Tuesday, June 26, 2012


25 June 2012

Dear Homefront,
The weather here has been weird lately.  It started off with a huge heat spike, triple digits a couple times, and the humidity just making it worse.  Then (I'd blame it on the sudden heat influx) we've had a couple freak storms that have just dumped buckets of rain.  The storms were nice reprieves for a moment, but in the end just made it worse because the humidity just spiked higher.  But thankfully we were able to not get soaked, the storms almost always seemed to subside just as we were leaving wherever we were and would hold back for almost our whole journey.  By the way the weather's been going, it's looking like hurricane season might be a rough one this year.
Other than that, not much has been going on.  Due to our lack of investigators that we can see during the week (Saturdays and Sundays are fine because we've got four investigators out on Ft. Lee), we've been reduced to tracting.  The heat's been making that a fun experience, but don't worry, we've been staying hydrated and careful.  The biggest problem is that we have yet to really have very much success.  We've run into some nice people, and some not so nice people, but no interested people.  But we'll keep working because that's all we can do.
On Thursday we got a nice break from tracting, we helped a family in the ward move.  That was an interesting experience.  A lot of their furniture was heavy.  At least it felt heavier than it should have.  But that also took longer than we expected it to.  A 2-3 hour project ended up taking us all day, but they are happily settled into their new place so that's what truly matters right?
Saturday was the Branch Activity like usual.  That was fun as always.  We had pulled pork sandwiches, along with the usual junk-food treats they put out for the soldiers, yum.  Then on Sunday it was Branch Conference so the Stake Presidency came to visit, and as if they all knew, almost every soldier came, including many that we haven't seen in a long time.  I couldn't tell you how the actual service went because it was my week at Hopewell so my ride came and collected me right as breakfast ended.
I'm doing my best to remain upbeat here in the middle of some mild tribulation.  I love you all and hope that all is well at home.
With love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


18 June 2012

Dear Homefront,
Happy Fathers-day to all Fathers, Grandfathers, Expecting Fathers, and Father Figures.
This week's highlights include some good acts of service which have left my companion and me very sore, but highly satisfied.
On Monday we started an exchange with our District Leader.  Elder Bradfield came to Hopewell with me and Elder Huntzinger went to Colonial Heights with his companion.  It was enjoyable even though it didn't feel like we got very much done.  Almost every appointment we had that day fell through, but we did our best to stay busy.
Then we were able to help the Maynes take a couple trees out of their back yard which was both an enjoyable act of service as well as a very good work-out.  Once we took down the two trees, we cut them up and split the wood so Brother Maynes could give it to some of the ward members that have fireplaces or wood-burning furnaces.  Splitting wood worked some muscles that I haven't used much lately so that was good to get down and dirty a little.
The next day was mostly taken up helping one of our members move.  Some of that was some heavy lifting, but we were just glad to help.  They're still going to be living in the ward, but they haven't been able to close on the other apartment yet so they're staying with family over in Petersburg for a couple weeks.
On Saturday we had the branch activity which is always good.  We had Hawaiian Haystacks.  The Castle family had us over for dinner.  Their kids are a hoot.
It was my week to go to church on post.  We had a wonderful service and during Sunday school, I was able to sit down with our two newest investigators and lead a very good discussion.  I always love it out there, the spirit is always just so strong.  Though we were sad to say goodbye to our Sunday school teacher.  He graduates this week, along with about four or so others.
Then this morning, our district got to go up and help out at the Bishop's Storehouse in Chester.  They got in a truck-load this morning so we were sorting out pallets and stacking boxes up on the shelves.  Another great work-out which has left me rather sore, but it's alright.  It'll make me stronger in the long run.  And the Storehouse manager was really happy.  With our help, they were able to finish in only about three and a half hours instead of it taking all day like it normally does.
Well, that's pretty much it on my side of things.  Hope you all are well, I love you all.
With love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Monday, June 11, 2012


11 June 2012

Dear Homefront,
This week has been a little longer than most, with both ups and downs.  It's been difficult because we don't have too many people to teach, and of our three investigators one of them is in the Ft. Lee branch so we can only see them maybe twice a week.
But we've also seen miracles, and many of the Lord's tender mercies.  Elder Huntzinger and I have decided to try a new approach with the ward.  One of service and providing strength.  We've started to visit members as we're out and about, and offer to provide them service.  So far, we've painted a hallway, put in a toilet, tilled a garden, moved a family, and put together some furiture, and this week we're going to chop down a couple trees and help repair a work shed.  The hope is that as we serve, it will build the members' trust of us and their desire to also serve and help us in our missionary work.  We got the idea from Preach My Gospel under the section "Go About Doing Good".  We've also put up flyers in public places offering free service, no fruits from that yet, but we're hoping.
Another big highlight from this past week was actually a zone service project.  On Saturday our zone (20 or so missionaries) helped with the James River Clean-up which is a big anual project where citizens go and help to clear away trash and the like from the James.  There were some pretty interesting items found but the award for the most outlandish item went to our Hermanas (spanish speaking sister missionaries), because they found and rescued a kitten who was tangled in a bush.
Other than that, we're just doing our best to build up our teaching pool here.  I hope all is well on your side of things.  Thank you Dad for the care package.  Stay safe and well.
With much love,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


4 June 2012

Dear Homefront,
Well this week has been hectic but good.  The first half of the week was us getting ready for apartment inspections and letting Elder Eagar pack and say his goodbyes.  Thursday was Transfer Meeting and we got the same speeches we usually get about safety including the tape by Elder Holland about automobile safety.  Speaking of cars, Saturday we got to swap out our car.  Elder Tolman, our Car Czar wants to put all of the mission's 4-wheel drive cars up in the northern areas where they're more likely to get snow so we got to drive up to Richmond and give away our lovely Subaru and come home with one of the boats - er - Malibus.  After that, we had the branch activity.  Sloppy Joes on the menu, yum.  And Sunday it was my turn to go to Ft. Lee (figuring how that was going to work was an event (more later)).  The spirit at that fast and testimony meeting nearly knocked me flat.  It was absolutly amazing.
As for my earlier comment, now that we've lost our third companion, covering Ft. Lee is much more difficult.  It used to be that one of us would go with the Stocks in the morning and the others would go to Hopewell like normal.  But now we both have to go with the Stocks and we have to rely on loving members to pick one of us up and go to Hopewell.  After a bit of a scramble Saturday afternoon, we were able to find Elder Huntzinger a ride.  We're going to be meeting with the branch presidency on Thursday so hopefully we'll be able to figure out a more stable plan of action.
This week, I've also been doing a lot of pondering on both the atonement and the tender mercies of the Lord.  These two topics are infinitely different and yet eternally connected.  The atonement is probably the largest and most well known of all the Lord's tender mercies but there are so many we see each and every day, most that we don't even ever realize because we're so used to them.  But when you sit back and take a moment to ponder on them you find that we are truly dependant on the Lord.  Without His hand, none of this life would work ... None of it would matter.  It's His love and His mercy that make this life both possible and worthwhile.  I am so grateful for the Lord and His many tender mercies.  As the hymn goes, "I stand all amazed ... confused at the grace which so fully He proffers me."
I hope you all are well and safe, and that you may find joy in even the smallest of the Lord's tender mercies.
With love, always,
-Elder John Y. Roberts

PS:  Yes Mother, I got the package, sorry for not mentioning it.  The cake was good though being the men that we are we baked it and then ate it all right before bed-time.  We slept pretty well.