Monday, December 19, 2016

December 19, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           December 19, 2016

This week:
Really cold weather, Elder Mayes, snow shoveling, bike excursions (in the cold) and prime rib!

To answer your immediate questions, we'll probably be skyping next Sunday around 2:00 our time. Not certain if that equates to mountain time, or if church in Alton is still at 9 in the morning, but either way! I guess we'll be talking to you then! Also, the reason I didn't have a Santa hat in that picture was because all those elders were from the same zone that decided to do that. In my defense, I was wearing my red tie.

As far as winter logistics go, I am staying warm! I do kind of miss not wearing my Newsie hat though, but I think it probably wouldn't have cut it for the cold. The Balaclava serves just as well for biking and walking, but as you saw from Bro. Richeson's email, 6 F is really cold. As a matter of fact, during the middle of the night it dips decently into the negatives. Fortunately we are indoors for most of it, and two of these occasions was for the ward Christmas parties! Both were stupendous to say the least, and while 4th ward dished out a great breakfast, the ham they served at 7th ward was absolutely superb! They even let us take a plate of it home for the holidays, and that was really nice.

I also am now serving with a certain Elder Mayes from Lovell, Wyoming. He got transferred in from Wenatchee. We've both been out for 17 months, so our teaching styles are pretty hand-in-hand. And the best part is, he appreciates my bone-dry sense of humor too! So we've been getting along great. His introduction into the area went smoothly. Our first day was spent walking around and helping people shovel snow after the fresh fall that took place Weds. night. So we shoveled the walk of the Brights in 7th ward, and also for an elderly lady named Pat who we had served before. It went well! But the majority of our work took place in seeing Less-active members of the wards. 

Those were awesome moments! As few as they may have been we got to know a lot of new people. A lot of new friends made! And both ward councils were really pleased at our efforts, something that always feels nice. I guess one funny story came when we took a biking tour across our area to Dune Lakes, housing for the ludicrously rich. Long story short, on route I actually stopped in front of a random house to let Elder Mayes catch up on bike. Because we were in no rush we decided to knock on the door, and turns out it was another LA member of the ward we hadn't known about! His name was Cameron, and he said we could come back to visit. Cool! When we got to Dune Lakes we biked around the whole one-street development looking for a house for a home belonging to a lady named Kelly, who lived at the very end of the whole road. Fortunately we took a shortcut back, but it dipped from the 10-15 degree range down to the 5-10 during the ride.

You know that line from the Sleigh Ride, "our cheeks are nice and rosy..." Yeah I don't think whoever wrote that knew what preliminary frost-bite felt like. Don't worry, we weren't in that range. But at one point it did get cold enough where we could see the shadow and mirage of our own breath. But at the end of the week we were treated to prime rib by the Calaway family. That was dang good prime rib, but the company the Calaways provided was even better! And in the end they gave us each a gift of a nerf gun. Hooray!

But probably the coolest moment occured when on Sun. one of the High Priests, Bro. Lybbert approached us. He had previously been out with us to see various LA/PMF families in the ward. One of the families we visited was the Hutsells, who have a daughter going to the temple in preparation for her mission to DC. Because we took Bro. Lybbert out with us to visit them, Catherine, the daughter, was able to find a ride down to the temple with him, and he really enjoyed talking to her on the way down. So Bro. Lybbert thanked us for introducing him to the family. Tender mercies you know?

Yeah, I guess I'm actually going to be calling you guys on Sunday, that'll be great! I love you guys all so much and am glad that you love the Lord. Keep finding ways to share that light He has given us, you never know how much light one small little flicker of a spark can create.

Love you!


Tuesday, December 13, 2016

December 12, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           December 12, 2016

This week:
The Christmas gathering, bike crashes, colder weather, and white elephant exchanges!

To answer your question, yes, I do know Elder Bird. As a matter of fact, he came out with me to the WYM. Funny story about that, when he stepped into the airport, Pres. Lewis embraced him and said something like "Elder Bird! Now all we need is Elder Bee," and then Elder Bee walked up and said "here I am." Yeah, kind of an old joke from the guys that came in then.

Also had to chukle at your Driver's license escapade. I always liked to say my incarnation of hell was being stuck in the DMV, with your number about to be called, but never being called for the rest of forever. Gives me the geebies just to think about it.

Yep, this week was the 2nd Christmas gathering of the mission, housed by the Yaetes in Quincy. They are a very kind family, when I served in Ephrata they had us over for P-day at their home a few times. All the North zones in the mission came down for the event, so I got to see Elders Painter, Allen, and a few others again! There was a very nice brunch, one that included famous Washington apple pie, and during the program every zone gave a musical performance followed by testimonies of Christmas. It was a lot of fun! We sang Little Drummer Boy, and some other zones included cello solos, ukulele accompanists, and professional-grade singing as well. After that we all watched Ephraim's Rescue, a very appreciated break from our media library.

I also got your packages,(Grandma Camit's also came on time as well!) but I haven't opened them yet. I decided that this year I would wait until Christmas to open them. That being said, is there anything perishable in any of them? Just thought I'd ask because I'd rather not have anything go bad for the sake of holiday tradition. That would be quite tragic. But either way, thank you so much for sending them! A package sent to a missionary is kind of like winning the lottery for most of us. Thanks again for all you love and support!

When we got back, it appeared that most of our appointments had started to fall through. Blast it all, the Sanzone's lesson fell through, but 7th ward is doing a great job in keeping them friend-shipped, so we can at least know we're not the only line of contact between them and the church.

For the rest of the week, things got a lot colder in terms of the weather. The first snow actually fell on Monday, and the first bike crash occurred the following day. You see I'd be fine and all to walk, but along with there being a mile-gap between our areas, Elder Sorenson insists that we bike for the sake of time. Guess I can't blame him. But several covered-ice slip and falls later, I think we may decide to change that. Especially for this next week, as on Sat. the high is supposed to be 9 F with a low of -7 or something like that. Yeah, it's getting cold here on the basin. As a matter of fact, Sorenson is actually getting transferred to Zillah on Weds. I'll be receiving a certain Elder Mays, so it'll be fun to see where that goes!

Work wise, we got in with a lot of Less Active families this past week, and most all of them agreed to let us come by and practice the lessons with them! It helps a lot to be a friend before you try anything else. Actually, just be a friend. Christ-like Love has a way of making things fall into place. One experience that sticks out was while we were out tracting in the said-cold, Matt Alvarado, a Less Active but super-solid member, was out to get his mail and invited us in. We talked a lot about his mission experince, and we got to practice a lesson with him. That prompted him to share with us what he called a "3-min Restoration," something he learned on his mission from the grandson of Pres. Packer. It lasted more than 3 mins, but let me tell you, it was like a spiritual shock-wave that showed us a new perspective in teaching. Hooray for being in the right place at the right time!

On a more humorous side of things, we had a breakfast/white-elephant party with the 7th ward council. It's funny because the last white elephant gift exchange I went too, I got that bar of Jesus soap that Hill had found from somewhere. I wasn't expecting that again, and fortunately I landed with some creme wafers instead. I think the next time I do one of those I'll just wrap a picture of myself for my gift. I'm not trying to be prideful, but someone suggested it and I thought it'd be pretty funny.

Anyhow I'd better wrap this up before I become too concerned in what I don't have time to include. There's so much that goes on, I wish I could just write it all so fluidly. But, life marches on. But yes, I am super looking forward to Christmas to skype back to you guys! I think it'd be a little fun to try to do a family Christmas sing-along or something like that. But always know that I love you guys no matter what season it is. I love how the Savior's love goes to all mankind, I've been turning a lot to hymn 198, O Savior, Thou who wearest a crown recently. Truly remarkable how much He lives for us, all of us. Sometimes I'm in awe in how patient he is with me. But we all have a divine potential, and He's helping us get there!

Love you all!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

December 5, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           December 5, 2015

This week: Nothing too exciting...tragically. Um...we got a pizza? 

Well, glad to see you guys were spared from a T-bone accident. I guess God's not quite ready with your guys's reception party! Having the temple as part of your trip probably helped a lot as well too! Funny though, I've never heard of Dad being the one to almost get in an accident🤔.

As for the idea you had about the Christmas money, I think it would be a great idea to help someone out with! We'd have to get a plan laid out to utilize it to it's max, but in the end I guess as long as we serve someone this Christmas season. Either way, the best spirit we can feel is that of love and service. Nothing else beats that too much! And to answer your question, our Christmas party is actually tomorrow

I also loved the Christmas devotional as well. What Pres. Eyring talked about really helped build an eternal truth I didn't quite grasp until last year's Christmas. Who says that it's just a Christian holiday? The world perhaps, but Christ did live and die for the whole wide world. We celebrate the birth of the same divine being who became our Mediator with the Father, the Prince of Peace. His love is there for us, all of us. That's why we celebrate!

In terms of excitement this past week, there's not much to say. We did get to briefly visit the creche-festival at the church, and for the time we were there it was very special seeing all the displays that people put so much time into to commemorate Christ. We didn't stay for too long though, we didn't have any investigators come with us, and we didn't want to appear like we were ducking in just to get a break. But we know the members of the ward are good enough to get that part of the job done.

On that note, the family we helped someone from 7th move in, the Sanzones, said we could come by and teach them tomorrow! They have a daughter that goes to 7th ward mutual, and they've always been impressed by the family emphasis the church has. Hooray for family! We also got the chance to tract into a few great people who said we could come back too. One of them was a lady named Velma, and when we tried back her husband, Ishmael let us in in the middle of the Washington-Colorado game that was going down. It was clear that everyone's mind was on the game, so we just talked and set up a return appointment. Still! They mentioned having missionaries over before, so you never know what can happen.

I guess on a more humorous note, we were almost attacked by a giant tumbleweed last night. And even then it wasn't that exciting. Just biking in the dark when all of a sudden our low-power bike lights caught a 5 ft. Tumbleweed plant directly in front of us. At first I legitimately thought it was a monster of sorts, but then we swerved around it and saw it was just a giant ball of dried twigs, or whatever the heck those things are made out of. Looking back I do wonder what it would've been like biking into it. Meh, another time perhaps.

Yeah, it wasn't all shock-and-awe this past week. I guess you could say the pinnacle of action was watching a few C-5 and C-130's line up for landing, the weather plummeting to the low 30's, singing Christmas hymns at the Alzheimer home (Sis. Berenado's lessons are coming in handy for that one), and giving a Book of Mormon to a lady named Margaret! She's from Kenya originally and loves God and all good Christians. She also had a nice impression left of the church by past missionaries as well. She was ready to let us in due to the cold, but we couldn't due to us not having another man with us. We bore testimony of the Book and on eternal families, and she seemed pretty keen on reading it! 

Anyhoo, hope you guys have another great week in December. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year I've come to know. I love the spirit of Christ, and the smell of cookies too! I hope you guys take the time to appreciate the simple things in life this season. And I also hope you get the chance to build some snowmen too! I always loved Christmas time at the ranch. 

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

November 28, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           November 28, 2016

This week:

Thanksgiving! The John Scott connection, holiday sweets, and the beginning of the season...

So it's now officially official, we're out of Vegas? Well, that was a pleasant, lesson filled episode of life. Still, got some un-finished business I'll need to take care of there...

The past week was very very full of fun surprises! For starters, there was Thanksgiving. Compared to last year's Thanksgiving at the Van de Venters with Elder Beatty it wasn't as exciting. But still! It was a great day. The only problem was that up to that point in the week we had done some service at the food bank and proselyted a little too. But when Thanksgiving rolled around things were just a little different. For starters, we couldn't tract, and it was pretty obvious that anyone and everyone would be preparing for the festivities later in the day. Stacked on top of that is that we had zip on scheduled appointments for the whole day practically, and it was safe to say that there wasn't much going on.

So what did we do? Well we sat inside until lunch time trying to figure that out. I know, kind of not the best plan of action. I guess on an even lesser note I may have read a couple soliloquy's from the Jones's " The Shakespeare Star Wars trilogy." Those were pretty funny. I'll probably look into those when I get back. I have to say, as awesome as it is living with the Jones's, it's kind of hard because they have entire bookshelves of Clive Cussler novels just sitting there waiting to be read by someone who actually can read them. Finally around 1 we broke and decided we'd just go bike around until 3 when we had dinner. Ride was nice. 

Anyway, the Barlows had us over for dinner. When we arrived their son in law John helped us chain the bikes and invited us in. We got acquainted with everyone there, and they are a very kind and polite family. What was really cool is after we introduced ourselves, John asked if I knew Brooke. Believe it or not it took me a few half-seconds to analyze what he was asking me. As a matter of fact I heard my mind going "Brooke, Brooke, is there a member in my family that has the first name of Broo....OH WAIT! MY SISTER!"  Well turns out that this fellow John Scott had lived in Chicago when Brooke had lived there. He then pulled up her facebook page on his phone to confirm it, and sure enough, that was my dear sister sitting on that swinging park bench. Heh, I'm finding all these "small world" moments in the mission. I guess that means I need to find someone who knows you and Daniel and I would have completed the family!

Speaking of Brooke, where does she get all these connections? An island off of Portugal? How'd she even get there in the first place!? Did she do a kind deed for the Godfather's mother or something while she was living in all those  big cities? And now Ireland, of all places. Heh heh, I guess if we ever go back to Italy for the temple with Daniel I'll be the only one who feels out of place in the travel group among siblings. 

The Barlows made a great Thanksgiving dinner! And the spirit of thanks was felt pretty well there as well. We played a few rounds of a fun drawing game plus Sorry!, and then we had pie. Safe to say that we were pretty full afterward. It was mixed blessing too. Because there was a furious wind that picked up that we had to bike head-long into to get home. I've never had to pedal down-hill before to maintain momentum before, so that helped work everything down. The picture you got that day came from the home of the Hansons, whom we stopped by to share a brief spiritual thought with afterward. Sis. Hanson is probably the nicest lady I've met on the mission so far. She loves missionaries so much. 

The rest of the week served as a prelude to the coming season. Apart from spreading the #LightTheWorld initiative, we've started to see the sweet side of things. Literally. The Jones came home from their Thanksgiving holiday with a boxfull of assorted goodies. And last night as we visited the Aceys, another family in the ward, they fixed us up with some goodie bags of assorted cookies and chocolate covered pretzels. Yeah, it's going to be a great season. We've been sharing the initiative with as many members as we can, and so far it's going pretty well! Everyone seems very excited to try it out, and it's a perfect way to spread the Spirit of Christmas around. I'm looking forward to see how it works out with the world. But I am super glad to hear that the Ranch is still holding up. Say hello to everyone in Alton for me. Hard to believe that all the guys I knew down there are out and about now on their missions too. I guess I'll be skyping to the ranch again! 

I love you Mom! I hope you guys have such an amazing time living at the ranch again for some time. I also hope it snows too, but not so much for the power to get knocked out. But hey, I guess the generator can always be hooked up to the water machine. Still! Good and Awesome times lay ahead. I hope you guys have an amazing start to your holiday season/time!

Love you all!


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

November 22, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                               November 22, 2016

I was kind of surprised to hear about the progress of the house already. Heh heh, I guess I'm just so used to only Dad and I working for weeks on one large project at a time that it baffles me to think about how fast the job goes when there's more than just 4 hands!

Still, I hope that all goes well with the move back to Alton. It's incredible to think how fast time has flown the past 5-ish years. I still remember walking through PVHS's "kill zone" to the quad shortly before my freshman year. Man, how we've progressed.

In terms of the present though, things in Moses Lake are going incredibly well! I guess the funniest thing that happened was we got another Seahawks-related insult the past week. We knocked on a "rough-crowd" street when we got talking to this one guy who clearly had no respect for us. The first thing that deduced that was me asking if his blue and green porch lights were for law enforcement and veteran support. His response was an aggravated "No, Seahawks man! What are you, from Bay area?" I guess he missed the memo for that one. But still, I guess as long as they're doing well, the 12th men are always happy. I can't even imagine what it was like for the elders who served on 2 Feb 2015, they probably had to dodge a couple of riots...

Yeah, the world rolls along. It's pretty funny whenever we get a world report of some kind and it seems like nothing has changed, or at least nobody's focused on the positive side of things. We already heard about the nation's reactions to Trump's victory. Not too surprised. Still, I guess spreading the Gospel's about the most positive message we got! The past week we met with Ian's group (He, Martin, Mae, and Jason) again for a very spiritual message on feeling the Holy Ghost and why we should read the scriptures to refine that search. All 4 of them have copies of the Book of Mormon, some in mandarin. You can tell that they all have had a profound change on their hearts ever since listening to the missionaries. We took them to a baptism on Saturday too for someone in 2nd ward. Later on Martin told Bro. Bowen that he felt something "magic" in his heart when Sis. Rasmussen, a Sister missionary, played "come thou fount..." on the violin for a special musical number. They'll be going back to China soon, but you know, I'm not too worried about them forgetting what they felt over here. 

Monday's Zone Conference had a couple of central themes: one was the true Testament of Christ the Book of Mormon was. We spent a good deal of time as a whole tri-zone simply finding different prophecies of Christ from 1 Nephi to Helaman in the Book. It was very insightful, because it helps a lot with short and powerful statements from the Book of Mormon. We also did a lot of role-plays on street contacting using the Book of Mormon, Plan of Salvation, and Family History. We had a chance to later implement that night, and we actually got a return appointment with a fellow named Tyson for family history! Heh, Tyson reminded me a lot of a local Valley boy; it was fun mentally translating his response of "ah...heck, why not?" to "well, I can't really see why it's that important, but I guess it wouldn't hurt to try!" 

They also introduced us to the new Christmas Initiative, which is sweet. I would definitely recommend sharing it with anyone and everyone. It's very service orientated, and you know, for the upper-class build of Moses Lake 4th ward, would fit right up the alley! 4th is particularly good at their emphasis on missionary work. In the course of our brief follow up visits on their efforts, two families asked us if we could give them copies of the Book of Mormon and/or pamphlets to give to their friends! We also were biking around the past week and stopped to help a move that was taking place. Bro. Bright from 7th ward was there helping his friend and family move. It was a big truck, so we got to help them out. Bro. Bright's friend, Matt, was very appreciative of our efforts, and we got to visit briefly over pizza afterward for lunch. While we were talking someone rang the doorbell, and it was a little girl from next door who had come to play with her friend. Rather tragically we had to explain to her that her friend didn't live there anymore. Yeeeeeeaaaaahhhhh, we all felt pretty horrible after that one.

Other than that, a lot of biking in cold weather. I'm also recovering from a cold right now, I caught it about mid week. But, we stay layered up, I finally got to break out the coat again ever since Yakima, and that felt good. It's always nice to have a reliable coat on you. Everything else in logistics is in ship-shape condition, but my shoes are taking a whole other form of punishment from the bike pedals. They'll hold though. And to answer your question, yes, the gloves are still holding up great!

Yeah, let me know how the move goes and everything. I'm excited to see that you guys are going to be living at the ranch again for winter. Favorite time of the year in a more favorable spot of earth! I really do love you though, dear Mother. And I really love all of you guys who I got to know in Vegas too! It's a terrible clock now, though. I only have something like 30 or so emails left though. Sheesh, that's a scary thought. There is still so much that I need improvement on, and so little time left. Still, make the most of it, you know? Anyhoo, hope you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving! I am thankful for my Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ, my dear family, puppies and kittens, imagination, the 1st and 2nd amendment, and Old Spice. 

Love you all!

PS The picture is with Elder Taele, who's basically the coolest guy in the mission ever. Kind of like The Rock, but with hair. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           November 14, 2016

This week:
Welcome to Moses, Elder Sorenson, back to the bikes, member-perks, and other tender mercies. I guess.

Before I forget, I mailed that package of stuff to the Ranch. It should be there today, but I'm certain good ol' Mr. Palmer will hold onto it until you guys get there again! Hopefully. There's just a few trinkets in there. One of them is a license plate. We found it while helping clean Teri's place not to long back. Thought about putting a sticker on it that said "State regulation (whatever one legalized weed) is a JOKE!" I remember when Daniel did that right before he came home with the Italian one he had found, only he made fun of the postal system instead. Thought it would be a fun tradition to try myself.

Anyhow, Transfers in and of themselves went relatively smooth. As a last hoorah in Eburg we all went to Super 1 and bought donuts. And I'll tell you, they were good donuts! When the convoy got there I rode with Elders Summit and Hanna, who were both going up North as well. Darrell Vad de Venter from Randall Park ward was driving, so it was nice to catch up with him. 

The transfer routes forked at Quincy, so we got to camp there for about 45 mins. While there I got to meet with the Ephrata crew again, and that was nice! Got to see Elder Painter, Sis. Holmes, and Hermana Juarez again! The rest of the trip went fine, and in no time we were at Moses Lake. Elder Sorenson is a very humble and incredibly innocent fellow from Star Valley, WY. And so far, I can actually say this safely, we get along great! Our personalities line up pretty well. 

We also house with members too! Which is incredibly nice. The Jones are very kind couple, and they've been housing missionaries for about a year now. And the best part is, Sis. Jones makes home-made bread for us! So it's quite nostalgic to say the least. Bro. Jones just got called to be the Spanish branch president, and every morning we get the brief chance to talk about scriptural studies with him. We are also very certain we keep the room they let us stay in in ship-shape condition, and it's probably the best housing I've had on the mission so far! We're also biking again, which will provide with fun winter stories, and there's a great feeling of love in the ward! That, plus everyone in the wards we cover are pretty extroverted, so it's easy to get along with them. 

Specifically we cover 4th and 7th ward. We got the chance to attend ward parties before yesterday, and everyone there was quite welcoming and happy for us to be there.

In terms of work, right now we're teaching a small group of friends who are from China. They're names are Martin, Ian, Mae, and Jason. They work with REC, the local big business, and were first introduced to the Gospel by a work associate. They've been taught everything, and right now we are helping fine-tune their spiritual sensitivity. They will be travelling back to China in December, so we're also helping them prepare for that transition. The first day I was here we straight-up tracted the whole day, so it felt accomplished but nobody let us in. The areas we cover are mostly upper-mid class, so folks don't feel a terrible inclination to hear from us. But they are polite and I feel like I'm going to like it here in Moses Lake!

Funny, I kind of feel secure in the future for the first time in a few months. I actually feel like things are going to go well here. Eburg taught me a whole lot of lessons about...everything. And I'm already starting to see how that is shaping me as a missionary too.

Anyway, good luck with everything in the move, I'll be sure to keep you guys in my prayers. Prayer always goes a long way I've come to find. Still, I really love all you guys have done to help out with everyone. Still, if it wasn't for the Savior we wouldn't be able to do anything. And I'm really looking forward to the season we get to celebrate His birth. A good time in the year to give Thanks too! And it'll going to be a great season, I can already tell!

Love you all!

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November 7, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           November 7, 2016

I really appreciate it, but you don't need to worry about sending me a replacement pair of slacks. They were the blue proselytizing ones, and I think for the time I have left the other four should cover. I guess if you still want to send me another pair you can, but I think I should be fine. And you know, it's really funny. All of my pros slacks have taken damage in some way or another to the point of them hanging until proper repair, except the light grey ones. And those are the most un-comfy pair! And despite that they've held up despite miles of all-terrain walking, weather conditions, and that one time I crashed into a stop sign in Yakima. 

Anyway, before you think I'm getting too personal with my clothing items (because I think it kind of dumb it when missionaries go tie-shopping), I should probably relate to you the experiences of this past week.

Halloween was fun! The Kalua pork turned out as great-tasting as it was nostalgic! The crock pot was a little too small, but we cut the roast up and it turned out great. So we stayed up from 6 to 9, eating kalua and rice while playing dice and board games with the 2nd ward missionaries. And for the next few days that became the highlight of the week.

Things...didn't really get hairy after that, but it definitely took a turn for the negative. Not too bad though. On Friday we got word that Cassie wanted to be confirmed into 1st ward, even though she had moved into 2nd ward. She hadn't quite grown too accustomed to the new ward yet. Subsequent calls to ward and stake leaders later made it clear that wouldn't be possible, so we called Cassie and asked if we could come over and explain the situation to her that night, you could tell she wasn't too happy to hear that she couldn't be confirmed in 1st. Let's just say that the delicacy of the situation soon bore down on us pretty well, we didn't not want to push Cassie the wrong way, but fortunately we were able to get someone from 2nd ward to come with us, Bro. Branson. Stake President Grow called next and suggested we post-pone the baptism until the next Saturday so Cassie could have enough time to spend in 2nd ward to become comfortable with her new ward family. Moving the baptism was a tough decision, since it was scheduled for the next morning. But we decided move ahead with that and started to coordinate that. Then Pres. Lewis called and we talked about it, and after a lengthy conversation where we isolated the main concern to us not handing her off to 2nd ward elders as soon as she had moved. I felt pretty hopeless and it was crushing to say the least.

Still, when we went over with Bro. Branson later on, he took control of the situation perfectly. He had leadership experience before and was quite familiar with Cassie's concern. In the end it all turned out smooth as silk. Cassie was totally understanding towards the ward boundaries, and Bro. Branson basically became her new best friend. She also understood more that the Lord had her in this ward for a reason, and she was perfectly fine with moving the baptism to the 12th. Still, the whole process of settling that was quite stressful, and in honesty, I felt that it wasn't my strength that was carrying me through it. In between travels and during calls we also witnessed a cat get hit by a car, and that normally would've dented my ability to think straight. But something kept me going. It was nice being able to report that it all went well to the different leaders after we had settled the situation. Still, even after that all I felt so...inadequate for not handling the situation beforehand like President suggested we should have done. At the end of the day I found myself on my knees begging Heavenly Father to have patience with me and my imperfections. I was broken, quite frankly. After that prayer though, I felt an impression that I should kneel again and thank Him for my family too, and so I did. 

It was then that I felt like you and Dad, along with Paul Brooke and Daniel were around me, kind of in a group-hug feeling. And I felt the Savor's love there too. Sort of felt like the group-pictures we took at Hawaii before I had come out. It was then that I felt like Someone else much more eternally special was there bearing it up with me. I wasn't alone after all! It's probably the first time in my life I had felt the strengthening power of the Savior's atonement getting me through all of that.

I had felt the forgiving power of it before, but nothing like what was behind me then. 

I learned the next day that I'm also being transferred to Moses Lake. And whaddya know, Elder Vejnar is taking my spot! Same guy who I served in Yakmia with. Everyone was quite happy to hear about that, Elder Hanson in 2nd ward particularly, since he had also served with him in Yak in the Randall Park ward. So, it looks like my time here in Ellensburg is drawing to a close. And man, what a wild ride it's been. Bishop Schilling gave his personal thanks to myself and Hermana Shewell (a Spanish sister who's getting transferred as well) yesterday during fast and testimony meeting. We both bore our testimonies, but there was a LA member who had come that day. His name is Don, and he got up and spoke about how much spirit we brought into his home every time we visited. The spirit of Christ was so strong in that meeting. I kind of felt like we did a good job here after all, despite the challenges. I'm looking forward to see what Moses Lake is like. Evidently there's a large LDS community there, but either way, it's going to be great!

Anyhoo, thanks for all the love and support you send us! Thanksgiving is coming up, and as such it's the perfect time of year to be thankful for everything that we have, down to the dirt under our feet. I'm excited to hear how living at the Ranch is going to be at again. Smokes and Harley will love it there again. Particularly Smokey, 'old cat's probably going to need to re-learn how to hunt. I'll keep you guys in my prayers!

Love you all!

Monday, October 31, 2016

October 31, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           October 31, 2016

Wow, hearing about Jennifer at the temple was surprising, but also really awesome! (Jennifer is a woman that Michael taught on his mission in Las Vegas prior to going to Washington.) I'm afraid I lost contact with her as soon as I left Henderson. I am super glad to hear that she was going through the temple for her ancestors. Hooray! She's active! I wasn't certain how she fared. Also super glad to hear about Clay and Alayna. The latter of whom I didn't know was serving in the first place. Heh heh, seems like all my best-of-bestest buddies are going to be Spanish speaking. Clay, Mckay, heck, maybe Elias got converted and is serving somewhere South too!

 BTW, when is Mckay reporting? I'll be certain to stay in touch with him while he's out.

 In terms of a Christmas package, there's not much that comes to mind. That Granola you sent me last year (the combo of the PB cups, pretzels, and dried bananas) was dang awesome. But the only thing that comes to mind is maybe a scrap-book of my life. I thought it would be fun to have a brief summary of life up to that point. Other than that, I guess you could surprise me! I'm actually going to be sending a package home soon with some stuff that's no longer needed, and a pair of slacks in desperate need of repair, from repair. You'll see what I mean.

We're doing well! Transfers are around the corner, and the holidays are almost upon us!
This past week was full of odd little surprises. It's hard to pin-point a few of them, but life in E-burg progresses as normal. I did get to go on exchanges with 2nd ward, who covers the campus. And that was fun! Actually getting to talk the Gospel to folks about my age made it a little more comfortable. Cassie and Turk are going to get baptized this next week! And that's exciting. Or at least Cassie is. Turk's only 7, and he finds church boring enough to the point where he doesn't want to be baptized. I can't really blame him for his age, but the really cool part about it is Cassie's been praying for him to find that answer. Shows that she's really devoted to the Gospel enough to want Turk to follow it in his life. But man, you can really tell the change she has in her from the spirit working in her life. She is super ready, and Turk will come around when he does. The last lesson we had was Laws and Ordinances, and to be honest with you, it was kind of rote. Had a hard time feeling after the spirit for a portion of it, but it came back as soon as Elder Ackerman and I, along with Bro. Peacock, bore testimony. That's when it felt like we were doing the right thing. Testimony really helps!

We do have one fun story to share though. So we were walking down the street when a member from Bremerton WA pulled up next to us with the hopes of offering us a $20 for lunch. We're not supposed to take money from members, even from meals, and we explained that to her. But she persisted like heck, and not wanting to make too much of a scene at the moment, I finally succumbed. Tragic, I know. Elder Ackerman was not happy, neither was I. So we carried the 20 around with us for a day and half looking for a homeless guy to give it too. Finally had our chance when we were walking to our dinner appointment on Friday. There was a fellow who looked down-on-his-luck outside the Grocery Outlet, and he had a cardboard sign facing oncoming traffic. So we walked up behind him, and I handed him the 20. We were late, and so we kept walking, but the dude had us stop. By this point we were beyond the cardboard sign he had set up, and we saw that it wasn't a sign, it was home-made agate display. The guy was selling agates on the street. Eventually he gave us a chunk of Ellensburg Blue from his display. Not certain if we got conned, although it was funny to think about, and our dinner actually observed the rock and to a degree told us it was authentic. But I guess either way, we helped the guy out. Knowing Washington we should probably be happy that it wasn't weed or bootlegged Seahawks gear he was selling or something.

We also helped for the Halloween party at the Ward, and that was fun! We got to run one of the games there, and it was fun getting into character with the kids. Reminded a lot of Spooktacular. Good times.

Yeah, that's the highlights of the week. Nothing too fancy. Lots' of walking, lots of clouds. Winter's coming, and soon enough I'll be needing to break out the golashes and coat again. It'll be fun! Not looking forward to any trick-r-treaters this night. College kids probably don't trick-or-treat the same way that kids do. From what we hear, everyone goes to one street to do it. Sad, I know. Whatever happened to the days of Denver? Everyone was out everywhere for Halloween then.

Anyway, I'll include some pictures that should fill in the gaps for the past week. But thanks again for all you guys do for us. We wouldn't be able to do it without everyone's love from back home. By the way, what address do you want me to send the package too? Not certain if it'll be Vegas or the Ranch. Still! Looking forward to hear from you guys again, super excited about the move and all!

 Love you all!


Monday, October 24, 2016

October 24, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           October 24, 2016

This week:
Happy-go-luck panic, formality gets thrown out the window, dump runs, and other points of sanity.

In honesty I was kind of joking about the whole "mochi" request. While I was writing the note I had Izzy's rendition of Gilligan's Island running through my head, and at the end of that song Izzy sends a radio dispatch "..did you send the poi?" I wasn't certain if poi holds up in the mail, but mochi seemed more appetizing at the moment. It's been a while. 
I also really loved your insight about sowing seeds! That's actually one of the aspects of missionary life I've come to have a testimony for. Seeds take a while to grow, seasons in the garden at the ranch taught us that. But later on down the line it will be harvested. When the first pioneers crossed the plains, they'd plant seeds for crops that other guys who came later could harvest en route. Sometimes we're sowing, sometimes we're harvesting. And that principle goes a long way as the Gospel goes. 

Glad to hear the house is coming along well! I wouldn't mind too much about having a few pine trees obstructing a view to be honest. It would be just a little annoying I suppose, but life is full of great sights yet to be seen! And I'm certain whoever is planting them understands the height issue, but still.

In terms of the grand ole' white-shirt 'n tie black-tag machine, things were pretty good this past week! And you know, it didn't feel that way until the end of it. The process was kind of odd and a little hilarious. One experience that sticks out to mind was that we went by a spot where a potential investigator lives. Well, a different dude named Tony opened the door on us, and after offering to share a message he said we could. Sweet! The only problem was this was the second of two door approaches I've done where we got in, the first for elder Ackerman, and in honesty I kind of...panicked. In a good way. Sort of. We wound up sharing Mosiah 4:30. MOSIAH 4:30?!?! Who shares Mosiah 4:30 to a stranger you just met!? was kind of hilarious to be honest. Tony liked it. But it taught me a good lesson about teaching people, not lessons.

Heh, heh, sometimes I think Elder Ackerman has the worst trainer ever.

And so later on that night we had dinner with Bishop's family. He was at work, but they have an 18 year old son, so it allowed us to be present. Well, let's just say that it was clear and obvious that dinner conversation with sis. Schilling and her sons wasn't really going anywhere on a gospel basis. So I turned to Chris, their youngest who's a junior, and started a conversation games. I know, it's not terribly formal, but I learned from talking to Daniel that talks about worldly distractions are only distractions if you let them. But it broke the silence enough so we could relate and communicate. And you know, I think Sis. Schilling was quite happy we got them to open up about something. You could kind of tell the boys were tired of standard missionary dinner conversations.

Yeah that was a weird day. But the rest of the week was pretty nice! We did a dump run for Teri and was able to move a "terribly annoying pile of junk" from her back yard. One of the members, Bro. Tarbertt, graciously donated his time and truck for that. Teri was very happy about that. So we're going to just start serving her rather than trying to teach her anything. Now that she's not moving we can help situate her current living condition, and you know, Service can go a looooong way sometimes. Hey you know what the Air Force and Paul the Apostle say, "charity never failieth!"

We also got the chance to meet some amazing folks! One of them was named Jacquline, who was taking her smoke break while we walked by. She moved the smoke to her side and told us she didn't want it getting on us. A simple, but kind motion! So we got talking to her and in the end she said we could send the 2nd ward elders by. Cassie and Turk brought Amelie to church too! He was the friend at their lesson from last week. We were also able to secure a ride for Nathan to come to church as well! Turns out he had a lot more friends in the ward than we thought, so that opens it up for great fellowship! It was also the Primary program, and Turk had a part in it. Nathan left middway through for some reason, he did feel a little out of place, but we'll let him know we're there for him whole way through.

Other than that, the week was pretty normal. Lots of walking again. I'm surprised how fast the insoles in the shoes that Daniel sent are wearing out. But I do try to keep them polished. I'll let you know if anything comes to mind though. Really looking forward to the Holiday season! It'll be great!

Love you all!


Monday, October 17, 2016

October 17, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           October 17, 2016 

The Temple trip was awesome! Driving down was rainy and foggy. As a matter of fact, the whole past week was rainy and foggy, which is actually rare weather in this part of Washington at this time of year. Still! The Columbia River temple is small, but it's very homey. You know how temples are sometimes built like the environment (i.e. the Philadelphia temple's look)? Columbia River Temple is marvelous, but also rustic. Kind of like if God had a mountain cabin I would say! But the spirit is the best part there. Stepping inside kind of feels like taking a step into a real sanctuary from the outside world. I especially love sitting in the Celestial room and pondering on missionary work, what more we can do to help it stronger. I got a great feeling about charity, show more charity. Definitely not something that can be done overnight, but it is something I have been needing to work on in greater detail.

In terms of work, we had a few fun experiences! For starters, it rained all week. Before the storm began on Monday we were returning some used tupper-ware to some members, and while walking up to their door a stranger who was standing next door called out to us "Oh, it's you guys!" So we got to meet Tristen, who we actually had met previously before in previous efforts. Well, we talked about the Restoration, and he was really interested! So we left him with a pamphlet with the Institute's number on it (he's not a student but college aged). We called Bro. Jewett up to let him know about Tristen potentially coming to Institute. 

Later on at night we were walking around downtown. Street contacting at 8 has always been funny due to tipsy patrons stumbling out of bars. Still, while walking around in the rain, we noticed another guy who was obviously trapped outside his apartment on the other side of the street. We circled around and approached him. His name is Bill, and at that time the key-pad to his apartment was froze up. Got talking to him, found out he was a creative story-writer, and talked to him briefly about how a lot of great stories out there contain a lot of really cool Gospel and Christian themes in them. That transitioned into us inviting him to take a Book of Mormon. He said he'd read it, but the really cool part was when we asked if we could have a prayer with him, and after the key pad failed one more time he said we could. After we finished and parted ways, we looked back and saw that he was able to get into his apartment right after we had said the prayer. It works!

The rest of the week passed rather non-tragically. One day we headed out at 2:30ish after a morning of meetings, and walked for the rest of the day around Eburg. So the shoes are still holding up! the rubber insoles Daniel sent me for Christmas last year are kind of worn down, but other than that they're holding together.

Yeah, you can tell it wasn't awfully exciting if I'm giving you a quality report on my shoes. Still! The rain helped change things up. On Thursday we got to go out with Bro. Gibb, an older member of the ward and veteran farmer. His wife is the Relief Society clerk, and she gave us a list of names of sisters to go stop by. It actually went really well! When we met with her on Sunday she gave us the actual list and explained that they've been having difficulty getting to see everyone, so it gave us a good ground for who we could drop by the next week. Later on we decided to go see another less active family in the ward, and they were actually about to call us to see if we could help them move some wood around this afternoon. Right place at right time!

One thing that does come to mind was our lesson with Cassie and Turk. We saw them twice this past week, but yesterday we got to go see them again at the home of their friends, the Van Quills. When we got there, we discovered that Cassie had brought one of her friends along to hear what we have to say. Cool! Well, mid-way through the lesson, one of the Van Quills neighbors dropped by and sat down in the lesson with us too. It was cool! None of them were very interested, but it was cool sharing the spirit there. 

That's actually the week in essence. Sorry it wasn't too exciting. I'm interested to hear how things on the home front are going, particularly with the move and the new home. Keep me updated and I'll be certain to let you guys know how great things are going. Like I'd say in past before Mom, what'd I do without you? And you know, that about goes to everyone I've ever had the privilege of knowing.

Love you all!

October 10, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           October 10, 2016

This week:
well....nothing. Really. Sorry.

In terms of this past week, I could probably summarize it by saying that winter and autumn seasons are starting to show their bitter-sweet arms. Ellensburg was covered for the most part by clouds, rain, and fog this last week. But we've yet to get into anything deep. Still! It was fun to walk around under sweater and rain coat down the dark streets of Eburg in a light drizzle. 

But before I forget, the piano was just sitting in a field.(I asked him about one of the pictures that he sent last week.) That was it. We were on our way back from a dinner appointment with the Olivers and we tried to go down a dirt road we thought led to a street we could tract on. When it was clear that it only led to an orchard, we flipped around and saw a pile of wooden junk, with the piano, off the road. So we stopped for a minute and played it. I was kind of nervous because I didn't want to look like we were trespassing or anything.

And you know, there hasn't been to much of anything else to talk about. Went down to Yakima for another trainer-trainee meeting. Sis. Lewis gave an excellent talk about the doctrine of Christ, paticularly on 2 Nephi 31. She really pointed out how important Baptism is to our path in existence, and just how straight and narrow the path really is. "On point," was one of the words she used, nothing but absolutes. In the kingdom of God there aren't any strings, and things are directly precise. Kind of reminds me of what  was told me by Elder Beatty (or was it Kempton?). He was saying how one of the AZ temples had it's wooden frame built off by 1/16th of an inch. So they tore it all down and did it again. I guess you could say the same thing about the SLC temple's original foundation. Everything the Lord does down here is exact and direct.

Apart from that, we saw Teri again. To be short, after some decently spiritual experiences, among which we blessed her home at her request, she'd doing so much better. Really, almost seems like her deep depression just lifted off her enough for her to stay completely composed. And she still loves us to death! She'll do great, and we got to actually teach her a little about the Plan of Salvation. To her, it made so much sense! 

We also have our Temple trip on Thursday, so we'll have to cut this one short. But I know that you and Dad of all people know just how amazing the temple is! So it'll be a great time, and I'll let you know how things go. 

Good luck with the travels and everything. Hope Smokes doesn't run off at the ranch. Harley will love it there too. By the way, who's building the house? Because for once I'm surprised it's not just us doing it.😄 (that was meant to be a joke).

Love you all!

Sunday, October 9, 2016

October 3, 2016

This past week has been full of odd feelings and great stories. For one, there's the year-anniversary for my week-off for the Vegas mission. Understandably that doesn't really curtail to anything important, but it was fun telling myself, "funny, this is the time I'm spending Sep 29 to Oct 7 as a proselytizing missionary!" Means there's only a shorter time to the deeper fall and winter, because those are my favorite seasons for the work! 

The present has been coming around well though. We weren't able to meet with Oliver or Andrew again this past week, but we did have some other miracles occur. On Monday we found ourselves walking over to go see Brandon and Sis. Benderik. We caught them in the nick of time! Had we not walked the direction or route we did, chances are we would've missed them. Brandon's only 9, so we teach very simply to him. But after we left we walked over to the intersection, and in the midst of the yellow light (it was about 8), we pondered where to go next, with the time that we had. Just then someone called out to us from a corner house, and after walking over we got to take in the fellow who had called us, and met Nathen. He asked if he could borrow our phone to call a few people, and we didn't need to ask why. Because he was covered in blood. Kid you not, it looked like the guy just got out of the fight of his life. Fortunately he was no scrapper, he had just fallen into the  corner of a counter top and gashed his jaw open. Well, in the process of letting him borrow the phone, we got talking about the Plan of Salvation, and he seemed intrigued, to an extent. He had met with elders before, and we stayed and talked with him outside until one of his relatives came to help patch him up. At the end of the week we returned and he was outside with his friends. Got talking to him more about the Gospel, and although his friends excused themselves he stayed and listened and we answered his questions. He was intently listening too! And in the end he accepted a Book of Mormon, and committed to read and pray about it too. He even was excited to tell his Mom as she pulled up mid-conversation that he was meeting with us again! Seems like the guy's had it rough in life, so hopefully the Gospel will help him out.

In other news, I was treated to probably the saddest scenic view in my life. En route to dinner on Tuesday we passed by a couple of sunflower fields, and they were all wilted. Now I'm not the type to give sympathy for shrubbery, but seeing the thousands of flowers turned brown and facing down was just....depressing. I'll include a picture so you'll see what I mean. We also locked the keys in the apartment a few times this last week, so we had to break in through a window that we left unlocked. Previously the other elders would break into our apartment to steal goodies like cookies or brownies. That forced us to lock all the windows, and whaddya know, we still lock the keys in one night. Fortunately the landlord is in the ward and he was able to come with a spare. 

We've also been meeting with a certain Teri as of recently. She's a former investigator but has the nicest heart ever. She suffers from depression, and when we visit her we simply talk to her and let her express herself. Recalling Bro. Slade's experience from Yakima helped. But she loves us when we come by, it gives her hope. Last time we got talking about how much God loves her and how much Christ suffered personally for her. We offered a priesthood blessing to assist, and she loved what the spirit spoke to her. We'll continue helping her out all the way through. It's nice to simply be a comforter for someone who is brokenhearted.

General Conference was awesome! I probably don't need to go into too much detail. But I loved Elder Nelson's talk about how we have to right to feel joy everywhere we go, no matter where we're at in life. I also loved the member-missionary talks as well. Heck, I loved all of the talks! President Monson's brief address about the Plan of Salvation was so touching. It's incredible to know that Heavenly Father still speaks to prophets in today's world. I know that all of those men are inspired and direct witnesses of the name of the Lord. Because in the end, it is Christ at the head. No way those guys could do it all themselves. 

Afterward we got to see Cassie and Turk for a brief lesson on prophets. Cassie told us that the previous week she had prayed to know if the Book of Mormon was true or not. She told us that only 10 minutes after she had said that prayer, she had pulled up to a 4-way stop. And across the stop, was us evidently! We had driven right by her without noticing. And then the next day she had walked into the Doctor's office and Sis. Van Quill, her immediate friend who was there with us, was there too! We told her that God has a funny sense of humor to give us signs like that sometimes, but ultimately true conversion comes from the heart, and what we feel. She understands, and she and Turk will do great! After dinner the next hour, we got to meet with another fellow named Mike. Long story short, it was a miracle we were able to catch the guy in the first place. We had set up the appointment the night before right as he was about to drive off. He has a lot of friends serving missions now, and he even showed us a video of one of them opening his call. When we talked to him about the Restoration and Joseph Smith, he got super interested in reading the Book of Mormon. He even downloaded the Gospel Library app as soon as we mentioned it exists. All that was great, because I recognized in the course of teaching how rust I had gotten from the lack of solid appointments in Ellesnburg. Still, after a prayer was said, I got a prompting that we should extend the baptismal invitation to him. We did, and he accepted! Even told us he knew it was the right thing to do to start new! Yeah! 

In short, it's been a pretty good week. I also got the package, thanks for all of it! You guys must've really loved that BBQ place in Atlanta because normally we don't get merchandise from restaurants. That's been something I've been hankering for a long while now, good BBQ. Who knows? Maybe it will happen. Until then, love you all! How's the house in St. George coming? I'm interested to see how that progresses. Let every one know I love them, and I keep you guys in my prayers. Thanks for all you guys do for me and the other missionaries serving. Little acts of service go a long way.

Love you all!