Sunday, July 28, 2013

July 28--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  Thanks so much for writing to us last week.  I am glad you got glasses and I hope they help you see better.  Thanks for sending a picture; they look awesome.  I deposited $100 in your account to make up for the money you spent.

I like what you said about Heavenly Father giving us carnal laws so that we can be brave enough to confront the spiritual laws.  I’ve noticed that you are right.  As far as other missionaries go, I think it is important to be forgiving and understanding of others.  I think that a good leader uses "kindness, persuasion, meekness, and love unfeigned", not to force a certain response, but because it is the Christ-like thing to do.  A good leader leaves the outcome in the hands of the Lord and doesn’t use manipulation, shame, or coercion to get someone to do what they think is right. I have been thinking that when interacting with others, we should do what is right, not what “works,” because in the long-run, what is right is the only thing that really works.  Does that make sense?  What do you think?

I’m so glad that you could give your companion a blessing and that he felt better.  I hope that he is still well.  I’m also very glad that you two work well together, too.  I think that as long as you two continue to make an effort to feel the spirit and be united, your differences will only bless your efforts.
You said, “I don't know if the Lord has given me the ability to keep on working in the face of trials or if I am just conforming myself to failure.”  Wow, that’s deep.  But I think you are right, wondering if you are conforming yourself to failure is a doubt, and I think it is a lie.  Read Alma 32 again.  Do you feel the swelling motions in your heart?  Do you feel enlightened in understanding?  Is your faith beginning to grow?  “Every seed bringeth forth unto its own likeness.”  The sign that the seed is good is your heart.  Is a tree beginning to grow?  If so, be diligent and patient, and in Heavenly Father’s own time, you will taste of the fruit.  I think that the only failure would be to neglect to nourish the seed that you know is good, in other words, in giving up, and we both know that you are not going to do that.

Well, Matt, you mention the Family whose son died.  You said, “Mom please show them as much love as you can. I know that it means so much for them, don't be afraid of seeming... I don't know, intrusive or something like that, just pray, ask for ways to help and follow the spirit. Let charity guide your actions.”  What you said meant so much to me, and I determined to do what you encouraged.  I am very familiar with the article by President Faust that you mentioned, in fact, I had read it just a few days before your email came.  It was re-printed in the June Ensign, and I found it a very comforting and inspiring message.  I know that it’s being there and my reading it was not coincidence, and I think your idea to share it with the family was inspired.  I followed your counsel, prayed for that perfect love that casts out fear, and took my Ensign over to the them.  I told the mother about your concern and I showed her the talk and told her you thought it might help them.  I told her that I’d read it and it comforted me as a parent.  She thanked me for the Ensign, and said she wanted to read the talk and that her husband would want to read it, too, because he’s been reading tons of scriptures and conference talks in order to find comfort at the passing of their son.  Matt, thank you for asking me to forget myself and go to work!

I’m so glad that you want to attain all that Heavenly Father has offered to you, Matt, through His son, Jesus Christ.  You are of a “chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” you have been ordained to “shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Stay faithful, and you will dwell in the presence of God with the souls you bring unto Him, forever.

Now it is Sunday, and I’m getting ready to have a stake young women presidency meeting here at the house.  We will be meeting with the members of a ward young women presidency  (Blog Note: A ward is a congregation, a stake is a group of congregations) in order to teach them and to find out how we can support them in their callings as leaders of the young women in their ward.  Wow, I just realized something. As a presidency, we’ve talked about how we need to determine the needs of the young women in the various wards, and plan stake activities that will help the wards meet those needs.  This meeting is the perfect time to do this.  That might seem obvious to you, Matt, but we hadn’t thought of it, and I’m glad the Spirit helps us remember the things we’ve forgotten!

Yesterday was a nice day.  Katrina and Thomas got home from EFY, unpacked, cleaned their rooms, and then went to swim at the water park.  Miriam and I drove them there and then met Dad where he was working at the laundry.  He joined us in running some errands and then we dropped him back off and went home.  Later, Dad brought the kids home and he and I went out on a date.  Dad randomly found a trail in a neighboring city, I’m still not sure how he knew one would be there because he’d never been on it and didn’t know where it led.  It was fun to hike with him, and as we hiked, we met many families including grandparents and babies hiking back to their cars, so we knew the walk couldn’t be too far or too strenuous, which was good since by then it was pretty late.  It was a beautiful hike, Matt, and not too long later we got to a waterfall.  It was really pretty, and there was a way to climb down to the bottom, and there was space to sit and play by the water.  I really had fun hiking to it with Dad, and I want to take the kids there this next week, or the week after.  So far, we haven’t found a good day to do that, though.

Friday was awesome.  Elizabeth and her kids came over, and we had fun visiting.  Dad asked me later what my sister and I did, and I told him that whenever Elizabeth comes over I have fun showing her all the things I am up to and the projects I am planning, etc.  It’s fun because she’s so nice and patient to listen and to give her opinion on them.  I also have lots of fun feeding her kids.  I have no idea why I enjoy feeding little kids so much.  That and reading them stories is like my favorite thing to do.  Sounds like a grandma, doesn’t it, ha ha.

Speaking of being a grandma, I got to Skype with Lily.  When I answered the call, she laughed and clapped.  She also put on her new sunglasses for me.  She asked for “monkey” and “cow,” the puppets I always use when we Skype and she sang the “Where is Monkey, Where is Monkey?  Here I am, Here I am!” song that I sing to her when I bring out the puppets.  Our connections were bad, but we got some nice visiting in before we gave up and said goodbye, ha ha.  Lily hasn’t thrown up since Monday, but Cassandra says they are still really restricting her diet and schedule.  I’m so glad she is doing better!

Friday night, Miriam, Dad, and I had a movie night.  We ate stake, mushrooms, onions, sweet potato fries, and root beer floats, and we watched a movie.  I was looking forward to it all day, and it was very fun to be together!

Thursday, I woke up wanting to do all these projects, and as I said my morning prayer I really had a hard time focusing, but I kept praying, determined to stay there till my heart was right, and as my mind focused more on the Lord and less on vain things, I realized some ways that I could reach out and serve other people, and so I spent the day doing that, instead.  That was also the day that I visited the Hauns.  I’m so glad that I stayed on my knees that morning until the desires of my heart changed and aligned with the will of God.  It was a wonderful day, and I even got to fit in a few other things that I’d been wanting to do.  A quote by Brigham Young helped me that morning,

“It matters not whether you or I feel like praying, when the time comes to pray, pray. If we do not feel like it, we should pray till we do. . . . You will find that those who wait till the Spirit bids them pray, will never pray much on this earth. [Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 44]

If I did not feel like praying, . . . I should say, “Brigham, get down here on your knees, bow your body down before the throne of him who rules in the heavens, and stay there until you can feel to supplicate at that throne of grace erected for sinners.” [Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 46]

Wednesday morning started out like that, too, Matt, and I was on my knees for quite awhile till my mind cleared, and I laid aside the distractions in my mind and focused on the Lord.  It was a good day, we worked on the basement a lot.  I don’t really remember much more about Wednesday and Tuesday either, for that matter.  Let’s see…Monday we…  Ahhhh, I just looked at the clock.  It’s less than an hour to my meeting!  I’ll write a bit more later before I send this off, okay?

Okay.  Whew, I’m back.  I had my meeting, we went to church, ate dinner, and now I am writing again to you.  Dad and Thomas are at a priesthood meeting, Katrina is writing to you, too, I think, and Miriam is hanging out in her room.  We were planning to take Katrina out driving when the guys got back, but it is raining out there, so I’m not sure if that will happen.

When he was at EFY on Monday, Thomas texted me asking to help him find his way back to campus.  Apparently he left a building out of a different door than he intended to, lost his way, and wandered clear off campus!  He had just told me earlier that day that he gets lost easy, and now I believe him.  Dad and I were thinking that we could take him on the drive, give him a location, and have him help us get there.  We figured we could help him learn to have a better sense of direction, ha ha!

Sacrament meeting was wonderful today, btw.  Some of the young men who are priests gave talks about their train trip to Reno.  I may have mentioned it already.  When they arrived, the mission president of the area met with them and talked to them about missionary work and then he assigned them to different missionary companionships, and they got to do some missionary work.  The young men who spoke, Kenny and Sam, did an amazing job, and I felt the spirit very strongly.

Well, that’s our week in a nutshell.  I sincerely hope yours was a good one, too.  Tell your companion “hi” for me again.  I pray that you will lose all fear and be full of the Spirit of God, love for the people, and zeal for the work.  I pray the same thing for me!

P. S.  I just remembered what we did on Tuesday.  Miriam and I went downtown and shopped for awhile, later we went in to Orem to drop some stuff off at Preston's house including treats for his family.  We also dropped off treats to a family in the neighborhood whose mom wasn't feeling well.  I helped Dad work on the basement as well.  Monday we took Miriam out to eat for family home evening.  I can't remember what we did after that and neither can Dad or Miriam.  Pretty sad, huh?

July 22--Email From Matt

Hey Mom, So, I bought glasses, How about that? You know how you asked me how I had been able to buy souvenirs with out pulling out money? Well, I used some money that was already on the card, and some of the money that I had left over from returning one camera for another less expensive camera, so I decided to do something rash, and I bought glasses that will help me see bette, .haha I don't think it was very rash, just so you know, they cost like.... 1400 pesos, and that's roughly $125 I don't know about prices, but I hope that that's a good price... and if it isn't, well now it is because if you guys would've bought the glasses you would've had to pay shipping. haha.

Here's a picture of my glasses.

Anyway, my week.  Mom, it's been a fun week, I keep on looking at why we haven't found the people who are ready to receive this gospel and I keep on trying to see how I can improve, and it keeps on coming down to being obedient. I have been strict in my mission and I've been in a lot of situations in which my obedience to minor and major rules has been tested, and the thought struck me last night that the Lord gives us carnal laws so that we can be brave enough to confront the spiritual laws, such as the impressions to talk to people about the gospel and to share our happiness, but if we follow all of the 'carnal' laws and we neglect the spirit, we don't complete the purpose. What am I saying here? I need to be more obedient, obediente to the "rule book" but more importantly, more obedient to the Spirit. In my relationships with other missionaries I also need to find the fine line between too strict and not strict enough... It's a very thin line at times.... anyway,

My companion is doing well, I gave him a blessing because he wasn't feeling well, but it looks like everything is turning out well. We are always working to be united, we have a lot of differences, but he is a great guy, and we work well together. We have had some mixed timed these weeks, sometimes my companion feels a little down that we aren't finding people here, but we always pull through... I don't know if the Lord has given me the ability to keep on working in the face of trials or if I am just conforming myself to failure... IT's an interesting doubt.. but that's exactly what it is, a doubt. I'll just have to overcome that then. I actually did read that talk. it was very good. I will have to read it again.

About the family whose son passed away, I know that the experience is very hard for them. Mom please show them as much love as you can. I know that it means so much for them, don't be afraid of seeming... I don't know, intrusive or something like that, just pray, ask for ways to help and follow the spirit. Let charity guide your actions. I sent dad a link to a talk that might help them, it's James E Faust's talk called: "Dear Are the Sheep That Have Wandered" and it talked about exactly what we were talking about a few weeks ago.

I now understand a little bit more your desire to make everyone more spiritually active. I know that you, Dad, and the Lord can do it. Just have patience. Look at me, I spent my childhood beliving that I was going to only get to the terrestial kingdom and was somewhat satisfied. I know now that is not my goal. I'm going for gold in the sunny sense of the word. I don't want that to make you sad, rather happy. because, I want you to see the difference.

I love you mom. I hope that you are all doing well and I will keep on praying for Lily.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

July 22--Dear Elder

Well, now it’s 4:30 Monday morning.  I am having a hard time sleeping, so I am finishing my letter to you, Matt.

Sunday was very nice.  Dad did go on a walk, and he said his ankle didn’t hurt to bad, but later he pulled the sock off his foot, and that hurt him very bad.  Weird, right?  I hope he’s okay.  We had a nice visit with our home teacher, and he gave the kids a good message that came from the prophet, President Monson, about pioneers.  He said that we are all pioneers, we are all doing things that no one in our family has done before, and we need to stay faithful to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  It was a good message for the kids to hear.

We also had a Pioneer Day lesson.  I read the words to the story I wrote about Charles Shumway, but haven’t illustrated yet, and Dad read to them about your great-grandpa Faulkner.  We hung up our fan-style pedigree chart the living room in honor of Pioneer Day.  I bought the frame on sale, and it doesn’t look very nice for the living room, so I’m going to have to order the more expensive one online.  I want the chart to look nice and fit in.  Last year, I put pictures of ancestors on the chart.  I need to acquire and add more pictures.

Thomas and Katrina were hiding behind the couch cushions before family home evening, so Dad tickle-attacked them and threw the pillows over the ledge.  This is them relaxing after fhe, still without the upper couch cushions, ha ha.

We also read a conference talk by President Uchtdorf called “Four Titles.”  Have you read it, Matt?  It’s about four of the titles we hold in this life, and the four he talks about are, Sons of God, Disciples of Christ, Healer, and Eternal Heir.  It was a wonderful talk given to the priesthood brethren, an I am currently studying it.

Today Thomas and Katrina are going to EFY for a week.  Jon is coming over later to sew his pants before work.  It will be good to see him.  Miriam is working, of course, and Dad and I will be working on the basement after Dad gets home from work.  I guess it will be just Dad, Miriam, and me for family home evening tonight.

Matt, I wanted to remind you to stay hydrated.  Walking around in the hot sun without water can cause dehydration and confusion.  Did you hear about the new dress standards for male missionaries, BTW?  They can wear lighter-colored suits now, and missionaries in hot climates can wear closed-toed, close –heeled sandals.  Pretty cool, huh?  I guess sandals would be more breathable, right?

 If your mission president approves them and you want some, let me know and I’ll deposit some money for them.  I hope your week was good “according to the Lord” the way you wanted it to be.  How are your investigators coming along?  How is your companion?  I hope you two are working well together and are united in the missionary cause.  Keep your hope in Jesus Christ strong and bright, and have a wonderful week.  Our prayers are with you.  We love you very much!  Love, Mom

July 21--Another Letter Installment for Matt: In the Kitchen, At the Park, In the Basement

Now it is Sunday morning.  I really enjoyed having Jennifer and Emily over for lunch on Thursday.  Katrina and Thomas helped me a lot to get ready.  In fact, they did most of the cooking.  They are good hamburger cookers because Thomas barbecues with Jon so much and Katrina likes making herself occasionally.  Katrina and Thomas ate with us, and it was a most enjoyable time.

Thomas ate his burger without a bun because we have taken him off of wheat completely.  He has been feeling unwell for some time now, but since we took him off wheat earlier this week, he is doing better.  By the way, that kid is one lean, mean muscle machine!  He was doing pull-ups last night, and he pulls his chin up more than a foot above the bar!  He has incredible upper body strength and would make an awesome gymnast.  Remember all the tumbling tricks he used to try out on the living room couch, ha ha.  Also, he is an amazing jumper.  He’d not only be good at gymnastics, he’d thoroughly enjoy it.  Kind of like the shoulder angel on Studio C.  Do you remember the shoulder angel, Matt?

Friday, Jon needed us to bring him a mattress from home before he went to work, and Thomas had work an hour later than Jon needed us at his house. Jon’s front yard opens right out onto a park, so I called Elizabeth and she and her kids met Thomas, Katrina, and me at the park after we dropped off the mattress to Jon.  It was nice to see Jon.  His roommates had taped paper to cover the little window by their front door, and I’d given Jon some nice rice paper-looking window covering to put up instead, so while we were there, I helped him put it up.

It was also nice to be at the park with Elizabeth and her family.  We had a good time.  I left after about an hour to drop Thomas off at work, and after that Katrina and I went shopping first with Elizabeth and kids and then just the two of us.  When we came home, I crashed for awhile.  After that I finished up the meal I was making for the family whose son passed away.  They needed gluten-free food which was nice because I just made double to feed our family, too.  I was happy to be able help them out in this small way because I am sure that little things like making dinner are hard to do at such a time of mourning.  Miriam helped me bring the food over, and we volunteered to return dishes from other meals to their owners so that the family didn’t have to do it.  It was nice to help them with that small burden.

Since we had food to eat, Dad and I bucked our Friday night tradition of going out to eat, and we ate as a family instead.  We don’t take up the whole kitchen table now, and I sit next to Dad instead of at the other end.  It’s cozy but strange.  We had barbecue pork roast, rice, corn on the cob, and salad.  Afterward we read scriptures and said prayer together.  Miriam drove Katrina to watch a performance of “The Sound of Music” with her friend, Ashton.  Thomas went with them and after they dropped Katrina off, Thomas and Miriam went shopping.  Dad and I left for our date, but after a stop at the laundry, we decided to come back home, eat ice cream, and watch film noir, which we did.  It was a nice evening.

Yesterday Thomas went on a hike up one of the mountains close by.  It was twelve miles up and back, and coming back down was very punishing on his knees.  He also got a bad sunburn.  When they got to the top, they signaled with mirrors.  I think scouts all over the country were supposed to do the same thing—hike to the top of a mountain and signal with their mirrors at noon on Saturday.  We saw Thomas’s signal, and we signaled back to him with the big closet door we had just removed from the room we tore apart.  Thomas couldn’t miss it, ha ha.

Dad and I finished tearing out and cleaning up the basement room.  When we very first started in the morning, Dad twisted his ankle and it hurt him badly all day, but he worked anyway, of course, you know Dad, he's amazing! We hauled off the lumber, sheet, rock, and carpet, and swept up.  Dad glued down the 2x4’s in order to start framing on Monday.  He has to be done framing by Tuesday evening so that Jeff can come help him with the electrical.  It’s nice to have a deadline like that to keep us working hard and fast, ha ha.  I just wish Dad’s foot wasn’t hurting him.  He was able to sleep last night, though, which was good, and he plans to go on a walk this morning.  Miriam took Katrina shopping, and when they got back, Katrina mowed and she and Miriam and Thomas helped us unload lumber for framing.

Lily is not doing better, she is doing worse.  Please keep praying for her.  All the tests taken so far have been negative.  They are now wondering about a twisted bowel.  I will be fasting for her.  I hope we can Skype them today or tomorrow!  Today we have home teachers, though, so we probably won’t be able to Skype today.  Lily goes to bed just about the time we get out of church anyway because of the time difference.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

July 18--Dear Elder: This Week's Letter So Far

Monday I took Thomas school shopping.  It’s kind of early to be doing that, so we missed the sales, but he found some good clothes, and it is not always very easy for him to find anything he likes, so we bought them.  Monday afternoon Dad, Katrina, Thomas, and I went in to campus to buy Thomas a planner for school.  We were still there at dinner time so we had Miriam meet us there and we went out for dinner.  Afterwards we went on a drive up in the mountains and as we drove, Dad and I shared some of the things we have learned over the years about being parents.  They say that you should tell your kids now what you want them to know five years from now.  I think that’s because they can listen without feeling threatened, and are more able to implement what they hear because they have something to build on as they go.  We had a wonderful time, and I’m so glad we did it!

Tuesday, Thomas and I helped Jonathan move.  It went quickly, and soon we were unloading at his apartment.  It is a new place and I like it.  The men living there keep it very clean.  I saw one of his roommates and he seems like a nice guy.  There are pictures of temples on the wall, so I’m thinking they are active in the gospel.  The front of his apartment opens up on the park, so he’ll have lots of green space in which to play disk golf with Thomas.

My job was to open and close the glass door for Jon and Thomas as they unloaded the stuff from the car, and while I did that, I Skyped Lily.  A few days ago I had sent her a Hello Kitty purse and sunglasses, and it had just arrived in the mail.  Cassandra showed me Lily wearing the sunglasses and playing with the purse.  Lily was too busy playing to visit much, but it was really fun watching her enjoy the gift I’d bought.  Matt, Lily is really sick.  She has been throwing up off and on for more than two weeks now.  Tuesday night she was up for five hours in lots of pain and throwing up.  They have been to the doctor and he is trying to find out what’s wrong.  She could really use your faith and prayers.

I left Thomas to help Jon pack, and then Jon took him into work an hour later.  After that, I cleaned out the stuff we had in Jon’s room, and it went much more quickly than I expected, and by the time Dad got home, I had lots of stuff to donate to the second hand store.  Dad helped me load it up, and we drove in.  First we stopped at Elizabeth’s house so she could take any of the stuff she wanted, then we donated the rest.  We stopped at the laundry to throw away trash from the room and we also stopped at Walmart to buy supplies for the tres leches cake I was making for a funeral luncheon and to pick up sausage for dinner which was Dad’s famous oat waffles with eggs and sausage.  Yum!

We got home late but managed to make and eat dinner, move our bed and stuff upstairs, and get the cake made all before bedtime.  Katrina and Miriam really helped me a lot because I realized that I’d forgotten one thing for the cake and they went to the store quite late to get it for me.  I didn’t even realize that they had gone and had decided to make a plain old cake that didn’t have to be refrigerated overnight instead of a tres leches, but then they walked in the door with the ingredient I needed.  They are so sweet!

The funeral that I made the cake for was Nathan's.  I asked Dad to tell you about his passing in his last week’s letter because it is hard to talk about.  It is such a tragedy to have happened in our ward and to our friends.  Wednesday Dad and I went to Nathan’s viewing.  As we stood in line waiting to comfort his parents, I looked into their faces and thought about how I would feel if I were to lose one of you kids.   His mom's’s face lacked it’s usual light as she tried to function despite the pain of her loss.  When it was our turn to speak to them, I looked in her eyes, and hugged her and we cried and mourned together.

As you know, Dad and I taught Nathan's sister when we first moved into the ward.  Do you remember that class?  She would seldom come, so I’d visit her every week and tell her about our lesson, and she and her family began coming to church again.  Later her mom told me that I helped them to come back.  Matt, I can’t imagine the depth of their pain had they not had the comfort of the gospel to sustain them.  They have been sealed together for time and all eternity in God’s holy temple, and death cannot separate them for long.  I know that this fact sustains them in their suffering.

I had to take Thomas to work and so I missed a lot of the funeral, but Katrina and I were there for the last part of it.  It was good to be there, and I’m glad Katrina was with me.  After that we went grocery shopping.  When we got home I took a nice hour-long nap and then cleaned up some mess left over from moving upstairs.  Dad went over to State Farm after work, and switched all his insurance coverage over to them.  Horace Mann has been raising our rates a ton the last couple of years, and Miriam was able to save us and also Jonathan lots of money.  She is also paying her own car insurance now, so we are paying tons less than before.

When Dad got home, we had soup, salad, and biscuits for dinner.  After that, Katrina and Thomas went to young men and young woman’s where they played ultimate Frisbee in the wind and sprinkling rain.  After helping with the dishes, Dad tore into the room downstairs, literally.  The closet is gone, the ledge/wall under the windows is gone, and the sheet rock is almost all off the walls.  Dad got it all done super fast.  He is amazing!  The pickup is laden with stuff and ready to be driven to the transfer station this morning if Dad ever wakes up, ha ha.


Today I am having my visiting teaching companion, Emily, and my visiting teaching sister, Jennifer over for lunch.  Emily and I decided that would be a fun way to do our visiting teaching.  We are having hamburgers, soup, tater tots, grapes, and cookies. I am looking forward to it.  Thomas works later in the day, and I’m sure Dad and I will be working more on the basement.  Katrina was coughing all night last night, so I’m going to let her sleep in, poor girl.

July 15--Letter From Matt

Well, sorry, due to helping a widow and being forced to play a game, this is going to be the lonely only letter that almost everyone is going to get this week. So, How are you all? Mom, I did spell it wrong it shouldn't be degale, it should be digale, that means: "tell her" ok? There you go, anything else? Thomas, I liked your joke in your letter.  Ok, sorry, I didn't really read anything else, I am going to print everything off, so don't worry.

This week I learned a few things that I need to change. First off, I need to be faithful to the impressions of the spirit 100% and 2 my hope, although growing, needs to be strengthened. I had an amazing week this last week, not this week, last week, this week was a little hard, but it had its own charm. I love this great experience that the Lord is giving me. I have too much to learn and too little time. I'm going to honestly try to have a good week this week, a good week according to the Lord. I don't know how it's going to turn out, but I know that it's going to be good.

I liked a comment that Mom made, you guys only get a small snap shot of me through these letters, and honestly sometimes, I'm in a hurry or a little pessimistic but really this has, is and will be a wonderful experience, I just sometimes get down that I'm not perfect, but that's ok :)

We met many new people but 2 stand out, Treicy and Jonathan, Treicy is the girlfriend of a member and she accepted a baptismal date, Jonathan also accepted a baptismal date, but he has a lot of trials.  We are going to try and help him in the best way we can, teach by the spirit and invite him to come unto Christ.

I Love you all, you are all in my prayers, I hope that you all forgive me for not writing to you this week....


July 15--Dear Elder

Hi, Matt!  How are you?  Thanks for your letters.  I am trying to figure out what your companion said to me in Spanish, and from what I can make out, he said that you are a good companion and that you two are going to have success.  I can’t figure out what “no degale que” means.  Did you spell it right?
I really appreciate your words of gratitude and encouragement.  They mean so much to me!  Remember that in letters, people can be their best selves, but in real life, I’m just the goofy old mom I’ve always been, ha ha.

I really liked what you said about “anything that is righteous will be given to us if we ask for it in the name of Jesus.”  I think most of what I will write about this week demonstrates that to be true.
I also like what you said about a parent’s love.  “…I think the love parents have for their kids is the thing that will draw them back at the end, because when someone is faced with that sort of love, they, in turn, will do something for them selves, not to help themselves, rather because someone who really loves them, asks them to change.”  Thanks for that encouragement.  I totally agree.  Your Great Grandma Shumway had a saying, “Love them in to the family.”  She worked hard to do this especially with her sons and daughters in law.  It is a good example of what Heavenly Father wants us to do.

In a larger sense, your thoughts on a parent’s love also apply to our Heavenly Father’s love.  As our heavenly parent, Father in Heaven loves and blesses us so much and he is hoping we will love Him back and do everything in our power to return to him.  1 John 4:19 says, “We love him, because he first loved us.”  Also in the sacrament hymn, “O God The Eternal Father” is says Jesus ransomed himself in order “to win our souls with love.”  Charity never faileth!

I like that you said your week was fun.  It is good to see you finding joy in the work and that the Lord is guiding you and giving you success.  You said, “we really hardly do anything in this work other than live worthily; study; repent, a lot; and follow the impressions that come from the Lord.”  You are really getting the hang of missionary work, Matt, and I am so glad!

You also said, “It sounds so easy but, there is a constant enemy and we have so many imperfections that sometimes I just want to sit down and cry, but, I cant do that, so I just pray.”  You sound like Nephi in 2 Nephi 4!  His weaknesses made him sad, too, but he said, “Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation.”  I know what you mean about having so many imperfections you want to sit down and cry.  I especially hate it when I have been studying and learning about things that I need to do to improve, and then I go and make the same old mistakes again.  That can be so discouraging, but we won’t be discouraged if we’ll just remember that God is at the helm, and he is perfect and will help us prevail if trust him and pray like you said and never give up.

You were so right when you said, “I know that we can improve, we are a long ways away from were we need to be, but I feel.... Secure in the future. I know that I'm gonna fall, a lot, but I know that the Lord will never let me down.”  I feel that way, too, Matt.  I love how you refer us to scriptures!  It’s such a missionary thing to do and it means that you are really immersing yourself in living and preaching the word of God.

You said that anything that’s righteous will be given to us if we ask in the name of Jesus, and we have many prayers answered this past week.  For one thing, Thomas went to football camp, and as you probably know, kids can make lots of bad choices at football camp, but I prayed about it and felt like he should go.  I also fasted and prayed that Thomas would choose the right and that the experience would be a good one.  Heavenly Father comforted me while Thomas was gone, and Thomas has talked quite a bit about camp since he’s been home, and I think it went well and that he made good choices.
Another real answer to prayers came with the help Miriam got on her trip to San Diego.  She left with plans kind of up in the air.  I fasted and prayed for her and also went to the temple, and everything worked out good.  She was able to get safe transportation to and from the base to visit Preston and is currently on a plane to come back home.  We will be picking her up at the airport this evening.  I really feel like Heavenly Father was watching out for her and blessing her.  Also, I have been praying that Jon will be able to progress in his life, and, as you know, he found an apartment to move into.

A smaller blessing is that we will be moving up into the room that Jon is vacating so that we can finish remodeling the downstairs.  Dad moved everything to one side of our bedroom and started tearing down sheet rock on the other side, the day before Grandma had her stroke, and we have been living in one half of the room ever since.  It will be nice to move into a real bedroom while we finish the one downstairs.

With Miriam working and Thomas gone, Katrina and I have spent a lot of time together, and I’ve really enjoyed it.  I think she may be a bit tired of being dragged from store to store with me, though, ha ha.  I’m a bit tired of it myself!  We did get to visit my sister, Elizabeth, one day which we really enjoyed, and Katrina talked me into getting her a treat a couple of times, ha ha.  The week is pretty much a blur without much else really happening.  It rained a lot which is nice.

Poor little Lily has been sick ever since they got back home.  I hope she gets better soon.  Cassandra is taking her to the doctor tomorrow, and I hope they get things figured out.  We haven’t been able to Skype with them since they left which is hard, but we have talked on the phone a bit.

Now it is Monday.  Yesterday was a nice day.  Nick's mom talked about his mission in church, and some youth talked about choir tour.  It was nice to hear more about what Katrina experienced on tour since she’s not all that talkative, ha ha.  We had a lesson on fasting in Sunday school where we read Isaiah 58.  I love that scripture!  In Relief Society we sisters had a lesson entitled, “With God, All Things Are Possible.”  It was from the Teachings of the Prophets—Lorenzo Snow manual, and it was a really good lesson.  It encouraged us to trust in the Lord completely, serve Him fully, and He will lend us the grace we need to do all that is required of us.

The teacher, mentioned the idea that being loved is good, but love along with trust is better.  In other words, it is important to love God, but do we trust Him enough to put all we have and are into his hands knowing that He will sustain us?  Along those same lines, I was thinking that we know God loves us because He loves all His children, but does He trust us?  Can he trust us to do what he asks of us?  It reminds me that our prophet, President Monson said he hoped the Lord knew that if He needed an errand to be done, Tommy Monson would do it!  I want God to trust me like that.

Sorry this letter is so short, Matt, I don’t have much else to write.  I am so glad you are progressing in the work, and we are trying to reach out to others here at home.   We pray for you daily, and know that our prayers and being answered.  I love you!


July 8--Letter from Matt to The Fam

Hey, well, I'm not going to be able to write too much, but here goes. This week was fun, we had a lot of experiences, we were guided by the Lord many times, and He gave us success many times, we really hardly do anything in this work other than live worthily; study; repent, a lot; and follow the impressions that come from the Lord. It sounds so easy but, there is a constant enemy and we have so many imperfections that sometimes I just want to sit down and cry, but, I cant do that, so I just pray.

Saturday was a hard day, we were walking outside in the sun for about 8 hours, and I felt so lost, and disoriented, we both haven't been able to figure out exactly why that day was like that, but we both know now for sure that we do need the Lord's help. I think that it was a trial, nothing is just easy in this work, but if it was because we were doing something wrong, we, both, are thinking about what we can do to improve.

I trust in the Lord, it doesn't matter now what we have to go through, I know that He will always pull us through. Hebrews 11, there you go! If all of those people could live, suffer and die, without ever knowing 100% if Christ was going to atone for them, we can do it knowing that He has already been there, He knows, He loves us and He wants to help us.

I know that we can improve, we are a long ways away from were we need to be, but I feel.... Secure in the future. I know that I'm gonna fall, a lot, but I know that the Lord will never let me down. I want to help my fellow man.

It's time to leave everything here, change, repent again and again, and get to work. There is so much to do and so little time to do it.

I love you all, I hope that you are all doing well, you are all in my prayers!

July 8--Letter to Me from Matt

Thanks mom!!! Elder Guzman said: "Su hijo es un buen compañero, no digale que: 'Vamos a tener éxito'" so there you go. I remember when I was driving back from college and you called me and had forgotten to get Johnny a present for Valentine's day, and started crying. I still don't really know what to think of that, but I'm pretty sure it means you love us. Don't worry, I don't think about buying stuff until Monday. oh, and just so you know, the earliest that I start writing you all is at 10am, just a bit of info.

As always mom, I really enjoy the sincerity of your letters and the honesty with which you tell me about your week. It's like a breath of home every Monday, (Don't worry, you don't make me home sick. I am missing the missing gene) I liked your comment about finding Rick and Kelly in the parade, anything that is righteous will be given to us if we ask for it in the name of Jesus.

Yeah, I think that your best bet it to help everyone obtain charity... I've been thinking, and I have no grounds to base this claim on, but I think the love parents have for their kids is the thing that will draw them back at the end, because when someone is faced with that sort of love, they, in turn, will do something for them selves, not to help themselves, rather because someone who really loves them, asks them to change. I think I have to think about that one a little bit more....

Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8--Dear Elder

Dear Elder
,Saturday's Barbecue

Hi!  Thank you for the letters and the pictures of you and your old and new companions.  You are, indeed, devilishly handsome, although I prefer to describe you as angelically handsome, ha ha.  You will be happy to know that I did, indeed, study in Preach My Gospel this week.  I am sorry I said I couldn’t do it—of course I can!

I will ask Dad about the $89 shipping fee.  Please let us know what kind of shape your suitcase is in—that will let us know if shipping it is worth the $$.  You say that you have bought stuff for the fam, but I don’t see any ATM charges in your account—you still have $180.  Maybe they have not gone through yet.  Let me know how much you have spent so I will know if I need to replenish the account.  Matt, please don’t worry about buying me anything else, I really don’t need it.  Please just focus on your mission

Thanks for telling us about your investigators.  I will try to pray for them.  I hope that Ines and her daughters accept a baptism date.  I hope Obed and Catalina read the Book of Mormon, and that the member you are teaching develops faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I am so glad that you are feeling more hope and that you are trying to apply the 121st section of the Doctrine and Covenants as you teach your investigators.  What you said about Charity really hit home to me, Matt.  I have been praying for a miracle in our lives—a change so great that it will enable us to be more effective instruments in God’s hands to share the gospel with His children.  In your email you described the depth of God’s charity and then you said, “When we really let that type of love govern our thoughts and actions, we will see a radical change in our lives and in the lives of those around us.”  I know that charity is the foundation of the radical change of heart I seek for myself and the family.  I want to study the 121st section of the D&C after reading your words.

This has been a wonderful week, Matt.  Monday we did, indeed, go out to eat.  I sent you a picture of us all.  I hope you liked it.  Sorry I sent you some repeats of pictures I’d already sent.  I didn’t realize it till just now.  It was fun to be eating with everyone.  It looked like Miriam wouldn’t be able to come because of work, but she was able to after all, and we were so glad!  Jon didn’t want them to sing to him for his birthday—can’t imagine why not—but we did give him barbecue utensils for a gift.  He’d already gotten his main present previously, which was money, and he loved the gift, too.  We had lots of fun eating very good food.

After that, Dad drove Emerson and Cassandra to the airport, and we got to go home and take care of Lily which was lots of fun.  Thomas and Katrina filled up the wading pool, and Thomas and Lily went swimming.  She had tons of fun sliding down the slide and into the water.  She loved it when Thomas splashed her, too.  She was pretty cold, so after she swam, we gave her a warm bath, which she loved.  She’s a real water baby.

Pinkie Descending a Staircase
Miriam put her hoodie and socks on Lily to help her warm up in our freezing cold house.

After Lily went to bed for the night, I made Jon a tres leches cake for his birthday, and we sang to him and all went around and told him what we’d get him for his birthday if we had unlimited funds.  I can’t remember what anyone said but me.  I told him I’d get him a big house with an awesome yard with a pool and a barbecue.  Thomas’s friends were over playing a board game, so we gave them cake and ice cream, too.

We really enjoyed taking care of Lily while her mommy and daddy were gone.  We tried to take her to the life science museum since she loves animals so much, but it was closed for renovation.  We took her for a walk in the botany gardens and on campus instead.  I bought her a stuffed monkey at the bookstore, and we ate Subway for lunch.  We gave Lily pieces of our sandwiches, which made her very upset.  Later we found out that she usually gets her own little sandwich when they go to Subway, so getting pieces of ours was not cool.  Katrina helped her feel better by reminding her that she was “at lunch with friends,” which Cassandra told us is one of her favorite things, and she calmed down after that.  Katrina often had good insights on how to help Lily be happy.

Everything about having Lily here was fun, even taking care of her when she threw up in the middle of the night.  I got to give her a bath while Dad cleaned up the bed, and then he watched a movie with her all snuggled up in a blanket, and helped her when she threw up again.  We got lots of snuggles and chances to carry her around and talk to her and play with her.  Both Thomas and Katrina spent lots of time with her.  Miriam had to work and got home after Lily was in bed, which was sad!

Wednesday we took Lily to the hunting store to see the fish and the animals.  She had lots of fun.  On the way home, we stopped by my sister Elizabeth’s house so that they could see Lily.  The kids were so sweet to her, and Mercy, who is just 6 months older than Lily gave Lily her blanket and teddy bear to hold.  It was so sweet!  Lily mostly liked their toys, ha ha.  I am so glad we got to see them.  It was an answer to my prayers.  We swam some more, and made the most of our time together.  Her mommy and daddy got home after she went to bed for the night.

Colonial Thomas

Thursday was the Fourth of July, and we had a fun day.  Cassandra, Thomas, Katrina, and I were the only ones who woke up early enough to go to the ward breakfast.  After that, we all (except Jon) walked the parade.  Emerson had a bad sunburn from sailing in Seattle without sunscreen, but he went anyway.  It was lots of fun to show Lily the bands and floats and horses in the parade.  She especially loved the bands.  Lily loves music.  We got to see my brother Rick and his family at the parade, too.  They told me that they might be going to the parade, and I had prayed that we would somehow be able to see them on the Fourth, and I know my prayer was answered.  What were the chances that we would see them through crowds of people and miles of parade route?  Heavenly Father loves us so much!  He wants us to be connected to family.

Thursday night we had a barbecue.  Jon made the most delicious chicken!  He also grilled corn on the cob, which most everyone was too full to eat, but not me.  I ate four cobs!  How embarrassing.  I gained 2 pounds while they were here.  We played on the grass, and Dad, Cassandra, and Thomas had a push up contest and Thomas won.  It was really cool because fireworks are legal now, and people were setting them off all around us.  We loved it!  You pretty much had to stand in the middle of the lawn and turn around in circles to see them all.  Luckily we had a big rainstorm that night, so there was no worry of fires from all the celebrating.  I think legalizing fireworks was a crazy thing to do!  The Woerners were doing fireworks on our street, so we went over to say, “Hi,” and then Dad, Emerson, Jon, Katrina, and Thom played a board game while Cassandra, Miriam, and I talked and then went to bed.  It was a very nice day.

Saying goodbye to Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily on Friday morning was very hard to do.  They had to go to a family reunion for his side of the family up north.  Happily, we got a call from them about 15 minutes later asking if they could come back to the house and stay till 2:00 since they had just found out that their check-in wasn’t till 4;00.  It was like a reprieve from the governor!  We were so happy.  When they got back here, Lily was soaked, so I got to give her another bath.  Yay!  Then they put Lily to bed, and Dad and I and Cassandra and Emerson went to campus so that they could see their alma mater.  It was very fun and we ate lunch afterwards.  By the time we got home, Lily was awake and we got to give her more kisses and hugs before they left us for good.  Could we have had more fun while they were here?  I think not!

 The rest of Friday was kind of sad.  I cried for a half hour or so, and Dad snuggled me in a nest of blankets and read poems to me that remind me of the ones President Monson recites in his talks until I fell asleep.  After I woke up, Dad and I went out on a date, but first, we ate breakfast for dinner with the family.  It was comforting to have us all around the table eating together.  Then Dad and I went to Bridal Veil falls.  It was twilight time, and very beautiful.  I felt surrounded by Heavenly Father’s love.

Yesterday I took Katrina shopping for school clothes, and came home with a ton.  Miriam was the fashion consultant, and Katrina got very cute things.  After Thomas’s work, I cut his hair, much to his disgust--he wanted to look cool for EFY at the end of the month—and then I bought him 3 pairs of shorts at a second hand store here in town.  When Dad got home, he and I went for a walk at the Canyon View park trail while Miriam and Katrina took Thomas shopping to buy shorts for football camp which starts tomorrow.  We walked in twilight, once again, and it was beautiful, once again, until a storm hit, and we had to run back to the car.  That was actually fun as well, and we didn’t get hit by lightening or falling branches, so that’s a good thing.  The storms have been pretty crazy around here lately, but this one turned out to be not so bad.

Mir and Kat sporting shiny 80's clothes they found on the clearance rack.  No idea why these didn't sell, ha ha!

Well, Jonathan got an apartment and is moving out next Monday.  I’m glad for him, but I will miss him.  Having him here these past months has truly been a joy.  I am so glad he works close, and I told him to please come home often!  I have told Dad many times that I am missing the “missing gene”, but now with you in Mexico, and Cassandra’s little family leaving again, and Jon moving out, I think I have found the missing gene, because I miss you all very much.  It’s weird, though, because at the same time, I am happy and at peace because I know you are all where you are supposed to be and are in Heavenly Father’s loving hands.  Isn’t life wonderful!

I just got a call from Sister Spotten asking me to teach her class of 11 year olds in church today, so I’d better go prepare.

Now it is Monday.  Teaching the 11 year olds went well, and Dad helped me.  It brought back memories of when he and I taught your class when you were 11.  We taught you church history back then, and I taught out of the same manual yesterday.  The lesson was about the sacrifices the saints made to build the Kirtland temple.  I brought objects to introduce each part of the story and had the kids take turns opening an object and showing it to the class.  Dad read all the quotes and stories which gave them a nice change from hearing my voice, and he did a great job.  We also read from the scriptures.  I miss teaching.

After church we ate gyoza, went for a drive, and read a conference talk by Robert D. Hales about standing in holy places which was a good thing to read with Thomas just before football camp.  This morning I took Thomas to the school to get his equipment and go to camp.  I waited in the car with his bags while he got the equipment.  It took forever.  Fifty minutes later, he came back.  He said he’d had a hard time finding a helmet that fit.  The helmet he finally chose is snug, and he says it’s going to be uncomfortable all season.  He said they told him it will feel better once he gets sweaty.  I don’t know if he’ll play enough to ever get sweaty though, ha ha.  I hope and pray that camp and football will be a good experience for him.

Today I am probably going to work on getting stuffed cleaned out of Jon’s room.  That’s where we dumped stuff when we began remodeling which was before we knew Jon was going to be staying in it.  I also have groceries, laundry, and finances to do.  I haven’t done my monthly shopping yet, either.  On second thought, I don’t think I’ll be working on Jon’s room today, ha ha.  Too much else to do.  Dad wants to go swimming tonight for family home evening, so we’ll see if that happens.

I’m going to send this letter now.  Say “hi” to your companion for me if you remember, and have a great week.  While fasting, I prayed for your investigators.  I hope that your week is happy and productive and that you are filled with faith, hope and charity.  I love you.


July 1--Letter From Matt

Here, it's a picture, take it, enjoy it.
that's Hermano Sanchez, my old companion, and me, that devilishly handsome young man in the center

This is the same brother, but the Elder on the right is currently my companion.

Hey Mom, well, ok if you can't study PMG it's ok, but really it is usefull, you just have to use it right that's all...
anyway, Yes, I'm going to be in the Culiacán Mission, no worries with that, it sounds like you are having a blast with lilly, keep on sending pictures!

Yeah, shipping is very expensive and the cheapest I could possibly get would be $82
more or less, and that's for about 22 lbs. so, what do you think of that? I have to go shopping again, I didn't find a big plate for you, they were selling clay sinks but I don't think that you would want one of those. I bought a vase and a few other things, I bought something for Miriam and I bought something for Katrina and Thomas. so let's see if I can buy something for Jon. maybe a knife. or something like that.

Try to get lilly to write me or something like that. I'm sure that she is very cute!

The week started out good, I felt the Spirit quite a bit during sacrament and started to prepare myself for the challenges that we would have that week. Monday, my companion left wayyyy early in the morning for the bus station to go to the airport and Elder Guzman and I had a normal Monday.

On Monday, we talked with a few people but the person that really stood out was Javier, Javier was a reference from his own daughter, we looked for him and found him in a run down house full of 1 liter bottles of beer. That wasn't a good sign. He started to argue with us and didn't let us talk. He was just looking for contention, we tried to teach something, and there were times in the lesson when it looked like he might actually listen to us, but he never did, so we left. Tuesday, we had to go to the air port to pick up the sister missionaries and then..... I'm so sorry, just looking at how hard it's going to be to write everything that happened this week.... I'll just sum it down, I feel a greater ability to love to people. I know that comes from the Lord. D&C 121: 34 until the end of the section, is hard to follow, but we'll see if I can do it.

We taught many lessons, the Lord blessed us with His Spirit many times, We are helping a member to start to believe that Jesus Christ is his Savior and Redeemer. It's hard. Ines and her daughters are progressing, but they didn't want to accept a baptismal date, we met Obed and Catalina, they are very good people, but are living together w/o being married, they want to read the Book of Mormon. I feel like I am able to do what the Lord wants me to do, I feel so much more happy, and like there is more hope.

I'm trying to be better and I'm trying to be charitable with everyone, something that PMG says is that Charity, like faith, leads to action. I think that's why charity will remain, it becomes the driving force behind our faith and hope, it leads us to be willing to give of ourselves for the well being of others, I now have no doubt as to why it is called the pure love of Christ, that was the love that enabled Jesus to be able to withstand the suffering of the atonement and to not fail. A supreme love for His Father and for us was necessary. When we really let that type of love govern our thoughts and actions, we will see a radical change in our lives and in the lives of those around us. Moroni taught us how to obtain this type of love when he wrote:

"Wherefore, my beloved brethren, pray unto the Father with all the energy of heart, that ye may be filled with this love, which he hath bestowed upon all who are true followers of his Son, Jesus Christ; that ye may become the sons of God;"

I don't believe that Charity is the first step though, I think that it is only possible to have charity when we have a firm hope and a pure faith in the Lord. So, I'd like to invite you all to find faith, hope and then, charity. I have seen in my own life that everything is so much brighter hand happier when I am filled with just a small portion of this great love.

July 1--Dear Elder: Sarah and James Visit, Cassandra and Emerson Arrive, Jon Barbecues and has a Birthday

Dear Matthew,
Hi, how are you?  It is so nice to write to you today.  Thank you so much for your last letter.  Thanks for answering my questions for the talk that I might give.  I’ve decided that if I do talk, it will be not only about your mission, but about member missionary work, because that is what I think you would like me to talk about and I think it would please Heavenly Father.  If I get asked to talk, I will share the steps you wrote that we can follow.

I am really praying hard that the spirit of missionary work will fill our family’s hearts and that Heavenly Father will fill us with so much love and gratitude to Him, and so full of the Spirit that we will be like Ether in Ether 12:2 who “could not be restrained because of the Spirit of the Lord which was in him.”  I am praying to be filled with desire.  I am praying that God will help us turn our weaknesses to strengths and remove our stumbling blocks so that we can become instruments in His hands.  I am praying for help in overcoming pride, slothfulness, selfishness, enmity, worldliness, and fear in order to become an instrument in His hands.  I want so much to be who Christ needs me to be in order to further His work.  I did invite the neighbors to the Fourth of July breakfast, but I think it’s way too early on a Holiday for them.  I totally understand that!

As far as studying PMG, there is so much to study!  There is my daily Book of Mormon reading, the Bible, the conference talks from our Prophet had Apostles, not to mention church magazines, Relief Society lessons we are supposed to read before they are taught, and messages.  I feel a bit overwhelmed.  I was reading PMG, but lately I have been concentrating on the scriptures and conference talks.  I kind got through most of PMG, but I could start it again.  It is hard to know when to stop reading up on things and get to work.

Thanks for answering my other questions, too.  It is good to understand more about what is going on.  I heard that your mission is being split.  I guess you stay in the Mexican Culiacan mission instead of becoming a part of the Obregon Mission, right?  Keep us up to date on all the changes, okay?

Well, it has been a wonderful week.  It was so nice to come home and get into the swing of summer.  I love waking up early, praying, studying the gospel, and going out to water the plants.  I have been working outside and cleaned up both sheds, which makes me very happy.  After I got the yard under control, the plan for the second half of the week was to work inside to get the house under control, but Thursday I was home alone a lot, which was so nice that I ended up wasting lots of time instead of working on the house and got behind.  I am very unhappy with myself about that!

Yesterday morning, Sarah, James, and family stopped by on their way back home to Texas.  They were still up at his parents house this whole last week and I didn’t even know it!  I told them they were stinkers for not telling me, ha ha.  It was very fun to visit with them.  Dad and I told them about our trip, and they got to see my new kitchen.  It was a short visit, but I’m so glad they were able to stop by!

After they left, I worked on the house, and Thomas helped me get the computer upstairs.  It has been down in the family room sitting on the wood burning stove ever since we started the kitchen remodel.  We got it set up, and it really looks nice, but we haven’t gotten the internet up yet.  Mostly, I’m excited to have the hymns playing on Sundays again.  Later, Dad and I went on a date.  It consisted of going out to eat, going through the car wash, and shopping at Walmart, but we had fun because we were together.  I didn’t even get to talk to Katrina yesterday.  I texted her and asked her if she had time to call, but she never texted back.  I hope that is a good sign and not a bad one!  Miriam spent the evening doing laundry and texting Preston.  It was a good day.

Matt, I have found a video game that I like, but don’t worry, it is not very time consuming and it helps me connect with people I love.  It is called “Draw Something,” and I just draw a picture for the other person and then they draw one for me.  I have been playing with Jon, Thomas, and Katrina, and this week I got Grandma on board, too.  She is a good drawer and it is hard for her to do quick, easy drawings instead of awesome detailed ones, but I think she enjoys the game.  I am also playing with my Aunt Emily.  It is a fun way to stay connected.

Guess what???  We are picking up Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily today!  Yay!!! We are leaving before 10:00, and will be home again around noon.  Jon is going to barbecue for us.  I can’t wait!  I still have a bit to do on the house before we leave, so I’d better get busy!

Now it is Sunday morning, and I am waiting for Katrina to get home from tour.  It’s 5:00, and she just called to let me know that the buses are here.  She is getting a ride home and should be here any minute.  She had a blast on tour!  She hardly called home at all, and when she did call, she was very happy.  Before tour, she had planned on quitting the choir after tour and just taking high school choir, but last night she texted and asked if she can take it next year.  I said yes.  I’ve been praying that she’d have a wonderful tour experience, and I’m so glad that she did!

Yesterday was a wonderful day!  Dad and I went and picked up Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily at their hotel by the airport.  Lily was so cute when she saw us, and she loved the little Minnie Mouse that we gave her.  It was fun to sit by her on the way home.  Jon barbecued some incredible tasting steak for us for lunch and we had a wonderful time eating it and visiting.  Lily loves our back yard, especially our slide and our swing.  Later, Cassandra went out with her friend, Jen, and the boys went shooting, so Miriam and I got to watch Lily.  We took her out with us to water the plants, but that never happened.  Instead, we watered the Lily!  She grabbed the hose and proceeded to douse herself thoroughly.  Miriam accidently squirted her in the face, which she loved, and so she started squirting herself over and over.  It was very cute.  I also got to take her on and walk, which was more like a run, and she was very good to hold my hand as she ran down the sidewalk.

Today Courtney and her husband are coming over for dinner to visit with Cassandra and everyone.  That should be fun!

Now it is Monday.  Yesterday was such a wonderful day. We went to church and it was fun to be there with Cassandra and family.  We sang the Battle Hymn of the Republic for the opening song in Sacrament meeting, and after the song, Lily yelled, “Yaaay!”  It is a very stirring hymn, ha ha.  After Sacrament meeting, Cassandra and Emerson took Lily to nursery, and when Dad found out, he went to get her out because he wanted her to be with us, but when he saw how much fun she was having in nursery, he left her there.  Later, Cassandra caught Thomas and Lily out in the hall.  He decided he’d rather be with Lily that go to Sunday School.  Cassandra sent him back to class, ha ha.

After church, Courtney, Justin, and their two little girls came over for dinner, and we had a wonderful time.  Lily was exhausted and went to bed at six thirty.  The girls and I had fun taking care of Courtney’s little girls while the men played Axis and Allies, and Courtney and Cassandra went for a walk, etc.  After they got back, everyone went outside to roast marshmallows and make s’mores, but I went to sleep, ha ha.

Today is Jonathan’s birthday and we are all probably going to go out to eat before we take Cassandra and Emerson to the airport.  I hope Miriam will be able to get off work to join us.  Cass and Em are going to Seattle and will be back home on Wednesday.  We are taking care of Lily while they are gone.  That will be fun!  Right now, Thomas and Lily are watching Robin Hood while Dad and I write to you, Matt.  Miriam is at work, and no one else has emerged from their lairs for the day.

I hope you like this letter, Matt.  You have $183 in your account right now.  If you will tell me how much more you will need for shipping, I’ll deposit it.  I hope that you had a good week last week, and that the one to come will be even better.  I love you!


June 23--Letter From Matt

Ok, so your questions about the talk that you might give:

What do you want the ward, to know about missionary work?
The missionary purpose is to invite others to come unto Christ by helping them receive the restored gospel through faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. We often remember the first 4 steps of our purpose faith, repentance, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, but many times we forget that there are many people that we know who are struggling with the 5th step, endure to the end. If you think (and I say think because there are 6 billion people in this world and only about 14 million of them are members of our church... obviously you can find a way to find someone to talk to about the church) that you can't find anyone to teach, that does not disqualify you from your missionary duties, because I am certain that you know at least one person that has fallen away from the church, to whom you can be a friend, pray for, and invite and help to be reconverted, and return to full activity in the church.

Do you have a message for those planning to serve missions?
There is no adequate substitute for daily scripture study and prayer to prepare you for the rest of your life and for your mission.

How can members help the missionaries?
I've thought of 4 simple steps that anyone can do to help the missionaries:
step 1: Ask the Lord for an opportunity to share the Gospel and put goals and make plans with the Lord to do it.
step 2: DO IT! Share the Gospel, and look for the blessings that you have received from the Lord in your life through doing it!
step 3: Notify your ward mission leader and the Lord about your intents to share the Gospel.
step 4: The most important part, repeat step 1 through 3 diligently.
and a side note: To become a better teacher and really come to know more about missionary work, I would suggest everyone in the ward to use Preach My Gospel as a study tool in their daily scripture study.

Your other questions:
One suitcase, well because the mission has decided that they can't store our extra suitcases in the mission offices, so, to make it easier for me, I'm just gonna send my other suitcase home, so that I don't have to lug it from the baja, to sinaloa (we can only have 1 suitcase and a carry on in the airplane) There you go, sorry, I forgot that it's super easy for things to get miss interpreted over e-mail.

Actually I'm not leaving Cabo, I'll be here for another month and a half, so, no worries there, but Elder Chamberlain did have to leave, I mean it does make sense, in our ward we have 4 missionaries, we were all elders, but they took out 2 of the elders, and put in sister missionaries, I stay in the same area, and they are sending me one of the elders from the other area of the ward; His name is Elder Guzman. They did it like that so that I could teach Elder Guzman the area and so that Elder Guzman could help out the sister missionaries if they had a question about where the investigators of his area live or things like that. They couldn't leave me and Elder Chamberlain here, and they couldn't move us both out. So there you go.

As for exercising your faith for me, You are doing it already. Both of you. Please, if you really want to help me, procure to have the spirit with you, so that if I do need help, you can give it to me. I know that you both know how to do that, but if I can suggest sincere scripture study, prayer and fast, and trying to share the gospel, I know that if you with both feel the spirit more. The Lord's only purpose, or almost only purpose is to preach the gospel. If you both share the gospel, to my siblings, strangers, members or less active members, you will be qualifying to enjoy the presence of the spirit more abundantly in your life.

So that was written in part to Mom and Dad, I'll try to answer more of Dad's letter here:
How will us using the Internet and being in the church building effect my mission? I don't know... I mean, it might not effect us at all, it depends on if my new mission president feels like we should follow that council or not. Haha, speaking of the new mission president (both in my answer and your letter) I think it will take him a while to get his bearings because it is a hard calling, but yeah, I guess I can ask him, but, if it's ok with you I'd rather do it in February, but I don't know if you can work with so little time, maybe it would be better just to wait for a little bit after I get back and then go, but who knows. Thank you so much for helping Thomas to write more! haha, it didn't really work out, but there you go, I got something at least.

Ok, this is going to be the end of your mutual letter, I'm gonna try and send a spiritual experience in a different letter if I can, see ya!

(Blog Note:  Matt was unable to send another letter.)

June 24--Dear Elder, last installment for the week

Now it is Monday.  Yesterday at church, Jared's mom talked about his mission and Ryan's dad talked about his mission.  Some things that you have in common are that you and Jared share a deep love for the temple, and you and Ryan both try very hard to be obedient.  I guess they are going to have parents of all the missionaries speak in sacrament meeting sometime in the next few months, so I figured I'd better be prepared.  Here are a few questions for you:

What things did you do before your mission that helped you be prepared to serve?
What do you want the ward, to know about missionary work?
Do you have a message for those planning to serve missions?
How can members help the missionaries?

Yesterday we also watched the broadcast about missionaries and learned that missionaries will be doing more online missionary work in the future and that meeting houses will be open so that people who want to know more about the church can visit them.  Matt, I really want to be a better help to the missionaries.  I am fasting today for myself and the family to be strengthened to do missionary work.  I know that when the members help you, you are the most effective as a missionary.  I feel so weak and unable to do these things, but I know that with Heavenly Father's help, all things are possible.

I love you, Matt.  Thanks for going on a mission.  I know that Heavenly Father is pleased with your work and loves you very much, even more than I do!