Monday, December 21, 2015


It's amazing that this time of year is here again. Time has flown by this year and even though there have been some difficult times, I have loved it!

Last week was slow in our area. We were only having a couple lessons a couple of weeks ago and not much success in other areas also. But this last week we really pushed ourselves and set a goal to get 10 lessons and guess what, we got 11!!! That felt so good. It's always wonderful helping others come unto Christ.

Again, thank you to everyone who has sent me something for Christmas. There's no way I could ever reach out to all of you individually, but I do express gratitude and wish you all a very, Merry Christmas!!!

I would invite each of you to watch the "A Savior is Born" video, it truly will help you feel the Christmas spirit.

Merry Christmas

Elder Sands

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Sorry everyone, I haven't sent any emails in a while. Our p-days got shifted to Wednesday for 2 weeks in a row and last week, my iPad was locked by the program that monitors it so I was not able to do anything.

Lots has happened since I last wrote. I've played in a Stake Christmas Concert, rode in two 26 miles bike rides, performed in sacrament and for a member of the presidency of the 70, and have visited almost our entire ward's list of less active members.

Transfers were just yesterday and Elder Carlson and I remain as companions for the next 7 weeks here in the Mezona ward in Northern Mesa. We're doing a lot of work with less actives in our ward and we're getting a good amount of success. I love working with the people in the ward. It is my favorite ward in the valley I’ve seen so far.

My bike recently went through a few troubles and in order to get it into working condition, I've spent 95 dollars. Now the bike's almost as good as new, but still has a few problems. I recently just damaged it again, however, when I joined the OTB club (Over The Bars club) when I was going over a speed bump and was completely bucked off my bike. My leg and my shoulder hurt but thankfully my bike was not effected much at all. How lucky is that!?

I hope you all have a great time this week and remember the Lord during this Christmas Season.

Elder Sands

P.S.: Thank you for all those who have sent gifts, I anxiously await the time to open them.

Monday, November 30, 2015

A surprisingly eventful week. The week was been pretty slow in terms of missionary work because not many people want to, or can, meet with missionaries on and around Thanksgiving. But, not to worry, we managed to stay pretty busy most of the time.

We helped Brother Shoemaker put all of his food storage and other things back into his storage room from his garage because his daughter was living with him and his wife for a couple of weeks and wanted to give their sons a room of their own. Ever since they moved in, we've spent probably close to 20 hours helping him out and we loved every minute of it. I knew Brother Shoemaker from before I came to this area because as he's one of the ASL temple workers and really popular in the valley amongst the Deaf.

We went by for his wife's birthday on Monday, had dinner at their house on Thanksgiving, and spent 6 hours at their house black Friday moving all of their things. Since day one I've been there to help him out when he's needed it so for my birthday, he gave me this really nice pen as thanks. (see pic)!

And yesterday the Stake had a musical Fireside (Evening of the Arts for those of you in the Spokane Stake) and they had me play in it! I played Snowfall for the stake and they loved it. It’s been a while since I’ve preformed like that! I also played prelude for our ward for the last couple of weeks and will be playing a special musical number for church on the 13th and for our ward Christmas party on the 11th. What an exciting surprise!

Music is such an amazing thing. Yesterday it was the bishop's daughter's farewell. She'll be serving in New Jersey and in honor of this, her family played a wonderful song titled "Redeemer" by Paul Cardall. They had a piano, a viola, 2 cellos, and 2 violins. It was so powerful and they played it so wonderfully. Everyone was saying, "Wow those people really know how to play!" and of course I’m thinking, "Those violins did a wonderful job accompanying the piano!" But seriously, music can express feelings and thoughts probably more effectively than any language can and hence comes the verse in D&C 25:12: "For my soul delighteth in the song of the heart, yea, the song of the righteous is a prayer unto me and it shall be answered with a blessing upon their heads."

Keep Singing/Playing everyone! You never know whose life you may effect for the better.

Elder Sands

Monday, November 23, 2015

Training is going great with my companion! The amount of teaching we're doing has dropped a bit since our ward boundary change moved many people to other wards and gave none back in return. But this has given us the gift of time that we did not have before. We've really been focusing on building member trust in our ward and its working!

This last week, we were biking by a member's home that I didn't know very much about, but we saw that there was a huge pile of pebble rocks on their lawn. So we stopped in and asked if they needed help spreading it out. They were so appreciative for the offer and we came back Tuesday to help them. They said it was about 4.5 tons of rock. And the greatest part? Their child's name is Asa! That kid is so nice!

Doing service for others, I have found, is one of the fastest ways to their hearts. We've been doing tons of service for our members, and in doing so other members want to help us even more. It's amazing the effects of selflessly helping others. Yes, this is a simple example from my mission, but this has application all through our lives as well. Try it out, you might actually make more friends! :)

Have a very wonderful Thanksgiving, remembering the reason for the holiday.

Elder Sands

Monday, November 16, 2015


Last week was a pretty good one. My new companion and I are getting along well and things are going smoothly. We have 2 more investigators, which is surprising since our ward boundaries just got shrunk, and they are interested and want to progress. We went around and visited all of the people who just left our ward because of the boundary change and some were really sad about leaving our ward. The ward will miss them and so will I, but the Lord knows what's best.

Let me share a story of service. We helped a member of our ward (who is the official ASL expert in the valley) move his daughter out of his house and into her own. She had to live with him for a few weeks while they figured out a housing problem, and then they asked if we could help them move her out. He asked for some elders, and we got the entire district there to help him (10 missionaries, including sisters). His daughter was almost in tears when all of us showed up to help her out. It's wonderful to see what happens when we help those in need.

Love, Elder Sands

Wednesday, November 11, 2015


Last week was transfers and everything in this zone has changed. The transfer before this one, almost nothing changed; only 2 companionships were changed, but this one was the complete opposite. All but 2 companionships in the entire zone were changed, including mine. My trainee, Elder Catmull, was transferred to Scottsdale and I received another missionary fresh out of the MTC. His name is Elder Carlson. He's really wants to learn and become as good as he can.

This last week we went to the Mesa temple with several other stakes to set up the grounds for the temple lights that will be starting there soon. Elder Catmull and I actually went into the temple for the first hour and a half because it was Shawna's first time in the temple. She was doing baptisms for the dead and she was so ecstatic when she was going through the ordinances. She was just glowing when she left.

We then helped getting all the lights in and around the trees. So there we were, helping out in our church dress in the trees getting weird looks from everyone else because we were the only ones dressed up.

I'm now one of the technology experts in our mission. I seem to understand the iPad more than anyone else in the mission. If anyone has problems with their iPad, specifically with it running slow or if it has other system operation errors, then I diagnose it. Elder Morgan is in charge of a couple specific app diagnostics but I take care of the rest. I think it's really fun teaching other missionaries how to run their iPads to the best of their ability. They really are a nice tool, especially when spreading the Gospel.

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, November 2, 2015


This week's certainly been quite a rollercoaster. We said goodbye to my companion of almost 2 transfers as he headed back to his home state of Missouri. Elder Catmull and I will be together for at least one more week before transfers as well.

Our ward is getting split and from what we've heard, the areas where we have the most work in are being given to other wards. Now we'll have to start focusing on other areas in the ward that aren't as rich in people ready to hear the gospel. We're going to start focusing away from converting people and more on reconverting the not-so-converted.

When I was in ASL work, it was so hard to find people to teach. Now ASL work is so down that the missionaries are over an English ward as well. Now the mission president is saying that he's going to make ASL work a sister's area and if that doesn't turn it around, then our mission won't have ASL elders anymore. That may mean no more ASL work for me no matter how it turns out. Oh well, the members there were so wonderful to work with, but I’ll probably never see them again. Maybe in the future more deaf people will be interested and missionaries can start coming back.

On Halloween, I spent 6 hours in the Mesa Temple doing work for the dead. I did a few baptisms and other ordinance work and even took one name all the way through the temple. That was such a wonderful experience. I truly do testify that the temple is the place where the most important work of this world is done.

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, October 26, 2015


So sorry I haven't written in a couple weeks, but it's been super busy these last couple of p-days.

This last week has been quite exciting! We had a couple baptisms and it's amazing to see the changes that have happened in their lives because they have embraced the Gospel. Our bishop baptized them, and Elder Clark assisted in the baptismal font.

There's been a lot of work on keeping the companionship running smoothly, and it will all change soon because one of my companions, Elder Clark, will be going home on Halloween.
Because we've baptized almost all of our investigators, we have fewer people left to teach. We're going to start focusing with our bishop on people who are ready to go to the temple. The temple (The House of the Lord) has some of the greatest blessings this life has to offer, and many people in this world have not had the opportunity to partake of those blessings. We have several people in our ward who are close to going to the temple, but have not yet made it.

There are lots of changes that will be happening in this ward in the next couple weeks. Elder Clark is going home, transfers are in two weeks, and we think that the ward is going to be changing boundaries. That will change a lot of our work in the area.

I thank you for all your support and wish you all the best! Oh and Happy Halloween!

Elder Sands

Monday, October 5, 2015


Hello again everyone!

Last week has been so good.

General Conference was wonderful and I totally guessed Elder Rasband, but I didn't even get close to the others. They each will be a wonderful addition to the Quorum of Twelve Apostles. If you didn’t get a chance to watch it, then watch it! If you did watch it, then do it again!

We've taught tons of lessons and several of our recent converts will be going to the temple this Thursday to do baptisms for the dead. It's so exciting to see them progress and prepare themselves to go to the Lord's house!

Our companionship is going great and we're doing tons of stuff. We're one of the busiest companionships in the entire mission! There's so much to do and it's hard to get it all done sometimes, if only there were more hours is a day.

So sorry, but this week's letter's is a little short, but I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Elder Sands

Wednesday, September 30, 2015


Well last week has been pretty interesting!

First, I was shot at last Tuesday the 22nd with my companion while we were on exchanges. As you may know this has sadly been happening in the Phoenix area, but not Mesa. But I’m fine, it was just scary.

Second, this week I got a new companion straight from the MTC who I’ll be training. His name is Elder Catmull and he is an actual Windows Technician. It's really nice to be able to talk with someone who knows computers. My previous companion basically knew how to turn the computer on, and that's about it. He will be replacing Elder Hodges as our mission Tech Specialist because of his training. Let’s just say that we set up his iPad very quickly. We're getting along great!

Right now we're helping a lot of our new investigators (and others) get to the temple to do baptisms for the dead. What a wonderful blessing it is to be able to do work for those who have not had the opportunity to get such wonderful blessings here on earth.

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, September 21, 2015

A pretty interesting week. We've had a few good lessons but mostly this week has been a drop down from our recent success. Several of our lessons fell through and we're losing so many of our investigators due to moves and such and even bigger changes are coming. So now we're seeking for as many people who would be interested in the Gospel as possible.

One of the people we contacted on a list from our bishopric has been progressing from the moment we contacted him. He had been less-active for a few years and from the moment we came and invited him to go back to the Temple, he's been coming back to church, getting involved with activities and becoming friends with many people in the ward. He's such a wonderful example of what can happen as we keep focused on those people not coming to Church. We shouldn't just focus on who showed up on Sunday, but more so on who didn't show up.

Now that we have iPads, it is so much easier to teach certain things to the people we're teaching. Mormon Messages are a wonderful example. Mormon Messages gives people a Spiritual punch in the face and often teach very simple, yet profound and important principles that apply in some way to everybody's life. For example, "Mountain's to Climb" is one of my favorites that really teaches us about trials. We show this one quite often to the people who are struggling "under the onslaught of troubles." I would recommend you all watch it and find another that you like and even share it. You can find them and “Mountains to Climb” at:

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Sands

Monday, September 14, 2015


This last week I had my first baptism! Yay! Shawna and LJ were both baptized on Saturday and confirmed the follow Sunday as full-fledged members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was the one who confirmed LJ. I also played a special musical number in our ward that day.

Story: I played a song for a dinner message at one of the member's homes (big mistake)-they were instantly were on the phone with the ward music director and the next day they had me to play a special musical number during sacrament meeting. Thankfully, I keep a few songs under my fingers for situations such as this. It's kind of nice to be going back to that way of doing things. In the Deaf Branch, there are no intermediate hymns or special musical numbers, so it was a nice change of pace.

We've been having about 9 people on average coming to church every week since I’ve been here. We're one of the busiest areas in the mission. This last week with all of the duties of a district leader, we literally didn't have time for lunch some days. We just had too many appointments. It's amazing how much the Lord blesses you when you try. It reminds me of this quote: "God does not begin by asking us about our ability, but only about our availability, and if we then prove our dependability, he will increase our capability!"

Remember that quote, not only is it true in the gospel, but also in many aspects of our everyday life. It's truly amazing how gospel principles/ideas carry over into just about everything, making it better.

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, September 7, 2015


Last week was wonderful, but I expect this next week will be a little bittersweet.

We had several great lessons and many good visits and lessons with our investigators and less actives. This week, we're baptizing two of our investigators, Shawna and LJ, which is wonderful. They are just wonderful people who are really progressing. The bad part is that we have to find people to replace them. This isn't a last minute thing, we've known these people are going all the way and have been searching for more people to teach, but it's hard to replace those golden investigators who want nothing more than to learn more about the gospel.

Elder Clark is starting to think more about home, but he's not getting trunky (thinking of home so much that he doesn't want to work anymore), if anything he's starting to work harder. Sometimes I say to him, "Okay, it’s getting late, and we need to start heading back now..." but then he wants to go visit that one last door or talk to that last person. He has an incredible work ethic and that's a good thing

Everything else is going good. We've got a couple of families (soon to be, they need to get married) we're teaching and we have some solid people that are progressing. I even came across a couple of deaf people the other day but they weren't interested in the slightest. Oh well. We're in Mesa Branch's area anyways, we don't want them to have all the ASL baptisms ;)

Have a wonderful week!

Elder Sands

Monday, August 31, 2015


This last week was the best!

It wasn't a Monsoon when we left, but it quickly turned into one. The rain and the wind was coming down so hard that the only semi-reliable source of light was the almost-constant lightning. The rain was coming down so hard that in 15 minutes, there were small rivers forming on the side of all the roads and after 30 minutes, the sidewalks disappeared under all the rain water. There was complete flooding happening everywhere. We used this time, however, to go and visit all the people we wanted to come to church. I remember there was this one man who was sitting outside one of our investigator's houses and we walked up and he was completely shocked that we were willing to go out in the rain just to get people to church. At that time, we were completely soaked and were walking it puddles in our shoes from all the rain. It is amazing the reaction you get from people. They're like, "Sure, I’ll go to church 'cause you guys are so freakin' crazy to be out in this weather just to get me to come to church."

We came home and took a few videos to show everyone. When we were biking home, I was on the sidewalks biking because the biking lanes were under 8 inches of water, the sidewalks were only under 1 or 2. But when I came to an intersection, I had to bike as hard as I could then tuck my legs up as far as I could so then when I plunged into the 8-9 inch deep water that my legs and shoes wouldn't slow me down and I would hope that I got fast enough to push my bike across the intersection to a place where I could pedal without putting my foot underwater. So much fun.

But that is a wonderful example of what happens when we work really hard, especially in the Lord's service. Our hard work and example can cause anothers' conscience to wake up and it can stir them to action

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Picture of:
Soaked by monsoon

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

This last week has been amazing!

This new (English) area has more investigators and recent converts than my deaf branch has members. We have about 10 appointments a day and wow is it hot here on bike. The majority of our ward are these 5 neighboring apartment complexes on the southern-most boundary of our ward (and the furthest away from our apartment) that, added together, are about 1,000 apartments. That is where 95% of our work is and most of those places are really rough, there are homicides in those places monthly, but wow, some of the best people, who are truly converted to the gospel, live in those places.

One of my favorite people, Shawna, just met with us for the first time last week and she is just taking in the gospel like a sponge. When we asked her when she would want to be baptized, and gave her the 12th, 19th, and 26th as possibilities, she responded without hesitation the 12th. We're going to have to teach her a lot, but she, in her words as she described it, it was filling a void, or a hole in her life that she didn't know was there.

I know this Gospel is true and that blessings await you in keeping the Sabbath Day holy!

I hope you have a great week everyone!

Elder Sands

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


So I have been transferred from of the ASL program and have been moved to English in the most southern area in our mission which currently is in Mesa. I've only been here a couple of days, but it’s been great so far. I'm kind of sad to be away of ASL and its not fun having to bike in 118 degree weather, but I’ll get along.

We have more investigators in this ward right now than I’ve had my entire mission in deaf work. We have 17 Investigators and many less actives with 5 people on date for baptism. Wow does the work move faster in English.

Mesa's like a mini Utah. I've heard many rumors about how everyone in Mesa is either a member, Hispanic, or Anti-Mormon. Missionaries that go out to eat almost never pay for their own food because members will pay for them most of the time because they're EVERYWHERE, and they won't even pay for 1/2 the groceries they get because members will see them and pay for it all. Pretty crazy. I didn't really believe it until I got here. I had just gotten home from transfers and we were biking to our first appointment and halfway there, a car stopped by us and handed us two really big water bottles. The first 15 minutes in the area and already stuff like this is happening!

I haven't met too many people, but we've already gone team teaching with a non-member and have had 3 lessons in one afternoon. That's more than we would sometimes get in a whole week.

My companion, Elder Clark, was my zone leader when I first got here, so I knew him pretty well. We get along great but he goes home halfway through next transfer, so I’ll probably stay in this area for the next 2 transfers minimum. We were practically whitewashed into this area because Elder Clark was in Snowflake a week ago but got Emergency Transferred down here to Mesa. Then I came a week later and both of us don't know most of the people in the entire ward. Lots of work to do here.

I hope you all have a wonderful week! Please pray for the heat down here to 1: either not kill me, or 2: drop down to a sudden 80 degrees and stay that way :)

Elder Sands

Monday, August 10, 2015


This last week was wonderful. We've had a fair amount of success and 2 of our investigators are still on date and we are having tons of less-active members coming to church! It's Wonderful!

Not everything in this world can be song, dance, and Jolly Ranchers however. One of our investigators who is on date now probably won't be soon. He's not been coming to church and says he's been having a lot of problems lately so he'll most likely not be able to make it by August 23rd.

It also sounds like I’m leaving the ASL program and going to the mountains to be with Elder Clark, the missionary who used to be zone leader over my zone for 9 transfers (that's about a year of being a zone leader in one area). He's is really nice person and we'll get along great. I'm just really sad about leaving ASL and the worst part is that I’ll miss both of the baptisms! After working with an investigator for 6 months and she gets baptized the Saturday after I transfer! Now that is awful timing.

I also just got a new Logitech iPad case and keyboard (which I am using to type this email) and they are both wonderful. The keyboard has a felt like feeling to it instead of the normal plastic. It's also made to be used for anything with Bluetooth so it's not just apple. It's the perfect size and it works really well. The case is a wonderful shade of purple and can adjust to any angle you wish and it protects the case quite well. Really nice.

I hope everything is going good for every one of you out there reading this letter. I just want to share my testimony that I know this church is true and it has blessed my life beyond measure, and no matter what part of life you may be in right now, there is something Heavenly Father wants to help you with, it is just a simple matter of asking for it. I know this is true for I have felt it.

Have a wonderful Week!

Elder Sands

Monday, August 3, 2015


This last week was wonderful! About 8-9 months ago, there was an investigator who was just about to be baptized but a week before the day, he moved to Mexico because of family. This last week he came back! Wow this guy is golden. He remembers almost everything from the lessons and is really excited and anxious to be baptized. He’s on date for the 23rd of August. Then we had a lesson with our other eternigator (A person who's been investigating for what seems like eternity) and she finally accepted a date to be baptized. She also chosen the 23rd. Wonderful to see such progress and conversion in those two!

The ASL program is getting shifted around a bit this next transfer. Elder Brose is coming back from hearing work after 4 transfers there and either Elder Burr or I will be transferred to hearing work. Elder Burr's been my companion since day one so it’ll be strange without him.

This P-day we took on a walk on the worldly side, we went to the Scottsdale Fashion Square (a mall) and for all of you who have read or watched the hunger games, it was like walking into the capitol. Everyone was wearing really nice clothes, had lots of jewelry, and were browsing the $500-1000 things like it was nothing.

We looked at the ties and I saw one that was amazing and it felt so good, but then I looked at the price tag and saw a whopping $84! That was kind of depressing but it was fun to look at all the expensive stuff. We also went to the Windows store (there was no Apple Store which kind of tells you something...) and got to play on the several different kinds of surfaces and the desktops. They had tons of really cool keyboards and mice, and wow, Windows 10 is amazing! That personal assistant is really nice too (blows Siri out of the water). We also visited the Tesla store. It was really cool to see all the technology integrated into that car. That is probably my dream car right now.

I also got this really cool fountain for my study desk. It makes me happy.

Monday, July 27, 2015


I just want you all to know that it’s been wonderful reading all of your letters. I have so many I have quite a reading list that's piling up. It's okay, I don't mind having too much to read. If you all have questions, feel free to email me, I’d be happy to answer them.

This last week was semi-successful. We had many cancellations but still managed to get a things done. We are close to getting our "eternigator" on date, she said she feels that she should get baptised, it's now just a matter of selecting a date that she's comfortable with. We just received word that an investigator who left for Mexico 1 week before his baptism just got back (he was gone for almost 8 months). We have an appointment set up for Tuesday. We'll have to see if he even remembers who Mormons are :)

Today we hiked Camelback Mountain again, except this time it was on the other side, quite a different hike on the other side. Halfway up, my shoes started to bother the backs of my heels to the point where they were starting to cut into them. The cloth that separates the shoe mold from the foot had completely worn away so I made the rest of my hike in my socks. You should have seen the people's faces when they see my feet and realize I have no shoes on. Some of them look like, "My goodness! That guy is absolutely insane!" Honestly, it felt pretty good for the majority of the time but I put them back on for the last little bit so I could catch up.

I tried to make an analogy from that relating shoes to sin and how they cut into you, but once you take them off through repentance, you are relived, but then I realized the shoes would be closer resembled to the armor of god, but that wouldn't dig into your feet so...I think I’ll scrap that one.

Anyways, I love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Sands

Monday, July 20, 2015


This week was the first week in a while we have really begun to see success. Still no baptisms, but we have got a couple really good people that we're reactivating and one investigating. Barry, who is a less active, served a mission many (20) years ago and kind of fell away many years back. We just recently got in contact with him and he's progressing at an amazing rate. I even got to teach him the most remarkable lesson we get to teach, Lesson 3. Really, when you're teaching this lesson (The Gospel of Jesus Christ) to an investigator, you've got to keep it simple and the way Preach My Gospel teaches it, or it'll go straight over their heads. With those who are familiar with the gospel, there are so many doctrinal points that you can go into that really make the lesson far more powerful (IE: Explaining more aspects of faith, delving into repentance, baptism, the Atonement and repentance all as one, the holy ghost, and ultimately what enduring to the end really means). It is, by far, my most favorite lesson to teach when I can really help them understand. It's kind of like teaching diving to a group of middle level swimmers (to use a swimming metaphor).

We also went on a campout with our branch this last weekend. It was wonderful to see a few non-members there as well as a few less actives and many members from both the Mesa and Phoenix branches.

One really cool experience happened there when two 11-year-old kids went missing. I, of course, blamed it on the mountain-dwelling, kid-snatching, cannibalistic hermits, but it turned out that the two of them went exploring and got lost. The girl, finding out that they were lost, turned to the boy, who is a nonmember, and asked if he had any words of wisdom. He turned back and said that he had none. They walked a bit further than the girl turned to the boy and said, we should say a prayer. The boy has like no idea what to do, and then the girl says, "You should offer it." After briefly teaching him how to pray, they pray together. They were found 10 minutes later by the police. A wonderful lesson about prayer for each and every one of us.

Have a wonderful week everyone!!!

Elder Sands

Monday, July 13, 2015


Hello everyone!

Sorry I didn't write last week, it was a busy week, it was also transfers, and they wanted me to play a special musical number that they told me about five days before I need to play, so I have lots of practice before me.

These last couple weeks have been quite interesting. I have had many unique events happened. Besides the MTC, this is the first time in my mission that I'm no longer in a trio. I was with Elder Riggs for three weeks as well as Elder Burr but now Elder Riggs is home after completing his mission. It is now up to Elder Burr and myself to take care of the valley of the sun.

So the work has been extremely successful lately, and our mission president has been really pushing us to change. It is come to the point where he wants us to report every single day, via text, about what we did that day. During the last few weeks our numbers did go down, but we are coming back now, and having several lessons and contacting many, many, many, many people. Unfortunately, we are still not having a ton of success.

To make things worse…my previous bishop got a Windows Surface Pro and made a point of telling me about it. I am so totally jealous.

A Couple weeks ago we logged over 10 hours of service during the week, which is an incredibly, insanely large amount. But, it was so enjoyable, it was nice to meet all those people to be able to serve them, the only damper was the 115° weather.

One of the spiritual highlights that happened recently, was the opportunity for my companion and I to go to what is known as The Randolph Center. This is a center in Tucson that is a shelter/care facility/training center for the mentally and physically handicapped. We were all assigned one person to take care of/entertain for the time that we were there.

It was church for the patients, but they called a primary because all of them were primary children who are under the age of accountability. It's quite interesting doctrine.

I was assigned with the patient called Maria, who herself his deaf. She simply went up to the stage, put her hands on the piano, and felt the vibrations for the majority of the time. I didn't really get to communicate with her too much in the traditional way.

I noticed what special spirits each and every one of them have. Some of them you almost can't tell through all of the equipment, handicaps, and inability to communicate, but you can always tell that they're there. You can always tell that they are a child of God and that they know who you are, however limited they may be physically.

Other than that, Elder Burr and I are having a wonderful time together. We're rocking the valley (we're rocking the valley because that's the only thing that deaf people can feel)

Some other interesting news: our zone was just combined with another zone causing the number of districts to rise from 2 to 4, one of those districts being incredibly large. Our zone meetings have just doubled in length and size and several of the companionships became hybrid language companionship's because the other zone was a Spanish zone so now we have several companionships that are one Elder English and the other Spanish. I don't know how that quite works out, but it's quite fun.

I look forward to hearing from you all and have a wonderful week!

Elder Sands

PICS: Craziest cactus I’ve seen yet and Elders Burr and Grenko squeezing into one of Elder Riggs pants he left behind

Monday, June 29, 2015


This last week has been interesting.

This last week I saw my first dust storm, called "haboob", wow! I have never experienced anything like this before. Dust absolutely everywhere and thick enough to turn day into night.

Our appointments have been canceling like crazy and we've had very few investigator lessons, but we had a good amount of less active lessons. One such less active we are focusing on is Barry. He served a mission a long time ago, and eventually became less active, but we've had just a couple lessons with him and guess what, he came to church! I must say, I did not expect that to happen, but then again, I did; it was a welcome surprise. I wish I could had talked with him more at church, but he left after Sunday School and I was busy interpreting the whole time. He said he would come again next week too and we have an appointment with him this week too. It's pretty exciting.

We also just got an investigator from the Mesa Branch complete with a fellowshipper too! He's super excited to learn and his fellowshipper (his girlfriend) is pretty awesome and very strong in the gospel. I can't wait to see him progress.

It just goes to show that flirting to convert works in some cases (NOT TRUE), and not everything may work out in one area, despite our efforts, but if we're faithful, it will be made up in others.

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, June 15, 2015


This last week was fantastic. Several things changed around. Elder Walker was emergency transferred to Show Low, a city in the mountains and Elder Riggs came down from the mountains to replace Elder Walker.

Now the exciting stuff. Late one afternoon, one of our less active members texted us and said that her daughter, who was also less active, was not doing too well, both physically and emotionally. She's been having a lot of stress and wanted us to come over and give her a blessing. She lived quite a ways away and it was already getting late, and strangely enough, our appointment for that evening was cancelled. Probably not a coincidence!

When we arrived there, Elder Riggs shared a seminary video about accountability as the dad finished watching his basketball game. Elder Riggs is wonderful, by the way. He's extremely happy, very positive, complimentary, and effective at missionary work. Anyways, not only did that invite the spirit, but it also engaged the children, and the mother of the children was very touched by the video and said afterwards, "That was the message I needed to hear."

Then when the dad finally joined us (I didn't know deaf people were into basketball as much as hearing people), we gave a blessing to the mother and her grandmother. The mother asked me to give the blessing, which I was so honored to do. I've given blessings before, but the mother and I were close friends and I could feel the words just flowing through me as I gave that blessing by the power of the Holy Spirit. Then through many tears, she graciously thanked us. I was so happy for her and really felt a true Godly love for her. I've never really quite felt like that before, and I’m curtain that it's just a fraction of what our Heavenly Father feels for each of us. I never want to forget that experience.

Elder Sands

Monday, June 8, 2015


Hello everyone!

We just recently moved to a new apartment! Here's a picture of how MY COMPANIONS organized it. Notice how there is one spot that is completely trapped during the night (has to climb over people to get in and out) and, of course, that's my spot.

A member visited from Sandy Utah and her and her husband (and dog) are wonderful! She made us the fancy ties we're all wearing.

All clouds outside and still 106°. How is this possible!?!

Well enough of the trivial news, we had a great week. One of our less active members who we’ve been working with for a while finally came to church with his less active daughter and two of his investigating granddaughters. It was so wonderful to see them there and it was probably the best Sunday for them so show up as we had some of the most marvelous testimonies born. Our investigator who is close to baptism said a few weeks ago that she has not been feeling the spirit at church, but this week changed it all around. We had a lesson with her two weeks ago and we discovered that she was not keeping the word of wisdom. We discussed it seriously with her for a while then, at the end, we offered to give her a blessing. She accepted and we blessed her that she would be able to trust God and find the knowledge and courage to quit. The next week she said she felt like it was just stupid to drink coffee and had not had any the entire week. That was such a miracle.

During our Fast and Testimony meeting, I took the advice of my mission president (which was for all the missionaries to bare their testimonies that Sunday) and bore my testimony with two hopes: First, that what I would share would strengthen the less active members and our investigator. Second, a testimony grows in the bearing of it. So, I bore my testimony, and afterwards, I thought about what I had said-had I left the impression that I had wanted to leave. I kind of felt like I didn’t. I had given far more powerful and spiritual testimonies many times. But, when I went to go talk to the less active members and our investigator after church, they said they felt the spirit so strong and were extremely grateful to me. I am so thankful for testimonies and the power that they can hold.

If you didn’t this past week, I would invite you this week to share your testimony with someone. It may not seem like success at first, but you will plant a seed, like the one mentioned in Alma 32:28-43. Or maybe they’ll have a change of heart on the spot! Never know…

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, June 1, 2015


Hello Again everyone!

This week I would like to discuss a marvelous new piece of technology that has just been introduced in our mission: the iPad (mini). I know every mission around ours has had them for a year or so now but we're finally on the same playing field.

We can check our emails every day, we just can't respond to them till Monday. We're limited to 25 specific apps we can download, but we as ASL missionaries will be getting approval for ntouch (our VP app) and some other signing text app. It's so nice having all the things we will ever need as missionaries on one small device that we can carry around with us anywhere we go.

I'm also starting to do a bit of family history work because our mission temple day is in a couple of weeks and they want each of us to have at least one family name. I just then realized that I'm good with getting our investigators signed up and putting their parents and grandparents and family on there, but I haven't the faintest idea what to do after that. With a little bit of help though, I'm getting the hang of it.

I might have to get a keyboard for this iPad because hand tapping this virtual keyboard is a little hard and a lot slower. Anyways, I thank you for all you support and prayers!

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Wednesday, May 27, 2015


This last week was just great. The reason why I didn't write all of you on Monday, was because we had transfers this week. Our P-day was moved to Wednesday.

The most notable thing that happened this last week was our lesson that we had with one of our investigators at the Mesa Temple Visitor's Center. We invited a mostly active member, with her less active husband to go with our investigator that day. When I heard that less active member testify that these things are true, I wondered why is he less active, but whatever, we'll work on him.

We watched the movie: Joseph Smith, Prophet of The Restoration. It really touched the investigator hard as she watched how the church started, and the life of its first leader. She felt the spirit so strongly, which is essentially the whole purpose why we take investigators to the temple. We then walked around a bit and showed her several different things in the visitor center.

A long time ago (1981), when the visitor center was dedicated, President Boyd K Packer dedicated it and blessed it that it would have the same spirit as the temple. That is a special and marvelously generous blessing. Most of all, it is true. And it had a very strong effect on our investigator, and opened the door for us to discuss the reasons why she has been reluctant to be baptized. She's been experiencing great stress and hesitation in wanting to be baptized.

So, this week, I want to stress the importance of the temple. The temple is the most holy place on the earth, and it is the only place we can receive special blessings that allow us to live with Heavenly Father again. I would impress upon all those who have not yet been or cannot go due to personal issues, or just a lack of wanting to go, to reconsider and go if you can. To those of you who can't go, that should go, you will not, for one second, regret having made the decision to go.

Again to all of you, have a great week, I look forward to writing you, and hearing from you too.

Elder Sands

Monday, May 18, 2015


Again, an excerpt from my letter to my mission president, but for all of you, I’ll always add in a little extra, just because we're all best buds. I also want to welcome to my weekly emails, several of my fellow sisters and brothers (and president). If you don't want to put up with my emails, just let me know and I'll start sending you two every week! Just kidding (I’m not allowed to do that anyway). I hope you all enjoy.

This last week was a good one. Our recent trip to flagstaff was very successful, even more so than our last one that we took up there. Our first Friday we went to a family called the Gibsons. They are a really good family, the father and mother are deaf with an adopted hearing daughter. The mother doesn't know sign language so it can get a little hard to communicate with her, but she is making extraordinary strides as we teach her more and more about the gospel. She is absorbing the gospel like a sponge, it's remarkable.

Later that day, we met with the ward mission leader and his wife Brother and Sister Bushman. They are both wonderful and are extremely diligent and excited about the work for the deaf.

Saturday we met with the Flagstaff Stake President and he was so supportive of many of the things we proposed to him and even offered some of his own suggestions. He with the two Prescott Stake Presidents were all so extremely positive and supportive and they have made it their immediate goal to spread the word about the deaf work to as many people in their stakes as possible. I can't wait to see what happens.

Sunday we met with the Prescott Valley Stake President and the Gibsons. We then attended church in the Dewey ward where Elder Walker and I interpreted for 2 1/2 hours each. That good practice.

I also was able to talk with my parents this last week because it was Mother’s Day! I hope you all enjoyed the time with your mothers/wives.

I know this church is true and that we all can return to live with God again. One of the things that's been sticking out to me lately is that our Father in Heaven loves each and every one of us. That will always be true, but it does nothing for us unless we recognize that love and except it. I know that as you do, your lives will become more whole and you will find life is much more joyful than you have previously realized possible, for you will be looking more through his eyes at everything.

Have a great week!

Elder Sands

Monday, May 4, 2015


This week we are teaching a family, and for some reason, they’re having a hard time with getting ready for baptism. They keep postponing it, they have a hard time coming to church, and it’s tough trying to get their 8-year-old to get an interview with the bishop of their ward. They’re not even certain if they want to be baptized into the deaf branch, or the hearing ward so that’s a nice hurdle we still need to jump over.

We finally got in contact with a family that has been so hard to contact. The family has pretty much become less active, and when we finally knocked on their door when they were home, they graciously let us in. The dad is the only deaf person in the family so they’ve mostly had hearing missionaries. We sat down and talked about how things are going, and the father expressed how he really isn’t converted and has doubts about the church, but his wife is as strong as a rock, she is just experiencing a large amount of stress and health problems that she’s just sick and tired of. She asked for a blessing, which Elder Burr anointed and I blessed. I think that was probably one of the best things we could have done to help the testimony of the father. In Preach my Gospel, it says that if someone is intellectually questioning what you are saying (or the gospel in general), testify, for it is hard to question something borne of pure testimony. I’ve found that to be the most helpful things out of the book so far.

I talked with my Mission President about the incoming iPads we are supposed to have. He said that the home ward of the missionary is supposed to be paying for it?!?! Did you know of this? I don't want to impose on the ward. Other people are more important.

Looking forward to Sunday and talking with you for Mother’s Day!

Elder Sands

Monday, April 27, 2015


So this last week was pretty different. We got special approval from our mission president to go and visit and speak at all of the Phoenix Mission zone conferences. Why? Since our area covers all of the Scottsdale and Phoenix missions, we wanted all of the Phoenix missionaries to start searching for deaf and hard of hearing people and getting referrals for us in their perspective areas. We talked at all of the conferences and taught them how to recognize a deaf person (i.e. their using sign language) and how to see if someone lives in a building who's deaf (i.e. the I-Love-You hand signs, deaf doorbells, people who can't hear you...). Then we taught them how they can communicate with them (Pencil and Paper) and how to act/look (Happy) and how to send those referrals to us. We also taught them how to say hello, goodbye, and emphasized that deaf people don't need braille Books of Mormon, that's only for blind people (you'd be surprised how often we get that :).

After we finished with just 2 of the zone conferences, we had received several referrals for the valley, but most of them were in Flagstaff, Prescott, and Prescott Valley (all 2 hours north of Phoenix). So we decided with our mission president, that it would be a good idea to go up to Flagstaff and stay there for a couple of days just contacting all the deaf people that we had referrals for. By the end of our little trip, we had gotten almost 20 referrals for that part of Arizona. Quite a large amount for deaf people who live in pretty small towns. We met with a really active member who's hard of hearing and has a deaf, autistic son and she visited a couple of people with us (set up all the appointments herself) and was really helpful in the actual teaching of those lessons. I really wish we could make her a group/branch mission leader up there...she was awesome!

So we only had time to contact about 10 referrals, none of them lived even close to each other, and we got a couple more referrals from those along with a new investigator and a few other ones that we haven't quite figured out how to teach yet. VP's (a video phone) are an option but some of them don't have VP's, and we still need to contact more people. So we're planning on going up there maybe every 2 or 3 weeks to just get a branch or group set up there. It was real cool.

Also, the Phoenix mission has this really funny Preach (Fight) Song that they sing at every zone conference, I've sang that thing more often than half of the missionaries that serve there now :)

Love you all!

Elder Sands

Monday, April 20, 2015


Hello again everyone!

I've gotten a few inquiries about the driving thing so here is how it goes. It's the responsibility of the most senior companion to drive everywhere. Unfortunately, this last Thursday, Elder Burr was on Exchanges, and Elder Walker spent the entire being sick, so it was up to me to drive my Exchange companion a total of 128 miles that day. That was scary. Complete with Highway Value Package (which includes a little bit of good highway, with a whole lot of really crowded, 5 mph 1/4th of the time, the rest 0 mph, highway. It was fun. I almost ran into a pole, but all is well. The car is untouched and I am still alive. No ticket either! Wow, when I drove though, I realized how much of a better driver I am than my companions. Not bragging but I take it seriously. I'm paranoid about staying in my lane (thanks for those sleepless nights of “STAY IN YOUR LANE!!” nightmares dad :) ) and they always aren't. I don't brake like I’m about to hit a deer all the time and I actually follow the speed limit.

This last week our investigator came to Sacrament again! It was wonderful, unfortunately, she's one of the few deaf people I have a really hard time understanding. Always room for improvement! She's recently expressed some concerns about getting baptized so hopefully her attendance at a member's FHE tonight and our lesson with her tomorrow will alleviate some of those concerns.

We went to the temple on Saturday with our branch and wow, the entire deaf temple experience is pretty cool. There's a lot of interpretation going on. Afterwards we went out to eat with a member at about 3:30 and our dinner appointment was at 5. At the end of the Dinner appointment, Elder Burr said that he was full and then our member said “finally, he's full. I've succeeded! That’s the first time!” None of us really wanted to tell her why :)

I know this church is true and that there is much that we can do to bless other people's lives and especially the importance of the temple in our lives.

Elder Sands

Monday, April 13, 2015


This Last week, though it felt quite short, has had some really good opportunities to serve/teach. I actually felt like I was getting things done, which hasn’t really be happening that last couple of weeks. This last Saturday, our zone and another zone got together and volunteered at the March of Dimes walk (a walk to help support babies that are born pre-maturely and probably a few other things in that general area of research). We were there for a good 6 hours, but oh, was it worth it. I must have gotten 50 “Hey Elders!” as people recognized us, and a good 15 “It’s good to see you guys out here.” I feel like our presence was noticed and we were able to accomplish something that proselyting has a hard time doing. At the end, the Coordinators said that we were the largest, earliest to show up, last to leave, most organized, and hardest working group they’ve ever had volunteer. I would call that a great success!

We also had our first investigator show up for church yesterday. I must admit, I was quite skeptical whether she would show up or do her reading assignment from of the Book of Mormon, but when we called her to follow up on Friday, she said that she read the whole book of Enos and was planning on coming to church. I was really excited about the reading assignment part, but I had heard the whole “sure, I’ll go to church this Sunday...” before. Then she showed up to Relief Society and she really hit it off with one of the members. I don’t know if this applies to hearing wards or not, but when an investigator can get to church, they are instantly surrounded by branch members and they leave with many more friends, and they are 1,000% more likely to come the next week. I think she felt the spirit in the wonderful lessons that were taught, and she said she enjoyed the whole experience when we talked to her about it afterwards.

We also had a record attendance (since I’ve been here) at Church. 27! Wow. Now that number, may look pitiful, but what it was, was a miracle.

I hope you all have a wonderful week and remember, getting them to church, helps a TON in their willingness to continue the discussions, get baptized, and ultimately go to the House of the Lord, make sacred covenants, and endure.

Elder Sands

Monday, March 30, 2015

This week, we climbed a mountain called Camelback, It was one of the hardest hikes I have ever done. It was really nice to spend some time with the zone and see a wonderful view of all the valley.

This week the Mesa Arizona Easter Pageant started up and wow, is it amazing. It is a portrayal of Jesus Christ's life here in an actual play and does so very well. If I can go again, I'll bring the camera and maybe get some good pictures.

We've been focusing on less actives and contacting all of our referrals lately and wow is it tough to catch people certain people at certain times of the day. That or, themselves being deaf, knocking on their door doesn't do a whole lot as you can probably imagine. This week though, we taught a part member family in an interesting situation. There are 2 grandparents, both deaf, their daughter, who is an interpreter, and her 2 children, one 11, and the other 7 (almost 8) and the children really want to be baptized. Their entire family is less active except for the grandmother whose semi-LA so when we go there to teach the only investigator is really the 11-year-old girl. But we really spend that time teaching the entire family. The Spirit has touched their hearts many times, I can tell. Our goal is to reach the mother, and the grandfather and hopefully help him become worthy to baptize his granddaughters. Wouldn't that be something?

My companion, Elder Burr, was called to be a district leader for the next week because our previous DL went home, so we're thinking that It'll just be Elder Walker and myself next transfer as Elder Burr will probably be transferred English Speaking.

I love you all and want to wish you a wonderful week!

Elder Sands

Monday, March 23, 2015

It's times like these where missionaries normally say a greeting in their language so show that they are learning the language and have not just left home doing who-knows-what.

Unfortunately, ASL does not provide such a luxury so you will simply have to rely on my word and my spiritual experiences/thoughts to know that I have not just left home doing who-knows-what.

The language is coming along great. I remember in the MTC about 2 weeks before I left, my teacher, Br. Featherstone, told me that my signing is very good and quite beautiful to see (can't say that much about other languages ;) but my receptive skills (understanding what others are signing to me) was dreadful (or awful, terrible, not-good-at-all...such can the sign that he used be translated). I remember my first week at church, I understood about 10% (optimistically). That is the time you truly learn how to smile and nod. One sister signed to me that first week and I caught signs where it looked like she said "last week...tree...shocked...sawing do before?" By this time, I’m thinking she said, "last week, a tree got struck by lightning so they had to cut it down outside their house and it was a lot of work. Have you done that before?" so naturally, I respond "no". Now that I know a lot more and can remember (mostly) what she signed, she actually said, "3 weeks ago a tree fell down on my parent's house that scared them half to death (you would use 'shocked' as the sign for that). They were really sad because now they have to move to a different house while it gets rebuilt. Have you ever moved before?" COMPLETELY different story. Thankfully the Lord has been blessing my learning skills and I am now able to translate in Sacrament meeting, Priesthood, and take a larger part in our discussions.

FYI: our mission has been approved for Facebook when the iPads come in, but our companionship has been given approval to start now. So I’ll be using my Facebook quite a bit now.

We got our first new investigator for this month this last week. His name is Gordon Flash (I thought he was pulling our leg with that one) but he's a great guy who was very interesting in the gospel. Surprisingly, he's actually a Jehovah's Witness. The majority of the JWs seem hostile towards Mormons, that’s unfortunate, but he was very open, set a return appointment after we taught him the first discussion and I felt he was really touched by the spirit that was there. That just adds to the many evidences of the power of the spirit and the truthfulness of the gospel. I am so honored to have been chosen to serve a mission and to assist His children in any way that He sees fit. Have a great week everyone!

Elder Sands