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