Elder Curtis Sudbury

Elder Curtis Sudbury

Monday, May 31, 2010

Letter from Curtis, May 31, 2010 - In response to parents visiting Italy

Dear Mom and Dad,

Bonjiorno I believe is the Italian hello :) Remember that French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese are all Latin based languages, so it's natural for you to think you're hearing French and Spanish ;)

As I've gone around the world I've come to find that the United States is a rather unique place as far as its maintenance. US cities are always quite clean and ordered, even the craziest, worst ones. Such is certainly the case in México. Occasionally somebody will give us an address so that we can visit them later and that number doesn't exist, there are two or more of that number, or it does exist but there's no number on the outside of the house. Ironically some of our best contacting happens looking for the people with whom we already have appointments ;). Most the cities, even the bigger, nicer parts, are still pretty dirty and in shambles. Most countries just don't bother to take care of their cities the same way the US does.

I've learned that Satan is working as hard as he can against this work. We have a few people that are starting to feel the spirit and recognising that they are feeling the spirit, but because of laziness, sudden work opportunities, sleepiness, or one of a hundred other reasons, they often do not move forward in this work. One way that Satan has been working against this people has, unfortunately, been through the members. There are only really two or three huge families that make up the majority of the congregations in the two wards (it's a very small town) and because of disputations within the family, many have gone inactive because they don't want to see their own family members at church. Many of our investigators have seen that and a few very bad examples from many years ago, became offended, and stopped investigating the Church many years ago.

One couple in particular comes to mind. Both are members but haven't attended church for over 12 years because of some people who they knew were being exceptionally hypocritical within the Church. They make me especially sad. They have not been to the temple and cannot do so unless they become active again in the church. They are losing blessings because they worried more about the members than the doctrine. They know the Church is true. They are good people, better than some in our congregation. They have chosen to give the people who offended them sufficient power over them to stop them from doing what is right. They put the bad examples above the good and chose to ignore the doctrine they knew was true. I have faith, however, that they'll come back. They know that they cannot receive all the blessings God wants to give to them until they are active members of the church. They can, as active members, be the good examples, speak out against the bad examples, and really make a difference in the wards. They can be fantastic leaders here, whereas their choice to just stay apart changes nothing for the better.

Another challenge for me is that my companion really doesn't care about the rules and regularly breaks several of them. I can't force them upon him, and he knows them well. I can only live my mission the best I can and trust that he is doing the best he can. I am grateful, however, that he is one of the harder workers in the mission. He is getting tired of missionary work (9 weeks left before he leaves) but he still loves teaching lessons with people who are really ready to listen and act on answers to prayers. Really he's just getting tired of contacting people to find the investigators who are ready to listen. We have no other choice until the members start giving us more referrals.

I was reading in Helaman today about the people that fell so quickly away from the church and came to an understanding about why many return missionaries fall away from the church. They know that the mission rules come from and are approved by prophets of God but they still hold them in little regard and largely ignore them. This constant disregard for the words of Prophets leads them to have that regard for the guidelines set by the Prophets in general, thinking that they are exempt as they thought in a mission. Once the sustaining influence of their calling is gone, they fall away quickly because they have gotten in a habit of ignoring Prophets. One more reason to obey the rules as closely as I can.

Due to recent events, my most important invitation to you is to be the best examples you can be of members of the Church. When a ward or even a group of people are consistently striving to live the Gospel, they are happy and have Light. People see that Light and that happiness and want to join with them and find the source of their happiness and Light. The example of members can lead people to want to be taught by the missionaries. :)

Secondly, always have faith in missionary work in your area, be you missionary or a ward member. When a ward has faith in missionary work, it uplifts and helps the missionaries immensely. When missionaries have faith in the work in that area, people who they thought would never listen miraculously begin listening. Faith is EVERYTHING in this work. Unfortunately Élder Montalvo and the majority of the members in my area do not have a lot of faith in the ability of missionary work in our area to bring the people to the Truth. I'm working to change that :).

Past all the challenges we face, there are some fantastic things happening as well. We are miraculously finding people to teach. One person whom we were teaching was about to ask us to not come back when an old childhood friend passed by and talked with her about the gospel. She came to church this week. We found somebody who wants to listen but can't at her own house because her father is very catholic. Her cousin offered to let her have the lessons in her house. Her cousin was an old investigator that stayed catholic I think because of family tradition but clearly thinks the church is worthwhile enough to listen again with her cousin. We wanted to visit this cousin as well, but we had no address or contact information for her other than a year old phone number. God is working miracles in missionary work.

Faith, Hope, and Charity are the essentials of missionary work. When you have those three and work as hard as you can, miracles happen. I've already talked a bit about Faith. Hope is a firm conviction that God will fulfill His promises. Charity is perhaps the most important of them all. Charity does not accept people as they are and not want to change them. Charity loves people where they are and wants to lift them higher. Charity is being a good friend and, in time and when the Spirit directs, helps them towards the Light. People are not always ready to listen, but people change. Charity is kindness and Love.

I was listening to music last night and heard the song "Lord, Make Me an Instrument of Thy Peace" and realized that that is my desire in my missionary work. Here are the lyrics:

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace.

Where there is hatred, let me sow Love

Where there is injury, Pardon

Where there is doubt, Faith

Wherever there's despair, Hope

Where there's darkness, Light

Where there is sadness, Joy

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace

O, Lord, grant that I may not so much seek

To be consoled as to console

To be understood as to understand

To be loved as to Love

Lord, make me an instrument of Thy Peace

For it is in giving, that we receive

For it is by Faith that we believe

For in forgiving, we are forgiven

It is in dying that we are born to Eternal Life

Make me an instrument of Thy Peace

I know this is God's work. I know that this is the True Church, led by God. I know that this work is that of Pure Love. I know that we are led by a Prophet of God on the earth today. What a fantastic message that is!!! We have someone who can talk to God face to face and lead us as a whole in the fight against Satan and his forces. We have prayer which leads people directly to God to ask what is the truth and, if they take the time to listen, they can receive an answer from that same God!!!!! What could possibly be more exciting? I know it's true because I've asked, really wanting to know the truth, whatever it may be. I received my answer from God and I am now a messenger of Truth. I KNOW. :) That's all that matters. I want to be an instrument of the Lord's Peace, His Gospel, His Love.

All my love,

Élder Sudbury

Thursday, May 27, 2010

First week in Mexico! Letter from May 24, 2010

So...Mexico :) 

I got to Mexico and made it through immigration without any trouble.  The first day in the mission they like to have you go and do street contacting to let you get used to it...Little did they know I had already been serving a mission in Utah :)  We grabbed some dinner and went back to the mission offices to sleep.  The next day we met with the mission president (He was in a meeting with Elder Bednar and so couldn't meet us in the airport) and had interviews.  He's completely different from my last mission president.  He pays strict heed to the rules, for one thing, which makes the Mexico City South mission have a completely different feel than the Utah Ogden mission.  Furthermore, after he interviewed us he had an idea of who our companions and what our areas were going to be, but he said that he "fears doing anything without the authorization of the Spirit."  It wasn't until after he felt certain about the areas that he told us where we were going.  For these reasons, and many more, I know I'm in the right mission for me.  I fit this mission.  The other one just didn't quite fit right ;).  Plus now I'm back to the motherland ;). (Curtis and his sisters kid about this because their grandmother was born in Mexico)

I've been assigned to the San Juan area in the Volcanes zone, well outside Mexico City.  We've done a LOT of contacting (last week, from Tuesday through Saturday, we contacted about 160 people on the street and tracting) and I've even grown to love it ;)  It makes me laugh every time one of the missionaries tells us we have a dead area.  In one week we gained ten investigators and one accepted a conditional baptismal date (the condition being she finds out it's true).  I've come to the firm conviction that, if there was no work to be done in an area, that is, if every member was striving to live the gospel and every non-member had heard and rejected the gospel, that the righteous would be taken up to Zion and the wicked would be kicked out of the city or destroyed.  We'll know we're getting close because the city will start to glow ;).  Until that point, there is a LOT of missionary work to be done and all it takes is faith in God and a lot of work to bring the Spirit which helps us find people and do the work.  We've already seen our share of miracles here.  We happen to run into people on the street that are very excited to hear about the gospel, people accept the gospel and are willing to pray about it on the first visit, and our share of spiritual experiences that simply cannot be written to be spread widely.  My companion's name is Elder Montalvo.  His family is from Arizona (poor guy) and he has 21 months in the mission :).  He's a very kind and hard working missionary and I'm very blessed to have him as a companion.

Such is life in the Mexico City South Mission.  I've come to realize a few things this last week.  The first is that we must comply with the rules and commandments completely and then the Lord is bound to send His Spirit to be with us as a member of our companionship.  I've learned that if you don't have the Spirit, it is impossible to teach.  I've learned that, when I'm tired and want to just stop walking and sleep, I just have to say to myself, "forget yourself and go to work."  This is the Lord's time, not mine.  He's the one that directs my words, the words are not my own.  I'm learning to forget myself and go to work.  It's not that hard, you just keep going and forget about your own fears and desires and put yourself in God's hands.  That's when miracles happen on a mission.

I love being on a mission.  Yes it's hard work, but it's a time when you can, quite literally, walk with God.  It's a blessing, hard as it may be. 

I'm feeling much better than I was before.  Ironically I have felt better since getting to Mexico than I ever did in Utah. :P  God is blessing me with health, the language, lessons, investigators, the Spirit, and so much more.  I know that very little of what we get done, if anything, is done by me.  The Spirit works through us, and that's everything to me.

On the business side of things, I gave Davis hospital as well as instacare (I went there right before I left) my insurance information.  They should have taken care of it :P.  Mondays are now my Preparation Days, plan your emails accordingly.  I'm not sure what the policy is on writing multiple family members by email every week.  I've read in some materials that the mission gave me that I should only write one general email.  I feel that it's okay to still write Ryan, as he has no way of communicating otherwise, but if I want to write individual letters I might have to do it by hand.  I'm going to check on this soon.  It's vital to me to keep the rules as strictly as possible, otherwise the Lord is not bound to send us the Spirit.  I still can read all the emails that you send me, that was specifically stated, so please keep writing and keeping me up to date. :)

I talked a lot about binding the Lord.  That's important to me.  That phrase comes from D&C 82:10, "I the Lord am bound when ye do what I say, but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise."  Basically, if we fulfill our side of the promise we can have a perfect hope that the Lord will complete his side as well.  I hadn't thought of it in that manner, especially for having the Spirit with us, until just recently and thought I would share it with you.  The other thing that has been impressed upon me recently has been the power of prayer.  Near the end of Alma it talks about how all the people were saved by the prayers of the righteous.  I have seen the power of prayer in a mission and have felt the power of the many, many prayers that are offered for us.  Thank you for praying for me and the missionaries around the world, you make a significant difference in our lives. :)

I've talked sufficiently, I think, so here is my testimony.  I know God is there and answers my prayers.  He doesn't always give me what I want, but an "answer" is not always what you ask for, it's just that, an answer.  I know God lives.  I know Jesus is my Savior and the Savior of the whole earth.  I know we have living prophets again on the earth that God uses to guide and direct His church.  I know the Book of Mormon is the Word of God.  I know that, more than anything, that God Loves us and wants the best for us in all things.  He is my Father and I Love Him. :)  This is the only path that leads all the way to Eternal Life.  It is my privilege to be a medium for the Spirit to guide people back to that path.

I love you all dearly and hope all is well :)

All my love,
Élder Sudbury

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Letter of May 11, 2010 - Curtis is finally leaving for Mexico!

Dear Family,
I'm feeling much better.  The sore throat has finally almost gone and I've stopped taking pain killers.  Thank you :).  I'm sorry you're feeling sick though!
Write whatever you feel like writing, I don't care ;).  Rosetta stone is just on my computer.  Open it up and use the user's manual.  Get one of the girls (probably Melanie) to help you and all will be well.
So here's the news.  I leave for the Mexico Mexico City South Mission on the 17th of May.  My plane departs from the Salt Lake airport at 6:00 AM.  I get to go!!! :)  I can call from the airport and will probably call Matt and SalleeAnn then.  I'll call you briefly, but you'll be asleep ;)
As far as the work in Bountiful, every day miracles happen when you believe they can.  I've randomly felt impressed to knock on doors, go to different cities, or just talk with random people that have all been miracles in and of themselves.  I've talked with people who gave us possibilities of people to teach, encountered people who had been praying for someone to give them a priesthood blessing because they were having a hard time in their lives, and have given lessons that I randomly had felt impressed to prepare the night before.  I know that I'm not doing any of these things myself.  God is using me, and I cannot accept any credit for what I'm doing here.  If you believe that God can use you and put yourself in His hands, He will guide you.  I've seen that over and over again.  This is God's work, His mission, and His power that guides it.  I know that this is His church because I've felt it over and over and over again.  We are led by a prophet of God and God is personally directing this church.  I will stand by this church and my God forever.  It is the Kingdom of God on earth and we have been called to build it up :)  I love it.
I'm low on time today, but I hope all is well.
All my Love,
Elder Sudbury

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

May 4, 2010 - Letter from Curtis

All mail goes to the mission office and they send it to the missionaries, so that address will be the same until I leave the Utah Ogden Mission.
An interesting week, overall.  My new missionary companion is Elder Banda from Texas.  He's a fantastic missionary that has only been a member for a little over 2 years.  I'm very blessed to have such a fantastic companion.
Bountiful is a little bit different as far as missionary work is concerned.  I'm still a spanish speaking missionary, as is Elder Banda, and we are assigned to a Spanish branch, but because latinos are few, far between, and hard to find in bountiful, we have been authorized to teach in either language (or a mix, as the case may be).  We have a few really solid investigators that can't get baptized until september because one of them is on probation.  It's currently for the best, because we're still trying to get them all to quit smoking.  It's an interesting predicament, overall :P.  We work with them every day.
As for interesting travel experiences, we attended a regional stake conference in the Salt Lake Conference center this sunday.  I was no more than five minutes from our house :P.  Furthermore, because we are a spanish branch in a highly unpopulated area, our branch boundaries are HUGE (and we have a car, Elder Banda is the District Leader here too ;) ).  Because of that, we pass by Dad's work almost every day :P.
Now then, last night I got quite sick.  I started shaking, feeling light-headed, and had a fever.  I got a priesthood blessing and decided to go to the hospital.  After hours of running every common blood culture they could think of, they told me they had no idea what I had. :P  I went home feeling a little better and slept quite well last night.  My fever is down today, but I still don't feel completely well.  I'll be fine, because my fever broke, but I'm glad for Priesthood reassurance.  I probably wouldn't even bother telling you this, but the bill should be coming to your PO Box, so I thought you should know that I'm fine.  I used the insurance card, but I think you still will have to pay because of the deductible.  Best of luck ;).
In completely random news, Happy Cinco de Mayo tomorrow!  And happy Cinco de Uno three days ago! :)  Please do remember, however, that Cinco de Mayo is only a holiday in the US, NOT in Mexico...they would have no idea what you were celebrating ;).  Cinco de Uno however is a classic holiday that should always be celebrated everywhere. :D
This part is more specifically for the Blog than just for family.  I'm deeply grateful for family and friends who have supported me.  You as a family all know how much I care for you and appreciate your support in the mission field and in life in general, but I don't think all my friends know it.  I likely would not be here, serving a mission and strong in the gospel, if it wasn't for the friends who uplifted me, put up with me, and helped me when I needed it.  To all of you who I love dearly, my friends, I can only offer you a very sincere Thank You.
As far as the Visa is concerned, there's still no word as to when, but I apparently got an email that had me send in some physical information for the Visa, so I'm not forgotten.
This is the Lord's work.  We are in the work of saving souls.  I know the church is true.  I know that God Lives, the heavens are not sealed, and God always answers prayers with a response.  I know Priesthood Power and Authority is the Power and Authority to act in God's name on the earth.  I know that this church is led and directed by the Power of God through Prophets of God.  I have no doubt of these things.
I love you all.  I hope to talk with you this Sunday.
All my Love,
Elder Sudbury

May 4 Letter from Curtkis

PS, I loved Zoe's pictures.  As soon as I get tape they're going up on the wall.  Thank you for sending them to me.  Zoe's a gem and I miss her.  Tell her Curkis loves her ;)
-Elder Sudbury

April 20th Letter from Curtis

From: Frederick Curtis Sudbury
Subject: Re: Missing you and loving you---
To: "Leeann Sudbury"
Date: Tuesday, April 20, 2010, 10:34 AM

In spanish it's exceptionally difficult to make anything complicated.� The words just don't exist to do it.� That "Let us go forth" I thought I sent to you a while back in one of my emails.� It is scriptural language, because it's a quote from Alma 56 :P.� I expected you to recognise it as it wasn't that long ago, so I didn't bother to explain it any further because it takes up time.� I apologise :P.�
Furthermore, I'm not sure where you keep getting this idea, but I do eat :P� Promise.� I don't fast every day all day :P� STOP WORRYING ABOUT IT :P� Physically, I am taking care of myself just fine, and the members feed me enough food every day that it would be ridiculously hard to starve :P.
As for experiences, I'm�well on my way to filling in the�journal Cliff�gave me, if I finish it before I leave, I'll ship it�home to you.
As for a brief recap of some experiences, I met someone who knows my mission president and gave me a letter to give to him.� I'm on exchanges almost every day because my companion is the district leader.� There are a lot of solid missionaries here, a lot of men that I admire.� My zone focuses a�LOT on the teaching skills section of�Preach�My Gospel,�with particular emphasis on role playing.� I don't especially like that, as that was a particular warning that we were given in the MTC, to not spend too much time on the teaching skills but, as Preach My Gospel itself suggests, to spend time studying the lessons, studying christlike attributes, and learning to depend on the�Spirit.� I do what is required of me, as always.� I know that the zone leaders are entitled to revelation that I do not have, and it is not my place to counsel them�in their callings, but I don't have to like all of their decisions :P.� We have a few people that are fairly solid investigators.� Some of them are progressing very quickly,�others are not.� It's interesting to�see who is ready for the gospel and has been prepared by the Lord and who is not (see the parable of the sower).� One thing they especially�emphasised in the MTC was the�verse in D&C 4 that says "the field is white already to harvest."� They told us to note that the field is not brown ready for the seeding.� We are called to find the people the Lord has already prepared to be gathered, and plant a few seeds on the way.� I've had a few experiences that have reaffirmed something that is very important to me.� We're not here to teach lessons.� We're not even here to teach the Gospel.� We're here to teach people.� If pure love for the people and God�isn't the center of the work we do and we don't show that love to the people we teach, we will not do the work God wants us to do.
All is going well with me.� I've very much become converted to missionary work.� Every time I testify of Truth I feel the Spirit guiding my words and testifying of that Truth.� I have felt the Lord guiding my words so often.� He has loosened my tongue so that I can speak the language in ways I didn't know I could when He needs me to say something.� I have taken the promise to "Open thy mouth and it shall be filled" literally, and the Lord has fulfilled that promise.� I have noted that the scripture says to open your mouth first and then the Lord fills it.� It takes that leap of faith first before you will have the power of God behind you.� Interesting to me...I've seen that very often.
Finally, my testimony.� God is guiding His work.� I know it because I am doing things that I, on my own, cannot do.� God has prepared every one of His servants so that they can, with His help, accomplish every requirement placed upon them.� God knows our capacity perfectly and will not stretch us further than we can go.� I know this is the Church of God.� I know that anyone who asks, truly wishing to know, can know for themselves the truth of this church.� I know that Joseph Smith was a prophet.� I know that Thomas S. Monson is a prophet.� I know that�God lives, Jesus is the Christ, and that I am on the Lord's errand.� I know that the authority of God is on the earth again and that it is by this authority that the church is being directed.
As for your questions:
Do you get letters in the mail when we send them to the mission address once a week or do you get them the same day that the mission home receives them?
I have no idea, they just show up in my mailbox :P
Do they call you in and call out your name to pick up your personal mail?
No...I just get them in my mailbox :P
Do you still only get 30 minutes to read your email and respond様ike you did before, or can you take your time using the computer?
No, I have much more time.� Feel free to keep sending emails
Where do you use the computer to email us?
The Logan Tabernacle
If you only get 30 minutes to respond to everybody, should we communicate with yoyu more through mailed letters while you are still in the country?
See previous answer :P
I guess you are not getting a day by day prediction of when you will have a VISA in place are you?
No idea
How do you like your mission president. He looks like a really sincere guy.
I've only talked to him briefly twice.� Seems like a nice enough guy though :P
Did you feel the Utah earth quake last week? Did you know that there was another huge earthquake in China?
No, I was in a car...I also heard it was remarkably week.� I get no news on anything, so that's rather suprising.� I hope not too much damage...
Do you need more postage stamps and paper?
No, plenty left :P.
Tell the others to write.� I love getting mail and Email :D
All my love,
Elder Sudbury

Letter from Curtis - Tuesday April 27th

Thank you for the Jokes, they made me laugh. :D  Call Ryan's mom!  She would love somebody to talk to about what's going on with Ryan.  Also let her know that I haven't gotten any dearelder.com letters for a while.  I think DE.COM thinks that I'm still in the MTC :P.  Good luck on all your trips!
There is a certain kind of Spanish called Chilengo that is particularly prevalent in central Mexico.  It is that kind of Spanish that is very choppy and fast.  It is possible that such was Michael's experience.
Transfer news:  I transfer tomorrow to.....BOUNTIFUL! :D  Not quite Mexico, but it'll be an interesting change ;).  In further news, just so you know, I get to call on Mother's Day, Christmas, and when I'm in the airport.  Let me know what time on Mother's day is good for you.  No news as far as my Visa is concerned.
I have found that the more busy I am, the happier I am.  I was on exchanges in another area that is just being opened and I walked until my feet ached that day.  We even carried dinner with us because we didn't want to stop.  It's a difficult area to open because there are not a lot of hispanics and tons of students.  I loved that day! :)  That day I also helped two people how were moving, one in and one out.  Both of them were non-members.  That day I was blessed for the physical preparation I had undertaken before and during my mission, as every muscle was strained to the limit.  I am gaining a lot of muscle, but I haven't had a lot of chances to run.  I hope I get a chance to do more running during my misison.
One thing that Elder Bednar said in a talk was that you will always be guided by the spirit when you commit yourself to God even if you don't recognise or realise it.  That counsel has given me comfort on my mission.
I have had some interesting experiences with investigators.  In all these three weeks I have only had one lesson that I have felt impressed to lay out the scriptures and describe in very clear terms what they need to do.  Most of the time, what is important is lovingly guiding them to understand for themselves what is the gospel and inviting them to pray.  I have noticed further than whenever I am being led by the Spirit, the Spirit guides my Spanish as well as my thoughts.  When I am being led by the Spirit, my Spanish is significantly better than when I'm not in a situation to be guided to teach.  The promise that when you "Open your mouth [it will] be filled" is very true, and I know it.
I've realised recently that it is by God's grace that we have anything at all.  No farmer, no matter how skilled, can force a plant to grow.  He can provide the proper environment, but the actual growth is a miracle of God.  All the food we have is a result of this miracle.  Even the air we have to breath is a result of this miraculous growth.  The friends that have been in my life, who largely have made me the person I am, were put in my path and I was guided to them by God.  As a family, we were put together by God.  My intellect, my passions, all come from God.  I am so grateful to him for these fabulous gifts.
In other news, I finished Jesus the Christ yesterday.  That book is EXTREMELY long, but a good read ;).  Other than that, not a lot is new.
God has guided and will continue to guide my path.  I know it.  I cannot have any doubt that He is there.  He is real.  I have felt His power, his answers to my prayers, and all else in my life.  He is guiding this work and this church.  His prophet is on the earth.  Joseph Smith was a Prophet of God, instrumental in bringing forth the restored Gospel of Jesus Christ to the earth.  That line of prophets is unbroken.  We have a prophet guiding our battle against the forces of evil today.  I add my witness to the millions of others that God Lives.  Christ is coming.  As he marches forth to fill the earth with the Kingdom of Heaven, I hope to be counted as part of His host.  The time is now to prepare for that day.  It comes quickly.
I hope all is well.  I love you all dearly and you're all in my prayers day and night.
Elder Sudbury