Monday, June 11, 2012

I'm Coming Home!

It is still surreal that it is near the end... yesterday we had my last fun day of actual proselyting, today is P-day, and I have 3 hours left of proselyting this evening.  The last thing I we have is an appointment with the Brittons.  Then tomorrow morning I need to be in Utica by 9:30 because the missionary I am getting a ride from is training.  Then we receive our final training from President Bulloch and the next day we have to be to the airport at 5 am, (then hours of flying, and I assume layovers)

This past week we picked up a new investigator named Nelson who is now living with some members.  He is a good guy, and is open to learning.  They will have a second meeting with him on Wednesday.

We also had a lesson with the Brittons and then had a church tour with them on Sunday (did not come to church).  They are so hesitant about it, and we are having a hard time getting members to work with us... :(

I have been reflecting on the past two years, and I hope I have changed!  lol.  I hear it is more noticeable once you get back, especially as you apply what you have learned.
I'm excited to be on the other-side of missionary work, and help out the missionaries from the member's side of things.

I am excited to see you all, and excited for what is ahead.  I know I have made many mistakes on my mission, but I hope what I have done is acceptable to the Lord.

I love you all, and I will see you (or a lot of you) Thursday night!

Elder Shurtz

Monday, May 28, 2012



This last week was good.  The family we are teaching is doing well.  They are beginning to make small changes in their lives to live in greater harmony with what they know to be true.

We also had a BBQ Monday we were invited to and got a sweet member referral what we will begin teaching hopefully this week.

Palmyra was amazing!  Monday night I picked up Elder Shrader in Herkimer and then got to the mission home around 9.  There are only 6 of of left in our group, and we were going to pick up one of them in the morning.  We got to bed then woke up at 4:45 in the morning, then got out the door around 6.

The weather was all over...

We got to Palmyra and went first to the temple.  It was crazy being there again.  We took some pictures, then went inside.  The weather was good.  We sat down in the baptistry and had a 45 minute Q&A with the temple president.  Talk about an amazing experience! Both mission and temple president later said that it was probably one of the best q&a's they have had.

We then went through an endowment session.  AMAZING!  It is literally one of the best feelings in the world (or I should say out of the world).  For the rest of the day, as we visited the other sites, we made reference to the covenants we make in the temple.

Afterwards, we had dinner with the temple president and his wife, who lives next door, because it was the Bullochs last trip.  As we said prayer a huge storm came in.  It did not last long and cleared up as we left.

Then we stopped by the Book of Mormon print shop.  Right when we stepped in the storm took off again, only this time with heavy winds.  It has not changed much since we last went.  But it was cool to listen and watch how the sisters taught as they gave the tour.  Different teaching techniques.  The weather calmed down as we were leaving the shop and bookstore. 

Then we went to Alvin's grave only for a few minutes (it was raining a bit then).  After that we stopped by Martin Whitmer's farm.  Then went to the Hill Cumorah.  We went down to the basement and had a sweet training from President Bulloch about Joseph Smith and Moroni and the training he went through, and how it applies to us.

Then we went up the the hill, took a few pictures, and ran to the grove... and the grove was closed!  (because of the storm they had it closed.)  So we had a prayer, took the tour of the log home and Alvin's home and the other buildings, hoping that it would open before we left.  President even called the other mission president to see if he could pull any strings.  But they made some arrangements while we were on tour and they let us in.  They soon after opened it again.

We had a chance to walk around by ourselves for an hour (no companion), and enjoy the grove.  It was such a powerful experience to be back and to think about what has changed since the first time.  There is a special spirit with both temples so close together, and being in both. 

Then we had McD's and went back to the Utica.  I left this morning, and got back for my last district meeting, and am now just getting back to Greenville.  Today we are going to help one of our new investigators we picked up this last week (Mary) in her yard.

All and all, it was a great trip.  For sure, it was a powerful experience.  This last week is going to be surreal and fast and crazy.  I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Shurtz

The Home Bound Elders
The Sacred Grove

This is where Joseph Smith hid the Gold Plates for safekeeping.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Got a Date!


We have had two lessons this week with the Brittons, but they were a no show at church! :(  We NEED to get members at the lessons, but that has proven to be difficult for them.  Nevertheless, the lessons have been going good.  We set the husband with a date for baptism, but were not able to with the wife solely because she had to help the kids go to bed.  This week though...

I was hoping they would come, especially since I told them I was going to be speaking in Sacrament meeting.  The other speaker was a High Councilman, so I thought that was funny that I will be doing the same thing in about a month.  It was probably a good thing that they did not come to church though, because after 2nd hour, the branch president canceled the last hour because the sewage system was backed up, and apparently you can't have church without a working toilet?

On Saturday and Sunday the temperatures were in the 80's and it was super humid.  I definitely don't have the enthusiasm I once had two summers ago in Syracuse to ride hours on a bike up and down hills drenched in sweat.  On Saturday, we went to Coxsockie to only find everyone in town all downtown at a beer festival.  We didn't have too much success in town that night.  But we did meet a nice man who is helping keep his church up and running, who said to stop by sometime.

Tuesday we worked in Albany downtown, because Elder Bowles sprained his ankle, so he stayed in with Elder King as I went out with Elder Gasetoto.  It was fun to be in the capital.

We also did a lot of service.  We moved wood for a member.  We helped plant a garden for a less-active member, and we put up insulation for a non-member.  I love being able to help out with stuff like that (except breathing in fiberglass).

On Friday the first councilor's dog got into some rat poison, but they were able to get help, and the dog is now doing better.  Note to self: rat poison = bad stuff.


Elder Shurtz

PS: Next week is Memorial Day, and the library will be closed, then on Tuesday I go to the temple, so if I am able to email, it probably won't be until Wednesday.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Family Proclamation - Amazing!

Hello!  The weather here has been amazing!  This weekend it was in the 80's.

Tuesday we had zone conference!  It was amazing.  President gave some training that I remember from my first zone conference which I thought it was fitting seeing that this was my last.

We also visited the New York State Museum on Monday before a meeting that night.  It was amazing to see.  Lots of stuff.  And it was free!  I will include some pictures.

On Friday we had a good lesson with the Brittons (the family we have been teaching).  We went through the Plan of Salvation.  They loved it and asked about families, so we shared the Proclamation to the World.  We first asked if they had any questions, and the wife said that if they were going to join our church they would like to know more about it (SWEET).  Then We asked if there is anything that we can do for them, and the husband answered 'just keep coming back' (AWESOME).  They have 4 children, 1 over the age of 8 (she is a teenager) whom we have not met yet.

Sunday they did not come to church, however :(  They feel a little hesitant with 4 kids. 

Mothers day was awesome.  We had great dinners with members.  And of course, talking on the phone with family is always a treat!

Well, Love you all and hope you have a great one!

Monday, May 7, 2012

5 Hours of Biking, While Fasting = Not a Good Idea

Hello Family!

It has been a slow week all together.  But some good things are ahead, I believe.  This transfer we have set a mission goal to find 500 new investigators (about 2 per area).  We had a mission-wide fast this past weekend to help us reach our goal.

Yesterday we had an awesome lesson with a family we picked up last week.  They are planning on coming to church this Sunday!  It was a good lesson, where the spirit was felt and 'minds enlightened.'  We took our mission leader Bro. Kosorek.
We also talked to the branch about doing a fellowship activity, and on June 1st, we will be doing some form of a game night.  It will be a good experience for us all.

Friday I went on exchange in Albany with the Zone Leaders (one of those apartment buildings hold more people than we have in our entire area).  They live right above a member's dental office so it brought back memories as I smelt the area of a dental office.  It was fun being in a zone leader area again.  Many of the Zone Leaders liked the posters, so we are looking into making more of them.  We found a good deal with one printer in the Albany area.  We will see if the mission will be willing to fund it. 

We have also done a lot of biking (note: 5 hours of biking, while fasting = not a good idea).  We have 1200 miles, but it seems so little with a trip to Albany every week, and with everyone being so spread out.  We might be looking into moving so we can be closer to Coxsockie, which is the closest to a town I think we get.  The problem is, it is in the farthest east part of our area.

The branch president has given us some names of less-actives to try, but so far only a handful have been receptive.  (We already were given a list by the branch of members who will pull a gun out on us if we stop by).  I truly believe the most growth is going to happen if we can get into Coxsockie more often.

Ernie, who was the guy that was a little contentious with us at the door last Sunday, we went back and visited.  It wasn't a good time, but he had lots of questions, and even took a Book of Mormon this time!  It will be exciting to continue our visits with him.

Today we are headed to Albany for a district leader training, and interviews with president (and a temple recommend interview for me) then tomorrow we have zone conference!  It will be president's (and mine) last zone conference.  How sad!  I am excited to go to the temple while he is still here.  (I think we are going on the 29th of May).  I believe we are going to be the last group to go with him.

On Mother's Day I am planning on calling around 9pm our time (6pm back home).  We have horrible cell coverage in our area, so we are the only missionaries with a landline.  So I will call the house with the cell phone (because it is the only number I remember) and then you will have to call the landline with your cell phone.  (landline #: 518-966-4047)

I love you all, and hope you have an amazing week!

Elder Shurtz

Monday, April 30, 2012

On the Move...Greenville, Here I Come!

Hello from the wonderful Greenville.  Yes, it is very green (and that's
what everyone says when I ask about the area).

So last Tuesday, while I was still in Elmira, we got some posters
printed off, and started hanging them up in Elmira.  Elder Duffin
showed them at ZLC meeting Friday, and I think all the zone leaders
took copies of them.  I do miss Elmira, it is a good area.  Wednesday
Elder Duffin and I traveled to Greene, where we met other
missionaries.  Elder Erdman (my replacement) went back with Elder
Duffin, and I went with Elder Robertson who was going home.  Talk
about a trunky car ride!

So Greeneville is my 7th area.  Elder King is my 14th companion.  The
longest area I have been in was Oneida for 22 weeks.  The shortest is
going to be Greenville, with Elmira and Saratoga Springs tying at 12
weeks.  Wednesday was also my 10th time going to Utica for transfers out
of my 16 transfers (a lot!).  I guess I was born to move around - a

Greenville is small (a phase I building).  It is smaller than Onieda's chapel. We have
about 20 active people.  I helped bless the sacrament, said the
closing prayer in sacrament meeting and priesthood, conducted music in
priesthood, was asked by the branch presidency to gave a member (that I
just met) a blessing, and I am sure I'm going to get a call this week
to give a talk.  Yep, it is surely a branch. :)

I'm trying to not let it out that I am gone in six weeks, but the past
elder let some people know, so I'm telling them to hush up.

They had zero investigators when I got here.  And looking at past
numbers, it has been a rough time finding and teaching not finding
more than one maybe every other week.  Luckily, the Lord has blessed
us with four new investigators since Wednesday, and we have been able
to sit down with the branch president and mission leader to start helping
with reactivation.

Yesterday we were out tracting, and we talked to a man who studied
religion for 12 years, preparing to become a minister, and concluded
that God was not there because he 'felt nothing'.  He was a little
contentious with raising his voice.  But, we felt the spirit to
testify and teach him (and I might have raised my voice too :).  As I
told him about the priesthood lost, then restored through Peter,
James, and John, he felt the spirit (he said 'something changed in
him').  We asked if we could come back, and he said we could.  It was
an amazing experience (and of course, it made us late for a dinner

Dinner appointments are scarce (might help me lose the 10 pounds I
gained).  And we do a bit of tracting (I'm trying my best to avoid
it).  I forgot what it is like serving with a missionary who is more
shy, quiet, and reserved than I am.  Elder King has been out 4
transfers.  So I need to learn how to hush up, and him to speak up!

All-in-all, it has been a good week.  It is stressful trying to learn
everything, and keep focused, and try to help both the area,
companion, and district, but I am at least glad we are working hard.

I love you all-
Elder Shurtz

Meacham Family


Monday, April 23, 2012

Sunburn, Snow and Surprise!

With getting a sunburn on Monday playing golf, to 4 inches of snow this morning, being hampered with a cold and a never ending cough, and bug bites, it has been a good week.  Then, to top it off, it is transfer week.  I thought I would be staying in Elmira for my last transfer, but NOPE!  I'm going to a small town called Greenville, which is just south of Albany. (not to get confused with Greene or Greenwich).

President called Friday night and we talked for about 20 minutes about some of the needs for the upcoming transfer.  He felt prompted to explore the idea of me being released as Zone Leader and see what I could do to spark Greenville my last transfer.  We even talked the next morning for about 10 minutes and he felt prompted it do it.  He has done a similar thing with past Zone Leaders, and it seems to really give the areas a boost.

I love being a Zone Leader, working with everyone, and especially ZLC.  But, this is going to be a great last transfer!  The district is going to be awesome (I was called to be the district leader).  It is going to be with The Albany Zone Leaders, Albany downtown elders, and Hudson Elders.  Elder Bowles was also released as a Zone Leader and is going to downtown Albany to serve with Elder Gnesatoto, who is from Samoa, and is the only missionary in the mission learning English as a second language.  My companion is going to be Elder King, who came out with Elder Simmonds (last Elder I trained in Carthage).

President Bulloch likes the posters we have made, and will even look into financing them if we need to.  I hope to get them going in Greenville.  With investigators in Elmira it has been going slow.  We had none at church yesterday. :(  but, Elder Duffin and Elder Erdman will whip the area into shape.

To answer Renae's question: Chocolate is an awesome black guy who converted to the gospel a few years ago.  He lives in the Ghetto of Elmira, but everyone knows him and that he is a Mormon, and they love him.  He is kind of the heart for all those who live in a bad situation.

We had an awesome lesson with the Meachams on Tuesday with our ward mission leader, Brother Scott.  We had the kids teach us the Plan of Salvation.  What a stellar family!  I am going to miss them!

We also went on an exchange in Trumansburg, which is mainly dirt roads (Greenville is smaller).  I worked with Elder Burton, who is a new missionary.  We had a good time, and got a lot of work done.  He was a little discouraged, but I hope he will continue to keep working.  He has a lot of potential.

Well, I better pack and get going.  Love you all, and hope you have a
great week!

Elder Shurtz