Weeks are going by so fast right now that it's getting hard to remember things to write! Things have normaled out a bit. The office tasks have settled to the point that now we can really see how things are in our area...not so great. Within the two weeks that we were not able to visit our investigators, things have changed drastically. Both of our baptismal dates have dropped. But more on that later. This week was kind of fun. We found time after nightly planning to do stuff. One night we spent an hour or so cleaning one of the bathrooms. It was crazy. But afterward, it was spotless. We were very proud of our work. Another night we made our own pupusas! That was my first time making pupusas. I only made 2, but I am basically a pro. They tasted good, so we were pretty proud of that too. This week we visited with some less active/inactive members. It has been so sad for me to see how their families have begun to just be complacent and apathetic. The saddest part is that they are complacent in their unhappiness. They don't realize that they can be, and deserve to be much happier then they are now. There is a member kid in the ward named José. He is 12 years old and is pretty much the only active member of his family. He is at church every week (often alone), and sometimes he brings his 3ish year old sister with him. He is a great kid. He reminds me a lot of Coleton. His personality is just that way. Dad, you said in your email that I might be in the office one more change... I doubt it. President really likes his office elders to get to be really experienced, and he often keeps them in the office for 8-10 months. There have been office elders in the past that have been in the office for 9 changes. That is over a year. I honestly don't know how long I'll be in the office, but I figure I'll be here until at least the new year. You also said that President VanCott said that net positive changes are hectic...Because I arrived at the spit of the mission, EVERY change has been a net positive change. The biggest group that has left was 5. The smallest that has arrived was 24. I wish there was a similar time in which we would need to focus on our areas like we focus on the mission during changes. We would get so much done. We would probably baptize! But I need to just find a way to give what I can when I can. For the rest of my life, I am going to have to balance work and family and all of that stuff, so it's good practice. But during that kind of work, especially in work that allows you to meet and talk to many people, much good can be done during the work day in having a positive influence on people and sharing the gospel. Here in the office, with just us 4, there isn't much room for talking to people. I'm glad you went and did stuff for Dad's birthday, even if it was just going to eat sushi with the Lum's. Any dinner with the Lum's makes for a good time. AND in the picture, I could see the Tokyo Sushi lady in the mirror. So that was a good little reminder that not TOO much has changed. And I am glad that you got to eat Wendy's for lunch. I probably need to STOP doing that. I have been gaining weight, and that just adds to my stresses. And was very impressed that you went and did a temple cleaning session from 9 to 11 at night. Not many people would do that. That kind of example makes me a proud son and fuels my "my dad could beat up your dad" mentality that I have had since I was very young. I guess in this case it would be more like my dad could beat your dad in a scripture mastery battle or in teaching a missionary discussion. The result is the same - I am a proud son. Happy Birthday Dad! I got your letter out...this morning. You'll be getting it in a week and a half-ish. So back to our investigators. We found out that one of them is a drunk. Didn't see that coming. But before we knew that we passed by to take him to church. He wasn't there. But his wife was, and we asked her to come and she just said that she needed 15 minutes to get ready. We had never met or talked to her before. But she came to church with us. Then we went by to teach them, and she answered the door crying and explained everything to us. EVERYTHING. The whole story of her life. She said that it is hard to believe that she is a daughter of God when she has asked him to change things so many times and she still has to sit inside and cry because her husband came home drunk again. So we have an appointment with them tonight. Should be kind of crazy, but she could definitely be a great investigator. With another investigator, we just did some service this week. The dad is a member, and his daughter has not been baptized. She is the investigator. And they are hoarders practically. So one day when we passed by, they were "organizing" a little bit because he got a new dresser and they needed to make space for it. So we just cleaned for 45 minutes or so. It felt good. We could at least see the floor when we left. That happened right after we had a rather frustrating encounter with the bishopric of the ward, so that helped relieve a little bit of what I am ashamed to say was anger. They don't respect us. We are full-time missionaries, and they don't have respect for us. FRUSTRATING. But this week, I found a verse in the Book of Mormon that made me see how ungrateful I am for complaining. Mosiah 25:10 says, "And again, when they thought of the immediate goodness of God, and his power in delivering Alma and his brethren out of the hands of the Lamanites and of bondage, they did raise their voices and give thanks to God." I like the phrase "the immediate goodness of God". I think a lot of times I expect certain blessings right now, and I get frustrated when there is no immediate result. But we can ALWAYS
(excuse the interruption, it just sent by itself!) We can always see the immediate goodness of God if we look for it. I need to do better in looking for the immediate goodness and waiting patiently for answers to prayers. I love you dudes. Zach, good luck in school. Study hard. Focus. Alix, same goes for you. You said you'd be at BYU when I am a senior there. Work hard now, and I'll see you there. Mom and Dad, you are awesome. I was reflecting this week talking a little bit with Elder Soza about our families and I realized that you guys are pretty much the best - the best parents, and the best friends I have had. Keep finding time to serve the Lord, whether it be on splits with the missionaries, visiting members of the ward, or just being good influences on people. I will do the same. Love you. See you in two!
P.S. - I forgot to mention the title of this letter. There is supposedly a big storm headed our way. President wants every missionary to stock up on emergency supplies and be ready for whatever happens in the next few days. Personally, I hope it is HUGE. That would be so cool...anyway, Love you. Be safe.