I loved the pictures! Thank you so much for sending some. It's good to see you guys. Jonny and Sammy look so old! haha. I loved the panorama of the living room. Very cool. Is there like a panoramic shot app on the ipad/iphone? =) I will talk to president Topham about registering for classes and all that jazz. It'll get done. I'm glad I actually have a date that I need to do it by/after. I've got one more month of no worries! haha! Are you all feeling better? I sure hope so! Also, tell Harrison and Dad sorry that I didn't write them back last week. Time has been short. I'll be able to email a lot more once I get released. Time is flying by here! Did Sammy get my Christmas card?
Well, here is my week! Let's go.
Monday: We had to drive to Chambersburg for an exchange, so after hanging out with the district for an hour or so we got in the car and headed east. We hit some pretty dense fog and it slowed us down quite a bit. I was driving the car for 5 hours. We were starving so we went through the drive thru at Taco Bell. That gift card Harrison and Jenni sent me came in handy. Then we got back on the free way and ate while we drove. Ugh. We made it in around 10:30 PM. Elder Bartlett went with Elders Scott and Clark and I stayed in Downtown Chambersburg with Lozano and Larsen. Then we went straight to bed.
Tuesday: Epic day. I went with Elders Lozano and Larsen, two Elders I picked up from the airport (though they came in different transfers). They are doing so well. We had a great study in the morning. It's cool to see new missionaries suddenly become seasoned ones. I was really impressed with them. They are in a walking area downtown, so they naturally wanted to use our car for the day so they wouldn't have to walk. Unfortunately, Elder Bartlett took the keys with him and so we ended up having to walk anyway. Good thing though, because it was the nicest day in 3 months and we got to spend it outside! Sunshine, clear blue sky, weather in the 60's. I didn't wear a sweater or anything. It was awesome. We walked about 12 or 13 miles that day. I was feeling pretty energized. We had a cool experience: we were walking on our way to try someone, and I felt prompted to cross the street. Lozano said to Larsen, "Either he's really random, or he's really in tune with the Spirit." I crossed the street, knocked a door, and no one was home. So I headed next door, and a girl came around the corner walking her dogs. Her name was Brittiny (That's how she spells it). We started talking to her and really hit it off! She gave us her phone number, explained that she'd been going through a really difficult time with her family, and we got a return appointment. It was great talking with her. As we walked away, I explained the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They told the King, "We know that the Lord can deliver us from the fiery furnace, BUT IF NOT, we will still not bow down to your idols." Paraphrase central, but it's something like that. I explained that true faith is engendered in that principle. I felt prompted to cross the street. That I knew. I didn't know why, so I knocked a door, thinking: "I know the Lord has the power to have this door open and have there be someone waiting for us, but if not, I know I was told to cross the street for someone, so I'll go until I find them." And we did. If I had just given up, the miracle wouldn't have happened. Elder Larsen said, "Now I know what it's like to go tracting with an apostle." Haha! We went and made contact with all the Less Active members in their area that they'd never met before and no one in the ward knew about. We had some positive experiences. We found one man who was baptized in Nauvoo but hadn't been to church in 10 years. His wife had died, and they hadn't been sealed. He wants to be sealed to her. I hope that goes somewhere. We also ran into this one lady who was friends with a member of the church. She was a real estate agent and was about to show an apartment. She loves talking to the Elders every time they come by since her friend was a missionary. She pointed at us each individually. She said to me, "You're about to go home in 6 months or less, since you are the most relaxed," then she pointed to Elder Lozano, "You're senior companion, but you're under a year," and then she pointed to Elder Larsen and said, "And you're brand new, because you look scared to death." DEAD ON. haha! It was impressive. She was cool. We met up with the other Elders and had dinner at the Carsons' home. They are from New York. They not only fed us, but they bought each companionship milk, eggs, bread, and bacon. Super nice of them! After that we went to the church to teach an English class to Spanish people. the last week they had almost 20 people there. This week no one came. Sad. So we went and had a lesson with Chester and Maya, two people the elders are teaching. They are doing so good. Maya said, "I just want to get baptized SO bad! I want the gift of the Holy Ghost!" She is from Denmark. She made us hot sauce and eggs. haha. It was actually pretty good. We returned to the apartment after that and planned. Larsen fell asleep immediately but Elder Lozano and I had a good time talking. We swapped pictures and talked about our friends and family and favorite memories.
Wednesday: We studied with the Elders again and then went to their district meeting to pick up some stuff Elder Kartchner had left behind so we could take it to him (he's on the other side of the mission now). We got to see Elder Jones! He's the district leader in Chambersburg. It was an epic reunion. It was so good to see him. We drove home for 5 hours after that. Then we unpacked. It was time for dinner by that time so we picked up the Dormont elders and went to "Uncle Mike's" house for dinner. We got to see his room mate Dave who is also a member of the church. He made us hot sausage and asparagus. We had Book of Mormon class after that, but no one showed up this week. Bummer. We waited around for a bit but then Jessica, a girl in our ward, asked if she could practice the organ since no one was there. So we let her. haha. We dropped off the Dormont Elders and then we headed back and got started on our Zone Leader Council training.
Thursday: We had a lesson with Madalyn at 9 AM at the church with President Topham. We talked about the Godhead. She told her conversion story to President and explained how happy she feels every time she comes to church or follows a Spiritual prompting. She says she gets more of them now that she has been confirmed and it helps her in her art and in serving others. It was a great lesson. We had district meeting after that. Then we went to the office. We had to revise and make clear the music rules for the mission since there has been some disobedience with regards to the subject. We worked on it for about 2 hours but weren't getting anywhere. So I went and had a good prayer on my own and came back. We got right back into it and it came together. It covers everything, and there's no room for loopholes. It's perfect. I'll attach a copy of it and send it to you. Then we prepped our training. Once we were done we went tracting for a few hours. It was 18 degrees outside. REALLY cold. We went to this one house and knocked on the door. No answer. So we knocked louder and the dog started barking, but no one came to the door. So we decided we'd try one more time even though no one was home. But then a baby started crying. We looked at each other in horror and said, "TIME TO GO!" And we booked it. We felt really bad. Luckily no one came to the door. haha. We didn't meet anyone promising. We went home and had dinner - the young women made us a frozen meal. Then after that we finalized our training and then got the apartment ready to hold 8 zone leaders. They showed up and we had a great time. Elder Vaioleti is on the council now and it was good to see him. He stayed in our room on the top bunk. Elders Spohn and Mouritsen slept on the air mattresses in our room as well. They had a special request for a story of mine that has become pretty popular out here in the mission - my biggest college dating fail.
Friday: Woke up at 5:45 AM because there was only 1 bathroom and 10 people in the apartment. We all had to be ready by 8:00 AM. The shower was running constantly. The Buehners (pronounced Beeners) fed me and 4 zone leaders breakfast. Elder bartlett and the other 4 went with the Warnocks. They are the two office couples. The Buehners replaced the Bowcuts this last week. They are really nice. The Buehners, Warnocks, and Tophams were all friends back home, so it's kind of cool to have them all together. Zone Leader Council was after that and it went really well. Elder Jamieson had a really good tutorial for how to make awesome area books (he's known in the mission for having the best) and so we presented that formally to the council. We had a good training. All of the Zone Leaders, who before had had disagreements with regards to music regulations, were all in agreement after we proposed our rule. They said it was genius and felt like it was fair and inspired. This council is so awesome. There was so much love during the whole meeting. We are all good friends and we are all working hard. It was good to see. I had a sad realization half way through the meeting: I was the oldest one on the council (next to Elder Reese - we came out together) and it was my last zone leader council of my life. Unless I become a mission president. It was bittersweet. After the council meeting, Elder Warnock came with us to visit Sister Mosey, a returning member of the church. She fed us spaghetti. We had a good lesson with her. She's doing so well! She has regained a testimony of the Book of Mormon and is loving it. Nick and Jess had us over after and we had a splendid lesson on the first two Christlike Attributes from Preach My Gospel. We taught by the Spirit and all of us were visibly affected by how much we had learned and the Spirit in the room.
Saturday: Woke up early so we could pick up the Dormont Elders. Brother Hemmert was going hunting so he couldn't have correlation later in the day, so he invited us over for breakfast and correlation. He made us bacon and these awesome pancakes. Instead of using water or milk in the mix, use Sprite. It thickens them up and makes them sweet. They were so good! We got to work on a ward mission plan for the year. After that we did our weekly planning. I felt inspired to send a mass text out to the mission, just letting all the missionaries know that they were loved and cared about. The response was overwhelming. Apparently a lot of people needed to hear that. It was cool. Then we went tracting in the snow. One guy opened the door and looked really frightened that we were there. He said, "Please, go away." I said, "But -" He said, "Please, leave now. Just no. Go away." And then he kept crossing himself. Then he crossed me. Then he kept doing it - like I was a vampire. So we left. haha! Very strange. It was awesome. We street contacted a guy and introduced ourselves. He said he was "Elder Dan." Turns out he's a member of the Community of Christ (Former the RLDS church). He invited us back. It'll be interesting to talk to him. He was really cool. I'm hoping to score an Inspired Version of the Bible off of him. =D The Krafts had us over for dinner that night. Man, I love that family. They're so cool. We had this chicken and rice vegetable soup. It was so good. Their son and I talked about Zelda pretty much the whole time. He's cool. After that Caroline came with us to Tori and TJ's and we had a lesson on the first two standards from the For Strength of Youth pamphlet. It would have been a good way to end the night, except TJ beat me in an arm wrestling match. =(
Sunday: Sunday was really tiring. After studies we had to go in for early meetings. It was fast sunday, so I was starving. Several investigators were having some personal struggles and they asked to talk to me, so I missed sacrament meeting. Luckily Elder Bartlett sent one of the Deacons to the Relief Society Room so I could take the sacrament. That was nice. But I didn't get to bear my testimony. It was my last opportunity to do so in this ward. Kind of sad. But the Savior would have sacrificed that in order to spend one on one time with those who really needed it. It was satisfying, but tiring. President and Sister Topham had us and Nick and Jess over for dinner after church. It was delicious. A lot of snack food for the Superbowl, even though we weren't watching it. We had a lesson about Charity and Love after dinner. Then Elder Bartlett and I visited Brother Trout. He's doing well - in good spirits and he's getting active in the church again - but his health is declining.