Monday, November 30, 2015


¿Què pasa calabaza? So I've been out three months now. Like how crazy is that!? Time does seem to move by a little quicker. It didn't even feel like Thanksgiving this past week too. And I get to talk to y'all in 25 days like woah! Sounds like everyone has been having lots of fun with family and friends and such. I'm glad Aunt Melon was able to enjoy her time there too! I loved the pictures at Uncle Eric's and Aunt Lori's.

This has been quite a week. Ok so I guess first, transfers. So my companion was transferred to Ukiah. I got a Nuevo compañero. His name is Elder Castro, and he was actually already in our ward just in a
different area, so I already knew him. He is from New Jersey, but his parents are from Honduras. He's fluent and technically a "native speaker" but was born in NJ. So since I've been in the area longer and
know it better, I'm driver for this transfer which is pretty fun. It's like a 2013 Corolla so that's sick ya? We get around 1100 miles each month, which believe it or not goes super super quick. In our apartment, elder Britt is still here but Elder Coursey came in. Elder Coursey is from Kentucky and has a deep southern accent and reminds me of home.

HAPPY THANKSGIVING Y'ALL. Our Thanksgiving here was pretty fun! We woke up and had service for Sister Stewart (our mission nurse) at 7 am. We set up for what's called the Creche festival this weekend. Creche in French means Nativity, more or less. So the Creche festival is this huge nativity festival at one of our church buildings. There are 300-400 nativities set up in the building and then a performance by and choir and such. It started about 18 years ago and people from everywhere come around to see it. Santa Rosa is starting to get pretty famous for it too! So that festival is this next weekend, Dec 5th and 6th, and were allowed to go if we have investigators come with us. (it
kinda sounds like what Dad was telling me he's participating in coming up) So Thanksgiving morning we setup up like 100 Christmas trees that morning. We were then able to have a turkey bowl with our ward and a couple others. It was fun and a good way to run off stress. Later that day we had two dinners, one with the cousin and another with the English elders that live with us. It was so good, but no momma's cooking ;) Then after the dinners we were allowed to have a zone activity at the church, so we played basketball and volleyball. HAHA President actually showed up and came and played with us too. It was a good day!

The rest of the week was just the norm; planning and contacting. We actually got some pretty cool pictures when we were about finding people.

Sunday, The Freebairn's asked me to come sing in their ward, so I went and sang Come Thou Fount Of Every Blessing (which apparently mom has a recording of now...?) and then actually I had to run back over to our ward and sing with another sister in ours. Our fifth Sunday sacrament is missionary based. We have the Mission Ward Leader lead it and the missionaries give talks and do special musical numbers and such. It was fun and good for all the missionaries to participate.

Starting yesterday, we are starting the Christmas initiative which is centered around "The Savior is Born." Lol I was actually able to see that video at the beginning of November, but I never told anyone 🤗 It's so special and I'll share my thoughts on it throughout the month but I want EVERYONE TO WATCH IT FIRST and share their thoughts with me about it!

Here is the link:

This week's Ponderizing scripture was D&C 11:12-14, which says:

12 And now, verily, verily, I say unto thee, put your trust in that Spirit which leadeth to do good--yea, to do justly, to walk humbly, to judge righteously; and this is my Spirit.

13 Verily, verily, I say unto you, I will impart unto you of my Spirit, which shall enlighten your mind, which shall fill your soul with joy;

14 And then shall ye know, or by this shall you know, all things whatsoever you desire of me, which are pertaining unto things of righteousness, in faith believing in me that you shall receive.

Ok so first I really liked the phrase "put your TRUST in that spirit...." I looked up Trust (or Trust in God) in the bible dictionary and found a scripture in Proverbs 16:20, that basically says that when we trust in the Lord we are happy. There was also a footnote under this scripture that referenced Faith (but I'll come back to that later.) ok then I was curious exactly what it meant by Spirit (in the context of this scripture) and I found something interesting in 1 John 4 that talks about that there's different
spirits that false prophets preach about but that the only true spirit is felt when it is they "confesseth that Jesus Christ cometh in the flesh."  So basically The Spirit Of God does a lot, but it emphasizes
TWO major things in verse 12, that it leadeth to do good and Helps you walk humbly to judge righteously. In verse 13, we find out that when our heart is filled with Joy, it is because God imparts his spirit upon us. AND THEN by that same spirit we shall know all (righteous) things "whatsoever" we desire of him, if we have that FAITH to receive them. There's that faith word again. If we don't have faith that we're going to receive those blessings, then why are we even gonna ask for them?  That's just wasting our time and God's time. That is why Faith is so important and one of the main doctrines of Christ. Without it, we are/have nothing.

Ok I feel like I talk too much sometimes so I'll chill lol. Have a fantastical week and a great start to DECEMBER. Let me know if you have any cool missionary or spiritual experience throughout the week!
I love you!

Con Amor

Elder Joyner

Monday, November 23, 2015

Acción de Gracias [Thanksgiving] (Nov 23, 2015)

Shalom to all! How's everybody been slick doing YEET? Most should be quite happy being off from school because of the day of thanks this week. Haha looks like Elise already celebrated it! Oh you Peruvians! We had our ward thanksgiving party this past Friday and oh I love Spanish parties! The bishop in our ward is so fun and everyone just has a good time!

(YES ALSO HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO GRANDMA TOO! Hope it's another fantastical day filled with happiness and joy and yes.)

As for missionary work, this has been kind of slowish week because it was leading up to finding out transfer info on Saturday. They decided they wanted to change transfers up a little bit this time, so they whole process will be a little different. In the past, the way they've done it is they've just made a pdf of who is going where with which companion and they send it out to the zone leaders to distribute. This time all they told us on Saturday was who was leaving and who was staying. They didn't say where they were going or who was replacing them, but that they are just leaving. Then on Tuesday at the transfer devotional, it is going to be kind of like a sports draft where they will call out a companion and say he is going to this place with this companion. So on Saturday, I found out I'm staying in this area for another transfer, but my companion is leaving. Which means I'll be leading out the area and will get a new companion coming Tuesday! Exciting stuff. So yesterday and today is being spent visiting people my companion wants to see before he leaves. Jolly Good Fun.

It seems like we had loads of possible lessons we could've had this week but the majority of them fell threw. It's okay though. I've come to study and accept that some people may not be ready to hear the
Alex & his cat "friends"
gospel yet, but that God's time is the best time. Although, there is this one couple we found through a less active member that we are co-teaching with some sisters. They are technically the sisters' investigators but the husband wanted us there too, so we come along and help teach. The wife already has a baptismal date set, but the husband is waiting until he is a little more ready. OH ALSO I found out I'm allergic to cats. Haha funny story (that I'll send a picture with). We were at a lesson with this couple and they have these little kittens that like to sit on our lap while we teach. So I grabbed one and started petting it and about 5 minutes in my nose started running and my eyes were watering and ya. I remembered that mom was allergic so I was like hey me too?! So ya good fun. 

Joshua 1:8 is this week's ponderizing scripture, picked by the one and only Cole Joyner.

8 This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.

This scripture is basically talking about the importance of scripture study. Scripture study is crucial in the conversion process and is a huge thing we teach as missionaries. There is no way to gain faith or
a testimony of something if you don't put it to the test and read it. How can somebody say something is wrong or not true or doesn't apply to them if they don't read and pray about it with a sincere heart and real intent? We're promised in this scripture that if we do what the scriptures tell us, that we will prosper and have success. Why would we not want that? We're made a promise that we are going to be successful, if we follow this instruction. It's that simple. Sometimes we try and make living the gospel too hard, but like as it says here that if we live the commandments and what the scriptures tell us, we are going to be blessed.

So for Thanksgiving this week we have some fun plans! We have a service project pretty early in the morning, we're going to go play in the Turkey Bowl near the church, we'll probably try to visit a couple people, and then we have a couple dinner appointments! One with the Freebairns! Should be a good time! Sounds like the FAM is gonna have fun with Melon there!
Santa Rosa Spanish Missionaries
I just wanted to take some time to express my thanks, especially to my family and friends. Since being out here, I have become extremely grateful for everyone and everything in my life. Most importantly, I love and appreciate Mom and Dad and Dayne and Elise and Cole. I love you so very much.

Have a great week y'all!

Con Amor

Elder Joyner

Thursday, November 19, 2015



Alex & Doug Porter
WELL What a week it's been for both me and from what I've heard, everyone back home too! We had stake conference here Saturday and Sunday, and they were reorganizing the stake presidency so we had Elder Smith and Elder Zaballos here for the weekend. It was a good conference! Yesterday, I was able to meet up with Brother Porter since he was in town helping his mom move and such. It was super good to see another Georgian and talk for a little bit! I got a nice surprise package from Alec this week which was super kind treat! I also got a couple letters from Claire and I was told one is on the way from Alexa! It's super encouraging to know I have support from Family and friends back home! I'm trying my best to respond as quick as possible, but forgive me if I'm a little slow sometimes.

Our area covers out to Bodega Bay(the coast) and we go out there to proselyte once a transfer, so on Saturday we were able to go near the beach area! It was soooo super pretty! Maybe it was just that day, but the Pacific Ocean is different from the the Atlantic. I'll send you some pictures from then. Also, today we're going back there to spend P-day there. Of course we can't get in the water, but we're going to spend some time there. I'll try and send more pictures that I get when we go there today.

I was saddened to hear of the events that's happened in Paris this week. We're actually at a dinner and I could hear the news channel from the other room talking about it. It confuses me why people choose
to commit these terrible acts. It honestly doesn't make sense to me. But it isn't our place to judge. That is only God's job, and when we make different judgements like that it shows that were trying to "play God." But no that is not our job. We have to leave that to the all knowing God who knows our true thoughts, acts, and intentions.

I hope Granddaddy is doing better. That's a scary surgery to have! The Santa Rosa South Zone definitely has prayers coming your way!

Lessons have been kind of scarce this week. We're just praying super hard to find people we can teach. We have a couple progressing investigators but it's few and far between. We're still trying hard

This week's ponderizing scripture was D&C 8: 2-4;10.  It says:

"2 Yea, behold, I will tell you in your mind and in your heart, by the Holy Ghost, which shall come upon you and which shall dwell in your heart.

3 Now, behold, this is the spirit of revelation; behold, this is the spirit by which Moses brought the children of Israel through the Red Sea on dry ground.

4 Therefore this is thy gift; apply unto it, and blessed art thou, for it shall deliver you out of the hands of your enemies, when, if it were not so, they would slay you and bring your soul to destruction.

10 Remember that without faith you can do nothing; therefore ask in faith. Trifle not with these things; do not ask for that which you ought not."

This is talking hugely on THE HOLY GHOST. As members of the church, we receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. We receive revelation (or spiritual promptings) through our thoughts and feelings of the heart and mind. It's cool because it's the same spirit that the prophets of old had. It's the same spirit that Moses had when he was leading the people through the Red Sea. Or the same that Noah had when he was commanded to build the ark. WE CAN HAVE THAT. HOW COOL IS THAT?! One
thing I think we tend to forget is that it's a gift! God gives us many gifts or blessings, but this is one of the most amazing ones!! It's a gift, but there are NO REFUNDS and NO EXCHANGES. (And heck why would you want to!?) We're able to have a member of the Godhead with us at all times, but we have to do certain things to allow him to be with us. We have to apply it, like the scripture says. It's not a decoration gift that you get once and then take it home and hang it up on your wall. You take and have it with you always. It can do stuff like, "deliver you out of the hands of your enemies." BUT you have to have faith to make it work. So faith is like the batteries you put in it to make it work. They're more like rechargeable batteries though. The ones that you have to continually keep charged and energized. Dayne mentioned in an email that he's been thinking about and pondering how to discern your thoughts from spiritual promptings. There's this that was given in the MTC by Elder Bednar that helps very well. He says this: "The way to discern spiritual promptings from your
own thoughts? Be a good boy. Be a good girl. Follow the commandments. And QUIT WORRYING ABOUT IT. If you're being a good boy/girl, and following the commandments, then shouldn't all your thoughts be spiritual impressions? Act upon impressions even if you don't know why." But it all goes back to God's will and what he would have happen at that time. Ok sorry I'm done with my spiritual word vomit now.

Cole chose next week's which will be......... Joshua 1:8. Again, I extend the invitation to all not in the Joyner clan to ponderize this scripture, and to email me your thoughts and feelings on it.
Church from the movie "The Birds"

Church from the movie "The Birds"

Transfers are a week from Tuesday, which means we find out about what is happening with the transfers this Saturday. I'm most likely staying here because I'm new, but ya never know! So I'll let ya know about that next Monday. Next week is also my THREE MONTH MARK. WOAH CRAZY.

I LOVE YOU ALL. I love hearing about everyone's lives! Until next week! Stay fresh and stuff

Te Amo

Elder Joyner

Wednesday P-Day (Nov 11, 2015)

Hey-o all! How's the week been? I hope you've all had a spectacular week filled with enriching experiences. First yes, sorry I'm emailing today again. We went to the temple this morning so today is
technically our P-Day. The Oakland temple is AMAZING. ITS SO BEAUTIFUL AND BIG. It is now one of my most favorites. Ahhhhh it was so good. Oh yes mom I got my greenie package too. The Elders in my apartment thought that was kinda funny LOL!
Elder Kimber & Elder Joyner
Alex in Oakland

Oakland Temple

This past week has been a roller coaster but good fun nevertheless. I've been praying for Grandaddy today that his surgery goes/went well and that the recovery is pretty fast too.

Some cool things that happened this week though. We had Zone conference in Petaluma this past Friday. This is where four of the zones in our mission met to have some training from President and his wife, The AP's, and the tech elders. A sister in my zone and I sang "Let Us Oft Speak Kind Words." It was kind of an odd song to do, but President requested it so we did it. Conference was really good and we received some really great instruction and guidance. One super cool thing I learned from that and have been studying is about God's will. We need to embrace whatever it may be. His purpose is to, "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." So in saying this,
everything God gives us is to fulfill this purpose. Everything happens for a reason. We just have to embrace it and trust God. It all comes down to the relationship of love we have between God. If we trust that he loves us and all things are possible through him, why should we worry? It's all gonna turn out ok, if we just keep his commandments and stay strong to him. That is something that is hard for us to accept sometimes but I know that as we pray for strength each and every morning that we can have that power to accept God's will and anything that comes with it. That was just one of the many things I learned last Friday.

Alex's Zone

(Lol also just an add on, President and Sister Wright came and talked in the Spanish ward on Sunday, so Obispo wanted a special musical number so me and the same sister who I sang with at conference sang "Mas Cerca Dios De Ti." So good fun)

I also had my first comp exchange this past week. It was loads of fun. I went with Elder Taylor (the Canadian) and my comp went with Elder Britt. There is this like 6-10 mile path near our complex that we were able to walk yesterday. There are a bunch of homeless people that live along it so we wanted to walk it and see if we could help them out at all. We both kind of realized that if Jesus worked with lepers and different people that most probably wouldn't, that as missionaries should try to reach out to every. Every single person is a child of God, which means we have something in common. We met tons of interesting people. One in particular we met, was this guy who was on the path fixing his bike. We were just walking by asking how his day was and he completely just opened up to us and give us his whole story. Because we just gave him a a smile and were willing just to talk with him made all the difference. It's crazy to think how something so simple can go a long way.

We also had another cool miracle happen along the path. We got to a point in the path where we were trying to decide if we wanted to continue on the path the rest of the way or take a short cut down a busy road to make it to our dinner appointment on time. We just decided to go down the busy road. We started walking and this lady started to honk and wave us down. We went to go see what she wanted and she was actually a less active who wanted to come back. She had said that she was going through some pretty tough times and that she was trying to find something to help and the night before she remembered how much she loved the church when she was young. She also told us that that day she was going to look up the times for church, later that night, but then she saw us and knew it was meant to be. We got her name and number and the English  missionaries are going to back to talk to her tonight. That also goes to show how God puts people in our path that are so ready.

OHHH I ALSO MET UP WITH DAD's COUSIN (my second cousin?) FOR DINNER THIS PAST MONDAY. It was super fun to meet them and spend some time with them. They are the nicest people! We talked about family and I saw some old pictures of Grandaddy and Grandma that I've never seen before. It was fun to connect some of those family dots that I didn't know we're there. We might try to go back and have dinner with them again.

Alex & David Freebairn
Ok this weeks ponderizing scripture was Alma 32:43-44. I didn't have a chance to go as in-depth as I would've liked to but something I really like from it was the fruit reference. Fruit is often referenced in the scriptures in several places, from the tree of life to missionary work in the scriptures, it is mentioned several places. One thing I love about fruit is that it's good for you. It keeps your body healthy. This fruit, talked about in the scriptures is the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is something so sweet and tasteful for us. It is there waiting for us, but we actually have to go pluck it and partake of it. The effort, like I've said in the past, is on our part. If we don't do anything, how are we supposed to taste of the goodness that's there.

Hey Y'all go out there and have a great week! I love you all! God is the best.

Te Amo

Elder Joyner

Monday, November 2, 2015


¡Wowie wow wow Que una semana! HEY THANKS MOM FOR THOSE SLICK LICKIN PACKAGES. I got them when I got home last Monday from P-day. It was a super nice treat so thank ya! Yes I also got the case the same day and I love it. I got many people jealous because of it. Hahaha! Also, thanks to all the many mails I've gotten over the past couple weeks from different people. I'm trying my hardest to write back as fast as possible. 

This has been a crazy week with lots and lots of ups and downs. I've had some really hip hoppin days and some not so kickin days. This week I had to drop my first investigators and that was hard. It felt like they broke up with me lol. They didn't really say why other than they didn't think they had time. I also talked to a couple bathers (people that just want to debate and not have a conversation) this week too. That stressed/wore me out and just kinda frustrated how some people can be so arrogant. Agh I just went home and felt defeated. Also there were many days where we had lessons and they would cancel last minute. That happened like three or four days in a row though soooooo. ALTHOUGH One super cool thing that happened this week though was that we picked up these two new investigators. They are so ready. They don't drink or smoke or use crude language and they love their family like no other. Yes I'm so so excited for them! We will see what happens with them hopefully soon!  I can definitely see that this will not be an easy journey but, like I've done already, I know that I can fall down on my knees and ask for help from above. Through whatever we may be going through, there is always that help and constant that we can rely on each and every day. 

So Halloween we had to be in by 7 pm. The other guys in our zone wanted to go to the gym in our complex so we went and chilled there for an hourish. We didn't really have many trick or treaters knock on our door. Maybe like two. It was a good rest that night, and then we got an extra hour of sleep because of daylight savings too, which was fresh. I missed watching Halloween and scary movies though! Those are like some of my favorite things to do all year round! 

Dayne I'm very jealous of your little concert with Norm and Frank. You sound like a busy little bee. You asked me about Mexican food I've had. Ummm I've only had a couple meals that were real Mexican food. Paz ole?  I'm not sure how to spell that. Haha it was at a party for a member. I love at every Mexican party they have those blow up things for kids to jump on. At EVERY PARTY. It's super funny. The people we meet are from all over. A lot are From central Mexico but we get everywhere. OH one of the brothers in our bishopric is from LIMA PERU. YEET WHERE ELISE IS YES. I feel like the majority of our lessons happen in English. We do a lot of Spanish street contacting but like lessons are probably 60% Spanish and 40% English. I feel like it's kinda limiting me but also it's helping me become a better missionary. It's interesting.  

Ok so there was a little confusion on the ponderizing scripture this week. Elise picked Ether 12:27 but then I picked Alma 29:1-4, so I'm just gonna give my insights on both. YEET. 

Ether 12:27 says:
"And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them."

I first concluded that God doesn't give us weakness for no reason. We have them to make us stronger. We also have them so that we can become humbled. Then, if we become humbled unto him, we receive grace. 
I was kinda confused exactly what it meant by "grace" so I sought out the answer. In the bible dictionary, lo dice: "Grace is divine help or strength given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ." I was then led to a scripture in 2 Nephi 25:23, lo dice: "...for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." Which means that we have to do every single thing in our power and then we receive that grace. 
Ok so after we are humbled and have faith, he will make "weak things BECOME STRONG." I thought this was funny because it was also the name of one of my EFY companies back in the day. Isn't that so cool though? That as we are humbled and have faith, he will take those weaknesses and make them strengths. I think that is such an incredible blessing that I personally want to have. He will help us with whatever we need as long as we do our part! UGH that's so cool. 

Ok now Alma 29:1-4. This says:
"1 O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!

2 Yea, I would declare unto every soul, as with the voice of thunder, repentance and the plan of redemption, that they should repent and come unto our God, that there might not be more sorrow upon all the face of the earth.

3 But behold, I am a man, and do sin in my wish; for I ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto me.

4 I ought not to harrow up in my desires the firm decree of a just God, for I know that he granteth unto men according to their desire, whether it be unto death or unto life; yea, I know that he allotteth unto men, yea, decreeth unto them decrees which are unalterable, according to their wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction."

So what I did for this one was a little different than what I usually do for these ponderizing scriptures. This time I took the scripture and rephrased it into terms that are a little more understandable and comprehensive. So from this scripture, I wrote that Alma is basically just sitting there thinking to himself, "Wouldn't it be cool if I was an Angel? That I could go and tell people with 'the trump of God' and just let them know they need to repent. I'd tell them with a 'voice of thunder' that if they come unto God, they don't have to be sad and sorrowful. Ah but alas, I'm just a man and I should be happy with the the gifts and blessing that God has given me. He blesses us with things we desire, so it should be good things that will help us grow closer to him." 

Now that's not scripture, or 100% correct, but that's what I got out of it. Especially that we need to count our blessings and not be needful for the things of the world. There's the famous quote that says: "Live in the world, but not of it." That basically means we are living physically on this earth, but that we shouldn't not long or want for things that won't help us in the long run. In the two-ish months I've been out here, I can definitely the see that in the world today. That people are so longing for "things." Everybody wants some"thing." We forget what's really important; relationships with families and friends. That is something I challenge everyone to cherish and look for in their life. As I'm not able to be with family or friends for these next couple months, I'm learning how important and influential each and everyone of you are in my life. I love you and am super grateful for you. 

As for next week, Mom picked Alma 32:42-43 to ponderize. Hey fam, someone should make out a calendar of who picks when so we don't get confused. 

We were in a members house having dinner last night and there was this plaque thing on the wall that said:
Having a place to go is a Home
Having someone to go to is a Family
Having both is a blessing
I really like that a lot. It makes me appreciate all that I have. 

I love you all with all my heart!

Te Amo

Elder Joyner
Study Office

Alex's Desk