Sunday, December 15, 2013

[12/09/2013] Week 40: Josh and Justin Baptized!


This week was a blur. Seriously, I'm doing my best to think about it, and not much comes up.

But here we go!

Wait, first: Happy Birthday, Brandon!! How was it? How is it being 23 now? That's old... And to Christian, I thought of you on the 7th. But I couldn't remember what the day is officially called. I just know it was Pearl Harbor Day. Is that it?

Anyway, this week was good. We found 4 new investigators (that's a ton for us). Two of them were Tyson and Desiree, a humble couple who are currently living in a motel and doing the best they can to get their children back from CPS. Elder Lovell and his former companion had actually met Tyson and Desiree a few times at the library and had good interactions with them before a member in Lynden ever referred them to us for welfare assistance. They're really nice people, and I can't help but love them. We stopped by on Monday evening and shared with them our testimonies. We invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, to which Tyson responded that he had been praying about us and our message ever since Bishop Jenkins first agreed to help them with their motel rent. He was brought to tears as he related that he has been feeling so enlightened in recent weeks as he has poured out his heart in prayer and done his best to study the Bible. He remarked that the Church just happened to be there when he and his wife had nowhere else to go.

Another was an 11-year-old kid named Andy, whose grandmother with whom he lives, Sister Tatum, is less-active. It turns out that while Andy pretends to be a punk and suffers from somewhat of a speech impediment, he's actually kind of brilliant. He followed along with the lesson quite well, used some big words for his age, and even mentioned he's read Tom Sawyer. Shesh. I haven't even read Tom Sawyer.

Since I've been in Blaine, we've worked with a couple named Joseph and Anna, recently married, the latter recently baptized, and, unfortunately, both less-active. They really love each other, but they fight a lot. We've done our best to help them learn how to continually invite the Spirit and receive revelation by reading the Book of Mormon and praying. At some point last week, they asked us not to return, on threat of calling the police. So we didn't. Not us, not the bishop, not anyone else from the Church. Suddenly, Joseph was very hostile towards any outreach from us. It was heartbreaking because just the night before, we had had an awesome lesson with them on ordinances (particularly the Sacrament) and had left them with what we thought to be a constructive commitment. We backed off, and prayed their hearts would be softened. On Tuesday, Anna called and told us she had basically kicked Joseph out for several reasons and she wanted help. Well, yesterday, we got a call from Joseph in San Diego, telling us that he was very sorry and seeking forgiveness. It was kind of awesome because of how much of a contrast this was, but it was an answer to our prayers. Hopefully, he'll continue to make progress in that direction.

On Thursday, we had Mission Leader Council, my first one as a zone leader, and it was great. All the zone leaders and sister training leaders gather with the mission president and we discuss the needs of the mission. We focused a lot on goal-setting and actually working and preparing to achieve those goals, though they are far out on the horizon.

Josh on the left, Justin on the right.
On Saturday, we went down to Everett for the baptism of Josh and Justin Copenhaver. That was awesome. It's weird how, once I went back to Seattle Hill, three weeks of having been gone seemed like forever. I was asked to baptize Justin and Elder  O'Rullian baptized Josh. The first time I ever baptized a person, and it took me three tries. Sheesh. I felt like a priest blessing the Sacrament for the first time all over again. But it was really a sweet (and surreal) experience to be standing in the font with my arm to the square administering the ordinance which grants one access to the straight and narrow path back to our Father in Heaven.

There's much more, but I'm out of time.

Thanks so much for all the support and love. I'm workin' hard!

I love y'all!

Elder Martin

[12/02/2013] Week 39: Canada, eh?

This was a really good week. I must apologize, for the Blaine library is more limited on time we can spend on the computer, so my letters are likely to decline in bulk and/or quality.

So I have officially been to Canada!
And this time, we didn't freak out
the border patrol. :p
Have you ever heard of William Branham? For some reason, we keep running into followers of this man and they all claim him to be a prophet. So it's exciting to hear that others believe there should be a prophet in these days and then we find out that it's this guy, and we get frustrated. They all talk about how he's been "vindicated" thousands of times and blah, blah, blah. Just kidding. That's mean. But I tell you, it's not proof or physical evidence that we should seek. It is spiritual evidence - divine revelation - that we should seek--that which moth doth not corrupt. All of these people (I like to call them Branhamites) are telling us that William Branham was a prophet because he's told the future and read people's hearts thousands of times and because he preaches good stuff. All we can do is testify and invite them to read the Book of Mormon and seek it out for themselves. So far, none have taken us up on it. :p

That's my less-than-coherent rant of the week.

Peach Arch Park - Children of a Common
Mother Memorial
Boy, do I love exchanges! We conducted a mini-exchange with the elders in Ferndale 2nd ward. I went with Elder Scott, who is coming up on his six-month mark and is still in his first area. We did a bit of tracting amongst some large plot homes and found a new potential investigator named Lois who invited us back -- after the new year. Well, on the way out of the country-ish road we had tracted, the Spirit prompted me to take a branching road to another section of the neighborhood. I turned right, suggesting to Elder Scott, "Let's go on an adventure!" We came to a large field, on the other side of which we spotted people in their front yard raking leaves. Coming from a long way in plain sight is often a difficult approach to make as a missionary, but of course we did it anyway. As we came closer, we recognized the figures as an older woman and two young children. We offered to help her with the leaves to which she responded, "No, thanks. I think we're good. But what else ya got?" gesturing at our copies of the Book of Mormon. Hot diggity! We taught and testified briefly and powerfully of the divinity of Jesus Christ and the restoration of his church through a modern-day prophet. She expressed much interest in getting to know our view and in getting back in tune with God in general. We exchanged contact information, set up a return appointment, and had a prayer.
Peach Arch Park - on the border
We not only found a new investigator, but one of the most prepared people I've probably seen in a cold contact in my whole mission, in less than two hours. Miracles always happen on exchanges!

On Thursday, we went to the Peach Arch park on the border, and had a fantastic dinner with some members. I was well taken care of. But I definitely miss my family and friends, for which I am very grateful. I love you all!

Elder Martin

[11/25/3013] Week 38: A Rolls Just Chillin'

I don't have a whole lot of time today. At all. It's not p-day, as our p-day has been moved to Thursday (makes sense). But we're allowed to take some time to email today and ensure our loved ones that we are indeed still living.

Yes, that ditch is the border and yes, those are Canadian houses.
So when President asked if I was ready to go North, he meant it. My new area is in Blaine, Washington. I am literally as far North as anyone can go in the mission, and probably even in the Western United States. I will attach a picture of myself standing steps from the United States-Canadian border (I got too close, set off some sort of detector, and a border patrol officer arrived within minutes to sniff it out).

It has recently gotten pretty cold, at least for a Texan. I don't know if that's because I moved two hours North of where I was in Everett, or if the whole state has seen this change in weather, but what I do know is that I am immensely grateful that Mom bought me a set of long johns and made me take them. They are so awesome.

Elder Lovell and I, squinting because THE
SUN IS OUT TODAY. We've had about a
week straight of fantastic weather. In the
winter in Washington, that's unheard of.
But I ain't complainin'.
My new companion is Elder Lovell from Delta, Utah. We are the zone leaders for the Ferndale Zone which makes up half of the Bellingham, Washington Stake. So far we've had a blast. When I got here, they split the Blaine Ward into two proselyting areas, so we're now sharing with sister missionaries, one of whom is fresh from the MTC. Most of the investigators and less-active members that Elder Lovell was working with last transfer ended up in the sisters' area, so that was sort of a bummer. But since I arrived here, I have felt my faith that Heavenly Father has prepared many people to receive us go way up. So I'm not worried at all. And that faith has resulted in a witness so far. We've met and talked with a lot of people this past week who are genuinely interested and have invited us back.

This weekend, we had the privilege to hear from Elder Bednar. That was so, so awesome. I think one of the biggest things that impacted me was how Elder Bednar taught us that when we do anything in preaching the gospel with the intention of benefiting or drawing attention to ourselves, it is a form of priestcraft and calls for hasty repentance. Sometimes, I feel like I am way too prideful, way too interested in the way I look, or way too concerned with how hard a time I am having. I need to forget myself and concern myself with allowing others the option of coming unto Christ and receiving the same saving ordinances I have received. Like, seriously, get over yourself!

Me with the Robinsons in the Seattle Hill Ward
Other cool (and super helpful) insights from Elder Bednar (and the Spirit) include: I need the joy of the gospel in my countenance (smile more [This one has already proven successful]). Revelation is a conclusion, not an explanation. "Baptism of fire" is not necessarily confirmation for the gift of the Holy Ghost, but the revelatory experience that comes after "baptism of water"/confirmation, letting you know that what you're doing is right. The power of godliness (remission of sins) is manifest in priesthood ordinances. Thus, forgiveness of sins is only found in baptism and confirmation by proper authority. Control is an illusion of the natural man; God is in control. A marriage is not something you find or fall into -- it is something you create. After all, God did not just find the universe or this solar system or this planet. He created them. To "challenge" is a business tactic. We must invite, persuade, and entice to do good. The Proximity Principle consists of this: revelation comes more readily and recognizable while in the setting it is related to. When you're not feeling it, do missionary work anyway and you will begin to feel it, for just as thoughts can precede actions, so actions can precede thoughts.

At the end, he invoked a blessing upon us in which he promised us success according to our desire and diligence. That definitely stood out. I have the desire. I just need to be diligent. Elder Bednar, I'm takin' that one to heart. It's time to hit it!

Having been transferred to Blaine, I'm kind of lucky. You see, Elder Bednar decided to speak to the Bellingham, Washington Stake yesterday morning as well. So we got a double-dose!

Not much time left. I love y'all!

I will pray for the Webbs.


Elder Martin

[The pic of Elder Lovell and I, we are] squinting because THE SUN IS OUT TODAY. We've had about a week straight of fantastic weather. In the winter in Washington, that's unheard of. But I ain't complainin'.

Also attached is a picture just for Dad. A Rolls Royce just chillin' at the local Chevron in Blaine. Cool.

[11/18/2013] Week 37: Finding Giovanni

Our district! Sisters Adams and Garn.
Elders Black, Martin, O'Rullian, and Payne.
It's been a crazy week. We were just running all over the place getting ready for Tia's baptism. We taught her just about every night to finish up the lessons. Oh, I don't know if I told y'all, but Tia and her family bumped her baptism up a week because that's when Grandpa could make it into town to perform the ordinance. So we had Tia's baptism on Saturday and her confirmation on Sunday.

Shot of planes ready to be delivered to customers.
On Monday, we took a tour of Boeing. Something you basically have to do if you're serving in Everett. It was awesome. Those planes are huge, and the factory is huge -- the largest building in the world by volume. Some fun facts: the Boeing plant is so big, you can fit all of Disneyland plus its parking inside. Also, you could fit 75 full-size football fields inside -- the whole NFL football season could be played in one day! And if you're looking to pick up a 747 (the largest model), plan on dropping about 359 million dollars.

Brother Lothyan and I
We learned on Monday that Elder Bednar and Elder Schwitzer (Second Quorum of the Seventy) are coming to speak to us on Saturday. Oh snap! Get ready to repent! But seriously, I think this will be a huge benefit to the mission. We need a boost. We also learned that our mission will be having no more mission-wide Temple trips. Ever. That was a huge bummer, and it's hard for me to understand, but our work is focused on the salvation of the living and not the dead. It's gonna take faith!

Justin and I
Tuesday was just great. We raked Tami's leaves for her again, which made her super happy. Investigator drops you? Just kill 'em with service. Seriously, she'll come back around any day now. :p We also taught Tia about the Word of Wisdom using the CATTS (Coffee, Alcohol, Tobacco, Tea, Substances) method. This works like a charm for any small child, guaranteed or your money back. Though, she had a hard time committing to abstain from marijuana (mind you, she's 8) and tea. After all, "it's natural though!" Man, she is growing up in a twisted world. After that lesson, we were supposed to have dinner with the Browns, but they had been so busy with preparations for Brother Taylor's funeral that Sister Brown just forgot. So she gave us $20 and we went to Applebee's and enjoyed ourselves a Two for "$20" dinner. When we were done, our waitress came and offered us dessert, which we politely refused, as we were feeling fat enough and were working with a tight budget. She responded excitedly, "Well, ok. Someone has paid for your dinner, so you're free to go!" I tell you, that sort of thing just makes a missionary's day.

Giovanni and I
 Wednesday was the highlight of my week. Why? Because WE FOUND HIM. Just before turning in for the evening, we decided to call Sister Barker and see if she'd heard anything further from her son, Giovanni. When she picked up, she started going off about the lady across the street who has been meeting with the Spanish sisters. Good to hear, good to hear. Well, what about Giovanni? "Oh, Giovanni? He's here right now actually. You wanna talk to him?" "WHAT. We'll be over in two seconds!" Sure enough, we knocked on the door and there he was, same as we always knew him. Apparently, he had been home for a few days. And no one bothered to tell us! He went down South to somewhere in Seattle to pick up some money that someone owed him - about $7000. Then he had to go pay it to someone else. Sketch... And for whatever reason, he didn't return a single one of our over 25 missed phone calls. We were worried sick! Anyway, we had a typical lesson with Giovanni, but there was a subtle difference about him. Something was amiss. His mind was elsewhere and I am worried for his spiritual wellbeing. The preceding events of the day consisted of district meeting (went well), a lesson with Gilda on the Word of Wisdom (she drinks coffee sometimes),
Gilda and I
lesson with Tia (finished up), and a dinner lesson with Anthony and Laura (requoted by Laura in his absence, he's "not going to read that book"). Cue "finding Giovanni scene".

Thursday, we had Tia's baptismal interview and helped some people move, who then paid us in Jimmy John's. Boy, do I miss my JJ's.

On Friday morning, the zone leaders sent out leadership calls. I'm going to be a zone leader next transfer (which also means I'm getting transferred) and Elder Payne is going to be the district leader in Everett District #3. So that means Elder O'Rullian will likely be on bike this next transfer, which will not help his morale. I'm gonna be praying for him to have good experiences. New leader training took place on Friday morning as well, and that was definitely edifying.
The Pasketts and I
President Bonham made it clear that he feels very comfortable with these leadership assignments. That reassurance is helpful to me. I like to know that this is right and that the Lord will qualify me, for he has called me. I'm actually super excited for this new opporunity to serve in a greater capacity. We gonna hit it hard!

On Saturday, we attended Brother Taylor's funeral. I really amazes me how spiritual funeral services can be. I walked out really wishing I had known Dan Taylor. He was clearly a great man. The baptism started
shortly after the funeral ended, and as a result, not too many members of the ward were in attendance. I stressed quite a bit about that especially since President and Sister Bonham were in attendance, but eventually the Spirit just told me to sit down and enjoy Elder O'Rullian's prelude. So I did. And it helped a lot. The baptism ended up being wonderful, as many of Tia's family members came to witness the ordinance. I even got to see Conrad again. I've been thinking about that, and it's honestly really humbling that Heavenly Father has allowed me to work with this family in both of my areas now. It's all about the families!
Josh and Justin being their silly selves.

I spent some time yesterday after church saying goodbye to families and individuals in the area with whom I have formed connections. Today will be spent with Giovanni and Brother Noll and the root beer store in Lynwood (yes, owned and operated by a member of the Church).

How's it going with Deborah? With Josue? With Walker? I need updates, people!

Me and Josh Copenhaver sporting his Halo toys.
If y'all remember Alanna Smith (Canadian ex-girlfriend from sophomore year, master soccer player, and triplet), she sent me a letter the other day with questions like, "What are Mormons all about?" and "What are your beliefs?" Oh, Alanna. Those are just the questions we missionaries love to hear!

I'm gonna send a ton of pictures now.



Elder Martin
Sister Copenhaver and Keven added.

[11/11/2013] Week 36: Sunny Days Ahead

Hey paps!

This week definitely had its highs and lows. Last Monday, we ended up without p-day plans, wandering around. Elder O'Rullian ended up feeling really sick and then really depressed all day long. It was pretty rough.

Tuesday, we visited Brother Lothyan and had a great time reading through Alma 5 with him. He opened up about his addiction struggles quite a bit and testified of the power of the Church's addiction recovery program. He hasn't ever been to church while I've been here, but he always lets us in and always loves hearing our messages. Well, we offered to knock on his door Sunday morning just like we do with the Copenhavers and he said sure! Unfortunately, he ended up with bad back pain yesterday and couldn't make it. Oddly enough though, Sister Lothyan was at church! I hardly ever see her when we visit their home, let alone at church. So that was a pleasant surprise!

District meeting was pretty good this week. I taught about how to improve contacts with people and how to turn those contacts into new investigators both naturally and powerfully. Since then, our district has really picked up on contacting and finding new investigators.

On Wednesday evening, Adam (Priest's quorum 1st counselor) joined us for an appointment with Austin, a kid that Elder O'Rullian found on exchanges. That fell through, so Adam went home to do homework and we went to visit Laura Savage (mentioned a few weeks ago in my email) and her boyfriend Anthony, who is not a member. They let us in right away and we talked a lot about their lives right now, Laura's conversion story, and even a quick lesson on the Restoration. Laura kept talking about how she wants to bring religion back into her family life because she knows it will do them good. They attend a non-denominational church bi-weekly, but she likes how much our church is focused on families. Anyway, they invited us back for dinner this week on Wednesday, so sweet!

Thursday was my favorite day of this week, as it was a legit day. In the morning, we conducted a mini-exchange with Thomas Lake (where we switch companions and both sets of missionaries work in the same area for a few hours -- what the zone leaders did with us on the morning of Halloween). Elder Payne and I spent the morning tracting, contacting potentials, and we even found them a new investigator! I tell you, it's so much easier to have fun working when you're with someone who wants to work. Elder Payne then asked for a blessing since he has had a hard time with his companion and has had some rough experiences while tracting recently. He wanted it to be unbeknownst to the other missionaries, so on the way back to the apartment, we found the nearest member's home we could perform the blessing in: the Robinsons! That was good for Brother Robinson to witness.

After the exchange, we had a lesson with Gilda on the Ten Commandments, which went alright. After that, we went and visited Sister Kovar, who's not active. Neither is her husband, who is a convert. She wants to come, but her oldest child is autistic and the others are young, so it would just be too much to handle alone. But she doesn't want to pressure her husband either. Unfortunately, he has issues with Joseph Smith or church members or something, and is alledgedly "pretty closed off right now." So we offered them service to hopefully soften his heart; we raked a ton of leaves for them on Saturday. Oh, the Fall (The season, that is...not that of Adam and Eve. I'm such a missionary.)!

Following that, we had scheduled some Daily Shenanigans. Whoop! Well, I felt impressed to tract out this little nook that branches off of the Kovar's cul-de-sac. Frankly, that was something I've wanted to do for a while. So we did. Well, what do you know but we find a wonderful young lady named Brooklyn who's just as prepared as can be! Her mom's whole side of the family is apparently Mormon, and she has cousins who have served missions. And guess what? She's always been curious and open to learning more, but she's never had the chance! We taught her a bit about the Book of Mormon, left her with a copy, and set a return appointment for tomorrow. Unfortunately, she's 22, so she'll be a referral for the YSA missionaries, but that's ok. I'm grateful we got to find her!

For our final event of Thursday evening, we went with Brother Paskett to visit Brother and Sister Taylor, longtime active members. Brother Taylor is the victim of some unknown brain-deteriorating disorder and has recently taken a severe downturn. He played halfback for four years at BYU, started and successfully operated two orthodontia offices and has five children and now twenty grandchildren. About five years ago, he lost the ability to type and within the last week, he's been moved to a hospital bed and can hardly move. Elder O'Rullian played the piano upstairs and I contemplated life, the resurrection, and the glorious gospel. Downstairs, Brother Paskett and his son-in-law helped Sister Taylor tend to her husband. Eventually we were invited down. We shared an inspirational message from the Book of Mormon that I just flipped open to: Mosiah 24:11-16. As we left, I couldn't help but notice one item in the room that stood out: a flag hanging high above Brother Taylor's head that read, "Don't give up the ship."

Friday was pretty good too. The Copenhavers weren't home for out appointment with them, so we visited the Smiths. When we arrived, Sister Smith informed us that Brother Smith was upstairs fixing a toilet that had overflowed. She said we could go up and offer help. Axel accompanied us. We came to the master bedroom and found Brother Smith working behind a closed door in the toilet section of the bathroom. Since Brother Smith hadn't heard us come up, I encouraged Axel to "go ask your dad if he needs help." He obeyed. "Dad! Do you need help?" came the lound, innocent inquisition. The response came as a strained groan: "No, Axel, I don't need any help!" Whoops. We showed ourselves out of the bathroom and down the stairs as quickly and quietly as we could.  Well, we're the missionaries, always here to help!

Saturday consisted of lots of service, including the Kovar's leaves. Then we had dinner with the Strouds, a part-member family. Brother Stroud, who is not a member, asked us to talk about Agency and the Fall of Adam and Eve for our post-dinner message. So we had an awesome discussion/Q&A about that. And you know what? When you really break it down, it all just makes so much sense. I love the Plan of Salvation! After dinner, we had a few more lessons with the Copenhavers and then with Tia and Tiffany about obedience and the commandments. Tia wanted to know if she could be baptized with her favorite pet bunny. After all, it's white! We lovingly explained that the baptismal ordinance is intended to be as pure as possible, as well as focus on her commitment to follow Christ.

Sunday was awesome. We had five investigators at church! That included the Christies, the Copenhavers and Jeff, with whom we did not have a lesson this week. Then we spent a lot of our afternoon at a new ward mission leader training with Brother Noll and planning out Tia's baptismal program. In the evening, we visited Justin and had another good talk with him. I think he's making a lot of progress under the radar. We'll crack him open soon enough. :p

So, the worst part of my week is this: Giovanni has been semi-missing for the past week. The last we heard from him was on Monday afternoon and his mom has only seen him once or twice very late at night. We're all very worried about him. She said that he gets this way when he's depressed and it usually lasts until he ends up in jail again. It's very uncharacteristic of the Giovanni I know. He's such a happy guy and has been extremely stalwart in the gospel since I met him. He wasn't at church yesterday. I don't know a whole lot, but I think he might be manic-depressive. We've been praying for him a lot as he is basically our best friend. Please keep him in y'all's prayers too.

I just received word that Brother Taylor passed away this morning.

Thanks for the update on the family! It sounds like everyone is doing wonderful! I'm so proud of Margo! She's doing way better than I ever did. What a hero[ine]. Seth sent me an email personally, which (sorry) was probably the highlight of my emailing experience this morning. I will respond to that in just a moment.

I love y'all!

Elder Martin

Attached are pictures of me with the Smiths and of the Snohomish valley and some mountains. I don't have the names down just yet.

[11/04/2013] Week 34: High Fructose Corn Syrup

Hey, y'all!

This ended up being really a pretty good week, somehow. In all, we taught 17 lessons to investigators and less-active members, which is a hefty number for us.

On Wednesday we had so many appointments set up! Like 7! That doesn't happen. Well, 5 of them fell through. But it's ok! Because we replaced them with other valuable teaching appointments. We got to teach Gilda, who just received her patriarchal blessing, and then we taught Tia the Ten Commandments.  She got an especial kick out of the tenth commandment as listed in Mosiah 13... But what was interesting to see was when we talked to her about sharing the gospel with
others at school, she recoiled, saying, "I won't be doing that because some people might get offended if you try to talk about religion with them." Noting as well the struggle she had understanding homosexuality and happiness that I mentioned in an earlier email, Tia, who is 8, is growing up in a very different world than even I grew up in. And I just barely graduated high school! We taught the Josh and Justin Copenhaver a lesson on faith and repentance that evening. They were tired, so we had to make it simple, brief, and to the point. I've been kind of worried recently about how we're going to prepare these children for the baptismal interview when it comes time. Justin especially has a hard time talking to people he doesn't know and remembering things on top of that. I talked to Elder Stack, one of the zone leaders, about it, and he pointed out that it's just like the interview that a bishop would have with an 8-year-old child of record. If they have the desire to be baptized, and they know the basics, the interviewer can kind of help them along.

Our Halloween was bueno. We had a mini-exchange with the zone leaders on that morning, which went well. They joined us for companionship study, and then we all spent two hours in Seattle Hill. We contacted a long uncontacted former investigator, but he was busy and told us to try back by another time (story of my life!). While walking past the Lanes' (newly moved-in family from Arizona) house, one of their youngin's poked her head out the door and inquired, "Do you guys want breakfast?!" We told her we had had breakfast, but that we'd like to share a message. Of course, we didn't leave without a few strips of bacon and a mug of hot cocoa. Members like that just brighten your day as a missionary. Afterwards, we went and visited John, the wealthy man, who was home! We talked a lot about how his work is really causing him a lot of stress; how he just wants to spend more time with his family. I did the best I could to console him with the Book of Mormon (Alma 58:10-12), and I think it was helpful for him. We had a prayer with him and set an appointment for the following afternoon to read more with him.  Elder Stack and I talked a lot about Elder O'Rullian, whose family called him again on Thursday evening. Really, he knows all the answers to the issues he's facing, but he's too bitter about it all to even give it a shot. His attitude has improved quite a bit since Halloween. He was super down then, but he's still struggling now. On Thursday, we had dinner with the Johnsons, who invited their daughter's basketball coach, Dan, over for dinner (Yeehaw for member missionary work!) and we had freshly caught salmon (yum!). Dan left with a Book of Mormon and a commission to read and pray. Sahweet. On Halloween, we had to be in our apartment by six, so we did just that. We only had like three trick-or-treaters, but we roasted marshmallows over the stove and made s'mores! Yeah!

Friday was ok. Both of our lessons we had set up with investigators fell through, but we got to teach Brother Lothyan and Nalina with Giovanni at our side. Giovanni is such a stud, I tell ya. Just a few months ago, he was not active and in jail. Now he's fully active and on the road to the Temple, joining us in as many lessons as possible.

We kicked Saturday off with a lesson with Jeff Schmidt, the football coach, at 8:30am. His schedule shifted up last-minute, but he still wanted to be sure we met, so he asked if we could meet even earlier (really good sign!). As soon as he walked in, he started talking about how baptism was really his main issue now and that was what he wanted to discuss for the thirty minutes he had available. We read with him and Brother Noll in 2nd Nephi 31 and then he was on his way. Brother Noll pointed out that this was good, because he got a short, powerful shot of scripture and then he drove to Everett, which meant sitting alone in his car with his thoughts for a few minutes. That's where the Spirit works on ya! We stopped at Burger King (I know - HFCS) for lunch. In line, I noticed a man glancing at our nametags and then away several times, saying nothing. We sat down, and then he followed, sitting across the aisle from us. Shortly thereafter, he piped up, "Can I ask you guys a question?" What followed was a long conversation with a born-again Christian about his beliefs as compared to ours. He learned quite a bit, especially that we weren't too different, he and us. Though, he had a hard time with the fact that we don't qutie believe in a "hell". Hey, man. God loves us all. All in all, he was super, super respectful of our faith, and especially of the work that we do as missionaries. Gotta love true Christians! On Saturday night, we got to see Justin again, and guess what! He watched the conference talk from President Uchtdorf! And guess what else! He committed himself to watching more conference talks on Sunday! Yeah!

Sunday was super bueno. We had four investigators at church! Tia and Tiffany came and stayed all three hours. Giovanni brought his son, Mateo (9-year-old UBC). And Jeff Schmidt came as usual. But here was the weird part. Sister Burns, Jeff Schmidt's ex-ladyfriend, came in and sat down right there next to him! And they chatted like BFF's the whole time. When we talked to Sydnee Burns, she said they were way over, which was good because that sort of told us that Jeff was investigating for himself. Man, I sound like a gossip-girl right now, but it was a huge surprise to us. He's still wanting to get a lesson set up this week, so it sounds like things are still good. After church, we taught a few more lessons to less-actives and watched the Testaments with Mateo. Good day!

Apparently my whole family is going healthy on me. Working out, drinking skim milk, and shunning high-fructose corn syrup. Meanwhile, I'm getting fed huge member dinners plus dessert every night and driving around in a car all day. Sheesh. Sorry if I'm fat when I get home.

I'm glad to hear y'all are doing well. I keep praying for everyone, especially Seth and Christian. I can't believe Margo is doing so well! I'm so proud!


Elder Martin

The picture is of me with a minecraft thing on my head that our ward mission leader's wife made for his son for Halloween.

I really feel like my English/writing skills have degraded since I've left on my mission. Bleh.