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.