Thursday, February 28, 2013

Feb 25--Dear Elder: Blessings

Hi, Matt.  I am getting ready to send this letter off.  The week has been crazy with installers coming in and out, but now all the cabinets are in except the damaged ones.  I did not do very well when I got back from Cassandra's.  For one thing, I didn't sleep the entire night before, and then got to bed at 2:00 am the day I got home.  Thursday, stress from remodeling and worry about the family kept me up most of the night.    I did a lot of praying and pondering on the life and atonement of Jesus Christ which brought me some relief, but no sleep.

Friday, I woke up an entire mess, but Heavenly Father came to my rescue and answered my prayers by sending what started out as a big trial and ended up being a lesson and a comfort crafted perfectly for me. Friday morning, Thomas missed the bus to go to a festival for jazz band.  That was partly his fault and partly my fault, but anyway, I decided to leave behind the load of things I needed to do and drive him to the festival which was 40 minutes away.  When I picked him up from school, he begged to go home, but my mind was made up and I insisted that he go.  He was really mad at me because it was 8:15, and they were supposed to perform at 9:00 and he didn't figure he'd make it.  Long story short, with lots of prayer and guidance from the Holy Ghost, we made it through a snow storm, icy and slippery roads, and a major traffic jam to a place I'd never been, without a cell phone or clear directions, all in time for Thomas to not only perform, but to warm up a bit beforehand.

I'm not very bright sometimes, especially when I am sleep deficit and stressed, but as I neared the school, the thought came to me, "You know, you could go in and watch the performance."  Duh.  I know it was the Holy Ghost helping me.  So, guess what?  Thomas played the main part of an entire song!  He was up front at the microphone playing the whole time while the rest of the band accompanied.  Then he has two little solos in another song.  That's two out of three songs, and he didn't want to go!  Well, he thought we couldn't make it, and it really was a miracle.  I felt the Holy Ghost so strongly telling me to go.  As I left the auditorium, I looked up, and there on the wall in big letters were the words, "What Lies Behind Us and What Lies Before Us are Tiny Matters Compared to What Lies Within Us."  I've looked up the quote since, an no one is sure who said it, but I know on that day, at that moment, God said it, and He said it just to me.

What was inside of me changed entirely.  I drove home full of gratitude without a thought about my previous worries.  Back at home, I gave little thought to my previous set-backs and got to work.  Arranging the new cupboards, which had given me so much stress before, worked out beautifully, and the experience with Thomas helped me to understand what small course corrections to take in my parenting now that will greatly strengthen the family in the future.

Matt, I know that Heavenly Father loves you even more than I do and that He will help you every step of the way.  Put your trust in Him and He will direct your paths!  Have a wonderful week.


Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Feb 19--Dear Elder: Coming Home

Dear Matt,
Now I am on my way back home.  Leaving Casandra, Emerson, and Lily was harder than it has ever been.  The nice shuttle driver tried to talk to me as we made our way out of Tyler and I had to choke back the tears and answer in a rational manner.  I am so glad that we will be seeing them again in the summer.

When I got to the airport, I had three hours till my departure, so Grandpa and Grandma Haws came to visit with me while I waited.  It was really nice to visit with them!  I know I got to see them Friday at the wedding and that I will see them next month at Celeste’s wedding, but it was nice to visit with them one on one.  When is the last time I have been able to do that?

It will be good to get back home even though it is still all torn up in the kitchen.  I miss Dad and the kids, and I’m excited to give them the souvenirs I bought for them.  It’s hard to by for Thomas, and now that Dad doesn’t eat junk, its hard to buy for him, too, but I think I got some good stuff.  I bought Thomas a mini etch a sketch.  I know I know, but etch-a-sketches are pretty darn fun.

On the way to Cassandem's I bought a sandwich at the airport that cost me $10, so I made sure to bring a sandwich from Cassandra’s house for the way back, ha ha.  I wonder if anyone else in the world besides me eats cheese and mustard sandwiches.  At Cassandra’s, I introduced Lily to the joys of yogurt and we ate it together just about every day.  We also enjoyed playing with the monkey puppet I brought from home.  It’s the puppet I would use to entertain her on Skype, so she recognized it right away and had fun playing with it.  I am taking it back home with me so that we will have that connection when we Skype.

Dad said the new cabinets are really nice, and I can’t wait to see them.  They won’t all be in for quite awhile since they have to remake three of them; two because they arrived damaged and one because they measured wrong.  None of that should cost us any money.  It is going to be quite a job getting the house all put back together.  I also need to squeeze in three more days of substitute teaching this month or they kick me off the list.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Hi, Matt.  Today is Monday and I just read your letter.  It was the highlight of my day, and that's saying a lot since I have been spending the day with Lily, ha ha.  That's really cool that you are in Cabo San Lucas now!  I know what you mean about us only seeing the "pretty" places.  I would have loved to see the real Cabo, but we were told it's not safe, so we didn't dare.

I really liked what you said about the things you learned in seminary and your experience with the elderly woman.  I totally agree--we can usually do anything that we really want to do, and the reason for failure in most things is that we really didn't want to do them.  Thanks for sharing that insight--I can really use it in my life!

Today Cassandra, Lily, and I went shopping.  I bought souvenirs for the family and Cassandra grocery shopped.  Lily and I also took a nice long nap which was good since, as you know, I don't get much sleep at night.  In the afternoon Cassandra's friend, Beth came over.  She and her husband and baby are in the process of moving and she and the baby needed a place to sleep for a couple of nights.  It's been nice to see Beth again and get reacquainted.  Emerson got home not long after that and we all had a nice meal and an after dinner walk.  Now Lily and Lincoln, Beth's baby are in bed.

Back at home, the installers are putting in the cabinets.  They've had a few glitches, but nothing earth-shattering.  It's sad to think I have to leave tomorrow, but then again, I need to get home.  It's been such a wonderful vacation, and as always, Cassandra and Emerson have been wonderful hosts.

Feb 18--Letter from Matt--Yay!

Mom, Wow, you sure did respond to that last letter I wrote ha ha! It was just an in-sight but I did appreciate your long letter. Ok, about the ''Almost got abducted'' Thing... well, don't worry about it. I would write about it but it would take way too long and it isn't very exciting, and nothing dangerous happened. That's great that you got to go to the temple! I wish I could go there too. There are so much things to learn there. (D+C 76:1-10) Turns out that he wasn't just talking about enjoying life more (my mission president) He meant that I wasn't magnifying my calling enough, which, really, is enjoying the mission, I'll write about my week later on in the letter. and BT dubbs, I got my 2 Birthday packages!!! Yay!!! ha ha, thank you!

Miriam, It is nice to hear about your week and that you had to force feed the family this week. I'm sorry that you all have to eat out! :P What is Nicklemania? Is it nicklecade? or is it better? I can think of no better way to spend Valentine's day than playing video games ha ha. How is school? How's that kid that you always hang out with? Don't get married until I get back and I hope that you are doing well too!

Katrina: How old are you? I thought you were like 15 years old........... oops. Well that's too bad that you haven't been able to go on a date for Valentine's day! :P What did you play for the dinner?! That's really cool that you can preform in front of people on the piano.

Thomas, What did you do stand-up about? did you record it? This next quote is a quote from your letter that you wrote me last week, I didn't understand what you meant: ''Haha we did the next thing yesterday too, it was pretty fun.'' What next thing...?

Dad, Well... That sounds pretty bad, especially about Vic. Is he going to be ok? How are the cabinets coming along? Write more about your week and then just take out the ''blaaaa's'' ha ha :)

Ok, to answer some questions... First off, I got changed from my other area, I am now in..........(drum roll please Thomas....).............. Cabo San Lucas!!!! That's right ladies and gentlemen, Cabo San Lucas that beautiful little town where mom and dad spent a few days one time!!! you only saw the ''pretty'' part of town, you didn't get to see the ram shackle houses and the unpaved street with half way done construction. I am now with Elder Rodriguez, Mom, was my other companion serious? well... you could say that. We just seemed to disagree in a lot of things.

What are some things that I did last week? Well I was in seminary for most of the time but I got to work over there in Culiacan with Elder Valencia, we got to put in practice a lot of things that we learned in seminary.
One of the most important things that I learned because of seminary was that if we don't want to do something we don't do it. There are few times that we cannot do something if we do not want to do it. For example... We had just walked out of the chapel and on to the street when we saw an older woman walking down the sidewalk with grocery bags in both hands, I offered to help her and she thanked me and gave one bag to me and another to my companion. We walked to her house and we introduced ourselves and started talking about religion. I had in my mind the idea that we were going to apply everything that we had learned in seminary with this woman and that something awesome was going to happen, what really happened was that my companion dropped his bag off, I did too, and he said good bye and that it was a pleasure to meet her, and he left, I followed him. As we were walking away, in my mind I was thinking about why my expectations hadn't been fulfilled, why something miraculous hadn't happened. I thought about the fact that we needed to get on a bus to go to the area where we were going to work, I thought about how she was catholic and it wasn't very likely that she was going to listen to us; as all of these things were running through my mind, a strong impression fell upon me. The words: ''You didn't do it because you didn't WANT to,'' entered into my mind. In that moment, I knew that I could do anything that I wanted to do for the Lord. There isn't a thing that he has prepared for me to do that I cant do if I want to do it. I learned a lot of other very important things that I am going to use to improve my time here as a missionary but that is the key to every thing. A strong desire to carry out the Lord's will. With that, everything else falls into place.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Dear Elder: Letters from Other Family Members


This week we have been re-doing the kitchen so all the kitchen stuff is in the living room. We’ve had to eat out every night! It’s a little tiring. I haven’t been up to much this week! Valentine’s day was on Thursday. Me, Dad, Thomas, Katrina and Preston all went to Nickelmania. It was a lot of fun! Mom has been at Cassandra's this week so I’ve been making sure that everthing’s clean and that everyone gets dinner haha. How has your week been? I hope everything’s going well for you!


Dear Elder,

Mom’s been gone, so we’ve had to manage on our own.  Tomorrow is President’s Day and there’s no school.  That’s good.  I didn’t do anything for Valentine’s Day; I just stayed home.  My friends and I were thinking of going on a date, but it didn’t work out.  There was a Valentine’s dinner for the couples in the ward put on by the young men and young women.  I played piano for it.  Thomas did stand-up comedy and a lot of people thought it was really funny.  How are you doing?  Has anything exciting happened?  I heard there was a lot of spiders hanging from the power lines in Mexico.  Did it happen where you are?



Dear Matt,

So on Wednesday the young women set up a valentine dinner for all of their parents and they said that they would have a talent show performed by all of the kids and they asked me to do some stand up comedy, it went pretty well. Two days ago I went to my friends house and we Melted some gummy bears and while we were waiting for the gummy bears to harden we played this game where we bounce a bouncy ball into a cup and if we make it the other person chug a glass of water, it doesn’t sound so bad, but after like 5 cups of water you have to have a throw up bowl, haha I was the worst at the game so I had to drink 7 cups of water, finally the gummy bears were hard enough to eat but we didn’t eat them we went outside and started playing ball tag and launching the gummy bear at each other with a water balloon launcher. Haha we did the next thing yesterday too, it was pretty fun anyways that’s pretty much all that I have done this week, anyways what have you been up to?


Dear Son,
I’m sick, blaaaa.  I hate being sick.  And mom’s gone to Lilyland, so blah.  Also Vic had blood clots in his lungs so I have had to look after the laundry.  I would tell you more about my life but it mostly just be me writing blaaa a whole bunch.  But what about you?  So you went to Culiacan? And were in a seminary class for 4 days?  Tell me about that, what was that all about?  So Jon and Mir and Kat and Thomas and I all just had bbq pork roast that I made by crock potting it overnight.  It was good.  The guys are coming tomorrow to start working on the installing the kitchen cabinets.  It will be nice to get it going.  Well I love you and hope that things are going well with Carman and Llennin.

Love, Dad

Dear Elder--Beginning and Ending of my Letter to Matt Plus Pictures

A very happy couple

Emerson and Cassandra

I'd post more, but family members have asked me not to post their kids on my public blog.  I sent more to Matt.

Dear Elder,
Hi!  How are you?  Thank you so much for the letter last week.  I’m glad that your mission president told you to enjoy life more, and I hope that you are taking his advice.  I wonder if you have a very serious companion.  That isn’t a bad thing, but a bit of fun or humor can go a long way in making life bearable.  I am so sorry that my letters have been getting shorter.  I have noticed that, too, ha ha.  Sometimes I wonder if the boring details of life are worth writing, but I tried to do better this week, so I hope you enjoy the length of your letter.  So…according to your companion, you almost got abducted.  What happened?  Sounds pretty exciting.  I’m glad it was only “almost” ha ha.  Tell us all the little stories of what happens day to day.  We enjoy hearing the details of your life.  I wrote your letter in installments, so here they are.

(Blog note:  I already posted the installments)

We tried taking Lily to the park after church, lunch, and naps so that she could run around on the grass, but it was very windy and she couldn’t stop coughing so we left.  We took a drive to Emerson’s work to look at the refinery and he told us a lot about what happens there and what his job is.  It was very interesting.   When we got back home, Emerson made dinner and after Lily went to bed we had fun doing a puzzle while Cassandra asked us movie trivia questions and then we just talked.  I think I put together a total of three puzzle pieces, ha ha.  Now Cassandra and Emerson are doing the puzzle while I finish up my letter to you.  

Thank you for the pictures, they were great.  I will be sending you some pictures, too, of the wedding and stuff.  I hope you like them.  Have a wonderful week.  I love you so much!

Pictures From Matt

I can't believe I didn't post any of the pictures Matt sent with his last email.  Here they are.

This would be... a picture... Yes a picture for you all to enjoy and savor... Yes a wonderful picture of handsome missionaries and Elder Matt too, but don't worry, Elder Matt doesn't take away too much from the picture, only a little bit... just a little bit... not that much, I promise. Oh, and by the way, I think we almost got abducted this week, or that's what my companion says anyway... I don't know if I should believe him or not.

I really do eat healthy... I promise.

This is what happens every day.... I stopped shining my shoes for a long time.
The picture is a comparison of 1 day. I only used the dirty shoe for one day... one day.

Dear Matt--Sunday's Installment

Dear Matt,

Hi.  Today is Sunday and we went to a big regional conference broadcast for church today.  President Eyring, counselor to the prophet, and Elder Scott of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles spoke along with a member of the Seventy and a counselor in the primary.  They all did a wonderful job and I left with a resolve to do better to make living the gospel my highest priority.

Friday night after the reception, we stayed over at a hotel.  When we got there we found out that they didn’t have a bed for Lily.  Cassandra and Emerson were not happy because they’d been assured twice over the phone that the hotel would have a pack and play for her.  They told the hotel people to go buy one, which they did, but they didn’t get back with it till pretty late.  I had Lily in my room and she made a heroic effort to be happy for a very long time.  We read stories, ate snacks, etc.  In the end, it was just too hard so we got Mommy and Daddy in the next room and she cried and cried till her bed came.  She did a pretty good job in the night, too.  She woke up three times, but fell right back asleep as soon as Grandma found and returned her binky to her mouth each time.

In the morning I let her take a very long bath which she absolutely loved.  Then we went down to breakfast and had lots of fun eating lots of good food.  After that we went on a walk and saw a dog, some airplanes in the air and flowers on the ground, and many many birds.  It was fun spending so much time together just Lily and me.  Back at home, we all went on a walk which ended rather quickly because it was cold and Lily was coughing a lot.  Then Emerson and Cassandra went to the adult session of conference while I stayed home with Lily who was in bed for the night.  When they got home, we stayed up till midnight talking it was a nice day.

Dear Matt--Saturday's installment

Hi.  Today is Saturday and I am having a wonderful time visiting Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.

I got in Tuesday evening and caught a shuttle to their house.  Wednesday was such a wonderful day.  I got reacquainted with Lily and had lots of fun visiting with Cassandra.  We shopped at Walmart and then we helped Lily make a valentine for her Daddy.  After that, we met Emerson for lunch and gave him the valentine.  In the afternoon I watched Lily while Cassandra did an errand.  We had so much fun!  After Lily went to bed for the night, we watched a movie and Papa Johns pizza.  It was great!

Yesterday was such an awesome day.  We got up early, dressed in our Sunday best, and drove to the temple.  We left Lily in the temple waiting room with the cousins and went in to the temple for Jessica’s wedding.  At first, Lily had a hard time, but we got her settled in and happy before we went in.  Also before we went in, Lily got to meet her Great Grandpa Haws for the first time.  The wedding was so beautiful, and I cried with happiness remembering Cassandra and Emerson’s beautiful temple wedding, and anticipating the time when Dad and I would return to see your wedding and those of your siblings.  I have heard other locations called the happiest place on earth, but only those who have been to Holy Temple know where the happiest place in this world really is, and that is because the temple is the closest place to heaven on this earth, truly the house of the Lord!

It was a very cold day, so pictures were a bit miserable, but then Lily and I went to Sarah and James’s church building which they had reserved for most of the day.  Cassandra and Emerson took off to enjoy a valentine’s date while Lily and I ate pizza and Lily got to run around and play.  She especially loved playing with Sarah's daughter, Rachael which was really cute to watch.  I think Lily’s great grandparents had fun watching Lily run around, too, along with Rick, Elizabeth, and Julie who met her for the first time yesterday.  I had a very precious time visiting with every body and hearing them say how cute and sweet Lily is, which of course I already knew.  It was almost a family reunion except that we missed Tom very much.  Sarabeth came, though, and did a very good job representing her family.  Celeste came, too, and I am so excited to go to next month and meet her fiancĂ© and see her get married for time and all eternity, too.

Later at Sarah’s house, Lily took a quick nap, and I helped Sarah out a bit.  The reception was right there at her very beautiful house.  It is huge and stylish and has a functional as well as gorgeous floor plan.  When she wasn’t sleeping, Lily’s favorite thing to do was to crawl up and down the stairs with me right beside her, of course.  I tried to let her go and do whatever she wanted but had to draw the line at letting her go down the stairs head-first.  Cassandra and Emerson came back at 7:00 for the wedding and Lily was very happy to see them.  We all ate lots of very good food like shrimp cocktail and chocolate covered strawberries, and laughed and visited.  My Uncle Milt and Aunt Sherry, who live close by, came to the reception along with their daughter Tammy and their granddaughter, Ava.  It was so wonderful to see them after all of these years!  I thought it was a perfect evening.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Dear Elder--Memory Lane

Matt says my letters are getting shorter and shorter, so I will be posting some installments of a letter to him so that he will get more mail.

Dear Matt,

Last night we went through everyone's school papers and put the "keepers" in a binder for each person.  I got to sort through your papers.  Remember when we'd sit on the bed after lunch and I'd have you tell me about your life and write it in your journal for you?  Remember the learning pages I'd make for you?  A page of numbers, and you'd have to circle all the "5's," or simple pictures and you'd circle the ones that started with "B," etc?  You'd work on the page while I wrote in my own journal.  We'd also read "picture scriptures" and other stories.  Of course, we'd have a nice nap, too.  That was totally my very favorite part of the day.  When I look back on old times, that is what I miss.  I saved the journal pages even if they are written in my awful handwriting.  I hope you have fun reading them when you come home.  I also saved pictures you drew, poems and stories you wrote, and letters people like Dad and Grandpa wrote to you.  It was so fun to see your old stuff!  Jon was there going through his old stuff, too, and it was very fun, even if I did get to bed after 1 am, ha ha.  I think I got 4 hours of sleep.

Today I leave to visit Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.  Hooray!  I am only taking a carry-on, but I managed to pack a dress for Lily that Miriam, Katrina, and I bought for her, and Cassandra's baby book.  You can tell she was the first child--she was the only kid who got a baby book!  I will be leaving at 9:00 am.  Elizabeth will taking me to the airport which is very nice of her.  I will have traveled more that twelve hours by the time I finally get to Cassandras.  Crazy!  I can't wait to see them.  I also get to see Grandpa and Grandma, Sarah's whole family, and Rick and Elizabet1h and babysit Lily at the same time.  I also get to see Jessica and Henry married in the temple for time and eternity.  It doesn't get any better than all that.  Grandpa will be meeting Lily for the first time.  Yay

Dad is so sweet to take care of things here while I am gone.  Last night he brought home early Valentine's treats for everyone.  He got me chocolate covered cocoa beans.  So good!  I think I ate six before bed, ha ha.  I put them in my bag to eat on the trip.  He is so sweet.  It is so sad that we will be apart on Valentine's Day.

Feb 11--Email From Matt

Hey, This week I'm not going to delete the letter... haha.

Thomas, That is a good letter, thank-you for writing it. It was cool to hear about what you have been doing and that Katrina was helping you. I hope that you are feeling better. I hope that you are here to get this letter when I send it. haha. Do I ''down-size'' the things that happen to me here? haha.... about that... I have a question for you. If I were to ''down-size'' the bad things that happen to me, would I tell you? Don't worry, I write what really happens to me in my journal. You can read that when I get home, and don't worry, I don't really down-size. That much.

Miriam, Words of wisdom, when things start to go wrong, we need to look to see what we can do to fix it, not wait until it develops into a problem. You Should see the washers they have here, they would probably survive a nuclear blast. They are very old beasts. I'm glad that you were able to help Preston. haha. :) I'm doing very well, I'll write more about my week later on in the letter.

Katrina, In these times is when we can really rely on the Lord, he is always there to help us with our burdens that we have. I suggest that you dedicate a little bit of time to learn about Church history. You will learn so many things that you didn't know. Now days you can find all of the church history books on-line. haha :) I wish I could hear you sing.

Mom, I commented this to my companion, I've noticed that the amount of things you write me have decreased a lot. :) When I first left the house, it was a long letter every day describing your day and what was happening, later, it was a letter separated and it was short snap-shots of the days in the week, then it faded into one letter about your week, now it's a letter that's included in the family letter.... I'm sure that this trend will continue until I don't hear anything about you at all haha! :) I'm doing great, don't worry, I have everything I need, and I am buying the things that I need.

Dad, Brad Wilcox is a great guy. He was the president in an EFY that we went to once. You aren't having a very good week are you?

This week our mission president wrote me and told me that I need to enjoy the ride more, and savor the time that I have as a missionary. Hey I'm just going to apologize right now if a Spanish word slips into this letter. We taught a lot this week. He's right, I do need to enjoy my time more, some days are very long here, but the long days always have a good high-light. I am seeing more and more that I am learning things here that I wouldn't have learned staying home. I am very glad that I am here, and I thank the Lord for the time that he has given me to preach his Gospel.

This week I'm going to be in Culiacán, in a seminary class. It's gonna last 4 days and I'll be back in La Paz Saturday.
We are teaching Carmen and Lennin Lennin is Carmen's son, they are great people, They haven't gone to church but I know that this next week they are going to go!!! haha, Other than that there are various people that we are teaching but not as much as them.
I love you all!!!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Feb 11--Letters To Matt

Hey Matt,
So mom told me to write to you and I replied with “What, do you want to me to tell him about all of the TV shows that I have watched?” I said that because I have been sick for the past two weeks with a slight cough and still going to school but this past week the cough got a lot worse, on Monday I missed early morning seminary on Tuesday I missed all morning of school and on Wednesday I was able to make it to my first period but on Thursday I just did not want to go to school, so I didn’t.  I was lucky cus Miriam didn’t go to school either, me and Miriam were sick all weekend and stayed downstairs the whole weekend too, Katrina was super nice and helpful the whole entire time and we thanked her a lot. So when mom told me to write you a letter that is why I said what I did and mom told me to do it. But I decided not to. I was watching "the other side of heaven" and you know the part where they almost starve to death? Well apparently the elder only told his mom that he had a slight problem with the food, is that what kind of stuff that you are doing to us? Are you actually getting mugged every day by Mexicans? I hope not, even though that would make a good missionary story.

Like Thomas said, he and I have been sick since about Thursday. It’s no big deal, just a cough. We just didn’t take it easy when we should have been. Preston and I were able to hang out on Saturday night though, which was a lot of fun. Tomorrow, I’m going to wash hut with Preston and his mom to help them do laundry. I found out that their washing machine has been broken, so dad is going to have his friend fix it and then have me and Preston work to pay for it. That’s about all with my life! How are things going for you?

Dear Elder,
Well, life right now is…stressful and that’s about it.  School’s harder than I’m used to.  It’s nothing though.  I haven’t been sick this week at least.  In Children’s Choir, we’ve been singing about how the golden plates were found.  We’ve been talking a lot about it.  I don’t really know as much about Church History as I do about other things, so it’s good to learn.  You’ve been out almost a year.  Is it strange to think of home now?  I hope that you can send a letter to us this time.

Dear Elder,
Hi!  How are you?  I’m so sorry that your letter got deleted last week.  That is so frustrating!  I hope you can tell us some of it this week.  Who are you teaching these days?  How is your companion?  Have you had any chances to give service?  What is life in Mexico like these days?  Do you need anything?  I hope you are buying the things you need and not just making do.

We are all hanging in there.  Thomas was home sick 2 ½ days last week and will be staying home again tomorrow (Monday).  Miriam also stayed home for 2 days, but will be able to go back to school tomorrow.  I hope Thomas will be able to make up all the work he’s missing.  They have had coughs and fevers.

The house is all torn up this week, but the tile is in and looks wonderful.  The cabinets will be in this coming week, and then will come the counter tops and carpet in the middle of next week.  We are very tired of having figure out where to buy dinner every night, but we have quite a few more of these type of dinners left.  Luckily, we got a refund because they didn’t have to use the under flooring we bought.  It’s a pretty hefty refund and will more than pay for all the eating out we have to do.

Wednesday I am leaving for Jessica’s wedding.  I’m so excited!  I get to watch Lily all day Friday after the wedding and before the reception.  Then I get to visit the Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily till the next Tuesday.  It will be so great!  I hope Lily survives the long day Friday, though, and doesn’t hate the sight of me after it all since I will be the babysitter.

This weekend, Dad and I went to a couple’s retreat.  It was fun, and we saw a moose when we were taking a walk.  Today (Sunday) I went to a ward conference and taught the young women of the ward.  I had them discuss things in a group and then teach what they learned.  They did a wonderful job!

I also substituted twice this last week.  I have to sub 3 more times this month or they will fire me.  It’s kind of stressful to have that hanging over my head.  I am really tired of subbing because it’s impossible to have a routine when I work irregularly.  I applied for 2 part time jobs in the schools last week, but haven’t heard back on them.  You pretty much have to know people at the school in order to be hired, and they weren’t schools that I’m familiar with.

Well, that’s what’s going on here.  That and lots of snow.  It will be awesome to get away from cold weather for a week, hopefully!  Well, tell your companion “hi,” for me.  I love you, Matt, and miss you, but I am so proud of you and the hard work you are doing.  Hang in there and don’t get discouraged, with God, all things are possible!

Dear Matt,
Hi how are you my son?  I hope that things are going well in your life.  Mom and I got to go to a marriage retreat, it featured Brad Wilcox and good food.  Needless to say I and Mom really enjoyed it.  Miriam and Thomas have been really sick all week, they finally missed school and Thomas missed church today.  Tonight we decided to watch Ben Hur, I really like that movie, we only got the first two hours and twenty minutes done tonight and then we read a Priesthood session conference talk by Pres Monson talking about how we need to see people as how they can be rather than how they are.

Well, that pretty much sums up my life for the week, other than that our kitchen is still ripped out and Mom will be leaving on Wednesday so I will be all alone on Valentine's day, sigh, actually I told her to go ahead and go to Jessica's wedding and then spend a week at LilyLand.  I really hope that I don't get sick, I keep thinking that I will and then I don't so I hope I really don't.  Well, I love you and pray for you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Feb 4--Email from Matt

Heey... I know that this is going to be a dissapointment but... I wrote a nice long letter to all of you, but I just accedentally deleted it.... I feel so bad. Sorry.  I am doing well, the work is going good here, I miss you all, (but not too much, because I don't let myself think of that too much) and I hope you are all doing well. I have to go now, my hour is up. I hope you like the picture of the cat. haha. BYE!!!!!

Feb 4--Dear Elder

Here are letters for Matt.  Mine is mostly a repeat of previous posts.  Sorry.

Dear Elder,
Hi.  How are you?  How are things in La Paz?  Is the weather still in the 80’s?  How has your week gone?  How is the work going?  I get the impression that things are going a bit slow right now.  I hope you are hanging in there and that your troubles are swallowed up in the joy of Christ.

It’s been quite a week.  I’ve been really sick, but I’m better now.  Saturday we tore out the kitchen so that we don’t have a place to eat, really.  We set it up so that we can pretty much eat breakfasts and make lunches and snacks, but without a stove, any real cooking is out of the question.  Tomorrow (Monday) the flooring guys will be here to install the tile.  It will take them 4 to 5 days.  Next week (hopefully early next week) the cabinets will be here and will get installed.

Monday I worked.  Monday night we had family home evening and made thank you notes for Vic and for Grandpa and Grandma Haws.  Tuesday, thankfully, I didn’t have to work.  I was feeling pretty sick.
Wednesday was a hard day because I was sick and had to work a half day, but it was good in some ways.  For one thing, Cassandra called me and asked me if I wanted to Skype.  She and Lily and I Skyped for an hour.  Jon also Skyped a bit and so did Miriam and Katrina when they got home from school.  Thomas was at play practice.  We had such a fun time Skyping.  Lily interacts with us more and more when we Skype.

Later, at dinnertime I was very sick.  I ate an apple, and just around five, my stomach started hurting so bad, I couldn't get off my chair to move to the couch and lay down.  I sat on the chair and told the kids what to do, and they cooked.  When Dad got home, he helped me to the couch.  I was hurting really bad.  Once dinner was made, though, my stomach stopped hurting.  I know, I know.  How convenient.  But it's true!!  I was able to walk to the table and be with the family.  Afterward, I got up to get the dishwasher going, but by then my fever was high, and Dad put me to bed.

Thursday, I didn't even try to make dinner.  I just laid on the couch all day.  Friday I was up and at 'em again.  Dad hasn’t gotten sick yet which is good.

After tearing out the kitchen all day on Saturday, we went to Divine Comedy as a family.  Dad went to Wash Hut ahead of time while the rest of us got ready.  At Wash Hut he discovered a gas leak and ended up staying at Wash Hut instead of going to the show with us, poor guy.  Today he has been at Wash Hut most of the day, too, except for church, working to get the furnaces up and running again.  He just walked in the door.  It’s 7:25 pm.  Poor Dad.

Matt, this morning I studied the talk that President Monson gave in the priesthood session of conference.  I am trying to change how I see people because of what he said.  Here are some quotes from it and my impressions.  I’m sharing it with you because it is about missionary work, and I think it’s really important.

Parts of President Monson’s talk:
"We must develop the capacity to see men not as they are at present but as they may become when they receive testimonies of the gospel of Christ."
Later in the talk, "We should develop the capacity to see men not as they are but as they can become when they are members of the Church, when they have a testimony of the gospel, and when their lives are in harmony with its teachings."

Then he tells a story illustrating the concept.  "In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, 'I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.'
The young man answered, 'No, we found them all by tracting.'
Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, 'When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.'

We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way."

Wow, Matt, first President Monson admonished us to see others as they can become.  Then he admonished again.  Then he illustrated.  Then he admonished again and yet again.  Lastly, he pled. You know how when a prophet repeats himself, it is time to sit up and pay special heed?  So what about when he repeats himself five times?  It’s got to be really important, right Matt?  I am trying to change the way I see people the way he counseled.  I love you, Matt.  Hang in there.  Heavenly Father loves you so much and so do we.  You are doing a great job.  Keep it up!


I’m sorry that I didn’t get a chance to write to you last week! I wasn’t feeling very well, so I slept a lot haha. Today we are watching the super bowl. It’s kind of boring. The commercials aren’t even funny! How are things going for you? Is it hot in Mexico? I’m very jealous right now! It continues to be cold here even though we got a heat wave of like thirty degrees. Does your companion still wear his sweater all the time? Have a good week!

Dear Elder,
Yes, we went to competition together.  We didn’t get first because we kind of sucked.  I didn’t perform any scenes for UTA.  I’m watching the Super Bowl right now.  I’ve been pretty sick this week.  I missed some school. I hope that I can get my grades up.  We’ve been redoing our kitchen and everything’s a mess.  You’re not going to recognize the place when you get back.  I saw the new Les Mis movie on Friday.  It was so good!  You’ll have to see it when you get back.  On Saturday we saw Divine Comdey’s Les Mis.  It was really funny.  So, have you baptized all of Mexico yet? All of La Paz, maybe? Just kidding.  I hope you’re doing well.

Dear Matt,
So this is super bowl week, and we are watching the super bowl, the power went out in the super stadium and so we are watching AFV and its really boring, I wish the super bowl would come back on/but enough about the super bowl, I am getting better at the play and now and I get to go on a tour at the frtio lay plant, I Think that it will be fun cus we get free chips afterwards. And when I fell asleep on the stage at school they just made me get off they didn’t get mad or anything which was surprising.

Dear Matt,
What a crazy and wild weekend! And not in a good way, well,  Saturday just before I was going to go with the fam to a comedy show, I stopped by the laundry and smelled gas coming out of the basement, so I shut off the gas and called the gas company and they found all sorts of things wrong, To make a long and boring story short, I spent the rest of the evening and most of today fixing things. Yeech.  Before all of that I ripped out the kitchen cabinets, we are supposed to get tile tomorrow, I  guess we will see.

 I feel like I have been really struggling as a teacher lately.  It is just a matter not focusing enough on doing a quality job in the classroom.   I have really felt the lord in my life these days, I just feel like some life changing things have been happening to me.

Well, enough about me, I can’t wait to hear about what you have been up to, I hope that things are going well for you.  Lets see, when I had been out as long as you had, I was in my second area and just got a new companion that was one of the most difficult experiences of my life, I was his 14th companion and he had been out 15 months, and he was the senior,  I certainly hope that you are having a better time than I was, but sometimes, the fires of adversity are what turn us into gold.  I know that the lord will bless you and will be there for you even in your deepest and darkest trials.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

A House Divided

We are in the middle of tiling our kitchen and entry way and have not had a kitchen since last Saturday.  Yesterday was especially weird because our split-entry home was divided in half.  In other words, we can't walk on the entry, and so in order to get from upstairs to downstairs, we have to go outside.  That is a pain, especially this morning because it sounds cold and windy outside.  Brrrr!  The guy tiling our house is so nice.  We have really enjoyed getting to know him.  He even shoveled the snow in the back yard so that we could get to our basement entry that we usually don't use in the winter time.

A very kind neighbor brought over a little portable oven, so last night we were able to have baked potatoes with our rotisserie chicken for family dinner which saved us a bit of money.  Tonight I'm planning to buy the kid's evening meal at Costco.  Yuck.  I think I'll just have a burrito here at home.  Thomas is home sick today, and I plan to take him to the doctor.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Super Nap

Today is Monday.  It's 4:00 am and I've got to go back to bed!  Why do I wake up so early?  Yesterday we watched the Super Bowl, and I got 3 little naps in.  Best Super Bowl ever!  Our kitchen is torn up because the tile guys are coming today and then the cabinet guys next week, but we plugged in the stove and were able to keep from starving and also from having to go to the store on Sunday.

It was nice to be with Brian and the kids even though we were just watching the Super Bowl.  Actually, Brian only saw an hour of it.  The power went off at the Super Bowl just after half time and stayed off till just before he got home.  I told him they were waiting for him.  Funny since he cares as little for the Super Bowl as the Super Bowl cares for him.  We watched it for Thomas's sake.  While the power was off, the kids wrote letters to Matt.

It was very nice to be in my own ward on Sunday instead of attending other wards for ward conference.  The clock in the chapel stopped right in the middle of testimony meeting, and it took us awhile to realize it.  For awhile there, we thought the meeting would never end.  I told Brian that happened because it's ground hog day.  Ha ha.  He wanted to watch that movie, but Saturday was too crazy busy.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Jan 28--Letters from Matt

Dad, Ha hah, well i thought you would like the video, they are some slippery shoes. ha ha, well the next week I do have a video for you all but we'll see what happens. I couldn't send it this week.  That's sad about the joke with the teacher. I was wondering, do you actually go shooting any more or do you go ''shooting'' and just pick up brass? ha ha, Well, here it is starting to heat up again, that probably means that it hits around 80° at midday here.

Do people think Lily's name is cool? well, they just kind of say, "Oh, what a nice name." and things like that.   It would be like if I told you that there was a guy named ''Steve'' that lives in Mexico.

That'll be cool, I'll print it off and read it later if you do send it. :)

Yea, I knew that haha, well that's quite the schedule there, are you sure that you aren't going to die? Get to bed earlier! haha, What happened when you fell asleep on stage? did they call you out or something like that? haha, That computer tech teacher reminds me of you haha, no, not really. Stay strong Bud, this world is getting more and more dangerous and less cuddly cute little doggy.  Thank you for the nice long letter!

Mom, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!! WITHOUT CAKE!!! haha, Is that really your favorite non-religious phrase? if so, are you sure about that? I know a couple of things that taste better than skinny feels haha, so does that mean that I'm going to get back and everyone is going to be skinny? Congratulations on the new crock pot! I'm sorry that you got sick and I hope that you get better soon.

Katrina, You both went into the competition together? what did you do? why didn't you get first? How was UTA? I remember that it was always on my birthday week. tell me what scenes you did for UTA.
Miriam, hi to you too :P

Ok, this week.... this week... well it was the week of transfers and it was actually pretty difficult. I am still here in La Paz, with Elder Ruiz, I told Elder Ruiz that we were going to have 6 months together, he told me not to rub salt into the wound. hahah. We found some people we had to let some people go. Man, I feel a little drained right now because we had to get up at 5:30, I guess I shouldn't complain if Thomas has to wake up at 4:00 haha, but it's hard because we actually have to work, he just sits around all day hahahah.

Dieter F. Uchtdorf

We had a stake conference this week, Elder Russell M. Ballard and President Uchtdorf both spoke, Elder Uchtdorf suggested 3 things that all youth can do to live a happy life in Mexico, he said that they need to read the scriptures every day, pray every day, and live in accordance with the pamphlet, For the Strength of Youth. I know that if we all do that, we will all be happy, He actually pulled out his temple recommend and a little mini For the Strength of Youth. We are still teaching Alexis, I don't remember if I wrote about him, well he is pretty much golden, but this Sunday he didn't show up to the conference, and we haven't seen him since. I am praying that we will be able to teach him and help him.

Jan 28--Dear Elder: Letters from the Whole Family

Dear Elder, Hi!  How are you?  I really hope you are doing well, and I pray for you to be able to hang in there and accomplish the work our Heavenly Father has for you to do.  Thanks for all the pictures you sent, we really loved seeing them.

This week was my birthday.  When I got home from school, there was a big beautiful gold-wrapped package waiting for me and on it was a card that said the following:

Once upon a time, there was a yellow crock pot.  It was Mom’s pride and joy until one day, a huge piece was chipped right off if it!  She stared at it in bewilderment.  How could this possibly happen to her beloved crock pot?  She could never again bring soup to a ward function.  We all had to suffer at the hands of the other women’s soup!  For years, her little crock pot was used for nothing but home cooking.  The poor little crock pot was hidden away in a dark cupboard, waiting for the day when it could finally be replaced with a new, better, stainless steel crock pot.  We now leave our old crock pot.  Will she stay hidden in the cupboard or will she be replaced?  Open the present to find out!!  Happy Birthday!  Love, Dad, Jon, Miriam, Katrina and Thomas.
As you guessed, the present was a beautiful new crock pot.  It is awesome!  Miriam is the one who wrapped it and wrote that cute card.

Dad and I went out the evening of my birthday and had a nice time being together.  He got me a few things I needed and we ate at Brick Oven, then we went home and finished “Martin Chuzzlewitt,” a film based on Charles Dicken’s book.  I love Charles Dicken’s books made into movies!  Pickwick Papers, Bleak House, Old Curiosity Shop, they are all excellent!  I wish I had read Dickens growing up.  Now, sadly, I don’t read much.

Yesterday we had a little birthday celebration for me with the family.  Jon bought and made me a roast in my new crockpot.  It was delicious!  Katrina made me birthday Madlibs and here they are:

My Birthday Madlibs--By Katrina

Well, another year has come and gone and The  Supreme Poohba’s another year purple and another year slinky.  How is she slinky, you ask?  Well, this past millisecond she’s learned that her ompah-lompahs are little slurpees.  For instance, no blue-man (with the exception of Wilberforce) has ever put away double their left-handed drill number of Phillip head screwdrivers.  We have all confessed to her.  She’s also learned that the Doctor can be creepy, hard as it is to believe.  She’s learned that she didn’t flee her zombies to slither well enough.  One of them has already forgotten typewriting almost entirely!  In another millennium, it will be completely.  She’s learned that taking care of hipster can have its round moments, with some knobby moments as well.  She’s learned that Mr. President will never be tired of going to the Bahamas.  I’m convinced that they’ve gone only because every time Mom thought it would be the last.  She’s learned that having -2 kids having a job fifteen minutes away may be good for the kids, but it’s hard on her thing 1 and thing 2.  She’s finally found her favorite, non-religious quote: “No walnut tastes as good as a walrus feels,” –Dubrikisha.  We all wonder what Mom will be sprinkly about next year.

My Real Birthday--Also by Katrina

Well, another year has come and gone and Mom’s another year older and another year wiser.  How is she wiser, you ask?  Well, this past year she’s learned that her children are little liars.  For instance, no child (with the exception of Thomas) has ever put away double their age of objects.  We have all confessed to her.  She’s also learned that Dad can be thin, hard as it is to believe.  She’s learned that she didn’t teach her children to speak well enough.  One of them has already forgotten English almost entirely!  In another year, it will be completely.  She’s learned that taking care of an older lady can have its funny moments, with some inappropriate moments as well.  She’s learned that Dad will never be tired of going to Disneyland.  I’m convinced that they’ve gone only because every time Mom thought it would be the last.  She’s learned that having three kids having a job fifteen minutes away may be good for the kids, but it’s hard on her time and gas gauge.  She’s finally found her favorite, non-religious quote: “No food tastes as good as skinny feels,” -Jonathan Cole.  We all wonder what Mom will be wiser about next year.

She did such a good job!  It was really nice of her to go to all that trouble.
Thursday Elizabeth and I went out just for fun.  We did some shopping and I actually bought myself a skirt and blouse which only took me 10 minutes or so to find and try on.  That’s got to be some sort of record or something.  I wore it to church and felt very pretty.

Most of us are a bit sick these days.  The inversion causes the air to be really bad and I think that’s a big part of the problem.  It hit me pretty bad Saturday night, and it’s been a long time since I’ve gotten sick—years—so I’m quite a baby about it.  It doesn’t keep me from going where I need to go or doing what I need to do, so that’s good.

Saturday Miriam and I drove with Elizabeth and two of her girls to Jessica's bridal shower.  It was done by her other grandma and was lots of fun.  I am so glad Jessica is marrying Henry.  He’s a truly amazing guy!  I am going to their wedding in February and will get to see Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily while I am there.  Yay!  In March I will be going to Celeste’s wedding.  Elizabeth and possibly Rick also will be on the same flight!

I have been teaching the young women in the stake about being converted unto the Lord, and it has been going good.  We are also gearing up for girl’s camp.  I worked all last week and again today.  I can’t wait till that’s over!
I love you, Matt, and hope your week is wonderful.

Dear Matt
Thanks so much for you letter and pictures and even the video!  You really crack us up!  So there was the family all gathered in the kitchen and then I got to the video and Mom said, “hey everybody, here is a video of Matt!”  and so everybody gathers around the computer and ‘wizzz!’ there we see a lovely picture of your feet!  You big tease!  We all laughed, somebody said “is that it?-we only get to see his feet?” it was very funny.  I especially liked the pancakes and the slingshot.

 It is a little less cold here, hovering at just over freezing  during the day, it is actually pleasant.  Thomas and I went up the canyon yesterday and shot a few rounds, I wanted to test some reloads that I was making, we spent most of our time picking up brass other people had left.

Mom is going to be going to Celeste’s wedding soon, There is an airline that flies out from here now so we got a really cheap ticket on that flight, it was like a hundred bucks round trip, plus we save the hour drive to the big airport and the gas times two.  She is also flying to Jessica’s wedding and is going to stay a whole week there so she can see Lily.  Do people think it is cool that you have a niece with a Mexican name? Citlali?

Mom and I just finished watching a BBC adaptation of Charles Dicken’s  “Martin Chuzzelwitz”  I had never heard of it before but it was excellent, typical Dickens and we loved it.

What I haven’t done is finish the work I need to do on the house, I have been lazy, but I did take down the Christmas lights  and pull up the green carpet last Monday, its just that there is so much to do.  Oh yes, I also went and paid Grandma’s final Electric bill, it is kind of strange to think that Grandma is gone and so is the house that I grew up in.  Renee wrote a story about the house, I’ll have to forward it to you .  Well, I can’t wait to hear about your week, I love you very much and am so proud of all that you do.
Love, Dad

Dear Matt, Yes I still sleep with a lot of blankets but not as much as I used to, stuff is going pretty good, I am waking up every morning at 4:30 to do insanity and run then I go to early morning seminary afterwards, it’s pretty crazy I have to go to bed at like nine, but usually I have something keeping me up so I stay up later. Everybody seems to be sick lately and Miriam especially, I was feeling sick after school during play practice and I fell asleep on the stage haha it was pretty funny. Speaking of the play I am starting to get my Jamaican accent down, here I’ll show you. Say “beer can” with a british accent. Say it out loud. Okay what you said is “bacon” with a Jamaican accent. Haha I don’t know if it will work for you with your Mexican accent but it works for me. In school I have this computer tech teacher that doesn’t know anything about computers at all, she like doesn’t know how to log on to the internet, and she thinks that everybody in the class doesn’t know anything either. Its really stupid, anyways I have to go to seminary now.

Dear Elder,
I hope you had a good birthday!  Cleaning.  That sounds… fun.  Oh well, you’re a missionary.  You don’t know what’s fun anymore.  :P This week has been really busy for me.  I had a DECA competition on Wednesday.  Miriam and I placed 3rd.  I had UTA on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.  It was fun.  I have to make up my school work for all of those days.  I’m going to school now.  Blah.
Matt, Sorry that Miriam hasn't had a chance to write yet.  I know she would want me to tell you "hi" for her. --Mom

Friday, February 1, 2013

I Met my Goals!

Wednesday morning I made 2 goals.  One was to have dinner as a family, which I always try to do anyway, and the other was to talk to Cassandra on the phone, or to another family member if I couldn't get a hold of Cassandra.

Well, I met the goals, but the one that I thought would happen automatically, didn't, and the one that I planned to reach out to do, came to me.  Instead of me calling Cassandra, she called me and asked me if I wanted to Skype, which she does regularly, and I was so happy that she called.  She and Lily and I Skyped for an hour.  Jon also Skyped a bit and so did Miriam and Katrina when they got home from school.  Thomas was at play practice.  We had such a fun time Skyping.  Lily interacts more and more when we Skype.

My goal to have family dinner was much harder because by dinner making time I was very sick.  I ate an apple, and just around five, my stomach started hurting so bad, I couldn't get off my chair to move to the couch and lay down.  I sat on the chair and told the kids what to do, and they cooked.  When Brian got home, he helped me to the couch.  I was hurting really bad.  Once dinner was made, though, my stomach stopped hurting.  I know, I know.  How convenient.  But it's true!!  I was able to walk to the table and be with the family.  Afterward, I got up to get the dishwasher going, but by then my fever was high, and Brian put me to bed.  Anyway, that's how my goals went.  

Yesterday, I didn't even try to make dinner.  I just laid on the couch all day.  Today I am up and at 'em, hopefully for good although I'll probably have to take a nap.   We will be tearing out the kitchen tonight and tomorrow in preparation for the tile guys to come on Monday.  Fun stuff.  Brian is getting a sore throat.  We are both hoping his sickness is mild and/or holds off till we get the kitchen moved.