Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Being Bold


This week we took Mariah on a Church tour and talked about the Sacrament then took her to the room with the baptismal fount and talked about working towards her baptismal date on October 6th. She is a great lady and I’m grateful to be able to work with her! Then last Saturday we took her to a baptism that happened in our district. She loved it and had a great time feeling the Spirit. She is having a hard time forgiving herself for things that happened in the past. The power of the Atonement is real! I am so excited to show her and watch the power of Christ become a stronger influence in her life.

Yesterday the Sisters in the Idaho Falls Visitor Center put on a musical fireside were all the sisters performed and shared their talents. We have 4 Sisters from the South Pacific and they sang together and sang in their home languages. It was INCREDIBLE!!!!! I LOVE the Polynesian culture!!! It’s so beautiful!!! It was an honor to be there. 

Elder Olson and I are working on being bold, knocking doors and coming right out with the message we have. Jesus is the Christ. The Gospel has been restored. The Book of Mormon is true scripture. And our message can change your life. We are studying the account of the Sons of Mosiah in the Book of Mormon. Alma Chapters 17 - 26. I love these missionaries and their example to all of us!!!  

Elder Eldredge

Monday, July 21, 2014


This is an email written to a group of missionaries, including Elder Sawyer Eldredge.  I thought it was very interesting that the week Sawyer received this letter, he sent us home several pictures of him and his zone (a group of about 10 missionaries) having a great time.  He often tells us all the fun things they do together.  Sawyer has never expressed to us the desire to come home early from his mission, but my guess is it's a feeling that about every missionary will have at some point, including my son.  

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times (A Tale of Two Cities)." 

Alas, it is life!! We have to learn to enjoy the moments despite the hardships. ~ Wendy

Dear Elders,
Story Time...
When I was growing up, we lived in the Oakland, CA hills, in an average home on a cul-de-sac, with probably 15 homes in our oblong "circle."  Every home had kids, and on warm summer nights, we'd play hide-and-seek, using a telephone poll as home base.  I remember many nights, when it was my turn to cover my eyes, put my head on the poll, then count to 100 - I would then try looking everywhere to find my friends, often to no avail.  At that point I would yell "OLIEOLIEOXENFREE!!!!!" Signaling the un-found few that I was giving up and they could come "home" safe.
Last Thursday night we got a call from two missionaries (not in our area) asking if they could come crash at our home for the evening.  It seems that Elder X had been sick all day, throwing up.  Elder Y was getting cabin fever and needed a change of scenery.   (Why our house would be considered a change of scenery is probably because our "new" kitchen is still in the infant development stages, and there's NOTHING to eat/drink/enjoy here, other than Ice Cream.
Anyway - keeping the story going - Elder Y said "If they had told me how hard a mission was, I would never have come out."  Elder Y added "If they said I could go home right now, no questions asked, with no repercussions, I would be out of here."  My question back to each of them was "If every Elder you know in this Mission was given the
Olieolieoxenfree call and they could go home right now, would there be a stampede for the Utah border?"  "YES!" was the reply from both Elders at the same time.
That made me think of my little band of Elders I write to
 almost every week.  Many of you are fighting deep depression; some of you haven't had many/any baptisms; one of you have kicked against the pricks (better known as your DL's & ZL's); and I have heard from more than one of you that if you were given the chance, you'd gladly run for the border.
Why do I tell you these things?  Because, first of all I want you to know, you are NOT alone in your feelings.  And your feelings are the one thing that can't be countermanded, or challenged by anyone.  They are
 your feelings, and they are real.
In the spirit of the Pioneers, remember the words of that great hymn -
 Come, Come, Ye Saints
Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?  'Tis not so; all is right.  Why should we think to earn a great reward, if we now shun the fight?  Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.  Our God will never us forsake; and soon we'll have this tale to tell - All is well! All is well!
I find an interesting word usage in the first line: 
 'Tis not so; all is right.  Isaac Watts (the author) could have used the word Well, Easy, OK, or Fine.  But he chose right.  What does right mean in this context?  I am going to leave this word choice to you to decipher - I  know what it means to me, but each of you might have something else come to mind.
I know when I was growing up, every Missionary that came home always ended his homecoming talk with these words:  "This has been the best two years of my life!!!"  I used to think, that's probably a bunch of crap, and only was true when the hardest/worst/most difficult two years of his life was
 finally over!!!  Then I used it at my homecoming...
My message to you this week:  Know that when your mission is over, it will be OVER.  What you have made of the two years the Lord has given you to do his work, will be over.  What your parents, friends, relatives, and ward members think of how you preformed in the mission field will be judged mostly on what you say from the pulpit, when you give your homecoming talk.  You'll probably used that old, well-worn, missionary line about it being the best two years of your life, and some Teacher of Priest (or younger brother) will hear you and think to himself "I can't wait for my mission, I want to be just like Elder __________ (fill in your name in the blank).  But you, and the Lord, alone will know the truth - how your mission really was, how it progressed, or stalled, and finally how it ended...
Don't be the someone who gives up, or can't find those you're looking for, and finally screams
 “Olieolieoxenfree!!!  I give up, let me go home with no penalty.”
Remember, you are in our prayers every day and night - and there's one of you who I fast for every week.  Don't let the Lord, your family, your Ward, or us down.  Endure to the end, and as the hymn says:  “Shout praises to your God And King; Above the rest these words YOU’LL tell - All is well!  All is well!”
Never forget, you are loved!

Monday, July 14, 2014

I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death - Sunday will come. In the darkness of our sorrow,Sunday will come.


"I don’t understand. I don’t understand why God didn't intervene and save her when she had 3 beautiful daughters that needed her. I don’t understand." 

We had a lesson this week with a new investigator. Her name Is Mariah. She is around 55 years old and is living with a newly returning member. Her daughter was abducted and killed a few years ago. She is still, without shame or surprise, suffering from her loss. We had an amazing lesson about God and who he is. His love for us and how much he wants to bless our lives. This was our conversation. I had the opportunity to share a little of my story. Its been a long time since I’ve talked about Madie with investigators. I didn't know if I should but after saying a silent prayer, I felt it would be appropriate. My story is very sacred to me, but I have no problem being a tool in the Lords hands. If He tells me or prompts me to say something, im going to. I love Mariah. She has been threw a lot and has seen much pain and hatred in her life. But with all of that aside she wants to come to Christ and be made whole. She said the first time she went to a Mormon church was the first time she felt at home. She came to church this past week. Please pray for her.

As a zone leader we have the responsibility of taking care of 16 other missionaries. We are entrusted in training them and helping them reach their goals. I can’t imagine how a Bishop must feel. We have a few companionships that are struggling. One emotionally and the other with missionary work. They are incredible missionaries and I love them so much. I want so badly for their happiness. I lie awake at night pondering on what we can do to help them. We pray for them morning and night. 

"I think of how dark that Friday was when Christ was lifted up on the cross...
It was a Friday filled with devastating, consuming sorrow that gnawed at the souls of those who loved and honored the Son of God.
I think that of all the days since the beginning of this world's history, that Friday was the darkest.  But the doom of that day did not endure.
The despair did not linger because of Sunday, the resurrected Lord burst the bonds of death.  He ascended from the grave and appeared gloriously triumphant as the Savior of all mankind.
And in an instant the eyes that had been filled with over-flowing tears dried.  The lips that had whispered prayers of distress and grief now filled the air with wondrous praise, for Jesus the Christ, the Son of the living God, stood before them as the first fruits of the Resurrection, the proof that death is merely the beginning of a new and wondrous existence.
Each of us will have our own Fridays - those days when the universe itself seems shattered and the shards of our world lie littered about us in pieces.  We all will experience those broken times when it seems we can never be put together again.  We will all have our Fridays.
But I testify to you in the name of the One who conquered death - Sunday will come.  In the darkness of our sorrow,Sunday will come.
No matter our desperation, no matter our grief, Sunday will come.  In this life or the next, Sunday will come."

-Elder Joseph Wirthlin

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

I'm not ok but I'm ok and that's ok.


Well… it’s been a wile… sorry for not writing but it’s been a crazy week!
1.  B-day was FANTASTIC!
2.    Struggles of the mission
3.   Something I learned this week
4.   Zone training
5.   Independence Day
6.   Me being real
7.   Closing
 1.       Where better to start then with my birthday!!! It was so great! Thank you; to all who sent their love!!! Thank you Grandma Awesome and Grandma Cool!!! Your love has been feeding us well!!! Last week our ward mission leader was in Greece with his wife and he forgot to get dinner sign-ups!!! But because of the great people you are we were just fine going out to eat! Then there were the awesome cards from people! Thank you! My parents sent me Blue Bell Ice Cream!!!! They’re the best!!! On the 4th of July I got to share it with my zone and they all loved it. I think the reason I love ice cream so much is not only how yummy it is, but its 10x better when you share it with people! Dad sent me a vile of consecrated oil.  My family send party supplies AND my absolute favorite pair of sunglasses I have ever owned!!!! I love my aviators!!! Thank you so much mom and dad!  But then there was another box! A big box! We had dinner at my Cousin Rachel's home and when she showed it to me I couldn't believe it! On the label it said “Happy Birthday Elder Eldredge” and on the return address it said “David A. Bednar.” I was like…. WWWWHHHHHAAAATTTTTT!!!! No way! This has got to be a joke!!! Rachel just shrugged her shoulders. I was freaking out! In the box were goodies that I LOVE!!! White chocolate chip macadamia nut cookies, Snickers and Twix candy bars, cold cereal, Sour Patch Kids, “free creams and lotions” (Nacho Libre quote), all stuff I love and needed!!! There was no way Elder Bednar, a member of the Quorum of the 12 Apostles, knew all of this and sent it to me!!! This has to be a prank! Later I found out it was done by a UPS guy we know. Sheldon. He has taken the missionaries out often in the past and when he delivered the box to Rachel’s house that my parents sent for me and read on it “Happy Birthday Elder Eldredge” he asked if he could do something!!! What an awesome surprise!!! What a great day! Then that night we had an amazing lesson with a former investigator! Her name is Kathleen S. She has come to church many times in the past but hasn’t for awhile now. She has had lots of missionaries stop by and visit her and things just kept coming up that stopped her from pursuing baptism. But when we talked with her the spirit was so strong and we were able to invite her to be baptized when she comes to know that the things we teach are true and she accepted!!! She has a baptismal date for Aug. 23. She has been reading the Book of Mormon and has come to us with some great questions. I am so excited to continue to teach her and help her make the covenant of baptism so she may return to be with her Heavenly Father! So, yup, great day.

2.       And that started off one of the hardest weeks I think I’ve had yet! These past few weeks have been really hard on Elder Olson and I. We are doing our best, living the standard of excellence, doing everything in our power to be exactly obedient and our investigators disappear, our bodies are exausted,  we feel unmotivated and discouraged. I find joy and relief in serving our fellow missionaries. That is what I am living for right now. As I take care of the missionaries the Lord has given me, he strengthens me. I love it. But our investigators won’t respond! Our zone is doing amazing with teaching and inviting others to come unto Christ and we are left eating their dust!!! We are the zone leaders! We are supposed to be the examples!!! We are doing our best, but for some unknown reason, we are not getting the response we hope to be getting. We just keep trudging on, one step at a time, one door at a time, one smile at a time.

3.      This past week I spoke with a very wise man named Quinn. We talked about being real. So often we put these masks on to show that we are ok. As a man in this society, I am pressured to be superman, invincible, not a problem. But what I have found is it takes a real man to ask for help. This past week we gave a blessing to and Elder. He has always put on the face of strength. He smiles all the time and looks like he’s got this all under control. He has been out for 20 months so what could he possibly be struggling with!? He came to us and asked for a blessing of comfort. He felt he had a negative sprit hanging on him and he was looking for guidance and peace. What an incredible Elder. We need to be real! Drop your masks, take down your walls, live life and don’t be scared of who sees or who judges! The only people who matter already love you perfectly!!! As we open ourselves to people, that allows them to open themselves up and a bond is created!!! Our Heavenly Father will more often than not answer prayers and perform miracles threw others! This allows us to not only form a relationship with him, but allows us to love his children too! How beautiful is that!!! We also talked about pain and expressing it. Sometimes when someone is grieving they want to talk. But sometimes people, with good intentions, want to “rescue” or “save” that person. When someone is grieving there is very little you can do to stop the pain. But if you simply listen, be a warm body, be a shoulder to cry on, that is helping. I’m not ok, but I’m ok, and that’s ok.

4.       On Thursday the 3rd we had zone training. That is where we get the whole zone together and Elder Olson and I give trainings on what President Brinkerhoff gave us at Mission Leadership Council. I love getting the zone together. These are some of my favorite people in the world! We have had some new members join us since the transfer so we introduced ourselves then told everybody what animal our companion would be and why. We had everything from a fish to a lion! I described Elder Olson as a church mouse, because he is quiet but he knows his scriptures. Then Elder Olson stood up and gave me one of the best complements I have ever received. He said I would be a wolf, because I am a born leader and my pack always comes first. I love that guy a lot. Elder Olson and I gave a training on burying our weapons of rebellion. We printed out and cut out litter paper swords for them to write on, then discussed the story of the Anti-Nephi-Lehis who buried their swords as a testimony of the promise they made to God. After discussing this story we invited each missionary to write down one of their weapons of rebellion and to come up and burry it in a trunk we borrowed from a member.  We invited each missionary to talk with their Lord and ask what it was that they could do to improve and what they could sacrifice or stop doing to become a better servant in his vineyard. It was incredible watching these missionaries, my brothers and sisters, all in prayer asking and looking for ways to improve. I love these missionaries.

5.       The 4th of July was amazing. I’m going to brag about myself here for a little. If you don’t want to hear it, skip to the next paragraph. Elder Olson and I set up an awesome Independence Day celebration for our zone. We got together and had a water gun capture the flag game were we all ended up soaking wet with big smiles on our faces. Then we changed into missionary cloths and went to a baseball game! We were able to acquire some tickets from an amazing member and had a blast sitting in the stands cheering on the Idaho Falls Chuckers who won 10 to 4 against the Ogden Raptors. It made me think of my dad and I really wanted to have him there watching the game with me.  While at the game I ran into Sydnee Lasswell!!!!! (Only it’s not Lasswell anymore… idk what it is now!) It was so great to see her! We then gathered up some supplies and headed to watch the fireworks! I led them a few blocks away to a member who had a spot reserved for us. I brought my Blue Bell ice cream and served it up just in time to watch an amazing 30 min display of pyro-beauty! It was fantastic. Then we packed up, walked to our cars, battled the crazy amounts of people that were spilling out of Idaho Falls, and made it home safely.  Success.

6.       This past Sunday was hard, I don’t know why, but my emotions were very close to the surface. (Again, this is me being real with you, I’m not looking to be saved, and I’m just sayin how it is.) It was fast and testimony meeting and we as missionaries get the opportunity to bear our testimonies each month in each ward we attend. I got up and testified of the power of the priesthood. This past week we gave 6 blessings to missionaries and members who needed one.  The power of the Priesthood is real. I know it is. I have seen it in action and I have felt it move threw me. I know it is real. Then, sitting in the Rose Park chapel I had a memory of Madie flash across my mind. It was a simple act. I gently kissed her forehead. Emotion swept over me as my body and soul missed her. I let a few tears fall and had no shame. I love you Madeline Rose.

7.       This was my week. A mission is hard. Very hard. Lots of missionaries go home before their time is up. It’s tough. But it’s also one of the best things you can do for yourself, for others, and for the Lord. If you are thinking of going on a mission, start preparing now. Spend some time way from your home. Go get a job out of city or go on a trip or something. Learn how to stand on the two feet God gave you.  Build your testimony. Ask the hard questions.  Is this for real? Did Joseph Smith really see God the Father and Jesus Christ? Is the Book of Mormon true? Can I stand and bear testimony that I know these things? If you ask these with a sincere heart, with real intent, having faith in Christ, He will manifest the truth of it unto you by the power of the Holy Ghost. And by the Holy Ghost ye may know the truth of all things.  Moroni 10:4-5.

I love you.

Elder Eldredge