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Monday, November 24, 2014

Cody is a happy person, no matter what he is doing.

I have to explain the attached picture of Cody with the TV.  I laughed so hard when I saw this picture.  We get garbage dumpsters put in our neighborhood every summer for 1 day for people to put all their big garbage and yard trimmings in.  The last year before Cody’s mission, he and his buddy, Brandon, kept finding these random TV’s all over the neighborhood and brought home about 3 in a couple of weeks' time.  I told him I didn’t want all of these huge TV’s in our home, to go along with a small fridge he got from a friend (because it didn’t work and his parents were throwing it away).  He said he was going to get the fridge to work again.  Well, we got rid of the TV’s he collected and the mini fridge after he left on his mission.  I’m not sure we told him about that.  haha.  Oh well.  One of them was absolutely huge.  With everyone purchasing flat screen TV’s these days, they are throwing away perfectly good TV’s, but we don’t need a dozen big bulky TV’s around just because we can.  Sooooooo, when I saw this picture of the TV, I just about died.  Not sure if it was from laughter or from a panic attack.  Haha.  He is a funny boy. 

These pictures are of Cody and the other missionaries who helped their bishop moved this large rock down by a garden area next to their home in Palmdale California..  The bishop's wife sent these to me pictures to me with a sweet note about how hard they worked.  It is fun to see all their smiles.  Awesome boys aren't they!!!  They worked very hard to get this rock down where it was wanted.  Looks like they had a lot of fun doing it.  Cody has grown very close to these young men. 

Thanksgiving Week Eve.

This week has been great just like all the other weeks.  We had some really fun lessons and we have 4 investigators who are progressing quite nicely to their baptisms coming up.  Heaven knows there will be curve balls though... always is :) haha

I love Elder Hyde.  We have not had a single day were we don't laugh our heads off together.  His laugh reminds me of my best friend Brandon Wilde.  I've had enough laughs with Brandon to last a lifetime!  Laughter is a very important part of missionary work because it helps you to let loose and step back from all the chaos.  Lot's of new missionaries think they shouldn't laugh.  There is a time and a place... but laughter is necessary!  

I can't wait for Thanksgiving this week.  I LOVE FOOD!  I will definitely weigh myself before... and I better weigh at least 10 pounds heavier when I am done!  We have some really good cooks in our ward so its gonna be a real good time!

I read my patriarchal blessing this week for the first time in awhile.  I know that Heavenly Father knows me personally and that there is a plan set out for me.  I just need to seek him and everything will fall into place.  We all have a lot of potential and every choice we make affects that.  

This story below is one of my favorites that I have come across while on my mission.  I feel the spirit every time I read it and I know it is true.  I hope you all take the time to read it and share it with others.  Just imagine all the other experiences that people have like this that we don't even know about.  God is real.  This life is but a short experience that we will remember forever!

 "Free the Birdies"
By Lloyd Glenn, Mission Viejo, CA

I'm grateful for the opportunity to speak today regarding the topic assigned me, the importance of Temple attendance. “Brothers and Sisters, Throughout our lives we are blessed with spiritual experiences, some of which are very sacred and confidential, and others, although just as sacred, are meant to be shared. Last summer my family had a spiritual experience that has had a lasting and profound impact on us, one we feel must be shared. It's a message of love. It's a message of regaining perspective, and restoring proper balance and renewing priorities. In humility, I pray that I might, in relating this story, give you a gift my little son, Brian, gave our family one warm summer day last year. 

On July 22nd I was en route to Washington, D.C. for a business trip.  It was all so very ordinary until we landed in Denver for a plane change. As I collected my belongings from the overhead bin, an announcement was made for  Mr. Lloyd Glenn to see the United customer service representative immediately.  I thought nothing of this until I reached the door to leave the plane and I heard a gentleman asking every male if they were Mr. Glenn. At this point I knew something was wrong and my heart sank.  When I got off the plane a solemn-faced young man came toward me and said, "Mr. Glenn, there has been an emergency at your home. I do not know what the emergency is, or who is involved, but I will take you to a phone so you can call the hospital." My heart was now pounding, but the will to be calm took over. Woodenly, I followed this stranger to a distant telephone where I called the number he gave me for Mission Hospital.

My call was put through to the trauma center where I learned that my three-year-old son had  been trapped underneath the automatic garage door for several minutes, and that when my wife had found him, he was dead. CPR had been performed by a neighbor, who is a doctor, and the paramedics had continued that treatment as Brian was transported to the hospital. By the time of my call, Brian was revived and they believed he would live, but they did not know how much damage had been done to his brain, nor to his heart. They explained that the  door had completely closed on his little sternum right over his heart. He had been severely crushed. After speaking with the medical staff, my wife informed me that our Bishop and home teacher were there and were waiting for the doctors to give them the go ahead to administer to Brian. She sounded worried, but not hysterical, and I took comfort in her calmness.

The return flight seemed to last forever, but finally I arrived at the hospital six hours after the garage door had come down. When I walked into the intensive care unit, nothing could have prepared me to see my little son laying so still on a great big bed with tubes and monitors everywhere. He was on a respirator. I glanced at my wife who stood and tried to give me a reassuring smile. It all seemed like a terrible dream.  I was filled in on all the details and given the guarded prognosis.  Brian was going to live, and the preliminary tests indicated that his heart was okay- two miracles, in and of themselves.  But, only time would tell if his brain,received any damage.

Throughout these seemingly endless hours, my wife was calm. She told me the Bishop had given a blessing so powerful and so reassuring that  she felt that Brian would eventually be all right. I hung on to her words and faith like a lifeline. All that night and all the next day Brian remained unconscious. It seemed like forever since I had left for my business trip the day before.  Finally, at two o'clock that afternoon, our son regained consciousness and sat up uttering the most beautiful words I have ever heard spoken. He said, "Daddy, hold me," as he reached for me with his little tiny arms.  By the next day he was pronounced as having no neurological or physical deficits, and the story of his miraculous survival spread  throughout the hospital.  You cannot imagine our gratitude and joy. As we took Brian home we felt the unique reverence for life and love of our Heavenly Father that comes to those who brush death so closely. In the days that followed there was a special spirit about our home. Our  two older children were much closer to their little brother. My wife and I were closer to each other, and all of us were very close as a whole family. Lifetook on a less stressful pace.  Perspective seemed to be much more focused, and balance much easier to gain and maintain. We felt deeply blessed. Our gratitude was truly profound.

Almost a month later to the day of the accident, Brian awoke from his afternoon nap and said, "Sit down, Mommy.  I have something to tell you."  At that time in his life, Brian usually spoke in small phrases, so to say such a large sentence surprised my wife. She sat down with him on the bed and  he began this sacred and remarkable story.  "Do you remember when I got stuck under the garage door? Well, it was so heavy and it hurt really bad. I called to you, but you couldn't hear me.  I started to cry, but then it hurt too bad. And then the 'birdies' came."
"The 'birdies'?" my wife asked puzzled.

"Yes," he replied.  "The 'birdies' made a whooshing sound and flew into the garage. They took care of me."
"They did?" she asked.

"Yes," he said. "One of the birdies came and got you.  She came to tell you I got stuck under the door."
A sweet  and reverent feeling filled the room. The spirit was so strong and yet lighter than air. My wife realized that a three-year-old has no concept of death and spirits, so he was referring to the beings who came to help him from beyond the veil as "birdies" because they were up in the air like birds that fly.

"What did the 'birdies' look like?" she asked.
Brian answered, "They were so beautiful. They were dressed in white, all white. Some of them had on green and white, but some of them had on just white."
My wife thought this was intriguing because Brian had no clue what the color green was.
"Did they say anything?"    

"Yes," he answered.  "They told me the baby would be all right."
"The baby?" my wife asked, confused.
And Brian answered, "Yes, the baby laying on the garage floor." He went on, "You came out and opened the garage door and ran to the baby. You told the baby to stay and not leave."
My wife nearly collapsed upon hearing this, for she had indeed gone and knelt beside Brian's body, and seeing his crushed chest and unrecognizable features, and knowing he was already dead, she looked up around her and whispered, "Don't leave us, Brian; please stay if you can."

As she listened to Brian telling her the words she had spoken,  she realized that his spirit had left his body and was looking down from above on this little lifeless form.  Then what happened?" she asked.

"We went on a trip," he said, "far, far away." He grew agitated trying to say things he didn't seem to have words for. My wife tried to calm and comfort him, and let him know it would be okay. He struggled with wanting to tell something that obviously was very important to him, but finding the words was so diffrcult.  Finally, his eyes alighted on the picture of the Oakland temple that hangs in the room and he ran to it."I went there!" he shouted. "There, Mommy," he pointed to the temple. "And I went to other ones like this. There are lots of them. They are everywhere, and I went to some of them with the birdies.' We flew so fast up in the air.
"To which my wife said, "That's one of the temples." "YES! YES!" he shouted. "I went to the temples." "They're so pretty, Mommy," he added. "And  there are lots and lots of 'birdies' in the temple. Lots of them are in cages and they want to get out, but they can't by themselves. They need us to let them out of the cages. "Mommy, I have to go to the temple and let them out. They are so sad and they need me to let them out.  Mommy, you have to go  there now and let them out.  And Daddy too.  And everyone. We have to let them out of their cages."

My wife was stunned. Into her mind the sweet spirit enveloped her more soundly, but with an urgency she had never before known. She thought of the spirit world, the spirit prison to those who have not had saving
ordinances done, and she knew that such spirits were relying on us to do these ordinances for them. She thought of how Brian had said some of the 'birdies' were wearing green and white, and the significance of
that swept her with longing and understanding.  Brian went on to tell her that the 'birdies' told him that he had to come back and tell everyone about the temples and the 'birdies' in their cages. He said they brought him back to the house and that a big fire truck, a little fire truck, and an ambulance were there. A man was bringing the baby out on a white bed and he tried to tell the man that the baby would be okay, but the man couldn't hear him. He said the 'birdies' told him he had to go with the ambulance, but they would be near him. He said it was so pretty there and so peaceful, and he didn't want to come back.  And then the bright light came. He said the light was so bright and so warm, and he loved the bright light very much. Someone  was in the bright light and put their arms around him and told him, "I love you, but you have to go back. You have to play baseball, tell everyone about the temples, and slay the alligators." Then the person in the bright light kissed him and waved bye bye. Brian got in the ambulance with two of the 'birdies.' The ambulance doors closed after the people got in, and he said, "Then I saw my beautiful, beautiful 'birdies' waving bye-bye. Then whoosh, the big sound came and they went into the clouds."

The story went on for over an hour. He taught us that the  'birdies' are always with us, but we don't see them because we look with our eyes, and we don't hear them because we listen with our ears. But, they are there, and you can only see them in here (he put his hand over his heart). They whisper the things to help us do what's right because they love us so much.” Brian continued, stating, "I have a plan, Mommy. You have a plan. Daddy has a plan. Everyone has a plan. We all must live our plan and keep our promises. And the 'birdies' help us do that 'cause they love us so, so much."

In the weeks that followed, he often came to us and told all or part of it again and again. Always the story remained the same. The details were never changed or out of order. A few times he added further bits of
information that clarified the message he had already delivered.  It never ceased to amaze us how he could tell such detail and speak beyond his ability when he spoke of his "birdies."  Everywhere he went, he told total strangers that they had to go to the temple. Surprisingly, no one ever looked at him strangely when he did this.  Rather, they always got a softened look on their face and smiled. Needless to say, we have not been the same ever since that day, and I pray that we never will be.  My wife and I have gone to the temple repeatedly since then, and always Brian is waiting to hear how many "birdies" we set free each time we go. Brothers and Sisters, of all the messages Brian could have brought back, he brought this one--We must go to the temple and free the  "birdies." I testify that the things I have shared with you today are true. They are of sacred worth. They are of eternal consequence to us all and to the spirits who await the work only we can do for them.  May we all go to the temple and free the "birdies" - for this truly is the Lord's work and His glory, to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I leave you with this message in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.”

We all have a plan.
Love, Elder Crandall

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Names, Faces and Families of Ebola

This is the Williams family.  The husband, wife and their child all died from
Ebola at the end of October 2014. They were members of the
Kossoh Town Branch in Sierra Leone.
The members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continue to be strong in spite of the challenges they are facing with Ebola in their country.  They have experienced hardships throughout their whole lives.  When some primary children in Ghana were asked what they are thankful to Heavenly Father for, some answers were, "For protecting us" and "For giving us another year of life."  This should help us keep perspective of our own challenges.  They are nothing like what the people in Africa are going through every day.  We need to count our blessings and be charitable to those who are struggling and have no means by which  to help themselves.

This is the Kamara family.  They were baptized in November 2013.  About
October 4, 2014 the mom and youngest child both died from Ebola.  Simon,
the dad, also died from Ebola on October 18, 2014,
leaving 5 siblings with no parents.

The 5 children were quarantined at their home for 21 days to make sure
they were not also carrying the Ebola virus and not spreading it to others.

Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints made sure
they had supplies since they have no family to take care of them.

The first Sunday after they were finished with their
quarantine period, the children got themselves dressed
and walked to church together so they could attend
their church meetings. I believe the oldest child
is just 14 years old.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Cody's District before Transfers
Amazing how much these crazy missionaries
actually accomplish when they work.  They do
need some downtime.  Crazy kids.

This is a picture of Cody's dad telling Cody
how proud he is of him.  It is kind of
a funny family joke.

He thinks he is a farmer now.
Little does he realize he comes from
farming ancestors.
The beautiful open country side of Palmdale California.
Doesn't look to me as though he is working too hard.

Cody with his new companion, Elder Hyde
Cody with Bishop McFarlane
More memories of Cody when he was little.
He loved his bow and arrow at home too.  He even got the
scouting merit badge for archery.

What a week

I really love being on a mission.  I can say that every single week I have had on my mission has been amazing.  I might not have had things go the way I wanted... but I have learned what I need to in order to improve.  God knows how to give perfect gifts.. He isn't going to give us exactly what we want all the time... because we don't know what is best for us.  That's why we have Him... to help us learn!

I was able to do a lot of service for Bishop McFarlane this week.  He has a tractor that he uses to move rocks and wood around his property... but this last week it was mainly used to carry us missionaries :)  He also let us shoot his bow and pet his horses!  Safe to say it was a really fun week with a lot of exhausting service!
We also went up on Friday and had a breakfast/2hour study with the bishop and the Anaverde District.  He is an institute director so he knows his stuff.  I love doctrinal conversations more than food.... and I love food more than life itself haha.  We talked a lot about Isiah and how it is hard to understand... but once you break through the wall and start to figure out what it is saying... there is a reason why the Savior advises that we study from it!  The scriptures are awesome and taking the time to read and ponder them everyday will help you with your daily decisions.

My new companion is Elder Hyde.  He has been out 6 months longer than I have.  He is really dedicated to the work and is an awesome leader.  I am stoked to serve with him.  We have already been laughing quite a bit together:)
We were asked to teach Gospel principles this week in church.  We talked about the Gathering of Israel.  I like teaching a subject that I don't know much about because it gives me the opportunity to learn.  It ended up being a really great lesson and I realized that the Gathering of Israel in simple terms is missionary work.  We as members and missionaries are fulfilling prophesies when we open our mouths and share what we know to be true.

We were going over to a less actives house one night and we saw this husband and wife outside talking by their car.  I had a really strong feeling to talk to them and to start testifying.  They had a bunch of crazy little kids running around the yard but we were able to have an incredible lesson with them.  We taught them the restoration and I have never seen a more focused person with so much chaos going on around.  The wife, C**, asked some really good questions that helped us to know she really understood our message.  I didn't even get the baptismal invitation all the way out of my mouth before she blurted out yes to being baptized!  The husband said yes as well.  They looked at us like we were the answer to the problems they had been having.  I know they were able to feel the Spirit and I can't wait to continue teaching them.  The Spirit is a taste of eternal life... and they sure got a bite of the celestial while we were there!  Can you imagine what we and they would have missed out on if we didn't go and talk to them?  People are prepared and we have to listen to the promptings of the Spirit or we will walk right past them.
Love you all!  

Shout out to RACH! Happy Birthday!! You are so awesome, thanks for being so great to my bro... I love having you in the Fam!

Monday, November 10, 2014

Cody's cousin, Sister Crandall,  is a missionary
serving in Florida.  Her mom sent them
matching Halloween costumes.  Be sure
to notice the elf ears they are both wearing.
Bishop and Sister McFarlene and the missionaries at their home.  Thank you
for taking such great care of our missionaries.

Some of Cody's favorite people along with Elder Harper, a favorite companion.

Last Week of the Transfer

It has been busy as always in the Anaverde ward this past week.  The tripanionship was a blast and we had some really powerful lessons.  I've had this feeling lately that I need to be preparing for something a little bit tougher and a little bit more stressful but I didn't know what it was.  Well, I got a call from President Wilson Saturday night and not gonna lie when he asked if he could talk with me in private I thought something happened to my family because that was the only reason he would be calling... or so I thought.  He said he had 2 things to talk to me about.  First, he was releasing me as a district leader.  Secondly, he was calling me to be a zone leader for the Palmdale zone.  It was a little cold outside and I think that's what I'll blame my jittery voice replying "absolutely" rather than the nervousness of my new responsiblilty.  I am really excited but man oh man... I thought I was already as busy and stressed as I could get! haha

Funny for the week.  We were at a baptism and my companions were giving the missionary minute while the person who was baptized was getting changed.  Then the witnesses realized that when he was baptized his full name wasn't said because they left off Jr.  So they had to do the baptism again.  Thank goodness Christ gives us 2nd chances! However, the part that cracked me up was right after Elder Harper gave the first vision... a guy sat back on his iPhone and siri went off and said.... "I'm sorry, I missed that"  There could have been no worse/better timing for that to go off.  Satan knows that the first vision brings the spirit like no other so he has found a way to cause some distraction every single time haha!

We had a bbq with our investigators J** and his son R**.  He made some dang good ribs.  He kept saying he wanted to repay us for all that we have done for him.  We were watching Mormon messages while we were eating.  He loved them and kept saying how proud he was to be a Mormon.  He has to wait over a year to be baptized but none the less he feels 100% loved and if he keeps it up I will definitely be traveling back to Palmdale to be a part of his baptism! 

I'm really glad I am staying in this ward.  I feel so at home and so connected with many of the members.  We had a lot of help from them this week and were able to teach 8 lessons with a member there to add their testimony.  Testimony is powerful and is all that is need sometimes to pierce a hard heart. We are still working with T** but she is going to need to figure this out between her and God. 

T** T** went to the temple for her first time this Saturday and sent me a text right after saying she just experienced heaven.  She then lead music for her first time the next day as the new chorister in the ward.  It was awesome to see the light that is now a part of her. She might not have had the timing right... but who really watches the chorister anyway.... oh wait... everyone.... because she is just a big prism of light! haha

Love, ME

shout out to my wampa bear!  I love you and I loved your letter.  Glad you got to spend time with my favorite sister at the game!  Don't you worry about me, I'm not in Africa;)

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cody is pretty excited to find out his brother and sister-in-law are having a girl in March 2015.

Cody holding Baby Franken Berry (cereal).  He is very excited for his new niece to come. 
He is an awesome uncle already.
Elder Crandall with a wonderful family.  He says she is an excellent cook and
that she and her kids are really awesome.

Some little warriors never grow up.  This reminds me of when he was 4 and would run around the house with light sabers.


This last week was an interesting one.  We were in a tripanionship which was really fun but at the same time a little bit difficult.  Missionaries are real life walking thinking humans with their own inspiration.  Sometimes it can be hard to make decisions with just you and your companion... but when there are 3 missionaries and 2 areas that need full attention to both of them it can be pretty stressful and difficult.  However, we did our very best and we definitely stayed busy.  I love my companions and I have enjoyed the spiritual experiences and fun laughs we've had together.

We had some really great lessons with Tonia Priest this week and even had everything set up for her to attend a baptism with the bishop and his wife.  Well, turns out her family isn't the biggest fan of her becoming a Mormon and because of it have sat her and her 8 year old son down and tried to convince them otherwise.  The sad part is her parents aren't very religious themselves so they don't want to learn about the message for themselves yet they don't want her to be a part of it! She is now having serious doubts even though she has felt the spirit soooo many times and has gained her own personal confirmation that the Book of Mormon is the word of God.  So frustrating but all we can do is guide her and invite her.  She was planning on being baptized this coming Sunday.. the day before transfers... so we are kinda in the dark with what's going on with her right now.

The Book of Mormon is the Key stone to our religion.  If you know that the book of Mormon is true you also know that Joseph Smith was a prophet, seer, and revelator.  You know that Jesus Christ is your Savior, and you know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the Lord's Kingdom once again established on the earth today.  Doubt your doubts before you doubt your faith.  None of us can deny what we have felt.  So why do we make excuses....?  We need to stick with what we know... and the things we don't know... we should pray about them. simple as that.  The Lord knows how to give perfect gifts.... What He lets us know and feel are truly perfect gifts if we choose to accept them!

I have learned this week that sometimes love can only be shown by caring and listening.  I don't have answers for everything.... nor do I for most things.... but the scriptures do.  All we can do is listen and love.  I don't like the word mourn because it makes me think of people who are sad... but we need to mourn with those that mourn.  Lots and lots and lots of people are hurting.  If only they took the time to understand for themselves the power and reality the atonement can have in their lives.  Most times there isn't a quick fix for problems of life.... but the atonement can be.  The second you turn to the Savior you will receive immediate help!

We got a new car which was pretty fun to zoom around in.  I still love my ole protégé that takes  40 seconds to go 40.  I wish I was on a bike because there are so many people you drive by that you don't get to stop and talk with. 

It is starting to get really cold here... I think its just cause I have acclimated to the heat... but it has been fun being cold rather than sweating to death. 

Tonight we get to have dinner at our bishops house.  He is the institute director for all of antelope valley.  He has a massive library in his house about church history.  We go over there every other Monday for a deep doctrine conversation usually after an amazing dutch oven dinner.  It is safe to say he is my favorite person in the ward and I would love to stay in contact with him.  His house is up on the hill and has an incredible view.  Usually nights like tonight get my spiritual juices flowing and I feel really close to my Savior! 

Lastly, I want to share how important it is to ponder.  We must think deeply and take time out of our busy lives to think, hope, and imagine.  Usually when investigators don't ponder the material or the lessons we teach them is when they don't have a spiritual attachment to the gospel.  I will forever thank my parents for taking me to Lake Powell because of its beautiful scenery and the tendency to think deeper than the normal.  I have had some incredible prayers answered while taking time out of life and just enjoying nature.  Take a minute to slow down this week and ponder what God has done for you and the Potential you have as one of his spirit children!  God is good all the time... all the time God is Good.

Love you more than all the back flips I've tried wakeboarding, and the incredible adventures I've been on with my buds... (wayyyy tooo many to count)

Shout out to My brother and his wife for having a Baby Girl on the way!!!!!!!!! There were definitely more pink candies!!;) 

Shout out also to the Martin Family! Thanks for your love and package! The popcorn was gone in an instant!

Elder Crandall the thankful Vandal