Thursday, December 19, 2013

Week 73: Christmastime excitement

Things are looking up for us here in good old Middleton! Everything is white, and we are readying ourselves for Christmastime. This last week was a pretty good one if I do say so myself.
 
We did a combined district meeting in Emmett to help everyone feel included. In the spirit of missionary work, rather than make gingerbread houses, we made some graham cracker temples. We modeled ours after the temple. The judges didn't like our pick of a Canadian temple for who knows what reason, but everybody was happy in the end.
 
Speaking of happy endings, this weekend saw an old investigator getting baptized in Nampa East. Bro Titsworth had been meeting with missionaries before I got there, and we continued the trend of teaching him. Things started to click, and now(3 months later) he got baptized. It was great to go back and witness that.
 
Elder Jarvis and I got to speak in Middleton 3rd ward yesterday. That went pretty well. I was the last speaker, and the talks before mine made me reflect on past experiences like learning to hike and collecting food in the rain as part of a scouting food drive. I was able to relate these to my talk which helped because one of the youth speakers spoke on what I was going to speak on(Christlike Attributes).
 
This week we'll have the mission Christmas gathering. It should be an uplifting experience.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Week 72: Thanksgiving/Christmastime

My first week here in Middleton has been great. I've met some of the great members as well as our awesome investigators. We've got three that we're working with right now, but we received a referral for a fourth. We've got a date set with one of them, and we're hoping to set two more this week.
 
Thanksgiving was fun. We visited the Smith family where we spent some time playing Apples to Apples and Mafia in the spirit of the fun day that it was. Christmas hymns started Friday at District Meeting.
 
I actually cover multiple church buildings again. We've got two which hasn't been the case for me since late July. It's good to have a larger area to work with, but it was nice only having to go to one church building.

Week 71: The start of a really bad joke.

(I'll start with what I think is the funny, and then go to the serious before hitting up the business stuff.)
 
A Mormon, a Catholic, and a Baptist are all in a room together. Who ever has heard a joke that started like that before? I know I have, or at least similar jokes with three other religions. Well, this was a real situation except there were 3 Mormons, 1 Catholic, and 3 Baptists. We were visiting with John and Caroline who I suppose you don't know about. We met them a couple of weeks back. Caroline was a little bit tipsy at the time, but she said we could come back and talk. We tried our luck to see if we could catch her in a more sober state. It didn't work. This time she, John, and their friend John were all a little under the influence. There was a fourth, Elizabeth, but she didn't want anything to do with us Mormons to start. Eventually she came out and asked a lot of good questions. John#1 didn't like all of the 'arguing' that was going on, so he suggested we say and prayer and sing Amazing Grace, so we did. We only new the first verse, but he went on to sing the second verse plus a couple other songs. They all invited us back, so only the future can tell what kind of mental state they'll be in when the missionaries next run into them.
 
I would call myself a moderate pack rat. I don't keep everything, but I'll keep a lot of stuff. Usually, it has to be connected to a person for me to keep it. These weekend I came up with a good rule of thumb for cleaning as a pack rat. If you can't remember why you have that thing(or in my case if I can't remember who it's from) then get rid of it. Call me crazy, but I've got a walnut sitting in my suitcase from a Bro Hernandez in my first area. I had to throw a rock away this weekend because I couldn't remember who I got it from...It's probably for the best. It was a pretty ordinary rock.
 
I've decided to switch it up and do business before the serious stuff. I got transferred today. I moved from the "Middleton area" in Nampa to the "Old Highway 30 area" in Middleton. My new companion is Elder Jarvis from North Carolina(the Charlotte area). Middleton is a smaller town, only about 6000 people, but that is the town itself. There is a lot of outlying area which is where we serve and live which I guess is considered part of the next town over. I'm glad to be back in a small town for the holidays. It should be fun. I've got a new address to go along with the 1008 Sanetta.
Elder Soren Mann
14885 Eagle Drive
Caldwell, ID 83607
 
The last story I was going to tell had to do with a temple sealing I got to attend Saturday, but I'm actually going to save that for later in the future. For now, I'll just say I could not have another baptism, and I would know I've had a successful mission, Baptism is just the beginning...

Week 70: Everything tastes better deep-fried.

This was a pretty good week up here in Nampaville. We had zone conference, a turkey fry, and another old companion getting ready to go home this go around.

Zone Conference was last Tuesday. We talked about the role of the Holy Ghost in conversion. There isn't too much more important than the Spirit when it comes to missionary work. In D&C 42, it says "And the Spirit shall be given unto you by the prayer of fatih; and if ye receive not the Spirit ye shall not teach." Teaching is basically the only thing we do as missionaries. If we can't do that, we can't be effective missionaries. The Spirit is there to testify to each of us of truth whenever there is truth to be testified of. We cannot be converted if we aren't able to feel it.
After a great training, we went into the cultural hall for some activities. They consisted of blindfolded "dodge the missionary with the bat", get out of the burning barn rope without using your arms, and moving radioactive waste as a team using elastic strings(both being able to see and blindfolded with a guide). Planning and communication were key to all of these activities. You had to know which voices to listen to(especially when blindfolded). 
Zone Conference ended with a Thanksgiving feast. The food was delicious, but the package I got was even sweeter. I got a package that Arthur sent up. In it was a little letter, a cookie, and some pictures. I knew he was getting tall, but I didn't realize how tall he was getting. The picture attached is of the inside of my sidebag. The mission pins, and now also my mentor pin. 

Saturday night, we went to an elder's quorum activity for dinner. They were doing a turkey fry before Thanksgiving. That was the most delicious turkey I've ever had. I'm going to have to find out how they season the turkeys and get myself a frier for when I eventually have to carve up the birds myself.

This upcoming weekend/pday is transfer time. Elder Larsen, my companion from June to July, goes home Saturday. He's one of the better teachers here in the mission, and I'll miss having his experience around. 

I had a little bit of freetime last pday, so I looked up old conference talks from the year I was born. One caught my eye in particular. It was President Hinckley's talk from the priesthood session. This was the talk that the Mormon Message "Lessons I learned as a boy" came from. I liked it a lot. Something not quite yet applicable (but I wrote it down anyways so that I can remember it in the future) yet that I liked was "[B]e good men, that your wives will speak of you with love and appreciation and your children will remember you with gratitude everlasting" I'm going to be that good man someday! Thanks for all of you good men that are already out there!(and you good women too!)

Week 69:That one thing that hasn't come in several weeks.

Will you look at that! It's an actual email report on life from Elder Mann! I haven't seen one of these since November started. Well it was about time. I needed to actually send an email home. I guess I'll start by explaining the pictures.
The first picture was part of a handout that I got to make with my companion. Half of the handout is supposed to be fun, and half of it is supposed to be serious. It was also supposed to be Book of Mormon oriented. I couldn't think of anything super clever, so this was the best I could do. The family history center computers don't have very good editing software like photoshop or gimp for some reason, so the Book of Mormon heads aren't very "neat". The pre-edited pictures came from lds.org.

The picture with me and the boy was taken shortly after his baptism. His name is Josh Moore. He is Dimitri's little brother. (I think I mentioned him a couple lot of weeks back. He got baptized at the beginning of October.) Josh took the lessons after his brother finished them and got baptized last Tuesday.(which also happened to be my 16 month mark-I've been out twice as long as the time I have left....weird) 

The last picture is of some little "reverance books" that we helped the ward mission leaders wife put together last night. One of them was super interesting. It had mini-bios of the first presidency and quorum of the twelve apostles. It kind of reminded me of the book Mom made for Arthur with the stuff from the temple open houses. 

I am getting reminders from people who know more than I do to make sure that these messages are uplifting and help you out more than just figuring out that I'm ok and alive. In my journal, I've been writing down something I'm grateful for each day because Thanksgiving is this month. I'm hoping to have a person(or people), a thing, or a place for each day of the month. There is really so much to be grateful for. We should each be able to write something every day of the year...maybe that's what I'll do next year...

On another cool quotable note, I got to read Elder Nelson's recent CES Devotional last week. It was awesome. I've come to find that he is one of my favorites. One of the many quotable lines from his address is "Education is the difference between wishing you could help other people and being able to help them." This is super true. As missionaries, we will often say we can't convert people beyond our own conversion. This also applies in other aspects of life. If someone is bleeding, you can only help if you know how to stop the bleeding. You can't tutor in Calculus if you haven't completed Geometry or a lot of other stuff. Another great example: "Seek not to declare my word, but first seek to obtain it, and then shall your tongue be loosed;"

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Week 68:A whole new transfer

Well...I didn't email home last week. It was transfer day, and we took over a new area with a dying missionary. When I say "we", I'm talking about Elder Streeter and me now. He comes from North Carolina. That brings me up to 3 East coasters(NH, NC, and MD), 3 West coasters(CA, AZ, and AZ)[Ok, AZ is pushing it...], and 3 Mid-Westerners(CO, UT, and NM). We came into the area with a little bit of information and an almost home missionary. (Elder) Zach (Barnes) hung out with us until leaving to meet the assistants to go to the airport. He was my second companion and a pretty good missionary. A group of us will miss him out here.

I got moved back into the Nampa North Stake.(I'd give out an address, but we're moving again soon, so just send mail to 1008 W Sanetta St) I've changed the wards I cover. Now I work with the 1st and 36th wards, so I've worked in 7 out of the 9 wards in the North Stake. We've got great ward leaders that are excited to be working with us. It's getting pretty crazy with these smaller areas. Another couple transfers and we'll be getting down to one-ward areas. 

In my last area there was a pumpkinman(a snowman-type thing but made with pumpkins), and it reminded me of the Dragon books from when I was younger. I also got crazy/lazy trying to eat that watermelon. I didn't feel like pulling out any other utensils, so I ate the watermelon off of the knife. It was pretty sharp, but I came out unharmed minus an upset stomach because the watermelon had gone bad-ish.

Last week's district meeting was about developing Christ-like attributes. Two scriptures stuck out to me as we were discussing that topic. Matthew 16:24 and Alma 38:12. Several different verses in the New Testament tell us to "take up the cross", but it never really explains what it means. That why I'm really glad there is a JST addition to Matt 16:24. "And now for a man to take up his cross, is to deny himself all ungodliness, and every worldly lust, and keep my commandments." I'm still working on the application of these two verses, but through the process I'm able to see the importance of what it says in 2 Nephi 28:30. We can't learn everything all at once. We have to learn "line upon line, precept upon precept". Everything won't come at once, but as we take in the little that we do get, it will prepare us to receive more.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week 66: Only 6 more months until General Conference​!

You know you're getting old in the mission when people ask you how long you've been out and you say "about a year" rather than how long you actually have been out to avoid comments like "Oh! You're over the hill and on your way down!" Comments were already starting at 14 months, so I'm going to start saying "about a year" now that I've been out another month. There really isn't a good mission age to be. Anything under 6 months: "Oh boy! You're a greeny!" 6-10 months: "Well you're not a greeny anymore, are you?" 10-13 months: "Well now you're an experienced missionary." 14-20 months: "You're over the hill!" 21-24 months: "You're already on the plane, aren't you?" Such is the life of a missionary.

I went back and reread some old emails I sent home from a year ago. They looked a lot longer. Plus they talked about things more relevant to missionary work and attributes. I'll see what I can do to get back to that.

This upcoming weekend is transfers. I don't want to assume anything, but I'm probably going to get moved out of here. That means next week I'll be sending out a new address to replace the 3800 W Sanetta...probably. Maybe because I'm emailing this I'll be sticking around. Who knows? Only President Cannon.  

Like I mentioned last week, Tuesday was Dimitri's baptism. It went great. Now we're working on teaching his younger brother, Josh. This here is evidence to me of our individuality. You can't judge anyone based on other people. Dimitri was a deep thinker. It took him a while to make the decision to be baptized. Josh is moving along a lot faster. Differences in the individual prepare them to face different things at different times. It's not a bad thing. It's in fact a good thing. It'll help us come together later on.

General Conference was great. I've really enjoyed General Conference on the mission. This time we watched it at the church in case anybody came to watch it. Nobody did, but that left us with a quiet and peaceful environment to listen to the speakers and the spirit. For me personally, I felt faith, hope, and charity emphasized. I guess it's time to go back to the basis. My two favorite talks were President Monson's Sunday morning address and President Uchtdorf's priesthood session talk. I'm going to have to reread all of it several times. I barely scratched the surface of what I need to learn from this conference. Watching President Monson is always fun. He talked about home teaching during priesthood session. He rolled his eyes a couple times sharing not as good home teaching experiences. One time, President Hinkley's home teachers dropped by while he was there with President Monson and and President Kimball(back before any of them actually had the President title I believe). Then he told about Marion G Romney's home teachers stopping by for a second just so that they could report that they did their home teaching. Oh to be a general authorities home teacher...That would be rough.

Until next week!

Week 65: The best I had to offer, I don't actually have to offer...bu​t actually..​.

With yesterday being a fifth Sunday, we had a combined third hour class that we went to. President Mansfield of the Stake Presidency was there. He shared a training based on what he learned at Philmont. I couldn't find the video...I wanted to share it...So I looked again and found it! https://www.lds.org/callings/aaronic-priesthood/video-gallery?lang=eng#bsa-duty-to-god
It's a combination of quotes from different awesome people: President Monson, John Wayne, and Lord Baden-Powell.

Tomorrow night we'll have a baptism for a 13 year-old boy we've been teaching. He's pretty cool. Dimitri has been thinking really hard to the point of overthinking. He's making all the decisions on his own, so good for him!

Last night we visited with some members who have two kids out on missions. Both left in July, and it was their son's birthday. He couldn't attend, so we took his place. His mom made a delicious brownie cake thing. 

There's been a pretty consistent drizzle going for the past week or so. It's nice because we can still work in it.

Transfers are in two weeks. General Conference is this weekend. Next week's email should be good. 

Week 64: Ode to a missionary

As a missionary
one can be quite extraordinary.
It can be as hard as trying to write an ode
It doesn't always come with an easy load.
The things you learn
tend to help you grow.
A person touched becomes a new friend.
The reward you earn
isn't your purpose though.
Bringing others to Christ is your end.

This was one of those slow weeks, so I thought I'd bust out a little rhyme to give you something to think about. 

We had Stake Conference yesterday. I saw http://www.lds.org/media-library/video/2013-06-1031-ill-go-where-you-want-me-to-go?lang=eng that video for the umpteenth time, so I thought I'd share it with those of you who might not have seen it yet. Make doing good a regular part of your life. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Week 63:Autumn is falling upon us

Happy two days late birthday to the temple. Happy two days late birthday to the temple. Happy two days late birthday to the Redlands temple. Happy two days late birthday to the temple. The Redlands Temple was 10 years old two days ago. That is weird to think about. I don't remember it super well, but I have some memories of when that used to be an orange grove next to the stake center. We'd always get in trouble for going and playing in it after cub scout activities.

That's 10 years ago though. Back to the here and now, things are going alright. This past week was equally slow and fast. Elder Jones was sick, so he spent a lot of the weekend sleeping. He's feeling a lot better now, but he was out of it for a while there. Friday he was up for studies in the morning and dinner in the evening.

Elder W Craig Zwick of the Seventy visited this last week. He strongly emphasized making daily improvements and doing our best to endure to the end. I think one of my favorite parts of these visits has been the chance to see general authorities(higher up church leaders) in a more relaxed atmosphere. Somehow it makes them more real when they say things like "Elder Perry and I would walk down the streets of [some city in Germany] to get to the office where we were working. He never failed to stop and talk to someone along the way" "Some nights we see President Monson leaving the office building, but he won't be heading home. He'll be heading in the opposite direction to visit the cancer center or the university hospital."

He also shared some interesting factual information about Preach My Gospel. He share that it was started in 1995 after President Hinckley was first sustained as President of the church. It took 9 years before it was released. In that time, the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles remained the same despite the poor health of many of the apostles. It was only after its completion that any of those members who started working on it passed away. Elder Maxwell was the first about two months after its publication. Most of chapter 6 "Christlike Attributes" was written by him.

We had another crazy hailstorm(that's two more than last year!) that kept us at our dinner appointment most of Saturday night. I'd be living it up in these storms if I weren't so busy wearing suits and ties trying to get places!

Monday, September 9, 2013

WeeK 62:I had a clever title for this weeks email, but I forgot what it was.

This was a ...what adjective to use to describe the week...week. It wasn't bad. It wasn't super exciting. It was one of those regular weeks. The weather was the most exciting part.

The weather cooled down a lot this week. The air tasted like Autumn. It reminded me of being in Meridian a year ago, biking through neighborhoods in cooler weather. Supposedly it'll warm back up for a little while, but Fall is on it's way. We got a little bit of rain Tuesday with a reprieve Wednesday before a crazy storm Thursday. Thursday we got a midwest-like thunderstorm. There was wind, rain, hail, and lightning. Several smaller trees got knocked over. The streets flooded. What did this do for the missionary work? We happened to be in the house when the storm hit, so we waited it out. A member drove us around for the rest of the night. 

We spent most of the next day helping clean up after the storm. It didn't look nearly as bad the next day with the sun out. It was a great day to be outside doing service. 

Saturday was a day for mourning. We attended the funeral of a 10 month old child. It was disheartening to see someone so young lay there without life. I had a quote pop up into my mind that felt fit in my own mind. I can't remember it's origin, but it says "Don't pity the dead. Pity the living." There is some truth in this. I am grateful for the gospel knowledge I have gained over they years that ease the pain at times of death. Those who die may go on to "a state of rest, a state of peace, where they shall rest from all their troubles and from all care, and sorrow." Death is not the end. After death comes this temporary state of rest; following this spiritual rest, our spirits will be rejoined with our bodies to have the opportunity to be with our family in eternal joy. This I know to be true.

Week 61:Revenge of the everything

This week the world fought back in Idaho. There were two victories, two ties, and one loss.

Victory #1: Return of Meridian. Did you know that "Return of the Jedi" was originally going to be "Revenge of the Jedi". Whoever is in charge of making titles decided that didn't sound very Jedi-like, so it got changed. The victories are going to be similar because they aren't evil. Anyway, Return of Meridian! Meridian can't actually return...it didn't go anywhere. However, people from Meridian can definitely drive out to Nampa where us missionaries are! Shout out to the Ham(ast)ers! Good old Meridian members drove out for a visit which rocked.

Victory #2(which actually came first and is better in a spiritual sense than victory #1 but was numbered '2' because ...well I don't know why): Return of/to Boise. This week I got to go to the temple back in Boise. That was an awesome experience. I love the temple. Even a fly in the waiting room couldn't ruin the peace found within those walls. If you haven't been to the temple recently, go back! If you can't go to the temple for whatever reason, convert so that you can go to feel the peace inside!

Tie #1: Revenge of the zucchini. Last night we were eating a delicious chicken dinner.(winner winner?  Yup, that was us.) They left dessert sitting on the stove so that we could see eat all dinner long. They said it was actually a healthy dessert. It definitely looked like chocolate. It had a secret ingredient. Somehow I knew what it was even before they brought it closer. I don't quite understand zucchini. Everyone says it is super nasty when you eat it on it's own. It grows super easily. It grows really big. One vine grows more than any family could eat. All you do is mash it up and stick it into other things to make them "healthy". 

Tie #2: Revenge of the transfer. Transfer calls came Friday night. Elder Jones and I are staying together. Hopefully we get more done this transfer now that we know the area. With the new transfer comes a new address!(The 1008 W Sanetta St is stilll good.)
Elder Soren Mann
3800 Brenan Drive
Nampa, ID 83686

Loss #1: Revenge of the mosquitoes. When I think of mosquitoes and bugs, I generally think of those poor souls in the central and south American missions. Well...somehow they made it up here to Idaho. I've got 8 bites below the knee on my left leg, 5 on my right, 2 on my left elbow, and 1 on my left....I'll leave it at that...

Week 60:Get to keep moving

Well hello there! Welcome back to the (exciting/whatever other adjective you might see fit to put here) world of Elder Mann. In this weeks addition: Chaniel's baptism, moving, possibly moving, leaving the mission, and that's all I can think of.

Back when I was in Meridian North with Elder Cavin, we were told about an individual with interest in the church who needed to be taught. Her name was Chaniel! This happened waaaaaayyyyy back in early June if memory serves me right. We got through teaching her all of the lessons while I was with Elder Larsen, but the timing was off. She didn't get baptized while I was still there. I was able to travel the 5 miles back to the Nampa North Stake Center and attend her baptism Saturday. That was a pretty cool experience for me. It brought back fond memories of the distant 5 weeks ago. 

This transfer, we had been living with a second companionship in a tiny add on to a member's house. Only two of us had beds; the other two slept on a cot or the couch. Space was tight, and somebody needed to leave, so we did. Another family that actually lives in one of our wards opened up there home to us. Missionaries had never lived there before. It's still super clean, shiny, and smells good. It's great to have such kind members share so much with us.

That means the 520 Railroad Ct address isn't good anymore! I was going to say that anyways though because this Saturday we'll get transfer calls, so I could be moving out of this new place next Monday. It's not super likely, but it's possible. I'll be sure to give an updated address next week one way or another.

Wednesday I get to leave the mission. I'm holding President Cannon hostage and forcing him to drive me out of here. No? That doesn't work? I guess that's ok. He's taking a group of us who are around our year mark to the temple to celebrate the anniversary since we can't regularly go anymore. (10am session if anybody in the Boise area wants to see a friendly face. hahaha) It should be awesome!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Week 59: A special zone conference

Last week when I mentioned zone conference, I didn't think it was going to be quite as special as it turned out to be. It was President Cannon's first. He did a great job teaching us about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It's basic, and everybody should have it. Faith will give you something to reach for. Repentance will prepare us to enter the path. Baptism puts us on the path. The Holy Ghost will keep us on the path. Enduring to the end is the battle to make it as long as we can.

At the end of each zone conference, the mission president has all of the missionaries that are departing before the next zone conference share their testimony(their trunkimony). My old companion, Elder Barnes gave his. It was a tender moment. I've found unity to be a very important trait of any group that is going to succeed. I'm learning that. Elder Barnes was able to express how he lives it.

At the end of the trunkimony meeting, President Cannon shared a special treat. He gave each of us a movie ticket, and the three zones went to the dollar theatre to watch Ephraim's Rescue. That was a great movie. It's kind of a sequel-ish thing to 17 Miracles. I say sequel because it is actually a story that happens at the same time from a different point of view done by the same director. If you've seen and liked 17 Miracles, I definitely suggest this one.

There were a few different service projects that happened this week as well. We spent 5 hours splitting and stacking wood. We spent 3 hours cleaning up someone's lawn. In this case, we doesn't actually include me. We is my companion and another missionary, while I was inside cooking with a different missionary. It was quite the cooking experience. This guy was a flavor master. He'd ask us to test the food. He'd tell us that something was missing, add it, and then have us retaste it. Somehow it tasted better each time.

Saturday we got to take the roof off of a house. That was also a pretty cool experience. I've learned quite a bit about demolition as a young adult. I'm pretty sure I could safely disassemble and mostly reassemble houses now. I know roofing. I know plumbing. I know sheet-rock and insulation.

Earlier today we went caving. Those caves are pretty dusty. It's still fun to go on PDay adventures, but it's also important to make sure everything important like emailing home happens too. Peace be the journey!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 58:Some more exciting emails are on their way

Well hi there! Sorry about missing you last week. We did some Pday exchanges so that some of us could go hiking while others that didn't want to could do whatever else they wanted to do. The hiking group ended up only having a little bit of time to email. It's a lame excuse, I know. On my side, I feel like no email is better than a short one that just says I'm alive.

Last Monday marked 13 months. I've now been out for more months than I have left. Another month and I'll be down to counting time on my fingers. I don't think about myself being an older missionary, and really I'm not. I'm old in some ways because there are only 15ish missionaries that have been out longer than me out of our 90ish missionaries. 2 1/2 transfers from now, all of my mentors will be dead. Then I'll have to start being that example-old guy person.

The hike I got to go on last week was fun. We hiked to a waterfall. It's weird how there are random creeks everywhere. We didn't have as much water down in Socal, so this is still new to me. I guess it helps being as close to a river that actually has water in it as we are.

With the mission split, we can't go to the temple regularly since it's out of our misison. Now, we can only go for our half way anniversary. Luckily, mine was after the split, so I'll get to go with the next group when they do at the end of August.

Tomorrow is our first zone conference. What'll happen? No idea.

Plus, our backpacks are outdated. We can't use backpacks after tomorrow in accordance with new mission policty. We have to use "shoulder bags". That'll be fun. What to do with my backpack now...

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Week 56:A little tired after a long walk

So....I'm in a biking area again. Elder Jones doesn't have a bike yet, so we're walking. Today we got to walk all the way to the family history center. I don't feel as impressive anymore. I mapped it out, and it was only a 3 mile walk...I'm still pretty tired though...

The area seems good. The members(or at least the leaders) are excited to do missionary work. Elder Jones got to speak on his first Sunday. He's from Grants, New Mexico which is near the 4 corners area.

We had two baptisms Saturday. The first was in my old area Nampa North. I didn't get a picture there because Robert was camera shy. I was able to perform the baptismal ordinance for the first time. Later on in the night there was a baptism in our new area. We never got to teach her though because she had already been taught, and the old missionaries came back to witness the baptism.

It's supposed to be cooler this week. We'll see if it actually happens.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Week 55(Part2): The cycle of life continues

Well, I tried to get the official picture taken back at the beginning. Unfortunately, the missionary I handed my camera too wasn't paying attention. As such, you get a picture taken right before I started this email.

Today a year ago(the 24th of July 2012) was the day I left the MTC a year ago. Today a year ago(the 4th Wednesday of July 2012) I was assigned to my trainer Elder Jones. Today, Elder Jones was assigned to be trained by me.

This here is Elder Cooper Jones. He comes from New Mexico. He graduated just 2 months ago from high school, so he's one of the new young'ns. Cooler than that though, is he is one of the original group to receive a call to the Idaho Nampa Mission. He knows nothing of Boise and won't aside from getting to go to the temple on his year mark.

Everything is going well so far! We've got some missionaries staying at our house while they try to figure out where they are living. With all of the new missionaries, it's hard to come by housing as areas are split. Life's good!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 55:A new transfer, a new area, and a new missionary

Transfer calls came Saturday. I found out that I'm getting moved. It's a really big one too. I'm traveling 5 miles away to the Nampa East Stake. This area boarders the Nampa North area I was in. The new address for those who might feel inclined to write a letter is
Elder Soren Mann
520 S Railroad Court
Nampa, ID 83687

I'm training a new missionary as well, so I'll be sending a picture with another email Wednesday. I'll get to train one of the first Idaho Nampa Missionaries. Yay!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Week 54: An uncreative title for an uncreative email

don't even think uncreative is a word. It's got a red squiggly line under it telling me that it isn't a word, but at the same time it only offers "creative" as an alternative.

This weekend Elder Larsen and I participated in the baptism of Hayden. It was pretty sweet. We started teaching him at the beginning of the transfer. He's pretty smart for a kid. He understood everything. I found it pretty crazy that he'd already been drinking coffee! His mom started him when he was young I guess. haha I just think of coffee as an older/teenager drink, but here is this kid who was drinking coffee.

We also got to go to the new mission office. The last one was attached to a church building. This one is actually an office in an office building. Some of the missionaries have said it feels like visiting a medical clinic. Once they said that, I kind of did get that vibe. I took a picture in front of the old sign, so I 'needed' to take one in front of the new sign too.

This weekend we'll get transfer calls. We're not sure what's going to happen, but we're almost positive one of us will be leaving. If I stay again, that'll be the 3rd companion I've kicked out of here. If Elder Larsen stays, my "established pattern" of being in an area for 3 transfers is still established and becomes more of a pattern because it'll have actually happened 3 times.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Week 53:The things you learn from working in the field

Hello! Not much time to email, but we'll see if I can get everything I need to out!
4th of July rocked! We got to go to a pancake breakfast and flag ceremony. It felt like being back at home(Especially considering I was wearing a suit and tie last year after having been set apart as a missionary the night before.) They rest of the day was pretty relaxing. Nampa did their firework show the night before at a "God and Country" rally. There were still a lot of fireworks on the 4th because they aren't illegal. Every other house was having a personal firework show....but it wasn't so personal because everyone could see it.
The 5th of July marked one year as an official missionary with a name badge! That was a sweet day too! We had interviews with President Cannon in the morning. It was like a year ago when I was first introducing myself to the other President Cannon, but 3 weeks early because of the MTC time last year.
In the afternoon, Elder Larsen and I got to do gardening service. I did my first harvest. I picked zucchini, cucumber, and squash. Bro Bittick charged me with checking the tomatoes to see if any were ripe. There were 3 rows...I got to army crawl to check the middle row! It was pretty fun. I never knew plants were so prickly though...ouch.
In the evening time, I participated in the great missionary burning tradition. A missionary who had lived in the apartment before left a few white shirts behind. None of them fit us, so I stole one of those to use in "the burning" 1 year down; another year to try(full time) to help as many people as possible.
As I've reflected on the past year, I think I have actually learned a thing or two on my mission. Learning to focus more on the future has been one of the major things I've learned over the year. As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that the years ahead hold a lot of important decisions that will affect me (and my family) for the rest of my life. I used to mourn over not being able to go back to the past. Now, I have a better understanding of the ability I have to change the future by acting now. Actions speak louder than words. They shape us. As we seek to act in a correct manner, it will help make our future brighter and better.
Catch everyone in another year!
Elder SUMann

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Week 52:You know it's warm outside when...

When summer began on the 21st, it was a nice 70* with rain. It jumped up a little bit between then and now. Now it's a scorching 105*, and it has been since Friday. That's actually why this email is late getting out. All of us missionaries were emailing yesterday when the power went out! We think it was a combination of heat and overloading the system, but we're back online now. Everything works out in the end.

This was a good week for us. We found a new investigator along with a few potentials. Right now we're teaching 4 different kids ranging in age from 9 to 12. 3 of the 4 have dates for this month, and we're really enjoying the ease with which we are able to teach them. It's nice when you've got 1 person to focus on, especially one so young and ready to listen. It's sticking better with some than with others, but they'll all get there in the end.

This email also comes with some bad news. I didn't survive my two years in the Idaho Boise Mission. I didn't even make it a year! Am I feeling bad about it? If it weren't for the fact that the mission got split, I would be. I stayed in Nampa, so I am now a part of the Idaho Nampa Mission. An iron curtain fell yesterday between Nampa and Meridian forming the new boarders seen on the attached map. The way I see it, I got off easy. The Boise mission is only 4 towns-well, 4 cities. It's a tiny mission, and I like being able to be transferred more than half an hour from my last area. Maybe if I had started out that way I'd've been ok, but I'm used to big transfers.(both transfers I jumped across the mission)

A new mission president came along with the new mission, President Cannon! Yup, my new mission president has the same name as my last mission president. That makes it easy for us missionaries to remember his name. We met with President Cannon Saturday. He's a sporty guy who used to play basketball and still golfs. His most recent calling was young men's president, so I think he's ready to work with a whole bunch of us young men. I was lucky enough to receive confirmation right away that he is my new priesthood leader at this time. I'll gladly follow his council and wisdom.

There is a new mission office to go along with the new mission. The old address(1111 S Cole Rd) is bad. There's still a mission office there, and for the next little while they'll forward mail. We've got a new office though. To reach me now, send mail to
Elder Soren Mann
Idaho Nampa Mission
1008 W Sanetta St
Nampa, ID 83651-5047
United States(If you happen to be out of country.)

Next week...The year mark!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Week 51: "Seasoned Veterans"

You know you're getting old when you no longer hear comments like "Wow! What a young companionship!" "A greeny!" and other similar comments. With my older companion, Elder Larsen, we're now getting two compliments: "seasoned" or "veterans". E Larsen has been out for 18, and I'm at about 11. That's the oldest companionship I've been a part of. We're at 29 months combined time, whereas with the rest of my companionships we've had totals of 24, 16, 10, 12, 16, and 13.

Somebody let it leak that I had a birthday this past week. I'm now 20. I feel old...but not really because I don't actually feel 20. Time stands still even though it is flying by out here. I feel similarly different to how I felt 11 months ago. Last year I climbed down from the top of a mountain with a few friends. This year I did service in the rain. Aside from a happy birthday from my companion and another missionary who had caught wind, I would have escaped with no notice of my birthday(which would have been ok), but my uncle showed up to drop off cupcakes at the end of the night. They are slowly being eaten so that I can savor it longer. They are awesome. Steve went through the front door of the house though, so the members also found out that it was my birthday. Those decorations are what I came home to the next night.

Last night was the Work of Salvation broadcast. That rocked. Apparently we will be readily available to let people into church buildings now. I'm not sure how that's going to work, but it sounds good to me. Plus, Elder Perry mentioned increased use of technology and digital missionary work. How soon will it be implemented? We're not sure. It might not even be here by the time I am done, but I know they are planning on phasing it in over the next year and a half around the world. It felt like another session of general conference. Every member needs to be a missionary. Tracting is a thing of the past. We need to be united in the work.

Elder Larsen is a pretty great companion. We're having fun, doing work, and having fun doing work. He's from Colorado. He's the youngest of 5 children. All the rest are married, and most have kids. Makes me think of all of my siblings and how we are not like that. Life's good though. Nothing to complain about.

Next time: The new mission president and official split of the missions!
Elder Mann

Monday, June 17, 2013

Week 50:Transfer Day is here again!

It's transfer day! This is a special one though. This transfer day determines which mission you'll be a part of for the rest of your days up here. My companion, Elder Cavin, got shipped off to Argentina, so I get to stay here in Nampa!(1200 Autumn Wind Drive, Nampa, ID 83687)

I saved this email for last unfortunately, so I'm all but out of time. I'm alive. I'm well. I'm getting an elder from Colorado, Elder Larsen. Things are looking great for the summer! More to come next week, but the email to really look forward to is two weeks from now.(and three weeks)

I'll intentionally make this email lame and vague to make the next couple even better.

Have a great week where ever you are!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Week 49:A time for change and a time for things to stay the same

Howdy! This weekend is transfers. I have absolutely no idea what is going to happen. I'm here with Elder Cavin(a visa waiter), so it would make sense for me to stay. Transfers don't always 'make sense' though. With the mission split happening during this next transfer, I think a lot of missionaries will get surprising transfers. At the same time, I also think that a lot of people are already where they need to be. Things will be however they need to be. If a lot of missionaries move, they move. If they don't, they don't.

A year later, I'm finally learning the true secret of one of my ties. My Grandma got me a tie that is discretely blue and orange for BSU. Not everybody makes the connection between the tie and BSU, but everyone that does makes a comment about it. I feel like it is a subliminal message designed to be understood only by true fans of BSU.

I'm approaching my 12 month mark(sort of), so I'm working on rereading my journal. I can see changes in writing style and mood as the months go on. Elder Barnes mentioned that a lot of missionaries will get depressed near there year mark with the thought being "I've got to do another year of what I just did?!". I've got a great advantage: I'm serving at the same time as all of my friends, so we all push each other! None of us are thinking that because we know that a year from now we'll all get to return home and share all of our stories together.

I didn't take my camera out this past week, so there is no picture of the week. The work is going great. We've got a few people who will be ready for baptism near the beginning of July. It's warming up. Air conditioning ROCKS! Catch y'all later.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Week 48: It's June, and the sun is shining

This was a good week. We were able to find some new investigators. We committed a 9 year old to baptism.

Today we had a BBQ/game day over at the church. I got to grill. It kind of worked. Only half of the grill would heat up. This was only my second time grilling burgers. I did hot dogs over a coal grill at the beach last year, but Saturday was my first time grilling burgers. We got to play some frisbee. We played volleyball, and I had a sister spike on me...How did it happen? I don't know. It might have to do with me not actually watching the ball and just throwing my hand up and hoping to hit the ball. I got shunned after that.

Speaking of grilling Saturday, we got to grill on Saturday. 33rd ward was having a bbq and vegetable derby(like a pinewood derby but with vegetable cars). They had us grill so that we would be recognized by the ward. Elder Cavin and I made a fun car. We put back wheels on a banana, stabbed it with a toothpick and added cut up carrot for front wheels, and we called it the banana boat. It was the absolute worst car, but it wasn't supposed to be good. It was supposed to be funny. It was... a little bit.

Wednesday we had new missionary training. That was fun, but the trip back was the best part. We made a stop in Meridian. I somehow ran into these three random people that I took pictures with. One of them is getting ready to go on a mission to California, so I let him wear my nametag and post-it note his name over it to take a missionary picture with me. There were two other people that my mom would call mom and dad. It was a treat that missionaries rarely get, but that's what happens when you've got a cousin that lives in the mission boundaries a town over who's about to go on a mission.

Week 47:An appropriat​e Memorial Day...of sorts

This was an interesting week. I lost my planner. I lost my handbook. I lost the game. Plus, I temporarily misplaced my camera. It was still a good week, and this week has started off right.

Last Thursday and Friday we had leadership training. We all met up in Caldwell to talk about how we could become better leaders. The main topic was listening to the Holy Ghost. The best way to lead is to listen to the third member of the companionship that should always be there. It will tell you where you need to go, what you need to say, and who you need to see. By is tending to theSpirit, you can know what questions you need to ask to increase your ability to help those you ar teaching.

Friday we spent a lot of the time talking about qualities we admires in our leaders. Being a builder seemed to be one of the most important. A leader will build up, not tear down. You will strive to be positive as you give constructive ways to build up those you serve.

A member from Meridian West invited us back over for a Memorial Day BBQ. I hadn't really been to Meridian since my time there back in November. The trip was awesome! We got to play washers and relax in a fun way with some of my favorite people. Part way through we got a call from the first guy I taught that got baptized, so we ran down to his house to see him and his family. I can't tell you how great it was to see them again! Nothing gives a missionary more joy than seeing someone they were able to teach in the future still going strong. I also found my camera in the zone leaders car after already looking where we found it three or four times. This has been a fantastic Pday!

This week's picture of the week is a fun one. We took this a few weeks back at a ward party. The plan was to put it on posters that would say "meet your missionaries" and give a little bio about each of us, but we found out recently that the wards we cover will change next transfer, so there isn't much point in putting the posters up when we won't be the missionaries they need to knowin about 3 weeks. It's still a good picture though!

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Week 46: A New Title

I've officially earned myself a new title: "Elder Mann, Slayer of Trees" I've done the dirty deed once again. I've killed another. Am I proud of my dealings with death? No, but it is a work that somebody has to do. This time the tree who met its match was a nut tree of some kind. It was not producing what it should have, so it needed to be eliminated. This time a more methodical method was used. I was told to "girdle the tree". That meant I cut the bark off of a section of the tree, and then cut a ring to block stuff from going back down to the roots. However you look at it, the tree is dead soon. At that same service project, I was able to claim the title of true Idahoan. How so? Well, I worked in a potato field. I think that is a requirement if you are to call yourself an Idahoan of any level.

A week and a half ago I filled my first journal. Every page is written on from front to back. I wanted to try and get a picture of it, but I haven't figured out a good way to do it yet. The first 20 pages or so make up my first year at college. The other A LOT are my mission from July to May. I didn't write much at college. I wish I had.

This was one of those fun weeks where we tried to see a lot of people, but nobody wanted to see us. We tried stopping by a list of less actives we'd been given, but only one of fifteen talked to us more than to say they didn't want to talk to us. The important thing we try to keep in mind is to not get discouraged. Discouragement is a weakening of faith, and that will limit our ability as missionaries.

The picture of the week comes from an exaggerated version of an object lesson we use called '3 cups and 3 knives' The idea is to create a structure that will suspend something above the ground using the 3 cups and knives without moving the cups closer together than where they are placed.(They're placed with enough space that the knives all lay flat on the surface with one knife placed between two of the three cups...terrible explanation...) Anywho, the important part is what it stands for. The 3 cups represent 3 commandments(scripture study, prayer, and sabbath observance). The knives represent obedience. The something on top represents us. As we are obedient to the commandments, we are held above the world through the blessings we receive.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Week 45: A message for the world

That's what I'm out here sharing: a message for the world. What is that message? Jesus Christ lives, and we can follow him. Isn't that cool? I think so.
Here's a quick some up of the past 2 weeks since I don't know who all knows what.
May 3 An unexpected call brought excitement to our night. We got transfer calls at the end of the night. I'm still here in Nampa(1200 Autumn Wind Drive Nampa, ID 83687...in case you were wondering), but Elder Smith is gone to New Plymouth. Who's my new comp? More on that later.
May 4 We had a baptism. Chris Sandoval is an interesting guy. He got divorced. His life fell apart. He was missing structure. That's when he saw that his ex-wife had found that structure in the church. He wanted that same peace that she had found, so Chris got ahold of us at the beginning of last transfer. After a month-ish of working with him, he got baptized by his ex-wife's husband. Weird, huh?
May 5 I became 10 months old. Nothing really big or exciting happened. Elder Smith needed to pack, and I needed to do a little bit of packing and cleaning in prep for the upcoming adventure.
May 6-8 I drove down to Boise...Monday, I rode down to Boise while somebody else was driving to participate in a training meeting for those who would be getting missionaries fresh out of the MTC. Tuesday, we got together with the new missionaries and did a proselyting activity. What's that mean? We knocked a bunch of doors with the new missionaries so that they could get introduced to the real world. I actually had a lot of success with Elder McKenzie! We had four people invite us back and only one yell at us to go away. Wednesday, I got my new companion, Elder Cavin! He's from South Jordan, UT. Not far from home? That's because he's here waiting on a visa to go down to Argentina Cordoba. We got right to work Wednesday night, and haven't had much time to take a breather since.
May 10 Zone Conference was today. They really emphasized the hastening of the work. There are a lot more missionaries. Another few months and the mission will be split into 3. We need to be ready to do a lot more work in all new ways. No more tracting. Working a lot more with members. Stuff like that.
May 12 Mother's day! I got to call home and talk to family. That was fun. I went a little bit long, but that's okay in the grand scheme of things.(Elder Cavin went long too, and he just talked to his family on the phone last week at the airport). I played Parcheesi for the first time while E Cavin was talking to his family. Fun times.
That's the exciting news from here in Nampa this week! We'll see if we stay as busy this week as we did last week!
Elder Mann

Week 44: The new arrival

We're still alive! We've survived the first 24 hours. This is Elder Cavin. He's from South Jordan, Utah, and I have the pleasure of serving with him until his visa to Argentina Cordoba comes in. Apparently, with all the new missionaries, visas are a lot harder to come by. He told me that there were 160 other missionaries getting ready to go to Argentina at the same time as him that all got reassigned to stateside missions waiting for their visas. He went to school in Utah at UVU before coming out. He's a cool elder and a great teacher for only having 6 weeks of training with it all being in Spanish.
I just got another fun assignment: District Leader. That means I'm in charge of planning and conducting the district meeting we have once a week with the other four sets of elders in the district. I also get to plan a trip to the temple as well as exchanges. Today I got to take charge of my first district meeting. Elder Barnes(one of the zone leaders who used to be my companion) told me I did well. I'll take it.
I get to call home on Sunday! Yay! That'll be fun. Now David isn't home, so I won't get to talk to him...I better get an email this week...haha More fun adventures from this week to come in Monday's email!

Monday, April 29, 2013

Week 43: A friend I want you to meet

I am pretty excited to send this weeks email. We started off today
with a hike, so I'm emailing later on. Luckily that doesn't make too
much difference. I can tell you that I made it back safely from the
hike. It was fun. It reminded me of Crafton Hills because of the way
it looked. This look familiar to anyone? It's me taking a picture of
the rest of the people hiking "with me". Yeah, that's them back a
little ways. I still hike like myself, not caring too much where the
others are.(don't worry, I make sure Elder Smith is within sight and
sound) That's not the exciting part though.

Friday, we had district meeting at the family history center. We got
to learn under the tutelage of the family history workers. What I did
not realize, was the abiity to access other genealogical websites that
require memberships from the family history centers because they have
memberships. I gave ancestry.com a try to see what they had. I
discovered something VERY exciting...for at least me personally. I
found a picture of  Soren Nielsen(the guy I'm named after)! I feel
okay sharing the picture because...I'm named after him and they got
the picturefromUncle Ross. Say hi to Soren! Soren being a part of the
Danish navy before moving to Utah was all I knew about him before. Now
I have a faceto go along with the story! Plus, I found out that he
worked as a brakeman for the railroad after moving to Utah. I'm not
sure what a brakeman is, but I am happy to know more! I learned a
little bit more about myself this week.

We've got a baptism lined up for this weekend. More updates on that
next week. I've got a few other emails to reply to, so I'll let you go
now!(my sister got engaged!) You got two pictures, so no need for a
picture of the week this week! Buhbye!

Monday, April 22, 2013

Week 42: Where is the focus?

Most of the time, people have motives behind their actions. Sometimes they're good motives; other times they're not so good. Unless you're the Joker(trying to watch the world burn), there is some goal or other object you are trying to reach when you act. What is that goal for you? Mine outlook/focus changed a little this week. That's what happens when you have wisdom vs knowledge.
 
We got to go to the temple this week. That was amazing. It's so peaceful inside. You can learn and grow in new ways each time just like when you reread the scriptures. What was the focus from this trip? To become more unfocused. I don't use my right eye very much because it's not very good. Not to say I close it and ignore it's presence(because I can't actually do that), but I don't use actively use it. Now, I'm starting to do that. With my good eye, I tend to see something and recognize it at face value. That book is a book. That person is a person. I take in facts and data. The cover of the book is green. That is a very tall person. That's where my right eye comes into play. The main things I see with my left eye become unfocused and not as important when I look through my right eye. It gives me a chance to think about thing individually and create more of a personality rather than a statistic/information hub. We've been told as missionaries to 'picture people in white'. I had a hard time doing that because I honed in too much on the unimportant details. Now I've given myself a better opportunity to focus on people in white by unfocusing my vision. That's what you've got to do sometimes. Unfocus to allow yourself to ponder on what you really need to focus on. 
 
We had stake conference this weekend. It was family focused. It felt like an extention of general conference. There was a special broadcast that took up most of the Sunday session. Elder Marcus D Nash, Sister Linda K Burton, President Russel T Osguthorpe, and Elder Robert D Hales spoke to the greater western Idaho region. They emphasized praying to get assistance in strengthening the family as well a making sure that Jesus Christ is a part of the family.
 
Picture of the week: This is the apartment. I hadn't taken any pictures this week, so I took a picture of the apartment showing you how we live. It's a decent place.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Week 41:Keeping journals for a reason

Sometimes, it can be fun to go back and reread journal entries. I made a note about how the word 'week' should be changed to 'work' because we were so busy. It's no longer a 'weekday' but a 'workday', and there are no longer 'weekends'-just more 'workdays'.
 
I've found that when people decide to start asking you church history questions out of the blue, it generally means they have a piece of church history. Such was the case Thursday night at dinner. We were waiting for the food to finish cooking, so Bro Nelson(the man of the house) asked us what we knew about where the Book of Mormon was first published(New York), how many were made(5000), who funded it(Martin Harris), and how many copies people think are left(the church has about 250[no, I didn't miss a 0. That is supposed to be 250.] and about the same are known to be in private hands). After dinner, he showed us what can be seen in the first picture. That is one of the 5000 first print editions of The Book of Mormon. It was awesome to see that piece of history. It is good to know that our heavenly Father is so unchanging. His law remains the same today as it was yesterday and as it will be tomorrow.
 
Last week we moved a ton and a half of bricks. This week we moved buckets of rock and a lot of potted plants. This sister is intent on moving her entire garden over to her new home just down the street. My companion tells me they were just regular rocks, but from what I saw, it looked like they were gathered specifically for making a retaining wall for a raised bed garden. Every service opportunity is a good opportunity to serve.
 
I thought I had left the wind in Windell-I mean-Wendell, but apparently some of it just liked me too much. It hasn't been as consistently super windy, but there are days where it will shake our apartment. The land is more densely populated over here, so the wind makes more of a ruckus when it goes through the trees. Plus, suitcoat season is over. The wind has more of a bite when you don't have to wear a suitcoat. I don't have room to complain though. I'm still in a car, and there are a lot of elders all around me on bikes. Being a biking elder was fun, and I'm sure the time will come when it will be my turn again.
 
There is lots of exciting service already lined up for this week with people moving in and out. I'm going to try not to break anything because that is always a bad idea when you are moving someone else.
 
The Picture of the Week: Last PDay, I went hiking with some other elders from one of my last areas(because I've had so many areas[3]). We got dropped off by a member, so we didn't have a ride back when we got all done hiking. The 5 of us walked back into town from the hill we hiked and passed by a house with random deer in the lawn. That was cool enough that we all stopped to take pictures. It was reminiscent of freshman orientation when they told us not to call the police if we saw deer on campus because that happens some of the time. Deer! 


Monday, April 8, 2013

Week 40:A wonderful weekend to tune in

Wow! General Conference! That was some great stuff! That was some amazingly simple and yet profound stuff! Nobody spoke in riddles. Everyone spoke straight. I even caught a theme this time around(at least for myself)! To give a super summary for the entire 10 hours, what I got out was "Strengthen your testimony. Strengthen your family members' testimonies. Strengthen your friends' and neighbors' testimonies." Trying to run through everything in my head while typing this, I can't remember any talks specifically on testimony, but everyone mentioned ways we can strengthen people spiritually. Spiritual strength comes from testimony. As we strengthen our testimonies, we will have more spiritual strength. The two coincide. You cannot be as spiritually strong if you have a weaker testimony.
"We must build our foundations on good ground like the temples. That good ground will always be found in the light. Once we have found that ground we must not give it up. We must not give an inch to the adversary. We keep ourselves away from the adversary as we draw near unto the Savior, allowing him to draw near unto us. We draw near by being obedient. Through this obedience we find greater peace and joy. 
After the seed is planted in ourselves, we must give it room to grow. As it grows, roots and branches will sprout out. These branches can bear fruit if we keep ourselves spiritually fed. The fruit can be a happier sibling, a more confident child, a more understanding friend, or an enlightened neighbor.
It's our responsibility-once we've gained our sure footing and grown-to help others to find their ground to grow on. We must catch the wave of missionary work and ride it until the end of our days. There will always be somebody that we are able to teach some gospel truth to." 
(That's all one giant indirect quote of sorts. Take it as you will. I'm sure you each were able to get what you needed to out of Conference. If not, here's your chance to catch a glimpse of what I got. If for some reason you didn't watch it, let me know so that I can scold you and continue emailing you until you do watch it.)
 
General Conference was my entire weekend. It was exciting and invigorating. The rest of the week also went well.
 
Friday we had a zone training where we learned how to better incorporate the Book of Mormon into our teaching. It is "another testament of Jesus Christ" giving it power to convert. As we read and study it(and help others to do the same) we will receive answers to questions and needed comfort. After that, we literally moved a ton(actually a ton and a half) of bricks. A sister was moving and wanted to take her walkway with her, so we got to pull up the brick path and cart it over to her new house down the street.
 
I've just had a brilliant idea! I'll do a picture of the week at the end of each email. That way you can get a little insight into the missionary world.
Today's picture: something for those creative types. I got these little missionary bunnies back in Gooding from a great family with a son who recently left for his mission in England! Ahhh, aren't they cute?

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Week 39: Greetings from Nampa!

Hello from Nampa, Idaho and Happy belated Easter!
 
Well, last Monday was transfer day. I left small town Wendell(which I am missing already) for biggish Nampa. I was in "the van" from 11 to 2. From 2 to 4, I was in a car because there wasn't room in the van. I was the small guy in the car, so I got the back middle seat...it was a looooooong 2 hours. Then I got to ride in a truck for about another hour to get to my final destination of Nampa. The driving from 11 to 2 was in the wrong direction though. It doesn't actually take that long to get from Twin Falls to Nampa, but with multiple stops to fill up gas, drop off missionaries, and get food for those who had been driving the cars, it added up to all day. That's why there wasn't an email. I've got a new address to go with the new area!
 
Elder Soren Mann
1200 Autumn Wind Drive
Nampa, ID 83687
(The Boise address is still good for now, but there will be a new mission office address if I am still in Nampa when July rolls around)
 
Nampa's been fun though. I've got Elder Joshua Smith from New Hampshire as a companion. He was a salesman before the mission, so he knows how to talk. He's only been here 5 weeks because of the shortened transfer(28 missionaries came in last week!), so we rely a lot on the gps. We cover 4 wards around northeastern Nampa.(This area actually boarders my first area in Meridian. Also somewhat funny: Despite the closeness of the areas, that is where the mission boarder will be when the Boise mission is split in July.) At some point, I wrote down an address and a name. I had no recollection of writing it down, but we put it into the gps. The street existed so we went to find this mysterious person. What we found is the picture attached. That was the entirety of the street...Needless to say, we're still looking for that person.
 
It's warming up a lot. Days are staying above 70 but it feels like 80 or 90 because of how cold it was. Suitcoat season ends tomorrow. We will no longer have to wear our full suits until next General Conference aside from district and zone meetings where they are required.
 
With it being April Fool's Day, I'm sure some missionaries are sending home great stories of trouble and turmoil. I thought about it. I almost took pictures to fake it and add some points, but I didn't. I thought that I'd instead reminisce on the fact that it was a year ago today that I made my mission assignment known to the social media world. I got my call the 29th or 30th of March, but blahdeeblah and blah. I didn't announce it to the world until the 1st. Only one person questioned the validity of my call, but here I am 1 year later! I'll have been out 9 months this Friday.
 
To those taking finals or preparing for them, Good luck! You'll rock their socks off!
 
Elder Mann

Monday, March 18, 2013

Week 37:Well isn't that a little funny?

I say that, but do I really mean it? I think so. I gave myself a few chuckles this week. Is it funny to the rest of the world? We'll find out.
I failed to bring up a service project from two weeks ago in last week's email. Why would I want to bring it up? I don't know. I like talking about service projects. This one was pretty fun. We were moving firewood onto the porch for Sister Casperson who can't do it herself. We did it the fun way though. The four of us elders formed a fireman's line and chucked the wood at each other until the last person(me) got it onto the porch. I wish I had had my camera with me on that occasion. It was a humorous sight. What made it all the better for me? I didn't have gloves! I had wood flying at me just as fast as I could throw it away, and I had no protection for my hands. How many slivers did I walk away with after handling more than 100 pieces of wood? Just 1! Miracle? I think so.
Another reason I've got to laugh is a speaking assignment we got yesterday. After sacrament meeting, we were pulled aside by one of the branch president's counselors. He told us the branch president wanted to talk to us. We went into his office and had a word with him. He wants us to speak in sacrament meeting next week. Why is this a reason to laugh? It's the deaf branch. Initially I was kind of glad to have another speaking assignments. Every now and then it is good to get up and share from the pulpit. As I sat pondering what I should talk on last night, "I had an apostrophe. Lightning had struck my mind"(Hook. Anyone? Anyone? Ok...) Is it oxymoronic to speak in a deaf branch? That's when I chuckled. Admittedly, the branch is attached to a ward, so there will be those who understand my words and those who might have to watch the interpreter.
I was slow to catch on to it being St Patrick's Day yesterday. I walked into church, and an awful lot of people were wearing green ties. I just figured it was a sign of unity for the almost missionary who was giving his farewell talk. Nope. It was St Patrick's Day. I kept track of when it was all the up to the day before...I must be getting oldtimer-I mean-alzheimers.
Like I think I said last week, we've come across several less active parents with unbaptized children. If I failed to mention that, now you know. If I did, the trend continues! We have started teaching another two families where some are members of the church and others are not.
I've got one more story from yesterday. After that mission farewell, we got to go up to our mountain town, Fairfield. It's not too big of a town, but it's still big enough that you can not know how to get from point A to point B if you aren't there regularly as is the case with us. Elder Shumway had never been there before, so he was driving completely on my directions(which are usually pretty decent). My memory failed me for the second time. We were driving on the main road that goes through town and made it to the opposite end without turning like we were supposed to. I looked around to find a marker that would point me in the right direction. What did I find? The church's steeple. Keeping my sight high and looking ahead for a goal to reach helped us make it to the church. I didn't see my goal when we were driving through the first time because things(buildings) were getting in the way. We can't let objects get in the way of us reaching our goal. Luckily hindsight is 20/20. I was able to see the goal once I had gone beyond the point of reaching it. There are times where we don't get a second chance, but when there are chances to turn around and achieve what we want, we need to take that opportunity.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week 36: Time keeps rolling along

Times they are a-changing and a-flying. We had a zone meeting this week(hence the picture with all of the missionaries), and we were told of another change in mission policy. Missionaries are now allowed to email anyone and to receive emails from anyone.(I've even got a copy of the letter from the mission department to prove it if you don't believe me.) This'll make keeping in touch with whoever a lot easier, don't you think? Letters are still great though! Hand written letters beat an email any day of the week! I'll keep writing letters, so you shouldn't either(when the occasion arises that you can write a letter). I've got the same Wendell address(3134 S. 1900 E.) for at least 2 weeks. That's when transfers come up again.
A lot of fun other things happened this week. I talk about time flying for a few reasons. Stateside Mission Problem #1230981048 is one of the examples of making time fly: having to wax a car. Elder King and I finished washing his car, so we decided we needed to wax it. From his experience, you had to leave the wax on the car for a little while before wiping it off. Well...We let it sit a little too long. It took us an hour to wipe off what it took us 10 minutes to apply. It didn't feel like an hour. It felt like it was blasting by! It wasn't easy, but walking 20 miles a day would be a lot harder(...I don't actually think I would mind that over waxing a car though...being me)
Something else that blew by this week: a hailstorm! A really awesome, intense hailstorm! Those 'little' things in my hand? Pieces of hail! Marble size! I was standing outside when I saw clouds off to the west. The wind was blowing east, and I caught my glimpse of the first bolt of lightning! It was pretty cool, so I stood outside and watched for as long as it was safe. I moved inside once it the storm got close enough. Good thing to! After about a minute of watching the lightning from the window, there was a bolt and loud crack of thunder right overhead! A cloud of dust rolled through pushed by the wind. Then there was that hail! That monstrous(for a southern californian) hail! It only lasted about a minute, but it completely covered the ground! A few minutes later, the clouds rolled on and the sun shined just like it had earlier in the day(like when we went running earlier in the morning for the first time since winter hit back in fall).
Speaking of that run, my feet probably don't like me too much for what I did to them this past week. I wore ankle weights, but they weren't good. They cut my legs up from rubbing and what not. At some point during the week I kicked the treadmill and bruised my left foot. Saturday I kicked a flaming stick and bruised my right foot.
A flaming stick I say? We went to a service project Saturday. The objective: clean up this man's property. What did we need to do to complete the objective? Bonfire! That's a 13 year old standing next to the pile of wood we were burning to clear up the property. I had fire duty, so I got to make sure the fire didn't spread to far. That sucker was hot! I also had to help flip the wood so that it all burned(hence my kicking the flaming stick). Oh, and the wind was blowing. This obviously pushed the fire in one direction, so flames would indescriminately pop up 10' to 20' from the bonfire on that REALLY hot side of it. I would then have to go over to that hot spot and stomp out the fire with either my foot or a shovel and dirt depending on the size. That was hot! Now I've got the tiniest inkling of what it's like to be a firefighter.
This week we were also able to find some part member families with unbaptized children, the Hulmes and the Hardmans. The parents have to been to church in a while, but the kids seem to be interested in baptism, so we'll see if we can't get them all to come to church together. Since we've known them, they've been coming to church, so that is a plus.

We got to go to the Twin Falls temple after our zone meeting. What we didn't realize was they only do a session every 2 hours. We got there about half an hour after the most recent session had started, so we got to spend time doing other work. That was my first time being since I was in Socal. Things are looking up! The sun is shining! The tank is clean! There is plenty of work to do!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Week 35:Waiting for the top to blow off

Life is good! The sun is shining! The snow has melted! It's 45* outside! I get to go hiking in about an hour!(See, emailing first this time to make sure I don't run out of time.) I'm glad to be in Idaho right now!
Looking at the number of investigators we've got right now, you wouldn't think that we were doing that much teaching. We are. We've got a lot of families that are partly members and partly not who we've made contact with. Our job is to teach them truth in a comforting environment. Right now we are working on setting up that environment. In one of the six wards we cover, we've got six or seven potential investigators. They're all under the age of 18 which means we just need to get the parents on board to! With each of these youth, at least one of their parents is a member. We're hoping to help each of them out very soon. We're looking for similar work in the other wards, but nobody has been home to want to talk to us. Unfortunately, that's going to get worse as we get into spring and everybody goes out to work on the farms. We've just got to get ahold of them before Spring really roles in.
One thing I've noticed is the degenerating state of the world. We'll visit members, non members, and less actives members, and they will all tell us the same thing: The world sucks right now. I've started to notice a difference between the groups though. Those going to church recognize the terrible state of things but have a hope for something more. They're very optimistic. The non members are doing well despite the way the world is rolling. The less active members caught my attention though. They see the bad and try their best just to survive. Things aren't going great for them. They're just doing what they can to make a living. They don't hate life, but it could be going a lot better for them. Is there a correlation between this and their not going to church? I think so.
On the fun side, we got to go to a dinner/auction for one of our wards. It was really cool! The bishop was the auctioneer...He was intense! "ebubuebuoiearlksjdfo190kljsdfoiewmfi200aksldfjwoeij210lskdjflskj210210210SOLD!" That's the best I can do to mimic his speech. It was incomprehensible, and I don't actually think he was saying anything. He was being really noisy for not using any actual words though. What did I learn from this? Auctioneers would be great rappers.
We also had zone conference Friday. We got together with all the other missionaries and learned a little bit more about the plan of salvation aka the great plan of happiness. Each of us was given a packet with one reading assignment per day until Easter at the end of March. It's entirely centered on Christ's atonement. The packet is full of articles written by general authorities, and some days just have scripture references. The first day I got to read Matthew 26-28. The thing that really stuck out to me was the hate that the high priests had towards Jesus. He's going around helping people(like they're supposed to), and they hate Him for it! They hate Him so much they would rather have a murderer loosed than He. Even when He is up suffering on the cross, all they say is "He helped a lot of other people, let's see if he can help himself" and "If he is the son of God, let God save Him"(paraphrasing) Despite this, Jesus Christ still loved them just as He loves all of us.
TTFN!
Elder Soren Mann

Monday, February 25, 2013

Week 34: One week at a time

There have been a lot of changes announced. The missionary age was lowered. More missions are being made. It's a great time to be out doing the work! There are a few more specific changes that will affect me and the rest of the IBM.
One of the smaller and more immediate changes is the splitting of the area that I'm in. I'm still here in Wendell(3134 S 1900 E Wendell, ID 83355). We've covered the entire stake for the past who knows how long. It can be hard at times because you can only spend 2 days in each town each week. At the end of March, we're getting 29 new missionaries, so the area is likely going to be split with me going to one side and my companion going to the other. Right now we're working on making sure there is lots of work to do when the area is split by finding a bunch of people.
A much bigger change coming up is the split of the mission into 3 separate missions(with 3 new mission presidents)! The Idaho Boise Mission will be split into the Idaho Nampa Mission(on the west with President Stuart and Sister Elaine Cannon), the Idaho Boise Mission(in the middle with President John and Sister Arliss Winder), and the Idaho Twin Falls Mission(on the east with President Glen and Sister Nancy Curtis). This will go down on July 1st. Nobody knows where they will end up. We've been told that the speculation is that we will stay in whichever mission would include the area we are serving in at the time. I'm kind of glad I came out when I did. I'll be hitting my half way point just around that time, so I get to spend half of my mission life one way with President Cannon and the other half some other way. Hopefully these two semibig changes make the title clear. We've got to take each week as it comes and not focus on 16 weeks from now like a lot of us want to. We're all anxious to find out our fate. It's very similar to waiting for the original mission call.
This weekend we had another baptism. This was for Shyanne Bruhn. She's a 10 year old that has family members that are part of the church. Their example helped her reach the decision that she wanted to be baptized. People keep saying it because it's true: The Lord is hastening His work!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Week 33: The most intimidati​ng sacrament meeting I've been to

Church yesterday was pretty cool. I'm going to need you to use your imagination here for a minute. Picture 14 men in suits all sitting up on the stand. No, none were apostles, but still! We had the bishopric(3), the stake presidency(3), a high councilman(1), us missionaries(4), President McCurdy of our mission presidency(1), plus Elder Allen, the area 70, and an associate(2). All four of us missionaries got to stand up and bear our testimonies before Elder Allen spoke to the congregation. I used Moses 7:18 for my 2 minute thought. We need to unite-have one heart and one mind for good. As we do this, our focus will change to match the focus of the Savior.
We also had a baptism this weekend! We met Sam Funkhouser when I first came to Wendell. With the holidays and basketball, we weren't able to meet up with him again until a few weeks ago. He had a desire the whole time. He'd come to church, but he also had school, family, and sports. When you've got a town of less than 1000, you need every athlete you can get, and he is one of the better ones.
Today is transfer day. Elder Bingham is headed to Kimberly while I stay in Wendell and get Elder Shumway from AZ(?) as my new companion. That is fine by me because we've got a baptism this weekend, an eternal investigator who actually committed to baptism yesterday after a visit with President McCurdy, a lot of part member families to visit, as well as referrals galore. This is going to be a busy week.
You be sure to have a good day!
Elder Mann


Once a week, we get together with the other missionaries in the area for a district meeting. We help each other learn and grow by sharing some of our experience from what we have learned thus far. To keep it from being boring, we always play a game near the beginning to check our skills/knowledge. This time, Elder McDonald was in charge. He pulled out one of the 100 scripture mastery cards. He would say the key words or scripture reference and you had to give the other. Each correct answer was worth 2 points. By the end of the game, the score was Me: 40 to Everyone Else: 20.(We didn't go through all of the scriptures because of the unfairness of the game.) Needless to say, I had good seminary teachers

Monday, February 4, 2013

Week 31:A few extremes makes for a great week

When I say extreme, it's really only extreme in my mind. I got to go to a really cool place, plus I got to listen to a really cool person.
Dinner on Wednesday was down inside a canyon. The guy works for 'parks and rec' and lives in a home that was made for those who work at the park(Malad Gorge). There are about 170 acres of beautiful outdoors that we are free to roam on(on P-Day). Eventually(when I don't have dry cleaning that needs picking up or hair that needs to be cut), we'll go out there, and I'll take some awesome pictures in the peaceful wilderness nestled in the canyon.
Saturday we got to go to Twin Falls and listen to Elder Jeffrey R Holland and President Tad R Callister of the presidency of the 70. Their main subject was being converted and committed. I have a full page of notes that would take too long to copy. If you would like to get a copy of them and an explanation of what the notes mean, you can email me(soren.mann@myldsmail.net) or write me at the Wendell address:
Elder Soren Mann
3134 S 1900 E B
Wendell, ID 83355
or the mission office
Elder Soren Mann
Idaho Boise Mission
1111 S Cole Road
Boise, ID 83709
What I will comment on is the "unspectacularnous" of their speaking(how natural they were). They weren't all high and mighty or even super solemn and ...something that goes along with that. President Callister used a whiteboard! He drew pictures and used bullets and things that regular people do! Elder Holland walked through the audience with his hands in his pockets, occasionally pausing to put his hand on a shoulder or run his fingers through someone's hair. He was close and a part of us. He wasn't some super special guy. Just like the scriptures say(paraphrasing) "let him that his greatest among you be your servant."
TTFN!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Week 30:Another week bites the dust

Well this was a fun week that made me reflect on a few things I learned from/was told by my dad. There are a variety of tales, so let's get started!
Thursday we had an "ice storm". I hadn't been outside yet when we got a text from our mission president telling us to be cautious because of an ice storm that had passed through. I looked out the window. Things looked a little wet, but not icy. This was my first reminder of my dad. He served his mission on the east coast where they really do have ice storms. Based on his stories, this was not even close to an ice storm. I put on my shoes and went outside. Needless to say, I had a little trouble getting to the car because of ice on the ground. There wasn't any ice where people had been driving, so most of the main roads were ok. That morning we had a service project...in a parking lot...where cars hadn't driven. Luckily, somebody had salted part of the parking lot, so we were able to walk and move the items on part of it. We tried blocking off the part of the parking lot that was icy with our car, but people insisted on driving around our car and parking on the ice(where it put them maybe 5' closer to the packages). In the end, the total number of times any of us hit the ground by slipping: 0. We lucked out this time.
Friday, we spent some time with a part member family. Ernie(93) and Ivy(slightly younger) are a much older couple, Ivy being the member-Ernie having talked to missionaries for the past who knows how long. Today his son, Ernie Jr., was visiting. Ernie Jr is a cowboy entertainer. He plays guitar and reads cowboy poetry to elementary students and wherever else he can. Ernie asked him to play a few tunes for us. He was playing old stuff like Marty Robinson. I have no idea who that is, BUT I do have a little bit of old country knowledge. Because of the wonders of Youtube sessions shared with my dad, I was able to ask if he knew Gene Kelly's 'Johnny Ringo'. He knew the story, but not the actual lyrics or music. The next song he played, I was also able to mumble the words: Big Iron! I felt proud for having been able to make that old country connection thanks to a dad who has good taste in music.
On the more missionary side of missionary work, a sister preparing to leave on a mission gave her farewell talk. It was about the 'why's' of missionary work. Why we do it. Why it is important that we do it. She encouraged not going out and referring all of your friends to the missionaries but instead being a good friend and example. As she was saying this, I was screaming "NO! NO! NO!" in my head...kind of. It's true. You don't want to refer all of your friends or even randomly selected friends to the missionaries. What I would suggest is figuring out which of your friends might be interested. Then, you ask if they are. Maybe even invite them over for an FHE that the missionaries will be at. Help your friends understand that we are normal people! Just yesterday we were told about how people have responded after we went to help out at a service project in the county museum. Nobody was jumping and vollunteering to let us teach them, but they were talking about us and saying how nice we were. That's a step in the right direction.
Speaking of vollunteering, Saturday I felt like a boy scout again. We got to go help paint part of a motel for some less active members. As we got there, Houston(the guy we were doing this for) asked if either of us had painted before. I vollunteered the information that I had. What did I get to do? TRIM! Oh, how I love painting the trim. It's not actually too bad. You just have to be extra careful. If you move the paint brush a centimeter too far, you get paint on the carpet. In the end, only a little bit of paint ended up on the carpet, so I feel like a did a slightly above satisfactory job.
Have you ever seen a 49' beam that needed to be moved into position as the top part of the roof? Neither had I until later on Saturday. After several hours of planning and preparation, we used a forklift turned crane to lift the beam 20'ish into the air and put it into position. The scary part came when the beam wouldn't fall into position by gravity alone. Brandon(the guy who owned the house we were working on) climbed up on top of the beam and pounded the one side into place. It was very precarious looking. Nobody was injured in this process, so somebody was looking out for us.
In future news, Elder Holland is coming to the Twin Falls area, so we will get to hear from him this Saturday! I'll be sure to take good notes so that I can tell you about it next week.

TTFN!