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!