03 April, 2012

Keaton J. Moore

On the 25th of February, 1994, Keaton was born in Nederland, Texas to Thomas and Melissa Moore, the second of four children. Those children are as follows:
  Nolan Grant Moore 24, Aug. 1990
  Keaton J. Moore 25, Feb. 1994
  Landon Conn Moore 8, Nov. 1995
  India Elise Moore 20, March 1999
  His first word was “Thank you” shortly followed in succession by “Please”, “Mom”, and “Dad”. By the time he was 20 months old his intelligence was clear as he was speaking in full sentences. When Landon was born, he is remembered to have asked “Whose baby is that?”
  When he was 17 months old he managed to get his hands on a medication called Campho Phenique. He opened the container and ingested some of this medicine. The exact amount that he ingested is unknown, but he went straight to his mother doing laundry and told her that it tasted bad. He had spilled part of the medication on his clothing, and he had the smell of it on his breath. He was rushed to the hospital and had his stomach pumped. Ever after he has lived (and almost died) by that same policy of learning through personal experience.
Since then he has grown both physically, mentally and spiritually. As part of this growth, he has developed many physical talents. When he was 13, he learned to ride a rip stick. One day, while riding, he turned sharply, and managed to catch his heel on a roll of sheet metal lying in the driveway, between the cars. Doing so lacerated his Achilles' tendon, almost severing it. He immediately received a priesthood blessing, and over a healing period of several months, and a surgery, he was restored to full health, and mobility. He has also developed a personal exercise regimen and a healthy diet to continue strengthening his body.
  Despite various setbacks, nothing has managed to prevent him from living life to it’s fullest. After his recovery he decided that he wanted to learn how to do a backflip. Thus he began gymnastics lessons. In under a year, he had not only mastered doing backflips, but was also hired on as a gymnastics coach and assigned his own class to teach. This coming from a boy who had almost no hope of ever walking again on his own.
  He has taught himself to juggle everything from clubs to fireballs, as well as ride a unicycle. He has even conquered the elusive feat of doing them simultaneously.
He is one to try any good thing once. He is very athletic and a hard worker. He enjoys snowboarding, surfing (Despite injuries), and any other physical activity imaginable.
  He is an experienced traveller and loves people, and assimilates well in other cultures. He has travelled all over the United States of America, in addition to having visited Mexico, England and his father’s mission in Toronto, Canada.
  He also had the opportunity to pick up his older brother, Nolan, from his mission in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Though unable to speak the language of the people, he was able to have an impact upon them, and learned to love their culture, and their food.
  In new circumstances, Keaton prefers to stand back and observe, to gain his bearings, which takes little time. Once a situation begins to feel more familiar, he is very outgoing, and quite talkative.
  He is one of those people that is good at whatever it may be that he tries. He once prayed for weeks that he would be able to take violin lessons, in addition to his piano lessons. When he was finally permitted to learn, he placed first in his division in all of his competitions. He continues to play piano, while making a name for himself in college, as he prepares to serve a mission.
  For having dedicated himself to his studies, he is very knowledgeable in many areas, and is well known for his quick wit. He is comfortable in speaking with adults, and has on multiple occasions has inquired concerning their professions, and their advice as he plans for his future. He wants to be a radiologist, and public speaker, and has studied accordingly.
  He is very determined to succeed, and has demonstrated this determination on multiple occasions. One of his conquests was to learn how to solve the Rubik’s cube. Upon this achievement, he expounded his ability to solve, not only the common 3x3 Rubik’s cube, but also the 4x4 and the 5x5, and to lower the time that it took to solve each one.
  He has also studied to become a computer technician, as well as having studied multiple books on time management. He has a great sense of humor and a quick wit, as well as an impeccable memory for jokes, punch lines, and movie quotes. He is always fun to be around and everyone loves him. A stake leader once said, “Not only is he the best kid in the stake, he’s arguably the best looking too.” Several mothers have attempted arranged marriages for their daughters.
In addition to his scholastic studies, he has also studied character development and life skills extensively, and as such is able to be a good influence in the lives of all those whom he comes in contact with. In his pursuit to study life skills he has amassed a formidable library of books by leading experts on leading a successful life.
  He is very patient and good with children. When his family once attempted to adopt 3 little children, he gave them his heart and dedicated himself to their care, despite the challenges which that presented.
  At the age of 17 he achieved the rank of Eagle scout, demonstrating beyond all doubt his abilities to lead and his determination to succeed. His character is unwavering. He does not lower his standards. In response to his steadfastness, many people raise their standards to meet his. Everyone who knows him loves him, and is very impressed with him.
  Keaton is very well rounded, and so takes care of himself mentally, physically, and also spiritually. He is currently on track to receiving his Duty to God award, and is active in church as well as fulfilling all his duties and responsibilities.
 He knows the difference between right and wrong, and always seeks for excellence. As such, he is often a good deal harder on himself than many people are. To meet his self imposed demands, he has developed great self discipline. Resultantly, he is constantly improving.
  As a college student, and even before, Keaton remains busy, yet he always sees to it that he studies his scriptures on a daily basis. Frequently, without regard to his work load, he will return home from school, turn to the Lord and study his scriptures, even before beginning his homework.
  He is always looking to share the gospel with others, and always offers rides to church and seminary to those less actives whom he knows. Oft times, they tag along with him wherever he goes, and he is always patient when they want to stay at his house. Due to his patience, and his self discipline, he has never had any problems with girls, despite all the girls that chase him.
  With all of his studies, he has learned to be a great speaker in sacrament meeting, able to inspire many. With his intelligence and many talents, he has developed his own testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ. He not only follows the Lord, but Loves him, and keeps his commandments willingly, because he understands their importance.
None can refute his righteousness, nor his good example. He is a light unto all that know him, and an asset to whomever may require his assistance. He has filled his life with good, and has been favored of the Lord for it. He will one day make a magnificent missionary, husband and father. Of that, none can doubt.

Ivan Reginald Sellers

Ivan Reginald Sellers was born on 31, Aug. 1946 to John Everett Sellers, (17,Jul. 1919 – 08, Jan. 1967) and Amy Lee Baker Sellers (29, Dec. 1919 – 2, Oct. 1996) as the 5th of six children (And the youngest son). His siblings are as follows
  Ronnie Ross Sellers (19, Sep 1938)
  Dalton Ralph Sellers (20, Feb 1941)
  Carolyn Rae Sellers(9, Jun. 1943)[Twin Sis.]
  Carroll (Pete) Ray sellers(9, Jun. 1943)[Twin Bro.]
  Ivan Reginald Sellers (31, Aug. 1946)
  Charlotte Ramona Sellers (19, Jan. 1950)
Oddly enough, all the kids' middle names begin with the letter “R”
   He had a rough childhood with his parents. While still a child his parents divorced, placing him and his older brother (Ronnie) in Boy’s Haven to continue their difficult existence.
  He only remembers having received one Christmas gift as a child, (A Tonka truck) which he received from a beloved uncle. This uncle was very poor, but would pick up the boys for the weekend when he could afford the gas.
  Ivan Lived in Boy’s Haven until Ronnie graduated from high school, at which point he moved in with him. Throughout all his schooling, he never once ate lunch at school, because no one ever thought to give him money to buy it, to give him the means to pack his own, or to register him for free lunches at the school.
He was never taken to any church in his childhood, and doesn’t know where he learned to pray, but remembers praying at night in Boy’s Haven for God to send someone to love him. He believe that person to be his wife, whom he met at the age of 15, and asked her to marry him. She accepted.
  Six months after they both graduated, Ivan married Melba on 2,Nov. They are now the parents of 11 children, and the grandparents of 30 grandchildren, and counting. Their children are as follows:
  Monica Michele Jarrell  (Oct 29, 1968)
  Melissa Elaine Moore (May 24, 1971)
  Charlotte Rebecca Oldbury (Sept 26, 1973)
  Sarah Elizabeth Lunt (Dec 20, 1975)
  Travis Ryan Sellers (Dec 6, 1977 - March 2, 2008)
  Jill Katina Ratcliff (Oct 17, 1979)
  Cari Liann Murdock (July 5, 1981)
  David Howard Sellers (Aug 17, 1983)
  Marianne Rachelle Ochoa (May 31, 1985)
  Kelly Brianna (Nov 6, 1987)
  Rachel Allison (Sept 20, 1996)
(All of their maiden names are Sellers. Maiden names are left out to conserve space. Those missing their last name are unmarried at the present.)
Shortly after their marriage, Ivan knew that he would soon be drafted, so to avoid the infantry, he enlisted in the army. He served 2 tours in Vietnam, and was stationed in multiple states. During this time he met a member of the church that sent the missionaries to his home. At this time, they had only 3 children, and have remained faithful in the church ever since.
  Shortly after joining the church they returned to Texas where they had grown up, and Ivan began working for Mobil Oil as an electrician while he raised his large family.
  Two years after his baptism he was called to serve in the bishopric of his ward while he attended Lamar University. He eventually graduated with two associates degrees, as the first member of his family to graduate from college.
  Also, after being baptized, he learned that his mother had been baptized at the age of 8, but had since become dormant, hence his rough upbringing. He also learned of one of his great grandfathers named William Williamson. William Williamson had been baptized in 1900, becoming the first saint to do so in Vidor, where Ivan and his family lived, and currently reside. William Williamson is also the among the ancestors of many who remain in Vidor. Almost all who live there have heard his name and at least know several of his descendants, if they are not counted among them.
While working at Mobil Oil he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa (A rare degenerative eye disease) and was going blind. Shortly thereafter he lost his job at half of his former salary, with 8 children living at home. Yet he continued with faith, and eventually had 11 children, the youngest being born when he was 50, and his wife 49 ½.
  During this time they moved to Davila in central Texas, where Melba’s ancestors came from, and enjoyed raising many of their children there.
  While yet living in Davila, Ivan was hospitalized with Guillain Barre Syndrome (A very painful nerve disorder which often leaves it's victims paralyzed). He also developed Bell's Palsy during this time as well (Also incredibly rare – especially having contracted, Guillain Barre). But the Lord was merciful and blessed him with the proper medical care and treatments. Though he has never fully recovered, he is thrilled to have 85% of his physical feeling.
  Because his hands and feet are numb, he requires a cane for balance, due to being legally blind. He also requires a hearing aid to prolong his hearing as long as possible, due to the adverse effects of Guillain Barre.
  The numbness in his hands has inhibited him from doing many of the crafts that he once enjoyed, and has kept him from being able to learn to read brail. He often finds a trail of blood from where he has cut his hand or foot, and has several burns from similar accidents cause by his conditions.
  Through the military he was able to go to a facility to learn to care better for himself by doing things such as laundry, cooking, walking with canes for the blind, (To avoid running into people or things) etc.
He also suffers from depression (A hereditary disorder for which he takes medication), yet say that he is happy due to his many blessings, and gratitude for the gospel.
  Throughout the years he has magnified all of the several callings which he has held. He currently serves in the Stake High Council with 3 of his son in laws, and he has served there for many years.
  Among the many stories told of Ivan, one lesser known is of his testimony of tithing. While still a new member of the church, and raising many of his children, he had spent all of his money, and had come up short when it came time to pay his tithing. He then approached his bishop asking for advice. The bishop then told him to simply add it to his tithing the following week, and that would be sufficient. Ivan didn’t feel comfortable with that idea. In response to his dilemma, he rooted out a portion of his prized coin collection, and he sold it to a local antiques dealer. With that money he was able to pay is tithing. It was a sacrifice, but he never again lacked the money to pay his tithing. Malachi tells us that the lord will pour a blessing out upon our heads so great that we cannot receive it. We may ask “What blessing has he received? Why he cannot even see? How then can he see his great blessings?” upon first inspection, that argument would have some truth to it. But upon closer inspection would be torn apart. The blessings for his sacrifice and dedication have not been received by him, for they are far too great, but for his dedication and faithfulness he has 11 children raised in the gospel, and 30 grandchildren, 3 having served or serving missions, and one sealed in the temple, with many more to come. How then can one doubt the blessings of the Lord?
Has not the Lord then, been truly merciful unto Ivan? Many shall call him father, and many shall praise him for his sacrifices, and for raising his children in the gospel. Through his descendants has much of the gospel been preached to the nations, and will continue to be preached. How then can his name not be called blessed, for even in his late years he remains faithful to his Father in heaven. How great the mercies of the Lord. Ivan has lived to leave a legacy of faith and devotion to the Lord, for when once he found the truth, he never did turn away.

My Pedigree Chart

Nolan Grant Moore: One Moore Guy.

Nolan Grant Moore: One Moore Guy.
            My name is Nolan Nolan Grant Moore. I was born on the 24th day of August in the 1990th year since the birth of our lord. I am the oldest of the four children brought into this world by Thomas Daniel Moore and Melissa Elaine Sellers Moore.
            I wish to relate something of my life, and pray that you bear with me. Many of the events of which I shall attempt to convey may be of questionable worth to my audience, yet have been of great importance in my instruction and development. The relations that I shall share are for the benefit of future generations, that they may not err as I have done, and that they may have joy with me in the successes, which I have seen in my days.
            I do not remember the first few years of my existence, thus while the experiences shall be shared from my perspective there may be inconsistencies within the details, for they were pieced together form the memories of others who knew me in those first few years.
            My first year was plagued by health complications. They began a matter of days following my birth. While I was yet in the hospital after my birth, it was late one evening and my mother had fallen asleep. Due to her exhausted state, and that of my father, my father allowed me to be placed under the care of the nurses so that my mother could sleep. Within a half hour of me being placed in their care I began to turn blue and was put on oxygen. It was found that my heart had not fully developed, and that due to this lack of completion, my heart was recirculating the same deoxygenated blood through my circulatory system multiple times. Upon the information of my father of my condition I received a priesthood blessing from him and my grandfather. I was released from the hospital on the 21 of September of that same year, the first anniversary of my parents wedding.
            For the rest of my first year I had incessant ear infections. I was placed on antibiotics, and within a week of having recovered and been taken off the medication I had another infection. Eventually my body became resilient to the medications, such that I was required to take unhealthily strong medications to rid myself of the ear infections. At 11 months, I was taken to an EMT and it was decided that I should have tubes in my ears. After that, I was rarely ill.
            Between the ages of one and two my mother had a rather difficult visit teaching route and companion, yet she always did her best to complete her visit teaching each month. Her companion wasn’t very accommodating, and their route was rather large. One day, when she went to pick up her companion, she was told to come back in about a half an hour. This lady didn’t live in the best part of town, and my mother being still young, didn’t realize this. So instead of returning home she decided to go to a local super market to while away the time. Upon our arrival to the store, two larger black women stepped out of their van and followed my mother inside. It was soon made clear that their intention was to remove me from the custody of my mother and cart me away. My mother knew not what to do, so she quickly made for the exit, and by a miracle was able to make it out of the parking lot before the two women made it out of the store. That experience was not to be repeated, nor forgotten.
            Later that same year my parents took me to visit some adopted grandparents of my mother. They lived in Florida at the time, and they bought tickets for us to see all of the local parks and sights, and included money for us to be able to eat lunch at eat of the locals. It was a special treat for all of us.
            The following year, in 1992 my father was accepted to The University of Texas’s Physical Therapy program. Around that same time, my mother helped me to maintain correspondence with Elder Fischer. He was one of the missionaries that was serving from our ward at that time. Writing him, while I had minimal participation in the actual implementation of the activity, it geared my early life toward the gospel and showed me the importance of being a missionary.
            While I was yet two my parents began to teach me to write. They first taught me to write my name. This led to my receiving a chalkboard for my third birthday. Upon my presentation of this gift and a piece of chalk, I immediately wrote my name to the astonishment of all present. On 25, February of 1994, several months before my fourth birthday my younger brother Keaton was born, becoming the second child in our home.
            As a four year old I began my educational career in half-day kindergarten. I also furthered my spiritual education in primary, where I memorized in sequence the names of each latter-day prophet from Joseph Smith to Howard W. Hunter. I imagine that being quite the feat for a four year old to accomplish, though I have no recollection of the occurrence.
            Nearing the end of kindergarten, after having accomplished 5 years of age I was told that I would be required to retake kindergarten for lack of having learned my colors. It was very apparent to all who knew me (Excepting my teacher) that I was a very intelligent child, and that I clearly knew the names of every color in my crayon box, much less in the rainbow. I well knew how to read, and when asked the color of a crayon, I would read the label, to the dissatisfaction of my teacher. Upon my parents’ reception of the notification of my requirement to retake kindergarten, I was tested for colorblindness. My teacher was astonished at the results. I had tested positive for red green colorblindness, something that most children with that condition didn’t learn until having entered the third grade.
            Later that same year, we received the next addition to our family. On 8, November 1995, Landon was born, giving us a total of three brothers. He, like Keaton have grown strong in their faith in Jesus Christ, and continue to grow daily, despite every challenge and opposition that they have faced.
            Some time after my having reached six years of age our family bought our first dog. She was a Shetland sheepdog and we named her Chelsea. Throughout all of the years that we had her, she was a beloved member of the family. In that same year I learned to ride a bicycle with a great deal of help and encouragement from my father.
            The following year our family moved to a town in Texas called Vidor. It is situated just off of interstate ten, 45 min. north of the Gulf of Mexico, and 30 min. west of Louisiana. I was raised there for the rest of my childhood. We originally moved there so that my father could start his practice as a Physical Therapist. Shortly after having arrived in Vidor my mom began to show symptoms of Rheumatory Arthritis, a condition that further developed in later years.
            Shortly after my eighth birthday I was baptized a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I can yet remember my excitement to get baptized. Even at such a young age I wanted to follow my savior. I did not always understand, nor can I say that I even had my own testimony, but I wanted to understand, and what I knew, I did. It is also remembered by some present at my baptism that after having been baptized I attempted to swim within the baptismal font. When further questioned by my mother as to my motives, I innocently responded that, “It felt so good to get baptized, that I didn’t want it to end”.
            The winter following my baptism my family took a trip to Utah where I was able to see the Salt Lake Temple and many other historical sites. It was also my first encounter snow skiing. I was unable to develop my talent at home, but was blessed with many other opportunities in further years to do so.
            At the age of nine, my sister India was born. She was born on the 20, March 2000, and was the last child born into our family. She also is growing in her faith, and becoming a steadfast daughter of God. Around the same time that my sister was born, I began taking medication for Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD). After cycling through several different medications I eventually stopped taking medications for my deficit two years later, at the age of 11.
            At the age of ten I began attending middle school. After our experiences with the workings of the school district, I was the first and only child in our family (And several other families) to attend middle school in Vidor. On Valentine’s Day of 2001 I bought a puppy from some people in an intersection. I named her lady, and she made for a fine dog. As of yet (In the year 2012) she is still alive, well and happy.
            At some point in my life my family began feeding the missionaries in our ward. I remember several in particular that served in our ward around this time. The names of the three that I remember best are Elder Cole, Elder Shore, and Elder Guest. I remember distinctly that Elder Shore was new in the mission, that it was his first area and that his first day in the mission, the missionaries were playing sports, and he broke his nose. I? also remember that Elder Cole had been the Utah state chess champion 2 years running when he left on his mission. He also had never read The Book of Mormon before his mission. While on his mission he read The Book of Mormon and grew to love it. More than any other experience I remember with them are all the times that we sat, gathered around the table after dinner as I listened to the missionaries discuss gospel principles with my parents. I remember that they spoke of the stories in the Book of Mormon, as I had never heard anyone speak of them before. They spoke of the people and places as though they truly had existed and as though they were as tangible as you or I. I remember vividly my desire to know the truth, and to learn for myself if it was so. It was these evening discussions that inspired me, and I set the goal to read The Book of Mormon daily until I had read it through.
            At the age of 11, I completed my aforementioned goal of reading The Book of Mormon. I had a rocky start at the beginning, because I would occasionally forget to read a day at a time. But by then end I would read daily. I can remember kneeling upon my knees to ask the Lord if what I was reading were true. I yet remember the distinct impression that I received in that moment. I received an affirmation of the Spirit that they were in deed true. It was not a strong answer, but I knew that it was meant for me, and I felt the love of God. That changed my life. As I read The Book of Mormon I also set a goal to keep a daily journal. That goal was kept for years, but regrettably hat habit has since been lost. At my age, I knew not the importance of journal keeping, nor did I well know how. I knew not what to record, but I retain my journals today because I was a faithful youth and want to remember how I gained my testimony.
            At the age of 12 I was ordained a Deacon and received the Aaronic Priesthood. Shortly thereafter, to the surprise of none, I was called as the Deacon’s Quorum President (I was the only deacon in the ward, so there wasn’t anyone else to call). It was also that self same year that, while nearing the end of the sixth grade my parents pulled me out of school and my mother began homeschooling me. This decision was not made without great consideration with fasting and prayer on the part of my parents, and that of myself. I had had several difficulties with bullies that were causing me health problems, and the Lord saw fit that I should be homeschooled. I was homeschooled throughout the remainder of my junior high, and high school years. Each year of high school I would pray to know whether or not I should return to public school, and each year, without fail I received the council to remain where I was. It was not always easy to do so, because family and friends who did not understand often scorned me, but I knew what I had been told.
            After homeschooling for nearly a year, we heard of a group of LDS homeschoolers that often met in Houston (A city located 100 miles south, south, west of our town). We had tried to join other Christian homeschool groups nearby, but when they learned that we were “Mormons” we were told that their groups were exclusively for “Christians”, and so we resorted to travelling two hours to Houston on a monthly basis to associate with other groups. Due to the additional time offered by my homeschooling schedule, I was able to study the scriptures in greater depth, as well as develop many of my talents. One of the talents that I began to develop around this time was the ability to perform magic tricks, which served me well in the years since.
            At the age of 14 I was ordained a Teacher in the Aaronic Priesthood. Shortly thereafter I was called as the Teacher’s Quorum President (Again, no surprise). I was also able to receive my Patriarchal blessing. I was overjoyed to receive my patriarchal blessing. The one thing that I wanted it to tell me was that I would serve a mission. I was given that blessing, and many more that have brought me peace and comfort through out my life, and which have always been a source of strength to me.
            At the age of 15 I was called as a member of the stake youth committee. I was able to learn and grow greatly in my calling as I did my best to magnify it. I was not released until the age of 17, two years later. I was also able to attend EFY this year. I always enjoyed EFY and had great spiritual experiences. This same year in Sunday school our class was issued a challenge by our teacher (Who happened to be my mom). The challenge was to have a spiritual experience. We were told to ask the Lord a question and receive an answer. We were told to ask a yes or no question to which we knew the answer, and to wait. If we already knew the answer, and the Lord would always tell us the truth, then any answer we received would have to be the truth that we already knew. We were challenged to ask the God if he loved us. We all knew that he did, but we were told to ask, and we were promised an answer. I took the challenge, and in subsequent years forgot who had issued the challenge, but always remembered my experience and the answer I received. I did not receive a strong answer, but I knew that it was my answer, intended for me to receive, and I felt the Love of God. That changed my life.
            As a 16 year old I was ordained a priest. Following suit with the other years, I was promptly called as the Priest Quorum First Assistant. My years of service in the Aaronic priesthood strengthened me in my youth and taught me to magnify my calling, no matter how miniscule it may appear to be. Over that summer I was able to travel to the Dominican Republic to perform humanitarian service for a poor hospital. I went with a group called A.Y.S. (Alliance for Youth Services, since renamed ………). It was my first experience with Spanish culture teaching me a lot about foreign countries and customs. I was also able to learn a lot about how to work hard.
            The following year I was able to travel to Perú with the same organization, doing similar work for an orphanage. This time I was able to go with my mom. I also took up contact juggling (A form of “Juggling” where the ball appears nearly weightless as it rolls across your hands, arms and body). I fabricated a ball that had a low flash point, allowing it to be ignited and handled without great danger of burning the handler. Contact juggling that ball was very impressive. It was quite the sight to see.
            Being a teenager presented it’s own special challenges for me. As I strove to maintain my standards, I was often excluded by those who claimed to be my friends. While I would socialize with youth my age, and they treated me well when they were near me, it seemed that none truly liked me. It wasn’t until I began college at the age of 18 that I felt included. I found that I had lots of friends at college that would talk with me, hang out and simply enjoyed my company and appreciated me personality. College was a great preparation for my mission.
            At the age of 18 I was ordained an Elder and received the Melchizedek priesthood from the hands of my father and grandfather. I also received my Eagle Scout and Duty to God Awards. For my Eagle Scout project I made neck coolers for a battalion in the National Guard. The battalion attended my court of honor and Sergeant Brister awarded me with an Army Campaign Coin in addition to my rank advancement. Upon receiving my award I was given a standing ovation from those in attendance. That felt really good. I was also going to return to Perú to continue the service that I had begun when I was 17, but fervent prayer revealed that I was not to return to Perú with my mom for my brother Landon’s first trip. It was a miracle that I did not go. When I received my mission call to go to Argentina, I was informed that I could not have travelled outside of the country in the last year if I wanted to receive a visa for my stay. I know that I was blessed for heeding the councils of the Lord on that occasion.
            Upon completing 19 years, I received my mission call to serve in the Argentina Buenos Aires South Mission speaking Spanish. Many people would have been surprised if I spoke any other language on my mission due to my several experiences with latin culture. And thus began my temporal preparations to serve the Lord, amassing the required gear to live in Argentina for the next two years.
            However, before I left on my mission I had the opportunity to attend Philmont Scout Ranch backpacking in the mountains for two weeks with my ffather, brother and scout troop. It was certainly an experience I will never forget as we climbed the mountain. There is little that can compare. I must say that I tried to model my mission after that experience, for as we neared the top of the mountain, many were tired and felt out of shape to climb that high, and none were accustomed to the altitude. As we neared the top, many had to take frequent breaks to stop and rest. I however, was able to continue on. I found myself returning time and again to the tired members of our group to relieve them of their packs and their burdens so that they could finish the climb as I shouldered the weight. One by one we all reached the top.
            I learned a lot from that trip about how to handle myself around others for extended periods of time in high stress situations. It was particularly difficult at times as the exhaustion got to each of us. But we all made it with no serious injuries.
            It wasn’t more than a couple of weeks later that I entered the MTC on 23 September 2009 and began the service that I had dreamt about my whole life. I was in the MTC for a grueling 2 months learning to speak and teach in Spanish. After my stay in the MTC I was ready to enter the mission field. I don’t necessarily mean that I was prepared, but I wanted to get into the mission field.
            Over the next two years I had a total of 15 companions.
·      Zachary Thomas (23 November 2009-15 February 2010. Idaho. He was a fun guy and never one for a serious moment if there wasn’t a need. He taught me to be upbeat.)
·      Jeff Penovich (15 February 2010-28 March 2010. California. I had him for his last transfer, and the whole while he told me that he still had six months left on his mission. When we reached the end of the transfer, I was in for a rude awakening. I had no clue that he was leaving, so it came as a bit of a surprise. I laughed about it later, and afterwards I realized how hard he worked at the end of his mission, because I hadn’t the slightest clue that he was leaving because he worked just as hard as anyone else. I learned a lot from his example and because I saw how he ended his mission well working hard, I tried to do the same.)
·      Diego Acuña (28 March 2010-10 May 2010. Santiago, Chile. He was such a fun loving guy, and he spoke English almost completely fluently. He picked it up in his ten months in the mission. He rarely got discouraged and always had a smile on his face.)
·      Nephi Herrera (10 May 2010-21 June 2010. Chile. A very good missionary with a clear vision of his purpose. He always worked hard and tried to inspire faith and obedience in others.)
·      Esteban Morales (21 June 2010-12 July 2010. Cordoba, Argentina. A very hardworking and obedient missionary. Because of his exact obedience with his understanding of why he was being obedient, we were able to have far more success in our three weeks than I saw in any other time throughout the majority of my mission. He had great faith. He was in our mission waiting for his visa so that he could serve in Mexico. When his visa came in, he left halfway through the transfer to go to his mission.)
·      Brady Wanlass (12 July 2010-2 August 2010. He succeeded Elder Morales in our area. He had a good sense of humor. We saw many miracles together.)
·      Spencer Champlin (2 August 2010-6 August 2010. Utah. An inspiring missionary. There were few missionaries with more resolve, and a better aura about them. He baptized more people than most missionaries I knew because he worked, and he loved the people. He was the Assistant to the President when I returned home. I was with him for a week as I waited for Elder Nalder to arrive.)
·      Collin Bigelow (2 August 2010-6 August 2010. Utah. He was a really great guy with a strong personality. He was trained by Elder Champlin, so I was with him for his first week as he was being trained. Regrettably the climate caused his asthma to react adversely and he was forced to return home to recuperate after a matter of months due to complications made possible by his asthma. He and I were sick at about the same time and had similar symptoms. Due to this development, we both went to the mission doctor, who happened to cover all three missions in Buenos Aires, requiring us to leave the mission. That was a lot of fun.)
·      Zachary Nalder (6 August 2010-13 September 2010. Washington. Six months before he was my companion, he had been playin soccer in the rain with his zone and broke his ankle. He was required to return home to heal. At the end of his respite, we were assigned to work together. He was a good missionary who truly wanted to be on the mission. We saw a lot of success together.)
·      Gavin Johnson (13 September 2010-6 December 2010. Not quite sure where he was from. He was born in Utah, though he lived there only briefly. He lived in various states due to his father’s employ as an engineer. He later lived in Brazil for two years for the same reason. His father then became a diplomat for the United States and he then lived in any country other than the United States for two years at a time. So his origin is sort of a mystery to me. He spoke 8 languages and had a firm testimony of the gospel. He had witnessed many miracles in his life, half of which I don’t even know. He had a very clear vision of life, was very disciplined and very determined.)
·      Connor Connolly (6 December 2010-28 February 2011. Arizona. He was a very calm, very levelheaded missionary. He never missed an opportunity to teach.)
·      Aquino (28 February 2011-11 April 2011. Chaco, Argentina. He truly loved the people and wanted to teach. He wanted to serve, and the joy and comfort that the gospel gave him shined through. He had a difficult childhood. He was truly a miracle.)
·      Arbon (11 April 2011-23 May 2011. Utah. He spoke Spanish better than most missionaries that I knew that had already finished their missions at less than half the time that they had. He knew how to speak with the people and had assimilated himself into their culture. He knew how to listen to the spirit.)
·      Nefi Constanza (23 May 2011-15 August 2011. El Salvador. Elder Constanza was a jovial fellow. He was always optimistic and full of energy. He always had questions and wanted to learn and was slow to judge others. He had a lot of faith and would work hard to reach his goals.)
·      Jorge Calderón (15 August 2011-26 September 2011. El Salvador. He had a rough life, and was a convert to the church. He was the only member in his broken family. He was very obedient and wanted his family to be eternal and have the blessings of the gospel. He always listened to his father, but decided to go on a mission on his own, because he knew what was right. I could not have been more proud of anyone. He [Like a few other companions] was like a brother to me. I will see him with gladness again someday.)
I learned something from each companion and am grateful to have served with each. Before the mission I had studied Spanish minimally, and my accent wasn’t horrible, however I had great difficulty learning the language. In the end I was able to persevere and I learned to communicate.
            I was able to serve in four areas and know many faithful Latter Day Saints in each and every one.
·      Acevedo (23 November 2009-15 February 2010)
·      Veronica (15 February 2010-10 April 2010)
·      Gutierrez B (10 April 2010-6 December 2010)
·      Fiorito (6 December 2010-23 May 2011)
·      Avellaneda 2 (23 May 2010-26 September 2011)
            Acevedo is a rural area composed of mostly neighborhoods and ghettos with a good deal of city nearby. I learned a lot about having faith in the work with my trainer there. He was m only companion in that area. I was latter able to se members from that area as I went throughout the rest of my mission. It seemed that they turned up at every corner to greet me. They didn’t normally remember me well because I hadn’t yet learned to speak Spanish in my 3 months (Two transfers – 12 weeks) in that area, but it was always nice to see a familiar face and how far along I had come. Towards the end of my mission I was able to return and see some of the faithful priesthood holders as our zone combined with their ward to do missionary service, finding new people for the missionaries in their ward to teach. This was possible because the area is in the zone of Banfield, and I latter returned to serve in that same zone.
            Veronica is a small town in the middle of nowhere. It is a two-hour bus ride to get there from the city of La Plata (The capital city of the province of Buenos Aires). The area included not only the town of Veronica, but also three other adjacent towns (Though still not entirely nearby) that I was aware of. Of the four towns, only three appeared on the map. My two transfers in Veronica were the only transfers that I had a bike, or any other form of transportation other than a city bus, an occasional remis (Privately owned taxi. We only used those on special occasions, like getting transferred) or good old fashioned walking. Veronica is in the zone of Villa Elvira B, one of the 3 zones in La Plata.
            Gutierrez is a well-situated metropolitan area in the zone of Quilmez. The ward in Gutierrez was divided into two proselyting areas, and due to certain circumstances I had the opportunity to serve in both sides of the ward in my 5 transfers there. The first leg of my mission was accompanied by certain challenges. I was unable to baptize a single person until I arrived in Gutierrez. The mission always had its challenges and difficulties, however after I arrived in Gutierrez, the pain that I felt at being unable to fulfill what I saw as my purpose was greatly eased.
            Fiorito is a more humble part of town in the zone of Banfield. It was here that I was able to return to my first area. This area was filled with growth and adventure for me. There was always something exciting happening in Fiorito, and I feel that I learned a lot about applying the gospel. It was supposedly one of the more dangerous areas of the mission, and as I later learned was renowned throughout much of Latin America as one of the most dangerous ghettos in South America. It also happens to be the birthplace of one of Argentina’s greatest soccer heroes, Diego Maradona.
            Avellaneda was my last area and is the area furthest north of the entire mission, excepting that of the zone leaders who served in the other ward of Avellaneda. It is in the zone of Avellaneda. It was reportedly one of the more difficult areas of the mission, (Though that was hardly common knowledge, because there were scarcely any areas that the mission president classified as difficult, and if he did you never heard about it. I think that most people just realized that missions are tough, and they didn’t say much to me about their difficulties. I only know that it was classified as one of the more difficult areas because the Elder whom I succeeded was rather discouraged and spoke with the mission president about his perceived lack of success, and to console him the Mission President told him of the difficulties of serving in that area.) though I didn’t allow that to prevent me from serving with all of my capacities. I worked with everything I had until the very end.
            I feel that I grew exponentially in my mission and feel great happiness and joy upon each recollection of my mission. I loved every single companion that I served with, and feel joy upon recalling my service with each and the companionship that we shared. I grew close to them all and truly miss having a companion. Each area brings back distinct memories and emotions, as does each companion due to the unique bonds that I formed in each area, and with each companion.
            I’ve always had a love for scripture, and for verse, so on my mission I requested certain inspirational poems from home and used them to teach my native companions English towards the end of my mission. One of the poems that particularly inspired me in the Lord’s work says:
Father, where shall I work today?
And my love flowed warm and free;
Then he pointed out a tiny spot;
And said tend that for me;
I answered quickly;
On no not that!;
Why no one would ever see;
No matter how well my work was done;
Not that little place for me;
The word he spoke;
It was not stern;
He answered me tenderly;
Ah, little one, search that heart of thine;
Art thou working for them, or for me?
Nazareth was a little place;
And so was Galilee.
            When I left on my mission, I knew that they church was true. When I returned, I still knew it. I learned and grew a lot from my mission though I know that I still have a good bit of growing to do. I know that the church is true, and I know that my Savior loves me. Above all, those things I know and cannot doubt for the Spirit has made them know unto me. The love that I have felt from the Lord in his mercy have always sustained me, and when I felt that I could not continue and that I must surely collapse within myself, his word was like a fountain of living water inside me that filled my every crevice, that I could not fall. I have been witness to the blessings and the miracles of the Lord. I know that He loves me. I know that he has restored his church upon the earth today, and I cannot deny it. I wish that all could feel greater joy than I at the knowledge of the restored gospel, for I know that I yet lack much understanding, and so being, I lack much of the joy that comes from the gospel. But I know that if I will persevere until the end that I shall have a fullness of joy, and that I shall once again see my Father in Heaven and see my Savior. Of a truth I know these things and strive continually to learn more and to be righteous, even in my lowly state. I know that if I am faithful that I shall be raised up at the last day. What joy and light that the gospel brings to my life! I love the Lord with all my heart and know that he loves me even more than I can comprehend. I know that Christ suffered all things for me and that He loves me. Beyond all shadow of a doubt, and above anything else that I know, I know that He loves me. I cannot convey the importance that His love has to me, nor the effect that it has wrought upon my life. This is a part of my life’s story, and my testimony of our Father in Heaven and His son, Jesus Christ, and the gospel of Christ. I state these things in the name of Him Who is Mighty to Save, even Jesus Christ, of whom I testify. Amen.