Monday, November 28, 2011

November 21, 2011

Dear Family,

This week is that ward camping trip and it's on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, so I don't really need an invitation for dinner because I'm told that we're going to go somewhere with a smoker and make ham and turkey and all the trimmings.  I feel like really this week is going to be completely wonderful!  I'll send you pictures next week.

From what I hear from President Barry we are in the middle of a "Mormon Moment" with all of this publicity from the Broadway play and the presidential candidates and all of the campaigning.  It's such a wonderful time for everyone to go and talk to everyone about their beliefs.  It's crazy how easy it was to connect with people this week in relation to the gospel.  You talk to them like just any other person on the earth and just like it says in Preach My Gospel...  Something that they say will ALWAYS relate to a fundamental of the gospel.  It is so wonderful.  We talked to the brother of one of the members yesterday that's visiting from Puerto Rico and just a couple of the things he told us were about how there were people in the bible that spoke with God face to face and that it's really rare that you hear about that today and about how he doesn't understand why God would expect His children to all be placed under different beliefs in Him when in heaven we're all going to be part of the same belief.  

Rosalio was offended by something that his daughter said Saturday night and woke up his wife and left for Texas yesterday morning.  I still kind of can't believe that I'll probably never see them again, but we're going to call them today to ask them their address to send the missionaries over there in Texas.  I honestly think that Emilia would have been baptized 3 months ago if it weren't for Rosalio, and even Rosalio would already be baptized if he just humbled himself and didn't always play devils advocate with us.  As missionaries literally all that we do is invite people to ask God if this gospel is true or not.  If they understand that God and Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith and instructed him to construct the church of Jesus Christ again on the earth and then just pray to know if it is true, they will get an answer.  It is so incredibly simple and yet it seems the second we go back to ask them how their reading went, they never answer the door again or something ridiculous happens.  We just have to press forward and continue to look for the elect because I know that they hear the voice of the spirit and harden not their hearts.

The sister missionaries in our ward taught a 19 year-old named Jeremiah that was baptized yesterday and he was just so ready to act and so ready to hear what they had to say.  It really was just so spiritually-boosting to be there and see someone take that step, and he truly wanted it.  He is so excited to get out and share the gospel...  He has already invited something like 4 friends to church and the ward is just becoming more and more open to missionary work because of all of these great people that come.  The Spanish members are still feeling a little bit kicked to the side, but we are still working to help them to come together with their English-speaking brothers and sisters.  

I'm eating great.  I'm not really skinny and the thing is that I eat a ridiculous amount of food.  I think that fat people usually get skinny on their missions and skinny people usually get fat, so my body's just confused what to do because I'm not really either.

 I was told by some of my BYU friends (Lexi, Lindsey, and Emalie) "Happy Birthday" through one of the members of the ward here in Orange Park.  It was a great birthday and I absolutely LOVED all of those letters from everyone.  It sounds like everyone is just so happy and doing great and I am so glad to be a part of such a fantastic family!  Thank you for the letters and your prayers and support in me being a missionary!  I haven't made the brownies yet, but I will and I'll take pictures of my balloon-filled room and my delicious brownie-cake.

I love you SO MUCH and I hope that you keep on having a great vacation in my mission boundaries!



Monday, November 14, 2011

November 14, 2011

Dear Family,

It sounds like it was a wonderful week!  I can't believe that Les Miserables is already down and overwith!  It just came and went.  I remember vividly when we first found out that Hannah got the part as Cosette.  Gosh I am so proud of her and am so sad that I missed it.  You had better save a copy of the DVD when she gets it so I can watch it when I get back.

My 6 month mark was this week!  One-fourth of the way done with my mission...  Do you even realize how crazy that is?!  All I can say is that it has changed me in regards to the gospel and purpose in this life just about 100%.  Did you know that Savannah is in my mission??  Did you say you're going there this week?  Is that even allowed?  Haha that is just ridiculous to think that you're going to be only 2 hours away from where I am right now.  

I have a couple of neat things to share this week!  Ali's Dad (Brother Lindberg) is in the District videos!  I remember Ali saying something like that before, but it hadn't really clicked until I was watching Ali's mom and dad teach an investigator in their house in San Antonio!  I know a celebrity!  I think he was the Ward Mission Leader in one of the wards that the district was filmed in at the time that it was being filmed.

Since we don't get to proselyte on holidays, the mission president told us that we could go up with the ward to Georgia this weekend to go to their camping activity for the day. (We won't obviously be camping.)  I am really excited for that and I really just think that the holidays are going to be a lot of fun with, of course, a lot of food!!  

This week was really exciting because we started talking to an old investigator again.  It just seemed like he needed some time to cool off, but now we have been going over and teaching him again pretty frequently.  We don't have anyone with a set baptismal date right now, but a couple of investigators have been taking big steps to progress...  We taught the word of wisdom to Rosalio and Emilia this week and expected them to be a little bit reluctant, especially because Rosalio is always drinking a beer when we're over there, but they were so prepared to be taught about that commandment it was ridiculous.  We also cut their dog's hair.  I'll try to send some pictures to you in another e-mail, but I don't know if I can from these library computers...  

One other investigator that I want to tell you about is Jose.  His wife is a member of the church and he told us last week that he had gotten an answer to his prayer and read in the book of mormon.  I might have already told you that, but I am still so excited for the next time we go over to see them.  He is a truck driver and has been out of town for about 2 weeks because of trouble with his truck, but he told us he would call us today!  I'll let you know how that goes.

Just keep praying for some more wonderful miracles and some baptisms in Orange Park!  We are working hard to find them, but we can always use the power of prayer on our side.

 I am doing great and I'm excited to be a missionary!  I love you a lot and hope you continue to enjoy everything there in Colorado.  By the way Hannah and Will look so small it is hilarious!  



November 7, 2011

Dear Family,

I have been studying the Book of Mormon a lot lately and trying to apply it more to my teaching, even in just street contacts, and it truly is powerful.  It's just like Elder Holland says that you can't have a full vision of the gospel until you embrace the divinity of the Book of Mormon, and of Jesus Christ, of whom it testifies.  I have been using it a lot lately whenever I am in any sort of spiritual slump because it is the best way to bring hope back into your life.  It really seems that the Lord speaks to us individually when we read the Book of Mormon with the companionship of the Holy Ghost and ask for the understanding.

This week we didn't get to see Jose because he was out of town all week in Texas.  He drives a truck all around the United States, but gets three days a week off, so it's not like the terrible lives the people in that play we watched live.  When he told us that he was out of town we asked him if he had been reading and he said yes.  And then we asked him if he prayed to know if it was true or not and he said yes.  And then we asked him what he thought and he told us that he would talk to us about it the next time we see him!  It was so wonderful.  I know that if he actually read and actually prayed that the answer he says he received is that it is 100% true because it's what God promises.  Just keep praying for him that he will know that this truly is the Church of Jesus Christ!!

On Halloween we went to go to talk to one of our new investigators, Sergio, and he told us that he had nephews that would like to come to church with him as well.  We went inside his apartment and sat down with the three of them and taught about the Restoration and one of the nephews was listening so intently and so interested.  I even asked him "If you had to explain what the most important part of this message is in one sentence, what would it be," and he answered, "Well, that we need to find out if it is true or not."  It just doesn't seem like that much, but when he said it he was just being so sincere and honest and the look on his face when we gave him a Book of Mormon just said, "What is this thing I am holding in my hands?"  It was powerful!  

I got a little bit sick this week and I think it caused a little bit of a flare-up in my stomach, but it's nothing to worry about.  I just called the doctor and the nurse told me to up the dose for about a week and call her back if I was still having problems, but it's pretty settled.  It was really the first time that I had felt pain.  I'm doing well now though.

I got your package and Kendi's as well.  Thank you both so much!  It was so wonderful.  I especially loved all of the ties!  I loved the black and orange one.  Everyone comments on it and I think it looks rather dashing.

I would love nothing more than to have a book of spiritually-uplifting piano arrangements for my birthday.  Also there is a piano arrangement for "This is the Christ" that I would love to have as well that you can probably find on Deseret Book's website.

My shirts are all ENORMOUS.  I only wear three of them or four of them because those are literally the only ones that fit.  There is someone that tailors in the ward, but the shirts are just made for enormous people.  I'll go into Dillard's to see if they can do anything, but if not I don't really know what to do.  

This past six months has flown by and I can't believe it is literally almost Christmas.  I still feel like a little baby missionary, but I feel that the person I am now and the person I was six months ago is completely different in regards to my own relationship with Christ and the significance of the gospel in my life.  You are great parents and I look up to you and am so glad that you raised me the way you did.  I hope that you keep on having a great time over there in L-town, Colorado and bring honor to the family name :D

Tell Hannah to break a leg!  I really wish I could be there to see her as Cosette.  I know she will be spectacular.  I will probably be sending a box of things I shouldn't have brought on my mission home soon, so don't get too excited if you get a package sometime this week from me.  One of those things is, sadly enough, the Les Mis CD.  It's just so full of romance and violence, I just feel it's probably not what I should be listening to as a missionary.  

Thank you so much for the package.  Ask Kendi if they ever got the letter I sent to them in the MTC and make sure that you let them know that I got the package they sent me!  



Saturday, November 5, 2011

October 31, 2011

Dear Family,

It is so weird seeing other missionaries in the house.  I love the ward here, but it seems like nobody really invites the missionaries over to do anything, ever...  We always have to be the ones to set up our own dinner appointments, but I just feel at times like our family might just be the only family in the world like that.  Haha I'm really jealous that I couldn't be there doing all of that fun stuff for that Halloween party!  Did I ever tell you that all of the Missionaries in the Jacksonville Mission have to wear a part in their hair?  What are the Elders names and where are they from?  Those pictures are all so fun!  i laughed so hard at the one of Molly just being Molly with her little shirt on!  Haha tell Hannah to put some pants on her!  ;)

This week was full of trade-offs, doctor appointments, and meetings.  I don't think we had a single normal morning, but we really met some great new people and found some new investigators.  One of them is the son in-law of a member of the bishopric, Jose.  He knows a lot about the bible because he used to go to the Jehovah's witness church, but didn't believe it was right.  We taught him about Joseph Smith and the Restoration and then we invited him to be baptized.  He told us that after he got an answer to his prayer, he would be baptized, so pray hard that he does his part!  It's the best as a missionary when somebody actually listens and understands and decides on their own to see if what we say is true or not.  

This week in sacrament meeting, I sang "Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing" with the Sisters and a member accompanied us.  It was great being able to do that again and it makes me wish I had done it more often back home.  I was a little bit iffy at first because I thought it was weird that the missionaries were going to sing in sacrament, but we got so many compliments and so many people told us how much it touched them to hear that song, especially the verse we sang in Spanish.  I thought you would like to hear that, especially considering how you were just telling me about your lesson on hymns.  

On Saturday night we went to go see someone in an apartment complex and ran into probably the most drunk person I have ever seen in my life.  He apparently was having trouble with his girlfriend and was making a bunch of accusations, so we just ended up giving him our phone number and telling him to call us when he was feeling better.  We said a prayer and left and then we got a call from him the next day, telling us to go over to his house and talk to him.  He was a little bit drunk, but much better and ended up telling us that he almost killed himself the night before and did coke and all of this stuff, but I honestly think that our visit was a factor in his decision not to do it.  I talked to his girlfriend on the phone for whatever reason, and it was all just so dramatic!  We took his cigarettes away and were going to throw them away, but they weren't his to give away so we ended up giving them to his friend, but I just couldn't believe how absolutely ridiculous the whole situation was.  He's an investigator now.  Haha

I just really have so much to say, but the days just blend together I can't even really remember what was this week and what was last week.  The Mayo Clinic was the most amazing place I have ever been to in my entire life.  They just baby you and it is so incredible.  They give you this page called your "itinerary" and it has everywhere you need to be and at what time and it's honestly just like a perfect society inside the borders of that clinic.  The doctor was the smartest person ever and just knew every little thing about everything is what it seemed.  He told me that he thinks that I have something called Ulcerative Colitis, but he also told me that it doesn't really matter what the name of what I have i because it is so different for every individual person.  Regardless of what it is, I have IBD and he said I might have to take this medicine every day for the rest of my life.  The news wasn't too upsetting, but I mean it's just so nice knowing exactly what everything is and what I need to do and look out for.  In the end I feel like really I just have something that has the potential to become harmful if I'm an idiot.  We caught it early and he sounded confident that I would live to see another day.  (Normal life expectancy)  I think of it how everyone probably has signs of the start of some horrible disease in their body, but it's just a matter of not letting it get out of control.  It's manageable and it is nothing to worry about in this point in time.  They are not rushed to do any other diagnostics or anything and they said I'll probably get another colonoscopy only in the case that my body starts acting up.  The symptoms are hiding, so apparently I appear completely healthy.

I am doing great, you are doing great, the world is just so great.  I didn't get any picture of any mummies, but the rest of them were so much fun!  I haven't gotten a package yet, but I probably will today so nothing to worry about.  I probably shouldn't listen to Les Mis I just realized, but thanks for sending it anyway.  I don't really know what I want for my birthday, but I'll try to think real hard this week.  I would love nothing more than to have my shirts tailored, but that's not really something you can do...  Is that expensive?  No worries.  I'll go into Dillard's and ask them.  Thank you for caring so much about your little almost 20 YEAR OLD boy.  

I'm glad you're not worried about the shooting.  It just seemed like a bunch of dumb kids or something, but honestly so many people have started moving in and hanging out outside ever since then, just a week ago!  It's like it attracted some people.  We'll let President know if it happens again :)

I love you so much and don't want you to worry about me.  I am really adjusted to this life and feel like this is going to be me forever, I even have been dreaming about doing missionary work lately, so we can officially say that my mind is on the work!  6 months in 12 days...