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,