Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still "Crazy Busy"!

Dear Famiree (and everyone else too),

Things have been crazy busy around here! Three weeks ago we had four zone conferences during a single week. Two weeks ago we had twelve new missionaries, two of which were last minute additions, and we had to open several new areas. Last week was district leader training around the entire mission. Phew, this week's been a busy week again. Our apartment coordinator has had several companionships move to new apartments. Since we are responsible for such moves we have been driving all over the mission moving lots and lots of furniture and all the other random stuff that builds up in missionary apartments. It's nuts.... I don't think my mind, body, and spirit have ever been so exhausted! I'm pooped, haha.

It sounds like things have been pretty busy with everyone getting ready to go back to school. I can't believe Caiti and Kimmee are juniors!!! That's nutso! I didn't realize that they had started letting 12-year-olds go to high school! ;)

Anyway...sorry for not writing very much. We opened up a second area in our ward and gave them the productive half so that they could have some success. Unfortunately, that means that now we don't have any investigators...haha. We're looking, though! They'll come. They always do!

Anyway, I love you all oodles and oodles!

Elder Elder Raymond

6/19/11 Gimmee an "A" (it's a letter!)

Dear Famiree,
Howdy, howdy, howdy, howdy! (No I didn't have beans for dinner...just saying howdy...nothing more...)
Today was a great day! I always look forward to the Sabbath. This one was particularly wet and stormy. It had been very dry here since the beginning of June until a couple of days ago. The weather has sure made up for it! We have gotten a ton of rain and some good thunder. Yesterday we had a good bit of hail. It was only dime-size but it lasted for several minutes. We went out tracting after Church today and hoped that we wouldn't get too wet. We were sure surprised when the clouds parted and the sun actually came out for the first time in several days. By the time we went in for dinner there wasn't a cloud to be seen anywhere in the sky. It was quite pleasant if I do say so myself! We had a great lesson with a guy named J. Several weeks ago I was on exchange with one of the zone leaders, Elder Williams. All of our appointments had canceled and I was searching through the area book for the address of a former investigator that I remembered seeing earlier that week. As I browsed, J's teaching record jumped out at me. At first I just kept flipping through looking for the other record, and then went back to look at his. He hadn't really been taught much. He'd never come to Church or accepted a baptismal invitation, but I still felt like we should go see him. Elder Williams and I went to see him and he accepted a return appointment. We went back that Sunday with our ward mission leader but he wasn't there for our appointment. Usually that's a sure sign of a lack of interest, but my companion and I felt like we should keep trying for a while. We went back a couple of times but he was never at home. We gave up for a couple of weeks until a couple days ago. We felt that we should go back one more time to see if we could catch him at home. He was at home but didn't have time to meet with us that evening so we set up a return appointment for tonight. I'll admit that I was a little skeptical as to whether he would show or not, but we felt like we should still give him a try. He was there for our appointment, but was passed out asleep on his couch. We knocked and knocked and knocked trying to wake him up. We weren't giving up this time, haha. Anyway, he finally woke up and invited us in. We had one of the strongest lessons I've ever been in on my mission. He was very very receptive and excited about the message that we brought. He accepted the invitation to be baptized and bore testimony of the truth that he had been searching for his whole life that we had just taught him. He loves the idea of having a living prophet and the restored priesthood authority. He was pretty funny. When we invited him to be baptized he said "you know, I don't really know anything about what y'all believe or even what church you go to or anything, but I feel like there is something more to y'all and I want to be baptized." It was really neat to see the Spirit working in him as we taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It was a lot of fun! I love teaching the Gospel when the Spirit is present. One of my all-time favorite scriptures is D&C 50:21-22 "Therefore, why is it that ye cannot understand and know, that he that receiveth the word by the Spirit of truth receiveth it as it is preached by the Spirit of truth? Wherefore, he that preacheth and he that receiveth, understand one another, and both are edified and rejoice together." We were all edified and rejoiced together.
I love you all!!!
Elder A. Raymond

March - May "Letters"... At least we know he's alive! :)


I luv dew! I'm doing pretty well right now. Once the weather starts warming up consistently I'll probably start sending winter stuff home so I don't have to keep packing it every time I move....
Elder Raymond


Dear Famiree,
Sorry for not righting last week. We had a VERY interesting week. A week ago Friday, we got a call from the MTC that there were five missionaries waiting on their visas to go to Brazil that had been temporarily reassigned to our mission. They were scheduled to arrive the following Monday. We spent the weekend frantically trying to figure out where to put them and how to find beds for them. As it turns out, three of them are staying with us (a companionship of FIVE) and the other two are in a neighboring area (a companionship of three). Needless to say, it has been a little busy around here.

I'm doing great! The work is going very well right now in the mission. We have an all-time record number of baptismal commitments and the success is spread very evenly throughout the entire mission. We are starting to get ready for the mission president change in June. I don't remember if I've already told you or not, but the new mission president's name is Richard Irion. His wife is Elder Russel M. Nelson's daughter. Elder Nelson was the very first Apostle to visit our mission. He dedicated the mission home when the mission was created. There is a good chance that he will pay us the occasional visit. We will be very, very, very sad to see President and Sister Griffin leave, but we are excited to work with President and Sister Irion.

I love you all very much!

Thanks for writing me even when I don't write....

Elder Raymond


I'm really really sorry! I still haven't had time to write anything longer. Transfers are next week and we're swamped. More to come, I promise!
Elder Raymond


Dearest Famiree,
It has been an absolutely crazy week! It was transfers week already. I have a new companion! His name is Elder Rollins and he's from San Diego. Elder Lindner was transferred to the other ward in the same building. Not too far. Haha. It's nice to have him close by for when something comes up at the office that I've never done before. It's definitely been a growing experience trying to train a new assistant after having been an assistant for a grand total of a month.... One way or another, things always work out!

It's starting to warm up outside finally! I heard that it got up to 91 yesterday. The weather here is absolutely nuts. Last Monday was in the upper 80s and then we had frost on our windshield Tuesday and Wednesday. Now it's back up again! Oh well. At least we get some warm weather. :)

Anyway, thanks for the e-mail!

Love you'uns!
Elder Raymond

P.S. 'you'uns' is a rare word found only in Eastern Tennessee. It has a similar meaning to 'y'all' and is also found in various other forms such as 'we'uns' and 'they'uns.' Not kidding. :)


Dad was called as 2nd counselor again, eh? :) That should be fun. I'm sure Dad will be a great influence for good on the youth. Bryan's already getting his stuff?!? Man, that is so close!!! Tell him I have around 150 extra ties I'll mail him. Probably after he gets to the field so he doesn't have to worry about the weight when he flies. He's going to the temple in 2-3 weeks!!! I miss the temple so much. He is VERY lucky to have one in his mission. Mom, Good luck finding someone to hire that is bilingual who knows something about music.... I can't imagine there are too many around town. We did get hit with all the muck. We got some cool hail and lots and lots of fun wind! A couple weeks ago we had some major flooding. The main street through Knoxville looked like the Amazon River--three feet of red water from all the construction. Anyway, I love you lots!!!
Elder Raymond


Dear Famiree,
Just thought you'd like a quick note. The storms DID hit us. One of the areas in the mission is completely gone. All of the missionaries are safe and I got some really cool pictures of hail. It cracked our windshield really bad and put dents in the entire car. It was rrrrrrreal exciting!!! Anyway...
Love you all!
Elder Raymond


Hello hello! I'm at the office doing reports and things.... I can't really think of anything to write. It's too late to think clearly. :/ Just waiting for the last zone to call in and I figured I'd shoot you an e-mail!
I love you!
Elder Raymond

P.S. smells like fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiish...


Dear Famiree,
Sorry I haven't written much lately. Last week was transfers and this week our vehicle coordinator is out of commission with open-heart surgery...so the rest of the office staff has to do all of his stuff too....
Anyways, I'm so excited for Bryan!!! I've been telling EVERYONE that he's leaving next week. A couple missionaries have friends in his mission, but I can't remember any of their names. You got to go to the pink cow?!? We have a member in our ward who makes fantastic thai food. It's really yummy.
I love you all!!!
Elder Raymond


Dear Famiree,
We're doing good. Most everything has been blowing north of us.
Congratulations Caitibug (on lettering in track again)!!! avonapoeiwnvzlknvoiaewbnvoidsn (those are lots of "letters")
Congratulations Kimmeebear (on getting into LVA)!!! waaah wah wahahhaaa wwwwaaaahaaa (that's the sound violins and violas make)
Congratulations Elder Lord Byron of the Swamp!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm super duper aliuper excited for you!!!! Set apart already?!? Wowsers!!! Now there are two Elder Raymonds in the world!!! It's nice not to be the only one anymore... ;)
Love you!!!
Elder Raymond


The very end of this month is the mission president change. It's coming up so quick!!! We took Elder Woller to the airport yesterday morning. His two years were up! All the sisters I came out with go home in three weeks. It's crazy! I'm starting to feel old...haha.... :)