Monday, July 20, 2015

July 20, 2015-LAST WORDS!

Another swell week, topped off with every missionary's dream: a baptism! It's been a long wait for this little man (we set his date in the last week of March), but he finally got dunked. His grandparents from Idaho made the long trip to Illinois to make it; it was nice to meet them and spend a little bit of time with them. I think the best part of this event wasn't just that Mason was baptized, but that his whole family has made so much progress and grown so much in their faith along with him. I have truly seen the atonement at work in their lives. They've impressed me so much by the motivation and determination they've put into coming back to church. It was so exciting to have Rene baptize Mason- to see him become worthy and use the priesthood once again was a very special experience.
I also got to go to the St. Louis Temple on Thursday with the group of missionaries I will leave with as well as the missionaries who are half-way done with their missions. This included several dear friends I have made and served with. The whole day was a tremendously spiritual experience. I love the temple so much. After the session (of only missionaries) lunch was provided and we had a powerful testimony meeting. It was an incredible experience; one which I shall never forget.
Unfortunately it doesn't look like I'll get to enjoy another baptism before I leave. I know several are on there way for this area though. I'm extremely grateful for the blessings the Lord has afforded me here. He has truly hastened His work in this area (as well as throughout my entire mission); I'm grateful to have been a part of that process, which has changed my life and allowed the foundation of my testimony to solidify even more, all thanks to the atonement of Jesus Christ.
Where would we be without that atonement? It is a daunting and humbling thought; to be subject to an endless, awful state, bound by the evil chains of death to bind us in misery forever, having become devils consumed by the despairing darkness of our own condemnation- slaves of our own follies, afflicted with tumultuous pain and turmoil for eternity, No hope. No peace. No relief. No light. Just despairing darkness brought upon us by our own weaknesses.
Surely Christ has already saved us from that horrible fate, for we do have joy in this life. There is hope, peace, relief, light, joy, and love. I now realize just a little bit, how fortunately blessed we all are for a loving Father and an equally loving Brother, who went through all of that horrible stuff and triumphed over it all in order to satisfy the laws of justice which would condemn us to such a fate, and to allow us to overcome those very weaknesses that would put us there in the first place so that we too can receive joy and glory in the Kingdom of God forever. I'm glad I've been able to share this good news to a few of my brothers and sisters in the Mid-West, by the Spirit, and get them on that path of atonement, or at least closer to it. I know we are here to fulfill that purpose in our lives together until we stand before our Savior and give an accounting of our works and testimonies of Him. It's no wonder that missionary work is vitally important. "The end of all activity in the church is to see that a man and a woman with their children are happy at home, sealed together for time and all eternity." I'm excited to actively work on that "end" in a different mission field now, never forgetting the wonderful journey this mission has been for me. It has forever changed me, because I know Jesus is the living Christ- the Messiah and Redeemer of us all. Our precious Lord and Savior. Our devoted King. I know His grace is sufficient for all of us. He leads us in this church through prophets whom He has called. I know the importance of obedience to Him- it is the key to joy and happiness in this life and all the eternal blessings of exaltation. Guys, I just love the gospel of Jesus Christ so much! I love this gospel!! It's perfect and divine. I love my Savior, Jesus Christ. I love my Father above, and I'm so grateful to both of them for the bounteous blessings which I do now enjoy and will yet enjoy because of the atonement. I know these principles are true. I testify of them with all my heart in our Savior's Name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Me, Rene, Elder Abbott, and Mason before the baptism.

Me and Elder Anderson, my former companion, at the temple.

Me and Elder Johnson, my second "son", at the temple.

​I will miss my mission so much. A huge portion of my heart will remain here forever. I love each person I've been blessed to serve. My heart will swell in gratitude towards God in every remembrance of my mission.

-Elder Curtis, signing off.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

July 13, 2015

This week was simply wonderful.
We went down to Coffeen IL, to meet with Kylee's family (her mom, Sarah, and her brother Devan). The Halleman's were there with us too. Sarah had many questions about the church, but all she could really say to start off was, "I just don't get it" meaning church in general.She never really went to church growing up. She has a belief in Christ but that's all that it seems she knows. Then she asked the classic question: "Why are there so many different churches?" We explained that we have a message to share with her that would more than likely answer quite a lot of her questions and asked if we could share it. Can you guess what message we shared? When we finished talking about the restoration of the gospel with them, Sarah started asking new questions concerning heaven and hell... So she is obviously prepared. We asked them if we could continue teaching them more about the church and our beliefs and they said yes. So tomorrow we're going to do just that, and possibly eat turtle as well. We will also be inviting them to church (which will be huge because Kylee's dad hasn't been to church since he was 17) and to be baptized. Should be good.
I spent Thursday up in Springfield IL, for district meeting and exchanges. That's pretty much that. I'm really going to miss fireflies. They're just so cool! They serve no purpose other than to look at how cool they are. Yes, we have a loving God who is very aware of the small things. That was really random but oh well. Fireflies are awesome.
Okay. So Saturday. Saturday was the BEST! Mike Dobelman was baptized!!!!! I still get this ridiculous, goofy grin every time I think about it. It just makes me so happy! This guy has been in our teaching pool since before I even got here. And at that time, and for the longest time he has been determined that he would never actually become a "Mormon". Yet the whole time we knew the Spirit's peaceful prompt to ignore that statement. I was certain he would join the church some day. I dreamed I would see that day but for the longest time I was sure I would be long gone by then. I wish you could have been there for those couple lessons with him where everything came together and he knew God wanted him to join the church; that he needed to join. Gosh, the Spirit is so key to all of this. Everything I've done as a missionary would be for naught without that Spirit. I am so grateful for it. I am so grateful to have been blessed to be here to see this incredible man enter such a sacred covenant with his Father. Mike was just glowing! And Elder Anderson (my previous companion) got to come to it as well! It was unforgettable. Mike was confirmed yesterday. We know he's going to be a great contribution to the church here and wherever he is led.
Two down, one to go, and that would be Mason. His date was set four and a half months ago and it's finally arrived! This kid could have been baptized four months ago if you ask me, but we wanted the whole family to be on track with him and they have done just that. I can't say how proud I am of that family. They have greatly impressed me. I am eager for Saturday to see Bro. Smith baptize Mason. I know in a few years Mason's younger siblings will follow his example. I'm excited for that.
This truly is the best work on earth.
I have loved my mission. I love it with all my soul. I love these people. I love my companion. I love my job. Leaving this will be the hardest thing in my life. I love the gospel with all my life. I love my Savior and my Heavenly Father. I love my dear, eternal family. I have been so abundantly blessed. I am so grateful.
I love you guys so much.
-Elder Curtis

July 6, 2015

This week flew by so fast. It was a busy and eventful one. We were constantly doing something. Sometimes lately we have been overloaded with things to do and not enough time to do so we have to cancel some things out, which is a little frustrating to me. Particularly in the evenings. That's when everything happens and everyone wants to meet with us or feed us. Speaking of feeding us, we have every single day in July filled up for members to feed us. That's quite impressive for this place.
I said it was an eventful week. It was probably the biggest week of Alisha Wells' life. On Tuesday, June 30, she and Akua Wells were married by President Bruce. That was super exciting! Elder Abbott and I got to be the two witnesses. Akua was so nervous before the wedding, just waiting at the church for everything to start, so we were there to help calm him down. The ceremony was quick and sweet. Since then, Akua literally has not stopped smiling. Alisha has been such a good influence on him.
Three days later Alisha was baptized!!! Two days after that she was confirmed!! It was so great! It has been so long since this place has seen a baptism. It almost feels unreal to me; that we actually had a baptism last weekend. I was so convinced I wouldn't see one here while still on my mission. But it happened! And there's another one this weekend! And another after that!! Goodness, I am so blessed to be serving here at this time. There have been a lot of experiences, events and instances throughout my mission that I feel were preparing me and leading me up to my time to serve here. I think that's super cool. Our all-knowing Father knew long before I even started my mission that I would come here, and He put me through what I needed and where I needed and who I needed in order to help me be ready. And I'm pretty sure He has been doing that for me my whole life and will continue doing so, just as He does for each of us. These are just things I've been pondering. It's hard to fully express these thoughts though. I just know God's perfect hand is in our life's.

I hope everyone had a safe and fun Independence Day! Elder Abbott and I enjoyed our evening with many of the branch members at one members home out in the country. There was tons of delicious food and many games to play, along with a terrific display of fireworks. It really was a marvelous time.
Brother and Sister Halleman have a young granddaughter named Kylee, who was baptized a few weeks ago. Her family is an inactive/part member family who haven't had anything to do with the church for years and they live way out in the middle of nowhere, but they invited us over for dinner on Friday night with Bro. and Sis. Halleman. They cooked us up a huge meal on the grill. It was a very pleasant time. Kylee's mom, who is not a member, had lot's of questions about life and certain aspects of it and our church, but since they were only a couple of hours late of getting started on dinner we weren't able to answer very many of them. However, we were able to have a decent visit with them and set up a time this Wednesday to come over and answer all (or many) of her questions. We have a very good feeling about this and all of us are surprised that she is so open to listening to us because of the anti-Mormon background she comes from. Seeds have definitely been planted and are beginning to grow. I think Kylee coming to church with her grandparents for over a year and getting baptized was key. Now, hopefully, we can bring the light of the gospel into Kylee's immediate family. So good things keep happening around here, and the work moves forward! I don't ever want to leave.
We look forward to another fantastic weekend. I hope you all have a great week too!
I love you guys!

-Elder Curtis

She usually has a great smile, there's just something about women in jumpsuits that doesn't make them look happy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

June 29, 2015

It's a good time to be in Litchfield, Illinois. I was looking back at when I first got here and the state things were in and the improvements that were needed. But it was easy to see that some time soon it would be so much better; that it was heading in the right direction toward progress. I never anticipated how fast it would get there though; I thought for sure I'd be long gone before it got to where it is now. The Lord has definitely hastened His work here and the rest of us are catching on. 

Alicia's baptism is a go for this Friday and we are all very excited about that. Get this though, she and Akua are getting married tomorrow!!! He officially popped the question like last week, and they're getting married TOMORROW. Obviously it's not going to be a huge ceremony. Only a few people know and are invited, including us, so we feel very privileged. President Bruce, the branch president, will be doing the ceremony. A wedding and a baptism- This is quite a big week for Alicia; we are so excited for her; she is so excited too! These are experiences I wish you could just be here to see for yourself because it's all so magical and you just have to be here to know how awesome this all is. 

Mike was at church again and he was finally able to stay all three hours. He was rocking all the classes, being the best participant in gospel principles and at the end of priesthood meeting he stood up and bore his testimony of sorts on eternal marriage, love and joy with his wife and that he never would have found the gospel without his wife joining the church and passing away and how he needs this to be with her forever. It was powerful. People love Mike and we are all excited for his baptism next week!

We all also love the Smiths. There was a moment in branch council meeting when we were talking about Mason's baptism coming up and President Bruce went on about how awesome the Smiths are and the amazing, genuine progress that they have made and continue making. I personally am very impressed with them and the faith they keep showing. Last week Mason was concerned that he wasn't getting answers to his prayers; that God wasn't talking back to him. Sister Smith was in the hospital earlier this week. While she was there Mason was feeling really worried about her. When he expressed this to Brother Smith, he said, "You know what you've got to do." Mason said, "Yeah, I need to pray."
The next morning Brother Smith asked Mason how he was feeling. Mason explained that he felt good because last night God had answered a lot of his questions. Brother Smith told him that's what happens when you open your heart to Him. In reflecting upon this I was so deeply touched by the love and care God has for every single one of us, shown by how He responds to a humble eleven year old boy who wanted to hear from Him in a time of concern. If an eleven year old can pray to an Almighty God and receive answers, full of peace and comfort then so can we. I know God is in every detail of our lives, watching over us and guiding us from the day we are born to the day we are welcomed back. I know He lives. Above all I know He loves us. I am so grateful for the faith a Mason to seek Him and follow the Savior's example in a couple weeks and be baptized. (Sister Smith is out of the hospital by the way). 

I had my last zone conference this week too. We traveled back to the old stomping grounds of Urbana to have it. It was very strange being there again. I just seems like yesterday I was serving there only everything was green this time. Unfortunately I wasn't able to stop and say hi to anyone while I was up there. I did however see a few of the sister in the ward who made us lunch.
 I can't believe how fast all of this has gone by. I am so indebted to the Lord for the time I've been given to serve Him. I love this work so much. I love my mission. I love these people. Oh how I love my Savior!
That's all for this week. I love you guys!

-Elder Curtis

Rolling in the back seat with my boys. On my right is my current companion, Elder Abbott. On my left is my former companion, Elder Ivey, the first of I trained back in St. Louis/Jefferson City.

​I caught a bird. :)

Monday, June 15, 2015

June 15, 2015

We're staying here!!!
Oh my goodness I am so thrilled that the Lord is allowing me and Elder Abbott to work here a little longer. I truly love these people. I really don't think I've loved an area as much as I do Litchfield. We're both staying but we decided to tell everyone we're both leaving to see how surprised they would be when they see that we aren't. Oh my gosh, I feel so terrible. The whole branch was so broken-hearted. Everyone kept hugging us and telling us how much they will miss us and how much they appreciated us, and there we were just blatantly and repeatedly lying. It was a stupid idea of a prank, I've learned my lesson.
I gave a talk yesterday and I finally got what I deserved and didn't get to finish my talk because the speaker before me went way over. So now I know how disappointing it is when you don't have enough time to portray the message you've prepared.
We had a great week with lessons. Seven member presents! That's pretty much a record breaker for this area.
We were teaching Mike last night and he was telling us that he was telling some family about his decision to be baptized and one aunt of his rudely asked "so you're a Mormon now?" And he defended our religion, bore his testimony and encouraged her to "be more Christian herself". He then went on about how the "Mormon" religion is so criticized, ridiculed, attacked and mocked for it's beliefs but then he went on about all the good things about "us" and how "we" believe true things that are all good. He was referring to Latter-day Saints with the words "us" and "we"! I wish you could understand just how amazing and how big of a difference that is for this guy! We are so excited for him!

Things are continuing to go super well for us. Thank you for your prayers and support. You guys are the best! Love you!

-Elder Curtis

June 8, 2015

If only you all could have been here to feel the joy and excitement I feel right now. This has been one of the greatest weeks ever! I've had the greatest lessons of my entire mission within the week and things have really picked up from them. We now have three solid baptismal dates!!! One with Mason, one with Mike, and one with our new investigator Alicia! All of them came to church yesterday too! We are so elated!

Alicia just moved up here from Tennessee last week to get away from some... problems. She and Akua Wells (a member here), have been dating online for some time now so she came up here to be with him and his family who are active members. She had never been to an LDS church or even heard of it until they started dating. When she got here they brought her to our Book of Mormon Study that we do each Wednesday evening. Though she was confused as to what exactly we were talking about she was very intrigued and amazed at the idea that there is another book testifying of Jesus Christ "just like the Bible does". She asked lots of questions, like "Who's Nephi?" and "What does hearken mean?" with such a longing in her tone. You can tell she has been thirsting for something more in her life. So a couple days later when we came over and taught her about the restoration she quickly and happily accepted the invitation to be baptized on June 27th. What's even better is though Akua has struggled in the past with worthiness he is doing everything he can to be worthy to baptize her. Their whole family is getting jacked about missionary work. It's so great!

The past two lessons with Mike have been remarkable. I am so grateful for the guidance of the Spirit, otherwise I know there would be no way he would have realized the truth of what we have been teaching him all this time and accept the invitation to be baptized. This guy is one person I will be eternally grateful for the opportunity I have had to share the gospel with. It has almost felt like a battle at times trying to get him to understand things to the point of conversion. Finally he has made the connections and is recognizing God's finger, pointing him where he needs to go. On Saturday we taught him about covenants and the plan of salvation once again. That was the best lesson I have ever taught, per se; I don't believe we were the one's actually teaching at all. At the end of the lesson Mike said "If only I had known this when the Sisters met with us in Washington. I would have jumped on this immediately." He want's to be sealed to his wife so bad. He loves her so much and he's dead set on being baptized now, so he can be with her and his girls for eternity. Our Heavenly Father has made such a perfect plan. I learned that even more from that lesson as well as the absolute necessity for covenants. Oh how I love the gospel!!!

Our visit with the Smith's was so wonderful. If only you could see the change that has taken place in their lives. They're still as quirky as ever, but the Spirit is in their lives again. They continue making sacrifices and are already receiving rich blessings for them. We don't have to point things out to them or teach them principles anymore because they are doing all of that themselves. They have become self-sufficient in the gospel. That for them is nothing short of a miracle. No doubt the atonement is real! We were about to begin our lesson when Rene and Barbara (Bro. and Sis. Smith) in a way began bearing their testimonies to us and pointing out the change that they can see in their lives as they've let the gospel into their hearts and put the Savior and His commandments first. It is marvelous!

We also had wonderful lessons with Brian, Haus, and Treya this week. We are eager to help them progress and get their families involved as well.

I love this area so much. I love these people with all my heart. Transfer calls come this Saturday; I am pleading with the Lord to let me stay and finish my mission here. I know I was sent here through inspiration. I hope with all my heart that I can stay a little longer.

Our water is clean now. Yay! We are grateful for that. But after it got clean we didn't have any hot water, only cold. Really cold. That went on for a couple of days. Yesterday evening we finally got it back so we enjoyed a nice, warm shower for the first time in a while this morning.

Well, I think that's the scoop for this week. I hope I have good news next week. I love you guys!

-Elder Curtis

June 2, 2015

Hey people. It has been such a wonderful week.
We had to most amazing lesson with Mike. While he was in California visiting some friends some "Mormons" sopped by unexpectedly and talked to him. He soon found out that these friends of his had joined the church a few months ago and he didn't even know. He was deeply moved by this information and he took it to mean that God was trying to point him in the direction He wanted him to go. (which is right). Things were finally clicking for Mike and it was so amazing to be there see it and talk about what God wants us to do. His views and beliefs have evolved so much and now they're taking huge leaps. It's marvelous.
When we were driving to church on Sunday we were stopped at a stop sign and we say Mike in his Durango drive pasts us and pull into the church! He came and he brought his daughters with him! He really is trying to follow God's directions! Normally the girls are pretty chaotic but they did surprisingly well and there were several branch members who helped out by sharing some snacks and giving them paper and crayons. Mike is going to come next week too and instead of us trying to set up the next time to meet with him, he asked us.
The Smiths also came to church! This is their second week in a row and they don't plan of cutting the streak there. They continue to make awesome progress. In our lesson with them on Friday they asked for blessings, which I know was a big expression of their faith and desire to keep making progress and doing what's right.
We were finally able to see Brian again too. We say him Sunday night. He is still so solid and he wants to come to church, he just struggles with high stress. But he explained how he hasn't been able to go a day without thinking about us and what we've taught him and how he sees a huge difference in his life because he's been praying every day and reading often. He really wants to get his wayward daughter to church and meeting with us too. We talked about the Priesthood in depth and answered many of his questions. It was a really great lesson and we began to see the desire swell within him as we talked about the atonement and its effect as we live the gospel.
Earlier in the week we picked up two more investigators, Trey-a (spelled phonetically), and Haus(that's like boss, but with and h instead of a b, and I think that such a great name. I can't get over it). Trey-a is an "ex-Jehovah's Witness, emphasis on the EX" They both thought our message was right and they believe it is something they should learn more about. I was on exchanges when we picked them up so I don't know the details, but it was a very good experience.
Speaking of very good experiences, yesterday we had the tremendous privilege of meeting together as a mission and hear from Elder D. Todd Christofferson!! It was glorious!! He is so wise, and also so funny! He said some amazing things. I'm still digesting the whole experience. I don't know how many of you already knew this but he grew up in Pleasant Grove, so he and I had a pretty great connection when we shook hands and he asked where I was from. I also had the opportunity to sing for him in a small choir. We sang the efy medley. I really can not convey the thrill and joy it was to be there, so just trust me when I say it was phenomenal, unforgettable, and I really wish you could have been there to experience it yourself.
One thing that is not so pleasing about this week is the fact that our water is contaminated with rust. It's so nasty. We can't use our water at all, so we've been showering and stuff with water bottles. It's pretty great. Not really.
This is kind of funny. I woke up in the middle of the night and shifted myself to a different position when I saw Elder Abbott sitting on his bed with his feet on the floor looking at me as if he were waiting on me. Confused but delirious I assumed I hadn't heard the alarm and it was time to get up, so I rolled out and knelt down and began to pray aloud. Elder Abbott followed suit and knelt down as well. Still rather confused after the prayer because it was so dark outside I checked the phone for the time. It was 2:31. Elder Abbott had already left the room but I went straight back to my bed, knowing he would figure it out soon enough. We still have no idea why he as sitting up and why we both assumed it was time to get up. We got a kick out of it though.
Okay, I think that's it for this week. Tune in next week for more. Have a great week, everyone!

-Elder Curtis

 Here is what our water looks like. Looks good, don't it?

In case you are really struggling to figure out who these people are, it's me and Elder Abbott

Wednesday, June 3, 2015


This is Mason and his younger brother, Zack at church all dressed up.

​This is how we are used to seeing Zack. We call him Mowgli though. Never have I ever seen him in anything other than a slightly to big pair of hand-me-down underwear until he came to church.

​This is me and our branch mission leader, Jim Kinney, when he took us golfing. I love Jim!

​Benefits of being senior companion.

​This is the alley way behind our house. It's super green and I like it.

May 26, 2015

Hello there!

It was a swell week. Particularly Sunday. Sunday was super great. I'll get to that later though.

Exciting news! We finally found another investigator! His name is Jim Walker. Man, it sure has been a while since we've been able to find. We were tracting here in Litchfield and nobody was answering their door. Finally one opened. This guy knew about our church; he explained how he has a sister who is a member in Danville, IL. We tried to talk to him more but he insisted he wasn't interested. He was also rather intoxicated, but we may try him at a later, perhaps more sober date. The next door we knocked opened; it was Jim. Elder Abbott was doing the approach, explaining that our message is one of hope and happiness. Well this guy, Jim, looked at us from his wheel chair and said pitifully (as he started to shut the door) "Well I don't have any of that in my life, so no thanks." Elder Abbott quickly explained that our message is what brings the hope and happiness he was talking about, but Jim still wasn't bought. Seeing and hearing this nearly broke my heart; I knew we were supposed to talk to him and that our message would change his life. Before he was able to completely shut his door I asked him if he had ever heard of The Book of Mormon. He said he had not and I said I would like to give him one, to which he admitted he would likely never look at it. I asked if I could give it to him anyway and he reluctantly agreed. I then pulled out a '#BecauseHelives' card and used the opportunity to explain what it was which led so easily back to hope and happiness which we had promised. Following the Spirit, I bore my own testimony of the Savior and the Book of Mormon and the message we have and once again asked him if we could share our message with him. There suddenly was a change in him and he said, "Okay, come on in."

We were able to talk about him and his background and then tell him about his loving Father in heaven, his Savior and His gospel, the apostasy, and the restoration of the gospel. It was remarkable to see him gradually change his attitude towards life. As we discussed these things he began sharing experiences in his own life to relate to them and he soon was able to recall several amazing experiences in his life where God provided miracles for him and his family. We saw him go from gloomy and hopeless, to humble and grateful and aware that there is still hope. What's amazing to me is he realized these things seemingly on his own. As we shared the good news he felt the Spirit, and the Spirit brought back to his mind the miracles and blessings in his life and reminded him of the happiness, hope and love he used to know a little about, but had lost over time and negligence. When we left, he was eager to ready The Book of Mormon every day and to discover its truth for himself, whereas before he didn't even want to take it.

We are going to come back next week and talk to him more, but I will never forget that first experience with Jim Walker. Seeing him change from the gospel as he felt the Spirit was truly inspiring and enlightening.

More Exciting news! Sister Smith got a wheel chair!! Woot woot! We saw them on Friday and when we walked in their home we were surprised to see her sitting in her wheel chair smiling at us. This is such a blessing! Now they will be able to come to church and Mason can be baptized! The Smith's are so ready and eager to make changes in their life, and they are making lots of changes on their own now. When we were with them on Friday they told us that they won't be at church this Sunday because they don't have money for gas, but they'll be there next Sunday and they are going to budget so that they can keep coming each week. So that's what we expected. When we pulled into the church parking lot on Sunday morning we were surprised to see the Smith's truck parked outside. They were all there, dressed up so nicely and they looked so happy to be there. Oh I wish you could have seen how good they looked. If you knew the Smiths and the condition they live in you would be shocked at how nice they looked at church. We were so thrilled! A member gave Mason his own set of scriptures to keep which just about thrilled him to death.

Later when talking to the Branch President we found out that Brother and Sister Smith had reached out to him during the weekend expressing their desire to come to church and meet with him that Sunday. Well due to the Smith's past he was a little reluctant but prayed about it and said he would help them that week and meet with them. So they were able to come to church and afterward met with President Bruce to tell him that they had made some changes in order to afford coming to church every week and how they were going to pay their tithing and how Brother Smith wanted to prepare to receive the Melchizedek Priesthood and so forth. They were making all these changes on their own and this showed sincerity. I'm so excited about this because we've been working with the Smith's for quite a while now. Just after I first got here we met them and picked Mason up as an investigator. We were excited then because it was a less-active, part-member family who was eager and willing to come back to church/be baptized. But when we announced to the branch counsel that we were working with the Smiths, most of them jumped down our throats and strongly doubted and discouraged us about them, talking about how in the past they just used the system. No one wanted to help them. When we asked for people to go with us to teach them they would actually suggest we go see someone else instead or would grudgingly go with us but would continue to doubt them and discourage us.

Well while we've been meeting with the Smith's we saw the light of Christ re-enter their lives and we saw the changes they were making, physical/temporal and spiritually. We did not lose hope in them and they continued to improve. Well suddenly they are making big changes, and they're humbly doing it for all the branch to see. I am so proud of them.

Still in church: Elder Abbott gave a talk in sacrament meeting as well as the branch's only missionary who just returned home from her mission in Texas. There were also tons of other less-active members there who we have been working with for some time now. It was marvelous! And guess what we sang for the intermediate hymn?... 'As Sisters In Zion'! Yep! As Sisters In Zion! It was grand. There's no way I could keep a straight face while singing it. And what was also great is Elder Abbott lost his cool up on the stand when he looked down at me and saw me half laughing/half singing and I believe many other people saw him suddenly do the same and there was a chain reaction. I just don't know why they chose that hymn.

They also reorganized the Elder Quorum Presidency this week so that we actually have an active president. Again, we are thrilled!

Robert and Jinnifer were sick again this week so they were unable to come to church or meet with us. Hopefully next week!

About a month ago we had a spontaneous mission conference with Elder Quentin L. Cook, Elder Soares, and Bishop Stevenson which was absolutely superb. We all knew we were extremely fortunate and that something like that was surly never to happen again. Well the other night we got a call from our leaders who have informed us that we will be having yet another mission conference on June 1 with Elder D. Todd Christofferson!!!! That's right, Elder D. Todd Christofferson!! AHHHHHHH!!!!!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!!!!!!!!!!!!! He has quickly become one of my favorites (if one was to choose favorites) and he's coming here and I get to meet him and hear from him directly and take a picture with him!!! I'm so pumped!!! It's going to be the BEST! The 1st is a Monday, so our P-day will be switched to Tuesday, so that's when you should expect next weeks email. I'm so excited!!!!

I'm going to try sending some pictures now.

-Elder Curtis

May 18, 2015

So this week was sort of uneventful. Only two of our investigators kept their appointments and we weren't able to find anyone either. On the plus side we got eight referrals! Three of them came from a member we went on team-ups with who returned from his mission about a year and a half ago. The others came a less-active member who showed up at church. He made a point to talk to us and tell us he has some family and some friends that would like probably like to talk to us. So hopefully we will be able to pull out something solid from all of those!
We haven't been able to meet with Brian/Samantha, Mike, Tanya, or Lori/Keenan, in a while but we will hopefully get in with them soon. Mike sent us some interesting texts over the week. He was in California, visiting a friend and the "Mormons" happened to knock on the door while he was there. He took that to mean that God was reaching out to him... So yay! Later he sent us a text how he's been really busy lately but he's looking forward to meeting soon because he's been greatly moved this week... Not one hundred percent sure what that means buts it's hard not to be optimistic about it.
Mason and his family might be able to come to church very soon! The only thing that was holding them back is that his mom couldn't walk into the building, but they talked to her doctor and he is trying to prescribe her a wheelchair. Once the insurance approves that they will ship it out to them and they can come to church!! (Prayers please?)
We were unable to see Robert this week and we don't know why they didn't come to church but they are having us over for dinner tonight so we will find out then and probably be teaching him about the plan of salvation. I hope things work out with Robert. So far the only big thing for him would be smoking, but we can get that taken care of easily. I have a lot of hope for that guy.
Elder Abbott and I were invited into primary to talk about baptism and show the kids the font. Oh my goodness, primary is the best! Kids are adorable. And we sang out of the children's song book. I think I want to be a primary teacher forever.
Okay, the college is kicking us out because they close early this week? (We went golfing again so that's why we came later.)

Bye! I love you all!

-Elder Curtis

Friday, May 15, 2015

May 11, 2015


Okay, so it was kind of a slow week, but still kind of exciting and there were definitely highlights.

We sustained the new second counselor in the branch presidency yesterday as well as an entirely new relief society presidency. We are anticipating an entirely new elders quorum as well. So many changes!

Unfortunately we haven't been able to meet with Brian or Samantha and just about every other investigator is pretty much at a stand still right now. Some of them we'll have to drop unfortunately.

We are still able to keep solid appointments with some investigators such as, Mike, Brandon and Mason. It's frustrating with Mason and Brandon because they are both so ready for baptism. We've gone through absolutely everything they need to prepare and they're keeping all of the commitments they can, they just can't come to church. UGH!... One day. One day.

When we go see Mason we never know what we'll see, hear or learn or what to expect. When we arrived this week to teach them, we ended up being taught how to give someone a tattoo- practice with a real tattoo gun included (It was on paper, not skin).

The best lesson we had this week was easily the one we had with Robert. We taught him the restoration. The lesson went well I think; Robert was very attentive the whole time and participated well and we testified by the Spirit often. As we began wrapping things up I asked Robert "Do you believe that these things are true?" He looked at me and with a light in his eyes he said, "I know they're true." Slightly taken aback at his surety, but feeling the spirit of what he said and seeking the Spirits guidance I looked back at him and simply asked "How do you know these things are true?" and he firmly replied, "Because of the way I feel."
What a perfect answer! It was obvious that he was feeling the Spirit and was able to recognize that its reassuring feeling which he was experiencing were a witness to the truth of what we had told him. We were so pumped up with the Spirit after that lesson! I still get stoked about it when I think of it. Moments like that are the golden gems of missionary work.
Robert is pretty dang solid. We knew he wouldn't be able to come to church yesterday because he was really sick the night before when we were teaching him. But I believe he will be there next week.

Hopefully we will get things going with our other investigators. Thanks for your prayers!

Love, Elder Curtis

May 4, 2015 (Star Wars Day)

Happy Star Wars Day everyone!!!

Man, there's so much to share and not much time. Hopefully I can get through it all. You might not get many details though.

Transfer calls came. Elder Abbott and I are staying here in Litchfield! So my address remains 1120 N Montgomery Litchfield IL 62056 for at least another 6 weeks. I am glad I am staying here. We are anticipating a very good transfer with lots of exciting changes and improvements. The work here in the past has been very slow, (near stagnant). I'm told that general authorities in SLC have had their eyes on it and have asked a lot of questions why it has been in that condition. But over the past 3-8 months it has slowly been making great improvements and just recently some changes have been made in the auxiliaries and there has been a general shift in attitude in the branch lately so things are beginning to progress and function well again! I'm glad to be a part of it. Much of the success in the branch is due to the Nance's, the senior missionary couple who have been here for 18 months, living right next door to us. But they completed their mission and moved back to Utah just last Monday. Oh how we miss them! They were the best missionary couple ever! We owe so much to them and they have really earned a special place in my heart forever. (It's so weird without them, but on the bright side we have very nice furniture now.) It will be difficult without them but we are eager and excited to keep working hard with this branch. I am seriously so thrilled with everything happening here. You could only understand if you were here and involved with everything like we are. It's miraculous!
Last week we had something interesting happen as well. We do service at a local thrift store and while were there we started talking to one of the other volunteers named Robert. He asked us where our church is located. After explaining it's location he pleasantly exclaimed that it is a lot closer than the lds church he and his wife had already been going to. We were a little perplexed. He explained that his wife is a member of our church but we didn't recognize her name after he told us what it was. We got his number and later set up an appointment with them where we met his wife, Jinnifer. She was so thrilled to see us. She had joined the church in an alternate stake and married Robert but moved into our branch boundaries about ten years ago and had assumed that the closest meeting house was in Edwardsville, which is about 45 minutes south of us and still in a completely different stake. Some how she was able to slip into the unknown for ten years and yet still went to church off and on without being found out where she lives and that her records need to be moved. Thankfully she is found now, her records are being sought after, and Robert was picked up as a new investigator! He said the only thing that would probably stop him for joining the church is his anxiety of someone asking him to give a talk... I think we'll just deal with that.
Last week I also went golfing for the first time. That was actually quite thrilling. I'm horribly bad at it, I think, but I was starting to own that 4 iron. We didn't keep score but I think the best I did was a bogey. I still really enjoyed it and we'll probably go again next Monday.
Okay, so get this. About a week and a half ago we got the announcement that we were going to have another mission conference on May 2. We already had a mission conference this year where Elder Sitati of the Seventy presided. But suddenly we were having another one. Well Okay! So on Saturday the whole mission met in St. Louis for this spontaneous mission conference. Oh! It was so awesome to see everyone in the same place again; that just doesn't happen. I got to see almost all of my so many missionaries I've served around and have grown to love like many previous companions, Elder Ivey, Elder Julian, Elder Davis, Elder Johnson, Elder Lazaro, both Elder Andersons, and Elder Cook... And by Elder Cook I mean, Elder Quentin L. Cook. That's right ELDER QUENTIN L. COOK!!!!! The one that's an APOSTLE!!!! He and Elder Ulisses Soares of THE PRESIDENCY OF THE SEVENTY and Bishop Gary E. Stevenson, the PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS (these are in all-caps because I just can't get over those flipping awesome titles!!!) were coming to Saint Louis for a multi-stake priesthood leadership meeting which I guess happens every four or five years. With two hours of extra time in their schedules, Elder Cook wanted to meet with all the missionaries. We all got to shake their hands and they all spoke to us. They did a Q and A and Elder Cook bore probably the most powerful testimony of Jesus Christ and the church I have ever heard, especially in person, and then he gave us an apostolic blessing! POWER. That's all I feel like I can say to describe the whole experience with them and the Spirit that was so abundant. It was an occasion I will never forget. I'm still so giddy about it!
Jesus Christ lives. This is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Leader of it. These are facts. I know they are true. I have been assured that that is true, not just by an apostle of the Lord, but especially by the Spirit of God. It has become so real to me that these things are true since being a emissary of Christ myself, and Saturday just solidified it so much in my heart. I know that Christ lives and this is His church! It's true guys. It's all true! We are so blessed to have this knowledge! God really is our Father and we are going to live with Him again! Christ really is our Redeemer and paid for our sins. He really does. Joseph Smith really did see them, exactly the way he said he did and they really did call him as a prophet and have called each prophet since. I know all of these things to are true. They are reality. I am so grateful for these truths. I testify of these things in the Savior's name, Jesus Christ. Amen.

Apr. 27, 2015

Hey everyone! We had a busy day today and we got to emailing late. I have stuff to say but literally no time to say it. So basically this is for you to know that you were not forgotten/neglected completely and I am doing swell! I have exciting news to share next week so get on the edge of your seats!
I love you all!

-Elder Curtis

Apr. 20, 2015

Hey everyone!

So not much happened this week. Nothing new anyway. We're teaching and finding every day almost so that's super nice and I'm loving it!
Brian was not able to come to church and neither was Samantha. They were up all night with the baby crying. At least it wasn't a one-sided bummer that no one came to church sometime. Brian and Samantha were both pretty bummed about it as well.
That is pretty much it and I'm really tired, so I'm going to go even though this is probably the shortest shortest and driest email I've sent. (Sorry Mom)
Thank you so much for your love and prayers!
I love you guys!

-Elder Curtis

Apr. 13, 2015

I have some very exciting news today. It will sound great to you but I don't think you will fully understand the joy that I feel because of this...
BRIAN CAME TO CHURCH!!!!!!! That's right, you read that correctly. Brian Hilt, our investigator from Litchfield, Illinois, came to church on Sunday. And get this, he loved it! He liked how multiple people speak on different things and the feeling there. I was deeply pleased with how many of the members of the branch came up to him and introduced themselves and made him feel welcome and comfortable. He told some members that he would be back next week! I a so happy!! I thought I would end up going my whole time here without someone even coming to church but now I don't have to worry about that anymore. Brian in progressing very well. Things with his adoption are now final and the baby is his. This is such a huge relief for him and his family. On Friday we were able to meet him at his house where we were introduced to his daughter, Samantha. Brian told us at an earlier date that she is even more interested than he is and she would often take his Book of Mormon to read it, so we were definitely pleased to finally meet her and teach her the restoration, which went very well. Samantha was unable to come to church because she had to watch Roger (the baby). I think part of Brian coming alone was to see if he would be comfortable bringing Roger with them so Samantha could come too. Hopefully he will do that. Thank you for everyone who kept Brian in their prayers. He and Samantha are now working on picking a baptismal date. And Brian also informed us that his oldest daughter is pretty interested in the church as well!

Earlier this week we picked up a nice elderly woman named Vanessa, who lives two housed down from Brian. We had a very nice discussion on the restoration on her front porch and I could tell that she was deeply touched by the Spirit as we shared that message with her. We hope to be able to get her progressing as well. We explained how to get to the church from her house and she seemed willing to go but was out of town this weekend.

On Thursday we picked up two more investigators in a town called Gillespie. Their names are Jacob and Wendy. Jacob comes from a religious background but Wendy does not. She had many questions about God and the world and how it's hard to be a good person. We had a really great discussion about the atonement, Christ's grace, the restoration and so forth. Before we left Wendy said "I feel a lot better now than before you got here. It's no accident that you came here today, especially after the week we've had." Hearing things like that just warms my soul.

We also received a bunch of referrals this week! There has also been a giant shift in the state and attitude/progress of the branch this week. My hope for this area is really catching some flame.

Also on Thursday we had some severe weather. There were supposed to be tornadoes but nobody spotted any, which I'm honestly kind of bummed about. I think it would be really cool to see one of those. But just before the storm the sky got deep, dark yellow and soon the rain was coming down in sheets and the wind was very strong. After an hour or so all the heavy rain was gone and the the worst of it was over. We got reports from our mission vehicle coordinator that six mission vehicles were totaled due to soft-ball sized hail that landed on them and made giant holes. Though we were clear of any hail we did end up with a nice little lake in our back yard which we subsequently called Lake Curtis, located in the Abbott National Forest (which consists of the three to four trees we have in the back yard). Below is a picture of me in Lake Curtis.

I think that is all I had for this week! Thank you for all of your prayers! They are being answered. Have a great week! Sure love ya!

-Elder Curtis

Apr. 6, 2015

Hey everyone!

Wasn't General Conference just glorious? I loved it so much!! How blessed we are! I am so grateful for living prophets on the earth today. I am so grateful to have a fullness of the gospel in my life. I am grateful to be a missionary and have the responsibility to serve the Lord full time. The gospel is the best thing on earth!
Time is sparse today; we need to be somewhere at 1. So first off I need to do a little correction regarding my address. I gave you the address of the people living next door to us who are senior missionaries. The reason being that when I first got here we were told that we would be moving into that apartment at the end of April and closing the lease on ours. So instead of having to switch addresses on you in the middle of a transfer I figured I would just give you the address next door since I would be in there soon. Turns out I had to switch addresses anyway The people in the office have changed their mind and we are actually keeping our apartment and the one we were going to have to move into is going to be closed. So, the address you need to write on any mail is:

1120 N. Montgomery st.
Litchfield IL 62056

I want to make sure you caught that. 1120 NOT 1122.

We had a fair week with its typical ups and downs. We had an awesome lesson on the plan of salvation with Jeff and Natasha. They thought it was "really cool" and made a lot of sense... (DING!) but they won't agree to a baptism date until they see what the church is like. In the past they've had some bad experiences at church so they want to see what we're like. Understandable.

We had another great lesson with Mason! His parents even broke out their old quads and were reading along in the scriptures with us. It was a lesson all about Jesus Christ and the atonement. It was so good!

Please keep Brian in your prayers! He is our really solid investigator that we just can't meet with. He's going through some adoption issues right now and it's really got him stressed out and we haven't been able to meet with him lately because of it.

Okay, time to go. I love you guys! I do. I do. I do. Have a great week and remember, the blessings of general conference come AFTER the conference is over. Review, study and live the principles taught.

Sure love ya!

-Elder Curtis


The scar

​Can we be any more cool?

​I finally found someone who would just listen! He was very quiet, but his name is Abe. I was impressed with the high standards he has and his baller outfit.

​Getting stitches!

March 30, 2015


So good news: My eye is doing very well and I've got some cool scars now! (A picture will be added if possible)

Also, we picked up two new investigators! We're continuing the same pattern here of picking people up, teaching a modest amount of lessons, getting good stuff done and feeling the Spirit abundantly and yet nobody comes to church. Man, if I had a dollar for every time someone committed to coming to church and then didn't then I'd be handing one fat tithing envelope to the bishop.

We did set a date with one investigator, Mason Smith. He's a 10 year old from a less-active family. The date is for May 16. It's a goal for the whole family to start coming back to church and stay active. Mason himself is awesome and extremely solid. He wants to be a missionary one day! We just can't baptize him until his family starts coming as well. They want to, they just have a couple medical reasons keeping them from coming...

I told you about Jeff, the 20 year old we tracted into who is living with his girl friends parents. Well we had another lesson with him and picked up his girlfriend, Natasha, too. We taught them the restoration; it was marvelous! Natasha shared personal, past experiences as to why she has a faith in Jesus Christ, related to prayer. Later when we asked them if they would read the Book of Mormon and pray to know that is is true and Joseph Smith was prophet. When they said they would we asked them if they believed that God would answer their prayer and Natasha pretty much bore her own testimony of prayer and that God hears and answers them. She knew that God had answered her prayers before, so why wouldn't He now? She showed great faith and it was inspiring.

In other news: I got my new companion on Wednesday. Before Wednesday I had to be in a Tri-companionship because Elder Anderson had to go early, so two Elders from another area came down here. I don't ever want to be in a tri-companionship again. It threw everything off. It was like having two third wheels. Among other reasons I was glad when Wednesday afternoon came along and I was able to get Elder Abbott. He is cool. He's from Centerville, UT. We're getting along very well so far, it should be a pretty smooth transfer again!

I AM SO STOKED FOR GENERAL CONFERENCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And Easter! I think Easter is probably my favorite holiday. I love the meaning of it! Jesus Christ lives! I can't think of anything greater to celebrate. AND we get to hear from Him through prophets! AHHH! I'M SO PUMPED!!! Everyone, do everything you can to watch every session of general conference. Watch it! Listen to it! Read it! There is nothing better for you to do this weekend, so do it.

That's it for this week! Actually, I'll see if I can get some more pictures sent.
Everyone have a super great week!

Sure love ya!

-Elder Curtis

March 23, 2015

It was a rather eventful week, or at least a lot more interesting than what usually happens in a typical missionary week. I don't know that I'll be able to remember all that happened but I'll give my best shot.
First. Last week I mentioned that we would be driving up to Springfield to play some sports with a bunch of other missionaries. (That alone makes this week much more interesting than our typical week in Litchfield) The first game we played was kickball. I was the only one who scored a home run. Woot! My team still lost by one point though.
Next we played football. It was the last play of the game, it was all tied up and we had possession of the ball. It was 2nd and goal with about 9 yards to go for a touchdown. The ball gets snapped and I take off for a pass. I get open as I cut for the middle. The ball gets passed just ahead of me so I pick up speed, my eyes fixed on catching it. Just when the ball was inches from my hands I came to a very sudden halt as I crashed face first into the field goal post. I rebounded to the ground where I realized what just happened. I couldn't believe I did that. All the Elders gathered around me, I tried to get up but they refused me. The FIRST thing that was said was "Oh man! You're going to need stitches."
I had a big gash just above my right eye and another smaller one to the side of that. Blood ran down my head as I was lying there supine so it looked like I had Indian war paint! I also bit a good chunk of my upper lip out (the exact same spot that was bitten out a few years ago playing church ball).
The zone leaders decided I should go to an urgent care as asap as possible so before they got me to the car I asked for a priesthood blessing and then we left.
We got to the Springfield Clinic and after the waiting process they brought me in and saw me. Well they wanted to give me a CT scan for some reason, but didn't have the people to do working then so they insisted that we go straight to the E.R.
We got to the E.R. and waited and waited until I was admitted into a room and to cut it short I did not need the scan but they took several other tests, x-rays of my arm and random exercises. After several 6 hours of that, rotating through several different doctors, one finally took another look at my eye and said surprisingly "Oh, you're going to need stitches!" It took them that long to figure out the only thing I needed them to do was give me the stitches when one missionary noticed it immediately. Haha
After another hour and a half we got out with five stitches on my face. We were hungry and tired and we didn't get back into Litchfield until11:35pm.
Don't run into stationary objects. Especially really hard ones like metal poles.
I got the stitches out on Friday.

The next day we had an appointment set up with someone we tracted into named Jeff. He's 20 and living with his girl friend in her parents house. The lesson was really good. It was mostly just introductory stuff with a lot of testimony and promises. The Spirit was really strong and his eyes watered at least three times. He is looking hard for a job so he can get transportation and a phone and so he can take care of his two month old son. He really wants to learn more and he also really wants his girl friend to be there when we see him tomorrow!

Later on in the week we had another appointment scheduled with a potential investigator, Lori, and we were pleasantly surprised to have her 12 year old grandson, Keenan, join us because he's "extremely intrigued" by us. It was a really good lesson about the atonement and the grace of Jesus Christ. Two more new investigators! YEAH!

This week was transfer calls. I am staying here in Litchfield but I am losing Elder Anderson. He is now in the mission office. Because of certain things he has to do as an office Elder before transfer meeting he had to leave this morning instead of Wednesday. So right now I'm in a temporary tri-companionship with some missionaries from Taylorville IL. My next companion's name is Elder Abbott. I don't know anything about him yet. We'll see on Wednesday.

Hmm, I know there's more that happened this week. I can't remember though. I think I'll close anyway. I'm trying to attach pictures of Monday but it won't let me. I'll keep trying.

I hope you all have a wonderful week. I love you!

-Elder Curtis

Oh, and for those of you with the sharp comments on my inability to contain myself while giving talks in sacraments meeting... Trust me, I'm working on it. But until then:

"Wherefore murmur ye, because that ye shall receive more of my word?"

"For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe."

"blessed are they that hear the word of God, and keep it."

"Hearken, O ye people of my church, saith the Lord your God, and hear the word of the Lord concerning you" gladly I might add. It's not like you have anything better to do. ;)

Spring is Here!

March 16, 2015

Hi guys!
This will be a quickie; we're going to Springfield today to finally do something with our P-day with other missionaries. Should be fun.
This week was not very eventful. I had corned beef for the first time. Mmm.
We had to drop our date with Brandon. :( He said his dad is refusing him to get baptized and as long as he's living with them he's not allowed. UGH! So frustrating.
Brian is still super swamped with a sick, constantly crying baby he's trying to adopt. We're in contact though.
Yesterday I gave a talk in sacrament meeting on forgiveness. I could have given a whale of a talk on it but I only had fifteen minutes. I went over anyway and received a note from a member of the branch presidency behind me letting me know my time was up. To be fair, when I was asked to give the talk I told him I have a tendency to go over time a lot. I don't think I told you all already, but my last week in Urbana I gave a talk in sacrament meeting that was supposed to be 15-20 minutes long but I went way over time making it a 45 minute talk and all I got to do was throw out the points I wanted to make. I didn't get to expound or elaborate on most of them at all. Shortening my talks is probably something I should work on.

We met with a lady this week who is 101 years old. 101!! I was so cool! And she was just yammering on, talking and thinking extremely well for someone over a century old. She is completely deaf though, so we communicated to her with white boards. Other than that she was awesome and had lots of interesting experiences like the first time she saw a TV, or used a plumbed toilet, or a microwave. She lived through WWI and WWII. That's crazy old! She was awesome.
Okay, that's all I've got for all of you today. I hope you all have a wonderful week.
Sure love ya!

-Elder Curtis

March 9, 2015

I was going to start off this email telling how great this week was, but then I thought, "why was it such a great week?" It was a great week. I am extremely happy. But when I thought about it there wasn't too much reason to share that would explain the happiness I have.
-Monday: all of our appointments in the evening fell through. None of our back up plans got us in anywhere.
-Tuesday: Every appointment fell through. Went tracting- every door that opened greeted us with rude comments, glares and gestures. No new potentials.
-Wednesday: Get dropped by text by Roger during studies. Says his church is all he needs (we will be stopping by later anyway). Every appointment fell through, including service. No new potentials.
-Thursday: District Meeting in Springfield- enjoyable but half our day is gone. Every appointment fell through. More rude people. No new potentials.
-Saturday: Show up to our appointment with the Tofte's, two of our more promising investigators- they drop us and denounce The Book of Mormon even though they only read the first 12 chapters three weeks ago and haven't picked it up since. Every other appointment fell through. No new potentials.
-Sunday: Our phone doesn't switch the hour automatically? Late to church. No investigators come. Our appointment with Brian cancels.
Not the most ideal week and certainly not very common to the idea of fun and happiness. So when I was going to start this letter why did I truthfully want to exclaim how wonderful the week was?
Throughout the week I never realized how poor our week was to the natural point of view. To many this would not make sense. But to me it makes perfect sense. When we do what the Lord would have us do each day and then capitalize on the good things and search the good in the bad things surely and instinctively we will be blessed with joy and peace of mind.
"I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."
When we do what as we are commanded He says "I, THE LORD, am BOUND" He is bound to bless us. And not by some pitiful man made bond, a celestial, eternal, divine, all powerful, unbreakable bond. Surely when we do as the Lord commands we are greatly blessed. Every time. Sometimes we are left wondering where the blessings are. Don't worry, they're there. Sometimes we need to look harder and deeper, but when we do we find them and we gain a deeper love and stronger relationship and trust with our Father when we do look for them. Sometimes I think when the blessings are not immediate to us it's because Heavenly Father wants us to become a little stronger in faith and better in noticing that which is spiritual. There is much we can learn from how/when He gives us the blessings.
In January I started The Book of Mormon over again. Yesterday I finished Fourth Nephi and began Mormon. Throughout the entire record we see example after example of the Lord blessing and prospering His people but soon enough the people forget and as a result stiffen their necks and harden their hearts until they are willfully rebelling against God and pay no mind to the counsel given to them by the prophets. How quick are they to forget the goodness of God, the blessings, the miracles, the joy and the life He has given them when they are faithful.
"Thus we see how quick the children of men do forget the Lord their God, yea, how quick to do iniquity, and to be let away by the evil one." (Alma 46:8)
We may not be doing iniquity after bad moments, bad days, or bad weeks or even years come, but how quick are we to forget still the many blessings we have? Capitalize on the highlights, on the good, and on the blessings. If you do you will find blessings where you didn't know you had them. How can we make it easier to do that? I think a formula was given already: do what the Lord would have you do [always]. Always be caught doing the work of the Lord. You'll find you only have time to be happy and pleased. That I promise. It is written that Christ is "An High Priest of good things to come". I have a strong testimony of that.
-Friday: Had a lesson with Brandon and his less active grand parents-set a baptismal date for April 11. Correlation meeting with the branch mission leader- he's felt discouraged lately. We had a beautiful opportunity to lift him up; the Spirit was so strong as testimonies were shared and hope was illuminated. We traveled to a small town called Raymond- knocked the wrong door, found a less active member; great discussion. Knocked the correct door- met a less active family, they are desirous to come back, they've been teaching their three children about the gospel for a while now, the 10 year old wants to be baptized, all of them are thirsty for change. Had a great lesson with an investigator named Mike- fellowship was made, understanding was increased, desire increased with it. Had some extra time afterward- decided to call unknown contacts in the phone just because we could- set up two appointments with people interested in learning more from us. That's two potentials with a set appointment, one unexpected visit with a less active member, three lessons with a member present, and one new investigator. There was a gorgeous sun set that evening as well. I love those.
In Moroni's promise in Moroni 10:3-5, I think there's a reason he exhorts us to first remember how merciful the Lord has been to us from the beginning. It makes us grateful. Gratitude, as taught by President Uchtdorf, is a catalyst for obtaining all Christ-like attributes.
Remembering He has been merciful and knowing He will always be merciful, let us seek His guidance and do His will. His blessings are there. I hope that I will remember how merciful the Lord has been to me. I know that when I do and when I obey Him I will be happy and I will have peace of mind and conscience no matter what life throws my way. I have a personal witness that that is true, and I know it's true for all of us.
"Therefore, what I say unto one I say unto all". Let's all do what He wants.
I know Heavenly Father has infinite and perfect love for each of us. He sent His Son to offer Himself up lovingly as a sacrifice so that we can return to His presence. We are eternally indebted to Him for that.
I love all of so much. I am grateful for the light you are to me and the love I receive from you. I feel it. Have a blessed week, finding the blessings around you.

Sure love ya!
-Elder Curtis :)

March 2, 2015

I don't know that I'd be able to express how up and down but all around great this week has been so I'll just stick with the highlights. Things were really getting hard because we were doing all that we could to get things moving here but it seemed like everything we were doing didn't amount to anything, and that was how our week went until Thursday which is the first highlight.
We had President interviews! It's always good to see "the big man" and his wife (President and Sister Morgan). My interview was great. They're usually pretty short because he has a lot of missionaries to go through but I ended up spending a good 20 minutes with him just talking. It was nice. He knew our area has been struggling but he trusted us to get it going and he promised things would look up soon.
Well they did. We picked a new investigator who investigated before but was dropped for unknown reasons. We taught him the plan of salvation on his front porch. He lives with some baptists (baptists really hate us in this town. They are literally out to get us) so they wont let us teach him inside their home. It was cold and there were some workers cleaning out the sewer in the middle of the road with a big machine so it was loud and really stinky as well, but it was great! Roger understood it better than we had anticipated and he had been reading in the Book of Mormon and was retaining everything in it really well. We'll be seeing him again this week.
On Saturday we had a lesson on the plan of salvation with two investigators Glen and Tracie Tofte, who have been investigating for a couple weeks now. They know the bible extremely well but really seem open to our message and are very interested in understanding us. They seem sincere but it will probably be a process with them. We're just trying to focus on helping them get a spiritual confirmation that it's true, then all the questions will take care of themselves. It was a really good lesson I think.
It snowed a lot that day and after the Toftes we went tracting. Tracting has produced so very little results for me personally but every now and then we find someone from it and on Saturday we did! An 89 year old woman by the name of Luara. She was convinced we were trying to sell her something of take her stuff from her because "that's all people ever want from me" she says. We finally convinced her otherwise and that we were actually there to give more to her. We had a wonderful discussion on the restoration of the gospel and she seemed very moved by it. She said she can't just accept this right away. "I have to pray and ask God about this first". She has great faith and we are looking forward to meeting with her more. We shoveled her side walk and drive way after that but it didn't do much I think because soon the snow was back falling even harder. We had to drive in it for 40 minutes to get to our dinner appointment. It really wasn't all that bad of a storm, I've been in worse, but there were people going 15 mph on the interstate. I need to work on patience I think...
On Sunday there was more snow and church was cancelled. Our cars were even grounded so we weren't allowed to drive them anywhere. So Elder Anderson and I stomped around town all day yesterday trying to get in some homes. By the end of the day my socks were drenched. It was the first time on my mission I wish I had boots. I've always hated snow and I never enjoy being in it, but despite that I really enjoyed being out there working. There really is no excuse for getting out of our responsibilities and doing the things the Lord expects us to be doing. We simply need to decide to go and do, no matter what.
A few days ago we were trying some people in a town called Hillsboro and we noticed a former investigator named Brandon on our list. We decided to give him a try because his record seemed pretty solid. We ended up meeting his grandparents who are actually less active members of the church. We had a good discussion with them and asked them about Brandon. Turns out Brandon was really into the discussions and wanted to be baptized but was not allowed to because his father is against the church but that Brandon would definitely be interested in investigating again. We set up a time to meet with them again with Brandon which was this morning. We met them at their house and Brandon is definitely eager to learn more and make the steps toward baptism. We're going to see him again on Friday and I am so excited for that. Now that he is 18 he doesn't need the approval of his father. I have a really good feeling about him.
Overall it was a great week. Things won't always go smoothly or be easy, but when we are spending our time doing the things the Lord would have us be doing we are happy and that makes it all worth it. I do love the Savior and the atonement which allows us such joy which is everlasting. I am so grateful for the time I am given to represent Him. I promise all of you that if we do all that we can to please Him then the pleasure will be returned to us a hundred fold.
I love all of you very much! Have a wonderful week!

-Elder Curtis

Feb. 23, 2015


I starting to feel like I've adjusted well to Litchfield now. I've finally met pretty much all of our teaching pool, which for some reason was a big struggle for since I got here, and I'm remembering the names of the members better than I expected to. It's confusing though because half the branch it seems is related to each other so there's a lot of repeats. There's a lot of old people too. I'd say the average age in the branch is in the sixties. This branch does have more youth than the ward I was in last transfer which still isn't saying much but they've got that going for them.

Last night we finally met our investigator Brian. After first contact with him the elders here weren't able to contact him for a few weeks besides a phone call where Brian said he was really busy otherwise he would have been at church that week. We stopped by unannounced to see if we could at least set something up with him. He was happy to see us and gladly let us in to talk. Brian is legit! He talked to us about how he got interested in our church (Mitt Romney's election being the reason) and since he first started researching it he's come across a lot of anti material and false accusations about the church from his baptist church leaders/members, but he described why and how he believes none of that can be true. He then went on about the church he grew up in and why he was turned off by them but how everything he knows about our church to him feels right and that he wants his family to come to church with him because he is greatly impressed by the youth of the church. Then he went on about some of the commandments of the church that he'd have to obey and how he has no problem with that and he would easily give up his three glasses of wine a year if he had to. We didn't even talk about the word of wisdom with him! He's only been taught the restoration. Next he talked about how people get a witness from God or a strong feeling that He's there and loves us when they read the scriptures and go to church but how he's never gotten those feelings, but when he reads the Book of Mormon he feels it a little. He told us how after reading the Book of Mormon one night he decided to pray and he's been praying every night since and he's seen a difference.
He has definitely received a witness of the church and the Book of Mormon, so we are going to work on helping him recognize it. I'm pretty sure he's the first investigator I've had to commit himself to the missionary commitments before being asked to. I'm really excited about him.

That was basically the highlight of the week. There's a lot of baptists here that just seem like they're out to get us. But every time one of them contends with us I feel like my testimony of this gospel only gets stronger as the Spirit whispers to me again and again the truth about faith in Jesus Christ and the ordinances of the gospel and the need for a living prophet. God works in mysterious ways but I feel His hand in all these experiences as He continues to prepare me and help me grow.
This might have been a hard week where almost none of our efforts seem to be amounting to anything but that usually means something good is on the way. The only thing I'd change about my condition here is the weather. Ugh! It's been so awful. Below freezing with killer wind chill and lots of snow which resulted in our cars being parked for a good portion of two of our days. But come what may and love it, right?

We're hoping to pick up lots of new investigators and make some progress with the ones we have. Thank you for all of your prayers, they are so appreciated! I love you all so much and I hope you have a very pleasant week.

Love, Elder Aaron Curtis

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Feb. 17, 2015

Hey guys!

It was great hearing about the crazy weekend! Sounds like there was a lot of hectic things that happened yet everyone was still able to thoroughly enjoy the beautiful ceremony of Brandon and Jamie's wedding in the temple. I see some symbolism in everything that happened with what I've heard from Mom, Dad and Brandon. God truly is in our lives, teaching us in every moment.
I'm so happy for the happy, new couple! I love you guys!

I'm here in Litchfield now. This is a really small place and our area is very large, covering several other smaller towns. So far though things area going really well. We have a good sized teaching pool to work with right off and I think we could get some dates set here real soon (Currently our mission has 105 baptismal dates set!). I really like my new companion, Elder Anderson. I really think I'm going to enjoy this transfer with him; this new start is already such a relief from last transfer. He is from Laurel, Montana (which isn't far from Billings). He's so goofy and has a great sense of humor and an even better sense of hard work. So nice! We have been super busy and I love it! I still haven't even unpacked since I got here on Wednesday. I'll give you a run down of investigators as I get to know them and as things progress.

Because of Presidents Day we emailed today, but I don't have much time. I should have more time to do more on regular Mondays now since there's pretty much nothing at all to do here and we don't have enough miles to go to St Louis or Springfield (both of which are about the same distance from us). Oh, I also hear a rumor that my blog that I set up for these emails to get put on has not been updated in some time. I know things have been really busy lately but if someone could please remember to update that then there are a few people who tell me they would really appreciate that, especially since I'm told the last update was in July of last year... The blog is what's used to get my contact info such as new addresses and stuff. That's a little important because I think theirs letters and stuff waiting at previous apartments of mine.

I love you all so much! I hope this week is full of joy and rest for a lot of you.

-Elder Curtis

1122 N. Montgomery st.
Litchfield, IL 62056

Feb. 9, 2015

Okay, I feel like there's a lot to say, but there is not a lot of time to say it...

Transfer news came:Our mission is downsizing. We lost 20 missionaries and as a result at least one area in every zone of the mission has to close. Urbana 1 just so happens to be one of them so both me and Elder Anderson are leaving. I am going to Litchfield, Illinois, of which I know absolutely nothing about other than it's quite a ways south of Springfield, Illinois. My new companion is Elder Anderson, not the same Elder Anderson, a new Elder Anderson; that might be confusing in the future.
Closing an area is something mostly new to me. We have to get the apartment ready, the van, and transfer all of our information in our area book to the Urbana 2 Elders. We've been super busy but I feel like we haven't done much because there is still so much to do.
This week I have to say goodbye to all of the people I've met here. That is the hardest part. I've been greatly impacted by people here, such as Francisca and Virgina. They are such wonderful new members. The light of the gospel literally shines from their presence. They love this church! Deosha is doing well in the church too but she's nine so...
Francisca finally got a calling; she's on the ward relief society committee. I don't know what that implies, but I know she's excited about it and it will help her with her English. Both Francisca and Virginia are going to the temple in St. Louis to do baptisms for the dead this month. OH how I wish I could go and see them do that!
And OH how I wish I could witness another big event happening this weekend! (For those of you reading this that don't know, my super cool, older brother is getting married on Saturday!) I hope you guys (family) are able to get everything done to prep and the whole experience is unforgettably magical for everyone. I will be there with you in heart.
I'd also like to say happy valentines day to all of you. To my family, I am so blessed to have you. I've never been around to world, but I'm certain I have the best family in the world. I love all of you so much! I can feel your love and support in your words and by the Spirit. My life is overflowed with blessing just from you guys. I am so glad we will be with each other forever! Mom, I love you. You are beautiful and sweet. I am overwhelmed with the feelings of gratitude and joy within myself when I think of how wonderful you are. I will always be grateful for what you have done for me and the rest of the crew. You've sacrificed so much and I will forever be indebted to you. I love you!
To my friends, you guys rock! I know I have been divinely guided and blessed to seek and find the greatest friends out there. I thank each of you for all you have done for me. I wish I had time to tell you all personally. I love you guys. I really love you guys and will forever be grateful for your impact in my life. Happy Valentines day everyone!

I will give all the rest of the info needed about Litchfield next week. Good luck with everything, everybody! Sure love ya!

-Elder Curtis :)

Feb. 2, 2015

Hi folks!

It is a beautiful and blessed day and a wonderful time to be alive! This week was really hard, but I have felt the spirit teach, testify, guide, strengthen and correct so much this week. I feel so greatly blessed to be here and to learn how the spirit of the Lord works and to see the affect it has in my life. Lately there have been a lot of trying experiences; this has not been an easy transfer by any means. I am constantly surrounded by conflicting ideas and beliefs, even, or especially from people I did not expect it from. At times I have felt like breaking and giving up. There has been a lot of frustrating and irritating times. But I have been humbly blessed with strength. I am learning how to see things differently. God has been my support. I can't even tell you how much He has supported me, being my strength and my light, at times the only thing I could cleave to for support. Through this I have been greatly humbled, or at least realize how much I need to be humbled. I have been taught more about the gospel and I feel like I have a better understanding of it's principles. Man, I could go on about this for a few days so I'll stop. But I know the atonement is real and there is no limit to its power and and reach. I also know God loves us so much.

We had to drop our date with Sarad because we still weren't able to meet with him. Now that it's February we should be able to set something up with him, so pray for that!

We did get a wonderful surprise from one of the families in the ward we've been working with a lot: a referral! His name is Reggie and he's awesome! So promising! We are going to meet with him again this week. He couldn't come to church because he got called into work due to a storm we had here. Church was even almost canceled due to 3 inches of snow. Can you believe that?

I got to participate in a baby blessing yesterday. That was such a special experience. It opened my eyes up a little more about the priesthood as well as Gods hand in our lives. I also wonder how my own baby blessing went because of it.

Transfer calls are this weekend so don't send anything. If the pattern I've followed most my mission continues I'll be getting transferred. I'll let you know next week.

I have to go. I love all so much!

-Elder Curtis