(Normally, Thomas writes to us on Mondays, but this week his Pday was on Wednesday this week, in honor of Halloween.)
Hello! Man that storm sounds crazy, everyone keeps asking me if my house will stand the storm back home haha. Thank goodness Jack has contact with you so I knew you were ok. (Jack works with the missionaries in Thomas' area, and has been able to keep contact with us so we were able to contact him during Sandy.) I wasnt very worried, I know the Lord takes care of you.
Man, so this week has been sooo hectic but a lot of fun haha, it's the first time I'm not treated like a trainee. My training ends in 2 weeks, but it's basically over now. We had to split our area with sisters so I thought up some ideas and helped with the decision making of how to split the area up. It was cool to see how president lets the elders figure all these things out, then he backs us up and provides a little insight, but he mainly lets us take control. So then after, I was companions with the ZL's (Zone Leaders - seasoned missionaries who are over an area called a zone) and it was so much fun while it lasted. We were supposed to be together for the next 2 weeks until transfers, but then I got a phone call and I had a new companion!! His name is Elder Braby, he is the man. He is obedient but a lot of fun. Together we are going to take this area to a whole new level. President told him that he wants me to learn good lessons now, this way I can help push this mission forward when all the 18 year olds come in within the next year. He sat us down and said that missionaries that go to this mission are going to be future leaders in the church, and that he expects me to become one of them. It was basically to get me to realize the importance of becoming the missionary the Lord wants me to become.
So Cad's baptism was AMAZING...one of the top 5 experiences of my life. The Spirit was stronger than I have ever felt before. It was so powerful to me, I think because I've been with him since the beginning, and I've been blessed to see his change. His dad was there and he was sobbing and couldn't stop thanking me. It was a very humbling experience. Afterwards, Cad said he wants to serve a mission!!!! I started crying a little and I hugged him. After, he said how thankful he is for the missionaries. He is a great kid and I am going to keep in contact with him. He doesn't realize how much he changed my life as well. We helped to convert each other fully. He has pushed me and made me step it up and do the Lord's work and speak as if the Lord was there. So a miracle happened, and I think it's the Lord blessing me and Elder Braby for first getting through this trial of all the changes and stress without a scratch, just to continue to push to do the work, and also for our obedience. We finally found a referral, Christina, her family is Native American, and they invite us to teach them every day!!! They also said "give us a little time before we get baptized." We haven't even invited them yet!!! They are amazing! We took them on a church tour and there we bore our testimonies in the Chapel. It was very powerful as the Lord spoke to them in their hearts. They all kept saying thank you so much and the husband said he can feel our presence in his home. He said as soon as you walk in the door, it's a sense of love, devotion, the Spirit, comfort, and power. He said as soon as we leave, it's gone. He said he wants what we have and he will do what it takes to achieve that. The Spirit really does work through us as missionaries, it's nothing we do, we are just the mouthpiece. The other day when we woke up, there was almost a foot of snow on the ground!! It was so much fun! We had snowball fights with all the neighborhood kids, helped them build snow forts, and just had a fun day! I miss skiing though, seeing all the snow. Jack also calls me his lucky Machete haha and he wants me to be by his side all the time! Transfers are coming up in 2 weeks, so next week send mail to the mission home, tell Vanessa that as well. Boxes always send to my direct address, if you can. Just ask me for the address first to make sure I didn't move. Man the Lord tests me, haha, I always hear TSwift's new songs!! dah It's awful haha. We played football Monday night with about 16 other people, it was so much fun!!! It's good to gain friendships with the people out here, it makes me feel so much support. So Joe is gone :( he reported to the MTC today!! He is going to the Philippines. It was sad to see his farewell, but he will do great. Elder Braby and I went exploring during our lunch break the other day haha we got lost and found a sweet secret staircase here in town that goes to an empty room. It was fun going on an adventure. We teach so well together, it's almost like reading each other's minds. We got a referral the other day, and when we knocked it was an anti-mormon. He knows the Bible like the back of his hand and just started bashing us and giving us all anti DVD's and what not. He would not let us bear our testimony, and it's because that's the secret to religion. He knows it and we know it. So he avoided it. Finally after 20 minutes of him ripping on us, I said "Sir, we do not care. The reason we don't bash is because we Know our Church is led by God and that we have a testimony and a relationship with God. Have a nice night, and you should read the Book of Mormon some time, it will change your life just like the millions of other people." He was really mean and rude to us so I just had to cut it off. It was a growing experience for me, I learned to just follow the Spirit and never, not ever, doubt the Lord. Testimony alone is not enough, it's conversion that pushes us and makes us who we are. True conversion is what it all comes down to. We must work to be fully converted. This week, feeling the Spirit so strong has made me realize why I am here. It was a big wake up call to me. I LOVE MY MISSION!!! I absolutely love it! This time flies by so fast, and I just love always being on the Lord's errand all the time!!! As missionaries, we see miracles every single day. I have been so busy and I love it! I stretch my furthest, I climb up a new rung..and the Lord immediately says "go further, do more, keep going." I reach my max and then he shows me an entire new gear I have to shift into. He wants more and more of us to give, He expects our all. He expects us to go the extra mile. It's whether we do it or not. Just when things get too hard and too much, that's when it's most important to stand up and fight, to give it your everything. Leave everything on the field, at the end of the night sitting in bed I think to myself, did I give today my absolute best, my all? If the answer is no...I have a lot of work to do. When we get knocked down, just as I experienced with the basher, that's when you pick yourself up, forget the sob story and hit it 10x harder. The Lord demands and expects our all. So we must give it. I hope your week has been good! I keep you in my prayers, I hope you feel the Spirit each day! I have to get going but I love you all so much! Be safe and have a great week! Stay safe and warm!
Man, this week has been so insane!!! So to start off with the news and updates first. Elder Aiono has been emergency transferred down to Pocatello because an Elder down there needed some help. He left yesterday morning and we got a 2 hour notice. It was sad, but all is well. My new companion has been out 16 months, when I first saw him I said "hey mom" because he is my second trainer type figure. haha He wasn't very happy about that but the Assistants and ZL's were all cracking up. I was shocked that president was putting so much trust on my shoulders while I'm still being trained!!! I have a lot of responsibility trying to deal with people who have had problems in the past and an area that I am still getting to know. I love this Elder though, he is a good missionary and loves the Lord.
So then the Sisters up in Yellowstone last night had men stalking them with weapons all evening. Then the men were waiting outside of their door. The sisters called their bishop and he handled it. They are now coming to split St. Anthony with us Elders so now instead of covering 11 wards, we will cover most likely 6. It stinks because we have to give them a few of our investigators that I have come to love so much. We are working on splitting the area after emails with the president and Assistants. I have a few ideas on boundaries that may help the work in both areas.
Later today, we may go wrestle pigs!!!! A farmer invited us 4 Elders to go, so hopefully we can have time to do that. The pigs weigh up to 250lbs!!!! How crazy?!? Man, so I got a few packages this week!! Thank you so much!! I loved loved them! I also loved the letters you included. Dad your talk was very powerful! I showed it to my companion and he was impressed.
So Tuesday, I taught our district about humility and patience, both of them are vital to being the most productive missionary possible. I felt really good about the lesson, going in and teaching from just a page of bullet points. I have been trying really hard to teach by the spirit and it has been working very well! Sister Chandler drove us to the Chiropractor because when I was on exchanges with a spanish Elder, he hurt his back moving more wood. On our way, we saw a very tough looking motorcycle guy with all leather and a skull helmet. She goes "he looks like he's having fun". She was so funny, she is 78 years old and just the cutest old lady. Then the other day, we went to the high school football game, we were treated like rockstars, everyone kept coming and talking to us. We found a few new PI's at the game, so it was a good finding tool.
Oh and last Sunday, I taught the 16 year old sunday school class for 45 minutes. I broke down the famous story of David and Goliath. I was led by the spirit on what to say and I felt the lesson went very well. One lesson that stood out to me was when David showed trust in the Lord and went to choose out 5 stones from the river. He chose them out very carefully, finding the most perfect round smooth stones. We can choose our 5 stones as well when we face adversity. Some options of stones are courage, faith, trust, power of the spirit, prayer, priesthood, and many many more. I love breaking down scriptures with the power of the spirit, I just learn things that normally I would have never seen! I will work on a lesson and send it to you to teach a class sometime, I've just been too busy to write one down this week.
We had a super powerful lesson with Cad last night, he is being baptized this Saturday!!! I am so excited for him! Bishop Orme and the Wilsons were at the lesson last night and we all shared our testimony in under a minute. Cad bore his and I've never felt so happy! It was amazing to see how much we have actually taught him! He is an amazing kid, having gone through the family crisis he has and still loving the Lord and all that happens to him he just bounces right back up. He is an example to me in the sentence, "come what may and love it." He embraces his challanges and runs with it.
So this week, with all that has gone on, I have my own motto, "Come what may, accept it, take control, and run away with it." Although Elders may have some problems and Elder Aiono is gone and the president put a lot of weight on my shoulders, I took a deep breath and buckled down. I am learning by fire. There are no more practice rounds, this is all real and I love it. I love having to feel that I only have one chance. Life is all about opportunities, they come and go but you have to learn to take each one and not miss your chance to become more, to grow and to excel. Out of clutter find simplicity, in difficulty lies opportunity. I have definitely learned that.
Yesterday, I had to take charge in a meeting with all the high councilmen and the church leaders in the area. We had to explain the work in the area and come up with ideas to help the work grow. They were all receptive to my new ideas and they all as well brought new ideas to the table. I love my mission so much. I am learning and growing and becoming serious about paper work, studying and just taking care of adult problems.
But anyways, at the end of this week start sending mail to the mission home unless you have a package, then send it to my exact address, but transfers are coming up in 2 weeks, so keep that in mind. I hope I stay here for one more, but whatever happens, happens. I hope all is well at home! I have been doing excellent and feel really happy and just filled with the spirit each and every day. Be safe! and keep reading the BOM! Read and report, I love hearing what you all learn. I love you all! Have a great week! Thanks again for the packages!!!
Wow, what a long letter! (Our letter this week to Thomas was quite long, haha - we had a lot to share with him, in particular, Tom and I took a road trip to Stowe, VT.) I loved hearing all about your trip and the history of it! Yes, I am taking my vitamins haha and I was wondering if it was possible for you to send me my GPS soon? no rush but I'll need it when I start driving. Also please please send me my driving record :) Thank you!
We taught Cad this week and scheduled a baptismal date for him on the 27th of October. We bore testimony of the importance of this event. I said "once you are baptized you are no longer and never will be on neutral ground." I taught him about the power of God and shared Matthew 10. He is really excited and wants to be part of God's army. Jack bore testimony of the Elders that baptized him when he was about 15 and he says how thankful he is for them in his life. He talks with them all the time and visits their families now. He said, "These Elders will be your Elders forever. As you get older, you will realize more and more how important it was that they found you, and you will be eternally grateful." I teared up a little bit, this is my first true conversion, besides myself. It's amazing, Jack is like a mix of a brother, a best friend, and an example. I am so thankful for having them in this area. They support us and everything! He went shopping just to get me rice milk the other day! I was so thankful! It meant a lot to me because I felt like someone really cared and loved me out here. The second person is Brother Carlson. He is extremely knowledgable about the gospel and we talk for an hour every few days just about deep doctrine. He says I am a really deep thinker and he has never been asked such questions. He has been able to answer and support every question I have.
I bore my testimony yesterday in 3 wards, each time was about receiving and acting on revelation. I love when the spirit just takes over and I just open my mouth and the words just come. I said something like "We all have something to give, God gave us the ability to give our talents, skills, love, and friendship to everyone. We all are sent here to help each other out. We all have the power to recieve revelation, and although a thought might come into your mind after praying that may seem a little odd or random, IT IS A PROMPTING. Act on it. Don't ever postpone a prompting. Not ever. When we postpone promptings, the Lord will hesitate next time we ask for one. The church is true, there is no doubt about it. When people try to take a shot at our religion, ask them...You say we don't have any proof God is there, but where is your proof that he is not? We have so much obvious proof, Prophets, Scriptures, Revelation...I could go on forever."
We went to the sand dunes last Monday and we wrestled down the huge hills with a bunch of Elders. It was alot of fun haha. We visited our friend, Charlie the Llama, as well. He watches over and protects a farmer's sheep. I decided to see what he could do, so I hopped the fence and chased after him, he took off like a rocket! I couldn't believe how fast llamas can run! I was in cowboy boots, so that slowed me down a little bit haha. Oh no, I'm going to come home a farmer boy! haha jkjk I feed the horses carrots a few times a week, it's crazy how big they are! They definitely scare me.
We also did service this week, we stacked 6 cords of wood...literally. It took half of our day with 5 people! It was a great workout, however! Potato harvest is slowing down, we haven't been to help since the last time. But we still see potato trucks all over the place.
Your vacation sounds like it was a blast!!! I'm jealous! I'm glad you and dad got to get out and have some alone time! How is your scripture reading coming? I hope all is well at home!! I miss you guys so much! Be safe and have a wonderful week! That's crazy about Elder Christofferson coming to our stake!! dah I'm jealous!! Tell him I say hi! haha
I got a letter from Parker this week!! The only mail I got :( but man, it was an uplifting letter! I miss that kid! It's good to have support from a good friend and that it doesn't matter where we both go, because we can always be friends. He talked all about the nice cars and how motivated he is to be rich someday. haha He is crazy, but that's why we are friends. Can't wait to see you guys! Time just flies out here! Weeks go by like days! Elder Aiono just hit his 1 year mark! He says it feels like yesterday he was in my spot :/ It's true, these 2 years just fly by. I love you all so incredibly much!
MOM!! (his letters are to all of us, I just typically write our "family" letter to him)
Dah! I loved that email, Conference was incredible!!! My jaw dropped and I teared up a little bit! I hope Vanessa serves! Man, she would be a bomb missionary! Only thing would be is she would distract all the other Elders in her mission :/. Man, that announcement was incredible!!! This will change the world..literally. So many more missionaries and so many more RM's. (Thomas is referring to the announcement that was made in General Conference that this missionary age requirements are now changed so that men can serve at age 18 and women at age 19 - a surprise for all!)
I loved Elder Holland's talk, he is my idol. He starts out slow and calm, then gets into it and just blows everything away! I hope some day i can teach and speak like he can!! or even a fraction of it would be nice. His talk was just so powerful when he asks "Do you love me", speaking as the Lord. (It was my favorite talk as well, so powerful - if you want to see it yourself, click the link here: http://www.lds.org/general-conference/watch/2012/10?lang=eng&vid=1884811466001&cid=9
This gospel is so true...I have no doubt about it. I know that the Book of Mormon is true. If this church was not the re-established Church of God, tens of thousands of 19 year old boys would not leave home for 2 entire years, pay money, and leave all that they have ever known to serve a mission. If this church was not true I would not be able to do what I am doing currently. It simply could not be done. The Book of Mormon is a miracle. It has been around for so long and lasted from times of old. The Bible talks about it coming. It is a miracle. It is the work of God. If someone isn't part of it...be a part of it. Do what you need to do. Be proactive. Do something with the gifts you are given. God is there, Jesus is there. Hearing two 19 year olds speak as powerfully as we do is a testament of that. A 19 year old boy cannot regularly give marital advice, give job advice, or give personal addiction advice unless he has the power of God. We need to stop doubting, stop attacking, and stop ridiculing that which is true.
Ok, so this week has been great! I got to go to the temple twice!!! It was so great and I felt such a great peace and spirit about everything! I went on splits with Kaden, a boy who is leaving in a month for his mission. We taught a lesson and got one new investigator. For spud harvest, we worked on the belt line, sorting potatoes and dirt clods haha. Its amazing how many potatoes there are! I have pictures I will hopefully have time to send today. We did service at the Carlson's house as well, we removed bushes and pricker bushes. The guy in charge asked if I could come work for him after my mission because he like my work ethic. ( I thank my dad for that). It's been great to do some physical work around here, haha I needed it badly! During study time, I have to get up and walk around every once in a while to keep the blood flowing!
I will write Grammy! I got her letter! Tell people to send packages directly to me. And yes, the cookies are so good!!! Tell her I love her as well! It's 16 degrees at night here!!! We woke up and our lawn was frozen solid haha. The spirit is so strong in my life, I have learned to pray about everything! It helps out so much!!! I hope you all have a great week! I am going to send some pictures now. I love you!!!! Have a great week! Talk to you all soon!!!!
This week has definitely been one of the odd ones, I have had many ups and downs but am so far ahead of where I was last week. So first off, I have been doing a lot of thinking about leadership. The purpose of leadership is to produce more leaders, not followers, that is one thing I have seen done by President Brinkerhoff. Another thing is that encouragment and praise is so much better than criticism and blame. The Lord leads that way and it turned out really well, our church is the best organized organization on the face of the Earth. We have so many churches, so many people and it is all in a perfect order. People want to follow a leader that is in the service of others, not a dictator who just barks out orders and doesn't live the life he is preaching.
Ok, so this week me and Elder Tamoyo have chopped 4 cords of wood!! We just went crazy and finished one of the investigator's piles in half a day! We cut and stacked it. I will include pictures in a few. Then the next morning during study, the housing inspectors came over so it was a mad hustle to pick up laundry and throw away a few pieces of garbage haha - it was exciting and we passed!!!
So the other day, I learned a very valuable lesson. Sometimes in life, you have to take the bull by its horns. So a cow escaped from a man's farm and the farmer kept trying to get it to bring it back in but nothing was working!! I was watching, thinking if I was the cow, what would get me in the fence? I thought being pulled by my ears definitely would get me, so I jumped in with my suit on and everything and the farmer was just watching me, I sneaked up to the cow and went from the side to grab its ears!!! I got ahold of them and walked him into the fenced in area. I compared this to life, there will be times in your lives that even the farmer won't know what to do and you will have to just jump in and take control of the situation. My motto is "be content to act, leave the talking to others." Don't worry, I was safe and didn't get too dirty.
The other day, we fed the horses in our backyard!! haha It was pretty cool! Then I noticed the horses were surrounding me so I ran like crazy and on my way out I spanked a horse haha It took off like a maniac and now he doesn't come near me :,( It was the white one. I still haven't named them yet... but I will. Ok then we taught a good amount of lessons, and I am becoming really knowledgable about the gospel. I have been pleading with the Lord to help me attain Christ-like attributes and understand what I read. Both of those blessings have just been showered down upon me at this time. It's amazing how the Lord wants to be in your life, all you have to do is follow the Holy Ghost and things just work! That's one thing I learned in high school being the only member. You have to know how to stand tall even when you are alone. Then the real blessings come. So when the Spirit tells you something, no matter how odd or against the grain it may be... do it.
Man time just flies! It is my 2 month mark today! Can you belive that?!? I will be home in the blink of an eye at this rate. My testimony has been taking enormous strides recently. This Gospel is so true. Period. The Book of Mormon is the word of God, no exceptions. I feel it in my life every single second out here. After my mission, I will continue these habits of daily scripture study and praying so often that the toes of my shoes are worn out faster than the bottoms.
It's spud harvest now, so we are helping on the farms with sorting potatoes and dirt clods. It's really busy, so our teaching has basically been at nothing these past few days, because no one is home. OH! So one cool thing that I've done is we were having a hard time meeting up with our investigators between the ages of 12 and 21, so I decided to get creative with it. I organized a Saturday night football league in our town and the other night 25 people showed up to play and it keeps getting bigger and bigger. At the end of it, we teach a lesson and bear testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel. We have gotten a few PI's from it (potential investigators) and it seems that it will only get bigger at this point. I have also been having a hard time finding people that need the gospel due to the 80% LDS population. So I thought the other night, "where do people go when they are down in the dumps and in need of love who don't have the gospel?" I quickly came to the realization of Bars!!! Yes, a bar, haha. So we have been staying on the same block as a few bars during the day and at dusk and we catch people as they go in. We have scheduled a few return appointments with people who were going to drink but decided not to. This is a great tool, I just have to be careful not to make a drunk person mad. We get them before the go in so they remember it and are sober during our conversation. We are going to continue using this great tool.
I LOVE YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!! MY love for my family has gone through the roof!!! Hope all is well and may you all have joy in everything, especially the blessing of trials. Trust the Lord that he knows what he is doing when he trims your branches. I love you! Have a great week!!! Be safe.