Thursday, December 27, 2012

Skyping with Elder Maddox!

Wow! That was amazing to see Elder Maddox yesterday. We got to Skype when he called home for Christmas It was an awesome day, we even hooked the computer up to the big screen so we could see him really well! It was so good to hear and see him. He seems happy and looks great. The kids were so happy to see him too. Sabrina even sang him a song with her sisters help. It was very sweet. It sounds like he had a wonderful Christmas and was very well cared for. He spent Christmas Eve with the Miller Family and Christmas day with the Bowman family. We are so grateful that these families were willing to have our missionary in their homes and share such a special time.

Friday, December 21, 2012

A Very Special Christmas Card!

Today we went about our family Christmas traditions...on the first day or so of Christmas break, all of the Maddox cousins gather together and make "Christmas Trains" which consist of lots of mini candy bars fixed on a paper plate with frosting. Then decorated with lots of different candies. There were at least 29 cousins participating today, so needless to say it was crazy and fun. While we are often missing a cousin or two, today was especially hard.. missing 4 of our missionary cousins. For me, things seem just a little bit off not having Steven home especially during these family activities. This Christmas was the first time in years that I didn't send out our family Christmas card mostly because it made me too sad to not include him in the family picture. Well, when I got home this evening and began to open the mail, there was a Christmas card and I didn't recognize the name so I assumed that it was from a business associated of Steve's. I started looking at the picture that came with the card. As I looked at each person to see if I recognized any one...I gasped, I was so surprised at who I was Boo (Elder Steven Maddox)! He was standing right in the middle of this family! I was so excited! Then, I remembered him mentioning in a letter last week that he would be spending this Christmas with the Bowman Family and how much he liked them. And they had just sent ME a Christmas card with their family and the missionaries in it! I cried when I saw the picture and cried again when I read the special note in the card. I will share it here..

"Dear Bro. and Sis. Maddox,
          We wanted to wish your family a Very Merry CHRISTMAS!! We have truly enjoyed getting to know your son, Elder Maddox - what an Awesome Missionary! His excitement for the Gospel has truly touched our family. We have ALL grown to love him as a part of our family. Thank you for teaching him the gospel and for sharing him with us. We pray that your Christmas and New year are full of Blessings!"
                                               ~The Bowman Family

Wow!   That letter and picture made my day and helped ease, if just a little bit, my sense of missing him so much during these special days.   I am glad to know that he will be sharing Christmas with such a wonderful family and again that there are so many kind and generous people watching over my boy.

Making Christmas trains...

The Bowman Family and Elder Jasperson (back left) and Elder Maddox (back center)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Letter #32 (Ashdown, AR)

Whats up world!
My heart is full of gratitude as I reflect on the past few weeks and months of my life. The gifts of knowledge and blessings from Christ have given me a new outlook on the Christmas season. No longer is life about what I receive, or what I can send to try to one up someone. Rather these last 8 months of my life have been about sharing with people the happiness that only the Restored Gospel can bring. One of my favorite things to do when meeting new missionaries is to ask them why they serve a mission. My follow up question is always why do you continue to serve. See each day as missionaries we have opposition. It comes in many forms, but not a day goes by when we don't have people doing their best to discourage us. Saten is a constant. That is why I absolutely love what most missionaries response is. Almost each missionary I have asked this question of, has responded by with something to the effect of "to see the happines I help bring into their life." And that happiness is a closer relationship to Christ. Something that so many people fight for, but many can't find simply because "they know not where to find it." President Dieter F. Uchtdorf explained what I am feeling. "As we watch the excitement and wonder of children at this time of the year, perhaps we can remind ourselves to rediscover and reclaim a precious and glorious attribute of children—the ability to receive graciously and with gratitude." That is what I am learnig. How to recieve. And more than that, what to do with what I have received! It is amazing what I have the opprotunity to give a little bit of myself each and every day!
Elder Maddox

Monday, December 10, 2012

Letter #31 ( Ashdown, AR)

What up World!
Alright so first of all, I would be a terrible friend if I didn't give a shout out to both Zac Larsen and Zach Wade. For those who don't know, these two, two of my dearest friends, just received their mission calls within the last two weeks. Both headed to Ghana! And on the same day! Ghana doesn't know what is headed their way. You both will do so well! Look after each other you two! Ahh so cool!
Alright so I want to share an experience with yall that was a very eye opening experience for me. See for me when I walk around here, I assume most people aren't Mormon. Now since almost everyone who I speak too is not, they walk around and assume the same thing, that most people are not Mormon. Well the other day Elder Jasperson and I were throwing the ole' pig skin around in the parking lot of our apartment when a middle aged man walked up and started to talk to us about who our favorite football teams were and what not. Now since it was seven in the morning, we weren't dressed up. So he was kinda shocked when we let him know just how uninformed we were. But once we started to talk to him, and he found out we were missionaries, he looked at us and said "O y'all are in the mission field"? Haha as it turns out Jim has family that lives in Roy, Utah, and has two nephews that are preparing to serve. As we quickly taught him a quick restoration lesson, and departed, he looked at us and said "I just knew there was something different about you two." It was a truly humbling experience for me. That this individual could tell that there was something different with us, and then to have something positive to say about "us Mormons". The work truly is hastening, but not just by the missionaries. The influence of those around us, who don't wake up each and every day to put on a tag, is what will make this work go forward.
~Elder Maddox

Monday, December 3, 2012

Letter #30 (Ashdown, AR)

What up world!
First of all, Merry Christmas! I am a fan of Thanksgiving so I generally refuse to say it until December which it is! It is crazy to think that we are so close to Christmas. It is truly an amazing time to be a missionary, and I thank my father in Heaven for this opportunity on a daily basis. One thing that has been very amazing is the out poring of love from my family both extended and immediate. It seems that on a daily basis I receive multiple letters. It is hard to be homesick when you have so much love and support. Thank you for it, and keep it coming. I will do my best to return the letters, but it may take a little while, I have received that much. Ashdown continues to be my favorite place to serve. The members are absolutly amazing and take the best of care of us. I have heard that home life is going well. With 3 more "Maddox" cousins prepairng, and 4 serving, this Christmas will be an interesting one I am sure. I am all to happy to be here. I am thankful to be apart of this work, that will not be stopped. Congrats to Elder Wade for his call to Africa, and Larsen for his call coming Wednesday! Can't wait to have yall out here!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, November 19, 2012

Letter #30! (Ashdown, AR)

Steven has been serving for 7 months this week! Each Monday I get a personal email or two from him. But last week was my birthday and he sent me a package! It was 2 bracelets that he had specially made for me way back in Shreveport, LA! I was so touched that he thought so far ahead! And the letter he sent with them was super sweet! This will be our first big holiday with out him but it sounds like he will have a great day...he has a lunch and a dinner scheduled and a game or two of football!

So this week was a great one just like all of the weeks have been. This email will be short because the library up here in Ashdown is closed for this whole week so i am using an ipad of one of the members here in Ashdown. The Bowman family is so nice too us! But this week we had interviews with the mission president and it was absolutely amazing!! That man is so intune with the Spirit. Oh and I heard that little cousin Caleb started with his papers! congratulations!! So weird thought of the week....Elder van dyke hash been serving now for over a year. That's nuts! Love you all!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, November 12, 2012

Letter #29 (Ashdown, AK)

What an interesting week, but I guess that's every week of this thing they call the mission! First things first! Little Mak! I heard about your amazing experience with Elder Nelson! That is so cool, way to use your talents! Keep using them! They will only grow! And second, I can't believe Obama won! Hey, every state in my mission voted for him! It was Jeff's and Sam's that Obama won! Get mad at them for not spreading Romney more like I did! Not my fault! This week has been a very good week. We have been finding a lot of success up in Ashdown. We have been really focusing on working with the members. So we have been focused on serving those around here. On Saturday we got to play around with taking down barbed wire, and today, at 7 got to go tear down all of the posts! It has been a lot of fun, but I think I need you to send out my boots mom! And a pair of my jeans! Please and thank you! It would be much appreciated, and they will be used! Plus this is a test to see how much you got rid of after I left. I know you didn't like those boots, so if I don't get them, we will be having a talkin about! So going back to what Elder Jasperson and I have been doing. Since he is so new, we have been going to the four or five active families in the Ward and teaching them the restoration. It has been very successful. The members are able to feel the spirit in a very real way, and Elder Jasperson and I become far more powerful teachers with the practice that we are receiving. We have a few people who we continue to work with, and even have someone who wishes to be baptized. Yesterday we invited her to be baptized on January 19th, 2013, of coarse thats all dependent that the world makes it through December 21st, 2012! Haha for anyone who knows the Maddox family, that is a very important date. I think three birthdays, and an anniversary This will only add to the festivities of the day! Everything just seems to be going well here. No complaints on this end. For those of you who possibly, somehow forgot, this is your heads up! This week is Lisa-gras! Don't you forget it!
~Elder Maddox!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Letter #28 (Ashdown, AR)

Hey world!
It continues to amaze me just how fast the weeks go in the field, but I am sure yall are sick of hearing about that so on to bigger and better things! Ashdown continues to be fun. It is a very tight community, so Elder Jasperson and I are doing our best to become part of the community. It has been a lot of fun to walk the streets of this small town, and watch all of the people point and stare at us! I love to stand out, and love being recognized as Mormon! It is great that people are starting to know more and more, and because of either what is going on in politics, or other reasons unknown to me, people are wanting to know more. I can only imagine what a Mormon president would do for missionary work. Many people ask questions, but it would only get better!
Anyway, this week was not so much focused on finding people, as it was working with Elder Jasperson. We would focus on different things like teaching the lessons to members and different things like that. And I have to say that he is an amazing missionary. He is much more prepared than I was, and his enthusiasm is contagious. It is exciting to have companions who are ready to work, and willing to learn, because that translates to having fun while doing all of those things. It makes training so much more fun, and opening up an area so much less stressful! Even if you don't feel like you know the scriptures that well, or you can't teach as well as someone else can, if you can get out and work, you will be a companion everyone wants to have. Hard work is truly the only way to have success in the mission, and I hope that if nothing else, those who are prepairing to serve will come out with some energy. Otherwise, don't bother coming, you will just slow us down!!
Elder Maddox

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Letter #27 (Ashdown, AR)

Wow!  I can't believe it...Elder Maddox has served in 3 states in 6 months!  The Mississippi, Jackson Mission is so large that we weren't sure how much of it he would get to see.  But so far he has served in 3 out of the 4 states that his mission covers!  Lots of fun...and I already received a picture from one of the wonderful ward members in Ashdown, AR! Thanks Sister Miller and of course thanks for feeding my boy!  It's so nice to know people are watching out for him.  And I have updated his new mailing address to the right on the blog page for any and all who would like to write my Boo, he loves to get those letters!!!

Happy Halloween everyone!!
Another crazy week has came and gone in what seemed like seconds. I still struggle to wrap my mind around time out here. The best description would be that days feel like weeks, very long and non stop, but the catch is that weeks feel like days. Just a few short hours here and there. To think that my six month mark is now past, is nothing short of mind blowing. Over 25 percent done. I don't want it to be so, but it is. And to think that my good buddy Elder Van Dyke not only turned twenty years young this month, but also turns a year old in missionary life. Scary to think that almost a year ago, we said good bye, and parted ways. Before I know it, life will be back to what I used to define as normal. Something else that is hard to explain, but I think all missionaries could agree with is the feelings of what is "normal". What I mean by that, is for me, as a missionary, I feel like this is what I have always been doing. It is difficult to explain, but it seems like a missionary is all that I have ever been. It makes probably no sense to anyone who hasn't served a mission, but it is a reality. I love what I am doing and wouldn't change it for the world.
I apoligize for the late E-mail this week, but I have a good excuse! For the third time in just six months I got transfered. This transfer I will be opening up a new area, about twenty miles away from Texarkana. And to add to the excitement, I got a brand new missionary! I will now be traing Elder Jasperson who hales from Payson, Utah! He is an awesome missionary who is very excited to be a missionary! He is very knowlageable and is bringing what we call greenie fire to our companionship! I hope that I can keep up with it. Ashdown is where a lot of the members of the Texarkana ward live, and so I am very excited to start to work with them and to work with the inactive list. There is so much work to be done here, it is exciting. The last time missionaries were here full time was twenty years ago! So the both the Ward, and the Missionaries are excited to be here! Which will equall success for all of us! Be ready for amazing stories this transfer!
~Elder Maddox!

Elder Jasperson and Elder Maddox on their first day together!

Letter #26 (Texarkana, TX)

Hey Family
So it has been a long few days. They have been action packed, and miracle filled. The after effects of last week's zone conference have been many. The overall attitude of the mission has been changed, as far as I can see, and new hope has been installed in each of us. It has been a week full of finding for Elder Parker and I, with eleven new investigators. One of them in particular was especially amazing. His name is Marquis. He was found by the sister missionaries here in Texar. When the sisters talked to him in Sam's club, he told them he had a book of mormon, and that he had been reading it. Now here in the South, a lot of people will say that, just so they don't have to deal with us. But this guy was seriously interested. So the sisters set up a return appointment, and Elder Parker and I went to see him. Once we were there, we talked a bit, and taught him the restoration. Now personally I felt like it was the worst lesson I have taught! But for whatever reason it worked. Because right after the lesson, he looked at us and said"I don't care what else you have to teach me, because I know that this book is true, and whatever comes from it, I need to be apart of". It was such a testimony builder to me. The true power of our church is the power of the Book Of Mormon. It is how this work will go forth. The only way for it to go forth. The missionary's only power is for them to present the book. After that, we can do nothing, other than follow up. I had another cool thought this week. All four of the Maddox family cousins are in their areas now. And with in a year, seven of us will be out doing the Lords work. It truly is a blessing for me to be here now. The knowledge that I have received over the last six months has been invaluable. Ya, thats right. I also will have been out for six months come wednesday! Crazy thoughts! Time is weird! And time is short today! Sorry!
~Elder Maddox

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Letter #25 (Texarkana, TX)

Hey Everyone.
I apologize for the late letter, but it seems like everyone including myself has a zone conference of some sort this week. This is my excuse as well! We had a zone conference yesterday in Monroe which is just about four hours from up here in Texas. So I had a cool opportunity to spend time in Shreveport for a day. It all started out on Sunday evening. We had to be in Monroe by 8:30 so we got President to autorize a sleepover in Shreveport so we could make it on time! The next day, we got up early and all caravaned to Zone Conferance. But this Zone Conference was unlike any other I have been a part of. Because we had a quorum of the 70 member attend and throw down! He taught us so much in just a few short hours. He pounded into our heads over and over again just how important our calling is. He called us out, and gave us our new calling. To attack the less active lists that each of our ward's have. He told us this will lead to hundreds more baptisims, so this is the new route that well will be taking. It was absolutly amazing to see Elder Nash, walk in, not know us, and tell us the best way to improve. And more than that, to be able to discern our hearts, and tell us exactly what we needed. It was truly amazing. Then I had the chance to spend some time in Shreveport and to visit some of the families I spent so much time around.
Sorry for the short letter, but we only had a few minutes to come to the library. This week was an amazing one, and I will give a much more detailed account tomorrow, or when ever I find the time to get back! Love you all!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Letter #24 (Texarkana,TX)

What is up world! Hope all is well on the home front, and that everybody had an amazing conference weekend like I did. I enjoyed it more as a missionary than I did as a civilian. The impact that it had on me was amazing. Walking away from conference, three things were pounded into my head over and over again. Number one is missionary work. The thought of "Every member a missionary" kept running through my head, as General Authority after General Authority stood up and pounded that over and over again. Next was the importance of the family. Every day I see the important role that my awesome family played in my life. I also see what can happen if the family is not a unit on a daily basis. How is it possible to tell though that family is important? Look around, and see what Satan is trying to attack the hardest. He will always go after what is most important with all that he has, and the family is under his hell fire right now. We must fight back. Family Home Evening must be implemented in each home, in order for Satan's attacks to not be felt. Through making FHE a necessity, we circle the wagons so to speak, and keep all hostilities out. The third thing emphasised at conference I felt was the idea of Priesthood Responsibility. It was made very clear that we must not place anything in the way of our Responsibility. No more can we allow work, money, "our busy schedules", friends, or people to get in the way of fulfilling the Responsibility given to us from on high. We simply must put the Lord first, and take whatever earthly consequences follow. It is easier said than done. While yes, it is sometimes easier to put off our Home Teaching, or other callings, if we can manage to make the progression of God's earthly kingdom our top priority, everything else will seemingly fall into place. I have seen it time and time again in the last six months, that when the Lord is first, we can not fail. It is as easy as that. No complication. Other than that I think the only other thing I heard was some small announcement about the missionary age or something!!! Holy cow! Could a bigger bomb shell have been dropped?! I doubt it! I can't wait! In just one year there will be 7, yes 7! missionaries out from the Maddox family! What an amazing blessing this will be for both our church, and our family! This announcement will likely add 25000 missionaries to the field over the coarse of the next two years, and I look forward to meeting these new younger missionaries. To everyone back home who's mission time was suddenly cut in half, prepair. While yes, your farewell will be sooner, keep in mind that the Lord will make up for all you can't do on your own. I have seen it over and over again. Pray for blessing and they will come, I promise you. Take care y'all!
      ~Elder Maddox!

        So for those of you who may be a little lost as to what Steven was referring to in his last letter, let me explain...  Every 6 months our church has a world wide General Conference.  Our church leaders give gospel based talks over a 2 day period on varying topics.  They also made an announcement that all worthy young men may now serve a 2 year mission as early as 18 years old and all worthy young women may serve an 18 month mission as early as 19 years old.  The minimum age for young men use to be 19 and women was 21.  So not only is this a big change within our church but within our own family.  Steven has a younger brother Travis that will turn 18 in 8 months so will being preparing now.  He also has two other cousins that will now leave in less than a year!  So before Steven and his cousins return from their missions, their younger brothers will be heading out on their own missions!  Yes, I cried hard for just a minute, not quite ready to have my house empty yet...well relatively empty I guess there will still be 4 more at home with the way Steven's cousin Zack finally left the MTC in Provo today!  He has spent the last 2 months there learning Spanish and leaves today for Paraguay!   Now there are 4 first cousins in the mission field with 3 more  on their way in the next year!!!


Monday, October 1, 2012

Letter # 23 (Texarkana, TX)

Hey momma!
So this week was a weird one. Time becomes so weird on the mission, because you get into a routine, and this week was a big routine. It flew by. But the good news is that I was able to go up to Ashdown for a day on Sunday. For those of you who don't know, I am currently living in Texarkana, Texas. In four weeks, on Halloween actually, I will be moving to Ashdown, Arkansas to open the area. Texarkana is about 15 miles away from and my companion Elder Parker, and I have been working it a little bit when we had a few hours to spare. When were not in Ashdown, where here in Texar trying to find people to teach. A lot of the people who we are finding, and teaching speak Spanish. Which doesn't work too well because I don't speak Spanish. Elder Parker is fluent, and I am trying to learn, but Spanish is hard! I am trying to learn it the same way the guy on The Other Side of Heaven learned his language. Haha by reading one verse in spanish, then reading the same verse in English out of the Book Of Mormon. I am starting to be able to understand bits and pieces of the lessons', and can usually tell where he is as far as the lessons are concerned. From being around spanish speaking people both in church and out in the field, I am starting to understand very common phrases. Elder Parker is teaching me as best he can, but I am a pretty hard student I guess. He tells me you can't try to translate everything directly, or something I don't really know, I think he is just playing Jedi Mind tricks. Glad to hear that everything is going solid back home. Happy birthday Big Al! I sent you a letter, that you should be getting very soon, like today. I missed you by a few days, but please forgive me. Its hard to believe that 14 years has gone that fast. I can only imagine how fast these two will go., Crazy thought for everyone, I know I say that a lot, but this whole mission thing has been crazy! Any way, at the end of the month I hit my 6 month mark. Feels like I just left home yesterday. It's going by way too fast!.
~Elder Maddox

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Letter #22 (Texarkana, TX!!!)

Wow, I feel a little ripped off with this short letter but I guess I should just be grateful that my 19 year old son took the time to write home! Last Tuesday was his first transfer since he arrived in the mission field. Hr is now in Texas!!! He has a new companion who speaks english but has been called to serve a spanish speaking mission and learned spanish in the MTC. So Steven has heard a lot of spanish lately! We sure miss him but have great faith in what he has chosen to do and are so glad that he is there.

Hola has become common in my daily slang this last week or so! Its been crazy, and I haven't understood a lot of it, but it has been a spirit filled week to say the least. I apoligize in advance that this will be a short letter, but I don't have too much time. There is always something going on here. The ward is very excited about missionary work, and are pushing us to work harder and longer. They are so excited for Ashdown to be opened up next transfer, and I am already getting teaching appointments up there. Ashdown is about 30 minutes away from Texarkana. I haven't been up there, but will be there Thursday for the teaching lesson. Looking forward to learning the area and learning all about Texas and Arkansas life style! It has been so much fun here living with three other missionaries, its a non stop party. Theyre all on a diet though cause theyre all going home within 6 months! I am the youngest around here by over a year, so I have to grow up real quick. I will write more next week, but dinner with the Whittington's is done! Take care Yall!
~Elder Maddox!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Letter # 21 (Shreveport, LA)

Texr bound!
Well its official as of Friday, I am bound for Texarcana Texas. While there my companion will be Elder Parker, who is one of the Spanish missionaries down here in Shreveport for the four and a half months while here. So here is the reasoning behind me going with a Spanish missionary. There is a city about 20 miles outside of Texarcana on the Arkansas side called Ashdown. The plan for this coming transfer was to have me train a new missionary, and open up the new Ashdown area. But for whatever reason the missionary who I was set to train, ended up going home from the MTC due to injury. So in responce to that, President McDounaugh assigned me to Texarcana so that I can go and work Ashdown once a week with Elder Parker, and get set to open it, and train a new missionary in the transfer following the coming one. It should be awesome because the apartment I will be staying at in Texar is the Zone Leaders apartment as well, which means four missionaries in one apartment! Should make for some good fun!
As far as work goes, this week was a difficult one. It's amazing just how each week changes. Every day you're placed into a moral delima. Go work, or stay inside. Some days, ten in the morning can't come early enough, your so excited to get after it. Other mornings/weeks, you catch your self pretending to have a head ache, or some other bogus reason as to why you can't serve the Lord. If nothing else, the mission will teach me how to work, even when not wanting too. Even when there is nothing going on. No appointments, no members to see, nothing. It teaches you how to make something happen. In my studies as of late, I have been studying Jospeh Smith's life a little bit. Often times we, as missionaries, get told that the Book of Mormon is an opinion, and should be treated as such. Other times, were told how the Book of Mormon is a book written to make Joseph rich. How far from the truth this is, I can not describe. After finishing the Book of Mormon for my second time in my life, I can say, to whomever asks, that this Book is true. This Book, translated by a modern day Prophet, is the word of God, and any man who reads from its pages will truly draw closer to God, more so from this book than any other book in existence, and that includes the Bible. The Book of Mormon is perfect, in each and every way, and if there is an error to be found, then it is the error of man. Each page, each sentence, each verse, was designed for us right now, in this day and age. Never mind the fact that it was written hundreds of years ago by men long since deceased. Take an un biased look at this Book, and you will see its devine origin, and devine intent. To make us better people. Elder Holland gave a talk, entitled Safty For The Soul, with the Book of Mormon as the main idea, or focus point. In this talk, he very boldly proclaims that "I want it absolutly clear when I stand before the Judgement bar of God that I declared to the world...that the Book of Mormon is true." Today I wish for my testimony to be added to that of Elder Holland's. And that is that the Book of Mormon is true. No matter what is said about it, no matter what deragatory musicals are written about it, and no matter the scrutiny that will come from being associated with it, I can not deny the God sent witness that I have of its pages.
Elder Maddox

Monday, September 10, 2012

Letter #20 (Shreveport, LA)

This past week has been one of the most amazing miracles I have seen so far in the mission! With the weather still hot and humid, reaching upwards of 100 degrees for much of the week, this week was one of many doors knocked, and many doors opened. Due to an injury to his companion, Elder Ensign and I spent a lot of time this week on exchanges. So we have been splitting the time between the two of our areas, and I can honestly say that both areas have taken a boost. We ran into people who were more than willing to hear and accept the gospel, so it will be exciting to see where those people progress too, and to see how the Gospel will change their lives. It has truly changed mine. The Spirit has been in an abundance in so many ways. The gifts of the Spirit have been in an abundance in so many ways. It continues to blow my mind when ever we are teaching just how the Spirit works. For example, while we were teaching a girl named Sarah about the restoration, I felt like I should ask her a specific question. The question, to me at least, seemed so crazy to ask. It seemed like I was letting my mind wander, and I got frustrated with myself for it. But then the question came to mind again, so I decided to just ask. The question hit her hard, and made her consider, that maybe there was more to the message that we were sharing. It was so amazing how I questioned myself, and the Spirit allowed me a make up for my mistake, and allowed me to have that question in my mind, and allowed me to speak it. That was just one of the many miracles! Little miracles were in an abundance as well! Like we were teaching a lesson outside yesterday and the AC unit next door was SO LOUD! But right as I started to teach the first vision. It was silent....there was peace, it was tranquil. It was amazing how the silence allowed the Holy Ghost to work over the lady we were teaching.
Something that I have been studying in my own personal study has been the life of Jesus Christ through both the New Testament, and a book written by Elder James E. Talmage called Jesus the Christ. Through this book, and my studies of the Bible, my understanding of the Atonement has been enlightened. While I will not pretend that my understanding is perfect, its far from, my testimony of the most incredible act preformed on this earth has been increased. And with an increased understanding of what my Lord and Savior did for me personally, I feel more desire, more fire to go and help his work go forward. It is amazing what a bit of understanding can do. With a better understanding of Christ, we become more grateful for what He did. If we all had this better understanding, there would be no problem with each and everyone of us sharing the Gospel with our friends, and family.
Elder Maddox

Monday, September 3, 2012

Letter #19. (Shreveport, LA)

That was nothing short of a let down! Not even a power outage! For any of you who have followed the news the past two weeks, you will have realized that a hurricane was supposed to be felt here in Shreveport. While many sections of the coast in our mission were hit, we here in Shreveport got a frustrating amount of rain. By frustrating I mean that it rained just hard enough to keep us inside, but not enough to say "that was an epic rainstorm!" I heard Utah got better rain than we did! Either way it was a rough week, often interrupted by the rain, and the lightning. It was hard to get into a flow, which is crucial as a missionary. But hey, its all about the hard work.
I wish I had something crazy new to report, but its been pretty slow. With the interruptions of the weather, and the constant knocking of doors, its been a slow week.
~Elder Maddox

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Letter #18 (Shreveport, LA)

It seems like the girls have been having fun huh? Saw picture after picture of the mountains! Jealous! We have hills here, but that's the extent of it! You girls seemed to have so much fun! Just a heads up mom, you might need to refill the cereal storage if you left the boys at home. Just an idea! That is so cool that Elder Spangler stopped by. We talked about having him do it, but I knew that he would be very busy. I hope that it was a good visit, and by the sound of it, it was a good meeting!
So like I said, Wow is the only word that could be used to describe this last few days. From Zone Conference to Baptisms, these last few days have been by far the most rewarding as a missionary. The spirit has been poured on in great amounts repeatedly and it continues to be present.
The most recent event on my mind is definitely Zone Conference. We combined with the zone from up in Texarcana, about 70 miles away, and had a good amount of missionaries. The theme if you want to call it that, was finding. President shared with us his vision of how to better find people to teach. This was a perfect lesson for me, since that is what will be my and Elder Merrill's focus this week! We have pretty much exhausted our teaching pool, so that means we get to get going on the knocking doors! Always equals so much fun! I am hoping that the members will help me out, but I have to rely on my own skill for sure!
An amazing experience happened on Sunday. I was able to baptize someone! See, we have been working with Bobbi Peters for a long time now, since about May, and were able to finally baptize her Sunday. But the original plan of having her son baptize her changed when she asked me to baptize her! It was the most amazing experiences of my life to see her, as well as to see the knight family baptize their sons! It was truly an amazing experience for all that were involved. And yes, I do have pictures mother!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Few Pictures!

Elder Spangler was Boo's (Elder Maddox) trainer, his first companion in the field.  He was the one who taught Boo how to function in the missionary world!  He made Boo learn to love knocking doors, let him "win" in a bike race and even made Boo pick up his own messes now and then.  Elder Spangler completed his mission a week and a half ago and headed home.  Luckily for us he lives only about 30 minutes from our home in Utah, so yesterday we got to meet him!  It was so much fun to hear all about how Boo is doing from someone that has lived with him for the last 3 months.  Listening to Elder Spangler's stories it was obvious that he really got to know our Boo.  I know from Steven's letters that he really developed a great love and deep respect for Elder Spangler as well as an amazing friendship.  And now having met
 Justin (Elder Spangler) it sounds mutual.  I am so glad that he has been able to have such a great experience.    
 Thank you Elder Spangler for being such a wonderful example to my son. 

I can assume they are burning Elder Spangler's well worn  suit...

Elder Spangler and Elder Maddox  saying goodbye.
The REAL Goodbye!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Letter #17 (Shreveport, LA)

So this week has been one of hard work, and high temperatures. Its cooled off for a bit today, but the whole last week had to be pushing 115 with the heat index. I may be embellishing a little bit because my bike doesn't have AC! See the bike puts you in a bad situation. In order to stay cooler, you need to make the air around you travel faster, which requires more work from your legs. This extra exertion causes what we as missionaries call perfuse sweating. Once the bike is stopped for extended amounts of time, the body works over time to cool you down, thus causing you to sweat even more than is anticipated. But hey, it makes weight loss very easy!
While yes, this week was hot, it was also very rewarding. With the departure of Elder Spangler, my new companion Elder Merrill came in Tuesday, and the two of us picked up as if we had been comps for months already! This week we focused on three of our investigators who all three of a baptismal date for the 19th of August, that's this Sunday for those of you who don't have a calender handy! Two of the individuals preparing are brothers, DeShawn, and Tyron Gray. They are the son's of a member of our ward who were just sealed to her new husband. The boys haven't been baptized yet because they were living in Michigan with their father, but are now living here, and have the desire to be baptized, so I get to teach them! It is so amazing to be able to help them work towards this special day for both them, and their family!
The other individual we are continuing to work with is Bobbi Peters, who is more than prepaired to be baptized on the same day. She is a mother of a boy who was baptized just over two years ago named Daniel. Daniel is 20 years old, and is actually prepairing to serve a mission in the upcoming future. His estimated time to turn in his papers is about 6 months, so both him and his Mother are eager for that. But first things first! Her baptizim! She has asked Daniel to baptize her, which is awesome, and tomorrow we will be going over there to show them the ins and the outs of baptizim, and what to expect come this Sunday! Very excited for it! Pretty much all that is on my mind!
~Elder Maddox!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Letter #16 (Shreveport, LA)

Whats up world!
So an interesting event took place about a half hour ago. My trainer got on a van and headed towards home. Weird thought that my safety net is gone, and I am now in charge of the Shreveport Downtown area. My new companion Elder Marrell is on his way to Shreveport, and for the time being I get to hang out with the Zone Leaders for the time being. Always good fun to be with them. But this next coming week is sure to be one of excitement as I get to meet another missionary who has chosen to put aside two years and put on the suit and the black name tag.
Elder Spangler chose to go out with a bang this week in sacrament meeting with possible the BEST fast and testimony meeting of all times. During the meeting we had two confirmations, a family that we were able to hear from that had just been sealed, who were baptized just a year ago, a missionary that had just got home, Elder Spangler, who is getting ready to leave, and a missionary who had his call, and was fixin to leave in the next two weeks. I was in tears if we were being honest. It is absolutely amazing how abundant the Spirit is in the life as a missionary. And in so many different ways. For example we were teaching a less active lady, and her two kids. During the lesson, I didn't feel the traditional burning of the heart that I usually do to relate to the spirit. Because of this I felt that we had missed the mark on what we should have taught them. But when I looked up they were in tears, and were feeling the spirit very strongly. See while I wasn't feeling it in my heart, my thoughts were clear, and my words were precise. It was amazing that I knew what to say, and when to say it. The gifts of the Spirit are abundant, and more often than not, go unnoticed. But I have really been able to see the Spirit work through me, and make up for my shortcomings as a missionary this week, and I gotta say, its been fun. It is such a great feeling to be able to facilitate the spirit in people's lives. It is truly an honor to be here, and to be here now.
These next two weeks, even though Elder Spangler won't be able to see it, will be filled with three baptisims. One of them, Bobbi Peters is a mother of a 20 year old who was baptised two years ago, and has been a great example to his mother. She is getting baptized on the 19th of this month, by her son, and will be an amazing experience. This will only be the first step for the Peters family. Later this year, Daniel, her son, will be prepairng to serve a mission to help pay back for the missionaries who found him. They are truly an amazing family, who will be the example for anyone who happens upon them. The other two baptizims set for the same date, August 19, are the son's of the couple that was sealed on Saturday. The dad, Sydney, approached me on Sunday and asked that I would start to teach them, so that he may baptize them on the 19th. It is truly an honor to know that this ward, inparticaular the Knight family, trust me enough to work with their son's to help them progress toward baptism. Truly an amazing experience for me.
Cousin Zack!!! Bro I am so Excited for you!! You go tomorrow! Get ready for some crazy times. Amazing feelings await you, and I hope that it is all that you hope for it to be! Love you bro, hope that you get to see Cousin Sam in there!
~Elder Maddox!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Letter # 15 (Shreveport, LA)

I love the digital era!  Since Boo has "lost" his camera and may I add broken his brand new bike all in his first 2 months in the mission field, I am grateful for those who have been so kind as to send me photos of him from time to time.  As well as feed him!  Tracy Barlow has been amazing!!!  Last month she made him a true Louisiana style dinner.  They had shrimp gumbo, red beans and rice, cheese and sausage grits, french bread and salad.  This picture was taken this week after she fed the missionaries once again!  Rumor has it that he did help with the clean up, yeah Boo!  Steven's cousin Sam just entered the MTC today too!  That is three of the four cousins.  Next week his cousin Zack will enter the MTC too!  Now a word from my missionary...

Hey world!
So this week was a hot one! Just look up at a bank marquee on my way over to the library and saw the number 108! As in degrees, plus humidity! Not fun when it comes to riding the bikes! But hey, we only have one more month of the heat right! So this next week is going to be weird, as Elder Spangler gets ready to head home, thus putting me in charge of the area. It is weird to think of the changes that have occurred over the coarse of the last three months. So much growth has occurred, I couldn't begin to list the changes. I feel so inadequate to put on the name tag everyday, and be a representative of Jesus Christ. But time and time again the Lord has blessed me to know how to get people to listen, or He leads us to the people who want to hear our message. It is truly amazing. One of the other blessing that I have noticed recently is that people change. Some of the people who we have been working with have changed so much, and that is because we as missionaries were able to help facilitate an endowment that the spirit can do work in! And it is so cool to help be a part of that. I got to see my first baptism since being out on the mission! Sierra Dean was baptised with the help of Elder Westbrook and Elder Reil, who are the other Shreveport elders! It was absolutely amazing to see, and the spirit just reaffirmed to me that what I am doing is what I am supposed to be doing.
So news has reached me that I have more cousins fixin to enter the MTC this week! Congrats Sammie boy! Get ready for the craziest time of your life! The next week will be the most crazy of your life. Your about to embark on the biggest rollar coaster of your life filled with more ups and down's than you knew were possible! Enjoy the MTC, it is a good break. But stear clear of the Choclate milk. It will mess you up! Take care in there! And write your big cousin boo boo if you have any questions!
              ~Elder Maddox!

Elder Maddox (front) with his trainer Elder Spangler during their last week together!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Letter #14 (shreveport,LA)

What a crazy week this last one has been. Crazy busy. This week Elder Spanlgler and I had the opprotunity to find six new people to teach, and also found an additional family who we met briefly, but will begin teaching this week. Gotta love knocking doors!! It has been nothing but hott down here in the south, but no complaints from me! I think that Elder Spangler is starting to finally realize just how close he is to going home. It's not that he is trunky by any means, rather the oppisite. He is so lost in the mission that he dosen't know what to do when he dosen't have the tag on. I hope that I can be the same way when I leave. That is my goal! But his time is wearing down, he heads out on August the 8th, but I will get my new companion on the 7th. It is weird to think that I will be running the area in just two weeks, but because of Elder Spangler and the quality of training I have recieved from him. I broke my bike this week, I am sure my mom is rolling her eyes right now, so I have been using an old beat up one from a member, which makes everything a little bit more difficult, But I am hoping the Lord blesses me for my added workout:)
Latly for part of my personal study I have been reading part of the missionary library, Jesus the Christ. For those of you that have read it, you will understand what I mean when I say it is in depth. Written my James E. Talmage, Jesus the Christ takes an in depth look of Christ's life, and the exact reasoning behind EVERYTHING that he did. From each miracle, to each sermon taught, Christ had specific reasoning behind each and every one of his deeds. But what I have enjoyed the most would be the miracles that He performed. Even though he knew that each miracle drew him closer to death, he continued to serve God. See, the church people back then , the Jews, wanted to destroy Christ and all that he stood for. So they would set up ways for him to be "breaking the sabbith," like when he healed a crippled man. The Jew's looked at this as breaking the Law of Moses, but it is never been against the church to serve on Sunday. But these breaking of their laws, cause a hatred against Christ, and eventually factored into his death. But Christ did what was right. Even when he knew it was causing anger and frustration among the Jews. I am happy to be doing what I know is right. To be serving just as Christ did. I am proud to wear his name over my heart everyday, and love enduring everything the badge brings.
~Elder Maddox

Friday, July 20, 2012

Letter #13 (Shreveport)

Sorry I was out of time. This is in responce to questions dad asked! Sorry I had to use part of his letter!

So my area consists of the exact middle of Shreveport. If you were to look at it from a map, "downtown" is almost the center of our area, so take the middle of downtown, and then about three miles to the east, south, and west of that would be my area. It is about a 3 mile square, and we are on the southern most bottom part. It equates to a lot of biking, and also a lot of pounds being shed. So the district that I am is the "Shreveport" District which is just out companionship, and another set of Shreveport missionaries who take all of the area around us. Elder Westbrook is our District Leader and is an amazing missionary. He is more soft spoken, and spiritual, and even though he hasn't had the "success" that the world judges missionaries by, he has taught me so much! So Bossier, and Shreveport are separated by the Red River, and Bossier and Shreveport together make the Shreveport Zone. There are 7 companionship's that are Elders, and one sister missionary companionship, so 8 all together in my area. The ward here is the biggest in the mission, since Shreveport is the largest city in our mission. Ya, Elder Spangler is down to 23 days left as a missionary, and is still pushing hard. He will be coming to see ya'll when he gets home and give you a full report! And because him and I opened up this area, I will most likely be staying here after he leaves. I may train, or I may get an older missionary, you never really know. And because this is my first area, I could still be in Shreveport till around Christmas, but like I said, you never really know. Now on to the fun stuff. My confidence is through the roof right now. I feel like the spirit has taken all of the talents that I had previous to the mission, and made them even stronger. It is crazy to think of where I was just two months ago, and now where I am. The hand of the Lord has been seen in my life on a daily basis, and it is so amazing!! I have been blessed with other talents I didn't know about as well. A unique ability to remember peoples names has been one that is very noticeable. Its is something that I have struggled with ever since my car accident, and it is a joy to have the ability back. My teaching power is crazy right now. My ability to recall scriptures, and to teach the lessons is a power that is simply beyond my own. I love it when people tell me that I need to rethink my beliefs, and then I bust out the Bible, and show them how our church is spoken of. Everyone down here wants to argue about religion, and I feel that I am able to help them see that we as a faith are not tearing their beliefs. Rather we add to them and give them a literal fullness! I love being able to go toe to toe with anyone now, and it's all because of my trainer that I have this confidence.

I feel like time flies by. To think we are halfway through July already is mind blowing. The days feel like hours, and the weeks feel like days. It is crazy to think that I am already two and a half months in. I have been here longer than I was in Georgia last summer. In that sense I am over the hump, but the hump bites me in the butt when I think of how much I have left to do. You know how when your training a new mule, and you finally get on it, and it doesn't throw you off? That's how I feel. I have conquered a bit part of it, the beginning, but even though I am on the mule, I still need to teach it to reign, street break it, desensitize it, and teach it to jump. Progress has been made, but still so much to go. I hope that analogy helps.

Good luck Sam, and Zack! Good luck with your talks, and then going to the MTC! Cherish your time there, it is much more simple then the field!!
Elder Maddox

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Letter #12 (Shreveport, LA)

Steven's cousin entered the MTC yesterday! That is 2 of the four boys in our family that will be serving over the next 2 years! There will be a total of 7 over the next 4 years. It was hard for these boys to say good by to each other. But, they each know the importance of it.         ~Lisa

Steven, Sam, Jeff, Zack.  Steven and Jeff are now serving, Sam and Zack will enter the MTC in the next 3 weeks!

These boys can never all be serious at the same time someone always has his finger in the others ear...taking their pictures at 18 was exactly  like taking their picture when they were 2 years old!!!   (Seriously) 

These 7 cousins will all leave on their missions over the next 2 years!
Now this weeks letter from My Missionary...      

O I can't believe I just started my email out with that, I have been
hanging around the spanish missionaries too long! But this week was a
crazy week here in Shreveport. Crazy rain storms like you never get
in Utah have been a regular occurance the last few weeks, and we have
had two investigators progress like crazy! One of them, Alex Doorman,
is a 15 year old young man who is being an amazing example to all of
his family, some of which, are inactive members who his example is
changing. He is progressing towards baptisim thorugh his own personal
study of the Book of Mormon. It is amazing how when the people we
teach decide to finally read, their whole perspective changes. They
see the need to be baptized, because, throught their reading, they see
how amazing both God, and Christ are, and when they see that, they,
the investigators, want to do all they can to become closer to God.
The Book of Mormon has changed me drastically in the last two months.
I am just a few chapters from finishing it, and can not put it down
most mornings. What continues to amaze me, is the more I learn about
the gospel, and the more effective I become as a teacher, the simpler
my personal testimony becomes. The more I teach about everything that
makes up the Mormon faith, I realize how truly simple all of our
testimonies should be. They should be comprised of three simple,
essentail truths. 1: That Jospeh Smith was a true Phrophet, and he
resoted the true church of Christ, and the autority to administer as
such. 2: That the Book of Mormon is nothing short of the word of
God. That when combined with the Bible, the Book of Mormon is the
fulness of the Gospel. And number 3: That our savior is Jesus
Christ. He felt all of our pains, afflections, guilts, and
temptaitons. He fell below all of us, to the lowest of low's only to
rise up, and loose the bands of death, and conquer all. Christ has
been refered to as both the Lamb, and The Shepard. He has transended
all. That is the simplicity of our church.
~Elder Maddox

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Letter #11 (Shreveport)

Week 7
So today is officially day one of the new mission president! President Tucker packed his bags, and is probably already home, and the reign of President McDonough is officially underway! Elder Spangler and I called him this morning to invite him to an up and coming fireside at in our fireside, and I had the opportunity to speak with him briefly, and he seems like a very loving man, and he is very eager to begin! One comforting thought about having him arrive this week, is that I am no longer the youngest in the mission!! Haha, but this week was full of excitement in my life, including the finding of another individual named Mario. Mario is a 22 year old young man who hasn't been inside a church in 4 years before Sunday. But he came to church, and I have to say, our ward THREW DOWN! The meeting was very possibly the most spirit filled fast and testimony that I have had the opportunity to participate in. Our ward is absolutely amazing. And they continue to get better and better. The theme of fast Sunday for our ward was missionary work. And our ward has caught mission fever! Many of them have been giving us referrals and signed up to come out with us, or to have us and some of our investigators into their house for member present lessons, and Elder Spangler and I couldn't me more happy. So because of the wards new dedication, we have devoted this week to the finding of new people to teach. This week will be filled with knocking doors, and talking to as many people as we happen to bike past. Speaking of bikes, I have had a lot of questions as to how it feels to ride my bike here in the south. Here is the most accurate way to let y'all know what I feel on a daily basis. Go turn your shower on as hot as it goes in your bathroom, close all the doors and have no ventilation. Then, get a stationary bike and peddle as fast as you can for 15-20 miles with a 15 pound back pack, in a white shirt and tie, and a pair of slacks! Don't forget the helmet, but that's just for looks!! And that would be the feeling of my life all day everyday:) Ya, that's pretty accurate portrayal.
So the word on the street is that Jeff is getting pretty close!! That is so exciting for me to hear! You will love the MTC. Words of advice though. Enjoy it. While it will be stressful, and you will feel the need to change who you are, don't. Remember that God called Jeff, not robot Jeff. But don't get stressed about it. Lay back, tell some jokes, and have fun. Best of luck to you man. Know that I am praying for you, and can't wait to have you out in the field with me. I had a lot of friends in the MTC who were going to your mission, and they will be some of your best friends. Look out for an Elder Quinn Hunsaker. Funniest kid in the world!!
~Elder Maddox

Letter #10 (Shreveport, LA)

Whats up??
Alright so I know I missed last week and that was totally my bad! It
has been nothing but hot here in Shreveport, yesterday was only 104 so
it was a little cooler, but this weekend is supposed to be even worse!
And to top it all off, I get to ride my bike everywhere, but hey,
that's the life of a missionary, and I would not trade it for anything
right now. These last two weeks have consitsted of a lot of knocking
doors, gotta love it. If you had told me a year and a half ago that I
would be knocking doors in the dirty south for the next three summers,
I would have told you, that you were crazy, but like I said, wouldn't
trade it. We have continued to meet with our top investigator, Luke,
almost every other day consistanly, and it looks like my first
baptisim is coming on Saturday, which would be absolutly awesome!
Many of our other investigtors continue to progress, and I see the
hand of the Lord working in their lives each day to help progress them
each day. One thing that has been crazy as we've continued to talk to
more and more people is the curiosity and controversy that Mitt Romney
is generating. Everyday people will yell at us and let us know that
they are "voting for our president", and a lot of the people who we
talk to on the streets are very curious as to what he, Mitt, believes
in with him being a Mormon. And then there is the other side of the
coin, the controversy that being Mormon brings. Its amazing how many
people try to tell me what I believe being Mormon, and don't seem to
believe me when I tell them that we don't worship Jospeh Smith, and
no, we don't believe in animal sacrafice, and yes, we do believe in
Jesus Christ. The misconceptions that people believe in the South are
crazy, and all I can do is laugh when I hear them. But the one that
makes me stoked on being a missionary is when someone calls me a
Mormon, thinking it is a diss on me! Haha silly misinformed people
don't they know what a compliment that is? Mormon was a legendary
phrophet, and will gladly be called that any day of the week! The
members continue to feed us on a near nightly basis, but because of
the temprature, and the bike, I am actually losing weight! We are
still trying to get the ward to catch the spark as far as missionary
work is concerned, and they are getting better. Its amazing to me how
much more effective members are, than us missonaries knocking on
doors. Many members are nervous about sharing their beliefs, because
they don't want to offend people, but I have seen first hand how much
the Lord prepairs the hearts of men. We don't know the events that
happen to people when we aren't with them, that are slowly prepairing
them to draw closer to Christ. It is very easy to be content with our
religon. To live it on Sunday's for three hours, but when we decide
to live full time, and share the message of the restoration of the
gospel with others, God will bless us more that we have room to

~Elder Maddox

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


I found these pictures of Steven on his Mission President's Blog from his last Zone Conference, June 2012.  I did not get a big email this week...hoping for a letter in a day or two, so these will have to do for now!  I did get a brief email letting me know that he no longer has a camera...or the photo card that was in the camera...I'm not really sure what became of the camera but knowing could be as simple as; he inadvertently stepped on it where he neatly set it on the ground, or hey it fell into a volcano as he was passing it by or maybe he simply met someone who really needed a camera and gave them his...anyway no camera equals no pictures for mamma!  Thus the cash for pictures incentive program has been placed on hold (temporarily)  and a have resumed my cyber stalking for photos!  These are my latest finds...


Elder Maddox  sitting ( about 11:00) light blue tie

Shreveport Zone Conference   Elder Maddox is far right on front row 

Monday, June 11, 2012

Letter #9 (Shreveport, LA)

Life in Shreveport is nothing short of amazing. It is crazy to me to think that another week has already gone. It feels like I'm always in the library writing these letters, the week goes by so fast. Elder Spangler and I are still working as hard as we physically can. Every night we go home, plan, and are in bed by about 10! But every night were able to look up at the ceiling and tell the Lord that we gave it all for Him today, and we will be ready to do it again tomorrow. That is the key I think to the mission. Hard work. There truly is no substitute. Working hard is what will make the two years feel like a blink. Hard work is what will change the missionary the most. And ultimately, hard work will grant success. No amount of skills, or abilities will replace hard work. Know that when you put that black tag on each day, hard work is what is expected. Nothing less than your best is acceptable. As a missionary, you will be held accountable come judgement for those who you were given stewardship over. If you did all that you could to bring them closer to Christ, then you will be rewarded for your work, but if you as a missionary slacked off, and didn't take your mission serious, then you will be held accountable. Another thing that never stops amazing me is the maturity that a missionary is forced to gain quickly. For whatever reason people feel that the missionaries have the answers to all of life's questions. It seems they forget that I am only 19!! Haha crazy stuff!

This week Elder Spangler and I have been working a lot with our number one investigator Luke Regard. Luke is a 21 year old college student who already has faith in Christ. Elder Spangler and I are doing our best to help him draw closer to Christ through the Restored Gospel, and he is progressing very well. He has come to church in the last two weeks, and has a baptism date for June 29th which seems very attainable. He is very open minded and believes that Joseph Smith is a Prophet, and that God's true church is on the earth today, and he feels that he has found it. Lets hope that he doesn't get anti-ed. In the south, rather than teach lessons in their church, different church's will teach all about how the Mormons are all wrong! There are Methodist colleges down here that teach Anti-Mormon classes! Gotta love the South! I know I do! I attended my first crawdad boil this week at one of our investigators houses, and I have to say, very good! But a lot of work for small reward, but still, pretty good. Not much more to say other than to say this Church continues to amaze me! It is so cool that this gospel truly has EVERYTHING. Different parts of this Gospel mean so much to me at different times. This week has been the thought that families are together forever. That through the power of the Priesthood, we can be sealed to those who we love for time and all eternity. But going back to the idea that this Gospel can "morph" to your needs is due to the fact that our church is centered on Jesus Christ. Because Christ literally felt every sin, guilt, and pain, He knows how to help us endure to the end. Not only does He know, but He is all too willing to help if we allow Him into our lives. He will help us to grab the Iron Rod when it slips from our grasp. He will pick us up when we fall off the straight and narrow, and He will lead us from temptation. And when we need it, He will remind us of the piece of Gospel that we need in our lives at that point, that will help us to progress, and grow closer to him.
~Elder Maddox

Monday, June 4, 2012

Letter #8 (Shreveport, LA)

     We heard from Elder Maddox today it was brief but I was happy to get it!  He sounds amazing. He spends 3 hours a day studying!!! (That does my heart good!)   He is already saying "Y' all" and has a baptism scheduled for July 1st.  He really enjoys his new trainer, Elder Spangler. Steven says that "Elder Spangler knows everything!"  I am asked all the time; how I am doing and if the time is going fast or slow...  Well, I am so happy that he has chosen to serve a mission that it does help the sting of him being gone.  I have anticipated this since he was born and that helps too.  I miss having his fun personality in our home.  For me his first week was the easiest, I think because I was so excited for him.  But as the weeks went on it really sunk in that we wont be seeing him for 2 full years!  I am doing okay now butt I definitely have my moments; when I am writing him a letter, when I am counting heads to make sure everyone is there or when I need his help with something...  I still have to go through all 3 of my boys names to call the right one and he has been gone for weeks.  But just when I seem to be really down or miss him so bad that it hurts, I receive a tender mercy.  Even as I was updating this blog and missing him so much, I received a text from Tracey Barrow in Louisiana telling me that she had just fed the missionaries!  She said that Elder Maddox is doing great and she even sent a picture!  She said what great example the missionaries are to her 3 year old son! It's such a great feeling to know that my son is now setting the example for future generations.  Wow, how about that as an answer to my prayers. 
 I love technology and my missionary!!! 

Elder Maddox far left.  The little one...all 6 feet 200 pounds of him!
Well... imagine my surprise when a couple hours after my short email came I received the "real" weekly email.  It was written about the same time, the time stamps were the same, it just arrived much later so here it is...

       Crazy thought!
Alright, here is a crazy thought! Exactly one year ago from tomorrow is when I left for Savannah Georgia to go and sell alamarms! It feels like that was just yesterday when I had to say goodbye to my friends and family for that adventure. And just like my first journey into the south, my second trip is proving to be amazing!! This week we have been meeting with many of our investigators, quite often and this was the week of "signs". For whatever reason, many of the people whom we have been teaching found out this week that the church is true through some miracle or another. It would take me more than my allotted time of one hour at the library! Another weird thought is that I am entering into my 4th week as a missionary in Shreveport. It feels like I just got here! Time becomes irrelevant when you're in the service of your Lord! While two years is a scary amount of time to leave home, it will fly by, so to anyone who doesn't know if they can give two years, here is a quote for you "The Lord doesn't ask about your ability, only your availability; and, if you prove your dependability, the Lord will increase your capability." Spencer W. Kimball. The Lord will compensate for all that we lack if we put ourselves in a position to be uplifted by him. He doesn't care about what your skills may be, or even the lack there of, but He does care that you are willing to put His name on over your heart everyday, and endure more than you thought possible. If you are willing to do that for Him, willing to be called names, willing to be rejected, willing to be mocked, ridiculed, yelled at, cussed at, more tired than you thought possible, then, He will raise you up, and "increase your capability". Remember that Christ suffered for all of our sins. But He did so much more than that, He felt the pains, sorrow, guilt, and anguish that each of us has EVER felt. Because He felt it all, He knows how to help us cope with it all, and He is anxisouly waiting for you to call on Him.
~Elder Maddox

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Letter #7

This week has been nothing but crazy to say the least. And I apologize for my tardiness in writing this letter, but due to Memorial Day, the public library was closed. But back to the week of craze! Last week we had a little competition between all the districts in the Shreveport Zone to see which District could find the most new investigators. A new investigator is an individual who you teach a lesson to, and set up a specific return appointment. So Elder Spangler and I set out to beat everyone else single handily. We talked to EVERYONE who we saw on the street, and by the end of the week had 8 new investigators, which Elder Spangler tells me is really good! Just not good enough to win the competition:( See the rules were that each district would be avraged out, and the other companionships in our districts struggled this week, and couldn't find anyone new to teach. But I guess the bright side to our loss, if there is such a thing, is that we have 8 new people to teach this week!! Epic! So because our mission is really pushing setting people with baptisimal dates on the first visit, we now have 4 people set up to baptized on the 28th of june! Pretty cool. Its hard to believe that I'm a missionary. Every morning, I have to remind myself that this is who I am now, but I will say this. My P-day cloths are starting to feel akward to have on. I feel boarderline naked without the collar of my white shirt hitting me high on the neck! Its crazy to think Im already a month and a half in to this thing. Time is an interesting thing when your a missionary. Everyday goes by so fast. Every time I check my watch, it feels like I'm late. There feels like there is so much to do but so little time to finish it. Two years will fly by. Two years will be just a flash of time.
Elder Maddox

Monday, May 21, 2012

Letter #6 Shreveport, Louisiana

Hey world,
So this week has been nothing but finding for elder Spangler and I. Since we have absolutly no investigators due to us opening a new area, we have been tracting like crazy! Since Wednesday of last week we handed out 20 Book of Mormons, which I'm being told is pretty flippin good! Haha this week has been nothing but joy to say the least. We get to head into downtown quite often and we have met some of the craziest people I have ever met! But the Lord has blessed Elder Spangler and I in more ways than I could write down in the short time I have. But one of those miracles is too cool to ignore. As we were tracting, we met a young man named Luke. Luke is a Christian, but does not belong to any one faith. He knows Christ and has done a lot of studying on him. So on the street, Elder Spangler and I dove into the first lesson the Restoration of the Gospel. As soon as we finished with the Jospeh Smith story he looked at us and said "I know what you just told me is true. I don't know how, but I do" How amazing is that? That was Friday, and we now have our return appointment for Monday night at 5! I will let you know how it goes! The church is true! The work is going forward regardless of how much the world will try to rebel against us. The Lord is on our side, so how can we lose?

~Elder Maddox

A Night In The Mission Home

I was so excited to see that the Mississippi Jackson Blog was updated again and I found more pictures of Elder Maddox so I thought I would share...  ~Lisa

MONDAY, MAY 14, 2012 ~Pres. Tucker's Blog

"After spending the afternoon in orientation and having their first opportunity to be a missionary in Mississippi, the missionaries came to the mission home for the night before traveling to their new areas the following day."

Elder Maddox with the Mission President and his wife.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Letter #5 (First Area)

       Imagine my surprise when I just finished updating Steven's blog having to use his Mission President's blog info because he hadn't written yet and realize that I have a new email from him! Our first letter from Jackson Mississippi, where the Mission Home is (the hub of this mission, his mission takes in 4 states). He was there just long enough for his interview, a hot meal and a comfy bed and then off to his first area...but I will let him tell you about that!

Greetings from Shreveport, Louisiana!!

Wow what a crazy few days the last few days have turned out to be!! From the M.T.C. in Provo Utah to Jackson, Mississippi, to now being in Shreveport, Louisiana, the last few days have been nothing short of amazing, but lets start at the beginning! So Monday morning at 3 in the A.M. district 3A, headed to to the Jackson, Mississippi Mission, awoke to start the adventure of a life time! In order to make our 7:50 flight we had to leave the M.T.C. by 4, thus the early waking up time. So at 4, we boarded a bus bound for S.L.C International airport and quickly boarded our flight with Atlanta, Georgia as the destination. We arrived in Atlanta at about 2 o'clock local time and had about a 2 hour layover where we all got to try out our new found missionary skills. Unfortunately none of us had any luck do to our "greeniess", but with spirits high, we jumped on our final plane to Jackson Mississippi! Upon arriving in Jackson we were greeted by our A.P.'s Elder Spangler and Elder Garrett. After getting our bags, President and Sister Tucker met us with the mission van and trailer. After a brief hug, with the President, we're not allowed to hug sisters;), and yes Mom, a picture, we jumped in the van and drove to the Brandon Stake Center, about 10 minutes away from the airport. Upon arriving, we had our first real meal since leaving home that was prepared by Sister Tucker, and went through a pretty in depth orientation on how the mission operates! During that time, the president took each Elder and Sister out and did our welcome interview, you know, the one where he looks on your soul to see who should be your trainer? Ya, it made me feel like he was trying to know everything about me in a matter of minutes, which of coarse he was!! Haha awesome right? Anyway, back to the story! Shortly after my interview, I was companioned off to one of the local missionaries, Elder Burt, who took me on my first real tracting session ever! No one cared to hear the message we had to share, so we went home with nothing to show for the day... But the day wasn't over. After my failed attempt at knocking doors, we loaded up in one of the mission cars and headed to the mission home that's located in a little suburb of Jackson. The home was BEAUTIFUL, and we got to sleep on real bed's, not the cardboard they make you sleep on in the M.T.C. But before bed time, one very important event had to take place. The placement of the new missionaries with their respectable trainers. So they had name cards of all the new missionaries, and of all the trainers, and we had to try to guess who our trainer would be. I guessed Elder Spangler, who was being released as A.P. for his final 3 months of his mission, and I was dead on! Now is where it gets crazy. Elder Spangler and I were tasked with opening a new area of the mission, that hadn't been established. Shreveport Downtown! Talk about feelings of inadequicy, knowing that I had just stepped off the airplane, and now was being asked to help open up a new area for the Mission. And that was just Monday! Tuesday was nothing too crazy just driving out to our area, about 5 hours away from Jackson, and getting set up in our new apartment. We did however have a few hours to go and tract, and Elder Spangler showed me how to do it! He placed a Book of Mormon on just our second door answered, and not only placed it, but got a return date for Thursday night, and yes, they will be feeding us! This place is amazing, and the people are even more so! I'm sitting in the library right now, and there are some of the most amazing, old, church's here, and yes once again mother, pictures will come. But today,Wednesday Elder Spangler gave me the reins, and I placed my first Book Of Mormon, and yes, I too got a return appointment for Monday so we will see how that goes! I can't tell you how excited I am to be in this new area. People here are all so willing to listen to our message, no matter their faith! The next 6 months that I will be here will be absolutely amazing, I have no doubt of that. I finally have an address which is:

Elder Steven Maddox
3644 Beckham Drive
Shreveport Louisiana 71104

I don't know that Dear Elder works out here, so anyone wishing to write to me had better do it the old fashioned way, by a stamp and envelope! Love to hear from everyone, and I will do my best to respond, but my number one priority now is to help the work go forward, so forgive me if it takes a while for a response. This area is truly hand picked by the Lord, and Shreveport Downtown is "white ready to harvest!" It is becoming weirder and weirder to hear  myself called by any name other than Elder. I am so thankful to be here in this area right now. I love the State, I love the people, and I love my area. I can not wait for both my friends and family who have their calls to experience the overwhelming joy I have as I write this. The church is true, and the Lord is truly my Shepard!

~Elder Maddox

Elder Maddox Arrives In Mississippi!

With the beauty of Blogs, I am now able to stalk my missionary son via the computer!!!  While I have not yet officially heard from him personally through the mail I was able to find him on the Mississippi Jackson Mission Blog that his mission president keeps. How awesome is that!  Not only am I keeping a blog for my son but so is his mission president!  I am so glad to know he has made it safely and didn't loose his luggage this time!  So here are a few of the pictures that I found on the blog spot...

"It was a beautiful day for twelve amazing missionaries to arrive.  Welcome Elders Murdoch, Bradshaw, Palmieri, Green, Bytheway, Flint, Thomas, Maddox, Saunders, Hamp and
 ( Pres. & Sis. Tucker)  Sisters Talakai and Tomlinson."

"After getting all the luggage we held to tradition and put everyone on the elevator for a photo" 

Elder Madox in back center with red and white tie!!!
Elder Maddox center back to us with MTC companion Flint

Monday, May 14, 2012

First Phone Call Home!!! (Atlanta, GA)

For those of you unfamiliar to an LDS Misson, the missionaries may write home and friends once a week and may call home twice a year, on Mother's Day and Christmas.  They are also allowed to call from the airport when they travel from the Missionary Training Center in Provo, Utah to the area they will be serving their 2 year mission in.  If they happen to be in the MTC on either Mother's Day or Christmas they do not get to call home.  But in Steven's case he flew to Mississippi the day after Mother's Day so while I didn't get a phone call yesterday I received TWO today!!!  He called at 6:30 this morning from the Salt Lake Airport so he could talk to all of his brothers and sisters before they left for school.  And he called me a few hours later during his layover in Atlanta, GA.  It was so good to hear from him!  He was very excited to talk to each of his siblings but by the time he got to the last, his 6 year old sister Katrina, he was very choked up.  (I love that he misses each of them so much)    He told me that during his almost 3 weeks in the MTC that he saw at least 15 or more young men that he knew from home.  He said that Elder Brennan Stratton is doing great and is having an amazing time like himself.  He also saw Elder Braden Day and even got to participate in a blessing for Elder Day after he injured his shoulder playing sports. Steven said he has had so many amazing experiences while he has been there.  Elder Maddox sounds happy and ready to accomplish great things.  It made me feel so good to hear his cheerful voice and positive attitude.  I have updated his mailing address on the blog.  He loves receiving letters and is grateful to everyone who writes him.  ~Lisa