Monday, December 13, 2010

Happy Day at the Temple

Hey everyone,

I hope y'all are doing well. I am doing great! It's pretty cold here, but it's still all good.

"We had an appointment to teach Bro. and Sis. M this week. Sis. M wasn't able to be there, but we did teach Bro. M. We read 3 Nephi 18 and talked about the importance of him becoming worthy to partake of the sacrament. They were at church on Sunday too! Hallelujah, it's the first investigator we've had at church for a little while. I think they really loved it too.

We haven't been able to get up with some of our other investigators. Seems to be impossible to get W to keep a teaching appointment. M has some work going on in her home, so she wants to hold off for a couple weeks. W is in the hospital, we don't have any details besides that. So we're just continuing to try and find new people to teach."

So yeah, we've been doing a lot of finding this week. It's been a lot of fun. Haven't got any new investigators from it yet, but we're trying.

This week we had interviews with President Cotterell. It was good, like always. I'm going to try to do better on keeping the area book updated. President taught us about helping members to do missionary work, which was good and helpful too...

Saturday was a very good day. We were in Raleigh at the temple pretty much all day. Bro. Lucas, our ward mission leader, took us. It was quite an experience to be there when the Piners went through the temple. I was Bro. Piner's escort as he received his endowment, and I was a witness at the sealing. There's no way I could have imagined things turning out like this when I stepped a little out of my comfort zone 15 months ago and called Sis. Piner to see if we could come by and start teaching Bro. Piner. I'm grateful that I was able to witness the Piners become a forever family. It was truly awesome...

Well, I'm really looking forward to getting the family Christmas newsletter this week. That's pretty much all I've got. I hope you all are having a wonderful Christmas season and enjoying life. Until next week!

Elder Casper

Monday, December 6, 2010

Brand-new Elder Rigamoto

I hope all is going well. I can't believe it's December already! Let me tell you about my week.

"This week we taught Bro. and Sis. M. They were married a few months ago at the church and love the church. Sis. M isn't a member. We taught them and had a good lesson with them. They committed to come to church, but they didn't come. It was disappointing, but they do seem to have some potential. So we'll keep trying.

We got up with M this week. Bro. Wilkins is continuing to talk to her. She has a lot of potential, and I'm excited for her. We were able to set a return appointment with her. We're going to teach her the plan of salvation. She's a good lady.

We've been focusing on trying to talk with everyone. It's helped us to share the gospel more. It puts us into awkward situations sometimes, but I do have the faith that we will find someone that gets baptized because we were talking to everyone.

We also spent some time this week on UNCP campus, contacting the students that go there. They all seem to be pretty open to talking with us, and it's so close to our apartment. It's also good practice for Elder Rigamoto."

My new companion is Colin Rigamoto (pronounced ring-a-moe-toe). He is Rotuman (from a Polynesian island north of Fiji), grew up in Fiji and Hawaii, and moved to Provo when he was 17. He played rugby and football in high school, and took a few classes at UVU. He's a really good guy, and I know we're going to have a blast together. He's going to be an awesome missionary. How to describe his personality? He's just a normal, good, fun Mormon guy who decided to serve a mission. I'm glad that I'm training him!

So, I got the package that went to the mission home already. They did the same thing that they did last year - I think they were supposed to hold them and give them to me at Zone Conference, but they messed up again. I got the Michael McLean CD. I hope that wasn't one of the packages from Michael that I wasn't supposed to open, because I already opened it. If I get any packages that are from "Michael Casper", then I'll be sure not to open them.

And by the way, I did get the newsletter. It was huge! I loved reading it, even more than last year. I was especially impressed by Daniel's testimony and experiences. I went all through Junior High and High School without having the faintest idea that he might be interested in the church. I just hope that at least I was a good example and influence. I guess that just goes to show how you need to open your eyes and look at the people in your life. Just because you think that they might not be interested, doesn't mean that they aren't!

That's too bad that they lost state. I know from previous experience that it's a bummer. Hopefully they can at least count their blessings and appreciate the good experience the whole trip was.

Mom, I know that it you keep praying and searching for missionary experiences, you can have them! You should carry some pass-along cards with you in your purse. Just don't give up!

Holy smokes, the clock is ticking for Michael! 5 weeks until the MTC. I can't believe it! Michael, if I were you I would study chapter 4 of Preach My Gospel and study it hard. It will help you in all areas of your life.

Well, this week should be good and eventful. We have interviews with President Cotterell on Friday, and I'll be going to the sealing for the Piners on Saturday. I'm excited!

I love you all. I have a testimony of the gospel. The gospel is true. I can't wait to talk to y'all on the Christmas call in a few weeks! Take care, and have a good week!

Elder Casper

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving in Pembroke

Hey everyone,

It was great to get your e-mail. I hope you all are doing well. Let me tell you about my week.

"Unfortunately, we won't be teaching B anymore. He's just not willing to read or progress. He's not willing to live the Word of Wisdom. We're going to keep inviting him to church, but no more teaching visits. He knows what he needs to do, he's committed to do it in the past but just won't. I hope that things will change for him.

We haven't been able to get up with W at all this week. He's just fallen off the map and is difficult to get ahold of. But we still feel like he has a lot of potential, so we're going to keep trying.

I was able to meet a less-active/part-member family this week for the first time that missionaries have been working with in the past. J and T seem like they have the potential to become active and reform their lives. We have a return appointment set with them for Thursday.

We got in to teach M and J, some people that we tracted out. M was kind of rude to us, and we won't be teaching them again. M thought that we couldn't teach her anything that she didn't know. We talked about the Restoration and a prophet. We asked her about what she would do if Moses was on the earth today. "Would you go to the church that Moses was at?" "I would if it was close to me." Ah well, at least we tried. We bore testimony about the Book of Mormon, invited her to read it, and left it at that.

Bro. Wilkins told us that he's been talking to M (who we taught once) more about the church at work. She asked her Baptist preacher about the church, and he told her that we believe that Joseph Smith is Jesus Christ and that we "drink and party and have a good ol' time in that church!" Bro. Wilkins was able to set that straight, and pointed out to her that her preacher had just told her two bold-faced lies. She's reading the Book of Mormon and forming her opinion on it right now. We'll be going back over there soon to follow up with her."

On Thursday, we helped out at the fire station, helping serve Thanksgiving Dinner to the homeless. It was good. We're supposed to do some kind of service like that every week. After that we had Thanksgiving Dinner with the Chavis family. It was really good, I enjoyed it very much. They're an awesome family. We did some weekly planning, and tried to stop by a few people. So it was good. I can't believe that a year ago, I was having Thanksgiving Dinner in Harker's Island with Elder Robertson. That's just nuts.

Our mission tour meetings were great! It was a little different from last year. Elder Packer talked a lot about the importance of the guidance of the Spirit. I definitely felt it there. It was wonderful.

I think this ward has always been fired up about missionary work. They're just not afraid to share the gospel. Even the less-active members.

So, as it turns out, Elder Lopez is being transferred after spending 6 months in his first area. I will be getting a brand spankin' new missionary. I'll be sure to let you know the details next week. I'm a little nervous to train, but I'm sure it will be good. Pembroke is a good area to train in.

You saw Susanna at Walgreens? Cool beans. I do like her, she was a funny girl. It was a pity that she had to move away. And she's dating a member? That's awesome!

Holy smokes, I can't believe Wes is home. Tell him hi for me. I did write him a letter a couple of weeks ago that he should have hopefully got.

Sorry I haven't been sending you any pictures lately. I really haven't been taking too many. But I will definitely have some to send you next week! Which of my pictures made the Christmas newsletter this year? I can't wait to get it.

Guess what? I get to make the 3rd call of my mission in 4 weeks! Is that crazy or what? I can't believe 2010 - the full calendar year spent as a full-time missionary - is almost over. I'm getting old.

I'm still working on getting the stuff to Corey's family. I'll be sure to let you know how it goes.

Well, that's about all I've got. Thank you so much for the e-mails, they really lift me up and help me out. Take care, and have a good week.

Elder Casper

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Elder Casper and Elder Lopez

A Tough Week

Hey everyone,

So nice to hear from y'all. Here's how my week has been.

"This week has been kind of a tough week. Pretty much all of the investigators that were here when I came into the area either got baptized the week before, have dropped us, or just aren't progressing. So we're going back to the drawing board and finding new people to teach! I'm excited for this area though, it has a lot of potential. Especially with the great member support we have.

B isn't progressing...He's a good guy, but the whole time we've been teaching him I've kept getting this feeling that he isn't going to be ready to be baptized on Nov 20th. That day is certainly out of the question now, we'll see if he has any chance of progressing and keep teaching if he does.

J was our other investigator who had a baptismal date. She was at church on Sunday, and told us about how she was excited for her baptism. We talked to her fellowshipper on Sunday, and she just up an moved to Fayetteville this week. No forwarding address. We're disappointed but hope that things will go well for her.

In our finding efforts we were able to get one new investigator. We were out biking and trying to track down a former investigator. There was a girl out hanging clothes on a clothesline. Some little dogs came out and started barking at us. I stopped, but Elder Lopez (who is deathly afraid of dogs) took off biking, and they chased him a good distance down the road. We talked to the girl. Her name was K. We sat down with her on her porch and taught her. She's only 21, but she wants to get things right in her life. She never actually finished high school. We taught her the doctrine of Christ and invited her to be baptized. She accepted the invitation. We invited her to church, she said she couldn't guarantee she would make it but she would be more likely to make it next Sunday. We invited her to pray, and she did. We have a return appointment with her on Tuesday. And as it turned out, her parents were the former investigators. So we'll see what happens with her.

Other than that, we're just going to be finding. I honestly couldn't make heads nor tails of the map book that was here. We have a pretty nice wall map, and we've worked with our ward mission leader to find out which members are active and less-active. We posted a lot of really old former investigators on our map, and we'll be trying to visit a lot of them. We'll also try to do some contacting on the college campus. We didn't do any this past week but we feel like it would be worth the time to contact over there a couple of times a week."

You asked about the ward. The ward here is very involved with missionary work. Our ward mission leader, Bro. Lucas, is amazing. We talk to him every day and keep him posted on how the work is going. Robeson County has a lot of challenges - there are a lot of evil influences here. I think it's helped to strengthen the members. We have someone to take us on exchange pretty much every night, and people talk to their friends about the gospel. It's a good ward.

Mom, thank you so much for taking the time to round up those pictures and articles [about Corey Cook]. Make sure to thank everyone who's been involved for me. I didn't get the e-mail with Julie's pictures in it. So try sending it again, I guess. Lumberton [where Corey's mother lives] is only 10 miles from here, but it's in a different stake. Not only are they not in our district, they're not even in our zone! So I'm going to need to get special permission from President in order to go on exchange there. So, I probably will only have the opportunity to go out there once. But maybe not. Who knows? Anyways, I will just keep waiting on whatever else you've got coming my way. Just let me know when you've sent all that you can, that will be my cue.

You asked me about Santa Claus. Keep looking for that CD and see if it's come out yet! I read an article in Mormon Times about it, and that's how I became aware of it. Just keep looking under Jason Deere. Do I have any other music requests? I might, but I'm going to have to think about it. [How about some]long johns?... I think I'm pretty much still the same size. I wouldn't mind getting a nice black sweater. I've liked pretty much everything that you've sent me so far. If you could find the time to e-mail me back some more of the photos I e-mailed home, that would be great too. Ha ha, I don't want to be greedy! I can't believe you're asking me about what I want for my second Christmas in the field. That's crazy! Oh, you could send me the Josh Groban Christmas CD! But preferably some time before Christmas, it would be kind of pointless to open that up on Christmas Day, if you know what I mean! Just don't spend a lot of money on me.

So, the weather here has been really cold! I think it hit the freezing point this morning. I fear it's going to be another bitterly cold winter. Apparently, I'm cold-blooded. This past summer was the hottest in many years here in NC, yet it didn't really bother me at all. Then it gets down to just the freezing point (it hits that all the time back home), and I'm getting hypothermia. Weird.

This week will be zone conference. I'm looking forward to reporting the spiritual insights and whatnot that I gain from it to you.

It was great to hear about the Hauni and Derek families! Ha, what happened to everyone else?

Well, everyone, I love you all. I know that the gospel is true. I look forward to hearing from y'all next week. Bye!

Elder Casper

Monday, October 25, 2010

Great New Location

It's been an interesting week.

"I'm pretty well settled here in Pembroke now. I'm still adjusting to the change. Elder Lopez is a good missionary, and the ward here is really awesome. So I'm looking forward to working some more here.

We had one investigator come to church, Bobby. Bobby's a really good man. He's been to church 5 times now, and he has a baptismal date. His main concern at the moment is the Word of Wisdom. At the moment, he doesn't have a strong desire to quit. But our Gospel Principles class was really good, about eternal families. Maybe that will help him gain a stronger desire.

We have another investigator with a baptismal date named Joann, but I haven't actually met her yet. She's a member referral, and she sounds solid. We'll do what we can to get up with her this week.

We have a lot of other investigators right now that aren't too solid. Ronald dropped us because he became involved in another church, and we're going to drop Hubert because he's more interested in talking with us than actually considering whether he would like to become a part of it or not.

I look forward to doing more member-missionary work in this area. I think there's a lot of potential for it here."

So yes, I have been transferred to Pembroke. I'm sure Wikipedia can tell you all about it. It's populated with a bunch of Lumbee Indians, which aren't a real tribe. But I'll let you read up on it. There's a pretty decent college here, the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. It's a pretty unique area. It only has about 100 or so active members (definitely the least on my mission so far), but they make up for it in awesomeness. The ward is very involved here. So I'm excited for my stay here.

My companion is Elder Lopez. He's from the Los Angeles area, and he's of Filipino descent. He's only been out for 3 transfer cycles. It's possible we'll only be together for six weeks, but who knows?

So, do you remember how I told you about running into Terry Cook? He gave me the address for Corey's mom and sister. It's in Clarkton, which is in Lumberton's area (Lumberton is only 10 miles away). So I have a big request for you. I was wondering if you could ask around and get some of the locals to round up any pictures and write down stories about Corey and send them to me (it might be easiest to do it via e-mail). I'm pretty sure he's in one of my prom photos. You might be able to have some success by asking Bro. Edmonds, Coach Riner, Taylors, Jenks, etc. I just have a vision of being able to bring that to his mother in person and bring her some comfort, and possibly open up a door to share the gospel. So do what you can, and let me know if that sounds feasible or not. That would be great!

Well, that's about all I've got. Dad, thanks for writing me again. I really do appreciate the time you take to do that. I love you all and look forward to e-mailing you again next week!

A Very Special Baptism

October 18, 2010

Hey everyone,

It's good to have yet another opportunity to e-mail you and let you know how things are going. Here's from my LTP:

"Thank you so much for sending me to this area and for having me be companions with Elder Tibbitts. There's no doubt in my mind that it was an inspired decision. I hope that the small amount of success we've had here will be a stepping stone to greater success and more member involvement in this area.

The highlight of this week was the baptism and confirmation of Bro. Madison. Bro. Madison is of course restricted to a wheelchair due to arthritis. Elder Butler, Elder Tibbitts, and I carried him on a chair down into the baptismal font and baptized him on the chair. I held his legs down, and Elder Tibbitts performed the ordinance. It took us 4 tries to get him all the way under the water! I felt a very good spirit there, and the next day, as I confirmed him in Sacrament meeting.

We have continued to work with Sis. N, a less-active member, and Sis. S, an excommunicated person. They are both progressing very well, and we've been excited to see their progress.

None of our current investigators are keeping commitments right now, but we do have some good potential investigators that we're excited to go see. Elder Tibbitts will do great as the new district leader."

On Saturday, I got the call from President. I'm being transferred, and going back to being a normal missionary. Elder Tibbitts is taking my spot as the district leader. The only hint President gave me was that it's one of the "neat" areas in the mission and that he has been there "several times". I'm curious as to what "neat" means, I guess I'll be finding out tomorrow at transfer meeting. It's been a good experience to be a district leader for these past ten months, and I'm excited to go back to normality.

My time here in Goldsboro has just flown by. I can't believe it. It's been somewhat of a difficult area, but it's still been wonderful. I'm really going to miss the elders in my district, I wish I could just take them with me! I hope I will be able to serve around some of them again.

It was good to read the round robin letter. That's a genius idea, and I hope it keeps up! I really wish I could be there to see Max, Easton, Everett, Emma, and Jett. I haven't heard anything about Chris' new business. Or Aaron interviewing for a job. "Come on guys, I'm the boss, I need the info!"

Thanks for getting the ballot for me. You could just send it to the mission address, and then they'll forward it to me in my new area.

Song suggestions for the Cantata - one comes to mind. I think it's called "I Need Thee Lord", it was on Jessica's BYU-ID CD that she sent me. I really liked it.

Holy smokes, I can't believe Andrew gave his homecoming talk yesterday. I hope he's able to make the adjustment well. He really sounds like he was an outstanding missionary.

Well, I think that's about all I've got for now. I'm sure I'll have lots of exciting things to tell you next week! I love you all, see you next week.

Elder Casper

Monday, October 11, 2010

One Door

It's good to be able to e-mail you again. From my LTP:

"We were able to have a couple of good lessons with Bro. M this past week. We thought we were going to have to reschedule his baptismal date from the 16th to the 30th, but fortunately we won't. He's ready to be baptized. That'll be happening next Saturday. We're working to figure out how we'll baptize him (he's wheelchair-bound), but I'm sure it will work out. He knows that he needs to get prepared to meet God, and that's why he wants to be baptized. We're excited for him.

The other people that we have been teaching haven't been able to meet up with us and aren't progressing. I has been going through some health struggles with his shoulder. The A's have also been going through some health struggles. Z and C haven't been progressing. C put us off last week but we do have an appointment with him tomorrow.

We've spent a lot of time finding. We've got 3 or 4 appointments for this week with potential investigators, so hopefully we'll be able to add someone new to our teaching pool.

We met with Sis. S a couple of nights ago. She's an excommunicated person. We called and talked with you about teaching her. Anyways, she seems genuinely excited to become part of the church again."

So yeah, things are going ok here in Goldsboro. The past couple of weeks have just been exhausting for some reason. We aren't teaching as many people as we'd like, but we're trying to find more people and fulfill our purpose. And I guess it's not the results of your missionary work that make you happy, it's the missionary work. So we will press forward.

Next week is transfers. Don't know for sure what's happening, but I'll know by next e-mail. I've been here for 4 transfers now, which seems to be the average length of stay in an area in this mission. So if I don't defy the odds, then I'll probably be getting transferred next week. We'll see what happens though.

We had an interesting night this past week. We had an exchange scheduled with one of our members. He didn't have a cell phone and got lost. He never picked us up! We had to call and cancel our appointments because they were both with single sisters, and we aren't allowed to go over unless there's another man present. So when it became apparent that he wasn't going to show up, we went out in the car and tried to stop by some people. Then it was getting late (probably about 8:30ish) and we didn't have anything to do. I personally don't like to tract that late because people tend to be a little grouchier, but we felt like we should do something and not waste time. We decided to knock *one* door. We chose a door, and bam, he was a less-active, part-member who was not on the church rolls. He's going TDY to Las Vegas with the Air Force, but we're going to try to keep after him and try to teach him and his wife. It was a neat experience.

This week on Thursday we're going to have a full day of leadership training. The last ones we had were really good, I'm excited to go to it again.

It makes me a little nervous to think that in a week I'm going to have a new companion. Elder Tibbitts and I have been together for so long and had such a good time together. I love him to death. We're just so used to each other and everything, it's going to be weird to be companions with someone else!

So what is everyone from back home up to these days?...What are Blake, Flynn, Tyler, Landon, Mark, Jeff, Julie, Candice, Emily, Camie, etc. up to? Let me know if you can.

Well, I love you all. I know that this work is God's work. I look forward to e-mailing you all again next week.

Elder Casper

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Trip to the Temple

Sent 10/8/10

Hey everyone,

Today's been a crazy day, and I won't get to write as much in this e-mail. But I'll write what I can.

"This week we've been doing some finding, and as much teaching as we can. None of our investigators are progressing right now. Bro. M should be getting baptized soon, but it might not be on October 16th. Work has been eating up a lot of his time recently. Other than that, we're just trying to find new people to teach and continue to work with the ward."

Today we got to go to the temple for the first time in about six months. It was very peaceful and soothing. I always feel renewed after going through the temple. I'm so glad that we have a temple in this mission.

Last weekend was General Conference, of course. It was amazing. Truly amazing. I think even more amazing than the other ones I've had thus far on my mission. I can't wait for the conference issue to come out so I can start studying it. I really felt the Spirit as it went on. Pres. Monson has quite a big responsibility, and he seemed to be feeling it a little bit. I really liked Elder Christofferson and Pres. Uchtdorf's talks. They were both powerful.

We unfortunately haven't found out why K dropped us. S {their convert from a few weeks ago} is doing well, he's been super busy and his mother hurt himself in a car accident, but he is being assimilated into one of the wards up in Raleigh. He's living up there full-time now.

Thanks so much for the package! It was wonderful. I really enjoyed the family history stories. Do you have any more you could send me? I would love to make an effort to regularly work on family history work after my mission.

Is David Gledhill getting my e-mails? If he's not, could you forward them to him too? That would be great!

Thanks for getting into contact with Sam F. I love that guy, he is the man. I got a short e-mail from him, and I'll be writing him a letter on Monday. It's the weirdest thing - I'll go for weeks without getting a letter, then in one week I get 3 letters and a package. I certainly don't get as much mail as I would like, but it's not too bad. Thanks for the Round Robin letter! That's a genius idea.

Well, we're actually running short on time, so I'm going to have to wrap this up. I love you all, and will be sending a longer e-mail on Monday. I promise. Take care!

Elder Casper

Highs and Lows in Goldsboro

Sent 9/27/10

Hey everyone,

Hope you all are doing well. Excerpt from my LTP:

"This week has been pretty good. We had some canceled appointments and whatnot, but we still had some good things happen.

We taught K and C on Tuesday night. She loved church, and was doing very well. We were excited to see her again on Saturday. The next morning after our appointment, she texted us and told us not to call her or to come by anymore. I'm still dumbfounded as to why she dropped us. She knew that what we were telling her was true, and it was quite miraculous how we found her. But she has her agency.

We weren't able to teach Bro. M this week, but we did help him move. That was a good service opportunity. It's been a while since we've seen him and we're a little concerned that he's losing some of the gospel fire. Hopefully we can teach him again this week.

Sis. A also canceled the appointment this week, but according to her sister-in-law they'll be at church for sure next week. We'll see what happens, we are very anxious to see her succeed. She is a good lady.

We were able to get up with C yesterday. We had a good talk with him. We asked him to start keeping a study journal, too much of what we've been teaching him has been going in one ear and out the other. It's going to be a longer process with him.

We taught I this week. He's doing pretty well. He is slowly but surely progressing. He was sick and wasn't at church, but we still have high hopes for him.

We were very encouraged by the progress that C has made. He has been able to find a little bit of peace about the death of his wife. He committed to come to church, and he did come to sacrament meeting. He looked really nervous and anxious, we'll find out what his experience was like. Bro. Smith has been doing a great job of encouraging him and answering his questions.

Last night we stopped by the M family and had a good talk with them. We're going to start teaching Sis. M again. They've been having some marital issues which have been hindering both of them. Sis. M wants to learn and is interested though. I feel a lot of love for their family. I really want to see them succeed."

So yeah, the saddest thing was K dropping us. Again, she has her agency, and we're just going to keep pressing forward.

This week we had interviews with President Cotterell. It felt like forever since I'd been interviewed! We've had a new schedule put in place in the mission - we used to have interviews every transfer but now we have them quarterly. So it has been about 3 months, which is the longest time I've gone without an interview! It was good and very helpful. It was good to receive counsel from the person who is my spiritual leader. Towards the end of the interview, President asked me how my family was doing. I told him that Michael was supposed to be getting his call this week, and he told me that I could call him to find out where he's going! I didn't know we were allowed to do that either! I enjoyed the call with Michael, and I'm excited for his assignment to serve in Brazil. He will do well. I'm glad that I'll get to sneak in one more call before he takes off.

That's really good news about Dad and the Yankatanks! That's awesome. With all of these new orders coming in, you're going to be pretty busy at the shop! And I hope you're taking some good notes with all of this fishing that you've been doing with Justin Jenks.

Next Friday we will be going on a temple trip. We won't be having our next Preparation Day until then, so you won't get my next e-mail until then. Unfortunately. Sorry!

Bro. Jackson builds homes for a living. He has a construction company or something like that. In fact, he built his own home {This is where Elder Casper is living}. That's the biggest one he's built. Yes, I've got to know most all of the members here. I've been here since May, about 4 1/2 months now. At the end of this transfer it will be about 6 months. You never can tell, but I'll probably be getting transferred. If I'm not, my companion certainly will be. And life in the mansion is great! It's such a nice house, definitely a departure from where we were living before.

Care package? Sounds good to me. Hmm... some new music would be nice...

I have some requests. Could I get a four-generation pedigree chart and my priesthood line of authority? That would be great. Recently I've been bragging about my pumpkin I carved two years ago (holy cow!) at college to some missionaries, and I was wondering if someone could track down that picture and send it to me. Thanks!

I got a really good letter from Lee this week. He told me that he's enjoying it down in Argentina. One of our roommates, Sam F, went to the same mission. Lee told me that he got really sick and ended up being released after 9 months. Is there anyway you could track down his address? I would love to write him a letter and see how he's doing.

Let's see, I think that's about all I've got for this week. Thanks for the great letters. I hope you are all doing well, and I look forward to writing you next week.

Elder Casper

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My New Humble Abode

An Amazing Week

Sent: Mon 8/30/10 3:49 PM

Hey everyone,

I have had an amazing week this week. Let me tell you all about it.

"We were able to meet with S a couple times this week. On the first occasion, we ended up teaching his girlfriend. S invited her over for pizza and didn't tell her that we were going to be coming over to teach him, ha ha. So she explained her personal beliefs (which were a little different and not scripturally based) to us. She's not really interested in changing but it was worth a shot. He wasn't at stake conference because he was swamped with homework, but it sounded like he did make a genuine effort to get it done before Sunday so that he would be free. On Sunday night he went over to have dinner with the family of a member of the bishopric, Bro. Storms. After that S asked a few questions, and then we had a family home evening. It was wonderful. The Storms family is awesome! School is keeping S pretty busy, but he has quit smoking for over two weeks and gave up coffee a couple days ago. S is progressing very well and should be prepared for his baptism on the 11th.

We saw Bro. M once this week. He's still excited for his baptism on the 18th. We resolved his concern about baptism by immersion (he wanted to make sure he would be safe), and found out that we need to explain the doctrine of Christ better to him. We're also going to teach him the importance of the Sacrament. He wasn't at stake conference either, and I'm not sure why.

We had an appointment with C this week that was cancelled. For some reason it's very difficult to work around his schedule. He needs to help his family understand that it's a very high priority for him to be at church. We did get up with him yesterday, but we aren't going to be able to meet with him for more than a week. We'll keep trying though.

We had dinner and a lesson with Z this week. He didn't read like he committed to. We expressed our concern for him, and he committed to do better...He wasn't at stake conference either.

We weren't able to meet up with E this week, but he came to both sessions of stake conference and had a good experience. He's feeling good about things, but he's going to need to cut his ties with the Seventh-Day Adventist church first...

I wasn't there for the lesson, but Elder Tibbitts and Elder Thatcher had dinner and a lesson with a part-member family, the A's. They had a really good lesson and she accepted the invitation to be baptized, but wouldn't accept a baptismal date... But we have very high hopes for the both of them.
We had a couple of appointments with Sis. M that were cancelled. We're going to try again this week.

We had a teaching appointment sceduled with I, but somehow things got confused so he wasn't there. Apparently he was going to come to church, but the change in time for stake conference threw him off.

We had two pretty good lesssons with C. He really needs the gospel. He wants to do what is right, and he committed to come to stake conference on Sunday. He was sick on the morning of, though, so he didn't show. But we have another appointment with him tonight.

We went to see a less-active family that we helped move recently, the V's. We had a really good visit with them and taught them the doctrine of Christ. We invited their son P, who's about 11, to hear the lessons. He's excited and his parents are fine with it. We should be teaching them later on this week.

I wasn't there for this lesson either, but Elder Tibbitts, Elder Condie, and Elder Johnson got up with a part-member family, the O's and taught the doctrine of Christ. Bro. O said he's been searching for his purpose but doesn't want to change. Go figure...

We also got up with another part-member family, the S's, and we have an appointment with them tonight. Hopefully that goes well."

This week we also received three solid days of "leadership training". It was amazing. They taught us these new lessons that have just come down from the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve that emphasize portions of Preach My Gospel and are designed to help us become better teachers. I can't wait to continue to apply them.

Guess what happened yesterday? After stake conference, I went outside and Pres. and Sister Hancock were in the parking lot! It was wonderful to see them again. It's been a while!

Mom, it was really good to get your e-mail! It sounds like a lot of exciting things have been going on.

Michael, you're going to have a great time at BYU. Don't have too much fun, though. Please, please, please, PLEASE take your preparation for your mission seriously. You will be a much happier and more effective missionary if you do.

NO!!!!!!!!! I knew Max was going to forget who I was. That really stinks. Holy smokes, he's 4 years old now! That's crazy. Tell him happy birthday for me (not that he remembers me anyway).

So Elder Gandolph from the Smithfield Ward is serving in Hauni's ward? That's pretty cool, his picture is actually hanging up in the building that I am writing this e-mail from. He would definitely know where Goldsboro is. Smithfield's in my district and I've been there once on exchanges. Hauni, you should definitely try to invite him over for dinner sometime and get the scoop on NC!

I'm sorry to hear that you didn't have a very good experience feeding the missionaries, Meg. It doesn't sound like they are living their purpose. It's too bad when missionaries don't act in such a way as to gain the trust of the members. Don't give up on having future missionaries over. I will admit if I were in your situation I probably wouldn't ask them to teach my friends and family.

Uncle Brian's a stake president?! That's pretty awesome. There's a missionary who went home just about a week or two ago to the Portland area. His father works at Intel. Ask Pres. Casper if he happened to release Robert McCullough as a missionary.

Chandler, NC? I haven't been able to locate it on a map. Asheville is in the Charlotte mission, over by the mountains.

We finally closed our apartment and moved in with the Jacksons. They are great people. They're in their 60s and just wonderful. We live in a little apartment thingy on the side of their huge house. I'll include a picture of the house.

Thanks for the addresses. I have another request, Mom. I need an address where I can write Amy. Haven't talked to her since Priest Lake a couple years ago. That would be great.

Well, I hope you enjoy this letter. You're the greatest! I have a testimony that the gospel is true. Have a good week!

Elder Casper

Monday, August 16, 2010

A lot going on

Hey everyone,

Hope things are going well for you. This past week was very good. We have a lot going on and taught a lot. Our investigators aren't progressing as well as we would like, but missionary work has been very enjoyable.

"Unfortunately we were not able to meet with a few of our investigators. Sis. M got sick last Sunday, and that's why they weren't at church last Sunday. We weren't able to meet with them this week because she was still sick. But we have an appointment for this week, so it should be good. He didn't come to church yesterday, I guess they got home really late from somewhere the night before. C never returned our phone calls, he's been pretty busy. We stopped by his house and spoke with his grandma, and were able to set an appointment for this week (finally). He wasn't at church either. We haven't been able to get up with B yet, and he wasn't at church either. We had an appointment to see C, but someone had had some vehicle trouble or something and he wasn't able to make it. We'll set another one with him though. L and C haven't returned our calls. We'll try getting up with them again this week, and if we can't then we're going to drop them.
S is doing very well. He's been making changes in his life. He's trying to quit smoking again. He told his girlfriend that he's not going to marry outside of his new faith, so if she wants to think about marrying him she's going to have to become a member too. He had some things going on, but he went to the Goldsboro 1st ward sacrament meeting. He's progressing well, I think he will be ready for his baptismal date on Sept. 4th.
Z is in a tough situation. We went over there and he told us about how he prayed and received an answer that the Book of Mormon is true. He likes church and would go every week, but his family holds him back. In addition, his mother doesn't want to set a baptismal date because she doesn't think he's prepared. He wasn't at church again. He really is a smart kid, but he's just held back by others. It's hard to watch.
We had a good visit with E this week. We taught him about the Spirit World and the Resurrection. We also explained how to recognize an answer from the Holy Ghost. He told us that he was going to be out of town this weekend and wouldn't be at church. He's progressing pretty well, we have an appointment with him tonight where we'll try to feel out what his needs are a little better.
We had a really good lesson with Sis. M on Friday. We taught her about God as our loving Heavenly Father and about prayer. She committed to pray daily. She's not used to it at all, she grew up Orthodox and the only prayers she ever gave were recited. They were supposed to be at church but weren't! It was disappointing.
We also went and taught Sis. A. We mainly focused on how the gospel can bless families. She is pretty open and wants to be united on religion. She wasn't at church this week, but hopefully she will commit to come next week with her husband.
We also started teaching I, the brother of Bro. W. He is a very good man. He has come to recognize the vanity in churches and said that he would be baptized if he came to know that it was true. He wasn't at church either."

Holy smokes Dad, you will not believe what just happened. A member from Charlotte is visiting one of the members in our ward and he stopped in here at the Family History Library where I'm e-mailing. I had a very nice conversation with him. His name is Terry Cook, and he's Sherry Salisbury's cousin. He recognized me as your son, and said that I look just like you. He told me he sold you your first life insurance policy and that you should buy from him again. He asked me if you were still running the tire store. He is Corey Cook's uncle. He talked about how good of a kid Corey was, how he loved Washington, and how he had a drinking problem that held him back. He told me about how Corey loved the people - Spencer, Wes, Coach Riner, Bro. Edmonds, and others. He said that Corey had told them about me and how I was on Jeopardy. He was staying in a place called Clarkton when he died. He said that the missionaries had been to see his twin sister and his mother. He gave me their address and phone number. Maybe if I'm fortunate I can have the opportunity to see them sometime. He seemed like a really good guy, I'm glad I got to talk to him. Do we have any pictures with Corey in them? If there are any on the computer, that would be great if you could send me some.

Bro. Eppich broke his leg? Holy cow, that's pretty crazy. I hope he recovers quickly.

Say hi to Tyler. I hope he has a great senior year. I can't believe he's that old!

I can't believe Michael's going to be an elder and at school in a couple of weeks! Holy smokes, that's crazy.

Sis. Cotterell told us this week that a newspaper in Raleigh reported that this has been the hottest summer we've had in 67 years. Go figure. I haven't minded it too much actually. I guess I'm just weird. Last fall didn't do much for me, seemed like it was just a bunch of evergreen trees on the coast. Maybe I'll get to see more fall colors this autumn.

Well, that's about all I've got. I love you all very much and look forward to hearing from you again next week.

Elder Casper

Thursday, July 29, 2010

A great (and hot) week

This week's been great, just like always!

"We got two new investigators this week, which hasn't happened for me in a little while. We taught both Z and C this week finally. Z's a pretty smart kid. His family wants him to be baptized, but also wants it to be his decision. His mother is inactive and grandma is semi-active at best, so that's an obstacle. We have a baptismal date set with him for August. We taught C, and he's a really good kid. He's turned out pretty well so far considering the circumstances he's been raised in. His grandparents and mother aren't interested in the gospel, but they're nice and they are supportive of him becoming a part of the church. He also has a baptismal date set in August. They both disappointed us by not coming to church though! We'll keep working with them and see what kept them from coming.

We had two nonmembers come to church that we were super excited to have there yesterday. The first was Sis. M. Sis. M is a really nice girl from Romania who's married to a returned missionary. She's been to church a few times but has never been taught the lessons. They only came to Gospel Principles class, but it was great to have her there. Later on we were in Elder's Quorum and Sis. Beck, our ward mission leader's wife, told us she needed us. A man had just came into the building and asked for some information about the church. My thoughts immediately turned to a similar situation that happened last week, when we ended up talking to a homeless man who wanted us to vouch for him to get money from another church. So we went and talked to this man, and fortunately it was a different person. This man knew a Mormon in Raleigh and wanted to learn about the church. We told him that another service started in an hour, and he actually went home, changed, came back, and went to sacrament meeting and Gospel Principles with us! I was blown away, something like this has never happened to me. I talked to S a little bit and got some of his background. He's of Jewish descent and used to be active in that religion, but he thinks that the Jewish religion today doesn't really go along with the Old Testament. He also said that the Jews await the coming of the Messiah to create the nation of Israel, but it already exists! He is golden. We have an appointment with him on Tuesday and I'm really excited!

We had two recent convert/less-active lessons this week. One was with Bro. W. We were able to get him a large-print triple combination so that he can start reading on his own. He's such a good man. We also taught Sis. N, a less-active member. She's been trying to quite smoking and come back to church. We had a good lesson with her about daily scripture reading and gave her a Book of Mormon to read. She made us some little desserts to eat after the lesson, which I thought was a nice little gesture. I could tell that she did that out of a spirit of service and love. I hope she continues to do well, she's had a very good spirit about her recently."

So to answer your question, the potentials we got up with were C and Z. And I'm really excited to teach Sam. And yes, it does feel like there's a lot of potential here. We did find out where the S's live and we're planning on going to see them this week. I'll report on what happens next week.

This past week has been ridiculously hot. Temperatures into the 100s, and the humidity makes it worse. But I do prefer the heat to biking around in the cold. Last winter was awful! I really don't sweat that much compared to a lot of other guys, so I'm ok with the heat.

There were a lot of things that happened this week. All of my weeks recently have been jam-packed. One of the members, Bro. Tew, took us out to lunch. It was very enjoyable, he's studied a lot on the Second Coming and I've learned a lot from him about it. I'll have to tell you more about later. On the 24th the two wards had a potluck dinner at the church, followed by a little program about the pioneers. It was pretty good, the pioneers in the Willie and Martin handcart companies sure went through a lot.

I got a nice e-mail from David. He told me that his MTC date has been moved up to August. He's going to be gone soon! Crazy! I finally wrote Andrew last week. Hopefully he can find the time to write me back, Elder Stewart told me that when he was an AP he rarely got a Preparation Day.

On Sundays, we are at church by 8 AM and don't leave until 4 PM. We don't have time for a lunch break, and we study and eat dinner right when we get home. Then we go do some work for a couple of hours, and that's our day. Super busy. Today, we are going to shoot some hoops for a little bit, shop, relax, wash the car, and do some deep cleaning. We have to get the apartment spic and span because we will be moving soon. And write a letter or two. It's just a nice day to relax and take it easy. Unfortunately, we don't meet with very many members here at all. We are very rarely invited to a home for dinner, and that's really the way that we get to know the members. We get 1 or 2 exchanges a week. Most of our time is spent doing finding through our own efforts. It hinders the work but we just try to do all that we can do and serve the ward.

Elder Tibbitts' diabetes doesn't really hinder him much. He has to check his blood all the time but it's become an art for him. He has a little pump with a catheter so that he can give himself insulin when he needs it. So it's all good.

It was really great to get that update. Good to see the pictures of baby Jett and hear about Easton and Everett. Easton sounds like a funny kid. If I was to give you any advice about sharing the gospel I would just say seek the guidance of the Spirit to tell you what to do. Bear testimony of the gospel when he asks questions, show him, and if you feel prompted invite him to your home to meet with the missionaries. I agree that it can be a tricky business sharing the gospel with someone that you really want to accept it. Ultimately we just have to have faith and do all that we can do. "Boldness, but not overbearance", as the Book of Mormon says.

I am doing pretty well here. I'm enjoying the work very much, I've really learned a lot over the last couple of months. I've made a concerted effort to stay focused on the gospel, no matter what I'm doing. It's really paid off a lot and helped me out in a big way. You know how much I love the music that I listened to. It's been tough for me to give that up and not think about it or sing it to myself. But as I've pushed that out, things have been a lot better for me.

Well, I believe that's about all I've got. I love you all, and look forward to hearing from you next week.

Elder Casper

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Catching Up

June 21—

It's always good to hear from you. I'm excited for this letter this week.

"This week has been fun. We've been pretty busy. On Monday we taught M. He's a really good guy, but I'm not sure if he's going to progress. I don't believe the desire for him is there. We made Sis. M a reading chart and gave it to her. She started keeping that commitment yesterday. I hope that she will faithfully keep the commitment to read every day. If she does then I believe she will get baptized. Bro. W is as solid as ever. I'm worried for him though, because he doesn't have a friendshipper. He's a lot different than everyone else, and we have no idea who would be good for him. He hasn't read yet because of vision problems, but we blew up 3 Nephi 11 and have a large-print Book of Mormon on the way for him. His prayers have improved dramatically and he is always so glad when we come over and teach him. We moved his baptismal date back a couple of weeks to July 10 so that he can gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. We've also got a couple of really solid referrals that we're excited about. One of the kids in the N family has a friend named C. He's come to church with them a few times (I think, I've seen him there once for sure). He's 11, and he wants to take the lessons from us. He lives with his grandparents, hopefully they will be receptive to us too. Unfortunately the N’s are moving away, which takes away his friendshipper. We're excited to teach him. We also got a call from the assistants, who got us on the phone with Elder North. Elder North told us that there's a member in his branch/ward who has a referral named E for us. M, the member, is going to drive from Raleigh to be at the lesson with us. I talked with M on the phone, he told me she is really interested and wants to go to church. So we're really excited to teach her too. Definitely plenty to do here in Goldsboro 1st/2nd."

We had a zone conference this past week that was very good. Each mission has an AMA, the Area Medical Advisor, which is more or less the mission doctor… Our AMA is Dr. Liljenquist, who covers multiple missions. He has been home from his mission in Switzerland, German-speaking for I believe exactly 50 years. Isn't that where Grandpa served his mission? … He told us a few good things. He told us that Elder Scott talked about three types of people in the church: 1. people who have a testimony and are converted; 2. people who have a testimony but are not converted; 3. people who don't have a testimony and aren't converted. #1 people are the Elders Quorum president, Relief Society president, etc. #3 people aren't active. #2 people are the ones who present a problem for the church. They are active, married in the temple, have 2 to 3 kids, are poor home teachers, either don't accept or don't magnify callings, don't study, etc. Because they aren't converted and aren't obedient, they are vulnerable to the temptations of Satan. Most missionaries enter as a #2, and the mission field is the perfect place to become converted. He also told us that we go on our missions to suffer. Sounds kind of weird, but it's true and gives you some perspective. If you're working hard, there is going to be some degree of suffering involved. The natural man doesn't like to study, eat healthy, go to bed early and wake up early, exercise, and so on because there is some degree of suffering involved. If you can "suffer well", then you can do what the Lord wants you to. Zone conference was also great. We practiced listening to people and letting the Spirit direct what we say. A lot of times when we talk to/teach people, we come up with what our response is going to be while they're talking instead of truly listening to what they say. We need to stop that! So I'm working on that.

Happy Father's day, Dad! Wow, I can't believe that it's been a whole year since last Father's Day, when I spoke on faithful fathers. That was definitely a day filled with highs and lows. I can't say that I was too excited to leave on my mission at the time, but I knew what my duty was and if I wanted my life to go the way I wanted it to then it was something I had to do. I believe that this past year has been the most difficult year of my life, but it's been 100% worth it. If sacrifice is giving up something good for something better, then this past year has been my greatest sacrifice…

It seems that there are a multitude of people here that know Brandon Mackay. There's Bro. Howard of course. I told you about him before, his greenie area on his mission covered the Burbank, Columbia Basin, Connell, and Basin City wards (In about 1984, I believe). Last night we had dinner with the Storms family. Apparently Bro. Storms was his commanding officer when he first entered into the ROTC at BYU or something like that. The Storms are a great family, Bro. Storms is the second counselor in the bishopric (in the 2nd ward). I was tempted to tell them about the newspaper clippings prank (which I heard from Lance), but I decided it probably wasn't appropriate.

Oh and by the way, my companion is Elder Trent Tibbitts from Panaca, NV. I knew him for six weeks before he became my companion. It was a shock to find out we were together (he was in my district), but it's been great. He has Type I diabetes!…

And finally, it has been extremely hot and humid this past couple of weeks. I believe we're supposed to get into the 100s this week, which is going to be bad considering the humidity. It's a good thing I enjoy suffering now!

Whew, well this is the longest e-mail I have written in a long time. Don't expect too many more of these to be this long! I love you all and look forward to hearing from you next week.

June 28--

Another week gone by. Thursday was the 24th, marking one year since I entered the MTC. Holy cow, I can't believe it's been that long. That's just nuts!

I've got a pretty long excerpt from my LTP this time, and it should answer some of your questions you had, Mom.

"We didn't teach a lot of lessons this week, but we had a lot happen. First, the bad things. M is no longer an investigator, he's just not willing to read and progress in the gospel right now even though he knows he needs to. We had an amazing miracle turn into a letdown with J. I was on exchange in Smithfield, and Elder Tibbitts and Elder Weichers stopped by her house. She'd committed to come to church last Sunday but didn't show, which was a disappointment. As it turns out, she was in Winston-Salem last Sunday and she went to an LDS church there for 5 hours. She loved it, she said everyone was wonderful and told her about how they used to be a Baptist/Presbyterian/etc. but had found the true church. We had a return appointment for the next day. Then she called during study and told us she couldn't see us anymore. She called her preacher last night and he told her that if she associated with the church anymore she would be kicked out of her church and wouldn't be a Sunday school teacher there anymore. It was really depressing for Elder Tibbitts (I never have actually met her). I still think there's a good chance that she'll come around though, I guess only time will tell. Sis. M is having her faith tested right now. We'll see if she's willing to make the gospel a priority in her life by doing the small things. I pray that she will exercise her agency in a righteous way. The next week or two will let us know. We should have had two new investigators this week that we weren't able to teach. We called S a couple of times to confirm the appointment with her and she never bothered to call us back. We'll stop by again and try to set up another appointment though. Then the appointment with E had to be cancelled. M, her friend who lives in Raleigh, called us and told us something had happened to her mother (I think he said that she was in the hospital or something). So the lesson with her is going to be delayed a couple of weeks. We're going to give M a call at the beginning of next week and try to set something up again.

Now, some of the good things. For whatever reason, we've been getting more referrals than I've ever got my whole mission. And they seem like they're pretty solid, too. We're going to give C a call next week so that we can start teaching him (that's when he gets back from Maryland). We've had some decent missionary work lessons with members, where we've invited them to take part in the "Faith to Invite Plan" and focus on praying for missionary opportunities. Bishop Rouse gave us a call yesterday with another great referral. The grandmother of an unbaptized 12 year old named Z wants us to teach him the lessons and get him involved with the young men. We have a dinner/lesson appointment with them tonight, we're excited to meet him and teach him. Bro. W is just doing great. He has a really hard time reading because he has something wrong with his eye and because he's not the greatest reader in the first place, but when we explain the gospel to him in a way he understands he loves it. He's always so grateful for us to come over and teach him. He wants to share the gospel with his whole family. In fact, he brought his brother I to church yesterday, and we're going to start teaching him too. Yes! I believe the 2nd ward is going to start getting more involved with the missionary work. The leaders attended the stake missionary correlation meeting and came back with some things to work on. Smithfield is the only ward in the stake that has been doing the ward mission process, and they have had 8 convert baptisms this year (6 English and 2 Spanish). As it turns out, the leadership doesn't really understand what it is, so we're going to work with them to explain it and help them get it going. We're trying to get the exchange calendar back on track, and Bro. Beck (our WML) is working on getting a new teaching coordinator. We've also requested to have at least one exchange a week from somebody who's a member of the Air Force. I haven't been on base once during the two months I've been here, there's a bunch of less-active/part-member families that might just be needing the invitation back to church. So yeah, it's been a pretty good week and we're looking forward to an even better one this week."

So, some background on Sis. M and Bro. W. Sis. M is a black, single mom, maybe in her late 30's or early 40's (you can never tell with black people, they seem to age differently). She's been taught by missionaries a bunch and I think she believes the gospel is true, but she's never truly made the gospel a priority in her life. Bro. W is a black, older man, maybe in his late 50's or early 60's. He's one of the most humble men I have ever met. The missionaries knocked on his door 3 or 4 months ago, and that's how he was introduced to the gospel. He's not an educated man, he doesn't read very well and only went to high school, but he's a really good man. It's been amazing to watch him become a better person, his prayers are so different now than when they first started.

Two weeks of the transfer have gone by. I'm going to try and make a special effort this week to do the Lord's will and to make sure that my personal studies are bringing the Spirit into my life and putting off the natural man. It's easy to do good for the first couple of weeks in a transfer cycle, and then let yourself down as things become first comfortable and then casual. Elder Bednar told us that we should absolutely, categorically never be casual about anything that we do as missionaries.

I got an e-mail from David, he told me about his mission call… The New Mexico Farmington Mission is the right place for him, as we learned from Elder Rasband's talk this past general conference the call of a missionary is truly inspired of the Lord…

I'm sorry to hear about Chet Bauermeister. Kind of strange that you should mention that. This morning, for some unknown reason, Josh Isley popped into my head and I just wondered how he was doing. Really weird, I can guarantee that's the first time I've thought of him since I've been on my mission.

Thanks for sending the CD! It's great. And thanks for the pictures too!

So, I was on an exchange in Smithfield this week with Elder Morrell. His companion is Elder Weichers (who was in my district for six weeks when I was in Dunn). He came to Goldsboro. While he was here he looked through my pictures, and recognized a picture of Jessica. As it turns out, when he was at BYU-Idaho he was in Brittney's FHE group and knew Jessica. He told me some funny stories. Tell Brittney that T.J. says hi.

Well, that's about all I've got. I'm looking forward to biking around some more for another hot week. I love you all, and hope that you are all doing well. Until next week!

July 5—

This week has been pretty good. Not quite the week we were hoping for though. We've had some roadblocks with some of our potential investigators. The appointment with Z was cancelled because his grandmother was unexpectedly going out of town. She's going to be out of town for another couple of weeks, we have an appointment for Monday July 19th. We talked to M from Raleigh about his friend E, and he told us that her mother is hesitant for her to meet with us. He's going to call us back if the status on that changes though. We'll be giving C a call today, hopefully we can start teaching him this week. We weren't able to start teaching I either, he was going to be there for our appointment with Bro. W and for some reason he had to go to Raleigh instead. So, hopefully we'll be able to start teaching him soon. We didn't get any new investigators again this week. Not from a lack of effort though.

We also taught Sis. M and Bro. W this week. Those efforts went a little better. Sis. M is at least somewhat trying to read every day. She came to church yesterday, she was late but it was great to see her there. Bro. W was also at church, but he left after sacrament meeting because he had family from Florida in town. Bro. W is set to get baptized on Saturday, I'm excited for him. He's a really good man.

This week has been a little cooler, which is nice. I'm pretty much used to the heat by now anyways. This week is supposed to heat up again, so I'll get back to constantly sweating when we're out working. On Saturday night I got to see a few of the fireworks, they were shooting them off just down the street from where we live. They shot off some fireworks when I was in the MTC last year but I didn't see them (me and my companion decided to just go to bed). I'm glad you enjoyed your 4th of July weekend.

Mom, I really like the idea of you sending me snippets of the notes you took on your mission. I would definitely enjoy and appreciate that. It's good to hear about MIchael going out with the missionaries. I can't believe he starts his mission papers in July, that's so crazy!

Here in Goldsboro, we write our letters at the Family History Center, which doesn't seem to close down for holidays. Hallelujah.

Well, this letter feels kind of lame, not as much stuff in it as I've had over the last couple of weeks! We've spent a lot of time finding and not a whole lot of time teaching. We're always trying to get the ward involved with missionary work but it's a struggle. I'm starting to hopefully enjoy finding a little more. I've been focusing on asking good questions so that we can get into a gospel conversation and so that I'm not a gospel salesman. It takes a little more effort but it's more rewarding. And of course we're always trying to follow the Spirit, no matter what we're doing (planning, teaching, finding, etc.).

I got to go to a pig pickin' again this week. That is some good eating! Eastern Carolina barbecue is a lot different than anything we have back West, it's polled pork with a vingar-based sauce. I didn't care for it much when I first had it but I love it now. North Carolina has definitely grown on me more in the last little while. It was hard at first. I'm still in the United States but it's so different than back West. But I'm growing to appreciate it more and more as time goes on.

I'm looking forward to this Preparation Day. In a few minutes, we're going to go play some frisbee golf (which I've never done before) with the Boneys, a really great family in the First ward. They used to live in Zebulon and remember Elder Robertson pretty well. I love spending time with members.

That's about all I've got. I love you all, keep up the good missionary efforts. Until next week!

Elder Casper

Sunday, May 23, 2010

New area--Goldsboro, NC

May 10—

It was great to talk to you yesterday! I will say that I do feel really, really good. Here's an excerpt from my LTP.

"This week was pretty good. It was great to have the "Doctrine of Christ" and kneeling in prayer with our investigators reinforced by that zone conference. We applied them to our work this week and set two additional baptismal dates. Bro. M, Bro. W, and Bro. R are all currently committed to be baptized. We are cautiously optimistic about them, and hope to see them repent, keep commitments, and get on the path that leads to eternal life. We spent some time finding and getting QGCs, we can improve on it though. This week we're going to have more of an emphasis on finding, we hope to ultimately average 70 QGCs a week. I, like Elder Rhodes, am starting to feel like a real missionary. I feel like I actually really can find, teach, and baptize. We are going to have miracles here in Goldsboro!!!"

So yeah, I am loving my new area and companion. I can really see the Lord blessing this area to be fruitful in the next little while.

Unfortunately, I doubt I will see Bro. Card. He lives in Greensboro, which is just outside of our mission. It was close though! Greensboro, Goldsboro, almost the same thing. There's also Hillsborough, Roxboro, Tarboro, Ashboro, and a few other -boros here in NC. Don't know why but I guess it works.

I don't really have a lot to say, seeing as I talked to you yesterday, but I do love you all. Elder Hafen [from St. George] and I will try not to mess up on anything we do [a reference to Will Matheson’s prayer], no guarantees though. Did you realize that the basketball team that makes the most mistakes in a game usually wins? The ones that try harder tend to make more mistakes. Mull that one over for a while.

I love you! Talk to you next week!

May 17—

"Right now we have 4 baptismal dates. They are with Bro. M, Bro. R, Bro. W, and Sis. M. Bro. M is pretty accepting, but he has some health challenges. He didn't come to church yesterday because he was in the hospital due to his asthma. Bro. R understands that his baptism wasn't valid and wants to get baptized, but I don't think he understands the commitment involved quite yet. So we're working on it, he did not come to church but hopefully he will be there next week. Sis. M was at church yesterday and stayed for the whole 3 hours even though she was feeling sick. She has been investigating the church for a long time. Bro. W was at church yesterday for the first time. It was all pretty new to him but I think he liked it. I'm pretty sure he will get baptized on the day that he has set. We've also been working with Bro. D. He's an active nonmember, he just needs to get baptized! He says he has a couple of issues with the Doctrine and Covenants and where God's God is, but I'm sure that's not what is really holding him back. We prayed with him, he didn't get an answer. Any suggestions? Anyways, we had a good week."

We've got a lot going on right now and we're staying pretty busy. Elder Hafen is a great companion, I've really enjoyed working with him and getting to know him thus far. It's been fun! I like the ward here. There is an Air Force Base in our area (Seymour Johnson AFB), so there's a lot of military. They're not as involved as we would like but we're working on it. Last night I was talking to someone in the Goldsboro 1st ward at a meeting - Bro. Rex Howard. His greenie area on his mission was covering Basin City, Connell, Columbia Basin, and Burbank. Crazy! He doesn't remember anybody from it though. He mentioned Brandon Mackay being about 5 years old when he was there. Oh yeah, he used to live in the 1st ward too, apparently. What a coincidence.

It's really sad to hear about Corey [Corey Cook, a kid who lived in Connell and played football with Will. We heard he was killed in some kind of an accident involving drinking]. Jarom sent me the address he had for him here in NC (in Hope Mills). When I was in Dunn we got to go on an exchange there and we tracked down the address. We stopped by there, and apparently the family he was living with had moved out a month or two before and he had gone with them. He said that they had moved to Elizabethtown, NC. So if there's a news article about it, it will probably be in either an Elizabethtown or a Lumberton newspaper. Sad, sad, sad.

I'm glad to hear you've had some good weeks selling, Dad. That would be awesome if Costco picked up the Tire Squire!

I'm coming to realize more and more the importance of diligence. If things need to be done, now is the time to do them. Sitting around being a lazy bum doesn't do anything for you, it just makes you fall behind in life. And I'm working on the exercise thing! I did exercise on Tuesday morning like I promised I would. We've got a pretty sweet deal here - there's a YMCA not too far away from where we live and we get in free because we're ministers. How cool is that!?

Well, that's about all I've got. I love you all and am really enjoying it here in Goldsboro. Until next week!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Winter is finally over!

March 26-

First off, I have to apologize about the lack of an e-mail yesterday. I forgot to tell y'all, but we had a zone leader/ district leader council in Raleigh, so I was there almost all day. It was great, we received a lot of good instruction and rubbed elbows with President and a lot of great missionaries.

So, here's an excerpt from my LTP. "This week was good. I found a lot of satisfaction and joy out of planning to work hard and following through on those plans. I wish I would have been more wise and got myself involved in the planning when I was with Elder Moreno. The lack of input that I had to give when we were planning was pitiful. I don't want to fall into the "we're in a new area so you have to do all the planning" trap again. Anyways, we did a lot of finding, specifically tracting, this week. We found some potential investigators…There is one lady by the name of Cynthia who really seems like she could have some potential. We found her on the way back from the ZL/DLC. We were driving back and I was thinking how we could put our line in the water a little more for that day. I couldn't look at my planner to see the names of the roads that I had planned to tract (because I was driving), so I tried to remember. The picture of one of them on the map came into my mind, so we stopped there and tracted into Cynthia. She seemed pretty interested and was willing to listen. Not too much may come of that, but that was a little miracle to me. When we exercise our faith, we have miracles…

It's been good to get a new companion. I'm changing my ways and my attitude and I've recommitted to be accountable to the Lord for the work here in Dunn. I've found a lot of joy in being exactly obedient and planning to succeed. My new companion is Elder Cole Jensen from Farmington, Utah. He's been out for 21 months, so he's only got 2 transfers left. Puts me in an interesting situation, do I get transferred after only 1 transfer with him or kill him off (to use the mission lingo) and get a new companion for another transfer in Dunn (7.5 months)? President told me he doesn't know what's going to happen. It should be good. We're going to work hard and get a lot done this transfer. That's all I'm focusing on right now…

Thanks for the e-mail, Mom. I love hearing about how things are going back home. Going to the zoo, Six Flags, a baseball game - sounds like an incredible amount of fun. Mom and Dad, I really appreciate everything you did for me when I was growing up, in high school, in college, etc. I didn't always listen like I should have or appreciate you, but I certainly do now…

There is no Stake BBall in the Fayetteville or Kinston stakes. I don't know about the other ones.

Well, that's about everything I've got. There are two new Elders in the district, Elder Jensen and Elder Banner. Elder Banner goes home in 3 transfers, so he's an old-timer too. It's really crazy how much the district has changed in 2 transfers. When I first came in, it was a fairly young district. Now, Elder Thompson and I are easily the youngest at 9 months. We've got a district full of old fogeys! I'm still the district leader of course, and I look forward to being a better one this transfer than I was last transfer. And my wish came true, Elder Oslund got transferred to Fayetteville 3rd with Elder Brockbank. So we'll get to hang out and play some ball on Preparation Days.

I'm looking forward to General Conference this weekend. This week is going to fly by fast. This transfer is going to fly by fast, for that matter. Also, I think we're going to look at an apartment today. President wants us to find a new apartment, the cottage behind Bro. King's house that we live in now is old and it's time to move. Missionaries have been there since 1992. Craziness. So we might be moving here in a few weeks, we'll see.

April 3—

Well, this week has been a pretty darn good one. Here's a pretty accurate description of what went on.

"This past week was focused a lot on finding again. We did a LOT of tracting. We found a couple of families that I really feel have the potential to progress and become members of the Church. We found Connie and her family while I was on an exchange with Elder Van Orden. She seemed very interested, I'm excited for the return appointment. We were tracting around general conference sessions on Saturday and met Catherina. She was interested, so we set a return appointment before conference on Sunday. We showed up at 11 and taught her the Restoration. Her husband and children participated in the lesson, and she was very willing to accept Joseph Smith as a prophet. I'm excited to go back there as well.

Karen and Sis. B, who we have been teaching, have accepted soft baptismal commitments. I hope that they will both sincerely read and pray… We also met a really cool lady named Patty, who we are going to have dinner and a lesson with. We met her when we were receiving training to teach ESL classes from Sis. J. She's from Costa Rica, and apparently the missionaries would eat at her house all the time while she was growing up. We're going to teach her and her daughter, and possibly her son. In any case, this next week looks to be a good one."

So yeah, we've been working super hard. We've got some return appointments for next week that I'm really looking forward to. Half the work in missionary work is planning. I think I'm just really learning the importance of it and how well everything goes when you do plan well.

We have not found a new apartment yet. I think we'll move soon, but probably not for at least a month or two. We've found a pretty good location to move to. It would cut down on costs and be a better location for us. As it turns out, I am the senior companion by virtue of being the district leader. All district leaders are senior companions. Things are going well with Elder Jensen and I. We've done some good work together. We won't have too much time together, because he goes home in June. Either 4 or 10 more weeks. We'll just have to see.

Mom, that's a good point that you bring up about zeal. I had a lot of zeal when I was in the MTC. But when I left, it slowly dwindled and got pretty low. Now it's back up again and I feel great! Some things that have helped my get my zeal back up are putting more effort into planning, changing my attitude towards personal and companionship studies (personal studies fill up your gas tank, companionship studies build unity in the companionship), and the coming of spring.

I loved listening to conference. I think my favorite talk was Elder Holland's, for the second conference in a row. I'm so jealous you had that stake conference where he spoke. He definitely has moral authority. Pornography is a pretty important issue that always needs to be addressed, and Elder Holland's talk addressed it well.

We have interviews with the President tomorrow. 6 weeks ago I wasn't really looking forward to interviews at all, now I can't wait. There's a big difference when you're working and loving the work.

Sorry about the lack of pictures recently. We should start seeing some more wildlife now with the coming of the spring (it's been about 85 degrees over the past few days), it's been pretty dead here in the winter. I'm SO glad winter is over.

Today Elder Jensen and I got a ride from Bishop Ginn to the Fayetteville 3rd missionaries' apartment. Elder Oslund just got transferred there to be with Elder Brockbank. I'm looking forward to getting to hang out with him and other missionaries on the upcoming Preparation Days, Elder Oslund is such an inspiring and uplifting person. It's good to be around him…

Well, that's about all I've got. I love you all, and I love this missionary work. I know that the gospel is true, and that it blesses lives. Have a nice week!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Excerpts from last month's letters

Another week that has flown by. I'm really enjoying the mission, I can't really imagine doing anything else right now. It's such a blessing to be able to serve!

Missionary work: "Well, this week has been a pretty interesting one. Robert got baptized on Saturday. It was a pretty cool experience. There's only one person left to baptize in the L family, and that's Danielle. Danielle is definitely interested, I believe she lives in the boundaries of the Wake Forest ward but I'm not sure. The only thing that's really keeping her back is the fact that her husband doesn't really want anything to do with the church. We hope that his heart will be softened. This week was pretty surprising to us in that we were able to set two new baptismal dates with investigators. The first one is Chevy, he's read a bunch of the Book of Mormon and is really good friends with the bishop in Kinston. He asked us what he needed to do to get baptized, so we set a date with him. Then Dolores also told us she wanted to get baptized. She recently found out that she has cancer, and I think it made her really think about it. So, if all goes well she still get baptized this coming weekend! I'm pretty excited, we're working hard and enjoying it."

…As for Spanish, there's not a huge population in Dunn per say, but there are some here and there. There's a bunch in Angier and Benson, which are in our area. There are Spanish-speaking elders in our mission, maybe about 40 or so.

…Ok, well the missionaries in my district are Elder Thompson, Elder Skeem, Elder Van Orden, and Elder McDonald. They're fun, they definitely all have different personalities. I would say the most discouraging part of missionary work is doing work during the day. You don't find too many people at home and sometimes you wonder if it's worth your time. Today for P-Day we are going to go play some basketball/soccer/other sports with a bunch of other missionaries. Way fun, didn't get to do that at all in Harker's Island because we were too far away from the other missionaries.

…We worked harder this week and plan on doing better this next week. I'm just catching up on everything and trying to develop better habits. One of those includes cleanliness - we did some cleaning and the apartment looks better now. It wasn't horrible before, but it wasn't that great either. I'm also trying to do a better job in my e-mails, journal, updating the area book, planning, and lots of other things. I've got a ways to go, but I'm working on it.

… Thanks for the encouragement. I need all of it I can get! It's hard to choose the right when you're by yourself. I'm grateful to have the support that all of you give to me.

My goal for the next little while is to try and be led by the Spirit as much as possible. I've realized that when we are, the work becomes easy and miracles happen. I realize now that I screwed up with my music back home. I didn't listen to profane music, but I listened to so much music that I really wasn't sensitive to the promptings of the Spirit. I'm going to have to struggle with how much I listen to when I get back. I'm not gonna lie, listening to music is the thing that I miss the most. But anyways, I did have that insight. It's weird to look back and realize that you didn't always do everything right. I guess that's one of the blessings of being on a mission and getting a break from real life.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Charity is the key

Whew! I am glad that the Dunn library is open today. Most libraries are closed for the holiday, but today we had to stay in Dunn for Preparation Day. So, I get to e-mail today instead of tomorrow.

Missionary work: "We've had a real good week. We've had some interesting experiences. First off, we tracted into a lady from Mexico named Evangelina and Elder M taught her in Spanish. She *might* be golden, we'll see.

We were able to help out some of the ward members with their home teaching and get in contact with less-active members who hadn't heard from the church in years.

We got to teach Jesse again at Bro. A’s house. He's very humble and would accept the gospel if his parents weren't so anti-Mormon. Hopefully he will make his own decision.

We went over and taught Jordan and Nate again. Jordan is very well read, and tries to connect everything in the Bible to the way he believes. Instead of trying to prove him wrong, we pointed out where we thought he had misinterpreted something or where the Book of Mormon taught something on the contrary. It was good, we weren't confounded by him.

We started teaching Timothy, who is slightly handicapped, how to read. Hopefully when we're done with him he'll be able to successfully read the missionary pamphlets and understand the contents of them.

And then the craziest thing happened on Thursday morning - we were doing weekly planning when a man by the name of Jeff called. He's read a bunch of the Book of Mormon and wanted us to bring him the "other half" (the D & C). I went with Bro. M to teach him. He's going to require a little bit of work but I think he'll come along. It's truly amazing to see the Lord's hand in everything that happens. We're staying pretty busy and enjoying it."

So yeah, we are pretty busy. We're trying to get members involved too, which just makes us even busier. But busy is good…

.I had the opportunity yesterday to speak in Sacrament meeting on the subject of charity. Charity is so key in everything we do. If we don't keep the commandments out of love, then we won't progress. Missionary work is really hard if we do it out of a sense of duty. If we do it because of charity, it becomes much easier and those we share it with feel our sincerity. We need to remember not just what to do but why we do it.

Being a district leader is treating me pretty well. This transfer President Cotterell is giving us topics for our district meetings, which is nice. Last transfer they had us come up with everything, which to be quite honest was a little stressful. It should be slightly easier now. There was only one elder transferred out of our district. Elder W was transferred to none other than Harker's Island. He'll be treated well there, he'll definitely see a huge difference between Harker's Island and Fayetteville!

Speaking of Harker's Island, Elder C (who took my spot there) sent me a letter a few days ago. Bro. G is putting together a book of all the missionaries who served with him (he is the WML), so I need to fill out a survey and send it back. I definitely feel a close bond with the members there. I will be sure to visit them again.

Well, I'm glad everything seems to be going good. Let me know when the baby comes and when Michael finds out about BYU. Oh and yes, it has been cold. It snowed again this past weekend. What the heck!!! This weather has been worse than back home in Eastern Washington. And the humidity just makes it worse. Hopefully we're through the worst of it.

I think that's about all I have. I love you all and I have a testimony of this work. Until next week!

Elder Casper

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Mild North Carolina winter weather


Sorry I got behind on this blog. Here are the latest letters--

Jan 10—

I hope you all are doing well. This past week has flown by. It's been great, we've been working pretty hard.

This was my letter to President Cotterell: "This past week has been a good one. Elder Moreno and I are getting along very well. We both are learning a lot from each other. There are many good things happening in Dunn right now.

I believe this week could just about be described by this quote from Pres. Packer: 'Missionary work is work! It can be dull and repetitive and difficult, and at once exalting and marvelous, but it is work.'

We have 3 investigators with a baptismal date right now. Angela and Tia are solid, and I believe they will be baptized on their scheduled day. Unfortunately we've had to move Dolores' date back a week.

This week was pretty much spent biking around Dunn in the coldest winter they've had since the 70's. It was a lot of work, and there were some disappointments. One of those was Dolores' baptism being postponed. A couple of our investigators dropped us and told us they weren't interested. We'd even arranged for one of them to have a ride to church, and he cancelled on us the morning of.

But we've seen some miracles happen too. Last night we went out to the very edge of our area to drop off a DVD to a man who hadn't even ordered it, and when we got there he had a Book of Mormon on his coffee table with a bookmark in it. He had no idea where he got it but he had picked it up and started reading it the night before. He's read through the Book of Jacob. It was incredible, I can see big things happening with him and his wife.

Something else I've worked on a little bit this week is becoming bilingual. There are a lot of Hispanics in this area, and I want to be able to help teach some of our potential investigators. So in my spare time (not during study time), I've started learning some basic gospel Spanish. Not anything too fancy, hopefully enough so that I can contribute to what my companion says.

Anyways, I guess the point of that quote is that you can labor and labor in missionary work, and then God will place those who are prepared for the gospel in your path, and you will have marvelous experiences. Not because you or the work you do merit them, but because God is willing to give those gifts to us if we are willing to receive them. I hope you have a good week, I will see you at interviews."

So, I thought that North Carolina was supposed to have a mild winter. We've been biking around pretty much this whole last week in the 20's and 30's! Holy smokes, it has been cold! This cold mixed with humidity gets you good. Thank goodness I bought some earmuffs, or I would probably have an ear infection by now.

The members here are pretty good. We get an exchange 6 nights a week, which is just incredible. One of the members here actually served in the Spokane mission and spent a few months in Basin City! His name is Bro. Marc Junker. He told me that someone traced his outline to make that pioneer memorial that's in front of the library. He served from 96-98. He told me he remembers the Mendez family, he did a lot of Spanish work while he was here.

I will agree that my decision to serve a mission is by far the best choice I could have made in my life at this time. I've learned so much in the brief 6 months that I've been out here. I don't regret coming out here in the slightest!

Well, this letter is also going to be fairly short. We are going to go do some shopping and play some volleyball with a bunch of other missionaries after this. Preparation Day here close to Fayetteville is definitely a lot more exciting than it was in Harker's Island.

I hope all is going well for you. Don't forget to ask, seek, and knock. I love you all, and I guess I will hear from you in a week!

Jan 19—

Well, I hope y'all didn't freak out when you didn't get an e-mail from me yesterday. It was MLK Day, which meant the libraries were closed. So, President Cotterell said we could e-mail today.

From my LTP: "We've had some good things happen. I would like to specifically talk about one miracle that we saw last night. Here in Dunn we have to be very careful with our miles. We set up an appointment with Sherise, who seemed really interested and solid. But, we had to drive out there ourselves because it was a Monday night. We called her the night before and she said they were looking forward to it. So we drove all the way out to Angier to go teach her and her husband, and lo and behold they were not there. We were very disappointed that we'd driven all the way out there to get stood up.

So, we decided to stop by some of our investigators, two of which have a baptismal interview scheduled for tomorrow. We showed up there, and it was a visit that was completely unexpected yet desperately needed. Tia had a couple of questions answered, Robert (who is not committed to be baptized) had his testimony strengthened, and Angela received some support and comfort that she was really in need of. I know that the Lord wanted us in Angier last night!"

I'll tell you a little more about my area. The ward is pretty good. There are a lot of inactive members here, which is pretty much the same as everywhere else. Dunn is a bigger town. There's actually a Wal-Mart in it, ha ha.

The demographics are much different than my last area, if you know what I mean. Let's just say that yesterday was probably more appreciated here than in my last area. A lot more appreciated, ha ha. There's a good amount of ghetto, some nice homes, and some country. Plenty of people to talk to. I probably wouldn't want to come back and live here, but it's a good place for missionary work.

We have a full-time car, but we are very restricted on miles, so we mostly bike. Elder Moreno was born in Mexico and lived there for a while. He speaks Spanish and is half-Mexican. I think he said his mom is Swedish or something like that, which would explain why he doesn't look like a Mexican.

As a district leader, I conduct district meetings every week and do some training. I go on exchanges with the zone leaders to receive training from them and conduct exchanges with the elders in my district to give them training. A little more responsibility, and a little more work. It's good though, I enjoy it.

I'm glad you are enjoying yourself in Dallas, Mom. It has warmed up a lot over the last 3 or 4 days. I thought I was going to freeze here after those first 3 weeks. It's really neat to here about the niece and nephews that are on the way! I'm going to have lots of new family to meet when I get home! And they're going to be old, too. That's really weird!

Well, I'm enjoying myself. There are lots of ups and downs in missionary work. It's all about trying to keep perspective. You can work and work, then all of a sudden a miracle happens. You can have great things planned out, and all of a sudden it all falls through and goes to pot. You definitely feel comfort from the gospel, though.

Thanks for everything, everyone. I love hearing from y'all and staying in the loop. I'm grateful that I have so much support. The gospel is true and changes lives. I'm so grateful for it! I hope you all have a good week, and I can't wait to hear from you later.

Jan 25—

How are you all doing? I'm glad to hear Mom made it back safe and that Derek's going to be getting some help. Here's some of my LTP:

"I hope you are doing well. This week has been a tough week numbers wise. We only got 1 member present lesson. But, a lot of good things happened. We got two new pretty cool investigators. Jordan and Nate go to Campbell University in Buies Creek (which is in our area). Jordan's done a lot of studying about the LDS church, and Nate wanted to learn more about us. We will see where that goes, they are both highly intelligent individuals.

It also took a lot of time to prepare for the baptism at the end of this week. It was a great baptism. Angela and Tia joined the church, and I believe that Robert will follow their footsteps very soon. We're also starting to get the members more involved in missionary work. We're speaking in next sacrament meeting, and we're excited to start implementing the faith to invite plan. There's going to be a lot of good things coming, for sure."

So yeah, basically there's a lot of good things going on right now. The mission is starting to put a real emphasis on missionary work. Sweet! That definitely makes our job easier and more satisfying. More teaching, more baptisms, less tracting. Not no tracting, because it's important to tract, just less. I know that President Cotterell is truly inspired and that as we follow his counsel, we will have success and be blessed.

Thanks for all the info on what's going on back home, Dad. Keep trying to share the gospel. PMG tells us that "no effort is wasted". The success doesn't come in the invitation accepted, but rather in the invitation extended. Just remember that offering the gospel comes naturally out of relationships where we love and serve others. Everyone who's reading this should carry around 4 or 5 pass-along cards to give out to anyone that they might happen to randomly meet. Give people a chance and extend the invitations. It doesn't hurt our chances for success!

Well, I love you all. I'm grateful for the support I receive from you. I can't believe that my mission is already more than a quarter over. Ridiculous. Again, I love you all and I will hear from you next week.

Feb 2—

This past week has been an interesting one. This weekend there was a storm here. We actually got snow, and everything pretty much just shut down. Church was cancelled, so we won't be speaking for another 3 weeks. We had a bunch of appointments that cancelled because of the weather. And, the library was closed yesterday because of it, which is why I am e-mailing today instead. But, I guess that just happens sometimes. We got some good work done before that.

"We did get some good things done. Angela and Tia are doing great, and we set a baptismal date for Feb 20th with Robert. He's a great guy, it's amazing how much his heart has softened. We've been working with Dolores some more, and told her she needs to be progressing or else we can't teach her. We've had to cancel two dates with her, which was disappointing. Hopefully she'll be a little more motivated. We met some really cool people and got some solid potential investigators. So we're looking forward to working with them. I'm glad to be here, there's plenty of work to do."

So, yeah. I was expecting North Carolina to have a mild winter, but since I've been in Dunn it has been anything but mild. Right now it's about 36 degrees and raining. I can't wait until spring.

I'm doing pretty well. Missionary work is a lot of work, and I'm coming to know my inadequacies more and more as time goes on. But, I'm happy.

Mom, I'm glad that you got your journal back. I can say that I have kept up on my journal. I've only missed one day. I do need to do a better job, though, and write in more detail. Sometimes my entries are only like 3 sentences. But, I think it's better to do that than to not make an entry.

Has Michael heard from BYU yet? I hope he got in. Mike, I told you I would send you something for Christmas/BDay. Do you have any requests?

I've got a couple of requests. First, do your best to invite. Success is in an invitation extended, not necessarily accepted. Secondly, a couple of less noble requests. Mom, could you send me your recipe for chicken noodle soup and my book "Where's Mom now that I need her?" That would be awesome. Also, could you try and find out what Regan R’s mission address is? He's in the Phillipines and I need to write him a letter, he sent me one about a month or so ago. You might be able to find it through my Facebook, ask Chris or Derek for that. That would be great!

Well, thanks for everything. I'm grateful for the love and support I feel for all of you. I love you all. Have a good week!