Monday, June 27, 2011

The New Arrival

Dear Craft Family,

     It was so good to hear from all of you!  I'm glad that the snow is finally starting to melt in Utah.  Now you know what 6 months of snow is like and what I have to look forward to here.  Only thing is there's no mountains that it stays in here.  One of the members here told me that just last week they still had a snow pile in St. Paul in one of the parking lots from October when it first snowed.  So I don't know how bad I can feel that there's still snow in the mountains back home haha. From what a couple of you have said it sounds like Utah's not so brown anymore.  I just can't imagine a summer of all green and no worries of drought.  That's crazy for me to think about!

     So my new companion is Elder Haupt from Oregon.  He lives in a town outside of Portland.  I called him a "Greeny" last week but that term isn't correct here in the MMM anymore I guess.  The new missionaries are now called "Goldies".  I don't know where exactly President Howell came up with that from, but it might have something to do with the Golden Gophers I think.  That's just my own personal speculation though hahaha.  As you already know he's been out in the mission field for 5 days now and just transferred from Provo haha.  It's been going really well so far and I'm excited to get to work with him.  Like Kathleen pointed out to me he will be my longest companion and this my longest area.  It's pretty cool though because just serving in Shingle Creek ups my street cred (or Cool Scale like Kat's) for the other missionaries.  Plus, biking everywhere builds good character haha.  Or at least I've been told that.  We've had a lot of miracles and people let us talk to them and teach them while contacting on their door steps or in the park and stuff like that.  It's been really cool to see.  Elder Haupt's faith is through the roof and is awesome to feed off and work with.  The one thing about training that's funny for me is how many questions he has about everything we do.  It's not like they're overbearing or anything like that.  I just forget that he doesn't already know that and how much we really have to learn at the beginning of our missions.  He came out in a  group of 20 new missionaries!  There's a ton of us training.  One of the missionaries he came out with is an Elder Checketts from Woods Cross, so I knew the name and went to talk to him after.  Turns out he's the nephew of Dave Checketts, owner of RSL, and we played each other for preseason in  high school and stuff.  That was kinda cool.

     President Howell had a final fireside last night and all the missionaries in the cities were invited with investigators and all less actives or recent converts in the mission.  Lets just say that Bloomington Chapel was filled to capacity, but it was way cool to hear the powerful and heartfelt testimonies of President and Sister Howell.  I'm really going to miss them but look forward to meeting President and Sister Clements.  They fly in on Wednesday and the Howells will be flying out.  I guess Elder Haupt was telling me that they shut down all of 1M (the main building in the MTC) except for the cafeteria part this whole last week because The First Presidency was there training the new mission presidents.  1/3 of all the worlds mission presidents are being changed this week.  That's crazy!  It would have been even more insane to be in the MTC during this last week, like Tavan, to maybe even see President Monson, Eyring, or Uchtdorf.  I'm going to have to write him about that whole thing. 

     I'm glad that those of you in Hooper were able to see Cody an d KC.  Man I miss those guys so much!  But when we do get together again it's going to be just like the reunion of Alma and the Sons of Mosiah!  It's so cool for me to be able to tell people here of the amazing friends that I have serving all around the world spreading the Gospel to all nations, kindred, tongues, and people. 

     Sorry this email is not super long but I think that the computer might be kicking me off sooner than usual because there's so many people here today.  I'll conclude by the traditional response to those people haha.

Kat and Tom:  I'm so glad to hear that you are recovering and doing so much better!  That's so exciting about your trip to the big island and sealing. I wish that I could be there to support you guys, but just know I'll be there in spirit. haha  Good luck with the nursing school application too.  I've been praying for you.  I'm glad that I was able to help your coolness go up a little bit.  The Golden Gophers have the power to do that ;) haha.
Brock and Camie:  I'm glad that you had a nice birthday and thank you so much for the advice and the story.  I'll take any advice that you have ever.  Thanks for all your guys' love and support of me.  I'm glad to hear that little Raylee's doing well too.

Dad and Mom:  Thanks for the letters last week and updates on the farewells and homecomings. haha I talked to Sister Howell and she said last night that they are very excited to meet you guys inparticular.  It's good to hear that you're trip was a success and it went well.

     Sorry once again that this isn't a very exciting email.  Hopefully it will be more so next week.  I'm so thankful for your letters, emails, and support.  I hope you have a good time in Idaho.  Try to not let all the wind get you down ;)!  I miss you guys and look forward to talking to you again soon!

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, June 20, 2011

It's a Boy!

Dear Family,

     I'm glad to hear from what Mom was able to tell me that everyone's doing well.  I'm a little confused as to what this award scarf thing is that Brady got but I guess when you're out of the loop that's what happens haha.  I hope that everyone was able to have a good Father's Day. I'm glad that you like the card Dad.  I hope all goes well with you traveling and everything this week.  The Father's Day for us was just the same as everyday in case anyone was wondering haha.  We did get transfer calls last night which was a little different because those usually come on the Monday morning before transfers, but President Howell's leaving so he kind of does what he wants.  Unfortunately for us our phone has really been acting up recently.  It turns itself off and won't let us turn it back on until it decides.  It's really frustrating and was even more so yesterday.  It shut off as we were leaving to bike to church and we couldn't get it back on until we got home after church and our coordination meeting.  When we did finally get it to work we had a missed call from President Howell for me to call him back.  Only problem is that he didn't answer when I did.  I wish that I could express the amount of stress that that dumb phone put us under yesterday.  I was ready to throw it down the street and make it "give up the ghost" haha.  We just had to leave for a couple appointments we had from the day before when we were tracting.  Elder Hatch and I started praying in our hearts that it would turn back on just to call President Howell and our dinner appointment who'd also called earlier.  All I have to say is that the Lord provides those tender mercies and answers prayers.  Even the small seemingly insignificant ones because we got it turned back on.  We had another missed call from President Howell but because our phone was running on the spirit this time I called him back and got to talk with him.  He asked me how my obedience and companionship study was going.  I told him pretty good and his exact response was, "well we're going to have to try and make it even better.  I want you to train one of those new missionaries coming in Elder".  I'm now going to be training for the next 2 transfers (3 months) with this new missionary that comes in on Wednesday.  He'll be my companion that I'll have had the longest and Shingle Creek will be the longest area I'll be in.  I'm excited to be able to help this new missionary with the start of his mission.  Sorry that was kind of a long story just about a malfunctioning phone but like I said it was alot of added stress and problems for us at the most inconvenient of times.  Isn't that how it always is though? haha  Like you've probably already all figured out Elder Hatch by default is now leaving and being transferred for the first time in his 4 1/2 months out.  He's going to North Branch which is only about 40 miles north and a little East of here.  From what I've heard it's a great area he's really going to love.  I'm really glad I got the opportunity to learn and grow with him through all the different experiences we've had the past 6 weeks.  It's a little sad the our district couldn't stay together because we all really like each other but the Lord knows what he's doing.  Elder Kingston is moving North of Elder hatch  a ways up to a place called Askov for the last 6 weeks of his mission.  He's going to the U right when he gets home and said he wants to go up to Hooper to visit my family.  So if you have an Elder Joey Kingston from LA who's going to the University of Utah show up on the front step one day to say hi you'll know why. haha Elder Bennett is still going to be here with me from our district for the next 2 transfers too because he's training also.  It's going to be interesting now being the "oldest" missionary in our district .  We'll have to 2 new Greenies and Elder Bennett who just finished his 3 months of being trained by Elder Kingston.  President Clements will be coming in this week I think with the new missionaries.  I hope you were able to get the forward of when and where President and Sister Howell will be speaking.  It's weird to have them go but I'm excited to get to know and help President Clements any way I can now.

     As for any new news here on the work Micheal is still working towards being baptized.  We met with him a couple times last week.  He's been taught everything, interviewed, and read The Book of Mormon.  He's so ready but like he told us last week he's the only one holding himself back.  He's nervous to mess up again once he is baptized, so it's a legitimate concern.  We are just trying to encourage and assure him that he is ready without him feeling pushed or unsure about getting baptized at all.  I have faith that he will be baptized in the next few weeks it's just a matter of him feeling ready and confident.

     That's about all for the exciting and new information here.  I have one more question that Brady might be able to answer.  KC John should be either home or coming home this month and I was just curious when his homecoming was or will be?  I'm glad to hear that all is well and I hope that everyone will continue to be blessed and watch over.  I pray for you all always.  I love and miss you and can't wait to hear from you again!

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, June 13, 2011

From 0 to 130 in Less Than 90 Days!

Dear Crafts,

     I'm so glad to hear that everything's going well with all you guys!  This week for me has been a little crazy but very good as well.

     To start it off we had a training from President and Sister Howell this past Tuesday mostly talking about the transition of mission presidents and finishing strong and continuing the success for President Clemens.  Basically the same stuff that they've been talking about for the past few weeks.  It's crazy in 2 weeks they'll be getting all the stuff ready to go back to Utah.  I think if I remember right Dad or Mom had mentioned something about going to their homecoming.  So after the training when they were talking to all of us I mentioned that to them and they said that they look forward to meeting you if you end up making it down there.  That's pretty weird for me to think about that you could be meeting my mission president that I've spent the past 7 months with.  The training was good but we had a real shock come after.  Like usual Elder Hatch and I rode our bikes there but it was early in the morning so there was nothing out of the ordinary.  When we walked outside afterwards it felt like going into an oven!  It was 103 degrees out with 98% humidity all day!  The breeze that was blowing was just hot air and the ride from the church to our apartment just drenched me in sweat.  It was pretty gross.  It seriously felt like we were cooking the whole rest of the day riding around.  Apparently that was a record day for the Twin Cities.  It hasn't been that hot in like 25 years here let alone this early into the summer.  We not only set that record but the Twin Cities was also the hottest spot in the country for that day!  I don't ever really wish for the winter but that day I was just amazed that at one point a few months ago I was almost 130 degrees colder!  Minnesota's just crazy!

     The baptism we had Saturday was amazing!  Tony was the one who ended up getting baptized.  He was so ready!  He's going to be an amazing disciple of Jesus Christ and member of the church for the rest of his life.  He wanted a member, our Ward Mission Leader, Brother Doolittle to baptize him.  It was a really great baptismal service and his mom even came.  Hopefully we'll get to talk with her about that soon and see what questions she might have.  They even had me to the chorister for the baptism. Luckily for me "How Firm a Foundation" is in 4/4 and "Come Follow Me" in 3/4 so I didn't have too much trouble haha.  Yesterday I had the honor of confirming Tony a member of the church and bestowing the gift of the Holy Ghost upon him.  I was a little nervous but it went over really well I thought.  I don't remember much of what was said but I do know that it was longer than 5 seconds so the Lord put the thoughts and words in my mind of what to say.  It was a busy day at church for me though because not only did I get to confirm Tony, but I was also asked to give a 10-15 minute talk on The Plan of Salvation in sacrament meeting.  It was a little stressful trying to cover all the points and things that there are in that without leaving any one event out or short changing anything.  Every point is just so important I felt like I was rambling on pretty fast connecting the different points and scriptures like crazy.  All in all it went well and was a great day at church that we don't get to experience every week. 

     It's transfer time again next Monday, so we'll see what happens.  Who knows it could be companion #6 haha.  I don't have any predictions because all the times I have I've been wrong haha.  It will be interesting to find out for sure.

     Today's only going to be a 1/2 P-Day for me because our district is scheduled to get to go to the temple Thursday!  I'm so excited!  It's been so long and we actually have the opportunity to go here in this mission, so we decided to take advantage of it.  The day we go to the temple becomes our P-Day for the week.  Only problem is that we're out of groceries and our laundry needs to be done so we can have clothes the rest of the week haha.  Plus I figured if Mom didn't get an email until later on Thursday the mission office would be getting a call haha.

     I guess I'll just start to answer some questions people asked and things they said from the emails I got.
Mom:  I did hear about Cassie!!  That's so crazy!  I didn't know it was Bryce Cooke though!  I got a letter that told me about 4 girls I graduated with that are married and 3 including Cassie that are engaged!  That's just to nuts to me.  All I have to say is that most of them didn't surprise me.  I'm just hoping that Cassie sends me an invitation at least haha.

Camie:  That's so good that this year it's going better for you with this little girl.  Don't worry about not writing me.  I just like the letters here and there.  I hope Brock got the package I sent and it wasn't damaged.  I'll bet Brandt looks adorable almost crawling around with all his teeth in that snaggle tooth smile of his haha.

Brady:  Thank you for the letter!  That's so funny you have the exact same job as Scott and Shae.  Did Sidne hook you up with that?  Do you ever see her there?  I'm so glad that you're starting to experience this new thing in your life known in the real world as responsibility ;) hahahaha.  I'm so glad that you loved youth conference and gained such a great testimony from that!  That's what happens every time you go to firesides and study from the scriptures and Preach My Gospel like you talked about.  That's why I told you you need to do all that now to help prepare for that mission.  It's not that far away and once you get out here into the field too all you have is your testimony to rely on.  There's a line in PMG that's so true and says something to the effect of "every man in life is backed up to the wall of his faith and it's there that he must make his stand".  You can have all the knowledge in the world but it's your testimony that will stay firm and be all that you have to stand on at times.  So yeah you are doing a good things dating around, but my advice would be don't focus on that part before your mission.  Focus on learning and growing on your testimony to prepare all that you can spiritually to come out and serve the Lord.  Girls will come and go and there will probably be new ones to date by the time you get home, but a mission is only 2 years that you get to spend once in your life serving the Lord.  Focus on that and the Lord will bless you from your service the rest of your life.  I know you probably know that and are doing that already, but I just felt like I should give you any advice to help you that I can.  And if you're worried about Leah and those other girls being all lonely before you get home just remember I'll be home about 8 months after you leave, so they can survive until then.  I'll be here to help out with that ;) hahaha jk.  

     Well I hope that everyone's doing great and that I get to hear from you guys soon!  I look forward to getting your letters this week.  I love and miss you all and will continue to pray for you.

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, June 6, 2011

Eating, Sleeping and Dreaming Missionary Work

Dear Family,

     Thanks for all the emails and support this week.  I'm glad to know that everyone's doing much better as far as sicknesses go.  It sounds like it was pretty intense for a little while.

     Sorry there's not too much that I have to write this week.  Not too much exciting or note worthy happened.  I did have that leadership training in Bloomington from President and Sister Howell that was very edifiying, uplifting, and spritiual as always.  It really opened my eyes to ways that I can improve myself as a missionary and help the other Elders in my district to do the same.  I'm excited to be able to share what I learned for our next district meeting.  Hopefully this time I won't be as nervous because it's not my first one and I have a lot more material to teach on this time.  That always helps. haha The funny part is that now I have all this that I want to teach and I'm excited for we won't be having district meeting this week.  Go figure right?  Last week we didn't have it because of the training and now this week we're having another specialized training from President Howell.  I think he's trying to do all of these trainings because he has less than a month left!  That's so crazy!  It's going to be weird to see the changes and experience the transition between President Howell and President Clemens.  President Howell keeps making the analogy of relay racing and handing off the baton.  Not slowing down at all.  I don't think that we will.  The one problem I can see is that President Howell's a U of U grad and President Clemens BYU so there's one obstacle that we'll have to get around, but I think it shouldn't be too difficult ;). haha  It was really cool at the training because I got to end the 7 month search that I've had my whole mission. . . I found Elder Dillon Pilcher haha.  He's the other missionary out here from good old H-Town and he was at the training last week.  He saw me and once he figured out who I was he came over to say hi and we talked for awhile during lunch.  The funny part was that he kept saying how different I looked and I had to remind him that's becasue #1 the last time he saw me and I saw him I was a sophomore and #2 i also had longer hair back then that was never parted. haha It was way cool to get to see and talk to him though about his mission so far as one of the few Caran (?) Elders.  Too bad I found him and now he goes home at the beginning of August. haha We did get to take a picture though so I'll be attaching that for those of you who have no idea what or who I'm talking about you can at least put a name to the confusion now. hahaha

     We did have Micheal and Tony's baptismal interviews Friday and they passed!  So we're super excited and looking forward to their baptisms here soon.  It would have been this Saturday but Tony has to work in the morning when the bishopbric wanted to schedule it and has to work the Sunday after so he wouldn't be confirmed even if we did do it that day.  It's nothing too major but those are just some of the obstacles that Satan's trying to throw our way to do all that he can to stop this amazing step they're taking.  Too bad for him we've got the better power on our side :).

     The weather has been heating up here too.  At least in the high 80's for the most part, and I fell for you with the humidity Nick!  Just this morning as we were going out to bike here to the library we walked out side into what felt like some blanket of water I guess is the best way I could describe it.  It wasn't as bad as walking out into a wall but close.

     Oh here's a funny story for you guys.  So as most of you know I talk in my sleep, among other weird subconscious things that I do.  Well Elder Hatch found that out this past week too.  He said I woke him up a few nights ago in the middle of the night from it.  Now that would be normal and what I expected to hear, but then he said that i rolled up into like a fetal postition on the bed and said, "Alright lets pray. . . . I'll say it. . . " and I went on from there.  he said that I offered a pretty good prayer about Tony, Micheal, and Joe some of our investigators and even closed with Amen and everything. haha Now I not only have dreams about missionary work I guess I do it while I sleep haha.  Lets just hope it's only prayers and I don't start "sleep tracting".  I don't think that's be good for anyone involved.

     Now to answer some questions/make some comments.

Tom:  Well was surprised to hear both of the stories you told me.  I think you're one of the only people I know that's ever been sucker punched by a mission president.  Or I guess ex-mission president but still.  You do know that President Howell comes home soon and probably has some built up stress from the past 3 years so I'd stay clear of him ;) hahahaha JK.  I'm glad to hear that you're both doing ok and recovering and that you're working toward that great day on August 20th!!  That's way exciting!  I look forward to the news and pictures from that. 
Well as for the rest of you I hope that everything's going well and that I can hear from you soon.  Thanks again for all the love support and prayers!  I love and miss you guys and will continue to pray that things continue to go well in Utah and Virginia. . .and Idaho too I guess ;) haha.

Alex (Elder Craft)