Monday, September 26, 2016

September 26, 2016

This week:
Math puns, weed forests, old friends, and...not too many other exciting phrases. Sorry.

In terms of logistics, my shoes are holding up fine. I think. Funny, I think the most damage they received was actually in Vegas just from how hot the pavement got at times. But then again, in Yakima and Ephrata they saw a fair share of action. Both of them have a different pair of shoelaces to replace the broken ones, and I may need to relace another due to wear-and-tear. And the tread is worn down on the front sole and outside heel, so much so that it's practically slanted. And dang! They're still holding up great! I still do kind of wish I could've gotten those black-fatigue boots that they sold at missionary-mall, but the goulashes will come in handy soon enough when winter roles in. 

Speaking of which, Autumn's here! There's been great weather the past few days, and it's been great to wear a sweater or two. those are doing great too. I can't wait till it starts to snow again, I'll be able to get my Newsie-cap out. I kind of started to recognize mid-April that it's more of a winter cap. 

Apart from that, other supplies are holding up great, my sanity not so much. Nah, just kidding, but things have been a little crazy this past week. For starters, we got the chance to sit down with the Dormandy's, a family in the ward. Bro. Dormandy is a professor of Latin American studies at CWU, his wife is a chemist. The conversation was going pretty well, and in honesty I can't remember too well how, but at one point Sis. Dormandy worked a math pun in there by saying "I'm in tangent with you..." or something like that. A few sentences later I said "I'll co-sine on that saying!" which then jumped too someone saying "It's quite positive,"  followed by some other punny dialogue that ultimately ended in me telling Elder Ackerman, "If you want to share a scripture on math, you may want to start in numbers." It went from there. Great visit though! They're an awesome family.

If you're still groaning from those, now you have a feeling at what humor we settle with out here. 

Other than that, we found ourselves helping out an elderly lady named Bonnie this past week. Us and the 2nd ward elders went and pulled these giant weeds out a small section of fenced area. I kid you not, these weeds were huge, but rooted shallowly. Definitely took some time to pull all of them out, and to give you an idea how thick it was, I was waiting for like the alien or predator to jump out and tackle me, which would've been a bummer. Considering I wouldn't have gotten the chance to cover myself with mud and scream "come get me!" into the sky first.

On a more teaching side, got around to meeting with Cassie and Turk this past week, and I have to say, they're super prepared! Turk's only 7, but told us he wants to be baptized as soon as he turns 8, and Mom said that she would be baptized with him. Go humanity! We got to meet with them twice, in the process we taught The Restoration and Plan of Salvation. For Turk, had to keep these simple. Teaching the first of the two we made a plastic-cup pyramid with Christ at the top to describe Priesthood authority and the way that God speaks to prophets. Cassie's friends, Sis. Haysom and Sis. Van Quill really helped bring the spirit when they bore testimony of the prophet Joseph Smith and continuing revelation from God to a prophet on the Earth today. Both lessons were felt really well, they're going to be baptized on the 5 of Nov., the first Sat. after Turk's birthday.

Later on we tried by Oliver's again. All his roommates were there that time, so we got to talk to all of them briefly. I enjoyed being there because it gave me a chance to flex my more social side, since they were guys and gals about my age. Oliver invited us to stay for dinner, but we passed since we had already eaten. But then one of his friends walked in and said, "hey, did you live in Yakima?" I told him yeah, and he asked if I ever visited him on 45th. Ave. It took me a while to connect the dots, but then I remembered the scene as clear as a bell, it was Andrew! Elder Beatty and I tracked into him and he was super chill, talked to him for about a half-hour then. We passed him off to YSA then due to his age and never heard from him again. It was awesome to catch up with the guy, maybe we'll get to sit down and visit with him sometime? Either way, maybe Oliver tracked us down for a different reason than we thought too.

Yep, that was the week in a nutshell. Learned I and Ackerman are staying in Ellensburg for another transfer. So it'll be great! Surprising to hear how another wood party has passed or at least coming up. Winter'll be a blast, but Autumn is already! Love you all. Thanks for all you've done Mom, don't know what I'd do without you!


Kind of a funny sign I saw. Meh. Gets the point across well I guess...

Monday, September 19, 2016

September 19, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           September 19, 2016

This week:
semester's back, country walks, things are working!, and learning to teach...again.

I thought the change of furniture between my old room and the office actually looked pretty nice! Funny to think that we're going to be leaving town. But you know, the only thing I'll miss the most are the people, and Vegas is just a hop over the desert from St. George.

Meanwhile in Ellensburg, CWU's fall semester started up. And it's been....funny. And odd, and a little bit of weird too. I remember back in 2013 we had this one assembly at Palo where at the end some dude in a chicken suite ran out to mid-court just as the opening cord of the Harlem shake started to shake the gym, and before we knew it the whole place turned into the biggest mosh-pit I've ever seen. Well, Central has a similar feel. There's no giant-mosh pits (on the steets at least), but there are a lot of drunk guys wandering around downtown, rather skimpily dressed ladies, and if 2nd ward elders are to be believed, a group of green-clad people chanting "GREEN!" going down the campus. Funny, talking to the cashier at the grocery this morning and she was telling us they had to call in a noise complaint for the party life upstairs. And I'm dead certain that's the least of it all...

Yeah, college life. Is this the destiny of our generation? Because we'll at least go down laughing if it comes to it. Oh boy...

Still, we had a lot of miracles rain on us this last week! We contacted the referral we received from sis. Haysom, and she introduced us to her friend Cassie. It was super cool, because Cassie has actually been coming to church for the past few weeks, and I always assumed she was another member! She wants to be baptized, along with her 2nd-grade year old son. OOOOOOOHHHHHHHH SNAP! And they have the best member fellow-shippers ever too!

A few days later we faced a transportation predicament; our dinner appointment was our in the country and so was 2nd wards. So we had to get dropped off with enough time for them to make it. Bottom line, we walked down the highway for a solid hour and a half, knocking on whatever door we came across. And rather tragically, no one was interested. Nuts. Well, Bro. Walker, our dinner, picked us up en route from work anyway and we had a nice meal with them. And then mid way through that, we got a referral from a less-active member named Mike Budschat. And he also said we could come by Sunday to meet them! Go humanity!

Tyler's out of town to Mt. St. Helens for the week. We called him and lifted the no-meat deal, and we think he understands that his own testimony needs to stem from his own heart, not to us abstaining from meat. We'll keep in contact. After Zone conference on Thursday, which took us to Yakima, nothing else happened for the remainder of the week. Minus more country-tracting. Come Sunday we got to meet Mike and his friend, Trevor. Trevor is a friend of a recent convert in 3rd ward, and he was at his baptism when he felt the spirit there. Meeting with him was odd. He's got good questions, and we spent the first visit going over them. I recognized mid-way that it has been a decent while since I had actually taught, and I felt pretty rusty. Still, Trevor is a great guy! And we have high hopes for his progression. He too has a solid fellowship background, he and Mike's daughter are head-over-heels for each other and she wants to get back into church. Turns out they too have been coming for a few weeks now!

My concern for rusty teaching was soon addressed as well. En-route to Trevor's lesson, we came to an intersection and Elder Ackerman felt like we should go left instead of right. 'Didn't really see a threat in any way, so we took it, and walking down someone caught up to us to talk to us. He introduced himself as Oliver, and asked if we could come over to talk to him! Well, 'olee crud. Saw him after Trevor, and we talked a good amount on family history, the nature of the Godhead, and the role of the Holy Ghost too! And we didn't feel panicked in any way talking to him either. He's Greek Orthodox, and a super nice guy, seen a lot of nasty stuff in the past and never gave up on faith. And he accepted a Restoration pamphlet as well!

Yeah, things improved greatly just this past week! I think we're starting to see the light side of hill in Ellensburg. Still, always keep you guys in mind. Tell everyone hi and give my best wishes to Tom and Evan too! They're awesome.

Love you!

PS loved your insight on Charity. It's true, it really is! Charity and Pride are absolute opposites, and we have a duty to be charitable to all men everywhere.

Monday, September 12, 2016

September 12, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           September 12, 2016

This week:
The terrible 10, dealing with haters, "NOTHING'S WORKING!", actually..."SOMETHING IS WORKING!", and other things too!

Well, I'm not too surprised you were able to get the nursery under control the way you did. You were always an excellent mother, dear mother, at re-establishing order back when everyone was still at home. You and Dad did a real good job of that, I'll tell you that much!

Hearing how you made Ben breakfast and packed lunch also caused me to feel awfully grateful for all you did to help us out. I'm certain all the other siblings would agree they had the best mom on the face of the whole Earth!

And what you taught me came in good handy this week, because dang, was it...odd. For starters, there was the 14 month mark, which signifies that the "months remaining" factor is reduced down to single digits. Hence the "terrible 10." I guess that's two-digit, but you get the drift. Not too much happened on that day or the days that preceded it, but come Wednesday things got awfully full of....well, ok, here's what happened.

For starters, we got a phone call from a restricted number on Wednesday morning. And without sacrificing too much of my integrity for the sake of turning the other cheek, let's just say that the fella who called straight-up believed we had no decency, at all. Kid you not, he went on a 10 minute rant and fired just about every Mormon stereotype, slander, libel, and vocal dagger at our faces. Heck, he even had the guts to call me racist at one point in a very crude, rude, and a little bit lewd way. Turned every one of our testimonies into a new ground to attack, and yadda yadda yadda later I finally got frustrated and told him if he got all his info in the right places then there wouldn't be all the problems in the world there are. At that point the signal failed.

Yeah, go...humanity? Oh well. Church is still true! I guess I can't really blame the guy, evidently he or his wife had got our number some way and he just had a concern about protecting what they believed in. That's all fine and dandy, but when you do it in such a way as to degrade or break down someone you've never actually met, then you're only hurting yourself.

But you know, thinking about the Savior, was it ever easy for Him? Remembering his teachings, it's important to remember that all good men and women across the earth that are persecuted by anyone for any reason, stand in the trenches with the greatest of all the children of God who ever lived. 

Anyway, the rest of the day proceeded with little to no progress. Let's just say in the evening we hit a wall and decided to tract the street we were driving down. Actually felt more like a prompting, believe it or not. And it actually worked! We found a super nice guy named Noah, who said we could come back and visit with him! From there the week improved, dramatically too!

For one, we got a member referral from a travelling mechanic in the ward. There was a man named Robert who had lived through a surgery he wasn't planning on pulling out of. We drove out to his place way in the country, and after seeing the house was empty after a few knocks, decided to try back again. But after we got in the car, we got a feeling to try again. Well, we came all that way, so we walked back up, and he came out of his garage! Robert was totally down for the missionaries in his area (we were outside ours) to come his way! There we go, go...SPIRIT FORCE!

Kid you not, same minute we got a referral that came from 2nd ward elders, who we later contacted. Her name is Cookie, and older lady who lives in an apartment complex. Upon meeting her we saw that she wasn't too into learning more about the church, but she was interested in family history, and also obtaining a large-print Book of Mormon. Maybe that will go somewhere! The Book can change people's lives. It really can! I can testify that anyone who has a testimony of Jesus Christ will be able to accept the Book of Mormon if they are ready and willing enough to read it. There was also news that a friend to Sis. Haysom, a member in the ward who accepted a Book of Mormon from her, was interested in learning more! Cool!

Tyler is still progressing, but we got talking to him yesterday and asked him just how Christ has played a role in his life. He told us he didn't see Him more than a historical figure that did a lot to change history. Elder Ackerman and I testified to him of Christ's divinity, and how His atonement was for all of us. Asking Tyler if during his prayers he would thank Heavenly Father for everything he had reminded me a lot of what you taught me about being grateful for all He's given us.

And you know, what better to be grateful for than life! There's a lot out there, a whole world even, for us to learn about our destinies as God's children. The sooner we start seeing ourselves as His direct sons and daughters, the more we'll see just how divine our lives really are.

Love you all! Thanks for everything Mom, you really are the greatest Mom I think anyone out there could have!


PS; that is the Mt. Stuart range. Closest to actual mountains I've seen on the mission so far.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

September 5, 2016

Hey Mom!                                                                                           September 5, 2016

You know, can I make a request? You talking about all the things I left behind kind of put a dent in my heart because I considered all the Lego and Bionicle figures I had collected over the years. Those guys were my childhood and I find it sad I didn't really use them much in the past few years. Could you maybe take them to the Ranch and put them in a corner or something in the playroom so that other kids could play with them while they stay there? I guess after I get back I can re-build any of the damages made. Ah...sweet, sweet, childhood.

Anyway, enough of that...

Yeah, I'm not terribly surprised that there's more missionaries behind me than in-front in the Palo Verde ward. I remember graduating 6 June and then reporting 7 July of last year, so I probably dropped off the face of the Earth for some folks. It's...odd to think about where they'll all be when I get back. Still, give Mario my regards! That guy's a teddy-bear of a man and I don't know how Mckay and I survived without him for the years he wasn't there. I'll need to email some of the other missionaries serving then!

In terms of this week, it was....slow. Not bad, but slow. For starters, it was rodeo-fair season, so that attracts a whole assortment of folks from around all over. Paticularly cowboys, lots of cowboys around here now. And the worst part is they're not the cowboys I'm used to striking a conversation up with, unlike the valley-boys I'm acquainted with. Still, we've been cutting back out street-contacting a lot in place of member-visits, less-active work, or family history too! On that note we're probably going to see if we can start up a family-history booth at the weekly farmer's market. Whether or not we'd be allowed to wear our pros-gear though, not too certain. Anytime that we did find ourselves street-contacting, not that it wasn't obvious before, folks seem to walk a little quicker around us than others. Any attempts to start a casual conversation don't go much anywhere, as people simply say hello back and keep moving. But given the overall social-trend of face-to-face communication as of recent years, I'm not too terribly surprised. Still, got to drive to the edge of the valley at one point and meet an awesome family named the Terrells, who are building a house in Wenatchee! They were super cool, and offered us some chocolate lasagna to go. I didn't know the stuff existed up until that point.

Fun story about street-contacting though, one of the nights we were walking around I felt rather down-heartened because of the walls and blank-faces we felt we were running into. About 8:45 we found ourselves walking down main street, trying to discern where the spirit would lead us. I wasn't getting too much of anything, but as we passed the local pizza joint a girl who worked there ran out and called after us, with a cheese pizza in hand. She told us that they had made some extra pizza, and asked if we would be willing to take one. She had met with missionaries before, and although she wasn't too interested in religion, she still appreciated what we did. The pizza was good, but sometimes I wish everyone else out there could be like her. Katie, that was her name.

Jenny's been giving us the cold shoulder recently. Not terribly certain as to why, but in our last visit we were able to help her through some current concerns regarding some social concerns she had. Fortunately we had Bro./Dr./Bishop Davis with us, and he was a great help for her. 

And to answer your question, yeah. We're still on the no-meat diet. Funny story about that too, yesterday Sis. Bednarik, our dinner appointment, misunderstood the situation when we explained it to her over the phone earlier. We get there and she had made two whole chickens because she figured we would be famished from fasting. Well, I wasn't terribly when I got there but I sure felt close when I saw those chickens. When she carved them and asked us how much we wanted, we let an awkward silence go by before we fully explained our plight. She thought it was hilarious, fortunately. Yeah, we met with Tyler and taught him the Plan of Salvation, and he said he'd once again pray to know if it was true if we again cut meat. But hey! He was reading and praying about it, and I would say that little by little, he's coming to know of the truth.

I thought the story of Harley chasing the stranger cat was pretty funny. I kind of feel like the love-hate relationship that she and Smokey have is pretty funny. Harley's definitely more on the love side and I feel Smokes is still middle-grounded. Who knows, maybe one day Smokey will finally say "thanks for all the embarrassment. No seriously." or something.

Yeah, things are slow, but they're going. The district got a picture of all the RM from the mission as of the last few transfers at some Panda Express in Utah. That was funny to see. Yeah, thanks for all the love you guys send! I'll be certain to keep Tom and Evan in my prayers, give them my regards.

I also loved your testimony Mom, I always thought myself lucky to have a mom as outstanding as you are! Often I think, "there's got to be God's hand behind us here, just look at the way Mom and Dad loved me!"

Love you again, always too!