Wednesday, August 31, 2016

August 29. 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           August 29, 2016

Sounds like you guys had fun at the ranch with work. I know I would've had I been there to help. Rain's always played a funny little role up there. I remember when we were invited to the Cox family reunion by Gus in the entrance to Stout Canyon. It rained there, bigtime. One of the on-going jokes among the folks there is "who prayed for rain?" because it always seems like Heavenly Father's timing is humorous when it comes to weather.

Gee, it's weird enough to contemplate the differences between Ellensburg and Vegas, but also for Alton too, strangely. I'm really going to enjoy that place when it's all said and done. But even then, the world-famous Ellensburg rodeo and fair will be taking place this next week, and from they tell us the town really takes on a different perspective when that happens. Probably a little more tipsy than the Kane County fair, and even then we don't have any plans on attending. Which reminds me to ask, where's Alton serving at?

But this past week was one of mixed emotions among other things. Elder Ackerman's adjustment to missionary life went off to a wee rocky start. A blown lesson here and there didn't help in any way, shape or form, and eventually we had to discuss what we both could to do to improve. But fortunately, we were able to figure it out for both of us. I had a good reminder to address my pride the past week, and I saw that I need to stop thinking it like a "totem-pole" mindset for training. Don't worry, we figured it out, but Ackerman did do a really good job and letting me know that we are both equals on the same page here. And now we're getting along great! 

And along with that new unity came a new sense of the area! And already a new brick wall we unceremoniously ran into, too. If you recall Tyler, we got to meet with him a few times in the week, and we figured out that bottom line he prefers controversy and politics over spiritual matters. But he made us a deal after going over with him the importance of reading the Book of Mormon and seeking an answer from the Holy Ghost. He said that for every day he'd read and pray, we'd need to cut meat. Reason? I don't know, vegetarians...

Not that that's hard, I've handled cutting sugar to help Tandra quit smoking. But meat? Oh boy. I'm taking it in a comical sense for the sake of sanity. But still, while at dinner yesterday, over mac n' cheese and fruit, I mentioned how I was probably going to buy some tofu in substitute for my turkey bacon. Bro./Dr./Bishop Davis joked that me going from turkey bacon to tofu was going to lead me down a path to the left side. To which I responded that if that was the case then we'd probably go trade in the Corolla for a Prius or something. Anyway, I'm just praying that Tyler gets his answer sooner than we hope. For the right reason of course, but still, I may switch to real bacon when this is done for some time.

Other than that, had a couple-three work experiences this past week. We stopped by a former investigator named Tamara a few nights ago. As we pulled up and sat there for a minute, she’d pulled up and it was obvious that she saw us. Awkward, so decided to get out of the car and go tract from the top of the block down to her place. Well, it didn't really work. But we decided to knock the door next to hers, the last in the block. And we met this fellow by the name of Donald. We connected pretty easily. He liked Nintendo, I like Nintendo, Lord of the Rings, etc. When we start talking Gospel though, he mentioned to us that he's not much for church-going. He lost his mother and two brothers in a house fire some years ago. We talked about Eternal families with him, and in the end he said we could come back. Cool! It's cool to see how the spirit usually leads us on a different path we may not have expected. 

Love to talk a little more, but I'm having trouble summarizing in words the rest of the week. Glad to hear everyone is safe and sound with the work. Seems like Daniel always gets to operate equipment on a one-day crash-course in that field. Recalling Ray's bulldozer years back...Still, love you all! I pray for you guys, because we all need it some way or another. Something I'm coming more and more to learn, because there's no way in heck we could do this one alone. Not without God's help. Joseph Smith couldn't have done what he was able to do, ever, if it wasn't for God's hand. Christ will always minister to everybody, and His prophets too!

Still, love you Mom! I keep you and the fam in thoughts and prayers every day. We'll keep working here and things will keep getting better and better!


Tuesday, August 23, 2016

August 22, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           August 22, 2016

This week:
No coincidence names, The hellos and goodbyes, Elder Ackerman, Good ole' Marshall!, sudden living changes, existential objectivism, 

Ok, for the record I'm very happy to hear about Mason's marriage! Loved the pictures you sent! Every time I see or hear about a wedding it always recalls in my head the scene from Fiddler on the Roof when the wedding happens. And then I find myself running through the lyrics and tune Sunrise, Sunset.

Did you guys do anything fun while down in Georgia? I think it would've been fun if everyone in the fam could've come! But we all have our schedules and I'm "posted" (as Mckay says) in Ellensburg for another transfer. Still, before we sent Elder Summit off we had room for one more cool run-in. Last ward council we had, Sis. Grover, our dinner calendar coordinator mentioned we should go stop by a recent-convert named Vince. Later that week we stopped by and his room-mate, Tyler, answered. Basic door-approach more or less. Vince wasn't there, but Tyler then told us that he had been reading the Book of Mormon as we had knocked. Well, whaddya know? So we sit down with him and answer any questions he had. He's a researcher, so he does a lot of digging, but he's at least coming/going to the right sources. We hope. Vince eventually came home and joined us, and we met with him separately afterward. He was a real talker, but a good guy. 

Anyhoo, the next day we drove down to Yakima to drop Elder Summit off. After that I teamed up with one of the Yak companionships for a few hours. Funny, they were living in the same apartments our DL's lived in when I was there. Bro. Unsicker, the guy who let Elder Beatty and I skype at Christmas, lives right beneath them. But unfortunately I wasn't able to run into him. Still, it was a throwback, they really cleaned the place up! En route to one of their appointments we were stopped at a stop light. I then noticed a rather large hand in my peripherals motioning towards us. I looked over, and it was Marshall Slight, the town coroner, smile and everything! You'll recall he was the guy who fed Elder Beatty and I the "steaks" way back when! Before the light turned green I had just enough time to roll down the window and yell "hey Marshall!" before we went. 

At or around high noon we picked up the new guys. Ran into Elder Allen while waiting. He's still doing well. I was assigned to a certain Elder Ackerman from Elko, NV. A nice break from serving with all the Utah guys. After we got back to Ellensburg, we went through what it is like to serve in Ellensburg. He's a timid fella, and he's awfully nervous about talking to people. But he's got one heck of a greenie fire. So far we've been able to get along pretty well! It sometimes takes some time for new elders to open up. But I'm certain I'll come to love this guy!

I also don't think I mentioned, but we also got moved from our apartment to down the street a little way. The Sisters moved in with the Hermanas, and we got the duplex they lived in. Took some time to get it all situated, and we had to make brief trips back to the old apartment to make sure everything was accounted for. Which it still isn't. And just as soon as that happened, the other elders had to move to the apartment next to ours. So on Friday we spent the practical afternoon helping them and the Elder Call, one of the mission-housing staff members, move everything out. Yeah it took some time, but it was a good intro to the service side of things here.

Our first act of proselyting together took place when we saw Tyler again. He has a lot of questions, but he's sincere about his desire to listen to what we have to say. Later on we found ourselves tracting, where we ran into an elderly guy who had an incredibly odd view about spiritual things. It was very objectivist, meaning it only has meaning if you and you alone build it up. But in the end he said our life force all gets recycled, so I'm not terribly certain how that works out. Still, later on we saw Bro./Dr./Bishop Davis and Bishop Schilling to line out what we could do to help the ward progress in the work. Good visits! We have high hopes for the area. And it may just work too! Yesterday our friend Trent Walker (who just got home from Vegas West mission), shared a missionary moment in Elders quorum. We hope that experiences shared like that can create an atmosphere where member-work will want to come alive. Later on we dropped by Tyler again, and he told us he read a verse in the Book of Mormon that stood out to him personally! It was in 3 Nephi 18, Can't remember the verse.

Apart from that, that's the week in a nutshell. Things are going to be going super great we can tell. The rest of the district is going outstanding as well, 2nd ward had an experience similar to when we found Alva and Bev, someone just pulled them over and started talking to them. Even gave them food too! Yeah, it's been a good week. Can't wait to hear how the sanding at the cabin goes. Don't catch any fields on fire!

Love you,


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

August 15, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           August 15, 2016

Yep, I got the pictures from Makayla's wedding (Michael's cousin). Hard to believe that chapter in life has come up already. Funny, the other elders were quick to jokingly critique on everyone's dress, much to the distress of the sisters present.

Other than that, it was a slow and incredibly painful week this past week. Weather was hot, not too many doors were opened, and more and less it took a while to get places. In honesty, the work has been dragging a lot the past transfer. But I can take comfort that the rest of the District is doing well. Relations with the other elders did make some improvement, minus a couple of very out-of-conduct scenes. Elder Summit is getting transferred to Stevenson to my good friend Elder Peterson. And I learned I shall be training a new missionary, that the other elders have already promised to corrupt.

Ohhhhh boy....

I'm looking forward to it. Still, prayer shall go a long way for this one. I'm starting to love a lot more than I have found myself. Recently I'm trying to see the other elders in a newer way than I have before. In the course of the transfer I found a seed of pride I had to uproot rather painfully the past week. I felt a little entitled to some form of consolation for obedience, and I recognize now that I should have done better. Will do better.

*sigh.......I don't know. I have high hopes for the next transfer, but in honesty the only form of satisfaction I'm feeling for the past transfer is in the overall success in the district. The sisters had one of their investigators put themselves on date! It was cool to hear about! And the overall work in Ellensburg and Cle Elum has been picking up, no doubt. I just hope this next transfer we can feel as well as know that our efforts are going for our benefit.

In terms of fun stories, walked about 5 miles down a country road this past week. Main highlight.

Love you Mom! Sorry to keep this one short, but time is short and other things have a habit of coming up in the day. I appreciate all the love you send us, both I and the other elders. We need it much.


Sunday, August 14, 2016

August 8, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           August 8, 2016

This week:
Tragedy and broken chairs

Don't be alarmed by the week in words. It was a good week. But one of my go-to phrases is "well, that was tragic." And I have to say I found myself saying that a lot during the past week.

For one, the antics that the apartmentship pulled off seemed to be in the direction of trying to get a reaction out of me. I found myself cleaning the carpet with a carpet cleaner we borrowed from DJ, our service coordinator. As if it wasn't loud of enough using it in closed quarters, all of a sudden two ear-piercing shrieks filled the room as the other three elders threw our CO detectors in. When you un-plug them they emit this ultra condensed hertz wave that basically tells you you're getting poisoned. Anyway, I turned the cleaner off and threw those back into their room. They repeated the antic again while I was showering after getting the door open. And then on Thursday while I was leadership-planning in a different room than normal they threw my normal office chair off the balcony for no reason other than my neglect to pay them a few complements. I guess it was Elder Summit's chair by ownership rights, but still, I liked that chair. And this morning I learned that the door anchor I use for pull-up bands was thrown un-ceremoniously our the car window at the Hermanas by the anonymous subject of Elder Bee. The Hermanas never did pick it up, so I lost that. When I asked Elder Bee why, he told me because I was always mean to them.

That's just their attitude, and in honesty I kind of laughed about the chair. Sitting in a wood chair keeps me more attentive to studies. 

Then another night we were for some reason practicing grapple moves when the neighbor downstairs came up and pounded on our door, and now whenever we enter a certain apartment complex where the Hermanas live, the manager looks out his window because Elder Summit likes to floor over speed-bumps. Tiwi doesn't read those.

Fortunately the week wasn't too bad outside of that (that carpet shampoo-er was a really cool device). We got to talk to a former investigator named Jeff, who was an ROTC and JROTC instructor. A devout Baptist, but a very kind man. We were able to relate incredibly well due to his past, and he also helped me answer some education questions I had. So despite him telling us that he wasn't interested we still were able to have good discussions anyway! In the end, he was willing enough to take a copy of the Book of Mormon, and I got a hunch that our initial friendship was able to get us to a point that previously may not have been achieved.

But we have been doing a lot of member work, and that really has helped gain trust and friendship! It feels good being at church and being able to greet someone by name!

And other than that, we traveled to Selah for a great ZTM, and we also were able to get a return appointment to a nice fellow named Dave on Tuesday while knocking doors. Pray goes a long way, and I have faith that it will work out. Speaking of prayer, I had a cool experience yesterday closing my fast. I initially was going too at 4, but I got a feeling to wait to 4:30. When the time came I gave a really concentrated effort to it, and at one point I felt the spirit super strong with it. Then the weird thing happened, I found myself praying for things I hadn't thought of before! What I found myself praying for was beyond my own thinking, it was spiritually ingenious!

But it was a good week. I'd love to talk more, but we're bingo on time, so I'll wrap it up by saying thanks for everything! Prayer does go a super long way, like more than we think! 

Love you,


Monday, August 1, 2016

August 1, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           August 1, 2016

This week:
Breaking the "board-om", convection and courtesy, Jazz in the Valley!, and OHHHH SNAP! MCKAY'S GOING TO MEXICO!!!!

AHHHAH-HAHA-HAA~! ooohhhh, man. I knew that guy'd do it! I just knew it!

I'm not going to lie hearing that about threw my personal optimism level through the roof, taking the neighbor's chimney out with it. 

Yeah, proud of that guy, proud of him. Shed a tear for him now or something. Please tell him if you get the chance "I knew you'd report to the real end of the chain of command!"

But things roll on with Ellensburg. The Hermanas had a baptism this past week for their investigator Felipe, and that was very special. The meeting was in Spanish, but like the one we took Alva and Bev too, the Spirit was felt. Particularly at the baptism itself. It always gets so quiet whenever a baptism occurs. And after Felipe came out of the water, the Spirit felt like a wave coming over me. I'm sure everyone else felt it, but it was awesome! Funny thing, in the most peaceful of circumstances wherever it be, the Spirit can be felt just about anywhere. During the intermission portion, the Hermanas very last second asked us to sing a Spanish hymn with them in front of the congregation. I got pretty comfortable around verse 4, so much so I sang bass! Spanish is a very cool language to sing in I've come to find in my vocal experimentation.

That was about the highlight of the week. Work was slow and few-far-between. Sandy dropped us out of the blue, rather vehemently too. But given her past I'm not judging her any which way because we know little to nothing about the details of what she endured. Not our place to know. Had to put up with back-to-back mean folks but also had to chance to have a few really good lessons with Jenny! At the end of the 1st one we showed her and her friends that were with her Mormon,org. They really liked the 12 step program, one of them is an AA graduate. We're helping her overcome her concerns one visit at a time, but she still shows really sincere interest. Enough that she doesn't let any nay-sayers tear down her faith! 

But it's a story week, a lot of fun things happened. The first incident occurred Tuesday when Elder Summit fell onto his bed and broke the board underneath. It was basically a glorified plywood board. Since he took 4 years of karate-jiu jitsu, the only logical thing to do was to kick it in half. Then we all got on board, and it was fun practicing our various hits and strikes on pieces of wood getting half-smaller. The next day we took the other half of the board and had Elder Summit dolphin dive into it after we duct-taped it to the door frame. He wanted too. A few days later I hit a "wall of sanity," and asked if Summit could break one of the boards over my head. That one actually hurt just a little. But it was still funny to scream "HIT ME!" like Joker or someone else.

Speaking of apartment inconveniences, we nearly baked last week. The place doesn’t come with build in AC and the unit we have we stick in the bedroom so we can at least sleep at night. Anyway, we were cooking when we finally decided to break down and call Bishop Schilling to see if he had a spare AC unit lying around. Turns out he did! And later that night he installed it. He agreed as well as we that it didn't work terribly well, but after leaving it on for a few days it has at least dropped the temperature a few degrees. Still! Gives me a chance to rock the old Hebrew shepherd's shawl! I'll include a picture.

Ellensburg is hosting its annual Jazz in the Valley! event, and it was fun walking around downtown talking to people who came for it. The free-style jazz made for a nice atmosphere, and we talked to a good amount of people, good and very respectable people. Helped a street-vendor for the Farmer's market take down his tent, and in return he gave us a bag of corn! Hey, I'm not complaining about corn.

Other than that, sounds like things are progressing well in Vegas. Glad to hear there wasn't a gas-explosion catastrophe. I can't remember where Acacia is at. I guess that means I'm becoming more and more of a 12th man (guy from Washington). I remember Paul being practically a Southern guy when he came back. Daniel was a straight up Italian too. Great, probably means I'll be back in some Seahawks tie pronouncing everything "wash" like "wersh"
Still, a lot of time to go, and little time to notice it. I'll include some hike pics this morning. But know that I'll always remember you guys! And the Savior loves us all! And through prophets, we understand just how eternal and deep that simple and pure piece of doctrine goes! 

Love you all!