Friday, December 30, 2011

Aaron's email December 27, 2011

Dear Family,
It was truly wonderful to hear all of your voices on Christmas, it was a blessing being able to talk to all. I am sad that i missed grandma and grandpa Anderson but please send them my love. The time i will be able to watch that "We bought a zoo" movie will be when i get back, that's probably not church approved media for the mission. But i really like that bravery quote, it touched my heart and I will work on becoming more brave daily. Like you said, when meeting people that's all it takes, 20 seconds to share the gospel and it can change their lives. I truly experienced that with our experience with Korina this past week.
I have been able to meet a few of our investigators and they are wonderful people, Herbert is a great man and is a part-member family. He knows a lot about the gospel and has a few concerns that we are working with him on. James is 13 and is a rambunctious youth, great young man and he loves to read. I am also still meeting many members of the wards up here, Christmas was a hectic day but i look forward to this coming Sunday and to continue to meet the members. My companion and I will also be giving talks in one of the wards this Sunday as well!
I can testify to you of the power of prayer. I'd like to share President Monson's quote from the December Ensign about prayer but before that I know that God hears and answers our prayers. Being in a new area, not necessarily knowing the people or the area, prayer is the biggest tool that i have and it is communication with our Father in Heaven. He loves us and when we communicate openly and honestly(now communication entitles the wonderful principle of listening) we can receive strength and answers to our heartfelt prayers. Which brings me now to that wonderful story of the man who prayed for his son who had been lost in the woods for two days and he was led literally to the location of his son. President Monson has said to "those within the sound of my voice who are struggling with challenges and difficulties large and small, prayer is the provider of spiritual strength; it is the passport to peace (i really enjoy that phrase, take some time to ponder that this week) Prayer is the means by which we approach our Father in Heaven who loves us. Speak to him in prayer and then listen for the answer. Miracles are wrought through prayer". I can testify of the truthfulness of the power of prayer and of the words of President Monson. They are modern scripture and are for our profit and learning and will bring us closer to our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Also ponder the significance of the word that we say at the end of our prayers, "amen". As defined in the Bible Dictionary it means: firm, true. The word is used to denote acceptance or truthfulness. Amen was the proper response of a person to whom an oath was administered. That last sentence has great significance in relation to the sacrament. When we accept that oath, that renewal of that covenant, we promise to keep those covenants and those promises.
I love each of you and thank you for your support and your kindness and it was great to hear from you and know that i know that Christ lives, He is our Savior and i again promise you that as you pray, the Lord will put those individuals into your hearts, minds and paths that He wants you to bring to the gospel in some way. This is the Lords work, and I am truly blessed to be able to be in the service of the Lord. I thank you again for everything that you have done for me in my life, i owe who i have become to each of you and to your examples for me. Know that I love you and the Lord loves you, that He is always there, He is always listening. May we each "cleave unto God as [He] cleaveth unto you"(Jacob 6). He will never forsake you. You are His children. I continue to keep each of you in my prayers.
Elder Aaron Jordan Lloyd

Monday, December 26, 2011

Christmas phone call from Aaron

We spoke with Aaron yesterday for about an hour. He was in high spirits and his voice was full of joy and gratitude. In attendance on the call were: Shauna, Rick, Adam, Anna, Nolie, Ashley, Grandma & Grandpa Lloyd and Shai Haws. We had a fun conversation, getting each other up to date on on his life and ours. He was just transferred this past week to Poway, an area near Rancho Santa Fe. He and his companion are Zone Leaders responsible for 11 other Missionary Companionship's. It was comforting to all of us to hear his voice. This marks about 6 months that Aaron has been in the mission field. Aaron challenged all of us to share the Gospel this coming year and garnered a commitment from each of us. We look forward to his next call on Mothers Day 2012.

Email From the Stapley Family on Christmas Eve

December 24, 2011
Just a quick word and photo to let you know we sure enjoyed having your son in our home tonight to share the Christmas spirit.  He is a wonderful young man who represents your families well.  And assuming the fruit does not fall far from the tree, I can only imagine how wonderful your families are!
Thanks for raising such a terrific priesthood holder and hard worker.  You have much to be proud of.  He’s such a good missionary, and everyone in both the Penasquitos 1st and 3rd wards loves him!  Both wards fight over having them over for dinner, and we were lucky enough to have them tonight.  What a treat it was for us.
Shelley and Del Stapley
San Diego, CA

Friday, December 23, 2011

Aaron's email December 20, 2011

Dearest Family,

Merry Christmas!! I am looking forward to talking to you on Sunday and I will most likely be calling sometime in the afternoon after church, I got word of transfers today and Dad was right, I will be packing up today and meeting my new companion tomorrow morning. Yes it is indeed bittersweet leaving Alpine and the people that have touched my heart, the Ward was wonderful and it truly was a blessing to be able to work and labor in this portion of the Lord's vineyard. I know and feel at peace, and have received comfort from the spirit that this is the Lord's will and He is sending me where I am needed to be with a companion whom He has chosen. I know that this is His work and I have such a testimony of missionary work and of this incredible time. Being able to train Elder McGee was an incredible experience, I certainly learned more myself than I probably taught him but he truly helped me to grow and helped me to reach and become more fully the missionary the Lord knows that I can be. Alpine is in wonderfully capable hands, he is an incredible missionary and knows his purpose, his drive and diligence and determination are unstoppable, I know that through his work, he will see many miracles.

That head was a sheep's head and yes that was the brain that I was holding and I certainly ate them, we also had the experience of eating cows head just a few weeks ago and it is an interesting thing to eat, pretty tasty.

That fireside looks like it was a great experience and we have something similar to those in our mission monthly, they are the Mission President's firesides where recent converts stand and bear their testimonies and tell their stories and there is musical numbers all throughout. It's a neat experience.

I hope that you are having a wonderful time in STG, the weather in Alpine is about the same as where you are. I don't know what time my new ward is at on Sunday, I will be finding out tomorrow so I cannot give a for sure time yet, but it will certainly be in the afternoon.

Mom, I know that you wanted a memory for Christmas so I will include here, this may be the bulk of the letter this week as most of what will be said we will talk about on Sunday.

Dear Mom,
     As I was pondering about a memory that I could share with you this Christmas season, I honestly could not decide, for you and I have had many lasting memories and many wonderful experiences together. As my mind began to wander and play back the wonderful times that we've shared I drifted to a not to far distant memory of St George and of the wonderfully, time consuming task of putting together a puzzle that was of old town St George. I recall that puzzle being on our kitchen table for many months, even through the move to the River Crest home (I apologize if the development is wrong, but the one by STG golf club). I remember the times that we spent on that puzzle, analyzing piece by piece, which one fits where, which shade of blue to put where for the sky, and the green of the grass and trees. We had many a conversation while putting that puzzle together, some short, others longer and deeper. Just as we put that puzzle together piece by piece, we grew our relationship more and more with each piece that was laid. Those heart to heart, mother to son conversations about life and school and troubles and worries stand out to me greatly. For you are always there, always willing to listen, curious about what my young teenage life is like. Little did I realize that you too had once been a teenage and know how life can be sometimes, looking back those conversations helped me through those times of middle school and high school. Along with always being there for me when I needed you, this past week on my mission has certainly been a reminder of that as I was bed-ridden for a couple of days with a cold. I certainly thought of those times when I was sick in bed and you knew exactly what to do, and what would work for aiding me back to health. Many may say that comes from being a mother. I personally believe it's a little bit more than that. Our Heavenly Father, knowing that one of his sons would go through those times in his life that he would need a bit more help physically and spiritually to be able to get through it. Yes God's son, knows exactly the pain that I went through and the Atonement is there for each of us, I believe that Heavenly Father picked one of His elect to bless my life and to take care of me and to lift and support me and that I was sent specifically to you because He knows my needs and He knows that you, as my mother, are able to fulfill those needs through your great love, kindness, tender care and motivation. The words of the primary hymn ring true "Mother, I love you. Mother, I do. Father in Heaven has sent me to you. When I am near you, I love to hear you singing so softly that you love me too". I hope that this Christmas season brings happiness and joy into your life as much as you have brought so much happiness and joy into my own. I am truly blessed to be your son; I thank our Father in Heaven daily that you had the love and the room enough in your heart to accept me and to have me be sealed to you for eternity. I know that our Family is Eternal and that God's purposes are not always immediate or obvious but they too, are eternal. I love you Mom.

My closing thought comes from our beloved prophet, President Thomas S. Monson "Think to thank. In these words are the finest capsule course for a happy marriage, a formula for enduring friendships, and a pattern for personal happiness"

I look forward to speaking to you on this up and coming Christmas day and again I leave you with my witness that Christ Lives, that He was sent to us from our Father in Heaven as a gift for He loves each of us greatly and that this season may we remember the gift of Christ and keep Him in the forefront of our celebrations. I love each of you very dearly.

Elder Aaron Jordan Lloyd

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Email from Aaron on December 13, 2011

Dear Family,

It's wonderful to hear from you and those pictures of Nolie's party look like they were a blast and a half.  Nolie looked like she really enjoyed herself and her birthday cake as well. I hope that you all get the letter I sent last week, I included the memory card and a letter to Ashley so hopefully it finds its way to you all soon. I thank you in advance for the package, and for whatever you have sent, I am truly grateful and thankful for it. We will see with transfers being 3 days before Christmas with what will happen there, I know that if I do stay in Alpine, families have welcomed us and signed up to have us over for Christmas eve and Christmas day, the Alpine ward is wonderful, I am humbled and blessed to be able to serve here. I think that those missionaries would love to come over to the house, even if it's not on Christmas day. And would it be OK with you if Shai were to come over on Christmas day during our phone call? I did find out that Skype will not be available for Christmas this year, as we are not allowed to use member's computers, but we will be calling using our phone so there will certainly be a phone call, what time will everyone be available? I could call anytime during that day; just let me know what time works best for you Utah time and California time.
 The ward Christmas party sounds like it was a great time as well, I am sorry that the food wasn't super delicious though. Our ward Christmas party here was a great experience as well. I'll talk about that in a minute. I have full faith in both of you with your new diets and I wish you well!
This past week I am sad to report that it finally happened, it was bound to and I was awaiting the inevitable, I got sick. I thought it was strep at first but it turned out just a sore throat and congestion and a bit of a fever, pretty good cold if you ask me, it hit me pretty hard and put me out of commission for a day, but I am on the road to recovery and only have a bit of a cough and continued congestion. I have stocked up on vitamin C and airborne and have decongestants at the ready so no need to fret. This is where the Christmas party comes in, I was supposed to do a musical number for the program, but I was in the thick of sickness and could barely talk, let alone sing, so Elder McGee helped me out a little bit and we performed together. We were given special ties by one of our investigators' mother on Thanksgiving and we put them to use in a duet. They are very musical ties and we let them show their talents for our musical number, it brought a smile to many a person's face so it was good to see that we were spreading some cheer. My voice is coming back and the ward made me promise to pay them back for not singing to them at the Christmas party so we will be going caroling the next little while to repay them ha-ha.
This past week we had the opportunity to teach Steve, and he is an amazing man, he has committed to work towards the 21 of January to be able to enter into the covenant with our Father in Heaven and has a wonderful spirit about him. He is very knowledgeable in the gospel and has asked "so what do I need to know to get baptized?" He has a bit of a struggle with Joseph Smith and having a modern prophet so we are working with him on that and encouraging him to pray and to read the Book of Mormon for we know that if He does these things and gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon that all other aspects of the gospel will follow.
We have also started to teach a part-member families children Jackson and Stanley, ages 10 and 8. They are extremely active young boys and love sports, their mother is a member and their father is not, he is a very nice man and we are encouraging him to participate in the lessons as well. They are a wonderful family and Jackson and Stanley have many questions about the gospel and want to know about Joseph Smith. Elder McGee are working on making our lessons hands on, as a sit down setting is not the best idea for a 10 and 8 year old, we will be meeting with them tomorrow and we are certainly looking forward to it.
Each day I thoroughly enjoy being nourished by the word of God, feasting upon the words of Christ. I continue to marvel at the example of Nephi and his steadfastness in his faith, he exemplifies many Christ like attributes, especially Charity in 2 Nephi 33:3 and one verse that I will share is verse 6 when Nephi states "I glory in plainness (for the gospel is simple and plain and easy to be understood if we but open our hearts and our ears and minds to understanding and hearken to the spirit); I glory in truth (for that is also the gospel and that is what he taught his people, the doctrine of Christ, the way back to the Father); I glory in my Jesus (I find that simple word 'my' to be extremely powerful in this statement, it proves that Nephi has personally accepted Christ as his Savior and Redeemer, he has felt the healing and strengthening power that comes through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, he has made it personal to him), for he hath redeemed my soul from hell" I love the scriptures with all my heart and I know them to be the word of God, for if we truly "feast upon [them], [they] will tell [us] all things what [we] should do." I know that this is the Lord's work and I am blessed to be able to be in His service. I am out of time and I love each and every one of you dearly and send my thanks and gratitude to you for your thoughts, kind, words and prayers. May we keep the spirit of Christ in this Christmas season is my prayer.

Love, your son,
Elder Aaron Jordan Lloyd

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Email from Aaron on December 6, 2011

Hello Family,                                                                                                  December 6, 2011

It's wonderful to hear from you and to hear about all the adventures that are currently coming your way. We shall see about Christmas coming up, wow it's literally just around the corner, I suppose we should start making plans for that, I know that if Skype is available wherever I'm at, I will be able to use it on Christmas. Let me know what times that you and the family will be available for either a Skype session, or a phone call. Also, transfers are the week before Christmas so that's why I say we shall see. Dad has prophesied that I will be leaving at the end of this transfer and so have many in the Alpine Ward, to that I say " it would be hard but I will go and do the things the Lord commands, I'll go where you want me to go, dear Lord" Elder McGee does receive things from home and I have received a couple packages from Shai along with letters, have you been able to hear from her lately?

I heard that some people that I knew were in San Diego, the sister just couldn't remember their names haha, that's great the Stovens came and experienced the Mormon Battalion, it is truly a wonderful place. That sister that talked to them is Sister Kennington, she is an amazing missionary, she provided a true example to our district and works very hard every minute of every day. I was blessed to be able to serve with her. I know that things may be smaller and the tree may not be gigantic, but as long as we try to keep the spirit of the season, size does not apply. I love this time of year, not only are the leaves changing here in Alpine, but the people are changing as well, the feeling in the air has changed and the world is becoming more focused on this season and many on giving. Being able to remember the wonderful gift that our loving Father in Heaven has given to us, a Savior, a Redeemer, an example, and a perfect Son. This is truly the ultimate gift, the greatest gift, that which is the cause of this season and of this feeling, He is the reason for the season. Joy to the world, the Lord is come, let earth receive her king! Let every heart, prepare Him room, are just a few words that echo in my mind as I go through each day toward the wonderful holiday in which we celebrate the Savior's birth. May we all keep the spirit of Christ, in Christmas.
The ward party sounds like it will be a great time, seize those opportunities to meet and greet, as you said, welcoming new members and those who may not be members will remember your countenance. I recall a phrase that mom shared with me years ago "people may not always remember what you say, but they will remember how you make them feel", even in a quick minute we can show our love for others and for the Savior by letting our lights shine, and I know that you will be able to do so:)

I will certainly have to read revelations. I wish Dad a safe trip to STG!

This past Monday and into today we had the opportunity to have MTE, or a missionary training exchange, and this time around, I was given the opportunity to be a "coach" to be able to go with a companionship and to be able to see how they work and help them apply the principles that we have learned from President Clayton and from the Assistants to the President. This MTE's focus was on the principle and doctrine of planning and how it applies every minute of every day. Pertaining to this doctrine of planning, our loving Father in Heaven had a plan for each of us; in fact it started with a vision, which is found in Moses 1:39, then he set goals and laid this plan, He created everything spiritually before it was created physically. President Clayton related this to something I believe Dad can relate to, He was able to design his own home, this process took He and Sister Clayton two years, President literally was living in the house mentally, working out every detail in his mind, of where light switches would be, how wide the staircase would be, and so on. He started with a vision of what his perfect house was to be, then he set blue prints, then he lived in the house mentally. Now relate this to our Father in Heaven's plan. He most certainly worked out every detail in His plan before He put it into action. This life is like taking a river trip, we may have a map or even a guide to get us through (now think of this as its own doctrinal story, that guide or map is found within the scriptures, I wish I had to talk more about it, but ponder that), but our vision is limited to what's around the bend. We may have an idea, but we don't know completely what will be there. Each bend we come around we can see ahead, but only to the next corner, we may encounter rough waters. All the while Heavenly Father can see the whole river until it flows into the ocean, He knows what's ahead, He sees the big picture. May we each take time to step back and catch this vision, to see this wonderful big picture. I love this work and I love the plan that Heavenly Father has laid before us, though our vision may be limited, He knows what lies ahead and as we put our trust in Him we can make it through rough waters and I know that this plan is possible because He sent His Only Begotten Son into this world for each of us. I know this gospel is true and I love being in the service of the Lord, every day there are opportunities and responsibilities that lie ahead, and I love every minute of it. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity. I love each of you dearly and wish you well and keep you in my prayers

Elder Aaron Jordan Lloyd

Aaron helping put up a Christmas tree

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Aaron's email from November 29, 2011

Dear Family,

Happy late Thanksgiving! Sorry that I missed you last week, I completely understand that things were hectic getting ready to go and having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend. It sounds like you all really had a great time, I'm glad to hear that those who were in attendance enjoyed the food, the family and the fun of the season. As for the “Dixie Crack”, I’m sorry to hear that they didn't venture in, that is one of the funniest things to climb through, but just adventuring and hiking around Dixie mtn is also a very peaceful and serene experience, I'm glad to hear all went well and all is going well in each of your lives.

Thank you so much for your kind words and support and uplifting thoughts, and I promise that I will do all I can, everyday, never say never and never take no for an answer.

I suppose I will let you know how my Thanksgiving went, we were blessed enough to have two dinners, and I have no idea how I packed it all in there, I think I’m finally coming out of my turkey coma though. Our first appointment was out in Jacumba, the farthest east that our area goes and the house that we went to is the farthest east house in the town and the food was delicious and the family is really kind and welcoming. We had pisole, a Mexican soup that Phil, the father made and we also had turkey and all the trimmings. Immediately after that appointment we returned to Alpine for our second dinner appointment, still full mind you, which was at Kevin's house. Kevin is one of our investigators that we are working with and praying to have a baptismal date with the first week of January. It was another delicious meal with amazing company and the spirit of thanksgiving abounded; those who were in attendance were Elder McGee and I, Kevin, his mother and father Peggy and Charlie, and Kevin's daughter Kaylee. It was a wonderful evening and being able to spend the day with these two families was a great experience. Again I honestly don't know how I was able to eat everything that I did, but I am thankful that I was able to :)

I also wanted to thank you for your talks again, I really loved reading and studying them and I am so very grateful and blessed to have wonderful parents who love this gospel and have such firm and steadfast testimonies in it and of the Savior and of His Atoning sacrifice for us. Your testimonies uplift and inspire me and help my own to grow, I thank you for sharing and sending those to me. Romans 5:3-4 from dad's talk stood out to me this past week and mom's pride quote also stood out to me and I am truly grateful for all that you have done for me in my life and have allowed me to have this wonderful experience to serve the Lord.

This past week we heard from our bishop and got to talking about the scriptures, he shared an experience that he had with a passage of scripture that stood out to him in a way that has stood out to him before. He was sitting at his desk and he could hear from his daughter's room the Book of Mormon on CD, and it was telling of the people of Anti-Nephi-Lehi. These people made a covenant with the Lord and to stay true to that covenant, they buried their swords deep in the earth. These swords represented what had separated these people from the lord, and to relate to each of us, we all have our "swords" in each of our lives, whatever it may be; nonetheless it is one that separates us from God and keeps us from partaking of all the blessings that He has in store for us. With Christmas just around the corner, what better gift can we give to the Lord to show to Him that we truly love and accept His Atoning sacrifice and the power of the Atonement into our lives than by burying our individual "swords" deep into the earth and forsaking them in order to partake of the miraculous blessings that He has in store for us.

We have an appointment with Steve this week, whom we were able to teach this past week and his girlfriend, who does not want to get married unless it's forever, was in town and was able to attend and we talked to him about the gospel and how he can personally feel the Atonement in his own life and we look forward to meeting with him this week. He has many questions and desires knowledge and understanding, I know that as we teach, not from our own understanding but by the power of the spirit, he will be able to feel and know for himself, we will be following up with his commitment to read from the Book of Mormon and pray specifically about the message it contains. He is an amazing man and truly has a desire to learn for himself and I know that he will as he seeks this knowledge with a sincere heart. I know that Moroni's promise is true and can be put to the test with this sacred book of scripture. He has asked us to "prove [Him] now herewith" and He will manifest the truth of these things unto us in every aspect of our lives.

I've also found that concerning how the Lord answers our prayers come in many different ways, many times the answer comes from a simple phrase of scripture, many times the answer is not clear or defined but in many cases the answer that we may receive will come in the impression of "ye know what ye must do" 3 Nephi 27:21. The Lord has trusted us with our judgment to exercise our agency and to find out for ourselves, because it is given to us to choose, and we know good from evil. Moroni 7. so many times, the Lord knows that we have a good head on our shoulders and trusts us enough to study it out in our minds and decide for ourselves, we may then take our decision back to Him and verify the truth of our decision.

My scripture of the week comes from Doctrine and Covenants 98:12 "for he will give unto the faithful line upon line, precept upon precept; and I will try you and prove you herewith" and also 2 Nephi 25:13 I may have already shared this but the simple phrase of "my heart doth magnify His holy name" along with quote "the tag doesn't make you a missionary, it's your heart"

I thank you again for everything that you have done and sacrificed for me to be able to serve the Lord, I will go and do with all my heart, might, mind and strength and I love and care deeply for each of you and will continue to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

Elder Aaron Jordan Lloyd