Monday, December 28, 2015

December 28, 2015

(We were able to Skype with Michael on Christmas day, and it was the highlight of our Christmas!)

I must say, its rather fun to be writing a simple note to you without the formality of a letter. I'm doing this because I still have an hour on the computer, and all of my mail's been taken care of. Man, it was so awesome to see you all! Sorry if I was a little straight-faced about it, but gee, that was like the highlight of the holiday so far!

So, funny thing happened. After we got done talking to you guys, we went to visit Christmas evening with a wonderful family in the ward named the Kloepfers. Bro. Kloepfer is the manager at the local Toys 'r Us, so it has been super busy for him. Still, they were kind enough to give us some nerf guns for Christmas! Sweet!

Anyway, that's really all that has happened so far. I'll let you guys konw what goes on the next week.

Love you though! Like a lot!


Monday, December 21, 2015

December 21, 2015

Hello Mom!
(and everyone else)

So, I can probably sum up the actions of this past week in a simple albeit-there's-no-such-thing-as-sympathy way:

We lost Korra. Our car.

It went to some elders who covered an area about 5 miles away from where they lived. Evidently one of them had a busted ankle, or so he said.  We got their bikes. You see, it's not so much the action than it was the timing that caught us. The night we performed the exchange the temperature plummeted to about 26. So we rode to a member's home in about 25 minutes, and when we got there, Beatty's water bottle was frozen, and there was frost on my coat. And you know those moments that even after you take your gloves off, stupid hot water feels pretty numb? Yeah, it was one of those. Fortunately the member we visited had a bike rack and was more than happy to give us a ride back home.

The other times we biked were awesome. Other than the fact that the road had frozen over, and our tires are not built for snow. Anyway, we decided to start coordinating with members for rides. It's been a real help since that allows us to get a member out with us to every lesson, so we adapt and overcome! I just pack around my first-aid kit now.

Funny, I don't recall eating out that much in November. We go home for lunch, and I use MSF funds for most quick lunches. I'll...look into that. It's probably not fraud, but then again, someone did break into the church a few nights ago. Lost some TV's and projectors, and the keys to the building. Yeah, it's been an interesting week.

So, I guess I’ll just hear from you come Friday! I've already told Dad, but they allow us to call for a little bit Christmas Eve to coordinate times for calling Christmas day, or skyping I guess. Glad to hear that Brooke's on the case for the whole tech deal. She is the smartest one of us all after all!

I forgot to mention, but it's snowing out right now! I love the snow! Or at least love it until we're forced to crawl through it. It's always so peaceful and nice just to stand outside when it's snowing, and then to wake up the next day and see the flesh blanket that covers the ground. Snow always seemed so pure. Or at least the snow I've grown used to. Such a perfect accommodation to the celebration of the birth of He who is pure and loving. I love the Savior, I know he has a plan for us. All of us. Whether in this life or the next, He's provided a way for us to continue to grow and learn more, even as much as He knows. Definitely a long-term process, but I know that one day, we can be even as He is, and get to live in the presence of our Perfect Master and Friend. I love Christmas, and I know that one day the world will know without question of the divinity of the Savior.

And...there we go, I just realized how much testimonies break the rules of romantic writing. Joy during the winter?! Ha! Who would've known! God's ways are HIGHER than man's ways! And that includes writing too!

Anyhoo, I guess we'll hear/see you guys on Friday! And a little on Thursday! Love you all, stay amazing!


Hey Mom! So this was a message I sent to Mckay, and I felt like I should send it to you to post on the blog. Just probably the biggest take-away I have gotten from the holiday.

You oughta have a blast this holiday season! But promise me Friend that you'll take time to remember the true meaning of the holiday.

I had a fun thought about Christmas I felt like I oughta share with you though. You ever notice how people say that despite all the Santa-ness of the holiday that Christmas is still considered a religious holiday? It's true it is. But really think about it. We celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, of the miracle of a being such as He to be brought into the world, to suffer, bleed, and die for us. He underwent all the sins of everyone. Think about that! Everyone who had ever lived, lives, and will live, He felt for them. Those drops of blood had everyone's name written on it. Everyone.

Why should only Christians celebrate Christmas? It doesn't matter what you believe in terms of faith, Christ feels for all of us. He lifts us up, and whether it be in this life or the other, there is a way for us to come to know. And a way for all of us to repent and become clean again. Without that, where would we be?

I can't wait for the day that we will sustain Christ Himself as our perfect Ruler and Leader. Master and Friend. Judge and Mediator. Messiah and Savior. Every knee, every tongue.

So, I say to you friends, Merry Christmas. Let us celebrate our ability to be redeemed, our chance to overcome sin and death, through He that was born to save us all, even Jesus Christ out Lord.

Friday, December 18, 2015

December 14, 2015

Hello Mom!

You were actually correct, I was checking my email when your and Dad's email came in. It definitely helped build my moral, and I am glad to hear that all is seeming to go well for the family this last week!

So...what were your guys's plans' for the holidays? I would assume that you are heading up to the ranch for Christmas. I'm wondering if Daniel will bring Calvin and Hobbes with him. If he did, Smokey and Harley probably wouldn't be to pleased. But oh well. Will Brooke be able to be down there as well? Christmas is always a lot more fun when family is involved. We have been working with that initiative with overtime in the mission though. Christmas is such a wonderful time to spend with family, and to remember the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. We've been showing those videos on the church website so much now.

You know, it's funny being on a mission during Christmas. When you are doing nothing else but being in servitude to God, you really grow closer to your spiritual center. I've found my anticipated celebration of Christmas more focused on the birth of the Savior, especially after all I've seen Him do to help boost up those we are teaching and those we taught. Ourselves too. I really recognize now why we give gifts, because He was the first gift given. He was the gift the Father gave to all his children, to save us from our sorrow and sins. And like you said in your last email, as we follow God's commandments, we please Him, and we also utilize the gift of the Savior while doing so. After all, it is by Him that we are able to return back into God's presence of His spirit while on the Earth, and ultimately, to return to Him in full. I guess I now truly realize why we celebrate Christmas, and why it is a time of joy and singing, no matter where we are in the world, no matter what our condition may be. It's not just a christian holiday, but rather a holiday for all men.

I think I'm going to become an author by hobby when I get back. Remember how Daniel said that the mission gives you a lot of time to think? Well, my imagination has been working really well in conjunction with my spiritual side, and I think I have a few ideas for a story worth trying.
The work this last week has been going fantastic! To sum up the past days it's safe to say that we did a lot of less-active teaching. Our efforts weren't in vain, too! We had the ward Christmas party, and we saw a whole bunch of people there that we had been trying to get back to church! And out of those who we saw, one of them, a certain Sis. Holvorsen, was able to make it to church on Sunday. Awesome! I'm really hoping that Beatty and I can stay for another transfer after this one is done, but Beatty's been in this ward for six months now, and I wouldn't be in the least bit surprised if he got moved somewhere else come January. Still, we will make do with the time we have here.

Fun stories for the week! The town coroner had us over for dinner. His name's Marshall (everyone calls him by his first name), and he fed us huge and I mean HUGE steaks. They were pretty good too! Also, our dumpster got stolen. Or , at least we thought it was stolen until we asked the landlord. He said that the city probably took it for some reason that we don't know about. Oh well. We're on the case though.

But in all honesty I just really hope that all goes well for you guys this next week. I love you much Mom! I still ask myself somedays where'd I be without you. Gee, I miss all of you. But I know that you the family and God need me out here, so I stay here in the work (and also because I know I need to be here too) So I hope that you all have another outstanding week this week!

Love you all more than ever!


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

December 7, 2015

Hey Mom!

This week:
Breaking in the newsies, waiting in the waiting room, and...ok I'll just write whatever comes to mind because I can't remember everything and condense it into one sentence-list, right!

Another week has come and gone in Yakima, and I must say it was pretty gloomy. Work wise, I would say it was decent. But weather wise....GLOOMY. I remember Mr. Schimko talking about how depressing Washington is sometimes, and I guess I didn't really understand what he meant utnil now.  About Monday through Friday there was nothing but fog, rain, snow, hail, sleet, you name it. If it is cold or wet and falls from the sky, it happened. Don't worry, the wool insert that Dad gave me with his coat is quite effective at blocking all of these. And it looks pretty classy too!

There was a good amounts of highlights from the past week that are definitely worth sharing, so I'll do my best to recall them. We had grim news that there is a slight possibility the car may be taken from us. But it's not official.

I guess one thing worth writing about is that we had a fun time taking the latest sets of missionaries out for the first time. I took a certain Elder Hansen from Orange country CA, to a lesson with a less active sister named Ruby Martin. She is such a sweet old lady who has a sincere and strong testimony, but can't seem to make it to church. It was a good lesson, we talked about the Restoration of the Gospel. Later in the week we also had the privilege of meeting with a certain less-active member named Jeff. He's awesome. The lesson we taught him eventually turned into a commitment activity for him to come back to church, and boy...was it cool. I'm glad I have Elder Beatty here, he seemed to be guided by the spirit in whatever he said, because Jeff told us how everything we were saying was coming right off his patriarchal blessing. OHHHHHHH SNAP! And then to make it even cooler his wife, Erica,  who has a thick Portuguese accent, started talking. We could understand her well, but there were times during her speech that Jeff reminded her to speak English, as if she was speaking straight Portuguese. OOOHHHHHH DOUBLE SNAP! I'm not terribly certain if it was the gift of tongues was present, because we were just simply understanding her. Then again...that's what the gift of tongues is! Either way, they loved us to death by the time we left, and Erica decided to give us her new milkshake blender as well. I guess that means it was good lesson.

Another fun experience found us sitting in a waiting room waiting for an elder, who we gave a ride, who was seeing the doctor. Anyway, Beatty does the brave thing and breaks the silence by talking to this one guy about the Book of Mormon. Turns out this guy had some pretty good questions of the soul that needed answering, and we were able to refer him to the elders in his area. Later Beatty told me he was prompted to do so. I guess I need to work on that, acting on the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

It must've been great being able to attend the Christmas devotional! I bet the conference center is such an awesome place. See if Daniel and Hannah get tickets to the Christmas concert there! When the choir was singing the piece from Handel's Messiah, I was thinking about how much you would love that classic! And whaddya know, you were there for it too! I loved President Uchtdorf's talk too.

Still, I hope all the best for everyone back home! I recieved a card from Grandma and Grandpa Camit this last week, so can you please tell them thank you for me? I'd write, but I need to find resources first. Anyway, love you all! Hope you guys have an excellent start to your holiday season!

Love you!


Sunday, December 6, 2015

November 30, 2015

Hey Mom!

Thanksgiving, Special permission denied, adapt and overcome, meeting brother Boye, and the day it stayed below 35!

 Ok, so you can probably guess that this last week was probably the most awesome week in my mission life so far. And that is absolutely true!

First off, Beatty and I are staying together for another transfer! It was killer to wait to hear if we were getting transferred or not, because both of us can act like who we really are around each other. But now that we are staying, we will be able to continue on working with the Randall Park ward and helping it get back onto it's feet! The work has picked up so much ever since we could consolidate our efforts, and I get the feeling that members here are really starting to trust us more and more!

 And yes, Thanksgiving was a blast! Because trying to proselyte or work on family holidays never quite yielded receptive folk, we stayed inside with members most of the time. In the morning we went for a walk in the same park I got the money picture in, which was blanketed in snow. We wished fellow walkers a happy Thanksgiving, and after returning to the apartment for light lunch and 12-week training, went to our dinner appointment at 2. We had dinner at a certain Bro. Van De Venter and his family. It was great! They had the turkey and the ham and the rolls and salad and the sweets as well! We were also blessed with the tender mercy of an on-TV. Don't worry, I didn't crash my motivation to serve. And the only thing I thought was really worth watching was the new Star Wars Ep. 7 commercial. I'm not going to lie, I felt really down after seeing that twice. Forgot to mention last week, but I asked Pres. Lewis during interviews if we had special permission to see ep. 7 like how Dad and other missionaries did whenever those movies came out. He frankly told me that it would be best for us to wait. Dang it. I was really hoping to tell street contact somebody in theater lines on how the force is like the priesthood.

 Still, we spent the rest of Thanksgiving at the home of Marshall Slight, the town coroner. People are always dying to see him! He's an awesome guy. And later we visited the bishop's home, as well as another member's home. Overall, a great holiday spent! 

 But a more work wise level, we had four people drop on us this last week. We spent little time pondering reasons and rather got to work finding new. And sure enough, the Lord blessed us with work to do! We found six new investigators this week despite the setback! Four of them come from a single family whose name I cannot spell due to pronunciation-to-writing inability. But they are amazing! They have three children and all four of them agreed to baptism! Awesome! I know that the Lord provides means for us to recover from out setbacks if we put our trust in him.

And speaking of diving trustworthiness, I finished the Book of Mormon again today. I've found that scripture study is more meaningful and inspired as a missionary, and while reading Moroni 10, I noticed something. Here's Moroni, basically the last man standing physically among his civilization and spiritually among the world, and despite it all, his last words before hiding up the record is his testimony and his knowing that we can be perfected through Christ because of the grace of God and Christ's atoning sacrifice for us. The last three verses of the Book of Mormon, testifying of the divinity of Jesus Christ, when Moroni could've said anything else, he chose that to write. I just loved that! It was a real testimony grower for me about the divinity of the Book of Mormon. I know that it is true, and if Moroni could hold his testimony strong despite all he went through, the battles, the huntings, death and the sword all around him, then so can we.

 Alex Boye also came through for a concert, and yesterday we had a fireside where he spoke to us. It was pretty neat! I would've loved a picture, but it was past curfew when it was over and we had to skedaddle. And lastly, I just wanted to report that there was a good chunk of the week this past week where the temperature stayed below 35 farenheit. The coat is coming in real handy now.

 Anyway, love you Mom! Don't worry, I'll still be the poison checker again, but for now I'm just doing my service as a missionary! And my-oh-my is it grand!

 Love you all!



Monday, November 23, 2015

November 16, 2015

Hello Mom!

This week:
Back to the buzz cut, Raking leaves, colder weather, teaching children, pre-Thanksgiving feasts, and inspired tracting!

Yes! Your guess was correct! The beanie was the thing I needed. And just in time too! Last P-day we went to a barbershop so I could get a haircut (Elder Beatty offered to do it. I turned him down). Knowing me you probably knew what happened; I got concerned with sounding competent about how I wanted my hair trimmed, and eventually when we got there I just told the lady to do 3 on sides and 5 on top (my cadet cut). She could only do 4 on top, so I settled with that instead. I'm not going to lie, my head's been getting colder because of it, but the hat came just in time. Additional thanks for the other things as well, I had fun telling Beatty about all the Staff shenanigans I was involved in Senior year.

So the routine followed pretty standard the past week, the days seemed to repeat themselves frequently, but we did have a few pretty cool experiences. Probably the biggest one was we arrived to a members home for dinner earlier than she expected. It being dark, we thought about just sitting in our car and waiting when I had a hunch that we ought to knock on the doors on her street instead. It wasn't really an inner conflict, it just kind of seemed more productive. So we did, and about 6-ish doors in we met this one guy named Art. Art seemed happy that we came by, and told us he had a Mormon friend in the ward, whom we knew. We scheduled a time to visit back with him, and he gladly said we were welcome too! Holy linoleum! A new potential who already had a friend. And to think we could've just sat in the car and waited! We offered a quick prayer of thanks after that one.

We also had the privilege of meeting a certain man named Jose this last week. He was keenly interested in what we had to say, and he shared with us how he wanted to become a "warrior" to God. We walked down to a local Mexican restaurant where we sat a talked over glasses of water. We are really looking forward to meeting him more often, he has a sincere desire to hear our unique message. We left him with a Book of Mormon along with the Restoration pamphlet, so we hope the best for him. I do hope he starts to feel the spirit more in his life, because he's felt it before!

Every year Yakima has a community leaf rake, and so we had the opportunity to participate in that. All the missionaries in our and two other districts showed up for it, and we had a good turn out! We raked this huge yard that an elderly widow owned, and it definitely felt good to be giving service to our fellow Brothers and Sisters. Sunday, Elder Beatty and I were asked to give talks on the basic beliefs of the LDS church. I taught the Restoration, and Beatty the Plan of Salvation. Later on, we were able to teach the Restoration again to the grandchildren of an elderly sister in the ward. I've found it different teaching children rather than adults about the gospel. Children carry such a wonderful spirit around them. We invited all of them to baptism, and they said they would! The rest of their family is less active, so I hope that this will really re-invite the spirit more abundantly back into their lives.

There was also the ward Thanksgiving party a few days ago, and it was another awesome opportunity to get to know more people! And you a lot of pie. 

Sorry if my Betty Crocker stories caused you to have concern. We have been getting fed really well by the ward the past few weeks. Only occasionally do we eat at home, and even then I'm usually clever enough to remember our experiences cooking to make something worth-full. Elder Beatty on the other hand....let's just say he's a goner when it comes to cooking. But he's a cool companion, we get along great! The jerky helped a lot with that, too.

Not to many other things are happening this week. I suppose that it's important to remember that the Lord's work is composed by those moments where the spirit is manifested through you, and we had a good week in terms of teaching by the spirit. Thanks again for your insight, I guess we all have different reactions to the spirit, and some are more emotional than others. But nevertheless, God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, and as such the Holy Ghost still speaks to us in ways that we understand. We just need to listen for them. I love and appreciate all of you and what you have done to teach me to walk in the light. It sure hasn't been easy to do so, but the rewards for faithfully following the Lord's will, no matter where we are, are just as limitless as they are unique! 

But still, thanks for you love Mom! I still wonder what would I do without you and Dad and all the good, yet slightly painful, lessons I've learned in my life!

Love you!

November 23, 2015

Hello Mom!

This week;
Rainstorms, name games, sloooow days, dang good diet crashing, getting the joint offer, inspired tracting again, and SNOOOOWWWWWW!

I'm not going to lie, the whole gift rotation kind of confuses me as to whom gives to whom, but I think it's a great idea! Just remind me every holiday season who I'm giving too! In terms of Christmas packages, is it possible that you can send me the two extremes of sustenance? i.e. homemade bread and MRE's? During the moment where sis. Lewis sent you that picture we were talking about my past life and I told her about your amazing baking skills. I just thought she would enjoy a loaf if you could send it. As for my inquiry regarding MRE's, don't worry, I am well enough off when it comes to eating. In fact I've developed some pretty good cooking techniques. I just thought it would be a fun idea/tradition to maybe carry a few around with me for the duration of my mission and then down it all at the end., you know, look cool in front of my companions. 

But in terms of Yakima, this last week we had some crazy storms blow through. On Tuesday of last week we had companion exchanges with the district leaders, and I was pleased to be in the company of a certain Elder Peterson. We got along great! Turns out he had the sames likes as me down to YouTube channels! But I always had a hard time with identifying him as a Peterson. His companion, Elder Brinkerhoff is a little more classier and simply looks like a Peterson. And vice versa, Elder Peterson carries the perfect persona to identify as a Brinkerhoff. It's just one of those funny moments.

We had some really slow days this last week though. I think it was Wednesday everything, and I mean EVERYTHING, fell through. The primary plans fell through, the back-up plans fell through, and heck, even tracting the dang street proved not only ineffective but close to pointless. And to top it all off, contacting people on the less active list led us to moved-out addresses and please-stop-trying-to-contact-me-but-here-take-some-fresh-peanut-butter-cookies-with-you people. I love Yakimans!

But we also had some good days too! The less-actives we were able to contact were warm and welcoming. Some have a sincere desire to come back to church but have hectic work schedules that don't allow them too. Others simply just need to feel the spirit rekindled in their lives, and we are there to help guide them! After all, the spirit is what makes people feel happy. We had such a day this past week, and we were able to teach an awesome lesson to a certain Sis. Cardenas. Her story is incredible, and she has been inactive for almost 40 years! But now she is so determined to come back to church, and she has shown us that she is ready to have the spirit come back to her life tenfold! 

Later on, the ward mission leader took us out to Miner's, the local dang good burger joint in Yakima (ask Grandma Swapp if she knows the place!), where we completely wrecked out diets. If you ever get the chance to visit Yakima, you gotta try Miner's. It's that good!

The day afterward we were back on the Less Active list, and we ran into another moved-out address. No one was home, but the owner and his buddies pulled up as we were walking away. One of his pals identified us as missionaries, and we got talking to the guy who lived there (who was respectful but showed no interest), and whaddya know, said roommate asks us if we want to smoke some weed. I quickly and slightly gruffly told him "nah!" And turned him down again when he said that it was "in our mission." No idea what he was getting at there. But Beatty and I thought it hilarious afterward how non-chalantley the guy asked us. I remember Hill doing the same to mess with Mckay and I in Staff, but never has someone just asked me to smoke as if they were asking if I wanted a glass of water or something.

Good times!

Still, come Sunday we were able to get Jose and the children we taught last week to church! And teach them later on too! I know that the Lord provides means whereby his children can learn of the truth, and it's an honor and a privilege to be out doing His work in the field. I am also grateful that Elder Beatty can get through to people a lot better than I can. Jose had some concerns regarding the reverance of worship, but Beatty was able to answer him in a way that spoke to his spirit, so hopefully we can teach him more! I also forgot to mention that last week we felt slightly prompted to tract a certain street we had travelled on before. We decided to go door-to-door, and we knocked on this one door that was on a side road. The lady who answered told us that she had just learned about a tragedy in her family. Beatty quickly got around to letting her know that we were here to help her out, and she agreed to let us come back to teach her about life after death. God is good.

And....we still don't really know what goes down Thanksgiving. I'll let you know what happens!

As always, thank you so much for your email! I love you all and hope the best. I'm thankful for all of you guys!


Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015

Hey Mom!

This week:
Effective tracting, guard dogs, sentiment and spirit, punching pumpkins, and CURSE YOU BETTY CROCKER!!

It is good to hear from everyone! Sounds like you guys are all holding together well. I just realized that I've been out for four months now. Whaddya know? That's already 1/6th of the mission! Nice to hear that you were able to witness Adam's physical feats of wonder. He's a pretty great guy. I probably should've made it a point to email more of my friends, but I'm afraid that I never got their email addresses or anything, but oh well. Time will come with it! I'll just see if I can get them from Mckay.I forgot to say last time, but because of the colder weather, I have now resorted to P90X3 indoors, so sweats aren't needed now. 

But yes, this week we did a lot of tracting the past few days. I'm not going to lie, it's not as bad as I thought it would be, but it certainly is a challenge. I just always thought the concept of knocking on yon stranger’s door and asking them if they'd like to hear about a message about Christ was a little sketchy. That is, until I actually tried it. Statistics still speak truth, out of the many doors we tried, not too many answered positive, albeit the folks were polite! But we actually, believe it or not, found two new investigators this last week while doing it! We felt inspired to try by this one less-active, and after we found he wasn't home, tracted his neighborhood. About 3 doors later, we met the Toscanos family, who eventually let us in and allowed us to teach them the Restoration. It was pretty cool! Felt pretty awkward at first building up to that, but in the end, they'd say they’d read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. Awesome! We also ran into this one lady yesterday who has such a strong faith in Jesus Christ, and told us that she wished more people would have faith themselves. She said that through that faith, she had been healed of asthma, but she still had a leg problem. You can probably guess what we decided to do, and she said she would be more than happy for us to give her a priesthood blessings sometime this week. Double Awesome!

Man, tracting is effective to certain degree! I'd still rather work through members, but I guess the Lord prepares people in the way we need to see them.

And I also had my first run in with a guard dog this week. It wasn't too intimidating, but it was unchained and growling, so I just did a to-the-rear and we decided to come back a different day. There are worse dogs in Yakima though, last week we walked by this one fenced home and there was a family of Rottweilers in the yard, and papa dog was the biggest dog I've ever seen. Funny, when we talked to the neighborhood watchman, Bro. Harold, he told us that he had to whack that one dog with his cane once or twice, and how the animal department wanted to put papa dog down on certain occasions. Don't worry, I have no aspirations for trying a dog's patience.

On a brighter note, I've really been trying to get over my feelings against sentiment. Whenever Elder Beatty and I sit down to discuss what to teach, he likes to speak softly for the spirit to be more present. I'm perfectly fine with that, but if there is one thing Cadet Staff did to all of us, it's to take orders and carry them out, not let emotions get in the way. I've been doing my best, but oh man...I love spirit, but I hate sentiment! Where do I bridge the two?! I do my best to teach with spirit, but I do go a little quickly sometimes, and....argh. I think you can see my dilemma here. I can teach by the spirit, but outside of lessons, sentiment isn't my priority. Could work on that.

But, to cool all that mental conflict off, we destroyed our jack-o-lantern. So we set it on the ridge of the open trash can and each took turns throwing punches into it in the hopes it would snap. It didn't. And eventually I detected just how stupid this probably looked to anyone watching from their homes, so I settled for a Leonidas-like kick to finish it. The only problem is that my heel missed the majority of the kick, and I pretty much just tapped the pumpkin with my soul and kicked the can with my heel. After the pumpkin fell in, we just decided to leave it there. In other fun stories, remember Bob and Priscilla? Well, the last time we saw them, Priscilla gave us each $20. We immediately told her we would not take it, but I knew well enough that she wasn't going to take it back. So to avoid priest-craft, we are going to return the money to her next time we see her. Could you please pray that she isn't offended that we give her the money back? Because she is such a sweet old lady. I don't want to make it seem like we are being rude or anything.

I also took the time to buy some Betty Crocker Bisquick this past week. We have a waffle iron in our home. I'm not too happy about that decision now, because those shortcakes and waffles were probably the best/worst thing I've eaten on the mission so far. They were awesome! But they were so unhealthy! And this past week, we probably were exposed to more advertisement for all new movies than ever before. It's crazy to see how Star Wars is capitalizing on ep. 7. Not to mention the next Hunger Games, the new Bond movie, etc. But don't think I'm losing my focus! I am staying strong! There will be plenty of time for that later on in the future. It's all good.

In terms of needs, we're doing fine. Our iron is being repaired so hopefully we get it back soon enough. But can you send me that picture of staff from the awards banquet in that care package? The one with the whole staff on it? I thought it would be good to have something animate to describe my past life with me. Could you also please send a more-conservative? Elder Beatty has confirmed the one I have doesn't cut it. Other than that, thanks for your emails! It really is such a blessing to be serving the Lord, and I know that this is His work that we are called to do! And man, is it awesome!

Love you all,

P.S. We also helped a guy build his back deck a few days back. Brought back good memories of certain walls and fences that were built. 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

November 4, 2015

Hello Mom!

I'm forgoing the week in words for now. A LOT OF THINGS HAPPENED this last week, and I'm not certain I can narrow it down.

But, this week! Man oh man, where do I start?

OK, on a spiritual sense, we have been getting referrals rained on us this past week. I've got a good feeling that the ward members are starting to trust us a little bit more, so we are able to work more fully with them. One that we contacted are this elderly couple named Bob and Priscilla. They are a sweet old couple, but Priscilla's going through some mental challenges right now because of a series of procedures she's been through, but I can tell that she is sincerely interested in us teaching them! We were also walking in the park a few times, and on both instances we shared a pass along card, and during the other, actually had a good spiritual discussion with this one lady by the name of Sandy. We talked a lot to her about faith and hope for the future despite the turmoil of the times we live in. It was good!
Believe it or not, but we actually may have found a new investigator tracting as well! I'm not going to lie, I wasn't really expecting it, but this guy named Mark opened his door to us, and straight up said that he would like us to come back! I just hope it all goes well.

Yakima has some beautiful parks. I took a picture from the shade of a tree, and have attached it. I'm not going to lie, I really like this one. I almost thought it may be good enough to sell to Microsoft for desktop pics or something.

Halloween was good, not very eventful, but we did get to go in early for it. The trunk 'r treat went swell as well, and we were able to talk to a lot of people during it too. We also tried out this one brother's salmon ladder. A salmon ladder is when you do a pull up and then try to use the upward momentum to move the actual bar upward to a higher anchor on built frame. I couldn't do one. Beatty could do three!

We also went to the temple today. The closest one is in Columbia River, and while small, I could feel the spirit there a lot! I am so grateful for the blessings that we can receive in the temple. I love this gospel, how it doesn't change but rather is revealed! I've come to love that Article of Faith.

We do a lot of service here in Yakima. This past week and a half we did some veggie sorting at the local food bank donation center, and we also had the awesome opportunity to go and pick apples in an actual orchard. Darn, I forgot my camera for that, but I can now safely say that I ate two apples right off the tree. And they were good apples too! What an appropriate Gospel-related theme, harvesting fruit.

I was pretty glad to hear you guys helped Brooke out the way you did. It must've been bad if Dad said it was worse than his mission pads. Still, happy she's doing fine so far. And the kittens that Daniel and Hannah have right now sound so wonderful for them! Is it possible you can send me a picture?

Love you all! Hope all is going fine for everyone. I'm keeping my hand in good condition, and I hope that we all remember that Christ is the Lord, and as we approach the holiday season we can remember the gift that He is, and the gift He gives to all of us! Even the chance for eternal life!

Love you,

Elder Michael Camit

Monday, October 26, 2015

October 26, 2015 First week in Yakima

Hey Mom!

This week:
The "ghettos" of Yakima, the penthouse big-house, polite folk, Seahawk fandom, and rain!

Ok, to answer your questions, I got the box, logistics here are good (they're working on fixing our iron), my hand here is healing pretty decently, and it's all going pretty well so far!

Please don't be panicked by the first phrase in my week in words. But yes, I am serving now in the lesser-down, but not-to-bad area of Yakima. I say not-to-bad because normally I would define streets named after numbers as being a little sketchy, but 16th Ave, is actually pretty decent. The neighborhoods are practically the kind Uncle Larry lives in.

In fact, this whole transfer really shook the mission up, A LOT. So I don't know if you know, but the Yakima mission has been open literally for as long as I've been out (total time). So to get 27 new elders really was a huge addition for them. But because of the huge increase, there was a lot of scrambling done here, and in the end of it, I found myself living in an apartment for four with just me and Elder Beatty, with a new car, and a new phone! I guess it's safe to say we got the light side of that one. Our ward is named formally the Yakima 1st ward, and before the transfer we used to cover a YSA branch as well. Now we only cover the family ward. The Trunk or Treat is coming up too! We hope to really use that as a finding event, along with a Harvest dinner that they have here in November. Actually we had a baptism my first Saturday here. His name is Javier and he is 9, and I guess Elder Beatty and the previous Elder taught him. Still, the spirit was there! Everyone seemed very happy for him.

Oh, and yes, send packages to the mission office. Also, if you were wondering why I didn't call the day I departed, well...let's just say that I wasn't quite feeling like it. I'm sorry that's a horrible reason, but I guess I was more anxious to get going to Washington.

The  town of Yakima itself is actually pretty nice. You've already read about my first street-contacting in  the letter. I guess people here are more prone to being polite than in Vegas! In fact, we have found a new potential investigator named Jesse who we found through tracting out of all things. So we hope the best for him and his family! Still, we went to Wal-Mart my first day in, and funny thing, this elderly gentleman walked up to us and first asked Elder Beatty how come his shoes weren't as shiny as mine. We got talking to him and he expressed to us his concern for declining morals and how his grandchildren were going to go through that. He was very appreciative for the work we did. Whether or not he was a member, I don't really know, but people here are somehow kinder!

Heck, just right now, somebody called out my first remark about Yakima over my shoulder in the library in a friendly way!

Unfortunately, due to transfers, we lost a good amount of investigators in the YSA ward, but I have faith that through the spirit, grit, and hard work, we can find people to teach here as well! I guess it would help if I was a Seahawk fan. Everyone around here has some kind of fanfare for the team. I asked if team spirit was like this before Feb. 2014, and turns out they didn't.  I've also heard they've been doing rubbish this season, but I don't really care. Feel like there's too many strings pulling the pros.

Oh, right, my companion! Elder Beatty is from Snowflake AZ, and he's a pretty cool dude. Has cleaning standards as well! So we do our best to keep the apartment in good condition. Every morning we usually take a jog around town, so it helps to know the area.

Right, how's Vegas going for you guys? It's about the time of year the weather starts cooling off there. I don't really know what you'll be using my room for now. Storage? I don't know. But be certain Smokey's staying in good condition. Tell Evan I said hello! I hope she gets better some way or another.  But still, thanks for all the love you guys have sent me, I'll be certain to keep you updated on what happens.

Love you!

Got a picture of a caricature that Elder Bass (an MTC missionary who's practically a younger uncle Gus) and other MTC pics that I wanted to show you guys. Thought you'd like it.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Michael in the MTC

October 14, 2015

On Monday, September 28, 2015 we received word that Michael would be receiving a mission call from the First Presidency by 3:00 pm that day, and that we could pick him up at the Nevada Las Vegas Mission Office the following day.  We picked Michael up on Tuesday morning, unopened mission call in hand, and brought him home.  With parents and maternal grandparents present and siblings listening in on a conference call, he opened his mission call and found out that he had been called to serve for a period of 24 months in the Washington Spokane Mission.  (Having already served for 3 months he exclaimed, "Twenty four months!  Haven't I already paid for my transgressions?!)  He was to report to the Provo, Utah MTC on October 7, just 8 days later.  The following week was a whirlwind of happy activity as he prepared to leave.  One of the highlights of that week for me was accompanying him to the Las Vegas, Nevada Temple for him to receive his temple endowment.  That was pretty special.   One of the highlights for Michael was returning to the Nevada Las Vegas mission to witness the baptism of one of his investigators.  
It was actually good that he was able to come home after 3 months so that I could see that he needed a lesson on washing his white shirts.  Hopefully he'll remember to buy Spray-n-Wash, Oxyclean, and to use hot water:).
Michael has now been in the MTC for a week, and the following is his first email home.

Hey Mom!

This week:
Back in the system, classroom Canadians, hiding under beds, and the most non-ghetto laundromat ever!

So.....where do I start?

It was odd to have to live with guys who weren't quite used to the schedule. But all of them are great! I room with five other guys, so we have a full house. Elders Beck and Harris are both from Vegas, and we have other Elders named McGoy, Bass, and Candstandse. They're all pretty good guys, but they can be a little rowdy sometimes. Already twice we have had knocks on our door after 2215 telling us to quiet down.

All of them, including the sisters in our district, are either going to Arkansas or Canada Vancouver. One of the sisters is actually from Canada, so we are always making jokes to her about the words "about" and "sorry." But on a more spiritual side, the classroom is working out pretty well! Our teachers are focused, and we do our best to listen. Right now, Beck and I are teaching two investigators for training, and turns out one of them is an actual investigator who has the job of actually letting us practice! Both experiences are going really well!

Food here is nice. I'm limiting myself on seconds, but I'm afraid to say that I'm the not best at making healthy selections. Don't worry, every morning I'll usually go and run a mile and a half at the gym, and I have been improving with those times. I was also looking at exercise rep records at the gym, and evidently somebody was able to crank out 1052 sit-ups once. I don't know how, but I'm not planning on beating that anytime soon.

I also pulled a bit of a prank on my district leader, Elder Constandse. I got back to my residence earlier than the others after zone prayer, so I decided to hide under my bed and see how long they'd fall for it. Elder Bass was in with me on it, so I pulled all my luggage out from underneath my bunk in the most unorganized manner, and what do you know, when the others came in, they seriously couldn't find me! Elder Constandse was getting really worried, and by then everyone else had figured it out (thanks to Bass giving some tips). So when Constandse sensed that something wasn't right with my absence (he was about ready to go outside to look), I crawled out. He was relieved. That was until he opened his closet and found Elder Beck inside of it. Yeah we got him good.

Funny though, the MTC laundromat is probably the most non-ghetto laundromat I've ever been in. It's nice!

But still, thanks for the love and support! Yakima's just around the corner, and I've discovered that it gets pretty rural certain places. Anyway, I'll let you know how things go, and I hope to hear from you soon!

Love you!

Monday, September 21, 2015

September 21, 2015

Hey Mom!

This week:
Investigators attending church, English muffins, outdoor lessons, Buffalo Wild Wings and the Restoration, saying bye to Ruby, the light side of dirt, and the ugly truth (?)

We had another great week this last week! Elder Kempton and I were able to teach investigators frequently this past week, and most of them with a member present. And to make it all better, this one family we have been teaching, the Mclains, attended sacrament meeting yesterday! They really enjoyed it! T hey have two families in the ward that they are neighbors with, and then bishop got to know them better too! We really have high hopes for them!

I also was able to remember to buy English muffins for the week. I don't know why, but I guess those are my carb weakness. It was really nice to have a whole-wheat English muffin for breakfast this past week. I would've bought the white ones, but I still have Bro. Thoroughgood's encounter in mind. Another awesome food experience we had this week was with an investigator who is probably the most awesome guy I've met out here. Dave Matthews is his name, and he is keenly interested in learning more. So he decided to take us out to dinner at our choice! We met him at Buffalo Wild Wings, and we taught him lesson 1. Funny, despite the sounds of the restaurant mixed with the sports jumbo-trons, we really had a meaningful lesson over wings! Dave was really able to relate to Joseph Smith in the sense of finding truth on one's own. He said we teach him again sometime and we are really excited to meet and teach him. And here's the best part; someone else in the restaurant paid our check! 

I also would like to hook up with his cousin. Dave was telling us how he was able to get floor tickets to the Mayweather fight because of him.

We also taught a lesson outdoors, and that went well. I did feel a little awkward just sitting in the open teaching about the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity, but in the end, it went well! We also learned this past week that Ruby went back to Taiwan. We were unable to schedule a final appointment with her, but we do have the information to pass to the elders in Taiwan, so it'll be nice for her to learn now in her native language. We must not fail to pass that info. She seems like she is learning so much about the God that loves her.

I also had a bit of an experience that humbled me in a way. We were visiting the name of this one former investigator that Bro. Hernandez wanted us to start looking into again. When we knocked on her door, we heard one man scream at his dogs to quiet down and when we came in I couldn't help but notice the stench of second-hand smoke. The lady's name was Rhonda, and we got to talking to her. I had a hard time taking her seriously at first, but when I listened to her, I felt the spirit with her. She explained to us how she wanted to come to and join the church, but feared that she would be a bad image on her daughters because of her drinking and smoking problems. We learned that she loves the church, and deeply respects the missionary efforts, despite the living conditions they were in. I had a bit of a moment afterwards where I realized how much I had at first judged based off of environment. Now I realize that the spirit can permeate any condition on Earth as long as there are good people He can get to in said environments. I've found I have a problem tolerating bad living conditions, but I should realize the people that live there are God's children too. Something to work on I guess.

But, wow. It's hard to believe that three months have gone by already. It'll be very nice to see you guys again! I'm definitely looking forward to it! I still haven't gotten any word on call extension yet, but I'm certain that the Lord in his infinite ways will send me down the path that He knows I can accomplish for Him! I know that this is His true church and that He speaks to prophets today, and that if we have faith, He will answer our prayers, and He will continue to guide us in today's world. I know that to be true, and I know I will continue to learn and grow afterwards! 

Thanks for all the love that you guys have sent me. Don't know where'd I'd be without you Mom! After all you've done for me, I can't even imagine letting you down in any way! But......just wondering; have you guys suspected me to have evolved past a point of having fun? I just don't know if you guys would find it improper for me to be having fun during my week off, i.e. like seeing some movies, hanging with Daniel, etc.

Still though, I got one more week to kick down here, and I guess I'll be seeing you in exactly one week!

I love you guys!

Elder Michael Camit

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015

Hey Mom!

This Week:
Santa Claus, a most classy dinner, falling roaches, and digging holes!

Yeah, I know how you feel concerning critters. Something tells me that I was born with your sympathy towards nature, yet raised in what is best described as staunch conservatism. It yields some pretty hilarious moments sometimes. But I really wish I could've shot that squirrel. If I never draw for a hunt for various reasons, at least let me shoot some kind of critter. 

Good to hear the guests loved the ranch! I also got those pictures from the wood party. Glad to hear no one was hurt in the process. I really miss the ranch, or at least visiting it. How's Smokey doing? I haven't heard anything about my cat for a while, I do hope that you all are taking care of him. 

But the work here is going fine, we as a companionship are struggling to find new people, but it seems like those we find are solid investigators! Still, Kempton and I could use some help when it comes to talking with people. In a most recent incident where a couple of other elders were nearly mugged street contacting some folks, we've been trying to discern whether the situation is safe or not. Thankfully we haven't met anyone so physically unstable, but we did see Santa Claus this last week. 

No seriously, we SAW Santa Claus. He seemed a little wasted if I'm honest. He was walking out of this home up against Black Mountain, and sure enough, he had the round belly, the jolly nose, and the hair and beard combo. Despite the fact he was wearing a sleeveless tank top along with some shorter shorts and flip-flops, we can now safely affirm that Santa exists! 

On a more serious note, I had the tremendous opportunity to invite one of our investigators for baptism, and they accepted! It's amazing to see the spirit work in their lives, and even more awesome to hear their stories and see how they never lost faith. But they also are meeting with us very frequently, and I hope that maybe I'll still be in town for the event! And on the subject of mission calls, I'm afraid I've heard no news whatsoever. Both President Snow and Elder Kempton told me they'd be really surprised if a call extension didn't come, but I have good faith they'll send me where they need me to go! But I honestly have no idea how that one is going to come about. We had interviews with President Snow this last district meeting, and he said that the mission department is pretty effective on this. I also asked if there were other trial-missionaries in the mission, and he said that I'm actually one of four. Cool! I didn't know that there were other TM's out here. 

Oh, and don't feel too bad about my room. I feel like I have an obligation to take better care of my living quarters and feel like I should go out of my way to clean it when I get home.  We did have an incredibly classy dinner on Sunday. It wasn't ultra-fancy or anything, but they served soup in saucers. SAUCERS. I've only ever heard of using such bowl-like plates in stories and movies, but to be actually eating soup from these strange things felt incredibly formal. The family also had a couple bookshelves of authentic classics, Winnie the Pooh among them. They allowed me to read it.

We also had a roach drop from the ceiling during ward council onto the head of one of the sisters there. That was funny. But we also had the opportunity to do some service this last week too. A member in another ward volunteered us to help him with some terracing in his back yard, and part of it involved digging holes and building walls. I've fondly familiar of those tasks. It felt incredibly good to get behind the pick-axe again. Definitely brought back a number of good memories.

Glad to hear that everyone is doing fine! Hard to believe my time here is almost up. Holy smokes. I guess I'll literally be hearing from you guys soon, so stay strong and keep to the Lord and have faith as well!

Love you Mom, couldn't have asked for a better mother!


Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015

Hey Mom!

This week:
Getting pulled over, corny jokes, driving again, and...uh.....You know there's not actually too many exciting things that happened this week. 

Still, it was productive!

Glad to hear that the wood project went well. Or is going well to be more specific. I've never seen a tree brought down by wind, but your story did remind me of the scene in Where the Red Fern Grows where the Billy prayed for wind to bring down a tree, because he knew that God had helped him get his two hounds in the first place.
Unfortunately, I didn't receive your pictures, but don't worry! I've done enough wood parties to know all the shenanigans that go down there. Get it? Going down? Like a tree when you, when you....ah never mind. 

But yeah, I'm really glad that all my Valley buddies are on their missions now. Something tells me Coleman'll like Ohio. But did you know that one of the South America Missionaries is THE Aaron Stout? Imagine that! Aaron Stout, speaking Spanish in that heavy South West accent! He'll probably love it too.

Yeah, so we got pulled over this last week. Nothing huge, just got off on a warning, otherwise it would've been a $305 speeding ticket. Kempton was driving. He goes the speed limit now. We were late for district meeting because of it though. I was also able to drive for exchanges this last week. I'm not as bad as I remember. It actually felt really nice to be driving again. 

And yes, as if learning to missionary rap wasn't bad enough, now I'm coming up with really corny jokes. For example, ”What did the cocoa puffs say when it came back from the dead?” "That was a cer-e-al experience!"
I'll give you a moment to recover from your groanings.

Don't worry, we still had a good week this last week. We had the wonderful opportunity to teach the McClain family the plan of salvation. Man, Sister McClain is soaking it all in! Bro. McClain is learning at a slower pace, but still, we are incredibly blessed with these teaching opportunities. We were also able to teach the Acosta's lesson 1 this week. We decided to try them in the morning, and so we did that, and whadday know! All the family is there minus the oldest daughter, Alexandra. We gave them the invitation to baptism, and Sandra, the mother, gave a slow-nodded yes. So we have hope and faith that we can continue them successfully down that course. We were also given the opportunity to visit a number of less actives this last week! And while some responses were more positive than others, we were nonetheless to get new data that we can use to our advantage. Hooray for data!

Hate to say it, but that is literally all there is this week. We were short on crazy experiences, but we were super blessed to have all these teaching appointments. We were able to have three new investigators this week! And receive a few new referrals as well!

But still, I wish and hope the best for all of you. Remember that this the Lord's work and that we all have a duty to be examples and serve others, and also to help others return to the truth and come unto it

Love you all!



Morning Dad,

I've never failed at having a spiritual pondering over the sacrament. It's fascinating to see all the important symbolism along with the spiritual values that make it such a meaningful thing to do. I've seen one of the challenges in life for me has been focusing on the Savior during the process. Still, I'll have to look at that in the perspective you've mentioned, on being at that moment tuned with the spirit. 

It's funny. After being out here I've probably come more in two months than in my whole life on how necessary it is to look at things as other people see things. Especially teaching investigators. I guess my whole life I've taken missionary visits for granted. Then I come out here and realize how deep a connection that progressing investigators feel towards missionaries, and how much that missionary remains in their memory. That's probably one of my biggest fears now, or developing fears. That I would baptize someone, but then loose contact with them because I never saw them again. 

Still, there is always room for hope! Elder Kempton and I have been really blessed this last week but finding three new investigators. Elder Holt and I found them first, a family by the last name of Acosta, and this week Kempton and I were able to catch them all home, minus the oldest daughter, and we came in and taught lesson 1. I knew the spirit was working there, and I believe that they will come to know. But we are guides, and we hope the spirit can manifest itself to their family. Still, I pray for them and our other investigators daily.

I've also come to have a semi-pride check. We were listening to Uchtdorf's talk on grace that he gave last conference, and I pondered on what he said concerning how redemption isn't bought with obedience, but with the atonement. I had to look back on my life and consider that. It seemed like all through high school part of me was motivated to be obedient because I wanted to appear more spiritually strong than my peers, kind of a filler for my social weakness. Now I realize that I shouldn't have judged them, rather should've helped them with the atonement. I guess that's something I'll be doing for life, looking back to learn and live in the present and prepare for the future.

Anyway though, glad to hear that everyone was safe at the wood party. I'm not going to lie, I was kind of bummed not to be there. Work is always more fun when you do it with friends and family. 

Therefore, the mission is still fun! I'm surprised on how fast the weeks are picking up now.

Anyway, look forward to hearing from you again.

Love you,