North Carolina Charlotte Mission

Behold, O Lord, their souls are precious, and many of them are your brethren; therefore, give unto us, O Lord, power and wisdom that we may bring these, our brethren, again unto thee. -Alma 31:35

Monday, September 24, 2012

"Some days you just can't get rid of a BoM" -Elder Batman

This seemed like the longest week ever. Really great week, but super long for some reason. Time is relative, so if you're moving fast, it seems to pass by slowly, and we've certainly been going quickly this week.

Well, one transfer is almost over. Hard to believe it's almost been six weeks already. I'm staying in Dobson, which makes me really happy; it is so beautiful here, and the branch is just amazing. Saturday Elder Molina got called to be the new District Leader, so he gets that responsibility along with being my trainer. This means that I get to be super supportive for the next little while.

Some highlights of the week:
1) Giving a discussion with a python around my neck. (Too bad we weren't teaching the Plan of Salvation, he would've been a great visual aid for the Fall of Adam.)
2) Getting chased by a dog for the first time while riding on bikes
3) The mission president stopping by our apartment yesterday while we weren't home and seeing that it was clean. Score!
4) I HAVE A WORKING BIKE! One of our Hispanic members leant me his. Which means that when I ride it, I look a bit like the triceratops from "We're Back!" when he's on the motorcycle. But it doesn't have a cursed front tire, so all is well in Zion.

The real biggest highlight of the week was Lena, one of our investigators. She's been going to the hospital a lot, so we gave her a priesthood blessing this week to give her the strength to come to church. And she did! I was so happy. I was so happy, in fact, that I probably scared some of the brethren. But Lena is the first time that someone I have found--not an investigator Elder Molina had before--has come to church.

I had prayed so hard that there would be good speakers, and there were. A sister in our branch gave a beautiful talk on how the Atonement works and how it helped her accept the death of her mother, which really struck a cord with Lena. She wants to come back, which means that she's well on her way to her baptismal date. I am so excited for her. Now we just have to teach her tithing and the Word of Wisdom. That should be fun...

Now as for Dorothy, the lady the Spirit led us to last Sunday. We stopped by to see her, but since we couldn't get a member to come with us, we couldn't go in. Her granddaughter Annsley wasn't home, but Dorothy told us that Annsley wanted to know where our church was, so she could go to it. Fist-pump!

In short, this week was a great example of how you can still have an awesome week and get a ton of work done even if 95% of your appointments don't show up. The Lord really is guiding us, and I've been learning a lot from Elder Molina when it comes to following the Spirit.

I'm running out of time, so I have to head off. I sure love you all, and I'm still praying! And I hope that David and Amy will have something to tell me soon! :)

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Excerpt from Danny's letter to Browns

Last week, Danny sent off a letter to his sister, Laura, down in Dallas. It was full of wonderful stuff, but here is something that she liked in particular : )

        "You know, a mission is SO worth it. I'm so glad I went. Now is my chance to just put everything aside and give it all to the Lord, to dedicate all my time and talents to Him, as I promised to in the temple. I want to work hard and get tired each day, so I can look back without regrets when it's time to go home.
        In a way, a mission is kind of like our mortal life summed up in two years. It was hard to go and leave our family, but we have a work to do, and we need to do our best. We won't be able to see them, but they'll be rooting for us the entire time. Eventually, we'll reach the end, and we won't want to leave, but we will anyways. And bigger and better things await. That's Heavenly Father's plan: always going up, always getting better."

What a gem!

Monday, September 17, 2012

"Alas, Earwax" - 9/17/12

I've gotten a bit concerned that my letters are a bit too large, so I'm cutting it down this time.

"And there was much rejoicing. Yaaaay."

A couple of highlights from this week:
1. This week was the first time that somebody threatened to sic his dog on me if we didn't get off his property. Not that we were concerned; Elder Molina and I were pretty certain that the "dog" was just him shaking the door with a fuzzy black slipper. It still made my day.
2. I met my first Jehovah's Witness while on the mission. That was an interesting experience.
3. This week we had Zone Conference, which was amazing. Two zones met together to receive training from President and Sister Craven, as well as from the Assistants. The biggest highlight of this story was President Bonn, a stake president in our area who came to speak. He said he served in Korea, around 82-83, I believe, under a President Pock (that's what it sounded like.) Did Uncle Boyd ever know an Elder Bonn in his mission? Might be fun to find out; President Bonn wanted me to ask.
4. By far the coolest story from this week happened just yesterday, this Sunday. We were going to go give a do-or-die visit to an investigator who had not been keeping her commitments. Before we left the apartment, we knelt down and prayed, asking Heavenly Father to guide us to people we needed to meet through the Holy Ghost. We went, showed up, talked to her, and she did not want to continue investigating. 

We thus went to go find some more people to teach. Instead of knocking on the apartment doors around her house, though, Elder Molina felt that we needed to go elsewhere. We hopped in the car and started going who knows where. At one point, he reached a stop sign, and he had no idea where to go. He felt he should go right, which would take us to one of our potential investigators. When he got to the house, though, he was prompted to keep going. Every time he slowed down to stop, he felt that he should keep going. Finally he felt that he needed to stop at a certain house, and we got out and started finding. After half an hour and some doors later, we had had no success. The people in that area were fairly well off and fairly happy where they were.

I thought, "We're wasting our time here. We should go find somewhere else."

And then the thought came into my head, "Don't give up yet; keep going."

So I kept my mouth shut and kept walking. About three houses later, we knocked on the door, and an old lady answered it. She said, "Are you Mormons?" and we said yes. She said, "Thirty years ago, when I lost my 7-year old daughter to leukemia, two Mormon missionaries came and comforted me. They biked to my house every single week to come and help me in the hardest time of my life. I will never forget what they did for me."

Her name was Dorothy, and she invited us in. We couldn't at the time--there wasn't a man in the house, so we needed a member to come with--but we came back two hours later. We got to teach her and her granddaughter Anley, who was VERY excited to meet the missionaries. It was a wonderful first lesson. We talked about the Restoration and the Plan of Salvation, and they committed to everything. We have very high hopes for them.

It just hit me then that the Lord answered our prayer. I have no doubt that He was guiding us that day; guiding Elder Molina and guiding me. It also hit me that those two missionaries 30 years ago didn't convert Dorothy, but their service left such a powerful impression that she was opened to us now. We don't know what the plan is, but the Lord does. He is so in control of everything.

This leads me back to our experience with President Bonn. When he spoke to us, he started off by quoting a line from The Dish. I thought our family was the only people in the world who'd seen that movie. I certainly was the only other person in the room. Regardless, for those of you out there who have never seen or heard of The Dish, it's about a group of Australians who ran the satellite dish that picked up the Apollo 11 mission. It was a small but crucial job. At one part of the movie, when the Moon landing is being broadcast around the world, one of the workers says, "I can't believe that I'm a part of this."

That just hits me. I see miracles all the time. This truly is the Lord's work, and as He told us, His work is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. That is what I am doing, and I can't believe that I'm a part of this. I can't believe the Lord has let me join in His great work.

The gospel blesses lives. The Church is true. Jesus Christ died, and He did live again. Dorothy will be able to see her daughter again, because He lives. I know this.

I love you all. I am so glad to be here. I pray for you always.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

Monday, September 10, 2012

It's a Liplorodon, Charlie. A magical Liplorodon. 9/10/12

Man, what a fun week. We've dealt with grace, works, and even the Unknown Tongue. And to think everyone says we're crazy when we tell them about the Apostasy.

Yeah, we bumped into an older lady this week who just fired a gauntlet of questions at us about what we believe, finally asking us, "Do you believe in the Gift of Tongues?" By tongue, though, she meant the "Unknown Tongue." Some churches apparently believe that when you're REALLY feeling the Spirit, you start babbling like a Magical Liplorodon.

(Granted, I've heard some testimonies that sounded a lot like babbling, but still.)

So we said no, the Spirit always talks to us in a form we'll understand. To which she curtly replied, "Well, good day to you then." Nevermind that we'd agreed with her views on the last 20 questions. If I'd wanted to be a punk I could've quoted to her what Paul's opinion was on this "Unknown Tongue" nonsense.

The second story was a lady named May who had us sit out on her lawn chairs and apparently rehearsed her Thursday night Bible Study lesson on us. It was really funny, in a way. We told her that plain and precious truths had been lost in the Bible, and she didn't believe us, yet she was holding in her hand one of those non-King James versions where people went in and changed what they didn't like. She told us to seek truth, but blatantly refused when we gave her the same challenge and invited her to read the Book of Mormon. Sigh.

I start out with those two stories because they really hit home to me just how important the Book of Mormon is. We definitely use the Bible, but people have to read the Book of Mormon or they won't progress. So many people say the Bible is the source of all truth, but apparently  it wasn't clear enough. We got hundreds of Christian denominations, many of them polar opposites in what they believe, and they all use the Bible.  We can't use the Bible to convert Bible people; we've got to get them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon.

I was told a few years ago that if someone won't read the Book of Mormon and pray about it, they're wasting your time; they aren't going to get converted. And it's completely true. The Church has some pretty big claims--restored authority, a living prophet, continued revelation from God--and the only way people can come to know they are all true is by reading the Book of Mormon and praying about it.

It seriously works, every time. I love how Dad put it in his recent letter to me: It's 500+ pages of scripture, and there's no way ANYONE could write it, good or evil. It is extremely obvious the very second you start reading it that it is from God.

So, in short, we use the Book of Mormon a lot out here. I find Gordon's approach is still one of the best: "This is what we believe, this is why, and if you want to find out if it's true, read and pray about this book."

But as for our investigators:

Lena, the cool older black lady, had been out of contact with us, so we went to go visit her. Apparently the poor woman's been having to have a lot of surgeries this past week and will be having more this week. Hernias; not fun. But she still wants to be baptized and still wants to come to church.

Most of our stories this week involve young men.

We bumped into a house full of college guys a few weeks ago, and this week we taught  one of them, a baseball player named Vance. When we showed up at his door, he said, "Oh, it's you. Let me take this out," and went and threw away his tobacco. He pulled us into a quiet room and listened respectfully as we taught him. When we asked him to pray at the end, he said, "These guys have asked me to ask You if it's true, and...I want it to be true." Awesome. Pure awesome. Though we learned afterward that he doesn't know how to man hug. We're going to try and visit him tonight.

While we were going to go visit Adrian during this past week, we were stopped by a young man on a scooter. His name was Greg, and he asked us about the church, so we talked to him and gave him a pamphlet. We set up an appointment with him for Wednesday, which he didn't keep, but then he called US Thursday night and asked, "Hey, where could I get a Book of Mormon?" So we set up an appointment with him on Saturday at the church. He made it to this one, and we taught him the first discussion and showed him around. He accepted baptism and called us later in the day to talk about the Book of Mormon. I hope he stays receptive; he's apparently homeless.

The third young man of the week was Jordan. We went to go visit Jack Johnson, one of our investigators, but he was mowing the lawn. We met his grandson Jordan, though. He had met with missionaries when he'd lived in Tennessee and had been given a Book of Mormon, which he'd read a little of. We set up an appointment and gave him a pamphlet, but then Grandpa Jack showed up. He invited us for a few minutes in to get something to drink, but he said he didn't have time to talk and neither did Jordan.

As we came in, Jordan plopped onto the couch and just started riffling through that pamphlet like nobody's business. I saw this, and I just jumped into the first discussion. As he had to leave, we made it fast, but he listened very well, said the closing prayer, and accepted the baptismal invite. We'll see how things go tomorrow when we meet him at the church building.

We also have some promising Spanish investigators. Elder Molina refers to himself as a "zebra", as he has been in both English and Spanish-speaking areas. We've met some promising Spanish investigators this last week, so we'll see where that goes.

I mentioned in my last email that we had quite the rainstorm this past week. Part of my quad got wet, so on Sunday I got to go through the whole thing, unsticking every single page. I found a lot of my markings from my Old Testament read through a few years page, so I've got some fun ones here. For those of you who looked up the scripture last week, D&C 38:28 was a Harry Potter reference. With that in mind:

Isaiah 1:14 - Apparently, even Heavenly Father grows weary of Twilight.
Ezekiel 35:6 - For you Star Wars fans out there.
Jeremiah 51:20 - Possibly my new favorite scripture. I'm trying to get
Elder Molina to let it be our companionship motto.

And another fun Baptist sign:
"Repent now. Beat the Judgment Day rush."

Well, I'm running out of time on the computer. Elder Molina and I are working very hard out here, and I'm improving every day.

I am SO THANKFUL for all the letters I've gotten, and most importantly, the PICTURES! Oh man, I love pictures. I've needed them. I was feeling really loved that day.

I'm going to do my best today to write responses to everyone. I sure love you all, and I really appreciate the time you spend to write me.

The Book of Mormon is the word of God. It's true. It is completely true. Moroni lugged those plates around for twenty years, braving hardship and Lamanites, so that he could bury them up, all because he knew that those plates would be needed. Just look at how many millions of people came to the knowledge of their Redeemer because of that precious record.

The Book of Mormon is true. It testifies of Christ, and Christ lives. That is why I am out here, spreading His Word, building up His Church.

I love you all. Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

We searched HIGH... and LOW... over FIELDS... and STREAMS... 9/4/12

Wow. What an amazing week! I've learned a lot of big lessons and had some amazing experiences. I'm sorry that this is getting out a day late, but the library was closed on Labor Day.

I want to thank you, Mom and Dad, for your awesome letters, and thanks for the CD. Joy and Joey, thank you so much for you great letters. I think it's so cool that you got to do TRC! Who in your family was there? And Adam, that was an AWESOME picture! I am so impressed with your drawing! And Justin, your letter made my day. I'll write to you all soon!

Mom, I've sent one to you, so hopefully it will get there soon. I hope one stamp will be enough...I've included one of my camera's memory cards, along with some picture descriptions, so enjoy!

First off, the Baptist's "What To Say When the Mormons Come Knocking" course:

1) You woke up my little one, I'm sorry
2) I'm headed off to work right now, sorry
3) Oh, I have something on the stove, gotta go
4) I'm naked right now. (This last one works a TON better if the Mormons can't actually see your shirt while you say it.)

Elder Molina and I actually think it's tons of fun to see what they come up with next. It's only the Baptists who do it, too.
But it's also fun to see the clever signs that they have in front of their churches (and there are a LOT of churches here:)
1. "Ch__ch: What's missing?"
2. "A bad day at work is better than a good day in Hell"
3. "If you find yourself farther away from God, guess who moved?"

Anyway, I've got some fun stuff for you this week.

I've never read the Doctrine and Covenants all the way through, so I've been doing that in my personal study time. For all you readers out there, look up D&C 38:28. It will blow your mind out through your ears. I'll let you figure out why it blew mine...

The Bike Miracle

This last week we had to give up the car to the Mount Airy Elders; we'll be getting it back tomorrow. Last Tuesday we went to go finding on bikes. I go to look at my bike, and lo! the same front tire had gone flat. Those punks at the bike store evidently didn't fix it. I was severely irked. Mom, you might want to tell them that they didn't solve the problem. Man, I am so fed up with that bike; it's a tribute to how much I love biking to have been willing to put up with that thing for four years.

Well, we had to go walking instead, which completely changed the area we went to. As we were knocking on one of the last doors on one particular street, it opened up and an older lady was there. She said, "Oh! Come on in! We love you people! My husband used to be a member of your church!" We thus met the Houff couple, John and Donna. Donna is a Baptist, but John is a former member - he joined the church after about 10 years of investigating as a young man, and baptized his kids; Donna's his second wife - and we never would have met them had I not had a flat. We've met with them twice already. They LOVE missionaries, and apparently John still has a testimony of the church...bit of a mystery there, but we're visiting them tomorrow with the Branch President. If we can get him to read the Book of Mormon, we're golden.

But here's the amazing thing. When I first got my bike four years ago, it had some front tire problems. For years, I've been taking it to different bike stores to get that front tire fixed: they've patched it up, put in sealant, gotten new tubes, new tires, everything. Nothing worked. Before my mission, we took it to yet another bike store to get it fixed up before it got shipped to North Carolina, and the employees there said they'd find the problem and solve it. Yet, here I went to ride it and the same tire had gone flat. Because it was flat, we went finding close by, and found the Houffs.

I just think it's so incredible to see just how much in control of things Heavenly Father is. How could I have know, when I got my bike four years ago, that its front tire would be cursed and always go flat? How could I have known that, because nobody could ever fix it, that that front tire would lead us to the Houffs? It's so amazing that this meeting with a man who needs the gospel was set in motion four years in advance. Heavenly Father is amazing.


We were out tracting on Thursday, and we'd gone all the way up and down a massive street. We were on our way home, and there were two more houses on the side that we had missed. Elder Molina had wanted to keep going, but I said, "No, let's go see." the first house was an older lady, and she wasn't interested. But BEHIND the house, we saw a trailer, with a man sitting in front of it.

That man was Donny, the most profane, disgusting, and Satan-grasped man I have ever seen. He was just sitting on his porch, drinking beer, smoking cigarettes and marijuana, and watching the world go by. He drank at least two while we were there, smoked two cigarettes and one joint; he nicely offered us some marijuana, but we had to decline. But once he finished one thing, he'd move on to another. He had the most terrible language I'd ever seen. Basically, Donny said that this life was hell, that God was screwing with us, and specifically him. He said that God had taken all his family members - his dad, mom, brothers, aunts, nephews - and all on his birthday, too. (What a coincidence.)

I have never met a man so confused. He was literally so confused, and so high, that he could not even answer the question "Do you want to be happy?" He couldn't even say yes or no. He told us that God had told him often to shape up and take care of his grandkids, but he'd ignored Him. He's just perfectly happy to sit on his porch and be high, all day long. We essentially cried repentance to this man, using the most powerful language we could, and told him that he needed to shape up. He's 42, and at this rate, he's not going to make it past 43. He was just so stoned/high/drunk/everything that he could not listen to anything.

I do not think it was an accident that we met Donny. Apparently Heavenly Father has tried talking to him, and he won't listen, so we were led to him. I was hit with the same conclusion that Mr. Krueger reached: "You love him just as much as you love me." Donny is one of His children; Heavenly Father wants him to be happy, and boy oh boy, Donny is NOT happy. It's important for me to realize that everyone I meet is a Child of God, a precious soul.

We've got a couple of new investigators, like Adrian, a guy who looks and sounds a bit like Will Smith who we've taught twice, and Greg, a young man who approached US on the street and taught to us about the church's stance on homosexuality. Interesting, but we're going to go teach him tomorrow, and we'll see what happens.

Sunday I experienced my first North Carolina storm. It was a big one, and quite the experience. I've never seen rain so thick I couldn't see. It was a lot of fun!

Anyway, the work goes on. I love you all. The Gospel is true. I can see Heavenly Father's hand everywhere I go. Joseph Smith was a prophet, called to restore Christ's church. thomas S. Monson is our prophet today. The Book of Mormon is true.

Hurrah for Israel!

Elder Fisher

They WANT you to eat the rolls! 8/28/12

Week 4

It has come to my knowledge that I mispelled the word "tobakka" in my last email. The proper spelling is "tuhbakka". I wish to apologize for this error.

And now, hello from North Carolina!

The members here have been feeding us EXTREMELY well. No, really. They've fed us really, really, really well. It seems like this area was specifically designed to give missionaries exactly the kind of food that they would like. And make them extremely fat. I've been taking it easy - and taking Zach's advice about what to eat for breakfast and lunch - but not too much at dinner, since it seems like a crime not to take seconds from these people. Or thirds. Or fourths.

Another thing about North Carolinians: they love canning stuff. I heard it said that they eat what they can, and can what they can't. It's entirely true.

NOW, as for the work. A couple of fun stories and thoughts.

We have an Elder Schauerhammer in our mission. Guess it IS a real name. I've resisted the urge to quote John Bytheway.  (in one of his comedy routines, john bytheway - who gets teased alot about his name - makes fun of a guy named schauerhammer)

Lena, the old black lady we taught on Saturday, is really progressing. Her faith is so strong. She has read a lot of the Book of Mormon (she was at Mosiah 13 last we checked) and we got her to say the prayer at the end of our second discussion. And boy, was it a beautiful prayer. We've taught her three times, calling in to check on her often, and we've set a date for September 22nd which she seems determined to keep. Awesome!

We also taught a discussion to Cole, a 13-year old boy living with his member aunt. We taught him the first discussion and gave him the Book of Mormon, and asked him to read and pray about it. He tried to pull a Baptist on us: "You know, I sure appreciate what you all do, but I'm a Baptist, and I go to [insert church here] and I'm happy with what I believe." Elder Molina and I almost laughed; we've gotten that one from experts, so we kind of just brushed past it and kept teaching.

We asked him to say the closing prayer. He fought us on it, but we bore testimony and let him sit there. He was fighting it, but we could FEEL him coming round. We could FEEL it. And then:
"Would it help if I said it?" said Sister Aguilar.
My head whipped around, and Elder Molina slowly emerged from behind the chair. Our combined gaze nearly nailed her to the chair, and she fidgeted uncomfortably for a moment before saying, "Am I not supposed to do that?"
I said, "No, it's fine. Go ahead."
Shoot. We'd almost had him, lady.

Cole came to church this Sunday, though, so that's good.

On Thursday, we bumped into a hardcore Baptist at the door. He had Mormon friends, and a bit of what we believed. He said that the Bible was pure truth, pure inspiration, and that he didn't need anymore. I asked, "What about the Song of Solomon?"
Man, THAT one made him think.
Anyway, he said his main problem with our church was our belief in prophets. "After all," he said, "Joseph Smith was a very disreputable man."
Oooh, that did it. Couldn't let him get away with that. I said, "NO. He was not. He saw God. In his own words, 'I knew it, I knew God knew it, and I could not deny it.' He was persecuted and hunted and ultimately died because he would not deny. He did not get a penny out of it."
We didn't get in the door, but at least he heard my testimony.

A lot of our investigators this week were found due to the Spirit. I'm sure of it. We met George, an older man, because we showed up at a spot to tract on Wednesday, didn't like it, and went somewhere else. Then, we picked a place to stop - again, not planned beforehand - and then went up a long driveway. A LONG driveway. Two roads split in a road, and we picked the one less traveled by, and that made all the difference. It started raining, and we got drenched, but at the very end of the road, we met George sitting under his porch out of the rain, and he offered us some shelter. The rain allowed us to teach him without him running away, and cleared up once we were done so that we could spend the rest of the day dry. We even bumped into a group of college guys who asked us to come back Saturday, because I was prompted to take a shortcut. I definitely feel that we're getting helped out here.

I got both your package and your letter, Mom, and you are right. Getting letters IS like Christmas. I get so happy getting stuff in the mail. I'll try and send something to you soon - including the farewell thank-you's. Since we don't have a way of downloading photos onto a computer, I'm going to be mailing my first photo card thingy to you soon. It's about time you saw all the stuff I've been doing.
I just think it's so fun to hear about Robby's wedding (yay Robby!). I LOVED the picture of Nathan you sent me! That boy is so cute! I was really stunned to see him with shorter-length hair. Almost didn't recognize him at first.
Adam is amazing. You didn't see ME coming up with quadruple alliterations when I was six! (I would have remembered doing that.) I love that kid so much. He is just so smart and clever, but with his parents, I'm not surprised.
So happy to hear about David and Amy coming up to Utah. The due day's just about here, isn't it? And Joy! AAH! Another baby boy! I think that is so wonderful to hear! I want you all to know that I pray for you MANY times a day.
And, in response to your letter, Mom. I thought the same thing about my email - I had that very same image of Clark Kent waving the smoke away from his computer. I love how we're so similar. I want you to know that I had the theme song stuck in my head for the rest of the day.

Mom, to answer your questions:
1. We do have a car for our companionship, since our area is huge, but we had to swap it off to the Mount Airy Elders, so we get to ride our bikes this week :)
2. My shoes fit great. No worries there!
3. The weather is wonderful here. A bit humid, but not too bad, and Utah is hotter. There are more trees here, too. Apparently I missed all the heat by a week or so.
4. I don't think I need a blanket yet, I've been using just a sheet every night
5. Our branch has a small phase 1 chapel to meet in - you know, like the kind you get everywhere in the world. Branch/ward size is determined by sacrament meeting attendance, as you know, and I think we need 150 people coming to sacrament meeting to be classified as a ward.
6. This is what my standard day looks like:
I wake up at 6:30 each morning. I get a couple of minutes to lift weights. We have two 55 pound dumbells, so at least my biceps will survive my mission. We get an hour of personal study at 8, and two hours of companion study at 9 (since I'm in training right now.) After lunch, we head out to go finding or appointments. If all goes well, we have dinner at a member's at 6, then head back into the fray until around 9. We plan out the next day for the next half hour, then write in our journal and get ready for bed at 10:30. Pretty busy!
7. All the daily life activities are going okay. Elder Molina is much cleaner than my college roommates. The one problem is that he doesn't use the dishwasher, and yet he doesn't wash the dishes by hand I have to run the dishwasher more the once a week, which *irks* me. (danny has favorite words - he had fun working that one in, i'm sure!)
8. We do get the Ensign. We get it with our media orders (where we refill our supply of pamphlets, Book of Mormon copies, etc.)
9. I'm doing good at the moment as far as cravings are concerned :)
I'm so glad to be out here serving the Lord. I pray that you're doing well too. Thank you so much for everything.

Augh! I have so much more to say, but I'm running out of time. I'll write more next week. I sure love you all. The Church is true. That's why I'm here. Stay strong!

Elder Fisher

"Hallelujah Brother!" 8/20/12

"Hal-le-lujah brother! I am here to comfort the sinner and return the stray lamb back to the fold!"  (for those of you who don't recognize the quote, it is from the movie "Cat Ballou")

Well, here I am, in North Carolina! Some much to say, so little time! I'll do my best.

Mom, I got everything safe and sound. I have been using my bike, and I'll be using it a lot more, too, so don't worry about it.

First off, I really love that poster you sent to me, with the pictures. It nearly made me cry the first time I saw it. It was awesome.  (see attached - combined quotes from samuel fisher & danny)

Secondly, I've been thinking about our conversation at the airport. I remembered that, as time was running down, I had no idea what to say. All I could think of was saying "I love you" over and over. That experience made me think about what happened when we had to say goodbye to our Heavenly Father before we departed on our earthly mission. Were we reduced to tears then, capable only of saying "I love you?" What did He say to us before we left His presence? It was a strange connection for me. We can't give Heavenly Father a phone call, but we CAN talk to Him, and, unlike my parents, He can always see how I'm doing. I sure miss my family, but I know that He's watching them, just like me.

As for the mission itself...

I showed up in North Carolina on Monday. We stayed at the mission home the first night, getting to know President and Sister Craven. Great people! I headed off with real missionaries on Tuesday, Elders Greiner and Leon--it was the latter's last day in the mission! We taught a lady named Felicia, a referral from She just drank it all up, and committed to everything on the first go. Definite golden investigator, definite greenie's luck.

Wednesday was transfers. My trainer is Elder Molina, who is from Las Cruces! It has been a LONG time since I've met someone who knows who Dick Poe is. (our el paso friends will be familiar with this car dealership and it's irritating commercials!  We are in the Dobson area, which President Craven described as "the closest you can get to the Garden of Eden on Earth," and it certainly is. Looks a lot like Washington, but different kind of trees. Our apartment--duplex, actually--is MASSIVE. I feel so spoiled. I even discovered what appears to be the Sword of Laban hanging over the fireplace. I'll send you a picture of it sometime.

Dobson has a branch, just 10 members shy of being a ward, so Elder Molina and I have our work cut out. The members are EXTREMELY nice, and they feed us well. In our first few days, we've taught a lot of people, but never the same people twice, since apparently nobody answers their doors around here...There are tons of Baptists here, but that's to be expected. What surprised me, though, is that it's mostly a bunch of white people. Elder Molina has informed me that Dobson is where the Grand Dragon of the KKK is, so maybe we'll have to pay him a visit sometime.

On my first day in Dobson, filled with new missionary fire, I asked Elder Molina if we could bike around to our next appointment. I quickly remembered that I have not been biking for about two years. Elder Molina has the speed advantage, but I have the endurance, so it's quite an interesting spectacle to watch us make our way down the road, biking past verdent fields of "tabakka". (Again, I'll have to send you pictures of that.)

There are a few investigators that I want to share about. The first is Matt, a young man we met on Thursday. With a lump of aforementioned tabakka in his mouth, he listened to our first discussion. We read him a bit of the Book of Mormon, asked him to read it, and talked to him a bit. He had questions about if God could forgive him for his swearing and...relationships with girls (which we answered), and questions about scientology, Jehovah's Witnesses, and polygamy (which we deflected). He said he could feel the Spirit when we talked to him, and wanted to be like us. The best part was, he expressed a desire that he wanted to go on a mission! He WANTS to change, and he wants to learn. All that we need now is for him to be home when we come visit...

We met an older lady named Lena on Saturday, who has a strong testimony of asking God about scripture. On segway later, she had committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. She also accepted the Restoration with no problems. She sounds willing to come to church, and she loves talking to anyone about God -- she just opened the door and sat down to talk, no questions asked. The one interesting thing was that she absolutely refused to pray with us at the end of the lesson. She said that she only says the Lord's Prayer -using the exact same words every time. The funny thing is, she says that prayer whenever she has a specific concern or question in mind. So she understands asking God questions, but just doesn't seem to grasp HOW. We're visiting her again tonight.

After we met Lena, we visited a man named Jerry on Saturday. He's a referral from that Elder Molina has visited before, and they taught him the first discussion, along with giving him a Book of Mormon. He's a definite born-againer. My experience with him went somewhat like this:
"So Jerry, have you prayed about the Book of Mormon, asking God if it is true?"
"Oh yes, I have. I got an answer. It's true. I study with it."
"Great! Do you believe in modern-day prophets?"
"Yes, I do! But God also told me to stay where I was, so I will."
...[Elder, did I miss something here?]"

Yeah. I was completely dumbfounded at this. I have no idea how someone could believe the Book of Mormon is true and just it. Elder Molina said to give him time.

We've gotten a freebie baptism in the form of Danica, a 12-year old girl who moved in with her father and his member family. We've been teaching her the lessons, and the only thing preventing her from getting baptized is that she wants her name changed. She's a bright girl, and she's really drinking it up.

Anyway, to finish up. It's been wonderful here. I'm having a great time, and learning a lot. Elder Molina is very patient with my eagerness. I have a great District Leader and a great Mission President. We're getting fed well, and I'm getting enough sleep. Dobson really is a beautiful place, and it has thankfully been perfect weather, even temperature wise.

David, that box of scripture cards you gave me has really come in handy. Thank you so much for all the work you put into that!

Augh! No time to proofread!

I want you to know that I love you, that I'm praying for you, and that I love hearing from you! Please keep me posted. I'll write more next week.

The Church is true. Heavenly Father and Jesus love us. That's why I'm here, after all.

Hurrah for Israel!


Elder Fisher

"There's Treasure Everywhere!" 8/7/12

So, since it was Fast Sunday this week, we had a two-hour Mission Conference instead of our regular Priesthood meetings. One of the speakers, President Seamons, was talking about the worth of the Book of Mormon. To help emphasize his point, he shared a Calvin and Hobbes comic strip, which is the epitome of awesomeness. Google "Calvin and Hobbes: There's treasure everywhere" and you'll find it. Really fun, and really true about the Book of Mormon. Every read through I do, I use a different color of crayon, which really allows me to see how much treasure I keep finding in there.

But time to get to the real stuff. There's so much to say, and so little time in which to say it. This is a VERY BIG LETTER, so I've tried to divide it up into little segments for you to peruse at your leisure.
1. Fun Stuff
2. Teaching Investigators
3. The Great Sealing Power Debate
4. Airport info
5. Miscellaneous
6. In Conclusion

Fun Stuff (for the short on time)

I mentioned in my last email that Elder Letalu and I had been made Zone Leaders, and one of our responsibilities has been to introduce the new group of missionaries, run through the rules, and take them on a tour. So, on Wednesday and Thursday, we did so. The only problem was that the Coordinating Sister, Sister Stegelmeier, who is supposed to sit in to help explain sisterly concerns, is one of those people. The lesson was essentially me trying to give the lesson, as I've been assigned to do, and Sister Stegelmeier jumping in to say what I was just about to bring up. Kind of frustrating. Elder Letalu was of the opinion that, since she'd been there a week longer, we should let her talk. I was of the opinion that, as the introduction is a Zone Leader responsibility, we needed to step up and do it. Anyway...Sister Stegelmeier's going to have an interesting time on a mission.Afterwards, we took the new district on a tour through the MTC, showing them the bookstore and such.

There is a tree outside of the Laundry that smells like cream soda. I'm not kidding. You walk up and sniff it, and it does. I don't know why. The missionaries have creatively named it The Cream Soda Tree. As there must be opposition in all things, outside the MTC Bookstore is the Porta-Potty Rock, and sadly, its power is far greater than the Tree's. It makes me want to throw up every time I walk by.

When Elder Letalu and I looked over the list of names for the new district, we saw all the companionships: Elders Johnson and Ellis, Elders Davis and Jones and...Elders Short and Lower. We thought that that was the most awesome coincidence of all time. We bet that they'd be super tall, and we were right. Elder Short is 6'4", and Elder Lower is 6'6". So, you might say, he's the higher one of the two.

Wednesday was my first opportunity to give a priesthood blessing. Elder Letalu and I were sitting in the classroom during Study Time, discussing Zone Leader stuff, when all of a sudden Elder Grey (the Wallball guy) calmly stands up, walks over to the trash bin, and starts throwing up. It was quite impressive. I gave him a priesthood blessing and then took him to the clinic. The poor kid's health has been bouncing all over the place the last week, but he had to go to the emergency room last night when he started throwing up blood...which made me feel very nervous, but we got together as a district at about 11 at night to say a prayer. Hope he's doing okay. He's one of those elders who came to the mission field with dormant health problems, and all the stress of mission life kinda brought those problems back. He's such a trooper for coming, though.

Sunday we had Fast and Testimony meeting. I shared my testimony about the Atonement. I've always loved the story of Dad talking to Grandma Zina about raising her family, and I shared that story. I think the gist of it was this: "Wasn't it hard, raising all those kids and giving up all those opportunities?"
Grandma: "Oh, I was happy to. I'd do it again."
And then, I remember Dad saying that he could imagine seeing the Savior and saying, "Wasn't it hard, going through the Atonement? All that pain?"
And then He would say, "Oh, I was happy to; I'd do it again."
I am so grateful for good parents, and I am so grateful for the Atonement.

Monday we did an activity for learning how to teach with the Spirit. Elder LEtalu and I both roleplayed as one of our investigators, asking them to commit to baptism, and we were not to listen until the Spirit told us what to say. We both tried it, and we could tell when we were speaking with the Spirit and when we were not. It was amazing. Both of us said some crazy awesome things when the Spirit got flowing. Elder Whitaker (Joseph Smith) and his companion, Elder Cross, tried a different approach: don't say ANYTHING unless you know it's the Spirit prompting you. It took Elder Cross ten minutes to figure out what to say, and apparently the experience gave him a migraine. I think I'll pass on that method of teaching.

Teaching Investigators

Man, we have done so much roleplaying over the last week. Elder Letalu and I have been teaching quite a few people, but I'll only mention a few for the sake of time.
One of our investigators is Chantha, a Cambodian living in Anchorage. He was not really responsive the first three times we taught him, and we tried using very simple doctrine. Our latest lesson, though, on Monday night, we really tried to focus on why he needed the Gospel. We started teaching him, not the lesson. He opened up, and talked about how he'd gotten in bad with the mob, and how he was fearing for his life and worried about his kids, and he wanted to escape, and stuff. We got him to commit to baptism. (We're the first people in the district to do so; we all teach Chantha) Thankfully Elder Letalu was feeling the Spirit, and he really carried the lesson. In general, we do a good job of passing off.

The other fun teaching story was a Less Active we taught, Wilda. She didn't want to go to church because she thought she'd be judged, and she felt bad for not knowing anything about the Gospel. I told her about how Mom dealt with moving into a new ward where she thought she was being judged by her background. Elder Letalu shared some experiences too. Between the two of us, we got the lady playing Wilda to cry, even though Wilda technically would not. We asked her if she'd come to church this Sunday, and she said she'd try.
At this point, Elder Letalu leaned forward, raised an eyebrow, and said, smiling, "That's not good enough for me, Wilda. Are you going to go or not?" And she said yes.

Man, I wish I had the Poly license to do stuff like that.

The Great Sealing Power Debate

The main thing Thursday was some of the elders in my district got in my argument with one of our teachers about the Sealing power. The teaching, Sister Knudsen, said that, essentially, the Sealing power sealed. Without it, you could still see your family in the Celestial Kingdom, but you couldn't really see them as family. Elder Nelson, a guy from another district who had to stay behind due to a health problem, started arguing with her. He said that the sealing power allowed people in the Celestial Kingdom to pull people up from lower kingdoms--so, if your family was sealed, and one of you didn't make it, you could rescue them from the Terrestrial Kingdom or something. I don't agree with either idea, but I didn't say anything.

However, Elder Nelson came into our room Thursday night to mouth off about Sister Knudsen teaching false doctrine, and then he asked me what I thought. And what I think is this:
1. Why do we need to get sealed? To reach the highest level of exaltation.
2. What is the highest level of exaltation? Becoming like God.
3. What can we do, sealed together as gods, that unsealed Celestial beings cannot? Have eternal increase. As we are all Heavenly Father's children, I am led to understand--and I definitely do not know if this is true or not--that if we and our spouse reach exaltation, we, too, can have a forever family. Not just forever in duration, but in size; the amount of children we can have is neverending. That is not possible if we're not sealed.
Alright, I apologize. But that's how I see it.

I tried to explain to Elder Nelson why I did not believe the Sealing power was used for a rescuing effect. The fact is, which kingdom we're placed in is dependent on whether or not we accept Christ's Atonement, and whether or not we do that is dependent on if we were willing to live a higher law. Elder Nelson's theory about sealing power means that someone's eternal salvation relies on whether or not a person has been sealed to a Celestial Being, NOT on if they've accepted the Atonement. And that, my friends, is getting saved by works. Which we know is wrong.
Secondly, people are put into the Terrestrial and Telestial Kingdoms because that's where they'd be happiest. Even when we don't live up to His standards, God still shows us mercy. Terrestrial people would not be happy in a Celestial world, and forcing them into it via the sealing power would be making them unhappy.

Anyway, Elder Nelson got after me for not agreeing with him, but I just calmly stated that A) the First Presidency has not openly addressed this issue, which means that it's deep doctrine and all we can do is pray about it, B) our goal should be "No Empty Seats" anyway, and C) we should just trust God to have worked this out perfectly, as he is God, after all. 

Airport Info

I am flying out Monday, August 13, for North Carolina, at around 7 in the morning. I'll send the rest of the details to you shortly, Mom, but I want you to know that. I have heard that I get to make a phone call home at the airport! I don't know when I'll get there, but if you are up sometime between 5:00-7:00, I'll try and give you a call, provided I have the phone card...


Mom, I think it's so cool that you've finished The Dark Is Rising. I know that it can be a little hard to understand, and the level of writing's not at J.K. Rowling's level, but I still like it a lot. I think it's funny how you sent me John Rowland's speech about free will and choices; that's actually my favorite part of the whole series, and why I'm so fond of it. Susan Cooper's story is pretty unique in fantasy, in that she says the main conflict between good and evil is over free will, not necessarily between sin and virtue. (I think Tolkien and Lewis are the only others who make that conclusion.) Sin and virtue play a huge part in the real battle between good and evil, but only because they deal with the proper use of agency.
Another thing that I've always thought was interesting about the series was that, even when the Light won, they head off, because there is still work to be done. Makes me wonder what we will be doing in the Celestial Kingdom. I recall Dad saying that, even though we think of this life as a test, who's to say that what's to come won't be more difficult?

To Joy and Joey - I absolutely LOVED getting your letter. You all had such nice counsel for me. Adam drew such lovely pictures--his world was great--and his handwriting is getting really good! And the picture from Clara was great. I just felt so much love from that letter, it made my day.

Mom, you've asked me, I think, what music I want when I get into the mission field. I'll generally trust your judgment, but I would really like a copy of Called to Serve. It has a lot of great songs on it, and two of my favorites, This Is the Christ and He Sent His Son.

In Conclusion

I just want you all to know that I am having a great time. I'm feeling the Spirit and learning so much. The Church is true. I miss you, but I know that this is the Work of God. It's hard to think that my MTC time is almost over. My next email will be from North Carolina! And it will be a shorter letter...

I love you all. Write you later!

Elder Fisher

More from the first week; 8/2/12

Hello Mom and Dad!

          I didn’t quite have enough time to finish my email on Tuesday, so I’m writing you this.  It’s hard to believe that I’m already 1/3 of the way through my MTC time.  They told me that things really speed up after Sunday, and it’s true; the week has just flown by.

          Well, as I currently have some time, I’m going to tell you all the things I didn’t have time for in my email.  A lot of what we’ve been doing in the MTC has been role playing; pretending to be an investigator or teaching someone pretending to be an investigator.  It helps us get a feel for what brings in the Spirit and what does not.  Here’s all the people we’ve taught and how it went.

          Friday night – last Friday – we taught Debbie (aka our teacher Sister Smith), an older lady whose mother-in-law was a temple worker, and thus invited the elders over to learn about the Church.  Elder Letalu and I went and taught her.  It . . . didn’t go well.  Elder Letalu was nervous, so he kind of bounced all over the place, and Debbie lost interest.

          So, to prepare for our next lesson, I resolved to make a great lesson plan so that I’d know exactly what to say . . . and I’d do most of the talking.  Our investigator this time was Chantha, a 21-year-old Colombian working for UPS in Anchorage, with his two sons (3 and 1).  We went to teach him, and it went horrible.  I learned a few very important things, though.  First, I needed to trust Elder Letalu and work with him – I’ve learned since that, while I might be better at raw doctrine, he’s just as good as me in speaking, feeling the Spirit, and teaching.  We complement each other very well, actually.

          The second thing is that we have to show that we care for the investigators, and not just jump into the lessons.  I finally realized, in fact, why Dad home teaches the way he does, and that he was actually brilliant all along.  Here I was thinking that Dad needed to focus more when home teaching – to get in, give the lesson, and get out, and not spend half an hour just talking.  But it turns out that that half hour helps them know that they are loved and tells us what they need help with.  In other words, Dad, I was reminded, yet again, how cool you are.

          The final lesson I learned was that you need the Spirit to teach.  Here I was, the debator, the actor, the writer, thinking that I could simply bear my testimony with a few explanations and all would be good.  Nope.  If you don’t have the Spirit – and listen to what it tells you to say – you can’t do anything.

          So Elder Letalu and I tried a different strategy.  We’d get to know the gospel, the BofM, and PMG extremely well, and study any specific questions the investigator had, but we wouldn’t write any solid lesson plan.  Our idea is, if the knowledge is in the reservoir, the Spirit will tell us what we should bring out.

          On Monday we started TRC teaching:  actors, who may or may not be members, being investigators.  We taught Jose, a man from the mountains of Guatemala, using our new approach.  Dad’s mission made a good ice breaker, though I regretfully don’t remember much about the actual living conditions other than the geckos and the bad water, so I couldn’t relate too much to his upbringing.  Thankfully, Elder Letalu’s dad grew up on a plantation in Samoa, so we were covered there.  Jose asked us two main questions:  Why does God allow bad things to happen? And Why is there inequality in the world?
          We didn’t get a chance to answer his questions that lesson, but we had done well at getting him to know we cared for him.  When we came back on Wednesday, we answered his questions.  We explained that God has given all of us free will, and automatically rewarding righteousness or punishing wickedness would take away free will.  We are given the ability to do what we wish with the options that present themselves to us:  to fight and live, or to give up and die; to do good, or to choose the easy path and do bad.  Jose told us that we was a fighter, and broke the cycle in his family by coming to America.  But then he said, “I don’t want to right anymore.  I want peace.”

          Elder Letalu and I then shared our personal conversion stories (I’ll mention Elder Letalu’s soon) to Jose, about how we know the gospel brings peace.  The Spirit was very strong in the room.  I wish we’d had ten more minutes and a Book of Mormon . . .

          We then taught Debbie again, trying our new strategy.  We got the Spirit into the room, and got her to commit to reading the BoM.  Our second lesson with Chantha went much better, too; we taught him the Plan of Salvation.  We also taught a TRC less-active person:  a 70-something lady who left the church fifty years ago who we’re trying to get to come back.  Her name is Wilda.

          Wilda said that she didn’t want to come to church because A) the time commitment and B) she thought people would judge her.  I related to her how Mom felt moving into our new ward, with all its members who’d lived there forever.  That seemed to go down well.  We challenged her to go to church; she said “I’ll try.”  Elder Letalu gave her a Look and said with a smile, “Now, Wilda, I’m not going to take that for an answer.  That’s not good enough for me.”  So, she committed.  Man, I wish I had the Poly license to say stuff like that to people.

          I’ve had my own chance to be an investigator.  My first is Gabe Miller – my high school friend – and the elders committed me to read the BoM as of my second lesson.  The other persona is Joseph, an old black guy taking care of his grandkids.

          As for other cool experiences . . . my district did a session at the temple on Tuesday, which was great, and we went to a devotional by Rex D. Pinegar afterwards.  After that, Elder Letalu and I were led on a wild goose chase to find Elder Poulson, who was needed at the front office and, as his ZL’s, we were supposed to find him.

          Wednesday I gave my first Priesthood blessings, as poor Elder Gray started throwing up and eventually had  to stop by the BYU medical center with his comp, Elder Roe.  So that was a first for me.

          Other fun stuff:  we welcomed the newbies Wednesday.  One of the companionships consists of an Elder Short and an Elder Lower.  Elder Letalu and I thought that was really ironic, and we guessed correctly that they’d both be at least 6’5”, before we’d even seen them.  (Elder Lower is higher)
          My knee is completely healed now.  The elders in my district have been entertaining themselves by playing a game where, if you see someone make a certain hand sign, you have to do 5 push-ups.  A lot of them are extremely sore by now.

          I am the tallest and probably overall strongest in my district.  Elder Letalu died after doing the bench press with me, and I’m way stronger in the arms.

          Also, I found out that I will get to give you a phone call when I’m at the airport in a few weeks!  So exciting!  So I’ll either need some quarters or a card of some kind, for a pay phone.

          I’ve gotten some great letters lately from Laura, Sam, April, and some sweet sister in our ward whose name escapes me.  I love letters so much.  The Twix made my day, Mom, and there was much celebration upon the arrival of my socks. 

          Some final cool thoughts.  Elder Letalu, as I’ve said, is 23.  It turns out he had a young lady; he left the church and ran off to Hawaii.  He got an inspired mommy phone call at the critical moment, which got him to return home.  He’s a great guy.  I love all his insights.  When we read through Lesson 2 of the PMG, (the Plan of Salvation) and reached the Spirit World, we discussed how people from Paradise can teach people in Prison.  He said, if the number of promptings, visitations, and visions to members and nonmembers to do temple work is any indicator, the missionary work is going extremely well on their side.  It’d be fun to see Paul and Alma as mission companions.

          And one final thought.  Eh, maybe tow.  Sam wrote to me not too long ago.  Inside, he mentioned an exchange we had while he was on his mission, where I said my favorite Book of Mormon prophet was Mormon, and he said his was Moroni.  He told me (and I paraphrase):  “Some days, Danny, you will be the conquering general, full of power, and some days you will be the lonely wanderer, with nothing but the message you carry to comfort you..”

          And that message is this:  when Elder Letalu and I met with Brother Meyers to discuss Zone Leader duties, Brother Meyers wanted to give us hugs once we finished.  I really appreciated this, and told him about hot it took me ten minutes to get Dad to give me a good-bye hug.  Brother Meyers said he didn’t mind, and then he said, “After all, if you were walking down this hallway, and the Savior came around the corner and saw you, what would He do?  Would He give you a handshake, or would we run into His arms and embrace in tears?”

          That’s our message.  God loved us, so He sent His Son to do what we could not.  Jesus Christ atoned for us, and He felt our pains, so that when we do meet Him at the last day, we can embrace in tears.  Because of Him, we will all live again.  Forever.

          I sure love you.  I miss you when I think of you.  I pray for you each night.  I look up to you and admire you.  Be happy.  Have fun with the Olympics.  Good Luck!  Love you!

          Elder Fisher

"And I know Joseph Smith was a pamphlet!"

Hello from the MTC! I only get 30 minutes for email, but since my handy app has gotten me used to 1, I should be fine...

I'm got a lot to tell you, so I'll try to break it down into topics and bullet points to make stuff easier.

The People

So, one of the MANY blessings I've had this last week has been an incredible district (group of missionaries I go to class with) and an incredible branch presidency. I'll give you the run down:

My companion is Elder Lyle Lotalu-Lokeni. He is a Samoan from Lehi (who went to Lehi High) who is a few inches shorter than I am and a few inches wider. It's nice since he's on about the same level as me when it comes to eating and strength, so we have good times at the gym and at meals. (I'm a bit stronger in a lot of areas, though). He is about 23, going to Charlotte with me, and is pretty awesome. As I've gotten to know him over the last few days, I've realized that he has got a ton of great gospel insights. I am extremely glad to be his companion. One cool thing he told me is that his dad is from Samoa. His grandfather was a chief there (the word "Lokeni" is a chiefly name) and he named his son Lokeni Lokeni. That means that Elder Lokeni not only has Christ's name on his nametag, but also his father's, which gives him some great motivation to do well. We've been having a lot of fun reading through Preach My Gospel together, since neither of us have read it. Such a great companion!
The two other elders in my room are Elder Whitaker and Elder Cross. Elder Nick Whitaker was the young Joseph Smith in the Prophet of the Restoration movie, except his hair is dyed red now. He's about 23 too. He and I have about comparable movie quote knowledge and are able to do impressions equally well, which has made us get along very well. It's funny to see people at the MTC realize that they've seen him in a church movie. (Nobody recognizes me from my Elder Bednar video :( But oh well.) He was the main character in a short Mormon movie called "Money or Mission," which, funny enough, almost exactly matches his own life journey. Pretty ironic. He's a good kid though, and very spiritual. His companion is Elder Cross, who looks like a skinny Shia LeBeouf and has an Ocarina. All of the inner nerd in our room got released when he brought that out the first night. He can't play it anymore, since a leader told him to stop.
The fun thing about our room is that we all love to sing (quietly, of course), that we all love movies and have most of the same interests, and we're all pretty spiritual. We've had a great time. As for my district:
There is Elder Roe (the crazy one) and Elder Gray (the quiet one), Elder Gomm (the friendly one) and Elder Poulson (the solid one), Elder Huckstep (the Idahoan) and Elder Rothgery (the follower.) I could not have asked for a better district. We get along extremely well.
Elder Gray is from Gig Harbor, which means he is the first person I've ever met who knows what Wall Ball is. Legit Washington Wall Ball. Which means he knows what a Waterfall, a Crack, and an Ace are. I was so excited when I heard that.
And now for my branch presidency:
President Gubler is fantastic, and frequently dispenses hugs at the start and end of every meeting (he calls it "medicine.") His counselors are Elder Meyers and Elder Pearce.

The Schedule

We've had some pretty crazy days here. We sit in classes for six hours at a time, and do a lot of studying. We get meals three times a day, and they are very good. Elder Letalu and I have made a commitment to be healthy, especially after I told the district the story about the guy who gained 79 pounds in 8 weeks...I'm actually rather proud of how well I've been behaving myself. We get 45 minutes of gym time each day. Even though we wake up early, I don't really mind--it's all that work we do that gets me tired. So good though, I'm feeling the Spirit all the time.

Big Stuff

Elder Letalu and I have been made Zone Leaders! Elder Whitaker (Joseph Smith) was made District Leader on Thursday--to the surprise of no one--but on Sunday, Elder Letalu and I were called in by the Branch Presidency and the calling extended to us. As Zone Leaders, we get to welcome the new group each Wednesday, and other good stuff, like making sure people behanve. We even get our own Zone Leader Fan!
On Thursday, Elder Gomm was feeling sick, so our district gathered together to give him a blessing. That was first time I ever really felt like an Elder.
Sunday was just the most miraculous day. We had great talks from our Branch Presidency, we went and saw The Testaments (made me cry, as usual) and it was a great spiritual high all day. But it didn't stop there. When Elder Whitaker called a district meeting in our room, we all gathered together to possibly plan what our district should work on. He said we'd all write down suggestions and, if they wanted to be kept private, to put a star on the paper. Elder Rothgery all of sudden opened up. As the topic this Sunday had been repentance, it had made him think about his grandfather, who was a horrible man. He'd done horrible things to his mother and had even tried to kidnap Elder Rothgery when he was a child (his dog saved him by valiantly biting his uncle and defending him). He said that he is so angry at his grandfather for what he did, he didn't think he could forgive him. Elder Whitaker, Elder Letalu and I gave him some words of comfort, and then we suggested giving him a blessing. Elder Gomm ran and grabbed some special oil from the Garden of Gethsemane for this blessing, and we led Elder Rothgery's companion, Elder Huckstep, do the honors. The Spirit was like electricity in the room, I've never felt it so strong. Amazing.


The MTC has made me more of a roleplayer than any video game ever did. WE do a lot of teaching of people who pretend to be investigators - teachers, other elders, etc. The first two lessons Elder LEtalu and I did were with "Debbie" and "Chantha" - our teachers - and they bombed. We didn't know what to say, we didn't follow the Spirit, they were overly planned. I, in particular, did not trust Elder Letalu, so I spoke almost exclusively for our second lesson. Didn't work. We decided to simply read Preach My Gospel and go by the Spirit.

Monday we taught TRC - people who may or may not be converts. Our man was Jose, a guy from Guatemala (he said he lived up in the mountains, Dad) who wanted to know why God allowed bad things to happen. We focused a lot more on getting to know HIM, and it worked. The Spirit was there. We did the same thing for Debbie, and it worked!

(running out of time, finish later)

Friends I've Seen:

I have bumped into a ton of people here that I know, including: my roommate Mason Stout, Josh Taylor, Peter Murray, Nick Johnson, Chris Walker, and even Sister Mancuso -- Becky's friend! So much fun.

Other Stuff:

Uh, Mother, I am in critical need of socks. I've got everything else, but I've only got 1 pair of Missionary socks, and no regular pairs. I've been wearing the same pair for a week now. Yikes!

The fan's been a lifesaver.

Running out of time. Write more later!


Elder Fisher