Monday, February 21, 2011

Welcome to Kasson

Hello Everyone,

     I'll start off with the news about the new area first before I get to the difficult part.  Kasson, Minnesota is a smaller town with a Branch that has about 20-30 members I guess.  I wouldn't know because church was canceled yesterday due to the blizzard of 6 new inches on snow and the 1/4 inch of freezing rain that feel on top of that just yesterday morning.  There's about 5,000 people in Kasson but we cover a couple smaller towns in the surrounding area.  I was told last week before I transferred here that I'm cursed to be in "the sticks" all my mission because that's where I live back home. haha what people not from Hooper don't realize is that it's a smaller town but right next to civilization.  We have a Wal-Mart five minutes away.  Here in Kasson they have a Hardware Hank that has "most of what we need" haha.  At least that's what Elder Russell told me.  The nearest Wal-Mart is 20 miles away in Rochester, so we'll see if I can survive without it. ;)  M., the one I taught in Menomonie, said that, "[I was] moving from a branch about to become a ward to a twig about to become a branch".  I thought that was pretty funny!  This area's a lot different than Menomonie.  I would have never guessed when I first cam out that I would miss Menomonie like I have.  It was a great area!  The people there were awesome too!  Elder Russell's a little different than either of my other companions that I've had.    He's a good Elder we're just not as alike as Elder Katoa and I were.  It'll be interesting these next few weeks.  We'll just put it that way.  We live with another member but it's not our own apartment like at the G.s, so that's an adjustment too.  The guy we live with, L., is a member  but his wife isn't.  first thing he said to me the night I showed up was, "welcome to h***".  (I decided to edit that for all of you.)  So like I said it's just going to be interesting here in Kasson. haha

     Now onto the tough part about Bishop Randall.  I got a phone call from President Howell Thursday morning.  I'm already kinda struggling trying to get used to this new area.  He asked me how things were going and then said, "Elder. . .I've got some bad news for you. . .".  My heart sank.  I didn't know what to expect that he'd say next.  A million different thoughts involving all my family members went through my head.  What he did tell me that Mom had called and told him shocked me.  I would have never expected that.  I was outside while I was talking to him and I just started to cry.  It was definitely hard to deal with.  Especially in the given circumstances.  Bishop Randall was a great man that I felt very close to.  I'm going to miss him very much.  His influence will be missed in the ward and in Hooper.  I hope his family's doing well and it sounds like they are.  I know these trials are all to help me grow.  It may be tough but I know I can make it through the next little while.  Like Mom said he would want me to keep focused and work hard.  I'm trying to do just that for him.  It's such a blessing to know this AMAZING Plan of Salvation that our loving Heavenly Father has for us!!  The peace that come from this knowledge has been what's really helped at times like this.  He's involved in a much greater work now.

Camie:  Thanks for the info on everyone in Idaho.  It made me laugh haha.  Good luck with school!  I expect at least 1 letter per week now. ;)  Time is. . . not flying.  It feels basically just the same as you and Mom.  Hopefully it changes and I'm trying to do all I can to help that too. haha the picture of Brandt's face was great too.  Now I see that he does look a lot like you.  Maybe his face is like that and he looks so confused because of all the dives he's taken off the furniture.

Dad and Mom:  Thank you for telling me the news Mom.  It was hard but I'm glad to know.  As for now just keep the program and obituary for me please.  I don't want to lose it out here.  I liked your Elder Katoa humor Dad, and that story was hilarious.  I was actually laughing out  loud.  I can totally imagine and picture that!  Good luck at your old stomping grounds in Rexburg.  Tell Ashley I said hi  haha.  how long's it going to take for you to finish?

     Well I hope everything else is going well for everyone back home.  Tell Brady to let me know how his tournament went and Happy Birthday!  I hope he and Nick both got the packages I sent.  I love you and miss you all very much!  I can't wait to hear from you all again and just an fyi it's snowing again.  I think my new favorite hobby is going to be shoveling driveways.  Mostly because I do that so much. haha  In Ofa lahi atu!!

Love, Alex

p.s I'm going to email a bunch of pictures of Menomonie and some from here in Kasson.  Hope you like them.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Transfer News

Malo e lelei Craft Family,

     (I'm pretty fluent in Tongan now if you hadn't noticed. haha)  It was so good to hear form you all.

     Like I had mentioned to you all today is the day of transfer calls, and neither one of us thought we'd leave.  Especially because they usually call earlier in the morning and we didn't get a call until almost 10.  The phone call was pretty interesting.  Elder Katoa's getting a "special assignment" our mission president said.  He's going to be with a new Elder, Elder Veni, that's only been out for 1 transfer, and he came from straight off the island of Tongan.  That's going to be pretty cool for him, but weird for that elder to come here.  Talk about culture shock coming to little old Menomonie Wisconsin.  AS for me in case you couldn't already guess I am being transferred.  I'm going to the Rochester Zone south of the Twin Cities.  I'm going to the Kasson area which is another branch I guess.  Except this branch is even smaller and doesn't even have enough members to have their own building yet.  They rent a building and President Howell told me on the phone that the stake president has been praying for them to get a building, and that's what he wants me to help them to do.  We'll see how that goes.  I'm going to be serving with Elder Russell down there too, so I thought that was kinda cool.  I'm really excited to actually be serving in Minnesota in the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission, but I have really enjoyed this area and I'm going to miss the members here.  I'm sad Elder Katoa and I don't have another transfer together.  He's so cool and we've gotten along so well.  He's gonna so great here though.  I taught him well. ;)

     There's been some crazy weather here the past few days.  It's been up around 40!! I was like what the heck is this?  I forgot that the sun can produce heat and not just light.  It's crazy how warm even 32 feels now.  We were walking around yesterday tracting and I only had my suit jacket on because I have to between October General Conference and April General Conference.  Otherwise we would have been in just our white shirts.  That's how good it felt.  The only problem now is that with all this melting snow it's going to turn back to ice and then that's going to be a big problem in and of itself.  I guess we'll just deal with that as it comes, but as for now we're just counting our blessings of 35 degrees!!

     I did send my license papers in a couple weeks ago, and I just got the package from you guys as we were walking out the door.  Is that the paper copy that I got form before I left or a new one?  Thanks for the package though!! That new stationary and the cookies are gonna be great!   Thanks for the letters too!!  I really enjoyed reading them.  Even Brady's very thoughtful "letter because you hate writing". 

     Like I said thanks to everyone that was able to write me this week!  It really means alot.

Dad:  I thought I'd respond to you first because you "beat mom" haha.  That was really funny.  That's so awesome about your new job!  I can't wait to hear about it.  It means alot what Grandma said to because it really was a miracle being able to teach all those students.

Mom:  I'm just curious if we ever got those pictures of the family that Alicia took printed or what happened with those?  If there are prints of them I'd really like to see them if that'd be alright.  I'm glad you were so nice to Dad as to let him write me first.  Because you're right being the best and number 1 gets old after awhile I've learned that over these 19 years! ;) hahahaha

Nick and Tati:  Thanks for the advice about the missionaries.  That's really too bad that they looked so much like they hated life.  I'll keep that in mind.  About the blog password you can just take it off so anyone can see that's fine.  Who else of my friends has one?

Kat and Tom:  Thanks so much for the card!  That's awesome about your tests too.  Way to go!!  I am feeling better yes, and don't worry about me needing a coat.  Like I said I won't need one here pretty soon and look how long I've survived with that great one that I have. haha Thanks for the concern though.
     Well sorry my email wasn't too long this week either.  I'm including some pictures on of the lake out here so you can see what I was talking about with all the cars and people out there.  My email next week will probably be longer because I'll be in a new area with all new information to share.  I hope everyone's doing great and I can't wait to hear from you guys.  I love and miss you.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Super Bowl

Hello Crafts,

     To start off with how bout them Packers huh?!  haha Even though I'm not a Packers fan it still was pretty cool being here in Packers country when that whole thing was happening.  Yesterday was kind of a bust day because of the Super Bowl.  At least for us as missionaries.  We had an early lunch with our new branch mission leader and his wife that just moved out from BYU.  They're way funny, but we had to go there early because they were going to another member's house for the Super Bowl.  So from the hours of  4:30ish- 9 we knew that 1- no members would want to talk to us, 2- our investigators would all be watching the game too, and 3- any door we knocked on would not be a very welcoming interruption.  Packers football is religion here.  That's what made it difficult for us, but instead of just sitting inside for those 4 1/2 hrs we went and walked around EVERYWHERE to try and talk to anyone that might be out or people that weren't watching the game.  We walked a total of a little over 8 miles round trip and it took almost 4 hrs.  Too bad for us there were only a handful of people out and about to talk to.  It was cool to know that we were at least out trying to work and still be missionaries even though it's something I might not wan to do again. haha What made it nice is the fact that it was in the high 20s so we weren't even cold walking that long.  It sounds like the weather there's just too much for everyone to handle being 50 degrees and all.  Man you guys are lucky!  I can't wait for this myth I keep hearing about called Warm Weather that supposedly happens around here.  Even though like I said I am out here in Packer country it still has been really funny for us to see all the Fair Weather Fans come out from hiding.  Yesterday everyone and their dog was sporting Packers something.  Either actually on them or their car and if not there on their house.  Plus people were painting "GO PACK" and stuff like that all in the snow mounds on the side of the road.  We passed a college house that had a huge group of people out on on the snow they'd piled up and painted all in their Packers gear with a keg and big sign that said, "you honk we drink!".  It kinda made me laugh at how ridiculous it was and how many car horns we heard go off for that whole tailgating party. haha 

    It was warmer yesterday but it has been back down in the negatives most mornings again.  Nothing too bad but just enough to make me think that Spring really is a myth that I'll never get to witness.  Luckily for me I have a scarf the size of a hammock that I can wrap around me and not have to worry about being cold! :)  The one thing that's not so cool recently is everyone we talk to keeps asking our ages, and because it was Elder Katoa's birthday last week he told them 20.  They all thought he was at least 24-25 and the thing that's not so cool is everyone's guess for me has been 17 to maybe 19!   I was like what the heck is this?  I thought I deserved a little credit, but it is what it is.  There's one way legit kid we contacted on campus that we're teaching now named R. that thought I was 24 he said, so needless to say I like going to teach him. haha jk Our campus contacting has seen alot of miracles.  Not only R., but there were two girls that came to check out Sacrament from the college that we taught in our Gospel Principles class.  They were there for a project we found out but they were still really interested and asking questions after we answered the ones for the project.  We called them to  set up an appointment so we could teach them again and they said they were really interested.  In fact they invited us to come to their Non-Denominational Christian group meeting on Wednesday night.  We were way excited and went to the meeting Wednesday hoping for the best and expecting the worst just to be prepared.  It went so so well!!  There were 10 students there that were all interested and asking sincere questions about what we taught.  The spirit was so strong and Elder Katoa and I remembered our training and bore testimony very frequently throughout the whole lesson.  It was a very powerful experience to be able to testify the truth of what I know to them and to feel that they were understanding.  The miracle of it was that they all want us to come back this Wednesday to teach them again and bring the Books of Mormon that we had talked and testified so much about.  We were blessed enough to get 8 new investigators that night!  It was a miracle I could not believe and helped build my testimony of hard work and obedience bringing miracles to our lives.  It was such a cool experience and not one that missionaries get to have very often.  Our mission's standards of excellence goals are at least 4 new investigators/ week and so this week being able to get 9 is something I don't know that can happen again.  This is we I've been calling Menomonie the land of miracles! 

     Well here's the response for Mom and Dad.  Sorry I don't have one for each of you.

Mom:  I can't wait to hear where Tavan's going.  That's gonna be pretty intense!  -40 is the temperature that they tell the mission that we need to stay in.  That's -40 with windchill too,so that doesn't really happen here when we are usually out.  So basically there's never a time when they tell us to stay in. haha It's just helping to make us tougher.  This tile sounds pretty cool.  I can't wait to see the pictures.  I had no idea you were even doing that.  Leave it to Brock to do that for us too.  He's the man!  Brandt sounds like he's right in the funnest stage.  I can imagine him laughing and smiling at everyone, and the thing that makes me laugh and smile is the fact that Camie's going to have him on one hip and the new little one on the other.  It hasn't really hit me that she's pregnant again, but everytime I think about it I just laugh.  Not cause I'm doubting her as a Mom or anything but just at the fun she's going to have. haha

Dad:  I'm happy to hear about the garage. :) haha  I'll continue to pray for you guys and the job hunts for everyone.  Where would you go back to school at?  Weber State?  I would love if everyone could write me a letter tonight.  I'm looking forward to that and the package!  You guys don't have to do that though.  If you send it this week though I'd just send it here to Menomonie because transfers are next Monday and they could hold it at the mission home for a little longer until that's all over in case I do leave.

     Well I miss you all and I can't wait to hear from you!  You're all in my prayers and I hope all is well.  OFA LAHI ATU!! (Elder Katoa's been teaching me some Tongan.  Some of it like that I can repeat to you. haha)

Love, Elder Alex Craft