First things first, I have some important news! Living in
Hollidaysburg has allowed me to meet a lot of famous people in the
last two weeks. Here are just a few:
Dave Thomas (The founder of Wendy's and also a man who attends our
Tom Cruise (Famous actor and incredibly nice guy who lives near us)
Madonna (Famous singer and woman from the Philippines who lives by the Neuders)
John Kennedy (Former president of the united states and now our 2nd
Counselor in the Stake Presidency)
Ron Paul (Politician and the bishop of the Monongahela Ward.)
It's a pretty impressive list. I'm proud of myself. hahaha!
Alrighty, also I would very much enjoy having my memory card sent back
to me... my other one is full and I can't take any pictures. So please
send it back when you can! Also, I sent you a list a few weeks ago of
people I'd like to write... could you get their addresses for me? I
haven't gotten mail in almost 4 weeks. It would help me out if I could
write some people and maybe generate some flow of communication to
alleviate my crushing loneliness. haha!
This week was absolutely fantastic. We worked really hard and Elder
Harrison and I are having a blast. We get along too well... haha.
Monday night we taught a family in the ward how to make mormon.org
profiles. Everyone is making them here! Have you guys made profiles?
If not, you should! They are awesome and it's a fast and easy way to
do missionary work.
I went on an exchange with Elder Gale in Huntingdon from Monday night
until Wednesday morning. It was crazy for a while there because I was
completely out of clean clothes and had to do laundry at their place.
I just loaded my laundry bag up in the car and took it with me haha.
It was fun. Elder Gale is a cool guy. We spent the entire day on foot
walking around Lewistown. We met some wonderful people. Elder Gale and
his companion were inspired by the Zone Conference training and they
were trying super hard to exercise more faith when finding people to
teach. Elder Gale knelt down and prayed sincerely about where we
needed to go and we got an answer! He was really surprised. It was
cool. So we walked all the way across town to the street and found
that there were absolutely no houses on it.
In all honesty, I doubted a little bit. We stood there at a stop sign
and looked up and down the empty street. It was one of those streets
where all of the sides of the houses faced the street - no front
doors. Nowhere to knock. I rocked back on my heels and snapped my
fingers and said, "Wellllll? Darn. What should we do?" Elder Gale just
looked at me full of faith and said, "You pray." So we prayed in
faith. Then the Lord led us down the street and we met Alex, a 16 year
old kid who had a lot of questions about God. He also happened to have
a free hour. So we taught him a lesson about the Restoration of the
Gospel on the porch and he asked for a Book of Mormon. It was great!
Elder Gale isn't the best teacher in the world, but he has a powerful
testimony of the gospel and did his very best, and it didn't matter
how he taught. He was a man without eloquence or talent for public
speaking, and he conveyed the spirit and message of the restoration
more valiantly than I did.
Elder Gale and I had a great time. We had dinner with the Yoder
family. Brother Yoder had just gotten out of prison. He had been in
there for 6 months. Elder Jamieson served in Huntingdon and used to go
visit him with the Branch President while he was imprisoned. They
wrote each other letters back and forth, and he'd read some of them to
me. He read all of the standard works while he was there and had such
depth and insight into the scriptures. Some of the comments he made
changed my views about the atonement for the better. It was great to
finally meet the man in person. He helped me out. I told him so and he
just got a glimmer in his eye. "Good. I'm glad it wasn't all for
His story is incredible. He has 5 children. 4 of them are very
successful with families of their own, all active in the church. But
one of his daughters is a heroin addict. They did all they could to
help her, but she kept causing problems and hurting the family. When
he told her they could not provide financial assistance anymore, she
went to the police and accused him of 240 accounts of assault and
abuse. He was called at work by the police, and they came and
apprehended him. He lost his business, was shunned by his neighbors,
and even had family turn against him. It was supposed to be a quick
case - his lawyer just told him to take the plea bargain and to take a
shortened sentence - but he knew he was innocent and so he pled not
guilty every time. There were a bunch of other crazy stipulations that
led to him being in prison for so long, but after 6 months of prayer
and fasting, his daughter confessed, he was released, all charges were
cleared, and he walked out a free man. It was powerful to hear him
speak. The only way I could explain it is that he sounded and looked
like a general authority. His wife had stuck by him the whole time.
She is wonderful as well. The Spirit was so very strong in his home as
we met with them and he shared his insights. He held no resentment
towards his daughter or towards what had happened. He said, "The
Savior got me through. Just like he prospered Job, he prospered me.
All things come back to you again and are restored if you endure
patiently and faithfully. There is always hope. Always." He is such a
knowledgeable man. He was quoting President Eyring and President
Monson and President Hinckley extensively. He said, "Prison gave me a
lot of time for personal study." He laughed. That's an incredible man.
That night we went out with a member and taught a lesson. He's from
Arizona but he's living out here for work. He took us back to his
place to meet his room mate who loves talking with the missionaries.
His room mate was the bass player for a time for Bon Jovi and Alice
Cooper and owns his own recording studio in Phoenix. His son runs it
now and he's chillin' in PA with Brother Hunsaker, his lifelong
friend. They're hilarious. They remind me a lot of Kevin Athey and
Ryan Wilson. It brought back memories. I told them about Two Thumb
Jack and he gave me all of his personal information to give to Reed.
He said he'd love to meet with them and maybe record some tracks if
they'd be willing to meet him in Phoenix. I'll be passing the info
along. Hopefully it helps them out! haha.
Wednesday morning we had a great District Meeting from Elder Palmer. I
got to see a lot of missionaries I've served around in the past, one
of which was Elder Hatch. He set a great example for me early on
during an exchange. He taught me diligence and the importance of
talking with everyone, no matter what the outcome may be. I also met
Sister Romero - she went to BYU, was in a play with Elder Harrison,
and knows some of my friends. It was pretty cool. I love the mission.
After district meeting we spent the afternoon with Elder and Sister
Neuder. We went and met with Sister Lucas and The Clarks. They're less
active members because they're elderly and in need of service and
attention. So it was good to go and visit with them. They live in this
huge palace in the middle of Altoona. It's for people 55 and up, but
the walls are covered with gold and marble and the floors are nice
tile and the whole place smells like cookies. It's like living in a
super nice hotel. They even have a restaurant in the back. I'd live
there if I was 55.
We had a great lesson with Rebecca, one of the people we're teaching,
after that. The Bucks came to the lesson and were there before we
arrived. We taught her on her porch. We began with a prayer and
afterward she let us know that she'd read 19 chapters of the Book of
Mormon and absolutely loved it. She is so smiley and bubbly and happy.
I just think she's the greatest. She wanted to learn more about the
Tree of Life and so we read through the chapter and explained it. She
asked the Bucks for a ride to church right there on the spot. It was a
lot of fun. I enjoy teaching her.
We had scripture class that night with Sister Lucas and Brother
Stombaugh. Normally we have a higher turnout but since summer is in
full swing people have been out of town. It was a great class
regardless. We read 2nd Nephi 32 and 33. We talked a lot about the
atonement and Sister Lucas got some questions answered. She's been
away from the church for a while and her testimony has weakened just
from a lack of study and care. She felt guilty for not living like she
knew she should, but Brother Stombaugh bore his testimony of the power
of the atonement. I love him. He's in his 50s and joined the church
only around 5 years ago and is already a High Priest. He's my favorite
guy I've met in the ward.
We had a good district meeting with our own district in Bedford on
Thursday. We all had lunch together at the church. We've started a
thing where we all make and eat food together instead of eating out.
It's way more fun. And way cheaper! Then the Neuders drove us out to
Claysburg and we met Tracey and her kids. She ordered a DVD like 3
years ago and never got it... so we delivered it. She wants to learn
more about Christ. We're coming back tonight.
We met with the Kellers after that. Sister Keller broke both of her
ankles and just got out of the hospital.She was there for 6 months. We
were able to teach them a great lesson and give her a blessing. She's
doing a lot better and really loves learning about the gospel.
There's a lady named Robin that had us over for dinner that night.
She's a missionary mom, but she's not a member. Her son joined the
church in Arizona and is serving in California. Somehow he got a hold
of us and gave us his mom's information and told us to go visit her.
We had a lovely evening talking with her. She wants to learn more
about the Book of Mormon to understand her son. "I probably won't
become a latter-day saint," she said, "But who knows? My son sure
likes it and it's made a huge difference in him." She's an incredible
cook. Apparently I'm a lot like her son Trevor. He went to ASU for
music production and he plays the drums and writes music. He's going
to BYU after his mission. She told me I had to hang out with him.
Roger and Katie invited us over for a lesson that night. Katie has
been going to church with her fiance Roger off and on for about 6
months. I guess she decided last week that she wants to get baptized.
So we showed up just expecting a normal lesson, but after the opening
prayer she said, "I know the Book of Mormon is true and I'm hoping to
get baptized in August. Lets meet every Tuesday at 7:00. Teach me
everything I need to do to make it happen." We were shocked. It was a
good lesson. She wants to quit smoking and so we got her some
Grapefruit Juice and Cinnamon Mouthwash. It kills nicotine cravings if
you use them together and works really well.
Friday was a really chill day for us. We'd been working really hard,
so we took some time to update our area book, weekly plan, do zone
leader paper work, etc. We went out to teach Sherry a lesson with
Brother Cook in Claysburg, but she had to take her baby to the store
to buy diapers. haha. She tried to call us but our phone was dead. But
we rescheduled. Then we met with Sister Showalter. She's incredible.
She joined the church after she had a tractor crash and tip over on
her and the missionaries healed her. Woah. She's been having some
health problems so we stopped in. She just loves us.
The Cooks fed us that night. I love them. The ward here is full of
great people. We ended the night visiting the Smith family. They're
trying to get back to the temple. They joined the church and were
sealed, but they went less active except for Brother Smith who served
in the Bishopric. So their daughters have never been to the temple
except for when they were really little. So we had a lesson about the
temple and we're seeing them again this Sunday. I love helping people!
Saturday was just awesome! Rich, a guy we're teaching who lives down
the street from us, invited us to go on a hike with him at one of the
state parks. So we went. We have a lot in common with him. All 3 of us
are eagle scouts so we talked a good deal about scouting memories and
stuff. It was fun.
We had a lesson with a guy named Richard. He's been meeting with
missionaries for a year now. He bore his testimony to us. He was
supposed to get baptized in August, but his daughter has been going
through some serious mental and emotional issues and it has caused
tons of problems in the family, so that's delayed for now. But he
thanked us for coming over. He's a great guy and he laughs like Will
After that we helped these people set up a canopy in their back yard.
It was a mom and her daughter. We were walking by and saw them
struggling with it and so we offered to help. They said "YES! PLEASE
HELP US!" haha. We got it up in like two seconds. They'd been trying
for an hour. They thanked us. Apparently the daughter was having a
birthday party for her one year old, so she invited us to the party.
It was kind of her.
After that we walked around the neighborhood and talked to people. We
met a girl named Barbie. She's our age but she has two little boys:
Owen and Andre. Owen is 2 and Andre is 6 months. Cute kids. Owen loves
to talk non-stop, but he can't speak English yet. Barbie was way cool.
She was interested in learning more about the church and agreed to let
us come back the next day. She was watching Owen swim in the kiddie
pool. As we were getting ready to leave Owen took his shorts off and
ran around naked through the yard and she had to chase him down!
hahahaha! Tooooooo funny. We met some other cool people, like Tony. He
is a facilitator for Alcoholics Anonymous and has been sober for 6
years. He talked with us for about an hour and gave us water. Doug is
a retired career Marine. He gave us water as well and we talked to him
on his porch. We'll be stopping by later this week to see how they've
Church was great on Sunday! Rebecca and Katie came to church. They
both loved it. Rebecca really enjoys reading and learning. Katie bore
her testimony in Relief Society. The Elder's quorum lesson didn't have
a whole lot of true doctrine in it, but the teacher figured that out
half way through and started using the scriptures, so it ended well.
We had a good lesson with Barbie after church. She even brought her
friend Meghan. Elder Harrison and I had a feeling that she just
thought we were cute, so we brought our friend David with us just in
case. haha! We were right. They were all dressed up nice. I felt
really bad because they went through the extra effort. They were
disappointed when they found out we don't date on our missions. But
then they discovered the joy of the gospel. During the lesson their
drunk neighbor showed up and started telling us we were a cult and had
20 wives and a bunch of other stuff. Barbie and Meghan told them, "No,
we invited them here. They've answered a lot of questions and they're
really nice people. They're not trying to force us to do anything.
They just want to talk about God. In fact, we're having them back over
on Wednesday." This was news to us. "You don't belong here, Rick. Get
going!" I just wanted to cheer for them. haha way to defend the truth!
It was cool. They thanked us for coming over and we said a prayer and
set up a time for Wednesday. Then Owen took his pants off again and
ran down the street. SOOO funny.
They've got a lot of potential, but we're always going to make sure to
have a member of the church at lessons with us... we want them to love
the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Not our ridiculous good looks. haha! We're
meeting at the church on Wednesday.
Sunday night we helped the Neuders locate some less active members of
the church. We're doing a big project and making sure all of our
records are up to date and current. It was cool. Also, this guy tried
to cast a devil out of me. He put his hand on my head and it was
really awkward. I just waited patiently for him to finish (you know,
just to make sure he got it out) and then told him, "Thanks for the
help, sir!" And we went down the street. haha. I love my life.
Well, that was my week! Sorry the letter was super long. We're working
hard! To answer your questions, the ward is moderately sized. We have
over 100 people attending. Altoona is the size of Vancouver. We cover
the whole county though, so that's like 2 missionaries for all of
Clark County. They are feeding us, our apartment is huge (though we
had to clean it out), and everything is going well.
Congrats on the Union Choirs! That's an honor! Tell Jonny I'm jealous
I didn't get to go to conference. I love April Meservy, Brad Wilcox,
and the Nashville Tribute band! I listen to all 3 of them out here.
What do you want me to wear when I take a picture for my cardboard
cutout? A suit? Or just a white shirt and the wedding tie?
Alright, gotta go! Send me stuff please!