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!