Dear Elder Slavens

Dear Elder Slavens

Elder Dallin J Slavens Cambodia Phnom Penh

Elder Chancellor J Slavens Idaho Twin Falls

Monday, August 26, 2013


I'm in the fielddddd!!! My experience at the CCM is over and I'm now a missionary for truesiez!! Life's pretty great here in Buhl, ID (my very first transfer ever)! It's a pretty small little town where like everyone knows everyone and I just love it! Quite the change of pace. There's actually a pretty prominent Latino population, so my companion and I meet a lotta Spanish speakers. My companion's name is Elder Casillas, from Mexico!! Thank goodness! He's a native Spanish speaker, and we pretty much only speak Spanish to each other, so I'm practicing way way more than I thought I would! I'm learning tons and tons, and I'm hoping to be fluent pretty soon-ish! Guess we'll see!

I've met so many cool peeps here. Idaho's definitely quite different from California! In fact, when I tell people I'm from CA sometimes they'll just laugh right in my face, but I don't mind! But we have some really cool investigators that I'm working on getting to know. It's pretty tough to get to know people right now, 'cause of Spanish. I'm pretty good at speaking the language and getting my point across, but comprehension's a no-go for me at the moment, so it's pretty tough to get any thoughts in. But it's okay 'cause I can feel myself understanding things more and more every single day!

A couple days ago I had my first baptism invitation!! And it wasn't planned or anything. We were talking to this couple who basically completely believe that the church is true, but they're super hesitant to be baptized because they're Catholic and scared to make such a huge change in their life. But I was like "these things are true, and you know it", and then asked them to do the deed! They hesitated because they still want time to think, but we're hoping to get a commitment soon!

We met a guy on Saturday named Leon. We were just trackting and ended up on his doorstep and he answered and I was totally startled at first! He's a burn victim, like, a BAD burn victim. Half of his face is like melted away, and it was pretty freaky at first. But he is seriously one of the nicest, cheeriest guys I have ever met. We're hoping to talk to him again soon and get the lessons started! He thought it was pretty funny that we showed up on his doorstep 'cause he has a sister in the church! So there's a start!

The first week of my mission has been so awesome, I'm so excited to be able to do this every day! I love you all, miss you all, and pray for you all daily! Have an awesome week! :)

Elder Slavens

Thursday, August 22, 2013


Guess what, you guys! I'M IN IDAHO. We had a successful flight and all that jazz, and I'm here now to get started doing the Lord's work! Unfortunately, I don't really have much time right now to write anything lengthy, just enough to let you know that I'm safe and I'm serving! My new P-day's on Monday, so I'll be able to write fo realz yo next time that rolls around! But I just want everyone to know that I'm having an incredible time in the field and I can't wait to tell you guys all the stories! On Monday I'll go into detail. I love every last one of you and I miss you all and am praying for my friends and family every single day!

Con mucho amor,
Elder Slavens

Monday, August 19, 2013

Idaho Twin Falls Mission


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We are still collecting information on the Idaho Twin Falls Mission. If you served in this mission and are willing to share your experiences with us, please contact us at


The Church is quite strong in Idaho and continues to grow!  There are 15 stakes located within the boundaries of the Idaho Twin Falls Mission, which was created in 2013 to accommodate the increasing number of missionaries.  There are also Sign Language and several YSA congregations, as well as CES Institutes in Twin Falls and Burley thanks to the area’s large LDS population.  The area is also served by the Twin Falls Idaho Temple, which was dedicated in 2008.  With such a large member population, there is also a lot of missionary work to be done with less-active members and part-member families to help strengthen the Church in addition to teaching non-members!

The Twin Falls Idaho Temple.


Idaho is famous for its potatoes, but there is plenty of other food to eat in the Potato State!  The prevalence of wild game and ranch land in Idaho means that meat dishes such as roast beef and even elk or deer are commonly eaten as well.  Another Idaho specialty is huckleberry pie, made with Idaho’s state fruit, the huckleberry, which is usually in season around August and September.


As in other stateside missions, missionaries will generally use either a car or bicycle for transportation.  Designations are made based on the size of the companionship’s area or leadership positions.

View from Heyburn, Idaho.


The Twin Falls area is rather safe, with the overall crime rate being lower than the national average.  Crime levels decreased significantly between 2003 and 2009.
During the cold winter months, do what you can to stay warm while out tracting!  Wear multiple layers of clothing and gloves, use hand warmers, etc to stay warm and prevent potential health issues from prolonged exposure to the cold.


The area is mostly rural, and agriculture continues to be a common component of day-to-day life for many.  County fairs are held throughout the summer months, with the Twin Falls County Fair being the largest in the region.  Outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hunting are popular, with skiing also being popular during the winter.

View of the Snake River near Burley, Idaho.


The Snake River is a major tourist attraction in the area.  The river runs along the northern border of Twin Falls, and several waterfalls are located in the area.  Shoshone Falls is actually taller than Niagra Falls.  The river area is also home to Perrine Bridge, where BASE jumping is a legal activity.  Other interesting sites in the mission area include the Crater Rings landmark (a series of volcanic craters) located near Mountain Home.

Flag of Idaho Twin Falls Mission


 United States
 President Glen R. Curtis
421 Maurice St North
Twin Falls ID 83301-4932
United States
 About 225,000
 LDS, Evangelical Protestant, Catholic
 The Twin Falls area has an arid climate. Summers are dry and warm (with temperatures usually in the mid 80s Fahrenheit), while winters are cold and snowy. Winter temperatures are often below freezing. Areas farther north are even colder during winter.
 Twin Falls, Mountain Home, Burley


The work is going so well in Idaho that the Church recently created the Idaho Twin Falls mission! Check back in a year to hear what the first missionaries in the Idaho Twin Falls mission have to say!
Did you serve in the Idaho Twin Falls Mission? If so we want to hear from you! Contact us at and share your unique experiences!

Shoshone Falls on the Snake River. Photo cca-sa3.0u by Karthikc123 at Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chancellor made it into LDS Church News

'Bienvenidos a Mexico' - Doors open for missionaries to attend the Mexico MTC

Doors open for missionaries to attend the Mexico MTC
Published: Saturday, Aug. 17, 2013
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Elder Gilberto Aguila took a moment from his companionship study to peer across the vast, florid campus of the recently opened Mexico City Missionary Training Center.
This young missionary, just 18-years-old, viewed his surroundings with both a personal appreciation for its past — and a reverent excitement for its future.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Mahonri Alvarez Tovar assists Elder Jeff Newbold of South Jordan, Utah, at the computer lab at the Mexico City MTC.

"This was my school for three years when it was Benemerito de las Americas," he said. "I graduated just a few weeks ago, I'm part of the last graduating class."
Elder Aguila admitted to mixed feelings when he learned last January that his beloved school would be transitioned into a missionary training center. The academy, he said, was a blessing to all of Mexico for almost half a century.
"But now it looks even more beautiful. Missionaries from around the world are coming here to learn how to share the gospel," he said.
This sacred facility — built on land dedicated by an apostle to become "a great Spanish-speaking cultural center" — has now become a blessing to all the world.
On June 14, Elder Aguila and his fellow classmates participated in the final Benemerito graduation. Just two weeks later, the first class of missionaries began arriving. In that short time, this 90-acre facility, with its existing chapels, administrative offices, dormitories, classrooms, cafeteria and athletic facilities, has been transitioned from a Church-owned high school to an institution of intense language and gospel learning.
About 730 young elders and sisters are studying at the Mexico City MTC. It will eventually accommodate 300 more. Most of the missionaries here are from the United States and Canada and spend six weeks learning Spanish before departing to their respective assignments of service. Some 100 missionaries are from Mexico. They study the missionary lessons for two weeks in the MTC.
MTC President Carl Pratt, an emeritus Seventy and a proud son of Mexico, said the transition from high school to MTC "is practically complete."
Yes, there have been the expected growing pains over the past few weeks, but already this sprawling campus has, perhaps, become the ideal for a bustling yet peaceful home for missionaries preparing for full-time labor.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elder Ryan Perry of Sterling Heights, Mich., heft a stack of study materials after checking in at the Mexico City MTC.
"I love it here," said Elder Collin Butterfield of West Jordan, Utah. "You can talk to anyone and they will tell you they are excited to be here."
His companion, Elder Chancellor Slavens of San Ramon, Calif., said language training in Mexico City "has given me the opportunity to be immersed in the culture and learn more about the Latino people."

Photo by Jason Swensen
Sister Tania Hernandez, left, and Sister Eva Lima stand outside the entrance of the Mexico City MTC. The "B" placed prominently on the mountainside remains a nod to the campus' rich Benemerito history.
Such an experience, he said, will serve him well as he teaches Spanish-speaking people in the Idaho Twin Falls Mission.
"You get a lot of practice here speaking with the native Mexican missionaries, and it's a lot of fun."
A lot of fun — that's a common sentiment here. Yes, the work is hard and the days are long. Missionaries traditionally enjoyed nine weeks of language study at the MTC. Now they have only six weeks before reporting to their missions.
But despite the rigor, the MTC in Mexico City is a happy place. Smiles are abundant and the missionaries do their best to greet and converse with visitors in their generally limited Spanish.
President Pratt and his wife, Sister Karen Pratt, recently met with a large group of new missionaries who had arrived a day earlier from their respective homes in the United States and Canada.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Missionaries study the 3-dimensional map of the Mexico City MTC.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Mexico City MTC President Carl Pratt offers counsel to a group of missionaries who just arrived at the MTC.
"Elderes y Hermanas, Bienvenidos a Mexico," said President Pratt. His greeting suggested that Spanish was now the language of choice for the new missionaries — even though many admitted to learning but a few words in high school.
The president then offered a brief history of the storied facility known for decades as "Benemerito."
"This school was established when there were 50,000 members in Mexico. Now there are over a million." With the recent, well-documented surge in young people answering mission calls, the Lord needed this facility for another purpose.
"And you all," he said, "are the beneficiaries of that."

Photo by Jason Swensen
Relatives shoot photos and bid farewell to Elder Gilberto Aguila at the entrance of the Mexico City MTC.
Sister Pratt reminded the missionaries, "You are here at a particularly historic time." She shared a verse of scripture that has come to define the enthusiasm that has accompanied the policy change that allows young men to begin missionary service at age 18 and young women at 19: "Behold, I will hasten my work in its time" (Doctrine and Covenants 88:73).
President Pratt then chronicled the pivotal transition that has taken place on this peaceful stretch of property located inside one of the world's largest and most hectic cities. Transition also defines each young woman and young man studying at this new MTC.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elder Dalton Gee of Nephi, Utah, left, and his companion, Elder Ty Dale of Mesa, Ariz., practice teaching a discussion in Spanish to their instructor, Ryan Draper.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Missionaries enjoy the temperate weather at the Mexico City MTC to practice their Spanish and practice training techniques.
"Now you're involved in the work of the Lord," they were reminded.
The MTC president saluted the missionaries for making the transition from youth to adulthood, from foolishness to wisdom, from sports clothes to missionary attire and from monolingual to bilingual.
He repeated the words of Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve: "A mission is a process of obedience training."
When missionaries are obedient to the commandments and the mission rules, they put themselves in a privileged and promised position to receive the blessings of the Lord, said President Pratt.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elders enjoy a spirited game of basketball at the Mexico City MTC gymnasium.Elders enjoy a spirited game of basketball at the Mexico City MTC gymnasium.

Missionary work is not always easy, he concluded. There will be tough days marked by tears. "But at the end of your mission, if you have given of yourself in the way the Lord expected, you will weep for joy."
Missionaries here say they are being stretched in ways they did not know possible. The moment-to-moment mantra is "Hable su idioma" (Speak your language.) Even elders and sisters who are just hours removed from their arrival at the MTC are asked to communicate with one another in Spanish. Many share dorm rooms with native Mexican missionaries to offer more opportunities to practice their new skill.
"We have a lot of opportunities to get out of our comfort zone and speak the language," said Sister Kaitlyn Taylor of Saratoga Springs, Utah. "We were teaching by the third day here. You learn to rely on the Spirit."
Sister Emily Blankenship of Kaysville, Utah, said the warmth felt across the MTC helps new missionaries overcome fears and inhibitions.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Missionaries stay fit playing outdoor volleyball at the Mexico City MTC.
"Plus the classes are small, so you get a lot of one-on-one time with the instructors," she added.
Visitors here can walk outside, face any direction and spot evidence of a missionary training center functioning at full speed. In one corner, small groups of missionaries gather under shade trees to practice teaching the missionary lessons. In another direction, missionaries find a bench to take in a few minutes of personal scripture study, softly reciting the words of, say, Nephi or Alma, in Spanish. And in the distance, the joyful cries of missionaries can be heard as they enjoy a stress-busting game of basketball, table tennis or outdoor volleyball.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Newly arrived missionaries check in at the Mexico City Missionary Training Center.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elder Dannen Sparks of Thatcher, Ariz., left, serves the ping-pong ball to his companion, Elder Spencer Evans of Sandy, Utah, at the Mexico City MTC gymnasium.

Indeed, one immediately recognizes here the fulfillment of apostolic prophecy. On Nov. 4, 1963, Elder Marion G. Romney of the Quorum of the Twelve spoke at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Benemerito school. His recorded words seemed to transcend the events of that day: "This school for which we are breaking ground today is destined to become a great Spanish-speaking cultural center. Its influence will reach far beyond the valley of Mexico. … It will be felt in all of Latin America, including South America. Hundreds of thousands of people will come here. … This school will prepare men for a better future here on the earth and for eternal life in the world to come."
Astrid Aguilera recently said farewell to a missionary friend, Sister Tania Hernandez.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Brother Jose Zamora works the cash register at the store located inside the Mexico City MTC.

Like Elder Aguila, Astrid is a recent graduate of Benemerito. She too experienced a mixture of emotions when she learned her school would become an MTC. She loved Benemerito. It provided her an education and helped build her testimony.
But Astrid also recognizes the eternal weight behind Elder Romney's words, spoken a half-century ago.
"This place, this MTC, will help the Church grow," she said, adding she wants to go on a mission when she is 19 and hopes to "return here and do my part."

Photo by Jason Swensen
Missionaries gather as districts for classroom study at the Mexico City Missionary Training Center.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elder Brandon Barbosa of Puelba, Mexico, and his companion, Elder Jesus Ortega of Tampico, Mexico, are among the 100 Mexican nationals studying at the Mexico City MTC.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Elder Nate Crook of South Jordan, far right, and his companion, Elder Brady Daines of Highland, Utah, participate in a role playing teaching exercise with Brother Kozvy Osorio.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Missionaries gather as districts for classroom study at the Mexico City Missionary Training Center.

Photo by Jason Swensen
Sister Chalese Johnson of Ogden, Utah, and her companion, Sister Rebecca Newman of Elk Ridge, Utah, walk back to their dorm room at the Mexico City MTC.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Week 5 Baby, this is it!


This is so very weird. My time in the CCM is coming to an end in under one week! I'm gonna go teach real people! In the distant land of Idaho! I have no idea what to expect, but I'm getting more and more excited by the day! Things are going well here, but I'm feeling so ready to get out there and do some work! This week my district made a goal to speak in ONLY Spanish until we leave! I actually failed miserably; I'm way too much of a talker to speak as slowly as I need to in Spanish. But I'll get it down eventually!

Today we got the chance to go to the temple!! It was so awesome to see something different for once; I have a pretty hard time with sitting in the same place for 6 weeks straight. But we took a bus out of the iron gates and drove out into the chaotic streets of Mexico City! Quite different from the CCM that I've been chilling in for the past few weeks. It was so great to see all the crazy stackable buildings painted crazy colors - and the TEMPLE! Gosh, what a gorgeous place! There's just such peace the moment you walk onto the grouds that can't be felt anywhere else in the world. And going through the temple in Spanish is something else! We went through the second week I was here and I've noticed that my comprehension of the language has shot up like times a billion. It's awesome seeing the gift of tongues playing a role in each missionarie's life, 'cause I know for a fact I wouldn't be figuring out Spanish without it.

Unfortunately, other than that, nothing has really happened this week! At least nothing really "to write home about", if you'll pardon the expression. Lots and lots of class, lots of Spanish, lots of Spirit, and lots of fun! I'm so excited to get out there and serve the Lord. This is His goespel, and I won't let Him down. I guess I'll end by throwing out some lyrics that have been on my mind recently, by Forgive Durden:

I know I am more than some eager blood.
Not some average bones; I belive in love.
I just wanna prove I deserve this gift.
I can change this world - Baby, this is it!

I love you all and I hope you're having wonderful lives! I'm praying for my friends and family pretty much constantly, so I hope you can feel that little help in your lives! Have an awesome week!!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Slavens

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Week 4 Living la Vida Loca

Bonjour! Or Kohnichiwa! Or something like that.

How is everybody this fine, fine Tuesday?? I'm feeling absolutely swell! I'm feeling more in tune with the spirit and more close to my brother and father in Heaven every single day! This has been a great week. Lots of great experiences and lots of fun! As is typical in the CCM!

So our Latinos companions left this Monday morning, which was a major bummer! Every two weeks a new wave of Latino elderes y hermanas crashes into the CCM and makes a giant fiesta out of the place. I'm telling you, these are some of the loudest people I have ever met! The four Latino Elders who were staying in our room were super crazy. We'd be eating a nice, peaceful lunch or something, and these four Latino guys would run up and suddenly just start yelliong at us in Spanish and dancing and running around and I just don't even know! But it's so fun having this complete change of culture and having to live with these guys! I've learned so much more Spanish from them than I ever could have anywhere else!

The night these guys left was way way cool. There were like 15 Latino elders running around the dorms, making a rucus of the place, as usual, and we decided to go chill with them for a bit. We just sang a bunch of hymns in Spanish and shared memories and experiences and it was really cool having all these people from different backgrounds come together like that! And then the Latinos all ran away saying something about having a surprise for us! So we sat there for 15 minutes like "What?" and they came back with a bunch of jerseys in their hands! These jerseys were from the school that the CCM used to be before it became a CCM, and apparently all these guys went to this school before they came on their missions! They all just graduated like a month or two ago!! I think that's super crazy. So they gave us these jerseys and they're way comfy and I just love those guys. I'm gonna miss them lots.

The food has remained pretty much the same throughout my experience here at the CCM. It's just a bunch of bread for breakfast, some kind of funny meat thing for lunch, and like a sandwich or something for dinner. You know how people tend to put on some weight at the MTC in Provo? Well check this: I've lost 10 POUNDS since being here!! It's absolutely crazy! So I'm hoping I can stick with that loss and do something positive with it. I'm hoping not to just put it all back on when I get back into the states.

Whelp, that's about it for this week! It's been great and I hope you're all having a wonderful time! I'll talk to you in a week! Until then!

Con mucho amor,

Elder Slavens