Wednesday, December 1, 2010

November 30, 2010

Hello everybody!  I hope all is going well with you and I love reading your E-Mail bits before I write!  They are so awesome!  Well, to start off with, it is totally wet and cold again today (What's new?!).  My Thanksgiving was great.  We ate with the Turners' daughter and son-in-law.  She is a member, but he is not.  He is the nicest guy in the world, though.  It was a good day, although we did not get to play in any turkey bowls (football) or do any of that kind of stuff.  We got a message in the morning that we were NOT to play any football.  Dang!  Anyways, the holiday was good and we just visited and talked over at the Swensen's house (Dan and Kareen).  Not too many details for you, although we ate lots of food and had a fun day.  We were over there from about noon to 4:30 or 5 and then the rest of the day was missionary work with studying, contacting, etc. 

I am trying to stay warm and dry in all of this rain.  The times that it isn't raining (not often) it is overcast and just really cold.  My overcoat has saved my life out here.  Also I use hand warmers.  The shoe protectors keep my shoes from being soaked, which keeps my feet dry.  One of the biggest keys to staying warm and dry is keeping your feet dry.  It is always cold and wet, but I am handling it fine.  It will pass by eventually and spring will come.  I am probably going to have my suits dry cleaned next week.  They are still pretty nice and clean, but they could use it a little bit because they haven't been dry cleaned yet......oops! 

The Dreiers love us and we love them still!  We taught them about baptism again on Sunday evening at our usual meeting time, 7pm.  We told them how it will work and got all the details figured out with them.  Elder Cashin and I will be the witnesses and Brother Kennington, their home teacher, will do the baptizing.  He is such an awesome guy and is so cool.  They love him and we love teaching them with him, too.  He reminds me of Brother Gabriel a little bit.  They are excited about the baptism still and so it is still a go! 

Rob Sutton is a YSA member who has been investigating the church up in Kelso, not our area, for a while and then wanted to come to our ward.  The Elders from up there referred him to us a few weeks back and we have been teaching him.  He has read the whole B of M and is in D&C 93!!!!!!!!  He has been coming to church for almost 2 months now.  We asked him about baptism and he is going to pray to see if it's right.  He is almost sure it is, but wants to be positive.  We committed him to pray about being baptized on December 18th and he said he would.  I hope he comes to find out it is the right thing and says yes!!!!!! 

Cisco was out of town last week so we didn't see him at all.  We watched "The Testaments" with the Hadenfelds (Scott and Kristi) and they loved it.  They are in their mid twenties.  Scott Hadenfeld is a less-active member and Kristi is not a member.  They want to start coming to church and she is going to pray about baptism!!!!!!!!!!! 

Logan Voller is a YSA kid who had an interest in the church about 5 years ago, fell away, but wanted to take the lessons and come again.  We have our first visit with him tonight!  I hope he progresses towards baptism!  We are teaching lots of lessons still!!!!!  We had double digits again last week, which is good for this particular area.  The work has not been this good here since Elder Cashin has been here and that has been for almost 8 months now! 

Last week we taught Josh Whittrock, Ginny Delaplane and her son Gabe, Corey Vaumbar, Caleb Hale (a less-active in the YSA ward who wants to take the discussions and start to come back), Beau and Ashley Larsen (Less-Active members in Mountain View), Mike McCann (A YSA referral who wants to come back to church and take the lessons and is an investigator!), and the Hadenfelds and Dreiers. 

We are having some good success and I love the work.  It is definitely tough at times.  Every day has its discouraging times, but I make the most of dull situations because I can't change them.  If I was looking for a fun, good, easy, relaxed time, I would be at home playing sports or nintendo, but I came out on a mission to work hard and learn.  It isn't always fun and easy to learn and work and teach, but it is worth it.  That is for sure.

My P-Day plans..........well, this morning was Temple Day!  We go every other transfer, so only once every 3 months.  This is my first time going since I have been out in Washington.  We went to the Portland Temple even though it isn't technically in our boundaries because Elders serving over here would have a 4 hour ride to the Columbia River Temple and we don't have time for it.  What a gorgeous temple!  I took tons of pictures.  We did an endowment session.  I woke up at 5 this morning to make it in time, but we had a great time and I love it there!  It was so wet and rainy in Portland, but my pictures wouldn't be the same if it was clear outside, because they are more authentic when the weather is lousy like it usually is!  Anyways, we got back and went to lunch with a member and are doing our E-Mails.  We will go shopping, then the East Stake Center and most likely play basketball or some other game with the other Elders and make it back in time to shower, eat dinner, and teach the Schiermeisters and Logan tonight.  I love P-Days. 

The Turners are sending you guys Thanksgiving pictures and stuff from what we did through email.  They put up their Christmas lights and it is so awesome now!  We have a mini Christmas Tree on our desk with lights and ornaments!  I miss home with the lights and decorations.  I was so sad to hear you are not doing lights outside this year. What?  Seriously?  You really should.  It is sad to think of our home at Christmas time without lights up.  Oh well, you do what you can do, right?!  I miss home at this time of the year, but after Christmas then I only have 1 left, which is good. 

I am getting along with all the members so well and building trust with all of them.  I am learning every day and becoming more and more familiar with the area, investigators, teaching, etc., but still have a ways to go.  I love all of you so much. 

Wow, so much is happening lately.  Oh, President and Sister Greer taught us so much at Zone Conference and it went so well.  I gave the opening prayer.  He asked me how I like it in Vancouver and I said I love it!!!!!  Do I really?  Not particularly, but what am I gonna say?!  It isn't too bad, though.  He said he heard it snowed in Vancouver last week and that it was rare.  I said that it did and that it was cool to see it.  He asked if I hate snow.  I said I LOVE it.  He joked and said "Maybe we will have to transfer you to the east side of the mission in the Tri Cities area then!"  Anyways, Zone Conference was great.  Stake Conference is this Sunday and the following Sunday Elder Cashin and I speak in Sacrament Meeting.  We don't have a topic yet, but I hope it goes well. 

I put all of your names on the prayer roll at the temple today.  I also added Bruce and Cristy Barnard's names on there.  I hope they are doing well.  I think of them so often and hope they feel my prayers for them. 

Well, I need to E-Mail President and Sister Greer now, but know that I love you.  Know that I have a strong testimony that this church is true.  When people kick the church, they only kick it upstairs.  Nobody can deny the truth.  It is the truth and can help all of us in our lives, members and non-members alike.  I have pictures and things to send you for Christmas, just be patient. I promise I will send it soon!  Well everybody, have a great week and stay warm.  I promise to try to stay warm if you all do, too.  It is hard to serve a mission, but it has been a great experience and one I will never forget.  I am converting others, but I am also converting myself.  Take care and know I love you all.
        Elder Matthew Bates

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November 23, 2010

 Hey everybody!  I have so much to say.  First of all, thanks for all of your Emails.  I just read them all and appreciate them.  It means so much.  Also thanks for all the letters you send and the support you show me.  It makes it so much easier to be out here.  Well, for Thanksgiving we are eating with the Turner's daughter and son-in-law.  They invited us over for a late afternoon Thanksgiving dinner.  That should be fun.  Other than that we are encouraged to do service as much as we can the rest of the day.  We are going to be serving everybody we can during the day when we are not eating with the Turners.  It will be very tough to be gone for Thanksgiving, but I will manage!  Like you said, another holiday gone means I am that much closer to being back.  I have to miss 2 of everything (except maybe my birthday) so why not get them out of the way right off the bat.  I hope all of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. 

Wow a blizzard is hitting right now, eh?!  Crazy!  I wish we got snow instead of rain, but oh well.  I always wish the weather is different than what it currently is.  Speaking of weather, we got snow!!!!!!!  That never happens!  It only lasted for a few hours until the rain came and melted it, but I wish we got enough to stick.  Guess what, right now is the first time in 2 weeks the sky has been clear and sunny.  It snowed last night and the snow is still on the ground, but might melt soon.  I hope not!  The temperature is below freezing here and might climb into single digits this week.  Our high for the day is about freezing and our low is about 19 degrees.  It is absolutely freezing here!!!!!!!!!! 

I am doing well!  My health has been excellent.  I have never been healthier.  I am doing lots of bike riding and walking and exercising and running in the mornings so I am getting plenty of exercise, too (along with the weekly basketball exercise which is enough to last for a whole week the way I play!).  Am I staying warm?  Hahahahahahahahaha.  Good joke.  But on a serious note, I am staying as warm as I can.  My hands, ears, and feet can get really cold when it rains.  The galoshes keep my feet warm and dry whenever I wear them.  The other day it was not scheduled for rain and it didn't look like it would so I forgot to wear them outside to do some contacting.  It downpoured!!!  For the most part, my shoes and feet are dry and warm, though.  My ears are very cold and I am going to look for some heavy duty gloves today to keep my hands warm.  It is colder than you would think here. 

The bike is doing great.  It snowed on our bikes during church on Sunday and when we went outside the bikes were covered in snow.  The Turners gave us a ride home in the truck with our bikes in back thankfully.  Nothing unusual or exciting for P-Day is planned today.  We did laundry, studied, cleaned and planned this morning.  We are going shopping, eating, and going to the East Stake Center for our P-Day after I finish the Email.  The car is still being fixed and so for probably another week none of us will have a car.  Brother Child has been a lifesaver driving us places on P-Day and other places throughout the week when he isn't busy.  He is awesome! 

Here comes the big news................................................DECEMBER 7TH IS WHEN THE DREIERS ARE GOING TO BE BAPTIZED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  They are so excited, as are we!  He came to church again on Sunday and just has to continue to come and he will be good!  We scheduled a meeting for his interview with President Greer and we are so excited.  Usually the baptism interview is done by another Elder who was not one who taught them, but because of circumstances (it's a long story) he has to meet with President Greer.  President is so happy about the Dreiers!  That will be 3 more baptisms.  It is on a Tuesday evening at 8:00. 

We are continuing to teach Cisco (the black gentleman we ran into after church a week ago on the road) and he came to part of sacrament meeting!  He came to FHE again and loves it!  We taught him about the Gospel of Jesus Christ after FHE last night and he is considering baptism!  Another investigator named Rob is interested in baptism and has read the B of M and is in the D and C and has come to church for almost a month now.  He is awesome.  He was originally contacted and taught by other missionaries, but moved to this area and is now under our teaching.  How amazing!  Andrew Nihipali, Corey Vaumbar, Cisco, and Rob (Andrew and Corey are less active members in the YSA ward who we have been teaching) all came to church on Sunday!  How neat! 

We put up the best numbers we have had since I have been on a mission last week.  We were into the double digits on teaching again and we are receiving referrals from YSA members, less active members, Mountain View members, and everybody we can.  We are teaching lots and it makes the time fly by!  We taught 3 lessons alone yesterday!  How exciting is that?!  There are days where the work goes slower than other days, but it is picking up well!  I'm so thrilled!  Elder Cashin and I still get along well.  We have our differences sometimes, but we get along great and work everything out.  We are very different, but I learn lots from him (even though he still doesn't usually talk very much because he is kind of shy). 

Now onto my list of things to tell you!  I opened the 2 month package right after the Email last week.  Thank you so much for all that you sent me!  It makes my day, week, and month so much better!  We love the Christmas CD's so much.  I noticed you sent the original CD's.  I hope you made a copy for yourself of them or that you can get some at Deseret Book because you will want to have those CD's for Christmas, too because they are so awesome.  Everybody out here loves listening to them. 

Please read Alma 26:11-12 and also Alma 29:9-10.  Last week I came across both in my personal studies and they mean a lot to me.  Remember those scriptures.  I am now in Alma 52.  I hope to finish the B of M for the 2nd time on my mission by the end of the year.  It is great stuff! 

Like I said, there is no car for now.  Hopefully by next week it is fixed.  When it does get fixed, we still may not get it, but I hope we do.  If we do, I will be driving.  For now, we are out in the freezing cold on foot or bike!  Random thought, my tithing box in my drawer in my room at home might have tithing I forgot to turn in before I left.  If it does, can you fill out a slip and turn it in for me?  Thanks! 

Erin, thanks so much for the awesome package with everything you put in there!  I got it last night and opened it up!  It was so amazing to hear from you and hear about your great trip!  You don't have to feel bad if you don't have time to write very often.  I know you are extremely busy with school.  Thanks for writing me and sending that, though.  It really meant more than you can ever know. 

Well, the sun is starting to become covered by the clouds darn it all.  The sun has not been out in 2 weeks it seems like.  It was out for a minute last week when I wrote you, but we haven't seen it since.  There is frost here daily now.  There is also a thing called "freezing rain" here.  It is when the rain hits the freezing cold ground, cars, etc. and turns to ice as soon as it hits.  Cars get iced over, the roads are iced over, houses are iced over, and everything shuts down up here.  They shut down school for any snow at all.  Can you believe that?!  I wish they did that in Utah.  People don't know how to handle snow up here.  I prefer snow over rain because it is prettier and falls softer and doesn't soak me as badly.  It also reminds me of home a little bit, so I wish it snowed more often.  Like I said, when it does snow, it doesn't every stick for very long at all. 

I am still planning on sending you guys a Christmas package with pictures, letters, and other things that you can add to my missionary book at home.  I printed some CD's a while back, but might print a few more because I have taken some good pictures since then.  From my area, you can see Mt. Hood and Mt. St. Helens.  From my mission boundaries you can also see Mt. Adams and a few other big ones.  There is snow up on top of these mountains, but Vancouver is only about 100 feet above sea level (or so I'm told) and so it doesn't get hardly any snow.  Good luck in the blizzard at home.  I wish I could be there to help you shovel.  When are you putting up Christmas decorations?  I wish I could help do that, too.  The Turners put up their Christmas lights last week.  They look awesome and remind me of home.  Well, I hate it when Email time starts to wind down, but it's that time. 

Dad, thanks for all the letters you write me.  They really do help me make it through tough times.  I appreciate your mission stories, too.  They help motivate me so much.  I appreciate all you do for me.  I am glad to have you as my dad and am proud to be your son.  I want you to know that.  Never forget how grateful I am to you and all you have done for me my whole life.  You are so selfless and encouraging and I appreciate you.  Good luck with work and church callings and everything you have on your plate right now.  I pray for you daily! 

Mom, I miss you so much, too.  I got your letter last night and it makes me so happy to read them!  I also love the church articles you enclose. They really help me.  Thanks for your love and support.  I hope that you stay warm and dry in the cold weather there, too.  I think about you daily and miss you so much.  I pray for you daily.  Please tell Bruce Barnard that I pray for him and Christy daily as well.  They are always in my thoughts.  Some people have to get off the train earlier in life than others, but they will be there when the rest of us get off the train to greet us.  I don't know what will happen, but I want you and them to know that God has a plan for all of us.  It is hard sometimes, but he does everything for a reason.  The Barnard family has helped me so much and they are great people.  Let him know how much I appreciate him and Christy and his family.  Let them know how great they are!  I love you so much, mom.  Never forget how much I love you.  I am sorry for any time that I ever took you for granted at home.  I apologize for anything I have done to offend or make you upset.  I want you to know how much you bless my life.  Take care and have a happy Thanksgiving. 

Brooke, Rocky, Jacob, Taylor, and Hayden, wow you guys are so awesome!  I wish I could be there to see the changes take place in your lives.  I love each of you and pray for you daily.  I feel your prayers in my life.  Let the boys know that I feel their pure love for me and their sweet prayers.  They don't know how much of an impact they have on their Uncle Matt.  They never will until they go on a mission and feel the same love of others for them.  Take care in all you guys are doing.  Know that I love all of you so much.  Bran and Anni, your letters are so cherished.  They make my life so much happier out here!  Your support doesn't go unappreciated.  Always know how much you mean to me and how much your letters and encouragement mean to me.  I love you guys so much and good luck with everything going on right now.  Keep me informed on any new news from home or in your lives. 

Erin, I am glad your trip went well and that you got back safe.  What a neat experience.  I have a testimony of everything you said and know it is true as well!  Keep up the good work at BYUI and good luck at USU in January.  That will be a fun experience.  I love you and look up to you so much.  Stay healthy and do well in school!  Well everybody, it's that time!  I love you all and not a moment goes by (especially during this 1st holiday season) that I don't think about each of you constantly.  Your love, support, prayers, letters, etc. don't go unappreciated.  I am so blessed to have a family who loves and supports me so much.  I am so blessed to have a family who loves the gospel.  I am blessed to be on a mission.  I am blessed with trials, opposition, struggles, difficult situations, weather that sucks, and many other things that make life hard.  If I have learned one thing out here, it is that I learn so much more in the difficult times than in the easy ones.  It is easy to be happy when things go well, but when they don't, we buckle down and fall back onto our foundation of faith and our testimony.  Nobody can take away my testimony.  That is something that is mine forever! 

I love my family, the church, my mission, my friends, neighbors, and all other people who pray for and help me.  Please stress the importance of my love for the whole family on Thanksgiving as you read my letter.  It may be boring to some people, but it means a lot to me.  Let the family know I think of them all daily and wish the best for them, too.  Have a happy holiday season an Thanksgiving.  I love you all and will work as hard as I can and let the Lord help me.  Take care.  I will talk to you next Tuesday!  My love is with all of you.  Be thankful always.
        Elder Matthew Larson Bates

P.S.  Zone conference is during the game on Saturday.  I am saying the opening prayer.  I will pray for BYU!  Just Kidding!

November 16, 2010

Hey everybody!  Wow I can't believe I have been out for 2 months either!  Pretty cool!  Well, first and foremost, I am not getting transferred.  Elder Cashin is not either.  In fact, we got the call on Saturday (Even though they told us it would be Monday we would find out) and we found out that only 1 Elder out of the 22 in our zone is leaving.  Pretty weird!  We are guessing that President Greer wanted most to stay because of the holidays.  I am happy, but would not have minded getting a new companion or area.  Oh well, we will keep pressing on. 

Okay, I will answer the questions to start off.  The package....We were SO busy yesterday that when the package came to the house, nobody was home (including ourselves) and so there is a slip of paper that I have that we will take to the Post Office today and pick it up.  I am so excited to open it tonight!  Ahhhh I love you guys! 

Since the transfer goes on tomorrow and none of us in our district are getting transferred, we don't have to spend P-Day packing or anything.  It's just a normal P-Day.  Thank heavens this is so because we have a busy evening with lessons.  Anyways, we did our laundry and cleaning this morning and after the E-Mail we are going shopping, eating lunch, going to the haircut place so Elder Cashin can get a haircut, and then going to the Vancouver Stake Center or the East Stake Center (Not sure which one yet) to have fun till about 4 when we will head back home so we can shower, eat, and get ready to have lessons and be busy tonight!  My contact lenses are doing great.  I will change them soon.  I have plenty of pairs still left so I won't need any for probably 8 months or so, but I will keep you in the loop as we go on.

 Investigators!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Last week was our best yet for teaching lessons, getting referrals, etc. since I have been in the mission field!  We were in double digits in Lessons Taught and we had a great teaching week.  We taught the Dreiers on Sunday night and had dinner with them.  Guess what?  He came to church with his whole family!  He is coming next week, too!!!!!  Guess what else???!  He wants to be baptized and is praying with his family for a date!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I can't express my joy in words!  This is so wonderful!  That would be 3 more baptisms!  They are such a great family and love us and we love them!  I am so happy for them! 

We ran into a 29 year old black gentleman named Cisco after church on Sunday.  We were walking home from church and right as we crossed the street from the church walking home we saw him.  We went and talked to him and had a lesson at the church with him later that night.  We invited him to FHE at the Church last night and he showed up!  We had another lesson on the Book of Mormon and prayer with him after the activity for FHE last night.  We asked him to pray to know if it's true and did a soft commitment for baptism.  He said he would read it and pray.  He is a cool guy.  He has piercings and tattoos, but that's ok, we can work with that! 

We received a referral from a girl named Annessa Foster in the Clark YSA Ward on Sunday for a friend of hers who might want to hear from us!  We will stop by his house this week!  We received another referral named Rob and he has read the Book of Mormon and loves it.  He actually used to be involved in religion and fell away.  He wants to come back.  He has not been baptized.  We have a lesson set up for next Monday after FHE with him.  Isn't that great?!  We are teaching Brenice and Tevyn and reading the Book of Mormon with them.  They might be baptized by the end of the transfer! 

We are working with some less active people, too.  We are working on everybody as hard as we can.  We are teaching lots of people and working with referrals like crazy!  We do lots of tracting (which I am not a fan of) and it is usually raining when we do, but that's ok.  As long as we work hard, that's all we can do and people will be put in our path if the time is right.  Anyways, keep praying for all the people we teach.  We might have some good success baptism wise by the end of the transfer. 

I am feeling good.  I still get homesick sometimes, but since I know I need to be here, that helps me stay concentrated.  Also, because we have been pretty busy lately, that helps me stay focused.  I love being busy out here. 

The bike is holding up great.  I hope we get a car.  No word yet, though.  Biking really keeps me in shape.  If I bike my whole mission how I have been lately, I will not put on any weight my whole mission and that is a promise.  However, we are bound to get a car at some point.  Quick, knock on wood! 

Ok, now it's time for my list!!!!  Right now the weather is just overcast, not wet!!!!!!!!  The sun has not been out at all for just over a week.  Every once in a while it comes close, but no luck.  Oh well, that's life.  I won't be here forever.  With the Christmas package, the Greer's want each of us to open something at the Zone Conference.  If there is just one package, I will tell her I will save it for Christmas.  Some Elders say their parents are sending something really small in a package just so they can open it there and have their other package for Christmas.  Whatever you decide to do is totally fine, though. 

As I said, only 1 out of 22 got transferred this time.  Kind of strange and unheard of by all the Elders (Or so they say it's very strange).  I got the Eggertsen's letter last night and the picture, too!!!!  How neat is that?!  Really cool.  In case you don't know what it is, it is a picture that was taken of me, Scotty Christensen, and Taylor Eggertsen in front of the baptismal font at my last missionary prep class before I came out.  We were all baptized together and now we are all out on our missions.  What a priceless picture.  Tell them thank you so much and I appreciate their letter and the support they show me!  Tell them that I pray for Taylor daily. 

Elder Hansen from my district crashed part of the car last week and so it is being fixed right now.  He got a ticket the week before.  His driving privileges are gone for the rest of the mission.  Once the car is fixed, Elder Cashin and I will most likely get it.  Yahoo!  He hates to drive and is not good at it and refuses to do it, so I would be the driver for our district.  Cool!  If this does happen, you have my word that I will be extremely careful and like dad said, I will drive like an old person if I have to (Meaning I will be very conservative, although I always have been for the most part).  The sun is in my eyes, as the window looking outside is right behind the computer screen!  I am so happy the sun is out!  You really have no idea!  I am so jealous that it is starting to snow at home now, though.  You know how much I will miss that!  I am homesick for the holidays at this time of the year, but will work hard to stay focused.  Although it is so much fun to be home at this time of the year, I will stay busy so I don't think of it too much.  I am starting to get the hang of things more and more as I am out here.  I still have questions and learn every day, but this will continue for my whole mission.  I am becoming more and more familiar with the area, people, routine, etc., which is awesome!

Thank the Morrison's for the letter they sent.  I sent them a letter and they should be getting it soon.  I am writing the Greg Bates family today, too so they should get my letter by the end of the week.  Please thank all my family, friends, neighbors, etc. for all they do for me, it means so much.  We are praying for Aunt Amy to get over her surgery, and also for Cristy Barnard.  In the letter from mom last night, I heard the bad news.  I was devastated.  I will continue to pray that they can get rid of the cancer cells and that her surgeries will go as well as they can.  Please know that she is in our prayers.  Tell Sarah sorry about the baby.  I was sad to hear that, too.  Things will get better, they always do. 

I am now in Alma 14 in my study.  I bet I can finish again by the end of the year.  I love the B of M!  The ward members in both wards help so tremendously much with meals, rides at night to far places, etc.  Oh, I almost forgot.  There is a guy named Andrew Nihipali (A polynesian guy if you couldn't guess!) who served a mission and after has not come to church for 4 years.  We taught him last week and got him to come to church.  We will continue to reactivate him!  He is such a cool guy and we will get referrals from him if we can. 

Well everybody, only 7 minutes left.  My favorite part of the day is drawing to a close.  Know that I love each one of you.  When the times are hard here, it can be easy to be sad, lonely, depressed, and homesick.  However, I often times learn the most when I struggle.  If I embrace my trials and hard times, I can learn volumes from them.  It is very hard to stay focused when I know that my family is at home during the holiday season all together having a great time and that I can't be there to share these memories with you.  However, I know that I will be blessed for my work out here and that there are people who need to visit with me!  I know this church is true!  I know that Joseph Smith is a Prophet.  I know that it's never too late for anybody to come back to the fold.  Everybody, know of my love for you and know that I think of EACH OF YOU DAILY!  Take care and thanks for your love and support.  I can't wait to write you next Tuesday!  Hang in there family!  Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!!!
         Elder Matthew Larson Bates
P.S.  Did I mention how much I love all of you?!!

November 9, 2010

Hello everybody!  My favorite day and time of that day is here again!  There's so much to say.  First of all to answer the questions, thank you for sending the galoshes.  I got them a few days ago and they help tremendously.  They are kinda hard to walk and bike in, but I don't care.  They keep me dry and warm and that's all that matters.  Thanks so much for sending them.  They are a huge help! 

The bike is holding up great in all the rain.  It is a very nice bike and although it is impossible to keep it dry, it is working well and it needs to because I use it daily. 

Investigators.......  We teach the Dreiers tonight about the bible and the role that it plays in our religion.  Cody Dreier (the dad) did not know that we believed the bible last week when we taught them so we need to clear that up tonight.  We taught a very spiritual message last week on tithing and it was so awesome.  As you know, the mom and daughter are members, but only come to one hour or so per week, if that.  The dad and 2 boys are not members, but are progressing investigators.  He was not able to make it to church on Sunday unfortunately.  He is trying hard to make it with his work schedule.  The boys come when the mom and sister do. 

The Schiermeister family.......The mom is active and her son, Cody (lots of Cody's out here!) is 12 and comes every week as well and wants to be baptized, but the dad is a JW (Jehova's Witness) and won't allow it.  Because the parents don't live together, it is a weird situation.  He can only be baptized with the dad's permission because of custody issues.  We hope he has a change of heart.  We continue to teach lessons from the B of M each week to build his faith. 

Corey Vaumbar is a YSA who is less active and we have been getting him to come to church.  He has questions about lots of things like recognizing the spirit and questions related to that.  We will hopefully teach him later this week.  We got 4 referrals this week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 

Rebecca Holland is an 18 year old who is in the Mountain View Ward boundaries and was referred to us as a media referral.  She wanted a Book of Mormon and was curious about our church.  We stopped by last Wednesday and talked for about 10 minutes on her porch with her while her family was inside because they are against our church.  We have an appointment tomorrow with her.  Hopefully things go well.  She might be YSA age after she graduates and might go to that ward if she wants to. 

Scott was a referral from Elders in another area and we got his address and went there, but it was an apartment complex address with no specific apartment number.  Since it was way out there and still in our area (because our area technically is all of Clark County because of the YSA ward) we are not supposed to tract the apartment buildings because it is in other missionaries' area.  We only go out to far away places if we have specific addresses of YSA's we can meet with.  We will contact the Elders who are in that area and make sure they tract the apartments there and find him.  The other 2 referrals we stopped by were not there and we have stopped by multiple times since then and left a card and our number and names and such.  Hopefully we find them in.  We are working hard with the YSA Ward and stressing hard the importance of getting us referrals. 

Justin Hurley is coming along great.  He will start the new member lessons and so we stopped teaching him last week and the ward members will teach him now.  We talked to him about referrals and he will think of who he can and get back to us.  He is golden with those and we would love to teach non member friends of his.  We are really working hard on getting referrals, believe me. 

Tracting is not my favorite thing at all (it is my least favorite part of the mission (along with the rain)).  We are continuing to work hard every day.  We are teaching less active members in the Mountain View Ward the lessons (those who have agreed to let us do so, anyways) and we taught 4 lessons yesterday and committed 3 to come to church this Sunday.  I hope they do!  If any investigators come close to baptism, I will let you know immediately!  Right now the closest ones are the Dreiers.  We can only set a date when he starts coming to church because he knows once he does he can be baptized and he wants to be.  We are seeing if we can get him to come so he and the 2 boys can be baptized together, but if he does not come, we might ask if his boys can be baptized without him because they are ready.  We hope this motivates him to come to church. 

Today we cleaned and did laundry and studied this morning.  We are going shopping after the E-Mail time and then we have a zone P-Day today with a huge lunch involved.  It is at the East Stake Center in Vancouver.  We are having a super fun day today because it is going to be a District Sports Day.  We are having soccer, basketball, and ultimate frisbee tournaments with district teams.  Each district is a team.  I am super excited because even though our district is only 4 of us, we will do well and have fun!  I love basketball and ultimate frisbee!!!!  Soccer, well, not as much, though. 

I have everything I need right now and am doing great.  I rarely ever have used my debit card out here.  I made the CD's last week with the pictures and spent about $11 on my debit card to make the CD's, but I can't think of anything else I have used it for.  I am gathering everything I want to send you guys and will send it in a Christmas package.  It will have my picture CD's (3 of them), baptism programs, mission newsletters, and anything else I can think of that you might want.  Everything is going great with the $ situation.  We get $135 per month and last month I had about $60 left at the end of the month and the money carries over to the next month so right now I am at about $175.  The money renews on the last week of each month.  I have plenty to get by.  I don't spend money when I don't have to. 

Now onto my list of things to tell you!!!  The liquid sunshine here is great......NOT!  It rains like crazy here.  It is downpouring outside as we speak.  AHHH how frustrating!  I really hope I get a car after transfers if I am still here (which I am 99% sure I will be) and it is very likely Elder Cashin will be going.  Transfers are on November 17 and we find out on Monday November 15 who is going and on the day of where they are going. 

Congratulations to Mark Rowley on going through the temple.  That's awesome for him!!!  Congratulations to Sarah with her baby on the way.  Wow, so many things are starting to happen now that I'm gone!  How was Erin's Nauvoo trip?  Taylor Eggertsen, I mean Elder Eggertsen, sent me a great letter last P-Day that I got that night.  It was very nice and genuine.  He is such a great guy and will be an awesome missionary.  How is he doing in the MTC so far?  Any word yet?  Thank Grandma and Grandpa Larson for their nice letter, too.  It means a lot to hear from them and I love reading their letter each month.  How is Jordan doing at BYU?  Mom, I got your letter last night and I loved it.  I always love them!  I love hearing from John in his E-Mail, too.  What a funny picture!  Can you send him my E-Mail?  Just curious.  Dad, how do you like the silver Honda Civic?  That is if you have driven it yet.  It's such a nice car and I'm sure you will switch off cars every once in a while to keep it in shape.  I love getting newspaper articles with the missionaries coming and going.  I know so many of them now.  It is cool to see where they are all going.  I love getting those updates. 

Now to the important part...........GO BYU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  That's my cougars that I know!!  What a win!  Elder and Sister Gage (the senior missionary couple on our area who finish in about 2 weeks with their mission) always tell me about it each week.  That made my day and week!  Also, Utah got trashed I hear!  We were biking on Saturday and I saw a U of U flag on someone's front porch hanging.  I was so upset, ha ha ha!  The next day it was not hanging up anymore!!  I was so glad!  Go TCU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  What a great week.  How are the Jazz doing overall?  A rough start is what I hear from people out here, but we have picked it up since I assume???  What a great sports week!!!!! 

We stood in the circle on Sunday when Justin Hurley got the priesthood.  What a neat experience.  How awesome is that?!  There was a baptism for a YSA age girl on Saturday named Monique Benitez and we attended.  We spoke on the B of M and the spirit.  It was so neat.  I have had some great experiences out here so far.  Oh, the Turners got tickets to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir Christmas show and will be in SLC during that time (Sometime about a week before Christmas I believe) and are visiting family in Bountiful.  I will give them our address and they would love to stop by.  They have been out of town this week and get back tomorrow.  You should call them if you get a chance.  They are so nice and neat. 

I pray for the Barnards every day.  How is she doing?  Tell Bruce that I think about them every day.  They are a great family and I miss seeing them all the time!  Well, in 6 days I have been out 2 months!!!!!!!!  But hey, who's counting?!!!  That is so cool to think.  I am starting Mosiah now in my study and hope to finish the B of M by the end of the year again.  How are you guys doing?  Where are you at?  We have 2 lessons tonight, the Dreiers at 5:45 and the Schiermeisters at 7:00.  It should be a good day today.  We are helping a less active member named Kim Zepanta put up Christmas lights tomorrow.  I am so excited you have no idea!  I really am!  He works at a rest home across from the Hearthwood Church right on the corner.  You might see it from google earth.  It has a white fence in front and is on a corner right across from the Hearthwood Church.  He always takes us to lunch after and we share a message with him.  Oh, the protocol is to send a small present (something small) to the mission home because we all open a present at zone conference.  Anything else, if there is anything, you can send to the address I am staying at, which will most likely be the same. 

Mom, we usually just do soup or sandwiches or chili or something like that when we make our own meals at home.  I am no iron chef, unfortunately!!  I wish I could tell you all the names of the people we are working with and who are potentials, less actives, others, etc. but there are so many and I can't think of them all right now.  Terry Nichols, Dreiers, Rebecca Holland, Kurt Golding (another referral), Brenice and Tevyn (who we have a lesson with tomorrow and hopefully they want to be baptized because we will extend the commitment most likely tomorrow!), Ginny and Gabe Delaplane, Corey Vaumbar, Cody Schiermeister, Olga, Irena, Josh Whittrock, etc.  The list goes on for a while. 

Wow only 18 minutes left, time sure flies when I am E-Mailing all of you.  Know that I love all of you and miss you all so much.  Dad, I hope everything is going well with work, your calling, etc.  I appreciate your letters so much.  They always brighten my day and week!  Thanks for all your support and prayers.  Mom, I miss you so much.  I miss all the things we would do together.  I love getting your letters and all the nice things you send with them.  The quotes are so nice. Thanks for the love and support and prayers.  It means the world to me and makes it easier to be out here. 

Brooke, Rocky, Jacob, Taylor, and Hayden, how are things going for you right now?!  I love getting letters from you.  I hope everything is awesome right now.  The boys are probably so excited now that the holiday season is coming up.  I know I am!!!  Tell them I love them and pray for them every night.  I miss them and all the time I spent with them so much.  I pray for you and Rocky daily, too.  I hope that all is going well with you.  Don't do anything too crazy while I'm gone!  Bran and Anni, thanks for the encouraging letters you always send me.  I love reading them!!!!!!!!!!!!  You always have good advice for me, Bran, and I appreciate that.  Let me know how things are going with you.  Don't be too busy.  Know that I miss both of you and think of you all the time.  It makes it easier to be out here having a dad and brother who set such wonderful examples by serving honorable missions before me.  You each had trials you had to overcome, Dad with the hard language, culture change, and hard callings out there and Brandon with your knees and that ordeal.  It helps me go on to know that you both pushed forward and worked hard.  I have it easy after knowing what the two of you went through.  I appreciate your examples of service.  I serve EVERY DAY out here and it makes it easy to do so having grown up around family who has done that and I appreciate that. 

Erin, I hope your trip was fun and that you made it back safely.  I'm sorry to hear about your ear problems and sickness.  I pray that you will get feeling better.  That darn immune system really does wear down pretty fast.  I hope that you stay caught up in your school work and all that you do.  I love the picture of the 2 of us mom sent me the night you left for school.  It is on my desk with the family pictures and Jordan and John's picture as well.  Keep up the good work and I appreciate your example to me. 

Everybody, know that I love you all and think of you so often.  I have the greatest family in the world and my support system is unparalleled.  Keep doing the great things that all of you do.  I am trying my hardest out here to do my best.  I make mistakes and fall short all the time, but I trust in Heavenly Father to help me.  I know that my job is to try my hardest and work hard through the rain, rude people, opposition, and everything going on around me and that I will be pushed the rest of the way.  I will never be able to do anything without help from Heavenly Father.  I just do my part and let him do the rest.  Unlike at Burger King, in the mission field we don't always get to "have it our way".  It is the Lord's way. 

I have a testimony that the work I am doing is true and that the message can help people with any problems in life.  It is saddening at times to be out in the cold, wet, dark, streets being turned away by people during a holiday season where I would normally be at home surrounded by family, friends, and happy times.  I do know that the work is hard, but it is always worth it.  Know that I have a testimony of the truthfulness of this church.  Thanks for all you do.  I will talk to you again next Tuesday, which I will anxiously look forward to.  Take care family.  Tell all the neighbors, friends, etc. that I love them and appreciate their prayers and support.  TTYL!!!!
        Elder Matthew Larson Bates