THANK YOU for the package! It did indeed arrive! Saturday, even! I waited though till Monday to open it of course. We made sure to set up the banner and we sliced the pinata with a katana that the English Elders had, since I didn't have the Unique Super Pinata Buster that's 20 feet long, as the directions suggested... (the only explanation for why they even HAVE a katana is that Ogden is scary) [note from Mom: I had to look up the definition of a katana, which is--"a curved single-edged sword traditionally used by Japanese samurai" Interesting. Moms love this stuff.] and etc. etc. Heidi, I love the platypus king. HA, the Jupiter keychain is priceless [Many years ago I received a squishy globe full of gel with Jupiter in the middle and I announced that if it ever burst open, the world would end at that moment. Well, it burst and the world survived and I got a cool keychain made of Jupiter]. I laughed pretty hard when I saw that. Yeah, and the party hat, pretty cool, Jeff. Everything was excellent! And Kayla and Grandma Pat, thanks so much for your letters! They both arrived in time as well! And it wasn't a bad day for a birthday either - we did service in the morning for a lady from England named Sister Breemer, she owns a little farm in Paradise, (Paradise? In Utah?) and we pick peaches for her and stack wood and stuff, it's pretty nice, and then we went out with the English Elders to Subway, we taught some sweet lessons, we ate dinner at a park with a family who was celebrating their baby's 1st birthday (not a coincidence methinks!), we played Jenga with some kids for a Family Home Evening (Ana and Pablo Lambaren's family - they are investigators, and they speak the most awesome fluent Spanglish ever - switch back and forth almost every other word haha), and taught a guy outside who seemed really interested. It was a pretty good birthday! Of course, no cake or family here, but clearly I could hear you all singing to me from Virginia!
Haha, I DID get a new insect for my birthday - a spider with a poison sac 3x bigger than its body. Killed the mantis. Sad.
And speaking of birthdays, HAPPY BIRTHDAY AMERS! 8 years old, huh? Practically grown up. How's school? How's life? You have a webkinz named Chris? I'm a MONKEY??? WHAT?? I, Missy, am forever a PIG! Hope you have a great birthday, and eat lotsa cake and stuff for me! I love you tons and will give you a big squeeze after I get back. I owe you one!
I must say Dad's dream is one of the best I've heard in a while... Darrell. Uh-huh. Stop coughing everyone!
Something cool - we've been a lot slower here than in Ogden, in getting people to progress - but we had a family come to church this Sunday (Araceli and Ignacio, and their daughter Carla. Afterward we had a lesson and talked to them. We hadn't been sure if they were going to be receptive. But a man got up in sacrament meeting, after blessing his newborn baby - kinda nervous in front of so many people, but he did it. He got up to bear his testimony of Christ, and began crying in it. Araceli we brought to church said when he began crying, she felt something inside. A feeling, that made her feel like going up and bearing her testimony too! Another felt really strongly as someone bore testimony in the lesson. Later when we watched the video of the First Vision, a friend (Adriana Rubio) who had just "come over" said she felt "escalofrios" (or goosebumps) kinda all over, but not in a creepy way. I know this was the Spirit testifying. It's interesting, we have to be receptive to the Spirit. Some people aren't, as I've seen. But some are prepared to feel the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This is the most important thing - this is how our Father and our Savior will speak to us. We must listen. These people did, and felt truth touch them. They all have decided to be baptized.
It's interesting, you see a lot as a missionary. It's bugged me before why some people feel and others don't. Why some people see the Church with such different eyes. A lot of knowledge was lost when the apostles were killed in the years following Christ's ascension. Today, a lot of people sincerely are trying to follow Christ, love Him, and are wonderful people. I know that all are good, and I also know that we have His full Church restored. I know this is the truth. When I get to wondering, I remember what I've felt. I have felt a peace that goes beyond me, beyond this life. I've felt it most as I've tried to get to know my Savior, Jesus Christ. Sometimes in our daily lives we get a little mixed up, but I know that it is only by Him that we are saved, that we have purpose and joy and life. Only as we focus all we are on Him do we progress spiritually. It's a challenge, but I know it's possible. I have felt His power cleanse my life, change me, give me hope. I have also felt the Spirit testify with great power of the Plan of Salvation, that we lived with God before we were born, that we will have eternal families after this life, that our loved ones are in the Spirit World waiting for the Resurrection. I know by this same power that the Church is true. I don't always understand everything, but I know it is true, and trust what I've felt. I think this is part of our earthly test. To hold fast to what we've felt and received, and not waiver in the presence of opposition, even when we don't know the answers. Faith is believing in things not seen but are true. I know that as I began my mission and got set apart as a missionary, as I sat in that Stake President's office, hearing Kayla, Dad, Mom, Bishop Hoggan's testimonies, I felt the Spirit stronger than ever before. I felt a power, a love, a light just filling me. I felt clean, sure, and so close to the Savior, comissioned to go out and bring those who would listen to the fulness of His plans for us. To the Church. To His kingdom. To the authority of God, the Priesthood, to be baptized in His name and power, and be cleansed. There is no other way to come fully to Christ. We must remember that and take the Sacrament with that in mind. But that night, as I sat there, being set apart and blessed by the Stake President, I felt like I was filled with light and divine approval. Of course, with bad days and good days, that feeling has dimmed and grown, off and on, since then, but I know that was the Spirit filling me and I remember how it felt. I know this is His Church, and I am on a mission to gather those who are willing to accept it. We were prepared for this time before this life. I know what I've felt. It takes faith, study, prayer, and time - and its worth it. And when we fall, we are rescued by the Savior. Anyways, I know these things are true, and I know the Spirit bears witness of these things to those who are willing to receive it. It's true!
Well, thanks so much to all, I love you all. Excited to see the Facebook group entries from everyone that Mom mentioned! Thanks everyone for remembering a missionary out in the backhills of Utah!
Love, Elder Christopher Thelin the OLD
PS Sweet! So glad Senora Johnson remembers me... how's Jeffrey like the class?
PPS [Previously in the story: Falling into the hole, the little troupe in the BOOMPHmobile discovered the rest of the group with party hats on and squirting each other with Fiesta string. Luke Skywalker was in the center of the crowd, blindfolded, swinging away at a pinata with his lightsaber, having a birthday celebration in honor of Christopher, President of the Platypii...]As the cake was being wheeled out, Tippy took a big bite out of it. "TIPPY! What are you doing???" cried the girls. As they went to go shoo her away, the platypii saw something inside the cake - a book. a CLUE! Kinda like a giant fortune cookie cake... the platypii picked up the book: How to get to Uruguay. "Hmm, Chris is in a place that starts with U... it must be Utah!"said the platypii (they don't read very well) "Hey we know how to get to Utah!"cried the platypii."We'll get our platypus plane!" "Ok, onward!" said the girls. So they got on a plane and started heading to Uruguay...
PPPS HAPPY BIRTHDAY STEFAN!!!!!