Monday, January 31, 2011

I'll see you in about a week

I still can't believe I go home next week. For some reason, it's crazy. It's just ludicrous. Oh well. We had a specialized training (pretty much a zone conference) on Thursday, along with interviews with President Gonzalez. My temple recommend had expired for 27 days. He just had said we would take care of it during interviews, and it worked out. It's still nice to have a valid one. It's really great having a solid testimony, now. While hearing and answering the interview questions, it made me really grateful I could answer all the testimony questions with an affirmative, "Yes." It was a pretty good moment.

We had another stake conference, yesterday. It was a regional broadcast from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City for all of Northern California. It was one of those more personal ones. President Eyring, President Packer, the Primary President, and one of the presidents of the Seventy were the speakers. I wish I had taken notes, but I remember President Eyring's talk was amazing. I don't know where that could be found--or if it could.

I had a couple more exchanges this past week, and I have to do another two this week. It was a busy transfer full of specialized training, vineyard assignments, etc. that prevented us from being able to do all of the exchanges early on.

Oh, I ate alligator. It's...different. Not bad, just...different. We went to this sushi and grill place where they cook it all right in front of you and I couldn't resist. I had to try it. Besides, just like everyone else, they were out of ostrich. Apparently they are out of season. How can a bird be out of season. I don't get it. It was interesting trying something like alligator, though.

This whole next week and a bit are going to be so busy. I imagine after that are going to be even busier. We'll have to make it all work, though. In answer to what so many are wondering, I am very excited to come home and to see everyone. I'm trying very hard to not lose focus, but I am excited for when the time actually comes. Let's see what can't be done in my last full week... Have a great week!

Aaron

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm staying focused.

The past few days have been blanketed with heavy fog. Last night and today have been this grey blanket over this portion of the valley. It's a strange kind of thing. We were being driven home last night and it was where you couldn't see too far in front of you. It wasn't to the point of being really dangerous, but where you should go slower because you couldn't see anything that wasn't half a football field ahead of you. It's a strange kind of thing. We have fog back home, but it's scattered and rare, it seems. Here it envelopes everything. It's due to all the agriculture and everything around the cities, I think.

Not much went on this week out of the normal. It's been pretty slow. We cleaned up the area book a lot and got some things started on that. The biggest thing that is happening in missionary work (I don't think I mentioned it yet) is mormon.org. They have revamped the website and are encouraging the missionary force (I think nationwide) to get very familiar with it and to become "experts" at it. They have videos and profiles of all the members of the church that make them. We're supposed to start using them in our proselyting. The videos are great.

I still can't believe the 9th is coming so close. I go home the week after next. That's a weird thing to say. I say again, I am very excited about coming home, but am still staying focused. I can't teach the principle of Endure to the End for two years and be a hypocrite now. Thanks for everything
Aaron

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Three Weeks?!?!

It's been a crazy week. We had a specialized training series for mission leadership at the mission office (a regular church building with half the building used as mission-related offices) from Tuesday to Friday. All four days, we didn't get home until maybe 5:30 or 6:00. It didn't allow for too much work to be done in our area. Elder Ramos was with another companionship all four of those days, while I was away. We had five elders fitting into a Malibu and driving for an hour each way for four days. That part wasn't all that much fun as I was in the back, but looking back on it, it was an adventure. It was enjoyable and I learned a lot and had good insights.

On Saturday, we went down to Madera to work in the church's welfare grape vineyard. It's time to prune the vineyard. I mostly raked out the dead stuff and cleaned it up. I didn't do too much cutting. I left there with a bad case of allergies. As soon as I got home, it all hit me and hasn't left me yet. It really isn't any fun. I'll get over it though. It was new, being in the vineyard when it was all barren and no leaves or grapes. It was one big tangled mess of grape canes all over the place.

I got my flight itinerary the other day and I guess I don't get back into St. Louis until 11:10 at night on Feb 9th. That seems awfully late to me, but I guess it'll all work out. I have another three weeks on my mission. That seems very close all the sudden. I'm actually far more focused on my purpose than I thought I would be. I have my trunky moments and times when my mind wanders off to fantasy land about the books and movies and activities I'll get to do, but most of the time I'm in the here and now. I'm keeping very busy.

As yesterday was MLK Day, the libraries were closed. We got back to the apartment much earlier than we usually would have and had a good six hours to get things done. We both cleaned like crazy. Well, I'm the one that cleaned like crazy, but my companion helped here and there too. The place looks totally different because we had let it get into a kind of disaster state. With hours of intense work, however, it looks really good. It isn't anywhere remotely adequate for how I think it should be, but it's many steps closer.

We have several people who we're working with right now, but none so far that show any real progression. We're still working on that one. Overall things are going very well and I hope everything is likewise for everyone else.

Aaron

Monday, January 10, 2011

I did a Hmong Branch Interview

The sun came out, today. It's partly cloudy and at a temperature where I don't need a coat. I'm sure it's still cold, but it doesn't feel like it. I haven't seen the sun in over a week and now it's shining. Granted, I'm still not going to look at the sun because let's face it; that would be dumb. It looked like it was snowing last night. The sky was slightly dark and completely overcast with dense fog above us, and there were flurries all around, falling. They were actually just little tree fluff thing-a-ma-jigs, but it was cold and really reminded me of snow. It was nice, but I'm pretty sure a lot of it got into the grooves of my helmet. I was biking along on Saturday and I did something stupid by trying to change gears while going up a steep climb, going into an apartment complex. A chain link snapped and left me a good distance from the bike shop without being able to pedal my bike. Hoping the bike shop was still open on a Saturday evening, we set off walking. It went a lot faster when I put one foot on a pedal and propelled myself like you would on a skateboard. It was tiring, though. After awhile, my companion biked with one hand and pushed me from behind while I sat like a lazy bum. That one worked the best of all. "Faster! Faster!" "Don't let go. Promise me you won't let go." That's the way I felt, at least, like a little kid learning how to ride a bike. It was a lot of fun.

I hit my month and month-left marks this week. I don't look at it as a countdown, but there you have it. The weeks are rolling down. I don't know what the flight information is, yet, but I imagine I will get it tomorrow, or some other time this week. All I really know is I come home on February 9th. From Tuesday to Friday, we have a specialized training thing in Fresno. It's for all trainers, district leaders, and zone leaders and they will take, basically, until dinner-time each day. Elder Ramos will have to work with another elder or another companionship for those days, I guess. We'll find out how all of it is going to work today, sometime.

I don't know why, but I had a memory, yesterday. I was remembering the time that Dad was bringing the missionaries to the house in Hamel for dinner or something. I don't remember too much about it because I was young, but I remember something about a bird flying through the car window and smacking the elder in the forehead, and the thought made me laugh. It still makes me laugh, thinking about it. I didn't mention it last week because I had so little time and, well, I had forgotten.

There was a lady that I did a baptismal interview for in the Hmong Branch. I have done several before for the branch, but they have always been kids or youth and they spoke perfect English. This was an older lady that really didn't speak any English. I would love to say that I had a ton of faith and, using the gift of tongues, I gave her the interview and understood everything perfectly, but that would be a lie--and I don't like lying. A Hmong-speaking elder translated for both of us, back and forth. It was a really cool experience. We went to the baptism and it was almost entirely in Hmong. Elder Ramos is an American citizen, but is most recently from San Luis Potosi, Mexico. He speaks both English and Spanish perfectly well. We get along pretty well. That's pretty much it, I suppose. This week will be interesting.

Aaron

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Library server was down

This will be a short one. I'm on an express computer and most of my time is gone. The servers were down yesterday so I have to use one quickly today. Transfers happened. Elder Moore is now in Porterville and Elder Ramos is with me. We get along really well, so that works out.

It has been cold a lot lately. It rained a lot last week and not that much this week, except maybe on Saturday night and Sunday. From what I hear, I really can't complain about the weather here. Cold here is down in the 40s. Biking in that in a light jacket is nothing to mock at, but still. It could be freezing and tornados. Everything is going well here and I have to run. I have 20 seconds left. Bye for now.

Aaron

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

My last transfer -- I'm still in Merced 3rd Ward

Well, first thing's first--I'm staying. This'll be my 6th transfer in the Merced 3rd Ward.

I expected it, but couldn't be sure. I'm OK with staying and it isn't a problem or anything. The only problem with it is that I have more of this tendency to give up with some of the people (especially the less-active ones that we're working with). After trying everything you can think of and seeing no success in some, it feels pointless after awhile. On the other hand, I'm really glad I'm staying because it's a lot less hassle. I know the area and the ward very well and that helps. Elder Moore is going to Porterville and Elder Ramos is coming here. I'm told he's from Mexico, but I can't verify that until Wednesday.

It was awesome to get to talk to just about everyone on Christmas. We did end up watching How to Train Your Dragon, in the evening. It was wonderful. It could be that I hadn't seen a non-church movie in 365 days, or it could have been really good.

We had a couple of dinners that day. I'm definitely... sugared out. We have gotten so many cookies and pies and candy and treats of all kinds that I gave a pie to another companionship this morning because we have too much stuff. I still eat it all, but not as much as I would normally. Some of it is amazing, though. I'm going to have to collect recipes on a few things.

We moved out a family that we were teaching. They moved to Fresno. We sent the referral on and have gotten word that they were contacted, but it's still a bummer that they moved. He was returning to activity and she was being taught and coming to church. She was one of our most progressing investigators. That's ok, though. The church is also in Fresno.

I've had a cold for the past week or so. It's letting up a little here and there, but it's still lingering. I think it'll pass soon, though.

Sunday was interesting as half the ward were gone. Either everyone was sick, lazy, or out of town. There really weren't that many fewer people, though. The other half were made up of people visiting.

Hopefully everything will work out well for transfers this week. Only my companion and one of the zone leaders are changing in the district, though. I heard something funny that's happening, though. In the Merced area for the Hmong work, Elder Nuttal and Elder Tuttle will be companions (both Hmong speaking.) That'll be too ridiculous...funny, though. Bye

Aaron

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

I am kind of amazed that it's Christmas-time. That's wonderful, of course. We still don't have any definite plans for Christmas itself, except where we will be spending our Christmas dinner. I may have said it last week, but it's a great family and it'll be great. I still don't know what movie we'll be watching, though. They lightened the restriction on it, this year. They also added some. It can't be longer than two hours, but it can be PG if it's animated...like some Disney- or Pixar-type. We'll probably be watching Toy Story 3. We'll see, though. It warrants further discussion.

We will be using our cell phones to call home, as it falls on a Saturday and I think they have the free nights and weekends thing on the phones. I'm not sure exactly when the call will take place. I'll make it after 3:00 central, though. I'll try to keep it some time in the early-ish afternoon like that. I'm looking forward to that, of course.

It's strange, hearing about things like snow and freezing rain. It's winter-time here (ok, technically it is still fall for another day or two or something)...I know it's winter-time because it's in the 40s and it's raining a lot. When I say raining a lot, what I actually mean is often--well, even then, I mean non-stop. For the most part, it's a light rain, sprinkle, or drizzle, constantly. It's very gloomy outside. That's ok, though, because that's better than it pouring on me while I'm racing my bike around. I haven't seen snow since I was in Provo, unless you count on the distant mountains.

This past week was really great, actually. We had four more baptisms in the district, including one for the senior couple up in Mariposa. They have been struggling for awhile and it was really great to hear that their baptism went through. We had an amazing thing happen Friday night. Our teamup stopped off at his house and came out with a huge bag full of home-made chocolate chip cookies. Then when we got home, there was a plate of treats in a bag on our door handle from another couple. Then another family walks over in the rain to give us a plate of fudge. All of that happened within about 30-45 minutes of each other. That very afternoon I was thinking, "Wow...I need some cookies." Now, granted, that was not really a need. I wasn't depressed. I wasn't having a blood-sugar crash. I just really wanted some cookies. The Lord provides, I guess. We also had a bunch of people that came to church that was really good to see them there. I have no go because I have no more time left. I'll talk to most everyone on Saturday!

Merry Christmas!!

Aaron