Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Elder Call Sings, Makes Sisters Cry; New Discovery in Book of Mormon

Well, Elder Call's dad was slothful last week. . .seems like the work piled up higher and higher and I just couldn't get through it all. But we did receive an email and a couple letters from Elder Call:

25 March 2009

Dear Family:

Thank you for sending your letters. It's lot of fun to read them. Elder Burton doesn't get a lot of letters; that's probably because he's been out a little over a year.

Things are going well here. We still only have one investigator, Mona. So we do a lot of tracting and walking. Not very many people are real receptive. This Saturday night we are going to officially swap wards with the sister missionares in our stake. A ward they cover is right across from us, and a ward we cover is very close to them. It will be really nice to have it so close. We have pretty much tracted everything in our area.

Tell everyone "hi" for me and that I am doing well and love the mission. Please tell Rachel and Rebecca that I love reading their letters (I don't know if I will have time to write them back) and I'm sorry I haven't written them much.

Last Thursday we had zone conference. It was really good. Some sisters from one of the Pocatello stakes who have sons or daughters serving missions right now prepared lunch for us. It was really good. We then stood and sang, "Called to Serve" for them. It made some of them cry. I don't know if it was because they were touched or because it hurt their ears!

Congratulations, Mary, on being called to be Mia Maid president. I know you will do great.

By the way, I came across something totally strange. The Book of Mormon is talking about the wars, then in Alma 46:40 it talks about using medicine! I thought that was cool.

Again, thank you for the letters. I love to read them. Tell me how things are going.

Love you all,

Elder Call

Monday, March 16, 2009

Photos from the MTC Arrive!

Today we received the long-awaited SD card of pictures from the MTC! Elder Call sent about 50 photos, and I've posted some of them here. . .

Our district. Front row, left to right: Elders Kilgore, Davies, Michener, Taylor, Parastino. Back row, left to right: Elders Anderson, Blacker, Fielding, Floyd, Call, and one of our teachers, Sister Billings.

Statue of Samuel H. Smith, the first missionary of this dispensation.

My Ministerial Certificate

Elders Davies, Taylor, Floyd, and Call

Packing up!

Our district on our last day. Our branch president, President Caldwell, is in the back row standing on a chair. He has been very kind to me and very helpful.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Elder Call Arrives in Pocatello; assigned to Pocatello West Stake

The sun wasn't even up when Elder Call and ten other missionaries awoke at 4 a.m. to leave the MTC on Tuesday, March 10, for their journey to Pocatello. We weren't sure what mode of transportation they would take to get there--after all, Pocatello is just a hop, skip, and a jump north from the MTC. But it turns out he and the ten other missionaries were blessed with a fun ride in a 26-seater prop plane to their own personal fields that are white and all ready to harvest. Here's his email from 11 March 2009:

Hi Dad,

That is great that Brother Stewart is in the Stake Presidency, I had a thought that it might be him. That is exciting to have a new stake presidency!

Today is the our first real day in our areas, but it is preparation day so it doesn't really count.

Yesterday was exciting. Our plane had room for about 26 passengers. There were 3 passengers and 11 missionaries going to Pocatello, it was tiny (propellers). Our flight was only about 40 minutes and we landed in Pocatello a little after 9:00 AM.

We went to the mission office for a littler tour and then to the mission home. We spent most of the day in the mission home for orientation. It was good but we were all really tired. We had to get up at 4:00 AM and leave the MTC at 5:00.

We had an interesting flight, the plane was vibrating the entire time, and sometimes it felt like it was fishtailing.

The mission had a transfer this morning and we were all assigned our companions. Mine is Elder Burton. He is pretty nice and fun. He has been out for 13 months and spent 5 months in Ririe. Elder Burton said there are a ton of Wheelers in Ririe. [Elder Call's paternal grandmother is a Wheeler.]

He is from the same stake as Grandma and Grandpa Call in Texas. His dad was the high councilor over the Bedford Ward for a while.

President and Sister Somers are really friendly. They told me that they know Brown Monument [Elder Call's maternal grandfather's business in Logan, Utah], and have had several family member's headstones made there, including President Somers' dad's headstone. They also say that Aunt Carole Brown was their gym teacher and they loved her.

I am assigned to be in the Pocatello West Stake. I can't remember which Stake the Evans are from, could you ask them and what ward? Elder Burton says we cover 3 wards and that is small. He had 18 wards once and that was a nightmare. It is really weird to think that they had to correlate with 18 ward mission leaders!

I am kind of nervous about it all, but I am sure that within the next couple of weeks I will get over that. Elder Burton says that the mission goes by really quickly.

What is going on at home? How are the youth doing? I'm sure that Ryan, Dan, Jared and Aubrey are excited to be finally graduating. [Tell all the young men they] need to come out on a mission soon, it will be great, and they will have a ton of fun at the MTC! Tell them that they shouldn't delay going on a mission, that they will regret it and that the longer they wait the harder it will be.

All of the people here in the mission are great. Elder Burton and I are pretty much complete opposite. He is very outgoing. He is cool and will be a good trainer.


Elder Call

Monday, March 2, 2009

Elder Call's First Week at the MTC Much Better than his Dad's

It's really a difficult thing for a 48-year-old dad to remember what it was like 29 years ago as I entered the MTC. I don't remember very much, except that the food was great and the Spirit was strong. I do remember the awesome teachers and some of the wonderful--and not so wonderful--missionaries in my district. Of course, that was before they raised the bar, so I'm sure all the missionaries in Elder Call's district are wonderful.

My own journal entry six days into the MTC says,

12 September 1979

Today was an interesting day.

We went to the temple early in the morning—went through one session, then had a question-answer period with President Gunther, president of the Provo Temple. That was really neat. I felt so spiritual—especially when I was sitting in the Celestial Room. It was great—I love the temples.

Then we had class in the afternoon. I said the prayer—I was quite nervous. It went alright, though.

Tonight I realized that I’m not working up to my potential. I’m really not. I've got to get on the stick.

But for this Elder Call, who is much more prepared than I was when I entered the MTC, life sounds much better:

24 February 2009

Dear Family,

Thank you for your letter, Mom. I got it yesterday. Rebecca has sent me three letters so far, and I appreciate them all. Sorry I am sending both these letters at the same time. I have had virtually no time for this type of stuff. Today is preparation day. Generally we are only allowed to write on preparation day. The only exception was on our first day.

All four elders going to Pocatello are in my district and room. There are no sisters going. My departure date from the MTC is 10 March 2009. That is a lot later than I thought it would be. But I am glad that I get to be here so long. The first day is a confusing whirl; the second is very long and tiring and you feel as if you have absolutely no idea what's going on (because you don't). The third day is the same as the second until about 4 p.m. Then you still have five hours and 30 minutes until you go back to the residence hall, and one hour on top of that until lights out.

The fourth day you feel as if you are getting into the swing of things and have an understanding about what is happening. Fifth day (Sunday) is amazing.

Though I feel as if I know what is going on, every day I learn something new. . .I love it here.

The classes are pretty astounding. Our teachers are probably two of the best teachers I have ever had. I look up to them so much and am very grateful that they are my teachers. . . .

The most amazing miracle I have seen so far is the food. It is all so good. Even the stuff that doesn't look that good. But the real miracle is that about 2/3 of the way through I think that I am going to need seconds. But then I can barely finish my first plate. And they are not huge portions. I know it sounds very silly, but it's true. . . .

Say hi to everybody and tell them I am doing well and am very excited all the time. Our schedule is 16.5 hours. And every minute we have something planned. Last night I saw that it was 5 p.m. and I was very disappointed that we only had four hours left.

Love you all,

Elder Call

In Elder Call's Own Words. . .

It was a normal day in Roscoe, Illinois. . .with the distinct pleasure of having Mary Ann and John home from school because of some sort of teacher holiday. The sun was shining, the weather was cold, and I was working in my new home office. Later in the afternoon, I came back from a meeting in Rockford to find Shannon and the two kids very excited. Why? Because Elder Call's first letter finally arrived! Actually, so did his second letter--he sent them together. So here are some slices of Elder Call's life, in his own words. . .

18 February 2009 [first day in the MTC]

Dear Family,

I am so excited to be at the MTC! It is so much fun and amazing. I wish I could tell you everything that has happend, but there is so much. . . .

We had a meeting with our branch presidency about things. We all bore our testimonies and introduced ourselves. We then had a private meeting with the branch president. Later, in that meeting, they said they were going to assign junior and senior companions and a district leader.

After they were all done interviewing everybody, they came in and said they had chosen senior companions and the district leader. I knew then that I was going to be both. They announced that I was. I haven't felt nervous about any of this until I was called to be district leader. I hope I can do it well.

Love you all,

Elder Call