Tuesday, April 28, 2015


Hey fam!

I'm glad Adam had the best birthday ever. I still don't know if Jake tasted the toothpaste in the mint oreo cookie. 

I'm stoked for Victoria's wedding, Stephen Moses is a boss. Evidently Carson Evans is engaged as well now. I met his fiance when he was visiting his Mom in the ward here. They're going to do well.

Karrie is doing much much better now. She was just kind of at a tipping point last Sunday with all the stress from her family's rejection of her decision to join the Church, her friends turning on her for it, and the neighbor abusing his ex-wife next door and everyone telling her not to care about it.

We really wanted her to meet more sisters from the ward so we invited her to a Relief Society Activity on Tuesday we showed up after it ended and she talked with those women until past 9. She really enjoyed it and felt like someone in this world cared about what was going on.

Her family is starting to be more receptive to it now. Her parents are happy that she feels free from all of the guilt and that she's happy now, and her relationships with her children are improving.

She had a very good experience on Sunday again, met with the bishop and enjoyed Sunday School and Relief Society.

I'm getting about 8 hours of sleep a night now, which is a miracle. It's just been since last transfer since that started happening. Just in time for getting home haha. 

We were tracting on Saturday, and found a young couple, Byron and Elizabeth with a one month old baby. Elizabeth has had LDS friends go on missions and Byron has gone to Christian churches before but doesn't currently attend or prefer any one denomination. She asked us what we believe and we taught them part of the Restoration and set a return appointment on Saturday.

We got to go to the temple today, the feeling you get after you finish a session is just incredible. There's something very special about the temple that leaves with you. When the Savior washed the disciples feet and pronounced them clean from the blood of that generation, he promised them that even though they had to leave His physical presence he would send His Spirit, even the Comforter to be with them and to teach them and bring to their remembrance all things (John 14:25-26).

I was praying at one part of the endowment, expressing my sadness to leave and my desires and willingness to be as effective as possible these last three months in bringing souls to Christ, I felt deeply impressed that I had completed my mission and it was time to come home. I felt so much sorrow to leave this great work, to literally be a messenger of God and an instrument in his hands to bring about much good in the lives of His children.

That might sound presumptuous to some for us to claim that God would use 18-24 year old missionaries to be His emissaries to call the world to repentance and faith. But God prefers to bring to pass great miracles by small means. When mighty manifestations are required to produce belief true and lasting conversion to the Lord is not possible.

Thank you for everything, I have seen spiritually how the Lord will use my mission to bless the lives of His children and I am extremely grateful. I am reminded of Ammon's expression of the nothingness of his own strength and wisdom, but eternal gratitude to the Lord for using him however unworthy to bring to pass that great work. I know that similar blessings await those who humbly and prayerfully serve the Lord in the mission field, help friends and family receive the fulness of the Gospel and who help prepare youth for full-time missionary service.

My fullest love and devotion, your son and brother,
Elder Joseph Szendre

Pic: temple trip. The Spanish Elders ditched us before we could ask for a ride. Jk they had something with the Cassia Spanish Branch and had to go. I've been in Sister Tauiliili's district 7 out of her 12.5 transfers and in her zone for one more. She keeps following me.
From left: Sister Bawden, Elder Thompson, Sister Tauiliili.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Empathy and the Atonement

Hey fam, I can't believe it's so close to seeing you again. Mother's day and then July 11th flying home.

Me and Elder Thompson performed Savior, Redeemer of My Soul and we did it perfectly. It was such a fun piece.

Karrie by far is our most important investigator she's made so much progress but she had a really trying experience at Church yesterday. She felt like the Sunday School lesson excluded her when they were teaching of the blessings of Church membership and that the Melchizedek Priesthood is God's only medium of how we can heal someone else. And then in Relief Society she didn't feel like she fit in.

Almost everyone in her family has been very antagonistic about her decision to join the Church and her friends have been angry with her for it too. And then to have no social support when she reached out for it at Church was super discouraging. She is going through more than I can fathom right now.

I feel so much pain for her right now, you would not believe. Not that I've experienced what she's going through but because I've had my own darkest hours. Let me relate what I've learned about the Savior from this. 

The Savior had to have been the greatest empathizer even before he entered the garden of gethsemane. He had himself undergone the most exquisite pain that anyone would ever go through before the Atonement, fasting for 40 days, being completely rejected by His beloved nation of Judah, judged by them that sat on Aaron's seat guilty of blasphemy when they themselves were breaking that law worthy of capital punishment in the greatest degree (Lev 26).

I give it as my opinion that he suffered the physical and emotional torment because the whole sum of human experience was revealed to him in the garden and on the cross. Surely the spiritual punishment and separation were inflicted from the Father, but the the emotional and physical pain must have at least in part come from beholding perfectly what we would suffer and then his perfect love and empathy would have caused Himself to feel it too. He was never burned at the stake like Abinadi and others, never would have cancer, but those things must have been revealed to him and just beholding our suffering must have caused Him to feel it too. 

The degree to which I love Karrie and understand what she is suffering I feel it too. From personal experience I know to some degree what she must be feeling. And how equisitely I feel a part of her pain. To say that we it's not necessary to feel pain when another is suffering is to ignore and turn away from what they are experiencing.

The Savior felt greater torment and pain emotionally and physically that were possible to men, for even before the Atonement he would suffer "more than man can suffer even unto death." That was even before the Garden of Gethsemane. Then when he beheld through revelation the human experience he would perfectly understand and feel it with us. Surely His empathy and perfect commiseration with us is one of the great mysteries of who He is, for He certainly weeps with us and relives His own sufferings as we watches and is with us through our own darkest hours.

For the first time in a long time I am alright. I have undergone so much these last 12 months. A poor decision to change a medication for depression led to the greatest migraines and depression, and with the faith and prayers of family I recovered enough to stay on a mission. But I was burned out beyond all measure and insomnia and three difficult companions in a row for different reasons followed. It was a long road of recovery. But oh how much greater is the suffering when you see and understand another as they go through their own darkest hour.

I am so thankful that our Heavenly Father and Savior Jesus Christ don't turn away from us in our trials. It would be so easy to look away from it, but they choose to not only understand but to be with us in our trials. They don't choose to ignore or turn away from our sufferings, but their understanding causes them to feel it too, and how it must torment them. The fact that the Savior had suffered an infinitely greater burden does not diminish their own suffering when they see their children's pain.

I love you all so much and can't wait to see you again,
Elder Szendre

P.s. I'll atttach some pictures.

 1. Our "functional companionship" haha

2. Second tour of the capital. The House of Representatives.

3. Aww yeah fisher of men

4. Huckleberry Ice cream at the Garners! Have to huckleberry picking sometime soon.

Monday, April 13, 2015

T-3 months!!

Hey fam!

We had a really good week. We didn't have very long to email so it won't be terribly long.

I'm sorry to hear Grandma Mimi died, that's bad news but I know she really suffered with dementia and it was her time to go. I have fond memories of her.

Karrie Adams is doing really well. She came to Church and absolutely loved it. She's surrounded by friends and most of her family members that are antagonistic towards her decision to join the Church. The most amazing thing is that while she's been going through the repentance process and making restitution as best she can to everyone she's hurt, she's had all of the guilt lifted from her.

We have several people that are struggling with addiction right now. An active member told us that although someone may stop there addiction, recovery is lifelong for many people.

This is the last week of the transfer and I'm probably going to go, since I only have two transfers left. I really hope I can make thebest of my last week.

Take care, I love you all so much,
Elder Szendre

P.s. I'll write more next week.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Hey fam!

This last week has gone really well, we had a lot of opportunities to teach and meet new people. We saw a lot of part member families. And most significantly Karrie has decided to be baptized and has told her family that she has decided to join the Church.

I'm so excited for Torie. Stephen Moses is a stud muffin!! They're going to be a boss couple.

Last week we went to the army navy store and Sister Fish met us there. She told us she'd get us whatever we wanted and I got this sick aviator's jacket. It was super nice of her. They also had so much soviet retro gear. I need to get a picture with a gas mask on.

On tuesday Karrie sent us a 7 page text about how she had a very powerful spiritual experience and has decided to join the Church. She attended the 12 step group to quit smoking and has been consistent in studying the gospel and prayer. She wasn't able to watch conference with us but we're confident she'll be able to overcome the many obstacles that stand between her and baptism.

She told her whole family that she has decided to join the Church, which was a complete shock to them. She's been an alchoholic since she was 16 and that's what her family remembers her as. She's doing her best to do restitution to those she has negatively impacted from her addiction. So far her family is pretty open minded, but we'll see what happens moving forward.

We had a miracle in that we showed up at her house right as she was feeling super depressed and guilty about her past and she super needed us at that moment. The guilt from sins that we feel can truly be excruciating.

Conference was incredible. I learned so much. Elder Christofferson and Holland's were probably my favorites. President Utchdorf and Eyering were a close second. That's super exciting there's going to be a temple in Bangkok, I know some members that served a humanitarian mission there and the Church is really sparce in that city.

I'm thankful for the Atonement, and for the role that our Heavenly Father and Savior play in our lives every day. There's no way I could have made it this far in my mission if it wasn't for them. Like President Utchdorf said, the blessings of living the Gospel are not limited only to restoring us to where we were before we entered into this life or sinned, but rather he wants us with His grace to become even as He is. 

I'm thankful for the Church and for the modern and ancient revelation. I can't wait to see you all on Mother's Day. I pray for you often.

Elder Szendre

P.s. here's some pics, I'll send more next week.

Elder Bowler and Palencia at BSU.

Mission Conference with Elder Nelson!!