Tuesday, December 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aaron

Monday, December 20, 2010

Merry Christmas!!

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

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

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

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

Merry Christmas!!

Aaron

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

I baptized Erin

I gave my farewell testimony, yesterday. We had our Christmas zone conference and all the missionaries that came into the mission in the past couple of transfers and those that go home this and next transfer bore their testimonies. There were a lot. It was a strange kind of thing being one of the ones giving the farewell testimonies.

They had another slideshow of pictures from the year. This one was an improvement over last year's. I didn't see the finished copy of last year's, but this one was pretty good.

We had a baptism. I baptized Erin on Saturday. It was touch and go because she can be shy sometimes, but it happened and was awesome.

They had a stake fireside thing on Sunday evening that was really good. There was a little bit of speaking, but mostly it was singing and instruments. Most of the ward's had choirs and others got together to do special musical numbers. One or two of them weren't very good, but most were really talented. Today, Wednesday, is our preparation day because we had a temple trip this morning. I love the temple. I really do. I don't like leaving it, to be honest. It's so weird that Christmas is a week from Saturday. I don't know what the plan is for it, yet. I know who we are having dinner with, but I don't know anything about time. I'll get back to everyone about my time to call. Everyone have a good week.

Aaron

Monday, December 6, 2010

We're sacrificing to progress the work.

It was a busy beginning of the week. We had a Mission Leadership Council meeting on Wednesday, where all the district and zone leaders and the assistants had a meeting with President Gonzalez in Fresno at the mission office. I was there in April and of course when I got into the mission, but it's still weird being there since it was the first place that we went and spent the day, so long ago. It was a good meeting. The next day we had an emergency zone meeting with the whole zone, here in Merced. It was just all about how we can best fulfill our purpose and help those who have already shown signs of progression to accept a date in December and make it. We have a lot of potential in our area. They just aren't doing it. There's something lacking that we haven't been able to place our finger on. In this ward, we haven't really had the problem of getting our investigators to get to sacrament meeting. That has been fairly easy for most of them. It's going any further than that. We have an investigator, Ricardo, that just finished The Book of Mormon this week. He's been working on it for a few months and has completed it. We have a baptism coming up this weekend. I'm pretty sure we'll be doing it on Saturday afternoon. Her name is Erin and she's the 15 year old sister of an active member who has been meeting with us for three or four months. There have been a lot of ridges and hills in her teaching, but it's good now. She seems pretty excited.

I had an exchange in the Spanish area. I really don't speak Spanish, but I do understand a lot more than I did before my mission, to be sure. If I were to get proficient in it, I would have to actually study. Everything I have is base observation. This exchange still involved a lot of blank stares and half-smiles on my face, to be sure.

During the zone meeting that we had, it was decided by everyone that we would sacrifice listening to music for the rest of the year, to be able to baptize. I'm not a fan of not listening to music, especially around Christmas time, but they don't call it sacrifice because it's easy. I had just received the package with the two Christmas CDs, the day before. I got to listen to Christmas In Europe a couple of times before I have to pack it away again, and Elder Moore had the Josh Groban one, so I've listened to that a few times earlier. Oh well. We'll do what we can.

So what's the overall plan for the family on Christmas? Where will everyone be going and doing? I'm still not sure where I'll be going on Christmas or how all of that will work. I'm really curious about when transfer calls are going to be as well. The day we would normally receive them is on Christmas Day itself. I don't know if he'll get them figured out before that and get them out on Friday or if they'll get stalled and we'll get them on Sunday. Maybe he'll be making calls on Christmas itself. I don't know. Whatever it is, it'll be interesting to see. I'll be starting my exchanges with the rest of the district this week. I have four more to fit into the next two weeks, I believe. It'll work out. Things are going pretty well right now.

Aaron

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Merry Christmas!

Well, Merry Christmas everyone! It's that time again. Thanksgiving went well. We've had a few turkey dinners so far. We had a nice small family dinner on Thursday with a family. On Saturday we had a 2:00 dinner with a huge family and ate a ton, then followed it with a 5:00 turkey dinner where they expected us to be hungry. We didn't tell them we had just stuffed ourselves silly. It was...rather painful, actually. It was all really good at all the dinners, but it was--yeah, we were supported with the ability to sustain it all. At the big dinner, they are related to a huge family from my training area, Modesto 5th Ward. They were all down for it and it was a lot of fun to talk to them and catch up. Some of them were here a week ago and I got to talk to them then, but this was longer and there were more of them.

It's been getting cold around here. It is nothing compared to the Midwest in either temperature or humidity, but I don't bike in it back home, either. We had such a great week in the district. It was nuts. We went from having 3 investigators with baptism dates to having 13 for December. More can be set, as well. There is definite potential for more. Everything looked up this week. I'll be starting the exchanges this week. I hate exchanges, but I'll make them good this time. I also have a zone leadership meeting in Fresno on Wednesday. It'll be every zone leader and district leader in the mission meeting together. I'm sure it'll be mostly about, "What can we do for the missionaries to really encourage them to do everything they can?" We had a goal this year of 1200 baptized in 2010. The way it's looking we'll get the same amount as last year, or thereabouts: 900. That isn't bad at all, but I know how much President Gonzalez wants to surpass that, at minimum. It just hasn't been as much of a priority as last year was. It'll be good, though.

December is going to be great. It's nice being with a Spanish-called missionary because, apart from having language study, which is a great time to get things done, he has a lot of enthusiasm toward baptism, which is something I may have lacked. Spanish speaking people just about flock to the font. What is everyone doing for Christmas? How was everyone's Thanksgiving? What are the plans? We don't have any Christmas plans, yet. I don't even know which rated G movie we are going to watch. It's an important decision that can't be made rashly, after all. I hope everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Belated Photos from Yosemite

Here are just a few of the pictures Aaron took on his trip to Yosemite. A very nice senior couple took them to Yosemite on their p-day. We've had his picture CD for a couple of weeks or so, but I just didn't think to put them up for you. Sorry.


A lovely rushing water scene. Makes you want to be there.
This is even better with Aaron in it.

The cliffs are really high.

The smaller waterfall in the lower left
shows you how big this one really is.

An overview of the park.
Aaron zooms in on what appears to be an avalanche.

In the background you can see the remnants of the avalanche.

Aaron clowns with the sign.

This obviously wasn't at the park, but it was on the same CD.
Baptismal pictures are always keepers.


Monday, November 22, 2010

Three Thanksgiving Dinners Coming Up!

Well, transfers happened. Elder Goodsell is now in Visalia, and Elder Moore is here with me. It turns out that Elder Moore was called to a Spanish-speaking mission, so this is his first all-English area and his first time with an all-English companion. I think he's still confused why he's here, but he's adjusting. I get language study in the mornings! I'm so excited about that. Having that extra hour in the morning to get things done and catch up is so nice. That's going to help me out so much. Maybe I can learn a bit of Spanish while I'm at it.

We had a really good day at church. We had six investigators there. Some of those are regulars, but some of them it was their first and second times. We had a couple of investigators that should have been there that weren't, so that's always a bit frustrating, but ok. They'll come next week, naturally. The talks and the musical number were really good, as well. I ran into a family that is in my first area, the other day. They're related to a family here, and they were visiting.

We have at least three Thanksgiving dinners this week, coming up. There is one on Thursday itself, and then two on Saturday with families that are having their's then. I thought I was gaining weight, but not yet. I'm not losing anymore, though, so that's good. I have had a cold since Thursday morning. Elder Moore came here with one and by the next morning he decided it was time to share it, I guess. Our apartment had a Mexican makeover. He isn't Mexican himself, but Spanish-speaking, he has accumulated all of these flags and posters and maps and sheets that he has hung on the walls so they wouldn't be white and blank. He is from the Seattle area and his dad's in the Navy. He's been out for about 15 months or so. A couple of months before he goes home, his family will be moving to San Diego, so that's where he'll be going to. My first companion had that happen to him, where his family moved while he was away. I would have worried about that if I didn't know how much Dad hates moving.

Today should be very busy, as usual. I have to prepare everything I need to for district meeting tomorrow, and also cut my hair, and clean the apartment, hopefully write a couple of letters, and all sorts of things like that. I'll catch up. The weather has been kind of erratic, but cooperative. It's rained four times in the past week. Three of those times was at night, and one was while we were at church. Those are my favorite kinds. That's very acceptable. I really don't care for biking in the cold rain. That's ok, though. It comes with the territory. In a couple of weeks, we should be having a temple trip. It's been longer than usual since I've been, so I'm really looking forward to that. The week after that, I believe, we have our Christmas zone conference. I sent pictures in this time, so hopefully I'll be in the slideshow more than last year's. I hope everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Monday, November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

November 15, 2010

I'm glad you're home and had a good trip. The Ring Christmas Bells CD is just the case. I still have the cd in a case, here. I would like the Christmas In Europe and the Josh Groban: Noel. That should be sufficient. I hear you're celebrating Thanksgiving this Saturday at Jeanette's. I still can't believe it's been two years since I got my mission call. I think I got it on November 14th or somewhere around there. I'd have to check my old journal. I'll write the rest in my email and letter. I love you both.

Love,

Aaron

Holy cow...I'm staying. This will be my fifth transfer here in the Merced 3rd Ward. I'm excited because I pretty much really wanted to stay. There were a few reasons I wanted to get transferred, but overall I really wanted to stay. Elder Goodsell is going down to Visalia 1st, one of my old areas. Two other elders in the district are heading to Modesto 8th and Visalia 2nd, also two my areas. It was pretty weird. I really am glad I'm staying. I still have a few things I really need to do while I'm here. I know it.

Well, we had a zone conference with Elder Skybrowski of the 2nd Quorum of the Seventy and his wife there. It was good. We got chastised about a few things, and it was overall a good experience. Their son had served in the mission and had been an assistant a few years ago. Their son and his wife were there and spoke a bit. I met his son earlier in the year at a baptism in Modesto. It was someone he had taught years before who finally got baptized, so he and his companion at the time both came back to baptize one each. It was pretty cool.

Due to having zone conference with a General Authority this past week, transfer calls were late. During that week, President Gonzalez would normally be at the transfer board (a board that has all the areas and our pictures on felt or something). Instead, he had three of the days where he was at zone conferences. We didn't get calls until this morning. All the elders in the district were constantly calling..."Helloo.....where are the transfer calls...?" I basically told them to endure to the end and they'll come when they come. I'm jaded to the calls by now, I think.

We had a goal in the zone for everyone to set a baptism date with someone new and also to bring someone to a baptism that was happening in the district. We didn't have anyone, then on Sunday a lady brought her son to church and he said he wanted to get taught and baptized. Now, he isn't the most golden investigator, but he seems very sincere. He also came to the baptism that happened last night. It was pretty neat to see. Also, that baptism, I had been on an exchange last transfer and had taught her a lesson that was one of the best I had ever been in. It was really neat to be there. I have to run because I have no time left, but everyone have a great Thanksgiving!

Aaron

October 25, 2010

It's starting to get more rainy. So far it's been pretty good. I don't mind gentle rains, which it is mostly here. Even when it pours, the raindrops are still quite small. It's just a lot of little drops. Every once in awhile we'll have a real downpour with big drops and the works, but it isn't the usual thing. It's Elder Goodsell's birthday, today. He's 20, and is pretty excited about it. It kind of reminds me of Jason, a bit. We have a couple people set up for tonight that know it's his birthday, along with the lessons. I'm sure it'll be recognized and everything. I wrecked my bike this week! It was a real blow to my pride--an even bigger blow to my pride than my body and bike. It's the first time I have ever wrecked my bike, which was a pretty good accomplishment and I was hoping that I would never do it. There was a storm drain grate that is broken or too small or something that my front tire went into and I almost went over the handlebars. I was able to go sideways, somehow, and only landed on my side. My front wheel got messed up and both sets of brakes. They're mostly fixed, now, but I may have to have the bike shop look at that back brake...I'll look at it again today. Apart from that, I skinned my hand a bit, my right leg got scraped up by the front gears, and my left leg is kind of bruised and swollen in places from my bike (and me) landing on it. I'm ok, though. Like I said, it was mostly my pride that got hurt, thankfully. I need a little humbling every now and then. I did a couple exchanges this past week and will be doing two more this week. Today, like I say every week, is going to be very hectic. I have a lot of cleaning and other things to take care of. It'll get done, though. Last week, they wanted to go play basketball and it was a waste of a needed day. I have to go, but I love you all.

I'm on the 15 minute computer again. This is the second time I've logged onto it, so I have to do my emailing in spurts and hope no one reserves the computer. The week went pretty well. We still haven't been able to meet with Erin, which is really a bummer. We're going to call her member sister today and try to get that going, again. We had stake conference, yesterday. It was...pretty boring. There were one or two interesting things in the talks, but it was overall pretty boring. One guy from our ward spent his talk expounding the book of Revelation about the seals and the eyes and the horns and the books, etc. It was...interesting. We had several investigators there, though, so that was good. None of the ones there are progressing toward baptism, though, so that's too bad. Maybe they will, though. Who knows. Our mission president's wife and another senior sister have been touring the mission to certain areas and doing apartment checks. It has always been the zone leaders that do transfer apartment checks to check up on their cleanliness, but they were doing something special. They stopped by our apartment, and although overall it looked pretty good, there were a lot of things they were asking for that was mostly deep cleaning things...and a few regular maintenance issues. It's all about having time for it though. I just need to be using all my time effectively like I used to do. Today will be a lot of cleaning after I get all the preliminary things done--mostly finishing the district meeting agenda and things like that that I have sitting around. I also have some sewing I really need to do. I have a couple pairs of pants that I can't wear because they need sewing that badly, which shows just how bad it has gotten. Not too, too much is happening right now that's too exciting, but I will be sure to make exciting things happen. Have a great week everyone!

I asked my mission president again about Christmas CDs because apparently the music policy has changed a bit. It doesn't necessarily have to be an LDS artist. If you could sent the Josh Groban: Noel and the Christmas In Europe CDs again, when you get home of course, that would be outstanding. I was excited to hear that they are now allowed. My bike's problems now aren't due to it breaking just because it stinks, but from an alternate source, which is nice. Like I said in the other email. It's ok mostly. I just need to do something about that back brake. Hopefully it won't take too much. You're on the train right now. The Amtrak comes through Merced all the time with three or four cars on it. I always love seeing it pass by. I'm pretty sure I never came through central CA before, but just on the coast, but I don't know. Either way it's interesting to see. I love you both--out of time

Love,

Aaron

November 1, 2010

How is your trip here in California? I hope you're having a great time. I can't believe you were in Merced! That's crazy. The Amtrak passes by on the tracks all the time. What time, about, did you pass through? Do you remember?

I don't have a lot of time on the email today. I have had a full hour, but the missionary department had us all doing a mandatory Preach My Gospel survey that took a really long time. We had a great thing happen this week. I was on an exchange with an elder in the district (It's all in the same city, so we're all right next to each other. There's no going from city to city, here.) on Wednesday, and I ran into Erin, the investigator that was going to be baptized and then she got embarrassed, walking home from school. I talked to her a little, but then she stormed off. I talked to her sister on the phone the next day and was trying to figure out what could be done to help her. A couple days later we were at the stake’s Trunk or Treat activity (which went well and was a lot of fun) and she surprised us by being there with a smile on her face, apologizing for the way she acted. She was just embarrassed. I'm not sure if I told you the details of that whole situation. I don't have the time right now to do it, but let me know if you don't know about it. We have an appointment with her tomorrow night. It'll be really good to be teaching her again. She shows a lot of promise. I went on another exchange last week and will be going on another this week. That'll be the last of them.

I got so much done last night. We had to be in at 6:00 for Halloween, and that allotted me lots of time to get everything done. It was the end of the day, and the end of the week, and also the end of the month, so there was a lot of paperwork and reporting over the phone that took a long time. I also got things straightened up around my desk, a few little projects done, and district meeting sorted out for this week. I still have a million things to do, but they are getting done. This week is going to go really well. We have made a lot of goals to really pick things up from what they've been. It'll be exciting. I hope you two have a great trip for the rest of it. I look forward to hearing from you. I love you both.

Love,

Aaron

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

I wrecked my bike.

It's starting to get more rainy. So far it's been pretty good. I don't mind gentle rains, which it is mostly here. Even when it pours, the raindrops are still quite small. It's just a lot of little drops. Every once in awhile we'll have a real downpour with big drops and the works, but it isn't the usual thing. It's Elder Goodsell's birthday, today. He's 20, and is pretty excited about it. It kind of reminds me of Jason, a bit. We have a couple people set up for tonight that know it's his birthday, along with the lessons. I'm sure it'll be recognized and everything. I wrecked my bike this week! It was a real blow to my pride--an even bigger blow to my pride than my body and bike. It's the first time I have ever wrecked my bike, which was a pretty good accomplishment and I was hoping that I would never do it. There was a storm drain grate that is broken or too small or something that my front tire went into and I almost went over the handlebars. I was able to go sideways, somehow, and only landed on my side. My front wheel got messed up and both sets of brakes. They're mostly fixed, now, but I may have to have the bike shop look at that back brake...I'll look at it again today. Apart from that, I skinned my hand a bit, my right leg got scraped up by the front gears, and my left leg is kind of bruised and swollen in places from my bike (and me) landing on it. I'm ok, though. Like I said, it was mostly my pride that got hurt, thankfully. I need a little humbling every now and then. I did a couple exchanges this past week and will be doing two more this week. Today, like I say every week, is going to be very hectic. I have a lot of cleaning and other things to take care of. It'll get done, though. Last week, they wanted to go play basketball and it was a waste of a needed day. I have to go, but I love you all.

I'm on the 15 minute computer again. This is the second time I've logged onto it, so I have to do my emailing in spurts and hope no one reserves the computer. The week went pretty well. We still haven't been able to meet with Erin, which is really a bummer. We're going to call her member sister today and try to get that going, again. We had stake conference, yesterday. It was...pretty boring. There were one or two interesting things in the talks, but it was overall pretty boring. One guy from our ward spent his talk expounding the book of Revelation about the seals and the eyes and the horns and the books, etc. It was...interesting. We had several investigators there, though, so that was good. None of the ones there are progressing toward baptism, though, so that's too bad. Maybe they will, though. Who knows. Our mission president's wife and another senior sister have been touring the mission to certain areas and doing apartment checks. It has always been the zone leaders that do transfer apartment checks to check up on their cleanliness, but they were doing something special. They stopped by our apartment, and although overall it looked pretty good, there were a lot of things they were asking for that was mostly deep cleaning things...and a few regular maintenance issues. It's all about having time for it though. I just need to be using all my time effectively like I used to do. Today will be a lot of cleaning after I get all the preliminary things done--mostly finishing the district meeting agenda and things like that that I have sitting around. I also have some sewing I really need to do. I have a couple pairs of pants that I can't wear because they need sewing that badly, which shows just how bad it has gotten. Not too, too much is happening right now that's too exciting, but I will be sure to make exciting things happen. Have a great week everyone!

I asked my mission president again about Christmas CDs because apparently the music policy has changed a bit. It doesn't necessarily have to be an LDS artist. If you could sent the Josh Groban: Noel and the Christmas In Europe CDs again, when you get home of course, that would be outstanding. I was excited to hear that they are now allowed. My bike's problems now aren't due to it breaking just because it stinks, but from an alternate source, which is nice. Like I said in the other email. It's ok mostly. I just need to do something about that back brake. Hopefully it won't take too much. You're on the train right now. The Amtrak comes through Merced all the time with three or four cars on it. I always love seeing it pass by. I'm pretty sure I never came through central CA before, but just on the coast, but I don't know. Either way it's interesting to see. I love you both--out of time

Love,

Aaron

Monday, October 18, 2010

The work progresses well.

The beginning of every transfer is always so busy and hectic. Things are going really well, though. I'm glad I stayed again, because things really are going quite well. The ward has been slowly but surely stepping up to the plate on everything and showing a lot more support of the missionary effort. We had two baptisms on Saturday and they were confirmed on Sunday. We have one person with a date in late November and another that we'll have to reset the date with. She's embarrassed about some stuff and feels she needs more time, which we agree with. She was trying to rush herself and jump into something she wasn't really ready to be fully immersed in (not a baptism pun, but it works). It's mostly a whole social thing. She's 15... It was overall a good week.

My email time is limited today as well. This time I'm on a 15 minute computer and a lot of that time was spent reading emails. It's started raining again. It rained a couple days a couple weeks ago, but it's starting to be more constant now. I don't mind it really. I'm just not really looking forward to being constantly wet and cold and never really drying out. It'll be good though. The rain hasn't washed the roads yet, so it still has dirt and sand and everything else on it, so our pants and shoes are still being covered in splatters. That should start going away as the roads are cleared by the rain.

We had a really good day at church, yesterday. We had a few investigators there, and some less-active members we've been working with. After all that, we had some good meetings. This week we have a zone meeting and our president's interviews which is now only every other transfer. The temple trip that would normally be this transfer is rescheduled for around Christmas. Have a great week.

Aaron

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Yosemite was amazing!!

La-de-da-de-da...I'm walking from priesthood opening exercises to elders quorum in another room, passing the foyer..."Tom!" I come across Tom Wilson and his wife and kids. It's really kind of freaky, the worlds colliding like that. We talked for a little while, took a few pictures, then we went on with our days. He was visiting Jeff, who was blessing his baby in the branch.

Yosemite was amazing! It's absolutely gorgeous. All places have beauty, but this place really does. All of the mountains are granite that had been carved by a glacier, so even the sheer rock themselves are all sorts of colors. The waterfalls weren't rushing, but most of them were still going. We took a lot of pictures and climbed on a lot of rocks and had a good time. It was really really good to get out into the country and far out of the city. It puts everything into perspective.

We set a couple new baptism dates last week. One of them is for the 17th (Sunday) and the other is for the 27th of November. We should be having three baptisms this weekend, when all goes well. A lot of preparation still needs to be done. I'll write more about them later.

I got to do some interviews for these four youth in the Hmong branch, then on Sunday we attended their baptisms. Their ages ranged from 9-16, so it was kind of fun determining how I should approach all of them, especially when asking about the law of chastity. They're good kids.

All of the transfers went well. The work is moving forward and is doing very well, here. It's really good to see that, too. At the end of this transfer I'll have been here for about 6 months or so. This is the longest I've stayed in any one area. I only have two more transfers after this, so I'll likely have one more area, somewhere. I have to get rushing, but I hope everyone has a great week!
Aaron

Monday, October 4, 2010

Captain Aaroni (Captain Moroni is his scriptural hero)

He is working to develop a good healthy diet.

Aaron in the church's grape vineyard.
They pick these to make raisins for the church's welfare system.


Here he is again in the vineyard.

None of these are his current companion but it's a good picture.

We got our transfer calls. Both Elder Goodsell and I are staying. I pretty much expected it. All three district leaders are staying in their place this transfer. I figured they would do that as much as possible because of the new training and all. We usually receive our calls on Saturday night, but I'm guessing due to Conference, and not having as much time throughout the day to make 'leadership calls', it got pushed back. The zone leaders are in my district and one of them is leaving to be the new assistant to the president. Another elder is going up to the Modesto 2nd Ward. I'm pretty jealous about that, to be sure. I'll be sure to give him a small list of people to go to and advice and everything else that every missionary who has served where you're about to go to does. It was a really good ward. I'm glad to be staying. Things have really started looking up in the work, here, and I would hate to miss it.

I turn 20 months old today. It's insane that I only just a little over 4 left. The craziest part about that is that I still feel like I should be new--not that I feel new--but I feel like I should be new. I'll hopefully be going to Yosemite next Monday, so I may not email next week. The senior couple in the district have asked us if we'd like to go. As I've never been and want to go and don't have too much time left to procrastinate it any further, we're going. We're just waiting to get the green light from the mission to be able to go.

General Conference was amazing. I loved all of it, but especially the priesthood session. Every talk in there was really good. The biggest focus that I could catch in all of it was letting everyone know that Lucifer was around before and is here now and we need to not be hooked by him. That's what I got more than anything else, I think. It seemed like every talk came back to that, just about.

We set up two baptism dates for later this month, this week. Tomorrow, we're going to set up another. She will almost for sure say yes and probably have it done before the end of the month. I'm really glad I'm staying in the area. I would have hated if it had been like last time when I moved and we had a triple baptism planned that weekend. The elder that is going to Fresno to be the new assistant will be leaving this afternoon, so we'll have Elder Arias with us for a couple of days, in a 'threesome'. It'll be interesting, fitting everything in. It'll be good. Everyone have a great week

Aaron

Monday, September 27, 2010

The work is going well.

It's been a really good week. My exchanges are over, which is something to be very thankful for. I had a couple this week. They didn't go badly or anything, but it's always nice to have them over and out of the way. The ward is doing amazing in their work. Missionary work has really been on the back burner, lately, but they're turning up the heat a little.

We got a new assistant ward mission leader the other week and he's gone to town, rallying the troops. It's nice. We had our first Missionary Coordination Meeting that I have had in this area. They're doing all new things to get the ward active in the work. We've been having some success ourselves, as well. We still don't have anyone with a baptism date right now, but we have a few that I feel are a matter of a short amount of time. I think with a renewed ward effort to do their part, that'll quickly change around.

I had an intense dream the other night. It's too complicated and personal to put on here, but it was really intense. It was a dream within my other dreams. I was scared that I would wake up and forget it in every other dream I had that night (That included when Elder Hansen and I were a pizza delivery team.) When I woke up, I prayed fervently and went and wrote it down. Thankfully I was able to get it all down and still haven't really forgotten it. It was a good experience, I think.

I made a package to send home today. It's nothing too exciting. There's a picture CD and letter, letters that I've accumulated, and the ton of coins I got from that really nice lady. There are one or two other knick-knacks in there, but that's the bulk of it. I'm just thankful for flat-rate boxes. I'll be finding out on Saturday about what transfers will hold in store for me. More and more quickly these transfers happen, it seems. They don't, but it seems as such. Here's hoping everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interesting . . .

All I know is, the first email I open was pictures of a newborn baby in the arms of my parents and siblings, sent by Karen, with no explanation. Then, when I read the email from Mom, it all came together. I was trying to figure out just who this baby belonged to. That's awesome that something came through with the foster parent thing. I guess those kind of things happens without a whole lot of notice beforehand; possibly any.

We had a really good week. Most of our key indicators have shot up, recently. The only real thing we've done differently is try to set up as many appointments with everyone that we can. There is a sister in the ward that has siblings that aren't members of the church and wanted to learn more, so we're teaching them at her house. We have only been able to teach them once, but we have another appointment tonight.

I will be making another picture CD today. I don't have my box ready to be sent home, yet, but I will mail that next week. It's mostly packed full of old letters and coins, so it's very very heavy. Thank goodness for flat-rate boxes.--$10.-something for the whole thing.

The apartment is getting clean, today. I always say that and it never really happens. Some stuff gets picked up, or maybe something gets vacuumed or something, but it hasn't really gotten a good cleaning because things always come up--legitimate things or laziness...either one. Today, it happens. I started this morning and it all looks much nicer without papers everywhere and things getting lost.

I'm out of time. I hope everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Monday, September 13, 2010

Crazy, busy week. . . .

This past week was so crazy-busy. It was really good because we really only had to plan backups...mostly. Some days were more filled than others, but it was pretty packed. We had a lot of appointments, mingled with two exchanges, church, weekly planning, zone/district meeting, preparation day, two days of 'specialized training' for the new Preach My Gospel focuses, etc. It was nuts. This week will be calm...er. I was with one of our zone leaders in their area on one of the exchanges. It's always kind of awkward being in a Spanish area because, well, I don't speak Spanish. I spend all day with my eyes flitting back and forth as they fluently prattle on, with a half-smile on my face so I don't look bored. I never really know what to do in situations like that, so I just look like an idiot. Every now and then someone will say something, and everyone's eyes will look in my direction and everyone laughs. Language barriers...I definitely need to break through a couple of those some day.

I was on a normal (English) exchange on Saturday. We spent the morning doing service for a friend of some members. She is older and disabled and her garage was packed and unusable. We and several members of the ward went over and took everything out, organized it, cleaned out the garage, then put everything that didn't get thrown away back inside it. It was amazing toward the end, because we were telling more about ourselves and she asked us why we were helping her, and she bursts into tears and says "I mean, you don't even know me!" She continues by throwing her arms around the other elder who, with wide eyes, pats her awkwardly on the back. Then she turns to me and I just put my arms out and accepted the inevitable. She was very appreciative of everyone's help and invited the missionaries back, any time, to talk. Earlier in the day, I overheard her say, "Oh, it's just a bag of old coins. It was my parents, but I don't really care about it. Just put it over there and maybe I can find someone who wants it." I felt like a dog who hears the words, "Do you wanna go out?" I asked her if she wanted to sell them, but she gave them to me. There isn't anything (to my knowledge) too valuable, but I just love old stuff. It was really nice of her.

We had a reorganization of the Elders Quorum in our ward, since our president moved due to work. Now, the man who was serving as 1st councilor is our assistant ward mission leader. He'll do really well with it. We'll be having a zone activity, today. It'll probably be volleyball or something, with fewer missionaries as last time. Some of the companionships that live farther away have decided to not come. There are still a lot that will be there, I'm sure. I spent most of last preparation day catching up on some stuff.

We had two days of the specialized training in Turlock. President Gonzalez bought everyone lunch from a taco truck (mobile Mexican-food) on Friday. A lot of them look like a converted RV or something, kind of like you would see at Grayville Days or something, but this one was a huge bus converted into a sit-down or take-out restaurant. It's kind of bizarre, but amazing food. Amazingly fatty, I'm sure, but really, really good. We have one more day of the training; then we will get the new DVDs and training packets for the new focuses. Applying them in teaching is actually really amazing. They're all stuff we should have already been doing, but now the focus goes onto teaching skills over learning and giving lessons. It's the next step, like Preach My Gospel already did. It's the middle of September. The days are starting to get cooler, sometimes. Some days it's still in the high 90s or in the 100s, but lately it's been in the 60s-80s. Last year, in Visalia, it was 100+ constantly until one day, all the sudden, the 'fever' broke and it was in the 70s. That was hard on my immune system and I quickly developed a terrible cold and lost my voice for a few days. I'm glad it does a gradual thing, here. I hope everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Thursday, September 9, 2010

More Photos of Aaron

While looking back over Aaron's blog I realized I hadn't put any more of his pictures on it like I said I would. Here you go:
~Mom
Aaron and Jeff Wilson clowning when they discovered they shared the same ward building in Merced, CA.
This one is for Karen who said it was her favorite. Aaron is loving the packing pillows that I put around his birthday presents. Imagine what he would have done if I had used bubble wrap!
Yum . . . You've got to love California fruit.
Aaron with his last companion, Elder Nelson at the Fresno Temple.
District meeting I think.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Little old grape picker, me.

I had a dream last night. I had just gotten home from my mission (not a usual thing in my dreams)

and had moved in with Karen and Mike. Jeanette was there. She was very, very angry with me because she was under the impression that I was enrolling mid-semester into Advanced Video Game Playing. Supposedly, Karen and Jeanette had worked very hard in the Basic course and were now at this point, and I had the nerve to suppose that I was good enough to come butting in without any of the preliminary classes. It was a strange sort of thing.


I don't have too much time today. Yesterday was Labor Day, so we're doing our emails today. I

didn't have time to get any letters written yesterday, so none are coming from me this week--sorry. The church owns the welfare farm that makes raisins in Medera, CA. We went there on Saturday for the harvest. We used a hooked knife to cut down the bunches and then dump the bucket of grapes onto paper trays that are laid out between the rows. They will lay there for a couple of weeks in the sun and dry out. In about a couple of weeks, people (hopefully we'll get to go) will go up and somehow turn the grapes over to get it even. Then they are rolled up in the trays so they can dry the rest of the way somehow. Once they are all dried up, they get dumped into the bin on a tractor and sent to some facility where they are dried further and stored. I didn't find out until the dinner after we did the grapes that the grapes dry up into rock-hard little wrinkled pellets. They can store for years, then when they need them, they somehow rehydrate them, box them up, and ship them out whenever they need to. I was pretty impressed with that. It was a lot of fun, doing the harvest. It's dirty, my legs still hurt from kneeling in the positions we had to to reach up and cut, and the vines are full of these gross-looking spiders, but it's really great. I certainly wouldn't want to be a field laborer for a living, but once a year is just about right. Our rows of grapes were right next to the Visalia rows. I ran into several people from Visalia 1st. I was really happy about that, as it had been a year since I had seen them. We had one investigator come, as well, Ricardo. He has come a couple other years as well. The harvest was so much better than last year's was. It was at least 3-4 times more, I would imagine. I'll be sending a new picture CD...within a month or so. I'm not sure when. I'll try to get more taken and get that out soon.


We have a week full of appointments and things happening. We have 23 appointments, not counting two more training meetings, preparation day, district meeting, weekly planning, and church. It's been and will continue to be a very busy and good week. We had the first of the 'specialized leadership training meetings' on Thursday. The Tuesday one was canceled and will be rescheduled for sometime. It was a lot like a zone conference, just more specific. We'll be having a couple more this week. We will also be going on two exchanges. I also hit my 19 month mark. I'm feeling older by the day, just about. Feb. 9th seems far away because it's next year, but when it comes down to it, I can count the months on one hand.

I guess I'd better get back to it. Have a great week, everyone.


Aaron

Monday, August 30, 2010

We are SOOOOO busy now!

The ward in Visalia is the 2nd Ward. It was my second area. Bishop Henrickson was the bishop at that time. I may or may not have known anyone with the last name of Sannar. I'll have to look through the stake directory I have and see if it rings any bells. I found out about it yesterday at dinner. It's bizarre. It seems so random, too.

Transfers happened on Wednesday. Elder Nelson is now in the Fresno North Stake and I'm here in Merced, still, with Elder Goodsell. He's from Peoria, AZ, near Phoenix. He's 19, and it's his third transfer. He's 6'3", so he's my second tall companion. There were a couple of really cool coincidences that happened. He has the same pillowcase, for instance. It's the one with Mario on one side and Zelda on the other. His looks newer, but it's the same one. Then I find out that Sister Willardson, a sister from my MTC district, served in his home ward. His mom is a ward missionary and she and her companion were over all the time. Elder Goodsell is just about as opposite as it is possible of Elder Nelson. Where Elder Nelson is quiet, meek, and doesn't speak up too much, Elder Goodsell is loud, boisterous, and is self-proclaimed immature. It's taken getting used to, the big switch, but it's working out. We get along really well and we'll both learn a lot this transfer.

We're going to need to make a push to get to Yosemite this transfer. We really are. Even though it's only his third transfer, my companion has already been. We're much closer here than in Modesto. I'm going to try to get the zone leaders to organize a trip as a zone activity. That would be a good excuse. Next transfer will be our next temple trip. That'll come before I know it.

We had an amazing speaker on Sunday. He is the farm manager for the local raisin farm in Madera. His whole talk was talking about how back in the 30s or something, the prophet decided they needed to invest tithing funds instead of letting it sit in the bank and crash when the market does. I had no idea that the church had so much property, farmed so much, and was so huge financially. They have farms and things that are welfare farms (like the raisin farm, here), but they also have tons of investments and money-making things. They use it all to grow and help others, exponentially. He told several stories about how the church stepped up and donated so much of certain resources at different times. There was one story where there was a country under civil war and genocide and they needed a monstrous amount of powdered milk immediately, to feed 1.6 million (or around that number) refugees and no one could do it sooner than 60 days. The church got it all together and had it donated there in three days time (including travel); all because a year earlier the prophet had told them they needed to build a new powdered milk plant of monstrous capacity. They made that “starving-person slurry stuff” that starving people have to eat. He wrapped it all up with how there is definitely a prophet of God on the earth today. All of his story and the entire talk had me wide awake and it was pretty amazing. I can't believe General Conference is coming up so soon. It happens at the end of this transfer.

This Saturday, we are going to the grape vineyard to do the harvest. Last year, the crop was pathetic. They had a bad frost early in the year and a whole summer of scorching days that killed a lot of it. This year is supposed to be the biggest crop they have ever had. It'll be a lot of fun being out there, again. I'm hoping to get to go again in another couple of weeks to roll the grapes after they have laid out a couple of weeks.

With the new set of Preach My Gospel DVDs and the new missionary program, there will be specialized leadership training. Two days this week and two next week will be taken up for the training. It's for trainers, zone leaders, district leaders, and also (we just found out this morning) it will include the companions of district leaders. With the grapes, church, district meetings, weekly plannings, preparation days, etc, this means there are two solid weeks where we are in practically half-days. There aren't any days for two weeks where we are out proselying the entire day. It'll be interesting. I'm looking forward to going, though. I definitely have a lot of room to grow.

In closing, I finally saw Backwards Man walking backwards. In Merced are the Merced Superheros. There are only a few. Out of all the homeless here in town, some of them have interesting characteristics to them. Zombie Man pushes an empty shopping cart and doesn't bend his knees or elbows as he walks. Beaver Man (who I heard has died some time ago) walked year-round bare chested and looked like he had a fur coat on. Backwards Man walks pretty much everywhere backwards, without looking behind him. I had only seen him walking forwards until a couple days ago. I was pretty excited about that. I'm not going to lie.

Anyway, we have a very full week ahead of us. It's going to be interesting, trying to get as much work done in the little amount of time that we have. It'll be good, though.

Aaron

Monday, August 23, 2010

I'm staying in Merced.

We got the calls on Saturday, and I'll be staying for at least one transfer. Elder Nelson is going down to Fresno to cover one of the wards and one of the singles wards. I'll be remaining as district leader, here, and the elder that is coming here is Elder...Goodso? I don't know. That's what his name sounds like, and I haven't met any other elders that have met him. It's probably his third or fourth transfer, because he isn't in any of the past Vineyards. The Vineyard is this mission's regular newsletter thing. Unfortunately, they haven't given us any since April. It shows pictures of departing and arriving missionaries with their names, and other blurbs put in by various people in the presidency/staff. It's been so long since we've gotten a new one.

We had a really great beginning to last week. We were out with our ward mission leader on Tuesday and nothing was working out. No one was home or would let us in. We decided to try a former investigator that we dropped shortly after I got here, and it turns out it's good that we did. It was that day that she heard the diagnosis from some chronic problems she was having. She had been having a really bad day and we showed up after a few months. It went really well.

I did another baptismal interview. Those are really cool.

The weather has been really nice, lately. It hasn't reached 100 in awhile...I don't think. I think it's supposed to this week, but that's ok. There isn't too much longer where we have hot weather. It was October when the heat broke in Visalia, last year. People here in Merced, however, say that it's usually some time in September that it gets cooler here. It's more north though. Last year was infinitely hotter, though. It was a very wet winter and a very mild summer, this time around. As time always does, it blows my mind that it's in the last third of August. Anyway, things are going well. I hope the same goes for everyone else.

Aaron

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Aaron Celebrates his birthday in Merced.

Happy birthday, Aaron!

Aaron opens a poster of his scriptural hero, Captain Moroni.


Mom is adding this post before receiving this week's email. We got a package today with a picture CD plus a Fresno Mission DVD. We watched all of it and didn't see very much of Aaron. Too bad. The picture CD had a lot of good ones on it though. I'll put some more on the next post along with his email.
~Mom

Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Baptism and Reunion

My birthday was on Wednesday. Yay... It was fun. For the most part, it was like any other day. I opened my packages the night before because I was going to be on an exchange the night of. We only open letters or packages after our nightly planning, so I would have had to wait, then I would be in someone else's area. Thank you so much, everyone who wrote or sent something. I really appreciate everything. I took plenty of pictures. I'm going to Walgreen’s this afternoon and I'll make a picture CD of everything.

We had our zone conference on Tuesday. The focus of missionary work is changing. It's a good change. It's still Preach My Gospel, but it's a focus less on learning the lessons and giving it, and more on teaching skills; asking questions, teaching people instead of lessons, etc. The new DVDs are great! They aren't these missionaries trying to be as perfect as possible, but they're missionaries being themselves, where you can see the good and the bad and learn from it. Reality TV has entered the church, I guess, but it's really good--entertaining, too.

We went to a Chinese buffet with a member during the week. Most of the stuff was normal. They had a few trays of weird stuff, and other stuff I just didn't have the guts to try. Surprisingly, though, my companion, as soon as he saw the tray of baby octopus, he snagged one. After lots of picking it up and staring at it, he forced himself to pop it in his mouth. For whatever reason, he felt compelled to eat that thing. Personally, I think it would make a great story, to be able to say that I did it, but I have absolutely no remorse that I abstained from such an activity. Bleck!

My exchanges are over. I'm very glad about that. It's too stressful. If I serve as district leader any more, I'm going to make sure I get them done as soon as possible, so they will be over as soon as possible. We get transfer calls on Saturday--again. It's all buzzing by. I only have four transfers left, which is a really weird thought. I usually have ideas as far as what is going to happen to the various missionaries in the district I happen to be in, but I'm usually wrong. This time, I have absolutely no clue what's going to happen--with anyone.

I also did my first baptismal interview. That was an interesting experience. The man has a really rough past and made intense changes to get to where he is. We went to, and taught at, his baptism the next day. It turns out, he is related to the Garza's from the Modesto 5th Ward, my training area. Most of them were there, so it was really cool to see them all and to see how they've changed. Not many of them have changed much, except the kids are now huge. The coolest part of the evening, on Saturday, was when this young couple came running up to me after the baptismal service. Does anyone remember the couple I (assume I) mentioned back in January, who we talked to outside their house? We started talking to him, then, and his wife came out and stood right next to him. We found out that he was a less-active member who had just moved into Modesto. He told me they were related to the Garzas and I was able to tell him that I knew his family. When we had asked where they had just moved from, he described an area in Visalia where they lived (where I had lived about one or two blocks from and could describe everything to them). I got transferred to Modesto 2nd the very next day, but they were taught for a couple weeks more by Elder Daniels and the elder he was training. It turns out that while she had been inside her house, she had gotten a strong spiritual prompting to "Go stand next to your husband." When we invited him on the church tour, he agreed and she asked us, "Well, I'm not a member of your church, but...could I come, too?" :| "Yeah!" They lost contact shortly after teaching them, which was frustrating, due to the fact that it was quite clearly divine intervention that everything worked out to connect us. <--long story, but they were really excited to see me and I got their information and am going to be passing it onto the elders in Atwater (where they moved to back in February) and they want to continue learning. For goodness sakes, it was his brother that was the one that got baptized. That whole experience just blew me away. I can't wait to find out what will happen with them. It was great. I hope everyone has a great week!

Aaron

Monday, August 9, 2010

I'm turning 25 this week. Weird!

I had a couple of exchanges this past week. It's a strange thing, really. It's odd being out of my area for so long. The zone activity last Monday ate up the entire preparation day, but was fun. It had no structure, but that's the usual for those.

It'll be six months from today that I get on the plane to St. Louis. That's always a weird thought. It doesn't absorb my whole thoughts, but it's strange that the date comes so close.

Tomorrow is our zone conference. It's been a couple of months since we've had one of those, so I'm looking forward to that.

Wednesday will be my 25th birthday. It'll pretty much be a normal day, as well. I may buy myself a cake or something, but we'll see. For the most part it'll be like any other day. A few people know it's my birthday, but I've kept it mostly quiet. It'll be a good day, too.

I'll be going on my last exchange on Thursday; then I won't have to do any more until next transfer. We'll be getting transfer calls a week from Saturday. I'm short on time, as always, but it's been great hearing from everyone, and I hope you're still doing great!

Aaron

Monday, August 2, 2010

My 18-Month Mark

I hit my 18-month mark on Wednesday. How weird is that! In answer, pretty weird. I'm still determined never to say "Oh, a little over a year," when someone asks me how long I've been out, but it's getting tiresome with everyone following up with, "Oh! You're almost done, then. How exciting!" Gah! I'm not the type to be like "No...I want to be on my mission forever! I can't go back to the real world!", but still. I have another six months to work and do what I can. That's not almost done at all. Anyway, the week has been well.


I went on an exchange with one of the elders in my district on Wednesday, and I'll be going on two more this week. I really don't mind them at all. I like not having to do several nights of nightly planning. I've never been much good at planning out the next day's activities. I've gotten much better, but I prefer watching as someone else does it, with me taking care of whatever I need to get done. Elder Nelson was sick for parts of a couple days this week. He's alright now, but it did give me a little bit of time to get the apartment cleaned and in some kind of order. It looks much nicer and I can find things, now.


We're doing a zone activity, this afternoon, where we're playing volleyball. I like volleyball better than dodge ball. It isn't likely to hurt as much. I don't mind getting hit as much as how much my whole body, along with my throwing arm hurts, hurling kickballs at one another. Volleyball should be good.

How is the weather back home? It's been in the 90/100s lately. I really hardly ever feel it anymore. It's not nearly as bad in Merced as it was in Visalia. I'm not nearly as whiny of a person as I was a year ago, either. (Notice I say 'not nearly as whiny.' I'm still whiny, but not as bad.) Elder Nelson is also getting used to it, as much as he hates to admit it. It's mostly only when it's really hot that he'll make comment about it.


I had a dream last night that one of the companionships in my district told me that they had 8 investigators with a baptismal date because they just set it up with a family of 7, in addition to the one they had. I'm hoping that was some kind of premonition, but I'm guessing it's wishful thinking. It'd be great, though. The mission has a goal of 200 baptized for the month of August. It's pretty much what we need to get on track for 1200 in the year. Last year in August...I don't remember what the total was, but I think it was like 120 or something. It was more than the mission had ever seen before--until this past December. Anyway, this coming up week should be great. I hope, as always, that you are all doing well, also. Bye

Aaron