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 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 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