Monday, November 20, 2017

Stacking Shenanigans

Hey Y’all! 

I know it's been a while since the last real group Email, so I'll make this one a little more detailed.

Call me the master stacker. I'm occasionally on the phone late into the night, planning and organizing with other missionaries. Elder Simmons will fall asleep on the couch sometimes, waiting for me. It's always a challenge to get him to wake up and go to bed once he's out on the couch - this man is the deepest sleeper I have ever met. I have come up with some elaborate schemes to wake him. 

I warned him that I was going to see how many things I could stack on top of him without him waking up. Turns out that's 11 boxes of various sizes, a suitcase, and a bicycle helmet on his head. Picture included. He didn’t wake up until it started to topple. (TO SEE THE VIDEO, GO TO THE FAMILY BLOG:  troyfamilytales)

I am still Elder Simmons’ companion for at least for the next two weeks or so. I expect to be transferred out then. I've enjoyed the three transfers here (my longest so far) and really enjoy the members here especially, but I'm excited for a change. I really enjoy the opportunity I have to reinvent and recommit myself when I change areas/companions.

We recently found an investigator named Allan who accepted a baptismal date! I'm excited for him - he's been reading his Book of Mormon like crazy - 13 chapters in 6 days - and has already come to church twice. He's set to be baptized on Oct. 16th.

We'll probably hand him over to the Sister Missionaries covering the YSA though, since he's 20, so he can get better fellowshipping with that ward. This will be the second baptism that I have set and given to the YSA sisters in this area :(

I feel like I'm really figuring out now what it takes to succeed. We're progressing people, I know I'm helping my companion, and I know I'm strengthening this ward - the young men in particular.

I haven't emailed so much lately because I'm starting to get into a rhythm. Each day flows efficiently into the next. Some of the experiences I'd had before which were then novel miracles are becoming every-day tender mercies. The Lord is so merciful and so good to us.

I've been pondering today 1 Nephi 17:6-7. I believe the Lord gives us our easiest periods in life (when we are happy/content and everything seems to be going well) right before our greatest challenges. Thus when we can see that we are most blessed, we have an opportunity to prepare for what is to come - in the case of Nephi, building a ship (when the ancient Israelites were miserable sailors and shipbuilders, according to our archaeological evidence) and crossing the perilous ‘great waters’. 

I hope everyone in WA, UT, TX, and elsewhere finds themselves with family this holiday season, and realizes that life does not have to be ‘til death do us part’.

God bless y’all!

Elder Derek Troy

Monday, November 13, 2017

A picture is worth a thousand words...

Dear friends and family,

We got word today from the mission that they are having a surprise Christmas party for all the missionaries the first week of December.  They’d like all the Christmas packages to be mailed by December 1st.  If you’re so kind as to send our sweet Elder a package or card, can you send it by December 1st so Santa can give it to him at the party?  

All packages and letters/cards can be sent to:

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

No letter from Elder Troy this week, but a few pictures and an unfortunate, spicy video tell a pretty tragic tale on their own.
Thanks for all your thoughts, prayers and letters to our son.

We love and appreciate you all!


JD & Terri


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Over the hump!

Short Update:

Things are going well here, yesterday was my half-way mark. Pretty wild!

This week has been great! We're all finding like crazy in the district right now. 

It's as warm here as ever. Elder Simmons and I are wishing the cool weather would have stayed! Biking is hard in the heat! 

Joseph finally came to church this last week. He's considering baptism. He came for the primary program and loved the kids’ singing!

Jasmine we're just waiting to have a solid date for her new apartment to get her a baptismal date. She's as sweet as ever!

This week I've been thinking about the Savior's instruction in the sermon on the mount:

Matt 5

27 Ye have heard that it was said by them of old time, Thou shalt not commit adultery:
28 But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart.

The savior teaches us that to indulge in fantasies, even without action, is sin in our heart.

How many other sins do we commit in our hearts? If we play violent video games or watch violent movies, have we committed murder in our hearts?

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Derek Troy

Elder Simmons and Elder Troy at dinner out.  They were treated by a family in the ward they are serving in.
This is the box we sent to him full of all the things from home he likes and some items he may need too to celebrate his one-year, halfway done mark!

I had a baker make these and send them to him to celebrate his “Hump Day.”  Aren’t they so cute?!

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

He's baaaaack

Family and Friends,

After three long weeks, we have a letter from Elder Troy!  He’s been sending short messages home, but didn’t have time to write a group email until this week.  Like many missions, the Texas Houston Mission has begun using Facebook for missionary work.  Therefore, Elder Troy had to resurrect his account and leave it open for people who would like to find him online.  He definitely did NOT want to be online because he was worried it would make him homesick.  Plus, it’s always a temptation to surf the web a bit.  Luckily, he’s obedient to the mission rules and it hasn’t been as hard as he worried it would be.  If you do go on Facebook and his account, please remember that he is only able to directly communicate with those who have questions about the Church or want to make contact with him as a missionary.  He won’t be able to message you back.

November 2nd is Elder Troy’s halfway mark or “Missionary Hump Day”!  He has been out a whole year already!!!  Can you believe that?!  We are celebrating it with him by sending a package full of things cut in half.  Haha.  I had some cookies made for him by a talented baker and he’ll get those in a separate package.  If you think about it, will you please send him an email or letter to celebrate his “Hump Day?”  I know that it would mean so much to him!

Here is his information again:

Elder Derek Allen Troy
2931 Barker Cypress Drive
Apt. 1212
Houston, TX  77084

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

Much love,

JD & Terri


Hey Y’all!

It has been a great week in Houston!

The weather is FINALLY letting up. A cold front has moved in and it feels fantastic.

Elder Simmons and I are seeing great miracles as rewards for our efforts. We've been doing a Book of Mormon reading challenge; finishing the Book of Mormon in a transfer (six weeks) which is about 14 pages per day. It has been great for me to see the themes and movements rather than poring over details.

We’ve also seen tons of success with our investigators reading at the same time. “Bob" took a month to read 2 chapters, then suddenly read up to Enos in a week - which is about 125 pages difference! Same story with “Jane” - she took a month and a half to read 6 chapters, then in a week read to chapter 16! She's wonderful - she loves to feed us and is always so appreciative. I can't wait for her baptism in December!

This week our volunteering was with the local methodist church. We handed out flyers to remind people of the upcoming FEMA application deadline. We gave out 195 fliers in two hours and they've left us messages daily asking for more help since then - haha!

The pictures are from our service. 

These neighborhoods that got flooded the worst are just wastelands now. 90% of the garbage is gone, but there are also fridges that still haven't been emptied on the curb. The smell of sewage still lingers. A woman in a neighborhood we tracked out sold her two story house with attached garage and fenced backyard in a suburban neighborhood for $50k - which is about what FEMA is offering to people in that neighborhood to help them rebuild. Most of these houses haven't been visited by the homeowners in weeks. Whole streets are empty, with people planning on just leaving everything behind and moving. What a strange time for the Texas Houston Mission!

(Notice the lack of grass in people’s yards - they were underwater too long)

Elder Derek Troy

Elder Troy and his companion Elder Simmons

New Facebook profile pic.

Mormon “Helping Hands” service group.

Group mission picture.

Elder Simmons next to debris in the trees at the food waterline
An appliance left to rot.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Feeling at home

(NOTE:  The video he references is too large to place here.  It is on Facebook.)


It was another great week on bike in West Lake!

I'm really enjoying this ward. I really feel “at home” here - more than any of the other wards I've served in.

Last week we had a big thunderstorm. Elder Simmons and I needed to go out and do some finding though, so we went out in it. We got soaked, haha! Video included.

There's also a picture here of our new district, and the service we went and did at the temple. 

There are some rumors that we have finished cleanup, because Houston has a mandate to demolish any houses that haven't been cleaned out yet; as a public safety hazard.

Have a great week Y’all!

Elder Derek Troy

Monday, September 18, 2017

A looooooong time...

Friends and Family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.  The flood waters have receded enough so he is now back in his apartment.  If you’d like to write him, the US mail is finally operating normal.  His address is:

2931 Barker Cypress Drive
Apt. 1212
Houston, TX  77084

He doesn’t think they’ll be mucking out houses for much longer, but they will be doing service related to the hurricane “for a looooooong time.”  We recently sent him a few respirator masks for those remaining muckings.  He’s happy to share one with his new companion so they can go all in.  He’s really hoping another hurricane doesn’t hit because he can’t take being cooped up that long again.  haha

Thanks for all your love and support of our son.

Much love,

JD & Terri


Hey Y’all! 

So it was another exciting week here in the field. I have a new companion, Elder Simmons, from Alpine, Utah. He's great!

This transfer, we’re just covering the west lake ward, and we're on bike! On cool days and at night, it's great! But when it's hot...Anybody who knows me well know i sweat way too much already. So biking is interesting.

“J" and her boyfriend “T" are two of our investigators and they both have baptismal dates. “J” is doing awesome, she came to church this week even. “T" not so much. We haven’t seen him in a bit, and we're appropriately concerned.

Service feels like it's wrapping up somewhat. There’s still weeks of work to do, but anyone that’s willing to take help seems to have already gotten it. The missionaries I’ve been serving with have improved SO MUCH. They’ve been working so much harder this last week, for whatever reason. Some of the neighborhoods around us are suing the city. Apparently the engineering firm that made the reservoir told the city to not give building permits within a certain area, but the city gave out permits anyways. Unsuspecting homeowners then lost everything.

We had zone conference this week with the whole mission, and my trainer is training AGAIN. This is a pic of him and I with my two “brothers".

This is also a pic of us eating at conference, with my MTC companion Elder Chamberlain at the table. My new companion is giving me rabbit ears haha.

Have a great week Y'all!

Elder Derek Troy

Monday, September 11, 2017

Rallying around one another

Hey Y’all! 

It was another big week here in Texas. Much of the week was spent helping people with their houses (I took the time to take a couple of pictures personally this week that I think do justice to the scale of the disaster) and we also had a big event!

People are really rallying around each other here now. All differences - race, income, language - are set aside for now. Flags are flying on every street in solidarity. It’s really very moving to see huge flags waving over piles of debris 8 ft or higher. I imagine it’s a bit like what Francis Scott Key felt like.

We can drive through 95% of our area now. The water has generally receded.

This week “C" was baptized. It’s awesome to see some fruits for our labors! She has been super easy to work with. She has such a sweet spirit, and loves us and loves the gospel. Her baptism was super interesting haha. She has Multiple Sclerosis so some adjustments had to be made. She legit thought she was going to drown at one point hahaha.

We also saw a funny sign today for a Chinese Shool while driving!

God bless from Houston TX!

Elder Derek Troy

The product from “mucking” a home out.  
For the most part, the waters are beginning to recede in most areas.  Yay!
It was like this block after block. A big double trailer garbage truck with a claw comes by and grabs everything.

Mountains and mountains of debris line nearly every street in Houston.  A woman searches for a place to pile more garbage.

A member of the ward, Elder Labbee and Elder Troy with “C” at her baptism.
P-Day shenanigans.  Barely got up in time for the photo timer!


The school may need a bit more practice before it teaches others!

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Harvey vs. Harvey

Friends and family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.

First, thank you for all of you who have reached out and asked about him.  Your kindness has not gone unnoticed.  As you can imagine, we have been very concerned about him since he was in southwest Houston, Texas during Hurricane Harvey.  Unfortunately, his mission area was severely hit and there is much damage to many, many homes.  Elder Troy’s own apartment was flooded and they were evacuated about 3 days into the hurricane.  The flooding is beginning to recede, but the devastation is immense and there is a LOT of work to be done. These missionaries are going to be busy helping people for a long time.  President Uchtdorf from the Church’s First Presidency visited the mission this weekend, but Elder Troy was in another Sacrament Meeting and out working on homes, so he didn’t get a chance to meet him.  He was disappointed!

During this whole time, we have been blessed to have a mission president who has been very communicative with the parents and updated the mission blog several times a day to let parents know what was happening.  Thankfully, all missionaries are safe and accounted for!  We have not worried about Elder Troy during this whole situation.  We know that he is smart and obedient to the strict mission rules (stay out of flood waters, take precautionary measures with safety equipment, etc.) and he can take care of himself.  With everything that happened to him BEFORE his mission (hit by a car, bit by a rattlesnake, etc., etc., etc.), it is not really a surprise to us that he would be in a hurricane.  When he was called to the Texas Houston mission, he was curious to WHY the United States, why Texas, why THERE.  To this point, it hasn’t been a heavy baptizing mission or a place that was clamoring to hear about the Gospel and we think he might have wondered to what purpose he was sent here.  That is, until Hurricane Harvey came.  What is needed now are strong, capable and hardworking people who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and help others in their deepest time of need.  What are the chances that he’d be sent to a place that his carpentry and flood damage skills would come into use?  He has been called to Houston for this time and this situation, for these people. 

We are SO grateful that he has this unique opportunity to serve his brothers and sisters in their time of need.  How many times will a young person in their youth get a chance to dedicate all their time, energy and talents to others without the distractions of school, work, relationships or technology?  HE IS BLESSED!  

We thank our Heavenly Father for protecting him for this time and place.  God is good!

Thank you for your prayers and love.  They are felt and so appreciated!  Please keep the good people of Texas and our missionaries in your prayers.

Much love,

Terri & JD

P.S.  At this time, the US Mail is not operational in his area.  His apartment is still under water, so no mail for a while.


Hey Y'all!

As you’ve all probably seen or guessed, most of this week was spent in service, mucking out people’s houses, and recovering from all of the flooding.

The Church was very organized, and there were many members who volunteered their time helping the community, going out all day in the heat in dozens of teams of five or six.

In the early days after the storm, Elder Labbee and I walked through the worst hit neighborhoods, signing people up who wanted help clearing out their houses. One of the people we found was ironically named Harvey, and he REALLY needed our help. I want to tell y’all about Harvey, because I think he’s representative of the people we are assisting, and I really love sharing these profiles of the people we work with.

His street literally stunk. Fetid mud was still mounded up against the curb, smelling of silt and decay. There was still water standing in patches in the streets. It smelled like a swamp, a dump, and a fish market had collided. As we walked down his street in the hot sun, we found few willing recipients of our help. People didn’t trust us or didn’t understand the scale of their project. There was no answer when we knocked on Harvey’s door, so we moved on. However, we left our phone number with his neighbors - a sweet Hispanic family - in case they eventually wanted help themselves. We moved on down the street, because there were hundreds of houses like Harvey’s. Later, we got a phone call from his neighbor, asking if we would try offering Harvey our help again. She explained that Harvey was elderly and had dementia. He wouldn’t open the door for strangers out of fear. His car hadn’t moved nor had his door opened in several days, and they were worried that he had fallen or trapped and hurt himself. We agreed to go by the next morning to retry.

This time, she came with us, and we knocked intermittently on the door and windows for five minutes. She banged on the door shouting “Meester Harbee? We are berry worried aboutchoo!” Eventually, Harvey limped to the door in a towel, looking for all the world like he had barely avoided drowning in the deluge. Tall and thin, with gray hair on his head and a long white beard, his wide eyes betrayed his anxious confusion. I tried my best to speak softly and act as if we had been friends for years. I shook his hand, and his long yellow fingernails tapped my palm in his frail, quivering grip. We asked about his house and he told us that everything was ruined. With a wavering voice, he explained that he had slipped in the invading water trying to protect his things, and fallen on his back, and couldn’t stand or walk. Two days had passed since his house first flooded, and everything was still in place. Stepping through his home, it already smelled like mold. Each step left behind a footprint in the carpet that filled with water.

The work needed after a severe flood is extensive. Carpets must be removed, and walls torn down from 4 ft, then all of the studs framing the house have to be periodically sprayed with fungicide for three days. All of the furniture has to be removed, and many belongings that were damaged must be thrown away. The water also drives pests into people’s homes, looking for somewhere warm and relatively dry.

We gained his permission and set to work quickly, but the problems were many. A salty old Vietnam veteran, many of the materials in his home were not conducive to the Spirit. We were warned that his Alzheimers and Dementia were severe; and he could forget who these people were who were knocking out his walls at any minute. To further complicate things, the man had dozens of firearms and swords scattered around his house. But the large group we had, made short work of his home, and it was finished by the end of the day, with no major complications except moving a water bed.

I've really enjoyed working with my hands again. The work has been satisfying and cathartic. It feels very meaningful and people are extremely grateful for our help.

I have been disappointed by how little most of the other missionaries have worked, spending hours of time every day chatting with each other and juggling (literally) tools rather than help in the mountain of labor needed for these hundreds of houses. I’ve ended up in charge of the work for a couple of houses somehow, over teams of both missionaries and grown men less experienced with this sort of task. Motivating the missionaries to help has been a challenge. They get bored or distracted too easily. I think every missionary needs a job in hard labor before coming out so they gain maturity and learn what it means to work, because it seems that the more missionaries there are, the less work they do. My experience this week has felt a little like the MTC at times, as I’ve been called upon to provide leadership I didn’t plan on giving, in challenges I never expected to face.

This storm has also strengthened my testimony of my call as a missionary. It has been pointed out to me just how serendipitous it is that I have served in Houston after this Hurricane, since I actually had a job in flood restoration for a while before my mission. It truly is a miracle. I feel that my talents are really being called on now.

I’ve also been pondering about this flood and the parable of the house on the rock, in Luke 6:48-49. Remember that the house is our lives, the foundation is our testimony of the commandments, and the flood is trials. We can have a good foundation, but if we make a mistake and water comes in, we must act immediately. If we wait, our house will rot from the inside out. And if we find that our house is full of water, the walls must be torn down. If we never tear our house apart and rebuild, our house will kill us, either as it falls on us or slowly poisons us with mold spores.

Have a great week Y'all!

Elder Derek Troy

Standing with the pile of debris removed from a home they have “mucked” out.  It’s sweaty, stinky work.

Streets became rivers.

At another meetinghouse and expecting evacuees to hand out clothing and other supplies.

Friendly pool game after a hard day’s work.

Add caption

Parked the mission car as high as it would go!

Day three of Hurricane Harvey, the flood water had begun to creep up too close to these missionaries’ apartment complex.  They were evacuated.  They were getting cabin fever so they were ready to go.  Floods?  Still smiling!

Safely evacuated and brought to one of our church meetinghouses which is serving as a shelter for evacuees.  Now it’s time to serve dinner to those who are homeless and hungry.  His companion Elder Labbee.

Their final day with this member family they were inundated by the rest of the ward with food and other things for them to take with them in their next housing.

Removing sheetrock and getting down and dirty.

After a hard day’s work “mucking” out houses, they were brought to a member’s home.  Finally a meal!

At the member’s home in Cypress, TX.  The pool in front was planned—the “lake” behind the house was NOT.  Flood water dangerously close.

A little bit of time to rest and recoup.

More sheetrock removal.

Trying to save some furniture in a flooded home.