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.


Friday, January 25, 2013

Week 29:Another week in the life

Well this has been about as average a week as you can get being a missionary if there is such a thing. We taught lessons. We met with ward leaders. We set a baptismal date. Pretty regular missionary stuff.

My apologies. I haven't prepared for this email, so I doubt how good it is going to be.

Sam Funkhouser is a 14 year-old kid that lives down in Hagerman. He's grown up being an athlete(his dad was the coach of everything). Because it's a small town, everyone knows everyone else. Sam has a lot of friends that are members. He'd even gone to church with them a few times. The holidays kept us from making it down to Hagerman for a while, but we were finally able to meet with Sam. We taught him about the restoration of the gospel, and he committed to be baptized on February 16. That's the big story from this week.

All is going well! I'll be sure to send a really good one next week to make up for this week! TTFN

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Week 28: Attack of the Elements!

There were 3 major elements that hit the Wendell area(and me) this week: wind, cold, and children. It was a pretty exciting week-one that made me glad I'm an eagle scout.
The scout slogan is "Do a good turn daily". I'm really glad I learned that when I was younger. Thursday we were able to assist in helping distribute food donations in a church parking lot. I came prepared. Prepared to serve, prepared to work hard, and prepared to stay warm(that luckily was easy as I worked on the other two). It was a very windy day. Winds were upwards of 30mph. Oh, and it was about 15* outside without the wind. The others working beside talked about the bitter bite of the wind and how their toes were frozen. I bought myself an awesome jacket back in Meridian and did not feel the wind at all, plus I never stood still long enough to give my toes time to freeze(little did I know I would get to feel the freezing toes later on)! When we were all done, I learned that the wind did have a little bit of an effect on me. My legs were wind burned. I had heard of that happening, but didn't understand what it meant until Thursday afternoon as sat around our table dunking our donuts in...hot chocolate(What were you thinking?).
It was only later that night(after the sky had cleared but the wind remained) that we got a blizzard advisary. That felt cool. A blizzard? I am pretty sure I might possibly be able to muster up enough strength to survive that.
That's the wind. Now for the children(only because they come next chronologically). That night(after the blizzard warning) we went to sit in on a lesson with some members and a recent convert. They had a few kids(3 girls under the age of 6 plus a few older boys). While everybody else was talking about faith and baptism, I was being read the story of the boy who bought his fish from Otto and then fed it too much. I hadn't read that in a while. It was awesome seeing how dramatically everyone in the story reacted to the boy's overfeeding the fish. "Hello? Chief Firefighter? The fish was fed too much!" "THE FISH WAS FED TOO MUCH?! WE'LL BE THERE RIGHT AWAY!"(not a direct quote) I'm sure the lesson was good, but I wouldn't know because I was being told the fish story as well as a million others by these 3 girls.
How's this for a mission experience? I got to dance with a girl! Alright, she was only 3 years old...but I got to dance with a girl! The night after the lesson, we were at dinner with a couple that had a 3 year daughter. She was sitting in the other room watching Ice Age 4 or 5 or 6(the newest one) while we talked at the dinner table after finishing our ice cream sundaes. She came over and dragged me into the other room for a dance party! We danced. We had a sword fight.(all the while my companion is being shown the member's guns) Aren't children fun? haha
About a month ago, I wrote about how awesome it is to serve in branches because you get to do everything. Elder Bingham and I went back up there again yesterday. Giving sacrament talks was our only assignment this time. The only 'problem'? We were the only two speakers. The branch probably had about 30 people there this Sunday, so we had about 45 minutes between the two of us to talk. Elder Bingham went first and used up a whopping 10 minutes. I didn't quite fill up the other 35, but I thought I did alright talking for 25 minutes. One of the branch presidency was going to get up to fill the last 10 minutes, but the organist started playing. Sacrament meeting was over.
Fairfield is a small branch up in the hills about Wendell and Gooding. It's so far away, that we have to get a ride up there so as not to use too many of our miles.(We're limited how far we can drive.) The temperature is about 20+* colder there than down in Gooding. As we were driving up, the thermometer got down to -24* F. It was a little bit chilly outside. The branch mission leader drives us around while we are up there, so we get in a lot of visits. It was a good day. We saw a lot of people. Dinner was awesome. We got a falt tire. We drov-Wait. A flat tire?! Oh man! We got it after dinner, so it was cold and dark again. I can now say that I have changed a tire while it was -10* outside.
This takes me back to Thursday's project again. I wasn't moving around a lot this time because I was changing a tire. My toes froze! They didn't return to normal until half an hour of driving in a warm car. At the beginning, I also mentioned being glad I'm an eagle scout. Reason being? The motto is "be prepared". I carry around a multi-tool and flash light in my back pack. There weren't any lights near where we got our flat. We changed the tire by the light of my little flashlight that I carry around. I knew I carried it for a reason!
That's all the exciting news from up here this week! Let's see what trouble I can get into now...TTFN!
Elder Mann

Monday, January 7, 2013

Week 27: It's been 6 months since I left from home; said goodbye to my friends and my family

That title right there was meant to be sung to the tune of "One Week" if you happen to know that song. If you don't know it, it's not worth looking it up.
A few days ago I reached my 6 month mark. It was an exciting day. We spent it cleaning out a museum! The night before we visited a genealogist to see if we could get help setting up one of our recent converts on Familysearch. We talked to her for a little while. Whenever we leave a place, we always ask if there is anything we can do to help the family out. This sister, Sister Cheney, told us they would be moving stuff around in the museum the next day. She invited us to come and be the muscle, so we did. There was an old computer the size of a dinner table that could fit 6 chairs around it. There were 2 old refrigerators that almost literally weighed a ton(the kind Indiana Jones jumped in to avoid the atomic explosion in the 4th movie). It was a neat experience seeing all of that history(and managing not to break any of it).
When we finished up there, Elder Bingham and I had a baptism to get to. Aussy Turner got baptized by his friend Austin after we spent the past week or two "teaching" him. Now that the transfer has ended, I get to share a story I promised a few weeks back.(Elder Bingham and I are staying together another transfer)
On that same line of talking genealogy, I finally figured out how all of that "third cousin twice removed" thing works! You find a common ancestor between you and whoever it is you are comparing. The number of generations between you and the common ancestor determines the degree(third fourth fifth) and the generations separating you and the other person is the "removedness". For example, Elder Bingham and I share a common ancestor(Erastus Bingham). Erastus is his great-great-great-grandfather(5 generation gap) and my great-great-great-great-grandfather(6 generation gap). Since there are 5 generations separating Elder Bingham and Erastus and 1 generation separating him and me, we are '5th cousins once removed'. You never know who your family is(minus the fact that we are all children of our heavenly Father).
We have had 6 baptisms this transfer. Do you want to know how many of those came from us knocking doors? 0. Every single baptism came from regular folk. Friends would talk about religion and life and everything else being normal people. They'd be examples, good people. Seeing all of these awesome happy people made Zach, McKenley, the Lasaters, and Aussy question what made them so happy. They talked more with their friends. They'd ask them questions about how they got to where they were. They received their answers and decided to join the church. it takes regular folk like you to push the world forward. Being a missionary is great, but we can do almost nothing on our own. It takes the support of all of you around us for us to do a little bit more than nothing. It takes prayer. It takes boldness. It takes each of us stepping out of our comfort zone for work to get done. The end. Kind of. Now we've all got to do it. Step out. Be bold. Help a friend. Help a neighbor. Help an associate. Help anyone and everyone!
That feels like a lame-ish story, but it's the best I can do on first draft without any stuff to go off of other than my mind and limited time.
On the blonde note, I meant to bring my journal(but didn't) so that I could copy some of my sage words from the past six months, but I guess I'll have to do that next week. What did I realize after reading my journal entries? The only thing I need to read to get the important stuff is the ending. I'd write a summary of the day and then try to say something cool. Some of the cool stuff is pretty cool, so I hope you're ready for another awesome email next week.
On the scary note, I'm going to be 20 this year. Since when am I old? Can you answer me that? No? okay. I guess I'll just go on living life.

Week 26

With Christmas happening this past week, we weren't expecting too much work. We thought everybody would be busy with family. Luckily we were wrong.
Last week's P-Day we got together with a lot of other missionaries for 'dart wars'. Everybody gets a piece of pvc pipe+nerf darts. It's a simplified blowgun battle. My team won most of the time no thanks to me. I don't know if this is actually true, but when I look at myself(in a battle setting) I'm the kind of guy that doesn't really take time to think but rather charges ahead. Did this work? Not really. Most of the time I ended up in jail. Those times when I didn't end up in jail, I got to go to jail to rescue people.
Tuesday was Christmas. We visited members who fed breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Lot's of food(time for a few new year's resolutions?). I got to call home in between breakfast and lunch. That was more exciting than I anticipated. I didn't think I would have talked to them as long as I did. Funny how being away for almost 6 months can do that to a guy. My best Christmas present? Probably the thermos I got from Mom. As you may or may not know, it gets cold up here! It's a balmy 25* outside right now. I like to keep the thermos in the car full of hot chocolate. It keeps me warm.
I actually got my package from home almost a week before Christmas. It came in two parts: a box and an envelope. I saved the box for Christmas, but I opened up the envelope as soon as I got it. It contained family mission stories. I'm glad I got that. There are a lot of things I didn't understand when I read it back 10 years ago when I made it. Aunt Laura mentioned "Mission outer darkness" which has a new meaning to me as a missionary. There were all sorts of fun stories in there, and I'm glad I'll get to make my contribution soon.
Wednesday was a great day. We finished up with dinner and had nothing scheduled, so Elder Bingham and I went to the church to see if anybody was there that we could visit. There wasn't. However, we got a call while we were there. A member from one of our wards said "I've got a friend at my house who wants to be baptized. What do we need to do?" Our response? "Don't go anywhere! We'll be there in 10 minutes!" He's being baptized Saturday. Aussy(Austin) grew up with members and received his own witness of truth this Christmas. More on Aussy and the other baptisms from earlier this next week.
A lot of the rest of the week was spent teaching Aussy and getting him ready for Saturday. I did an overhaul of our areabook in preparation for the upcoming transfer. We aren't sure who is staying and who is going. This transfer has flown by, and we're preparing to go out with a bang!
Happy New Year! TTFN