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Monday, December 28, 2009

First Christmas as a Missionary

Hey, It was weird this week to not be home for Christmas, but we still had a good time and got to celebrate just a little bit. On Monday there wasn't much to do for p-day. We kind of just relaxed and slept. That night we made some cakes at our branch mission leader's house to take to our investigators and some less active members for Tuesday. Tuesday night Elder Smout and I delivered the cakes secret Santa style. Our mission president told us it would be a good idea to get people excited about things, and think it was from other members. It was kind of exciting to doorbell ditch after we put the cakes down, and see if you could get back into the truck without slipping and breaking yourself on the ice and before they opened the door. We did a good job. We ran a lot too.

Well the rest of the week was kind of slow. Most everyone we talked to just told us to come back after the holidays, so we didn't have much to do at times. We spent Christmas Eve and Christmas Day visiting less-active members and trying to contact investigators. I also got to call home! It was fun to talk to everyone. It doesn't seem like I have been gone that long, even though I know I really haven't, but a lot has happened at home since I left. Daniel's voice sounds a lot deeper, but beneath the voice you find a man, and beneath the man, you find his...nucleus. haha. Well, yesterday Elder Smout and I both spoke in Sacrament meeting for a "missionary Sunday" they do every couple of months. Our branch mission leader spoke also. I think it was a good sacrament meeting. Well, there's not a whole lot to say today since we talked about everything on the phone on Christmas. I'm really starting to like Whitehorse, and it will be exciting to start a new year, and get ready for the baptism on the 9th. I appreciate what everyone sent me for Christmas and for all your support! Love Mat

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas phone call

Elder Squires called home on Christmas day around 2:00 p.m. Our whole family was home to get to talk to him. He is doing well and sounds the same and it felt to me like he had just left. His mission is already starting to go by quickly. He's had some great experiences and loves his mission. It's challenging to serve in the "bush" where there are very few Church members and no other missionaries beside Mat and his companion. If anyone is up to it, Mat is, and we have faith that he will continue to work hard and be an obedient missionary. He is looking forward to the January baptism of their investigator, Nicole. I'm looking forward to his next call on Mother's Day which will be right around the time of his one year mark. We love him and are proud of him!

Caryn
Mat's Mom

Monday, December 21, 2009

Ready for Christmas

Hey mom! Sounds like you will have a full house for Christmas. That's awesome that Grandma and Grandpa are going to go visit Aunt Carol for Christmas. They are amazing people. I'm definitely going to miss all the traditions and being with you guys, but I'll try to have fun here too haha. On Christmas we're not sure what we're going to do. We have dinner with members but that's it. We don't really want to tract or anything because people don't want visitors on Christmas, so we are planning on going to do service at Salvation Army, and maybe a member will let us chill with them. I'll probably call in the afternoon sometime before our dinner. Thanks for everything!

I had a really good week this week. Last week was really frustrating, but this week things got better. At the beginning of the week the work was extremely slow, and we weren't able to get much done. We've been helping this one girl move out of her apartment, and this week we finally finished. It's not fun moving people when it's freezing outside. It's been getting a lot colder everyday too. The last few days it's been around -25 to -30 Celcius, and it's only going to get colder. I'm not sure what that is in Fahrenheit, but I think they even out and then Fahrenheit passes Celcius when it gets this cold. We are going to have to start plugging our truck in at night because it barely started this morning on our way to email. On Saturday Elder Smout was really sick so we had to stay in most of the day. I got a lot of reading done, and slept a lot too. That night the guys in the apartment above ours were jumping around and yelling until like 4 or 5 in the morning, so I didn't get like any sleep. Elder Smout took Tylenol PM so he was knocked out, but I had a terrible night. On Sunday church went well, and after church we went to a lesson with some potential investigators, and had a really good lesson about the Plan of Salvation. They had some really good questions, and want us to come back and teach them more. We are really excited about that. They seem really curious about what we believe, and they were interested about the Plan of Salvation. We also had our ward party last night, and that was pretty good. There was lots of food there, and we sang a lot of Christmas songs as a branch. Pretty much the whole branch was there. We are hoping to have a really successful next few weeks. Things are starting to look really promising here, so we are going to work hard to take advantage of all the opportunites we get to build the kingdom. Well, that was my week pretty much. I'm really excited to call home on Christmas Day. It definitely will be weird not being home, but we will have some fun here. Talk to you in a few days!! Love Mat

Monday, December 14, 2009

Christmas Presents

Hi mom! Well I opened the packages. Sorry I didn't wait til Christmas, I thought you said open it at zone conference, and then I just checked the old email and you said not until Christmas. I was going to wait, but my companion kept bugging me so I just opened it. Thank you!!!! I hung up the two stockings, and Grandma and Papa sent me a stocking so I hung that up, too. It's good to have some decorations. I tried to use one of those McDonalds cards, but they wouldn't accept it because they said they only work in the states. It's ok though. I'm saving one for when I go back, and I'm mailing the other to Elder Vailea, because I know he likes McDonalds, and I'm not sure if he will be getting a package from his family for Christmas, so that's my Christmas present to him.

This week has been a pretty good week. It's been slow, but we have had a good time, and are trying to help our investigators as much as we can. On Moday we went to a Pilates appointment with Nicole and her mom that they set up for us. We kept saying how Pilates would be a piece of cake, so they challenged us to a real appointment, not what you see on TV, but with the hardcore machines and everything. It pretty much worked us over. My abs were really sore for a few days. It was pretty funny to see everything we couldn't do because we were out of shape. The rest of this week has been pretty uneventful, we are just trying to help the work move forward. On Friday, we had Zone Conference. I am in the Juneau zone now. In our zone we have the 3 areas in Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and us in Whitehorse. It's pretty cool to have all of us meet together for that. All the areas outside of Juneau had to call in and listen over the phone. They called on me to give a talk, but it's pretty easy when you can just sit back in a soft chair and you don't see anyone that's listening. Not a bad deal. I also got called to speak in our sacrament meeting here. I imagine I will probably speak quite a few times here since the branch is so small. When I was sitting up on the stand, I looked out over the congregation, and I was really humbled to see everyone there. It's really hard for the people here to stay involved and active when they are so far separated from the rest of the church. It's amazing to see people that want so badly to stay involved and active regardless of that. The gospel is amazing.

The cold hasn't been too bad here yet. It stays between -10 and -20 degrees Celcius usually. Whitehorse is kind of a melancholy place in the winter. It's tough to get people interested in our message, and it's really easy to get tired because it's dark all the time. Soon it will start to get light again though. I'm doing pretty good here so far. The area is starting to grow on me, and I'm sure that when I have to leave it will be hard. But while I'm here I'll give it my best. I love you guys! Love Mat

Monday, December 7, 2009

Things to Look Forward To

Hey! This last week has been a pretty good week. P-day we didn't do much, but On Tuesday we got to go sledding with the young men and women for their mutual activity. Elder Smout had never been before, and it's been awhile for me, so it was fun. My tail bone is a little sore because it was really hard and icy. Those hats really came in useful though, and they were really warm. Well, we put someone on date for Baptism this week! This 17 year old girl Nicole has been investigating with the missionaries for awhile, and she is going to be baptized on January 9th. President Dance is letting Elder Smout stay an extra week after transfers so he can baptize her. He's excited about that. This transfer is almost half over already, crazy! Time moves fast. This area is really slow, but the work is still moving. We have 40-50 people at church every week, so the branch isn't too small, but compared to the population of Whitehorse it's tiny. I calculated it in my head, and with 50 people active in a city with 25,000 people, only 2 thousandths of the popualtion are members, or 1/500 of the population. We need to baptize like crazy here so we can change that ratio.

There's not a whole lot to report on this week, because not a whole lot has happened. The Christmas Devotional was really good. We had a couple investigators there so we were happy about that. Oh, and if I didn't mention it before, we ended up having Thanksgiving here with Nicole's family. It was good to have one, because I didn't think I would coming to Canada, but they were nice and decided to cook one for us. Today we got sucked into going to a Pilates session with Nicole and her mom. They have a private instructor ready for us. We are going to get worked over. We were saying how Pilates would be really easy and we would have no problem with it, so they challenged us to a real session. I'll have to let you know how that goes next week when I can barely walk. Alright well that's it I guess. I hope you're all having a great week! Love Mat

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Pictures from Whitehorse


Elder Smout and Elder Squires. They bought matching hats at Wal-mart.

Pictures from Wasilla


Elder Squires.


Great view.

Moose



Elder Vailea and Elder Squires.









Monday, November 30, 2009

Whitehorse

That's really sad about Bro. Ewell. I remember him driving us everywhere on the Church History tour. He was a really cool guy. Is Sis. Ewell still going to do the church history tours?

That's pretty sweet that I'll get two packages. That will be cool. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't gotten the one sent to the mission office yet. That's pretty sweet about the BYU game! I hadn't heard yet. I probably would have heard if I wasn't in Canada, but people are like only into hockey up here, bunch of weirdos. That is awesome that Drew and Cameron got to see each other. I need to write them.

Well, it's been a pretty good first week in Whitehorse. It's been a really different week as well. It's just a small branch here, and it's weird to be in a branch again. I like branches because there are less people so you get to know all of them really well. Not much has gone on actually. I'm not sure if I told you already, but I got bit by a dog before I left Wasilla. A stupid little dog clamped onto my thigh and I got a hole in my suit pants and some blood got all over. Stupid little thing. I wasn't sure If I told you guys yet or not. So Whitehorse is pretty cool. It hasn't gotten as cold as I heard it would, but It will get there I'm sure. My trainer served here, and he said to expect -55 F. Yay. So this first week here has just been busy with getting to know everyone and just doing the work. The work is really slow here, but hopefully that will change. It kind of stinks to be away from all the other missionaries again. District meetings and zone conferences are over the phone again. It's hard not to see anyone from the mission except your companion for a long time. It is really easy for missionaries to be disobedient here because it's so far away from everyone, and no one from the mission sees what you do. Some things have happened in the past here with missionaries that weren't good. I've heard lots of stuff, but don't worry, I will always be obedient.

Whitehorse is awesome though. It's kinda funny to hear the way people talk here, and see how they act. They are definitely Canadians. There was a Canadian missionary in my MTC district, and I always gave him a really hard time about being from Canada, just messing with him. I'll have to write him. He will think it's hilarious that I'm in Whitehorse after all the grief I gave him. People say stuff here like they did in Fargo, like bag is beg, and flag is fleg, stuff like that. All their vowels sound like they try to sound Irish. There are also a ton of natives here, except you have to call them First Nations, not natives. Speaking of natives, on Thursday we did service at Salvation Army during lunch, and they asked me to say the blessing on the food. There was this crazy first nation walking around, and after I finished with the prayer, I turned around, and he put me in a choke hold from behind, and said "your coming with me," so I wasn't sure if he was just joking and was about to start punching him in the face when he let go and said just kidding. Then he threatened that he had two 9 mm's and was dangerous, which I thought was stupid because no homeless native person can afford that. We also did service at a senior home, and I crushed an old lady at scrabble. Elder Smout said she was really good and always beats them. I defeated her, but she has Alzheimers so I'm not sure if I should take pride in that haha.

Well, Whithorse is definitely going to be a challenge, but I know I will love it here. I'm am doing my best to learn and grow and have the Spirit with me. It's tough to do in an area like this, and I feel empty after the growth I was having in Wasilla, but I guess I just will grow in different ways here. I'm excited to say I'm serving in a foreign country, and after all the making fun of Canada I've done, it figures that I would be serving here. I love you all and in a few weeks we can talk on the phone! Love Mat

Monday, November 23, 2009

Things are a little bit different now eh?

How's it going eh? How are you all doing eh? Can you guess where I am right now eh? C-eh-N-eh-D-eh. I'm in Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory of Canada right now!! So crazy!! Things went a little differently for transfers than I thought they would. I got my transfer call on Saturday, and President Dance told me I would be coming to Whitehorse. I was so shocked! I thought I would be staying in Wasilla for at least one more transfer, but both me and Elder Vailea were transferred. He went to Palmer. I had to talk to the assistants about my travel information right after I talked to President Dance, and they told me I had to be at this gas station in Palmer at 6:30 AM Sunday Morning, and that I would be on the road for 16 hours. I had to say goodbye to all the members pretty quick after my transfer call, and I had to stay up late finishing all my packing so I could leave on time.

I will leave out details of my van ride over here. To put it short, if there was a way to experience hell in this life, I pretty much went through it during the van ride. I drove till about 1:30 where we stopped in Tok, and I met the missionary leaving Whitehorse, and then we went opposite ways, and I drove down the Alaska Highway to Whitehorse, and he drove to serve with Elder Vailea in Palmer. I guess I can share one thing about the ride. It was a professional bus line called Alaska Direct, and I switched onto a different van at Tok. When I got in and we started driving, I noticed that the check engine light was on, and remembered how I had heard someone on the ride earlier say that they had broken down one summer on the same bus line. I just said some prayers that the van would make it because it was below zero outside. We made a lot of stops on the way, and the van was fine, and then when the driver dropped me off, he got back into the van and the van wouldn't drop into gear because I think there was a problem with the engine. Crazy! I know the Lord was watching over me that whole way. That's all I'll say about that ride.

Well, my new companion's name is Elder Smout. He's from Dallas, Texas. He's been here 4 and a half months, and our visitor's passes we get at the Canadian border only allow us 6 months in the country, so I'll only have one trasfer with him. I'm really excited to serve here. I've heard a lot of good things. I don't think I will be getting Thanksgiving, though. The Canadian Thanksgiving was in October so that is already gone. Oh well. I guess I will have a Canadian Christmas. My companion said it takes a couple weeks for packages to make it here so just a heads up. It might be a little tougher to write letters every week also, but I'll do my best. I was pretty sad to leave Wasilla, especially after I was just starting to get close with the members, but I guess that's how it goes for missionaries. I hope I can stay here for the entire 6 months so I can get to know the people really well, and so It will be longer until I have to go back on the van ride through hell. It's really crazy to be one of the only two missionaries in the Yukon Territory. Very few missionaries get the opportunity to come here, and this is one of places I wanted to serve, so I'm excited. We also have a brand new Silverado. It's an extremely nice truck, and I'm not really sure why they give one to missionaries, but I'm not going to complain haha.

I would give you all the details of my last week in Wasilla, but that would make this email very long so hopefully I gave enough info about my trip and everything. I'm really excited to serve here and get to know the Canadians. I've heard there is a member here with a drum set, and the missionaries go over and play guitar with him, but no one knows how to play the drums. I'll change that haha. Well, I hope you are all doing well, and next week I'll fill you in on my experiences here in Whitepony, I mean Whitehorse. See ya! Love Mat

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Big One

Hey everyone! Well it's been an interesting week. There have been a lot of ups and downs this week. On Monday we had a good pday and played dodgeball and volleyball as a zone. On Tuesday we had interviews with President Dance so that was awesome. We had a great conversation, and he handed me a letter from my old roomate Mark in the Dominican Republic. I was pretty happy because I wanted to send him a letter but I didn't know what his mission address was. He is doing good in the DR. We are moving by the way. We already have the apartment and the keys and everything, but haven't moved yet. I'm kinda bummed because at my apartment now there are lots of moose and open space around it, and I can see Mt. McKinley from my window, and the new apartment is just on a street with a bunch of houses and is halfway under the ground. I don't want to move. Oh well.

On Wednesday the Valdez elders drove up and we went on exchanges with them the whole day. It was my old companion Elder Wood and his greenie Elder Kelley. I went with Elder Kelley and Elder Vailea went with Elder Wood. Elder Kelley and I had a fun time. I showed him Sarah Palin's house, and we got to shovel snow for this guy we tracted into. We shoveled a lot of snow and built up some trust with the guy, so hopefully we can teach him eventually. We also visited a less active, and there was a drunk guy in his house who was in his 50's and thought he was part of ACDC. He was jamming on an invisible guitar and it was pretty funny. After he finished jamming out, he looked at us and said he loved us, and started to walk towards us to embrace us or something, and he tripped over some boxes and fell on Elder Kelley. It was hilarious. We decided we weren't in the mood to hug drunk guys so we left haha. Thursday we had Zone Conference and it was awesome. It was a very spiritual Zone Conference, and I got to stand and share some of the awesome experiences Elder Vailea and I have had being guided by the Spirit. It was a good day.

One of our investigators, Shawn, came to church yesterday so we were excited about that. She is the one who wants to get baptized but doesn't know when she'll be ready. This week was a good week. We had to drop two of our investigators this week, so that wasn't good, but we picked up three new investigators so that makes up for it. Well, last week of this transfer. We get our transfer calls on Saturday and I think I will stay here for at least one more transfer. It's getting COLD! Last night Elder Vailea and I tracted in -5 degrees fahrenheit. I don't like it when it's that cold. Your nose hairs freeze and stand on end and it just feels weird haha. Ok you'll here from me next week! Love Mat

Monday, November 9, 2009

Snow!

Well, We finally have snow!! People were pretty shocked it took so long this year. It was over a month late compared to last years snowfall. It started snowing last night around 8:30 and this morning there were about 3-6 inches. Still not very much, but it's freaking cold, and the skies will open soon I'm sure. All the lakes and rivers are frozen over.

What an awesome week it's been! We've had some pretty sweet experiences. On Monday we played dodgeball as a zone and it was really fun. It was a pretty good P-day. Today we are going to play volleyball as a zone. Elder Vailea is really good so as long as I'm on his team that's cool. I don't want to be on the wrong side of the net when he spikes it. When we play volleyball people are always afraid when he throws it at them because he throws so hard and leaves big welts haha. Well something awesome happened this week. On Wednesday our appointments and plans fell through right before dinner, and so we had about 10 minutes to kill before our dinner appointment, and we had no idea what to do. I knew there were a couple houses in this random spot, so I was just like, let's just tract these really quick and then go to dinner. There was a house and an apartment. When we were tracting the apartments, we ran into an inactive member that hadn't been to church in 10 years. He was excited to see us, and told us to come in. We told him we couldn't stay because of our dinner appointment, so we gave him our number and told him we would come back at a different time. He called us about 30 minutes later and asked if he could meet with the Bishop, so we set up an appointment for him. This is the cool part of the story--the day before he had been on the phone with his sister who is in Juneau. He told her that he had been praying and wanted to start getting back into the church, and asked her if she knew how he could get in touch with the missionaries. She said she only knew the Juneau missionaries so she didn't know how to get in contact with us. The next day we tracted into him at that apartment complex. He said that after we contacted him, he realized that was a sign and an answer to his prayer, so he said another prayer, and then called us to meet with the bishop. The bishop was out of town so he met with the 1st Counselor. His records have been in Colorado for years and no one in this area knew about him. I was amazed to have that experience of the spirit working through us and leading us to him at the exact moment he needed it. He sincerely wants to start coming back to church, and I know it's because of his sincerity that we were led to find him.

We also had a lesson with Shawn on Tuesday, and at the end of the lesson, we committed her to be baptized. She said that she would be baptized, but she won't know when she will be ready. She said she knows she needs to get baptized and that she knows she will be baptized, but she doesn't know when. We will be focusing on helping her with that the next couple weeks, and I really hope she chooses to be baptized while I am here so I can be here for it. Well, as you can see I've had an awesome week. I love this work and I'm excited to see what happens here in the near future. I love you all!! Until next week.

Love Mat

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Halloween in Alaska

Hey! hope you enjoy this email...Well this week was a pretty good week. There wasn't a whole lot going on Monday for P-day, but Elder Vailea and I went to the gym with a member to play raquetball. I had never played before and it was really fun. After raquetball the member made Elder Vailea and I race on these rowing machines. We each had to row for three minutes without stopping, and whoever had the best calorie burn rate won. Elder Vailea won, but it was a close second. He got 18 calories a minute and I got 17. I don't feel too bad considering he's a monster and I'm really out of shape. We both felt like crap after. I almost fell over when we were walking away, and both our legs were shaking pretty bad. It was pretty funny. We were both tired and just wanted to sleep after, but we still needed to go work. Tuesday it snowed finally. It only snowed for about 30 minutes and it didn't stick but at least it snowed. It's been clear skies since then. I guess it's really unusual for it to not have snowed this late. It usually snow in early or mid October I guess. This whole week has been extremely windy and cold. The wind was blowing so hard that lots of trees were falling over into some streets. It makes it really cold when it's already in the 30's and the wind is blowing 40+ mph. When we tracted our faces were getting frozen and it's weird to talk to people on their doorstep when you can hardly move your mouth. We were tracting the other day, and after we knocked on the door, the house alarm went off, and it was extremely loud. We just turned and walked away. I thought a cop or security car would pull up, so we went down the road a little ways before we continued. The alarm turned off after like 10 minutes and no security showed up. I'm sure it looked conspicuous when the alarm went off and there were two guys in dark clothes walking away from the house haha.

On Wedensday we had a lesson with Shawn. It was a really good lesson. We taught part of the 2nd lesson (The Plan of Salvation), and she had lots of questions and comments, so we will teach the rest tomorrow. It was awesome, because she said how she enjoys reading the Book of Mormon, and then told us that she knows deep down in her heart that the Book of Mormon is true. I was pretty happy when she said that. She just needs to see the importance of baptism and when she does I don't think she will have any hesitation in getting baptized.

It's amazing to see the kind of protection missionaries are given by the Spirit. We are put into lots of situations that are dangerous and uncomfortable, and I look back on them and see just how amazing the protection is that the Lord gives to his servants. There is a different kind of protection as a missionary than there was at home. From things that have happened to other missionaries, and things that have happened to me, I can definitely tell that the Lord preserves those who are fulfilling his purposes.----Anyways....Halloween went really well. We weren't allowed to tract, and nobody was home, so our best option was to go to the ward party. We had an investigator that went, too so that was good. We spent a lot of the day helping set the party up, and running back and forth between appointments. Elder Vailea and I had pretty good costumes; we were missionaries. Not just missionaries, but I was Elder Vailea and Elder Vailea was me. We switched name tags for Halloween and threw everyone off. That's about the best we could do haha. It was really cold and windy Halloween night, and it was funny to see people trick or treating the same way we did when we lived in Fargo. The parents would drive their kids around between houses, and the kids would run back to the car after each house. If I remember right though there was snow in North Dakota during Halloween when we were there.

Well, I'm enjoying my mission. This transfer is already halfway over, and it's amazing how fast time flies. I am learning a ton in my studying and in our teaching and working. I read a lot, and it's really my favorite thing to do, but how you really learn is by teaching and serving. I hope everything is going well for everyone and that you are all happy! Love Mat

Monday, October 26, 2009

A Pretty Good Week

Well this week was a pretty good week. On Monday we went bowling as a zone. I got the second highest score with a 136 haha. That's not very good but at least I broke 100 right? That was a pretty good P-day. We bowled 3 games and had a good time. On Tuesday we were supposed to have a lesson with Shawn, but when we called her house to make sure the lesson was still on, her daughter told us she was in the hospital. One of the members called her in the hospital and she said she would like a blessing so we went over to the hospital right away. She had some problems with her blood sugar. We gave her a blessing, which went well, and then after we ran into a member from another ward that wanted us to give her husband a blessing, so we did that while we were there too. He had some pretty awesome Vietnam war stories he told us. So we didn't get to have a lesson with Shawn this week, but I'm glad we were able to help her out at the hospital. She said she has never been comfortable around elders, but she is comfortable around me and Elder Vailea because we are gangsta like that.

On Wednesday we had a lesson with another investigator, and it was probably my worst teaching experience so far. It was an unplanned visit, and was kind of awkward to begin with, but we just didn't teach well. She was only giving us one word answers to all our questions, and then Elder Vailea forgot her name and called her Noel when her name was Angelica, so that was funny, but we just didn't teach well. It's a good thing the Spirit teaches better than we do. This week we received two new investigators! We met our goal for the week so we were pretty excited. Our prayers were answered that's for sure. It's interesting, because I haven't felt like I have been working hard enough, so the past few days we've been trying harder and working harder, and that's when we started having success. We spent a lot more time tracting the past few days, and from being more focused and working harder, I can tell it makes a big difference. On Saturday we had a lesson with a guy named Chris we ran into tracting. The lesson went pretty good, and he already had a Book of Mormon and new a little bit about the church. On Sunday we brought up in PEC that he had a lot of wood to split for the winter, and some home projects to do, and immediately the ward council volunteered ideas and time to go over and fellowship him and help him with the work. One of the Young Men's leaders went to his house and talked with Chris that night and set up the priest mutual activity on Wednesday night to go over and split all the wood. That is pretty awesome. Chris has 3 kids and twins on the way so he needs all the help he can get. I really appreciated the fact that the ward council was so willing to get involved first hand and help out. Well, that pretty much sums up my week. I'm really focusing on what I can do to be a better missionary. Have a good week! Love You!

Love Mat

Monday, October 19, 2009

Splitting Logs

Hey! Well it's been a pretty good week. We did a lot of service this week, and I love doing service because it makes the time go by fast and it's good to get out of church clothes and do physical work. On Monday it was kind of a quiet P-day. We emailed and then went shopping, and then went back to our apartment and played some games with other missionaries. that night we had dinner with the MacDonald's, and after we had a lesson with Jason about obedience and the Word of Wisdom. It was a really good lesson, and we committed him to live the Word of Wisdom. He said it will be a slow process but he is working on it. After we committed that I felt really impressed to commit him to be baptized, and so I did, but he said he didn't know yet. It was good that I asked because he told us all his concerns and what was holding him back. We told him that the closer he gets to living the Word of Wisdom, the more in tune he will become with the Spirit so he can receive his answer. I hope it will be sooner than later, but it's on the Lord's time and not mine.

On Tuesday we raked leaves for Jason for about an hour and a half, and then on Tuesday we raked leaves for Shawn, our other investigator, for a couple of hours. We do a lot of leaf raking here. There are tons of leaves. It was cool because she told us she had already read what we left her to read, and then we set up a time to see her again and have a lesson, so tomorrow we're doing that. On Thursday we raked leaves again for Jason (He has a really big yard). After we finished the raking, we loaded the leaves into trash cans and hauled them on a four-wheeler into the trees to dump them. It took most of the day to do that. Earlier that day we had stopped by Bro. Best's house. He is 81 years old and had a ton of guns and navy stories. His wife was in Germany during World War II and has crazy stories about being forced to be in the Hitler youth and stuff like that. Anyways, Bro. Best was out with a chain saw cutting up logs from trees he had cut down, and hauling them back to be split. We were in our church clothes, but there were logs that weighed probably 80 pounds, and he is really old, and we didn't want him to hurt himself, so we helped load the wood and haul it up to be stacked, and then helped him stack wood that was already split. He started throwing his hatchet at a pile of wood, so we had a hatchet throwing contest and I'm pretty good at sticking it. I'm a born warrior. On Friday we went back to Bro. Best's house and helped him split all the wood we had hauled up the day before. I really like doing that kind of work. I like working with the big trees and logs. I had never split wood before either so that was cool. He had a splitter that we used, which pushes a wedge into the wood and spilts it, but I did some by hand too with an axe. I'm pretty good with weapons of war. Anyways, enough about that. It's good to serve the members and those you are teaching. The past two days have been pretty normal days I guess. I'm getting excited for all the snow, but not for the cold. I have a good coat though so I will be ok. Oh ya, and 5 months tomorrow!!! I love you guys!! Love Mat

Monday, October 12, 2009

Book of Mormon Experience

Hi! I'm glad you all had fun at Valerie's and Tyler's with the little Ty guy. It sounds like everyone had a good week. My week was pretty good. It was a slow week because it was the last week of transfers. We got our transfer calls on Saturday, and both Elder Vailea and I are staying in the Knik Fairview area. We might be moving apartments though. We live in the Settler's Bay area and the sister's live in our area, so we might move into the sister's apartment, and the sister's are getting a new apartment. They don't really enforce the "stay in your area" rule too harshly because we don't even live in our area, and the church is in a different area. Everything in Wasilla is really spread out so we put a lot of miles on our truck, especially because we live in a different area. Well, it was supposed to snow last week, and then it got warm (in the 50's) and just rained all the time, and most of the snow in the mountains is gone. It was supposed to snow today, but it's really sunny outside, so that's not going to happen.

Well, some good things and some not so good things happened this week. We finally had a lesson with Shawn. We were having a hard time getting a lesson set up with her, but she seems like she could be pretty solid so we are hoping for the best. We had to drop one of our investigator, Amanda. She was the one that was Jehovah's Witness. Her husband is really against religion, and when we went back for our second lesson, he told us that we shouldn't ever come back. It was a bummer, but it happens. I always wonder why the Lord doesn't soften the hearts of certain people so that more people can hear the gospel. I don't always understand it, but people have their agency, and the Lord knows more than I do so I just need to keep working. I can definitely tell that the Lord prepares certain people to hear and accept the gospel, but it's findng those people that is the hard part.

Something really cool happened on Tuesday. Elder Vailea and I were kinda bummed because our appointments had fallen through, and we decided to do some tracting. I parked the truck in a park parking lot in front of some aprtments so we could tract, and there was a black guy standing in the parking lot talking on the phone. He got off the phone and we went over and talked to him. He was from the Carribbean, and was a way cool guy. He said he had talked to missionaries before, and so we talked to him about the Book of Mormon. We had him read from the introduction in the Book of Mormon, and he started to cry when he was reading. We asked him what he understood from what he read, and he told us he didn't understand very much because it takes hima couple of times reading something to understand it. So we asked him how he felt when he was reading, and he said, "It's true." It was awesome to see that evern though he didn't understand what he was reading, he could feel the influence of the Spirit bearing witness to him that the Book of Mormon was true. We talked with him a little more, and gave him the Book of Mormon and our number, and got his number. It was a pretty awesome experience, except for the fact that he said he was moving to the lower 48 this week. Haha it seems like I do a lot of sowing but not much reaping. That's fine though. As long as I give them the opportunity to hear it, it doesn't matter who sees the results. I'll wrap up for this week. I love you guys! Love Mat

Monday, October 5, 2009

Baby Ty

Ty looks so awesome! I can't believe my sister is a mom now. I really don't know what else to say except it's awesome! The attachments from Dad didn't open because the computer I guess couldn't recognize the type of file, but the one from Valerie opened. He's got tons of hair for a newborn! Ryan probably already told you that the type of hair is called Lanugo. It's down and really soft. Anyway, enough about hair. Tyler's seed will prosper under his own name.
Baby Ty - 4 days old
Well I'll tell you about my week, even though it won't be anything as exciting as Ty being born. Monday was not the most exciting P-day ever because we had to get the studded tires put on, and there were no zone activities so we just shopped a little and then took naps. I hadn't taken a nap in awhile so it was good. We had dinner that night with Jason MacDonald, one of our investigators, and we planned on teaching him more about the Word of Wisdom, but he had tons of questions about the Book of Mormon. The Bishop in the ward challenged everyone to read the Book of Mormon by the end of the year, so he is reading the whole thing and had lots of questions. He was able to hear Elder Holland's awesome talk about the Book of Mormon on Sunday so I hope that will help gain faith and a testimony in the Book of Mormon. You don't have to read the whole thing to know it's true, and I think he does know it's true. On Wednesday we tracted into a lady who has been studying with the Jehovah's Witnesses for two years, but she said she believes in finding out and reading all you can before she makes any decisions, so we gave her a Book of Mormon and taught her the first lesson the next day. She had never heard of the Book of Mormon before, and understood why we have more scripture today. She was amazed to hear that we have a prophet on the earth today, and that a prophet translated the Book of Mormon. She wanted us to tell her things Joseph Smith ahd prophesied, so we told her a couple things, but that's not how you gain faith so we didn't go into detail and tell her everything he prophesied. She said her mom told her we were a cult, but she said she knew we weren't. Her mom told her to ask us about Kolob, which was a really weird question to get in the first lesson. I didn't want to go into detail about the urim and thumim and how it's a governing planet and everything, so I just told her it's the planet closest to where God resides. She understood that it was deep and she would understand it later. Hopefully things go well with her!
I can't think of anything really exciting that happened on Friday. Saturday was awesome of course with conference. I thought it was amazing how well each conference talk flowed with the prior talk, and how each talk made important references to the Spirit and having love. Elder Bednar's talk was also awesome about not being hypocrites. One talk I really like was President Uchtdorf's in priesthood session about the importance of work. No one in my generation knows how to work and get things done, so I thought it was a good talk. People in Alaska don't work very hard either, especially because they get paid money just to live here. Not everyone, but a lot of people work shifts where they get tons of time off, like one week on one week off, or two weeks on two weeks off,and then they complain when they have to go to work. It always frustrates me to hear them complain, and I think of how hard Dad works and doesn't get any breaks and doesn't complain. Well, it was different to not watch conference with you guys and be with a bunch of missionaries instead. It was good though.
After the Saturday afternoon session, we went to an appointment we had set up Friday with a woman named Patricia. A man answered the door and said "What do you want?" looking at Elder Vailea, so Elder Vailea told him we were there to have a lesson with Patricia, and he started yelling and asked us how we got her name. He kept yelling louder and louder and said he was going to call the police and file a complaint and get us in trouble because we had a record with her name on it (he said a lot of f-words too but I'll leave those out). When he said he was going to call the police, I just looked at him and said "alright." He can call and complain all he wants, there is nothing illegal that we are doing. He said if any missionaries ever came back he would bust them in the a**, and I thought it was funny that a shrimpy looking middle aged man would say that. It's one thing to say it to a little guy like me, but when you say that to Elder Vailea, you should probably think twice. He's 240 pounds of muscle so I always feel safe haha. We didn't yell back or anything, but I really wanted to. People like that frustrate me because it's hard to imagine them ever being able to accept the gospel. There was a lot more that he said, but it would take a long time to write, and I probably shouldn't repeat it anyway haha. We had dinner with the samoan family again yesterday. They had tons of food, and sent us home with lots of it. I'm going to get so fat. I had some boiled taro, and it was pretty good. It tastes pretty bland, but it wasn't bad.Well, that's my week. Thanks so much for sending my coat! It came a couple days ago. I also found a nice coat that was in our apartment. It's not warm enough for the middle of winter, but it's perfect for fall. I love you guys and I'm excited to be an uncle. Talk to you next week! Love Mat

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Summer is Over

Valerie is having her baby in 3 days?!?!?! That is so soon! I've got butterflies right now just thinking about that. I need pics for sure asap. There's also something else I need asap before you leave for Utah por favor. It's getting really cold really fast, and most missionaires have normal coats and not the big overcoats because they look like trench coats and it can be intimidating when it's dark all the time to knock on someone's door and look like a hitman. I was going to buy a new coat here, but my Solomon snowboarding coat has kept me warm in well below zero before, and it would be a lot cheaper to ship that than to pay 200 bucks for a new coat, so I f you could send me that asap that would be awesome. Thanks! .

Alright, well I don't have a ton to write about, but I don't have much time so that's ok. On Monday we played football as a zone, and we have a big zone so it was pretty much 11 on 11 and was really fun. it started raining pretty hard when we were playing so we all got soaked and really tired. I took a nap after, and when I woke up I could hardly move I was so sore. I wish I was able to ride a bike, but there is just too much ground to cover each day, and it's getting cold so that wouldn't work. We've covered up to 130 miles in a day before in our truck, but usually it's around 60-80 miles. Today we took our truck in to get the studded tires put on because it's supposed to snow any day now here in the valley. At the beginning of the week it was still warm and in the 50's outside (haha that's warm now) and we were still wearing short sleeved shirts, but on Tuesday we woke up and the mountains were covered in snow. In one night summer and fall ended! So it's pretty cold now and Bro. Hale in our ward said the weather man predicted that it would snow today here. I don't think it will but by the end of the week we will probably have snow on the ground.

Wednesday we had Zone Conference and Elder Arnold of the First Quorum of the Seventy was there to instruct us. He is an extremely intense and bold man, and extremely inspired. He instructed us that the Book of Mormon is not used enough in missionary work, and we learned a ton. We have been using the Book of Mormon a lot more in our proselyting and the results are already a lot better. It gets people to talk to us more when we are more bold about our message and the Book of Mormon. I have a good feeling about the new twist we are taking on how we go about missionary work. We were also instructed heavily on extending committments. Again, we were told to be more bold when we extend committments, and to not be afraid of them saying no, and how to go about responding if they do say no. We are planning on extending a serious committment to our investigator Jason tonight after dinner with him and his family, and help him in whatever way we can to overcome his problem with the Word of Wisdom.Well, things are going really well, and I am learning a ton in my study and work. It's amazing how clear and focused your mind can be when you pray for the Spirit and are willing to act upon the inspiriation you're given when you study and work. I'm am grateful that I have this awesome opportunity to have these experiences I am having. Thank you for all your love and support for me. I hope everything goes well this week. I am way stoked to be an uncle!!! Love Mat

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Heavy Week

That's pretty crazy that 5 new bishops will be called. Hopefully our family will stay in the Palo Verde Ward. That would be weird for wards to change on my mission and then come back and not know anyone. That's awesome that Eric was ordained an Elder on Sunday. I was wondering if he had been ordained yet. That's also awesome that his dad was there for that. I wrote him a letter last week so he should get it soon.

Well, this week has been a really good week. On Monday we played capture the flag as a zone and had a really good time. I used my crappy shoes which was good because it was in dirt, but now my legs hurt really bad and I can't really run. The muscles are still torn. We are playing football as a zone in a about an hour so maybe I will just QB. Speaking of football, I heard BYU lost to FSU. You can't beat a team like Oklahoma and then get crushed by FSU. Normal BYU football it seems like. On Tuesday we contacted a woman named Shawn Lyle. She investigated the church a couple of years ago when there were sister missionaries here. She said she got really close to one of them, but that other ones pressured her too much to get baptized. She said she liked the sisters because she wasn't comfortable having elders in her home. She let us in, though, and we got talking to her, and I think she gained our trust a little bit. her daughter is Eskimo (adopted), and they gave us some Eskimo ice cream, but I can't remember the name. It's fruit mixed with seal oil and then frozen. They made ours with Crisco instead of seal oil, but it was still one of the grossest things I have ever eaten. It was like eating raw Crisco with berries that tasted like dead fish. Then they gave us some dried salmon called ska candy. It wasn't very good either. Natives like really gross things. Anyway, Shawn had concerns about the selecting of modern prophets so we helped her understand the process a little bit, and we are going to see her tomorrow. I think she feels comfortable around us so that's good.

Wednesday we had exchanges with our district leader. Elder Vailea went with our district leader, Elder Powell, and I went with his companion, Elder Patton. He was comps with Elder Norton right before I was, and we both think Elder Norton was awesome. It was a fun day of exchanges in the Willow area. On Thursday we had apartment inspections with th AP's and then interviews with President and Sister Dance. Interviews with President and Sister Dance are always the highlight of my entire transfer. I was a little bummed because they were really short. Usually I talk to each of them for half an hour, and one time I talked with Sister Dance for one hour and 45 minutes. I always look forward to interviews with them because they are both incredibly Christlike, and it just makes you feel awesome after you talk to them. Yesterday after church I ate with a Samoan Family, the Tuisaula's. It was my first time to eat at a Polynesian house. I ate so much food I almost exploded. Sister Tuisaula told me after I was done eating to take a break and rest my stomach, and then get more food, so I did that until I couldn't shove anymore food down and was hurting pretty bad. Then their daughters brought us dessert. Two big pieces of cake and half a plate of ice cream. I spent ten minutes trying to force it down. I feel really fat now haha. I was still feeling that dinner when I woke up this morning. We had an open house that night for nonmembers at the church and that was good. Well, we got two newinvestigators this week and we have hopes for a baptism soon! I will let you know next week how everything goes. Love Mat

Monday, September 14, 2009

Chickens and Rottweilers

Malo lele. Fe fe hake? I just said hello, how are you in Tongan. Think that's impressive? That's only the tip of the iceberg. I'm almost fluent by now. Haha no but I learn a few words every day. Anyways, on with my week. Monday wasn't a bad day. A few of us decided to go hiking up Hatcher Pass, and it was a clear day so it was pretty awesome. We had a dinner that night with a part-member family, and the husband is an investigator. We taught him about obedience and faith. He has trouble with the Word of Wisdom, but he comes to church and even has his own leather-bound quad. He came to Stake Conference yesterday. We are hoping he can start following the Word of Wisdom so that he can be baptized. Tuesday we had dinner with a less-active family, and it was good but a little awkward. They fed us chicken that they had killed themselves from their chicken coop. Good stuff! We went tracting that night like we always do, and we tracted into a guy who wanted to argue with us for awhile. He told us a bunch of garbage about how Christ isn't coming to the earth again and how Joseph Smith is a false prophet. He said he had a dvd we could have that talks about how to find the real truth. I told him I would take it, and I only did because I wanted to throw it away haha. He gave us the dvd, and I handed it to Elder Vailea, and we threw it in a dumpster down the street. One less thing to spread false doctrine. I've noticed that people here like to argue more at the door and are a little more educated about the gospel. People in the trailer parks in Valdez were very well educated, and even in the city we didn't run into too much trouble.

Wednesday we had District Meeting, and I'm still in the same district as the Valdez elders, so we hear them over the phone. It's weird to hear them give their reports on stuff I was doing there with the same people I worked with. My district leader told me I would be going on exchanges with him this week after district meeting. I'm going to tell him, Malo pe si'i fakahinohino, ka 'oku 'ikai te u lelei'ia ai. That means, "Thanks for your advice, but I don't like it." I'll just tell him that whenever he gets on my nerves haha. Thursday and Friday were extremely slow days, and not much happened. We spent most of the time trying to get in contact with all the less-actives in the ward. In our ward list, at least half of every page of members is less-actives. It's pretty crazy how many people go less active in the church. We tracted into a guy before dinner on Friday who told us that the reason he moved to Alaska was to get away from Mormonism. It was pretty funny to see his expression when he realized he can't hide from us! I'm sure there are lots of less-actives everywhere, but there are a ton up here because they move to Alaska to get away from people and things. They usually get frustrated when we try and see them.

Yesterday was our Stake Conference. It was a broadcast for all of the stakes in Washington and Alaska, and there were two seventies that spoke, who were followed by Russel M Nelson and Thomas S Monson. It was a really good Stake Conference, and it was good to hear from the Prophet and an Apostle. Russel M Nelson talked about following the prophet, and President Monson talked about helping those whose hands hang down and who have feeble knees, relating it to the lost battallion in WWI. That night we tracted. We knocked on the door of one house, and a big rotwieler(?) started barking and freaking out at the door. I could tell nobody was home, but the dog started to open the door! I could tell it wanted to eat me, so I held the handle at the door haha. I thought it might be a person trying to open the door to talk to us, so I let go, and the stupid dog opend the door to get out, so I grabbed the door before it could and shut it haha. I wanted to leave, but I thought the dog was going to get out if I let go of the door, but I let go anyway and we walked away. The dog didn't try to open the door again. The last thing I need is to get attacked by a stupid dog. I've heard lots of stories from missionaries who got bit, like Elder Norton. You can tell when a dog wants to eat you though, because the hair on their back will stand up straight, and that's when you know you should probably leave haha. Well that's my week!I love you guys and sorry about the short email last week. Seeya!

Love Mat

Monday, September 7, 2009

Short but Sweet

Hey Family! I just tried to send an email and it froze up and deleted so sorry. I don't have much time because I'm emailing at a member's house and we are about to have dinner. Everywhere we would normally email is closed because it's a holiday. I am doing great here in Wasilla in the Knik Fairview area. We hiked up Hatcher's Pass today for P Day and that was fun. Elder Vailea is an awesome missionary and a hard worker. We have lots of fun and work hard, and he is teaching me some Tongan so that's cool. Well I need to go. I love you guys!!! I will send a more extensive email next week. Love Mat

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Transfer 3 Area 2

Hey everyone! Transfer calls were Saturday and Valdez won't be my home anymore. I'm pretty sad about it. President Dance called Saturday for transfer calls, and he had me put it on speaker phone, so Elder Wood and I thought that either it was going to close, or both of us would stay. He told Elder Wood he would be training a new greenie. That's 3 in a row in Valdez. Pretty unusual for a bush area. He is pretty nervous for that. President Dance told me I am going to Wasilla to the Knik Fairview ward (you pronounce the K in Knik). I am serving with a big Tongan guy named Elder Vailea. I think we will get along, but I want to work hard and be obedient, and have lots of fun at the same time. We'll see how that goes. I will be the designated driver because they don't even bother having the Polynesians get licenses because of all the paper work. And I'll be driving a truck so that's awesome! I've heard it's a great area though so I'm excited for that. I really didn't want to leave Valdez. Most elders stay 3 to 4 transfers in Valdez, but both me and Elder Norton only stayed two each. It was really hard to leave everything, especially the members. I was pretty spoiled having Valdez as my greenie area. I'm used to having huge mountains basically right outside my door and all around me, and Wasilla is more of a valley so it's a lot more open. At least I can dry clean my suits now. I've been wearing my suits for three months without washing them. And I'm not sure how, but I gained 20 pounds of luggage in Valdez, and ripped the handle off my big suitcase because it weighed 70 pounds. I was pretty mad about it.

Valdez will hopefully be good for Elder Wood and his new greenie this transfer. We have found a couple people we are trying to teach, and just got a really good refferal from the Zone leaders in Juneau, so hopefully Valdez will pick up. The first three weeks with Elder Wood were a little tough, but the last three weeks were awesome. He was a good companion and we had a lot of fun. I told the members in Valdez that I would be back, and I really want to be sent back to Valdez again before I come home. If they close the area for awhile I would love to be able to open it. Anyways, Elder Wood and I had to give talks on Sunday, and it went pretty well. I talked on Baptism and he talked on the Holy Ghost. I was also able to teach both the 2nd and 3rd discussions this week. We taught them to members, because it's a slow area, but at least I got to teach them. We also went fishing on Monday, but we didn't catch anything. They were jumping just outside our reach from the shore. They are big fish. We had to hike a little bit to get to the spot where we were told to fish by members, and it was right next to a person's cabin on some rocks. It was private property so we knocked to ask if we could fish there and no one answered so we just fished. They got home while we were fishing, so we had to ninja our way through the forest and find the trail again to get out without being caught.

Being a missionary is awesome. Well, have a good week and hopefully I will have good news in my email next week! Thanks for the shoes! They are awesome and they fit prefect. I was basically a baller on the court with them. And thanks for the hand grip thing too. I'm going to have a gorilla grip when I get home. I'm really sory but I don't know if I will be able to write letters this week. I can only write today, and with transfers I'm not sure how much time I will have. And who knows if I can email next week because of Labor Day, but we'll see. I love you guys and hope everything is going well at home! Love Mat

Friday, August 28, 2009

Pictures! Valdez part 2






Elder Squires and Elder Norton





I don't even want to know.





I don't even want to know about this either.


Zone Conference



Elder Wood and Elder Squires

Monday, August 24, 2009

Fastest Slowest Week

Hey Family! This week was the fastest slow week ever! P-day was really lame because the silvers weren't in yet and it was really rainy all day so we kind of just bummed around. Boring! Tuesday was an interesting day. We had a lesson with Amanda, and it had been a couple weeks since the first discussion so we watched the Restoration with her (the 19 min one). Some friends came over right as the movie started and dropped one of their kids off for her to babysit, so that interrupted the first 5 minutes of the video, and the kids were running around screaming so it was a little distracting. After the movie was over, we started talking to her about what she thought and if she had any questions, and a saleswoman came to the door with cleaning supplies. She was way too hyper and really annoying, and came in and cleaned like five things to show why her product is so great. It was a big long demonstration, and she didn't mind that she was interrupting anything so we waited. When she finally left we talked for a little bit and the rest was ok. We won't be able to teach her again for a couple weeks because of her schedule but hopefully she can progress and keep her commitments. She had kept her previous commitments so that was a good thing.

Wednesday was a really good and disappointing day. We taught a kid named Adam who is around my age. We went with this girl that is a member that is his friend, and the lesson went really really well. We could tell the Spirit was there, and he had kind of been introduced to the gospel already by the members here his age. He has been to church a couple times with his member roommate at his college in Arizona, so it was fun and exciting to teach him. So why would this be disappointing, right? Well after the lesson he said that he was leaving for college in Arizona the next day! Both me and Elder Wood were positive that he could have gotten baptized if we had a few more weeks with him, so we were a little bummed that our first really promising investigator was leaving the next day, before he could really ever be an investigator. He said he would get in contact with the missionaries there, and the member that went with us will help with that, so hopefully the elders there can meet up with him. We weren't able to reap the fruits of our labors, but it is just as important to be the sower.

Well, that's about it for this week. I hope you are all doing well! I am still loving Valdez! Love Mat

Monday, August 17, 2009

Service for the week: Tree Cutting

This week was a pretty interesting week, not super exciting but still a good week. The past few days it has rained harder than I've seen it here and constant like normal. The days are getting darker as well. Instead of never getting dark, it gets dark a little after 10 30 when we go to bed. Monday was the most boring p-day so far. We played a little tennis and drove to a glacier, but we couldn't fish because the silvers aren't in yet. Wednesday Elder Wood and I spent the entire day up in the mountains with Bro. Christensen cutting down trees for firewood. It was tough work but I like tough work so it was fun. I was pretty sore the next day. Lifting weights doesn't work you the same as hard physical labor. We would cut down the trees, de-limb them, and then drag them out of the forest with a 4-wheeler. Then we would pick them up by hand and load them into a big trailer. I think we got like 3 cords of wood, which is a lot. It took from 8 AM to 6 PM. It was good to have some service.

Tuesday we had another appointmet with Amanda but she wasn't home so another one fell through. We are working hard, people just aren't interested. Elder Wood thinks that we will be the last elders here before they close the area. Maybe they will open it before I go home and I can help in that since I know the area. We'll see. Friday we ate at a less-active's house--the one whose house smells like ammonia because of the dog, and it was tough to get the food down. I didn't feel good that night. Well I have to get off. Sorry this wasn't very detailed. We usually don't have this time limit but we are using different computers. I love you guys!!! Love Mat

Monday, August 10, 2009

A Good Week

Hey! This week has been a good week! Slow of course but good. Monday Elder Wood and I hiked with a couple of members to Gold Creek so that was good. Not much else that day. Tuesday we had a teaching appointment with Marissa (our investigators aren't sisters) and we took two returned missionary sisters with us as our members. So basically we had 4 missionaries there to teach her. I bet you're wondering how the lesson went. If the lesson would have happened I'm sure it would have been great. Another lesson fell through. Our investigator is native (Inuit) which means they are flaky so she wasn't even home. We got in contact with her the other day though and she said maybe in a couple weeks. So frustrating! We were a little disappointed by that. That day we helped the two sisters pour concrete for the foundation of a house their dad rents to people. Their mom and dad are not members so it was a good opportunity for service and show them we are normal people and want to help. We had dinner with them after and I shared a spiritual thought with them afterward. the daughters told me their mom gets defensive when you mention Jesus Christ so to try not to mention Him. I gave the thought on how you can show faith through prayer and develop stronger faith through prayer, and I didn't realize how hard it was to not mention Jesus Christ when you're teaching His gospel! There were a couple times when I wanted to mention Him, but had to find a way around it. The sisters said it was perfect for the parents so hopefully their hearts can be softened by the Spirit. Wednseday we had another teaching appointment with our other investigator, Amanda. We took a Hawaiian member with us to fellowship her, and when we got to the door Amanda said she was busy and it wasn't a good time. Two days in a row that lessons fell through! The only two investigators we have keep flaking out. I still haven't had an opportunity to teach Lesson 2 yet. Every time I re-study the lesson and prepare to teach it, the lesson falls through. It's hard keep studying for a specific person and then get turned down, but I guess when I finally get to teach Lesson 2 I'll be a pro because I will have studied it so much.

After our lesson fell through, Elder Wood and I drove up to Wasilla for Zone Conference. We spent the night with the Cottonwood elders, and the next morning we had Zone Conference from 8 AM til about 4 PM. It's so awesome to be around other missionaries! We are a 5 hour drive away from the nearest set of elders so I never get to talk with other missionaries hardly ever. Most elders serve really close to others missionaries, but we are isolated in Valdez and have to have our meetings over the phone instead of in person like most missionaries. Anyways, Zone Conference was awesome. Talk about spiritual nourishment! Last Zone conference Elder Norton and I had to sit in our apartment from 8 to 4 and listen over the phone, and we couldn't hear much of anything, and sometimes they show clips of movies, so we were kind of left out. Being able to be around other missionaries and hear from the AP's and President and Sister Dance is really awesome. Interviews with Pres. and Sister Dance after were awesome as usual. Sister Dance can stare into your soul. A lot of times when you say something or she is feeling the Spirit, she will stare into your eyes for what seems like a long time, and you know she can see into your soul. I also witnessed President Dance receive revelation in our interview. We kneeled down after and he said the prayer, and as we were standing up after he said it occurred to him while he was praying that we need to focus on getting the members to invite instead of just opening their mouths about the gospel. It was amazing because it was something Elder Wood and I had been discussing for awhile. He really is close to the Lord and receives revelation and inspiration for the entire mission.

Well, we are back now in Valdez and it is foggy and colder today. We are going to play some tennis or raquetball and maybe try to catch some silvers. I don't think the silvers have made it close enough to catch them from the docks yet but we'll try. Probably won't be sending home fish this week. Hopefully next week! Yesterday was the women's fish derby, fishing for silvers, and we saw some pretty big fish come in. A couple 18 pounders won the derby. I can't wait to get an 18 pound salmon on the line! Well I need to get going but I love you guys! Have a good week! ----Oh ya, I got pooped on by a seagull the other day. It hit the guy next to me, and did kind of what happened in that Seinfeld episode where the spit hit Kramer and then turned a corner and somehow hit Newman to the side of him. The guy next to me got hit, and the poop bounced off, turned a corner, changed directions, and ended up on my shoe and pants. Good thing there isn't any dry cleaning here. (put that on the blogspot) (watch that Seinfeld episode to see what it was like)

Love Mat

PS- Mom I didn't get the package yet but hopefully it will be here today. I'll let you know if I ever need anything.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Transfer 2, Week 3

Hey! I'm emailing a little later today because we decided to go on a hike today with a couple members from Utah that are here working for the summer. It was the Shoup Bay Trail that we went on. It was pretty awesome. I only got a few pictures because a lot of it was walking through high brush, but we hiked to a pretty big waterfall, and Elder Wood and I went really high up the side of the mountain and were looking down onto this big waterfall. It was pretty sweet. It was good to get out and do something more physical than fishing for once. The Silvers aren't in yet and the pinks are are all spawning and getting big humps and dying off, so they aren't that great to eat anymore, even though they aren't in the first place. It stinks that most of what you guys eat in restaurants is pink salmon. I've had Red Salmon from the Copper river, and supposedly they are the best, but I've heard that Kings and Silvers are great too. They are all better than pinks. It might be a few weeks before I can catch some to send home because they haven't made it into the harbor yet. I'll keep you guys posted.

Well, this week was still slow, but we have one new investigator, and one from the week before, so we are teaching two people right now. They are two women; Marissa and Amanda. We have only taught them each the first discussion, and have appointments to teach both of them the second discussion (the Plan of Savlation) this week on Tuesday and Wednesday. I'm excited because I haven't been able to teach the second discussion to anyone yet besides role playing with my companion and in the MTC. I didn't think I would go one and a half transfers without teaching anyone the second discussion, but it's just that slow here. I think things will pick up a little though this week and next week so let's hope. We have been working with a less-active member lately. His name is Bro. Warren, and I think I have mentioned him before. He was baptized about a year and a half ago, and right before him and his wife were about to go to the temple to be sealed his wife died. He then got offended by some members and went less-active. We had a really awesome lesson with him last night. He opened up a little when we asked him about his conversion story, and he said that his home teachers have started to visit him again too. He said he is ready to take a step back and get his life back in order. He even showed us the pictures of him and his wife when they were baptized together as we were leaving. He was going to move and live with his daughter at the end of the month, but something happened and now he is moving to Washington. I think he feels kind of alone and unwanted, and he said he doesn't want to leave Alaska but he is moving to start over his life. He isn't moving until next May now. I think Heavenly Father did that for a reason, because I had been worried that if he moved at the end of this month, we wouldn't be able to work with him and help him become active again. Now we can spend time working with him and he can apply the Atonement and become active before he moves. I think the hardships he's been going through with finding a place to move to will actually turn out to be a blessing.

So last Monday I told you that our Branch Mission Leader and Assistant Branch Mission Leader were released, and yesterday a new one was called. It confirmed my worst fears of who it could be. He is one of the garbage men here, and was baptized like 5 or 6 years ago. He's been the Melchezidek Priesthood group leader for the last 5 years. He has 8 kids that are obsessed with Pokemon, and jump all over us when we eat dinner at their house. He is still very overweight, but has lost over 120 pounds in the last year, and his wife is big too. He is very eccentric about his gospel beliefs and pretty much everything else too. He honestly is planning to set up his daughters with a Missionary serving in Valdez when they turn like 12 or something. Good thing the oldest one is 6 so I don't have to deal with it. Too bad for the missionary that serves here in 6 years haha. He thinks that eating corn is against the Word of Wisdom, and when I suggested hot chocolate for an activity he told me that he doesn't drink it because it's also against the Word of Wisdom because it is a "hot drink." I've heard from other missionaries that have served here that when they have taken him to lessons he starts teaching false doctrine about the W of W so they have to kind of stop the lesson and correct him. He's a good guy though, and he is very sincere in what he does. We will defintiely get a lot done because he takes his calling very seriously, but we just won't have as much fun as we did with our last mission leader. Oh well. I'm not complaining, because he is always really nice to the elders and serious about the church, I'm just informing you of the circumstance.

We have Zone Conference this week, and a couple lessons with investigators so it should be a busy week. My memory card in my camera is full so I'll need you to send back my other one please so I can send you this one. Mom tell Lindsey and Lane that I'm still waiting for the package they promised to send me. I love you guys! Love Mat

Monday, July 27, 2009

Elder Wood, a Bird Man, and more salmon

What's up family?!It's been an alright week so far. As you know we had transfers on Monday, and I drove back from Palmer with Elder Wood. We didn't get to leave Palmer until about 5:30, and we stopped to have dinner with Elder and Sister Hintze in Glenn Allen so we didn't get back until about 11:30, and didn't get to bed until a little after 12. It was extremely foggy and misty coming into town, and Elder Wood thought we were going to drive straight into the ocean because he hadn't been on the road before. That night was the first time I have seen Valdez get kind of dark because it was later and foggy. It's always light! Elder Wood is a good kid. He has been out for a year, and has served in Sitka, Eagle River, and Fairbanks. We don't really connect the same as Elder Norton and I did, so it will take some time to become close. He doesn't have the same sense of humor like me and Elder Norton did. He is from Alamo Nevada, which is 100 miles north of Las Vegas, so we can relate a little bit there. He is obedient and he has a good work ethic and wants to work hard, so I'm expecting good results from this transfer.

The Chief of Police here is a member, and he owns an ice cream shop that is the best in town, so we asked him if we could put a card stand up at the window with pass along cards for people to take, and he let us. People have been taking them, so hopefully that will help find people and plant seeds. We have also received some referrals from members that we are going to contact this week, so the work is moving forward! Yesterday we contaced the "bird man" in town. He is a falconer, and I've knocked on his door before, but he didn't answer the first time. Elder Wood knew someone in Sitka that wanted him to see him, so we went over and talked with him in his house. He brought out a young red tail hawk that was still getting rid of some fluff but had mostly feathers. It wasn't full grown, but it was still a big bird. He cut up a dead quail with scissors and fed it to the hawk in front of us. We sat down with him and started to discuss things with him, and the hawk jump/flew over and landed on me three times. It was getting annoying so I moved and he moved the bird. Anyway, the guy's name is David, and we taked to him for about an hour, and he drew out a scientific method on a piece of paper and showed us how religion isn't valid because it can't be proved, and that we base it purely on belief and not fact. He has talked to missionaries before, but Elder Wood and I talked to him about walking by faith and not by sight, and brought up Alma 30 when Korihor wants a sign that God is real and Alma rebukes him and says that he has had signs enough. We talked to him about the Spirit and prayer. He was a nice guy, and listened to what we had to say, and said that he prays every day and wants to believe in a God or higher power but can't be convinced because it doesn't follow the pattern of evolution and time and can't be proved with science. Hopefully he will come around.

Well, I forgot to tell you about Melissa and Brandon; the brother and sister we had on date for baptism. The were on date, but their mom is against the church and wouldn't let them be baptized. We can't go behind parents' backs, so we had to drop them as investigators and not teach them anymore. It was a bummer, and Elder Norton and I got a little down about it, but we kept working. We kind of have one investigator now so we'll see how that goes. Other than that it's all about having the faith to find someone new to teach. We will also be working with som less actives. There are two right now that are kind of priorities so we are trying to build them up and get them back to church. One was offended by missionaries early in the year, and was a recent convert. The other was also recently baptized, but his wife died right before they were about to go to the temple, and then he got offended by some members so he went less active. People can really get offended easily. Well, I am about to go help this guy move some stuff for his work, and then Me and Elder Wood are going to catch some pinks so I better go. Oh ya...the silver salmon will be coming in in a week or two, and I was wondering if you would want me to send home some fresh Salmon filets from salmon that I catch myself. They flash freeze it and ship it here, but it is pricey. I think for 10 pounds of meat it would cost a little over $100, but for every ten pounds of meat added it costs less and becomes more economical. Just something I thought I'd offer if you guys want silver salmon. Supposedly what you eat in the lower 48 is pink salmon because people here think they taste the worst, and they do, so they send them to the lower 48. Let me know! I love you guys! Love Mat

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pictures!

The newly arrived missionaries in front of the Anchorage Temple, June 2009.



Mat's apartment in Valdez.



Tim Johnson was baptized by Brother Bradshaw and Mat and Elder Norton were the witnesses.

Fishing and catching pink salmon on P-day

According to Mat, Elder Norton did not love touching the fish!


Ready to cook.



Dinner!



Monday, July 20, 2009

Transfers

Hola! Well mom I know that you are in Utah so I won't write a whole lot this week, and I don't have much to write about because not much has been going on. It's not that I don't want to write longer emails, there just hasn't been much to talk about lately. We still aren't teaching anybody. It's been hard having no one to teach, but I think I need to go back and study the lessons again so I will be more prepared when the opportunity comes. Well I am in an area called Willow right now in the library. Elder Norton and I stayed with Elders Anfinsen and Patton last night and we are having transfers today. Elder Norton is being transferred to Anchorage and I am staying in Valdez. My new companion will be Elder Wood. Tim Johnson, the guy that got baptized here, received the priesthood and was ordained a priest the other day. I was able to stand in and help in doing that. We were also excited because this week he started paying his tithing, and he doesn't have much money to spare, but I know he will be blessed. It is amazing to see the blessings people receive by being a part of the gospel and this church. I am going to continue to do my best and work harder every day. I love you guys and I'm thankful for the examples you have set for me and the support you give me. Love Mat

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Fishing - Some days you don't catch anything

Hi family! Well this week was alright. It's really slow right now here. We don't have any investigators right now so it's kind of a bummer. We can't find anyone that is interested. Almost every single person we talk to has had the lessons with the missionaries before. It's a small community and missionaries have been here for years and years so everyone has been tracted into. We are almost done tracting the entire city. Well, Elder Norton has done some that I haven't, but the city is so small that I think if we tracted the entire day for a week we could get to every door. We only tract around dinner time when people are home, and then we usually interrupt them from dinner and wake some people up that work weird shifts. They don't like to be woken up. President Dance likes the area though, so it will stay open for now. He receives more inspiration than we do so there must be someone waiting to hear the gospel from us.

On Monday we went fishing over at Allison Point. The fish weren't biting very well for us so we didn't catch many. I had one on the hook but it fell off the hook right after it hit land on the shore and it flopped back into the water before I could hit it over the head with the club. The next one I pulled in got off the hook right before I pulled it to land, so I figured I probably wasn't snagging the hook in the fish's mouth hard enough, so the next one I snagged a little harder and brought it in to shore. Elder Norton killed it with the club and I filleted the meat for my first time. I didn't do too bad. Elder Norton only caught one fish, and I killed that one. He is afraid to touch fish haha so I had to filet the meat after I forced him to get a picture holding it. We cooked fresh Salmon for lunch when we got back and it was great! Everyone says that Red Salmon is the best and pinks are the worst but we had Red Salmon the day before and they weren't as good as the pinks we caught. But then again, I'm a master at cooking meat so of course it tasted better haha. We are going fishing again today in little bit so hopefully we can bring in a lot more fish.

We started biking a little bit this week. We obtained some bikes and helmets from members, and it's finally been warm and sunny so we biked a few times this week. Elder Norton's bike had a messed up tire, and it popped when he went over a curb, so we had to walk home from the post office. We're kind of on hold with bikes until we get a new tire. We got the tube replaced, but it's the tire that is messed up. This week is my "senior week" so I'm driving and leading the planning sessions and what not. It's an old thing they used to do with the last mission president, but the Zone Leaders thought it would be a good idea and Elder Norton is tired of driving so now it's my turn. I get to see a lot of cool things here, but there is also a lot of disappointment. Valdez is one of the slowest areas in the mission, and it can be really discouraging at times. It's hard to not have anyone to teach. Most people have problems with our doctrine when we talk to them at their doors, and we tell them we can resolve them, but they don't want to hear what we have to say. A lot of people say that they have already read and prayed about the Book of Mormon and got the answer that it wasn't true, so it's really frustrating. It's frustrating to know that they believe their answer is truly from God so they won't listen and don't care what we have to say. I don't have a whole lot of stories this week because we aren't working with anyone. We were able to teach a couple lessons at the door, which is interesting, but hard because there is so much important information you want to give them and it's difficult to condense what you have to say into something sincere and powerful in only a few minutes. Valdez is a really cool place but there are very few people who want to talk to us, and even fewer that actually want to hear what we have to say, and we haven't found them yet, so pray for us and the people in Valdez so we can find someone to teach! I love you guys and hope everything goes well at home! Love Mat

Monday, July 6, 2009

PLEASE don't feed the bears!

Hey family! This week wasn't quite as eventful as the others, and the work this week was really slow, but I still had some good experiences. President and Sister Dance didn't get in until night on the 4th so we didn't see them until Sunday. The 4th was a hard day. I missed you guys a lot. There were a lot of people in town, and so Elder Norton and I walked through town around all the celebrations so that the people could see us out and about and hopefully talk to us. We didn't think it was the best idea to try and talk to people in the middle of town with a fair going on and them enjoying time with their families, so we drove to Allison Point where we fish so we could try and talk to people there and see how the fishing was.

President and Sister Dance got in Saturday night and we spent Sunday with them. They are really amazing people. It took I think three full hours to get our interviews done with them, but it was good to see other people from the mission, especially the Mission President and his wife. We don't see other missionaries as often as most do in Alaska because we are more remote and harder to get to. We thought that President Dance might close Valdez because it is so slow, and everyone here has been tracted in to and talked to multiple times because the town is so small, but he thinks Valdez is an amazing place and that more work can be done. I think I will definitely be here next transfer, but we will see about Elder Norton. In my interview, President told me to go where the fishermen and the boats are, so I told that to Elder Norton and I think we will do that more now. Anyways, now on to the good stuff. This week was definitely a bear watching week. The Pink Salmon just got in a few days ago, so the bears are in. We decided to drive to Allison point to check out the fishing on Tuesday, and on the way we saw a big grizzly bear in the grass by the mountains off the side of the road. We stopped to take some pictures, and just so I can scare you on how close we got to it, I'll include some pictures in the email. At one point, we were only about 10-15 yards from the bear. It was AWESOME! There was a ridge between us and the bear, so it wasn't too bad, but my heart was definitely pumping faster haha. I know missionaries tend to not tell their families about these kind of things but what's the fun in that? I didn't think I would ever get that close to a bear, but it was so worth it! That's just how hardcore Alaska missionaries are, or at least the ones in Valdez.



We have been searching for people to teach, but it's been harder and slower. We have been tracting in town and the people have more money and are less receptive. We tracted into one lady that has Native American background, and said that one of the stories her forefathers told her was that a man who came back from the dead visited her people and spoke to them. I showed her John 10:16, and we are having her read 3 Nephi 11. She really connected with the fact that the Book of Mormon talks about what her forefathers told in stories. Hopefully we can teach her more. Well that's about it for this week. I'm positive that next time I will have more things to write about because we are going to try extra hard this week. I love you guys!

Love MAT