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

Monday, June 19, 2017

June 19, 2017: Emails for Mom and Dad

Email for Mom

So this last Sunday we had six investigators come to church! I got to give a talk on priesthood experience in the home for kind of a Father's Day topic. (There may or may not have been tearing up.) And third hour, we got pie! It was an awesome last Sabbath in Broken Arrow.

So I'm being sent ... back to Duncan! I'll be companions with Elder D. It's exciting, but still a lot of nerves. I don't know if the apartments are the same, so I'll send you the address when I figure out.

I'll probably be out for B., T., and D. (and family)'s baptisms. They're coming quick, but not that quick.

We also found a guy from Brasilia, Brazil. He said he's seen missionaries around a lot, but never spoken with them. He was very friendly and offered to have us over for dinner.

It was a fairly normal week I'd have to say. Church was definitely the highlight. D. was camera shy, but she wanted a picture of us with her kids, so I've got one here.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email for Dad

HAPPY (day after) FATHER'S DAY!!

Besides all the money, it sounds like the cruise was great! Was that part of the Father's Day experience or did you guys get home before that? If the latter, what did you guys do?

I got to give a talk for Father’s Day and I have to say it was definitely an emotional meeting. Thanks for being such an awesome example to all of us. It was not hard to find material for the talk because of all the good influence you had on me.

Also, thought I'd mention we're teaching a guy from Brazil. I won't be able to teach him for long (I'm leaving for Duncan on Wednesday), but it reminded me of you.

Love you, Dad!
Elder Rice

June 12, 2017: Email for Mom

Wish you guys best of luck on your cruise!

I am having a blast out here! We had Elder Echo Hawk come to our mission for a mission tour and he gave some of the most spiritually amazing stories I've heard, and we got a ton of awesome trainings during the conference.

The day following, B. texted us asking, "When is the next available day for a baptismal service?" He's been one of the most honest searchers during this whole process. He even came and told us that he wanted to be rid of his energy drink and smoking addictions before we had even mentioned the Word of Wisdom. He decided himself that he would go to the ARP [Addiction Recovery Program] classes after hearing about them in sacrament meeting.

Also, we helped T. move into her apartment, so now she can come to church. But the really cool thing was that, even with her whole apartment not being put together, we saw that on her fridge she had magneted one thing: The Prince of Peace pass-along card we gave her when we first ran into her. Something as small as that could've easily made it to a trash can, especially during a move. Awesome!

Tell Lily thanks for me. That sounds like a rough job [watching the dog].

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Monday, June 5, 2017

June 5, 2017: Email for Mom

We committed B. to be baptized! We had the most spiritual lesson with him the other day. His member friends from the pest control company came again and bore amazing testimony. When we shared scriptures with him, he said he was feeling the Spirit, and when Elder S. started to ask him to be baptized he started by saying, "When you come to know this is true—" and B. cut him off and said, "No, I already know this is true." And he couldn't stop smiling.

I got to go on exchanges with Elder J. and it seems like their hard work is paying off, as well. We had the opportunity to visit with an excommunicated member and he became inspired to try to rejoin the Church. It helped that he still had a testimony.

Nathan is going to be so far ahead with the language. That'll be the real challenge I think. He's probably got enough gospel knowledge, he's just got to get the Spanish gospel lingo.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Elder S.

The damage

Doesn't actually look so bad ...

Yoda chocolate

May 30, 2017: Email for Mom

T. and D. are both still making awesome progress. We also met a referral, B., that some guys from summer sales here found. He’s been out of church for quite a while and has been continuously searching for a church he feels is true. When he found our pest control people, he was really impressed with their knowledge and ability to answer questions and agreed to taking the lessons. He showed up to church just this last Sunday!

We also had a pretty eventful exchange last Tuesday with Elder S. and me. We found a ton of potentials throughout the day. At some point, we got lost on the way to a less-active and knocked to ask for directions. As it turned out, it was a former investigator from three years ago who used to actively attend and held scouting callings! She took a break after her divorce, but recently had been thinking about us and wondering if there were even missionaries still in the area. She’s a new investigator now! Then later that exchange, we were driving to an appointment and we had made it through and a good distance past an intersection when the people up ahead stopped to turn left, so we stopped. The guy behind us wasn’t paying attention and rear-ended our car. Nobody was hurt and we reported everything to the mission office.

We’re also “teaching” another guy named J. He had a solid marriage with his wife and a few kids, but for some reason things went south and now he’s in a relationship with a guy. He’s still open to hearing us out, but he wants to read the entire Book of Mormon before we come back. He confidently stated, “Two weeks, that's all it’ll take.” So maybe prayers for him would be good. Luckily, he’s pretty morally conservative in all other aspects.

Thanks for the encouragement and the update! Beginning of summer activities were always the best. 

Love you, Mom!

Monday, May 22, 2017

May 22, 2017: Full Email Exchanges with Mom & Dad

Email from Mom:

Dear Parker,

Your mission office contacted me last week for information because they are preparing for when you return home. I don't think they will give you your flight plans until about three weeks before you come home, though. We have to start thinking about where we will put you. We packed up your bed and moved the other boys into Nathan's room. Now their room is sort of a game room. Do you want to be in the same room with everyone else? I'm thinking maybe inflate the air mattress for you until Nathan leaves. Then you can take over his bed until you go to school at UVU.

I heard there was a lot of rough weather in Oklahoma this week. Did you see any of it, or were you out of the path of the tornados?

This week has been kind of a blur. There are only two more weeks of school, so we've been trying to push everyone to get their assignments in and keep their grades up. Nathan has a lot less to do right now, but Joshua still has several big things this week. Jacob is pretty much done. In fact, on Friday he missed school to go to the DARE Lagoon Day with K.H. They were there from 9:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Right before they left, they rode Rattlesnake Rapids something like six times in a row. He showed up at home completely wet and shivering.

Friday night, Dad and Nathan went to a Halo party while Joshua went to a movie party with his Sunday School class. I was home alone for several hours with nothing to do. I have a vague suspicion that this is a lot of what my life will be like in the future.

Jacob had his last soccer game of the season on Saturday. I don't think we are going to sign him up anymore. We didn't for Nathan or Joshua after they graduated from elementary school, and I don't think Jacob really cares too much for it. He'll probably be in track next year just like everyone else.

This weekend was stake conference. I sang in the choir for both the adult and general sessions. There were a lot of good talks, but both sessions were quite a bit shorter than normal. I'm not complaining—it was just weird. Anyway, I had to be early to church today for an extra choir practice which meant Dad had to make sure everyone got there on time, ha ha. They were late, of course, and Nathan missed standing up with the rest of the perspective elders to have everyone sustain them to receive the Melchizedek priesthood. I think it still counts, though.

Our family vacation is coming up in just two and a half weeks. Dad took all the boys to get new shorts, shirts, and water shoes. Nobody ever complains about their clothes so I completely forget to buy new things until something like this comes along. I think Jacob would wear the same clothes every day if he could get away with it, right down to the socks and underwear. It occurs to me that you will need a lot of new clothes pretty soon as well. Dad seems to think you can just take over Nathan's wardrobe, but I think you are probably taller than him. And you will need new winter clothes for when you go to college.

We thought the excitement over Nathan's video was over, but it got drawn out for another week. It now has over 4,000 views. I told you that James Lileks, who is a journalist and blogger, had tweeted it out to his followers and sent it to his Pixar friend. On Thursday, he also posted it to his blog, which drew a lot of clicks and caught someone else's attention who posted it to Imgur. It's been kind of fun to read all the comments people have made at different places. I think Nathan wants to make another video before the end of the summer, but I also think he's a little intimidated about what to do next. I know how he feels—whenever I write a new poem that people like, I keep worrying that the next one will be just terrible and prove to everyone that I don't have a clue what I'm doing.

Tonight is seminary graduation for Nathan. We are all going and then after Dad will take Nathan and Joshua to a High Adventure planning meeting. That is also getting close, I think just the week after we get home from vacation. Little Jacob and I will have a fun week together, except he will be home alone while I'm at work.

I think that's about all the news I have. I'm sure as soon as I hit send I will remember something I should have said. I love you!


Here is the blog post about Nathan's video:

Here are some of Nathan's graduation photos (Missy Nielson Photography):

Response from Parker:

I'm not too worried if I'm in the same room or not. If it'll save space, that will be fine.

The weather was pretty crazy! I didn't see any tornadoes. I think that the closest one that touched down was in Muskogee, quite a ways away. I was on exchanges that day with Elder W., and we were driving way out in the country to Haskell for a dinner appointment and it was raining so hard that all the wipers did was splash the water around. The member gave us landmarks, but we couldn't see any of them except his green truck, which looked black in the lighting. It turned out just fine, though!

T. has decided she wants to be baptized. She's just needing to find a place to live and that will be sometime early in June. It's crazy what the Church will be able to do for her! She's been making a lot of real friends in the Church and I could see them hanging out even if she didn't get baptized (knock on wood).

We also had the strangest morning of tracting the other day. We kept running into people who had met missionaries/been writing missionaries and who wanted us to come over. One surreal moment happened when some random guy walking down the street saw us knocking on a door and said, "Hey, could you come talk with me instead for a minute?" He gave us a few referrals right off the bat, gave us his address, and asked us to pray for him. We must've been guided there because it almost seemed a little too easy.

Man! That is an awesome review! I could also see that being pretty intimidating. If [Nathan] just feels it out I'm sure he'll be fine. It also helps to have all you guys giving input. But that's great that he's getting the notice for all his hard work. If BYU sees some of those reviews, they'll probably change their minds.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email from Dad:


It has been a very busy last couple of weeks. I started my new job and I'm loving it. Although it is keeping me very busy, I love the challenge and the opportunities to make a big difference. I have over 50 people that report to me and that keeps me on my toes. We have a backlog of over 1.2 billion images that I need to figure out how to publish quickly. By quickly, we are looking at the next two years.

Nathan and I went last week to a Halo party at my friend J.'s house. It was fun and like usual, but time went by too quickly. For your information, Nathan turns into a pumpkin at about 1 o'clock in the morning. He was so tired that he actually started falling asleep in the middle of a game. I didn't mind. It was a signal to me that we needed to get home.

We had stake conference on Sunday. There were some really great talks. One was about finding the "sweet spot" between being too humble (self-critical) and too proud. On one side, people beat themselves up too much. Joshua suffers from this. He is a very good kid. He makes mistakes, but he can't seem to let himself off the hook and feels guilty. In my opinion, Nathan is also a little too humble—especially when it comes to his accomplishments. He is OK with Mom promoting his video but refuses to do any of that promotion himself. We talked about the purpose of our having talents. One of them is to help build the Lord's kingdom. Another purpose is to support yourself and your family. I think all of you kids have a ton of talent. Parker, one of your talents is to be liked by others and to treat others with respect. Those are huge talents!!! There are kids in the neighborhood that are anticipating your coming home to play night games.

We are getting down to the end of the school year. I can't believe it's nearly over. I also can't believe Nathan is graduating. When you graduated, I was caught off guard by the swift passing of time. Now that it is here again with Nathan, I can't believe that I've failed to mark the time again. I selfishly wish I could hit a pause button sometimes. But then, that would mean pausing your growth and opportunities.

I need to run. I'm busier than I've been in years. I'm pretty happy about that.

I love you!!!

Response from Parker:

So, there's a less-active we're working with who was baptized by Noah Hartsock (and I think his son was baptized by another Hartsock). That was super cool! I don't remember much about who that is, but I remember seeing the name on a BYU Basketball jersey.

Man, it sounds like that job switch was a pretty good deal! Is business leadership similar to mission leadership?

Too humble is a good problem to have (at least I think). Maybe Nathan just needs to see it like he's building a resume. That might make it easier.

Love you, Dad!
Elder Rice

Response from Dad:

Noah Hartsock played basketball 2008-2012 at BYU. His hometown is Bartlesville, Oklahoma.

There are some parallels between work leadership and mission leadership. It is always important to understand a couple of principles:

1. You need to love the people you work with. Everyone who works for you is valuable. I have worked in companies where people/employees are seen as dollar bills walking out the door. If you see people as assets and not deficits, they will feel motivated to provide value back to the organization. In the Church, we see everyone with their potential to become like God.

2. You have a responsibility to represent the needs of the organization (business or the Lord) to your people and not the other way around. This means holding people accountable, but is balanced by principle #1. Sometimes we need to speak with sharpness—honestly and openly as to the issue, but not with judgement of the person. If it is done correctly, then the person should know that they are loved and that the purpose of the correction is to help them to be better and is in their best interest.


Monday, May 15, 2017

May 15: Email for Mom

Well, I think we talked about most things yesterday [Mother's Day phone call], but here's my poem. I feel like it's not very refined at all, but I thought you might like it anyway.

     Who cared for wounds of body and soul
      and kept them both from getting worse
      when life began to take its toll?
      A doctor or nurse?

      No, that was Mom.

      Who shaped my future and raised my sight
      and inspired me to search for light?
      Who dictated to me the wrong and right?
      Was it Confucius or some holy knight?

      No, that was Mom.

      Who has my unending admiration,
      my thanks to continually own,
      has been forever an inspiration?
      Was it Lasseter, Jobs, or Jones?

      No that was Mom.

Well, hope that wasn't too corny.

So every day we've been doing morning sports and most of the time that means basketball (which I'm proud to say I'm getting better at), but just the other day we decided we were going to try more night-game type games. We did Capture the Flag at the skate park and that was actually really fun!

Thank you so much for all the care and effort you put into us. There's a lot of things we could be doing, but pretty soon your two oldest will have served missions (and later the other two), and there's a lot of other less worthy things we could do.

I love you, Mom!