Monday, 16 December 2013

Training for the First Time!

Monday 18th of November, 2013

Sam is training a greenie! His name is Elder Calderwood from Juneau Alaska who is really easy to get along with. This week they've been learning how to teach the Restoration, and how to begin teaching. He took Elder Calderwood tracting and they both enjoyed it, even though it wasn't very successful! Their goal is to tract out the area, if they tract 2 hours a day they should be able to get it done before Sam gets transferred.

They got to go to the temple on Wednesday and Sam got to see Elder Ballard (his previous companion, not the Apostle) and the Ropers from his last ward. It was a really uplifting experience for him and he learns something new every time he goes! He can't wait until the next time he goes (in 3 months though).

They also got to go to their wards chilli cook-off, they were judges so they got to eat 7 helpings of chilli, some of it was good, most of it just tasted like chilli. The best in Sams opinion was the Freeman's (one of his favourite families to visit), it had taco seasoning in it, which made it different from the rest.

There were some non-members there who they got to talk to, and a less active lady they have been working with came to it as well. They received a referral from one of the members as well, so they'll be following up on that this week.

On Saturday was the day of service from 8am - 4pm, they helped make toy aeroplanes and cars for children, Sam used a loom and made two hats, it took over two hours just to make the hats but it was worth it. He stuffed some 'hugs' which is like a pillow with hands, and for the majority of the time he helped with some yard-work, there were a lot of people there, with chain saws, diggers, and other tools and they cleared a lot of trees from 'boys town', a place for troubled children.

They just got a new investigator last night, Preston Keeler invited one of his friends to church, and gave him a Book of Mormon and a Restoration pamphlet. They had dinner at their house that night and talked to Ryan about the Book of Mormon and why he was interested in the church. He wants to learn more so they're hoping to meet with him again next week :)

Saturday, 14 December 2013

Photo Update from P-Day

Tuesday 29th of October, 2013

This blog post is more of a photo update. 

Today they went hiking up Mount Charleston for their P-Day activity, it was 30F with really strong winds so it was FREEZING, he was so glad he decided to bring the winter coat or it would have been miserable. There were actually frozen waterfalls up there.

So on the way back down the mountain there were a lot of switchbacks, Elder Hartsock decided to take a shortcut, however he built up too much speed, lost his grip and tumbled down the rocks and came to a stop on a well placed boulder. He could barely walk and it took him about another hour longer to get down from the mountain than everybody else. They went to see the mission medical person who advised he needs to rest for a few days. 

Mount Charleston

Sam taking selfies with the view of the mountains and also in a cave!

Elder Bloomfield

Last week they got a chance to carve some pumpkins with the Zerkle Family. Sam made Tux the penguin. He also made one which looked like it had been shot in the head, and he made a big exit wound at the back with all the insides of the pumpkin.

Elder Hartsock and Sam with their finished pumpkins

General Conference

Monday 14th of October, 2013

Sam is enjoying his new area still and had a good week this week. They assembled a back stretcher where they live, so you pretty much clamp your feet in and you hang upside down, apparently its fun and pretty relaxing, they just have to make sure they don't black out!

Sam loved General Conference! It's the first time he has watched all ten hours! All the missionaries enjoyed it when Elder Bednar called non-tithe payers to repentance! Sam loved Elder Hollands talk, one of the people they are working with is suffering from depression, so they are hoping that talk helped her.

Sam was surprised at the statistics about how society is changing, a lot less people are getting married, a lot less people are having children, he has been reading through second Nephi and these are the times Isaiah was prophesying about!

All he needs right now is a jumper, it's still around 60-65°F here, and it's colder than usual for this time of the year, the weather is really nice right now.

He was glad to hear his sisters baby is healthy, he really thought it would be a boy, but it is a girl so it was a surprise for him! He loved seeing the scan photos :)

Today he is going to be playing american football, he doesn't really know how the game works but he has a bit of an idea so hopefully it will go well for him!

The place where he is staying in Las Vegas, NV, is really nice, and the Astle's are really nice people as well! She got him a tie for his 21st birthday and it was a really nice one. He has also learned the Eldredge knot.

There's a community they call the 'dog pound', because all the names of the streets are types of dog, like Saint Bernard St, Springer Spaniel St etc..

Every Wednesday they do service at a care centre for old people, they call bingo for them, Sam got to do it this week and it was really fun for him! They have different types of games like "layered cake" and "postage stamp". Then there's one old lady who might be a bit senile who keeps calling bingo every few minutes :P

Sam can play most of The Entertainer on the piano now! He is going to start learning to play If You Could Hie To Kolob next :)

Oh, and one of his investigators in the last area, Daniel, has been set with a baptismal date, so he should hopefully be attending his baptism on October 19th!

Quick Update

Monday 30th of September, 2013

This week has been a busy week, they taught 30 lessons, they were all short messages with a commitment to either read, pray or go to church. Sam likes the members in this area, they all live close by since the area is small, so they can visit them often.
He received the other packages with his birthday gifts and he loves the missionary penguin :)  It's always exciting for him to receive packages! 

There's not a whole lot to report this week, they've been really busy, Sam got ill on Saturday because one of their investigators (an old lady named Terri) fed them some sort of out of date pie and he felt ill the whole day.

A member showed them around his house, it's completely off the grid, he has no utility bills, he has his own well for water, which is also used for heating/AC and solar panels and wind turbines for electricity. They are going to his again on Saturday to watch conference, and chop wood between sessions.

Sam has been practicing the piano and he is getting better at playing the entertainer, the Astles (the people who they're living with) also got him some guitar strings for the guitar for his birthday, so he is going to try and learn to play Rylynn by Andy McKee.

First Transfer

Tuesday 24th of September, 2013

Sam got transferred! He is now in the Tule Springs Zone, in the Deer Springs ward, his companion is Elder Hartsock, he's 6' 8" and plays for BYU basketball.

Sam received all the parcels from everyone!  He thanks everyone so much, he really appreciated everyone taking the time to put the packages together! Sam and Elder Hartsock are going to have a lot more stuff to do now!

They are living with members now, who have a really nice home, they have their own bedroom, bathroom and study room. Pretty much everything is provided for them in this new place, they even said they can practice the piano whenever they want, so hopefully he will get the entertainer down soon!

The Granthams from Sam's last ward gave him a guitar as they had an exchange student leave it there and it's been gathering dust, so they wanted Sam to make use of it :)

Sam had no idea what the bug was that went around, but members are still getting ill. He just ended up getting bad headaches, no appetite and feeling really ill, he managed to sleep it off in a few hours though.

They went for another hike yesterday, they managed to get pretty high up on the mountains, the views were amazing. Sam got cut up quite a bit since the rocks were really sharp, but overall it lasted 5 hours and he loved it.

Sam thinks its really weird seeing his sister Maghan the size she is! He thinks its great to see the photos of her bump getting slowly bigger.

The weather has been a lot cooler lately, it was 70°F in the morning with a bit of wind chill and he was actually shivering! He has adjusted to the heat over there really well!

Also, good news about the ward Sam is in now, Elder Hartsock told him that they have been getting the highest number of lessons in the zone for nearly 3 months now, they are averaging about 18 lessons per week, and that is without the lessons to active members. The zone weekly total is just over 20 lessons, so they were pretty much making the majority of the lessons for the zone! So it should be fun here for him, the area is small but there's a lot of work to do. Elder Ballard is now training, so it should hopefully be a good experience for him.

Sister Sudweeks from the mission office talked to Sam the other day and wants him to help out with the mission blog, so he will hopefully be doing that soon!

Also, on Sam's last lesson with Sean and Amy, Sean spent 1 hour showing him all his rifles and hand guns after the lesson. He had dud bullets so he learned how to load the guns and eject the bullets. He had laser sights and everything, he put over $2000 into modding one of his guns. He also gave him a hollowpoint bullet which he has been carrying around, unfortunately he wont be able to bring it home with him, but it's a nice reminder of the Thomason family!

Friday, 13 December 2013

Birthday Packages

Monday 16th of September, 2013
Sam received his 21st birthday packages! The Joseph Smith Papers, The Holy Temple and the Statesmen CD. He was so grateful to receive them! They've given him some variety which he really needed being in the same small area for so long! The JS Papers book is a lot bigger than he thought, it's set out really well, it has the manuscript on the left page, then the transcription on the right page, he thinks its great being able to read the original manuscript! He has also been reading the Holy Temple, and read nearly half already, however he is going to re-read the chapter about Elijah, since there is a lot of information in there and he doesn't feel like he understood it all. There were a few new tracks on the Statesmen CD, Elder Ballard was really happy that there was an organ solo in one of them, because he's obsessed with the organ!
They had a really spiritual and uplifting evening last night. The ward mission leader (Brother Doug Coburn) organised a missionary fireside where members could invite friends. Their investigator Sheila showed up, and she really enjoyed it. Sam spoke for 2-3 minutes, he had to try and fit in the story of Joseph Smith, the first vision and his testimony within that time, somehow he managed! Their most recent convert, Amy Thomason, also shared her testimony which was great! Elder Ballard sang without a microphone as he can project his voice really well and he is a good singer!
The other three investigators, Karla and her two sisters, showed up to church again this week, they seem to be really enjoying it, they will hopefully be able to set them with a baptismal date soon!

Daniel, the 16 year old who they tracted into, hasn't been coming out to church, however he was visited by some of the young men, so now he knows some people in the church other than the missionaries!
Finally, Curt, who is probably their most receptive investigator, finally got back from his training this week, so they should hopefully be able to start working with him again.
Some bad news, there's been some sort of sickness going around their ward, and around the schools in the area, and Sam and Elder Ballard have caught it, so they're probably just going to spend today recovering so they can get back to work tomorrow. He swears every member they visited this week was ill, so it was only a matter of time before they caught it!
Sam keeps forgetting to take the photo of his gender guess for his sisters baby, so he placed his guess now and then will take a photo later. His gut feeling is that it's a boy, but he doesn't know why, that's just his guess! He is going to find a creative way of putting that into a photograph.
Sam nearly forgot to tell us all the most exciting thing that happened all last week! On Tuesday in the conference with Elder Anderson from the Quorum of the 12, he asked to shake everyone's hand, so he got to shake hands with an Apostle for the first time! He also got to shake hands with Elder Callister, on the Presidency of the 70. He remembers which tie he wore when he shook their hands, so Sam wants to keep it forever!
A special thank you again for the birthday packages Sam received as he is really grateful for them!

Hard Work = Success

Monday 9th of September, 2013
So this week has been a good week! They Invited their investigator to church (Karla Lopez), and she showed up with her two sisters who are also interested and each want a copy of the Book of Mormon. So they now have 1 progressing investigator, 2 new investigators, and 3 other investigators, bringing them up to 6 investigators so far! It's a shame Sam will be leaving soon, however he is ready to leave as he pretty much knows every person on the ward directory and where they live. It's so hard for him to keep working since the area is so small.
They tried a new way of planning, and this week is packed with things to do, Elder Ballard wrote up a member-lesson calendar, which they passed around, they should hopefully be teaching 20 lessons this week which will be great!
This morning they drove out to the ravines in the middle of nowhere, and had an airsoft war which was fun, they have some cuts and bruises from it, but it was a really fun 2 hours for them.
Sam tried the Spartacus workout, and nearly made himself ill, that workout is insane, there's a reason you're only supposed to do it 3 days a week! 20 minutes and he was drenched in sweat, it's supposed to be really good for losing weight as well, he has gained a few pounds being there so that should be good.
He is also really looking forward to their Apostolic visit tomorrow, he is hoping they will announce when they will be getting iPads! Sam thinks its great being able to see photos from back home, he loves being able to see what's been happening! 

Hiking in the Mountains

Wednesday 4th of September, 2013

Yesterday Sam and his companion and the other set of Elders they live with, decided to go hiking. They left the apartment at 7am and hiked for nearly 3 hours, Sam thought it was really fun, it was just a straight walk north towards the mountains, everything around them was just dead or dying. 

They saw a lot of cacti. Elder John got jabbed by a jumping cactus, he said only about 1cm of the spine was sticking out of his leg, but when he pulled it out it was nearly 2 inches long! 

They found different spots where people go shooting and Sam found a couple of rifle bullet casings.

There's a huge city, then just nothing for miles.

Sam and Elder Ballard are getting on well together, the big challenge is just finding work to do. Their area is broken up into 10 smaller areas, and they usually focus on 2 of those areas each day, looking for less actives, or tracting to try and find new investigators. However they have gone over the less active list so many times that they now only have about 7 people who they can visit, the rest are either DNC (do not contact), have moved, or are never home when they try and visit them. They do have four investigators however, it's just meeting regularly with them that is the challenge.
They also have plenty of food. Members feed them every night, and one of the members (David Dorr) brings them big boxes of food every couple of months. 
They haven't had any more freaky weather, but it's starting to heat up again, it's going to be in the 100's and sometimes after the rain it gets really humid as well, and it's pretty tough for them to keep walking around, but the hot weather should be over by October/November time :) Then it will be nice, in the 80's and 90's.

Also, random story for today, the mission President showed up to their district meeting, and for one of the role plays Sam had to pretend to be a lady crying at a bus stop, and two of the Elders had to try and place a Book of Mormon with him. Sam found it pretty funny.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Rain, Rain, GO AWAY!

Monday 26th of August, 2013
So not too much has happened since Thursday, they had a storm yesterday, and apparently there was a lot more rain than usual. Outside the streets had turned into rivers and on one road an entire lane was under water. When they arrived back at their apartment complex, all the rocks had been washed out into the street.

The week has been disappointing in terms of lessons taught, they only got 10 lessons, 6 of which were with active members, 3 with less actives and recent converts, and 1 with an eternigator (an investigator who they will be teaching forever).

Sam finished reading the Book of Mormon and now started the New Testament now. The scripture memorisation is going pretty well as he has nearly up to 20 scriptures memorised now.

Elder John (another missionary who lives with Sam and his companion) knows the piano really well, he started teaching him to play the maple leaf rag, but decided to switch to 'The Entertainer', so hopefully he will be able to learn to play it before he gets transferred! The other Elder who he is training is Elder Von Axelson. 

A lot of people are moving out of the ward, so Sam and his companion have been put in charge of trying to find forwarding addresses for the people who have moved and not updated their contact information. Luckily it's given them something to do, because there is very little work for them to do. They started with a huge less active list, however they have been working on it for 5 months now, so there is barely anyone left on the list who they can visit.

Sam has been reading a really good book called 'How to win friends and influence people', he thinks everybody can gain something from reading it, it's definitely going to make it easier for him to get along with companions in the future.

They are trying to think of things to do other than tracting as it's really ineffective, and since there has been news going around about two robbers who dressed up as missionaries and burgled some people, they haven't been having any sort of success tracting. They are getting visited by an Apostle on 10th September so hopefully they will announce when they will be using social media, that will be a much better use of their time than going door to door. Sam really can't wait to get transferred, as he just needs a change, it's not very often that people stay in 1 area for 6 months.

To end on a happy note, here is a picture of a happy car Sam found.

Monday, 2 December 2013

The Door & The Dog

Thursday, 22nd of August 2013

It's temple day today so they changed P-Day from Monday to Thursday this week. The temple was a great experience for Sam as the spirit is really strong and each time he goes he learns a lot.

Sam was emailing from an office on a golf course today, as the bishop from the San Destin ward took them to the temple, then he took them out to lunch at a place on the golf course, and now he's letting them use the computers there.

Transfers were interesting, Sam threw up in the car park at the stake centre, but then he felt fine immediately afterwards, he doesn't know if it was anxiety, but he has been fine since then. Sam and Elder Ballard get along well, serving together has been really fun and they learn a lot from each other. He is senior companion, however Sam is the only person who knows the members and the area, so he is pretty much just taking the lead for now.

They had an interesting experience on Tuesday, they were tracting and Sam knocked on a door and was talking to a lady who was trying to hold a dog back, it managed to break free of her grip and jumped up on Elder Ballard and started barking in his face. Elder Ballard turned and started running as fast as he could, the dog kept chasing him and he slipped and fell on the road, luckily the dog stopped chasing him after he fell, but his white shirt got covered in the oil from the road and his hands were black as well. After this whole episode Sam just turn to the lady and say "yeah.... and.... we're sharing a message about Jesus Christ", he was trying so hard not to laugh. She must have apologised 20 times to us.

As they walked away from her door, one of the members (Kenny Thomason) asked if they were okay, they told him that they were, and he said "I was about to shoot that thing" and pulled a pistol out of his shorts. Sam kept having to stop himself from cracking up during the whole day, every time he was thinking about it he just wanted to laugh :P

Sam's scripture memorising is going well, he knows around 20 scriptures now, along with some other things he decided to memorise from other books. He is hoping he can keep it up for the rest of his mission!

They might be close to stopping tracting in the mission, because some people dressed up as missionaries somewhere in Nevada and robbed somebody, now it's all over the news so people aren't really wanting to answer the door. They are being visited by Elder Neil L. Anderson, and another general authority, the east and west missions will be combining so they can meet them for a conference. Hopefully they will find out when they will be using tablet computers and facebook.

Fellowship is important for new and potential investigators, it makes the missionaries jobs so much easier when they have people they know at church which make them feel comfortable.

There is still a fair bit of work, but since he is coming up on 5 months in the same area, it's hard for him to stay focused, since he pretty much has the ward directory memorised, he knows whether a member is going to answer the door to them or not before they even get there. There are some people who they can just not track down.