Elder O and I

Dated: 4/29/13

Hi Family!!!

How have you all been? I hope everything is going good.

So, this has been a pretty cool week. Nothing too eventful though. So first off, I am so glad to hear that Sheila is doing well. I think that is super cool that they still find a way for her to come to church. It seems like pulling teeth to get people to come to church out here. They don't see the importance of making the sacrifice to come to church. I will probably share Sheila's story with some people sometime. It is really inspirational.

Gretna is a cool town. It is so different then living in a city. The great thing about people out here is they like to cook and they cook very well. I have been loving the food I get to eat out here. There are lot's of mom n' pop restaurants that are very good also. I have also had the best Mexican food ever out here too. Yum!

The people out here are so humble. There are some members that are such good examples of people who put their faith in Christ and as Alma 26:27 states "bear with patience [there] afflictions." It is awesome to be able to be out here and make friendships with such cool people. I have only been here for 6 weeks, but some of the people I feel like I have known them forever. They are just such amazing people!

This isn't a very eventful email, but I will tell you my testimony. As I have been talking to people, and starting to understand different denominations of religions, I realize the gratitude I have for being a member of The CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS. I have the knowledge of the same exact church that Christ established when he was on the earth, and the gospel He established with the Prophets in the scriptures. This is "the way" back to our loving Heavenly Father. It is something that He provides all of us to choose whether we will accept it or reject it. If we accept it and live it to the best of our ability, and I mean our very best, we are promised exaltation if we endure to the end. I know that the young boy named Joseph Smith saw GOD the father and his son JESUS CHRIST in the sacred grove. I try to put myself in his shoes and imagine what it would be like. There is no way someone could deny that experience. He sealed his testimony with his blood. The Church has always faced persecution and difficulty from the world. It will continue to. Satan knows how important this work is. Satan himself has a testimony of the work and of JESUS CHRIST. That is why he does all he can to destroy the kingdom of God. He can not do that though, not if we don't let him. If we will all build on the "rock of our redeemer, whereon if men build they cannot fall" and keep strong in the gospel, strong in faith, and strong in obedience, then God has promised us victory. God will be victorious, we already know that. It is our task to get on his side, on the side of the victorious, and help all we can get there as well because then we will all be able to return to Heavenly Father. I know that is something I want and I want it for others as well. I have already made the decision to get there, now I am going to base my life around that decision. I encourage all to do the same. "If you want the Telestrial kingdom, then do nothing. If you want the Terrestrial kingdom, do something. If you want the Celestial Kingdom, do it all."

Stay strong, go to church, pray every day and night, and read the scriptures. Those are conduits of the spirit. Those are how God will give us answers to questions and how he will teach us Truth.

I love you all.


Elder Joshua R. Spencer

 I got this shirt at the MTC.  P-Day is fun!

We had a venison roast, so we got our hands on a crockpot and cooked it for 12 hours with BQ sauce.  And then we pulled it.  It was so good.


See, the mailbox is empty.  Can you fix that? Look at my face!


Dated:  4/24/13

I write to you family concerning the dealings of God with the people out here in the land of Virginia.

First off, Sorry that I forgot to tell you that my P-day this week would be on Wednesday instead of Monday. it is Transfers week and so they do P-day on Wednesdays on those weeks. I am not getting transferred and neither is Elder O. So the biggest thing this week was we did Exchanges. Now, the District Leader is in a Trio right now. He was a trainer, and he was training a Visa waiter (someone who is waiting for their visa). His name was Elder Hicken. He was really cool. He left for Peru not to long ago. So Elder O and I went up to Lynchburg and did a Blitz (Meaning we were in a trio with the DL). The thing I enjoyed the most about it was I was able to learn how to do Street Contact so much better. Here in Gretna, no one walks on the street, and there are no mall or city areas where there are people. So we went to the city and just went around trying to talk to people. It was a lot of fun. We also met this guy named Tyrone. He just got out of prison. Five years ago, Tyrone was Baptized, then a few weeks later, he ended up shooting a guy in the rear end. So he went to prison. While he was in there he read the Book of Mormon like 4 times. He got out a few months ago so we went to visit him. He has such a great testimony and he is in the process of becoming reactivated into the church. It was fun to meet him and get to know him.

So we learned that our whole district is being changed up. There are 8 missionaries in the district. 4 of them are all getting transferred out. 2 new missionaries are coming in and are going to be trained. So there are 3 out of the 4 companionship's that are going to be training. It's going to be nice not to be the only new guy anymore.

Elder O and I had a pretty fun day yesterday. We went out and worked so hard! Pretty much all of our appointments fell through, so we did a lot of tracting. but we got to talk to a few people. One of the Ladies we ran into was actually a missionary for her church. She was at this house teaching this family because they are investigating her church (I think she was baptist... No surprise there). So when we came, it was interesting. She really tried to tear us down. She wasn't "Bashing" on our religion, she was just bashing on Elder O and mine missionary abilities. She said that we aren't very good at ministering to people. I think she was just trying to get us angry and make us look bad in front of "her investigators." When we would start to bear testimony to her, she would just interrupt us and go off on some tangent. She wasn't acting aggressive, but she was tactfully trying to control the situation. Finally, I went over to the family and asked the mom if she would like a copy of the Book of Mormon. I invited her to read it and to pray about it and we would be by some time to talk to her about it. We left after that and were kind of upset with the whole situation. I learned a lot from it though and I am a much better missionary for it and my testimony is stronger to. I Love having experiences out here on the mission, good and bad because I learn from them so much! O, Also this week, we ran into a lady that is both Methodist and Baptist. I am so glad I grew up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

I love missionary work, as you all know. I hope You all have a great week.

And now, behold, I close mine epistle. I am Elder Spencer, the son of Jed Spencer. (Alma 58:41)



Elder Joshua R. Spencer

So it was Elder O's birthday on Wednesday.  His family sent him brownie mix.  Last night we wanted ice cream so we ran to the store during dinner and got some.  Then we made brownies and had brownie sundaes.  They were so good!

Mom, this is for you.  :D  We also bought some chocolate syrup and well, ya, you see the picture.
Guess what?  I have gained like 5 pounds.  Can't imagine why . . .  


Dated: 4/15/13


This week has been pretty awesome, but hard, but crazy, but great. There is so much to every week it is so hard to remember it all. So I will start with last Tuesday. We went to a members house. His name is Brother Smoot. He is sooo fantastically amazing! (Probably the name, right Shea? ;) ) Anyway, we went to his house, he has a lot of property. A few weeks previous he cut down a tree, and we were going to chop it up. He cut the tree into good sized pieces, then Elder O and I and another member named Brother Jones split the logs with a splitter. A lot of people around here use wood burning stoves to heat their home. It smells good when your walking outside and someone is burning wood. So the reason we were getting wood was for this family, Brother and Sister Campbell. They have had some major health problems, and so we were getting wood for them so they could heat their house. Splitting wood is hard work, but o so fun! When you can split a big log in half with one swing, you feel so manly! It is hard sometimes. There were a few logs that were HUGE. Brother Jones, Elder O, and I all tried to split one of them, and we couldn't. Brother Smoot took one of our splitters, went up, and with 2 swings, split that log right down the center. He then did it to 3 or 4 more logs about the same size. O, did I mention that Brother Smoot is 80! Ya, he is hard worker and he is still really active. He does so much service for other people. He will do anything for anybody and he has an amazing conversion story. So after we split the wood we took it to the Campbell's house and stacked it alongside the house for them. Elder O and I met the Campbells. They asked us for a blessing, so we gave them one. It was a great experience. We got to spend a few hours serving them by getting them wood and then we got to give them a blessing! I love being a missionary! I love it! I get to do stuff like that all the time every day! Serving others bring so much joy!

We have started to do service at the Nursing home near here also. We go and play BINGO with the residents. It's fun. O, we also got to go over to the Campbells house and help them clean it. They had been gone from it for a while, so we helped them clean it up. That was another great service opportunity.

I am not sure if I have mentioned this in my previous letters, but there are 2 cities in my District. Lynchburg and Gretna. Lynchburg is interesting. It is the Buckle of the Bible Belt. It is the Baptist Capital of the world. So down here in Gretna, there are lots of baptists. It makes it hard because everyone believes they are already saved. Prayers are fun with these baptists though. They pray in a very exciting way. A lot of people down here do hold hands during meal prayers also. That has been strange to get used to. The members here are great. Yesterday at church we had 6 less active people come, which was sooo exciting and one of our investigators came as well! The Lord is blessing us for hard work.

I love being a missionary. I love all of you so much! Keep on the path and never get off of it! God wants us to be happy! We are happy when we are on the path.


Elder Spencer

P.S.  Let the Grandmas know I love them and they are fantastically amazing and awesome!

This is me eating a Slaw Dog!  O man they are sooooo good.
Hot dog, ketchup, cole slaw, chili and onions. Soooo goood! 

Elder Oschenbein
This was sent to my companion.  It is so funny!


Dated:  4/8/13

Hello Family!!!!

So, conference was a huge, amazing, great, fantastic, awesome, better then words experience. I feel like the theme for it was "Raising the Bar" and "Member Missionary work." They seemed to really set the standards of the church and they seemed to emphasize the expectations they have of us as Members of Christ's restored church.  It was different then what I am used to. For example, for priesthood session, the priesthood at the branch got together to go out for dinner. There were six of us... I am not used to that. It was a lot of fun though. We went back to the church after to watch Conference. There were a total of eight people there. I am used to a chapel filled to peak capacity including the gym. So that was a little different. But the spirit was the same. O man was the spirit so strong. Just watching the countdown Saturday morning was exciting for me. I had my notes, highlighters, and pens out ready to receive a spiritual dump of information. All of the talks about member missionary work was a huge answer to my prayers. MEMBERS ARE KEY TO MISSIONARY WORK. MISSIONARY WORK IS NOT A MISSIONARY”S RESPONSIBILITY ALONE!!! Wards and Branches around the world need to realize this. Go and read preach my gospel everybody and learn what your role as a member of The Church of JESUS CHRIST of Latter-day Saints is in missionary work. Everyone is a missionary. Members are the Finders, Missionaries are the Teachers. Have the missionaries over for dinner, invite them to teach you a lesson. If you trust them, give them a referral to teach one of your friends. They may ask you to do things, things that might be a little awkward or scary like ask you to invite a non-member over for dinner while the missionaries are there or share a Mormon message to a non-member friend and ask if they would like to learn more, but guess what, Being a missionary is SCARY! It's just as scary for full-time missionaries as it is for members. But that is OK, because the LORD promises us so many times that we can do it with his help so in the end.  W "need not fear".  Preach My Gospel helps us know how to access his help to be a missionary. I loved Elder Nielson's talk about "Catching the Wave." I love the Wave. :D I love Elder Holland’s talk about faith. "Don't start to increase you faith by looking at what you lack in faith." Something I have been learning on a mission is how important it is to not compare yourself to others. Just press forward looking to Christ. Do your best and focus on your effort.

Some days this week have been really hard. But that's OK. I am learning from that also. I keep having the thought though that every returned missionary will say that they loved their mission. I keep thinking, "How did they love their mission when they had days like this?" I realize now that the hard days make you love your mission. Those are the days you grow. Those are the days you go home and fall on your knees and really pray, nearly in tears, to ask God for help. Those are the days that you realize that you need God always and you need his strength because your own is not enough. Those are the days where you realize that you are out on a mission because you Love God and you know that His Gospel is true and the only way back to Heavenly Father. The hard days are the growing days and the days you love are the days you receive blessings because of the faith and hard work that were demonstrated during the hard days. I often think back to what Brother Morriss (A teacher I had at the MTC that I love a ton!) said, "I would give anything to be back in your shoes right now." That really impacted me. I realize I only have 2 years to experience this wonderful time that the Lord has given me. I am going to make the most of it. Elder Anderson in conference said something to the effect that when you are done with the mission, and you have to take off the badge, make sure you print a missionary badge on your heart. Wearing Christ's name on my chest is a sacred privilege that I love and cherish. "I am called of God. My authority is that above kings of this earth. By revelation I have been selected to be a personal representative of the Lord Jesus Christ."-My Missionary Commission by Elder Bruce R. Mconkie

The work is moving forward. It's impossible for anything or anyone to stop it. It's awesome to know that there is a force of 65,000 missionaries moving the work forward around the whole world. I have the great blessing to be a small part of that number. No matter what, as a group and with the Lord, we are all successful in moving the work of the Lord forward.

Some scriptures that I read this week that I really like are found in Enos 1:1-8, 2 Nephi 25:29 and Mosiah 27:14. Those are great faith scripture. I encourage you to read them.

I love you all. Sorry this doesn't have a whole lot of what I did this last week, mostly just thoughts and whatnot. O well, Have a great week, and "Catch the Wave"


Elder Spencer

P.S.  So, just another few things I wanted to share, Gretna VA is actually a place where they film the show "Moonshiners." One of the member.s friend’s dad is one of the characters on the show. So if you want to see what my area is like, maybe watch that show. :D

Here is my happy face for all of you! :D


                            He's Been There Before
                         by Elder Whittle

The alarm bell rings at 6:30, I stumble to my feet I grab my companion’s bedding and pull off his sheets.

A groan fills the room, is it already time to arise? It seems like just a second ago, I was able to shut my eyes. The morning activities follow- study, prayer and such. When it's time to leave the apartment, you feel you haven't accomplished much.

"We have a super day planned," My comp. says with a grin. I lowly utter a faithless breath, "Yeah, if anyone lets us in."

With the word of God and my faithful Schwinn, we ride off in the street prepared to Face another day of humidity and heat. It's 9:30 in the evening, the day is almost through. My companion and I are riding home not accomplishing what we thought to do.

We ride up to the mailbox, hoping to receive a lot, only to look inside and hear my echo reverberate "air Box". We go up to our apartment, the day is now complete. The only thing to show for our work is a case of blistery feet.

It's past 10:30 p.m. My companion is fast asleep. Silence engulfs me all about and I begin to weep. In the midst of sadness, I kneel down to pray. I need to talk to Father, but I'm not sure what to say.

"Oh, Father" I begin, "What happened to us today? I thought we'd teach somebody, but everyone was away. My hands, my aching hands- worn, hurt and beat; If our area was any smaller, we'd have knocked every street"

"Why on missions are the days so much alike? The only difference about today was the flat tire on my bike. Will you send some cooler weather? The heat is killing me. I sweat so bad, it gets in my eyes, it's very hard to see".

"Why do I have to wear a helmet, isn't your protection enough? People always laugh at me, and call me stupid stuff. Please send us investigators so I may give them what they lack. I want to give them Books of Mormon, the weight of them hurts my back".

"And what about my family: They don't have much to say. I'm sick of not hearing from home day after day after day. Oh Father, why am I here? Am I just wasting time? Sometimes I just want to go home, I'm sorry but that's on my mind".

"My companion, Heavenly Father, what are you giving me? The way he rides his bicycle, I don't think he can see. Now you have it, I can't go on, I don't know what to do. That, my Father in Heaven, is the prayer I have for you"

My prayer now finished, I stand up, then jump right into bed. I need my rest for tomorrow we have another long day ahead. Sleep starts to overtake me, I seem to drift away Then it seems a vision takes me to another time in another day.

I'm standing alone on the hill. The view is very nice. A man walks towards me and says, "My name is Jesus Christ". Tears of joy well up inside, I fall down to His feet "Arise," He states, "Follow me to the shade. You and I need to speak".

My attention's towards my Savior, total and complete. He says, "Your mission is similar of what happened to me. I understand how you feel, I know what you're going through. In fact, it would be fair to say I've felt the same as you".

"I even know how you felt when no one listened to you. At times I felt not quite sure what else I could do. I know you don't like to ride a bicycle, for you a car would be sweet. Just remember the donkey I rode wasn't equipped with 21 speeds"

"I understand you don't like sweating, in fact it's something you hate. I remember when I sweat blood from ev’ry pore, oh the agony was great! I see you don't like your companion- you'd rather have someone else-I once had a companion named Judas who sold my life for wealth"

"It's hard to wear a helmet and have people make fun of you. I remember when they put thorns on my head and called me King of the Jews. So you feel burdened down by the weight of your pack. I recall how heavy the cross was when they slammed it on my back"

"Your hands hurt from tracting and knocking on doors all day. I guess when they pounded nails into mine, I ached in a similar way. It's hard not to hear from home when your family's not there to see.  I lost communication on the cross and cried, "Father, why hast Thou forsaken me?"

"We have a lot in common, but there's a difference between us you see. I endured to the end and finished my mission, so follow and do like me". He embraced me with His arms and His light filled me with His love. With tears in my eyes I watched as He went back to the Father above.

I stood with awe and wonder when a beep rang in my head. I listened and heard the alarm, then realized I was in my bed. My companion let out a groan, "6:30 already, no way!" I sat up and said, "Come on, I'll even carry your scriptures today!"

No matter what we go through, when we feel we can't take more, Just stop and think about Jesus Christ, He's been there before!


Dated:  4/1/13


Well, like you all have noticed, I have been gone a little over a month! UGH, it's already going by to fast. Only 23 left :*(. O well, I will make the most of all of it. So first off, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THE EASTER CANDY!!! That was so much fun! Ill send you a few pictures. The candy has been a big help this week. Also, Daniel, Thank you so much for the Flashlight and the letter. It was so good to hear from you! Dad, we went and talked to a guy out here, and he took us into his garage out back. We walked in and he had a 50's Chevy truck and a 50's coup. It had a Straight 8 engine in it. They were in really good condition. They both run and he takes them to car shows. It made me think of you dad, you would probably love to see them.

So, a cool thing my mission is doing, We are calling it "Resurrection Sunday." We have several goals that every companionship in the mission is going to try to do. One of them is every day at 1:00, every companionship in the mission will get on their knees and pray for everyone in the mission to achieve the main goal of "Resurrection Sunday." The goal we are going for is 400 investigators to church over the entire month. Now, that is quite a good goal for the mission. It is stretching us, but it is also achievable. I am looking forward to seeing us achieve it.

So this week was a little difficult. Elder O and I did a lot of tracting. Tracting is what most people look at missionary work as. It is a form of missionary work, but it is the least effective. 1/1000 doors knocked on will result in a baptism. We try to get referals from members as much as we can.  Elder O and I are going to be working hard over the next few weeks to really build up our relationship with the ward. Doing this will cause us to have better results in missionary work. Elder O and I did work very hard this last week though. We did our best and tried our hardest. We placed probably close to 15 copies of The Book of Mormon. We have a good group of people that are potential investigators (meaning that they showed some interest in our message and we are going to go over sometime and try to teach them a lesson). So we are hoping this next week will result a lot more of teaching lessons and less tracting. Tracting is fun, don't get me wrong, it is just not as productive as other things are.

We tried to follow up with a lot of people this week, but with it being Easter, and people not wanting to commit to return appointments, we weren't able to actually teach very many of our investigators at all.

Churck on Easter Sunday was awesome! Revelation though Church attendance is sweet! The ward here is great. A lot of the people are so nice and caring, especially for the missionaries. It has been fun to get to know people in the ward. Every Sunday we go to Sister Convington house for dinner and we teach them a lesson. Easter Sunday feast over there was great. We had potato salad, mac 'n' cheese, Deviled eggs, and Ham with a pineapple glaze all homemade. For dessert we had peach cobbler and ice cream. It was so yummy! We often get invited over to the Smoot's house for dinner every week as well. They are a great couple in the ward.

We were tracting the other day, and we ran into a guy cleaning his truck. He had a neck brace on, so we asked him why he had it on. He said that a month ago, he had been driving home late at night, fell asleep at the wheel and crashed. His car flipped over. He said he crawled out of this truck and got to the closest house, also, he did this with 3 vertebrata broken in his neck! He said that he knew something had saved his life that day. We gave him a BofM and invited him to learn more. We are going to go try to catch him and teach him a lesson. It's a cool story.

Another guy we ran into was also outside cleaning his car. It was a Cobra and very nice. He had music playing all loud, and we walked up to talk to him. He turned it down and we shared with him The Book of Mormon. He is a christian, Baptist, and so he believes in Christ and the Atonement and everything. I bore testimony of Christ and how he Lives again today. He asked me, "What do you mean he lives today? Like, you mean he lives in your heart, right?" I told him something like, No, Christ Lives, he has a body of Flesh and Bone, and He is alive today. He is an actual living tangible person. He was confounded. He was all like "man, you got me thinking now." I think we peaked his curiosity in what we believe. We were able to give him a BofM and we are going to go back and try to teach him as well.

Well, I love all of you, I look forward to getting letters from y'all this week.


Elder Spencer


I am happy with this.  :D

We made tacos and had a huge feast! YUM!

Elder O mixing the deer meat.

Making the deer burgers.

Yum, the one on the right is a little overdone.  I am still learning to use this new grill of mine. :D