Wednesday, December 23, 2009
OK so MERRY CHRISTMAS!! Tis the season! This has been a crazy time for all of us, running everywhere, trying to get things set up for things, mission conference, etc etc. BUT its been a good week -we had a baptism on saturday! 10 year old Leonidas from El Salvador. smartest kid ever (well, besides our family of course) but yeah, sweet baptism, he actually wanted to get up and say a few words afterwards! Unfortunately we had to fill the font with buckets again... apparently that's "just how you do it" here. Excellent.
Well, I guess we'll start with transfer news - Elder Tetelpa is getting trasferred to STAR VALLEY Wyoming! aka the Death Star, its a whopping -30 degrees up there, and he's going to be in a zebra area (half spanish half english). Gonna miss him, he's one of my most imteresting companions. Gone through a lot of change in a short time, lived pretty wild before the mission. Hearing him turn everything into a rap song was interesting ... hilarious guy. But he needs to go up north! And I'm going to be staying here as a district leader with a new elder. Good kid, from Mexico, convert for a year or so. Speaks little English. He has had a rough mission so far, so I'm a little worried about how I can help him grow and feel comfortable and want to stay here. We shall see. I've felt the Lord's promises to strengthen me lately. I was thinking maybe I'd get a really strong companion and baptize 50 people, but He has different plans. There is a purpose in this, and we will have huge success in any case. It'll be interesting... no more rap or beatboxing though, heheh...
Hmm, well, THANK YOU FOR THE PACKAGES!!! "Frank and Bob's Christmas in a Box" has definitely made the apartment festive!, Thanks frank and bob! I love it - I had made a tree of colored post it notes, but the one you sent is so much better and real! And thank you Royston family! We're anxious to wait till the 25th! Many Elders were jealous of me walking out with so many packages from Mission Conference. THAT was interesting - all 180 missionaries together in one place all day friday. We did a Christmas talent show - the Spanish Zone in the South did a really funny skit about the crazy antics we have to go through trying to get people legally married here so that they can be baptized (welcome to the Spanish program, nightmare... It goes something like this..."No, I'm not married to my girlfriend I've been living with for 12 years. Can't marry her because I'm married in Mexico. No, we can't call her. No phone. Oh, and my girlfriend needs a divorce too. Same deal. Me and my girlfriend have 5 kids." YIKES. The Law of Chastity is always fun to teach! And then we sang "La Bamba" and "Feliz Navidad" to the mission (fun, I know all the words now... "para bailar la bamba se necesita una poca de gracia"...) Other highlights included a movie we made on P day - an Elder Limon from Canada is basically my twin in everything, movie making is a favorite hobby, and he knew a professional movie editor with film equipment, so we made a mock-companionship inventory(where we as companionships evaluate ourselves at the end of the week) and did it kinda like the Office... fun) So yeah, good stuff, it was fun. Crazy to see all my former companions, find out about people we baptized in other areas... Poor Elder Minson got his Dear John, dated and baptized the girl before the mission for 7 years, all he talked about was future plans with her... has 5 months left and she revealed she'd been dating another guy for a year...rough. All who are waiting for a missionary, don't wait till the end to Dear John someone, ouch...
Well, family, I'm excited for Christmas - I have 40 minutes to talk, probably easiest to call in the morning hours, like maybe noon for you? If not, maybe a little later on - I can call at noon and then if its not good just tell me when to call and I'll hang up and try again... and I'll call the house? hmm. Dang. We haven't planned this well. Ok, well, if all is lost and you are somewhere else with a different phone, or soemthing, and we havent been in contact by noon on the 25th, my number is xxx-xxx-xxxx. But I'll try calling you first I guess. Heck, we'll figure it out. Ok, well, love you all! Focus on why we are here, why Christmas is special - remember the Savior! He is real, and he lives. That is the meaning of Chrismtas. Joy to the world!
Love, Elder Thelin
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Haha, sounds like Christmas is pretty crazy at home, as usual, of course! It kinda feels weird without all the concerts and hooplah that you usually go through, but its still Christmas time! We've celebrated with extra activities, watching g rated movies ("Imagine That" with Eddie Murphy was pretty good), a Mission Conference on Friday (no singing Fireside for the public like in June, sad... President isn't very musically inclined...) and yeah, to top it off, transfers on Tuesday. Excellent. I'm very confident I will be staying, so yeah, I'm not worried about adjusting to a new place. But man, thats no fun for all the missionaries that will be transfered... And as for the cold, our zone leaders fixed our heat in our apartment now (ha, yeah, that was dumb, didnt realize it was broken..) so its warmer, and we're not outside tracting too much. It is cold, but not deadly freezing or anything. Thermals and sweaters will do the trick.
This has been a pretty crazy transfer, but fun. Layton is a great place, with great members. There are several families with sons on missions, so they call us frequently to ask if we want food, or this or that - we're cared for. The branch here has over 200 people too! Usually they have less than 80... And- OH yeah, I almost forgot - so the main event of this past week was Oscar - I think I mention him in the last email, he's a 19 year old, and he's living with some members of the branch for a few weeks. He has been to church a ton in other wards, and loves it. He decided he wanted to be baptized, and called us up. The catch is that he had to leave to LA again to his home on Monday. So, we taught him all he needed to know in 7 days! Sweet investigator, good guy. Weird that we taught in Spanglish, and got to know him pretty well. It felt weird talking to someone more our age, getting to know him a little better. Anyways, he always told us that he felt the Spirit when he prayed ("Hey, I felt it again last night!") and read a lot of the book of mormon. Talked a lot about going on a mission someday! Then on Saturday we had the baptism! CRAZY, beacuse when we got there, the font didn't work. Only a trickle of water. After 20 minutes and only an inch of water, we had to switch plans fast - the baptism was starting in like 1 hour, and usually it takes 2 hours to fill normally. So, we opened up all the bathrooms and changing rooms, and found the showers that actually worked... then found all the trash bins that looked cleaner, washed them out, and filled them up, running bucket after bucket to the font, like 10 gallons at a time, for 45 minutes. It was exhausting. Absolutely crazy. BUT it got filled, and was ready at 4:00! Sheesh. And the printer of a member didn't work, so we made a program handwritten, pasting picutres we cut out of a pamphlet to the front and photocopying it. All in all, 40 people showed, including non members, and Oscar was baptized. It was a powerful service, and a sweet experience. The next morning he was confirmed a member of the Church, and received the gift of the Holy Ghost. And now he's gone! CRAZY. But it was sweet, how much the Lord worked through him, and let us work with him!
Haha, is the Hansen's van still in Grandma's yard?
and HAPPY BIRTHDAY Jeffrey, good job getting to 17, and with the play and all. Sounds like the party was fun, stop losing phones...
Amy, get better! Hannakuh is definitely important! (THAT was funny).. as well as Continent Day! Can't have Christmas without em... glad to hear Reagan is still feeling optimisitc.
THANK YOU Magura family for the cookies! I think I didn't mention that last week - they were delicious. We loved them - and they helped keep some elders involved during a district meeting I was teaching, so many thanks! And Grandma Pat, the office called me and told me a christmas elf dropped off a package - and they hand delivered it to Layton - the christmas candy is excellent, it feels a lot more like Christmas with your window candy and almond roca and such, mmmm... thank you! And we're enjoying the extra lunches at McDonalds! Thank you so much! We're going to cash the check as soon as possible!
Well, family, the work is good here. A lot is changing, and things are always getting better. We're finding many people, and people really do want the gospel. We talked with a man who doesn't believe in God, or if He does exist, He surely doesn't love him. We felt inspired to share a scripture - 3 Nephi 9:13-15 - and as we explained that there is a Savior, and He can heal us, his eyes teared up, and he changed his manner of speaking and treating us. He felt it! I know this gospel is true. It is the plan. He IS the Savior, the Messiah, the Way. Heavenly Father lives and loves us, and if we exercise a little faith, the blessings flow.
Merry Christmas to all! Peace on earth, good will to men.
Ps No frank and bob package yet...
PPs The ship began to sink. "EVERYONE IN THE SUB!" cried the penguins. They all went below and zoomed off just as the ship sunk underwater. As they drifted past the ginormous iceburg, Heidi spied something on the bottom. It looked like a cave. "Lets check that out!" said Amy. "I dunno" said Holly. As the sub got closer, they saw...
Ppppps I'll figure out the contacts asap, but havent been able to get to Ogden..,
PPppppppps Elder T says he wants an alarm clock. So he can get up on time. A really loud one, that is difficult to shut off, and by the end, leaves one VERy awake. his exact words were "anything is good", but i think thats what he meant...
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
WOW this week HAS been crazy, on all sides of the Thelin Family. Goodness. Good job surviving the YW in Exellence, plays, birthdays, minor snow flurries, etc! I would love to see that play... in a year and 2 months (where is it going??) Ha, ok family, 4 inches of snow. Ok, so this morning we slept over in Bountiful as a zone to be here for a P day activity. We slept in a church building watching the movie "The Testaments" last night, and slept on the floor. FREEZING. Wake up... about 6-10 inches of snow and still climbing... I'm learning to drive in the snow, new adventure... 10 miles an hour is way fun...
And BOY have we seen miracles this week! This transfer has been a slow one, trying to solve problems here and there, organize the area, life, missionaries... we thought no people were going to be baptized this month. But something clicked after Thanksgiving. We picked up two baptismal dates. Then, another man that has listened for 6 months accepted baptism. Then a 10 year old came from El Salvador, reunited with his family, and wants to be baptized. And THEN a 22 year old who is living here with a family for one more week called and said he wants to know how to become a member of the church. In one week. Baptism scheduled for every Saturday this month now. Miracles. So cool!
When did Jeff get contacts? Was that before my mission? Vague memories of former friends and family...
Sweetness. Other good happenings... we are singing in a Spanish Elders Quorum choir next sunday for sacrament meeting (Elders Quorum is the same in Spanish or whatever language. Funny) I am now playing PIANO for sacrament meetings. Excellent. We found many people this week. Hmm, my apartment is still sweet...
OH so, I'm not sure yet, but I think my contacts are going bad. Rather, my vision is going bad. Grr. I know. I'm an idiot. But I'll see. I can get a free eye exam here, and know a guy that gives missionaries 1/2 off glasses (maybe contacts too...) so, I'm going to check. Heh. Grr.
And hope Heidi's birthday went well! Was it fun? Do you feel old now? Like a teenager? Yikes, you're OLD, and just starting the fun! Happy birthday Heidi, miss you lots! And happy birthday Grandpa! Hope all is well and you are enjoying life! Are you making good use of the saxophone? Funny, I miss playing it sometimes, just want to hear some jazz. And most of all miss coming over to your house and seeing you, Sunday is a little different without that! Hope that your birthday was great, your Christmas is white, and all is filled with the Spirit of Christ!
Congrats Robert on your baptism!
Dad, you're amazing. In the video of our lives, I'm probably hitting replay a lot for your life, to catch the awesomeness of those deep sleep comments... hahahahha... Hilarious stories mom.
Well, family, I love you all very much. I know that this crazy thing I'm doing is true. That God lives. That Jesus Christ is the Savior of the World, the Savior of all people, MY Savior. He forgives, comforts, strengthens and guides. Follow Him. It requires childlike faith. This past week I have grown towards Him. Seek Him out - I know He lives. What mom and dad are teaching you is true. Follow their examples, and remember our Heavenly Father. This is not just a Church - it is the Kingdom of God. It is true. We were sent here to earth to be special, to be strong and brave and righteous, and help all our other brothers and sisters everywhere to come and be happy, and make good choices. Our Heavenly father has given us SO much by giving us our two parents, our cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, this church, friends. I've never appreciated that like I have here. We've grown up in a fairytale, our home has been more like heaven than I realized - there are billions that can't even imagine a home and family like ours. I'm glad to be here to try to change that.
I love you all, and wish you a Happy birthday Jeffrey, happy Day of the Ninja on the 14th, and a very Merry Christmas!!
Love, Elder Christopher Thelin
PS The neverending story....They shuffled on board, and sat down. A few crazy penguins wearing backwards eye patches were lounging around, popping open some sparkling cider and sloshing it everywhere trying to serve up some glasses for the guests (and doggie dishes for the dogs). "What is this?" asked Holly. "This? This is nothing. This is just the old clunker we took to get OVER here. No, my pinkish biped friends - and canines - the REAL gem is down BELOW. The submarine is-" Suddenly ther was a loud boom outside the pirate boat...
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
December 1, 2009
Yolah! How's everyone doing? Happy Thanksgiving! It was weird, this family called us while we were at Grandma's house, who could it have been? Haha, no that was funny, sorry I couldn't talk. Yes, I said "I no a speaky English, Call back on Navidad!". Sorry for being lame and obedient - I considered talking a minute or two, but I felt bad for Elder Tetelpa, that was a huge sacrifice for him, letting me see my family and him not getting to seeing his - I'm not sure if I told you that, but he was born in Vera Cruz Mexico, but he's lived in Salt Lake City - no kidding - for years. Was going to Chicago on his mission, but they switched it last minute. He's kinda affected by that, we can see Salt Lake City from our area, and I think he was feeling like we should just take a 10 minute drive south after Grandma's. But yeah - anyways, it was a good time there! Awkward, ha, feeling like I was back in time or something, but your'e right, it totally helped me recharge and get a fresh perpective on life, remember what it feels like to be with family and not just talk about it. And thanks so much Grandma and Grandma Baer, Kayla, Amber and Sam for helping that all to work out! Hopefully I wasn't too weirded out by seeing family, but it was fun! Pie was EXCELLENT.
Good job on the driving adventure to the bowling alley, Jeffrey. Study the maps, dude. I spent like 100 miles the first day in this area, wrong turn after wrong turn...
I like the talks, that's cool - both good suggestions, sounds like a missionary style talk, hah. WE had to give talks too this weekend, we were preparing for like 7 minutes, then they called and said oh, could you do more like 12 each? Yeah, sure..... but it was good, we spoke about guess what, missionary work. I talked about light - I found an old email you sent mom at the start of my mission, and stole some off that - but talked about the light we have in our lives, how we obtain light when we recieve a testimony, and how we can share the light with others, how their faces change as we teach them. It was fun, and a whole bunch of members loved us after, offering us Christmas dinners and help and referrals. Sweet.... and we had a successful week! We found a bunch of new people, and got two people accepting baptismal dates, which has been a struggle for a while here, but its starting to pick up! Starting to work better and learn how to work here.
HAPPY BIRTHDAY HEIDI!!!! HOW'RE YOU DOING KIDDO??? How the heck are you a teenager? I hope your birthday is awesome Heidi, and you can eat a ton of cake and stuff! I love you a ton, and am always talking about you to people. You're awesome, and I miss you tons!
Allrighty, I gotta go - my comp doesn't email and is ancy waiting for me, so, love you all! I know this is the truth. We are so blessed in our lives it's ridiculous. Jesus is the Christ, and He is here to help us. I'm looking forward to growing closer to Him as Christmas comes closer!
Love, Elder Thelin
PS No string no necklace, Frank and Bob... yet, hah
PPS AND THE SHIP SAILED UP, with the gang watching on the shore. "What's it doing asked Holly. It was turning, and the cannons were turning towards them. "Uh oh" said the Platypii. "What?" said Heidi. "Pirate Penguins..." he said as he put his platypii hands up in the air...
PPPPS Got the address! Very funny Kayla. Thanks for coming all the way to Grandma’s house to give it to me.
PPPPPPs Megan Frary, tsk tsk tsk. She couldn’t wait for me. Hahha.
PPPPPPPS THANKS FOR THE THANKSGIVING PACKAGE AND THE CDS AND THE WAMPUM HEADGEAR AND EVERYTHING-- YOU ROCK!!!
Tuesday, November 24, 2009
First, Jeffrey, what the heck? BERMUDA? MEMPHIS? Good grief. Just slow down there browski... g'jorb.
How are you all?? Sounds like the gang is having usual fun, running around, losing teeth, making impossible plans. Mom, I feel EXACTLY the same with my calling, forgetting to follow through, leaving planners or maps in the apartment (SUCH a sweet apartment, though... I've lived in places we referred to as "caves" - this is the first aprtment I LIKE coming home to, and it has a washer and dryer that 1) don't require money and 2) you can dry more than 1 shirt at a time, sheesh, hated Hyrum for that...) SO yeah, we keep moving forward, doing our best.
I only have a few minutes here, our normal computers were down so we have to use library computers and only have 10 more minutes (like the MTC! sheesh!) We have a short P-day this week because we have all day off on Thanksgiving --playing football as a zone in Bountiful (Elder Minson is now my zone leader, gotta tackle him), then watching like 3 g-rated movies, then to Grandma's! I believe Amber and her esposo are coming down! Should be fun. Exciting to see family!
We ARE blessed here with lessons. Right now we are trying to FIND people, this area is different than other areas, in that there aren't many hispanics. However, this is where Elder Gurrola had his most success, so I'm trying to implement all the stuff I remember him saying here - basically loving the members till they trust us with their friends here. We will have success, it's just going to be tough. And we are likely going to deplete our car miles by next Monday, so we'll be walking... fun...
Good job all on the awards siblings! And the tooth, Ames!
We are praying for Reagan. Her name is on the prayer rolls. I'm amazed by how faithful people are, in all walks of life. We met a man last night, taught us more than anything, not very open, but he was cool, gave us each a little bible... neat... but there are so many cool people. I've noticed with some families that they are so close, they are trying and struggling to raise good families, etc. and I WANT them to have the truth, it's hard. We taught a sweet family, so cool, but last Saturday they announced that they learned a lot, but are fairly happy where they are, and don't want to change their ways. It was pretty hard. We have hope they'll come around, but grrrr..
My companion is calling a number for another free bible from the guy we met. Good grief. Better go.
More than anything, I know Christ lives. He is the Savior. We are weak, and seeing more of that on the mission, but also that through Him we can be stronger. He is the strength and the guide, and we should all be more thankful for that this week and always!
GRACIAS por the package that I'll get! Kayla's address??
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Wow, so I thought last transfer was stressful.... piece of cake...
WELL I'm now here in LAYTON/KAYSVILLE!! Crazy, Elder Gurrola served here in Kaysville before he trained me, and always talked about it. He was here for 6 months, and baptized 20 people, everyone knows about him. He always talked about how to have success here, and also his companion from this area called me from Arizona and told me what to do, so I'm not completely lost... ok, thats a lie, I'm completely lost. My companion Elder Tetelpa has been out 5 months, and only 1 in this area, and barely knows the way around, so I am mastering the art of the u-turn, and am not sure where and where it is not illegal....
And I am leader over the Bountiful Spanish area! Cool, because I was just down there yesterday doing baptism interviews! HEY ok so Thanksgiving: We had an idea, and I just called my President and he approved it without any problems. I have permission to go eat Thanksgiving dinner at Grandma's -provided my companion is there, there is a man over 18 years old present, and a man gives us a ride there! I don't know what kind of plans Grandma has for thanksgiving, so if there is something else, that's ok - but I'd love to take a vacation for a few hours to Bountiful! I would need to call her, to talk about this, but don't have a number... I'd love to call all of you, but you'll have to wait till Christmas! I don't know if this is all possible, but on my end its ok. Grandma, if you could, could you call us in the near future? Alright, parents, um, this is my number, but you can't post it or call it, don't be tempted.... xxx-xxx-xxxx.....We'll see what happens....
Well, all in all its been a good week, the Lord is blessing this area and preparing us for something awesome. My first night here we taught an open house to the Layton branch, whoever wanted to come could come, and we taught about where we were before this life, what is our purpose, where are we going, and how families can be together forever. It was great - I read the words of Familias Puedan Ser Eternas (Families can be together forever) and made it very personal - kinda neat, next time you read that song, make it a personal statement. It was very spiritual. Afterwards we found one lady there who wasn't a member of the church who had been going through Utah and stopped at her daughter's house, and for some reason decided to stay with her for a few months instead of moving on. "I don't know why, I've never done this, but I felt like I should..." Sweet.....
Also a drunk guy said he loved us...
I have the sweetest apartment, two floors just to us, so nice... and a new 2009 Corolla, which I'm using up its miles quite quickly...
We will be praying for Reagan. I don't understand either, but I know there is a plan. Its all only temporary, and our response is what counts. Keep the faith, Reagan is the example. I don't know their family real well, but our hearts are going out to them. Faith, even when it seems impossible.
That's cool about the temple; I've seen that, that when we go, we feel and learn what we need at the time. I learned more this morning in the temple than ever before. Seeing how the Savior is the center there, and how the family is the focus. It was sweet, felt very good about it.
We're laughing at the mousetrap story, Mom, hahaha....
Dad, yes I am loving the District Leader calling. I'm terrible at it, and trying to balance that responsibility, as well as my responsibility for myself, my companion's well being (he's from Mexico, but has lived in Salt Lake City for 15 years... ) and all the people we teach here... overwhelming, for sure, but its revamped my outlook on life. As a leader, we look at people, and evaluate their strengths, their weaknesses, and plan to train and help and reach out to people in the ways that will best help them overcome their weaknesses and become what we have in mind for them. Its a scaled down version, but I've understood better maybe how fathers feel, Bishops, the Pres. Monson, and even Heavenly Father and the Savior feel sometimes. This is the work that counts - taking a life and working in the right way to help them choose to grow. I'm no good at it, but I'm seeing more. I know that He has prepared so much, "trainings", challenges, all to build up a part of me that is weak. This week I've felt closer to the Savior. I'm evaluating with Him what are my weaknesses, and trying to see how He's working on those,so I can conciously use it to the maximum benefit. That's the goal -I've realized the sacrifice Jesus Christ made for me, its become a little more real for me, and I want to live so that I contribute the minimum possible to that suffering. I know that He lives. I know that He is giuding us, all of us. When we submit, we grow. And I know this gospel is true. 4 people committed to be baptized yesterday. We shared the experience of Joseph Smith's first prayer, and asked them how they felt afterwards. A little 8 year old girl said happy. We all felt it empowering the room - the Holy Ghost warming our hearts. As the member we brought bore testimony, she cried and explained what she was feeling. They all chose to follow those feelings and prepare to be baptized and washed clean of their sins. I know that Jesus Christ lives, and this is His Church, with the power and authority to baptize, and bring us back Home. Never forget it!
Amy, enjoy the Wampum Belts! Holly, have fun at Jamestown! Jeffrey, just don't drive crazy... Heidi, keep being cool.
I love you all, and am praying for you - friends and family, even if I'm not very consistent at writing.
Love, Elder Thelin
PS: Love the pit bull story - real quick, Elder here from El Salvador from a few years ago: he carried this machaete everywhere for some reason, (reminded me of Stefan when when we were 12) and well, once the two Elders got a referral, and went to go knock the door. A HUGE vicious dog was on the porch, and wouldn't let them pass. The American Elder said "Well, too bad. Lets go..." The Elder from El Salvador said "Nothing will stop the work of the Lord." And he went up, confronted the wild beast, and stabbed it in the throat! then knocked on the door. They weren't home, but they could say at least they tried.... yikes....
I personally haven't met a dog that likes us, I think its the ties...
Pps have fun at the climbing gym, be careful...
Pppppps Dad, like the "US Public Sector, Homeland Security" Title... are you still working at all for the Dept of Immigration? Just curious...
PS2 The pizza smelled delicious, and the gang was chowing down. Suddely everything went dark... a shadow covered the sun. "Uh oh" said Holly. "The squirrel says its a..." AND the GIANT TOUCAN of the ANDES CAME DOWN, AND, IN ONE BITE, SCOOPED UP THE PIZZA... AND EVERYONE WITH IT!!!! "This is not good," said Heidi matter of factly...
C-3PO Hey! President said we could use those burned CDs - if you still have the ones I sent, feel free to send em back!
AND I need Kayla's address, daggone it, I've tried sending letters but they come back - Kayla, is there a apt # that you forgot to put on the letters???
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
WEEEEELL, I've been quite anxious here, waiting to see what would happen with this transfer. It's been a good transfer here in Hyrum/Brigham City. Elder Baquedano is a n amazing person, I've learned so much from him, and not sure if I've done enough teaching to HIM, but it was a fun transfer - my son, out to face the mission on his own now, yikes. Way cool person though, I'll miss his support. And also this transfer, Lupe and Maria baptized, three of their kids, and possibly another baptism on the way. The branch is way excited and friendly, and love us here. We saw all the support this past Sunday - people willing to help, asking for us to teach their families, etc. The only sad part is... I'm leaving. I'm being sent down SOUTH, to be a District Leader in LAYTON. My new comp will be Elder Tatelpa, from Salt Lake City - weird huh? I remember his first day in the mission, so this should be fun!
Other than that I have no new info about transfers, but we'll see where it goes. I have a lot of goals for this transfer that's coming up. I've grown so much this past 6 weeks, spiritually, in obedience, in humility - I have learned that I am very weak and can't accomplish anything alone on my own, without the Lord's help. The Lord wanted to make that quite clear I think - there's been days where I've worked and worked, stressed and called people, and knocked doors and all that, but maybe didn't trust in a miracle... and nothing happened. Rejection. But in the moments when we've stopped and prayed, and humbled ourselves, and asked for HIM to finally do something, only then did we find someone, or have ANY success. This weekend was full of that - Saturday, all lessons cancelled, everything fell through. We sat in a trailer park in the car and prayed. We felt good about a trailer we'd never knocked, so we went up and knocked it at like 8 pm (do YOU all think 8 pm is too late to knock on your door? It's a dilemma, we don’t want to be annoying, but we need to work till 9....) and the lady who answered let us right in. "Elders! C'mon in!" We found out she is a member, and met her husband, who looked a little familiar. "Are you a member?" we asked.
"NO. The missionaries come and go, for 20 years they've tried to get me to pray about that Jose Smith guy."
"Have you done it?"
"Yeah, and nothing happened. You're all liars. You don't feel anything."
We then spent about 10 minutes trying to prove things to him by the scriptures, and he confounded US. I realized we were going about it the wrong way, and the wrong spirit was there, of contention. We stopped, and my companion bore testimony, then I bore testimony. I've only felt the spirit bear testimony through me that strong a few times, but it was really strong. We commited him to pray and ask with a sincere heart, with real intent to follow God's answer, whatever it may be. We sang him a hymn, and closed with a prayer, praying for him and his family to receive answers and accept the gospel.
After we closed, we heard the wife say, "Yeah, sorry, my husband likes to mess with the missionaries like that..." and noticed he was smiling. I didn't have time to react, we were out the door. I just sat down in the middle of the street and laughed. Thought about it and realized they go to our branch! Sheesh, what kinda weird joke is that? Wasted 40 minutes, but then again, we learned some things about teaching, and felt the Spirit, and they did too. God works in mysterious ways... and then the next morning, all the investigators didn't come to church, but that lady who hasn't come to church in 40 years, she came! We were saying in the car "Oh we should go invite Irma" and suddenly her car pulled up! She loved it, and was loved by all the Sisters there. Also, new people came for the first time that WE don't even know. And well, so went the weekend, people coming out of nowhere, people who had slammed the door in our face becoming humbled and letting us in to teach them and help their lives, people coming to activities...
We had a family home evening last night - ha, funny, we invited an investigator, and had it at our branch president's house. We swung by there early to explain what we had planned...but they told us "Oh great guys, just in time, we just finished planning our lesson!" Great......and then proceeded to tell us this huge long complicated explaination of deep doctrinal subjects, and then finishing by saying to us, "Like I say, we have to teach them like they are children, so they understand - if you teach YOUR part simply, and I KNOW we'll teach OUR parts simply, I think this'll turn out great! So, where are these investigators?" I think my prayer was leaning towards them not coming at that point, gotta love Utah, ... so we started the family home evening without investigators. But just as the 8 yr old son of the family said the prayer, the doorbell rang... a family we'd invited in passing but had never even gotten past the door to teach---CAME! MIRACLE! God brought them there.... and they got an overdose of doctrine, but still, God had a reason for them being there, so.... dear family and friends, if you EVER have investigators in your home to hear the gospel DON'T try to explain ANYTHING that your 3 year old won't understand. The gospel of Jesus Christ is simple. Keep it that way! "I prayed, I felt the Spirit, I know its true" - that will suffice... and if you share personal experiences you don't need details about how many tamales you were making for a party or the economical state of California in the year 1997, or over-emphasis in how the wicked state of the Lamanites would make a pretty scary movie in theaters. (all have happened...). Just a note that will make other missionaries quite happy. Heh. Yikes.
So yeah! Ok, well, what else? Oh, your welcome for the cd says Sister Jones - at least, that's what she told me in the store, I'll prob never see her again, but that was a nice thing of her. I personally like the peanut butter song...
Jeffrey, ur face is capacious (NO idea what that means... and yes, maldad is "bad" in Spanish, more like bad-ness...) congrats on regionals!
Heidi, save the video on Fungus for me, sounds classic!
Good job Holly, following the Spirit - I loved your letter! It was so cool! I'm glad the party went well, and hope you had a fun birthday! Don't get TOO old while I'm gone! A man here who got baptized on your birthday wishes you a happy birthday too!
Bishop Henry sounds like a super bishop. Follow his counsel. We must raise our spirituality, that is true. We had a Zone Study yesterday with our zone leaders. Very spiritual. They are working to help us be better missionaries. We talked about obedience, and how important it is. We want to bind the Lord by our obedience, EXACT in all things. Not just to mission rules, but to all the Lord commands throughout our lives. We won't ever be perfect here, but we need to WANT to be, desire it with all our hearts, and feel sad when we slip. If we become casual, it’s not good. None of us can afford that. Follow the counsel we receive. I know we are blessed when we give our all. The Spirit was very strong in that room as we bore our testimonies. this is the Lord's work. We are here for a short time on earth, and we are NEVER alone. Trust. I've felt the Lord pouring out blessing I don't deserve, teaching me through my mission, and showing me things, showing He IS there, and won't give up on me. Numbers 12: 5 and 9 are cool.
We'll be praying for all the people you mentioned in your letter, Mom. And Cookie the hamster.
Side note, check out pg 96 of the Ensign, I know them all, the missionary on the right of the page is Elder Leavitt, my Zone Leader for my whole mission, and a good friend! Weird, huh?
I'm writing to Stefan... and everyone...
I love you all, thank you for all you do for me. You are all in my prayers, and I hope you are all happy and well. Never give up, never surrender, and smile daggone it! I'm truly grateful to be on the Lord's errand.
Love, Elder Chris Thelin
PS and the FUNGUS WAS UPON THEM! Giant mushrooms were rolling down the mountain! And...
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
How's it goin? Sounds like life is still normal and crazy, huh? YES, it did snow here - stopped us from driving through the canyon to Brigham, we felt really bad about going, so we turned around - the snow is coming, oh boy... Dad, all the precautions that you were warning me about and that I wasn't paying much attention to - grips on shoes, extra coats, scarfs, etc - well, you knew what you were talking about, sorry. Should be absolutely delightful, whee...
YES, I did get the package with all of Amy's baptism pictures! The talks are awesome, the pics look great- Amy was very cute - I mean cool - and I was excited to see part of the day! Ha, that was cool, I did write that down about my baptism. Excellent, because I REMEMBER feeling that way, but I have proof now! I talk a lot about that day with people, so I'll start enhancing it now.
AND the Halloween package! Got there on Friday! Very nice. We loved carving a tiny pumpkin, I managed to get a sweet Angel Moroni carved in while we were stuck at home. Ha, I agree with Ryan, Halloween is weird, not the same spirit as Christmas - its hard teaching a gospel message with a zombie on the doorstep with you... and Jeff, clever. Facebook sheesh.
On our end here, we had a sweet Sunday - the five people who were baptized were confirmed. Also a new baby was blessed, and after we bore testimonies. I felt the Spirit way strong there, we got up and testified to the 5 and also the other woman who was baptized in September that they were in the right place, that they were feeling the Spirit. Way powerful. We were quite excited for them.
Congrats Jeff on track! Don't hurt yourself, but keep going for it! Heidi, excellent with the chorus! Amy, keep making goals! and HOLLY! Happy birthday, kiddo! What do you think you're doing turning 10??? You're not supposed to grow up! Horse shows, and all - you're turning into a pretty cool kid, and I wish I could be there Sunday! I love you muchly, and hope you have a wonderful birthday. Keep being cool and I love you very much!
Well, sweet - we're anxiously awaiting the transfers next week, I refuse to believe time moves the same in Utah, seems so much faster, but we'll go with the flow. This Gospel is true. I know it is true. Jesus Christ lives. We talk a lot about Him, about how He heals, He can redeem us, but its more than just talk. Its true. He is willing to forgive, He is willing to stand by us, to lift us, comfort, empower. I have a strong testimony that when we try to go it alone, nothing works - in this mission, in all of the Lord's work, success is only acheived through HIS help. I've seen that here; when I am prideful, and concerned with my numbers, my lesson plan, my responsibilites, my my my, NOTHING happens. I break my back and do a whole lot of what I think is right, and NOTHING turns out. Faithful investigators cancel, baptismal dates are lost, people don't come to Church... and then comes the humbling moments where it all comes clear again and we pray for HIM to make it work out. Last night that basically happened, and we stopped at 8:30 outside a house, feeling maybe we should knock, but maybe not, so we get out, and a random little old man speaking spanish walks out of the woods and toward the house, so completely random in that part and that time in the cold, and we talked and then he told us to talk to his friend too, so we'll see where it goes. Crazy. But I know He lives. We're not alone here, He is going to lead us along.
Listen for that love, seek that peace and companionship. It all sounds nice, and its beautiful when it becomes a reality. We need to take our troubles to Him, and let Him fix them all. He lives, and loves us, and He will never leave us. THis is His Gospel, His Church, His power.
Alllllrighty, family, I love you all, happy birthdays and pagan holidays and luck and prayrs to all!
PS Fortune cookie: Even the Greatest of Whales is Helpless in the middle of the Desert. I figure its inspired. They got tired of "Riches will appear in an unforseen avenue" and all that jazz...
PPS E Gurrola's address... oops
PPPS Coat works, and I found boots as an apt treasure, we'll see what happens as it freezes over more here... thermals and such will be a must..
PPPPs THE SQUIRREL SAID: "Squeak squeaker sqeak sqeaken" Holly lit up and began to jabber away with the squirrel. The llama was trying to get Heidi to change him back into a human, and was very persistent. "I CANT DO THAT!" Heidi said. "I don't know how, ok? Hey, stop eating my sleeve! CUZCO, cut it out!" Suddenly, the shouting echoed in the valley. The group looked up the mountain side and saw... an army of Inca indians! coming right down towards them. "GREAT. THIS guy again," said Cuzco. A man was running in front of them, wearing a pretty cool fedora, carrying a pretty ruby red crytal, and trying to whip the Indians behind him and dodge the spears. "What's he shouting?" asked amy. "Sqeaker sqeak!" said the squirrel. Holly translated "Mr. Squirrel says he think he's saying RUN...."
Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Sweet to hear about Amy's baptism! That's really cool! Sounds like it was really special. Keep that COMFORTER nearby! The "spiritual toolbox" sounds like a sweet object lesson - I'm not allowed to stay up till 5am (sometimes I get UP then) so my genuis is forced to be used in the thick of the day... I'm excited about the singing you did, when I get home maybe we'll have a Thelin quintet? Congrats Amy!!!
Speaking of baptism, last week we weren't sure, but as it worked out, we had FIVE baptisms on Sunday night!!!! Two sisters, and three of their children, were baptized! They were all related to the family that was going to be baptized but moved to California. This family has come since September, kids sang in the Primary program, etc. It was sweet. They were all there on time dressed in white! They chose members from the ward for all the program, to give the talks, the baptism, etc. Ha, the man who baptized them is our branch mission leader, from Dominican Republic - speaks very loud with a voice of authority, kinda dramatic. "LUPE REYNOSO! HABIENDO SIDO COMISIONADO..." Funny. But good baptism. One of the older people that went to California came back to see it! And just about all the branch came to support them. Way cool.
OK, not much time: maintenance: Yes, got the package! Thank you! Waffle bowl died, but it still tastes good! You could send a card with the song on it, prob won't play in MY camera, but maybe my comps... cassettes are allowed too, but I don't have a player..
Music I can listen to: just about everything. EFY, Motabchoir, LDS artists... music I've looked at might be "trek" ,"Reflections of Christ sountrack" (look it up, heard it was cool, sweet photography project...) and really anything that looks cool! Music always welcomed!
Ok, well, I've got lots of thoughts, and comments, but good luck on everything, stay firm and learn from each day. I really can't remember life without being focused on important things, hopefully its possible to stay focused... get more sleep! Important! snowed here for first time, winter may be reeeeeeeally fun... and cold... wash hands, swine flu is scary, haven't received vac's but might, mission is trying to order them. Pray and don't worry... WAIT is it a RENTAL spaceship car you are talking about, or is it really OURS? Every sheep is way important, help them all! Good job JEFF, keep it up, that's my browski, Jeffrey BEASTLIN (my nickname here now...)
LOVE YOU ALL! I know its true. Jesus Christ lives. This is His Church. I've felt it confirmed to me over and over. I have a testimony of agency, we CAN always choose the right. DO IT!
Love you all!
Elder Thelin the Christopher Beastlin
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
What's up? Hope everything's ok with everyone, and everyone's well! Sorry I couldn't send an email yesterday, we had our Pday on Wednesday this week, so we couldn't get to use the computers till now. Ah well!
Amy! Congratulations on the baptism! It was cool, WE actually went to a baptism on Saturday too! A little boy was being baptized in the branch - his family was baptized a year ago, but he was only 7 and wasn't able to - it's hilarious, because in their baptism photo last year, all are there with big smiles except for little Steven, and he's looking quite sad and disappointed, looking down. Now, he finally turned 8, and was jumping up and down to be baptized - before they closed the curtains on the font we could all hear him say "ALL RIGHT!!" I was asked to speak about the Holy Ghost. It was cool, I got to talk about how, 2000 miles away, my little sister was ALSO getting baptized! That's really cool Amy, we're all proud of you! I hope everything went well - the pic didn't work on the computer, but I'll await the package from mom. Speaking of, thanks for the package with my contacts and treats! I ate all the candy corn before taking pics of the boat, but we'll see what we can do. The cd's are a lifesaver, we were going crazy with the same 2. We're allowed to have just about anything, Tabernacle Choir, EFY, various piano, Viva la Vida, Jack Johnson..... ok, well, almost anything... but yeah, MoTab is fine, one missionary has like all classical music known to man, even some Disney soundtracks, like Narnia... its all up to the missionary, basically, whether its going to inspire, or just be entertainment and distraction.
Hmm, what else... we've done a lot of traveling... we got a call from a man in Malad Idaho, saying there is A spanish woman there, could we go teach her? So, we went... LONG ways away, we didn't think we covered even that area, but apparently we do. There are roughly 300 people in Malad, its fairly barren - check out some pics on the internet - but there was one lady from Peru there who told her English husband she'd love him forever, and he told her that could be arranged, ha, so now she is very interested in being sealed to her family in the temple, only she is moving to Baltimore on Saturday, so we won't see her baptized. :( It's all good though. Also, we had a Zone Conference, and learned much, then had a SPANISH Zone Conference in Ogden, and learned some things specific to the Spanish program. Swine flu is a big problem here too- we have 20 missionaries quarantined - we're not supposed to shake hands or touch anyone, and we wash our hands continuously. 4 English Elders above us are quarantined for 7 days. In one apartment. I think they're going crazy, and their songs they sing are growing more interesting each day...
Hmm, bueno, this week.... oh, well, funny how much damage 2 missionaries can do - we heard something about stake conference [a "stake" contains several congregations, so this is like a special area meeting he is talking about] coming up, and told all our investigators and half the branch it was this weekend. Spent the whole week drawing maps to the stake center, explaining how it was at a different time and everything, and how everyone could sleep in a little. WELL, get a call about 8 am on Sunday, a little something like "HEY ELDERS, WE JUST FOUND OUT IT'S NOT STAKE CONFERENCE TODAY! IT'S NEXT WEEK!" I guess we heard the announcement wrong. And so commenced the next hour of desperately driving and trying to wake everyone up and tell them... I thought we did pretty good, got 6 of them to church, so...
Also, really cool, remember that guy Moises (Moses) I wrote about? His best friend is an American lady, Sister Danielson, who lives in the trailer next door, and she doesn't speak Spanish, and he doesn't really speak English, but they talk through hand signs and pocket dictionaries and a few words here and there - we've taught Moises for like 3 months now. He's a slow progresser, feels unworthy to do just about anything religious, wouldn't even say prayers for a long time. Well, recently, he's been saying a prayer - a quick one, but still a prayer - every day before work. He's quit drinking altogether in 3 months. Also, he reads the Book of Mormon some. We taught him a lesson over at Sister Danielson's trailer, our last there for awhile as she has to go to Texas for the next 2 months. A few days earlier she woke up in the night thinking the thought Moises is getting baptized. We felt the same when we did weekly planning. Also, all Saturday when we saw members, they asked "Hey, how's Moises doing? He going to get baptized?" When we called to confirm the appointment, he sounded happier and more friendly than I've ever heard him, he was making jokes, asking about how our work was going, encouraging us to keep teaching people... 10 minutes before the appointment, we felt again that he was ready, just not sure how to approach it... I've never wanted someone to be baptized so much, this man has shared all kinds of things, and seems to feels he's lower than the dirt, just unworthy and can't change, just seems burdened. Baptism is the key, lift all the burdens and come unto Christ to be healed. We taught a principle, and he revealed his doubt, why he feels so terrible. We were so grateful that, instead of judging him, the member missionary with us explained that Christ can heal us, and we opened the Book of Mormon to Alma 7:14-15.
14 Now I say unto you that ye must repent, and be born again; for the Spirit saith if ye are not born again ye cannot inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore come and be baptized unto repentance, that ye may be washed from your sins, that ye may have faith on the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sins of the world, who is mighty to save and to cleanse from all unrighteousness.
15 Yea, I say unto you come and fear not, and lay aside every sin, which easily doth beset you, which doth bind you down to destruction, yea, come and go forth, and show unto your God that ye are willing to repent of your sins and enter into a covenant with him to keep his commandments, and witness it unto him this day by going into the waters of baptism.
I love this scripture - powerful, and explains why we need to be baptized. He read it, and then said "Actually, I've thought a lot about this lately. I know this is what I need to do. I actually made the decision about 3 weeks ago, I just wanted to know some more." It was crazy, it was so happy, translating that to Sister Danielson ("He WHAT?") The ONLY thing is he wants to wait until she gets back form Texas so now we have to wait till December to baptize him. But this'll be good, give him time to come to church on his own, without Sis. Danielson, and make some friends (he's really shy). But it was a crazy Saturday, we just have to keep him on a spiritual high for 2 more months...
Well, family, I don't have much more. Just that I know its all true! I've felt more spiritual this week than ever before in the mission, opening my heart to the Spirit, I know we've been directed to homes, invited the Spirit, helped people feel it. I know that this is the Church of Jesus Christ. I know He will come one day. I've thought over that a lot, how its all winding down to the end. Imagine that morning, after all the fury of the world, all the wickedness and darkness giving its last rage before being taken from the earth, and then the stillness. The light. The Savior returning. Imagine being there on that morning, having weathered the test of life, and passed, standing with the strong, the faithful, the proven, and hearing His voice as He embraces you, with tears in His eyes, saying "Well done." I want to be there. We can all be there. We are His children, and He will never leave us if we come unto Him. He answers prayer, and can do miracles. I know its true!
Have a wonderful week all, I'm praying for you!
JAMIE, got a letter for ya, but don't know your EMU address...
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Sorry about the lost pictures, Mom. Sometimes we gotta shrug and let things go right? Like our baptisms last week. And the fact that I forgot to get a receipt for gas yesterday that I needed to give to the mission office. And now I must account for. Haha. Whoops...
Well, yup, its been a fairly crazy week here too. Working, singing, talking to EVERYONE (new theme here for us, before we tried to do 10 unplanned contacts a day. President Olson declared that if we don't have 10 unplanned contacts a day, thats pathetic. So we speak to EVERYONE. Including pulling over the car to talk to walkers, shouting across lawns, etc., etc. Intense. Missionary license. And Elder Baquedano is pretty awesome. He grew up in Mexico City for 13 years, then moved to Las Vegas. Unlike Elder Muro he didn't lose his Spanish - we talk just about 95% in Spanish now, which is a blessing for my Spanish. I actually think in Spanish a lot - the other day I was imagining a conversation between me and Jeffrey and Dad, then realized that in my mind Jeffrey was using words like "entonces" or "loquisimo"... and it occured to me that Jeffrey has never had that conversation with me because he's never spoken Spanish with me, so I was translating in my head... yeah... weird. Probably means my mental processes are like moving at half the speed, but hey, whatever.
HEIDI, stop being sick. That's always a bad idea. It's not fun, and it's not cool. So stop that. Ha. Man, that's no good! You gotta get better quick kiddo. No, we don't have too much of "the swine" here, but we are trying to keep clean. I'll start using more hand sanitizer again. And I've heard that the shot is scary, so careful with that. And sweet about Reagan! Amazing! I regularly put people on the prayer rolls at the temple, and we pray for all of you, so I'm glad she's well. Grandma too!
And WHOOO AMY! That's so exciting! Your baptism is on Saturday? That's so cool! Fun! I talk about my baptism all the time with people. Baptism is really cool. It's one of the best feelings in the world. You're going to love it. You just feel really clean and happy, like you're wrapped up in a warm blanket. It's been like 12 years since I was baptized, but I still remember it. The Holy Ghost will warn you of things, help you remember things, help you feel happy when you are sad, help you calm down if you are nervous, and will be like a best friend inside you. I am so glad you are excited, and are going to be baptized! That night, write down in a safe place how you feel - I forgot to do that, and wish I had it written down. But a long time from now, you will want to read that and remember how you felt. It will be a great day. I love you Amy, and am so glad you are part of my family. Good luck, dude!
Speaking of baptisms and confirmations, we had the privilege of confirming Adrianna after 2 weeks! She is now a full-fledged member of the Church of Jesus Christ! She is happy, and hopefully more of her family will follow! Her sister's husband came to Church for the first time on Sunday - he promised EVERYONE he'd come - before he never came because he said "la cama siempre gana" or the bed always wins. Good grief. It was pretty good though. Also, we met a lady that was offended 40 years ago, and left the Church. We taught her, and I was on exchanges with a greenie, Elder Brown - he is still learning Spanish, and trying hard to talk. I turned to him, and he started just giving his testimony. It was very simple, but one fo the msot powerful testimonies of the truth I ever felt. She was crying. A little later we gave her a blessing for some health problems, and she cried again, and told us she felt a peace and joy she hasn't felt for years, and then, in a firm voice, declared she would not miss another Sunday. She is going to Church this Sunday no matter what, even if she's dying, even if the world's ending, NO MATTER WHAT. It was super cool. We've had a lot of spiritual experiences like that this week, where I know that people felt what we said is true. It's true! The Spirit testifies.
Dad, cool, you're going to be a boatsman, eh? The many sides of Gordon Thelin... just don't be too crazy with the money...
Well, yup, life is crazy, not quite used to these responsablities, but I can see how the Lord is trying to stretch me, and what I'll learn from all this. Just means a lot of working and changing to get there. I still think just imparting pure knowledge instantaneously is easier, but I guess it's something we have to work through. The Lord has a plan, and we are able to do all He hands to us, even if we don't think we can. And it sure looks like we can't sometimes. I guess that's the secret. We learn WE can't, but HE can, and humble ourselves enough to let Him work THROUGH us. We should never fear or doubt our potential in this life. As a general authority told us at BYU, "God is for us, Christ accomplished the Atonement for us, and the Spirit is with us." Can't fail. 2 is a majority when one of them is the Lord. Just need to lean on that Rock, and learn to stay there. This Gospel is true. God has given so much for us to build upon. I am thankful for the Book of Mormon and the Bible. I am thankful for the faith of Joseph Smith that was so strong - like a rock, he knowlingly faced persecution, faced all hell and earth could throw at him, and as a Prophet of the Lord Jesus Christ weathered it all in defense of the truth, for us. I am thankful for the temple, and the promises we are given there. And most of all, I am thankful for the Savior, and for all He has given and made possible. We can grow and live and change and have hope because of Him. I know He lives.
Well, love you all so much! Take care, don't get SICK, and love life!
Love, Elder Christopher Thelin
PS Calc is crazy, just look it up online...
PPS Jeffrey--WRITE about SNRa Johnson, haha, funny lady
PPPS I lost Kayla and jaime's addresses - can someone send them? I want to write, but cant
PPPPS MUSIC- we have none here.... the 2 other EFY cds are in the white shelves in DVD like cases. I'm not sure if I have any other that's appropriate, but I'll think... could you send those with the contacts? THANKS!
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Oh MAN, this week was different. The Lord likes to stretch us, even if we aren't very elastic-like. Like, I feel like I'm a rock or something and He's taking me and starting to pull.... cause He sure dumped about as big a change as He could on me. DISTRICT LEADER? A TRAINER? I'm still trying to get used to just being a senior companion and leading a single area, let alone be worried about 4 Elders, reporting, making significant decisions for people's lives, and being the perfect example in everything for the other missionaries etc., etc., etc. It's sure going to change my mission though. I think it is exactly what I need at this point, but it sure feels like the Lord is doing an Elder Thelin Overhaul here...
Well, let's start last week around Wednesday morning. Get up before dawn to drive the hour down to Ogden. SNOWING. Yes, SNOWING. Get down there, go to the big meeting for all the Trainers with President Olson. Intense. (He asked us to pattern our training on what OUR trainers did. Hahahahahahahahah, I haven't started attacking things in the apartment at random with kitchen knives or started calling my Greenie "Billy" or anything like that.... yet... ha, Elder Gurrola was so great!) Then we had a District Leader training, also intense. I have a greater view of accountability and stewardship now, looking at 4 Elders and determining what my actions can do, all the time, to lift and better them. Still working on that one...
Then I meet: Elder BAQUEDANO!! (Bah-kay-dah-no) He's from Mexico City, but more recently from Las Vegas. Cool guy, he's on fire. Working hard to talk to everyone, really sincere, bigger than I am, has a brother who decided to serve a mission at the same time, and they both started the same day, were comps in the MTC, and he is serving in Salt Lake City South, crazy! So now we are speaking almost entirely in Spanish. I'm turning fluent, yesh...
But yeah, really good, we're working hard here. Not easy, but good! And what a crazy first day - we made the voyage back to Hyrum in Cache Valley, driving quite slow through the blizzard, got home, then began to tract immediately. Oh, I forgot: as a zone, we only get so many miles to drive a month - and, although WE still had like 800 miles left to spare, by the time everyone in the ZONE made the 100 mile round-trip to Ogden, the zone had used them up, so when we got back, well, we had to walk. In the freezing rain and snow. Like, miles. It was a blast. Luckily we got a ride to our REALLY far appointment (tip: find out what state of mind people are in BEFORE you ask for a ride. Explanation given when this man picked us up: (in Spanish) "OK ELDERS, we have 20 minutes." "Why?" "Because I just drank a lot of Nyquil for my headache, and I'm going to be asleep in 20 minutes." Luckily the appointment was only 15 minutes away. Yes, we learned our lesson. Heh.)
And yeah, so far we're doing good. Difficult, but the Lord is changing us. It has been one of the most stressful and intense weeks of the mission, but I have also felt the Spirit a lot, and had some wonderful experiences. Yesterday is the example: Monday apprarently was REALLY Monday for the whole WORLD, because we started out by losing 2 appointments. Then, we stopped by the two older people we've been teaching, Araceli and Igancio Alvarado. They have a baptismal date for Sunday. They informed us that they had a problem and it was neccesary for them to go to California. And probably MOVE THERE. Gone. They're like family to us, so nice - I can't tell you how many tamales she gave us - but that's how it is. I was pretty frustrated, but my comp told me not to worry. As we drove past another house on the way out, he pointed out they were home, and we had missed an appointment with them the day before. So, we stopped, and, well, they were home, and we taught them a lesson. The Spirit was strong. Sometimes people don't listen and don't seem sincere after, but this time when we asked how they felt, they seemed changed, and really had felt the Spirit. Just after we had another small miracle and met the husband of a lady we want to teach, and he set up a appointment.
Later that night I was feeling way stressed. Everything fell through. We said a prayer. I began by explaining to the Lord how hard everything was... and then stopped. Then apologized, and began to thank Him for everything that was going so well. It was amazing, because as we did this, the phone rang, and it was a miracle we'd been only half expecting. Then we drove to a house, and it was dark. A name came to mind, so we drove to another house, and this 19 year old, Abel, from Guatamala that we've never taught before was HOME. We taught him about the Restoration. Again, we asked how he felt. He said "Different. Something... I can't explain this feeling." It was powerful.
SO, tough week, but learning a lot. Gratitude, and positivity. Diligence, and faith. The Lord can do it all - it's just hard to let go and trust.
HAHA, I laughed really hard at Amy's comment. [When we told Amy about Christopher's new responsibilites she said with great skepticism, "They want CHRIS to be a leader? Of other missionaries? (and then whispering) Do they KNOW that Chris flooded the church and broke an ancient stained glass window?"] That's hilarious. I'm trying to do better with floods and stuff. And I really couldn't finish reading what you wrote about the annual closing up the pool conversations between Dad and Jeffrey from under the deck, I was crying so hard laughing. Holy cow, Mom, that was funny, and typical. I do miss those good old days, but not so much crawling in the mud under that deck... (don't we ALWAYS do it between Saturday conference sessions?)
Wasn't Conference good? Admittedly, I missed out on some because in Spanish its a little harder to follow, but I saw some in English - Elder Holland's was amazing. "I want it to be written down in history before God, angels, and men that I testified to the world in the plainest language I know that I KNOW THE BOOK OF MORMON IS TRUE!" ('Safety for the Soul'). Apparently all the people watching in Spanish could hear his voice over the translators... also thought it was cool that there is a TEMPLE BEING BUILT IN BRIGHAM CITY! That's MY AREA right now! YEAH. Really good stuff - we had about 10 investigators watching the conference, and all loved it.
Hyperboles... no idea. I remember what a parabola is, but only because I get it confused with "parable" in Spanish... and co-vertices sound like a trap. Good luck with that, Jeffrey.
Well, we don't have much more time here. Jeff, keep running, be the beast. Holly, you're riding again? Amy, nice party - sounds like fun, and 5 GOALS! Heidi, YOU CAN DO IT - #1 AR reader in the school - wasn't Harry Potter 7 awesome?!! Not that I am remembering it...
Well, family, I love you guys. I'm learning a lot, and hope that my dross is being consumed and my gold refined. I'm so thankful to have felt the Spirit in a greater way this week, and hope to grow much. I don't understand all things, but I want to trust without hesitation. We are so lucky to have that as children. Wish it was easier to keep it. But I know that God lives. I know that He is watching over us, and not passive, but working to help us overcome our difficulties and grow. The Savior Jesus Christ is always here, trying to heal and strengthen. It's amazing to think of that patience. He knows us, He weeps with us, He understands us. Even though we are so weak, He understands, and loves us anyways. Enough to help us overcome them. And I've thought a lot about what He expects of us. To those He has given the Gospel, the truth, the gift of the Holy Ghost, all these oppurtunities... do we understand what we have? The Lord has given us so much... think of what He is hoping for us: we are given all this not just to keep it and enjoy - His hope is that we bless the world with it. The salt of the earth isn't good if it can't be used! He is so exicted when we humble ourselves and become a tool for Him to bless others, help our brothers and sisters understand and come Home. I know this is true. I know He is always willing to help us grow and stand up again. He never designs to destroy us with our trials and experiences, only lift us. I know this Church is true. The Spirit testifies to us. Christ is leading us. God is for us. We can be laborers in His vinyard with Him. If He is helping, we can do it.
I love you all. Thank you for all you do! I hope its not as cold in Virginia yet, and school is fun, and everyone is positive and grateful! Look to Him, and never look away.
Love, Elder Christopher Thelin, who feels like he was accidentally signed up for too many spiritual AP courses in one semester...
Ps Seeing as how I can't remember where they won this battle... um, SO EVERYONE WENT TO GO PARTY, and went out to eat in a small little village fiesta in the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Holly was riding a llama and everyone was great until the llama started to talk. "I used to be an EMPEROR you know...."
PPS "Best Two Years", haha, that is a pretty good representation about mission life sometimes... hilarious!
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
Ok, we'll start here. This of course is transfer week. It is almost unbelievable that most of the world passes through this week without noticing anything different, or that they measure time in "months" rather than 6-week periods of time, or that most people don't have any change of residency and people so often. Crazy. Well, we've been anxiously anticipating this transfer, because President Olson is kind of a wildcard, and does things unpredicatably. Like, our Zone Leader just shifted to the English program. Or calling 2 sister missionaries in Spanish (did I write about that in Ogden? Funny, sister missionary Hermana Lopez from Peru (more recently Maryland) was supposed to go Spanish speaking to Washington state, but had her call changed at the MTC to Ogden, and when she got here, they said she'd speak English. She put her foot down, said she was called to Spanish speaking, and that was her mission. So, now as a result, an English sister (her companion, Sister Shuttleworth) is learning Spanish, and so we have the first two Spanish sister missionaries... funny...)
WELL, last night at about 9:30 we get a call. President Olson. Elder Muro picked it up, talked a minute or two, then passed it over. "Elder Thelin, like I just explained to Elder Muro, your area is being split in half. He will be a new missionary trainer in Logan. You will stay in Hyrum, and cover Brigham City. You will also be a trainer for a new missionary, and also we would like to extend the call to you to be District Leader. A little awkward, because you will be leading your current companion Elder Muro. Ok? Have a good night."
YIKES. Um, I still feel like I just started this whole thing, and that I'm still quite "green"... I'm fairly freaked out. I guess there are a lot of things changing in the mission, and, well, I'm up. Heck, though, I have no idea what I'm doing! I still speak Spanglish (i.e, lesson yesterday to the Rosales family in Providence: in English, I say "When Jesus Christ was on the earth, EL called 12.... I mean He called....." or "La Apostasia era un tiempo de darkness. I mean, obscuridad..." Gotta love it...) So, yeah, I'm going crazy. I don't feel ready or like I'm a leader yet, or like I can do any of this on my own, but I'm starting to realize that's maybe the point. Heavenly Father knows that. Maybe this transfer is about "Being still, and know that I am God." That I am weak, but through God, and the power of Jesus Christ, and His Spirit, I can be shaped and made into something stronger. That if I humble myself and rely on Him, I can do what I couldn't do myself. I feel very humbled already, and hope I can complete my responsiblities... which just tripled. Any success I will have this next transfer will not be mine, and I will not take credit for it. And any damage I do to my new greenie I can't take credit for either, since that will be Elder Gurrola's doing. I'll just be doing what he did to me! Heh, planning things out already...
Whew, anyhow, pray for us...
In other news, WE BAPTIZED someone this Sunday! I'm not sure I've done very well explaining the people we're teaching - funny, EVERYONE is related that we're teaching, somehow. But we had 4 baptisms scheduled... then Wednesday we found out Ignacio Alvarado, an older guy in his 50/60's had been smoking [members of the church are asked to live by a code of conduct known as the Word of Wisdom, abstaining from substances which are harmful to the body or which might interfere with our ability to draw closer to God, such as tobacco and alcohol, etc. Any addictions to these substances need to be forsaken prior to baptism.]:
In our conversation with Ignacio, we say, "So, will you keep the Word of Wisdom?"
He says, "Oh, yes." (while his wife is pointing at him and smoking an imaginary cigarrete)
I say, "Ignacio, when was the last time you smoked?"
He says,"Oh, I quit in '98, and picked it up again in '05, and haven't had too many since..."
I say, "No, no, like the LAST CIGARETTE you smoked?"
He says, "OH, yes. This morning."
So, that was one date that needed to be postponed. Then Carla, his daughter in law, and Ignacio's wife, Araceli, decided to wait to be baptized with her husband on the 11th, but Adrianna, the other daughter stayed firm. It was sweet. She was very brave, and excited - she showed up 30 minutes early (as opposed to the usual 15 minutes late...) and 40 people showed up to the baptism, 10 of which were investigators. Amazing. 1st baptism in Hyrum in a LONG time, usually there is nothing happening here, but we lucked out and found gold. Way exciting. Adrianna is now baptized, and we have a ton more on the way!
Hmm, what else - OH story: last week I was on exchanges with one of the Zone Leaders, and we were knocking doors in some trailers in Nibley (BTW, trailers in trailer parks are remarkably big inside, you know that? Cozy.) and suddenly this little Hispanic kid shows up in the street.
We asked in Spanish, "Hey, what's your name?"
Nothing."You wanna be a missionary?"
Nods. Then he points to a trailer."That one? They speak Spanish there?"
So we go and knock on it. Whenever ANYONE gives a referral or recommends someone, we always go and check it out. We figured a 3 year old would be more inpsired than most.
When we finished at that house, he was in the street waiting. Then he pointed to the next house. "Hablan espanol?" He nods yes. Ok...
So yeah, this little kid led us to all the Spanish speaking families in the trailer park! It was hilarious, he'd come up to the doors with us, and we'd have to explain "Oh, this kid is one of your neighbors. He said you'd be interested in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. " He even snooped out his own parents, yelling "AQUI!! MI MAMA!! VENGAN!!!" (Come!!) Little kids are awesome.
So, Mom, you thought my pictures were weird? Why? Disturbing??? What was? Just the craziness, or what? Dad, hope it brought back some memories, I think you have to serve a mission to really understand all the missionary experiences and stories and stuff...Glad it's entertaining... sorry the pics took so long. I can't send the new ones until I get the old card back. Maybe I can figure out a better system for getting pics to you all... Holly, um, don't spend too much time looking at the inside of my mouth on the computer, that's weird... haha.
Yeah, I do have Elder Gurrola's address, I'll get it next week. You're right, he should have some of those pictures of him in the fur coat - I'll see if I remember by next week...
No, I didn't take the pic of the temple and the rainbows - given to me by someone.
I think we should all stop having dental problems, as it is expensive. Sounds like a good rule. I wear my retainer once a week or so, and its working all right, so yeah. My only dental problems would be that whenever I drink Atole (weird Mexican drink that tastes kinds like thick gravy with twigs in it) my teeth turn yellow for a little while. It's OK, I have teeth whitening gum and plenty of toothpaste.
Cool that you got to use my testimony in your testimony at church Mom. Glad it helped! I love doing that, visualizing the scriptures, and feeling like I'm there. I know this Gospel is true. I have seen people with and without it. I know that it is true. Heavenly Father is really there - He really is our Father. He waits so patiently for us to stumble our way into faith. And He is so ready to take us up in His arms when we find it. I know that Jesus Christ is our Savior. That doesn't make much sense until we open our hearts and seek Him. And when we do, we find the truth. He is the center of it all. Our older Brother, ready to lift us when we fall, build us up, and help us reach the vision we had when we accepted this whole plan. The love He gives is the reason and the hope and the reward. It is so worth it. There's a song we've been listening to - see if you can find lyrics online because its good ("The Lights within Jerusalem are dark, but there is One who will not sleep at all.." [Garden Walls by Mindy Gledhill] It says "2000 years, and across the deep blue sea, Why would the King of Heaven and Earth bow down to save me?" I can't understand, but I know He did, and I am thankful. He'll carry us through if we let Him.
Love, Elder Thelin in a rush...
PS The story: Suddenly, something HAPPENED. That was epic. hahahah