Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Email from Matt to the Fam

Haha, thanks for the specifics... I sent you pictures... you want more already? ;) I think I told you were I am, Los Mochis, Sinaloa, Mexico. 

Ok I'll write a letter.... Fine. ok the pictures, Well the first is of the house we live in, then the second is, I baptized someone, his name is Victor, the third is my companion and his trainer eating cake. There you have it. that's about all we do here! haha, no. ok so let's seeeeee....

On thursday we were walking a lot, most of our appointments had fallen through, and the references that we were looking for weren't at home. We were tired, and a bit down in the dumps. Elder Livingston turned to me, and said: "Well, we have to teach someone, let's knock at this house and see if anyone is there." So we did. A man answered the door and seemed a little surprised to see us. We introduced ourselves and asked him if he had ever seen missionaries like ourselves before, he said no and invited us in. That doesn't usually happen, we usually have to at least ask to get into a house. He then introduced his wife to us as we walked up to his door. We got in and he sat us down. Elder L. saw a picture on the wall that was of Jesus Christ holding a lamb that only our church uses and asked him where he got it. The man said that one of his neighbors had given it to him. By this time both me and Elder Livingston are thinking that something is up, first off, the Dad invited us in, which never happens. Second, this guy had never been with missionaries before and was very happy to see us. Elder Livingston told the man that the picture was actually from our church, and pulled out a pamphlet with the same picture. The man got a HUGE grin on his face and both me and Elder Livingston are now thinking: What is going on?!?!?! has this man been praying for us? What is going on?! He then started to laugh and told us that he was the branch president of a town called Topolovampo. He totally punked us. Well it was ok because we got to talk a little while and drink some water and get a reference from him and his family.

What else... Mom, I don't think that I'm going to be able to print stuff out. too time consuming. So what else... oh, ok I'll talk about mexico more because you told me to talk about myself! haha! (I'm boring) ok anyway, here in Mexico... few people have a steady job. What usually happens is that they find work for like a month or a week and go with it. There are lots of tienditas (little stores) around here, which is basically a house that someone has taken out the walls or added a window on one side and then they sell stuff. Like right now, I'm sitting in a converted house with computers lining the walls. (The houses are very small with about 3 rooms usually) If we are thirsty we only have to walk like a block and we'll run into a tiendita. A (non-member) Mexican party needs 3 things to be succesful: 1 People, 2 A Kerioke Machine, and most importantly 3 A ton of beer. And that's it haha! or if they are having a quince años, they will block off a part of the street with cars and dance in the street. The people here are very "In the moment" they have money, well then they have food. They have more money, then they have more food and maybe some more cloths and some beer. They only save up for about 3 things: A house, College for their kids, and a car/motorcycle/bike and then they're set.

The people are also very nice, we have to be careful, if we contact a person in the street, we could end up sitting down, drinking water, eating mangos, and hearing about everything that is going down, from their grandma's hang nails to how they haven't been drinking for months. The people are also very direct. When I first got here, everyone called me gordito, which means chubby basically. Now everybody tells me that I'm loosing weight haha. Hmmm... they don't have "Lawns" in front of their houses, just dirt usually, and every night they go out and water the dirt. I don't really know why, Elder Livingston says that it acts as a natural air conditioning, but they water the dirt in the morning too.... so who knows. Mom, Los Mochis is very flat and it has an altitude of.... 4 meters. or about 12 feet. We sometimes go to Topolovampo, and that is not flat at all. I don't think that Mochis is by the gulf, it's by baja california. Topo is right by the sea, like we walk down the street and look to the left and there are some stairs strait to the ocean.

Dad, when we get back, we'll walk to Salt Lake together! bye!

Monday, July 30, 2012

July 30--Dear Elder: Letter's Close

Hi, I am sending this email off, now.  Yesterday didn’t prove to be a family day the way we’d hoped, but we go through it okay.  Today is busy and tomorrow I fly to Texas to visit Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.  I am very excited about that, and will keep in touch with you from there.  I love you very much, Matt, and your success gives me lots of joy.  I look forward to your email today!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29--Dear Elder Continued: Batman, Saturday Work, etc.

Now it’s Sunday and we will be sending you lots of letters by email soon.  I enjoyed watching Batman with the family Friday night.   I’m really glad that Thomas got home in time to be with us. We also saw a trailer for the first part of  "The Hobbit," and I can't wait!  I'm also hoping that "Les Miserables" will be good.  I haven't seen a trailer for it yet.  

  Saturday was a busy day.  Miriam and Katrina worked and did some school shopping at the mall.  I drove Katrina in and shopped at Costco.  I also weeded the flower beds and mowed most of the back yard.  Dad exercised lots, worked at the laundry, mowed the front yard and finished the back yard.  I gave Thomas a rest because he was worn out from rafting.  He mostly took care of Grandma.  He also watered the flower beds and helped me make dinner.  Dad, Thomas, Grandma and I had a nice dinner together, and Miriam and Katrina got home later.  Paul came to visit Grandma, and I think she liked that.  She is having a really hard time right now.  The more lucid she is, the unhappier she is, and she is very lucid right now.

Jonathan has been keeping in touch, and he’s kind of wondering if he should change his plans for work and school.  Weston says he can get Jon on at the mental hospital, so Jon may be moving back this way, but he has not decided yet.  He is also toying with the idea of changing his major.  I pray daily that he will be led to the things that will bring him happiness and peace, namely the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily are still in Alaska and I hope they are doing well.  It's hard to believe that in a matter of days I will be visiting them.  I truly cannot wait!

 We are determined to have a nice day at home with the family today after church.  I do have a meeting at 6:00, but other than that, I hope for lots of family time.  We want to take Grandma for a ride to get her out of the house for awhile. 

Well, Matt, I am studying hard and trying hard, but I sure mess up a lot.  I am so grateful for repentance and for the grace of Jesus Christ to help me do better, because I’m sure not capable of much on my own.  I am studying about the Holy Ghost.  In particular, today, I studied about the importance of the family and the role of the Holy Ghost in keeping our priorities with the family and the importance of helping the kids recognize and act on the promptings of the Holy Ghost.  I’m sure struggling to put in to practice the things that I learn, but I see improvements, so that’s good!

Friday, July 27, 2012

July 27--Dear Elder: Continued

 Continued from yesterday. . .Oats are a good thing for Thomas and Miriam who can’t tolerate whole wheat and for Grandma who eats a bowl of oatmeal every morning for breakfast.  I got the oats canned and now I wish I had canned twice as much.
 Today I have to take the van in for emission and safety inspection.  While that happens, Katrina and I will probably do more cleaning at the laundry.  I won’t stay as long as I did yesterday, though, because when I got home Grandma said, “I never thought you’d go off and leave me in the lurch.”  Right now she’s sleeping, so I’m going to leave when she won’t miss us.  The nurse’s aid will be here soon to clean her up, and she will give her breakfast. 
Well, I’m back from cleaning, and the place looks much nicer.  Thomas is now home from rafting and it seems like he had a good time.  We missed him as we do all of you kids when you aren’t home.  It’s nice to have him back.  Dad got home awhile ago and we went on a walk together.  I love walking with Dad!  We get to talk and exercise at the same time.  We are going to see Batman tonight.  That should be really fun!  I hope it’s not too dark.  

Thursday, July 26, 2012

July 26--Dear Elder: FHE, Pioneer Day, etc.

Dear Elder,
Hi!  Thank you so much for sending us an email on Monday.  We really loved reading it and seeing the pictures.  We will send you replies to your email soon.  This is an interesting week because Thomas is gone on a rafting trip and Dad is off work.  On Monday evening, for just a little while, we were together.  We had a wonderful family home evening from “Preach My Gospel” together.  Grandma was with us, too. 

On Tuesday, Miriam went to work, so just Katrina, Dad, and I went to the pioneer day parade.  The parade was mostly ball teams who’d won championships, so that was dull, but nearer the end of the parade was pretty fun.  We watched a big part of the parade sitting at the shave ice stand, eating shaved ice while we watched.  After that we walked up the parade a bit and then stopped to watch.  For lunch we bought tamales and carne asada tacos from one of the vendors on the library grounds.  We talked to him a bit about you, and he told us the difference in the way they eat in north Mexico and south Mexico.  It was fun to talk to him.  The tamales were awesome!  In fact, when Dad and I went on a date later that night, we went back for more.  They were selling them cheaper to get rid of them and we bought a dozen.  The guy made it 13.  Dad and I ate the last three today (Thursday) they are sooooo good! 

Wednesday was fun because the young women were having a 10 hour activity at the church so that the girls could work on their ten hour projects for personal progress, and I went periodically and helped Katrina make an alphabet book for Lily.  Miriam joined us around six o’clock.  It was so fun to spend time with them.  The girls had a work party at the skating rink at 9:00.  The theme was the eighties, so they dressed up and Dad and I drove them there.  We stayed in town and walked while the girls were at the party, then we read scriptures together on the way home.   It was fun to be together.

Today I sent off the Disney stuff that we bought for Jon.  The $4 sucker we bought him cost us $3 to send, ha ha.  We’ve heard from Jon a bit this week, and he’s still job hunting and still hanging in there.  I also sent something to my visiting teaching sister who is visiting her parents in Idaho with her family for the whole month of July.  She’s going to wonder how I managed to find her parents address and send her something.  Gotta love the internet! 

Katrina and I went to help Dad at the laundry.  We did some deep cleaning, but it’s only a drop in the bucket.  Since then, Katrina and I have been spending time with Grandma and eating our dinner.  Now I am going over to the church for a Relief Society meeting.  I will be dry-pack canning 50 lbs of oats for our food storage.  

to be continued...

Email From Matt!

Hi, thank you so much for all of the letters.  Thomas and Dad, talking about tanning and funky tan lines, you should see mine! I have a massive one from my watch, the underside of my arms and my collar. ha-ha, it's fun.

Anyway... Do we have any investigators? yes we do, we have... I don't know if I should write names... ok we have an ex-cholo, or gangster that we are teaching, a man who suffered a stroke and can't move his right arm or leg, an older fisher, 2 brothers, a young boy who looks Chinese, an older lady that is divorced, a young girl who doesn't want to be baptized because her older sister will disapprove, and a girl that was on the point of being baptized but all of the sudden, after her interview said no!

Do I have an accent? In Spanish, yes. In English, well to be honest, I don't speak that much English and when I do, I try to have an accent so that the people that I'm talking to will understand me. Ha-ha.  Here, they really like American music and movies and if I want to say Star Wars, I have to say sTard wors or something close to that.

This week, only two investigators came to church, which is very bad because, for someone to be baptized they have to go to church twice. or else they cant. So, if we have a really good investigator, who is progressing, and they don't go to church, after like 3 weeks, we have to tell invite them to church, firmly, and tell them that we care about them but we have to move on and that we will visit later in like a week, and into the area book they go.

Mom, I am in a city called Los Mochis (mow-cheese) it means the turtles in native American. also, if anyone wants to send me anything, they are probably best off just sending it to the mission offices, it's safer that way and more sure that I'll get it.

 I am doing well, I'm really really tan. ha-ha, and I'm sure that will continue for about... 2 years ha-ha. These weeks have passed like the wind, it feels like yesterday I was in a ciber writing y'all (btw, they pronounce ciber: sea bear) the details are a little hard for me to tell because although I speak decent Spanish, There are a lot of words that I have to learn and I can't quite understand everything that is being said. The Lord has really blessed me, the Mexican elders say that I talk like I've been on the mission for about 8 months and I know that it's because of the Lord, not me. If you have any requests, or questions, you could probably write them all in a separate E-mail and that way I can answer them easier. Love you all! and I really love hearing all about how things are going! 

Monday, July 23, 2012

July 23-- Reply to Matt's Email

Dear Matt,
Thanks for the wonderful email and also for the pictures, we were so excited to get them!  Wow, your second companion from Arizona—interesting!  Thanks for telling us about the investigators you have had and for explaining specific prayer to me.  I am going to try to study about Abraham sending his servant to find a wife for Isaac.  I am praying for your investigators.  I know that you probably already are, but I figure it can’t hurt!  I know you have little time to email and I was wondering if you could also send us letters by snail mail.  It may take them a very long time to get here, but we don’t mind!  I love you!

Dear Matt,

I can't describe the thrill that went through my heart when I saw the pictures you sent and heard about the work that you are doing. It brings back so many memories of the joy of sharing the gospel. It seems that you are so much more effective than we were. I bet that you have a wonderful trainer. I am so happy for you! Did I ever tell you about my trainer? On the day that he got me as a missionary he had a bottle of homemade rootbeer that the ward was making blow up in his face, and then when he got back from the hospital, the girl that he went on a mission for (she wouldn't marry him unless he went on a mission) sent him a wedding announcement and he wasn't on it! And then he got a greenie...me. Unfortunately he lost his missionary enthusiasm for the work and was just counting down for the last two months of his mission. He still taught me a lot but not much about using the spirit in the work.

 I love to hear the details about what you are doing. The things that you are doing are of such importance.

 Well, lets see, boring home stuff, well, when we take grandma on a ride now she loves to count the orange barrels. It is kinda funny to hear her, it reminds me of when I was a little kid, she would get tired of me talking to her so she said she would give me a penny for each cow I could count. Sometimes instead of counting the orange barrels, she will just say "Orange orange orange orange" as we pass each barrel.

 I am doing really well on controlling my blood sugar. I really watch what I eat and exercise every day. I mix up what I do because if I always do the same thing it gets boring. Right now I am walking from our house, over to canyon rd, down canyon to main street, down main to Macey;s, then up the new walking path along highway 6 to the Tesoro and then home, it takes me about an hour and 20 minutes. I have three more days of summer school that I have to teach and then I want to take some time and go on some massive walks, I would love to try and walk all the way from Spanish Fork to American Fork or even to Salt Lake. I think my feet are tough enough now to do it without getting blisters. I think I could make it to SLC in 12 to 14 hours. I would really love to try. I'll let you know how I do.

 Well, better get back to teaching, my students up the canyon are such slackers right now it gets really old. The Brown House, Blue House students are much better. (and that is where I will be working in the fall)

Love, Dad.

Dear Elder,
               I’m glad to hear that you like your companion.   Do you have any investigators? Is the language totally confusing you, or are you coming along just fine?  Do you have an accent yet?  I can tell that you really like the food there.  Do you walk a lot, or ride a bike?  I haven’t really been up to much besides work.  I’m trying to keep up on piano, but it’s hard to practice every day.  It’s too bad that you don’t know much about Kindles, because they’re all the rage in our family now.  I have one, Cassandra has one, Emerson has one, and Mom’s thinking about getting one.  You’d probably like them.  Tomorrow there’s an employee party at the water park.  We’re going to watch Jaws in the wave pool.  That should be fun.  I love you. J

It’s nice to hear what you’re up to! I hope that you’re getting used to Mexico and having a nice time.


 Blog Note:  Thomas wrote his own letter to Matt and sent it via his email.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

July 17--Email From Matt!


I hope you all had a great time in Disneyland! I was really excited to hear that you were going. Well, I'm  going to send some pictures, hopefully it works. My Companion's name is Elder Livingston, he lived in Phoenix Arizona. Hmm, what other questions are there? Mom, to answer your question, specific prayer is when you pray to the Lord, you state your problem, or situation, and then, thorough inspiration, you set certain steps with the Lord of what you will do, and then you ask for a specific response. There's
an example in the bible, when Abraham sends his servant to find a wife for his son.

 Matt and Elder Livingston (I think)
Things here are very good, the days are passing like... this is a weird analogy but, like a falling rock. The more time there is, the faster it goes. Hmm, This Sunday we had an investigator come to church. His name is Luiz and he's about 55 years old give or take some years. He really wants to get baptized but his family wont let him. It's actually really weird, he's a grown adult and can make his own decisions. We also found an older man, he is paralyzed on his left side. Like grandma, he suffered a stroke. His wife is actually a member but is inactive. They are taking care of their grandson who has down sindrome (is that how you spell it?) He's a really cute little boy. I have to go, I'll try to get back on and write more.

Matt with Elder Livingston, two other missionaries, the mission President and his wife.

[Blog Note:  Sadly, Matt was not able to get on to write more.  :(  ]

Sunday, July 15, 2012

July 15--Dear Elder

Dear Matt, today is Sunday.  Our trip home was a very nice one.  Sometimes we talked, sometimes I read out loud, and sometimes we read John Byetheway tapes.  We enjoyed being together. 

Church was very nice today.  A returned missionary named Elder Walker gave a wonderful talk on acquiring Christ-like attributes.  He actually referred to the talk you like that was given by Elder Bednar concerning the characteristics of Christ.  He also shared many interesting experiences from his mission where saw people become more like Christ.  It was a wonderful talk and increased my desire to become more like Christ, myself. 

I am still reading Preach My Gospel and today I studied the character of God and Jesus Christ and pondered on how I could have those same characters in my life. 

I love you, Matt.

P.S.  Grandma came home from the care center Saturday night and seems to have had a nice time.  She got her hair cut and perm-ed.  Thomas, Dad, and I are sitting in her room right now, talking to her as we work.  She has lots to say, but little of it makes sense.  She just told me “You’d better sit up or you’ll get a stiff neck, young man.”  I guess I’d better sit up!

July 14--Dear Elder

Hi, Matt.  Today is Saturday and everyone is just waking up.  We will be leaving soon for home.  Yesterday started out slow, but ended up being a very nice day.  We drove to San Deigo and didn’t get there till 2:00.  

The first thing we did there was to visit the San Luis Rey mission where the Mormon Batallion ended their march.  They are raising money to restore the mission and I hope our admission money, purchases, and donation helped them to do this.  The man who talked to us when we walked in to the chapel reminded me of Great Grandpa Haws and his brothers, so it was fun to just hear him talk which he did non stop for quite awhile.  When he heard we were from Utah, he assumed we were Mormons.  Imagine that!  He said he thought some Mormons came through at one time.  He didn’t even seem to know about the Mormon Battalion even though there is a sculpture in the museum of a Mormon Battalion soldier given to the mission by an LDS stake in the area to commemorate the event.

After checking in at the hotel and changing into swimwear, we went to the beach.  Dad, Katrina, and Thomas played in the waves; Miriam, Katrina, and looked at the shops along the beach; and Dad exercised by walking really far up the beach and back.  After that we went to the Seaside Village in downtown San Diego.  The shops were very fun to look at, and we had Greek and Italian food for dinner.  Dad got to see an aircraft carrier for the first time in his life, but sadly we got there too late for a tour.  He really liked seeing it, though.  So that was our San Diego adventure and I declare it a success. 

I hope you are having success in your mission, Matt, and that you are happy and well.  We are still praying for you, of course.  Have a great day!

July 13--Dear Elder

Well, today is Friday, and yesterday was our last day in the park.  It was a very relaxing day because we had already had our fill of the biggest rides and spent our day on the little rides and also watching shows and making final purchases.  Miriam and I went back and took a nap in the early afternoon and didn’t wake up till six.  The evening was nice.  Dad and I watched fireworks and I went on the new Star Tours with Thomas and Katrina one last time while Dad and Miriam tried Buzz Lightyear Astroblasters again.  I am proud to say that I am now married to a Galactic Hero.  Dad went up two levels to the highest level on Buzz, earning more than a million points and saving countless little, green, three-eyed men.  

Wednesday I got to talk to Cassandra on the phone.  Sounds like she’s up to the same old same old which is pretty cool when you realize that means she gets to take care of the cutest baby in the world!  I know from experience, though, that raising small children is quite a challenge—an odd mixture of physical exhaustion and intellectual deprivation.  This morning I prayed that she’d find joy in her day.
Speaking of the same old same old, I talked to Jonathan yesterday who is up to the same.  He hasn’t found a job yet, but I have hope that he’ll find one soon.  This morning I prayed that he’d be led to good places to apply for jobs today.  I also prayed that he’d make good friends and be happy, good, and at peace. 

Today we drive to San Deigo where we are staying at a Hampton close to the beach.  Yesterday was rainy, so I’m not sure about what today will hold, but I’m sure it will be a wonderful adventure.  We love you, Matt.  I prayed that your day would go well and that you would be filled with love and with the Holy Ghost and that you’d be led to people to teach.

July 12--Dear Elder

Hi, Matt.  Today is Thursday, and our last day in Disneyland.  Yesterday was a nice day.  We got to go on the new racers in Cars Land.  Dad had to stand in line for an hour just to get fast passes for the family.  We stood in line for about 25 minutes to get on the ride which is really good considering that the single rider line took 60 minutes and the stand-by line took 150 minutes.  It was a really cool ride.  It started with a tour of Radiator Springs and then ended with being in a really fast “race” through the desert.  As with Splash Mountain, Indiana Jones, and all of Disney’s best rides, it was very picturesque.

July 11--Dear Elder

Dear Matt, it is Wednesday, and the beginning of our third day at Disneyland.  Your dad, the ultimate Disney guru, got us through more rides in our first hour and a half at Disneyland yesterday than most people manage to go on in twelve.  We had so much fun!  I had to go back to the room for a nap around twelve thirty because I was turning into a whiny baby.  Miriam came with me, but Dad and Katrina and Thomas stayed and were in the park constantly for fiftefeen hours.  If we had stayed till the park closes, they would have been there for seventeen.  That is a long time, especially when you are doing four days of it!

Dad was the one who reached out and talked to people yesterday.  He talked to two business men from Japan.  He enjoyed speaking to them in Japanese while we stood in line at the Alice and Wonderland ride.  I just nodded and smiled J

How are things in Mexico?  I hope everything is going well.  I miss you and Jon and Cassandra, but it is a comfort knowing that I can pray for you all and talk to them and write to you.  I couldn’t get Preach My Gospel on the internet this morning, and I forgot where I was reading in the Book of Mormon before I started studying Preach My Gospel, so I decided to study first Nephi 1:1.  It was a very draining half hour of reading and contemplating, and I’m kind of wiped out.  I think I’ll try to go back to sleep for fifteen minutes.  I love you very much, Matt, and wish I could have been a better mom to you and the other kids and a better wife to Dad.  I hope I am improving!  Have a wonderful day!  

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

July 10--Dear Elder: Reply to Matt's Email, Disney Report

Dear Matt, Dad paid $10 for twenty four hours of internet so that we could see if you emailed us, and you did.  Hooray!!!  It was so nice to wake up and read it this morning.  It was funny to read your conversation with the hermanas about lunch.  Sounds like they’re feeding you well.  I just read some letters from Jacob.  It seems that they don’t really eat meals where he is, they just snack a lot.  He also says things  are going well and that they are doing lots of teaching.  I’m so glad that the Mexican people love God and their families so very much and that you are learning to love them.

Hey, Matt.  I know its hard for you to remember all the questions we ask and to answer them, but if you remember, will you please tell me more about the oraciones specificas that you give in your mission.  That sounds intriguing.  I’m guessing that means you all pray for the same thing.  Is there anything more to it?  What did you pray for? 

Woah, its almost time to wake up and leave for another grueling day in Disneyland.  I’m sure glad we emailed you all those letters since you rarely get pouch.   Email is hard, because you end up having to read so much that you end up with very little time to write.  I’m hoping that you are also sending us letters in some way.  We’ll just have to wait and see.  Whatever you can do is good enough.  We love it!

Yesterday we pulled up to our hotel at 11:00, parked, and headed for California Adventure where we had a very inefficient day by Dad’s Disney standards.  We looked at the new cars land, but didn’t go on any rides because they were long—we plan to do that on a day where we can get there earlier.  We split up often so that the kids could go on things like Screamin’ and Tower of Terror, and Dad left up around 2: 00 to check us in to our room.  The kids all bought themselves hats to wear.  Thomas got a Perry the Platypus Mickey Mouse hat.  Miriam got a Tinkerbell Mickey Mouse hat, and Katrina got a tiny Mad Hatter hat that perches on the top of her head at an angle.

We all went on the ferris wheel, and it made us all sick, ha ha, so we had to buy peppermints and after that we all felt better.  We watched Goofy conduct music and dancing water and that was pretty funny.  We ate lunch at rocket ribs and dinner at the Carnation Café.   Miriam now has shin splints, Katrina has blisters, and the bottom of my feet are killing me.  Like I said—grueling.  Don’t worry, you know we love it. 

Dad and the kids got to talk to Jon, and Katrina bought him something for his birthday.  We’ve been looking at cute little stuffed animals for Lily, too.  We saw a shirt with Briar Rose from Sleeping Beauty that Dad wanted to buy for me.  Luckily it turned out to be a night shirt, because it cost $42!

I tried to follow my goal yesterday and notice the people around me.  We had some nice conversations with others.  I am embarrassed to admit that there are times we have gone to Disneyland and not spoken to another human being outside the family unless they were helping us on a ride or selling us something.  Pretty sad, really.  I read more about the value of scripture reading and hope that I can  continue to live and speak the Word. 

Well, Katrina is in the shower, and Dad is waking up.  Gotta go.  Thank you so much for the email.  It means the world to us!

Email From Matt in Mexico!

Blog Note:  Sorry about the format--not much I can do unless I retype the whole thing.  Not gonna do it.

Hi! It's very exciting to hear from you all and I hope that you are doing well! Mom, with the pouch letters, they actually go to the Mission officies and I don't get them until our Zone Leader goes to Zone Conference, and then after that we have to have a District Conference, and then I get my
letter, so in reality, I get Pouch mail about once every month. haha! :) anyway, Thank you for all writing letters! It is way good to hear from you all.

 I really like it here in México but it is different, the people don't have a lot but one thing that they do have is happiness. They all are very centered in God and in the Family. Every time we ask  a person what the most important thing in their life is, without fail, every single one of them, young or old, has said their family. The food here is different, it's way funny how lunch happens: we always go to a sister's house to eat lunch (they call it La Comida, AKA the food, here) and they ask you: ¿Te gusta tortillas de harina? and we respond: ¡Sí! and then: ¿Y frijoles? and we say: ¡Claro que sí hermana! and then she proceds to give us a. ton. of. food. and if you don't eat it all, everything on the table, she says: ¿No te gusta la comida? and we have to say ¡No, no, no hermana, me gusta la comida! and then you have to eat more. and more. haha! I haven't had too much problem with the food yet, but we'll see. 

Katrina, I have never actually used a kindle so you are on your own with this one. In the mission, they do something called: specific prayer or oración specifica. We offered a specific prayer on my 2nd day and it was answered to the T.

 Thomas, I miss you too bud. Don't worry though, I'll be home before you know it. Dad, try mole sauce some time! haha, I bet you already know what it is but it's chocolate salsa. I don't like it. I have to go! I'm way sorry if i didn't answer someone's question. I really appreciate all of the e-mails and enjoyed reading them
bye! Love,
Elder Matt.

Monday, July 9, 2012

July 9--Dear Elder: Disneyland or Bust!

Dear Elder,

Hi! It’s Monday morning.  EARLY Monday morning.  In fact, it’s 3:30 Monday morning.  I have been awake most of the night because Dad and I are sharing a queen sized bed in the hotel room, and every time I get to sleep, he moves and wakes me up.  Finally I gave up and got out of bed.  I’m not too worried about getting no sleep since I’m sure that after walking around Disneyland all day, I’ll have no trouble sleeping the next time I try.  I just realized that I didn’t send you a letter by pouch yesterday, and I’m very unhappy about it.  That letter with excerpts from the whole family was supposed to be sent by pouch, not email, but I forgot and sent it by email instead.  Now you won’t get a pouch letter this week.  I am so sorry about that!
I hope you had a very nice weekend in Mexico and enjoyed going to church for the first time.  Church was wonderful yesterday.  Tanner Tagg gave his missionary talk, and it was wonderful!  He’s learned and grown so much.  His mission was in Tampa Florida and he had some wonderful experiences bringing people to a knowledge of the fullness of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Sunday School and Relief Society were nice, too.  Both lessons were on missionary work!

After church, we took awhile getting ready to leave, but were finally gone by 4:30.  Don and Renee came over about 3:00 to take care of Grandma.  It was very nice to see them and they got a kick of watching us load up to go and then leave the car again one by one to do different things and then finally load back up again.  We had a nice time on the road.  We listened to two talks by Jon Bytheway.  One was called, “Turn off the TV and Get a Life,” and the other one was about the lessons we can learn from the war chapters of the Book of Mormon.  We also read a conference talk by Elder Hales called “Coming to Ourselves.”  It was a wonderful talk.  I also called Grandpa on the phone and talked to him for awhile until we lost service.  He is growing lots of eggplant, zucchini, and butternut squash in his garden.

We ate lots of vegetables on the road because I cut up all the vegetables left in the fridge for us to eat so that they wouldn’t go to waste.  We also had boiled eggs for the same reason.  We were supposed to have sandwiches, but forgot the bread.  All we had were two white pieces of bread.  Thomas didn’t want them—he actually doesn’t like white bread and won’t eat toast or sandwiches with the exception of PB&J.  Anyway, we didn’t want to go to the store on Sunday, so Miriam and Katrina both had a opened-faced white bread sandwich, Thomas ate a few pieces of meat, I had pastrami spread with cream cheese, topped with pretzels, and Dad had pastrami spread with cream cheese wrapped over a boiled egg.  The boiled egg thing tasted quite good, so Dad had a couple and Miriam and I each had one, too.

We got to the hotel by 9:00, read scriptures, and were in bed by 10:00.  Right now, Dad is awake, too, and I’m wondering if he will soon say, “Let’s go.”  I hate to wake the kids up, though.  Anyway, we should be in Disneyland by noon, enjoying the rides, etc.  That will be very fun.  It is good to be doing something different for a change, and it has been nice traveling with the fam.

My goal for today is to see, hear, feel, and taste. I want to look outside myself to the needs of others.  I want to hear what people mean when they speak, not just what they are saying.  I want to feel love and the Holy Ghost, I want to taste the joy of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Quite a goal for one day, and knowing me, I'll probably forget all that and just be a hedonist.  I hope not!

I hope all is going well for you, and that you are getting the hang of the language, finding lots of good people to teach, and eating tons of delicious food.  Most of all, I hope you are filled with the Holy Ghost and the pure love of Christ.

We love you very much.  You are in our thoughts and prayers.
Love, Mom

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Dear Elder,

Well, today is the Sabbath.  We worked very hard yesterday getting ready for our trip.  Grandma slept till very late in the day which helped us get things done.  Thomas didn’t go to work, so I kept him very busy around here.  I realized at the end of the day that he didn’t complain once.  He mowed, took out trash, packed, etc.  Katrina also helped quite a bit before work without complaint.  She helped me clean the fridge, cleaned her room, and packed..  Miriam worked most of the day, but got her packing pretty much done.   Dad worked hard all day without stopping.  He got the car ready, got things squared away at the laundry, and shopped for food so that we won’t have to go to any stores on the Sabbath.
We will be going to church and then leaving.  There is a nice Hampton on the belt route in Vegas that bypasses the strip completely where Dad likes to stay, so we will sleep there, and then complete our trip tomorrow (Monday).  We have conference talks and Jon Bytheway talks on tape to listen to, so today’s drive should be pretty good. 

Sarah called me yesterday from Dallas where they were visiting.  They had just gotten to see Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.  Sarah said Lily is so cute, which of course we know J  I keep imagine them getting to see her and trying not to be jealous.  I want to go see her so bad.   Maybe I can fly there alone.  That would be so nice! 

Grandma was awake and with us in the evening.  She said family prayer last night.  Renee is coming to be with her tonight and see her off to the care center tomorrow.  The nurses and aide will also be here to help, and the care center will transport her.  The care center looks like a very nice place and came highly recommended by the nurse.  I think Grandma might have a nice vacation, too.  I hope.

Well, I’m still trying to study hard and share what I’ve learned.  I read more about the blessings that come from giving diligence and heed to the word of God as given by the holy prophets.  It is so hard to shake off the world.  I keep trying, but I’m coming along so slowly that I’m not sure I’m coming along at all.  What have you been studying lately.  I’d really like to hear.  I sure hope we have Wifi at the hotel in Anaheim so that we can send you letters and get any letters that you send.  I love you, Matt.  I doubt that I’ll send this whole big letter of the week pouch because it will all be repeats from email.  We will send you a pouch letter today, though, from the whole fam! 

I love you very much, Matt.  May god be with you in your consecrated work.


Saturday, July 7, 2012

July 7--Dear Elder: Letter from Brian, Doing Laundry, Out with Brian, Etc.

Hi, Matt.  It’s Saturday.  How are you?  Dad wants to dictate a quick letter to me to send you.  Here it is:

Dear Matt,
So, tomorrow is your first Sunday in Mexico.  I’m sure it will be a wonderful day for you.  I remember my first Sunday in Japan.  We had to ride our bikes for about a half hour to get to the upper floor of a rented warehouse where there were about seventy members.  To see the moms and dads and the little kids, and to hear them sing the songs of Zion, and to be around people who believed in the gospel, was a strengthening experience.  It helped me realize that this is what missionary work is all about.  I can hardly wait to hear about your experiences.  I hope that everything is going well for you.  Please know that you are in all of our hearts and prayers.  The other great thing about members reminds me of something my dad told me.  He said the great thing about being a member of the Church is that no matter where you go in the world, you will have friends.  Both my mother and father were convert baptisms.  You are only the third person in our family with the Cole name that has gone on a mission.  I don’t know what your experiences are with the Spanish language in Mexico, but my first week in Japan, I wondered if I had learned another language in the MTC instead of Japanese.  Well, better let you go.

Hi.  This is Mom again.  I sure hope you have been having a wonderful week.  No matter how hard it may seem at first, I know that you are in exactly the right place doing exactly the right thing.   The times in our lives when we can say that unequivocally, are very precious.  Heavenly Father brought you to this point, and He will help you. 

Yesterday was a nice day  I got to spend a lot of time with Dad.  We did the laundry in the evening, and afterward Miriam, who had her car in town, offered to drive the kids home so that Dad and I could go on a date.  It was such a sweet gesture, and Dad and I had so much fun.  We walked to the frozen yogurt place by the hot dog place and back.  We also drove around a bit.  We enjoyed just being together.  Thomas didn’t work yesterday so he took care of Grandma a lot including making her breakfast and feeding her dinner.   He also cleaned out the shed and reportedly had an epic battle with herculean spiders, but he prevailed.  Katrina and Miriam worked.  We got the papers to admit Grandma into the care center on Monday.  I sure hope everything goes well with that.

Yesterday I talked to Cassandra and she was telling me how cool the Kindle is and I wonder if I should get one.  I could bring it with me wherever I go and never be bored again!  Katrina is sure enjoying hers.  I like it because you know how I give Frosties to the kids when they read classics?  Actually, now I give them packs of gum instead, but we still call books that qualify, “Frosty books.”  With Katrina, when she wants to read a classic, I give her the reward ahead, meaning a dollar fifty to buy the book on Kindle.  It’s much cheaper to buy old classics than any other type of book, and Katrina is reading many more of them.  She’s downloaded Les Miserables, Anne of Green Gables, and the Complete Works of Shakespeare to name a few. 

I also talked to Jonathan yesterday.  He had a few questions about insurance, so I referred him to Dad.   Cassandra helped him spiffy up his resume, so that should help his job hunting, I hope.  He seems to really be beating the pavement, and I hope it pays off!

Today we are getting ready for our trip.  I am doing what needs to be done at home, and Dad is taking care of what needs to be done away like getting the oil and transmission changed.  He is going to exercise while that is happening.  My plan is to have everyone pack as much as they can first thing, and then they can find what is missing, wash what is dirty, etc. I also plan to get Grandma out of bed so that she can partake of the chaos.  It should be a pretty nice day.

Today I studied about the fruit of the tree that grows from the seed of the word of God planted in our hearts.  I learned that the fruit is precious, sweet, white, pure, desirable to make one happy, fills the soul with great joy, more desirable than any other fruit, and the greatest of all the gifts of God.  If we feast upon it until we are filled, we won’t hunger or thirst.  Tasting is not enough.  Some have made their way to the tree and tasted the fruit but fell away because they were ashamed by the mockery of others.  But if we feast on the fruit until we are full, we will never hunger or thirst.   More motivation to continue my efforts to plant the word of God in my heart.  I need more motivation because I get lazy and forgetful.

I love you, Matt.  Have a wonderful weekend in beautiful Mexico!

Friday, July 6, 2012

July 6--Dear Elder: Family News

Good morning, Matt.  Today is Friday.  How are you doing?  Today will be your fourth day in Mexico!  How exciting!  We are praying that you will be able to find people to teach and that you will be able to speak the language with the spirit.  I keep trying to imagine what it is like where you are.  I looked at Culiacan a bit on Google maps.  That was fun.

Yesterday it rained a lot.  They closed down the water park, so Katrina and Thomas didn’t work.  Miriam did work, though.  I tried to keep Katrina and Thomas busy yesterday; they get way too much screen time.  I kept them busy cooking, cleaning, shopping, and bike riding.  Today they only get 2 hours of screen time.  That’s probably way too much, as it is. 

Grandma was out of bed in the kitchen with us for quite awhile today.  At one point, I was on the computer with Grandma watching over my shoulder.  The kids were on a bike ride.  Pretty soon, Grandma started singing “Happy Birthday to You.”  She got through the whole song perfectly, inserting her name as the birthday person.  I asked her why she sang that, and she said “Because it’s my birthday today,” and started to cry.  I explained to her that her birthday isn’t till next month and I realized that it was exactly a month away.  I think Grandma must have seen 7/5/2012 on the computer and thought it was August 5.  I assured her that when it is her birthday we will have a big party and invite everyone over to visit.  She felt better after that, poor Grandma.  Wow, she must have good eyes to have been able to see that date.

Later, after Dad came home, and we ate the pizza that the kids made for dinner, Dad and I took Grandma for a drive.  We have lots of construction here, and Grandma likes to say, “orange” everytime she sees an orange construction sign.  It gets really interesting when the road is lined with orange construction barrels, because she tries to say “orange” once for every barrel.  So we drove down the freeway with Grandma saying “Orange, orange, orange, orange,” as fast as she could.  Just when I thought I might go crazy, she started counting them instead.  She got all the way to 100 before she stopped.  Pretty good counting! 

Thanks to Dad, I got to bed early and was asleep before 9:30.  That is a good thing because I have been forgetting things lately.  Yesterday, I put some boiled eggs into pickle juice so that Dad could have pickled eggs, and when he got them out to eat, the shells were still on them.  I forgot lots more than that, but that’s the only thing that I remember I forgot. 

Dad has the day off today, and we plan to take everyone’s laundry over to the laundromat to get it washed up for our trip to Disneyland next week.  We also meet with the care center where Grandma will be staying to sign the admitting papers.  Miriam, of course, is working.  With working full time, six days a week, that girl is getting rich.  She is also getting a two dollar bonus at the end of the summer for every hour she works.  Katrina is supposed to work today, so we’ll see what happens with the weather.  Dad plans to work lots at the laundry.  Me?  I’ve been into shopping in the classifieds lately, and plan to check out some stuff for the house.  I doubt I’ll buy much, but there are some good deals out there! 

I studied more today and focused on Alma 33:22

“ …begin to believe in the Son of God, that he will come to redeem his people, and that he shall suffer and die to atone for their sins; and that he shall rise again from the dead, which shall bring to pass the resurrection, that all men shall stand before him, to be judged at the last and judgment day, according to their works.
23 And now, my brethren, I desire that ye shall plant this word in your hearts, and as it beginneth to swell even so nourish it by your faith. And behold, it will become a tree, springing up in you unto everlasting life. And then may God grant unto you that your burdens may be light, through the joy of his Son. And even all this can ye do if ye will. Amen.”

These verses state clearly that the seed that should be planted in our hearts is the word of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, that we nourish it by faith, and that the tree that will grow is joy in this life and eternal life in the world to come. It is through faith in Jesus Christ that my burdens can be lifted.  This verse urges me to hang in there and keep nourishing the seed.  I need the joy of his Son in my life to make my burdens will be light and give me the courage to continue on doing my part, and knowing all will be made right in Christ. 

Well that’s it for now, Matt.  We love you so much!  I’m thinking you might get our first pouch letter today.  That would be awesome!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

July 5---Dear Elder: Fourth of July Report

Thursday—Hi, Matt.  How are you doing?  I wonder what day is your preparation day.   I also wonder what you are up to.  Do they already have you preaching the gospel?  That would be awesome!  I hear that Tanner is already in Oregon.  I guess they only had him in the MTC for 3 weeks.  Jacob is also in Singapore.   I guess he lost his wallet.  Grandpa didn’t say it was stolen, but Jacob went to pay for something with his credit card, had all sorts of trouble getting it approved, and when that was all over, the wallet was gone.  Moral of the story—hang on to your wallet!   Tanner Tagg got home from his mission yesterday.  I think they had a big swim party in celebration.

Well, we did everything we planned to do yesterday.  We all went to the breakfast except Dad who stayed home and slept.  It was very nice and very patriotic.  Then I hung the flag up over the door and we went to the parade.  Grandma was still sleeping when we left.  It was very fun to walk the parade.   Miriam walked about half of it with us and then had to go to work.  The rest of us finished the whole thing and ended up at Seven Eleven for Slurpees.  After that, we split up.  Katrina and Thomas walked to the laundry to rest while Dad and I walked the parade route back to the car.  We walked about three and a half miles in all.  After that, we dropped Thomas off at work and drove home to take care of Grandma.

Later on, Dad, Katrina, and I went to the Colonial village and learned how coopers make barrels.  We also saw some incredible costumes, and tried a Joe Frogger which is a big molasses cookie.  It was delicious.  Then we picked up Thomas and Miriam from work and had a picnic in the park.  The weather by then had cooled down a bit (it got up to 100 yesterday) and we had a pleasant time.  Fireworks don’t start till late, so we went back home for awhile before heading back to see the fireworks which were beautiful!  That was our Independence Day!

Today it’s business as usual with everyone working.  It is cloudy outside which is good because it’s been so hot and dry, but it may mean the kids don’t work much.  Jon called this morning.  It’s cloudy  his way, too.  He said he didn’t do much on the Fourth, but he’s going to SOS today to see if there’s any work available.  It was good to hear his voice—its been a few days.  I didn’t hear from Cassandra yesterday, but I know that they were planning to watch “A More Perfect Union” and go over to friends for the Fourth.  That sounds like a nice way to celebrate.

I was pretty discouraged this morning as I started my studying because I don’t feel like I did very good yesterday at trying to be like Jesus.  But Alma 32:38 was a good reminder.  It said, “But if ye neglect the tree, and take no thought for its nourishment, behold it will not get any root; and when the heat of the sun cometh and scorcheth it, because it hath no root it withers away, and ye pluck it up and cast it out.”  Well, the heat of the sun was certainly scorching yesterday, ha ha.  This verse reminds me to keep nourishing the word and to not let it wither just because things get hard sometimes, so I’m hanging in there!  I Love you, Matt.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

July 4--Dear Elder: Fourth of July

Happy Fourth of July, Matt!  

It was such a happy surprise to get on the email and find a message from you!  I’m glad your time in Mexico is starting out so well.  We also got your memory card—94 pictures, and only three of them had you in the picture, ha ha.  We put the pictures on the computer so that you can have picts of all the guys at the MTC when you get home.  We are hoping that you can get yourself in a few more pictures while you are at Mexico.  Also, I know they don’t want you to look like a tourist, but pictures of you and your companion and the scenery and your investigators would be nice.

Well, in 4 minutes I need to shower and go to the ward Fourth of July breakfast.  I don’t know who else is going with me since no one is awake yet.  I think Dad will sleep through it.  He’s pretty tired.  After the breakfast we plan to walk the parade route.  Remember we did that last year, and it was pretty fun?  We start near the end of the parade route and walk “upstream.”  I’m looking forward to that.  Afterward, Miriam and Thomas will go to work and Dad and Katrina and I will come home.  I plan to take care of Grandma and then crash.  Crashing is an old Fourth of July tradition for me.  Okay, crashing is an every day tradition for me J  After Miriam and Thomas’s work we will find a place to sit, have a picnic and watch the fireworks.  Nice plan, eh?

Yesterday I bought new chairs for the living room.  I’ve been looking for some and found some and these are very nice.  It’s hard to find two matching chairs in the want ads, people are usually only selling one.  Yesterday everyone worked and I stayed home with Grandma.  I did computer chores in her room with her and I also de-junked.  I had a nice time.  When everyone got home, we ate, looked read your email to the kids, and looked at your pictures.  Cassandra called and Dad got to talk to her.  He’s a phone hog.  We didn’t hear from Jon today.  I hope he’s doing good.  After doing all that, we took Grandma on a ride.  We drove along the parade route where all the crazy people are camping out in order to have a good spot  to watch the parade.  It was a nice ride. 

I read more of Alma 32 again this morning and am still working on my same goals to plant the words of Christ in my heart by having them in my thoughts (remembering and pondering on the word throughout the day), words (sharing the word with others.  I did that with Katrina and Thomas yesterday), and deeds (acting on promptings.  That happened at least twice yesterday when I acted on the prompting to talk to a family member and also to call someone).  I am feeling more loving and closer to Jesus Christ!  

Well, Gotta go!  I was compiling every day's writings to send to you by pouch at the end of the week, but you asked for it in email instead.  Let me know how that is working.  You will still get a letter by pouch but lots, not all, will be what you've already read on email.  I hope that's okay.  I love you, Matt.  We are praying for you and we know that our prayers will bless you.


Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Reply to Matt's Email

Hi, Matt!  It is so nice to hear from you.  I am so glad that you got to Mexico safe and sound, and I am so glad you found your bag.  I prayed that your bags would be safe.  I am so happy to hear that everything is great!  I wish we could see the place you are at.   Is it desert like Cabo San Lucas or lush like Puerto Villarta?  Either way, I believe you when you say it is beautiful.  You are a lucky lucky man to be eating all that delicious authentic Mexican food!  I am very jealous, but also very wimpy; I couldn't handle the spiciness.  I am the only one at home right now, but I will make sure everyone sees your email.  We love you so much!  Take care, and keep writing!


(Blog Note:  I also sent Matt the excerpts that I have written so far of the letter I am sending Matt on Sunday.)

Email From Matt In Mexico--Yippeee!

 Well, I´m here, and everything is great! I don´t think that sending letters is the best way to go about things, E-mail is probably the best. This place has it´s own type of beauty, I wish you could see it. I thought I lost one of my bags, but it turned up. I love you all! Send me E-mails, not letters!

 -P.S. the food here is great!

July 3--Dear Elder: Phone Call Follow Up, Yard Work, Talking to Cass and Jon, Family News

(Blog note:  This is today's exerpt of a letter that I am compiling to send to our missionary son, Matt on Sunday the 8th).
Hey, Matt.  It’s Tuesday.  You are in Mexico (I hope)!  Wow, it’s hard to even imagine.  It’s so exciting!  I just looked at your account.  It looks like you paid the airline $40 and that you ate at MacDonalds, and that you spent a bit at the MTC before you left.  It’s cool to see where you went and what you did!  Yes, I am stalking you, ha ha.  I hope that it was a safe and pleasant trip.

I’m so sorry that you weren’t able to get a hold of Dad or anyone else after you called us.  I know that must be really hard for you.  Dad was sad, too, but he understands.  His phone wasn’t getting any reception in the classroom yesterday, so that’s why it didn’t work out.  He wanted to know every thing you said, and I feel like Heavenly Father blessed my little brain to remember every detail for him.  It really made Dad happy to hear it all.  Thanks for calling us!

I loved yesterday.  Thomas didn’t go in to work at all, and Katrina didn’t go in till 2:30, so I put them to work in the yard.  Katrina mowed, Thomas weed wacked, and, I pulled weeds.  Boy, does the yard look good.  Dad has been way too busy to do it and I was so glad to get it done.  Later, I had Thomas sprinkle Preen on all the weeded area so that no new weeds will  germinate.   Preen sure is good stuff.  The apricot tree is full of apricots in various stages of ripeness, and I need to get the word out for people to come pick.   It did post it on Facebook.  Anyway, the yard is so pretty with big cannas growing in the front and the humongoloidious apricot tree in the back and everything nice and mowed.
In the middle of mowing, Cassandra Skyped, and we got to talk to her and Lily!  Cassandra and Katrina were talking about Kindles because they both each got one.  While they did that, I laughed and talked with Lily.  I hope we didn’t irritate Cassandra and Katrina too much, but we two had a good old time.  And then Thomas started making faces and Lily made them right back.  It was lots of fun.  We are thinking that our Christmas this year will be to go visit them.  That will be so fun!

I also got to talk to Jonathan a bit.  He got his birthday cards out of the mail yesterday, and he loved them.  He was very surprised to find birthday money from Grandpa and Grandma.  He didn’t expect any because they helped him out so much when they were visiting in June.  He was really grateful.  He already got a present from us, but we each made a coupon for him of things that we would do for him and stuck it in the card from us.  My coupon was good for doing all his laundry, Dad’s was to take him coyote hunting, Miriam’s was for a batch of cookies, Katrina’s was a promise to buy him something at Disneyland, and Thomas’s was good for Jon getting the bottom bunk whenever he visits and permission to wake Thomas up  and make him move if he ever forgets and falls asleep on the bottom.  It was fun to talk to Jon.  We are praying that he will get a job soon, he could use your prayers, too!

Kat, Thom, and I also took care of Grandma and grocery shopped before we drove Katrina in to work.  It was very nice to have them with me.  When Dad got home, Thomas played at Garred’s and I helped Dad package up a bunch of currency he sold on Ebay.  He’s pretty excited because it went for lots of money.  Grandma had been asking to put on shoes so that she could walk outside all day yesterday.  Well, of course, she can’t walk, but after packaging the currency, we did put on her shoes, loaded her up in the car, and took her with us to the post office to send off the currency.  We also went to Costco and then we picked Katrina up at work and came home where Miriam and Thomas were waiting for us so that we could have Family Home Evening.  By the end of the drive, Grandma was telling Dad to slow down quite a bit, but I still think she liked it. 

For Family Home Evening, we ate at Taco Bell as a family and then went to the Fourth of July booths by the old courthouse.  The kids went to the hair design booth and got their hair done.  Miriam’s was swept up big on her head and came to a point at the crown—the whole thing, head and all was kind of shaped like a tear drop.  Katrina got hers swept to one side and pinned in pretty curls against her head, and Thomas went for a faux hawk.  We got many interesting looks as we checked out the booths.  It was really fun to be with the family just hanging out.   No one bought anything, but we did get some free ice cream.   We read scriptures on the way home and prayed in the car when we got there.  Then Dad went exercising and I put Grandma to bed.  The kids came in and sang a song to her and kissed her good night.  It was such a nice day!

Today has started off well.  I saw Dad and Miriam off to work, and Katrina and I had yogurt together for breakfast.  I love yogurt!!!  I had it with almonds and uncooked oats mixed in.  It’s amazing that the oats taste so good in it and don’t confuse my palate J  While we ate, I told Katrina about what I studied in the scriptures this morning and she was so nice to listen.  Now she is downstairs watching a show (that won’t last long, bwah hahahah), and I am here writing to you. 

Yesterday I shared what I learned in the scriptures with Miriam, Thomas, and Dad.  Thomas shared something with me that fits right in to my studies.  He said that at EFY, he tried to act on every prompting he felt, and once he felt like he should sing and so he did and afterward, someone came up to him and told him how much they needed to hear that song.  You know how I am trying to have the words of Christ in my thoughts, words, and deeds?  As I said before, I figured I’d have them in my thoughts by pondering and in my words by sharing with others, and now Thomas has helped me figure out how to have the Word in my deeds—by trying to act upon every little prompting from the Holy Ghost that I receive throughout the day.   I love how Heavenly Father guides me to study and hear things that all come together and that point me to His Son, Jesus Christ.

(Blog Note:  That's it for today!  Stay tuned for tomorrow's installment.)

Monday, July 2, 2012

July 2--Dear Elder: Call from Matt! Jon's B-day, Don and Renee's Visit

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How was your first week in Mexico?  I hope it was good.  It all must seem so strange right now, but hang in there, it will get better!

We are still waiting for your call this morning.  I sure hope we didn’t sleep through it!  Everyone had strict instructions to answer the phone if they heard it ring while they were sleeping, so this morning I asked Dad if he heard the phone while he was sleeping and he said, “Only in my dream.”  This did not inspire confidence that you have not called.  He said “It wasn’t that kind of dream,” which I guess means that it wasn’t real.  I hope not!  Katrina and Thomas got work off, but Miriam wasn’t able to.  Thomas did go to football practice.  It was really hard for him to decide whether or not to go.  I told him to say a prayer and make a decision.  He only has another half hour of practice, so hopefully he won’t miss you. 

Yesterday was a nice day.  I got a call at 7:35 am to go to a meeting.   I thought I had a meeting last night at 7:30, but it turns out that it was this morning at 7:30.  I showered quickly and got there before 8:00.  It was a meeting to plan a meeting with the youth to plan an activity.  Gotta love meetings, ha ha!  Church was good; I felt the Spirit.  After church, we broke our fast (most of us started fasting after lunch yesterday), and then the kids and I slept while Dad exercised.  When we all woke up, we cooked and ate.  Don and Renee came over at 7:00 to visit, and we had a wonderful time.  Grandma was very happy to see them.

I got to talk to Jonathan and wish him happy birthday after lunch.  I sang him my favorite birthday song of all time which you should already know.  My favorite line of it is…Zzzzzippttteeeayyy and Heideeho!!!! Sadly, he couldn’t see the dance that went with my song.  I did send him a written transcript of the lyrics on his Facebook wall so that he can cherish it forever.  Later, we called and sang “Happy Birthday to You” to him as a family.  He thanked us for not singing the one I sang earlier.  I don’t know what his problem is.  He has two birthday cards waiting for him this morning; he just needs to get a key from the office to get them.

Well, I am still studying Preach My Gospel.  Sort of.  My studies have led me to study Alma 32 again, and that is going to take some time.  Today, as I studied about awaking and planting the word of God in my heart, I read verse 27 that talks about giving a place for the word of God .  My question to ponder was, “how can I best give place for the word?”  I already read the word of God daily, and have done that for years, but I know that I need to awake and arouse myself to better action.  After pondering, I decided if I try to remember what I have studied in my thoughts, words, and deeds, this would be giving a place for the word.  I also realized that Christ is the word.  So when I read His words and make them a part of who I am, I am making Christ a part of who I am. 

My next ponder question was, “How can I speak the word?” and I decided to just open my mouth and say it.  So when Miriam woke up, I just told her what I’ve been learning in the scriptures lately.  It was really nice.  I plan to think, speak, and act on the word (The Word) of God all day today J

Matt!  You just called.  I am so happy!  I am so glad that Miriam was still home and that I was able to get  Thomas home from football while you talked to Miriam and Katrina and that we all got to talk to you.  I’m sorry you couldn’t hear us real well.  It was so nice to hear your voice.  Thank you for the things that you said to us, they mean so much to me.  I know it will help your siblings catch the vision of how important the gospel is in our lives.   I know that your serving a mission is blessing all of our lives.   I sure hope you got a hold of Dad at work.  I just called Cassandra to let her know you might be calling.  Jon already knows, so we’ll see what you get to do.  I’m sorry that your phone card didn’t work, and I am so glad you had quarters!  May God bless the good Samaritan who helped you get those.  After we talked to you, we said a prayer for you, and we know that Heavenly Father will help you get to Mexico safely today.

(Blog Note:  This is the first installment of a collection of daily writings that I will be sending out to Matt via dearelder.com on Sunday the 8th. )