Monday, July 25, 2011

What? Nothing to say about the weather this week? :)

Hey Family,

     This week was a really great week for us here.  We found some more new investigators and talked to alot of people.  Unfortunately, we didn't make our teaching goal . . .yet. haha We're continuing to work hard this week and are hoping to get it off to a great start and just keep the stone cut from the mountain rolling all week. haha 

     The miracles we have been experiencing here are so amazing!  The Lord has provided new people each week for us to add to our teaching pool and now the challenge is just to know what each of them needs to hear and keep helping them progressing down the path to our Heavenly Father.  You all have heard about Micheal before in some of my emails and this week it's the same story with him.  He knows getting baptized is something he should do, but until he has a change of heart he can't go much further.  We are probably going to have to have a "Do or Die" lesson, as I've heard it called, with him to tell him how we want to help him but that will only come if he helps himself.  I don't want to have to drop him, but sometimes that's what it takes for people to realize and recognize the change that has come in their lives so far and make them want to continue changing.  It's a tough call but with the Lord helping I know we'll be able to do what's right.

      This past week some of those amazing miracles I had mentioned was that we picked up some great new investigators.  Two in particular that we are so excited to work with!  They both came because we just stopped and talked to them on the street.  Russ is a guy that is deaf, so our original street contact was very interesting, but luckily for us he's good at reading lips and texted our number we gave him on the pass-along card later so we could talk to him little better.  We had a lesson with him Friday that was such an amazingly spiritual experience.  We have a certified ASL interpreter in our ward and a couple other members that know sign language, so the lesson went alot better with the interpreter there.  He doesn't really have any religious background or understanding of who Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ really are, but he has such a desire to learn and build that relationship with Them.  It's so cool to be able to participate in sign language lessons and even more cool to watch them pray.  He prayed at the end of our lesson with such a sincere heart we could all feel the spirit fill the room.  He even came to church yesterday and sat right up front with us so he could watch the interpreter and tried to sing the hymns with her too.  He seemed to be enjoying and understanding it and would look over occasionally at us and just smile with a big thumbs up. haha  It was a rough day for Sister Neilson because it was Ward Conference and she had to interpret all the sustainings and spell out all the prophet, apostles, general authorities, and  other leaders names for him. haha She made it through and afterwards he came up to us with a big smile and tried to talk to us.  We're excited to continue to help teach him and help him understand that he is the son of an Eternal Father in Heaven that loves and wants to help him.  The other new investigator is Pierre.  Pierre is a living testament of the Lord preparing people all around us.  On the original street contact he talked with us on the sidewalk for 30-40 minutes asking all sorts of questions and with every response we'd give he'd bring up one or two more questions. haha We had a lesson with him last night at the church and got to hear his whole life story and change he's made.  Pierre is a living Alma the younger in these days.  His line he kept repeating was, "I hate the things of the world I used to love and love the things of God I used to hate".  He's been going to all sorts of churches searching for truth and not being able to find it.  He talked about being "spiritually hungry" and that the other churches aren't feeding him.  He kept saying, "I just want to be fed".  So we gave him The Book Of Mormon and said, "try this feast and see how you feel" haha JK.  He is excited to not just read but he told us "study" the Book of Mormon.  Normally lessons should be between 45 minutes and an hour, but Pierre talked to us for 2 1/2 hours just about questions he has a answers he's searching for!  He had us get some chalk and eraser just so he could write these things down and filled the chalkboard with it.  It was so intense but the spirit was so strong as he talked about these sincere desires that he had and wanted to learn for himself.  We were so excited and so thankful to be able to find someone like Pierre.  I just hope we can answer all those questions for him now haha.  He's very very smart and knows the Bible, so with each answer he wants to know where he can find that in the Bible or most of the time he knows a reference that supports it.  Personal study time this week is going to be pretty intense for us, but I know the Lord will help us to help him the best way that we can.

    That's just a little bit about the things here in "The Hood". haha Elder Haupt and I are still working hard and doing all we can to measure up to the success the Lord had prepared this area for.  There haven't been any crazy events this week.  Or at least nothing crazier than normal haha.  It sounds like everyone's busy and doing well.  I can't wait to hear from you all again soon.  Thanks for the love, support, and prayers!  I love and miss you all!

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, July 18, 2011

The basement runneth over

Dear Family,

     That was so crazy to hear about Kevin Mead!!!  Coming up here to the land of weather extremes and miracles! haha I got chills right when I read that.  I told him I hope that I get to see him and maybe I'll get to train him when he comes out, or at least know who his trainer is.  That's so awesome!  It is crazy that he will be leaving a month before Mitch.  Too bad so sad for him haha.

     As far as the storms Mom yes there have been some crazy ones!  Last week there was a storm on Friday that put some streets under a couple feet of water and shut down 252 one of the major freeways here because it flooded across 2 lanes that were impassable for cars.  They even had a boat out on some streets to get some stranded motorists just a mile or so down the road from us.  We woke up Saturday morning to a couple inches of water in part of the Paynter's basement.  I woke up and went to empty the dehumidifier from that night (that should give you a clue to how humid it is haha) and when I walked down the hall towards the laundry room I was surprised to hear squish underneath my feet and see the water flooded in the laundry room.  It was the worst in there and flooded the food storage room a little bit as well.  Our room was fine except for the wall next to Elder Haupt's bed where it flooded a little underneath there.  None of our stuff was ruined and thankfully none of the Paynter's stuff was either.  The food storage room had water in it but only one box got really wet and because the food was in can inside it nothing was lost.  It was amazing that the floor and carpet underneath and around all the boxes was saturated but only one of them really got wet.  Apparently there was a pipe from outside, that we think is to filter the water our of the cinder blocks, that runs to a drain in the laundry room and that drain was clogged, so because there was so much water it just filled up and overflowed all night.  It was lucky we caught it when we did and it only took 2 hours to basically get everything cleaned and most of the water vacuumed up with the Shopvac.  We were definitely very blessed that it wasn't worse.

     That was a fun little adventure and now for the past few days it's been extremely hot and humid.  Yesterday it was 86 degrees with 97% humidity!  The heat index put it up to 110!  I've never sweat so much in my life I don't think and especially not in a shirt and tie haha.  We were working really hard for that goal we had last week and came close.  We're going to keep working for that this week even with the weather being hot and humid like that all week.  It's going to be fun haha.  It literally feels like walking around in the bathroom just after a really hot shower.  Definitely something I'll never have in Utah haha.  It sounds like that heat's pretty intense for all of you.  Especially just relying on fans to cool the house.  Looks like the days of sleeping under the swamp cooler in the hall are over.  I hope you guys can get it fixed.  That has to be tough.  I can have sympathy for you because even though I'm out in the heat all day I get to come home to a central air conditioned basement.  So I do feel bad for you guys Mom haha :).

     Well sorry it's not very long this week.  There's a ton of people at the library again and I'm running out of time.  I hope that everyone's doing well and staying relatively cool haha.  I love and miss you guys!  I hope to hear from you soon.

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, July 11, 2011

New President

Hello Everybody!  haha

     Thank you so much for all the support and letters from everyone this week!  I really love and appreciate it.

     That's so awesome that you were able to meet the Howells, Mom and Dad.  They are amazing people!  It's funny about Sister Howell how Mom had mentioned she was emotional but just kept on through it because that's exactly how her trainings would go.  Tears or no tears she always had something great to say and teach us and it always came through haha.  It was definitely sad to see them go, but after meeting President and Sister Clements this week I agree with what President Howell said, "things are only going to get better".  President Clements is so great!  He's so great and has that same genuine care and love that President Howell did.  He has a good sense of humor as well.  We have our interviews with him this week, so I'm excited to get to know him even better.  Sister Clements is super nice too and I'm looking forward to the next little while that we have to spend here in this part of the Lord's vineyard working together. 

     That's so crazy about Mitch!  I couldn't believe when I read the Philippines and then to have it be the exact same mission as Brady.  That's incredible!  That's so weird to think that Mitch will be leaving on his mission after I've been out for over a year!  That's so crazy!  He's probably hating the fact that his birthday's so late.  Brady could in all reality have his call about the same time that Mitch leaves.    

     Sounds like things back home are as exciting as ever for everyone.  Brady and Natalie sound like they're having fun on those adventures of theirs.  Is Natalie going to be up in Idaho until the baby's born?

     As far as here in the grand old MMM things are going to amazing!!  Elder Haupt has faith like you wouldn't believe.  Our faith and the hard work we're putting in have definitely been manifest in the miracles of the past week.  Yesterday when we had to call in the numbers for the week we realized that we had almost doubled the amount of lessons from last week (that's not really so impressive because we didn't do so good at all last week haha).  The real miracle was that we were able to pick up 7 new investigators because of those lessons we had been teaching!  The Lord is preparing people all around us and this week we were priveleged enough to work hard, talk to everyone, and find them!  We are always looking for those humble people to teach and they are either in humble circumstances or compelled to be humble by some other way, and down in "The Hood" is where the humble people are.  I have a testimony of contacting and working down in North Minneapolis (just before 8:30-9 pm though jk haha).  Those people down there are always wanting to hear about Jesus and willing and wanting to pray with us!  It's great!  That's where most of our new investigators came from.  Even though it's the Southern part of our area the extra miles on the bike just build character haha.  Being able to see these people grow in their faith of Jesus Christ and His atoning sacrifice make it all worth it.  Now we just have to figure out how to get all these humble people without cars to church and we'll be good haha.  We can only carry so many on our handlebars jk ;).  We've set a goal this week of teaching at least 20 lessons and I know the Lord will provide those people to teach and the appointments we have with all these new people to be solid.  We got close last week and I've done it before in Menomonie so Elder Haupt and I are going to be working like it all depends on us and praying like it all depends on the Lord!

     Kind of as a side note to answer your question Dad yes I am still the District Leader and Training at the same time.  It's great!  I love these Elders in my district.  Elder Haupt and Elder Turner both came out together and Elder Bennett just finished as a trainee and moved into the position as trainer.  It's pretty funny now being the "oldest" missionary in the district.  If you take all the other Elders time out in the field and combine it I've still been out longer.  I never thought I'd be able to say that haha.  We joke about that all the time.
     Well I hope that all of you are still doing well and having a great time wherever you're at haha.  I love and miss you all!  I'm praying for you always and can't wait to hear from you again!

Love, Elder Craft

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

The 4th of July

Dear Family,

     Most of you have been wondering about the 4th of July and the weather.  Well I'll start with yesterday and tell you about the weather later.

     The 4th of July was good we got to go to a huge free breakfast at the church with our ward, the Elm Creek Ward, and Maple Grove ward.  All the wards that meet in our building.  There was a bike ride before with the breakfast at 8:30 and a kids bike parade afterwards.  Our ward was in charge of cooking, but Elder Haupt and I didn't get to do that.  We had enough volunteers from Elders Quorum to survive.  It was quite and event though.  They started cooking at about 7 and were still going until 8:30.  They made about 1200 pancakes with a ton of sausage, eggs, fruit and muffins.  We we rode up there about 8 the other ward had already set up the tables and everything in the parking lot before the bike ride.  It was crazy to see 8 griddles all going at once side by side in the gym flipping pancakes and sausage as fast as they could get them out.  Because the Elm Creek ward was a little short on volunteers to serve Elder Haupt and I did get to do that.  Once we got to eat though it was all worth it.  That breakfast was alot better than the cold cereal I was planning on haha.  Unfortunately here in the MMM we don't waste time or engage our selves in meaningless tasks like being in a parade like missionaries in other places ;) haha jk.  It was kind of weird though not being in or at least going to a parade for the first time in like 8 years.  We basically just tried to get all our other P-Day stuff done and went out tracting after dinner.

     It sounds like from what Mom and Dad said about Idaho that it was a good time and everyone seems to be doing pretty good up there.  I'm glad to hear it.

     Now as for the weather here I will say I'm not to sure how sympathetic I can be to Brady for 100 degrees and no swamp cooler.  Here last week it was up in the high 90's with humidity at about 80%.  Yesterday it had a little less humidity but was still almost 100 degrees most of the day.  Last Friday was crazy hot though.  It got up to 107!  And with the 78% humidity I got to learn about this neat little thing they have hear called the heat index.  It combines the temperature and humidity to show what the temperature actually is and feels like.  So basically the hot version of wind chill.  So with the temperature being 107 and the humidity what it was the heat index put in up at 115 degrees!  Lets just say that was not my favorite biking day so far.  Later that night though the weather made a crazy change on us.  Because of all the hot weather and moisture there was a crazy crazy thunderstorm that rolled in the night.  So in one day of biking we went from sweating through my shirt and slacks to getting absolutely soaked on the ride home with crazy thunder and lightening!  It was so crazy but made things really interesting too haha.   Luckily for us living in the basement of the Paynters it's already cool down there and on top of the the have central air, so when we are home it's a nice relief from the sun, heat, and humidity.  It's pretty funny that everyone here has a dehumidifier in their basements and it's crazy to see the gallons of water that we empty out of it everyday.  That's Minnesota for you I guess haha.

     To answer Dad's question yes we do get the Ensign and can read it but we only get them at Zone Conference, so we'll get them 3 months at a time.  I don't have the July one yet but when we do get it I'll look for that article.

     Sorry that this isn't very long and there's not too much exciting to report on other than the weather.  The pictures I attached are of first this sign to show you I was lying about the temperature on Friday, and the other 3 are of what I found out is called a wall cloud because that's exactly what it looked like and was when it hit us.  It's pretty intense and the pictures don't really do it justice.  I hope that everyone enjoyed the 4th and is doing well.  I can't wait to hear from you next week.  I'll be able report on how it was to meet President Clements next week too.  I love, miss, and pray for you all always!

Love, Elder Craft