Monday, October 7, 2013

Letter #62 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Momma,
So naturally, I must start this letter by declaring how amazing this week was. While it was amazing for sure, it was really unlike any week I have had to date on the mission. Monday and Tuesday went just like every normal missionary day, but Wednesday was interesting. It's kinda crazy, but President asked that I be a district leader again. Except the district I am now over is huge. It's the size of the Zone I was in when I was in Ashdown last year at this time. But with this zone there is a lot of missionaries that I don't know all too well, so I took Wednesday and worked with one of the companionship's in there area, that has been struggling. It was a lot of fun to take some time to work and learn from other missionaries. And hopefully Elder Sumsion and I were able to spark something with both the Companionship and Area that will get them started. We will see. But then Thursday is where it got totally crazy. So down here in the South, it's not quite like Utah where you have a ward every three blocks. Here it stretches for miles and miles. My area for example is almost 1200 square miles. Crazy right. Well, we have a town called Poplarville that is about 30 miles away from us that has nearly half of the Branch's members living in it. For obvious reasons, we can't get out and work Poplarville all too often, so with President's permission of coarse, we set up living arrangements with Jason, a less active in Poplarville. We were originally planning on staying with him and family, but about two days before we were too meet with them, we realized something we hadn't earlier. He had a teenage daughter living in his house!! And this, for obvious reasons, wouldn't work for a two night living situation. Well, we called Jason too see if he had any other ideas, or possible living situations. Well he did. I will send pictures because words don't do it justice. But here was the new plan. Jason's job is to be the Athletic Director of a local college in Poplarville. As the Athletic Director, he can also pull some strings. So Jason went too work because he really wanted us to come spend time with him and his family. Well, his solution was to put us up in a room up above the College's basketball court. Ya, crazy right. It's apparently a room where they put players in during the summer. It had two separate bathrooms' and showers, so it wask perfect living accommodations. Plus the showers were designed for tall basketball players, so the shower heads were placed about 7 feet up on the wall, so Elder Sumsion was excited to finally get his head wet for the first time in a while;) But it was overall an amazing trip. I felt like how I would imagine the first missionaries to have felt. Going into a brand new city, with only members to stay with. Well the weekend only got better with General Conference. It was completely amazing, but the thought I wish to share didn't come directly from something the Brothern said. It has to do with myself. I have come to realize that messing up isn't always a bad thing. And more than that, God is a God of "trial and error". Let me explain. For nearly a year upon returning from Savanna, I prayed for months that I would not serve my mission in the South. But how wrong was I? I tried, and made an error. God knows what we truly need to "prepare to meet [him]". He loves us, and when we try something, mess up, He is there waiting to show us the correct way.
    ~Elder Maddox

So a ward member that works for Nike hooked
 the missionaries up with some pretty nice Nike stuff!
They were so excited!

Monday, September 30, 2013

Letter # 61 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey momma,
Wow, what a crazy week it's been. Now let me tell you why. 3 baptisms this weekend! So this last week Elder Sumsion and I had anticipated the baptisms of Eran and Stacie, and were doing a great job of planning them. Stacie's was all set for Friday night, with Eran's the following morning at 10. Well, on about Wednesday, I think, I got a call from an investigator in my last area, Byram, MS. Her name is Jen, and I had spent a lot of time teaching her. Well come to find out, she was getting baptized this weekend, and asked if I would baptize her! Lucky for me, she had to work Saturday, so her baptism was scheduled for Sunday at 12:30. So our week consisted of two amazing baptisms Friday and Saturday, then two confirmations on Sunday morning, Elder Sumsion and I speaking in Sacrament meeting following the confirmations, then loading up and driving two and a half hours north to Byram for me to perform the last baptism of the week, Jen's. What an amazing weekend it was, and it all went off without a hitch!
         ~Elder Maddox

Elder Maddox and his new companion  Elder Sumsion
Elder Maddox is at least 6' tall...

Monday, September 16, 2013

Letter # 54 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Momma!!                                                                                         Aug. 19, 2013
Alright so first of all... What an amazingly awesome week this has been! There was just so much that happened since Wednesday, that I hope I can get it all in! I guess I will just go day by day? That should hopefully work! So Wednesday, after I emailed you, we got out and got after it. We went around trying to contact as many people on our Branch roster as we could, and while we weren't successful in finding any less actives, we were able to teach a few people who had never heard the message of the Restoration. See, Elder Bench and I have an awesome advantage that most missionaries don't have, and that is the fact that here in Wiggins, people haven't seen missionaries like us out and about in over 20 years. So many people have stopped us and checked out our name tag's or just given us some strange looks, and if they look for too long, we take their curiosity as a sign that they want to talk to us! This has actually been quite a productive use of our time, simply walking around, and generating some pretty strange looks! But going back to our awesome Wednesday, we walked around till about 6, and then headed over to the church to try to meet some of the members. There we were able to meet with the entire Branch Presidency, as well as our newly called Branch Mission Leader, Brother Mitchell! Wow, this Branch is so ready to just explode! The Branch President, President Robertson, is a young Branch President, both in age, and in his time as BP, and let me tell you, it doesn't matter, because he is ready to get things done! He has put into place all the tools that we need as an area to be successful! So we met with them, the Branch Council, and discussed all the things that Elder Bench and I hoped too see happen in the few months that we will be here. Well, apparently we said the right things because President Robertson then asked us to not only speak for 10 minutes each, but to also have a combined 3rd hour at church on Sunday, so that we could talk with the members and share with them about what we had in mind for the Wiggins Branch! We accepted, of coarse. Then came Thursday, and we decided that we would spend the whole day on foot, and try to find some Non-members to teach! Great success! We were able to teach 4 lessons, and find 4 new people to teach. It was a very productive day! The next few days, Friday and Saturday were spent meeting with just as many Active member's as we could, and once again, we found a lot of success. We were able to meet with almost 10 families, and share with them what our goals were, and how they as member's could help us out! And let me tell you, after meeting with all of them, I am even more excited about being here! It's a tiny town, with a tiny church, and a small amount of Members, but this is where I am supposed to be! This is exactly what God has in store for me. I feel like my whole mission has come down to my time here in Wiggins. It's hard to stop at night, to lay down my head because my mind is still out on the streets talking to people, or in the members house's sharing with them what we hope to accomplish! I love my mission!
         ~Elder Maddox the First.

Letter #53 (Wiggins, MS)

Hey Mom,                                                                                                        Aug. 14, 2013
WOW is the only adjective to accurately describe this week too you. Talk about a 360 degree turn! I went from being over a few large cities, to having an area that has a few towns...And towns might be too big of a word to describe these places! But it's great! The area is named Wiggins, and it sandwiched in between two big cities, Hattiesburg, and Gulfport, with the Coast of the mission being about 30 minutes away. So lot's of rain and lots of seafood. Both are great! But Wiggins is a pretty crazy area. Like I said it's a few different town's all smashed together to make a branch of about 75 members. Quite a big branch, and excited would be a good word for their new missionaries. I feel like a celebrity. In all of my other area's, people will come up to us and shake our hand's and what not, but never have I had the welcoming like I have had here. In all of the other apartments that I have opened, we have had next to nothing in our apartments, because no one has lived their before. But this was the total opposite. We got in and had pictures on the wall, blankets on the bed, and food in the pantry. What an amazing show of support. Not only that, but we have been getting calls from many of the members asking what they can do to help us, asking if we need anything, and setting up dinner appointments. Its been amazing to say the least. I was truly humbled by the outpouring of love I received just by the way my apartment was set up. They are so eager to help, that it makes us try to be better missionaries. I will give more details following this week of work, and can't wait to give you guys all of the details next week!
             ~Elder Maddox

Letter #52 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom,                                                                                                              Aug. 6, 2013
So another great week in the books here in Byram Mississippi, and time continues to fly. It is really weird that my time is shortly coming to an end here. Another chapter in the book is closing, while another opens up. As far as this week is concerned we spent a lot of time teaching, with a lot of focus on our progressing investigators. Jen, who was scheduled to be baptized this last Saturday had to reschedule because she had to work last Sunday, and couldn't make it to church. But this Sunday she has already got work off, and that means she will be there! Which also means that next Saturday, the 17th, will be her baptisim day! And to make it even better, she asked for me to get permission to come back to baptize her! So that was definetly a cherry on top of the ice cream that has been my time here in Byram. Our other investigator that has been progressing well, Andrew has had some things come up that we have been working with and trying to help him work through, but he will get through them! All part of the fun of missionary work. Other than just working with Andrew and Jen, we have been knocking quite a few doors, trying to make sure that there is plenty for Elder Parker too do once I am gone! I can't believe that Elder Maddox the Second is already in the MTC, pretty crazy to think that there are now 7 members of the Maddox family out serving, because two missionaries got Grandma and Grandpa!
                ~Elder Maddox the First

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Roll Over!

                                                                                                                           About July 24, 2013
Well I received a phone call from the mission president letting me know that Elder Maddox and his companion were in a car accident.  They had been checked out at the hospital and seemed fine.  Well I let him know that Steven had been in a roll over several years ago and had a severe concussion from it that took 22 months to recover from.  So the next day Pres. McDonough had him checked out with an MRI and all looked good.  I was so relieved.  Elder Maddox says he is feeling better just a little sore and his head hurts pretty bad.  A ward member happened  to send me a few pictures of the accident...Just a little scary.  The Elders were heading home after a meeting, it had been raining and the roads were slick.  Steven's Companion was driving, while Steven was making calls for the next day's appointments.  As the came around a curve they slid down a 15 foot embankment, hit the bottom, then rolled over and landed up right.  Lots of damage to the car...the missionaries were much more lucky.


Friday, August 30, 2013

Letter #51 (Byram, MS)

Wow,                                              July 22, 2013                  
I fell like each time that I get on here my time is shorter and
shorter, and the weeks hold more and more that I just need to tell you
all. So first of all, we had interviews with President McDonough, and
can I just say, that there could not be a better mission president.
The interview didn't reveal any information about where I will be
going to here in a few weeks before I leave, but the interview was a
good energy boost. President has such energy and desire for the work,
that it is totally contagious! So great. Every time we have
interviews, which is every three months, we are supposed to bring two
goals and one Christ-like attribute that we are going to be working on
over the next few months between interviews. Now, I had two real
solid goals, and was excited to discuss them with him. While he
thought my goals were great, he wanted to discuss the fact that I am
about single didgit months left. Wow, hadn't really even thought
about that untill he brought it up! Kinda a bitter sweet thought! But
onto the rest of the week.
So my new companion, Elder Parker, and I are picking up right where
Elder Anderson left us. Finding people to get baptized! We have a
few people right now who are progressing with baptismal dates!
Jennifer is a 23 year old mother who is married to a member who has
become less active. Well last week we finally got to meet with her
and her husband, and let me tell you, AWESOME AND ELECT! She was so
ready to hear the message of the restoration! She was in tears and
just couldn't stop thanking us for the "message of peace and comfort,
and for answering all the questions that she has always wondered!"
Ever since then, she has eaten up everything that we have given her.
On Sunday, when we taught her the Word of Wisdom, she looked up at the
white board that we had just wrote all of the "do not's" on, smiled
and said, ya I don't do any of those things! Haha she was just so
prepaired to hear what we had to say that Elder Parker and I could
only laugh as we discussed the lesson afterwards.
Another indivual that we are working with is Andrew. Andrew is just a
little bit different than anyone that I have taught, because he has
already made the decison to be baptized. His main hold up is that,
because he is 14, he needs his mother's permission to get baptized.
While she isn't against the church or anything like that, she is
reluctant to let him join, because that would mean that he would be
leaving his family church, a baptist church, that his Uncle pastors.
So when I got here in April, Elder Anderson and I set out to somehow
get Alica, Andrews mom, to allow him to be baptized. After many
prayers, fasting, and teaching his mother the majority of the
missionary lessons, she has consented to allow him to become a member
and to be baptized! Words could not describe the joy and excitment as
we left their home on Wednesday. The date that we picked for him is
August 10th. What an amazing testimony builder it was to see Alicia
smile, and have a change of heart as we were at her house. The Lord
truly prepairs ways for his work to come to pass.
He has given us commandmens, some easy, some hard, and has asked us to
follow. But he hasn't left us without a way to live the commandments.
As we struggle, and stumble to live in a way according to his
commands, He is always there, with a hand outstretched. It isn't
always easy to see him, but once we do we are promised that " I will
also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even
you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage,
and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter,
and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my
people in their afflictions."(Mosiah 24:14) What a very real promise
this is. An attitude that I have adopted since my life here in Byram,
is "this too shall pass." Now I used to only apply this thought when
I was struggling, when I was in the middle of trials. But this saying
also applies to success. Every day is new. We have new battles to
face, and new demons to crush. If we are stuck living off of
yesterday's victory, we will get swallowed up by todays new challange.
I try to live life one day at a time, wether I am going through a
trial, or having success. Each day is new, and with a new day, comes
new challanges, and new blessings. Become a little better each and
every day, and that is what I have come to define success as. Being a
little better, a little closer to God.
           ~Elder Maddox

Letter # 50 (Byram, MS)

                                                                                                                      July 15, 2013

I got a quick note from Elder Maddox today.  He had strep throat, a double ear infection, with a fever of 102 and lost 15 pounds last week.  But he said that the missionaries are well cared for there and he is doing much better this week.   So that was why we didn't hear from him last week.   His new companion is Elder Parker from Lehi, Utah!  He said he reminds him a lot of Travis.  Elder Maddox is also very excited for his cousin Caleb to enter the MTC next week.

Letter #49 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom,                                                                                                               June 24, 2013
First of all, want to give a big shout out to Elder Reber the second who is preparing to enter the MTC come Wednesday. It is truly amazing to see the work go forward, especially from our little family. To think that over four years we were going to have 7 missionaries out is mind blowing. But to think that in just over a year we will have 7 out. No words can describe the feelings of pride as I share this with members and non members here in Mississippi. The dedication from the families, alone is enough to make me emotional. But this is not a time to get complacent. And this is not a time to dwell on what we did yesterday. This Gospel is all about progressing. Day by day and minute by minute. And how do we progress? By sharing the message of the Restoration with friends, family, and anyone who will ask us our reason for joy. My thoughts today are centered on the broadcast that occurred last night. I hope that you guys had the opportunity to go, it was an amazing night, and many thoughts were shared. The overall theme though was clear. Member Missionary Work. As a missionary, obviously I am biased when it comes to my opinion on what members should and shouldn't be doing. One thing that each of us must work on though, is to help the missionaries. Even you, in Utah must do more to help the missionaries. There are people all around us, who need the Gospel. One thing that I learned was taught by President Boyd K. speaking of Repentance. See as a teacher, you strive to make everything simple. To teach in the easiest way, and his brief teaching on Repentance hit me. To paraphrase he stated that Repentance is to go back to where you went off the straight path, figure out where you went wrong, fix it, and move forward with your life. Simply beautiful, his teaching of repentance, and I hope that we can all apply it in our lives. This week is going to be weird. Mine and Elder Anderson's last serving together as companions. While its definitely sad, its exciting to see the both of us close a chapter on our missions, and start a new one!
~Elder Maddox

Elder Anderson (left) & Elder Maddox (right) at a baptism in April.

Letter #48 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom,                                                                                                    June 17, 2013
So to get things started, first of all, Happy fathers day to, hands down the best father in the world. I got to thinking I have missed the last 3 due to being in the south, which is CRAZY to say the least! But I promise to be there next year, and hopefully we can spend it right! So this week was another crazy one. More than anything I was thinking about how my mission has just flown by. Next week will be month fourteen for me. Crazy to think that I have passed my year mark, let alone be a few months away from it. Another thing that has cause a lot of contemplation as of late is a conversation I had with the President on Saturday following Leadership Training. In the conversation he told me that the most likely thing happening to me come transfer day in a few weeks, would be for Elder Anderson to move and for me to train for again. That would mean that I would stay in Florence for at least another three months, which is not a bad thing at all. But the crazy thing would be that I would be in Florence till right around my 18 month mark, and then get transferred. So here is the crazy thing. My next area very well could be my last on the mission. Which is fine by me. If I continue to live my mission the way that I am now, I will go home with my head held high, knowing that I served the Lord to the best of my abilities. I will know that I worked tirelessly to bring souls unto Him. I am at peace daily when I go to bed, and let me tell you, there is no better feeling that I have experienced. To have the spirit confirm to you that The Lord is happy... Words can't describe. For those of you preparing to go, or are out and have a little time under your belt, don't slow up. Not for a day, not for an hour. This is a race, but it is not a marathon, it is a sprint. There is absolutely no reason to pace yourself.
             ~Elder Maddox

Letter #47 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom!                                                                                                      June 11, 2013
What an amazing week this past week has been. So many amazing experiences, and so many miracles happening, We even received a phone call from President McDonough this week asking us what our key to success has been for the past couple weeks. It has been a roller coaster ride to say the least! I don't have too much to write today, because I am still trying to wrap my mind about last week, but there is one thing that has really been on my mind lately. So almost two years ago to the day I was out knocking doors in Savanna Georgia selling alarms for Vivint. This, as you well know was one of the hardest times in my life. After leaving Georgia, I had no desire to return to the South. Ever. You would always hear me joke about the different things I would do if I received my mission call down here. So when the night came that I opened my call to come to the South, it took a lot of prayer to understand why I was called to be down here. But this last week, has given me so much in the way of confirmation that this is where I should be. That God, through living Prophets and Apostles has called me to be serving in Mississippi right now. What an amazing feeling to know that God cares that much.
          ~Elder Maddox

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Letter #46 (Byram, MS)

Hey mom!                                                                                                                       June 3, 2013
Another week that went faster than a blink is in the books, and what a week it was. To start off, Elder Anderson and I are absolutely untouchable right now. Nothing is slowing us down, nothing at all! In our mission we have whats called a Standard of Excellence, I think every mission does, or should. Our Standard, at least to this point of my mission, has been pretty hard to get, but for the last two weeks, Elder Anderson and I have done it. I can only think of two other times that I hit the Standard on my mission, and those two times were in my first area with Elder Spangler. So that should give you a pretty good idea just how good were doing. For whatever the Lord is blessing us with more success than we know what to do with. President even came to district meeting this week to find out what we have been doing that is working so I taught him! Dad, you remember when we talked on Mothers day, and you told me about how you used to invite people to be baptized right as you started to talk to them on the street? Well, Elder Anderson and I have been doing it since the Mothers Day, and when I say I have been doing it, I mean like A LOT! And the response from people has been amazing. People are suddenly willing to listen. Well I just found out that not only did president like it, but he also taught this way of finding to all of the Zone Leaders in the mission at Zone Leader Council this past Friday, so thank you for sharing with us dad! But other than just working hard, and teaching a lot, we continue to find success, and awesome people!
~Elder Maddox

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Letter #45 (Byram, MS)

Hey Momma!!                                                                                                                     May 28, 2013
So first of all, its been forever!! Since mother's day I believe! Crazy crazy busy would be the simplest way to say what the last few weeks have been. It all started with sister Gladys Knight coming to our mission the Thursday following mothers day! She rocked it! The entire night was focused on getting as many people as we could into the Stake Center in Clinton! Here is the play by play of the night. It all started with us heading up to Clinton, about twenty miles away, at around 4:30. We had a lot of non members and less actives coming, so Elder Anderson headed to stand with them in line, while I did what I do best! Talked to everyone who was standing in line. I talked for one hour non stop to just as many people as I could, teaching them about the referral cards in the program. It like to think that I helped out a lot! But because I was talking to people for so long, I missed the opening part of both shows! But it was totally worth it. Once I finally made it inside, the place was PACKED, you would have thought it was a Jazz-Lakers playoff game 7. Southerners love Gladys Knight after all. But like I said, slammed. People everywhere. Luckily one of the other missionaries saved me a seat, and I was able to watch the last half, and it was so amazing!! Now, the choir was not your average Mo-Tab. No not even close. Do your best to imagine what you think a big baptist choir, and that will get you close! It was absolutely amazing, but the music was not the best part. The best part, were the testimonies of Ms. Gladys and her Husband, William. Now, as many of you know, many people down here are not the biggest fans of us Mormon Missionaries, but that did not stop these two from being blunt and bold. They described the church, and taught possibly the best Restoration lesson that I have ever heard, and they held nothing back! They told everyone in that room, in both sessions, that our church is the only true church because of the Authority that our church possesses. Then came one of the coolest moments of my missionary life. While Ms. Gladys was sharing her testimony she talked about how her conversion came about. How the missionaries had found her through her children, who had become members just a year before. She then proceeded to brag on missionaries world wide. How we are such upstanding young men, and messengers of Christ. Many people were giving her amen's and head nod's. She then said " You know what, I bet there are some missionaries in here right now. Why don't we have them stand up!" So we all looked at each other and stood up, and wouldn't you know it, we got a standing O from all the people in the room, both non member, and member alike! Imagine my surprise, to see people, many who had slammed doors in my face, standing up and applauding us missionaries. Talk about weird! Haha but it was absolutely amazing. Well, the music continued, and the testimonies were shared, and many people, who before May 16th had no desire to hear about the gospel, or talk to missionaries, suddenly had a strong desire to hear the Restoration! All in all we had a grand total of 10 referrals come our way to Byrum/ Florence, and many people who we have contacted are now taking the lessons! Thanks Ms. Gladys! It was great, and they have super charged our mission! We continue to to work hard, and play hard. Lots of ball in the hood, and we win most of the time. Loving life
            ~Elder Maddox

Monday, May 6, 2013

Letter #44 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom!

So I have so much to say, but just so little time to say it, and I hope I can get it all in!! But to start of the email, let me get one thing across...THIS WAS THE BEST WEEK OF MY MISSION. Non stop awesomeness! This was a week that held some of the most amazing spiritual experiences of my mission. So it all started out with lots of rain!! For those of you who are cool enough to keep up with the weather here, you probably noticed the ENTIRE week full of rain. It didn't slow Elder Anderson and me down. It was actually alright because we needed time to set up our baptisms that we had on Saturday! So we spent all week calling people, setting up talks, making sure bishop would be there, doing all of the prep work necessary for the baptism to go off with out a hick up, and wouldn't you know it, the Lord blessed us with finding people to help us, without any issue. So then comes the day of the baptism, Saturday, and the family getting baptized shows up with like 20 nonmembers! For those of you not too familiar with "The South", it is a very rare moment, to find more than 3 nonmembers in any dedicated building! And through the amazing baptism we received three referrals from people who came, and want to learn more about what they were feeling! Ahhh! I love when people feel the true workings of the Spirit, and act on it! But this was just the start too the amazing weekend. So earlier in the week, we had a family from the Ward call us, and invite us to a Mississippi Braves game (they are the minor league team for the Atlanta Braves). So with permission from the President, of coarse, we attended the game shortly after the Baptisms Saturday evening. The game was great, my new favorite minor league team, the Braves, won, and fun was had by all. But another miracle took place as we were leaving the stadium. As we were walking out, I looked over to my right, and saw some of the young men from our church at the game. I called out to them and with a look of relief, they came running over to us. Todd, 16, and Caleb, 14, told us how they were about to walk home, nearly 10 miles to their house, because they couldn't get a ride home. So of coarse, the member took us all home. But what was amazing was the ride home. I had no idea, but these boys are semi-active at best. They come maybe once a month, and both had been interviewed to move advance in the Priesthood, Todd to a Priest, and Caleb to Teacher. Well, on the way home, I hit it off with both of them. We instantly became friends, and upon them getting out of the truck, told them that Roy, the member that took us to the game, would be there to pick them up for church the following morning. And he did. The next Sunday they both came to Church, sat by me, and had a great Sabbath day. Then, during Elder Quorum I got a tap on my shoulder. I turned around, and saw Brother Grindstaff, the Young Men's President. He then whispered in my ear that Todd was about to be ordained to a Priest, and that he had requested that I be the one to ordain him. Tears came to my eyes, as I walked down the hall to the Bishop's office, placed my hands on his head and ordained him to be a Priest in the Aaronic Priesthood. He then stood up, and with tears in his eyes, gave me a hug. It was arguably the strongest that I have felt the Spirit. But the Lord was not done with the miracles just yet. Now Caleb, Todd's young friend, needed to be advanced to the office of a Teacher. Tears once again came to my eyes, as Caleb looked at his best friend, and asked him to be the one to ordain him. It was amazing to watch these two friends now bonded by something more powerful than friendship leave the church that day, with a renewed desire to come to church and to fulfill their Priesthood obligations. I love this Church, and all that it stands for. This work I am doing, along side so many family members and friends, is about so much more than just baptisms. I love every second of it, and wouldn't trade it for nothin'!!
     ~Elder Maddox

Elder Maddox and Elder Anderson

Monday, April 22, 2013

Letter #42 (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom!
So first of all, congrats to my cousin Spencer, and brother Travis on receiving their mission calls! Both the D.R. and Argentina are so lucky to be getting you guys! And your going out within a day of each other! So cool! I can't believe that all of us have received our calls! Its crazy to think that within 6 months we will all be out! And these mission calls just added to the festivities of the week! We also had two baptisms on Monday, which went so amazing, and Sunday, their confirmations took place, which was just as equally amazing. And what is even more amazing is that we found two people who agreed to be baptized on the forth of May, and they are SO AWESOME. So things are really starting to roll here in Byram, Mississippi. Many people are coming out of the wood works. From investigators to less actives, to members catching fire. Part of the reason for this is Sister Gladys Knight. Yep, thee Gladys Knight. She, along with her Grammy winning choir is coming to Clinton Mississippi, which is about twenty miles up the road from here. Her, and her choir, will be putting on two firesides on May 16. They are completely free, and the whole focus of the fireside is to get non members and less actives into a dedicated building, and to feel the spirit that comes from being inside. And from what I have heard, Sister Knight is not shy when it comes to sharing the Gospel. She is very forward and very open about her conversion, and the Book of Mormon is mentioned more than just once in an evening. On thursday of last week, we as a zone went up to Clinton and met with Brother Johnson, who is on the board of directors for "Gladys Knight and the Saints Unified Voices." There he shared with us the expectations of the missionaries, as well as what we could expect from this event. He promised us that if we did our best in having non members come, we would see a change in our mission, and we would revitalize our wards. He shared an experience that happened when this fireside took place in the San Jose California mission. They had 900 referrals in just one day. We are hoping to have the same effect. It is anticipated that 1200 people will come to 1 fireside, and we have two of them. It is also expected that of the 2400 people who come, half will be investigators. It is then our job as missionaries to talk to them, and teach them the Gospel! But members are starting to invite friends and family members, and the missionary spirit is alive! Its a great time to be a missionary. I am so thankful for the amazing year of transformation that has just taken place, and I look forward to the coming year with just as much excitement.
~Elder Maddox

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Letter #41, (Byram, MS)

Hey Mom,
Another amazing week in the books, filled with amazing times, and many memorable experiences. One of those experiences happened on Wednesday, my first full day in the new area. Here in Florence, there are two people, a mother and a daughter who are preparing for baptism, and I had the opprotunity to interview them to make sure that they were ready. I first talked to the daughter who is 9 years old, and she was the sweetest little girl ever, who has such a love of the Savior, and can already notice how his Atonement has affected her life, and needless to say she passed. I then had the chance to sit down and talk to her mom. I went through the normal questions asked prior to baptism. I then asked her to share with me her testimony of the Gospel, and how she had seen it effect her. What she said brought tears to my eyes. She said "her husband had always been less active, ever since they were married, and she never chose to ask him about his beliefs, and religon was rarely brought up. But then times started to get difficult. They noticed that something was missing in their family, and couldn't figure out what it was. Then the missionaries came knocking on our door. They were trying to find my husband, so I invited them in. They then taught us about the Book of Mormon, and how the Gospel blesses families. They taught the message that I needed to hear! It was as if God had heard my prayers, and sent his servants too us to help our family." It was the most amazing story I have heard so far on my mission, and helped me to once again refocus on exactly why are here! I love how she testified of the ability of the Book of Mormon to strengthen families, and to change lives. I have seen it time and time again on my mission. For anyone who wants to change their lives, member of The Church, or not, read the Book of Mormon, and you will see miracles happen! Needless to say, both passed the requirements for baptism, and their baptismal service is set for later this evening, and they could not be more excited. Ahh! So amazing. We have a few other people who we are working with, and that should progress over the next couple of weeks! We also found a whole bunch of new subdivisions that have never been knocked so we are looking forward to a fun filled week of knocking doors!
Y'all be good
~Elder Maddox

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Letter #40, (Byram, MS)

Well, he did it! He has served is all 4 states in the Mississippi, Jackson Mission! It is a large mission and covers parts of Mississippi, Texas, Louisiana and Arkansas. Elder Maddox was transferred to Mississippi this week which means in less that one year he has served and lived in all 4 states! That is pretty amazing. He is having a great mission experience. He has met so many wonderful people that have touch his life in amazing ways. It is so fun to read his weekly letters and to hear how serving has changed his life. It makes our missing him just a little bit easier.

Hey Momma!
So so so sorry for my lack of letters for the past few weeks. These last few weeks have been nothing but totall chaos, but in a good way. A lot has happened in the last two weeks, all ending with me in a new area. After two of the BEST transfers of my mission, president called to tell me Friday morning and told me that I was finally heading to Mississippi, to the area of Florance. While the area is called Florance, we live in a suburb of Jackson called Byrum. We actually have part of South Jackson in our area, so I will let you know why Johnny Cash wanted to get here so bad! But its getting hot. Its 85 right now, plus the famous southern humidity cranked up right now. But Byrum is great so far. We, my new companion Elder Anderson from Bountiful Utah, we were able to sit down with Bishop Young and his family last night once we got here, and he is a very energetic bishop, and I look forward to serving with him to help the Floracne ward grow! Another amazing thing that is happening to me that has not yet happened is I am walking into a few baptisms. On Monday, ya its a random day but it works, we have the Baptism of A family here. This family already has grand plans for a trip to Baton Rouge next year to go to the temple and be sealed for time and eternity as a family! Ahhh! I can't wait for the upcoming months, there is so much potential here, I got a great companion, and the Stone is going to roll! Speaking of a rolling stone, did anyone notice how AMAZING conference was! I loved each and every second of it, from Saturday Morning to the final farewell of President Monson, it was all so amazing. There were two or three reoccurring thoughts that seemed to be on the minds of the individuals who spoke. The first was preparation for what is to come. We know from the scriptures that the time prior to the Second coming of our Savior will be havoc to say the least. But with proper preparation, such as food storage, and emergency know how, we will be okay, as long as we have a firm foundation in Christ. What I love is that many of the speakers followed up talks of doomsday-second coming chaos, with the word peace. What an amazing thought, that if we do what God's modern Prophets and apostles council us too do, these days that many look at in a fearful way can be peaceful to us who are prepaired! Loved the talk from Elder Uchtdorf entitled "the Hope of God's Light." I don't want to take parts of it and post them here, but anyone who is stuggling, come listen to a phrophets voice, and you will find comfort! The other major idea that was talked about, was member missionary work! Now I am proably a bit biased because of my calling right now, but the apostles were very quick, and very bold in extending invitations to all to do missionary work, and help all of the growing missionary force. If you do blessings will come! Sorry momma, I know you wanted a bunch of stories, but with the transfer happening it was hard to do, give me a week!! Talk to you next week, love y'all!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, March 25, 2013

Letter 39, (Ruston, LA)

Hey everyone!
What an amazingly exhausting week to say the least. Monday and Tuesday were great days for being a missionary. Very normal, knocking doors and teaching lessons, and what not! Found some people to teach, and it was great. Then Wednesday we loaded up in the car and drove for a half hour to Monroe for Zone Conference. And what an AMAZING conference it was! The whole conference was taught by president and the assistants, and the main idea of the conference was "spiritual grit." Spiritual Grit was defined by president as "our, the missionaries, ability to move on and get over it." I loved to see this attitude from president, teaching us to "just get over it!" And man I needed to hear that message. Its not that I have been depressed or nothin, but I have been struggling a bit. It was a great conference to say the least! The week finished out pretty normal, just blessings like crazy! Wish I had time to share all but I don't! Congrats to Elder Wade and Larsen on leaving so soon! Love you guys, see you soon!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, March 18, 2013

Letter #38 (Ruston, LA)

What up everyone!
So I think that the only words that could describe the events of this week would be "Oh My Gosh." Which is surprising because I was sick all week!! But on Thursday we had a dinner appointment with the sisters just down the road from Karl "the Mailman" Malone. Now from day one here in Ruston people have been telling us to just go over there and try to knock on his door and he would let us in. Now, I was pretty sure that he, Karl, was a super nice guy, but people, THIS IS KARL MALONE. Like one of my child hood heros. Like half of "Stockton-to-Malone." I am not going to just go over and knock on his door. I mean buzz him at his gate, his house is fenced in! But a couple of weeks ago we met this super nice lady at Karl's restaurant who turned out to be his wife who gave us the O.K., so we went for it. And wouldn't you know it, we got in!! And not only did we get in, but we sat in Karl Malones living room and talked about almost everything. For an hour and a half! By the time that we left I felt like I had a close friend in Karl Malone. His and his wife's personalities are such that we, the missionaries, all felt like if we ever needed anything, we could go to the Malone house! Real cool. And that, arguably, wasn't the highlight of our week! So because I was a bit under the weather, Elder Rose and I couldn't go out too much. But miraculasly, three of our investigators showed up at church! It was a tender mercy from the Lord to say the least. But because of my sickness, I was able to read the Book Of Mormon a lot! And it was so amazing to take that time and read through so much of it. It was an additional testimony strengthener for me, and helped to reemphasized to me that what I am doing is the Lords work! Gosh I love my mission!
~Elder Maddox

Friday, March 15, 2013

A New Picture!

       I love when I am just going about my day and I receive a text or an email from someone I don't know, sending me a note or picture of my son!  It is so awesome to hear how Steven has touched some one's life. I think he is an incredible person but it sure is amazing to hear it from others.  I am grateful for the experiences he is having and for the great people he has been able to meet.  Each one has touched his life in countless ways.  I am thankful to each person who has taken the time to show such kindness to my son.  Last night, as I going to do another load of laundry, I received a text with a new picture of Elder Maddox he looks so happy and that made me happy too!  

Monday, March 11, 2013

Letter #37 (Ruston, LA)

Whats up everybody!
Another incredible week that was filled with miracle after miracle! While, yes mom, I have taken the time to write them down in my journal, if I was to take the time here to type them all out then we would be here for A LONG TIME! But I will talk to something that was taught to me this week that took me up till now to learn.
So something that I have struggled with my whole mission is inviting people to be baptized on the first visit with faith. I don't know if it was fear or just didn't think about it, but very rarely did I ever do it. But this week I decided to try to invite EVERY TIME. Now this was something that Elder Larsen, who is one of my very good friends out here, is very good at and has been encouraging me to become better at it, and this week I took his advice. And what a change it has had on myself. See I think what my problem was, is that I was always waiting around for the Spirit to say "Invite them." This should never have been the case. Because the Spirit should never have to say it because the Apostles have already said it! But because of this new found idea, thats not novel or anything, the area assigned to Elder Rose and I is thriving. It has renewed our energy and we are destroying right now! great feeling!
~Elder Maddox

Monday, March 4, 2013

Letter #36 (Ruston,LA)

Hey everyone!
Another crazy fast week, and another fast one. This week transfers came and went, and wouldn't you know it! I am staying! Glad to still be here in Ruston where the field is white already to harvest! But back to the awesome week! I had a very cool experience that I wish to share
So on Wednesday we were at Rasing Cane's, a place that sells the most delicious chicken fingers ever, with a bunch of missionaries when a man approached Elder Rose, my greenie. He started off just small talking with him but then he started to go all Anti-Mormon on him. Now Elder Rose has been out for a good amount of time, but he is still fresh, so when he looked at me with eyes the size of McDonald's sausage patties, I took pity on him, and went to go see if I couldn't help address some of the "concerns" this gentlemen was bombarding Elder Rose with. As soon as I went over and introduced myself, he quickly turned all of his attention to me thinking me to be the "leader" as he put it. As Elder Rose quietly stepped into the background, John, not his real name, started to go off on his "save all mormon's from their selves" monologue. Now usually I am pretty good about holding my tongue and just letting these anti-mormoners get all their anger out on me, and that was the case this time but with a little twist. See John went on for a good twenty minutes with no sign of stopping. So quickly and quietly I prayed and said "God, give me something to confound this man. You promised me in the scriptures it would happen, and I need some help right about now." All the sudden the most amazing question popped into my mind. I interrupted him in the middle of one of his tangents, and asked "John, have you even read the Book of Mormon?" Suddenly, he lost all steam. He looked at me speechless. He had no answer for me. He remained silent for about ten seconds, and I allowed the Spirit to work on him. After those ten seconds passed, I looked at him and bore my witness that the Book of Mormon was true, gave him a copy, and told him that after he had read it, if he still wished to argue with me that it wasn't true, then my number was on the inside cover, and we could do this all over again. He was furious. He realized that he had no answer for me, for what I shared was true. He stormed out of the restaurant calling me all kinds of names and telling me that the next life wasn't lookin too good for me. All the other missionaries, who were sitting down couldn't stop laughing at the experience. All they saw was him going off on me, then saw him get real quiet, then pick up his stuff and storm out! They loved it. And so did I. It proved too me that God will give us what we need, right as we need it as long as we live worthy of these promises!
In the words of one of the best missionaries I know "keep it holy"!!
~Elder Maddox!

Monday, February 25, 2013

Letter #35 (Rulston, LA)

Whats up everyone!
Well greetings from nothing but rain Ruston, Louisiana! And what a crazy week it has been. It feels like I start many of my weekly letters like that, but they all seem to go faster, and get crazier as the months progress. Crazy factoid of the day, I hit 10 months today. Doesn't seem real! But hey, when your having fun time flies or something like that!
So since being here in Ruston, a lot has happened. With the opening of an area, things usually take a minute or two to get going, but this area is prepared for success before I even got here. That was made apparent to me when we got here. One of the first things that we did when we first got here, was try to contact some of the people who the sisters had been working with, but were now people on our half of Ruston. One of the people who they were teaching was Isaiah. Isaiah is the son of lady who was baptized exactly three years ago on Valentines day. So when we got to Ruston about three weeks before the fourteenth of February, Isaiah as well as his mother were hoping that he, Isaiah, could be baptized on the three year anniversary of his mothers baptism. We were happy to work with them, and on February 14th he was baptized. It was so amazing to spend Valentines day the BEST way that I know how! And what made it even more amazing was that Isaiah asked Elder Rose to baptize him. It was so amazing to see how excited Elder Rose was when Isaiah asked him. So it was a highlight for both of us. And before I forget, congrats to Future Elder Caleb Reber, and his call to serve in California! Congrats! I am sure that you will love it just as your cousins now serving, love their respective areas. As for me and Elder Rose, we keep working hard, and continue to do all that we can to bring more people to the restored gospel. It is a pleasure to serve each and every day!
~Elder Maddox

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A Picture!

I received this picture today from Steven's mission President's wife, Sis. McDonough. I love it!
It made my day!       ~Lisa

Elder Maddox and Elder Rose

Monday, February 4, 2013

Letter #35 (Ruston, LA)

What up World,
First off, sorry for my lack of letter last week, we were on an adventure to Shreveport with the senior couple, The States. They were dying to make a Golden Corral run and they were so kind as to invite Elder Rose and myself with them. And once we got back it was about 3 and we had appointments for the rest of the day. It was a lot of fun, but at the same time, one of the stranger moments of my life to date. See, Shreveport is where I was trained. Almost 10 months ago. And so to go back to Shreveport and have the thought running through my head, plus to be with a companion that I am training...crazy. It was almost as if it had all come full circle. It felt like maybe two days passed since I left, when in actuality it was nearly six months. People often say live each day as if it's your last, and out here on the mission that cliche has taken a new effect. Because rather than my time being cut short due to an injury and what not, my time will be cut short because the time goes by way too fast. So word to those of you getting close to going, keep in mind that looking forward will seem like forever, but the day to day goes by way too fast. As for the area of Ruston, Elder Rose and I have spent almost all of our time knocking on doors, and working with less actives. We are still getting going as far as investigators and working with the ward. The sisters who we split the city with had one investigator named Isiah who we took over the teaching for. He has a baptismal date for the 14th of February, which is exactly three years to the day that his mom was baptized. Very cool family that we are very blessed to work with. As for back home I heard that my little brother Travis started working on his papers yesterday. Absolutely amazing. The work is truly hastening and those who get to be apart of it will be talked about for eternity to come.
~Elder Maddox

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Letter #34 (Ruston, LA)

Whats up world??
Alright so a change of scenery has taken place! I left Arkansas and got put back into Louisiana to open up Ruston to Elders. For those of you who are Jazz fans, you will find this cool. Ruston is home to none other than Karl "the mail man" Malone, and rumor has it that he enjoys having the missionaries over for the occasional dinner, so I will make sure to get some pictures during that dinner appointment. In addition to opening up Ruston, President McDounough has given me the opportunity to train again. Elder Rose is an 18 year old missionary from Richfield Utah, and is very excited to get going. Although I always enjoy going to new area's and meeting new people, leaving Ashdown was a bit difficult for me. So many memories, so many friendships took place in my three months up there, and truly, I was expecting a bit more time, maybe another transfer or two. Leaving was difficult, I found myself questioning if I had done all that I could, if I couldn't had worked just a little bit harder. I guess you start to get a bit sentimental when life changes huh? But the most amazing thing happened as Elder Jasperson and I were leaving. I felt the Spirit like crazy, testifying to me that it was indeed my time to go, and more than that, that I had done what I was supposed to accomplish there. What an amazing feeling to know I had fulfilled my mission, at least a few months of it, and to know Christ was pleased with my progress. What a blessing that was. I am really looking forward to these next couple of months with Elder Rose here in Ruston, and hope that when the time comes, that same Spirit will say "well done thy good and faithful servant."
          ~Elder Maddox

Monday, January 7, 2013

Letter #33 (Ashdown, AR)

So first of all I apologize for missing last week's letter, but it was New Years Eve, and our day was booked!! We only had about 20 minutes to use the computer at a members because our little library was closed. So I will make up for two weeks I guess. I guess I need to start at Christmas cause that was the last anyone heard of me. Well after talking to the family for a while, I got a little emotional, and a little homesick. Which is to be expected I guess. It was weird to see everyone living their life, and to see that everyone was still the same, but just a little older. Travis was still goofy, the girls cute as ever, and even though Big Al was as tall as momma, he was still little big Al. But like I was saying, emotions were right on the surface. And then something amazing happened. A tender mercy to say the least. I walked outside and there was about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Now here in Arkansas, that doesn't happen. Maybe an inch or two that will stick till the morning. Not a Utah storm. When I saw the snow, it was almost as if God was giving me a little bit of home. Something to make me realize that while home feels far away, I wasn't alone. It was amazing to be able to have a snowball fight, and to have something to take my mind off of missing the family.
The second thing that I wanted to talk about is the outpouring of love and support from both family members and friends. It seemed that everyday we had multiple letters and multiple packages. The mail lady was pretty amazed just how much we received. It amazed us as well. I will do my best at responding to letters, but as my family can attest too, I am not the best and writing back. But thats a perfect resolution, so letter may be flying! Once again I love you, I pray for you, and I hope this new year is one of learning, and one of happiness. The way I see it, the world didn't end in December, so every day from here on in is a gift!
Elder Maddox