Monday, October 26, 2015

WEEK TWO YEET (Oct. 26, 2015)

YO YO WASS GOIN ON?! Another week down. Not too much has happened this week. Pretty much the same ole. Obispo (the bishop) approached me on Wednesday and was like "how Come you sang in the English was before the Spanish? So you're gonna sing in the Spanish on Sunday. Go." So
yesterday I sang Creo en Cristo, or I believe in Christ. So that was fun. I love Obispo!! He had us over for dinner yesterday too and he's such a cool guy. Our stake presidency is about to be reorganized and we're hoping that he will be the new stake president. That would be kickin! Hey I heard North Oconee had an awesome performance at One Act and pulled in a best actor, all star cast, best ensemble, and third place! Heck ya! Titan Pride! Super proud of y'all and all they work you're still doing back east. Hey S/O to Cole with that bomb solo in the primary program yesterday too! That was such a kickin chicken! Cole sounds like a busy bee these days with youth activities and
campouts and school and such. Keep killin it bud. We have the trunk or treat this next Friday so that should be fun. On Halloween we have to be inside by 8. That'll be fun I guess.

I had a pretty cool experience this week. We were going to visit two of our investigators on like Wednesday or Thursday. We go up to their door and knock to see if anyone is home. No one answers, so we decide to go tract and find people for a little then come back. We then proceed to do that and return to the house. We knock again, and there is no answer. We start to walk away when we both feel at the same time we need to go talk to their neighbor. We go and knock on their door and ask them if there's anything we can do for them. They kinda say no very rudely and left. We started to walk out of the neighborhood and we kinda saddened because we hadn't seen anyone that night. Just as we were about to leave the complex, we see our investigator's car pull in. We stop and talk and schedule an appointment for a lesson. They seemed more open this time when we talked to them though. I know that was a miracle made happen by the power of the Holy Ghost and its promptings.

The scripture Elise picked for the fam to "ponderize" this week was Enos 1:26-27. Enos is one of my favorite books so it was a jolly good time studying this one. It says,

"26 And I saw that I must soon go down to my grave, having been wrought upon by the power of God that I must preach and prophesy unto this people, and declare the word according to the truth which is in Christ. And I have declared it in all my days, and have rejoiced in it above that of the world.

27 And I soon go to the place of my rest, which is with my Redeemer; for I know that in him I shall rest. And I rejoice in the day when my mortal shall put on immortality, and shall stand before him; then shall I see his face with pleasure, and he will say unto me: Come unto me, ye blessed, there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my Father. Amen."

The first thing that stuck out to me was the word "rest." Rest in this sense is the peace felt after death. But I then asked myself, how do we obtain it? I was them led to Alma 12:34, which says: "whosoever
repenteth... Shall enter into my rest." So we need to repent and be clean to feel rest after this life. I also found a scripture in Moroni 7:3 that says we can also obtain this rest by being "peaceable followers of Christ." Everywhere I found the word rest, I found some reference to the word paradise (or paradise of God){lol Dwayne thought the same thing}. It kinda talks about a paradise later in 27 of Enos saying: "there is a place prepared for you in the mansions of my father."
I was then led to a scripture in D&C 72:4 which says: "He who's is faithful and wise... Inherit the mansions prepared for him of my father."
The way I thought about this was, that God has this big mansion up in heaven. He is up there preparing a room for each of us. He (with the help of angels) are probably like making the beds and vacuuming and getting ready for us. We can choose to accept that room if we repent and choose to be peaceable followers of Jesus Christ. It's something that I take much comfort and peace in. That as we do the things we know we should, we shouldn't have to worry about what's ahead. God loves us and is waiting and wanting for us to return back to him. That's something I've grown a testimony of while being out here, that there is a place after this life. That God has prepared a place for us in heaven where we can be happy and live with our families eternally. That's such an exciting thing to think about. We shouldn't spend our lives worrying or being sad when we know there is much great to come!

The scripture I've chosen this week is..........

ALMA 29:1-4. Good Luck!

And if anyone not of the Joyner clan wants to ponderize their thoughts on this scripture and email it to me, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

I miss and love you. My prayers include each and everyone of you! You are all blessings in my life! Stay Safe. Stay Strong.

Te Amo,
Elder Joyner

North and South Santa Rosa Zones

Questions from Mom:
1.  How many people are in your ward? Prolly like 150, but only like 70 come
2.  Do you teach a class during church on Sunday's? Hahahahahha no
3.  How often have you had dinner appts this week? Lots. We usually have one every night. It's not always Mexican food but it's good.
4.  How warm/ cool is it there?  Do you notice a difference from home being more North? Dang it's cool in the morning and at night. Sometimes it can get hotter in the day but it cools down. OH it is
nothing like Georgia heat lol
5.  How is your understanding of Spanish?  Can you communicate with others? I'm starting to understand a titch better. Respond is slow but steady.
6.  Tell us what your daily schedule is like?  What time do you leave the house and what time do you come in at night?  Everyday except Pday and Sunday we have four hours of studies (Personal, comp, language, and 12 week) then depending on if we have set lessons, or service, we either go find or visit people. The ward is really pushing getting less actives to come back to church. Then a dinner at 5. Then we usually have lessons at night, because that's when everyone is home. Then back to the appt at 9-9:30ish. Pretty legit.
7.  What are your ward boundaries like?  How far do you travel? Umm well were the only Spanish unit in the whole stake so the missionaries in our ward cover all of Santa Rosa. We cover like the bottom left corner. The corner of the 12 and 110 I think?
8.  How many miles a month do you get to travel in your car? 1100
9.  What do you have to pay for each month?  How much does the mission give you? We get $150 on our card each month. It rolls over. I'm not sure what we have to pay at the end of the month....?
10.  Do you sleep on the top or bottom bunk bed? Top! It's not too bad though.

Monday, October 19, 2015


HOLA ALL!! Wow. So I'm in California. HOW CRAZY IS THAT. Heck I love it here. It was kind 
Last MTC District Picture
of a quick rough transition but I give it another week or two and I'll get into it. This might be a longer email but I'm just gonna give you the rundown of what's happened this past week. So last Tuesday I woke up at 3:30am to leave to get to the travel office by 4:30pm. From there, we took a bus and train to SLC. Haha so I get to baggage and I'm weighing my bags and I look over and who do I see walking towards me but the one and only Dwayne. Hahaha wasn't expecting that one. We chatted for a couple minutes while I was waiting for the rest of my travel group to get ready. I gave one last hug goodbye and headed off toward my gate. It was such a nice surprise to see mi Hermano one last time before heading off. I got to the gate and called Mi mama and Mi papa (and Dwayne). That was a right good chat we had there. It made me happy to be able to hear some familiar voices. Sorry Cole that you were in school :/ But hey only two more months and we can Skype and stuff. My travel group included all English missionaries that had only been in the MTC for 12 days, so I didn't know anyone. I was able to make some friends on the short hour and 15 minute flight. We arrived and were greeted by President and Sister Wright and the AP's. It was a treat to see them there to greet us. They gave us a sack lunch as we drove back to the Mission office. We were then greeted by all the missionaries in the mission and the "greenies" ran through the victory tunnel they made lol. All the missionaries were there because it was the transfer devotional. That was led by President. The rest of the day was training for the newbies. Then after dinner, we spent our first night in a Comfort Inn. Lol I was not expecting that. They say it's the best sleep you'll get your entire mission, and I do believe that because I slept like a baby.

The next day we had breakfast at the hotel and then the AP's took us back to the mission office for more training. We got our iPad's too! This is the one I keep the whole time, (although momma I think imma need a different case because this is kinda like the same one we got in the MTC.) So something cool about our iPads our here is that we are able to look at emails anytime throughout the week. We can't respond until Monday, but if you send me anything via email know that I can read it. After that, we were paired up with our companions. Sooooooo my companion is..............

ELDER KIMBER. He is from Elk Ridge, Utah and has been out a little over a year. He's a really good guy and I'm lucky to have him as my trainer. He's a gifted teacher too. He is our District Leader too. So here's some mission slang in case I ever use it. Elder Kimber is my Dad because he's my trainer. Whatever companion I get after him will be my Mom because he's my follow up trainer. My grandfather is Elder Kimber's trainer and my Grandmother is Elder Kimber's follow up trainer. So we can trace a whole generation back if we wanted. It's a good time. 

Our area is the Santa Rosa South area. We are in the Laguna ward, which actually just moved up from a branch to a ward. It is the biggest Spanish unit in Northern California. Our bishop is Obispo Escamilla. He's really cool and speaks super fast Spanish. 
(For mail and stuff:)

3840 Martina Ave #103 
Santa Rosa, CA

We went back to the apartment, where we live with the Zone Leaders. Their names are Elder Taylor and Elder Britt. Taylor is from Canada and is quite a character, and Britt is from Texas and reminds me of Sue's boyfriend from The Middle. Haha they're funny guys and I like them! Our apartment is super nice. We have two bunk beds in one room, and then two office rooms with bathrooms, and a kitchen area. 

One crazy thing that happened was that I walked into A BAPTISM. On my first weekend! That's crazy and usually doesn't happen. Their names are Brenda and Citlali. They're 14-15 age. Their mom is a less-active and their Uncle is pretty active. We went to visit them every night up until Saturday which was the Baptism. Elder Checketts, who was the Elder that was with Elder Kimber before me, came from Fairfield and did the baptisms.  It was a super surreal experience. They were confirmed the next day in church. And another crazy thing is that we have this other investigator who, the only thing he needed, was to see what a baptism was like and then he would be. He came and then after the baptism said he's ready and wants to be in there one of these Saturday's. So maybe this next week we could have another date set. Wowie wow. 

Another crazy thing happened too. So in Elder Taylor and Britt's ward, there was a lady that passed away and someone there found out I sing, so I sang at the funeral. Ha I sang My Kindness Shall Not Depart From Thee by Rob Gardner. It was a small service and the lady's relatives were like Native American so that was interesting. And then the lady who accompanied me was like "Hey come sing in our ward tomorrow too". So I sang in the English ward at 9 before our ward at 11am. Haha I've been here less than a week and I've sang twice already. 

1 Corthinians 2:9 was the scripture for the fam to ponderize this week. It says:
"But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of Man, the things which God has prepared for them that love him."
I've actually studied lots on this one but I just wanna a quick slick titch. If you keep reading in verse 10 it says: "But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." That prompted me to disect verse 9 and "searcheth all things" in the scripture. One in particular that I liked was the word prepared. The word prepared led me to "blessings" in the topical guide, which then referred me to Proverbs 10:6 which says:"Blessings are upon the head of the just: but violence covereth the mouth of the wicked." In order to receive these blessings we must be just. Then I wondered how do we become "just?" I was led to Heb 10:38 and then Acts 7:52. The scripture in Acts scripture says "shewed before the coming of the just one," or Jesus. In order to be just, we must try to act and become like Christ and follow his teachings through faith, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. I was finally led to a scripture in D&C 76:69 that tied it all together. Lo dice: "These are they who are just men made perfect through Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, who wrought out this perfect atonement through the shedding of his own blood." Through Christ and his atonement, we can repent and become more like him daily. 

Whoops. Sorry for that little rant. I got excited and just kinda blurted my words out. THE SCRIPTURES ARE SO COOL. It amazes me how detailed everything is. The church and scriptures have to be true because of how detailed they are. No man could "create" or "make up" such a thing. Wow it's so amazing. 

Like I said last week, if you have any pictures that you would like to email, please do! I want to show all my friends and even possibly use them in lessons and such. 

I'm so grateful for all the love and support I get daily. I continually pray for each and everyone of you. Thank you all so so much. God Bless y'all. Till next week!

Te Amo,
Elder Joyner

Monday, October 12, 2015

ONE DAY MORE (Oct 12, 2015)

Hola Peoples!!!!!!!!! How is everyone!? I'm writing today because I leave for Cali tomorrow! I'm finishing up some last minute packing this morning and then I have class the rest of the day. It's been an exciting last week also. I WAS FINALLY ABLE TO GET MY CAST OFF! It feels so liberating and free! I also washed my hands for a solid 13 minutes. Good good fun! We also had In-Field orientation on Thursday. That was a treat! I actually really enjoyed it! At the end they do like a little production of like how to work with members and such, and they were asking for volunteers to help and my companion's hand shot up.... So we got to be a part of that little show. It was something else lol. Good fun though!!!

I've already said goodbye to so many friends here already and it's quite sad. Elder Randle and I keep saying that we didn't think it would be this hard to leave the MTC. I've been able to make so many friendships that it's gonna be hard to say goodbye to. I've learned to love these people and ya wow. I am excited to get to SR to start the work. It's all kind of a surreal experience. It will be another hard transition but I think I'm ready. 

He Ain't Heavy - He's My Brother
I appreciate all the love and support from Family, Friends, and other loved ones. It's such a blessing to be here and serving the Lord. I know there is no better place I could be right now. I can't wait to see what Heavenly Father has in store for me these next two years! It's going to be quite a journey. I'm sure it will go by so quickly, just as these past six weeks have. I have been uplifted physically, mentally, and (most important) spiritually. I've had so many experiences already that will shape my mission into such an uplifting experience. 

Sorry this is a short-er letter. I usually have more time before P-day to write it. Also, sorry I don't think I'll have time to respond to every email today, but I LOVE YOU! I'll try to write back as soon as I can. OH ALSO, I'll have a new address which I'll get sometime this week which I will forward on. 

I just want to leave you with my testimony. I know that my Lord and Savior lived on this earth. He walked and preached unto the nations. He suffered for our sins so that we may become clean to return to the presence of our God. He endured the agonizing pain of Gethsemane for us. Not for him, but for us. God sent his only begotten Son because He loves us. Oh how He loves us. I tremble to know that for me Jesus was crucified. That for me a sinner, he suffered, bled and died. Missionary work will not be easy, because Gethsemane wasn't easy. I testify with all my being that the Gospel of Jesus Christ has been restored through the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know he saw what he said he did. If that wasn't true, my life and every action in it would be a lie. I can testify that the Book Of Mormon was translated and published through the power of God. The Book of Mormon is another testament of Jesus Christ. It directly correlates with the Bible and all of its teachings. Through the Book of Mormon, we can receive happiness and joy like no other. I challenge all those who have not read from this Book to do so, and then to pray to know if it's true. God will let you know. I bear witness of these things. 

I have so much love for you all! Tomorrow starts another new adventure! Thank you. Stay fresh, but keep it wrinkled. 

Te Amo,

Elder Joyner

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Last Week in MTC (Oct 6, 2015)

HOLA! ¿Què pasa? Lo que un semana loco! Seriamente! FIRST OFF, CONFERENCE WAS MUY FANTASTICO! LIKE, QUE HECK!? I dunno if it was just because I'm a set-apart missionary that inspiration came more thoroughly or what. This is one of the first times I sat down for every single session and took notes on every single session, and oh was it so enriching and uplifting! I definitely noticed many themes and topics throughout the whole thing. I think it's amazing that the speakers don't know what each other are going to talk about yet their talks are very similar. This past Tuesday, we had a devotional from Claudio R. M. Costa, who actually spoke in conference too! So that's crazy sauce! It was kinda hard/scary to watch President Monson struggle during his talk on Sunday morning. A Hermana, in my district who I was sitting by, started crying and got overwhelmed because it was super hard to watch the prophet struggle. It's crazy to think that he is 89 and still serving with all he has. Fierce prayers are going to him. One of my favorite talks was by Elder Holland on Mothers. Needless to say Elder Holland dropped a bomb of a talk on us. I got very emotional when listening to it because I had been thinking of Mom, Grandmas, and all other moms I had been around. Especially Mom. All her heart has been towards her children in all she does and she is a messianic witness to me. It is something I wish I could repay her for but that is an indescribable love and devotion. I love you Mom. I love you Dad. I am 100% certain I would not be here without the both of you.

Thursday night was an interesting show?! Haha oh it just adds to the experience! Good fun! Improving it is always fun too!!!

HAPPY BIRTHDAY THIS PAST WEEK ELISE! Hope you had un fascistico tiempo para su cumpleaños! Te Amo mucho!

SOOO MY CAST. Is still on I was supposed to get it off last Friday,  but it didn't happen. I showed up the doctors office, here at the CCM, and they said they gave away my appointment to someone else. So then I waited around to try and get in, and once I finally got in they said they weren't able to take off my cast here, even though I asked them three weeks ago if they could and they said yes. So I had to schedule an appointment with the orthopedic who put it on. The only
problem is he wasn't in the office that day, or this weekend. So I had to wait to schedule an appointment until Tuesday (today). I have an appointment at 2 lol! So hopefully all will go well! EEEK

Every Time they have conference (at the CCM), they always do a devotional with a special guest. On Sunday, they got VOCAL POINT to do a devotional. Vocal Point is BYU's a cappella group that was on the sing off the same year as Pentatonix. Now they were no Pentatonix, but they still were pretty kickin! My favorite song they did was Nearer My God To Thee. It's on YouTube if you wanna see it! It most definitely invited the spirit and ended the spiritual weekend with a bang!

Sister Bills and I got to perform in the prelude before conference on the Saturday afternoon session. It was in front of all the missionaries here, so roughly 2000 people. It 'twas pretty sick!!!

Oh lol I forgot to tell ya, I got my flight plans last Friday because I LEAVE IN A WEEK!!
So I have to be down at the travel office with all my bags at 4:35 am next Tuesday, where we will then headed down to SLC. My flight is at 9:55 and it is on Delta. (My flight number is 1082 Mom) So after I get through security, I should have time to use that calling card you got me. I'm guessing around 8:30ish just FYI. Wowie that's crazy to think I've been here for six weeks already. It's
kinda hard to believe. I'm super ready (nervous) to go love and serve the people of Santa Rosa!!! Holy cow I'm so ready. I still have so much to learn but I'm ready to get started. Now don't get me wrong, I have absolutely adored my time here! It's been one of the most amazing experiences that is simply indescribable. I love my teachers and all that they teach me about the gospel and the language, but most importantly about life. They've come to become my friends and mentors. 

Alex's MTC District by Map
Also MY DISTRICT! Like holy cow I love them. We've all grown so close in such a short time. It's gonna be pretty hard leaving them. It's different because we've all been through this challenging, difficult,
rewarding, spiritually uplifting experience together. I'm glad to know each one of them and am confident they will be extraordinary missionaries.

This week I just want to testify to y'all about the power of the atonement. Sometimes in class we have these super deep doctrine discussions and one of them this week was about the atonement. I was
impressed by these two quotes:
"By repenting, we let God enter our lives. He is ready and willing to take away our sins, but won't do that against our will."
"A saint is a sinner who keeps on trying."
I marvel at the love that our Heavenly Father and Jesus the Christ offer us daily. I think it's sad that there are so many people who don't see the love and grace they offer us daily. I promise as we utilize the atonement that they offer us that we can become better and grow closer towards him. This is something I've seen present in my life as I encounter my trials and experiences. I testify of the
truthfulness of the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I know this will all my might and will tell anyone and everyone of how true it is. I am going to exalt all my efforts to let everyone I encounter know of
this. He lives.

I'm grateful for the support and love I feel all around. Thank you for everything. Stay fresh, but keep it wrinkled!

Te Amo,

Elder Joyner

Alex & Sis. Bills (from Dayne's Nauvoo Mission) performing for entire MTC

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Two Weeks Left - Cast Off This Week (September 29, 2015)

HOLA FAMILIA. It has been another thrilling (about the same) week in el CCM. It has been filled with much Spanish learning, many uplifting spiritual experiences, and an occasional brother appearance. HAHA YES. I SAW DWAYNE YET AGAIN. AND THIS TIME I GOT A PICTURE. YEET. SO THAT WAS GOOD TIMES YES. Ahhhhh thank you again for the many many snacks and things this week also. Aunt Julie, my room has feel in love with those grapes. They are magically delicious! Mom and Dayne also have me set on some healthier food until like next January so thank you!!!
Alex & Dayne (as an investigator)
This week the district, who was here when we got here, left. It's super quiet and weird without them. BUT WE GET A NEW DISTRICT WEDNESDAY WHOOP WHOOP. Gon' whip these newbies into shape. Elder Randall and Elder Bjorling are the new zone leaders so that's exciting.

I'm almost done with the CCM. We get our official travel plans Friday! These next two weeks will prolly fly by super quick. Hermana King, in my district, has to stay an extra two weeks after we leave  because she is starting a new medication for something. She's pretty bummed about it and heck I would be too. That's 8 long weeks!!! Keep her in your prayers.

Grandma and Papa got a new house?!? How exciting!!' I wish I could go down and visit it!!



So Sister Bills and I auditioned our piece on Thursday, and THEY LOVED IT! Soooo we are singing prelude to the 2:00 conference session for the whole MTC. That's quite exciting I think!!! We're singing an arrangement of "Be Still, My Soul." It's pretty kickin chickin!! I'll try and record that possibly.

Speaking of conference, I'm so super excited for this weekend. What a blessing it is to hear the words of living prophets. I encourage you all to take notes and write down spiritual impressions and reflect and pray on those. I promise if you go into conference with questions, and you have an open heart and are willing to receive any answer that the lord gives you, you will be blessed beyond compare.

GOODNESS I LOVE THE TEMPLE. Every Tuesday morning, we have the opportunity to to attend a session and it always rejuvenates me. Gah I love the spirit that is felt in the house of the Lord.

MTC District
We were able to watch Elder Scott's funeral yesterday too. It was such a spiritual experience to see. Although it was a funeral, I was as spiritually uplifted as in any regular devotional. I'm thankful for
the way LDS funerals are conducted and presented. It was more of a celebration than being super sorrowful. The music was also SUPER FANTASTIC. The last song was "Come Thou Fount," and wowie was it powerful. If you can, look it up! It's very touching.

Our Sunday devotional was led by Stephen B. Allen, who is the guy who headed up the "Homefront Campaign," which are all the old Church TV spots. At the end of every commercial, there was a clever inspirational catch line. I just wanted to share a couple that impressed me:
* When everything says you can't, believe in the part of you that says you can
* It's not who you aren't but who you are. And being yourself is being great
* Sometimes the most important thing you can share is yourself
* It's critically important you love yourself as you love God
* Sometimes it's all about spending time in the right place and right moment
* It's sometimes life's small moments that are the best. Don't let that magic pass you by
* The people in your heart can't see what's in your heart. Let them know it everyday
* Sharing; It's the icing on the cake.
* If you think childish arguments don't hurt a companionship, don't kid yourself
* Family: isn't it about, time
* Whatever you be in life, just be your best

Yaaaaa I feel like I've been here for forever and I'm super ready to get out into the field.  I'm ready to start the work but at the same time I feel I have so much to learn. I'm all trusting in the lord and know he prepares those who serve him. I would like to leave you all with my testimony.
Alex & Tanner Giddens

I know that this church is true. I know Jesus is the Christ and that he suffered and grieved for our sins. He suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane so that we may be cleansed of our sins and feel free. I
know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God in the latter days. I testify he saw God the Father and his Son in the Sacred Grove. I testify and know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and it is another testament of Jesus Christ and his divinity. I encourage all those who haven't discovered the spirit and power that that book testifies of.

I love and appreciate you. Thanks for for everything.

¡Yo se que vive mi señor!

Te Amo,

Elder Joyner