Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm glad you had an awesome Thanksgiving. Sounds like you got to see a lot of people! I also had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. That oyster stuffing was pretty good, actually. We had a good time with the Almeta G family. It was definitely different - I'm guessing that it was maybe about 70 degrees outside. But it was a good experience.

Here are some of the experiences we had this week: "Things are going great here on the Island. This week was kind of a difficult week. Elder Robertson was sick for a couple days and I wasn't feeling too hot myself. There are still a lot of good things going on, though. Mike was baptized on Saturday night by his father-in-law, Garlon. It was awesome. A lot of the members are surprised and happy. He is definitely set on going to the temple and getting sealed to his family.

Alex is scheduled to be baptized on Thursday night. Our visits have helped out her family. Her dad Jamie, who is a less-active member, says he knows he needs to get back to church and wants to quit smoking. There are some other part-member families that we are excited to hopefully start teaching soon - namely Allen N and Chuck W. And, Crystal, Hunter, Evan, and their sister Nana were all at church on Sunday. It's really good to see that whole family there. We have seen Tiffaney once since last week. She was planning on getting baptized in January, we are going to see if we can't get her to bump that up a few days to sometime in this transfer. That would be awesome!"

I think that my time here is dwindling down. This past week we had our interviews with the President, up in New Bern. I must say, I am awed by how closely President Cotterell lives by the Spirit. If I can learn to be half as spiritual as he is, I will be well off! Anyways, we had a good interview. I can't really go into detail about it, but I do enjoy having the opportunity to talk with President Cotterell one-on-one every six weeks. Happy birthday to you on Friday, Meg. And happy half birthday to me! 19 years and 6 months. Crazy.

Oh, I forgot to mention New Moon in my letter last week. People have gone CRAZY over it, it's ridiculous! It makes me laugh. I heard they have another one coming out in June. It's amazing how stuff like this just comes out of nowhere, catches fire, then dies back down. For sure that is what will happen with the Twilight saga.

I'm glad the whole family is enjoying Michael's football season. I hope they can finally pull through. Who are they playing? You'll have to let me know what happens. Michael you are a knothead! Ha ha ha. Thanks for the account of the game. I'm guessing that Michael was the one spoke that description.

I am going to ask the New Bern missionaries if they know anything about Judy K. I'll see if I can't get her address or phone number or something for Brother E.

This morning I was studying a talk by a former mission president who's now in the first quorum of the Seventy, Lawrence E. Corbridge. It explains the difference between being a missionary who conforms (i.e. obedience and sacrifice) and a missionary who changes his nature. Elder Stewart gave me that talk when I first came out, and it has taught me a lot. In order to be changed by our service, we need to have charity. We need to desire to do good in our hearts, and not just show it in our actions. It is so true. I was impressed with how important it is to think about the doctrines of the gospel as we go throughout our days and to use that as the criteria for our choices. I know that as we do that, we are happy. And this morning I felt the impression that I didn't need any more pictures than I've already got. Thanks for watching out for me!

Well, I hope all is well with all of you. I feel very privileged to be able to serve here in the best mission in the world. I love you all!

Elder Casper

PreThanksgiving Letter

Hey everyone,
Well, thanks for the letters! I actually got more than one letter this week, that's gotta be a personal record. That was an awesome package, thanks a bunch! I hope y'all are doing good. And yes, I am positive that I will be in Harkers Island for another 5 weeks. This transfer period ends on Dec 27th. I imagine that I will get transferred then, I'll have been here for 4 transfers (6 months!), if the Lord wills it.
Here is an excerpt from my LTP. Mom, I'll answer the questions you had in just a sec.

"Well, the missionary work is going great. We are excited, a lot of the plans we've made are coming to fruition. Elder Robertson and I set a companionship goal to have 6 baptisms this transfer. It's a tall order, and we're really going to have to stretch to make it, but we're going to try our hardest. We have seen a lot of miracles happen. We had an amazing Sunday yesterday. First off, it was the Harker's Island ward conference, so we got amazing talks by Bishop Nelson and the stake presidency. The G family - Crystal, Hunter, and Evan - all came. Hunter has a baptismal date set for Dec 26th, we are working with Crystal to help her get rebaptized, and this is the first time we've seen Evan at church (he is a less active member).

Mike was there. He is getting baptized next Saturday, the 28th. He has made so much progress. He is more of a shy, quiet person, he was a little nervous about his baptism being announced in sacrament meeting and a bunch of people showing up to it. But he told us that when Bishop announced it, a wave of calm and peace just swept over him. I'm so excited that he's getting baptized!

And then last of all we had another miracle. Tiffaney has been ready to get baptized, but wanted to wait for her husband, Michael, to baptize her. Michael has been less-active for a while and strayed off the beaten path a little bit, so we were worried that it would take too long for it to happen. But Tiffaney had a change of heart on Saturday night, and then at ward conference President Hancock spoke specifically to her. He said that ordinances are more important than experiences. It was an answer to our prayers and a confirmation to her decision. We haven't set a date with her yet but it should be sometime in December. So right now we have four solid commitments to be baptized. If we can make two more happen we'll reach our goal. It will certainly be a challenge and we might not reach it, but we're going to do our best!"

So Mike is still on schedule. He and his wife have been married for maybe 13 years. Susie is from the Island, and Mike is from Williston (Williston is part of Down East but not the Island). Crystal (Hunter's mom) is still doing good. We haven't talked to her again about being rebaptized, but since we've been teaching Hunter she has definitely had more light come into her life. She does want to come back.

We are still helping out at the library, once a week. Would you believe it, it's even smaller than the good ol' Basin City library. We enjoy helping out there. In my study over the last few weeks I've been reading the Book of Mormon (in Mosiah right now) and writing a talk about faith. I didn't know it would take me so long to just write a talk about faith, but there's a lot to it. There's a good reason that it's the first principle of the gospel. …

Anyways, things are going good. We are having Thanksgiving dinner with Almeta. She is Crystal's Mom and Hunter's grandma, so their whole family will be there. It should be pretty fun and delicious. I haven't tried oysters yet, but I probably will soon. The locals here love them, and I guess a lot of dit-dotters don't take them very well. We'll see.

Well, thanks for the news from home. It's so awesome that Daniel's serving a mission. I never saw that one coming. I'm happy for him. Thanks again for the package. It was awesome!… Could you forward Alex, Dan, Andrew, and Kyle's e-mails to me every week? That would be sweet. It sounds like Kyle and Andrew are doing well.

Whew, this seems like it has been a pretty long letter. Thanks again for everything. I do know that this gospel is true and that the Book of Mormon was translated by Joseph Smith. I guess y'all can think about all the blessings that are in our lives due to those truths. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Till next week!

Elder Casper

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rainy in NC

Hello everyone,
Well, it looks as though I'm in Harker's Island for another six weeks. I'm glad. It feels like Elder Robertson and I have some unfinished business here, and six weeks left to finish it. I am looking forward to finishing this transfer here. Here is what I wrote this week to Pres. Cotterell:

"Well, this week has been really good for us. We loved being able to go to the temple. We have a baptism scheduled in two weeks, Mike. Mike is an awesome guy. He's very low key, kind of shy, and really loves his family. Elder Stewart and I gave the talk about the gift of the Holy Ghost at his daughter Kathryn's baptism. Then a few days later I had the impression that we needed to call them and start teaching Mike, even though we had never met him (he wasn't coming to church at the time). So I called Susie and asked if we could teach him. I reminded her of the blessings that come from having a priesthood holder in the home and told her that I thought that it might be time for him to accept the gospel. So we went over there that night and invited Mike to hear the lessons. He said that when he had been taught before he had believed everything the missionaries said, he just hadn't been ready, but he felt like he was closer to being ready. So we have been teaching him and his baptism is scheduled for the 28th of November. He has definitely changed as we've taught him, he even prayed yesterday in front of us and his family (which is a big step for him). We are super excited. We've got a lot of other good things going on too. Life is good!"

I have a little funny connection back to Eastern Washington that I just found this past week. There is a woman in our ward named Ashley (her maiden name is B) who served in the Spokane Washington mission about 5 or so years ago. She didn't serve in the areas that are closest to us (i.e. Othello, Royal, Moses Lake), so we couldn't find a connection. Last Friday we had dinner with her and her husband, and somehow we got on the topic of how I haven't met very many black people. Part of the Harker's Island culture is that everyone who lives there is white, supposedly there used to be a sign warning black people to be off before sundown. I also made reference to the fact that there aren't many black people in those small towns in Eastern Washington, Sis. S agreed with me there. She said the only black family she remembers was where the dad was white and the mom was black, and that was in Cheney. We talked about it some more and yes, the family was the Bryce S family. I thought that was pretty sweet.

Well, things are going pretty well out here on the coast. I'm looking forward to enjoying this holiday season. We need to get a tree and decorate it. Christmas here is definitely going to be different. You wouldn't believe how warm it is. There's a cold day here and there, but overall it's pretty nice weather. It's really weird, I'm pretty sure we aren't going to be having a white Christmas!

I'm jealous that I wasn't there for that stake conference. It sounds like it was a truly incredible experience. I did have the opportunity of hearing Elder Holland both at BYU and at the MTC, so I guess I should be thankful for that.

Michael, congrats on the 26. That's only slightly below the average at BYU, I would be surprised if you don't get in with that. Good job! And try not to kill yourself, you still gotta serve a mission!

Mom, thanks for getting that album together. I'm sure that I will really enjoy looking at it. And I guess that the library will take softcovers too. I'm fairly sure that they would be willing to put anything that I give them into the library, they do have a copy of the Book of Mormon in there already. Of course hardcovers will last longer, but we'll take what we can get. And you can send whatever you think would be good for someone who went in there to gain another perspective on what Mormons believe.

Well, thanks for everything. One last thing, thanks for finding out Bro. E's areas for me. New Bern is in my district, I've been there 3 or 4 times. It's the birthplace of Pepsi! Elder O (that baseball player) is actually one of the missionaries serving there right now. He and Elder S are two amazing missionaries. Let me know if there's anyone he'd like to have them look up for him. Elder R actually served in both Zebulon and Jacksonville. Jacksonville is the highest baptizing area in the mission! If I'm lucky I'll get to serve in one or two of the same areas as Bro. Edmonds, that would be really cool to be able to know some of the same people he did and be able to connect with the people he knew and taught.

Well, thanks for everything. I hope you all have a good week! I really do love the Gospel and all of you. Until next time!

Elder Casper

Monday, November 9, 2009


Hey everyone,
I hope things are going well for y'all. I am doing fantastic. I really have been blessed much more than I have ever deserved. My heart is full as I read the letters and e-mails I've received, and the blessings that are my friends and family. The Lord blesses all of us much more than we deserve!

Well, here is this week's update on the missionary work.
"We've had another good week. Destinee was baptized yesterday. We taught her all 4 lessons in 2 visits, but Elder H told us she had a super understanding of the gospel (he interviewed her for baptism). She's a 9 year old who was adopted into a member family, and apparently her parents didn't feel comfortable with her getting baptized, so it didn't happen when she was 8. Doesn't make sense to me, they are really good parents and they have taught her well. But Bishop N talked to them about it, and now she's baptized. We had an appointment with Mike yesterday. He is rock solid. He committed to be baptized on Nov 28th. He understands that there are many, many good things that come from baptism. He's a little scared, but he wants to be sealed to his family. We're pretty excited. I think the ward will be shocked in a good way. Hunter's still on track to be baptized December 26th. It was definitely an inspired action to open this area back up for missionary work! A lot of good things are on the way."

Thanks for all the details, Mom. I really do enjoy hearing about what's going on at home and with other missionaries. I will try to be more descriptive about my life out here. Here's one story that I think you will find interesting. When Elder S and I were still together, we called the Down East Library, located in Smyrna, and asked if there was any way we could help. A lady took our number and said she would call us back, but she never did. So last week we were shopping at Dollar General and a lady stopped us and asked us if we had been the ones who had called to volunteer. We told her yes. She asked if we would be willing to come help out on Friday morning, and we said absolutely. So we went on Friday, and we'll get to help out there for about 3 hours every week. Believe it or not, it's even smaller than the Basin City library (where, of course, I worked). We're excited to go there every week, we even got the opportunity to invite the pastor of the Methodist church in Marshallburg to read the Book of Mormon! Ha ha. We're going to try and hunt down some nice hardback copies of good LDS literature like "Our search for happiness" or "Jesus the Christ". If you happen to have anything like that, send it to me! So that was pretty cool…

I can't believe it's November! I've been out for 4.5 months now, can you believe that? It's hard for me to believe that it's almost 2010. It's crazy how time flies. I know that the Gospel is true! At our last zone conference, Pres. Cotterell talked about how "true doctrine, understood, changes attitudes and behavior". If you need to change something in your life and you aren't sure how you can muster up the courage or strength or willpower to do it, try studying some doctrine (i.e. reading the Book of Mormon!). There is power in it! Thanks again for everything, I look forward to hearing from you next week.

Elder Casper