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

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;"