Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas in Modesto

Well, to start, Christmas was great. During the day, most of what we did was watch movies. Mr Kruger's Christmas, Joy to the World, and of course, Mulan. We chose Mulan because once we thought about it in consideration, we couldn't get the songs out of our heads. It surprises me that it's rated G with some of the stuff in there, with the violence and stuff, when other movies that are harmless are PG. I don't trust the rating system at all. Critics and the rating people make no sense. By the way, the songs are still going through our heads. Good times. I kept getting giddy when the movie was starting because I didn't have to turn away from the TV. It really doesn't take much, does it? Christmas dinner was really good too. It cracked me up that Pakamer put in her two cents on the phone call by rubbing her head against it. That is, at least, my take on it. Dustan was able to call home for two hours, I hear. That's so crazy. My mission was very adament -- 40 Minutes. Every mission is different.

This next week is New Years. That's really weird to me because the decade is almost over. On New Years Eve we go into our apartment at 6:00. It's weird, but as a missionary I'm glad that the Christmas season is getting over. By that, I mean that now people may be less busy where they can actually let us visit them. The work has been really slow the past few weeks because people have been so preoccupied with Christmas that they don't have time for to think about Jesus. It's a little backwards, but that seems to be the way of it. It's almost 2010. How weird is that? I'm getting to be an old man. In this next year, I'll reach the point where I'm a quarter century old. However weird that may be to me, I'm sure it's even weirder to you, Mom and Dad.

I met a guy last night that said he had been to Salem, MO before. He works for some cannery that works with US Foods. It's very seldom that I've met people that know where home is. Elder Daniels, on the other hand...he's from St. George, UT, where there are two YSA -stakes-, alone. Everyone he runs into know people he knows or have relatives that live there or whatnot. It's pretty weird, because I've yet to meet anyone, my entire mission, who has known anyone that I know.

Today we're going to have our zone activity. I don't know what it's going to be, but it'll likely be something like volleyball or kickball. We'll see. Zone conferences are going to be different starting the first of the year. They're moving them from every six weeks to every month. They're also making them smaller. They used to have three. One for the north zones, one for all the Fresno ones, and one for the south. Now they're making it to where there are only going to be two zones per conference. They're wanting to make them more often and smaller groups, but I think they may kill themselves with how often they're going to be. We'll see. Speaking of, we had our special Christmas zone conference this past Tuesday. It was mostly normal, except Santa and Mrs. Claus were there, and they showed a slide show DVD of pictures missionaries sent in. I, I regret now, didn't send any in. I send all my pictures home though, so I'm not worried about it. It was a lot of fun. So everyone, I hope you had a good Christmas, have a good New Years, and a good week.

Aaron

Monday, December 21, 2009

Aaron is calling on Christmas.

This week is Christmas...weird. It doesn't really feel like it. I'll be having Christmas at a family's home. I'll write another email with the specific information for the call. At Christmas, we get to watch one rated G movie. (It doesn't take much to excite a missionary.) I know nothing about it, but I guess it's supposed to be good; the movie 'Up'. It should be good. We're eating dinner there, getting our call from home, and watching our movie at their house. We also have a late breakfast planned at another family's home. We are getting our packages tomorrow, on the 22nd. I guess they have a special Christmas zone conference in addition to next week's regular zone conference. We'll get packages then. It's disappointing I won't get the CDs until tomorrow, but so be it.
I ate a king crab leg last week. I really do prefer processed foods versus raw substance, but it was a fun experience. Tomorrow we'll be going to Fuddruckers and I hear they have ostrich burgers. I'm really looking forward to that, for sure. Elder Daniels is great. He stays on task and is a hard worker. He's kind of a neat-freak, but that's ok because many of my cleaning ethics have slacked and it was pretty bad. He only has two transfers left. If we're together for another transfer after this, he'll be the fourth companion I send home. Elder Jackson is home, now, which is kind of a weird thought.
As lame as I know it is, as we have no Christmas tree in our apartment, I think Christmas Eve night, I'll put any gifts at the foot of my bed like in Harry Potter. That's going to be pretty awesome.
You might think that the work would be really good around Christmas because everyone would be all excited. Unfortunately, it's kind of the opposite. "...maybe after the holidays settle down." It's been good, though. We've been working a lot more closely with the members this past week. Someone gave us a twelve days of Christmas gift bag thing that has 12 packages in it. Thus far it has been mostly chocolates and various sweets. I guess more insulation can't hurt. It is winter-time.
Hey, it's about to start getting lighter, earlier. I'm looking forward to that. It's nice when it's still light when I go back inside instead of it being 4:30 and getting dark. I don't know how well I would have favored if I were in northern Canada or Alaska and it was the 6 month/6 month thing. I hope everyone has a really great Christmas!!

~Aaron


Aaron also writes that he will be talking to us on Christmas from a member's house. He gives us the phone number and asks that we call there at a certain time. That way the call doesn't cost him anything nor does it cost the California family. We have unlimited long distance, so it's ok from this end too. He can talk for 45 minutes only, so be thinking what you want to say so there is time for all of us to talk.
See most of you soon.
~Mom

Monday, December 14, 2009

Staying in Modesto

Well, we got our transfer calls last night. Elder Jackson, naturally, is going home this week. I'm staying here in Modesto 8th and my new companion is going to be Elder Daniels. Elder Daniels is currently one of our zone leaders. It'll be interesting, but it'll be fun. A lot of people in the zone are being moved out. There are three elders here that have been here for nine months and they're all going.

This past week we took a guy that we had met on the street a few weeks ago and helped him fix his bike, on a church tour. We committed him to baptism for January. Unfortunately, he didn't show up for church. It's amazing how fast the Spirit can act on people though, during the church tours. It's something that's slowly spreading across the mission. I'm sure it'll be a program that will spread elsewhere as well. It isn't going too far too fast because they don't want to stretch it too thin.

We were invited to a member's home last night for pie, hot chocolate, and a lesson. I'm pretty sure they were actually just trying to advertise their two daughters that just returned home from college for Christmas, to Elder Jackson. It makes me laugh. It really does.

I'm not really sure what time I'll be calling on Christmas. I guess it'll have to be sometime in the evening. We'll see.

Yesterday and today are and are going to be extremely busy. Not only do I have to clean the apartment very well, and Elder Jackson will have to finish packing and getting all that done...all the members seemingly want to spend time with Elder Jackson before he goes home. We have five appointments today...on a preparation day. Four of those are in the evening and one is a lunch that a member insisted on taking us on. It's going to be crammed, and I'd better get to it. I hope everyone is doing great!
~Aaron

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Awesome week!!!

Ok, I have to make it very, very quick. I had to use an express computer (15 minutes) because all the computers are full, as our ride was late in picking us up. This week has been truly amazing, and it takes a lot for me to say something like that. On Tuesday, Destiny got baptized. That will have been the first baptism in like nine months that I was able to teach, and see baptized while I was still in the area. It was really good. Both parents got emotional and it was good.

We started teaching a couple of really good part-member/less-active families (my favorite kind) that are both interested in learning. We set a baptism date with one of them for the middle of January on the first lesson (a church tour). They came to church on Sunday, which is a sign that they will actually go through with it.

On Saturday, it was truly amazing. I don't have time right now to tell the whole story, but suffice it to say that I was surprised to find out that the baptism that we were asked to help at was for Jeanne Fisher, the 82 yr old lady that had the stroke at the first part of my mission. It was incredible. I got really, really close to her and all her family while I was in Modesto last time. Now I got to be there and participate in the program. I was more thrilled than I could imagine.

Transfer calls come this Saturday. President Gonzalez asked Elder Jackson in an interview if I was ready to take over the area, so I'm sure I'm staying. He's still going home next week, and trying not to get too trunky. Some pretty good stuff is happening. I hope everyone is doing well and keeping sane and merry in this time of year. Later--

Aaron

Friday, December 4, 2009

November 30,2009

I'm so excited. Destiny is getting baptized tomorrow. It's been so long. Everyone has waited until I left, thus far. It's going to be really good. I haven't bought any of those clothes I was going to, yet. I should be doing that right after I leave here. I feel like such a wuss here. I doubt it's gotten below 50 here and I'm freezing. I got too acclimated to the summer I think. Elder Jackson is fine. It'll be really cold and he'll go outside in just the short sleeves and no jacket and love it. It's probably for the best. He goes home in just over two weeks to Illinois, so it'll likely be much colder.

Thanksgiving was good. We spent dinner at a member's home with their family. It was weirder that it was a bigger family dinner and we weren't part of the family, but it was fun. Thanksgiving, to me, has always been the kickoff for the Christmas season, as I may have said before. We found another part-member/less-active family this week that are excited to take the lessons and to get involved in the church. It was great, and I'm excited to start really teaching them.

I'll hit my 10 month mark this week. I'll be into the double digits. I feel like I'm a little kid saying I'm nine and three quarters months old. As I was thinking of writing that, the whole Harry Potter - Platform 9 3/4 came to mind. I had to laugh. What they say is right though. After the initial six months in the mission, the rest seem to fly by. The days are sometimes long, but the weeks are short. I still find it hard to believe that it's the last day in November, as just last week I was saying how I can't believe it's the last day in October, etc, back to like July or something.

My ankle and wrist are doing fine. My ankle is still swollen and a little tender, but has full range of motion and is doing fine. That's about it. I hope all are doing well.

Aaron

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, everyone! The season anyway...for me anyway. As the family celebrated Thanksgiving on Saturday, I feel rationalized to celebrate before the actual day after. On the evening on Saturday, I realized that Thanksgiving dinner had already taken place for the family, so I've taken to singing Christmas songs. It's like popping the lid off a pressure cooker. It was a big deal for me when I braced myself, and started singing "Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all --- hee hee he he he!" I know I'm a dork, but there it was. The first several times I couldn't help but get pretty giddy. Elder Jackson can't understand it at all. I'm loving it though.

Today we'll be doing our zone activity. I'm not sure what we're going to be doing, but it'll probably be volleyball or something. Elder Jackson and I had a meeting, yesterday with the stake president, our ward mission leader, the high counselor over missionary work, and the zone leaders, discussing the work in the Modesto 8th ward. For the most part, I think, the stake president just wanted to get a grasp of the situation and see how he can help. This ward has had a big problem with its missionary effort. There have only been two convert baptisms year-to-date and not too much support from the ward in that regard. It's been picking up, but not at a fast rate or anything. It was a really good meeting, though. The baptism we have scheduled is still going for a week from Tuesday, on the 1st. I'm excited because if/when it goes through, it'll be the first person I've taught that has actually gotten baptized while I was still in the area since a week and a half into the mission. It's been awhile. Everyone chose to join the church after I left the area, which is fine, but blah.

I went on an exchange in the 3rd ward with my district leader's companion on Thursday. (a side note--my district leader has been out a shorter time than I have been out...weird) It was interesting because the elder I was with came out from Mexico three months ago without knowing any English. He's learned an incredible amount in a short amount of time. He learned quickly because any time he doesn't know a word or how to say a word, he'll ask and we'd play a little game of charades mingled with Spanish. It was a lot of fun. I've never been with anyone that was so excited to talk to people, though--excited about everything, actually.

Elder Jackson has us waking up at six every morning to do our exercises. Every other day we go to a member's home that has gym equipment in their garage. Mostly I sit around doing something here and there while he works up a sweat. I haven't quite reached the point where I'm "AAHH! I have six months before I go home. I need to get ripped, fast!" ...yet. I'm still working on having any energy in the morning. I'm way better than I used to be though. I don't really mind waking up in the mornings anymore. And for some reason I don't mind going to bed early either...can't imagine why... Well, I hope everyone had a good Thanksgiving, or will have another good Thanksgiving on Thursday.

Aaron

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nov. 16, 2009

Our Thanksgiving will be spent at a member's home with their family. It's weird...right before the library opened, the sister missionaries were talking with Elder Jackson and me, and one of them, this is her second transfer. What's weird about that is that she barely came out, yet we apparently leave on the same day. There's something peculiar about that.

We had zone conference this past week, which was pretty good. Elder Gibbons (one of the quorums of the 70...not sure which) and his wife came as guest speakers. I saw Elder Jorgensen up here, as well as Elder Carter (MTC companion), and others I knew. North, South, North again...I've been completely bypassing the Fresno zones (central). The weather has been fairly agreeable. It's cold, but not bitterly so at all. It's maybe in the 50s/60s. It's enough for a light jacket, but not much more. I'm hoping this is the coldest it gets, just for the sake of convenience. Some of the trees are completely bare, some are yellow or red, and some are still green. There are so many different kinds that have been planted here; they don't all follow the same autumn program.

We set a baptism date with an investigator this week. Her name is Destiny, and she's the 10 yr. old daughter of a reactivating less-active member. She's been to church the past four weeks and is really excited. There's a recent convert that has three daughters in their teens that haven't shown too much motivation lately, but they came to church as well and are showing potential for it.

My bike is angry at me. It put up with its eternal struggle against me for a few months, but then one day it decided to yell at me some more. In the same day, it broke two spokes. In the morning I heard a ping and I thought to myself, "No way...I didn’t even go off any curbs or anything" (just riding along). Later I found that it was indeed broken. Then later, in the evening, I heard another one while I was going along, "ping". They were right near each other, both pulling the same way, so it was not ridable. I should be able to pick it up today, but for the past couple of days, it's been in the shop. The guy told me they'd get it fixed today. I'm wondering if it isn't the colder weather that's doing it...not sure.

I found out at zone conference that one of the ladies I taught in Visalia 2nd got baptized. That's really good, because she had a bad smoking problem. Elder Dickson, the companion I had when I was there, is apparently still there. He'll be going on 7.5 months in that same area. I hope I never stay in an area for that long. 4.5 is long enough to stay in a single area. There's just nothing else you feel like you can do after that long. You've talked to everyone who walks and knocked on much of the area. They put two Mhong-speaking elders into the Visalia 1st Ward after Elder Bean and I had left. That's good for the Mhong work, but I thought it was weird that they put two of them in.

We played basketball and dodge ball at the church last Monday. It was fun, but I was sore for days afterward. We won't be doing it this week. There's too much we need to get done at the apartment. My ankle is doing better, still swollen. It will just take time. I have most of my range of motion back. Most any picture or clipart won't show up on the Modesto library computers. Also, I can't go to any other website, whether they're blogs, news stories, e-cards, or anything else. It's kind of a bummer, but it keeps it simple. There isn't too much else to tell. As I promise most weeks, I will get letters written today. That's one of the reasons I'm not going to spend three or four hours playing basketball this week. I hope everyone enjoys Thanksgiving on Saturday, or whenever anyone else is having theirs. Bye for now.

Aaron

Monday, November 9, 2009

Focus 15 Plan

Well, it's been another week. Later this afternoon we're all playing dodge ball at the stake center. That should be fun, but it'll take a good portion of the day. The stake has taken a real force in the missionary work the past couple of weeks. Apparently something has changed in the stake president's work schedule or something to allow him more time. He has decided to use his time to further the missionary work. I don't know how wide-spread the Focus 15 Plan (Perry Plan) is in the world or if it's just an isolated thing...not sure. Anyway, there's a program where less-active and part-member families are committed by the ward priesthood and auxiliary leaders to take the missionary lessons. There should be 15 being actively taught. When I got here there were 14 on the list, and we went through them and I butchered it down to about 4. There were people who had moved, others who were done, others who were active and done...all sorts of nonsense. Anyway, the stake is taking control of it all and everyone's getting more into it all. This past week was the first time I have knocked on someone's door and been let in to share a lesson. I've taught on doorstep once, and I've had return appointments set, but I've never before been let in while knocking down the doors. It was a peculiar feeling.

Elder Jackson is my first companion that is from a large family. He's the fourth of nine. It's weird. Both of my MTC companions were from Utah, but none of the five I've had since have been from Utah. Everyone's always surprised.

There was a homeless guy this morning outside the library with a big ol' beard that was pretty messed up. He was normal looking for a homeless guy, except he had this really deep voice and he kept chanting some kind of demonic tone. Everyone was purposefully looking away. All the missionaries in front of the door, including myself, couldn't help but laugh pretty hard (although kinda silently). It was pretty ridiculous. I can't really think of much else to say, so I hope everyone is having a good week.
--Aaron

Friday, November 6, 2009

Back in Modesto

I have been trying to copy and paste Aaron's last e-mail into his blog for several days, but for some reason it isn't working. Oh, well, here goes. I will have to type it out for you.
--Mom


Alright, well here I am, back in Modesto. As I wrote in the letter to Mom, I was emergency transferred to Modesto four weeks into the transfer. I'm now serving in the Modesto 8th ward. The work is pretty much at a standstill, unfortunately. It's pretty well bottomed out. That's very different from Visalia, which was booming with no end in sight. It'll pick back up, I'm positive, but I'm just not entirely sure how we're going to go about that. We're starting with the ward members, trying to get them excited and involved. My companion's name is Elder Jackson, and he is from Carbondale, Illinois. He's actually from the same ward as a sister that came to Fresno that was in my MTC district, Sister Dunkel. I guess she was a friend to Elder Jackson's older sisters. We got transfer calls Saturday night and we're both staying here. This will be Elder Jackson's last transfer, which means I get to mock him without end, which will be very fun. Elder Jackson is more of a nerd than I am, and the ensuing conversations make me laugh inside. It's a shame I wasn't able to see Elder Bean off, but it's ok.

I was able to go to the temple again last Tuesday, making a second time this transfer. That's always exciting. The Fresno Temple is great, but it'll be nice to get back to a large temple. They're so nice, not that it really matters what the size is though.

Apparently the computers in Visalia libraties can bring up photos, but the ones in Modesto are blocked by the firewall. Any photos that were sent via e-mail in the last couple of weeks, I haven't been able to see.

Halloween was fun. We had to be in at six, so we did things around the apartment. My dream of planning and eating a quick dinner and going to sleep at 7:00 was shattered when I realized how much stuff I really needed to get d0ne. I could have gotten like 12 hours of sleep, what with daylight savings time. However, I had to do a lot of mechanical surgery on my bike. My seat completely broke beyond repair (no, not even the amazing duct tape I was using could save it). The springs on the seat had both broken, and I taped them; then one fell off, and two out of the four screws on the bottom that were holding it all on were apparently off. It was a mess. Fortunately, there is a spare bike in the patio closet that is used for parts. Right now I have an old bike seat that I have duct taped the holes in it (see, it still has its uses in bike repair) on it. It works fine. I was also able to get a lot of other little repairs and maintenance on it done that has needed done for a long time. That pretty much took a good two hours or so. Fun times. Ok, I'm off. I hope you all have a good week!
~Aaron

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

October 20, 2009

Wow, it's cold today. Well, I guess that all depends on your circumstance. It's probably only in the 60s, but around here, that's absolutely freezing. I'm looking for that Guam weather, I hear so much about. It's especially cold when you're wearing a short-sleeve dress shirt with no jacket. I'm going to need a light weight jacket sometime soon. Maybe next Monday I'll stop by a thrift store and see if they have anything. If not, I may have to get something at Wal-Mart or somewhere. The trench I have isn't as handy for every day use.

We don't have a new ward mission leader, yet. It's an interesting situation. Transfer calls are a week from Saturday. It'll be then that I know if I'm staying or going, or what's going on.

I wrote letters to all those who were baptized in Modesto after I left (which is 8), yesterday. I wrote a couple more letters to family. This next Monday, more get sent out. *pinky swear* I know I say that every week, but every week I mean to.

It was nice to see that pictures of the fall colors and things. Around here, nothing is really changing colors at all. There are some leaves that are just now beginning to fall, but nothing major. The last few mornings when we looked out, it had been pretty foggy. It's kind of a foretaste of what's to come, I think.

This week I'm on/will be on three exchanges. There's nothing like waiting till the last minute. For Halloween...I'm not sure what we'll be doing. We're having dinner with a family who has already offered to let us stay at their home for the evening while they have some kind of party... I'd really rather stay back at the apartment and get some things done. I'll have to buy candy next Monday, maybe. Maybe I'll fill a pillowcase with it and we can take turns knocking on the bedroom door and getting candy. I don't know...sounds like some fun to me! Elder Bean has two weeks until he goes home. I'm taking it easier on him now...more than I was anyway. :) He's doing pretty good though. He hasn't gotten trunky at all on me, so that's really good. Well, I'm currently staying healthy and happy, and I wish everyone else the same.
--Aaron

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Trip to the Temple

Well, we got to go to the temple today. 4 1/2 months is a really long time between short visits, let me tell you. It was good though. It's always nice to go. We were apparently in a hurry to go afterward, so I didn't get any more pictures. I haven't taken all that many the past couple of transfers, unfortunately. I need to get better at that.

It's raining today, which is also really nice. The weather has been really nice the past couple of weeks. It'll start getting colder soon, but that's going to be ok with me. My cold is pretty much totally gone. It did the same thing it did at the MTC when I got a cold. I had it for a few days and then it was gone. My voice was terrible, but that cleared up. I'm very thankful for that.

Our ward mission leader was released on Sunday. We now have no ward mission leader, so...I hope they call another soon. We had a good turnout, with four investigators at church. It's better than the usual one or two we've been having. I know this is short, but they moved our preparation day to today (Tuesday) for this week because we were going to the temple and the temple is closed on Mondays. That also took a chunk out of our day. We pretty much have to rush. I hope everyone is doing great, and enjoying the fall weather!
Aaron

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Two Kinds of Cold

I think he washed whites with something red
He's not in this one, but did take the "foolery" picture.

As I mentioned a week ago today, it started to get colder out (which I'm eternally grateful for...I'm through sweating at 9:00 at night by just being outside). However, with the cold, come the colds. I started noticing my symptoms on Friday and was like "awww...man!" and on Saturday morning it kicked in full swing. Sunday night my voice started cracking and then almost completely lost it. It turned into an irregular croaking and made it to where either Elder Bean did all the teaching/talking at one point, or I try to talk and it comes out really strained and broken. It's......almost back to good now. Almost... It gets worse if I try to use my voice too much, so I've tried to keep my voice as low as I can and talk as seldom as possible.

General Conference was really good, of course. I didn't take any notes this time or even have my eyes open often due to my being totally out of it. It was rough, but I recognized a few really good talks. My preparation day has been changed for next week only. Because we have a temple trip on Tuesday, next week, our preparation day has been moved to Tuesday for the week so it won't cut into working time. I'll still email on the regular time, but it'll be a tight day. The trip will take maybe four hours, I'm guessing. It'll be weird working on a Monday during the day, let me tell you.

We were really blessed with people to teach this week. We were able to find seven new investigators, none of which were together. It helps, because we have been dropping a lot of our investigators who skip appointments and don't keep appointments. It's like a blood transfusion when the work is dying.

Zone Conference is this week. I always look forward to those. It seems like just recently that we had one, but I guess it has been six weeks since the last one. Our church building here is the stake center, so this one will be just a few blocks down the road. That'll be nice, but I admit I do like traveling to other cities. I have never quite reached cabin fever, but it's really nice getting out of the city every now and then.

Mom, Happy Birthday! It's also Elder Bean's birthday today, interestingly enough. It's interesting hearing things that people are talking about as though it's known knowledge, and haven't any idea what they're talking about. Apparently there is trouble in the Pacific...flooding or something. I have no idea about it. There's a ton of other things that are going on and I have no clue. I almost like it this way for the time being. It helps keep me more focused.

For Halloween, we have to be in by 6:00, unless we're with a member. We'll be in the apartment. They really would rather not have us out then.

My new mini bike pump was ten dollars and fits snugly in my backpack. I haven't gotten a flat for quite some time (knock on...there it is. The chair is wooden that I'm sitting in.), so I'm thankful for that. The Slime helps out a ton.

From talking to an elder that was serving up in Modesto with me, that is now down here, apparently a family I started teaching was baptized. That one really surprised me a lot! I was really excited about it though. One of the greatest things about zone conferences are the paper that says all the names of people who were baptized in what areas. I'm always excited for those.

Again, I apologize for the lack of letters that are being sent out. I need to set some preparation day time aside and turn out as many letters as possible. There's always so much to do (especially since I'm with Elder Bean. I've never cleaned very much in the apartment before or many of the other things that he's precise on the rules of. It's very time-consuming) and I'm always so busy. Soon the letters will come. I hope everyone is doing well.
--Aaron

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29, 2009

Ok, this will be brief, because I'm out of time and I just accidentally erased my entire message! :p Ok, well coming out of the library last week, I discovered my bike pump was stolen. It was the first thing that's been stolen from me so far, so I guess I'm not doing too poorly.

The weather is awesome today! It's maybe in the 70s. Yesterday it was still in the 100s. It's really nice not being in a constant state of sweat. I'm really glad I only have to put up with a valley summer one more time in my entire life. Apparently the heat, here, breaks a lot like a fever. It goes and goes until one day it's "winter" (as winter as it gets here). There's no gradual decline or random weather like the Midwest. It just drops like a bag of sand. *foomph* Now I just have the rain and blanket fog to worry about. Good times.

We taught in another baptism on Sunday. Those are always great to be at. That was a real bummer it erased my message. I hope everyone's doing great.
--Aaron

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

September 22, 2009

Saturday night came and went, and they hadn't finished deliberating (apparently) on transfers. Sunday night we got the call and both Elder Bean and I will be staying here in the Visalia 1st Ward. It's good. There's still a lot I need to learn from the area as well as from Elder Bean. It's his last transfer, so I have a pretty free reign on everything he says. No matter what he says, it turns out, I can twist it to make it sound like he's expressing how trunky he is. It's always fun.

To make it more comfortable while typing and to give my skin a break from my wrist brace, I took it off. Unfortunately, two weeks of my wrist being isolated from the sun has turned it back to a white/pink state. It's a definite contrast to my tan. Not only that, but it's in a weird V-shape and makes it look unhealthy. I put it back on. I'll be keeping it that way in public, I think.

Bryana Ervin was to be baptized on Saturday. It turned out that she wanted to go ahead with it and get it done. Unfortunately, after we finished all the lessons and got all the paperwork done and everything prepared, her father wouldn't give his consent. It was pretty much a total bummer. The mission is currently at 596 baptisms as of last night. It's crunch time, so we've been doing a whole lot more finding. It's a good goal because it makes us stretch.

As it was the beginning of a new transfer this week, I spent some of my preparation time putting pictures on, and protecting my planner with packing tape. Unfortunately, this took more time than I had anticipated, and before I knew it, with everything else that was done, I found I didn't have time to write any letters. This next preparation day will have several written...promise.

On Sunday, they had the primary presentation. The last one of those I went to was for Salem. There's a big difference between 10 and like 100 kids. The primary is huge here. That, and the Spanish-speaking branch also were there because the primary and Sunday school classes are combined. I guess all the kids are bi-lingual, just not the parents. Knowing Spanish would definitely be a great tool here. This next week will be good. I hope everyone else is doing great.
--Aaron

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

September 15, 2009

The California Sequoias
Aaron inside the trunk of a Sequoia

Aaron's birthday in August

There was a crazy homeless guy that wanted to talk to us when we pulled up to the library on our bikes just now. He wanted to talk. He ended up talking a lot about nothing, showed us a bullet (which he stuck in his mouth, for some reason), then lifting his shirt to show his deformed torso where he apparently took the full load of a shotgun. Then he went on his merry little way. All the crazies are in 2nd ward, so it's been a little while. Last transfer was, they were everywhere. Speaking of transfers, this Saturday are transfer calls. That's always so crazy, because you just never know.

An elder in our district had to get a root canal this past week, like Jason. Unlike Jason, he was back to working an hour later and never felt any pain from it. Me, I'm just glad I have healthy teeth. *knock on wood...really hard. I don't really need any prints from the sequoias, but if I could get one of each of those two baptisms at the beginning of my mission, that'd be great. Any other pictures would be great. I'd still love one of the Hamel house--preferably one/some of it in the later years of us living there. I just don't remember that second cedar tree. Oh, and Lady.

I don't know where the Oregon Trail CD would be, probably in the basement. It's old enough you could download from some web site. Just be careful where you download anything from, and run it through an anti-virus. So have they made an ultimate HP trivia game? They had better do so by the time I return home.

We may, or may not, be having a baptism here, this weekend. We're down to the wire here with Brianna. She wants to, but needs her dad's permission, etc. It's a long story. If not this weekend, it'll happen next, or maybe the next. We were asked to do the speaking during which the baptizees were getting changed after their baptism, on Sunday. I always like doing that.

I put my bike wheels into the shop yesterday to get the spoke replaced and the tires trued. I have the instruction on how to tru them myself, but I'm afraid I'll mess them up really bad. I'll get the nerve to do it sometime, I'm sure. I got them back today. It's nice having a repaired bike.

One of the Wilson boys is a Mhong branch president out here somewhere, isn't he? I think I remember President Wilson saying something like that. In this area, knowing Mhong or Thai is almost as needful as knowing Spanish. We got a call on Thursday saying to cancel any Friday night appointments. We were supposed to go to Hanford to attend a two hour orientation, and go back that night with a couple of priest-age young men. The deal was going to be, the Hanford stake set up a thing where they go on splits with missionaries for the weekend, to prepare them for their own missions. Unfortunately, only 10 out of 21 of the guys who signed up, showed up. We got mostly there (about an hour drive) when they called us and told us, “Never mind.” Oh well.

Ummm...well I've been sitting here, for seriously 15 minutes, looking through my planner and staring at the computer, trying to think of anything else to say. I really can't think of anything, so I'll just end it here. I hope all are doing well. Bye.
Aaron

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Sept 8, 2009

Sept. 8, 2009

It's weird typing this week as I have a wrist brace on. I got into a gang fight, saved a baby from a runaway horse, or jammed it on my bike handle...take your pick. It hurts only if it is twisted the wrong way or if I lift something wrong with it. Also a little when I'm typing, but I'll get over that. My bike still isn't fixed. I was going to actually get around to taking it into the bike shop to get my spoke replaced, but it was Labor Day and they were closed. Hopefully I can go the rest of these four weeks on this broken spoke. It's done alright so far...well enough anyway. Another fun note, my bike seat is held up by two springs. One broke months ago. On Wednesday, the other one broke. The springs are now being held on with a gob of duct tape. It works.

We had the grape harvesting on Wednesday. The bulk of us left at 5:00 and there were several who went much earlier so they could work so we wouldn't have to come back another day. We get there and we're told they just finished with the rows our ward was assigned to. We ended up helping 3rd ward with their rows for a little while. It was very light. I guess they had maybe 4 or 5 times as many grapes last year as this year. It was fun though. It wasn't hot at all. At least, it wasn't really hot. It was very dirty though. Lisa would hate it. Spiders apparently thrive in the grape vines.

We have President's interviews in about an hour. At zone conference we signed a "title of liberty" that he made up with our refocus on baptism. We're also supposed to have a sacrifice that we're committing to. I can't afford the fatted calf, so I'll stick with these new-fangled personal sacrifices about taking away something that may be keeping you as focused. We're supposed to have one ready, but I still can't think of anything. They're all things like breaking up with the girlfriend back home, or not buying any sweets, or whatever they choose. I could give up my ice cream, but I really don't want to. I really like making ice cream shakes nearly daily. It's really not good for me, but I love it too much. Coming home out of the heat to an ice cream shake is one of my real loves right now. It's cooling down, though. The past couple of days, anyway, have been cooler. I don't want to jinx it. It should be cooling down soon and turning into Fall. That'll be so nice. I'm really sick of the weeks on end of 100+ weather, biking all day. It's worth it and I got used to it really quick, but I don't prefer it.

We have a goal to get two baptisms in the month of September...we had the baptism dates, but most have fallen through. We had to drop one of them Sunday. Date or no, he wasn't doing anything. One of our other ones dropped out on us. Another still is smoking. Another is 14 and it turns out the whole time we've been teaching her, she doesn't have parental permission...so we have to wait for her to break it to her dad that she's being taught and wants to be baptized. There's always opposition, but it can still happen.

Monday, the zone leaders call Elder Bean and tell him that they've decided that that day would work for them to have our zone activity. They chose volleyball. I looked down at my wrist and couldn't help but think, "You've gotta be kidding me." I still played though, and I didn't hurt it worse. It's almost a month into the transfer...four weeks tomorrow, anyway. Did the baptism of the older lady in the nursing home ever go through, in Salem (MO)? I hope everyone is going well. I'm sorry for the lack of letters that are getting sent out. I have a serious lack of time on preparation days. :/ Ok, I'll write later.
Aaron

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009

September 1, 2009

It's amazing to think that something like that rattlesnake is around where you live. Judging by its belly, it had already eaten. You don't hear of it too often, but they're in the Ozarks along with mountain lions. I think it's best if they just stay where you can't see them. The only wild animals I've seen here are birds and these squirrels that live underground. I'm not sure if they're actually groundhogs or not, but they have big fluffy tails. Apart from that, only the time we went to the Sequoias have I been outside of cities, so there isn't too much going on, as far as wildlife. There are millions of big rats here that they call Chihuahuas. They're all over California and need to be stamped out. Actually I've come across some that I have loved. Most of the time they're a six inch dog acting like they're 6 feet.

We set a couple more baptism dates with investigators that had them in the past. They should start happening sometime in the middle to the end of September. We currently have four dates, and two or three more that can be set, and we probably will this week. I can't believe it's September already. Unfortunately, even though I like to think of it as being autumn now, California weather would beg to differ. I think it's supposed to be cooling down sometime soon. It should start being much cooler in maybe a few weeks, maybe a couple months. I've gotten used to it, pretty much, but it'll be great when I'm not in a constant sweat and used to it.

We went mini-golfing yesterday. I came in second to last, but got a hole in one, so I'm happy. Zone Conference was this past week and it was really good. We've had a mission goal since the beginning of the year for 1000 baptisms. The past several years, I think they've gotten around 400-600 a year. We're currently at a little over 500, but are a couple of months behind. August had more baptisms, though, than we've had in...I don't remember...several years anyway. They're really pushing for it now and have gotten the whole mission more unified in it. I found out that a few of my investigators I taught in Modesto have been baptized. That's always really exciting for sure. There was an area seventy and his wife that came to speak as well. It was really peculiar and fun. His wife talked for about an hour and a half about the tribes of Israel and a whole lot of pretty deep doctrine (she kept referencing to Mormon Doctrine, so I wasn't sure about some of it). It was enjoyable, but very much a change of pace.

I love that Dustan is in the MTC. It's weird how slow time went in the beginning of my mission, especially the MTC and my first transfer, compared to how it's moving now. Before a day was a week. Now a week is a day. I imagine what everyone says, that it just goes faster and faster is true. It's like a graded slope. I picked up my picture CD and will be mailing it today. Packages sent to me are given to the zone leaders who bring them to us at district meeting, zone meeting, zone conference, etc. It's a fairly effective system, really. I hope everyone is doing great, and I'll write again later.
Aaron

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

August 25, 2009

E-mail – “Another day, another broke spoke”
Tuesday, August 25, 2009 1:51 PM

Imagine this, last Tuesday I found a broken spoke. I've been riding on it for a week, which isn't really a big deal, but I forgot to take it in yesterday... Oh well. I'll be a little wobbly for another week. I bought a full size bike pump yesterday, but I'll have to return it for another one, because it doesn't make any sense. It doesn't have any nozzles on the end of it. It just ends with an open tube. All of that same kind were like that. It was peculiar, and I can't figure it out. Well this week has been pretty good. There were several people with baptism dates when I came into the area. They all fell through. This past week we have been resetting them and we're still doing it. They'll happen...even if they do happen next transfer. In answer to your question, Mom, I have a 4x6 of the one that I think was the best one of the nuclear family in front of the temple. I don't have any other ones though. Also, yes, the goatheads will stab your finger when you pull them out...when you're not very careful. Only once did it draw blood though, and that was my own fault. I thought it was a rock in my shoe, so I brushed it off...not smart.

Zone conference is this week. I'm looking forward to it more than usual, because this will be the first one where I find out if anyone I had taught before had been baptized. I got a letter from one of my investigators from Modesto that I had taught a few times that said he had a date of August 22nd. I got the letter on the 22nd, so I assume it happened, which would be wonderful. Elder Bean's (my current companion) last companion in now up in the Modesto 5th ward. They switched it up, up there, so now a companionship covers both 5th and 7th wards. I'll have to write him and ask him how everything is going there. There are still tendrils of my roots fighting to survive and be involved in that ward.

I can't believe Dustan is, will be tomorrow anyway, in the MTC. He (I assume) is officially a missionary already. That's pretty freaky, weird, and awesome, if I do say so myself. I've been out almost 7 months...that's weird too. I realized it a few weeks ago, but I forgot to mention it. On August 10th, it was the 10 year anniversary of moving to Salem, MO. I haven't heard of any parties taking place, so I'll assume there weren't any.

I don't know if I've mentioned the grape harvesting here before. The Church owns a grape vineyard and the members in the entire surrounding area take care of it. They're pruned and harvested and all that, set out on rows of paper and allowed to sun dry. The subsequent raisins are sent worldwide to humanitarian aid. So harvest time is coming up, (over)
and I'm in the southern part of the mission. That means I'll get to do it. I think once I'm in the dusty fields with sweat and filth dripping down my back I'll change my mind, but I think it sounds like fun. I have a feeling it won't be anything like A Walk In The Clouds.

Speaking of movies (no, it's not what you think), toward the end of last transfer there was a movie-in and we went by to welcome them to the area. In the resulting conversation, the wife mentioned something about her sister, I think, being named Dorcus. I made the innocent comment about it being like Seven Brides For Seven Brothers. She about flipped and they told us that she absolutely loves that movie. I guess it's relatively popular, maybe? Anyway, as we were leaving the house, I couldn't help but burst out into a rendition of Bless Her Beautiful Hide. Gotta love it. Fun stuff.

We committed an investigator, Betty, to baptism last night. She said, "Yes, absolutely.", but then wouldn't commit to a date. So...I guess she hasn't made a real commitment, but next time I feel as though she'll accept full-heartedly. She's fairly golden.

Whoa. I was trying to think of what to say next, so I started moving the mouse down to the Start button to bring up Minesweeper. I haven't done that my entire mission. It just seemed such a natural thing to do. This is Elder Bean's second to last transfer in the mission. I figure, if both of us stay this next transfer, I'll be here for another three months--unless they double us out, which isn't too likely. It's been good hearing from everyone who wrote. I hope you're all doing really well!
~Aaron

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

August 18, 2009

Well, I'm in my new area. It's just north of my last area. I'm excited for this transfer. We get to help with the grape harvest and we'll have a temple trip too. There are...were...maybe...five baptism dates set in this ward already. One of them has fallen through, and we've had to push most of the rest back until later, but I feel confident that a few of them will happen at least.

Surprise, surprise, I got another couple of flats this week. The thing is, Visalia has the goatheads. 2nd ward area had one place where you were likely to run into them. 1st Ward, I swear instead of using gravel to put into the asphalt to make the roads, they pave the roads with them. My front tire had already had, at least some of the Slime in it from before. I had to go buy a bottle because I kept getting slow leaks. It'll do fine now, maybe. They do make the solid rubber or foam tires, but I don't think they make them in my size tire. I'm not sure. 1st Ward, I swear, has more small children than they have youth and adults. The entire congregation was filled with children, and none of them all too quiet. It's weird, I keep running into people from 2nd Ward.

Elder Bean is great. We get along really good. He's more serious and a little severe at times, and very strict to the littlest rules and has to be as he's the district leader, which is good. I worked hard last transfer, but wasn't always the most reverent I could've been. It'll be good for me. Being the companion to a district leader has its ups and downs. The downs are things like: at night he has to make and receive lots of phone calls, so doing our nightly planning is difficult. Other times it cuts into our working time because he has to do meeting stuff or baptism interviews. However, the pros outweigh the cons. I never, no, not once, have to carry the phone! Wa ha ha! I'm going to get spoiled and out of the habit for later, but I don't care.

It turns out, now, I can receive pictures attached to my email, but would also like real prints of stuff. I can only look at pictures on my e-mails if I search for them through the emails when I'm at the library. Whereas if I have prints, they go in my album. Sorry no letters were written yesterday. It was crazy busy. I didn't get half the stuff I wanted/had to do. I didn't get letters written, shoes shined, desk cleaned, bike serviced (by myself), and definitely no nap taken for sure. Next Monday I will devote lots of time and be faster. They'll get written soon. I hope you all have a great week!
Aaron

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11, 2009

Aaron with a family from Modesto
Aaron with a giraffe from Modesto

Well, I have to make this quick, unfortunately. The Visalia library is now closed on Mondays so we'll have to e-mail Tuesday or something. Today is my birthday. Yay! I'm now 24, single, and a menace to society, and proud of it. On the 30th was Elder Dickson's birthday and I had bike trouble. Today is mine, and his is the one that was in trouble. It's fixed now though, but I guess he didn't want to break tradition.

We went to the Sequoia National Park last Monday on a zone activity. It was a lot of fun and made me awfully sore. Good stuff. I'm being transferred tomorrow to Visalia 1st ward. I'm currently in the 2nd, so I guess it's a step up. My new companion's name is Elder Bean. I sort of know him, but more know of him. He's a district leader, so that will be different. There will be more exchanges and more planning on my part. :Þ It'll be good. As much as I hate the planning part, I need to get proficient at it. Elder Dickson (my current companion) will be training this next transfer. It'll probably be good for him.

Yesterday was a good preparation day. We got a lot of stuff done around the apartment, cleaning, etc. I got several letters written too. In the evening we had two really good lessons and two really good church tours (which I had never done, but works really well). Right before I leave, some of our investigators start showing a little bit of promise. It'll be good. Hey looky there, Elder Bean and his companion came in just now to use the internet. It's strange knowing who your companion is. Every other time it's been people I haven't heard of before.

Oh yeah, on the 4th of August, I hit my 6 month mark on the mission. Wow, I'm an oldie. Well, not really. The way everyone seems to see missionaries is as follows. If you're 0 to 12 months, you're a greeny, plain and simple. If you've been out for 12 to 18 months, you're experienced enough. If you're 18 to 24 months, you're trunky. As far as I can gather, this is the way it goes. I really have to run now, but I hope everyone is doing well.

--Aaron

Monday, August 10, 2009

Aug. 10, 2009

Some Elders in Aaron's area
I didn't know he could do a pogo stick!
Care to see Aaron's new friend?

We didn't get an e-mail from Aaron last week since he was finally able to go to Sequoia National Park on his P-day and didn't have any time to get to the library to e-mail us. We did get a letter this week though. (That's how we knew he went to the park.) He said that it was very tiring since they hiked most of the day. They climbed Mt. Baldy and saw two of the biggest sequoia trees -- General Grant and General Sherman. I'm sure he took lots of pictures which we will see later.
He said that transfer calls were Saturday (two days ago). Of course he wrote the letter prior to Saturday, so we don't know what the results of that call are. I'm assuming he will stay where he is since he's only been there one transfer. You never know though; I've seen missionaries come and go that quickly.

I'm attaching a few photos that Aaron sent a week or two ago. He sent a bunch, so I'll attach some and then some more later. Anyway, he is doing well. We should hear some more today.
--Mom

Monday, July 27, 2009

July 27, 2009

Wow...so much is going on back home. It sounds like everyone is really busy. I got a ton of letters written last week, as well as did Elder Dickson. We took a picture of all our letters stacked up. I have a ton more to write today as well. I've been slacking.

Well, as far as my bike is concerned, I got the spoke replaced and back in the same day, which is really good. Saturday I got a flat by running over a carpenter's nail and blowing it out, along with several goatheads (They're everywhere. If you don't know what they are, look them up...nasty things.) We tried several times to patch it, with no success. It just kept leaking. Either we aren't good at patching holes, the patches are junk, or the hole was too big to easily patch (it was actually all three). I got cash back when I bought the patches at Wal-Mart on Saturday, so that covered the bike repairs when I broke the two spokes. This morning we went to the bike shop and my debit card wouldn't work. It works at Wal-Mart and the other bike shop, but this is the second time I tried using it at this one in particular and it just doesn't like it. The guy standing behind me insisted on paying for me, so after half-hearted "Oh, I couldn't make you do that..." (I couldn't used cash for now,) I relented. It was really nice of him. He told me that he was spending enough money there that another ten dollars wouldn't break him. He was either buying or having his road bike repaired. So I have a new tube, and will put it in this afternoon. This isn't the last thing that will have to be repaired in the somewhat near future on this thing, I can promise you. We'll see.

I got word that someone we were teaching in Modesto now has a baptism date of August 8th, so I hope that works out well. Oh yeah, speaking of, the lady that was going to be baptized on Friday backed out and rescheduled it for the 28th of August. A lot of stuff came up in this last week for her with her son's health, her own health, and various other things. None of it was a surprise though. Things inevitably come up right before baptism for people. It's to be expected. I made a picture CD (or CDs) at Walgreen’s last Monday and I'll pick them up today and mail them. This week will be pretty busy. We have zone meeting on Wednesday, president interviews on Thursday, baptisms for the dead for our recent convert, Alice, on Saturday, and a zone activity to the Sequoia National Park on Monday "most likely". If we do go there, I'm not sure, again, if I'll have an email written. I don't know anything about it, so I don't know if I'll have the time to get to the library. I'm excited to go to the temple for sure. I'm not sure if it'll just be to witness or if we'll do any, but I hope we get to actually do some. I haven't done any since I was maybe 17. Also, of course, I'm hoping to get to go to the sequoias. That'll be another picture CD right there.

It's crazy. It's already just about four weeks into the transfer, and almost the end of July already. Elder Dickson's birthday is the 30th. He says that he turned 12 on the same year that the first Harry Potter book came out, so he's exactly a day older than Harry Potter. My birthday is just around the corner. Oh yeah, thanks so much for the packages, Mom & Dad and Karen & Mike! I went ahead and opened them in case they were something I could use. And they were, so there we are! :) I'm about to be twenty-four. Twenty-four and single...I'm about to officially become a "menace to society". I didn't mean for it to happen, I'm just a bad seed, I guess. What'd'ya gonna do?

A member gave us a bunch of peaches from her tree in front, so we bought ice cream today, and we'll slice ‘em up and sugar them and make a day of it. I've also recently discovered how awesome kiwis are. I also have a new thing for milk. When I started my mission, I bought a half gallon just so I would get calcium or whatever. Then I started getting a gallon when I started buying cereal for the morning. Maybe it's now that it's getting hotter (it's been in the 100s and 110s for like two weeks straight or something), but I need to drink more and I'm tired of water. So I went to two gallons last week and had to ration myself. I bought three this week. It should do me fine. I hope everyone has a great week!
Love,
Aaron

July 20, 2009

Well, I'm not at the Sequoias. We might go next week...I don't know. The zone leaders were talking about maybe doing that for a zone activity. I doubt it'll happen to be honest. It's ok though. We'll have today to spend in the apartment. Last Monday we took maybe two hours taking pictures with "lightsabers"...or in other words, holding cans of shaving cream and then the other person holding scripture highlighter leads in front of the camera. Fun stuff. Also last Monday another spoke broke...grrrr... I'm babying that thing, but it's a piece of junk. So it's in the shop again today, and may be there for a few days they say. I got the info on truing the tires. I'm afraid to do it to be honest, but I'll probaby try it on the front wheel when I get the bike back. The rim on it is fine. No permanent damage that I know of has happened to it. As far as my bank account, we aren't going to Walmart today, so I won't be at an ATM, but I may have to take the 30 dollars out next Monday. I'm hoping my debit card doesn't get rejected again this time. I have it at the other bike shop here in town.

Jeanette, did you know anyone by the last name of Cozzens when you served in Powell? There's an Elder Cozzens here that went to that ward.

We had a really good zone conference this week. It really pumped me up while I was there. Then, inevitably, I leave and the wave of 110 degree weather hits me, zaps me of all energy and vigor. It's interesting battling that. Visalia is very similar to Modest, but it's a little more rural. We have teamups and dinners pretty much every night, which is great. In our area is everything from fairly well off areas to places that are pretty guetto. We have an investigator, Ann, that will be baptized this Friday, so we have to finish those preparations. Our district leader covers the spanish-speaking in all Visalia and I was on an exchange with his companion while he came here with Elder Dickson. I was so lost--language-wise anyway. Here I am sitting or standing there all day, not talking to anyone really because we don't speak the same language. There was one investigator they had that thought it very funny that I am very tall. He kept cupping his hands to his mouth and shouting (in spanish) "Everybody move!" I guess I reminded him of Andre the Giant in Princess Bride. I spent all day with a dazed half-smile on my face. It was interesting. It was fun.

I guess my pictures will have to wait another week. I still don't have them on cds as I forgot my card last week and we won't be at Walmart this week. I'll actually get letters written today, I promise. I keep promising this, but today I will. I hope everyone is doing great!
Love,
Aaron

Monday, July 13, 2009

July 13, 2009

There's a member in Visalia that owns an awesome restaurant and has told us that once a week we can eat there free. It's called Rio Brazilian Grill. They have kind of like a food/salad bar, but the main thing there is the meat. They come by from table to table with a big hunk of roast or a shish kabob of meats on a long poker, then cuts off slices onto your plate with this really sharp sword-like knife. It's really, really good and a lot of fun. Hey, when the price is right... We went last week. I'm not sure if we're planning on going again this week or not.

My bike is back and is "fixed"...I should say that the spokes and wheel that I asked them to fix are repaired. There's a few other things that need done, but I can do some of them myself with the handy little bike tool I have now. Thank you again, Mom and Dad. My card was rejected at the bike place so I had to use money from my allotment (which we're not supposed to use for bike repairs), so I'll have to take some money out of the account sometime, probably today.

We might be going to the Sequoia National Park next Monday. It hasn't been finalized, but hopefully so. It's closer I guess than Yosemite. I'm not sure if I'll have time to email next week, but we may. We'll find out later I suppose. Last week was so busy with shopping. Since my bike was in the shop, we got a ride with another set of elders to go shopping. We didn't get back to the apartment until maybe 5:00. I didn't really get any letters written, but I'll do better today, hopefully.

Jeanette, did you ever serve in Cody, WY? I might have asked you that last week, but I can't remember, so I ask again. Elder Dickson (and also Elder Carter who was both my MTC companion and Elder Dickson's last companion and Elder Jorgensen's current companion in Modesto) is from Cody.

There are a couple of things that I would like, but nothing (that I'm listing :)) that costs much. If someone could print out instructions on how to "true" bike tires with a spoke wrench to get it spinning straight, and send it to me in a letter, that'd be great. I have a multi-tool that has a spoke wrench on it, but I'm not sure how to use it. I think it's a matter of tightening some and loosening others, but I need some kind of Dummy's Guide or something. Also, I still want pictures of everything. The picture album you sent, Mom and Dad, is great. I pretty much want to fill it now. Family pictures, pets (past and present), houses (past and present)... I sound so needy, but there we have it. :) Oh, also I want pictures of when I had the Scottish/mountain man beard, as well as the goatee. No one I tell it to can imagine it.

I forgot my camera/picture card at the apartment, so I can't make any picture CD’s to send home this week. I'll try to remember next week. I have enough I think, to make two. If we go to the sequoias, there may be a third; we'll see. Good stuff.

So yeah, the work is going good. There are a lot of people who are willing to talk with us (more than in Modesto, I think we have the plague up there), but not a great number (like anywhere) who are really wanting to sit down and learn for themselves. It's a nice area though. It's another area where you have everything from very rich to very poor. It's not quite as much of a contrast as the Modesto area was, but it's still there. There are pros and cons of Visalia vs. Modesto, so it's good. It's a lot more rural here than Modesto was. That's really good. I'm more comfortable in small towns and country (granted 130,000 isn't exactly a small town, but compared to 200,000, there's a big difference. One of these transfers I'm hoping to get transferred to one of the booney areas. Well, as boonyish as anywhere in the valley gets. The foothills of the mountains are more laid back, I hear. Hopefully in the next few weeks a recent convert here will be going to do temple baptisms. We can go to that. On the 24th, an investigator, Ann, is getting baptized. We set up another baptism date this week with Sandor. He doesn't turn 18 until late August though, so it'll be on August 29th. He's been waiting for some time, being taught the lessons over and over, waiting until he becomes an adult and can move out. We have our zone conference this Thursday. That's always something to look forward to. This ward is really, really good about team-ups. We have one pretty much every night of the week, and some days twice. It's nice to get around faster and be in air conditioning once in awhile.

I don't remember if I mentioned what we did for the 4th or not. We went to a member's home for the evening, and then when we were at our apartment planning, we heard the fireworks, so we stepped outside and were able to watch them. Aside from the laws in CA about fireworks, there were many remnants littering the streets of what's considered illegal here. Anything that explodes or shoots up is against the law. I love Missouri's fireworks laws...or lack-thereof. It's drier down south, here. Well, I'm off. I'm going to try to get a few letters written today. I haven't kept track of who I wrote and when, so if some of you get more letters than others, I'm sorry. It's not that I like anyone more than others, but that I'm not well organized. It's a work in progress. I hope everyone is having a great week.
Love,
Aaron

Friday, July 10, 2009

July 5, 2009

Alright, I have to make this very short because I don't have much time. This is borrowed time because I forgot to bring my proof of address to get a library card for Visalia's libraries. In answer to your question, Mom, my shirt size as far as I know is 17 (it's the size of all my shirts, albeit a bit snug sometimes), but I really don't need any more shirts at this time, but thank you anyway. Our Fourth of July was interesting. We spent the evening with a couple of member families at their house (they were doing a BBQ party thing with games and whatever else). We couldn't be out without someone else past 7:00. We watched the fireworks from our apartment that evening. I'm now in the Visalia 2nd Ward and my companion's name is Elder Dickson. We get along really great, so that's good. He's from Cody, Wyoming (Jeanette, was that one of your areas or not?) and has been out only a transfer more than me. Last Tuesday my bike kept breaking on me. It was weird. First I find that a spoke had broken. Later I look and it turns out another one did as well. Then I sit on my bike later that afternoon and one of the springs that hold my bike seat on breaks in half (it's still ridable). Then later, I find that my bike tire is really low. It all happened within a couple of hours. Sheesh. I had to keep riding it for the week though (I aired up the tire). It's in the shop now for the spokes. I'm hoping it'll be a quick fix. He said he's try to have it done today, but no promises. Ok, I have to run as I'm out of time. I'll write more next week...maybe...no promises. I hope everything is going well for everyone!
Love,
Aaron

Monday, June 29, 2009

June 29, 2009

Well, I'll start out by saying that I'm getting transferred. I've been in the Modesto 5th Ward for 4 1/2 months, but am now moving to the Visalia 2nd Ward. I leave Wednesday. I keep hearing "It's so nice down there!" Then I'll hear twice as many people saying "It's about 10 degrees hotter down there." It got up into the 110+ degrees yesterday when they were telling me that, so...we'll see. Yeah, it's been up in the 100s lately. That's not too unusual here in the valley, I guess. It had been pretty mild so far, which is unusual for the area, with weather only in the 80s or so. But yeah, apparently I got attached to the ward here, more than I had thought. They had me bear my testimony at the end of sacrament meeting. It went fine. I blubbered though.

This morning was great! Our bishop took us to his office and to a sporting goods store. He is a big game hunter, who has been doing it for 15 years. His office is so stuffed with exotic animals/animal heads that he has to lend them out to various stores to put them on display. I'll be sending another picture CD soon. I took a lot of pictures. I swear, that man has any animal that is in existence...including those that no one knew existed...weird looking stuff, some of it. He gave each of us a strip of elephant skin as well...pretty sweet.

This last week had been really good. We redoubled our efforts and were able to teach twice as many lessons this week as last. We were also able to find a few new people to teach. We had been finding it hard to find anyone new or to catch anyone at home to teach, so our gusto had been lacking. Oh yeah, my new companion's name will be Elder Dixon, and it's an all-biking area. Elder Jorgensen's new companion will be Elder Taylor that was in my MTC district. Apparently they are just switching us because he's currently in the Visalia 2nd Ward. I'm bummed about leaving this area because I know everyone in the ward very well, and I know the area very well and I've been getting well entrenched in my little comfort zone. Also, there are a few baptisms, and maybe more, that will happen here this next transfer that I really wanted to be here for. The three that are set were supposed to happen this transfer, but all got pushed back for one reason or another. However it'll be great to be moving on and experiencing new things and meeting new people. I've gotten to the point here where I wasn't sure what else I could accomplish in this area. It'll be good. It's nice that it's a desert here, because it isn't raining on us most of the year. It gets kinda hot though. But there's relatively no humidity, so it wouldn't be like Illinois or Missouri. Today will be busy packing, along with everything else. I think I'll take off to spend the rest of my time while I'm waiting for others to get done, writing real letters. I'm not a fast writer (I prefer typing), so I don't get too many letters written, so sorry about that to anyone who hasn't been written for awhile. I hope you're all doing really well.
Love,
Aaron

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Missionary Field is Closed?


This is a picture that Aaron had taken at the MTC in Feb. I'm sure this has been done many times, but it's still funny and I thought you might enjoy it.


--MomAdd Image

Friday, June 26, 2009

Transfers are coming up

You can't be serious all the time!
Escalon is a small town a little bit north of Modesto (part of his area)


I think this was taken at a zone conference
There are several tall elders, huh?

No real furniture in his apartment -- just what is necessary for the work to be done.

June 22, 2009

Hello again, how is everything? Things are pretty much the usual here. I'm coming up on being here for 4.5 months in this area. We get the call on Saturday that says who, if either of us, gets transferred in 9 days. Time is going so fast. I hope I get transferred and I don't. We have three baptisms set for next transfer (all three of which I thought would happen this transfer), but at the same time... We did have a couple baptisms coming up this Saturday, but they're moved back again. It'll be ok though, they'll make it. It'd be good to stay as I know the entire area very well and most every member of the ward, whether active or not, very well. It would also be nice to go and get moved around a lot because that would give variety and a little less mundaneness to everything. I'm not sure what else I can do in this area. It's been really good though. When investigators come to church, it's always exciting...but when a less active individual that we've been working with and invite to come back starts becoming active again, it's so great! We have several individuals and families that we've been working with that have started coming back to church that haven't been in years. There's one in particular that came yesterday with his daughter. It was really great! About a week ago, we were at a family's home and they had a baby that was only maybe 5 days old. It was a boy, it was about ten days late...it was kind of weird. It was almost an identical situation as Drew it seemed. The stake here had a youth conference last week ago. Apparently that's a new concept out here. They kept referring to it as a mini-EFY. I guess it went really well and everyone that went loved it. The weather hasn't gotten too bad here yet. The highest it's gotten was 106, back in April. Apparently the weather has been extremely mild this summer so far. It's only been in the 80s-90s where it's usually in the 100s. They tell me that the valley is a dessert. They have irrigation canals all over and everyone has sprinkler systems because it just doesn't rain past March. They don't meter the water here either which I found strange. They don't have water towers either. They have pump stations scattered throughout town. We went to the Fresno temple on Tuesday, which is always really cool. I drove and we took another companionship with us. It's interesting for me to fit into our Corolla (which is pretty brand new, less than 5000 miles on it) when I have the seat all the way back. I fit, but I have to do a little maneuver to get my legs under the steering wheel. When I have to move my seat forward to accommodate other passengers into the back seat, driving a couple hours each way is....fun. Yeah, my legs got really cramped, but I'm ok. The car is really neat though. The antenna is a little bump near the back of the car. The most interesting thing about it, in my opinion, is that the headlights are automatic. They come on or go off depending on the lighting situations, so I don't have to worry about it at all. I'll be driving home at night and they'll just click on. It's great. Oh yeah, I got the package you sent, Mom, thanks for that! I admit I was disappointed it wasn’t really a grain mill, but I guess it's for the best. We don't have a Kitchen-Aid anyway. Oh well. I've been reading the New Testament lately along with Doctrine and Covenants. Good stuff. It's nice to have a greater understanding of things. That happens when one actually reads them. There used to be a church bookstore in the shopping complex about a block from our apartment. It's a shame it went out of business. On the other hand, with a missionary's allotment, it's all for the best perhaps. I think I mentioned this before, but I'll mention it again. This ward is a melting pot of financial levels. We have everyone from neurosurgeons to those on welfare, and everyone in between. It's interesting finding out what everyone does and (as an afterthought to gospel stuff) trying to figure out what I want to do and what I would need to do it. I was talking to one of the neurosurgeons here in the ward and he said he had to go to 14 years of schooling for it. Not that I was ever considering anything like that, but yikes! A mission certainly gives you a view of the rest of the world (and how much I like my own little world :)). Down the street from our apartment lives a Hindi family from Fiji that we talk to occasionally. Instead of a lawn, they have bean plants growing in their front lawn. It's peculiar, but in a weird way, bean plants do more for you than a grass lawn will. I'm out of time, but it's great hearing from everybody both with emails and letters. I'll try to write a few letters today. We have to do a ton of stuff today, but I'll try to rush and get a few out. Bye for now!
Love,
Aaron



Wednesday, June 17, 2009

June 15, 2009

I'll be sending my box off this afternoon. It's pretty light, but I'll have to use the debit card for it. It has a picture CD in it, I hope it works. I got the letters from Mom and Jeanette this week with the pictures in it. That kid is pretty darn cute. I imagine once he becomes human color and all the wrinkles are ironed out, he'll be even cuter. I kid, of course.

It's strange, when I first came out, everything was new and exciting, so I had lots to write about. Now everything is day to day and I have to keep trying to think of what is going on that I can write about. Well, transfers happen in just over two weeks from now, so we'll see. Our temple trip has been rescheduled for tomorrow instead of Thursday. Apparently they had double-booked. Ok, I really can't think of anything else to say. I hope everyone is doing really well.
Aaron

June 8, 2009

Yeah, I got the message from the mission about Drew! It totally made my day. It takes like a week between the time when a letter is sent and the time I get it, I think. It has to come to the mission office, then get forwarded onto me. This week's been full of mostly good news, let me tell you. I get the message saying that Drew was born. Later I find out that we are going to the Fresno temple on the 18th (it says in our resource binder that it's once every three transfers, but it apparently is every other transfer), I find out about Dustan's mission call today (really awesome!!). Good times, good times. I found myself this week (several times, weirdly enough) wanting to watch Pee Wee's Big Adventure. So was Drew born with a mischievous 'Clifford' smile, big lips, horns, an Indiana Jones hat on...any of that? Make sure that Dustan knows that he shouldn't bring his Pokemon on his mission--or is he still saving those for his honeymoon? HAA HAA. I'm so excited; I think our missions are even near each other, if not butting. We were doing our weekly planning on Friday, and then our stake correlation. It all took several hours of sitting at the desk. I may rationalize it to be because I was in an uncomfortable chair on a plastic desk with no computer and I wasn't about to lay down or lounge, but I found something to be very disconcerting. I found myself being very antsy and restless. I wanted to get moving and go out and work, to be doing something more than sitting around. I have this fear. I fear that when I get home eventually, I'll have to retrain myself to be able to sit in front of the computer of television for hours on end. It will be difficult, but where there's a will, there's a way. Like I said before, it says in our resource binder that it's every 4.5 months that we get to go to the temple, but apparently it's wrong and we can go on the 18th. I'm excited about that for sure. It still kills me how small it is. The changing rooms are itty-bitty, so sticking a few zones into them was interesting last time, and will be again. Alright, I'm reenergized for the week. I'd better get on with it.
Love,
Elder Barnard the 2nd
(Michael was the first and Dustan will be the 3rd...elder, anyway)

Monday, June 8, 2009

No baby as of yet, and you plan to induce on the day I get to check my email...so I'll find out in 7 days!! I know the plan. My nephew is building the suspense. Tricky little guy.

It turns out that attachments don't work with the library's emails. All pictures will have to be sent snail mail.

Elder Jorgensen got a letter this week from a friend of his that is serving in the Missouri St. Louis Mission and is currently in the Frontnac ward. It's really a small world in the church. Two elders in my district are having to leave their apartment in a member's home today, so they'll be staying with us for "a day or two" before the mission can find another place for them to live. Our apartment is just big enough for two people, so this is going to be interesting to have house guests, especially since we'll be sharing the same schedule, pretty much. So this is going to be interesting.

Thank you so much for sending that package, by the way! The day I got it was the day I picked up our bikes from the shop, and I used the tool right away. I really, really appreciate it. Plus, it's really nice having more than two choices of clothes to sleep in. I'm going to buy some Peter Pan peanut butter today at Walmart. I've had a few different brands out here so far, but it's just not the same. Maybe I'll get some good potato bread while I'm at it.... It's the first of the month so I have money again, but I think I'll probably go over my budget for this week. We'll see. It all works out. I'm hoping to send my box home today, so it should arrive sometime this week. Anyway, I hope you are all doing well, and I'll write more next week.
~Aaron

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

May 26, 2009

I've got to make this quick. The rule is, if the library is closed on Monday and we can't email, we get an hour and a half for emailing/lunch on Tuesday. Unfortunately, the library is about 15 minutes away, so it must be very quick and a quick lunch. I don't remember if I said it last week, but I finished the Book of Mormon for the first time on the mission. I've also read The Pearl of Great Price, Our Heritage and True to the Faith. I'm over half way through Our Search For Happiness, which is a really really good book thusfar. I hope everyone had a good Memorial's Day. We had to put both our bikes into the shop (mine's only costing me a suprisingly $11--nice) and won't have them until Wednesday. When we were picking up some loaner bikes (from a neural seurgen in the war (AMAZING home!)), they were having a pool party/bbq with several families in the ward. I was pretty jealous. Good times. I haven't gotten the package you sent, Mom, but probably will at the zone meeting on Thursday. I'm sending one of my own home (mainly letters I've received and some ties--you'll see.) I'm trying to do better about writing letters. There are some who haven't received one in awhile and I'm sorry about that. Monday is the shortest day of the week, and it's far from relaxing, trying to fit in as much as possible. It's still the best day of the week though, in my humble opinion. Time's up and I need to get back to work. I hope everyone is doing great!
Love,
Aaron

Friday, May 22, 2009

May 18, 2009

Summer is here, even if it isn't in Missouri. The past two days have been 100+. I keep hearing about random snows and cold weather back home and I'm thinking, what? It's been hot here for the past two months. Crazy stuff. Karen, you were talking about the baby and mom mentioned that he tried to break your ribs... I just had this great mental picture of a little Barnard/Jacobs "Clifford" fetus, with the psychotic smile, finding a rib with his little foot and giving it several firm kicks. Then I'm thinking about when you were talking about him finding your sciatic nerve and pushing on it. I'm imagining the smile and him rubbing his big toe into it thinking "found it...." Awww... Good stuff. Oh, both Elder Jorgensen and I will be here for at least another transfer. He had me convinced that I would be going elsewhere as this is my third transfer and usually missionaries get transferred after their first. I'm glad I'm staying though. We have two baptism dates set for next transfer, and many more that will be as well. It'll be good. I'm glad you're almost at summer vacation, Mom. That was always my favorite part of the school year. Will you be doing summer school or anything like it? In regards to what I say next, don't worry. I'm not overly-trunky or anything, and I'm not pining my days away wishing. So don't worry. :) It was so hard yesterday though. We walked into a member's home yesterday and I heard this music playing from the computer and I was like "OH! I know that music!" His son had been playing Runescape and it was on. Elder Jorgensen never got much into Runescape, but was into World of Warcraft, so he had pity on me. He says he feels the same way when someone's playing that. Anyway, they've made it with half-decent graphics and full screen now...bah! Forget all that productivity I had planned about a fulltime job and school and girlfriend and church duties. I'm spending the year after my mission vegging! Ok, not really. But I will have to find time to veg every once in awhile. This week was weird. We actually found someone to teach while tracting. It's the first time that's happened on my mission, and we knock on doors most every day. We've had several people tell us we can come back when they have more time, but none of which have actually let us teach them until now. Good stuff. Elder Jorgensen was lying in bed singing Christmas songs. I had to tactfully ask him to refrain from such actions. I was getting that ridiculous giddy feeling and the goofy grin and giggle I get when I think of Christmas. Yeah, "You're either too early or two late." There's a time and a place, and it is NOT in May. ...not that I have strong feelings on the subject. The bishop has offered to take us to his office one of these p-days. I'm really excited about that. He has all the animals he's shot, there. Apparently he just got his elephant head back from the taxidermist. It's too bad it's illegal for him to bring his polar bear into the United States. It's huge. I'm going to have to request a picture of it. Jeanne, the lady who had the stroke, is now back in our area. I'm really excited about that. This next transfer is going to be really good, I think. At the end of the first one, I still pretty much knew nothing. I had a really hard time getting to know both the people and the area. Now I know most of the streets by name and where they're located and most all the members in the ward, active and less-active. I feel like I can do a lot more good now. Alright, I'd better get on with my day. I'm hoping everyone is doing great, and have a wonderful week! Love,
Aaron

Sunday, May 10, 2009

May 4, 2009

Unfortunately, I had to get my bike seriously worked on. I'm roughly 260 lbs (at least a month ago I was, haven't checked recently) and the back tire just wasn't wanting to support that. I had to get a double-walled tire and it checked out. The tire was getting constantly all wobbly and bent out of shape and scraping against the brakes really bad. I still need to get a couple things fixed, but they may be things I can figure out on my own...hopefully, they're kind of annoying. I got a call from the mission asking me about the warranty and all that, and I really don't know anything about it, and I already had it in the shop. It turns out if I had gotten it to Fresno, I could've gotten it fixed a lot cheaper because of all the bikes they buy from the place there. But then again, I'm a good, 2, 2 1/2 hours from Fresno, so it wouldn't have been realistic. I'm sorry about having to call and ask for the money in the account, but I didn't have a choice.

This week went really well. We had two of our investigators commit to baptism this week, which is always fantastic. The mother had been investigating off and on for 11 years and is now excited about it. They won't get baptised until sometime in the middle of June, because her husband has to go out of town for work for about a month, so it had to be pushed back, but it's going to happen, which is great.

Transfers happen two weeks from Wednesday, which I'm kind of nervous about. Last transfer, I pretty much knew what to expect. Elder Whitney was going home, and so I pretty much just assumed I would stay here, and I did. This time I don't have any idea what's going to happen to me. Elder Jorgensen is thinking that I'll be transfered out since it's my first area, but who knows. Either way, it'll all work out.

Karen is getting so close. It seems so unreal because I'm not there to see it progressively happening, but I think it's so awesome. Poor kid, both a Barnard and a Jacobs. He'll be all over the place.

For my Mother's Day call, I will be calling home at about approximately 4:30 -your- time. We have to squeeze our calls in between when we get out of church and when we have our next appointment. I hope that time will be ok. I'll be calling from our cell phone from our apartment. I'm not sure why they're doing that, but they decided that's the way they're going to do it this time. I get 45 minutes, so, I'll be looking forward to that.

Everyone out here is freaking out over this swine flu thing. It's kind of pitiful. Mass histeria over the littlest thing...swine flu, sars, west nile, whatever the fad is that happens to be going around. Everyone with a cold tells us that we have to keep our distance because they may have swine flu. I didn't get my nap last week, but it was a busy p-day. This week shouldn't be that bad, so I'm really hoping today will be the day! I look forward to calling Sunday, and I hope all is going pretty well at home and with everyone!!
Love,
Aaron

Monday, April 27, 2009

April 27, 2009

Greetings, from the west coast...or at least the valley! I'm out here working up my farmer's tan, and yes, Karen, my legs are getting their workout from all the biking. Elder Jorgensen likes to bike a lot and likes to bike very fast. I'm able to go a lot faster and for longer periods of time than when I started for sure...still hurts, but that's ok. The weather has been cooperating. There was one day where we were out all day on our bikes and it was up toward 100. The rest of the days have stayed down from 70-90. Apparently I have 100-115 degree weather to look forward to here in the valley. That'll be nice and fun. I bought one of these water bladders that I can put into my backpack that has a hose that you drink from. It's been pretty much a lifesaver. I still don't have my bike fixed. I'm taking it into the shop this afternoon. I'm really hoping it's just simple and cheap repairs and they can give me advice on how to avoid or fix it in the future...who knows. I've been riding Elder Whitney's bike the past week, the one that he left behind. I like mine, enough said.

We've had more success this week in the area. We've seen more less-actives that have shown interest in returning to church. We had a couple of investigators come to church (which a few weeks ago and the few weeks before that, hadn't been happening), which is really good. It's getting easier not getting into politics lately. Mostly that's because no one had brought it up very much. When people feel the need to inform me about injustices that are going on in the world/country...it's like Grandpa Simpson, "We're not allowed to read newspapers. They angry up the blood!" I'm just glad I'm only here to catch the very tail-end of the prop 8 thing. Apparently it used to be REALLY big. I was thinking of parts of The RM this week and they made me laugh pretty hard. I can't wait to watch that when I get home. I told Elder Jorgensen that and he suggested I'm getting trunky. If that was true, I would be in real serious trouble. 21 months of trunkiness would be very troublesome.

Oh, I'm mailing a CD I made at Wal-Mart, today. Mostly they are pictures from the MTC. I made sure I took a lot of pictures there (not as many as I would have like to, but a lot all the same). There are a few from when I was here, but not many. I need to start getting shutter buggy again, but I'm too busy it seems. Alright, well my time is running out, so I will say goodbye for now. I'm getting more regular letters written today (I hope), so keep writing! :D I hope everyone is doing really well!
~~Aaron

(Since Aaron says he mailed a CD with pictures, maybe I'll have something to put on the blog. Hopefully something good.)
--Mom