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.