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Monday, June 29, 2009

Fish and Baptisms

Hello Familia! Mom I'm glad your talk went well. I'm sure you did a great job. Thanks for sending the backpack, pillow, memory card, and hymn book. I didn't get them yet, but hopefully they get in today. I have a hymn book in a storage box I think and I was going to ask you to send it but this works too haha. I'm good on blankets. The members here are awesome so I'm good. Oh and about the bears, they should be careful around me! But I think we are done tracting the most dangerous parts so don't worry. As long as we make noise when we walk they shouldn't bother us, and usually you just have to watch for the seagulls. Whenever there is a bear there are seagulls flying around it.

I didn't have any crazy encounters with the wildlife this week, but it was still a good week. We had a lot of doors slammed in our faces this week. We started tracting in town and the people are a lot more stubborn and resistive towards the Church. Everyone here has either talked to the missionaries before or has member friends they have talked to, and they all like to tell us why they think our church is wrong. The town is so small that everyone has been tracted into multiple times. That doesn't mean there aren't people to baptize though! On Saturday Elder Norton and I put two people on date for baptism! Melissa and Brandon Beem are on date for July 11th to be baptized. We tracted into her, and then realized her brother had been coming to church with a member family for quite some time. It was her second lesson with us, but it was Brandon's first when we committed them for baptism. The Spirit was really strong, and Elder Norton prepped the situation so that I could commit both of them, and they accepted without hesitation. The only problem is that they are minors, so they need approval from their parents to be baptized. Their mom or dad used to be Mormon and fell away, so we are praying that they will allow their kids to be baptized. We are meeting with them on Tuesday so we'll see how it goes.

Elder Norton and I went and walked the harbor the other night to try and talk to some people and just get ourselves seen by everyone. We went around 8:15 when some of the charter boats had come in with all their catches. We stopped and talked to these two guys who had just got done fishing and we talked to them while the boat captain filleted their halibut and rockfish. They weren't too receptive at first because its obvious that we are missionaries, and we didn't talk to them about the gospel, but we got to know them a little and it was good. The rule for halibut is two per person, and both of them had caught a couple 80-90 pound halibut. They were huge, and it was awesome to see the captain fillet all the meat off. I've been told that the 50-70 pounders taste the best, and some people like rockfish a lot better than halibut, and they're pretty much just as ugly looking. There is a man here that holds the Guiness World Record for fastest time to fillet a fish. I think it's like 1.3 seconds, which is pretty amazing, because to fillet the fish they have to put the knife in just behind the gills, slice along the spine to the tail, and then do it on the other side. I think we'll spend more time at the harbor to try and get the message out because tracting is really inneffective, and getting doors slammed in your face and people trying to argue with you doesn't feel very good.

Not a whole lot more has happened this week. President Dance and his wife are coming to Valdez on the 4th of July, and will take us to dinner and then go to church with us the next day. I don't think either of them have been to Valdez before so it will be cool. I asked Elder Norton if they did fireworks here on the 4th, and he had to remind me that it gets dark after midnight and gets light before 4 haha. They would do fireworks but you can't see them. Well I hope you all have a good week, and hopefully my letters get to you before the post office closes for the 4th. Love you guys!

Love, Mat

Monday, June 22, 2009

Bears in the Backyard

Hey family! I've been out for over a month now! It has been great, and Alaska is amazing. I have had a really awesome week! Tuesday Elder Norton and I had an appointment with a 15 year old girl named Melissa, who we tracted into. We taught her the first half of the first discussion because she said that she had carbon monoxide poisoning a little while ago, which was basically a death sentence, but she survived, and said she knew it was because God loved her. That is the first principle we teach so it was perfect! We only taght her the first half because she said the experience made her memory not too good. We also met with her on Friday to teach the rest of the lesson, and she came to church on Sunday! She lives in the South Central trailer park, which Elder Norton and I finished tracting yesterday. Her brother is living with some members, and he is asking us to give him the lessons too. We didn't know they were brother and sister when we tracted into her. On Friday we had Zone conference, but it's a 5 hour drive to Wasilla where they had it, and we had a baptism that night for Tim Johnson, so we had to do zone conference over the phone. It went from about 8:30 AM til about 4 PM over the phone, and we couldn't hear too well at times, but it was the best we could do. Tim's baptism was at 7 PM that night, and it was really cool. The Bradshaw family fellowshipped him so Brother Bradshaw did the baptizing, and Elder Norton and I were witnesses. We ate at an Asian restaurant called Mai Thai after, and it was alright.

Saturday we did some service for members, because there isn't much else to do during the day. People have crazy work schedules here, and most people aren't home til 6. In the evening we had freshly caught halibut with a member family, but they put so much salt and mayo on it I couldn't even taste the fish. We went to our ward mission leader's house (Bro. Christensen) after for shrimp he caught himself. How he cooks them is amazing. He marinades them, and then grills them with the shells and legs on, and then when you eat them, you peel some of the shell and the legs off, and then pull out the meat. We went there because he had invited a family over for the discussions! He fixed this guy's boat, and when he asked how he could pay him back, Bro. Christensen said he could by coming over for shrimp and a lesson with the missionaries and they agreed. The non-member husband is from South America, and the wife is a doctor at the small hospital here. It went well, and hopefully we can teach them again. Also on Saturday we moved firewood for the assistant ward mission leader. It was a good workout. They were big heavy logs, and it took 2 loads in an overloaded F350 to get it all done.

Yesterday, Sunday, was definitely the most eventful day. After church, Elder Norton and I went back to the apartment for lunch and to rest for a little bit, and then tried to visit with less-actives. When that didn't work, we went over to the assistant ward mission leader's house for dinner. So it's not eventful yet but just wait. After dinner, Elder Norton and I drove to the South Central trailer park to finish tracting it. We had the usual--doors closed in our face and people mad at us for interrupting dinner and whatever they were doing. We got to about the last trailer home, and a kid answered the door, so we asked him if we could tak to his parents. His dad came out, and said that he wasn't interested because he was a Wicken. As he closed the door Elder Norton asked what they believe in, and he told us it is witchcraft. He said they believe in nature, and they have 255 gods. He really wanted to argue with us, and tell how much we were wrong in our beliefs. He said he had read the Bible 7 times, and had been a youth pastor. He was definitely one of the most, if not the most evil man I have ever come in contact with. We talked with him for about 20 minutes, and he told us that he was more loving than God because he doesn't put his children through trials, and tried to convince us that God is just as sadistic as Satan because he wants everyone to worship him. Long story short, we talked to him, and I think stumped him a couple times. He reads a book called the Q, which is supposedly older than the Bible, and where much of the Bible was taken from. He said he does not believe in God, Jesus Christ , or the Holy Ghost, but he also told us that the entire book of James was taken from the Q. So I asked him how he could deny the reality of Jesus Christ if he believes the book of Q and it has an entire book about Jesus Christ. He stumbled over his answer, and I felt good. It was crazy. After the witch guy, I felt somewhat discouraged, and we left the trailer park and started driving back into town. It was raining hard the whole time. We stopped on the side of the road to decide what to do, and I offered a prayer. I got the feeling that we should keep tracting even though we were going to go back into town, and even though it was raining hard, so we parked the car at a member's house, and started tracting houses that were pretty far apart. No one was interested, and as we walked up to one house, a big dog started barking and running at us, we just turned around and slowly walked away hoping that it wouldn't attack us. I was afraid of it, and my companion has been bitten so he was afraid too. It got close to us but stopped and we walked away. We kept walking down the road stopping by some streams that led into the ocean, and then on to another house. We went to the front door in the back of the house and knocked, and a really nice lady came out and asked us if we knew that there were bears behind her house! She showed us where, and sure enough, there was a huge male grizzly bear about 100 yards away. She brought out her binoculars to get a better look, and it was amazing! The bear looked right at me and stared for a minute and then kept grazing. She said she wasn't interested in our message, but offered to give us a ride to our car so we wouldn't get attacked. She drove us out to a spot to see the bear up close, but we couldn't see it. She said there were two. I had wanted to see a bear really badly, and we needed something to cheer us up, and that was awesome. I know that we were guided by the Spirit because if she would have just said she wasn't interested, we would have kept walking down the road and could have run into a huge grizzly bear. The Spirit kept us safe that entire evening, and I was so happy I saw a bear finally, and that it was a big male grizzly. The silver salmon will be in soon, so the bears are definitely going to start coming out. It's awesome! I love you guys! Love, Mat

Monday, June 15, 2009


Hey family! I'm in Alaska right now and it's my first p-day. Monday is my p-day here. The past half-week has been some of the craziest days of my life! I flew to Anchorage on Wednesday and met President Dance and his wife. They told me they talked to you, Dad. That's awesome. President Dance is a really nice guy, and his wife is really hyper and passionate about missionary work. She sounds like the mom on the Incredibles. She is a great cook and I'm pretty sure I gained like 5 pounds in two days. The average weight gain for missionaries here is 40 pounds according to sister Dance. That's insane poundage! I won't let that happen to me. We do our own thing for breakfast and lunch, but we get fed every night, and there are some amazing cooks here. So I bet you're all dying to here where I ended up, right?! Well Thursday morning at the mission home all the new missionaries gathered in a room at the top of the stairs while our trainers came inside and waited at the bottom of the stairs. It was really suspenseful and when I was introduced and went down the stairs, my trainer grabbed me off the stairs and swung me around because he's a lot taller than me, but then again who isn't. The trainers all did something for their greenies because here they refer to your trainer as your dad and you're his son, so my trainer, Elder Norton, had bought a baby bib that said 'I Love Daddy' and made me wear it for pictures. It was pretty funny. Well, out of the 8 new elders in our group, only two were going to be called to a location other than Anchorage, and we didn't get to find out until we met our trainer. The other elder went to Fairbanks, and I was really suprised to find out that I would be giong to Valdez! (said Val-deez) It is a six hour drive southwest from Anchorage, and was the most amazing drive I've ever been on. I saw so many glaciers! Valdez is a very small town of only about 3,000. It's in the Prince Willima Sound, and there aren't really any moose here, but there are tons of eagles, whales, and bears! There are supposed to be a ton of bears here in Valdez. Mostly black bears on the side I live on, and some grizzlies on the other side of the Valdez port. I haven't seen any yet, but I've seen so many bald eagles! They just fly around above you in the trees, and we saw one from a telescope in a members home feeding a seagull to her babies in their nest in a tree. Valdez is where the Alaska Pipeline ends, and we got to drive by it on the way to Valdez from Anchorage. There are big oil tanks here where the oil is collected and then shipped out. It's a small town and Elder Norton said we will most likely tract the entire thing. Missionaries are usually here for more than one transfer, but not always so we will see. Everyone said I am spoiled because Valdez is supposedly the most beautiful place in the mission and I get to start here. Sister Dance also said it's a high trust mission, because like me and Elder Norton, we are at least 130 miles from the nearest missionaries, and it is a senior couple in Glenn Allen, which we passed on our way to Valdez on the Richardson Highway. We have a phone like all the missionaries here so we can be in better contact with everyone. I'm also spoiled because I'm walking into a baptism! Tim is an investigator who has a baptismal date set up for this Friday, and Elder Norton and I will be witnesses. We have to miss zone conference because it is the same day, and we don't have time to do both with a 5 hour drive to Wasilla, so we will stay here and participate in Zone conference via a poly com. It doesn't get as cold here in Valdez, but it doesn't get as warm either. It's rained everyday, and I had to buy a waterproof jacket. We get an average of like 350 inches of snow here in Valdez, and it usually starts snowing in October, so we'll see if I am still here by then. It's only in the 40's and 50's here in the day so it's already a change. I miss you guys a ton! I think about you every day but I am still working hard. I love you guys! Love, Mat

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Mat's MTC Experience in Pictures

Mat and the elders in his MTC district.

Mat sent us pictures and a letter just before he left the MTC. Here's an excerpt from his letter: "Hey everyone! It's Monday night and I probably won't send this til tomorrow, but I thought you'd like to see some of my experiences here at the MTC so I'm sending home my memory card. . . The Las Vegas and Atlanta elders both leave early tomorrow morning, so our district will consist of the five Alaska elders for the day. Our district leader appointed me to be the district leader over the Alaska elders because he is going to Vegas early tomorrow morning. I've had a great experience here and I'm really excited and a little nervous to get to Alaska on Wednesday."

And here are a few more of the pictures.

Elder Squires and his MTC companion, Elder Piiparinen.

Mat's district attends the Provo Temple.

About his haircut at the MTC: "I just had the worst haircut of my life."

That's Mat's finger touching Alaska on the map, although we can barely see his head. Looks like they're ready to go!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Take Off

It was Wednesday morning and Mat was calling from the airport. Dad got the call and had a last conversation with him before Mat boarded his flight to Alaska. His flight left Salt Lake City on time and arrived on time in Anchorage, just after 2:00 p.m. Later that afternoon Sister Dance, the mission president's wife, called to let us know that Mat had arrived safely and that he said he was "ready to go to work". He went out to work that afternoon with another missionary. He was to go to his new area the next day with his trainer. We are anxiously waiting to get an email or letter soon to hear all about his first days as a missionary in Alaska!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Phone Call

Mat was given permission to call us this afternoon to give us his flight itinerary. He said that there will be nine missionaries in his group traveling to Anchorage next week as planned. He also said that so far his district has been fortunate that no one has been sick and they hope that holds so that their plans go through to leave. He was only allowed five minutes for the phone call but it was great to hear his voice. He's happy and having a wonderful time, and can't wait to get to Alaska!

Swine Flu at the MTC

Hey mom and everyone! I have 7 minutes to write so I'll do my best with the time I have. Thank you for the package! I'm going to save the shirts til I get to Alaska so I have some crisp ones to wear. My flight departure to Alaska at this point in time has been delayed until June 17th. The apostles are having a prayer in the temple tonight with the First Presidency so I might get to leave on the 10th depending on what kind of answer they get. It's getting packed here because 400-500 elders come in every week and they won't let any leave so I hope they let me leave on time next week. I'm doing great though! We go to the call center a lot as a distrct and I have one contact that I am going to call tonight that seems very interested. He is already an investigator, but I got to teach him how to pray over the phone! It was really cool! I also challenged him to read Ether 12 and Moroni 10. Well I'm about to get kicked off and we're about to go to the temple so I will talk to you all later! Love you!

Elder Mathieu Squires

PS- I'll let you know when I leave for Alaska as soon as I can!