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.

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.

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.

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.

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.