December 31, 2012

Q&A in December

Here are some questions I got answered from Elder Bell during the month of December:

Q: What are the mission rules on the kind of music you can listen to?
A: I can listen to Mormon artists only, so no classical or Disney or anything like that.

Q: I know you've only been out for a month, so you probably have plenty of supplies, but is there anything you need or want for Christmas?
A: Maybe something that can protect me like mace, or maybe like those mini alarm systems you have on your door that just make noise and scare the people away. I don't know how expensive those are, but things out here are getting really bad crime-wise!

Q: How have you been doing with food out there on your own?
A: Every night we eat dinner at a member's house, and we are on our own for breakfast and lunch, So far all I've been doing is cereal, ramen, and PB&J sandwiches, that usually holds me off until dinner at a member's house and they always have a ton of food! It's way nice.

Q: How have the meals been with the members?
A: The member's food is usually pretty good. Sometimes they'll forget and have to cancel, but they'll just give us some money so we can go out to eat for lunch or something. I had a deep fried turkey last night, it was amazing. I'm sold on coming out to your place every Thanksgiving if that is what you'll be doing!

Q: What are the mission rules for wearing your suit jacket?
A: The rules are for coats that you have to wear them if you're in a car from October conference to April conference and always at church meetings or any other meetings. If you are on a bike you don't have to wear your coat unless it is for any of the meetings. Kinda lame because it still gets hot out here and driving around with no A/C (because we're trying to save) gas sucks!

If you have your own questions you'd like answered by Elder Bell, add them in a comment below and I'll send it to him, or just write him a letter!

Random December Pictures

Airport Arrival

Arrival to the mission

"Welcome to the San B Mission!"

Meet & Greet

Greenies & Trainers

Welcome Elder Browning

New Missionary Orientation Meeting

December 26, 2012

Email 12/26/12 - Week 3: Christmas in San B

Hey Guys! I hope everybody is doing awesome! Things are great out here in San B, no more attempted break-ins (yet) but we're still on the search for pepper spray and ways to keep us safe! haha. As a mission our goal was 500 baptisms by the end of the year, and we have reached it! We will probably be around 530-540 by the end of the year. So now we get to have a mission party because we reached our goal! Our new goal for next year is to get 350 baptisms by the time president Godwin goes home, which is the end of June. We're really excited about that and I think we can do it!

Me and Elder Monk have been a little scared at night ever since those people broke in so we talked with President Godwin and they are going to look for a new place for us to stay. We also want to ask these members if we can move in with them at the new year, they live up in the nicer area and have an alarm system haha, I would feel a lot safer there for sure.

Having a member present during a lesson is way important so they can have fellowship, and not feel like nobody in the ward is their friend when the missionaries leave or something. Our ward is great at helping out but the best way to get them to help out over this Christmas season is using the quote Cayde had: "The best way to spread Christmas cheer, is bearing your testimony for all to hear." haha it works!

We found out that a member owns a theme park in Ontario, and we really want to go! So we talked with our zone leaders and they are going to see what they can do so we can go there on a p-day sometime in the future. It would be so much fun!

This week we prepared Jaramiah for Baptism. He, being very demanding, told us we had to bring him "Church's Chicken" and he also wanted us to bring watermelon too. Bishop Eastwood said to him we might as well bring purple Kool-Aid and cornbread too to fill out the rest of that stereotype! haha. Jaramiah also asked me to speak on the Holy Ghost at his baptism. Jaramiah shined my shoes for me and then he wanted money after so I gave him a few bucks, then I realized I had another pair at home, so I decided hey I can shine my own shoes. So I went and shined them, after I look in the mirror and realize I got all of this Black shoe polish on my white shirt. It could have been really bad, but Tide-to-go saved my life! You can't even tell that there was a stain on it!

We had a Mission Christmas party this week and it was really awkward at first. You walk in and you see all of these missionaries talking to each other and you don't know anybody but your companion or people in your zone. It felt like one of those parties you go to with a friend, but you don't know anybody there so you awkwardly stand there and drink a lot of water, and pretend like you have something interesting going on on your cell phone or in your planner haha. It ended up being a pretty fun party though, President Godwin dressed up as Santa and I got to sit on his lap! Then we sang Christmas songs and me and Elder Escamilla, and Elder Langi (From the MTC) all went crazy and sang way loud and beautiful.. haha just kidding it was some pretty awful singing.

Elder Bell's Christmas wish

We got to pick up our Christmas Packages at that party, and I got a package from Mom, and Mike. I didn't think I would have gotten one from mom because they said one of my packages got stolen, but after skyping with the family yesterday, I guess none of my packages got stolen, unless someone else sent one to me? I opened up the package from mom and instead of using paper in-between stuff so it wouldn't rattle, she used packs of ramen hahah it made me laugh way hard but it was a genius idea!

Box of stomach aches

I had a really cool experience with Billy this week. We started teaching him, and then he got a phone call and left, so we just talked with Jaramiah and taught him. When we were leaving Billy came back and we asked if he still wanted to be taught, he wasn't very into the lesson before he left so I was kind of like not really in the mood to teach him, kind of thinking like he doesn't want to pay attention, why should we teach him? But the lesson ended up being amazing. I was tired so I was kind of out of it, having a hard time paying attention myself, and then Elder Monk looked at me and I just bore my testimony on the Plan of Salvation and then I kept going. The Holy Ghost talked through me like never before. I was getting all fired up and I felt like I was giving a speech, or I was a coach giving a half time talk. It was amazing, I just kept going and going, and I have never had the Holy Ghost tell me EXACTLY what to say word for word, telling me exactly what they needed to hear. I related my own personal experiences in there and used some awesome analogies I don't even remember. Experiences like that keep growing and growing my faith I love it, just when I think nothing crazier with the Holy Ghost could happen, I keep getting surprised! It was the best lesson I have ever taught! Both me and Billy were crying by the end of it.

We've been teaching Jessie and Adam and Jessie is the investigator and Adam is already a member. They aren't married but they live together. They are awesome people I love those guys, they are one of my favorites to teach because we have given them quite a few priesthood blessings and they have a strong testimony of the church even thought Jessie isn't a member yet. She's got a lot of faith. We went over there on Saturday and after we got done teaching, Adam asked if he could get a picture of us with Jessie. He said in case you guys move away, I want to get her picture with her original missionaries! They are an awesome family.

Elder Bell, Jessie, Elder Monk

Jaramiah got baptized Saturday!!! It was awesome! I'm glad I was there to be able to help him prepare and to stay strong with not smoking! His baptism went really well! I thought my talk on the Holy Ghost wasn't going to go over so well and I was really nervous because quite a bit of people showed up to the baptism. But everybody said I did a really good job! I don't know how, but the Holy Ghost really works through me in times of need! And I'm so grateful to have that as a constant companion! The Holy Ghost is our Third and most important companion in missionary work!

Jaramiah's Baptism - 12/22/2012

Jaramiah wanted to sing us a song at his baptism and he wouldn't tell us what it was or what it was about so we were worried that it wouldn't be church appropriate but we let him sing anyways. It wasn't a hymn or a song by an LDS artist, but it was about prayer and he actually did a good job! It was funny when he ended the song he just stopped and waited a couple seconds and then said "Now where is my chicken?!?" It was way funny!

"Now where is my chicken?!?"

I got Elder Monk some "Socker Boppers" for Christmas hahah, they are like boxing gloves but they are giant and inflatable. I decided I should give Escamilla and Austin something too. So I got some sweet potatoes wrapped it in plastic sacks and then put tissue paper on the outside and just threw on a bunch of the most random things I could think of. It had cookies, candy, q-tips and other random things taped to the outside hahah It's kind of hard to describe. Elder Escamilla got 4 opened sweet tart candy boxes taped together, with UNO cards taped to it, and a sucker with life savers on the stick, and other random stuff taped to it with a toilet paper roll taped to it. I just wanted to make them something awesome and I think I succeeded! I'll send a picture of them all!

When you don't have wrapping paper, use toiletries instead

Me and Elder Monk see quite a bit of homeless people out here, I think there is 2,000 homeless in this city. We got a whole bunch of goodies in packages and from members. We decided to go out and deliver goodies to homeless people we saw, it was pretty cool and we got a couple good reactions out of it! Most of them were drunk though so I don't think they knew what was going on. I also decided to buy Jessie and Adam Hernandez Christmas dinner, so I bought a couple boxes of mashed potatoes, and stuffing, and then I bought them a pretty big ham! They were so grateful. Service is one of my favorite things, and helping others around the holidays when they can't afford food, or presents for there families is an amazing experience. We're also going to buy Jaramiah a heater and take it over to him today because it's starting to get pretty cold at night and he sleeps on the ground in a sleeping bag and he asked for one, so we'll be Santa for him!

Elder Bell & Elder Monk decorated a member's tree
Christmas at Bishop Eastwood's

This Christmas was way good! I thought it was going to be depressing being away from home and everything but it was actually way sweet! The Lord has defnitetely blessed me with not being home sick! I got some awesome gifts from mom, Mike Gramse, and K.C. & X! Thank you so much for all of those! I've never been so excited before to get ties or socks! Brother Gramse sent me some awesome ties, so ugly, but so gorgeous! I love them. We played a lot of basketball on Christmas and then went over to Bishop Eastwoods for dinner and had some great food, and a lot of fun. We played the game "HedBanz" and it was so funny. Elder Monk and Austin were pretty bad at it haha, but they're good sports when we tease them about things. The best part of Christmas was when I got to Skype home to family! It was so good seeing everybody! I feel like so much has happened in the month and a half I've been out haha. For a while I got a little distracted and was missing home a bit, but I realized I have the rest of my life to spend with family and only 2 years to serve the Lord full-time.

Christmas morning
"Spirit House Cat"
A puzzle to match the pants

Today we got to go to the Temple! It was so awesome to go there and do an endowment session! We went to the Redlands Temple which is out of our area but President Godwin allows us to go quarterly. Redlands is about 20 minutes away so it isn't too bad of a drive. We also got to go to Cafe Rio for lunch! I didn't know they had one out here, but in Redlands they do!

Alright well I love you guys, thanks for the letters and support! I have P-day again in like 4 days so hopefully I'll have something to write about then! haha

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

December 25, 2012

Skype Christmas 2012

The Bell family was able to speak with Elder Bell for about an hour on Christmas Day. Elder Bell was in high spirits and had plenty of stories to tell. A local San B member offered their computer so we were able to have a group video conference on Skype. It was so nice to see Elder Bell's face and watch his expressions while he related many of his inspiring and funny experiences that he's had so far.

We are so proud of Elder Bell and all his hard work serving the Lord!

December 23, 2012

Christmas Card 2012

The following was included in a Christmas Card we received from Elder Bell:

As I write this, I sit in Sacrament meeting, looking around, being more blessed than ever. As I look around I see people less fortunate than I. I see families wearing the same clothes as they were this whole past week. I see kids who won't get much, or even anything for Christmas. I see in people's eyes that they are hungry, and won't be eating much for Christmas. There is one similarity I see in this congregation, rich or poor. Everyone in this chapel is happy. They aren't worried about how they are going to pay their bills. They aren't worried what their next meal will be, or even how they're going to make this a nice Christmas. I, having plenty of food to eat, plenty of clean clothes to wear, and more than enough money to survive, I am humbled. I am grateful for all I have. Worldly things don't bring happiness; this gospel does. I never really realized how blessed I've been until I got out here in San Bernardino. My mom has given me everything and anything I needed, and a lot of the time would give me things I didn't even need. I've truly been humbled with seeing all of these families together, happy because they get to spend time with each other and feel the love of our Heavenly Father while here at church.

I have taken everything for granted in my life. I just with I could go back on all of the times I didn't get what I wanted, or a certain toy. Especially take back all of the times I complained about what was for dinner. Some families have to work so hard for their next meal, and for even housing. I grew up just expecting it. I never thought whether or not I would be eating or not, it was just expected. I'm going to try harder to eat whatever is given to me, even if I don't like it. There are plenty of people not being fed, I can't be picky about what I like and don't. It's food, and some are starving as I complain about not wanting to eat that. Going around to different families, taking them snacks and seeing them eat it kike they haven't eaten in days just breaks my heart. I often see little kids wearing the same thing, the same socks that are completely black on the bottom because they don't have shoes, or enough money to wash their clothes. I just need to be thankful for everything. I complain about my pillow or mattress and then go and teach a family that all lives in the same bedroom. They have one queen mattress for a family of six. I need to take what I get and have and be happy with it.

Seeing these people happy with the things they do have, rather than complaining about what they don't have, has really opened my eyes. I asked one of my investigators, Billy, what he was asking for, for Christmas. And he said to spend time with his family. The first thing I personally think of and many others of when they hear Christmas is presents and gifts. The best present is spending time with you family, the ones that you love. That is when people can truly be happy. One of God's greatest and most precious gifts is the Holy Ghost. I'm able to share that gift with all. I can testify and promise that this is the true church, the church Jesus Christ established. The church restored by the prophet Joseph Smith.The Church that holds the proper priesthood authority and keys to act in the name of God. And the church that can bring eternal life and salvation. These things I know without a shadow of a doubt are true, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Savior, Amen.

It doesn't have to be Christmas to share gifts, especially the gift of this gospel. Please share that gift with others, don't keep it to yourself. Pray about specific non-members you know and give them a pass-along card and bare your testimony to them, or share a Book of Mormon with somebody with your testimony written inside the cover. I know by doing this, you will be blessed and will seek out opportunities for missionary work. We all are missionaries.

Have a merry Christmas!

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

December 17, 2012

Email 12/17/12 - Week 2 in San B

Hey guys how's it going? I have so much to email about! Things out here are pretty crazy. First off (Going from my list I make in the middle of the week so i can remember what to email about), the fourteenth is my "birthday"; I'm now one years old. They have a system out in the mission, for every month you have been out is how old you are, your trainer is your dad, and your follow up trainer is your mom. Elder monk trained Elder Austin (our ward-mates) and so he is my brother, and Elder Escamilla is my cousin, it's kinda crazy ha ha.

It feels like this week went by so fast, time goes by way quick, it's unbelievable. We've been doing a lot of lessons with investigators, as well as part member, or less active families. I extended my first baptismal invitation on Tuesday and he said yes! He's going to prepare himself to be baptized for the 12th of January. Lessons just keep getting greater and greater, Words keep coming out of my mouth when I talk, and sometimes I say stuff I don't even have the knowledge of, right in the moment the Spirit helps me out! Elder Monk always brags about me to other Elders and says I'm miles farther then he was when he got out here, but it's not me.. It's definitely the Lord helping me out, knowing what and when to say it.

Tuesday this last week was the first time it has rained since I've been out in San B, The genius' that built this city decided it would be a good idea to make 20 inch sidewalk/road curbs, and no storm drains in the middle of the street, so on the sides of the street it's like a river, you know how they splash people when it's raining when they drive through with their cars? Yeah I thought that only happened in movies until It rained here, due to the no storm drains there are puddles everywhere!! I didn't see it, but some people told us how you can inner-tube down the street when it rains hard enough. Without those giant curbs, everybody's house would be flooded. The crappy thing about the curbs is when you open the door to the car it hits the curb and will get stuck a lot of the time in the grass, so we have to drive away with the door open to get it unstuck from the grass ha ha.

San B weather after the storm

Mom will be surprised when I say this, but I've been keeping the apartment really clean! And doing my dishes! I'm finally a responsible adult! Me and Elder Monk have agreed to do daily chores, whether it be dishes, vacuuming, sweeping, etc. Our ward put together about 15 bags of Christmas presents for the people in our ward who wouldn't get a very good Christmas and couldn't afford it. Everybody was way surprised and thanked us, but we just told them don't thank us we just delivered them. "The Lord really does answer prayers" is the most common response we got. The best Reaction is Ida, she's this black lady probably about 65-70 years old, and we took her some and most of the time when we see her she is way happy, and when we knocked on her door she looked kind of depressed. We showed her the bag and she looked inside and her eyes lit up and her jaw dropped to the floor! She started crying and screaming and gave us both big hugs and kept saying "Thank you so much, in Jesus' name!" it was an awesome experience to be apart of. We all take things for granted, and this is opening my eyes so much more!

Jaramiah, the guy I talked about in last weeks letter is still going strong with quitting smoking and still ready for his baptismal date this Saturday the 22nd. We hope he is able to pass his interview because he jokes around a lot and since he claimed that he used to be a drug dealer and a pimp, President Godwin has to interview him so I'm really praying and hoping that he doesn't say anything to mess that up. We're going over today to talk to him so he knows how important this is. People are really so crazy in this town, The "Ain't nobody got time for that" lady and the Bed Intruder guy from those YouTube videos.. Yeah they are like normal people in this town, they would fit right in! hahaha

Jaramiah, Elder Bell, and Billy

So I don't know if i mentioned before how diverse it is out her, and how white people are the minorities, but it's funny because most of the Hispanics we teach refer to Joseph Smith as Jose Smith for some weird reason, it's kind of hard not to laugh sometimes especially when we're in the middle of the lesson. I heard about the shooting in Connecticut, that's awful I couldn't even believe it! I don't know every last detail, but I heard enough to make me sick. Please pray for the Families in Connecticut!

We taught Billy the law of chastity this week, and we thought it was going to be tough because he is 25, unmarried, and has 3 kids. So we didn't know if he would think we were crazy or what, I just didn't know what to expect with him and how he was going to take it. We gave him a highlighted Chastity pamphlet and taught him the reasons to obey, and the blessings he'll get if he does obey them. We then challenged him to teach it to his girl friend, so she would know what was going on and why they couldn't be sexually active. He agreed to obey it, and I was surprised because he had a lot of trouble with it before, but I trust that he'll do good. The next day we saw him he said guys look! And he pulled the two pamphlets out of his coat pocket and he said just in case! hahaha he's way funny.

So ever since I've been out here in the field I've been sick and I don't know why. Just always having a cough, or runny nose or something, I'm never "Fully Healthy" This week both Elder Monk and I both got pretty sick, and ended up staying a morning in our apartment just sleeping because we both were exhausted getting no sleep and coughing and all that fun stuff. Our apartment was a germ incubator haha. I'm glad it's just us two in the apartment so we didn't get anybody else sick.

So how letters work here, is they all get sent to the mission office and they forward them to us right away, that way we don't have to worry about address changes and letting everybody know and we don't have to worry about lost mail and stuff like that. But mail out here takes forever! The two letters I got from mom, one was sent 6 days earlier, and one was sent 8 days earlier. They take forever. I got two today from Denise, and Elder Jackman and they had been forwarded from the MTC both written more then two weeks ago, so it takes some time! I'll bet packages take 1-2 months! haha just kidding.

By the way, whoever sent me a small package thank you, it was really kind and thoughtful of you and I'm sure whoever broke into our Zone Leaders truck and stole that package plus like 10 other Christmas packages is enjoying it. Yeah we found that out today they don't know who my package was from but I guess President is supposed to be calling mom soon and asking what was in it so he can reimburse you, so hopefully it was something that was bought, and nothing made or personalized because it's gone. But that's San B for you...

There is an older couple in our ward that has an amazing garden, so we get free fruits and vegetables! They have these really good orange trees, and blood orange trees, the blood oranges are way good, i had never heard of them before. They also have grapefruit, persimmons, peppers, avocados, apples, etc.

So Jaramiah is homeless like I had mentioned before, but he is really greedy? I don't know if that's the right word, for it. Anyways, when we take him stuff he'll be like "No that's wrong!" And won't accept it, like if he asked us to go buy him a snack and we get the wrong one, if that makes sense. Like we asked him what he wanted for Christmas and he said he wanted a PSP charger cause his broke, and I told him I have one at my house, and he said have your mom send the PSP, the games, the charger everything! He claimed that I don't play it anymore haha. He just kind of picks and chooses things or demands things when we are doing favors for him.

On Saturday we got to go to the temple and do baptisms for the dead with the youth in the ward. I can say that I have baptized 23 people my first two weeks on my mission haha. It was really good to be back in the temple again, and the Redlands temple is way pretty! I was glad I could get some practice baptizing more, hopefully it will come in handy! Actually if all goes as planned.. We should have in the next month counting from the 22nd of this month to the 12 of January we should have 7 baptisms. 3 of those 7 are really solid and won't back out, I'm hoping none of them will, we just have to spend a lot of time working with them!

Saturday night we went over to the Schreiners, they are this new family that moved into the ward and they're awesome, they have like 4 kids and we just visited with them and got to know them better. Tyler, their 3 year old has like an emergency cavity, or some problem with his tooth really bothering him, and his step dad is taking them to Utah this week, so he has to go the whole week with that tooth pain, so we gave him a blessing. It was pretty funny afterwards because all of the kids after the blessing were lined up saying that it was their turn. haha

San B is scary, not going to lie to sound tough.. it freaks me out! Saturday night at about 10:30 we get a knock on the door, Monk is brushing his teeth and I'm already in bed. It was a constant knock and we don't know anybody that lives around us, and we live in a gated complex so we just didn't have a good feeling and decided not to answer it. I got my clothes on and hid my valuables, and then we heard the door knob starting to wiggle, and them speaking like Russian or something crazy it wasn't Spanish I don't think. And so I grabbed a hammer that was sitting on our dresser, and elder Monk grabbed a PVC pipe and we were just sitting there waiting, not moving so they could see our shadows or anything. It was the scariest thing, I said to say a quick prayer and we both did, and the knocking and window tapping kept continuing. After it stopped we said a companion prayer and then went to look out our peep hole, nobody was there. It was the scariest thing of my life! haha, if they would have come in, we would have been swinging our blunt objects that we call weapons. That whole night I wasn't able to sleep, and I was just on my guard. It sucked. We ended up putting a chair leaning up against the door in case they were able to pick the lock so they couldn't get in hahaha. I'm glad nothing happened or nobody came in, because we could have seriously hurt them, or gotten seriously hurt! I just dreaded if something happened, I'm going to hit them with the hammer, it's self-defense and i'm not just going to stand there while somebody stabs or shoots me, it's a natural reflex. I'm glad there wasn't any newspaper headlines "Two Mormon missionaries beat burglar to death with hammer." That would have been bad, and I don't want to come home haha. We decided we should get pepper spray, a sign on the window that people have for different alarm systems, but just have a picture of Jesus and say that he protects this house, and we want to make a CD of different guns being cocked back like a shotgun and put the CD in my discman and turn it up way loud and put the speakers by the door, so anybody trying to get in, will think we have a gun. I knew watching home alone a million times would pay off somehow in life!

The chair that kept the Elders safe

Church was really good yesterday, everybody we had invited to come, came to church. And some even brought other people, there ended up being like three or four non members show up that wanted to be taught, the Lord is just blessing us in so many ways!

One of the investigators we teach is married to a member and he is less active, we have been going over to their house quite often, His name is Adam Hernandez. He has a lot of medical problems and he told us about it, and we gave him a blessing, two days later when we were supposed to go teach them again, we got a call saying he was in the hospital, he had been having extreme chest pains, and because it was out of our area bishop had to take us, We couldn't make it over until last night and it couldn't have been a better time. When we got there he was in extreme pain, and you could tell he was really hurt and trying to keep in the tears, when we walked in the room this peace came, and Jessie his wife who we are teaching just gave us all big hugs, saying that she had been praying for something, some help, and we came. We gave him a blessing and after that The spirit was so strong and we had a feeling that he was going to be alright. He told the bishop afterwards he promised and wants to be worthy to start doing the stuff he did when he was younger like passing the sacrament, and asked bishop for a calling when he is healthier. It was an amazing experience and we are really glad we had gone over, because we were debating going because if we did we would be late for dinner, but we decided to go anyways and I'm really glad we went.

Another cool thing that happened yesterday was we were tracting, and like 5 minutes after starting to tract, we ran into this older black lady, Irene Simmons! She just had the biggest smile on her face when we introduced herself, and she invited us in right away, and had us sit down. We went on to explain we have a message centered on Jesus Christ and how it can affect her life and how it can improve her life and so on. She couldn't stop smiling, she eventually asked, "Do you guys know why I can't stop smiling?" and we asked why and she said she got baptized into the Mormon church about 4 years ago, and moved away after that, and just moved to San B and didn't know where the church was. She said that one of her friends had been talking to her telling her she needed to go back, earlier that week, and her sons girlfriend moved after taking discussions too and she had said on Friday or something that she wanted to find the missionaries and get taught again. And so we got her number and she's one of our new investigators. She got a couple calls when we were talking to her and she would answer saying "Guess who is here?!?! my church is here! The Mormons!! Elders!" she was so excited, we let her know where the building was and arranged for somebody in the ward to come pick her up each week, we'll also go and teach her some lessons and get her re-activated into the church, she kept saying it was no coincidence we were there. I have always heard stories about stuff like this, but I never thought it would have happened to me!!!

Last couple things, we got to watch Elf today for p-day which was awesome, I love that movie! It kind of made me miss home and the holidays, but I'm much happier serving the Lord anyways helping other receive the gift of the gospel instead of worrying about my gifts. This sounds bad, but hear me out.. haha So the one thing that the mission has done to me, is make me dislike a lot of little kids. I don't hate them or anything, I just dislike a lot of them. We'll be sitting there having a great spiritual lesson, everything is going amazing you can tell they're feeling the spirit, and then the kid comes along, screaming, or crying and ruins all of it! haha its so frustrating because after they take care of the kid, they aren't feeling the spirit as strong so it kind of sucks. I still love little kids, Just not for these next two years haha.

I won't be writing again until the 26th because our next p-day is the 24th and the library will be closed, so no worries family, I'll be writing on the 26th! haha I love all of you guys and I hope everything is going great for everybody. Letters are like the best thing ever out here, so feel free to write me! :)

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

PLEASE READ!!!

If you recently sent a package to Elder Bell it may have been part of a group of packages that was stolen from a mission vehicle today.

From Elder Bell: "The Zone Leaders went to the mission office and picked up Christmas packages, and their truck got broken into and everything was taken. They said there was a small package for me, but they didn't know who it was from, or what it was. Could you call mom and ask her if she sent it, or if somebody else sent it? Just ask around because the Mission President is supposed to reimburse and buy us whatever it was or something like that."

We know there was at least one package for Elder Bell in there, and it wasn't one from his immediate family. So if it was your package please let us know so we can get the information to the Mission President.

Thanks,
K.C.

December 16, 2012

Random MTC Pictures

Elder Bell sent me some pictures that either didn't fit with any other letter, or the related letter was a few weeks back so I thought I would just post them here so everyone can see them.


Getting "hurt" in the MTC (joke)
Elder Bell's MTC District
A little excited to leave the MTC

December 10, 2012

Email Q&A 12/10/12

I happened to be online while Elder Bell was at the library for his P-day, and I was able to rapid-fire some questions back and forth with him for about an hour. Here are some of the things I wanted to share with everyone:

Q: Hey can we talk over email back and forth, or is that against mission rules?
A: I don't think it is... (good enough for me!)

Q: How much time do you have for email on your P-Days?
A: We get three hours on the computer at the library

Q: Wow! That's a lot more time than you got in the MTC. Why do you get so much more time?
A: I think they limit the time in the MTC because they don't have very many computers

Q: What is the prayer pamphlet thing you keep talking about? You made it sound like a lot of missionaries haven't used it. Is it part of a new program at the MTC?
A: It's just a pamphlet we can give out to people, and in the back it describes the feelings of the Holy Ghost from Galatians 5:22-23. I'm like the only missionary out here that uses it ha ha, but it is very successful! They have a bunch of them for different topics, the Doctrine of Christ, the restoration, tithing, law of chastity, word of wisdom, etc. Elder Monk brags about me to his other people and always says I'm a beast with using them because they never fail to feel the spirit!

Q: Are you getting a lot of mail and love out there from people back home?
A: I've written quite a bit of people but haven't heard back from many. Will you post something on Facebook about writing me or something ha ha with my address cause I love mail!

Q: Do you need anything else?
A: Please ask everyone to send any Church CDs that they have my way!

It was awesome talking with Elder Bell and getting some faster responses to the questions we had. If you have questions of your own, submit them as a comment and I can try to ask Elder Bell in our next letter or Q&A session ;)

Email 12/10/12 - First Week in the Field

Here's Elder Bell's letter from his first week in the field:
Hello everybody!!! First off my address for now, and for the rest of my mission will be the mission office, they will get the mail and forward it to our apartments, so that way it's easier for everybody and there won't be lost mail after we move areas. I hope everyone is doing well, I'm doing amazing! I have to go through my journal and write out bullet points of what i'm going to email about so i don't forget anything. So I might be all over the place. It's so gorgeous out here, it's about 75 degrees during the day and 50's in the night so it's really nice weather. I am serving in the San Bernardino 4th Ward South area. It is SOOOOO Ghetto out here, But I love it, I love every minute of it.

"Prettiest view in the ghetto"

My companion's name is Elder Monk, he's from Virginia and he's an awesome guy i'm learning a lot from him. Just so you know everybody out here is lazy and calls San Bernardino "San B", so if you hear me say that just know i'm talking about San Bernardino. So we got what you call white washed into the area, that's where its two new missionaries in the area, so they don't know whats going on or who to talk to, but luckily Elder Monk served in this ward before but in the north mission so a lot of the members and some of the investigators he knows or is at least acquainted with.

So like I said before, it is super ghetto here, we are the white minorities haha. I've yet tracted an area with white people answering the door, but that's fine I like black people. San B's crime rate is second in the nation behind Detroit, and the city is bankrupt so There are a lot of robberies. They have what is called the "Ghetto Bird" and it's a helicopter that flies around looking for wanted people, or for gangs, its really fun stuff. Yesterday we heard gun shots and a car peel out, luckily we weren't very close to it. You hear sirens constantly, not even kidding, You hear at least twenty sirens a day. They have a medicinal marijuana shop in our area which really sucks because you're allowed to carry 3 ounces of pot on you. So that will be hard to teach people not to smoke later on. Everybody is always high. The crappy thing about that is, is that cops aren't going to stop people because its so easy to get a medical card for it, they say you can go in and say my back hurts and they'll give you a card. Oh yeah, I don't know the real stats on it, but since the city is bankrupt they laid off 70 cops, so there is rumors of there being only two cop cars, kinda scary, but the lord will protect!

Elder Escamilla is in my zone, him and his companion actually serve in the same ward as us, so we see them daily, that's really nice to see a good friend often. We all eat dinner together too. So we have breakfast and lunch by ourselves, but every night the members feed us. It's so nice to not have to cook every night! The food the members serve us is so good and they feed us so much, but I'm pretty confident I won't gain to much weight! :) Me and Elder monk live in an apartment, that smells like somebody left a dead body in there for like a year covered in poo, it seriously stinks So bad!!

Stinky Apartment
Living Quarters
Study Zone
Cereal Storage
The Ward we are in is really good, they all help out a bunch and help with missionary work. I know for sure when I get back I'll go out on splits with the missionaries so we can bring fellowship to the investigators where we live, it's so important to bring members to lessons so they have a friend after the missionaries leave. So my first week has been pretty amazing, the Lord has blessed me and elder Monk in so many ways! The spirit has been constantly with us, and even though we were white washed, we have been having some great success! I'll tell you about some of our investigators.

Jaramiah: He is about forty years old, and he is homeless. He lives between two peoples houses in their car parking or Car port. He had been taught before by the other missionaries and he knew everything was true, but he couldn't give up smoking. He is really such an awesome guy, and its incredible the love you can develop for people when you haven't known them that long. He has now gone 13 days without smoking, and he now is getting baptized on 12/22/12 we are so excited for him and we continually think about him and keep him along with all of our other investigators in our prayers. We also visit him daily and share a short message with him. And if he needs it, we bring him grapefruit juice for him to drink because it helps him not smoke.

Billy: Billy is Jaramiah's neighbor, he would sit in on a couple lessons we had with Jaramiah but would mostly just play on his phone and didn't pay attention, we now are teaching him as an investigator and he has a baptismal date of 1/12/13 He is an amazing guy too, and I know this gospel will bring so much more joy into his life.

On our first day out in this area, we were going to somebodies house that was on our list of investigators who the missionaries before us had taught, but we got lost and couldn't find his house, so me and Elder Monk decided to Tract. The very first door we knocked on was this kid named Michael, and we kind of talked with him for about 15 minutes on the porch and asked if we could come back another time to teach more and he invited us right in to talk, We taught him the restoration of the gospel, gave him a Book of Mormon and taught him about prayer. (Elder Monk is so impressed with how well I can teach prayer from the pamphlet) We got him to pray, it was his first prayer he had ever said in his life on his own, because he had only said recited prayers in the catholic church. We committed him to pray, read the BOM, and come to church. It was an amazing first day in the field.

Jaramiah has been going strong with the smoking, he has now gone thirteen days without smoking. (you have to go a week to be baptized) Jaramiah is an awesome guy he comes to church every Sunday and every once in a while when we are teaching Billy, He'll come in and be our third companion and back up the things we say.

The other day We stopped by Jaramiah's to share a short message with him and see how he is doing, because we like to visit people daily to let them know we care and see how they are doing. It went from a five minute lesson, to an hour lesson because Billy was there and he had a question about being baptized. He asked if he could get baptized for his brother that passed away too. And we told them about baptisms for the dead and how they can receive the Aaronic Priesthood a week after their baptism and then go do baptisms for the dead for his brother. He had some other doubts and was really down about his brother, the spirit told me that I needed to tell him about Dad and Jamie. I told him the story about how I lost them, and yeah its tough, But I don't have to worry, I get to spend Eternity with them, I have nothing to worry about, I told him that this life is going to be so short compared to all of eternity, Yeah it sucks sometimes and I miss them, But when I do the holy ghost comforts me and lets me know that I'll get to see them again and live with them for all eternity. Now that was a big step for me, because i don't like talking about Jamie, I can talk about dad but it's harder to talk about Jamie for me since I was a little bit older and We were closer when she had died, But the spirit told me that's what he needed to hear, and it ended up being an awesome spiritual experience. By the end of the lesson, we had all shed our share fair of tears.

On Saturday me and elder Monk took Jaramiah and Billy out to lunch, it was really fun and we had some good laughs, Jaramiah is a funny guy! After lunch We taught billy about the restoration and about prayer (of course with the pamphlet) We shared how the spirit can testify to him that it is true, and he said he knew, he said he felt the spirit when we come over, when he prays, and when he reads the BOM. It shocked me, but I was so happy to hear that he had already had a testimony of his own.

Philip is an investigator we have that doesn't believe in Christ, I don't really know what went on when we met with him, the spirit definitely led the lesson but we started out the lesson with him not believing in Jesus, to him having a baptismal date, the 29th. He suffers from depression and is bipolar but we're working with him really hard and the Lord is too.

Michael the kid we met with the first day, we had an appointment set up with him on Saturday but he wasn't home so we went over last night, and he answered the door, and just starts walking at Elder Monk and I thought oh crap, he's gonna punch him, but he didn't he just kept walking and went out to the street and sat on the curb. We kept calling his name but he kept ignoring us. We went to him and tried talking but he still ignored us so we left him with a pass along card and our number on it, and left. We were so confused I don't know what happened or why he was doing that. He had such potential, but he didn't want to meet with us anymore I guess, but hey that's missionary work I can't get discouraged.

Yesterday only Jaramiah showed up at church out of the 5 people we had committed to come to church only 1 showed up so that was pretty sad, but we're not giving up on them and we'll continually call/visit them daily.

We have an investigator named Jessie, and her boyfriend is a member and they live together, and she is so ready to be baptized she knows a lot, and is ready to join the church, only problem is is that they live together, so this week the bishop is going to talk to her boyfriend and work something out, I think he even wants to have the bishop marry them and then we can baptize her. If everything goes as planned, we'll have 4 baptisms this month. We're going to try pushing Billy's to the 29th because he is ready to be baptized, we didn't know he would progress so fast!

Thank you everybody for all of the love, support, letters, and prayers! I've been truly blessed out here! I love letters so please write me, or email me and I promise I'll write back! Love you guys!

Elder Landon Bell

December 6, 2012

Letter From the Mission President

We received a letter from the Mission President today along with some pictures of Elder Bell's group of missionaries that arrived on Tuesday:
Dear Sister Bell,

We wanted to write to you and express our gratitude to you for sharing your son, Elder Bell, with us for the next two years. We have enjoyed meeting him. He is a fine young man and we have enjoyed our interactions with him and look forward to many more.

We met the arriving missionaries at the Ontario airport. Elder Bell, along with 7 other Elders and two sisters, arrived at the airport about 12:30 Tuesday, December 4. They looked amazing in their new clothes, white crisp shirts, new suits and shined shoes. While we were waiting for their luggage, we had a quick visit with each of them. They were excited and just a little uneasy, (maybe more than a little) wondering what was happening next.


The assistants to the president (AP's) arrived in a pick-up truck and a van, and with our car, we could fit everyone and their luggage in, and we were on our way to Glen Helen Park at the mouth of the Cajon Pass. I took a sack lunch for the missionaries to eat while Sister Mills, a local church member and historian explained to the missionaries how the area of San Bernardino had been settled. The first settlement efforts were conducted by Spanish missionaries, and Spanish landowners starting about 1810. During the U.S. Mexican war the Mormon Battalion (the only religiously based battalion in U.S. history) was organized in Iowa in 1847 and after a march through what would become the Southwestern part of the U.S. it arrived in San Diego and was eventually stationed in what would become San Bernardino and the surrounding areas. Jefferson Hunt, a Captain in the Mormon Battalion was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints as were all the members of the battalion. Since many people call Church members Mormons, the Battalion was known as the Mormon Battalion. Among its’ many assignment’s, a portion of the Mormon Battalion was sent to guard the Cajon pass and protect it from possible marauding indians. After the members of the Mormon Battalion were mustered out of their service, they returned to Salt Lake City to join their families. President Young saw that Southern California could be a valuable supply route for the Utah pioneers. So to establish a mail route and a supply stop/route for immigrants coming through California, President Young used church funds to buy property in the desired area from Antonio Maria Lugo, a Mexican rancher who had obtained a 35,000 acre grant after Mexico won independence from Spain. Twenty families were asked by President Young to colonize the area. Fifteen former Battalion men and their families were among the Saints who settled in the area in 1851, including Captain Jefferson Hunt. It was the third stake organized in the church. The story of the settling the area here in San Bernardino was told in a story written by Sister Mills for the February, 2003 Ensign, if you are interested in reading more about it.

Elder Bell with the Mission President and his wife
After the experience at the park we took the new elders and sisters to the mission home for a short orientation meeting. Sister Carter arrived with their MSF (Missionary Support Fund) cards and explained to them how they worked and what to purchase with them. Elder Houser arrived and told them about the vehicles in the mission and we showed them some entertaining DVD’s made by the church with some serious expectations explained in part by some of the 12 apostles. Sister Ball, our mission nurse, also arrived to meet the missionaries. We will do a more detailed meeting on December 18, when they will have more questions and be able to more fully understand what we will need to explain to them. The office staff will be there as well to explain how things work in their areas of responsibility. President and I spent some time with them answering questions and explaining our expectations of them as missionaries. We also let them just relax a while. We took them to the mission office so they could see where their mail comes to and to see their pictures and areas on the transfer board. That evening we had dinner with them at the mission home. President also talked to them about some of his expectations of them as missionaries and role played with them some different scenarios. We laughed and enjoyed one another's company until we were all tired. We then had them get bedded down for the night. Everyone was exhausted and fell right off to sleep after writing in their journals. The next morning we cooked waffles and put things away while President had initial interviews with them. About 10:30 a.m. their trainers arrived and President talked to all of them about the 12 week training program. For lunch we had hamburgers and hotdogs out on the patio and everyone ate and got acquainted.

Can you guess which one is his trainer?
Following lunch we had a testimony meeting with them. It is always inspiring to hear the new missionaries and their trainers bear testimony of the work they are and will be involved in and their testimonies of the Savior and His atonement. About 3:30 we sent them off to their areas to begin, in earnest, their missionary efforts. They were all happy to get out in the field to start finding and preaching the gospel.

We are looking forward to working with your missionary in this most wonderful of experiences - preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the people in this area. There is a lot of diversity here. The missionaries will learn a lot about other cultures. We know he will be a fine missionary. He is a wonderful young man.

Attached are some pictures we took on Tuesday upon their arrival, and on Wednesday, December 5h. We knew you would be interested in seeing the pictures of your son and his companion.

Elder Bell and Elder Monk. He's so tall!
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact either one of us.

Also, if you do not know, we have a mission blog where I put pictures of the missionaries from time to time. I don’t have a lot of time to work on it, but try to update it every week or so. I am sure your missionary will have pictures on there as we associate with them and have pictures sent to us. The address for the mission blog is: http://sanbmnews.blogspot.com.

Warmest regards,

Sister Godwin
President Godwin

We look forward to hearing from Elder Bell on how he is settling in and getting along with his new companion!

December 4, 2012

To the Field!

Elder Bell left the MTC today and is on his way to San Bernardino. He was assigned to be the travel leader for his district, and was able to call home and talk with his mom for a while. She said "I have never heard him talk so much in one sitting!". It sounds like the training Elder Bell received in the MTC has already helped him start to open up and become more talkative. Mom reports that he said he "ate dessert for every meal, but still lost 2 pounds in the MTC." It must have been all that basketball he played!

We look forward to Elder Bell's next letter to find out about his Mission President, trainer, and more. Stay tuned!

November 29, 2012

Email 11/29/12

Here is Elder Bell's last email from the MTC before he leaves to California next week:
Hey Everybody!

It's my last P-day in the MTC! Time is going by so fast! The days go by kind of slow, but when you look back at it, it doesn't feel like I've been here for just a little over two weeks! I'm loving the MTC so much, way more than I thought I would from everybody explaining to me that it sucked ha ha. Me and my district are really getting along well, I've made all of the elders in my district cry from laughing ha ha. We laugh so much and goof off a lot during our breaks, but we are serious and spiritual during the times of need and during study time and class.

Thanks everybody who sent me one of those notes for Thanksgiving! It was great to hear from everybody, and it really made me happy to get mail. I've never been so excited to get mail before I went on my mission, and now it's like Christmas going to the mail boxes! Thanks for the packages mom! Do you want me to get fat? Ha ha all of my district and branch enjoyed the cookies I couldn't have eaten all of them by myself!

So I think I mentioned something in my last letter about Matt (our teacher Brother Shumway playing an investigator) but things weren't going so hot, and he was being really hard with us. Over the Thanksgiving weekend we worked really hard and studied a lot, and now we work really well together as a trio me, Elder Escamilla, and Elder Browning. We started out bad with Matt, and from one lesson we committed him to be baptized. We use a really good method when we teach people to pray. We have something in a pamphlet and it tells you the importance of prayer and how they can be answered and it explains how the Holy Ghost will talk to them. There is a verse in the bible in like Galatians 5:22-23 I think? Don't take my word for it, but it describes the feelings you'll get, peace, joy, etc. After we have them pray we have them sit there for a bit probably about 15 seconds to let them ponder and just think about what they are feeling. And so far it hasn't failed, after each person we have done that they always say they are feeling some kind of feeling that is described in the verse and then we continue to tell them that it's Heavenly Father answering their prayers through the Holy Ghost, telling you the things you asked for, and that this is the true church.

I have a lot of stuff to write about so I might be jumping all over the place because I just made a list of things i have to write about. So me, Elder Browning and a couple elders from our district like to sing, so we decided in our free time we were going to mess around and make an a capella group for fun, we're terrible but its fun and its way funny. "Here comes Treble".

Mom you asked if I saw Jayne's Brother and I see him every once in a while, he teaches right down the hall from me!

Jayne! I heard your papers are in!!! Let me know where you get called, or somebody else let me know!!

I run into quite a bit of people I know here in the MTC but i'm not really close friends with them at all. We finally get to go to the Temple today! We have temple walks every Sunday where we just go walk around the temple, but we've never gotten to go in. It's weird from going from going everyday to not going in two weeks! We have gym everyday besides P-day and Sundays, I usually play basketball. I hurt my left knee, and my left shoulder, But i'm okay! they're just sore, my knee just feels like its twisted and its a little sore in the mornings but i'm fine.

So our branch and floor was really annoying at first when we got there, but we soon grew to love them. They were all so funny and we all cared about each other. It was sad this weekend when they were getting ready to leave, we all sang till we meet and it was a great experience with some great guys. I'm going to miss all of them! But the new kids came in yesterday and we were having a great time with them last night laughing and telling stories I know we'll get along.

I leave on Tuesday!!! I cannot wait! Mom, and rest of family, I'll be at the airport around 9 my flight leaves at like 11:50 so be expecting a call. Mom, KEEP YOUR PHONE OFF OF VIBRATE I know you forget, but I'll be calling on a payphone and you need to answer the first time because It costs money to make each call.

Thanks for sending the ties, everybody is jealous of my sweet bear tie!

I've been studying a lot lately, most of it is out of Preach My Gospel, but I'll still read a little bit of the Book of Mormon when I have extra time. I actually just finished it for the second time and so now i'm going to be starting over again.

We all came up as a district with spirit animals, and everybody's is something way cool, I chose house cat ha ha.

I heard I didn't miss much with the Utes, I'm disappointed on how bad they did!!

This week I think it was Tuesday, We had TRC and it was a less active member, Named Kylie, and she had her home teacher over Sue (This is all in the MTC we don't leave campus for this) we asked why she had stopped going to church and her dad had passed away when she was fourteen, and she thought God had abandoned her so she stopped going to church. We were telling her that God loves her and she wouldn't believe it, I got a feeling, and I acted upon it. She was saying how hard it was to lose a family member, and then I asked a her a question: "Kylie, do you think you'll see your dad again?" and she said she didn't know. Asking questions are amazing, it lets them think of the answer and let the Holy Ghost speak to them instead of just telling them and them not paying attention. So after that I explained to tell her how I lost my Dad, and it's not easy, But I know without a doubt in my heart that I will see him again. We continued with the lesson and as things got better, she asked me how I handled losing my dad, and I told her that, God has a plan for everybody and it was just his time to go, and because I know I will see him again, it doesn't make me sad, my dad has watched over me and protected me every day since he passed away, he is my guardian angel. Everybody was crying, the spirit was so strong and I know the spirit was telling her what I was saying was true, and she will be reunited with her dad. We explained that she had to go to church to take the sacrament, to be able to renew the covenants she had at baptism, we also got her praying again, and committing to read the Book of Mormon and pray and ask it it's true. It was such an incredible experience. We were struggling as a Trio but we finally had the success we were all craving. Real or fake investigator, it grew my testimony and gave me more experience. That was the first time I just opened my mouth and the Holy Ghost led me on what to say, and when to say it.

Yesterday we had some awesome experiences too, We taught our teacher playing an investigator, and she was really stubborn the first time we met with her and that was like a week and a half ago and we hadn't taught her again until yesterday. We went it and started teaching her everything was going awesome, when it came to the time when we asked her to pray we did the thing I explained earlier with the pamphlet and having them pause after the prayer so they can think about their feelings. The Holy Ghost ripped that lesson right away from us and led it. It's awesome when the holy ghost teaches the lessons and you have the spirit of discernment to meet the investigators needs. After we finished the first word she said was "WOW! Where did that come from? You guys have learned so much this past week!" She said "you guys definitely have the spirit with you". She then said "After I said my prayer and looked up at you three folding your arms and with your eyes closed I thought to myself, These are servants of the Lord". It was such a great experience. I can't even explain how much importance it is to have the spirit, you just open your mouth and words come out. I don't remember anything about the lessons or what we taught about, I just know that the Spirit worked through us. You have to be humble about your success too, and don't gloat to other people in the district about how well you did. You just have to thank the Lord for letting the spirit be there with you, and teaching. One of the kids I met here, that we became really good friends with told me to never take the credit, always give the credit to the Lord. I just got back from a studying tutor and we read a verse in Alma 17:9-10 and it explains how the sons of Mosiah are just instruments in the Lord's hand. And we applied it to ourself, that we are just tools. We are tools and the Lord is using us with his work, We can't convert people without the Lord, As tools, we can't work or convert without somebody using us. Anyways, Sister Peets went on to tell us that she hasn't ever seen a trio work as well as we had all worked together.

Later yesterday we were in class talking about the law of chastity, and everybody paired up to role play or pretend like somebody is an investigator while the other teaches them. And role playing is awesome it helps so much, and sometimes it feels so real and can build your testimony. So everybody paired up and Brother Shumway asked to role play with me and I kind of sat there for a second trying to think of what to say, and I was really stumped. He said we should say a prayer to invite the spirit. As soon as he said Amen, I started out with a question, I don't remember what the question was, or what we even talked about, or what I said to explain to him it was bad and we need to follow that covenant. All I know is that the Holy Ghost took over again and I taught really well. Brother Shumway asked where that was when we role play with our investigator Matt and he didn't think I had that in me. After he was done evaluating me, he told the whole class "Elder Bell Balled it up!" Ha ha it was such a neat experience. The church is true!!!!!!!

Last night we had TRC with this guy named Eric a Bible-basher and those went bad because all he does is ask questions and he has one of those translated bibles that like explain everything so anything we try to teach he would just fight back. But that isn't what was important yesterday. After we taught Eric, Elder Browning saw a guy he had taught before his companion had left so we went into the room he was in and ended up just talking for an hour and a half, we talked to him about so many things, we would go from laughing, to teaching him, to crying because the spirit was so strong. He lost his son and felt like God has betrayed him too, just like Kylie the investigator I was talking about earlier. I didn't say anything about dad or jamie, but i bore my testimony on how he'll be able to see his son again and we explained baptisms for the dead to him. And we got him to pray and this was where it was neat. It was his first prayer in fifty seven years. It was so heart felt, and you could tell he was sincere and had real intent on finding out if what we were telling him was true. It was amazing. When he opened his eyes after the prayer we were all crying and then continuted talking about other stuff and laughed more. It was a great night! When we left he gave all three of us hugs and said he wants to fly out to California so he can get baptized, and then take us to Disney Land ha ha. Anyways I've gotta go!

I love letters! Anybody feel free to write me! :)

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

November 22, 2012

Email 11/22/12

Elder Bell's Thanksgiving email:

Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

I just finished my thanksgiving dinner at 11:45, we have sack lunches tonight so the workers can go eat with their families. Today we had a devotional, and Elder Holland came and talked to us, he is amazing and definitely my favorite! There were a couple quotes he had that really caught my attention about missionary work.
"From the time you wake up in the morning, to the time you go to sleep, your life is dedicated on saving peoples souls, and that's the most important thing on this universe."
"Whatever you think this church is going to be, whatever you think the kingdom of god is going to be, you're underestimating it."
"There is going to be the ones that finally win, and they are in the MTC this day, on Thanksgiving 2012.... They are destined to win, it's finally going to work, This is the day and you're the troops. Go out and win this for the last dispensation to ever be on earth."
It really gives me a lot to think about! He is such an inspiration and just having him in the room was incredible. We start out every devotional fifteen minutes before it starts we all sing together, and that brings the spirit in, all of the missionaries in one big audience singing, it brings tears to my eyes every time. Music really does invite the spirit, and Elder Holland testified of that today too.

We are doing a humanitarian project today, making like 4200 kits and sending it somewhere, we haven't got that many detail, but i'm just glad even on thanksgiving, we can do service. Service has become one of my favorite things, helping others and seeing their reaction to the help, or just knowing how much you were able to help them makes me really happy!

So I wrote some stuff down I wanted to talk about in my email yesterday that I forgot, hopefully I remembered it all.. The first day we got into the MTC we had a devotional, and they announced that it was the biggest group of missionaries most of the workers have seen come in since they started working there. A bad thing about the MTC is our sleep schedule, going to bed around 10:30 (falling asleep around 11:00) and then waking up at six thirty. Its hard to go from having nine to ten hours of sleep to barely even eight. We try and help each other stay awake by throwing stuff at each other when we see somebody dozing off. Me and Elder Escamilla were able to help bless the sacrament on Sunday and that was really cool. Its amazing just having a room full of worthy elders and sisters and how strong the spirit can be. The food here is really good, and you can eat however much you want! There is dessert on every meal, and I can't pass it up. Don't worry ladies, I weighed myself last night and I weigh the same! ;) hahaha I was really surprised I hadn't gained any weight but i'm happy about it!

The Traditional Missionary Map photo

On Thursday night we met our branch president, President Gamette, he had us all in his office one at a time for interviews. He asked about my home life and family, I explained how my dad had passed away. He was really sorry about that and on to remind me that he would be definitely helping me out in the field, and is way proud of me. After our interview I went to shake his hand, and he gave me a big hug and said: "That's from your dad." The spirit was so strong and I could tell dad was in the room. Ever since then I have loved President Gamette, he's a way nice guy, and really sweet. You can tell he genuinely cares about each and everyone of us missionaries in the district.

A big thing that me and Elder Escamilla and Elder Browning have been struggling with, is teaching by the spirit. They always say "you don't teach lessons, the spirit does." and that is 100% true! We were struggling for a while with our investigators and we were sticking to the lesson plan too much. We weren't showing any care towards the investigators. Although we did care and love the investigators they couldn't tell it, they kind of felt like we were trying to convince them, and wasn't applying it to them, so why would they care about some guy who translated a book? We now have come to a better method, finally! We go in and ask a lot of questions showing we have an interest in them and get to know them better. When we ask how religion has played a role in their life we learn their religious background and come to find what they need help with. We have many other good questions we have learned to make it more personal for the investigator, so they want a reason to know for themselves, and not just because we are telling them. Last night our TRC guy wasn't here and there was this guy who filled in for him. (Some of the investigators are real, but most of them are fake and good actors) anyways, We had this guy named Sio Chung. He was asleep when we knocked on the door, I don't think he was faking because we knocked like five times, and then finally pounded on the window to the room to wake him up. We went to tell him how his heavenly father loves him and asked how religion has played a role in his life. He told us he was taking some Old Testament classes at BYU but didn't really believe, or know that God existed. He said I know people in Korea that get answers from their prayers, and that like 30-50 people would go out to a barn and do some ritual and commit suicide. He asked Why does god tell his children to kill themselves? We explained that, that was Satan telling them that and that God loves all of his children and would never want them to kill themselves. After going back and forth from answering his questions we taught him how to pray, we told him how it's done and I said a prayer before him to show him how it's done. I remember his prayer he said: "Dear Heavenly Father, Are you there? Please.. Um.. Let me know if you existing or not.. These missionaries are here and telling me to pray and you are real, So are you existing? In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen." We asked him how he felt and he said really comforted and he was happy, and at peace. He asked if he could do it again, but we were out of time, so we told him he could do it as much as he wanted when he had left. It was just amazing how we got this guy to not believe in God, to knowing as soon as he said amen, that the spirit was there and god existed. My companions think he was a real investigator because some of them are real.. But i don't know, it was definitely an amazing experience and we learned a lot from it, whether or not he was real. I hope everybody has a great thanksgiving! Oh yeah, My new companion to come into our trio reminds me of Remick. His personality, and humor are almost exactly alike! I love all of you guys, and don't forget to write me a letter, or send me Dearelders!

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

P.S. If anybody has any crazy, wacky, ugly ties... you should send them to me! I have this butterfly one I just traded for, it's awesome. This guy told me he'd trade me like 8 ties for it haha.

The "sweet" Butterfly Tie

Letter 11/22/12

Elder Bell's Thanksgiving letter:

Mom,

So I'm sure you'll get this at the same time you get my other letter, but even though I wrote you yesterday and today is technically my P-day I wanted to thank you for everything you have done. You are an amazing mom, and I'm really thankful for you! I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving.

It was really hard spending my first holiday away from home, but being in the MTC and having companions and districts that love me really helps, along with the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Well it's bedtime so I've got to go. I just wanted to wish you a happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

November 21, 2012

Letter 11/21/12

Elder Bell's letter home the day before Thanksgiving:
Mom,

Thank you so much for the cookies and the candy! It made me way happy to see you didn't forget about me, ha ha just kidding. Me and my companions will really enjoy them. I don't know if you saw in my email I sent today, but I got put into a trio after one of the elders left early. Don't worry, I'm sticking strong!

I've already learned so much, yet I feel like I haven't even learned a lot if that makes sense? I made it through week one and I'm loving it! Feeling the spirit all day is amazing. Thanks for the letter you sent in the mail. I liked your stickers, and I hope you liked them on the one I sent you last week! By the way, just about everybody loved my polka-dot tie! People were complimenting me left and right!

I fly out on Decmber 4th at 11:30AM, so be expecting a call from me on that day earlier!

Thanks for the letter you snuck into my suitcase, it was really good to read something from Momma Bell the first day I was in the MTC. Remember if you ever get down, Heavenly Father loves you and he will comfort you with the Holy Ghost. Mosiah 24:14.

I love you mom, and I love this gospel. Being a missionary is just amazing. I can't put in words the joy I feel.

I love you mom, thanks for letting your "Wittle Wandon" to go out and serve the Lord!

Love,
Elder Landon Bell

P.S. My P-Day in the MTC is Thursday. We got permission to write today since tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

Email 11/21/12

Elder Bell's latest letter reveals his first two embarrassing moments at the MTC, and talks about his first companion & district:
Hello Family!

How is everything going for you guys? Things here in the MTC are awesome! Hard, but awesome, I'm loving it here! I started out after saying bye to Mom and Amanda, to come into the MTC, after going through a maze of paperwork and getting information I finally got out and took my luggage to my room. The first day seemed like it took FOREVER it actually feels like one continuous day because it feels like you just take a five minute nap at night and wake up, so i'm super tired all day.

MTC Drop-Off
Missionary Tag and MTC ID Badge

My Companion is Elder Escamilla (double L in Spanish is pronounced with a Y) From Monroe Georgia, an hour out from Atlanta. He's awesome, me and him get along really well and have a lot of fun and are laughing a lot, but also spiritual at the same time and when it is needed.

Elder Escamilla & Elder Bell

The MTC is incredible, you feel the spirit all day and it's just amazing I can't really put it into words. The first day after orientation I thought I saw Matt Evans, a kid who I went to elementary with, and he was going in the MTC the same day as me, I hit some random kid in the shoulder and said whats up dude? I then realized that it wasn't him and got super embarrassed, now that kid gives me a weird look every time we cross each other. But soon after that happened was dinner, and it was beef steak, I decided it would be a good idea to hurry and eat as fast as i could and not chew my food.. I started choking on a piece of steak after it got stuck in my throat, i started coughing and trying to swallow it so i wouldn't choke anymore i kept coughing up spit but no meat.. I felt really bad because i was doing this in front of everybody while they were trying to eat. Me and elder Escamilla ran to the bathroom as i continued coughing up spit into my hand trying to hold it all in my hands and not get on my suit. We could not find the bathroom, I don't know why they decided to put like one bathroom in the biggest building that is impossible to find, so i was running from trash can to trash can coughing up spit/Throwing up. I thought I was going to die haha. I finally spit up two giant chunks of meat. After a bit of coughing after that I was fine, but it sure scared me! Me and elder Escamilla joke about how i almost died the first day at the MTC and every once in a while he'll tease me when we're about to eat he'll make sure to remind me to chew my food.

MTC learning is really hard, they kind of push you off the cliff and tell you how to fly, its effective learning, but its just hard sometimes because you get in situations which you don't know what to do. The second day we were here we were already teaching fake investigators about the first lesson. We have been teaching Matt (Bro. Shumway our teacher) and he's a Christian that is super stubborn and anything you say about the Book of Mormon he'll fight and say well the bible has that too, why do i need both? We've bared testimony to him we've taught him why and explained but he just isn't understanding. Its super frustrating too, because he accepted the Book of Mormon and why we needed it with the other elders and sisters in my district. And it's hard to stay positive when they are in there talking about how good it went, and how successful they are being when me and elder Escamilla are working so hard and not getting any success with it. Some of the sisters said maybe it's the potential they see in you so they make it harder.

Jeez I only have ten minutes left of email time we're timed here we get thirty minutes of email so i couldn't even read KC's email, or the two Bro Gramse sent me. So PLEASE if you want to contact or write me in the MTC, DON'T USE EMAIL we barely have any time Please write to my mtc mailbox, or use DearElder.com they print those out every day and we get them with our mail. So our Preparation or P-day in the MTC is on Thursdays but since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, we kind of get skipped so that's why i'm able to write today, i might be able to a little tomorrow, we'll see how busy I am. We also have to wake up at 5:20 AM tomorrow to do our laundry because we get skipped on our P-day.

I'll just go through an average day here at the MTC we'll wake up at 6:30 and prepare, study at 7, breakfast at 7:30, additional or personal study time from 8 to 9:30 then we'll have class until 12:15 after is lunch, then we'll do TRC (Training Resource Center), where we teach actors that portray investigators, then we'll have study time, classroom, gym (Best part of a day), and then another class, zone teaching, workshop, or study. You average about 3 hours of study time a day which is great because you can feel the spirit super strong, but its frustrating with my district, they are slackers and will be quiet for about an hour of the three hours that we study, so it's really hard to remain focused and concentrated. My district is Me, Elder Escamilla, Elder Browning (A part of our three-some companionship after his companion left home due to some personal and mental issues) Elder Langi (related to Harvi Langi - a running back for the Utes) Elder Hutchinson our district leader, Sisters: Whiting, Miller, Henry, and Zeneger. We are all really close and have grown to love each other and become closer to each other. There is a strong spirit in the room when they aren't being loud. I have actually gotten mad at them after many times of asking nicely to stop talking, and i've also emailed my branch president and he has talked to them so it has gotten a little better.

MTC District (Left to Right): Sister Whiting, Elder Browning (new companion), Elder Vincent (left early), Elder Langi, Elder Bell, Sister Miller, Elder Escamilla, Elder Hutchinson (Zone Leader), Sister Zenger, and Sister Miller

I hope everybody is doing great, and i'll try my best to email tomorrow if i get time, i'll have more time to write letters then email, so if anybody wants to write me, please do it via mail, or DearElder.com and i didn't get anybody's address, so everybody please email me your address and i'll write you guys when I have time! Thanks to those who have written me it means a lot, It's hard sometimes sitting in class and everybody else gets mail everyday or multiple things a day and i sit there with nothing a lot of the time so please write it would be greatly appreciated! I really am grateful for those who have written me, I love all of you guys, i'm already past my time, so I've really gotta go sorry i couldn't bear my testimony or anything right now i'll try to do it tomorrow and give you guys more information and send pictures! Happy Thanksgiving, can't wait to hear from you guys!

Love,
Elder Landon Bell