Sunday, December 15, 2013

Dec 9--Letter From Matt

Mom, I love your letters! Why do you think that they're boring. I print them off and I read them during lunch every Monday, it's the highlight of my whole day. I dedicate the week to missionary work, and Monday to 2 things: Getting ready for the week, and communicating with you guys. I love reading everything about what's going on.
Hahah! YOU are the wise person! I think that's excellent advice that you gave me, and I try to follow it in my interactions with other people. 

Ok, this week, 3 people got baptized! Johana, Sherlín and, that's right, Gregorio! Johana and Sherlín are sisters that live in the house of their aunt and uncle. Their Mom, Cildia, is their legal guardian and hadn't given her permission so that her daughters could get baptised. Both of them have wanted to be baptised for a long time. The Lord softened the heart of their mom and she signed the baptismal form so that they could get baptised. She also came to their baptism service. I know that she felt something, because the spirit was there so strongly. I had the special opportunity to baptise Johana. She is a very special 11 year old. she's.... shiny, spiritually awake. She was very scared to be baptised but confronted her fears and was baptised. The strongest feeling of approval came over me in that moment. I was reassured that the Lord approved of the ordnance that was taking place. The whole experience is a softly glowing coal in my memory. I feel the Lord's love when I think of that moment.

I love you all! I hope that you have a wonderful week!!!!!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Dec 8--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi, How are you in sunny Mexico?  I hope you are warmer there than here, ha ha.  We have had storms and freezing temperatures.  I think the storms may be over for awhile, but the cold temperatures are going to stay :(  Are you having a good December?  Are you feeling the Christmas spirit?  What have you been doing to preach the gospel these days?  I just read about missionaries in Harlem where they all went out together and passed out hot chocolate and shined shoes.  It became a big event; lots of people gathered, and the missionaries were able to preach the gospel.  In New York, the missionaries and members got together and drew a huge sidewalk chalk mural of the plan of salvation in the middle of Union Square. Lots of people stopped to talk and learn.  It was so successful that they decided to do it again.  This time they drew Lehi's dream in Central Park, I think it was.  Pretty cool, huh?  I'm so glad that you are creative and that you know and love the people of Mexico so well.  I am sure that you find interesting ways to talk to people.

I am still reading "Jesus The Christ," and I have also been reading the writings of some of the modern day prophets concerning Jesus Christ.  It really puts me in the Christmas spirit and helps me to be more like Him.  For family scripture reading this month we are reading from the 4 gospels.  I went through the "Harmony of the Gospels" in the Bible Dictionary and picked out the most complete accounts of different events in Christ's life and then divided them up into segments of about 40 verses each.  We read a segment every night that we can.  We are also going to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional tonight. We are calling it a "Devotional Celebration" and eating snacks and (hopefully) trimming the tree.  Monday we are having family home evening with the old folks at the rest home.  I think that you are right, Matt, this will be one of the best Christmases we've ever had.

Thank you for sharing those words from a "very wise person."  It took me awhile to figure out who that wise person was, ha ha.  Ya, I really appreciate the reminder. Thanks for sharing the stories from President Monson!  They left a firm picture in my mind, and inspired me to be like the shepherd who leads.  I have noticed that my excitement and joy about the "real" work and other activities of the day inspires the kids to want to do those things more and virtual things less.  I know that getting angry wasn't the best way to unify the family, but it helped, and I am back to my happy lovable self, ha ha.

I am so excited about the progress that Gregorio is making!  We have seen the movie that you mentioned, and i love it.  It is a very powerful witness of the truthfulness of the restored gospel.  I am glad that he wants to share it with his friends.  You are helping that young man make a true and lasting change for good.

Yesterday was a wonderful day.  We had tickets to see Rick and his family perform the Nutcracker Suite near their house which, as you know, is about two hours away, but there was a big snow storm coming.  Another sad thing was that Miriam wasn't going to be able to come because of school.  I woke up in the morning, and the storm hadn't hit yet.  I noticed that Miriam was home.  The stinker hadn't gone to class.  I asked her to come to with us even though we didn't have a ticket for her.  I hoped and prayed that something would work out.  As we were beginning to leave, we couldn't find the tickets.  Dad and I said a prayer, and Dad. a little while later asked if they could be in the car, and I realized that maybe we put them in the glove box.  Yep, they were there.  What a blessing!  I told Rick and Kelly that we were a ticket short, and they had another ticket which was another blessing.  The last hour of the drive was stormy, but we got there safely and on time.  I really loved the production, Matt.  Rick's family did wonderfully well, and so did the rest of the performers.  It was such a nice thing to do at Christmas time, and I think that we were very blessed to have it all work out.
After the Nutcracker, the snow was really falling down, but we made it out of the storm, got some food because we were starving, and went to a Christmas festival which was really fun.  We also did some shopping.  The driving was hard and stressful for Dad, but he did it willingly without complaint.  He made sure we were all safe and sound before leaving again to work at the laundry (by that time it was about 8 pm).  Dad is beginning to wonder if he is a workaholic, and I do to. Working at the laundry sure doesn't help, but Dad says we need the money he makes doing it.

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Friday Dad and I went out to eat at a Mexican place that I used to love, but now I don't because they have modernized it and everything is really sweet.  I can't stand sweet Mexican food, but most people around here love it.  We also watched a really good movie on Netflix called "Under the Greenwood Tree." Despite not being able to figure out why it is named that, we really enjoyed it.

Everyone is doing pretty well.  Miriam went to all three meetings today, which hasn't happened in awhile, so that is awesome.  We read a conference talk that encouraged Sunday meeting attendance and I think that had something to do with it.  She is really burned out these days because she works and goes to school so much.  She won't tell me what she wants for Christmas!  It is driving me crazy.  She says I'm not allowed to get her anything.  That is very sweet of her, but I'm going to get her something.  I wish I knew what!

Thomas received a blessing last week, and is feeling better.  He is going to begin working out with the wrestling team in the mornings again even though he is no longer on the team.  I think we wants to do it in order to stay fit. He also may be trying out for a play.  He finally gave me a Christmas list yesterday, but I'm not so sure he's very excited about anything he put on it.

Katrina is definitely trying out for the play tomorrow.  The play is Emma, and I hope that she gets a part.  She is not longer is taking piano lessons, but gets paid $2 every time she practices, and she is doing pretty good at it.  Unlike her siblings, Katrina is never at a loss as to what she wants for Christmas.  In fact, she is in danger of going over budget, ha ha.  Right now she and Thomas are good naturedly teasing each other.  Katrina just told Thomas that life is better for women because the rewards are better in the end, and he just replied that she wouldn't even be here without men.  The whole thing started when Katrina objected to the way Thomas was dressed.

I got to see Jon at Costco for a sec on Monday when I was doing my monthly Costco shopping.  He showed me some really cute snowmen that were on sale and also some beautiful decorative trees.  I could only buy one, and bought the snowmen.  Later that night, Jon came by and gave me the trees for a Christmas present.  Isn't that sweet of him?  They look beautiful up on the mantel.

Cassandra called last night, and it was fun to make Christmas plans with her.  Emerson is doing turn over again, so they won't be seeing him much for awhile.  We sent Lily an advent calendar with our pictures inside each door so that when she opens the doors, she not only gets a piece of chocolate but also gets to see a picture of one of us.  Cassandra says she loves it, and gets very excited about the pictures.  Isn't that sweet?  I can't wait to see them.

Dad's truck has been in the shop for a long time, but he got it back on Thursday or Friday.  The repair cost us $900.  Right after that the emergency brake refused to stay down.  He is beginning to wonder if it will nickle and dime him to death to keep it, so we talked about it and came up with how much more we are willing to spend on it before we get a new vehicle.  Dad is more settled about things now that we have a plan.  He decided he can put in a bolt and a hook or something to keep the parking break down.  He sold a bunch of stuff the other day, so the car repair is paid for, thank goodness.

Work has been going well, and on Friday we went to see folk dancers from different countries perform at the university.  It was a fun field trip.  Besides that I have been doing my monthly inventory and shopping.  No much more than that is going on right now, Matt.  I love you very much.  Thanks for reading my letters.  I hope they are not too boring!  I love you.


Thanks for the wonderful pictures.  That is the biggest bag of Cheetos that I have ever seen!

Dec 2--Letter From Matt

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Nope, it didn't bite.  Yes, it's alive.

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We helped them clean the lot in front of their house :)

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The Beach

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I didn't get a picture of this, but my companion did,
 we bought this for the branch activity that we did.

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At a meeting in Culiacan

Hey Mom, thanks for the letter! Can I offer a few words of advice? A very wise person that I dearly love once told me this and I think that it's going to be important for you during your efforts to help the family:
"I think it is important to be forgiving and understanding of others.  A good leader uses kindness, persuasion, meekness, and love unfeigned, not to force a certain response, but because it is the Christ-like thing to do.  A good leader leaves the outcome in the hands of the Lord and doesn’t use manipulation, shame, or coercion to get someone to do what they think is right. I have been thinking that when interacting with others, we should do what is right, not what 'works,' because in the long-run, what is right is the only thing that really works.  What do you think?"

I really think it's a good idea to not use as many electronic gadgets, and I'm totally with you, but I think that the family has to decide not to use them. It's like the example that President Monson used in a talk he gave this last General Conference. Talking about childhood experiences that he had in Provo Canyon he said:
"Dad would drive about 35 miles an hour all the way up to Provo Canyon or until we would come around a bend in the road and our journey would be halted by a herd of sheep. We would watch as hundreds of sheep filed past us, seemingly without a shepherd, a few dogs yapping at their heels as they moved along. Way back in the rear we could see the sheepherder on his horse—not a bridle on it but a halter. He was occasionally slouched down in the saddle dozing, since the horse knew which way to go and the yapping dogs did the work.

Contrast that to the scene which I viewed in Munich, Germany, many years ago. It was a Sunday morning, and we were en route to a missionary conference. As I looked out the window of the mission president’s automobile, I saw a shepherd with a staff in his hand, leading the sheep. They followed him wherever he went. If he moved to the left, they followed him to the left. If he moved to the right, they followed him in that direction. I made the comparison between the true shepherd who led his sheep and the sheepherder who rode casually behind his sheep.

Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep.” He provides for us the perfect example of what a true shepherd should be."

I do not want to imply that you or dad is like the sheepherder asleep on his horse, but I do think that we can draw a contrast in that the sheepherder drove the sheep, and the Shepard lead the sheep. The family is either going to be driven to use less gadgets or lead to use less gadgets.

I think that this Christmas is going to be one of the best that the family has ever had :)

Thanks for telling me about your thanks giving!

Well family, Gregorio is still amazing, this week we were able to see Joseph Smith, The Prophet of the Restoration (2011)  as a branch activity! (I'm going to send a picture of something related to the activity) The 2011 movie is a lot easier for invetigators to understand, it might be good if the family saw the movie. anyway Gregorio brought a friend to see the movie with him and after the activity he asked for the video so that he could show it to his family, how cool is that?!

Well Im sorry, yet again I ran out of time. I hope that you are all doing good, Im hoping to have good news next week! I love you all!

Dec 1-- Dear Elder

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Miriam and Preston at the Smithsonian

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Katrina in Aida

Dear Elder,

Hi.  How are you?  How was your Thanksgiving?  Were you able to make pie?  Did it turn out?  I hope so!  How is Gregorio and his brother doing?  Who else have you been teaching?  How is your companion?  What are the people of Cuenta like?  I hope all is going well.

We have had a nice week, and now it is December.  Can you believe it?  What a wonderful month this is going to be!  For one thing, Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily will be here for Christmas!  We are very happy about that.  For another thing, we are going to be using less electronics this month and focusing on doing simple things together as a family and reaching out to others.  Tonight we are going to put up the Christmas tree, and I am really looking forward to that.  We also have wrapped our Christmas books in wrapping paper, and I hope that we can drop them off to Elizabeth and her family so that they can read one book every night till Christmas.

Thanksgiving weekend has been very nice.  On Thanksgiving day, Jon came over as well as your cousin, Jessica and her husband, Henry.  We had a wonderful feast—the food Dad made was incredible—and lots of pie.  Dad made sure that there was lots of food that each person could eat, and Jessica brought green bean casserole and strawberry pie which was delicious.  We had lots of fun visiting with each other.  We also watched Monster’s University which Jessica and Henry hadn’t seen yet.  Later in the evening, Rick’s three oldest kids came over for a sleep over.  I think Ben, Emily, and Kristen had lots of fun eating pie, visiting with our kids, and watching movies.  All the girls slept in Miriam’s room, and Thomas and Ben sacked out in Thomas’s room.  Ben is going to college this semester and leaves for the MTC Jan 15 and after that he will be going to Hungary.

The next day, Friday, Rick and the rest of the kids, Elizabeth and her family, and Jessica and Henry came over around noon and we had fun eating leftovers and playing a game that J and H brought.   Rick and the boys also played at the school for quite awhile, and Miriam took the girls shopping for awhile, so everyone had fun.  Also on Friday, Dad put up the Christmas lights.  I’ll have to take a picture of them for you, Matt!  They are beautiful!  Friday night, Jessica and Henry invited Thomas over to play video games, and Dad and I went out.  We went for a nice long walk and also shopped a bit.  I love being with Dad!

Yesterday was Saturday and we went to see Frozen, Disney’s version of the Ice Queen, together as a family.  We really enjoyed it.  Later, after a nice nap, Dad and I went to do a few errands.  One of the things we did was to clean the car inside and out.  It really needed it!  We also emptied the machines at the laundry.  On the way home we picked up Thomas who was visiting Jonathan, and when we got home, we watched a Dr. Who episode together as a family for Katrina’s sake.

After that, something happened that made me unhappy and I sort of got mad at one of the kids and then ranted to Dad for awhile about the way things were going around here.  After that, I put myself to bed, ha ha.  Dad came in and we talked.  He is so amazing, Matt, he totally understood my concerns, and went and talked to the family while I slept.  Later he woke me up to tell me how his talk with the kids went, and of course it went well because they are such sweethearts.  Like I said at the beginning of this letter, we are going to do some things different around here, now—more simple and meaningful.

Let’s see…on Monday night we went to Vic’s 80th birthday party at his house, and then afterward, we went to Wendy’s to fill in the corners and visit.  It was a nice family home evening.  On Tuesday, Dad and I went to the temple which was such a wonderful experience.  As we sat together in the sealing room and then in the Celestial room, I marveled that, in this very temporal world, work of such eternal significance goes on in God’s holy temples.  I really felt the Holy Ghost, Matt, and I am so thankful that Dad and I have been sealed together in the temple so that our family can be together forever.

 We did Thanksgiving shopping on both Tuesday and Wednesday, and I really don’t remember what else we did on Wednesday.  The Thanksgiving break has gone by way too quickly, that’s for sure.  Good thing we get another break after the twenty second!  I love you, Matt.  Have a wonderful week sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ!