Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Napping on the Job

Sister K. says, "This pic made me laugh so much! Elder K. falling asleep! Apparently he has been doing that a lot and they like taking photos of him! Your boy makes me laugh—the big smile on his face."

Sister L. who moved yesterday says, "These poor Shawnee missionaries have been working so hard the past two weeks. As tired as they are, they are still taking the time to help my family. Please join me in extra prayers for them tonight. What a blessing they are!"

Monday, September 28, 2015

September 28, 2015: My Emails

Has anyone been getting my emails?! All I’m getting sent is “Why won’t you respond to my emails? Send me emails!” I have responded to everyone, even if my email has been a little short due to time. I sent an email Tuesday to make up for Monday.

This was kind of a slow week. We only got one new investigator after tracting and had to spend the rest of the week with service. I love service, but I’m also looking at our records and thinking that we’re not making much progress in bringing people to Christ.

I heard about BYU’s loss before sacrament meeting. That really stinks. I still haven’t seen Mrs. S. out here. I really like Mom’s poem. I haven’t checked out the links yet, but I’ll get to it. I wish I could have been on that camp out. It sounds like from Dad and Joshua that it was a ton of fun. By the way, Joshua, you can’t have my ring or any of the other things you asked for.

Does anyone know about a food or spice that makes anything smoked (in particular, ribs) or just smoke in general smell really gross for the entire day? We had a meal with one of our nicest members and it was a little odd-flavored. The other elders seemed fine, so maybe it was just me struggling.

The people out here are some of the nicest I’ve met. They’re all really talkative, too. It’s rare that anyone will be rude enough to slam the door in your face. It’s great how many people out here have religion, but at the same time, they don’t want to change. They’re a pretty satisfied people and, even if trouble hits them really hard, they won’t care so long as they have the little things they live for. It makes it hard to help them. The portion of them that smoke (which is actually fairly high) don’t have motivation enough to stop. I guess I might be exaggerating a little. I’m mostly in Shawnee in a part not as well off as the others and I visit mostly with investigators.

Man, I keep saying I’ll send pictures but I always forget to bring my camera. I’ll get some here next week.

If Mom wants me to send emails specifically to her, I need to know how, because she said she just wants me to send them here where you can both get to them. This letter is to everyone at home.

Elder Rice

P.S. Card games are allowed out here and some of the other elders want to play Bang! Could you send a deck to us?

Friday, September 25, 2015

Celestial Service

From the mission Facebook page: "Elder S., Elder Rice, Elder M., and Elder K. Moms, you raised some outstanding young men. Elders helping R. family load for move to Fletcher, OK. Anadarko Branch."

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Emails to and from Joshua

The following is an exchange between Parker and Joshua that I didn't post earlier because Joshua only forwarded it to me today. Some of the information Parker shares is a repeat from emails to us. I wouldn't normally include Joshua's emails, but they are just too funny. The relationship between these two boys tickles me!

From: Joshua Rice
Sent: Monday, September 7, 2015 10:47 AM
Subject: Message to Parker Rice

Hi Parker!

Even though you haven’t been gone that long, it feels like you have. By the way, what’s the food like at the MTC? Do you remember what cartoons are?

Speaking of cartoons, Gumball finally went Super Saiyan. Yes, he really did! I would show you a picture, but I don’t know how.

If you get homesick, don’t just think of what Nathan’s quote said. Think of this, too: “Use the force, Harry.” — Gandalf

Or maybe this: “You must look within yourself to save yourself from your other self. Only then will your true self reveal itself.” — Zuko

Anyway, have fun on your mission. Good luck and have fun!

Wish you were here!

P.S. You forgot to tape up your Pokémon cards. Can I have some?

From: Parker Rice
Sent: Monday, September 7, 2015 2:58 PM
Subject: Re: Message to Parker Rice

Thanks Joshua.

First, no, you can’t have my Pokémon cards. I’m very serious. I’d like to sell those when they’re old. Please put them with my swords. Good Zuko quote.

Well, it’s an awesome adventure out here. Very much like Hogwarts, with learning special abilities and all that. Feeling the Spirit, blessing oil, anointing, and other spiritual stuff. I’ve gained a lot of friends here. All of my branch greets me when I enter the room with “ELDER RIIIIIIIIIIICE!” And sometimes they just say that for fun. Unfortunately, it might get irritating after two years considering almost all of my branch is going to Oklahoma with me.

Be safe, Joshua. I know that sometimes I might not sound serious about spiritual things, but out here it’s so different. I can’t really explain it. Just know that the Church is true. At some times, it may seem like praying doesn’t get an answer. But as I’ve learned out here, when you really need an answer and are ready to receive it, you will.

Elder Riiiiiiiice

From: Joshua Rice
Sent: Sunday, September 13, 2015 10:22 AM
Subject: Hi Elder Rice

Hi Parker,

I have another quote that is awesome: “Dude, don’t fight. Take a chill pill and it’ll be all right.” — Gandhi

If you didn’t know, Gandhi really didn’t say that. Gumball did.

Anyway, Studio C got enough funds in special effects to buy a portal gun and Inigo keeps getting stung by bees.

BYU won [after] an incredible pass [play] in which they were one point down with one second on the clock when they passed it across the entire field and he caught it in the end zone.

Anyway, what’s going on with your life?

Email me back or else!!!

From: Parker Rice
Sent: Monday, September 14, 2015 10:58 AM
Subject: Re: Hi Elder Rice

It’s my last day here and I can say pretty well that I can tell what the Holy Ghost feels like. Besides that I’ve just been strengthening conversion. We actually committed a nonmember to baptism. Hopefully she follows through when we leave.

Our branch elders decided to put together a “Last Supper” for outgoing missionaries by bringing a table in their bedroom, compiling all the food they had received through mail, and wearing bed sheets as robes. It was more of a feast really.

Just a reminder, those Pokémon cards aren’t yours! :-l

I heard about that game from our branch president. I could actually hear the game from the MTC and see the stadium from the fence. Did you guys go?

Next you hear from me I’ll be in Oklahoma!

Elder Rice

September 22, 2015: Short On Time

I’m sorry I didn’t email yesterday. I forgot which password was the one for my email and I typed the right one wrong. I sat fairly bored in the library for a little over an hour.

Anyway, I can’t respond to all the emails at once, as I only have 10 minutes. Joshua should be getting replies to his emails. Ask him to check. I’ll keep a look out for Mrs. Savage. I miss all of you (but not enough to think about heading back).

So Shawnee is an interesting place. I’ve met with all sorts of people. I’ve figured out what “Okie talking” is. One of the less-active members told us a story about one of his door approaches. At this one house, he had the door slammed in his face four times with the door wobbling open. He thought that it must’ve been God stopping it, and that might be true … if He inspired the cat to try and walk out the door at that time.

Another nice family laid out for us a detailed explanation about how the Muslims descended from the Canaanites and how tinfoil hats are good for something to do with EMPs. They were really kind and gave us dinner.

Those are the only unusual experiences that I can think of right now. I’ll send a better email next p-day. I’ll also have my camera on me.

Elder Rice

September 21, 2015: No Email

We didn’t receive an email from Parker on his preparation day (p-day), so I posted a request for information on the mission Facebook page. A member in the Shawnee area said they went to Stillwater after breakfast for a zone group p-day, so he might not have had the chance to email. She mentioned that breakfast was at her house—“chocolate gravy and biscuits.” Sounds like a recipe I need to get! She later messaged me to add:

“Just to put your mind at ease, all is well. Elder Rice just didn’t bring his written-down [email] password and he didn’t have it memorized yet. He seems to be doing great. He is so polite and smiles a lot.”

A mom of another missionary in the same area, messaged me later. She is English and her husband and children are Australian, but they live in Centerville now. Here’s what she had to share:

“This is Elder K.’s mum! I heard from Elder K. today! He said he is sharing an apartment with Elder Rice and Elder Smith. They get to share a car with them. One day they have the car then the next day, they bike it!

“Sorry just reread the email—they are in the apartment next door! Also your son has the north side of Shawnee and Elder K. has the south side. When J. sent his email he said he could not be long. I’m sorry you didn’t get to hear from [Parker]. But I hope the little bit of info helps.

“I forgot to add that transfers are every six weeks. The ward is very small, but the missionaries are a big part of the members’ lives. It’s a very humble area. J. said they have been eating at members’ homes, so I assume your boy has too!”

Sister K. also called the next morning to talk with me about the area, which her son said was very poor but filled with generous people. Church members spend a lot of time helping the missionaries; it’s just part of life for them. That made me happy to hear, but didn’t surprise me much based on the wonderful responses I’ve gotten online from members living in his current area. They have been very generous in contacting me and sending pictures to keep me updated on how Parker is doing.

Sister K. also gave me the address to the elders who live next door to Parker. They asked for no packages to be sent since they can’t guarantee they won’ be stolen if left on the doorstep. But if you’d like to mail a letter, send it here: Elder Parker Rice, 1810 N. Harrison, Apt. G-132, Shawnee, OK 74804. You can be sure I’ll be sending one!

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

September 16, 2105: Parker with His New Companion

Sent this morning by a kind member in Oklahoma. He is assigned to Shawnee with Elder S.

September 15, 2015: Parker Arrives in Oklahoma

At the airport

At the airport

With President & Sister Walkenhorst. For reference, Parker is 6'2"

Monday, September 14, 2015

September 14, 2015: Leaving Tomorrow

All right, last email (probably) before I’m in Oklahoma. Elder H. and I committed an investigator to baptism, though it’s unfortunate that we won’t be there for it. We’re all getting pretty good at discerning the spirit, now we just need to have it guide us better.

I finally got to go inside the Provo Temple today and we did initiatories. I met a bishop there while we were waiting. Bishop T. C. B. (I think that’s how it’s spelled) moved here from Italy. He told me about how he thought the missions in the states were “beautiful” and that he would prefer one like that. He talked a little about his family and about his son on a mission in Italy. Talking to him definitely helped me and I shared a little of what he said to our branch. With how much it helped us, I think that he was meant to be there to help all of us.

A bunch of elders did a “Last Supper” for outgoing missionaries last night. They all used bed sheets as togas, dragged a table into their residence, and piled the table up with all the food they had received in the mail. It was more of a feast really. We also got locked out of our bedroom without a key, nametag, or key card for the buildings. We had to find some side entrance to get to the office to get a key.

Thanks for the watch, though I’m wondering why you bought a new one instead of sending me that really nice one in the 9¢ container that you got me. Also, who sent the donuts? The other elders and I really appreciated that. Thanks for the chips and salsa too.

I had a pretty similar experience to yours [Dad] when we came back from class and heard the [BYU vs. Boise State football] game going and a bunch of cheering. I figured you guys would be there. We stopped by the fence to catch the score, but that was about all we allowed ourselves. Some other elder stayed out until lights out though.

And thanks for all the help Mom.

I'll send some pictures later today.

Elder Rice

P.S. This is an email to everyone. Nathan said Mom got irritable last time.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

September 12, 2015: News via the mission Facebook page

The following is part of a post to the mission moms’ Facebook page made by a woman who shared her experience about volunteering as an “investigator” with the MTC’s Teaching Resource Center:

“Earlier today, my husband and I Skyped with missionaries in the MTC that will be arriving in the Oklahoma Oklahoma City Mission. The one elder told me that his mother was a part of this group. I would have sent a message to her personally, but it would have gone into her ‘Other’ box as I am not her friend on Facebook. As I didn’t know how often she or the other mothers check their ‘Other’ box, I felt that I should post the photos I have here!

“Elder H. (on the left with a yellow tie) from ... and Elder Rice (on right with darker tie) from Kaysville, Utah. Elder H. and Elder Rice spoke to my husband about every member being a missionary and that the Book of Mormon testifies of Christ. ...”

Monday, September 7, 2015

September 7, 2015: First Email from MTC

Thanks for the tip Dad. I'm actually a little worried considering how easy it's been so far. Something more difficult will probably come up. I thought it might be more difficult to talk to people than it has been so far. My companion is Elder H. Probably the best companion for me to start off with considering we both aren't super talkative, though that's changed slowly.

I'm getting better at discerning the Spirit. We just had fast Sunday and we got to see Elder Bednar's talk on "The Character of Christ." It's totally changed my mindset about this whole thing. I'm just working on learning better how to forget myself and just work and serve others.

I'm waking up every morning fairly easily, so that's good. And I'm not allergic to the Chinese food they've got here. I've been trying to control my eating, and I've done pretty well at not getting a donut and white bread at every meal.

The elders in my branch are Elders W., B., K., S., M., and K. We have no sisters in the branch.

I didn't ever think I'd cry from feeling the Spirit, but this last Sunday changed that with some of the testimonies given. We're learning to love as the Savior did. There are all these truths that I knew as a concept but never really internalized and now I wonder how I could have missed it.

We're a pretty quiet branch sometimes, but we still have a ton of fun. Elder K. and B. rolled an orange down the hallway until it somehow blew up. We all go out for a branch soccer game during gym. Everyone has a unique greeting for me when I enter the room. "ELDER RIIIIIIIIIICE!" They say it just sounds awesome and sometimes they just say it out of nowhere.

I've done a ton of reading. I read through half of the gospels and all of revelations just for fun. It's really weird. I've always liked old books though, and the spiritual aspect improves it so much more.

There's still more to tell, but I don't want to take too much time so I'll just save it until next time.

Love you too,
Elder Rice