Tuesday, August 27, 2013

What Is Missionary Life Life? - 27 August 2013

Mom's note:

For those who aren't familiar with LDS missions... A mission is not something that you go into and "have fun", as the world would classify "fun".  These young men pay for their missions themselves and voluntarily "check" every thought, every dream, every desire, every activity, EVERYTHING at the door when they walk through the Missionary Training Center doors.  For two years they will have no TV, no radio, no movies, no shopping (other than for strict necessities), no sports, no ocean/beach, no CD's, no DVD's, no cell phones, no iPods, no electronics of any kind, no pictures, no books, no magazines, NOTHING.  They spend 100% of their time on spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ and serving others. No phone calls home other than 1 at Christmas and 1 at Mother's Day. No mail, other than 1 hour each week for emailing family (sometimes friends). There is not "down time" at all. Every minute of every day from 6:30am until 10:30pm is scheduled for something that has to do with spreading the Gospel. They have only 3/4's of one day (Mondays) when they have "off" in order to get letters written, laundry done, personal shopping for necessities done, service done, a little Exercise time, and reports turned in. Then it's back to bed and wake up at 6:30am.  Seven days a week.  They give 100% of their life to the Lord during these two years. They also live either in low-end apartments or someone's home (older couples who have no children living at home), in usually very meager circumstances. They get around on bikes. In certain areas or at certain times they might have use of a conservative car.

If that wasn't enough they, more often than not, meet folks who yell out bad names at them in public, spit at them, slam doors in their face, throw objects at them, and try their best to shamelessly ridicule them in public.  It is TOUGH to keep up a good attitude in the face of all that, day-in/day-out, for two years.  (Jonathan has had all of those happen to him already, on a daily basis).  Yet, the fact that they are literally called of God and set apart through the laying on of hands by the authority of the Holy Priesthood as His emissaries, doing His work, means that they are also the recipients of great miracles and blessings, which helps provide them with added protection and strength. It is not uncommon to see them stop by their way and help someone carry groceries, or help someone work on that fence, or carry heavy boxes, etc.  They are all about serving humankind and inviting them to come to Christ. What a wonderful blessing these two years are for these young men!

It is easy to understand why anyone who writes missionaries is asked to (1) keep their communications a decent length (not too long) , and (2) to keep their communications uplifting, inspiring, focused on positive things, and nothing that would cause the missionary to lose focus on the work of the Lord. Anything that will encourage the missionary and help him feel supported, loved, and like continuing the work of helping others come unto Christ, is a good thing. ;)

Now when you see an LDS missionary next, you will know what they are about, what they do, what they suffer at the hands of others, what they are gratefully and happily sacrificing, and hopefully you'll invite them in to hydrate them or feed them. They'd be very happy if you did. :)

-You don't have to be LDS to offer them water, lunch, or dinner! ;) -

And you'll know that somewhere in the world there are two VERY thankful Moms who are missing their boys very much and offering prayers of thanksgiving for people like you who help feed and watch out for them while they serve God. :)  Thank you, from one of those moms!

Since no one had offered or signed up to feed these missionaries dinner Sunday night, they were headed home after meetings at Church. Their Stake President ran into them and asked them if they had dinner that night. They said 'no'. So he invited them to have dinner with him, at his house.  His wife and children had already eaten dinner earlier, so these men just had the left overs.  The wife took this picture and they emailed it to us that night.

Warms our hearts and makes them do the "happy dance" that someone would be so kind enough to feed our missionary sons, and then also take the time to think of their mothers, snap a photo, get their emails, and send the photo to us moms.  It has meant so much!!

We, too, try to do the same for the missionaries in our area.  We like to think of it as a "Pay Forward" kind of thing. :)

The Elders with the Lancaster Stake President after a long Sabbath day.
No dinner appointment that night, so the Stake President and his wife graciously offered to feed them! They were happy boys! And we are grateful parents!

Monday, August 26, 2013

Mission Letter Week 6 - 26 August 2013

Emily, Those sketches of Lindsey Stirling...

Drawings of Lindsey Stirling by Mama (top left) and Emily (all others) that we shared with Elder Nine

... are way awesome and I bragged about them to my whole District! :D  Some of them have not seen her - but those are very accurate pictures, so now they have seen her.  Super good stuff.

That is a GREAT understanding of that scripture (2 Nephi 25:28) :) I'm glad that you are getting the hang of scripture study. As time goes by and you get older it becomes more and more important to read the scriptures AND understand the teachings in them. That's the most important part, is understanding them. So I'm glad you're doing that!

SCONT (Statesmanship Club of North Texas) is WAY cool and you'll have a ton of fun with A and all the other people there. They are good people and awesome friends. :) I heard the story last time of Daddy being goofy at a meeting and all. Haha! Make sure to have fun...but also make sure to pay super close attention 'cuz they teach very good and important stuff in SCONT. :)

What you said about the place your bed is in (what used to be my bedroom) being the same spot I slept in and how it gave you comfort, almost like I was right next to you, made me cry happy tears, Emi. I'm glad that it brings more comfort to think of that. :')

EWWW STINKY TOES!! That "home movie" we made about 6 years ago is super goofy!  We were quite the silly bunch! :)

Good to hear from you Emi! I love you!!

Marmy, Stake Pres. C is SO COOL! And, yeah, we've been over twice in the last week to eat and share a message and are going again tonight.  Sister C loves the missionaries! hahaha. I believe we've already talked about his son in the Lyon, France, mission and Elder A......I think... I don't know, I'll bring it up again. :)

WAIT. C is NOT an Eagle!?!?!? NOOOOOO :'(  Oober sadness. (Mom's Note: my computer auto-corrected the accidentally misspelled word "now" and inserted "not" instead.  I meant to share with him that "Colin is now an Eagle Scout".  What a sad mistake to make!)

That's way awesome about K and M though!! Sorry…Sisters M and M.  They will be sooo awesome! And having sisters in the mission is not only fun/funny/cool but it is also SOOOO important. They add SO MUCH to the work in a way that sometimes, oft times Elders cannot. That's awesomeness! :) I know they'll be great missionaries!

That's also super cool about T and B's family opening up a Bed & Breakfast in Florence, Italy!! That sounds like quite the set up over there. :) I hope it works out for them. Maybe I'll visit Italy when I get home! ;)

As for the news about Mrs R (that she retired from the school job) I think that will actually be very good for her so she's less "stretched". She is a wonderful and an amazing teacher. And, yes, we do wish them the bestest. :)

I am definitely writing you first from now on! :D I'm sorry I wasn't. I was just getting into my habit of just replying to emails in the order they come...but the others can wait if I run out of time.  :)

GAHH! I totally forgot my camera and I just remembered it!!!!! :O I'll send pictures next week. SORRY!

We use the Stake Center for emails which is why we get kicked off after an hour and a half. haha!

No baptismal clothes have arrived yet (that you shipped me). No bike either. :'( YES BACK PACK!! :D THAT MADE ME SOOO HAPPY!! I can carry way more water now too!

My back is great now, now that I've switched to the singularly most amazing bag EVER!! :D And the sheets and towels are just fine. :) Thank you for those as well!!

A difficult time?? Well I know the emails have been short and all but I'm feeling FANTASTIC!! :D I love the work and my District and even the whole Zone! Our ward is the "lowest producing" ward in our Stake as far as conversions go......and just in the last week Elder N and I, WITH the Spirit of the Lord, have started to pull a huge 180 on that statistic. BRING IT ON. We are so pumped for the work! haha. I even have a super awesome story I'll share when I'm done with answering the questions you asked. :)

I'm eating SOOOO MUCH because I burn SOOOO MUCH of it off! hahaha. Actually I'm not eating all THAT much.  And sleeping is great! I have a sweet bed and getting to sleep isn't really an issue...never has been since the MTC...which shocked me. I bet a million the spirit is helping me on that one! ;)

And yes... the Journal is SUPER AWESOME and a great way to close every day! :D

As for help from your end.....MAKE THE BIKE APPEAR INSTANTLY! :) The one I'm borrowing is killing my leg muscles......although they feel super nice now. (*eyebrow dance* - Haha!) And when mine gets here my legs will be so conditioned that it'll be crazy easy....blessing in disguise. :)

Those pics/posters you attached to your email are really cool!

 (An ancient American prophet which we learn of in the Book of Mormon called Samuel the Lamanite, as he stands on the wall to prophecy of Christ's birth, life, and death, but the wicked people try to kill him by shooting their arrows at him. Regardless they are expert marksmen, their arrows all miraculously deviate course and miss Samuel.  He escapes alive, runs off, and is never heard of again. All of Samuel's prophecies came true.)

 Quote by President James E. Faust regarding the restored Priesthood (authority to act in the name of God.)

We were actually just talking as a District today while playing tennis (that's right, wuddup) about Samuel and a picture we saw of him and how it looked like he was saying, "Come at me Bro!!"  So that timing is hilarious.  And I love the James E. Faust quote too. SO VERY TRUE.

Nice to hear about the home-life :)

(I'm cutting that reply short so I can make a detailed story and report about this week...I'll be doing the same in the future with all the stuff you guys write on email.)


Alright so for starters we have a baptismal date with R!!! :D He was investigating before I came and he has just given up alcohol, smoking, and tea and has starting living ALL of the gospel principles!!!  IT'S SO COOL!  His date should be the 28th...the only thing that might change is we might do it sooner! He is so solid and loves learning more and more about the gospel. WOOP!!! Also, we have another TOTALLY solid investigator, B. His wife is a member and was recently less active but decided to start becoming active. He took an interest and we taught the first lesson, about the restoration of the gospel, yesterday right after church… he'd been to church three times before that already!! :D As a side note, our goal as missionaries is to help people have spiritual experiences. Long made short, THAT is our purpose, and then through the Spirit they are our job is simple.  Well, get this, B said "I want to have a spiritual experience, on my own, between me and the Lord before I get baptized"...… Elder N and I just kinda sat there grinning stupidly at him pretty much the rest of the time. :D He is so excited and wants to live gospel....IS living the gospel, and is just searching for that spiritual experience. WAY. TOTALLY. SWEET.

ALSO! Elder N and I have started a new tradition of praying over the map of our area and asking the Lord to tell us where to "find" people ready of the gospel, which in our area means knocking doors. A LOT of doors. It's mostly a big neighborhood in our ward boundaries. Soooo we prayed and headed over to the neighborhood (the next day that is) and literally the SECOND DOOR WE KNOCKED we found a solid new investigator, A, and taught the first lesson RIGHT THERE! She was talking about how she has had many trials and has been reading the Bible every night and struggling with the family and just 15 minutes before we showed up she finally got good news from work and then we stopped by, answered some of her questions and she really felt the Spirit present. BOMBSAUCE. She was SO prepared! She even said she was feeling like her trials had prepared her for something!!! WUTT! Yes! So we have plans to see her and HOPEFULLY her whole family, too, next Sunday evening! RETURN APPOINTMENT!!!!!!!!!! :) That has been most of our week. Yep. That's right. One WEEK. Told you we were turning this area's stats around. >:) No unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing!! Which reminds me, I have now memorized, in the last few days, the First Vision, the Standard of Truth and a handful of other scriptures.....   President C has asked the whole Zone to memorize the Standard of Truth so we can recite it in the MIDDLE of his talk in our upcoming Stake Conference as he "introduces the members to the missionaries" :) Here it is... from memory:

"The standard of truth has been erected; no unhallowed hand can stop the work from progressing; persecutions may rage, mobs may combine, armies may assemble, calumny may defame, but the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent, till it has penetrated every continent, visited every clime, swept every country, and sounded in every ear, till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say THE WORK IS DONE."

BAM. Yep. Now imagine 27 missionaries standing up in Stake Conference and BELTING that! :D iz gon' be SICK!!!!! :D

HEY GUYS. Do this for me. Watch "Finding Faith in Christ". I had NO IDEA how awesome that movie was till now. Go "scene by scene" kind of.  So, for example, what happens is Thomas (doubting Thomas) is telling Jonah about Christ and all that, right? Well, after he tells him a part, it plays the part that he just talked about, then you pause it and discuss that. Like right now. NOW. NOWER. It's sooo cool what you learn from that video! :D

Oh, BTW I don't really have any private sections of my letters...I want everyone to see and here. Even those embarrassing or struggling parts. Share it all. I want as many people as possible to know and see. I have SUCH a desire to share the gospel and my own experiences with as many people as I can...we're riding our bikes around and I'll just stop randomly... At first Elder N was a little bugged by it but then we read that thingamajiggy where it says "preach along the way"....... ATTITUDE CHANGE! :D hahaha - funny stuff. :P

OK that's all I got for now..... It feels short still haha… I think next week we will be using the library so I'll send pics and a longer email. :D Woop!

I love you guys soooo much! PREACH ALONG THE WAY! and take care of each other!

I'm gonna make some small emails for some other peeps now. :) I might remember something small later and shoot you another quickie. :P


 Elder 9er

Monday, August 19, 2013

Mission Letter Week 5 - 19 August 2013

(In response to the news that we bought him a heavy duty missionary bike:)

Elder 9:
WOOO!!!!  THANK YOU. Like, for reals. Big time thank you. I’m sooooo HAPPY. The bike I’ve been borrowing is terrible. It works, but its old .____. Thank you!!!! I will take very good care of it and, where location permits I will lock it like its supposed to be. I say that because in neighborhoods there’s no place for a U-lock so we have to use a chain lock...  Thank You!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Elder 9:

And that is AWESOME about the neighbors!! Any kids Emily's age??

Elder Brak.

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(In response to his father’s comment: “Looks pretty dry out there. Remember to drink lots and lots of…???”):

Elder 9:
BUG JUICE!! And yes it is very dry out here...I go through close to 3 L of water in about 1.5 hr. FAST. I got the bladder by the way. :D I have talked to the Mission President by the way. (I wrote you by hand about this) and long story made short, the shoulder bag hurts my lower back and I have medical permission to use a backpack. :D Could you send my black Camelback bag by any chance?? It should be in my red trunk that I packed up...thanks. :)))

 I don't have a ton of pics yet so I’m good for now. I’ll let you know when to send another one (SD Card).  If necessary. Ive learned to be very......efficient out here. haha. :D

Elder 9:
The only thing I've gotten from the mission home is the package you sent. I LOVE MY SHEETS!!!!!! :D and the PILLOW!!!!

(Mom asked how he was doing Physically, Mentally, Emotionally, and Spiritually):

I am physically WIPED OUT. But I wake up everyday and the Spirit LITERALLY is carrying me the rest of the way. All I have to do is stand up out of bed and say "LET'S RIDE". Mentally we all know I'm challenged ;)  But I'm OK there. Emotionally I'm just a little tired but it's getting better as the days go by and the work progresses. And spiritually I feel like Mr Universe. COME AT ME BRO.

I'M SO EXCITED TO GET THE BIKE!!! :))) Thank you!!!!! I will do everything in my power to get very good care of the bike :)))) I promise.

I have been borrowing a bike from a Brother M in our ward here. He's super cool :D It's an old bike and tough to use but it works. The new one will be WAY better. :)

YES I got the package!!! :D I already emailed Daddy and asked but I’ll ask you too, could you guys please send me my black Camelback backpack? The shoulder is hurting my lower back where it used to hurt so the mission doctor told me to switch asap. I’m borrowing Elder C’s bag for now. (He’s the DL for another district. Cool guy.)

Packages still go to the mission home and they forward it to me from there. Use USPS for that not UPS or DHL or FedEx or anything.

The baptismal stuff is awesome. :D Thanks!!

ORLI IS SO CUTE!!!! The guys are jelly. >:)

I do not know an Elder H...Elder C I've already talked about. Cool beans! He’s super tall and just as awesome. :P And his comp, Elder C is cool too. I think C is as new as me....maybe Elder C is the Sr comp as well as the District Leader in his District. My DL is Elder J. :D He’s cool too.

WOW. Daddy did tell me that but not in all that detail. (A lady recognized Bob "must be Jonathan's Dad" by his goofiness when she first met us.) It's hilarious that that lady could tell daddy and I were both alike in our silliness! I am glad that I made the right choices back then and that you guys taught me to do so. Thank you.

(In response to his mother’s comment that she had read in the scriptures in 1 Nephi 3:5-8 something that she felt inspired she should share with Elder Nine):

OK. My turn to get teary eyed. I gave a talk in church yesterday and I used that scripture......I don't even know what to say.

I wish I could say more but I have to go soon so I’ll share a brief thought before I go. (The Sisters before us took up some extra time.)

And pics will have to wait till next week. sorry. :(

Faith. Hope. Charity. Humility.

WOW. Sadly that’s all I can write. I’m getting kicked off. I’ll expound next week. I love you guys SO much!! Take care!!

Elder Nine

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mission Letter Week 4 - 12 August 2013

This is Elder Nine’s mom.  First, there is no letter for "Week 3" because Elder Nine was traveling that day to the Mission Field.

Next: Some short explanations, in order that you may better understand our crazy family:  This was typed out in several emails, as Elder Nine replied to our smaller emails that had questions and then finally our bigger email. ;)  So I’m just posting this as they came in with my own (parenthesis) to explain what it’s reference to if needed.  Please excuse the “texting grammar” used. I’m sure you young’uns will understand it with no problem. lol :P

Also - I realize some of these comments are tedious (like the one about letters vs emails).  But I share them because I know several are yet to go on missions, and these things might be good topics of discussion with your family prior to serving those missions. :)

Any reference to “Chicken” anything or “Braaak” anything are terms of endearment that our family uses in reference to Jonathan. It began the first 6 years of his life when his “chicken feathers” on the top center of his head would NOT comb down and always stuck up!  “Chicken head” was the first term of endearment, and it grew from there.  Now those terms are packed with 19 years worth of memories and special ‘meaning’. ;)

Also, you may wonder why there are so many emails. It's because we happened to be online when we received the first one - so he was able to answer the 2 or 3 we had previously sent, then also answered the ones we sent while he was online and he was able to respond immediately. That is not going to be a normal occurrence from what we understand. 

Enjoy reading. :)

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Email 1:  (Mom had asked him if he preferred emails or handwritten):   Hand written letters would be cool, but it's much harder to reply over email with them.... tell you what, do one of these two things... or both. Either write hand written letters, or write one email... or do both... but the big one is, try to keep the emails to one email.... simply because it's easier to read one and reply to it than a bunch. MAYBE you could just save a draft and anytime you want to write something, write it in there, and then like Sunday night or Monday morning send it. If you want to... I'll take any and all writing of any kind and be happy about it. :)

I have already felt so many blessings come from the tiny amount of work Ive done so far and I can't wait to dive deeper into it. :D I'm gonna keep this email short and write more on another one…

I love you very, very much.

Elder Nine

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Email 2:  Hey you two!!!.....sooooo I need a bike asap... I hope this doesn't come at a bad time but I really do need to know what to do........ Email back before 1030 and we can talk about it!!!!!!

- Elder Nine

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Email 3:  (In reference to the fact that he missed the huge “Welcome” that the 300+ members in the Bakersfield area threw for all the new missionaries arriving on 8/5):   Yes, I did miss it, but it was for a good cause. Our travel group got split and Elders L (in my MTC District) and L and myself made sure that the Sisters with us got there on time. :)

Click HERE to see a video of the airport welcome

(In reference to his Dad telling him how he’s now teaching the younger group of scouts, just as he had once taught Jonathan in Scouts):   You have taught me well and I am taking that great pool of knowledge and using it EVERY. SINGLE. DAY. Thank you for teaching me. I am glad that these other young men can partake of you knowledge, experience and love just as I did. It will make real men out of them. :)

(His dad told him he’s now being somewhat of “DJ” sometimes at church activities where he would normally be attending anyway):   hahaha DJ Growly Bear!  Brilliant name. Keep it.

(His dad told him he found one of his old scout books and will be using it next to teach the young scouts):  I am glad that my work here can help in another back home too. It's starting to hit me what kind of effect this work can have in my life and everyone and everything in it. :)

I love you Braaky, taker care, and be cool.

-Elder Chicken

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Email 4: (Mom had said sorry for writing long and numerous emails and I’d try to keep them shorter):  Not shorter just one big one if possible haha... Don't be afraid to write, its just easier to have it all on one screen, if possible. :)

And yes, more details to come.

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Email 5:
I’m adding daddy to this so you can both see...

I am in the P/L area-ish... RV 1st ward!!! :D It's AWESOME !!! Although it is a bit "hilly" that I mean 'very'. hahaha. And the wind hates me. But it's good for me.

My comp is Elder N and he is so cool!! I'll try to attach a picture... I think it'll show up as DSCF0160.JPG...... I hope. 

Let me know how the pics turn out and if they are pics or if you have to open them and where they are on the email (bottom, where I placed them, etc.)

The area is awesome!!! I kinda already talked about it. And I'm short on time....again.....

Elder L was in my travel group to Bakersfield!!! That's super cool!!!! He's an awesome missionary. :D

The Elder I did that role-play with was a cool Spanish-speaking Hispanic Elder. :D He and I got along great and we really did work very well together.  Cool that she (the Mission Home secretary) complimented us about it though!! :)

President and Sister W are AMAZING AND SO NICE! :D I love them so much! And yes, we did get held up at SLC airport ALL DAY... Elder L and L were with me and we made sure that the Sisters that were with us got there on time. We are heroes. :) Haha!

I do get the pics very nicely. :)

Here's a pic from me.  It's DSCF0041.JPG.  I'm with Elder C.  (I'm giving you the file name because I don't know how the pics are coming through)

For mailing, send it to the mission but use USPS!!!!! The post office... If you do that, they forward it to my address, same day from the mission home... So use the post office, normal mailing, USPS....

I'm glad Emi will have a chance to be in a good organization with good music. That's the important part. :) It makes a huge difference in your life... I didn't realize how much of a difference until recently. I'm almost out of time so I will have to abbreviate the end of this email...

Emily, those are some awesome thoughts on those scriptures and I can't wait to hear what you think about verse 28!! There's no set answer so I'm glad that you are thinking about it yourself and trying to understand. It's very important that we learn the scriptures and try to live what they teach. :)

Boss is a very cute dog. :D And cool that you got to go swimming!! I've done pet-sitting before and it's fun. :)

I am having a good time here and my first companion is AWESOME! :D I have to go now so I'll talk to you guys next week!

Here are some pics before I go! (I had to split the email because of memory limit per email - lol!)

DSCF0036 is Elder V (from Canada) in his stud-puffin PJ's. Haha!

0044 is Elder A and me when we met up at the MTC.

0052 Is my District at the MTC!! :D

The email won't let me put on any more pics...more next week!!!

Mama, I have one last thing for you... I was at a members home last night eating dinner and sharing a message. During dinner Brother F asked Elder N and I to share the testimonies of our mothers. Just to get us thinking and as a reference to Helaman's Sons... which is very applicable to me. ;) And the scripture came to mind when the Sons of Helaman say: "We do not doubt, for our mothers knew it". I do not doubt. For you knew it. And you have taught me. I love you, Mama.

… To mail things just use USPS from the post office and mail it to the mission home/office... You must needs use USPS because they forward it same-day to my address... otherwise it'll take a few extra days... ILY. Braaaak. I'm getting booted off...write me a hand letter when  I can buy a bike. I need one asap.

Lots of love and more to come,

Talk to you guys next week :)

- Elder Nine

Friday, August 2, 2013

Mission Letter Week 2 - 02 August 2013

I. AM. SUCH. A. BABY. I'm not even playin' around now y'all. It's cray cray. I have had more spiritual experiences in the last 3 days than I have my entire LIFE. I'll use one example because the rest take more time and I'm pretty short on that.  :(

I was in class period with Brother C (one of the best "Inviters of the Spirit", not teacher, that I've ever known, along with Brothers C, G and S,) and the rest of my District (we have grown insanely close in the MTC. Our Branch President, Pres Mangum said that we are closer than any other District he's ever worked with! :D) We were discussing the difference between knowing the gospel and having a testimony of it, vs UNDERSTANDING the gospel, living it, and becoming fully converted unto Christ. We were role playing and I was talking with my companion, Elder B, as if he were an investigator, and as I was teaching him, I started getting REALLY frustrated...almost angry, to the point where I couldn't think of any more things to "say" or "teach" or "explain"... So I leaned back in my chair and just waited.......and waited........aannddd waited....for about 5-6 min. I waited until I could feel the Spirit....and then I started getting choked up.  Brother C  rolls over to me and says, what's up Elder? You OK? And before even 2 seconds go by he says "Oh...come here let's talk." So a Brother that was in there subbing for Brother C talks with Elder B  while Brother C and I talk on the other side of the room. We just had a short chat about what I just told you and he drew a small word-diagram describing how we can have a testimony and a knowledge of the gospel, and I could spend my whole mission like that and be just fine......or, I can gain an UNDERSTANDING of the gospel, be converted, and LIVE IT. I started to cry like a baby and told him, "I don't want to just know. I want to understand. I want to live it." The spirit FILLED THE ENTIRE FLOOR OF THE BUILDING. Elders C and P felt it slam them hard too. I talked a little more with Bro C then stepped out to the hall to get a drink of water...and I cried more....and I saw Sisters B and B out there too (they are in our Zone) and they had just come out for the same reasons, so the three of us talked about what we'd learned, cried together, then got water, cowboyed-up and walked back into there it is. And I've had about a hundred of those a DAY here.

OK so time for not so spiritual details. In our District we have Elders P (DL) and C (my previous comp in our trio), B and me, A and L, R and R . 8. It's supposed to be 10 but one never showed and just a few days ago Elder K had to go home because his Grandpa is passing. We all really miss him. Especially Elder P, his original comp. Companions are family here. And districts too. Zones are like close extended family. So Elder C is with Elder P now and it's me and B.  As afore mentioned, our District is very close. Most Districts don't do a whole lot together for various reasons…. We do EVERYTHING TOGETHER. EVERYTHING. Like two days ago during gym time we went to the outdoor field and played sand volleyball.....we sucked. OH and afterwards, Elder C runs down the hill barefoot into the soccer field where there is a pretty serious game going on, runs CLEAR ACROSS the ENTIRE field, steals the soccer ball, dribbles 40 ft, breaks the goalie's ankles and scores!!! And he's never played before!!!!!  It was soooo funny!!! And our whole district ran down the hill, screaming like 'fan' girls, hands in the air, met him in the middle of the field and picked him and carried him off!  That will forever be our "carnal highlight" of the MTC hahaha!

Oh and also, the Elders in my District that are coming with me to Bakersfield are A, L, and half our District. The other half is going to Philly. So, have the Philly boys and Cali boys.

I'm going to run back to my res hall and grab my cable for my camera then I'll send pics and answer questions. :D

Love, Elder NINE :)

Remember who you are. Open your mouth. LIVE IT.
(Yes, I added to it.)

(Then Daddy replied immediately (tongue in cheek) expressing how he had "bad news" - that now Elder Nine will be responsible for the new knowledge he has just gained and yet how we have confidence in him, for he is a warrior of the truth and he is being armed for the battle against the forces of darkness.  Then he sent him a "non-spiritual" picture which you can see below.   So Elder Nine was able to reply back with):

Braaaacckkkk! It isn't bad news to know and understand the gospel. It is glorious news because I am that much closer. :D But, you are right, this fight is about to get rough… I will simply stand by my Savior and our team will win. "Simple" as that. And yes, I am responsible for the understanding I have come to, and held on a higher playing field… but that just means I also have the upper ground on the enemy, and the one holding the upper ground will come out conqueror…Which reminds me of the scripture (D&C 10:5) "Pray always, that you may come off conqueror…" Read that tonight. Inspiring scripture. :) Cute pic…..??  hahaha Elders C, B and P love it too.

Hi Emi!! Yes, you can have my fedora hats.

BRAK one other thing, can you also send me my blue water bladder, the Camelback one? :D

Love, Elder Nine

(Then after getting his camera cable and figuring out it didn't work, this):

I can't send pics from the MTC computers because they restrict them so much :( So I guess you'll be getting a TON of them on my next P-day......which will most likely be a week from this Monday.

OK! Answers time.

Check in was FAST. They yanked me out of the car and pulled my bags out and ran us was very abrupt. haha. As for my Patriarchal Blessing, if you just send it to Cali that'll be fine :P Thanks!

All the shoes I want to keep are already packed up...unless the Red Wings are not packed up…I want those... haha Daddy, no touchy! ;) And I totally did yell "Goo Goo"in the cafeteria!!!........ And she was standing right behind me! It was terrifying! haha! We talked while in the lunch line but we don't see each other much.  (This is Elder Nine's 3rd cousin he's referring to, she goes by "Goo Goo", so her Mom told me to tell Elder Nine to yell it out so he could find her ... and he did.) :)

She (Emi) can have the rackets and the hats and pretty much anything else. Like I said, I've packed every thing I want to keep. That includes my camping stuff in the garage... I counted that as already packed.

ZL (Zone Leader) is soooo much fun and so cool!! On Wed I got to bring in the new District (new in-coming missionaries) with Elder B, and I felt very much in charge. :D But at the same time it is also very humbling... I get to work with the Branch Presidency a lot too. Speaking of which, BROTHER O is one of the counselors, not the 'President', and yes, he and his wife know the B's in Plano! Sis. O was the first to figure it out. :)

I found my contacts book, I had just left it in my resident hall, is all I meant. But thank you for putting all my contacts in here!! It's way easier.

I have not met Elder E but that could still be a real deal... IDK (I Don't Know), there were a billion missionaries when I came in.

I only see Elder Y once in a while and we haven't been able to talk much…He seems to be struggling with the general MTC life style, but as long as he turns to his Heavenly Father I know he'll pull through and be a great missionary. In the field I know he'll feel better... I can admit to feeling a little out of sorts now and then too. In fact I've woken up twice this last week and thought, two years? Psshhh... no way. I'm out..... and then I kneel and pray by myself, with my comp, and then with the District, and we all ask for strength, for ourselves and for each other and I stand up and I'm rarin' to go!! That is honestly how our District has bonded the most, is by supporting each other like that. :)

I have a cable for the I mentioned, too many recent restrictions to email photos here.  :(

My schedule is INSANE. Wake up at 530, exercise for an hour, shower, eat at 7, class or Zone teaching at 720, class at 9, lunch at 1140, more class, at 4 we have personal study, more class, dinner, more class, study, back to the res hall by 930, prep for the next day and plan, 1015 quiet time, journal time, 1030 SLEEP AT LAST..... and then we wake up at stupid-o'clock AM again. (-____-) hahaha

Favorite thing each day?? Class, when Brother C teaches.... unless there's gym time. Then it's gym time.

The Provo Temple is closed though, so no temple time. :'(

I AM getting up on time Daddy, so HA! Actually I'm the first one up and running........ so ha HA!

As for the towels........ I almost cried the first time I showered and realized I had forgotten to bring them. Ha! But the bookstore has .47 cent towels! 

The food is awesome in taste...but if you ever have that feeling where you ALWAYS have to take the BIGGEST dump of your life every hour and yet you're also stopped up, that's what it does to everyone.

And actually the beds are FANTASTIC!!! The sheets are very, very humble but they are comfy. And Mama, no need to feel bad about the mattress back home.  It worked for its purpose and I knew I was leaving soon, so no biggy.

I don't get DearElder (an online mail service) letters on Sundays but I do on Saturdays and every day of the week...just not Sunday. I have the MOST mail out of anyone...almost more than the whole District combined....they hate me for that! :) Hahaha! I love DearElder!....but in the field it really makes it more hassle because then I think I'll have to go to the mission home every day.... So once I leave for Cali, just send normal emails.

That is all, I must needs leave now :) Love you guys!!!! BYE.


Elder Nine

(I asked him to please try to use someone's USB to upload photos…):

I'll try to, but I'm really almost out of time and this is the last P-day in the MTC. But I'll see what I can do.... As for my Grammar BTW (By The Way), it only gets sloppy if I'm really short on time. haha. Love you, bye!!

Elder Nine

(Mom's note:  there will be no "Mission Letter Week 3, because Elder Nine will be traveling that day to the mission field., but in order to keep track of the correct week number, I just mark the next letter as Week 4.)