Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Here's Elder Raymond's letter this week! He loves getting mail... letters, cards, or packages (via priority mail... I've found the flat rate boxes are the cheapest way to go, they take about 1 week to get to him, if sent any other way they can take a month or more before they reach him)

Dear Famiree,

It's been a very eventful week. You may or may not have gotten the phone call from the mission office on Monday. I'll just go day by day:

Monday - We totaled our car. We were driving down the road, going straight through a green light when somebody turned left in front of us. We slammed on the brakes, but to no avail. KABOOM!!! Airbags smell like burning hair...or that could have been burning hair...not really sure.... Anyway, my companion and I are both okay. Our poor car, not so much. Back to a bike area! :) (Side note: I spoke to Alec's Mission President, he said Alec was driving, the accident wasn't his fault, and other then injured pride and some bruising from the airbags- no bleeds- he and his companion are fine. It's comforting his Mission President is also a doctor! - Darlene)

Tuesday - An AMAZING day! We had a special zone conference with Elder Paul Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy. He is the administrator of religious education for the Church Educational System. That means he's in charge of BYU (all of them), Institute (all of them), and Seminary (all of them). He gave excellent training on different ways to teach and learn different types of knowledge. He called my companion and I to role-play to him and his wife as though we had just tracted into them. We knocked, they answered the door and it quickly became clear that they spoke Norwegian...not English. My companion asked them if they spoke Spanish and they said that they spoke a little bit. In Spanish, we asked them if we could watch the Restoration in Norwegian. :) It was pretty fun. After the conference, one of the companionships in my district had a baptism that we went to. It went very well.

Wednesday - One of the elders in my district had a bike accident. He essentially clotheslined himself in the mouth with a three-inch metal bar. He broke several teeth, split both lips and his tongue. We spent six hours in the ER with him.... That was fun.

Thursday - THANKSGIVING!!! We had breakfast with one of the families in the English ward. We had bacon and sausage and bacon and biscuits and gravy and bacon and pancakes and bacon. It was really really really yummy. Then we had Thanksgiving dinner with another family from the English ward. We had all the standard stuff. One of the family's daughters is engaged to a member in the Spanish ward and he made a humongous delicious flan. He and I were the only ones who like it...so...we ate it all.... It was YUMMY.

Friday - I had my last district meeting as a district leader. I trained on receiving revelation through the Book of Mormon. It went really well. That evening, the sisters in my district went home to a flooded apartment. Their water heater had leaked all over their kitchen, bathroom, and hallway. The every-other-day curse continues. Now everyone in my district has had an 'exciting' experience this week.

Saturday - I found out I was being released as a district leader...and called as a zone leader. I'll be leaving on Wednesday. That means I'll have very limited opportunity to use Spanish since there are no Spanish zone leader areas. It should be interesting. (Pres. Griffin said he uses Alec a lot for training other Elders... he said he is a very effective teacher and an excellent example.) :)
Sunday - The elder who smashed his face left to go to Morristown, Tennessee to get his teeth fixed. His companion is in a trio with Elder Kenyon and I until we get transferred on Wednesday.

Monday - I'm writing about my exciting and slightly nerve-wracking week in an e-mail home to my family.

I did get my box! I'm actually wearing one of the sweaters now. I think it's blue...not really sure...but I think so. :)

The weather is starting to get fairly chilly. Right about 30-40 at night and 40-60 during the day. We've been getting lots of rain. I heard everything out west is under blizzard warnings. Is there a chance you might see some white palm trees this winter? ;)

Well, I love you all and I'm going to try to send some pictures so, hasta luego!

Elder Raymond

Pres. Griffin also said he has several Elders in his mission that have NO family support. We are going to send some extra Christmas goodies to Sis. Griffin for those missionaries. If anyone is interested in sending stuff, email me and I'll give you more info on items requested and where to send it. Here is Elder Raymond's "list"...

Dear Santa,

This year for Christmas I would greatly enjoy receiving:

- A CHEAP portable DVD player (President Griffin has authorized the use of portable DVD players for training other missionaries and for watching Gospel DVDs in investigators' homes).

- A CHEAP GPS (to save on time and miles and gas, especially since I'm going to be doing a lot more driving now...) (Santa already got one for him)





My wish list is not necessarily in any particular order.
Elder Raymond
Some things never change! ;)

First of all, sorry for not writing very much lately...like for several months.... I've been really, really, really busy. I do feel bad for not writing though. The biggest problem is that I can never figure out how to put my experiences into words, so I usually don't even try. This week, I don't have much time, but I'll try. :)

We have a special zone conference tomorrow where I'm hoping to see my package. If it's not there, I'll say something to them about forwarding it to me. Elder Paul V. Johnson of the First Quorum of the Seventy will be there. There is not a single person in our zone that plays piano, so I volunteered to give it a try. It should be...exciting.... :)

I have a breakfast appointment and a dinner appointment and about 15 other offers for Thanksgiving. I'll not be going hungry.

Things are going great. Extremely difficult and frustrating at times, but great. We just had another baptism on Saturday. It was a deaf gentleman. He can speak very well and reads lips, so we were able to communicate. My limited sign-language vocabulary of things you would say to a two-year-old (sit, stop, eat, more, yes, no, and shrimp) was not of much help...but it was fun trying. :) It was a wonderful experience to see someone we tracted into change his life, stop smoking, make the covenant of salvation through baptism, and get the gift of the Holy Ghost. I'll have pictures next week.

As far as challenges I'm facing...pretty much anything Satan can rustle up. It's actually kind-of funny sometimes to see the wacky things he can come up with. He magically dropped off an unopened box of cigarettes and a lighter at the deaf man's house between his baptism and confirmation. He didn't fall for that one, but it was definitely interesting.

We have had great success recently. One of the guys we baptised has received the Aaronic priesthood and hasn't missed a Sunday since his first. Another is doing great. Several other families that were baptized a while ago are finally coming out of the bumps most people experience right after baptism and are doing very well.

The language is fine. I can understand about 99% and have no difficulty expressing myself. It's actually really cool and a wonderful opportunity.

As a missionary, thank you for your help with people investigating the church. One single person speaking under the influence of the Holy Ghost is often (not sometimes, but often) the turning point in an investigator's progression towards baptism. You are a great help to the missionaries there.

One last little blurb from the soap-box: Study the scriptures. Learn what they say. Read them. Learn the history behind the events and experiences of the prophets that have walked this earth. Treasure up the words of life. Learn and apply the doctrine of Christ. It will save you and exalt you. We have to do everything we can to gain eternal life, and then the Lord does everything. We cannot exalt ourselves. Nor can we be exalted by grace until after all we can do.

Tell everyone I say 'hi'!


Elder Raymond