Sunday, April 3, 2016

March 28, 2016 A week of surprises!

So, I've got some good news and some bad news about T.  The good news is that she is still awesome, but the bad news is that she moved outside of our ward boundaries.... and by outside, I mean right outside.  Spitting distance from our area!!!!!  So sad!  But the other Elders are great, so I'm not too worried about her being taught.  I just wish that we could be the ones to teach her....

We haven't been able to make contact with P (the lady that about wet herself when she saw us), and E works a lot so we didn't get to see her much this week.  But she seemed to be doing good the few times we saw her.

On Friday we got to go to this little town called Linton, it's about an hour East of Bismarck, to visit the Newman family.  Bro. Newman was baptized a little over a year ago, so he is now preparing to go to the temple, and we wanted to go over there to check up on them and see what we can do to help.  They fed us lunch and we had a great time talking with them!  They are so funny!  Matt and Amber (that's the Newmans names) are just always smiling and joking around.  Never a dull moment at their place.

Saturday was just full of surprises!!!  First, we were driving to the post office when I looked over and saw a family that looked super familiar, but it was from the back so it could have just been a funny angle.  But as we passed a got a good look at the husband, and it was the Curtis's from Valley City!  I was blown away!  I got all excited, flipped around and parked, then chased them down!  When I got close, Sister Curtis turns around, sees me and we had a happy reunion!  It was a blast to see them!  We talked for a bit but then we both had to get running, so I said goodbye and we headed out.  What a pleasant surprise!  Come to find out, Sister Curtis grew up in a town called Culbertson, Montana, which was about 45 minutes East of Poplar and we would drive through there periodically.

That day we went and visited the Walker family (the father is less-active, and is the only member in his family) and we were surprised by getting to color eggs with them.  It was pretty fun!  I haven't done that in far too long.

Easter was great!  After church, we were invited to an Easter Lunch in a park for some folks who don't really have families to celebrate Easter with.  It was great!  The funny thing is, we pretty much know half of the people there.  The craziest part was seeing L and C there!  We have a history with them that started while we were tracting one day, knocked on this door and a Native lady answered.  We talked to her for a bit, but she said that she didn't live there, she was just babysitting, but she would let them know that we stopped by.  We never got in contact with them though.  Then, about a month later, we get a call from Brother Palonite (a tongan man) who said that he wanted us to come to lunch with him and a co-worker that he wanted us to teach the Gospel cause she was going through a rough time.  While we were eating lunch, we somehow made the connection that the door with the babysitter was her door!  We were all just amazed!  It was quite the coincidence.  Then, at the lunch yesterday, we're helping set up when a car pulls up and guess who gets out?  L and C!  And as they come over, M, a member of the church, gets all excited and greets them like old friends.  Turns out, they were old friends!  Coincidence?  I think NOT!!  Crazy how these things work out.  Someone had Their hand in that for sure.

This week I had the great privilege of listening to a talk by Truman G. Madsen called "The Blessings of Righteous Women."  It was so good!  I think you all should listen to it, cause it's just great.  I'm not sure where to find it, but when you do, listen to it.

Well, that's about all for this week.  Love ya!

Elder Carter

1-2) Preaching the Gospel unto every creature (including the random huge bear you find in the hallways of apartments)

March 21, 2016 Cleaning the temple

To answer some questions, yes, we do have MLC meetings every month in preparation for ZTM..  Sadly, we didn't get to see E or T this week, but T did come to church yesterday and we will be seeing her tomorrow!

We got to help clean the temple this week!  The first time we were working outside, trimming bushes and grass (the tall wheat looking grass) and cleaning up after ourselves.  It was a super nice day too!!  Good thing we got it done then, cause the very next day it snowed.... A lot!  A couple days later we got to go back to help again and we got to clean the chandelier in the Celestial room.  You literally take off every single crystal, rub them with the cloth gloves you are given to wear till they are slippery again, then you hang them back up.  There are literally more than a thousand crystals on that thing!  Nuts!  It was long and tedious, but I loved it.  What a great place, and what a great thing to do, to clean the House of the Lord.

Funny story!  We were trying to make contact with a guy, and as we got out of the car, a lady was just pulling out, she saw us and just flipped out!  She was so excited to see us!  She waved like crazy, stopped her car in the middle of the road, rolled down the window and asked "Hey, are you Mormons?"  "We sure are!"  "OH man!  I used to meet with guys like you back in Rhode Island!"  And then she proceeded to talk to us for a bit, then gave us her number and told us to call her.  We were so pumped after that!  Funniest thing is our appointment didn't work out, yet we were exactly where we needed to be at the time.  Crazy how the Lord works.

Sunday night we got to help a member clean out his upstairs, which had been trashed by his wife who just left him with that mess to clean up.  She was addicted to Meth, and that is why she did what she did.  I kid you not, the whole upstairs was turned upside down.  You couldn't see the floor through all the clothes and trash and paper and blankets.  It looked like literally everything they owned was now upstairs on the floor.  We found a mouse up there too.  I don't know what happened to him though.  He took off when we found him, but he left us plenty of "presents" (or "tracks") all over... it was nasty.  I felt so bad for that family.  If there is anything that I will never doubt is the Word of Wisdom.  I know that it is true and that it is a HUGE blessing.  I have seen the carnage of addiction, weather drug, alcohol, even tobacco.  May I just say, that if you want to keep the God-given gift of Agency, don't do that stuff.  Avoid it like the plague, for that is exactly what it is.  Everyone can see the damage, yet not everyone can resist it's call.

Fun stuff that I learned this week!  When seeking an answer from the Lord you must do a few things in order to receive the desired enlightenment.  Of course, first you pray for guidance, then you go to the scriptures.  If you want Him to answer, it's kind of helpful to seek the answer in His words, which are found in the scriptures (tada!).  Then, act in faith.  If you think you got your answer, act on it.  When you act on it, you will know if it is good or bad.  If it invites you to do good, it is of God.  If not, then it's not of God.  And if you act on it and it wasn't from God, you will now be better able to discern the promptings of the Holy Spirit.

That's all Folks!  Love you all, hope all is well, know that you are in my prayers. 

Elder Carter V

This is how you trim the bushes around the temple.  We were totally in style.  And yes, that is really what they gave us to trim them!  It was about as dull as could be, so it was just like taking a stick and beating it against the grass, but it made for cool pictures!

March 14, 2016 ... I don't really have a title this week...

This week felt forever long but it was an awesome week!  

To start off, we had MLC (Mission Leadership Council), and about 40 missionaries from our mission came to Bismarck for it.  On Tuesday, we went to this Sports complex and played ultimate frisby, flag football, kick ball, and soccer for a few hours, then we got to go back to the mission home to watch the movie "Free Town" (if you haven't seen it, it's amazing, but make sure you have your tissues handy) and the Face to Face with Elder Holland.  Wednesday we had the actual meeting, then headed back to our areas for to do missionary work.  

Friday I participated in my first ever Zone Training Meeting as a Zone Leader (which means that between me, my companion, and 2 sister missionaries we had to take up 2 hours of training that we had to pray about and decide what to have a training about.)  It really was a cool experience, but I'm pretty happy that the stress from that experience is over, at least for another month.  

So, as far as doing missionary work, like finding people to teach and teaching people, we didn't do any till Thursday.  But we had an awesome week once that day hit.

Sunday was the best ever!  For the first time in.....  about 9 months?  I had an investigator come to church, and to make it even better, we actually had 2 there!  We were so happy to see them there! E is one of them, and T is the other.  They seemed to enjoy it although we didn't get to see E afterwards, but we went to visit T at 3.  We had an amazing time there with her, her son S, and D, the lady she is living with.  We taught them the Plan of Salvation (my personal favorite lesson) and you could just see in their eyes that it made sense to them, but most importantly you could feel the Spirit in that room.  So strong.  It was such a special moment.  When we first met with T, she believed in a higher power, but she said that "if it wanted me to know about it, it would let me know, so I guess I'm not supposed to know."  We asked her why she thought we were there, and she said that there aren't coincidences, so she is probably supposed to learn from us, but she didn't know what.  And, to paraphrase what we said to her using the words of Paul the Apostle to the people of Athens "He whom ye ignorantly worship, declare I unto you."  As we taught about Heavenly Father and our relationship with Him, she got excited and intrigued.  At the end, we invited her to pray specifically to Him, not just to some unknown higher power, and she did.  And, as she told us later, for the first time in a long time, she was receiving answers to her prayers.  One of the highlights of my mission for sure.  

Loving it, as always.  It's great up here.  We're still breaking records of highest temperatures in March, so we're happy with that.

Love you all tons! 

Elder Carter V

1 and only pic) How would you like to see this truck driving down your street?  "Hide yo kids, and hide yo wives, and hide yo husban' too!"

March 7, 2016 Transfers

I forgot I needed to give you my zip code.  It is 58504.

I feel like my letters keep getting shorter and shorter, but hopefully they will pick up!  This week was a lot of administrative stuff like driving the Transfer van to Fargo and back.  I drove it to Fargo, and my comp drove it back.  While in Fargo we got to stop at the only Panda Express in the mission.  Man, it was soooo good!  Then we stayed the night if Fargo with the Zone Leaders there, and shipped out the next morning with a load of missionaries.  It was a blast to see all these missionaries that I haven't seen in forever!  It was also pretty fun to be driving a vehicle that is twice the size of what I'm used to driving with a trailer on the back.  Fun stuff!

That has been a lot of my week.  We also had to clean up and take down all the transfer stuff and make sure all the missionaries got to the right place and got all their luggage. 

This week I was reminded of just how important it is to be following the teachings of Jesus Christ.  For one, we teach 2 families that are in a very rough spot, mostly financially, but that takes a huge toll on their relationship too, so the couple is being torn apart too.  And, honestly?  Their problem is they don't live what Christ taught, specifically the Word of Wisdom.  If they didn't drink and smoke, they would have a ton more money!  If they tried to live a life like Christs, they would be so much happier.  And most important, their families would be protected.  The commandments are not there to be a crutch to keep us from reaching our full potential.  they are a protection for us.  As King Benjamin declared, "Consider on the blessed and happy state of those who keep the commandments of God, for they are blessed in all things, both temporally and spiritually."  The blessings of commandment keeping are so apparent, and all it takes is to experiment on the words of the prophets.  And hey, if it turns out that the prophets weren't inspired of God, you will know, because you will not see the promised blessings.  But I'm here to tell you that there are tens of millions of people that can testify that they have been blessed "both temporally and spiritually".  What do you have to lose?  Not a thing.  

I can promise you all that if you want your life to improve, live the way that Christ did, and head the words of His prophets, both ancient and modern.  Seek for those things that are in the scriptures, "for they will tell you all things what ye should do."  

I love you all and I pray that all is well for you!  

Elder Carter V

January 25, 2015 The Promised Land indeed!

Howdy all!

Man!  Transfers were crazy! Well, I said my goodbyes, got pictures, then I drove the truck from Wolf Point to Dickinson. It's weird driving a truck instead of a low riding boat of a car that has no guts.  I kind of enjoyed it, actually.  Once we got to Bismarck, I got to see Elder Warren!  That was so much fun!  It's hard to call him "Elder" though.  I had to catch myself before I called him "James".  Every.  Dang.  Time.  He is being trained in Glasgow, MT, which was part of my old District, so we practically switched places!  I love it there!  I got to go to Glasgow 5, maybe 6 times while I was there.  He's gonna love it.  His trainer is Elder Cope.  He's pretty awesome, although I didn't get to talk with him a whole lot.  Only knew him for 6 weeks, and didn't see him much.

In Bismarck, I am one of about..... 4 sets of missionaries?  That's only the young missionaries too.  We have way more senior couples than that though.  I don't even know most of them.  My new address is 1658 Capital Way #102 Bismarck, ND 58503.  Bismarck is culture shock for sure.  First off, there are 4 lane roads here.  There are also White people here.  That is so foreign to me!  I haven't been part of the majority for 7 1/2 months!  Second, I'm in the middle of a city, filled with more places to go than I could ever go to in a month!  It's a big place compared to what I'm used to... you know... less than 2,000 people in a city, and that's a big one.  There are 2 wards here in Bismarck, and right across the street from the church is the Temple!  My first night here my companion and I were asked to help with Baptisms at the temple.  I didn't expect to go till the beginning of next month!  What a blessing.  It's a beautiful, wonderful place.  The ward actually functions like a ward!  I've never had so many members to work with, never had so many to feed us, and never had ward member missionaries.  So, all in all, my mind is just blown.  

My new companion is a boss.  His name is Elder Riding from St. George, Utah.  He's been out a month and a half longer than me, and has been in Bismarck for 6 months already.  He's a hard worker and knows a lot.  I'm going to be learning so much from him, it's not even funny.  There is a reservation in our District, and I will be going down this Sunday to speak in Sacrament Meeting!  Yay for being back on the Rez!  But aside from that, I doubt I'll get to see it much.  

Church on Sunday was sweet!  Half way through the passing of the Sacrament, the power went out and the back-up lights came on.  They finished passing the Sacrament, then the conductor gets up and says that we will just go on with the meeting and hope the power comes back on.  So, we had a traditional, old fashioned church meeting!  The speakers got up and had to project their message all the way to the back.  

I've met so many people this week, I can't even remember most of their names.  But, I've only had to cook myself dinner once!  The members here treat us so good, and they are so  missionary minded.  This is going to be a huge change from the missionary work I have done in the past because I will have so much help from the members.  I'm loving it!!

And that's about all the time I've got today.  Love you all and hope you have a wonderful week!

Elder Carter V

1)Sister Logan.  She's the best!

2)The Shanks.  they are the  best too! 

February 29, 2016

Sorry about last week.  We had something come up and I didn't get the chance to finish writing!  

The move went great!  We are now living at 2100 South 12th Street #314.  It's a pretty nice apartment complex!  We're on the very southern part of Bismarck.

Last Monday was Zone Conference!  My first time giving a training to more than 10 missionaries.  It went super well though!  We have an awesome zone.  And we also has all the senior missionaries with us for most of the meeting.  They are all just too funny.  

This week we were tracting and we knocked on a Spanish guys door.  He seemed super nice and interested, so we called up the Spanish missionaries here in Bismarck, and they were able to teach him.  they said that he is so ready for the Gospel!  It was great to see that happen!

We had African food this week.  It's called Casova leaf.  It's basically fish cooked with the casova leaf and a boat load of peppers (it was sooooo hot!).  And a chicken foot.  Yes, you heard it.  A Chicken foot.  Tasty!  (We didn't eat the chicken foot.  It's just for flavor.  And maybe decoration?)  I put the pictures down below.

This coming week I get to help with Transfers!  And by help, I mean that I get to drive the transfer van to Fargo and back.  Woohoo!  I'm pretty stoked.  

You know, for having missed my email last week, I can't think of a single thing to write about.  President Hess came and played Basketball with us this morning (we get to play for our morning work out on P-day) and that was a blast!  He didn't actually play, he just jogged around the court and cheered us on.  He's too funny!  And for those of you that know how bad I was at basketball back home, I think you would be proud to know that I am much better.  I still am pretty bad, but I actually contribute!  Yay me!  

I love and miss you all! 

Elder Carter V

This is from Zone Conference.  Sorry for the low quality.  I'm not sure what happened.

February 16, 2016 A New Apartment and Another Temple Trip

As the first order of business, we will be moving into a new apartment this week, so don't send anything till I get you my new address.  We're pretty excited, but I am not looking forward to packing everything again... plus some.  Just pray that it doesn't rain or snow!

This week hasn't been full of many exciting things, but I did have some stuff happen!  For the past few weeks we have been helping M, a recent convert, do his family history so that he can take those names to the temple.  We were able to find over 30 names for him to take!  What a blessing!  We went of Friday and were able to get all of them done.  He was so happy and excited!  We were at the temple with 4 other Elders.  The assistants were there because they had a baptism recently and were going to do baptisms with her for the first time!  Her name is Es.   She is super awesome.  She is from Liberia and is just full of faith.  It's awesome to see!  We had a great time at the Temple with them.

Wednesday we had lunch at a members house in the 1st ward (we are in the 2nd ward) because they had a Stake Youth activity that weekend that they wanted us to help out with, so she was telling us what she wanted us to do for it.  Her name was Sister Osmond (and I am told that she is a relative to the Osmond family, but I didn't get a chance to ask her.) and she is super nice!  So, on Saturday we got to help out!  It was fun to be around the youth again.  I forgot what it was like to be with the youth again.  Weird!

We started teaching the A Family, a family that recently moved from the 1st ward to the 2nd ward, and now we get to see them!  Both parents are less active, but they want their daughter L to be baptized when she turns 8, so they asked us to come teach her.  It's been fun to talk with the family!  They are just as nice as can be, and L is super smart.  Way smart.  She soaks it all up really fast, and the parents are learning a lot too, which is great since they have forgotten a lot of stuff over the years.

We are also teaching a Native couple, M&M.  M is a member who hasn't come in a while, and M is her husband who isn't a member (yet).  Since I have been here it's been hard to get in with them.  But one day they kept their appointment and they opened up to us in it.  They full on told us that they had been dodging us because they had fallen back into bad habits, but they realized that wasn't the right thing to do, so they kept the appointment and said that they want to "get back on the road".  M so badly wants to be baptized and M wants to come back to church and eventually be sealed in the temple, but something always comes up.  Every time we make plans to get them to church they either can't get back into town or had to leave town or are sick, etc. etc. etc.  But they show a whole lot of desire to change and to start doing what they know they should be doing.

That's all for today folks!  I love you, I miss you, and I hope and pray that all is well.  

Elder Carter

1) We went to a river boat and took some pictures.  

2) This is a monument to the Thunder Bird!  From Left to right: Elders Peterson, me, Griffith, Abarca, Riding, Cowley.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

February 8, 2016 The "Tough guy"

The Zone I am responsible for has 3 districts, a total of about 30 missionaries including the AP's and Sister Training Leaders (pretty much Zone leaders, but Sisters, and their responsibility is mostly the Sisters.).  I absolutely love Bismarck!  Gas is cheaper than I have ever seen it.  It's at 1.69!  Crazy!  The sad thing is, a lot of people are losing jobs and having to move to find a new job.

The work here is super different from my past areas because here not everyone knows who we are.  In Valley City, everyone knew (or thought they knew) who the Mormons were, and on the reservation, pretty much everyone is or has a family member you is a member of the church, so they all love and respect the Church.  When Elder Samplina (did I tell you about him?  The Elder that got hit by a car the day before we arrived in Poplar?) got hit, everyone in town knew withing minutes (they all have police scanners in their house so they all know everything that is happening around town) that he had been hit and they were furious!  The guy who hit him was despised by many after that.  The gangs out there make sure that no one messes with "The Jesus Crew" haha!  But, out here, we're just a bunch of young adults wearing name tags and suits walking around talking to people.  Most of them are very nice to us too, so that's good!

This week was one adventure after another!  We cleaned out a guys chicken coup (he has about 25 chickens, and he hasn't been home for 3 months, so you can imagine how much there was.  There was in the worst places about 6 inches of nasty, and in the not so bad places only about 1, maybe 2.  But since it was below freezing, it all came up in chunks, which was nice.  

I had 2 exchanges this week!  The first was with Elder Griffith on the other side of Bismarck.  He is a funny guy!  We had a blast, and for the first time in a long time, I went tracting (for those of you who don't know what that is, tracting is knocking doors).  Almost no one answered the door, but we got a good laugh out of one guy (Meaning we laughed really hard, not him.... he wasn't too thrilled).  While we are at the door, I've got the window in plain sight but can't see in, so I am doing everything I can to not make it look like I'm looking in, cause that's just rude.  But, I couldn't help but look when the blinds, which were completely open, closed suddenly.  then, soon after they closed, they re-opened.  Then closed again.  So, we chuckle to ourselves, wondering what this guy is thinking, then we knock again, since he just tactfully gave away his position.  A little later, he comes to the door with a pack of cigarettes and a lighter, steps outside with us, and we asked him how he was doing.  He doesn't say a word, but proceeded to remove a cigarette from the pack and light it.  Once he had fumbled for a bit trying to get it out and lit, I thought he was going to blow it in my face, but he didn't.   He just said "You've got 3 seconds to get off my porch."  We graciously complied, and told him to have a great day!  Honestly, he seemed like a nice guy.  The reason I say that is because he plays a really terrible mean one.  

The second was with Elder Gates, who, if Benedict Cumberbatch were a Tim Burton character, he would look just like him.  I went to Dickinson (we crossed the time change, so I was all out of wack haha) and we taught some awesome people there!  

This week I learned a very valuable lesson and I want you all to take it and burn it into your memories, never to be removed.  First, The Atonement is real, and it is for all.  Not just some, not just most, it is for all.  Jesus Christ didn't suffer for those that He decided He wanted to save.  It was for every single person who ever has been and ever will be on this earth.  That means that no matter what you have done, if you truly ask for forgiveness and forsake your sins, you will find peace that can't be found in any other way. Second thing you must understand is that there is an adversary.  He wants you to be miserable like he is.  He will do anything he can to make you be miserable.  He knows what to do to get you to go the way he wants you to because he has been doing this for countless years and he has it down to a science.  One of his tools is to convince you that the Atonement is not for you, that it won't help you, or that it didn't exist.  Never believe this lie of all lies.  If you feel there is nothing that can help you through a trial, turn to the One who knows all things!  He didn't feel everything you felt so that He could say "Quit wining!  It's not that bad!  I felt it too, you know!"  He did it so that He can comfort you perfectly to your needs.  What a great gift.  Remember that.  Utilize that.  The only way to true and lasting happiness is through Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God, your Brother and friend.  I wish I could just tell you all the things going on in my head, but I can't, so I hope this made sense.  

I love you all dearly!  

Elder Carter

February 1, 2016 Never thought 35 degrees would be short sleeve weather.

The weather up here is so bipolar.  We have had almost no snow fall, and now it is all melting away because it has been in the high 30's into the 40's all week.  Normally, January is the coldest month of the year and filled with the most snow.  But not this January!  Pretty sweet!  It's been super nice weather, and I am loving it.  I never thought that 35 degrees would be short sleeve weather, but it sure is up here!  I don't expect it to last too much longer, but it'll be nice while it lasts.

Speaking in Ft. Yates was great!  I enjoyed it, although it didn't feel like a reservation.  It was much nicer than the ones I've been on in the past.  It just felt like an old town that isn't as well kept as it could be.  They have a Branch there, and it's practically the same as in Poplar.  The building is almost the same, there were 17 people there, and everyone left after Sacrament meeting.

Our days in Bismarck are actually pretty similar to our days in my other areas, the only difference is that we have to drive in a city, which is still weird to me.  3 lanes is far too many!  As a Zone Leader I'm still a regular missionary, except for a couple things.  Once a month my comp and I are to prepare a training for the Zone that lasts about an hour.  At the beginning of every month we are in charge of divvying out miles to the zone (Every month missionaries that drive a car are given a certain amount of miles that they can drive per month, and we try to stay in that mileage limitation as best we can.).  Anytime someone has a question about what they can or can't do, or if they need to be given permission to call someone outside their district, they call us and ask us for permission, and stuff like that.  We are also asked to do stuff for the mission office a lot.  But that's about it for our duties.  Pretty much normal missionary life with a couple things added on to teach us leadership skills.  

This week, Elder Riding was sick, so it has been interesting to say the least.  We still tried running around seeing people, but we didn't want to spread his germs, so we had to call it quits a few times.  But, he's all better now, so we're back to hittin' the pavement!

I don't have any exciting stories for this week mostly because of the sickness issue and we had a few errands we had to run for the mission office.  Next week will bring many more stories though!  It's gonna be a good one, I can feel it!

Love you all, hope all continues to be great, hope you are staying warm!

Elder Carter V

Trying to get a picture with Taz....