Thursday, November 28, 2013

Nov 25--From Matt

We are teaching someone named Gregorio. Gregorio, is the best. He's 15 years old and was a member of an apostolic church. One of his friends, Oliver, is a member of our church and felt the need to invite Gregorio to church. We met with Gregorio one Wednesday and within two lessons he had a baptismal date. After we had taught him about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon, he decided to pray and ask if the book is true. Upon asking, he felt that it is true. The next day on Face Book he made a post on his Timeline saying: "I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints." Wow.
He is more excited than ever, and this Sunday he introduced us to his brother.
This is a perfect example of what can happen if we as members decide to actively share the Gospel with our friends and care for them. Keep on trying to help those who are around you! The Lord loves all of His children.

I'm so sorry for the short letter!!! Man, I don't know what's happening! I seem to be running out of time more often. Say thanks to grandpa for writing me! I love getting all of your letters! I love you mom and I hope that you are doing wonderfully good. Have a wonderful day and a wonderful week. I hope to hear a lot about the Thanksgiving celebrations!
I love you,

Nov 24--Dear Elder

Dear Cole,

Thank you for the wonderful letter.  Yes, it was short, but it was also powerful.  It means so much to me to read your words of encouragement, faith, and determination.  We read it to the family last Monday at the dinner table, but I hope that we can read it again together tonight (Sunday) and ponder and talk about what you said.

I am so glad that Nicole and all of the missionaries in the Philippines are safe.  What a terrible tragedy happened there.  Dad has been praying for the people there in every prayer he has given.  I have not done as well, but I will do better.  I have been praying for the young men and all the people that you are teaching.  I am sorry the one young man started drinking.  That is really heart breaking.  I’m glad for your successes, though.

Matt, you asked how I am doing, and I am doing very well.  I’m sorry if anything I said made you worry because I’m doing great.  Why have I not been getting much sleep lately?  For the same reason I haven’t been getting much sleep for the last decade—I’m a mom.  It’s as simple as that, ha ha.  Sometimes I wake up in the middle of the night because I realized or remembered something someone needs, and I can’t get back to sleep.  Sometimes I think that the Holy Ghost has to wait till the middle of the night to give me promptings because that is the only time I’m still enough to hear, ha ha.  Also, I am now getting old, and so I get tired earlier and earlier at night and wake up earlier and earlier in the morning, but with teenagers and night-owl Dad, I don’t get to bed any earlier.  Anyway, all of that makes for very little sleep, but don’t worry, Matt Heavenly Father blesses me, and I think things have been getting a bit better and hope they will continue to improve.

Speaking of waking up in the middle of the night with a prompting, that actually happened to me this week.  When I picked Thomas up from wrestling Monday afternoon, he informed me that he’d gotten hit on the chin and chipped three teeth during practice.  We were pretty concerned about the teeth, but nothing else.  Later that day, he told me about a “dream” he’d had while he was walking from the wrestling room to the bathroom to spit out the teeth chips.  He “dreamed” that he’d lost an entire tooth.  He was so worried about it, that he started looking around the ground for the missing tooth and asked some the other guys to help him search for it.  He told me about the dream to show me how tired he was lately.  I thought that was weird, and I told Dad, and he thought it was a bit weird, too, but it wasn’t till the middle of the night that I realized that Thomas had sustained a concussion.  Neither Dad nor I had thought about a concussion, because Thomas didn’t get hit on the head.  I really think it was the Holy Ghost helping me to realize what had happened.  The next day we had him checked, and, yep, he’d gotten a concussion.  He felt really nauseated and had a headache and stayed home from school for three days.

 The good news is that the dentist said the chips were only to the enamel and he was able to smooth it and give Thomas special toothpaste to use.  Also, he is feeling better now and is almost totally caught up on the homework he missed, so that is a real blessing.  When he couldn’t watch or play anything on screen, Katrina started reading “Rifles for Watie” out loud to him, and now he’s half way done with the book.  I don’t think he’s going to do wrestling anymore, but he’s still doing basketball, so that is good.  This will also give Thomas time to work on his cooking merit badge which he needs to have done before January.

Monday night (before we realized that Thomas should be resting because of his concussion) we went to see Katrina perform in Aida.  It was nice to have Miriam home from DC and there with us, too.  Katrina was one of the Nubian slaves, and she did such a good job!  Her face is so expressive.  Matt, she is a really good actress.  We really enjoyed watching the play, and Miriam took lots of pictures which I hope I can send you.  We gave her roses and bought her (and everyone else) ice cream to celebrate.  It was a wonderful evening.  Another play, Emma, is coming up, and Katrina is trying to convince Thomas to try out for it, too.  That would be nice.

Dad got to take a day off from teaching this week and go to see other GED programs in the state.  He had a nice time and got to eat some paella while he was there.  He said it was delicious.  He also said that he got a lot of good ideas about GED programs.  I’m glad he got a break from teaching.  He also gets to take off Dec 2, 4, and 5 for different meetings and conferences.  I’m very glad because he is kind of burned out.  I’m also glad that he gets to have a break for Thanksgiving.

Speaking of Thanksgiving, Matt, I hope you have a good one.  Good luck baking the pie.  I hope that it works out well and tastes delicious.  Say a prayer before you start making it, ha ha, but seriously. BTW, When we visited Yelapa on our cruise up the Mexican Riviera, a woman was selling pieces of pie on the beach, so I know that there is at least a little bit of pie baking going on in Mexico here and there.

I have been reading Jesus the Christ lately, Matt.  When you mentioned that you were reading it and asked me if I had read it, I decided to read it again.  I knew it would help me in my efforts to forget myself and remember Christ, standing as a witness of Him at all times, and it has.  I am on chapter 11, and I value the reading of it more than I ever have before.  This morning I showed Thomas how to download it onto his ipod, and he said that he is going to read it.  I really hope that he does.  You may want to encourage him to do it.

The women in our ward had the opportunity to make treats for the men working on the temple last week, so I signed up to bring some.  I made gluten-free chocolate peanut butter bars because, thinking of Thomas, I figured there might be a gluten-free worker who would appreciate having a treat that he could eat.  As I cut and packaged the bars, I thought about the women in the early church and of all the work and sacrifice that they gave to build temples.  Doing that little service made me feel close to them and increased my joy to know that another temple is being built on the earth.

Also this week I made a Thanksgiving snack mix and took it to visiting teaching sisters and friends with a little note telling them how I am thankful for them.  Emily and I did visiting teaching this week, and we also took Shana (the woman at the assisted living home) on an outing to do a bit of shopping at Costco.  Jon came over and talked to us, which I thought was nice of him, It was a good experience.  Dad also saw Jon on sat while he was getting a prescription there on Saturday.  He seems to be doing good.

Dad and I went out Friday night to a Latino restaurant.  We ordered tacos and tamales.  It was delicious!   On Saturday Dad and I took Katrina and Thomas on some errands and we had a very fun time driving around, shopping, and talking.  When we got home, I talked to Cassandra on the phone awhile.  They are happy, but busy.  Lily wanted to talk on the phone, but after I said, “Hi, Lily, How are you?”  she changed her mind, ha ha.  Later, Dad and I went out to get some dinner and then returned to watch a movie.  Today we had breakfast together as a family which was nice and then after church and home teachers, we went on a drive and got a treat at the laundry.  We also read the talk you recommended to Dad, Matt, and then Dad talked to us about trusting in God and honoring Him.  It was a very good family experience.

Well, that’s all, Matt.  I am so happy for Thanksgiving time.  We have a lot to be grateful for.  I am thankful for you and for all of our blessings.  I love you very much, Matt.  Have a wonderful week.


Nov 18--Letter From Matt

Hey Mom, I'm going to start this letter asking you something: How are you? What's been going on in your life? Why aren't you sleeping well? Is there something wrong?

The second thing is: Nicole was is a huge hurricane, I think it's safe to say that she, and many other missionaries in her mission, could have easily died. The Lord, in His infinite mercy saved every single missionary in the Tacloban, Philippines mission from dying. Just so you have a good idea of the damage, They had to close the mission down, because there's almost nothing left there. Tacloban, the city, was obliterated. Let's all pray for those who have survived.

Ok, well this week, something sad happened, a 17 year old boy that we are teaching started drinking. It's so sad to see things like that happen, but on the other end of the spectrum, another 17 year old boy who led a crazy life has started to come to church again. Opposition in all things. Stay strong all of you. Always read the scriptures and pray diligently. Recognize the great love that our Father in Heaven has for every single one of us. Act according to the love that you have for Him. Never, ever abandon Him, He will never abandon you.

"Sing, O heavens; and be joyful, O earth; for the feet of those who are in the east shall be established; and break forth into singing, O mountains; for they shall be smitten no more; for the Lord hath comforted his people, and will have mercy upon his afflicted. But, behold, Zion hath said: The Lord hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me—but he will show that he hath not. For can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee, O house of Israel. Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me."
-1 Nephi 21:13-16

He lives, He lives, He lives. I cannot, and will not, accept anything else. He loves us, He has given His life for us. I am honored to be able to represent Him, and I wish I could do it better. I strive daily to be able to.
I'm sorry for this unexpectedly short letter. I love you all, and pray for all of you.

Nov 17--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you?  Thanks for the letter you wrote us.  It was so wonderful to hear about all the people you are teaching.  The sister who has been getting people for you to teach is amazing!  You said last week was exciting, new, and sometimes disappointing.  In what way was it disappointing?  I'm sorry it is like that.  I'm sure it kind of comes with the territory, right?  I mean, you are a missionary for the Lord Jesus Christ, and He has filled you with His love, so it must be very disappointing and even heart breaking when someone you teach does not embrace the gospel.  This is how Christ, himself, feels, but I hope you feel the love of God and His approval of your work.

This has been a pretty good week for us.  Miriam is in Washington DC.  She said she enjoyed the marine ball, but they didn't take many pictures, which makes me really sad.  :(  I fasted two days for Miriam and it helped her be safe while she was there, and I hope that it also helped her to choose the right.  This morning she called us and told us she messed up on the return flight.  She thought her return flight ticket was for today, Sunday, but when she looked at the ticket today, she realized that she had accidently gotten one for yesterday, so she basically missed her flight since it was yesterday and not today, and had to buy another ticket.  May I just say that this trip has cost her lots of money!

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Katrina has been performing in the play the last two days, and we are going to see her as a family tomorrow night.  Last night I went after the play and took pictures of her.  Elizabeth was there to see her perform, and also a friend from Layton.  It was so nice to be there!  I can't wait to see it tomorrow night.

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Thomas has decided to sign up for city basketball, so with that, wrestling, and gymnastics, he's a pretty busy guy.  He got to hang out with friends yesterday, which is not something he has been able to do much lately.  They like to walk, and they walked to Jim's to buy food, and then checked out the game store and the thrift store which are now across from Jim's.  It sounds pretty fun to me.

I got to talk to Cassandra for awhile yesterday.  They seem to be doing good.  They've been out of town on a business trip for Emerson, and she said they had a lot of fun.  We talked about what I should get Lily for Christmas, and I am going to buy her a stuffed Kanga with baby Roo in her pocket.  Lily loves Kanga and Roo.  Emerson posted the cutest video of Lily jabbering on the cell phone non-stop for quite awhile.  It was pretty cute!  I wish they could be her for Thanksgiving.  It's good that Sarah and her family live close enough to visit so that they will have family to be with on that day.

Dad, Katrina, and I met in Provo for lunch yesterday, and then we went to Sam's club to see all the Christmas stuff and eat frees samples.  We would have gone and done that at Costco, but Katrina and I already did that before we met Dad for lunch.  Also on the way to meet Dad, we stopped at Jon's apartment for a minute.  It was nice to see him, and his apartment was nice and clean and smelled like cinnamon and other spices.  It was nice to spend some time with Katrina and then with Katrina and Dad both.

Friday, Dad and I went to a play at the university which we rarely do because we've been to some real stinkers there, and, yep, it was a stinka, but don't take our word for it because it won 2 Tony awards.  The acting, singing, and scenery were great--we just didn't like the play.  The story was dumb and the music was dull and repetitive.  Still, it was very nice to be out with Dad, and he bought me a pilgrim figurine at the  bookstore that I really like. Its a pilgrim couple, and they don't have any weird pictures on their skirts, and they don't have big feet or ugly faces, and they are not holding strange objects, just fruits and vegetables.  Their faces are beautiful and their clothes are authentic.

Dad is doing pretty good.  Work is stressing him out, as always, but he is really trying to trust Heavenly Father and have faith, not fear.  He has worked very hard to be home for family dinner time this week which is wonderful.  In fact, the Food Nanny came and talked to our stake about having family dinnertime and eating nutritious meals.  I feel pretty good about how we are doing at all that except I think we could linger a bit longer around the dinner table.  So this morning when we ate breakfast together, Dad and I had the kids stay at the table longer.  It was really nice.

I have been doing pretty good, Matt.  I could use a bit more sleep, a bit fewer calories, and a bit more consecration, but I am working on all that, ha ha.  I really want to be more of a disciple of Jesus Christ, but most of the time I fall pretty darn short. I am still trying, though.  This week I have gone to meetings, brought in food, and run errands.  Nothing real spectacular.  I am hoping that the coming week will be less busy and that I can do more good in the world.  I did try harder this week to reach out more to people, those I know and those I don't.  I can do better, though.  I am working on having the love of Christ always in my heart instead of the love of worldly things and idleness.  It is hard not to be idle when I am so often tired.  Tiredness also makes me want to eat too much food :)

I looked up La Cruz, Elota, Sinaloa on the map.  I couldn't zoom in much, though.  I guess the google truck doesn't drive there, ha ha.  I'm also not sure where Cuenta is, still, It was nice to get a bit of a look at where you are.  Say "hi" to your companion for us, and have a wonderful week.  I love you so much, Matt.  You are doing such wonderful work for the Lord!


PS  Matt, PS, I was talking with Jared's mom after sacrament meeting, and she shared an excerpt of one of his letters with me.  In it he mentioned a letter I sent to him (it was the Relief Society's turn to write letters to the missionaries, so I wrote to him and all the others out on missions in the ward).  I actually still have the letter I sent, and this is the part Jared referred to in his letter,

 "A couple of weeks ago, I spoke in church about Matt's missionary work, and centered my talk on members being missionaries. I did this because in Matt's area (Culiacan Mexico), they are only allowed to teach people referred to them by the members.  This, as you can imagine, really helps the newly baptized members have the support they need to stay true to the gospel their whole lives."

Jared said in his letter to his mom that this idea inspired him and they began including the members in finding and teaching investigators.  He said it is really helping the work.  So there you go Matt, you are even blessing the lives of people in Nicaragua!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Nov 11--Letter From Matt

About the package, I make no promises! Ah,hahahaa! No I'm joking, of course, I wouldn't want you to feel bad or anything like that. Of course I'll wait.

Haha, Mom,  I am not where near puerta vallarta. You should be able to see Culiacán to the north, and Mazetlán to the south. Ceuta is to the left of la cruz, crossing they highway, it's a little tiny village, it's a nice place. You were in the state of Guadalajara. I'm in the state of Sinaloa. haha :)

I do remember those games and I thougth it was funny that you explained them out to me (as if I wouldn't remember your favorite paper games) but I'm glad that you did :)

I also liked the pictures that you sent and the sneak peeks of the new kitchen, I guess it isn't that new for you guys now. haha :)

This week was both exciting, new and, sometimes, disappointing. We went to Ceuta a lot this week, we are actually planning on going there every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, Which basically means that we aren't going to be working much in La Cruz. We met a lot of new people and there are way too many people to write about every single one of them. Therefore, I will only write about a few of them. The first is not actually a person that we are teaching, She is a member. Her name is Lidia, She has been a member for about 2 years now and she is a mini missionary! She is from Ceuta and is actually an influential person there. She grew up there, raised her family there and presently works and lives there. This last Thursday she spent most of the day visiting friends and acquaintances to ask them if they would like to recive a visit from the us, the missionaries. The woman has a gift. She's the owner of a small café and she has filled all of our afternoons in Ceuta with appointments to go visit families. Some of the people that we visit aren't really interested and don't want us to come back, some are interested and some actually start coming to church! It is such an exciting feeling.

We are teaching Reyes, he's about 14 years old. We are also teaching to his sister. Reyes is very smart and really understands when we teach him. That's about all I know about him. His sister seems to be less interested.

We are also teaching José. He is a 30ish year old married man and has two kids, and despite his family he hasn't seemed to grow up, he still dresses and talks like a teenager, but he is really an awesome person that watches out for his family and does his best to take care of them.

Our mission president came here to visit us, We had a meeting for all of the recent converts of our district (we aren't a stake yet) and I was proud to see that more than half of them were from our branch. I know that we can keep on growing here. I really feel the love that the Lord has for all of His children. I know that He wants to bless them.

I'm excited to work this week there are new people.
Well my writing time has run out. I love you all. I hope that this week is a wonderful week for all of you.


Nov 10--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,
I’m so glad that I get to write a letter to you today, and that tomorrow I get to read your letter!  I hope that you had a wonderful week last week.

We ordered you a Christmas package last night.  It’s not much, but we enjoyed picking out what would go in it, even though the choices were limited, and we hope you like it.  PLEASE when you get it, don’t open it till Christmas.  There is nothing perishable in it, which means there’s nothing all that exciting in it, but I really want you to have something that you can open on Christmas day to know your family loves you, so please save it till then, okay?

We went off daylight savings time last week, and I miss it.  I wish we could keep it all year round.  Now it gets dark an hour earlier, around 6:00.  Poor Dad gets home after work and gets no free time in the daylight.  I know why we go off it, though, because if we didn’t, it would be dark at 7:00 in the morning when kids are trying to get to school, and that would be bad.

At first the dark is kind of nice, though.  A couple of night ago after dinner, we all sat in the living room and played what I call “Head Shoulders Knees and Toes” and “Captions.”  Head shoulders knees and toes is the game where each person folds a blank piece of paper in thirds, draws a head on the first third, gives it a first name, folds it so the head is covered and only the middle third of the paper is showing and then passes it to the next person who draws the torso and gives it a middle name, and then folds and passes it to a third person who draws the legs and feet and gives it a last name.  Our favorite  one ended up being called “The Wicked The Stick” and had a witche’s face and a stick for legs.  I can’t remember what the torso was.  We mostly liked it’s name.  Captions is where each person writes a phrase or sentence and then passes it, the next person illustrates the phrase, the next person sees only the picture and writes their own caption, the next person sees only the new caption and illustrates that, etc until you decide to quit and look at all the pictures and captions.  Remember those games?  Playing them was a really fun thing to do as a family.

Yes, I have read “Jesus The Christ.”  It is a wonderful book, and maybe I need to read it again.  It’s been a long time.  Lets see here…yep.  I can get it free on my phone.  I now have a copy I can read any time I want.  Thanks for asking me, Matt.  I hope reading it will help me be more like Him.  I really am not very good at it, or at inviting others to come unto Christ.   I need to change my priorities, and my heart.  I really want to change.  BTW, make sure you read the endnotes after each chapter in Jesus The Christ.    They are so interesting, I really enjoyed reading them, too.

I am so glad that everyone survived the tropical storm.  La Cruz seems like an interesting place.  Is it called La Cruz De Huanacaxtle?   I got on maps and “walked” along the marina.  I saw some type of town square with a yellow and white arch.  I also “walked” along the beach and saw a horse, ha ha.  I wanted to look a bit farther into town, but I’m not very good at navigating the map, and I don’t want to take up all of my letter writing time doing that, ha ha.  It was funny what you said about Cuenta being a leaf.  It sounds like a wonderful place, and I am so glad that the children like and help the missionaries!  Sorry, Google maps doesn’t know where Cuenta, Mexico is, ha ha.  You are very close to Puerto Villarta, aren’t you?  I’m so glad you are planning to write more about the people here.  I am looking forward to reading it!

Thanks for what you said, Matt, about Heavenly Father’s love always being there.  I let Him down so much, and I feel so bad sometimes I’m so disappointed in myself that I give up just a bit for awhile, but your words remind me that Heavenly Father loves me and will help me.  His love is always there for me, so I want to learn to be always there for Him.

I have been losing lots of sleep lately, Matt, and it makes it very hard for me to function well, but I am hanging in there.  It is 9:30 on Sunday morning, and I hope to wake everyone soon to have breakfast together.  Won’t that be nice?  After church I have meetings, so it will be good to spend time together before church.  I hope it works out.

Yesterday was nice.  Thomas was at a camp out till about 2:00.  They camped out at the turkey shoot.  Thomas got a respectful score in shooting and got a candy bar which he gave to Garred who Thomas says shot better.  Katrina practiced the play till around 2:00.  I tried to catch up on sleep from 10 til 12, and while I was asleep, Miriam cleaned the upstairs!  I came up fully expecting to spend at least a half hour cleaning and doing dishes, but it was entirely done.  What a nice surprise!  Dad got home from the laundry around 12:30, and he and I invited Miriam to drive an hour up north  with us for lunch, but when she found out we wouldn’t  be doing any shopping there, she politely declined.  Dad and I had a nice hour-long drive, and a nice lunch.  After we ate, we walked up main street, past the stores, and enjoyed looking at the houses.  We kept walking up until there were no more houses, just pine trees.  It would have been fun to walk farther, but the road turned to gravel at that point, and it was muddy, so we just looked at the stream at the side of the road where it ran into a culvert, and then walked back down.  It was a perfect walk on a beautiful day, and we really enjoyed ourselves.

When we got home, we went to Costco and bought a mattress as well as other things and we also got to see Jon, which was nice.  He was pretty busy, though, so we didn’t talk to him much.  Back at home, we cooked the fun food we bought at Costco and ate it and watched “The Carol Burnett Show” on dvd as a family.  The kids liked her version of “Gone With The Wind” much better than the real thing, ha ha.

That is all that’s been going on, really.  I feel very blessed by Heavenly Father in so many ways, Matt, and I feel very undeserving.  I know He is leading and guiding us despite our weaknesses.  Have a wonderful week, Matt, and tell me lots of stuff about La Cruz and your week, etc.  I love you!  Thanks for the example of consecration that you are to us!


Nov 4--Letter From Matt

Thanks for all the pictures!

Thanks for your letter Mom, I hope that you're doing well. I'm glad to hear about all of your Halloween activities! Man that sounds fun haha, Here, we were in a little village on Halloween night until like 9:00pm, we have daylight savings here too, so we got an hour more too, but I don't like it because it's pitch black at night haha :) But, it'll change back too soon, so I'm not going to complain. You keep on working on your goal to remember the Lord Jesus Christ more, that is such a wonderful goal! I'm going to try and do it more too :) Have you ever read Jesus the Christ? I'm reading it right now in our down times and it's excellent. How are you doing with being a missionary? Keep on going! You can do it! haha :)
I did get to pull out all of the money in my account.

This week was my first week in La Cruz, it was a fun week, and was finished off by a tropical storm yesterday! (Don't worry nothing happened and everyone survived) We are working in half of La Cruz. Another pair of missionaries work in the other half. It's only a branch here, but we hope that our district will be able to grow into a stake this next year. The branch here has an extension in a small village that's called Ceuta.  Ceuta is about 5 miles out of town and doesn't have a branch, it's just an extension of a branch, so I guess you could call it a leaf. Ceuta is a farmer's village, a lot of people that work harvesting and planting live there in large complexes owned by the contractors. There are also houses that are owned by people and not by the farm companies. It is a wonderful place and everyone knows everyone there. Many members that have been inactive are re-activating themselves because they can now attend closer to home and in a time schedule that doesn't interfere with their work.

When we go to Ceuta there are some kids that always follow us around and ask us to throw them up in the air and try and race us everywhere. It's charming and they help us find people to teach.
I still don't know the people that well yet but I'm sure that this next week I'll be able to write more about the people, 

I love you all and I hope that you are all doing wonderfully well. Keep on going, the Lord is with us every step of the way and He loves us more than we can imagine, I have felt that love when I feel totally spent and out of ideas, I have felt that love when I've made a mistake and am asking for forgiveness, I have felt that love when I am lonely and without support, I have felt that love in unexpected ways and on unexpected occasions. I know He loves us. I can't doubt it now. I never want to turn away from that love. Like president Monson said: "It is simply always there." I pray for you always.

Nov 3--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

It was exciting to hear that you are now a zone leader, and I am also glad that you are not in Culiacan any longer.  I hope this little town is safer.  Is it?  I am so glad that the little girl is okay after being run over.  That is such a wonderful miracle!  Say “hello” to your new companion for us.  How is the work going?  Tell us lots more about what’s going on with you.

If you make pie, make sure that the squash it cooked nice and soft.  You don’t want it hard at all or you will have yucky tasting lumps in it.

We had a very nice week this week.  I told Dad that we needed a fun meal to eat in honor of Halloween, and after putting his great brain to work, he came up with the idea of chili, cornbread, and salad for dinner and apple crisp for dessert.  It turned out to be a fun and delicious meal, and we saved the dessert for after pumpkin carving.  Sometimes things like pumpkin carving seem not worth doing because the kids are so old, and they are not very into it, but I have been realizing lately that ignoring traditions is not a good idea.  I am sorry that we didn’t do madlibs at birthdays this year and that we didn’t take kids out for their birthdays, either.  I want to start traditions up again.  I know that they are important to family unity.

 Anyway, Dad cleaned out all the pumpkins, and Thomas got a pattern for a witch pumpkin carving off the internet.  He worked very hard on his pumpkin, and I will include a picture of it for you.  I had Dad get out the power tools and made a moon on our pumpkin with a dremmel tool, and then Dad drilled holes of different sizes streaming out from the moon.  It was fast and fun.  The girls weren’t as in to carving their pumpkins, but doing it really put them into the Halloween spirit, and they got out the costume box and rummaged around in it till they each found a costume.  Katrina chose to be a samurai, and Miriam decided to be a fairy.  After we were done, we ate the apple crisp with ice cream on top which was delicious, especially because we had apples from the neighbor’s tree to use.  It was a very fun night, and I’m glad we did it.

On Tuesday, the Church broadcasted a 100 years of scouting event live from the conference center which Thomas, Dad, and I attended.  It was really cool, Matt.  It had those log towers that scouts lash together on either side of the stage, and it started a flag ceremony that had scouts rappelling down from the ceiling.  It was pretty cool.  My favorite part of the program was when they had lots of little cub scouts come on stage to sing the National Anthem.  The program recounted the history of scouting and highlighted some of the most important aspects of scouting in fun way with lots of music.  They sang a cute song to the moms.  The chorus said, “Ma, you earned your Eagle.  No one can disagree.  Ma, you earned your Eagle, but they gave the badge to me.” It was really cute.  The BSA presented President Monson with an award, too.  It was all pretty cool.

Wednesday night we did a Stake harvest activity for the young men and young women.  I started doing decorations for it at 5:00 and worked with the other leaders till the activity started at 7.  I will send pictures.  Each ward had a booth for the kids to do activities, and they got root beer floats to eat.  Our ward did a photo booth which I thought was a great idea.  I wondered how they would get the pictures to everyone, but they just took the pictures with the kids’ own phones.  Genius.  We also had a DJ, so after the booths, those who wanted to could dance.  Katrina seemed to have lots of fun, and Thomas did too, I think.  It was worth all the work.

Thursday was Halloween.  At work we had a Halloween party in every period.  We showed two movies and fed the kids root beer floats, popcorn, and pumpkin pancakes with syrup and whipped cream.  It was a really fun day.  Miriam wore the fairy costume to her work, and I got to see her in it because I stopped by there after my work.

After work I went to Costco and, along with my monthly shopping I bought mini tacos and sweet potato fries for everyone to eat before their Halloween activities.  While at Costco, I saw Jon who had just gotten off work, and we talked for quite awhile.
When I got home, Dad was home early which is unusual and so nice.  He had some work to do for school, so I visited with Jon who’d come home for awhile.  He and Thomas hung out and ate mini tacos and sweet potato fries.  Jon helped Thomas spray his face and hair black as night with black hair spray the way you used to and then after Jon went home, Thomas put on all black clothes so he couldn’t be seen in the dark and then went to the Taggs to be in their haunted house.  He enjoyed scaring people who couldn’t see him.  After dressing up, Katrina left for Ashtyn’s Halloween party.  She was a bit hesitant because she wasn’t sure about what kind of scary movie they would be showing, so she warned us that she may be coming home early.  Turns out that they were having so much fun talking that they didn’t show a movie at all.  She had a fun time.

Dad and Miriam and I had such a nice evening at home!  First, Dad and I sat on the bench outside and passed out candy to all the little kids who were trick or treating.  It was fun to see the costumes and visit with the neighbors.  Sylvia and Kellie were out on their doorstep, too.  The weather was perfect, and it was a fun, neighborly thing to do.  When it got dark, Dad and I went in and we watched a movie and ate ice cream with Miriam.  It was a cute, funny movie that made us laugh a lot.  It really enjoyed it even though we had to keep jumping up and answering the door to hand out candy to trick-or-treaters, ha ha.

Friday, Dad and I went on a date.  We started out buying tamales at a place owned by the parents of one of our peer tutors at school.  They were delicious, but HOT!!!  After the first couple of bites I couldn’t taste anything anymore, ha ha.  Dad and I each snarfed up three of them and then went on a date where we walked around some gardens which I really loved.  Then we watched a movie.  There are lots of good movies out right now which is nice.  We ate a huge bucket of popcorn and then after the movie we got our free refill to take home to the kids, but only half of the bucket was full by the time we got home, ha ha.  After that we had fun eating ice cream and making fun of the old movie on Sci Fi Friday.  It was so fun to be with Dad!  The kids had a good time, too, I think.  They also had ice cream along with left over sweet potato fries and the movie that they didn’t get to see with us on Thursday.

Yesterday was Saturday, and Thomas was dreaming peacefully when the subject of wrestling came up in his dream, and he jumped straight up out bed.  He was supposed to be at his wrestling coach’s house at 8:30 that morning to pick up potatoes to sell for a fund raiser for the wrestling team.  Luckily, it was before 8:30, and I got him there on time and also Katrina on time to play practice.  The coach said every boy was expected to sell at least ten 50 lb boxes of potatoes, so Thomas got ten loaded up in our van.  I was not very happy about it, imagining having to keep the potatoes and pay the $200 ourselves if they didn’t sell.  I left for the church to do crafts with the women of the ward and told Thomas to go door to door and not to come back till he sold all his potatoes.  But when I got to the church, I realized that everyone was there instead of at home, and no one would be around to buy Thomas’s potatoes, so I had him come over to the church and let the ladies know he was selling potatoes.  From that he got 8 orders, and was able to get 2 more after that, so the potato fiasco wasn’t a fiasco at all.  Like I told Thomas, potatoes are pretty cool.  When you guys were little, if I was low on money for the week, I’d buy a big bag of potatoes and serve them all week in the form of mashed potatoes, baked potatoes, scalloped potatoes, potato soup, fried potatoes, etc.  No one’s going to go hungry with potatoes around, ha ha.

I had fun doing crafts at the church, and Miriam came over after awhile.  She wanted to go shopping with me, so she helped me by finish making a candy cane wreathed while I finished the greeting cards I was making.  After that we went shopping.  Miriam ordered an evening gown online, and it came on Thursday.  Luckily it fit and looks great.  It is a long black Ralph Lauren gown with long sleeves and rhinestones on the shoulders.  Anyway, we were shopping for shoes and accessories, but after looking around she decided to wear shoes she already has and no jewelry.  We also ate at Subway which was fun.

Dad worked most of the day and also went to Salt Lake to see about selling some stuff to his friend, Ray.  At dinner time, the kids bought themselves Wendy’s and we had a nice time sitting around the table visiting while they ate.  Now we are all fasting for fast Sunday.  This morning, Dad, Miriam, Katrina, and I went on a drive before church.  We left Thomas home because they always want his help to collect fast offering.  It was snowing on our drive—the first snow of the season.  We drove up the canyon for awhile before we headed back home to get ready for church.  When we got home we found out that Thomas was there the whole time because for once they hadn’t needed him to help out the Deacons.  I was sad that we hadn’t taken him, but I think he was happy because he had promised Katrina earlier that he wouldn’t play Christmas songs until December, but with her gone on a ride, he could play Christmas songs through the house and watch it snow.

During church, Cassandra and Emerson tried to Skype with us, but I had to tell them we were in church.  We were really sad to have missed talking to them.  They wanted to try and Skype later, but I guess it didn’t work out.  I’m hoping we can Skype during Family Home Evening tomorrow.  That would be so great!  I got to Skype with Cassandra and Lily on Friday, and Lily waved around her wand with a star on the end and sang “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” to me.  She also got real interested in a dead bug she found in the corner.  She is so cute!  Cassandra says she hasn’t gotten any emails from you.  Have you written her?  Could you write even a short one to let her know you get her emails?  That would be awesome.

Now it is Sunday evening.  It feels very late, but it is only 7:16 because we are now off daylight savings time so it got dark an hour earlier than last night.  Yuck.  We have to go off it every year, though, or the kids would have to walk to school in the dark during the winter.  We may not be the same time as you anymore, either.  We had a nice family home evening and read from Grandma Haws’s life history in honor of her birthday which was yesterday.  Yesterday we and Elizabeth’s family gave her flowers which Julie and her kids delivered for us and we also sang “Happy Birthday” to her as a family over the phone.

Work has been going well.  I love my job!  I work one-on-one with a couple of students, and being a mom of teenagers really helps me relate with them and enjoy teaching them.  I also did monthly inventory on our food and household items and did most of the monthly shopping.  It’s quite a big production, but this month was easier for some reason, which I am very grateful for since I have less time these days.

  I get Wednesday off of work and so does Katrina, but not Thomas or Dad.  I’m going to call Elizabeth and ask her if she wants to do something with me and Katrina.  That should be fun.   I am trying to remember Jesus more, and reach out to other people, but have not done as good a job at it as I committed to do, and so I am sad about that.  I will keep trying, though.  I hope that you have been able to do lots of good things and I look forward to hearing about them all.  You are in our thoughts and prayers, Matt.  We love you!


Oct 28--Letter From Matt

Thanks for the instructions on how to make pumpkin pie. I'm going to see if I can do it this thanks giving. You sent me everything I need, If I an do it I'm sure that it'll turn out great.

Yes, I have been getting Cassandra's emails, actually I got one today :)
Yes I did notice the tree :) It looks very good, I like what you've done, good job.

Ok, I have some news, I got transferred, I'm in a little town called La Cruz I'll be serving here as a zone leader. I'm very excited for this new chance to serve the Lord and His children. My new companion's name is Elder Gonzales, he is from Colombia. This is going to be his last transfer before he goes home, so I'm hoping to learn a lot from him.

Anyway, we had a mix up on the way here, the leaders of the mission hooked everything up so that, Elder Orton and I could get on a bus, and that on the way to Mazetlán, they were going to pick up an Elder in La Cruz, and that they were going to drop me off. What really happened is that we both missed the stop at La Cruz and ended up having to get off in another tiny town and wait for a bus to pick us up, go back to La Cruz and then drop me off and pick up the other elder.... sheesh.

I'm really sad that we had to leave Culiacán, I say we because Elder Gramajo was re-assigned to the mission offices. He is going to be the new secretary of resources.

This past Thursday, one of the children of the Barraza Rangel family, got hit by a truck (a personal truck, not a commercial truck) the truck hit her, knocking her to the grown. The driver saw that he had hit a small girl, and thinking that he had killed her, sped up to get away, running over her legs. She did not die. Her family drove her to the hospital and after the doctors checked the damage, they discovered that neither of her legs were broken even though the tires had left black marks as the man sped off, proving that the truck had in fact, driven over her legs.

We saw her walking this Saturday, she was using a neck brace to protect her bruised neck, and she had a lot of road rash on her legs, and a huge black eye, but other than that, she was, and is, ok. What a kind act of mercy from our Lord. I was devastated to hear that she had been run over, but, when we were able to see her, it was truly a miraculous experience.

well I think that's about all for this week. I'm a little tired, but I feel well, I hope that you are all doing good! I pray for you all and I love you all!


Oct 27--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Let’s put first things first and talk about pumpkin pie, ha ha.
You can use the same recipe I sent you, but use 3 ½ cups fresh pumpkin instead of the canned pumpkin in the recipe.
First, you need to buy a pie pumpkin which is smaller and a bit darker than the ones we use for jack-o-lanterns.  For even better flavor, you can use a butternut squash which may be easier to find anyway.  One website says that butternut squash is translated to zapallo anco or calabaza sidra
Here’s an easy way to prepare pumpkin or squash for pie.  (It takes about an hour, but you can cook it while you study, etc):
Cut the pumpkin or squash in half lengthwise; remove stem and scoop out the seeds. Place it, cut side down, on a foil-lined oiled baking pan; add about 1/2 cup of water to the pan. Cover loosely with foil and bake at 400° for 45 to 55 minutes, or until the squash is tender and can be easily pierced with a fork (pumpkin might take less time than this). Let cool completely then peel and mash or puree it or put it through a food mill until there are NO lumps.
You will need 3 1/2 cups for the recipe I gave you last time, which makes 2 pies.  If you want 1 pie, cut the pumpkin pie recipe I gave you in half.
Do you need a crust recipe?  If you can buy one in the freezer section, it will be much easier, but in case you can’t, here’s one.
 4 cups all-purpose flour
 1 3/4 cups shortening
 3 tablespoons white sugar
 2 teaspoons salt
 1 egg
 1/2 cup water
In a large mixing bowl, combine all-purpose flour, shortening, sugar, and salt. Blend together with a pastry cutter or clean fingers until crumbly.
In a small bowl, mix egg with water. Blend into flour mixture. Divide the dough in half and roll each half into a ball.  Chill in refrigerator until ready to use.
Place ball of dough on a clean, floured surface.  Dust rolling pin and ball of dough with more flour.  Roll from center of dough to edge until flat.  Dough should be about 1/8” thick and will be much bigger than a pie pan.  Fold rolled out dough in fourths, and place in pie pan with point of dough in center.  Unfold.  Mold to pan, trim excess dough (there should be lots of excess dough).  Pinch dough up along edge so pumpkin mixture will stay in the pie.  Pour in pumpkin mixture and bake according to recipe directions.

Hope this helps, Matt.  Do you know how to make whipped cream?  If you can buy it, do that.  If not, here is a recipe.  You need an electric mixer to make it.  You can also make it with a wire whisk and lots of work, but you cant make it with a spoon.

 1 cup heavy cream
 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
In a large bowl, whip cream until stiff peaks are just about to form. Beat in vanilla and sugar until peaks form. Make sure not to over-beat, cream will then become lumpy and butter-like.

It was good to read about all of the people you are teaching, and I am praying for them that they will be receptive to your message.  I like the idea of teaching the one family in a member’s house to lessen distractions.  Really, I like that idea for all of you investigators because getting the members involved will strengthen the member’s love for the investigators and help them stay active.

I hope that your companion’s mom is okay.  Is it a chronic illness or something she can get over soon?  I will pray for her.

I imagine that Tanner’s email address is the same as yours except with his name instead.  Try it and let me know.  You can probably email any missionary you want as long as you know his first and last name, unless it is a very common name and then you may have problem.  BTW, have you been getting Cassandra’s emails?

Ya, the house is empty often these days, so I really cherish the times we have together like this morning when we were all in the kitchen eating breakfast together.  Those are really times to cherish.  Yesterday we were also together for dinner which is nice.  We heard that the all-you-can-eat pizza place had gluten free pizza, so we went there for grade rewards.  It was fun to be together although I shouldn’t have eaten as much pizza as I did, ha ha.

Yesterday morning I had a nice time cleaning up the yard with Thomas.  We cut down the holly hocks and the other big flower bushes we had growing along the shed, and got rid of the vines growing in the front of the house and the tomato bushes in the back.  I even raked the front lawn.  Dad was at the laundry, and Katrina was taking the ACT.  I sure hope she got a good score.  She probably did.  When Dad got home, we loaded up all the stuff and Dad and I hauled it off.  All in all, it was a pretty nice day.

The kids and Dad had Friday off school.  Dad and I went out for lunch and also walked around the tabernacle.  They are adding a big spire to the top right now.  They have the steel supports for it in place.  It is fun to watch the building of it.  We also talked to four missionaries who had an awning set up for people who have questions about it.  It was fun to visit with them for a second.  The other temple is really coming along, too.  The exterior is now done, and the Angel Moroni is on the spire.

After that, Dad and I went home to take a nap and then went to the temple and had a wonderful temple experience.  We ate dinner together, too.

Yesterday Thomas hung out with a boy named Brandon and on Friday he hung out with a friend named Brian.  He had his last game on Thursday, but didn’t play.  He is probably going to do wrestling next, which should be nice.

Katrina has been doing play practice so much that she has cancelled her piano and voice lessons till December which is probably a good idea.  She had a harder time in school this term and may have actually gotten a B.  She sure hopes not!  Thomas is hoping that he got all A’s, although things were looking a bit iffy by the end.  The term ended Thurs, btw, which is why we had Friday off.  Miriam says school and work are going well for her.

I haven’t heard much about Miriam going to DC lately, although I know she is still planning to do it.  She doesn’t have a dress, yet.  She’s ordered one, though, and I sure hope it’s the right size and that she likes it, because I think it will be to late to order another size by the time she gets it.  Besides, she says she can return it, but I’m not so sure since stores do not typically let you return formal wear. We’ll see.

I’ve been sloth this week, and I feel bad about that.  I didn’t do much that was productive.  We did have a nice family home evening on Monday with a good lesson about integrity and the fact that anonymity should never cause us to ask differently from who we really are and who we want to be.
We got to talk to Jon quite a bit this last week, and he also came over a couple of times which was really nice.  Last Sunday we got to Skype with Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily.  We really had fun doing that.  Emerson’s busy days got over sooner than expected which is good in that he can be with his family and also have a good rest, but bad because I wonder if it means that his work won’t give him any comp days that they could use to come see us.  I really miss them!

I have gotten family pictures up on the wall, finally.  I sent a picture of it.   I did that last week, not this week when I was lazy.  Do you like the tree branches I put up with the pictures?  I’m planning to add leaves here and there as well.  I don’t know how well you can see the picture of Cass and Em and Lily, but I had to photoshop 2 pictures together to get it.  It turned out pretty well, eh?

Well, I only have a half hour to get showered and dressed for church, so I’d better go!  I love you so much, Matt, and I’m so glad things have been going well for you.


PS Now it is Sunday night.  I went to a nice meeting at 5, and have another one at 8:30.   Our home teacher was over, and we had a fun time talking about movies and musicals and also about sharing the gospel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Oct 21--Email From Matt

Man, writing the date up there gives me little confused butterflys, because time flies too fast.

No, I have no broken bones that I know of, I didn't go to a doctor but everything is turning out all right and I feel fine :) thanks for sending the recepie, I don't think that they have cans of pumpkin pie filler here or of pumpkin.... because they don't really use pumpkins to make pie, I'll check but I really doubt it. Please send me a recepie that calls for fresh pumpkin! thank you so much!

The three women, well, let's see, there's a member and she asked us to go and "bless" the small home buisness of a friend, we went and said a prayer, (Mom, did you know that your son can bless buisnesses?!?! They pay people to do that haha!) and her friend asked us to stop by some time, so we did, haha, when we came, she was being accompanied by a friend, the next time we went to her house, here friend was there with her sister and they all listend to the lesson that we were giving and asked if we could visit them. There are also 2 other women who are co workers bu they are a little more wary of us so we are waiting for the right moment :) It's like a gold mine there or something becaue every time we go there, there's someone new to teach.

We were actually going to teach her her family this week but she cancelled the appointment. We weren't able to teach her friend, but she said that she was going to go to church this week, which she didn't, but we are hoping that she'll be able to come after she's a little more committed to learning about our church. We did get to teach Edith and her dauther Dania, but they couldn't come to church.... Oh well...

There's a woman,they call her "Cookies," and she did come to church. She comes to church but she doesn't let us teach her. I don't quite understand, but we havn't been able to talk to her, so we are hopeing that some day we'll be able to find her.

The single-mother family might be moving this week and that's sad. Also their oldest daughter has now refused to listen to us, which is also sad. I don't know why, I think that she just doesn't like doing what her mom wants her to do. We haven't seen them too much this week and when we have seen them they've been very distracted, we need to teach them in a member's house. Juliet has the goal to be baptised the 22nd of November. I really hope that her getting ready to be baptised will help the whole family come unto God.

Other than that, things are going well! We are always trying to improve, my companion's mom is sick and he's a little worried but he's a very good person so he always is trying to help other people. What's Tanner's Email address?! Man, I haven't heard from the guy for like more than year now, how weird.

So, is the house empty a lot now days? I remember how much you always wanted our friends to come over there, and how we always left and went to their houses. Now days, kids don't go over to thier friends house, they just connect on-line and play Xbox in their own houses. ha.

I Hope that you are all doing well, I am. I pray for you all and I really do feel your prayers. I hope that we can all be more humble this week and let the Spirit's influence guide us more.


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Dear Elder--Oct 20

Dear Elder,

Hi, how are you?  Thanks for your last letter.  I’m sorry your hand got hurt.  Any broken bones?  I hope it wasn’t too painful!

Here is the pumpkin pie recipe:

Aunt Renee’s Pumpkin Pie

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
1 cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1 heaping teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ginger
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon allspice
(If you can find pumpkin pie spice, you can put 3 ½ teaspoons of it and a teaspoon of cinnamon in place of all the spices above)
4 eggs
1-24 oz can pumpkin
1 can evaporated milk (this is canned milk, NOT sweetened condensed milk)
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla

Beat the eggs well.  Mix the beaten eggs and all the other ingredients together in a big bowl.  Pour mixture into unbaked pie shells and bake 15 minutes.  Turn oven down to 350 degrees and cook 1 more hour.  Let cool.  Serve with whipped cream.

If you need a pie crust recipe, let me know.  If you need to know how to make whipped cream, let me know.  If you can’t find canned pumpkin and need to know how to make a pie with fresh pumpkin, let me know!

Thank you for telling me about the people you are teaching.  It sounds like the single mom and her kids that you are teaching are a really great family.

I love what you said about a light under a bushel.  I never thought about it that way.  None of our feelings or beliefs will show if we don’t let them shine.  In fact, if we don’t let it shine, the light from those feelings and beliefs is in danger of going out.  I agree with you that that concept is especially important when it comes to love.

How did you meet the three women whose families you are teaching?  I have been praying for them and their families.  I hope you can get the members involved so that, if these families get baptized, they will have the support they need to stay faithful.

It is Sunday morning and I just finished making yucky breakfast, ha ha.  It didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to.  Katrina is banging on the bathroom door and telling Thomas that she needs to take a shower, Dad is calling to Thomas to let Katrina take a shower first, because it takes her longer to get ready for church, Miriam is on her cell phone, and the Hymns are playing.  Its nice to have a noisy busy Sunday morning.  It’s quiet around here waaaay too often these days.  Dad is giving the lesson in priesthood meeting today, and he is preparing it right now.  He and I got flu immunizations Thursday, and he is not feeling well because of it.  He said that priesthood meeting will probably be the only part of church he will attend today.  Poor Dad, he finally gets a free weekend, and he isn’t feeling well enough to enjoy it.

Despite feeling unwell, Dad took the fam to the ski resort and the big city yesterday.  It was mostly a trip to help Miriam find an evening gown, but it was also a wonderful way to spend lots of time talking together as we drove.  You know, Dad’s not wanting a DVD in the car is really genius if you think about it.  Driving is a wonderful way to have uninterrupted family discussions.  We talked about Grandma Sally and the lessons we learned and blessings we got from having her live with us, the importance of family home evening, and Dad and I shared lots of memories from our childhood.  This stuff all came about in normal conversation and it was all very good.

Miriam was looking for an evening gown because she’s going to the Marine’s ball  in November. She seems to only be looking for modest evening dresses, and I am very proud of her for that.  They sell a lot of prom formals around here, but not very many schmauncy evening dresses, so we will probably find one online.  Miriam passed the insurance test that she took this week.  She now could be an agent if she wants, but she says it is very hard to be and agent.  I don’t know if she means it is hard to be an insurance agent or become one, but she says she will probably become an accountant.  She is majoring in accounting anyway.  I hope that she survives all the math, ha ha.

Katrina passed her behind the wheel training in driver’s ed and has driven three times on the freeway.  She has half her driving hours in.  She has been practicing lots for Aida as well. Miriam and I bought her a coat at Costco yesterday, and she likes it.  I think it will go well with the cute clothes she’s been wearing to school.

While we were at Costco, Miriam and I saw Jonathan.  He stopped to talk to us for a minute, which was nice.  He went on a date to Corn Belly’s last night.  His date was a girl who works at Costco and she is very cute.  He’s gone out with her before.  Miriam says she is planning to go on a mission.  Jon doesn’t like to talk to us about it much, though so we don’t mention it to him, but we are happy to see him reaching out and socializing with good people.

I only talked to Cassandra once this week.  It was like on Tuesday or something and Lily was feeling out of sorts.  She didn’t want to talk to me, but I could hear her talking to her mommy.  She is cute even when she is feeling grouchy!  I called Cassandra yesterday, but she didn’t answer.  Emerson is in the middle of something at work called “turn around.”  He has to work every day this month for, like, 12 hours a day or something which must be very grueling.  He comes home to sleep and then leaves for work again in the morning.  Sometimes Cassandra and Lily get to meet him for lunch, otherwise Lily doesn’t really get to see him.  Last time I talked to Cassandra, she seemed in fairly good spirits, but I’m sure it’s not easy.  I pray for them lots.  I wonder if Emerson will miss trick or treating with Cassandra and Lily on Halloween.  They were thinking of dressing her as Princess Peach, and it would be sad if he missed it.  Happily, though, he may get some comp days, or in other words, time off to make up for all the time at work.  I hope that he does, and if he does, I hope they decide to come visit us at Christmas!  That would be a nice silver lining.

Thomas got to play in Thursday’s game, which is amazing because it was a very close game, and they put him in at the end and we were behind.  Thomas made a good play and kept the other team from scoring another touch down.  A coach even commented on it to him.  Garred had a birthday the other day, and Thomas gave him a Treasure Planet video game that he and Garred used to love to play when they were little.  Tanner and Derek loved it, too, but it got ruined, so Thomas was very excited to buy another copy of it for him, and Garred was very happy to get it.  Even Garred’s parents were happy.  Shauna called us to tell us how thoughtful she thought that was of Thomas to buy the game for Garred.   Saturday morning Thomas went to Garred’s and they played Treasure Planet for 3 hours.  Thomas said it was even more fun than he thought it would be.  He was pretty disgusted when he had to leave Garred’s to go  shopping with us.  Thomas also went to a birthday party for his friend, John, this week, and he went to the Varsity game with his friends on Friday.

Dad has been trying to regroup and retrench at work.  Things have been hard for him, but I know he’ll get them figured out.  He’s an amazing teacher, Matt.  He and I went out on Friday.  He wasn’t feeling too sick at that point, and we watched a movie called Gravity which we really enjoyed.  Cassandra and Emerson had both recommended it to us, and we were glad that they did.  We also went out to eat.  Then we went to the mall and Dad bought a big glass vessel to display his broken arrowheads in.  They’re worthless, but he thought they’d look cool in a big jar in his office.  He was pretty excited when I told him he could display it on the dresser in our bedroom if I could help him pick out the jar.  We found one we both liked, and it was on clearance so the price was right.  Now it’s sitting on the dresser waiting for broken arrowheads.  I reminded him that he has to keep the rest of the dresser completely clear of stuff.  I want to hang a mirror up behind the jar.

I had a nice week at home and at work.  I enjoyed being with different kids at different times taking them where they needed to go and getting them to do homework and chores.  Some days, like Thursday, were really crazy, but it was all good.  On Tuesday, Dad brought me two dozen roses, and the girls one dozen each.  It was so sweet of him!  I was away visiting Shana at the assisted living home when he brought them, but they were there when Shana and I got to the house.  We thought they were so pretty that we went and bought some ourselves.  I bought a dozen, and Shana bought two dozen.  I gave mine to 4 different neighbors, and Shana planned to give hers to 4 different family members.  Later, I had lots of fun to go giving flowers to different ladies in the neighborhood and visiting with them.  We have some awesome neighbors, Matt!  The Rasmussens send me home with a bag of apples, too.  I plan to make some cider.

Well, church is in an hour, and my computer’s almost out of batteries.  I hope that you are doing well, Matt and that you are feeling well and that you are feeling close to the Spirit.  I pray for you many times a day, and I know that you are in Heavenly Father’s watchful care.  Please tell your companion “Hi” for us.  I pray for
him, too.


One More Thing

I got my hand a little bused up in a metal ceiling fan this week.... but I'm ok now, no chopped off fingers or anything like that.
Love you!

Email From Matt--Oct 14

   Mom,   Thanks for sharing what you're learning as a member missionary. It is true, if we let our faith and hope work within us, we can start to truly have charity for our friends.

This week we have been teaching the B. R. Family more. They are the part member family that I briefly mentioned this last week.

   They're a family of 7, 2 years ago, the father of the family died, because of that tragedy the family is now comprised of the mother and her 6 children, the oldest is 12 years old and the youngest is 5. The mother's name is Lluvia (pronounced yOU-vee-ah, it means rain in spanish) and right now she is living in her aunt's small house while she looks for work.

   I've really come to love all of the children in this family, they are all so lively and unwell behaved that they are charming.

   Janet is the oldest of the family and is followed by her sister, Juliet, they both haven't been baptized, so that's the reason why we have this lovely opportunity to teach this family and to help them come to love each other more. The other siblings are named Luis, Heidi, Jesus Antonio and Danna, who is 5. Danna doesn't live with her mom because she has an illness that makes it so that she needs consistent medical care, so she lives with her paternal grandparents.

Lluvia's sister, is also living in the same small house, she has two small children. They are also very lively.

 I've been thinking about the scripture Mathew 5:14-16

"Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven."

   I don't think that there are many parents on this earth that don't love their kids, and I don't think that there are many children that don't love their parents, I also don't believe that there are many siblings that honestly deep deep deep down don't love their brothers or sisters. I think that we all have that light in our hearts, but it's impossible to see that love, you can't see emotions, It's impossible, just like you can't see a candle that's under a bushel. What we can see is the evidence that there is love. You can only "let your [love] so shine before men" when you let them know that it's there. This applies to many things, we can't see, or feel, faith in Jesus Christ, we can only see actions and feel emotions, the evidence that there is faith.

   So "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven." Let your light so shine, let your love so shine, let your faith, hope and charity so shine.

   We are also teaching a few other people, but I really haven't gotten to know them that well, their names are Gina, Edith, and Alejandra, They are three moms that we barely met and we are going to try and teach them, their husbands and their families.

When my thoughts turn to the people that I'm teaching and the love that I have for them; it's hard sometimes to see when they don't listen to the voice of the Holy Spirit, but I know that the Lord loves them, and that no matter where I go, He loves them and will not forget about them. I can't take their decisions for them, and it's hard, but that Hope, combined with my Faith, allow me to have Charity and pure love for these wonderful people.

 Other than that, things are moving "forward and not backward... on, on[ward] to the victory" which is great. I love you all! and I hope that you are all doing great. until next week


PS  I was wondering if you, Mom, could send me the recipe (I don't remember the right way to spell that) to make pumpkin pie, I'm going to try and make it this thanksgiving, they don't have it here. (oh, and if you could send me the names of the ingredients in both English and Spanish pleeeeas!!!)

Monday, November 4, 2013

Dear Elder--Oct 13

Dear Elder,
Hi!  How are you today?  I hope that you are well and happy and full of missionary spirit.  I am well and happy and full of missionary spirit, too!  Thank you so much for the letter you sent.  It was short, but we will take whatever you can give us!

I’m so sorry that the people you have been teaching have either not been around or not been available.  I have been reading a book called “The Power of Everyday Missionaries,” and I learned that we need to ask people a lot of questions to know what questions they have and listen with the Spirit to what they care about so that we can teach them the things that will benefit their individual lives so that they will keep their interest.  I know that Preach My Gospel also talks about that, right? 

This has been a good week. Monday night we went to the laundry again so that Dad could work on the furnace.  We made dinner and brought it with us to eat with him.  Jon came to the laundry, too, and it was very nice to visit with him.  We also got to see him last night because he was doing something with friends and they met at our house to begin their activity.

Grandpa and Grandma were in town this week, and they stayed over night at our house on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Tuesday evening, none of the kids were home because Katrina and Miriam both had a class and Thomas had a game, but I took them to look at the temple.  The spire is on it now, and since they went to see it with me, they have also put the angel Moroni on the spire.  Wednesday, Grandpa took Thomas to gymnastics and stayed to watch him.  That night, all of the kids were home, but Dad wasn’t because of the furnace.  The kids and I ate dinner with Grandpa and Grandma and then went to the dollar store and the grocery store to buy pumpkins.  After that, we watched a “Get Smart” episode.  Dad came home while we were watching it, and it was nice to have him back home.

Thursday, Grandma, Katrina, and I went shopping to buy Grandma some clothes.  It was fun to shop and eat lunch together.  Grandpa and Thomas went bowling, and Dad worked on the furnace.  After that, Grandpa and Grandma left to stay with Rick and Kelly for the weekend.

Friday, Dad took off to work on the furnace and the rest of us cleaned the house and stuff.  Later on, Thomas and I took in our laundry to keep Dad company while he worked.  While we were there, Dad found out he needed a  part that he couldn’t get around here, so he needed to go to the big city.  I told him I should go with him and that he should take a break from working and that we should make a date of it, so we did.  We left Thomas at the laundry and Miriam picked him up after work and drove him home.  On our date we visited an Arnold Frieberg art exhibit.  He is the artist that painted all the Book of Mormon pictures where the men have giant muscles.  He also painted the famous picture of George Washington at Valley Forge, where he is kneeling by his horse, praying.  It was an amazing exhibit, and I am glad we paid the money to go.  We also got dinner which we really enjoyed.

Saturday, Dad worked on the furnace all the day, and the rest of us drove up to Rick and Kelly’s for Jesse’s baptism.  I am so glad we got to go see him be baptized!

Jesse and his family

We also enjoyed eating lunch at their house afterwards and visiting with them and Grandpa and Grandma.  On the way home, the kids wanted to visit the candy outlet, so we did.  We had a crazy time getting there, because Google Maps failed us, but we finally arrived and had fun buying candy.  Miriam and I got some cute suckers for our co workers and I also bought some for my visiting teaching sisters.

After I took the kids home,  I went to the laundry to keep Dad company.  He was able to finish the furnace, and when he turned it on to test it, it worked!  We were so relieved and happy.  After that, we went home and ate ice cream and watched a movie.  It was a film Noir, and it was a very good one.  It even had a happy ending.  I’m glad it was good for Dad’s sake.

Today we went to church and then came home and ate together.  It is gloomy and wet outside, and I am tired.  It is only 5:45, but I am very tempted to call it a night and go to bed.  I think I will. 
I love you very much, Matt, and cant wait to hear from you tomorrow!  Love, Mom

Letter From Matt--Oct 7

Mom, don't worry too much, I'm doing ok, I'm not feeling sick any more, and the medicine worked out very well. . :) The mission sends us to one of the best hospitals here in Culiacán, so don't get too worried.

  Yes I was able to watch all of the conferences, it was absolutely wonderful, I didn't know that 10 hours of people talking could be so inspiring, but it is! It is a little overwhelming like you said, but it was also very inspiring and it helped me want to be better too. 

   It's very nice to hear that you love your job.

   Erik has really kind of dropped off of the radar. We haven't seen him but we are going to look for him this week, he's really a good kid.  Jesus and Christina, well we haven't been able to see them, we were going to see them this Saturday but we couldn't because they were only available at 6:00 and we had to be in priesthood session but now that I'm thinking about it, we could have invited Jesus to come with us. We are very imperfect missionaries.....

   Mom, I've learned that's true, I can't just suffer quietly sometimes, sometimes I can and nothing bad happens but if I really do need help, I need to get it or I'm going to end up being sicker than ever and even less able to help the people that I love so much.

Anyway, this week flew by like a bullet, it's scary to see how little time passes in between Mondays.
This week we weren't able to see the people that we've been teaching, partly because we need to organize our time better, and partly because they couldn't see us because of work and things like that. 

   We were able to find a family this week. One day we were going to get on a bus and go work in one part of our area, but when the bus finally got to the stop, I had the impression that we should stay where we were and work closer to home, my companion was a little weirded out because we had planned out the day in that sector of the area, but we stayed and we found a part member family.
I feel like this letter is lame, I'm sorry that I don't have very good things to write this week, but I'll try harder next week. I love you all and I really hope that you are doing well. I pray for you all.
P.S. There's a change in the winds, I hope that it brings blessings, but it might bring some big trials

Dear Elder--Oct 6

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you? I sure hope you are feeling better than you did last week!  I am so sorry that you have been feeling sick, and we are so happy that Heavenly Father helped you to know to eat something so that you could feel better that night.  After reading your account, we decided that your parasite must have needed a midnight snack, ha ha.  Actually, having a parasite is no laughing matter, and we sure hope that medicine does the trick, but I have my doubts, so make sure you get more help if the problem persists, okay?  We are praying for you to be healthy, Matt, so that you can do the work of the Lord!

We watched the Saturday sessions last night, and I am so excited to be watching again soon, today.  Grandpa and Grandma are in town and they will be watching the morning session with us.  As a family, we will listen to the afternoon session of General Conference on the car radio as we drive to my brother Rick and his wife, Kelly’s house for a get-together.  Their son, Ben, is going to read his mission call, and we are going to celebrate Grandpa’s seventieth birthday.  Can you believe that he is seventy years old today?  I told him that seventy is the new sixty, ha ha.

Did you get to watch Conference?  Wasn’t it wonderful?  I have to admit, Matt, that I was a bit concerned going into conference that I would be overwhelmed with more things I need to incorporate into my life because I am still trying to incorporate my goals from the last general conference into my life.  Instead, conference strengthened me and reaffirmed the importance of my goals and gave me insights on how to go about meeting them.  As I listened, one of the impressions I got was to buy the book that my sister, Elizabeth recommended to me called “Every Day Missionaries.”   I bought both the Kindle version and the hard copy version which should be here by Monday or Tuesday.  Anyway, I have begun reading the Kindle version, and I really love it.  I am learning how we as members can be missionaries every day of our lives.  

The reason that Grandpa and Grandma are here is because my sister Sarah’s husband, James’s mother passed away this last week.  Do you remember her, Matt?  What a sweet lady!  She has been suffering from cancer, Matt, and has been sick for quite awhile.  James was able to be in town when she passed away which is a real blessing.  She died Wednesday, I think, and Sarah and the kids flew in Thursday for Friday’s funeral.  Grandpa and Grandma were going to come up for my brother, Rick’s son, Jesse’s baptism next week, so they came up early to attend the funeral as well.  I missed the funeral because of work, but Elizabeth also attended.  Grandma says the funeral was a very sweet experience.  I wish I could have been with them, and I am so happy that we get to see Sarah and James and their family at Rick and Kelly’s today.

Yesterday was a wonderful day, first, because of Conference, and also because Grandpa and Grandma and Elizabeth and her kids all came over for a visit.  We didn’t know whether or not we’d see them yesterday, but Julie’s son Richard called them and told them that he’d be opening his mission call at 5:00 pm and that they could watch him do it on Facebook.  When they tried to set it up at Elizabeth’s house, it didn’t work so Grandpa and Grandma came over here.  It was total chaos as we talked to Rick, Sarah, and Elizabeth on the phone while Richard’s family was on video.  The video ended up failing, and we heard the mission call over the phone after all.  Richard has been called to serve in the Rapid City South Dakota mission.  Richard was really excited because ever since Jacob got his call to Singapore, Richard has joked that he would be going to South Dakota.  He even told his stake president he would be going to South Dakota.  He was joking, but when the call came, it was official.  It is wonderful the ways Heavenly Father lets us know that He is in the details of our lives.  After Dad and Thomas and Grandpa left for the priesthood session, Elizabeth and her younger kids came over to join us and Grandma for a little party.  We ate pizza and talked.  It was so fun!

Well, Matt, we just finished watching the Sunday morning session of Conference.  Grandpa and Grandma joined us for conference because Elizabeth and her family had another family over to watch this session of conference with them.  I have to ask Elizabeth about the family they invited over.  I suspect it came about because Elizabeth had read the book she recommended to me.  She is pretty excited about it.  

It was nice to have Grandpa and Grandma over, and we really enjoyed this session of conference.  Now we are writing letters to you and eating and getting ready to drive to Rick’s during the afternoon session.  It makes me so happy that you are watching Conference, too.

Katrina missed conference yesterday because she was at the Shakespeare festival.  She had an enjoyable time, and got home while the guys were at the priesthood session.  Last year, she missed Saturday, too, but watched them between the Sunday sessions.  This year, because family has visited, and we have Grandpa’s birthday to go to, I don’t think she will be able to do that, but I have confidence that she will find a time to view it.  

Dad has worked every spare moment installing the furnace at the laundry.  He took time off to watch both conference sessions on Saturday because I begged him, too, and of course he’s not working today on the Sabbath, I’ve been praying that it will be a good day of rest for him.  He is really getting burned out.  He says he never wants to accept a job just for the money again.  I hope not.  Its not worth it.  If he hadn’t said he would do the furnace, Vic would have just hired someone else, but Dad saw dollar signs, poor guy. He also has been working very hard teaching.  I think that things are beginning to get better, though.  I am so glad for that answer to prayer!

Since Dad was working so much, I went to Thomas’s football game on Thursday in his place.  Because he misses football for gymnastics every week, Thomas is not allowed to play in the games even though he makes up the absences by doing twice as many monsters as required. Well, Thursday night, one of the coaches obviously didn’t get the memo that Thomas isn’t to play in the games, and he played Thomas!  It was so wonderful to watch him out there giving his all to the team, and I was very happy for him.

Besides working, Miriam has been going shopping and also a co-worker couple invited her over to their house for dinner.  She and Preston have cooled it off for awhile, maybe permanently—we will see.  I know it is hard for her because she has spent so much time for him, the rest of her social life has suffered.  I know she’ll make it through.

I also got to talk to Cassandra and Lily this week and Skype with them.  When I called, Lily was in bed after her nap and didn’t want to get out of bed.  Cassandra was trying to convince her to get out.  Finally, it was Lily’s desire to “show” me her toys (we were only on the phone at the time, not Skyping) that got her out of bed.  She is so cute!  She sang songs to me including “Hip, Hipooray for the Piglet and the Pooh” and “Let’s Go Fly a Kite.”  She put her owl pajamas on over her clothes to show me how they looked.  I am so glad she likes talking to me on the phone.  Cassandra is very patient to hold the phone for me to talk to Lily and to talk to me, too.

I got to visit with Jon on the phone for a couple of hours this week, too.  He is doing well.  He also helped Dad with the furnace for a few hours which I know Dad really appreciated.  He is lookin so good!  He has an awesome goatee and ‘stache.  When I went to Costco on Saturday to buy pistachios for Conference, he was there, which I always love.  He was wearing some very cool shoes which turned out to be slippers he’d bought there at Costco, so I bought some for Thomas for Christmas. Shh…, don’t tell  

And what have I been up to?  Hmm…well, have I mentioned that I love my job?  I love my job!!!  I had such a rewarding week teaching and tracking amazing students.  Besides that, I’ve been home being a mom.  Did I mention that I love being a mom?  I LOVE being a mom!!!  And that includes being a grandma.  I’ve Skyped with Lily, driven with Katrina, eaten dinner with Thomas and Miriam, and done various and sundry mom things that make life worthwhile. I also love being Dad’s wife!  Dad was going to work all Friday, but he was so burned out, he decided to only work till 5 and then go out on a date with me.  We had such a wonderful time!  We drove to the ski resort and ate at an incredibly delicious barbeque place that Dad discovered the last time he was there.  We also walked up and down main street and it was really fun and really cold.  We had lots of fun talking on the drive up and back, too.  When we got home, we ate ice cream (surprise, surprise) and watched TV.   Life is beautiful, Matt.

That is our week and our life.  How was your week and how is your life?  Please tell us everything.  Have you found Christina?  What about Jesus?  Is Erik totally out of the picture?  I really really hope you have been feeling well.  If you haven’t, don’t just suffer, GET HELP!!!  I love you, Matt.