Tuesday, January 31, 2012


30 January 2012

Dear Homefront,

So, to begin my letter today, some background on how a mission is hierarched. (Note: The numbers given apply mostly to the Virginia Richmond Mission but the same basic structure exists in every mission.)

Most missions have anywhere from 100-200 missionaries at any given time. The mission is governed by the Mission President, his two counselors (who live within the mission boundaries), their wives, and the Assistants to the President (also called AP's who are two regular full-time missionaries).
The mission is divided into Zones, containing usually 20-30ish missionaries. Two missionaries are called to be Zone Leaders (ZL's, they are companions) to guide the zone and help the missionaries therein.
Each zone usually has 4-6 Districts, led by a single District Leader (DL).
Each District usually has about 3-4 Areas, and each area has a single companionship or trio who cover and work with a single, or sometimes two, wards/branches which is what the area is named for.

My new area is Hopewell. Which is in the Colonial Heights District. In the Chesterfield Zone. In the Virginia Richmond Mission. This is my fourth area and coincidentally, my fourth zone.

My companions are Elders Johnson and Roweberry, (I'll get pictures soon) both of whom are from California. We cover the Hopewell Family Ward as well as the Fort Lee Military Branch. We have a car (the only areas in this mission that are on bikes are all in "down-town" ish areas like in the heart of Norfolk or Richmond), however, to save on miles any Elders can choose to walk or ride their bikes for a day or so. Also, once a month the mission has a "Car Fast" where everybody goes a day without their car and focuses on finding new investigators rather than setting teaching appointments.

To be honest, I don't know how the Hopewell Ward is because I pulled the lucky draw to start off the weekly rotation of which of us attends the on base branch at Ft. Lee. Every week, one of us will go to Ft. Lee with either Elder and Sister Stock (the military relations missionaries assigned there) or with President Branderbarry (the Branch President). The on base branch is amazing, and shows true dedication because those at Ft. Lee are usually in training and are working from 4 am until 10 pm so Sunday is really one of the only days they get to rest. Also, it's interesting because almost a third of those attending are non-members who attend because they are acting as a "battle buddy" escort for the member who wants to attend the service. Unfortunately, due to Federal Policy we can't proselyte on base and must wait for them to approach us at either the service or at the Saturday branch activity for us to teach them.

I'll be able to tell you more as I actually get to know the area and the ward, but that's what I have for now. I'm safe and happy and so far I really enjoy both this new area and both of my companions.

I hope everyone is safe and well.
With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Tuesday, January 24, 2012


23 January 2012

Dear Homefront,

Well, it's transfer time once again here in the VRM and I'm getting transferred. I'll be serving in the Hopewell Ward and as part of that, I get to work with the Fort Lee Army/Military Personnel LDS branch! I'm excited for that.

This past week was interesting. We had a Zone Preparation Day of playing dodgeball and basketball as a zone. Elder Eborn and I took Leonard, one of our less active members with us and he enjoyed himself. Unfortunately, that trip killed our mileage for the month, and then we had three nights where we had something at or near the church so we did a lot of walking and talking and tracting around Crewe (the town where the church is), which isn't very large so by the end of the week, we were running out of effective things to do there.

One day though, you would've thought we were either coming under attack or going into martial law. Apparently there were some people either going to or from Fort Picket so there was a huge convoy of humvees and the airspace was full of both attack and transport helicopters and aircraft.

We had interviews with President Perry this week as well. It was really good to see him and to be able to speak with him. He is an amazing leader. He told me that when he reads my weekly reports to him, he has to remind himself (and finds himself amazed at the fact) that I'm only 19, which makes me feel really good. I love working with him and I'm so glad that he'll be my Mission President for nearly my whole mission.

Well, there's not really anything else to say about what happened this week. I hope everyone is safe and happy. I'll get you my new address as soon as I can.

With love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Tuesday, January 17, 2012


16 January 2012

Dear Homefront,

I got a slew of packages and letters this week ... All but one of them much belated Christmas gifts. I'd like to take this time to say thank you to all those who sent them. That one contained the exciting news of yet another engagement (and by extension a marriage that I'll miss), this one of Brian and Ellie.

On Wednesday this week, I went on exchanges with our Zone Leaders and it made me realize something. As much as I love the country and the beauty it has, my personality is better suited to the city (or at least a suburban setting). And I was reminded again why I love Singles Wards. Oh well, I go where I'm sent because I'm needed there (at least that's the theory). No, there's only one branch here in Burkeville. The only place I've had two was in VA Beach. Missionaries will be asked to help out in one way or more almost every week, especially in smaller congregations, usually helping with the sacrament. I have yet to teach a class, but I have spoken in sacrament meetings. That's another thing that's odd about Burkeville, due to such a small active membership, they don't have a second hour Sunday School class, just Sacrament and Priesthood/Auxilliary meetings.

This week seemed to be mostly consumed in more service. Cutting down trees, chopping it into firewood, stacking firewood, mucking out horse-stalls, clearing land, etc., until it got too cold to do much of anything. It looks like our good weather luck has run out in Virginia and winter has finally hit, still no snow though, just cold.

My clothing is holding up just fine, I've had to sew a fallen hem on a pair of my slacks and mend a very small hole on one of my shirt-tails but other than that, not much wear and tear (which seems surprising, but good at the same time).

A couple days ago, you would've thought we were getting invaded though. There was a huge convoy of Humvees that rolled through town headed towards Fort Pickett. Apparently there are a couple regiments of Marines and a contingent of Canadians that are all training there right now. Apparently it's the largest Urban Assault Training course on the East Coast. The air has been full of helo's and there've been jeeps roaming the streets lately. Still yet to see any tanks, but oh well, I guess you can't have everything.

I hope everything's going well and everyone's safe.
I love you all.
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS: No, I havent had my suits cleaned yet but I really don't wear them that often. Church and meetings. It might have to wait until I get transferred again. I have yet to see a cleaners around here.

Thursday, January 12, 2012


9 January 2012

Dear Homefront,

The falling trees would be clearing out some land for Ma and Pops (the two members that have us over on P-Days). We just go into the forest with chain-saws and cut down whatever is in our way. Most of the trees are saplings or small cedars so they just fall right beside us as we go through. Then whatever is big enough to be used for firewood is loaded into the back of the truck and what isn't is piled up to be burned at a later date.

This week, I got to go on exchanges with my District Leader, Elder Parry. That was an adventure, because as we were out tracting, we ran into ..... A cross dresser! I was mildly scarred, and afraid.

Well, not much else exciting happened this week. More tree cutting, more horse stall cleaning. Not enough teaching, but we're working on that.

Hope everybody's well and safe,
With love,
Elder John Y. Roberts

Monday, January 2, 2012


2 January 2012

Dear Homefront,

New Years was insane. We ran into people that were already plastered by 3 in the afternoon ... But we survived, and now nobody has the excuse of the stress of the holidays. I've just been really tired lately but I've been pushing through. In the country, since there's not too much work for us, we do a lot of service. Like cutting down (and almost getting crushed by) trees for people who are trying to clear out their lands, and mucking out horse stalls, helping people put in kitchen cupboards, and any other random jobs people could use help with.

There's not really much else going on right now, hopefully with the new year, the work will pick up so that I can have something to share.

I hope you are all well and safe. Welcome to 2012, and go AF Marching Band!

With love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts