Friday, March 24, 2017

March 20, 2017

Hey Mom!                                                                                           March 20, 2017

First thing's first, good luck with the move! I hope the team does a good job helping you guys out, and I hope that the house will be everything you guys have dreamed/built it up to be. But the best homes are always founded on those principles that strengthen us as families.

Well, Coulee Dam is about the closest to Vegas that you can get in the mission I say. There's the dam, and also a casino. The area covers roughly 2000 square miles, and includes not only the townships around the dam, but also Coulee City, Nespelem (the reservation), Keller, and a few others around the area. Elder Saitman hails from Bountiful UT, and hasn't had too much real-world experience up to this point in life. We get along alright, and I hope I can be one of his companions who actually gets along with him! 

Turns out the nearest elders live in Omak, 56 miles away, and we have 1700 miles to use every month for all proselytizing purposes.

In other words, we're isolated. But you know, that's all not that bad! For one, Grand Coulee Dam looks a lot nicer than Hoover does if I'm honest. And the mighty Columbia River starts right at it's base. The drive from Coulee city up to the dam is about the prettiest you can get, black and brown rock canyons spiced up here and there by the waterfalls caused by the snow melt.

The ward is small, but large in heart. heh heh, since I didn't have to memorize two wards, I almost got everyone's name down just yesterday! They are all wonderful people, and I think I will come to like them very well. Still haven't gotten a gist of what the work is like in the area between travel and other factors. But you know, I wouldn't be surprised if I finished up here. And part of me would like to come back for one of those laser shows they do on the dam every summer! 

But the real humor came the actual transfer day, when Elder Mayes was still packing his gear after a solid day of doing just that. The guy suffers from severe retail therapy, and among other things he had to find room for were a skateboard and rice-cooker. We laughed it off and ultimately got packed, and did a final cleaning of the Jones's downstairs apartment. I'm going to miss them because they were probably the nicest folks who could ever house missionaries. I'm glad to hear the galoshes, thermals, and gloves made it back, and even then, packing was something else. But we got it done!

Elder Uceda was at our latest Zone Conference, and that was really cool! We talked a lot about sincere and earnest desire to read the scriptures and praying about the Book of Mormon. And you know, it was super cool! Basically that whole promise in Moroni 10:3-5 can be used as a step-by-step thing. Really ponder the blessings the Lord's given you, and then truly pour your heart out in prayer, having a sincere desire to act on whatever answer you receive. The answer itself is inevitable.

Apart from that, the actual birthday went really smoothly! Elder Saitman made breakfast for the two of us, and since it was my first Sunday in Coulee, got to meet a whole new bunch of friends! It was awesome! And to top it off, they asked us to bless the sacrament (small wards and few hands). I haven't done that since I was a priest 20 months ago. When I did it yesterday, I had this whole new appreciation for just what the Sacrament meant, both in general and personally. I would attribute it to what I've learned about Christ's atonement even more as a missionary, and because of that, breaking the bread and blessing it seemed like one of the best things I have done for a long, long time now. And don't worry! Actually got a cake, sort of. The Barrys had us over for dinner, and recently they had a birthday celebration, so there was a half-served cake they re-candled and sang too. It was nice!

I would've loved to send some pictures, but I am afraid I cannot, due to the tech we have at the FHC. I'll need to bring an actual USB cable. But in the end, know that I love you Mom! Still don't know what I'd do without you in my life, 20 years into it. Let me know how the new house lines up. Also, could you please include the Barry family in your prayers? They just had a grandson pass in an auto accident. Times like these always make me thankful for the Plan of Salvation, makes life a whole lot more happier whenever hard times come. An assurance that our loved ones who pass before us do indeed live on until we can re-embrace each other!

In the end though, love you always!


forgot to mention, thanks for the prayers! They really do carry us over a lot of high mountains, and teach us a lot about what goes on on top of them.

Love you! I'll keep you guys in my prayers.


March 13, 2017

Hey Mom!                                                                                           March 13, 2017

This week:

transfers,  Austin the gangsta, the most unhealthy day, and the WWE

Man, it makes me sad to hear you guys move out of Alton. I love that little town. But I'm also excited to see how the new house is! I hope that it's everything you guys dreamed it would be. I'm always happy to hear from you guys every week. And I find it such a blessing to be in weekly touch with you guys on top of that special spirit of family that binds us together.

So, we got our transfer calls two nights ago, and I'm being transferred to Coulee Dam, WA. To be short, it's a small collection of towns around the dam and also is the most isolated spot in the whole mission. The nearest elders to us are in Omak, an hour away. Elder Mayes is being transferred in 6th and 8th ward in Moses, and the sisters who cover there are coming in to work in 4th and 7th. Julisa, the Jones' daughter, is coming home for the summer so it makes housing easier that way to have sisters covering the area. I'll be serving with Elder Saitman, a guy who's been out for a transfer less than I. I've served around him before. He's....a straight-up Utahan, and he kind of reminds me of me before I lost weight. Consequently I understand his mindset. I feel pretty confident about the task, but prayer in our behalf will be very much appreciated. Still! I'll come to love the guy.

The last week in Moses Lake was semi eventful. I got to go on exchanges with the 5th ward elders. They cover a part of Moses called the Base, which is all the old-run down housing that was formerly used by serviceman stationed here. It's the ghetto part of town. But it was actually pretty fun! Elder Dalton, my DL, and I got to go visit one of the families who are coming back to activity, the Johnson's. Sis. Johnson's brother Austin was there to meet with us too, and I kid you not, he was a straight up hoodlum. He was cool with us, but his overall mannerisms were pretty funny. I think he sat down with us for a solid 30 minutes just to talk about jail stories with us. Yeah, both Dalton and I thought it was pretty funny, just the scenario. Here we were hoping to read scriptures and instead we meet Austin. Good times!

The next morning was long because I didn't have dinner. 5th shares the apartment with Spanish Elders and to be honest it's a bit of a mess there. I didn't have the gut to have breakfast, so when we drove out to pick up Elder Mayes and Summit we decided to do a quick Taco-Bell run for breakfast. After service I requested we stop by the local burger drive-in, Woodys. That, was a good burger! And then later that night Jacob and Natalia got us pizza at the local sketchy-pizza joint Chico's, which served them a pie stacked with ham, pepperoni, and bacon. Safe to say it by and far the most unhealthy day of the entire mission. Jacob is doing great! He and Natalia attended church this past week, and when we met with them for our weekly lesson we got to talk about the 10 commandments and why they are still important, along with following the prophet. Always will be! And he understood it, even taught him how to remember all of the commandments. Funny story, when we were eating dinner with them we got acquainted with two of their friends. When I told them that I sold jerky out of my backpack as my job they immediately said, "dude, you'd be like my best friend!" Heh heh, it's always fun to become bro-friends with guys on the mission! I'm excited for Jacob and Natalia. Their baptism is still in line, and I hope that I can attend their sealing a year from now!

In other news, we helped Sage Utter, the less active guy who has aspergers, organize and pack for moving on Wednesday to West Side. What was funny was that while we were packing he had old Raw matches playing on his computer and he was totally buying it! Didn't even matter when a camera-man smashed his seemingly-indestructible camera into a ketchup-bleeding Undertaker, he thought it was real. Still! Always glad to help folks out.

Apart from that, we saw a few Less Active families, cleaned windows with vinegar water, and got mixed reactions from the Ward Councils about getting sisters. They really love us, and it's been an absolute blast serving here in Moses Lake. I'm really going to miss Bishop Allred, he's probably been the most diligent, kind, but never-say-die bishop I've ever served with. Or ever met! Of course, Bishop Wilson and Roundy will always have a special place in my heart. All of you do! Love you Mom! Things are counting down, but I feel like now's the time more than ever to really start moving forward in the mission. Go for Broke! 

Love you forever!


March 6, 2017

Hey Mom!                                                                                           March 6, 2017

This week:
motivational crashes, countering motivational crashes, die-hard winter and serious home libraries!

And that...was probably the blandest week in words I've ever thought up of, but unfortunately that about summarizes what has happened this past week. Still! We saw a pretty good number of miracles that seems to be raining on us right now! For one, we're still alive.

For two, I'm finding out more and more every day of just how thankful I am for the way you guys raised me. I think it's safe to say that you guys did an incredible job of balancing tough love with great love, because there's a lot of guys getting trunky right now. I relate that because it seems like they had it a little more lax beforehand, and so the upcoming home-flight is super weighing on them. Consequently Elder Mayes hit an all-time low on his desire to work that about drove me near insane. If it wasn't for the fact that we're total bros about bromance I probably would've lost it, but patience paid off (another thing I owe to you guys), and by weeks end, things were back up and running! He actually fasted and received a good impression to ask for a priesthood blessing. So I along with our DL, and ZL's gave him one, and he's been doing pretty great since!

Jacob and Natalia are doing fantastic, and it's cool to see their progression. They actually signed up to take us to the local sketchy/awesome pizza joint for dinner on Thrusday, the type that throws your diet out the window. I really love those guys, because since they're our age it's super easy to connect to them. Whenever we go over for a lesson it's cool because we don't feel nervous about what the spirit teaches them, we're all pretty much friends! The weather however, isn't so hospitable. Seems like Grant County is doing a victory schreech over the end of Winter, but snow and severe wind still blew during some of the days last week. Winter's dying, but not without a last form of fury. Heh heh, personally I think it'd be hilarious if another ice storm blew through for no apparent reason.

We're also really getting to know the members more in depth more, and that helps a lot whenever we help them in their missionary efforts. Just this last week we got to visit the youth Sunday school groups in both wards. It was nice interacting with them, and it seems like they see us at a friendly level too! Got to help them out with Mission prep, and overall help them be missionaries themselves. But I have to say the highlight of it all was when we got to have dinner with a member family yesterday. Turns out that these guys had a legit library-style book shelve in their home, ladder included! We thought it was about the coolest thing we had seen this past week.

And to be honest, that is really all there was the past week. Apart from travelling and walking and whatnot, there was a great feeling of spirit during last week's efforts. Seems like the Lord is really blessing us a lot up here in Moses. I can't wait to see what else he has in store for us for the rest of the transfer. Miracles are still very real in today's world, and if we're in tune with the Spirit, not only will we be able to see them, we'll be able to take part in them as well. You just gotta keep trying!

Anyway, love you all! Thanks again for all the love and prayers you send our way, we all need them. Always remember Christ, keeping Him center does a lot of good for us these days!


Monday, March 6, 2017

February 27, 2017

Hey Mom!                                                                                           February 27, 2017

This week:
The great meltdown, Jacob's cousin, cinnamon bread, and ribs!

To answer your question right away, yeah, things melted pretty darn quick the past week. The sun shown for a solid 4 days! And things quickly melted. All the winter-wheat farmers are going to have a blast this season, because Moses Lake had a super-rare and brutal winter. But after a few days of sun and the occasional rain, the snow is finally starting to go away! And...the mud, floods, and puddles that accompany melting came up. And consequently, a few potholes have formed as well.

I would also say that a few minds melted this week too. To answer your other question, Elder Mayes is doing fine. Elder Dalton, our DL, and I keep President updated on his overall health. He had some pretty bad episodes this past week, and safe to say that he hit rock bottom. We got him out, but it came at some patience tax. But I do look forward to where we can connect post-mission, because he's a gamer and I see us getting online for a session or two when we get back. Along with some other elders as well! He's also helped a lot in helping me brainstorm the story idea whenever we have some down-time.

There wasn't too many spiritual experiences the past week, but we did get the chance to teach Jacob and Natalia again. His cousin Jason, along with his fiancé, Moria, were present there too! Moria is LA, and Jason isn't a member, but during the lesson we got to talk to him about his experiences. He didn't have the best of upbringings and was almost a year sober, so we gave him a Book of Mormon bookmarked at Mosiah 27, and we challenged him to read about Alma the Younger's experience to see just how it was like him overcoming his challenges. I love the Book of Mormon for that reason, it's so easy to relate to if you really read it with the intent to improve your life. Pages full of role models who really had a testimony of God and the love he had for sending Christ to redeem us.

On the note of redemption, we actually learned something pretty profound in a Zone Conference Wednesday, and I wish I could share everything we learned from it! But we learned that a simple behavior change without the Savior is just that, a behavior change. But Repentance is a principle of action that changes more than behavior, it changes our lives, our views on ourselves and God, I would reckon everything about us if we really come to see it as it really is. That was probably the spiritual highlight as far as Gospel Principles goes!

Another funny story was that an elderly lady in the ward, Sis. Moote, sent us a referral for a lady named Thelma, who she had just talked to at a blood drive. We called her right away, and when Thelma answered she exclaimed "Wow! That was fast!" She was interested in finding a church to come too for her month-long stay at Moses, and she told us to call her again the next day. Unfortunately she never answered any call we made following that, but it was cool to see how she reacted to the urgency!

Sis. Jones and Elder Mayes also caught the rare disease of the Moses Lake winter, so we had to stay inside a few days for proper recovery. In that time, I cracked open the Jones's bread book and decided to try to make Cinnamon bread. It came out pretty well! I'll include some pictures. When I get back I'd really like to help you make bread more often Mom. I find it quite therapeutic!

And to wrap it all up, we had a great dinner with a younger family in the ward. The husband is only an elder but a successful anesthesiologist, so he made us some ribs! And they were just like Dad's ribs too! I'm not going to lie, but it was pretty good! And....when we were done, he just out-of-the blue decided to turn on his computer and show us a few game trailers to some new games that came out. We didn't condone it, it was more of one of those moments where you didn't protest because he was acting under his own agency, but at the same time...well, you know. Since when did the world get so high tech?

Then to top it all off even more, Jacob, Rob Johnson, and Kunza all came to church on Sunday! Unfortunately again Elder Mayes felt horrible so we had to go home early to recover again, but it was still cool to see how the Spirit is starting to take root in them even more, or at least enough to help them come to church to partake of the Sacrament! It was a good week for what it was. Heck, a few hours ago, a member paid for groceries!

Thanks for refilling the debit, although I could've lasted for the rest on the $125. I kind of accepted my own challenge to have that grand last for the whole mission. Laundromat fees in Eburg is what really did it in for us. And I'm super excited to see what the new house looks like! If you can, send a video tour of it or something. But even if we had nothing but a grass hut I'd be happy enough, because I'm with you guys a a family. And all you guys as my friends too! Let me know how everyone else is doing and I'll be certain to keep you guys in my prayers always. A family that loves the Lord can get through just about anything! I just wish I had enough words to say how much I'll always appreciate you!

Love you all!