Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Week 86: Go forth with faith

Happy Monday world! This last week, Elder Boswell and I made a great realization as missionaries. Tuesdays are far worse than Mondays. Everyone complains about Mondays because they're the first day of the week and work and blah blah blah. Well we don't like Tuesday because it's the first day of the week for us and blah blah blah. Tuesdays are rough for us. They're getting better though! We've got one of our ward mission leaders starting to schedule visits for Tuesday nights, so that's a step in the right direction. I think will have a service project tomorrow, so that'll help fill the rest of the day.
I've had an above average(I struggle with saying 'great' too much, so I'm working coming up with other words that aren't great but that are that similar level of goodness.) week with my Alabama(not east coast) companion Elder Boswell. One of my new favorite things that we do is running! He's agreed to go running every other morning which rocks! He's my first companion who's been willing to do it. I might've been able to with some others, but I forgot to ask them. One of the wonderful pictures you get this week is of a snake that Elder Boswell found in his drawer April 1st. It was the best I could do with not thinking about pranks until that morning.
The big thing from this week was General Conference. It was a good conference to end my mission on. I learned some great stuff to carry into the coming years. It was all centered around faith. Hold to the faith. Defend the faith. Let others see the faith that I have. It kind of goes back to what I said last week about letting our religion show. That's the main thing I'm carrying away from conference this go around. Elder Holland's talk was great. President Uchtdorf's story about his Airforce One experience probably wins the funniest story of conference this go around. Nothing really stuck out as a favorite talk this go around, but a reread might change that. The other picture(not of the snake) is me watching the ending of conference pretending to take notes because it was already over, but that's how we watched all four regular sessions of conference. Shout out to the Smiths who probably won't read this! They rock though. 
I brought my journal so that I can write what I forgot to write last week. I'm working on rereading Preach My Gospel and doing as many of the activities as time will allow. One of the activities had the following instructions: 
"Imagine that you are going to write an article about the message of the Restoration for a local newspaper. In your study journal write a title that describes the central message."
This is what I wrote:
"The World is Changing, but God and His Love are Not:
We are God's children. He loves us. He has always loved us and will continue to love us until the end of  forever. He's shown His love by giving us a path of happiness to walk along through life. We walk along it with our friends and family. The prophets teach us about it. Moses, Noah, Isaiah, they all spoke and taught about this plan made possible through Jesus Christ. God has not left us alone today. Just as in years past, He has given us a prophet and additional scripture to help us on the path home."

Monday, March 31, 2014

Week 85: Already an eventful morning and it's not even 11:00

Welp, today is transfer day. I get to stay in Middleton, and Elder Patterson is moving out to Kuna. I'll be getting Elder Boswell who is moving from the other side of the stake to be my companion kind of like when I went from Nampa East to Nampa North. He's from the east coast. I'm not exactly sure where. I do know he went to school at Auburn though. This'll be my longest area. I've only ever served anywhere 4 1/2 months, and I'll be here for at least 6-maybe even 7 1/2.
Already this morning we've gone to the transfer spot, moved around several missionaries, and had breakfast at Denny's. Right now we've got a reprieve before the transfer van comes back at 12:30ish. I say "ish" because the transfer van is never on time.
Last PDay we went hiking again. We did the same hike up to Jump Creek because it's one of the few good hikes still in the mission. It was pretty relaxing which was nice, especially since I had given blood earlier to help with a young man's eagle project. (I thought they had disallowed that everywhere, but I guess not.)
I had something I wrote in my journal that I wanted to write here, but I forgot until I sat down to email; that means I don't have my journal with me, and I'll have to write about it later on.   
Yesterday's gospel essential lesson was on prophets. The teacher asked what we've learned from the prophets. (She's really good at asking deep thinking questions.) I hadn't really ever thought about that. I've always equated knowledge and what I've learned back to the Spirit. I haven't made much of a human/prophet connection to the knowledge I've gained. That's something I'm going to do this week leading up to General Conference: think about things I've learned from some of the prophets.  
A couple of times I've heard that we need to be more like those in the south and south of the border. Most are open and vocal about their religious beliefs and their admiration for God. I know I personally don't do my best to give Him the credit He is due. This is something I hope to do more. Yes, it feels unnatural at first because one isn't used to talking so openly about deity, but when after time it becomes natural. Our 'nature' is to take the easy road to survival for ourselves whatever that might entail. It is only with molding and overcoming that nature that we can become disciples of Christ. I've got a quote in my scripture bag from forever ago. It says something to the effect of: Desires determine thoughts. Thoughts determine words. Words determine actions. Actions determine habits. Habits determine destiny. If we can make it so "we speak of Christ"(2 Nephi 25:26) our actions will become those that show that "we rejoice in Christ".

Week 84: More to write about than I thought

Earlier this week, we ate dinner with a family that has two kids out on missions: a son and a daughter. The dad asked us about our emails. He wondered if they were little bleeps or long essays. Both E Patterson and myself confessed to writing mostly little bleeps. He said his son is the same way and then made fun of all of us for not writing well enough. I think he said "Boys are stupid."
We were able to do a couple of service projects this week. For the first, we went out to a field and picked up rocks in preparation for it to get stuff planted in it. We started out picking up everything that was golfball sized and bigger to keep the machinery from being damaged when it came through. Then someone more knowledgeable than us came out to tell us we only needed to pick up the baseball sized rocks. The second half of the field went a lot faster than the first half.
Saturday we had another service project. This time we were moving fencing. Members were working on moving wire fencing from one piece of property to another. I got to roll up the first section after we unhooked it. It was the longest piece... I didn't roll it very well...The first 75' rolled pretty nice, but then it went crooked, and it ended up about 11ish' long. All my roll making didn't prepare me for that.
The mission leadership got together Saturday for a special meeting with Elder Godoy of the Seventy. He said most weekends they(as Seventy) are given a specific assignment, but every now and then  they have an open weekend where they choose where to go. This was one of those weekends for Elder Godoy. He chose Nampa for whatever reasons, and we had a great discussion as a mission about how to strengthen our weaknesses. It revolved a lot around showing love, being humble, and saying prayers.
Yesterday we got to go in to primary to help with sharing time. The lesson was on experiences with the resurrected Christ, so we were given the roles of Thomas and Joseph Smith. It's hard to let the creative juices flow when you're a missionary and can't play 'dress up' super well because you've only got one wardrobe. It still went well even if we were a modern 'suit and tie' Joseph and Thomas.
This weekend is transfers. No idea what will happen. Next weekend is General Conference. Looking forward to that.

Week 83:Stateside mission problem #1234221

I've found another problem being one of those stateside missionaries: when the power goes out in the house you live at, you can't do laundry. Our mini-fridge was 'randomly' quiet and loud this morning. I didn't realize why until I went out to do laundry. One of the clocks said 12:59. I thought that couldn't be right and saw another that said the right time. It took me a little while longer to realize the power had been turning off and on. When did I realize this? When I started a load in the washer only to have it stop about half a minute into the wash because the power had turned off. Oh well. It's a windy day, and I guess that's knocking out the power.
This week we had zone conference. There wasn't a noticeable focus that I sensed. President Cole talked about the gospel of Jesus Christ. President Cannon talked about the Atonement and obedience. He had zones split up and talk about prayer. Pretty wide topic array if you ask me. It was good though. Our fun activity was Preach My Gospel Battleship. There were a lot of missionaries-probably 45 to 50 on either side of the net. We played until we got down to about 10 or 15 and ended the game because it was taking too long. I survived to the end. Yay!
Happy St Patrick's Day! That was one of the things I was forgetting. We had some corned beef and cabbage for dinner last night. It was pretty tasty. I might have to find a wife who will carry on the tradition when I get to that point of looking for a wife.
We didn't end up hiking last week because of the rain, but we are going today. Should be fun even with the wind, but I don't think that'll affect the hike too much.
Three more weeks until general conference!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Week 82: A good day for a hike

A little bit later on today, a group of us is going hiking. It's a little lot bit cloudy, and it's raining. Is it a good or bad idea to go hiking? Yes. (I thank my dad for teaching me how to answer poorly worded questions.)
This weekend was Stake Conference in Middleton. Elder Koepischke of the 70 came to talk about the hastening of the work of salvation. I thought it went really well. Us as missionaries were left out while he emphasized each persons ability to do missionary work in a different way. He had converts get up and share their conversion stories. Some were friends who got invited to mutual by friends. Some were people who had spiritual experiences with their associates as they spoke about the gospels uplifting nature. Others were touched by love of members who never gave up on them and loved them despite their shortcomings. The overarching theme was to love completely. As we love, we'll want to share our blessings with others. We'll also enlist our heavenly Father's help because it will take the effort of everybody combined to get this work rolling.
This week we'll have zone conference. I'm not sure what the focus will be on, but whatever it is I'm sure it will be good.
I'm getting excited for General Conference! It's coming up really soon. This'll be my last one on the mission, so I'll be sure to pay really close attention as it's my last chance to learn with special missionary powers.
I'd started reading the Book of Mormon last July for one purpose and last November for another purpose, and I recently finished both read throughs. It's quite an amazing book. If you haven't read it recently, I'd suggest picking it up and reading from it again. There's always something to learn.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Week 81: And the weather takes another turn

I saw a comic before coming out that showed changes in Idaho weather being very drastic. I laughed and didn't think much of it. After things got warm and sunny, we've sat with rainclouds for the past several days. Have I talked about the weather in all of my recent emails? I feel like I have.
Last PDay was pretty fun. We met up with a lot of missionaries to play volleyball and other games. I decided to not change out of my white shirt for who knows what reason. At one point we played capture the flag, and I still decided not to change. I lost a couple of buttons in the end from an intense tag. Luckily I'm a boy scout, so I was able to sew the buttons back on.
Saturday we were able to do some good ol' fashioned service. A brother was moving out of the ward, so we got to load up his furniture and other belongings onto a trailer while it was raining. It started out well enough, but after a while the rain turned cold. There wasn't too much work left to do once that happened though.
In other exciting news, I'm going to be an uncle! Yay! I don't think this will really hit me until I get home and see my sister. Even then I don't think it will really hit me. I think I'll have to see the baby before it's real to me. Mazel tov to the whole family of the earth!
If you're happy and you know it, put on a smile! It's a great day to be alive!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 80: Crossing Circles

Hello again from fantastic Idaho! It's good to be alive on this beautiful, sunny, and warm day. It seems like the cold is gone for good, but I may be speaking to soon.
Last weekend was transfers. I stayed put here in Middleton while Elder Jarvis left for Ontario(Oregon, not Canada or California). My new companion is Elder Patterson from St George, UT. He is the second closest companion to me; he's 20 miles shy of the record set by Elder Shumway in Gilbert, AZ. Elder Patterson was serving in Ontario right before here, so he and Elder Jarvis did a sort of swapping spaces dealio. We've never ran in the same missionary circles, so this is our first time serving close to each other even though we've both been out for ...a long time.
This week we were able to meet with Brooke Taylor again. I mentioned her briefly a while back. We've been teaching her for most of the time that I've been here. She's a single mom with two sons. It seems like she's got a double-fulltime job with as much as she works. Each week it seems like she has less questions which means she's getting answers! We're excited to keep helping her push to her baptismal goal in April.
We're gearing up for Stake Conference here in Middleton. Elder Kopischke is coming to preside over the "hastening of the work"-focused conference. All of the youth are invited to attend the adult session, so it seems like that's the thing to do this stake conference.(Something similar happened back home if memory serves me right.)
Thinking of back home, I had a chance to reflect about it yesterday. Our Gospel Essentials class was on "The Creation". Near the end of the lesson, Sister Butler(the teacher) mentioned how she grew up in Idaho and was an Idaho girl through and through. She loved the mountains and said she saw the ocean maybe once or twice. Then she went on her mission to New Zealand where her love for more of the beauties of the Earth grew. Sister Butler then gave each of us time to reflect on the beauties of the Earth that we've come to admire. I'm blessed to be who I am and to have been where I have been. I've stood on mountain tops. I've peered over cliffs' edges. I've gazed up out of caves. I've tasted the salty air sitting on the beach. Each has its own unique and inherent beauty in it because it was created by a miraculous God. This same God who can do all things claims us as His children and loves us above all of His other creations. His entire purpose-after having created the universe and everything else far grander than us-is to help us return to be with Him. If that's not as amazing as the beauties of nature I don't know what is.
What did any of that have to do with reflecting on home? Nothing much, but those weren't my initial thoughts. My initial thoughts were that nothing beats the beauty of home. Sure, the hills are a little bit brown and dead. Sure it's really hot in summer and the sun beats down 95% of the year. There's a feeling there though. A feeling of belonging and identity. It all flooded back when I came home from college and drove through the Cajon Pass, and I imagine it will be similar when my time as a missionary comes to a close. Home is a beautiful place too. Can you imagine how it will feel to finally return home to the presence of God? That's got to be way more intense than the drive through the Cajon Pass.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Week 79: Another snow falls to earth

The weather has been all the buzz up here recently. It was gloomy. Then it was sunny. Now it's snowy again. That little bit of snow we got last Monday was just the beginning. Since then, we've got another half foot or so. Some of it has melted, but there's still enough that many missionaries went sledding for this pday.
This next PDay will be transfer PDay. It's also President's Day, so our regular email spot will be closed. I might be able to get an email out, but don't hold your breath too long if it doesn't come.
This last week lead to a lot of contemplation. We were doing a challenge where we had to actively think more about how our choices brought us closer to God or took us away from him. Unless I'm teaching, studying, or at church(which takes up a surprisingly small amount of time), I find my mind wanders far across the spectrum of the world. This exercise helped me focus more on what matters. When you actively think about the choices you're making, it makes it a lot easier to make good choices.
No pictures this week! I accidentally left my scripture bag at our last appointment yesterday, and I haven't gone back to get it yet.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Week 78: Just when things were starting to get nice

Remember last week when I mentioned a shortage of sun? Partway through the week, the sun came out! It was awesome. Everybody had a smile on because it was bright and sunny and warm. The snow melted. Things were looking up. It decided to snow again last night though...(hence my shoveling snow in the picture)(I really needed to get to the mailbox.) The sun is still out, so most of the snow should be melted by the end of the day.
My toothpaste has looked like that for about a week now, and I've still been squeezing stuff out of it. I was amazed. Now I've switched over to a new tube, but I've learned a valuable lesson in conserving toothpaste from this experiment.
We had interviews with President Cannon again this week. This interview reminded me of when I met with the stake president in Provo about getting a new calling. It gave me a whole new perspective on what I should be doing right now, so we'll see what changes.
Yesterday, stuff changed around in the stake. We got an old ward that we covered last transfer moved into our building, so we'll cover it again for now. This was only the second time I'd seen a mass release happen.(the first being at the end of freshman year at college)
I'm getting close to the end of The Book of Mormon in my personal study again. It's a little depressing seeing how quickly people turn from good to bad, but I know the opposite can also happen where people turn from bad to good. Both will exist; all we have to do is decide which side we'll be on.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Week 77: An interesting discovery

Well this is going to be one of those weeks where not much gets emailed because of time, but I do have a semi(I hope)-interesting story.

Friday we were at a church building for district meeting when I saw a music book. One of the pieces in it was "Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral" It said it was an Irish lullaby. It reminded me of "Come on Eileen". I'm not sure if they are referring to the same thing, but it caught my attention nonetheless. A day later we were tearing out a ceiling, and the people had the radio on. It was an oldies station and "Come on Eileen" happened to play. Coincidence? Probably, definitely. That ceiling was dirty! 
Plus there was a baptism Saturday for this young man, Jordan. Everything went swimmingly.

Week 76: The sun's not out, but the days are still looking bright.

It's definitely winter in Idaho. The snow is all gone, but the sun stays back behind the clouds until the beginning of spring. We'll be without sun here for another couple of weeks, but our attitudes are nowhere near as gloomy as the weather. I don't know about the rest of you, but I can't have a gloomy spirit while I think about light and truth. It's just an instant spiritual boost for me.
This weekend we finished up a project that we started last weekend. A family who lives out in the boonies is working on remodeling their house. We aren't very good at remodels, but we can certainly help with the demolition. That's what we did. We took plaster off of a ceiling so that they could sheetrock it instead. It was pretty dirty work. The first week, I didn't have any glasses on, so I had to stop working after a little while because junk was getting in my eyes. I decided to wear glasses the second week, and the work went a lot better.
I'm pretty sure I've sent a picture like this home before. I definitely ripped another pair of pants at the knee. I'm not careful enough, so I end up sliding across the ground more than I should. Somebody is looking out for me though. On Sunday somebody brought us a suit that happened to fit me well enough. Miracle!
We found out yesterday that a couple of our wards are being split. This'll be the first time I get to participate in something like this. I remember the stake split vaguely, but I don't think anything special happened at the time. We might get an extra ward for the rest of the transfer from it.

Week 75: Crazy mornings are crazy.

I don't know how long it takes to make a lasting habit, but this whole "getting up at 6:30 thing" still gets to me some mornings when I am extra tired. For example, take this morning. I rolled out of bed to turn a light on. Our lights are super bright, so I fumbled around in the dark looking for the lamp which is slightly less bright. I was pretty sure it was unplugged, but I decided to pull the cord just in case. I happened to be looking right at the bulb, and it happened to be on. I flew all the way back to my bed from the shock(not literal shock, but not being awake and seeing something bright shock)
We had a fun week up in Middleton. We had to move some elders around the first part of the week with an extra set of missionaries moving in to Middleton. The latter part of the week, Elder Jarvis and I made a 'zone vision'. I mentioned that a couple months back I think. This was my contribution for January. We're a big sporting zone. An elder from Beaumont told us about a great game that everyone can play because it doesn't require very much athleticism or hand-eye coordination, so I can actually play it. The background is actually a reference to said sport, Turduken/Makasa depending on who you ask. All you do is hit the chair with the ball. You can get as close as you want. You just have to avoid the other team and keep them from touching the ball before it touches the chair. Pretty simple actually.
Speaking of sports, one of the wards invited us to start coming to their combined activities. It was human foosball this week. The ward has a million youth, so we stood in lines of about 15 to 25 people. Only 4 or 5 got injured to the point of being taken out of the game before we stopped(most were from hits to the head from falling or flying balls)...
I'm in a jolly mood. There's another missionary in the zone who's named Elder Jolley. He's a really fun guy. It's hard not to be happy when he's around, and he's emailing next to me. I've spent as much time laughing as emailing. I hope each of you can find a reason to laugh after you read this. Laughing is truly medicine for the soul. There's always a reason to laugh.

Week 74: 6 Months to get it right

This past weekend was an interesting one. Transfer time is a fun time to go crazy around here. We've got 27 missionaries coming in tomorrow, and only 3 going home. This has lead to several new areas opening which meant new housing for some lucky few missionaries. Elder Jarvis and I helped the office missionaries put furniture into some of these new houses Saturday. In case you didn't know, metal frames get cold sitting in a storage shed when it's 20* outside.
Yesterday marked 18 months as a missionary. They haven't been 18 perfect months, but they've been 18 great months. I've learned a lot about who I am, and who I need to be. Am I proud of the missionary I've been over this time? Eh, I'm not disappointed. I've always had a hard time using my full potential. Luckily, I've got 6 more months to figure it out.
We had 5 of our investigators at sacrament in 6th ward yesterday. It was fantastic. Jordan-who's pretty close to baptism-started to invite Brooke-who's not very far along-to start living the word of wisdom in the middle of Sunday School. It was awesome because it's shown his growth, but it wasn't perfect timing. We'll find out what Brooke thought about that tonight when we meet with her again.
I decided to take part in a 'pagan missionary tradition'. I had a pair of pants that were rendered unwearable  16 months ago due to a crash I took on my bike. Now I don't have a pair of pants. Now I've just got pictures.
It's transfer PDay, and Elder Jarvis and I get to stay together for another transfer. Our first transfer went well. We're going to make this one go even better. We lost two of our wards to a new set of missionaries moving into the area, but this will help us have the chance to focus on the two wards we're left with. Middleton has been a great town to serve in. We've got a hard working community here in Middleton. Everyone's got a role to play in the town. We just need to help them each realize their missionary role now.
It's not always easy to do missionary work. Sometimes it's scary. Sometimes we don't know what to say. Sometimes we won't do it so that "someone else can have those blessings". Heavenly Father has enough blessings to give out to everybody if only everybody would be a missionary. There are different ways to do it, and each of us needs to find our missionary niche. Once we do, the Spirit will be able to help us that much more. Blessings flow to all when missionary work is done.