Sunday, March 23, 2014

March 23--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,
How wonderful it was to get your last email!  I love reading about the people that you are teaching and what is happening in their lives.  I am so sorry that Jose's uncle died, and I hope that you will be able to talk to everyone that you want to this week, including all of the smiling families you encounter while you are walking in the street.

I think that is wonderful that you were able to apply what you learned in D&C 58 to your life and that doing so blessed you so much.  I hope that you have lots of success contacting the people that the members at the activity referred you to.

The clay pots that you described sound really neat.  It will be so fun to see them!  The best thing, though, was reading that you really love me.  I love you, too Matt.  Thank you so much for being my boy.  My love for you wouldn't change no matter what, but the good things that you do in your life bring me a lot of happiness, and there isn't a nicer thing you could do for me than to be such a faithful missionary.

We have had a very nice week this week.  It was the last week of the term, so I spent a lot of time at work helping students to finish up their assignments and get the turned in.  We have had a lot of substitutes lately because my one co-worker is still out after being in a car accident, and my other co-worker took some time off to be with her daughter who had a baby this week.  They will both, hopefully, be back to work tomorrow.  Their being gone didn't increase my workload or anything, but I miss having them around.

Neither Katrina nor I can remember what we did on Monday night, but I do remember getting to talk to Lily on the phone Monday after work while I did my grocery shopping.  Cassandra was making pizza, and Lily was pretty excited about that.  She had fun telling me all about stuff, and I had tons of fun listening.  I think we had chicken soup for dinner that night.  It's weird that I can't remember what we did that evening.

Tuesday Thomas's track team was doing a fundraiser at the school.  It was a hypnotist, and Thomas wanted to go, so that is what we did for family home evening.  It was kind of a boring thing to watch, but I think the students on stage were having fun.  Anyway, we did our duty and supported the track team.

Wednesday night, Thomas did most of his eagle scout project.  He had 10 kids and 9 adults all over at the church working hard to clean and repair PE equipment for Hayden's mom who is the PE teacher at the elementary school.  We cut, filled, and sewed beanbags, scrubbed stuff, and tried to repair the big parachute, but we didn't finish that yet.  Sister Spotten I are going to work on that some more this week.  Thomas worked hard going door to door and calling on the phone getting people to help out, and everyone really came through.

Thursday was the last day of school for the term and for the week, so Dad and I took advantage of the long weekend to book a 2 night get-away.  We left Thursday after Dad taught night school and didn't get back home again till 4:30 in the afternoon on Saturday.  We had lots of fun together.  We didn't really have any plans of what we wanted to do.  It was just fun to spend time together doing whatever we felt like at the moment.  Let's see... we ended up touring the state capitol, going to a museum, visiting a family history center, watching the new Muppet movie, eating lots of good food, and kicking back and taking it easy.  The state capitol is so cool.  If I had realized how beautiful it was, I would have visited it much sooner, ha ha.  It was a very fun weekend.

While we were gone, Thomas had a track meet.  He participated in a co-ed relay, and he handed off the baton to Abby, but she wasn't running fast enough and he almost ran her over.  Luckily there was no on in the lane next to them, so he dodged her, and for some reason they weren't disqualified for that, so that's good.  Thomas has been doing a lot of reading lately which is good since he has a hard time falling asleep at night.  First he read "The Other Side of Heaven," and now he is reading Brandon Sanderson books which he really seems to enjoy.  In fact, everyone seems to enjoy Brandon Sanderson's books, so I think that when I finish reading Les Miserables, I am going to read one of his.  I'm at the part in Les Miserables where Jean Valjean has emerged from the sewers of Paris, bearing Marius on his shoulders and is again accosted by Javert.  I'm glad I'm reading it again because I'd forgotten how detailed and gripping the story is, having only watched the play these last few years.  I'm reading the unabridged version, Matt, but I have to admit that I skip some of the parts where Hugo goes off on tangents, ha ha.

Saturday after that, Dad went off into the boonies and had a ton of fun.  Katrina, Thomas,and I made and ate dinner together and had fun talking.  After that, we decorated for Easter, and the kids got a surprise.  Matt, do you remember the mini bear village that we'd bring out at Easter time when you were little?  Well, I found one on Ebay and bought it.  I put the little pieces in medium and small plastic Easter eggs.  A couple of weeks ago I began growing wheat grass, and it is now tall and green, so yesterday when we decorated, I put the plastic eggs in the grass. After all the decorating was done, I told the kids that they hadn't inspected the decorations good enough, so they started examining things and found the little bears, cars, swings, houses, etc, in the eggs.  They were pretty excited, especially Katrina.  Now we have a little bear village in the living room for Easter.

Jon just came by for a minute and I showed him the village.  He remembered it, and thought it was cool that I found one on Ebay since we'd lost all the bears from the original village and I had gotten rid of it.

Katrina gave a talk in church today, and did a wonderful job.  She chose for her topic "Individual Worth,' and shared with us Doctrine and Covenants chapter 18 verse 10 which says, "Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God." She asked the question, why, when we are so weak and fallible, and God is so great and perfect, are we of worth to him.  She reminded us of Christ's words in Moses 1:39 which says "Behold this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man." and again asked why are we worth so much to God and His son that they make it their entire work and glory to bring about our eternal happiness.  She said that she thinks the answer is love and quoted John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son."  It was a wonderful talk, Matt, and I am so grateful to know that we are God's children and that He is our father and loves us individually and infinitely, enough to give us His son to atone for our sins and bring to pass our immortality and eternal life.

After church, we had family home evening, because Dad has a meeting Monday, and Katrina and I might have a meeting on Tuesday.  Katrina gave a lesson on the atonement of the Savior, and it was wonderful.  She read some of the talk that Bruce R. Mckonkie gave about the Savior, and she asked dad and me if we remember when he gave the talk and she gave us the opportunity to share our feelings about it, which we really appreciated.  It was wonderful to spend some time talking and rejoicing in Christ.  We also had a bit of a family meeting afterward where we discussed the calendar for the next couple of weeks.  It looks like we may celebrate Easter early in order to include the whole family.

In about an hour and a half, we are going to Skype with my Aunt Ida who takes care of Great Grandma.  She is going to have Grandma on Skype, and it will be good for the kids to get to see her since who knows how long she will be around.  She's not always very lucid, so we'll see if she'll even get that we are Skyping.  Whether she does or not, it will be good to see her.

After that, I have about three hours of meetings and while I am gone, Dad and the kids are going on a drive.  It was so wonderful yesterday when it was seven o clock at night and still light outside.  Yay, spring is here!  Popcorn is starting to pop on the apricot tree, and Dad and I saw a couple of robins while we were walking together this weekend.  Katrina said she saw some weeks ago, but the point is that after a long winter, spring is here.  We wanted to have family home evening outside today, but Katrina said it was too cold.

Welp, that's just about it, Matt.  I hope that we get to hear from you tomorrow.  Have a wonderful prep day and a wonderful week sharing the gospel!


PS I attached a picture of flibbers for you,  Now do you remember them?   :)

March 17--Letter From Matt

Ok, I'm sorry this is going to be another short letter!

We are still trying to help Rocío and Carlos but we haven't been able to see them too much this last week because Carlos started helping his dad out with his sushi business.
Leticia is another person that we are teaching. She is an amazing person and has been progressing a lot in the Gospel, she's gone to church, she reads her scriptures and says her prayers, but she is living with a man. They can't get married because he's married in the U.S. and hasn't been able to get divorced. I really hope she can eventually get baptised.
We haven't been able to talk to José at all this week, because his uncle died. How sad. They had a wake for him on Saturday and the barriul this Sunday.
We haven't been able to find Berenice yet! But we are still going by her house, Maybe this week she'll be able to see us.
Our mission president has told us to contact all of the smiling families we see walking in the street. We are going to do that this week!

My studies this week have been focused on Rendir Cuentas, or in other words,  Accountability. It talks about D+C 58 which says:

 "For behold, it is not meet that I should command in all things; for he that is compelled in all things, the same is a slothful and not a wise servant; wherefore he receiveth no reward.
 "Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
 "For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
 "But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned."

 This Saturday, we had a stake activity, and as part of it, us missionaries were supposed to give tours of different booths and at the end of the tour, we were to ask: "Do you know anybody that could benefit from hearing the message that we have to offer?" and then take down addresses and names to visit them later.

Well, the activity was not very organized, and we missionaries only received vague instructions as to what we were supposed to d. I had read those verses that morning before leaving home, and they ran through in my mind again and again while we were in the activity. No one was commanding us, we were our own agents. If we didn't want to work, we didn't have to work. If we wanted to be successful, we had to work by our own free will, and do a lot of things without anyone to tell us to do them.
So we worked! Hahah, It was a great activity, and we received many names and addresses to visit, but it wouldn't have been that way if we wouldn't have been self motivated!

Thanks so much for your letter this week mom. I loved reading it. It's nice to hear that Missionary work is still a family focus. If we do it constantly it will change our lives for the better. How are you doing with Family History? I noticed that Katrina was reading about one of our ancestors, is that part of family history?
I love you mom, I think I'm going to buy some clay pots for you. They are large mouthed and look like huge frying pans with handls. They look like your style. I love you so much. Thanks for everything you do for me and for the family.

Tell everyone that I love them.

March 16--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

How are you?  It was so nice to get your letter after a bit of a dry spell.  I really like reading about the people you are teaching, and I hope that they will fill the Spirit, become truly converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and be baptized.  Thank you, also, for sharing with us some of the things that President Velez taught you.  I can tell that he is an inspired man.  Was this last week as difficult and awesome as you hoped it would be?  I hope so.  I hope you have some time to tell us about it.  Before I forget, I deposited $100 spending money into your bank account.  Sorry it took me so long to remember to do it.

We have had a very nice week this week.  Sunday night we tried cheese fondue again and it didn't work out so well again, but we ate it, and I know what to change about it, so we will try it again sometime in the distant future.  On Monday I took Thomas to the doctor.  He has a sprained sternum and can't do push ups or bench presses for awhile.  When we got home, we had my sister Elizabeth, Daniel, and her kids over for dinner and family home evening.  We ate curry, which most of her kids ended up really liking, although I'm not so sure the two youngest were very impressed.  We also had a nice lesson given by Moroni, and we had root beer floats for dessert.  It was a very fun visit, and they only left for home a half hour later than they wanted to which isn't too bad, really. 

Wednesday after school and work, we said goodbye to Dad who left for a two-day teacher's conference.  After that, Katrina and I dropped Thomas off at gymnastics and then went to give blood.  Turns out that I am still anemic, so Katrina gave blood all by herself.  I am really proud of her for doing it with such a positive attitude.  It was very fun to spend time with her.  When I got home, there were enough leftovers, etc, that I was able to take a break from dinner making which was really nice.  That night, Thomas went swimming with the young men, and Miriam and Katrina and I had a fun girl's night watching a movie and eating ice cream.  

On Thursday, Katrina and I made chicken roll-ups for dinner.  We took some to a family in the ward whose mom was not feeling well, and we ate the rest.  It was a good dinner, and it was good to eat it with the kids. When they brought our dishes back, the family asked for the recipe.  That always makes me feel like my meal is appreciated. After that, Thomas went swimming with his friends, and Katrina and I went to see a play at the university.  It was wonderfully done, and we really enjoyed ourselves even though we got home much later than we both would have liked.  Dad had called me earlier and asked me to come up to the conference and go out to eat with him, but I couldn't because of bringing dinner in and because of the play.  

Friday at work I was busy helping the students get caught up in their classes for the mid-term.  I think everyone is fairly caught up.  I am teaching one of the students earth science, but yesterday first period, I learned that he still doesn't know how many days in a week, month, year, etc even though they spent all last year trying to get him to remember these facts, and he knew them for awhile.  Anyway, I spent the rest of the day brainstorming a way for him to make a poster that models these facts.  I don't know if it will help him remember it or not, but last week he made a model of how the earth rotates around the sun and the moon rotates around the earth, and it helped him remember facts about that stuff, so maybe a visual will help him remember these other facts, too. We'll see.

When I got home from work, Dad was home from his conference!  Yay!  We went out pretty early.  We ate early because we had both had small lunches.  After we ate, we went to a running store and bought me two pairs of shoes, so I don't have to wear shoes with holes in them to work anymore.  My old shoes cost $100 and lasted two months before they got holes, which I was very unhappy about, so I wore them around for about five months with holes in protest, ha ah.  After that, we went on a good long walk together, and I think the shoes I bought are going to work out fine which is a relief.  It was such a pleasant walk, and we had so much fun being together.  I missed Dad while he was gone, and I am very glad that the conference ended up being a good one for him.

Saturday was fun because Dad and Thomas went on an adventure together, and the girls and I went out for lunch and shopping.  After Dad and Thomas got home, Dad, Katrina, Thomas, and I all went to the Saturday session of stake conference.  I said the opening prayer, and the conference was on...missionary work!  It was very inspiring, Matt, and we are going to try harder to reach out to other people.  It sure is a hard thing to do!  After that, it was 8:00 at night and we were all starving, so we went out to eat as a family.  It was wonderful to do those things together!

Today was stake conference again, and the talks were very good.  I also had a meeting with the stake youth planning committee.  I had the 14-15 year olds.  I helped them brainstorm and plan an activity for their age group to help them prepare to date when they turn 16.  I think they chose some fun and informative activities for the youth to do.  Later, we went for a drive as a family which included stopping at Renee's to drop something off.  We talked about temples and read scriptures on the ride.  Back at home, I made dinner, Dad wrote to you, Thomas indexed, and Katrina read some of Great Grandma's life history.  Dinner was cabbage with cheese sauce, muffins, and salad.  Now Katrina is driving Thomas around so that he can ask people to sign up to help with his eagle scout project on Wednesday.  He was just going to send around a sign-up sheet in church, but it was stake conference, so he couldn't do it there.  He needs to get 5 people to bring sewing machines and lots of people to donate other stuff.  The teacher's quorum is going to help him do the project.  

I love you, Matt. We are praying for you to stay well and have the Spirit with you.  I am studying 1 Nephi chapter 8, and I know that it is important, once we partake of the fruit of the tree of life, to love others enough to share that fruit with them.  I'm sorry our efforts are so small and slow.  I hope that I (and we) can do better.

I love you, Matt.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 11--Email From Matt

I'm writing today because yesterday we were in the hospital from 11am to 8pm. An Elder had to get a medical tube taken out of him

What is a flibber???? I have no idea. What is it?

Sounds like you guys did have an adventure! I slightly remember going to the little canon. I really don't remember it though.

Ok, about me,
Who have we been teaching this week? Well there is a matrimony that we are teaching. Carlos and Rocío. They are parents of 2 little kids, and they do sushi in their house. It's hard to explain, they have a large, open covered porch, and they make it there. Carlos started talking to the missionaries first, but afterwards, Rocío got interested too. We haven't really gotten to know them, but they seem to be great people.

We prayed to be able to find someone to teach, because there aren't many investigators here, and we both felt impressed that we had to go and talk with a lady called Berenicia that we found in the area book. We've gone to her house, but we haven't been able to talk with her, but we have talked a little bit with her kids: Raul and Ivana. Today we have an appointment with her. Let's hope that she's there.

Today we had a muti zone conference. It was most excellent. I wrote down a few things that President Velez said: "We cannot be successful if we are prideful," Later he gave us a promise: "The missionary that loves his companion as himself, will have the success that he has always wanted to have in his mission." Wow. That's a pretty darn good promise! He said a lot of really good things that I just couldn't write down, but basically he invited us all to follow verse 74 from D+C 88
"And I give unto you, who are the first laborers in this last kingdom, a commandment that you assemble yourselves together, and organize yourselves, and prepare yourselves, and sanctify yourselves; yea, purify your hearts, and cleanse your hands and your feet before me, that I may make you clean;"
Sister Velez also gave an excellent section of the training.

This week, we are going to be working really hard! I'm loving it! It's been a hard week last week, but I think that this week is going to be a fuller, possibly more difficult week, but it's going to be amazing!
I hope that you're all doing well. I'm going to finish up right now but if I had time, I would write more.

I love you Mom, Thanks for your faithful letters! Even though sometimes I cant write!

March 9--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you?  How was your first week back in Culiacan?  I hope it was good and that you are feeling well.  I also hope that you and Elder Toledo are getting to know each other better and are working well together.  It was fun to chat with you last week, although I like getting a nice email from you better, I think.  I am very glad, though, that you were able to chat with Jon and Miriam.  I can't wait to get your letter tomorrow.  It will be the first "real" email from you in two weeks.

Let's see...Last Sunday ended well.  We did, indeed, have a food-fest and watch the Church Educational System fireside.  Sister Linda K Burton spoke about having the Holy Ghost in our lives, and it was a really good talk.  Each person made one type of food to share.  We had guacamole made by Miriam, deviled eggs made by Katrina, and cowboy beans made by Dad.  Also we had chips, sauted mushrooms, and little smokies.  Thomas, who couldn't find enough ingredients to make 7-layer dip, helped by bringing it all downstairs.  We got set up and were mostly done eating by the time the fireside started, which was nice because we could concentrate on what Sister Burton was teaching.  It was a very nice experience.

On Monday, which is not our family home evening day anymore, Thomas went to Hayden's church's youth group and had tons of fun. The rest of us didn't do much.

Tuesday, Thomas's astronomy teacher was giving out credit for kids who would go to a planetarium show, so we all went to the planetarium with him.  We had a fun time learning about the stars, and a couple of us also got a good nap, ha ha.

Wednesday Katrina and I drove Thomas to gymnastics together and then went to Walmart to buy a cake mix to make a cake for the Relief Society birthday party on Thursday night.  Later, after Dad got home, he and I went to pick Thomas up, and then all three of us went to the laundry to pick up some materials to fix something.  We ended up staying there forever because the cable guys were there installing the new cable, and they had all these questions for Dad.  After that, he had to set up all the parental controls.  When we got home, Katrina and Thomas went to young men and young women and Dad and I went to KFC.

On Thursday, I took Thomas to the DMV and he got his driver's permit.  He begged me and begged me to let him drive home and just could not understand why I wouldn't let him, ha ha.  After we got home, I let him drive around a bit and he realized very quickly why letting him drive out in traffic would not have been a good idea.  He got better as we drove, but he was a humbler kid for the experience, ha ha.  Later, while Katrina and I were at the RS birthday party, Dad let him drive on the stick shift for awhile.

Saturday, Dad wanted to have an adventure, so the kids hauled their lazy carcasses out of bed, Dad put on his Indiana Jones hat, I stuck some snacks in a bag, and we headed off for the boonies.  It was beautiful weather and a beautiful drive.  We drove along a river, hiked up a couple of hills, and followed a wash.  Then, while Katrina and I slept in the back seats, Dad let Thomas drive for a good long time.  We also went to a little canyon that was very beautiful.  We went there once when you were younger, Matt, but I don't know if you remember it.  We really enjoyed the beautiful sight, and after that we headed for home.  We didn't get home till 8:00 pm.  Jon and Miriam were gone out to dinner, and it was nice to see them both for awhile when they got home.  We haven't seen Miriam much this week, but I have visited with Jon at Costco a couple of times.

Now it is Sunday.  Church was good, Dad's in bed, and I am writing to you.  We plan to have fondue again tonight.  Remember how I told you that the fondue pot I bought didn't work, well, I had the cast-iron base upside down.  The base looks like a three-legged stool, and I thought that it should stand like a stool with the pot sitting on the "seat" of the "stool."  Later, I looked at the picture on the box more closely, and I found out that the "seat" was supposed to be on the counter, with the legs sticking up.  The pot rests on the three legs.  This is important because the way I was doing it made two layers of cast iron for the fire to heat through--the cast iron of the pot and of the base.  The right way to do it only makes one layer of cast iron for the heat to penetrate.  Anyway, I have high hopes that it will work better this time, ha ha.

I hope that we can Skype with Cassandra, Emerson, and Lily today.  That would be awesome!  I sent Lily some clothes and a little sicker activity, but I don't think she's gotten them yet.  Cassandra posted a really cute video of Lily waving around a flibber and dancing.  Trivia question of the week:  What is a flibber????  On her Facebook page Cassandra wrote, "I didn't realize that parenthood would involve so many requests to "please speak whale."  So cute!

That's about it for the week, Matt.  I have been having sleep issues this week, Matt, but I think I have an idea of how to fix them.  The last few nights have been better.  Anyway, that has really been adversely affecting my scripture study, although I have been reading scriptures every day, just not studying them in depth.  Now, just when I have the sleeping thing possibly licked, my little notebook laptop thingy is all messed up and my documents aren't opening, etc.  This will really mess up my scripture study as well. I'm not sure what to do about it.  If I tell Dad, he'll buy me a brand spanking new expensive thingy to use, but I really want to fix this one and not spend the money.  I guess I'll take it over to the neighbor to have him look at it.  Well, long story, Matt, sorry.  I haven't been spiritually productive this week, and I really need to get my act together.  I hope that next week will be better.  I love you, Matt.  Please write and tell us about everything!!


Sunday, March 9, 2014

March 2--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  How are you?  Thanks for sending the scholarship essay to us.  I sure hate to bug you about that kind of stuff when you are busy serving the Lord.  You will be happy to know that all the applications, etc have been sent off, so we shouldn’t have to bug you again for awhile.  It was hard not to get letters from you last week, but I was glad that you got to read some from us.  I was the one who had Dad tell you not to send us letters because I figured you wouldn’t have time to do that and the scholarship essay.  I hope, however, that you did have time to read our emails.  That is what matters to me most.  We heard on the news about the capture of the drug czar, and have been praying for your safety because we figure things might be more violent where you are, now.  We have faith that you are in the Lord’s hands and He is watching over you.

This has been such a wonderful week.  We have family home evening on Tuesdays instead of Mondays now, so Tuesday we all, including Jonathan, went out to eat for Miriam’s birthday.  She didn’t really want any birthday money spent on her, so I asked her if she wanted to go to the movies or out to eat with the family instead of getting a present, and she liked that idea.  The plan was to go Thursday, but Jon wasn’t available then, so we went out for family home evening instead.  It was so wonderful to be there surrounded by the kids and Dad and laugh and talk.  I’m so glad that Jon could come; we see him so very seldom.

Wednesday Thomas went to a young men activity at the church.  Katrina missed her young women activity because it was on Tuesday night, and she needed to be with the fam.  I went to bed early, and Dad read scriptures and said prayers with the kids.  It was very nice of him, and appreciated the extra sleep.

It rained a lot on Thursday, which was kind of a surprise after many days of sun, even though the weatherman had predicted it.  I went on a field trip with my class.  We went bowling and then to the mall to eat lunch.  The field trip went well.  Later when I was back home and Dad got home, he wanted to go for a drive, so we took Katrina with us for a drive.  Dad wanted to go into a sporting goods store, and Katrina and I wanted to check out the scented candle outlet, so we split up for awhile.  Katrina and I bought a candle warmer and scented wax for Miriam’s birthday to make her room smell good.

That night, Miriam gave the family home evening lesson that she had planned for Tuesday.  She showed us all how to scan a document and save it as a pdf.  I guess Dad didn’t know how to do that and had been asking her to show him.  She also showed us some stuff on Excell.  It was very informative.  After that, we had cake and ice cream for her birthday.  It was a fun little celebration.  I hope that she liked it.

Displaying IMG_20140227_191610_495.jpg
Happy Birthday, Miriam

Friday, Katrina and I got to talk to Lily on the phone.  She was in a very loud mood, ha ha.  She sang Camptown races for us with lots of “doo da’s,”  At that point, Katrina told me I could take the phone off "speaker;" she could hear just fine without it, ha ha.  Lily also treated us to an ear-splitting rendition of the chorus to “Angels We Have Heard on High.”  You know,  “Glooooooooooooooooooria!”  sung over and over with an even louder and very long-drawn-out note at the end.  It was the cutest thing ever, and we totally loved it.  I told Lily that it was nice and lound and that I liked it.  I wonder if someone was telling her to sing softer, because I heard Lily say to someone, “Grandma likes it.”

Later, Dad and I went to see the Lego movie.  We ate at the theater first, which is always fun, and then went out for frozen yogurt afterward.  It was so good, that we went out for frozen yogurt again on Saturday.  We found a place that always has one low-carb flavor and one no-carb flavor, so we like to go there sometimes when we’re in the area.

On Saturday, we decided to get some things done around the house, so we went to some stores to get the supplies we needed.  When we went to Auto Zone, Dad showed the kids how to change the tail light on the van.  The weather was cold and windy, and Dad couldn’t get the tail light off, so we bought a manual to make sure we were doing it right, and we were.  When he finally got it off, the casing broke.  The van is getting old, Matt, and the plastic broke before the pin snapped out like it was supposed to.  Anyway, we replaced the light, and also the windshield wiper blades and then headed to Home Depot to look for some clear epoxy to fix the broken light.  Dad ended up repairing it with super glue.  We’ll see how long that lasts, ha ha.  When we finally got back home, we hung a couple of pictures and then Katrina and Thomas were through.  Thomas went to Hayden’s house, Katrina exercised, etc, and I took a nap.

Later that night, Dad wanted to go buy some stuff from a guy so he and I drove up to meet him.  We made another date of it and had a delicious dinner at our favorite teryaki place.  It was fun to drive and talk.  On the way home we stopped at the candy outlet and bought sugar Easter eggs for the kid’s Easter baskets and then went for frozen yogurt like I said.

The kids have been indexing and reading family history, Matt, isn’t that nice?  I didn’t sleep well last week, so I wasn’t real productive, but I did do visiting teaching, and I took some prints of the museum paintings to the one sister I’d invited to go with me to the museum.  I have been reading Les Miserables, which I love.  It is so nice with a smart phone to have a library of books with me always in my pocket.

Today, as you know, is fast Sunday.  I am fasting for you, Matt.  I don’t have meetings on fast Sunday which is nice.  Besides, ward conferences are now over, so I will have less meetings now.  That is good since I don’t think my poor aching back could have taken much more of it, ha ha.  We just got home from church.   Dad is doing some family history, I am writing to you, Thomas is taking a nap, and I’m not sure what Katrina is doing, but she has a family home evening lesson to prepare, family history to do, and a letter to write to you, so she’s probably busy doing one of those things.  There is a church educational system devotional at 6:00 which we may watch.  I want to ask each person to make a snack to eat while we watch it.  That will also be our dinner for the evening.

Well, that’s about it.  I have had a harder time staying focused on Jesus Christ and feeling the Holy Ghost than the week before.  I am trying to figure out the reason, and I think that one reason is lack of sleep, another one is less focused prayer and scripture study, and also, I think that different experiences bring out different sides of my character, and this week’s experiences did a good job to show me where my weaknesses are.  It seems like Heavenly Father intersperses unsuccessful times with successful ones so that I stay humble, but don’t get too discouraged.  I know His hand is in my life and in your life, Matt.  I hope that you feel His guidance and spirit with you this week as you go about His work.  I love you very much and look forward to receiving your email.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

Feb 24--Email From Matt

To make up for the lack of letters, here are some pictures!

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Waking up with sushi

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I made this little house while waiting around for a bus

Blog note:  Matt's comment on the picture of Miriam, Katrina, and Thomas in the last post: "Thomas looks really creepy!"

Feb 23--Dear Elder

Dear Elder,

Hi!  Thanks for the letter you wrote last week.  I’m sorry that some sad things happened, and I hope that Guillermo isn’t doing drugs after all, Lizeth is able to get married, and that Elder Sullivan will soon restored to his previously awesome state.  I am so glad that Grandpa and Grandma sent you another package.  That really warms my heart.  I am also glad that you liked your Valentine.  Do they celebrate Valentine’s Day in Mexico?

Thank you for the picture of your zone.  I couldn’t pull it up on my phone earlier, but now I can see it because I’m on my little notebook, and may I say that you are all a very handsome group, especially the elder on the upper right!

I sure am glad that good things happened this week and not just sad ones.  I am so glad that your are testifying of the truthfulness of the atonement to your investigators, although I think that the message of the atonement and the restoration go hand in hand.  It’s awesome that you are learning so much!

Well, I don’t know if it is helping the missionaries, but I did invite my visiting teaching sister to go see a museum exhibit of sacred paintings.  We didn’t end up going, but I think inviting her was a good thing.

Francisco sounds like a nice guy and I’m glad that you had a good conversation, even if the only ones who were helped were you and your companion.  It sounds like meeting him was a blessing.
Thanks for sharing with me your question about Amulek’s conversion.  It is a good one and I hope I will remember to study it when I get to Alma 11.  I am still in first Nephi, so it will be a long time to remember!  I hope that you can teach Benjamin’s wife and the rest of his family and that they will be baptized.  Nick said that in Columbia there will be tons of baptisms, but the attendance at church doesn’t increase all that much.  Is that how it is where you are?  I hope not.

Wow, Matt, I always think that I’m going to remember everything that happens in the week, but when I sit down to write I realize that I’ve forgotten most of it.  One thing that I did this week was to try very hard remember Jesus Christ and do what he would have me do.  I taught the kids, invited a friend to an art exhibit, indexed records on Family Search, talked to loved ones on the phone, studied, shared memories,  etc.  The Lord made much more of my week than I ever could have.

As I told you in my last letter, we had Monday off.  Here is some of what I wrote about Monday in my study journal:

02 18 2014

"Thomas and Katrina went with us on an outing to the temple visitor’s center where we watched videos about prophets and saw the Christus.  As I gazed at that beautiful statue, I marveled at its perfection.  The folds and curves of Christ’s garment look as if the marble were draped about Him instead of carved from a massive piece of rock.  His form seemed soft and real instead of cold stone.  I contemplated Christ’s perfection and felt the comfort and peace in Christ.

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Queene Katrine

We also visited Brian’s aging aunt, and I visited my co-worker and friend in the hospital.  Later, I was able to talk to my sweet neighbor and visiting teaching sister to further our plans to attend a museum exhibit.  It was a wonderful day, made better through the grace and guidance of God."

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A Valentine for Dad

I’m glad I wrote that down, Matt, because my memories fade so quickly!  On Tuesday I grocery shopped and we had soup with left over spaghetti squash and roasted red peppers in it.  I’m not so sure it was the best soup in all the world, but it used up leftovers…kind of.  I hate it when I make a dish with leftovers and then there are leftovers of the dish I made!  If I’m not careful, it can go on and on forever.  The next night I made barbeque chicken salad to go with the leftover soup, and luckily the rest of the soup got eaten so I didn’t have to make something with the leftover soup made from the leftover vegetables, ha ha.

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Thomas would not make a normal face, so he deserves this picture.

Katrina got her driver’s license on Wednesday.  She’ll probably write to you about it.  It’s kind of scary to let her drive the van.  Ususally we’ve had a kid car for the kids to drive, but Miriam drives the kid car to work everyday, so if Katrina wants to drive, she takes the van.  On Thursday she drove herself to voice lessons which was nice for me although, like I said, I was a bit nervous.  I’m sure thankful for prayer.

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King Dad

I also got to talk to Lily on the phone sometime last week; I can't remember which day.  She is talking really good these days, and it is so wonderful to be able to have little conversations with her.  Emerson also posted a video of her singing "Protocolligorically Correct."  It was the cutest!

Wow, Matt, I need to at least take notes as I go along because I really can’t remember much of went on last week.  Happily, I had no church meetings, though, but I am making up for it today.  I was in meetings from 9-2 and will be having more meetings from 4:30 to 9:00.  This should be the last week of so many meetings, because ward conferences are over, now.  Hooray!

Nick is home from his mission and talked in church today.  He said that God lets us be born free and then gives us commandments to keep us free.  He also said that he hopes the we can have faith stronger than the cords of death.  He talked a lot about the atonement, and his talk was very good.  He didn’t share any experiences from his mission, though, so that was sad.

Work has been good.  I have a student who wants to graduate with his graduating class but doesn’t have enough credits, so I am working with him to help him get Earth Science credit.  We have a special needs earth science textbook, and I take lessons from that.  I brought in a globe and an atlas to help him learn about maps, and I made cards with pictures and simple words for him to match together.  This helps him remember what he learned.  Friday he took his first “test.”  We went to the teacher and he showed her how his cards matched together to explain different earth science fields and different map symbols.  He did a great job, and the teacher was impressed, so that is nice.

Dad and I went to the temple Friday, and we took Katrina and Thomas with us.  They did baptisms while we did sealings.  It was a wonderful experience.  Afterward, we took the kids to eat in the temple cafeteria.  After we dropped them off at home, Dad and I went out for awhile and then came back to watch a movie and eat….ice cream.  Saturday I got to see Jon at Costco, help Thomas do some indexing, and watch a movie with the kids.  That night we read a conference talk and 2 Nephi chapter 12.  It was a nice day.

Well, Matt, I know it’s short, but I also know you need to take some time to do some scholarship stuff, so I guess it will be good enough.