Merry Christmas!

December 30, 2013
Hello, hello family!

Christmas Morning
What a pleasure it was for me to talk to you this past week! I couldn't believe how much fun that was! I was very glad to hear your voices and have them so easily recognizable to me even though I have not heard them for quite a while :P My companions were talking about their little brothers' voices and how they sound completely different from what they did when they left haha. Kelsey's voice was the same :P

[What did you do on Christmas Eve?] So on Christmas Eve we did some fun things but not too much out of the ordinary. We got home after meeting a super cool new investigator and just video'd us making up Christmas rhymes. We gathered around the tree to do that with our presents under the tree. It was very enjoyable and I will always remember it.

Kelsey's hooded towel gift
[What did you do on Christmas Day?  Tell us about the family you had dinner with.] Christmas was a little bit more fun. We woke up to our presents and we opened them just like everyone else on Christmas and then we went on a run with Bro Hovermale in the ward. It was a lot of fun and much needed.

Miracle Doritos
Christmas loot!
I loved all of my gifts and I didn't feel like I was missing out at all, thank you! I even got three giant bags of Doritos on the doorstep on Christmas morning. Christmas Miracle!

Then we went to the Beamer family's house to call and have wonderful french dip sandwiches! They are one of the favorite families I have met on my mission and the mom is actually from Guatemala so I get to practice Spanish with her. It was wonderful to eat and be in a nice home for a bit and watch a nice mormon message about Christmas.

Elder Stoddard

Afterwards we went to the Loose family Christmas dinner and that was way fun filled with excellent food! The Loose family is wealthy and we met their son and some of the extended family. They are the nicest people and Mrs Loose asked to be our Anderson mom a while back :P They take good care of us. They run a mortuary here in town but they sure are lively. hehehe They want us back after the new year :D

[Have you received the "Dear Elder" letters yet?] I have not recieved any dear elders last week but maybe I will today :) I won't find out til later though because mail gets here so late but on the bright side I am going bowling! Woo-hoo!

Don't think I forgot dad!
Best 40 cent gift ever! Happy Birthday!
[We've heard rumors that this is a 5-week transfer week and transfers are scheduled for Wed. I don't think this effects you. Does it?] So for this transfer it's still 6 weeks but for those that are going home they get to leave a week early. So there will be a week before the new missionaries replace them. And transfers are on a Tuesday I believe. 

[What advice would you give to future missionaries to prepare for a mission?] The advice that I would give to anyone preparing for a mission is to read the Book of Mormon daily and on top of that, study Preach My Gospel a lot! More than anything study chapter 3 (the lessons) and know the scriptures to use for each point of doctrine. Then you can practice everything that goes on top of that. Also, study chapter 1 and remember that your purpose really is to baptize. These people can't really go anywhere without it. We always invite people to be baptized on the first lesson. That is evidence that you understand your purpose.

Elder Stoddard, Fivas
Reynalda, Hanson
So that's it for the questions yeah? Here are some of my thoughts :)

Elder Hansen
Elder Hansen is an expert missionary so it really is a pleasure for me to report what I have learned recently. I also learn great missionary skills from Elder Stoddard so some of these things I have learned from him. I can more easily get into a door now when we are 225ing. [225 is a method of tracking where you contact the neighbors of a member 2 doors to the left, 2 doors to the right, 5 doors across the street]  It turns out that when you have built a relationship on the doorstep, people will usually let us in if we just ask to share our special message! So simple! 

Elder Seegmiller (left) and Elder Beckman
are two of my favorite people ever!

Being a zone leader really puts you in the driver's seat and the other missionaries look to you for an example. I was not used to that entirely and Elder Hansen sure is a good leader. I have learned from him to make decisions, to use wisdom and look at the deeper questions people have, to recognize the principles in the questions, and to meet needs with doctrine and scripture. He has shown me how when teaching investigators and with the missionaries in the zone. 

Goal setting is such an intense and eternal pattern and I am learning more about the power that it has on an executive level. I have learned to worry about others' goals and situations and how to coach them through planning to achieve their goals effectively. I can help other missionaries by discerning their needs and meeting those needs with training or encouraging calls, boldly loving, or going with them to set the example. 
Elders Stoddard, Hansen, Fivas

All in all I see more of the organization of a mission as a whole and I am striving to work through the spirit to excel in my responsibilities and help others excel too.

Elder Hansen has instilled in me more of a killer instinct as well. I am not near as easily deterred when challenges or rocky paths come my way. He can baptize. He has taught me to just go out and get our investigators baptized and push through all of the challenges. (The way God would of course)

I have seen that in action as we've baptized three people together this transfer! How blessed are we!

So I am still growing, excited for every day and excited for the future, and a much better Elder than I was 4 weeks ago.

I sure love you family! 
Elder Fivas

Preparing for Christmas

December 23, 2013

An Indiana sunrise. 
First and foremost my wonderful family, I do want to apologize for some misfortune. I sent you my Christmas package but it is incomplete. I had bought you cards and a memory card and filmed a video of me talking but I lost them!! I couldn't believe it :( So sorry about that, your gift was supposed to be a little cooler. They still haven't turned up... But Merry Christmas and know that I tried haha

[What have you done for service opportunities?] So I don't think I have done any service projects since I have been here. It takes a little explaining. So with my super trio we are hardly ever all together to do anything like teaching. We either have a member out with us or another companionship in the zone to learn from us. So two of us go out and the other one goes on a temporary exchange with the member or another missionary so we cover twice the ground. Yeah baby! It works well. Last week we actually had 14 lessons taught with a member present. (which is a key indicator) I have never gotten close to that in spanish work haha plus we taught 12 lessons in one day last week. Good work here! 

Our good friend Reynalda got baptized last Friday! It was a wonderful turnout and program. I just can't believe how strong the spirit is at a baptism. Mmm it's just something savory! I will send the pictures. 

So last night for dinner we ate with the Jackson family and it was a blast. They keep drum sticks velcroed under their table so they can drum on the table and glasses and stuff. So we layed a sick beat with everyone playing a different part of the beat. It was so fun! They are a neat family! I just love so many people that I meet here, it makes me hope that these people that I love even will remember me. Anyway, we had a wonderful lunch with the Rodeman family. They are wonderful and so nice! She took pictures so hopefully she sends them. They even gave us awesome Christmas presents. I haven't opened mine yet because I decided to wait until Christmas but that is so thoughtful! She and her husband are very sweet and are some of the best people I know. We always have a good time when we see them.

[What do you do on your p-days in your new area?] For preparation days we usually just nap after we eat something delicious. No frolf or anything like that, but we are planning on going bowling with the district next monday.

[What are your plans for Christmas Eve and Christmas?] For Christmas we have the other half of our preparation day until two where we can open presents and then clean :P We are ending our preparation day today at 1. I am going to Great Clips and I can't wait for that! I have been cutting my own hair for a while and I think Great Clips will look a tad better :P 

Dinner of cookies and ice cream thanks to Linzi Kelsey
So we are having a lunch with members and they are going to let us use their phones. We get 35 minutes again so be expecting my call anywhere from 2-3:30 my time, depending on whether we eat or call first. 

Then for dinner we have this awesome family that invited us over. They met us at the country club where they fed us and they like us enough to invite us back! What a blessing to have a non member family invite us for Christmas dinner!! Other than that we will be teaching and caroling and bringing baked goods just like every other day ;P

[Tell us about your mission Christmas program] The Christmas program was way hilarious and very nice. They called up 12 acts on the spot and had them each do a little thing in their groups whether it be hula dancing or reading Twas the Night before a Kentucky Christmas. Very funny. Then we had a spiritual thing in the chapel with singing and line reading much like a primary program, just less cute and funny :P

So life rocks. I miss you a lot actually. It is so different to have Christmas out here away from what usually matters most. But I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am eternally grateful for the families that take care of us out here while my own family is far away.

The Book of Mormon is a healing balm to me or anyone and is the most powerful book on the planet. Christ is real and so are the feelings he sends us by the Holy Ghost. Focus on that for Christmas and your life will very much be improved.

That's all for now! Talk to you later this week!!! I am so pumped!

Elder Fivas

p.s. I was cross country skiing on the road :P Makes it more fun!






Happy 20th Birthday!

December 16, 2013
Big 20th Birthday!

Hey super family of awesomeness, wonder, and joy!
Thank you so much for the birthday presents! Linzi Kelsey sent me some "awesome sauce" cookies and Sadie sent me a wonderful package as well, and Elder Boekweg spent time on telling me happy birthday with a cool little gift! I was very happy for all of it thank you. The earmuffs rock!!

Pin the tail on the donkey!
So every week out here in this trio is just packed with fun and stories but I can never remember all of them! I write it all down in my journal though, so there will be stories told as I get home! Haha I feel like dad. I don't know anything about his mission except for the things that I have asked about. 

Elder Stoddard's turn
This week we were pretty successful and we have a couple of baptisms coming in December. I am not used to this kind of success rate, it's almost hard to believe. We are teaching an 18 year old named Austin, who I love! He reminds me a bit of Tony [Archuleta] so that helps. I hung out with him at the Christmas party and I just think he is awesome. He is reading the Book of Mormon and has the date to be baptized on Dec 28th so we'll see! Also there is a 13 year old girl named Reynalda who is way cool. Her dad is a member and he is from Mexico so I get to talk to him when we teach her. She will be getting baptized this week or the next. I am not sure yet, it depends on her plans because she has a busy weekend coming up.

Spearman Candy
This week I had Filet Mignon for the first time. It was way good! But I had another dinner Monday night that was the fanciest I have ever had. Our High Councilman on missionary work is the head of the chamber of commerce here in Anderson and he sets up meals with people he meets there. So we had dinner with the owners of the race track and casino here. It was so much fun! They talked us into getting more than we could handle on purpose. So I got a very expensive steak with a very expensive lobster tail and two appetizers and delicious cheesecake and a salad. I can't imagine ever eating like that again but it was one of the best meals of my life! Sooo good! I forwarded a picture to you mom. This couple was just so awesome! 

Homemade candy on my birthday
We all got horribly sick last week. On Tuesday Elder Hansen and Elder Stoddard were puking every couple of minutes and I felt fine so I just smiled and enjoyed my good health. Well I got my turn soon enough. Thursday was awful! Haha I was so sick! I puked everything and then more. It hit me when we were out going to appointments though haha. So we went to the wrong address for an appointment and stopped the car and then it started to really hurt.. So I got out and puked :) Miracles! Haha we stopped in time and it was a convenient place. But then we went to teach Austin at the coolest-recent-convert-ever's house and we taught him. During the lesson I did pull over the garbage can and use it however haha. I threw up and then looked up and said, "Surprise!" I went back to hurling haha. It's a good thing I am already tight with them. So there's a story for you!

Kelsey's gift to her brother.
They like to exchange strange gifts!
I was mostly better by the morning after a long night filled with gatorade and the shivers and more throwing up. I missed you mom and dad quite a bit at that point haha. So I enjoyed zone conference with Elder and Sister Perkins from the first quorum of the 70 in the morning.

Now to answer questions!
[How did you spend your birthday?] I spent my birthday getting over my new shrunk stomach with a regular day and a fantastic dinner with the Dunnigton family. Birthdays just aren't the same out here. But I did cook birthday bacon and get sparkling cider and ate treats. Pin the tail on the donkey was fun and different! Great idea!

Sadie's Superman banner
[Do you have a Christmas tree?] Our Christmas tree has one strand of lights and that's it haha. It's in the background of some of the pictures I will send. We have plenty of people who will give us ornaments though so please don't buy any.

[Can you FaceTime us on Christmas?] I don't think that I am allowed to Facetime for Christmas but we'll see. President hasn't said anything about that yet. The Indiana mission had an hour and a half for each missionary of call time and Columbus did 35 minutes so I have no idea of when and for how long haha.

Elder Smuin
[What are your plans for Christmas?] We will just continue to do the same work! Probably make a lot of heart-softening cookies for the people we know and teach! There is a Christmas zone conference on Thursday though, maybe we'll know more then.

Elder Bowden
[What do you want for Christmas?] For Christmas, all I can really think of is I want everyone to send me their favorite flavor of Doritos. Haha That's seriously at the top of my list, Doritos. My watch broke and the one you resent me died so maybe a cool watch :) And I would like a nice razor for shaving. What I seem to enjoy the most out of packages is pictures so those would be good. Maybe even videos from y'all. I can watch those :) I feel like I will think of more things when it's too late to tell you :P

On a worldly note, I really want A Rocket to the Moon's new CD to have when I get home :P Kind of a lame list huh? ha

Elder Parker
Three Assistants who have influenced my life forever.
They fly home today.
[Do you still get to use your Spanish?] I still get to speak Spanish for a couple minutes about once or maybe twice a week. I do make it a priority to read el Libro de Mormon so I keep up though. I will not allow myself to lose my ability to speak Spanish.

Elder Channel in a creepy car wash, haha
[How often do you speak in church?] I haven't spoken in church here yet but I do bear my testimony on fast Sundays if there is time.

[How often do you give blessings?] Not many usually, but lately I give almost two a week here. People are sick and depressed here. 

Elder Stoddard was with us in the creepy car wash
[Has there been a time in your life that you have had this much fun and have been this consistently happy?] I really am having the time of my life out here. It's definitely not a perfect ride and there are plenty of hard times but you push through those times. The Book of Mormon and prayer are the keys to any difficult time. That's a simple truth. I can get down but it never lasts for more than a couple of hours at a time. God always gives me a break :P 

You know I love blankets with the heater vent!
There have been other times where I have been this happy yes, Junior and Senior year, BYU, and the summer before Junior year are times where I can think that I have been very happy for the majority of the time :)

A mission is crazy awesome and there are really special things here that you couldn't replace anywhere else.  And your crazy to not go on a mission if you can. (Sisters are different) But that's the same for me in high school as well, and college. Same with family and friends. There are things that are hard about everything but there are special things that can't be replaced about those same things. Good question mom :)

Well that's it for this week! I will send pictures!
Loves
Elder Fivas

Response to Hosting the Elders

December 16, 2013

[The following is an email sent from Brother Kyle Morey, the High Councilman Brayden is working with, to Brayden's Mission President, President Porter.]

Hi President Porter, 

We recently arranged for our elders here in Anderson to meet with one of the top executives, and her husband, of Hoosier Park Racing and Casino---one of our largest employers in the county.  She actually hosted them at the restaurant within their facility (on the racing side, no worries about gambling :-)). 

Although she was hesitant at first to do so, I thought you would enjoy reading her response to my follow up survey: 

Dinner with Jahnae and her husband at the Casino
hi Jahnae, you are a superstar!  Thanks again for hosting them last night and snapping a picture!  Very nice.

By way of a simple follow up, would you answer the following short survey?

What were your overall impressions of the missionaries? 

I thought they were polite, very presentable, intelligent, well-spoken and gracious.  They were good communicators (great listening skills) and worked well together as a team. 
What topics came up?

Too many to mention.  You know me, I talked a lot!  We asked them many questions about their parents, hometowns, siblings, girlfriends, friends etc.  We spoke about their goals, the mission, their timelines, plans for the future etc.  We talked about how they help folks, what they say to people who agree to speak to them about their faith and what obstacles they have had to overcome as a result.

They also gave us a brief summary of the tenants of their faith. 

What, if anything, did you learn new about the LDS faith? 

I learned more about what wasn’t true, actually.  They dispelled several myths and they were very non-aggressive with that.  What a sacrifice these young people make!  But, as they informed me -  they get much out of the experience (greater life success, personal fulfillment, better communication skills, confidence, good judgment and maturity.)

I am hoping to find other influential people like you who would be willing to host them, would you recommend anyone at Hoosier Park or in your network? 

I mentioned to them, that I’d like for them to meet a group of friends of mine who typically gather on Tuesday nights to dine.  But, since next Tuesday night is our Holiday dinner and shortly thereafter the holidays,  I’m not sure when I can make that happen.  I did tell them that I wanted them to meet my son, Drake and his friend Nate.  I’ll start to figure out how to accomplish this in the near future. 

I think my biggest takeaway was this:  While their beliefs and lifestyles are very different from mine, they were respectful of our differences and because of their casual communication styles and overall “coolness”, I felt comfortable with them.  Leading up to our meeting, I wasn’t sure that I would (feel comfortable).  Thank you for introducing me to them, Kyle.  

[Another email sent from Brother Kyle Morey to President Porter. ]

President Porter,

Merry Christmas and greetings!  Just wanted to share a quick note from one of our more prominent business owners and community leaders in our area [I believe they are funeral home directors] who recently hosted our elders serving in Anderson. Thank you for sending these find young men our way!!  >>>

Kyle,

We really had a good time with the three missionaries.  Two of which are not feeling very well. [I believe Brayden wasn't sick this day] Elder Hanson said two of the three got food poisoning last night and were sick during the night.  (Kyle, I am SO bad with names and the only last name I can remember is Elder Hanson's name because he made a joke about people get it confused with "Handsome"!)

But the Elder from Idaho (although the other two told us that their family has moved to Idaho since they have be missionaries) [Elder Stoddard?] had a bad cough along with the food poisoning.  He was very kind and well spoken, but I could tell he was miserable because he didn't feel well.

Jane and I would like to take them out again when ever they have free time.  Our schedules are hectic and we are last minute planners.  Elder Hanson has both Jane's and my cell phone, but we failed to get his.  If you could get me any of their numbers, we could call or text them if we are going to a nice restaurant, an event or if I am cooking up something that the said they liked.  Especially over the holidays since they are probably missing their family over the holidays.

Thanks for giving us the opportunity, we introduced them to a few members of the club and they were very much gentlemen.  We really learned a lot and hope they had a good time.

Sincerely,
Rob & Jane

Fun, Experiences, and Memories

December 9, 2013

My goodness this week has been so long!! I feel like I have a transfer's worth [6 weeks] of fun and experience and memories here! And then I remember I still would be very lost without a GPS here haha.

Hangin out with a couple of Assistants
Elders Fivas, Bowden, Hansen,
 Parker, Stoddard
Life is good and very fun here in Indiana. The work is on the up and we have wonderful people that we are teaching who will be baptized. There is James and his family who I love and talk with. They made us delicious marinated pork chops just for fun. I have been down in Richmond on exchanges with fantastic young missionaries Elder Beckman and Elder Seegmiller. Great stuff! Elder Seegmiller is in the same stake as the Thomas family, he lives in the neighborhood west of them. He knows Logan. 

Just goofing around
[What are the responsibilities of a Zone Leader?] So some other responsibilities of a zone leader is to go to leadership council at the mission home once a transfer to learn and be trained and to pick up supplies to distribute to your zone. We [do] exchange[s] a lot to train and we analyze weekly key indicators to see what we can do to help the zone get better. Also we meet with the Stake President (who is awesome here, might I add) and it's a great training for real life. President comes with us and evaluates over dinner afterwards, tons of fun and growth. 
So the Walters family from Tooele sent me a letter telling me that they used to live here in Anderson and they gave me some people to look up! I am way excited for that and it was a thoughtful letter, thank you. Who would've thought? [Our good, good friends,  Lori and Glen Walters, spent 3-years in Anderson, Indiana where their first two children were born.  Their oldest son, AJ, is serving in Guatemala, and is a good friend of Brayden's]

I have a ton of pictures to comment on and send so here I go. 

Elder Hansen
Elder Stoddard
Elder Hansen



Elders Hansen and Fivas celebrate 
Stoddard's birthday. Bacon for breakfast


Pork Chops with James and his Girlfriend




Homewood Street
(Elder Homewood was his trainer)
The Ohio River




The last supper with the EastCherry bros. With my first Monster...