Monday, August 14, 2017

August 14, 2017: Last Email to Mom!

It’s been a fun little week, this last one. I got to go on two exchanges, both put me with two greenies (Elder C., Elder J., and the new Elder D.). It’s been awesome to see them pick up the mission so quickly and learn to teach together. They’re all still a little nervous about talking to people, but we got to do a good little bit of tracting, so I think they’ve acclimated a little better now. 

I have taken care of the bike situation. It should be home around the time I am. Crown Burger sounds fantastic, and yeah, D. emailed me saying he’d drop by. I’ll definitely balance it out, but he’ll still need a good active church member friend. I don’t know how much “hang out” time I’ll have, anyway. As for Nathan’s emails, that’s my bad. I think I miss at least one of you each week, I haven’t been keeping track of who, though.

I think I mentioned one of our investigators had their house burn down while we were headed to Dallas. Here’s a photo of that, and one of us three.

Love you, Mom! See you in four days!

Elder Rice

Monday, August 7, 2017

August 7, 2017: Emails to Dad & Mom

A few emails ... I'm including Jason's response to Parker:

Email for Mom

Our new greenie's name is Elder C. and he's a stud. Really, though, I feel like he started where I did, but he's picking things up pretty quickly. He worked out on a farm in Roosevelt, Utah, and is really into engineering-type things.

Just a little before transfers we were just out tracting when Sister Mansell called us, asking us to drive down to Dallas and pick up some new missionaries. They missed their flight from Utah and had to take a different one, then their flight got canceled from Dallas to OKC. One of them (Elder H.) says he knew Nathan. Know any H. families in Kaysville?

A few minutes before that, though, we heard from some kid that one of our former investigator’s house burnt down. We just took a look a few days ago and it definitely was. I wasn't really expecting it to be so totally burnt. This was the same investigator I mentioned some weeks ago who had the “demon problems.” Not sure if that's connected at all. She said her daughter had demons in her making her do crazy stuff. I could also see that being mental illness, too, but I don't know. I could see her daughter starting a fire there, though, from what she told us.

We've been seeing a bunch of success lately. We found three new investigators in two days and a bunch more with potential. I think Elder C. is coming in on Duncan's upturn.

I think I got to try your pumpkin juice. Not sure if you had the recipe yet. On a similar note though, a member made butter beer for us at one dinner. That has to be the best drink invented.

Love you, too, Mom.
Elder Rice

Email for Dad

I was going to send this email last week but the power went out:

Someone was showing us the video on showing the MTC and I definitely think Nathan is coming in at a great time. I really like all the outdoor study and teaching area there.

My plans are still to jump from UVU to BYU. I've had a lot of people tell me about what they're looking for in students and I definitely know it's not going to be just a cake walk to get there.

That's awesome your ankle is getting better! I remember with mine I was always panicked it wasn't healing right and it seemed to take forever to heal.

It seemed like I was at one month away for forever, but now all of a sudden, things are going super fast and I'm trying to jam as much as I can in this last bit. It’s a little difficult because everyone will go at whatever speed they will—investigators, members, and missionaries. I'm probably just being impatient.

Jason's Response

Nathan isn't going to see the Provo MTC beyond the visit we had. He will be going to the Mexico MTC. In fact, Mom is already planning on you and I dropping him off at the Salt Lake airport. He will travel from there directly to Mexico City.

If you want to get to BYU, then I know you can. You are more than smart enough!

Sometimes it is hard to watch people work and progress at their own pace. One of my co-workers is helping his homeless friend try to get off the street. The friend has received countless blessings and has had many incredible opportunities given to him including job offers and places to stay. However, he still continues to sleep on the street. It defies logic. But humans aren't always logical. We don't always act in our own best interest. That's why the Lord is always trying to tell us how valuable we are and Satan is telling us, because of our flaws, that we aren't worth it. Try to keep that in mind when you stumble or when things get hard. The Lord wants us to look at the big picture—His eternal plan. Satan wants us to look at the difficulties of the moment and to have us make panicky decisions.

The next stage of your life is about to start. I remember being a bit scared for those next steps. You have an advantage that I didn't. You have parents who will be able to help guide you through some of what you will encounter. If you need us, we will be there. We have tried to prepare for each big step each of you boys will take. We have money for college—not all that you need, but more than most kids will get. If you use it wisely and have a job, you will be able to graduate with minimal debt.

When you get home, it will be good to put together a rough plan for the next couple of years. This will help you keep your direction and keep you moving forward without losing momentum.

This next stage will be great. You have already been through the best two years FOR your life. Now you get to experience some of the rewards for serving and sacrificing. It won't be a vacation by any means. I just mean that, having served a mission, this next stage will not be nearly as difficult as it could be and is for others who haven't gone on missions. Because of that, you will have greater success and be able to enjoy it more.


Monday, July 31, 2017

July 31, 2017: Email for Mom

Exciting news out of Broken Arrow! S. was baptized and T. is getting baptized this next Sunday! I'll see if I can get pictures from the elders there.

The Lord continues to bless us! We were doing MyPlan [post-mission prep] when we got two calls. One was from a girl looking through her boyfriend’s wallet and found our number. When she figured out who we were, she asked if we could come by and introduce her to the church. (She's been looking for one for a while.)

Then we got a call from the sisters in OKC about an investigator moving into our area, wanting to continue the discussions.

Not only are we blessed in that way, but we will also be getting a greenie! It might only be for two weeks, but I'm way excited to get this new guy started.

Thanks for the reading suggestion, I'll definitely take some time today to read it over. [Doctrine and Covenants 121, 122, 123]

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

July 24, 2017: Email for Mom

I think you mentioned about your poetry book a few emails back. I thought it was pretty cool that you and Nathan are designing the cover. Did you get a font design software to make your font?

We had a mission-wide “all bike week” this past week and I don't think I've been sweatier in my life. One day the humidity was way up and the actual temperature was 107 Fahrenheit. We probably would've biked it even without the special occasion because of the fact that it's hard to talk to people on the street when you're in a car. The last few transfers we've pretty well kept to the bikes.

Anyway, the reason I brought that up was because there were some members in some areas concerned about the missionaries’ health and contacted President Mansell. I'm pretty sure that from that day forward he was out on the bikes with a different companionship each day of the week and taught some lessons. He went with our zone leaders and randomly got into a pickup game of basketball. Pretty much the best mission president ever.

One of our newest investigators asked us if we could organize a ride for her to come to church before we even invited her! She's not the best reader, she said, but she feels the Spirit well and knows she feels it when we teach.

We also had a couple that came into church yesterday that said they were looking for a Seventh-day Adventist Church. They said his grandmother was one in Missouri and recommended they try it here. Not sure if they were confused as to his grandma’s church or if he thought we were Seventh-day, but in any case they decided they liked our church and are coming back next week. Miracles are happening in Duncan!

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Monday, July 10, 2017

July 10, 2017: Emails to Dad & Mom

I've included Jason's email to Parker to provide context for his response:

Email from Dad

Elder Rice,

Are your suits going to be in decent enough condition to wear after your mission? What about your shoes—the good ones? I thought we bought you a pair of ECCO brand. I don't remember Johnston & Murphy brand. But if they last, then they're worth looking into again. Rather than bring the mission-brand shoes home, maybe drop them at Goodwill.

It's never an accident or coincidence that there is contention against Mormons. We had an area of my mission where leaders of other congregations were holding anti-Mormon rallies and showing movies full of lies about the Church. I think of it as a momentum thing similar to a sporting event. In a football game, the crowd cheers loudly and shares their energy with their team. Did you know that when they set betting odds for a football game, the odds-makers automatically spot the home team three points? This year, they have BYU favored over Utah by three points in this fall's game at BYU stadium. Basically, they are indicating that the two teams are evenly matched. The reason for the three points comes from the extra energy the crowd brings and shares with the home team. If a team experiences a slump in part of a game, cheerleaders work to stir up the crowd in order to re-energize the team. Then, little by little, the team builds momentum back.

The Church has had good success in your area. Satan has seen that and is trying to change the momentum by spreading lies to counter your momentum. He wants to slow you, to discourage you, and to get you to quit. In order to counter that, you have to bring equal or greater energy than he is. You have to involve your crowd—the Church members. Imagine what would happen if the members and missionaries all got together for coordinated push to counter the lies. This could be done through missionary work and service to the community (Matthew 5:16: "... that they may see your good works and glorify your Father which is in heaven.") The extra energy created in that cooperative effort could mean all of the difference. It will take an effort from you to get the members energized (like the cheerleaders), but the results can be miraculous.


Email to Dad


There's one suit that'll be just fine. The other (the dark blue one) will need a little bit of fixing before it sees any long period of use. I don't think I have an ECCO brand, unless the mission shoe teamed up with them. I could probably wear the Johnston & Murphys afterward, but they're not in the kind of shape that you'd want to send Nathan off with. You can definitely see wear where the sole attaches to the shoe. I have heard that people really like the ECCO brand shoes and they don't look too bad either.

Thanks for the advice on countering the anti. We were sitting in zone conference and they had some messages that definitely pointed that direction, too. We're definitely going to cater dinner messages and do some little two to five-minute drop by visits. (They're calling it “lightning visits.”) In the meantime, we've been having some little success in that. We've answered all our investigators questions and they're getting the idea that there's a lot of rumors. One of them heard we couldn't wear black socks and that tipped things in our favor.

An update on D. and K.: Turns out we held out for good reason, because they had their friends L. and S. over and we taught them the restoration. They loved it! They started off a slight bit skeptical, but D. talked about Moroni's challenge with them and that changed their whole attitude. It’s always the best when someone you teach testifies of something you taught them to their friends. I bet that happened a ton in Brazil.

The Olympics last P-day were pretty funny, actually. We had an obstacle course where we went through a “missionary day.” We woke up off an air mattress and crammed all the pamphlets and copies of the Book of Mormon into a backpack. We then ran to a door to tract and the person behind the door blasted us with a huge water gun marked “anti” as we tried to write our number down on a card and hand it to them. We then did a three-legged race in a zig zag to all of the lesson pamphlets (teaching the lessons), then carried a hard-boiled egg marked “investigator” on a spoon in our mouths, trying not to drop them, and put them in a font/watercooler.

Love you,
Elder Rice

Email to Mom

We've definitely seen an upturn in miracles lately! We found three new investigators in three days and a bunch of potentials. We also randomly found the ID of one of our more promising potentials on the side of the road. I bet he'll enjoy getting that back.

We also have been having more big changes in the way the mission is run. We're doing district councils instead of district meetings. The main difference is that we don't put our numbers for the week on the board. Instead, they're just having us bring council items, like investigators we're trying to focus on and things we want to change in the area. It’s just being experimented with at this point to see what'll happen. Numbers are still reported in call-ins. Weekly planning has also been replaced with a 30-minute preparation for district council the day before.

I don't remember if you mentioned, but where are the new missionaries from the ward headed out to?

Love you, Mom!

Me and D. and K.

B. from Broken Arrow

Elder D.

Monday, July 3, 2017

July 3, 2017: Emails for Mom & Dad

Email for Mom

It’s been a good week back in Duncan! It's been a real blessing to see how much change there's been. S. (an investigator from a while back) has got a real testimony of the Church, has taught her 3- and 4-year-old to know and love the Lord (they call Him "Jesus Chris"), and she has a real desire for baptism. The temporal blessings have flowed for them as well.

We also just randomly ran into quite a few others who we dropped or were dropped while I was gone, who want to try again. Now, there are definitely still some road blocks. And while some are more open, it seems like there's been a lot more skittishness. Lots of rumors flying around about Mormons right now. Another big challenge is people living together and not wanting to be married.

We've also got a serious arsenal of missionaries in our district around Duncan. Just about everyone has not only served 21+ month, but most have served in Duncan before. We get all sorts of referrals with that and run into people that recognize them on exchanges.

My companion Elder D. is pretty cool. He attended Montana State before the mission and has got a little bit of life experience on him. He's been out for about six months now. He's been on high school football, basketball, and baseball teams. He served two transfers on OSU campus and one already in Duncan with Elder L. (one of my companions from Shawnee). Elder L. is getting back home to California after his vacation to Hawaii. Elder D. was trained by Elder R., who served in Duncan South when I was here last. Elder R. is now one of our zone leaders and has already come down for a few exchanges.

I also got to briefly drop into Texas to bring some elders back to their apartment after an MLC. They had accidently locked the keys in their car and the zone leaders had already driven them up to Lawton. Nothing's really different from Texas to Oklahoma except a definite change in accent as soon as you cross the border.

Love you, Mom! I'm praying for your entry into MoTab.
Elder Rice

Email for Dad

So this 4th of July we're doing a "Missionary Olympics." It sounds like there's going to be a lot of goofy missionary themed games, like tossing a Frisbee with the name “Satan” written on it, to see who can cast Satan the furthest from them. Then we'll have a barbeque or something. They're allowing us to email today and moving p-day to tomorrow.

To answer your question about the equipment, I had two large suitcases, which has been plenty of room so long as I've made sure to not pick up too much clutter. Both shoes held up great, but I don't know if I'd go with the “mission shoe” again. It was very comfortable, completely water proof, and pretty durable, but I definitely got quite a few comments on it being goofy looking. The Johnston and Murphy’s were plenty durable. The suits were pretty good, actually. The gray one is apparently an apostle favorite, and the blue one is a missionary favorite. Just make sure that Nathan knows not to dry clean it too often.

It’s been a little interesting out here. While we've seen a lot of good, it seems like there's been an increase in anti-Mormon rumors going around and quite a few people won't even allow us to explain ourselves. We also ran into an old investigator from Duncan South (Duncan is combined to one area now). I'm not sure whether it’s for real or not yet, but she wants us to get rid of devils in her house and her daughter is possessed. I'm kind of skeptical, but she and everyone in the house is thoroughly convinced of it.

On a different note, one of the funnest things here has been to see some of the long-time investigators again. D. and K. have been investigating a while now and he believes the Book of Mormon is mostly true. We've been struggling to help him accept the whole of it though. They're definitely great people and I really want them to accept this, but I also don't want to hang on just because they're friends.

Despite the little concerns, Elder D. and I are pretty sure there'll be some awesome miracles this transfer. We've been working plenty hard and, with all the experience of missionaries nearby with serving in the Duncan area, the Lord has set us up for success. We've already found quite a few new and long former investigators at random as we've been out tracting and biking.

Love you, Dad!
Elder Rice

Monday, June 26, 2017

June 26, 2017: Emails for Mom & Dad

Email for Mom

1720 W. Plato Rd., Apt. 208
Duncan, OK 73533

Getting back to Duncan has been awesome! I got an awesome welcome back from the ward and there are some longtime investigators I plan on getting baptized before I leave. Elder D. is an awesome guy and we'll definitely see some miracles this transfer. He's had great companions, great experience from his area, and knows what things he needs to learn. It looks like there's a lot of work here, too.

I don't have too much to report this week. We've found plenty of potentials and have received a good number of referrals.

Havasupai looks beautiful, and thanks for the Mayan ruin pictures! Those were really cool!

That trail Nathan and Joshua went up reminds me of the "Stairs" [of Cirith Ungol] from the Lord of the Rings. I'm way impressed that Joshua conquered that.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email for Dad 1

That's awesome news about your ankle! And not so awesome about that other ankle. I'm impressed, though, that he walked three miles on that. And way cool that Nathan got to do the blessing. Yeah, Nathan’s pretty much ready for a mission. Is that his first blessing given?

OK, so I don't know what it is, but I can't seem to focus on email writing and can't seem to bring myself to write anything meaningful. Is that just an end of mission thing? I'm not distracted or anything. I'm just not sure what to write.

Love you, Dad. Keep working that ankle and staying healthy!

Elder Rice

Email for Dad 2

OK, I have a brief second to be back on.

All right, all right. I'm just not a good letter writer because a good number of the experiences I have I just don't think anyone is going to really get and I don't want to reuse material from one letter to another too much. You'll see some amazing writing prolifery! Just wait!

Love you, Dad.
Elder Rice