Sunday, October 16, 2011

The Grand Finale!

We picked up Elder Mooney from the Oregon Portland Mission on Tuesday October 4th, had a chance to visit some of the families and missionaries he worked with, and had a wonderful visit. We arrived home Friday Oct. 7 where he was released as a full-time missionary. He reported in Sacrament meeting on Sunday Oct. 9th. It is bitter-sweet to have him home - so awesome to see him and feel his sweet and strong spirit, but a little sad that his missionary adventure is over.

















Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Time flies when you're having fun...even more so when it's with those you love

2011 September 26

Yikes! Last letter? How the heck did that happen!? Oh well... guess that means we better make it count then, right? With the amount of entertaining stuff that happened this week, that shouldn't be a difficult task (aside from the typing part :-P).

Monday, I'm not even gonna bother writing about because it was pretty worthless/frustrating haha. We were supposed to have a few appointments during the day that fell through, but still pulled time out of our P-day, so that night after (a failed dinner appointment), we decided to take advantage of our p-day time and catch up on some much needed R&R to get the batteries charged up for the week.

Tuesday proved to be an eventful day haha. We decided to spend the majority of the day in Canby and try to contact a couple of potential investigators as well as knock for a few hours. One of the places we stopped at was the house of a kid named Danny that we had met a week or two ago. Unfortunately, he wasn't there, and there was some super paisa guy who was too lazy to even get off the couch to say hello to us. In spite of this though, we talked to him and tried to get him to open up. We were a little worried about talking to him because the rest of his family belongs to the "Luz del Mundo" church (an apostate branch of OUR church that got its start in Mexico), and they're not exactly friendly with the Mormon missionaries at times haha. The sweet thing that happened though was that he ended up being completely golden! We told him we were missionaries from the church of Jesus Christ of latter-day saints, and he said "another church? There are so many nowadays, and I don't understand why. From what I've studied, I know that there has to be one true one, but I don't know how I'll ever end up finding it. I know it can't be the Luz del Mundo because of the things they do, and it's DEFINITEY not the Catholics... I just wish I knew how to find it." Like I said earlier: golden. We told him we knew which one he was looking for and how he could find it. We had a really good lesson with him about the great apostasy and restoration of the one true gospel. A couple of times he tried to bring up some "money" questions to get bashy with us, but the spirit was so strong as we taught and testified to him that he couldn't cause any contention... it was cool! Oh, so that you know, "money" questions are the ones you hear from different churches: for the Catholics, it's "do you believe in the virgin Mary?" With the non-denominational Christians, it's "are you saved?" With the Jehovah's Witnesses, it's "what is the name of God?" and with the Baptists, it's "in what name do you baptize?" Yeah. Money questions to start contention haha. Like I said though, with the spirit that was there, it wasn't possible to get bashy, and he ended up accepting to let us come back. He even committed to read and pray about the book of Mormon!
Later that night, we had a little lesson with Jorge where we just hashed out what it was that we were gonna need to cover for his interview, and it turned out well. He's a typical nine year-old as far as attention span goes, but we've found some ways to keep him interested haha... you'll see how later on in the email :-)

Wednesday, we had a completely wide open day after district meeting in Woodburn, so we decided to take a trip out to Oregon City and try to find some Hispanics because up to this point, we've had no investigators out there, or even people to visit really. The thing that made me want to was the fact that our strongest members live out there haha. Anyway, it was fun! We drove all over while doing some racial profiling, looking for Dish 500, shoes outside the doors, spider-man bikes, curtains in the windows, more cars than occupants in the houses, F-150's with lots of chrome, bright yellow, pink, and blue houses, etc.. We ended up finding some pretty promising places, and decided to knock in one of them. It was kind of interesting how we found it, and even more interesting the prompting that came to knock it when we did, because we were supposed to be heading to dinner within ten minutes so we could arrive on time. There was a row of townhouses that looked potentially paisa, but after four doors of angry white people, we were about to call it quits, but I decided that there was one more door we should knock. Across the street, kitty-corner to where we were, there was a house that I felt we should knock. All things considered, it looked like a VERY white house. Newspaper on the driveway (Hispanics do NOT get the newspaper), Chevy truck, Nissan altima (not chromed/riced out), No curtains (slat-blinds actually), and a plain-Jane earthy green and tan color combo on the house. Nevertheless, we knocked it, and lo and behold! A Hispanic lady took one look through the screen door at us and said "come in!" We were a little confused because we hadn't even said anything yet, so we said "are you sure?" and she said yes, yes come on in! Sit down!" Turns out that this lady was a member who had been baptized in Mexico more than 15 years ago, and when she had come to the states with her non-member hubby, had lost contact with the church. She lived with her husband on a piece of land out in the boonies east of Gresham, and he was a total jerk who never let her leave the place I guess, so she had no contact with anyone who was LDS. Anyway, long story short, she ended up divorcing from him because he was abusive and moving in with her son and daughter in-law a year ago. Recently, she had been thinking about her church days and how she wished she had given her son an opportunity to learn the gospel.... then we knocked her door. Hooray for direction from the Spirit! We're set up to go back over and talk with her and her son this coming week, so hopefully it'll bode well for baptisms in the future.

Thursday was a freaking sweet day! So, the first thing that happened: I finished the book of Mormon again... absolutely awesome as always. The thing that made it better was that we were going to the temple that day, so I decided to try something. Instead of just saying a prayer and asking if the book was true, I could do it in the temple! I must say, it was definitely a good call. If you get good reception to hear answers to prayers by living the commandments, it must be like standing next to the cell tower when you go to the temple, because holy cow! I definitely got my answer. The book of Mormon is true. Jesus is the Christ. Joseph Smith was called to translate it by God. The church is true. I love this church!
To top it all off? We decided to go to Quizno's after our session, and someone paid for our lunch! It's like the cherry on top, right? haha

Friday turned out to be quite epic as well. We went out knocking in those streets we discovered in Oregon City on Wednesday, and it turned out to be a very good call, because we had some sweet lessons! The first one that we knocked into that was awesome was actually a Muslim guy named Ali (go figure, right?) To preface this a little bit, I've gotta backtrack a couple of weeks. So remember how I said I bought a Qur'an at the DI that one P-day? Well to entertain myself sometimes during lunches or at night after planning, I started reading a little bit just to kind of see what the big differences are and where we coincide, and it's pretty dang interesting. Fun facts for the day: Did you know that in the Muslim religion, they believe in a pre-mortal life, a code of health similar to the Word of Wisdom, that God the Father and Jesus Christ are two separate people, in degrees of heaven, and that scripture AND prophets are both important keys to guidance back to God's presence? They even believe in repentance and having what you do in this life "restored to you in the resurrection" when you're judged by God. Yeah... we're definitely a lot closer in beliefs than people think.
Anyway, when we knocked into this Ali guy and got to talking, he asked if we were Christians. I responded that yes, but not what most would consider "traditional Christians" which sparked him to ask what made us non-traditional. I responded that we were different in that we actually believed that God and Jesus Christ were separate individuals, that Christianity as most people practice it today is not the kind that Christ himself established, and that we believed in a pre-mortal life, degrees of heaven, and in modern-day prophets that go in accordance with the scriptures. He was kind of taken aback when I spouted all of this to him, and he said "please, come in and tell me about this." We went in and ended up having an hour-long conversation with the guy about how we were close in what we believed, and how we recognized that prophets are extremely important. Now, the Muslims believe that Jesus was just a prophet-- not the son of God, and I think even that he didn't pay for our sins. They also believe that Muhammad was the last prophet and that there aren't any more. We talked about how it's difficult to know that Jesus Christ was really the son of God with only the bible as a witness of his divinity, but that the book of Mormon was an additional evidence that he really was the Christ. Talk about a sweet lesson! Holy crap! That morning in my personal study, I had read a couple of verses in 3Nephi 10 that I was able to share with him (divine guidance on this stuff, I'm telling ya!) but here's the background, this is the chapter that talks about all the great disasters that happen as a sign of the death of Jesus Christ, and how it fulfills a lot of prophecies "of all the holy prophets":

"11 And thus far were the scriptures fulfilled which had been spoken by the prophets.

"12 And it was the more righteous part of the people who were saved, and it was they who received the prophets and stoned them not; and it was they who had not shed the blood of the saints, who were spared—

"13 And they were spared and were not sunk and buried up in the earth; and they were not drowned in the depths of the sea; and they were not burned by fire, neither were they fallen upon and crushed to death; and they were not carried away in the whirlwind; neither were they overpowered by the vapor of smoke and of darkness.

"14 And now, whoso readeth, let him understand; he that hath the scriptures, let him search them, and see and behold if all these deaths and destructions by fire, and by smoke, and by tempests, and by whirlwinds, and by the opening of the earth to receive them, and all these things are not unto the fulfilling of the prophecies of many of the holy prophets.

"15 Behold, I say unto you...many have testified of these things at the coming of Christ..."


After sharing this with him, We talked about the divine law of witnesses-- how that "out of the mouth of two or three witnesses shall the truth be established." #1: the Bible. #2: the Book of Mormon. #3: Thomas S. Monson. He was actually pretty pumped to hear about all of this, especially coming from the faction of Islam that he belongs to. There are two main divisions in the Muslim religion (didn't know you were in a religions of the world class did ya?): The Sunni and the Shia. The Sunni are kind of what you could compare "old school" Christian bible thumpers that believe that the bible (or Qur'an in their case) is it, whereas the Shia are almost like us, in that they believe in inspired modern-day guidance. Well, sort of. Anyway, because he's a Shiite (that's really what they're called haha) he's more open to the thought of modern-day prophets. We're procuring a copy of the book of Mormon in Arabic this week so that we can give it to him and hopefully have one more lesson with him before I take off... talk about a crazy lesson right?

That night we had another lesson that maybe wasn't as doctrinally exciting, but it was pretty freakin' fun! We taught Jorge the restoration, but we did it in a little bit different fashion than we normally would. We came to the conclusion that we needed to do something fun to make it more attention-getting for him, and at first we weren't quite sure how to, but then it dawned on us... we could teach the great apostasy by using some little cups set up in a pyramid to represent the teachings/organization of the original church of Christ. We soon came to the realization, however, that we had NO cups to build our little pyramid with. What we did have though was a montage of Diet Coke cans in the window that were already stacked up in pyramid form, so what did we do? Oh yes. We did... we labeled Diet Coke cans to create our pre-apostasy original church! :-) haha. Never did I think that Diet Coke could be useful in teaching the restoration, but little Jorge understood PERFECTLY after we showed him how it worked haha. Pretty sweet right? It was a good way to end the night for sure

Saturday turned out to be an all-day service extravaganza with president Martinez. We spent the entire day helping him out at the house and talking about who we were teaching, as well as starting a revolution in the branch to get the members excited and progressing. We started off by helping him haul off a cinder block wall and throw it into the hole of some random farm that was looking for fill. That wasn't too big of a job, but then the real work began. We got back to his house and came to find out he wanted us to help him put together a shed in his backyard. It had originally been owned by another member of the branch who recently moved out, and so they disassembled it into the four walls and two sections for the roof, but president had to build the foundation and floor for it at his house. It was an adventure putting it together-- lemme tell ya haha. It wasn't exactly square, and the walls weren't exactly plumb either, so it made putting the roof on a major adventure... especially since it wasn't a tin roof. This was a legitimate roof with asphalt shingles already installed on it, so each of the two sections weighed probably 250 or 300 pounds apiece. What we would do is all three of us would lift up a section from one side, lean it against the rickety wall (held to the other two walls by three wood screws...yikes!) until it was about to tip to the other side, then while one person held the piece from the outside, the other two would run to the inside and catch it and pull it up towards the center of the peak of the roof. This wouldn't be so sketchy, but seriously, there was NOTHING holding up that frickin' roof aside from a couple of wood screws and some 2x4's haha. Long story short: We got it up and screwed in place, but it's what elder Hernandez has termed a "Mexicanada" which translated to English would be the equivalent of grandpa Mooney's endearing term of "you-know-what" -rigged haha.
Luckily, we were able to make it out of there without having the dang thing fall on us/kill us, and only received some scrapes and bumps... oh, and a nail that stuck through the bottom of my sandal and into my foot...youch! It looked pretty funny, but it sure didn't feel that way! Oh well haha stupid is as stupid does right?
The cool thing about finishing off that day was the lesson we had with Elisa. We were finally able to sit down and talk to her after almost a week of total silence from her. She has been praying, and trying to be better about doing what she's supposed to, and we were able to talk a little bit more in-depth about baptism. She asked us what the requirements were for it (like if she needed to study the bible or take a test or something), so we talked to her about us teaching her and getting interviewed and she said, "oh, well if that's all I need to do, I'd be okay with that." She was feeling a little leery about getting baptized next week, and in all honesty, she won't be ready, so we pushed back the baptismal date for the 16th of October where I'll just happen to be to baptize her :-) Sweet right? I really hope it goes through because she's really a great lady and would be so happy if she just "gets" it.

Sunday, we had quite a few people show up to the branch... more than I've seen in five weeks here, and the family that I laid the law down on last week ended up showing up for church! Other than that, I played the piano again, and it made me kind of sad to know that was my last normal Sunday as a missionary. It's okay though, because we ended up having like a five hour block haha. What they did was the normal three hour block, a mix and mingle to eat and talk for an hour, then they called a special branch meeting where we were able to hash out the revolution :-) Remember how I said we discussed the revolution during our Saturday service extravaganza a little bit? Yeah... it's happening now! During that meeting, Presidente Martinez talked about how the branch has been stagnating and how he is worried that they'll dissolve it if they don't get more done and start growing soon. He was open to suggestions, so everyone started giving their opinions about how home teaching needed to get done, how families needed to read their scriptures, how people needed to come to church, help each other, blah blah blah. While all this was going on, a thought came to me (like I said, CAME to me-- this was not something my little noggin is capable of coming up with on its own) and I raised my hand. At this point in time, they were complaining about how it was so difficult to set up to do home/visiting teaching because their companions could never find time and the families they were assigned to could never set up a time to do it either. President Martinez called on me and out came the rebuking :-P. I said "it's understandable, and yes, it's difficult to set up to get your visits done, but let me ask you a question: if a close friend called you right now and asked if they could stop by and talk for 15 minutes sometime in the next week, would you make time for them to come by? Absolutely." I then said "would you like to know the real reason why getting your visits done and getting people to come back to church is so difficult? It's because you don't really care that much about the other members of the branch. You aren't really friends with each other, and that's what kills it. Yes, those of you that come to church have testimonies that the gospel is true, but you look at the branch members that surround you as your co-workers instead of as friends-- or maybe better said-- your brothers and sisters. The moment that you really come to love and care about each other instead of criticizing or just 'doing your duty' is when this branch will begin to truly thrive and grow."
Talk about a rebuking, right? I felt really bad saying it, and honestly, I don't know everything that's going on in the branch, but from what I've seen and what I've felt from different members in their interactions, that's exactly the vibe I get. The reaction of the branch was pretty interesting when I said it, because up until this point, hands were going up, comments being made, points, counter-points, etc.. Once that was said though, it went really quiet. Presidente Martinez said "you know, he's absolutely right. Elder, thank you for pointing it out, because it's something that none of us have been willing to acknowledge. What do we do to change that?"
The revolutionary idea that they're going to implement is a branch family home-evening every Tuesday night from 7:00-9:00 where there will be a potluck dinner and spiritual thought by the missionaries, followed by games so that we can get them to be closer friends with them. We're just going to open that night having three families assigned to bring a dish (so at least three families show up) and then inviting friends and other families to come and join the fun... Revolution!

Coming to the close of my mission, there is one last thought that I wanted to share that came from a scripture I read. Doctrine and Covenants 30:11 Here, the Lord is giving a commandment to Peter Whitmer as to what he should do. Up to this point, he has been faithful to the commandments that he's received, and is coming to the close of one mission, but is now sent out to another one, and it seems like it applies pretty well to where I find myself right now, so I took it to heart.

"11 And your whole labor shall be in Zion, with all your soul, from henceforth; yea, you shall ever open your mouth in my cause, not fearing what man can do, for I am with you. Amen."

From what I've put into it, who I've met, what I've learned, and who I've been able to help change and grow, I realize now that this simple commandment to Peter Whitmer applies to me perfectly. For these past two years, I've been trying to be obedient, love those around me, share the gospel, set a good example, serve the church with the time and talents that the Lord has given me. Because of this, I know that even though the stake president take my missionary tag off (and I'll probably cry like a baby), it doesn't change much. Being a full time missionary? Yes, that's a rare opportunity that I'm glad I took advantage of. However, being a missionary is part of your baptismal covenant, and unfortunately, I didn't realize that before the mission. Knowing what I know now though, I know that even if I don't have the mantle of being a full-timer, I still have the opportunity (and duty, actually) to share the gospel and build up the Lord's kingdom on earth after the mission. This is one thing that actually makes me look forward to go home. I know that with the distractions of life, it will be more difficult to find opportunities to do so, but I'm just glad I have the rest of my life to enjoy the gospel, share it with those I can, and someday build up my own family on the foundation that the gospel provides.

One of the last things I wanted to include here (like parting words of a dying person--or missionary for that matter) is something that I've come to realize in serving for these past two years. Going on a mission isn't a time of hiding the "real you" to put on the "missionary mask" and planning on going back to "normal life" and the "real you" afterward. You can't do that. It's impossible. Well, you may think you can (and try to), but if you do, you're an idiot and will soon find out you can't. Life will never be the same after going on a mission-- whether you come home early or return with honor, you're forever changed. Whether that's for the good or bad is up to you. If you do it right, you can be the "real you" as a missionary and avoid putting on the mask. As you serve as an obedient, diligent missionary and strive to follow Christ's example, you go through a refinement process where you continue being "you," but discarding the parts of you that aren't Christ-like. As this happens, you become the best version of yourself-- all the good without the bad.

I'm excited to be able to apply the things I've learned in these two priceless years to the rest of my life. To be like every other cliché mission-serving member of this church, these really have been "the best two years" so far. There are a lot more things to look forward to in life, but I'm grateful to have this as a source of strength, experience, and happiness to draw from for years to come. One thing that I should probably put on here with a little asterisk next to it is the "best version of yourself" part. I say that because I'm still working on that version of me, and there's a LONG way to go! Please forgive me if I'm not perfect when I get home... just like everyone else, I make mistakes. I'm not saying this as an excuse to fall off the deep end, but I don't want people thinking that I'm one of those who says the word "darn" once a week so that they don't immediately get translated into the celestial realm haha.

Anyway, Mom, Dad, Katie Jo, and everyone else who might chance to read this, I am so grateful for all of your love and support during this wonderful mission, and I am SO EXCITED TO SEE YOU! See you next Monday! :-)

All my love,

Elder Kurt Kay Mooney

Monday, September 19, 2011

Two weeks and counting......









Dearest Mommy,

All right, let's get into the events of the week... I'd like to
respond to your whole email, but also give you the blog material so
you can enjoy these last couple of emails... it's been a pretty good
week, so here's the update:

Monday: We had a blastie on P-day as we spent it with the Gresham
English zone ... elder Anderson and my son Rivera are both there, so
it made playing dodge ball with them super fun! The one problem is
that I totally threw out my arm playing, so I couldn't sleep on my
left side that night or the following haha. Such is life with a torn
rotator cuff :-P Aside from playing dodge ball and laughing it up with
the boys, we also decided to scoot down 82nd avenue and pick up some
books from the DI and then do some blous-- browsing around the
Salvation Army monstrosity of a store that they have right down the
street. At the DI, I ended up picking up an apocryphal new testament
along with a copy of the Qu'ran and... ah crap there was one other
that was really cheap that I couldn't pass up. From there, at the
Salvation Army, I found some SAWEET deals on a pair of Express slacks
($10.00), a never worn Nordstrom tailored dress shirt ($7.00), as well
as an Izod oxford shirt ($free.99).
The really exciting thing about Monday, however, happened that night.
So there's a family here in the Molalla branch that is super strong--
the Garcia family. The whole family is baptized minus the grandpa
(he's a super paisa catholico) and the sister-in-law of the branch
president. She's a pretty tough egg to crack... other elders have
tried in the past to get her baptized, but she ends up shutting down
because she feels pressured by the missionaries and the family at the
same time. As president Martinez said, "she's a stone." However,
what I've come to realize in my lifetime is that stones sink pretty
well when you throw them in the water. :-) Anyway, back to the story.
So we went over there to try to catch her home after work and talk to
her a little bit. Turns out that we found her in the house, and she
even let us teach her after talking for a bit! She's facing a lot of
difficulties in life right now... her kids are a mess (one just went
to Juvie(sp?), another sells drugs, and the other one is a heavy
drinker), and she's dealt with a lot of crap from her ex...ummm....
partners? She was never married, so partners is what we'll go with
here. Anyway, because of her difficulties, she said she didn't feel
like she even knew if God existed or not, so how was she going to be
baptized into a church. Because of this, we took it all the way back
to basics and talked about the story of king Lamoni and how Ammon
taught him about the concept of God and how to come to know he exists.
We shared from Alma 18 his little experience, and she seemed pretty
stoked on finding out about it... she was also excited about asking
God if He had forgiven her instead of just saying that she was sorry
in prayer. We set up another lesson with her for Wednesday, and I'll
tell ya how it went.

Tuesday was a day full of door-knocking and contacting in Canby. we
found some good potential investigators, but didn't really have any
awesome lessons until later that night. We went to dinner with a
less-active family, and it was weird because when we got there, there
was a guy who I knew looked familiar, and we got to talking... come to
find out that he's the brother-in-law of Laura Gutierrez, one of my
old investigators from Woodburn! It's just funny because I was
looking through my journal the other day, and I found an entry where
we were teaching Laura, and he was there. The thing that was sweet is
that he bore testimony of how he knew he wasn't living up to the
standards, but that the church was true, and that Laura could find out
by reading and praying about the book of Mormon. Anyway, it was cool
because in the dinner we got to give his family a kick in the butt for
not coming to church and not reading their scriptures... hopefully
it helps and they can get active (although they didn't come on
Sunday... GRRR!).

Wednesday we had a leadership training meeting... nothing too exciting
there haha. However, that night was sweet because we had an epic
lesson with Elisa! So, remember how she had a bunch of problems that
she was facing in life? Well, she decided to give Dr. Feelgood a call
and hash out ALL of her problems and pull ALL of the skeletons out of
her monstrous walk-in-sized closet... hoo buddy this woman has had an
interesting life. To be honest, she's brought most of it on herself,
but the basic gist was that she didn't understand why all these bad
things happened to her, and what her purpose here on earth was. We
ended up turning it into an epic lesson/counseling session talking
about the plan of salvation, agency, and baptism. The short version
is that the Spirit was really strong and she now has a baptismal date
for the 2nd of October. Booyeah! :-)

Thursday we shot the ENTIRE day with studies, planning, and going out
to the Toyota dealership in Beaverton to get the 20,000 mile check-up
on our little Corolla... we even overlapped our driving/sitting time
with planning and were still there til about 5:00...ridiculous! It's
okay though. We still managed to get in a little bit of knocking
before heading to dinner with president Martinez that night. We did a
sort of family home evening with them, and it was pretty fun.

Friday, we did some service that at first I thought was going to suck
royally, but turned out to be pretty sweet. So the elders here
volunteer one Friday a month at the Canby senior center to help
prepare, serve, and clean up a lunch that they put on, and it is
awesome! The people who do service there were so down-to-earth and
kind-hearted... it makes me want to find somewhere that I can do that
once in a while when I get home... it's a good experience for sure!
There's something to be said about giving of yourself freely that
sparks something in those you come in contact with... it's almost
contagious in that it makes you want to pass it on to someone else.
It kind of set the tone for the rest of the day for us. Afterward, we
went out knocking and found some sweet potential investigators, and we
even gave out a couple copies of the book of Mormon to some promising
ones.

Saturday we had a branch party for Mexican independence day, and it
turned out to be quite a riot. We started it off with a prayer, then
decided that we were gonna sing the Mexican national anthem... there
was one problem though: NOBODY IN THE BRANCH KNEW THE SONG!!!
How sad is that!? A bunch of Mexicans that don't know their own
national anthem haha. Luckily, we had a computer in the church were
we could print off the lyrics... from there, we found ONE person who
knew the tune-- an 84 year-old man that everyone calls "abuelito".
honestly, I don't understand a dang word he says, so hearing him sing
out the national anthem along with the rest of us sounded quite
comical haha. We finally got through it and got to chowing down on a
BOATLOAD of Mexican food. It. Was. Awesome. I love this branch.

Sunday was pretty sweet as well. So, of all subjects in the church,
the gathering of Israel seems to be the one that makes everyone get
this look on their face that says "I'm in a stupor of though" and
their eyes sort of glaze over. However, talking about it this Sunday
was pretty frickin' sweet because of a verse that we read. The basic
gist of the gathering of Israel is that those who are "of the house of
Israel" (a.k.a. you and I as members of the church) are supposed to
help EVERYONE else recognize that they are a part of, or should become
a part of that club-- I mean, house. Anyway, the thing that made it
interesting was a verse in the bible from James chapter one. Okay,
almost every latter-day saint knows that James 1:5 is the "if any of
you lack wisdom, let him ask of God" scripture, because that's what
separates us from every other church. You might even say it's our
"money" scripture. Instead of proving ourselves with verses from the
bible, prayer is the key to revelation so you can know the church is
true. What struck me was who James directed this little piece of
counsel to... here's what the verse says:
"1. James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the
twelve tribes which are scattered abroad..."
It's just kinda cool that as the only church who really focuses on
this verse, it's all geared toward helping to gather the 12 tribes of
Israel... anyway... shake off that stupor of thought and rub your eyes
so you're not all glazed over, I'm done haha.
Aside from that on Sunday, I was called on to play the piano again,
and oh my gosh it's so stressful! I didn't make any major mistakes
(thank goodness), but I really thing I'm gonna need some therapy to
get over the anxiety that comes from playing the piano haha. Talking
to our chorister about it, she said "you know, I can tell that you
hate playing the piano in public just by the way you played that last
hymn. Even if you hate it though, you've got to get over it so you
can bless other peoples' lives with your talent." I told her I might
need some counseling to get over the stress and anxiety, and she
directed me heavenward saying "well, you've got all the counsel you
need right up there." Kind of a slap in the face, but it's funny how
you can tell that the Lord is talking to you sometimes. I just hate to
think that it means more practicing, more stressing, and a lot of
counseling haha. Thank you for teaching me how to play the piano
mommy! :-)
The only other exciting thing that happened after that was that we
helped get someone's ox out of the mire... the former president of the
branch is moving into his new house, but needs to finish painting and
putting the floors in... and they barely got the drywall finished, so
it's been an adventure since they've gotta be there soon. Anyway, we
got to doing some crazy frantic painting, which seemed a lot like
having too many cooks in the kitchen since there were probably 20 of
us in there painting like mad... paint flying everywhere, brushes,
rollers, and bright Mexican reds, yellows, and blues haha. That house
is looking pretty legit now!
The best part of all of it? There's a kid, the son of a member, who
isn't baptized, and he just came up to us while we were there and
said, you have to teach me stuff so I can be baptized, right? We said
yes, and he said "ok cause I want to start tomorrow. Can you guys
come over?" *PLOP!* two week kiddy DUNK! haha. He's a little stud,
and his family is sweet... they just need to get a little bit more
active. it's just funny because we've been trying to set something up
with them for the entire time I've been here, but to no avail.. ah
well at least we know now haha. Chalk up one more :-)

Okay, so I'm all sorts of fried on typing now, and it's time to go
enjoy the day now that the sun is trying to come out. I love you guys
so much, and I'm way excited to see you soon :-)

All my love,

Elder Kurt Kay Mooney

Monday, September 12, 2011

"Make some good waves in the pool before you get out..."

Dearest Mommy,

Holy cow it has been HOT this week! It's seriously been the weirdest
thing ever... every single day has been over 90 except for today. The
clouds finally rolled in and we're enjoying some cooler Oregon weather
finally... kinda weird to hear that from me eh? It sounds like you
guys had a real blast down there at the beach... that's awesome! The
nightly jam session sounds like it would have been the funnest part
for sure... we might have to make that a tradition along with the
morning devotionals when I get back... it'd be fun :-)

So this week has been a little bit crazy with all that has happened,
but it's nothing unusual when you're working in a Spanish branch haha.
You already heard about Monday in last week's email, so let's start
with Tuesday. It was a wide open day with no set appointments, so we
decided to knock the heck out of Canby because there is a boat-load of
Hispanics all over the place. The only downside was that it was HOT!
Holy cow it was blazing to the point where there was nobody in the
street to talk to, so we just knocked, knocked, knocked all day long.
The funny part was that we really didn't get sick of it... we made it
fun! Ya know, when you're doing everything in your power to help
others come to Christ, and you show love toward those you come in
contact with, it doesn't matter what they say to you or how they
react. You know the Lord is happy with what you're doing, and that
you're being guided by Him to touch their lives and try to brighten
their day. We ended up finding a couple of great potentials that we
set up appointments with, but didn't have any lessons... the whole
day!
Because of that, we decided to treat ourselves to a nice carne asada
with some home-made green salsa with avocado. Oh yeah, our dinner
canceled on us haha. So anyway, in spite of the adversary's best
efforts to make our day miserable, we had a total blast and were able
to keep our spirits high.

Wednesday, we had our district meeting out in Newberg again, which
went well... although driving out there is a total day killer for the
most part. After getting back at around 3:00 in the afternoon or so,
we did some knocking and found a sweet guy named Rodolfo. He's met
missionaries before, and even had a book of Mormon, but has never
actually read the thing or understood the purpose of it, so we had a
nice little restoration lesson and topped it off with personal
revelation. Long of the short of it: he's gonna read the book and
pray about it :-).
After that, to finish off the night we had a lesson with a lady named
Jessica, and wouldn't ya know it... we got on the subject of all the
CRAZY stuff that people tell us as missionaries and the amount of
counseling that we end up doing, and then she said, "well let me talk
to you about a situation that I'm having." Oh. My. Goodness... Dr.
Feelgood strikes again! I don't wanna get into the details of it and
publish it here on the internet, but my oh my it makes for a good
story when I get home.

Thursday, Elder Hernandez was scheduled for an interview with
president Morby, so we had the opportunity to go to the Woodburn
district meeting with those elders... and ended up being there almost
all day haha. It was such a sweet experience to be able to talk with
those elders while they were there, and then to sit down with sister
Morby and chat with her for almost an hour... she is freakin' awesome!
She's actually good friends with the Travellers from St. George Mom,
so maybe you'd know her? I don't know... it's a stretch, but ya never
know :-P
Anyway, after talking to sister Morby for a while, I also had a little
chat with president Morby in an informal kind of interview, and it was
sweet. He's looking to make elder Hernandez the district leader after
I leave, and he also wants me to do some training with the elders in
this district so that they can be better trainers... kind of apply my
old fogey missionary wisdom to them I guess... not sure how wise that
wisdom really is, but hopefully it helps. The biggest thing they need
is help learning Spanish haha.
One thing that was cool at the end of that meeting though, happened as
we were walking to our cars. President Morby said "Elder Mooney, you
have four weeks left as a full-time missionary. They always say that
a baptism is the crowning achievement of an elder's mission... see if
you can get one right as you go home, so you can go out with a bang?"
We're doing our darndest to make that one happen now :-)
As far as doing our darndest, we had a sweet experience later that day
that might be related. we prayed before going out knocking doors to
be able to find the elect and help them to find the truth in our
message. Nothing amazing or out of the ordinary in a prayer, but
maybe with a little bit more "oomph" behind it with four weeks to go.
Anyway, we went to this complex, knocked the first door and met a lady
who was a less-active member... who was now a baptized Jehovah's
Witness! NOOOOOOO!!!!! Talk about turning away from the light!
However, the second door we knocked happened to be answered by her 45
year-old daughter who lives next door. Now, she's kind of a disaster
and has definitely lived a pretty hard life, but the thing that was
sweet was that we came to find out that she was trying to find THE
church. Not just A church, but the right one. She recognized that
there are a lot of them, they all say they're right, and that there
has to be a right answer-- none of that "all churches are good" crap.
The best part about it was that she said that the JW's probably
weren't right haha. She really wants to get to know God and live her
life in accordance to His will, so teaching her the restoration was
absolutely MONEY! We're way excited to keep teaching her and
hopefully she can be "the one." The best part about that lesson?
She's living with a less-active member who wants to come back to
church and just happened to pray about it that week. Coincidence? I
think not! I'll keep you guys posted on what happens.

Friday was a full day of knocking once again, and it was sweet! There
were some decent appointments set up for next week, but the best part
about it were the two funny things that happened:
1: so there we were, out knocking doors at this super ghetto
apartment complex. We knocked this one door, no answer. We knocked
it again, and didn't get a response, so we decided to ring the
doorbell. Now, it's not one of those that's wired to the house...
it's one that you buy at Wal-Mart for ten bucks that has a remote
control doorbell that you stick on your front porch with double-sided
tape and then put the doorbell inside the house. anyway, this
particular doorbell was kind of falling off, and I, being the genius
that I am, decided to tug at it a little bit. It came right off in my
hand, and so after muttering "oh crap!" I then proceeded to press it
firmly back into place with the tape. It stayed there... for about
five seconds. Suddenly, this little dinger decided it had had enough,
and took a flying suicide leap off the side of the house as if
screaming "so long, cruel world!" as it plummeted toward the sidewalk.
I kinda felt like Ralphie off of 'A Christmas Story' when he drops
the hubcap full of lug-nuts and says "oooooohhhhh ffffffuuuuuudge!"
because it seemed to fall in slow motion, and when it hit the ground,
it didn't just hit and bounce--oh no... it exploded on impact! There
was a spring, the button popped off, the battery cover broke, and the
battery shot out as well. As soon as it happened, Hernandez and I
looked at each other for a split second, then we bailed to the next
door! Luckily there were privacy fences separating them, but gosh we
felt like such dorks afterward haha. The exciting life of a
missionary right?

2: The other funny story was while we were driving trying to scope
out a good pocket of paisa where we could knock off this country road
just outside of Canby. we saw this really long, really straight road
with houses on either side of it just randomly, and decided to
investigate a little bit and see if some of the houses were paisa.
Upon driving in, though, we came to realize something... IT WAS A
FRIGGIN' AIRSTRIP! Holy crap! Not only that, but ALL the residents
in this cute little suburban (except not) neighborhood had huge
garages attached to their houses WITH PLANES IN THEM!!! There was a
pretty funny sign at the entrance that said "residents and guests
only... please yield to airplanes" Well der... what else are ya gonna
do? You'll have to see the picture cause it was kinda comical :-)

Okay, so Saturday. We had a stake presidents breakfast out in Oregon
city, and it kinda made me sad... it was the last one of my mission!
Missions are full of "firsts" and "lasts," but for some reason, all
the lasts seem to be really, really depressing. This was a good one,
though. In every one of these meetings, a member of the mission
presidency comes, and in this area, president Stone is the
counselor-- the same one who did it while I was in Beaverton, and we
have a pretty good relationship. He was excited to see that I'd gone
back to Spanish, and more specifically in this area. The reason why
is that this area has kinda died off in the last year because of some
elders that were...well... less than obedient and less than skillful.
So, president Stone said, "I'm sad that you've only got a few weeks
left and a lot of work ahead of you...see if you can make some good
waves in the pool before you get out!" Does that mean do some repair
work?
Anyway, the only other exciting things that happened that day were
that we stole an organ from the English elders apartment, which was
definitely a good idea... I've missed playing music at nights after
planning, etc... like I said, we'll have to make it a tradition when I
get back :-)
I think by doing that, however, I shot myself in the foot, because
Sunday rolled around, and all of a sudden, EVERYONE knew that I play
the piano and can sing! Ridiculous! I had to play the piano for
Sunday school, teach the priesthood how to sing a hymn on pitch and in
rhythm, then play the intermediate and closing hymns in Sacrament
meeting! I guess I'll just have to start practicing now... do some
deathbed repentance on not utilizing my talents earlier on in the
mission haha.
So jumping back to the stake presidency breakfast comment from
president Stone, I've kinda come to the conclusion that on the mission
there are several different types of work: there's the work of
reaping, the work of sowing, the work of watering/weeding, and the
work of clearing the fields... Woodburn was a time of reaping, sowing
and watering, Beaverton of clearing the fields, Sherwood of reaping,
sowing, and watering. As for Molalla, I feel like there's a lot of
field clearing to be done... as well as sowing... and hopefully we can
make reaping a part of that process as well :-) But yeah, sometimes
you're planting and caring for seeds that will pay dividends in the
future, sometimes you're reaping the rewards of other elders' work,
and sometimes you're chopping down trees and digging out the stumps
that were left to grow by previous elders so that you can plow
straight furrows for the next ones who come along to plant. Looking
over the course of the mission, about a quarter of it has been
dedicated to doing the "clearing," and now that I'm here in Molalla, I
feel that maybe that's what I've been called to do. To be honest,
you'll hear no complaints about it. This place is awesome. The thing
that made it really interesting was that during Sunday school as I was
thinking about this to myself, we read a scripture that HAD to have
been the Lord trying to speak to me. it's in 1Corinthians 3:5-9
Sometimes you boo-hoo a little bit because you don't feel that you're
being effective as a missionary because you're not knocking 'em dead
with baptisms, but reading this gave me some comfort because it helps
you to recognize your role and who is really important in all of this:

"5 Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye
believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?

"6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.

"7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that
watereth; but God that giveth the increase.

"8 Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man
shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.

"9 For we are labourers together with God..."



The other one that kind makes me feel good is found in chapter one of
the same book :-)

"17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not
with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none
effect.

18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness;
but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

To finish it off, it makes me think of our mission scripture as well as my own:

3Nephi 5:13:
"Behold, I am a disciple of Jesus Christ, the son of God. I have been
called of Him to declare His word among His people, that they might
have everlasting life.

Moroni 9:6
"And now, my beloved son, notwithstanding their hardness, let us labor
diligently; for if we should cease to labor, we should be brought
under condemnation; for we have a labor to perform whilst in this
tabernacle of clay, that we may conquer the enemy of all
righteousness, and rest our souls in the kingdom of God."

I know to what I have been called and what I am to do. My only lament
is that I have so little time left to do it. I pray that the Lord
will continue to strengthen me as I come to the close of this
wonderful mission so that I can finish strong and continue to labor
diligently and help those around me obtain that everlasting life.

I love you guys so much, and I'm so thankful for the love and support
that I feel... even if it makes me excited to get home sometimes haha.
Be safe, stay strong in the gospel, and I'll talk to you next week!

Con carino siempre,

-Elder Mooney

Saturday, September 10, 2011

2011 September 6

Dearest Mommy,

Okay, are you ready for an epic email? Cause I'm not! Gah!!
I love checking emails, but it's frustrating here at the end
because it's all about stuff like this: "what do you want
to do when you get back?", "can't wait to see you!",
"I'd write about ___, but I'll just tell you
when you get home!", "you only have ___ weeks left...can you believe
it!?", etc. Basically, I feel like emails are "let's check out and
think about home" time haha. Unfortunately, it's a necessary evil,
but the upside is that I only have to do it three more times and then
it's all OVER! Woo! No more trunky emails! Except that totally
sucks... because then the mission will be over and then it's back to
normal life...dangit!

Okay, I'll quit ranting and complaining about it and get on with
what's been exciting this week. First and foremost, you already heard
all about it from Dad... we bumped into each other by some crazy act
of God down there in Woodburn... ridiculous! That's the only word I
can say to describe it: ridiculous! Well, maybe that and awesome...
or sweet... or wonderful... or something of the like. It's funny
because at the Pisters yesterday (crap, spoiling my timeline already!)
they were poking fun at the uncanny likeness between Dad and I... it
is kinda weird... and it didn't really register just how much alike we
are until that fateful meeting. the funny thing is that it didn't
make me trunky at all! The only thing about it that it did was make
me want to work as hard as I can for these last couple weeks so we can
talk all about it once I get back... still, it's kinda funny that
we've been trying to avoid each other for the last 23 months, and then
out of the blue, we run into each other in WOODBURN of all places!

Okay, so aside from that, things have been pretty exciting here in
Mollala if you can believe that. So Tuesday, we had an absolutely
open day, so we decided to do some knocking out in Canby (where most
of our area's Hispanics/meth-heads are), and we had some good success!
We actually were able to find some good people just knocking around,
and it was such a joy to see that... especially after being in English
for so long! People that were willing to listen to us and set up
appointments for later! What a novel concept right?

Wednesday was the day of district meeting, and holy moses! We had an
hour drive to get there! We meet all the way in Newberg because our
district consists of Mcminnville, the zone leaders, and ourselves, so
Newberg and Wilsonville are the two "midway points" except not
really.. it's a long haul to get out there! It's all good though,
because this district rocks, and has an awesome district leader...oh
wait, that's me! Haha I'm just kidding about that part, so please
don't think I'm a super prideful sucker... it's funny though... I've
gone through my whole mission without being the District leader, and
now for my last transfer I get to do it... funny huh?
So that night, we had dinner with a family that was baptized about two
years ago, and they're pretty dang sweet. They were flabbergasted and
excited that I was able to come back to Spanish, and they asked about
the story of why, so I told them. It was funny because by the end of
it, the hermana asked if I had an apodo (nickname) and I told her that
I didn't really. She then said "well I have one for you then. we're
gonna call you 'el Protestante!'" So there it is folks. The new
nicname is "el Protestante"- or the protestor because she said with
all my protesting, it's gotten me places as a missionary haha. I
think maybe Quejon would be a more fitting name sometimes, although
it's almost the same :-)

Thursday we did some service for a lady that was a former
investigator... we actually ended up pulling out a stump for her,
which was not too terribly exciting. The nice part was that the roots
were already cut up, so all we had to do was get Catalino (an hermano
from the church) to come over with his truck, hook it up, and yank it
up and out of the four foot hole that it occupied :-P After that we
spent a good chunk of time filling in the hole with dirt and planing
it off so it would be smooth. It led us to setting a lesson with her
for Friday, so it all worked to our benefit :-)
One cool thing that caught my attention Thursday morning before
heading out was a quote that I found as I was cleaning up a few things
in the closet, and this is what it said:

"I slept and dreamt that life was joy
I awoke and saw that life was duty
I acted, and behold--
Duty was joy."
-Rabinath Tagore
I know it sounds kind of dumb, but it caught my attention simply
because in this process of change and seeing that there are some MAJOR
changes coming up soon, I feel like life won't be "joy" when they come
about, because there are going to be some "duties," but what I
realized is that as I act, do, and continue dreaming, it'll make it
possible to be able to feel of that joy.
The other one that caught my attention was a poem called "The
Fellowship of the Unashamed" and here it is:

"I am a part of the Fellowship of the Unashamed. I have the Holy Spirit
Power. The die has been cast. I have stepped over the line. The decision has
been made. I am a disciple of Jesus Christ. I won't look back, let up, slow
down, back away, or be still. My past is redeemed, my present makes sense,
and my future is secure. I am finished and done with low living, sight
walking, small planning, smooth knees, colorless dreams, tame visions,
mundane talking, chintzy giving, and dwarfed goals.

I no longer need preeminence, prosperity, position, promotions, plaudits, or
popularity. I don't have to be right, first, tops, recognized, praised,
regarded, or rewarded. I now live by presence, learn by faith, love by
patience, lift by prayer, and labor by power.

My pace is set, my gait is fast, my goal is Heaven, my road is narrow, my
way is rough, my companions few, my Guide is reliable, my mission is clear.
I cannot be bought, compromised, deterred, lured away, turned back, diluted,
or delayed. I will not flinch in the face of sacrifice, hesitate in the
presence of adversity, negotiate at the table of the enemy, ponder at the
pool of popularity, or meander in the maze of
mediocrity.

I won't give up, back up, let up, or shut up until I've preached up, prayed
up, paid up, stored up, and stayed up for the cause of Christ. I am a
disciple of Jesus Christ. I must go until He returns, give until I drop,
preach until all know, and work until He comes.

And when He comes to get His own, He will have no problem recognizing me. My
colors will be clear for "I am not ashamed of the Gospel, because it is the
power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes.." (Romans 1:16)"

-Bob Moorehead

Pretty cool, right? It makes you want to be a little bit more
committed to what ya do as a member of the church... that's for dang
sure!

Other than that, Friday we had some good lessons with a couple of
investigators... nothing too exciting to report there.

Saturday, we did some plainclothes tracting in between service
projects, and we were able to hook a new investigator because of it
haha.

Sunday, we had VERY few people show up for church... like only 15 or
so, but it was awesome... the spirit in that meeting was so awesome.
It was sad, because it's the last fast Sunday I'll have on the
mission, but the spirit was so strong, and the members were so
awesome. I found out that ALL of them are converts. Not most of
them, but every single one... and most of them for only ten years or
less... they bring such a special spirit to the branch every time we
get together as a group. Their testimonies aren't the cozy
comfortable flame you find in a living room fireplace, but the
consuming, light bringing warmth you'd find around a bonfire on a late
summer night... it's something totally different, and you can't help
but catch a little bit of the spirit of it while you're here with
them. Only spending this past week or so with them has already
brought me as close to them as in any other area--- including
Woodburn.

So Monday... well, it was Labor day, and that's why we didn't write
our emails haha. We instead took a trip with the zone down to Silver
falls to take a little bit of a hike. It's weird to think that a year
ago we took the same trip while I was serving in Woodburn... that
seems like it was only a few short months ago! A year! Holy crap! It
was super fun though, we took some good pictures, but I'll have to
steal them from elder Hernandez because they're on his camera.
After that though, we had lunch with Lupe G and the fam, then went to
the Pisters for yet ANOTHER meal! Bleh it was too much food in one
day, but it was delicious, and we had such a blast talking with
them... gosh I miss that place and love those people.

Anyway, yeah, I'm burned out on the email thing for now. I'll talk to
you all next week okay? I love ya!

-Elder Mooney

Monday, August 29, 2011

Quise ser soldado fiel, y el Senor me lo concedio!

2011 August 29
Dearest Mom and Dad,

So, I have some really big news... I've been transferred to Spanish to finish the mission! Holy crap talk about the most ridiculously awesome/out of the blue change EVER!!!! Oh my goodness. When I talked to president Morby about finishing in Spanish, I figured it would be a waste of breath, but I guess not haha. I got a call on Tuesday morning asking if president Morby could come over to talk to me about a special assignment. I agreed, and he came over around five in the afternoon. We chatted for about 45 minutes about how things were going, and about an opportunity that had arisen to be placed on special assignment to finish out the mission. As part of a five companionship move, he asked if I'd like to go back to Spanish, and I whole-heartedly accepted! He said he couldn't tell me where because he wasn't 100% sure how it was going to work out, but he told me it would be a great way to finish the mission. He said that within the next couple of days he'd let me know when to have my bags packed and where I was being moved to... he also told me to get elder Yack completely updated on the area, help him meet everyone, and get locked and loaded to pull this mantle off my shoulders... I must say, that thing is pretty dang heavy in the Tualatin zone! haha.

Anyway, I spent the week saying "hi, this is elder Yack. He's your new elder and I'm peacin' out!" to just about everyone we could. I was kinda sad in certain respects, because the elders in the zone that came in this transfer absolutely rock! The McMinnville district, which used to be kind of a cesspool of iniquity has entirely cleaned up, and now there are five training companionships... it's awesome! All obedient, all spiritual, and all working hard. It's so amazing to see the spirit that they bring as new missionaries, and the desire they have to serve the Lord with all their heart, might, mind, and strength. I feel like an old fogy of a missionary, but being around them kinda helps you catch the fire and want to be just as awesome as they are... except be more experienced and good at it haha. wow that sounded prideful. Anyway, Wednesday after district meeting, we ate at a cool little place I'll have to take you guys too in Lafayette called... ummm... on the way or by the way diner. Anyway, I'll take you guys there. It's delicious, and the owner actually knows Colin Cornett from the Bend days. Random, right?

Thursday turned out to be a good day to start packing all my crap and consolidating. I actually ended up completely packing this HUGE tote full of stuff, and leaving it there in the garage for pickup once the mission is over... I hope you guys are gonna have space to pack it, cause it's pretty dang big haha. During all of this packing, I helped elder Yack get as up to speed on what's going on as possible. I wrote down the entire schedule as far as monthly meetings and events go, wrote down a list of all of our investigators and where they're at, important Sherwood facts, etc.. Kind of a whitewash status change, but with a five day overlap, so he was introduced to everything by the original missionary in the area... made it a little bit smoother I think :-P

That night, we said some goodbyes to Scott and Heidi, the Hamms, Nikki, Joe, and some others... gosh I'm gonna miss this place a lot. It was good though. We did basically the same thing Friday, but ALL DAY this time. We were seriously all over the place trying to catch people home so that elder Yack could get to know the presidencies and bishoprics for both wards, along with the families we're working with.

The hardest goodbye of all was Ella Rose... it was really sad to say goodbye to her... I spent a good chunk of the night talking with her on Friday after I found out I was gonzo on Saturday morning. We just chatted and laughed about the good times, and made plans for visits in the future, as well as phone calls periodically to keep updated on what's going on. It's really sad in a way... I feel like I'm losing my best friend in a lot of ways... at the very least I'm losing my prophetess and counselor! I'm just glad the separation is temporary so I can come back in five weeks haha.

Saturday morning came, and I was picked up by a new couple that's working in the office named the Bettridges. They're awesome! We chatted and laughed as we drove off, and I found out that I was going to the Mollala Spanish area, which covers Canby, Mollalla, and Oregon City. The trick is that we live in Mollalla, so it's a LONG haul to get to any of the areas we actually work in, because Canby and Oregon city are where most of the work is haha. Oh well I guess... it'll be an adventure with miles :-P. The best thing about being here however, is that I know some people, and I'm really close to Woodburn! I really love this place, and it's fast becoming my fav. area.

I apologize it's a short email, but really, this area freakin' rocks, and what better way to finish off the mission than in SPANISH! I miss my Sherwood friends,, but this place rocks. The presidency is sweet I'll write more next week gaaah!@ Oh, my comp is elder Hernandez, trained by elder Rangel :-0)

Love you@!

Elder Mooney

Monday, August 22, 2011

It isn't the Hokey Pokey, but it IS what it's all about!

2011 August 22
Dearest Mommy,

Well, it's definitely been an eventful week... turns out that I'm staying... but Elder Anderson got the boot! Holy Moses this has been a crazy turn of events to have him leaving. My new companion is Elder Yack , and from what I can tell, he's a stud... I really am excited to have him as my companion here now... we're gonna keep on truckin' and hopefully get a few more baptisms in before I go home... I also kinda talked to president Morby about it, and how, like you, I would have loved to finish off the mission in Woodburn. He said he'd see what he could do. I don't know if that means he thinks I have one transfer left after this one, or if something crazy will happen and by some miracle I'll finish in Woodburn... guess we'll see!

Okay, backtracking to last Monday:
Honestly, nothing exciting happened, so I'm not gonna bother writing about it... it was p-day and we played some basketball and dodge ball over at the stake center with the other elders in the zone.

Tuesday:
We had an awesome/funny district meeting to close out the transfer, and it was quite hilarious how it all went down. So during the "business" portion of our meeting before the spiritual thought and such, we gave out awards for different funny things. One of them was an award for most hours tracting, which ended up being this huge trophy with a tractor on it that said "tractin' champs" underneath it... quite sweet. The other ones were for baptisms, which I got a 6-pack of diet coke for (go figure, right?) and although you probably don't like to hear that, at least they weren't full-sized 12 oz. cans.... they were the diet sized diet cokes weighing in at 7.5 oz a pop (literally). .. they were gone pretty dang quickly haha. Aside from that, I feel bad, but I can't remember all the other awards they gave out, but they were pretty dang funny.
After that was over, we helped sister Barker put together a basketball hoop, and holy cow... you would think those things should be pretty straight-forward to put together, but that was DEFINITELY not the case! I felt like I was trying to construct a V-2 rocket as I sat there trying to get the pipes together for the stand, ratchet them into place, and make sure that everything was lined up how it was supposed to be... it took us like three hours! Anyway, we got the job done with some patience, hard work, and a little diet Coke :-)

Wednesday:
We had interviews with president Morby, and they went really well! It was really sweet to be able to sit down with him and chat for a little bit and feel of the spirit that he brings to the mission. I actually had two opportunities for interviews, so I took them. My temple recommend expires at the end of this month, so he wrote me a temporary extension on mine so I could get one when I get home...from our new stake president... crazy!
One thing that kinda made me scared/excited about ending the mission was what I read in Alma 26 that day... throughout the whole thing it talks about the sons of Mosiah and what they felt and saw at the end of their mission... if you wanna read what it should be like for a missionary when he gets home, that's the chapter for sure! Being able to look back, recognize the kind of person you were before, and knowing that through your hard work and love for the Lord, he has made you an instrument in his hands to help bless the lives of other people. Read it. You'll love it. It definitely makes me want to finish strong!
To finish off Wednesday night, we had another sweet new-member lesson with Allie over at the DeMaris home where we talked about missionary work. It went really well.

Thursday, nothing too terribly exciting happened aside from a little bit of weekly planning and good reading in Alma 30. I came to the realization that Korihor is the epitome of an anti-Mormon personality. Check it out and see what he talks about!

Friday, I was super excited because I got to go on exchange with elder Gardner! My best buddy AP in the whole wide world. We really had a good time out here in Sherwood. We stayed up chatting with sister DeLong as always, did some good service in the morning for Scott and Heidi, then taught some lessons. The first stop on our list was Nick, and it was really funny that we decided to visit when we did, because no sooner were we about to say the opening prayer, then his best friend who happens to be a member showed up! We were just planning on relating the word of wisdom to the restoration, so we taught about that and he accepted it, and then his buddy Brandon piped up and said "so have you considered baptism yet? Just so you know, I'm a viable option... I've got that priesthood you need to do it." We both sat there with our mouths agape as Nick replied by saying "well, the Elders here had a date set for me to be baptized on the 27th, but they said I'll need to move it back 'cause I need to go to church first... how many times do I need to go again?" We told him three, and then every Sunday thereafter, and he said it should be no problem. Brandon again chimed in and said "all right I'll pick you up on Sunday around 8:45 and you can go to my ward. We can sit together and I'll introduce you, okay? Oh, and seminary starts up in a couple weeks, so if you want, you should totally come with me." The best part about all of this is that Nick accepted EVERYTHING his friend said! This is why it's important to have members at your lessons.... even if you weren't planning on it originally haha.
After that lesson, we taught Nikki over at the Hamm's along with Nick and Brandon because they came over. We just read 2 Nephi 2 with them and discussed the importance of the fall and the atonement with them... it went really well. Nikki is gonna take some time though I think.
The other lesson we taught that night was with the Allen's, who we set expectations with last week. It went pretty well. We talked about helping establish his relationship with God and how to do it through prayer... we had a good long talk about it, but unfortunately, we didn't get him to pray there with us... He committed to pray every day, so hopefully he can do it and feel the Spirit.

Saturday:
Seriously, the crowning day of my mission. If not another thing goes right while I'm out here, I can go home knowing that I fulfilled my purpose by helping the Perez family go to the temple and be sealed for time and all eternity. It's ridiculous how powerful the spirit is in that ceremony... it reminded me a lot of the day that Michelle and Ryan were sealed. It's an undeniable feeling of knowing that you're participating in God's work and glory: to bring about the immortality and eternal life of man... as a family :-) It isn't the Hokie-Pokie, but it IS what it's all about.
After an awesome trip to the temple, we talked about old times, how the Pisters were going down to stay with you guys and say hello, and how they wish I could spend my last transfer in Woodburn... I can't lie, in a lot of ways I wish I could too...it's interesting being on the mission... you feel like you leave pieces of your heart in every area. Every time you're called to go, it tears you apart a little bit, and you leave some behind. The thing is though, that in the healing process of meeting new people and showing them as much Christ-like love as you can, your heart grows even larger, with an even greater capacity to love. We could say that my heart is in Sherwood right now, and I still absolutely LOVE all my other areas as well :-P.
One thing that was kind of a big bummer about getting out of the temple was that we were jolted back to reality by transfer calls. I was hoping to keep the same companion to the end of my mission, but much to our surprise, Anderson was called up to leave. We were frustrated, but what can ya do? We spent the rest of the day making some visits and then got home and crashed early so we could get up early to pack, because we didn't want sister DeLong to be up and stressing while he packed... she doesn't deal well with elders leaving.
Anyway, onward we go.

Sunday:
Sunday was a decent day... nothing too terribly exciting. Lots of packing before church, goodbyes at church, and temple tours after church, then more goodbyes to finish off the night. I don't wanna spend too much time on it, because what happened today was AWESOME!

Monday:
L. Tom Perry came to visit the mission! Holy cow it was awesome to hear his wonderful words of wisdom and love that seemed directed specifically at me and my situations in life. I realize that I truly do want to excel to the end-- not just endure it. Six weeks is still plenty of time to accomplish a lot of missionary work. I just hope that I can help plant some good seeds for the elders that follow me. There's not really anything specific to discuss about it, but yeah.... I'm about out of time, and I gotta go introduce the noob to everyone around Sherwood :-P

I love you guys so much, and I hope things are going so, so, so well... let me know if you end up finding a house down there in St. George... I'd love to live there haha.

I love you guys lots, and I'll talk to ya soon!

All my lovin',

Elder Kurt Mooney

Monday, August 15, 2011

August 15, 2011

Dearest Mommy,
It's interesting that you mention how Katie going off to school will be the best thing for her at this point in her life, so that she can think and act for herself without being under you constant vigilance. If I read correctly, you said that it will allow her to become who she really is without you telling her what to do... As I read that, I couldn't help but think that Heavenly Father probably thought the EXACT same thing when he sent you and I down here to earth... we reached a point where we weren't going to grow any more until we were given the opportunity to act and do things of our own free will and choice... I don't wanna say that God is an empty-nester, but I'm sure he had similar feelings sending his kids out into the world knowing they could potentially make some big boo-boo's, but recognizing, like you and dad do, that this is her opportunity to make some major growth happen in her life that she otherwise wouldn't gain... anyway, kind of a cool thought that came to mind :-)

This week has been...well... semi-eventful. Like always, let's start with last Monday, shall we? We ended up spending quite a bit of our monthly stipend for kicks and giggles haha... Don't worry, I won't be dipping into the "mommy and daddy fund" anytime soon, but it was kinda fun to get some new clothes from Marshalls for pretty cheap. One interesting thing that night happened during dinner though. We ate with the Dahl family, and good grief their kids are smart! Almost the entire dinner, they were scheming the various ways they could make money when they were older... almost to the point of obsessing over it. One of the kids asked his mom that if she had as much money as Bill Gates if she'd give him a million dollars. She said no, and the kid seemed quite upset about it. This gave me an idea of what we could share for the spiritual thought, so we took them to the book of Mormon after we finished eating. In the first chapter of Alma, there's kind of a cool story that happens. As the story goes, this is where Nehor starts preaching false doctrine, gets owned by Gideon, kills him because he was so mad, and in turn is executed. This causes a stir in the church, where some people leave, and others become stronger. The cool part starts in verse 27:

"26 And when the priests left their labor to impart the word of God unto the people, the people also left their labors to hear the word of God. And when the priest had imparted unto them the word of God they all returned again diligently unto their labors; and the priest, not esteeming himself above his hearers, for the preacher was no better than the hearer, neither was the teacher any better than the learner; and thus they were all equal, and they did all labor, every man according to his strength.
"27 And they did impart of their substance, every man according to that which he had, to the poor, and the needy, and the sick, and the afflicted; and they did not wear costly apparel, yet they were neat and comely.
28 And thus they did establish the affairs of the church; and thus they began to have continual peace again, notwithstanding all their persecutions.
29 And now, because of the steadiness of the church they began to be exceedingly rich, having abundance of all things whatsoever they stood in need—an abundance of flocks and herds, and fatlings of every kind, and also abundance of grain, and of gold, and of silver, and of precious things, and abundance of silk and fine-twined linen, and all manner of good homely cloth.
30 And thus, in their prosperous circumstances, they did not send away any who were naked, or that were hungry, or that were athirst, or that were sick, or that had not been nourished; and they did not set their hearts upon riches; therefore they were liberal to all, both old and young, both bond and free, both male and female, whether out of the church or in the church, having no respect to persons as to those who stood in need.
31 And thus they did prosper and become far more wealthy than those who did not belong to their church.
32 For those who did not belong to their church did indulge themselves in sorceries, and in idolatry or idleness, and in babblings, and in envying and strife; wearing costly apparel; being lifted up in the pride of their own eyes; persecuting, lying, thieving, robbing, committing whoredoms, and murdering, and all manner of wickedness; nevertheless, the law was put in force upon all those who did transgress it, inasmuch as it was possible.
Never once does it say that having lots and lots of money is a bad thing in there... it's all a matter of what ya do with it. If you handle it the right way, the Lord will bless you with more, because he knows he can trust you with it. The words from D&C section four come to mind "...with an eye single to the glory of God" seems to fit pretty well. If you have the right intentions and desires with it, you'll get it. Like it talks about in Jacob 2:18-19, if you seek first the kingdom of God, you will seek for riches with the intent to do good with them... kinda cool... and probably words of advice for myself as well since I go through cash like water haha.

Okay, aside from that, one funny thing we did this week for the Steers since they're out of town is that we babysat their dog Belle... I used to hate that stupid dog because every time we go over to the house, they open the door, and that little miniature poodle comes running through the doorway, barking, and biting my pant leg. Anyway, we ended up babysitting the little mutt, and because of it, now the dang dog won't leave me alone... she loves me! It's okay though, I've come to like her too haha.

Anyway, moving on. Tuesday, we had a sweet district meeting. Seriously, it was probably the best one I've had in English... ever! We talked about obedience for the spiritual thought, and it was cool to see how some of the elders have had struggles with obedience, but have all overcome that and are desiring to do what's right as cool kids and not as sticklers so that they can be themselves and still serve and work hard. For the training, we discussed how to begin teaching various types of investigators and members to help the more effectively come unto Christ. It turned out to be a really good thing where we learned a lot and were able to apply it to the family we taught that night... we've re-established expectations and are starting the lessons with them from the beginning to help him learn the gospel...sweet! Oh, and it's the Allen family :-)

Wednesday wasn't too terribly exciting... we visited Nikki and decided to pull back on the baptismal date we'd extended her because it's gonna take time to get her ready. Aside from that, we had a good visit with Joe (the jeep kid) where we helped him weld some new shock mounts on his rear axle because they both snapped off... lemme tell ya, Jeeps are REALLY high quality... especially the 1995 Wrangler SE model :-)

Thursday was really kind of a sad day for me... The reason being that elder Cox went home. Let me rephrase that so it doesn't sound like he's a sinner haha. Elder Cox finished his mission and went back to start school this coming week. I really feel like I lost a brother out here in the mission with him going home, and elder Van Hook too. It's interesting to see how as you go along in the mission, at first you build up a lot of ties with a lot of different people (missionaries especially). the further you get into your mission, however, those ties start to break. Not because you don't care about the people, but because they start leaving--disappearing. As you near the end of your mission, you see all of your close friends and examples going home, and not that you want to leave the mission early, but you miss all of them and feel that there's a void because of it... it's not something you can simply fill with a new elder, because the new elders don't share the experiences that you did with your close friends who have departed. I know this is a downer paragraph, but gosh it's an interesting phase of missionary life that I think happens to everyone.
Friday, we had a day of tracting, and I was really frustrated. I felt we didn't have any real success, and I kept asking myself "am I really being effective right now?" That kinda put me in a glum state of mind for a bit until we went to dinner. The DeMaris' had us over and invited Allie so that we could start the new member lessons with her afterward. Dinner was sweet, and Clint still makes me want to be a chiropractor (and I'm gonna do it!) when I finish my undergrad haha. Anyway, after dinner was what made the day sweet. The lesson we had with Allie was about the temple, and it totally ROCKED! Seriously, the Spirit was super strong, and the discussion we had was just awesome talking about the different aspects and blessing associated with it. Allie is gonna love it when she can go. Speaking of which, she's locked and loaded for baptisms on the 23rd of this month :-) After having that lesson, though, looking back on the day, I knew that the Lord had made that lesson possible as a way of saying "yes, that crappy contacting you did in the park today was worth it... now quit whining!"
Saturday, we had our SPC breakfast in McMinnville, came back, mowed the Steers lawn (and I spelled out "Mooney" in the back... pretty sweet haha), and had a picnic for dinner! It was awesome! Nikki (not the one we're teaching... she's a ward member haha) Davis' husband was going to be gone, so we had either the option of dropping off the dinner or doing a picnic, so we took advantage to have an awesome picnic in the park... it rocked! She and my DCBFF put together some awesome wraps, an Asian chicken salad (no, not the kind with ramen noodles in it), and some killer peanut butter chocolate chip cookies (which we have in the car and are still enjoying, might I add).
The only thing more sweet was Sunday. We had some sweet spiritual guidance given.. interestingly enough, both sacrament meetings were about service (guess this bodes well for the homecoming talk, eh?), and the talks were awesome! There was one given (actually by Nikki's husband Ben) that compared being selfish vs. being selfless... it was kind of an interesting talk in that it helped me recognize that sometimes what we see as selfless sacrifice is truly something very self-centered. I don't know, I really liked it though... it was pretty sweet.
After that, we had a rip-roarin' time down at the temple because we started doing temple tours! In all honesty, it wasn't anything terribly exciting, but it was cool because Allie had the opportunity to go to the temple for the first time and really feel of the Spirit that is there on the grounds... now that they finished remodeling it anyway :-P
Well, that's about the excitement for the week here. I'm looking forward to a full transfer of hard work to finish out the mission and seeing you guys afterward... it's gonna be awesome! I love you guys so much, and I hope that everything goes well with Katie Jo heading off to school... you'll have to forward me her address so I can write her when she gets down there... although it'll only be for a month or so haha. Transfer calls are coming this next Saturday, so we'll see how things pan out... who knows? The most logical would be to let me finish in Sherwood, but there's always the possibility that they pull me to finish my training in Spanish... Guess only time will tell! Ooh! L. Tom Perry is gonna be speaking that day!

love you all,

-Elder Mooney

Monday, August 8, 2011

Hard work and service

Dearest Mommy,

Well, this week was pretty dang exciting in some ways... lemme tell ya about it! This past Monday, we had one heck of a p-day cause guess what... Kyle came over from Bend to visit! We took him bowling with the Steers and Allie, and it was a total blast! We had a good time as we talked and joked about life and how badly we suck at bowling... I really miss hanging out with that kid on a regular basis. One thing that's funny is that holy crap he is so dang skinny! He has seriously lost a lot of weight! He said that he's running every day now, so I guess that definitely helps. Anyway, it made for a good p-day, although we've still got to find a way to throw him into the baptismal font haha. Someday it'll happen I'm sure.

Tuesday we didn't have any district meetings (thank goodness!) because we had zone conference the following day, but we got called in for a sudden move of the Forkner family... we were a little confused because just a week before we had talked to them about him helping us out with splits the next week, but I guess they're taking off, so whatever. Anyway, it turned out to be a good time talking and laughing with brother Forkner along with the two guys he hired to help them get everything moved into the truck. I have to say, it makes life about a thousand times easier when people actually take the time to box up stuff before calling in the moving crew... we were able to get the entire house moved into the truck within three hours... awesome right? I thought so anyway. The guys he hired to move were non-members, so we had some good chats about the gospel as we packed things into the truck and talked about their lives. One of them was named Taylor Bacon, and he was a pretty cool guy... he seemed pretty dang interested in why we served missions, how we are called, etc... Anyway, we ended up leaving him with a card with our number on it, so hopefully down the road it'll help him move toward investigating :-)

Wednesday we had zone conference, and I don't mean to be negative, but it was kind of a let-down. I usually absolutely adore them because of the spiritual boost you receive and the energy you get from them to help you get motivated to hit the ground running afterward. This one was different because instead of getting that usual boost of inspiring messages and spiritually packed time, we found that president Morby simply wanted us to teach him what he needed to do, and he was recognizing to the entire group that he's a greenie and that he doesn't have any real missionary experience aside from what he had over 40 years ago... for me, it was kind of demoralizing. I'm not saying he's a bad guy by any stretch of the imagination, it was just kind of... I dunno... it didn't give me the boost I was looking forward to. Actually, we (elder Anderson and I) were picked to help President Morby with the training. I guess it's not necessarily his job to ensure that spiritual boost... maybe instead of expecting to just take things away from it, it's our job to contribute for the other missionaries now that we're old farts :-P
The rest of the day wasn't all bad because we had dinner with the Steers, so we were able to vent our frustrations to them over some tasty beef ribs with baked potatoes and then head to splits with the Cedar Creek ward. It turned out to be a pretty fun time :-) Brother DeMaris and I headed to the McHugh's (a recent move-in part member family) and just shot the breeze with them. It was actually pretty fun because we were able to work in the word of wisdom and how it related to brother DeMaris' witch-doctor practices of chiropractics :-P It was a fun time, and he makes me want to be a chiropractor for sure haha.

Thursday we decided to drop in on a companionship that's been having some...ahem... struggles with getting up on time, so as an incentive , we bought some sausage mcmuffins from mickey D's and took them over at around 8:00... Unfortunately, they didn't answer the door, so we ripped off the big "M" from the bag and stuck it through the door with a note on a mormon.org card about being up next time to enjoy the tasty artery-clogging goodness, then headed to the Hedges Creek elders' apartment. Luckily these two were awake and we enjoyed some nice breakfast and personal study with them :-P.
The rest of the day was quite a party... we had a picnic in the park, and afterward we helped Allie to clean out/paint her apartment because she's looking to leave it. Now, Allie is a pretty clean person, but Jared and Mia (no offense to them, of course) were absolute pigs! Oh my gosh! So since they took off at the drop of a hat, they basically took nothing but the clothes on their backs, and left everything else. Unfortunately, that meant that we were left to clean it up. Wrappers, a dirty diaper, kitty poop, spoiled milk, a half-eaten apple, clothes EVERYWHERE, papers, no sheets on the bed... ugh. I won't even mention the rest of the stuff we found in there... it'll make for a good post-mission story for sure haha. Anyway, we got all that cleaned up and started painting. The rest of the apartment was fine, but Jared and Mia got the wild idea of painting their room...a nice turquoise blue! Bleh! Not only that, but they decided to get that paint on a few parts of the ceiling, as well as on the door frame and ONE panel on the closet doors, so we had to paint the entire closet because of it... frustrating! We primed it, waited half an hour, then painted it. After that, we had to head out for dinner, etc, but it was all good.

Friday I went on exchange with elder Cox so that he could say goodbye to Ella Rose and a few other folks, and it was really kinda sad... He goes home this week for school! Depressing right? Hopefully he can come visit you guys, or if you take a trip down to St. George you can meet him, cause he's an absolute stud I love him. Things that day weren't too terribly exciting, just service for my DCBFF as well as for Cher (Cox had to say goodbye to her and have one last "sparkle with Jesus" haha) before going to lunch with Mark Cottle one last time. The one productive thing we were able to accomplish was stake reports... thank goodness they're done, cause I HATE doing them haha. They're time consuming, and they only get looked at one time, but if anything isn't accurate, it's a big deal.

Saturday we had our stake reports breakfast, which was a good time with President Campbell at his house pounding down the food and talking about how the stake is doing. They have a goal of 120 baptisms... and so far we're at 24 haha.. We got the 20, so now we just need "an hundred" more as sister DeLong would say :-) Aside from that, we had a sweet lesson with a lady named Nikki. She's the recently made friend of a less-active lady who we invited to learn, and she accepted... it turned out to be a good plan, cause in this lesson that we taught her on Saturday, she accepted a baptismal date for the 27th of August! Sweet Now we just gotta make sure we can get her prepped for that day... although we're gonna have to help her quit smoking to do it haha.

Sunday was a pretty cool day except I completely forgot that it was fast Sunday until I had already eaten and was in the shower... that's what happens when you're butt-tired in the mornings I guess haha. I was sitting there waking up in the hot water when I got thinking about it... it went something like this: "man I'm tired... Oh well at least it's a Sunday cause they're usually pretty relaxing days... hmm... Sunday... what day is it again? The seventh? Hmmm the seventh... first sunday of the month. Wait a second, FIRST Sunday of the month!? Crap! It's fast Sunday! I got out of the shower and burst into the living room where Anderson was sitting quietly in the recliner and I exclaimed "It's FAST SUNDAY!" he told me "yeah... I was gonna tell you not to eat, but I thought you were just washing dishes... did you have breakfast already?" Gosh I have a geezer memory early in the morning sometimes. It's comical, but kinda scary I think haha.

Anyway, aside from my "D'oh!" moment in the morning, the rest of the day was power packed... especially in the Cedar Creek ward. this past week has been absolutely crazy. There have been two deaths, two births, a suicide, a baby blessing, a convert baptism, a child of record baptism, lots of service performed, and a lot of priesthood blessings. I don't want to say that this ward is so spiritual because of all of these hard experiences, but I would argue that the missionary work is rolling forward so well because of them... When people turn to the Lord in times like these, it allows the Spirit to manifest itself so much more plainly in their lives to the point where other people that don't have the gospel in their lives can see it. I know that it's helped Allie in her coversion process, I know that it helps us find new people to teach, and I know that's why this ward is thriving. Christ-like love and service are the recipe for success in any ward and in any aspect of the gospel... we've definitely seen the fruits of that in the past couple of weeks, and we're hoping to be able to enjoy more of it as time moves along here.

The only other thing to report from this week is that we spent some good time with Scott and Heidi last night and did a sort of family home evening with them... they don't spend much time together as an entire family, so this was awesome to have all of them sit down and be able to talk and laugh instead of just having the tube on. Gosh I love the gospel and I love missionary work. I really am sad that the mission is winding down... I'm going to miss it a lot. Granted, I won't miss a few things, but in almost every aspect, the mission has come to mean everything to me... it's helped me become someone completely different from who I was, and I will forever be appreciative to the Lord for that. Don't worry, I'm not checked out yet.. there's too much to accomplish before that time comes to start slacking now. I love you guys, and I'll talk to ya next week.

All my love,

-Elder Kurt Mooney