Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas!

It has been snowing here some, and has been pretty cold. I think the snow takes a lot longer to melt here, but maybe I just never realized how slowly the snow melted at home. I am fine though. It was a good week. Now for my notes.

Missions make you love office supplies, like every time we have free time, we just go to the bookstore and look at all of the pens and consider buying journals and stuff like that. 

We heard in a talk about a missionary that was going somewhere and the temple president asked if he knew any Spanish and he said, nervously, I only know one word, "Aloha" there's that.

I finally learned tie clips aren't just if your cloth tag is ripped, but you can clip it into your shirt to prevent it from going in your soup when you stand up.

I haven't received your Christmas package yet, but anything you sent I'm sure is great. It is a little bit different here because I am in prison and can't get a lot of things. But when I am in the field don't send me anything that isn't homemade (not from a box either). You can send me puffed rice balls or cookies if you want or anything I ask for specifically, which might supersede the previous rule. I don't know what I will want when I get there, but I would rather have 1 package of homemade stuff, over like 4 packages of stuff from a box. I heard Tijuana is one of the only places where the mail is decent, so we'll see if packages are okay, I will try and find out and let you know, but if not, dont' worry. I can probably get a lot of the things like candy in Mexico for cheap, especially when I am close to the border, they'll have American stuff, and it would probably cost a lot to send it.

Aunt Celia, I like your idea that if we try to love each other, then the other commandments should fall into place.

Aunt Trudy, I agree about the snow and especially the cold, but  I'm glad that I at least, don't have to drive in it. (Sorry you do). Last P-day everyone had a snowball fight and thought it was really fun, but I didn't because  I am fine with being cold or wet, but not both. 

You all including  Aunt JoLyn are in my prayers. I sometimes pray that one specific family member will be helped  and then I just specifically name a lot of names. "Might as well help them all (including me) while you're at it."

those classes sound awful, but  i'm glad you're enjoying them. Thanks for informing everyone in your classes stuff I can only assume was like that  idon't have multiple wives, just my great-great grandpa. If you do see my family, you can hug each other for me, which might be weird since we don't do extra-family hugs that much...hahah..

One elder had these chocolate chips from Guittard chocolate, they are pretty good, so if you see them, you should give them a shot.

We talked about imperfect tense in my class and it reminded me of Spanish class- Rosalía comía y Ali baba hablaba. Also a funny trick I learned is that  in spanish you can never have le lo, you have to change it to se lo. So, "You can't le lo in Mexico."

We learned about Spanish pig latin called Gerigonza, which is kind of fun. Our teacher said that some people speak it as their first language, and I asked him how that can even happen and he said he doesn't know. But I am still skeptical, maybe you can find out.

The Hi-Chews Josh gave me last week say "Stay Active, eat Hi-Chew!" which is a funny thing to put on candy. 

Mom, I can write a long letter because I take notes all week and then I don't have to think much; that's the secret.

Mom, I brought some single-use shoe shining things, but haven't used them. I bought a kit with 2 polish tins, cloth, brush for 9$ with my allowance and so far have only used it once.

Also, Mom, your use of Spanish at the end of your letter has been noted; Good work! Also, don't bother sending me stuff in Spanish that is google translated anyone, because the spanish characters get lost on DearElder and I can tell usually, and it just takes 3 times as long, and I sometimes get angry because I translate something wrong, then I go back and realize that it is completely a different thing, and so it is just hard. Thanks for trying to help though!

I mostly really like our Branch Presidency. They're pretty reasonable/nice/practical. When I was getting my visa, one sister said hers is really cool and would always tell them to relax when their teachers were crazy and not to worry about a lot of the stuff they say. But some elders said their president and his wife told them they're not Christ-like if their pants don't match their suit coat or chastised them about  matching their socks to their pants (which I think is right anyway) and not their shoes (nothing I wear ever matches hardly). Also, that they have to wear V-neck sweaters even though with the new dress code, which recently happened, round neck (which I have) are fine (as a general guideline from the church).

Okay, I have a couple more things to type about, like my trip to Las Vegas and my flight plans and obedience and stuff, but first I just want to say that I love you guys and Eternal Family, Eternal Family, Eternal Family.

I am thankful that a lot of stuff works out and prayers get answered all of the time. And mostly good things, like having a nice Branch Presidency, happen here. But another example, even though I got up at 5:45 on Saturday and then 3:55 on Monday and 6:00 today, I haven't gotten a migraine yet (also, they are going to give you a migraine Josh, it is not worth anything to have a migraine; I would not accept that money to eat migraine-y fast food and dip my hands in cold water and watch flashing lights and whatever else, but whatever you want). Also, my laundry came out slippery and like twice as heavy as usual, but I just dried it anyways, because I don't have anytime and it took two cycles, but it was alright. Is that okay or will the soap make my clothes wear out?

Anyways, I will tell you about Vegas first, I guess. I got up at 4, so that I could be at the chapel at 4:30, and then I had to wait there for a while for the shuttle bus, which took a bunch of misisonaries to the airport. Then our group of 11 got on a plane after waiting for a while and buying food at the airport McDonalds (speaking of which, sorry to the guy at the register that he said a parfait? when I ordered an oatmeal and then I said yes because it was loud and then made him cancel it later..but who orders parfait at 8 in the morning?). And then we flew to Vegas where this guy picked us up (who is an old man missionary) and we bought food at Del Taco and listened to him talk for 3 hours and then went to Mexico (I hear the consulate counts). and waited and they took our fingerprints and our picture and then put our visa in and then he dropped us off at the airport where we waited for 4 hours and then got home at 10:40. Our travel leader had never flown on an airplane before so that was kind of funny, because he was really excited. I have heard from everyone that the old missionary just made you want to go home and discouraged you. Which some of his stories were awful, about how 40% of return missionaries go inactive (so I just won't bother with that; what percentage of active young men that don't go on missions go inactive is also a valid point) and how this girl from his mission in Peru was inactive because she has a lot of bitterness towards the church because of an engagement she had with a missionary from his mission, so I mean that stuff is hard, but I don't let it discourage me, because at least it was kind of realistic, unlike everything else everyone says, which seems either to put all of the weight on each individual missionary and person, but life is hard and so we shouldn't get down, but just keep trying.

He said a lot of stuff that I kind of agreed with and a lot of stuff that sounded like bologna. He also, said other stuff, like that before a lot of the sister missionaries were coming from dysfunctional or broken homes and how that was a real asset, but now both elders and sisters are kind of naive and how it will be hard with all of the stuff in Mexico. I like that he talked about disfunction as a bonus, kind of, but I don't know if functional families exist. I like ours pretty well though. I want to return to the stuff he said, but I am going to go on for now.

I don't have my final flight plans yet, but I think I will leave Monday morning, so maybe a call to the house at about 7 or 8 and I think it can be for awhile, maybe like 45 minutes, but I will see if there is even any limit on it, but maybe also the middle of the night. Send me a dearelder rightaway if you don't want me to wake you up early in the morning with a call. I have my visa now, so I should be going to Mexico. Also, please make sure that my debit card will work in Mexico (I think you already did, and if so, that is fine). 

Now to obedience, then back to vegas. I believe in obedience, I think. and I actually rebel against just the idea of blind obedience, much more than specific rules. Just because we obery, doesn't mean we don't have to look for reasons why we might need to do that or say reasons why it doesn't completely make sense to us (but then still do it). I think that's completely fine. Speaking of which, it seems like some people here accept anything ANYONE tells them (who is not just a missionary) as a commandment from God (like a Branch presidency member's wife said we couldn't write in sisters' journals like year books, or, we received cleaning instructions for the night we leave, but it will be hard to get to bed on time if we wait until the night before we leave to do it all) and that one missionary said that God always provides a way to do all of His commandments and when we wanted to ask the Pres. of the Branch about the journal writing thing, he called us Martin Harrises. Then someone asked anyway, and he said it was completely fine, that was just a rule form her mission so she tried to enforce it, but they will let us know if it changes. Which none of the people in the above examples even have stewardship to give us God's commandments (unlike our branch president). and even if they did, I don't doubt there are sometimes errors or contradictions (like the book of mormon authors saying if there are mistakes, they are of men). So we should still try to obey and do all of them that we can, but it's okay to ask (maybe not repeatedly, under unchanging circumstances, when you aren't confused and it doesn't conflict with accepted doctrine like Martin Harris, especially when you're presiding authority is the prophet and God, or just to be rebellious). your presiding authority or admit that its impossible or difficult to shower, pack, brush your teeth, and clean the apartment and write in your journal for 15 minutes before 10:30. Sure, if those are commandments, then God will provide a way, but it might be questioning its feasibility and then asking whose in charge if we can go home a little early or do the cleaning another day, earlier. And I don't think God wants us to be depressed about not being exactly obedient. What do you think?

Also, is it wrong to lie to people when they ask if you're doing okay and you are depressed about ruining the group picture, because you forgot your lava-lava and the entire zone remembered, so you had to be in the back and they couldn't even see you so you just didn't bother smiling or looking at the camera, because that is kind of a personal thing, that they can't really change, much. Also, when people are always making comments about how you would be the one to look up to commit suicide in the dictionary (even though the context was that a missionary was using command tense to tell the others to kill themselves and I just wanted to know the appropriate way to say it) or that for serious pictures, not smiling comes naturally to Elder Powell. Why would anyone even say that? Whatever though, don't worry, I felt better after like an hour. I really am pretty happy. 

Okay, I have four minutes left to tell you more about what he said in Vegas. He said that in Mexico a lot of bishops are trying to stop the import of Halloween, because they see how pagan it is and that ancestor worship is a big problem there because of day of the dead where they make the altars and they already have it overlaid with Christianity, so when they are baptized it all makes sense to them along with the genealogy chart. But I think that they should continue to celebrate those things and stuff, as long as they aren't praying or worshipping ancestors. It can be just like a memorial. Same with halloween, as long as we see it as a fun dress-up tradition and don't get interested in the occult, I think its fine. Like Christmas, we still have to remember what's really important. He says he thinks everyone here takes it too lightly though. He also ranted about Socialism some, not that I disagreed, I just thought it was an inappropriate way to do it. He also talked about the irradiated milk there, which I think is good. And how even people in Germany won't drink their water, because they think it's bad, but it's actually okay and a lot of countries have been working on their water systems, but no one believes them. But better safe than sorry. 

He also said stuff, like it's rude to show you have more money than the president gives you and that our companions will already be living well above their lives before, which makes sense. So i will try not to spend too much extra money. He also said not to take pictures in public places, because the armed guards everywhere will freak out, even though it's legal, because its like you think it's a zoo. Also, some elders tried to cut through the parking lot and he got angry and said they were cutting corners and not showing courtesy because they aren't mexican (at consulate) and those weren't their cars, but I consider myself pretty conscience of stuff, and I didn't really think it was that bad, so hopefully my courtesy will be sufficient. It wasn't as bad as everyone acted, even though he spewed a lot of non-doctrine general beliefs. He was a little high strung, but I am not perfect either, even if he almost hit a girl with the van, and was pretty irritating. Hopefully, I can keep remembering that.

I am over again. Love you, talk to you on Monday, I Hope.

Kaden Elder Powell Kaden

Letter written December 3rd, 2013 (Italics added)

Hi Family,

Thanks for all the letters this week. It was really great. I had a much better week this week than last week, so it must be telepathic hugs and prayers or something.

Here is stuff that happened this week:

They have the good honey and real jam (not jelly) at main campus and so I was eating it (since they don't have the good honey here anymore) and it was great. But now they have the good honey here and the bad honey, so i can use my agency to choose the good stuff. All the food is really bad here, an employee here said he thinks it is intentional to account for the weight we will lose from parasites. I think I have gained 3 pounds, maybe, but it is hard to tell how much to subtract for shoes and clothes. 

I like the main campus MTC because of all the people going and coming from different countries. And I look at all the nametags and it is just really striking.

I saw a girl with a dress made out of the same pink and black fabric mom used for those theater dresses, so I will just imagine what they turned out like based on that.

According to Elder Teh of the Seventy, Ammon started his mission in prison (bound and brought before King) and we start ours in the MTC. You can connect the dots.

I can call you from the airport when I fly out, I am not sure on all the logistics, but it costs $5 and I fly out probably the 16th on Monday, so hopefully someone will be home or somewhere. 

I got flight plans to fly out to Mexico on Monday, the 9th, and we thought they might be real because of my initial week delay, but we had to wait for after the holiday weekend to find out. Turns out it was an error, which is good because I don't have my visa yet and I had a conflicting really really tentative flight to the Las Vegas Mexican Consulate for that same day to get my visa, but I have no idea when I am actually going. Hopefully I will get invited there soon.

I was looking at the birthday cards earlier this week and the one that I think was in one birthday package sent from Josh but maybe partly paid for with a credit card (since it says from the family) says that birthdays are great when full of good things. Especially if they have high sugar content. Everything here has high white flour and sugar and fat content, except the lettuce. I ate a yogurt and honey nut cheerios and milk for  breakfast and not  counting the apple, it was 60g of sugar. And, I tried to pick the healthiest and lowest sugar content cereal anyways. Also, I was looking at the other card and, Ben, you're my favorite son, too. I really appreciated that.

Anyone can stay in my room anytime, except hobos or smokers. Or people with bed bugs, because I 'm going to try really hard to not bring those home.

The raisin cookies were really good; the pumpkin cookies (since they were from a mix) were very salty, I might throw them away if my bags are overweight.

If I'm lucky, I get to play the piano for 15 minutes a week if I can get someone to the multi-purpose building with me. I frequently play a song in Priesthood. But it's not enough. I don't know how well I will be able to play when I get back, but I have after I die to work on it.

I'm usually happy, so I guess the MTC is alright. Life is life is life and then you die.

Funny that Mackenzie laughs in her sleep. Also, Mom and Dad always spell her name differently from each other, but they're both consistent. You can figure out how to do it before she can read and come to a consensus.

I saw a sister Crapo at main campus. (Dave's mother's maiden name in case you are wondering)

I have from a reliable source (the conductor announced it at a devotional) that 'Come Thou Fount' will be in the next hymnbook and that it used to not be popular until it was rearranged.

Something our teacher told us was to focus every single message on Christ. Like Christ called Joseph Smith as a prophet and translated the Book of Mormon through him instead of Joseph smith was a prophet who translated the Book of Mormon. I think that is right and I wish everyone would do that.

There are more sisters in our zone than elders right now, but until a week before we came, there were none. They have a controlling vote.

At Thanksgiving, we heard Russell M. Nelson live: Enduring to the end includes the ENDowment. Also: Having character is more important than being one.
We also assembled a bunch of soup meals. Like 350,208 for kids here in Utah that can't afford enough meals for the week.

Hermana Smith is way better at the piano than me, and I was feeling really bad because she can play every song I can, plus tons of ones I have never played. But it turns out that she has that thing where she can hear what note it is that someone plays. And the pitch of every sound. I think it is genetic, because her niece and sister can do it too and when she was little she thought everyone could do it. So she can play lots of songs after just hearing it once. Because it is genetic, I think it's important for my children that my wife has that ability, but I don't have any desire to marry anyone right now, or anyone I know right now. So hopefully someone else I meet after my mission has that. She was really patient with us though, playing every song we could sing or think of on the piano.

Elder Hesterman says that Zelda dungeon has a bunch of easy and good zelda sheet music for piano. He is pretty good, even though he quit in 6th grade, because he just played for fun all the time.

At the thanksgiving day program, someone played a harry potter song on the piano.

I think that it is easier to understand Christ's suffering if we just think of our own or the pioneers or something and then magnify it, because it gives us a better reference point. I don't really know what the Atonement or Crucifixion were like. So that is better I think.

They said you would be happy to hear some Spanish, so I will type some random stuff for you. No estoy completamente seguro de lo que les gustaría oír. Es probable que Josh o Ben puedan traducer esto por ustedes, pero en realidad no digo nada importante nunca. (I'm not entirely sure what they would like to hear. Expected to be Josh or Ben translating this for you, but not really say anything important ever). Anyways, Elder Hesterman found a verb in the dictionary that is enchilar, or to add chili to. There are a lot of useful verbs like that.

Thanks for the Riesens, I got them Tuesday. Also thanks for the packages, love and also life.

Why would mom be getting heat for writing me a letter?

I tried to get my companion to do exactly what you described, mom, and tell him (the pretendagator) we are here to help and would love to serve him or discuss gospel principals with him and just to let us know when he is ready and stop trying so hard to teach him, but things are going better with him (the pretendagator) and he (companion) acted really serious like we would never do that, but if you have a lot of investigators and some are not progressing, that happens in real life I think. He is based on a real investigator that our teacher had on his mission, and so I guess maybe if people are friendly in some places, you just keep teaching them. Which is good, patience is a Christ-like attribute.

Our teacher also said that life is like Pokemon in that we should look for the opportunity to grow from challenges, like the gym leaders, and that we would never improve if we just fought Caterpies. 

Apparently in Argentina they think they speak a language different from Spanish, like Castellano is actually a different language. We had a substitute teacher who was from Argentina and she kept saying that we needed to get out our Libro de Mormon in Castellano and we were like "Oh, is this a different book from the Spanish one" it's not. But I guess all the other countries think it is pretty. Whatever though, I think it is just interesting.

A sister in our district's mom sent us all in our district lava-lavas, or those cloth polynesian skirt things. I am going to send her a thank you letter, because they're cool, even though we can only wear them at home. They used to live in American Samoa and there is some story about their village that they fed some old woman and child (because their town really didn't and that was super rude) first during a famine and they turned into a shark and turtle and protect the island to say thank you. And if someone with Virtroli blood sings on the cliffs then the turtle and shark appear and she says she has seen her mom do it a bunch.

Here's something from a talk: God so loved the world that He sent his sons and daughters (to be missionaries or to help each other or anyone else in a bunch of capacities, just not in the same way as the Savior). 

We watched a video of Elder Bednar and he gave a really good talk about feeling the spirit. I will try and return and give more details about it if I have time...... Alright, back to here. The first story was about when he (Elder Bednar?) was a missionary and Elder Packer came to their mission and he (Elder Bednar?) put him (Elder Packer?) on a train to East Germany. Anyway he (Elder Bednar?) didn't remember or know why, but he gave him 20 marcs for food and they had to end up using it to pay off a guard because East Germany wouldn't accept his wife's passport. Elder Bednar didn't even remember or know it was the spirit. 

Also, when he was stake president, Elder Bednar wanted to leave the stake priesthood leadership meeting early with an elder's quorum president to see their sons' basket ball game two hours away. He didn't know if he was rationalizing, and his wife thought he was, but he did it. And then 6 months later the other kid died and his dad told him how important it was that he saw that game to him because it was his last chance to see one with his son playing. Anyway, he said not to worry about whether things are the spirit or not, because generally we just don't know. Just keep your covenants and commandments and have faith and we won't go amiss. I like that a lot. You can see it too if you read that chapter about Abish (which I found out the next day) and Ammon paying attention to her actions or also Laban and Nephi (he suggested). Cool, huh?

He also told us that you wouldn't think Elder Oaks was funny, but it is just because Gen. Conference isn't the appropriate place, when they are telling the will of God. He says he loves to tell the story of a man whose life was saved by a pocket BoM. He got shot and the bullet stopped at Isaiah, but really I like Isaiah, since my book of mormon class. He says Elder Oaks can barely get the story out because he laughs so much anticipating the laughter, he also told us some other funny stories. I used to think he was boring, but Bednar is cool.

Companions are your mandatory best friend and we usually get along decently, but I think we might have a much harder time if there weren't all these other missionaries here,  but we mostly are fine. Fights or anything are really rare. We definitely don't always agree, but we get by. He did me a favor and sent me a picture of us in our lava-lavas so I will try and forward it to you. I love you, and I am doing fine, just keep praying (this part seems like the end, because this is where I stopped typing, so it is in time wise). Love you love you love you. Eternal family, eternal family, eternal family, if you remember.

I'm excited you found my Christmas sock, Where was it?

I don't know about getting to the point where I won't feel bad about breaking the little rules. There are a couple quotes I have heard: Like, Obedience brings blessings; exact obedience brings blessings and that when obedience becomes a quest instead of an irritant, then we are endowed with power from on high. I have been thinking about that, and I think that it means that you try to keep all the little rules (and the big ones as well) and if you aren't able to do all of them absolutely or they would interfere with the work, then you try to live the spirit the best you can. Because I can't see God wanting us to have crippling anxiety or depression over  it. What think ye?

As far as innocent jokes like Josh said, they always talk about us being representatives of Christ, and so I think that jokes are okay for sure (like josh said about the quails coming out of their noses when the Israelites wanted meat) I think potty jokes are mostly okay, as long as they aren't too explicit. But I could see some of those things convincing people that we aren't representing Christ and aren't his messengers. Because sometimes appearance is important, that is why we have such a strict dress code. What think ye?

I always clean a larger share of things in our apartment than the other guys, and last week we got a perfect cleaning inspection (which doesn't happen) except someone left a light on, and the same this week. But I am just trying to look at it as serving others. It is fine though, I just clean two mirrors, two sinks, and the toilet and sometimes superficially the tub. It isn't so bad. Some manual labor to offset the study, like Bro. Stewart and Mom say, i think.

I write in the journal Matt and Lindsay gave me for my birthday everyday. So thanks!

Even at the holidays, I am not that homesick, but I love you and miss you all. Probably it will be worse in the field. I heard some Harry Potter music and it made me think of Christmas and homesickness; it must be because you were watching Harry Potter (telepathy). It helps also when you tell me how tired and short everyone is with each other (which holiday is complete without that).

Also, thanks for assuring me that you aren't watching any new shows or movies I might like, Dad, you know that is important to me.

Glad to hear about the show turning out well and you donating all those costumes!

Good to hear that Josh saved Thanksgiving with his sense of humor ->that is the kind of thing that makes me homesick, because it is actually your personalities, but it is not severe homesickness, so don't worry, Mom.

I like hearing how much everyone is visitng back and forth, because I think that family is really important and that is great!

Thanks for the letter, Grandma! The Spanish is sure improving. I hope the farewell party decorations will still be up when I get home (but really take them down if you want; don't let me inconvenience you).

Love you all. I try to remember you in my prayers, when I don't selfishly forget. It's been a good week, it has actually been really good (it is snowing today also, we'll will get 5 inches or something and then tomorrow, single digits). I will write to you next week and look forward to your letters! Also, I will tell you if I figure out more about the phone card, I will probably ask the week before I leave because I am not even sure how to use it.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Written Nov. 19, 2013

Merry Christmas Family,

It was really good to get all of your letters (we can pick mail up everyday, but it doesn't deliver on Sunday or the end of Saturday and we can only open it at night).

The packages were awesome (although I don't know if I have as much confidence in the USPS as you guys to send a pomegranate). I also got one with a card ambiguously signed from "The Family" (Omega Man?) with creamed honey and cinnamon rolls and some good stuff. That one was cool too. Now I have a lot of honey and probably enough treats for the rest of the MTC. We partied hard with the stuff you sent me for like 20 minutes and then threw all the party stuff away.

I will be here for 6 weeks no matter what  I do (unless I get sent home). Also, Josh is writing a book called "Harry Potter y la Piedra filosofal", that's what I was talking about Dad.

That alarm clock is working alright, but the first two days it reset after the alarm went off, but it has been fine since.

I was wondering if Josh could also write a song called something like "The American Way: Do a Half-Baked Job". I just have the idea for the approximate title. 

Also, for my next birthday, could you include a package of heavy duty gallon bags, I don't think I really need it yet, but perhaps I can buy it in mexico, so never mind. I will tell you when I get there if I still want that.

I realized that straight is the path and narrow the gate or whatever isn't really about not very many people making it into heaven, but actually I decided it is about that some things you absolutely have to do (like baptism and such) and so that is the narrowness of it, not like people are falling off.

I don't get any sun during gym because it is either late at night or early in the morning. Also, running isn't fun because we just get to run in a big circle around the parking lot and I hate running in the cold. 

Reading Josh's book is hard because any Spanish letters become question marks and dearelder seems to randomly print stuff occasionally, which makes it hard to put things together.

Also, I wanted to remind you to print all my e-mails and keep them for me in a binder or something. Also, make sure not to lose the pictures I send you so I can delete them if it gets full (although I am not sure if that will work, because it is being pretty stupid)

I am amazed that anyone liked that video, because I looked like a total rook. I also am kind of a sloppy missionary, because  I decided that if I am going to wear a suit, I am not going to iron my shirts (which look better than when I took them out of the bag anyways)

Josh, find out when Patrick Hammer gets here, so I can make sure to see him if its at the same time, if you could.

Also, I had the question of whether people who don't eat any animal eat marshmallows or jello at all or very much? Does it make them sick?

There isn't really much time to shower here, especially on some days, but it happens somehow.

It has been snowy and rainy here a couple times, but usually pretty nice.

They had pho here once, but it was really awful. An asian cafeteria girl played some sort of instrument during it,  but just like the food, they put her away before long, because we always eat last of all the zones. It is kind of annoying.

They give us filter bottles here, but we won't be able to get them for a couple of weeks because they sent all of ours to the Philippines, that is okay though.

They have soup here a lot and so they have pretty good minestrone sometimes and they've had white chicken chilli and clam chowder, which are all decent. Also they have killer chicken noodle soup which is like the peak of soup that you can mass produce, similar to the soup mom makes, but not nearly as good. Still, I like it.

Someone told me the cake was good enough that it was cake for people who don't like cake. Falso.

This week it was really hard to keep some of the rules. Like specifically, we have to stay in the classroom and plan until 9:25, even if we're done, so we just waste a bunch of time, usually, instead of going home and showering. But, after struggling with that you need to obey the Commandments of the Lord and then thinking about how everyone here is always saying you shouldn't waste the Lord's time, so why should we not go home, I finally just decided that the leaders are the lord's servants, and so now we just mess around and talk, and it is dumb, but oh well.

One elder's mom sent him a Chia pet and it is supposed to take 6 weeks to be done, so we will know when it is close by how long its hair gets.

Do you know any cardio-type exercises I can do in an apartment besides jumping jacks, which hurt my ankles?

I think I had a dream about puffed rice balls, maybe. Also, I ate some oreos andd then discovered they are each others antithesis. In that puffed rice balls don't make your teeth black and they actually don't make you feel sick afterwards.

My right buttock is always the one that gets injured when I run, and then I sometimes can't walk. But I don't think it is ever the left. What is wrong with me? Also, my upper small of my back hurts all the time, I think it might be from sitting at a desk, but  I am not sure.

One elder in my district had some cheap scriptures spiral bound at Kinko's. I thnk I might do that when I get back or if I lose my scriptures. 

We aren't teaching Antonio anymore, but we got invited to a pretend lunch at his house, so that would hypothetically be nice. Our teacher that was playing him told us that he was a real investigator and that after 6 months he finally got baptized and now has a testimony of the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith. So anything can happen, but that is really cool.

I don't know if I will get my visa. Two others elders in my district are going to Las Vegas soon to get theirs and some of the older missionaries never got theirs before they left. But then again one missionary just got his and he sent his stuff in when he got here, so you never know I guess.

My companion asked how Christ could have begun a new dispensation if John the Baptist and Nephi at the same time had the priesthood, but I think it depends on your definition of the dispensation and apostasy. It is unclear if they had all the keys in America. And apostasy doesn't always have to be complete apostasy either, it can be with just one person. Additionally, one elder said his book of mormon teacher said it was a return to the higher law. Also Preach my Gospel says a dispensation is a period headed by prophetic responsibility, so even you could say we've had a bunch of smaller dispensations in this last one. I am satisfied with that though, but he thinks he's found the unanswerable question.

In England they say Z, "zed" not "zee"...Crazy, huh? Also, they call it hoovering, not vaccuuming.

I sleep pretty well here usually. Sometimes I am a little cold and last night I didn't sleep well, but it was okay.

One elder was jokingly trying to convince my companion that America was better and my companion (which I think this was all in good humor, both of them) said that his last name was Lopez and that he couldn't be American. It is pretty messed up. Like he doesn't even know what America is about. 

According to this sometimes pretty irritating missionary whose dad and brother in law went to colorado, they eat rocky mountain oysters there all the time because "it is a nice meal to serve to Missionaries". I have tried to tell people like 15 times that they half of the times were probably doing it partly to mess with them unless they were in a ranch-like rural area, but no one listens. They think that we eat them all the time everywhere in Colorado. He also said when we were singing Put Your Shoulder to the Wheel in Spanish during our planning time (not planning, but not going home either). That he hated to be that kid, but that these hymns were sacred and that we should keep that in mind. It is like the least sacred hymn I can't think of this instant, and it says with energy. Also, I am usually the stubborn one. We were just singing it really loud and having fun, but oh well.

Here's one for dad that I heard in a talk: Substitute "meetings" for "things" in the 13th Article of Faith. In the same talk I also heard that wickedness never was happiness also goes the other way around that righteousness never was misery,  and I like that.

It is cloudy here today. 

I really like reading all your letters. Good luck at Hairspray, Ben. Congratulations again, Matt and Lindsay (sorry you had to wait so long . Thanks for you letter too, Dad (you always have good stuff to say), I always really like reading them all. Good to know htat you will eventually write me, Josh.

I am probably going to try to send some pictures just to mom, because it will only let me send them one at a time and I don't have much e-mail time left. She can put them on the blog maybe.

Love you guys! 

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Email sent 11/12/13

Hi mom and dad and ben and aaron and josh and lindsay and matt and baby and other family and friends,

Sorry if my letter is out of order, I just jotted down thoughts and want to tell them to you and I wrote them down. Firstly, Ben should take Team Sports, it is the second easiest, but not as shameful as if he took the class where they just write essays about being physically fit. 

Just so it is on my blog, I can't accept letters from any girls in or near my mission boundaries, so that is the reason that I am not responding to letters from some people I know at BYU.

It was cool to get all of your letters. They sometimes break them up, but sometimes combine them, so I think I have gotten like 12 sheets of paper each folded into their own rectangle. Everyone was like "why is he getting so many letters?" and then I read them Lindsay's thing. Also everyone thought Josh's book was a great idea to send in letters. 

I appreciated Ben writing me since he is so busy, too. To hear about my favorite TV shows, its almost like I am still at home.

To answer Lindsay's question, there is no tree of life here or at the main campus (I am at west like you guys asked) anymore. We shower with the door unlocked, so people can wash their faces and shave and stuff because we barely have any time, but its alright because we have a curtain.

I love seeing people I know from BYU, even though it is weird to live in Wyview (although now its 6 people in one apartment, three bedrooms, instead of three and two bedrooms). So far, I have seen Kayli and Madison and Elder Crawford and also Camille. Speaking of which, I got those Reeses from the Creamery. Thanks, Josh!

There isn't a lot of time to eat the food you send, because it is not allowed in a lot of places, but sometimes I have barely enough time to eat a puffed rice ball before a quick shower and bed. On P-days (tuesday) I will try to get in to play piano, but my companion doesn't want to do that I think. Mostly just sit in our apartment and do nothing.

My foot is still messed up. I think there might already be warts where he treated those big ones, but I am just going to ignore it until they seem healed, because I don't want to kill the skin that just filled in. Does that seem like a good idea? Its just so frustrating. 

Food is more like in a temp. than in a bubble. They have bubbles for gym class, but they aren't done, even though they were supposed to be finished in April. So we do gym outside in the parking lot and play four square and basketball and volleyball. They have ice cream and I think you can have one a day. They have fudge bars usually and orange dream and strawberry, but not very many. Sometimes they have ice cream sandwiches and once they had BYU ice cream, but it runs out really fast. The food ranges from good to okay, but once they had breakfast with this meaty, oatmealy thing on it, that seemed like bacon, but was not. That was hard to do. 

Something funny that someone told me is if you accidentally have an investigator read 3 Nephi 3:7 instead of in 1 Nephi, so you can look that up.

The weather here has actually been really sunny, although its cold during the night and morning. 

My companion is Elder Craggs. He is going to Denver North and is from England. He is pretty alright!

Otherwise in my district are Elders Smalley and Hesterman (it turns out his brother is marrying the girl that I home taught over the summer...she'll remember me if he says the worst home teacher) who are going to Tijuana too and theyre pretty cool. I've met like 6 people I thinkish going to Tijuana. Elder Smalley told me his friends cousins bike got stolen the first time he parked it somewhere in tijuana. So I hope that doesn't happen to me. Also they give you filter water bottles for your mission here, so  Iwill have to see if I can get one (free I think) they are back-ordered right now. And Elders Hulme and Christiansen (Mitt Romney is in his ward, or one of his houses is) who are going to Argentina. 

I cleaned both sinks and two mirrors and swept and was like alright you guys (you're supposed to say elders) (5 people) can vaccuum and take out the trash. I kind of doubt they will do it. But I guess it is not the worst. Also, we went to change our laundry during service time (which is cleaning empty classrooms) which we aren't supposed to do. So as much as a companion protects you, they also can force you to break the rules sometimes, like turning the lights off and other stuff. Later, we are going to do some other stuff and then go to the Temple and dinner at the main campus. 

The MTC so far is okay. We study for like 8 hours everyday and it gets pretty boring. We don't spend as much time studying Spanish as I thought we would have to.  My companion said most people are immature on the outside and deep on the inside. 

I am sick and have had a runny nose and now I have a cough. I guess I will have to go into the health center soon. It might also be because they make us stay up and get up and play four square in the morning (they don't have four square in Britain apparently and we had to explain it to my companion). 

We teach a pretend investigator or pretend-igator named Antonio, which is fine. But even though I can understand his Spanish, we can't solve his problems. We don't know if we should avoid them or make every lesson about them until he feels they are resolved. He's like "I don't feel anything when I read the book of Mormon or think Joseph Smith is a prophet" And his wife is a member, but he dislikes all the other members because they're lazy and hypocrites and think it is more important the longer you are a member. And he won't read anymore. He thinks Jesus is the Christ, but I asked him to read the bible and the Book of Mormon together, but he said he won't. It is frustrating, because he is not making any progress.

I don't know if I will get my visa in time but it isn't completely based on when you sent it in, we found out from the district that just went to Mexico. A couple people have to go to Ogden, which sounds lame, but a cafeteria worker said he had to and it was awesome because you have tons of baptisms and people love you and an old man gave some missionaries 40 dollars once, and crazy stuff. So that would be okay. Something someone told me is that we shouldn't take solid poop for granted, and that will give me a couple more weeks of that I hope. 

Everyone here is better at feeling the Spirit than me and always talks about how it was so strong, or they are just less precise about their vocabulary or it is a relative thing. I don't think its bad to not feel the Spirit as long as you (some kind of verb) the Spirit. And I feel (but in an intellectual non-emotional matter-of-fact way)  that the Church is true, I think. But it is just frustrating when people are like, you have to rely on the Spirit so much. And it seems more like to me that it is less of exterior thing and the spirit is more like something that is integral to you, so maybe it never seems like the spirit, but just seems like me, because its knows how I am and matches that attitude and personality. 

Also, we were talking about being on are mission (I don't talk that much, so mostly everyone else) when you feel you aren't worthy and how everything you do you would have a nagging feeling that you aren't supposed to be here or whatever. But, at least for me, I think that I will always have that, no matter what. maybe time will change that, but  I decided that that is part of faith, and so if I have done all the necessary steps and feel sincere about them or a Priesthood leader says that I am good to go, I think you just have to have faith in the Atonement everytime you feel badly about yourself and your inadequacies, even if they are in the past. Maybe my ideas are not mainstream enough though, because I think they tend to be more practical. Like we were talking to our investigator and I told him that his testimony doesn't have to be based off of Joseph Smith (because he was saying how everyone acts like he is the most important thing in our church) and then take all the other principles associated with that for granted. Because I think it makes more sense for it to be different, like you see the fruits and so then you think Joseph Smith was a prophet. Like I see how the gospel has blessed my family or how I am happier with it and then I think that that must mean he was some kind of Prophet. 

I am not the senior companion (it was alphabetical) or anything else. Which is fine, I guess, but I have a lot of pride and so it made me feel inadequate kind of, but I guess I can work on that. 

They want me to get my Priesthood Line of Authority, but I thought you weren't supposed to do that anymore, so if you could you can type it in a letter. 

I think we go back to our apartment (barely on the north side of wyview on the raintree side) at about 9:30 every night. Frequently in the mornings we have gym in the parking lot of our half of wyview. Also, on sundays, we go to the south field of wyview and take pictures at noon and a little after, i think. Oh yeah, that reminds me, I haven't taken any pictures yet, because I feel like there is nothing to see, maybe one of the other missionaries could send me some, but I guess maybe I will take some...I am just evil and don't feel that close to anyone, even though they are like "I feel like I have known you guys forever". I will keep trying though. 

I have only ten minutes left to email you guys (or rather brothers and sisters....) so lets see what else I can think of....I sleep on the top bunk and shower at night, because I am nice. I will keep trying to be better and more patient...with myself,  I am not sure that I have a spiritual enough personality to be that model missionary.

They say everyone gains weight here in the cafeterias, but I just eat one plate of whatever they give me and then sometimes fruit or soup or salad. And I have had sprite and hot chocolate once each And ice cream 3 or 4 times I think. 

Our branch meetings are allegedly all in Spanish, but they just mean the hymns and prayers and missionary talks that are 3 minutes long, all by english-speakers. Only 5 more weeks in the MTC. 

Don't worry about me, because I am not depressed ( i guess that is a miracle) just sick and sometimes bored and very occasionally feel lonely (and more frequently than that a little irritated, but mostly okay). I only have 6 minutes left

Sorry if this letter was self-centered. I think maybe that is just how I am sometimes....if you want me to respond more to what you said in your letters, tell me...there will probably be less to say next week anyways. 

I love you guys and miss you! I hope you like my letter and that I responded to everything that you wanted me to.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Here are a lot of the pictures from my Open House Farewell. It was really great to see everyone, so thanks for coming! If you want better copies of the pictures, you can e-mail my parents or I did upload them to Facebook if you are my friend.