Christmas 2014

Christmas district meeting
December 29, 2014

Hey family!

Christmas surprise for a recent 
convert family (Elder Tanner)
I must say that I love your letters mom and dad! They are always so fun to get and to read. It's good to be reminded that I have a family, hahaha. The pictures mean the most probably. I was so pumped to see Elder Boekweg's picture of him singing. I love that man so much. He is a stellar friend.

[How was the rest of your Christmas?  We got a short video of a few Elders sitting on a couch singing.  What was the story behind that?] We were at the Partlow's for Christmas and they took a video of us Elders singing because it was "As sisters in Zion" at first, if I remember right. But I wasn't sitting on the couch nor was a singing that loudly, haha.

[What do you have planned for today?] We are going to play some chair soccer later today with some of the ward members including the Partlow's. It's fun to do some active things. We already went shopping but I didn't buy anything. Actually I got some sweet American flag socks :P I wasn't planning on buying anything but you know how that goes. Not too exciting but it feels good to play and hang around.

[Are you able to get together with friends for New's Year's?] For new Year's eve we are going to our friend Jamie's house and she is making us dinner. She is such an awesome friend! And she loves the Book of Mormon!

Christmas this year was so awesome! Christmas Eve was also great. Christmases on a mission are so special. You get to focus on others the whole time and that makes the season even better. Spending time with the people I love here is getting extra special to me. Everything comes to an end in this life ya know? I don't think I need to say more about that :P
Rally's and fake mustaches!! 

That Monopoly board that you got me for Christmas just floored me! I didn't know what to say, it was so awesome!!! I can't wait to play on it. I am trying not to think about the new phone either but I am getting kind of excited for a couple things :P It got way real when Bro. Frack whipped out his iPhone in Elders quorum and I realized I have one of those too haha. 
Elder Tanner's fake mustache

Anyway, those are my thoughts for now! We found a lot of new people to teach last week and that was good. I had a great time in Liberty on exchanges too. Party on Wayne!
All-you-can-eat Breakfast bar at Frisch's!!

Elder Fivas

Christmas Program

It was my birthday morning! (Wearing Kelsey's gift)
The assistants surprised me with birthday bacon.
December 22, 2014

[Did you get Nana's Card?] I did get some awesome gifts in the mail for my birthday after I emailed on Monday.  Thank you Nana and Johansen family! My birthday kept being awesome even after the day passed. All of the chips are keeping me so happy too! Doritos warm my heart. 
Such classy gentlemen!

[How has the Christmas season soften hearts to the Gospel message?] The Christmas season brings out the best and worst in people that's for sure. I am surprised how many  people are losers and don't want to hear about "He is the Gift" or won't accept a card to watch the video. But the work does really well when the members are taking us caroling and that is a blast. So Satan steps up his game to stop us from ours. Oh well, he'll lose. I have been learning a lot of patience lately. 

Speaking of patience, the Post Office said you won't get the package I sent you until Friday. But I still get to talk to you haha, time is the best gift right? I will be going to the Maddy family's house to FaceTime at 1:00 pm here. So we have 35 minutes to talk and I will call around 1:15. 

[Tell us all about your Christmas Devotional on Dec. 16th.] The Christmas devotional this year was pretty fun and a nice little breather but it was not even close to as fun as last years I must admit. I sang "When Joseph went to Bethlehem" with the elders in my zone and that went ok. My other song was with sister Harding and I felt bad for her because I didn't make it a priority to practice :P I had never heard the piano part for our song and so when it was my turn to sing a little solo I sang completely off key or the wrong notes. It was honestly one of the most embarrassing and horrible experiences of my life. But I can laugh about it and all my buddies told me "oh man you killed it! Yeah boy!" Their word play is funny ;)

We watched meet the Mormons and that was by far the best part of that program. Elder Whiting actually had the best part with his testimony. But those two things were definitely the highlights. 

[Where are you spending Christmas and what are your plans that day?] The Howell family is taking care of us Christmas Eve and the Partlow family has us for Christmas. We are finishing our preparation day on Christmas until one and then finding and teaching and baptizing! 
"Meet the Mormons"

Well today one of the Tongan ladies in our ward is taking us to Chinese Buffet and I am so excited for that!

 Love you family, Merry Christmas! Remember He is the gift!

Elder Fivas

A Rockin' 21st Birthday

December 15, 2014

I had a rockin' awesome birthday!

Thank you so much to all of those you sent some love in the mail! I got it and then some! The cards from grandma and the Boekwegs and from the Woods were all super cool and very much appreciated! 

[How does it feel to be 21 years old now?] I don't know how different it feels but I guess 21 does say a little more life experience than 18 does. My birthday itself was sure an awesome experience though.

[How did you celebrate your birthday?] It started with Elder Stoddard and the Assistants showing up at the apartment with birthday bacon, a tradition started a lifetime ago in Anderson Indiana. Then I opened the packages with everyone together and everything was just perfect! I appreciated all of my favorite things packed into little bundles of joy and all of those chips [Doritos] are a dream come true. Elder Sunderland went nuts for the Bible Videos. 

Elder Sunderland, Kaeden, Elder Fivas, Brittany
So Kaden Saunders came into town this weekend. He was my first Zone Leader and served right here in Hamilton when I knew him. He is one of my heroes and it was a blast to spend the day with him. He was here because our friend and recent convert, Brittany, just went through the temple for the first time. She'll be at BYU-I at the start of the semester.

A hugely awesome experience was that I got to leave church a little early and Brittany and Kaden drove us down to Western Hills so I could see one of my friends there get baptized. It was such a neat experience. Quite a fun baptism too. I got some texts from some people that mean a lot to me out here too. It was all cool. 

[So, what's the story behind the "power stance"? What does it have to do with the Hamilton t-shirt?] So the power stance was made by Elder Tanner and Elder Clare and we think it's awesome so we throw it up as a zone whenever somebody says or does something worthy of it or we get excited. The Hamilton has a dependent unit meeting in downtown Hamilton too (Bishop Foister is still their Bishop) and they meet at a different time so we end up with about 5 and a half hours of church every Sunday. Elder Tanner and Elder Christensen are in charge of that. It's super cool and it's successful so far in getting people in that area to come back more.

Elder Sunderland is holding a chicken
at the farm where we do service.
 Farms are actually pretty fun
when it's not full time. haha
[Is the mission having a Christmas party?] The mission is having a Christmas Devotional Day tomorrow for our half of the mission. I am pumped for it! It appears to be really musical. I have to sing a duet, and [again] with all of the Elders in the zone. They are really reaching out if they need me in two musical numbers haha

Love you much! I am trying to see what I can do for you all for Christmas!


Elder Fivas

#He is the Gift Initative

We did service at a farm.
It was way fun dumping manure
and petting the horses and
chillin' with the donkeys, pigs and goats
December 8, 2014

Exchange Party!
[How has the Christmas Season affected missionary work?] Missionary work during Christmas is way fun so far!

In the world, all the missionaries are all about the "He is the Gift" initiative. We are using that sik (awesome) video for a lot of things. We have not seen any success directly from it just yet but it will come fo show. The cool pass along cards are all the rage. Did you get some in your Ensign? It's super interesting to see all of the social media things that the church is doing. Still can't use it in the Greater OCM though ;)
Elders Day, Tanner, Sunderland, Fivas

We actually went caroling with a member family as a part of the mission's plans to use the initiative. The Anderson's are way cool. It was a lot of fun to sing and invite ourselves into strangers' homes to use their computer. It only worked all the way once, but the spirit was felt at every door to be sure. 

Elder Fivas and Elder Tanner
[What was your District Leader Specialized Training all about last month?] The Specialized training was to prepare us for the #socialmediasplit last Saturday. It was fun and I would say that ours was a success. Sister Jewell is the awesomest cookie baker ever! She was so gracious to host us. I love her sons too, they help us a lot. She even fed us after we used her stuff to make cookies for investigators. If you google #socialmediasplit I am sure you will find pictures of me.
Elder Tanner and Elder Sunderland

[How is it that you Elders didn't have to change over from backpacks  to shoulder bags?] We were kind of grandfathered in to the backpack rule :P I was already out when they started telling people to only bring carrier pouches so they never made us go buy new things. So when missionaries get here, they sometimes will just buy a backpack :P I very seldom use a backback though. That's the perks of having a car. I have my scripture case with pamphlets and that's all I usually need. Elder Sunderland even gave me an oil vial keychain that I put in my case. That case as seen so much. Didn't I get it when I was 8? My scriptures are still in great shape because of that nice case though! I do love that old quad.

[Are you going to be transferred this week?] I am staying in Hamilton to finish out baby! Which is great news! Elder Tanner is still here and Elder Sunderland is still my companion. It will be a bummer to not see so many of my friends' departing testimonies tomorrow but I will deal.

We partied on exchanges this week. It was awesome haha. I saved the glow sticks for such an occassion. Elder Sunderland has a great strobe light on his bike light ;) PARTAY
Is this the morning after the party?

That's all I can think of for now family! I love you all very much and was thinking of you on Thanksgiving so it was cool to see pictures of Uncle Brian's [Fivas] house. I am looking forward to thuggin with family again.

And happy belated birthday Grandma!!!! I saw that it was her birthday [Dec. 4th] because of haha

Elder Fivas

Thanksgiving 2014

December 1, 2014

Mom!! Happy Birthday tomorrow!!!! I didn't even need Nana's calendar to remind me of it :P Make sure Tio Danny is nice to you ;)
Turkey bowl apparel

[How was your Thanksgiving?  What did you do on Thanksgiving?] Thanksgiving was an awesome time for me! The package you got to me was super thoughtful! I am trying to make it for dinner with an investigator couple ;)
Thanksgiving Dinner #1

Thanksgiving Dinner #2
There were a couple of families that fed us on Thanksgiving with more willing to do so! The Fife family fed us and so did the Nissen family. It was such a good time! Food is great and I love being with Elder Tanner and Elder Day in the same ward as Elder Sunderland and me. I just have a good time here. We started off thanksgiving with a turkey bowl (football game) and ended by giving a new investigator a plate of leftovers. 

[What would you like for your birthday? (Dec. 14th)] The only thing that I could think of wanting was a key chain oil vial for blessings. Then Elder Sunderland gave me his extra one. haha 

I think the new "He is the Gift" initiative is great! The video is so simple and profound! I am grateful for all of God's gift to us, especially His Son. I have been getting closer to God lately. I was starting to cut corners unintentionally because I was leaning on experience. That's a no-no! I have focused once again on being accountable to God and setting goals by the Spirit and then seeing grace as God's hand is shown in the work we're trying to participate in. I know God lives because I have walked with Him. I am glad He got my attention again!

[What would you like for Christmas?] I really do enjoy the Institute manuals. I only have the Book of Mormon Institute manual (I think for Religion 121) right now. But I would really like to have the one for all of the church canon.

awesome chinese buffets baby!
The new Religion 211-212 New Testament manual looks so enticing. Those would be a great gift but I wouldn't need those out here. Preach my Gospel is more than enough ;)

Golden Dragon Buffet
President Porter has a list of books for RM's to read too, and I am very excited to read those. I am interested in the biography of Elder McConkie too. There is sooo much to learn out there! Also! There is a dictionary replica of the Webster's dictionary in 1828 which would be an awesome resource to have as well as Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible. If there are electronic versions though then no need for an expensive book :P

pottery fun day
[What do you need?  Anything wearing out?] My clothes are definitely wearing out :P But I can make it two months! 

my dream car in blue!
[Are you freezing there yet?] It is getting pretty nasty cold. The cold here is different. Even without wind it just pierces you. But I have good winter clothes and a car.

Also, Rally's burgers are way good. 
Anyone ever had one?

Frisch's boi!

Thank you so much for everything, parents!!

Love, Elder Fivas

I'm Thankful For...

November 25, 2014

Hey family!

Yesterday we had Mission Leadership Council so we have preparation day today!  

[What was the highlight of your week?] I held a snake last week! That was pretty cool. We had a great time with the Ault family last night for family home evening as well. It made me miss playing Monopoly even more but I can deal. 

[What are your plans on Thanksgiving Day?] For Thanksgiving we are going to play some football of course! We have a couple families that invited us over for dinner which was really nice. I am eating Thanksgiving dinner with the Nissen family in the evening though. Holidays are such great days to do good work! There are so many families together and we can just share messages of gratitude for days!

[What are you thankful for?] I am thankful for many, many things. My prayers have actually become a topic of discussion throughout the mission. I was going to tell you about that when I got home :P So I tried to make prayers really meaningful by being thankful for things that people might take for granted. For example I am grateful for drywall, cardboard pizza boxes, and a functioning postal service. (Life would be much less great without them, right?) Anyway, it became a distraction in the mission and missionaries would start saying prayers like me "to be seen of men" President Porter feared, so he asked me to knock it off haha. 
Elder Tanner

I am most grateful for lasting friendships, for eternal families, for peace that comes from the Gospel, for the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and for our Savior and a loving Father in Heaven. That is definitely not a comprehensive list.

Bishop Foister and Bro Robertson in the ward have been showing us their sweet 1820's replica dictionary which helps define words in the Book of Mormon because of Joseph Smith's language in his time and their "Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible" which shows original meaning in the greek and hebrew words in the original old and new testaments. They are really cool! Does anyone know what I am talking about?
Elder Sunderland

[Do you have any experiences with investigators and family history work?] I have a little experience with showing investigators family history work. One of our mission's goals is to have every convert meet with a Family History Consultant before baptism. We went to the temple with some recent converts after helping them find their own [family] names to take. A new rule is that we actually can go to the temple once a month with new converts if they have never been to do baptisms for the dead. That is an exciting twist! 

[What are some responses you've had when investigators understand temple work for the dead?] Investigators are totally stunned most of the time when they learn about baptisms for the dead. It's a pretty unique thing to Christ's kingdom, isn't it? Once they go to the temple and feel the spirit of the work it solidifies one's testimony quite well. President Porter teaches us that 80% of recent converts that go to the temple in the first 90 days after baptism, stay active. I haven't been around ever to see any of the recent converts I have taught make it to the temple while I was still there.

Elder and Sister Wilfred Anderson
President and Sister Porter
[What was this "mission tour" with the Anderson's I saw on Facebook?] Elder and Sister Anderson of the Seventy came to our mission. It was a neat experience for sure! The spirit rebuked and humbled me quite well during the leadership meeting. I had stopped asking God for forgiveness. I tried really hard to be better as a person and representative of Christ, but it's pointless if we aren't relying on the Savior for help to do just that. So I started asking for forgiveness in prayer and peace has once again been restored :)

I sure love you mom and dad! The Thanksgiving package is great! Gifts like yours and Nana and Andy's and the Woods sure warmed my heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you.


Elder Fivas

2015 Ford Fusion, baby!

November 17, 2014

Hey, so I have time to write your answers this week haha!

"It was my companion's birthday
this last Monday!"
This pass week was a good one. We had people come to church that we weren't expecting and the Partlow family did an awesome job at friendshipping our investigator family. The Partlows take care of us ;) 

We also got a new car this week! Haha 2015 Ford Fusion baby! I have been so blessed. I drive better cars here than I ever will in my life haha (It's my third brand new car.)

2015 Ford Fusion
55 miles
[What is your monthly budget?] So we get $140 dollars a month but we are given $70 at a time. I have never run out of money until last week because I bought the PVC pipe to make the blow guns for the nerf stuff. Usually gift cards or the Woods or Nana ensure that I don't run out of money ;)

I just try to live off of coupons and the dollar menu and I usually turn out fine. [How often do you have dinner appointments?] We'll have dinner appointments about 3 times a week here which is the best I have ever had. Some members are trying to rally the troops to get us more though. They do love :P I do love member dinners. It's nice to have the time with member families to get to know them and have a spiritual experience together over good food. 

Elder Tanner
[How often do you eat at home?] So I eat at home maybe... 2 or 3 meals a week? Haha I am actually kind of famous for how much I go out to eat :P I will buy pb and j material as a back up and then eat out with the good stuff :P Sister Porter told all of the Sisters in the mission to NOT eat like Elder Fivas haha I just love eating out, it's the closest thing I get to a break :)

[How many lessons do you usually have scheduled in a week?] You still have to remember that I am only 20 years old and still can't plan very well :P But for lessons actually taught, it is Standard of Excellence to have 20 overall lessons taught.
"$.50 corndogs at SONIC, BABY!"

[How many of those lessons are member referrals?] Member referrals are very exciting to get because they are very rare haha. The best missionaries are less actives. That's where I have gotten all of my member referrals. So referral lessons in a week from a member? Once every two months if you're good, and that's from semi-active members ;) Maybe I just don't know how to work with members very well?
Elder Tanner's $.50 corndog

Elder Sunderland's $.50 corndog
[What is your mission's Standard of Excellence? Does it ever change?] Our Standards of Excellence don't really change. For leadership you need 20 lessons overall, at least 4 member present lessons, 4 new investigators, and 2 at church. 

Elder Day finished his $.50 corndog
[How often do you meet with your Zone?] We see the whole Zone more than most because we are a small zone of 8 companionships. We all meet at the same building for District Meetings so we have opening exercises together. And then we have a zone fun day once a month. And either Zone Meeting or a Zone Conference with the Assistants and President Porter.

I love you too family!! These questions make it easy to email, thank you! For some reason emailing makes time go by so quickly! I don't understand how an hour can pass that quickly!

Last week all of the trees were in beautiful technicolor. Now they are covered in snow and dead haha.