Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Judge Righteous Judgements

This week has been typically busy! We set a baptismal date, taught many of our friends and neighbors, and find more people to teach every day.

Darrell and kids; Kaylin and Jaden

We saw Darrell this week and read Alma 17 with his family. He and his kids LOVED the lesson. They admired Ammon’s courage and were on the edge of their seats waiting to learn how King Lamoni reacted to Ammon’s bravery. We left them on a cliff-hanger; they’re going to have to read the rest of chapter 18 on their own if they want to find out how it ends!

Kaylyn:

We saw Kaylyn tonight and reviewed the Restoration lesson again, since it has been a while since she heard it. At this point, her dad’s permission and a visit with his pastor are formalities - she has decided to be baptized! Isaak (recent convert) came with us to her lesson - he has always loved coming to Kaylyn’s lessons, and we know is continuing to learn a great deal right alongside her. When we asked Kaylyn tonight what the “Keys” in Matt 16 described, she answered “is it the priesthood?” We know that she’s learning! She loves this branch and is excited to be a member.

Aaron:

Aaron investigated the church about a year and a half ago, but discontinued meeting, feeling that he wasn’t ready to make the required changes to progress. As often happens, he found the things which were once so satisfying, eventually unfulfilling, and troubles in his life brought to him memories of the peace he felt when he was reading his Book of Mormon and meeting with the missionaries; as well as the kind members he met when he visited years ago. Upon meeting with us, he agreed to be baptized on Feb. 10th!

We also have two new (among many that we find every week!) investigators that we’re excited about: Jason and Nathan

Jason is a young professional, unsatisfied with traditional religion. He’s looking for faith that MOVES, and and a belief system deeper than ankle-deep prosperity-gospel.

Nathan is a PE-Teacher and accomplished cross-country running coach, and former college athlete. He is looking to increase his faith, and found the premise of the Book of Mormon compelling.

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Today is transfer p-day! Elder Airth is outta here! He’ll do great wherever he’s sent. I’ll be sticking around for another transfer at least - which is good, I really like this area!

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One of the alarming trends I’ve seen in the church (and something I’ve often studied) in the many places I’ve served is the increasing tendency among church members to claim that to judge another person’s behavior or beliefs is wrong. They do not want to speak out against homosexuality, gender dysphoria (transgendered behavior) marijuana legalization, the sweeping influence of violence in media, and other evils. They misuse the savior’s condemnation against hypocrisy in Matt 7:1-2 and misinterpret the words of the same Master who said “Judge not according to the appearance, but judge righteous judgment.”

This is misguided. Often in an attempt to get along with people with different (read: incorrect) beliefs, we fall victim to the same doctrine taught by an antichrist, Korihor, who taught that because we have freedom to choose there is no wrong choice. Because of a desire to be loved by the world, we often fail to warn our Brothers and Sisters about the sins they are committing, and too often people fail to warn us about the sins that we commit - all for fear of offending.

There is such a thing as an objectively wrong choice. There are some behaviors and actions that the Lord has condemned as wrong under any circumstances. It doesn’t matter how popular or “progressive” they may seem to be. It doesn’t matter if they are the choices of our friends or neighbors.

The Lord gave the Corinthians this counsel about judging, from which I think we can learn a lot:

“2 ​Do ye not know that the saints shall ​​​judge​ the ​​​world​? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
​​​​​3 ​Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?”

In these verses, Paul is counseling the Corinthians to live righteously that they may be better qualified to judge between each other.

So what do we do? We must do our best to lovingly inspire righteous action in ourselves and others. We must condemn all sin - in the classroom, in the courtroom, in public and in private.

Do you not think that the Lord had this day in mind, of permissiveness and denying the strict commandments which he has given - with some members of the church endorsing homosexuality and gender-dysphoric behavior - when he warned us (in the Bible no less!) about how divisive his doctrine would be?

“33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.
34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.”

The Lord always knew that his doctrine would be divisive and unpopular. I think verse 33 
(Above) should be considered carefully by those who refuse to take a stance on moral issues. If because we are unflinching in denouncing sin we are unpopular, we should not be surprised, since after all;

“18 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you.
19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.”

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Have a great week everyone! Hold to the rod!

Elder Derek Troy


Monday, January 8, 2018

What's this about a flu thing going around?...

Howdy Y’all!

I've been wicked sick this week. I don't get sick very often - once every two years or so - and it always knocks me down! We even stayed in from proselyting for a night. That's the first time I've had to do that on my mission! I'd usually try to tough it out, but I was afraid I would toss my cookies on somebody's porch.

Apparently there's some kind of flu thing going around? I'm a little disappointed that I got sick, since I've been immunized. But, whatever! 

IDK what the deal is, but I haven't been sick for this long in a WHILE. I got some probiotic gummies and I've been popping them like candy hoping to crowd everything else out! On the bright side, I'm pretty sure I've lost almost all of that holiday weight, as I've eaten two meals the last three days! (Staying plenty hydrated though, of course)

Nevertheless, we had a great week! Roy got baptized! We're so happy for him.

Here's an update on some of our investigators and pictures.

Roy:

Roy Morgan was baptized this week! His testimony that he bore after his baptism and after his confirmation blew us away. Phenomenal! 

Darrell, Jaden, and Kaylin:

Darrell's lessons have been going spectacularly! He has enjoyed the plan of salvation so much, that it has taken us four appointments to get through that lesson alone! He's full of questions. In a recent lesson, while we were connecting the fall of Adam and Eve to the principle of agency, he had a profound prompting from the spirit in Genesis 3:22

“And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil [...]“

Rather than the principle of agency jumping out to Roy, what stuck out was “us”. He wanted to know who this “us” was. We explained that in the KJV, “the Lord” is really “Jehovah” or Jesus Christ, and that Jesus was speaking to our Heavenly Father. He was amazed to think that they could be different people, and has spent hours poring over the scriptures we've given him out of the Bible and the Book of Mormon to help him understand.

In our last lesson, Darrell's son Jaden taught his Dad about the crucifixion, and the inverted crucifixion of the Apostle Peter. We talked more about the Atonement of Jesus Christ and had an opportunity to testify of Christ's divinity and love for us.

We're very excited for Darrell and his family!

Kaylyn:

Kaylyn is doing wonderfully! She's still a Book of Mormon reading machine, and is faithfully keeping all of her commitments! She was mired in the Isaiah chapters, so we moved her to Alma. Her only obstacle to baptism is still the objection of her father. She would be baptized now if it wasn't for that objection. Please pray for him, that his heart will be softened! We saw him recently, and he participated in a lesson where we read one of the Isaiah chapters from the Book of Mormon. 

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Have a great week y’all!

Elder Derek Troy




Baptismal Font











Monday, January 1, 2018

Happy New Year from Elder Troy

Friends and family,

No group letter from Elder Troy this week, but thought we’d give you an update on him…  

We spoke with him on Christmas day via video chat with him for nearly an hour.  We even got a chance to hear him teach us a lesson and were able to have family prayer together.  Technology is great!  The saddest part was when his dog, Buck, came over to the computer to find his voice.  Elder Troy called to him and he began searching frantically for his voice.  It was sad, but so cute how he missed him and KNEW him.  

He looks so good!  Tan, fit, handsome and healthy.  He is absolutely loving his area.  It is a small, country town that seems to largely have been able to avoid the pitfalls of the big city, Houston.  There aren’t the rampant problems of drugs, gangs, overt racism and poverty and it has been a breath of fresh air for him—quite literally, actually.  He loves the smell of fresh cut hay and farms.  Cowboy boots, rodeo and jeans are the norm.  He has acclimated so much that he has even bought his own boots.  Sadly, he only gets to wear them on Mondays (his day off, Prep Day or P-Day).

This last week has been most difficult so far, personally, for him as he has enjoyed the holidays with family and friends.  But…he has just 10 months left and he’ll be home!  Next time we’ll speak with him will be in May for Mother’s Day.  Until then, it’s letters, emails and packages.

He is happy, healthy and loving representing the Savior!

Thank you for your continuing love and prayers for him.  We appreciate you all so much!

JD & Terri Troy

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We taught Santa about the Book of Mormon!


Preach the gospel to every creature, even this tarantula.  Eww.


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New boots!
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Monday, December 18, 2017

A Truly Texan Week

I am LOVING Brenham TX. Let me tell you why!

The people here are industrious and kind, creative and principled. Most of them are converts to the gospel, so while they may have some small misconceptions, they have a zeal for missionary work and a love for the gospel. I love the people in this little branch.

Brenham is truly different than anywhere else I have served. Houston is really on a giant swamp, and at most any natural feature is 15 feet higher than the lowest point in town. There are no hills; the land is as flat as a mosquito infested pancake. That's a big part of why the flooding during Harvey was so bad.

To contrast, Brenham is in what is called “the Texas hill country”. It's really not much more “hilly” than anywhere else in the country, but it's a sight bumpier than Houston! 

While many of the buildings in town are pushing 100 years old, the city recently commissioned artists to come paint murals on the big, ugly, empty exterior walls and facades of the businesses in downtown. Some of the murals are REALLY cool - see the attached pictures - and it really brightens the otherwise dreary appearance of the shopping district.

Because of the industry here - oil, farming, manufacturing - trains run through town constantly. (I stinkin’ love trains, and our apartment is literally next to the tracks)

Much of our area is rolling hills - pasture for cattle or fields of hay. There are some wooded areas in-between, but not much. And what the members do with their property out here is just the COOLEST. They just have a different attitude about living and land.

A lot of the members build their own houses, and almost all maintain their own properties. They often live in a palacious farm house on 40 or 50 acres, on gravel or dirt roads 20 mins or so from town. Many of the members have animals ranging from the exotic like guinea fowl and ostriches to the more common cows and pigs. There apparently aren't any watershed laws here either, because half of the owners of these country properties dig a big pit to make a bass pond about 50 feet square - complete with tiny dock, of course. The cherry on top is that if you have something like 100 yards of consecutive property, you can legally fire a gun on it.

I would NEVER move to Houston, but Brenham is making me think hard about Texas!

And I admire the men here tremendously. They're all so talented and multifaceted! In our ward we have a rodeo roping star (our just released branch president), a gold prospector who was on that TV show a few years ago, a sculptor, and an equestrian specialist running a ranch with boarding for 50+ horses, whose wife is a renowned expert is some rare veterinary procedure involving horse fertilization - I think it's some kind of in-vitro breeding technique? 

The members here are the coolest!

But let me tell you about Blinn College - the only part of Brenham that I don't like. Texas A&M is an hour away from here. It's a good school, and somewhat difficult to get accepted into. Students there are called “Aggies”.

Blinn is easy to be accepted into. It doesn't have great academic accreditation. Students at Blinn are called “homies”. 

Get the picture?

There are parts of this town that are more 'hood than I was expecting - owing to Blinn college being here. A lot of our time is spent visiting people who have requested a free Bible online from Mormon.org and consequently, we spend a lot of time with people in sad situations who really don't understand (and sometimes don't care) how to change their circumstances. It's different than the urban poor I've seen so much of, but really the really the root problems are generally the same - alcohol, marijuana, lack of role models, and a twisted sense of sexuality.

And then, every so often, we get to go and visit a family out in the country, and the sounds and problems of the city are gone. The fog of car exhaust, weed, and cigarette smoke are replaced by the smells of hay and fresh air. What a blessing!

One night we made it out far enough that I thought I could faintly see the milky way for the first time on my mission. That same night we got to see an Armadillo! Apparently they're little menaces. I don't know about that, but they sure can run faster than I expected! That little bugger went into a loping gallop before I could get a picture of him.

Have a great week y’all!

Elder Derek Troy

P.S.  Allan got baptized! I found him and taught him most of his lessons, but got transferred and couldn't be there for his baptism. I heard it went awesome! No pics so far though, sadly.

Elder Troy happened upon a family member of a friend of our family.  Small world!





Houston Texas Temple after the snow storm of last week.



Elder Troy and his district made Christmas cookies for their neighbors.  



Monday, December 11, 2017

‘A snowball's chance in Texas’ OR ‘Congratulations! It's an Elder!’

Here is Elder Troy's new address if you'd like to send him a Christmas card or letter:

Elder Derek Allen Troy
1120 Green St, Apt #3
Brenham, TX 77833


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Howdy Y’all! 

This last week has been INCREDIBLE!

I was complaining on Tuesday on the drive to transfer meeting (while I still didn't know where I was going) that I would be okay going anywhere in the mission but College Station. For those who don't know, that's the town where Texas A&M University is, and the last place I wanted to go. It's nicknamed ‘temptation station’! There are just so many distractions there I did NOT want to deal with. 

On the drive over with Elder Johnson, he joked that I would go to the College Station zone, to finish training Elder Taylor's (who just finished his two years of service) trainee. We both laughed, because this was very unlikely. I hadn't trained yet, and had never been in that zone, let alone district, so I wouldn't take over the area with a new trainee.

Well, It's funny how things work out! I’m now finishing the training of Elder Airth, from Rexburg ID in the little town of Brenham TX. For missionaries, there's a lot of funny culture around training. When you're on your first day in the mission, you're “born”. Your trainer is your ‘dad’ and when you finish your mission you 'die’.

I guess Elder Airth is my adopted son?

THANKFULLY, I'm not in College Station proper. 

Brenham is the home of Blue Bell ice cream (which is a big deal in Texas) It's also the sort of little town where more than half of the men wear cowboy boots to church every Sunday, and a good number of them wear bluejeans with them.

It's a branch (a congregation too small to get the funding and organization of a Ward. Congregations of 60-80 instead of 150-300) with a very cool, quirky old building. The property adjacent is a small pasture with horses. On our drive to meet with the rest of the district each week, we drive past cotton fields - something I'd never seen before.

I was just settling into (and enjoying!) this new rural area, when we had another shock:

SNOW! 

This is the most it's snowed in Texas for about 20 years. We got a good 3 inches or so. Elder Airth and I took advantage of the opportunity and built a snowman with some neighbors. I finally had a good excuse to use the snow gloves I packed over a year ago!

I was sad to leave our 3 baptismal dates that we set in Westlake, but this area already has one at least! His name is Roy, and he has a 1947 Jeep pickup and likes motorcycles. We're gonna get along great!

Have a blessed week Y’all, and Merry Christmas!

Elder Derek Troy



Monday, December 4, 2017

A week of Blessings! And a transfer.

Hey Y’all! 

It has been a super blessed week here in Westlake! I'll be sad to see it go, because I've really enjoyed the members here, but I also enjoy the opportunity that moving gives me to reinvent and recommit myself. I won't know where I'm headed until late Tuesday morning.

This week has been Amazing. We had lessons with two investigators in different households, Delethia and Enedelia, who both accepted baptismal dates for Dec 30th! We gave Allan (who we set a date with last week) to the YSA (a congregation specifically for young single persons 18-30 years old) missionaries and it sounds like he's fitting right in! He'll be getting baptized on the 16th

To set three dates with three different households in two weeks is super blessed! I'll be sad to leave so that I can't see their conversions through, but I'm very happy to say this area is the strongest I've seen it.

Delethia's baptismal date was unusual. She couldn't meet in person before heading out to work, but we managed to fit in a meeting over Facebook Messenger's video chat feature. Can't say I've ever set a baptismal date over facebook before, but it was a super cool experience! 

I'm sad to say goodbye to Elder Simmons too, but I know the Lord has plans for me that can only be accomplished with my next area. I just hope I'm not on bike any more! Haha!

This week I studied a lot out of the Old Testament (my favorite) and read start to finish the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, and a few others. I studied specifically looking for the Sabbath day. It's unusual that we seem to be in a peculiar minority that keeps the Sabbath day holy and thus obtains its promised blessings. How can a city, state, and nation which claims (admittedly less often all the time) to be Christian ignore this member of the ten commandments?

Nehemiah 13:15-18 repeats what we learned in Exodus 20:10,  which teaches us that we should not do our labors on the Sabbath, nor require others to work on the Sabbath, nor even buy nor sell at all, for this requires others to work and profane the Sabbath. It's interesting that in Exodus, it goes so far as to teach that you shouldn't even make your cattle work on the Sabbath!

Before my mission, I had no problem pumping myself gas on Sunday, or buying something online, since it seems that nobody has to work to make those purchases, but with what we learn from Nehemiah I think I'll change that!

The Westlake ward finishes services at 5:30, so when we're driving home to change clothes and to go serve and proselyte, we drive past a dozen restaurants at dinner time each Sundays. It's unsettling to see several hundred thousand (maybe even a million or more?) people in this city go to church each week, and then an army of suits and dresses walking in at all of the BBQ joints immediately thereafter in what has become the southern tradition of Sunday dinner with the congregation. Truly this is the sin that The Lord warned Jeremiah against, when he cautioned:

“then will I kindle a fire in the gates thereof, and it shall devour the palaces of Jerusalem, and it shall not be quenched.”

I know that as we keep the Sabbath day holy, ‘turning from, nor finding thine own pleasure’ (watching the super-bowl/Sunday night football, anyone?) We will receive the blessings promised God's people (which is specifically the people who keep the sabbath in the first place, see Ex. 31:16-17) in Ezekiel:

‘I will cause thee to ride upon the high places of the earth, and feed thee with the heritage of Jacob thy father’  

Truly it is a generous God who blesses us all seven days of the week yet requires we completely devote only one to him. And truly it is a selfish and ungrateful man who cannot hallow the Sabbath once he understands this. I've committed myself to honor the Sabbath day for the rest of my life and invite you all to do the same.

Have a great week Y’all!

Elder Derek Troy




Elder Baker's Funeral (note the district's coordination, all wearing black!) 

A Parking garage we stopped at for pictures, to improve our moods after a car full of... hoodlums... yelled and swerved at us. Interesting how people behave when they know they can get away/escape. Anonymity does funny things to people.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Thanksgiving and a...hospital visit?

CAUTION!  Gross pictures ahead.  I’m not sending the hospital videos he sent.  Look at your own risk…

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Friends and Family,

No email from Elder Troy this week, just lots of pictures and videos.  

As you may have heard, we got a phone call on Thanksgiving morning from a member of the Church that he had taken Elder Troy to the hospital (yes, REALLY!).  Apparently, he and his companion Elder Simmons were playing touch football with some investigators and a few young men from church.  Unfortunately, the “touch” football went awry and his chin met another player’s head.  A complete accident.  A large gash was the result and he needed a few stitches to fix it.  Stitches done and a nice bandage later and he’s good to go to Thanksgiving dinner!

Last we heard he may have been transferred, so we do not know his new apartment address yet.  We will have more information when he emails this coming Monday.

Many of you have asked where and what to send to Elder Troy for Christmas.  He doesn’t need candy, ties or socks.  He told me to tell everyone that he’d LOVE personal letters and pictures from you all.  They are the best gifts you could send!  (If you just REALLY want to send something, gift cards to Walmart for laundry soap are most appreciated!)

The address to send any letters or packages is the mission home:

Elder Derek Allen Troy
Texas Houston Mission
16623 Hafer Rd.
Houston, TX  77090-4401

Thank you for your love and prayers for our son.  We appreciate you all so much!

Love,

JD & Terri

Post-injury at the Thanksgiving Bowl.  He’s already holding a towel over his chin.


Waiting to be seen.


Companion through thick and thin!  


Ewww.  Stitched up!


Later at a member’s home for Thanksgiving prep.


Those aprons are pretty cute!


Eating their hard work.


At another member’s home this week.


Parking garage somewhere in Cypress, TX.