Dated:  3/25/13

Hi Y'all,

So, this last  week has been pretty awesome. Elder Ochsenbein and I were able to find seven new investigators this week. Three of them have committed to baptism and are on date to be baptized. Now, we just have to see if they keep their commitments. All of those new investigators we have only taught one lesson to. So I am really eager to do and do follow up lessons and see if they are keeping commitments.

So I will try to give as much detail as possible on the last few days.
Monday-18th: It was our p-day. We pretty much did p-day things. We went and bought food. My companion likes that I like to cook. I like it too. :D We taught a lesson to a man named Jimmy. He is about 83 and he listened to our lesson and accepted a BofM. We committed him to read, and I am looking forward to seeing if he reads.

Tuesday-19th: It seems like this day was so long ago. We went out and worked. We Taught a couple named James and Ivy. They are like Jimmy. They accepted a BofM and agreed to read it and to pray about it. When we invited them to be baptized, they said they already had.... Everyone has already been baptized, so I am learning how to help people understand that we ask them to be baptized again so they can make convents with God. Those covenants are what make baptism important.

Wednesday-20th: We had district meeting this day. We went up to Lynchburg and went to lunch at a place called "Cook-Out." It was pretty good. Then we went back to the church and had our meeting. It was fun and spiritual. It was nice to see missionaries. Gretna is a country town. Not a ton of people, and everything is really spread out. Going to Lynchburg was strange because it was an actual city. Random fact, Lynchburg has a college called Liberty University. It was started by a Major Baptist Preacher down here years ago. At this college they have a requirement that you to take 3 hours of Anti-Mormon classes. So, Lynchburg is an area that takes a lot of faith and hard work. But I am down in Gretna. We also taught some less-active members and we invited them to come back to church. They did come on Sunday, so that was great. We also had a non-member there, and she sat in on the lesson. We invited her to be baptized and she accepted. It is fantastic!

Thursday-21st: This day we did a good amount of tracting. It was FREEZING that day. The humidity here makes it so that almost no matter how many layers you have on, you are still cold. Its great to be working and freezing and knowing that your serving God. I love it.

Friday-22nd: We had a branch social. It was a lot of fun. Not many people came, but the food was great. We played games after, one of which was "see how many marshmallows you can put in your mouth." Hehe, that was was a lot of fun. I was able to put fifteen regular sized mallows into my mouth. it was hard though, cuz I would laugh and they would all almost come out. It was a lot of fun. The members here are great.

Saturday-23rd: Another day of work. We did tracting and teaching. We visited with a man, a member, that hasn't been to church because of his health. He has a sad but incredible story. He was in a accident down in Florida years back, and it really messed up his health. He cant do much now as far as work so they are living on their savings. They are having a hard time because of a lot of people taking advantage of them. One of which was this guys brother. It's sad, but he was telling us that the way he has gotten though it all was his knowledge and application of the Atonement. He prays everyday to ask God to help him forgive those that have wronged him. He is a great man with a great heart. There was another guy we met that day that we sat down and talked with. He is a non-member, but he also has a good heart. Although, in our speaking with him, he told us how he had grown 300lbs of tobacco back in 98' and is still using it to make his own cigarettes. But he told us his relationship with Christ and how he tries to be a good man. He once overheard at a restaurant, the waitress that was serving him, how her family was struggling a lot financially. So he left her a $500 dollar tip, with her name on it, so it was hers. He said he waited a few weeks to go back, and when he did, she saw him, ran up to him, gave him a hug, and told him that her parents were able to buy a much needed washer for Christmas. He has a really good heart but he is not interested in the Gospel.... Yet....

Sunday-24th: On Sunday, Elder Ochsenbein and I spoke in Sacrament meeting. I spoke on the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion. It was a 20 minute talk. It was an alright talk, I wasn't as prepared as I wanted to be, but the great thing about the spirit is that it can teach you when people are boring or aren't sharing a good lesson. The spirit is the real teacher. (John 14:26) Also, it started to snow a little here (the people here freak out at snow, probably because they don't know how to drive in it) and so the rest of the meetings were canceled on Sunday.

Some random facts about the mission. Our mission has the largest fleet of cars out of any mission, and we are getting more. The roads here are kind of crazy. None of them are straight, and there is little or no shoulder.

So something that I am learning this week: I am starting to realize one of the great blessing of a mission. That is love for my family. I liked that quote you shared with me mom about a missionary is someone who leaves their family for 2 years so that others can be with theirs for eternity. I have been praying a lot for you back home. I am realizing the love I have for all of you, for you Mom, and Dad, Daniel and Rachel. Also my love for my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. Don't get me wrong, I loved you all before, but you start to realize just how important family is while you are on the mission. My love for all of you has grown a lot.

Well, with this I will close my epistle, I know that God lives. I know He loves us. He is watching out for each of us every second of every day. He is aware of our situations and is willing and eager to help us. Living the Gospel of Christ is how we can access His help. I know that to be true.

I love you all, and I hope you are all doing well. Keep going strong!


Elder Joshua R. Spencer

SLAWDOG! This was really good!

Our Front Room/Study Room 

My Desk

The Kitchen with Elder O


Dated: 3/18/13

Howdy Y'all!

So my p-days are on Mondays. There is so much to email you about so I'll start with as early as I can.

Tuesday this week our district woke up at 3:00 a.m. to go to the airport. O man was that tough. I am so glad I got to talk to you mom. Sorry to have woken you up. Sorry I wasn't able to call you when I got to Detroit. We had so little time to get to our next plane. The flight was great. It was weird and cool to be out in the real world as a representative of Jesus Christ. It still is cool. I love it. What an honor and a privilege to be able to do this marvelous work. We arrived on Tuesday and were greeted by President and Sister Pitt and the assistants and some of the zone leaders. I love President and Sister Pitt. They are so amazing! I cant even describe it in words. They radiate Love and kindness. They are so spiritual and smart about the scriptures. They are both just so fantastic and I love them both sooooo much! We went to the mission office and had an orientation. Then we went to the Mission home and had Dinner. It was so awesome to have real non-MTC food. President gave me and another elder an assignment to eat the remaining cake after dinner. It was so delicious!

Wednesday we had interviews and were instructed by the Assistants. We got to hear some converts stories and they were very inspiring. At the end of the day, they took us to a mall area and told us to go and give out some pass along cards, but we couldn't proselyte because i guess we aren't supposed to do that there. It was difficult and fun but awkward.

Thursday we had transfers. Beforehand, we were at the mission home (that is where we had been sleeping for the past few nights) and we finished breakfast and were waiting for everyone to be ready for a quick devotional. For some reason, somehow, we all (we all being all the elders and sisters that were just came out to WVCM, there are 20 of us, biggest group yet) gathered in the front room and started singing hymns. It was so fun, and no one told us to do it, we just all wanted to. It was cool. So at transfers meeting I got assigned to labor in Gretna Virginia. Its at the edge of the mission, and is a 5 hour drive from Charleston. So Thursday was a day of much driving. I got to Gretna and met my trainer. Elder Ochsenbein (to help you out it is pronounced oxen-bein) He is great. He has been out 10 months and I am his first son (trainee).

Friday we worked. It was great. We went and knocked on some doors, taught a lesson to an investigator named Ed. That was cool. It was funny because at the end of the lesson, we looked on his wall and he had 2 pictures of the D.C. Temple on his wall. We asked him about it and he just said he saw them at a garage sale and thought they were cool, so he bought them. He was glad we told them what they were. The work here in Gretna is kind of slow right now for various reasons. We are working hard to pick it back up. It's great though.

Saturday came around. This was a cool day and I will tell you why. ELDER OAKS (you know his position), ELDER HALSTROME (presidency of seventy), Bishop COSSCE (presiding bishop bishopric I think that is how you spell it) and ELDER LANCING (of the seventy) came to the WVCM! We woke up at 2:00 and drove 5 hours to go hear them speak to us. We got to shake their hands and everything. It was SOOO awesome. Elder Oaks is so funny in person. He is a lot different than in conference. After he talked to us, we drove back to Gretna. 5 more hours of driving. SO this week has been a lot of waking up early and traveling. It was so great though. Something I liked from his talk went something like this. It was a story from some missionaries in Europe somewhere where there was a really hard mission. What kept them going though was something their President said. He said something along the lines of "Whenever you knock on a door, and the person slams it in your face, someone gets baptized in Mexico." It was pretty funny

Sunday was a great day too. They always are. Elder Ochsenbein and I got to bless the sacrament. We are in a branch of about 60 people. It is so different. But at the same time it is the same spirit, same gospel, and same doctrine. We taught the Gospel Doctrine Class. That was also very fun. I am really getting a lot less nervous to be in front of people.

Mom, dont freak out at this, I am doing great. Now with that prelude I'll get on with something that has really increased my testimony. At the MTC, I got sick with a cold. It was pretty terrible, but I prayed for strength, and endured the work, and I was able to have a great MTC experience. Now, I was all better by the time I got here to Charleston, but on Friday, I got sick again with another cold. Thats ok though, because I get to experience great miracles and I get to exercise faith. I am Praying for strength and I am receiving it, and I am being able to work harder then I think I have ever before and I feel great about it. Also, I am getting better really fast. I know that Christ will strengthen us when we are keeping the commandments and acting in faith.

Something else that I would like to share, Yesterday, we had a member come up to us and tell us that Sister Hooper left us some food in the fridge, so we went and got it and took it home. Later we were at another members house who has some Less-active family members and she gave us 2 dozen eggs from her chickens. Then At our dinner appointment that night, The family Sent us home with some food. I am so grateful for this.  I can feel the love the Lord has for me because of the great blessing of others serving us. I cant really describe the feeling, but I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for the food that we have received.

Something that President Pitt shared with us that really touched me that I would also like to share. He was talking about how Heavenly Father is our father. He gave me a new perspective about it. He said something along the line's of "Heavenly Father is our father, so he does fatherly things. In the Pre-earth life he did things with you that you enjoyed. He probably passed a football with you, Played with you, Sat with you, Talked with you, Cared for you, Was interested in you, taught you, helped you and loved you." That really hit me, He is our Father, and he Does Love us. He is our family. He wants us to return to live with him so that we can continue to live together forever. I don't know if this makes total sense but It helped me understand a little more the love He has for us.

I hope this all makes sense. I am trying to type very fast, because I don't have much time.

O, one more funny story. So people down here have the southern accent. The other night, I was saying my personal prayer before going to bed. I realized that as I was praying in my mind, it was in a southern accent. I didn't even mean to do that but it just happened. It was funny.

This place is great! I love missionary work. This isn't my mission or my work. It Christ's Mission, Christ's Work. I am just here to play a part, a role, in this great and marvelous work. I know that this work is for a reason, and that the Gospel is the only way we can return to live in the presence with Heavenly Father and Partake of Eternal Happiness and Joy.

Something that I keep thinking about is how great this work is. Something I am going to always try to remember, is that no matter what kind of success I am having in an area, the church as a whole is having success. All 60,000+ missionaries in the work and 14 million members in the world are on the same team, doing the same work, just in different parts. Together we are successful. Now success isn't determined on numbers, rather on effort.

I love you all, and am praying for each of you. Thanks for everything!


Elder Spencer


Dated 3/7/13

Part 1:
So, really quick, After you guys dropped me off, I was freaking out, in a good  way. SO many missionaries! I loved it. I got my badge, and I love that too. O man, I love all the missionaries. I still will see someone with a badge and say, "O man, its a missionary!!!" then I remember that I am one too. I am trying to type fast cuz I don’t have much time. I met my district, and it was really awkward, but we are now all best friends. They are like my brothers and sisters. My companion and I got called as Zone Leaders. Its fun, we get to go and check on our district every night. There are so many cool people here. I have seen Elder Archuletta, Elder Gordan, Elder Messer, Elder Hulet. NO time to take pictures. Sorry I have had a hard time writing. I barley have enough time to write in my journal. For the past 3 days I have only had time to write like one line. For example. a few night ago all I wrote was "great day full of many miracles." its go go go! I’ll probably email again later today.

Part 2:
Hello, so this will be my first official email to you guys. I’ll try to go over everything that has happened. So my district consists of Elder Stechnij (DL), Elder Poni, Elder Marshall, Elder Julian, Elder Folkman, Elder Morse and Elder Thueson (thew-e-son). The sisters are Sister Estrada (CS), Sister Martin (CS), Sister Wray and Sister Rogers. My comp and I became the Zone Leaders on Sunday. The Devotional was alright on sunday, we had the Temple President of the Provo Temple speak to us. He talked about some deep stuff. Elder Marshall went home on tuesday morning. We were all very sad to see him go. He just had some family matters to attend to. We were able to give him a blessing. Elder Morse, Elder Stechnij, Elder Thueson and I participated in it. Its a lot of fun being the Zone Leaders. We get to meet different districts and they all respect us so much. Teaching is a blast. We are teaching a Progressing investigator named Robert, he is a 65 year old. He was very boring at first but it is sooooo cool to see him start to feel the spirit and read the BofM. It's changing his life. We Taught a volunteer named Carlos. That was also very cool. He committed to Baptism on the first lesson, and to a date. The Doctrine is so cool. I am learning why we do what we do in the church. We don’t just read the BofM to feel the spirit and receive revelation, We don’t just go to church to take the sacrament or to learn, we don’t just Pray to Pray. We do all those things because that is what we need to do to get back to Heavenly Father. Christ came down to the earth to teach us the Gospel. The gospel teaching us what we need to do, the steps we need to take to get back to Live with Heavenly Father. That is my purpose as a missionary. To help people see that if they do these things they will return to heavenly father. So far, that has helped so much in teaching. If people see the BIG picture, they understand why they need to be baptized, to go to church, to pray. All those things make it so we can return to God. Its great. It has helped me learn how to teach simply. I have grown so much.

Elder Thueson and I and the Coordinating sisters (CS) (They are the equivalent to the ZL's but they are over the sisters and we are over the Elders)  had the duty of meeting the new Missionaries yesterday in their classroom. We went in and talked with them. They asked how long we have been here and we told them a week. They all were freaking out saying it seemed like we had been here forever, we looked so grown up and mature. It was funny because that is exactly how all of us felt when our ZL and CS came and talked to us. It really is a Time Capsule.
Sister Rogers has been having some health issues, so her mission is delayed at least 2 weeks. It really makes me sad. She has such a sweet spirit and a great testimony. Being a ZL is also so fun because we get to serve people. I have the opportunity to help other people all I can and I love doing that. Elder Thueson and I gave her a blessing on monday. He anointed and I sealed. I was nervous because it was spur of the moment, but I went to God. When I gave the blessing of Comfort, Words didn’t come into my head, I started talking and words just came out. It was a very sweet blessing that I know was from God. I was just the mouth.

My Roommates are Elder Stechnij and Elder Poni then my companion. All the Elders are going to WV and the Sisters are going to Calgary Canada. I do leave on the 12 of this month.
I love the MTC. The spirit is here, and it is so fun. Gym time is fun to. In High School you know how you have the few nice people that will include everyone in the games and is just nice to everyone? Well that is what gym time is, but everyone is that nice person. Its pretty great. I am not sure when I am going to be able to email again. Thank Kayla for the Cookies. they were amazing. I went and passed them out to my zone when we went and visited them in the evening and they were a big hit. Thanks for the brownies and the letters.

Our teachers are amazing. Our district has been though a lot. With elder Marshall going home and Sister Rogers having a hard time, it has been hard on all of us. We are family here. We are strong and have a great relationship with each other. I love Everything about his missionary work. I love the study, I love the spirit, I love the nervousness, I love the trust I need to put in God. He is here, He is helping, He is guiding us. TTYL

Elder Spencer

Also, The only thing I don’t like is the food. Its not bad, but it really doesn’t do well on the body. You eat breakfast, and you still feel full, in a bad way, at lunch. Ugg. My favorite thing so far was probably the cordon bleu we had the day we got here.

Classroom. (Left Marshall, Morse, Folkman, Jullian)

The Elders in the District

My Comp and the Coordinating Sisters


Date: 2/27/13

So, how was the drive home?  When you left, I was just pulled into the work.  It really has been Go Go Go!  Not much time to think.  I am doing well, kind of overwhelmed with everything.  So much to do and I don’t know how it is going to get done.  It’s 10:10 so this will be a short letter.  There’s so much to say.

They pulled us into a room with a bunch of Elders and Sisters.  They had “investigators” that we were to teach as one huge class.  It was all over the place.  People were trying to teach doctrine so complicated.  I feel so inadequate to do this work because it is such an awesome message we share.  I know that God will help me.  I have my testimony and a good basis of how to teach.

My comp, Elder Theuson, is great.  We are getting along well.  The transition is strange.  Anyway, hope you are all good.  Use  Stay strong, you’ll be in my prayers.

     Elder Spencer


 The big day had finally arrived!  Josh was up early and it was time to see if everything would fit in the suitcases.  Luckily it did!  We all kind of hung around and watched him, helping out here and there.  And then it was time to finalize everything and head out the door.  I think one of the hardest things for Josh to do was to erase and disable his phone.  His lifeline was gone!  Wow!  This was really happening.

  On the way to Provo, we stopped at Grandma Spencer’s for one more hug.  I think Josh was realizing that saying “Good-bye” was going to be a lot harder than he expected it to be.  We had a nice little visit with Grandma and then headed to Provo.  Josh wanted to eat at the Red Lobster and of course, we were going to do whatever Josh wanted.  Lunch was fun, but emotional.  The reality of being separated for two years was starting to sink in.

Josh’s allotted drop off time was 2:00.  We had a little bit of extra time, so we headed to the Provo Temple and took a few last pictures.  The hubbub around the MTC and the temple was pretty amazing.  There was a long line of cars waiting to enter the MTC grounds.  All too soon, it was time to get in that long line.  Eventually, we made it to the front of the line and were directed to a spot to pull over.  We had Josh sitting in the middle so no one could grab him before we were ready.  Reluctantly, we climbed out of the car and an Elder came over and introduced himself.   He helped get Josh’s luggage out of the car as we did a couple of rounds of hugs.  And then, it was time to go.  I told that Elder to take good care of Josh, and he was led away.

It was a really amazing thing to see all of those missionaries surrounding the MTC.  What an incredible army they are, and what a special place it must be for them to make their final preparations to serve the Lord by preaching his gospel.  It was very hard saying “Good-bye” to Josh, but knowing how excited he was and how excited I am for him to have this amazing experience, made it a little easier.   I know that the Lord will bless him and watch over him.   


Josh’s last few days were spent finishing up odds and ends, and spending time with the people who mean the most to him.  Monday, he was able to spend a lot of time with his special friends.  Not many of the gang are left, however, as one by one they have been leaving for missions over the last year.  They have all been great in supporting and helping each other prepare for their missions.  Josh has been so blessed to have such awesome friends.

Tuesday was a bit more frantic.  Josh spent time going over the checklist, gathering up the few miscellaneous items he still needed, getting his missionary haircut, and providing one last lesson for Mom on managing the blog.  Tuesday evening was very special as the Stake Presidency and Bishop came to our home to set Josh apart as a missionary.   The spirit was very strong.  The blessing Josh received was beautiful and powerful and when it was over, he was officially a missionary!  You could really tell he was a missionary when you looked at him.  It was as if his countenance had changed!  He was so happy and excited to finally be a missionary.  

Later that evening we paid a visit to Grandma Christensen for one more hug.  And finally, Josh’s best friend came over and they spent some time together.