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.