Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Professional Photos Just For Mama

There is a kind, generous, and sweet sister that lives in Elder Nine's ward in Bakersfield who agreed to take a picture of Elder Nine for me. I had seen a photo of one of his friends, and like it, and I was kicking myself for not having thought to take a great photo of him prior to his mission (other than the one we took for his mission plaque.)  That was a few weeks ago.

Well, this weekend she took the photo.  Only it was photoS - plural. And since Elders Parsons, Oryang, and Eisele are there too, she snapped some of them as well. The last one posted here actually took my breath away when I first saw it. Not only because it's a great photo, and because of course my son is super handsome ;), but because I really needed it this past weekend too. The Lord has somehow always managed to send me tender mercies right when I needed them most. Those tender mercies pick me up and give me strength to continue on. How grateful I am for a son that has chose of his own will to serve the Lord. And not only did he choose to serve, but he honestly chose to serve with his whole heart, might, mind, and strength. What more could a parent ask? I love that boy of mine so much!

There is something about shoes being worn out in the service of God that tugs at my heart - 
Not unlike "walking as Jesus walked"

What a blessing this son has been to us.

For the photographer's blog, click HERE.

Mission Letter Week 67 - 27 October 2014

Hey Guys!!


YOWZA!! You had a crazy fun party!! I wish I could have been there for it! :) But, the work must go on. I love the part where the guy at The Time Machine SHOVED the food up your nose!! That's the kind of stuff that gets remembered over the years. Hahaha. I'll challenge you to another game of Foosball when I get home. ;) Love you Emi! Have a swelltastic kinda week!


My talk with President went very well. I LOVE talking with that man. He understood everything on what seemed to be a personal level and then said the exact same thing you guys have said...funny how that works out. So yeah, I'm staying and I'm happy for it too! :D Thank you for all the love, support and guidance in the matter!

That is way cool about Elder Swalberg! I'll have to email Elder  Peterson about that sometime!!

I can't wait to meet LR! I hope it works out soon! Mid-November is when transfers are and there is a decent chance I'll leave...but I might stay in Bakersfield, who knows?!

That letter you sent over DearElder was fantastic, and so very true. We are all given trials or "cups" and we have to work through them to get the blessings and to learn...Sometimes it really sucks, but at least it doesn't suck as much as what Christ had to go through. And then to think that the Man that went through all that and lived, is on my side, trying to help me get through something much smaller. Dadgum, I can do anything with that kind of pro-level help!

I can testify over and over again of our Savior's love for us and His desire to help us because I have felt that on such a personal level that I couldn't deny it even if I got tortured for a million years!!…..Sorry, don't mean to be morbid- haha.

"The heck with everyone else", I quote you, my dear mother. It doesn't matter what others say or how they try to drag us down. I know who I am and what I am here tell me otherwise and I'll tell you where to go stick your nose!! IN THE SCRIPTURES!! Okay, maybe that was funnier in my head...moving on.

Let us drink of the bitter cup.… ‘cause the cake right after will taste SO much better. (I made that one up right there).


Good boy. Do service. Your example of that Christlike service and love has taken me far and is one of my strong points…which, of course, means I wouldn't get "wounded" there (in that area of my life), but that's beside the point. You have taught me well. Thank you for that. Love you!

I'm going to put up pics now!! LOVE YOU GUYS!

~ Elder 9

Also the pictures are going up (in Dropbox)…so for explanation, the ones at the park are from right before transfers, (I wish I had time for the videos too, that'll have to be next week though.) The ones at transfer meeting are with Elder Patterson and his mom as he departed the mission and with with Elder Norton because this is his last transfer and I didn’t know if I'd get another chance to say goodbye. :) And then there's some raccoons that we found at night...and that’s not even all of them...there were over 30 of them there I think! O.o
…… the pics are done loading and I have to leave now. LOVE YOU!!!

P-day Time at the Park
(Preparation Day, used for chores, personal shopping, and wholesome recreation time)

Elder Nine had served in the same District as this Elder (below) a year ago, and the two companionships shared the same rental unit. This Elder has just completed his mission and his parents surprised him by arriving at the last transfer meeting. People were wondering why he was hugging this lady for so strongly and for so long, when they are not allowed to hug members of the opposite sex. Turns out it was his mother!
What a joyful (and surprising!) reunion!
(Cannot wait till it's my turn!)

His first companion and trainer!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Mission Letter Week 66 - 20 October 2014

Hey guys! There's a lot to say today so I hope I can get it all out...

I'll start by replying to letter in the mail.

L.R.: Yes that is our number, and I am anxiously awaiting more details :D President asked me about it in emails today but I told him I haven't heard of any arrangements yet...

Elder Packer Quote: I meant the quote about music. :)


I like that quote by Martin Luther King Jr. you shared. ("Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.") VERY true. That's why they make flashLIGHTS and not flashDARKS...that's why Christ used LOVE, not anger or hatred.

And Braky, I like that Hinckley quote too:

"I was not well when I arrived. Those first few weeks, because of illness and the opposition which we felt, I was discouraged. I wrote a letter home to my good father and said that I felt I was wasting my time and his money. He was my father and my stake president, and he was a wise and inspired man. He wrote a very short letter to me which said, “Dear Gordon, I have your recent letter. I have only one suggestion: forget yourself and go to work.”

You told me that right before I left, and I have been trying to live by it ever since. It has been one of the few things that has truly lifted me up. Very much truth. Trusting and relying on my Savior has easily been my biggest lesson. Without Him I am nothing. With Him, I can do anything.

Questions from the letter:
I really enjoyed the poem reply and I am going to save that one. :)

I do still have the Christmas binder and I'll be using it. :D and I'll send the stocking back at the start of November, after payday haha.

Nothing yet on the iPads except that it should be soon...I hope it's before Christmas and that we can Skype with them but that is doubtful...

Good anti flu advice...they are telling us to get flu shots...and I'm telling them where to sti- I should be far more appropriate than that.......AHEM!

Thank you :)


That is a really cool lesson you had! Bro H. is a very good man and very smart too :) And what he shared with you about missionary work is true...sometimes we don't have success. Sometimes our friends will say no. But what matters is that we love them enough to invite anyways. If they do say no, go on being friends and it doesn't have to change a thing...but think about the chance that they could say yes!! THAT is exciting.

And what else is exciting is that swing dance and relay thing coming up!! I DO love swing dancing! :D I hope it goes well!! Either way just remember to have fun and "just go with it"!  GOOD LUCK!! Love you lots, Emi, talk to you next week!

Mama, to the other questions in the email:

#1 The tortas were SOOOOO GOOD!!!! :D and then homemade ice cream after...but easily the best part is always Brother V's homemade guac!! >:D Anytime they ask for what our preferences are, I just ask for the guacamole :)))))))) "It brings out my happy!"

#1 pt2 I've pretty much shared all the details of everything by yeah :) but thank you for the much needed refresher on all those things you mentioned...the blessing, my setting apart, everything else...

#3 yes that was correct number to give to L. :)

#4 That is the word going around about transfers, so I am guessing that's right

#5 Elder Parsons and I are doing okay. We are a compatible companionship and that's what matters. We have fun, work hard, and do get along well.

I love and miss you guys too! Thank you for all the love and support. It is much desired, needed, and appreciated!

Love you guys!!

BTW, if you could clear my Dropbox so I can use it again that'd be great cause I only have 2 GB to use on it...and I figured you could just save them and clear it out...  I'll send stuff next week through that if you clear it out! :D

~ Elder 9 

Again, the wonderful people in Bakersfield watch out for our missionaries and snap quick photos, whether at Church or at dinner, to send home to moms. I'm SO thankful for these wonderful folks that spoil us like this! I try hard to not take it for granted.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Mission Letter Week 65 - 13 October 2014

About the Spring Creek BBQ package the family shipped overnight to Elder Nine: It was so good!! I don’t think I sent them to you yet, but I have some pics of me eating the food XD that will do a much better job of explaining than my words! :P It was GREAT!!!!!!!! THANK YOU!!

About the video Mama made from the birthday greetings Elder Nine sent: Sweet!! I can’t wait to download it and watch it!!....but guess who forgot his stuff again .___. I actually do have pics and stuff...I just have ‘the dumb’!! Sowwy :'( I even tried to go back but the other guys wouldn't pull a U-turn... "jerks". ;)  haha.

Love you too!

Oh wait...mp4s actually don’t play on these DVD players. :O Is there any way you could convert the format to something else? :DDDDD

About Mama asking if it’s within mission rules to watch the birthday DVD: Rules-wise it’s fine. It's as if I were looking at pictures as well, because of what it is. OK music, OK pics, and an OK purpose. So yeah it’s fine. :) DVD in the mail would work. I'm not sure what other format would work. Most any would work, I just know that mp4s don’t work on it, because somebody else got a video from home to watch as well but it was mp4 and didn’t work.  (After telling him we’d send a DVD): :DDDDDDDDDDDDDDDDD

“Meet the Mormons” movie was great! It was the first real "movie" I’ve seen in over a year too haha. And it was SO much funnier than I thought it would be. :P I liked it a lot! (All the missionaries in this mission watched a private screening of the movie because they are not allowed to attend movie theaters.)

And yes, I will be able to get back to work now. :)

About Mama’s question whether he’d be up to meeting my old BYU Roommate, who lives near by but still outside his area, so she’d need to come meet him in his area:  I would LOVE to meet L.R.!! Set it up and we'll make it happen! Yeah, President is a stickler for area boundaries (understandably so) so that would be the way we would have to do it...

And I LOVE that Elder Packer Quote (below)!!! I'll be printing that out and posting it up!!

I wish you ALL could be closer to me while I'm being awesome...sorry. Pride. :P

I too am looking forward to some real missionary work again. Already this week has been better than my weeks have been in a long time! No super cool stories yet, but I feel ‘em coming around the corner! :D

Very true, your comments about insane young boys...I mean look at me, I didn't turn out TOO bad! All they need a is a really good it's a good thing you are there. And even though you are the Ward Clerk, they still look up to you. And there are young men, who aren't so young, that still look up to you...I'm only one of them. There are many.

Love you,

Prince Brakster, son of Braakypants

You had a Life Youth Conference!! I remember doing one of those!! Actually I was pretty close to your age too, I think! I learned the same lesson about tithing as well, funny enough! I totally forgot to pay tithing and had to make up for it! It was a blast. :D Plus all the workshops and classes on the side. It's really cool that you are getting to do a lot of the same things that I got to do. You have a lot of good experiences ahead of you too, still. Enjoy them!! :D Love you lots!


.... Elder Parsons had a lot of good tips on dealing with other people's personalities when they are not compatible and so far things have been working out. So yes, things are healing and getting better. :)

Thank you so much, too, for your prayers and love and support. I can feel it from here. It is much needed and desired!

Good to hear you and the K’s got to hang out for a bit! I miss just being able to relax with friends every now and then...It's something I miss is all. :P

And yes, it is okay for me to email and communicate with friends as well now. That is something that was changed several years ago actually, though there was a time it was only family… I looked up the reference in the handbook and it says friends are okay :)  and more importantly, President says it's okay!

I loved “Meet The Mormons”!! I think I already told you about that though… so next! :D

I do know Sister Hokanson! She's super nice. She's in my District, yes. 

Okay, I have to stop here, because we are out of time now. I love you guys, and I hope all is going well. Send me an update in the letter this week about Jessica and Orli??

Thanks! BYE!

~ Elder 9 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Elder Boyd K Packer's Quote:

“William Ernest Henley wrote "Invictus," a proud, almost defiant expression that concludes:
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

[Echoes, 1888, No. 4, In Memoriam R. T. Hamilton Bruce ("Invictus"), stanza 4]

Some years ago an answer to "Invictus" was given. Let me quote it to you:

Art thou in truth?
Then what of Him who bought thee with His blood?
Who plunged into devouring seas
And snatched thee from the flood?

Who bore for all our fallen race
What none but him could bear—
The God who died that man might live
And endless glory share.

Of what avail thy vaunted strength
Apart from His vast might?
Pray that His light may pierce the gloom
That thou mayest see aright.

Men are as bubbles on the wave,
As leaves upon the tree,
Thou, captain of thy soul! Forsooth,
Who gave that place to thee?

Free will is thine—free agency,
To wield for right or wrong;
But thou must answer unto Him
To whom all souls belong.

Bend to the dust that "head unbowed,"
Small part of life's great whole,
And see in Him and Him alone,
The captain of thy soul.

["The Soul's Captain," Improvement Era, May 1926, opposite inside front cover]

And who wrote that? Orson F. Whitney of the Council of the Twelve Apostles, a gifted and inspired poet whose work is virtually unknown in the Church.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Mission Letter Week 64 - 06 October 2014

Hey guys!

I wanna start off by talking about my favorite talk from General Conference! DALLIN H. OAKS!! My man. I loved his talk about Obedience and Diligence and the like...specifically the blessings that come from obedience. I have learned through a personal testimony that obedience really does bring happiness. I have never been particularly good at being Exactly Obedient, for one reason or another, whether that be schedule, or activities or something. But I know that the blessings of obedience are real. And so are the blessings we receive when we trust in our God. That is my testimony. Obey. Trust. Happy.

Wow, that sounds like a really fun conference weekend! I spent mine with a bunch of missionaries...they're boring ;) ...AND we didn't have any waffles!! Somebody slacked on that one >:( lol.

My conference weekend was still good though. :) I took a lot of good notes too, and learned a lot about being a better missionary. Obedience is a super important thing that a lot of missionaries sometimes do not quite understand...but they are still good people doing good things. :P My favorite speaker was probably Elder Dallin H Oaks and Elder Holland. They always give really good talks!

I like my new companion! His name is Elder Parsons, and he is tall and blonde...he DOES have a younger brother...he's 5 yr old haha.

Love you too Emi!!

Health wise I am just fine now, it was all just a passing thing. :P As far as stress goes, IDK yet. I am with Elder Parsons...which would be hilarious for you if you realized I have been around him half my mission and he keeps jumping around inside his Districts and Zones haha. He was Monica Ward next door and got transferred here! It should be good, and a lot of fun. I am excited to see how things go.

We didn’t go to Chick-Fil-A because somebody in the car wanted to go somewhere else....for some dumb reason…haha.

I don’t have any pics...well I took a few, but the events of the morning were rather scattered and I left it back at the pad and we didn’t have time to grab it. :( I'll send them next week!

I LOVED conference. It was a big boost for me and exactly what I needed. OH B T DUBS!! We are going to see that church-produced film, “Meet The Mormons” today!! And, yeah, we went to Bolthouse Farms today as well (that was the scattered morning I was talking about.) I saw SO MANY CARROTS!!!!! They process over 2 million pounds I found out...I think I said 1 million last time, but if I did, I was wrong. It's so cool! And we got free Bolthouse Farms juice too! :D Which is cool because it’s like a buhzillion dollars for one bottle at Wally town. Cray cray.

You did tell me about the video you made...and I can’t wait to see it! :D Actually, if you put it on Dropbox I might be able to put it on my USB and watch it on our portable DVD player!  (the mission-issued one to watch proselyting DVDs with) :D

I haven’t had a chance to read the weekly letter in the mail yet, but I will write a snail-mail talking about those things. :)

Thank you, Mama, I love you. Thank you for all the love and support. I literally feel it every day.

Brak (just embrace the braknicity...),

It's good to know you've got my back! There were many times where breaking rules (or noses, rather) was something I was seriously considering, just to stop everything...but I learned, thankfully the smart way, that that would not be doing anything to help out. I am healing now, and growing and learning still...It will take some time of course, to fully heal, but time and the Atonement can heal all things.

I also got a lot from this General Conference. Mostly about Obedience and the blessings from that, and from trusting God. It is vital to our survival to Trust and Obey, and to do so out of love and devotion. And that’s a whole other topic, about the attitude of our faith and obedience and trust.

I loved the music this conference. A CD would be great! I am glad that I can have such a high appreciation for music like that. It really can bring the spirit like nobody's business.

I will email Brother B. He is a champion. He is also one of my heroes (after you and mama of course.)

I love you guys. Sorry this one is short (as they too often are). Email time is short today. BYE!!

~ Elder 9 

Quotes from General Conference from talks that Elder Nine mentions:

This is why Elder Nine is serving the Lord on a 2 yr. mission:

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Happy Birthday Mama! I LOVE YOU!!

Mom's Note: Elder Nine remembered it was going to be my birthday last week AFTER having emailed on P-day.  So he got special permission from the mission president to email me a short Happy Birthday message the following day. I had not expected him to remember my birthday, especially after having gone through the roughest month he has had since entering the mission field.

Imagine my surprise when I saw his email come through!  

His perfect email said:

"I got a couple spare minutes to type this up for you mama!! I LOVE YOU!!! Happy Birthday to my favoritest mama in the whole wide world! :D Thank you for being such an incredible angel of a woman. I dedicate the song "Angels" by Randy Travis to you right go listen to it. :) Thank you for being my guide, my example, my friend, and never failing support. There is no love like a mother's love, and especially no love like yours. I love you dearly.

I have to keep it short...I hope my words are enough even though they are not!"

I may or may not have cried...... buckets. And I may or may not have listened to that song a few times..... over and over again.

I wanted to capture his gift, one of the best ever. So I chose some pictures of him and me as he grew up and set it to Randy Travis' "Angels". I created the video as if it were from Elder 9's perspective, not mine. I share it here not to brag but to share the joy it brings me that my son did this for me. I love him, miss  him, and am so proud of him and the way he is serving the Lord. I am blessed to be his mother. 

Enjoy the video. 

Mission Letter Week 63 - 29 September 2014

Email #1:


Thank you for the Spring Creek BBQ!!!…. :)

Sorry, I wanted to get the freaking-out done before I typed words so the words can actually make sense! :D

Sister W took pics (with her CANON EOS 5D MARK III BTW, which I got to use at a little ward Disney Piano/Singing recital thingy. That camera....oh it made me melt....,) but at the time I wasn’t feeling too good....... b problems :P - but I was better by that night so I could eat. :D (I looked in the Essential Oils booklet haha the eucalyptus worked great XD)


~ Elder 9

Email #2:

I’m staying [in this area]!! But I will be getting a new comp!! Elder Eisele is staying and Elder Harper is leaving the area. So. Fun stuff...

Yes, all the food got here in one piece and even the sauce made it!! Everything was okay! (I know because I ate it all! :D ) I offered some to Elder Ray but he turned it down......his loss, more for me. :D hahaha

I am feeling much better. I had a REALLY tough week with bad allergies, bm's and other things but I’m in working order again (I say as my stomach groans just now...)

Yes, your letter made it. :D LOVED IT!! I got a good one from Sister Balley too…well, all your guys' letters are always great haha...Do you know that  Sister Balley writes me just about as much as you do?? That woman is incredible. :)

The work has been slow, for obvious reasons, but with this new transfer I have set some goals, personal ones to help me get moving, and I am highly expecting to see a lot of miracles. :) This will be exciting!

I am so glad you had a good birthday weekend mama. :) It makes me happy when you are happy!! And I can’t wait to hear some of those records when I get back!! One that I’m really looking forward to is the whipped cream dress one! [mom's note: I have some old records that belonged to my parents and one of them has a cover where there is a woman in a dress that looks like it's made out of whipped cream.]  IDK if I’ve ever heard it, but I liked whipped cream, so it must be great. :3 So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AGAIN!!

Emmie E. is on her mission!! WHOOOOO!! I’m gonna try to shoot her an email and see how things are!! Maybe she got to smell the cream soda tree [in the MTC]!! :D

Emily, sounds like you and daddy are having a bit of a prank war!! XD That’s silly!!...Make sure you get him good....

Sounds like you did a good job with helping make Mama’s birthday - super awesome too!! :)

I love you bunches Emily, thank you for writing me all the time and just being awesome! It’s always good to hear from you and Mama and Daddy. Love you guys bunches!


I have a question...what are the requirements to do wood badge??

I hope Emily gets to go to trek...but even if not, she will get to go later...and if she goes twice then sweetness. I think it generally can mean a little more when a person goes later because you can internalize things a little more, just because.. :P

I love you guys dearly! Thank you for the great mail and the loads of love. :) I will send some pics in a bit. :)

~ Elder 9

 Opening of the Special Comfort Package from Home - Elder 9's Favorite: SPRING CREEK BBQ!
A couple of sweet and kind ladies in Bakersfield helped me do this by accepting the package their home, delivering it to him, and then taking these awesome pics of him receiving/opening it.
SO SO SO grateful for kind, generous friends who don't mind helping a mom out to get a much needed "gift of love" from home!
THANK YOU, ladies! :)

Elder Monzon (Zone Leader) and Elder Flint (District Leader) (not companions)

P-day at the Park

Elder Geren, Elder Monzon, and me (they are my Zone Leaders)

More photos that came in from some thoughtful folks that took these on transfer day.

yep, that's my boys left side of the head, right above the blond sister's head. 
I know, we missionary moms are pathetic sometimes-
deal with it. ;)
We love and miss our missionaries.