Wednesday, December 28, 2011

12.28.2011 Two Letters in One Post

(Sent on 12/272011)


The library was closed on Monday, and we had to email at an odd time on Tuesday. I have no time, and I'll have to let everyone know what happened next week. It was great getting to talk to my family on Christmas though. I hope everyone still had a great Christmas! Talk to you all next Monday,

Elder Trevor Casper
(Sent on 12/19/2011)

Hello Everyone!

I'm really short on time as usual today, but it doesn't matter all that much because I get to call next Sunday! I think I'm going to call sometime in the two hour block after Church for us (we just have Sacrament meeting and it ends at 11:00 for us, so sometime between 9:00 and 11:00 your time). We're visiting some people later in the day, so that should work out the best I think. I'll probably only be able to talk for about half an hour or so, maybe 40 minutes. It'll be good to talk though! I'm excited.

You'll have to say hi to Jake Burns and Daniel Phillips for me. I hope they're doing well; they both were examples to me. I remember one time that Daniel gave me a ride home from school as I was walking, and I thought that was pretty nice of him to just stop as he was driving by. Jake was I think the person who first got me interested in Cedar Badge, which I loved and feel like it's made a  big difference in my life. They're good guys.

Sorry, I'm out of time this week. I'll do better next week. However, I do get to call home this next Sunday! . I hope everyone has a great Christmas! It should be a nice Christmas here. Hopefully it snows though! Have a great week!

Elder Trevor Casper

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

12.05.2011 "Letter to Mother" (Trevor's Grandmother--posted by rebecca)

Hi Mother,

Thanks for the quick email. I love you too and I hope things are going well back at home. Tell Big that I said hi too and I love him. 

If you're ever wondering what I'm doing during the day, here is a quick rundown of the general schedule we follow (eastern time):
Sundays we have church at 11:00am
6:30  We wake up, exercise, eat breakfast, and shower
8:00  We have Personal Study for an hour
9:00  We have companion study for an hour
10:00 - 10:15ish  We head out and start visiting people, teaching, or knocking on doors
Sometime during the day we take an hour for lunch
Sometime between 5:00 and 7:00pm we often have a dinner appointment at a member's house
9:00 to 9:30  We end proselyting work for the day and start planning for the next day.
10:30ish  We pray and go to sleep (We need to be a little better about being on time for that)

Wednesdays we have District Meeting from 9:00 - 10:30am and then an hour for lunch directly afterward as a district.

Mondays are Preparation days, and for email we usually get online between 10:30 and 11:30 to start.

I did get that card, and I'm going to finish it tonight and send it back tomorrow. Thanks for the snowflakes! I'll keep an eye out for your card too, thanks Mother!

Love, Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, November 28, 2011

11.28.2011 "Thanksgiving" (posted by Rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

I hope that everyone had a great Thanksgiving! It sounds like there was quite a lot going on at home. Hopefully everything went well. Thank you everyone for the updates, its nice to know how everyone is doing at home. 
Things have been going fairly well here. Thanksgiving was great, I had a really nice time. The Smith family invited us over. They live right up on the northern edge of our branch and area boundaries, on a big piece of land. They have a decent sized house set back away from the road. They also invited a few other families from our branch who were younger with small children and didn't have any other family in the area to visit. Apparently they do that each year, and I think that's really nice of them. We were over there for several hours, and enjoyed playing games and eating an amazing dinner, followed by more games and talking and then dessert. We had such a good time with everyone and the little kids. It was a real treat and a great way to wind down a little bit. 
We shared a thought afterwards about gratitude and we went around the room with each person talking about one thing they were thankful for. I said that that day I was particularly thankful to be able to be there with all of them and get to know them better. Getting to know all the members and people here is just one of my favorite parts of this work. After that we read a few scriptures. I read Moroni 10:3 and D&C 78:17-19. They seemed particularly fitting for that occasion. I felt the spirit strongly, and it was a great ending to our afternoon there. 
The work is continuing to move along here as well. We're following the counsel of Elder Nash of the Seventy from last week and we're working together more closely with the branch. This last Wednesday I had a trade-off with Elder Collins and got to spend the day with him (He's our district leader). That was fun because we came out together and I was with him in the MTC, and it was great to get to catch up and talk. We talked a lot about what we could do to help the work in the St. Johns area, and he had a lot of good ideas. This next Wednesday I'll be going on a trade off to Lansing. It'll be my second time on a trade-off there, so that should be fun. There is a lot of work going on there and a lot of people they're teaching, so it'll be pretty busy. 
Here's a quote from last General Conference that I've found meaningful over the last few weeks: 
“To give the priesthood service the Lord expects of us will take more and more self-discipline every day of our lives. We can be prepared for that test by building faith through service as we go.

"The Lord has given us the opportunity to prepare by something He has called “the oath and covenant [of] the priesthood.” It is a covenant we make with God to keep all His commandments and give service as He would give it if He were personally present. Living up to that standard as best we can builds the strength we will need to endure to the end.

"Great priesthood trainers have shown me how to build that strength: it is to form a habit of pushing on through the fatigue and fear that might make you think of quitting. The Lord’s great mentors have shown me that spiritual staying power comes from working past the point when others would have taken a rest.”

-President Henry B. Eyring “Preparation in the Priesthood: ‘I Need Your Help’”. October 2011 General Conference

Being out here doing this work and serving the Lord is the most strenuous thing I've ever done. It definitely isn't easy. Joseph Smith once said something about how his life was like a rough stone rolling down the hill of adversity that polished him and helped him become a man of God. I do feel like a rock in a rock tumbler some days, but I know that the process is polishing me. I know that the Lord is teaching me and shaping me and helping me become the man he wants me to be. And though it is difficult, I'm thankful for it. I'm richly blessed, and I know that the Lord loves me so much that he wouldn't put me through anything that hurts me unless he knew it would help me. 

I hope you all enjoy the beginning of the Christmas season and get all your shopping done soon! Speaking of which... in case anyone wants to know, I would love EFY or Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD's. And I've also come to the conclusion that a Garmin GPS would be very helpful out here. 

Love you all, have a great week!

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, November 21, 2011

11.21.2011 "Thanksgiving Week in St. Johns" (posted by rebecca)

Hello Everyone,

Well, I have a couple minutes this week at least. How are things going for everyone? 

Time is short, but I'll hurry. This week we had a big treat. Elder Nash of the Seventy toured our mission this week, and Friday and Saturday there were two half-mission zone conferences. My zone attended the Saturday one, so on Saturday we were up at 5 and by about 8:00 we were up in Mt. Pleasant to hear from President and Sister Hess and Elder and Sister Nash. Their counsel was amazing. As he talked, I realized that Elder Nash's presence there was a direct answer to our prayers for guidance and direction in our areas of stewardship. They counseled us on a number of things that we're going to work on and do better at to help the people here the most. One of them is working with the members more effectively. Another is gaining a greater understanding and appreciation for the Atonement. It was inspiring, and the words spoken prompted soul-searching. I am committed to doing my best to follow that counsel, and I know that the Lord bless us as promised as I do.

Thanksgiving here should be nice. There is a slightly older couple who invited us over for dinner. They live in a decent sized house out in the country and they're really nice, so we're looking forward to that. We also have a couple other appointments to visit other families that day, so that's great. No proselyting on that day unless invited, so we spend most of the day with members. We're going to be so stuffed by the end! We're also visiting the Andersons, who are awesome! We're really looking forward to that too. 

Well, I hope everyone has a great Thanksgiving and that Megan and Stephen and Heather and my aunts enjoy the time off of school!

Love you all,

Elder Trevor Casper

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

11.14.2011 "A Good Week in St. Johns" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

I'm sorry about the last few weeks, thanks for being patient with me. This week, I actually have a few minutes to send an email, which is nice. I'll try to catch up a little bit on what's been going on here lately, and then add a few random tidbits if I have time, just for fun.

We've sort of seen snow in the air once or twice now, so winter is on its way. It's taking it's time in coming though, usually we get some real snow by now. But as I missionary, I'm ok with that. It's supposed to be a hard winter here, so good thing I have my coat and boots. A few months ago I actually bought some boots from Elder Wood, my district leader for my second transfer in Allegan, just before he finished his mission and went home.

The work around here has been going fairly well. There have been good things happening and we've seen many blessings. Unfortunately, so far this transfer and last we've had a number of sick days where we were stuck at the apartment. Did I mention in a past letter that we found out that Elder Sheppard was allergic to gluten? That seems to have been the source of a lot of his not feeling good. We found that out a couple weeks ago, and since then he's been trying to cut down on anything with flour in it. He can have a little bit and it won't really affect him much, but a lot will make him feel sick.

Unfortunately, just a couple weeks after figuring this out, this last week he got the flu and we were stuck in the apartment for about three days. There isn't a ton to do in missionary apartments, but it did give us time to do a few things.

Since Elder Sheppard slept about two-thirds of the day, one of the days I decided to watch a few of the DVD's we use as missionaries and refresh my memory of them since I hadn't seen them in a while. So I watched the Restoration and Finding Faith in Christ, which are both great movies and very well done. I would definitely recommend those to anyone. After those two, I watched the movie The Testaments again. Its a little cheesy in a way, but I love it. When watched with spiritual eyes, that movie can be very refreshing and is great way to invite the Spirit. It is a story that takes place in the America's just prior to Christ's coming, and also depicts events from Christ's life and ministry in Jerusalem. While many of the characters are fictional, this movie is true to the Book of Mormon account and is endorsed by the Church. I would also recommend this movie to everyone.

We also put together a thousand piece puzzle in our spare time. It took forever! Actually, it only turned out to be 994 pieces. I hate it when that happens! I'll try to include a picture.

I also had plenty of time to study. Lately I've been feeling like I needed to study D&C 121:34-46 again, and this was a perfect opportunity to do that. I ended up spending three hours studying, pondering, and praying about those verses. That is one of my favorite passages in all of the Standard Works. The whole time, I wrote down my thoughts and impressions in my study notebook. I felt so blessed, and I received answers to prayers and a greatly increased understanding of the priesthood and of righteous leadership. I even was taught things by the Spirit as I studied that didn't necessarily have to do with the scripture I was reading at all.  Those verses are powerful, and like all inspired scripture there is so much depth to them. The scriptures invite the Holy Ghost and are aids to revelation, and I definitely saw that as I studied. It was a great blessing to have that revelatory experience, which felt like the process that Elder Bednar would call seeing the sun rise on a clear morning (See Elder Bednar- "The Spirit of Revelation" April 2011 General Conference). The Lord is in this work and he does answer prayers. Now I need to study those things I wrote more and apply those things that the Lord wants me to do.

Recently the brand new Lansing Stake President, President Cochley, spoke at the Branch Conference here. He told us that he doesn't really believe in coincidences anymore. I feel the same. As I see this work and the experiences that I go through, I know that the Lord is behind everything. Of course things aren't going to be easy, but the experiences that we go through shape us and help us to grow, as we respond to them with faith and "submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord" (Mosiah 24:15). Our Heavenly Father loves us, and that is a message the scriptures, hymns, and teachings of living prophets make very plain.

We have a few investigators that are doing well. We're still meeting with Gale. I mentioned her before, she is 64 and works at a place called Sweetie-licious (more on that place later). She is doing great, and right now we're helping her to understand the reality and importance of priesthood authority. She is Lutheran, is very nice, and loves the Bible. She's reading and praying about the Book of Mormon and knows that the Lord will answer her prayers.

Another investigator we're meeting with is Brother Robinson. He's a nice guy, and he and Sister Robinson are probably in their early 30's. She is a member, but has been less-active for a number of years. The missionaries have been meeting with them on and off for probably the last eight months or so. Brother Robinson is wanting to be baptized in a few weeks, which is great. Unfortunately we're having a hard time meeting with them. They have busy schedules, and when we set an appointment with them things keep coming up. So right now we're just doing our best to get to see them.

We have a few other investigators, but those are the main ones right now who are progressing. Yesterday we were also able to meet with Sister Anderson, who is a recent convert from about four or five months ago. Her husband was already a member, and they have three kids who are 4, 3, and about eight months old. They're doing great right and they're a lot of fun, we love going over and getting to see them.  Lately, Sister Anderson has been having a hard time with drinking coffee. She quit for a while after she was baptized, but then started again. We've been trying to meet with them for a while to help her with that, and we were finally able to yesterday. We reviewed the word of wisdom and talked with them about the blessings that the Lord promises for keeping that commandment. Sister Anderson said that she feels like she understands the principles behind it better now. She told us she feels like quitting drinking coffee is the next step in her spiritual progression right now and is what God wants her to do.  We felt the Spirit during the lesson, even though the kids were running around like crazy the whole time. At the end of the lesson she agreed to get rid of all her coffee drinking paraphernalia, and before we left she put it all in a big trash bag and we took it home with us and threw it in the dumpster. It was a good feeling. We also gave her a blessing before we left. The Andersons are great, I have no doubt that she will be able to quit drinking coffee.

Ok, time for those random tidbits I mentioned:

1. Just to clear up any confusion, I did not get transferred! I will be here in St. Johns with Elder Sheppard until December 10th. After that, there is a decent chance one of us might end up being transferred out. But we'll see.

2. I mentioned the northern lights last time. They were beautiful! I'll try to send a few of the pictures I took that don't do it justice at all. They were eight second long shots to compensate for the dark, so I had to hold really still and they're a little blurry. But they give you a hint of the majesty of what they looked like, even though they were a little faint being so far south.

3. I have learned that many new cars apparently still don't have automatic lights as basic feature, which is weird to me. If the car can beep at you to tell you when to turn them on and off, can't it just do it for you?

4. I think I mentioned before that Brother and Sister Owens sent me a huge box of candy. And it was candy I really liked, which is just making it worse! I love all the things that everyone sends me, but as we get closer to the holiday seasons, I also love getting things that are a little healthier too!

5. My new backpack... is awesome. And it has a lifetime warranty so I don't have to worry about it falling apart. Since it's my third backpack I've gone through on my mission so far (The first was really cheap, the second was pretty worn, but still), that is a really nice thing to have. Thanks Mom! I even had some waterproofing spray and waterproofed the outside in case it rains while we're out.

6. I've gotten the things that everyone has sent me. Mother sent some dehydrated apples and ginger snaps, which are greatly appreciated. I mentioned the box from the Owens, and I also got some zuchinni bread, candy, and pumpkin cookies from my family, which are excellent and not smushed. Thank you everyone! Quick funny story: This is what we're like when we have free time. Elder Sheppard and I opened the bag of giant twizzlers that are almost two feet long. The first thing that happened is Elder Sheppard put on a ski mask his mom sent him and he ate a twizzler through one of the holes that you breathe through. Next we started tying them in big knots, and making chains. Third, we just started swinging them around and whacking each other with them. It was pretty fun!

7. Ok, I have an extra minute or two, so I'll tell everyone about Sweetie-licious. It is a bakery here in the old Downtown of Dewitt, which is pretty small, and just down the street from our apartment. It is owned by Linda, who has won a number of national awards for her pies. She makes amazing cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and muffins. They also have other foods like quiche, soups, salads, and bread for lunch. We usually just get one of the desserts though, because that's what they specialize in and are known for. The shop is mostly pink and white, and just has a really nice and friendly atmosphere with Linda and the workers and the people who come in. The missionaries have been coming by weekly for a while now, and so everyone there knows who we are and we talk to them for a bit (That is actually how the missionaries met Gale in the first place). Sometimes we help them out with something small like moving boxes or putting labels on pie boxes or something. She also sometimes gives us a free cookie when we come in. It's a fun place to visit. Right now they're working overtime to get ready for the eight hundred or so pies that have been ordered from them for thanksgiving, which is crazy for a shop that size.  Sweetie-licious is pretty well known around here. If you want, you can check out their website at I've never been there so I don't know what it's like.

Hope you all have a good week! I'll talk to you next Monday. Bye!

Elder Trevor Casper

PS. Trouble sending pictures. Will send rest next week. Bye!

Monday, November 7, 2011

11.07.2011 "Short on Time Again" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

I'm sorry. I'm going to catch up on answering all the questions and other emails I have received as soon as I can. I have about four minutes left on the clock right now. This week has been pretty good. I have seen many blessings, and I have seen myself grow tremendously in my time here in St. Johns so far.

We were able to teach a lot of lessons this week and that was a good experience. Katharina Vetticatt, a nine year-old girl we started teaching eight days ago was baptized yesterday by her father. That was a very good experience, and I'm so grateful to have able to have been a part of it. I'll have to tell you more about that next week (and the dozen other things I want to talk about also.

There was a quote that I read this week as I studied that really stood out to me and was a direct answer to my prayers:
“In many of the uncertainties and challenges we encounter in our lives, God requires us to do our best, to act and not be acted upon (see 2 Nephi 2:26), and to trust in Him. We may not see angels, hear heavenly voices, or receive overwhelming spiritual impressions. We frequently may press forward hoping and praying—but without absolute assurance—that we are acting in accordance with God’s will. But as we honor our covenants and keep the commandments, as we strive ever more consistently to do good and to become better, we can walk with the confidence that God will guide our steps. And we can speak with the assurance that God will inspire our utterances. This is in part the meaning of the scripture that declares, “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God” (D&C 121:45).”  -Elder David A. Bednar “The Spirit of Revelation”. October 2011 General Conference
I know that this is true, that the Lord does hear and answer our prayers, and that as we press forward, keep the commandments, and strive to be better, the Lord will guide our steps. I love you all, and I hope that you have a good week.

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, October 31, 2011

10.31.2011 "First Week of Second Transfer in St. Johns- Halloween" (RC)

Hello Everyone!

I should have a few minutes to get to send an email this week. It all depends on if the computer renews my log-in and gives me fifteen more minutes. We'll see I guess!

Things have been pretty good here this last week. It's been a little rainy, and in the 30's at night and 40's during the day. I'm so glad that I finally got my coat back! I think I forgot to mention this, but I actually left my coat back in Harrison about six months ago. I just barely got it back a couple weeks ago, and it was perfect timing.

I had a bunch of notes that I jotted down of things that I wanted to tell everyone about over the last few weeks. Hopefully this will give you a better idea of what's been going on here:

OH NO! It didn't renew. Only 5 minutes left. Ok, I'll hit the important points and save the rest for next time. Sorry Mom, I'll answer all the questions later.

One of the main highlights this week was the Northern Lights!!! I saw them better than I ever have before on Tuesday night. We just got home from a dinner appointment and lesson with a new member. We got out of our car at our apartment, looked up, and there they were! It was pretty spectacular and impressive, although they were still fairly faint since we were so far south. There was green, and a little purple, and deep red. It was so pretty! I'll try to send some pictures I attempted to take in the next email.

I got a new backpack this week! It is awesome and has a lifetime warranty. Thanks Mom!

I got a big huge box of candy in the mail from Brother Owens. It probably weighs ten pounds. I have been eating way too much this last week!

Well, I had a few other things, but that's it for now. Have a great week everyone! Love you all and have a Happy Halloween!!!

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, October 24, 2011

10.24.2011 "Oh No!" (posted by Rebecca)

Hi Everyone,

I'm really sorry, but the computer did something weird and cut me out of some of my time, so I only have about a minute left. I guess that I'll have to fill you in and answer questions next week. Sorry everyone. Things are going well though for me. Hope everyone has a good week!

Love, Elder Casper

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

10.17.2011 Another Week in St. Johns (posted by Rebecca)

Hi Everyone,

This week has been pretty good here. The weather has gotten a little colder, and we've had some rain in the 40's, but still no snow yet! Has it snowed again in Idaho Falls since that first time?

Things are going well with Elder Sheppard and me. He's not a brand new missionary, but he had only been out two transfers when I first got here. He's a really good guy though, and we have a lot of fun sometimes.

My mom sent me a few questions that she wanted me to answer in my email home this week:

How many appointments did you teach last week?
This last week we actually taught about 10. That is about average for the last few weeks, but Elder Sheppard and I are working on getting in contact with more people so that we can teach at least 15 this week. We're hoping to work up to 20 in the next few weeks, if not this one.

Do you meet more people through tracting, referrals or some other method?
Right now... It's a little difficult to say. We've been spending more of our time teaching than finding lately. Some of the people in this branch here are really good about sharing the gospel with others and giving referrals when they can. We also find new investigators through door knocking, especially in other areas that I've been in. Each is different.  Other ways to find new people to teach is by visiting with part-member families, personal contacting when we meet people on the street, church headquarters referrals (from temples and, and they aren't very common. Usually only about one every two or three transfers), and a whole list of other ways in Chapter 9 of Preach My Gospel.

Do you ever have car trouble?
Not usually. The most car trouble I've ever had so far is having to replace a broken windshield wiper blade. The cars are maintained well so that we will have as few problems as possible.

Tell us the names of your investigators.
Right now our investigators are:
1.                   Darnel Williams- He lives in another Branch's boundaries. We were teaching him for a while, but now he has been successfully transitioned up to the Ithaca Branch. He is such a great guy. He's actually getting baptized this next Sunday, and he's pretty excited.
2.                   Gale Junion-metz - She is really nice and has been a devout Lutheran her whole life. She loves the Bible and right now is reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it to know that it is the word of God, and what it claims to be. We're teaching her more in the meantime and reading with her and helping her to feel the Spirit. She knows that God will answer her prayers.
3.                  Brother Robinson- He is the non-member husband of a less-active sister. Lately they've been coming to church pretty regularly, and the Branch leadership is working with them to help them out. They've been a little hard to get ahold of lately, so we're hoping to meet with them soon. He is planning on getting baptized in November.
4.                   We have some other investigators, but we're trying to just get in touch with them right now and set up appointments.
5.                   Lately, a lot of the work we have been doing here is meeting with less-active members and the Anderson family where the Mom is a recent convert. Sister Anderson is doing really well, but is having a hard time with a part of the Word of Wisdom. We're helping her with that. They're both doing really well though and we love visiting them.

What did you have for breakfast today?
Breakfast is different every day. Today... I ate a golden delicious apple and a piece of toast, half smothered in creamy peanut butter and the other half smothered in nutella, folded over. It was pretty good, I just tried it for the first time yesterday.
I was part of a trade-off this last Wednesday and spent the day in Lansing with Elder Coon. It was a pretty good day, although a little hectic! We taught seven people that day. The missionaries there are working really hard and have many appointments each week. We're working on helping the area here to reach the same point. We love being busy! Missionary work is happy work, really.

I see so many blessings in this work. I know that the Lord is helping to strengthen me and refine me. This work isn't easy, and sometimes things are very difficult or stressful. But because of that, I can testify that I know our Heavenly Father hears our prayers, and loves and watches out for each one of His children. He may not always answer prayers in the way that we hope He will, but He always does. He may not always take our burdens away, but He will always give us strength to bear them, even as the people of Alma in Mosiah 34. I know that this is The Church of Jesus Christ. He is at the head of His church and directs us through His chosen servants. This work that I am in is His work, and He directs it as well. I know more than anything else that the Lord loves me and He will always be there for me. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, and I know that it is true. Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ we can find true happiness in this life and in the life to come.

Listen to the words of our living prophets and study the Book of Mormon daily.

I love you all. Have a great week!

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, October 10, 2011

10.10.2011 "Halfway through the Transfer... Already?" (posted by mom)

Hello Everyone,

Things here in St. Johns are going pretty well. I don't know if I mentioned it before, but we actually live in Dewitt, which is about ten miles south of St. Johns. Dewitt is kind of a suburb of Lansing. Much of the town is neighborhoods, and most of the houses aren't too bad. Some of them are pretty nice. The speed limit throughout a lot of the town is 25, which is a little ridiculous, but it's nice place to serve. There is also a bakery downtown named Sweetie-licious, which is a really cool place. I'll have to tell you more about that later because I'm short on time, as always. 

Things are going great here with missionary work. We have a couple investigators that we're working with here that are doing really well. One investigator named Darnel Williams is getting baptized either this weekend or the next. We've been teaching him because we met him through a member in our area, but he actually lives in another area and branch, so we've been transitioning him over to there, which is going really well. He's such a great guy, and it's a great blessing to be able to see the fruits of the gospel and of repentance change his life. He keeps asking for chapters in the scriptures to read and we always love finding more for him to study that will help him. 

We're also meeting with some other investigators and less-active members and helping them. There is a lot of work to do in this area, and we're meeting with the Branch President and our new Branch Mission Leader later this week to talk about and plan how we can help the people in this area. We're excited because we really feel like this area is going to pick up a lot and we'll be able to find many more investigators to teach. We and the future missionaries here will be able to make a difference in the lives of many people.

This last Sunday was a stake Conference, and it was great. They were actually reorganizing the stake and releasing the former stake presidency, so there were two members of the Seventy there and both spoke. It was a privilege to be able to hear what they had to say. They taught about how stake presidencies are called and they taught from the Old Testament about how this is a pattern that has always been used by the Lord. I know that this Church is the true and especially living Church of Jesus Christ. I am blessed in countless ways to serve here and I know that the experiences that I'm having here and the things I'm learning are going to bless me for the rest of my life and help to prepare me for what I will do later. 

Did anyone get to see the Relief Society Broadcast of General Conference? I've been listening to some of the talks and some of the things they taught have really stood out to me. Elder Uchtdorf actually spoke in that session, and I really like the talk that he gave. If anyone didn't get a chance to see that session, they should watch it online.

I hope that everyone has a great week and doesn't freeze from the early snows in Idaho Falls!

Love you all,
Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, October 3, 2011

10.03.2011 "General & Zone Conferences" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

How are you all this week? This week has been a pretty busy one for us here. Things are going well, and I really like the branch here, even though I haven't met everyone yet. We have several investigators that we're excited about, and missionary work is going well. 

This last week we had our quarterly Zone Conference at the Stake Center in Lansing. We got to hear from our Zone Leaders, Assistants to the President, Sister Hess, and President Hess. I love zone conferences. They are always special experiences. There had been questions I was having in the days and weeks before the meeting about what I needed to work on and how I could be a better missionary. At times over the last few weeks I also felt overwhelmed and stressed. Some of what President Hess taught us in that zone conference was an answer to my prayers and was exactly what I needed to know. It was a great blessing to be able to be there, and as he spoke I was able to listen to what the Spirit taught me that I needed to do. I know that he is called of God to be my mission president.

How did everyone like General Conference? I loved hearing all those talks. Please go online and listen to them if you missed any of them. They were such powerful talks, and it is such a blessing to be able to hear from living prophets. I know there are things in there for each one of you, if you will listen and do what they say. There are great blessings in obedience to the prophets, and what they teach us is God telling us what we need to do and work on right now. I saw many other answers to prayers during conference as I prayed beforehand and listened intently. I received great strength from their words and I know that St.  Johns is where the Lord wants me to be. He will help me to do his work here and to accomplish what I need to.

I'll have to tell you about some of our investigators next week, I'm actually out of time. I hope things are going well back home! It sounds like things are rolling along there like normal, and I hope everything isn't too crazy. Happy Birthday by the way, Stephen! Thank you so much for all your letters and support. I'm going to find time to write back to everyone soon.

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, September 26, 2011

09.26.2011 "First Week in St. Johns!!" (posted by rebecca)

Hello Everyone,

These last couple of weeks have been interesting. I'm sorry that my emails have been so much shorter this last month or so. My internet time was extremely limited for a while, but hopefully here in St. Johns I should have more time each week to be able to email.

My last week in Allegan was a hectic week really. We were working hard, and it turned out to be fair week in Allegan County. Unfortunately, this made it difficult to be able to meet with our investigators or to talk to people by knocking on doors. Still, we were blessed as we worked hard and the Lord helped us to still be able to find good ways to use our time. We found several promising new areas to find new people and we were also able to teach several people that we weren't expecting to that week. When transfers came, it meant that the entire weekend was spent either at church, having lunch or dinner at a member's house before I left, or packing. Luckily, I managed to get it all done by the time we left Monday afternoon.

We got here in St. Johns on Monday night and got settled in. My new companion is Elder Sheppard. This is his third transfer here in Michigan, so he's been out here a little over 3 months, most of which was here in St. Johns. He's a nice guy and it should be a  good transfer here. There are a lot of good things happening with the work here as well. There are many investigators that Elder Sheppard and his last companion have been teaching, and some of them are being baptized soon, which is really exciting!

I'm still getting to know a lot of the people here. Unfortunately, Elder Sheppard got what we think is the flu on Thursday, and because of that we've been stuck in our apartment for most of the last 4 days. It's hard not being able to go out and work. As long as I still spend time studying each day, it helps a lot, but I'm looking forward to being able to go out again and teach and talk to people. 

Still, we have seen blessings come from this. In our spare time we've been able to clean the apartment (which was pretty cluttered when I got there), make some repairs, and organize some things. I was also able to unpack completely and get settled in, which is always nice. I've been able to watch some of the church videos that we use on our apartment's portable DVD player (They just recently started to distribute them to all the companionships in the mission so we can watch training videos in our companion study). I always can feel the Holy Ghost when watching movies such as The Restoration, Finding Faith in Christ, and the Testaments. They are powerful movies, and I would recommend them to everyone. I love watching them best when it's quiet and there aren't many distractions around. 

I've also been able to get more organized and create a study journal that I can use to record notes, impressions, and revelation as I study. This is a great blessing to me, and I know that it'll help me to better apply the things that I learn in meetings, and also the things that the Spirit teaches me as I study. 

One thing that I've seen clearly over the last few days is how important daily study of the scriptures is. There is such a big difference between studying most days and studying each and every day. Even if my companion is sick and sleeps most of the day, it is still critical for me to study each day as we've been directed to do. With that study I feel so much closer to my Heavenly Father, and I find greater strength to do what I need to do and to resist temptation. With it I can be more in tune with the Spirit. My prayer becomes more personal and more powerful, and I can better understand what it is my Heavenly Father wants me to know and do. 

Along with this, I've also been able to listen to General Conference talks often. My last companion had the great idea of buying a micro SD memory card, loading conference talks for the last 4 or so years onto it, and then putting it into the phone and playing them on there. It was so amazing to have last transfer that I bought one myself before I left Allegan! 

It's been such a blessing to be able to listen to those talks by prophets and apostles in our day. For over a thousand years, there was no chosen representative of the Lord on the earth to receive revelation from Him and to direct His church, and the people lived in relative darkness. Yet we live in a time today where the truth has been restored by a loving God, and we have prophets and apostles to direct us in the true and living Church of Jesus Christ. We are blessed to live in this time, and to know what we know. I can't wait to listen to General Conference this next Saturday and Sunday. I know that those men have been called by God, and that Thomas S. Monson is the Prophet that the Lord has called in our day. I also know that the Book of Mormon is true, that it is the word of God. I have prayed about it and studied it and I know it to be true, and one of the greatest blessings that we have today. I also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, who did see God the Father and Jesus Christ in the Sacred Grove. There is such peace and power in knowing these things, and it amazes me how God loves us so much that He will help us to come to know these things for ourselves. 

I have to go, but I hope everyone has a great week and enjoys conference this weekend! Pray to find answers to questions, and consider fasting as well. You will be able to find answers as you listen and ponder on their words.

Elder Trevor Casper

Monday, September 19, 2011

09.17.2011 "[My] Last Week in Allegan" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

I am very sorry about last week, how I wasn't able to sent out an email. I really hope in my next area that I will be able to have longer on the computers. Speaking of which... Transfer calls were yesterday!! It looks like I'm heading off to St. Johns, just about 20 minutes north of Lansing, this next Monday. My new companion will be Elder Sheppard, who is on his third transfer, I believe. I'll have to tell more about him later. This will be my sixth transfer here in Michigan, and in those six transfers I will now have served in one area in each zone/stake of the mission- 1) Grand Rapids, 2) Traverse City, 3) Midland, 4) Kalamazoo, and now 5) Lansing.

Also, P-days are now being switched to Mondays! So I will now be sending emails on Mondays from now on, just so everyone knows.

I'm really sorry, but I'm short on time again. Here is something that happened to me this week though that I included in my email to President Hess.

During one time this week as I was pondering over some things while praying before I went to bed, I recieved some guidance which helped illuminate my understanding of what I had been thinking about somewhat more. I realized that I had been seeking guidance on what to do, when the Lord had already revealed to me things that I can study and work on. I understood that I needed to focus more on developing those things instead of continuing to seek guidance on what to do. I remembered the story of Nephi building the boat, and how the Lord had shown him "from time to time" how to build the ship. This pattern of revelation needed to be the same for me. If I felt like I wasn't recieving answers or requested direction, it was because I had not yet acted on that which he had aready given me. As I act on those things, the Lord will also show me "from time to time" how to continue to progress forward. In this way He allows me to grow, and to "Do many things of [my] own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness" (D&C 58:27), and He will also guide and instruct me as necessary, so that I may "Have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in [the Lord]" (Moroni 7:33). I am truly grateful for this understanding.

I'll try to fill everyone in more on things this upcoming week. I love you all and I'll tell you more soon. Thanks for all your support and everything that you do for me!

Love, Elder Trevor Casper

09.03.2011 "7 Months ... What??" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

Hello everyone, how has your week been? Things have been going well here. They are continuing to progress as normal. We got the car again this week, which is always nice to have. It's been pretty hot the last few days, so I'm glad to have it! I went on a trade-off this last Tuesday to South Haven. That was fun getting to spend another day in South Haven. I was with a missionary named Elder Dixon, and he's a really good guy. We were able to teach several people there and two of them are getting baptized today, which is great! I'm happy that the work is going so well there.

Though we struggle a little at times, we can see the blessings of the Lord in this work. He is definitely guiding us and helping us to find people and teach them. Here is a story that I included in my email to President Hess this week:

"I had an experience earlier this week that I wanted to tell you about. Earlier on in the week I was having a rough time for a couple days. I know that the adversary has been trying to discourage me. I had been praying for help to know what to do, yet I was still struggling and I didn't understand why. As I was thinking about these things one day, the Spirit brought a story from the scriptures to my mind. It was the story of Nephi and Laman and Lemuel in 1 Nephi chapter two. I remembered that it was right after they had all left Jerusalem, and they were all struggling to some degree. But what particularly came to my mind was the way that they reacted to their problems. Laman and Lemuel murmured and complained against their father and what he had been commanded to do, because they "knew not the dealings of that God who had created them". Nephi, on the other hand, desired to know the mysteries of God, and so he prayed that the Lord would soften his heart. Because of this, he was comforted and given strength. I remembered also that later on in 1 Nephi 15, Laman and Lemuel told Nephi that they did not understand the words of their father, to which Nephi replied, "Have ye inquired of the Lord?" They answered that they had not. As I thought about these two stories, I realized that I needed to be more like Nephi in the way that I was reacting to the situations I was in. After that I did what Nephi did and prayed that the Lord would soften my heart, and as I did He did visit me. This was a powerful experience for me and has helped me to better understand how I need to respond to all my struggles and afflictions. I know that the Lord loves us and looks out for us individually. I have seen many answers to prayers and I've seen a lot of growth in myself. I've started to see more clearly how much I do rely on the Lord and how I can't do this on my own. I know He will always be there for me to lift me up, and I that his angels are around about me as He has promised."

Doctrine and Covenants 84:88
"And whoso receiveth you, there I will be also, for I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

I hope that you all have a great week. Thanks for everything that you do for me. Keep the people we teach in your prayers. If Stephen and Heather and Megan are starting school again this next week like the kids here, good luck!!

Elder Trevor Casper

Sunday, August 28, 2011

08.27.2011 "Middle of the Third Transfer in Allegan" (posted by rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

This is going to be an extra short letter today because I'm going to send a few other emails that I've been needing to send for weeks. Things are going well here in Allegan though. This week has been pretty intense for bike riding. We made a 25-mile round trip to Plainwell on Tuesday, gave the car up on Wednesday to the St Joseph Elders, biked about a 28-mile round trip to Gobles + 7 more miles around town on Thursday, and made a 12-mile one-way trip to Plainwell again yesterday (we got a ride home). All in all, we're pretty sore from biking around up and down hills so much these last few days.

The work is moving along here, although a little slowly right now. We've been able to visit a couple less-active families this week that invited us to come back again each week, which is exciting. We pray that we'll be able to help them to remember and strenghthen their testimonies and that they'll want to become more active in the church. We've also been able to do quite a bit of service this week, which took up a lot of time. It's really great being able to help people out.  

This work is the Lord's work, and I've seen his hand in it even when things are difficult. I know that sometimes he allows us to struggle and stretch, because He knows that that is what will help us to grow. I know that Heavenly Father is ever watchful of us as His children, and that the Lord is guiding His work on the earth and his servants with particular care. He will keep all the promises He makes and is always there to guide us all in whatever circumstances we are in.

I hope that everyone has a great week and that it isn't too hot at home!

Elder Trevor Casper

Saturday, August 20, 2011

08.20.2011 "First Full Week With Elder Griffiths" (posted by Rebecca)

Hello Everyone!

This week has been pretty busy, and things are going well. As I am pretty short on computer time today, like always.  So I decided to include a part of the this week's weekly email that I send to President Hess.

"This week has been interesting. The work here is definitely continuing to progress, but we weren't able to teach quite as many lessons this week as we had hoped. Around 3/4 or so of the appointments that we had this week eneded up falling through or canceling on us. Most of our progressing investigators were either sick this week or busy for one reason or another, and it's been difficult to meet with them lately.
Still, we can see the blessings of the Lord in all of this. One instance on Thursday particularly sticks out to me. We had had eight appointments scheduled that day, and one by one, every single one of them fell through. We were disapointed, but we still kept working throughout the day and had a little time to go finding later in the evening before we headed home for the night. We decided on a street to door knock and began working our way down the road. For some reason it seeemed like very few people were home, and we weren't having much success. As we got to the corner of an intersecting road, we knocked on the door of a family who was in the middle of dinner. The father of the family told us, not too politely, to come back later. As we rounded the corner and walked past the other side of the house, suddenly a door opened on the lower level and a man walked out and called out to us, "Hey, are you Mormons? Do you have any pamphlets?" We started talking to him and found out that he had many relatives who were LDS, including a cousin on a mission and another relative who was a high priest. He told us that he had been "blessed a Mormon, but raised Pentacostal" by his mother. We gave him a few pamphets and he told us he would read them. We then asked him if we could come by sometime next week and teach him some more about what those pamphlets taught. He enthusiasticly agreed and then told us that he might even throw a couple steaks on the grill too. He wasn't sure exactly when would work, but he gave us his number before we left and asked us to give him a call this Sunday so we could work something out. He was very friendly and seems genuinely very interested in learning more about the gospel, and we're very excited to meet with him again. It was an amazing blessing right at the end of a hard day. I don't think that anyone else on that whole street talked to us that night, but I know that the Lord blessed us and lead us to door knock that particular street on the 18th. It turns out that the lower level of that house is a different apartment altogether. It isn't very apparent though, and there is nothing to make it look like that door wasn't just part of the rest of the house. We never would have knocked that door if he hadn't seen us walking down the street and came out to meet us. There are many miracles in this work."

It is truly a great blessing to be in the full time service of the Lord. I testify, as I have before, that this is His work, and He is in it. I know He always keeps his promises and fufills in full measure everything he tells us. I also have faith that as He uses me as a tool to bless the lives of others here and to help them come closer to Him, he also helps me to learn and to grow and become more the man that he wants me to be for the remainder of my life. I believe the experiences I go through help to prepare me for callings I will have later.

I am glad that things are going well at home and it is good to hear what everyone is up to. I promise that soon I will find the time to write back to everyone, and I'm sorry that it's taken so long.  I love you all!

Elder Trevor Casper

Sunday, August 14, 2011

08.13.2011 "Rain and Thunder in Allegan (posted by Rebecca)

Hello Everyone!

I hope that you're all having a great weekend. And I hear there is a wedding today! That's pretty exciting. I got an invitation about a week ago. Needless to say I didn't RSVP, I figured it would go without saying. It's still funny to think of the cousin I've known so long as married now, but I wish him and Michella great happiness and blessings. I will definitely have to visit when I get home and get to know her a little better as I've only seen her a few times.

It's been raining on and off all morning today, along with some pretty impressive thunderstorms during our companion study this morning. We could literally feel some of the thunder as it shook our apartment, and the lights flickered a few times as well. This week was transfer week, and Elder Ralphs is now back home in Spanish Fork, Utah, which is weird to think about. He will be missed by many here in Allegan. You actually get pretty close to your companions after spending 3 months with them 24/7. I'm going to have to keep in touch with him and I'll definitely have to visit when I get home in a year and a half.

Elder Griffiths is my new companion. He's from Preston, Idaho. He's a little more quiet, but he's a really great guy and pretty funny sometimes. It'll be a good transfer working with him here in Allegan :) .

This week has been a little crazy with transfers. Members invited us over for lunch and dinner Sunday and Monday before Elder Ralphs went home, and we also stopped by many of our investigators to say goodbye. When Elder Griffiths and I got back from the drop-off/pick-up location at the stake center in Kalamazoo, we did just the opposite and spent a good part of the next day visiting people and saying hi. Many of our investigators have had a lot going on lately and it's been difficult to meet with them, but this has given us more time this week to go door knocking and find new people to teach. A number of people have invited us to come back sometime next week, and this should help this area to continue to grow. I know that there is going to be a lot happening here and I'm really excited for this next transfer.

I know that the Lord put Elder Griffiths and me together for a reason because I know that He guides this work and it is His. I look forward to the great things that I know can happen this transfer because I know that He has promised great things that will happen in this area, and that He will "prosper us" according to our faith and diligence in doing that which we have been commanded to do, just as He did for the peoples in the Book of Mormon. I have faith that as we continue to look forward and have faith in the Lord that He will be able to bring about these miracles that He has planned for here. He has told us that there are many people here who have been prepared to recieve the gospel, and this has been verified over the last two transfers. Though I don't always know how the Lord will bring his promises to pass, I have faith as Nephi did that the Lord will prepare a way for us to do those things that He has commanded us to do. I will continue to go forward and do those things, even if, as Nephi, "I [am] led by the Spirit, not knowing beforehand the things which I should do."

I love you all and I hope you have a great weekend. Say hi to Jason and Michella for me!


Elder Trevor Casper

Saturday, August 6, 2011

08.06.2011 "Six Months ... Already?" (posted by Rebecca)

Hello Everyone,

Tuesday this week was my six month "birthday" in the mission field. That seems really odd to me. It doesn't really feel like I've been out here any longer than it did when I was only at 3 months. Time almost seems to flow differently out here in the mission field. I know that the end of my mission is going to sneak up on me before I know it. It's still a long ways off, and I take comfort in that. Still, I'm not going to waste any of the time that I have out here.

This week was another seemingly typical week of a mixture of thunderstorms (I love watching the lightning at night) and hot, humid days. I'm getting a lot more used to it, however. And I've found that the more I forget myself in this work and dedicate myself to it, the less and less I care about whatever the weather might be that day. I have seen many blessings personally as I have worked to serve with all my heart, might, mind, and strength, and I know that doing so also enables me to be a better tool in the Lord's hands that he can use to bless the people here and help them to come to a knowledge of the fullness of the gospel.

This week has been a more difficult week for missionary work. For one reason or another, many of our investigators have been difficult to meet with this week. Still, we've been trying to work hard, especially since this is Elder Ralphs' last week and he is on his way back to Spanish Fork, Utah next Wednesday. However, though we go through more difficult weeks at times, there is always something that we can learn from our experiences. Throughout the week I've seen different things that I do that I can improve on and do better with, and I'm going to work on those so that I can be a better missionary in the future. One thing  that I've committed to do is to write in a journal, having at least a short entry for each day.

Wednesday the Subacz family had us over for dinner again for Elder Ralphs before he goes home. Elder Ralphs actually served in Allegan last spring, near the beginning of his mission. During his three months in Allegan then and the three additional months he's served here with me a year later, he's gotten pretty close to that family. I love them as well, and we both always enjoy going over to their house for meals or to help them with things. Wednesday we helped him with some work he's been needing to do, and then we had a really nice dinner with them by a campfire in their backyard. Later on I burned a tie over the campfire because it is somewhat of a tradition among missionaries apparently to burn something every six months. I probably wouldn't have burned anything, but Christina sent me a pretty ugly tie for burning that she had left over from the tie skirt that she was working on. Thanks Christina! It was a great night though.

Something else that was fun that we did just yesterday was go out and pick blueberries. Brother Fry took Elder Ralphs and me out at 8:00 in the morning to a blueberry farm owned by the Heintzmans (Sister Heintzman is a member of the branch). They're open this time of year for anyone to come in and pick their own blueberries, and then pay a $1.25 per pound of whatever they pick, which is pretty cheap. For the next three hours the three of us picked as many blueberries as we could. Apparently there are three types of blueberries that they grow there- Nelson, Jersey, and Bluecrop. The Nelsons are supposed to be the sweetest, but they tasted a little bland to me personally. Bluecrop are supposed to be the tartest, and Jersey are supposed to be somewhere in the middle. I got about an even number of each. We each ended up with about two buckets (Not including the ones we ate out in the field. Don't worry, they said it was ok!). When we weighed it all in, we found that we had picked 35 pounds between the three of us! Brother Fry generously paid for them all and then took his third, leaving us with 25 lbs. of blueberries to take home! We bagged them all and now have most of them sitting in our freezer. This next transfer we'll probably give a few pounds to each of the three other areas in our district. But we'll be eating blueberries for the next little while! I'm ok with that though, I love blueberries.

Transfer calls came Friday morning while we were out picking blueberries. It turns out that I'm staying here, which I was hoping for and I'm happy about. My new companion will be Elder Griffiths. I don't know much about him, so I'll just have to see him at transfers. I know things will work out though, and I'm really excited for this area and all the people here next transfer. There are going to be miracles here and great things happening.  

Another investigator that we're teaching that is getting somewhat close to baptism. Her name is Margie. She is a close friend of a somewhat less-active member, Sister Wright. We've been meeting with them for a while, and they've been at church the last few weeks. Margie knows a little about the church, and really enjoys coming. She feels very welcome there. She also really enjoys reading the Book of Mormon and all the scriptures and pamphlets, and feels good as she reads them. She seems to have a little trouble retaining or understanding everything that she reads, however, so we're going to have to teach her the lessons carefully to make sure that she understands them. She has a testimony of the church, and of Jospeh Smith and the Book of Mormon, so we talked to her last time we saw her about setting a baptismal date with her several weeks away that she can work towards. She didn't feel quite ready just yet, she seems to be concerned a little about what other people will think about that. We're going to continue working with her and teaching her though, and helping her to better understand what baptism is and why it is so important. We're excited for her and confident that she'll want to be baptized sometime in the near future. Sister Wright is encouraging her and supporting her all the way, and we know that's helping Margie a lot.

I've found so much meaning as I've read from the Book of Mormon over the last six months. I have found so much guidance and so many answers to prayers in that book. I know that it is true, and it is an incredible blessing to be able to know that, and to be able to study from the Book of Mormon each day. I know that this is the Lord's work and his hand is in it, and I am greatly blessed and privileged to be able to be a part of it. I know that the Lord loves me and is helping me to grow spiritually and gain experience that I can use in this work and throughout my life. I love everyone back at home, and I know that the Lord is watching over you and blessing you too as I'm out here doing all that I can. I hope that you all have a great week this next week, and enjoy a little bit more of the summer!

Elder Trevor Casper

Sunday, July 31, 2011

07.31.2011 "Blessings in Allegan" (posted by Rebecca)

Dear Everyone,

The weeks continue to get busier, which is great! We've had a great week for missionary work here in the Allegan area. The Lord continues to bless us as we keep going out, working hard, and forgetting ourselves in the work. We've been able to teach many people, and we've also found many other new people to teach. We've been trying hard to be obedient and be doing all that we need to do to be instruments in the Lord's hands, and we know that as we've done this he's been able to use us to help to further His work here. We've been greatly blessed.

The weather here seems to be erratic, as always. We've had hot, sunny, humid days, hot, cloudy humid days, and cool, pouring-rain, humid days. We had the car this week, but miles are running short at the end of the month and we needed to do our weekly "car fast", where we don't use the car for one day of the week other than P-day (it was instituted to help conserve miles so we didn't go over our monthly allowance). Because we couldn't fast the car last week, we had to do it twice this week. So Thursday we made a 13 mile trip to Gobles, and Friday we made an 11 mile trip to Plainwell again. Luckily, we were able to get a ride home both times. They were nice bike rides, but the humidity was a little uncomfortable, and we were both drenched in sweat by the time we got to our destinations. We also had  a couple lightning storms at night these last couple weeks, which are always fun to watch. One night, there was so much lightning higher up in the sky that there was a flash at least every 3 seconds, and it looked like the sky was one giant, flickering light bulb. Luckily, we haven't had any weather that was too severe, and we've only been caught out once in a downpour so far.

I thought I would talk about a few our our progressing investigators that we're teaching in my limited remaining time for email.

Chiquita is one investigator that we've been teaching. We love her. She is older and in her 50's. She is divorced, and her sons are grown up and out of the house. She is very nice to us, and loves us and the Spauldings (an older couple in the branch here) coming over to teach her each week. She's starting to gain a testimony of the truth of the Restoration and the things that we've taught, but she's still has some concerns and she's praying for answers. We talked to her about how it would help her to pray specifically for specific answers instead of generally praying for help to help her know that what we're teaching is true. She sincerely wants to know if it is true though, and she's reading and praying and coming to church when she can. We continue to pray for her to be able to recieve the answers she is looking for through the Holy Ghost and to know that Joseph Smith is a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true.

Louie is another investigator that we've started teaching recently. He is in his 80's and his wife died a while back. He fought in WWII and feels like the Lord was watching over him and protected him from harm and death numerous times. He is a very sweet old man and is always very kind to us. He admires us for what we are doing. We taught him about the Restoration and Jospeh Smith and watched the Restoration movie with him. He's been studying and praying and he told us that he knows that Jospeh Smith was a prophet. He's been reading in the Book of Mormon as well, and is already through 1 Nephi. He told us a couple days ago when we talked with him that he knows that the Book of Mormon is true as well, and that it's from God. He is so prepared to recieve the gospel and the message of the Restoration! We're thrilled about how open he is and how easily the Holy Ghost is able to teach him that these things are true. My companion and I were talking the other day, and we feel like one of the reasons why the Lord has allowed him to leave throught so many near-death experiences, both in the war and in recent years, is so that he would have the chance to be able to learn and accept the gospel in this life. He is planning on coming to church this next Sunday hopefully, and next time we go over we're going to teach him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the third lesson in Preach My Gospel, and covers the first principles and ordinances of the Gospel (Faith, Repentance, Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins, the Laying on of hands for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the End) . He's continuing to read from the Book of Mormon and gain a testimony of these things.

Darwin is an investigator that we've just met with for the first time this week. He's in his early thirties or so, and he is married and has a young son. He was being taught by the missionaries last fall in nearby Kalamazoo. Unfortunatly, due to a sudden move to a nearby apartment they he lost contact with them. He looked for them for a while but was unable to find them again. This Spring he moved to Otsego (right next to Plainwell). He got onto a few weeks ago and there found that he was able to request a missionary visit. We got a text on our phone with his number and address, gave him a call, and were able to meet him this last Monday. He is very enthusiastic about the Church and the Book of Mormon, and is definately open and prepared to recieve the gospel. He even tried to order a quad (set of scriptures) online last fall when he met with the missionaries (one of those missionaries, coincidently, is now my district leader, Elder Wood. He was thrilled when we told him that we had gotten in contact with Darwin). He had been taught by the missionaries several times, but since it was last fall we'll have to go over those things again to refresh his memory a little bit. The Restoration makes so much sense to him, and he really want's to be able to know in his heart that it is true, so we're working to help him with that as he reads from the Book of Mormon and prays. We're also going to invite him to church tomorrow, if he can make it.

We are also very excited about the Reed family. The Brother and Sister Reed are in their late thirties, we think. They have four sons- Anthony (14), Austin (13), Josh (11), and Joe (10) . They have been to almost every church in Allegan, which is quite a few, but they always felt like there was something there there that wasn't right, or something that was missing. We've taught them a couple times, and they were finally able to make it to sacrament meeting this last Sunday, which we were thrilled about. He said that there was a really good feeling there, and that he would definately be back. He told us that he feels like the truth is out there, and he's really hoping that this church is the right one. He wants to know if it is true. Last time we went over we watched the Restoration DVD with them, and they really seemed to enjoy it and be interested in it. Brother Reed said that he could really relate to Jospeh and how he visited all the other churches trying to find the truth. We know that as he and his family read and pray about the Book of Mormon that the Holy Ghost will tell them that it is true, and they will know it beyond a shadow of a doubt. Moroni 10: 3-5 is such a powerful scripture. We also know that by the same power, they will be able to know that they have found the true and living Church of Jesus Christ, once again restored to the earth.

It's amazing to see how the Lord guides and directs His work, that we have been able to find this great family that is so prepared to hear the gospel. He has told us that there are many people in this area who have been prepared, and we have seen so many blessings pour out upon us as we've tried to live our calling as best as we could and serve with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. I know that everyone at home is being blessed as well as I work out here. I have had that confirmed to me many times. There is so much joy in this work, in being able to teach the gospel to people and help them to come closer to Christ and His church. I know that this work is the Lord's. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, and it never ceases to amaze me as I study it each day. I love it so much. I know that Joseph Smith is a prophet called by God, and that we have a living prophet on the earth today- Thomas S. Monson. My testimony has been strengthened so much since I've been out here, and I've seen how much it has blessed me and how much it blesses these people that we teach. The Lord has blessed me immeasurably, even in just this short time that I've been out here. I know, beyond any doubt, more than I know anything else, that these things are true, because the Holy Ghost has testified to me of their truth.

It looks like I'm out of time. Please pray for these people and the others that we teach, that they may be blessed and protected, be able to gain testimonies for themselves of the truth of these things from the Holy Ghost, and that they will be able to make it to church.

Have a great week everyone! Hope you're all enjoying the summer still. I'll try to write when I can, sorry things have been so busy lately. But thank you for all your support. I love you all, bye!

Elder Trevor Casper