Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ecuador Bound!!

Back in July of 2013 one young 17 year old boy requested of the Lord "I am ready to serve you.  Where shall I go?"  In August the Call came and it was The Ecuador Guayaquil West Mission where the Lord would have Brian serve.  Before he could serve he first would have to learn Spanish and learn the teaching of the Gospel in the newly opened Mexico City Missionary Training Center.  Oh and he will need to leave his family the week before Christmas.  Brian prepared for the next several months by studying and teaching with the full time missionaries serving in our home ward.  He worked hard at our family store to do what he could before he had to leave.  He tried to get in as much adventure before his service began. 

Then it was time to leave his family.  It was sad but very exciting to start serving the Lord.  The new training center was spacious and beautiful but not as integrated as we had thought.  It was like an off-site American MTC.  But Brian spent six weeks with a good group of Elders and Sisters.  He quickly grew to love those he was serving with.  Including some fond memories of Ultimate Frisbee, wrestle mania, soccer jerseys and Krispy Kream donuts. 

Then it was time to leave the training center and leave his new family.  None of the other missionaries were going to Ecuador with Brian.  So he left his family in December and yesterday he left his MTC/CCM family too.  He talked about these friends like they were family even though they had only known each other for a few weeks.  He will forever hold these friendships near.

Monday night at about 10pm his district headed to the airport for their 1am flight to Columbia.  Brian was so hoping to fly back into the states to get some good American food before he continued on to South America, but Columbia it was.  (I was not very happy about that option either).  After a scary bus ride to the airport the missionaries made it through security and found a pay phone.  We got our call just after 11pm our time, just as we were giving up and going to bed.  It was awesome to talk with him.  Brian was crying to begin with.  He couldn't figure out the pay phone at first and so he thought he wasn't going to be able to call us.  His emotions were so raw.  The call connection was terrible.  Brian had a long delay hearing us and we had to hear ourselves repeated before he could hear us. Because of the connection it made telling longer stories harder.  So short and sweet it had to be. It was still GREAT to hear his voice.  I could tell he has grown up already.  We had him speak in Spanish and he did an amazing job.  He has lots to learn in confidence of speaking, but he will get it as he speaks it more. 

We talked until he had to board his plane.  It was so great to hear from him and to know that he was safe.  He wanted to call us from Columbia too so we slept with the cell phones close to the bed last night, but no phone call.  He later said that he traveled to Columbia and then had to say goodbye to his district and venture onto Ecuador alone.  He did connect with some Columbia natives missionaries to travel with.  Yep.  Elder Luke is now the token white boy of the group.  I'm sure quite the culture shock from Boise Idaho and even from the off-site American MTC.  Swimming in the deep end now, as Brian once said.

He was to arrive in Ecuador sometime around 10am.  But still no second phone call or email to confirm his arrival.  I even though that if so much time had gone by since his expected arrival time that if something had gone wrong, I'm sure someone would have notified us by then.  But I did finally get a message around 4pm our time.  Great sigh of relief.

His mission president's wife has a blog set up for the mission and has previously posted pictures when the missionaries arrive.  The other missionaries were all treated to a nice meal at the really nice mission home and then a day of training.  I'm just hoping that they let them sleep sometime. 

The following is the email we received this afternoon:
Hey mom.  I arrived safely in Ecuador.  I split up with the rest of my district in Columbia and I found a missionary that is a Columbian Native and then more came after.  So I am here.  I am the only white guy here.  The only one who doesn't know Spanish.  Thankfully the secretary to the President is from Utah and speaks English.  He has been helping me out.  It was really nice to talk to you.  I was a little sad that it was so short and that the connection was bad.  Pero.  It filled my heart.  I really miss you.  Its hard to think that the next time I get to hear your voice is in a year (actually in May for Mother's Day).  But on my flight into Ecuador I told Heavenly Father that I am gonna put my all and that I am His.  I am good and I will be better.  Mom, I love you.  I love you Dad.  I love you all.  I miss you.  But I will return with honor.  I will make you Proud.  I will try and take a butt load of pictures.
Hasta Ver
Con Amor
Elder Luke

Thursday, January 23, 2014

1 week left at the CCM

It's crazy how fast the CCM time has gone by.  I'm excited.  I leave Tuesday (really early in the morning).  I'm excited to leave here and actually teach real people and plan my own days, but I don't feel prepared language wise.  Maybe being submersed in the language will be better where here I don't use it all that often.  (Which is why we thought he was studying in Mexico.  Go figure.) 

But I am doing good, serving and learning.  My teacher told me after one of my lessons that I have a gift of teaching  and I was teaching in Spanish.  That meant a lot to me.  Pero.  I can be better that's for sure.  My other teacher told me that I need to repent.  I was like Dude I got everything taken care of.  But what the spirit led me to understand and what I studied right after is forget all the stuff and lose myself in Christ.  Read Philippians chapter three.  Basically what Paul does in that chapter I need to do.  So that's what I have been working on. 
Philippians Chapter 3 verse 2 - "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers, beware of the concision."   
Philippians Chapter 3 verse 9-10 - "And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith: That I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings being made conformable unto his death." 

Our teacher is amazing I think I already told you but he loves us so much and wants us to succeed.  He told us that we are in his patriarchal blessing.  He just loves his job and this gospel and pours out his heart to us everyday.

I know when I leave its going to be fun.  I hope we go back to the states first so that I can get some true American food. I will be traveling with some guys for most of the way, but I am certain I am the only one in the CCM going to my mission.  Some are going to Chile and some are going to Ecuador but in different missions.  It's gonna be weird being the only greeny.  Pero yea I am totally the only white dude.  I'm hoping that Elder Phillips from our stake will be my trainer.  I would really like that.  I want an English speaker but that is really good in Spanish.  I think I will be submerged in the language and culture enough.  I guess I don't need easy, like Joseph Smith I am meant to be in deep waters.  I am excited to be on my own with a companion but not the language.  We will see what the Lord has in store for me.

I did get the package.  The FedEx lady wasn't asking for the correct things and so I showed them all my stuff and they cleared it.  I got it yesterday.  The Kneader cookies were so good.  I enjoyed them and shared them with the class.  I love my jacket.  Its exactly what I was looking for.  Its funny because I was gonna have my teacher buy one for me but then I found out that his jacket was $250.  I was like ahhh, no.  But yea I really like it.  Thank you for sending the package.

Oh we got our Soccer jerseys from the World Cup too.  They are super cool.  They didn't have an Ecuador one but I got a sick looking Portugal one.  So awesome. 
The following picture is one of me totaling killing it at ultimate Frisbee and in my new jersey.  I literally stood in place for awhile and that kid sprints at me.  I jumped and he jumped and I caught it and he didn't even touch it.  It was awesome.

Well mom, I love it here  but I am excited to leave to Ecuador.  Thank you again for the package I really like it.  I love you mom, I love the scripture.  I love my Savior.  I hope you find time to study the scriptures.  Its important.  I love you Mom.
Dad, I really miss you.  I actually miss working at the store.  I don't know why I miss it.  Its like our baby and its hard to leave something you have created.  I love you with all my heart and I will make you proud.
I Love you
Elder Luke

Monday, January 20, 2014

Army of Helaman

In Brian's emails a couple weeks ago he mentioned that his district sang a Primary song while studying.  I thought I would post a video of the song for those who don't know it.  Well, I couldn't find one that I liked.  So I made one.  Hopefully we'll be able to email a copy of this to Brian so that he can see it.  (warning... tissues may be necessary.)


Thursday, January 16, 2014

Step of Faith - by Elder Hayrand

Step of Faith
by Elder Hayrand

 As you first arrive you feel out of place

Its a race against time and you can't set a pace.

A formidable opponent as you look time in the face

with God all things are possible according to faith

you put you life on the alter and offer it all

you step forward in faith and begin to fall

having faith in Christ that he will catch you

You listen and wait looking for a clue

With the ground getting closer you begin to doubt

losing all hope you begin to shout

" Lord Please Save Me, I need you now"

"I want to be strong I just don't know how"

with the ground getting closer rocks enter your sight

you fold your arms and close your eyes tight

as time passes you open one eye

you find yourself safe on the ground staring at the sky

In total disbelief you cant help but stare

as you look behind you and see him standing there

Ashamed with tear filled eyes you look at the ground

You wont look up, trying not to make a sound

as you hear him getting closer you begin to cry

He says " By yourself you are weak, with me you are strong

This is my work and this is where you belong"


Studying and Having Fun.

Time is cruising.  This P day came so fast.  Its flying. But the days are pretty long as well. Its crazy that I only have like 12 days and then I am in the mission field. Its so crazy. I am trying to have an open mind. I am improving on Spanish but I still hate that I cant understand people. but I can teach a mean lesson. But I am getting there. In a broadcast devotional of Elder Bednar he said that the gift of tongues doesn't come all at once but allows you to come slowly. Pero (But) it comes much fast than normally. 

I feel the spirit all the time. I do like teahcing though and in my patriartical blessing it says I would be an excellent teacher among the lords people. so I am happy I can see that in effect. I love this gospel.  It is weird to think that for the past six weeks that have been only studying the gospel  and Spanish 247.  It doesn't feel that way..

Warning.... shenanigans are happening down in Mexico, but everyone is safe and they have wised up and stopped some of the un-missionary like activities.  I guess boys will still be boys.

Oh all these pictures of the mattresses are wrestle mania. it was so much fun. We had donuts and leche.  Unfortunately it didnt end well for one of the missionaries from another district, complete accident and everything is cool. So we stopped that completely.
It was still fun.  You guys should do it at home and send me pictures.  (Steve threatened to wear his cycling bib to get the full wrestling look.  So if it happens at our house.  Which it wont.  There most likely will not be pictures posted anywhere.  Sorry).


Yea we are trying to work out every night. we have some limitations and not a lot of time. But P days and Gym time every day is where we play sports and thats fun. It sires me out so much. Everyone here comments on my calves. They always want to have a calf off. The father district for our first week here was from Mountain Home. We had a calf off. He won because they were huge and defined but mine were in the ball park. My wrestle mania name is sprouting oak, or tree trunk thighs.  I lost this last time. but I am known for my crazy strong legs. Hence the name. The first guy i wrestle was like," its trying to hold a sprouting oak down." But I have those thighs and calves thanks to you Dad.
I am so proud of you. Tree trunk. Oak tree. Beast legs.  As drew dayton would say. That's my boy. 
Love and miss you so much. You rock. 

Missionary package

Evidently when you send a missionary from freezing cold Idaho to warm Mexico they adapt and start thinking that 40 degrees is cold.  Brian said that with the humidity that it gets chilly down there and asked if we would send a jacket to him.  (Yes he admits that he is a wimp).  He took some waterproof jackets and one sweater, but he wanted something a little more stylish and warm.  Always about the fashion.  So last Friday we sent Brian a package through FedEx.  Well...  It made it to Mexico, but not to Brian.  I guess it is against the rules to send used clothing into Mexico.  There must be some high traffic Cardigan smuggling going on down there.  FedEx was really nice and offered to take the two sweaters (how did they know that there were two sweaters if they didn't open the package?) and send them to their undeliverable storage and send on the rest of the package.  Great.  That would be awesome.  NOT.  So after communications with FedEx from me and Brian I think we are close to proving that the cardigan and jacket were not contraband or a start of a illegal cardigan smuggling operation.  Hopefully Brian will get the package this week.  He will probably get it a day or two before he leaves and then it will be too hot in Ecuador to wear it.  I'm guessing that even though we used the Foodsaver packaging on the Kneaders chocolate chip cookies that they will probably be stale.  Oh well.  We tried. 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Daily life as a missionary in the CCM

Hey mom,
Time is going so fast. I am glad its is. I want to  be en Ecuador. Yea we have been looking forward to Thursdays and when you think about how close it is time just flies. But it also feels like I have been here for forever. Its a cool place but there is a lot of things wrong with it. But esta bien.
(In reference to how touching church has been to me since he has left and how even commercials will now set me off in a cry fest.) Oh mom don't make me cry. I am in amongst a bunch of guys. I miss you. I will admit that I am easily distracted by classes and studying and all the physical activity. But I miss you guys so much.  Every night I go through that picture book you got me and read my patriarchal blessing and its hard missing you guys. Every time I log onto my computer here I see a beautiful picture of Hudson and then see the weather back home. Its hard because I miss it all. Oh my goodness I could totally use a hug.
Ya know I have been getting better and better at Spanish and at role playing lessons.  I have been doing better because I can communicate the message. But the problem for me is that they expect you to already know Spanish. I am not worried about not ever speaking Spanish its just freaking me out about tomorrow not speaking it. Like I am having a hard time using English its just those few times where I am expected to know something but cant. But our teacher shared with the class and told me in private previously that he is terrified that he doesn't know English and that he can't communicate with us. The entire time he was crying. He said that he cares so much about us and prays that he can be a blessing in my life. He is such an awesome individual and has had some pretty awesome experiences on his mission. But our teacher is the best. He honestly cares and loves us. I think that's going to be the hardest part of me leaving the ccm.
So unfortunately the CCM likes to cut out everything fun here. Here is aqui en spanish. but they canceled tie trading and some are being super strict with that rule. I traded some of my ties for some sick wool skinny ties. They also canceled ultimate Frisbee which is my favorite sport here because I am a beast at it. They are just super strict. There is literally no time to have fun. (Welcome to the Missionary life Brian.)
Um two days ago one of the teachers spoke to us about Moroni. I realized that Moroni is awesome and I want to be like him but I don't know much about him. So I am going verse by verse trying to understand who Moroni was and how I can be him.  Its pretty cool. If you ever have to threaten or challenge someone read Alma 44:7 Super cool and powerful script.
The living arrangements are pretty sweet. We have our own casa. Living room and everything. We tend to play hacky sack a lot there. Its a cool place.
So my day. I wake up at 6 am then study at 7 to 8. 8 is breakfast. Then after breakfast we have a language class and progressing investigator and then coaching. Then after that we have gym at 11:40. We normally play ultimate frisbee. I rock at that. Sometimes take naps or volley ball. Then lunch at 1. Then we have tienda time. its the store they have here. Then we have TALL. Technology assisted language learning. Then we go back to class for language, progressing investigators, and coaching. that is with another teacher. That normally goes till dinner at 6:30. Then after that we have personal study until 9:20. We sometime throw devotionals in there sometimes. Then 9:30 to whenever is personal time. Thats when we have the most fun. So thats the normal day. Its okay.
Actually there was frost on the grass this morning. Its cold here. With the humidity and it getting cold its cools down. Another guy in my district who is from Idaho falls has said that he keeps waking up freezing cold. (proof that Brian isn't the only wimp down there.  Did you see how cold it was in Green Bay during the playoff game?  I'm sure they would have loved the 45 degree weather.  I guess he has been removed from the cold long enough to change.  Just wait a few weeks and he'll be in 90 degree weather with thunder showers.  Not in Idaho anymore.)
Thank you for that encouraging quote. The way I manage my stress is I through fruit at the side of our casa. This girl en my district was super stressed yesterday and so I gave her a manzana to throw at a wall. She really needed it. Everyone was watching and just really boosted her confidence.

Well mom its time. May god be with you till we meet again. Mom i am missionary and i love it. I dont like CCM but i love this gospel. Mom i love you so much. I hope those blessings pore upon you.
I love you mom
Elder Luke.

Captain Moroni is a Beast

Hey dad,

That's awesome that you are reading the Book of Mormon.  I wish we had that instagram thing down here. (There is an Instagram profile called BOFM365 that posts each day of the year a section of the Book of Mormon to read.  Steve uses this post to remind him that its really not that hard to take time to read scriptures.) I am studying about Captain Moroni.  Read Alma 44:6-7  He is a Stud.
"I command you by all the desires which ye have for life, that ye deliver up your weapons of war unto us, and we will seek not your blood, but we will spare your lives, if ye will go your way and come not again to war against us. 
 And now, if ye do not this, behold, ye are in our hands, and I will command my men that they shall fall upon you, and inflict the wounds of death in your bodies, that ye may become extinct; and then we will see who shall have power over this people; yea, we will see who shall be brought into bondage."
He literally talks while they are fighting for their land and everything dear to them and says if you don't stop this will end.  Its just so beast.

Its hard here.  They are cutting everything fun here.  But I find enjoyment in my own ways. The food here sucks.  Mystery meat, fake eggs and beans.  But we have pizza often so that's good. I can buy food here but its just snacks.  If I fly back through the states I am defiantly going to be eating so much American food.

I'm excited you are training for cycling.  When I was there you hated how lazy you were getting and your lazy wasn't even lazy.  But your a lot happier when you train. You're such a stud.  I talk about you so much.  You are respected here.

Hey I noticed on our store website that the rubber snake hunting boots are still on there.  I thought we sold them before I left.  You really need to add some more climbing and fishing and kayaking stuff.  Oh did you bear your testimony on Sunday.  (just a short part of Brian's email making sure his dad stays on top of the things Brian was working on before he left.  Now Steve has been challenged.)

Dad I love you.  I respect you so much.  I really look up to you.  I think what you are doing with the Book of Mormon is amazing.  I love this gospel and I love being active.
May God be with you until I email you again.
I love you dad
Elder Luke

Thursday, January 2, 2014

To Dad - Bear your testimony

Hey dad, I am really glad that all is well back in Boise. It warms my heart know how big of an impact I am having. I found a scripture that shows the real importance of your testimony. The scripture says that when you bear your testimony angels en heaven rejoice and it es recorded for time and all eternity. Dad I really love you and respect you.  I look up to you in everything. Dad share your testimony all the time. It is so important not only for you but to those who hear it. Its so powerful.

Dad its really hard here. I didnt think spanish would be so difficult. But it es. The problem I am having es that i feel that I have a strong testimony but I cant share it properly in spanish. Thats what frustrates me. Thank you so much for yours prayers.

[Steve wrote] Nate Johnson said that it is the missionary way of always wanting to push and be better.  He said be patient and the language will come as you use it more and more.  Remember it has only been a couple week.  Before you know it you will have a hard time with English.

Regardless of speaking Spanish i am having a blast, today we played ultimate frisbee in the rain.  I used the Gopro for it. It was cool. We have partys here. Atleast with our father district that just left we had wrestle mania. We would line the living room with left over mattresses and wrestle. We had a tie white elephant exchange.  Its awesome. But most of all its just the spirit, the purity, just the cleanliness of it. Its awesome.

On christmas Elder Bednar spoke and he said something that really touched my heart. He said that it isnt doctrine but it can be considered to be, and I personally feel of its truthfulness, but he said ," I do not think that Jesus took upon him all of our sins all at once. But it is just like many principles in this gospel, he took the sins and pains of the world one by one. I tell people that I imagine a giant Ipad and Jesus scrolled one by one. I feel that He saw me that night and that he looked me in the eyes and said I will." The atonement has always been dear to my heart but to put it like that makes it so personal to me. Its just awesome. 

Dad I want to thank you. My heart es full. I am greatful for you. I have always looked up to you.  Even though we have both had our moments, I have always looked up to you. I am constantly talking and bragging about how much of a stud you are. I love how far you have come and where your going. You are my true best friend. I love you dad. I will return with honor.

Nos Vemos. 
I love you dad, 
Elder Luke

Random Culture Shot

Good to see that Brian's still drawing

To Mom - This is the Hardest thing I have ever done.

Brian had a couple opportunities to email today.  As a mom it is really hard to concentrate on work when you get emails from your son that you haven't seen in two weeks.  It's distracting but the best part of the week.

Brian has been in the Mexico MTC (or CCM) for a little over two weeks of his six weeks of training.  While his hometown is experiencing weather in the teens to high 30s, Mexico city has been in the 50s to 70s.  Culture shock as well as weather shock.

Here are some portions of his emails:

Hey mom, I seriously miss you. This is the longest I have ever been without you guys but you're with me in spirit.  I am having the time of my life here.  I am sprinting and wrestling all the time. My district really connects with others. I definitely  know that I was specifically placed in this district at this time. They all have beautiful testimonies and are so fun to be around.  (Many in his district are from Idaho or live near Brian's family in Arizona .  Small world).

It was such an awesome experience last night when we had personal study.  I played some music while we studying. A lot of people were in the hall but i was working on Spanish on the white board when the song the Armies of Helaman ("We'll Bring the World His Truth") came on.  We all  kept studying but we were all singing. The spirit was present and so powerful.  I think it meant a lot to my district when that happened because it showed us our purpose for being out all with the words of a simple primary song. Music es muy powerful. 

Mom, i am really scared, this is the hardest thing i have ever done. I feel like I am trying my hardest learning Spanish.  Two days ago I went into a lesson totally relying on the spirit and I didnt say much but i could ask important question and i was satisfied on how it went. But yesterday we went into another lesson and i had nothing to say. I felt like I lost everything I had obtained. I was scared and frustrated. Still am. Its just hard because everyone expects you to know it. So that's frustrating but Esta Bien. I can do this. Absolutly can.

In a previous email I asked how it was working and living with the native Spanish speakers and how Church was at the MTC.  Um yes all the hermanas are from the US. This MTC doesnt have a lot of people in it. But we just got some natives in right next door but we dont see them very often. Yea the CCM is like our own personal America. I am not submerged as much as I thought I would be. Sunday is good we dont have any leanring classes. We go to preisthood and then sacrament with our zone. Then we have some devotionals with everyone and then they usually play a church movie. Like last sunday we watched when Christ came to the Americas. It was like a hour and a half long movie. So thats cool. Then just retire to our casa´s and bed. Its a pretty chill day.
This week unfortunately our father district left to the mission field.  My friend Forrest and Hermana Weller left on monday and then Elder Mckenzie from Mountain Home Idaho left Tuesday with the rest of his super cool district. I can tell you this though, its would have been super uber hard without them. We got in our new district yesterday.  Now we are the father district. I am just hoping that we can be even more help than the father district before was to us. But Esta Bien. 

But I want you to know that I am serving the lord and that I love you. Mom I love you so much and I thought it would be easier being away from you guys. I had a rude awakening. Basically mom I want you to know that I am good and happy, struggling but happy. I am still confident.
I love you mom.
Elder Luke