Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Christmas Bells are Ringing

Hey everyone! 
I loved talking to everyone. Like I said, it was a really good recharge - it renewed my desires to work my very hardest and be the very best I can be. My comp feels the same about his call, which is really cool - we're going to be stepping it up this week for sure. Thanks again. 
It turns out there were a few things I wanted to say in the phone call that I forgot about; plus, I want to tell you more details about my week -so here we go. 

Last Wednesday we had a present exchange as a district - the typical draw names out of a hat sort of thing. Elder Reategui, one of the zone leaders, had my name, and he bought me this awesome Mayan tablet thing. I'll send a picture of it, but it's about half the size of a piece of paper and weighs maybe six or seven pounds. It has awesome carvings and stuff on it. It's exactly the kind of souvenir I'd want from Mexico - something that would fit perfectly in your office, Dad. It's pretty dang awesome. :) 

I meant to ask during the phone call - I was remembering the other day about how Will and Sadie had kidney stones or something, and it was a really big deal and everything, and I realized I haven't heard anything about that in like a year. What's the deal with that? Do they still have problems or did it go away and I just forgot?  let me know. 

Next Monday (or sometime next week, anyway) we're going to have a zone activity - we're going to this canyon at the northeastish side of the city. I think you can see it from one of the pictures I sent last week. I have no idea what's there, but regardless (or irregardless, I should say) it will be a lot of fun. I'll take plenty of pictures. 
This past week was good. We were contacting in an area we'd never been before and encountered a Japanese-Mexican named Rigoberto. His Spanish is pretty cool to listen to because even though he's a native here, he speaks with a little bit of a Japanese accent. Anyway, we contacted him and he said he'd talked with missionaries before, so we asked him what he remembered. Turns out he has a testimony of Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon - no doubts whatsoever. It was pretty awesome. We've taught him twice now. He's basically ready for baptism - the only problem is that his family and ancestors are very set in their traditions (both Catholic and some indigenous Japanese religion) and he says it's hard for him to get rid of those traditions. We're going to keep working with him, introduce him to some members and everything. It was pretty exciting though. 

The investigators I mentioned last week, Miguel and Julieta, are still doing really well. They came to church yesterday and had a really good time, just like last week. We're going to try and give them a baptismal date this week. I'm pretty positive Julieta will accept; Miguel's a little more hesitant, but he should follow suit the more he gets to know the church. 
We also started teaching a referral from an RM. His name is Enrique. He's Catholic and is one of those who actually attends church and everything, but he's looking for more because he feels like something's missing. He's talked a lot with his friend Fernando (the one who gave us the referral) about the church, and he says he believes everything Fernando's told him. We taught him once and it went really well - we're going to return on Wednesday when his wife is there and see how their prayers and reading went. I feel really good about them too. We have a couple other investigators too, and they're doing fairly well - we'll see what happens. 

A couple other noteworthy things from this past week. We were walking through a foresty area in between two main roads - dirt path, bushes and trees, the usual. I hear a rustle in the bushes to my right, so I look over, expecting a bird or a dog or something. What do I see? A man wordlessly emerging from the shadows carrying a giant box of candy. We didn't say anything either, but speed-walked out of there as fast as we could, trying not to laugh. It was so bizarre - hilarious as well. I can't imagine he gets much business out there, but who knows. :) Also, a few nights ago we decided to pick up some burgers for dinner from a roadside stand. Boy, they were delicious, and as big as my head. I have a picture of those as well. Tasty tasty. 
Anyway, those are the highlights from this week. Now for a couple things from last week's email - not too much, since we talked two days about, but a few items of interest... 

Gabbie: You asked me about UP. I've sort of seen it. :) I never saw it in the States, but we ate at a member's house a few weeks ago and they had it playing for their kids, so I caught a few glimpses. :) I really do want to see it though - we'll have to watch it together when I get back. It sounds like the ward party was a blast - I'm sad I missed out. I loved talking on the phone with you!! I thought it was funny that you had to have Mom tell you what to say. Haha. But it sounds like everything's going really well and that you had a very fun Christmas. What are the plans for New Year's Eve? How's the sledding going, and the playing with Nikka? I hope everything's still going well. Love you Gabs! (PS - Happy New Year!) 

Miranda: Congratulations on the ACT!! That's really good; I'm very proud of you. Keep up the good work! Let me know how your grades turn out for this term and everything too. I reminisced a little too, remembering all the things you and I did together - movies, concerts, hanging out, etc. It was all a lot of fun - we'll have to pick up where we left off when we're both in college. :) I'm glad you're still having fun reading - the book you're reading sounds really interesting. Yes, I did read Secret Journal, and really liked it. Again, it was awesome talking on the phone, and I'm glad to hear things are going well and that you're having fun. I'll answer all the questions you asked in this new email next week. Until then - I love you! :)    

Mom: I laughed about the postcard arriving here earlier than at home. I guess I am closer, though. :) It sounds like you're still having fun with Activity Days, too; that's really cool. The story about Reagan putting Nikka in the shower with him still makes me laugh. That's something I'd really like to see. Thanks again for all the Christmas presents and the love and support. It was wonderful to talk on the phone and hear how you and everyone are doing. Tell Lisa and Laura that I enjoyed talking to them and that I appreciate their emails; someday soon I'll write them back. Mom, I love you! Thanks for everything. :) 

Dad:  I liked your comments aout Brother Hicken's talk, and especially what you said about President Eyring's message. I read that just yesterday, and really loved it, especially when combined with what you had to say. I'm looking forward to reading this week's letter, as well, since it looks like you have lots of good stuff. :) Again, the Nikka adventure story makes me laugh very much. I love hearing those (mostly because I don't have to be there for the smell). Thanks, Dad, for everything you have done and continue to do for me. I'm going to try to send some pictures right now, but no promises - computers are a little slow today. In any case, thanks for everything; the phone call was awesome and gave me an extra boost. I love you very much. Two taps! :) 
With much love and appreciation, 
Elder Greer 

Letter from last week (I forgot to post it.. Mark)
¡Feliz Navidad! (Read the letter again on Christmas for added effect) :)
Hey everyone! It's been a great week here in La Salle. Lots of work, lots of fun, and some pretty good success, too. I'll tell you all about it - but first, the phone call. So here's the info....and I'm super excited to get to talk to everyone! :) 
Okay. With that done - this past week was really good. Friday we had a ward Christmas activity. The different organizations presented dances and skits, the bishop gave a message, and there was food afterward. We had five investigators there and a handful of less active families too. Everybody loves food, right? :) It was a lot of fun though, and it really helped people feel the spirit of the season and have a little more unity within the ward.
Saturday was the 19th - my 4 month mark! I've said it a lot, but I'll say it again (and don't try to stop me!) - time flies by. One-sixth of the way done with my mission. It's kind of saddening, really - I love being out and I don't like the thought of time moving so quickly. I really am having a lot of fun every day and enjoying each day as it comes.We've made some good progress this week with the work. We have three investigators that are progressing really well. Two are husband and wife, mid-50s or so, and really open to the Spirit and the message. The wife, Julieta, started crying during the first lesson when we said the closing prayer, and Miguel, her husband, told us home much he really likes everything we teach him. They came to church on Sunday and just had a great time. I'm really happy with the progress they're making. We're going to teach them in the next couple days and set a date for their baptism - they've already accepted to be baptized. It's really wonderful to see the changes in people's lives that the gospel can bring - the happiness and peace. The gospel of Jesus Christ truly is something special. Sometimes - a lot of the time - we lose sight of that. Especially having grown up in the church, it's something I think I've taken for granted most of the time. But when we stop and really think about the blessings we have, the peace that comes from the Plan of Salvation, the joy of having an eternal family, the excitement at getting to learn and progress for the rest of forever - wow. It's too much to take in all at once. I love it! :)
A piece of other exciting news - it's been raining the last few days. Reminds me a lot of our Scotland trip. Yesterday was perfect - drizzling and cloudy and slightly windy, cool but not too cold. I enjoyed it a lot, even though we got pretty muddy knocking doors. I'm trying to enjoy the cold while it lasts.
Now, last week's email.Gabs: That's super exciting that you got to go to a Flash game! I went to one once, back in February or so. I really liked it. Too bad you didn't win the TV... oh well. There's always next time, right? :) I couldn't believe it when you said I only had 66 more days until the 6-month point - but then I checked and you're right! Less than that, now. I already have four months on the mission. Time goes by fast, doesn't it? It's flying by for me. Did you end up going to the space center? How was it? I loved going there when I was younger... even though it was scary sometimes. Haha. How was the week without sugar? Did you die? (Nemo - haha.) How's your tailbone doing? Mom told me you hurt it. She also said you read a book called Rules. It sounds really interesting. Did you like it? What are you reading now? Well, Gabs, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas, and I'm really excited to talk to you on the 26th! Can't wait until then! I love you! :)
Miranda: Man (girl?), I loved what you wrote. Not only do I really liked those lyrics, but I loved your interpretation of them and how they apply to the gospel. Very profound. I love doing that with songs - it makes them more personal and meaningful. If you haven't before, check out "O' Child" by Nevertheless. One of my favorite songs and it's all about coming unto Christ. I liked the quote you shared that you got from Sister Norman - I've heard it before, but it's always good to remember. Some things in life you have to accept, and some you can stretch for. It's important to recognize the difference, too, so that we don't wait time on the unachievable. Snowboarding sounds like a lot of fun - we'll definitely have to go when I get back. I fall down a lot, but that's okay, huh? :) I recently read the message by President Uchtdorf in the July Ensign - about achieving spiritual lift. I really liked it. Read it if you can - it talks about breaking above the clouds and seeing the light of the gospel. Kind of relates to what you were talking about with Brick By Boring Brick. I skimmed over your email today and laughed at your story about the ACT (plus the pirate/Shakespeare accent haha). I'll of course answer what you said next week, but I really liked what I had time to read. Let me know how you do in school and on the ACT when you get the results - assuming you don't get kicked out again. ha. Have a wonderfully merry Christmas! I'll talk to you on Saturday! Love you! :)
Dad: Once again, a letter full of awesomeness - this week and last week's both. Your conversation with Josh about weakness was really cool to hear about. I really like that part of 2nd Nephi. I especially loved what you said both weeks about only feeling a sliver of God's love - we have to progress line upon line because there's no other way we could handle it. Plus, there's more excitement and enjoyment that way - we enjoy every little piece of new knowledge and light that we receive. Kind of like taking things one day at a time; there's so much to be enjoyed in each day, but too often we look to the future and forget about right now. Matt's farewell sounds really good - it's really exciting to think about how many of my friends are in the mission field (/MTC), doing the same thing I'm doing and having the same kinds of experiences. 2nd Nephi 31 is one of my favorite chapters - I use it all the time teaching, because there's so much good doctrine there, and just for day-to-day application it's really good. The scriptures in general are amazing - I love the opportunity to study them every morning and learn something new. And it's true that we have to change ourselves first - only then are we able to help others. (And like you said - sometimes we realize that WE'RE the bad guys. Haha. I loved those nights of watching movies in the wee hours of the morning - we'll have to resume when I get back!) I'm glad, too, to hear about good time playing in the snow with Gabs and with Miranda and Reagan too. Sounds like everything is going really well. I love you very much - I'll talk to you this weekend. Have a merry Christmas! Love you! (Two taps.)
Mom: As for your questions, I'll be in my area and with my comp at least until January 10th. We have changes every 6 weeks, but the trend in this mission has been that we stay in the same place with the same companion for quite a while. I'm really hoping to stay here for at least one more transfer, but I'll take whatever comes. :) I sent some more pictures today - I'll keep trying to do so whenever possible. It's really pretty here. I'll also try to take pictures with members and send them whenever I can. I'm excited to open up my presents on Christmas Day. :) I hope Reagan's feeling better now - that's cool that he knows how to fold his arms.  I laughed at the description of playing outside in the snow with him, shoveling snow on Nikka, etc. Well, I love you very much, and I can't wait for the phone call on Saturday! Have a wonderful Christmas, Mom. I love you! :) I love you, everybody. You're all in my prayers. :)Elder Greer 

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