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

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!

May 8, 2017: Emails for Dad & Mom

Email for Dad

Just wanted to let you know, I'm staying in Indian Springs! With how the work has been turning, I'm really glad I'm getting to stay, because I wouldn't be surprised to see another baptism before they move me. Rest assured, I'm not trunky. We've been working hard and this transfer has been the fastest of my whole mission. I will keep self-aware so that I don't get that way, though. Honestly, the closer I get to the end, though, the more intimidating going home is seeming.

Love you, Dad,
Elder Rice

Email for Mom

Got the call about transfers. I'm getting to stay in Broken Arrow! I don't know what we're doing for the Mother’s Day skype yet.

It seems like a lot of our investigators are out this week. It's a legitimate out-of-town and not them just brushing us off, so that's a nice comfort. And knowing I'll get to see them when they come back is pretty awesome.

This last week we had a TON of less actives come to church out of the blue. Well, we'd been working with them, but didn't think they'd be quite to that point yet, but I guess God knew better. The best part is they are mostly part-member families, and their spouses participated a ton in the lessons!

We've got lunch with investigators coming quick here, but just want to say that I love you, Mom. Thank you for being so patient and raising us in the Gospel. With some of our younger investigators, I can see how much of a difference it makes in their lives and improves their future.

Elder Rice

Monday, May 1, 2017

May 1, 2017: Emails for Mom and Dad

Email for Mom

I got approved to come home in August in the mid transfer.

Oh, you know I didn't think about that calendar thing. That kind of stinks, but if he likes it I guess that works! [Parker sent home an Asian-themed calendar for Jacob, but it was for 2015.]

So, S.'s baptism had a last-minute delay. His grandma wants him to keep trying her church. I don't know how that's going to work because we hear she never goes. Anyway, he was really disappointed about it, but I'm sure things will turn around in a couple of weeks.

We have been pretty amazingly blessed this week. One of our investigators, D., went out and bought a few extra groceries for us! She and her family used to live in Utah and have family who are already Mormon. She wanted to make sure that her kids would get a chance to hear our message and they're really open and ready. I've got a good feeling they'll make it.

Also, we made Mongolian Beef and it was delicious. That lasted for a few days with how much we made. Thanks for teaching me, Mom!

Did you mention that Grandpa was going to be a dentist again? I feel like I remember you saying that a while back.

Love you, Mom! We're going to see R. this week and we'll see how everything is going down. Thank you for the prayers.

Elder Rice

Email for Dad

Thanks for the encouragement! We are definitely working hard here in Indian Springs, and you are right—for some reason my thoughts keep going that way. [Toward plans for coming home.] We were just in dinner yesterday and Sister W. was talking about eBay business being a really good side job in college and for the first time I really considered doing something like that. Elder S. and I are holding each other accountable and I really want to squeeze all I can out of this last little bit.

I bet Joshua will get to be a fantastic [home] teacher. Who's Nathan's companion, again?

[In regard to Jason's new job] What goes into publishing a genealogical record? How long is that whole process? How much faster would it be if you could make it “immediate”? That sounds like a pretty big deal. I'm not sure how the whole thing works, though.

Love you, Dad!
Elder Rice

Monday, April 24, 2017

April 24, 2017: Email for Mom

I just got an email back from President Mansell to call him for that August date, so I'll let you know how that goes.

Got the flash drive package. Nathan talked his short film way down. I thought the solution to that film and the whole way it played out was pretty great, but I guess I don't need to tell you that. Thanks for sending the call video, too! That was awesome!

R. has been a member for a good while now and has had ups and downs each week, but this week he was really struggling with the Word of Wisdom, and his brother decided to visit. His brother used some verses from the Bible to try and disprove the Word of Wisdom. R. has heard this stuff before, but this time it’s more of a struggle because he kind of wants to relax. We explained it and answered his question, but it seems that right now he just needs to pray about this. Please pray for him!

The rest of this week was amazing! I feel like we're having huge blessings of meeting prepared people and planting good seeds. We were headed to a potential [investigator's] house when we ran into the autistic son of one of our less-active [members]. We walked him home and spotted a couple outside working on an old fridge. The guy (B.) was trying to be difficult at first and mess with us, but then his younger brother walks out and says they should listen to us. Turns out that his younger brother is a less-active in another ward and he still has a good testimony of the church. After his brother talked to him a little about what we do, he changed his whole tone and asked us for a Book of Mormon! We had run out and so we said we'd pick some up from the car and bring it back, and he was good with that.

Just a little down the road on the way to the car, we ran into a lady who was crying on her porch. Her son was an alcoholic and had run off just that day. She asked us to pray with her for him and she let us come back to follow up with her. There were two more houses like that where the people there were just having a bunk day that we helped out, and then made our way back to B. and B.

When we came back, they said they wanted us to show them how to study it alongside the Bible and invited us in. It looked like they cleaned up the place. We're going back for a second lesson tomorrow!

Thanks so much for your prayers, Mom. I remember that when these things happen, it’s answers to a lot of prayer.

Elder Rice

Monday, April 17, 2017

April 17, 2017: Email for Mom

Well, this week has had to have been one of the best on the mission. Got an amazing package from you guys—the comics were pretty hilarious; they're still sitting on my desk. We had super miracles proselyting and it seems like all the less-active [members] who were so hard to open up with are having a softer heart. Top it all off, Nathan got an exciting mission call [Mexico Tijuana mission]. Elder S. used to go down to the nice part (apparently, there is one) and dirt bike. He said if he had had his choice, it definitely would've been there.

A few days ago, Elder S. and I had the most miracle-filled day. It started off with our dinner cancelling. Yeah, not so good. Our investigator T. also needed to reschedule for the evening and we had to let our member [chaperone] know. He had the idea to have T. come and have dinner with his family and we immediately jumped on the chance. T. liked the idea and offered to bring a dessert. We made a lesson outline and got out to work.

At one point, all our plans fell through and we were about to just go tract for a little, when we got a random call from someone asking if we wanted some referrals. We went and met with the guy and it turns out he was a recent convert of four months. He had just recently traveled to Utah by himself to watch all the conference sessions live, and the branch in Guymon he was baptized into had something like 30 people, so we knew he had joined for all the right reasons. Super inspirational. He referred us to all his family and friends in Broken Arrow and plans on sending a few more our way. We got to the lesson with T. later and she and Sister R. got along amazing. The kids connected well, too, and the lesson went off without a hitch. T. said, "I really feel like this message came at just the perfect time in my life. I really need something like this."

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

April 10, 2017: Letters from and to Nathan, Jacob

From: Jacob Rice
Subject: Remembwah

Hi Parker,

I’m really hoping that you will be able to see Nathan before he goes on his mission. When you get back I'm going to be much older and way more handsome than you, so be prepared :) I’m really excited to see how Inigo reacts when you get home. He might be scared; he might be excited; he might growl—who knows? This week I had a lot of fun for spring break and now it’s back to school. I love you.

Jacob 😗

From: Parker Rice
Subject: Re: Remembwah

Jacob, I don't think it’s even healthy to be that handsome. You might want to take it down a notch before you hurt something. I hope Inigo remembers me! He's a dog, though, so he hasn't seen me in 14 dog years.

I can't wait to see your comic! And I'll get to see you this upcoming Mother's Day, so that will be way exciting.

Love you, Jacob!
Elder Rice

From: Nathan Rice
Subject: Pretty much done animating …

Dear Elder Rice,

My animation is pretty much finished—just a few tweaks and a couple of seconds to animate. It will take a few days to finish rendering, though, so in the meantime I want to create a musical score for it so it’s not just silent the whole 90 seconds. I already have a theme that I want to use for it. After I finish, I’ll have to send the music to you. I’m not sure if you’ll have any sort of access to YouTube at any point, but if you want to see the animation when it’s finished, it will be posted there.

As far as the storyline goes, I found out that 90 seconds passes a lot faster than it seems, so the plot has been fairly condensed and simplified. I did come up with a resolution, though—actually, one of Mom’s coworkers came up with it. (I’ll be putting his name in the credits.) You’ll have to wait to see it. The quality of the video is pretty amateur; the video is sort of grainy, and the animation seems a little bit wonky, but I put everything I’ve got into it, both in computing power and skill.

Animating is pretty much all I did over spring break, except for a training hike for High Adventure. We got up at 6:45 Saturday morning and hiked in the 40-degree weather as it rained. I think Dad will send you a photo or two of us in our yellow rain jackets.

A boy just joined our priests quorum whose family converted to the Church just a few months ago. It’s really cool, but part of me feel a little bit nervous. You know the priests aren’t exactly all that mature and you don’t want to leave him with a bad impression. I guess I should probably get used to it if I’m going to be serving a mission working with investigators for two years.

Even with all the work I’ve been doing with animating, AP Art, and BC Calc, I managed to get a 4.0 last term, which I didn’t entirely think I was capable of doing. I think responsibility is sort of like this super power where, once you have it, you can do almost anything. We live in a day with all this incredible technology that we can use to learn just about anything; all you really need to do is reach out and take it.


P.S. Are you getting my emails? I’ve been sending one almost every week.

From: Parker Rice
Subject: Got ‘em

Yes, I have been getting the emails. I thought I'd sent something back, though. Are you getting mine? Anyway, it looks like you’re still doing a fantastic job on your animation and I can't wait to see how it goes!

So have you got any guesses where you're going to go? I'm thinking Chile or something weird like England, Mandarin speaking. (Not sure if that exists.)

There's not much I've got this week I feel. It’s just been kind of a blur. A good one with lots of new investigators and potentials, but a blur nonetheless.

Love you, Nathan! Keep working hard!
Elder Rice

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

April 3, 2017: Emails to Mom, Jacob, and Joshua

To Mom

So far so good. I'm getting along great with "Little Smith." He's super energetic and excited to be out here in Tulsa. We've been playing chess and doing a lot of basketball handling in the apartment with our extra time. He was also companions with a young man in the ward who is on a "mini mission" right now, and his family was super excited to meet him and has already given us a very promising referral.

Conference was amazing! Uchtdorf and Eyring had amazing talks every time they came up, and I really enjoyed Sabin's as well. His talk was pretty simple, but I definitely was inspired to go "all in."

I have to say the guilt vs. shame culture definitely made a lot of sense to me. I feel like a lot of times people confuse guilt and shame. Not so much here in Oklahoma, or at least not in the way that Elder Christofferson was describing. Sadly, it seems those struggling with faith or who have no faith are often also shamed for not being strong Christians. It's a two-way street, I guess. Anyway, the priesthood talks were fantastic and I have to say my favorite talk of all was President Eyring's talk on walking with the Savior.

I'm glad you all got to watch conference together! It seems like you get to see Uncle Jim's family all the time now!

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

To Jacob

So I saw your gigantic barbarian axe you made! What was the inspiration behind making that? Just had some stuff lying around?

Well, me and my new companion are getting along pretty awesome. His name is Elder Smith and we do a lot of chess and basketball handling in the free time we've got. The other Elder Smith in the mission (the one that trained me) is also in my district. I think he might go home after this transfer, so it's pretty cool that I get to be here for it. It's pretty hilarious because he's a super country redneck guy and spent most of his time in the outskirts areas, and now he's been dropped in the city. He's a pretty funny guy too, so it's a good combo.

Love you, Jacob!
Elder Rice

To Joshua

Sweet! I'm super excited to see what you guys write! Nathan's super busy it seems like, so I'd bug him after he finishes the animation. Make sure to bug him, though. He's got to spend time with you guys before he leaves.

Just had our whole district get transformed! Only Elder M. and I stayed, and he got made the district leader. I have my trainer Elder Smith in my district now and a different Elder Smith as my companion. They're both pretty awesome, though. This last district meeting, we did a lot of role plays to practice our street and store contacting and Big Smith (my trainer) led off by walking up to our “random shopper” and saying "That bread looks SICK!" We all just laughed and the whole thing eventually had to restart because we were laughing too hard.

Love you, Joshua! Keep working hard.
Elder Rice

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March 27, 2017: Email to Mom

Got transfer doctrine at 10:33 p.m. last night. I'm staying in Indian Springs! I'm excited, but I've also got the kind of “left behind” feeling going on. I'll have Elder M. Smith (one of five Smiths [in the mission]) as my new companion. He's been my zone leader before, so that'll be cool to work with him again.

Paintball was super fun! It definitely hurt, though. I would've considered wearing a little more protection, except for it being really stinking hot that day. It was fine, though. We played a capture-the-flag-type game and some normal team vs. team. It's definitely a funny change going straight from having Nerf wars banned to playing paintball. President Mansell just had shoulder surgery and he still jumped in.

Just a little while ago, one of our part-member families took us out to a hibachi grill called Osaka. The sushi was AMAZING! It's definitely different from any that I've tried before. Our server was pretty funny with his whole cooking routine. I'm definitely grateful for the amazing members of this ward and the kind people in the area.

Missionary work was pretty normal this week. S. is still progressing and has found tons of good friends in the ward.

Love you, Mom.
Elder Rice

I don't think I mentioned, but we did this on some past p-day. It's called “Flying T” and it’s pretty much the same thing as Top Golf.

Some guy's amazing gun collection (tracted into him)

[Paintball injury] Definitely looks better that it did earlier.

Monday, March 20, 2017

March 20, 2017: Emails to Mom & Dad

Email to Mom

Today we got approved to go paint-balling! That's the first time in the whole mission that's been allowed!

The rest of the package [you sent] was completely in tact and everything was great! Thanks again, Mom. And thanks for the science experiment. We'll see what we can do.

Well, this week has been pretty swell ... a few receptive people, lots of bashers. They all claim to be well versed in the Bible and that all these other churches don't know what they're talking about because they don't read the Bible or try to understand it. And then they go after our church. I don't think they realize how we work. Almost all scriptural arguments I've heard on my mission make pretty good sense and plenty of verses can be taken different ways. Our stance is equally convincing as all of those that I've heard. We just want to open them to that idea, share our point, and ask them to pray about it. No bashing, no commitment—we're not trying to bust down their door and cram religion in them.

It was actually still a pretty good week. We're pretty good at averting bashes. Side note, I traded a Muslim man an Arabic Book of Mormon for a Quran this week. I think I remember you saying this, but it seems like its just a rule book with abbreviated Old Testament stories. Kind of interesting, but nothing really new.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email to Dad

I saw this dog that reminded me of Inigo this week. When we biked by he was scrabbling at the window of the house trying to get out and see us, and we passed by there a few times. The last time, he busted through the window and just kind of hung there in shock, looking around like he was thinking, "Now what?" I'm sure the owners were happy about all that.

We've got another baptismal date set with a kid named S. for early May. He's really excited and has even been using the normal Book of Mormon instead of the children's comic version. He picks up stuff pretty quickly, but we'll still have to review some.

I've really been trying to pick up in my journal writing. Lately it's been lacking a little. I was trying to pick back up a few days ago and started looking back on what I already wrote. I had nearly forgotten about a bunch of it! And it wasn't small stuff either. Scared me into keeping a better journal, because I don't want to forget all this. It makes me kind of wonder what kinds of things I forgot about before my mission.

So where's the high adventure at this year? I heard you guys had an awesome hike out somewhere in preparation.

Love you, Dad! Have an great week!
Elder Rice

Monday, March 13, 2017

March 13, 2017: Emails for Mom & Dad

Email for Mom
I'll definitely be studying how President Monson goes about his story telling, because I'm trying to figure out exactly what situations call for it and how I can use stories while still having my companion be able to teach. Right now, I'm just using a lot of analogies.

Speaking of object lessons, we've been doing a bunch for a family in the ward with young kids for the dinner message and I've run out. We've done one with matches in a glass cup that sucks in water. We've done the baptism one with the pepper in water and dish soap on a Q-tip. We've done the three knives on the three cups. I won't go into too much detail with the lessons that go along with, but the whole family loves the lesson/science experiment lesson. If you or anyone else knows of a cool one or maybe an interesting experiment we could put a lesson to, let me know please!

E. and R. are both integrating into their wards perfectly. I'm confident they'll be lasting members and we'll continue with the new member lessons, and with Ethan driving his sister to church, I think she might recommit to baptism. It's looking like we've got another baptism lining up as well with another investigator, S. He's 9 and has been coming to church with a member and loves it! He's been asking about baptism for a while and his mom gave the go ahead for him. He's super pumped, but we're also being careful that he knows what he's getting into. He seems to know quite a bit though.

Almost forgot! Thanks for the package, Mom! It was awesome/interesting. The seaweed stuff was a weird, kind of good, snack. The guava juice was delicious! Still haven't made the noodles yet, but I'm planning on it today. The olives exploded in the package, but everything else was fairly intact, just smelled a little olive-y.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email to Dad

Well, I'm glad your [sore] throat isn't anything serious. Being here in Oklahoma has been awesome, but it's making me paranoid about illnesses. It seems like everyone goes in for a cough and then it turns out they have cancer in their face spreading to their eyes. It also might just be that it's kind of an old ward here in Broken Arrow.

So, I got a checkup at the dentist. Only one small cavity and I've got it filled already. Pretty good, since this is the first visit on the mission. The Listerine anti-cavity mouth wash really works.

28 seconds!

Love you, Dad! My comp is ready to leave.

Elder Rice

Monday, March 6, 2017

March 6, 2017: Emails for Family & Mom

Email 1: E. and R.

So the baptism went pretty well this week! We got everyone we needed, and I got to put together a talk on the Holy Ghost. We had Elder M. baptize R., and E.'s grandpa baptized him. Kind of got intense when the bishop announced that our mission president was sitting in the audience, but everything went smoothly.

Email 2: A Little Underdone

I accidently clicked the send button before I was done, here's some more photos and the rest of my email.

Interesting thing happened on their confirmation day. The bishopric was released! All of them bore their testimonies and congratulated E. and R. on their decision.

A member made the most amazing pancakes last week for dinner—bacon and cheese pancakes! I highly recommend them.

So I've heard multiple different answers about the length of a tie! It doesn't help when I see other missionaries with the varying lengths, either. So I just shoot for the tie to at least touch the buckle and to not go down past it.

Love you!
Elder Rice

Email 3 for Mom

Looks like Nathan took a good photo [for mission papers]! Sister Mansell was just saying the other day that that's the picture that the General Authorities see, shows up for you on your missionary portal, and a few other things that I can't remember. She retook all the missionaries’ pictures, because there were quite a few weird ones.

I don't have much to add that wasn't in that other email. The baptism was amazing and afterward we had interviews with the mission president. He mentioned to me it would be interesting if I used my story skills in teaching situations.

Here's my only other picture. It’s of me and a member and a gigantic apple.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Monday, February 27, 2017

February 27, 2017: Email to Mom and Sketches

From: Parker

I've heard enough of the "you think you can be gods" and polygamy stuff that I've gone through all the stages of response. At first I was super excited to clear the air. A few months later I was frustrated with it. Now I really don't care or have any feeling one way or the other about it. We just teach it simply and quickly and move on. A lot of people mistake us for Jehovah's Witnesses and try to use JW-anti against us. Seems like they face a lot of the same problems we do.

E. and R. are getting baptized this Saturday! I don't even really know what to say about it. It's just been a miracle getting them to this point!

We went out this week to Haskell to see some of our less-actives and, man, is it a different world out there. People seem a lot more leery of visitors of any kind. Everyone's got a door gun. One of our less-actives wasn't sure if we were really missionaries. (He was super dodgy on answering any questions at all.) He still told us about the trip wire out back that he had. Said if we'd hit it he'd have come out shooting. In the end, though, he said we were welcome to drop by anytime.

That's about all that was exciting this week. We had zone conference and that was fun. They have interviews every transfer now and that's coming up this week.

Love you, Mom.
Elder Rice

From: Mom

BTW, we got your drawings and the boys were excited to see them. I don't know if they remembered to mention it in their emails.


From: Parker

Yep! Joshua mentioned it. I'll definitely have to send more.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

February 21, 2017: Emails to Mom & Dad

Email to Dad

OK, I usually have pretty good studies! On the harder mornings, I've got some gum to keep me awake and that works well. Elder M. is an awesome companion, too. He's definitely a diligent worker and is really easy to get along with and is generally pretty positive. None of our disagreements last more than a minute. It's been a fun transfer and a half!

That's crazy he knows you (sort of). Elder M. asked me your first name so that he could get in contact with you. I didn't think it would actually connect!

Well, I planned on grabbing those pictures from Elder M. and sending some, but I guess his dad beat me to it, so I'll just have to be sure to take my own pictures more often.

Love you, Dad!

Email to Mom

Yep, I'm really glad I got Elder M. with me out here. He's a good hard worker and wants his mission to be a changing experience. Super likable, too, so it’s been a fun transfer so far.

Whoa, it’s like we got an entirely different dog! Not as bad as I thought it would look. I was expecting him to look all pink and fleshy.

I'm trying to do a little more letter writing and I've already sent some sketches home, so that should help you guys get more stories from me. I feel like I forget a lot of stuff that happens during the week and I remember it a transfer later.

Speaking of polygamists, I heard that whoever the prophet was of the FLDS group in Mexico was jailed or put in prison or something. A few people we talked to thought that was us. It’s super common out here to hear [about] the multiple wives. Also, a weird thing, someone said they'd be more inclined to join our religion if we still practiced it. Kind of strange.

We helped a guy a week ago put up a basketball hoop up for his son (not the easy kind with the base that fills with water and folds down) and he was super grateful. He saw us a quite a few times since then while we were out on our bikes and he told us he felt like God was leading him to talk to us. We'll have to see where this goes.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

February 13, 2017: A collection of emails and pictures

Email for Mom

Sister M. will probably put some [pictures] up in a little while, I remember her taking a few there [at Main Event].

Wow. I think I understand the reactions some people had when I told them Grandma and Aunt Amy were in it [Tabernacle Choir] and that you're trying out. That's a pretty thorough examination!

NO INIGO!! I really hope you don't have to shave him. We did just randomly check out the "dog wash/car wash" place next to us and one of the settings they had at the dog wash was some sort of coconut wash used specifically to get out skunk smell. I don't know if you could find something like that somewhere, but that might be an option.

We had Elder D. come out with us last Monday and I can say that it seems like Oklahoma puts out some pretty good missionaries. He's doing a three-month trial mission (health-related challenge) and he was definitely on the ball in all of our lessons. I'd attribute it to lots of opportunities to go out with missionaries and the spiritual preparation put in by diligent scripture study.

Thanks so much for the package, Mom! The shoelaces also came just in time because I just tore a set this week. The comics were fantastic! I didn't see the picture from sacrament, though. It must've missed getting put in.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Email from Dad


Your companion's dad just reached out to me. He knows someone that I work with. He sent us some really great photos. Try to stay awake in scripture study. You never know when someone is going to take a picture. :D

Mom said the pictures made her tear up. She misses you, as do we all.

Your companion tells his parents that you are a good companion and that you get along really well. Keep up the good work. I always knew you would be an excellent companion because you have always been an excellent brother (and son)!


Email from Companion's Parents

Hi Jason,

Our sons are missionary companions in Oklahoma City. We told our son in our email today that we went to RootsTech over the weekend. From that, he found out that you work at FamilySearch. So I reached out to our friend who also works there and he shared your email address with me. I have attached a few pictures from their mission adventures together. You may already have some or all of these pics, but just in case ...

Z. has really enjoyed working with Elder Rice. He said that your son is extremely knowledgeable in the gospel, kind, and easy to get along with. It seems like he always defers to Elder Rice with the more difficult gospel questions, so I’m so happy that Z. has him for a companion. I hope that Elder Rice is enjoying his time with Z.

Best wishes to you and your family! We pray for our sons every day!!

D. & M.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

February 6 & 7, 2017: Emails for Mom & Dad

Email for Mom (Part 1), Feb. 6

Well, this weekend was a little nuts, but fantastic at the same time. One of our investigators, E., was going to get baptized on February 11, but due to some family health problems, we've moved him to March 4, which will be R.'s baptism by the way. He had an amazing spiritual confirmation finally that the Book of Mormon is true. As he put it, "When I put my mind to something, it gets done." It's a little crazy. Most of those I've extended that commitment to, they always had some slight level of reserve, but I guess I shouldn't be surprised considering the commitment he's had to reading, praying, and coming to church.

This is just a quick email for today. The mission president and all our zone are doing a p-day, so we're getting to email tomorrow. Just a heads up!

We're headed out right now. They're taking us out to some place called Main Event. Not sure what it is, but they said be on time.

Elder Rice

Email for Mom (the rest of it), Feb. 7

Okay! Now I can respond.

Woohoo! I'm sure there are going to be a few upset that you're leaving Primary with how well things ran. I remember a few times when I was in Primary that there were no teachers in the class and things went nuts. Also, I don't think I got to hear what kind of tests Motab [Mormon Tabernacle Choir] puts you through to join.

I didn't think we had many less-actives in our ward. I remember a few, but I guess I wasn't so involved with the whole list as much as I am now.

Hmm ... I'm thinking I'm going to stick with my plan to serve out the mission, but I'm going to keep praying about that. I want to be more sure about the whole thing. I'm pretty sure the mid-transfer departure would put me too close to the UVU start date, but I think It'll give me time enough for BYU-Idaho.

So I found out that the time limit on these computers doesn't limit to just one hour with an optional hour extension. (I'm not sure exactly how much time we can extend, but it’s more.) So If I need to finish an email properly, I can do that now instead of a skimpy little message after the fact. President Mansell would still like us to keep it around two hours, though.

We got to do a bunch of bowling, air hockey, and laser tag at Main Event. Tons of fun, but we're probably not headed back there too soon. It has kind of a Boondocks atmosphere.

I kind of gave the highlight of my week in the last letter with R. We're super excited, to say the least. He's absolutely amazing in the journey he's taken. Every commitment, he's been amazingly diligent in studying and keeping. The only thing I feel like we had to do, was be in the right place at the right time and worthy to teach. He's had the desire from the beginning.

Love you, Mom! I'm happy you'll be getting this little bit of rest!

Elder Rice

Email for Dad

Funny enough, right after I read your email, one of the library workers walked up and started talking with us. She's a huge family history buff and has gone to a few Roots Techs in the past. It might be a door in to teach her!

Also, I met someone out here briefly who says that you know him from work. I can't remember his name, but his boss worked with you or something like that. Just thought I'd let you know, just in case you knew who it was.

Mom mentioned that you got to meet with a bunch of representatives from European countries. Does Portugal's Portuguese have a pretty different accent or can you tell? And did you learn anything interesting in the meeting?

This week's been nuts with all the exchanges suddenly thrown on us. We had our traveling AP drop call and let us know he wanted to do an exchange, then the president's son shows up 10 minutes later and we have to re-plan to make good use of the split. Now we've got a newly ordained missionary coming out with us today and we have a member previously scheduled. Plus, more members asking to come out with us. It’s a good problem to have, but I'm definitely going to need to make back up plans for back up plans for back up plans. If all that fails, I've seen miracles worked when it does, so I guess I shouldn't worry.

Love you, Dad!
Elder Rice

January 30, 2017: Emails to Mom & Dad

Email for Mom

Whoa! Tabernacle Choir? I thought it'd be a while longer before you tried out. I didn't know there was a music theory test. How intense are the try outs? What other tests are there?

Here's some pictures from this week:

Joe Bray

Zone temple day!

This guy came out with us for most of our time in Haskell, our furthest corner of our area. He was baptized a few months earlier and he came and asked when he could go out with us!

More to come ...

So the daily schedule for was changed by Salt Lake [Church headquarters]. We have planning in the morning instead of the evening, and lunch was reduced from an hour to 30 minutes. They're letting us determine when during the day we want to have personal and companionship study. All dinners should be at 5 p.m. if possible.

Tracting has run a little dry (excepting the past two days), but we've gotten a few referrals, all leading to new investigators! I've definitely been able to see how we can't do this work without the Lord. Plans fell through a lot this week and yet we always managed to have the most productive time at those points where the plans failed. The disappointments never outweigh the miracles and blessings.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

One of the less actives we met had 14 four-wheelers. Here's a few.

Email for Dad

I don't have more than a minute left on the computer timer, but I just wanted to say I love you. Thanks for the emails and council. The mission is doing another obedience focus, so we're all trying to figure out what to lay on the “altar of sacrifice.” Sorry the emails have been sparse. I've been pretty slow at emailing and I miss emailing quite a few. I'll set a better order to who I respond to first.

Elder Rice

One More Thing

President Mansell is setting up a day half way through my last transfer to send missionaries home early if they need it for schooling. I'm thinking about it, but I'm not sure. I had my plan set that I was going to go the full allotted time, but after President called, I'm thinking it over again.

Monday, January 23, 2017

January 23, 2017: Email for Mom

Heh heh heh … definitely the kind of deep thoughts I'd imagine Inigo has.

I didn't know there was much of a process to choosing poetry for a book. I looked through some of the poetry books back home and remember that it didn't think there was much of a common thread in some of them. I think the only one was that Viking poetry thing.

I think I've heard a few times that you’re done with politics! Seems like it'll find you anywhere, though. Out here it's kind of funny because it can sometimes fly out of nowhere in the middle of a lesson from somebody and it throws everything off. People here are pretty passionate about whatever side they're on. I guess I'm done with politics, too, in that way.

This week has been "Jeep Week" for Elder M. and me. They're pretty popular here in Broken Arrow and Elder M. is pretty into them, as well. So we tracted all the houses with jeeps in the driveway. It's actually turned out pretty successful.

I'm hearing rumors they're changing the mission schedule. We'll figure that out on the 25th.

We've got this investigator family that's a little frustrating right now. She's a less active, he's a non-member, they have three kids, and are not married. Their 12-year-old daughter got baptized just before I came in and they're trying to get the two older ones and the guy baptized, as well. She just won't marry him! She did have an abusive relationship a while back, but she's been staying with this guy for 12 years! We think there must be some unresolved relationship problem between them and asked if they would see the bishop. They've agreed to it and seemed all for it, but it's been two weeks with intermittent follow up. We're trying to be sensitive to the situation, but it seems like they just don't want to fix things! I haven't given all the info, but honestly, they all could have been baptized three months ago. The oldest is getting baptized February 11, though! I'll have to tell you his story next time, because that's a cool one!

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

January 16, 2017: Email for Mom

So, the libraries are closed, but the Bishop was nice enough to lend us the clerk's office for emailing.

What I'm getting is that these books you're [reading] are actually not half bad and succeed in making readers cry? Because that would be worse to read if you could tell they were trying to, but failing to do it. I've noticed the young adult sections of libraries here are crammed with romance novels. Must be the way literature is headed. Scary.

Teaching R. has been amazing! It's pretty crazy, because we found him only a week ago and he's just taken off with it. He's reading the Book of Mormon in all his spare time, writing down all his questions. He'd already heard a bit about the Word of Wisdom a little from his friends and he's given up coffee and cigarettes! He's one of the sincerest investigators I've met.

Our ward mission leader has to be pretty inspired as well, because he scheduled certain members to come out with us months before we got here who had the most perfect connection with some of our investigators and especially the new ones we've found. One of our investigators turned out to have worked for our member's doctor. Another was originally going to teach at the Church's addiction recovery class (the class was canceled due to weather) and our investigator had been struggling with smoking for years and wanted to stop. One was a Primary teacher who absolutely loves children and he came with us to a less-active part-member home with crazy distracting kids.

Broken Arrow has been pretty amazing so far. Elder M. and I have been pushing really hard to keep things going here and we're seeing a lot of success from it. Mostly it’s been a lot of prayers.

Love you, Mom!
Elder Rice