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