Saturday, September 28, 2013

Sept 23--Email From Matt

Matt wrote this on the subject line for this email:

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Hi Mom, I'm going to answer your questions in the order that you asked me them in your letter:
   I'm doing good,
   It's been a good week! I learned a lot of things, don't worry I'm going to write more about it after answering your questions.
   Yes, I did get a package and it was great and I'm so glad that you sent it to me! I did share it with a few people including my companion.
   My companion is very good, even better because he got good news from his family today. I told him that you said "hi."

And that seems to be the end of the questions from this week. Ok, comments on your letter!

   About asking if there are people that we can serve to the members: Thanks for the Idea, I'm sure that it'll work out! especially because of the things that have been happening here lately (What things you might ask?!?! Well I'll tell you a little later!)

   About being able to serve other people, we actually have been able to help a few people! (I'll tell you how a little later in this letter)

  I'm so glad that your job is going well! I'm pretty sure that you are going to be just fine mom! You do have the ability to work and do well. 

  Thanks for telling me about Katrina and her teachers! It's nice to hear that she is such an awesome person! haha, It's also cool to hear about her scene.

  Also you wrote a paragraph about Thomas, I loved hearing about him and that he's deciding to be true to the commitments that he makes! 

  Then you wrote about Miriam! Wow, Thanks mom, that's so nice of you to tell me about everyone and how they are doing a little bit. I really love hearing those types of things!

  Ok, skipping a few paragraphs, I've noticed that with my companio we both sometimes take different sides.  I've noticed that I can help our companionship by doing exactly what you said. it's hard, because my immediate reaction is to defend myself, but  I like proverbs 15:1
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." 
and 3rd Nephi 11:30 
"Behold, this is not my doctrine, to stir up the hearts of men with anger, one against another; but this is my doctrine, that such things should be done away." 
These both help me realize exactly what you said: "if I avoid contending, and pray instead,... the subject isn't an issue after all"

This part of the letter is more for all of the family

ok anyway what happened this week?!?! I dont' think that you have been checking the weather forecasts around here, because a hurricane hit us. 

(Blog Note:  Yes, at this point I was beginning to freak out.  I scrolled down in a desperate hope for more info, ha ha.  What if I hadn't?  What if you don't, Dear Reader?  Then I guess you will miss what follows.  Oh, that Matthew.... sometimes I don't know what I'm going to do with that boy.)

You have no idea how tempting it was to not send anything else! haha!
we are ok, it was a class 1 hurricane, so nothing too bad happened to us. the area where we live wasn't very affected, we had no flooding, just a lot of rain, and a little wind, a tree fell over and that's about it. But, in other parts of the city, the water got up to around 4 1/2 feet and higher, luckily, the majority of the people got out safely. Sadly, as far as we know, 2 people died in the city. It started raining Wednesday in the night and it didn't stop until Thursday night. we stayed in the house and the power went off and on, but nothing really happened at all. There are a few places in our area that got flooded, and there are a ton of houses that are full of mud, dirty house hold items and ruined furniture and cars. I have to explain something first, here, the houses are made out of concrete, so, there weren't any collapsed houses and there was no dry wall that got ruined.

Friday and Saturday, we went out and proselyted like nothing had happened. Saturday night, we called Cristina to put an appointment for Sunday, after finding out that nothing bad had happened to their house, she said that her family wasn't going to be able to see us because they were going to go help some family members clean out their houses and then they were going to help wash all the dirty cloths and cushions for the people by her house that got flooded. She then asked me: "I don't know what you guys are going to be doing tomorrow, maybe you could come and help. Aren't you on a mission to help people?" Her words hit me right in the heart: "Aren't you on a mission to help people?"

How had I forgotten about all of the people that needed help?! How was that possible? We had even ridden a bus through one of the areas to get to another place, and I had seen the damage with my own eyes. Why didn't I notice?!?! 

Thankfully we weren't sitting down doing nothing Friday and Saturday, we were preaching the gospel, and the gospel is ultimately what everyone needs, but sometimes, it's better to preach to gospel through actions rather than words! How could we ignore so completely all of the people that needed help?!?! We are Representatives of Christ, with a sacred calling "to bear one another’s burdens, that they may be light... to mourn with those that mourn... and comfort those that stand in need of comfort." and we had done nothing, or almost nothing to help.  All of those thoughts were coursing through my mind when I heard those words: "Aren't you on a Mission to Help?" I could barely manage to mumble out a brief goodbye and say that we would call again during the week.

Sunday, we organized a group to go help people clean out their houses, but when we got to the affected area, almost all of the work was done. We just walked around from house to house, asking if someone needed help and hearing the answer "no." I felt pretty dang bad.

The Lord was looking out for us and for a certain family that day, because we walked up one street and asked a certain family if we could help them, and they just said, "Sure, whatever you can do would be great"

We spent like 4 hours cleaning and helping them move everything out of the house. We washed off almost all of the mud in the rooms and in the living room. 
I feel so bad that we weren't able to help out more people! But we are going to keep on looking this week!

Thanks for everything you guys! I love hearing from all of you! I love you all and I pray for you always!


Sept 22--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi.  How are you?  How was your week?  I sent you a package a couple of weeks ago.  Did you get it?  I hope so.  I enjoyed reading about what you are up to and am so glad that Erick came to church.  I pray that you will find Jesus and Christina.  How is your companion?  I hope he is doing well.  Please tell him "hi" for us, and share your package with him (I know you would do that anyway).  I know it must be very hard to rely on member referrals to find people to teach, but I know Heavenly Father will bless you for listening to your leaders.  As you ask members for names of people you can teach, maybe if they can't think of anyone, you can then ask them if they know of anyone who is not a member who could use some service.  Service opens many doors, and you know.  I'm glad you could repair a door for that single mom.  I know as you pray for inspiration, Heavenly Father will bless you to know what you can do to find people to teach and serve.

This has been a very busy week because I am not yet used to being away from home so much.  As you know, last weekend Dad, Miriam, and I were in San Diego.  Our trip home was good.  I am so sorry that I didn't answer your last email--I lost service.  By the time I got back on, you weren't there anymore.  Dad drove the whole way.  I read a short book to them, and we talked a bit.  It was nice to spend the whole weekend with Miriam and to see Preston, too.  We got home at 5:45 Monday night, just in time for Miriam's 6:00 college class.  It was good to be home.  Dad, Thomas, Katrina and I went to the laundry so that we could keep Dad company as he worked, and then we met Miriam at the frozen yogurt place afterward.  

My job is going well, Matt.  I feel very blessed to be working with such wonderful adults and students.  The teacher has given me five of the higher functioning kids to track.  I meet with their teachers in their mainstream classes and make sure they are keeping up, etc.  It has been hard to catch them all up, and the work load is a bit overwhelming, but once we get everything caught up, it shouldn't be too bad. The teacher is happy with my work and everyone is very helpful.  I really enjoy working with the students. The fact that I love my job is a source of great joy to Dad.  His own job is more stressful because as a teacher, he has tons more responsibility and also has to work at home as well as school, but he is delighted that my job is so nice.

 I call this my first real job because, although I've done doctor surveys, the Dept of Agriculture survey, subbing and assessment testing, this is my first traditional job.  It is nice to work with the same people every day.  One of the reasons that I am so happy I got a job is that Dad believed in me so much, I didn't want to disappoint him.  He's always said that if I were working and he were home, we'd be rich, ha ha.  I don't know about that, but he sure has lots of confidence in my ability and can't even imagine people not being delighted to hire me, so it was nice to not let him down.

Katrina has been doing well.  She made the Shakespeare team with the dialog that she does with Ashton.  She did the cut for the scene, and her teacher and his wife were really impressed.  I talked to them at parent teacher conference on Wednesday, and they said the scene is one person doing most of the talking and the other character not saying much at all, but Katrina managed to cut it so that the parts were quite even.  Can you believe it, I forgot to ask them what play the scene was from!  Here other teachers had nothing but good to say about her as well.  A couple of them commented on the fact that her participation in class discussions encourages other kids to contribute as well.  I have been driving a lot with Katrina a lot lately.  She started drivers ed earlier this month, and just got finished with "range".  She had driven with us only two hours before she started, but she did well, and passed easily.  That gave her more confidence and she is happier to go out driving now.  We got some time in this week, and she is up to four hours, one half hour of which was night driving.  That's a long way from the 60 hours she needs before she gets her license!  Katrina is the designated lawn mower for the family this year, and I think she is really glad that the weather is getting cooler and she won't be mowing much longer.  That reminds me, I have to tell Dad that the mower died while she was doing the backyard yesterday.  She and Thomas tell me its not the gas or oil.  I hope it is not gone forever.  We spent more money to get a Husquvarna so that it would last longer.

Thomas is a very busy guy with football, gymnastics, and homework.  I am so glad he is good friends with Hayden because Hayden works hard to keep up in all his classes and does homework during lunch and after school.  Thomas is keeping up much better because of it.  He is even enjoying some of his classes, particularly English and Chemistry.  He and his chemistry teacher enjoy talking about astronomy, and she says he picks up on what she is teaching in chemistry much more quickly than most of the other students.  All of his teachers say he makes them laugh.  Last night was the big rivalry game between BYU and U of U and he wanted to watch it with Hayden, but a girl his age was having a big sweet 16 party, and we wondered if many kids would be there because of the game.  Thomas had told her that he would be there before he realized that the party would be during the game, and his friends wanted him to stay home and watch it with them, but he said no, he'd made a commitment.  I was proud of him for that.  Dad was the one who picked him up from the party and he said he had a fun time.

Miriam has been taking Katrina and Thomas shopping lately.  She and Katrina went earlier in the week, and she and Thomas went on Saturday.  She bought Katrina boots and Thomas a jacket.  I need to pay her back!  I am so glad that they got to spend time together.  It was very nice of Miriam to do that especially because she is so busy.  Preston sent Miriam two dozen roses for the anniversary of when they first met and they are very pretty.  Now that I think about it, I'm not so sure that Miriam got to talk to Preston at all yesterday.  I'll have to ask her about that.  I can't remember if I mentioned it before, but at work we go out into the community with the students and they collect recyclable paper from businesses to earn a little money for the classroom.  Miriam offered to arrange for them to come to her work and pick up paper there.  I thought that was so sweet of her!

Thomas and I got to Skype with Cassandra and Lily this last week, and that was so sweet.  She dragged in her mom's bright pink bathrobe and put it on for me to be pretty.  She sang me a song, and visited for quite awhile before she got distracted.  Cassandra says they are doing well, so that's good.  Jon was over yesterday and changed his oil in the driveway.  It looked like a pretty messy job, but he got it done.  I also worked with Jon to get you a Costco card which I sent to you yesterday.  I have no idea if it will get to you, but I hope it does.  If it doesn't, you can go to Costco and they should have you on their computers as a member and they should be able to give you a card.  If you do get the card, take it in to Costco with an ID or passport, and they will be able to put your picture on the card.

Dad has been crazy busy this week, but he took time out to watch Thomas's game Thursday night.  Thomas didn't get to play, but I know he was glad that Dad was there.  Dad graded papers as he watched.  Friday Dad and I went out.  We did some errands and also got a bite to eat.  When we got home, we ate ice cream and watched Sherlock Holmes with Basil Rathbone, Dad's favorite Sherlock Holmes actor.  It was fun to be together, and we also got a lot done.  Yesterday he was at the laundry till after dark working to put a furnace in, and he's not done, so he gets to work on it again tomorrow.  He got home so tired, but still did the dishes before he rested.  He and Katrina and I watched some of a Disney documentary before having scriptures with Miriam.  After that I went to bed and Dad stayed up to get Thomas home and have scriptures and prayer with him.  I really hope today is a good day of rest for Dad.

Yesterday I drove with the other stake young women leaders to check out an LDS young women's Campground in preparation for next year's camp.  I drove eight of us up there.  It was a nice trip and fun to visit with everyone.  It's the first time I've been up to the camp, and it's amazing!  I can't wait to have camp there.  They have a staff of 150 couple missionaries to run it, and somehow manage to allow family reunions up there as well as girl's camp.  It is an amazing place!  I love how much effort the church put in to this facility to bless our young women and give them a wonderful nature and gospel experience.

Besides that, I have mostly been playing catch up this week.  I did get to talk to my brother, Tom on the phone Thursday and wish him a happy birthday.  He seems to be doing well.  He does independent civil engineering work, and lately he has also been doing some programming work on company websites.  He is really enjoying the programming, and it was nice to talk with him.  I also got to see my sister Elizabeth for awhile on Thursday to drop some stuff off to her.  Isaac had a birthday party yesterday and I wonder how it went.  Elizabeth is planning the family reunion for this summer, and I am so excited!.  Also I got to hear Sarah's voice yesterday, but only to ask her to look something up for me since Dad needed some information, and I had no data at the girl's camp.  It was very nice of her to help me out.

Thursday my new visiting teachers came over.  One is Sister Brinkerhoff.  It was nice to visit with them.  I also visited the family who lost a son a month or so ago.  They are so fun to talk to!  Britttany has applied to do an internship at Disney World.  Katrina wants to do that, too, in college.

I have been studying Helaman 5 lately, and also about the evils of contention which has really blessed my life.  I'm learning that when Dad and I don't agree on how something should be done, if I avoid contending, and pray instead, a resolution that we both agree on presents itself or the subject isn't an issue after all, or something else happens to help us.  It is amazing to me the different ways that Heavenly Father answers our prayers!

I also studied about pondering the other day and I need to do that more often.  It brings the spirit into my life and is a precursor to revelation.  I need to ponder with prayer.  I can ponder on the scriptures I've read and the words of the living prophets, the spiritual experiences I've had, and the questions that I need answering.  I need to be sure I ponder on things of God and not of Man.

Today I have a meeting and hopefully we will have some good family time between church and the meeting.  Other than that, I can't think of much that is happening today, which is good.  Tuesday our school class is going to the zoo, and I am really looking forward to being there with the students.  They act like they aren't that excited about it (much like my own teenagers through the years, ha ha), but I think they will love it.

Matt, thanks for writing to us every week. I hope that your week this week goes well, and that you will have a nice preparation day today.  I look forward to reading about how things are going, and I will be praying for the efforts you tell us about to be blessed.  I love you very much.  We all do!

Love, Mom

Sept 16--Letter From Matt

This is Jose.  He got baptized this last week.

Thanks Mom for the Letter. I loved reading it. About me: Yes, we are ok here, the work is going a Little slow, we haven't been able to fine people to teach, it is a little harder right now because we are focusing on teaching with members present. I really hope that w ill be able to find the people that need to hear our message. I'm glad to hear about your experience with the lady from the Assisted living home.

I'm doing well, everything is doing well because we are slowly starting to help people.
Speaking of serving people, we were able to help a guy named Rob today. He's from Canada, and he was on his way to Guatemala, when he got in a car crash; Here, of all places, in Culiacan, Sinaloa. Some members were driving bye and they saw him, saw that he couldn't speak Spanish, and called us and told us to get down there to translate for him. We got there and started helping him, it tured out that he had gotten a little distracted by the scenery and didn't notice that the light ahead of him was red and that there were 2 stopped cars in front of him. When he looked forward again, it was too late, and although he started to break, he hit into the back of an SUV and the SUV hit the next car in front. Rob's car got worked over.

Anyway, we helped him sort it all out, the other car owners were very nice and the police kindly accepted a bribe to turn a blind eye.
it was a fun experience and Rob was very glad that we could help him.

Me and my companion have actually talked about finding ways to serve. We are going to find something to do, but this last Saturday, we were able to fix the door of a member. That's actually a lot more important than it sounds because it was the front door. She's a single parent of 4 kids, her daughter died just 2 years ago, her oldest son is a drug addict that sits in the house smoking "interesting" cigarettes. Her other 2 sons are very good people, one is married, and the other one is working full time and going to college.

Other than that, we were able to help a lady weed her front yard.... that's about it though...

We are trying to get into contact with Jesus and Cristina, they are a young marriage, and they are very good people. Erick is another person that we found, He's the boyfriend of an inactive member, but we invited him to church and he came. He's about 29 30 years old and is a good guy. I hope that we are able to teach him this week.

So that's about that. tell me about you.

Sept 15--Dear Elder

Hi, Matt.  How are you?  I'm sorry in advance for writing such a short letter.  I'm not totally sure it will be short, but I figure that is will since I haven't written a thing about this week until now, and I know how hard it is to remember back to what happened.  I am writing this on the computer at one of the Sandiego Hampton Inns.  We are here because we drove Miriam to see Preston before he leaves to his assignment in Washington DC.  He graduates from training next week, but won't necessarily have any leave, so Miriam wanted to visit him this week instead.

Let's see if I can remember anything about this week.  Monday, I helped out with the carnival at the high school for awhile, but only till about 6:00 because of family home evening.  When everyone got home, we had roasted red pepper sauce and noodles for dinner.  That night Dad had to replace the rotors and the brake pads on the van, so we did that for family home evening.  We all sat out with him, and Katrina learned how to take off a tire and put it back on which is something she had to do for driver's ed.  Afterward we went to Auto Zone and showed them our old brake pads, and they gave us our money back on the new ones we'd purchased because they were under warranty.  Then we read scriptures on the way home.  Miriam wasn't with us because she had class, so it was just me, Dad, Katrina and Thomas.

On Tuesday, after work, Dad and I went to the temple which was a wonderful experience.  Late that night, Thomas was sick, and so he ended up staying home from school Wednesday and Thursday.  He also missed the football team dinner Wednesday night which was sad since I took a crock pot of roast beef stew for the dinner.  I had asked him days earlier what kind of soup the boys would want, and he basically said soup with lots of meat, so I made it and then the poor guy wasn't there to eat it.

Dad went on lots of home visits with another teacher this week, and actually seemed to enjoy it.  He and that teacher are becoming good friends; he's the guy who got Dad to buy a metal detector and they like to talk about metal detecting and arrowhead hunting.  

Its been raining a lot here and in other states, and in Colorado they had to call out the National Guard because of the flooding.  Many people had to evacuate.  I heard that Mexico has had tons of rain, too.  Are you okay?  They mentioned the places hardest hit and didn't mention your area, so I am hoping that all is well.  I noticed that in your letter you didn't talk much about the work.  Are things going okay?  I'm sorry if they are going slow, and hope and have been praying that they will pick up for you.

Thursday after work I visited a lady who lives in the new assisted living home that they built recently close to our house.  She is about my age.  When she was 20, she got in a terrible car accident, and still suffers from the affects of it.  She has three kids which is a miracle.  I met her Sunday when I taught the lesson there, and it was nice to get to know her better.  Her story is amazing, and she's a real sweetheart.

Our trip to San Diego started Friday after school.  We made good time, but still didn't get here till 1:30 in the morning our time which was 12:30 San Diego time.  Dad actually let me drive at the end and actually got a little sleep.  The next morning we drove to Camp Pendleton and picked up Preston.  It was wonderful to see him again; he is looking great.  We went to the San Diego Zoo, Old Town San Diego, and Seaport. Sometimes we were all together, and sometimes we split up.  It was fun to be on a little date with Dad.  Today we got to see Preston for just awhile.  We helped him get a haircut and walked around the commissary for awhile.  After we said goodbye to him, we went to church and then to lunch.  Now we are writing you!  Tomorrow we will drive home which means Dad and I will both miss work tomorrow.  We have to get back for Miriam's 6:00 class.

The kids seem to be doing well.  Thomas has been talking to merit badge counselors in an effort to get closer to his eagle, and Katrina has a concert tonight.  Elizabeth is going to drive her and Thomas there and also watch it.  It is very sweet of her to do that!  Yesterday they were very bored all day, but they survived.  Today they walked to stake conference together and seemed glad to have been able to get out of the house.

Well, that's about it, Matt.  Sorry it's so short.  Dad wants to leave now, so I have to stop.  I love you so much!  Please remember to serve other people!


Sept 9--Email From Matt

Hi Mom, thanks so much for your email! Those sound like a lot of trials that you have been having, Daniel is the little tyke right? Matthew is his older brother. He's such a playful little guy, don't feel bad mom, things happen, and as you've seen he's already forgiven and forgotten and his family has too!

They really are a cool family aren't they? I never saw that before... Katrina was dry heaving? That's what I had this last Friday!!! man, that's the worst. and now you are sick to your tummy, man mom, I'm sorry. It just hasn't been the funnest week on earth for you, but then again, you did get that job that you needed! I agree, I think that the Lord was preparing you for that job. Your experience of finding a job is a perfect example of working with the guide of the Holy Spirit, and not just waiting for a job to fall into your lap. and your experience with Katrina was another example of following the Spirit's guide and not just expecting the Lord to do everything for you. He doesn't just want to help us, He wants to help us help ourselves.

Thanks for your sage advice, it's exactly what I need, right now I'm trying to get out of a slump. In Los Cabos it seemed like I was working and progressing, here, it's not quite like that. I feel like I'm in a spiritual slump. I am, truly, a classic Nephite.

I've learned a little bit this week with regards to Grace, our purpose here, and ministering. We are saved by grace, after all that we can do, but, grace is what saves us, not our own efforts. The Lord asks us to be able to enjoy the gift of eternal life before He can give it to us like He says in D+C 88:33 "For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift? Behold, he rejoices not in that which is given unto him, neither rejoices in him who is the giver of the gift." I just want to remind you that this is my own opinion, and it'll probably change, because I've just barley started to learn about this. I've pulled these thoughts out of an article that Brad Wilcox wrote. So... I think that I'm on the right path, but time will tell. As for ministering, I wish I would've done it before I got here..... I guess I did a little bit.

anyway.... That's about it.... :) Sorry, sort of a lame letter.
I love you and I hope that you are doing ok!!!! Thanks for your letters, they are great! Please tell Thomas to read the letter that I sent him. Please, please please!!!!!! Make sure he reads it. Say "Hi" to Miriam!

Sept 8--Dear Elder

Dear Matt,

Thanks so much for your letter.  I am so glad that you are not sick anymore, and I hope that you will stay well and also safe.  We have been praying for that and for the members to help you find people to teach.  Have you found anyone?  I hope so.  Wow, Matt.  You know that when you almost miss the hot Mexican weather, you have been in Mexico too long, ha ha.   I am glad that you no longer take air pressure and drainage for granted.  Maybe you will become an engineer some day, ha ha.

Today is Sunday and may I say, what a week.  Monday was Labor day, and Thomas had to labor, ha ha.  He is now done with the water park for the year.  Dad went to work at Wash Hut, and Miriam, Katrina, and I went out to do a little shopping.  We didn’t buy anything, and our trip was uneventful.  Later on, when we had all gotten back from our various pursuits, we did something together as a family, but I cannot remember what it was.  I hope it was fun, ha ha!

Tuesday I worked on doing a monthly inventory of what food and household items we needed.  After dinner on Tuesday, Thomas had Young Men.  They were meeting at the church to go rapelling, so Dad and I drove him to the church.  I have no idea why we didn’t have him walk (probably because he was a bit late), but I wish we had, because after we dropped him off and said “hi” to the leaders and everything, I went to back out of the parking space, and we heard a loud “wham!” hit the side of the van, and then Thomas and the other boys were yelling “get off, gett off!”  I figured I’d run over someone’s foot, which I had, so  I drove forward a bit, we stopped the car and got out.  Daniel was laying on the ground, moaning.  He had been walking backward and had hit into the side of the van.  I’m still not sure how his foot got under the wheel, he must have turned around before I ran over it.  Anyway, Daniel’s dad is one of the leaders, so he was there, and between our dad and Daniel’s dad and the other leader, they tested the foot and decided it probably wasn’t broken.  It was hard to see Daniel in pain like that.  He was pretty brave, though.  They had Daniel walk around a bit, and then his Dad took him home.

I called their house a little later, and the first time, no one was home.   Daniel’s mom is a nurse and I was afraid that she’d found out that it may be broken after all and had taken him to the emergency room.  I called again, later, and the phone was busy.  When I went to call the third time, I was interrupted by a knock at the door, and there was Daniel’s mom and sister, whom I visiting teach, with beautiful roses in a vase for me.  Can you believe how compassionate, Matt?  They stopped to think about how I may have felt after running Daniel’s foot over and had come to comfort me.  They smiled and hugged and reassured.  Matt, I don’t know if I've ever felt so blessed in my whole life.  Their love and example mean the world to me.  I want to be like them.   I am still so touched that they would think to do that.  It is what the Savior would have done, I know it.

The next day, when Thomas and I went to check on Daniel and bring him a couple of candy bars, he came to the door using a cane, and with a smile.  Daniel worships the ground Thomas walks on and was thrilled to get a visit from him.  He told us that he’d gone to school (without the cane), survived just fine, and even walked home.  He was barefoot, and I could see no bruising or swelling.  Matt, if you had asked me about Daniel's before this all happened, I’d tell you the same thing I tell you now, they are some of the sweetest, most humble and kind people I know, and this experience has just served to drive home the point.  I am humbled to know people like them, and I am so glad that their boy was not hurt any worse.  I know Heavenly Father was blessing them, and I feel very unworthy to have been blessed so much, myself.

Wednesday was Katrina’s birthday, and she was pretty excited because she’d bought a comforter with her birthday money sometime last month and wasn’t allowed to use it on her bed until today.  She was so excited to try it in her new bedroom with her new chair.  It looks beautiful, by the way.  On Sunday Thomas and Miriam had given her a throw pillow for her new bed, and that looks awesome, too.   I delivered cupcakes to her before lunch so that she could share them with her friends, but I didn’t need to since one of her friends had baked some for her.  Still, in a lunchroom full of kids, you can never have too many cupcakes, right?  She also got birthday cards from Cassandra and Grandma, so in all, I think it was a good birthday for her.

On Wednesday morning I had a job interview.  I, once again, realized something that I could do better in an interview and that was to find out as much as I could about the job and tailor my interview to the needs of that job.  Matt, you may say, “Duh, everyone knows that,” and I guess I did, too, but knowing and doing are two different things since I am never quite sure how to get more info on a job.

But this time, Dad was familiar with the job and is good friends with the teacher I would be working under, so I called him and asked him to tell me everything he could about the job.  Dad was really excited about this job and told me I would love working there.  Instead of telling me much about the job, Dad gave me the phone number of an associate who’d worked in the same program for years, and that good man told me a ton about the nature of the job.

In the interview I concentrated the skills and understanding I possess that would make me good for the job.  When I finished interviewing, I still thought of things I could have said better, but I felt better about how I’d done than ever before.

Wednesday afternoon, I got a call from the district head of the special ed. Department telling me that I didn’t get the district job I applied for last week.  He said, however, that he had recommended me for the job I’d just interviewed for that morning.  That meant so much to me!  I had interviewed and interviewed, and interviewed, and until then had no idea how I was doing, and I appreciated getting that feedback, although I knew that a recommendation did not mean a job.

Thursday morning I got the job!  I asked them when they wanted me to start, and they basically wanted me immediately.  After I got off the phone, I dropped to my knees, scared to death.  After praying, I showered, dressed, went down to the district office to fill out papers, drove to the high school, got there at 10:00, and began my day. It’s such a nice high school, Matt.  You should see the kids in the halls, no PDA or bullying, respectful attitudes towards adults, and an unbelievable amount of kindness to the students I work with.  I think all high schools around here are like that, although I’m sure that they also have problems, some of which I’m sure to discover as time goes by.

 So, what is this job that I’ve been hired to do?  It is five days a week, from 8 till 1:45.  I am working as a technician in a class for moderately physically and mentally challenged students.  Our goal is to teach them reading, math, social skills, and basically help them have a happy and positive high school experience.  We also take them out in the community to teach them life skills.  They are such sweet students, although sometimes they struggle.  As a tech I help teach them, take them to lunch, drive them to places, and support the teacher.  I liked the teacher when I interviewed, and now I like her even more.  I also like the other aids that work there.  Mainstream-peer tutor students come in to help the kids, and are an amazing group.  I have thoroughly enjoyed my first two days at this job.

Matt, I feel very blessed to get such a job.  I feel like Heavenly Father’s hand was in it as I blundered and learned through all those interviews.  Another thing that makes me know His hand was in it was that I apparently applied for a different job at the high school than the one I got—a very demanding job and Dad knows a lady who’s been transferred there who cries every night because it is so physically and emotionally demanding and exhausting.  I knew all about the job from Dad and thought I had steered clear of it and applied for this one, but I did just the opposite.  Luckily the man from the district office recommended me for the one I got, so they pulled my application and interviewed me for it.  I hope that all made sense, Matt.  The gist is that I know Heavenly Father answered my prayers.  I also know that no job is perfect, ha ha.  I hope I can do a good job for them.

Thursday night, Dad went to Thomas’s game.  They were ahead at the end and let Thomas play.  He made a tackle and we are so happy about that.  The girls and I bought baby outfits for Preston’s new little sister and delivered them.  We had lots of fun being together.

Friday after work I put away some of the monthly shopping that had been left out when I had to go to work on Friday and I slept.  That evening Dad and Thomas went out on an outing, Miriam went to a college dance with her friend and coworker, Brooke, and Katrina went to the laundry to wash some clothes.  After we got the laundry in the washers, we went out to eat for supper, and afterward we dried and folded.  On the way home, we bought ice cream which Dad and I shared when he and Thomas got home around 9:00.  Miriam seems to have had a fun night with her friend, so I think everyone was happy.

Saturday, Dad and Thomas went on another outing out in the boonies and I did lots of house cleaning.  When I Dad and Thomas got back, Thomas went to a birthday party and the rest of us went to a movie.  It was Despicable Me 2, and I thought it was sweet and funny.

Katrina started throwing up around bed time and kept throwing up through the night.  Dad gave her a blessing around 1:30, and later around 3:00, I thought to do a search on the internet to see how to stop dry heaving (throwing up when there’s no food in your stomach), and I found out that Dramamine, a motion sickness medicine, inhibits the vomiting reflex.  I can’t remember anyone in the family ever taking Dramamine, but I said a prayer that we had some, went to the bathroom cupboard and dumped out the medicine container.  Close to the bottom, there it was.  I crushed it between two spoons and had Katrina lick a finger, pick up some powder and eat it over and over slowly till it was gone.  She was fine the rest of the night and hasn’t thrown up since.   I know it was a result of the blessing Dad gave her and prayer.

This morning I was supposed to go to the assisted living home and give a lesson, but I began to feel sick while writing this letter.  I was afraid that I wouldn’t be able to give the lesson, so I said a lot of prayers and sucked on lots of Pepto Bismol.  I was able to give the lesson just fine, with lots of silent prayers,  but after that, I was pretty much toast and wasn’t able to go to church.  Katrina and I laid here and watched Peter Pan, etc.  Now we are watching Little Women.  Katrina started feeling better and I was able to sleep off and on between stomach pain.  I never threw up and now feel much better which is how I can write this letter.  I feel guilty for staying home from church, ha ha, but not really because I felt awful.  I have every hope that I will be able to work tomorrow.  Katrina, however, seems flushed and bleary-eyed like she has a fever and she gets hot and cold and has a headache.  Weirdly, she’s not hot to the touch--maybe because she has wet hair from a bath.  I’m pretty sure she has a fever.  I hope she can go to school tomorrow, and so does she.

Tonight I think we are going to watch a CES fireside talk given by Elder Nelson, and I look forward to that.  In the meantime, Dad and Thomas are going to home teach the Jewels.   Wow, I’m not as “better” as I thought.  I probably should ask Dad for a blessing when he gets home.
Well, Matt, this was our week.  I want to get today because who knows how the morning will go.  Thank you for being an obedient missionary and for seeking the spirit.  I know that Heavenly Father is blessing you.  Please don’t get discouraged, Matt.  You are exactly where you are supposed to be and are doing exactly what you are supposed to be doing.  I love you with all my heart.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Sept 2--Email From Matt

I got sick this friday and saturday, but now I feel a lot better! Here's the proof: 
Elder Gramajo is standing behind me.

These are called sueros, they taste discusting, I had to drink a lot of them. They are like.... Hydrating drinks for people who are throwing up or have dierrea.
The taste is like... It's not like this but it's a good example:
Soda water, it tastes horrible alone, but with sugar and other artificial things it tastes pretty darn good. Suero is like. pure electrolites in the form of glucose. It's like gatorade, but without the flavering and a lot of base. a lot of base.

Thanks for your letter that you sent me! I'm doing well, I was sick but then I got better, thanks for fasting for me. I'm sure that the Lord really helped me more because of that! :) How is Mexico? Well it's still very hot here, but it's started to cool down. I'm almost sad to see the heat of the summer going. Almost. We don't have many investigators right now, but we are looking for them every where we can! It won't take too long if we are faithful because the Lord loves helping His children, we just need to be prepared to do our part in helping them.
Thank you for telling me a little bit about that experience! It's nice to hear that I was able to... Help? I say help even though I didn't do much :) I'm glad that the Lord cares about us too! :)

Finding new ways to find people to teach..... Well... No. Yes and no, a manner that we have already known about but now we need to start using. Members. Members. Members. We need to focus on finding prepared people through their member friends.
 The water, where did it come from? It rained. that happens every time it rains. I used to take a lot of things for granted, such as water pressure, and drainage.
Anyway, This week the highlight has been that I got sick.... It was not a fun experience, but I'm better now.

Ok, We had a conference with Elder De Hoyos, He's A member of the First quorum of the 70. It was very very good, and we are going to start working differently now. We are going to really start focusing in on Member Missionary work. That's what the Lord wants us to do now, and that's what we are going to do! :)
I feel like I need to be more in tune with the Lord, even after all this time, I feel like I'm still so distracted, inconstant and unreliable. I have a feeling that I'm going to feel like that all of my life. Even so, I know that He loves me, He is merciful and generous with my mistakes. That makes me want to serve Him even more.

Ok, sorry for the short letter. I hope that you are doing wonderfully well! Thank you for your prayers and for fasting for me!

Sept 2--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi.  How are you?  How is Mexico?  How is your companion?  How is your ward?  How are your investigators doing?  I hope all is well!  Thank you so much for the emails you sent last Monday.  It is so good to read about what you are doing; it always warms our hearts.

In your one email you said that you woke up at 12:20 am and had the feeling that Dad and I were very sad, and you said a prayer for us.  I just want you to know that was definitely the Spirit.  Dad and I were both awake and both sad and not understanding each other very well.  I had gone outside to be alone for awhile.  Not long afterward, he came out, and we both felt better and happier.  This was shortly after your prayer.  It is wonderful to us that you are so close to the Spirit and that Heavenly Father answered your prayer so fully. Thank you, Matt, for caring so much and being so in tune.  It also is wonderful that Heavenly Father cares so much about us!

It must be really challenging, with the new mission rules, to find investigators, but I am sure that the rules will help new members have friends and be fully committed to the gospel before they are baptized.  We have been praying as a family that you will find people to teach, and we know Heavenly Father will bless you.  Have you been able to discover new ways to find people to teach?  I hope so.

It has been a good week for us.  Monday I went to Elizabeth’s house and helped her do a few projects.  Actually, I just talked to her while she did them, pretty much.  It was fun to be with her and her little girls.  When I got there, Elizabeth was still getting ready for the day, and the girls were watching the “picture scriptures” in video form.  The first thing that little Mercy said to me when I came in was, “I love Jesus Christ.”  I told her that I love him, too, and that He loves us.  A little while later, she said, “I love Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ!”  It was very sweet.  She is only 2 and a half.

Monday I got to talk to Cassandra on the phone a lot.  She was at Walmart looking at fabric and also at some holiday decorations.  It was fun to talk to her about them.  Monday night, we worked on the basement a bit and also went for a drive as a family up Hobble Creek canyon.  Everyone was very talkative, and we had a wonderful time.  We got Slurpees afterward, which we enjoy doing because they don’t cost much and Dad can get one that’ sugar free.  We had had our Family Home Evening lesson Sunday night, so this was just a fun way to be together.

Tuesday I had a job interview and I also had one on Wednesday and one on Friday.  After the Tuesday and Wednesday interviews, I decided I needed to exude more confidence.  After all, my resume is obviously good enough to get me interviews, so I need to stop thinking I’m not what they need, and start being more positive.  The Friday interview went better because of that.  Thinking I may be away from home a lot working soon has sure made me appreciate being home more.  I really love it!

Wednesday wasn’t the best of days.  I got 5 boxes of tomatoes from Sister Peery and began making tons of spaghetti sauce and salsa, but they weren’t tasting so good.  Then the carpet guys came and put in the wrong carpet pad with the carpet, and also we ended up with a different color of carpet than I wanted.  It was all pretty disappointing.  Then I ended up spilling a bottle of cumin into the salsa and scorching the spaghetti sauce because I left it on too high when I went to take Thomas to gymnastics.  After that, I forgot to pick Thomas up after gymnastics.  When I finally remembered,  he’d been waiting an hour.  Katrina went with me to get him, and on the way there, I realized that the meatballs I’d made to go with the spaghetti sauce were still in the oven and had been there for at least two hours and were probably burnt.  The whole time we were driving, I was lamenting to Katrina about how late we were and how upset Thomas would be and the meatballs, and the fact that I wouldn’t have time to cook spaghetti noodles before we all needed to be at our various meetings, and that we wouldn’t be able to have family dinner together, and the carpet was wrong and the sauces were ruined, blah blah blah.  She is so sweet!  She told me over and over that everything would be okay and that it would all work out.  Even the fact that she was so sweet was so comforting, and she also turned out to be right.

When we got to Thomas, he wasn’t upset at all and had been having a delightful time discussing computer programming with a little genius that happened to be at the gym, too.  When we got home, the meatballs weren’t burnt at all.   With only a half hour before my meeting and young men and young women, Dad said that all good spaghetti sauce should be aged in the fridge a day before being eaten, and we went to Wendy’s and had a nice family meal there instead.  We even got to our meetings on time, pretty much.  Turns out, both the salsa and the spaghetti sauce aged wonderfully in the fridge and now taste amazing.   Lowes gave us $190 refund on the pad, so even though we are disappointed that we have the wrong carpet pad, we are a bit richer to make up for it, and the carpet color matches very nicely with our curtains and comforter.  I feel very blessed and humbled and am sorry I was so ungrateful.

Thursday, Elizabeth came over and helped me work on putting the bedroom together a bit, and also do some other projects.  Dad and I were going to go to Café Rio and get tamales together, but we had a miscommunication, so that didn’t happen which was very sad.  Instead, I ate outside in the back yard with Elizabeth and her girls, and that was fun.  She loved my salsa.   Thursday night we went to Thomas’s game which was really disappointing because they didn’t play Thomas at all.  He sure puts in a lot of work to warm that bench.  Still, I guess the bench is a pretty safe place to be.  After that, we had a late late dinner of delicious spaghetti and meatballs.

Friday, Cassandra and Lily called to Skype, but I had an interview.  Afterwards I couldn’t get a hold of them, so that was sad.  Instead, I worked on the house which was in an uproar because we are moving bedrooms around.  When Dad came home, he finished getting the wardrobes assembled, and we got all our clothes moved out of Miriam’s room.  She has since then organized it and it looks really nice.  Katrina’s room still has a ways to go, but she has big plans for it.  After Dad finished the wardrobes, we started our date.  First we watched a very cute Bing Crosby movie and ate ice cream, and then we moved our lazy carcasses and went to the Latino festival in Provo in search of tamales.  It was after nine, so they were out of tamales, but we got tacos.  We ate our delicious tacos and a fruit smoothie, listened to Mexican music, and thought of you, Matt.  It is nice to think that you are probably eating such yummy food all the time!

Today Dad and I are taking Katrina to a festival to watch two plays. Thomas works today, and Miriam is at class.  She will drive Thomas to work, and they plan on doing something together afterward.  I hope they have a nice time.

Now it is Sunday morning.  Yesterday was a nice day for us.  Dad, Katrina, and I went to the festival and watched the plays.  It was nice to have a bit of one-on-one time with Katrina.  The productions were very well done, although it was not as easy to understand what was being said in one as it had been in the other Shakespeare plays we saw there, and the other play had some inappropriate references which was disappointing.  Between plays, we drove to the mouth of a National Monument.  It was a beautiful drive, all misty and rainy.  On the way back, traffic was held up because of a mudslide, and only one lane of traffic could cross at a time.  Back in town, we were amazed at the number of police cars around and also noticed that there were tons of bikers with matching jackets.  We began to think that the two points of interest were related, and when I looked up the name on their jackets on the internet, it was obvious that we were right.  They are a rather unsavory motorcycle gang that periodically engages in criminal behavior.

I’m really glad we figured that out after we ate lunch at a delicious barbecue place since three of them were in line there while we ate.  Not knowing anything about them enabled us to enjoy our good meal in peace.  I ate a bit too much there, ha ha, and am glad it is fast Sunday today.   I kept in touch with Miriam and Thomas by phone, and they seemed to have a nice time while we were away, and I’m very glad they could spend the evening together.

The second play got out at almost 11:00 pm, and we didn’t get home until 1:40 am.  Dad drove the whole way home, as usual, and let me sleep.  I’d wake up periodically and asked him if he needed me to drive, but he always said he was fine, and to go back to sleep.  He knows I sleep very well at night, but not in the morning, and he wanted me to get sleep in while I could.  He is a very sweet husband, Matt.  He had to buy Coke and ration it out as he drove.  I think he wanted to drink enough to stay awake while he drove, but not enough to keep him awake when he got home.  I really appreciate being able to sleep like that.  Now it’s my turn to let Dad sleep.  Good thing we have 1:00 church!

Today I substitute in Nursery at church.  After church I have a meeting and after the meeting, around 6:00, we will eat dinner and celebrate Katrina’s birthday as a family.  Miriam and Thomas bought a cake mix and ice cream for the occasion, plus we will probably have to make a sugar free cake for Dad and a wheat-free cake for Dad.  Fun stuff, eh?   We have Monday, which is Labor day, off of school and work.  For Dad and Thomas, Labor Day will be just that—labor. Dad will work at the laundry and Thomas will work at the water park.  Katrina didn’t make the Shakespeare ensemble, so she plans to get together with Ashton to practice an dialogue, hoping to get on the Shakespeare team with it.  Miriam wants to go to a shopping village, so we might do that.  I hope we can all meet back up after Thomas’s work and go bowling or something.  We’ll see about all of that.  

Now it is Monday.  Yesterday’s celebration of Katrina’s birthday went well.  Miriam and Thomas gave her a throw pillow to go on her new bed in her new room.  We ate cake and ice cream, and I made Dad a little sugar free cheese cake which he really liked.  We all went around and told what we would get Katrina if we could give her anything.  Miriam said that she would give Katrina acting lessons with William Shakespeare.  I thought that was particularly creative and thoughtful.  Katrina is getting a new comforter for her bed, but not till her actual birthday on Wednesday.  We also had family home evening where we read from “Authentic Happiness,” and also a book on parenting.

Like I said before, we have today off, and we will see what happens with the day.  Right now it’s time to send you this email, Matt.  Thanks for the pictures you sent.  We are so happy to see the people your work had blessed.  I’m glad that Elder Gramajo took off his shoes in that flood, and I hope you did, too, so that you won’t get athlete’s foot from wearing wet shoes!  It you do, boric acid kills fungus.  It also kills cockroaches!  BTW, where did all that water come from?  Is that common?

I love you, Matt.  I fasted for you yesterday, and I hope you will find many people to teach!


Aug 26--Answering my question about Matt's Question

Well, because I woke up right about then and I thoght of you and Dad, I felt like you both, or one of you were unhappy, I felt like I wans't part of the unhappiness and I didn't know exactly why you were unhappy, and so I prayed for you and Dad. It was a novel and interesting experience. I anted to know if I had felt the spirit or was just crazy.

Aug 19--Answering Matt's Question

Hi, Matt.  What was I doing at 12:20?  I think I was outside in the back yard, thinking and praying.  At first, I was unhappy, but then I felt better and enjoyed the beautiful night.  Why do you ask, I am so curious!

Aug 19--Email From Matt

Blog Note:  Arrggghhh!  I just realized I haven't published this letter from Matt yet.  Here it is, now.  I suggest you read the letters in order by the date in the titles, first my letter then Matt's from the same day or close to the same day.  Sorry so confusing!

Why can't we contact on the street: you answered your own question haha :) :  "I have often thought that if we members would do our duty, missionaries wouldn't have to tract at all." We, as missionaries, are lazy. It is easier to contact someone in the street or knock on a door than involve the members in the finding process. With members it is a lot of work and it can be very hard, but, it is much better than street contacting and the converts that are found and fellowshipped by members usually stay active in the church.

What other "special" activities do we do? Well in los Cabos, we did teach English, but very few people came, I think that we would have worse results here, so we don't teach English, there are building here, Culiacán has 3 stakes and it's possible that in the future they might build a temple here. Unfortunately, there is not a line of people that want to tour our buildings here... haha so we don't give tours that much either.

How do we encourage the members to help us? Well the first thing we do is we check and see how their testimony is doing, if their testimony is struggling we invite them to read the scriptures and say daily prayers, personally and as a family. If their testimony is strong, we invite them to look for missionary opportunities, we invite them to pray for opportunities to preach the gospel and we ask them if they know someone that we can teach.

How is this area different than los Cabos? Well, here, it's older, more developed in some ways, and a lot more Mexican.... I really don't know how to describe the difference... Ok, over there, there are piles of sand and dust in the street and little to no vegetation, here, there are more trees, more garbage (well not more, just.... there's more mountained garbage) more pollution. but in both places, there is hardly any grass. NO GRASS!!!! nowhere. (Almost)

What have I been doing? Preaching the restored gospel of Jesus Christ. Juan, a 9 year old boy, got baptized. Now, almost everyone in his family are members. His dad's the only one who isn't a member. I felt honored when he asked me to baptize him. About your talk: Well, tell everyone that I love them, That they need to look at all the good work that they have done, give thanks and start working even harder.

I now have a question for you. This Friday night, Saturday morning (the 17th) at about 12:20am (I don't remember if the time zones are the same here.) What were you doing? thank you so much, it makes me very happy to know that everything is going well. I hope to hear from you this next monday. I love you!

Aug 26--Dear Elder

Blog Note:  I was supposed to publish this before the last post.  Sorry

Dear Elder,

Hi!  Thank you for your last email.  I know how busy you must be, and I’m so grateful that you take a minute and write a bit.  Thanks for telling me how you work with members in the ward.  How is that going?  I am glad that you were able to baptize little Juan.  How great must be your joy!  Sorry there is no grass.  It was that way in the Dominican Republic, too.  There were lots of beautiful tropical plants, but no grass.  Is Culiacan about the same temperature as Cabo?  I guess I could look that up myself, ha ha.  

Today is Wednesday, and the kids start school tomorrow.  They are all ready, I think except that Thomas wants another binder so that he can have one for a days and one for b days.  I think it is a smart idea.  Thomas starts gymnastics today and will be missing football because of it.  He also missed yesterday because of work.  That is not good, and he will have to do 5 monsters to make up for it.  Ask him what a monster is, because I’m not sure, ha ha.  It has something to do with lots of running.

Monday was a good day.  I can’t really remember  what we did during the day, but whatever it was, we survived to tell the tale, so it was a good day, right?  Monday night, we got to have family home evening.  Dad was going to be gone, and so I thought we wouldn’t be having it and almost let Thomas go play with a friend.  What’s with that?  Even if Dad hadn’t been home, the rest of us could have done something together.   Even when we realized that Dad would be home, I was going back and forth about whether or not we should let Thomas go.  Sometimes I really worry about my judgement, ha ha.  Anyway, we watched a video about the priesthood and the family, then we worked on sanding the baseboards and door casings downstairs, and then we read a conference talk.  It was wonderful.  All week last week I was praying that we could have family home evening Monday, and then I almost messed it up.  I’ve got to get more sleep so that I can think better, I guess.

Oh ya, also on Monday, Miriam, Katrina, and I started a detox which just means that we only eat unprocessed food for 5 days, and really try to control our portions.  Katrina and I went shopping for food Monday morning, and made dinner together.  The detox is going well.  It is a good way to bond with the girls, and that is what’s most important.  Any other benefit is extra.

Yesterday Katrina and I Skyped with Cassandra and Lily.  Lily has really enjoyed Skyping with Katrina lately.  It was fun to visit with them.  Lily sang for us, and ran around and around the couch for us, and said some of her favorite things for us.  They were very happy and that makes us happy.  I know we don’t get to Skype with Emerson much, but when he’s home, they concentrate on spending as much time together as possible, which I am glad of.  Have you been getting Cassandra’s emails?  She wasn’t sure.  Lily’s hair is getting really long, and she is going to be Princess Peach for Halloween.  Won’t that be  cute?

Last night, Dad and I went to Education Week.  We learned lots.  One thing that I thought you might be interested in, Matt was the following idea:  Some people hate themselves, and some people love themselves, and it is easy to think that those two things are opposites and that one is good and one is bad, but actually those two things stem from the same problem which is self-absorption.  Studies have shown that self-absorption in the form of self esteem is just as undesirable as self-absorption in the form of self-hate.  The opposite of self-absorption is self-forgetfulness and studies have shown that people who practice that are more productive and more happy.  It is when we forget ourselves and think about others that we find happiness.  Isn’t that what the scriptures have been telling us all along?  I certainly have found that to be true in my life. That does not mean I don’t take care of myself, it just means that taking care of myself is not my focus.  The more outward my focus becomes, the happier I am.  Good stuff, eh?

Now its Thursday. It’s kind of a hard time to be going to Education Week because this is a very busy week for Dad, getting ready for school to start, and he is hit with all these things he’s supposed to for his job and then he goes to Education Week and hears all these things he’s supposed to do for himself and his family.  It’s a bit overwhelming, I think.  He says he wants to keep going, though, and that he needs it, so we keep it up.  

Thomas liked his gymnastics class, but all the kids in it are pretty young.  He says he doesn’t care, but I wonder.  I guess the older boy who used to be in the class quit.  Why do I always start you guys into sports so late?  Remember soccer?  You stuck with it, though, and got pretty good.
Now it is Sunday and we are home from church.  It has been a good week.  Thomas and Katrina started school on Thursday and seem to like their classes okay.  Thomas is making the transition from junior high to high school, but I’m not thinking that it will be a hard one.  Anything is better than junior high, right?  Katrina has been doing homework for a month, already, and I think she’s happy to get going in earnest.   Miriam also started school.  Her first class was Saturday.  It was an art class and she said it was pretty easy which I am glad about since she has four classes in all, and is still working full time.   She has another class tomorrow night and then two more during the week. Tonight Dad is giving the kid father’s blessings to help them in the new school year.

Dad and  I finished out Education week, and are very glad we went although Dad is up to his ears in busyness.  He really wanted to go, and said it was worth it.  We took a parenting class, a marriage class, and a class on how the gospel brings us joy.  It was all basically about applying the atoning blood of Jesus Christ in our lives, our marriage, and our family.  It was really helpful.  

One of the things that have kept Dad so busy is painting the basement.   We finished it up late last night, and the carpet guys are coming Wednesday.  By the end of next week, we should be moved back into the new bedroom, and Miriam and Katrina should have their own rooms.  They can’t wait!  They never could agree on how to decorate their room, so it has remained undecorated through the years.  Now, Katrina is getting a new comforter for her birthday, and she bought herself a chair and ottoman, too, to begin decorating her room as soon as she gets it.  I hope they can keep their rooms clean because if they can’t, decorating isn’t going to help them much.

Saturday Dad went out metal detecting with a couple of guys from work.  They were gone most of the day, and he didn’t find any treasure, but I think he had a fun time.  Thomas was supposed to go in to work, but they called just before we left to tell him not to go in.   We went in anyway, because I had offered to drive another boy in for work, and Thomas came along so the boy wouldn’t feel awkward.  Miriam and Katrina came with us, too, and we stopped by my sister, Elizabeth’s after we dropped the boy off.  It was fun to see her and her family, and she told us about a garage sale she liked, so after we visited with them, we went to the sale, and that’s where Katrina got the chair for her room.  We stopped at our favorite treat place which is a Wendy’s/Seven Eleven/gas station close to Elizabeth’s.  We like it because those who like Frosties can get Frosties, and those who like Slurpees can get Slurpees, ha ha.

I gave a talk in church about you, today, Matt, and Katrina sang with some other kids from the children’s choir.  The song they sang was so beautiful, and it got me all choked up before I ever started talking, ha ha.  Anyway, I told the ward about Pablo, and I also talked to them about member missionary work because I thought you’d want me to, Matt.  I read to them some of the things you’ve talked about member missionary work, and I also referred to some of the things Elder L. Tom Perry said in his April 2009 General Conference talk entitled “Bring Souls Unto Me.”  In it he talks a lot about how important members are in converting and retaining new members.  He also tells a good story in there, Matt.  I hope you can read it.  I figured your successes and struggles along with Elder Perry’s authority and wisdom would be a good combination, and I think is was.  When I tried the talk out on Dad before, I could barely talk or express myself, but I knew that Heavenly Father would help me say what he wanted me to say, and I felt His help as I spoke.

Right now Katrina and Thomas are at a Standard’s night for the young men and young women of the ward, I just took a little nap, and now Dad is taking one.  It’s windy and cloudy outside which I hope means that it will rain since I don’t want to go out and water the plants, ha ha.  I hope you had a good Sunday, too Matt.

Today is Monday, Matt, and no job in sight, ha ha.  I still can’t help feeling relieved about that.  I think two of the jobs I’ve applied for are still open, but I’m not real hopeful about them.  The reason I say that is because they are both at the same elementary school, and I have a friend who works there, so I went to her house and told her I was applying.  We had fun talking, and she told me a bit about the jobs.  She also encouraged me to go to the school and introduce myself to the principle which ended up being as uncomfortable as I thought it might be.  Anyway, Matt, I said a prayer before hand, and I knew that it would go as well as Heavenly Father wanted it to, so I’m not too sad about it.  

Elizabeth just called and invited me over to work on some projects, so I think that is what I will be doing today.  I hope you are happy and I can’t wait to get your email.  I hope you are finding people to teach, Matt, we are sure praying for you to. 

Matt, I talked to you about service before, but I want to again because I feel so strongly about it.  Please look for ways to serve the people around you.  Maybe one of the special events you could hold is a ward service project for someone less active or who isn’t a member.  Maybe not.  I don’t know because I’m not there, but I hope that you pray about it because if you do, I’m sure Heavenly Father will help you figure out a way you can serve others.  You are a creative guy, Matt.  I know that if you use that strength to brainstorm some ideas, Heavenly Father will open your mind and pour ideas into it.  Remember to write them all down no matter how silly they seem.  Keep writing and writing whatever comes into your head and your companion’s, too, no matter how small and insignificant.  Then ponder on the list you made.  Remember to pray through the whole process. 
 I love you, Matt.  I know Heavenly Father is happy with you and that you are the right missionary in the right place at the right time to bring souls unto Him.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Aug 26: Email From Matt

This Is Pablo, Right After He Came Out of the Font

Hey Mom, I downloaded that talk and I'm going to listen to it during the week, we'll see what happens, We are going to think about what you said about service, there are many small ways that we can go about "doing good" but a special project could be just what we need right now to find more people to teach. Do I remember Soccer? Well yes I do. I have always asked myself if I was any good, and now that I'm in here in Mexico I now know that I am not good at soccer. Do you remember when I asked you the film the last game of the season? :)
A Picture to Make You All Happy

There have been 2 major changes in the mission and I think I might have written about one of them. One is that we shouldn't teach people here if there aren't members present and another is that if someone wants to get baptised, they need to attend sacrament meeting at least 5 times. That means that if someone is going to be baptized, they are going to be in a waiting process for at least 1 month and a week. wow.

Mom, I am so happy when I read your letters, they make me think of you all and they help me see the progress of the family, I loved hearing about the Monday experience about FHE and I'm happy to hear about the downstairs too! and everything else you wrote! I hope that you get the perfect job for you. I love you a lot and I appreciate the great effort and sacrifice that both you and dad make daily so that our family works :)
A Picture of Elder Gramajo.  He Took Off His Shoes, I Didn't...Ha Ha!

OK, I guess this part can go to the family in general. This week we have been struggling with finding people to teach, we have like 2 investigators, but both of them are really making some spiritual progress, one of them showed up at church this last week and wants to be baptised the 14th of September. His motives right now are because for his girl friend, but the last lesson that we had with him we got to ask him 2 questions: What would he do if he prayed to God and God told him that the LDS Church was wrong, and What would he do if his girlfriend dumped him. His answers were very telling. I think that he is progressing very well.

We visited the other investigator this last Thursday for the first time in 2 weeks. She has been taught by missionaries for like 3 months now and after our 2 week break she said that she feels really good when we visit her and that now she wants to be baptised, which is really cool and everything but she didn't come to church this last Sunday and has fallen off of the radar, we can't seem to get a hold of her.

I really hope that we can help them become more converted to the Lord and His gospel, because that's the real goal, not just baptism. Also a few members have really been helping us out, this Sunday a young matrimony invited their friend to come to church and she did. also Sister Bon, a single middle aged woman in the ward has really become the female investigator's friend. Sister Bon actually went over to her house this last Saturday and they read the scriptures together.

Other than that, I have been studying the scriptures and just been trying to be worthy of the Spirit's constant guide.

I hope that you keep on doing well, and I pray for you all a lot!! :)
-Elder Cole