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