Colorado Fort Collins Mission

Colorado Fort Collins Mission
Colorado Fort Collins Mission

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve in Loveland, Colorado

He is the Gift and baking cookies

December 22, 2014

This week was difficult. Our lesson with the Hernandez family ended with them telling us they were comfortable where they are at but that we can come over and discuss Christ whenever we want. We had 1 or 2 lessons with our other investigators, and the rest didn't answer their doors or were busy. We found 2 new investigators when we gave them a He is the Gift card last night. They seemed very open, receptive, and thankful, so we will definitely be re-visiting them.
We moved this week since the people we were living with are having their teenage daughter for a few weeks during Christmas. I now have a queen size bed and finally enough space for everything. I'll send a picture next week.
I had a dilemma last night during my prayers. I said I wasn't going to stop praying until I either 1) felt the Spirit or 2) fell asleep. During my prayer, I was getting a little tired, but nothing I couldn't handle. The next thing I remember is waking up in my bed. I literally have no idea how I got there. I don't even remember falling asleep or getting close to it, and I don't remember crawling into bed. I'm still a little disturbed by it.
On Christmas there is a chance of....rain. Yeah. I don't yet know how I feel about that. 

This week we are going to be baking cookies and taking them to our investigators to hopefully show them that we really do care about them. Bribery into the baptismal font? Maybe. But whatever it takes, right? Just kidding.
We were able to sing Christmas carols at the old folks home this week, and it was awesome to see how happy they were for that. My weeks go by the Fridays because of Aspen House.
I hope you all have a great week, and Merry Christmas!

Gotham and American Fark

December 15, 2014

Who still reads this?
Other than some of my family and a few other choice friends that I'm guessing read it, I'm trying to decide why I write these. Maybe I'm just being brought to a perfect remembrance of my guilt for not having exciting weeks.

Let's was literally 68 degrees outside this Friday. That was amazing.

I would encourage you all to look up "Mary, Did You Know?" by Pentatonix. It will blow your mind. 

We had an impromptu lunch with a ward member, and after when we were in a food coma sitting on the couch we were watching the TV. The TV, not like TV shows. I don't know if that's technically banned or not. Anyway, the Roku logo was bouncing back and forth on the screen (standby mode), and then we wondered if it were possible for it to hit the corner. The member looked it up on Youtube and it is, indeed, possible. Then we thought we saw it hit the corner but had to make sure, so we spent the next 10 minutes watching the Roku logo bounce. Then someone hit the remote and we all had mini heart attacks.

That member also told us that his friend recently had a baby and said "it doesn't feel real yet". He replied "it'll feel real when you're getting up at 2 in the morning to make him stop crying". Then he replied "I'm considering naming my kid 'Gotham' so that when my wife comes in and wakes me up she can say 'Gotham needs you'". That was probably the funniest thing I heard all week. 

About 1 in 5 times that I say I'm from American Fork someone says "American Fark?" and laughs at their own joke. It's driving me insane. I might just claim Lehi as my hometown soon.

We haven't been able to meet with the Hernandez family since that one first lesson, but we went over last night and there whole family was there having a party. We set a return appointment for tonight, so we're going to teach the Plan of Salvation and see what happens. I want to get excited about teaching them, but it's hard when we teach a first lesson, the Spirit is definitely there, and then we never see them again. They avoid us, won't answer there phone, tell us to come back later, whatever it is. It's hard having investigators and then none of them progress, and I still don't know how to help them progress sometimes with the language barrier. I usually self-proclaim myself to be on keep-the-kids-from-killing-each-other duty when that's applicable, and I actually love doing that. 

K, that's all I have this week. Have a great week before Christmas week everyone

Monday, December 8, 2014

Glorious, spicy squid jerky, and ward Christmas party

December 8, 2014

This week the missionary work was slow...we only found 4 new investigators while tracting! It was awesome. Elder Farnsworth and I got a request from a returned sister missionary to come with us to an appointment we had, and we told her it would be great if she came. Her mom drove her to the appointment, it fell through, and since we had nothing else to do, we decided to all go tracting (I can't say that I'll ever be off my mission and say "Well, I have nothing else to do, so I might as well go tracting, but who knows). Basically, we blame our success on her faith and diligence, and we are thrilled to say the least.

It wasn't all like that, though, since more than one door was shut in our face. I love it when people tell us no, and then they shut and lock the's not like we're going to kick the door down or walk in after you. Locking it is just that extra rejection that we, of course, love to receive.

There was actually one lady that might have had a good reason to lock her door after we left. We found her tracting, she's almost totally deaf, her first language is Japanese, and no one else lives with her. After trying to teach the first lesson while literally yelling at her so she could hear, and even that didn't do much good, we said we would go and get a Japanese Book of Mormon for her. The next day, since I knew she was almost deaf and the TV was on really loud, I knocked about as hard as I could on the door. After 30 seconds when she didn't come to the door, I started banging the door again and...she opened it right then. Yelling at her after that so she could hear probably didn't help her opinion of us, but I wanted to make sure that she remembered us from last time. We ended up giving her the book and leaving since we didn't want to try and shout the second lesson.

At our ward Christmas party, we had to do a skit for the Elder's Quorum since no one else would volunteer, but it actually turned out really well. My comp might put it on youtube, and if so I'll send the link. Also, the kids were more excited to see the Elsa and Anna than Santa, but that's just a sidenote. We also are going to be singing What Child is This in our zone Christmas devotional, so I'll send that link if it turns out well.

The other glorious thing that happened this week was that song, Glorious. I discovered that my companion has it on his USB, so we probably listened to that about 100 times this week. It's such a good, uplifting, happy, easy-to-try-to-harmonize-to song. 

I have nothing else to say other than I am half excited and half dreading Christmas. I know Christmas itself is going to be awesome, especially if I get packages and/or letters from people *cough cough* (after all, it would only take about 3 to make the room under our tree full. And yes, those are missionary pamphlets that we used to prop the tree up. Word of Wisdom for the win), but the week after I think is going to be quite depressing, getting back into the swing of things and all of that. We'll see how it goes I guess. Maybe if we have some more of this 55-60 degree December weather I'll stay content. Hope you all have a great week and enjoy the pictures!

Sunrises are frighteningly gorgeous.

Typical trailer park, atypical success

Our wonderfully magnificent Christmas tree

Ghetto grocery store=Spicy Squid Jerky

 Ugly sweater contest (which I should have won)/Ward Christmas Party with Santa, Elsa, Anna, and the missionaries

Monday, December 1, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

December 1, 2014

Most of this is going to be pictures. Not a whole lot happened this week. The English-fast has made my head hurt like crazy each night this week, but I have also progressed a TON in Spanish. I can now speak at the level of a 4 year old native speaker.

We found almost the perfect family last night half tracting, half using the area book. They are a super spiritual family, they accepted all of our commitments, we left a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet, and they are just awesome. The only problem is that they are very active in the Catholic church (which isn't exactly a problem, since they do a lot of service and are just great people, but you know what I mean), which as my companion said, is the second hardest church to prove wrong...but I'm so excited to see where it goes! I also said the doorstep approach which was basically "We're missionaries, we have a message about Christ, can we come in?" And lo and behold, they let us in! For the first time in my companion's mission, he said, has he been let in the door tracting, and all that was necessary was to just straight up ask.  But hey, that's all I knew how to say, and it worked. It's amazing how I can accidentally include things in our lessons because that's what my vocabulary is limited to and yet they are what they need to hear, like how we forgot to mention baptism in the near future except when I said "we are on earth to make covenants like baptism". 

Missionary work is actually pretty awesome when stuff happens and you see people progress. It makes me want to work harder to get those things to happen. Everyone has their agency though, and it has been hard to find people, but we'll see what happens. 

Here are a lot of pics. Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving! And just so no one sarcastically asks, yes, I was warm in my puffy coat that makes me look like a fat spaceman.

A member that graduated from Good 'ol AF High. (Brother Biggs).

Cupcakes made Turkeys

Thanksgiving with the Mickelson's! (And that's GuaranĂ¡, not Mountain Dew, I'm not "apostate" as some missionaries would claim it makes you.)

Christmas lights

Dope tree house

The Fort Collins temple under construction!

(PS, I asked Kennon which is the first hardest church to prove wrong and he said he actually meant first hardest church!  I think we should pray for this family and for Kennon and his companion).

Staying in Loveland for 6 more weeks.

November 24, 2014

I don't have a lot of time, and this week wasn't incredibly eventful, but here we go:

We have transfers this Tuesday, and I'll be staying with Elder Farnsworth in Loveland for 6 more weeks. We are also going to start a fast from speaking English wish me luck and send your prayers for that. Also, I'm glad I'm with him as opposed to the other 4 guys in my MTC district that are all training each other...

We had zone meeting this week, and that went well. There were a lot of great lessons learned from that.

We had an awesome dinner lesson with a member family last night, from which we got 3 referrals, more than we've gotten in an entire lesson thus far. 

That's really all I have this week, so I apologize. I hope you all had a great week, and talk to you all next week.

A dragon statue carved directly from a tree.

An awesome bidet in a member's home.

Winter week and Elder Baxter of the Seventy

November 17, 2014

Winter is here. Like 6" of it, and record cold temperatures. On Wednesday it didn't get above 10 degrees Fahrenheit, so that was quite the change from the 65 degree weather we were enjoying just 2 days earlier. It also freaks me out just wondering how cold it's going to get in Cheyenne or Scottsbluff since I'm in the warmest area right now.

Sometimes, my desire to go tracting or do missionary work in general follows the weather all too well: hitting zero or even dipping into the negatives. This was also coupled with, strangely enough, growing least, I think they were growing pains. I really don't know what else they could have been. One day it was my right leg and the other my left that was on fire for no reason, so I'm not sure. Buuuuuut....we went out and did our best anyway.

This week we also did 7 hours of service one day, which was awesome. The food bank needed new shelves in, so we moved all of the food off, rearranged the heights of the shelves, made some new shelves entirely, and then loaded all of the food back on. It was interesting to note that I was in less pain after doing hard physical labor for 7 hours than I was during the days that I had growing pains for no reason and didn't want to do missionary work. Lesson: God sustains those who are doing his work.

The other highlight, but not really, of this week was that I accidentally chastised someone...We were talking about the Book of Mormon, and I said that if someone hadn't received an answer about the Book of Mormon, it's because they don't have the sincere heart it talks about, meaning that they'll act on that answer. Then I found out that that applied all too well to him, actually being a nonmember married to a member...but!!! The Spirit was definitely present in the lesson, even when I said that, so maybe it was what he needed to hear....I'm just trying not to worry about it.

It's things like that that really make me doubt my ability to be a good missionary, but then at mission tour, we were told by a member of the seventy that when he and 9 others were called, they referred to themselves and the WS 10: The Weak and Simple 10, like from the scripture in D&C 1. It is the weak things of the world that will come down and thrash the mighty, and God can make weak things become strong through the race of Jesus Christ (D&C 1:19, Ether 12:27). Rely on the grace of Jesus Christ to sustain you, for all things are possible to them that believe.

Hope everyone had a good week! Pray for warmer weather/the work to be hastened in Loveland Colorado!

 Mission Tour with Elder Baxter of the Seventy and his wife along with our mission president and his wife

Sometimes life is good, like a good lunch in a warm house on a cold day


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Insanely difficult trials...

Monday November 10, 2014

Today was a pretty good week, other than we had one insanely difficult trial: we had to exchange our 2014 Corolla, Rachel, for a 2011 Corolla because of repairs. We named her Bertha since she is way less attractive than a Rachel. Mission life is hard sometimes.

The other insane trial I had this week was I got a cardboard cut on my finger. You think a paper cut hurts? No, cardboard is infinitely worse. 

The weather was amazing this week, and then today we got snow all day and 20 degree weather, so no more sun and nice days for, oh, 4 months or so.

I found out that Eminem is releasing another album soon. How dare he. How dare he take a 3 year hiatus and then release another album after only a year as soon as I leave. My companion advised me to "not listen to his music even when I get back, that'll show him".

After seeing the name of a BBQ place, I've decided on the name of my first child: Bubba Biggins Bacon.

It has gotten to a depressing level when I think about the things that give me joy. I was so excited to try out a new mouthwash I bought. We spent about 4 minutes debating which one to get, based off of the flavor, the cavity protection, the presence of alcohol, the doctor recommendations, etc. 

One of the missionaries in our district had the most brilliant idea of all time. At Chick-fil-A now, they occasionally have receipts with a free chicken sandwich on them if you do a survey, so his idea was to go through the trash and find more. Flawless, right? I think God showed us that that wasn't a good idea when we showed up, went in, and a member visiting from another city offered to buy us lunch. Tender mercy. That also happened when I went into a gelato shop to try and talk to the owner about the gospel. Lesson of the day: the Lord blesses you, sometimes when you have good intentions and sometimes when you have less good intentions, but we are always blessed if we look for it (hypocritical at times coming from me, I know). 

The family we are staying with found out through other missionaries I was only half joking when I was talking about killing their dog. This thing has an ear infection, and when he scratches it, that mixed with the blood mixed with just his natural fragrance is unbearable. He also loves to eat our garbage and make a mess as he does so. I haven't been confronted yet by them  (though I heard they laughed and only have the dog so that their kids wouldn't be sad if it died) but I think they hid the bleach and moved his water bowl somewhere I don't know about. 

Last I checked, I weighed 159, a solid 19 lbs more than when I left 68 days ago (but who's counting?). I guess I need to fatten up for the winter that is now here.

I hope you all like the pictures I took. I tried to take more this week.

The garbage cans are tiny here. And the wind is making me look fat, I promise I'm not that big. Also, it's not a flattering picture.

"Building the Kingdom of God"

A carrot with 5....legs? Stalks? Whatever they're called

Freezing at the food bank

Irony I'm sent here.

More clouds...they're awesome here

Monday, November 3, 2014

Cafe Rio, subs, and missionary goggles

November 3, 2014

Today is my 2 month mark, so 1/12 done! I can't tell if it has gone by fast, even in retrospect, or if it has been slow like I've been telling myself for weeks now. But this week was good! We had a first transfer meeting, so I got to see people from my district again and see how they were doing, and I also got to watch Meet the Mormons! It was actually really good, for those of you that haven't seen it. 

Random things about this week:
We went over to help a member of our ward set up for Halloween, and he had the nicest sound equipment I have ever seen. 2 1500W subs, tons of was beautiful. He DJs in his spare time. Just had to mention that.

I was, at long last, able to go to Cafe Rio. Oh how glorious...I missed that sweet pork so much. Better than the fake real Mexican food I had in the CCM.

I have been doing pretty awesome at getting up at 6:30, and then one day during weekly planning my companion and I both fell asleep...for 2 1/2 hours of uninterrupted sleep. I think the lesson to be learned here is that God was saying "Look, if you get up on time and try to stay awake, I'll sustain you, but as soon as you decide to go to sleep, it's game over." Since then, I've been getting up on time (although that might have been from daylight savings as well as having to be inside on Halloween by 6, so I got some extra sleep there too).

I went to Buffalo Wild Wings for dinner on an exchange, and we got to talking about missionary goggles and girls. I wanted to make sure that my goggles were still off my head, so I asked him "So like our waitress is actually cute right, it's not just the goggles. She's cute right?" Before he could answer, she walked around our table from behind me with a peculiar smile on her face. So that's why you don't even talk about girls as a missionary.

I may or may not have been following the Spirit last night. We were going to visit an investigator, but she wasn't home, so then we tried to visit someone else. There lights were all off in the trailer, but I said that we should visit them anyway just to see, and also I really needed the bathroom. So we knocked on the door, someone answered, it was the wrong house, I asked to use the bathroom, and now we have a new investigator! We taught the first lesson and left a Book of Mormon, so we'll check up on him next week to see how he's doing. 

Thanks for all of the prayers and fasting in my behalf. I have definitely felt better this week, and I can't thank you enough. Sorry that I don't have any pictures of me. I'll try to do better at that. I'm not a huge fan of the selfie, so here are a few pics that I did take. Really the clouds here are just incredible.

Monday, October 27, 2014

The Emmy Award

October 27, 2014

A real Emmy award! The guy we had dinner with won it for a documentary he did the research for and directed.

I never really know how to start these things, so I'll just start listing off how this week went.

This week was a lot better than last week; kind of getting into the groove of things, the Spanish is becoming more understandable, and I can at least communicate about the gospel now in Spanish. I might have already mentioned this in a previous email, but apparently my mission is the mission with a lot of people with emotional or health concerns, like anger issues, depression, etc., which makes me wonder, "what is my problem?"

We had a stake conference this last week, where we heard from Richard G. Scott, David A. Bednar, Cheryl Esplin, and Craig C. Christensen. It was awesome. I heard a longer variation of the same talk by Scott for the 3rd or 4th time (pretty close to the one he gave in conference, I think), so I guess I really need to work on my prayers and receiving answers.

I learned to never get an older Spanish lady talking unless you absolutely have to or else she'll go on for about 45 minutes out of the 50 that we had for a lesson, but it helps me understand more Spanish, so that's good.

I love service! I have never been able to say that before, but it's so true. Not only does it take hours out of the day that could be spent tracting (it's not actually that bad), but it also is a nice break to get some exercise (which I need...I might be getting fat...154.4 lbs...) and to help people with things they can't help themselves with. Our main service activities are going to an old folks home and singing hymns for an hour and doing various charity work at the food bank and a similar place, the House of Neighborly Service. 

I had my first experience tracting, and it was actually fun (though it was the first time)! We went right during the CSU game, so a lot of people weren't interested at all. One house said, "We're smoking dope and watching football, go away", another opened the door, saw us, and said not interested before we could say a word, and only a few would listen to us say more than "hey we're missionar---". In the end though, we had a good night, because we found a potential of 4 investigators! 1 we saw on his bike, and he told us to come back, and the other 3 were at the last house we visited. They were 18-22 year-olds that were drinking beer while we were trying to talk about the gospel, but I think they were still sober when we were discussing life after death, resurrection, the premortal life, etc. It was actually a really awesome lesson, just finding out what they believed and sharing our beliefs. They seemed to see the truth in what we were saying. Then they brought out the hooka full of tobacco, and it was like a scene out of Lord of the Rings with the shapes they were making with the smoke. Really hard to teach like that, but we'll go back another time when it's not so hazy.

All in all, it was a pretty good week, and I'm starting to like the Colorado weather and people. It was in the 80s this week, though today it got cold. I have a feeling the Word of Wisdom is going to be a more difficult and more frequently taught lesson, but with the Holy Ghost present, they'll feel the truth.

The nutrition information for part of the pie I ate...

Just one of the beautiful lakes around here

The masonic temple near one of our investigator's houses

Gorgeous sunset

The most glorious sight ever
(I wonder if he chose Buffalo Wild Wings or Chick-fil-A.  Kennon loves both of them!)

Have a great week!

First week in Colorado!

October 23, 2014

This week was....incredibly difficult. I lost track of how many times I thought of coming home, and not just thought about coming home, but seriously considered it. I never thought that being in the mission field would be so difficult, but really what it comes down to is me battling my selfish desires to go back to an easier life. 

Quick synopsis of everything:
My mission president is a self proclaimed zealot of the white yeah.

It also turns out that our mission is one of the more disobedient ones. Ironic how that works. I believe Gordon B. Hinckley said "if the church weren't true, the missionaries would have destroyed it a long time ago".

We don't currently have iPads in our mission, but I'm quite convinced our mission president has them and just refuses to give them to us. It might be wise on his part, since who knows what they'd actually be used for, but it's still frustrating. 

I had P-day on Thursday this week since my companion is at the temple right now. The reason I didn't go with him is because if I did, it would have counted as my "year mark temple trip"...I'm not particularly fond of that ruling. My P-day will almost always be on Monday, and every time I get transferred to a new area I can email that Wednesday.

We've actually had a lot of success this week, thanks to my so called greenie fire (that's not what I think it is, but my companion is giving me the credit).. I insist that I actually would rather sleep than go out and try to understand what the heck is going on in Spanish, but my comp says it's my burning, greenie fire. We've added about 5 or 7 investigators this week, and so far I haven't had to go knock doors because we've had enough appointments.

Cool thing about everyone having the light of Christ and foreknowledge of the gospel: one of our investigators, a 17 year old girl that has relatively little Bible or scriptural knowledge and doesn't know hardly anything about our church asked us, "How did God become God?". Not "why is God God", but "how did God become God". I was amazed that she had even thought of that question. It's kind of hard to answer that in a first lesson, though.  Also in another lesson with her, I'm 95% sure that a certain legalized drug was being used just in the other room of the trailer, the smell wafting around us as we are trying to teach about the Savior. Good 'ol Colorado.

My companion is freakishly similar to me in some regards. He didn't particularly want to serve a mission, wanting to get married instead, he hated his mission the first little bit, he's a self proclaimed hopeless romantic, and then I got really freaked out when I found out that his birthday was also the same as mine. He keeps trying to tell me how my mission is going to go, that I'll hate it for awhile, go home for health problems, come back and love the mission, but really I'm just hoping to skip to part 3 of that and be happy. 

In summary, I'm glad to be in the US, but man has this week been hard to get over myself. I came up with the brilliant idea to carry around good scriptures in my pocket, and every time I think of wanting to go home to instead pull them out and read/memorize them. I encourage you all to try and think of ways to turn difficult times into ways to learn and progress. Hope you all have an awesome week! And I'd love it if you could keep me in your prayers. Second best option would be to send me some candy, since I don't think they sell strawberry sour belts here since there's no Winco...

If you want to send me letters or packages, my address is:
Elder Kennon Bacon
5285 McWhinney Blvd Suite 100
Loveland, CO 80538
That'll be my address for the whole 2 years, since they just forward letters to our current addresses. Also, if you send any packages, make sure it's via USPS, since that's the only company they can legally forward packages with. Thanks!

The pics: one is obviously my companion and I, another is the sunrise from the plane (the sun was on the opposite side of the plane), and the third is an aerial of somewhere over where we flew...sorry I don't have a lot of awesome pics.

PS.  Oh! I had dinner with this family called the Porters, who grew up in Orem. We got to talking, I said my grandparents are the Woolley's, and then he asked about Rebecca. I said that was my mom, and he freaked out. He went to a high school dance with my mom!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Colorado address

Kennon has arrived in Colorado and you may continue to email him, or send him a letter.  The address is:

Elder Kennon Bacon
Colorado Fort Collins Mission
5285 McWhinney Blvd., Suite 100
Loveland, CO 80538

If you happen to send a package, please send it by the US Postal Service to this same address and they will forward it to wherever he is serving.  

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Last day in Mexico

October 13, 2014

At long last...the time has come to leave the CCM. Here is how this last week went, in no particular order and with all randomness:

At one point this week, I finally hit the 150 lb mark. I know, I know...wipe those tears away and keep reading. 
It wasn't a very good moment for me when I was using my roommates toothpaste and I watched it in slow motion drop from the spot, off the counter, onto the toilet seat, pause tauntingly, and then fall into the toilet. He wasn't too thrilled with me.

One Wednesday this week, when the new missionaries come in, we acted like we were new, gringo accent, first day orientation papers and all. My companion acted like he was from Loch's Cove, Scotland (invented by me), with his pretty good Scottish accent. Everyone kept talking about that new kid from Scotland. Then we felt bad when one kid was bearing his testimony about how hard but amazing this place is ,how we can do it, tears virtually in his eyes. We decided not to tell him the truth, but I don't know how he reacted when he saw our district in the video for those leaving. 

I would like everyone to know to never, ever give up. Elder Enfield, who started losing Rock Paper Scissors 15-3, came back and won 39-38. As his coach, it was one of my proudest moments ever.

Another miracle this week involving Elder Enfield was when we had a devotional. Elder Azzarella had fallen asleep, 5 or so seats down and the next row up. We started throwing candy wrappers at him to wake him up, and Enfield hit him. Azzarella woke up instantly, turned around in anger and punched my companion who was sitting behind him, while we hid behind two hermanas and hid our laughter. Then Azzarella signaled to us that the wrapper was still in his ear. It was the greatest shot ever, and I witnessed it with my own eyes.  I can't blame Azzarella too harshly for falling asleep, though, since that was the day we literally had 8 hours and 45 minutes of meetings.

Today I did my laundry, and while it was still warm, I wrapped it around my body. It was almost like being loved. Then I realized I wouldn't be hugged by a female for two years and a tear slowly rolled down my face. That was almost as sad though as when I found the toilet paper and wipes I had hidden, waiting for a time when I would really need them, only to realize that that time had long past. I don't even know how I'll recover from this one.

I met Katy Perry in the CCM! I got a picture of her too. I think she's going to Provo for her mission, so say hi for me.

The three eternal questions here have been: where is my companion? where is my pen? and what is this so called food that I am eating?

Now for something spiritual. The one thing that I have learned the most here is how flawed I am. It was frightening for me. I thought before I left that I was a pretty good person, not perfect, but pretty dang good. Now I'm realizing how truly far I have left to go. The Christlike characteristics I thought I possessed I realized I only displayed when I wanted to get something in return. Thankfully, there is an Atonement that allows us to grow and change who we fundamentally are or have been. I guess it's a good thing that I have two years and the rest of eternity to work on that. Oh, and this isn't a plea for emails telling me how great I am. 

I'll be sure to tell you all about my area and companion and all of that as soon as I can! I hope you like the pics! Sorry that I don't have a lot, but I'll try to find more good ones.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Families are forever, and bears and boars and such

October 7, 2014

I cannot put into words how excited I am to leave this place in 7 days. I don't remember the premortal life, but there's no way I was more happy to receive a body and experience life than to leave this place. Ok, probably not really, but I am so excited for los Estados Unidos. Once again, I have a parable for you all concerning the food and the bathrooms here. This one was told to us by a missionary who for some reason was reading in Jeremiah (like, who reads the Old Testament anyway?) and thought of his girlfriend's complaining (who is in my district). If you can all handle it...:
Jeremiah 4:19-21

And once again for this week, I have to tell you the latest of our attempts to have fun in the Spiritual Prison known as the MTC/CCM. This week we all decided to sabotage each other's hopes and dreams of being able to walk anywhere without fear of having your nametag shot off your pocket, into the air, and landing into the hand of the assailant. The other thing that is somehow worse than the constant fear of physical attack is constant fear of emotional trauma. Certain individuals think it's hilarious to write up a super mushy love letter to an hermana that someone has casually mentioned looks not too bad, add their email to the bottom, and deliver "at the request of the sender". Either that or just a lame pick up line with someone's email on it. I don't even want to know how many girls there are, probably some of them very sweet spirits indeed, that have my email now. It was some pretty perfect poetic justice when I convinced an elder to deliver one to a girl that had his own email on it thinking it was someone else's. I can only imagine the look on her face as she opened it and read his nametag along with the terrible pick up line, with him beaming down at her with his own perceived mischievousness. 

There are some days that I really just hate Spanish and the complexity of language in general, but then I had a humbling experience. One of the teachers asked what to bear a testimony means. I said bear is to share, but past tense of bear is bore, not beared. There is also a bear that's an animal. And a boar. Then I realized that the story doesn't end there. There is to bear a testimony, a grizzly bear, to bear a burden, to bear down for something, to have bare skin,  to have borne a testimony, to have borne a child, a boar, to bore a hole, to bore regarding interest, to be bored, to be a wooden or similar board, and to be aboard a ship. So, English sucks. But pause and think about how unbearable English would be without puns, like about bears and boars and such. 

And now for the spiritual part of my letter. This week I got to play the investigator for our demonstrate teaching part. I played Chris Williams (if he weren't Mormon). There's a Mormon Message about him, and it is well worth the time to go watch. His car was hit by a drunk driver that killed his pregnant wife, his only daughter, and one of his sons. And he forgave him. Somehow, through the Atonement of Christ, he was able to forgive him. So I was playing him, about a month after the accident, if I didn't know about the Plan of Salvation. At the end, the teachers asked me to pray, sincerely and truly, and ask if what they taught was true. As I started to pray (as Chris Williams), I thought about my own family and how we would be without the Plan of Salvation. I prayed for the Lord to comfort me and my family acting as Chris Williams, but what I thought of was comforting my shattered mother and father who didn't think they'd ever see their son again. I thought of my siblings that wouldn't know 14 years isn't the end. I thought of how completely obliterated we all would feel not knowing our loved ones would be seen again. As I prayed about wanting so desperately to be able to comfort my family, I started crying a bit, to use some litotes. It's always fun to be the only one that feels the Spirit via tears, but it's alright. I want to bear my testimony of life after death. I have absolutely no doubt that there is life after death, and I believe with all my heart that we can live with our family members after this life.

Two final, mostly unrelated things, and I apologize that this, like always, is so long. First, Chris says in the video that he's grateful for trials, not because they're easy or because we want them, but because they help us love. Christ had the most trials, so Christ is capable of loving the most, infinitely so. Second, we were watching a video about the building of the Salt Lake Temple, and something really stood out to me. Our church has gotten a lot of criticism about how we do work for the dead, but in the video the prophet said "anyone that accepts the Atonement of Jesus Christ accepts the reality of vicarious work toward the salvation of others". How true that is! 

I hope you all have a good week! I'll be on again on Saturday evening since I leave early Tuesday morning (like 2 AM, it'll be brutal) as well as sometime Monday. Until then, here are some more pics! I forgot to mention we went to the temple visitor's center last Tuesday, so here are some pics. 

Of course, I had to include some graffiti and a catholic church (cathedral?) with a cop nearby, and some random square trees here in the CCM.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Bible stories: Eutychus and the drunk ones...

September 30, 2014

 Another week down! This is definitely the first week that I can say has gone by somewhat quickly. I'm going to try and keep this as short yet insightful as possible. 
     We thought (yet again) that we had figured out the sound of shots in the air, but it turns out we were wrong. Someone said there is a prison nearby here, and we thought that the gunshot sounds were the police firing shotguns into the air to calm the prisoners down. Then we'd make jokes when lots of shots would go off like "someone stole the last ice cream!" and stuff. But it turns out our teacher said that they are just homemade fireworks celebrating the days of Saints and stuff. A little anticlimactic, but still cool since they're homemade with gunpowder and stuff. 
     My terrible Spanish story of the week is when I was telling our investigator that we were going to share a scripture in the book of the drunk ones. Ebrios is the adjective drunk, Hebreos is Hebrews...So don't make that mistake. 
     Not only is my Spanish bad, my English is now getting worse too. It took me probably 3 minutes to remember "the word that starts with I and means something is going to happen no matter what". It's inevitable, by the way. Hopefully my mind will start thinking in Spanish soon.
     For some reason, there is a rule here that suit jackets are supposed to be worn in all meetings and for the duration of the meeting, even if, say, we have 600 missionaries packed into an auditorium with terrible A/C and lots of people crying and being emotional, which makes our bodies warm up a lot. We are told that the prophets couldn't even fit 1/100th part of the record into the Book of Mormon, so I think it's safe to assume a similar ratio applies to the Bible. You'd think they'd have paid more attention to that part about Eutychus falling asleep while some boring speaker was going off late into the night in a warm room and then he fell off the roof and died...but that's just me. I just think if you're going to have a rather monotonous speaker, let us take off our jackets so we can be able to actually stay awake.
    Speaking of staying awake, General Conference is this weekend. I'm totally kidding, I'm so excited. I can't wait to hear exactly what I need from prophets of the Lord. I'd love it if you could all send me the GC memes when they start coming out!

    At the devotional on Sunday, we heard an unreal rendition of If You Could Hie To Kolob, my favorite hymn, followed by an awesome talk by Elder Bednar. I can't really put it all into this email, but I'll try to another time. Long story short, he has a Book of Mormon for the major questions he's had in life just devoted to answering that question, and he has around 400 copies now marked up with revelation. Also, the characteristics of Christ summed up is that when we would turn in and follow the natural man, Christ would turn out and serve. Look for examples all throughout the scriptures. 

     I saw a picture in our building that I've somehow never noticed before. At first I just thought it was another pictures of some Nephites/Lamanites (because what good is a Nephite/Lamanite picture without a weapon!?), but then I realized what I was looking at. I was seeing 2 very young, teenage boys being embraced by their loving mother right before they went off to kill their fellow men in defense of their families. They were the stripling warriors. I've always imagined that they were like massive, Samoan men that were "18 years old", but this put it in perspective for me. We're told that some of them were very (exceedingly?) young. Consider 14 as a possibility. We're also told they ALL were wounded, and not just cuts or scrapes, in my opinion, but possibly lost limbs. All were wounded, but none were killed. Like them, what are we willing to sacrifice to defend and protect our eternal family against the enemy, Satan? Are we willing to give up something dear to us to show our devotion to God? Are we willing to put our trust in God, even though we may be young and the odds may be against us? Only the true and living God would trust the work of gathering lost souls to a bunch of 18 and 19 year old men and women. Who else would have the confidence to send teenagers out in twos? It really strengthened my testimony.
   OK, this is actually really long. I'm, sorry. I try to make it entertaining but also spiritual. Stay true to what you know, and I'll talk to you all next week! Here are some more pics for you all!

This picture is just too funny not to send.

Let's just say the reason they make plungers like that is because they
need to.