Monday, December 26, 2016

Christmas - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Talking to the Family Christmas Day

Talking to the Family Christmas Day
Two weeks ago, we had the opportunity to go with our bishop and meet a family in our ward. They have lived here for five years, but never had any contact from the members. The mother was a member as a child, but has not been to church in over 20 years. They were so very surprised to have seen missionaries and the bishop at their tiny house located over a mile off into the woods on a dirt road. They didn't really know what to say, but bishop promised we would be back and we loved them.

Yesterday we did return. Only this time, we brought a choir of missionaries and several families from the ward. We brought a large Christmas dinner and a gift card and sang them some Christmas songs.
This was all very wonderful and we loved singing for them. However the miracle afterwards was amazing. They cast the gift card and the food off to the side like it was meaningless and came out asking if they could each get a priesthood blessing. They said they had never felt anything like that love before in their life. It was such a privilege to stand there in that circle and bless them. In that tiny field in the woods, all of us were put to silence by the overwhelming presence of the spirit and of God's love. That simple act of service and love changed the hearts of that family and it changed my heart.

As I reflect on the experience I am reminded of another humble and dark field beneath the stars long ago. As meek and lowly shepherds watched their sheep, angels appeared to them to announce the birth of our savior in a stable. It is truly wonderful that god does not care who we are or where we are from or what we have. All of us our his children and angels are all around each day. Being in the service of Jesus Christ, it is so easy and so wonderful to feel this love for each of them. I am grateful for my savior and I am grateful to serve him and his people. Merry Christmas everyone. I love you

Elder Basham

We built a barn! It isn't quite ready for a hoedown yet,
but now I can say I helped in a barn raising :)

We went with some members to a candlelight service at the
Presbyterian church on Christmas Eve. It was a cool experience.
I love the beautiful architecture of all these old churches built in the 1800s.
The wood ceiling was amazing and they have a real pipe organ. 

This is Gus Gus, the best cat ever.
He will just sit there in the bowl all day and let you carry him.
And I got to pet him and play with him
and he wouldn't even run away or fuss.
Afterwards I was super dying of allergies,
but it was completely worth it. Cats are the best! 
Not sure if you got my email last week. Hope things are going well. I was wondering if you could write me a little something about your feelings about being a missionary during the Christmas season.

Thanks Bishop Hawk

Hey bishop

Yes I got your email last week. Sorry I have not responded yet. For some reason, whenever anyone asks me to write a specific story or write on a subject, everything I have ever known or thought about that thing completely disappears from my mind. I don't get it, but honestly writing letters home is probably more difficult than going trackting in Spanish while the wind is blowing at 20 degrees.

About three weeks ago, we had a lesson with a man named Adam. It was a pretty normal restoration lesson without anything too significant. We listened to him explain his desire to come closer to Christ and to change his life. We shared the glorious message that God loves him and has reached out to him and the whole earth once again. We gave him the Book of Mormon for a means to grow closer to Christ and to learn of the truth of our message. All these things were wonderful, but what makes his lesson stand out so clearly in my mind is the words I spoke at the end of the lesson. I explained that he would learn how to repent and follow in the footsteps of Christ. He would find great joy in that path and soon desire to make covenants with Him. Then, in words I have spoken many times I asked, "Adam, will you follow the example of Jesus Christ and be baptized by one holding the restored
priesthood authority from god?" At his affirmation I continued, "we will be holding a baptismal service on Saturday December 24th, Christmas Eve -- the day before the birth of our savior Jesus Christ." This last phrase was something new, and I felt something stir within me. I could barely speak these words as the spirit filled my heart. It was confirmed to me in that instant just how special Christmas really is and how wonderful of a calling I have. I thought about how baptism is a symbol of rebirth as a follower of Christ. We take his name upon us as we enter into His eternal family. How fitting do do this on the anniversary of the night that Jesus Christ was born on earth and entered our world to be among our family and to be our friend. I further reflect that, if Adam had been baptized on the 24th, he would have received the gift of the Holy Ghost for Christmas in sacrament meeting the next day. Even though that is not the end of Adam's story, I am grateful to know that many wonderful people in this mission and around the world are making covenants to follow their savior and receiving the wonderful gift of the Holy Ghost this Christmas Day. I love my savior Jesus Christ and I am grateful to be his missionary. I know that His work is true. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

Monday, December 19, 2016

El regalo de lenguas - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello my wonderful friends and family!

This has been a fantastic week! Elder Senatore is really funny and we
have had a great time together. I have been learning Spanish for the
past six days and am absolutely astonished at how well it is going.
After two years of Spanish class in high school, I knew pretty much no
Spanish whatsoever. All I could manage to say was "¿tiene galletas?" I
suppose it is because I had actually no desire to learn Spanish. I was
just here because they told me I needed a language credit to apply for
college. So I would learn the vocabulary words long enough to take the
test and then forget everything. I feel bad for my teachers.

However, now that I actually have something I want to say and a real
desire to learn, it is amazing how much is coming. Heavenly Father
promises that if we really love His children and desire to help them,
he will give us all we need to do it. This last week has been the
busiest of my mission. We went trackting for several hours every day
with no set appointments. Normally this is a drag, but every single
street we knocked on we were let into three or more houses -- all
Spanish speaking. As I met each of these wonderful people and listened
to them, my desire for and understanding of the Spanish language grew
and grew. I now am able to introduce ourselves at the doorsteps, to
teach about Heavenly Father's love for us and our families, and to
teach about the Book of Mormon. My companion has been so helpful and I
have found a lot of strength from Heavenly Father.

He promised Enoch that no matter how weak or speechless he felt, if he
had the faith to open his mouth, God would fill it. Enoch's teaching
literally moved mountains! While I haven't done that yet, I know that a
large measure of my learning has come because I had the faith to open
my mouth even when I was scared.

Yo quiero a escribir mi testigo en español. Creo que dios es mi Padre
Celestial. Èl me ama y ama todos ustedes. Dios ha dado Su hijo,
Jesucristo para nuestro salvador. El Evangelio de Jesucristo es el
solo camino a Dios. Mediante el evangelio restaurado, mi familia ha
bendecido. Yo sé que el libro de Mormón es verdadero y José Smith es
una profeta de dios. El libro de Mormón bendice mi vida todas las días
que lo leo. Amo a Jesucristo. Este es Su Iglesia y Yo soy Su
misionero. En el nombre de Jesucristo. Amen.

Monday, December 12, 2016

Chapter 7 - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello wonderful people!

Guess what! This week is transfer week. Another six weeks have come
and gone already. Time is so weird. The most exciting news is this: I
will be paired here in Lewisburg with Elder Senatore. Elder Senatore
is from Venezuela 🇻🇪 and speaks Spanish. This means we will finally
be able to teach all of the Spanish speaking investigators here in
town instead of waiting for the Spanish missionaries to drive an hour
out here once a week.

I can't wait to be able to teach so many more people. Every time we
have visited with Spanish speaking people I feel like Alma who said "O
that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I
might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake
the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!" I wanted to be able
to share the gospel with them and felt words coming to my remembrance
to talk to them but it wasn't enough. I don't have the vocabulary to
convey the beautiful principles of the gospel. I am grateful that God
has granted unto me according to my desires. "For behold, the Lord
doth grant unto all nations, of their own nation and tongue, to teach
his word, yea, in wisdom, all that he seeth fit that they should have;
therefore we see that the Lord doth counsel in wisdom, according to
that which is just and true. I know that which the Lord hath commanded
me, and I glory in it. I do not glory of myself, but I glory in that
which the Lord hath commanded me; yea, and this is my glory, that
perhaps I may be an instrument in the hands of God to bring some soul
to repentance; and this is my joy." I am so grateful for this
opportunity and hope that Elder Senatore and I can help the people of
Lewisburg. We already have one Spanish speaking investigator with a
baptismal date and there are several other great repentant people we
can see now!

Alma 29 has always been one of my favorite chapters and it has just
taken on a whole new meaning for me. I had such a wonderful experience
in sacrament meeting yesterday as I pondered over it. I was filled
with an outpouring of love from the spirit as I recognized his tender
mercies. He truly does love all people and will help me to be an
instrument in his hands to blessing so many more of his children. I
know this gospel is true and I am grateful to be a part of his great
work. I love him and I love all of you. I hope you have a wonderful

Elder Basham
 Here is a picture of Elder Watt and I on exchanges. Hermana Hill
made us all ties and we had fun being twins all day.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Winter Wonderland / Old McDonald Had a Farm - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello Everyone!

So yesterday we did not have a P-Day because we were helping to set up for the nativity festival the McMinnville Stake does each year. It is so pretty. When it is done there will be hundreds of nativity scenes and paintings from all around the world. We helped for ten hours yesterday and it is still not nearly set up.

I thought decorating one Christmas tree was a lot of work...... oh my. I don't know if I can

ever fluff branches again. It reminded me a lot of the holiday choir concert where Sydney and I were assigned to decorate the tallest tree.  I couldn't reach the top with a ladder. Fortunately these were much smaller, though far more numerous. We had an absolute blast all day and it was definitely worth it. We have the best district ever.


We did some great service for brother McDonald this last week. He has 200 acres of awesome stuff. We picked our own turnips to eat and then saw this fantastic arch.

Monday, November 28, 2016

The Second great commandment - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello everyone,

I really love you all and want to take time to say thank you for each of your help. I know this letter goes out to a lot of people, but I do know and love all of you and I mean it when I say to you, individually, that I would not be here without you and the help you have given me. Thank you for every bit of friendship and compassion.

Yesterday, our bishop told us the story of his childhood friend. This friend had a hard life, but our bishop was always there to help him. He struggled to fit in in school, moved many times, and was bullied a lot, but bishop Ostrander was there to comfort him and tell him that he was a son of God and he was loved. Eventually that friend fell way from the gospel. He told himself that the others there would hate him and judge him for his mistakes and he could never be accepted back, but bishop Ostrander was there and told him that it wasn't true. It didn't matter what the others thought, he needed to go to church to be healed for himself. After years of trial and many many difficulties, that friend was able to finally make it back to the church. With the help of bishop he was able to change his life. He has a wife and children now to whom he is sealed to for all eternity. He is free from the pain and mistakes of the past. Last year he was called to be a bishop. He said he never could have made it without bishop Ostrander and was so very grateful that he had been there his whole life to help him.

Then bishop paused for a bit and choked up. He told us that that friend was actually himself. He needed his own love and help to make it back. He needed to be grateful to himself for making the right decisions and working hard enough to get where he is now. All of us need to be grateful to ourselves for the good decisions we make. I am grateful that I had the faith and the love to turn my life around and prepare to come on a mission. I am grateful that I have had the strength to stay out here and keep serving even though it gets tough. As I ponder on this I am reminded of the story from the Savior's life found in Mark 12

28 ¶And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?
29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord:
30 And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment.
31 And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.

The second great commandment it to love thy neighbor AS THYSELF. So many times I think we forget this part. I challenge each of you to take time this week to thank yourself and love yourself for all the good things you have done for yourself and others. Not in any selfish or vain way, but with charity, which is the pure love of Christ which endureth forever. Learn to think about yourself the same way that your savior Jesus Christ thinks about you. Learn to love yourself the same way Heavenly Father loves you end expects you to care for others. I can promise you will feel the spirit and find within yourself a greater desire and strength to improve and become more like Christ.

I love you all and hope you have a great week. Thank you again for all that you do!

Elder Basham 

Monday, November 21, 2016

The Mountain of the Lord - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

This week was the McMinnville Stake conference in Altamont, Tennesee. It was a long drive but it was definitely worth it. All the people from the area call Altamont "the mountain." It's really more like a large hill, but it's the closest thing they have to a mountain around here. Either way it was quite fun driving up there. For the first time in a very long time I got to drive up through a valley on a winding road and then look down from the top to see the farms stretched out below us. There were so many trees up there. I know there are already a lot of trees in Tennessee, but up there it was crazy, and they were all turning bright fiery red. The colors were absolutely beautiful to see the patchwork of green, yellow, red, and orange stretched across the hillside as we approached.

Stake conference was amazing. I could feel how much the leaders here really love the people they serve. President Crawford is really a remarkable person. Although his talk sounded much more like a sermon from a preacher. You can tell he has lived in the south a long time.

In Altamont they have the two oldest LDS churches in the south. We got a chance to visit one of them after conference. 

The church has been established up there for years and families have stayed faithful for generations. It is so cool to see that the legacy of the pioneers is not forgotten. The foundation they laid has made the missionary work thrive. In the last three years, the McMinnville stake has been split twice. There really is a special spirit in this part of the country and these wonderful, faithful people are such a pleasure to be around. I am very grateful to be serving here and I am grateful for the great work of our forefathers who started this mission long ago. I am grateful for this gospel which Heavenly Father has restored to us. I am grateful for my savior, Jesus Christ. I love him, and I you all, and I love the south.

Have a wonderful week!
Elder Basham

Monday, November 14, 2016

Do you hear the people sing? - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Yes that is right. Here is the best zone picture you will ever see. Don't even try to argue. We had a zone meeting and afterwards it was time for pictures. However everyone complained that we have far too many photos of missionaries sitting in chairs and we should do something fun. I decided we should build a barricade and wave the flag around. Surprisingly, everyone agreed and we built a barricade. Yes there was much singing and everyone had les miserables in their head the rest of the day. Sister Degraffenried was in the play and spent all of lunch humming to herself doing the choreography. It was fantastic.

Monday, November 7, 2016

Missions are Forever - Lewisburg, Tennessee


This week we had an amazing opportunity to teach the Plan of Salvation to an investigator. I have taught this lesson many times throughout my mission, but never before had I had such an experience. Almost every single principle we taught brought the spirit in overwhelming power. He testified of the truth with so much strength all of us were reduced to tears throughout the whole lesson. There were many times when Lisa taught us part of the lesson even before we told her. The veil was thin and she could begin to remember those truths she had been taught before he foundation of the world. As she learned the true worth and potential of her soul, it had a greater impact on her desire to change than anything else we have or will say. Without having taught her the word of wisdom, she decided she wants to quit smoking so she can take care of the gift God has given her.

As we spoke of the spirit world and temples, Lisa saw so clearly the great responsibility she has to not only accept this gospel for herself, but also to bring it to all of her family who are waiting for the opportunity. How amazing that she isn't even baptized yet and already has a desire to do her family history work and bring the blessings of this gospel to those she loves. We testified of the missionary work that goes on there and I know for certain the truth that "the faithful elders of this dispensation, when they depart from mortal life, continue their labors in the preaching of the gospel of repentance and redemption, through the sacrifice of the Only Begotten Son of God, among those who are in darkness and under the bondage of sin in the great world of the spirits of the dead." I am so grateful for all my faithful ancestors who continue to serve missions now at this time. I also know that when we teach an investigator, they are not the only one listening; generations of loved ones are there to hear the restored gospel.

I am really grateful for this experience and happy to be a missionary. It is truly wonderful to be able to share these great truths with others. I sometimes forget how great is the knowledge we have and how many people lack it.

Sorry I did not get a chance to email much at all last week. Since we had to work until 2 and be in at 6 I ended up with only about 20 minutes with wifi. Hopefully this week will be better. Unfortunately though, we still do not have the photos from our Halloween costumes sadly. Y'all will have to wait another week. Transfers are this week and you will never believe what happened. Nothing! Absolutely nobody in our district got transferred out. I am pretty excited about that because I really like this district and it is fun to lead them. So I will be in Lewisburg with Elder Thompson for another six weeks! Hope you all have a great week! Love you
Elder Basham

Monday, October 31, 2016

Halloween - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello Everyone!

Today has been an interesting day. We actually went out working this morning since we will be stuck inside all night. We had a pretty fantastic lesson reading the Book of Mormon with our investigator. We read the story of Lehi's dream and she loved how much it reminded her of her own life. I love reading the Book of Mormon with her because she does a wonderful job of likening them unto herself and really learning from the stories. She has such a strong testimony on the scriptures and I enjoy hearing how they have helped her so many times to find joy in life.

Afterwards, we helped the Spanish sisters move into a new apartment. Of course none of them had any idea how to assemble bed frames or pack boxes so that was an adventure. Now at last we are beginning our P-Day. After shopping we will go bowling and afterwards hand out candy to small children who knock on our door.

We had the very best Halloween costumes ever that we wore to the ward trunk or treat. Unfortunately I do not have the pictures yet. We are waiting for a member to email them to us so you will have to get them next week. Sorry to disappoint you but I promise it will be worth it when you get the pictures. Have a great week! Love you all!

Elder Basham

Well here are our costumes. We decided to all go as Disney characters together. Obviously the sisters did a little better than us, but it is very hard to find a costume that includes a white shirt and tie. I was trying to be Christopher Robin and thankfully most all of the members got that and thought it was cute. Elder Thompson was supposed to be Christoff from Frozen, but as you see that didn't quite work out. Anyway it was fun.
From left to right:
Sister Degraffenried - Aurora
Hermana Elliot - Jane, from Tarzan
Sister Wellisch -  Snow White
Hermana Hill - Belle

Monday, October 24, 2016

Goats! - Lewisburg, Tennessee

 We went on a field trip as a district today and milked some goats! It was great. Now we have half a gallon of goat milk and we are going to make yogurt. I am so excited!

So I found out that they normally sell the goats milk for $10 a gallon. It is pretty cool that we got all of this. It is actually quite delicious!

Monday, October 17, 2016

540,000 Minutes - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello everybody,

It appears that I was so excited about the goats last week that I entirely forgot about my year mark. How weird. I have been out for over a year now. It really doesn't feel like that. I have enjoyed it fantastically and look forward to one more awesome year.

Speaking of memories, this is my companion from the MTC, Elder Melville from Utah. I can still clearly remember the first time I met him last October 7 at about 2:00 PM MST. I was in the computer classroom on the fifth floor of the large building on the south side of the MTC. He walked in and we were introduced. It was a really cool moment for me. I realized then that I was actually on a mission and I had my very own companion to be with all the time. (Much later it dawned on me just how much "all the time" is and it kind of freaked me out. Although I am used to it by now. It will be really weird to go home and be alone again. Ewww.) Unfortunately, Elder Melville had to go home our second week there and never made it out to Tennessee. That is until now. One year later he has made it back out on his mission and is right here with us. His picture was taken at zone conference last week. It was super cool to see him again and he is so happy to be able to serve a mission.

Here are the rest of zone conference pictures:

This last week was fantastic. One really cool miracle lead us to a couple who are engaged and preparing for their marriage. They had heard of the church before and asked us the question "Don't you guys believe in sealing families?" It was absolutely wonderful. We testified of the truth of eternal families and the joy of being linked through the generations. They loved it and really felt the spirit and asked how it could be possible for their own family. We taught them the message of the restoration. As we explained that the priesthood keys held by Jesus Christ and His apostles of old were given to Joseph smith, they saw the wondrous joy. The power to bind families together really is upon the earth today. By the atonement and authority of Jesus Christ, we are able to overcome sin and death to live together with Him once again. I know that this is true. This is His church and His missionary work. I am so grateful to be part of it and very blessed to see His power changing the lives of those I serve. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.

I love you all and hope you have a great week!
Elder Basham

PS. At least every single week of the summer -- and sometimes multiple times a day -- I have found a new bug or spider that I have never before seen in my life. I keep thinking that Tennessee will eventually run out of new bugs and after a whole year I would have seen them all. No such luck.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Goats! - Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

This week we got to go to the goat festival. It was probably my favorite thing I have done on my mission so far. We had a booth right at the entrance and across from the petting zoo. They had baby goats, a camel, and a zebra. So many members helped us throughout the day and we were able to teach tons of people. We already have one baptismal date from the people we met and a list of almost 20 self-referrals to contact. The Spanish sisters also helped out and were able to find several Spanish speaking families for their teaching pool. It was an absolute blast talking and eating funnel cakes all day while doing missionary work. I am fairly certain Hermana Hill and I each ate about 5 pounds of junk food throughout the day while talking about how Arizona is the greatest place on earth. I had a terrible sugar crash that night, but in the end we gave out over 300 books and pamphlets.

Elder Basham and Elder Thompson at the Lewisburg Goat Festival

Also I did have a great time at the fair. There were tons of people all lined up to watch the goat judging and auctions. There were a lot of seven year old kids bringing in goats bigger than themselves. That was very cute to see. Of course though, the first thing I had to do was find the beekeeper and buy some honey, so that is exactly what I did. There is nothing better than local raw honey, especially since it helps with allergies. I also was handed this little tiny bottle when I asked for hot sauce with my food. It is so cute I nearly died.

We had a really awesome miracle where an investigator decided he wanted to talk to us and we knocked on his door literally 5 seconds later. He thought it was the coolest thing ever. He was literally jumping up and down and yelling thank you up to God. For a long time he has struggled with feeling that God is actually listening to him and will answer his prayers. This really changed his mind and since then he has just been so much happier. Him and his son have been praying each night and can feel the answers. Last night we visited him again and read him Alma 32:27 and he really loved it. He asked me to read it again and he was just shocked at how much it applied to him. He really has the "desire to believe" and wants to read the whole chapter now to learn how to grow that faith. It is awesome!

I am really grateful for this fantastic week and all of the miracles that happened along the way including a new investigator who had already read up to the book of Alma and brought her friend to our second lesson so she could get a book too. I know that the lord's hand really is in this work and he loves the people of Lewisburg Tennessee. I am grateful to be part of this fantastic work and to have a front row seat in each of these miracles. I love you all and hope you have a great week!

Elder Basham

PS. Since coming to Lewisburg I have learned about the "War of Northern Aggression." I had never heard anyone call it that before and was kinda surprised at the version of the story I heard. They have a confederate statue in the town square. It is interesting how differently the people see history here.

Monday, October 3, 2016

- Lewisburg, Tennessee

Hello everyone!
Do you know starts with a T and rhymes with four-wheel drive? If you guessed Toyota Tacoma then you probably have no idea how to rhyme, but you would be correct. Yes, I drive a truck now. I never thought I would ever be that cool. I thought life was best with a Kia Soul, but this thing is definitely awesome. We also have a house. This is very different from my mission experience so far, but I am not going to complain.

Toyota Truck and our Lewisburg house

Yes Lewisburg is an awesome place! I am super excited because Saturday we get to go to a goat festival the town is having. Trucks and goats! Adelia would love it here! Here is a picture of us driving back through the woods at night to go visit a member. It was very awesome, though I have never had to use my brights so often before in my life.

Driving through the woods with the brights on.

Wasn't General Conference just amazing! I really loved all of the talks. It is cool how often it felt like they were written just for me. God truly works in wondrous ways. I especially loved President Eyring talking about gratitude and Elder Rasband telling us to remember our blessings, testimonies, andexperiences to find strength now. I have decided to combine these two lessons together and start writing things I am grateful for in my journal each night and recording the miracles I see and feel. It is amazing the difference it made in my attitude after just one night.

I hope you all have a fantastic week. Love you
Elder basham

Monday, September 26, 2016

- Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello everyone!

Do you know what these pictures are? They are the photos we take at the end of each transfer with our district. Yes once again six weeks have come and gone bringing us to the suspenseful moment of finding out where we will all be going. This is especially stressful as a zone leader because everyone starts calling and texting you all week trying to find out early. The truth is, we don't find out any earlier than everyone else; so our phone is blowing up for no reason. However, I have no need to worry about that any longer, for as of tomorrow I will no longer be a zone leader. Instead I will be going back to being a district leader - once again with three pairs of sisters and no other Elders in the district. I really wonder what God's plan for me is; at least it is consistent though.
I will be going to Lewisburg which is a tiny town on the other side of Nashville near the Appalachian foothills. I am pretty excited to go. After all the fun I have had in the small towns, it will be awesome to actually stay in one. My companion will be Elder Thompson. He has been out for six weeks so he is still in training. I get to pick up right where I left off training Elder Carlson. He sent me a selfie today and I can already tell I am really going to love him.

Elder Thompson in Lewisburg

Side note: the answer to last week's bonus question is Ether 6:11 "And thus they were driven forth, three hundred and forty and four days upon the water." Last week, I had been out 344 days. Nick was the closest to finding the answer, although he was the only one who guessed. You all need to step up the game on the bonus questions. Nobody even answered the one about "under the name of sanders." The answer to that one was an allusion to Winnie the Pooh who has a sign reading "sanders" above his front door. Maybe I will have to make some really big prize for getting the right answer next time.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Achievement Unlocked: Tight like unto a dish - Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello everyone! 

I would like to start by saying that Kentucky is definitely as awesome as I thought it would be. To start out, we had dinner at a little local drive in -- the kind that only has two people working and only accepts cash. They made what I will call the best milkshake I have ever eaten in my entire life. I can seriously never go to Sonic again for it simply cannot be as good. Then we went to go visit a family in their trailer. We read the Book of Mormon with them and as we read the testimonies of the savior healing the multitude, the spirit filled the crowded little room. A change came over the family and the frivolous arguments of siblings ceased for that time. The next day, we had the privilege of serving them by helping build a deck so they could use their back door. I loved getting to work with them and learn more about them and the things they enjoy in life. Often we can become so preoccupied with our own busy lives, opinions, and lifestyles that we forget to see the beauty in others around us. We forget that all of us are children of God and each individual's life and desires are important to Him. I love the advice from Elder Patrick Kearon: "Meeting ... families and hearing their stories with your own ears, and not from a screen or newspaper, will change you. Real friendships will develop and will foster compassion and successful integration." I am grateful for the opportunity we had to work with this family and grow a real friendship with them. Here is a picture of John and our handiwork; his more (mother?) took the picture for us. 

The rest of the day in Morgantown was awesome. We got to walk the whole way around town and talk to people as we went. I love that everyone was so approachable and willing to talk with anyone. It also amused me that directions around town included, "right next to where John lives," or, "across the street from the Jordan's house." The Mayor's actually name is Billy Bob. It was a great experience for me all around and I enjoyed speaking with the people. 

We had a few miracles as we worked. After knocking on someone's door, I felt prompted to ask, "what is the purpose of life?" The woman who answered replied that she did not know and had been reading and searching for the answer for quite some time. I opened the Book of Mormon and read to her Alma 34:32 which reads, "For behold, this life is the time for men to prepare to meet God." She liked that and accepted a Book of Mormon as we promised her that it would help answer her question and bring direction to her life by helping her prepare to meet God. Afterwards we taught a lesson in a family's home. They had their friend over who has been coming to church and reading the Book of Mormon with them. Their testimonies of the savior and His gift of repentance led to a desire within this man's heart and he is now preparing for baptism in October. After all our planned activities were done, at 8:50pm, we decided to go out walking even though we had but ten minutes left. In this short time, we had opportunity to bear our testimonies to one more person and receive a wonderful referral. My testimony of missionary work was definitely increased that day and I am so grateful to be serving the people here. 

We had a lot of cool opportunities to do service this week including cleaning out gutters and giving priesthood blessings. I think my favorite though has to be this right here:

"[A]nd lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul." I am actually very grateful that I was taught how to use a large variety of farm tools by my stepfather so many years ago. As hard as it was at the time, I am grateful for how it has helped me to serve others. Whenever someone asks if we know how to uproot a tree, dig a trench, or even use a sickle, I am happy to surprise them by saying yes. This was a fun job though definitely a work out; the weeds were taller than my head when I started. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and I am so happy to hear from you guys and write each Monday. May the Lord bless you and keep you.

Elder Basham

PS. Ten awesome points to anyone who can tell me why I came up with the subject/title for this week's email 

PPS. Here is a picture of the Morgantown district

Morgantown District

Monday, September 12, 2016

America! - Clarksville, Tennessee

Today a couple of cool things happened. One, I cut my own hair for the second time. I am getting a little better I think...

New Self-done Haircut

Second, Elder Weight took us to a western store to look at boots. I was confused about this since we actually live in the west where people really have cattle ranches and wear boots. I couldn't see why you would travel all the way to the east side of the country to the land of overalls and straw hats to buy boots and a Stinson. Anyway, I found a hat in the store that I liked as well. Decided not to buy it though.

Third, we are going to Kentucky again. This time I am not just visiting. I get to spend a few days here and actually do some missionary work in a tiny farming town called Morgantown. It isn't quite as small as Russleville, but it is not even half the size of Clarksville. It was a really cool car trip.

I hope you all have a great week! I love you guys :)
Elder Basham

Monday, September 5, 2016

Family History - Clarksville, Tennessee

Hello Everyone! 

So this week in our training of Elder Carlson, we studied a lot about family history work. It was really cool to hear all sorts of great stories of how family history work brought families closer together and brought them great happiness. We read the testimonies of many individuals who were brought to our savior and His church through the spirit of Elijah. It was so cool seeing how the work of salvation is for everyone an the reality of this quote in Preach my Gospel:
“I hope to see us dissolve the artificial boundary line we so often place between missionary work and temple and genealogical work, because it is the same great redemptive work!” –President Spencer W. Kimball. 

Through this we have had many cool opportunities to share family history with many people around us - both members and investigators. It is really special how much it brings the spirit and softens hearts. My favorite was a recent convert family we visited yesterday. They have had the opportunity to take hundreds of names to the temple and now they are preparing to go for their own sealing. I loved hearing their testimony of how their family will be together forever and I thought of how it will open the door for them to perform those additional ordinances for all of their ancestors. A welding link is being formed throughout all the generations which will last for eternity. 

Sparked by this great spirit, I have finally gone and done what I have wanted to do for a long time. Today I was able to visit the graves of my great great grandmother and grandfather. It is really cool that to think of all the places in the whole world I could have been sent to in over 400 missions, they sent me to Tennessee. The apostle who issued that call did not know my family history, but the Lord does. Of all the wards in this great mission, president Andersen was inspired to send me to Clarksville. How cool is that! It was cool getting to be there and think about the lives they lived - growing up in the South during Reconstruction. I wonder what they did for work, what their school was like, and how they raised their children. What great lessons did they learn that they would want us to know. Am I honoring their name by the way I live?

Elder Basham with the headstones of George and May Basham

As cool as all of that is, I love more to think about our great heavenly family. When we are sealed, it is not merely to one other person, but we are linked in with the whole family of God the Eternal Father. It is a great covenant we take upon ourselves and it builds off the one we make at baptism and renew each Sunday. As disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ, we have covenanted to take His name upon us. Do we honor that great name by the way we live and love each day? Do we live true to the great family we are a part of?

I love you all and hope you can say with conviction, "yes!" I testify that the Savior loves each one of us and His atoning sacrifice makes it possible for all of us to return to live with our Heavenly Father and our family again. I am grateful for this knowledge He has given me and I love Him. In the sacred name of Jesus Christ. Amen. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Elephant Ears - Clarksville, Tenneseee

Conquering the Jungles of Tennessee...

Random thing you should all probably know: for some reason there are many emails which I have sent which appear in my "sent" folder and supposedly reached their destination. However it turns out they actually never did send and nobody received them. This is really unfortunate because I spend a lot of time writing those emails to my friends and those I care about, yet they never get anything. But there is literally no way for me to tell when/if it happened. It is totally random which ones make it through and which ones float about the server till the end of time. There are a few I have tried resending multiple times to no avail. So I really hope you guys all get to hear from me and I get to hear back from you. If that doesn't happen, I am sorry and wish I knew how to fix it. 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Three Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaamigos! - Clarksville, Tennessee

And amigos forever they'll be.

Hello everyone

So as I told you last week, we got a new missionary straight out of the empty sea in Utah. His name is Elder Carlson. Do you want to know something shocking? He isn't from Arizona. I think there may have been a mistake. He is actually from Seattle, Washington, but we can forgive him for that. I actually really like him a lot. Personality wise, we are very similar. It feels like I am companions with myself. That is kinda weird. As I watch him go through his first few weeks, it looks very similar to what I did coming in. It is bringing tons of flashbacks.

Elder Weight, Elder Carlson, Elder Basham
Being in a trio is interesting. Everything in our apartment is super crowded. We have another bed in the bedroom, another desk in he study, a new, bigger table, and more food, clothes, and stuff everywhere. There is very little walking space. As much as I love small, minimalist housing, I see that it definitely begins to unravel the more people you have. For example, we helped a new family, who has seven kids, move into the ward. 8 beds, three wardrobes full of homeschool materials, 4000 pounds of food storage, and monstrous piles of boxes and furniture take up a lot of space -- not to mention the lengthy moving process. I'm not fully sure where this train of thought was going but yea... We shall leave it there I suppose.

We have an investigator with a baptismal date! It is pretty exciting. We have actually been teaching her for a while, but I just now thought that I should probably mention missionary work in these missionary emails. Almost a year out and that thought finally comes. Anyway it is pretty fantastic to see how she has been prepared her whole life for this. It started way back in high school when her friend gave her a Book of Mormon and invited her to church. Later her brother was baptized. Now, several years later, she is finally ready and she is pretty excited for it. What I love most is that she really is just focused on building a personal relationship with Heavenly Father. She truly loves Him and loves how much the Book of Mormon helps her grow that love. I am grateful to have been a small part of helping her and seeing the joy it brings. I bear my testimony that the Book of Mormon is true and that one can draw nearer to God by abiding by its precepts than by any other book. I love it and I love the Savior of whom it testifies.

I love you all and hope you have a fantastic week!

Elder Basham

PS. She also has a pet pig! It is the cutest thing ever and I love it. I want one!