Monday, February 27, 2017

Just another night in Westfield...

Hello Friends and Family!

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy this week.  The letter is pretty self-explanatory, but he also wrote me personally and asked that I express his great appreciation for all the cards, letters and emails.  He is overwhelmingly thankful for his ward, family and friends back home.

He said, “I've been getting lots of contact from back home lately. Please let everyone know how much I appreciate them and their writing - even if I don't have time to respond!”

His birthday is on Wednesday and there’s no place he’d rather be than Houston, Texas!

Thanks for your constant love and encouragement of our son.  We love you all!

JD & Terri


Hey Ya'll!

This week we got to see the ghetto up close and personal and teach some awesome lessons!

So Westfield doesn't really have any dangerous areas, it's really mostly just drugs and unemployment. There's apparently very little gang activity, though there have been a couple of unusual robberies here locally.

On Thursday while we were doing our weekly planning, we got stir-crazy and decided to go to the local park to finish our five-hour planning session. While we were there, the neighborhood descended into complete chaos! There was a police chopper in the air, police cars escorting the school buses, and dozens of police cars hunting down someone on foot.

We never heard what happened, but didn't hear any gunshots that day, so I'm not sure what went down? There's a video attached.

There was also something weird in a parking lot, not sure what was going on but we counted 15 cop cars and got another video (you're welcome, mom!)

This week we had the best lesson with our investigator, "Darren". We taught him about baptisms for the dead and the plan of salvation.

He has had a rough life, and told us that that this lesson was the answer to questions he had been praying about for years, since two of his siblings have passed away in dark circumstances. We testified and the spirit was VERY strong.

We also had a lesson with an investigator family, "Macy and Irene". Macy's adult daughter, a less active member I'll name "Janice" was also there. She left the church a few years ago. Her bishop warned her that if she had yet another child out of wedlock, she would probably be excommunicated. Then her daughter died. Confused and angry with God, she swore off the Church. We testified powerfully of our Heavenly Father's plan for her and her daughter, and the eternal family. We then watched 'The Refiner's Fire' and all of the women were crying, and the father in the family ("Peter") was sitting mouth agape. The spirit was overwhelming and I hope they are now willing to act on the promptings they had.

I love you all and pray for you often. Thank you for your many emails and encouragement.   Know that I'm safe and growing all the time.


Elder Troy

Monday, February 20, 2017

Living in the 'hood!

Hello friends and family!

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy this week. 

He said a few of you were concerned about him after last week's letter, but wanted me to reassure you that all is well and he's not down and out!  Haha. 

You may remember that when he first arrived in Houston he wrote that he thought serving in the most dangerous parts of Houston would be an adventure. Well, dreams come true. He's serving in a very rough area right now. Be still, my mama heart!  I know that he is going to be okay. Prayer is real!

His birthday is March 1st. He would love a birthday card if you are able!  Just letting him know we love him!  

He's just down the street from the mission office, so everything can still go there for another week.

Elder Derek Allen Troy
16623 Hafer Rd
Houston TX  77090-4401

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

JD & Terri


Hey Y'all!

This week has been an absolute roller coaster. It has had the highest highs and lowest lows of my mission so far. Among other things, my new companion and I have been 'emergency transferred' to a new area
together. My new comp is Elder Jacob Mattson, he's from Lehi, UT, and we have tons in common. He has 6 months left and wants 17 baptisms in that time to hit his goal of 30. He likes the outdoors and baptizing.  We're stoked for this transfer and get along great. It's scary how similar we are. 

I'll warn that for the sensitive, this first half is going to be difficult to read!...

We tried to meet with the woman from last week again. I'll call her "Katrina".  Katrina had been pretty sober this last week. We were excited to see her progress! At first when we were seeing her, empathizing was very hard. Still buzzed from her most recent trip, she made little sense in our conversation, and had no desire to change her life. But the longer we were in contact with her, and the more we understood her life, the more we cared. Further, the more she told us about her life, the more she seemed to realize how dark it had become. The longer we met with her, the more she cared about her own life.

I can only imagine how dark Katrina's private life really is. Covered in bruises from injection sites (and no doubt some physical abuse) and with most of her teeth gone from meth smoking (a drug she has thankfully quit) she has both contemplated and attempted suicide many times, including recently.

But her progress with us has included her realizing how out of control her life has become. She acknowledged that the people she was living with shared many traits with our description of Satan.

We got a message from her this week that she was moving again. She
moves every few months. She confessed that she had been out drinking to escape her problems. She said in a long text that she was tired of being treated "poorly" (I won't use the words she did) by the people in her house. Her text seemed to imply that she had been raped - again - something which has probably been a fixture of her tragic life since she was a toddler. But for what must be the first time in a long while, she realized that she wants something more.

Now that we've been moved, we'll probably never see her again. But at the last day I'll be able to stand before my Father in Heaven, look Him in the eye, and say I did everything I could for His daughter.

I was tempted to go into her drug infested house and kick everyone outin a righteous rage like Jesus clearing the temple, but that's not
within the scope of my calling. 

After Elder Mattson and I had been in Spring for three days, we got a
phone call from president. Now that we had begun moving to our new
apartment, we were informed that we would be transferred - effective
immediately - to Westfield.  This came as a shock to us. We were being moved down the street from one of the historically lowest baptizing areas in the mission to perhaps the highest. We were replacing the AP's there. We were moving just three days after Elder Mattson was transferred into Spring. We were moving from a generally wealthy area to one of the poorest.

Our first week in Westfield, we met a recently homeless woman I'll call "Elizabeth" She and her daughter were walking to her brother's house, so her daughter would have somewhere to sleep for the night. Elizabeth wasn't sure where she herself would be sleeping. While we were talking with them, Liz said that she felt something, and she wanted to see why. She said she wanted to come to church - something we hear a dozen times a day - but we never expected to see her again. We asked her if she wanted us to line up a ride to help her get to church, and she replied that her legs worked and she would walk.

Her daughter (about 9) was thankful for our invitation, and wanted to
repay us. She handed me a nickel and Elder Mattson four pennies. Her mother asked if they were the pennies they had been picking up all day. They were. Talk about the widow's mite! We gave them a subway gift card a stranger had gifted to us earlier that week. I'll keep the nickel as a memento.

Come Sunday she and her family were nowhere to be seen. While we were singing the sacrament hymn, a brother from the congregation called us out into the hall - where Liz and her family were standing! The ward welcomed them wonderfully and they stayed for all of the meetings! This area has such great members, and tons of people who want to change their lives!

I love the Ghetto here. You need a certain confidence, but the people here in these poor, predominantly black neighborhoods are MUCH humbler and infinitely more polite than the middle class white neighborhoods I have been in so far. Have no doubts about it though, there are a few really rough streets out here.

We even heard gunshots last night. All Elder Mattson and I could do
was laugh and whistle that DMX song - 'where tha hood, where tha hood, where tha hood at?'

The church is true, the book is blue, and Moroni's on the ball!

Elder Derek Troy

With Elder King on his birthday. 
Ghetto mobile. 
Spring's Little Ghetto

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Funerals and Pancakes

Hello Friends and Family!

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.  If you were hoping for pictures and videos (I know I have!), today is your lucky day!  This one is chock-full of ‘em!  He is still in Spring, TX, but may not be in the same apartment, so any letters or packages should be sent to the mission home.  He will swing by the home to pick it up.  If you’re sending a package, I was gently, but firmly, admonished about sending junk food (it was a Valentine’s chocolate!! Sheesh!).  No food or snacks for him, please.  Your letters and emails of The mission home address is:

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

As always,

Thank you for your love and attention to our son.  We love you all!

JD & Terri

P.S.  As usual, I can't figure out how to load the videos on here.  Please go to the Facebook page and you'll find them there.  


Hey ya'll! This week has been absolutely nuts. I'm not even sure where to start.

We've been meeting with a lot of the 'they that are sick' (Matt 9:12) people lately. Addicts, criminals, and such. More on that in a bit... 

Being a missionary is hard! Seriously hard! If you always work expecting results, you get discouraged REALLY fast! Everything is according to both the generosity of Heavenly Father and the agency of the people we teach.

Our Zone is really struggling here. It's a hard zone to convert in because of the wealth of the area. Our zone is about 16 missionaries, with two zone leaders, two sister training leaders, and two district leaders. Our zone has been completely rebuilt over the last two transfers (twelve weeks) with two new sister training leaders, a new zone leaders, two new district leaders, and four additional new missionaries. That's an enormous change!

Elder Vickers is leaving Spring now. We knew one of us would have to be leaving because I'm finished with training. I will have a new companion here in Spring, and we don't know where Elder Vickers is going yet.

We were also supposed to have moved into a new apartment this week, but the complex insisted that we missionaries sign the lease. They didn't understand that we move to a new area every few months! It was super stressful. This apartment we're in now is the worst thing about my mission though so I'll be happy when we're finally out.

We're still meeting regularly with our powerlifting friends, and they're just awesome. They're LDS already and just don't know it, haha!

We also met a new person this week. We aren't really actively teaching her currently - we're just trying to help her sober up. We met her when we were knocking doors one sunny afternoon. She came running down the street after us yelling that she wanted to talk to us. She then told us about this really spiritual experience she had just had the night before... tripping acid. We agreed to meet the next afternoon because after we listened to her for a good half hour she was curious about our thoughts.  She came and we just did our best to help her understand that she is a Daughter of God. She was still coming down off some Coke and we weren't really getting through. Then, on Saturday she sent a great message:
"That entire time I did not smoke even one cigarette. And [...] always have a cigarette when around people" 

But Sunday she texted us a really ambiguous message. 

The first half was good: "I've accepted crist as my savior [...] and have found out I do not need any drug and can b completely sober"

The second half not so much "think i am Crist or Mary or something [...] But weed, weed is God medicine medicine i know it. [...] I look insane to ppl but I keep getting confirmation thru my phone booping and thru numerology it's amazing"

She's had an absurdly hard life. Sexually abused from the age of two on up, she says she's never been really happy, but the happiest she has ever been was when she was working a strip club. She’s living in TX to help her friend kick meth - apparently the only drug she won't use.  I don't know what to do for her. We don't want to give up on her, but how can she listen to the spirit when she has the devil constantly whispering in her ear? We agreed to meet with her in the future if she is willing to be sober. Pray for her.

I love you all.

Elder Derek Troy
Sometimes you just need a fat stack of pancakes.


One final goodbye for Sis. Levitt (in stripes) after serving honorably for the 18 months.

Getting swole with the powerlifting buddies.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Tender Mercies

Friends and Family,

Here is the latest letter from Elder Troy.  He has an I-pad now and a bluetooth keyboard too, so his e-mails may be longer and more frequent.  Not sure why we don't have more pictures.  I’ll have to get on him about sending those!  He doesn’t know where he’ll be in Houston in the near future because of transfers. That’s next week and they are also moving. So for now, if you have anything to send him it should be sent to the mission home. The address is:

Texas Houston Mission
16623 Hafer Rd.
Houston, TX, 77090-4401

As always, thank you for your continued love and support of our son.  We appreciate you so much!

JD & Terri Troy


Hello all!

This week had some tender mercies that were particularly poignant, and I’m so excited to share.  They were both with less active members, which have been a real focus of ours lately, since it has been such a struggle finding people to teach who will keep their commitments.  Everyone and anyone will profess a love for the savior on their doorstep, but very few will choose to live the way he asked them to. (John 14:15)

The first miracle was with an older man, an immigrant from Kenya. He has a great testimony, but some of the racism which (rancidity) flavors the culture here drove him and his family away from the Church. We tried to visit him on Thursday, but he wasn’t home. So we went down the  street to another less active family and played basketball for half an hour with their teenage son before our curfew ran out. We headed back to the apartment and were at the complex gates before Elder Vickers realized he had lost the phone, costing us a half hour round trip. We went back to the basketball court to search for it to no avail. When we went to check the Kenyan family’s house, the phone was laying on their front lawn. I took it as a sign and we went and tried their house again. I’m glad I listened to the Spirit, because he answered the door and said he was glad to see us, and that just that day he had mentioned to his wife that he hadn't seen us in a while, and wondered whether we had forgotten about him. After we explained how we ended up at his door, he responded; "God is good, all of the time."

The second tender mercy was with a young mother. She has two elementary school-aged kids of her own, and two more live in her house. Her husband is a veteran with PTSD, and her kids are very difficult. Her brother-in-law lives with them as well.  We were going to stop by in the morning, and I even started driving over to them, but Elder Vickers reminded me of how little time we had that morning. We changed plans and came back to them that evening. When she opened the door she had tear streaks down her face. A family member with depression was putting herself in danger, and this young mother was at the end of her rope. She tearfully explained that she had just gotten off the phone when we knocked. We shared a few comforting scriptures with her to help the message of her Father’s love for her sink in. She expressed thanks and Elder Vickers pointed out that the thanks are owed to our Father in Heaven, not the missionaries. (Matt 19:17)

Sometimes God is manifest in a burning bush, and sometimes in a pillar of fire. But more often, he is in a dropped cell phone and a busy morning.

"The very details of our lives are of interest to God. He cares about all of it” - Elder D Todd Christofferson

Elder Derek Troy

Goofing around at zone conference.  Not sure what Elder Troy is contemplating...

The Woodlands Zone.  Elder Troy is far right in back.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

I sent YOU.

Hey y'all! 

Here's this week's update.

So next week is my last week at this apartment. I will also definitely be getting a new companion. Whether I remain in the Spring TX area is undetermined.

This week was nuts. We had people falling out of the sky it seemed like. Everyone wants to meet with us and be taught. Now we just struggle to get the members involved. If you're reading this back home, volunteer to help your dang missionaries!

This week a talk really struck me called "To the Rescue, We Can Do it" by Elder Arnold of the 70. Here's my favorite passage:

[...] "while we must be organized in our councils, quorums, auxiliaries, and even as individuals, we must not delay going to the rescue. Sometimes many weeks pass as we talk about how to help families or individuals who are in special need. We deliberate about who will visit them and the approach to take. Meanwhile, our lost brothers and sisters continue needing and sometimes even calling and pleading for help. We must not delay."

It's so true. We spend hours deliberating on everything in this church. But do we act decisively? We often struggle to understand why our Heavenly Father waits so long to relieve us from our trials, then take ages to make an effort to relieve our Brothers and sister from their own trials. The Lord rarely works in dramatic Deus Ex Machinas.

It reminds me of a parable I heard in a talk recently. A man dies after a hard life and asks God "Why did you make life so difficult? Do you have any idea what's going on down there? There's war and famine, pestilence and disease... Why didn't you send any help!?" to which God responds "I did. I sent you. Did you help?"

Elder Derek Troy


Elder Troy with President and Sister Mortensen, Texas Houston Mission