Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to everyone back home! We're all a day late on our emails here because all of the libraries were closed yesterday haha. Man Christmas was great though, it was awesome getting to skype with my family yesterday. The connection was great for the most part, skype is such an awesome thing haha. Thank you to everyone that sent me packages or letters this past week though. I will be able to write everyone back soon to thank you all a little more personally but thank you guys all so much for that! This week has been kinda tough to set up much appointments with people though, like everybody has been out of town so we went and knocked on a lot of doors haha. Not a ton of luck there but we did have a really cool experience. We were driving through a neighborhood and I could have sworn that I knew where I was going but sure enough I made a couple of turns and got pretty dang lost back in the roads haha and so I just turned to Elder Hanson and was like "Uh so I have no idea where we're at right now, thought we were heading the right way but I guess not" and so he responded "Well one thing I've learned on my mission so far is that if you get lost, more often than not you're wherever you ended up lost at for a reason, so let's get out and knock some doors" and sure enough we stopped the car and started knocking on some peoples doors and the third one we knocked on was a Filipino family that used to take the missionary lessons back in the Philippines and they were super excited to see us and want us to come back after the holidays! So we'll be heading over to their house tomorrow night haha. I'll definitely always remember that when I'm lost that means that there's probably someone nearby who needs to talk to us haha. Christmas Eve was nice, we spent it at the Bishops house in our ward and they got us some sweet presents that included beanies from Rockefeller new york, where the big tree's at; some peanut brittle, and a box of those chocolate hazelnut ball things that have the gold foil on the outside, I'm not a big fan of them, haha but Elder Hanson likes them and it was still nice of them, to get them for us haha. Our Christmas dinner was The Receptions in our ward from the Philippines and man they cooked some really good roast beef and some pretty good quail eggs that I was a little nervous to try haha but they ended up not being too bad. We had planned on going to DC yesterday for P-Day but that kinda fell through so no luck there, but maybe next week haha. Well I hope everyone had a merry Christmas! It was awesome to hear from you guys!

Letter from December 19th

Man It's hard to believe that it's almost Christmas already! Time is starting to go by pretty quick out here haha. This past week was pretty rough as far as meeting with people goes. It seemed like everybody was dodging us for the most part. But three members of the Campbell family who we started teaching came to church with us so that was sweet! Crazy that they've had the missionaries coming over to their house since 2005 and they hadn't been to church once haha but now they have! We are going to head over to their house this week to see what they thought of it but while they were there they seemed to really enjoy it. The dad, Ron, said he wants us to come over either tonight or tomorrow night so he can talk to us about it so that's a good sign for sure haha. Man thanks to everyone for the Christmas packages and letters so far though! I've been waiting to open them until Christmas haha I'm really excited for that. My watch broke this week though! I'm not sure what happened to it. I went to bed one night and then I woke up the next morning and the seconds hand just freezes randomly now so by the end of the day its like 3 hours behind haha. But we found a family in our ward who is going to let us use their home to skype call on Christmas! They didn't tell us what time to come over but I imagine it'll be sometime after our church ends on Sunday which will be about 12 our time. We got invited to some other members house for Christmas dinner too so that should be alot of fun. They are a Filipino family so of course they are always very generous to us haha I think that's just a natural Filipino thing haha. Christmas eve we are going to the bishops house for dinner too so that should be alot of fun. Our ward has really started to give us alot more support lately so that's good haha. We have had people signed up for dinner most nights now haha. We had a White elephant gift exchange with our zone today though, that was quite a bit of fun haha. I found a sweet porcelain statue of a cat at goodwill for like 4 bucks that made a sweet gift haha. One of the sister missionaries in our zone ended up getting it haha. I got a bit bucket of pretzel sticks for my gift haha it should last me quite awhile. Elder Hanson has been down with the flu quite a bit this week so we've been giving him some extra time to rest in the mornings and I read a really sweet book I found in our apartment by Henry Eyring. It's called reflections of a scientist (I guess he was a very well known lds scientist, he's President Eyring's grandpa) and it talks alot about how he believes that science and the Gospel actually compliment each other and build faith rather than clash with one another. He had alot of good points about the creation and prophets and things. It was a great book haha. I've also been learning how to sew a bit because the seams underneath my pockets have been starting to tear and Elder Hansons last companion was like an expert on sewing so he's been teaching me how to do it haha. The lessons we were able to get in with our investigators this week though have gone really well. Our area is really progressing great, it's just hard to schedule times to meet with people during this time of the year. So we've been knocking alot of doors and man the odds are really against us there haha they say 1 in every 1000 doors you knock on will let you in and 1 out of every 100 people that let you in will ask you to come back again haha. So basically we have like a 1 in 10,000 chance of finding someone to teach by knocking on their door haha but that doest stop us one bit haha. Well that about wraps it up for the week. I hope everybody has a merry Christmas and I'll talk to you all next Monday.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

McLean VA

Shellie's present for Elder Gronning

Merry Christmas to Elder Gronning from Shellie. She made the bow in her Fashion class at school. So cute!  Going out in the mail today in our 3rd box of Christmas goodies to Cody.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Transfer Week

Man it's been a crazy day here in McLean! I almost didn't get to email because our office was having some internet issues and it took the local library a bit to get me a library card so I could log in here so I don't have very much time this week unfortunately. But things have really picked up here as far as missionary work goes. I stayed here in McLean 2nd Ward but I got a new companion and he's really cool. His name is Elder Hanson and hes from West Jordan, so that's pretty cool haha. We get along really well, it seems like we have pretty similar personalities from what I can tell so far haha. So it should be a pretty sweet transfer. We've gotten some great work done already though. We just started teaching a lady in the ward's 19 year old daughter and she has accepted the invite to be baptised on January 21st so that's awesome. They are a really cool family. They are from Chile and used to live with and work for a super rich lady in our ward but she recently died of a heart attack (she was pretty old, like 90's) so they just moved into an apartment in the ward and we've been helping them move all their stuff over. We also have started teaching a guy named Calvin who used to be a local chef and loves to make us awesome food haha. We also found a guy named Keagan who lives in a huge mansion with his girlfriend. He's like 26 but he's super loaded somehow haha. He was telling us how much of a deal his house was because it only cost him $1 million dollars... The houses around it are all 17-20 million dollar homes. These people have so much money!!! I'll have to take a picture in front of some of the houses here so you guys can see how crazy rich these people are haha. We got to go watch a soccer game this past Saturday too so that was pretty cool haha. We met this family with the last name Campbell and they've been having the missionaries come over since 2005 and they really haven't been taught anything so far according to what they said and what the records the elders before us kept said. But they invited us out to their 13 year old sons soccer game and said they'd come to church with us if we went haha (we would have loved to have gone either way) and man those kids are crazy at soccer. There is a lot of foreign families who live in the area so most of the kids seemed like they must have been raised on soccer because man their footwork was insane haha. We got some great grocery shopping done today though, we had a lady in our ward give us a $100 gift card to Giant, which is the main grocery store chain here, so we got a ton of food. We should be set for the transfer haha. Man I'm already out of time though!!! I only had like 10 minutes tonight so I was typing pretty frantically haha so try to ignore any typos that might have gotten mixed in haha. Hopefully I'll have more time to write back next week so I can respond to some other emails too haha.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Pictures from my first area- McLean VA

Elder Gronning(wearing my new Trump tie I bought on Monday with some money I saved from being smart & cheap with my food purchases) and Elder Campbell

My side of the room

My desk

Kitchen and laundry room. That is a washer hooked to the sink.

Living Room

Missionary Food-my section on the pantry

Monday, December 5, 2011

Man What A Week!

Man it's been a crazy week for us here. We have everything but success it seems like haha. Ulises' dad had to sign for him to get baptised and he doesn't live with his dad or really talk to him much. So we went over to ask him to sign it and he said it would be totally fine but he would have to talk to Ulises about it first to make sure it was something he really wanted to do and he said he would go talk to him later that night... Well he did that 3 days in a row so finally Ulises just went over there to ask his dad about it and his dad completely flipped. He told Ulises that we're not allowed to meet with him anymore, he can't come with us to church anymore, and he said that Ulises will become a Catholic instead because that's what his family has always been (non-practicing Catholics though, they haven't been to church in years...). So that was kind of a bummer, and we had two other investigators drop us this week as well. It's just been a rough week for investigators I guess. But the work moves on haha. We will find more people to share the Gospel with. We ran into a couple people that want us to come by sometime this upcoming week though so hopefully we can find some people to teach that way haha. It hasn't been too bad weather-wise this week though, so that's a plus. I'm really not minding winter so far haha. This upcoming week is transfers already! I'm thinking I'll probably stay in this area but my trainer says that both people he's trained before me have either gotten transferred or he has gotten transferred after the first transfer of their training haha, so who knows. But just in case I'd send any mail or packages this upcoming week to the mission home address so that it doesn't get stuck here at this apartment, because the people who will be staying here if I get transferred will have no idea where to send the stuff to to get it back to me. Thanks to everyone for the emails this past week though. It was great to hear that Clay and Gracie did so awesome at their races this past week. That was really cool to see them in the newspaper haha. Oh man another plus side to this past week was we had a Cafe Rio open up in our area and we went there for lunch after our Tuesday district meetings and man it was awesome! I had never been there before but man it was dang good haha. And it was taco Tuesday so it was super cheap haha. I'm doing really good at this whole budgeting thing so far haha. I eat pretty cheap stuff for the most part. Ramen, peanut butter toast, and personal pizzas haha, my three usual foods haha. I've actually put on a little bit of weight according to the scale in our apartment though, I already don't fit into my brown pin stripe suit pants anymore haha. But I don't really look or feel bigger so I'm not really sure whats up haha. We did get permission to listen to a Christmas Radio station now though haha, It's so nice getting a brake from just listening to hymns and general conference talks in the car haha. But the Christmas station has a total of like 15 songs they play and most of them aren't even traditional Christmas songs haha, just Christian rock group/boy band things that aren't very good haha. Well hopefully I'll have some good new people we are teaching to tell you guys about next week haha.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pictures from Cody's Mission President

President & Sister Albright with all the new missionaries.

Elder Gronning and his trainer Elder Campbell

Monday, November 28, 2011

2 Thanksgiving dinners and 26 Homemade Pies!

Man this past week flew by! We had a good thanksgiving on Thursday though. We ate dinner with the Bean family and man they made a ton of food! They are a pretty big family in general plus they had three other families over plus us and our roomates so it was quite a big shindig. They made some really good food though. For some reason I got put in charge of carving the turkey though, even though I told them I'd never done that before and it sounded by their description like it was probably one of the most important things that happens in prep for a thanksgiving dinner haha. But they said I did pretty dang good at it so all is well haha. We got a whole bunch of left overs too so our fridge is super stuffed right now and that's a score for sure. We got pretty lucky and got invited to a second thanksgiving dinner on Friday night too haha. We ate with the Chandler family and it turns out they do thanksgiving on the day after thanksgiving every year so their kids don't have to fight with the inlaws and no matter what they can always be together for thanksgiving haha. They were really nice and it turns out their family is really big into pies. There was a total of 26 homemade pies brought by everyone! Man they were good too! They gave us 2 full pie tins of misc. pie pieces to take home too as well as a box of other stuff that was leftover from the dinner. We should be set for awhile haha. No baptism this weekend though so that was kind of a big bummer. Ulises ended up getting held up out of town with his family so he couldn't make it on Saturday. So it's going to be moved to this upcoming Saturday and he's still very excited for it so that's a score for sure haha. It's been a really nice week weather-wise though, it's been blue skies every day but I guess we should be hitting winter before too long everyone keeps telling us haha. I figured out how I should be able to send pictures back through email though but I just plugged in my camera to the computer and it ran out of batteries... so I guess I'll just have to send these ones in the mail today haha. It was good to hear everyone had good thanksgivings this past week though. I got some really great homemade stuff from my mom that was delicious haha. But some really great news from this past week is I talked to President Albright about Granny and Pa stopping by here on their way back from Russia and he said that they can! That's going to be awesome! He said we'll be able to talk about the details of it as it gets a little bit closer but I'll definitely get to see them! I can't wait for that haha.

Email from last week to Mom

Mom-Thanks for the email and the Scentsy! My roomates are really enjoying having some sweet scents going in the apartment haha. Man those cupcakes are an interesting combination haha how did they taste? I'm a little nervous about Thanksgiving this week though, we're eating with this family in our ward that is just all sorts of crazy, their family is huge haha and they have invited like 10 other people over for dinner including us so it should be interesting haha. I'm sure we'll have some good food though. We do have a washer and dryer in our apartment though so that's really nice. They are both in our kitchen haha and the washer has to be hooked up to the sink to work, I've never seen anything like that before haha. Things are going good here though. I only could buy one sweater at Burlington last week because we had a mid P-day appointment that a lady wanted us to go visit with her and Mondays are her only open day so we only were at Burlington for like 10 minutes haha, we're going back today though. I'm doing well on money though, I don't think I've had to use my bank card from home for hardly anything, I'm doing a pretty good job of budgeting on the money they give us every month haha. Ramen noodles are nice and cheap haha. Thanks for all the emails though it's always great to hear from you guys :) I love and miss you guys alot :) Thanks for everything you do for me mom :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

Man it is getting pretty cold here!

Man it is getting pretty cold here! We never get to see any sort of a weather report so I'm not sure how  cold it is haha but it sure feels cold. Last P-day went really sweet, I got to go golfing with a couple of guys from our zone and man it was awesome! We found a nice golf course near by that was only 17 bucks for a round so we went and did a round of 9 holes. It was really sweet, we did a 2 man best ball and we lost by two strokes but I did pretty dang good. The guys I was playing with all played on the golf teams at their high schools back home and I still did just as good as them if not a little better than some haha so that was sweet. For our exercise in the morning our zone has been meeting at the stake center for basketball at 6 AM (we work out in the morning from 6:30 to 7 usually) so I've been getting a little better at some basketball but man I'm still not good at all haha. We did that 2 or 3 times this past week, including this morning. Ulises is still planning on getting baptised this weekend and man he's excited haha. We had a bishops youth fireside on missionary work last night at the bishops house and they asked us to be there so we made sure Ulises got a ride and he really liked it. He gave his conversion story at the end too and talked about all the stuff he's learned about the gospel and how good he feels when he goes to our church, it was really cool. I've been taking some good pictures of the apartment and stuff and I should be able to send an SD card back soon so you guys can see the area around here. I picked up a pretty sweet V-neck sweater from Burlington last P-day that everybody keeps telling me looks good haha, guess I'm a sweater kind of guy. I went on my first exchange this week too, with a guy named Elder Calvert and man me and him got along great. It was a sweet experience, we mostly just did service all day though. We defrosted a crazy lady's back yard last week and so me and him wen t and put the finishing touches on it. I also had return and report this week so I got to see all of my MTC friends again, everybody is still doing great and man it was cool getting to see them. We started teaching a couple of new families this week, both of them are Latino and they really like us alot. One of them has almost read the entire teachings of the prophet Joseph Smith book in Spanish and that's what made her want to talk to us. She believes that he was a Prophet of God and saw God and Jesus Christ. From a missionary stand point that is an amazing foundation for someone that hasn't been formally taught yet. So we're really excited to be able to teach her more about how the knowledge she already has about Joseph Smith can bless her and her family and teach her more about the church in general. Thanks to everyone for your emails! Thanks to my family for the Scentsy package too, our room smells a ton better now haha. It's been a good week though and I'm looking forward to another good one coming up haha. I miss all of you guys.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Things are going good in McLean

Things are going good here in McLean, we are still having quite a bit of success teaching which is great. We had veterans day come and go before we even knew it was veterans day haha. Holidays out here are just like any other day so unless other people celebrate quite a bit we really don't know the difference haha and there was hardly any if any celebrating going on for veterans day here. Which was pretty surprising considering how many people here work with the military in one way or another, I really thought people would at least be putting up flags or something but it really looked just like another day here in northern VA. We had our first zone conference this past Saturday and I was assigned a talk to open up the meeting. I spoke about our purpose as missionaries and man was I nervous haha I really felt like they could have asked someone a bit more qualified for that topic but it still went pretty good. Things are still going great with Ulises (found out how to spell his name yesterday at church haha) and Martin. They are both coming with us to church weekly and we have some sort of contact with them every day, even if it's just stopping by and saying hey. They both really want to be baptised and Ulises is really excited about his baptism coming up on the 26th. Martin wants to be baptised as well but his parents wont let him because he was already baptised Catholic. We would like to explain about the importance of the priesthood and full submersion in baptisms but his parents speak very little English and whenever we try to talk with them even about not church stuff, like just asking them how their day was and stuff Martin's mom, Marta, just turns to Martin and says "Martin, Too mas ingles, hablas por favor" Which translates to "Martin, too much English, speak to them please" hahaha so we haven't been able to talk to them much. We showed Ulises and Martin the baptismal font on Sunday though so they could know what it looks like and stuff and they both were really excited about it haha. It's been amazing seeing the faith of these two guys, especially Ulises, as we've been teaching them. Ulises is committed to living the Word of Wisdom even though he loves coffee and is committed to living the law of chastity too, which as missionaries are the two hardest things to teach people the importance of because the rest of the world doesn't really believe the same things we do about stuff like that haha so that's awesome. We had dinner with them at this crazy members house who has a reputation of ruining missionaries investigators because she just says whatever is on her mind, true or not, and tells them it's what the church believes haha so we were really praying she wouldn't say anything to shake these guyses testimonies haha but it went well. On the way back to their house Martin taught me to Ollie on a skateboard so that was really cool haha, he was just as pumped as I was when I landed it for the first time haha, he was pretty impressed I could do it in church shoes haha. Skateboarding is a lot of fun though, I might have to start taking that up as a P-Day activity hahaha. I got some packages from my parents and Shellie this week so that was awesome. I'll be having some chips and salsa tonight when we play some cards haha. I also got a card from Michelle and Dane's family that was really nice too. Things are cooling down here now so I'll be heading to target today to buy me some winter clothes to keep me warm haha. I've got that gynormous winter jacket from the missionary mall but I'm noticing I've got nothing in between just normal clothes and heavy winter clothes haha so I need to pick up some sweaters and gloves haha. Thank you to everyone for all of your support and all of your emails.
Hey Mom,
Thanks for the packages!!! They were just what I needed haha. I just had me some pasta roni last night for dinner and man it hit the spot! Thanks for the SD card too, I really needed one of those so I can take some pictures of our apartment and stuff. I'll be able to send the card home when I get that other one in the mail so you guys can see it. It's a pretty nice place. I just checked and these computers don't have and spot for the card to go in so I can't really email any pictures back :/ I'm glad to hear everything is going well back home. As I've been out here I'm really realising the great lessons you've taught me about having a clean house and picking up stuff that's just sitting around haha. Our apartment has gotten a heck of alot cleaner since I've been here believe it or not haha. That's great you put one of my letters in the ward newsletter, I'm glad everyone liked it haha. Sweet job on winning the $20 gift card at Bunco too haha that's awesome. Thanks for everything you've done for me mom, your guys support means the world to me. I'm so glad you guys have helped me to learn how to do some things on my own because if it wasn't for that I'd be done for out here haha. I love you and miss you guys alot, but I know I'm where the Lord needs me. Can't wait to hear from you guys again!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Virginia is great!

Things are going great here in Virginia.  I'm not sure why we are called the DC South Mission, there literally isn't any part of DC in our mission.  All of DC is north of the Potomac, so really we should be the Virginia North Mission haha. But I really like it here, the area is beautiful, the trees are loosing there leaves so we've had some good service opportunities to help people rake those up haha.  The people here generally seem pretty nice too, very professional. Most of the people(probably a solid 80-90%) work for the government so they can't talk about who they work with or what they do, but the people who can tell us stuff are usually really big wig corporate people that make tons of money.  Our dinner appointment tonight was definitely one of those haha. The dad is one of the head chemical engineers at Exxon Mobile and the mom is a very accomplished prosecutor.  Very rich area we are in for the most part haha.
I haven't gotten either of the two packages mom asked about quite yet but I'm sure they'll be here soon haha.  I did get the Halloween one though, its sitting on my desk now with a good bit of candy in it still haha.  We put everything together in there so we can just grab stuff out and munch haha it's been great.
PS- The return address on this is my direct apartment address. Feel free to fedex and UPS stuff to us here. And letters can come here faster too. 7312 Dartford Dr, Apt 3, McLean, VA 22102
PSS- Something sweet I found out is we are allowed to fish on Pday and with investigators here! Score for sure haha I'm pretty pumped for that.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Week 2 in the field!

Man its already my second P-Day out here in the field! I guess time goes by pretty fast when you're busy haha. Things are going well out here though. It is definitely getting a bit colder, that's for sure haha. Winter is on its way here. The good thing about the cold here though is its almost never windy so it doesn't feel super cold. Having the car has definitely been sweet for keeping the cold out though haha. Our investigators are doing great for the most part. We have been meeting with Ulysses and Martin throughout this past week and they are both progressing great! Mostly Ulysses though, we've been able to meet with him more than Martin and he really likes both of us. We talked with him for a bit about the restoration some more and we've begun teaching him about the Plan of Salvation and the Commandments a little bit and he's still really excited about everything. As part of my training I was supposed to take the lead on inviting investigators to be baptised and so I invited Ulysses this past Tuesday and he said yes! He's planning on being baptised on the 26th of this month and is really excited about it! We met with him later on that week and me and Elder Campbell beat him and his friend in a 2 on 2 basketball game pretty bad haha but after our game we asked if him and his friends would want to sit down with us for a quick lesson real fast and so he helped us teach the restoration to like 5 of his friends! It was really cool and they all asked good questions. Who knows how interested they really were about it haha but still they seemed to really think it was cool stuff. We met with him last night too and he's still really pumped about being baptised. He wants Elder Campbell to baptise him and he wants me to confirm him on the Sunday afterwards, should be awesome! I'm really excited to see the gospel help him out in his life. He's already been telling his friends to watch their language and stuff now so that's really sweet haha he tells everyone that he is a Mormon now hahaha. Things at the apartment are going good still. There are a total of four of us at the apartment and our roommates are really cool. One of them goes home at the end of this transfer and the other has been out about 9 months. We hang out and play cards at night before we head to bed and they are all really getting into some Up the Ladder that I just taught them how to play a couple of nights ago haha. We've also been playing some Texas hold em with monopoly money so that's been pretty fun too haha. I've been doing pretty good on food though and I've been getting pretty good at making stuff out of what we've got. We don't have a lot of member meals here but we get some from time to time. We have one tonight that should be pretty sweet, the family that we are eating with is really wealthy and supposedly have a very nice house so that should be cool. Something else that was pretty sweet was that I found out there's a family in our ward that is related to us haha. They are the Wise Family (pronounced like Wice) and brother Wise's Dad is Grandpa Carlyle's Cousin. I'm not really sure what that makes me to them though haha like second cousin twice removed maybe? I don't know though haha that's what Brother Wise is pretty sure it is though. They are a cool family. So far the ward seems to really like us though, we're trying to get them as involved as we can in the missionary work with things like referrals and bringing them with us to teach investigators. We also met a cool new family this week that should be considered investigators soon if we can ever find a time when they have time for a lesson haha. They are a young couple with a baby boy who is 9 months old. They both work though so they are almost never home but we've been able to talk with them quite a bit just on the doorstep a solid 4 times now. They really like us and are always pretty excited to see us haha. We ran into the Dad, named Scott, while he was out walking his dogs and he invited us over because he said he was interested in hearing more and his boss is a Mormon and they are really good friends. The catch was though is he said his wife calls all the shots in the house haha so he couldn't invite us over, she would have to be the one to let us in and he couldn't have any influence on it or he would get blamed if it wasn't something she wanted to do haha. So he told us to stop by his house and act like we'd never met him and he would have his wife answer the door and we'd see if she would let us in haha. Well we stopped by and his wife was just as cool and receptive as he was haha. Her name is Rachel and their son is Dean (named after Dean Martin who I guess was their family friend on the wifes side haha). They are a really cool family though and we're really hoping we can get a chance to teach them about the Gospel. But I did get the address for our apartment so you guys can send stuff directly there so it will get there a little faster now hahahaha. But our address for the apartment is: Dangit! I left it at the apartment!!!!!! I brought the letters I've gotten so far so I could just take the address off that but I forgot they put it on the envelope not the letters themselves... Man I feel really dumb messing that up, that kinda makes sense haha. I'll definitely bring it with next week and I'll be sending some letters home soon so I'll have the address in that too so it can get passed around from there haha. Thanks for all of your guyses support!!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

First Week

Man what a week it's been out here! It's already cold here in DC, we got a good little snow storm yesterday that was freezing! But so far things here in the life of a missionary are going pretty good. My first night was spent at the mission President's home where we got some training on how to talk to people at the door step and things like that. President Albright is a really nice guy. The next day we got assigned trainers and sent off to each of our areas about 6 o clock that night. My trainer is Elder Campbell, he's a really good guy and everybody I meet tells me how good of a guy he is, we've gotten along really well so far. He's been out 20 months already so he'll be headed home before too long. Our area is in McLean, which is in the richest county in the country, and it is a car area so thats nice (70% of my mission is car areas it turns out). Alot of our area is million dollar mansions and the members are very well off for the most part. We have a lot of apartments and neighborhoods in our are that are a bit lower income though and we've been doing quite a bit of tracting in those areas so far. Our first night we got back to the apartment after they told us who our trainers were and me and Elder Campbell went and knocked on some doors to an apartment complex, nearby. Our area is basically being started from scratch because the two elders before us were depressed and so they spent a lot of time just sitting at the apartment. So no progressing investigators off the bat or anything. Our first night of tracting went pretty good though, no lessons or anything and nobody let us in, but we had a couple people tell us we could come back the next day so that was good. So we came back the next day and revisited them and most of them didn't answer but we did have one lady let us in. Her name is Hasti and she's my first investigator! haha. She's from Iran and doesn't speak a ton of English. She wasn't very receptive to us talking to her at first because she said she couldn't believe in God because of all the people that are forced to suffer all day everyday back in her home country. She said she has lots of friends who are stuck back home pretty much just being slaves and are beat all the time so she doesn't believe that if there was a God that he would let that happen to good people because her friends pray everyday and they still dont get any help. But we explained to her how we all have our agency so God allows us to make our own decisions and everybody has that agency. So it would be against Gods plan to stop the people who are making her friends suffer from making those wrong descisions, but that God still loves them and that this life is only a grain of samd compared to eternity. That seemed to help her a little bit but she was still convinced that people only prayed to God as a way that people could hide away from all their problems and that's what made them feel better. We assured her that that wasn't it at all and that when we pray we can feel Gods love for us and he can answer our prayers. So we convinced her to kneel down and say a prayer with us and we got her to say it. We forgot to mention that we pray out loud so she just said a prayer in her head while we knelt with her. She prayed for probably a good 4 or 5 minutes before she finally said amen and immediately after she prayed she just looked up to us and said "thank you" and that she wants to meet with us again so that she can learn more. It was super cool. So we're still trying to set up a time where we can come meet with her again, her work schedule is pretty sketchy so she doesnt know when she'll have time to have us over again. Still awesome though. The next day we met a 15 year old kid named Ulysses (like Ulysses S. Grant) and he was willing to talk to us for a bit but we didn't get to have a lesson with him really, we just talked about God and stuff for awhile. The next day we met with him again and talked to him about the Book of Mormon and stuff though and he agreed to come to church with us and his 13 year old cousin Martin wanted to come with us too. We told him a little bit about the spirit and what it feels like and he said that it wasnt anything that sounded like something he'd felt before and he didn't feel like God loved him really. Later that night we had a lady at some apartments come out yelling at us and tell us she was going to call the cops on us for soliciting in her aprtment complex hahaha crazy lady. But Sunday came around and we arranged for someone to meet us at Ulysses house so that he could get a ride with them to church and sure enough we showed up 10 minutes early just to make sure they were ready and they were totally just waking up. But we got them to hurry and get ready and they came with us and they loved it!!! We weren't suer how it was going until the sacrament prayer was finished and then Ulysses leaned over to us and said "Man I'm freaking out you guys" and we were both like "What? What's wrong are you alright?" and he said "You guys know that Holy Spirit thing you were telling me about? I just felt it. That was crazy, like my whole body just felt like numb and at peace for a second and then I just started feeling this sort of warm tingly feeling in my chest that spread to the rest of my body." Score!!!!! It was so awesome!!!! Martin leaned over and told us how he felt the same way and they both can't wait to come back next week! So we're going to meet with them tomorrow night and talk to them some more. I'm really excited because I feel like the Gospel can really help both of these kids out alot in their lives. They both come from pretty rough backgrounds. So overall things are going pretty good here in DC. Our apartment is nice and my bike turned out sweet! I got it put together with the help of our two roomates and man it's a nice bike. I'm going to try and pick up some stamps so I can write some letters today but we're cutting it close on miles we can drive in our car for the month so we might have to wait and go tomorrow. I'll keep you guys updated with how everything is going next monday for sure. My companion doesn't know the address for our apartment but he says the mission likes it better if you just write to the mission home and theyll forward it on from there. I guess they can't re deliver UPS'd or Fed-Ex'd stuff though because of the barcodes so they say it's best to just send stuff via US mail in boxes. I'll give you guys the address for the apartment as soon as I know it though.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Cody made it to DC!!

Dear Parents,
Just a quick note to let you know your missionary arrived safe and sound on Wednesday,
October 26, 2011. They were met at the airport by President Albright and his Assistants. From there they met for a lovely dinner followed by a missionary orientation. They stayed the night at the Mission Home and then attended the Transfer Meeting where they met their new companions.
 The Missionaries Preparation Day (P-day) is generally every Monday from 10am to 6pm at which time they are allowed to email (family only) using only the authorized email assigned to them at the MTC. P-days can change at the last minute and communication that week may occur on a different day. On rare occasions your missionary may not have access to a computer on his P-Day and a week may go by before you receive an email. 
As a reminder, all mail should be addressed with first and last names to the Washington DC South Mission Office at 5242 Lyngate Court, Burke, VA 22015, via USPS Priority Mail which we then forward to their actual apartment.  In this manner they receive their mail within 24 hours, and the mail doesn't end up following them from apartment to apartment through emergency moves and transfers, etc. If sent by UPS, USPS Parcel Post or FED EX they are not likely to receive them for a period of time because they cannot be forwarded.
Thank you for sending them to us. We love our missionaries and are committed to ensuring that they get everything they need to be safe and effective. 

Monday, October 24, 2011

Packages to Cody!

In our family, it is no secret that the best missionary packages are sent from the Ashworth house. So far Cody has been sent a package every week from Michelle and her family. Box full of junk food, Great Harvest bread(tribute to Melissa) and Krispy Kreme donuts. Michelle has made it known that she is going for Aunt of the year!!

Last Letter From The MTC

Woo hoo almost done here at the MTC!!!! I'm so ready to be out of this place haha. I've learned tons here though. I have quite a bit of new favorite scriptures and I know lots of good scriptures for specific topics and stuff now. There's no doubt we've got the Lords help as we learn here though because there's no way a bunch of just 19 year old kids could learn this much stuff and remember it all just by themselves. There's no doubt that we're having quite a bit of help. As I get closer to leaving this wednesday though I get more and more nervous about actually teaching a real investigator. Theres no recovering from a real mistake and acidentally offending somebody or something when I'm out in the field so I've really got to just rely on the spirit and then I know for sure whatever happens is just how things are supposed to go. We did a solid 13 hours of "in field training" that was so boring!!!! And so confusing! I was really hoping I got it all in and was pretty stressed out about it but then we had our weekly meeting with our mission district president and he's such a cool guy haha he said "I'm guessing what's got you worried about the infield is that it was a lot of information and you're not sure if you can remember it all right?" and so I said wow yea thats actually exactly it haha and he said "My advice, and I'm being completely honest here, is don't worry about it for one minute. Even if you dodn't get one thing out of that entire training and you forgot the whole thing, just dont worry about it. You will have a trainer for your first while out there that will help you along and just keep doing what youre supposed to and the Lord will help you along the way no matter what." It was exactly what I needed to hear haha it helped so much. But man it's been such a busy weekend for our district with us leaving soon. We had 3 back to back firesides last night that I though were never going to end haha. But things are slowing down now so thats good. Having a P-day always helps with that. I got the untrasound pictures for Mitch and Sonyas newest girl. Man three girls in a row!! Haha that'll be awesome though and I can't wait to meet her when I get home. It also looks like Mitch shot a pretty nice elk too, the picture was pretty small on my screen so I couldnt tell for sure but it looked pretty nice. I can't wait to here about my dad and mat's hunt up in Idaho. You guys will have to send me some stories for sure. I miss all of you guys tons.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Happy Halloween Elder Gronning!

Time to send Elder Gronning's Halloween goodie box! I am going to send it to the mission home so it is waiting for him there at the end of next week. He will get to Washington DC late next Wednesday evening.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Week 2 email from MTC

Another week has gone by here at the MTC and things are starting to speed up so thats good. I'm learning tons every day and we've changed almost everything about how we've taught since the first day we were here. We've really been learning to ask questions nore when teaching to we can teach the person more, not just a lesson. The more we care about the people we've been teaching and the more we've been looking at their personal needs, the more effective and smooth our teaching has been. Like I said we're more than halfway done with things here in the MTC now so thats good. I'm ready to get out in the field and teach real people where we can really make a difference in people's lives. The food here has gotten better too, it turns out they just always have great stuff on Sundays. I'd like to wish a happy birthday to my mom from this weekend. For those of you who didn't know, my mom turned 22 this Saturday and it sounds like they had some pretty fun stuff planned. The provo temple here is very very pretty and I can't wait to go through the one over in DC. I've only heard awesome stuff about it. Oh and it turns out four-square gets played after elementary school by people sometimes because the elders here play it quite a bit. It probably sounds super lame but it's actually pretty fun. The games get pretty hardcore and intense more often than not. A lot of dives, jumps, behind the back tosses, and slides. So far I seem to be pretty good at it. We also had the relief society general president come speak to us all on tuesday about missionary work, that was kinda cool. Besides that though this hasn't been a super eventful week by any means. I'm glad it's monday though, P-day's are awesome. I got my flight Itenerary (probably not how you spell that) for my flight to DC and things should be pretty straightforward and easy. I will be leaving next wednesday from the SLC airport and fly directly to the airport in DC on a 5 or 6 hour flight. Getting out into the field should be pretty sweet. I hope everything is going well back home and wherever everyone is. I miss everyone of you lots. I should have enough time to respond to letters today so hopefully they get there later this week. I'm really excited to hear about Granny and Pa's release date. It feels like its coming up nice and fast. Can't wait to see them. Well hope everythings going well and thanks to everyone for the letters this week and to michelle and dane for the package. Stuff like that always makes my day and keeps me going.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Awesome experience

Melissa got a letter from Cody and shared with us an experience he had. He said that they have investigators that come in so the man they had to teach was a man named Alexandre Paul. "he's an ambassador from Haiti so he's a pretty big deal. But as soon as he let us in the door he just started firing off really tough questions back to back and tried making us trip over our words but I answered almost every question he had right away and by the end of it he was telling me how impressed he was that someone as young as me knew so much about the gospel hahaha but I just told him it's not us that does the teaching, we just follow the promptings of the spirit. That really made him want to learn about baptism and getting the holy ghost for himself. It was so awesome to hear! But then our time ran out and we had to go :( but we can cone back next week He said. He wrote down all the stuff he wanted to know about so we can talk about that next time. So that should be sweet :)"

Thursday, October 13, 2011

MTC Pictures

First trip to the Provo temple. 630am session on Pday.
Elder Gronning and Elder Rasmussen
Cody has the top bunk of course. 
You can see the blanket Melissa made him. So cute!

Cody's first email from the MTC

Dear family and friends,
Man 30 minutes is all they give me to do emails on P-Day, Crazy!! I'm going to have to type pretty fast I suppose haha. Thanks to everyone for the awesome emails, I wish they gave me more time so I could respond to all of them, but for now I'm just going to have to get this one out first and then start replying from there haha. The MTC is an overwhelming place simply put. The first 2 days felt like a week each and I couldn't help but think I might have bit off a little more than I could chew to have to do this for the next 2 years but I stuck it out and boy has it gotten lots better and I've gotten very excited to spread the gospel to the people of DC. My companion and I get along great, his name is elder Rasmussen and he's from Salt Lake (I think a good 90% of the MTC is guys from UT). Really we don't have a lot in common but for whatever reason our personalities have clicked from day one. He is going to my same mission, same time, but he wants to get transferred to Spanish speaking because he knows the first couple of discussions in Spanish already so I've been doing what I can to teach him some more. The food here tastes great but is exactly as everyone describes it. Alot of the elders here think its the orange juice but everybody avoids the OJ and still things are bad. Everybody here is happy though. I'm in a district of 10 guys who all got here on the same day as me. We are all going to the same mission except for two guys that are going to Australia. We all get along great and are already a big group of friends so that's pretty cool. the teachers here say districts like ours are rare because literally everyone of us gets along with every one else. We went through the Provo temple this morning at the 6:30 AM session and man was it early. I was so dang tired. But that is a really pretty temple. The MTC is alot bigger than I thought it would be and I really enjoy the lessons we have but man I'm struggling with all of our personal study time where we have to stay in the class and just read scriptures or preach my gospel. I've found some awesome scriptures and the time is really helpful but man after a solid 5-6 hours of it every day it gets really really hard to focus. I feel alot more prepared to serve now though and after those first two days the time has started to fly by really fast. Man just like the time on this email!!! I'm already about to be kicked off because I'm out of time again. I miss all of you guys though, homesickness is abundant here at the MTC but it serves as a motivation to do our friends and family back home proud by serving our best here. Thanks to Michelle and Dane for their awesome care package, i've never seem so much food in a box that size. Thanks to everyone back at the office too for the package as well. Things like that make my day every time just like the letters do so always feel free to write me any time. While I am here at the MTC it's best to use DearElder.com to write me. They basically print out an email and give it to me same day so it's great. I've still got to write back by US mail though so it'll take 2-3 days to get back. Thanks for everyones support though. I love all of you guys.

-Cody or Elder Gronning