Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Too short

So this week won't be exciting. Everywhere that we do email is closed so we had to go to a member’s house next door (we got permission; don't worry). I only have like ten minutes to email. I hope all is well. You will hear from me next week. We only have ten minutes a piece and have to email president. We also happen to be using the slowest computer in the world. It took like fifteen minutes to get on myldsmail. You will hear from me next week. I hope this will work since you heard from me yesterday! love you all so much and talk to you soon.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Goodbye Idaho "Legends" zone!

This is my 12/12/12 at 12:12 picture...The smile is weak, because I had a high fever and just got done throwing up all morning in this picture, ha-ha...the stress of all those 12's was two much for me.
Goodbye Idaho "legends" zone! I will be transferred to Mount Lewis Alpha in North Ogden to be serving as the district leader. (Right next to my greenie area!) I will be serving with a couple, or maybe one, visa waiter starting tomorrow.  I am not even really sure which companion I will have: Elder Jones, Elder Shumway, or Elder Bozarth...probably the latter, but I don't know yet. They are all headed to Spain except for Elder Jones; he is going to Argentina with Elder Ireland.

So this has been a different week. We have all three of us had the flu all week! We had had it the week before that, and it wasn't too bad. I woke up early on Wednesday and was feeling awful and went to zone study with a fever. I figured that Elder Masima wouldn't let a little sickness stop him, so we tracted in the 20 degree snow that day while I had a fever. It turns out I am just not as tough as Elder Masima; by Saturday we were all throwing up and had fevers. I pretty much slept on the bathroom floor all day Saturday. I kept feeling guilty for taking the "day off," but I wasn't enjoying myself at least. I am a little better now. Unfortunately we missed a couple lessons that night, but overall, it just made it an unproductive week this week. Luckily we are recovering.

It can really snow in Idaho! So we found a cool guy this week. We asked if he served a mission, and he said, “No, I was called to be a stake president when I was 19!” It was in 1950, but still it was pretty cool. He had some good stories to tell. So one thing I will miss about Idaho is how much people love the missionaries here. We were standing there in the church on Sunday waiting for our ward mission leader and there were a group of probably 8 to 10 year old kids standing about 30 feet away from us in the hallway. As we listened we could hear them daring each other to go and shake our hand, but they were all too scared, ha-ha. Eventually the teacher was brave enough to take the lead, and they all took turns meeting us and shaking our hands. We also had someone anonymously pay for us at Tapatio, Subway, and Chinese this week! So that is pretty cool.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

That is EXACTLY what we wanted to hear

We pulled over in Soda Springs to play in the snow for just a few minutes.

Let it snow; let it snow! It looks like it will be a white Christmas this year. Everyone says that the amount there is right now is nothing, and we should expect a ton more. I personally think they're all talk, but I guess we will see. Driving in the snow for the first time has been quite the adventure, especially in a two wheel drive Malibu with completely worn down tires. The first day that it snowed really hard we drove 45 minutes up to Soda Springs. It was like 10 degrees up there. We turned into one house/driveway, and I kept sliding and came within probably two inches from hitting the mailbox before the car caught traction and turned. Pretty crazy. We looked at the tire marks, and it was soo so close; we got lucky. Then on the way back, it was nighttime and while crossing a bridge we started to slide out and almost hit the edge of the bridge (50 foot drop) like three times as we slid back and forth..but we didin' whoever is praying for us keep it coming! ha-ha. I don't get why they give the other missionaries up north trucks except for us. There are a lot of people in the hospital from wrecks; the roads are soo so slippery. WE will be careful though, sorry to scare you, Mom.

So we started working with the Ventura family this week. They are less active. We have been by just to see if they are home several times a week for about ten weeks and never found them at home (or never gotten hem to answer), but the ward wanted us to go by so we would always keep trying. So we went in and the mom was crying talking about how she needs to come back to church, and her kids (all older, 17, 18,20) don't want to go anymore. So we taught something and invited her back. They didn't come to church. I can't remember the excuse, but it wasn't a very good one. But the big change was her 18 and 20-year-old boys. We met them several times, and they were always kind of annoyed we were there and weren't at all helpful. But while we were there, I gave her oldest son a blessing, because his hemophilia has been pretty bad lately, I guess. So now the boys are really nice to us. We haven't had a follow up appointment; the mom has flaked out every time; but now her kids are nice to us. In fact they gave us a present after we left the first time...50 presliced pieces of American cheese, delicious.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The first member of his family...encouraging for my companions.

We have been very angry with Idaho this week. It has been raining all week! In December! We are mad that there still isn't any snow, This is a joke. It was 60 degrees outside yesterday, so I don't even get to use my jacket. Hopefully it will snow in the next couple weeks.
 So just something cool I was looking at this week. I kind of went down one day and broke down lesson 1 and studied just the first part. (Maybe I shouldn't do this, because it's like making my own doctrine, but I like thinking of things in a logical way.) Ok, so it says that the job of prophet is to teach the nature of god and teach the true gospel to get eternal life...that’s under the red box in 'prophets'. In 'dispensations' it says the two main distortions of apostasy are the nature of god and the gospel. The first two principles of lesson one are the two main restored "distortions" that we know of due to our modern day prophet. God is a loving father of flesh and bone who cries when we cry etc. The second heading being the gospel blesses families, hinting at the way to get eternal life, the second job of prophets. I just thought it was cool that it pointed it out that way in each section.
 So last p-day was awesome. We had a member bring us to Tapatio which is a really good Mexican restaurant in town, but it's expensive so we never go there. We were getting a haircut, and the uncle of half of our branch (he lives in Utah) met us and took us out to eat. While we were there, another member dropped 60 dollars on the table to pay for us, but we gave it back since there was already somebody else paying. Although my companions weren’t very happy I gave it back, ha-ha. Members are awesome. This guy (the uncle of all the Mexicans in our ward… who are all cousins) talked about how he was the first member of his family. They all thought he was crazy, but he did it anyway. Then he moved to the US (first one to do that, too), and once there, he got them all jobs and places to live in the US. They all ended up getting baptized here. He had to wait years though; it was encouraging for Elder Senn and Elder Ireland.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

I sound like a Mexican now

This has been a pretty good week. We were tracting, and this man asked us if we wanted to go see his calves. They are everywhere here. I knew you would like to see them.

We went to Big J's finally this week. It's the place that they got the tots from in Napoleon Dynamite...not that great it turns out..haha.

I will give you more info about Elder Ireland. He and I get along really well. We talk too much about worldly things like movies he saw before he left or music that we liked before the mission... so we set goals to get more focused. He is pretty different from me, but we still really like each other. He really likes Elder Senn, too. His Spanish has already improved in a week. He had a pretty heavy guerro accent when he got out, and it only a week it has improved. (…a guerro is a white boy. I sound like a Mexican now, which makes me happy. People occasionally comment on how they like my accent. I still have tons of room to grow, but I am getting good at sounding Mexican-ish.) I spend a lot of language study now just teaching him grammar which kind of makes me review and understand it better, so that is good.

Elder Ireland was a wrestler and musical guy during high school. He likes boy bands and his favorite movie is high school musical.  We are debating this week if listening to Christmas music is appropriate for missionaries...meaning the Michael Buble Christmas album of which he is a huge fan. His girlfriend introduced him to the church, and that’s how he was baptized.

He is a greeny, so obviously he has this natural desire to go tracting, so we have done some of that this week. It usually isn't done here in the normal way by us because of how unproductive it is in town. There are really no Hispanics in town at all; they are all out on the farms which means to tract would be driving from house to house, but we have already covered all the ones close by. So we tracted in town a little bit to get him better at contacting people and just talking to everyone. Not too much practice with Spanish there, so that’s too bad. We tracted our one trailer park (10 trailers) in Franklin, but we have already done that twice. They still aren't interested, but he got to practice a little bit more. It's a different type of work here, lots of driving and seeing members to figure out where Hispanic people live.  Some tracting stories” "I HATE Mormons!” - door slammed…  "This is a Jehovah’s Witness house.” …*ten minutes later* “yes you can send the (English) missionaries by-Success! …lady on the phone while answering the door "Oh no, it’s the elders"...(they say something to her) "oh, don't worry I will"...some lady yelled at her when she was 16 and it’s the church's fault" other really interesting ones beyond that..tracting here consists of talking to lots and lots of members.

We had Thanksgiving at the Hatch's house, and it was awesome! We had a competition between them and all their family to see who could gain the most weight, and I got second with like 4.7 pounds (I think?). It was great. There is a police officer in town that asked me to slow down when I first got into this area. I got out of the car one day, and he pulled up next to me and said,  “Slow down in residential areas.” I guess it was a school zone, and I didn’t know it and was going like 30. Anyways, it turns out he is one of the Hatch kids…ha-ha. They started late and then planned on dessert later on…so we didn't get any dessert on Thanksgiving, because I wasn't going to stay for several hours on a proselyting day. I ate plenty though, so I didn't need it, and Jen and Sherm sent me pecan pie, so I had that. It was good to be in their home. Elder Senn and Ireland aren't as social as me, so they just talked to each other, but I talked to lots of people there when they weren't talking to the rest of the family.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Just in from the Weavers!

Terry: "Small world here in Preston, ID. Came to visit my grandparents and of all things needed potatoes and look who we find!"
Mark: "What a great looking missionary! You brought tears to my eyes."
Terry: "No kidding."

What a beautiful sight! At least we know he won't be starving.

I have a new companion!!!

Elder Senn and I got a new companion! His name is Elder Ireland, and he is from Lincoln, CA. He is headed to Mendoza, Argentina which means he knows very well my friend from my MTC district as well as some of my uncles, friends in common in Lincoln, and even a couple people from Antelope. It is kind of cool to have that connection. He will probably be here for a while. Visa's take a while. He is a nice guy; I am happy to be with him. He has been a member a year, and he likes to sing. He wrestled all four years of high school. He has been dating a girl from Peru for four years who will graduate from BYU-Hawaii next year. He understands lots of Spanish, a little more than he speaks, but we will work with him and help him be as prepared as possible once his visa issue works out.  Go pay his parents a visit....neither of them are members of the LDS church, but his mom is taking the lessons!

So Ignacia...lots of news on her. I will start with district meeting. We talked about going back to basics: basic spirit sandwich, why we are there, and committing people to baptism. Our zone leaders told us they had prayed about a promise; they said if we updated our area books every night, we would each have a miracle baptism by the end of the transfer. We set three baptismal dates that day…well kind of. The first one was Ignacia. We had already been doing our area books everyday so the miracles came quick when we agreed to keep doing it. We taught a lesson to Igancia just about baptism and the answer to her prayer. She had kept her reading commitment and felt the Spirit testify of its truthfulness. She was convinced that’s exactly what it was. She used to live in Orem with her four kids. Her husband left her and her kids for another woman; this is pretty recent. She had very bad depression and wanted to leave her kids. In her head, she was convinced that leaving her kids would be better for them, because she just wasn't a good mom and didn't know what to do. So she left...and I don't know how far away...but at some point a voice told her to go back to her kids. The voice said that her kids wouldn't be better off without her, and that they needed her. Then the voice told her to move to Preston with her brother. That was about four weeks ago. She is getting baptized either this week or next.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Ignacia came to church!

Hello everyone,
It has been a cold week. The highest it has been is probably 35 all week which is different for Elder Senn since it never gets below 50 in Panama. It only snowed for one day, and then it has slowly melted, so there is just some on people's lawns. For the most part, it is just cold!

We found a member that gave us two space heaters to use, because our heater only works when it wants to. Lately it has been fine, so we are staying plenty warm. I forgot about the most important Christmas thing. I asked for ties for Christmas...and I understand how picky I am ha-ha… so a Ross gift card is just as good as ties, because that’s all I would buy there, and they have really nice ties for like ten dollars...just another idea. Another idea: cheese slicer (cutting cheese with a knife is the worst thing in the NEVER cuts the way I want it to)...and measuring cups, but not a lot...just a teaspoon, fourth cup, third cup and cup. I probably won't use them that often, but those are just the things missionary apartments don't typically have. One other thing, Mom: a type of hair gel. It’s called "short sexy hair"…stop’s good stuff.

Mom, I'm trying to keep up with answering letters. Writing letters is the worst thing in the world but getting them is the best thing in the world.  I do get a lot of letters…not really as much this transfer, but last transfer I was getting one or two letters everyday, and all the missionaries at the office didn't like me, because both times I went in for transfers to the office, I had between eight and ten letters plus a package. Ha-ha. I am blessed with good friends and family.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Missionary Sighting

I ran into this great looking group of missionaries at New York Deli sandwich shop in Preston, ID.  From left to right: Elder Totten, Elder Goodrick, Elder Senn, Elder Bassett, Elder Heinz, Elder Avalos.  (Hope I got everyone in the right order!)  They all say "hi" and they look good!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

I'm learning

The best zone in the world!
Sorry, still no actually got warmer this week...Christmas picture will be soon I hope,
and we are not getting transferred tomorrow.
OK, I will start with a report from Elder Falabella and the mission conference he did. There was a big push for family history, no surprise there. The problem is that I have no idea how to do family history to help people out, and at this point, I can't exactly learn it since I am busy with other things. I will see how it goes. But can y'all send out a pedigree chart that I can carry around? I should have one already, but they want us all to have one to show people, and it would be nice to have…just like four generations or even five if you can do that. Thanks.

He talked a little bit about obedience, not as much as I would expect. President Hiers gave a lot of training on loving our investigators, companions, and stuff like that. Elder Falabella gave a huge push for a refocus in this mission on working with the dad's first like Ammon did. Ammon really only converted one person, but then look at the result. That gave me a change of mind with the Sanchez family. Rather than focus on her so much, I will focus on him as the head of the house. Hopefully things will fall into place. But we haven't had anything with them this week, because they cancelled. It's frustrating sometimes how slow having one lesson a week or less can be, but that’s all people say they have time for.

As you can see, I did not send you any baptism pictures. The Padilla family cancelled. They want to wait for their daughter to come down to see the baptism, and they don't know when she can. It is a good excuse, but they have had good excuses for several months. And on top of that, we haven't gotten in touch with them, because they have dropped every lesson and didn't come to church. We went an hour before and reminded them, and they said yes they would go and then didn't. I wasn't very happy, and I don't know what to do with them right now. They say they want to get baptized really soon, and he means it, but she is only hindering his progress and continues to make him wait. Any advice on how to handle that? Hopefully it will get straightened out this week, and we can set a date when all their family can be there, and she will agree not to cancel. I was pretty firm that this isn't something she can cancel last minute last time when we spoke, but I guess it didn't have an effect.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

He gave us a referral, then another and another...

Working at the Service Center
Well, this has been a good week. It started out awesome, because I got a $15 rice cooker with my Walmart gift card and 20 pounds of rice which as it turns out is a lot of rice. But the best part is that we found out that there is a bus that goes everyday from Logan to Preston which is awesome, because that is where the temple and all the stores are (Sam’s, Walmart, Deseret Book). So we are blessed for not driving on p-day!

SO this week we were trying to follow the Spirit more when finding more. We also decided to be better about asking for referrals from everyone. We had a slow day and were driving to contact potentials and pulled over a few times to talk to people. At one point, I passed an old man and decided to not stop and then felt like I should, so I turned around and talked to him. He was a member and can't go to church, because of his health, so people just bring him the sacrament. He said he didn't know anyone to give us. We shared a two-minute message then asked again, and he gave us a Spanish referral. Then we decided to ask again, and he gave us another…and then another. So we got three referrals from a guy who doesn't ever leave his house. We let him know how much he was helping us. Then later that day, there were a couple of girls that had pulled over with a flat tire. We got three referrals from them too (all English, but still good).

The leaves have been falling a ton this week; it's like Georgia. At one point, we stopped and helped people rake leaves. That was fun, I couldn't believe how many there were. We actually raked leaves twice this week.  That reminds me...some of the best pumpkin bread I have had was from the packages that you sent me. Thanks so much for that, Mom! I made Grandma's potato salad recipe! Five pounds of potatoes and a dozen eggs makes a lot…maybe I will cut it into fourths next time, ha-ha.
Idaho can't figure out if it's fall or winter....Mom would love how many leaves are here! We stopped to help some people rake leaves this week, and it was so awesome! I didn't have my camera, or I would've taken a's like being in Georgia.

I still look the same..I keep hoping to feel taller, but nope..suits still fit the same.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Pray that the new people we are finding will be prepared...!

First Snow of Elder Senn's life

I remember last week writing my email and expecting to send you pictures of a baptism this week..nooope. The Padilla family has been tough; I still have yet to teach them one lesson. They have cancelled probably 11 times. Just lots of door step conversations of them saying they want to be baptized. I was kind of taking the hint on Sunday. An hour before church, we stopped by to remind them. They said they would be there, and they weren't. We went by afterwards, and he said he got tired, so he decided to sleep instead. It was disappointing, but we need to start spending our time elsewhere until they are ready to come to us. Usually, the "playing hard to get" method isn't very effective as a missionary, but you never know! I am still not good at dropping investigators. I don't know when to do it, because I don't want to be left with nothing. I just need more faith I guess.

Last week, I kind of decided we have less baptisms, because it's just Spanish work, and that’s the way it is. Those lame excuses never stand though, because Elder Plowman and Elder Ward had nine baptisms last week (Spanish). I need to just stop making excuses and figure out what we aren't doing right. This week, we have been working on better questions that aren't yes or no and not ones where you say, “So uhh. How does that make you feel..?" It is tough to come up with them, but we have improved already, and it really helps people open up.

Oh first off Flora...our investigator that comes to church. She dropped us this week. We went over and started teaching a lesson on our porch like usual, and then part way through she decided to throw in there that we couldn't come back anymore. Her husband is a drunk and only comes to the church when he needs welfare, and when I say he comes I mean he sends his wife and kids to do it while he waits in the car outside the church building. The branch president is convinced her telling us not to come back has something to do with him, and I agree. She really wants it and loves the church especially for her kids. It's too bad.

Karyna has been a little tough, too. Karyna we haven't taught this week. The lesson we had got cancelled, because she wasn't there. We found her a ride to church, and her parents were ok with it. We reminded her an hour before, and she said she was coming and when her ride showed up, she didn't answer the door. I think she just got nervous and freaked out and didn't know what to do, because she is still very, very shy. We have a seventeen-year-old girl (her age) going to pick her up next week. She is really good; she reads every night to her little sister and is enrolled in seminary.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

He has been praying for Spanish missionaries...

I met a lady that works at the post office. Her son has a different name than hers, but we got talking, and it turns out her son works high-up in estimations or something at Brasher's. Small world; I am blanking on his name though. I also met the Hatch family. Raina sent their address, and it turns out they only live a block and a half away from me, so we stopped by and said hi to them. They invited us over for Thanksgiving! If I am still here around that time, I will go over there.  Thanks for everything, Raina.

So are there any mission calls yet? President Hiers came up this week and talked to us about some possible changes as a result of the new age. He came up to eat lunch with our zone and let us know that Elder Senn's trainer went home early. Elder Senn was pretty sad about that.  President Hiers just kind of told us, “Well you can see what happens when you are disobedient. Try to make better choices than the two of them did, because they both had to go home.”  The picture to the left is a copy of the mission culture we are trying to adopt.

You can keep Elder Senn in your prayers; his dad had a heart attack (he is 85) and is in the hospital. His mom is in the hospital for something else; I can't remember why. (She is 51...huge age gap between them!).  I went with Elder Senn to get his patriarchal blessing finally. The Spirit was very strong, and I understood everything said, then as soon as it was over, I forgot everything. It was really weird. I remember thinking about the things said to him during the blessing, but as soon as the patriarch said, “Amen,” it was like my memory was wiped, and I had no idea what he said. I guess that’s the Lord's was of telling me that's really none of my business to know what was in his blessing.

SO we traveled up to Montpelier for the first time. Se went to the English class, and then played soccer for a little bit with all the students (15 Hispanics), and then spent the night at the missionaries’ house up there, because it’s an hour drive. Then we had a guy named Roger Hunsaker drive us around to see a bunch of potentials all the next day. He is not the ward mission leader, but he has been working with these people for years (he speaks very broken Spanish), and said he has been praying for Spanish missionaries to come up for a while. All the people knew him really well and have taken the lessons before. We will try to work up there once a week now, but it’s tough; work on a ranch doesn’t have a schedule. We will get a ride up once a week with the daily dose couple, spend the night, work there on foot as much as we can, and then Brother Hunsaker will drive us home at the end of the day. I hope work goes well up there. It is a challenge to drive up there and especially without set appointments, but it just needs to be done. I talked to president about the need for more Spanish missionaries, and it surprised him. He said he would work on that, so hopefully there should be more up here soon.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

As Missionaries, We do ALL we can to keep His commandments

Two huge dogs that ran up to us...there are dogs everywhere since the farmers just let them wander.
 So my insights for the week!

I have always really liked to connect a group of scriptures to each other; let me explain. If you start with one, cross-reference to another and somehow connect them all back together, it is just cool to me. I have always done that; even in high school, I would do it in seminary sometimes. Anyways, so I do that occasionally, and I really like how it makes the scriptures more interesting.

I just finished reading PMG all the way through doing all the activities and scripture studies, and one thing stood out to me. I noticed how often it says the words "do all that you can..." It says it everywhere, about everything. I read through The Book of Mormon, too, and although it has 1000 themes, the ones I picked that stood out to me this time was "If you keep my commandments, ye shall prosper in the land," in some form or another. Since those two books are the main tools for missionary service, I just connected them, and I'm going to say, “As missionaries we ‘do all we can to keep his commandments,’” which, as ElderHolland pointed out, is the first great commandment, to love the Lord, and when we love him, then we will keep his commandments and not do it slothfully. This has nothing to do with my scripture chain things that I do but it is just a thought that was running through my head last night.

So my self-diagnosed OCD has not left me. I realized how bad it was earlier this week. I had spent everyday for about a week thinking about how I want to highlight my new English scriptures, and it was even keeping me up at night deciding what colors to use and all that, because I knew once I started I couldn't go back. Here’s what I decided. In The Book of Mormon I’ll use six different colored sharpie pens (they don't bleed). I am highlighting every reference in a different color to each component of the doctrine of Christ and the atonement. Since that is my purpose, and they are my missionary scriptures, I think it will be cool to have that stick out a little bit more since that is my focus right now. I am just glad I finally decided so I can stop stressing about it. (BTW-Here is the color code: blue = faith, red = atonement, black = repentance, green = baptism, purple = holy ghost, orange = endure to the end)

This has been a bad car week. We drove up to Grace to spend all day finding. We didn't find anyone that day, and we spent all of our time there. We found lots of Hispanics but no interest. On the way up, I got a ticket and on the way down, it was just bad. We were trying to go to the daily-dose-couple’s house. They live in Thatcher, Idaho. It is right off the highway up a dirt road. It was dark out when we went to stop by. She doubted her address would be on the gps when she called us, but it was. I told her, so she said ok. So we took the dirt road the GPS told us to, and it was a little rough…maybe just big enough for two small cars to pass by for the first mile or so. Then it started to get rough, and we weren’t seeing anything. The GPS said keep going, and there were no houses or lights for a while. We couldn’t turn around at all, and it was pitch black out so we kept going. We had no cell signal and by the time we were 1.5 miles in, the road was very rough and there were branches touching both sides of the car at some points. We kept saying prayers of what to do and felt like we should keep going (Obviously the GPS was wrong. There was no house out there.) So, we got about two miles in until there was a road that went off directly to the left, and I was able to three point turn there and barely slide the car back up and turn around, so we could drive out. It was kind of scary just because I was worried we would have to leave the car.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Best Companion in the Mission!

There he is! Love this picture. I have a good feeling about this place.
OK- so I just wrote this whole thing and then clicked ‘discard’ by accident. Ugh!
So here we go, again. Best area in the mission. I am in Idaho and cover about half the mission. My district leader is the Samoan missionary from the leadership training that I told you about. My zone leaders are great, one of them is one that a lot of missionaries in Hyrum didn’t like, because he made them keep the rules and ‘dumb stuff’ like that. There is another set of English missionaries right next to us, and they are awesome. One of them came out with me; he is a worker and gave me four referrals this week.

That's him. The best companion in the mission, Elder Carlos Senn.

OK- time to write about Elder Senn, again.... His real name is swedish and has 15 letters in our alphabet, but it is written on his badge has Senn and that is how you say it-just how it looks. He is the best, from Panama, the youngest of ten, only member in his family. He moved out of the house, bought his own home and got a full time job when he was twelve. He converted four years ago. Convert story: He was going to a Catholic school and was doing homework about the afterlife. He didn’t know how all the answers and said a prayer for help. The missionaries immediately knocked on his door (his house is not seen from the street; you have to know where it is to find it). He opened the door and asked them for help. They told him, and he immediately asked to be baptized. They had to convince him not to until he had learned more. His dad was always an atheist and his mom unreligious. A couple months before his mission, his dad invited him over for dinner (which was unusual). He reached for the food, and his dad slapped his hand and said, “We need to pray first.” He told his dad to say it. His dad then gave a perfect "Mormon prayer." Elder Senn asked his dad where he learned to pray like that, and his dad said it was directly from his heart. His dad is now investigating the church, and his mom goes to church every week and feeds the missionaries every week. Elder Senn talks an insane amount. I have to kick him in lessons to get him to stop talking, ha-ha. He is the nicest person ever. He loves everyone, and his only flaw is he is really bad at feedback, because he thinks everyone else is already perfect except himself. He is a little crazy…ha-ha. Not sure how else to say it, but he is the best.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

I can help generations...

Well, I am getting transferred again, going up to Preston, Idaho. It covers all the way through Star Valley, Wyoming. It’s the biggest area in the mission and probably takes at least two hours to drive across my area without traffic. I am with Elder Senn. He is from Panama, and this will be his second transfer, so I am going to finish training him. I am excited to help him out. I don't know how good of an example his last companion set, so I think I can help him start some good habits. (His former companion was with Elder Saldaña before I came.) President Hiers called me to ask me if I could do that for him, and he just said, “Elder Senn has a great testimony. I am praying everything goes well for you...haha,” and that was it. But it will be fun. We drive a six cylinder Malibu (the only one in the mission), so that’ll be fun :)   So this has been a good week if a little long because everyone was anxious to know what will happen with transfers but it is good.

We had one meeting, and they brought up one of their ward mission plans; it summed up this mission so far. The ward mission leader came to ward council and his ward mission plan was to wait for all the kids in the ward to turn nine to allow them to be baptized...and he was serious..ha-ha. I thought that was pretty funny.

So cool thing this week, at correlation, our mission leader found out transfers were coming up. He asked us if he could call President Hiers to make sure that Elder Saldaña and I stayed, because he has been waiting for these types of missionaries for a long time. That was pretty nice of him; it made us feel like we were doing something right, but I guess I am leaving anyways.

So, I was reading more about Ammon in Alma this week, and I had a cool thought. We think of all the converts of Ammon, and that is the fruit of his labors. We think how great that is, but we often tend to miss that the REAL fruit of Ammon’s labors is those people's kids, the 2000 striplingwarriors: basically the biggest studs in The Book of Mormon. It made me think about how the effect my mission can have on generations to come based on how well I prioritize retention rather than just baptism as a missionary. Just a random thought.

(Print from imagekind)

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Things are getting better...

 Well, the week before last was tough, but right after I emailed, things got better. I prayed about what to do about my companion and I not getting along; the simple answer given was just to talk to him. So I did that...a two hour long companionship inventory that night..yayyyy. It started out very badly but ended well. I wasn't really mad; I was just kind of tired of fighting him and feeling hated. For the first little bit he just talked about how he doesn't like me or respect me and that other missionaries in the zone don't like me either; they talk about me behind my back. He didn't care about fixing it, because he said he just really didn't like me and laughed at me when I said I am struggling. I couldn't believe that was happening! But I was persistent and said I wouldn't keep going on without finding a solution, so FINALLY he said, “ok fine I will try to be nicer to you. I'll admit I have been mean on purpose, but maybe if I start loving you like I have my other companions it will get better.” And that was it; he hasn't changed really and neither have I, but some how it is just better. I am still a little bugged that other missionaries don't like me; I guess they talk about how I am obedient to suck up to the zone leaders and that I am always just angry. It's kind of funny, because around those missionaries, I usually am angry, because they are around me when they are over at our house NOT doing missionary work. But oh well, the people that matter still like me, so I just am kind of brushing what they think off. Trying to.
The pitbull that wants to kill me. Maybe he hates me because I walk to fast?

One of the reasons that Elder Saldaña doesn’t like me that made me laugh is because I walk too fast (never heard that one before). It amazes me how much that bugs people, oh well. I guess I walk too fast. I can work on that.

WE have taught a couple more first lesson this week. The Spirit sandwich is great, but it kind of messes up lesson one. We extend the commitment right after the first vision, and that kind of feels like the end, so the restoration of the priesthood and The Book of Mormon always get skipped which is a problem. At this point in the lesson, I just kind of cut in and teach them after the commitment, because he really just thinks we should finish there which I know is not what we are supposed to do. They mentioned that specifically in the training.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Going Private Update

After posting last week that we would be taking the blog private, several of you responded that you would like to stay updated with Elder Bassett's letters. That was plan as of this morning, until I received this email response from our last letter asking if we should make it more private:

"They won't search my name again. I am sure...leave it public. There are some people that get on it that I am friends with, but you wouldn't know."
So that's where we stand. The blog will stay public! Thank you for reading, and please keep him and his fellow missionaries in your prayers! As you can see from this morning's letter (published below), things are improving bit by bit; your prayers help so much.

"You guys are awesome. I'm glad you are here to make things better.”

Another week has gone by. It was a crazy week. Right off the bat, I went on exchanges with my district leader. He is fantastic. He talked to me all day about looking from others’ perspectives and being a good companion. He is just such a nice guy and really cares about other people. Before bed, we were laying down falling asleep, and he said every night he says something he loves about his companion, and then he said something (I can't remember what it was), but it just shows you he is a good guy. Maybe I will try that one-day.

Our new apartment
Then we moved last week. There are four of us in one apartment. It is a two-bedroom place, which means we have no office/desks and no storage. There are just boxes of stuff sitting in the front room. We have to study sitting in bed, which makes it harder to stay awake and means the other missionaries have an excuse to sit all in the front room together and not study. The other missionaries were told by our housing coordinator to look for another place and this is just temporary, but they want to live together: mostly because Elder Saldaña doesn’t want to be just with me. Anyways, they aren’t looking for a place and just plan on staying with us.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Going Private

Hi everybody...thanks for reading Elder Bassett's letters and supporting him through prayers and letters. Some of the missionaries in his area have been going on the internet and searching out names and people. Since he shares so openly about his experiences, we decided to open the blog to invited guests only. If you would to continue reading his letters, please send me an email and I will send you an 'invitation." Sorry for the inconvenience. We're still learning and trying to figure out how best to share his letters.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That really encouraged me... pictures this week...and this keyboard has the backspace in the wrong spot, so sorry if there are a few extra type-o's.

Anyway, this week has been better; mainly it’s just my perspective, but I am doing well. So, I made a big decision...Jessica keeps asking what I want her to send, and I never tell her, but I just want to say NOT candy…dessert is different obviously J but no candy. I already eat unhealthy enough here, so yeah, no need to send candy while I am on my mission after watching how much candy other missionaries eat. Ha-ha.

Last p-day, I was feeling a little discouraged and overwhelmed. The next morning I prayed to be able to see some love from the Lord…then I got five letters that day! It was great; three letters the next day, too. Lots of support from some awesome uncles and old mission friends that really encouraged also made me wake up a little bit and realize how small my problems are especially compared to other's in their missions. It definitely changed my perspective about my mission, and I know it'll get better. 

So, we are moving this week! They finally found a new place, and it is an apartment next to the trailer park where all of our work is, so we will save tons of miles. We ended up 450 miles over this month; our vehicle coordinator was aware, though, well ahead of time. Before I got into the area, Elder Saldaña’s old companion pretty much used all of ours up going around the mission, so things should be better this month.

So anyways, just about my Spanish: I haven't reported in awhile. Most people that I talk to are surprised that I speak ok and tell me I don't have a bad accent, which is good. Most missionaries here that learn Spanish don't ever practice, so most people's reaction in the ward is surprise, because Elder Saldaña’s last companion has been out a year and can't really speak it still. I still have a ton to learn, but at least I can communicate fine. I am working on doing flashcards for all the words in the small red book, all the grammar reviews in the medium red book and just reading the Book of Mormon the rest of the time. I couldn’t believe Tyson finished the whole Book of Mormon in Spanish in a transfer, so I have been kicking it into gear and trying to do it a little faster. I have been lazy about it and doing other Spanish things that are probably easier and won't help as much.

So, we have this talk called ‘Feed My Sheep’ by Elder Holland. We have it on video. It was given a year ago in the MTC. If you can find it then watch it. It's like Remember the Titans, but with the Spirit. It is awesome. Basically the whole time, it is really good, but then at the end he finishes with talking about the exact moment that Peter became the great apostle when for the third time (acknowledging the three times he denied the Savior) he says he loves the Savior more than anything. And in that moment, Elder Holland says you can forget the denials, the confusion, the not knowing what to do but go feed sheep, because in that moment he becomes the great apostle and "to that response the Savior of the world said then Feed my sheep! (while pounding the podium)" and he talks about how the Savior was conveying "I have asked you before to leave your nets, and I am asking you a second time and don't want to ask you a third time, when I asked you to follow me it was forever, when I asked you to be an apostle it was forever, when I asked you to see this through to the end. it was because it’s not over till its over, so go feed my sheep." Anyway, I can't do justice over email, but it is seriously so awesome, and he gets very passionate and talks about how awful it is to serve a mission then go home and go inactive, and that this mission marks the hour that we will feed His sheep FOREVER. Not just two years…anyways. So at random times during the day, I will yell out FEED MY SHEEP just because we love it so much. In fact, it is about an hour long. It’s what Elder Saldaña does for personal study a lot of the time. Ha-ha. (The referenced talk isn't posted here yet, but if we keep checking, I'm thinking it might get added to the list.)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

"...these 2 are different; they have the Spirit, they work hard..."

So a few stories for this week. The first one is pretty different. It was 9:30 and Elder Saldaña wanted to go to McDonalds. I said, “No, we need to stay in right should've eaten dinner earlier when I did. We had time...” He wasn't giving in and said, “Fine, I'll call the zone leaders,” and I said, “Yeah, they will probably say yes to anything you ask them.” So he said, “I'll call President Hiers.” Of course I didn't think he was serious, so I said, “Yeah, go for it; call him.” So he did, and I thought he was just pretending. Then ten minutes later president called and said, “Hey Elder Bassett, I am bringing McDonalds over to your house to feed your companion. Do you want anything?” I couldn't believe it. So president came over at 10:30 at night (because he got lost coming to our house) to give my companion dinner. I felt pretty bad, but he taught us a good lesson about obedience and how he would rather go out of his way to help us be obedient than have us break a rule. He went upstairs, and our bedroom was clean, but the other missionaries’ was pretty bad, so he talked to them about cleanliness and then went on his way. Elder Saldaña didn't quite understand why that was rude of us to call when he has other things to worry about besides him being hungry, so I hope he doesn't try to do it again.  

So things have been better this week...well not really…just my perspective has been better, and I have been happier. Personal study is tough with all the noises the other missionaries are making, but I usually just go to the office and try to focus. It is still a struggle to have effective companionship study. I drew the line when he wanted to role-play bashing...ha-ha.  I am learning to be patient and just listen and learn from him. I can't say this without sounding snobbish, but there are just some things that I know are important and he doesn’t. He really doesn't like to leave commitments or talk about The Book of Mormon in the first lesson. And when we contact people he ALWAYS says, “We aren't here to convert or baptize you, just talk about Jesus,” because he says it helps get close to people, but it's just not the truth. He thinks we should avoid talking about the restoration when contacting, so that's been tough. I try to talk about how we need to follow preach my gospel, but his attitude about preach my gospel is that just like the old lessons that they had to modify, one day they will realize some things are wrong with preach my gospel and change, basically that he knows better about how to teach people than the first presidency since we are some very intelligent 19 year old boys… Anyways, that's frustrating..

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

First week in Hyrum, 5 weeks in the field

The Logan Utah Temple
Ok, so this was my week first week in Hyrum.. Lots of stuff in this email, so this will be random and unorganized.

The Hyrum house is huge: two story house, four bedroom, three bathroom. I'll send pictures next week. It has not been taken care of at all, really. Things are just really unorganized. I was doing dishes and asked where the plates go, and they said anywhere. You open the cupboards and plates from about a hundred different members that haven’t been returned are everywhere, and nothing is really organized.

Elder Woodward (new from MTC), Elder Isla, Elder Saldaña, & I
Ok so, I'll tell you about Hyrum. Right before I left, Elder Isla said, “Hold strong. Hyrum is known as apostate land, because nobody works at all, and it’s easy to be lazy.” That was encouraging. He is definitely right, though. Right off the bat in the car, I told my new companion I didn't want to listen to music that wasn't "churchy," and he was not happy. It took a while, but eventually he agreed. He keeps trying to push it, but I am not giving in. He is a worker though. He told me right off the bat that he wants to work. His last companion was lazy and just flirted with girls, so he wants to change and work. I am happy with that; we work very hard. He doesn't like some of the small rules and is very against changing at all. But we do work. There are a couple things like at lunch instead of eating he will take a nap, so I can't do anything about that, but he has a good attitude about helping the other missionaries. The two others we live with sleep in everyday and hang out all day pretty much, and we are trying to encourage them by going tracting with them, inviting them to study with us, things like that. Rather than be frustrated and judge them, he tries to help them which is a good example for me. Oh, and we work out at the high school gym: none of the tv's, music, or anybody else there like the other area. The janitors let us in, so that is pretty nice.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Even if I don't baptize everyone I teach, I can help them remember...

Ok. So another week...and my last week in East Ogden! This week has been good.

So the costco story...
I went last week for p-day...and had about 33 dollars worth of stuff..and went up to pay with the members I was with. I thought my missionary card was debit so I tried that, and it didin't work; apparently, it runs as credit. Then I said no big deal and used my US Bank debit card. It didn't work; it said my pin was wrong. I kept trying and was getting frustrated and said to put a few things back, because I only had 17 dollars cash. The lady at the register was a member and said, “No, I'll pay for it.” It's one thing for someone to choose to do that, but she was kind of forced into the situation, and I felt bad, so I said, “No, absolutely not. I'll put it back.” She said no, and I tried a couple more times and said please don't, but she did anyways. I could feel myself turning red and getting frustrated, because I felt bad and don't like putting people out paying for me. Anyway, I called US Bank and tried to blame it on them, because I was frustrated with myself and anyways then I got home and realized I was using my ATM number instead of my debit card number. Stupid...Anyways, I felt pretty dumb. On top of that, I have to figure out what I'm going to do with this bulk food I now have to bring with me up to Hyrum.

So this week I remembered things that I had to do and wrote them down. I remembered in Arizona Mom asked me to make her a playlist probably at least ten times, and I never did it. Anyways...I just wanted to say sorry Mom...I remembered and was just lazy and selfish and never took ten minutes to help you. I ask members to give us their friends and do all these hard things, but I couldn't even "commit" to helping my mom for five minutes. I don't know why, but that has really been bugging me this week, so I am sorry I never did that. Hopefully my mission will teach me to be a little less selfish and lazy.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Spirit or a Righteous Hunch

Another week in the mission field,

This has been an interesting week. It started off that last p-day was not too great on my quest for more charity, and I decided I needed to try a lot harder. He hadn't cleaned all day and his companion, Elder Isla, and I had. We argued for a little bit, and I just kind of lost it on him for not even cleaning up after himself and that I was sick of telling him to clean up his own messes and then doing it myself. We yelled for a little and got nowhere, and I was mad. Later that night, I pulled him off to the side and apologized and said I needed to do better and not get so worked up about things. I was hoping he would have the same type of attitude, but he just said, “Yeah, as a district leader I have a lot of responsibilities that you don't know about, and I don't have time to clean up after myself, because I am so busy worrying about others.” He talked for about fifteen minutes about how he has a lot more on his plate than I do, and I think that was his way of apologizing. I just said, “Ok, you're right,” and decided I would just lead by example and ignore the fact that he won't really help clean up. The frustrating thing is that if he were so busy with his "district duties" he wouldn't spend so much time during the day sitting on the couch or out to eat with other missionaries. But I think in his mind he is doing well. Even if he isn't, oh well, I'm just going to worry about myself.

So, that night I decided I needed to start doing better. We read a talk about purifying and getting rid of things that don't seem like a big deal, but you need to do it to feel the Spirit strongly. We made a list of things as an apartment. Among them were singing non-missionary songs, quoting movies, not starting studies on time, leaving out dishes (that was my input), and a few other things. For the punishments for breaking our rules, I had a really good idea that you had to clean something if you broke a rule. That only lasted the first day before our district leader said it was dumb, and he didn't want to clean stuff anymore, but at least I tried ha-ha.
The one thing Elder Isla and I started to do together was not going to the gym. We both felt the same after reading the talk. Then we prayed about it and decided we won't go to the gym anymore. I know it sounds dumb, but it was a really hard decision, because I really like going to the gym. It's how I relieve stress, but I know I'll feel the Spirit better without that type of influence every morning. The other missionaries ask why we don't go anymore, and we don't really say, but at the same time, our zone leaders decided to stop going, too so that made me feel more confident about it. I have just been doing workouts at home in the morning instead. I really have no reason to complain, because that's what people in other missions do, so that'll be ok. Unfortunately, this means Elder Isla doesn't exercise anymore, but it was his decision, too.  I can't force him to exercise in the morning.

Grandma sent me some 3-2-1-cake mix that is making staying healthy difficult. I love it. I try to avoid cake everyday at lunch but it's hard. ha-ha, thanks grandma! (Don't stop sending them!) Our district leader started ‘unifying our district’ this week, and he says we need to have more district lunches. I am really the only one who doesn't want to do it, because I don't want to waste money. There is this place they like to go; it's outside our zone, and the hamburgers are like seven dollars (but you get free fries). They go occasionally, and I just don't eat lunch that day. It kind of bugs me, because they don't have enough money, so they email their parents and say the mission doesn't give them enough, so their parents send more money. I have a pretty interesting district.

One thing I have grown to love here is Tampico. I have had more of it since I have been here than my whole life combined. EVERY Hispanic house has some. It's kind of funny. Oh, about the gym, I was battling at one point whether or not it was actually the Spirit and not just in my head that I couldn't go. Then Dad's ‘righteous hunch talk’ popped into my head, and I realized it was inviting me to do this for a better cause, so who cares if it was a righteous hunch or the Spirit? I should follow it regardless. After deciding that, I felt a lot better about it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

That day I tried to start being more charitable

Elder Bassett's presents from our trip to Europe: ties and an official Tour de France T-shirt.
We would have liked to send croissants and nutella but....
Hello all,
       I started to read Isaiah in Spanish, and it is FRUSTRATING. I get pretty mad, because none of the words he uses are ones that I know so it takes me forever to get through it looking back and forth at the English scriptures, but I guess that means I will learn. (Oh whenever you send something next, could you send blank flashcards? Thanks. Also I got the blanket from grandma; Thank you grandma! And mom's package, of course, you saw in the picture.) 
Elder Wright & Elder Bassett
      Before I forget Elder Thaddeus Wright was reassigned to Roseville, California because of visa issues. So everyone keep an eye out for him and take care of him if you see him! He's a great guy; he was in my MTC district.
       Well, this week has been a learning experience. The amount of contacts we did tripled, but the amount of lessons we taught diminished to almost nothing. We had at least fifteen first lessons scheduled where people just weren't there. That is the biggest problem in Ogden; people tell you that they are interested just so you will go away then they never answer the door again. We continue to be persistent, but often times they send kids to the door to tell us not to come back, or they just act like they aren't home when they are right there and you can see them through the window. It is tough.
       We need to work with the members more, I decided, because tracting really isn't getting success, so I guess we need more of a balance. Elder Isla has been here a while, so I am trying to get him out of the habit of saying, "I have already talked to them before. There's no point." Regardless of that, things could've changed, but I can't just go and talk to them without him so we sadly pass up talking to a lot of people. The other tough thing is running into white people. We can really only go tracting in a few areas, because if not, we spend way too much time giving referrals to English missionaries and not helping out our own area.
       You would not BELIEVE how great Elder Isla is at predicting