So I heard a rumor that it's someone's birthday today, but I just can't remember who... haha. Dad, thanks for the helpful hint (or seven). Mom, happy birthday!
I hope it's a great day and that you realize how much everyone who knows you loves you. You are a great example of charity and service. Honestly, where would I be without your help? No Eagle Scout. No high school graduation. No practical knowledge of any sort. Likely no common sense. I'd be sleeping all day and eating Cocoa Puffs in front of the tv all night. (That doesn't sound too bad...)
But really, I owe so much to you. Thank you for always being there for me and for teaching me so much. I wish I could send a present or something. Once more, happy birthday! Everybody else - I hope you're making it a great day for Mom.
Not too much new stuff to report this week. A few things, though. We gave talks yesterday in Sacrament. It was a pretty fun opportunity. We had a day's warning and each talked for about 10 minutes or so. The theme was missionary work (what a surprise!). I talked about Lehi's vision of the tree of life and how after he had tasted of the fruit, the first thing he wanted was that his family could do the same. When he saw them by the banks of the river, they looked confused and lost. So he called out to them, pointed and waved and everything, and they came over and joined him. I mentioned how it didn't take too much work on Lehi's part for the faithful members of his family (Sariah, Sam, and Nephi) to partake of the fruit - all he had to do was open his mouth. It's the same thing with the missionary work that we can all do as members. The Lord has prepared people to receive the gospel. With them, all we have to do is open our mouths and say something, and they come eagerly. In D&C 123 it talks about those who search for the truth but don't have it simply because they know not where to find it. As members, we've received so many blessings from being part of the church, and we should take the opportunities that come to share that happiness with others. Anyway, that was the gist of it. Pretty fun.
Also, we had a ward FHE Saturday night. We gave the message (about how to have a Heavenly Home here on Earth), and then we had refreshments and played... Fruit Basket? Here it's "coctel de frutos." That game where you run around and switch chairs and generally have a lot of fun. And it was - the whole night was a lot of fun, and we had some investigators come too, which was cool. Good times. :)
Last night we talked with a man named Guadalupe. We contacted him a couple weeks ago and decided to stop by again, since he had seemed somewhat interested. He's studied the Bible and knows a lot of passages, but that's kind of his downfall - he can't accept anything unless it's concretely founded in the Bible. He also doesn't believe in personal revelation or direct answers to prayers. We did the best we could, bore heartful testimony, and left him with a pamphlet of the restoration. It made me realize that for all his knowledge of and belief in the Bible, without prayer and without a living prophet, it does him no good. I really am thankful for the truths we have, and especially for the opportunity to pray wherever and whenever for the help, guidance, and comfort that we need. Faith really is the foundation of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
This week is week 6 - the last week of this transfer. I doubt I'll be changing areas, though. The trend in the mission has been 3 or 4 transfers in the same place for most missionaries. I hope I stay here longer - I really like the area, and we're starting to really get things moving. Who knows though - I'll know by next week!
Two other random things from this week. I know I'm supposed to be separated from the world, but we were at a member's house the other day, and Seinfeld was on, turned up loud, and in English. I didn't watch, but couldn't help overhearing, and it made me laugh just to hear that show in english down here. Second thing. An RM in the ward told us that down the road, in one of the evangelical churches (there are dozens), they like to take popular songs and Christianize them (Coldplay, the Killers, Green Day, etc.). He didn't know any of the songs, but I thought that was interesting and kind of funny.
Okay, so let me answer the questions and respond to what you said last week.
Gabbie (first the best of all!): Sounds like you've been having lots of fun making your Christmas list. I remember when I was your age and a little older than I would cut out pictures from magazines and make my list and everything. It was pretty fun, I thought. Nikka's up to her same old tricks, huh? Barking at nothing. Haha. Keep trying to make her speak. Teach her to say "Elder Greer." That might be easier than teaching Reagan, who knows. :) I had totally forgotten about the haunted house decoration! Haha I remember how Reagan loved it so much. That's really cool that he remembers it and everything. Sounds like it's been super cold there! 30 degrees? You said you can see your breath, and you were also right about me being able to see my sweat. Haha. During the day it's not terrible... well, okay, sometimes it is. Sometimes we're out on the street contacting in the hot sun and humidity for a couple hours and I start melting. But otherwise we're inside (usually with fans blowing) or walking around and moving and stuff, and sometimes a nice breeze kicks up, and then it's not so bad. I'd love to be in Utah right now and feel cold again. :) Well, Gabs, take care of everyone this week. You're the man of the house now. (Huh?) Make sure everyone's being nice to you. If they're not, give them a smack and tell them I said, "Knock it off!" :) haha. Let me know how school and everything's going, okay? I hope you have lots of fun this week. I love you very much. :)
Miranda: I liked what you said about the butterfly effect that can come from baptized someone. Dad's talked to me before about that a lot. He said, "You can count the seeds in a single apple, but you can't count the apples from a single seed." It's definitely true - look at Abinadi. He only had one convert (and he didn't even know it), but that convert was Alma, who went on to baptize so many people, and then had his son Alma the Younger, who baptized hundreds more. And then those people and their kids... and so it goes. One person really can have a great effect on lots of other people, but it's all about setting an example and doing the best you can. Congratulations on the A on your math test! That's a first ;) haha. You still have a 3.9? Getting excited for your driving test? Don't worry about it; it's pretty much a piece of cake. That's awesome that you'll have your license though. You're growing up... :) I like that idea of having a thankful journal. It's important to remember all the blessings we have. Keep it up, with that and your reading of the Book of Mormon and studying in school and all of that. It's pretty important, all of it. Keep me in the loop. And keep having fun, too, and remember that I love you! :)
Mom: Happy birthday again! Haha. I'm glad the pictures came through okay. I am indeed happy and healthy and having a lot of fun. The baptism in Spanish was fine - the words aren't too complicated and the actual baptism's the same, so it all went well. I can't believe it snowed and it's so cold there. I mean, it's almost December, thinking about it from where I am... I'd love to be cold again. :) Sounds like Lisa and Laura really had a good time. Let them know I'm glad and hopefully they can send some pictures sometime. I'm glad Reagan had a good birthday, and that he's doing really well. That's just the way I raised him... :) I really liked what you said about the heavens still being opened. I've shared that thought several times this week, actually, after you told me about it, and it's been really powerful. It's important to remember that those blessings are always there for us - we just need to ask in faith.
I too sometimes order a Brick Oven pizza and watch TV for lunch, but you're right, it's just not the same without you. :) (kidding) I've been gone three months - can you believe it? Crazy. Two years will go by in no time. I'm going to try to make the most of every day I have. Mom, thanks again for everything you've done for me. I love you very much and hope you have a wonderful day today.
Dad: Sounds like we both spoke in Sacrament on the same day! I'm excited to read you talk and all the other parables/Hardy Boys adventures that you have. You talked about how Uncle Bruce was baptized around the same age as Benjamin, and how important he said it was that he had friends in the ward and everything. I'm happy to say that seems to be the case for Benjamin. He's making friends and is always really excited to come to church and activities and everything. It's really cool and we're going to make sure he continues having friends other than us. Nice job on the Scottish accent recognition. :) Man, that trip was fun. I'd love to go back to Scotland some day - Isle of Skye and everything. I loved it. Thanks again for that opportunity.
Pretty cool everything you said about Paul Cardall and Sam Payne's history with him. You definitely should go to that concert and take Miranda and Gabbie - sounds like a really cool opportunity.
I'm one-eighth done... wow. I can see how much I've progressed and grown, though, and I'm excited to continue to do so for the next 21 months. Time really does fly though. How's your wound/surgury thing healing up? What an adventure. Your mention of Braveheart reminded me of our trip to Macloud Castle on Isle of Skye, and Highlander's, "There can be only ONE!" I'm going to use that in my next street contact ("there can be only one true church! haha).
Your questions about the mission: there are about 10 zones and 200 missionaries in the mission, and roughly half are Americans and half Mexicans. Maybe a dozen sisters. There are islands off the coast of Tabasco, like you mentioned, and they're part of the mission - my friend Jeremy is there right now, I'm pretty sure. Thanks for all the encouragement you've given me and everything. It really helps and strengthens my testimony. Writing down spiritual experiences is something I've been focusing on a lot, and it's really helped. It's a great idea. I'm excited to hear about yours. Dad, thanks for everything. I love you very much.
Until next week, and with lots of love,
P.S. Okay, a few more things. Sorry no pictures this week - I'll take some good ones for next week. Everyone give Reagan and Nikka hugs and kisses for me (maybe not a kiss for Nikka). Oh, and you asked how people pronounce my name, (since with dad it was "Elder Grrreeet - or, "EverCrisp" ha) But here most people say "Grrrr" when they try to say my name. Either that or Elder Grinch. Haha. It's pretty awesome. -JAG