Monday, August 31, 2015

August 31, 2015 Yeah for finding people!

Well, to answer some questions, our garden is doing great!  We have a huge pumpkin in it, and we have harvested about 8 zucchini, and 2 1/2 walmart bags of Lemon Cucumbers. (anyone else heard of those?  I hadn't till he picked them!)  We have some watermelon about the size of my head, and we have a ton of tomatoes, but hardly any have turned red yet.  So, not too shabby!  We haven't had any more real contact with Lisa, but we have been on the Reservation all week, and we will be there this weekend too.  We had to switch some things up, as far as weekends here. 

This week we went through the Branch list to see some of the other members that we haven't met yet, and we were able to meet 2 other families!  They were super nice, and we had some good conversations with them!  One was L (different one haha) and the other was J.  We were told to come visit them again sometime, so we're totally going back this week!  

We visited B, one of the people during the Pow-wow that called to us and talked with us for a bit.  He's a sweet guy, and so is his family!  It was good to get to know them a little bit.  They absolutely love the pictures we showed them!  They keep asking us to bring more to show.  We're running out fast!

We got to see M this week!  It's been a couple weeks since we've seen her!  We just couldn't get in contact with her.  But we did, and hopefully she can start coming to church soon! 

The Whitehawk kids are doing great as usual.  We decided we would listen to everyone's advice to use the childrens songbook, and they loved it.  They stayed focused longer and learned a lot!  And, this week 4 of them got to come to church!  Miah and Luke were baptized before I got here, and Genio and Mayla came this week!  They are sweet kids.  We keep hoping that there will be a way to get the rest of the kids there, but they are pretty short on seats in the car.  

We were able to go to Rushville this week and meet with some of the members up there.  Than we went to Hay Springs and visited a man named J.  Now for the fun part!  Last week, we were at the jail and while we waited to be let in to see G there was a young man, probably about our age, standing their waiting, so we started talking to him.  As we talked, he told us he is planning on being a minister, that he had read some of the BoM and loves what he has read so far, that he is reading some of the Apocrypha, and so on.  As we talked, the door opened and we had to rush in, but we handed him our card and told him to give us a call.  Now, when we knocked on J's door, guess who answered?  The guy from the jail!  He looked surprised, and I'm sure we did too, so we chatted for a bit, than he went and got J, and we were invited in for dinner with the family!  We were able to get to know the whole family, and C is J's nephew.  They are a sweet family, and when we finished up dinner, we realized that we were late for getting pack to P-Ridge before our car turned into a pumpkin, so we had to jet.  We originally weren't planning on going to see J, cause we had other plans, but we decided to go see him, and obviously, it wasn't our thoughts, but the promptings of the Holy Spirit.  I loved chatting with them and getting to know them a little bit, and when C showed us where he was in the BoM, J (who hasn't been to church in many years) says "now, THAT is a great book."  What an experience!

Well, that's all folks!  Love you all!

Elder Carter V

August 25, 2015 Mt. Rushmore!!!

To answer some questions, the Whitehawk kids are mostly 9 year olds and younger that sat in on the lesson, just the 2 that were 11 and 13.  L couldn't come to Meet the Mormons, her nephew was having a B-day party at the bowling alley.  But, we had a good turn out of members there and I think that was important!  They all said they loved it, and I'm hoping it rekindles the fire of the gospel in their lives!

So, this has been a good week all except for Wednesday (I was sick).  After that it was great though!  We met another 9 year old Whitehawk grandchild who also wants to be baptized! I've wrote her name down, but I can't remember it right now...  There are a ton of kids there!

Other than that, we prepared for the Meet the Mormons showing, than on Saturday we helped out with the baptism of our Branch Presidents daughter (I got volunteered to tickle the ivories about 20 minutes before it started), which was great!  There were probably around 30 people there, and about 20 weren't members. Than we went home to eat than prepare more for Meet the Mormons.

The reason I didn't email yesterday is because we had a Specialized Training meeting in Rapid City, so our P-day was moved to today.  It was, as usual, amazing.  I loved it.  President and Sister Hess as well as the Assistants gave trainings, and than afterwards we had interviews.  I got to talk with Sister Hess for a while.  she is a wonderful lady.  She just radiates love and happiness.  My interview was great, and President Hess also radiates love and happiness.  I absolutely love that man and his wife.  We carpooled with our district leader and his comp, and when Elder Wilson (the DL) went in for his interview, he was probably in there for about 2 minutes than came out and said "Elders, we're going to Rushmore!"  Which we got all excited about, but turnes out he asked President if we could go to Mt. Rushmore next time we are in Rapid, and he looked at his watch and said "Elder, go now!  We don't want you to miss that opportunity.  This is a unique experience!"  So, even though it wasn't P-day, we got to go see Mt. Rushmore!  We were so pumped, and it is a beautiful drive the whole way there.  Rapid City is one nice place!  

That's about all that's happened this week.  Love you all!

Elder Carter V

Hope you like the pics
The second picture is from Left to Right Elder Peay (my trainee), Me, Elder Lindeman, and Elder Wilson.
Hope you liked our attempt at looking like Mt. Rushmoore!  It was worth a shot, yeah?
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Tuesday, August 18, 2015

August 17, 2015 Never a dull moment... Unless you are driving hundreds of miles... Daily.

Hello everyone!

This week has been crazy....  First, we needed to change the oil in our car, but we had to drive to Rapid City (which is about 120 miles away) in 2 days so we can't wait till Rapid, but we can't get the oil changed in our town so we have to go to Chadron which is where we have district meeting, but we didn't have DM this week since we were going to Rapid, so we had to drive 45 miles out of the way to get our oil changed, found out our oil pan is leaking because they put a faulty gasket in it the last time they had it replaced, so we went to the dealership to get it fixed, and the closest part is in El Paso, Texas, and who knows if they are willing to sell it to us, and all the manufacturers are backed up for that part since, for some reason, everyone in the U.S. needs that part right now, so we had quite the exciting week!  I swear, I've been on the phone all week.  We also found out that there is some stuff that belongs to the Mission that is in the church shed and we need to get that moved, but no body knows what is ours and what isn't, so we have to figure all that out and let the mission office know and than see what we need to do with it then, so yeah!!  It's been a crazy week!  I feel bad for my greeny.  He hasn't tasted real missionary work yet.  He's been stuck with a ton of driving and phone calls and figuring out the darn paper work!!  

On a much happier note, we had a great week teaching the 9 year olds!  D(the super shy one) talked to us and made eye contact multiple times as we taught the Plan of Salvation, which he and his grandma had been wondering what happens to people after they die since they have had many deaths in the family.  We taught E, which is interesting since she doesn't remember anything that the past missionaries taught, but that's okay cause we don't have to worry about what she has been taught, we just get to start over.  

Than we went to the Whitehawks on Thursday, but they were busy so we left a short message than came back the next day to teach them.  Genio wan't there but Mayla was, so we were gonna teach her the Plan of Salvation, than a bunch of the other grand kids wanted to sit in on the lesson, which is about 5 other kids. 2 of the grandkids were Tyler, who is 11, and Chloe, who is 13.  As we taught they would ask questions, and they asked a ton of questions.  It was like rapid fire just endless streams of questions from her and Tyler!  As we answered their questions, more would come up.  After asking a lot of questions concerning what happens after this life, Tyler asked "What if you are afraid of dying?"  I sat there for a little bit, not really knowing what to say, than the answer came.  "As you come to know that what we just taught you is true, that fear will leave."  He than looks at me and says "That's what I thought, cause now that you told me this, I'm not afraid to die any more."  Than, after we talked to them about Baptism and ow we must be baptised in order to go to the Celestial Kingdom, they asked "what about babies?  What if they die before they are baptized?"  We explained that because of Jesus Christ, children are made perfect in Him, they are taken straight to Heaven, because children cannot sin. They haven't learned right from wrong yet.  If God sent Children to Hell because they died before they could be baptized, He would be a partial God, and we would have no one to put our faith in.  But, He is not a partial God, he is a just God, and we can put full trust and faith in Him, knowing that he will judge us justly at the last day.  Once we told them this, Tyler asked "Can I be baptized?"  Of course, we said yes!  He asked what he has to do to be baptized and we told him that we have certain things to teach him before than so that he understands just how important it is to be baptized, and that when he is, he is making promises with God. Than we realized it was 9 and we still had a 40 minute drive back to the apartment, so we needed to jet, but we told them we would be back next week.  As we were leaving, a bunch of the younger kids dragged Chloe up to us and yelled "She has a question!!"  Chloe than asked us the same question as Tyler.  And we gave the same answer, and told her we wished we could stay longer, but we needed to follow the rules and get home.  It was a super exciting experience for us!  We loved to be with those kids, and the Spirit was so strong as they listened to how what we taught brought peace as we answered their questions!

And that is all that I have to say for this week.  Thank you all for your prayers and for your love!  I love and miss you all! 

Elder Carter V

Monday, August 10, 2015

August 10, 2015 First Week Training!

First week Training!!  Well, sort of.  For transfers we left Gordon Wednesday night and on the way up we went through the Rez, and got a very pleasant surprise!  We passed through the Badlands.  It is a super cool place!  We stopped and took some pictures, and when we got to Rapid and showed the pictures to our District leader (who we car pool with when we have Zone meetings) he asked us "What do I have to do to make it so that we can go through there this next ZTM?"  He is super pumped to go see it! spent the night in Rapid City at one of the Elders apartments, than at 6:30 in the morning my comp left for Bismark in the van.  I spent the day with my trainer, Elder Wright!  He is my Zone Leader and he was getting a new comp that day too, so we were paired up.  We went around Rapid getting things set up in the apartments.  One was closing, another needed furniture, and we had the truck, so we did the work haha!  Than we went to the Stake Center to wait for the Transfer van to arrive with our new comps. I didn't even meet my comp till about 8 Thursday night.  

Here's a picture of the Badlands!! I'll send more later.

So, my greenies name is Elder Peay (pronounced "Pay") from Morgan Utah, he is a month younger than me, he is very excited about the work, and training is interesting.  I keep forgetting that I have to teach him about all these things that are second nature to me now, but that is new to him.  

This last week we taught a lady named L. She is a teacher and was a former investigator that missionaries had just forgotten about as companionships changed. It's been a couple years since she has met with missionaries. We stopped, only expecting to set up a return appointment, but she let us right in, and we talked with her for a while than ended up teaching her the Restoration. As I taught (Elder Peay and I hadn't gone over the Restoration lesson yet... Yay for first day!) I could feel the Spirits presence, especially when we got to the 1st vision. As I recited Josephs experience, the phone rang.  Coincidence?  I think NOT!  Once she hung up again and as we started talking about the BoM and that she could pray to know it is true, the phone rang again! She seemed pretty interested, but it didn't seem like she understood the importance of what we had told her. She asked some pretty good questions and we were able to answer them, and she seemed very accepting with what we had to say. We couldn't set up a return appointment since her schedule is pretty crazy now that school is about to start, although she did accept the commitment to read and pray about what we had taught her.

Other than that, I spent a lot of time in the car.  A LOT of time in the car.  Not much else happened.  

Love you all loads, and hope all is well!

Elder Carter V

Sunday, August 9, 2015

August 3, 2015 My first Pow-wow and my comp gets attacked by a banana

To answer some questions, Elder Wilde and I are getting along great.  We have a ton of fun, and I'm gonna miss him when he goes home on Wednesday.  But, on a happier note, I get to train!  I'll meet him on Thursday (I think)!

Something I think is interesting.  When I first arrived in the area, I was pretty worried about racism on the Rez.  Now, I'm not worried one bit about the Rez.  It's those darn white folks!!  They scare me to death!  I don't mind walking around the Rez one bit, but once I start walking around Gordon, I get a little nervous.  It's backwards, I know. 

This week has been fun!  First off, this weekend was the big Pow-wow in Pine Ridge!  People came from all over the country to be here!  I got to see real Native dancing and hear real Native singing and drumming, and see the real costumes and had real Indian Tacos, and got a "Strippling Warrior" shirt from a member selling custom T's there!  I'll have to take a picture and send it next week!  We only got to spend around 3 hours at the Pow-wow...  We were going to dedicate all of Saturday to walking around the grounds, but my companion had an allergic reaction to a banana and we spent the rest of the day in the apartment.  He broke out in hives and his whole body itched and he puked a few times.   But don't worry, he is fine now!

While walking around the Pow-wow grounds, we had a bunch of people come up to us and start talking to us!  Most of them would say "Hey, I'm a Mormon!  I don't go to church anymore even though I should.  Maybe I should start coming again."  We met a bunch of members from out of town too!  They are sweet!  So far, my favorite native names are either "Iron Lightening", "Not Help Him" or "Jealous of Him".  Yep, that is their real last name.  Pretty sweet!  Love the people here.  Can't say that enough.  Friday night we were walking back to our apartment and this kid was walking in front of us, he looks back and starts talking to us like we were old school mates!  Than, he popped the question, one that I never thought I would be asked, definitely not in the open, nor while wearing a tag that says "Jesus Christ" on it.  He asked me "Hey, you wanna buy some weed?"  Needless to say, we said no.  As we walked away, his friend started to rebuke him, but he responded "you can't be shy about selling weed man!  You just gotta do it!"  

And that is about all there is to update.  Since everyone was busy with the Pow-wow, we didn't get to visit anyone, and Saturday was spent cleaning the apartment since we don't have a P-day in Pine Ridge and my comp was out of commission.  

I love you all loads.  I'm loving it here, and I can feel your prayers and your love. 

Elder Carter V

July 27, 2015 Oh, to be a kid again

First, I wanted to thank the CTR 5 class for their letters!  It made me smile!

Now I have a question for you guys.  Do you know of any good object lessons?  Cause since we are teaching a bunch of 9 year olds, we need to help them enjoy it and make sense to them.

This has been a super good week!  First off, we had 11 people come to church, most of which haven't been in a very, very long time!  That was awesome!  Second, we are now teaching 3 of the Whitehawk grand children, one of which is Mayla (I will get into that more in a bit), and I have officially eaten Ostrich!  Sister Browne gave us the left over package of patties (they were Ostrich burgers) and we cooked them up at the Group Leaders house.  Fun!

So, update on the Whitehawks.  First off, Vina's grandson, Daeden, is extremely quiet and doesn't know anything about God or Jesus Christ, so we have to start from square one.  He said maybe 5 words when we were there.  Than when we went over to Eugenios house to teach Mayla and Genio, I put my questions to the test.  Mayla doesn't understand almost any sign language.  She knows just enough to servive around the house, and a little bit more, some of which she made up herself.  But she reads well so we will be doing a lot of writing and video watching haha!  Genio is great, he understands very well and seems to soak it all in.  

Story time!  After we taught Genio and Mayla, Mayla signed "Play" to us, so we looked at each other, looked at our watches, than decided it would be good to play with the kids.  We played tag, hide and seek (within sight and sound of each other of course), and man has it been a long time since I have done any running!  It was a blast though!  After a while, one of the littlest girls (probably 5 ish) started to cry, so I came over and asked her if she was okay, and she nodded and said "I just want my daddy", so I walked her into the house, and when I opened the door to let her in, her mom says "oh, sweetie, what's wrong?" to which she responded through gasps and tears "Nothing, I'm just crying!"  Man, kids are too fun!  Than we had to leave cause it was getting late.  All good things must come to an end, but man was it a good thing!  Up until that point none of the kids really responded to us, but now we are thick as thieves!

There has been a fair and rodeo in town this week, and we missed all of it except for the parade!  So dissapointed that we missed it all!  The parade was fun though.  Except they didn't have any pooper scoopers, and a lot of horse poop.   We were sitting on the back of a truck, so we stuck out pretty good, and there was a float that came by with kids that had squirt guns, and my companion said "10 bucks they aim at us."  I laughed cause I didn't want to take the bet.  Guess what?  We got soaked.  But mostly our pants!  Our shirts stayed dry, thank goodness, cause no body wants to see me with a wet white shirt.  Some of the youth from the branch were there and they just took off when the kids targeted us! We laughed pretty hard!! 

On the 24th of July, we had a get together at the Gordon Branch!  It was the best turn out that we have had since I've been here!  We played football with the youth while dinner was cooking, than we had dinner, than we watched "Meet the Mormons".  This movie is officially my favorite.  Now, I liked it before the mission, but I loved it this time.  The people are just so real!  The spirit is so strong in when watching that movie, and it's all because these people are bearing their testimonies as they live their daily life.  That is one of the things that really sticks out to me.  This isn't a religion of Sunday worship.  It is a life style.  We are who we are because of this church.  But it is more than just a church.  It is the doctrine that is taught.  I shared this before, but it comes to mind again.  When someone accused the prophet Joseph Smith of seeking power, he responded "In relation to the power over the minds of mankind which I hold, I would say, It is in consequence of the power of the truth in the doctrines which I have been an instrument in the hands of God of presenting unto them, and not because of any compulsion on my part...  I ask, Did I ever exercise any compulsion over any man? Did I not give him the liberty of disbelieving any doctrine I have preached, if he saw fit?  Why do not my enemies strike a blow at the doctrine?  They cannot do it:  it is truth, and I defy all men to upset it." (Teachings of the presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith, 284)  That is how this gospel works.  We are taught doctrine, and others choose to live it.  And they are blessed because of it, which is proof of the truth of this message.  I'm always amazed at the fruits of the gospel!  This movie really brings those out so nicely too!  

That's about all the excitement for the week.  Love you all!

Elder Carter

July 20, 1015 New Mission President!

So, I was informed that I didn't talk about the Pine Ridge apartment, so here goes!  It is a little house behind the church.  It used to be a Senior couples home, but now it's ours.  It's really nice, and they just put new carpet in it.  I get to sleep on a queen sized (maybe king, I don't really know the difference) bed there!  Super comfortable!  We also have a garden that the young men and women are taking care of, but we do some of the watering and weeding too.  We're getting some tomatoes now!  Go us!

In this area, there are a lot of less-active members, and most of them have super strong testimonies.  Many don't come because of their roads.  Many of them have super long dirt drive ways that are all washed out, and when it rains there is almost no way to drive out, and I think that most of them just got out of the habit.  Some of them are offended for different reasons, or don't want to come because no one else comes, or don't like the new Branch President, but I think most of them don't come because they just got out of the habit over the winter. 

So, here is the way the Whitehawk family tree works (I will do my best, but it might just turn out a jumbled mess, cause that's what it is in my head.) You have Vina, Ardegene (both of whom I haven't talked about before), Martina, and Ugenio are all siblings.  Vina is Kiles mom (kile is one of the guys in the prison that we are teaching), Ardegene I don't know much about, Martina is Genes grandma (the other guy in jail), and these 3 all live in the same city but different houses and property.  Ugenio is married to Denice, and they are the ones that have more kids and grand kids living with them than I can keep track of.  Mayla, the deaf girl, is one of their grand daughters.  That's about all I know for now... Maybe I'll figure it out eventually.  Hope that helps a little!

Update on Mayla!  Ugenio and Denice want her baptized, but they have been wanting to get an interpreter to come so that we can teach her, so it hasn't happened yet.  Plus, she is about to turn 10, so it is about the right time.  This week we visited them again, and I got to do a lot of signing with her!  But, we have a problem.  Her grandma explained to me that she doesn't really know sign language, but they made up their own signs so that they can communicate with her, which explains why I had no idea if she understood me.  And she didn't understand me, so that solves that!  She is going to school and learning ASL, so hopefully it gets better in the future.  It's super nice to sign with someone again!  

We got to meet the Mission Pres and his wife on Friday!  We drove up to Rapid City (we had to get up at 5, leave a bit after 6, so that we could arrive at 9...  Long drive) and had a mini zone conference!  It was so good!  Plus, Elder Wright, my trainer, is my Zone Leader, Elder Bradley, my MTC Comp, is in my zone too!  We had a ton of fun, and it was super nice to see them again!  There were a lot more missionaries there that I knew from past areas, which I didn't expect to see again, at least not so soon.  

During our zone conference, as we got to meet the Pres and his wife, they told us how a mission president is called.  It isn't something that they send in papers for like it is for us.  When they are called, it starts at a stake level, than a member of the 70 comes and visits them, than later an Apostle.  Once it gets there, the list is narrowed down to about 100, which than the quorum of the Twelve Apostels, as well as the Prophet and his counselors meet in the temple and go through each name one by one.  Than, the decision is made.  I know that president Hess and his wife were called here for us.  They didn't aspire to get here, they didn't take classes to move up on the totem pole, they didn't pay to get to this position, but they qualified themselves by following Gods laws, and they lived worthy of this amazing calling.  They are truly inspired, and this church is truly headed by men called of God.  I love this Gospel!  I keep thinking of something a man told us before he slammed the door.  He said "Boys, I have heard every argument for and against you guys.  You are deceived.  Look to Jesus Christ, not the church of Jesus Christ."  Where is He to be found, but in His church?  In the church of Martin Luther?  Or of the Presbytery?  The church of Rome of Greece?  The church of St. Paul, or Patrick, or Mary?  If it is His church, it will be called in His name.  Funny, how in 1700 years since his church was persecuted into extinction, no one has believed enough in their cause and in their teachings to call it His church.  It is a bold statement to call it The Church of Jesus Christ.  It's bold to say we have a Prophet, that God and Jesus Christ appeared to a 14 year old boy in the 1800's, and that through that boy scripture was revealed.  it is bold to say that God speaks to man, and that what that man says is scripture when he is speaking with the Holy Ghost.  And yet, we say it.  We declare it upon the house tops.  We go door to door declaring this good news!  We declare it despite personal pain and sorrow and death.  We live what we know to be true, and we love it.  I wish I would have told that man that if you are to look to Jesus Christ, you will look towards the Chruch of Jesus Christ, because that is where He will be.  Men do not lead this church.  Men can't lead this church.  But God qualifies those that He chooses.  We can be made more than we can be on our own.  What a glorious thing to be able to say!  To soberly and truthfully declare!  I love this Gospel, and I love my Savior, and my Father, and His prophets both old and young.  I love the prophet Joseph Smith, who's life was taken by those who should have loved him and nurtured him, and all because he declaring that Jesus is the Christ, the very Son of God, and he declared it with authority not given of man.  He has sealed his testimony in his blood, and because he did that, we all have the blessing and privilege of participating in the blessings of the kingdom on this earth.

Here is a quote I found this week.  Hope you like it!

Elder Dale G. Renlund in the April 2015 Conference said "a saint is a sinner who keeps on trying" and he concluded his talk by inviting us to “evaluate our lives, repent, and keep on trying. If we don’t try, we’re just latter-day sinners; if we don’t persevere, we’re latter-day quitters; and if we don’t allow others to try, we’re just latter-day hypocrites. As we try, persevere, and help others to do the same, we are true Latter-day Saints. As we change, we will find that God indeed cares a lot more about who we are and about who we are becoming than about who we once were.”

Well, I'm out of time.  I love you guys loads!  

Elder Carter V

13 July 2015

To answer some questions, my new mission president is President Hess, I believe from Idaho.  The South Dakota Rapid City Mission is now the North Dakota Bismark mission.  I haven't eaten the Ostrich yet, but Sister Browne gave us the left overs.  They are Ostrich burger patties.  So, here's hoping!  The Kangaroo really wasn't that great.  It's pretty rubbery and doesn't have much taste to it, at least the way they served it this time.  The Mt. Oysers weren't that great.  Eating them is fine as long as you don't think about what you are eating, but fried pickles are super good!  This week we had very few people in Pine Ridge, but we had quite a few people in Gordon.  Probably 30?  Maybe 25.  I didn't really count.  The Whitehawks are members, but they hardly ever come to church.  Gordon is not on the Rez, but there are a fair amount of Natives there.  Not a whole lot, probably half the population.
Well, I'm gonna start with my adventure this week.  Saturday, my companion and I were invited to our Branch Presidents Ranch.  To assist in the branding of his cattle.  That, my friends, is an interesting experience!  So, first off, it took us an hour and a half to get there, and the last 10 minutes were spent driving up his driveway.  Once we got there we saw everyone (there were probably 15 people that came for it.  It's a family ordeal.)  inside a corral, 3 people on horses with their lassos spinning over head.  We get there, have a nice warm welcome, than here one of the calves start mooing as a lasso tightened around it's leg, and we got to see how it is done!  Long story short, you get to wrestle with a cow (okay, kind of... but not really).  They are strong little guys, even when they are only thigh high!
After we finished branding, we went to their house and had ribs from their pigs (which was amazing.  Nothing like the real stuff) as well as bacon in their beans, and it was just a very good day.  Hopefully I can get some pictures from them!
This Sunday, while sitting at the Sacrament table, thee was no prelude.  I kept waiting for the lady who plays the piano to start, and it never happened.  Than, the lady who conducts pushed play on her CD player.  Turns out that the Pianist can only make it every other week or something like that, so we didn't have one.  By the time I realized this, the meeting was starting, so after church, while waiting to go visit some people with Pres. McKimmey (our brancy Pres.) I decided to sit down and play while we were waiting.  Than, after a little while, Pres. walks in and says "Hey!  Why didn't you tell us you play piano?  We could have used you in Sacrament meeting!"  To which, I sheepeshly responded that by the time I realized their was no pianist it was a bit late and I didn't want to make a scene.  He just laughed and said "Well, now we know, so expect it in the future!"  He is one amazing man.  Always smiling, always kind, and very missionary minded.  
So, on a more spiritual note, I was thinking about the Native Americans and their lineage, that they are the Lamanites.  Me and my comp were listening to a talk by Spencer W. Kimball all about the Lamanites and the prophecies that they are a part of.  And then I started thinking about how they are being fulfilled.  The lamanites are to blossom in the last days.  The seeds are being planted, and some are begining to blossom.  One example is MW.  She is a member that wants to come to church but hardly ever can since she doesn't have a car.  She has a very strong testimony of this Gospel, and as we were talking with her, I thought of the prophecy that they will blossom, and she is evidence that it is happening already.  She has blossomed as she has endured her trials (which she has had many ranging from having to sleep fully dressed, ready to run because people would shoot at their house to loosing 3 of her children)  and as she has endured, relying wholly upon her Savior, staying true to her temple covenants, she has been made strong.  She is an inspiration, and just another testament that this truly is the Lords work and His church.  Something she said was that even though she has had times where she didn't follow what she was taught, times when she wondered why bad things were happening to her, she has never doubted it's truth, and even though she has always known it was true, there are still times that something happens and she thinks "Oh!  Now I REALLY know it's true."  And those things happen all the time.  As we learn and grow we will continue to grow our testimony, and we will have moments that we might ask "Is this really the truth?"  And than something will happen when we say "Yes, now there is no doubt in my mind."  And we continue on this cycle.  It's amazing to see it work like that.  Those little Tender Mercies of the Lord that help us keep going just a little farther, and give us that confirming witness that this is true.  I love this work!  
These are some quotes that I found recently.  Hope I'm not repeating myself haha! 
"A vague creed can only come from a vague God.  The Ten Commandments didn't say "thou shalt be a good person," it was specific." - Elder Neil A. Maxwell
"We love what we sacrifice for, we sacrifice for what we love." - Unknown
And, in light of the legislative decision, I think this quote is very appropriate.  Oh, and since he just passed away, I also think it appropriate to honor his memory with this as well.
"The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the serious spiritual consequences that is the result of the violation of God's law of chastity." - Pres. Boyd K. Packer.
Love you all!
Elder Carter V

July 6, 2015 The Rez life

This week has been interesting to say the least!  

I'll start with the adventures in Gordon.  First off, a shout out to the wonderful Sister Browne here in Gordon.  She feeds us lunch every day that we are in town, and will ask us if we have a dinner appointment periodically and if we don't she takes us out somewhere.  She is a wonderful lady! She is the head of Dietary at the hospital in town so she gets to order the food, and right before I got there they did a "No guts, no glory" challenge.  I don't remember what all they had, but it included ostrich eggs and Kangaroo meet.  They had left overs of the Kangaroo meet, so I can now say that I have eaten Kangaroo!  Who knew I would be having that on my mission!

 Now, this last week when she took us out to eat, she asked if we had ever had Rocky Mountain Oysters, which we hadn't, so we got some, as well as some fried pickles.  So, I can mark those off my bucket list, and call it good!  Next, when we got back from Pine Ridge, the Runninghawks were feeding us dinner, and about 8 it started to just poor rain, and by the time we left, about 8:45, there was 8 inches of water on main street.  Crazy!

Now, for the first experience on the rez.  I want you to picture a small town that is mostly trailer houses that aren't very well taken care of, surrounded by fields as far as the eye can see with a few rural homes spread out with no method to their placement, and only a couple paved roads that will eventually turn into dirt roads that aren't taken care of and are littered with pot holes and hug dips and runoffs from the rain. More often than not, there are no addresses.  Sometimes there are street names, usually there aren't any house numbers.  When you want to find someone, you ask someone that you know, otherwise, good luck!  Our apartment in Pine Ridge is what used to be the Senior couples home right behind the church, which is pretty nice.  This last Sunday there were 14 people at church, 4 of which were visiting from Rapid City, and 2 were under the age of 6.  This Sunday was the day that the Branch became a group since their aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders to actually function, so now we are a part of the Chadron, Nebraska Ward, although we will continue to meet in Pine Ridge.

While in Pineridge, we visited a family (which is more like a clan) called the Whitehawks (they are native american in case you are wondering.).  The family consists of the grandparents, about 3 or 4 of their children, and about 11 or 12 of their grandchildren.  I think.  I lost count pretty fast once I got there.  The grandpa is the chief of police on the rez, so he is super busy, but man, can that guy talk!  And it's not boring either!  He has some pretty awesome stories!  They are a great family.  They have a daughter who's probably 12 or 13 that is deaf!  I got to do a little signing with her, but it has been so long, and she went outside to play with her cousins so it was a pretty short conversation.  But man, it was good to sign again!  Now I have to practice up for the next time we go there.  

Right before we left Pine Ridge, we stopped at the jail to visit a less-active member named K there.  He asked for us to come and visit him, and it was great.  President Wahlen (the former branch president, now group leader) came with us, and we had a great conversation with him and got to read parts of Mosiah with him.  He's similar to the other young man that we visit in the jail in Rushville who both of them have been put in jail for things that could have been avoided had they put more thought into it, but they didn't, so it happened.  They both know that it is because of the influences in their life, and they want to change them.  They both get out pretty soon, I think, and  they are ready to change their lives for the better, and it's really cool to see their desire to change.  Too few people even want to change, not to mention actually do change, and it gives me more hope.

And that is all from me for this week!  Here's a few quotes

"Jesus Christ, the Only Begotten Son of God, suffered, died, and rose from death in order that He could, like lightening in a summer storm, grasp us as we fall, hold us with His might, and through our obedience to His commandments, lift us to Eternal Life." - Elder Holland "Where Justice, Love, and Mercy Meet."

"The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but his suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  It's purpose is change." - Elder Oaks "The Lords Way"

To believe that someone or something can make us feel offended angry, hurt, or bitter, diminishes our moral agency and transforms us into objects to be 'acted upon'." - Elder Bednar

Love you all!  Hope all is well!

Elder Carter V

P.S.  Here are some photos!  Yay, I finally sent some!

This is a "Buffalo Chip"  he... hehe...
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This is my last Zone Conference with President and Sister Anderson!  Love those people so much, and always will!

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This is the Kauffmans.  Gonna miss that family.  Their too fun.

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And this is Jeremy!
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This is the Famous Brother Nelson!!!!  Gonna miss this guy!  He's a stud!

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June 29, 2015 Life on the Rez!!

Hello family!

Well, this has been an interesting few days!  Did a bunch of packing (didn't realize it would take so long to pack after having been there for 7 1/2 months, but it sure did!) and said my final goodbye's to the wonderful people in Valley City!  On the flip side, I got to say hello for the first time to a whole bunch of new, wonderful people!  

My new address is 306 E. 4th st. Apt. 1, Gordon, Nebraska 69343.  In this area, we are driving a Jeep (Exciting, right Sydnie?) since the roads aren't exactly.... You know... Taken care of...  and we won't be riding our bikes very much (which I think is funny since I spent so much time fixing mine with Bro. Adams before I left....) We will continue to wear slacks (from what I know), I'm not expecting to learn a new language, but I will if I need to, and we spend every Wednesday and Thursday and every other weekend in Pineridge which is just over the border into South Dakota, and every Monday and Tuesday, and than the other weekends in Gordon, Nebraska.  So, I am currently living in 2 places and get to live out of my suitcase!  Woohoo!  This area is largely less-active work, so a lot of the work we do is finding and re-activating those who don't come to church.  There is a lot of alcohol abuse here, too, which isn't exactly conducive to feeling the Spirit, nor to wanting to change to experience real, lasting joy and peace.  We cover 2 branches, one in Gordon, which has about 20 people come regularly, and one on the Rez that has even less attend.  The Rez branch is going to close soon since there aren't enough active Melchizedek Priesthood holders to keep it running, but hopefully it will re-open in the near future.  The weekends that we are on the Rez, we attend that branch, and the weekends in Gordon, we attend there.  My new companion is Elder Wilde, from a small town in southern Idaho, he goes home in 6 weeks, and he is awesome!  We hit it off pretty darn good!  He knows the area really well and the people seem to like him.  Similar to Valley City, we do our shopping when we go to District meeting, which is in Chadron, which has a Wal-mart, but we do have a Dollar General here in Gordon.  My apartment is nice (although the bathroom was a mess and probably hadn't been cleaned in a few months, but don't worry, I cleaned it up good!)  and is pretty roomy compared to VC's apartment!  And yes, we do still have a cell phone haha!

So far, I haven't been to the Rez, but we will be there on Wednesday for the rest of the week.  One of the "perks" of being on the rez is that there are no addresses.  We have a GPS that we put people in as favorites so that we can find them again.  The people here are super nice.  There have been a lot of past missionaries who have knocked on doors, and the people just invited them in for dinner, so that's gonna be fun!  I do have to say, I love the names here.  There are a lot of names that have "Hawk" in it around here too.  It's really cool!!

When trying some potential investigators, we knocked on one door, heard dogs barking behind the door (which is a common occurrence in this mission.... Most people have dogs here) and this guy started yelling at the dogs, came to the door, burst out to keep the dogs in, than glared at us, than asked "what do you guys want?"  My companion introduced himself, shook his hand, than I did the same.  When I shook his hand, he gripped real tight, so in defense, I gripped back so that my hand didn't get crushed.  He than proceeded to try to twist my arm, first in handshake position, than switched to arm wrestle position.  When he didn't win, he called me a few choice words, than said "You should just go home and pop that big ole zit on your nose.  What do you guys want?"  so we told him we didn't want anything, but we were here to see if we could offer him any service.  "You have any money?"  "No, but we would love to help you any way we can."  He grunted and said a few more choice words that I will not repeat, than said "do you know what I am?  I am a Hell's Angel.  Do you know what that is?  I'm a biker!  I've been a Hell's Angel for 60 years, and don't let my age fool you!  I could still take you boys out in a second!"  And he proceeded to tell us his life story and his adventures as a Hell's Angel, which is a biker group known for their criminal conduct, and somewhere during the long speech, he asked if we knew how much pressure it took to spin someones head around.  Of course, we had no idea, he told us, and then demonstrated on my face (don't worry, I'm still facing the right way.).  He leaned in close, put his hand on my chin, than started to reach behind my head, than made as if he were going to do it, which he didn't, and continued with his rant.  Oddly enough, I wasn't worried about him hurting me one bit.  Funny how being called by a Prophet of God and being set apart and blessed by someone holding the Authority to act in His name can give you such confidence, even when someone grabs your face.  Needless to say, we aren't going back to that guys house.

It's amazing, being in a small Branch of the Church.  For many reasons, actually.  Specifically, it's amazing to see the dedication that is found in these people.  They have to drive for miles, sometimes hours, to attend church, and they do it not because it pays, because in a worldly sense it doesn't, but because they know it is true.  Nothing else compares to the fullness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and nothing else bears fruit even remotely similar.  The Savior taught "By their fruits shall ye know them", and the fruits are innumerable and very noticeable.  No other organization, be it religious or non-religious, inspires adults starting at age 18 to give up their time, money, all the comforts of home, their friends and family, their dog, and their education knowing that they will have hundreds of doors slammed in their faces, thousands of despising looks, and many people who should be their friends being the most rude to them.  No other organization could do that, because this one is inspired of God, and no unhallowed hand can stop this work from progressing.  Satan has tried for 200 years to prevent this work from continuing, and yet it roles on, as the stone cut out of the mountain without hands.  We are now the 4th largest Christian church in the U.S. and it is the only Church not on the decline, but on a very fast incline.  If this wasn't the work of God, it would have been ended long ago with the martyrdom of the Prophet Joseph.  If he was the fraud that many say he was, than he couldn't have inspired thousands in the way he did while he was alive, and the way he continues to inspire them today.  His whole life was dedicated to the service of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that is the truth.  I know it not because I have studied, although I have, but because I have prayed to know it is true.  This is His work, not ours, not Joseph Smiths, but His.  The Holy Father of us all, who loves us more than is humanly comprehensible.

Those are my thoughts for the week.

Well, that's my fun story for the week!  Nothing else has really happened, just getting used to the new area.  Next week I'll be fresh of the rez, so hopefully I have some more fun stories! 

Love you all!
Elder Carter V

June 22, 2015 and I've been "reserved" (he... hehe... That's the best I could come up with.....)

The moment you all have been waiting for has arrived!! I am being transferred!!  After a grueling 7 1/2 months is blessed Valley City, working my tail end off, even killing one of my companions (for those of you unfamiliar with missionary lingo, that means he went home when I was done with him), I am going south.  Very south.  In fact, I have to pass through an entire state to get to it.  I will be in the Gordon Pineridge Nebraska Indian reservation!!  I leave on Thursday, no idea when I'll get there though. That'll be the fun part I guess.  I can't remember my new comp's name, but he only has 6 weeks left on the mission, so I will be killing yet another companion!  It'll be awesome!  I'm super pumped!

In answer to your questoins, our Mission president did stay in the Bismark mission, but he leaves the beginning of June, which is when the new one arrives. Being Senior comp isn't too bad, it's pretty simple really.  Just knowing the area is important.  Other than that, we work together as a companionship for most decisions, so really not much changed, except I know the people better.  J got sick this week, so we couldn't meet with him or K, and R's daughter was at the house so we didn't stop by while we were in Oakes.....  Dang it....
Monday was quite the day!  I destroyed my companion at all the games we played (including Risk, Othello, and Foosball), and then when 6 O'clock hit (which is when P-day officially ends)  we hopped on our bikes and rode around town to try to contact some people.  As we were riding, some guy yelled at us than waved us over, so we headed over, which he didn't really think we would do, and told us that his 2 friends here needed to hear what we had to say, than he laughed, hopped on his long board, and dissapeared down the street.  We stood there, looked at the 2 guys, than started talking to them.  It was an interresting conversation, but we got to teach them a little bit about the Restoration, invited them to meet with us more later, than left.  As we were riding around town again, we saw a member drive by, who waved at us, than another one right behind them, who also waved, than one more who pulled up and asked us if we could help them move the Stopczynski's (stop-chin-ski) into their new home, so we rode up the biggest hill in town, got to the top, helped them load up the cars and vans and trucks, than headed back down that same hill!  That was a blast!  Than, after unloading, we were going back up for another load.  My companion wanted to go back down the hill, but didn't want to ride back up, nor did he want to put our bikes in the back of someone's truck, but he wanted to hold on to the back of one of the trucks.  I didn't say anything, mostly because I assumed (and we all know what happens when we assume) that the woman driving the truck wouldn't let us do that.  But, I was wrong.  She sayed "are you sure it's safe?" to which my companion said "yeah, I've done it tons of times", so she shrugged her shoulders and said okay.  Then comes the fun part.  We started going up the hill.  Now, I was struggling to stay on my bike while holding on, so I would let go, catch up, grab on, and start the cycle again.  I tried maybe 3 times, than decided I'll just peddle like crazy.  As I let go for the last time, I saw my companion lose control.  So, he hit the ground and slid, I stopped to see if he was okay, which he was, just a bit scratched up, and we finished riding up the hill.  Now, remember, kids, that when riding a bike, always wear a helmet (yes mom, I was wearing my helmet).  And, for those of you who are current or future missionaries who think that wearing a helmet is stupid, you are looked up to by kids, and if you're not wearing a helmet, you are telling them they don't have to either, and let me tell you that the parents of those kids won't like it very much.  Plus, it's in the rules as a missionary.  My comp didn't hit his head, so don't you worry, but his name tag got a good sanding from the street, as did his hand and his bike.  But hey!  He decided that wearing a helmet isn't as stupid as he thought!!!
Nothing else really happend throughout the week.  we hardly met with anyone... Pretty rough week hehe.

Friday we had district meeting, and KS (a member who got back from her mission to Brazil a few weeks after I arrived in VC) had told us that she wants to come out teaching with us on Friday, so she just followed us everywhere for the rest of the day.  We didn't get in with anyone until about 6, when we stopped by P's house, who is that sweet old lady that we helped clean out her basement and garage, and went in to say hi.  While there, we talked with her quite a bit, than before we left, we asked if we could leave her with a spiritual thought, and she gave us one of those looks that only old ladies can and said "oh, of course."  So, we shared in Alma 32, when Alma talks about faith, and then she asked what the Book of Mormon was.  So, we told her, gave her a general synopsis, than asked her if she wanted a copy.  she responded "Oh, yes I do!  That sounds like a wonderful book!"  So, we gave her one, talked to her some more, than asked her what it would mean to her to know that this book is true, to which she responded "I'm sure it is true, and I am looking forward to reading it!"  Than we left.  She is one of the sweetest ladies I know.  I'm gonna miss her now that I'm leaving.
Saturday, we stopped by B's house and he was there and happy to see us!  We talked to him a bit, and asked if he remembered what we taught him, to which he proceeded to talk to us about what he doesn't like about religion, even though he is Catholic.  Long story short, he doesn't think that he needs to be baptized since he has already been baptized, and that he has to be baptized into the LDS church to enter the temple.  Funny thing about his arguments, and everyone else's about those 2 subjects, is that it is all the same thing, and it doesn't make sense.  First off, when they compare our modern temples to the ancient ones, they say that everyone was allowed into the temple, but that is incorrect.  Only Jews were aloud into the temple. Jews were the people that had entered into a covenant with God through the ordinance of circumcision by the High Priest who held the authority to perform the ordinance (which it was later revealed that circumcision was to be done away with, and was replaced by baptism by the same authority), so they were aloud into the Temple, because the temple is a sacred place, and (coming back to modern temples) if everyone was aloud into the Temples today, they would become a tourist attraction, and would no longer be a place of peace and refuge from the world, because those entering would not understand the importance and reverence due in the House of the Lord.  The only place that Jesus showed anything even resembling anger was when men were defiling the temple, making it a "house of merchendise" rather than "a house of prayer," and "a house of fasting".  He chased them out with a chord whip, turning over tables!  Just a thought, and one that is cut short due to lack of time.  Sorry!
Well, that's about it for the week, or at least all I have time for.  Love you all and hope all is well back home!!  I'll be sending my new address next week.

Elder Carter V

June 15, 2015 With a Topsy-tervy apartment once again

For those of you who are wondering, I am thinking a week ahead.  I will know if I am getting transferred next Monday, not this one.  But hopefully I know before I email!!  If not, well, you'll find out where I am the following Monday.
This week has been a good one!  Nothing really exciting happened on Monday, we had dinner with the Kauffmens at the local Hospital since that's where Bro. Kauffmen works.
On Wednesday we went to Ji's house (J is a Less-active member who we saw on the street and started talking to.  When he saw us he said "Oh, hey Elders!", which is usually a tell tale sign that they know who you are, since no one else even wants to call us Elder.) and taught the Restoration with him and his girl friend, who is not a member of the Church.  It went super well!  They were going to come to church, but J was having some health issues a few days before, so they couldn't make it.  We taught L the Word of Wisdom and it was pretty good.  He brought up the concern that "Jesus drank wine, so why can't we" which really, the answer is that God has revealed through a Prophet today a health code, just like the one in the Law of Moses, or when that was changed when Peter saw in a vision that they can now eat the animals considered "unclean".  Times change things.  The logical answer would have been that back then they didn't have water purification systems, so they would drink juice, but they didn't have a way of keeping the juice from fermenting, so it turned to wine after a short time.  But, their wine back than didn't have as much junk as the alcohol today, I'm sure (that is mostly a guess, but lets be honest.  There is no such thing as "all-natural food" anymore.).  Plus, in the revelation that the Word of Wisdom came from, it said that it was to protect us from "conspiring men", and we see examples of that today, when people get drunk and end up spilling the beans or doing something they would regret, or even being killed since they can't defend themselves.  All of Gods commandments come with blessings, ones that bless us temperally, but most importantly, they bless us spiritually.  Gods commandments liberate us, not restrict us.  when you follow the commandments, your agency expands, not decreases.  I've probably already preached about that a boat load, so I'll shut my mouth now.
Thursday we went down to Oakes again and taught R.  As we came in, we talked to him about his background, particularly religious so that we can know where he stands and what his needs are.  As we did so, we ran into something that I have seen quite a bit lately.  He had grown up in a family who's parents both claimed religion, but didn't participate or even act like they did.  He would ask questions but they would never be answered, and if they were, he didn't understand the answer and they didn't try to help him understand.  Than, when he was married he started going to church with his wife, and the whole time he never learned anything because no one ever explained it to him in a way that he could understand.  So, long story short, despite all of his questions, he never got answers that helped him understand, just answers that confused him more.  So now, after living for 78 years, we have come to his home to teach him.  And we get to start from ground zero.  The very bottom.  And that is who God is, and who we are in relation to God.  As we talked, he would say things along the lines of "well, finally it makes sense, even if I don't quite believe it yet."  So, we asked to exercise just a particle of faith, even if it is just a desire to believe, as Alma teaches us in Chapter 32, and to pray to his Father in Heaven, for that is exactly what He is, and to begin a relationship with him.  He told us he wants to, but it's been a long, bitter life and it's going to take some time to get up the desire to actually take that step.  We asked him to say the closing prayer, and after some prodding and encouragement, he did say the prayer.  It was a great experience to be there with him.
While in Oakes, we went to a nursing home to do some volunteering, and we were welcomed super warmly!  Apparently they love us there!  Of course, Elder Allen throws me under the buss by telling them I play piano, so they got excited again and said they were going to start wheeling everyone in so that can listen!  Pretty stressful, considering I haven't really played the piano in quite some time....  And my music folder is pretty small.  They did have some music that I could play, but sight reading after having sight read only Hymns for the past 7 months (which is totally different than sight reading anything else) and only very seldom at that, is a bit on the scary side.  But, they seemed to enjoy it, so i was okay with it.

We went back to the Bible Study as well.  I stopped in just as they were about to start and apologized for the things I said.  One of the guys apologized back and said that they didn't realize they were talking about things that we obviously don't believe, but that they can only teach the things that they think are true, to which I responded that I had no right to get upset with them for doing the same thing that I am doing.  Than we had to leave for an appointment, and that was it!
Friday we had District meeting and then I went to Aberdeen on exchanges with Elder Barber.  It was a blast!  Loved it!  Elder Barber goes home in  a week... Crazy!  Saturday we exchanged back, came back to the apartment, had dinner, went to our lesson with Alan, then came home, planned for the day, and (hense the title of my letter) we noticed a ton of water in the kitchen!  than, we realized it was all around our carpet (we have a tile floor in our apartment with a square of carpet that is about a foot away from all the walls, just in case we get flooded.), so when I went upstairs to tell the Adams, the carpet on the way to the stairs was soaked.  got up there, told them, came down, discovered the washer was leaking and was flooding the basement!  We had 2 inches in our bathroom, and now our chair's are on top of the couch, which is in the middle of the room with the carpet being blown of again.  Never a dull moment in VC!!
And that concludes my week.  Love you and miss you all loads!
Elder Carter V