E-Mail on 9/22/14 – Transfers!

So Transfers were last week and I didn’t get a chance to email because of complicated circumstances.  I’m in a “Tripanionship” with Elders Whicker (Miles City, MT) and Esterholdt(Ontario, OR) and they are a blast!  Elder Whicker is a louder personality and is actually finished with his mission next Friday (he’s going home early so that he can go to General Conference with his family).  He reminds me a lot of my friend Sunshine from Camp.  He has a scripture reference for every situation, it’s super funny when he uses them for non-gospel related situations.  Elder Esterholdt is more of the strong silent type.  He’s kinda short but he is like pure muscle because he grew up on a cattle ranch.  He was home-schooled and only has one sibling so it might not be a shock for you to learn that he is really scared to talk to people.  So we work well together because we fill in each others weaknesses.  When we teach it’s like a classical music piece in that I am all the big, loud, Inspiring crescendos and he is the soft, touching, breath-taking decrescendos, and when we aren’t teaching he helps me take stuff more seriously and I help him lighten up a little.  So I think we might be perfect. I’m excited.

Vince

Vince is an Investigator.  He was given to us by the Sisters (Smith and Rousseau) Because he had sat in on some of the lesson with his friend Betsy, who the sisters are teaching.  They gave him to us so that he would felt more special.  He looks like he could kill you.  He is covered in Tattoos and his house is filled with motorcycle and NASCAR stuff, as well as piles of welded scrap metal (his medium of art).  He has made some tough decisions in life that have eventually humbled him and now he has a desire to be baptized.  October 25th.  Keep him in your prayers.

The Carsons

They are just the best.  They are so fun and so sweet and love us so much.  Today we are even going to get ice cream with them because Sister Carson was sad that she didn’t get a dinner slot.  Sister Carson was apparently baptized last November but her husband Tim wasn’t quite sure yet, but through many missionary efforts from family, ward and Elder Esterholdt, he has gained the testimony that he needs.  This Friday he gets wet.  Keep him in your prayers.

The Hernandez Family

So we went to go see if this potential (Jesus H.) had read the BoM.  These potential visits usually stay on the porch with them telling us “I was just too busy,” or “Nah, I’m not really interested,” but this one was different.  We knocked on the door and it was answered by the wife, Maria.  She immediately recognized us as men of god and invited us to come in and sit down.  She then went and got her husband and he looked less than happy to see us, but we talked with him about the BoM for twenty seconds and how it can bless his family and that we would like to come back and talk more about Jesus Christ.  He kinda did the whole “I don’t know we are really busy…” thing but Elder Whicker sat there and kept trying dates until he eventually said yes.  Then we called the entire family over and prayed with them.  I think the Mom is interested and the Dad will be because of the Mom.  Cute Family.  Keep them in your prayers.

Maria, Adrian, and Lorenzo

So we were on exchanges one day and were tracting through a neighborhood and we passed this lady.  We approached her and said “hi” but then she said she doesn’t speak English.  Without missing a beat, Elders Bright and Esterholdt (E. Whicker got exchanged for the day) just started speaking Spanish!!  I DIDN’T KNOW THEY SPOKE SPANISH!!  E.Bright was supposed to serve a Spanish mission and learned how to teach and testify in Spanish, and E. Esterholdt learned it in home-school!!!  So, they gave her a spanish BoM that we just happened to have in our trunk and set a time that we could come back.  When we did come back, a 20 or so year-old answered the door and said his Mom, Maria, wasn’t home and then Elder Whicker asked if he had ever talked to missionaries before.  He said “No, but I need to.”  SO WE GAVE HIM A BOOK TOO!!  SO NOW WE ARE TEACHING A WHOLE FAMILY!!!!  I know little of them.  Keep them in your prayers.

So if you sent me an e-mail and got a 🙂 in reply that means I read it, loved it, and all of your questions will be covered in the group e-mail.

Elder Durham

E-mail from Sister Cutler on 9/15/14

Dear Brother and Sister Durham,

We are happy to report that Elder Durham arrived safely in Wisconsin this afternoon.  He went directly to the mission office where he was oriented by the missionary couples there.  Later, he met his companions at the mission home.  We had dinner together with the assistants, President Cutler interviewed Elder Durham, and then the missionaries left for their area.

Elder Durham will be trained for the next three weeks by Elder Whicker (on the left in the first picture), who was just released from being an assistant to the president.  He is one of the very best elders in our mission.  Elder Whicker finishes his mission and goes home on October 3rd and then Elder Esterholdt will become Elder Durham’s trainer.  Elder Esterholdt is also a very diligent, faithful missionary.  These three elders are serving in the  Elkhorn Ward in southern Wisconsin and they have an exciting baptism coming up on September 26th.  I’ll let Elder Durham tell you more about that when he writes home.

IMG_7443 IMG_7446 IMG_7445

We’re happy to have Elder Durham back in our mission and look forward to working with him!

Sincerely,

Sister Laurie Cutler

E-mail – 8/12/13

Elder Durham and Elder Fluckiger pointing to  West Allis/South Milwaukee

Elder Durham and Elder Fluckiger pointing to West Allis/South Milwaukee

Okay, a lot to tell and I might not cover it all so if any of you have questions mail them in.  We left the MTC at 7:45 pm and were dropped of at a train then we rode to the airport.  I was able to call home (that was a weird experience).  I then got on the plane and we flew to Detroit.  There was a thirteen year-old member next to me and he offered me a headphone to watch the In-flight movie, Iron Man 3, which was sweet of him but silly, because I can’t watch anything (funny side thought to me, TV doesn’t exist anymore.  I didn’t even think about TV and then I remembered they exist only after I finally notice one as I left my hotel room) okay anyway, we flew to Detroit and landed at 5:00am (3:00am MT time) then we waited until 8:30 to board the plane that would land at 8:12.  While we waited I did some contacting and handed out a pass-along card.  When we got to Milwaukee I wanted to call my family again but we got swooped up by the Mission President and his wife.  They took us to a Stake Center where we spent all day there being interviewed and testimony-ed.  Then they took us to a hotel to sleep because we don’t all fit in the mission home.  Then we spent the next day getting talked to about rules n’ stuff and I got my companion Elder Fluckiger (Fluke-Eager).  He’s pretty cool and I like him a lot.  He plays a penny whistle that’s pretty cool.  In fact it makes me happy.  I like him a lot.  So, the members here are really nice and they feed us every night, which I’m getting used to, but at first it really stressed me out.  Luckily, I’m charming and everyone thinks I’m adorable.  We do a lot of walking and busses, which bums me out because it means we only get to visit two or three people a day which is a bummer.  I wish we where able to do more.  My favorite person is Lenny.  She reminds me so much of our favorite neighbor Korina (Corina?).  She acts like her a lot which made it very easy to love her.  She is “starving for the truth” which is exciting and we feel like she has a lot of potential.  I live in a sketchy part of town. According to people, the average is a murder a night.  Lots of gangs and shootings but don’t worry because that only happens to people that are out later than they should be.  We often visit a place in our area people call “little Mexico.” Everyone speaks Spanish and all the stores, taco trucks, Icecream/churro carts/bikes are all in Spanish.  I serve in West Allis which is South Milwaukee.  There is garbage everywhere, and everyone is super friendly!!  I love it.  I love it.  I love it!!

Letter – 8/2/2013

8/2/2013

 

Dear Family,

I got a letter from you today.  It made me really happy.  I’m also glad to hear I’m winning.  [We joked about having a contest between Jordan and Max with letter writing.]

So I just wanted to tell another cool story.  This member brought her Catholic friend to the MTC because they ask for people to come that want to be taught to help us practice.  So it’s real but they have camera’s in the room so that they can monitor your progress.  Anyway, Elder Stewart and I got to teach her.  Her name was Joy and she’s been Catholic her whole life.  She recently moved up from some city – I can’t remember the name but it’s near Vegas.  And [she] has been curious about the church ever since she met her friend, Jo (female) and felt the warm loving comfort of her neighbors.  Joy’s husband recently passed away and since that has been looking for something to fill the void emptiness in her life.  She has been to some church with Jo but has lacked the desire to commit to the church and that’s when Jo decided to invite her here to be taught.  It was amazing to feel the Spirit guide us in answering her questions.  We made them cry!  It was so cool.  We were able to not just give her the information she needed but through the Spirit, she had a witness of the truth of the things we said.  She said she wouldn’t commit to a date for baptism but she did say she would continue to follow our guidance (like we gave her some scriptures to read and we taught her how to say prayers and not just recite ones) until she was ready.  So now it’s just up to the ward mission leader, which is scary.  I felt like I just handed off my (65-year-old) baby to be raised by someone else. 😥

So if I could just make a request.  Put dates on your letters so I know when they were written, and so I can get an idea of how fast mail travels.  Now I take off Monday night at 7:25 to board Trax and get to the airport.  I’m allowed to call you at that time so you might want to stay tuned.  Also just know that mail might not get to me.  Heads up.  Have you heard from Jordan and did you get my pictures?  Can you send me Jordan’s contact info and I will send you the address of my contact info ASAP.  I love you all very much and I am grateful for your help getting me to this amazing point in my life.

ELDER (CAPS.) Durham (Not all CAPS.  Can’t help it.  Bad habit.)

P.S.  Thanks for the “package” even though I probably won’t get it until tomorrow.

P.P.S.S.  Make sure you use my address codes next time like the “Aug06 MI-WIL Unit 74” stuff.  They told me to tell you that.

P.P.P.S.S.S.

I tried bacon flavored popcorn… yeah… gross.

P.P.P.P.S.S.S.S.

Love y’all lots!

E-mail(s) on 8/5/13

I’m sorry in all these letters if my grammar or spelling is crazy, it’s just because I have to type at the speed of light in order to get everything done.  But yes, I shared my testimony in sacrament meeting and made this big tongan kid cry which was cool.  I like making people cry.  Only the good kind though.

I’ve also gained five pounds the food here I LOADED with calories, oils, fats, and MSG.  My mother isn’t going to be super happy about that.  Mom it’s also all GMO.  The church is supporting GMO!  I’m sorry I didn’t bring my journal to the lab so I can’t really tell you any stories except for one.  In class we were getting a lesson on the holy ghost and how to use it and how to always have it with us and being a valuable tool in the mission field.  So at the end of each lesson The teacher asks us “So now what?”   So I raised my hand and said “I’m going to try really hard to be a tool.”  The teacher choked back a laugh and said “Yes we need to work really hard to be Instruments in God’s hands.”  That’s when I realized what I said and bust out laughing in the middle of the spiritual moment.  So, last year I didn’t call my Mom on her birthday and this year I didn’t call my Mom on her birthday.  I’m the worst son ever, but I have a better excuse this time.  So today I’m leaving the MTC it’s really weird because I feel like I got here yesterday.  I’m learning so much, but it’s not the kind of learning you can take notes on or learn from a textbook.  The learning I’m experiencing is the spirit changing me.  I feel like a different person.  I honestly can’t remember much about what I learned in class.  It’s just how I grew.  The times I learn most are at the end of the night when I talk to my Father that knows me better than I do.  That’s when I learn.  I love praying.  It is a wonderful experience.  I’ve noticed the way I pray  changing.  I honestly think about what I’m going to say all day.  I take detailed notice of things I can do better at and repent of, things that I’m thankful for, and questions or concerns I think about, and every night I pray and I grow and I bond with my Heavenly Father.  This mission has changed me so much because I have learned how to pray.  How to truly, sincerely pray.  I feel so powerful.

Love y’all

Elder Durham

First e-mail – MTC 7/30

Elders Durham and Stewart

Elders Durham and Stewart

Hello Family,

My P-day is officially Tuesday so  that’s when you should expect to see E-mails from me. However, My flight leaves Monday night so I don’t get another P-day here. . . and by “Monday Night” Tuesday Midnight. so yeah, I go to the airport at 10:45 Monday night and then arrive in Wisconsin at Eight in the morning.  So anyway, my experiences.  So, I met my companion and his Name is Elder Stewart.  He’s pretty cool.  We get along very well and we are the only ones in our room, so I feel like that has added to faster bonding because of the isolation.  Our District is 58-B, the best district in the MTC (see the photos page) and we’re all going to Wisconsin except for Sister Bird, who looks like Kaylee Briggs, talks like Kaylee Briggs, and sounds like Kaylee Briggs. Kicker? . . . her name is Kaylee.  I really wanted to be our District Leader but unfortunately they won’t let you be a District Leader if you’re already the Zone Leader. Hmmm, sacrifices.  But yeah, Elder Stewart and I Preside over three districts.  We currently have two investigators, Nancy Shilo, and Junichi Maeda.  We love them both very much and Nancy is one lesson away from getting baptized.  Junichi, on the other hand, is rather difficult.  He doesn’t want us to talk to him about religion because he doesn’t like the definition.  So we have to say stuff like “In our way of life we…” or “In our culture we believe…”   He is from the culture of “Shinto” and he’s this cute little Japanese man with broken english.  They keep us really busy here. We get sixteen-hour days full of sitting in a classroom while we learn about teaching, Jesus, and we do some teaching too.  It’s been an amazing experience and I already feel like I’ve grown so much.  Unfortunately, I’m running out of computer time so I have to go. I will continue to write though.

Love you all

Elder Durham

(the younger one)

First Letter – July 25, 7:07am

Dear family, 

I’m sorry it’s a letter and my handwriting is rough (retyped by Mom).  I would slow down to make it nicer but there is no time for that in the MTC.  They really keep you moving.  After you dropped me off, I was taken to my room.  After that, I went to class where I met ELDER STEWART.  He’s from Arizona which is pretty cool because St. George – we’re his next door neighbors.  My entire time here has been an incredible experience.  I already feel like a whole new person.  I remember feeling/thinking that “It’s just me and the Lord now.”  It was interesting to feel that void of relationships filled by Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father.  I feel a growing closeness with them – their presence is so strong in this wonderful place.  I have so much joy and excitement.  They did an exercise where we had to practice teaching investigators with love.  They had us cycle through three different rooms.  In each room we were told a little about each investigator and watched them talk to some missionaries.  After just a little bit, they switched out and we had to address their concerns and use the Holy Ghost and our love and knowledge of them to share what they needed to hear.  It was an incredible experience because I felt the Spirit so strongly at times and the answers just came to me.  I’m so glad to be here.  I love it here.  I love Elder Stewart, and I love the person you raised me to be.  I love you, mom and dad and I love you, girls.  I’m excited to hear from you.
 
ELDER Durham