Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Busy, busy, busy....

Que transas familia?

I'm doing well here in Salem, and a lot has happened this last week. We now have FIVE baptisms set for january! Four of them are on the ninth, and the other one is on the 30th. I would have written this yesterday, but we had our mission-wide Christmas party, which was pretty fun, but it took up almost our entire day, so that's why I'm writing today :-P

One thing I've noticed about being on a mission is that if you don't make an effort to write stuff down that happens during the day, you don't remember any of it just because SO MUCH happens! Like this last week, we had zone conference for the first time, which wasn't too bad... There were a few talks, a training on how to teach some certain doctrines, and then a practice. Oh, and at the very end, there was a doctrinal discourse by president Dyches about the Holy Ghost. That was pretty cool actually.

Aside from zone conference, Smithee and I had an exchange with the Zone leaders up in Tigard, so Smithee and Roush stayed in Salem, and I went up to Tigard with Sotelo. We knocked doors for about six hours that day, and had quite a bit of fun. We knocked into a Baptist family, who actually let us in, and let us teach them! It was seriously saweet because usually, baptists are in your face about being saved by grace and will flip when you pull out the Book of Mormon, but with this family it was different. They were seriously so humble, and so prepared to hear the gospel. We taught them the first lesson and got to the book of mormon, and I kinda braced for impact, thinking he was going to freak out on us, but when I extended the invitation to read, he was hesitant at first, saying that the bible was the true word of God, but after explaining the concept of being able to read and pray for himself to know (and after Sotelo cracked open the Book of Mormon to 2nd Nephi 29), he accepted to read it and pray to know the truth of it. Needless to say, awesome.

Aside from that, I thought I'd find it harder to be away from home during Christmas time, but there really isn't much time to feel homesick out here just because we are so busy all the time! I absolutely love the people here, and am excited to spend Christmas with them... even if I only understand like 50% of what they say haha. I feel like my spanish kinda took a dive for a bit, because some people speak so freaking fast, especially if they're from Mexico, I mean, when Smithee speaks, I understand like everything he says, but when we teach people from Mexico, holy crap it's fast. Oh well, I'll get it, it's just a matter of time and hard studying.

All right, I apologize everyone that this letter isn't too terribly long, but I've got to get going.

I love you all, and I wish you a merry Christmas!

Con todo mi amor,

-Elder Moondogg

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The atonement is most important above anything else

Hola familia y todos los otros!

Oh my gosh the mission has been great this last week... I know I say that a lot, but it seriously is so awesome every week. There has been a whole mess of things happening this week. Silvia y Guadalupe have both agreed to be baptized the 9th of January which is awesome! Other than that... gosh I'm trying to think what else happened this week. It all kind of blurs together, but ah it's so much fun!

We've been pounding food as usual, and yesterday, Smithee and I decided to do some "conditioning" eating so that we can eat more at our meals with the members haha. We went to this mongolian barbecue place where you pick the stuff you want and put it in a bowl, then let them cook it up for you it was delicious! Oh my gosh I thought I was gonna die though with how much I ate... Three HUGE plates of the stuff and then ice cream after that haha. One thing I've come to find out about the mission from the spanish elders especially, is after meals, we usually go take what they call a "food coma" because the food is so heavy and so tasty, that you really do have to lay down and take a little nap afterwards haha.

Oh I tried something the other day at a member's house, and I really liked it! It may sound disgusting, but trust me, you'll love it if you try it. They gave us a cup with pistachio jello cubes, and then poured eggnog over the top of it, and you eat it with a spoon! Oh my gosh it is fuhreaking good haha. It's funny because Smithee is peruvian and most of the members are from Mexico, and people from Mexico speak kind of "dirty" spanish and use kind of corrupted words or funny phrases that none of the other latino countries use, and he says I'm starting to sound like a dirty mexican with my spanish haha. It's okay though, I really don't mind at all... maybe it'll help me fit in a little more haha. Smithee was telling me one of his old companions actually went tanning and dyed his hair black during his mission for kicks and giggles.... maybe I'll try that... no not really, but it sounds pretty funny right?

What else what else what else.... hmmm.... We haven't had time to go knocking doors very much this week minus one blitz that we went on with the english elders, which was pretty cool. You definitely find some...uh... interesting characters when you go out knocking doors haha. This time though, it was pretty cool. We knocked into this kid named Jarod who had graduated and now is living at home and going to Chemeketa community college, and doesnt really know what he's doing with his life. It was cool because he had been going to some different churches, but hadn't found one that answered questions he had... like why are there so many churches? Why did they have prophets in the bible, but not now? yeah... un investigador de oro. Myself and elder Chapman (Elder Cox's companion) ended up teaching him the first lesson in english, and it ROCKED! Like I'm seriously so excited to see how their next appointment goes, because he was way stoked to read the book of mormon and find out for himself if it's true. Ah it was so sweet I don't even know what else to say. Seriously, in all the crappy hours of knocking, it makes it all worth it when you see someone feel the spirit.

There was another guy that same day that we were knocking that elder Chapman and I ran into who i'm pretty sure was a baptist. We saw him and said hey how's it going, and I told him we were out and a bout talking to people and asking them about their beliefs. After I said that, he said, "well that's funny, 'cause I've got some questions for you." As soon as he said that, I thought to myself 'oh boy, this could get ugly'. His first question was, "what do you think is the most important thing in your religion?" I told him that the atonement of Jesus Christ was the most important thing above anything else. After that he asked if we are saved by grace ( this is what made me think that he's most likely a baptist) so I said yes, through grace we are saved... through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ is how we can have that. When I told him that, he looked pretty confused.. I bore testimony of that to him, and he started to get choked up, and said "that's it. That's what it's all about." We left him with a pass-along card, as well as James 2:20-26... muahaha. I'm hoping he'll really take that passage to heart because faith without works is DEAD! That's the most important thing! Yes, faith is key, but we show that faith, by what we DO! ah I freaking love the gospel.

It's funny, because I've been studying Jehova's whitness basic doctrines, and oh my gosh I'm so glad I'm LDS. Not to bash on them, well, yes to bash on them, their religion sucks! I would never want anything to do with them. But I shouldn't be smashing on them right now haha.

Anyways, Oregon has finally settled back down into it's normal self.... rain, clouds, bleh. haha. It's not too bad though, so no complaints here. I'm loving it right now. I seriously think, though, once I get back, I might want to go to a spanish branch. Ah its just so nice to be among such humble, kind-hearted people. I'm really loving it here in the mission.

I don't have too much else to say, aside from Merry Christmas everybody, This is seriously such an awesome time of year to remember our Savior Jesus Christ (unlike the JW's) and really come to realize what he did for us while he was here on earth. I love you all, and hope everything is going great!


Elder Moonshine

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

First Week = AWESOME!

Buenos tardes familia!

Oh my gosh it has been a wild/crazy/absolutely awesome week!!! There has been so much that has happened in the past seven days, I don't even know where to start.

Well, first off, we went knocking doors (tocando puertos) last p-day at about 7 at night for the first time, and I was scared to death because A: I don't know spanish, and B: because people speak so fast! Haha I'm hoping that with time, it will get better, and I'll be able to better understand what people are saying.

Here's the amazing story for the week though... Wednesday morning, we decided to go knocking doors in an apartment complex in Keizer, and we knocked into a lady named Silvia. I started by asking her a few basic questions, and it has been incredibly cold the last week, so she decided to let us in and teach her more after talking to her for about five minutes. We ended up teaching her the entire first lesson, in which she ended up crying. Yeah, absolutely crazy! Right after the opening prayer, she just broke down. I guess as missionaries, we're used to having the spirit with us all the time, but it really touched her heart. After we finished the lesson, we committed her to read the book of mormon and pray to know if it was true and if joseph smith was a prophet. Amazingly enough, we were at a dinner that night, and SHE called US saying that she AND her daughter Guadalupe had both read, prayed, and felt that it was true! I couldn't believe it!

The next day, we went over again and her husband Salvador was there along with their daughter, and we went over the restoration one more time to make sure they all got it, and during the lesson, her daughter was really touched by the message as well, it was amazing. We gave them a few more scriptures to read, and they kept their commitment again!

After that, we came a third time, shared a short message, and asked them to attend church on sunday. They did. It was absolutely golden too because it was fast sunday, so they got to hear the testimonies of all the members of the branch, it was great. Oh, another cool thing I failed to mention, they agreed to a "suave" (swaw-vay) compromiso de bautizmo or a soft baptismal date, which is when we ask them when they find out that these things are true, if they will be baptized, and Silvia and Guadalupe said yes!

I'm trying to think what else happened this week... Oh! I found out I can email people other than just family, which is nice, so any of you that want to send me emails, feel free, just understand if I'm a little slow in responding, okay? Missionary work is crazy busy all the time, especailly when there are only two spanish elders covering all of Keizer and half of Salem. Seriously, our normal schedule is something like this:

6:30: Wake up, exercise 30 minutes
7:00: Shower
8:00: personal study
9:00: companionship study
10:00: Language study
11:00: Lunch
12:00-6:00: Knock doors/teach lessons
6:00: dinner with members
7:00-9:00: knock doors/teach lessons
9:00: Plan
9:30-10:30: read/study
then CRASH, and repeat haha.

It's been crazy though, seriously, like this last friday was absolute insanity. We have enough investigators now, that we almost dont have any time to knock doors. We had SEVEN teaching appointments in a day, and we pushed some to other days because we didn't have time. Seven doesn't sound like a whole lot, but usually they end up being about an hour a piece, so that's seven hours of teaching in a day! I feel pretty worthless when I try teaching in comparison to elder Smithee, but he's teaching me a TON, and I'm getting more and more comfortable with spanish every day.

It's kind of funny, Smithee is basically a scriptorian because of how much he has studied the bible and book of mormon while he's been out here on his mission, and so whenever he runs into someone who likes to bash on the LDS church, he is a fuhreaking MACHINE! I actually gave him a nicname after this last experience because he thoroughly destroyed the points she was trying to trash about the mormon church... I've decided his new nicname is 'Master Mahan' haha. I don't want to get into details of it, but it was just really funny because every point she brought up, he totally trucked her...with her own bible! If you ever run into someone who says that they they don't believe we need prophets, check out Amos 3:7, or Ephesians chapter 4... they're awesome. Oh, and look up a man by the name of Barnabas... he was a prophet after Christ left the earth. Oh, and if anyone tries to say that God no longer talks to men, or that there can be no more scripture written because of what it says in the end of the book of revelations, check the chronological order of when the books in the bible were written... Revelations isnt even the last book! Plus, read Mormon 9:6-9, it's one of my favorite scriptures right now.

One point I need to make here... we aren't out here looking to bash all the other churches and trash their faith or anything of that nature, or even contend with people who "started it first". One rule Smithee gave me on when to "bajar la cana" (lay down the law), is be courteous and polite and all that until they attack the restoration of the gospel... I'm not too worried about it anyways because I can barely speak Spanish, much less argue in it haha.

On a different note, I'm absolutely loving the food here! Oh my goodness, it's like having Red Iguana every day, but better! Like seriously, you all know that I love tacos Don Ramon, but since I've gotten here, I've come to realize that that's just how home cooked mexican food is...Delicious! Oh my goodness it's a good thing we get to exercise in the mornings, or I'd probably get fat haha. Seriously though, it's awesome to have such great members in the branch here in Keizer, because we never have to cook! Smithee and I are kind of in a rhythm of just having a little cereal for breakfast, and then kind of starving ourselves until dinnertime because the members feed us so well haha. They'll lay down a plate of taquitos in front of you, and as you're filling up and finish one plate, BAM here comes another plate, until you just have to give up haha there is just so much food and it's so good you don't want to stop! Once you're full and you say "estoy lleno", then they break out the mexican hot chocolate and bread. Oh my goodness you guys have got to try this stuff it's amazing! I'm seriously gonna get the recipe of one hermana's hot chocolate because it's amazing. It has cinnamon and I can't tell what else in it, but oh my goodness it's just so creamy and good! anyways, I've gotta stop writing about this or I'll get hungry haha.

On a spiritual note, I have been loving my personal study time, it's been great. I'm actually going to invite you guys to follow along with me if you like. So far, I've been studying things strictly pertaining to lessons, but since I've gotten here, I've come to realize there are some basic doctrinal questions, as well as some that I've just never thought about that other religions bring up that you have to be able to answer, like what is the nature of the Godhead? What is grace? Who is Jehovah? What is priesthood authority? Why did Adam and Eve start out in the garden of Eden at all, instead of being put directly on earth? Some of these are pretty heavy questions, but they get asked pretty often, so I've been studying them. For my personal study this week, I want to be able to answer the question, what is priesthood authority and where did it come from? In my next email, I'll include some of the cool stuff I find, all right?

Well, this is turning into quite a lengthy email, and I apologize to everyone who is going to read it haha, but I love you all, Mom, Dad, Katie, Michelle, Josh, I hope you all have an awesome week, and I hope you know I'm thinking about you, and praying for you.

All my love,

~Elder Moonshine~

Monday, December 7, 2009

Elder Mooney and trainer Elder Smithee

We received a letter from Kurt's Mission President Dyches letting us know Kurt arrived safely in Portland and was assigned to work with his trainer (senior companion) Elder Smithee in the Los Salados Del Sur (Spanish South) Zone. He said "Your son's companion has been prayerfully selected and he will be a fine trainer for your son as he begins his missionary service." He sent these pictures which, once again, are a little fuzzy, but give you the idea.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Airport picture

Just by coincidence, Kurt's Uncle Randy was on the same flight Monday when Kurt flew out to Portland! They got to talk for a few minutes, and got a picture, although blurry. Still, it's so good to see his cute mug!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Goodbye, MTC; Hello Oregon!

Hola Todos mis amigos!

Holy cow a lot has happened in the past week!

Our turkey day in the MTC was WAY bomb because elder Holland came and gave basically a 2 hour doctrinal discourse it was sweet! All the missionaries had written down questions the week before, and he did a sort of Q&A session with those, and it was cool, because during it, I got a lot of personal questions answered. After that we ate tons of food and then did a service project where we put together med-kits for... oh shoot I can't remember who! I think it was just as a general service for the church. After that, we said our goodbyes in our district on sunday night, which was kind of sad, knowing i'm not going to be seeing any of them for the next two years, but it's okay, we're all going to be having a blast, right?

We had a really spiritual experience sunday when we had a kind of final testimony meeting where we shared our favorite scripture, then bore testimony. For mine, I chose 1st John 3:1-3 which says this : "1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not.
2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.
3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure." The reason I chose this scripture is because it describes exactly what we are, and what we will become after this life: like him. God loves us so much, and we literally are his children. This alone is so beautiful to me, so empowering, so simply wonderful. Ah, I am so excited to be able to share this message here in my mission!

Oh, I need to finish my story here haha sorry about that... After we said our goodbyes, we headed out of the MTC for the first time in nine weeks at like five in the morning. Ah it totally trucked me getting up that early, but such is life right? It almost seemed like we were breaking the rules as we drove away from the MTC just because we've been there for so long... inside those walls... not able to go anywhere haha. Don't get me wrong, in all honesty, the MTC was seriously such a great experience, I loved it, but I am so excited to start legitimately preaching the gospel. Anyways, so we traveled to the airport and got there at around seven. Then I called home and got to talk to the family for the first time in what seems like... oh... I dont know, a week. haha. it really does kind of seem like that though, I dont know why. Time seems to fly while you're on the mish. Well, as far as these last two months are concerned at least. In some ways, I feel like I haven't been home in forever, but in others, I feel like I just left a little while ago.

Anyways, I digress. Back to the story. So it turns out that uncle Randy happened to be on the same flight as I was going up to Portland, so that was funny talking to him in the airport for a while before we got on the plane and such. After a short hour and a half flight, we arrived in PDX, and then I met my mission pres. when we landed. He is such a cool guy! I totally love him already, he seems awesome. Then i met my companion, whose name is Elder Smithee. He is a peruvian who actually went to Lehi high school and played football for them haha. Even though he went to the most pitiful football-playing high school ever, he is a pretty awesome guy. I am seriously so stoked to have him as a trainer because he is so spiritual... it's kind of weird though... He reminds me almost exactly of Kyle Linehan! He talks just like him and even looks a little like him! Hopefully you'll be getting a picture of us soon, but yeah it's pretty funny, he's way cool. Speaking of Kyle, is there any way I could get his address? i've gotta write that punk and get him thrown in the font haha.

Oh something interesting that i just found out, I'm not going to be using my bike as a spanish elder... like ever. So, i might be sending that bike back sometime haha. for now, it's just chilling in the apartment, but yeah. Sad huh? It's kind of a good thing though... our area that elder Smithee and i are assigned to is HUGE! It covers half of Salem and all of Kaezer! So having a car is kind of nice for getting to appointments... I also found out that we have four baptisms lined up in about three or four weeks which is awesome! I am so excited!

So I realize now that i'm out here, that my spanish totally and completely fuhreaking blows haha. I thought I was learning a lot about spanish, but I have come to the conclusion that you don't learn like anything in the MTC about the language, I swear. I can read spanish, but holy crap trying to understand what people are saying/speak to them is like the most impossible thing ever it seems like haha. Oh well, I'm a greenie and i know it, so I'll just keep studying and speaking even if i sound like an idiot haha.

Oh man the first night we were here though, it was ridiculous. I had lunch at one, dinner at four, then another dinner at six and they were all MASSIVE! I seriously thought i was gonna hurl cause they crammed so much food into me haha. Especially the last meal we had, because it was with a mexican family who made this killer carne asada and served it up with rice and beans.... I just couldn't say no when they offered more, so two and a half plates later, I was feeling pretty full... then they told me there was mexican bread and mexican hot chocolate that I just HAD to have, so i ended up eating it. It was soooo good but man it killed me haha. After that, we headed home, did some quick planning, and then I konked out in about 3 seconds flat haha. Then I woke up, and came to find out that tuesday is P-day! hooray! haha.

Aside from that, I can't really think of anything else to write except I love you, I can't wait to hear from you again, and I hope everything is going well on the home front.

con todo mi amor,

~Elder Moonshine~

P.S. Mom, Dad, Katie, Josh, Michelle, even little Max E. Padd, i love you all and miss you all SO MUCH! i'm glad i got to talk to you all on the phone, it was great to hear your voices. Keep doing well, okay?