Monday, November 30, 2015

November 30, 2015: All right, all right

First Email

Okay, I realize looking over my emails that I haven’t really answered any questions. I thought I was, but guess not. So I’ll get a few out of the way quick:

1. My camera doesn’t connect, but the other elders let me put my SD card in theirs, so that works. Sorry about not sending more photos. My camera just always skips my mind.

2. In the way of warm clothes, I just need thermals and a coat I can do service in.

The weather out here is fantastic. We biked in the rain at 32 degrees with tons of wind. And everyone is saying that it’s not even close to being done. It’s all good, though. We're still having a lot of fun besides the weather and when we’re soaked through, people like to invite us in. ...

Our Thanksgiving was awesome. We helped one of the south elder's investigators (CJ) cook Thanksgiving dinner at the church. We went to the M.’s for lunch and the L.’s for dinner, and both meals were amazing. Lots of turkey, stuffing, and potatoes. We played this hilarious game called “Things” after dinner. Someone draws a card with a topic on it like “what you do to get rid of unwanted guests” and everyone writes down a response and passes it in. The card reader reads the responses and everyone tries to guess who said what. If you’re guessed, you’re out for that round.

I’m still getting hungry looking at what you ate. I’ll have to see if they have cottage bacon out here.

You’re going to need a ton of those hurl tags. [This is in response to a picture of Joshua's hurl award from Scouts.]

I miss being out at those parties, but only a little. I’m loving the work out here and I’ve still got growing to do. I can’t think of anything super interesting that happened this week. We met a lot with less-actives and they were all super appreciative that we came to visit with them.

I don’t know if you’ve checked it out yet, but there’s a new Christmas video on lds.org. We’ve been given some cards to hand out to people and our Christmas initiative is to spread the gospel by focusing on explaining why it was so important the Savior was born. So far, it’s been pretty successful. Elder S. and I had our neighbor download the video onto his flash drive and as a result, she spent a good amount of time on the site. She really liked the video and might be more interested in hearing more about us. We also handed out cards in a traffic jam last night. People were a lot more appreciative than I thought they would be.

Maybe I’ll do what Elder K. does and send a photo of some of my journal entries. You probable wouldn’t be able to read my handwriting though.

Let me know how I can write better letters. Love you guys and may God be with you.

Love,
Elder Rice


Second Email (response to Jason about Christmas gifts)

I bet Nathan would like Star Wars stuff. I don’t know what’s on the market much these days. I’ve heard Battlefront is out. I bet he really wants that.

As for me, I think a bunch of chocolate would be good. Maybe a pomegranate, some nuts, and an orange. Something Star Wars-y would be cool, too.

I'm glad the Charlie Brown movie turned out good. I was a little worried they’d just bank on the name bringing in money.

Oh, and this is just a quick response email. My letter to mom is sort of a letter to everyone. I’m going to try to make better time to write a separate one to each of you.

Love,
Elder Rice

Monday, November 23, 2015

Email to Nathan: Difficult Things

I’m not sure I can write about anything else you asked, so here’s a bunch of difficult things:
  • Biggest one, recognizing my own pride. Everyone in our district has noticed that we’re all a lot more prideful than we thought. It’s caused a few arguments and for me it’s caused a lot of stress and forgetfulness. We’ve been working on it out here in Shawnee north and south areas and the results have been great. It’s like Moroni said, you must clean the inward vessel before the outer vessel. We’ve been able to help the ward much more now that we’re working in unity.
  • Another thing is dropping investigators. On the 20th, Elder S. went on exchanges so I got to be the lead for the day. In the first lesson, I had to drop an investigator who really wanted to join and is way cool, but has been making no effort for months now. I don’t know what happened, but she now has a baptism date for April 9 (way far away). I’m going to have to take the lead on the next lesson with her on Friday (always the exchange day). Considering she still hasn’t kept the commitment to go to church, we’re going to have to let her know we can’t teach her anymore. We’ve already taught her all the lessons multiple times.
  • Getting haircuts from your companions and being heckled about it for weeks, that’s also really hard.
We haven’t had Thanksgiving at this point. We’re probably just going to go to a member’s house. We did have a Thanksgiving party, though. Not as many less actives showed to this as came to the Halloween party, so we didn’t get to make any new friends.

I don’t remember saying anything about sending drawings back, but I guess I’ll do that. Joshua wants me to start writing letters home, so I’ll send it in there.

Love you guys,
Elder Rice

November 23, 2015: Life is like a companion's hair cut ...

Elder K. sent the unfixed haircut pictures. Elder S. “fixed it,” and we had K. C. actually fix it. She cuts and does hair for a living and gives us free haircuts. She was pretty ticked off and told all of us that “From the time you guys get into Shawnee to the time you leave, I own your hair! Don’t touch it unless it’s for gel.” The only reason we cut our own hair was because she and her daughter were sick for a few days. I did not want that hairstyle.

Anyway, I’m not sure what you mean about a sweater or shirts. Maybe we need to check the mail today. Thanks for the tips on ward fellowshipping. We’ll make sure to explain that in the future.

So we’ve been talking about this study with some members of the ward that the church came out with. It talks about three different types of mission work:

  1. Missionaries do all the finding and teaching of investigators. At this level, there are about 30 baptisms a month in an entire mission. Retention is very low.
  2. Missionaries find investigators and teach with a member. Here the investigator gets to meet a normal person instead of a weirdo in a suit. They also get a friend/acquaintance right off the bat. Baptisms per month go from 30 to 100 and retention is about half.
  3. Members refer friends and acquaintances and take the lead in fellowshipping and teaching. The missionaries do the only job they were technically called to. The investigator feels they have someone to turn to if they have questions and is converted spiritually and socially. Members know the area better than any missionary and will be there after the missionaries leave. Baptisms jump from 100 per month in a mission to 300 and retention is really high.

This is really the reason why we’ve been stressing this. We do teach all our investigators, but the president wants us to actually be focusing on the members and less actives. Well, I already know you guys know the importance of member work so I’ll get off that topic.

We got to see a pretty cool instance of the hand of the Lord the other day. We caught R. and J. (some of our investigators at our apartment complex) and they had been moving a ton of storage from their container because it had a massive leak and had someone break into it. We came and offered our and the south elders’ help, and we’re going to be doing that Tuesday. That's not it though.

R. brought us up to check out this big glass table she wanted to give away and Elder S. and I said, “CJ could use that” at the same time. CJ is one of the south elders’ investigators who’s gone through some really hard times and didn’t have a table at all. (I’m sure Elder K. has written about him). R. came with us to deliver it and the way CJ was just so excited to get it and R. was excited to give it made everyone’s day. Still smiling about it.

The best way to drop pride is to be thankful for the things we have. And its a good thing Thanksgiving is this week because our district (and apparently in a lot of other districts) have been focusing on that. When you get down to it, we all have a lot more pride than we think. We’ve all been taking a lot of advice from the talk “Beware of Pride.” It says that it is the source of contention. Contention says, “I’m right” or “my way is the best” or “at least I’m not/at least I’m better than/at least I don’t ...” If there is contention, look closely at yourself, because you’re probably not going to pay attention if someone else points it out.

Happy Thanksgiving. Love you guys,

Elder Rice

Monday, November 16, 2015

November 16, 2015: No Subject

Just had Elder S. cut all our hair. Kind of a mistake.

I’m not sure it looked bad (the others liked it), but it wasn’t professional. Luckily we were able to save it. Elder S. had to save his, too, after Elder K. cut his. It’s all right now. Definitely not trying it again.

Mom’s haircut was pretty good, though. Sister L. showed all of us the picture and everyone agrees. You looked too young to have a missionary out.

I had a cool experience with member visits. We met with the M.s to talk about getting the ward excited for mission work (which has been a struggle), and Sister M. mentioned she had met with the lady I met and gave a blessing to last week. She says that she [the lady] had been doing family history work and she has felt the entire time that her family has been with her. That brought to mind only one thing that I remembered in the blessing that just kept running through my head as I gave it—that as she went through her trials, she would be supported by family and close friends.

So our ward has had a hard time with fellowshipping. I think that most people in the ward know someone should be talking with investigators, but that seems to be the problem. It’s “someone,” instead of taking action. I’m worried about some of our recent converts and investigators. I don’t know what they’ll do once we leave.

We’ve been biking a lot in the rain lately and it’s been getting colder and windier. Please send more long sleeves. Size 15. I couldn’t wear the ones you sent for my birthday.

... I hope this whole thing with the homosexual parents baptism thing gets cleared up. The rule makes sense when you actually think about it. The Church is all about families, and doesn’t want to cause division between parents and children because of the parents choices. And withholding baptism isn’t a punishment. Baptism is a commitment and a promise to God to live his standards, not some magical “AND NOW YOUR SAVED!” thing. But you said it was a small uproar. I hope it stays small.

I already heard from members about the bombings, so I’m not going to go on that tangent. Glad Inigo’s better. Joshua let him mash the keyboard to send me a letter and it sounds like things are all good.

I’m sending Christmas presents home.

Love,
Elder Rice



Sunday, November 15, 2015

Email to Nathan

I’m not sure why I didn’t include these in the group email, but here you go.

Well, we had to drop J. as an investigator. He’s been too affected by drugs and every time he’s on Xanax he starts trying to prophesy to us and just wants to bible bash (which is interesting considering he doesn't care much for words “written and misconstrued by man” and doesn’t like large portions of the bible). We just thanked him for his time and asked that if he felt like hearing our message, he could call us. He was a nice guy besides.

Also, during exchanges a guy who wanted to bible bash with us swerved out of traffic and in front of a bunch of cars to tell me that I prayed to Adam and that the devil led us. We let him know our beliefs, left him with a Book of Mormon, and asked him to read and pray about it. We thanked him for taking the time to come and share with us his beliefs and praised his faith in Christ. He stood frozen (looking a little unsettled) and we rode away on our bikes. Sometimes turning the other cheek gets the best reaction.

I heard you guys got Over the Garden Wall on DVD. You guys are going to have to watch that for me while I’m gone. I forgot I was going to miss that this year.

I haven’t met Mrs. A., but everybody else I know. Your new digital media teacher surpasses my expectations. I hope you learn a lot from him. I’m excited to see what you can do when I come back. I hope I’ll be able to pick it back up enough to be able to work on a game with you. I’m all ready a ton more self motivated than when I left. Enough “trunky” talk.

There are opportunities everywhere to meet new and interesting people. Extend yourself and make new friends and learn about new things for me this year. I’m running out of time to email, so tell Joshua and Jacob “hi” and I love and miss them, too. Hug Inigo for me. I’m glad to be out here serving the Lord and hope that all of you will be courageous in making the same decision.

Love,
Elder Rice

Email to Joshua

I sent an email to Nathan last week so now it’s your turn. Prepare yourself (draws sword).

Mom says you invited girls over to watch Over the Garden Wall. Well played Joshua, well played. Glad you guys are having a great time at home. I just realized I forgot to send that book to you guys, and with your Lord of the Rings reading, I bet you’d like it.

I just had the prompting to give a little forewarning. Be careful if you’re watching any anime back home. We’ve seen some problems come from it out here of a moral issue. Make sure you run it by Dad or Mom before you watch anything. Also, that kind of gamer/adventurer/sci-fi and fantasy culture may be really fun and interesting, but as with any culture, if you delve in too deep you’re going to find corruption. In country, it’s drugs and lax Sabbath day practices. Same with skaters and boarders. In ours [anime], just about everything is prevalent (drugs, swearing, atheism, pornography). Be careful about the friends you make. I’ve had to drop some in the past because they were more about the culture than just having fun. Enjoy the things you like, but don’t dig yourself into the culture.

Now I’ll stop preaching and just talk a little.

I hope you are making lots of friends, or at least a close group of good friends. I don’t remember what classes you’re taking this year so just tell me a little about what’s going on in school. Get you and your brothers to finally send me some of your drawings please. I liked your drawing of Greg, by the way. It had me whistling the OtGW theme that entire week.

Don’t forget about night games. I doubt Nathan will organize it, just considering how much he played in the past. Those games will keep the youth of the ward close and are just a fun thing to do on the weekends. We have a lot of things to do at our house (I didn’t even realize it until now), so invite people over a bunch. If you find my BANG! cards or my samurai sword cards, you’re welcome to use those whenever. I can’t hold onto everything while I’m gone. Except the One Ring. No touchy my ring.

I can’t believe how awesome light sabers are! I didn’t think much of them before, but the thrift shop lady just gave me one for my service and now I use it for everything. Example: We have an investigator board where we use the Spirit to guide us to who we should visit. I tried that thing Inigo Montoya did with his sword being guided: "Father, plees, guide my sword..." I probably shouldn’t do that, but it was just kind of fun. Elder S. thought it was funny.

Keep an eye out at home. It feels weird not knowing exactly how things are going while I'm gone, so just make sure things are all good. If you have any questions of any kind about anything, email me. I pretty much summed up my week in the group email to Mom and Dad. I didn’t think I would have so much time to write you, so sorry if it was brief.

Keep sending emails. I don’t know if I mentioned it, but I really do like to hear from you guys. Take care of yourself. Sorry if this email was weird at all.

Love,
Elder Rice

Monday, November 9, 2015

November 9, 2015: Re: Email from Mom

All right, first, I do have sheets. Elder M. left me his and I’m going to wash them. Second, I’m not sure what our address is. I’ve gotten those Bang! cards though, so it must’ve worked at least twice. I’ll check and make sure what the address is though.

You’ll be glad to know that I’m finding time to practice the piano out here, so I’ll be playing the hymns in no time. I’ve got hymns 116 and 142 down (but I already sort of knew those) and I’m working on 155.

That discussion with the lady was pretty rough. Sister L. said the spirit was definitely strong and speaking out, but I think that it might have been saying, “ELDER RICE NEEDS HELP!” It’s a lot better to teach with members, is all I have to say. The rest of exchanges went pretty well. Elder B. and I committed two more people to baptism, a wife and son, and the less-active husband to getting the Aaronic priesthood to baptize his family.

Larry has cut down his whole-pack-a-day (20 cigs) to only six cigarettes a day. He’s looking so much healthier and he’s definitely happier than we’ve ever seen him.

Poor Inigo. Why does he have to be so sick all the time? I hope he can get over all of this.

It’s awesome you got to go out to St. George. Sounds like it was fun. Sister C. reminded us to always be thankful for moms and take every opportunity to say it. Thanks, Mom, for teaching me so well about the gospel and doing your best in keeping me on the path. I’d not be out here if it weren’t for that, and I wouldn’t be getting all the blessings I am now. Love you, Mom.

Love,
Elder Rice

Monday, November 2, 2015

November 2, 2015: Great Progress

First email
Subject: Re: Letter from Dad Nov 01, 2015

Love you, too, Dad. This is just a quick reply. The only thing at transfers that happened was that Elder M. (Elder K.’s companion) went home after his full two years and the new guy in is Elder H. He’s teaching Elder K. Spanish so he can become a Spanish missionary as well. Also my companion became district leader. He’s not happy about it.


Second email
Subject: Great Progress

I’ve got to be really brief.

So the big shirtless guy I talked about in the first email being out here (K.). He’s reaping the blessings of gospel living. He’s not sick any more. He’s not arguing with his wife anymore. He’s even got two brand new semis for his trucking. He really wants to be able to come to Church and I’m thinking he’ll want to be baptized.

L. has toned his smoking down in two weeks from four packs to a half to one pack a day, and drinks one pot of coffee instead of three to four. He’s seeing great benefit and is excited about all the money he’s saving.

I got to give a priesthood blessing to a lady in the nursing home who was recovering from a leg amputation and I’m not sure what happened in the prayer but she was wiping away tears afterwards and the member we brought said it was impressive. I’m just glad I didn’t mess it up. I know it isn’t really me that should get the credit. The Spirit is a great thing to have and I probably couldn’t do any of this without God’s guidance.

R. and J. got to come to the ward trunk-or-treat and the nonmember wife of one less active that started coming to Church got to be really good friends after going through the scare alley together. The wife of the nonmember then invited R. to come to our Church. I hope that all the members can come to have that kind of mindset, to reach out and make new friends.

Gotta go. I’ll send a better letter next week

Love,
Elder Rice