Monday, March 22, 2010

200 lbs. of happy

We had another fantastic Zone Conference this past Wednesday. The instruction we were given focused on working with members(my favorite!) and helping them invite their friends to hear about the restored gospel. Lucky for us, this is a very missionary-minded ward! In addition to the excellent trainings given, we also were informed that on the last Tuesday before transfers, we're going to have one big Zone Conference with the entire mission!! I'm really looking forward to that! It also occurred to me when I got here that I have now officially served in all 4 zones within this mission. Interesting, isn't it? And I've been in a different zone every time I've gotten transferred, which thankfully hasn't been that often. :) 

I've been studying the Old Testament lately, and I mentioned that to Pres. Robbins at Zone Conference and he sent me selected chapters to make it more interesting. It should also make my study more effective because obviously there are things in those selected chapters that need to be found and then applied. We are safe and sound in our nice, new apartment. The assistants, the office elders, and the Cincy zone leaders helped us move on Friday, and we were able to get it done much faster as a result. 

This past week was all right in terms of teaching. We only had 13 lessons, but they were good ones! However, we need to reach 20 every week because that is the mission standard and we aren't about to lower the bar here in Cincinnati. We have more than enough potentials as well as referrals that need worked on. In fact, I'm training on contacting and teaching referrals in district meeting tomorrow, and it's a very important subject. In other good news, Shawntae and her 10 year old son, Jameill will be getting baptized this coming Saturday at 5 P.M. Initially, it was also going to include her daughter Jameisha (age 12) and another son named Jaquell (age 8). However, Jameisha wants to be baptized on her own, so that should be within the next couple of weeks. As for Jaquell, Shawntae wants to give him a little more time to get a grasp on the gospel. He's close, but we'll teach him more for a few extra weeks. No big deal. Better to be ready than rushed, right? 

Along with Shawntae's family, we were able to finally get Michelle to Church yesterday! It was her first time there since she last investigated the Church over 30 years ago, and she certainly seemed to enjoy it. Currently, she's working on overcoming a drug addiction, but at our last follow-up, she'd been clean for about a week! Any progress is good progress, no matter how long it takes. Our goals for this week will be to turn our potentials and referrals into new investigators, reach 20 lessons, and work on Family Mission Plans....and of course, make final preparations for Shawntae and Jameill's baptism. It's pretty neat to come into an area and have progressing investigators! I know I haven't had much to do with it, but I know if I put my best foot forward that I can eventually make a difference to the people here. We have plenty of support from the members, and the people in general are pretty nice; AND they recognize us as Mormons rather than Jehovah's Witnesses. That's an important difference to distinguish, isn't it? 

Well, the work goes on in Cincinnati! I hope to send some pictures home next week, and don't worry I haven't gotten fat or anything. :) I did weigh myself a few weeks ago and I came in at an even 200 pounds. So I guess I've gained SOME weight since I've been out, but I'm nowhere even close to the Pillsbury Doughboy. Anyway, hope everyone is healthy and happy back home. It's now officially Spring!! That was a long, miserable winter out here. However, no matter what's it like outside, we're gonna be out in it! Hope you all have another great week!!!! 

Monday, March 15, 2010

New world, new wonderful

Wow, lots of questions for me to answer! In terms of our area, we cover all of downtown as well as the west side including Price Hill, and the suburbs as far north as Kenwood just outside of Norwood, which has missionaries there. So basically, it's a pretty good sized area to cover! And without the busses, we'd be doomed, especially considering they took our car away just before I got here because the Norwood Spanish elders needed it because one of them was injured. I don't mind the busses, though, and in fact one of our goals this week is to talk to at least one person whenever we get on the bus. That can be challenging, but it's a fun challenge. 

Things here in Cincy are moving along great! Just working on getting my feet wet, which has proved true not only in the sense of learning the area, but also literally so with all the rain the past few days. It hasn't slowed the work down though! As I said last week, we have a quadruple baptism planned for March 27th; a 31 year old black woman named Shawntae along with her 3 oldest kids. She has 7 kids in all, and none of them are older than 11! They have a lot of support from the ward members, which is great to see! I've only been here for a week, but I already like this ward a lot! I've even met a few people who are related to other members that I've known in past areas, so that's been cool talking with them. They were surprised yesterday when I told them that I have always been a diehard Reds fan, probably because I live out West! :) It would be the coolest thing if I got to go to a Reds game before I went home. Our ward mission leader, Bro. Martin, whose family lives up in Wilmington, pretty much works for the Reds, and he said he would work on getting me to a game that falls on Monday, for obvious reasons. 

This has been a fun area to learn about, the history of the Church here is very rich and the members here are proud of that fact. They do a great job of getting us involved in things, and so the least we can do is return the favor. Obviously, they are our best means for successful missionary work and we need to take advantage. By the way, it's the only ward that we cover, but it takes in the same amount of area that we work in. A lot of the members work for Proctor and Gamble or the Reds or Kroger (the local grocery place, they are everywhere) or some other company, and so of course they have lots of money but they are still very humble. Well, this ought to be an eventful week, with Zone Conference on Wednesday and moving into a new place on Friday! Sheesh, we'll have like half the mission there to help us move! Only a slight exaggeration, we'll really have 7; but hey, many hands make light work, right?

It's in a good location near several stores and what-not, plus no bus stop is more than 5 minutes away which is nice. We live in a nice place right now, but it takes 10 minutes to get to a bus stop, so this will save us time and energy. I think I answered all the questions, but I'm sure there are more to come. :) Sounds like ward conference was spiritual. Pres. Cooper and Bis. Hoopes are both great men, wish I had been there to listen to them. Well, by the next ward conference, I should be! And good luck on your upcoming talk, I'm confident you will say what the Lord wants said. Hope everyone in the family is doing well!! I'm grateful to have this privilege of serving in such a promising area (again) where the Church is doing really well! Thank you for your continued love, support, and prayers in my behalf! Have another great week!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Dear Family,

Well, I finally made it to a library so I can e-mail you all! Here's the OTHER good news: I'M IN CINCINNATI!!!!!!!! Mom's prediction was right, and my long ago prediction made at the age of 6 has ALSO been fulfilled!! My new companion is Elder Loveland from Cambridge, ID. He's been out for around a year, so it's good to be with someone who has some experience under their belt. Whew! That's about the only word I can think of to sum up transfers!  From what Elder Loveland has told me, there is a lot going on here, which ought to be expected since it's a big town with tons of people who need the gospel. We also pretty much have to rely on the bus to get around here, but I think it will be fun. Before I forget, we are moving into a new apartment sometime next week, so it would probably be better to send any mail to the mission address until I can get you the new one. We have a family here (well, 4 of them that is) who are scheduled for baptism on March 26th, I believe. You can imagine I was pretty stoked to find THAT out! I also have heard that our zone leaders are going to try and get tickets to the Reds Opening Day game, which falls on preparation day!!!! YEAH, I THINK IT'S AN UNDERSTATEMENT TO SAY I'M REALLY STOKED TO BE IN CINCINNATI!! I'm also confident that Elder Rush and his new companion will be able to continue what was done in Hazard, and my prayers are with them. The people there are great, and I know the Lord blessed us abundantly because we had faith in His promises. It is quite a contrast, though, going from a mountainous country town to the population center of this mission. Obviously, with an area this size and this kind of population, it will take some getting used to.

Wow, so many new things and plenty of new experiences that are sure to come! I know that as we exercise faith and believe that there are prepared individuals and families out there ready to be baptized and go through the temple, the Lord will grant it unto us. Faith is the key! I'm not really experiencing a culture shock going from Hazard to Cincinnati, but I will say that it is definitely a different world. I'm looking forward to seeking the Lord's will as to what He would have us accomplish this transfer, and am also excited for  General Conference!! It doesn't hurt that we get to take our suit jackets off next month either. :) 

Well, I'm not sure what I else there is to add at this point, except that our new apartment has a blacktop basketball court out back, so you know where I'll be during exercises and downtime!! Yeah, that's kind of a random thing to close a letter with, but you know how I am. :) I hope that Ellie is feeling better and that Cal isn't tormenting her too much. Regardless, I love 'em! And I think it's a great idea for Kenz to go to Mexico!! Kudos to that one! I hope Dad is having luck with his new job, and that Mom is continuing to sell her merchandise successfully! Your stories, faith, and testimonies are awe-inspiring every time I read them! Thank you for praying for and supporting me every minute of every day. I can feel that strength coming to me!! Hope you all have another wonderful and spiritual week!                                                                         


Elder Isaac Livingston

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Donkey Kong vs. Missionaries

Let's see, how can I best start this e-mail? Well, I'll just say that I'm grateful we elders always pray for the Lord's protection before leaving our apartment, as well as you and many other people. Yesterday it was even more appreciated. Too bad that those prayers of safety DIDN'T include our car. Yep, you've guessed it! Yet another car wreck, I guess it's my curse on the mission. We were headed to Church, and our building is located at the top of a hill. We were about 1/3 of the way up when the road starts to bend slightly, traveling about 20 MPH, when a solid patch of ice which was practically invisible sent our car drifting hard to the left....and off the side of the mountain. Luckily, there were trees. LOTS of trees. And a fairly good sized one finally stopped the front of our car about 15 feet down from the ledge where the road was. Also, the airbags didn't deploy, there was no broken glass, neither of us were thrown through the windshield, and the car didn't catch on fire and explode. In fact, we made it out of that wreck without so much as a scratch. All I can say again is thanks for your prayers! The front of our car looks like Donkey Kong took his giant hammer and smashed it. Funny, the darn car still runs!! I have mixed emotions about the whole ordeal, trying to maintain a positive attitude while at the same time realizing that the loss of our car really hampers the work in Hazard. So, you can imagine how well I slept last night. I believe this is the 5th accident that I have been involved in on my mission; most of them small, but a couple, including this one, quite scary. In both of those cases, the hand of the Lord has reached down and delivered us. Unfortunately, that didn't include our vehicle this time. I guess all that I can say is that apparently driving 20 MPH up a hill in wet and supposedly icy conditions isn't slow enough. Lesson learned! I'll be glad to get back to the other side of the mission where the roads are actually normal. :)

All those "hazards" (no pun intended) aside, the work IN Hazard is actually going quite well. I say this primarily because we have 2 new investigators who were introduced to us by members! And, as is the case with just about any member referral, they are both solid. One is William Baker, whom I alluded to a few weeks ago. We had a lesson yesterday in his car with Sis. Causey (his fellowshipper) and Pres. Phillips. The reason we were in his car was because it was cold outside, and we didn't want to drive up the hill to our Church building. This lesson took place right after our accident at the bottom of the hill. Well, I guess the Lord had set that one up, didn't He? Anyway, the Spirit was there as we all bore testimony of the Book of Mormon, which he's been reading regularly, and of the Restoration through the Prophet Joseph. I'm thankful that the Lord was able to calm my anxiety enough to be able to teach and testify without a weak or stuttering voice, since such an ordeal like we had would certainly be grounds for extreme nervousness. Our other new investigator is Debbie Combs, a good friend and neighbor of Sis. Wilma Creech, a recent convert. Debbie's mother passed away a couple months ago and she was seeking answers as well as peace. Coincidentally, her mother had been in the Hazard Nursing Home as a roommate to Sis. Billie Phillips, an older member who we visit often. In fact, we gave her mother a blessing just a few days before she died. So, I guess now it's come full circle and we have another appointment with her this week. We were able to answer her questions using the Book of Mormon, and she said at the end of the lesson that she felt more peaceful than she ever has since her mother died.

So, Liz is getting married!? That's really weird when your friends start tying the knot, so to speak. Makes me feel rather old from time to time, but I know I'm not old at all. Glad to hear that Cal is really enjoying Cub Scouts, those were good ol' days that I really miss. Boy, that'll be weird knowing Ellie will be in Kindergarten! Wasn't Caleb just there!? WOW!! So many new things happening, but I have no regrets about being out here to serve the Lord. It's clear that He has wrought mighty changes within all of us in the time I've been away, and pray that it may continue for the better. It has been both a blessing and a learning experience to serve here in Hazard; I have been lucky to teach and get to know some really great people. I look forward to my next assignment with anticipation, as I'm pretty sure this is my last week here. Nonetheless, I still plan on making this week as Spirit-filled as any other. Hope your week holds similar experiences!
Elder Isaac Livingston
P.S. Pray that we get a new car SOON! This area is kinda large..... :)