Friday, December 28, 2012

Week 25: It's Christmas, and we walk alone

Merry [almost depending on when you read this] Christmas to you! I hope you're having a very happy time!
This past week was a more service minded week. Elder Bingham, myself, Elder Pimentel, and Elder King got to help move a family into their house. Later on in the week we got to put drywall up where a week earlier we had installed insullation. I've been learning a lot about the technical parts of working and how to do constructive things like the work I described.
The mission had a Christmas gathering last week. President asked a few of the foreign missionaries to share their Christmas traditions which got me thinking about some of the things that made my Christmases so fun. Some of the things I will 'miss':
-A Muppet Christmas Carol! That has got to be one of the greatest Christmas movies of all time. Why? I don't know. It makes me feel good inside. It shares the message of keeping the Christmas spirit all year round. A few Christmases back, President Monson said "Giving, not getting, brings to full bloom the Christmas spirit. Enemies are forgiven, friends remembered, and God obeyed. The spirit of Christmas illuminates the picture window of the soul, and we look out upon the world’s busy life and become more interested in people than things. To catch the real meaning of the “spirit of Christmas,” we need only drop the last syllable, and it becomes the “Spirit of Christ.”
-How the Grinch Stole Christmas(not the Jim Carey version) Back home, this was a family favorite. It was something we all enjoyed. Dr. Seuss put it simply, and he did it the right way. People can change and we can all be happy if we all have the right prioirites.
-Family and friends. I kind of like my family and friends even if I didn't always show it. I know we're all in different places right now, but each of us is where we needs to be. I'll be happy because everyone else is happy where they are(as far as I know).
It turns out some people don't have Christmas programs in the sacrament meeting. Instead, they use their Sunday School hour to have an hour long singing, Christmas time-y program. I guess that isn't such a bad thing, unless of course you are using the chapel during Sunday School and you keep the next ward from getting in to do their sacrament meeting....not that that happened.
Merry Christmas! Have a happy and warm season! TTFN
Elder Mann

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Week 24:It was beginning to look a lot like Christmas

to STEPHEN, me, Kirsten, Matthew, Jess, theroyalfamily., Wesley
Well...It finally really snowed. We got probably 3/4" of it. You know who was excited? Elder King from down south(Florida/Tennessee) He'd really never seen snow before, so we had to go outside and have a snowball fight. He was happier than a kid on Christmas morning who got a lot of awesome presents. The only problem? It was all melted by the end of the day. What happened the next day? A winter hurricane. Wind and rain, but no more snow. It's been crazy weather up here.
This past weekend we had our fair share+someone else's fair share of baptisms. It was getting hectic near the end, but when all is said and done, 4 people were able to enter into the fold of our heavenly Father between Saturday and Sunday(at least where I am 'stationed'). McKenley Merrit, Bill Lasater, Jennifer Lasater, and Kali Lasater were all baptized. We only started teaching the Lasaters 2 weeks ago!(but they had been going to church for a while before then) Elder Bingham and I have run out of people to teach! They've all been baptized, so we're going to have to spend a lot of time looking for people to share a Christmas message with.
Somehow, I managed to forget my planner again...I really don't know how. It was in my suitcoat. I'm drawing quite a few blanks on what I meant to say because I had written them all in my planner. Those little books are amazing. Very handy.
I got to attend a leadership training meeting last Tuesday. It went really well. We talked about what we can do to help others feel comfortable talking about the gospel(religion) and making it a part of natural conversation. We discussed what qualities we would like to see in leaders. One of the big ones(the first one that came up) was being a charitable/loving/compassionate leader. If you want to lead people, you need to love them first so that they will know they can trust your direction.
That's all I've got right now. Hopefully everything goes well this weekend, and I'm still able to email next Monday with the end of the world being Friday and all.
Elder Mann
I almost forgot to include my address again! Here it is for those of you out there in the world!
Elder Soren Mann
3134 South 1900 East B
Wendell, ID 83355

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Week 23: "A Busy Super Fast Week"

It felt like it took forever to get from two weeks ago to last week, but from last week to this week went be superfast!
It's kind of starting to get cold here...I've got a picture attached. I want you to guess-based on the picture-what the temperature is. What do you think? 40? 35 because I said it was cold? Still not there yet! 26! 26 degrees outside, and that is what it looks like! Tell me nature is not playing a cruel trick on us making it look nice and inviting outside.
Do you know what we got to do in this weather? Service projects! It rocked actually! I started out by moving giant blocks of wood with my companion. We're talking, wider than I can grab by myself sized trunks. Then we filled a trailer that this wood was in with bad wood to be hauled to the dump. Elder Bingham and I had the job of cleaning up the area in preparation for moving a dog kennel. The Spanish elders were laying shingles while we were doing the heavy lifting, and when I say heavy, I mean heavy. There were a few 90lbs bags of concrete/cement(I'm sorry, I get the two mixed up some of the time), BUT(and here is the caviat) they had gotten wet and hardened! They were now 100+lbs bags of concrete/cement! How many were there? 4. What did I do with them? I had to lift them one by one into a wheel barrow, and I hauled them up a super tiny hill to be dumped next to a garbage can once all 4 were in the dumpster. Needless to say, while the heavy lifting was going on, I didn't feel the cold anymore.
Saturday we had a baptism for this really awesome guy named Zach! He's lived around members his entire life. Apparently he's been through a few sets of missionaries, but a friend of his finally was able to convince him to 'get wet'(be baptized). At the end of the month I'll have a really cool story that you all will need to share with the younger generation but also a second story of warning to that same younger generation. I've met quite a few less active members, but at the same time we've got 4 baptisms lined up for the next week and a half.
One thing I failed to mention last week(I hope) was that I've now been out for 5 months! The 5th was my 5 month mark! It was very exciting! Spent the day doing work just like every other day. The only truly exciting thing about that 5 month mark: my next 'month mark' is my 6 month mark which'll mean I've been out for 6 months and I'll have been through a quarter of my mission! Scary to think about, huh? Time flies by.
This week in our zone meeting which we have once a month, we were each "invited"(told) to make our own Title's of Liberty(See Alma chapter 46). I had to make mine all poetic because that's the kind of guy I am. Mine said "Swift to listen Swifter to serve Swiftest to love! Save the lost! Serve the found!" Yeah, that sounds pretty good to me. Now we'll see how well I live by it.
Yesterday, I heard a great quote. John Wayne(a man amongst men) said "Courage is being scared to death but saddling up anyways." I think that is a great quote. It's okay to be scared, but we cannot let that fear control our lives. Joshua 1:9 says "be strong and of good courage...for the Lord thy God is with thee withersoever thou goest" What do we have to fear when we are on God's side? How do we keep him on our side so that we can stay courageous? We don't. He's not on our side. We have to be on his side. That's the best way to guarantee He'll be there for us.
On that happy note, I hope everybody out there is safe and well. Stay warm this winter season!
Elder Mann

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Week 22: This place is crazy!

Hey'all! We've been gettin some moisture roundabouts a couple-six farsees from here.
Woah! Sorry about that folks. This is a different world out here. I got caught up in the nice Idaho culture of small town, USA. It's nothing like those people who have to go to South/Central America and elsewhere where they've got all dirt roads and tin huts, but this is the 'tiniest' area I've ever lived in. I cover the entirety of Gooding County. It's kind of large-ish geographically(from one side of our area to the other is a good hour, hour and a half drive of about 60-80 miles), but there aren't more than 15,000 people in the whole county. There is only on stop light in the entire county, and I got a picture of that rare treat for you guys! There isn't even a McDonalds!(There is a Subway, so cudos to Subway for making it where McDonalds hasn't yet.) That Subway is the only big chain restaurant in this area. We do have a Papa Kelsey's pizza in each of our towns, but that's a local thing.
The first week went well. It felt really long, but it's over now. There are all sorts of people here. We've got a conspirasist who thinks the government can track us by the bar code on the back of our IDs. There's an older German woman who I'm pretty sure could be the witch from the Hansel and Grettel story.(but in a good way and not a she eats children kind of way) She's got a cackle like you'd imagine a witch to have, but she is awesome. I've seen my fair share(plus yours) of mountainmen-hunters.(beard and all) Let's just say, nothing is quite like Gooding County.
Thursday night we visited one of the bishops to talk about his ward. We had a good chat and an even better bowl of ice cream. After the ice cream, he gave us a test. He had a big rock sitting next to his stove.(This is where I would hope that my sister and father could be a little bit proud of me.) He asked if I could identify it. I did! At first I said it was calcite for some weird reason, but it was Sandstone which was my second guess. There was something on top of it which I called coral to keep up the appearance that I only half know what I'm talking about...AND then I correctly identified it as concrete. What was it? It was a piece of the original foundation of the Salt Lake City temple that cracked. Because I guessed right on the rock, he showed us some more neat stuff. He had several copies of the Book of Mormon from the 1800s as well as a page from an original print Book of Mormon.(because apparently full original 1820 copies cost a lot of money) He had a lot of interesting historical stuff like that. Suffice it to say, I enjoyed the visit.
Yesterday was my favorite day of the transfer so far. We went up to the little town of Fairfield for church. The only road that is paved in this town is the main road. Everything else is dirt. Hopefully that gives you a good idea of how big this place is. If that doesn't, the sophomore class in the highschool has all of 10 kids in it. Does that help? Got a good image of how big this place is? Alright. 52 people showed up at church. It was the smallest church meeting I had ever been to, and I loved it! When you are in a branch, you get to participate! I got to say the opening prayer, bless the sacrament, speak, teach the youth(all 4 kids that are between the ages of 12-18) Sunday School class, and direct music in priesthood. I had a blast doing that. I've never done quite so much. We stayed in the town the whole day because it is a 46 mile drive from where we live. When Elder Bingham and I got home, I looked up because it was finally not raining and cloudy. What did I see? A beautiful night sky. Pretty sure I saw part of the Milky Way last night. I was in my happy place. On the subject of night skies, there was another night earlier on where the Moon shone bright in the sky. I got a picture because somebody had said when we saw this type of moon it would snow...still waiting on that snow...

Hope you're all doing well wherever you might be. Those prepping for tests/finals: Good luck! That's not an easy or relaxing thing, so make sure you take some breaks! TTFN

Monday, November 26, 2012

Week 21: A Whole New World

The thing about emailing: You don't always remember what you want to email when you are writing it, and if you didn't write it down somewhere, you likely won't remember. Such is the case with last week. I forgot my planner, so I couldn't write about the exciting stuff from the week before. Now here I am with what I hope to be a more exciting installment in the missionn life of mann.
I guess the big thing that I meant to bring up last week that I didn't is that everything happens for a reason. In my farewell talk, I spoke about joy vs. pleasure. Certainly, pleasure is great! It feels awesome!....but it's not as long lasting as joy. Joy can last for all time whereas pleasure is momentary. Why do I bring this up. There are a lot of things that can bring missionaries pleasure, but it's not always 100% or even 91% obedient. The joy found in following the rules is far greater than what can come from not following the rules.
I meant to write about a baptism that happened too! If I didn't, we had a baptism! If I did, oops. I already told this story. About a month ago, we had a family(the Garcias) move into one of the wards we work with. Bro Garcia wasn't a member, so we asked if we could start teaching him. He said yes. After 5 weeks of meeting with him, Joe was baptized! If I had my camera with me, I'd include a picture, but I left that in the car(...Wait, what?!).
Transfers were/are today! I moved out of my Meridian safe haven into the far reaches of Wendell(GoogleMap it if you need to find where it is)! I've been here a whole...well, actually I haven't even made it to Wendell yet. Right now I'm in Jerome emailing. I haven't even dropped my bags off yet. That's how important emailing is. My new companion is Elder Bingham from Prescott Valley in AZ. He's been out all of 6 weeks, so I'm senior companion and follow up trainer! We've been out a combined 6 months between us, so it'll be exciting. The nice thing: We've got a car! It'll keep us warm. That's always a plus.
Oh yes! This past week was Thanksgiving. I kind of forgot about that because of transfers. I got to go over to eastern Meridian and see some familia(Thanks Steve, Sandy, Amy, and Eric!). That was pretty fun. I especially liked that we had Grandma's Rolls(a home recipe). They are my favorite, so I was glad to have them.
Friday night is when we got the transfer call, so we got together with a few missionaries to have a mini fire and spend some time together. We had a short testimony meeting and sang a few hymns which made the whole thing worth it.
That's all from the field for now! Those in school, good luck prepping for finals! Those are coming up soon! TTFN

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Week 20

Well this was a special week up here in Meridian, ID. Lots of stuff happened, some of which you already know about through the delayed email. Exciting? I'd say so.
Like I said Wednesday, Tuesday was Zone Conference. That was pretty cool. We learned all sorts of missionary stuff there, like how to leave better commitments and how we should try to really connect to people and not just know them on a superficial level.
Thursday was supposed to be a really busy day because we had a lot of appointments set. What ended up happening? Very little. We'd show up to an appointment only to have them cancel, and then we'd get a text from another saying they needed to move up or cancel their appointment. That's missionary life though. Not much to do there other than to keep working so that you can get to as many as possible!
Friday was cool. We had interviews with our mission president, President Cannon. He's a super jolly guy. Imagine the jolly green giant but older, not green, and with glasses and that's him! haha Seeing him was great. He truly cares about each individual in this area and tries to do what he can to help us and those others around us. Once interviews were over, we went over to a pizza place for district lunch. You know what made this pretty cool? We got to make the pizza again! I didn't just throw on toppings! I threw the dough too. People up here are very relaxed, so it is easy to get along with everyone.
Saturday there was a lot of paperwork to fill out and a lot of studying to do in preparation for the upcoming days. That night there was a youth cultural celebration in honor of the rededication of the Boise Temple the following day. President Monson, Elder Bednar, and Elder/President Christianson (of the 70) were there to witness it. BSU was brought into the celebration of course because, up here, if you don't love the Broncos probably like the Vandals or BYU. President Monson was just as fun to watch as the dancers because he'd be dancing along and having a great time watching it.
Sunday ended up a lot like Thursday with appointments cancelling, but there was one GIANT upside. The Boise Temple was rededicated! We got to watch from the Stake Center, and it was amazing! The scripture I heard used over and over again was Mosiah 2:17. We need to serve those around us, and by so doing, serve God.
Transfers are next P-Day, so if you were planning on writing a letter this upcoming week send it to the mission office(1111 S Cole Road) for me! Thanks! I'll likely be leaving my area this transfer to go somewhere new. Have a great week!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Week 19: A delayed note

Howdy all! So...It's Wednesday. A little bit later than usual, huh? There is good reason! Monday was Veteran's Day, so the library was closed. Yesterday we had Zone Conference, so there wasn't any time to email after having been at the conference from 9 to 5. Finally, here it is in all it's glory(if you want to call it that)!
I guess I'll start by bringing up Zone Conference since I already started to! For those of you non-missionary folk reading, a zone conference is when all of the missionaries from a certain region get together to have a training taught by our mission president(boss). One of his counselors spoke first on the importance of unity. If we aren't united, we won't be able to reach our full potential. It says in the scriptures that the Lord's people were of "one heart and one mind, and there was no poor among them and they dwelt in righteousness". This made me think of how you can be of "one heart and one mind" but if you are doing bad things, you are not on the Lord's side which makes a lot of sense. Unity is good. Evil Unity(like a Luthor-Joker tag team) creates a greater evil, and good unity creates a greater good.
Our mission president spoke about the importance of real growth. Oftentimes, we are touched and decide to make a change for the better. Some of the time, this change doesn't last because we don't stick with it. What he emphasized was making sure we stick with it and "endure to the end". Is it worth starting a race if we don't plan on finishing it? Sometimes we need to take breaks, but we need to remember to keep moving forward regardless. Life isn't meant to be a stagnant process where things stay the same. We are supposed to grow and to learn throughout our lives.
It's getting colder, and we can feel it. We've started bundling up before heading out on our bikes. It's not always easy doing what's right, but it's always better in the end.
This zone conference we were permitted to watch a movie because we are deprived all of the rest of the year. The movie that was chosen(by the mission president) was The Other Side of Heaven. It was my first time seeing it. I'm glad I did. It helped me to know that I am the cheesiest of them all. In the beginning the main character brought up how he and his friend would be able to look up at the moon and know they were looking at the same thing even if they were a million miles apart. Why do I say I am the cheesiest? Without seeing the movie, I had said something similar to my friends about looking at the stars and knowing we were looking at the same stars(which, I guess isn't true if you're in separate hemispheres...but that's beside the point)
The work goes on! Life isn't meant to be had standing still! Keep moving forward!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Week 18: It's not easy being green

Why did I call my message that? That's weird. I don't feel green. Some people wouldn't say I am. Others would. I'm still newer than half of the mission, so I guess that makes me a little green. Good news though! I'm not going to be green much longer(by my companion's standard)! Today is my 4 month mark! What does that mean? Nothing! Well, I guess it means I've been out for 4 months. It's a little bit crazy and hard to believe. I'm 1/6 of the way done, but that doesn't matter! Whether your 1/730th or 729/730th of the way done, we are told to act like we are in the middle. If you're not an active missionary, you're not a good missionary.
I apologize to everybody for the lack of an email last week. Elder Barnes is a very social missionary and enjoys spending time with other missionaries, so we didn't get to email last week! He's been a great companion though. He's taught me how to interact well with ward leaders. It's funny because being out here I see the things missionaries and ward mission leaders do, and it's similar to what they did back home. They are trying to do missionary work, but back then-me being the teenager that I was-wasn't paying very good attention. I was paying enough attention to know that I was being a goofball back home, and that I shouldn't be that way (entirely) when I go back. They are just out there trying to help as many people as possible.
Missionary work has been booming! Since the temple open house started, we've more than doubled the number of people we are teaching! The great thing is that a lot of them are seeking us out! We haven't had to go out and seek them. They have found us! There is a cool quote in the "missionary handbook"(Preach My Gospel) that says(talking about finding people to teach)"He will lead you to them or He will lead them to you." I'm definitely seeing that right now. Everybody we are teaching has found us. They've requested us in one way or another.
Here's a question for all of you that have a story to tell: How have you found God through/despite trials in your life? We've had somebody talk to us about this thing, and now I am talking to all of you that are brave, strong souls. If you've got a story to share, share it!
Y'all have a good week! TTFN

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Week 16

Having a temple in your mission is amazing. Having a temple open while you are on your mission is even more amazing. The Boise Temple had been closed for renovations, but it is currently in the Open House phase. The temple is beautiful inside, and I have enjoyed both times I have been able to take investigators inside. Let me tell you, the work is booming. As my companion so nicely put it for you videogamers, It's kind of like the beginning of the open house was like turning on God Mode. Nothing can go wrong, and we are pretty much invincible right now. These past week we found 4 new people to teach(2 because of the temple and 2 because of move-ins).
We had a fun service project this week that started out with us cleaning a garage and ended with me felling a tree. You can see part of the tree and the four of us elders that knocked it down in the one, but I like the other picture more. I'm standing on the stump so you can see how big the tree was a little better. I also don't like the other picture because I'm holding the power tool. In truth, the power tool did nothing. The battery was dead, but we brought it in for the picture so that I could be holding something. We used the hand saws to get through the tree which made it really fun. My companion(on the far right), Elder Barnes, is holding the chain we used to try and pull the tree over after we got most of the way through. Pulling didn't work, but I could see the tree was shaking really bad. I decided to give it one more go with the hand saw, and 5 seconds later I had the tree on the ground!

That's all the exciting stuff from up here this week! Y'all have a good time wherever you are!

Monday, October 15, 2012

Week 15: "A new transfer, A renewed opportunit​y to work"

Since my last email, I've received a request to include more "missionary stuff" in my emails, so I'm going to try and do that this time. I have to admit, things feel very routine on a mission. It feels like we are doing the same things each day, and I don't feel like most of them would be exciting for you outsiders. As such, I've tried to include the bright and fun spots of the week. We are doing missionary work. We teach lessons. We knock doors. We get rejected. All that fun jazz. For me, none of that seemed very exciting being on the outside before my mission, so I didn't think to include it here reporting to y'all on the outside.
Today is the official transfer day. Most people are moving around. I got to do all of this a week early though. We got the call a week early saying that Elder Jones would be leaving, and that I would be getting a new companion Tuesday morning. We still spent our P-Day in the mountains because it's the mountains. Monday night was spent feverishly packing and saying goodbye to some members and investigators. Tuesday morning arrived along with Elder Barnes from Maryland. I've kind of been in charge, mostly because he has no idea where he is going. He is a fun guy that loves fungi(but not really(He kind of despises vegetables(even though fungi aren't vegetables...) and potatoes(ha! He's in Idaho..))) He enjoys the finer things in life like knocking doors and teaching lessons.
This last week we went 5 for 5 Tuesday to Saturday! We had a service project each day of the week! We started out stacking and cutting wood on Tuesday. Wednesday we were clearing out a yard for a member which included helping in tree removal. Thursday we got down and dirty in the dirt trying to remove some apple tree stumps from someone's backyard(for Steve and Sandy: This is Bro Simmons in your ward.) Note that I say "tried". It turns out apple tree roots grow strong and deep. We were at it for about 4 hours and only managed to get about a foot deep of roots cut, and the stumps still had no inclination of moving. I've still got a little bit of dirt under my fingernails from this project. Plus,the roots had to have gone down another 3 or 4 feet at the very least. Friday was easier. We were moving a member from one house to another. It was pretty easy because they didn't have too much stuff, only about a trailer(that you hitch onto the back of a truck) full. Saturday we got to help that member's dad with taking stuff to the dump because he wanted to do some fall cleaning with his kid moved out.
Suit coat season started here in the IBM. That means we get to where our suit coats full time(yes, even while we are sleeping). For those who might not know what IBM stands for: It stands for I'm in the Best Mission(or at least that is what I decided it means). Some of the other people think it stands for Idaho Boise Mission, but the two things are basically the same.
You know, once I have my act together, I'm going to become the next John Bytheway. We both have awesome last names that you can play with(You all know that "I'm the Mann". 87% of you have told me so.) I've even come up with my first big break/fireside shindig thing: "Missionaries: The Greatest Superheroes of Them All" I'd tell you some of my ideas, but then you'd steal them and claim them for yourself. There are all sorts of similarities between missionaries and superheroes from tripped out rides to utility belts to lightsab-I mean-to tools. You name it! If a superhero has it, a missionary has something similar/better than that thing the superhero has.
In one of my less bright moments, I got to teach at District Meeting where us missionaries get together and learn how to be missionaries. I wasn't quite as inspired with my training as I was with my fireside idea. I got up to talk about "Finding when you teach and teaching when you find" or vice versa. One of the key ideas in teaching and talking to people is being natural. If you aren't yourself, people aren't going to want to talk to you! Sometimes people don't want to talk to you even when you are being you! If you are going to be denied, you might as well be denied as yourself and not someone else. I went to end my training talking about being natural by saying "Don't deny yourself!" I immediately realized I was talking to 19 and 20 year old guys who have read scriptures that all talk about "deny[ing] yourself"(of all ungodliness) and they break out laughing at my error. Me too. I fixed it though! I went on to say: "Scratch that. 'Deny yourself, but don't deny being yourself.'" That was my big breakthrough. Don't do those things which aren't good, but don't do those things that don't make you yourself either. We are all individuals with individual value and worth. Each of us is great because we are ourselves. So, these are my words of wisdom to you all today: Deny yourself, but don't deny being yourself.

Well, with a new transfer comes a new picture of my 'smiling face' to show that I am alive and well! I kind of mentioned lightsabers earlier...Well, Here's your proof! haha That's right. Missionaries are now issued lightsabers! If that isn't enough to get you out on a mission when you are a young man, I don't know what is! Have a great week!
Also, I forgot to mention my address is still the same! I am still in Meridian and it is fantastic! Mail can be sent to the mission office or directly to
Elder Soren Mann
3145 N Valam Ave
Meridian, ID 83646
Bye now!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Week 13: "Food, Glorious Food."

As a missionary, it is really hard to say 'no' when people offer to give you food. Our normal home diet consists of cereal and peanut butter(or at least that is my diet). This week it changed a little bit. We were given a lot of "food" from members. Just because of how crazy it is/was, I'm going to list it all out. This last week we were given 4 cantalope, 1 watermelon, 6 giant cinnamon rolls, 2 huge pieces of red velvet cake, 2 cases of Capri Suns, french toast sticks, a jar of Raspberry-Peach jam, several bags of chocolate chip cookies, a bag of no-bake cookies(at home we always called these fudgy oatmeal cookies, but apparently everyone else calls them no-bake cookies), and 2 bags of 'candy'(a big bag of Skittles and a bag of chocolate covered pretzels). It was ridiculous! What's even more ridiculous is that it is almost all gone! Luckily, we were able to enlist the help of some other missionaries in eating all of this. We've still got 2 cantalopes and the jam, but everything else is gone.
I don't know how many of you noticed, but the title is a quote from Ice Age 2. I only bring that up because it is a cartoon. Cartoons are similar to story books. I only bring up story books because I used one is a lesson this week! I got to teach using the story of "The Star-Bellied Sneetches". After a dinner, I got to share a spiritual thought, and I used the story of "The Star-Bellied Sneetches" In the story, everybody was changing to become something else that they thought was better than what they previously were. In the end they were kind of forced to reconcile there differences because they realized how petty a difference it was(and they couldn't remember who had been different for what reasons). It was kind of a "the grass is greener on the other side" story, but I'm here to tell you that even if the grass is greener on the other side, the grass on your side of the field is more comfortable and it is all yours. Sometimes the greener grass isn't better. It's more trouble and it's not what you need. I don't know about you guys, but I like my grass soft! I don't care how green it is, as long as it is soft. You can have all of the green grass you want, but I am going to love the grass that I have been given because it is my own special grass.
A few weeks ago I brought up having several flats. Don't worry, I didn't get anymore flats. I'm here to talk about the 'bike graveyard'. I will make a disclaimer, that all I've added to the graveyard is dead tubes. Apparently there was an elder here just before me who ruined whole bikes and not just tubes. I'm attaching a picture with a list of things to see if you can find them all.
Can you find:
5 dead tubes
1 bike frame without tires
1 unused/bent rim
3 tires
Our 2 good bikes are sitting there too, but all of that other stuff is also kind of just hanging out.
Last night at dinner, the brother providing dinner showed us a video. It's a devotional from summer 2011 at BYU, and I am now going to give it a thumbs up. The devotional is called "His Grace is Sufficient" and it was given by Brad Wilcox. If you find yourself with another spare half hour after reading this, I strongly suggest watching or reading this. It is a great talk, and I would not do it any justice by trying to describe it. My description would ruin it, so I'm just going to tell all of you to watch it and take in it's amazing message on your own time.
This has been Elder Mann reporting in from the Meridian Public Library. Y'all have a good week!
p.s. I told you all about my Meridian address a few weeks back(3145 Valam). Well, if you send a letter this week, you can still use it; however, if you send a letter next week, use the old address(1111 S Cole Road) because I could end up moving to a new area next week. We'll find out. TTFN Tah Tah for Now!

Monday, September 24, 2012

Week 12: September?

Weird heading, huh? Well there is actually a little bit of a story behind it. We had Zone Conference(a whole bunch of us missionaries come together and do all sorts of fun stuff) this past week, and somebody mentioned Christmas and gifts. That got the Christmas ball rolling. Saturday night we got Raspberry Hugs(the white chocolate Kisses). They are really good, and I recommend them to everyone if you can manage to find them. This is the first time I had heard of them. Sunday, the weather was very similar to Christmas-time back home, kind of cooler and a little overcast with drizzle. I don't know. It reminded me of Christmas. The Hugs also reminded me of Christmas because we always had special varieties of Kisses at Christmas-time. I was just in a very Christmas-y mood, and reading Christmas hymns during sacrament didn't help. I read "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and realized I really like that hymn! "God is not dead nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail, the right prevail, with peace on Earth good will to men!" I added the exclamation points, but it is so true! It felt like Christmas...That was the big fun thing this week. Christmas feelings. Yes, it made me a little sad to realize I won't be with my family this Christmas. I didn't realize how bad it can potentially be, but I'll make the best of it!
One last note on Christmas: Some of you may be wondering what the perfect gift is to get your missionary in Africa or Cambodia, or maybe even stateside, but probably not yet since it is still September. This might not be true for all missionaries, but I think the best gift you can give a missionary is personal ....?attributes?. In letter or some other form, let the missionary know what your favorite scripture or favorite scripture story is and let them know how it gained its spot as 'favorite'. This is better than candy or snacks(especially where I am). Your stories and experiences beat out all the worldly things in the world as far as I am concerned.
It's starting to cool down up here, and I can tell I am going to need a jacket soon. I didn't come with one because I was in Socal where jackets are few and far in between during summer when I came out. It's not too bad yet, but it will be soon enough. Luckily suit coat season will start soon. Up here we don't where our suit jackets during summer, but about the time General Conference happens everybody pulls there suitcoats out.
Have a great week! Enjoy life for it is meant to be enjoyed!
Elder Mann

Monday, September 17, 2012

Week 11

8! Not 1, not 2, not 3, not even 4! 8! Count them! 8 flat tires in one week! Don't ask me how we managed that, but we did! First we patched up 3 holes. Then we replaced 1 tube. Then we patched a tube again. Then we replaced 3 tubes! My tires should never go flat again. haha I got the fancy tubes that are extra thick and come with slime in them. Plus, they've kind of got a warranty in that, if they do ever go flat, I can call a number and they will replace the tube.
That was the least fun part of the week, but it was funny by the end because it happened so much. On the opposite side of the spectrum, I got to try my hand at bucking hay! A member called us up and asked for our help. We didn't feel the need to change because it was getting close to dark, so we were going to be in after doing this service. Bucking hay in a white shirt and tie. I never thought I would buck hay to begin with, let alone in a white shirt and tie.
A new member in one of the bishoprics got up and spoke yesterday about how old he is getting. He's only 38. That made me start thinking about how old I am getting. I didn't realize it, but I am there. I'm old! Next year I'll be 20...That's hard to imagine. I feel like I could still fit in in a freshman geometry class other than that I would already know everything. Maybe that is what makes you old, knowledge. If I stopped learning I'd stop aging. That must be the answer, right? haha
Being a missionary, we aren't supposed to talk politics, but being in the world, you can't help but know what is going on. I'm going to go on this one semi-political tangent this once, and then you won't hear anything else from me. I'm not doing to be political. I'm doing this because of the inner patriot in me. I have heard this and that about what is going on in Africa and it is quite the depressing situation. Some of us missionaries were getting pizza for lunch at a place called Garbanzo's. They have a tv in there, and that is where I first heard/saw anything about the unrest. CNN was on and they were showing pictures of what was happening in Libya. One of the images showed an American flag on the ground. As old as I am, I've grown up knowing that the flag doesn't belong on the ground. My scoutmaster would share a story from scout camp about one scout, Ric. There was a day they were relaxing in camp when the flagpole they had set up fell over. From the way he tells it, Ric ran over that second and grabbed it and picked it up. I think it might be embelishment, but he says that Ric was barefoot when it happened and he had to run across 50' of wooded forest to get to the flag. Seeing the flag on the ground got me riled up in my mind, but I understood that there wasn't anything I could do to ease the situation. What did I do? I prayed to my Heavenly Father. When it feels like there is nothing else for us to do, that is the one thing that will never cease to be, our ability to pray. We can pray whenever for whatever. He, our heavenly Father, will listen.
One last note on flags and I'll close up shop for the day. Back before heading out on my mission, I had the chance to go to Joshua Tree with a few of my friends. I was blessed with the opportunity to share in the experience of a flag's retirement while there. It was a very special evening. If any of those friends get the chance to read this, I want to thank them for being with me out there. Care for those things you hold dear. Respect and love them. Treat them well.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Week 10: Shout Outs!

Howdy all! I've got a few shout outs to make this week!
My first shout out goes to my friend, the dictionary! For the first time in 10+ years, I got to use a dictionary as my 'spell check'! My companion had to write an essay, and he wanted me to check his spelling. There were some words I wasn't sure about, so I got a dictionary and checked it there! It felt good pulling out that dusty old book.
My second shout out goes to Twix! I had gone to a lunch with the district, but it wasn't a very big lunch. I was debating one whether or not I needed a whole PB sandwich or just a fun size Twix. I chewed it over with a Twix.
My third shout out goes to my home town Mentone and its neighboring city Redlands! The Boise Temple has been under construction for the past year and is preparing to reopen in November. Before it reopens there will be an open house. They have made a fancy video in preparation for the open house, and I would like to share it with all of you.
That there is a link to the video. It's short. Only 01:14 I think. You Socal people might recognize something near the 00:05 mark. What's that? The Redlands temple? That's right! Redlands temple made it into the video! Hoorah!
[Also, there has been a lot of talk about a cultural celebration to go along with the open house. Was there one when the Redlands temple was opened? I forget because I was only 10. All I really remember is tasty cookies and a nice walk inside.]
My last shout out goes to collars! That's right! Collars! I'm wearing a collared shirt 95% of the time when I'm in public. This has 'messed up' my body. I went to a service project that lasted for 4 hours! What happened? The bottom half of my neck(which is normally covered with a collar) got burned! The top half was fine, but the lower half got burned because it isn't used to being exposed anymore! That's the life of a missionary for you right there.
The work of the Lord continues! "No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing"! We've got a baptism lined up for Saturday for a mother and her two daughters. We've been meeting new people and are striving as hard as we can to help them in all ways possible. There is also going to be a day for everybody to invite their friends to church, so we are really encouraging members to invite their friends. It should be a great opportunity.
The final word of the day: Journals. Write a journal, and write in it consistantly. For the first time, I'm able to look back and read what I wrote from a year ago. A few days back(a year ago) my journal entry started out "Alex had a really great day!" There are just all sorts of great memories that are in there. The problem is, I didn't write in it regularly. I even noted at it. I stopped writing in it for two months. The first thing I wrote after that hiatus? Write in it regularly! What happened? I didn't. Now I've got giant gaps...Luckily I've been a lot better. I've written everyday since being on my mission.
Elder Mann

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

2 Months Out and Still Going Strong

Dear whoever reads this,
Hello! Welcome to the exciting new installment of Elder Mann's Idaho Adventures! This last weekend was the end of a transfer. I could have gotten moved! I didn't. I get to stay in Meridian for at least another 6 weeks unless something comes up(1% probability of a random change caused by factors beyond my control). In this 6 weeks, I've taught a lot of different people a lot of different things, but I've learned as much as I've taught. I did finally make it through a full bag of cereal.(That is breakfast for us champions up here! No, I don't eat Wheaties.)
For some reason or another, the subject of why us missionaries decided to come on missions has come up quite a few times. This made me think of way back when I was a 12 year old deacon. There was one lesson Brother Humphries was teaching. I can't remember what it was specifically about, but he brought up a cool phrase. He said, "Beat the dragon before you fight the battle." A decision is a lot easier to make if you've already decided what you are going to choose when the chance arises to make that choice or not.(That was a fun sentence to right. Poetic? Not really. It's fun to say it in my head though.) I had known several years before I was 19 that I was going on a mission. One of the most pivotal moments was when I stood on top of the (contiguous) United States. I was up there with my friends and we signed a proclamation to the world saying that we would serve honorable full time missions. It was a very great experience, and I am not doing it justice at all. If you want to hear(read) the full story, you can write me a letter and ask for it!
I have to admit, this is the farthest away I've ever lived from Mountains. They've been practically at my back door my entire life! It's a little ...?weird? not having those mountains surrounding me now. The sky is huge and blue. It's different, but beautiful in it's own way. Sunset is also very cool. With nothing to get in the way, the sun sets are just awesome. The horizon line is huge because there aren't any mountains so the changing color of the sky is very obvious and dramatic. I'm a nature kid(kind of). Don't hate.
Speaking of hating, be careful how you use that word. I've realized just how powerful a word it is. A few missionaries have talked about how bad certain 'things' can be, and it has really stuck in my mind. I've had experiences with some of those 'things' that they talked about and they were not bad at all, but because they had talked about them being bad, I had a prejudice before evening having the experience. Yes, different people think and experience things differently, but they can still leave prejudices in impressionable minds(like those of new missionaries who don't know what to expect).
Lastly, because I am not moving for at least another 6 weeks, I have a new address where you all can send mail to for the time being! The address that you have right now is the address of the mission office. They like mail to be sent there because of transfers and people moving around. That way they can redirect the mail where it needs to go no matter where the missionary is. Well, I am not moving around(except for that 1% chance that something goes awry somewhere). As such, I will give you my direct address so that any mail that is sent between now and the end of September doesn't have to go through that multiple day forwarding process. Mail can be sent directly to the following:
Elder Soren Mann
3145 N Valam Avenue
Meridian, ID 83646

I also have a challenge for 46ers that are reading this.(You know who you are) I am looking for a few addresses, in particular, those of Elder Chandler, Elder Tyree, Bishop Holdaway, Bro McQuarrie, and Bro Rosborough. I offer up this challenge to whoever is willing to take it. "Some of you may die, but it is a sacrifice I am willing to make."(but not really. If anybody dies during this process, please promptly report it to me so that I can be executed for improper use of friendly generosity) You all are awesome! I hope school is being kind to you this year! Thanks for everything you have done and are doing to bring happiness to those people that knowingly and unknowingly need it!

May you all have wonderful days!
PS I've included a picture of me and my smiling face, so that you know I'm alive and happy after my first 6 weeks in the real world! Things are great. I also had my first hair cut yesterday! Hoorah! And my bike made it into the picture! Mine is the blue one!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Week 8

"What up, freaks?" I told somebody I wasn't sure how to start my letters, and that is how I was told to start it. He even said to tell y'all that Brother Hamer told me to say it, and he did.
Everybody makes fun of the IBM(Idaho Boise Mission) because Singles Ward(the movie) made a joke about it. In all truth, it is a great place to be. The people are awesome. Even when we have doors 'slammed in our faces' they aren't really slammed. They say stuff like "we're not interested" and politely close the door. It's kind of funny. The food is safe and filling. For some reason people seem to feel the need to feed us dessert at dinner. This week was especially 'good'. One night we had blackberry pie made with blackberries from the family's garden. The following night we had raspberry pie made with raspberries from their garden. The night after that we had peach cobbler with peaches not grown in their garden because you can't grow peaches here, or at least I don't think you can. Don't worry. I'm not getting fat. They give us exercise time for a reason, and I use it! The climate is nice enough. It's funny because it'll rain for a minute and that is all that will happen. It won't even be completely overcast. It'll just be one cloud that has a little too much water, so it can't hold onto it. I can't think of any other mission I'd rather be in right now(not even Chile Santiago North).
Yesterday was cool because we didn't have time for dinner! We went from one appointment to another all afternoon/evening long. It was great! Lately we've been teaching a lot of members the message of the Restoration because we are trying to get as many people thinking about missionary work as we can. Elder Jones and I can do a good amount on our own, but we can do a lot more with the help of the members. "Every member a missionary!" We do have a family we hope to be able to baptize later this month. More on that story as it develops.
I seem to have the same/worse luck with bikes here as I did back home. I am now up to 2 flat tires and 4 'crashes'. Funny story about the crashes. I think I talked about two of them last week when I ran into my companion and then swerved away and my bike fell over. Well some similar stuff happened this week. I was riding my bike to an appointment when I started to slow down and dismount. The bike stopped before I realized it had and fell over the opposite way I was expecting it to, and the two of us(me and my bike) went into a bush. That's my airhead moment for the week. My other airhead moment was when I was riding on the road and I got distracted by a driver who was being less than cordial. I rode my bike to close to the curb because of this distraction, and (once again) me and my bike toppled over onto the side walk with a little bit of sliding action! I even have a picture of what it did to my pants! There is a white stripe underneath the 'hole'. That was caused by the sliding(but I guess the hole was too). Awesome, right?? I only share these stories because I find them funny and laugh at them. I don't mean for anybody to worry. Laugh with me! hahaha ...well...I think it's funny. Maybe that is just because I'm me. To ease any troubled minds, I came away uninjured from all of these incidents. My body is happy and healthy. [Obviously I am going to have to buy another pair of pants. The pair that tore came from Burlington, and there just so happens to be a Burlington up here. I'm going later today and will report back next week.]
The night we had the blackberry pie for dinner, Elder Jones and I were eating with the Whites, an older couple in one of our wards. We were sitting and waiting for dinner to be ready when I noticed some old books. One of them was an old copy of the Book of Mormon. I thought I had written down how old, but apparently I didn't. It was printed some time between 1900 and 1920 I think. I thought that was cool. I've included a picture of this too because I like old stuff like this.
Tomorrow is my companions birthday. He'll be 21, and he'll only have about 4 months left. He's been cool about it though. He keeps on doing the work like he should, and it has been great working with him.
ttfn Tah tah for now!
Elder Mann

Monday, August 20, 2012

Week 7

Hey everybody!

This week was equally exciting and mediocre. We taught some members, less actives, and investigators. We haven't found any new investigators in the time I've been here, but I've been here a very short time. Idaho is still good. Lots of food to be eaten, especially at dinner time. Breakfast is cereal. Lunch is Peanut Butter. Right now, I wouldn't have it any other way. I've now been in Meridian longer than I was in the MTC. It feels good, and when I think about it, it feels like I've been out for a while. When I put it on paper, I haven't actually been out that long. Just over a month. No worries though. Everything is great!
Tuesday I was able to buy a bike for myself. I bought it from a used bike shop, but it was all but new. It rides great, and I love having a bike I can crash and not feel bad about crashing(which is funny because...) The next day when I went to ride it, something happened so that the front break was squeezing the tire without me even pressing on the break handle. To fix this, I took off the front break. It's okay. I've still got a back break which is more important. That same day, I wasn't paying attention very well while biking. Twice(in the same spot) I ran into my companion because I got to close. I fell over both times. At some point later on that night I realized my water bottle was missing. The next day we biked by the same spot and saw that it had fallen out where I fell over. I 'crashed' again on Sunday. I was going to slow while preparing to park my bike, and it fell over. Even the best of bikers have trouble riding some of the time!(not that I'm the best. I'm trying to imply I'm allowed more dumb mistakes because I'm far from it!)
Speaking of dumb things that happened! hahaha Thursday night we went to a members house. We went outside to talk to the guy, Bro Valle, when he showed us a giant wasps' nest that was in one of his trees! He hadn't noticed it until that day, and it was as big as a basketball! What did he do? Right then and there, he got a lighter and WD-40. WHOOSH! That thing lit up fast! After half of it was incinerated he got a can of RAID and killed the rest. No(human)body was hurt during the course of this...adventure.
I also had a chance to talk to one of my dad's old neighbors. He actually grew up in Mentone and went to Mentone Elementary School(a really small place even back then in the 60s), or at least he did until 3rd grade. He then told me his uncle lived there while I was going to school and was a yard duty. I remembered his uncle's name! Richard! That was a crazy blast to my past. This week we might have dinner with this guy and his uncle who moved up here a few years ago. It's cool the connections you can make 2304982039458 miles from home.
Hope everybody who is preparing to start school is having fun! Good luck! Remember to ....remember to....use your brain! Yeah! Use your brain! It's a great tool, especially at school! Bye now!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Week 6

It is interesting how life just kind of goes on. People are starting up school. They are moving around. Things are changing. Things are staying the same. The mission is doubly interesting because the daily routine is the same wherever you go, but it is different depending on who you are with. Each person adds their own personality to what they are doing, and that is the spice of life.
This past week we tried to do some tracting, but members were the only people to let us share messages with them. We had a few lessons with our progressing investigators that went well. There was one discussion where we weren't ever able to actually get into what we had prepared because the people had so many questions. Questions are great though. It means they are studying and trying to understand what they can.
It must have been some sort of harvest time because we had corn on the cob 4 times last week. It was all delicious, it is just no fun getting corn stuck between your teeth.
There are a few fires up here, and so at some points during the day you can smell the smoke. It is a surprisingly familiar smell and it kind of feels good. It isn't healthy, but it is slightly nostalgic to choke on the smoke. It reminds me of back home in '04 when we had a few big fires close to home.
For all of you family people out there that like horseshoes but don't think it is for kids or yourself, I have a solution! There is a game called washers! What you do is you take a piece of PVC pipe(somewhere between 4" and 7" in diameter) and you glue it to the middle of a box/crate(make sure the crate is about as tall as your piece of pvc pipe). You then use this like you would use a horseshoe stake. You put two of of these opposite eachother. You proceed to try to throw washers(I think 2" or 3" diameter) into them. You get 3 points for in the pvc pipe, and 1 point for in the crate/box. Maybe it isn't that different from horseshoes, but it feels like it when I play it for FHE with a family we visit.
That's all from up here! I did have an influx of mail this week[which included the package from home] which was greatly appreciated. All letters will be replied to in due time. I'm finding I have less time to write letters now that I am out of the MTC, so it may take longer to get to get a response.
Enjoy life!

Monday, August 6, 2012

One Month!

Hello whoever is reading this!
Well I have officially been on my mission for 1 month now(July 5-Aug 5)! It is hard to believe that there is a world out side of my area! My current area is half farmland and half sub-divisions. It is really funny and eventually I'll get a picture that depicts it perfectly. It is great being out here. There is very strong member support in the area. We've got dinner every night, and sometimes we get offers for lunch too. This might be hard to believe, but while up here, I've had the best tacos in the world. I'm from Socal! You think I'd have had the best down there. Nope! They're up here! Last night I got to eat elk for the first time. I like it better than steak(which I actually had the night before). It feels like 9 out of 10 families have a garden and we are somehow fed something from that garden. Last week we went out and picked blackberries from one older couple's garden. They were great right off of the vine!
Speaking of older gentlemen, I love them. They have such cool stories and collections. One had a car and sword collection which included a 1949 Buick Roadmaster(Rainman, anyone?). Another had his father's doorknob collection, and the last one I saw was a belt buckle collection. I feel bad because I don't look excited when they show me these collections, but I really am. I think they are awesome!
Another great thing I've noticed about the older community is how resilient they are. It seems like all of the old people have been through some sort of difficult trial. Some lung cancer; others cataract surgery; one guy had to have a chunk of one of his internal organs removed(which I guess can also be said for the lung cancer guy). These people haven't layed down and keeled over though. They are fighting and overcoming whatever trial has come there way! Even if they don't have anything really difficult going on, they are still being proactive. One guy buys old stuff and restores it and he's got to be 80! I hope I get to be that way when I am older.
If I might make one suggestion to whomever is reading this. Go to Youtube if you can, or, and look up "Lessons I learned as a boy". It is a beautiful and inspiring short video about...about alot. Referring to the video: Everyone of us has been blessed with silver dollars at some point in their life. Sometimes we forget to thank those that bless us with these gifts, whether or not we know who gave them to us. I feel like I have been especially bad at that part. Thank you friends and family for being there for me in so many different ways at so many different times.
Elder Mann
 Oh yeah, I forgot to mention I commited a family to baptism! A family of 4 has agreed to be baptised September 8! Everything should work out great with them. They have a strong testimony and truly believe that Joseph Smith was a prophet and that the Book of Mormon is true. It's true what they say! 'The field is white!'" 

"As I've recently found out, BYU and other colleges will be starting up soon. If you happen to be somebody that has written me or plans on writing me a letter and are moving some time in the next month to college, please include in that letter your new address because if I send it back home you will be gone before it can get to you. Thanks all!"


Monday, July 30, 2012

Week 4: 1st Full Week

Dear everybody,
Well I finally have the chance to add pictures because I'm in a library so I'll start with that and see how it goes. There are 3 pictures attached. One is of myself and a friend from home, Elder Miner. Another is of me and the guy who isn't dressed up because it was late at night(and he lived two doors down) the last night before I left, Elder Lucas. The one with the old guy that looks like a mountain man was taken in the MTC. The man, Arnold, played the part of an investigator so that we could practice teaching real people in the MTC. The balder missionary is Elder Olinger, and the other missionary with glasses is Elder Woodward. They were my companions in the MTC. The last is of me, my companion(Elder Jones), the mission president(President Cannon), and his wife(Sister Cannon).
I've been out of the MTC a week tomorrow. Coming out, I was expecting to be tracting with every second we weren't in a lesson with an investigator. It turns out that isn't the case. We also visit a lot of less actives and even active members with youth. There was an old guy, Brother Hatch, that we visited. He was awesome!(not to say that the others aren't, but he was especially so. Don't get me wrong. This is the best area in the world! Super strong members. One family is letting me borrow one of their bikes until I can find one for myself. It's almost like being back home.) He reminded me of an older version of Bro Richard Larsen from 1st ward. I could see him(Bro Larsen) ending up like Bro Hatch. Service is a big part too. So far I've mowed a lawn, taught a lesson for the young men and young women, spoke in a sacrament meeting, and painted the inside of a house. Coming soon: bucking hay! That should be exciting! I'm looking forward to it.
My companion is Elder Jones from Yuba City, CA. He says I don't feel like a greeny because I know scripture references, the lessons, and I can bike faster. I'm glad he doesn't think I'm a greeny. It makes everything a lot more natural if I'm not 'fresh out of the MTC' even if I really am. We stay at the home of a nice older sister, Sister Butler. We've got real beds and a nice place to stay.
That's about it. Nothing exciting is happening, yet. We're getting ready for a big week though.
Be smart. Be wise. Remember who you are.
Elder Mann

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Week 3: 1st few days in Boise!

Wow! These past few days have gone by really fast, and it has just been crazy! Obviously I am alive and well. Were I not, I could not send this.
The MTC feels like a long time ago in a galaxy far far away. It's hard to believe I was there just two days ago. I got 4 letters Monday afternoon, so I stayed up until 2am responding to them. I then got up at 4am to finish getting ready and leave for the airport and the real world. We left from Salt Lake Airport for Boise at 8:30 and touched down a little less than an hour later. We were greeted at the airport by President and Sister Cannon as well as the Assistants to the President: Elder Wright and Elder Cottam.
From there we went to the Mission Office for a nice lunch. The office is actually in the Stake Center right next to the Boise temple. Apparently they were completely redoing the interior of the temple. The Open House will begin in October, and President Monson will do the rededication in November.
We had a little bit of training and interviews with President Cannon after lunch. After that we were sent to downtown Boise to do some street contacting. We were paired up with random trainers and given copies of The Book of Mormon to hand out. I was able to give out one(I might have gotten a little help...but I probably could have done it on my own) in addition to another that my trainer gave out. While out doing the street contacting we met a Sister Bown from around Carlsbad, CA who happens to know Sister Chatfield from Redlands 1st Ward. My first day and I've already ran into somebody I shouldn't know(alright...technically I don't know her, but we have a mutual friend. We're 1000 miles from CA. That shouldn't happen.) We then had a nice dinner at the Mission Home before heading off to bed. The next morning we ate breakfast, did a little more training, and were finally paired off with our real companions.
I've been placed in the Meridian West Stake in Meridian, Idaho over the Peregrine, Cherry Lane, Ten Mile, and Autumn Fare wards with my companion Elder Jones. Half the area is farmland, and the other half is suburbs. It's really pretty funny. As soon as I figure out how, I'll send pictures. The area has very strong member presence. Despite this strong member presence, I get to give a talk on creation and teach a lesson for the Young Men and Young Women on my first Sunday out! Yay! Nobody has slammed a door in my face yet, which has been very nice. Lucky me, I get to be in a bike area! I am very grateful for this because...well...because I'm me, and I like biking!

I am finally starting to feel like a real missionary. At first there is a little shell shock coming out of the MTC, but after you knock your first door and teach your first lesson it goes away. You really have to remember that you are still you. Sometimes that is hard, but it is important to be a person(an obedient person). The only person I know how to be is myself, so I'm going to go with that and see how it works.
They like all mail to be sent to the mission office(my address on facebook) to prevent loss of mail during transfers. This will make the time it takes me to get any letters longer, but that's okay. I can only write back on Mondays anyways.
That's all from the field!
Be smart, be wise, remember who you are
Elder Mann

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Mission Week #2: last week in MTC!

Hello all,
Another week has come and gone. Our branch president said the week would fly by, but the days would drag on. He was right. It's hard to believe I've only got one more week left in here. Time is flying by and I'm sure it will keep on flying until my life is over. This time next week I'll be in Boise, Idaho! I wouldn't say that I'm tired of the MTC, but I'd say I'm ready to not be sitting in a classroom for 9-11 hours out of the day.
In memory of the missionaries that are out, I will once again list the missionaries I have ran into that I know to show that there are those who are willing to do good in the world despite all the bad: Elders Chandler(now in Salt Lake City), Lucas, Stephenson(now in Cincinatti), Doxey, Williams, Bradley, Witt, Wasden, Shreeve, Johnson, Chambers(now in Guatemala), Ahlstrom(soon to be in San Antonio), Sanderson, Mills, Ricks, Christiansen, Sotas, Segard, Gordon, Tasso, Miner, Newton, Van Slooten, and Sister (Sarah) Rowley: the faithful food server.
Our district has had a lot of ups and downs this past week. The minute somebody thought we had a bad lesson the mood for the entire companionship would just drop. The opposite was just as true though. A good lesson would put us on top of a mountain.There have been plenty of both.
We have one person we are teaching named Arnold. He's about as mountainman as you can get in the city. He's got hunting knives, fire starting kits, his wooden spoons that he carves, and a 12 guage(He brings all of these to the lessons, minus the shotgun). He says he has to be ready for when everything goes bad. I can tell you; he's ready. He is probably our best(farthest along) investigator. We've made a lot of progress with him through talking about the Plan of Salvation.
It is really important to remember that you can't teach them. You can only provide the opportunity for them to learn(by the Spirit).
You must remember to recognize that each person is an individual. You shouldn't judge them by their parentage or status in life. This last Sunday we had Sister Jenny Oaks Baker play violin and speak at our fireside. Apparently she is Elder Oaks' daughter. Did that change my opinion of her? No. It's just a nice tidbit that helps me know how she came to be who she is, but I didn't think any differently because of it.She was a great violinist though. Lots of prestigious stuff apparently. That one school in New York, part of some symphony thing, mother, teacher. All great stuff.
Knowledge of the scriptures becomes quite useful. It helps you feel like you aren't repeating yourself every lesson if you know more scriptures. I've found that I've got about 120ish scriptures at my disposal, and that is nowhere near enough. I haven't used half of them yet, but I've still got two years to use them and the rest that I plan on learning.
It might seem a little cliche but
Be smart, be wise, remember who you are
Elder Mann

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Reporting in: Day 5

Howdy all!

Well I've been in the MissionaryTrainingCenter a whopping 5 days now. I've 'taught' 3 lessons already and acted as investigator twice. The food isn't nearly as bad as people make it out to be. It is cafeteria style like the Cannon Center at BYU for those who have been there. After getting less than 3 hours of sleep each night for the last 3 nights before the MTC, it felt good being forced to sleep from 10:30 to 6:30. My companion is one Elder Olinger from Missouri, and he happened to become the district leader(the guy in charge of the 3 sets of elders and 2 sets of sisters). Our district is split in half with 3 elders and 2 sisters each going to either the Canada Halifax Mission or the Idaho Boise Mission.
Elder Lucas(someone from my ward/building at BYU) happens to live 2 doors down from me. It has been great seeing him and having the chance to have an experienced elder there to help me know how things run. He is of course not the only elder I've seen. I've actually ran into a lot of people, and I'm sure only half of the names will make sense to any one person. I'll list them all anyways: Elder Chambers(who left today for Guatemala), Elder Doxey, Elder Williams, Elder Chandler(who leaves soon for Salt Lake), Elder Witt, Elder Wasden, Elder Bradley, Elder Shreeve, Elder Mills, Elder Miner, Elder Van Slooten, and Elder Newton. Everybody seems to be alive and well.
3 days in I already lost track of what day it is. Once you're in here, the only way days you can tell apart from any other days are Sunday because of church and Tuesday because it is my preparation day.
Yesterday in class we talked about stress relief. We of course started this lesson by going for a run(in our suits), doing push ups(in our suits), and then doing wall sits(in our suits). That was the most fun part of the day aside from our mountainman investigator and playing frisbee with Elder Lucas.
On the more spiritual side:
Teaching is a very important and powerful force, especially when it is done right. You must be sure to teach an individual, not a lesson. You have to interact with the person you are teaching. It isn't a lecture. As much as you lecture and tell others you care about them, they cannot truly learn until you let them speak and have the chance to feel and to express what they are feeling. Each day we learn more about how to be a better teacher. This is where we're at right now.
How blessed we are. While watching The Testaments after devotional on Sunday, I re-realized some very important things. God loves us more than we can ever know. We are His imperfect children. Some of us hate Him. Some of us love Him. Some of us ignore Him. Some of us don't even know who He is. He gave up His one perfect son, who happens to be the First Begotten, so that the rest of us have a chance at life and happiness beyond this life. Jesus Christ suffered so much pain, so much agony, so much despair all because He loves us. How happy and proud we must have been when he had completed his work. I can only imagine the angel choirs, us, singing out that He had doen what no one else could do all for the sake of everyone else. The joy...the joy beyond any joy we will feel when we will be able to meet our Savior in the flesh. He who knows us, knows our trials, knows our pains, knows our experiences, and knows our names. I know that my redeemer lives and that he suffered for us. In the end we will be able to meet Him again, and I hope be able to thank him for everything he has done for us.