Monday, December 29, 2014

Email Update: 12/29/2014

Dear Urvurone,
 
First, thank everyone so much for all of the letters, greetings, packages, and other awesomeness for Christmas!! Seriously, I wasn't expecting much of anything, and it was a fantastic surprise to be proved wrong. 
 
As for the stories, last Monday was quite interesting. We finished off with regular P-Day stuff, we went over to help Doug and Mickey Sweat move some furniture from their house to a friend of theirs in Ontario, Oregon. When we got there, all three of the household were standing around their car, with depressed looks on their face. When we got out to see what the problem was, they had been trying to start the thing for around an hour, and it would turn over and start for a little bit, then sputter and die. We spent the rest of the day trying to get it working, first replacing the fuel pump, and with no change there, we spent another half hour trying to find the problem. By the end of it, I learned several new things. Most important thing I learned? The sound that a car makes when it starts after around 3 hours or so of work, is a beautiful noise.
 
The week before was a lot of blur, with the biggest part of it (that I can remember) being Zone Conference for Christmas. It was a really good one. There wasn't a lot of talking in it, which was unusual, but there was a lot of musical numbers that were fantastic, things like Silent night, We Three Kings, and a really great number by Sister Lyman in Latin. Sadly, I can't remember the name of that song, but she was singing opera to an audience that should have appreciated it more---and they would have given a standing ovation if it was allowed. There was also a couple of great movies that they showed us, "the Last Leaf," and, "Mr. Krugar's Christmas" (that one was a repeat from last year). The other crazy part of that meeting was the White Elephant Gift exchange. I'll admit, I was kind of sad; one of the Elders had brought a typewriter for their gift, and I really wanted it, but he was at a different table. What I got instead (thank you for being in an all Sisters district) was a bottle of lotion, hair spray, and a pink shower cap. At least the hairspray has been useful... I am glad that I got something, and that we had a lot of fun. (p.s. everyone at the table said that my gift was the best. I brought a t shirt with a picture of Bruce Lee, that said "Fear is for Others." =P)
 
Christmas Eve was really fun as well. We got to go and help at the Whither's Dairy, where they have a Christmas Eve tradition to give all of the animals new straw to sleep on. I decided that, while it wasn't the worst job I could think of, I will not be going into it as a profession. We did have some amazing food there as well, including, but not limited to, NussEcken, Lindor Truffles, Pie, turkey, cucumber salad, Pretzel "salad," and deviled eggs. Later in the evening, a very skinny Santa came to visit all of the kids, and then we went over to his house, where the Farmers had a full Christmas Program for the evening.
 
Now for the last few days. There were not a lot of people home for the holidays, but we were able to catch several of the people that we had been trying to for a while. One family, the Rice's, actually had a daughter come home from her mission for the holidays, because of a recovery that she needed to make. Her dad is not a member, so, that must have been really cool for him especially, along with everyone else. We had a really good lesson on the Atonement with them, and recommitted him to read some of the chapters of Alma that we had left before. We also were able to catch the Fudder family, for a kind of painful reason. Brother Fudder had been riding their new four wheeler, and hit a huge bump in the ground. His handle bars swung around and clocked him in his gut, breaking off the throttle trigger in the process. He's doing alright, but wasn't able to make it to church this week because of it.
 
That is about all of the cool stories for now. Thank you all again for everything that you do!
 
Love, Elder Stuver

Monday, December 22, 2014

Email Update: 12/22/2014

Dear Everyone,

Thank you for everything you all have sent! Yes, I did get the package, and Elder Riley made sure that i didn't see anything in there when he separated the wrapped from the unwrapped; he insists that i don't see anything until Christmas. I guess i can understand that, but i still want to know what was unwrapped in the box that he needed to hide from me...

Anyways, this week has been hectic, but at the same time really slow. We had a bunch of meetings, including Zone Conference, a lunch with President Cannon, Stake Missionary Correlation, and of course all of the early morning Sunday meetings. Zone Conference was on Wednesday, and went from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. It was long. It was really good even so, but long meetings are always harder. I do have to brag just a little though; this was one of the few Zone Conferences that i DIDN'T fall asleep in the last section (though it was a close call)! I still am having trouble with that, even a year and a half into the mission, and it's really bugging me. Oh well, we all have our struggles.

I'm still not sure when we will be skyping, but i'll try for around 12:00 to 1:00, when ever that works best for the family that we are going to do it at. As for us, i don't think that we will be sleeping in very much this year. Sometimes i wish, but for some reason it never happens. I wonder why that is...

I think that i'll leave it at that for now (though i apologize to the other people who may read these things), so that i have something to talk about Thursday.

Merry Christmas!!!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Email Update: 12/15/2014

Dear Everyone,

To answer Jeff's question, as far as i know, i'm still going to be a mortician. At least, that's what i keep telling everyone---and getting funny reactions every time that i do. It just may take me a bit longer to head up, because i'm going to need to make some money to pay for collage, a truck, and an RV trailer to live in. However, i don't think that i'm going to be compressing anyone into diamonds any time soon.

As for the fire, it was intentionally set. The firefighters had to go in multiple times, and they estimate that a few thousand gallons of water went into just trying to save the tree next to the house. They did everything, tearing off pieces of the roof, spraying from all sides, and they even had all three of the fire trucks in the Fruitland Fire Department there to help. In the end, the fire burned the house to the foundations, and was still smoldering three days later.

I guess it was a good thing that it was a training exercise, planned a few months in advance.

We had been told about the fire two weeks before, by one of the Elders' Quorum presidents that we work with, who is a volunteer firefighter. Apparently, a lady owned three houses side by side, and she donated that one to the department for training. They spent the whole first day setting the fires, and having the fighters go in and just practice zig-zagging across the flames as they ran up the walls and ceilings, then letting another group in to do the same things. They put that fire out at around 10:30 that morning, and then came back the next day and set the whole place ablaze. The coolest part for me, was that another one of the firefighters is an investigator of ours, that we had been trying to get a hold of for a long time, and since all of the fighters needed to be there for the training, it was a great time to catch him on the last day, when everyone was just watching it burn. we had a goo talk with him, and the family (the Copelands) ended up coming to both of the Ward Christmas parties that we covered. 

The cool thing for this week was Sunday morning. We have been working with Doug and Mickey's friend, Rose, for as long as i have been here, and she has been slowly warming up to the both of us. She is Methodist, and has had some struggles in the past that have given her pretty severe anxiety, so she does not like big crowds. Saturday, Elder Riley asked the Sweats if Rose was coming to church, and they said that they weren't sure---then yelled, "Hey Rose! You comin ta church!?"

She said that she had already been to a Mormon church, and Elder Riley asked if she would be willing to come to ours. She thought for a moment, and then nodded. That night, when we were saying our prayers, I asked that she would want to come the next morning. Sure enough, 5 minutes after Sacrament started, they all walk in, along with another non-member friend of theirs named Donny. It goes to show, that as long as you do your part, and ask in faith, you'll get an answer.

I'm not sure when i'll be calling home, we still need to set up a time with a family in order to find out. I'll let you know as soon as possible.

I think that is about it for this week. Thanks for always giving me something to read; it makes me feel good! ;)

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, December 8, 2014

Email Update: 12/8/2014

Dear Everyone,

I hope people start feeling better; it's especially annoying when you are expecting a less active family to come to church, and they can't because they are so sick, they slept right through their alarm. They made it this week, though, which was really cool. Doug and Mickey (the less-active family said above) had us over to help set up Christmas decorations on Friday, and Elder Riley ended up getting them a blow-up Santa Yoda, with his light saber drawn. We then went over to Doug's and drank Sparkling Red Grape juice as an early Merry Christmas, just in case either of us got transferred, which neither one of us did. That was probably the most fun for this week, even though we did do quite a lot of work. It was great to talk about Christmas traditions, why we celebrate Christmas, and how they all were doing with working to change.

On a more painful note, Elder Riley and i have been going to a chiropractor for the past little while, because Elder Riley managed to bulge two discs a while back, and finally decided to do something about his lower back pain. Brother Lindsey does our adjustment for free, which is awesome for my back, which has previously decided that it prefers the vertebrae in the very middle of my back to poke out an extra inch. However, according to Brother Lindsey, we are both doing better. As a side story to that, Brother Lindsey uses muscle testing for a lot of his diagnostics, and it was really funny to watch Elder Riley the first time that he did it to him. When his arm went down even though he was pushing as hard as he could (and Elder Riley is not a small guy), his eyes widened, and he looked at me with a startled grin. I had to laugh at him a bit.

Something that has been really cool, is that i have had the chance to interview 3 different 9-11 year-olds for baptism in the past two weeks. Even though the first one was really nerve wracking before it got started, they all turned out really great, and i've always liked seeing younger kids make the choice to be baptized, knowing what it involves, of their own volition. It really shows that this gospel isn't one that is just for adults, nor is it one that can only be understood by adults. In the interviews that i have bee a part of, i have heard some pretty awesome answers to some of the questions, that i really never expected to hear. Above all, it was a great reminder that anyone can feel the Holy Ghost, and use the Atonement of Christ to learn and to grow, and to change for the better. 

As for the "He is the Gift" initiative, it's been really cool so far. This week, we were able to talk to a lady that was crocheting a rug, and i talked about how Mom and Grandma taught me how to do a basic chain, and tried to teach me how to do more, but i never really got it down. Then we talked about different Christmas traditions, including some of the gifts that had been crocheted. That led well into talking about He is the Gift, and offering her a pass-along card. She didn't accept it, but it was really cool none the less. We also had a chance yesterday to teach the combined Young Women's class in 4th ward, on the value of He is the Gift, and how we can use it to full advantage. We had one young woman come up to us and ask for our number, so that she could get the address for one of her friends, and send us over to teach. So far, that is all of the real success that we have had, but everyone is getting excited about it, so things should be picking up really quickly.

Well, that's the major news for this week. Thank you for all that you do, and for all of the prayers that you say.

Love, Elder Stuver


Christmas tree for early Christmas celebration 
Sushi

Monday, December 1, 2014

Email Update: 12/1/2014--Happy Thanksgiving

Dear Everyone,

We had an interesting Thanksgiving this year. We ate at our Ward Mission Leader's house, which was awesome. The strange part was that they had invited another family of 5 or 6 to join us, and everyone had been planning on them being there, including (supposedly) the family itself. However, it stuck to the cliche that a plan will last until the first move is made. Our WML cooked up two whole turkeys (one smoked and one deep fried), along with double batches of everything else, including stuffing, jello salad, rolls, pie, and the like. Long story short, Elder Riley ended up with a whole ton of leftovers.

The other cool thing that happened this week has to do with the He Is The Gift initiative. We have been able to hand out a lot of the pass-along cards that go with it, and watch the video with several of the members who had us over for dinner. Every time i watch the video, i am surprised at how powerful such a short video can be. It really doesn't speak a lot, but it says a ton. One of the chances we had to hand out a card was in a very unexpected situation. We were driving back to our house after church yesterday, and Elder Riley says, out of the blue, "What the heck!?"

I look out the window, and driving the other way is a green sedan---with its hood flipped all the way against the windshield. We turned around, and went to go see how bad it was. After they had pulled over and the hood had fallen back down, hundreds of cracks and hairline fractures could be found all over the windshield, and the hood was completely concave, to match the shape of the windshield. We pulled over, and Elder Riley went to check and see just how bad it was for the engine itself. According to the two young women in the car, their dad had just changed all of the fluids in the car that morning, so Elder Riley thinks that he may have left the hood unlatched after the dad finished. We got to talk to them for just a little bit, and we left the card with our number on it, with a request to call us if they ever needed anything. We also told them about the video and the He is the Gift website, and they said that they would look it up when they could. Nothing miracle-ish, but cool none the less.

That mostly sums up this week, thank you so much for everything that you do.

Love, Elder Stuver

Friday, November 28, 2014

11/28/2014: Challenge Email

There is a new thing that the church has put together for this month, that they have spent a lot of time and money on for it to work---going so far as to rent a billboard in Times Square from today until January 1st, and buying the masthead space on YouTube for all of December 7th. This program is called He is the Gift, and you should be getting some stuff in the Ensign that talks about it. What i'm asking is that you go to this website, christmas.mormon.org, take a look at everything there, and start posting things on Facebook from it. I would, but we have not been given permission to use facebook for this project. It's really cool, and i can see this being huge for the world to see how much we focus on Christ this time of year. So, that's my challenge. Get on the website, and post the things that stick out.

With love, Elder Stuver

Monday, November 24, 2014

Email Update: 11/24/2014

Dear Everyone,

Congrats, Jeff! It's cool to see that the drama department seems to be trusting you a lot more. I hope that you enjoy your new toy. ;-)

Speaking of toys, you probably wont need to get me much, if anything, for Christmas (though i would never say no...). You see, i slipped a bit when it came to spending. I'd been doing really well, if i do say so myself, and last month i'm pretty sure i didn't use my home card at all, but this month, due to several bonehead moves that ended with pants and a sledgehammer head needing to be replaced, along with needing boots that were a bit dressier, to wear to church with the snow (the other boots still work for service, just are too beat up to wear to church), i used far more than i had intended. So, i would not feel bad if that was counted for my present this year. Thank you again for all of the help that you have been giving in that department.

Anyways, on to the important stuff. 

This week was actually really cool. We had been struggling a little bit getting the lessons that we'd been hoping for at the end of each week, so we decided to set a new style of goal and see if that would work; we would work to get three lessons every day. That doesn't really sound like a lot, but the Standard of Excellence (or the goal that we should be hitting every week, coming down from the Mission President) is 20 lessons each week, and we would be getting 21. However, 3 a day sounds a lot more achievable than 20. Turns out, we were right. By working to get at least three lessons a day, we were able to get 25 lessons this last week, nearly doubling the number from the week before. More than that though, are the lessons themselves. Because it was "just" 3 a day, we were able to focus more time into each lesson that we did, making the lesson itself better. 

One example is a lesson that we had on Friday night, with a man named Shawn. We went over and I got to know him---the missionaries had bee visiting his family for a while before i got there. He had ahd a dream to be a police officer since he was in High School, when he met a recruiting officer in one of the job fairs that they set up. Shawn told us that there were a lot of different traits that he like in this officer; he could hold up in a fight, but didn't really like to if he didn't have to. He really cared about the kids that he was working with, and the people that he was working to protect. He worked really hard to keep the oath that he had made when he was sworn in as an officer, to protect and serve the people in his community. The awesome thing is, those traits are very similar to a certain Captain that is taught about in the book of Alma, named Moroni. I was able to read Alma 48:11-13 and 17, and show him how Captain Moroni was a perfect example of the things that Shawn saw in that recruiting officer so long ago, and challenged him to read Alma 43 and 44 to learn more about this man that he was already so much like. He agreed to do so, and he made it to church this Sunday! It was really cool to see the scriptures that i love so much, mean just as much to someone else.

As for service, we have still been doing a ton of it. In fact, one day we would have done a ton more---if i hadn't missed the splitting wedge with the head of the hammer, and caught it with the handle instead. The handle split right down from the head of the hammer for about 8 inches. I was very displeased with myself. We spent the rest of the next 2 hours working to get the handle replaced, which turned out to be a lot more complex than it would appear. We found a handle that looked like it would slide right onto the head fairly quickly, so that wasn't too hard. However, it took almost ten minutes of drilling out the old wood in order to get the busted handle off. It was further complicated by the metal wedge that was used to press the wood solidly into the head of the hammer, holding it tight. The man who was helping us had expected it to made of wood, and the first drill bit was too wide to get into the space effectively. After we managed to get the old handle off, we went to put the new handle on---only to find out that it wasn't shaped quite small enough to get into the hole. So, we went to the local shop teacher for the High school, who was a member, and was nice enough to help us out. It took the rest of an hour and a half to sand and file it down to where it would actually go into the head of the hammer. I now know how to replace a handle on an ax or hammer. I hope i never have to do it again.

The last thing that i'm going to write about is the week's Zone Conference. I have to say, i really love this one, for one really major reason; it was largely on Captain Moroni, and the trait that i find most admirable in almost all of my personal heroes---he was fearless. That has always been something that i loved to see, and didn't really see in me. Now, i just hope that i can have just a bit more of that attribute in my life. I'm really glad that that got to be what we were talking about this last conference.

I think that that will do for this week's letter. Thank you so much for everything that you do for me.

Love, Elder Stuver

Monday, November 17, 2014

Email Update 11/17/2014

Dear Everyone,

Sounds like a pretty interesting week for you guys. Tell Bishop i'll see if i can't track his brother down, and everyone else that i say hi.

This week did get cold for us, which was a little annoying, because we still have a bit to do with burning weeds---which is not going to happen, due to snow. I think that we are going to get a tractor out there and just drag the rest of it. Our service now is of a much more menial nature; we shoveled at least 9 driveways the day after it snowed. One of them was absolutely huge, and it took us a long time to do it. It was kind of fun, though; we had a lot of snowball fights with the kids of some of the people that we helped. 

One really cool thing that happened this week was one of the dinner appointments that we had. We went over to a family named the Durands, and had spaghetti (we have a lot of spaghetti...). She is a less active member, who comes off and on, and he is a nonmember, who has apparently met with the missionaries a lot in the past. He says that he really enjoys having them come over, and that we can come over for dinner whenever we want, though he did also say that he would rather not be pushed when it comes to the church. In his words, "I'll join when i'm ready to." I feel like, though it may be a while off, he will eventually make that choice.

Speaking of Bro Durand, I kind of made a geographical mix-up talking to him. I heard him say that he was from New York, and i was excited to finally have someone that knew city life to talk to (not that there aren't more people that do, they just don't like it all that much). So, i said that i was glad that there was finally someone from a city that i could talk to. However, immediately after i made the comment, the rest of what he said made it through to my brain; he said that he was from upstate New York, not the city. Upstate New York might as well be Idaho without the potatoes. So, they all started laughing at me, and i did too.

Something that has been kind of nagging at me on a non, missionary basis now. Over the past couple of weeks, i have been thinking about after my mission, and what i will need to be doing in order to make everything work. The problem is, after i did all of the math that i could, school is going to cost me around $25,000, and i'm going to need to figure out a place to live while i am up there. Then i started thinking about food, clothes, utilities, car, gas, internet, and all of that other good stuff, and i'm honestly a little worried. It's really just like before i went on my mission; i really have very little desire to grow up. The difference between then and now is that i know that i have to, so now  i'm just trying to get everything figured out. Something that Elder Riley suggested was that i find a decent pickup truck, and a smaller RV trailer, and live out of that until i can find something more stable. I'm thinking about it, but i keep trying to think of where i am going to get any cash to do, well, anything to live in. It's a little frustrating, especially when i think that i still have 8-ish months left before i can really do anything about it, before i even should do anything about it. I just hope that it'll work out in the end, and that it might leave me alone in the meantime. 

Well, that should about do it for this letter. Thank you for everything that you do, and for all of the love that you show me.

Love, Elder Stuver

Monday, November 10, 2014

Email Update: 11/10/2014

Dear Everyone,

Wow. Sounds like the Harpers are having a rough go of it. Good luck Michaela!

As for me, things have been pretty interesting---well, a couple interesting things happened, anyways. We had another week of solid service, so much that we didn't even have a lot of PDay to spend doing PDay stuff. It was super fun, because on Saturday, i got to play with fire! We spent the day burning weeds---with a flamethrower attached to a propane tank that had to be pulled by a trailer. Actually, Elder Riley did most of the burning, because he's had a bit more experience with burners of that size. I did get to torch a 20 foot square section, though. I had fun. The weeds are gone now.

Later in the week, we got to deliver a bunch more wood, and then we spent some time talking to the family there. They are named the sweats, and they just recently started going back to church on a regular basis. They also took in a lady that was in a pretty bad situation, but now they are all doing really well---and they really appreciated the wood we brought over. It turns out that they are from Fruitland, Utah originally; and they now live in Fruitland, Idaho---on Utah street. (They say that Fruitland, Utah is somewhere by Vernal and Strawberry area. Just for some geographical reference). After we finished with a lesson, he lets us go into a room nearby their kitchen (after we had washed our hands), where a particular creature lives. We got to meet and hold a 19 foot albino Burmese Python, named Sissy. For Uncle Brannon's benefit, she is a natural albino, rather than a synthetic breed. It was awesome. I think that holding that snake for the ten minutes that i got to while we talked a bit more, swept out any anxiety i had earlier in the entire week. I wanna go back...

Anyways, this week was Stake Conference, and there were a few cool things in the announcements. First, a few of the young men that i had worked with back in the New Plymouth days have been ordained as Elders, and have received their mission calls! One is actually going to the same mission as one of the sisters in my district is from (her name is Sister Tomas). Her mother is a non member, and Sister Tomas is serving in New Plymouth, so a few of the people in New Plymouth are saying that he will go and baptize her mom. I hope so, because it would be awesome for Sister Tomas to get to see that in her family. The other cool announcement has to do with Stake conference itself. Starting next year, there will be a general authority at every stake conference, and every other year there will be a broadcast from Salt Lake, that will not be a part of the other sessions of stake conference. In other words, every two years we will have 4 hours of church for stake conference. It will be like another general conference all over again!! I actually pretty excited, mostly because of the general authority news. I think that the official statement was, "a Area Seventy, Seventy, or Apostle," so it should be awesome.

Well, that's the major news coming out of Fruitland these days. Thank you for everything that you do!

Love, Elder Stuver

Nathanael holding Sissy and Bro. Sweat

Elder Riley (companion) holding Sissy and Bro. Sweat

 

Monday, November 3, 2014

Email Update: 11/3/2014

Dear Everyone,

Well, it sounds like you guys had a fairly exciting week after all. Tell Wendell that i know how he feels; I did gain 50 lbs in New Plymouth the first time. And as for Trent, tell him that he is a lucky son-of-a-gun.

So far, the transfer has been pretty awesome, all things considered. I have had the chance to see a couple of the people that i'd met in New Plymouth over a year ago, including a lady named Dorothy that used to work at the Senior Center where we would go for lunch on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Halloween was the usual, in at 6:30 (after a bunch of members gave us food and candy, of course).

We didn't have an enormous amount of lessons this last week, but that wasn't due to any lack of work. What happened instead, is that i have been a part of the most service packed week that i have had yet to see. I love it. I always like doing the service that we get to do out here in the country (somewhere that i still haven't had a whole lot of experience with), which tends to be a lot more exciting (and strenuous) than city work. This last week alone, we planted 48 trees, whacked half an acre of weeds, split 8 chords of wood (approximately 8 ft x 4 ft x 4 ft of wood----all times 8) in one 8 hour shot, built half a deck, sanded and stained the other half, put in a new roof, and we are going to go split another load of wood this evening. It's been a lot of work, and I've been having a lot of fun. 

Something else pretty cool along with all of that is a bit more selfish, but it also makes me happy. Today, something amazing happened; I fit into my jeans that are a 34's, when the other pairs of pants are all 36's! In other words, i am down 14 lbs from where where i started losing weight! I've been really working on it for just about a month, maybe a month and a half, and i've been feeling much better as i've been going down. Through all of this, i was kind of thinking about one thing, "Mom was right---all of what i was eating DID catch up to me." But, I've been doing awesome, and i am happy with how it's been.

Now back to some more important stuff. It has been really strange, trying to adjust to the new calling of District Leader (one that i'm still not sure i really am excited for). We did have a really cool District meeting this last week, with a lot of participation and really good responses. I think the reason for that doing well is all of the years practicing my "Drama Face," more than anything else, but it was still nice. However, calling people last night for Key Indicator reports was less than pleasant for me; I still hate the telephone. I kept stumbling over my words, blanking out on what to say, trying to do my job of helping my district, when I'm not aloud to council them, and having a set of sisters not call in until this morning. After the calls, i pulled a Mr. Provolone, and banged my head on the table a good 6 times. Then i went to bed.

All of that being said, the sisters are really cool, and fun to work with. All of them are out for the right reasons, and all of them know when to have fun, and when to be serious. That makes it much easier to try to adjust to where i need to be (even though its really really really weird not to be able to really help anyone like i'd want to.) We will just have to see how the rest of this transfer goes, and if i die of mental insanity by the end of it.

Well, that should about do it this week. Thank you for everything, as always.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, October 27, 2014

Email Update: 10/27/2014-- Transferred to District Leader

Dear Everyone,

Well, it seems like life is pretty fun for you guys right now. As for the picture, you're welcome. Oh, and "Hi, everyone!"

Life has been a little crazy for me as well, due to one significant change: I have been transferred. This transfer should be an even more interesting one than usual, because even though i've been moved, it's not really a new experience. You see, i have been sent to serve in the Fruitland Idaho area---in the same ward that i served in back in New Plymouth times. Driving through the "new" area has been like a giant shot of deja vu, and apparently (according to my new companion, Elder Riley), a lot of the people here who knew me, still remember me. So, it should be cool to get to see everyone again. I will say this though; i am sad to leave Elder Richie. It's been a great few transfers with him, and we did well together. But, i guess it's time for a change.

Speaking of change, I guess there is one thing that will be new to the area. They made me a District Leader---over a district of only Sister missionaries. That particular change wasn't expected (nor really desired), but i don't think that i have a lot to say on the matter, so might as well make the best of it. My first district meeting will be tomorrow, where we get to see just how crazy things can get when i'm "in charge." To be honest, i'd thought that i had dodged that bullet. It's already been a year and 3 months, and everyone else in my group had already been made leadership, within just a few transfers. With that in mind, i thought that i had flown low enough under the radar, that i wouldn't have to be a leader. Since the first transfer, i haven't really wanted to be one, and was glad that i had been "missed." Just goes to show that, once again, i'm not in charge of all of this. 

On the good side of things, the area looks like it's going crazy. The board the missionaries use to record people is almost full of people to go see, including 12 investigators, and 6 very recent converts. The best part is that the list was up to date, and kept track of, so that means these are the people they have actually been teaching. So, in terms of the work, i think that this next transfer is going to be an exciting one.

Either that, or i'm going to come in, and everyone will disappear. One of the two.

Well, i think that is pretty much it for this letter. Thank you for everything that you all do, and for all of the stories.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, October 20, 2014

Email Update: 10/20/2014--6 months in Nampa

Dear Everyone,

I miss rock climbing. *Sniffle* Oh and Elder Richie says that Michaela and Mario are awesome for teaching Mei-Chan how to rock climb.

This week actually had a lot happen for me as well. The first exciting thing that happened is on Tuesday, where I got to go on exchanges with my District leader. I went to his area with his companion, Elder Eliason (EEL-a-SON), and Elder Knighton came to our area with Elder Richardson. It was really fun to get to go to someone else's area for a little while; life can get a bit old when you're trapped in the same 2 mile square bit of concrete for 6 months. I got to meet a couple of the people that they are working with, named Nicholas and Lucas, who are 18 and 14, respectively. Nicholas is also autistic, and i got to see how well Elder Eliason worked under that situation. As it turns out, he did very well, and Nick seemed to understand almost all of what was taught. After that, we were able to give their mother a blessing, after she had got out of the hospital. Elder Eliason gave that, and it was a really cool blessing. The last cool thing of that day was dinner, where i think that i had spaghetti that was actually close to your's, Mom. That was cool.

Thursday was the nest fun thing that happened this week. At 1:00, i got to drive up to McCall with my old companion, Elder Painter, to help baptize Kathy, a lady that we both started to teach while we were there. Her sister had passed away when we had started teaching her, and Kathy wanted to know what Hope (Kathy's sister) was learning before she died. once she started learning, she really just soaked up what we taught---she just seemed to never stop talking. Anyways, Brother Marshall was willing to drive us both up, so we left our comps in Elder Painter's area, and drove for 4 hours. It was fun to go down that drive again, and to be able to recognize everything that we drove past. We got there a bit early for the actual baptism, so we went and introduced Brother Marshall to Nate (the mortician) and David (one of the less active people we had been working with). Both are a good kind of crazy. At 6:00, we went and got ready for the baptism. It was weird, because this would be my first time in white for a baptism, and i'm too fat for my white pants, so i had to borrow a jumpsuit that they had there. (Fortunately for me, i can't find any pictures of that...) Kathy is really crippled, so even though Elder Painter was baptizing her, i was in the font to help her stay steady. It was really cool, and something that i would love to do again if the opportunity came. I did get one picture that i sent to you, and i will try to get a few more of that.

The last thing that i want to talk about was on Sunday, where something happened that i never really thought would. There is a lady in one of the wards that we cover named Gina, who missonaries have been working with since before i got to Nampa 6 months ago. She, some investigators that we have been teaching, and another less active family that we finally got to meet a couple of weeks ago named the Gonzales family, all made it to church! I didn't think that Sister Gage would ever make it back---which is why I'm not the one who is really in charge of all of this stuff. Heavenly Father is a much better judge of character than i am.

Well, that pretty much sums it up for this week. I hope your life keeps being a good kind of busy!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, October 13, 2014

Email Update: 10/13/2014

Dear Everyone,

Jeffrey. Is 17. That. Is. Weird.

Sooooooo... He lost because he did things better? Yeah, that makes sense.

I haven't met any Lamars, at least not yet. Transfers aren't for another 2 weeks, so i don't know if it's likely that i will, either. Tell Stephanie/Roy that i say Hi!

My niece is walking, and i haven't even seen her in person yet. *Sniffle*


Anyways,  This week was pretty awesome, actually. We were able to meet with Jed and Rachel again this week, and I think that we just had the definition of a golden investigator lesson. We asked him what he felt about there being a prophet on the earth, and he proceeded to teach us about chain of authority, how the church needs people in charge using the power of God to keep everything straight, and basically our entire lesson on prophets. It was awesome. We were teaching the first discussion (second, of course. Why would we teach the first first?) and he pretty much soaked up everything that we taught, and expounded on it. He was even willing to say the prayer at the end of the lesson, in it asking for help to find out if the church is true. We are excited. The way it sounds from the bishop is that all we are really waiting for is for hem to get married, which they are already planning on doing in November. So, we should have a baptismal date set up fairly soon.

Something else pretty pretty cool happened the night before, when we had first tried to go and see Jed and Rachel. Jed wasn't there, but we saw this guy moving a U-Hail full of stuff up to the top floor apartment---by himself. So, we offered to give him a hand, and he accepted. Turns out that he and his niece had just moved out of his sister's place, and she had just left when we walked up. We were able to finish off the whole U-Haul in the next hour, and got to talk to them for another half. Their names are Carlos and Alandra, and even though we weren't able to talk much about the gospel, they did say that we would be free to stop back, as long as we could catch them. 

So, all in all, i feel like we had at least two really good experiences this week. I hope that your week is just as cool!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, October 6, 2014

Email Update: 10/6/2014

Dear Everyone,

First off, yes, I did notice the language thing with Conference, mostly because I knew about it before hand; Brother Marshall, the man who we are living with, read about it on the church news website about 2 weeks ago. It was actually pretty funny, because I had been hoping that President Uchdorf would be speaking in German from the time that he told us about it, and President Uchdorf made the comment about it in his Saturday talk. As for the rest of conference, I always love that weekend, mostly because it is pretty much a chance for the rest of the world to take a backseat, and the talks are always amazing. I think that my favorite one this time might actually be President Packer's Saturday morning talk. I know, I usually prefer President Uchdorf's, but I really loved the focus on our belief in Christ that the whole conference had, especially his talk. Even in Idaho, people seem to think that we don't know what we believe in first, and second, that even if we did, we don't believe in a Jesus Christ that gave everything for us. It's honestly been more and more frustrating, especially when people make comments that slander men that spent their lives just trying to leave a better world behind. It was great to hear such a strong and repeated testimony in who we are and what we know; That Jesus is the Christ, and that he died to help us be better than we could be alone.

Now to explain that little rant. In the past week, there has been more insults, misinformation, and slander tossed our way than almost anytime in my mission. I can now officially add the "Joseph Smith was a pedophile, a sexual prisoner" comment to the list of rumors that has been thrown my way. That one really bugged me, because we didn't even say anything that would provoke that kind of response. 

What did we say? "Hi!" ~Elder Richie

That was all we said. I mean, if we had knocked his door, tried to stop his run, or made any kind of move like that, fine. I'd be a little frustrated if someone tried to mess up my day by saying a lot of stuff that I didn't believe in. (I believe that I am displaying that frustration right now.) But just "Hi?" It's just a common courtesy! Even more than that, what do they hope to accomplish with these comments? Do they think that we will stop teaching? Do they think that we even haven't heard or heard of them before? That we don't know the history of what we believe, and the rumors that came from it? We are wearing tags that show us as representatives of an entire church, and they don't think we understand the basics of what we teach?

Well, out of all of that, one thing at least should be clear---I can rant for quite a long time over little things. Moving on.

As for some of the awesome things that happened this week, It was jam packed. Like I said in the last email, we had invited Keiran to be baptized this last Friday instead of in November, due to their family moving out on Saturday, and Keiran accepted. So, almost all of the week was spent getting ready for the baptism. Little side note on that, I did something that I never really thought that I'd do; I called the Primary President cold, invited her to the baptism, and asked her to give a talk on baptism. I think that I had a good quart of adrenaline running through my veins after the call; I don't like asking people I don't know for favors.

Anyways, we went over on Wednesday to teach the last lesson and a half to Keiran, and it was quite possibly the most simple version of the Commandments and the Laws and Ordinances lessons that I had ever been a part of teaching---and I once again am glad that I have Elder Richie as a companion (though I probably wont tell him that, due to his tendency to over exaggerate things). That man can talk, make things easy to understand, and fun to listen to, all at the same time. I don't think that the lesson would have gone very well if I had had a different companion, or if we were on splits with the Ward Missionaries. Best of all, Keiran just soaked it all up. In fact, before we started the lesson, Keiran said that he had taught his siblings the lesson that we had taught the last time we were over, the Ten Commandments, that morning. His siblings actually knew them, too! The next day, we went back and took the District Leader with us, and he gave Keiran his baptismal interview. They came back in not ten minutes later, and Elder Knighton said that he hadn't interviewed someone who understood what was taught so clearly before (though this only his first transfer as district leader, so that is understandable). Aaaand the next day was the baptism! It was one of the smoothest operations that I have been a part of, even though we didn't know if we had someone to preside for a good half an hour past the time that we were supposed to start. It was really awesome, and I could tell that Keiran understood and enjoyed it.

The other really cool thing from this week happened just last night, after the last session of conference. The bishop had signed up for us to have dinner with his family, and on Saturday, he called us to say that he was able to invite a part member family that had just moved into the ward about three weeks ago, and that they accepted. When we got there, he introduced us to the couple, Rachel and Jedidiah (I love that name), and their three daughters, Lily, Macy, and Sophie (also know by their parents as Large, Medium, and Small). The dinner went well, and after we taught the Plan of Salvation, with Elder Richie naturally showing off his drawing skills by working up a detailed "flow chart" for Jedidiah. They both listened well, and put their own insight into the discussion. They were also the ones to talk about setting up a day to come back and teach some more later this week, so I feel like we have a new family that we can work with, which is always amazing.

Wow. I think that that was one of the longer letters of my mission. Hope you all aren't bored. Have a good Life/Week!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Email Update: 9/29/2014

Dear Everyone,

It sounds like things are going really well for all of you guys, and thanks for the stamps and such. I'll make sure to use them. As for Jeffrey's play, I don't really every remembering him slowing down with what ever he did, so it's no surprise that this is the same. By the way, it may be a big place, but don't leave it, at least until after i get home; have you never seen the RM? 

And finally, "Swigs?" Yeah, it sounds very much like a teen bar.

Anyways, on to some of my life. To start things off, this week has been pretty awesome, all things considered. First, WE CAN FINALLY BREATHE. I never really know just how big of a difference that makes until it's gone. You'd think that i would remember, especially because it happens every year, but it always comes as a new surprise to me whenever it happens. So, with that awesome little development, we were able to get out a lot more this week, and we saw a whole lot more people. We even were able to find a new investigator, named McDaniels, who is a fairly recent convert's mother. She has seen everything that the Church has done for her daughter, and she is ready to see what it can do for her. She even said that she would be at church this Sunday, though that didn't end up happening due to Jessica (her daughter) having a super huge work load this week, and not wanting to come alone. We had a really great chat with her on Tuesday, and got to know who she was as a native Nampa woman. It was really fun, and I am excited to get to teach her some more.

Some other cool things that happened this week include Elder Richie getting to go to the Temple for his half-way mark, something that came with a bit of a grind on me along with the awesomeness for him. When missionaries up here go on their temple trip, their companions get paired up with each other until they get back, and i was paired up with a mini-missioneer named Elder Valle (pronounced viiiyay). He is an... interesting guy. I spent the majority of the time that we were together setting up appointments for the coming week, so i didn't end up talking to him very much, but the next few days we went and saw some of the people who he ended up teaching on splits, and the most common description was "Bible thumpy." It's an appropriate one---kinda. Elder Valle is of the opinion that the only parts of the Bible that are true are the sections that are talked about in the Book of Mormon, so he is a bit more "Mormon Thumpy" in my opinion than anything else. So, we spent a bit of the week after that doing some damage control. 

Now, that was a whole ton of not so cool stuff, so let me reiterate the cool part; Elder Richie got to go to the temple! Aaaaaaand on to some more stuff.

Possibly the coolest part of the week happened yesterday and the day before. We went back over to Keiran's house and were able to teach him most of the fourth lesson in Preach my Gospel, "The Commandments." After we finished that, we talked to him and his dad, and confirmed that they are moving out this coming Saturday, which kind of undermines the original plan we had for his baptismal date, for November 8. So, after we finished the lesson, we talked to Keiran about baptism and how important it is, and we gave him a new possible time for his baptism; this Friday. Like i have said before, the kid is as smart as a whip and twice as quick, so we really felt like he was ready for it. we talked about it for a while, and his dad texted his mom to see what her thoughts on it were. She said that, even though she would love to be there, it was entirely his choice when he was baptized. With that in mind, we (including his dad) said that this was something that he needed to think about and pray about, and that we would ask him about it tomorrow. When we got to church the nest morning, he came up to us and asked us to set up his baptismal interview; he wants it to happen here! I have to say, it's always a really cool thing to see someone younger make big decisions fully understanding what they mean, and for that choice to be entirely theirs. I mean, it almost defeats the purpose if the choice is someone else's; is supposed to be a covenant between YOU and God, not anyone else. When that is the case, everything else really lines up.

Just a quick story to finish off. We were over to teach Kelly the third lesson (the Gospel of Jesus Christ), when Elder Richie started acting really strangely. By that i mean, stranger than he usually is. He was making comments all over the board, about everything from animal sacrifice to wiener dogs (yes, those were actual topics), and having an extraordinarily hard time staying on track with the lesson. By the end of it, he had actually passed the entire lesson off to me, so that i was the only one teaching. We finished the discussion, and were getting up to leave, when he made a weird comment about all of those people who like to wear their hoodies and sweaters down around their elbows, and the he proceeded to declare that he was going to wear his backpack that way for the rest of the day, to see what it was like, and to see if he could figure out why people liked it. We said our goodbyes, and started walking away. When we were on a path nearby, out of earshot of anyone, Elder Richie leaned over to me, and said, "Dude, we need to go home. My pants are super ripped." I look over, and hidden beneath his backpack, his pants had ripped right along the seam, almost all the way from the waist band to the crotch. Apparently, right when he had sat down to the lesson, he had felt them rip, and when Kelly had looked away for a second, he put his hand down to check and make sure that yes, he hadn't imagined it. From that moment on, he was having to  try and concentrate on both the lesson, and try to think of how he was going to get out of there. Hence the whole backpack thing. 

It made my day.

Well, that pretty much sums up our week. Hope you have a good one yourself!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, September 22, 2014

Email Update: 9/22/2014

Dear Everyone,

First off, sorry that I didn't get an email off last week. The week was a little annoying, because both Elder Richie and I caught some kind of sinus thing (most likely just a cold) that was enough to keep us in for almost four days. In have officially decided something; being sick is lousy. I mean, i'll be honest, the first day off was kind of nice, but anything after that, I was starting to get really stir crazy. It felt like we weren't able to do anything for the whole reason that wee came out on a mission---to be missionaries. We frankly have it so good out in the Idaho Nampa Mission that not keeping up with what we are called to do is like spitting in the face of every member who counts on us to do our job. Being stuck inside for almost four days was almost as bad as---or worse than---the sinus thing (which managed to not let me breathe, and made me throw up. I was mad.). (By the way, how are you supposed to order that; when a parenthetical is the end of a sentence, where do you put the period? I have always been curious).

Now, on to some good news. I think that I have mentioned a lady named Kelly and a boy named Keiran in past letters. Kelly is a young single mother that we met off of a referral from the Bishop of one of the wards. She has four kids, one in Marching band, and the week before last, we taught her the 2nd discussion. In her own words, "It just makes sense." After we finished that lesson, we were able to help her commit to baptism on November 1st(though we are going to see about making it a little sooner), and Elder Richie even put together a check list for her, so that she could see the steps she has left to be ready, and can mark them off as she completes them. She seems really excited, and most importantly, and wants to do this for herself. To be honest, she brought up the whole issue of baptism all on her lonesome! I feel like she will be ready, and willing to do the things that are necessary far sooner than the 1st of November.

Now for Keiran. Bluntly, the kid is smarter than almost 90% of the adults that we work with. I mean, come on! 10 years old, and he has kept every reading assignment that we have left. He asks his own questions, sometimes without needing us to prompt him. We've had him teach us back portions of some of the lessons after we finish, and he'll teach them smoother and more simply than I ever have. His memory is so good on all of the stories that we teach from the scriptures, it's almost a blow to the ego for me to have to look some of them up. And, he also now has a baptismal date set for November 8th. The two best parts of all of this is the fact that one, his dad is willing to help him as he's learning. Patrick is a convert himself, of just a few years, so he knows a lot of what is involved with the process. He will make sure to remind Keiran of the reading, and is always encouraging him as he is learning. Second, even though his dad is helping him, everything that Keiran is doing is because Keiran wants to do it. His dad isn't pushing him into a decision. He understands what he is getting into. And he is the one making the choice. To me, nothing is more important than that, especially for someone young.

Well, that is pretty much all of the exciting things going on out here. Thanks for all of your stories, and I hope that Jeffrey and Linda are doing alright. Good luck with Taming!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, September 8, 2014

Email Update: 9/8/2014

Dear Everyone,

Sounds like things have been really relaxed without me there.

I'm not sure how i feel about that correlation...

Oh well, i guess life just needs to calm down sometimes. ;) As for me, yeah, things have been a little interesting with the new lines. Sacrament was honestly a little insane; the active member base had almost literally doubled in size, and they almost had to bless the water again. Luckily, they have a habit of blessing an emergency pitcher of water at the same time, so things went alright. The deacons were a little frazzled, though; they almost missed an entire section of the congregation. It's been crazy for us, too. The new subdivision is nearly half of the entire area of the ward, so we haven't yet been able to figure out where everything is yet. Those people that we have been able to meet have been awesome, including our new ward mission leader, Brother Beames. The first thing that we did when we met him after church yesterday, was sit down and he read what his role is as Ward Mission Leader is. The reason that matters to me is because there are a lot of WML's that I don't believe ever touch the handbook or the preach my gospel. Of course, just because others aren't helping doesn't mean that we stop what we are doing, but it certainly makes me feel better when they do. Most of the things that we talked about while we met with him centered around finding new people to teach. One of the things that we all agreed on was the fact that a lot of the members that we want to work with know that they should be doing missionary work, but they are either nervous about how their friends will react, don't know what to say when people ask questions, or just don't have the desire to do it. So, the meeting was all about brainstorming ways to address those concerns. One of the ones that i feel like will work pretty well is first trying something that we called "service tracting," where we go around the neighborhoods with tools and work clothes, and just offer service to build community relations, without trying to set up discussions to start. Another thing that Brother Beames suggested was to find six of the more common topics that people have questions about, and to write up a one minute response and a five minute response to each of those topics. Then, we are going to set up mini firesides or multi-family FHE's, where we teach each of these things to the members, so that they don't have to worry about what they are going to say, because they already have the answers that they need.

That's all of the more exciting things that happened this week. Thank you for everything that you do!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, September 1, 2014

Email Update: 9/1/2014

Dear Everyone,

Yeah nothing ever spells my name right. Don't worry about it. And thank you for the package, i love it! Sounds like Jeff is getting dragged through a grinder; hope things go well.

As for my life, nothing too spectacular, just the usual walking around, trying to find someone who isn't so jaded against us, so that they'll give us the time of day. We had a couple really good visits, though, and were even able to pick up a couple of new investigators on Tuesday. One is an 11 year old kid, and the other is his soon-to-be step mom. The lesson went really well, and we were able top commit them to start reading the Book of Mormon from the beginning. It was actually really cool; he already knew the basics of a lot of the stories that we talked about, and was willing to read during the lesson. He didn't even have too hard a time reading all of the funky names! So, we're excited on that point.

Other than that, there was just one other unusual thing that happened; one of our wards split. Well, kinda. What more happened was that it gobbled up a good half of a different ward, that happened to be the sister missionaries' area. They were sad, because that section housed their one and only investigator, their Ward mission leader, and their Relief Society President. Funny little insert, the split also sliced out the subdivision were we are living, and gave it to the other ward. Which happens to include our ward mission leader. Yeah, there was a bit of give and take.

Well, that is all of the exciting news for this week. Again, thank you for the package, it made the week.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, August 25, 2014

Email Update 8/25/2014

Dear Everyone,

First off, no, there is no story behind the "getting shot" comment. There are just a lot of churches, and therefore a lot of people, around here that don't like the Mormons very much, so it was always an adventure to knock on a door and not know the reaction that you were going to get. That, and i just don't like knocking on doors. 

As for the lady who we talked to before, we were unable to contact her, unfortunately. She might not have been home when we went by, but we aren't sure. We will just have to try again this week, and hope for the best. On a slightly happier note, we had investigators at church for the first time in months yesterday!! They were a part member family, with the Dad being a less-active member, the girlfriend being a nonmember, and one of the boys being an over aged youth (he was 11). According to the Relief Society President, the girlfriend (whose name is escaping me entirely right now) went to all three meetings, and seemed to enjoy all of them. She also was reportedly there last week, and we just didn't see her, so i'm pretty excited. According to Patrick (the dad), she is a Southern Baptist, so don't expect a convert, but she is willing to sit down and hear the discussions, which is good enough for me, seeing as that seems to be as hard to find around here as twenty dollars lying in the street. Patrick's son is also excited to start the discussions, and seems excited to be baptized, so things are looking pretty promising right now.

Well, that's really all of the exciting stuff that is happening right now, along with the fact that Brother Marshall, te member that we are living with is currently out of town in Georgia, leaving the house to us.

I'm still not sure if that was a good idea or not.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver