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.

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 :-)

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.

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'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 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!

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 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

Monday, August 1, 2011

Allie and friends & baptism pics

Busy week + baptism

2011 August 1
Dearest Mommy,

Well, if your week was eventful, that makes two of us, cause this week has been pretty nuts! Like always, we'll start with last Monday after emails... In all honesty, it wasn't anything too terribly exciting during the day, but that night was freakin' sweet! We had another family home evening at the house with sister DeLong, and it was a super awesome spiritual experience because this time, instead of just getting to know Allie, she was able to tell her a little about the modern day prophets that she knows... it was the best "follow the prophet" lesson EVER. We also went over the baptismal interview questions with her, and she totally aced it... it was awesome. Seriously, this girl has the brightest burning testimony of any person I know right now-- life-long member or recent-convert. The funny thing was that we ended up chatting with sister DeLong and the Steers+Allie family 'til... well... maybe I shouldn't say so we don't incriminate ourselves haha. Anyway, suffice to say we were up late as usual. :-)

Now, for the next couple days, I'll apologize in advance, because I'm going to be ranting and raving about how missionaries are sometimes quite retarded and also quite pharasaic. I won't name any names, but yeah... the stories speak for themselves.

Tuesday we had district meeting in Tualatin, and it was quite comical. In that district, the district leader always sends out a text the night before letting everyone know the subject of the spiritual thought for the next day so that everyone can prepare something because somebody is always called at random to give their thought. Anyway, the subject was diligence, and this elder was called on to give the thought. He said "I knew this was gonna happen to me today!" and I asked if it was because he hadn't prepared like he was supposed to. He retorted by saying "no, it's because I've been studying it a lot and my head is full of scriptures about it!" The funny thing is that he ended up pulling out Galatians 5:22-23. For those of you that don't know, those are the "fruits of the spirit", and they have nothing to do with diligence basically... he said, "well, longsuffering and goodness are kind of related in this scripture... but I really like what it says about diligence in the bible dictionary." So he flipped... and flipped... and flipped... and flipped... and then muttered "huh... I guess it isn't in here." Quite comical. The best part was that his companion, the district leader, got up afterward to continue on the agenda, and said "make sure that you're really putting some thought into your preparation with these, because they're not just for you. You're here to help the whole group feel the Spirit, and if your spiritual thought sucks, nobody is going to be edified or get anything out of it." Kind of a gentle smack-down :-P

Later that day, the same district leader (who is a total champ and whose name is elder Avey) conducted Allie's baptismal interview, which went wonderfully. She came out locked and loaded (and excited) for baptism.

Wednesday, there was another derty-der moment with a missionary unfortunately. We had our Wednesday district meeting in McMinnville, and when we got there, we found out that there was a companionship that didn't show up because one of the elders was "sick." I put it in quotations, because when we went to go see how he was doing, we found him asleep, and not sick at all haha. His companion had a look of "oh crap" on his face when he answered the door at 11:00, and his companion (the sick one) had an even bigger look of "oh crap" when I took about 50 very, very unapproved CD's away from him along with a pair of headphones. I didn't do it to be a friggin' Nazi, but this is the same kid who caught with an iPod touch and a Nintendo DS away from! Some people just never learn... ya know? I love the kid to death, but man he needs to stop being dumb as a box of rocks! In all honesty, I don't even mind if the elders aren't the most obedient as long as they're getting the work done that they're supposed to, but when they're disobedient AND don't get any work done, there's a major problem. Anyway, I'll have to tell you guys some fun stories about this whole situation when I get home haha... it's more fun that way :-P

Another thing that happened that day was with our investigator Nick. We went over to a member's home for our scheduled lesson with him, and we saw him walking past the driveway from the porch, and wondered why he wasn't coming up the driveway. We called to him, and again, we saw this look of "oh crap" on his face (we kinda seem to get a lot of that lately). He came over and said we were ready to start the lesson, and he said "oh yeah! Sorry I was spacin' man." He didn't have his book of Mormon with him, so we sent him to retrieve it from his house which is a whopping 300 feet from this member. He went to get it, and NEVER CAME BACK! We just kinda sat there and laughed about it with the Hamm's... unfortunately, we might have to drop him soon because of it. Oh well haha it was kinda comical.

That night we had splits with the Cedar Creek ward and taught Allie how to pay her tithing and about the law of the fast... it went pretty well.

Thursday, we did some epic service for Scott & Heidi again, and had a sweet talk with Sam. We got talking about her family and how her dad's opinion of the church has turned a complete 180 because of the example of the Steers family as well as from having us around... he's an awesome guy... I just wish we could teach him more often haha. One satisfying thing about all that dang service for them is that the house is looking way, way better too. :-)

Friday we had zone leader council, and it was another one of those "stupid missionaries!" moments. We spent more than 45 minutes talking about how the music policy had NOT CHANGED! It was friggin' ridiculous. When I talk about missionaries being pharisaic, this is where that came from, because it was a total joke. We had a missionary saying "well it doesn't say hymns as part of the approved music list. Does that mean that we can't listen to them? The Singles Ward soundtrack is all hymns, does that still qualify as approved?" Another person asked "what exactly is considered classical music? If I have a remastered rock album that is re-done by an orchestra, does that count as approved?" When we went to ZLC, I didn't know we were going to be re-writing the law of Moses... bunch of dang Pharisees. I know my attitude about all of this is super, super negative, but it's just so frustrating to have people so wrapped around the axle with this nit-picky nonsense instead of focusing on their purpose as a missionary... it's idiotic. Okay, I'm done venting, I promise!

After the Pharisee fest, we had dinner with the Rey family in the Woodhaven ward. I love that family because they give me an excuse to speak Spanish for an hour or so :-) Oh and yes mom, I do have time to speak it still... actually like every day, so I'm not losing it... thank goodness haha. Anyway it was fun because they invited a non-member family from Tacoma (dangit) that we talked to and became friends with. We were able to sneak the gospel in a little bit by talking about piercings and tattoos (their sons had quite a few) and relate it to the plan of salvation. It went pretty well... I just wish they didn't live far away so we could continue talking to them... too bad Anderson was sitting in the corner unable to understand... I felt bad! Luckily the kids spoke English though, so it was cool.

After dinner, we went and visited with Joe for a little bit. Gosh that kid is freakin' funny, and so is his member friend Kyle! We found them outside Joe's house trying to pick the lock on a "project car" they had just purchased for $300.00. I would have to say, it's worth about that. No keys, no title, no intake, swapped motor, and no exhaust. Awesome. Oh and it's a lowered Honda CRX. Pretty nice rice- I mean, ride for sure haha. Anyway, we talked with them for about an hour, and we're hoping for a lesson this coming week cause he's busy for the weekend working.

Saturday, we had an epic fail of a service extravaganza we were hoping for haha. We started with service for my DCBFF Christy Barker, where we tried to fix (and might I emphasize TRIED) her lawnmower. No offense to it, but it's kind of a P.O.S. haha. It's been sitting outside for quite some time, so trying to get it cranked up, I snapped off the crank rope... twice haha. Anyway, we got that all jimmied up, then went to work on the clutch assembly and got everything taken care of. Actually, it worked like a charm for a while and I was able to mow the front lawn! However, after killing it to roll it to the back yard, As I cranked it up and mowed for a good two or three minutes, all of a sudden it decided to quit. No explosions, no fires, no dramatic finishes, it just plain quit. Another project for another day, cause we had to leave for our next service haha.

The second one was to clear out weeds at the Steers in their backyard, but as we were doing that for about five minutes, we got a call from Classy herself (Ella Rose DeLong) asking if we could do her a huge favor and get her some salad because she'd run out. We bailed and got her the salad just in time to go to a barbecue with a part-member family that the stake was hosting... unfortunately, they weren't even there by the time we had to leave for our next service appointment... dangit! haha. We bailed out and headed to that one, which consisted of helping out the Ross family to move into their home again. Unfortunately, they weren't there when we showed up, so we called them. They told us to sit tight and play with the puppies for about 20 minutes so and they'd be there. Well, we did as we were told and played with some puppies... and some baby goats... and some duckies haha. Their house sits on quite a bit of property, and they have a bunch of animals, so it was a blastie playing with all of them... especially when the ducks and the dogs got into a turf war over the shade under some fruit trees. Comical, but we had to leave before they got there. Murphy's law though, they showed up just as we got in the car to leave haha. We talked to them for about five minutes, then took off to prep for the most exciting part of this whole long friggin' email... Allie's baptism!!!!!!

We showered, changed, and high-tailed it to the stake center. Once there, we set everything up, and had the best baptism of our entire missions. Seriously, it went so well, and the spirit was so strong. The coolest part of all of it was that instead of testimonies or some dorky movie during the time that she and elder Anderson were changing, we had everyone who showed up to the baptism write some words of love and support to Allie on a 3x5 note card to put into a photo album that she can keep with her... pretty cool right? That was sister DeLong's idea. We call her a prophetess for a reason haha.

Sunday was awesome and nerve racking... I was asked to confirm Allie, and the blessings promised in it made me kinda think "I said WHAT!?" Super cool though... she's going to end up being a leader in the church, her example is going to influence many and bring a lot of people into the gospel, and she's going to serve a mission with her hubby someday... pretty freaking awesome. Right after that, we blessed her little baby Carly. Adorable right?

Aside from that, I don't really know what else to write... I'm feeling frazzled and super pumped at the same time... it's been a really awesome week. Crazy, busy, stressful, boring, exciting, frustrating, joyful. I love being a missionary.

I'm so stoked that you got to have Ivan at the house... he's a sweet kid. He reminds me a lot of myself at that age, and it sounds like you guys had a huge impact on him for the good... way to be missionaries! :-)

My list of scriptures that I want you all to look at are as follows:

Mosiah 27:32-37 (come to Jesus, be a tool :-))
Alma 1:27-32 (Come to Jesus, you'll make more money :-))
Alma 3 (the curse is not on the skin)
Alma 4: 8-11 (your example as a member can help or hurt)
Alma 6:6 (how to help the missionaries from home :-))

I love you guys so much, and I hope that things are going really, really well at home now that you're getting all geared up for fish lake after having the whirlwind gang come through haha. I'll talk to ya next week!

Con carino,

Elder Kurt Mooney