Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last Hola of 2009!

It seems like I wrote the last letter yesterday. Time is literally flying by. I'm so grateful for your letters. It's good to hear from everyone. Oh, by the way, I think I have enough Pringles now...and Jelly Bellies...although one of the missionaries in my district seems to like Jelly Bellies even more than me...I keep catching him sneaking into our room and eating them :).... Anyway, I'm so excited for David, Mike, and Josh to come next week. They're in for the time of their lives. I wish I could have been at the temple with them. It's awesome that they live so close now...for another week, I guess, then they'll be REALLY close to me. The temple here has been closed for the last two weeks for the holidays...it really stinks. We had a district leave yesterday morning but I think we're supposed to get a new one today. We're supposed to be getting a couple of Elders from Canada sometime today, don't'cha know? That's pretty cool, eh? Hopefully David, Mike, and Josh will at least be in the same building, but more than half the MTC is Spanish-speaking. I've only run into Elder Ward and Elder Roundy twice each.

It was awesome to hear from Carlene--I can't believe Cooper is already going on temple trips! That's so cool! Oh, and in answer to Carlene's question: my favorite flavors are cheddar cheese and pizza, but they're all wondrous...:).

It sounds like you all had an awesome Christmas. Sorry, but mine was better :). Elder Anderson came on Tuesday night and gave an EXCELLENT talk and then Elder Perry came on Christmas even and spoke about Christ's birth and the wisemen. It is the greatest opportunity of my life to be here to learn at the feet of Apostles and members of the Quorums of the Seventies. I'm so grateful for the simplicity of Christ's doctrine. I love 2 Nephi 31. I'm so grateful for the Savior's example and the opportunity that I have to know and follow it. I've been studying and learning a lot about faith lately. Elder Packer of the Quorum of the Seventy said something last night that was especially poignant to me. He said that when hope, belief, and desire are founded in true principles, they will blossom into faith and testimony which will become unshakeable through experience by knowing and applying the same true principles. I wish I had gotten his exact words--it loses a lot in my summary. I'm so grateful for the MTC. Here it is more like the butcher's knife and the surgeon's scalpel as we are prepared for the refiner's fire.

All the rumors about better food during the holidays are a myth though HAHA. Christmas Eve meals were just like normal meals (to be expected) and Christmas Day was just hilarious. Breakfast was cold cereal, lunch was a slice of turkey and a scoop of mashed potatoes and about 1000 scoops of broccoli, and dinner was a ham and cheese sandwich, chips, and a can of soda from a brown paper sack :). The real feast was during the devotionals (see 2 Nephi 32:3ish I think...)

The music I get to do here (other than singing approximately 12 opening and closing hymns each day (give or take 10)) is singing in the MTC Choir. But I guess singing to an Apostle is pretty cool too, eh?

Thanks to everyone who sends me packages! I've got more food than I know how to eat!

Elder Raymond

P.S. I like Pringles slightly less than last week, but I still love them!

P.P.S. It's been snowing for 48 hours straight and we have about 6 inches of snow and it's still snowing :)

P.P.P.S. Love you all!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Dear Famiree, (Yes, I'm still weird Caiti >;) )

I love you all and hope you're having a wonderful Christmas. I'm sorry you can't be here with me because if you were here, you would definitely have a wonderful Christmas. It's not an option here. :) I'm having the time of my life here. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn and progress at the feet of the Lord's servants--to include the Apostles.... Elder Neil L. Anderson came last night and gave an excellent talk on the condescension of God. I'm so grateful for the Spirit and the witness and expounding of truth that it bears. I studied Doctrine and Covenants 93 yesterday (it's pretty much the best section in the entire Doctrine and Covenants) and I'm so grateful for the opportunity that I had to be brought up in light and truth. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to learn as our Savior did--grace for grace. I'm progressing so much here under the constant influence of the Spirit. Each today, I can see how I've changed and grown from each yesterday. I look forward to thousands more todays both here on my mission and afterwards.

Thank you all so much for your letters. I'm sorry I can't send you stuff more often; but that's not what I'm here to do. I can only send and read/open stuff (including e-mail) on P-Day (Wednesday). Also, I only get 30 minutes online to read and write all of my e-mails, so it would be much easier if you sent me letters through DearElder.com rather than e-mail because I can read those anytime on P-Day.

I love and miss you all! Thanks for the package--the Christmas tree is decorated and on my desk and the stocking is hanging from the top bunk of my bed.

Elder Raymond

P.S. Pringles are pretty stinkin' awesome...just in case you were wondering...my companions think so too...and the rest of my district...and the zone...and every missionary who's ever served a mission... ;)

P.P.S. Study the scriptures every day...they're REALLY stinkin' awesome...yes, that's better than Pringles...

P.P.P.S. I love you all!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

First Letter Home!

Yay!  It's finally here!  Notice how he is already slipping into Spanish as he writes. :) 

From Alec (aka Elder Awesome):

Hola! I guess I'll start with the administrative stuff. P-Day is Wednesday so that's the only time I can write and send and read mail.
Anyway, I want you all to know how awesome the MTC is. I have a testimony that this is the right place and the right time for me. I have two awesome companions. Elder McDade is a mixed martial arts fighter from Colfax, California and Elder Franklin is a huge football player from Houston, Texas. They both have awesome testimonies and are a great example to me. Our district has seven elders and three sisters. Our distict is amazing. Every single missionary brings something unique and vital to our district. Las hermanas bring an extrememly inspiring spirit to our district. All three of them are here because they know they have been called of God and are excited about the Gospel.
The saying here in the MTC is that a day is like a week and a week is like a day. Each day is like a week of spiritual and personal development, but looking back on our first week, it seems like a single day. I'm so grateful for this oportunidad to learn, grow, and teach. Our purpose as a missionary is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored Gospel through faith in Jesus Christ, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end.
I love you all and want you to know that I'm doing awesome! I love everything about the MTC. Spanish is going very well. All of our prayers, testimonies, hymns, and talks are in Spanish and I can read, write, and understand it all. The Spirit is amazing in its power to loose our minds and tongues.
I want you all to know that I have a testimony.
Yo sé que Jesucristo es el Hijo de Dios y mi Salvadore. Yo sé que el Evangelio es verdadero. Yo sé que José Smith fue un profeta de Dios y yo sé que Presidente Monson llamado de Dios. Yo sé que el Libro de Mormón contiene las palabras de Dios. Gracias a mi testimonio, yo sé que nosotros podemos volver a nuestro Padre Celestial. En el nombre de Jesucristo, Amen.
Los amo!
Elder Raymond

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Alec is now in the MTC!  Here are some pictures taken just before we dropped him off!

Mike Watson, Alec, Dave Watson
(my cousins going into the MTC in January!)

Dad, Alec, Uncle Mark Raymond

Mom, Kimmee, Alec, Caiti, Bryan, Dad

Alec and Grandma Raymond

Elder Alec Raymond!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Alec's last Sacrament Meeting in Arbor View Ward (for 2 years anyway)

Cliff and Gina Watson stayed the night with us and came to our meetings!  What a meeting!  The topic was Gratitude.  Bryan spoke first and talked about the importance of feeling gratitude at all times.  He told the story of when our house flooded and expressed gratitude to all the friends from church that showed up, waded through mucky water and helped save belongings and then came and helped gut and rebuild our house!  He also expressed gratitude to Heavenly Father for watching over us during such a tough time.  He quoted Pres. Monson when he encouraged all of us to "Think to Thank".  He closed with a strong testimony.  What a wonderful young man that is on the path to becoming a fabulous missionary!  Alec spoke after Bryan.  He gave an incredible talk that brought a strong spirit.  He talked about 2 ways we can apply gratitude to our lives, first by feeling gratitude and second by expressing gratitude.  He gave us 4 ways to express gratitude.  First, by thanking all who assist us in any way. Second by thanking our Heavenly Father for all He has done for us in prayer.  Third, through obedience to our parents, teachers, and our Heavenly Father's commandments.  Fourth, by serving others (going on his mission helps show the gratitude he has for the gospel by sharing it with others).  Alec also quoted Pres. Monson, "This is a wonderful time to be living here on earth. Our opportunities are limitless. While there are some things wrong in the world today, there are many things right, such as teachers who teach, ministers who minister, marriages that make it, parents who sacrifice, and friends who help. We can lift ourselves, and others as well, when we refuse to remain in the realm of negative thought and cultivate within our hearts an attitude of gratitude. If ingratitude be numbered among the serious sins, then gratitude takes its place among the noblest of virtues."  Alec ended with his testimony of the importance of gratitude.  Alec was followed by Kimmee on violin and Ashley Butler on viola accompanied by Sis. Piet playing "A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief."  They played beautifully... very touching.  We then got to hear from Michael Hansen who recently returned from his mission.  He gave examples from his mission of how ingratitude cripples your spirit and keeps you from feeling the spirit and how gratitude brings you closer to Heavenly Father.  He did a wonderful job and was the perfect "wrap up" to a very uplifting meeting!
Shortly after Cliff and Gina left (for their overly long, bumper to bumper, twice as long as it should've taken, drive back to CA) , Chris, Jennifer, Jake, Cole, and Cash Watson showed up at our door to say hello!  What a surprise to see them!  Thay said they got out of church and decided to drive down all the way from Utah Valley!  We visited for a couple hours and then they headed back on their five hour drive home.  Thanks everyone for such a memorable weekend!! We love you all!

Open House

The blessings of living closer to family!  It was wonderful to see Bart, Sharon, and Gail Leavitt, Ashly and Chris Hunter, and Cliff and Gina Watson!  There were lots of phone calls and messages from family and friends that wanted to be there but couldn't make it.  It was a fun filled evening with lots of yummy food and great music (the jelly bellys were the biggest hit)! 
Alec gave a mini concert on his bass and he and Kimmee tried their skills at Bohemian Rhapsody it was amusing...  Kimmee gave us a preview of her solo she would be playing the next morning in sacrament meeting.  Cliff pulled out his camera and got some really great pictures of the family!  There were lots of hugs and well wishes.  It was a wonderful evening.  Thanks to all who made it great!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Elder Raymond and his Mom!

Elder Raymond and his Dad!

The Temple

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Alec will be going to the Las Vegas Temple on Saturday, November 14, 2009 at 3:00pm.  More to come...

Tuesday, October 27, 2009


There will be an Open House at the Raymond's on Saturday, November 28, 2009 from 5-7pm.  Elder Raymond's "Farewell" will be held on Sunday, November 29, 2009 at 9:00am.  All are welcome to attend.  

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Call has come!

On Thursday, October 22, 2009, Alec received his mission call to the...

Tennessee, Knoxville Mission

where he will be sharing the gospel in the Spanish language!

He will report to the Missionary Training Center on Wednesday, December 9, 2009.

and the story begins...