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