Hello my Dear Family!
I'll begin with some responses first.
Dad - I'm so glad you told me about the living prophets thing, that has definitely been one of the very biggest things my testimony has grown on out in the mission. Those talks I recieved from the Apostles in the MTC have just given me an absolutely unshakable faith in them. Just this morning I taught my companions all about Elder Bednar's talk that I got and I think it's really going to help us do better. On your technical note, that is super exciting! Great call on the taking the upstairs TV out, being out here and having to tell people to shut off their TVs when we teach has been kinda an eye opener to me. Us missionaries don't watch ANY, and then about 90% of the houses we go to to teach people they have a TV going on just some random channel. I understand movies maybe but just the TV surfing is so weird to me now. . Definitely keep me posted on all that kinda stuff. If it makes you feel any better, I've only had two people besides family write me more than one letter out here :) Friends sure are a weird concept I've realized.
Mom - I did see Sister Alemany in the Temple! She was in my session as a worker but I didn't look around enough to see her, but then after I came out of the dressing room Elder Simpson (from Rigby... oh Idaho :P ) said that someone was looking for me at the front desk. So as I walked down the stairs I looked over and she was waiting for me there! That sure was a pleasant surprise. We had a fun talk about how Aust and Karen had been doing and it was crazy to me that they had been at the temple like 3 days before!! I'm glad that Darin and them have been reading my emails. Who all do you FW these to anyways? Crazy story though, yesterday at church, the Hamakers actually came to church to meet me! They're the parents of the sister in Holly and Darin's ward, and it was so weird to me that they could just drive up and say hi, because that made me realize how close I really am to Darin and Grandma & Grandpa and the Alemanys and everything :D Man, what are the chances I end up in Houston!
Austin - I can't believe how close you were to me this last week! Jeesh... so weird. I can't believe that of all the places in the US I end up in Houston where there's SO many connections to family and friends. I've already decided that sometime after the mission I'll definitely have to fly down here to visit. Visit Darin's family, the Alemanys, Grandma and Grandpa, and now with my mission I'll have (hopefully) converts to visit, as well as all the great member families here! How exciting :) Also, this morning, I was going to say something like, "Piece of junk/crap/trash" when my shaver wasn't working or something, but to make it more missionary appropriate I said, "Peace of mind!!" Haha, pretty good curse/play on words if I do say so my self :D I'll be using that all the time now I'm sure.
Alrighty, well, finally did my first full week of missionary work in the field!! This last tuesday we had an AMAZING lesson with a lady named Trina. She's a black lady that they've been teaching for like 6 months (did I already talk about her?) and she's had like 2 batismal dates but just cuz of smoking and some other stuff has had problems. Anyways, we went to teach her and had a big long talk about how her life has been going and stuff and even though that was the first time I'd really met her, the Lord blessed me with SOO much love for her! Even after like 10 minutes of listening to her I was already thinking of ways that I could help her out, what needs we could help her with, everything like that. She's having kinda a rough time with work and stuff, but her testimony is developing quite a bit and I can definitely tell that she's going to go somewhere. Elder Lindsay has been her for 6 months and actually found her in the first place, and he says she's had kinda an "Alma the Younger" experience so I am really excited to keep working with her. We also taught a guy named Stan and sadly he doesn't have a phone, so we'll find out how reading and praying about the BoM went for him when we go back tomorrow. Man... I've been worrying my head off all week about him. Hopefully things went good for him. It's been a little difficult here with the work just because of how hard it is to get people to follow through on appointments. We have like 7 people that have expressed a little bit of interest in us coming over, but when we go they aren't there, and that's been something hard to get used to. It's not really the fact that they ignore us that gets me down, it's more the fact that I feel like since I'm here in Conroe, I don't know how long I have to be here. But, I know the Lord has work for me to do here, so I just feel like I need to focus and work hard enough and fast enough so that I can get my work here finished before the Lord moves me down to Brazil. Anyways, I know it'll all work out fine, just a little difficult to get used to. We also finally went full blown tracting this week, and that was so enjoyable. It was nerve-racking at first, but the results of finding people that say we can come back is SO satisfying. Some of the door slam phrases have been SO funny to me. Before we could even say anything, people have said: "NOO." *slam* "I'm sorry, the dogs bite*SLAM*" "Gooo awaaaay" *no slam* (they didn't even bother opening the door :) (a guy looks out through the blinds:) "Aww maaannn...." Hahaha, I love it. Even though it is a little sad that they don't know what they're missing, it still cracks me up, keeps me on my toes for sure. One of my biggest desires I'm realizing is that with the awesome male force of the Bratsman side (and Ballard side as well) I really and dearly hope that all my cousins as well as the boys in the ward, primary kids me and Aust taught, etc, will prepare to go on missions. I know I've only been out 10 or 11 weeks but I have learned SO much already, and I know I'm going to keep learning and changing more and more as time goes on, and I wouldn't trade anything for that opportunity. Yesterday was kinda tough cuz we had about 5 lessons lined up for the day besides Church (which is the most we've had in a day since I've gotten here) and... Elder Batt came down with some BAD sickness... So we basically just went to church, and then came home so we wouldn't spread it around or anything. It drove me nuts cuz I'm not sick at all, so I just kinda sat around, studied, drew a little bit... it was tough. I know that it's not anyone's fault and I know I wasn't breaking rules or anything, but just the fact that we'll have to wait to talk to those 5 people till next week or whatever was kinda tough for me. I know it'll work out and all though. The Lord wouldn't let something as small as a little sickness get in the way of someone's salvation. I'm just excited to get out again this week! It's gunna be great!
Well, Thanksgiving!! Thanksgiving was kinda interesting because we were told specifically that we couldn't go procelyting. So... We started out the day by going to the highschool stadium to play football with some members and to show some non-members that we aren't just robots :) Tanner and Dad should be proud that I actually made my first touchdown ever that morning :D Haha... my legs are still sore from that dang game. Anyways, after that we did our studies, and then went to the Lanes' home for dinner. It was kinda weird because it was a lot more casual than our normal dinners, like people didn't all come at the same time, people weren't all eating together, stuff like that. But, the atmosphere was still really fun and it was great ot get the traditional turkey and potatoes and all that :) Such good food... yum. Luckily for us, right after that we went to the Pugh's house for another dinner! They're kinda a little bit older couple and they had a more traditional dinner and it was amazing. I just love the classic ham, turkey, rolls, potatoes, and pie dinner. Reminded me a lot of home. It's really weird how the taste of turkey always takes me right back to both Grandparent's houses, I like it. After that we went home and just kinda lounged around the apartment, it felt weird to just be inside so early but it felt good to rest again. The temple the next day was SO great. I absolutely love going there. Even though it's only been what, two weeks since going in provo, I just love being able to go back. It's weird to think that was prolly the last time for quite a while that I'll go. Defintiely a great spiritual charge tho. All you adults (and 12 year olds and up as well) GO TO THE TEMPLE!!! So many people here can't go because of schedules or worthiness or whatever, but my bishop during ward council talked about how if we strive to go to the temple often, all the other parts of our life will fall into place. I promise you that going will bring more blessings in any ways that you need them.
Thank you all so much for your support! I thank the Lord every day for this opportunity to be out here, and I'm striving the best that I can to be the caliber of missionariy I need to be to fulfill the responsibility that this calling requires.
I love you all so much!! Hurrah for Israel! (Austin, can I say that? Ha =D )