Thursday, November 25, 2010

Menomonie, Wisconsin

Welcome to Minnesota

Dear Family,

     I was really glad to be able to talk to you too! It was good to hear everyone's voice! Sorry i couldn't talk to everyone.  I am kinda tired still cause i can't really catch up on sleep and i feel a little overwhelmed but oh well. . .the Lord's work never ends.

It's so weird and surreal to think I'm actually here now! In the land of my people! :) haha jk The whole way over on the plane ride I sat by Sister Daniel from my district and we talked about how weird it was to actually be headed out! The flight was only about 2 hours and I got to see all the water and lakes as we came in! President Howell was telling us on the way to the mission home that they have over 10,000 lakes 5 acres or bigger and over 20,000 lakes 3 acres or bigger!  Our mission is one of the largest in the world.  Land size and number of missionaries.  We have 200 missionaries and that's the cut off for all missions.  None of them have over that many.  We have Elders and Sisters speaking first of all English, Mong, Spanish, and a few like D. P. from the first ward that speak Karan I think that's how you spell it.  It's a crazy Asian language and they're the only Elders in the world learning it cause there's such a large population of those people here.  I got my first experience in the airport with the weird accent they all have here!  Most of the people we've talked to do it too haha I really hope I don't pick that up.

The work started as soon as we left the mission home with planning for the next day.  We went to look for some winter stuff a little during the afternoon when we had some free time but couldn't really find much that's good for a good price so we'll try to get it before that storm hits us. I'm assigned in my new area of Monomonie, Wisconsin, so for at least this first transfer  I'm not even in Minnesota.   Kinda ironic.  It's a smaller town about 2 hours East of Minneapolis and we have one branch here with about 85 members in a pretty huge area.

We tracted for 2 hrs yesterday and had some really good conversations with a bunch of cool people.  Most of them are willing to listen to you and see what you have to say, but they're almost all Lutheran too and just say that they aren't interested and love their religion.  My actual first door approach was a fluke no one even answered and I was so nervous! So I just knocked the next door cause it was a duplex and right as the guy answered the door he said, "Oh. . you guys are the. . .yeah I'm not interested at all!" and he just shut the door. It was pretty funny to me actually.  I just laughed and was like wow that actually happened.  I still felt love for him and everyone that wouldn't listen because even though they say they're happy with their religion and life right now I know that we have the truth that will bring them complete happiness and a fullness of life that they've never known!

We talk to everyone we see or pass and are always bearing testimony! It's way cool but i definitely need the Lord's spirit to get me through this next chapter of my life.  So I'm trying to do the same as you Dad and realize that none of these people that won't listen will ever see me again and at least I know I tried to offer them the gospel and they'll be accountable for not listening.  Oh well i guess.  Their loss.

My companion- trainer is Elder Blume from American Fork, Utah ironically enough because everyone always assumes the missionaries are from Utah and for us it's true haha  He's way cool and upbeat, really funny, and pretty random too.  I guess he had a companion that called him Captain Tangent because that's what he was best at. He got transfered new into the area with me.

In case you were wondering about the weather it's not too bad now.  No Brady not everything that's made of liquids frozen and the plane didn't have spiked tires to land.  Not many of the lakes are frozen over yet but everyone says it will be in a few weeks.  I guess they had an ice storm last weekend that was the worst it's been in 5 years! I'm sure Dad and Tom know all about those.  Luckily for me it's staying right around 32 degrees but it snowed on us the whole hour we tracted last night which got me pretty wet but not too cold, and the hour we did earlier it was a lot colder because of the wind.  Windchill dropped it down to probably in the teens during that hour so just like i expected.  I have my coat and ear warmers from the MTC but not too much yet. We'll be getting that soon because the next couple weeks is suppose to get pretty nasty.

We had an appointment that we taught at yesterday and it was so cool that these were actual investigators thinking about joining the church! Not just the mock investigators from the TRC I told you about! So it was kinda nerve racking to make sure to say it all right because what we say is what they believe.  That's why the spirit is so important! Their names are M. and A. and they have 2 little kids named J. -4 and S. -2.  It really was so awesome to be in their home and teach them and answer their questions.  I felt strong love and concern for them and that they understood what all we were saying.  M. has a problem with smoking and occasionally they'll drink but that's the only thing they struggle with.  They've read through 1,2 Nephi almost twice now and part of Alma, and they had us stop by again for hot chocolate after they saw us tracting their neighbor hood for that hour in the morning and he'd read the reading we left him in Mosiah and 3 Nephi already.  They're really solid investigators and I can't wait to see their progress!

We've had dinner with members each night so far.  The first night we ate at the member's house that picked us up from the mission home and the house we have our basement apartment in The G.'s.  They live right in Monomonie and it's a nice little place they've got for us.  Last night we ate at a Less Active family the W.s and today we have 2 Thanksgiving Dinner appointments.  The first one here at the May's home where they're letting us use their computer to email.  The best part is there's no stupid 30 minute timer in the corner flashing at me to give me an anxiety attack.  We ironically enough have our next appointment at the house right next door The C.'s.  We're kinda nervous to go there because no lie the son actually moved here with his wife and child to get off the grid and live off the land.  They have no bathroom in there house and he loves to hunt and eat Squirrel!! I'm not even kidding! Luckily it's his mother's house we're eating at so we might get out of that.

Well Brady just keep your head up cause I know how stressed you are now but I made it through it so can you.  Yes I have my bike but I haven't used it yet.  We will though for tracting when we're out of miles.  My first thoughts when I stepped off the plane were: "Holy crap I'm here! And for 2 years!", "It's not that cold", and "I wonder what President Howell's like?"  He's very nice by the way and greeted us all with a big hug! He and his wife love and care about us very much!  I can't wait to serve under them.

Thanks for the package Mom and family! I love all the food but I didn't open it till we got home, so if the fudge is still good by next Tuesday when we go back to the mission home for training then I'll give it to them.

Good luck with these new positions Dad! I'll be praying for you still.  Let me know what I can do for you at home.

Natalie did you get my card I sent you?  If not Happy early birthday because I won't write again until my actual P-day on monday.

We got a P-day today because of the holiday but we're still going tracting later don't you worry.  For anyone hand-writing letters just send them to the mission home for now until i figure out my address I'm at.  They're pretty good about forwarding it quick.  Just be sure to put Elder Alex Craft or Alexander even A. Craft makes it easier on the lady doing that.  I'm not exactly sure for Christmas just maybe like some granola bars or packaged stuff like you sent that i can carry with me along with some of the Gold Toe black socks if you find any.  Also, what I told you on the phone's good.  Sorry I sound so needy.

Grandma, thanks so much for the letter. That was really cool! Thanks for thinking to write me.  How are you doing?

Anyone just let me know if there's anything I can do and any questions I might have missed.  I love and miss everyone so so so much!!! It's gonna be tough but i know it'll bless my life and yours! I get to call in a month too!! :) I can't wait to hear from you and email Monday!! I'll keep praying and thinking about all of you!

Elder Alex Craft

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Talked to Alex

Hi all,

We talked to Alex today.  His flight is Delta #2456, leaves at 8:45 AM and gets to Minneapolis at 12:30 PM.  He is really excited, but nervous and everything in between.  He is not sure when his P-Day will be but he has been told he will be in a members home for Thanksgiving, so I don’t know if they will be at the Mission home until after Thanksgiving or in their area.

He is traveling with 11 Elders and 2 Sisters, all going to Minnesota.  That is a big group.  He had to be up at 3:15 AM to finish packing and get dressed so he is running on adrenaline since he didn’t get to bed until after midnight.

You could hear a little apprehension in his voice but he was strong and had a great experience at the MTC.  Of course he wants to be perfect so all he could think of was all the things he should have been doing before he got to the MTC, so he has told Brady what he needs to do.

The temperature here in SLC was 37 at the airport, in Minneapolis it is 13 with a wind of 12 MPH that takes it down to -1.  I hope he gets that warm coat soon.

Well, I have to get back to work.  Everyone stay warm during this storm.

Love ya,


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Hey Everbody!

What up Craft family?!

I'm so glad that i get to email and tell everyone all at once.  Hopefully i can answer the questions you all have.  First of all yes mom scott got stitches because he got an elbow in basketball.  i think he got 2-3 right above his right eyebrow.  so it wasn't anything too serious.  shirley can stop worrying now.

Some other things i forgot to metion last time about the MTC is that we have a fireside every sunday night and devotional tuesday night.  The past 2 firesides we've had sheri dew and Mark Lusvardi from the church office come speak.  The devotionals are the ones where apostles come speak to us and my first one here we had Elder Bednar come speak!! it was so good! and this past tuesday was Elder Pearson of the 70!  All the speakers at the firesides and the devotionals especially have been so great! their messages are amazing! i wish i could take more notes with what they say but i just can't write that fast!!

Also, about the MTC i don't know if i said it already but the beds are tiny! i have my feet hang off and if i fold my arms under my head to sleep on them my elbows hang off the sides.  I sleep on the top bunk and every time i roll over i hit my knees on the wall haha i just don't have much room up there. I would like you to defer my scholarship i got if you could! i'll try to send the papers back cause you might need them.

Mom and Dad Happy Anniversary! i was thinking about it yestersday and i figureed it'd be faster to just wait to email and tell you today!! Dad how did the interview go? i'm just curious.

I"m way excited to go to Minnesota in a matter of 5 days.  I have to get my hair cut tomorrow,.  It's mandatory to have it cut at least 5 days before you leave.  I'm excited for the cold and snow! thanks for the comforting words there about a foot of snow already dad ;) haha jk i really am excited thought! time's flown by here!

I helped host new missionaries yeaterday with my district and 300 other missionaries out on the curb!  There were 750 new missionaries that came in! they didn't want to have any right before thanksgiving so they combined the weeks for them to come in.  I got to host Luke Weston though! He came yesterday and i was the one that carried his luggage for him and showed him his room and class.  It was way cool to be able to help the new missionaries.

FYI i didn't hang on the rim in gym i'm not that stupid haha i just popped it to almost lose my gym time cause they're so anal about even touching the net when you're not playing.  Shae's companion is from Norway going to France. THey've seen the other elder Jacob was talking about but i haven't.  WEll jeff sounds dumb as ever and sounds like JAron's doing good.  The Jazz and Fremont sound like they're both doing pretty good! keep me posted! i can't wait to hear how Fremont does in the championship! You can write me to keep me informed on these things Brady ;)

THis is just kinda cool info my roommate Elder Eggertsen told us about a couple days ago: so i know Dad listens to KSL news radio but for anyone else familiar with it or not Elder Eggertsen's dad is Grant on the Grant and Amanda Show! that crazy! he said that you can email him if you want cause he would love to hear from someone else whose son is going to the MMM.  Let alone somone that's in his room with him! i just thought that was way cool!

Tell the ward thanks so much for the cards and support! i'm gonna try to work on writing some thank you cards later today.  THanks for the package too!!! i got it yesterday and i love the food and pictures too! Those were great and i was showing them to everyone! I showed everyone your pictures to Kat and Camie that you sent! i really appreciate them.  They're great! feel free to send more anytime!

Well my time's about up.  Sorry it's so short but thank you so much to everyone for the letters, emails, packages, pictures, and all your love and support! It really helps me out so much!  I love hearing from all of you and love you all so much! I miss you but i know that the people i'm going to meet need my message and testmony of the gospel to bless their lives! They need to know the simple docrtines of the gospel and that through Faith in Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism by proper authority, recieving the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end they will be saved!!  I love this gospel and all of you!

Elder Craft

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dear Family,

Sorry there were a bunch of questions I forgot to answer. I didn't have time because I'm not the world's fastest typer. No I haven't actually seen the missionary from Norway but I know he's here. Shae's companion is Elder Bjerga from Norway, but he mostly grew up in utah so he speaks fluent Enlgish fine. He talked to me a little about him, so hopefully I'll see him soon.

Yes mom my throat's really fine I'm not allowed to lie as a missionary. I think there's a curse here that will strike us down if we do. I do get gym time everyday but Tues. my P-day & Sunday. Yesterday was the 1st day I got to play soccer because the field's been closed because of cold and the little bit of snow we've had, so I tried to dominate but playing in my indoor shoes on grass isn't the easiest and it's not exactly fair cause I'm the only Elder that went to a big school & played. A couple others played at like 2 & 3A schools but didn't even go to playoffs. Mostly I play basketball, and the games are pretty intense. There's so many Elders that are as tall and a few a couple inches taller so those games are fun. You do gain respect there cause I dunked it in a game the other day & had Elders asking me in the gall if that was me & how sick they thought it was. It's hard to do though cause we can only dunk & touch the net, rim & backboard in a game. I almost lost all my gym time earlier this week for grabbing the rim in warming up. They're really anal about it. We only get to play 3 v 3 games too on a halfcourt cause there's no actually full court. There's 8 half courst set up all around the gym  They have a track to run upstairs so I did run a mile around that before basketball games, & that's where all the weight machines are. They're all cable machines, so there's no bench press or anything  & they're usually all taken. Instead I try to do pushups & situps in my room there's a pullup bar in our hall. So I'm trying to still workout a little. I think I did lose the weight cause of my throat, so that should come back.

I'm glad you talked to Angie & I wish I could email her but I can't. I didn't save Cody at all. haha that's kinda funny but I'm glad she thinks so. I wrote him the other day so hopefully I get a response. Whoever spent $13,000 on a ring as a male needs to find a wife or hobby cause that's ridiculous!

I know you guys write everyday that was a joke Dad.  :)  And yes everyone Ashley's written me twice so I wrote her on P-Day, but I don't have her address, so I had to send it to Paige. I don't know if it's in my other book & didn't get transferred or what but I'd really like to have it!  :)  Thanks.

It's kind a funny too that wouldn't you know the day after I send that email I find my hymn book! And that day we got our travel plans! We're flying out Tues. 23rd & have to be at the travel office here @ 5 a.m. The DC missionaries leave the day after @ 3 a.m. So it's crazy we're over half way done! This week's really flown by!

Well sounds like the Jazz are doing great, so just keep me informed with the outside world. If you can't get a package together don't worry about it. Sorry if this letter takes forever too. I can't wait to hear from you and love you all!


Elder Craft

P.s. Grandma did write but I didn't have time to email her so that's why I sent her letter in here.

P.s.s. Another plus I failed to mention about the MTC is that I fit under the shower head! Amazing enough they're like 7 ft high so that's really nice!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

hello everyone!! Finally!! :)

Dear Family,

First of all i'm sorry that it;s taken so long to e-mail and if i spell wrong or have poor grammar it's not my fault i'm only allowed 30 minutes to email before the computer kicks me off.  I was so excited to finally have a P-Day this week to be able to talk to all of you! i've felt so bad i haven't had time to even write after that letter the first night.  i'm surprised that took as long as it di to get to you.  Sorry about that.  To address everyone's main concern: my throat is basically all healed!  I only struggled to eat at the meals on the first day.  Ever since then it's progressively gotten better and my appetite is back and better than ever! i'm eating everyhting anf getting seconds.  THe food is amazing!! The weird part is that most missionaries you hear gain weight in the MTC but i have lost about 5 lbs so hopefully i get that back and a little more. 

The first day was very hectic and a little bit of chaos and shock! i couldn't believe i was actually there in the MTC wearing the name badge with my actually name on there.  The one i've dreamed of wearing since i saw the pictures of NIck in his.  I was also thinking 2 years! that's forever! since that day we've had class which has calmed down a little now but the first couple days a felt like i was honestly getting a drink form a fire hose! I've taken so many notes trying to learn all i can.  i've almost filled up half of my notebook already in a little over a week! i wish i could tell you all i've learned and how my testimony has just grown fromm learing to rely on the Lord but i can't even rememvber all i've learned and don't have nearly enough time. 

I'm in the laundry room doing laundry now typing while i wait for my clothes to dry.  Speaking of which mom can i dry my dress shirts? just wondering.  Also i think i left my hymn book somewhere at home cause i can't find that so if you could send that with some pictures and treats because all the elders in my room and on my floor ate them in 2 minutes literally cause they were so good! don't worry i got some of them but offered to the others and once word got out of your amazing cooking there was no stopping them haha Incase everyone's wondering my companion is Elder Lewis and is so amazingly spsitiual.  He's a great elder that has helped me so much and is very good and listening and helping me in  my new calling. 

The Second night here we met our Branch Presidencey and they called me to be the District Leader.  We have 8 elders counting me and 3 sisters.  Elder Naylor, is going to the DC south mission and is from twin falls, Elder Merrill, also going to DC from Reburg, Elder Calvert, DC too and is from Denver, Elder taylor is going to DC and is from Saporro Japan, along with Sister Holt from Arizona and Sister Ward from West jordan are all going to DC South. 

The MMM misssionaries are Elder Lewis and I Elder Eggertsen from Centerville, and Elder Anderson and Sister Daniel both from vernal.  Those elders going to our mission are our roommates too and they're awesome! our whole district iis great! we've grown so close and i love them all! i just have to run the meetings, go to meetings a few nights a week, and get the mail for them.  SO i love seeing all the support from all of you! it really has helped me! i'm not one to try and criticize at all but hand written letters and ever notes are so great too so if any of you have an extra minute to write me a little something that'd be fantastic!!

Mom: i hope work goes well for you and i'm so thankful for you and your concern. Don't worry i'm not even mad about you talking to the nurse at all! they haven't actually even asked or talked to me about that.

Dad: Thanks for finding time to always write me.  I wanted to strangle Jeff throught that letter so i imagine how you feel.  that stupid dog!\

Brady: that's sweet about your GPA and Fremont keep it up and keep me posted! you can write emails longer than the first one of 2 lines which is good ;)

Nat: thanks for all the encouraging words and you go ahead and sleep in my bed all you want.  Someone needs to use it!

Kat and Tom: I didn't actually read that letter on the toilet sorry but it did help! your support is so great! and she's right everyone. . . she'd written every day so i'm not trying to say you couuld step it up or anything but. . . ;) jk

Nick and tati: thanks for the letter i'm excited to be here too and know it only happens once! i'm trying to live it up as best as i can!

CAmie Brock and Brandt: i expect that picture soon! thanks for the letters!

Sorry i forgot to mention i saw shae and hayden on the first day and i see them and scott at least once a day! it's so sweet we've gotten pictures together  a couple times so i hope to send those soon! it's hard calling them elder but it's just something to get used to!

well i've only got a couple minutes until it kicks me off so i just wanna say i love you all so so so much and miss you! you're in my thoughts and prayers daily!! keep praying for me and the support because between you and the Lord i think i'll survive! love you all! See you soon!

Love,  Elder Craft
p.s. good luck with the job dad let me know how it goes! i'm praying for you!!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

MTC - First Day!

Dear Mom, Dad, & Family,

Today has been very crazy! Ever since you dropped me off they had me running around everywhere going to orientations, picking up my packet w/ my badge, and then going to class w/ my new companion and people in my district. My new companion is Elder Jonathan Lewis.  He is Jack & Janette's nephew from Malt or Malta Idaho. Some small town by the border. He's way cool, patient, and good listener, and I can see how he's really to Sister Young in almost everything he does. The other Elders in our room are Elders Anderson and Eggersten both from utah and cool guys too.

I've felt every emotion today. I got dropped off feeling sad w/some anxiety, but everyone here is so happy and encouraging I felt comforted and welcome right when I walked in the gates almost. Throughout lessons and activities I felt excited and exhilerated about this great work and what I'm involved in. I'll never have this experience of being here again. There really is no place like it on Earth, so I'm trying to think of that and live it up as best as I can. I will be completely honest though I have though I have thought about all of you all day and felt the homesickness especially when I was unpacking. I want you to know I do miss you guys and love you alot. Nobody's lying when they say it's tough but I know I'll just have to go to the Lord and he will give me the strength I need. Just pray for me like I know you are and keep prayers in your heart because I'm going to have to constantly to make the adjustment I have to. I am excited to do what I've been called to do don't get me wrong. It's just your fault that it's hard for being so awesome.  :)

On the plus side you'll be happy to know I was able to eat lunch w/out too much pain at all. So hopefully my mouth keeps healing. Also, while I was eating I saw Elder Russell (It's weird I can't call him Shae) and he came and hugged me and we got to talk. It was great to see him again. I'm gonna be on the lookout for Scott too.

Well I've learned alot already today and taken alot of notes. My testimony's going to be stretched and tested but I can feel it growing. I know this is what I'm meant to be doing and I'm trying to look forward to the challenges each day brings. I'm sorry if you can't read this too well. I'm not sure if it's excitement or nerves but my hand's been shaking all day. Just know I love each one of you so much and wanted to write you this. I need a picture of everyone ASAP so I can show you off and always have the constant reminder of why I'm here; so others can have a family like mine. Can't wait to hear from you!

Love Always,

Elder Alexander James Craft