Thursday, August 30, 2012

Aug 27--Letter From Matt!i

Hey everyone! Ok, I'm going to answer mom first so I don't forget. Mom, I did use the debit card, I withdrew 1,000 pesos, and bought some sd card stuff to make sure that I can always send you pictures. it costed about 40 bucks I guess to buy 2 memory cards and various adapters. Freaking cheap. I don't think I need probiotic things... I really get enough bacteria as it is, good or otherwise. I have been really blessed, and haven't had any real problems. It is very hard to imagine anyone in a cold place here, as the people seem to think that 80 degrees is cold. 150 dollars would be great. Also, in about a year and a half... make that a year and like 2 months... my debit card will expire. so I'll probably just withdraw like 2000 pesos then, that's like 160 dollars. you can buy a ton of stuff with that.

Katrina, How about the cheaper one if there isn't too much difference between them, and then you use the other money to buy books? You should really try to join choir when you can, it's great! Do you want to become fluent in German? Thomas, Man bud, that sounds really hard... Have you asked dad for a blessing? I hope you get better cause being sick sucks. Do you like seminary? But really tell me about your life and all that too. haha.  Miriam, What is roller derby? I always think that what doesn't kill you makes you stronger... or cripples you. haha. How is the truck treating you? What are you saving all the money up for? Dad, Ha, yeah I've heard of insanity, it's pretty intense, and I've heard of P90X, keep it up and you'll be more skinny than I am, and I have a tape worm (Mom, that was a joke, I'm 93% sure that I don't have a tape worm {That was a joke too, I'm not at all sure about anything}) Old Disney cartoons? that sounds... black, white, and boring hahah!! The Freddie W stuff sounds pretty cool... Man I guess I might be changing, because it sounds very repetitive too.

This week has been a little harder to have as much lessons because there just wasn't enough time. We had a great zone conference. The numbers say that we are Frito's but we have been working, me and elder Livingston were talking and we came up with some stuff that we need to do to be doing to have success, or to be working effectively. (i almost forgot how to say effectively in English) When we finished baptizing a little girl and her mother there was such a good spirit there.  It was very peaceful, penetrating, but not overpowering, something that you would've needed to pay attention to in order to notice. 

(Blog Note: At this point, Matt writes some wonderful stuff about another investigator and how that investigator is progressing. It is wonderful to read!)

Well,I'm all out of time, see ya!

Monday, August 27, 2012

Aug 20--Weekly Dear Elder Concluded--Visits from Family, etc

Today is Sunday.  I didn’t go to our ward because, since I am in the stake young women presidency, I attended another ward’s ward conference.  Thomas also didn’t go to church because he is sick with a fever.  Weird, huh?  We haven’t had anyone sick for ages.  If he’s still got one tomorrow, I’ll probably have to take him in for a strep test.  He says if he has to get a shot, I owe him ice cream.  After church we took Grandma for a ride and she had a nice time reading every sign she could see.  Miriam, Katrina, and I made dinner which will be meatballs and fresh tomato and basil sauce.  I tried to make balsamic glaze by boiling down balsamic vinegar, but I cooked it too long, and now we have balsamic candy.  It’s actually quite sweet and good.  Both Renee’s family and Paul are coming over later to see Grandma, and she is looking forward to that.

Well, Matt, it’s time to send out this email.  Fall is on its way, and the colors are changing in the mountains.  My plants and flowers are at their best, and seeing their beauty brings me lots of joy.  Dad and the kids are settling down to school, Jon is living with us until he finds an apartment, and I am working out my daily routine.  It is nice to have a calm in our lives to take a breath and prepare for whatever storms are ahead.  We are reading our family scriptures and having family prayer.  Most of us also are reading our personal scriptures and praying daily.  Lately in my scripture study, Heavenly Father has reminded me to exercise my faith, to care more about Him than the world, to remember His blessings and the manifestations of His spirit and to remember that he will always be with me.  I have also been warned that the Spirit of God will not always strive with man, and to always heed that Spirit.

To answer your last email, first I have to thank you for writing so faithfully.  I know you are busy.  I love getting your emails and reading about how you are doing.  I like reading your breakdown of how many months straight that you are preaching the gospel on your mission.  It is wonderful!  How was Dalia’s baptism?  Did her mother and brother get baptized also?  I admire Ocatavio’s faith.  If his faith is strong enough, and it is Heavenly Father’s will, he will healed.  If Noe continues to read the Book of Mormon, I can’t imagine him not being baptized.  It exhorts it’s readers to do good continually, to come unto Christ, and fills them with the Holy Ghost.  I love you very much and am so glad that you love the Lord and have consecrated your life to serving him.  Although I miss you, I know you are where Heavenly Father needs you to be, and you are in my prayers always.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Aug 24--Dear Elder: Back to School, Moving Jon, Father's Blessings, etc

 Dear Elder,

Wow, this week is flying by!  It is already Thursday and I am just now beginning to write to you.  I have the time today because I woke up at 4:00 and couldn’t get back to sleep.  I’ve been praying for time to write.  God sure works in mysterious ways, ha ha.  It has been such a busy week because the kids are back in school.  I have no idea what happened Monday; it is a blur.  In the evening we took the kids to to do laundry for the first day of school.  We planned on having Family Home Evening in the office while the clothes washed, and Dad planned on giving father’s blessings to the kids, but some of Vic's family was there doing laundry, so we didn’t do what we’d planned since we didn't have the place to ourselves.

Tuesday was the first day of school and Grandma and I were alone without kids all day.  I took care of Grandma, exercised, went to a meeting, and best of all, got to SKYPE with Lily.  She is so cute!  She showed me her pretty painted toe nails and did her friendly dance for me.  She waved and beckoned for me to “come here.”  She wanted me to be there in person, and the beckoning breaks my heart!  Still, I am so grateful for Skype and for the chance to talk and laugh and play with her and visit with Cassandra.    

Tuesday was Miriam’s first day as a senior, Katrina’s first day in high school, and Thomas’s first day of taking seminary.  Thomas said he likes seminary, and I am so excited that he can take it this year.  Katrina seems to like being at the high school.  She is taking advanced Drama, of course, but wasn’t able to fit choir into her schedule.  We signed her up for the children’s choir, though.  Miriam loves her business communications class and plans to join FBLA (future Business Leaders of America). 

 Also a really sad thing happened on Tuesday, Jon lost his job.  He really doesn’t know why.  You know how conscientious Jon is.  He put everything he had into doing a great job.  But they told him he wasn’t what they needed as a manager.  They said if he had been a regular employee, everything would be fine, but since he was hired as a manager and they don’t want him as one, they let him go.  It was a real disappointment, and I have to admit that when I knelt and cried and prayed to Heavenly Father, I complained.  Talking to Cassandra helped comfort me a bit, and the more I think about it, the more I see Heavenly Father’s hand in it.  I know He is guiding Jon’s life and that he is answering his and our prayers.   Jon is moving back here, and I am so glad.  He was too far away from the love and support of his family.  We are going up Friday to help him move, and it will be so nice to see him again!  
On Tuesday evening, Kellie invited us next door to meet Chris’s parents and eat ice cream.  We had fun visiting with them and other neighbors they invited.  It was a wonderful way to end the day.  Because of the get-together, Dad was unable to give Father’s blessings, once again, and I was beginning to get nervous.  But yesterday evening, we were able to do it. First,  the kids went to YM/YW for a barbeque and to learn about train safety.  The girls had food assignments, and since Miriam had to work and Thomas had football, Katrina made the food and took it over.  Miriam got there a half hour later when she got home from work, and Thomas didn’t make it till about 7:30 after getting home from football and showering.  Dad and I ate Café Rio and watched “A Tale of Two Cities” while they were gone.  When everyone got home, we gathered in the family room, and Dad gave each child a blessing for the coming school year.  As he blessed each one of the kids, I was filled with love and gratitude.  I know the blessings will help them have the guidance and protection they will most definitely need as they are away at school and other places.

This morning, the kitchen is a huge mess because yesterday I took everything out of the pantry and it is now sitting all over the table and counters.  Today I get to organize it and get it all put back together.  It is quite involved because I am also re-vamping our three month’s supply of food.  I had Dad cut the shelves so that they are narrower and I will be able to see stuff better, but I’m a bit nervous about being able to fit it all in, so wish me luck!    

Well, now it’s Friday and the kitchen is mostly put back together.  Our diet has changed quite a bit and we don’t use the same kinds of food anymore, so  I have big baskets of food to give to Jon, Elizabeth and the food bank.  Also, sadly, I have a big basket of expired food I have to throw away.  Today Dad and I are driving up to Logan to get Jon and bring him back home.  We will be pretty squished in this house for awhile, but it will be nice to have Jon home again.  Katrina tried out for the Shakespeare team yesterday, I  hope she makes it, and today she is staying late after school for drama.  Miriam is working a ton and Thomas has a football game tomorrow night, I think. 

 Last night, I went to the Relief Society’s zucchini festival where we judged zucchini artwork, zucchini food, and zucchini stamping.  I brought zucchini pickles, and people liked them.  They also gave us a chance to write to missionaries, so I wrote to Tanner, Jared, and Justin who just entered the MTC.  It was a fun night.  Now I am going to feed Grandma yogurt.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Aug 20--Email from Matt

Hey, how are all of you?!
OK to answer any and all of the questions.... Dad, on P-day , we clean the house, sort of; buy groceries for the week; write letters; and we have a weekly meeting that we do. something always comes up though and we never have time. Last weeks were.. Changes? I think that's what they are called in English, and we got up super early and did stuff for missionaries. This week we are going to Liverpool to get little ceasers pizza. hahah! you are probably thinking that we don't work or anything like that, just know that we are doing all of that in 85-95 temperatures with 40-50% humidity, it isn't fun.  ha, favorite food... probably carne asada, although there has been lots of awesome things. 

Mom, the changes (transfers) are every 6 weeks (aka month and a half) we will be changing in 5 more weeks and that is when I will officially end my training too. This passed change I staid here in Los Mochis, the next change, I don't know. There are 17 changes in the mission. I'm not counting down, well I am but in a different way. You all might think that I've only been out for a little while but the time is passing so fast that I feel like I wont have enough. 

Another fun fact is that we really only work for about 10 months of the 2 years that we are here. how do I know? well we are here for 24 months, there are 24 hours in a day, so when you look at it we only work 10 hours of the day, so that comes out to 10 months, but even then that's not counting P-days and Sundays with church. I really like it here.

Well you all asked after my investigators so I'll tell you about them. We are going to baptize this week, for sure we are going to baptize a little 8 year old girl. Her mom might get baptized and her brother might too. As for the others, we are still teaching another man, I think I told you about him. He's in a wheel chair, cant move his left side, he is around 70 years old but he looks a lot younger. We taught him the word of wisdom but he has a lot of problems with it. He also really wants to be able to walk again, and thinks that getting baptized will heal him. It wont. He also really likes that we come and visit him. He is trying to give up smoking and drinking, I would really appreciate if you could all pray for him. We are also teaching a family. The dad isn't a member and he says it's because he hasn't gotten an answer that this church is true. We are trying to show him that he actually has gotten an answer but that maybe he just hasn't recognised it. He is really awesome, he reads in the B.o.M. and everything. He says that he wants to be baptized but he doesn't want to put a date with us because he doesn't want to feel obligated to us. Hopefully he will put that date with God. There are others but those are the ones that we are really teaching right now. 

Dad, yeah this mission is very different, like our Mission President doesn't care about if our shoes are shined because it's impossible to do that here. (I say that as an example because I remember you saying something like that before I came) 

 (To one of the kids)  I know that you are being helped by reading your scriptures and saying prayers. Sometimes we are like fish with water. Fish don't notice that they have water all around them because they live in the ocean, but without it, they would die. It's the same with blessings from God, we have so much all of the time that sometimes we don't even know that they are there, Take them away... and... it's very bad. I know that you will be blessed for reading and praying. Oh, haha, if you really want a song to think about me, you could listen to homeward bound by Motab, haha. 

 Katrina, tell me what's up in drama, what plays are you going to do? What are you going to do for your Birth Day? Miriam, what do you mean health problems? You doin' ok? What are you going to do in school? Are you taking many classes or relaxing? Thomas, How is your life going? What else have you been doing from football? It really is hitting me hard that you will be 16 when I get back, Crap, you will all be grown up! dang. 

Mom, Thanks for the E-mails, I really enjoy reading them. I feel great. it's been about 80 degrees at night here, I almost need to sleep with a sheet. I eat a lot of fruits and stuff. so don't worry about that. Dad, I had no idea that you were doing adult ed. What exactly is that? GD? How is your life going? Are YOU reading your scriptures? haha, You still high off of Disneyland?

Well that's about all of the time that I have, I was going to send pictures but something isn't working. This computer is very old, hopefully it's that... I miss you all! bye!

Aug 20--Dear Elder: End of this week's letter to Matt

Hi, Matt.  It’s Monday and time to send this letter off.  Yesterday we read your letter as a family and wrote to you in reply.  I hope you got that email.  Dad and I took cookies that Katrina made over to our new neighbors who are renting the Taggs house.  They have 3 boys and a girl, and it was nice to meet and talk to them.  We also had dinner as a family, and Renee, Becky and Donny came over for a nice visit.  Grandma seemed to enjoy eating and visiting with the family.

I talked to Jon this morning and he said he was able to get quite a few hours this week which is nice for him, but he says it will really slow down once school starts.  I hope not!

It sounds like you are doing well, and I’m really excited that 11 of your investigators attended church.  It is so nice to read about what is going on with you and the misunderstanding you had about the cake being too sweet is pretty funny.  I hope you had a chance to explain what you meant!  We keep praying that your package gets sent to you.   We also pray for your investigators and that you will find people who are searching for the truth.  Please tell us more about your investigators and how they are doing. I am so glad that you have a mission doctor and Hermana Cantu to help you with anything you need.  .  I love you, Matt.  Stay close to the Spirit, follow the mission rules, and pray always!


Saturday, August 18, 2012

Aug 18--Dear Elder Continued: Overnighter, Family News, etc.

Well, It’s actually Saturday now.  The time has really flown.  Can you believe that the kids start school the day after you’ll get this email?  Boy, does time fly.  The week is a blur.  I do know that I’ve been exercising a lot which is good.  I got a couple of chances to talk to Jonathan and Cassandra.  Jonathan is hoping for more hours with his work than they are giving him, so I’ve been praying for that.  He moved into a new apartment, and school starts up for him soon.  Cassandra found an old pacifier (binky) laying around and so when Lily got hurt, Cassandra gave it to her.  Lily quieted right down and went quietly to sleep.  They’ve been using it to get her to sleep ever since.  It’s pretty funny that a one year old would take to a binky that easily.  Lily has been eating lots of solid foods, and has been very busy. 

Dad and I went out on a date last night.  We ate at our favorite deli, walked for a nice long time, and watched “Airborne Creed” the second “Saints and Soldiers” movie which we liked.  My favorite part of the date, though was walking and talking with Dad.  I also got to go shopping with Miriam on Thursday night and Katrina during the day yesterday.  I cherish the times we have together because everyone is so busy.  Thomas and I have been like ships passing in the night this week, I guess.  I look forward to watching his game with the family.  It is in Pleasant Grove and he has to be there by six.  The game isn’t till 7:00, so I guess we’ll picnic there while we wait.  I also hope to mow today and to get Grandma out on the deck while I do it.  Dad and out neighbor, Chris, plan to fix the fence between our properties that keeps falling over.  This time Dad plans to use a cement-core fence post.  We hope that will keep it from rotting. 

Pretty exciting stuff, eh?  Oh, I am also on the PTA board which should make you laugh since I don’t think I’ve ever signed up for PTA in my life.  This year, they sent a sheet asking what we wanted to do to volunteer, and I didn’t sign up for anything, but I did write a note stating that I could help with “e” time for a half hour a day.  I figured that since I’m home all day with Grandma I could run over for that long every day.  I didn’t sign up for the PTA, and I didn’ pay any dues.  Later, I got a call to attend a meeting and next thing you know I’m sitting around a big table with a bunch of PTA ladies and a PTA binder is being passed to me.  I am now officially known as the “e” time coordinator.  So there you go.  My job is to organize and participate in tutoring reading during “e” time.  I wonder what "e" stands for.

Grandpa and Grandma are still in the state, but they are up north so we haven’t seen them since Sunday.  I hope they are having a good time.  Sarah’s family is moving Monday.  They sort of have a house lined up if the bank ok’s it, and they have some of their kids enrolled in school, so that’s all good.  Renee, Becky, and Bethany visited Grandma while Dad and I were gone, and she liked that.  I know she’ll be a happier camper when school starts up again and things slow down a bit.  She’s had lots of company from the kids, but hasn’t gotten out much.  Wellp, that’s it for now.  I’ll write more soon.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Aug 15--Dear Elder: Out with Brian, Skyping With Lily, etc.

Dear Elder,

Thank you so much for the email!  It is my goal to sit down and read it as a family and write back to you as a fam, answering all your questions.  Normally I would have us do that on Monday night, but on Monday, Dad and I went out of town for Dad’s work and stayed over at Best Western.  Dad was in classes till 3:30 on Monday and till 1:30 on Tuesday.  On Monday while Dad was in classes, I slept.  Then I woke up and went to our favorite teryaki place for lunch with Dad.  Then I did finances and slept.  It was so nice to sleep!  After 3:30 Dad and I went shopping at the outlet stores and bought Dad work clothes for the coming school year and me two shirts and a purse. 

Monday evening was the highlight of the trip because after eating dinner, we went walking.  You know the street on a hill where all the businesses are?  We parked near the top and first walked past what was left of the restaurants and shops and then up past many picturesque houses, most of them displaying ribbons for being historic.  Actually, all of them had ribbons and we began to laugh at how even the worst houses had an award for something.  We passed an old shed leaning to one side with a rotting roof and I said, “just wait, that will have a ribbon, too”, and it did!   It was so much fun to walk up the hill hand in hand with Dad.  Soon the houses stopped and we were walking on a dirt road with pine trees on either side.  We walked until it got too steep and I told Dad my heels couldn’t take the steepness so we turned around. 

Tuesday I planned to sleep till check out, but messed around instead.  After checking out, Cassandra called and wanted to Skype so I Skyped in the lobby where I could get wifi.  I probably looked pretty silly baby talking into the computer screen, but I don’t care.  I had a blast talking to Lily.  She was happy to see me and gave me a big smile and waved a lot and called me grandma.  She rode her little pony for me, did her crab dance, and clapped her hands a lot.  She now has a Pooh Bear bigger than she is, and held it and patted it on the back.  Cassandra says that Lily figured out that Emerson puts her to bed, and now in the evenings, whenever Emerson picks her up for any reason, Lily calls for Cassandra to save her.  That’s pretty funny especially since Emerson has got to be the funnest dad in the whole world.   I really can’t wait till we can Skype again.

Jon called, too.  He’s going to come home some weekend—maybe this one—and he and Dad are going to work on his car together which will be a good thing because he (Jon) has been pretty worried about it.  He keeps bugging me to send the jaw breaker that Sarah got him.  Some things never change, ha ha.  He and Thomas Skyped last night, and he is lookin’ good.

After Skyping with Cass and Lily, I went a shopping.  I bought a dress, and then when Dad and I got home, I had another dress waiting for me from UPS.  Dad ordered it on the internet a few days ago, a very scary thing to do without me trying it on, and I have been stressing out about it ever since, but it looks wonderful so now I have a little black dress, and Dad is the dress buying hero. 

  For dinner, Dad, Grandma, Katrina, Thomas, and I all ate together.  I made chicken-squash rolls.  It was yummy.  No, really.  It was. Guess you had to be thereJ  Miriam also liked them when she got home, and we all had a nice time visiting.  Later we watched some old black and white Disney cartoons as a fam and then finally went to bed.  Now it’s Wednesday and I need to go exercise.  Talk to you tomorrow, Matt.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

This Week's Email From Matt

To start off, don't give out this E-mail to anyone that isn't family, if you can give them directions on how to use DearElder to send me letters, I can't write friends w/email. 

Ok so last week on Sunday, we didn't have a single investigator at church, we were kinda down-hearted, and in the dumps but we worked as hard as we could this week and for this Sunday we had 11investigators at church! That's really a miracle, it's also important because if the investigator doesn't go to church at least 2 times, they can't be baptized and we have to drop them. so things are looking up, we still have to work our tails off but that was really a tender mercy of the lord.

Dad, We do a lot of street contacting because in Mexico, or at 

least in Los Mochis, a lot of people sit outside of their house, and if they are walking, they are almost never in a hurry. Happy Birthday! A funny experience this week was that we were eating dinner with a family and we finished and they brought out the desert and we were eating it and the dad asked me "Elder, le hace dulce la postre?" that being translated means: Hey, is the desert too sweet? I understood it as: Is the desert sweet to you? and so I replied: Sí sí hermano, muy Dulce! which means yeah, very sweet. haha! his wife got a little distraught and said that she tried to make it good but the mangos were too sweet haha!

 The town has about a quarter of a million people, and it's pretty huge, I'd send you a picture but the computer I'm using doesn't recognise my camera, next week I will. 

Katrina, I asked you a question last week, you gonna answer me? :) Thomas: That's awesome bud! Go out there and do good! On and off the feald! (how the heck do you spell feald?) Do you think you are going to keep on doing football? Mom and Dad: I will tell you what's up but there is a big chance (99%) that I won't be able to follow your advice, because 1 there is a week delay, and 2, we have a mission doctor on call to tell us what to do and, also, Hermana Cantú is literally like a mom away from home. 

For the planner, we change the planners every 6 weeks, they hold a lot of important information like where our investigators live an such, I can't randomly get a new one but I'm sure the things that you sent will help a lot. That's why I asked for a removable cover but It would be next to impossible to get one w/o measurements. Thank you for sending the package and I really hope it does get here.... I don't know if it will though. Gotta go! sorry I didn't answer everything!

Aug 6 to Aug 13--Dear Elder: Getting Home, Shopping, Family Get-Together

Dear Elder:

Hi, I at the airport on my way home, and thought I’d write a bit to you.  It is sad to be leaving Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily, but it is good to be going home.  I can’t get internet access here without paying, but I hope to get it on my lay over.  What that means is that I haven’t gotten the email that I hope you sent today yet.  Maybe I’ll call Dad and have him read it to me.  Good idea.  Hang on.  Well, he’s not homeL

Hi, Matt.  Now it’s Tuesday.  I did get a hold of Dad on my layover and he read me your email.  It was so nice to hear from you.  We plan on buying the clothes you need today.  Also, thanks for the pictures.   I looked up “Our Lady of Guadalupe and found out that she "is a celebrated Roman Catholic icon of the Virgin Mary."  So, she is Mary and the baby she is holding is Jesus.  That's what I thought.

It was really nice to get home.  Everyone seemed to like the presents I got them.  Thomas got a sucker with a grill attached to it, so when he puts the sucker in his mouth, his teeth are gold and shiny.  I got Katrina a marionette made from Mexico.  We are in the process of giving it a complete makeover.  Miriam loved the rose tissues I bought her last time, so I got her more of those and also some perfume.  I got Dad sugar free white chocolate and sugar free almond toffee.

Today Dad and I are out of town.  We stayed overnight for Dad’s birthday.  The kids, the nurse, the aide, and Becky, have all been helping to take care of Grandma.  We’ve been having lots of fun swimming and shopping and dining.  It is always so fun to be with Dad.  When we get home we are planning to work on our bedroom (you know how half of it is torn up), and clean the house.   The kids, the nurse, the aide, and Becky, have all been helping to take care of Grandma.

Well, Jonathan may have already told you this, but he got the job!  There were more than thirty other applicants, and they hired him just a couple of hours after the interview.  Another cool thing about it is that it is a managerial position.  He’ll be working in a booth or whatever that sells school t-shirts, etc.  A weird thing about it all is that he still doesn’t know how much they are paying him or what kind of hours he’ll get.  He starts Monday, and I am so happy for him!

Matt, it is now Saturday. The week has flown by.  We are sending your package today.  The baptism pants have no belt loops and they have buttons to adjust the waistband size instead.  I hope they work J.  I hemmed them to exactly a 32” inseam (length), so I hope they are right.  I got the only waterproof tie they sold.  I hope all that works for you!  Also, there is no way to buy a cover for your planner without its measurements, but I did send a clear plastic cover and some clear packing tape.  I hope that with a bit of creativity you can fashion a nice cover for your planner.  Also, you may see about just getting another one from the mission home.  I looked into ordering one for you, but it is only available to mission presidents, etc.  Good luck with it all!

This week we have done school shopping, remodeling, swimming at the water park, and taking care of Grandma.  Today Thomas has a football skirmish.  It’s not really a game, and he says it’s not one that parents go watch, so he’s going to do that and also work today.  Dad is going to drive Miriam in to work and also send off your package and work at the laundry.  Later he and the girls and I are going up north to go shopping.  Somewhere along the way, we need to mow.

Grandpa and Grandma Haws are driving up here for a visit and so we are having a big get-together tomorrow at our house so that everyone around here can visit with them and also so that we can see Sarah and James before they move.   I can’t remember if I told you that they are moving to be closer to James’s work.  Anyway, I really look forward to seeing my family tomorrow, and I’m hoping that Jonathan can come, too.  That would be so great!

Hi.  It’s Sunday morning.  Yesterday we did tons of yard work.  On Friday, I had tons of vegetables to get rid of so I put 2 ½ bell peppers, 4 tomatoes, ½ an onion, and a summer squash in the crockpot on high for a few hours.  When they were soft, I slipped their skins off and them smashed it all up and added chicken bullion.  Yesterday, Dad took the sauce I’d made, added chicken, and served it to the family over noodles.  It was delicious, and it was nice to eat together.  Life is so hectic that it’s hard to make that happen, but really important.  As a mom, it’s nice to be home where I can have my mind on those kinds of things and make sure they happen.  This time, though, it was Dad who made it happen and it was very nice.

Last night we drove the girls an hour north to shop.  I bought some $100 dollar jeans for $15, and I’m pretty stoked about it because that brand fits me so well.  Dad and I walked around enjoying the evening while the girls shopped.  Our job was to come in at the end, give the okay to the clothes they chose, and put out the money to buy them.  Dad and I also went to a book store and Dad bought a whole cool collection of books for his classroom.  They contain thirty seconds worth of information on different stuff, like one book is thirty seconds about the world’s most influential religions (they were pretty accurate about Mormonism), other books were thirty seconds about:  the most compelling scientific theories, philosophies, etc.  Dad plans on reading them.  He already knows a little bit about everything, so now he’ll know a little bit more!

It’s now late Sunday night, and I will be sending this soon.  We had a very nice get-together with all of my family.  I’m so glad they could all come.  I enjoyed seeing my parents, and it was good seeing Sarah’s family one last time before they move.   In fact, it was wonderful to see everyone! 

I love you, Matt.  Remember to follow the Holy Ghost.  He will guide you to the pure in heart who will listen to your message and turn to the Savior.  Say “Hi” to your companion for us, and stay safe.  BTW, concerning not telling me everything you are going through so that I will not freak out—I think that you should tell us.  For one thing, Dad has a gift for knowing good remedies to medical problems and can probably give you some great suggestions for any troubles you may have.  For another thing, we can pray for you better when we know the specifics of what to pray for.  Third, I won’t freak out J  Well, bye, Matt.  I can’t wait to hear from you soon!


Email from Matt From Last Week--Comments for the Fam, Requests for Stuff, Comments on the Picts

Hey, well if you want to you can post the address to the mission offices on there (Face book). As for pictures.... No, I don't think so. the same for the letters. If someone wants to talk to me they can write a letter. Anyway, I'm tempted to end right there because that's all of the questions you asked. ;) I will continue to write though.

To start off, Dad, My companion heard that Walt Disney was a Mormon, is there any truth to that? How are you all? Miriam, did the wedding give you any ideas for yours? Will you wait till I get home so I can be at your wedding? Are you all jealous that mom got to see Lily and you didn't? What's happening in Spanish Fork? School's starting again isn't it? Thomas, What the Heavens is a free safety? I'm super glad that you like it. Mom, I don't really tell you all about how I'm physically doing because I don't want you (mom) to freak out. (no nothing is wrong, I haven't been sick, yes I'm eating healthy, We get a TON of exercise, and just pretend that I answered your questions correctly) Katrina, That's cool, the whole nothing going on thing ha-ha, I hope that school is great for you and you will have to tell me about it! Hey what's that book called about those kids... and they do magic. ok that was super specific, like one girl has living metal on her hand, another works with earthquakes another with sewing and a little boy that I don't remember. Dad, yeah that would take a long time. I was actually talking to my companion about our trip to Nauvoo, and your strange fascination with a tree ;) We don't talk about Joseph Smith a ton, we do teach about him and tell about the first vision but it's not every lesson.

That reminds me, I need some stuff.... I need white pants, a white tie, and a white belt. The pants... let's say 36 inches wide by 32 long, easy to clean and basically bulletproof (not pure wool) the tie needs to be a tie, it would be cool if it looked cool but it doesn't really matter. The belt... this is a little tricky, I want a bet that can go down to 32. I know that it is going to be expensive to send that and I'm really sorry but I forgot about cloths for baptism. also if you could send... this is hard to explain too. one of the pictures that I'm sending you is of my missionary planner. If you could send like a cover sort of thing, something that I could place over it and then remove and put on a new planner that would be absolutely wonderful, but not necessary if you can't send it. If you can send the package, you would send it to the address that I already gave you and you would have to use Fed Ex or UPS or something other than the Mexican mail system, it isn't super reliable, if you would rather I could try to find some pants but it would be pretty darn hard because we could only go on a Monday and I don't even know where we would go, but we could. anyway enough about that.

This week has been hard, we have been working hard but we have also been dropping a lot of investigators, we haven’t actually baptized someone in this change, which is ok because we opened the area but it's been pretty hard. I'm used to the walking all day and to be honest, it isn't that bad. the hard part is watching people make the choices that just aren’t good. Thanks mom for talking about freedom of will, yeah we always have to remember that.

 The picture of the statue that I sent you is of... Saint Guadalupe, Don't look for her in the bible, you wont find her. here in Mexico she is the mother of God, and I think the child that she's holding is supposed to be God. I really don't know what more to talk about, it would really help me to have some more questions to be able to have ideas to write about.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August 5--Dear Elder Continued: Visiting Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily; Agency, Charity, and Hope; Sally's Birthday, Jon's Interview

Today is Sunday.  Thursday night, Emerson brought home pizza, and we all had a fun time watching a movie.  On Friday Cassandra and I walked through the rose gardens with Lily.  It was so beautiful!  We also went to a candy store, but mostly we stayed home and I played with Lily.  I babysat her Friday night so that Cassandra and Emerson could go on a date.  We had lots of fun eating pizza and playing around.  Saturday, Lily woke up on the wrong side of the crib, as Emerson observed, and was a bit grumpy most of the morning.  We all went out to eat for brunch and it was delicious, but Lily hated it.  She did better once we got home and, once again, I got to play with her lots.  I also got to visit with Cassandra and Emerson quite a bit.  They are sure fun to be around!

 It seems like Lily sometimes sits a bit longer for stories than when I first came, especially when she’s tired.  I remember having to train you guys to like being read to by reading just a tiny bit each time.  Lily also loves to hold the book and “read” you her own story.  It’s amazing that at the age of one, she likes books and understands what they are for.  Saturday night we went shopping at the Mercado and bought dinner there.  I had gorditas bistek and agua fresca pina.  It was so delicious!  Cassandra and I had fun talking till late-ish.  I look forward to going to their ward today and meeting their ward family.
I love you, Matt.  I am so proud of you for faithfully serving the Lord and his children.  Your being on a mission is such a joy to me and the family.  I also know that it can sometimes be discouraging when people choose other paths than the one that leads back to our Heavenly Father.  I woke up in the night last night and had a bit of a hard time getting to sleep, so I read some scriptures.  Everything I read seemed to be about agency—our freedom to choose.  I read these verses in the D&C about agency.

   “Behold, I gave unto him (Adam) that he should be an agent unto himself and I gave unto him commandment…And it came to pass that Adam, being tempted of the devil—for behold, the devil was before Adam, for he rebelled against me saying , Give me thine honor, which is my power; and also a third part of the hosts of heaven turned he away from me because of their agency.  And it must needs be that the devil should tempt the children of men, or they could not be agents unto themselves; for if they never should have bitter they could not know the sweet.”  D&C 29:35-39  

Our freedom to act and choose is so important to our Heavenly Father that he allowed one third of his children to follow Satan in rebellion and be cast out.  This life is a test to see how we will use our agency.  I know that you know all this, Matt, but reading it makes me re-commit to use my agency wisely, and to also accept when others don’t use their agency wisely.  Still, when they don’t, it makes us deeply sorrowful.  If it didn’t, we would be without love, and if we didn’t pray for them with all our souls, we would be without hope,

  Matt, never stifle the pure love of Christ in order to avoid sorrow, “if ye have not charity ye are nothing, for charity never faileth,”(Moroni 7:46)  and never give up hope, “If ye have no hope, ye must needs be in despair; and despair cometh of iniquity(Moroni 10:22).  I love Alma’s prayer for the wicked Zoramites in Alma 31 where he prays fervently that they will be brought to Christ and he also prays for strength to bear the sorrow that will come to him because of their iniquities and to be comforted in Christ.  With Christ, we have comfort even in sorrow and hope even in disappointment.

Anyway, I hear that all is going well at home.  Dad and the kids are faithfully taking care of Grandma.  It is Grandma's birthday today.  She is now 85 years old.  They have a party planned for tonight, but Renee is sick and Alice and Earl can't make it, so that leaves Becky to come over, I think.  She is so wonderful with Grandma, and I know that seeing her will help Grandma have a happy birthday.  

I've hear a bit from Jon, and so has Cassandra.  He is interviewing for a job on Monday and is happy about that.   That's another nice thing about being here--Jon calls Cassandra often and it's nice to be here when he does.  He says he got the packages we sent him with stuff from Disneyland, so that's good.  I hope he's having a good Sunday!

Friday, August 3, 2012

Aug 3--Dear Elder Continued: Having Fun in Lilyland

It’s Thursday now and I am babysitting Lily while Cassandra visits a friend.  We are both getting very sleepy.  Yesterday was a nice day.  We did some house chores and then went to the grocery store.  For dinner, Emerson stood in a very long line at Chick-Fil-A and ordered food for us and then we joined him to eat it. 
Well, it’s Friday, now.  I didn’t write much on Thursday, did I?  It was a nice day.  Cassandra, Lily, and I went to Walmart because I wanted to buy Lily a little squirty fan to keep her cool when we go to the zoo on Saturday for her birthday present.  I did find a little mister that will work perfectly, and I also bought her a soft dolly.  We had pizza for dinner and watched a movie.  It was such a fun day!  Now Lily is awake and I’ve got to go get her up before her mommy does it!  

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

August 1--Dear Elder Continued

Now today is Wednesday, and I am at Cassandra’s!  I slept for more than 12 hours, and feel rested and happy.  Cassandra and Lily are still asleep.  Emerson woke up and got himself off to work.  I heard him, but mostly slept through it.  I hope he’s not too tired at work today!

Lily woke up and I got to play with her so that Mommy could sleep.  I got to snuggle her while she drank her bottle and then we played and played.  She showed me all her toys and played with Tigger and her bib some more.  She enjoyed playing with my phone and called Miriam at work.  I had to turn it off after that.  She had fun running around because I hear she didn’t get to do that much in Alaska, so she was in Lily heaven. It was very fun.  Now she’s in bed for a nap.  

June 31--Dear Elder: Flying to Lily

Dear Elder,

Hi.  Thanks so much for yesterday’s letter and photos, we loved them!  It was so nice to hear about where you are living, the people you are serving, and the experiences you are having.  I saw a couple of those tiendas you described when we toured the small village of Yelapa last year.  I’d be looking at a house and suddenly realize, hey, that’s a little restaurant or store or whatever it was.  I found it all very interesting.  In Yelapa there were sometimes bars on the window, but rarely any glass.  Is that how it is in Los Mochis?  I enjoyed reading about the people.  It must be so hard for the families of Mexico to not have jobs they can count on for more than a week or month.  We know how busy you are and really appreciate you taking the time to write and tell us all about things.  

I am sitting in the airport waiting to board a flight to visit Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.  It is almost 6:00 am.  I was supposed to get up at 3:30 am, but I couldn’t sleep after 1:30.  Have you ever been so stressed about needing to sleep that you couldn’t sleep?  That’s how it was with me.  Anyway, yesterday got off to a slow start because I didn’t get done with my computer “chores” till after noon, but I did get everything done which was good.  Dad worked fixing the chimneys at the laundry so that they won’t fall down.  If it wasn’t for him, the whole place would collapse around our ears, ha ha.  Neither Katrina nor Thomas worked yesterday, so they helped me lots and also wasted lots of time.  Miriam did work, of course.  We all were home in the evening for dinner (home made pizza) and family home evening where we read out loud your email from yesterday and passed around the pictures you posted.  We also read a talk from general conference by Elder Ballard about the importance of families.  It’s the third time I’ve read it in a week.  I’m glad the whole family could read it together.

Later...It was so fun to ride home from the airport next to Lily.  She is so cute!  At first, she hid her face from me in the side of her car seat and peaked out shyly.  She’s been with loud, happy, adoring fans all week, and was pretty warn out.  I just smiled and talked softly, and soon we were smiling and talking to each other like old friends.  I had so much fun showing her the little Tigger we bought her to go with her beloved Pooh Bear and Piglet.  She liked Tigger very much and sat and talked and jabbered to him.  She also liked the bib that Jonathan brought her from Canada.  I showed it to her and she grabbed it and enjoyed eating it’s packaging for quite awhile.