Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 86: Go forth with faith

Happy Monday world! This last week, Elder Boswell and I made a great realization as missionaries. Tuesdays are far worse than Mondays. Everyone complains about Mondays because they're the first day of the week and work and blah blah blah. Well we don't like Tuesday because it's the first day of the week for us and blah blah blah. Tuesdays are rough for us. They're getting better though! We've got one of our ward mission leaders starting to schedule visits for Tuesday nights, so that's a step in the right direction. I think will have a service project tomorrow, so that'll help fill the rest of the day.
I've had an above average(I struggle with saying 'great' too much, so I'm working coming up with other words that aren't great but that are that similar level of goodness.) week with my Alabama(not east coast) companion Elder Boswell. One of my new favorite things that we do is running! He's agreed to go running every other morning which rocks! He's my first companion who's been willing to do it. I might've been able to with some others, but I forgot to ask them. One of the wonderful pictures you get this week is of a snake that Elder Boswell found in his drawer April 1st. It was the best I could do with not thinking about pranks until that morning.
The big thing from this week was General Conference. It was a good conference to end my mission on. I learned some great stuff to carry into the coming years. It was all centered around faith. Hold to the faith. Defend the faith. Let others see the faith that I have. It kind of goes back to what I said last week about letting our religion show. That's the main thing I'm carrying away from conference this go around. Elder Holland's talk was great. President Uchtdorf's story about his Airforce One experience probably wins the funniest story of conference this go around. Nothing really stuck out as a favorite talk this go around, but a reread might change that. The other picture(not of the snake) is me watching the ending of conference pretending to take notes because it was already over, but that's how we watched all four regular sessions of conference. Shout out to the Smiths who probably won't read this! They rock though. 
I brought my journal so that I can write what I forgot to write last week. I'm working on rereading Preach My Gospel and doing as many of the activities as time will allow. One of the activities had the following instructions: 
"Imagine that you are going to write an article about the message of the Restoration for a local newspaper. In your study journal write a title that describes the central message."
This is what I wrote:
"The World is Changing, but God and His Love are Not:
We are God's children. He loves us. He has always loved us and will continue to love us until the end of  forever. He's shown His love by giving us a path of happiness to walk along through life. We walk along it with our friends and family. The prophets teach us about it. Moses, Noah, Isaiah, they all spoke and taught about this plan made possible through Jesus Christ. God has not left us alone today. Just as in years past, He has given us a prophet and additional scripture to help us on the path home."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 85: Already an eventful morning and it's not even 11:00

Welp, today is transfer day. I get to stay in Middleton, and Elder Patterson is moving out to Kuna. I'll be getting Elder Boswell who is moving from the other side of the stake to be my companion kind of like when I went from Nampa East to Nampa North. He's from the east coast. I'm not exactly sure where. I do know he went to school at Auburn though. This'll be my longest area. I've only ever served anywhere 4 1/2 months, and I'll be here for at least 6-maybe even 7 1/2.
Already this morning we've gone to the transfer spot, moved around several missionaries, and had breakfast at Denny's. Right now we've got a reprieve before the transfer van comes back at 12:30ish. I say "ish" because the transfer van is never on time.
Last PDay we went hiking again. We did the same hike up to Jump Creek because it's one of the few good hikes still in the mission. It was pretty relaxing which was nice, especially since I had given blood earlier to help with a young man's eagle project. (I thought they had disallowed that everywhere, but I guess not.)
I had something I wrote in my journal that I wanted to write here, but I forgot until I sat down to email; that means I don't have my journal with me, and I'll have to write about it later on.   
Yesterday's gospel essential lesson was on prophets. The teacher asked what we've learned from the prophets. (She's really good at asking deep thinking questions.) I hadn't really ever thought about that. I've always equated knowledge and what I've learned back to the Spirit. I haven't made much of a human/prophet connection to the knowledge I've gained. That's something I'm going to do this week leading up to General Conference: think about things I've learned from some of the prophets.  
A couple of times I've heard that we need to be more like those in the south and south of the border. Most are open and vocal about their religious beliefs and their admiration for God. I know I personally don't do my best to give Him the credit He is due. This is something I hope to do more. Yes, it feels unnatural at first because one isn't used to talking so openly about deity, but when after time it becomes natural. Our 'nature' is to take the easy road to survival for ourselves whatever that might entail. It is only with molding and overcoming that nature that we can become disciples of Christ. I've got a quote in my scripture bag from forever ago. It says something to the effect of: Desires determine thoughts. Thoughts determine words. Words determine actions. Actions determine habits. Habits determine destiny. If we can make it so "we speak of Christ"(2 Nephi 25:26) our actions will become those that show that "we rejoice in Christ".

Week 84: More to write about than I thought

Earlier this week, we ate dinner with a family that has two kids out on missions: a son and a daughter. The dad asked us about our emails. He wondered if they were little bleeps or long essays. Both E Patterson and myself confessed to writing mostly little bleeps. He said his son is the same way and then made fun of all of us for not writing well enough. I think he said "Boys are stupid."
We were able to do a couple of service projects this week. For the first, we went out to a field and picked up rocks in preparation for it to get stuff planted in it. We started out picking up everything that was golfball sized and bigger to keep the machinery from being damaged when it came through. Then someone more knowledgeable than us came out to tell us we only needed to pick up the baseball sized rocks. The second half of the field went a lot faster than the first half.
Saturday we had another service project. This time we were moving fencing. Members were working on moving wire fencing from one piece of property to another. I got to roll up the first section after we unhooked it. It was the longest piece... I didn't roll it very well...The first 75' rolled pretty nice, but then it went crooked, and it ended up about 11ish' long. All my roll making didn't prepare me for that.
The mission leadership got together Saturday for a special meeting with Elder Godoy of the Seventy. He said most weekends they(as Seventy) are given a specific assignment, but every now and then  they have an open weekend where they choose where to go. This was one of those weekends for Elder Godoy. He chose Nampa for whatever reasons, and we had a great discussion as a mission about how to strengthen our weaknesses. It revolved a lot around showing love, being humble, and saying prayers.
Yesterday we got to go in to primary to help with sharing time. The lesson was on experiences with the resurrected Christ, so we were given the roles of Thomas and Joseph Smith. It's hard to let the creative juices flow when you're a missionary and can't play 'dress up' super well because you've only got one wardrobe. It still went well even if we were a modern 'suit and tie' Joseph and Thomas.
This weekend is transfers. No idea what will happen. Next weekend is General Conference. Looking forward to that.

Week 83:Stateside mission problem #1234221

I've found another problem being one of those stateside missionaries: when the power goes out in the house you live at, you can't do laundry. Our mini-fridge was 'randomly' quiet and loud this morning. I didn't realize why until I went out to do laundry. One of the clocks said 12:59. I thought that couldn't be right and saw another that said the right time. It took me a little while longer to realize the power had been turning off and on. When did I realize this? When I started a load in the washer only to have it stop about half a minute into the wash because the power had turned off. Oh well. It's a windy day, and I guess that's knocking out the power.
This week we had zone conference. There wasn't a noticeable focus that I sensed. President Cole talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Cannon talked about the Atonement and obedience. He had zones split up and talk about prayer. Pretty wide topic array if you ask me. It was good though. Our fun activity was Preach My Gospel Battleship. There were a lot of missionaries-probably 45 to 50 on either side of the net. We played until we got down to about 10 or 15 and ended the game because it was taking too long. I survived to the end. Yay!
Happy St Patrick's Day! That was one of the things I was forgetting. We had some corned beef and cabbage for dinner last night. It was pretty tasty. I might have to find a wife who will carry on the tradition when I get to that point of looking for a wife.
We didn't end up hiking last week because of the rain, but we are going today. Should be fun even with the wind, but I don't think that'll affect the hike too much.
Three more weeks until general conference!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 82: A good day for a hike

A little bit later on today, a group of us is going hiking. It's a little lot bit cloudy, and it's raining. Is it a good or bad idea to go hiking? Yes. (I thank my dad for teaching me how to answer poorly worded questions.)
This weekend was Stake Conference in Middleton. Elder Koepischke of the 70 came to talk about the hastening of the work of salvation. I thought it went really well. Us as missionaries were left out while he emphasized each persons ability to do missionary work in a different way. He had converts get up and share their conversion stories. Some were friends who got invited to mutual by friends. Some were people who had spiritual experiences with their associates as they spoke about the gospels uplifting nature. Others were touched by love of members who never gave up on them and loved them despite their shortcomings. The overarching theme was to love completely. As we love, we'll want to share our blessings with others. We'll also enlist our heavenly Father's help because it will take the effort of everybody combined to get this work rolling.
This week we'll have zone conference. I'm not sure what the focus will be on, but whatever it is I'm sure it will be good.
I'm getting excited for General Conference! It's coming up really soon. This'll be my last one on the mission, so I'll be sure to pay really close attention as it's my last chance to learn with special missionary powers.
I'd started reading the Book of Mormon last July for one purpose and last November for another purpose, and I recently finished both read throughs. It's quite an amazing book. If you haven't read it recently, I'd suggest picking it up and reading from it again. There's always something to learn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 81: And the weather takes another turn

I saw a comic before coming out that showed changes in Idaho weather being very drastic. I laughed and didn't think much of it. After things got warm and sunny, we've sat with rainclouds for the past several days. Have I talked about the weather in all of my recent emails? I feel like I have.
Last PDay was pretty fun. We met up with a lot of missionaries to play volleyball and other games. I decided to not change out of my white shirt for who knows what reason. At one point we played capture the flag, and I still decided not to change. I lost a couple of buttons in the end from an intense tag. Luckily I'm a boy scout, so I was able to sew the buttons back on.
Saturday we were able to do some good ol' fashioned service. A brother was moving out of the ward, so we got to load up his furniture and other belongings onto a trailer while it was raining. It started out well enough, but after a while the rain turned cold. There wasn't too much work left to do once that happened though.
In other exciting news, I'm going to be an uncle! Yay! I don't think this will really hit me until I get home and see my sister. Even then I don't think it will really hit me. I think I'll have to see the baby before it's real to me. Mazel tov to the whole family of the earth!
If you're happy and you know it, put on a smile! It's a great day to be alive!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 80: Crossing Circles

Hello again from fantastic Idaho! It's good to be alive on this beautiful, sunny, and warm day. It seems like the cold is gone for good, but I may be speaking to soon.
Last weekend was transfers. I stayed put here in Middleton while Elder Jarvis left for Ontario(Oregon, not Canada or California). My new companion is Elder Patterson from St George, UT. He is the second closest companion to me; he's 20 miles shy of the record set by Elder Shumway in Gilbert, AZ. Elder Patterson was serving in Ontario right before here, so he and Elder Jarvis did a sort of swapping spaces dealio. We've never ran in the same missionary circles, so this is our first time serving close to each other even though we've both been out for ...a long time.
This week we were able to meet with Brooke Taylor again. I mentioned her briefly a while back. We've been teaching her for most of the time that I've been here. She's a single mom with two sons. It seems like she's got a double-fulltime job with as much as she works. Each week it seems like she has less questions which means she's getting answers! We're excited to keep helping her push to her baptismal goal in April.
We're gearing up for Stake Conference here in Middleton. Elder Kopischke is coming to preside over the "hastening of the work"-focused conference. All of the youth are invited to attend the adult session, so it seems like that's the thing to do this stake conference.(Something similar happened back home if memory serves me right.)
Thinking of back home, I had a chance to reflect about it yesterday. Our Gospel Essentials class was on "The Creation". Near the end of the lesson, Sister Butler(the teacher) mentioned how she grew up in Idaho and was an Idaho girl through and through. She loved the mountains and said she saw the ocean maybe once or twice. Then she went on her mission to New Zealand where her love for more of the beauties of the Earth grew. Sister Butler then gave each of us time to reflect on the beauties of the Earth that we've come to admire. I'm blessed to be who I am and to have been where I have been. I've stood on mountain tops. I've peered over cliffs' edges. I've gazed up out of caves. I've tasted the salty air sitting on the beach. Each has its own unique and inherent beauty in it because it was created by a miraculous God. This same God who can do all things claims us as His children and loves us above all of His other creations. His entire purpose-after having created the universe and everything else far grander than us-is to help us return to be with Him. If that's not as amazing as the beauties of nature I don't know what is.
What did any of that have to do with reflecting on home? Nothing much, but those weren't my initial thoughts. My initial thoughts were that nothing beats the beauty of home. Sure, the hills are a little bit brown and dead. Sure it's really hot in summer and the sun beats down 95% of the year. There's a feeling there though. A feeling of belonging and identity. It all flooded back when I came home from college and drove through the Cajon Pass, and I imagine it will be similar when my time as a missionary comes to a close. Home is a beautiful place too. Can you imagine how it will feel to finally return home to the presence of God? That's got to be way more intense than the drive through the Cajon Pass.