Thursday, November 29, 2012

Man it is cold!

Well it sure has gotten very very cold this past week! Especially this past couple of days! It has been low 40's for the high this weekend and looks like it should stay that way throughout the week haha. I'll personally take it over being really hot and sweaty but man some of these bike rides home at night have been like 26 degrees and man are they freezing! We had a great thanksgiving week here though! We had a few really good lessons with some of our progressing investigators and had a single woman bring her non-member friend to church yesterday who said he would love for us to come teach him at his house this week. Way cool! The area just seems to be getting better and better each week. I wish I could stay here the rest of my mission! haha. Thanksgiving day was really great though. I ate until I couldn't eat anymore, then kept eating! We had our first meal at a members home at 2 o clock and were planning to eat later that night with our investigator at 7 o clock. The dinner at the members home was amazing! She made the sweet potato souffle and man it was way good! I ate a bunch of servings of that haha. Then we had some really good stuffing and turkey and potatoes, all the good old traditional thanksgiving food (which I stuffed myself on). Then she brought our desert, which I didn't know we were having so I was already full haha, which was 4 different pies: a banana creme (my favorite), pumpkin pie, apple pie, and pumpkin pecan pie. They were so good! Even though I was full I managed to squeeze down a couple of good sized slices haha. So we figured we would have a good amount of time to go bike to a few peoples homes and let the food settle a bit so we would have room to eat again at 7... but we got a text from our investigator a little before 5:30 saying dinner was ready early and we should come over! Oh man did we panic haha. So we went over to their house and even though we were stuffed beyond belief, we somehow managed to eat a full helping there too and some desert. I was probably the fullest I've been in my whole life haha. It was a great day! Unfortunately though because of the holiday almost everyone was out of town, most of the members and a lot of our investigators, so we had a hard time finding people to meet with and it made for a really slow week, but still a good one! The new Sister in our district to take the place of the Temple Square Sister who just went back to her mission, is Sister Evans, who we don't know very much about yet but we are glad to welcome her to our district! So overall it was a really good week here! It's definitely time to bust out the winter gear! I hope everyone has had a great thanksgiving week wherever you are!

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Email to Mom 11/20

Hey Mom!
Thank you guys so much for the package! I got it just last night and it was such a sweet surprise! I had no idea that all my favorite snacks just happen to be fall colors haha I'm really glad that worked out the way it did because it's full of all stuff I love :) No snow here as of yet but hopefully soon! Elder Skinner is a great guy, he's taught me lots of new tricks on the bike haha, me and him get along great because we have a very similar sense of humor. He is a little green around the edges but that is by no means a bad thing haha. We were reading in the missionary handbook the other day and it said that we have to be sure to not much personal information like the names of our investigators publicly known so I've got to start being a little more cautious about putting that kind of stuff into my mass emails that go up on the blog and just keep the names and details to you in personal emails haha :) The husband and wife we are teaching in the Sisters area now are named Katy and Marvin and man they are sweet! I got to impress them with my Spanish a little bit because they are south american haha. We got to have some fun demonstrating all the different people and languages we run into here too haha I know just a few words in each of: Spanish, Twi, Creol, Hindi, Punjabi, Korean, German, and Chinese haha. Mostly just how to say hello and strike people's interest in talking to us but still it's cool to be in one of the most diverse places in the world :) Michelle told me a bit about Pa's surgery too, I'm glad to hear he's recovering well! I'm very jealous that you guys get to go up there for thanksgiving though haha. Especially about the pies, they sound awesome! I have never heard of banoffee pie but it sounds incredible! As far as Christmas stuff goes I'm not really sure haha. I am definately in need of more socks, all of mine have holes now haha, and little fun things to play with during like mornings, lunches, or evenings are always fun haha. A light jacket would be sweet too, because my one right now is just a super heavy one haha, so when it's not super cold I just sweat in it then I get super cold haha. Just like a light windbreaker like that brown one I had back home :) I'm fine with anything though as always haha :) I can't wait to get to skype with you guys though! That will be awesome! Well I've got to get running, I sure do love and miss you lots Mom! Give Dad and Shell my love too!

Great Week Here in Centreville 1st!

Sorry for the delayed email, we spent our P-day yesterday up in DC with our district and we ended up being there the whole day haha so we got permission from our Zone leaders to email today instead. We had planned to be home in time to still email but we totally forgot that the time we would be heading back was right in the middle of rush hour (which starts pretty early here) so the train and bus ride were both super packed and backed up haha. The trip went well though, it was one of the Sisters in the District's last p-day here in DC South because she is a Temple Square Sister and was just here temporarily, so she requested we go up to DC as a district. We ended up going through first The Holocaust Museum (which was super depressing but a good experience, don't think I'll ever do that again), then we went to the Washington Monument, then the WW2 Memorial, then the Lincoln Memorial, then the White House, then Chinatown, then the Capital building (which was closed unfortunately so we didn't get to take a tour or anything, they were renovating some things for the inauguration), then we went to the Museum of the American Indian to finish off the day. The American Indian Museum ended up being super lame though, or maybe I just had my hopes in the wrong place haha, I was hoping to see and read about lots of stuff from like the Mayans, Incas, and Aztecs, and be able to draw some comparisons and similarities between theirs and Nephite/Lamanite traditions in the Book of Mormon, but the museum was all about the Modern American Indians and didn't have anything about their ancestors haha. Like I said though, it was a really good week here in Centreville! We have been having more and more lessons progressively these past few weeks and have been getting pretty close to our Area's standard we would like to be at each week. Almost all of the success this past week though came from referrals from members. The biggest one being from a lady who lives somewhere over in Leesburg (like 45 minutes out of our area) who works with a friend who has been going through some personal issues lately and was asking this woman (the Member) how she could find some comfort from all of this stuff, well the Member suggested that we could come to her house and give her friend a Priesthood Blessing of comfort and that would help. Her friend accepted and invited us over but said that she might not be too interested in learning about our church or taking the missionary lessons. Well we met with her on Sunday evening and talked with her and her husband for probably just a little over an hour about the Restoration of the Gospel, they just had question after question and seemed very interested in it all, then finally we closed with giving both of them blessings and they said they would like to have us over again sometime to learn more and that they would like to take a trip up to the Temple Visitor's Center with us and their friends sometime soon as well! It was awesome! We will probably have to lest the Sisters teach them instead though because they are in their area instead of ours it turns out :( but still it will be great that they are having the missionaries over! Plus one of the people we have been teaching is starting to progress very well! She has been having a few things hold her back from feeling ready to be Baptized but she has said that she would really like to be Baptized when she feels ready. We had a lesson with her on Saturday though and she said that she would pray about a goal to help her self be ready by and that we could help her reach. Well top make it even more awesome, she came with us to Stake Conference the next day and the whole conference was about praying for answers and receiving personal revelation! In particular President Riggs spoke at the conference and talked about how if we want answers we have to go into it with the intent to act on whatever answer we get! Of course whenever he would say things along those lines I made sure to sort of nudge her to give a hint haha, she got a kick out of that, but we really think she will start progressing well. It's the same woman Elder Cluff and I had met a month or 2 back who has a less active boyfriend and invited us over for dinner out of the blue, so really it's been a miracle filled little journey for her all throughout! Well I wish I had more time to write but I've got to get going! It was a great week here! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever each of you are! I love and miss you all lots!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Monday, November 12, 2012

Trip to DC!

Elder Gronning and Elder Cluff with Sister Jeppsen and Sister Carter

The start of a new transfer!

Well transfer calls came and here I am still in Centreville 1st with a new companion! Unfortunately Elder Cluff got moved elsewhere, but he wanted that so he didn't have to ride his bike any more haha. I am super excited that I got to stay! My new companion is Elder Skinner from Hermiston Oregon, he has been on his mission 5 months now and came here from the Fredricksburg area. He's an awesome guy, him and I have been getting along awesome so far, mostly because we share the same sense of humor haha so that helps a lot. He was really big into mountain bike racing before his mission so he is super excited to be here in a bike area. He is way better than me on a bike though haha but he has already taught me a new trick of being able to wheelie on my front tire without using my front brakes, it's super useful for going up curbs and stuff haha. Plus with his mountain biking experience back home he is a lot more excited to try out new trails we see on the side of the road that look like they go where we need to go, so we've already discovered a few new shortcuts haha. Things have been going great with the work here in the area too to start off the transfer. Brother Large got the Aaronic Priesthood yesterday and now has the Authority to baptize the rest of his family when the time comes, which he is super excited about! Then after church we ended up having two lessons with two really awesome people. First was a young Korean guy who is the best friend of our bishop's son, he wants to be baptized but his parents wont let him, but now he has decided that he wants to be baptized on Christmas Eve, the day after he turns 18 and doesn't need his parents permission any more! Way awesome. He's not what you would typically think of though when you think "young Korean guy" he is huge! Like tall and big, he can bench press 300 pounds haha, crazy! He's the local high school's football star, he's a great guy. Then after that we had dinner with some members and while we were there the Sister who was making the dinner for us was talking to a friend of hers, who had just stopped by for a second, about the Plan of Salvation and invited her to come back over after dinner for a lesson with the missionaries and she agreed! So she came by after dinner and had a great lesson about the Book of Mormon, Prophets, and dispensations. It went great! I had met the friend a few times before but she always was very anti the church, and still is in a way haha, but she said she wants to learn where we are coming from but does not want to convert and wont guarantee that she'll believe any of the things we tell her haha, we told her that was totally fine and all we would ask her to do anyways is just take what we say and pray about it to find out if it's true for herself rather than taking our word for it. She said she would definitely do that and has no problem hearing us out and learning what we believe. Most of her questions though seemed to revolve around the Book of Mormon and Joseph Smith though so we started out by teaching her about that but she said that she would like to meet with us again this Thursday to hear more about the Plan of Salvation, so we are very stoked about that! Overall though it was a great week! things are starting to heat up here again for some reason though, it has been up in the 50's and 60's all this past week and is supposed to continue to be that way this week. Lame! We want snow! Haha people have been saying that it's supposed to be a heck of a winter once it does hit though, the coldest in 10 years someone told us that the farmers almanac said. Hopefully it's right! I got hosed on my first winter here since it didn't snow really much at all or get very cold, and I wont really see much snow or cold next year in Vegas at this time, so I really want it to be a cold one this year to make up the difference haha. Well I've got to get running! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are! I love and miss all of you guys lots!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What a great weekend!! 11/5 email

Well it sure has been a great weekend since I emailed you all last! Brother Large is now the newest member of our ward and man does he have a strong testimony! First his Baptismal interview on Friday went awesome. The Missionary who was interviewing came out afterwords and whispered to me "Holy Smokes that guy knows everything!" haha which is always good to hear after an interview. Then on Saturday the Baptismal service went great! We didn't have a huge turn out from the ward, in fact I think there was only one family there who didn't have a part on the program haha. But Brother Large was excited to see everyone who did show up and made a couple of new friends in the ward in the process. It was a super spiritual experience all around. Saturday night we ended up going to a Fall Festival for the Manasses ward with a lady who we've been teaching (she goes to the Manasses ward with her boyfriend so she pretty much goes to all their stuff) and had a great time there too. Unfortunately, even with our two votes, she didn't when the Chili cook off though haha. Then Sunday went really awesome! Brother Large got confirmed during sacrament meeting and since it was fast and testimony meeting he got to get up afterwards and bare his testimony and man was it powerful! I was a little concerned that he might not have had a complete conversion take place in his heart before the baptism just because he had progressed so fast, I mean after all we did only teach him for like 4 weeks haha, but his testimony sure did take all of that concern away. He talked about how reading the Book of Mormon has helped him to have his perspective changed and he understands the things in the Bible so much better now and about how he knows the Word of Wisdom is the word of God and he is excited to live it so he can be Physically and Spiritually strong and how grateful he is that God called Joseph Smith to be a prophet just like in times of old. It was super cool! I wrote down a lot of word for word quotes from it in my journal that night so I won't forget them haha. He is loving the ward though and they are loving him! The only concern it sounds like he's had so far though, which he didn't seem too distraught about was "(super think African accent) I believe that I am the only Black in your congregation" but we told him there are lots of Black members of the church, just not in our ward I guess haha. But wouldn't you know it, this past week we had a man from Ghana move into our ward, so now he's not the only one! So overall it has been a great weekend! Today we have been playing sports pretty much all day and man am I beat haha, we played a few games of Gatorball which is a huge sport in our mission, it's exactly like soccer but played with a volleyball and if you kick the ball up off the ground you are allowed to catch it and run with it until you get tagged then you have to put it down and instead of goals you just have a chair on both sides of the basketball court that you have to throw or kick the ball at. And we got to play some two on two racquetball with the Spanish Elders and man it was fun haha. Everything is really going great here, I really hope I don't get transferred this Thursday! So hopefully my next email is from this area! I hope everyone has had a great week wherever you are though! I love and miss you guys lots!

Hurricane? Email from 10/31

So I feel like a "Hurricane" is probably too strong of a word to use for what Sandy did atleast down where we are haha. It was just a ton of rain and a little bit of wind. We've yet to see a downed tree or hear of someone here in Centreville losing power, so it was pretty disappointing haha. We were expecting it to be a little bit more exciting. But it was bad enough that we did get stuck inside all Monday :( The winds were gusting at about 45 MPH in the morning and then went up to about 60-70 MPH throughout the evening, which is pretty much impossible to ride a bike in, I don't know what it is about wind while you're on a bike but for whatever reason it is always blowing directly in your face haha. Luckily though we had a member sign up to feed us dinner and be our house to evacuate to incase of emergency and they called us first thing in the morning asking if we would like to come have snacks and family card games since we were going to be stuck inside anyways haha so we got to do that for most of the day. Man did it bring some major cold in though! I had to go buy a few sweaters from Ross this past week so I'd have more than just the one I bought last year haha. Humid cold just cuts you right to the soul too! So yesterday it was in the 40's and raining pretty much all day but after not being able to work at all Monday we were determined to be out in it all day haha but man it was freezing! Brother Large is still planning on being baptized this upcoming Saturday at 11 AM and man am I pumped! We are having one of our ward missionaries named Brother Gore do the baptism, who was able to take us to the Stake Center during the day Monday with Bankoli (Brother Large he prefers) to show him what the baptismal font looks like and let him and Bro. Gore have a few dry practice runs haha. It went awesome! It's been such a miracle all around being able to watch Brother Large progress in the gospel. He was barely here in america a week when we met him which brought the verse in 2 Nephi 1 to mind: "6. Wherefore, I, Lehi, prophesy according to the workings of the Spirit which is in me, that there shall none come into this land save they shall be brought by the hand of the Lord." Bankoli has only been here just over a month now and he will have to go back home to Sierra Leone in December, we definitely believe that he was brought here specifically to find the Gospel and take it back to his family. So cool! So those have really been the highlights of this past week, I love this area! Next week will be transfers though and we really hope we will stay. Elder Cluff thinks he might be ready to go (he HATES having to ride bikes everywhere haha), but I feel like I'll probably get moved elsewhere this time around :( but If I do get to stay I will have officially been in bike areas for a year straight! Which would be pretty awesome, and pretty rare because 70% of our mission consists of car areas haha. I hope everybody has had a great week wherever you are and will have a great Halloween tonight! We will be watching Puss in Boots with our zone tonightfor our Halloween celebration :) they don't want us out and about on New Years and Halloween (due to drunk people and scantily dressed women) so they approve some sort of a Disney or animated movie for us to watch instead haha. Should be sweet! Well I love and miss you guys, hope all is well!

October 22 email-Great Week!

Well it sure was a great week here in Centreville! We had a hard time finding people to teach though so that was kinda rough. But both of the lessons that we did have were awesome! At the first one, the lady we are teaching made us homemade Tostadas and man were they good! We taught her about the Word of Wisdom with a guy from our ward and it went really well. Our other lesson was with this guy named Bankoli from Sierra Leone who we've been teaching for a few weeks now, we taught him all about the Plan of Salvation and he loved it! At the end of the lesson he told us that he would like to be baptized as a member of our church on November 3rd! I'm so excited! Plus he came to church for the first time and made it a point to tell us that, after we explained why we call each other Brother or Sister and the person's last name, that he now prefers to go by Brother Large haha how cool of a last name is that too? He really fit in great with the ward though, he made some great friends but his only difficulty was getting them to understand what he was saying haha, he has a pretty thick African accent (he's only been in the U.S. like 4 weeks), so whenever he would tell people he was from "Sierra Leone, West Africa" they would have to keep asking him to repeat it over and over until we said it haha. I don't know why they had such a hard time, we understand him just fine haha. So that was all around a great time at church. Also a pretty big highlight to our week was this past Saturday was Centreville day! It turns out that's really a holiday here haha so they had a pretty big fair thing with all sorts of booths and we set up a Mormon booth with the Centreville 2nd ward and hung out there for the day talking to the people that walked by. We also had a sign out front for "Free Family Photos!" since we are so big into having the family together, and we just told the people we would deliver the pictures to their houses after we print them out, so we got their address and permission to stop by! So we might get some new people to teach from that! But it was a lot of fun getting to be there talking to people about the church the whole day. We passed out probably over 100 pass along cards while we were there too, we were giving them to everyone we could haha. So overall it was a really great week! The weather here is still beautiful, 60's and 70's every day and the trees are all sorts of red and orange, I'm making sure to take lots of pictures! Well I hope everyone is having a great week wherever you are! I love and miss you guys lots!