Wednesday, July 15, 2015

7/8/2015: Welcome Home

Here are the pictures I got at the airport. I tried to wait to post until I had collected more photos, but I haven't yet, so here's the few I got. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Email Update: 7/6/2015--see you tomorrow

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That is about how well my brain is working right now. Actual events of the week---a whole lot of going home stuff. Details on Tuesday!!!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, June 29, 2015

Email Update: 6/29/2015

Dear Everyone,

Well, if the week was slow, it still sounds pretty fun. As for being lazy, I can promise that I'll spend at least one day doing that when i get home! Probably not too much more than that, but I will take at least one day.

So, question for Dad. Just how long have I been gone?!?!?!? I thought his company's name was Tomax! What is this Demandware?!?!? 

Now that that is taken care of, I have a confession to make. I have close to zero motivation to write this week. It may have something to do with the fact that I'll be home in a little over a week, or just that I'm tired. It also could be the fact that we had another slow week, only this one capped off by starting to pack. In any case, I am having a really hard time thinking of things to write in this particular email. I'm sorry. That being said, we did have some cool things happen---they were just all dinner appointments. The meal coordinator this week was able to set up several appointments with less-active families in the ward, and every one went really well. One of them even came to church this Sunday! So, cool things do happen---it's just that so do brain farts. 

So, yeah. Sorry for this super short email. I'll try to do better next time.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, June 22, 2015

Email Update: 6/22/2015

Dear Everyone,

Wow! I guess that it's officially decided that I'll have another new family member to meet when I get home! I really like the name Miyuki, by the way, and I'm not surprised that it ended up not being the cat's name---I found it really strange that such a Japanese name would be on such an American cartoon. Most of all, congratulations, Michaela, Mario and Mei-chan!

I hope everyone had a good Fathers' Day, and let everyone included know that I say Happy Fathers' Day!! Honestly, I've felt for a long time that dads kind of get left to the side a lot, and I don't think that's right. I hope all of the dads who read this, especially mine, know that your role is huge, and without you, life is not nearly as wonderful. You are the examples in your children's lives, and there is no other man on earth that makes the same impression on a child. Even when you think we aren't, we are always watching you, trying to make you happy, and to live in a way that you would want us to. Thank you, so much, for being our dads.

As for me this week, let's say that it was interesting. Elder Twigg must have caught something at church last week, because from Monday on, he was sick as a dog. He had a fluctuating temperature, dizziness, sensitive skin, and of course, always tired. So, we ended up in the house almost the whole week. The thing is, being sick on the mission is even harder than being sick at home, because you don't have any of the usual distractions. You sit in the house all day, with nothing but your scriptures, three videos that you have seen over a hundred times, and your missionary library, which I've already finished reading (Our Search for Happiness is really good, by the way. Short, but powerful). At the same time, you have all this time, with nothing to distract you from studying the scriptures, three very spiritual videos, and a library filled with new things to learn. On top of that, time somehow managed to still fly, even when we weren't able to go out. Moral of the story? Even with something like this, the Lord still found ways to teach through the mission. I just hate hearing what sounds like my companion coughing out his lungs. 

Seriously, that's about it for this week. Not the best, but still good. Hope yours was better!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, June 15, 2015

Email Update: 6/15/2015

Dear Everyone,

Wow! It sounds like you all had a lot of fun this last week. I do have to be honest, though; I hope that I'll have a room to sleep in when I get home!!! ;)

Anyways, fj poirupetuofgfaspfgjqwoerjgpaosd fl qwjvpfoasjdflk j.

Yeah. I'm starting to get twitchy. 

As for what actually happened this week, it was really cool. We still had a little trouble finding people to teach, but those that we were able to were fantastic lessons. On Tuesday, I went to a different area, so that Elder Twigg go be on exchanges with the companion missionary. I was with an Elder Spindler, and we went to teach a 21 year-old named Josh and his younger sister, named Brittany. We had a really fun chat about different shows that we like, some comic books that he was scripting, and a lot of other things. Then, we had one of the best first lessons that I have ever been a part of teaching. We were even able top set a baptismal date in that same lesson. All he is waiting for is the testifying feeling of the Holy Ghost. 

On Thursday, We were on exchanges again, and this time I was in our area, with an Elder Lagunzad (from the Philippines). We were able to contact the grandparents of a recent convert named Bradley. He is preparing to serve a mission, and has been teaching his Grandparents the lessons from Preach My Gospel as part of his preparations. So, we were able to go in and have a really good lesson with his grandma (his grandpa had to go), where we got an idea of how much she remembered from the lessons Brad taught, and what her beliefs were right then. She told us how after Brad was baptized, she could see a kind of light around him, and she felt like she had been washed clean herself. She also told us how she felt so happy when Brad was able to be baptized for her mother, who had never been baptized while she was alive. Then she asked if it was really necessary to be baptized, and we were able to quote when Christ says "Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom..." She nodded, agreeing totally. She told us that she needed to be baptized, and we were able to set a baptismal date for July 4th. It was cool, and she is super ready. 

Those were the really cool things from this week. I hope that things keep going well for you, and that you are able to do those things that you need and want. 

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, June 8, 2015

Email Update: 6/8/2015

Dear Everyone,

Thanks for all your stories and such, and tell Michaela that she looks... different. ;-) 

Sadly, we didn't have much happen this week. We worked our tails off, it was just one of those weeks where everyone cancels, nobody lets you in their home, and everybody else is out of town. Honestly, though, I don't feel too bad about it. I know that we did everything that we could to make things happen, and we even were able to take our ward missionaries out with us contacting. We got 4 new referrals, the first 4 member referrals that I can even remember getting, and though we weren't able to contact them yet, they sound like pretty solid leads. We heard about a lot of the members starting to do more member missionary work, and there were even 2 or 3 people who bore their testimony about special experiences having to do with it, even including giving out a Book of Mormon. A ward missionary named Danielle told us about some of their neighbors who they had over for a BBQ. They are apparently very musical, specializing in the clarinet, which just so happens to be one of my comp's favorite instruments to play. Danielle told us that she would try to set up a time where we could all get together and meet, and they all could talk music and introductions. 

Really, I guess a lot did happen this week. It just wasn't the kind of things that we usually hope for. Of course, I should be used to that by now---rarely does God give us what we want. Instead, He gives us what is best for us, and will actually do more good than what we, with our narrow-minded pride, think is more important. I think that is one of the major things that i've learned so far. I hope that I can remember it, and possibly help someone else figure it out, too. It makes life a lot more pleasant, to know that Someone is helping us, often in spite of our belligerent attempts to do things our way. Good thing, too---the world would be in a lot of trouble if I always had what I wanted, even a lot of the good things.

I hope that everyone is happy, and that lives are going well. Sorry this was a shorter letter, but oh well. It happens.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, June 1, 2015

Email Update: 6/1/2015

Dear Everyone,

Wow, it sounds like a lot is happening now. of course, you kind of have to expect that when you are so close to the end of the school year. Even when you're not in school, the whole wold seems to go into a nuclear meltdown from the middle of May to the beginning of June. The same thing is happening up here with all of the members that we are working with, and it can be kind of funny to see all of the different expressions on everyone's faces. The best one are the seniors who are just graduated---they have this excited, glazed look that says, "No more school!!! ...Now what do I do with my life?" 

I've got a feeling I will have a very similar expression in about five weeks.

Moving on. This week was really good. It wasn't a particularly busy one, but we were able to see several people none the less, and i was able to meet a lot of the members that we will be working with while i'm here. Then, we met and spoke with s good number of less-active members in the area. One of them, a Brother Shiner, sounds like he would get along really well with Dad. We had a great chat with him about all of the different dynamics of Kuna, what businesses would help it expand, some work that he was able to do with the Mayor and crew in calling different companies to expand in this direction, and a lot of other stuff like it. He's a really good guy, and the reason that he told us that he doesn't come to church is because he felt that he got too involved in his callings when he was going, and it was taking him away from his wife and kids. Along with that, his wife started working more, including on Sundays, and they both decided that they didn't want the TV to turn into their babysitter. So, what we have to do is help him understand how to balance life with church a little better, and how to use the good priorities he already has to do those best things in his life. I think that it will go well, and he already said that he is going to come back to church---we just need to get it to happen sooner rather than the later he is planning on. Too much later, and the habits are too  ingrained to break free from without a lot of effort, effort that wouldn't be nearly as great sooner. 

We also got to go around visiting people with a returned missionary sister in one of our wards, a girl named Danielle. (Question to all females reading this; at what age do I more properly use the terms young woman, woman, lady, etc, as opposed to girl? I'm having a really hard time figuring that out, and I always feel weird trying to, especially with those who are around my age. Thank you for the help!!) She got back from the Baltimore mission back in January, and she's really cool. She's very personable, easy to get along with, and willing to help with whatever needs to be done. In all of the homes that we visited with her, she clicked with the families almost instantly. It's really nice to be able to have a member willing to help us like that, especially because we frankly just can't do it without the help. I can't count the number of times the simple fact that we wear a name tag has gotten doors shut to us. Having someone there, especially a sister wearing normal clothes, is much less intimidating, and we were able to get into every home that opened the door. It was a refreshing change from the usual.

The other thing that we have done a lot of is walk. We are serving in an area that is around 5 x 13 or 14 miles, which consists of a few subdivisions clustered together in one part, and the rest separated by several miles. We generally end up walking at least an hour or so between each area that we work in, which of course cuts in a bit to the number of people that we can teach. Honestly, though, I kind of like it. I like having the time to get to know my comp a bit better, and to learn the area. I've only been here a week, and I already know most of the streets and locations of the families that we work with. It's also nice to know that I'm at least getting a little bit of the exercise that I need, and that it's time that is working toward helping someone else. Now, I would definitely accept a car if one was provided, but again, it's been kind of nice. Besides, the car that would be in our area is currently being used by the sister missionaries in our district, and for good reason. Yes, their area is much smaller then ours (1 x 3 miles), but they live over 7 miles away from the edge of their own area. That makes it a little hard to work without a steady way to get back and forth. They should be moving closer soon though, so we will have to see what ends up happening from there. 

I think that pretty much is the highlights from this week. Thanks for all of your letters, and for the prayers and things that you do for all of us missionaries. They are needed, and appreciated. 

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

​P.S. Tell Kevin Boyer that I say hi! Sorry to say, I only recognize the name---I can't put a face to it. Still, always good to hear about another UCASian. ​

Monday, May 25, 2015

Email Update: 5/25/2015--Last Transfer in Kuna, ID

Dear Everyone,

It sounds like things are pretty good for all of you. My week flew by really quick, too, with nothing really happening. I guess that just kind of happens transfer week. I was transferred to Kuna, Idaho, for the last transfer of my mission, serving in the 11 and 15th wards. My new companion is named Elder Twigg, from Indiana. Things should be good, though I do have the usual new transfer jitters. The difference about this one is that, regardless of how things are, i only have six weeks of it, good or bad, so I can take whatever comes at me. In all seriousness, though, I am excited for this last transfer. I've had a lot by now, and I know that i want to make this one a good one.

As for things from this last week, we spent a good amount of time seeing some of the people that we got to know while we were together. We had a good lesson with Kodi, a pretty good one with Dan Kilmer, and we started attending the Addiction Recovery program with some of the members. I also spent a lot of time packing. I'm rather pleased with myself on that note; I was able to get all of my stuff into my two suitcases, my laundry bag, and my messenger bag. 

Now that i'm down here, we got hit by the biggest storm that I've seen in Idaho---too bad it only lasted about 5 minutes. While it was going, though, there were waterfalls off of the church. It was really cool. 

Honestly, that's about it for now. I hope things are going well for everyone, and that you have a good week!!!

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, May 18, 2015

Email Update: 5/18/2015--Last Transfer

Dear Everyone,

It sounds like things were both boring and crazy at the same time. So... normal, I guess. Congrats, Jeff!

Anyways, This was an extremely slow week. Eh, it happens, I know, but that doesn't make it any less annoying. The weird part of it was, while nothing seemed to happen, the week just kind of disappeared, and it's Monday again. Now, I'm staring down the barrel of my final transfer on my mission, and the only thing that I can think of is, "What's gonna happen now?" 
The main thing that I hope for this last little bit of my mission is that I stick to the things that I've learned, and possibly help someone else learn something good for them, too. The thing that I'm concerned about is not being able to focus, because of shear lack of time (not sure if I used the right "shear" there, but you get my point). I've now seen quite a lot of missionaries come and go, both for the sisters, and the whole range of experiences that they all have. They really do range, but the main focus that I have seen is that some go home with an attitude of "What do I do now? I'm not on a mission anymore..." while others are of the "I'm so glad that's over" category. I think I'll probably sit somewhere in the middle of those two. Can't say for sure, though; we'll just have to wait and see.

There was one really cool thing from this week to share. This last weekend was Stake Conference, and it was a really good one. There was an member of the 70 there speaking, and for the Saturday eveningsession, he called up several families that ranged from new converts to reactivated members, and asked them about their conversion stories. It was really cool to hear the different, but very similar tales. They all had different experiences, but they all had amazing support from friends, neighbors, and other members as they learned. It was another stark reminder of how little the missionary actually does, and how much the friends and family around the individual does, conversely. Most of all, it was a reminder of how the Spirit is the one who teaches, not the two kids in white shirts. We are more like the hose that the water rushes through, then the water itself. It's a good thing, too; a trickle is all I could be, and that just doesn't cut it. The Spirit always touches the heart of those who are ready, and almost in spite of the missionaries, things will work out. It was a really comforting reminder that I'm not alone in this effort, and that my short comings will be made up for in the people who I care about live's. (Grammar... Not my strong suit.)

Well, I think that will do it for this letter. Thank you for everything, and have a fantastic week!

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, May 11, 2015

Email Update: 5/11/2015

Dear Everyone,

I hope everyone had a good Mothers' Day, and let everyone know that I say hi back!

I don't have much new to say, but I did want to let people know how I've been feeling. Things have been pretty awesome over the last few months, and more and more I've been feeling that I'm getting better at being who I am supposed to be. I've said it before, but I really do know that I made the right choice coming out on a mission. I'm glad that Mom and Dad left the final call up to me, because I know that I wouldn't have felt like I do now otherwise. I've had the chance to read and study so much, and to learn about so many things that I had never even considered before, that it's really shocking to think about. More than anything else, I have come to know that Jesus Christ did live, and did die, and was Resurrected to a perfect, immortal body, which He still has today. I've come to understand what that means, and how my choices are the only things that I can give back to Him for what He has done for me. I also have come to know that neither He nor Heavenly Father will ever force us into any choice, and that They will only work to see us happy. I'm glad that I have been able to learn that, and to be taught by the things that the Apostles and Prophets have written, and by the Spirit. I'm not perfect, not by a long shot, but I recognize that anything is possible for God, and He is on my side, on all of our sides. All we need to do is ask.

That's my little blurb for this week. Again, I hope you all had a great Mothers' Day, and were able to show that love to your Moms.

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, May 4, 2015

Email Update: 5/4/2015

Dear Everyone,

Wow, for how boring your week sounded from the beginning of the letter, things seems to be pretty cool! 

As for me, most of the week was actually really slow. It's that time between finishing teaching your last investigator, and trying to find new ones to teach. We've been trying the whole time, of course, but that doesn't mean that you always find them. Because of that, lessons were hard to get, and most of the less active people that we have been working with were out of town, too, so even that was hard. One of them, Dan, headed out to Washington on Wednesday, to have his mother's memorial, where they will spread her ashes. I hope that he is still doing as well as he was when we last saw him; I've got a feeling that this will be hard on him.

Other then that, yes, Kodi was baptized!! It went really well, and it was the first time that I've ever not had to do a lot of planning for a baptism I was involved in! Kodi planned almost all of it himself, and had done so even before was mentioned it to him. He had his girlfriend's dad baptize him, and his old baseball coach confirm him this Sunday. Remember, those are the High Priest Group Leader and the Elder's Quorum President, respectively, so he has a lot of Ward Council support, which is awesome. As a bit of a side note, after the baptism Kodi was doing really well, talking with everyone, and just acting normal. I called his bluff, and asked if his head had stopped spinning yet. He smiled and said no. I told him that it probably wouldn't until the following afternoon, after his confirmation, and he agreed.

Honestly, that's about it for this week. Thanks for everything!

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, April 27, 2015

Email Update: 4/27/2015

Dear Everyone,

Thank you for the birthday wishes! It was a low-key birthday, which is about what you expect out here. We actually spent most of the day doing yard work around the church building, then we went over to the Lemckes home and helped Jim paint their ceilings. I think that the only special thing we did for my birthday was go out to eat. Memo to me, just because a restaurant gave a free birthday meal to one person, does not mean they will necessarily do it for you. I'm glad I didn't get the super expensive meal!

As for the rest of the week, things were pretty slow this time around. We did have a couple of really good visits with a less active lady named Alisha. She has been having a hard time with her non-member husband, who while not actively working against her coming back to church, has been acting in ways to make it difficult. Alisha has been really trying to work towards going to the temple, including paying tithing, quitting coffee and other Word of Wisdom issues, and coming to church whenever her work schedule allows it. That one has been really bothering her, because she's asked to have Sundays off, and was even told that she could, but they keep scheduling her anyways. We were able to let her know that she is trying, that Heavenly Father knows it, and that as long as she keeps trying, it'll all work out. Elder Reischman gave her a blessing yesterday, which she was really appreciative for, and she will figure it all out.

We also were able to start teaching the full discussions to Dan. We had been talking about doing so for a while, and we finally taught the first one yesterday. The only problem is our timing---he had just woken up from a nap, so he was pretty much out of it. We aren't too sure how much he actually understood, so the next time we go over, we are going to run at least a quick refresher course before starting the next one. Dan is still doing really well after his mom passed, and I'm really impressed with how much he trusts that he will see her again. He says that he still can't eat a triple Cheese Burger from McDonalds, but other then that, he is really ok. I hope that it stays that way, and that he will continue to work at coming back to church.

Finally, it's less then a week until Kodi (I've been spelling his name wrong this whole time---sorry) gets baptized! It'll be a bit of a crazy week for us, since we still have a whole lesson and a baptismal interview before Saturday, but I know that it will work out. I still am not used to having someone take notes while we teach; it's a bit of a heady feeling! I just have to remember that it's not really me who is teaching, but the Spirit, which Kodi is super in tune with. In our last lesson, we taught on the Commandments, and one of his comments was that he wished that he had known all of these earlier in his life. He told us that his trip with the Lallatins was awesome, and that they were able to visit the Draper and SLC temples as well as the Payson open house. Kodi's favorite one was the Draper---even though it was wet and rainy, he made everyone get out so that he could touch it. I think that he is excited for Saturday.

Well, I think those are the major points from this week. Thank you all again for everything, and I hope that you have a good week!

Love and Insanity, Elder Stuver

Monday, April 20, 2015

Lindsey's Baptism

Email Update: 4/20/2015

Dear Everyone,

I hope all of your weeks went well! Ours was a little slow, but we did have some really good times throw in here and there. We've been progressing really well with Cody, and he is getting both more excited and more nervous every day as his baptism gets closer. We just taught the first half of the Commandments yesterday, and he reiterated that he's been doing most of them already. I can't say how cool it is to see people making good choices on their own, simply because they are learning the truth. On top of that, Cody is actually going down to Utah this weekend with Audrey's (his girlfriend) family, for her graduation from BYU. While they are down there, they were able to get tickets to go to the Payson Temple Open House! I can't think of a much better way for him to get ready for his baptism then feeling the Spirit as strongly as he will there. 

We also have gotten to see how Lindsey has been doing after her baptism, and it's been really great. The way she put it, it's been getting better and better every day, and she's starting to really recognize how she has the Spirit more in her life. We learned about the Sacrament in Gospel Principles yesterday, and she was saying how she can feel that fresh, clean feeling that she did after her baptism every week when she takes bread and water. She also mentioned how that feeling starts to wane toward the end of each week, so that she looks forward to Sundays to take it again. There are two of the Ward missionaries working with her through the New Member discussions, and one of them is actually Audrey, so she is in very good hands. 

Finally, we got to see the girl from Dairy Queen again, and the first things she said when we pulled up to the window was, "I didn't make it! But I'll try to make it this week." We also were able to get her name this time, Mira. 
Sadly, she still didn't, but I've got a really good feeling that she will soon. She seems to really want to come, and that desire is one of the most important steps to getting to church. If she really wants it, she will find a way to make it, and I really do think that she really wants it. All that needs to happen is for her to look to Christ for a hand when things get in the way. When she does, she'll make it to church, and when she makes it to church, she will feel the Spirit testify that she made the right choice.

Those are the major things from this week. I hope you all have a good one, and that you are happy!

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, April 13, 2015

Email Update: 4/13/2015

Dear Everyone,

Don't worry, pictures will come, as soon as I can steal them from Elder Reischman---my charger cord for my camera disappeared somewhere along the line, so i can't get any off of mine. Tell the M's that i say good luck, and I hope they will still be able to see me when I get home! 

Speaking of home, I got something very unexpected in the mail today. In missionary lingo, they are known as your "pre-trunks," or the form that you fill out and send back to the mission office, detailing your departure schedule. (Your actual departure papers are known as "trunky papers"). So, it kind of just hit me that I really only have a few months left. Yikes. Just so that you all know what I had in mind, I was hoping to fly home, so if anyone had other ideas *coughcoughmom*, they should let me know.

 As for stories for this week, we had one cool one, that's mostly a continuation of last week's. Because of general conference falling on the weekend Lindsey was baptized, she was confirmed a member yesterday! I had to laugh a bit; she said that she was just as dizzy after the confirmation as she was after her baptism. I was able to explain that baptism and confirmation are two parts to the same whole, so it would only make sense that she would feel similar after both experiences. All in all, things have been going very well for her, with the only sad thing being that, now that she has been baptized, her parents, especially Lindsey's mom, are getting some flack from some of their coworkers, and it's starting to freak them out about all of this. Nick has apparently been great about trying to teach and testify to the things that he knows, and to answer their question and concerns, but Lindsey's mom is still having a hard time with all of it. We were able to talk to Lindsey and Nick, and give them some suggestions about how to help her mom specifically to overcome the different things that are thrown at her, and in spite of all of this, Lindsey is still going strong, and is learning and growing more and more. 

One other cool story, that happened Saturday night. Elder Reischman is a huge fan of Dairy Queen, so right before we headed home for the night, we went through the drive through, and he ordered a shake. When we got to the window, one of the girls working there first complimented his tie (a really good looking pink paisley), then asked if we were with the LDS church. We said yes, and she asked what time things started tomorrow, and that she would try to make it. It was really cool to see, and even though she didn't end up making it, it was pretty much a direct answer to a prayer of mine, that we would be guided to those who were prepared to receive the gospel. Now, we just need to catch her again and set up a ride for her this next Sunday

I think that I will call it there for this week, with a huge thank you for every thing that you do for me, and all of the prayers that you say on my behalf.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver 

Monday, April 6, 2015

Email Updates: 4/6/2015--Happy Easter!

Dear Everyone,

Happy Easter!!! Hope you all had a good one, and were able to get stuffed with a bunch of candy!

On a more serious note, I really love it when General Conference falls on Easter. I can't think of a much better way to remember Christ's Atonement and Resurrection then hearing His apostles and prophets testify of Him. Jeffrey R. Holland's talks are always some of the strongest in that regard. I loved how this time he went back to Adam and Eve, to explain in such great detail, yet so simply, the need for a Redemption. Because of the choice that our first parents made, and because we all were going to make choices that would take us away from God, we would've been lost. Because of Jesus Christ, we all are made free from the Fall of Adam and Eve, and we are free to choose whether or not to follow Christ, keep His commandments, and be exalted with Him and our families. The fact that we get to choose is always one of the things that sticks out to me the most. God loves us enough to let us make our own choice, even when that choice takes us away from Him. He also makes sure that we have everything that we need in order to know what consequences our choices will have, good or bad, so that we can make an informed choice. Finally, He made a way where, when we make the wrong choices, we can repent, change, and become the person that God wants us to be, which is the best version of us that we can be. That, to me, is awesome. 

Now, I've just got to figure out how I can have the same attitude that He does, with some of the people that I'm working with. It can get really frustrating when you're outside looking in, and you can see exactly where a person's choice will lead them, and you try to warn them, and they choose not to listen, to continue down the same road, and to miss out on a lot of the amazing things that we can have. I've been out here for 21 months, and too many times have I seen people that choose to run down the same ruts that they have their whole lives, having the same problems, and feeling the same sadness and pain as always. When we try to point them in a way out of all that, some of them start to try, but when they realize that starting off, they have to climb out of the ruts, they slide back down, because right now, it seems easier. We try to explain that after the first push, after new habits are made, life just gets so much easier, happier, and more meaningful, but that first change, those first three weeks of building new habits, scare them off. They choose the normal, the ingrained, over the unknown, the new, not trusting the voice of those who care about them, instead choosing to trust what they already know, even if it hurts. 

The worst part of all this? I know exactly how they feel---I felt the same way. Before I was knocked over the head hard enough to rattle me free, I was doing the same things I just ranted about. I know what it feels like to slide back because I know what it feels like, because I don't want to feel the strain of working to try something new, something that looks like too much for me to handle. I know how easy it is to look around at the rest of the world, see them making choices like mine, and deciding that, if they can do it, so can I---it can't be bad if so many people are making such and such choice and seem so happy. I see so many people make choices different from what the gospel teaches, and I see a life free of commitment, free to do what I want, when I want, with whomever I want. Seems appetizing, relaxing, easy, comfortable, and able to fit in with the people around me. Why should I need to change? What benefit could there possibly be to me restricting myself to rules and regulations that are strict, often hard, and often not what I want to do at that time? Why on Earth would I as hard as people say to, if I can just stay the way I am, and live in the excitement of the moment, without any price tied to the choices that I make? Logically, why should I pay a price to something that I don't want? Why should I tie myself to something that ties me down to a set of actions and customs that simply require more work in the long run, when I can pay no price, stay the say I am, and live the life I want to live?

It took me a long time to figure it out, and a lot of outside help, but I finally figured it out. Fact is, even when it doesn't seem like it, there is always a price, to whatever we do. Some prices can just be deferred, paid on credit. We can say that we want this now, take it, and forget that for every cause, there is an effect. You leave a banana on the counter long enough, it will rot. You don't mow the lawn, it will eventually grow out of control, and die, with weeds and other things choking it out. You leave a bike outside, out of cover, it will at a later time rust and break. Most of these things take a long time to happen, but they will happen, unless action is taken to reverse the process. The same thing happens with the choices we make. A price will be paid, and a reward given, for every choice we make. We cannot change that. We cannot choose what that price is, nor the reward given, anymore then we can live without air. All we can do is choose what we want before we make a choice, and choose to act in whichever way will give us the effect we desire. If we do that, if we look before we act, suddenly it's easy to choose what to do. All we do is choose to pay a smaller price now, rather then a larger price later.

I am glad to say, we've gotten to work with someone who figured it out. Lindsey, a 20 year old girl who chose to change her life for the better. Getting to work with her has been a breath of fresh air, cool, fresh water in a drought. Here is a young woman that felt the pain of her choices, and decided that they weren't worth the price. She got herself out. She listened to the voices of those who cared for her, ultimately to the greatest Voice of all. She set herself right, and turned to God and Christ. She paid the price of this new choice, which is following the commandments, and turning herself over to Christ. Because of that choice, Christ blessed her with truth, light, and blessings more then I can count. Saturday, Lindsey was baptized as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I had the chance to see someone so filled with the Holy Ghost, that she almost lost her strength to stand. I've seen her do more in the last few weeks to help others come to Christ, then many members have their whole life. She had the courage to make these choices, even when her family might object, actually kick her out. She even had the guts to invite them to her baptism!! She knew her weaknesses, and turned to the Lord every time they surfaced, through personal prayer, and through priesthood blessings. She was willing to take the steps to repent of her past mistakes, and to become a "new creature," like it says in Mosiah chapter 5. It has been a long time since I've seen someone make that kind of change in their lives. That's really what it's all about. I came out because I wanted to see people be happy, and I've had that chance with Lindsey. It's been worth all of it, all of the frustration, all of the sadness, just to see her grow happier and happier. 

Well, I think that should be enough of a bomb for this week. Thanks for letting me soap box, and for taking the time to read these things. It really means a lot to me that you do.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Nathanael Stuver

Monday, March 30, 2015

Email Update: 3/30/2015

Dear Everyone,

Well, I guess people like reading novels from me, with all of the different comments that have come my way since the last letter, so here you go. You asked for it! ;-)

This week we've had a lot of really cool experiences, with the necessary slow times in between. I've decided that Monday's are some of my least favorite days out here, because we can't really get much work done, and we are quite literally an hour and a half away from the closest missionaries, so no getting to spend time with them. (Exception: this week all of the Baker City missionaries are coming up to John Day, and we're gonna go bowling). Wednesdays tend to be better, but still hard, because of District Meeting. We aren't able to do much work then, either, because we have to go down to Baker City for the meeting, and we often don't get back until later in the day. Basically, in time for dinner, and not many people like us stopping by in the evenings here. 

Other then those, the days have been pretty great. We are still working with Lindsey, who is doing just as awesomely as before. We actually taught the 3rd discussion at Nick's (her official-unofficial fiance) house, in his "Rave Cave."
It's the basement of his house, that he decked out with sheets hanging on all of the walls, which he and anyone else that he invites over painted with a bunch of different paintings in neon colors. Of course, there is the necessary six blacklights all over the area, so all of the paintings popped out, and our with shirts were as bright as spotlights. With everything the way it was, if felt like we were in a perpetual evening, right at that perfect time where the sun has just gone down, but everything is still so bright and colorful. The lesson itself went really well, too. Like I said, it was on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and just like everything else, she soaked it up like a dry sponge. I really love teaching this lesson. It really is the foundation of everything that we teach. Without faith in Christ, we wouldn't ever feel the need, or even the desire, to keep His commandment. We wouldn't believe in a possibility of life after death, or a chance to progress to a point where we are like our Heavenly Father, because there would be no way for us to overcome our mistakes and sins. Without a belief in Someone who cares for us more than life itself, enough to create an Earth for us to live on, and to give His life for us, there would really be no hope for a better life then the one we are living now, whatever that life is. With that faith in Christ, we don't have to face struggles alone. We have a friend who knows everything that we have gone through, exactly as it affected us, and how to help us overcome it. We have a guide, Someone who has walked ahead of us, and knows where we need to go in order to be safe and happy, happier then we can even think of until we feel it. We have the opportunity to repent, to see that we need to change something in our lives, to feel the pain that comes with sin and poor choices, to tell our Heavenly Father those things that we have done, and to work never to do them again. We have the chance to be completely forgiven for anything we have ever done, and to feel the peace and joy that comes with that forgiveness, that knowledge that we have nothing to fear, nothing holding us back from being the absolute best that we can be.

Which, when you think of it, we are the children of God. That's pretty huge potential.

Now that my speech is finished, continuing with the story. We taught her all of those points, along with Baptism, the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and Enduring to the end. She was really excited about it all, and for her baptism coming up this Saturday. Funny story to go along with that... Nick had mentioned that the day he was baptized was the best day of his life, and Lindsey had agreed with him by saying that there really couldn't be much better. So, like the missionary know-it-alls we are, Elder Reischman and I both start listing off all of the things that will be even better, later on in life, including going to the temple, getting married, having kids, grand-kids, etc. Note, neither Nick nor Lindsey had made any mention about marriage or anything of the sort---everyone else just already knew it was going to happen. So, after we finished going through the list of different things, Lindsey said that Nick and her weren't to interested in having kids, because it would be a mini version of the both of them (picture your closest four year old, and add a lot more intensity and mood swings, with a whole lot of awesome, and you have Nick and Lindsey). That is when Elder Hitch Reischman asked very pointed question, "So, did you just announce that you two are getting married?" *Cue obnoxious grin from me and Elder Reischman*

They both laughed, and Nick said, "Well, everyone has been asking us when we were getting married, so I guess it's not that awkward." Lindsey goes on to say that it would be really great if we could both be there when it happens, and we all make some more fun of each other for a while, until we realize that we only have a few minutes until we are supposed to be home. Gotta love unchanging lighting messing with your sense of time.

Yesterday, we had a lot happen, too. As usual, Sunday was our busiest day, with church, a lesson with Cody, a lesson with Lindsey, and a lesson with the Kilmer family. Cody's lesson happened right after church, and though it was a shorter one, he progressed a lot. First off, Cody was a plaid (plad?) shirt and jeans kind of guy every Sunday before, and he, without any encouragement from us, showed up to church in a white shirt and tie. Always a good sign. For the actual lesson, Cody had met with the Bishop before church, so the first thing that Cody said to us was that he wanted to get baptized in May! I always love it when people make their own choice to be baptized, because it shows that they really do believe in what they are doing, and know what they are getting into. It doesn't hurt that Cody's already awesome, and working to live the commandments that he knows. He even grabbed a Tithing slip before he left the church building! We haven't taught tithing yet!!! So, with a newly set baptismal date set for May 2nd, Cody went off to have dinner at Audry's (who is now Cody's girlfriend) house, the daughter of our High Priest group leader. (According to Seth, her brother, Cody is hogging their sister, but he's really fun).

The last lesson of the week was another one with Lindsey, and it was probably the smoothest lesson on the Commandments I've ever been a part of. She's already reading the scriptures, praying, coming to church, keeping the Ten Commandments, and Keeping the Sabbath Day holy. Everything that is prohibited in the Word of Wisdom makes her violently sick to use, including coffee and most tea. She has already had a learning experience with the Law of Chastity, so she has no more problems there. General Conference is the same day as her baptism, so she'll get to have that exposure to all of the Apostles and the Prophet. On a slight side note, this was the least awkward time I've ever taught the Law of Chastity, mostly because I didn't worry whether or not it would offend her. Usually, I've tried to ease into the subject, beating a nice wide circle around the bush, until they have to figure it out themselves. This time was a straight forward no sex before marriage, no pornography, and marriage is between a man and a woman. It was also so much easier to explain the blessing that come with keeping the law, the self confidence, the strength, and the love shared between two people bound for all time and eternity, with children as a gift from God, to bring joy into our lives, and to further teach us to be like Him, the perfect Father of All. I know why I've had such a hard time in the past, and I'm so grateful that I don't have that hanging over me anymore. I am so glad that I was able to learn that God is there for all of us, and that regardless of who we were, or what we've done in the past, we have a Savior who died to free us from those sins and temptations. I would be a lost and terrible soul without that ability to repent, and now I know the joy that comes from turning it all over to Christ. I think that is why I was able to be so bold and confident in what I was teaching Lindsey, and I'm glad that I could help someone grow and be better then they were before.

Those stories should've filled at least a few minutes of your time. Thank you again for all that you do for me, knowingly or not, and all of the prayers on my behalf.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver

Monday, March 23, 2015

Email Update: 3/23/2015

Dear Everyone,

Yeeeeaaaahhh... I talk too much. Sorry... I'll try and keep it a little more readable this week, though no promises are made.

The exciting news from this week goes pretty much along with last week's; Cody and Lindsey. They are both moving along so rapidly, it can be hard to keep up with them! On top of that, the members in the ward are starting to get the missionary fever, with everyone doing boatloads to fellowship, share, teach, and invite. We actually had one of only a very few dinners where the members invited one of our investigators! That one was for Lindsey and Nick, and it went awesome. Lindsey even asked for a priesthood blessing afterwards, and once again said how much the Spirit has touched her over the past few weeks. Thanks be to Nick for being so out going and fearless! Now, we are just counting down the days until she gets baptized, which happens to be on General Conference Saturday. We're excited... 

On Cody's end of things, the mission is full of all kinds of firsts, and I had another one on Saturday. I went to my first Baseball Game! ...It was good, just slow. We left after the third inning, because it had already been two hours, and we had work to do. It was still really fun, and Cody was the one who invited us, so it was a great chance to get to know him a bit more, and for me to learn about something new. One of the things that stood out to me? Baseball is as much of learning a new language, as learning a sport. The words these guys were spitting out just flew right over my head half of the time, and the other half stayed just low enough to clock me in the forehead, before jetting passed me. By the time that we left, I did start catching on to some of the lingo, but it was still hit or miss.

We did have another really good lesson with Cody, too. It was Sunday afternoon, and he had stayed through all three meetings, like he usually does. This Sunday, though, both the Elder's Quorum and the High Priest group were missing their teachers, so we all met with the High Priests, and the Group Leader gave the lesson. It kind of devolved into a jumbled up discussion about Adam's authority, Priesthood Lines of Authority, and other deep stuff that I can barely get a grip of. I looked at Cody towards the end of the lesson, and he had an expression on his face that was somewhere between shell-shocked and deer-in-the-headlights. When class was over, I asked if his head had stopped spinning yet. He smiled and shook his head hard.

During the actual lesson, Cody said that he had been to a lot of churches over time, and none of them had what we had, with the priesthood and the different quorums, and all of the different titles that were being thrown around, such as elder or high priest. We were able to show him how Christ had set up His church while he was on the earth, and as part of that, he gave different people various callings, along with the authority to act in God's name, in other words, the priesthood. That led smoothly into teaching the Great Apostasy, and the Restoration through Joseph Smith. It never stops standing out to me, how much that simple phrase that Joseph uses to describe the First Vision affects people when they hear it.

"I saw a pillar of light, exactly over my head, which descended gradually, until it fell upon me. When the light rested upon me, I saw two Personages, whose brightness and glory defy all description, standing above me in the air. One of them spake unto me, calling me by name, and said, pointing to the other, "This is my Beloved Son. Hear him.'"

Just like it always does, that hit Cody pretty hard, from just what I could see. As the lesson went on, Cody told us that he's been thinking a lot about baptism, and something keeps telling him that he needs to do it, but he wants to make sure that he understands everything that he needs to before he makes that decision. We were able to tell him that when he is prompted to do something good, it's the Holy Ghost telling him, and that we don't have to know everything in order to be baptized. I made sure to stress that the fact that he is reading the scriptures, that he's praying, and that he's coming to church, really is enough. He'll learn the things that he needs as time goes on, and just the fact that he is willing to do those things that will bring him closer to Christ, shows that he is doing what he needs to. Elder Reischman challenged him to read 2 Nephi 31, and I have a feeling that we will see some major progress the next time we teach him.

Well, I did a little bit better. It's only half mind numbing, rather than all the way. Thanks for reading these things, and for everything else.

Love, Elder Nathanael Stuver

Monday, March 16, 2015

Email Update: 3/16/2015

Dear Everyone,

Tell Jeffrey that I'm just a little jealous of his new job; it's the kind that I was hoping for when I first went looking for one. Also, I say hi back to everyone back, with a good luck to Guido. ;-)

As for my week, it seems to be a little faster paced then yours sounds. Actually, never mind---most of the week was death. Sunday, on the other hand, was amazing. We had three investigators at church, Lindsey, who I told you all about last week, a young man named Cody, who Lindsey actually invited to come and to take the lessons with her, but who decided to take them all on his own, and a girl named Shania, a foster daughter to the 2nd councilor in the Bishopric. Cody was the best news to me. He actually blew a tire on the way to church, something that would end the day of a totally active member a lot of the time. As for him, re ran all the way back home, grabbed his tire jack, ran back to his car, switched the tires, and still made it to church before Sacrament meeting was even half done. While we were waiting for Gospel Principles class to start, Cody told us that he had been wanting the past week to just fly by, so that he could come back to church again, because he felt so good last week.

Lindsey was just as amazing. She'd gone with her mother to the Catholic church last week, because of how her mom was feeling about just not knowing much truth about the LDS church, so we missed her then. This week, however, not only did she come, she told us that, during the High Councilman's talk, she got the intense feeling that everything he was speaking on, and the church itself, was true. Apparently her and Nick were both balling almost the whole Sacrament meeting because of how strong the Spirit was. As if that wasn't enough, were were able to have a discussion with her after church, and it hit the questions that she said she had been wondering for a very long time. You know the ones, "Where did I come from? Why am I here?" and next appointment will cover, "Where am I going?"
It's always so awesome to teach Lindsey, because you know that the Spirit is testifying to everything that you are saying, the entire lesson. She is so in tune and prepared that we are barely doing any teaching at all, just sharing what means most to us, and watching her soak it up. Time and time again we've gotten to see something that we say hit her hard, and see the light shine even brighter in her eyes. Elder Reichman was talking on the phone to our district leader last night for our weekly report, and he said something that really explains how these lessons feel to me, "This is why we pay $10,000 and two years of our lives to come out here!"

You'd think that would be all you could get in one day. Wrong. We still had a lesson with Cody to go to.

I've long said that Sundays are our longest days, and today really supported that statement, because we were at the church building from 8:00 in the morning, until 3:00 in the afternoon. Even the Bishop goes home before we do!!! The difference between most Sundays and today, however, I didn't feel tired by the time that we left. Our two appointments were just so awesome. Cody told us that he had felt so good after last week that he couldn't even sleep Saturday night, he was so anxious to come to church. During the week, though, he did have some family that threw the standard "anti-Mormon" lingo at him, which hit him pretty hard. The main one that he told us bothered him was when he had an aunt that told him that "Mormons aren't Christians." He said that it was really hard on him to have that kind of judgement from one of his family members, about something that he would never judge anyone else on. We were able to address the issue, reaffirm that we are indeed Christians, and that everything that we do surrounds the Atonement of Christ. Without that Atonement, there would be no repentance, no forgiveness of sins. We wouldn't be able to grow or learn, and we would be unable to live with our Father in Heaven, because no unclean thing can dwell with God. Because of that Atonement, we can repent, we can be forgiven of our sins. We can truly feel the peace that comes from being free from guilt or pain, and knowing that we are clean in God's eyes. We make the choice to walk through the doors of Baptism, other ordinances, and of keeping the commandments, but it was Christ who carved those doors out of the mountain that we're in in the first place. Jesus Christ is our Savior, and He is the only reason life has any meaning, any hope at all.
We were able to share that with Cody, and be reminded that God has perfect timing, because all of the lessons in church were on Baptism and the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Even the talks in Sacrament meeting were focused on the Grace of Christ and our need for him. By the end of the day, Cody said that he knew that we worshiped Jesus Christ, and that we are Christians. He accepted a Book of Mormon to read, and set up an appointment for the following week. Then he headed off to go be fellowshipped by the High Priest Group leader and his family, who happened to include one daughter that he works with every day, another daughter that he was a camp councilor for, a son who he already got along really well with, and another daughter who basically grabbed him and pulled him into the family. Yeah, Heavenly Father has it all figured out. Oh, and did I mention that the Elders Quorum President and one of his councilors each individually coached him in baseball growing up, and the first thing Cody did when he was told all of the things from his aunt was go to the Elders Quorum President while he was coaching, and ask him a bunch of questions?

Aaaaaand that was our Sunday.

On the subject of Howren Charles Hall, I have to start off by saying that we have an amazing Family History Director in John Day, who also happens to be our Land Lady. She did what I've been trying to get FHC consultants to do for the past year and a half, and actually show me what to do after I could get logged on to Family Search. She showed me how to use all of the indexed records that have been logged on to the database to attach sources to existing names in Family Tree, from all of the work that everyone has done before. She showed me how that solidifies the person, and gives more proof to when and where they lived, along with who is related to them. The funny thing is, with all of these new records being indexed, more info is available on different people, including children and parents that hadn't been able to be found before. Howren was one of those children, one that Sister Sintay (the Director) helped me to find on the first day she showed me to source people. 2 1/2 hours and 5 different census records attached later, we had all of the info that we needed to request his ordinances. This was after we traced the Stallings line for all of that time, working to just attach sources, and found Howren as a son of one of the daughters in the Stallings line, whose father was named Arthur Hall. More and more records later, we had all of Howren's names, and even found a wife and kids, though I haven't been able to find many records on them as of yet. Needless to say, I was pretty excited after all of that work. I gave his name to the youth group up here to take on their ward temple trip and do his Baptism and Confirmation, then I sent the card to you, Mom. It was cool, and it would be even cooler if I could take his name through for my returning temple trip up here. All in all, it's been pretty fun, and now I can actually be honest when I'm teaching about Family History to investigators and less actives.

I think that will be it for this letter. Thank you all for taking the time to read these novels that I send, and for all of your prayers for me and all of the missionaries. Trust me; we need them.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Nathanael Stuver

Monday, March 9, 2015

Email Update: 3/9/2015

Dear Everyone,

It sounds like a pretty crazy week for you all. I bet Grandma Marie would've liked to join you at the Disney on Ice trip---I hope you sent her some pictures too! As for Nunsense, I'd be totally freaked out if I had to learn a leading role after a performance had already happened, so kudos to her! Finally, Jocelyn is home from her mission??!?!?!?!?!?!? I have been out here so long... Tell her I said congrats, and hope the transition goes well!

As for things on my end, it's been pretty much awesome, with the standard slowness liberally mixed in. I believe I told you about Lindsey W, Nick Smith's girlfriend that he invited to church. Well, we've now had two utterly fantastic lessons, on the Restoration in two parts. If I didn't tell you about her, and that was the part that I'd left out, well, Here you go! Lindsey grew up in John Day, then moved to Portland for collage and life in general. After a while, things were not going well for her at all, and she bound herself in a lot of bad situations. One day, she was praying what she should do to fix her life, when she got a call from Nick, about a scarf that she might have left at his house at some point (turns out, they have no clue where the scarf came from, because it wasn't hers). She got a strong feeling that she needed to come home, so she packed up, got in her car, drove to John Day, and never looked back. Nick invited her to come to church, and she said that at first, she had the immediate cross-your-arms-in-front-of-your-chest-in-a-giant-X reaction that had been ingrained in a lot of the world about Mormons, but she decided that she would come. It happened to be Fast and Testimony meeting that week, and Nick got up and bore his testimony. In the process, he said, "I'm not sure how many of you noticed but i brought someone with me today. She's sitting in the back over there, if you wanted to meet her."

Obviously, everybody looked back, and her face went red. That was my first clue that she was going to be golden---most people would have gone straight for the door if someone had done that to them from the pulpit.

Instead, she stayed through the whole first hour, met a bunch of the ward, and even held her ground when one of the elderly ladies told her that she (Lindsey) was going to get baptized, marry Nick, and have 10 kids (although the number 10 did make her pause mid step for half a second). She came to Gospel Principles class, was willing to read and participate, and said at the end of the class that she had been feeling like something was missing from her life, and now she knew what (the lesson that week just happened to be on Faith in Jesus Christ). A few days later, we set up the first appointment, and she committed to read the Book of Mormon, come to church the next week, pray to know if what we were teaching was true, say the closing prayer at our nest appointment, and be baptized on the 4th of April. It was awesome.

Even better then all of that, when we met with her and Nick on Thursday, she had read all of what we had left with her to read, and she was super excited for the lesson. We taught the 2nd half of the Restoration, and she described that when she read the Book of Mormon, she felt good and peaceful, and that everything that she read was good. We read Moroni chapter 7, verses 12-15 with her, and described how that is exactly what the Holy Ghost feels like when he is teaching and testifying of the truth to us. She told us that that was the exact same feeling that she'd had when she decided to come home from Portland, when she started taking the lessons, and at church on Sunday. She recommitted to pray about whether or not the Book of Mormon is true, and then she committed to invite someone to come to her next appointment and learn the same things that she is. She didn't end up coming to church this week, because her mom freaked out and wanted her to come to the Catholic church with her (in the words of Nick), but Nick feels (and I agree) that she will just end up bringing more people to the gospel, rather then any harm being done.

To top it all off, yesterday we had a man named Cody come to Sacrament Meeting, who told one of the members that he needed to start going to church again. We're pretty sure that he is not a member, but he stayed through all three hours, read during each of the lessons, and took a Gospel Principles manual to study. We were able to get his phone number, and it turns out that a lot of the Elders Quorum already knew him from coaching him in baseball, and Nick just knew him as a friend. He was well welcomed into the groups, and seemed glad to see that he was just included into everything. We'll have to see where it goes from here, but I have a feeling that he will continue to be interested in learning more.

Well, those are the really exciting things from this week. Thank you for everything, and thank you for helping me to be out here, doing what's right.

Love and Insanity,
Elder Stuver