Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Memorial Day

Hey Crafts,

     Sorry this letter is late again this week.  Because of the Memorial Day holiday all the libraries were closed, so we had to wait until today to be able to come email.

     I'm glad to hear that everyone is doing fairly well minus a couple sick people.  I'm sorry to hear about that and I'll be praying for a quick recovery for you guys.  The weather sounds so crazy still in Utah!  I know that there are examples in the scriptures of the Lord causing crazy storms and trials in places when the righteous are gone, so I think that's why all this happened after I left that great state. ;) haha I can't believe the amount of moisture that you guys are getting and going to have once the snow does melt.  The crazy part is that it was almost 30 degrees warmer here in Minnesota yesterday than in Utah.  I think it's only fair though considering that most of the winter you guys were probably 30 degrees warmer than I was. haha Hopefully you do get a break sometime though or it could cause some serious problems.

     That's great that Grandma is all moved in now and closer to the temple and family history center.  Not to mention closer to both her sons too.  I hope that she gets settled in and does enjoy it.  It sounds like she should from what information I've heard about this new apartment.

    I knew that Tavan would do great!  I wrote him last week so hopefully I get one more letter from him before he goes into the MTC so I can have that address.  Chance sounds like he's going to give all of us a run for our money with the way he's growing haha.  I'm glad that there were alot of people there to support Tavan.  Thanks for the picture from the farewell.  It was good to see alot of familiar faces I haven't talked to in a while.  Has Mitch gotten his mission call yet?  I haven't heard from him in about 7 months haha, so I'm a little behind in that information.  How many of those guys are planning to go on missions that were at Tavan's?  I hope that most of them are.  It's crazy that you can work for 3 months and then start on your papers Brady!  You can have your call in 6 months!  Look out Mexico here he comes! ;) hahahaha  That's insane!  I'm excited to hear that you might be getting a job too.  It sounds like it's something you'll be getting paid for that we've had plenty of experience of doing.  I guess you can thank Mom for all those hours in the summer preparing you with experience to be an expert at pulling weeds haha ;).  It's a tough call about school but working to earn enough money is not a bad route to take.  It's up to you but I know that you'll make the right choice.  If you need any advice on mission prep or things to prepare for and buy when it gets closer just let me know and I can tell you from my own recent experience and those of other missionaries.  I'm just excited cause I know you'll make a great missionary!!

    Things here in Shingle Creek are still going well.  Being district leader in the field is a whole lot different than it was when I was in the MTC.  Our district is way cool though.  I love working with these Elders that I am.  There can be times when it's a struggle but that's true with any district anywhere.  It just comes as a phase of missionary work.  I have a leadership training I have to go to down in Bloomington at the mission home for basically all day tomorrow.  I'm excited to be able to get some training so that I can be more effective as a missionary and a leader here for those around me.  It's funny that Mom mentioned stress because even though it is a tough job full of stress being on a mission and then having to be an example and leader for those around me I think that student government was such a blessing in preparing me for just that.  I'm glad that I went through some of the crazy times and stress that I did.  I feel like I can use and apply that experience to me now and it makes things seem not so bad.  Kash 4 Kids and assemblies make District Meetings seem like nothing haha.

     Our 2 investigators, Micheal and Tony, that I've talked about before are still doing great!  We are hopefully going to have their interviews at the end of this week and their baptisms a week from then.  Just one example of how great they are is that Micheal, like I think I'd mentioned before, wants to finish the Book of Mormon before he's baptized and was in Alma ch. 23 last Monday.  Last night when we talked with him and checked to see how his reading was going he said he was a few chapters through Helaman and working on finishing that today!  Elder Hatch and I have some serious catching up to do during lunch to finish that with him like we promised we would haha.  I'm so glad that I've been able to be here and really watch not only Micheal but Tony as well accept the Gospel and Book of Mormon into their lives like they have.  It's so cool to hear things like when Micheal told us he's just been "glued to The Book of Mormon" and he "can't put it down".  This Gospel really has power to change people's hearts like Alma talks about. 
     Sorry there's not really much more exciting or crazy information to share with all of you this week.  I hope that you all are doing well still or are starting to feel better for those others.  I love you all so much and prayer for you always.  Thanks for all  the love, support prayers, and advice you give to me.  I hope to talk to you soon and that next week I won't disappoint you with no email on Monday again haha.

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Hey Family,

     Sorry to scare everyone with the late email.  We had Zone Conference yesterday and so they moved P-Day for this week to today.  As for the tornado that you've been hearing and wondering about the destruction here was not nearly as bad as in Missouri that's for sure.  We have church at 11 and after the block we usually go on the stage in the gym to have  our weekly missionary coordination meeting with the Ward Mission Leader.  We had to sit on the stage for a few minutes at the end of the Maple Grove's sacrament meeting because they went a little over time.  As we were sitting there we heard the tornado sirens go off but didn't think anything of it.  Down in Kasson the tornado siren was right on Main St. a couple blocks from where we lived and was always going off because they were testing it.  I'd heard that yes this is the top of "Tornado Alley" here in the Twin Cities, but that tornadoes only rarely hit in Minnesota at all and that when they do it's usually in the South more like the Kasson area in the rural parts of the state.  Even when I was there the members said it only happens where a tornado touches down once a year maybe and never really does any damage with it being mostly fields down there.  That's some of the reason I didn't think much of it.  Then right before sacrament meeting ended the Bishop got up and said the the sirens were going off and that everyone needed to move to the hallways away from windows because they'd reported funnel clouds beginning to form.  Our Ward Mission Leader said that the people here "like to think there are tornadoes all the time" and  that they "freak out about it like this every time and it's kind of annoying after 5 years".  So we went on with our meeting while everyone cleared out to the hall.  Once we went out to go get on our bikes is when we saw how black the sky really was and the torrential downpour that was taking place outside.  We've had some crazy thunder storms the past week, which I think are because I now have the privilege of biking ;) haha,  but I've never seen that much rain at once in my life.  Luckily we started to see it pass and kind of head North of us.  We waited for the brunt of the rain to pass and once we could see the sun down south getting brighter we took off for the appointment we had across our area.  We got wet but nothing too bad, but once we were out biking through it I got to see how much rain really fell as we tried to wade through 6 inch puddles.  One intersection we went through was completely flooded with about  7 inches of water that came up to the peddles on my bike.  I started to think that was a pretty crazy storm, but didn't consider that a tornado had actually hit.  It was later that night after we got home that we were told that it had touched down on James and 33rd in North Minne.  Just 9 blocks South of our area and about 13 blocks South of where our Ward Mission Leader lives.  Before we'd been told about the tornado that night we were out on the porch planning for yesterday and watching the crazy thunder storm with the lightening just like Mom had described that was almost constantly going across the sky lie a spider web.  I just kept thinking that these were some intense storms they get here in Minnesota.  As you've already learned from the news probably there were 2 people killed, but all the missionaries are fine.  Like I said it's nothing like what hit in Missouri.  It is still devastating that people did lose their lives, but it could have been much worse.  We talked with President Howell yesterday and President Paynter this morning and the stake is going to help in the clean up efforts.  We haven't been able to do anything so far because they've had to make it safe for volunteers to go in first.  They will need them later this week so we will most likely be spending a few hours in some "Mormon Helping Hands" shirts to help move trees and debris.  I hope that that was able to answer all your questions and reassure especially Mom that yes I am alright and have been this whole time.  We still have power but like I said sorry that I scared you not emailing.  Dang Zone Conference and the inevitable timing of that ;) haha.

     On a lighter note the Zone Conference was really great!  The inspiration and motivation the comes as a result is so amazing.  President Howell taught us more about The Role of the Holy Ghost and gave his training on that.  It really helped me to see the power and blessing that personal revelation is for each of us.  We're all entitled to that direct communication from our Father in Heaven because we are all his children.  He wants to speak to us.  We don't have to think of revelation coming to us like a a pedigree chart starting with the prophet and filtering down through the apostles, area authorities, bishops and then to us.  It's diractly to us for a reason.  We all get thoughts and ideas and promptings but the really powerful thing for me that I'm going to be applying here is that once we recieve that thought we need to "ponder it in our hearts" and see if it feels good.  If it does go for it.  If it doesn't change something until it feels good.  It's just that simple.  Through having the spirit speak to our minds and then to our hearts we can confirm that revelation and be divinely led and inspired throughout our lives.  That's so amazing!  Like I said I loved that part of Zone Conference and wanted to share it with you.

     Even with the recent destruction things here are going well.  My first District Meeting went fairly well I thought on working with members to do missionary work and the exchange with the Zone Leaders after was good too.  Also, we didn't all die with "the end of the world on May 21st", so that's really good haha.  I was laughing when we were out talking to people and they would ask us about that.  I wonder what the preacher (false prophet) in California was thinking Sunday morning when he woke up.  Something along the lines of "well I guess I wasn't one of the righteous lifted up at the last days", "missed my chance", or "better luck next time" haha.  That whole thing just made me laugh.  Our investigators Micheal and Tony that I was talking about before are still doing well and working to be baptized in June.  Micheal talked about last night when we taught him about that priesthood that even he could go on a mission after he got the priesthood?  We told him yes and bore testimony on the blessings that would come but tried not to overwhelm him with too much.  We told him once he's baptized and wants to still do that he should talk to Bishop Macdonald and he'd help him out with that.  That would be so legit if he went on a mission though.  I think I mentioned before that he wants to finish The Book of Mormon before he's baptized and is in Alma ch. 23 now.  So we told him that we would start there and read everyday  so that we could finish it at the same time.  He really liked that idea so we'll see how we do.  We can't exactly fall through on a challenge like that haha.

     That's so crazy that Brady's graduated now!  How does is feel Brady?  Sounds like you had a pretty crazy week!  Oh good old Toad's was there to throw a wild graduation party for you I'm sure.  I'm so glad I didn't have to work that!  2 of those shifts was enough for me haha.  Don't worry about not getting a letter to me Mom I totally understand.  Don't feel bad or obligated that I have to get one each week.  I did write you guys though so I hope you get it sometime soon.  If not let me know and I'll write another one.  I'm glad that everyone seems to be doing well and that I haven't heard of any tornadoes out that way.  Once again I'm doing great here in the hood of Minneapolis and the tornado didn't carry us away on our bikes like the Wizard of Oz.  I miss you guys and can't wait to hear from you again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Home Sweet Home . . . Again

Crafts!  What's up with y'all?!

     haha JK I figured that I'd give you a little bit of a taste of what new foreign language I get to learn now.  From now on until I get transferred I'll be learning and speaking Ebonics here in the Shingle Creek area of Brooklyn Center/Brooklyn Park/ North Minneapolis. haha
     That was a crazy last week of having to pack all of our belongings along with everything else in the apartment that I just moved into 2 months ago!  Not to mention we had to coordinate how to get everything from our place in Kasson to the new area in Preston, and get our stuff to Bloomington for tranfers.  It makes for some crazy days that's for sure.

     This area really is sweet though!  I love it here!  We live in the basement of the Stake President's house.  His name's President Paynter of the Anoka Stake that we're in.  His wife lives there too but I haven't gotten to meet her yet.  Even though I hit my head on the low ceiling down there twice this morning it's a great place.  Elder Hatch is a really good missionary too.  He's from "the hood of Idaho" is what he called it.  I guess it's a suburb of Boise named Caldwell.  So he's my first companion since Elder Lewis in the MTC that's not from Utah.  He's really funny and pretty corky but I'm looking forward to serving with him.  The ward here is awesome too!!  I don't know if I mentioned before but I'd met some of the members here when I was serving with Elder Katoa.  Because this used to be his old area, and he actually lived in the Paynter's house too, we went back for a baptism of one of the people he was teaching before he left.  It's kind of cool to now be in the area where 2 of my companions, Elder Blume and Katoa, have served.

     The ward that I am now in is the Shingle Creek Ward and there's 2 other wards that meet in the Anoka stake center with us too.  There's 4 wards in the stake I guess, but luckily we meet at that building just a mile or 2 up the street from us.  It's weird for me to be back in a ward and see "oh yeah that's how things are suppose to be done" haha.  No, I'm kidding, but it really is weird to be serving in a larger ward.  It's going to take a little longer to get to know everyone's names than it did in Kasson that's for sure haha.
     This whole intercity is a lot different than the little old college town of Menomonie and the rural farming communities of Kasson, but it is sweet.   Riding my bike everywhere has been a definite adjustment.  I thought my legs were going to fall off Thursday morning going to see a potential investigator a few miles away, and the downpour of rain wasn't making things any easier that's for sure haha.  It is getting easier biking each day and I'm excited to help strengthen my legs back up and get in shape cause all my pushups I do each morning don't really help my legs much ;).  haha The investigators we have are so awesome too!  We have 2 with a baptismal date set for June named Joe and Tony.  Joe's a 17 year old kid who loves soccer from Liberia who I haven't gotten to teach yet, and Tony's around 26 I think.  His parents immigrated from Vietnam during the war and he grew up Buddhist, but he told us he never really believed it anyway.  When he was younger his Mom got really sick and when she was in the hospital he tried all the fasting and Buddhist prayers but nothing worked.  Then he said he just had the idea come to his head to pray so he did without even really knowing what he was doing.  Once he prayed she started to get better and was eventually released from the hospital.  That's when he told us that he started to turn towards Christianity.  That story was pretty amazing to me and now after meeting with the missionaries he's super solid and wants to get dunked.  One of the other investigators I got to teach already is Micheal.  He's 21 and is a way sweet guy with dreads.  He'd make Jex pretty jealous cause he's been doing his for about 5 years and he has the whole Bob Marley look going for sure.  He lives in North Minne and has had some struggles before, but he's been coming to church for awhile and had a date set for baptism this past Saturday, but he pushed it back because he didn't feel ready.  He asks great questions and really wants to understand, so hopefully we get to teach him a couple more times this week and we can set another baptismal date for him to work towards.  He got to go with us last night along with a kid from our ward named Hector Murillo to a President's Fireside at the mission home.  We had a member give us a ride, but I was excited that I actually had the opportunity to go to one.  I used to hear all about them but only missionaries in the cities are permitted to go and you have to bring an investigator, less active, or recently converted member with you.  They had 3 recent converts give their conversion stories and testimonies with President Howell speaking at the end.  Two of the speakers were a couple, John and Kathy Menion (?), who we all heard there conversion story from President Christensen the night I was set apart.  I'm not sure if you remember but they're the ones who stopped at Temple Square on a whim during a trip to California. They met the sister missionaries there and eventually met with Elder Baxter, who I played soccer with and President Christensen works with his dad.  They were introduced The Book of Mormon and later baptized because of how they felt seeing the statue of Christ in the visitors center and reading from The Book of Mormon.  Their testimonies were amazing.  So you'll have to tell President Christensen that I met those people he told us the story about being prepared in Minnesota for me.  I told them about it after and they were amazed that I'd heard about it in Utah and that it was inspiring to hear how the Lord really does prepare people like them.  It was really cool for Micheal to hear as an investigator and Hector because he just moved back after going to BYU-Idaho for a year and is preparing for his mission.  He's a way cool kid that's  convert himself and he and his younger sister who was baptized in December are the only members in his family.  He even went out Joint Teaching with us 2 days last week, and because he doesn't have a car or license he biked everywhere with us.  Like I said this area's so sweet and a lot more diverse than anywhere I've ever lived haha.  We have a bunch of Africans in our ward and some recent converts and a couple people we're teaching too.  I'm looking forward to getting to continue to help these people and work with the ward.  Along with getting Lance Armstrong Quads too! haha

     So I guess in other news I got a nice surprise when I got to the mission home for transfers on Wednesday.  President Howell neglected to tell me about a minor detail of my new area.  I'm now the District Leader here.  That caught me totally off guard.  I found out from the Assistants when one told me he was excited to see the great leadership he knows I'm going to bring to the area.  I'm kinda nervous to have to do the District Meetings now and report on all the other things too.  I'm excited for the opportunity that I have to serve the Elders around me now, but I just hope I can fulfill all the responsibility.

     Now this week I do actually have something for some other people to write on here. haha
Dad:  I hope that you were able to get my package I sent last week.  Sorry it was kind of early, but transfers made things a little crazy!  Especially having to pack up my whole apartment I just moved into and all my own stuff too.  That would be cool if you guys did do a newsletter article.  That'd let everyone know so you wouldn't have to tell the same things over and over again.  I haven't gotten a newsletter if that's what you were asking, but just ask and questions you might need and hopefully I can answer them for you.   I hope that I've given you enough information to write something haha.

Mom:  I'm going to try and answer your questions and concerns from that Ensign article in my letter today because I'm running out of time here haha.  Sorry you'll have to wait a few days for an answer.

Kat and Tom:  CONGRATS KAT!!!!  Nice job on your classes!  That must feel good to be all done now, and now you two are headed to Hawaii?!  That's so cool!  I hope you guys enjoy it.

     Well I think that's all or now.  Good luck with graduation Brady and the end of school Natalie.  I hope all is well with everyone else and I look forward to any sweet new news for next week.  I love you guys and pray for you always!  Thanks for the love and support!  I can't wait to talk to you again.

Love, Alex (Elder Craft)

Monday, May 9, 2011

Closing Down Kasson . . . On to Brooklyn Center/Brooklyn Park

     Man that was so sweet yesterday!!  I was a little frustrated that the camera I was on wouldn't work that well, but it wasn't exactly the nicest camera either.  At least I got to use one though and see everyone.  I was very grateful for that!!  Maybe someday we can Skype each week Mom but I wouldn't get your hopes up haha.
     Well today has been a crazy pouring thunderstorm all morning!  It's pretty intense!  What did I tell you about the weather yesterday Kat?  haha The curse lives on.   But like I said yesterday it was transfer calls this morning.  Despite what I thought and said yesterday about this area apparently the Lord has other plans for it.  Elder Judkins and I are both leaving.  They're pulling missionaries out of Kasson for probably 9 months to a year is what President Howell said, but it won't be his decision by that time anyway.  We were both kind of sad because we've been trying so hard and the members are working to really try and build the kingdom in that area too.  President Howell told us that we were doing amazing things and was really proud of what we had accomplished there.  It just happens to smaller areas sometimes.  We'll have to see what happens in that area over the remainder of my mission and see if they do open it back up.  We are sad that we can't teach Eddy anymore or some of the potential investigators that we had been working with.  Oh well like I said it's in the Lord's hands and he will provide a way for them to receive and accept the gospel into their lives.  Now comes the fun part over the next couple days of not only packing up our luggage but cleaning out the whole apartment.  They're going to be taking our supplies and stuff to the a new area in the Rochester Zone that they're opening called Preston.  That area will probably get our car too.  In case you hadn't guessed unfortunately Elder Judkins and I are not staying together for this next transfer.  That makes 5 new companions for 5 transfers for me.  We'll see if this next companion is from Utah too. haha  Remember how we actually joked about me going to a bike area for the summer?  Well that's exactly what happened!  I'm headed up to the North Shingle Creek Ward.  That's where Elder Katoa came to Menomonie from.  It's North Minneapolis and the area covers the large cities of Brooklyn Center and Brooklyn Park.  So I'll be right next to downtown and everyone knows this area in the mission as "The Hood" haha.  So it's a good thing I grew up in the metropolis of Hooper, Utah.   I should fit right in ;).  I'm excited though.  I've been there once for a baptism that Elder Katoa had us go back to of a guy that he was teaching, so I've met some of the members there too.  It should be really good.  My companions name is Elder Hatch who's been out 3 months and has been trained that whole time in Brooklyn Center/Brooklyn Park.   As for Elder Judkins he's staying down in Southern Minnesota.  His new area is Albert Lea and should be really good for him.  He's a good missionary that I'm glad I was able to serve with and tell stories about our high school soccer games too haha.
     Sorry there's not much else to write.  Thanks for the love support and prayers from you guys though.  It's helped me out a lot!  I really loved being able to just see all you and talk to you yesterday.  I'm glad that I can keep you informed enough that not everyone had to ask a ton of questions.  I'm going to try and attach some pictures and get some other ones sent, Natalie haha.  I hope everyone's doing well still from yesterday.  I can't wait to hear from you guys again.
Love, Elder Alexander James Craft

Monday, May 2, 2011

Preparing for Mother's Day

Hello Crafts,

     All I have to say first is wow!  I couldn't believe the news about Osama Bin Laden when mom told it to me.  That's crazy!  On a happier note though I'm glad to see that there were no new accidents to report on this week.  That's always good!  Everyone just keep doing what we learned in drivers ed and it should be fine! haha jk ;)

     Well May is officially here now, so I'm just waiting, like it sounds like you guys are too, for the flowers that are promised from all the snow and thunder showers.  We're just barely starting to get the buds on most of the trees to come in.  When we woke up this morning we were going to go running, but we wussed out when we saw that the air temperature itself was only 23 degrees.  We're just building more character I guess. haha I can't believe it's still this cold and it's almost Mother's Day!

    Speaking of Mother's Day.  I know that you guys had some questions about this whole Skype call next week, and I've been thinking maybe I'll just make a regular phone call and not let you guys see my face haha.  I mean getting to see me already might just take away the whole surprise and suspense of seeing me for the first time at the end of 2 years haha. ;)  JK  So I'm going to be using Brother Josephson's account and webcam that they have at their house since it's already set up.  His account name is russjjo, and I think he should have that 5.0 software because he's pretty up to date with his computer and stuff like that.  If there is a problem for some reason and we can't get through I'll just give you a quick call to see what's going on since I'm allowed to.  I'm going to try and make the call around 3 pm here so it will be 2 pm there you guys out west and 4 pm for Nick I guess.  I hope that time works for everyone.  I thought it should give everyone enough time to get home from church and get everything done before. Hopefully. Thanks for the heads up about the package too.  I'll be looking for it.

     So it was a pretty good day at church here for us.  It'd was fast and testimony meeting like usual for the first Sunday of the month.  The awesome part about it is that our investigator Eddy that we' haven't really gotten to see much recently came to sacrament meeting with his 2 boys!  We were so excited when we got to visit him last week and invited him to church and he said he could come because he had the weekend off!  It was even better that he actually did make it there.  He was the first investigator the missionaries have had to church in over 6 months I think if not much longer.  So it was good for the members to see that we are working and teaching people.  We were kinda nervous to bring him to fast and testimony meeting though because you never know what the members might "have a testimony of".  haha Especially in the Kasson branch.  Luckily the testimonies were all good with nothing to scary, blasphemes, or deep doctrine brought up.  Probably cause we were just praying for the simple testimonies the whole time. haha  Either way we were just pumped that he was able to come.  It was kinda funny he asked if there was an offering plate they were going to pass around at the end because he's grown up Catholic.  I explained to him briefly about what tithing was that he'd heard a few people's testimonies of and he seemed to understand it.  He even grabbed a tithing envelope on his way out the door.  So like I said it was a good day at church!  Unfortunately later in the day it wasn't as good.  Wouldn't you know that after we'd seen that great miracle with Eddy that Satan has to throw us for a loop and we got a text from one of our other really solid investigators saying he wanted to just "sit tight where he's at" and he "doesn't want to waste our time".  Even though we were really sad and disappointed I know that the Lord will continue to bless us with people that are searching and need the gospel in their lives. We'll just have to keep tracting and looking a little harder to kind them that's all. haha

     It's crazy to think about the guys I know that will be coming home off their missions soon.  Like Mom had mentioned there's Jordan Bowden,  Landon Parker ina  couple weeks, KC John in June, Tyler Grange in July, and Jared Rose around that same time in the fall along with Tanner Wayment.  It's just weird to me now that I'm out here immersed in missionary work to think about them going home. haha

     Well that's all I really have to share that's new here in Kasson.  I'm just waiting for this myth of summer to show up that I keep hearing about just like you guys.  I hope everything's going well and good luck to Brady and Natalie finishing school and everyone else with finals or that are just starting.  I love you guys and can't wait to talk to you next week! 

Love, Alex