Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016 The End?

Ladies and Gentleman, drum role please................................................

Saturday, the 12th of November, marked exactly 2 years since I left my home (meaning traveled across town and lived in college dorms for a week) and entered the MTC to prepare for my full time service in the South Dakota Rapid City Mission.  Friday, the 18th, is the day that I will hug the angels that my Father in Heaven has sent to be my guardians in this life, otherwise known as my family.

It has been a long, hard road folks!  Let me tell you, it's been tough.  But it was worth every single second.  I will always remember this place (even though the geography is kind of bland), and the people here will always have a place in my heart.  

I can promise you that I am not the same person I was when I left.  I am lil ol' Jesse Carter, but I am much more than that now.  I have learned who I am, and who I can become.  I've learned who my Father is, and who my Savior is.  And I can never be the same, nor do I ever want to be.  

I was reading in Alma 5 yesterday, and I want to share what I learned.  Alma asks the people of Zarahemla "My brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?  Have ye walked, keeping yourselves blameless before God? Could ye say, if ye were called to die at this time, within yourselves, that ye have been sufficiently humble? That your garments have been cleansed and made white through the blood of Christ, who will come to redeem his people from their sins?  Behold, are ye stripped of pride? I say unto you, if ye are not ye are not prepared to meet God. Behold ye must prepare quickly; for the kingdom of heaven is soon at hand, and such an one hath not eternal life."

Then I started wondering "would I be ready for the 2nd coming if it came today?"  I normally think ".... well, not yet!  I'm not ready!  I've still got a long way to go before I am."  Then I reread this section.  Have I felt to sing the song of redeeming love?  Yes, and I do feel so now.  Have I been sufficiently humble?  Well, I'm still prideful, but the Lord is pleased with my progress for now.  Will the humility I have now be sufficient for tomorrow?  No.  But it is for today.

Well, that's all I've got time for folks!  This is Elder Carter, signing out for the last time.  I love you all, and can't wait to see you again soon!

Elder Carter V

P.S. If you want to email me, hit me up at

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

November 7, 2016 My Thoughts

Well, we knocked a lot of doors this week.  We helped 2 people rake their leaves, and that's about all the new stuff this week!    Perks of being in Rapid City though is that this week the weather has stayed in the 70's most days.  So nice.  Definitely won't hear me complaining about that!

I had my last ever ZTM this week.  I got to bare my testimony for the last time (in front of the missionaries, of course), as well accompany a couple Elders for a musical number.  

Aside from that, we've literally just been trying to find people to teach.  Hopefully this week we see the fruits of our labors!

The last few weeks there has been a very common theme in the things that people have said to us.  There have been quite a few people that would let us in for a little, and the 1 thing that everyone and their dog seems to know about the LDS church is that we believe that we have a responsibility to do what is right, and to keep the commandments.  I can't tell you how many times people have brought up that we believe our works save us, and I know that I have already done this a million times, but I wish to debunk that myth once more, right here and right now.  This is absolutely positively false.  The saddest thing is that it is a myth that members of the church carry!  Too many of us think that we must do this much, then Jesus makes up the difference.  Sorry folks, but that's not how it works.  "since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself" (Alma 22:14).  That's about as plain as it can get.  We cannot merit anything of ourselves.  We are eternally falling short of perfection, which is the requirement of entering God's presence."And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work."(Romans 11:6).    There are countless scriptures that say the same things.  But don't the scriptures also say that "it is by grace that we are saved after all we can do" (2 Nephi 25:23)?  Don't we read that "faith without works is dead" (The book of James brings up this point over and over and over again), and that we must "work out [our] own salvation with fear and trembling"? (Philippians 2:12)  Yes, they do.  So what are we supposed to understand here?  This has been a subject of concern for people for centuries!  Obviously it was a problem in the time of Paul and James which was less than a 100 years after the death of the Savior.  The Apostles of the time wrote these letters to try and correct the issues that were being disputed over in the places where they had preached.  I feel comfortable assuming that the Romans had put too much emphasis on their own works and not enough on the Savior, so he told them countless times that it is grace alone that saves us.  And yet, in the same letter he poses this question to them.  "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?  God forbid."  (Romans 6:1-2).  

May I echo the words of the author Ecclesiastes in 12:13.  "Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man."  C.S. Lewis, when asked the question "which is more important?  Grace or works?"  Responded by saying "I really have no business commenting on the matter, but it seems to me like asking which blade on the scissors is more important."  If we try to put more emphasis on 1 verse of scripture more than another, we create a serious theological problem for yourslef.  We cannot ever earn our way into heaven.  Period.  Jesus is the one who payed for it, not us.  Are works the Savior?  No, Jesus is the Savior.  But if we truly believe in Christ, than we must believe His words, and He taught us countless times, both anciently and in modern times, the importance of obedience.  If we are disobedient, will we even want to live in God's presence?  No.  Nor has He ever told us that we don't need to do anything.  God's love is unconditional, and His Grace is sufficient for all who come unto Him.  Without Him, all is lost, and we can never see the kingdom of heaven.

I'm sorry if my thoughts are broken, time is short, and so are resources haha!  Love you all tons!  Thank you all for your prayers, they have helped me a ton.  

Elder Carter V

October 31, 2016 Octoberween.

Well, I have no idea what to say this week.  H dropped us (said that she's just happy where she's at) and C dropped us (she forgot the feelings she had and said that religion just isn't for her) and we haven't been able to meet with any of the other people we've been trying to.  We did a lot of walking cause it's the end of the month and we wanted to be sure we had miles, and we got fed real good this week!  We had some great experiences at members houses, and it was great to be in their homes.  We really do have some just wonderful people out here.  Other than that, it was almost literally a week of tracting, trying to find people on the ward list or who have said we could come back and teach them, and that's about it.  So, we had a week full of the normal work, and not much else.
We did decorate our trunk for the Trunk or Treat!  Had some people that just walked into the parking lot for free candy walk by our car and ask "who are you supposed to be?  Mormons?"  I laughed and said "as a matter of fact, yes!  But we are actually the Mormon Missionaries."  We laughed together, then they left haha!

Love you all!
Elder Carter

October 24, 2016 An "Ammon"ish Experience

Hello all!
This week we didn't end up meeting with the Carvers.  As usual, they got busy.  I've decided that "busy" is the acronym for "Burdened Under Satan's Yoke".  The only problem with that is that being busy is a good thing.  But!  Being too busy for the best things is when the devil is winning the battle.  So, moral of the story, find time for the best things.
Do y'all remember D?  Guy from Jamaica that we helped move in a couple weeks ago?  Well, every time we talk, he thanks us for that day that we helped him and reminds us that he is forever indebted to us for helping him in a time of need.  He came to church yesterday, and seemed to enjoy himself!  After church was over, he had us over for lunch, and man, may I just say, that real Caribbean food is the best.  Hands down.  So good!  He's a chef, so he really knows what he's doing.  We had a great time at dinner, and then we were able to share with him and his wife, P, the message of the Restoration.  They accepted a Book of Mormon and said they would read it, and really seemed to enjoy the discussion.  As we were wrapping up, he asked us "what motivates you to come out on a mission?"  Elder Webb testified that we all had felt God's love for us through this message, and we wanted to share it with them because we have grown to love them.  The Spirit filled the room, and it really seemed to touch D and P.  It was a grand experience, once again, to be in their home!  They are truly some of the most wonderful people I've met on my mission.
When we were leaving, Elder Bone pointed something out to me.  When we met D, we were driving home, saw him unloading the truck and asked to help.  From D's point of view (we know this cause he's told us since) he was so glad we asked, he said yes, then he watched us drive away.  He thought we were being rude or something, then as he was coming back down the stairs, he saw that we had gone to get a couple more hands to help.  He thanked us the whole time, and as I said before has continued to thank us since.  Now, had we not done so, we never would have been able to meet D, and to share with him our message.  He has told us many times that if someone comes knocking on his door or walking up to him saying "hey, believe what I believe" he will push them away.  But when we came offering to help, he noticed something was different about us.  We didn't just tell people the word, we tried to live it. 

We have experienced our own version of Ammon and King Lamoni.  Had Ammon just come in with a soap box and started preaching, he would have been rejected (and much worse), but he chose to serve.  And because of his service, thousands of others were blessed by his example.  And now we get to see the blessing of our dear friends D and P as they come to know that what we taught is true.  I am so grateful for Ammon and his story!  He has shown us a way that we can be a light to those around us, and he truly has given us a great example of how we can be more like Christ.  So my invitation to all of you is to go out and serve!  Look for unplanned opportunities to help those around you.  It doesn't have to be a big drastic thing.  But find some way every day to serve those you meet.  For all you know, they could be going through a rough time and you could be the one that pulls them out of the rut they're in.  Maybe they will become a life long friend to you, and could bless you and your family for the rest of your lives.  You never know what the Lord has in store for you.
Here is a fun quote I found from Proverbs 25: 25.  "As cold waters to a thirsty soul, so is good news from a far country."
That's all for today folks!  Love you tons.
Elder Carter V

This is us volunteering at the soup kitchen.  We have way too much fun down there!

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

October 17, 2016 Birfdays and Blessings

First off, I wanted to clarify a little about my email last week.  In no way did I mean to say that my ward here in Rapid stinks.  This ward is awesome!  I love serving here, and I love the people in this ward.  But the issue is universal.  Most of the people that I mentioned that we tracted into that had friends that were LDS were out of town.  I just wanted to make that clear!

This week has just been amazing and full of blessings and miracles!  First off, right when we finished emailing last week we went shopping, and while we were in line, a man came up to us and told us he was going to buy our groceries.  He was a member of the church visiting Rapid from Mesa, Arizona I believe.  That was a great blessing!  I hope he and his family had fun here and were able to travel home safely.  Second was how we found the C family.  E. Bone and I prayed about where we should tract and we felt like we should go to 2 specific streets right next to each other. When we knocked these streets we found 1 potential on each streets. One was this family that was very nice to us and said to try back another day cause they were just sitting down for dinner.  The other was a guy who we set up a return appointment with us for about a week later.  We tried them a few times, but had no luck. Then, when we went for the follow up visit with that guy, he told us he just didn't really care to hear our message. We felt like we should go try the family now, since we were in the neighborhood, so we walked over, knocked, they opened and seemed very excited and let us right in. It went awesome!  It's a mom, dad, and a 15 year old daughter.  They drilled us with questions.  What is a missionary, what do we do, why are we doing it, how long do we do it, where are we from, etc. etc. etc.  We were there for about 45 minutes just answering question after question, then when we felt we should let them get back to their night, we invited them to take the missionary lessons.  They seemed pretty interested in it, so we set up a return appointment, and they offered to feed us dinner. 
When we came back, we were able to teach them the Restoration.  We would teach part of it, ask a question to gauge their understanding, they understood it perfectly and would always finish it with "That actually makes a lot of sense."  As we continued teaching the Spirit filled the room.  It was so exciting, cause they were just soaking it up!  When we invited them to read and pray about the Book of Mormon, they were all for it, especially the mom.  She loves to read, so she was all for reading a new book.  We're going back tomorrow, and I can't wait to teach them the Plan of Salvation.  They are just so ready and prepared!  They are probably some of the most Christlike people I've met in a long time.

My birthday was great!  Thanks you all for your loving Birthday wishes!  They made my day!  We had dinner at the Wilbur's home and the Worsley's came and they through me a little party.  They smoked some brisket and ribs, and man, was it good.  Couldn't have asked for more.  And, go figure, they didn't make a cake!  They made brownies!  I don't think they knew I don't like cake, but it worked out perfectly.  I had a blast! 
That's about all the time I've got for this week, but It was an awesome week!  I'm loving it in Rapid!  Love you all and miss you tons.  Hope all is well back home!
Elder Carter V

Ah!  How did I forget this!  I got to go to Nebraska on exchanges, and we got to go visit the Blassingills in Hay Springs!  That was such a blast from the past!  I taught them when I was serving in Gordon.  They're the ones that would not only feed us when we came over, but would stock us up with food to last us a good couple days.  I love them so much!  Pretty much all of them asked me "When did you get back?!" and sadly, I had to say "I'm not back, just here for the day."  But, the other Elders are gonna start teaching them again.

October 10, 2016 The Essential Role of Member Missionary Work

Here's the updates.  No word from J, and almost nothing from C this week, but we did get to see H for a few minutes.  I can't remember if I talked about L yet, but she is this cute little old Native lady that missionaries had taught in the past, so we decided to contact her.  Two weeks ago, we taught her the Plan of Salvation, and she just loved it.  When we came back yesterday, she had a bunch of questions for us, and we were able to answer them as we taught the Restoration, and once again, she just loved it.  The Spirit was so strong in that lesson!  Elder Bone and I taught totally unified for the first time since we've been together!  She just grasped on to what we taught, and it all made sense to her.  She asked all the right questions, and seemed to truly find peace in the things we taught her.  It was an absolutely grand experience.
As for the rest of the week, lets just say my legs were soar some nights.  We did a lot of walking and knocking doors, and found almost no success doing so.  Having said this, I want to impress on your minds the essential role that member missionary work plays in the Church, but also that this should apply to all people, whether they be a member of this church or a member of any other Christian denomination or faith.  The Lord called His Apostles to spread the Gospel to all the world.  That commandment (for so it is) is a commandment for us today.  If anything, we should feel a greater need to keep this commandment now by sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ because we know that His Second Coming is just around the corner!  The time is almost upon us, and we have no time to waste!  We should desire to bless the lives of all we see right now, not postpone it till a stranger has to knock on their door and try to help them understand the importance of their message in a few brief seconds before the door is closed in their face.
As members of the LDS church, we have been reminded time and time again of this commandment, and yet many of us still don't get it.  This is not a new mandate.  It is ancient, and it's importance has been revealed to us again today in such clear terms as "It becometh every man who hath been warned to warn his neighbor".  This is what the Lord has told us at the start of this dispensation, nearly 180 years ago, and every prophet since has reminded us of it.  Just last week we were once again taught the importance of it in General Conference.  Now is the time that we need to repent of this!  Seek the will of the Lord as you strive to share your testimony with your friends!  Pray for the gift of discernment that you may know what to say and when to say it, to not miss your opportunity, but also being patient and not jumping the gun.  Pray for the faith to act on the promptings the Spirit will give you. 
I'm sure you can figure out what inspired this rant.  It is because we have spent so much time knocking doors only to find no success thus far.  The saddest thing is that half of the doors answer and tell us that they have friends in the church.  Many say they know almost nothing about the church but don't care to know more.  Why?  Because they have never been told just how important our message is.  Why?  Because their friends have never had the courage to share it with them.  Being an example is important, but it is not enough.  We must do more.  And when we do, we have been promised by prophets and apostles for the last who knows how many years, that we will feel a joy that cannot be compared, and we will rejoice with hundreds of thousands more of our dearest friends and family as "we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ" and we will only be able to do it by "speaking the truth in love" (ephesians 4:13, 15).  Notice the action word there.  Let us all have the courage to open our mouths and speak.
Once this happens, we will no longer need to have missionaries use their precious time knocking the doors of strangers, most of which are not home or not interrested, but they will be spending all their time and efforts teaching the Word of God to our friends.  What a blessed day this will be, when the vision of the Prophets will be fulfilled!!  If you want a list of talks from the modern prophets and apostles concerning this subject, I can give you a very large one. 
Well, I once again will step off my soap box.  Hope you enjoyed the show!
And that about concludes my adventures this week.  Sorry it was all just my thoughts and feelings and not so much about the work we did.  I love you all dearly and I hope all is well!
Elder Carter V

October 3, 2016 General Conference

General Conference was SO AMAZING!!  Loved every second!  Good to see my old buddy Dale (that's Elder Renlund, in case you are wondering.  We're on a first name basis.  That is, I'm sure we would be if he remembered me hehe... he...).  Shout out to the beautiful Peg Carter and the amazing Mr. Kenny Wiser, who did great with the music!  It was way too much fun to see familiar faces this weekend.
Here's some updates.  Sadly, we didn't get to meet with Cynthia this week, although she almost came to conference, then something came up so she couldn't.  We also had no luck contacting Joe again this week. 
We did a bunch of walking this week.  Lots of knocking on doors, lots of "nah, we're good"s, but all in all it was still a great week.  I cooked my first ever pork chops, talapia, and I'm still alive which either means my prayers were answered or I cooked it properly (please hold your applause).
Well, that's all I have to report this week.  I love you all dearly, and hope that you have a splendid week indeed.
Elder Carter V

Here's the picture of all us missionaries at GC.  Love these goofs!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

September 26, 2016 Miracles on Miracles

This week we have seen many miracles! We have been finding success in our finding activities. We have an investigator named C who is 15 years old. Her family isn't interested but they said that if she wants to investigate she is more than welcome to. She has been very out front with us about being atheist and not really expecting an answer. She has told us that she genuinely wants to know mostly because she sees how much faith we have in what we do, but she hasn't kept any of our commitments. We had a "pep talk" with her about needing to do her part and we told her that for now, all we wanted her to do was have personal prayer with the intent to find out that this is true. We nagged her the first few days, then forgot to keep reminding her, then we had our meeting on Saturday where we gave her and her family a tour of the church. Right when she walks in and we're about to say a prayer, she says to her mom "well, I guess now's a good time to tell them. I want to be baptized". We were totally stunned! I asked her how her answer came and she said that she finally prayed the night before, and in the morning she just knew it was true and that she needed to search harder and deeper. We were so stoked! That night the bishops family (they are her fellowshippers) invited her to church and offered a ride, and when she got to church the next day they just took her under their wing and loved her up. I am so grateful for the Worsleys and all they have done for C! They are just the best. They truly have magnified their callings to be missionaries, and now C is feeling the Spirit both in their home, at church, and in her own personal prayers.
We started teaching a young man named J.  We knocked on his door and he asked us a bunch of questions on the door step.  We asked if we could come back another day and start teaching him these lessons which would answer a lot of his questions, and he said yes.  We taught him for the first time earlier in the week, and I had a very humbling experience.  The whole lesson, I was just a robot.  From square one, it was all "muscle memory" rather than following the Spirit.  I recognized that right off the bat but as I tried to fix it, nothing worked.  I was praying so hard on the inside that God would take over, and nothing happened to me.  But God answers prayers in His own way.  He didn't change my feelings or my actions, he didn't fill me with the Spirit so that I could teach more powerfully, but instead, he opened J's heart, so that even though I was on auto pilot, he still felt the truth of our message.  That was a testimony to me that the Spirit was working through him, and that this work is not my own.  This is the Lords work, and He's gonna do it the way He wants to, whether we're down or not.  What a blessing that was, that despite my own imperfection, he still felt the testimony of the Spirit in our message.
I saw G and M this week!  G is the guy that we taught in the Rushville jail back in Gordon, and M is from Manderson (on the Pine Ridge Reservation).  Gene lives up here so we went and visited him.  It was a blast from the past to see him! 
For the first time in my entire mission, I have been allowed to help someone move in when just walking by.  No one this whole time has allowed us to, and in the last 2 weeks, we've had 3 people allow us to!  It was fun to just serve these people.  One of families we helped move live in the same apartment complex as us, and they were just so happy that we came to help.  They were smiling from ear to ear, and that's the best reward you could get.  He told us that now we are his first friends in the area, and we'll always be welcome in his home.  His name was Dutch, and he's Jamaican.  Sweet accent, for sure.
That's about it for me this week.  Love you all!
Elder Carter V

P.S. Here's those pictures I promised from Mt. Rushmoore.

1) #selfiestick

2-3) I'm sure you can tell what this is.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

September 12, 2016 Bikes and Service

Not a whole lot happened this week.
Bro. Mertz, from Bismarck, was here in town and we had lunch with him a couple days ago before he went back up.  That was pretty fun.  It was good to see him and talk about Bismarck again!

H seems to be doing good, although we haven't had much contact with her.  Just brief "how are ya"s and trying to set up appointments.  She's definitely a busy momma!
We found out one night that one of the members didn't have a lawn mower and their grass was getting pretty tall, so we decided we were gonna hunt down a lawn mower and get 'er done!  This was probably the highlight of my week.  We showed up with the mower (we had called them the night before to make sure they would be home so they could supervise our work) and went to town, and they were just glowing!  It was absolutely rewarding to be of service for them!  There is definitely a special spirit that comes into your life when you get to serve someone when they didn't ask for it. 
Well folks, that is all for me.  I love you, and hope you're doing great!
Elder Carter V

Thursday, September 8, 2016

September 6, 2016 I have no subject for this week...

To answer the questions!  Rapid City is much smaller than Bismarck, although it has a big city look to it when you first get there.  But now that I've driven through the whole city, I realized that it's tiny.  There are 5 wards in Rapid, and 2 sets of missionaries for each ward, so there are a lot of us out here sharing the city, but we have a very different assignment than we have had in the past.  In the Canyon Lakes ward, we are now sharing the ward boundaries rather than splitting it up into areas.  It is going rather well so far!  It requires much more planning and communication than I've ever had to deal with before, but I think that it's gonna be great once we figure it out.  We just travel wherever we want inside the ward and hope we don't try the same people.  But, that's what the planning with each other is for.  We're some of the "guinea pigs" for this whole situation, so who knows what will happen.
Life in Rapid is good so far, although we haven't really had much happen.  Still learning the area and trying to meet as many people as possible.  We started working with a woman named H.  She's from Oklahoma too!  I was so stoked!  We had fun reminiscing about the humidity, tornadoes, random earthquakes (okay, we didn't actually reminisce about that one.  She just told me about it.).  We had a great first lesson with her.  She truly wants to know what is the truth and how it can help her.  She's been through a lot in her life, but has always known that God was there.  She just doesn't know why bad things happen to good people.  Good thing we're here to answer her questions, eh?  We're meeting with her again this week. 
Aside from her, we've met a lot of people, but haven't met with many if you get what I mean.  There are some grand people out here. 
Well, hopefully next week I have more to report on.  Life is good, my comp is great, missionary life is crazy, and I'm lovin it.
Love you all!
Elder Carter V

August 29, 2016 Rapid City

Howdy all!
My new address is 2880 Belgarde Blvd. #303.

Well, obviously a lot has happened, so here's the run down!  I said a bunch more goodbyes on tuesday, then I woke up Wednesday at about 1 AM hurling my guts out, so Wednesday was spent in bed.  The nurse wanted me to go to the hospital, so I did, and they said I got a virus, which exiled me to my apartment.  Thanks to the great Elders of Bismarck and Mandan, I was well taken care of.  They went to the store and got me all the supplies I needed.  After a little, I started to feel better, but still very weak, so in small spurts here and there, I slowly but surely packed my things in my bags.  Thursday morning I was feeling tons better, but Sister Hess didn't want me to infect the whole mission, so I didn't get to go to transfers, nor did I get transferred on that day.  It was super weird, and I felt like a bum! 
Friday was the day that we left.  I finally met my new companion (who I was supposed to meet on Wednesday), and we rode down to Rapid in the Transfer Van with the Traveling missionaries since they needed to make a trip down there anyway.  But, low and behold, I got motion sickness and was out of commission the rest of the night, and the next day wasn't any better for me.  My poor new missionary pretty much just cleaned our new apartment all day!
Sunday brought better news!  I felt tons better, and we actually did some work! 
Now, Rapid City is a cozy little tourist city.  When I say little, I mean it's small in population, but it seems huge to me!  I feel like I'm in a huge city when I drive through it, but really it is pretty small.  It is absolutely beautiful country out here!  Rolling hills, lots of trees, just stunning.  We are living in a 2 bedroom apartment with another companionship, which means we all sleep in one room and the other room is our study room.  It's a slumber party every night!  Our beds are practically stacked on top of each other haha!  But it is a super nice apartment.  We are staying with Elder Stapley and Elder Webb.  They are super funny.  It's never dull around our place when they are around, that's for sure.  We live out in the outskirts of town.
The ward here seems sweet, although everyone was on Vacation this week so there was almost no one there.  I don't really have a good idea of what it's like yet haha.
Fun little tidbit!  I saw someone at the church from the Gordon Branch!  It was the Tiensvolds!  It was awesome to see them!  Plus, my District Leader who I will be going on exchanges with, is now covering Gordon (the area is closed, but the missionaries in Chadron, NE cover it) so we're gonna have to go visit some folks one of these days.

As for my companion, he is the picture of a new missionary.  He has what we call "Greeny Fire".  He's so ready to go out and do work and share his testimony!  It's sweet to see!  He's also been a little under the weather though, so I don't think I have actually met the "real him" yet.  He is from Syracuse, UT, and he has been out for 3 days.
Well, that's about it.  Love you all tons!  Thanks for all the prayers!
Elder Carter V

These are the last goodbyes from Bismarck.

1)  The Forsyth's and Daniel and Kathleen (I don't know their last name, but they are awesome!)

2)  Sister Swenson

Fwd: August 23, 2016 Transfers and a surprise trip to the ER

Howdy all!

A ton happened this week!  But, when I say this week, I really just mean that the weekend was crazy, cause the rest of the week is captured in the heading.

So, me and my comp got a 3rd companion late last week named Elder Baird (and guess where he is from?!  Preston, Idaho.  That'll be my 3rd companion from Napoleon Dynamite country), and when we got him his knee was all swollen.  Well, after a while it got so swollen he couldn't walk without it hurting, and then he started getting fevers.  So, we decided it was requisite that we take him to the ER.  Low and behold, he has staff infection in his knee, and for the next 3 days (Tue - Fri) we were rotating missionaries in and out of his hospital room so the work could carry on in the Bismarck area.  The only exciting thing that happened during my shifts at the hospital was that President Hess bought E. Baird a few movies, one of them being "The Peanuts Movie".  It was so darn fun!  If you like the old TV show, you will love this movie.  If you didn't like it, don't waste your time.  It is so classic, and I loved it!

Anywho,  Aside from that, I am getting Transferred to Rapid City, SD to train a new missionary for my last 3 months!  I'm so stoked!  It's gonna be great!  Now, goodbyes are never fun, but they have their perks.  For 1, I finally got to see S again!  After 4 weeks of no contact but a very short "hello" in the car, I finally got to talk with her!  It was wonderful!  We had a good ole chat, then I had the opportunity to share my testimony with her.  

Now, before I go on, I need to make a side note.  I can finally empathize, in the smallest sense, what the prophets of old felt when they wrote about all the prayers and fasting that they put into the people they served.  In the last 2 months, I have been praying and fasting (not for the full 2 months of course) for that girl to receive this message, because I knew the joy and peace it would bring to her, and it seemed like I had seen no answer.  I have prayed harder in the last 2 months for that blessing to come upon her, then I have ever prayed before in my life.  And at the moment it seemed as if the answers wouldn't come.  But in those 2 months, I noticed a different change.  I felt a small amount of what Paul and Moroni describe as Charity, "the Pure Love of Christ".  That love for your fellow man that can come from no other source than God Himself.  I truly desired her salvation, because my Heavenly Father had blessed me so much and I wanted her to feel that as well.  I felt like God had blessed me with a small vision of who she was, and who she could become.  I felt like I had finally come to know that she was truly my sister, and I wanted to see her in that glorious state that is waiting for those who are faithful to the end.  As I grew in that sense, I felt something else I had never felt before.  I felt torn apart that she wasn't striving to learn about the thing that had brought me so much joy, and that I knew could change her life for the better.  And it seemed like I wouldn't be there to see what happened.

But!  God truly does answer prayers, and they are answered in His own way, and in His own time.  I may not have seen the result I was hoping for, but it was definitely an answered prayer.  As I bore my testimony, I felt the Spirit working through me.  As I shared what I knew to be true, the Spirit filled the room, and everyone in there felt it too.  Now, I don't know yet what effect it will have on her, but I truly believe that it will have a grand effect on her in the near future.  

As for the rest of my goodbyes, it was hard to say goodbye to the A family.  I'm gonna miss them so much.  I love them so dearly.  It has been so great to serve with them!

Other exciting things that happened, we got to pick corn for the food bank at a local farm, and I got to attend N endowment (N is someone I served around in Valley City), which was a special experience for sure!  He was so happy that day!

I'm truly gonna miss it here in Bismarck.  It may not be the "promised land", but it's the closest thing I've found yet (there's my North Dakot'n accent coming out).  

I love you all dearly!  Hope all is well!

Elder Carter V

1) E. Baird in the Hospital.

2-3) Here's my District goodbye pictures

4-14) More goodbyes

August 15, 2016 Adversity - A novel

Forewarning, I wrote a ton in this email, so sorry, but not sorry haha!

Update on the A's, all is well.  They are doing just amazing.  We finished teaching H the Plan of Salvation, and he asked us what to do when we feel like we can't be forgiven of a sin.  So, we explained the Atonement in greater detail.  We told him that "Christ payed it all.  Every last bit.  The price is payed, He took it all on Himself.  Not most of it, not all but the last few coins.  All of it.  It doesn't matter what we have done.  It is finished."  Then he got this thoughtful look on his face, then asked "so....  does that mean that we choose the right so that we don't cause him more pain?"  We were both just amazed.  May I just say, there is nothing like seeing a man who looks like he is made out of steel, tear up as he comes to understand the gift of the Atonement and how we can show our appreciation for that amazing gift.  I absolutely love that man and his family.  I have been so blessed to get to know them!  

On Saturday we went to Minot for a baptism for a man named C.  He is someone that E. Kane taught while in Minot, and it was so special to go to meet him.  He was so happy!  This man had quite the testimony, and it was nice to get to hear it.  

Alrighty!  On to the subject!  Hope you enjoy my studies from this last week.

This week I was studying about adversity.  This has been a topic that has been coming up all over the place lately, so I hope I can share some of my thoughts with you.  First off, we all experience trials, and that is a part of our life.  Before we came here, we knew that we would go through adversity, but despite that, we still shouted for joy at the prospect!  We were excited not only for the good, but for the bad.  In James 1, he begins his epistle by saying "My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.  But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing."  

Christ showed us the perfect example in everything.  We know He was perfect.  He never sinned.  But do we truly understand what it means to be perfect?  Does that mean that he never dropped something, that he never stumbled or stubbed his toe?  Did he know how to play every instrument perfectly?  Could he execute every play in a play book perfectly?  I don't think so.  what we know about His childhood is found in Luke 2; 40, 52.  "And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him." "And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man."  He too had to learn from experience.  He had to increase in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.  It didn't just come because he was God's son.  It came because He worked at it.  So with that in mind, what if I were hammering in a nail right next to Jesus, who was doing the same thing, and we both smashed our finger at the same time.  That doesn't take away from his divinity at all, but what would make my action imperfect and His perfect?  His reaction to the pain.  I might start cussing and slapping the table, probably get frustrated, but how would He react?  Not too sure, but I've got a vague idea.  He would probably react perfectly.  Whatever that looks like haha!  And with that in mind, we can take His councel to the children of Lehi.  "Therefore, what manner of men ought ye to be? Verily I say unto you, even as I am." (3 Nephi 27:27)

So how do we do that?  Good question.  I've got a few ideas.  Paraphrasing John Bytheway, one of the ways we can endure our trials and endure them well is to "reverse our 'buts'".  Mormon gives a prime example of this in Chapter 2 of the Book of Mormon in the Book of Mormon (inception).  To set the stage, Mormon is a young man (I think about 20ish?) who was asked to lead the armies of the Nephites against the Lamanites.  The Lamanites way out number the Nephites, and they beat the Nephites in the first few battles.  Mormon this whole time is crying repentance to the people, but they won't listen.  They are too hard hearted.  He begins to see prophecy fulfilled, specifically, the downfall and soon to be complete genocide of the Nephite people.  Then, they have their first couple successes.  There were many casualties, and the people begin to appear as if they would repent as they lamented the passing of their dead.

"And it came to pass that when I, Mormon, saw their lamentation and their mourning and their sorrow before the Lord, my heart did begin to rejoice within me, knowing the mercies and the long-suffering of the Lord, therefore supposing that he would be merciful unto them that they would again become a righteous people.  But behold this my joy was vain, for their sorrowing was not unto repentance, because of the goodness of God; but it was rather the sorrowing of the damned, because the Lord would not always suffer them to take happiness in sin.  And they did not come unto Jesus with broken hearts and contrite spirits, but they did curse God, and wish to die."  (Mormon 2:12-14)

What a horrible image!  He knows that these people are going to be destroyed because of their pride, and it seems as if there is nothing he can do about it.  He knows that the war he is waging is going to end in the death of everyone he loves and holds dear.  Talk about adversity.  So how does he respond?  "And wo is me because of their wickedness; for my heart has been filled with sorrow because of their wickedness, all my days; nevertheless, I know that I shall be lifted up at the last day." (verse 19)  How does he know this?  I would guess for the same reason that Nephi did in chapter 4.  "And when I desire to rejoice, my heart groaneth because of my sins; nevertheless, I know in whom I have trusted.  My God hath been my support; he hath led me through mine afflictions...  Rejoice, O my heart, and cry unto the Lord, and say: O Lord, I will praise thee forever; yea, my soul will rejoice in thee, my God, and the rock of my salvation."

Mormon reversed his "buts" as did Nephi, although it would probably be more appropriate to say they reversed their "nevertheless"s.  So when we are tempted to look at our trials and emphasize the bad, we need to look for the good.  As a missionary, we run into the same issue all the time.  That issue is, someone finally commits, they are progressing in the Gospel and growing from it, then all of a sudden life gets crazy.  Family threatens to disown them for affiliation with the church.  Work doubles their hours.  They get evicted.  Whatever it might be, something always happens to get in the way.  We can look at it in a poor light, emphasizing all the bad, or we can reverse our "buts" or "nevertheless"s and say "You know, that stinks, but it is evidence that this is the truth, cause obviously there is someone trying to keep it from happening."  Adversity is evidence that we are on the right path.  So are we going to act, or be acted upon?  Are we going to use it as the stumbling block to blame our short comings on?  Or will we use it as a stepping stone to become who God knows we can become?  The choice is ours to make.  

Well, hope you enjoyed my thoughts.  It's probably scrambled cause time isn't something I have a whole lot of.  Love you all tons!  Hope you are a wonderful week!

Elder Carter V

P.S.   I promise I had permission to email today.  Our P-day got cut short yesterday, so we had to finish emailing today.

August 8, 2016 Elder Soarez, Elder Stacey, and the Definition of a Mormon.

Well, I wish I had more to update on S, but all I can say is she doesn't respond to our calls or texts, and the times we stop in we don't get to do anything with them, whether teach or help cause the work is almost done and down to only having 1 paint roller and 1 brush, so that role is filled before we even get there.  So, we don't know what happened.  We're pretty upset, but hopefully once the house is done maybe we can get back in.  Please pray for us to!  She needs it so bad.

I once heard that the definition of a Mormon was one going to, coming from, or preparing for a meeting.  That about raps up my week!  Preparing for meetings, going to meetings, and cleaning up after meetings.  But they were sweet meetings, for sure!  Here goes the readers digest condensed version.

First!  On Wednesday we had Zone Conference which was just great.  Loved it!  Learned so much, saw a bunch of missionaries that I haven't seen in a while, and all in all, it was just great.  

Friday was the best though!  Elder Soares of the Presidency of the 70 and Elder Stacey of the Area 70 came to speak to the leadership of the mission, and man, was it just amazing.  First off, nothing beats listening to a guy with a Brazilian accent.  Second, E. Soares is a spiritual giant.  I learned so much from him!  I finally feel like I can make a difference in the lives of those around me.  He got me so pumped, and the funny thing is it wasn't from his words, but from the way I felt.  That is the true sign of how great a man he is.  It wasn't him that taught me, it was the Spirit, who he invited to be present by his preparation and his prayers and fasting on our behalf.  I couldn't begin to tell you about all the things they taught us cause there was a lot, but it was really just awesome.  

Aside from meetings, we hardly saw anyone.  The A's are doing great!  L and C are back, and it was a blast to see them!  I got to help someone put siding on their house, which that was an adventure, but a good thing to know!  Now, if I need to side another house, I know how!  Woopie.

Well, sorry it's short.  That's about it.

Love ya!  

Elder Carter V

August 1st, 2016 Dwindling Bismarck (both in unbelief and in quantity)

To answer questions, my comp is from Medford, Oregon, via Salem, Utah, and he has been out for 11 months (as of today).  

Well, I'll start with the dwindling in quantity portion of my heading.  Can't remember if I told you last week, but S and M moved to Pine Ridge, and probably won't be getting back any time soon, and L left today.  Twas sad indeed.  The only good thing about people leaving is that you can take the opportunity to bare powerful testimony without reserve.  So, all in all, it's been a great week!  Lots of feeling the Spirit bare witness of testimony.

May I just say as a disclaimer, there are some wacky people in this world!  Now, having said that, there was this guy that some of the other Elders had met a few weeks back who came to class that we tag team teaching with the other missionaries.  He made some... interesting comments.  Nothing too off the wall, just kind of weird.  Then, after the class was over, he stuck around and talked with us for a bit.  After a little bit, he decided to tell us that he was God's only son...  Lets just say we were surprised, and the feeling in the room was horrible.  He was totally bonkers, and I felt so bad for the man!  And the craziest thing is that this is the 3rd person I've met in the last 3 MONTHS that claimed to be God, "mother god" (crazy lady on the street.  She was trippin on something), or to have met and taken a picture with "mother god" (not the one we met on the street).  It was so weird!  I can't remember if I told y'all this, but some guys knocked on our door (what goes around, comes around, eh? Haha never had that happen before).  They started telling us that every religion in the world was abominable and only those who meet this 75 year old lady in South Korea who claims to be God's wife in the flesh can be saved..........................  Creepy.  Just creepy.  There was such a heavy feeling in the air.  No good.  Anywho!  Moral of the story, people are crazy, and life is exciting!

Now!  May I share with you my testimony that we are in the last days.  There is so much confusion in the world.  And may I just say that the thing that has been the greatest protection and sure foundation for me has been my testimony of the Book of Mormon.  I love the last words words of the prophet Nephi. "And now, my beloved brethren, and also Jew, and all ye ends of the earth, hearken unto these words and believe in Christ; and if ye believe not in these words believe in Christ. And if ye shall believe in Christ ye will believe in these words, for they are the words of Christ, and he hath given them unto me; and they teach all men that they should do good.  And if they are not the words of Christ, judge ye—for Christ will show unto you, with power and great glory, that they are his words, at the last day; and you and I shall stand face to face before his bar; and ye shall know that I have been commanded of him to write these things, notwithstanding my weakness."  This is so applicable in our own lives!  You can know just as Nephi, and as I know that these things are true, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks, cause I will always know it is true because I have received the witness of the Holy Spirit that it is true.  I pray that some day, when I am called before God, and will be able to say that I have been true to the witness that He gave me.  

I love you all!  

Elder Carter V

July 25, 2016 Update on the Foot in Mouth Disease

So, turns out the missionary that we were told had Hand, foot and mouth disease had measles.  How fun.

Well, for Pioneer day, we did absolutely nothing out of the ordinary, just did missionary work.  

Alright, on to the goods!  First off, there was an ET (emergency transfer) and we were the drivers for part of that, so there went one day.  We drove down to Mound City, SD (town of around 80 people).  Then on Saturday we got to travel to Sidney Montana for the second time in the last month-ish.  We were emptying out the apartment that we had just furnished haha!  Good stuff, eh?  So, as far as proselyting, we didn't get to do a whole lot, but what we did get to do was awesome!  

H was ordained to the office of a Priest yesterday!  That means that when L gets back in a couple weeks he will be able to do it!  We were so excited for him, and so is he!  That's been the best part of this week.

Well, aside from that we were in the car a ton. 

Love you all tons!

Elder Carter V

July 18, 2016 The "foot-in-mouth" disease. (AKA, the "hand, foot, and mouth disease.)

Howdy all!

Not a whole lot happened this week.  Drove the van to Fargo, got back, picked up E. Kane, came home.  He's sweet!  He reminds me of my cousin, Eli, so it's gonna be AWESOME!  I think this transfers going to be pretty sweet.  We are both ZL's together.  

Most exciting thing that happened this week!  We saw L again!  It's been forever!  We just stopped in and talked with her for a while.  It was great.

As for the title of this email, there is a funny story to go along with it!  Bishop Davies of the Presiding Bishopric came to give just a small devotional to the missionaries in Bismarck and Minot, and when we all got together there was a missionary that had some nasty rash on his hands and face.  But, I didn't see the rash till after I had hugged him at the beginning of the meeting and I saw him outside afterwards and was told to wash my hands like crazy.  (I thought it was just really bad acne...)  So, While he was at this devotional there was a doctor who diegnosed his rash as "hand, foot and mouth disease".  So, we all washed our hands and called it good.  Then, not too long after that happened, we got a call from someone (they are going to remain unidentified for obvious reasons) telling us about this disease and how it is super contagious and that we needed to disinfect everything and tell everyone in the zone to do the same cause if they don't they are going to get this disease and be isolated for 7-10 days when the symptoms stop.  So, we call everyone in the zone and warn them about it, and most of us were pretty upset cause we had direct contact with him and were "contaminated".  Then, 2 days later, we found out otherwise.  For those of you who don't know, it is a disease that is pretty much only found in infants and is very hard to get as an adult.  Like Chicken Pocks, but not as bad.  So, it is now nick named "foot in mouth disease" cause it was made a much bigger deal than it needed to be and we were all worried we were gonna be locked in our apartment for a week.  But don't you worry, we are disease free!

Well folks, that about concludes this weeks session.  Love ya!

Elder Carter V

July 11, 2016 Transfer calls and a big surprise

Hello all!

Transfer calls brought one of the biggest surprises yet!  We got a call from President Hess (which always means something big is about to happen) and we were both like "aw man!  This can't be good.  One of us is training hehe".  Nope!  It was crazier then that.  I was rinsing my mouth out with mouthwash so I couldn't say a word.  President did the usual ritual of "how are ya"s and "what's been goin on"s, then said "well, you're wondering why I called.  E. Fillmore, what do you think about comin on up north with me and Elder Riding?  We can both smooth out our rough patches together"  This was followed by a stunned silence on E. Fillmores part and I'm still swooshin my mouthwash around, unable to say a thing either, but man, was I smiling!  After a bit "well, sure thing President!  I'd love to".  Once we hung up, E. Fillmore looks at me with a stunned expression on his face and says "well, I think I just soiled myself.  I'm dying!!"  I laughed so hard!  He has been panicking for a while now hahaha!  It'll be too much fun for both Assistants to the President to be my last 2 comps.  Way too fun!  My new companion is Elder Kane!  Which means, I get to stay in Bismarck another transfer or 2!  Woot Woot!  I'm so stoked!  

Well, that's that news out of the way.  We had 2 amazing lessons with S this week.  The first was on faith as discussed in Alma 32, about it being a seed, and you need to plant it and see if it's a good seed, but if you never plant it, you'll never know if it's good or bad.  She then told us that when she started reading the BoM, she was very skeptical about it, but she prayed that if it was God's desire that she would have that doubt removed.  Now she's beginning to enjoy reading it, bit by bit.  The next time we came, we read the first 20 verses of Joseph Smith-History with her, and the Spirit was so strong.  She was just amazed by just the beginning of his story.  After we left, E. Fillmore looks at me and says "Poor thing.  She's starting to get a testimony."  It was great, and is great to visit with S.  

H and A are doing amazing.  As usual.  Since I'm staying I'll get to see L and C again!!!  I can't wait for that!  

As for my adventure for the week, we were driving home one night (we weren't wearing our white shirt and tie at the time) and these 2 girls in the car next to us started flirting with us, so we took advantage of the opportunity!  My companion talks with them for a bit, then says "hey, can we give you a present?"  They looked confused, a little excited, but said yeah.  So (while at a stop light, don't worry) he leans out the window to hand them a Book of Mormon, but we were too far away, so he says "I'll throw it to you".  He did.  She didn't quite catch it, with her hands at least.  It smacked her in the face and she just laughed as my comp apologized through his own laughes of embarrassment.  Then, as the light turns green and we start driving, she yells to us while holding up the book "what the heck is this?"  E. Fillmore yells back "It's a book!  Read it!  It'll change your life".  Then we turned on our street and went home.  Mission accomplished!

That's all folks.  Love you tons, hope all is well.

Elder Carter V

July 5th, 2016 Planning, meetings, and Independance!

Well, this has been a meeting filled week.  We had a surprise MLC, which means we had a surprise ZTM to plan for, so Tuesday night to Friday night was all just meetings and planning for meetings.  We did see S, but it wasn't the best.  We got stressed for time and didn't put much effort into the lesson so the Spirit wasn't there, but!  We did get some of her house painted.  She didn't come to church cause she has been getting really bad headaches lately, and Sunday was a killer for her!  To answer some questions, no she hasn't quit smoking yet, but we haven't actually tackled that yet either.

As for the H and A, they had us over for Dinner last night, and we had 2 lessons with them this week.  They are both just soaking things up!  Heath asks a lot of questions cause it's been so long since he's been to church (barring the last few months) and we have just a good ole time with them while we're teaching.  It's amazing to see their testimonies rekindling, especially in H.  He's taking big steps to get ready for the Priesthood and to be sealed to A and his kids, and he's taking it like a champ!  A is such a great support for him too.  They are supporting each other a ton through this change.  I just love seeing them.  

As for transfers, we get calls on Saturday, and it is about time for me to leave.  I could stick around longer, but I doubt I will.  I'm pretty sure I'm a goner.  We'll find out for sure on Saturday!  

Love you all!  

Elder Carter V

1) Last night we (the missionaries of Mandan and Bismarck) got together and went to watch all the folks in Mandan shoot off their fireworks.  I'm convinced we were on the tallest hill in the state of ND, and it still wasn't that big.  But!  It was fun to be with the missionaries!

2)  E. Fillmore and I conquered this hill on our bikes!  Heck yes!  What a view

3)  Found this bread buried under our cereal.  Obviously, we haven't eaten cereal in a while.......

4)  Doin our laundry, looks like we left a couple of cards in our pockets.  Look who survived?  Coincidence?  I think not.

June 27, 2016

I am at a loss for what to say.  This week went by so fast, and I couldn't tell you what we did cause I can't remember it!

Updates on the folks up here!  H has quit chewing tobacco!  Now he has a Jolly Rancher addiction.  He told us he's worried we're gonna tell him that he has to quit eating those too, but we just laughed and said not to worry, cause we won't!  He and A are doing just amazing.  They've been at church for the past couple months, and they are just awesome.  That's all there is to it.  I love them so much.  

S is doing good except she's been sick, and her work is crazy so we're lucky to see her more than twice a week.  We are helping her and J remodel their house!  They are leasing a Duplex in a few months and the landlady said they can do whatever they want with it, so they're goin to town on it!  We've been helping them with whatever we can, but every time we come to help something happens so we can't.  S cracks us up so hard!  Everytime we teach her, she tells us how much it just makes sense to her, but always reminds us that "I love my coffee, and that doesn't make sense, so don't try to convince me of that."  We just laugh.  This is what she's been telling us since we first met with her.  She asked us if we would make her quit smoking and drinking coffee, and we just smiled and said "eventually, we'll talk about that, but first we want to help you know why."  She laughed and told us "I know I need to quit smoking, but you're never going to get me off Coffee!"  I just laughed again and said "We'll see".  She threw her head back and laughed at that one.  But, little does she know that she is getting a testimony.  Her prayers are being answered, Poor thing!  She reminds me so much of Glenn Beck, who, when his friend would tell him that he should see if he found true happines in the LDS church, he would say things like "No man, no! Happiness ain't got nothin to do with coffee!"  But, after many years of attending and investigating the church, he was listening to a sunday school lesson, and the Spirit really touched him, and in his own words he said "I don't care if there is coolaid I have to drink.  This is where I need to be."  So, some day soon, I'm pretty sure she's gonna have the same experience.  That's what testimonies do to ya.  In the words of a sign in front of a protestant church "Don't pray about the Book of Mormon, that's how they get you."

Here's the quote of the week!

"A Man without a woman is nothing.  But, a woman without a man.... is still nothing.  Remember my council."  - E. Polatis 

Well, that concludes my remarks.  Love you all!

June 13, 2016 ZTM and....... more..... ZTM......

That about sums up my week.  We had MLC, prepared for ZTM, gave our training at ZTM, and visited people.  Not a whole lot happened.

We didn't get to see S this week, and we found out that A moved to Washington, but we talked to her and she still wants to meet with missionaries, so those missionaries over there better appreciate her haha!  We'll miss her tons...  But S is still in town.  

Honestly?  That's about it for this week.  Love ya!  

Elder Carter V

June 6, 2016 The Mission Presidents "Go-fers" and the lap of luxury - A Novel

Today I would like to begin with a little bit of housekeeping, then we'll get on to the meat and potatoes of this weeks adventures.

Here is my "vexation of the soul" for the week.  What is with everyone cutting there hair like Soka from Avatar?  It looks like every one out here decided they like the look of it or something, cause they are all doing it.

E. Dewitt was the 3rd in our trio, so now we are back to being a duo.

As for proselyting, we have done almost none this week, but I will explain why shortly!  We saw S on Wednesday, but A didn't join us.  We taught S about the Holy Ghost and personal revelation, and at the end of the lesson, she told us that she has been feeling His presence since we've been coming.  She's been happier, things are making more sense, her life is working out better, and she really feels like what we teach is true.  We were so stoked!  Once we got in the car we were hootin and hollerin and just all around excited!  But that's the last we've seen her for this week cause we've been busAY!  And, due to the events which I will shortly account for, we haven't had any contact with P and his family.

Alright!  On to my adventures!  And for those of you who don't have much time, I'm sorry.  It's gonna be a long letter this week.

P-day was just a normal P-day, till we got a call from the Assistants asking us for help closing 2 apartments out in Ekalaka and Baker Montana.  Of course, we said yes.  We shipped out that night, stayed in the Holiday Inn Express in Dickinson (not every day a missionary gets to stay there), then left after eating breakfast for good ole Montana.  That whole day was dedicated to cleaning out those apartments and driving.  It was such a long time to be in a Chevy Silverado with 5 Elders.  All in all we drove probably a grand total of 10ish hours not including stops.  While in Baker we tried to stop for lunch, and the good ole small towns of Montana strike again!  As we drove and walked the streets searching for somewhere to eat, we found that there were only bars.  Literally, only bars.  We picked the one that looked like the bar was separate from the restaurant and were disappointed to find out that they had some.... lets just say scantily clad women on the walls... so that was a no go.   Needless to say, we left Baker hungry, singing primary songs and thinking of virtuous things.  We got back to Bismarck about 8:30 Tuesday night.

Wednesday was kinda normal I guess.  We got sucked into the black hole here in town known as "the mission office."  It's impossible to leave in less then 30 minutes.  But that's okay cause we love the office couples!  But, after getting a few other things done, it was time for us to begin driving to Fargo for transfers.  3 1/2 hours later, we arrived and ate Panda Express.  On our way into the Fargo Zone Leaders apartment (where we stayed the night) someone opened up their door and asked if any of us knew how to work a wireless router.  So, we offered our assistance.  Elder Fillmore picks it up, looks at it, and says "oh, I've seen this before.  All you gotta do is give it 3 taps on the top (the he pats it 3 times)."  Then we all died laughing, and when we got composed, he said that they needed an ether net chord.  They were using a telephone line.  Then we "went in for the kill".  We taught them the gospel!  It was super cool!  They were asking questions, and seemed to enjoy the conversation.  Then it was time for us to go, but it was a cool experience.

Thursday we drove back to Bismarck, had lunch, cleaned up the mess left after transfers (it wasn't much, but still), then ran some more errands for the mission office missionaries.  That night we found out that on Saturday we were going to be driving the mission truck (once again, that wonderful car known as the "Silverado") full of furniture to the Elders new apartment in Dickinson.  Yay for more road trips.

Friday was District Meeting, we saw a couple of people, then at 8 we got a call from President Hess.  "Hey Elders!  How are you doing this fine evening!"  "Doing real good President!"  "Well I'm glad.  Well Elders, you're probably wondering why I'm calling you.  I have a huge favor to ask of you.  How would you like to take an all expenses paid trip down to Rapid City?"  "............................................................................  Well of course President!  What's the occasion?"  "Well, you see, I'm speaking at Stake conference tomorrow night, and when we arrived here, i realized I left all my clothes but the jeans and T-shirt I am currently wearing in the wash room of back home.  That's the main reason, but I thought you Elders might enjoy a trip down this way."  We were pretty speachless, but as we talked about it, we decided we were going to go.  

Now, in all honesty, that was a hard decision for me.  I hate car rides, I hate being cooped up in the cockpit of a car, and I hate having nothing to do for hours on end but stare at the empty expanse of nothingness known as "North Dakota" (see attachments below).  But, Elder Fillmore served in Rapid and really wanted to go, plus President needed his suit bag, and I knew that despite the forever long drive, it was going to be fun.  So, we went!  Now, remember this cause it plays a big role later.

In the next hour, we had completely loaded up the truck with a whole apartments worth of furniture, had our clothes packed for the next 2 days, and started our trek.  We stopped in Dickinson, unloaded the truck, and stayed the night in the Holiday Inn Express, just a few rooms from where we stayed just 3 days earlier.

Saturday was when the real fun began.  Continental breakfast and a warm shower and we were gone.  I'm sure that if I knew the song, I would have been singing "On the Road Again" by some country singer that I don't know.  We traveled the "Enchanted Highway", a road that has the worlds largest metal sculptures.  Pretty cool, but I'm still wondering what inspired them to make this stuff.

We finally made it to Rapid around noon, got presidents suit to him, then he told us that if we wanted to we could stick around, E. Fillmore could go say hi to the people he taught in the area, and Pres. would provide us with another hotel room.  We talked it over, and, once again as the rhyme goes "every party has a pooper, that's why we invited you", I didn't want to stay.  I wanted to go back and be done with road trips and get back to doing normal missionary work.  But, I knew that if I were in his shoes, I would expect to stick around and see people, so we did.  Again, remember my attitude toward the whole situation, cause it's important later on!

We went and visited some of the people on his list of "to sees", then 3 o'clock roles around and we had dinner (a dang early one) with the Hess's and a bunch of Rapid city missionaries.  While at the Stake Center I saw Bro. Tiensvold and Bro. Thompson of the Gordon Branch!  That was way nice to see them.  Yay for more surprises!  By this time, E. Fillmores list was almost empty, and all of a sudden a thought popped into my head.  I realized that Pine Ridge is only an 1 1/2 hours away, which means that Manderson (the place where Martyna and the Whitehawks live) was probably less than that, and I started to get super excited.  I asked my comp if he minded if we went down there, stayed for Stake Conference the next day and sayed hi to the rest of the people he wanted to see after church.  He agreed (thank goodness!), we asked Pres. and he sayed yes!  May I just say, that was the longest hour of my life!  I was so stoked to go visit all the great folks down that way!  

I went and visited the Whitehawk kids again.  That was fun!  Mayla has kind of chilled out which was weird.  She's still spunky, but not nearly as rambunctious as before.  Wish I could have communicated with her more, but she still doesn't know much ASL, so it was just a lot of attempting to communicate with vague gestures like before.  But it was still great!  Stopped in on Martyna and talked with her for a bit, then went and saw Tyra, Felicia, Angela and a bunch of the other kids in the neighborhood.  We played a game of basketball, got some pictures, then went to see the Whalens (the former Branch President down there).  I had so much fun seeing them all! I miss it there so much, but thank goodness I'm not hung over and trunky from seeing them all.  

Sunday morning was great too!  Got to see a bunch of missionaries I haven't seen in a while now, then while in the foyer I looked at the door and saw the Stocks walk in.  I was so confused!  But it was a blast to see them too!  It was so weird to be called Jesse again... It's been 19 months since someone has called me that minus a few occasions......  Crazy!!

Well, Stake Conference was good, we went and saw more people for my comp, then we started our forever long drive back.  Stopped in Sturgis to get some pics, and drove for 5 1/2 hours.  I am so done with cars.  I'll just ride my bike next time.  The whole way to Rapid.  All 250 miles.  

And that concludes my novel for the week. Hope you enjoyed it, cause I sure did!  Now, for the moral of the story.  Sometimes we will be asked to do things that we really don't want to but we know that we probably should do it.  So, we can either be a stinker and pout about it, or we can try to find the good in everything.  I didn't find the good till it was handed to me on a silver platter, which took about 5 hours.  Don't be like me! Just have fun and be happy no matter what!  And when a chance comes to serve someone, take it.  Serving can be as simple as driving 250 miles to bring someone their suit, or it could be as complex as being happy that your companion gets to go back to his first area to see the people he grew to love.  (like the word choice in there?)  Don't be selfish.  It's a lot more fun that way.  Trust me.  I know from personal experience.  

I love you all dearly!  

Elder Carter