Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jan 28--Letter from Matt

Happy birthday to you! happy birthday dear mommy! Happy birthday to you!!!!

"A Mexican Birthday"

Thanks Mom for the letter! How was your birthday?! You decided to celebrate yesterday right? I hope that you had a wonderful time!
So, how is your personal study of the scriptures coming along? Is your job making it harder for you to study the scriptures?

Ok, well this week Elder Sullivan and I decided that we needed to plan better. In PMG, chapter eight talks all about planning and it says that we need to do weekly planning, and it has 13 steps that are way hard to complete. Most of my mission, sadly, I have done weekly planning and then just never used any of the plans that we had made during weekly planning. This last week the Spirit really just agave me a vision (Not a literal vision, the type of vision that starts up new companies and stuff sort of vision) of how we needed to use weekly planning in our daily planning (do the 13 steps in chapter 8) but just in a briefer way. It has worked out very well! It is not at all easy, I almost dread planning every night, but it helps us get so much more work done! Man, I wish I would've done this earlier! I'm not too sad or anything though, because the Lord has His time table and I guess I was ready to start planning like that, and I was with an awesome companion that makes it possible for us to be united enough to plan like that!

Martha went to church this week!!! You may be asking: "Who's martha?!"  Martha works on Friday and Saturday selling snacks. She works a lot and I honestly thought that she wasn't going to be able to go to church. She's Janeth's mom, she is also the future mother in law of Ellery. We are way excited that she could go to church because if she starts going, pretty much the whole family is (eventually, it may take a few years) going to go to church.

"A Mexican Party"

Lupita and Rocio also went to church in Ceuta, which is way exciting becuase it was the first time that we had invited them to go to church. the Pascual family also went to church. They were inactive for a long time. We didn't even visit them, they just came to church. That's a real testimony that God is preparing the hearts of men.

I was studying D+C today actually and I stumbled across the reason why people have to get re-baptised if there baptismal record is lost.

"Now, the nature of this ordinance consists in the power of the priesthood, by the revelation of Jesus Christ, wherein it is granted that whatsoever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatsoever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven. Or, in other words, taking a different view of the translation, whatsoever you record on earth shall be recorded in heaven, and whatsoever you do not record on earth shall not be recorded in heaven; for out of the books shall your dead be judged, according to their own works, whether they themselves have attended to the ordinances in their own propria persona, or by the means of their own agents,"

"A Mexican Washer"

I would love to write more about the people or about what we're doing but I just seem to be running out of time!!!! Dag nabbit! Sorry! I hope that you have a wonderful week!

Jan 27--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi.  How are you doing?  Did you have a nice birthday?  I hope you were able to teach many people the gospel on your birthday and throughout the week.  I am so glad that Ellery went to church and that he is really interested in the gospel.  What a wonderful thing!  Martina sounds like a neat lady and I wish I could have seen the demonic chicken that chased Martina's grand kids.  So funny!  What happened this week with your investigators?  Have you been to any conferences lately?

We had a nice week. Monday was a day off for all of us which was really nice.  What a wonderful feeling on Sunday evening to realize that there is no work the next day!  Abby and Paige came over and watched the first few hours of the BBC's version of Pride and Prejudice with Katrina, Thomas hung out with Hayden, etc, and Dad and I went to a movie about a transport ship that was captured by pirates.  It is a true story and it was very good.  Later that night we went out to eat for grade rewards and had a wonderful time as a family.  Then we had a family home evening lesson given by Miriam.  It was based on a talk given by President Eyring to the student body at BYU Idaho and was a very good lesson.

Tuesday and Wednesday are a bit of a blur, but I tried hard to be productive and do the right things.  I didn't remember Jesus Christ as much as I want to, though, and I recommitted while partaking of the bread and water today to remember more faithfully this week and trust on the strength of the Lord.
Wednesday, Miriam got mixed up and gave me flowers and balloons for my birthday.  She was going to take them to school and give them to me there until she found out that my birthday was later, ha ha.  I'm so glad she didn't bring them to my work, but that I could enjoy them in the quiet of our own home.  They are beautiful.

Thursday at work we went on a field trip to see an art exhibit. Sometimes I get overwhelmed by all there is to see at art exhibits, but this time I determined to concentrate on the faces in the artwork.  I examined each face and tried to understand how each person was feeling.  The very first painting displayed was of Christ being comforted by the angel as he suffered for the sins of the world. I've seen this painting before, but have been distracted by the angel and the wings that almost dwarf the suffering Christ, but this time I gazed into the face of the Savior and saw the suffering there.  It touched me very deeply, Matt, and deepened my love for Jesus Christ.

Wednesday, Thomas hung out with his friends again and the girls and I went shopping for clothes for me.  It was very nice of them to go, and I actually found some things, so I am a happy lady.  It was very fun to be with them.  Dad went to his old teacher, Mr Brady's, viewing that night.  He was Dad's favorite teacher, a humble World War II veteran who taught Dad much about the sorrows of war.  

Friday Miriam sent me to school with treats to share with my students, which was very sweet of her.  The students loved them.  After school, I slept and then Dad and I went out to eat and then we came home and watched the new Superman movie which was meh.

Saturday Katrina and I went to a youth camp leader breakfast for this year's girl's camp.  Katrina doesn't really like camp, but she said the meeting went well without me even asking her about it, so I know that it was a good one.  The girls did a lot of planning for camp.  My job was to do a gathering activity for the girls, so I had them make "little sisters" out of sticks, cloth, etc.  The girls were to take care of the little sisters they made throughout the breakfast and the ensuing planning sessions.  Whenever we found an abandoned "little sister" we confiscated it.  The girls who still had their little sisters at the end of the meeting got a little prize.  At camp, these girls are assigned to be big sisters to some of the younger girls, so we used this activity to remind them to look over their little sisters at camp.  They really liked it.

After that, I took a nap.  I think I got three naps that day, ha ha.  Later we went out as a family and had fun walking around some shops even though it was very cold.  After that, we went home and ate steak made by Dad and then Dad re-hung my throw depicting Christ helping two children climb up rocks.  Remember it, Matt?  I had Dad take it down when we repainted the house.  I taped back the fringe so it doesn't show and bought new rods to hold it up  in order to update it's look.  Dad was not thrilled about having to re-hang it, but I told him that's what I wanted for my birthday, so he did it and it went quite smoothly.  It was very sweet of him, and it looks wonderful.

Today I went to 5 hours of church because I went to another ward's ward conference as well as our own ward.  It was a wonderful blessing because I was able to partake of the sacrament twice, which I needed since the first time I took it today, I wasn't as focused as I wanted to be, but the second time I was focused and was able to repent and renew with a sincere heart.  I can feel the strength from partaking fervently of the bread and water.  I needed that strength because before that I was feeling overwhelmed and discouraged.  I needed that second opportunity to humble myself before God and put my life, once again, in the Savior's hands.

When I finally got home, we had a birthday celebration.  It was so wonderful having Jon there celebrating with us!  The family bought me a mirror to go over my dresser, and Dad got me a new Hello Kitty watch because I asked him to fix my old one for my birthday, but he bought another one on clearance instead along with a special two-year warranty so that I can be guaranteed of it's working for me at least that long.  I thought the gifts were very thoughtful, and I love them.  We also ate potstickers, which were delicious, and then we had root beer floats.  It was so fun doing madlibs for my birthday and also just visiting with the family.

After that, I visited Sylvia next door.  Kellie and Christ have moved to Texas and she is alone until Bob and his family move in come May.  I know it is lonely for her, and it was good to visit with her.  I also invited her to come watch the Joseph Smith movie with the family tonight.  She declined, which I figure she would, but I think she knows I care, and I hope she will come over one of these long winter evenings so that we can keep her company.

Then I had two more hours of meetings which went well.  Actually, I was a half hour late for the first meeting because of visiting Sylvia, but I wasn't real worried about it and didn't miss much.  While I was at the meetings, Dad, Katrina and Thomas watched old home movies, and when I got home we had Family Home Evening.  Katrina gave a wonderful lesson on the Holy Ghost and then we watched the Joseph Smith movie which was also wonderful.  I have been studying the First Vision lately, Matt, and was able to hear President Geslison speak on it again today at the ward conference I attended.  I am know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ appeared to the prophet Joseph!  What a wonderful manifestation of God's love for His children that he still speaks to us through prophets today.  With God with us, what can be against us?

Well, that is our week, Matt.  What is yours? I can't wait to read about it!  Have a wonderful day and a wonderful week.  I know that you are doing the work of the Lord and that He will continue to guide and bless you with His spirit.

P.S. I forgot to tell you about the present I got from Lily.  Cassandra took a video of her and on it she said, "Happy Birtday, Grandma," and "I love you!"  She also sang a song.  It was so cute, and the perfect present.

Jan 20--Letter From Matt

I don't belive that the packge has gotten here yet, as of about 2 weeks ago, it hadn't. I'm fairly certain that it hasn't gotten here yet, but I'm not sure. I'm about an hour and a half from culiacan, so I don't get notified when my pacages get to the mission office. I would call them and ask them rightnow but I can't because they are really busy right now. I'm almost sure that it hasn't gotten there

I checked with the mission office and there isn't a single package for me. So there you go.

Hey Mom, Who are we teaching? Ellery went to Church this Sunday for the first time! He said that he liked it, we are going to be visiting him today!  He's very nice and always prays about what we teach him to see if it's true or not. I'm still in the process of getting to know him better. His wife didn't go to church this Sunday though, neither did his step son, so we have to help them this week.

We are also teaching a less active family and this is the third Sunday in a row that Martina (The Matriarch of the family) has gone to church. This year her new-year goal is to bring every one of her sons and daughters to church. I like Martina's family! They're very fun people, When we went to her house this Sunday, what we assume was a road runner was chasing her grand kids around and screeching at them. It looked like a very demonic chicken whatever it was.

Kareli didn't go to church, which is bad, she didn't wake up. We talked to her later that day on Sunday. We're trying to understand what she needs.

What am I studying? Well, I just read about Abinadi, those chapters are very good chapters and I loved reading them! I don't have anything specific right now.

I'm sorry for this short letter,  I'm going to write more next week.

Elder Oliver and Elder Wilde got transferred to other places in the mission, Elder Wilde didn't go too far, he's still in the zone, and so we're going to see him every now and again, but Elder Oliver is long gone! Haha, Elder Juarez is going to get here as our new District Leader and He's going to be training Elder Martinez. Elder Sullivan is still my companion! :)
Love you!

Jan 19--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Happy Birthday!!!  Do you realize that in less than a day after you get this, you will officially be twenty one years old?  Yay!!!!  So...did you get the SD card.  If you've gotten it already, it's a miracle.  Also, please, please, please tell me if you got our Christmas package.  It was not the one Grandpa and Grandma sent you, it was another one.  I really need to know if you got it.  Please, right now, before you read any further, send me an email telling me if you got the package or not.  Do not read any further till you DO THAT!

Whew.  Okay, back to my email.  Thank you for your last letter.  It was very informative, and I really enjoyed reading it.  To keep me from having to ask the same questions in every letter, just remember one "who" and two "what's"  Who did you teach last week?  What else did you do?  What are you studying?  Ha ha.  I hope that your week was good, Matt. I am glad that you are teaching Ellery, and I hope you keep me posted on how it is going.  I'm glad that you are working up a storm!  Are you still the Zone leader, or are you in a different zone now?  As a Zone leader, how do you choose topics to teach about?  I'm sure it has something to do with a still small voice, ha ha.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on Mosiah 4.  I like how your words about the scripture put into perspective our total dependence and utter reliance on the pure love of Jesus Christ.  None of us deserve any blessing, any help, and certainly none of us did anything to deserve the atonement.  We are all beggars, unable to earn any part of His suffering, and yet He gave it freely.  No wonder King Benjamin also says that if we spend every minute of every day praising God, we would still be unprofitable servants.  There is no way we can repay him!  All we can do is to use the gift He freely gave to become like Him and, when we return to Him, to find that we know Him because we have become like Him.

It has been a good week, except for the middle where I had to stay home sick from work one day and go to the doctor and get antibiotics, but on the bright side, I was back to work the very next day, and during that one day at home, I got a lot of sleep and I read a lot.  I finished reading North and South the day after.  I think I told you that it's not a book about the Civil War, but about a young woman who moves from Northern England to Southern England and how she overcomes the prejudices she has of her new southern neighbors, and how her associates have to overcome their prejudices of her.  You know, even though those who shout "prejudice" the loudest would flatly deny it, prejudice is rarely one-sided.  Anyway, because of being sick and because of having a good book to read, I didn't get much done this week, ha ha.

I need to backtrack a little and tell you that Monday night we went over to the Taggs for a neighborhood get-together.  It was really fun.  We watched the video of the neighborhood's productions of "Scrooge" which you were too old to be in, Matt, but Miriam, Katrina, and Thomas were all in it.  It was so cute!  Miriam had an overbite because it was when the orthodontist had just finished over-correcting her under bite, Katrina had the fanciest costume in the play, and Thomas was supposed to pass out candy canes during one of the songs, but somehow never got around to it.  I loved seeing all the kids of the neighborhood the way they used to be.  I couldn't even recognize some of them.  They also wanted to watch their production of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas," but Thomas violently opposed the idea of everyone seeing him on stage in green tights as Grinch Jr.  For whatever reason, we didn't end up watching it.

On Thursday, Katrina took luggage to school and she with the others of her drama group who were going headed off to the theater association's workshop thingy.  She didn't bring a phone, and I didn't hear a thing until about 4 on Saturday.  On Friday I was still taking it easy and Thomas was at Hayden's, so after work, Miriam and I watched a documentary about how horrible all the food we eat is.  She likes to watch documentaries, and it was fun to watch it with her and try to separate truth from scare tactics.  After watching it, we both vowed to go to the farmer's market every Saturday when spring comes along, ha ha.  I think Thursday she and I also went out on an ice cream run.  It was fun to spend time together.  After watching the documentary, I drove in to the laundry where I had the great privilege of helping Dad seat a new toilet.  After that we ate out and then...you guessed it. We came home, ate ice cream and watched a movie--a John Wayne movie, which we were too tired to finish, ha ha.

Saturday I cleaned and also worked hard on compiling stuff about you, Matt, for the ward history.  I had started it earlier, and only had to add pictures and captions, but that took me a long, long time.  I really felt impressed to do it, though, and I got it done.  I also cleaned the house, and Dad and I went to Thomas's game.  They didn't do so well.  They were missing their "star player," and were playing tenth graders for the first time instead of ninth graders who have been easy for them to beat.  Anyway, those two facts kind of freaked them out because they were playing no where near their abilities.  If they had been, they would have given those guys a run for their money.  After that, Dad, Miriam, Thomas and I went to the mall.  Dad and I mall walked while Thomas and Miriam dinked around.  Well, before that we went to the car wash, which ended up being good because we waited at least 15 minutes for our turn, and had fun talking together.  After the mall, we got dinner at Wendy's and ate it together at home.  Katrina got home around 9:00 and it was fun to hear her tell us all about her trip.  I hope she writes about some of it to you, Matt.

Today I went to five hours of church, and now I am home writing to you.  I went to lots of church because it is ward conference time again, so I join the other members of the stake young women presidency and visit wards for their ward conferences.  We had two today.  I taught part of the lesson given to the youth, and I got the best part to teach because I get to talk about an amazing article from the New York Times.  I love the article and the whole lesson topic which about the importance of sharing family stories.  Other parts of the lesson were on gospel-centered aspects of the subject, but it was nice to also bring in this article to find out what a major publication was saying about it.

Basically, Matt, kids who learn family stories are better equipped to handle the ups and downs of life.  They are able to better deal with stress and to overcome trials.  They also have a more positive outlook on their family's past.  What this last point means to me is that, though their pasts may be no better than other people's pasts, they have a more positive memory of it.  It's pretty cool, Matt.  And what is also totally cool is that if you get on family search now, you can add family photos and stories, AND you can see the photos and stories of your ancestors that other people have added    Later on we will be having family home evening.  Miriam is giving the lesson, so I look forward to that.  Tomorrow is a holiday, so we are all off work and school.  How cool is that!  We haven't decided what we are going to do.  We'll probably talk about it during family home evening.

Okay, Matt, now it's Sunday night.  We did a Mattlibs for you, but this time Dad wrote it and inserted the changes, so when you read it, don't blame me.  Just kidding.  He did a good job for a rookie.  I hope you like it, Matt, and that you have the best of birthdays serving the Lord and our fellow man.  I love you!



Jan 13

Hey Mom, well I hope you liked my last letter.... I just don't really know what to write sometimes. I want to be able to help you all, and so I wish I could write better, but oh well.... :)
What am I studying? Well, good question. right now I'm in Mosiah 4 and I was thinking about something that it says:

"16 And also, ye yourselves will succor those that stand in need of your succor; ye will administer of your substance unto him that standeth in need; and ye will not suffer that the beggar putteth up his petition to you in vain, and turn him out to perish. 17 Perhaps thou shalt say: The man has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand, and will not give unto him of my food, nor impart unto him of my substance that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just—
18 But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent; and except he repenteth of that which he hath done he perisheth forever, and hath no interest in the kingdom of God.
 19 For behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance which we have, for both food and raiment, and for gold, and for silver, and for all the riches which we have of every kind?"

I agree with him. We are all condemmed and are not our punishments just? God is a just God and to Him we are all beggars. He sent His son Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ doesn't have to help us. We're all beggars and our punishments of eternal condemnation are just, but He helps us because He loves us.

My companion's doing really good, we are just working up a storm. We had our zone meeting this week, it was a very spiritual experience. We talked about being unified with your companion among other things. It was good.

"The Hard Life as a Missionary"

" This is called a Rosca, it tasted really good, which is suprising, because last year the Rosca that we ate tasted horrible."

"That is a Big Bag of Cheetos"

We are teaching someone named Ellery (el-airy). He is living with an inactive member of the Church and I think that they are planning to get married soon (or we hope that we can get them married soon) He's like a Internet guru psychologist person who has strange religious beliefs. It's fun teaching him. He prayed to ask if the church is true and he says that he had a dream confirming that it is. We are going to teach him tonight!

I love you mom I'm sorry that I'm not the best writer but this is it for today!
I hope that you have a wonderful week! I love you and I pray for you.

Jan 12--Pictures of the Christmas Windows we Painted as a Family

Jan 12--Dear Elder

Dear Matt,

Hi, and thank you for the wonderful letter that you sent last week.  I really enjoyed hearing about what you are doing.  I don't ask as many questions in my letters than maybe I should because I think that you know the questions I have in my mind.  How are you doing?  Who are you teaching?  What are you studying and pondering?  How is your companion?  I love it when you tell me about all those things and whatever else is important to you.  I am glad that you and your companion could go on splits with the other missionaries and help them to get along with each other.  I hope that they are doing better.

I really don't have much to say about this week.  Sunday evening we tried to make a video to send to you for your birthday, but it didn't work out.  Monday night, we were able to make the video and I sent it to you via snail mail on Thursday.  I really hope that you get it.  I don't even care if you get it for your birthday, just so long as you get it at all, ha ha.  It is a long, kind of boring video--74 minutes, so you can watch it bit by bit if you want.  We just wanted to send you something more than usual.  If you do get it by your birthday, that would pretty much be a miracle.  Also, Sunday night we had a family home evening lesson given by me.  It was on keeping our covenants.  Dad is giving the lesson this coming week.

This week I also did monthly shopping and other vague, uninteresting things.  I worked very hard at the high school to help the special needs kids that I track to get good grades.  Thursday was the last day of the semester.  The great thing about that is that the kids and I got Friday off.  The sad thing is that Dad didn't :(  Still, Friday was very fun.  Elizabeth and her two little girls came to visit me and Katrina.  Katrina was so sweet and played with the girls and kept them happy while Elizabeth and I painted plaster nativity figures that I got Elizabeth's family for Christmas.  Thomas hung out with Jon till five.  They shopped and did errands and then barbequed pork chops.  I had a little taste of one, and it was delicious.  When Dad came home, he and I went to the temple and it was a wonderful experience.  After that we went home and watched North and South which is not a movie about the civil war, but a movie about a young woman who moves from south England to north.  We really enjoyed it.  Miriam, Katrina, and Thomas went to the movie theater and watched "Saving Mr. Banks" which is a movie that I really like.

Also this week, I have been going over your letters for the year, Matt, and compiling excerpts of them to give to Brother Sales to put in the ward history.  The excerpts I am choosing are the ones about your missionary work and your thoughts about missionary work and the gospel.  It is slow going, and I am now in September of your letters.  It is good to skim through your letters, Matt, and see your growth and the lessons you have learned.  Thank you so much for taking the time to write to us.  I know that it must be very hard to do.

Tomorrow we are going to Rick and Kelly's ward to hear Ben's pre-mission talk.  He goes into the MTC on Wednesday, I believe.  We have to leave at 7:00 in the morning to get to their 9:00 church in time.  Today I made soup and a nice green salad to bring to the farewell.  I have also cleaned, worked on your history, and even read a bit.  I am reading North and South because the series was so good, I wanted to try the book.  Now I think that I am going to cut Thomas's hair.  Oh, we also went to Thomas's basketball game which they won, but he says that's because they were playing ninth graders and that when they play their fellow tenth graders, they probably won't do so well, ha ha.

Ben's Farewell

Other random things.  I've been getting more sleep lately, hooray!  Oh, Miriam broke up with Preston.  It looks like it's for good this time, although you can never be real sure.  She works less, now, and just started a new semester.

Okay, now its Sunday evening and we are home from Ben's farewell. I drove up to their house while Dad slept because he didn't get much sleep last night.  Ben gave a very good talk about spiritual learning and worldly learning, the importance of each, and reconciling the two.  After their meetings we went to their house for lunch and to visit.  My cousin, Wallace's oldest daughter, lives fairly close to them now, and she and her family were there, so it was nice to reconnect with them.  Jessica and Henry were there. Sadly, Elizabeth and her family couldn't come.  Still, it was a very enjoyable time.  When we got home, everyone slept for an hour or so, but we are all awake now.  I think we will probably have a family home evening lesson given by Dad tonight.  That will be nice.  Elizabeth is planning a family reunion in July.  The cabin we will all be staying at is very nice, so that should be fun.

Well, Matt, please tell us what you've been thinking, teaching, and doing over this last week, and have a wonderful week to come.  Remember that Heavenly Father and your family love you very much!


Jan 6--Letter From Matt

Hey Mom thanks for all of the pictures!!! and please let grandma, grandpa and Cassandra know that (even though this sounds weird) I find it very hard to concentrate while I'm writing, I barely can write you guys (you dad, Katrina, Thomas, and my mission president) in the time that's allotted to us (two hours) So that's why I usually don't write back..... but I can try. It's really not that I don't want to.

Am I hitting my stride? Well I feel like I need to improve a lot, but at the same time there are times when I can feel the Savior's Love. Sometimes in stressful moments, sometimes while I'm on my knees and sometimes after hearing or living an amazing experience. I feel clean. I feel loved, and I try my hardest to love. That doesn't mean that I'm like perfect or anything like that, a lot of the time I just ask my self how God can love us as much as He does even though we are so imperfect and forgetful.

I don't talk too much about him, but my companion helps me out a lot. He's one of the best examples that I've had on my mission. We had to do divisions (splits) to help a companionship. I spent all day with one Elder and I tried to give him advice and things like that, but it just wasn't really working out so after we had gotten home we started talking about the problems they had and I got an impression, and so I testified to him: "I know that my companion loves me; what more can I do but love him in return?" It's hard to explain the situation and why it was so important that I said that, but the Spirit came into the room and carried those words to the heart of that Elder. From what I saw, in that moment he firmly decided to love his companion instead of judge him.

And while I was on divisions Elder Sullivan was, of course, changing the whole life of the other Elder, training him, helping him solve all of his life problems and doing a ton more for him than I was able to do for the other Elder. haha :)

"Elder S. W. Sullivan--Yup, my camera is pretty darn cool"

Who were we sending letters to? Why to you and the family! A lot of people were closed down last week on Monday.
I'm sorry to hear that you were so sad about Lilly leaving, but pretty soon you will have a ton of grandkids I'm sure haha :) just be patient!
anyway, The power went out about a half an hour ago and so we had to go do something else for a little while, but thankfully it's now back on so that we can finish up writing. We went with the other Elders and order Sushi :) Yummm

Well, what else can I write about right now? I'm just happy, this has been one of the hardest times in my mission, but at the same time, it's so rewarding! I could never repay Him for what He has done for me. I hope to become even better than I am.

"This is called a 'Selfy'"

Oh, one of the recent converts just barely called! Her name is Dionicia and she's a very funny person, she's the best. I asked her what she needed and she said: "Nothing," haha! she's about 50 years old and is the mother of 9 kids. She doesn't know how to read but is learning and was just calling to tell us that she had been reading and that she was able to understand more words! haha....

Anyway, this week is going to be fun, we are going to have a couple of meetings and try to help out everyone some more! Pray for us!!! hahaha

I love you all. The Lord is watching over us all. Lets all try to serve Him just a little bit more and be a little bit more like He is.

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


Jan 5 Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you doing this week?  I hope that things are going well, that you are really hitting your stride, that you are declaring the work without fear and with power from on high. I really enjoyed your last letter, so thanks for writing it.

I am so glad that you at least had the package from Grandpa and Grandma to open on Christmas.  Also, before I forget, what kind of SD card does your camera have.  Please tell us in this very next email because we need to know.  I am so happy, and also jealous, that you got to eat tamales on Christmas.  Do you know how to do any Mexican cooking, or do people always cook for you?  You'd better learn all you want to know quickly so that you can do some awesome cooking for us when you get home, ha ha.  You may want to get some recipes of your favorite dishes if you don't know how to make them. We have some pretty good Latino markets around here, so hopefully you'll be able to get the ingredients you need.

I am sorry that you didn't feel the Christmas spirit as strongly this year.  I am happy, though, that you were able to listen to some devotional talks and read about Jesus' birth.  I am also glad that you found an internet cafe to write letters in.

Yes, Lily really is getting big, isn't she?  It was so fun to hear her talking and see how much she's grown.  It's sad, though, because it's hard to understand what she's saying over the phone, and I bet that's frustrating for her to have us not understand what she's saying.  The other day she called me up on the phone, and it was really fun to talk to her.  She also left the family a nice long cute message on the answering machine. As far as I can make out, she said, "Oh, hey! Hey, hey, hey.  I got's it...Hi, Mommy.It's not working. Oh...Uh oh...No..hold it...Bye ya'll!  Bye y'all...She's going to the movie.  Uh oh.  She's sad.  She sad, Mommy.  She needs hugs."
I think she was talking about her baby doll there at the end, ha ha.  Anyway, we sure had a nice visit with them when they came.

Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily left last Saturday at 4.  They loaded up, and Lily yelled, "Bye. Bye. see ya soon!"  Not soon enough!  Cassandra called the next day to let us know that they got home okay, and it was really good to hear her voice.  Monday night I dreamed that Cassandra was back here again.  I knew that for them to be here, they would have had to turn around and driven back here the same day they got home, and I knew they couldn't do that, so I kept asking Cassandra if they really were here, and she kept saying, "Yes," but when I asked her to promise, she wouldn't answer.  I woke up crying because I knew they really hadn't come back.

Monday we had to drive 2 and a half hours to a national park so that Thomas could become a junior ranger.  Yes, Matt, you will be proud to know that your baby brother is an official, sworn-in, badge-carrying junior ranger.  He had to do it for history in order to get an "A."  We had a nice time there and back visiting and talking, and we learned a whole lot.  It was not the way we would have chosen to spend our Monday off, but it turned out to be fun.

Thomas, The Junior Ranger

Tuesday, of course, was New Year's Eve, and I think Dad and I did something together during the day.  That night, Thomas went off with friends, and Miriam, Katrina, Dad, and I played "Mormon Bridge" together.  I won.  We watched a movie after that, and I went to bed early.  I did wake up close to midnight long enough to text Jon a "Happy New Year," because I figured he'd be awake, and to hear all the fireworks and noise outside.  Dad told me later that Katrina came down and told him that they had to watch the ball drop, so Dad and Katrina did that.  I figured that, unlike many things around here, the New Year was perfectly capable of doing it's thing without my help, and that's why I went to bed, ha ha.

The days run together in my mind, but Dad and I walked in the canyon a couple of times during the break, which I really enjoyed.  Katrina drove us to Cabela's to get some hours of driving in.  I think that may have been on Monday.  Also, Katrina and Thomas went to the movies New Year's day.  Whatever we did, it was a good break from the old grind.

We had to go to two days of school and work last week, Thursday and Friday.  We all felt cheated for having to go to those two days of school, I tell you.  So now we are back to the old grind, but we have new memories, new resolve, and new clothes, ha ha.  I got a hair cut on Friday, so now it's short.  Saturday I had a meeting and then I worked at home, and so did the kids.  Dad went to the gun show.  Saturday night, we were able to have the sister missionaries over for dinner.  It was pretty exciting because that opportunity doesn't come around much here.  We fed them roast and vegetables, salad, and rolls.  Afterward they gave us a wonderful message about looking forward, not back, and we had ice cream for dessert.  I'm so glad that they came.  They left us with a wonderful spirit.

My Haircut

Today was a nice day at church.  It was Jordan's mission farewell, and also we had two baby blessings.  In Sunday School we had a lesson about God the Father, and in Relief Society our lesson was on following the prophet.  We are fasting today, but I have a meeting at 6:00, so we are going to eat at 5:00.  We are also making your birthday gift today, and will send it off tomorrow.  I sure hope it gets to you before the big day!  It isn't much, but we wanted to send you something besides the birthday money Dad sent.  I hope that you like it.  Remember to tell us what kind of SD card your camera takes.

I love you, Matt.  You are doing an awesome job.  Don't let Satan tell you otherwise!  We are all praying for you and love you very much.  Have a wonderful week.



Dec. 30 Email from Matt

Hey Mom thanks for the letter! I did like your gift from the heart, and as you had guessed, the pictures didn't work out, but don't worry because I got to play the matching game :)
So how's everything going now that the holidays are winding to a close? I just realized that Katrina is totally going to graduate Highschool.... I hadn't thought about that.... weird.
Lilly is just growing right up! I know what you mean, soon she'll be going to school and you will be seeing a replay of your own life. That's strangely beautiful and melancholy :)

Ok, well this week, I got to open the packet from Grandma and Grandpa the day of Christmas, because I knew that you were going to be sad if I didn't have anything to open up on Christmas, so, I waited :) And then we went to Ceuta because a member had invited us to eat breakfast and then we did some other visits in ceuta, came back, ate lunch and walked to the house where we were going to skype, I had a really fun hour skyping you and then we went to Ceuta to talk with a member (Who also made us Tamales) and then went home, a very unproductive uneventful Christmas, but it was way fun because I got to talk with you :)

It just doesn't feel too much like Christmas, there isn't any snow, there isn't any Christmas smell, the special feeling that I feel every year, (wherever I am) was marred a little bit but it was there. We listened to devotional talks and read about the birth of Jesus Christ. That always brings the Christmas Spirit. We thought we weren't going to be able to find an open internet cafe to write in, but there are some Jehovah's witnesses that live close to our house that run an internet cafe and they don't celebrate Christmas so we kind of took advantage of that :) The Lord works in mysterious ways hehe.
anyway, it looks like that's going to be all for today. I love you mom and I hope that you have a great week :)

P.S. Reply from Matt

Wow, How nice of him! Yeah, he did send me a letter about the memories that he has of me :) I loved reading it. He's still really cool :) Happy Christmas and a merry new year!!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dec 30 P.S.

Hi, Matt.  I forgot to enclose Thomas's gift from the heart, so I will do it here.  I hope, btw, that you liked the "gift from the heart" that I sent you about our morning with Lily complete with pictures.  I also encouraged Thomas and Katrina to send you a gift from the heart.  I know Thomas did--his memories and thoughts of you.  I think Katrina did, too, but I'm not sure.

Thomas's gift from the heart to me:

We all know the story of the shoemaker and the elves, every time a poor shoemaker goes to bed ,little elves make amazing shoes for him to sell the next day and before too long, he and his wife are very well off.  Too bad we can't all have elves like that, right?  Sometimes it seems like we do though.  Ever gone to bed and it seems like the house is cleaner than it was when you went to bed?  I may not be an elf, but I do have one thing in common with elves.  I have a problem with sleeping.  So this year you're not getting a gift with ribbons and bows, no, none of that.  Your gift can't fit under a Christmas tree or in a box and you can't really touch it.  That doesn't mean it's worthless, though.  I'm sure you've guessed what my gift is by now, but I'll say it anyway.  I've been your little night elf.  why has the floor been swept really bad in the mornings?  I'm bad a sweeping.  That night that you heard someone doing dishes up stairs?  Yup.  That was me.  So for the gift from my heart to you for being your little elf, if ever my ears are feeling pointy, I'll come in and do some more elf magic.  You won't get rich like the shoemaker and his wife, and I can't make toys like Santa's elves do, but I can do what I can do to make your life just a little bit easier.



Saturday, January 18, 2014

Dec 29 Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi, how are you?  It was so wonderful to Skype with you!  My watched had stopped, so I still thought it was 2:30 when I saw you'd tried to Skype us.  No wonder Dad kept saying that we had to get on Skype, ha ha!  I'm so glad you didn't have to wait long before I saw you'd been calling.  Like I said, I really enjoyed the time we had to Skype with you.  I thought it was the best Skype session ever.  Was it fun to see Lily?  She's getting so big, isn't she?  How did the rest of your Christmas day go?  I hope it was wonderful.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the movies.  It was a Christmas present from Cassandra and Emerson, and we had lots of fun.  In the evening we all got in our pajamas and did gifts from the heart before Lily went to bed.  Jon had Lily and gave her her own set of keys to play with.  Lily gave Katrina some bookmarks with pictures of her on them.  Cassandra gave Jon some certificates for Skyping sessions, Dad gave Miriam a certificate to detail her car inside and out.  I gave Cassandra a "year of Cassandra" book with journal entries of her from Dec 1989 to 1990, Katrina gave Thomas three hours of her time to do whatever he wants to do, Thomas gave me a sweet note that I will enclose because I loved it, Miriam scraped ice off Emerson's windshield the whole time they were here so he wouldn't have to, Emerson gave Dad a shooting outing, They were all sweet gifts, and we had a wonderful time.  After Lily went to bed that night, we ate our Christmas dinner which was steak, potatoes, broccoli, and salad.  Also each person had their own bottle of Martinelli's sparkling apple juice.  It was a very fun evening.  Before bed, we read the Christmas story and sang a couple of carols.

We really enjoyed having Cassandra and Emerson over on Christmas day.  It was wonderful watching Lily open her toys.  She got a music box record player.  She calls the little plastic records that come with it "DVD's."  We also got her a bath tub for her baby doll which Cassandra put in the car for her to open when she got home.  Since then, Cassandra says she's played with it and loves it.  Jonathan bought her a Darth Tater, too.  She was in gift heaven.  We also got a gift for a little baby boy that they are expecting, too.  It was fun to buy a cute little baby boy outfit.  Everyone had lots of fun opening presents.  Miriam gave everyone a gift, wasn't that sweet?  After we opened presents, Jon made us a delicious breakfast of egg and sausage bagels.  We opened Christmas crackers and ate our breakfast, and had a wonderful time.  Of course the highlight of the day was Skyping with you, Matt.  That evening, Dad, Emerson, Cassandra, Katrina, Thomas, and I all played a board game and Preston came over and he and Miriam watched a movie together.

On Thursday, we got to take care of Lily while Cassandra and Emerson went to the temple.  Dad and I took her to Costco, and then Katrina played with her, and then she went down for a nap.  It was so fun!  That evening, Emerson and Cassandra treated us all to dinner.  We had a wonderful time, the ten of us including Jon and Preston.  Lily was so cute, when Cassandra told her that her meal was macaroni and cheese, Lily cried, and said, "I want pasta!"  She wasn't happy until Cassandra called it pasta, ha ha.

Friday was our anniversary, and that morning, Emerson's brother came to visit so that he and Emerson could spend some time together.  After his brother got here, the guys went target shooting.  Preston and his step dad, Chris, came, too.  Miriam was the only one of us girls who went. While the were gone, Cassandra and Katrina cleaned the house for me for an anniversary gift while I played outside with Lily.  She loved the hammock, and the slides, but most of all she loved the "airplane" swing.  We had so much fun!  I also got out the little picnic table and we'd take little breaks to eat snacks at it.  We were out there for about an hour before she wanted to go in.  It was awesome!

After the guys got home, Dad and I went out on a date.  We watched "Saving Mr. Banks," which we both loved, and ate a late lunch together.  It was a very nice date.  Emerson, his brother, and Thomas played board games most of the day.  We also had lots of fun visiting with each other after we got home.

Saturday, Emerson, Riley, and Thomas played games again while Dad and we girls went to lunch and visited campus.  Lily had fun running around all over the place.  She also liked the driving video game at the bowling center.  We really enjoyed ourselves.  When we got home, I played outside with Lily again while Cassandra and Emerson finished packing.  After that, Riley left for home, Dad left for the gun show, and Emerson, Cassandra, and Lily left for home, too.  As they got ready to leave Lily yelled, "Good bye, good bye, see you soon!"  I wish we could see her soon.  It was very hard to see them go.  That night, Dad didn't feel well, and he still feels unwell today.  In fact, he stayed home from church. We got to talk to Cassandra a few hours ago.  They got home safe and sound, and Lily sang me a song on the phone.  She is very happy to be home.  I wanted to do something as a family tonight, so we are watching The Christmas Carol which is all Dad is up to right now.  We hope to have a New Years family home evening lesson tonight or tomorrow night.

I hope you liked hearing a bit about our week, Matt.  I hope that you will tell us a bit about yours, too.  I love you very much!


Dec 23--Letter From Matt

Hey Mom, to answer your two first questions, no I didn't get my package (but don't get sad, I got one from Grandma and Grandpa, maybe that was the package that you were talking about...)

We did get to go to Cosalá! It was absolutely amazing, it's a colonial town and it's actually a tourist town, but only for Mexicans so it's pretty much awesome.

We did get to teach 2 of the people. One of them is the girlfriend of our first branch counselor (his name is Alberto) and she is interested about learning more and has come to church a lot, the second person is her little sister, she too is interested in the church. The third person is Alberto's work supervisor, he's from Nicaragua and is down there for Christmas break, so we didn't teach him.

I wish I could send you pictures, but I didn't take any............... Ha. Ha. Ha... about that.... my camera broke...... I'm pretty mad about it. It is in perfect condition, but, Just ask me about how it broke on Wednesday, I'll explain it then.

Elder Sullivan has been my companion for 2 weeks, I forgot to tell you about him when I wrote 2 Mondays ago.

Ok enough with the questions.

Dec 22--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hello, and Merry Christmas!!!  First, the eternal question:  Did you get your package?  I really hope so, Matt.  Next questions, How are you doing?  You said last week was hard in many ways.  I am so sorry!  Are you feeling well?  I hope so.  How was it hard?  You can tell me because I have faith, not fear.  I'd rather know than not know.  That is really great about Gregorio, and I hope that he comes to church today.  How long has Elder Sullivan been your companion?  This last letter of yours is the first time you have mentioned him by name.  Is he a gringo?  I'm guessing he is since he said he is "fantabulous," ha ha.  How long has he been out?  I'm glad your little branch is growing and that members are now giving talks in church.

Okay, now for the biggest question of all...Do you get to Skype with us on Christmas??? I heard that you may not be able to.  I find that very hard to believe, and plan on getting to see your face and hear your voice, okay?

How were all the awesome things that you were looking forward to this week.  How was the Mission Christmas Activity in Mazatlan?  Did you get to hear Elder De Hoyos? What did he say? What is a Posada?  Was it fun?  Did you hear any general authorities speak at your multi-zone conference?  And lastly, but probably most important, were you able to go to Cosala and teach the three people that love the church?  How far away was it?  Did they respond well to your message?  You really had an amazing week, Matt.  I hope you will tell us a bit about it.

I'm glad your shirts are holding up, but are they still white??

Guess what?  Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily are here!  They got in at 1:00 in the afternoon on Friday.  We have had so much fun since then!   Katrina and I got to take Lily shopping and she did very well.  She especially liked the samples at Costco, ha ha.  Dad and I took Cassandra and Emerson out to eat last night and had a very enjoyable time.  Dad bought us a book about Christ that is a harmony of the gospels and modern scripture that give a chronological account of Christ's life.  It is comprised completely of scripture, and what I have read so far has been wonderful!

Cassandra wanted to surprise you with the news that she is pregnant in this week's email to you, but i guess Thomas spilled the beans.  Isn't it exciting?  I'll let her tell you what she's having.  We are all very excited.  Hey, I think we'll try to go out without Cassandra tomorrow somehow and buy an outfit for the new baby.  How fun!!!

So, mostly we've just been home playing lots.  For my email Christmas gift to you, I have taken pictures and am compiling a pictorial commentary of our Sunday for you.  I am sending it in another email in case it doesn't send well, in which case, you'll still get this one.  Emerson, Dad, Thomas, and Jon have been playing lots of games.  Jon was over yesterday and is planning to come over again today after 7:30.

We have all enjoyed getting reacquainted with Lily.  They got in before I was off work on Friday, and Lily was quite surprised to see me when I walked into the family room after work.  She wasn't quite sure how to handle it at first, so she ran around the room talking about "Gramma" for awhile before she led me upstairs to feed me cereal.  After we'd bonded with food, she was my best friend.  In fact, food was a valuable aid in solidifying the bond between her and each one of us.  She loves the stairs and climbs up and down as often as possible.  In fact, she's inviting me to go down with her right now.

Okay, three minutes later, we're back.  We all just had breakfast for lunch and are now getting ready to go to church which starts in 15 minutes.  Lily knows lots of Christmas songs, so I hope she'll have fun singing the hymns today.  I hope that she enjoys nursery in our ward.  I hear that she gets pretty obsessive about snacks in nursery, ha ha.

It was a good week.  Now that I'm a teacher, I get lots of Christmas gifts from students and co workers, many of which are sweets, so needless to say, I am not doing the best job keeping my weight down.  I figure if I lose 20 lbs a year Jan to Aug and gain back ten every Sept-Dec, I'm probably doing okay, ha ha.  I really need to start exercising again.  That's what January is for, right?

Thomas finished his cooking merit badge this week.  Miriam finished her finals, and Katrina did stuff.  Monday night we went to Festival of Lights with Elizabeth's family.  It was very fun.  First we had dinner together, then Joy told us the Christmas story, and then we went to see the lights.  We had all the girls in our car and Daniel and Elizabeth had the boys in their car.  Later I realized that meant that they didn't get to have any little kids in their car to get excited about the lights.  I didn't feel too bad, though--they get to have little kids around all the time, ha ha.

Friday night, Cassandra's family went to bed early, and the rest of us went to a Christmas party at Renee's house.  It was nice to spend an evening with Dad's sister and her family.  At the party we got to meet Becky's friend, Jim.  He is a very nice guy, and we like him a lot.   The rest of us (Don and Renee, Bethany, and Brett's wife and kids) had a nice time eating, visiting, and singing Christmas carols.  I'm so glad that we could go.

Well, those are the highlights of our week, Matt. It is now 7:32 Sunday night.  It feels more like 9:30, I'm so tired, ha ha.  I'm glad the longest day of the year is behind us and that now the days will get longer and longer.  I can't believe that Christmas is almost here.  Soon, Christmas will be a memory, and we will be celebrating your birthday and mine.  Time sure flies when you're old.  Can you imagine how fast time must have flown for Methuselah?  Weird, really.

Courtney and her family are over visiting, and everyone is having a wonderful time.  Katrina is exhausted, though, because she's been chasing Lily all day long, and now she is playing with Courtney's girls.  She has been a real trouper.  Katrina and Thomas have also been doing their part.  Periodically, the doorbell will ring, and we will open it to neighbors dropping off more goodies.  It is good to have Courtney's family here to share them with.

Jon is supposed to be coming over, but we haven't seen him yet.  I texted him, so I hope I'll hear from him soon.  Okay, he's here now and visiting with Cassandra and Courtney.  Thomas went outside and says it's perfect out there.  So, now you know, 27 degrees is the perfect temperature, ha ha.

Well, Matt, I'd better go.  I hope the pictures get to you and that you like them.  I also hope that you have a very Merry Christmas.  Most of all, I hope that we get to Skype with you on Christmas day.  I know its chaotic, but I love seeing your face and hearing your voice.  It will be the best Christmas present ever!  We love you and miss you.


Dec 15--Letter From Matt

Elder Cole Near Year's End

Hi mom! I'm going to answer your questions: "How are you?" I'm doing pretty good, just trying to do the best I can here. "Did you have a good week last week?" Why yes I did, I get along really well w/my companion and we are becoming better teachers. "Did you get your package?" Not yet, we are going to go to Culiacan tomorrow, and I'll know if it's gotten there.  "How are your clothes holding up?" Of course, it turned out to be a very good thing that we bought extra thick shirts for me. They have been holding out wonderfully.  "Are you able to get new clothes there when you need them?" Yes. "Are you feeling the Christmas spirit?  I hope so!" I am!  "How is your companion?" he says: "Good, Fantabulous"  "What have you two been doing lately?" Well, we've been teaching the Gospel.... I don't know if that counts....
Thanks for describing your feelings! I love those special moments!
I hope that you've had a wonderful week this week.

Ok, Well, this week, Gregorio has really been showing a lot of missionary spirit. He sent us a text today saying: "If you need a 3rd companion today, you can count on my help" Sherlin and Johana are doing well and came to church this week. Strangely, Gregorio didn't go to church. We're going to ask him why he wasn't able to come. This week Elder Sullivan and I have been getting to know the area more because I've hardly worked here in La Cruz and obviously Elder Sullivan doesn't know anything about the area. :) This week, in sacrament meeting, members from Ceuta will be giving the talks! It is so exciting to see this extension grow!

This Saturday, we are going to have our Mission Christmas Activity in Mazetlán. Friday, it's possible that Elder Deollos will come to a fire side along with our Mission President and his counselors. I'm pretty pumped. This Thursday we are going to have our Branch "Posada" and that'll be fun too. Wednesday, we are going to go to Cosalá, which is a little tiny village really far away and we are going to teach 3 people that love the Church and might just get baptised. And to start it all out, tomorrow, we are going to go to a Multi-Zone conference as a Zone and it's very very very possible that a few general authorities are going to be there. So, we aren't going to be busy at all this week, we are going to be on a whole new level of busy. it's going to be awesome.

This week has been hard in a lot of ways, just remember, He is there. He Loves us. "I will not leave you comfortless : I will come  to you." John 14:18


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Dec 15--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,
Good Morning!  How are you?  Did you have a good week last week?  Did you get your package? How are your clothes holding up?  Are you able to get new clothes there when you need them?  Are you feeling the Christmas spirit?  I hope so!  How is your companion?  What have you two been doing lately?  I am so glad that you are serving the Lord as a missionary.

I loved your last letter.  I am so glad that Gregorio and the two sisters got baptized, and that it was a beautiful experience.  Telling me that it is a “softly glowing coal in (your) memory” helps me to understand how you felt as I think of times in my own life that glow softly in my mind.  It gives me such a reverent feeling to read about your experience.

It’s around 8:00 on Sunday morning and everyone else is asleep.  I have no lights on, except Christmas lights on the garland, and I’m listening to “O Holy Night” playing softly.  It is one of my favorite Christmas hymns.  I especially like the phrase “fall on your knees…” because it reminds me of the glory and wonder of our Savior, Jesus Christ, and the awe the shepherds felt that holy night.  I fills me with awe as I listen.

It is so good to be in a nice warm house, sitting comfortably, writing to you.  I am so thankful for our blessings!  I feel so grateful to be able to turn on warm water to bathe in and to crawl in to a soft warm bed to sleep in.  I never want to take those things for granted, and I know that there are many people who don’t have those things.  Dad was talking the other night about how when much is given, much is required.  I hope that we can use our blessings to serve God and not bury them like the unwise and slothful servant.

Displaying IMG_20131215_092344_425.jpg
Blurry Picture of the Nativity

This week has been a nice one.  We’ve wanted to do something to remember Grandma because it was a year in November that she passed away, so I called Sister Thompson at the rest home.  Do you remember her, Matt?  She taught you in primary when you were 3 or 4.  I asked her if she remembered you, and she said, “Of course I remember Matthew!  How could I ever forget him?”  We told her you were on a mission in Mexico and she thought that was wonderful.  Anyway, she still works at the rest home, even though she’s old enough to be living there, herself, ha ha.  She is an amazing lady, and I love and admired her very much.

Displaying IMG_20131215_092338_857.jpg
Blurry Picture of Christmas Upstairs

I made an appointment with Sister Thompson for the family to come to the rest home and have family home evening with the elderly residents there, in memory of Grandma.  Last Monday night was the night we went, and it was a wonderful experience.  Miriam couldn’t go because her class went late that night, so it was just Dad, Katrina, Thomas, and I.  Dad conducted the lesson.  He started by introducing us and then asking each resident present about their life experiences.  Then we had an opening prayer.  We took turns letting a resident of the home chose a piece from our little wooden clothespin nativity set, reading a scripture about the piece they chose and leading a Christmas song for all to sing that fit the character chosen.  At first we played a CD for accompaniment, but then Katrina began to play for us, and she did a wonderful job.  It was a good experience, and each family member commented later on how much easier and more rewarding it was to connect with the elderly after caring for Grandma the way we did.

We did some Christmas shopping this week.  Miriam and I went to the mall a couple of times including yesterday.  What a zoo!  If I had known how crazy it would be, I never would have gone, ha ha.  It was really nice to be with Miriam, though.  We bought Katrina PJ’s and Preston some jeans.  The other time she and I went to the mall was with Katrina and Thomas on Thursday.  That is the day of the week that Dad works at the laundry until late, so we called him to come join us at the food court, and he did.  We didn’t enjoy spending money on food away from home, but we were able to have dinner together as a family and enjoy each other’s company.  Dad went back to work after that, and we continued shopping.  We bought presents for Cassandra’s family, and it was so much fun.

Besides shopping, we have had some nice nights around the Christmas tree.  I think it was last Sunday that we finally got it all decorated, ha ha.  I love to sit around it, read about the life of our Savior, and sing Christmas songs.   We don’t have the Christmas story books this year, though, because we thought it would be fun to wrap them up for Elizabeth’s kids to open one every day till Christmas.   We are going to see the lights at Canyon View with them tomorrow.

Neither Katrina nor Thomas got chosen to be in the play, “Emma,” but they seem okay about it.  Thomas has gotten to hang out with friends a bit this week, and wanted to work out with the wrestling team in the mornings, but there were no workouts until next week, so he has that to “look forward to” on Monday.  Katrina also got to hang out with a friend, and Dad and I watched Dr. Who with her yesterday.  It is a nice way to connect with our girl.

Work has been going well.  I brought “Stone Fox” for one of the students I work with to read.  He is really enjoying it, and I think it is the first chapter book he has ever read.  Do you remember that book, Matt?  It is so good!  I am hoping that he will learn to love reading.  I really enjoy working one-on-one with the students.  I also enjoy taking them out into the community to gain experience, and being with them in the classroom.  I am also getting the hang of working every day.  I don’t come home and crash the way I used to, and am able to get done what I need to do around here and be a good mom to the family.
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Unblurry Picture of Downstairs

Friday, Dad and I did some shopping early on, and then we all went to the ward Christmas party.  Jon joined us, too, and we had a wonderful time.  We enjoyed eating the delicious food, visiting as a family, and talking to ward members.  It was a nice laid-back time.  We left quite early, and were home by 7:30 which is when I went to bed for the night.  I woke up a few times, but was able to fall back asleep after awhile, and didn’t officially wake up till 9:30 the next morning.  It was so nice to get so much sleep.

Yesterday, Katrina went to a friend’s, Thomas went skeet shooting with the young men, Dad worked at the laundry and took a nap, and Miriam and I shopped, as I mentioned previously.  After that, Dad and I went out to eat and shopped a bit and then he went to his friend Patrick’s house to work on guns.  He and Patrick are becoming good friends, and I’m so glad.  I got to bed early again, and had another good sleep.

Well, that’s about it.  Today we are going to church (of course) and Dad and Thomas plan to take cookies to their home teaching family.  I look forward to having some family time tonight and hopefully having a lesson together.  Last Sunday, btw, we watched the First Presidency Christmas Broadcast and ate good food.  It was wonderful.  After that is when we decorated the Christmas tree.  Oh, did I tell you we painted the windows at the laundry as a family for a Christmas present for Vic?  We did.  It was a couple of weeks ago, at the beginning of December, and it was very fun.  Actually, Katrina, Thomas, and I painted while Dad worked, but he helped a bit, too.  Miriam was at work.  Katrina painted a Christmas tree and a wreath, Thomas painted a snow man and a snow lady, and I painted “Season’s Greetings” because that is what Vic likes the window to say.  Also, just so you know, It is freezing around here.  It’s amazing how quickly we get used to it, though.  Of course, car heaters and furnaces help out at ton, ha ha!

I love you, Matt.  Have a good week, okay?  Hey, I hope you get a chance to do some Christmas caroling!  It would be a great missionary tool.  You could give candy canes with a scripture taped to them.  I wish that the family was more interested in caroling than they are.  When we dropped the Christmas story book to Elizabeth’s family, I could only get them to sing one song, and I’m afraid that is the extent of our Christmas caroling for the year, ha ha.  Anyway, take care, Matt.  Our prayers are with you, and we look forward to your letter!