Thursday, December 26, 2013

Peoria Week 5 *December 23, 2013

Hello hello.
So this is really cool and I thought I should just let you all know
that I am emailing you right now from my iPad sitting in my apartment
on the couch. Pretty neat huh? No more having to ride to the library
and having to deal with all that. I never thought that I would get to
do this on a mission so I am pretty stoked about it. Not to mention my
keyboard skills are not very great but I sure can type real fast on a
smaller key board with only my thumbs haha I guess that a bad thing
but it is what this generation has to deal with so I might as well
make the most of it right?

This was the week before Christmas so it was really cool to be able to
share the wonderful messages of Christ to people who would not
normally have accepted us to come in. I know that this time of year
peoples hearts a bit softer so they are more receptive to the spirit
that the gospel can bring to their lives. Most of the year they are in
just too big of a rush and don't see a need for the wonderful
blessings that come from having a knowledge of the truth. But that's
what we as missionaries get to go out and proclaim right? That is why
I am so stoked to get to be here at this time. Not only because the
work is hastening and members are now starting to be everyday
missionaries but because we get to see the wonderful fruits of our
labors. Please promise me that you will all work very hard at keeping
Christ in your thoughts and in your minds all year long and not just
at this time of the year. It will be tough to do but I know you can do

I love you all so much and wish you the best of wishing this day!

Elder Cole Safford
Our casitas all decorated for Christmas

Me and Santa Haha

Having a little fun

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Peoria Week 4 *December 16, 2013

Hey hey hey. How is everyone doing today? 

This week has been just absolutely wonderful! For the main reason it was my birthday. That is really weird to think that I am already 19 years old! It seems like a year ago that I was turning 18. Crazy how fast time flies by. On the bright side I am in the last year of my "teen" years. That will be something to look forward to. Thank you to everyone who wished me a happy birthday! It really meant a lot to me. One tradition we have in our family is to put up handmade signs all over the house for peoples birthdays. Well I thought that I would miss out on that this year with me being gone and all, but as great as my family is they sent my companion a secret package that had all these signs and posters and things in it. He woke up a few minutes early and put them all up around the apartment. As I woke up he started to record me. At first I didn't even recognize that anything was done. But slowly I looked around and saw all these signs. I had no idea what was going on and I was trying to figure out exactly how this could have happened. The video is pretty great! You can totally see me piece it together in my foggy 6:30 AM brain. It meant so much to have all those signs. You really don't realize how great things are until they are gone. But in my case they were not actually gone... Make sense? 

I was able to go to the Mesa temple with my mission this week as well. What an amazing and powerful experience that was. The entire room was filled with just missionaries. I know that the Lord was pleased with all of us and I could really feel his presence there. Members of the wards we serve in provided family names that they needed to get done. How great would it be to have 250 of your personal family names done in one day? I know that we were the answers to someone's prayers and I was happy to get to do that. When we got into the Celestial room we got to give a hug to our mission president and his wife. She does so much for us and I was so excited to hug her and tell her how much it all means to me. It was a tender mercy of the Lord for sure.

This past week we have really been looking for opportunities to share Christmas messages with people. Christ is a pretty common belief among people so this non threatening message is a great way to break down some of the barriers that people automatically put up when they see white shirts and ties. I know that we are planting seeds in people that future missionaries will come along and harvest. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ and all that he did and continues to do for me and my life.

I just want to publicly give a shout out to my parents and to my sisters for their love and support on my birthday. They always know how to put a smile on my face and make me feel like 2 million dollars. They are they best family and friends that I could ever ask for.

Every transfer the District leader goes on an "exchange" for the day. Either you go to his area and then his companion comes to your area with your companion or the other way around. I got to go to his area with his newer companion that has been out for about 2 months. He has been having a tough time with missing home and was thinking about leaving the mission field. I have been through something similar even though I have never thought about coming home, so I felt a need to help him. I absolutely love this elder to death and he has so much to offer the people here in Arizona. We get along very well and I was able to help him see the blessings that will and have come to his life already. I know that he will make the right choice. It just went to show me that I can bless peoples lives even if they are members of this church or even missionaries. I know that this is a great gift from my Father in Heaven and I intend on using it to the best of my abilities. 

I love you all and wish you a very Happy Christmas!

Elder Cole Safford
December Birthdays

At the Temple with Brother and Sister Taylor and Elder Zaugg

Monday, December 9, 2013

Peoria Week 3 *December 9, 2013

Hello Friends & Family,

This week has been nothing but a bunch of fun. I don't know why but for some reason people are so much more receptive to the message of Jesus Christ this time of the year. It must have something to do with Christmas but I thought that was only about presents and chocolate oranges.... Maybe i'm wrong. But seriously we have trying to get in contact with certain families for so long and all of a sudden their doors are swinging wide open and they are welcoming us in. It is such a beautiful thing. We have been sharing "Christmas messages" which are really only messages surrounding Jesus Christ but at this time of the year it is a lot less forward if we just call them Christmas messages. One of my favorite verses that I have come across in my study of Christ is Luke 2:10. As a missionary we get to do that all year long. Everyday we get to share those good tidings of great joy. Each Sunday we should be remembering the Savior and all that He did for us. We don't only have to do it around Christmas and Easter. It makes me so happy to be able to call myself a representative of Jesus Christ each and everyday. There are no words to describe the love that I have for Christ and all that He did for me personally. Think about how excited those angles were that ministered to the shepherds. Those went off singing "Glory to God". They knew the blessing that He was going to be to the world and how much we were going to need Him in our lives. Don't ever forget just what He did. Thinking of Him this season is a good thing but the best thing you could do is think of Him and Thank Him all year long. It doesn't matter if you are Mormon or Christian or Catholic. Jesus Christ died and suffered for YOU. Don't you think he would like a little thank you every once in a little while?

As we go around sharing these messages about the Savior we also offer to do service where ever it is available. We got to help a family move their entire house out into a trailer by ourselves. Just Elder Zaugg and I. The husband has had over 16 knee surgeries so he was not really much help. We moved like 4 huge dressers and t.v. units and a full couch and basically anything else that goes into rooms down these crazy crooked stairs. It was rad, The wife kept cringing and freaking out thinking that we were going to drop her stuff. No she didn't think we would get hurt.. just her things. I also had the great opportunity to put Christmas Lights on a 20 foot tall cactus. Yes that is right. people in Arizona decorate the cacti in their front yards. I even took one for the team and got stabbed in the knee by like 9 thorns. Needless to say that I felt like a stud and then went home and cried as I slowly pulled them out of my knee.

The weather here has been absolutely insane. It's like 32 degrees in the morning with a high of about 55 degrees. Who knew that it would ever get that cold in Arizona? Cause I most certainly did not. Thank goodness for my family for sending me a sweet jacket. Literally saved my life. It makes me miss the days when it was 120 degrees and I was dying of heat exhaustion. It does however make it feel more like Christmas so that is a plus.

This week we have had to give two different investigators over to other wards because they don't live in our ward boundaries.We taught both of them all the way up until the actual baptism and then just like that they were gone. It's okay though because the work is still moving forward and I am still helping to bring people closer to Christ. There will never be any sadness in my heart after having to give them up. I just love to teach. I don't care who it is. As long as I get to teach them I will be satisfied. This work is so real and so wonderful. Don't ever underestimate your testimonies and the power that they have. Share them and they will touch the lives of those that hear them. I guarantee it.

Well I love you all so much and cannot wait to see what this week holds in store for me. Keep up the faith and never lose the ground that you already do have. Just have hope for a brighter future to help you get through the struggles that you have today.

Elder Cole Safford

Me vs. Giant Cactus


Oh happy day...night

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Peoria week 2 *December 2, 2013

Hello people,

What an exciting week this has been! We have been doing a ton of work here in my new area and the members are really starting to get a hang of the whole concept of member missionary work. Every week we have at least 2 lessons in church all about missionary work and how to do it. They even have created an entire class all about the book "the power of everyday missionaries". It is so crazy to be apart of this great work at this great time. I know that I have been called to Arizona now for a reason. I know that I was called here to see the work of the Lord take off and to be with the missionaries around me and the members in this area. I know that if we all just open our mouths and proclaim the gospel truths that we know, we can work miracles in peoples lives. Trust the Lord and put your faith in Him. If you pray for specific chances to have missionary opportunities they will come. I know this because I have tried it. You do not need to be a missionary to allow the spirit to prompt you and your actions. The better you recognize those promptings the more the Lord will give them to you.

This week we had Thanksgiving. I mean I know all of you that are reading this did as well but I still had it and it was great. We went over to a family in the ward named the Snow's and we had a huge fantastic Thanksgiving dinner and party. They invited a bunch of non member friends and we were able to just talk and mingle and share a little about the gospel without things getting too weird. I even got to see pictures of my family because sister Snow is now friends with my mother! Its amazing! I cannot believe that I got to see them on that family holiday. It made the whole day. After that dinner we got to go to another dinner and another dinner and then a dessert at the mission presidents house while we put up Christmas lights and their tree. Needless to say that I did not have to eat food for like 2 days after. But its all good because I have not had any Thanksgiving leftover dinner since, Thank gosh.

I have come to the realization that missionary work is not all about just teaching investigators and baptizing them. But you can do so much more by opening up to the members of the ward and to less active families and to people that just need some service done for them. It is remarkable how satisfying it can be to just help people see that we are normal people who are willing to give up our time to help them. I love serving people now. Christmas lights are a major one that we got to do this week. It is weird how the Lord can soften your heart and help you to see the blessings that come from serving people. I did not like to do service at all before my mission and now I love it. We got to go to a baptism for two 8 year olds in our ward because the families invited non member friends. While we were there a lady walks in and asks to talk with us. She was sobbing and said that she was driving by and saw the church and just knew that she needed to come inside to get a blessing of comfort. She was a less active of about 30 years and was having family issues. I was so thankful for the opportunity I had to be worthy enough to give that blessing to her. I know the Lord put us at that baptism for that specific reason.

I have really come to find out just how judgmental I used to be. I used to not give people the time of day depending on what they looked like or what they acted like. Since meeting tons of people on my mission I have come to realize just how off my initial thoughts on a person were and most of the time still are. It is so great to get to know someone and have them trust you enough to just completely open up to you and allow the spirit to guide you in what to say to them. The spirit knows everyone perfectly. It knows what we all need and exactly how we need to receive it.

I know that I still have a long way to come as far as my progression both spiritually and physically, but this week I have been able to see just how far I have come. It is a huge blessing and I hope I can just keep building and getting closer to the person the Lord needs me to be.

Until next week,

Elder Cole Safford

Monday, November 25, 2013

Peoria week 1 *November 25, 2013

Hey there,

This week has been a roller coaster of thoughts and emotions. On Wednesday night we got a call from President Taylor and he said that there was some situation in and area and he needed me to pack up my things and be ready to go in the morning. I was okay with leaving because I know that this is what the Lord needs me to do and he trusts me enough to do it. But at the same time I was super bummed to have to leave all the families that I have grown so close to love. I was able to call three of them and let them know how much they meant to me but it was really surprisingly hard to do. It is true that you don't know what you have until it is gone. That's how it was for me and the area I served in. I didn't realize just how much the people meant to me until i had to leave them all without even saying goodbye. The other thing was my companion Elder Clay. Even though he bugged the crud out of me sometimes I really had come to appreciate all he did and all he was. It was hard to say goodbye to him after knowing him for just two weeks. But all is well and I know that this is the way it is supposed to be.

My new companion is Elder Zaugg (its like dog with a Z) and he has been out for just 5 months. He has been in this area for only two weeks so it is pretty difficult to get around because he has little to no idea of where people live. Thank goodness for our new iPads with maps on them haha He is a great elder and really works hard. Our area is quite large and has a big hill right smack dab in the middle of it so anytime we want to go to the other side of the area, which is like five times a day, we have to ride up and down this hill. Pardon my french but they have named the hill "hell hill". I personally don't think its all that bad but its pretty funny to see Elder Zaugg struggle up it every time. I am excited to be in this new ward though. There are so many rich people here it is insane! Every house we go into is like a mansion! I honestly don't know how these people have so much money. The ward is very missionary minded and working hard to move the work of the Lord forward. A little side note is that this is the same ward that President and Sister Taylor are in. Yes my mission president and his wife are in the ward that I am serving in! Kinda freaked me out at first but I am semi okay with it now.

My new house is pretty rad. It is actually a casita behind a members home. I am only the fourth missionary to stay in it so it's all nice and new. The town is very nice so we just leave our bikes out front on the patio and leave the door unlocked 24/7. Much different from my last area hahah Its great though. The members that live at the house are semi active and semi not so we don't really interact all too much. They are kind though so that's a plus.

Funny story about this week. It started to rain on Thursday which was the first day that I got to this new area and it didn't stop raining until Sunday morning! The rain was not the bad thing. The bad thing was that I didn't have a single sweater or jacket to wear. Since I was transfered so suddenly the jacket my parents sent to the mission office is now waiting for me to pick it up in my old area! They need to shuffle some things around and I should get it within the next week. but it's okay because one of the members went out
and bought me a sweater. Super nice of them. On top of it being wet it is just about 50 degrees here. Kinda different from 120 degrees!

I really do love the mission and do love the people in this new area already. The saints everywhere you go will open up their arms and embrace the missionaries so I feel right at home already. I will do ever thing in my power to push the work forward here and help others to come unto Christ. Don't ever forget to simply pray to your Father in Heaven because he can help you with whatever you need. I have gained a much stronger testimony of prayer this past week. well I love you all so much. Keep moving forward.

Me and my new companion Elder Zaugg

Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Glendale week 14 *November 18, 2013

Hola! (thats spanish for hello)
The weeks are going by and I am finally feeling like I am getting the hang of things. I feel a lot more comfortable with the teaching and I find joy now in talking with complete strangers. I think that I like talking with strangers for the experiences that I normally have and not exactly for the purpose of inviting them to Christ so I need to still work a bit on that. As far as the teaching is going, I think I have found my stride. It all flows so easily and it is a lot of fun to see people light up when they feel the spirit and know that what you are testifying is true. The gospel is amazing I tell you. People think that it is so complex and hard to understand, but in all reality, once you find out that the Book of Mormon is the word of God and that Joseph Smith was a true prophet of God then all other things fall into place. It truly is the keystone of our religion. Read it. It will change your life. I have come to the realization of that over the past couple of months and I cannot wait to keep learning for the rest of my life.
This week was a bit unusual because for the first time we actually taught a bunch of lessons. I know that may sound bad but it is true. I finally have been able to do what I came to Arizona to do and that is to teach the Restored Gospel to anyone that will listen. People here are funny. The most common thing that I find is people want to be blunt and straight with you but they still beat around the bush or go into third person mode and say "well thats not what others think". I still know that they just want to say that they dont believe what I am teaching but they are just too scared so it is pretty funny. I get a good chuckle out of it. For the most part the people that we continually teach are interested but when the time comes to commit to coming to church or being baptized they pull back. We are still trying to figure out how to come around that obstacle, but it is still good to teach people and plant those seeds of truth and a little bit of knowledge.
Life has been going real swell here in AZ. The weather is just absolutly great and the ward members are just full of support. There has never been a dull day in the whole time that I have been here. I am laughing everyday and making memories that will last a lifetime. It is pretty funny because everytime we go to someones house they always without fail ask how long we each have been out. I am excited to say 4 months but Elder Clay just says "a little over a year". He will not accept that he is coming to an end of his mission. I always bring up the fact that he has only six months left snd he gets pretty mad. Its quite funny.
Rad story time. Laying in bed a couple of mornings ago we hear a knock at the front door. We are not expecting anyone because its 6:30 in the morning. We grab some clothes and rush to the front to door to see who is disturbing our peace at this hour. We open the door and there is no one there. Then all of a sudden a man comes around the corner. He introduces himself. His name is Matt. He then says and I quote "I need the Holy Ghost." Yes thats what this man says at 6:30 in the morning. We were so shocked. I think it must have shown on our faces  because he then starts to give us his phone number and information and tells us to give him a call and set up a teaching appointment. So the day goes on and we give him a call later that night. He says he wants to meet on Sunday at the church. Really?! Okay!! Then he call us back no more then 2 minutes later and asks what time church was at. We tell him and he said he would be there! WHAT!? I automatically thought he was messing with us! But come Sunday morning here walks in Matt at 8:30. He is fantastic. Wants us to teach him and I am thinking he wants to be baptized but we dont know yet. Pretty crazy right?
Well that is all for this week folks. I love you all and appreciate each and every one of you. Keep the faith and keep moving forward. There is more to this life if you just go out and find it. Be adventurous.

My new companion Elder Clay

Look what we got!!
Yup. Just like home!

Elder Cole Christopher Safford

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Glendale week 13 *November 12 2013

Hello there,
This week has been full of changes because it was transfer week. Since I was being trained last time transfers rolled around I did not have to worry at all about getting a new companion or figuring out if I was going to move areas. Going into Wednesday I knew that I was going to stay in the area but I also knew that I was going to get a new companion. Yikes! I was so nervous because I didn't know what to expect or who I would get. The meeting started and President Taylor started to call off peoples names and their new companions. The time came to hear my New companions name and it is Elder Nathan Clay.
Elder Clay is from Axton, Virgina and he is 21. He has been out for almost 18 months now so he has a little better of an understanding of how he likes to do missionary work. He has his head on straight and works really hard. He has his faults and things that he is continually trying to work on but for the most part we get along pretty well. He talks about 100 times more then my last companion so at times it is pretty annoying to be around him but he knows the doctrine and how to present it to people we come in contact with. He is a full blown country hick with a super thick accent and everything. It is so funny to hear him talk with people and them try to understand what he is trying to say. I know that the Lord has put us together for a reason and that I need to learn somthing from him so I try to listen and absorb all I can. This companionship is going to try me and is going to push me to the limits but it will be a great learning experience and a great adventure.
I have been working really hard in this area to help it take off and it is finally starting to show signs of doing just that. I have been able to teach a lot more people and help those I come in contact with build their understanding of God and the role he should play in their lives. I know this gospel is there for everyone and I know that there are people here that need it in their lives I just have to go out and find them. The spirit is contstantly putting thoughts in my head of where to go and when I actually listen to them the experience is amazing. I have been tried and tested and I know that the spirit in me has grown from actually listening to its promptings. At times I feel like I am all alone in this work and that God is not there to help me just when I need him the most. But I need to remember the teacher is always quiet durning the test and if I push forward with faith the blessings will be that much greater.
One day while we were walking down the street a group of Native Americans yelled at us to come over and "preach" to them. So naturally we rode on over and started to talk to them about the gospel. They were all drunk as skunks and didnt really have an interest in anything that we had to say. One lady told me that she was Catholic. I said that that was great and she quickly rebuked me saying that it wasn't. I asked nicely if she didnt like to be Catholic and she yelled at me face to face about how much she loved being Catholic. I was so confused and didnt know what to say hahaha She asked me to pray for her so thats what we did. Right there in the middle of the road. Stood in a circle holding hands with drunk indians praying for them. It was quite an adventure!
I know this gospel is true and that the Lord really does know each of us and answers our prayers. I love this mission and all the people I talk to... even the drunk indians.
Thank you for the love and support.
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Friday, November 8, 2013

Glendale week 12 *November 4, 2013

Hello everyone!
Well this week was a great one! There was a ton of new things that are being implemented into the mission. The biggest one has to be the iPad. Yes that is correct. Apple iPads. I never thought it would ever happen on my mission but they have come and they are wonderfully frustrating. It is so difficult to go from just being able to pull out a planner real quick and jot stuff down to now have to go through all sorts of apps and passwords just to put a simple note in. I know that they will turn out to be a blessing in the future, but for a little while they will be frustrating. There is an app that is a digital version of our daily planners which holds all the information all about the area, lessons we teach, people we talk to, members and investigators. Its going to be really great to have all of that information right at my figure tips, but in order to have that we need to input it all in. That has to be the most time consuming part of the whole process. I know that if we are diligent at entering it we can have it done in a relatively short amount of time.
Halloween came and went. Nothing great there. As a missionary they want you to be inside your apartment by 6:00 so that people dont confuse you as a kid dressed up like a missionary haha. It totally made sense so we went and had a sleep over at the zone leaders apartment. It was really nice to have a break from the work and get to just hangout as friends and as guys. We were still very obedient but we got to play some board games and talk about life. It was the most relaxing halloween I have ever had haha
This week is transfer week and we literally just got the news as to who is being transfered. My trainer Elder Pettingill is being transfered away which means that I am going to get a new companion.... Thats going to be a whole new adventure. Let me tell you. I have no idea who it is going to be and frankly I am not all worried because whatever happens is part of the Lords plan for me and I am just going to make the most of it. I know the Lord knows me and my needs. He knows what I still need to learn and just who can help me do that. I really love the area I am in and the people that live within it. It is going to be really great to get to stay with them and help them come closer to Christ anyway I can.
The weather is getting way better and it is no wonder why people live in Arizona at all. It is for this season and the weather it brings. The mornings are brisk and cool and very refreshing. It is perfect for morning excersise!
There have not been too many crazy experiences this week due to all the meetings that we have had but I am sure I will have a ton to talk about next week. Until then,
Elder Cole Safford
My buddy Charlie

The new iPad

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Glendale week 11 *October 28, 2013

This week has been very interesting to say the least. For whatever reason the work here seems to be slowing down as far as "numbers" go but the spirit has never been stronger. It's really strange. I have been working harder then ever to be obedient and so has my companion but the lessons have just kinda stopped. We have been contacting so many people on the streets and trying to plant as many seed as we can. We have had some great experiences and I have seen the Lords hand in the work that is being performed here. Like it says time and time again in the scriptures, God has His own timetable and things will happen when He sees fit. That concept has had more meaning to me lately because I am finding it to really be true. We will not have very much success one day so we will stop and say a prayer to know where to go and who to talk to then one of us will have a name pop into our head of a person that needs us. As we ride over to that persons home we will stop to talk to a random stranger on the road and will have an awesome conversation all about them and helping them come closer to Jesus Christ through His gospel. We will then continue riding to the original person we thought of and they wont even be there. I know that that persons name came to us because the Lord knew which route we would take to get there and who would be in our path. It is a great moment when you stop, think and then realize just what you were a part of.
As of lately I have trying to study the Book of Mormon from the beginning because I really want to gain a better understanding of the stories and examples of those that have come before us. Each time I go to read I always pray to have the Holy Ghost to be with me so that I may understand the words which I will read and be able to relate them to not only myself but also the people I come in contact with everyday. The spirit bares witness to me everytime exactly what I need to read or hear. Its really neat to be able to read a passage that I have read 10 times before and to catch a simple word that changes the entire meaning of the verse. It has been a really big growing experience. I have come to love the scriptures so much more and I can now understand why they are the pure vessel of the spirit. All I have to do now is figure out how to get people to read and ponder them for themselves. That will be the best!
This week coming up is the last week of my training! I cannot belive that it has already gone by this fast. I am so excited to take the next step on my mission but at the same time I don't want to leave these people that I have come to love. Its a cruddy situation but I know that its meant to be if I do get moved. I know that there are people all over this great state that need my voice. I just have to have the faith to go out and find them. I will find out what happens this coming weekend. If I am training a new missionary I will find out on Saturday, if I am going to be a leader of any sort I will find out next Monday, and if I am being transfered then I will find out next Tuesday. But I am not too worried because I just want to go on as many adventures as possible and every area, companion, and assignment is an adventure.
I love you all a ton and keep you in my prayers constantly. Keep moving the work of the Lord forward and trusting in Gods plan for you.
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Walking the streets during the day
Working the streets at night

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Glendale week 10 *October 21, 2013

Why hello there!
This week has been fantastic. The end of my training is coming up really fast and I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel. I keep talking with missionaries who have been out for a while to get there take on how the time spent with their trainers went compared to my experience. And I can honestly say that I have had the perfect trainer for me. He is the exact missionary that needed to be here for when I came on my mission to Arizona of all places. He has shaped the rest of my mission for me. Whether he agrees that he did a great job or not I know that I would not be where I am today without him. Sure we had our differences but we have worked through those no problem. We have to be the most opposite people on the face of the earth but as far as missionary work goes we have the same goal in mind: to be the best missionary that WE can possibly be. We have not seen too much literal success but that does not mean that we are not giving it our best effort everyday. We have really looked deep into ourselves this week to find out what we need to change so that the Lord gives us the success that we so desire. They say that the Lord does not bless you until the trial of your faith and that is exactly what these past 3 months have been. A trial. But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that my faith is way stronger and my testimony is more firm because of it. I continue to learn how to further my trust in His plan for me and for my life. He really does know each of us better then we can ourselves at the moment.
I have had the opportunity to go on an exchange with a zone leader named Elder Knabbe. He has been out on his mission now for 21 months so I was excited to pick his brain on how to do certain things and just to ask him questions about his experiences so far. The day went really well and I was able to ask him a ton of questions. He is a great missionary that cares a lot about all people that he comes in contact with. He showed me what it means to become as Christlike as possible while out here. At the end of the night we do a little inventory to see how the day went and see how I as a newer missionary am doing. He had nothing but good things to say about me and the area that I am serving. It really built my confidence to hear someone that I look up to so much tell me how great he thinks I am doing. I am no where near where I want to end up but I am closer today then I was yesturday and will continue to grow all the time.
One of the biggest things that I am trying to work on is talking with everyone that I see on the streets. It is really scary to just walk up to a complete stranger and try to talk with them about the gospel. But I know that the Lord is putting people in our paths evryday who are seeking peace and comfort in their lives. If I dont take the time or make the effort to talk with people, then I will ride right past someone that needs the truth that I bare witness of. We have been able to see the fruits of our efforts in just this past week alone compared to all other weeks of my mission. We have had a ton of cool experiences (that I have recorded in my journal) that have really made this week fun. I have found that the crazy stories I have from my mission and most of the stories that other missionaries tell you almost all come from talking with everyone. So with that knowlege I am trying to do that so I too can have these expiriences haha But also to bring people closer to Christ of course.
That is all for this week. I know that the Savior lives and that His atonement applys to all of us if we will just reach out and ask for it. I know that we have a Father in heaven who cares about us and stands ready to bless us if we put forth out best effort to make it on our own first. Dont ever forget that He is there. When times get rough or you just need help finding your lost keys turn to the one that has ALL the answers. He will answer you. I love you all and think about everything that you have done for my life so far. Keep building up the kingdom of God in your own ways.
My nightly chocolate milk

A drawing we made in our apartment
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Glendale week 9 *October 14, 2013

Hey everyone!
Things are looking up out here in the mission field. I dont think that there was a huge change as far as the actual work I have been doing but there was a change in my attitude and the attitude of my companion. There is always a way to judge missionaries to see if they are being successful and that is by their "numbers". Which means the number of lessons they have taught, the number of investigators found, the number of referalls and of course the number of people baptized. For the bulk of my mission so far these numbers have not been all that high and I finally could not help but to become discouraged. At that very moment the thought of my family popped into my head. I began to think about all the blessings that have come to them since my desicion to serve a mission. I realized that everything they tell you about our Father in Heaven and prayer is absolutley true. Of this I am sure. He really does hear all of your prayers and does want to bless you in the ways you ask. But the thing about God that I have not really noticed until now is that He does not do things in the way that you want Him to. He will bless you in the ways that you need it most because He know all of us perfectly and knows how we need His help in our lives. I am really grateful for Him and for this new found knowledge.
The way that I have come to measure success is not by the numbers that we have put up on the board that week but by the number of lives that we have been able to touch. I know that numbers show the work that is going on in the area but I dont think that they are the best way to judge success. People have agency and can choose to accept the message that we share with them or not. We could talk to 100 people in one week all about their lives and how God can bless them and report in that we taught zero actual lessons. Does that mean that we failed that week? No. I dont think so in the least. The seeds that we plant in peoples lives will one day be harvested by future missionaries. We cannot reap if we do not first sow.
We have been trying hard to progress the missionary work among the ward members because they know their neighbors and the people that could benefit from the gospel. There is a particular family that has really blessed my life. Their name is the Evans. The husband is a convert and he was coverted after marrying sister Evans. They have a fire inside of them to share the gospel and the blessings that have been brought into their lives. It is such a motivation to me to be better because they are so willing to go out of their way to talk with people they come in contact with and I'm over here like I am a missionary and will probably never see half of these people again so why not share the gospel. Cause if they reject it I just move on and try again. The Evans told Elder Pettingill and I the other night just how big of an impact we have made in not only their lives but also the ward missionary effort. I am not telling you this to brag about how awesome I am but I say it to show you how loving people in all aspects changes their view of you. I have been worjking really hard at outwardly expressing the love I have for all people here in Arizona because I was not very good at it when I was home. I know for a fact that no effort is wasted and every good thing we say to people will not go overlooked. We really are being watched every minute and even a simple smile can go a long way. Never give up on people and always share your love. Dont bottle it up because it does no one any good.
The weather here is changing so rapidly! Just the other day we woke up to go work out in the morning and it was raining and 60 degrees. I didnt even bring a jacket with me so I was a bit chilly haha. But it is so pretty when its not raining. The air is so crisp and wonderful. I love it. I know that I will be needing some cold weather gear in the near future which I never thought would be a possibility. On the plus side its supposed to be under 90 all this week so I wont be sweating all day long! Thats a real plus. I am finally starting to see why anyone in their right mind would ever live in this barren dessert. The secret is the winter season.
Well I love you all and I cannot wait to tell you about next week. Life is what you make of it so go out there and make it an adventure. Write your experiences down because one day we will all be too old and senile to remember them

. Take too many pictures!
Until next week,
Elder Cole Safford

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Glendale week 8 *October 7, 2013

Hello everyone!
Another week in the books. It is really crazy how much goes on in one week out in the mission field. Everyday is jam packed from sun up to sun down of great things. I mean it does seem like we do the same types of things everyday but then again they are all so different. Different people, different lessons, and different experiences to write about. The good news is that I have so far been good about keeping up a daily journal and have already seen the benefits from it. I have found that there are things I am learning now that I would have taken way longer to learn in the "real" world of an 18 year old kid. There will always be good moments and bad moments our whole lives so seeing those on a mission is not out of the ordinary. But there is a problem when you stop working and stand still to dwell on them. Move forward. Keep going because everyday will have good in it if you look for it. Make the memories you want to remeber and talk about.
I had the great opportunity to go on exchanges for the day with another elder that has been out just as long as I have. He is a really great young man so I was excited to get to work with him. I had to stay in my area while Elder Pettingill went over to this elders area to work with his companion. I was not too stoked about this considering I didnt feel ready to take on the area all by myself but I just had to give it my best. It turns out that I actually was more prepared to do it then I thought. The day went really great and we taught a couple of lessons and just had an overall awesome day. At the end of the day the elder commented on how good of a job I did at taking over the area. It was a huge confidence builder to see that an elder that started at the same time as me was able to see the difference I had made and how ready I am to be the senior missionary. I know that I still have a long way to go and I am really excited to see and learn as much as I can. I dont ever want to stop progressing or learning. I just have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and move forward.
I had another really growing experience this week. There was an elder who had been out in Arizona for a week and he had to spend the day with Elder Pettingill and me. even though he was 18 he seemed kind of immature. By the end of the day I told Elder Pettingill that a lot of what he did and said was kind of annoying. Then I was given a huge piece of humble pie when Elder Pettingill said that I acted the exact same way my first week out here. I was like WHAT?! Holy crud I dont know how Elder Pettingill put up with me. I took a step back and realized that we are all growing constantly and at different rates. We need to be accepting of everyone and their differences. I guess that without noticing it I have become a different person. Dont get me wrong I am still the same Cole that left but just a little more mature and I have learned what to say and do in certain situations. There is a time and a place for everything and I think that the key to being mature and acting as an effective missionary is to know when those specific times are. Like I said before and will continue to say for a long time to come I have a long way to go. I wont ever lose who I am but I will refine myself and become the best that I personally can be.
General Conference was awesome! It was super weird though to hear the people saying in their prayers to pray for missionaries around the world. I was like hey thats me! The talks were all super great! I think they have taken on a whole new meaning to me because I am not only listening to learn for myself but to also help the people in Arizona. I took away from the conference in a whole that times are going to get really bad pretty soon. We need to build up our faith so that we can resist anything the advisary throws at us. There are multiple paths that we can take to get to the Celestial kingdom but the best path we can ever take is the one that allows us to bless those around us and help them make it as well.
I love all of you and will continue to think about just how much you have all blessed my life so far. Stay strong and keep moving forward.
Until next week.
Elder Cole Safford

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Glendale week 6 *September 23, 2013

Hey everyone!
This week has been a really big learning experience for me.  We have been working extra hard to be the best purpose driven missionaries that we can and the Lord was able to turn peoples hearts toward Him and allow us to be there at the right moment to witness that change.
We have really been trying to talk to as many people on the streets as we can and these very rarely turn into anything extraordinary but just spreading those seeds is a great way to help the work move along. One night we were on our way out of a lesson and we had the impression to go and swing by the local supermarket to try and street contact some people. We locked up our bikes and saw a lady standing there waiting for her 5 gallon water container to fill up. She was all alone so we asked her if we could carry it to her car for her. She said yes and we started to talk. She told us that her husband was out of town and she was really nervous as to how she was going to get the water to her car. She also told us that her father and brother both recently passed away and she was having a hard time with them being gone. We were able to teach her right then and there about the plan of salvation and she said that she would be willing to have us over to teach her more once she talked it over with her husband. I know the Lord put that situation in front of us and if we had not just stopped to ask her if she needed help then we could have missed it.
There is a "do not contact" list of less active memebers in the ward and we try to go and stop by at least one of these a week because the Lord softens peoples hearts over time and sometimes we can just happen to be there knocking at their door. Anyways, we have tried this particular family for like the past 6 months and they have never answered the door. We went and knocked on there door and boom. We got in and had a 30 minute conversation with them all about his mission and her obsession with Halloween. haha It was really cool to be able to see them open up and talk with us like we were normal people. Most people are afraid to talk with missionaries because they think we are trying to sell something. But its just the opposite. We are normal people with somthing very special to give away free!
I want everyone to go and read Ether 6:1-10 and learn all about how trials in our lives are really just Gods way of stengthening us. He will never throw anything at us that we cant handle. All we need is is a little faith and a determination to do all we can before we just go to him helplessly. This has answered so many questions for me and I know it will help some of you.
On a lighter note I have found out that E. Pettingill has no balance whatsoever. We try most of the time to ride on the side walk next to eachother. Almost everytime he manages to go off the side walk and smash through the bushes and whatever is in his path. Its so funny to see his huge legs trying to spread out and balance himself mid fall. Now he has added a new element to his bicycle riding... Taking pictures while riding. We made it a goal to take as many pictures as we can so that we always remember the great moments we have but its so funny because he makes the most serious faces all the time. I have had to yell at him to just laugh and have a good time. He likes to be very serious and mature but I have a way to bring the kid out in him and its so much more fun to be around that version of him.
I love you all so much and cannot wait to tell you all about my adventures next week.

Until next time
Elder Cole Safford

Glendale week 7 *September 30, 2013

Hey everyone!
What's going on? Everything here is going really great. It is a bit tough because we are not seeing the "success" that I would like to be seeing but we are seeing big changes happen everyday in ourselves, the ward and those people that we come in contact with. The Lord really does have a plan for all of us. I want you all to know that. He is there for us all the time and is putting both people and things in our path to help us grow spiritually, emotionally and physically. I have been learning a ton about myself over these past 2 months that I know for a fact would not have happened if not for me making the leap of faith and serving the Lord on a mission. At first I thought that it was just going to be all hunky-dory and I would just float around on a cloud bringing people to Christ because that is all you hear about from returned missionaries. You only hear the great times that they had or the spiritual experiences that go on in this chapter of their lives. I didnt have an older sibling that went on a mission to learn from so I had this image of a mission in my head. Let me be the first to tell you that although my days are filled with great things there are still plenty of trials that I go through physically but maybe even more in my own head. I have found that I am getting in the way of the Lord working miracles through me. My head is in the way and I try to think about things that dont matter. I have come to the conclusion after hearing the quote "Lose yourself and go to work" a 1,000 times that that is EXACTLY what I have to do. I am glad that I have figured it out this early so that I still have plenty of time to make the necessary changes.
I have always been a pretty curious person and I love asking the seasoned missionaries questions about their time out here in Arizona so I can better my own mission experience. I believe that every missionary has different trials and they all need to figure different things out. My missions is the most physically, emotionally, and spritually demanding thing that I have ever tried to do because you are constantly looking for ways to better yourself so that you are not the reason for someone not hearing about the gospel. It is a wonderful blessing to have the spirit with you so strong all the time. It makes self evaluation very easy and useful. I have a long way to come but I can already see a change in the way I see others, the way I talk to others and the way that I act. I now know why you only hear about the good things from returned missionaries. Its because the good things outweigh the bad things 10 to 1. I am so thankful for the opportunity I have to talk about the gospel so openly and freely. I truly see the difference in my life because of it.
I am also very thankful for the priesthood which I hold and the ability to administer blessings. Today we had the great opportunity to give a blessing of comfort to a lady whose father had passed away last night. He lived in Bolivia and this woman could not afford to fly back there to see him. She could not see her own father be buried and that really was hard for her. We went over to her house with our Bishop and he gave the most beautiful and comforting blessing I have ever heard. The spirit was SO strong and I was glad I was worthy enough to stand in that circle and be apart of it.
Thank you all for the love and support. It really means a lot to me. I also want to publicly share how much I love my family! They are my whole world and I know without a doubt that I would not be the person I am today without them. My mom writes me a letter every week without fail and let me tell you, those letters along with all the other letters that people have written me are my most cherished possesions out here on my mission. I love reading them and they make me feel that I am doing some good for people back home without actually being there.

Until next week. Adios!
Elder Cole Safford
Beautiful Arizona sunset
High waisted sweats and dress shoes. Nice.

That's one big cactus!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Glendale week 5 *September 16, 2013

Hey everyone. At the very beginning of the week I had the opportunity to go to a trainer/trainee meeting with the whole Arizona, Phoenix mission. Which means that any new elder that came out in my group or any elder that came out a 6 weeks before that met together to talk about how things have been going so far in our missions and our personal experiences that have made big impacts on us. It was really great because I got to see all of the elders in my MTC district and talk to them about how they are doing and how their trainers are and everything. The whole meeting was all focused on companionship unity and being able to talk with your companion about whatever it is that is on your mind and how he can help you. Considering that I am an open book and tell my companion EVERYTHING it was cool to see the other elders and to hear their stories. E. Pettingill took from that meeting that he really wants to work on wearing his heart on his sleeve and sharing it with everyone. I could see a huge change in him as he started to talk about things and get them off his chest. He has high expectations for himself and tends to bottle emotions up inside so seeing him just let it out was great.

I have so much fun with him! We are a great companionship and really good for each other. We are constantly laughing and making jokes and really working well together. He knows the gospel and I talk to people with love so it works out great. He thinks of himself as my bigger brother so he is always trying to pick on me but I am pretty buff so I intimidate him with my large muscles haha Good news is though that I have gotten him stoked about drawing and he does it all the time now whenever we have time. He just sits and doodles and makes little note cards with inspiring thoughts on them. He is getting really good!

 The priesthood has taken a large role in my life since coming on a mission. You don't need it to do missionary work (sisters are a testament to that) but you get the opportunity to use it with so many investigators and less actives who need blessing or other ordinances that we can perform. I had the wonderful opportunity to give two blessings this past week to less active members of the ward. The spirit that you feel is so strong and I love doing them. At first I was really nervous but after the first one I am confident the spirit would guide me through them all from now on. I am learning how to use my words in such a way that they bring peace and joy to those who hear them and the spirit makes that all possible. I have to really think before I speak because I am so excited to talk sometimes the words that just come out make zero sense. But I am getting better and E. Pettingill really help me out in that area.

 I have come to the realization that this gospel is very hard to teach if you dont have a basic understanding of the principles. I know that they are true and now I am just really working on developing a greater understanding of them so that I can teach them very simply and powerfully. Its great to see the progress based on how easy it has become to teach certain aspects of the gospel. I have a long way to go but I have my whole life to continually learn and grow. Thank you all for the love and support that you are giving me through emails and letters. It is fantastic to open up the mail box and see a letter addressed to me hahaha I love it.

 Until next week.
 Elder Cole Safford

Glendale week 4 *September 9, 2013

Hey everyone! This week has been full of appointments and lessons and talking with our investigators. Not much has gone on besides that stuff but it has been really great. We did get this one new investigator from a referral from a recently returned missionary in our ward named Michael. He has a co-worker named Yarillea (pronounced Yadi.. dont ask me how haha) and she has been asking him questions for quite some time about the gospel. One day he just said that he knew of two young men that would love to talk to her all about the gospel and answer any questions that she had. Needless to say that the next day we were over at Michaels house having lunch with Yarillea and talking about the Gospel. We taught her all about the Restoration of the Church and the Plan of Salvation. She was so ready to hear our message and just soaked up everything like a sponge it was CRAZY! We extended the commitment to read the Book of Mormon and to pray to know the truth and she accepted. Then the spirit testified to both Elder Pettingill and I to invite her to be baptized at the beginning of October. I knew we should ask her so out the words came and then she accepted! It was so cool to see the spirit light up her eyes and to feel how ready she was. I know the Lord had been preparing her to receive the message and we were obedient enough to share it with her.

 I had the great opportunity to go to the Mesa Temple on Saturday to witness the Crandell family make their eternal family just a little bit bigger. They adopted four new kids Sonny 13 Ammon 5, Aaron 5, and Charlie 3. I had been anxiously waiting for this day to come all week not solely for the sealing but also so I could go inside the temple and feel the great spirit that is there. The moment that I stepped foot inside the Temple the most immaculate of feelings came over me and the spirit bore witness that I am of worthy nature to be in the Temple and to witness the family bond become an Eternal one. Each moment I spend in the Temple is another that I grow closer to my Father in heaven and having the feelings that I will feel as I live with my own family for Eternity. The peace I feel is indescribable. It has taken a whole new meaning to me as I try to help people come to the Temple and feel the way I do. The Lord beareth witness to me through the spirit as I walk down these hallowed halls of the truthfulness of the gospel.

Those have been to two highlights of my week and I have just been moving along and continually having fun and making the best out of every situation. I know this is where I am supposed to be and I know that the Lord needs me to do His work. I love missionary work and the adventure that I am on. Thank you for the constant support and love. Till next time.

 Love Elder Cole Safford

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Glendale week 3 *September 3, 2013

Hey everyone,

Another week gone by and I have no idea where it actually went. I think that that’s how it is going to be from now on. There are so many great moments that make all the hard times seem like nothing and after a little while I am able to just brush them off and move forward.

This week we had Zone Conference, which happens every 3 months so it was cool that I was able to go to it within my first month here. I find that I feel most at home when I am surrounded by missionaries who are going through the same trials and experiences that I am going through. I know that everyone is a different missionary and member of the church, but it is comforting to see that so many teens are trying to grow closer to the Lord through service. The main focus of the conference was how our faith is used to find the principles behind all the rules of the mission and the principles that God has given to us. You really have to want to have a desire to be better and closer to you father in heaven. As this wanting grows your ability to put action behind your words increases. If you have more faith, you will have more success. Plain and simple. Whether that is being a missionary, a parent or a youth in the gospel, as your faith increases so will your success in following the commandments of God. As we learn to humble ourselves and let the Lord take us by the hand and lead us in our time of trials, our faith in his help grows and we build upon the light we have.

A little bonus to the conference was the announcement that our mission will be going online to use Facebook as an online proselyting tool. We are in the process of making profiles and cleaning up our personal Facebook pages. It is going to be so cool to teach people from all over the world and people back home. I cannot wait to broaden my horizon and really talk to people that I was too scared to talk to before about the gospel. It’s a huge blessing but at the same time a very big temptation for wasting time each day living back home through the posts of my friends. I am up for the challenge though.

I have really discovered the importance we all have in being missionaries to the people in our lives. There is more to being a member of this church than just being an example to those around us. We all really need to look within ourselves and find enough love to serve other people and share with them the joy the gospel has brought to our life and the life of our family. This gospel is more than a Sunday religion. It is an everyday thing and we have to strive to always teach people about it or at least help the missionaries in your ward know of the people that you feel would benefit from the message they have been set apart to share.

Hearing stories from men in the ward that have served missions has really helped me to realize the importance of obedience.  Some of their experiences show just how bad a situation can get if you are not being obedient all the time and listening to the promptings of the spirit. I don’t want to look back on my mission with regret in my heart because all I ever did was "knock and walk". There is never a situation that we cannot change or make happen if we truly want to.

I have reached the point where the newness of my mission has worn off and I am ready to get down to work. I am becoming more in tune with the spirit and finding new ways to lose myself in the great work everyday. I keep asking myself if I was all alone would I truly serve the Lord how I am now or am I doing it just because I want my companion to believe that I am trying to be a great missionary. Its really challenging to stay focused all the time, especially for me, but I am working really hard, because I know it will help with everything I want to accomplish on my mission and for the rest of my life.

The weather here in Arizona has been so great!! All last week was a little humid during the day and the sky full of huge billowing white clouds but as the sun started to go down the heavens opened up and poured down the most rain I have ever seen in such a short period of time. There is Lightning that lights up the whole sky and deep thunder rolling everywhere. Its so much fun to be out riding to or from an appointment when it hits and just getting soaked haha

This next Saturday Elder Pettingill and I have the great opportunity to go to the Mesa temple to witness a sealing session of a member family. The Crandells have just adopted 4 new kids and the oldest one they adopted just got baptized right before I came out. They now have 8 kids so the sealing rooms should be packed. It will be a great experience! One I am sure I will never forget.

Apparently my favorite primary song is Happy Birthday... at least that’s what my companion said I told him a couple of nights ago in my sleep. (For those of you who don’t know, I talk in my sleep ALL the time haha) He said he asked me all sorts of questions and I answered them very specifically and most of them made perfect sense but then there was the question of what my favorite primary song was and I yelled out in a weird voice "Happy Birthday!!" and then stopped talking and continued sleeping haha

This is what has been going on in my mission and I am loving every minute of it.

Love you all.

Elder Cole Safford