderful experience that I had that I may have forgotten some things, but there is always next week. I hope you all have a super duper fantastic week and that your minds are temple centered! Mosiah 2:5-7 the people prepared to listen to King Benjamin by putting the doors to their tents towards the temple. Do the same and put your home and lives towards the temple and you will be blessed! I love you all and can't wait to talk in just 2 weeks! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner
Getting a Flu Shot!

December 2, 2013 - Thanksgiving

Hola Mi Familia! What a fantastic week! Look at all of you with your food eating. First Blue Willow and then Thanksgiving! Geez! So Jealous! I LOVED the photo of Thanksgiving! It was fun to see you all with your plates empty and so full and Grandma and Grandad still eating...haha! Good times! Fried Turkey sounds good! I don't think I have ever had the chance to try one...I seem to always be away from home when you do it. This week has been kind of long and seemed to be pretty busy too! Seems like the busy-ness just ends! There is always so much to do and so little time to do it so we have to work quickly and efficiently. We started off this week with a pretty awesome meeting with Elder De Hoyos of the Seventy who is part of the Area Presidency of Mexico. He came to Hermosillo and all the ward councils and full time missionaries were invited to this meeting! It was a really great meeting and all about "The Hastening". He talked about how missionary work is not the missionaries' work or the members' work, but that it is the Lord's work and we are all working together as one for Him. I think it was really good for the members to hear all this from a General Authority and to get them going! He only talked for about 10-15 minutes and then we did a little activity. They had tables set up in all the classrooms and the cultural hall and we all split up into ward councils. They had the ward councils make 2 lists. In one list they all put names of people they knew who weren't members--being friends, neighbors, family members, co-workers,...anyone who was a member. Then on the other list we made a list of names off all the Less Actives that were recent converts, or youth, or priesthood holders, etc. Just in these 25 minutes that he had given us to do this activity; our ward council was able to have a combined list of almost 60 people! It was amazing! Us and the sisters were like...we go to your houses and ask for names of people you know and you give us nothing and then we come to this activity and you make a list of 60 people as fast as a finger snap...what is going on here?! The Pres. is always saying how the ward council should be the ones who fill our agendas every week with plans and people to visit, but that hasn't been happening and now with this meeting just like that we were able to make a list of names of people to visit. Now all we need is for the ward council to contact these people and make appointments for us. It was a really neat activity and meeting and I think it really encourage and pumped up the members that were able to attend. At the end of the meeting our ward council was sitting up at the front of the chapel and while everyone was leaving Elder De Hoyos came up to Elder Farrow and I because we were the closest missionaries and he told us that we expect members to do their part, but that when they don’t, we have to fill in and find and teach people on our own to keep the work progressing. It was a neat little personal advice experience from a General Authority. There was one commentary that Elder De Hoyos said at the very end that was very interesting. He said that members had become inactive members when they stop reading their scriptures every day. Imagine that! You can go to church and serve in a calling and all that jazz, but a general authority said that we weren't considered active members if we don't have personal daily scripture study! If you don't do it--do it and get active! :) That night of the meeting we decided to do interchanges with a companionship in our zone that has been struggling a little the past few weeks. It was my turn to leave and so I went to the other area in Balderrama for all of Wednesday. The Elder I was with has only been out like 2 months on the mission and hasn't been active his whole life but now is just on fire and loving the mission. I learned a lot from him and hope that I was able to teach him something as well. He has a lot of enthusiasm and love for the people which I liked. Wednesday night we got back together and were able to discuss with one another what we learned during the interchange and how we can improve. Thursday was a grand day! A Thanksgiving day! We started off the day going to the hospital to get the flu shot! Hermana Hernandez wanted all the missionaries to get it (just like she had us to it last year) so we went and got it done. And then that afternoon, we had thanksgiving feast! Like I had mentioned and the picture you all saw, a member and her family invited us over for Lunch that afternoon. It was fun! It was weird cause it didn't really feel like Thanksgiving (probs just because I wasn't with my family) but it was still fun and we ate good! I am thankful for the sweet member and her family who were able to invite us over! A little up date on investigators... Well if all goes according to what is planned, we should be having a baptism this week. The 9 year old that we have been teaching has gone to church now for 5 Sundays and so he is ready for baptism. He is pretty excited and I think his family is too. Finally a baptism and hopefully more on the way! There are 2 boys that are already thinking about missions! Haha! Their grandma told us this week that they have been worried about how their mom will take it when they have to go on a mission. And they are just 15 and 14 and still haven't been baptized yet! They are really awesome! They now have 3 weeks in church and technically just lack 2 to be baptized! We had a really neat lesson this week with them. The ward did a ward church cleaning night on Saturday and everyone was there cleaning even them! At the end we were planning on having a lesson with just them but then the youth stayed to listening in and some of the others who were cleaning and so we ended up having a mini class with about 12-13 people! It was really neat! We talked about the Plan of Salvation and how baptism is the key to this plan! The spirit was there and I think everyone like it. We received a reference this week from a member for her next door neighbor. This guy is a doctor. He lives alone and is pretty somewhat rich. His mom baptized awhile back in another town but is now inactive. We when got to his house we were a little unsure how he would accept us because we saw his fancy super new car and his big nice house. But when we introduced ourselves, he said his mom was a member and he let us in. We started talking to him and he didn't really have any belief in God and so we began to teach him how God is our Heavenly Father and the importance of that. He seemed to really like that and the spirit was there. I then asked what he was looking for in life or what he most wanted and he responded happiness and to maybe have a family one day. We taught how obeying God's commandments and the Gospel blesses us and gives us a fuller and eternal happiness. We then sang a hymn and he accepted to read a part of the Book of Mormon. He was really neat and he seemed to like what we were saying so we will see, but I think he could progress nicely. One last experience! Yesterday, as you all know, was fast Sunday and I was able to go up twice! Let me explain: I went up to give my normal testimony how I love doing every fast Sunday and then when I sat down I got a tap on the shoulder. I turned around and it was a member and she wanted me to go up with her to translate because she wanted to give her testimony. So we went up! She was nervous and not quite sure what to say and I think it was her first time. I told her a few basics of a testimony and told her to say what came out of her heart. It was finally her turn and we got up there together! She would say a sentence or 2 in English and then I would translate it in Spanish. She gave a really sweet and beautiful testimony and the spirit was there. And on top it was fun for me to translate! I really like it! Well, here is to fantastic week! Hang in there gang! Holidays are almost around the corner! Just a few more weeks! You can do it! I invited you to do the same activity as we did with Elder De Hoyos and make a list of people you know--even if you think they wouldn't accept, put them down. And they pray to know who is ready to recieve the missionaries. Love you and miss you all tons and just remember--you are only active if you read your scriptures daily! ¡Yo sé que vive mi Señor! Con Mucho Amor, Elder Joyner