Monday, February 23, 2015

Email Update: 2/23/2015

Dear Everyone,

First off, the Dyslexie font just looks like Times New Romans to me...

Anyways, we didn't end up doing anything really cool for President's Day---I've noticed that Monday holidays don't mean that much to a missionary. It was just another P-Day, which I guess is pretty cool in and of itself. Other then that, nothing too spectacular.

This week sadly kind of followed that pattern. It's been a slow one, and we are pretty much seeing the same people over and over again. It's frustrating, but Elder Reischman really helped last night. He said that as long as we helped one person come closer to Christ, we have done our job. He also reminded me that we've been doing a lot of work, but things just go wrong sometimes. Appointments cancel, people aren't home, and others just don't want anything to do with us, but there are those few things that can lift the day. 

One of those things happened yesterday. One of the people that we have been working with since we got here, Sister Kilmer, came to church! I don't think that she had been in a very long time, and when you put that on top of the fact that she is still not smoking, things seem to be going very well for her, and she is progressing amazingly. She even was willing to read with us when we went over last night, and read 1 Nephi 11. We had to get her a giant print copy of the scriptures, but that's nothing if she will start reading. Now, we just hope that her son Dan will quit chewing. He can't really come to church, because he works on a ranch, but he seems to be progressing as well. He is really good about helping his mom keep the commitments that she's made, and is always fine with us going over to read. (He doesn't read because of Dyslexia. Think you can find a copy in that font?)

One other cool thing was that we might have a new investigator soon! Nick, a recent convert and one of our Ward Missionaries, brought his girlfriend Lindsey to church yesterday! On top of that, she didn't bolt when several people came up to her and greeted her---even one named Ruth, who told Lindsey that she was going to get baptized, marry Nick, and have 10 kids. Lindsey even came to Gospel principles class, was willing to read and participate, and afterwards said that she would love to get together and learn more with us and Nick. We gave her a Gospel's Principles manual to read, and she'd started flipping through it even before she left. So, hopefully things go well in that area, and she seems genuinely interested in learning more and, more importantly, doing what she learns. The way she put it, "I'd felt something was missing, and now I know why."

I think that covers all of the exciting things for this letter. I hope you all have a good week!

Love, Elder Stuver

Monday, February 16, 2015

Email Update: 2/16/2015

Dear Everyone,

It sounds like a LOT of holidays are a big deal in Japan! Though, now that I think about it, Christmas may not be, or at least, have been. How was it around that time?

It sounds like Jeffrey has been having a hectic life! Hope that things are still sane for him through all of it.

Now, on to the weather. I think that it's like that all over the west, because we're up in the mountains, and we haven't had snow since I've been up here! Not that I'm complaining about it---AT ALL---I just have heard some nerve wracking things. According to several of the people who live up here, the fights over water rights are just as bad, if not worse, then the ones that you've told me about in Vernal. There's apparently a body count over a few of them! I just hope that it doesn't get THAT bad---drought can do crazy things to people. Regardless, having the temperature hover in the 60's is very nice, especially when you have to be out in it for most of the day.

As for some of the things that happened this week, we had some really weird ups and downs. We had two or three days where we had lessons almost from sun up to sun down (usually passed that last one). Then, the next day, we would have everything fall through. The really weird day was Friday. We had the whole day planned out, even had a few back up plans (which are hard to get when you have to scrounge just to get plans at all). We didn't have a single appointment cancel on us, and we were only unable to see one family that we wanted to. That part was cool. The part that was weird was that all of this took place in under two hours. Our visits just went pop, pop, pop, and they were done. So, from 2 in the afternoon on, we were struggling to find something to occupy our time in a semi useful manner. We even ended up going to the Family History Center and doing several batches of indexing for some of the time. 

Speaking of which, I have discovered why schools have generally stopped teaching/requiring cursive writing. It's because IT'S IMPOSSIBLE TO READ!!!!! Half of the batches that I worked on took me forever, and all I had to do on each record was to enter 6 things from the image. I just couldn't read the things! I'd spend ten minutes digging some kind of meaning from scratchings that chickens wouldn't be caught dead making---AND THESE WERE THE BEGINNER LEVEL RECORDS!!!!! I was always so relieved when there would be the one batch where every one of the records would be done with a typewriter, because the entire batch would only take me 5 minutes, as opposed to a full hour!

Anyways, that's enough of my ranting. One of the really cool things that we had happen this week was just yesterday. We've been working with a lady that is inactive because her husband has "asked" her not to go to church. He is currently living in a nursing home, and is rapidly losing his memory, so he is much more open to us coming and teaching him and her (since he probably forgot that he'd been upset with the church in the first place), but she still doesn't yet feel right going to church behind his back, and I can't blame her. It also doesn't help that she is basically home bound, except for short visits to her husband in Valley View. All of this has been understandably hard on her, but through it all, she's been reading and studying the scriptures, the gospel principles manual, and different talks online. She's been reading all four of the standard works, and uses the manual to guide her studies. Every time that we come over, she has a new question for us, and loves to learn more about the gospel. Seeing all of this, we asked if she would be willing to have the sacrament brought to her home, and she fervently agreed. So, this week, we were able to take her the sacrament, for the first time in a long time. I think that was the highlight of my week, seeing someone working to keep covenants, regardless of the challenges, while still respecting those she loves. It can be hard to find that, especially when your whole life is dedicated to working with those who are not doing those things. It's refreshing.

Well, I think that pretty much sums up the week. Thank you all for everything that you say, do, and pray for us out here. May God give you the "pick-me-ups" that you need in life.

Love, Elder Stuver


Monday, February 9, 2015

Email Update: 2/9/2015

Dear Everyone,

Thanks for all of the pics. Except the last Bean Museum one. YOU KNOW I DON'T LIKE SPIDERS!!!!@!!!!@!!@!@!!@!

Anyways, it sounds like things are going well for all of you, and that Michaela had a good Birthday. I'm glad that things are going well, and especially that Mei-chan can finally get some of her points across. I hope Jeffrey had at least a little fun at the dance; I always did, and he always has had more friends than me.

As for me, things have been going well. It's been a whole lot of Hastening the Work list searching, but it's still been good. We go around and try and track down a lot of the potential elders, the part-member families, and families with children that are unbaptized, over 8 years old. Usually, we'll get a polite if not positive response, and we've been able to make a lot of contacts with people that had been on a Do Not Contact list in the recent past. Two of them were even positive, and one family accepted home teachers!
On that note, allow me to rant just a little. PLEASE, EVERYONE DO YOUR HOME TEACHING!!!!!!!!! You have no idea how much we have to work with people who have no idea where their families are, and what their situations are. We constantly run into people, active members even, that haven't been home taught in months, some even since they moved into whatever ward we're working with. On the other hand, the families that have consistent home teachers, even if they aren't active, all love them. The less active and part-member families with good home teachers are more open to anything that we propose, and would give their left arm for their teachers. Not to mention most of them eventually return to activity. So, please, make your missionaries lives easier, and make the visits!

Now that that is taken care of, you may all return to your seats from the various things that you were doing during that rant.

Some of the cool things that happened this week involved a family that i'm pretty sure that I told you all about, named the Kilmers. Sister and Dan Kilmer are both less active members, and they both have weaknesses with the Word of Wisdom. However, Sister Kilmer allowed us to do what all of the past missionaries had been trying to get her to do since they started talking to her; she let us take her cigarettes. And then she has stayed off of them!! She is working with the bishop and other members of the ward to fight the addiction, and has a huge support group in the members. When we went over last night, one of the first things that she said to us was how much better she was feeling, and how much she was able to do without having that in her life. In addition to all of that, Dan has told her that if she does stick to this, he will quit his own addiction. It's so cool to actually see people who are willing to give it a shot, and to kick these things that just hold them down. It makes it even cooler to see when I know just how hard it can be to overcome things like this, and I know how much work it takes. 

So, there was one of the major stories this week. The other really cool thing happened on Saturday. We finally got to meet a former investigator named Megan Cameron. She is a young woman, in her early 20's, and she has had all of the discussions in the past. All of one side of her family are members, and most of them chose to be baptized later in life, showing that they understood what they were covenanting. Megan really is so close to baptism, she just needs to come to a knowledge herself, and even before that, to make the decision that if it's true, she will do it. I really feel like she will, too. We were able to leave a commitment for her to read the Book of Mormon, and to pray to know if the church is true. On top of that, I don't think that I've felt the Spirit as strongly during a lesson as when I gave the part on Joseph Smith's first vision, at least not since the last time I gave it to someone who'd been prepared ahead of time. Now, things really are in her hands, and I know that if she wants to know if the church is true, she will. I know that she will be able to make the choice even before that, to be baptized if it is. In other words, this is gonna be good.

Well, I think those are the major stories that I'm going to tell this week. Thanks for everything that you all do, and for all of the prayers that you say for us.

Love, Elder Stuver

P.S. I come home on July 7th. That is less than 5 months away. AAAAAAAARGH!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Email Update: 2/2/2015

Dear Everyone,

Yeah, I knew that would be a surprise. I also knew how much I like having a bit more info, and have had several missionary moms tell me---repeatedly---to write good sized letters home. The first shot just didn't cut it, so i fixed it.

That's cool to hear about the sister from Moscow; you never know what's going to happen down the line. Give her a "Good Luck" from me!

In case i forget later, Happy Birth-day Mickeyala!

Ok, my turn. This week was a little slower, due to running out of people that the past missionaries had seen. Now, we are trying to focus on nudging commitments out of those whom they had been teaching, and trying to locate a lot of the people from the hastening the work lists. It's a little sad; we're running into all of the same problems that past wards have had, with the same amount of solutions---that is, none. We keep finding people on the lists that don't have an accurate address, any address at all, have moved, died, have inaccurate response info, and other poor information. The saddest ones, though, are the people who had just been written off years ago, and people had just never tried since. Usually the people are pretty upset with the church, but are open to us coming by. Sometimes, they had just been waiting for someone to notice that they were missing, and to say something. Then, when nobody did, they assumed that they just weren't wanted, so they never came back. Luckily, that is much rarer than the other possibilities, but it does happen, and it's sad whenever it does. We were able to track down some of the people that the ward had been working with, and had good responses with most of them. There are, of course, those several that want absolutely nothing to do with us, but most of the people are open to us stopping by, if nothing else. 

One of the things that I've decided since I've been up here; i hate the smell of cigarette smoke. One of the families that we have been working with smokes more then the chimney sitting next to them. Add to that, at least the chimney has the decency to smoke outside! Every time we go over, I get scared i'm going to get second hand emphysema, and we come out covered in the smoke and gunk. The worst part is that one of them is on oxygen, and though i don't think that she smokes herself, it doesn't much matter, because the air is full of it down to your knees. I can only barely understand how they can live like that, and that's only because i kind of understand what an addiction can do to you. We even gave a blessing to the lady on oxygen, and in it she was promised that she would have three days and three nights completely free of pain, and all she was told to do was to read and study the scriptures during that time. When we came back the next week, we were told that she was completely relieved the moment we left, but three hours later, it was back. It just makes me frustrated when it's so clear and obvious what someone needs to do for good things to happen, not even hard things, and yet they choose not to do it, and they miss out on those amazing blessings. ARGH!!!!! *sigh* Oh, well. we can't force anyone to do anything. I just need some help knowing what i can do to spark them to make the choices themselves.

Now that that rant is over with, on to some better news. One of the investigators that we have been working with, named Jim, had had all of the lessons from past missionaries. According to the second councilor in the bishopric, who would go over with them on lessons, said that e took to the lessons like a fish to water. From what I've seen, that's a pretty accurate statement. Jim comes to church every week, participates in Gospel Principles, and has us over every week to read from the Book of Mormon with him and his family. He's always willing to help us out when we need some, and he finds things on his own that needs doing, and he does them. He's even been really willing to give us some background on anyone that we are going to contact that he knows, and when (and if) we should stop by. The only thing is, he hasn't gotten baptized yet. Honestly, I'm not sure why. I kind of feel like he's got something that he feels he needs to overcome, and he feels like he hasn't grown enough to be baptized, but I'm not sure. I know that he is ready, and that he will be a fantastic member. He's the only one that needs to figure it out. Anyways, the good news. Like I said, we've been reading from the Book of Mormon, and we'd been in Mosiah 24 last week. When we came back this week, he had already read up to Alma 3. This is really spectacular, because he had just been going along with where we were before. On top of that he's said that he wanted to read the whole Book of Mormon before he was baptized, and if he's going to read that much on his own, he's going to get to that point a whole lot faster.

Well, I think that just about covers this weeks cool stuff. Thanks again for everything that everyone does, says, and prays for!

Love, Elder Stuver

Email Update: 1/27/2015--Surprise

Dear Everyone,

So, we are kind of dead right now, so i was able t get permission to send you all a more reasonable letter. We weren't able to email for very long yesterday, becuase the computers were getting updated, and it didn't get done until right before i sent the last letter off. It's good though; these computers were really slow before the guy came. Sounds like people had been downloading videos for family history from a site that had all of those adware things attached to each of the files. Now that that is all taken care of, things actually go the way they are supposed to.

John Day, as you seem to already know, IS in the middle of nowhere, but it DOES have a lot of really cool views and forests. Still not the oaks, maples, or the like, but really pretty none the less. As for the job that Aunt Terierose was talking about, I'd be a little relieved; there is absolutely nothing in the way of shopping, and what little there is is super expencive, maybe 3 to 4 times how much it would even be in a town like Fruitland or New Plymouth, or Vernal. What it does have up here is a lot of really down to Earth people, that care about each other, and use a good bit of common sense. Which puts me in the minority. Common sense isn't typically my forte. It's a good thing a lot of the people like guns and knives, or i wouldn't have anything to talk aabout. That, and the fact that i'm planning on being a mortician. People always have a similar reaction when they hear that---they all make the same "thinking" face, corners of the mouth turned down, and looking at the ceiling. Then, they either make a comment about how buisness will never die, or tell a story about someone that they know who was, is, or was going to be a mortician. One of the best times was last night, when we ate with a part member family named the Martins. Sister Martin had that exact face on, then told about a brother of hers that was going to be a mortician, but instead became a grave digger (apparently there is more money in that in the UK). THEN Brian, her husband, told me about what his family does, something that i'd not heard of, but i knind of agree with.

Brian told me that his family took care of all of the funeral and burial needs of anyone in the family themselves. The next of kin, of the same gender or spouse, would dress the person, laying him or her on a bed in a small cabin. This cabin is located on a family owned cemetary, and the whole family comes to the funeral. No "outsiders" are invited to either the viewing or to the graveside service (though the reception for the community does have other guests), and everyone takes part in the gravedigging and the burial. This all has to take place within 36 hours of the person's death, because they do not embalm. 
The reason that I like this idea so much, is because of how tight knit the family is during the hard time they're all going through. It lends a lot to closure, and to knowing that everyone cared enough about each other, and about the person, to do all of this work. It also takes a lot of the stress, financial and planning, that can come with death and burial. Most of all, in my opinion, with it just being the family, you all understand how people are doing, so you never hear that dreaded question, "Are you OK?" I really like that there are still people that have this close family mentality, especially when it comes to something as hard as death.

My only problem with it is that, if everyone did it, I would be out of a job.

Anyways, that was something that really stood out to me. Something else from that dinner was a comment that jumped at me for a spiritual reason, but not until this afternoon, and the converstation hadn't even been anything remotely spiritual. Brian and I were talking knives and guns. I told him about wanting to learn to make showknives, which ones I had already collected, and the list of guns that i wanted to have at some point. He told me about having a bunch of knives, one that he had actually set aside 200 euro for when he was living in Germany to buy. He also told me about some of his favorite guns, and made some suggestions as to improvements to my list (he looked at me sternly when i said i wanted a 45 Glock, and said, "You're just not aiming that high, are you." When i gave a sheepish nod, he said, "Buy a Colt or a Kimberly. They will last a lot longer, and i can hit a man-sized sillouette from 100 yards with my Colt 45 1911 Frame."). That's about when he said something really profound, probably without realizing it. He said, "There are some things in life that you just need to spend as much as you possibly can for. Knives are one of them."

While I totally agree with him on the knife part of the comment, it was the first part that stood out to me. This afternoon, I was reading The Miracle of Forgiveness by Spencer W. Kimball, and there was a phrase in it that said that, "the rewards are well worth the costs." I started thinking about the story from last night, and the parable that the Savior told about the Pearl of Great Price. Christ told of a rich merchant that, when he found a pearl of great price, that he went and sold all he had, and bought it. There are some things that are worth any price paid. There are some things that you should spend as much as you can on. We are never supposed to give a half effort in living the gospel. We are never supposed to, for example, pay half of our tithing. We are supposed to give all of the service that we possibly can. We are supposed to spend as much of the time we are given, on praying, and on studying the scriptures. It was just really cool that a random conversation about sharp pointies, could lead to that kind of thought process and revelation. I think that that lesson to me, through a nonmember, meant more to me then a lot of more flashy thigs that i've had in my life. 

As for how the rest of the week went, we spent pretty much the whole time trying to contact old investigators and less actives from past missionaries. We actually did really well, if i may be so bold. We were able to meet all but three of the people we wanted to, and have two doorstep lessons while tracting. That part is really cool for me, because I. Hate. Tracting. I've never liked it. I've always been horrible at it. I keep thinking how i would feel if someone came to my door when it's already dark out, trying to tell me that what i believe is wrong, and that i can only go to heaven if i listen to what these two random kids, in suits that barely fit them, tell me to do. Because of this, i say things in a very abrupt, and sometimes impatient, manner. It usually results in my hidden desire; a quick "No thanks," and the door closing. On the other hand, as Elder Reischman has been taking over a little (lot a) bit, we have been having much longer conversations. The two that we were able to teach started with him doing what i should be doing; asking about the person. Offering to help around the house or yard. Actually trying. Luckily, i did catch on, and was a bit bolder, asking if i could share one of my favorite scriptures (Luke 22:41-44). The two time where that happened, we had really good discussions, and were invited back to one of them. (Not really interested right now, but we can try and change that). In other words, I've been slacking, and having the wrong attitude, and i need to fix it.

Well, i think that that fills my promise of a huge letter. Sorry again for such a short one yesterday, and i'll work to not let it happen again. Thanky you all for everything you do, and for all of your prayers.

Love, Elder Stuver