Opening My Mission Call

Opening My Mission Call
August 16, 2010

Monday, September 24, 2012

What a Week!

I don't think that I have such a long, yet amazing week. A lot of things have happened over the past seven days and now the mission has completely changed for me. Well, let me explain:

I think every missionary always wonders, well at least I wonder, "Do I really have the Spirit with me? I feel happy and I feel like I sometimes receive revelation and I feel worthy, but just I never know..." Well, I had an amazing experience happen on last Monday night that really boosted my own confidence and confirmed that the Spirit really is with me. We were at a member's house right before going into our piso and just chatting with them and giving them a nice spiritual message. Well, the week prior my companion gave one of the family members a blessing of health since she had just been operated on and she said that very night she felt 100000 times better, and she was thrilled. Now this week their roommate was super worried about her current job situation and just wanted a blessing of comfort so she asked me to give her a blessing. For some reason I was just feeling super weird and so I was like, "Sure we'll give you one at the end of the lesson," but before the end of the lesson I excused myself to the bathroom so I could pray for some inspiration on how to help her. Well I came out and then I gave her a blessing, and I am not even sure what happened. I just looked up and my companion was staring at me like, "wow..." and then I look down and the lady is crying. My comp said that I was giving the blessing I stopped for a quick pause and then continued and then added a few little more things and then ended. The lady told me as we were leaving the piso that she now knew with a surety that God knew who she was and that her prayers are answered. She then told me that I recited to her parts, word for word, of her Patriarchal blessing. Umm.... I was pretty much speechless. I didn't even know what to say. I just sufficed with a, "Well, that's what blessings are for! To comfort you!" and then we left. It was quite the Monday. It only led to an even better Tuesday:

On Tuesday we had the opportunity to go to Murcia and meet with Elder Kent F. Richards of the Second Quorum of the Seventy (see picture). We left at 530am since we got a ride with one of our members who happened to be the cook for the whole event. For the days leading up to Tuesday we were all super nervous because he is not the most punctual guy and we had to make sure that the lunch was served at 2pm exactly. So we were all stressing so we got there as early as possible to prepare the food. Well we did that as well as we could before we had to leave the kitchen because the zone conference was starting. To be honest, I could write thousands of pages I feel like of notes of all the things I learned but I will just highlight one or two things. First we stood up and shook the hands of Elder Richards and Sister Richards. When I said I was from Medford, Oregon Sister Richards told me that she had actually been there before in 2003 when she was on the Young Woman board. Well then we started listening to Elder Richards. He gave us a lot of good advice. I would say that the theme of the whole conference was to allow yourself to be guided by the Spirit. Sister Richards also briefly talked to us. She put up a long acronym on the board and asked us is she knew what it was. HISTHOGROTTUOOCOOFT? Can you guess what this long acronym is? It is a statement by President Henry B. Eyring. Ever since she explained it I have tried to remember this phrase daily. It stands for, "Have I seen the hand of God reaching out to touch us or our children, or our family, today?" There are a lot of tricks people have to try and remember the blessings they have received daily from God and I think this one is a good one for me. I will try to use it daily. 

Elder Richards then came up again and started teaching us more and he would periodically call on a missionary randomly and ask them to do something in front of the rest. Talk about nerve wracking. I nearly passed out when I saw him look in my direction, squint at my name tag and say, "Elder Card!" Oh no... not me please, not me! "Stand up will ya?" I did so. "I want you to invite me to be baptized and when I tell you no, rephrase the question. Handle it well!" Oh my gosh.... I don't think I have ever been so nervous in my life. I almost passed out. Well, I tried my best, and later people said I did a fine job but I didn't really care. I just wanted it to be over haha. I think I make myself more nervous than the situation really calls for but it makes it super funny looking back. We then had a Question and Answer session and some people had some good questions so it made it interesting. 

At about two o´clock we were wrapping up so Elder Jordan and I sneak into the kitchen to see how our member is doing with the food. We asked him how it was going and he said, "Wow. You guys are done early!"
We looked at our watch again, "No.... it is 2:00...." 
With a super confused look he looks up at the clock in the kitchen and we all look at it together. You've got to be kidding me...... Someone had set the clock back for some reason so it was 40 minutes slow. He thought it was barely 1:30. Well, emergency time!!!! Throw together a salad!! STALL STALL!!! We literally threw a salad and tried to get the missionaries and President Deere and Elder and Sister Richards to sit down. I sat down and whispered to President Deere our "issue." He said he hoped it wouldn't be too big of a deal and so I sat down next to him and talked to him a bit more. Elder Jordan was in the kitchen helping out the member so I was sitting with some other missionaries when Elder Richards sits down right next to me to eat lunch. I wasn't as nervous this time and I just talked to him and got to know him a lot better. He is a surgeon, well was, and has a lot of cool stories. Told his how he got called by Elder Uchtdorf and how he was interviewed by Elder Nelson and Elder Cook. It was way cool to hear all about the "behind the scenes." He saod that Elder Nelson asked him, "If we were to start missionary work on the moon, would you be willing and ready to go and live there the rest of your life to start missionary work." He told me that he obviously said he was, because if he said no he wouldn't be in front of me haha. 

Eventually people stomach's were starting to churn but the food did come out and it was worth the wait. It was absolutely amazing and delicious. I was lucky (or unlucky depending how you look at it) to be sitting in front of Elder Richards when the food was being served. The AP was delivering the food to Elder Richards when..... he tripped! Yep. White sauce all over Elder Richards' suit. He took it really well though, and he made it a funny situation instead of a completely awkward one. 

After the lunch we were all cleaning up when President Deere came up to me and said, "Hey, Elder Card, could you stay for a few minutes to talk with Elder Richards? He wants to have an interview with you." Oh great... what did I do wrong? Was I not bold enough in the baptism invite? Was I laughing too much when the sauce got on his suit? As you know me I was just freaking out. But no, there was no need to fear. Apparently, he just wanted to get to know the mission so he picked two or three elders to interview and talk. Still, I was nervous going into it. Elder Jordan waited at the door, and what felt to me to be a 5 minute interview was actually a lot longer. I came out and Elder Jordan said, "Man, you were in there forever. What happened?"
"What are you talking about? I was in there for only like 5 minutes."
"No! Look at the time. You've been in there for like 35 minutes!"

Wow. He was right. I was just having the time of my life in there so it really just flew. He asked me about myself, and so when I told him I was a convert he asked me about that story. Well, I told him all of that stuff and he asked about my parents and how are they doing and then after a lot of chit chat he asked me if I had any questions for him. Well I then asked him a bunch of stuff. Just as an example of some of the things I asked, I asked him the process he used to receive personal revelation and any advice he had on how to be a good father, husband, etc. The interview was just a great experience. I told him that I am sure we will be in touch haha. 

That very night with all of the new things we learned and the Spiritual high that we were on we were able to set a baptismal date with our most hard-headed investigator. Talk about a miracle. I don't think I had ever come back to the piso more exhausted yet more happy. It was a great day. And that was just one day last week! 

To make this really short... what else happened? Well, we just had a blast. But, oh yeah. Of course one of the best week always has to throw you a curve ball. You want to get super "trunky" aka homesick? How about travel plans?!? Yeah buddy. Got those I have my official flight plans for going home. It is the following:

On December 6th, 2012:

Málaga to Paris, France
630am  ---> 925am (2:55 hours)

Paris to Seattle, Washington
1030am ----> 1240pm (11:10 hours)

Seattle, WA to Portland, OR
200pm -----> 250pm (50 minutes)

Portland, OR ----> Medford, Oregon!!!
525pm ----> 623pm (58 minutes)

Yeah, that made me really excited for December, I won't lie. Due to the time difference I leave on December 6th but also arrive in Medford on December 6th haha. Cool, eh? Anyways, you can pretty much count me on being exhausted for writing that email. I hope you all enjoyed it! Until next week!!!

Elder Card, out.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 17, 2012

Monday September 17, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

It really is starting to heat up here in Paranguá and the humidity is ridiculous. It seems like taking a shower is useless because I´m dripping in sweat five minutes later. I love the elements and trials that I´m going through on my mission. If I wasn´t a man before, I will be when all is said and done.
This past week flew by once again and the weather is getting super hot and humid here in my area of Guarani. I am feeling the desire more and more everyday to help all those that I can. I know I can´t be Superman and do everything, but I know I can be a Supermissionary with the spirit of the Lord as I obey with exactness and  I can help all those that the Lord whould have me help. 
Tais and Andrea are looking like they will be baptized this next Sunday if all goes well and it is truly amazing to see the new light that is in their lives and eyes. The Book of Mormon and the Church and gospel of Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal happiness,


Elder Hokanson

Time Flies When You Work Hard

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dear Dad, Mom, Liz, Kirstie, Ashlynn, McKay, Family and Friends,

This past week flew by like a dream. I can´t believe it´s close to the
middle of Setembro. I learned this past week that as you lose yourself
serving others, thinking less about yourself, and more about helping
others overcome their personal problems, the problems and concerns in
your own life seem to disappear. I witnessed this as we worked like
crazy this past weekend to teach people, that we´d encountered in the
street, in their houses the message of the restoration of Christ´s
church on the earth today. Saturday evening we went to the house of
Ianderson, Fabiana and their family to teach them how their home can
have more peace and love. It was amazing to see how receptive they
were to our lesson and then to hear them say that they´d been looking
for a church and a religion where they could feel peace and happiness.
After teaching the restoration to them and having a spirit of peace
fill the room, I committed Ianderson and Fabiana to be baptized at the
end of this month. They responded that they will do everything in
their power to be prepared for baptism at the end of this month. As we
left their house that evening I could feel a warm feeling within me
and that is when I realized with more surety that this church is the
church of Jesus Christ and baptism is the only way to gain eternal
happiness. Look for people in your everyday life that lack peace,
happiness and unity in their families and their life and open your
mouthes and share the gospel.

Elder Hokanson

September 3, 2012

Monday, September 3, 2012

Dear Dad, Mom, Liz, Kirstie, Ashlynn, McKay, Family and Friends,

Spiritually miraculous....that is what this past week was. This past week my companion, Elder Funk, and I set a goal to obey with more exactness and live in a way that we can find and teach  people by listening more to the promptings of the Spirit. I learned that to be the best possible instrument in the hands of the Lord, I need to obey all the mission rules and commandments with exactness and not make exceptions to even the smallest of rules. What I learned this week was that miracles take place when we do all in our power to listen to the Holy Ghost. This past Wednesday night we met with Andrea and Jorge, the non-member parents of 3 young men who are members. One of their sons is serving a mission in João Pessoa in the north and so we talked to them about how they are feeling with their son being on a mission. For the past 3 months that I have been here in Paranaguá, Andrea and Jorge had little interest in keeping commitments and going to church, but as we talked with them, Andrea said that seeing pictures of her son on his mission helping others changre their lives has brought an indecribable joy, when she said that we testified that the joy he is experiencing and the joy she was feeling was because of the gospel of Jesus Christ. We then committed them to read the Book of Mormon and pray specifically to know if it was true and if Joseph Smith was the prophet of God, that restored Christ´s church on the earth.They accepted the invitation and as the Spirit was strong, we committed Andrea to be baptized on the 16th of this month, and for the first time in three months she responded, ``I will prepare to be baptized on that day.`` Then the next miracle happened, Friday night as we were walking back toward our house I had the prompting to visit Andrea, even though we hadn´t planned to visit her. I knew that we should follow the prompting,so we went to Andrea´s house. When we arrived and clapped at their gate, she answered and we asked her if she had read the Book of Mormon and prayed to know if it was true. She then responded, to my amazement, ``I did and I felt a feeling of peace and happiness come over me.`` We then responded that the feeling she felt was the Spirit and that she had received an answer that it was true. She then asked us with a smile on her face, ``Can you pick me up and take me to church on Sunday?`` We happily responded of course and yesterday, Not only Andrea came to church, but her husband Jorge, as well. I know that if we obey the commandments with exactness, miracles will take place. I have seen this happen as I am understanding and speaking a lot more with the locals here and listening to the Spirit.

Thank You For Your Love and Support!
Elder Jonathan Hokanson

August 27, 2012

Monday August 27, 2012

Dear Dad, Mom, Liz, Kirstie, Ashlynn, McKay, Family and Friends,
This past week was a week full of a roller coaster of emotions, as it
was my trainer´s last week with me, as he went home today. It feels
now that a part of me is missing, I love Elder Evans like the older
brother I never had. He truly taught me how to be the best missionary
possible and fulfill my true potential. It is amazing how close you
can get to one person in just a matter of eight weeks. This mission is
truly amazing and the Lord is helping me endure and overcome the
obstacles and pains that have come upon me so far as a missionary here
in southern Brasil.
This past Friday I got my stiches taken out at a old little health
clinic in a neighborhood in the area I serve. You may be wondering why
I had stiches to be taken out of my head. That is where my Brasilain
soccer and hospital story comes in.
Two weeks ago today I was playing soccer, in the rain on an outdoor
court at the stake center, the main LDS church here in Paranaguá, with
the other elders in my zone. I was playing goalie and I was running to
get the ball in the corner of the court, where there was an extra
slick part, as a defender was coming at me. I don´t remember much
after that, but I slipped and smaked my head on the concrete as I was
running to pick up the ball. After squirming in pain and grabbing my
head, I saw that my hand was covered in blood, that is when I started
going in and out of conciousness and my arms and legs were tingling.
The next couple hours consisted of going to the hospital by ambulance,
getting x rayed and then after seeing that nothing was broken they
gave me 4 stitches and wrapped my head in gauze. I ended up walking
out of the hospítal looking like a soldier from the civil war, as the
wrap they put on my head looked pretty ridiculous. Attached should be
a photo of how I looked the night of the accident. The best part of my
brazialian soccer and hospital experience was that all the medical
care andf ambulance ride were free due to the brazilian health care
After about a week and a half of pretty bad neck pain and headaches, I
am feeling pretty normal for the most part, aside from the scar on the
back of my head and the occasional neck and back pain and headaches. I
know that the Lord blesses us as we keep his commandments and that as
a representative of Jesus Christ I was and am still being watched over
and protected from not being injured more seriously.
Thanks for your prayers and support.
Elder Jonathan Hokanson

Learning to Lead

August 6, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

This past week I got my first look at what it´s going to be like without my trainer and first companion Elder Evans, as he is finishing his mission here this week. On Friday, I showed the new missionary and zone leader, in the area next to us, our area and I for my first day ever was leading the conversations with the people we were meeting with and teaching the majority of the lessons. I realized how much I´ve relied on Elder Evans the past eight weeks and that this next week when he leaves, I´ll be relying on the Lord to help strengthen me and be an example to help my new companion, that I´ll get next week, adjust to the area. More importantly, I´m learning to put my faith in the Lord that he will help me completely understand all the people we talk to and I´m learning that the Spirit, if we live worthy of it, can be a great help in understanding, speaking and teaching. Yesterday I think I ate the best dessert I´m had here yet, it was a bowl of fresh tropical fruit, with sweet condensed milk and chocolate, coconut ice cream. That dessert we had for lunch, then we went to another members house and a recent converts house and they fed us more food. The members here and the people of Brazil love feeding us, so we are never hungry, which is great and I don´t have any problem with it since I love food.Trials are occuring here in my life and in my area, but I´m learning that if we rely on God we can do all things and help those that are in need.

I love you all and I hope you have a great week!


Elder Hokanson

Tuesday Aug 7, 2012
Urgent... Read Please ASAP


So my companion Elder Evans, from Wilsonville Oregon, is going home this next Monday and his parents are picking him up. Do you have any way possible to get my wobble chair and cervical traction up to Wilsonville and dropped off at his parent´s house before Saturday. They can bring it to the mission home for me, and I can pick it up. Maybe Nate and Kristin or Janae could bring it, I don´t know, but I could really use the wobble chair and cervical traction because my back and neck are hurting me pretty bad. If you can please send these things in a duffle bag ready to be checked with $50 or so for the baggage fee. If  you can do this give Elder Evans´ Mom, Kari, a call at 503-638-7115 or 503-490-4721 to arrange the drop off. Their address is 23544 SW Gage Rd Wilsonville, OR.

Thanks Mom

Elder Hokanson

PS-  If you are able to do it make sure everything is done by Saturday because they leave Sunday. Also, don´t include the spinal molding or weights if they don´t fet because I don´t want to have to carry around a ton of unecessary stuff during my mission.

August 13, 2012

(Letter to Jonathan after hearing from his companion's mom that he'd hurt his head the week before)
Jonathan Jared Hokanson,
(you can just imagine the tone of my voice! :))  You got hurt and didn't tell us!  Because we didn't know, We couldn't pray specifically for that!  We've been praying for you to learn the language.  Now McKay is praying that your head injury will heal.  Yes, I was very worried when I heard from your companion's mom (she knew before me!), but have to trust that Heavenly Father is aware and all our trials can work for our good.
So, I've gathered up everything but your weights.  I still need to look for them.  I am also sending some tylenol, 8 hour and a Nikken necklace.  WEAR it under your shirt.  I emailed your Presidente and requested that you get into a chiropractor asap.  And probably for several visits, just because of the extent of the trauma.  The closest one is in Curitiba.  Jory is checking on him to make sure he is good. His name is Dr. Jason Gilbert, he's from Austrailia.  There is over 500 dollars in your account.  Let me know how much the chiropractor visits cost.  Jory said it should be cheaper there.  I am sure you have had a blessing, but you can also have another if needed.  Janae and Joseph will drop them off in Wilsonville on Friday.  Do you home care daily!!! It makes a huge difference.  Just start with 5 minutes twice a day the first day and gradually work up.  Since it's been a while.  
I love you!  I am so sorry for your pain.  Now that I know, send ME the details.  
Love you to the ends of the earth,
Jonathan Hokanson
Aug 13
to me
Sorry Mom,

I was planning on telling you this week. I didn´t you all to worry
about me. I´m being watched over and protected here as a missionary
and your prayers have been super helpful as I´m understanding the
majority of what others are saying and I can express my feelings more
fully. My head and neck injury have improved dramatically since last
Tuesday. Thanks for the prayers. Love you and sorry I didn´t tell you

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

No Power

At first I was thinking that this last week nothing too exciting happened, but thinking about it more I realized that we did have a lot of cool things happen. Well, cool might not be the appropriate word but a lot of good learning experiences. Here is one.

We had a crazy story with our menos activo that just got reactivated named Isaac:

We have been working with him to get him all the possible blessings, so we have talked with the Bishop and with Isaac about getting his Patriarchal Blessing. He finally had the interview the other week and when it came to the question asking about if he was being honest with his fellow man and had been keeping all the commandments he came clean that he had been robbing power. He is an electrician so he hooked up the cables and gets free power. (They are in a HORRIBLE financial situation). Well, he called the electrical company to "confess" so the guy came by and cut their cords and took pictures and so now he is going to get hit with a big fine. Not only did they cut his cords but they found out that the majority of the block was robbing power so they cut their power as well. However, the whole  block paid 10 euros to a kid down the street who knew how to plug back in the cords and what not, and when they accidental plugged in Isaac's, Isaac ran down and told him to unplug his. We visited him in this crisis, and he told us, "You know how easy it is to just go downstairs and plug back in my cables? I know how to do it and our family needs power to even turn on the stove top to eat. I can easily justify it. You know how easy it would be to do this?"

I asked him, "Then why don't you?"
He said, "Tengo que ser recto. Tengo que hacer lo correcto." (I have to be righteous, I have to do what is right.)
He refused to do it and until now they are still without power. The power company said they won't turn the power back on until he pays the fine, which is a large one to say the least. The bishop has helped though. Some one brought over a gas powered stove so they can cook and a generator to keep the fridge running. The Relief Society also has pitched in with the food and they are being blessed. Soon, he will get his blessing and it will all be worth it. It was a great lesson that he taught me.

I guess, THAT was something exciting that happened this week.

Elder Card

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 16 - Baptisms and more Baptisms!!

The last week wasn't actually anything too exciting. Oh wait... we had a baptism!!! Yeah, another one. We have been blessed with a lot of miracles here in Elche. The ward hasn't had a baptism in over a year and we just had three baptisms in the last three weeks. Elche is on fire! All of the prayers and little things the members have been doing are finally bearing fruit. Another testimony that by small and simple things are great things brought to pass. To be honest, I don't even remember if I sent you the photo of the last baptism we had, so I will send you both. It has been a great miracle and blessing. I actually think that it is my favorite baptism just because of the great miracle story behind it. I think I might have told the story before but I will tell it one more time:
About two transfers ago we visited a less active member named Isaac Torremocha. He was a really good guy but he was pretty much done with everything. He was just laying on the couch and didn't really want anything. In fact, he is only in his 40´s but has already had two heart attacks. He isn't overweight or anything he just has poor health. Well, he had pretty much given up and we aren't really sure what we did but the next week he started coming to church and that itself was a miracle. A long story short, the two daughters both got baptized this last Saturday and their mom is on the path to baptism. Their goal is to be sealed a year after the mom's baptism. It was a great service the last week. I baptized one of the daughters and one of our recently returned missionaries baptized the other. Elder Jordan didn't baptize either of them only because he arrived 3 days before the baptism. Anyways, here are the photos of the baptism.
Also, this last Friday we had another one of those days called Dia de Diamante. We were to have no citas and only contact all day in the streets. As a mission we  got more than 2600 futures in one day. All of this with the goal of having more than 70 baptisms or more in August. Anyways, the mission is going great. I have to do some traveling ths week. We are going to Alicante to have interviews with president on Wednesday and then on Thursday I have to go to Almeria to grab my DNI card so I can stay here legally for the last three months of the mission haha. Actually, my old card has been expired since February, so I am only going to grab this card and have it for a few months but it's necessary in case the police pull me over for whatever reason. Anyways, I will take more pictures and we'll talk soon!
Elder Card

Elder Tiger

July 2

That reminds me of a quote that the MTC president, Ralph W. Smith said while I was at the MTC in Provo. He said there is no such thing as selective obedience. It is a way to do it the convenient way and that doesn't exist. When we break just one rule or commandment, we let Satan know that we are willing to break more. That kind of impacted me a lot since I can still remember it. Anyways, that trip sounds like it will be super fun. Make sure to take a lot of photos, and if you run into any return missionaries over there from Málaga Spain make sure to tell them Elder Card says hi. If I remember right there are a few RM from this mission that live in that area haha. Keep your eye out!! Until next week!

Elder Steven Card


Okay, okay, I have no excuse for not writing. I have just been a bit on the lazy side but now I am back! Not only that but we had a great past couple weeks!!! I was really stressing out for awhile because we had a baptism scheduled for two Saturdays ago and we couldn't get in contact with him (Mauricio is his name) until Wednesday and that was pretty nerve wracking. Well, we finally did get in touch and all went well. He entered into the waters of baptism and is a happy man. I sent a picture of that as well of us missionaries in front of a fountain in Elche after the baptism to celebrate.

What else is new?? Well a few days after having that success we met with another one of our investigators and he surprised us by setting his own baptismal fecha!! He will get baptized in two Saturdays and he is pumped, and so are we. We also have been working with this other family and the two daughters are getting baptized this Saturday. As you can see we have been really busy and so I have been trying to do other things. Don't worry though it is still all written in the journal event hough it isn't very well recorded here on email. We are all really excited and so is the mission. This ward hasn't had a baptism in over a year, and now within three weeks we are having four. It really is a testament to hard work and that God does work miracles. 

We also met our new mission president, President Deere. He is a super cool guy and we all are really excited for him to be here. He brought two of his children with him as well. So the mission house is a young hip place lol. We are all pumped for this new mission president. Soon I will get a picture for ya. Anyways, I am really sorry that my emails have been kind of failing over time, but I will try and do better and not be as lazy. Until next week!!! Thanks for all!

Elder Card

PS: Oh yes, we got transfer calls. I am staying but my comp is leaving which means after only one transfer together he is leaving. My new comp is Elder Jordan. I am excited to have him come over. He meets me on Wednesday! Wish us luck together!

June 18 - Are You the Chosen One?

Well this week went by super super fast. It was a pretty fun week actually, and now things are taking a turn for the better. Yesterday we had a record amount of investigators come to church, at least for us. We had 6 people come to church and all of them were brought by a member. It was great. People are progressing like crazy. Hopefully we will see a lot of progress here this week. 
Last week we sadly said goodbye to President Clegg. He will still be here for a couple weeks but it was his last "public appearance" if you will. We had a zone conference in Murcia and so we took the train ride down there to attend the conference. There we watched some of his home videos from before he came as a mission president, and then we watched another DVD of photos and funny videos he had gathered during his years as a mission president here with us. It was a touching and really funny video. He made copies for each of us. We then separated into three groups into three different rooms. The first room we wrote our final goodbye note to the Cleggs to put into a book and also signed a piece of patchwork. Then, in the second room we wrote our welcome letter to the Deere family who comes soon, and then in the third room we had our last one and one time with the Cleggs. There, he gave each of us his personal contact information, a list of "rules" and advice that he put on a list and laminated it for us haha, and he also gave each missionary a ring. On the ring is engraved PRO, and on the inside of the room is inscribed, "I will pray, read and obey everyday." It was pretty cool. I still wear mine. I figured he gave it to us to wear not to put away, so I have it with me now.

The rest of the week went really well. We saw more and more miracles like we did last week. For example, my companion is from Africa, and grew up in Portugal and so he knows how to speak Portuguese. Well, we were knocking on doors and this lady answers the door and just by the way she was talking Elder Barbosa figured that she could speak Portuguese and so he starts talking to her in Portuguese. She was from Brazil, and once you hear your native language you just will let anyone into your house so she let us in haha. There, we impressed her even more. While we were talking I saw that she had a Rubik's cube on the table unsolved. I asked her if I could try and solve it. She told me that she had been working on it for years and had never figured out how to solve it. Well, I told her I could try and do it, and not just solve it, but solve it in under three minutes. She told me to try it, and well I did it and Barbosa timed me and I solved it in 2 minutes, 43 seconds. She just was speechless and started to bust up laughing. She told me, "Wow.... you are special. You, my young friend, have a gift. You must be one of those chosen ones." hahahahaha. Needless to say we got a return appointment haha. 

Another cool language story. Our area is just covered with Africans, and the majority come from Senegal and Mali. Well, just for fun, I have been trying to learn a language called Bambara, it is the language spoken in Mali. I've been learning how to say the normal hellos and goodbyes and Gospel terms from one of our investigator friends who is from Mali. Well, usually I am fairly timid to try and speak it with the Africans in the street but last week I finally tried to contact someone in Bambara, and it worked haha. I actually had a 45 second conversation with a guy from Mali in Bambara before I lost what he was saying and we had to start in Spanish again. It was a cool experience and we got his info lol.

Well, until next week! I hope everyone is doing great! Stay in touch!

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

June 11 - On the Lord's Errand

Well, I would have to agree with President Monson. I remember one time he said that one of the best feelings was when the Lord uses you to answer the prayer of another. 

We had a lot of great tiny miracles this week. Some of them were a bit more comical but it's still worth telling. On Thursday we always eat with a certain member and she always gives us A TON of food. Well, as usual, she gave us a bunch of food and on top of it all she even gave us some oranges to take with us. Well, I didn't really want them, but I put them in my backpack because I figured I could do something with them later. Well, later that night we were in a cita to drop one of our investigators because he was fairly lazy and didn't want to fulfill any of the commitments we left him. We had the cita, and at the end, we talked about prayer, and we asked him if he had prayed to know if these things are true, and he went on to tell us he isn't even sure if God answers prayers. Well, we couldn't help him anymore and we ended the cita, and on the way out, I picked up my bag and it felt super heavy. I had no idea why so I looked inside, and I saw the three oranges that I had received earlier in the day. I had already been carrying them all day but for some reason right before leaving I felt like they weighed a ton so I thought, "Well, this guy is in a rough economic situation, this is going to be weird and random, but I'll give him the oranges." So I reached into my bag, and I told him if he would like a gift, and I handed him the oranges. At first he just stared at me like, "Are you crazy? What is this for?" But then he accepted them, and told me, "I work in construction and for the past week I have seen my coworker eat an orange during his break for the past 5 days and I thought to myself how great it would be to have some oranges, so I looked up and said 'Can you please send me some oranges?!' " That was the day before. So here I am, a 21 year old missionary who shows up the next day, randomly, with three oranges in his backpack and gives them to his man. Hahaha, he said he now believes that God answers prayers and that he would try again to know if the Gospel is true. Hahaha. How great. I just love it. What an awesome little miracle.

Another similar story happened on Saturday. There is a less active member who was baptized when he was 9 years old, and has been inactive since his teens. He is now in his 40's with three kids. Well, we passed by and chatted with him and this was probably the third or fourth time we had passed by. He has some bad health problems, and every one in the house is without work. Well, we talked and we really learned of how bad his situation is. He needs some heart medicine which costs 4 euros, to control the rhythm of his heart, but he didn't even have enough money for that. Well, after the cita we were moved with compassion so we went to the pharmacy and bought him his medicine and we also bought him some bread and rice for the family. Well, we return a few hours later and he opens the door, and we show up, SURPRISE! We have your medicine and food. Well, he was just speechless, he didn't know what to say. He likewise, after we left the first time prayed for a miracle so he could eat and buy his medicine. Well, the rest of his family are not members and they likewise were super grateful and they all came to church yesterday!! We talked to them and they all agreed to listen to the discussions so we are going to start talking to them on Wednesday. What another great miracle.

Well, those are two great stories for this week. It is a great feeling to know that the Lord uses you to answers the prayers of others. That is easily one of the greatest feelings. It feels good to be considered on the Lord's errand. I know that he really does listen to the prayers of every single person. Well, thank you all for your prayers! I know that the Lord listens to them, and gives me and the rest of the missionaries the strength to continue on. Until next week!!

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June 4 - The Legal System

This past week has been pretty fun if you ask me. I have had a great time. In fact, I almost got deported!!! Okay, actually, it wasn't that bad but I had some residency issues that I had to take care of which put a lot of stress on but it makes for a good story.

When you first come to Spain as a missionary you have to do your "empadronamiento" (like a census) in the city in which you are living. After a little bit you finally get a national residency card with your photo, fingerprint and signature. That is the national form of ID in Spain. The Spaniards have a different one, but it is basically the same thing. Well, the first one you get is only valid for one year. Mine expired back in  February but since the paperwork is an extremely long process and such, I just got the paperwork to solicit my second residency card last week. I opened up my packet, and the letter from our lawyer, Oscar, said that he wanted me to go to Alicante (a city 30 minutes away by train) ASAP to get the stuff done. However, the official government paper said that they requested to see me in Almería (a city 5 hours away by bus). The official cita was at 1030am on Tuesday. Well, I tried calling Oscar many times to ask about the contradiction but he just didn't answer the phone over the weekend. I later found out that his number was misprinted on the paper and I had been calling the wrong number the whole time. Well, now it's Monday and I finally got the right number. He told me to go to Almería the next day, so I then called Elder Thornley who is our mission secretary. He told me that I likely wouldn't be able to get it done in Almeria since I wasn't even living there anymore.

(Each province in Spain has an office where the foreigners go to request the card. I was now living in the province of Alicante, but the paper and Oscar wanted me to go to Almeria. I had previously lived there earlier in the mission but obviously not anymore. The problem is that to request the card in a certain province you have to live there. It would be like me trying to request a national ID card in Washington even though I live in Oregon.)

Anyways, I listened to the secretary's advice and went to Alicante instead of Almeria on Tuesday. Well, the people in Alicante told me that they can't do anything for me because the official government paper said to go to Almeria since that was where I lived when I started the papers (Another thing: I don't know when I started because it is all done in Madrid for me. So Oscar must have started the papers for me while I was living in that province). Well, now I realize that I can't do my papers in Alicante, but my cita in Almeria had already passed, so I called Thornley and he told me to get on a bus straight to Almeria, and in the meantime he would call and reset the cita. 

On Tuesday night we took the five hour bus ride from Elche to Almeria to make our cita on Wednesday morning. Well, we got there and there was a gigantic line in front of the building. Well, after waiting forever we finally made it in, and it was pretty stressful just because if they didn't allow me to get my card we would be in trouble. Well, we waited for awhile and then when it was finally our turn we went up to the desk and the guy must have been having a bad day because he didn't let us do anything. He said no and then no and then no again. I was trying to explain myself in Spanish as best I could but I didn't even understand fully in English. Eventually I went to the supervisor to talk to him and after a long conversation with him explaining the whole situation and all he finally let us do it. So that was that.

Then we had to catch a local bus to the bus station to catch our bus to Elche that left at 330. We got lost and missed the first local bus that left at 255. There was one more local bus at 309, and we got close to the local bus stops but we couldn't remember which bus it was so we asked the locals and two or three of them told us it was not the 2. So as the 2 passed on the other side of the street we didn't worry about it. We later asked the bus driver of the bus that we were going to get on and he said that his bus doesn't go to the bus stop but that the 2 does..... unbelievable. We had such a long morning and now we were going to miss the only bus to Elche that day. We needed a miracle. We were in the middle of nowhere, 45 minutes (on foot) from the bus station. We just needed a miracle. The bus to Elche left in 15 minutes. I don't think I ever prayed so hard in my head for a miracle. Well, that is when we saw it. The beautiful sign of an available taxi. He was on the other side of the street. We just couldn't believe it. A taxi would never drive over here in this part of the city. So we crossed the street even though it was red and weaved between the cars and pretty much jumped in front of the taxi. STOP!! We yelled. How long to get to the bus station?? 

"I don't know €5 or €6." 
"NO! How fast can you get us there. Who cares about the money!!" 
"Oh, umm... 10 minutes?"
"Okay, Go! Go! Go!"

I prayed the whole way. Just hoping that somehow he would sense our urgency. How "lucky" we were that we caught every green light and our driver was a maniac driver. We hopped off, paid the man, and ran in to the bus terminal. There it was! Our bus was still there. We ran on and showed our tickets, and then sat down in our seats. We could do nothing but laugh. What a great tender mercy from the Lord. Literally one or two minutes later and we would have missed the bus. 

Then we arrived in Elche five hours later and I met my new companion. (Elder Redd had left the day previous and Elder Mardones' companion left the day before as well so we were temporary comps for that day.) I met Elder Barbosa. He was born in Africa, but lived in Portugal for 8 years or so and then Spain before coming on the mission so he knows Spanish fluently, but doesn-t know any English. It will be a great transfer though. We are already having a blast. Perhaps some more miracles are on their way.

That is all for this week.
Thanks for all the support
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May 29 - Oh, the things you learn

This week has been fairly crazy. We are trying to manage all of the work we have and it is pretty fun trying to manage it all. Lately, we are stopping by all of our fechas and trying to animate them to keep going strong and it is working. A lot of members and even investigators are bringing their friends and family to church. This week I have also learned how to speak Bambara. It is a tribal language from Mali in Africa. We have an investigator who speaks it and has taught us how to speak a lot of phrases because almost all the Africans we see are from Mali. Now when I stop them in the street I can see, Stop for a second, I want to talk to you. Where are you going? What is your name? My name is... How is your family and a bunch of other random words. It actually has helped. I have been able to get a lot of people's info just by trying to speak to them in Bambara.
Speaking of Africa I just got word of who my new comp is going to be: Elder Barbosa! He is from Africa! He can speak Portugese and Spanish but doesn't speak much English so I will help him with that. Well, I will let you know how it is going next week because right now I am in Alicante and the cyber cafe is fairly horrible. It took me about 20 minutes just to type all of this. The keyboard keeps bugging out. Until next week then!!
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May 17


I hope everything is going well in Medford!! This past week was crazy. We had some extra elders come and work with us for a few days and so we just saw a ton of miracles. We talked to everyone and we set 8 baptismal dates and found ten new investigators in four days! MIRACLES!!! Also, would you like to hear some exciting news about how the Gospel is starting to be preached to every nation? President Clegg just opened up Northern Morocco. There is a small group already there, mostly Spaniards, and so President, decided it is time to send missionaries there. Now, THAT is exciting. The work is progressing well, and I am jsut super excited to see how it all turns out. My comp, Elder Redd, goes home next week and so next week I will receive a new comp again! President Clegg is just sending me all of the ones who are going home because that is now five companions in five transfers haha. All of them at the end of their mission. I have learned a ton from each one of them though. For all I know I will receive another one going home next transfer as well lol. 

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