Displaying items by tag: Missonary
Star Wars Day 2015 – Week 17
So today is STAR WARS day! And it is a P-Day. This should be fun, as I can celebrate this momentous holiday within reason. I should be able to enjoy the combination of these two events by doing something Star Warsy. This past week has been exciting. Elder Mahler and I got to go to the Temple which was awesome, as it always is when performing work in the Temple. We also met the Yeafoli Family. They are recent move in’s to our ward and they are SUPER missionary minded, meaning they love being able to help with missionary work and enjoy doing missionary-like things. Brother Yeafoli's 90 year old Grandma is living with them and she isn't a member. We hope to be able to teach her.
We had a really unique service opportunity this week. The Anchorage Public Library throws a massive book sale once or twice a year. And by massive, I mean massive. The lady said that through this sale they are able to gain between $20,000 and $30,000 for the Library. We probably moved close to 2000 books or more for them. This service was really fun, and they let us pick two books from the sale pile for helping them get all of them set up. That was really nice of them.
Other than that, not much else exciting happened this week. Oh, and May the force be with you this great Star Wars day.
Emergency Transfers – Week 18
So, this week has been pretty Chaotic. My Companion's headaches have gotten worse, much worse. We spent a great deal of time in and out of Hospitals and Clinics. It was so strange. I also was able to have several emergency exchanges with Elders Brock, Goodsell, Clark, and Vang. This is so that I could get out and do some missionary work while my companion was resting/sleeping.
So we actually had some really good lessons this week. Everyone is working to help me get out and work as often as it is logistically possible. I am so grateful for this chance and for those who make it possible.
He had another MRI on Friday, and the results came in this morning. He is going home on Medical Leave. I don't know if that reality has actually hit me yet. I've spent the past 3 and 1/2 months with him, and the last 7ish weeks taking good care of him. I have no idea what is going to happen to me, this area, or anything really. It looks like this is the end of my time with my trainer, Elder Mahler. It has been amazing. I have learned and gained so much from his tutelage and I will be forever grateful for my time serving with such a great missionary. I have a feeling that this is not the last I will see of him though.
Onward to Klatt – Week 19
Elder Mahler left the mission field last Monday night, and President Robinson flew out with him to Seattle. After he left, I went with the Klatt Ward Elders, I and am now sharing their apartment. The three of us Elder Clark, Elder Vang and I are now covering both the Klatt and the O'Malley Wards.
As you might imagine that means that this week was extraordinarily busy. We quite simply did not have time to worry about the menial things of this world. We tracted, and we actually found some people who are willing to listen to what we have to say, which is way cool. I had a blast, working in a Trio is the best (most of the time). We get to visit single sisters without having to make sure someone comes with us. However, there are a few downsides, such as the adjustment to teaching people in a trio, which is not as easy as one might think, but it still is fun. Other than that it is a blast!
It is strange covering two wards, but I since it is only till the end of the Transfer (May 25th). I expect that it will be just fine. Some exciting stuff is going down this week. The Missionaries all get our iPads on Wednesday. And we find out what is going down with transfers on Friday, it should be good. Also, I heard from Elder Mahler, he seems to be doing better now that he doesn't have that strain of being a missionary while trying to deal with the headaches.
So his work continues – Week 20
This week has been great! I have absolutely loved working with Elders Clark and Vang as we further the work of salvation. We have been covering both the O'Malley and the Klatt wards the past two weeks. It has been keeping us very busy. Another thing that has kept us extremely busy has been the acquisition of our iPads, and all that we have to do with them.
On Wednesday the 20th of May, Elder Nielson of the Seventy came and gave us some training on these iPads and how missionary work in the digital age will commence. The Alaska Anchorage Mission is one of 89 pilot missions for the iPads (out of about 400 worldwide missions) this means that we are very lucky to be able to use this technology in our work.
The training, from Elder Nielson (who gave a talk at last General Conference if you recall), was not what I expected which is very good. There was a deeply spiritual side to this training, and there was very little of showing us how to use these devices (which I am thankful for). We have been given safeguards that, as we follow them, will protect us from the garbage that is out on the Internet. It was such a good day.
The thing that stuck out to me the most from the day of training was something that Elder Nielson had said. He said that the Brethren Trust Us. This is very comforting, that the modern day Prophet and the Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ trust us to use these devices how they are meant to be used. This is just the beginning.
On Friday, I found out where I will be for the next six weeks and who my new companion will be. I will be staying in the O'Malley Ward and will be heading back to my apartment. My new companion will be one Elder Miller. I Haven't met him yet, but I will tomorrow. I’m so excited to be with the people of the O’Malley ward for another six weeks. I love them.
The Next Transfer – Week 21
So this week was great! I met Elder Miller shortly before Transfer Meeting on Tuesday, and we had an absolute blast working with each other this past week. Elder Miller is an amazing missionary. He works hard, and he loves to serve people. All great attributes in a missionary. On Wednesday we went by a potential investigator named Sandy. She is prepared for the gospel; I can tell. We had a great lesson; we left her with the Restoration Pamphlet and a return appointment for this coming week. She said that she would read the pamphlet and the scriptures it points her too. Hopefully we are able to have as good of lessons with her as our first one.
We also knocked on a few doors and were able to find a couple people willing to listen to the message that we share. It was extremely hot this week, but it was so much fun. During this hot time we ran into a man who thought those that Believed in God were either fakers or not intelligent. We talked with him a bit, and testified of what we know. That was all we could do.
One of the families in the ward moved out to Utah this past week, the Lemmons. They were one of the best families in the Ward. It is sad to see them go, but they said to keep in touch. I plan on doing just that. On Saturday, we did some service for one of our investigators, Sarah. She is elderly, and we mowed her lawn and weeded her garden. It was fun. She made us lunch afterwards, and we had a great lesson with her.
Later that day we met with the Hughes family, and we had a great time visiting with them and teaching them. Their son Josh is getting ready to be baptized, so we are helping them out with that.
Service and Finding – Week 22
This week has proven to be magnificent. We visited quite a few people and met with even a few that we’ve never met before. One of the greatest things we had happen this week, is that we got 2 new investigators, Janice and then later Yemeli. They are both strong in faith and devout members of their church. But they’re open to learning about the Gospel. Later we did some service for a member in another Ward, helping them move. That was quite a lot of work but incredibly fun. We also got a chance to help the Rilke Schule (a German School across the street from our apartment) move the stuff out of the building they were in. They are moving the school to a new location. And I did not mind helping them at all. The work here is moving along fast, and also time is flying so fast while I’ve been here.
Extra Service Miracles! – Week 23
This week was an absolute blast. All the missionaries in the Anchorage Stake got to go to the Temple on Wednesday, and that was amazing. The Temple is always amazing, but something about this time made it stand out to me. This time was most definitely spiritually edifying and very uplifting; it made me feel more motivated to get out and find people to teach.
Another highlight of this week was when Elder Miller and I got to help the German School, close to our apartment, move out of the location they were in and into trailers to await the completion of their new location. That was a really fun experience, especially since it was a German School. Also on that day (Saturday), we helped this nice lady named, Becca, move out of where she was staying into a new place. It took a while and the results of that even made the title of Today’s email. It was a great opportunity to help someone in dire need.
I believe that she didn’t have very long to move and had to be out that day, so apparently our help was paramount to getting her to where she needed to be. I hope everything goes well for her. Yesterday, in Sacrament meeting a Brother Pintar gave a talk. Now this was no ordinary talk. It was his conversion story, and it is an amazing story. He’s come so far in such a short amount of time.
Time to do some finding – Week 24
This week we had some pretty miraculous things happen. We did some service for a part member family. This service involved tearing out some insulation from the ceiling in their basement. It was itchy, but worth every fragment of fiberglass that got stuck somewhere on me.
I also got to know a missionary a little better than I did, and I found out that he likes Bionicles (though not as much as me). We chatted about that while on Exchanges this week. It was fun to talk to someone who knows about the wonderful thing that is Bionicle. However, that is just a temporal blessing to my missionary service. Now, onto some more of the Spiritual types of blessings
On Thursday we got to go to the Temple again since they have such a long backlog of male names. It was fantastic as always. I know that the blessings of the temple are great and that I don’t fully understand them, but that is okay. Then on Friday we had Zone Meeting where we received some training about how we are supposed to find people to teach and baptize. One of things was that we should be more specific about what we pray for. For example, some missionaries shared an experience that they had had earlier that week. They said that they prayed and asked Heavenly Father to place someone in the path at such and such a place and at a certain time. Then they found some really solid investigators that are truly prepared for the Gospel.
Elder Miller and I decided to do the same, and tell Heavenly Father where we are going to be, the place he told us to go, and when we were going to be there and that is when our greatest Miracle of the week happened. We came across Jeri. She had just gotten home from the vet and taking care of her really beautiful dog. Then we started talking and found out that she is friends with some members in our Ward. We had an amazing first lesson, and we have a return appointment. She took a Book of Mormon and said that she would read it and pray about it. It was such an amazing miracle to see find someone so prepared to receive the Gospel
Flattop – Week 25
So last Monday some missionaries in the Anchorage mission, Elder Miller, and I all went to Flattop. Flattop is a mountain that you hike, and it was quite fun to do so. The sun beating down on me caused that I drank all my water before too long. If it were not for the cooling towel that was sent to me by my mother, I would not have made it to the top. The top of said mountain is flat, hence the name. It was a fun hike. Not sure I would do it again so soon.
District Meeting this week was a blast, complete fun. We received some training on how to better find people to teach, and it is doing wonders for us. This week we finally got to move on to Stage 2 of the iPad use. We spent some good quality time cleaning up the records that have been left here for the past however long. We watched some training videos on how to use the new area book planner app that we will be getting very soon. It should be a fun experience.
Yesterday I gave a talk during Sacrament Meeting! It was a great topic from one of my favorite Speakers. President Uchtdorf’s talk, “Are you sleeping through the Restoration?” I had lots of fun preparing for and couldn’t help but toss in a quick Pokémon reference when talking about sleeping. The O’Malley Ward has been great thus far, and I look forward to whatever new adventures I get to have.
The Final Week in O’Malley – Week 26
So this past week was my last week in my first area, the O’Malley Ward. We got our Transfer Calls on Friday, and I found out that I’m off to the Willow and Memory Lake Wards. I will be covering two wards out there along with my new companion, Elder Wang. I haven’t met him yet, but he sounds fantastic. Willow is a small little community in the Wasilla region of the State; it is also where those Forest Fires were. I’m looking forward to some new experiences there.
At the same time, I am nervous about leaving the people here in the O’Malley Ward. I have made a lot of Friends, and goodbyes are really hard. Especially, if you love the people you have to say goodbye to. I have enjoyed my six months among these people, and I am sure that I will be able to keep some of these new friends for a long while yet.
I will greatly miss the Hughes Family, and I hope that I will get to see them once more. I will also miss the Jenkins Family; we had gotten rather close since they had us over nearly every week. Brother Pintar, I shall miss as well. He is amazing and so strong in the gospel. Also I shall miss the Powers Family. We did our Mother’s Day Phone Calls here, and we also ate with them often. They are an incredible family; I wish good fortunes upon them.
I have truly enjoyed my time among so many wonderful people, and I feel extraordinarily blessed to have known each and every one of them. They are all so dear to me. This coming week should bring many surprises and a great deal of excitement.
Retrospective – Interlude
With the many people that I have met and all the influences at this point, my final six weeks in the O’Malley Ward were some of the happiest times I had on my mission. I greatly treasure my experiences that I had during this time. I learned about hard work from Elder Miller, and I am grateful for his example to me as I strive to become a better person now that I am home from my full-time service. As I look back upon this time of my life it becomes clear to me that my time in the O’Malley Ward shaped my outlook in such a way that I became a more service oriented person. I enjoyed this time immensely. I wish I could thank in person each of the people that helped me along my way during this time.
Two Months down – Week 10
This past week marks seven weeks in the Mission Field and 2 months overall. However it barely feels like it. I am stunned to think that it has been that long already. Monday was great, I was able to write a few letters and get them sent off. Then Tuesday was transfers and it was so fun. Elder Mahler and I ran over to the Airport and picked up the Juneau Zone Leaders (A pair of Missionaries that flew in from Juneau.) Then we brought them to Transfer Meeting. Transfer meeting was great because we got to talk to other Missionaries from across the mission, and President Robinson spoke to us as all. It was pretty awesome.
That night we got to take Elder Russell and his new Trainee from the Philippines with us as we visited some members. (Elder Russell had previously served in the O'Malley Ward and so wanted to see a few members before he went back to Kodiak.) The rest of the week was great as well. Since we didn't get to talk to a whole lot of people, Elder Mahler and I decided to walk the one part of our area that we might run into people to talk to. What a success it was - both days we did it we found at least one person to talk to. We even talked to this 70 year old Veteran and man could he talk. It was great to talk with him and share a quick message with him. The best part - he wants to learn more.
Friday at another meeting we received the news that iPads were coming to the mission in May. It's pretty exciting as they will make the work go faster and be more convenient for teaching. Now on Saturday, we went to the Ceremonial start of the Iditarod. Elder Mahler and I got to be there and help at the finish line. (It was just the ceremonial start and not the real thing, but just as cool.) It was really neat. One of the Mushers said that we could pet her dogs if we wanted. Then once we didn't move she said, "Let me rephrase, GO pet my dogs."
Hard Working – Week 11
Elder Mahler and I have been getting out and working hard. Great it has been. We had twenty lessons this past week, and we are set to have even more this week. We should stay busy, which is good. One of the most spiritual lessons that I've had happened last week. We were visiting a sister that Elder Mahler and I hadn't met. She hadn't been to church in just ever since her husband died, (which was two years ago that day). I felt the spirit so strongly as we testified of the plan of salvation, and that she could be with her husband again. It was really neat.
On Saturday, our entire zone had some service to do at the Special Olympics. We cheered on the competitors, and they loved that we showed our support. Now I, not being a cheering type of person, even did cheer and my voice got exceedingly hoarse. But it was well worth it.
Promising Horizons – Week 12
This past week we have had some amazing lessons. One with Sister Cummings (who is fantastic to teach by the way); another one with Jared where we read The Book of Mormon with him - Jared is loving it and moving towards his baptism date of April 11th. We also meet with Keegan a few times and firmed up some details regarding his baptism which is this Saturday.
We have some great work lined up for Elder Mahler and me to go do. I'm very excited for this coming week. We have a Baptism, two more Lessons with Sister Cummings, lessons with many less actives, and in the midst of all of that; Tolkien Day!!!! Followed by my birthday, it should be a fantastic week!
Baptisms and Birthdays – Week 13
This past week has been singularly great! We had some truly spiritual lessons, one Baptism, a Birthday, and Sickness. All contained in the space of one week. So this Saturday Keegan was baptized. It was great! It felt so good to watch the fruit of our efforts and of the Lord’s work to come to pass. I also got to give a talk about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Then on Sunday I got be a part of his Confirmation. It was very uplifting.
Two days before that, though, was my Birthday! I had a great Birthday. We had some lessons, one with Sister Cummings and a bunch of other people. It was truly a great day for the work of the Lord. Also, Sister Poulson (the Mission Secretary) and Sister Jacob (Another Senior Missionary) told me some great news. My Birthday Box had arrived at the Office and I could come pick it up.
So, Elder Mahler and I went to go get the box. Unfortunately, we were too busy to have time to open it up until later that night. When I did open it I was joyously surprised at its contents. The socks were great and the Pajama bottoms were great too. Yesterday, the Library was closed and I got Firefly: The Game. It was so fun to play a board game with some other missionaries. The game itself is quite fun and will be a regular P-Day activity for a time.
Sadly, on Sunday (and little bit on Saturday and Monday as well) I was sick with "the bug" as Sister Taylor (Our Mission Nurse) called it. Apparently, quite a few missionaries in the mission had caught whatever it is, and I also had caught it. I'm now mostly recovered and for the most part back to work. To quote from Firefly, "No power in the 'Verse can stop me!"
#LDSConf April 2015 – Week 14
This past week has been great. We got our snow tires (studded tires) off; Elder Mahler went to the Doctor, Exchanges, Conference and more. So after emailing last Tuesday, we went on a temporary exchange so that I would not get our elderly investigator sick. Then we rested so that I could fully recover from the cold I had. The next day Elder Mahler went to talk to our Mission Nurse about a constant headache. She set up an appointment for Thursday for him.
We had exchanges that day, so I went with our fearless District Leader, Elder Dickson. We saw Jared and Sister Gore. They have both come so far from when I first met them. I love them and hope to see them Baptized soon. Elder Mahler has another appointment on Wednesday to get more information on the pain. Oh, Conference was great too.
I loved Elder Ballard's talk and Also President Monson's during Priesthood Session. It was great, and I loved watching all the sessions at the Stake Center, definitely a different and enlightening experience for me. The spirit was so strong and I could feel the sincerity of the messages being delievered.
Collecting never stops – Week 15
This week has been a neat experience. Elder Mahler's head has been hurting so bad a nap each day has been necessary in order for him to get through the day. Therefore, work was a little slow this week. Sister Cummings is so close to being ready to be baptized. She has read through Enos of the book of Mormon, and she loves it. However, she just doesn't know that it is true yet. Hopefully she will soon though.
However, on Friday things got a little interesting, at least for me. After his nap, Elder Mahler and I went to pick up my package from the mission office. It contained a shirt with a mechanical drawing of an AT-AT Imperial Walker on it. Then later, at some service, we were helping a member clean out junk from a storage unit of his, and I came across something really quite neat (at least to me.)
While moving boxes, I found the box to the Atari game of Star Wars the Empire Strikes Back. I asked if I could have the box, since he was getting rid of a whole bunch of junk, and the member said that I could have it. The Box is now sitting on my desk, holding the pictures that mom has sent me. Also, we got Transfer Calls on Friday. It turns out that Elder Mahler and I will be Staying in O'Malley for another six weeks. I'm very excited, he is a great teacher and a an example to me, and I love serving with him, so these next few weeks should be awesome!
The End of Training – Week 16
This past week has been pretty good, a little slow on the missionary work but overall not bad at all. Transfer Meeting went really well, and Elder Mahler and I are really looking forward to spending another six weeks together. On Wednesday, we got a nice surprise. Sister Cummings agreed to get baptized, and she wants to get baptized this Saturday. It is so exciting to see someone commit to follow Christ’s example and accept his Atonement into their lives.
Also on Wednesday we met Kiona. Kiona wanted to go to an English-Speaking unit as opposed another language unit even though most of his family attends a language unit which is why we came into contact with him. He wants to start coming back to Church, he is such a cool guy and I can tell that his desire to come back is real. He came to Sacrament this Sunday; oh missionary work is so exciting!
Retrospective – Interlude
At the end of my formal training as a missionary, I had much to be thankful for. Even though I had many more months to go, I still felt as though the first milestone of the mission had been reached. There was still much to learn and I am grateful for my chance to serve in Alaska. I am grateful for my family and their support throughout my mission. I am grateful for my friends and the people who cared about me. I have had so many experiences and it seems nearly impossible to share them all.
Thanks to everyone who made my mission the best.
January 2015 – Arrival at the MTC – Week 1
So, life is different, quite different, but not much of a shock. It may have taken a while to get here, but once I was here I loved it. My first day was a very long one, but that is just fine, I don't mind long days. Most of that day was a blur, but never once was I lost, because my companions: Elder Allen, Elder Stephan, and Elder Board were very kind and showed me around. That first morning, I met the rest of my District: Sisters Rose, MacNeil, Finch, and Strong. All these Missionaries are great; many of them have a few similar experiences to my own, except the getting lost on a mountain one. I got that one all to myself. I am amazed at how strong the spirit is when we are learning together, and I know that we were meant to be a district.
Elders Zabriskie and Powell were right about the MTC food. Tasty, but it really messes with the belly, the first day was the worst. My stomach gurgled and churned something strange, not painfully and not nauseously, just strangely. Going into day 3 it isn't quite so bad. I'm trying to eat only enough so I'm not hungry when I finish my meal in order to minimize my discomfort.
Now, Elder Board, poor Elder, when he was submitting his Papers he found out he had a tumor in his eye, and they gave him some meds. They said it should go away by the time he left and he'd be fine. Well, it didn't, and he had to go home, have it removed and then return to the MTC. If he recovers quickly he should still be able to keep his mission: Alaska Anchorage Mission. Elder Allen is a pretty cool guy, he would be one my friends if we were not on a mission. Elder Stephan is the youngest of five boys - and he has a little three year old nephew who wrote him a letter. He lives 20 or so minutes from the MTC so he has gotten several packages over the course of the past few weeks.
The sisters are pretty cool too. Sister Finch is from North Carolina and she has a slight southern accent, it's really interesting. She will be going to Reno Neveda. Sister MacNeil is from Arizona and she love ballet. She will also be going to Reno Neveda. Sister Strong is a registered Barber which is really cool. She will be joining the Elders, me, and Sister Rose in Alaska. Sister Rose is from the Des Moines Iowa Stake, which is really cool.
I found out that I am required to wear my suit jacket every day, all day except while eating and in the classroom, which makes it a very, extremely, overly warm experience. I'm so excited to depart for Alaska on the 19th, because then, just maybe I will actually get cold - just once.
Almost to the Field – Week 2
The wait to get to Alaska is almost over. I leave the MTC Monday morning at 4:00. So much has happened this week, Meeting with five Investigators (from the Teaching Resource Center,) seeing a general authority and his wife speak, and I even gave my first Priesthood blessing. Elder Nelson gave a wonderful devotional to the missionaries at the MTC. It was powerful and I felt that I needed to take a closer look at my diligence to the rules. It was moving and touching in ways that only God can describe.
The Teaching Resource Center (TRC) Investigators that we taught were completely awesome: We taught Lome in the mornings - he was a little difficult to connect with at first, but slowly became more receptive to the teaching as we went along. Jonathan is diligent with reading that I was shocked - he made it through 1st Nephi in only 2 days. He is from Alaska, so Elder Allen, Stephan and I could connect with him super easily.
Theo, oh, Theo - I love Theo. He is quite simply awesome. He lives in Vegas but comes to Provo during the week to take care of his Grandmother, who is ill. He asks the best Questions and reads what we ask him to read. Both He and Jonathan have agreed to be baptized, at least in character.
BTW: for those who do not know TRC is where nonmembers, recent converts, lifelong members, and recently returned missionaries can volunteer to offer the Missionaries at the MTC practice at teaching Investigators - Each person has a character and does not break, although some of the nonmembers wind up getting baptized every few months.
Oh my word, the classes. I probably have a really poor attitude about the Classes. It's just that I feel like I'm not getting much, if anything at all, from them. They are almost always at least one day too late to be useful, meaning that we had already figured out, on the fly, "how to do" whatever it is that we were learning about.
Journey to Alaska – Week 2
On the first day of the week, during the last watch, the alarm rings and I, Elder Dalin, not knowing how much sleep my companions and I had received, awoke. I gathered together my shower supplies and took a final Shower in the MTC. I returned to my room, where I got dressed and finished putting away my possessions inside the Suitcases.
And it came to pass, that after I, Elder Dalin, had finished packing, went to the Travel Office with my companions, Elders Allen and Stephan. As we arrived, we checked out of the MTC and were able to load our luggage onto a truck that would bring our possessions back unto us.
I, Elder Dalin, and all those who were departing the MTC that morning did step into a Bus, and did travel a Train Station where we waited for an exceedingly great time. I used this time to ponder and pray, thanking God for the opportunity to serve him in all his glory. The Train Arrived. Now it came to Pass, that we did depart the Bus, and traveled via Train to the Salt Lake City Airport.
We recovered our luggage and began to travel the way to the Gate, but not the gate of Eternal Life, only the gate to Anchorage, Alaska. After this had taken place, and we had met Elder Stephan's parents, who provided us breakfast, we then did Leave the Land of Provo, and did fly in the air to the Land of Seattle, home of the Seahawks, according to Elder Stephan.
And it came to pass that we did wait for our final plane to take us to Anchorage. Once we were safely aboard, I, Elder Dalin, did fall into a deep slumber, only to waken to a sweet cup of Nectar, nectar that was desirable above all other drinks. This nectar of apples was a great comfort to me, and I did drift into another slumber where I had a dream. I remember not the dream, nor what it contained.
Now it came to pass: after I, Elder Dalin, had landed and left the aircraft we did meet our Mission President and his wife, President and Sister Robinson. These servants of our God are of exceedingly great character, and are great people. Thus it came to pass, that I, Elder Dalin, did journey to the Mission Office for Orientation.
And now it came to pass: that on the second day I, Elder Dalin, did depart from my companions and did travel to the land of O'Malley so that I could be trained. Elder Mahler took me to the place where we would rest our heads at night, and we dropped off my possessions. Then it came to pass that we did get some sustenance for our bodies that we might better serve our Lord, thy God.
Now, after all this had taken place, I was introduced to the area, and did partake of some dinner from a Brother and Sister Bybee. Then it did come to pass that I, Elder Dalin, did meet the Malouf Family and Brother Pentar. Thus it came to pass that I did unpack and then laid down my weary head.
February 2015 - Fun Times and Stuff – Week 3
This week has been awesome. My Trainer, Elder Mahler, is a great Missionary. He is diligent, obedient, and a great Trainer. The best part: even though we are opposites in terms of hobbies and/or interests we get along really well. We even have some of the thoughts, like eating healthy.
And now it came to pass: That after I, Elder Dalin. Just Kidding, not doing that for a while.
The members here are awesome! They are truly generous, and love to feed us - which is mostly awesome (just not for eating super healthy and losing weight.) But that is all good. I love it here. Last night is was -2! Awesome! I love it. I actually put on a pair of thermals. It was great.
Throughout the week we did some tracting, which is interesting. A lot of people are not home during the times which we are doing so. However, since we do not have our afternoons filled with appointments, it is really one of the best things we can do with our time.
This first week has been a wonderful time of growth and learning, and I cannot wait to do more of it. I know that what I've been doing is the right thing for me and that I left exactly when I needed to. All is done on God's time.
Meetings: Life of a Missionary – Week 4
Anyway, on Tuesday I had District Meeting, which is was really cool to talk to the other missionaries in my district. Afterwards we went to Olive Garden to get lunch together and it was very tasty. I was just going to pay for my meal, when our server said that someone had already taken care of the bill. I was happily surprised. So was everyone else, as our entire district which is about 10 missionaries had their lunch bill paid. We left with the thought of extreme gratitude in our hearts.
The next day, we had Zone Conference, which was filled with much training and much laughter. I got to visit with other missionaries and even talked a little with President Robinson (My Mission President, in case you hadn't caught on yet.) Elder Mahler and I left and continued the work.
Then on Thursday, we had a "Trainer Trainee Training," which was super neat because I got to talk to Elder Allen, and Elder Stephan, and even some other Missionaries that I don't get to see. We learned about more effective study and we did some training with teaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So fun, and we went back to work.
That night we had our apartment inspected, and apparently it was so good that Elder Dunn (the Alaska Anchorage Mission Housing Coordinator) named us the Housing Missionaries of the Month and each Elder Mahler and I Five Dollars each. The funny thing, The apartment wasn't even that clean, it was passable at best. Hey, if Elder Dunn says its good to go then I'll accept it.
On Friday we cleaned our apartment, we took out no less than seven huge bags of junk that had been left behind or forgotten by previous missionaries. That night Elder Mahler exchanged me for Elder Goodsell, and I became the companion of Elder Farmer. The exchange taught me a lot. Elder Farmer is a great missionary and really fun to work with.
As we talked, he called me the Animated Movie Hipster, which is partially true I guess. Anyway I met an investigator named Kim, who had survived a terrible fire. Her story was amazing, and she is so willing to learn. I also met Sister Webb, who has SO MANY ANIMALS. And I mean a lot. She let me feed her “Puddle with eyes," and hold one of her many snakes. Also as we (Elder Farmer and I left) her dog went into labor and had a puppy.
Like I said, this week was crazy and went WAY too fast. If every week goes like this, I'll be home before I even began. I love this work, and am having a blast with most days. I'm so glad I came here and I love it. Also - It isn't that cold here. The coldest it got was one below. And due to how dry it is here, it feels warmer than Iowa minus One. Maybe I'll get to Fairbanks, and actually have to wear many layers; right now I'm fine with my shirt and a Sweater or the liner to my 3 in 1.
Chrono Trigger: Totally not a Nerd Joke – Week 5
This week went so fast it felt like I was traveling through time. I got my first package from home this week. We tracted for a few hours this week. This week was fast, and I mean fast. Yesterday I looked at the calendar and was surprised that it was in fact Sunday! I do not know if a fast week is good or bad yet, but I'm leaning towards good. On Thursday, we got a new investigator. His name is Jared, and he is seeking for the truth and is so ready to learn about the gospel. I'm so excited for him.
Friday I went on another exchange, this time with Elder Vang, who is Hmong. We actually went over to a member's home and made them dinner. Elder Vang and I made 5 dozenish Spring Rolls. They were very, very tasty. It was exciting and I loved spending the day with Elder Vang. Like I said, this week went way too fast. I cannot even remember how much we did this week.
General Authority Visit – Week 6
So, in one of my emails last week, I said that today, Wednesday the 18th of February 2015, that Elder M. Russell Ballard would be visiting the Alaska Anchorage Mission and speak to missionaries on his way to Asia. As it turns out, it was one step better. I, a missionary - merely myself, got to shake his hand. But that is for later; for now I shall report on the previous week. What a crazy and completely zany week I had. First we had a wonderful dinner with the Chavez Family. A really neat family - had Guacamole made in the Central American style.
On Wednesday, a week ago, Elder Mahler was sick - and I had to stay home most of the day. But all was not lost for the day; I got to do a lot of Personal Study. I also had some time to turn on some music and just ponder over my studies and draw a little bit. I was happy to return to missionary work the next day.
What a day, what a awesome Thursday. Elder Mahler and I got to go with other Missionaries and bag bales of straw for use as bedding in the Iditarod. WHOO! Yeah! So much fun, got to throw lots of Straw, got straw into every crack in in my clothes, filled my lungs with Straw dust, and had hands that looked like they had been through a wringer. But, It was so much fun, and guess what - I get to do more Tomorrow!!! I love service! Later that night, we picked up another Investigator and taught him the Restoration. So much fun, Keegan is.
Friday, the crazy day. Also Friday the 13th. So, the week before Elder Mahler got a phone call from one Jeff. Jeff was less active and Elder Mahler had helped him become reactivated and was going to the Temple for the first time in over a decade. Jeff then invited us to go with him, and we had clearance from President Robinson, so we did go with him and sat in a Temple session. The cool thing about it, was that the brothers outnumbers the sisters by a significant margin. Nearly all the Brethren were there for Jeff, and the session was overbooked by the way. What a simply amazing day.
Next up is Saturday, the super zany Valentine's Day. So, around noon we get a call from the Zone Leaders, Elder Vang and Elder Nichols, asking if we wanted a third missionary for a few hours. We said of course as we needed someone else to go with to an appointment today and everyone else had "Valentine's Day" things to do. So Elder Russell showed up at our door during lunch, and we found out that he was serving in the Kodiak Island Area and was awaiting his flight back there, as he had come up for a Zone Conference. We took him to our appointment and it went amazing, and we also gave a Priesthood Blessing.
Then we went to visit several families, as Elder Russell had previously served in the O'Malley area. After that we were driving him to airport - which was awesome, got to see a bunch of Anchorage this day. We waited and the Zone Leaders brought his companion, and then we left to return home. But, we got a call from the Kodiak Elders and Elder Russell had left his Scriptures in our truck - And their plane left in 20 minutes. Fortunately, they were flying Ravn which meant that they didn't have to go through security. We turned around and hauled back over to the Airport to return his Scripture to him, 5 minutes before the plane left. Also, I saw my first moose as we driving to or from the Airport. I cannot remember which. Wow, that's a pretty awesome week, yes?
Then, Between Monday and Yesterday, Elder Mahler and I were able to through the Spirit of the Lord invited two of our Investigators to be Baptized on specific dates. And they Accepted, both of them. Now, finally, after an entire week and half worth of Crazy and Zaniness, we come to talk about the Visit of Elder Ballard. But first, coming out of morning sports at the Chapel I saw a second Moose - this time we had to walk past it to get our Truck, it was awesome.
Now, during Personal Study we got a text from our District Leader, which said that Elder Ballard and Ronald A. Rasband of the Presidency of the Seventy wanted to shake the hands of every missionary at the meeting with him. When we got this news it took a few minutes for it sink in and then another few minutes before I got back to studying.
The meeting was awesome; it was at our Stake Center (that is the Brayton Chapel as it is called.) The moment he entered the room, the spirit flooded the entire chapel and there was not room enough to hold all the excitement and spiritual energy in it. As both Donald A. Rasband and Elder Ballard spoke, it was amazing, I took a few notes here and there, but mostly I just listened to them.
The thing that stuck out to me the most this day was something that Donald A. Rasband said: "I want you to be a full purpose missionary. A full purpose missionary is one who does the work with the last five words of the missionary's purpose in mind."
Those last five words are: and Endure to the End. This means that what he telling us to be, was to teach with the temple and the end in mind. I am so excited to be working here in the Alaska Anchorage Mission. It brings me great joy, and I hope I can give that joy to others.
Also, Break-Up (what Alaskans call the beginnings of spring) apparently has arrived early. The past few days have been filled with nothing but slush and ice. No snow, in fact, the Iditarod is starting in Fairbanks this year due to the lack of snow. Temperatures are in the 40s and 50s, it is crazy.
March 2015 - It’s beginning to look like Break-Up – Week 7
So, this past week, (or half week rather,) has brought warmish (at least for me,) weather to the city of Anchorage. Rain has melted much of the snow and turned the roads into a sometimes slush, sometimes icy mess.
However, that did not discourage us. We went to the Iditarod service on Thursday and carried around 50 pound bags of Dog Food to be sent out to the various checkpoints and what not. It was fun and not taxing at all. We waited in a line for about 5-10 minutes then got a bag, then moved it the location where it would be stacked, Stacked it. Then we went to the back of the line again. Also, I got to talk to Elder Stephan for a while during our service, it was great to talk to him, and then to return to Missionary work. All has been quiet for the rest of the week, just Missionary work which is great fun and very enjoyable.
We got another new Investigator, by the name of Ian. He is a great kid. His mom is a member, but he is not. All-in-all a great week, and there is another amazing week ahead of me, as on Wednesday I get to go to the Temple again!
First Transfer over – Week 8
Last Monday, after I emailed home, we went to get our groceries for the week and one Sister Hammer from another ward came up to us and told us to put out stuff in her cart and that she would pay for our groceries this week. Two other missionaries had already been found by her, so Elder Mahler and I did the only thing we could think of to do and put our stuff in. I am so very Grateful for her charity.
This week has gone by so fast. We taught a bunch of lessons this week. Jared and Keegan have been rolling along, almost like the Juggernaut. Nothing seems to slow them down. My first Transfer is over and Elder Mahler and I will be staying in the O'Malley area which is fine because Jared and Keegan are scheduled to be baptized this transfer. We have even begun to walk around a little bit, in light of the mild weather (not even requiring a Sweater) to see if we can't find some people that way.
I'm so excited to see what the next six weeks brings me. I cannot believe it has almost been two months since I left for the Mission, time has gone by so fast and I am loving every minute-second or however long the Missionary adjustment in the Time-Space Continuum actually is.
Retrospective – First Chapter
It is strange to look into my past and see how far I have come. I know that this is what I needed to do in order to become who I am today and to achieve my future goals. However, looking back over these experiences, I really feel as though I grew a lot over a very short period of time. My entire lifestyle had changed in the blink of an eye and I could no longer remain who I was, I had to adapt to survive. These first eight weeks taught me the importance of focus and diligence, as well having compassion upon your fellow creatures. Yet, I still hadn’t fully embraced what it meant to be a missionary or what it was to serve others. This is something that I would still have let to learn.
I would also like to thank all those who had made an impact during this formative time of my life, and special thanks goes to Taylor, who had shown me so much and taught me how to become the best missionary I could be. I loved my time with my trainer, and I had a lot of fun during my first few weeks, it was a complete blast. Even with all the rules we had to follow we still had much fun and could enjoy ourselves a little.
By word of introduction, I have recently returned home from serving a two-year full-time mission in Alaska for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To clarify, I was not paid; I did not get to pick where I went, or when I got there, nor did I get to do a great many things that I would have liked to do with my time. I would now like to share my feelings about my experience, and how my service to others has truly changed my life. I have seen myself grow and change as I carried out my labors, I am not a different person because of my time in Alaska, but I am a better person. I want to share how I got to where I am today with those who may have questions about my time in Alaska, or who have questions about missionaries in general, or even those who have questions about the church.
To begin, I am at heart a child of God, a storyteller, and a gamer. My mission did not remove or add to these aspects, but it shaped and made me into who I am today. I will share a little bit about who I was before, but will not dwell on that subject as it is of little consequence.
I was your average teenage gamer guy – always playing something. I had strong violent opinions that I would post on the internet in the comment section of YouTube or Reddit. I will not apologize for that way, as it is in the past now. I would merely talk of writing, starting a blog, creating things. My ideas were childish and incomplete. My dream had no shape. I was foolish and naïve, my previously mentioned strong opinions were often formed by the words of others.
Now, I am different. I am still a gamer. I still love playing games. I collect a lot more games now than I did then, and I play them a little less often. I am intrigued by the stories and the worlds of games as I was before, but now I can sift through the good and the bad on my own. YouTube is not as frequent of a visit as I had made in the past, I still watch some, but it is all related to my industry and to uplifting messages and stories.
My worldview changed as a result of a set of experiences that I had while serving a mission in Alaska. Let me say this just for the record: missions are hard.
I do not say this lightly. My two years as a missionary were grueling and challenging in every way, physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. These were also the two most rewarding years of my existence to date. The value of the experience is far beyond the financial cost of serving, of being away from home for two years – putting my whole life on hold. Regardless of how difficult it was, all of it as a whole was worth it.
The physical effort was to be expected. I received countless advance warnings regarding this. Physical strain was the easiest of the bunch to overcome, as it merely took sleep and some rest to bounce back, and even though there were times when it was more difficult than I had anticipated, rest still came and my physical strength still returned.
Emotionally, it was beyond exhausting. Trying to deal with not only your problems, but those of everyone else simply because you had a nametag and were far from home with a calling that made you somehow responsible enough to deal with all those problems at once was more than exhausting. You had so much responsibility trust upon your shoulders and you still might have had your own emotional problems to deal with, and maybe something was going on at home that also caused distress. Sometimes it was maddening and sometimes infuriating. This was a lot more difficult to overcome, as my usual tried-and-true methods of dealing with stress and anxiety (gaming, reading a fantasy novel, and other such things) were not available to me while I was still a missionary. It was an issue that simply never went away, and I cannot begin to explain with words that I currently know how much relief came over me when I finally realized that I would not have to deal with this level of intense emotional stress once I returned home.
Honestly, I could spend thousands of words to describe all the ways in which the emotional drama of serving a mission was seen as a nigh impossible obstacle to overcome. Nevertheless, even with all the hurt and many hours spent in emotional pain, the growth and experience from it was worth it. Serving others in nearly any way, teaching people about Jesus Christ, and being able to share my love of people with them was worth every ounce of pain, drama, frustration, illness, weakness, and trial that it cost.
From there, mental struggles were minimal at best and disastrous at worst. Sometimes I would go weeks without being able to release my mental creativity and that was probably the second most difficult thing to deal with, which also then fueled all the emotional stress that was going on. For the most part I was able to jot down ideas and create some small simple things. Even so, I was not actually able to sit down, staring at a blank page and with black markings create beautiful vivid stories. However, I am able to do just that to the fullness of my heart’s content now, so that pain while a sacrifice, was short-lived. It was reasonably easy enough to overcome.
Now, I do not mean to complain about my mission, or make you care about my personal struggles. I merely mean to relate my feelings, so you can understand the environment I was in while these changes were happening to my outlook and my desires and how that affects the way I live now.
Spiritually, while being exhausting, the time spent away from home serving those around was actually refreshing and energizing. For the most part I enjoyed this most out of all my other responsibilities. Service was the one task that no matter the day, even if things were rough emotionally, made living apart from those I cared about joyous and worth every tiny molecule of sacrifice. As long as I was serving others my spirt could rejoice and find happiness. This is where the majority of my growth has come from.
I love to help others, and I choose to see the good in people. I give other the benefit of the doubt, even when all others see only the black part of what could be and choose to think the worst of them. I choose to embrace all cultures and people regardless of where they come from, and I choose to be generous to everyone I can be. Being nice instead of rude, and being genuine and happy instead of fake and miserable. I choose how I live my life.
I have gained much knowledge about the world, the way people are, and the gospel. I know that regardless of the hard times and unpleasant memories and feelings I was meant to go the great Last Frontier and to serve the Lord and his children there for a while. I have completed that chapter of my life and I have returned to apply what I have to become the best version of me that I can be. I hope that you will enjoy this journey you will take with me.
Over the course of the next year, I will recount my experiences, and will share how I grew from each chapter of my mission. I will be revisiting each of my weekly letters home, grouping them by section and then posting each as a chapter of the full chronicle of my mission. The purpose of this series is not to convince or coerce anyone to believe anything; nor is too make anyone feel anything for me. I am merely sharing my personal feelings and experiences that have shaped how I view the world.