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.