Monday, August 29, 2011

Sorry, Mom. I forgot your birthday.

Hello Everyone,

     Are you surprised to get an email that's actually a Monday? haha  Now you won't have to wonder in suspense over the next 48 hours waiting for something to come.  Since I know that's what all of you do.  Once Monday hit at 12:01 everyone turns their computers on and anxiously awaits to email to come. haha  JK

     Thank you for the emails and pictures from all of you!  I know it must have taken some time to do that.  Especially from Brady.  From what I hear it seems like everyone is doing well.  I'm glad to hear Mom's back from Idaho to fix whatever may have happened to the house haha.  Only bad part about Mom not being in Idaho is not only that Camie's on her own with those kids now, but I sent your birthday present up there that Camie and Brock will probably get today or tomorrow haha.  Sorry I thought you'd be there for at least this week.  Just know that I didn't forget about you Mom. :)

     This week in the Shingle Creek has been good.  We haven't had too many things to report on, but all in all it was good.  President Clements came to our District Meeting along with the Zone Leaders so it added a little bit more to our little band of missionaries.  It was a great experience to be able to have him counsel with us and give good insight on what we should do to work with our investigators, and to also hear what he had to say on the training I gave on "The Role of the Book of Mormon"  and how to use it more effectively in our teaching.  President Clements is so great!  He's always so loving, encouraging, and willing to help with anything.  We also had an amazing answer to prayer come at church yesterday.  I can't remember if I've mentioned to you before that we have two deaf investigators that we're working with.  Russ, who I've talked about before, has just been so frustrated trying to understand, comprehend, and communicate about all he's been learning recently.  Then  JV is this awesome guy who's been meeting with missionaries for awhile.  His sister, brother, and one of his "baby mommas" are all members of our church.  He's been watching the Book of Mormon and knows a lot about what's in there.  We haven't been able to meet with him as much recently because he's been gone and his phone has been off so we couldn't text him.  This past couple of weeks we've been able to go over and see him.  We reviewed the Restoration with him because he already knew all of it and has a testimony of it.  We didn't have to teach him hardly anything about it.  The Word of Wisdom has been his struggle for awhile that he's been working on (just like Russ.  Anyone guess where I'm going with this?. . ) .  So at church yesterday both JV and Russ came.  We introduced them afterwards and it was like a train took off from there. They stood and talked (signed) for 15-20 minutes after sacrament meeting in the chapel.  Once we were able to get them into Gospel Principles they just continued from there.  They had their own conversation while Elder Haupt and I taught the class and the interpreter that was in there for them just watched them talk.  After class they didn't even go into priesthood but rather just stood outside in the hall and talked the whole time.  There's another less-active woman in our ward that has recently been coming back really strong who is also deaf that showed up yesterday and talked with them in the hall during priesthood too.  After church we walked around before our coordination meeting to see where they went and they were still talking down at another part of the church.  Sister Fish told us that Russ is really excited now to see the struggles that both she and JV have are just like his; that they're both deaf; and they've been able to overcome these challenges through prayer, scripture study, and coming to church just like we talked to him about .  We have the Book of Mormon on ASL that we've been telling Russ about and after talking to JV and seeing how much it helped him he really wants to get it to start watching.  He told us that he understands alot more now and the interpreter told us she'll have to talk to us later about the conversation that Russ and JV had in Gospel Principles.  From what I could catch in between teaching and based on what few signs I do know I caught a general idea of Russ asking JV about the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity and without even knowing it JV was testifying of what it was, how it will help him, and how he can find strength to overcome.  Sister Kirkham, who was the interpreter, said that JV was basically converting Russ right there at church!  It was so amazing and like I said a miracle and answer to prayer that the Lord provided for us.

     I hope to hear again from you all soon.  Once again thanks for all the emails, pictures, love, and support you guys show to me.  Keep praying for me because as that story goes to show the Lord provides miracles in all sorts of ways to accomplish his purposes.  I love and miss you guys and am always praying for you.

Love, Elder Craft

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Temple Trip

Hey Family!

     I will just apologize now for this email being not on a Monday like usual, and for possibly being a little shorter too.  We went to the temple as a zone this morning, so that's why P-Day has been moved to today.  It was amazing to be able to go with a group of about 18 Elders and Sisters and spend that time together in the House of the Lord.  It felt like the MTC all over again because our session was full of missionaries.  I think that's due in part to the fact that the St. Paul temple here is about 1/3 the size of the Ogden temple, so it can fill up with people really fast haha.  I love it though!  A temple is a temple and I'm so thankful to be as close as I am and to have one in my mission for that matter.  I know some of my friends in other missions aren't that lucky and I really feel blessed to have one I can go to.  Every time I have gone it makes me feel so blessed and lucky to have all of you as the family that I do!  I love and appreciate all of you and the knowledge we have of restored priesthood power and a plan that our Heavenly Father has for us to all be together for eternity!  That's the greatest peace, joy, and knowledge that I have in this life!

     As for this week here in the big "S Creezy" it hasn't been anything to insane.  We're still working with Russ and trying to help him progress.  He's doing well and taking baby steps.  He just gets so frustrated because he can't communicate with anyone at church or even at his house.  He told the interpreter in our last lesson that they are way to slow for him and he can't even understand most of what happens at church.  I'm just glad that we do have as many people in our ward that know ASL as we do because the lessons would go a lot more slowly if we had to write everything out .   We've only had to do that once when we stopped by to see just how things were going and he wanted to talk more.  It's crazy though how real the gifts of the spirit are. There's times that he doesn't even sign to us and just talks and we can understand him.  No one else can even the interpreters sometimes but Elder Haupt and I can.  We're just hoping that he doesn't get so frustrated that he just gives up completely.  Not much to report on Micheal this week.  Slowly but surely we'll get him to the font haha.  One of our other investigators that I might have talked about John Mays up and moved without any warning in typical North Minneapolis fashion.  We had a lesson Saturday and when we went to stop by a few days later his sister told us he'd moved out after our appointment Saturday back to his dad's but they don't know what that address is and he has no phone number now.  We've had a few investigators move on us like this and it's tough to try and track them down again.  We at least have a one block area that it's narrowed down to, so we're confident that with the spirit we can find him.

     That sounds like a crazy week for everyone back home!  Little Raylee's officially  here!  That's so exciting and less than one year after Brandt too.  That's crazy!  Good luck Camie and Brock haha.  No i'm jk.  I'm excited to hear that she's doing well and to see the pictures of her that I did.  She sure looks cute.  It looks like Brandt had a good birthday party Monday too.  That picture that Mom sent of him eating his panda bear cake was hilarious!  He looks just zoned out totally in love with the chocolate he's eating.  I liked the Boston hat on the bear too haha. 

     Well sorry that I have to cut this so short today.  Because we went to the temple we don't have much time to finish all the other P-Day stuff that we have to.  From what I've heard everyone seems happy and healthy and I'm happy to hear it.  I love and miss you all and look forward to talking to you again on the first normal P-Day in a while on Monday.  I'll keep you in my prayers and talk to you in 4 days haha.

Love, Elder Craft

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Another Zone Conference

Hey Craft Family and Friends!

     Sorry that I wasn't able to email you all yesterday.  We had Zone Conference on a Monday again, so P-Day was pushed to today.  I think they  purposely schedule it on Mondays to see how well we as missionaries are at either planning or surviving or possibly both haha.  Planning to see if we actually do plan ahead and have enough food that we're not eating any last grains of rice or something on Monday because all our food supply was rationed just for a weeks time.  Then surviving for those missionaries who might actually do that haha.  I'm jk Zone Conference was great!  I think I say that every time but I just love when Zone Conference rolls around every few months!  I feel so motivated and spiritually uplifted to go out and conquer all of Minnesota haha.  It's great to be able to just be around a large group of missionaries that are all going through the same sort of things you are and have such great experiences and testimonies to learn from.  Yesterday President Clements gave a fantastic training on overcoming investigators concerns and feeling true love for those we serve and teach along with a true love for the Gospel.  Especially what's taught in The Book of Mormon.  I really do love it!  We never seem to have enough time to just sit and read from The Book or Mormon during study time.  We do a lot of lesson plans of planning for people throughout the day trying to help resolve concerns and teach to their needs, so it is good and I love being able to study and learn for the time I do.  I've just learned so much so far that I can't even believe and I know that I'm not even close to knowing as much as I would like.  So much to learn and apply and so little time to do it haha.  It was great at Zone Conference for a couple other reasons too.  We had a 3 Zone combined conference and as a result there were a lot of missionaries that were there.  Including Elder Judkins, Elder Russell, and my old District Leader down in Kasson, Elder Nelson.  It's always fun to be able to see missionaries you know and talk to them again, so I had the chance to do that with a lot of them yesterday.  It was funny cause Elder Baxter the one I played against from Layton was there too, so as Elder Judkins and I were talking he walked up.  It was like a Region 1 soccer reunion haha.  Elder Haupt was like, "man I swear you've played everyone in soccer" haha.  The tradition here in the MMM is to have all new missionaries come up to the front after lunch that have come out since the last Zone Conference and people can raise their hands to tell facts they know about each one.  Once there's not any more hands the trainer gets to come up and introduce and fill in anything else about him.  So with Elder Haupt I went up and to start it off I said, "yes he is a cyclist like you all know, but a lot of people have asked about his wrist.  So for those of you who don't know we actually took the training wheels off his bike last week and now you can see what happened". haha It's a good thing he's a good sport and just kind of goes with my sarcastic sense of humor haha.  It's always a good time to see what random facts come up about missionaries.  I'm pretty sure with most of the "facts" missionaries blurt out it's like a game of "2 truths and 1 lie" type thing.   Just judging by the faces of the missionaries it's said about and from my own experience haha.

     As for Elder Haupt and his injuries we had to go to the Dr. last week by order of Salt Lake and found out from the Dr. that he had "a crack in his radius".  He didn't know whether it was broken or if it was just his growth plate that never fused together.  Now he's been wearing this carbon fiber type splint for the past week that's just held in place with an ACE bandage and only has to wear it for a few more days.  I guess to put it simply he's doing fine  and his bike didn't have hardly any damage either, so we were lucky.

     Thank you soo much for your letters and emails!  I really appreciate it from all of you!  It means a lot because I know how busy your civilian lives are haha.  Don't feel bad if you don't write every week though.  I know that it doesn't mean you love me any less, so don't feel guilty like you have to write me.  Just whenever you have a chance is nice.  You know where I am for the next few months too so there's no rush! ;) haha

     Just to kind of answer or respond to some things you all asked or said:

Mom and Dad:  That's really cool about the talk you got to hear on prayer Mom.  It really is such a powerful thing that I'm trying to work on as well.  I know that it is a communication tool that we have been to graciously given by our loving Father in Heaven that wants to hear from us and help us.  I've seen it personally and with other missionaries and people.  The last district meeting I did was actually on prayer.  I appreciated the testimony you sent too Mom.  Thank you.  That's too bad to hear about Camie's almost big event.  That has to be frustrating. but I'm sure there's a reason why.  That  probably doesn't help her much with pain or frustrating but it's all I have to offer haha.  The friend you ran into Dad was Tyler Smith.  You can tell him too that I never heard back from either him or Mitch since I wrote them in the MTC.  I don't know what happened but I look forward to talking to him.  He's so funny!  I love that guy!  Thanks for Tavan's address too.  I'll be sure to write him a Wilkommen lettern. ;)

Nick and Tati:  Thanks so much for the email!  I really enjoy hearing from you guys and now knowing that nothing too crazy has happened I guess.  Anytime I hear about anyone going to or that's been to DC at all I always talk about you guys.  I just have one question, so what is it that you are doing at your internship exactly? Is it basically exactly what it sounds like something for Human Rights?  I'm just kind of curious ha.

Kat and Tom:  That sounds like a ton of fun for you two kids! Lagoon and Seven Peaks back to back in one week.  You just lived every 6th graders dream! haha jk that really does sound like a lot of fun.  I'm glad you had a good time and liked the new rides.  Did you go on the giant half pipe at Seven Peaks?  I think it's called Boomerang or something like that?  It was pretty intense when I went on it a few years ago.  Good luck with the sealing plans and everything.  I hope it all works out for you.  I'll keep praying that it does.  Regardless it sounds like your trip is going to be amazing!  Those pictures looked sweet!  Maybe in a few years when you do go back I'll have to tag along and try to unthaw from this next winter here. haha ;)  My address here is 4709 76th Ave. N. Brooklyn Park, MN 55443.  You don't really have to send me anything, but if you insist on trying this new packing method I guess I can't stop you ;) haha  Thanks you guys are the best!

     Well thanks again for all you guys do for me!  All your support, love, and prayers are definitely felt and appreciated!  I love this Gospel and the blessing it brings to my life and to all of us as an eternal family!  You're the greatest and I love and miss you!  I can't wait to hear from you again.

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, August 8, 2011

Learning to Interpret the Signs

Dear Crafts,

     I hope that everything is going well for all you there.  Elder Haupt and I had a good week.  We were able to meet with Russ, our deaf investigator, again last week and he came to church.  He wants to learn so bad but feels overwhelmed that he can't take it all in at once.  We had a lesson in Gospel Principles yesterday all about Family Responsibilities and how the family unit is suppose to work and function together.  He got a little upset.  Not so much at the teacher or any of us just more so with trying to understand how that could work.  It just made him think about his own childhood and the situation he was in with all the trials and things he went through.  He got up and left in the middle of class and went outside to calm down.  We found him after class a few minutes later coming back in from outside for priesthood.  He told us in the easiest sign language possible that he just need a cigarette to calm down haha.  I just kind of thought to myself, "well I know what lesson we need to teach next" and that "I guess it's not the worst thing he could do at church" haha.  It's just interesting working with these sort of situations.  Like I said he's a great guy he just has some things to learn, but I have faith he will overcome these struggles.  Sorry that was kind of a random story but I get a lot of those in a week haha.  This lesson this week and the one last week on the blessings of Eternal Families made me really think about you guys back home.  I really am just so thankful for the blessing that you all are in my life.  Mom and Dad have done an amazing job of making our family the way that it is.  I really appreciate and am grateful for the opportunity I've had to grow up with loving parents and siblings I can trust with a foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for me to build my own life upon.  It makes me realize how great this work we are doing is in helping others realize the same blessings they can have in their own lives.  That firm foundation they can have.  One that if they build upon " they cannot fall".  So I just thought I would tell you all how thankful I am for each one of you and the blessings of peace, comfort, joy, and love that you've brought into my life.

     As far as anything new there's not too much to report on.  Micheal is still doing well.  Unfortunately he didn't come to church yesterday, but because he has been to church about 13 times now he is still scheduled to be baptized on the 20th if he comes to church next week.  We'll keep praying and definitely keep our fingers crossed for him.

     There were some pretty exciting stories from yesterday that I could tell.  They both were last night and the one happened when Elder Haupt and I were going down an overpass sidewalk.  We were picking up speed going down and about half way down his feet slipped off his pedals or something to that effect happened and caused his bike to turn right in front of mine.  He went over the bike on the sidewalk and slid about 20 feet.  Luckily I had swerved just out of the way of his bike and past him, but by the time I'd hit my brakes and come to a stop, after my 20 foot skid, he was getting up out of the gutter on the side walk to pick up his bike.  He got some nasty road rash on the back of his left hand and shoulder.  His shirt and slacks got shredded up pretty good, and his helmets cracked on the side where he hit.  For how bad it could have been though he's pretty lucky.  I felt bad that he was hurt but I just told him I'm so glad he didn't some how take me out on his way down and make it a 2 man bike pile up, or that I didn't hit him and make things worse for both of us.  He's a little sore today but doing fine.  We have to go to the doctor as a rule of the mission to get him checked out today, but all in all we know the Lord knows, loves, and protects His missionaries.  The next story is better haha.  After his wreck we got his bike up and just walked the short half mile to the Elm Creek Elder's apartment.  Luckily we were just on the edge of our area down the street from their apartment, and even better they were home so we could clean up his cuts.  After we were finished and going to head home we went down to our bikes that were locked on the fence right next to theirs and Elder Turner's seat was gone haha.  All 4 of our bikes were there locked up, but only his seat was gone.  We could not believe that someone honestly stole a bike seat haha.  We laughed pretty hard at that, so it helped add a little humor to the night at Elder Turner's expense.  It made me realize too why we do lock up our helmets down in North Minne.  Sometimes I wonder about people and the reasons they do things that they do.

     Well I think that that's all as for the update from here in "The Hood" haha.  I love and miss all of you and can't wait to hear from you again.  Hopefully there's more stories and things to report on next week.

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, August 1, 2011

A Little Stability

Hey Everyone,
     I'm glad to hear that everyone at home is doing well.  This week for us was great.  Transfer calls were this morning and for the first transfer of my mission I am keeping the same companion.  Elder Haupt and I already knew that though because this new training out line is 12 weeks long.  It wasn't any real surprise to us not getting a call this morning, but we are excited to keep up the hard work and seeing the blessings of the Lord here in The Hood haha.  I did get one change this morning with transfers.   There's now a set of Sister missionaries in our district.  So now instead of just us four Elders we have two Sisters as well.  It will be pretty cool I think.  I haven't been in a district with Sisters yet on my mission.  What's cool too is that all three of us companionships here consist of a trainer and trainee.  Plus, Sister Daniel is the Sister that came out with me from my MTC district.  That's basically all the news I have for now though at least about changes with transfers haha.
     I told you all about a couple new investigators last week Russ and Pierre, so I figured I'd give you a little update on them from this week.  Russ is still doing great and he came to church again yesterday.  He has a lot of questions that we're trying hard to answer for him as he's trying to learn.  He's great and always really excited to see us.  He was asked a couple funny questions yesterday to the interpreter about us.  One was if we were the prophets which really isn't too crazy for him to think because he's learning all about what a prophet even is.  The next one that made us laugh was why we weren't married yet. haha He's just a funny guy.  As for Pierre. . .man he was one interesting character.  We met with him 4 times total last week that probably combined was 9 hrs total.  What started last week as a lot of questions turned into a quiz on our scriptural references each time we went.  He wanted answers and we'd give them to him, most with a Bible reference in fact, but nothing sufficed.  He wanted firm evidence about our relationship with God and Jesus Christ, the origin of The Book of Mormon, and Joseph Smith's First Vision.  Things that can't all be provided and proved through just Bible reference.  That makes the entire definition of Faith obsolete.  We even had a lesson at the mission home with President Clements on Friday so that he could help teach and see what we were talking about first hand.  We were so excited about Pierre, but by the end of the week we realized that it might not be the best investment of time to continue to work with him. I'm glad that I got to know and meet him.  He's a great guy and it was a great experience both for my testimony and knowledge to grow in.  Next time I run into another Evangelical type personality I'll know what to expect. 
     We had an amazing miracle on Wednesday.  Micheal, who I've mentioned before, text us and said that he had decided on a date and wants to be baptized on the 20th of August!  We were amazed because we haven't been pushing or really meeting with him to  much, but the Lord and the Spirit can work wonders within people.  We met with him Friday and his whole countenance has changed.  He was so happy talking about being excited to be baptized!  It was nothing short of a miracle that came as an answer to much fasting and many prayers.  Thanks everyone for the prayers and support because we were able to see the fruits of that labor this past week.  
     We're really excited to continue in the work and miracles that we've seen here.  They're all around us and August is going to be ab amazing month!  What is kind of weird for me is that this Wednesday Elder Blume, my trainer, will be going home.  He's the first companion of mine to go home and it's weird to think that he'll be headed back to Utah.  He's a great missionary that taught me alot.  If you ever run into a Joshua Blume from American Fork that's him haha.  Elder Pilcher is going home this Wednesday too so the MMM will only have one Hooperite for a little while.  That is until Elder Mead comes on up to the land of 10,000 lakes, windchill, and extreme heat index haha.
     I love you all so much and once again thank you for all the love, support, and prayers given on my behalf.  You guys are great!  I'm glad to hear about the good news for you Kat!  Congratulations!! And I look forward to more good news from Camie and Brock here in a few weeks.  I can't wait to hear from you all again.  Sorry it's not too long, but there will be more miracles to report on next week :).
Love, Elder Craft