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