Monday, May 22, 2017

Remember...

Hey Y'all! It's the beginning of week three in Oak Ridge.

This week was great - we finally started finding people! Over the six
weeks of last transfer, this area only found nine new investigators.
Tough crowd! But last week we found four. It's no Westfield, but
that'll do!

We also got the opportunity to go to the temple this week. It's always
a nice break from the rigors of the work!

While there, I received some personal revelation. In the ordinances of
the church, 'remember' is a very important word. In everything from
Baptism, to Sacrament, to the Temple, we are asked or required to
'remember'.

Remembering is something I have NEVER been very good at. I've
forgotten my own birthday once or twice. But if it's a question of
some obscure piece of history or neat factoid, it never escapes the
tin-foil trap of my mind. It occurred to me that whether we remember
something (or someone) is determined by how much we care about it.
Evidently, I don't care much about Birthdays, or names or a million
other things.

So I determined to start doing memory exercises, and asked the Lord
for help. In my first hour, I'd memorized all 13 articles of faith and
the 10 commandments.

It's almost like when we ask the Lord for help, we get it! Who would
have imagined?

Have a great week out there everybody!

Elder Derek Troy

Kicking back at a member's house after dinner.

Elder Troy and his new companion Elder James.  Awkward sun smiles...

Better...


Houston Texas Temple day!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Bye, bye, Westfield!


Hey y'all! I hope everyone has had a great week so far!

I DID end up getting moved - into the Oak Ridge Ward! It's a
country/suburban area. The people here are MUCH more difficult to find
because of the demographics. BUT, probably more dependable too :)

I was sad to see westfield go but I'm always excited to get to
reinvent myself in a new area.

Things will be different here, for sure! We found 2 new investigators
this week, instead of the 10 we usually found in westfield. My new
companion is Elder James. This is his last transfer, so I'll be
"killing" him. Then I might be training since I'll be companionless
and a bunch of new missionaries usually come in August.

One of the investigators already being taught here is Miguel. He's
been drunk since the elders found him it seems like. For a while, he
blamed his alcoholism on being Mexican. But Saturday night, the night
before mother's day, he opened up. He told us about his own Mother,
who was murdered tragically four years ago, and how hard each mother's
day is.

God loves us all enough to give us a mother. Our mothers love us
enough to be our moms.

No pictures yet from the new area except this crazy dog. His name is
maverick and he looks like the dragon from the never-ending story.

Have a great week everyone!

Maverick the Dog

Falkor the Luckdragon





Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother's Day Skype Session

Got to see and talk with Elder Derek Troy tonight! He looked tan and handsome!!! We added Evan to our Skype session so the whole family would be together again. Lots of laughter and love!
He's been transferred to an area about 30 minutes north and wanted me to pass along his new address for U.S. mail. I'll also send an update from him in his weekly email tomorrow, but give you this tonight.
Elder Derek Allen Troy
8900 Research Park Dr.
Apt. #1719
The Woodlands, TX 77381

derek.troy@myldsmail.net






Monday, May 8, 2017

Often disappointed, but never discouraged!

Hey y'all! This last week marked six months in the field. Time is
flying! And seems to be accelerating all of the time. My pre-mission
time feels like another life! This week has been marked by some
disappointments, which is a part of this work for sure! Often
disappointed, but never discouraged!

Dustin:

Dustin relapsed in his drinking again. He binged and when he binges he
has seizures and gets violently ill. We haven't seen him in about a
week. We'll have to postpone his baptismal date unfortunately. We
thought his drinking was done!

Dustin's roommate, Derek (the tender hearted may want to skip this one):

Derek was released from the hospital, since they can't provide him any
treatment as long as he refuses transfusions. His hemoglobin count is
down even further. The ambulance services have been instructed to not
come help since he refuses treatment. He spends every day curled up on
a mattress, wrapped in a blanket and waiting to die. The only
exception is when he drags himself to the front porch to smoke.

This is just another testimony to me of the profound evil which comes
when we don't follow the counsel of the word of wisdom, even in
ignorance. Every day we see lives which have been ruined or are being
drug down by the idleness and complacency fostered by Marijuana, the
illness and dependence caused by Tobacco, and the violence and crime
from Alcohol. There is no amount of any of those drugs, no matter how
small or occasional, which will improve anyone's life by their
recreational use, and their medicinal use is extremely overrated.

Octavia:

Octavia is doing AWESOME. As I believe I have mentioned, she and her
BF of 8 years who she moved down with from Detroit finally broke up.
This last week, he poured bleach in her gas tank and so she's moved
out and decided to press charges.

This has been good for her. She's closer to her married and more
stable friend; Bee, who Octavia successfully invited to join us for
the discussions. Octavia had high praise for us, telling Bee "these
guys are awesome. If you don't leave here feeling better today,
something's wrong"

We got to clarify the plan of salvation for them both. It's amazing
the clarity that modern revelation brings to the truths of ancient
scripture.

We found lots of new people this week and I'm excited for Elder
Mattson to continue working with them. I have been reassigned to a new
area! I don't know where yet, and won't be able to share with everyone
until next week.

Until then, letters should probably be held, as I may not get them
until Christmas.

I hope everyone is doing well! You're in my prayers. I'm so grateful
to be in yours.

Elder Derek Troy













Moving service project.





Elder Troy's kryptonite:  Beagle puppies!!!!

Monday, May 1, 2017

Monuments of Missionary Moronity

Hello friends and family!

Here is Elder Derek Troy’s latest letter.  The first part of the letter is an explanation about a picture he sent last week.  It appeared that he was destroying some boat.  Apparently he was.  Gah.  Anyway, he proceeds to tell us why they felt the need to end the ugly boat.

He is preparing to be transferred very soon to another part of Houston, Texas.  He isn’t sure where yet.  If you have any letters, you may want to hold them for another week.  Otherwise, his email is the best place to send communication for now.

As always, thank you for supporting our son.  He feels your prayers on his behalf!

We love you all.

JD & Terri

————————————
The picture I sent last week was a screen shot of a video where I wrecked this huge plastic boat with a Nalgene bottle.

Missionaries have this annoying habit of scratching their names on everything in sight. I’ll attach a picture of my desk as evidence. They're just frantic to be remembered for some reason. Maybe it’s because our time in each area is relatively short?

Anyway, some missionaries bought this huge boat as a result (missionary apartments are also full of trash like this) and everybody writes their names on it in sharpie when they go through the apartment. The Elders in the apartment across the street inherited it and got sick of it, and ditched it at our apartment. We definitely didn’t want it and decided to wreck it for a stress reliever on P-Day. It is an idol to missionary idiocy; a monument to missionary moronity. This Chinese junk (a type of east asian boat) was a pile of junk (a type of garbage collected by Elders) and we were so satisfied to destroy it. I've attached screen shots from the clip of its disintegration.

Regarding the missionary work:  It’s awesome.

Elder Mattson felt prompted to extend another baptismal date to Dustin during a lesson. I’m not so certain he was ready but now we're committed so we're going in guns blazing. Our last lesson with him also went really well and we both felt confident in moving his date even closer, but this last week hasn’t gone so well for him.

He didn’t keep his commitment to come to church Sunday unfortunately. He needs to come to prove that he's repenting to be baptized. He also didn’t keep our last appointment. He’s very ready but behaving flakily lately. We're all a little worried about him.

We’ve been visiting Dustin's roommate, Derek, in the hospital lately. He chain smoked himself into the hospital and may die if he continues to refuse blood transfusions. He suited up for the NFL chargers at one point in his life but ended up being homeless for what I understand to be about a decade and now seems completely lost.

Visiting the sick makes me feel like a real missionary, and admire all of the years of service Thomas S. Monson rendered before his calling as president of the church. As I study his life of service my testimony of his divine calling has been strengthened. He lived a life of extraordinary humility.

The week we're looking ahead to is something of a drop week. We’ll be ending work with a dozen or so investigators. It will be tough to drop people we care about but will free up time and energy to focus on people who are willing to act. Faith is a principle of action.  

I hope everyone is doing well in WA, UT, and elsewhere!

This is the last week you can send a letter to the mission office. Any mail after the 3rd or so needs to be held until I can send out my new address after transfers. I’m most likely moving but have no idea where yet. 

Thanks for all of your support!

Elder Derek Troy



Teva sandals tan/burn marks.  (Note the missing big toe thanks to the motorcycle accident of 2014–it’s a conversation starter!)
Phase One:  Size up the atrociously awful missionary signature boat.
Phase Two: Prepare for the death of the junk.

Phase Three:  Admire your destructive handiwork.
Cool spider Elder Mattson found outside their apartment.

Apartment desk with the remnants of missionaries past and present.  (I’m happy to see he kept the reindeer I sent him for Christmas.  It poops candy!)






Monday, April 24, 2017

DEFCON 1 Commitments

Hello Family and friends!

We are glad to hear that Elder Troy is having lots to do in Houston this week.  He tells us in our emails from him that he is getting ready to be transferred within the next two weeks out of his beloved Westfield, Texas.  It will be interesting to see where he goes.  I’m sure he’ll be sad to part ways with Elder Mattson.  Who else will he kill snakes with?

For now his regular mail address is:
16623 Hafer Rd.
Houston, TX  77090-4401

Email is:

He LOVES real letters and packages, so if the spirit moves you, go ahead!  Otherwise, drop an email his way and he’ll be happy too.

As always, thank you for your continued support of our son.

We love you all.

JD & Terri

————————————————-

Hey Y’all! 

Hope everyone had a great week in St. George, Washington, and everywhere else.

This week was a humbling example of how just out of our hands this work really is. 

Earlier this week I'd been thinking a lot about our old investigator, who I then called 'Darren' in earlier emails. I've decided to change this and use investigator's real first names, except for special cases. Darren's real name is Dustin. As Elder Mattson and I were leaving a somewhat unsuccessful appointment at an apartment complex, he mentioned that he was wondering about Dustin lately as well. After discussing it, he took it as a sign that we needed to go and visit him. When we stopped at his house, he was just sitting on his front porch! Obviously feeling depressed, he explained that he was barely able to get out of bed, was experiencing health problems, and felt like he was in prison again.He's living at a man named Richard's house. Richard is active in a local Baptist congregation (Which we visited a while ago for a service, actually) and was good enough to take in a couple of people who would otherwise be homeless. But Dustin feels trapped there. With no car, no ID, no job, and no money, he feels like his life is totally out of control. Until he relies totally on God, he won't see the blessings he needs. The good news, however, is that he hasn’t been drinking!!! Elder Mattson extended another baptismal date to him during our lesson (which came as a surprise to me!) so now we have him on date again. Fingers crossed! This time we're doing things differently. We expect him to act on his own and use his own agency. So we committed him to come to church this week and told him he needs to reach out to the member who usually gives him rides and ask for that ride himself. Unfortunately, Dustin did not use that agency and did not come.

But the Lord in his mercy sent JR and Anne Marie instead, with little 1 year old Marley in tow! JR and Anne Marie are the couple we've been teaching who did our eyebrows recently. We taught them a full restoration this last week and they were blown away. Anne Marie in particular wanted to know why, if the Bible itself carries evidence of missing scripture (at least 14 missing books, actually) more people don't use the Book of Mormon.

Beats me!

On Sunday night we were in defcon 1 (the highest level of defcon, a pet peeve of Elder Mattson and I, and commonly confused) because we were down on some of our commitments. Specifically "member present lessons". We had committed to 5 for the week but every time we had tried to make them happen, the appointment fell apart. We would take the member to the appointment and then it wouldn't happen. Super frustrating!  People can exercise their agency, and that does happen quite often. Perhaps 10% of the people we find keep their first return appointment. That's why we strive to find 10 people a week!

So it all came down to splits with the priests on Sunday evening. We did our best to make it all happen. And guess what? The Lord absolutely made it happen. With the priests we found 8 new investigators and taught 6 lessons in two hours. We had the best week (numbers wise) of either of our missions. We taught 20 lessons and found 13 people this week. Those are unusual numbers for an english speaking stateside mission.  The Lord watched us in our disappointment and sent us where he knew we would be the most successful.

This transfer I've had an epiphany about scripture reading. We always promise people blessings for reading the Book of Mormon, but I realized that I had been reading it casually to watch Heavenly Father pour out blessings. But many of the blessings are in the text itself of the Book of Mormon. That blessing comes as an increase of understanding (Alma 32:34), which leads to a greater peace (promised in the introduction of the Book of Mormon) in trials.  As I've read the text more closely, until every verse takes me several minutes to pore over, I’ve seen that understanding increase for myself. 

I invite everyone to see that same blessing for themselves, and watch their fortitude against temptation and their understanding about their individual purpose broadened.

Elder Derek Troy

Looks like a move or some cleanup project has gone slightly awry.

Inappropriately close district selfie.



Not sure what's happening here, but it kind of looks like a ship on fire? Is Elder Troy helping or hindering the burn? Hmm.

Elder Troy napping while his companion Elder Mattson makes the district calls.  Slacker.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Short and sweet!

Hey y'all! 

Hope everybody had a wonderful Easter! We had a great week, but nothing super noteworthy.

Here's a picture of our district. We're in what's called a 'relief society', because our district is all sisters besides us. It's a small district, just three companionships!

This week in my studies I stumbled across Chiasmus and Parallelism in the Book of Mormon. I'll spare everybody the details, but it's super interesting stuff! And more compelling evidence of a restoration. It came after I was praying for help strengthening my testimony of the Book of Mormon. It was a little like the fleece of Gideon! (Judges 6:37-40)

Have a great week everyone! Don't forget to read the Book of Mormon!

Elder Derek Troy
"Relief Society District"

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eyebrows on FLEEK!

Hey Y'all!

It was another great week out in the field of the Texas Houston
Mission. First, a tender mercy!

Elder Mattson and I were knocking doors in the same complex where that
man had a seizure a week ago (the Palms) when a young man in his early
twenties opens the door. Elder Mattson is more of a fashionista than
he would likely admit, and one of the first things he notices about
this guy is his sharp haircut. He compliments his haircut and then
we're chatting with him and his fiancé about styling. She mentions
that as a trained stylist she did his eyebrows, and Elder Mattson asks
if he can come over and get his eyebrows done, and we schedule an
appointment for Monday (P-Day) with Anne Marie and JR to get his
eyebrows done.

Fast forward to Saturday. On Saturdays we invite people to church that
we've seen earlier. We're always pressed for time on Saturdays, and
Elder Mattson and I debated whether to go invite Anne Marie and JR
since we merely had a passing interaction with them rather than a
lesson. We first visited their neighbor who we're also meeting with,
and walked past their apartment back to our car when the Holy Ghost
told me to go back. I debated with the prompting and yet again, it
told me to go back.

Elder Mattson agreed we should try them and so we did, intending to
simply invite them to join us on Sunday. When we knocked, JR opened
and somberly said it wasn't a good time. But Anne Marie rushed to the
door to tell us that she had just received news that her Mother had
just had a motorcycle wreck without a helmet, and was on life support
with 0% chance of recovery.

We visited with them for two hours and taught the plan of salvation
and restoration, bouncing back and forth to answer her desperate
questions. She poured her soul out to us - her troubled history as a
foster child, her search for happiness and misery in her sins.

Today we went back, as scheduled, to get Elder Mattson's eyebrows
done. We brought as much peace and happiness as we could. I even got
MY eyebrows done (something I never expected to do) and we laughed
together.

Today she took her Mom off life support. She says she wants to believe
us when we say her mother isn't in hell, and that her own daughter
will get to meet her grandmother. I can't wait for her to discover the
joy of the Eternal Family, which no 'til death to us part' faith can
explain.

Prayers for Anne Marie please!

On our splits with the priests we also found five people and taught
seven lessons in two hours to exactly reach our commitment. God is so
good to us!

We also took a district meeting picture (my hair went crazy), and I
hit my five month mark last week! Time is flying by.

Best of luck out there. Never take the gospel for granted!

Elder Derek Troy

Elder Mattson, fashionista, getting his brows done.

Crazy hair!

Listening to their mission president.

Car crashes and General Conference

Hey Ya'll! This week was packed with craziness. Car crashes and
general conference included!

First: The crash

Elder Mattson and I were in a lower income apartment complex called
"The Palms" early this week. This place is awful. Trash everywhere, a
dead cat sat in the parking lot all day before someone from management
finally got it, etc. We even had somebody tell us after we knocked on
his door "y'all are either Jehova's witnesses or some brave Mo-Fo's to
be knocking around here at night" which I guess means we're pretty
brave or something.

We were there for an appointment (who bailed) and were leaving around
11:00 in the morning. I was standing in the parking lot, backing Elder
Mattson out of his parking spot when I hear someone mat the gas pedal
50 yards or so down the parking lot. The driver then plows through
someone's back porch and slams into an apartment.

I grabbed Elder Mattson and we jogged over to go see if anyone needed
help. As we are going to the SUV, a guy paces past us, very angry,
muttering "now they're going to HAVE to get me a new apartment" as he
heads into the leasing office. Our first assumption was that he was
the driver and a disgruntled tenant. We walked into the wreckage and
checked the car for passengers though and found that the unconscious
driver and sentient passenger were still in the car.

The passenger informed us that they were okay, but his friend (the
driver) had a seizure. Just then the driver regains consciousness and
panics, flailing his arms and twisting his torso erratically, not yet
recovered from the trauma of the seizure. The passenger then begins
complaining that it is too hot in the wrecked car, and he needs to get
out or he will have a heart attack.

We help them out of the car and a whole fleet of tow trucks enter the
complex. There were probably four tow trucks at the scene before there
was ever an ambulance. The medical personnel were the least personal
and professional I have ever seen. The tow trucks were circling like a
pack of sharks. We were asked to stick around as witnesses, but ended
up not needing to give a statement.

The whole thing was a nightmare. I even ruined one of my last good
shirts with Mr Brown's (the driver) blood.

General conference though was awesome! We got to watch it with a
couple of our investigators, Damion and Dede, as well as a recent
convert family, the Morsons. I especially liked the talks by Dale G
Renlund and Gary E Stevenson. I'm excited for the transcripts! I'm
focusing on developing more Love and Charity, and this conference had
talks on that topic in spades!

We had to drop our investigator with a date, 'Darren'. After a couple
of weeks of trying, we couldn't get ahold of him, or speak with anyone
who lives in his house. He could have moved to Arizona, he could be
homeless, who knows. I really connected with Darren, and wherever he
is, I hope he's happy and safe.

We're teaching a family (the Taylors, who we watched conference with)
a younger unmarried couple, and a few singles. It feels good to
finally have people progressing as I pass my 5 month mark.

Hope everyone is well in WA state, St. George, and elsewhere. Don't
forget to share the gospel!

Elder Derek Troy

Quick district pic

Ambulance selfie

The new "drive through" at The Palms apartment complex.

Blood?  Bleh.

Almost didn't recognize Elder Troy without his glasses and with bronzed skin.  (he's in the middle)


Monday, March 27, 2017

Long-term vision and...SNAKES!

Hello Friends and Family!

Here is Elder Derek Troy's latest letter (click the LINK BELOW).  He didn’t send a group email last week, although he did write us privately.  He said he didn’t feel like there was a lot to write you about.  He’s certainly making up for it this week.  Oh, my goodness!  There are so many things we LOVE about this letter from Elder Troy and a few that we are TERRIFIED about!

You may remember that Derek stumbled upon a rattlesnake in Southern Utah before his mission.  It reared up and struck him on his knee brace   Because it had attacked and there were children present, he felt he needed to kill it.  He hit it with a rock and then cut off it’s head.  Looks like it’s happened again!  WHY must this boy continue to find snakes?!  WHY must he continue to kill them with his bare hands?!  The video and pictures are unnerving.  A friend thinks she's identified it as a rat snake, so likely not dangerous, but BLEH. Snakes are gross. Notice it is hanging from my sons 6” pocket knife.  Gah.  He is currently living and serving in northern Houston, Texas. 🐍😳

He is so appreciative of your cards, letters and emails.  He loves them!

Thank you for your prayers and thoughts for our son.  We love you all!

JD, Terri & Family

————————————————————
Hey Y’all! 

This week I have lots of stuff to update everybody on. The gospel is amazing and being a missionary is great! This week I wanted to share a spiritual though, a miracle, and some pictures!

Elder Mattson and I are getting strangely similar. We have the same jacket, watch, bracelet, tie clip, glasses, pens, water bottles, etc. The other day, we both said something at the same time, looked at each other, and said 'it's happening' in unison. Elder Mattson says it's comp unity, I think it's weird.

This week we have pictures from a snake we killed (copperhead?) a puppy I love, and a sweet little creek we found; like an oasis from the city.

I wanted to talk a little bit this week about the importance of having a long-term vision.

Proverbs 29:18 "Where there is no vision, the people perish”.  Vision is where we see ourselves in the distant future as a RESULT of our goals. It is not the goal itself. Goals are measurable and observable, and a vision is the positive change we hope to see as a result. Our vision is who we hope to become, what our family will be like etc. Goals like daily scripture study and prayer are what help us get there. If we do not have a clear vision, we become like the people in Lehi's dream (1 NE 8) who "wandered into forbidden paths, and were lost". They too had a goal of reaching the tree of happiness, but without the rod of iron, they couldn't find it. The rod of iron is "the word of God", which tells us what our vision should be.

Now our little miracle:

In our ward, we have a sister I'll call Sis. Blake.  Sis. Blake is a little needy. She is single and because of her Asperger’s, she tends to ramble and talk a lot. Some of the things she talks about are disturbing. Like many of the women Heavenly Father has had me meet on my mission, she was heavily abused in her past. The final straw for her marriage was when her husband broke her ribs and shot at her and their children.  Through it all, Sis. Blake has remained the sweetest lady. She frequently requests blessings from us so we see her often. This week she had us come over to pick up a bunch of stuff from her for a donation drive our stake is doing for refugees.

Every month, our debit cards get reloaded on the last Friday. This month has 5 Fridays, so by this week, money for groceries was getting a little tight. That's about $26 per person per week. We were getting ready for a lot of ramen lunches these next few weeks.

When we picked up her clothes for the donation drive, she stopped us and asked if we wanted some of the frozen food in her fridge. She explained that she was an extreme-coupon-er (and very good at it due to her Asperger’s) and had more food than her family could eat before it went bad - and some of it her kids didn't turn out to like the organic food she got anyways. So we went home with lean organic ground beef, turkey bacon, frozen pizza, and organic beef hot dogs. She had no idea how much easier it made our week!  It just goes to show how merciful our Heavenly Father is, and how much he cares about the little things.

Thanks for all your letters and emails. Have a great week!

Elder Derek Troy
Hafer District
Role play!



Sweet little creek

An oasis
Puppy!

PUPPY!

PUUUUUPPPPPEEEEEE!
Another snake?!