Monday, September 26, 2011

Succesfully Rebuilding

Dear Family,

     Thanks for all the love and support from you guys!  I hope that you got the pictures on the email last week and were able to put some faces to the names I've been talking about. haha

     This week in good old Eden Prairie was pretty good for us.  We're still kind of in a rebuilding stage our teaching pool and trying hard to do that.  Things are going well and the Lord's definitely providing for us.  We have a few part member families that we've been working with here in the ward.  One of the members is Brother Dave Barnes.  He's a severely less active brother that Elder White and his other companion stopped by and started working with a little while before I got here.  No one in the ward except his home teacher, who's in the bishopric, knows who he is.  We've been over about 4 times since I've been here and have gotten him to read his Book of Mormon again.  This last week his 25 year old non-member daughter wanted to meet with us.  She was interested in learning because she said that she's seen a change in her dad since we've been coming over and has seen him reading and was curious.  She's now a new investigator of ours and has a lot of potential.  The best part is that both she and her dad came to church yesterday.  Despite the fact that she got off work at 6:30 a.m. they still came and sat next to us.  We were so happy to see them there and for Brother Barnes it was his first time back in a church since his baptism almost 40 years ago!   It was incredible that all we had to do was be there to extend an invitation to him and the Lord took care of the rest.  It all started with an invitation to let us teach him, to an invitation to read The Book of Mormon, and to come back to church.  He told us after sacrament meeting that he needs to get his suit tailored now and that we'd see them next week.  The spirit works on people and all we have to be is be the instrument and mouth piece.  It's amazing!

     Like I said we're still trying to build up our teaching pool here and will be continuing that effort this next week.  We're working with a couple other part member families and will keep trying to help them.  There's a couple potential that we have found over the past few weeks just from knocking on doors after our dinner appointments.  They both seem really solid and would be great to actually be able to teach.  One was a former body builder who has won MR. MN 2005.  This guys huge but one of the nicest guys I've ever met.  We've gone over and talked with him while he's been in his garage a couple of times for like 30 minutes each time.  The last time we talked about what we do as missionaries and that whole deal.  He couldn't believe first of all that we were not actually from any town even close to here Chaska.  Once we explained where we were from, how long we're here for, and what we do as missionary work goes he was just amazed.  It was even funnier when Elder White told him that we'd only known each other for 2 weeks too.  He didn't see how it was possible that we could just live with a complete stranger we never knew before for any extended amount of time. haha  He's really interested now in learning more about what we believe and we're hoping we can do that sometime this week.  He's really busy.  When he's not working he's at the gym, and when he's not doing either of those he's working on his '67 Chevelle that he's built all by hand.  The best part is that his neighbors right across the street are some way solid members that they're kind of friends with already.  Hopefully I'll have more to update with Adrian for next week.

     So the end of this week is "The Missionary Super Bowl" more commonly known as General Conference and we're pretty excited!  Really being able to hear modern scripture and counsel coming from inspired men that commune with God is such a blessing.  It's our unique message to the world that just like in times of old there are apostles and a prophet called  just as Moses, Noah, Nephi, and Moroni to help all of us as His children in our individual lives.  No other church has that and I feel like I should have appreciated that more when I was at home.  One of the people that was not so excited to have us knock on his door this week said something to try and bash with us that really made my testimony grow and for me to appreciate the fact of modern revelation.  He told us that all we need was Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and that we really shouldn't read anything else.  In his attempt to try and argue about The Book of Mormon he also discredited the entire Old Testament and a majority of the books in the New Testament as unimportant and irrelevant.  Even though this guys was an idiot I refrained from saying that too him because we as a society don't generally enjoy that, and just felt bad that he really thinks that God, our Eternal Father and Almighty Creator, would limit His power and knowledge that He wanted us to know as His children to the 4 Gospels and that's it.  It made me think of the scripture in 2 Nephi 29 not only the verses that say "And because my words shall hiss forth—many of the Gentiles shall say: A Bible! A Bible! We have got a Bible, and there cannot be any more Bible. But thus saith the Lord God: O fools" But also the verses where it says that "there are more nations than one. . . and [the Lord] speaks the same words unto one nation like unto another".  That's something I know that's true.  I know that God loves all His children equally and that The Book of Mormon is true and is evidence of that.  That Joseph Smith was a true and living prophet to restore Christ's church and authority to the Earth and that President Thomas S. Monson is the living prophet for us in this dispensation.  It made me even more excited for conference after talking with that guy!

     I'm glad that the sealing went well.  That's so cool!  Hopefully everyone going to DC has fun too.  Speaking of which thanks for the email and pictures updating me on the crazy things going on there Nick.  I did end up getting that email 3 times I just for got to comment on it I guess.  I'm just glad it wasn't worse and you guys are doing alright out there.  I'm excited to here that little Raylee's actually being blessed on what should be considered a national holiday on October 9th! ;) haha It's a very momentous day. haha

     Well I look forward to being able to talk to you all again and here more about the adventures that everyone's having haha.  I love and miss all of you!

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, September 19, 2011

Settling In

Dear Crafts,

     I almost feel like after that story Dad sent me and what I heard about the game from members at church yesterday that we all need to take a moment of silence for all those grieving cougar fans out there. . . . HAHA!!! That's so funny!  I was glad to hear about that.  Especially since Elder White's a BYU fan haha.

     Back on the subject of missionary work. Things in Eden Prairie are going well.  Elder White and I get along great and are working really hard to try and build up the teaching pool here.  It's taking a little time but there's amazing potential and people here.  We just have to get and work to find them.  This ward is great and really missionary minded.  We're blessed to be serving in a ward like this.  Hopefully we will have more exciting things to report on for next week.

     The Bishop gave us the opportunity to bare our testimonies and for me to stand
and introduce myself yesterday.  It was good to kind of make an appearance and share our testimonies with the whole ward and show them we're here to work.  There an uncanny amount of people that came up to me after with question about people I know that live in Hooper.  One member, Sister Ward, is the great aunt of Braxton Willie and then as Mom got to find out Sister Neilson, who we had dinner with last Sunday, grew up right across the street from Blakeley Charlesworth's mom.  So that was weird when they asked where I was from and said they knew someone out near Hooper.  The world within the church really is very small.  Especially here where everyone seems to be from Utah or knows someone from there haha.

     That's great Kevin did so well yesterday.  That is kind of early to have his farewell but with Stacie coming home now too it makes sense.  Lots of crazy things going on back in Hooper.  It's too bad that Brady make it and then that you missed Elder Dillon Pilcher speak on the amazing MMM.  Hopefully you'll get to talk to him soon about it.  Maybe they'll have him speak again haha.  The Assistants  were asking me about "this Elder coming out from Hooper next transfer".  It's so cool to think about where he'll be trained and who will train him.  I'm excited to find out!  He's going to love it.  Especially since the temperature just dropped like 20 degrees this last week.  Winter's just around the corner.  Time to build some character haha.

     That's so exciting for you Kat and Tom!  I wish I could be there to support you, but I'm just glad to know that it's still going through.  I know we weren't sure if all the documentation would be ready for awhile so I've just been praying for you, and those prayers were answered.  Just know that I'll be thinking about you guys tomorrow!  I can't wait to see the pictures.  I'm sure it's going to be great with what I've heard about it!

     So I'm hoping today to attach some pictures from Shingle Creek for you and I'll probably print some to send as well. There's only a couple from here that I could put on and one is of the Temple of Ekenkar!  The people at this church are completely insane!!  The one and only "Temple of Ek"  is here in Chanhassen and it's their world headquarters.  These people in the simplest terms I can describe it are just nuts!  They believe in basically everything which means they believe in nothing.  They're not Christian and they read from a book that their leaders wrote in 1965 as their scripture known as the Seriyat.  They're know for their spiritual exercises that they do.  They chant to word "HU"  over and over and over.  They call it a spiritual exercise that each member does everyday for up to 20 minutes.  They do it to soothe and they chant to word "HU" because "it's the sacred, ancient name for God and the vibrations you feel on your throat as you do it are because it's sacred".  I want you guys to try it just take a nice deep breathe. . and chant "HU" in a nice soothing voice for 20 seconds while touching your index and middle finger to the side of your throat and repeat as need for up to 20 minutes.  Their claim is that it's a "love song to God that will soothe both of you and bring you closer to Him".  When they meet to "worship"  they all do this chant as a group and it's called a "HU Song" .  They're led by their "Temple Masters"  and their "prophet" as they referred to him is "The Ek Master".  The best part is that I'm not even having to make up any of these names or titles and I was told all of this by one of the followers when we tracted into him.  You could probably Google it to find out more.  I can't even tell it all that well over an email.  There were plenty of things we came up with after talking to him about the Grinch hating the "HU"s and their "HU song" that's why he stole Christmas.  We're just waiting for a rapper to now come out with the name "Master EK".  I can totally see it haha.  They're really nice people just a little on the blasphemous, apostasy side of things haha.  I'll just have to remember to tell that story in person. haha

     Well I hope that everyone is doing well and I can't wait to hear from you all again.  I love and appreciate all that you do for me and I hope to have more stories about investigators and the true Gospel of our Heavenly Father and maybe not so much about the Ekites next week haha.

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, September 12, 2011


Dear Everyone,

     Haha I'm running out of fun clever ways to start off these emails each week.  This week was definitely busy and chaotic in a sense.  I spent all my time trying to pack up not only my stuff but Elder Haupt was having to pack up his stuff to move the few miles down to the Southern end of the ward.  We had to try to divide up supplies and the Area Book into North and South again. Amid all this we were trying to figure out the final details so that Elder Haupt would have a place to live and trying to see these investigators that I've grown to love.  We didn't get to see all of them but we did see a few people.  I don't know what it is but the last couple moves of mine haven't been as easy as they could be. Most of the time transfers are just you packing up and getting your stuff out and on to your new place.  Oh well we got it all done so that's what's important haha.  We do transfers here a couple different ways depending on where you serve.  Almost everyone in the mission that's being transferred will meet at the mission home on transfer days to meet their new companion.  You can either get there in your own car if you're close or what I've done every time is get a ride with a member there.  Once you're ready to leave the mission home and get to your new area you will ride with the member that brought the missionary that you're replacing typically or with a member that is taking missionaries to your area.  The only time it is different usually is of you're heading South to the Rochester Zone or North to Duluth.  South isn't that different.  You just ride with the other group of missionaries going down in a members van that they have and your luggage goes on a trailer.  The ones going North are the only ones that have to ride a bus.  They catch a Greyhound from the mission home, so they have to weigh their bags and make sure they're not over 50 lbs and all that fun stuff.  For that reason I'm not particularly excited to ever be moved up there.  Transfers are usually pretty smooth and easy though so I'd tell a certain worried friend of ours not to worry about it because the Zone Leaders coordinate everything out here really smoothly.  :)  It's funny what Lance said about being with your companion more than your wife because that's something we've talked about a few times out here.  Realistically you are with your companion about 23 hrs of the day.  You definitely learn to cooperative and survive together haha.  Either that or it can be the longest 6 weeks of your life.  We get our money each month or MSF ( Missionary Support Fund) automatically from Salt Lake at the beginning of each month.  They give you a debit card when you come out that is directly connected to that account so it's nothing complicated either.  These are good questions but I would tell them not to worry about it again.  Kevin should have his own personal account to use for things that MSF doesn't cover like I do but not to worry.  Everything will be taken care of haha.   I actually got my boots for free from some members in my first area.  They had some used ones that fit that they just gave to me so it saved me some money.  Mine are some Thinsulate boots.  I don't know the specific name but Thinsulate is the brand and typically the best brand to get.  I wouldn't worry about getting any specific ones before coming out unless he finds some really good ones he wants to use.  Most missionaries I know have gotten theirs out here when they get to their first area.  His trainer and the members will know the best place and kind to get some.  Hopefully he can just luck out like I did.  I hope that answers a couple of the major questions.

    Sorry I don't have much time today but as for me here in the Eden Prairie ward it's going really well.  The ward is huge and really nice and loves the missionaries.  I actually live in the city of Chaska and we cover Chaska, Chanhassen, and a little part of Eden Prairie.  Elder White just refers to it as the Garden of Eden. haha He's so funny and we get along really well.  He's from Sandy and went to Alta High.  I actually found out that Elder Bennett from my last district is in my district again, so that should be fun.  To answer Mom's question no I am not District Leader again.  I guess I didn't cut it the last time haha jk.  They switch them up usually at transfers.

     I wish I had more details to talk about with you to make this a little longer, but that's about it for this week.  I'm trying to learn this new area where I swear there's not one straight road and all of them have the most random names haha.  Like we live on Walnut St. right next to Yellowbrick Rd.  I'm not even kidding.  haha Thanks for all the letters and support this week.  I love you all and look forward to talking to you again! Hopefully I can send some pictures next week.

Love, Elder Craft

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

You can take the missionary out of the hood, but . . .

Hey Craft Family,

     I'm glad to hear that everyone had a good somewhat boring Labor Day, or as it's more importantly known Hooper Tomato Days!  haha  Yesterday for me was good.  I got all the other P-Day stuff done except for the emailing of course.  We were allowed to email at a member's home, so even though we live with the Paynters we ran out of time before we could come write to you.

     Not only was yesterday Labor Day but it was also Transfer Calls.  We got a call at about 7:45.  It was a little earlier than expected.  Elder Haupt had to come knock on the bathroom door and tell me we were getting a call.  Luckily I had just gotten out of the shower so I could hear and talk to President.  They ended up splitting the ward into Shingle Creek North and Shingle Creek South again just like it was before I got here.  Elder Haupt and I thought that we were going to stay together and go to the South part of the ward or that one would stay North and the other go South.  We were both wrong kind of.  Elder Haupt is going to the South part with another Elder being transferred in and they're going to bring 2 new missionaries in here to the North.  One of the missionaries coming here is the one whose dad works with President Christensen and who I played soccer against in high school and then played on the same team with down in Las Vegas that last time I went, Elder Tate Baxter.  He's coming here and going to be District Leader too.  As for me I am leaving "The Hood" and headed south to a suburb of Minneapolis called Eden Prairie.  Apparently it's the biggest and one of the strongest wards in the mission, so I'm excited.  It's going to be a little difficult trying to learn who everyone is, but I usually do pretty good with names so we'll see.  I'm sad to leave the Paynters and this area.  I wish Elder Haupt and I could have stayed together to finish helping all the investigators we're working with, but I know the ward and investigators here are in good hands.  The work only going to increase and I can't wait to hear about all these people I know now getting baptized in the near future.  It's been great to serve here for the time that I have.  Shingle Creek is amazing and it's own kind of unique.  There's never going to be another area like it that's for sure haha.

     Along with transfer calls yesterday we also had the chance to go to "the great Minnesota get together" (a.k.a. the state fair).  The fair here is huge!  I've never seen people go so crazy or get so excited over a fair before.  People started talking about it back on the Fourth of July and how they couldn't wait for the fair.  It's 10 days long and yesterday was the last day.  Elm Creek Elders got 3 free tickets from someone in their ward.  We got permission to go because it was over in St. Paul and decided we'd all just split the cost of the fourth ticket.  There's an express bus station they set up for it in our area, so we all just met up, rode our bikes to the station, and hopped on the bus to go.  It was insane how many people were there!  I was talking to a lady on the bus who said that on average all the other days the fair had 120,000+ people and because of the no school no work holiday yesterday there was even more than that.  It wasn't really surprising with the amount of people that were there that we ran into about a dozen or so members that were from wards all over the metro and up metro area.  A couple came running over to us and gave us $20 to split because they said we needed to have fun and buy some of the food there.  It was cool to see all the members go crazy to see us.  We were all trying to imagine what it would have been like to have the same scenario in Utah and decided that we probably wouldn't have been able to even walk around having to stop and talk to members the whole time.  On the other hand we probably wouldn't have paid for anything either haha.  We did get a lot of funny looks from people because we were in proselyting clothes at the state fair.  We heard a few nicknames amid the stares.  "Geek Squad", "Jesus People", and "Israelites" were some of the best ones that I heard haha.  The thing that the fair is know for is the crazy food that is all either on a stick or deep fried.  We had some deep fried Wisconsin Cheese Curds,  some terriyaki ostrich,  a deep fried twinkie, and this small container of warm, fresh-baked, chocolate chip cookies that we each ate with the never ending milk bar that they had.  It was so cool and definitely an experience.  I think in my container I had 15 cookies and probably a third gallon of milk haha.  So between all of that we sure got our fat and sugars for the week.  Just in case any of you are wondering the ostrich was very very lean but really good, the twinkie was amazing and filled with cholesterol, and the cookies were very fresh and very rich haha.  There were a couple other things we thought about trying but knew that if we did diabetes would be setting in shortly after.  They had chocolate covered bacon, deep fried snickers, and deep fried alligator that were all on the list to try but didn't quite make it.  It was really fun to just kind of get out and experience that all together since our district's being disbanded with transfers.  I took some pictures that hopefully I can attach to this so you can see what it was like and who these other Elders I've been serving with are.

     As far as the missionary work here goes JV came to church again Sunday and to the best of our knowledge has been smoke free for 7 days now!  He's getting baptized hopefully sometime at the end of this month so that I can maybe come back to see that since I won't be too extremely far away.  We talked to Joe, one of the other investigators that I may have mentioned before, the other day about going to seminary.  We were in our coordination meeting on Sunday and trying to think about who would be a good fellowshipper for him.  Then the thought came to me, "seminary".  He's a senior this year and they had the kickoff meeting for seminary Sunday night and the seminary teacher was our joint teacher for the evening.  We called and talked to him about going to the meeting bu the was baby sitting his cousins, so we went over with the joint teacher and talked to him about seminary ad how great it is.  He wasn't sure at first but he said us coming over really convinced him.  He's going to try it for the first day tomorrow.  I hope he enjoys it and continues to go.  The tough part is that it is early morning and starts at 6 a.m. at the church, but he has the faith that the blessings of it are true and willingness to go.  I think he could end up being baptized this month too.  Unfortunately I won't be around to know for sure, but we'll see what happens.
     Sorry there's not too much more to add.  It sounds like Mom and Dad ran into a lot of people at Tomato Days.  Tell Cassie I said hi and congratulations.  You can also mention a nice thanks for not sending her wedding announcement haha JK.  As for Kevin and advice for him I'd say tell him to get that coat that I did from Mr. Mac.  It works amazingly well.  That's what I used all winter and just layered underneath it.  I also had a nice home spun hammock to use around my entire neck and torso, but I think the coat works great by itself too ;) haha.  Then he won't have to worry about having to buy one out here.  This is also just some side advice that I'd give to both him and Brady or anyone else preparing and buying things for a mission.  Buy black Nike tube socks and use those as your dress socks.  They're a lot more comfortable and durable than the gold toe or any other thin dress socks.  Plus with those you can use them for P-Day stuff too.  I'm glad to hear that my pictures could help you with your talk on missionary work in primary mom.  We went into primary in Sunday so the kids could all give us little cards saying thanks for being our missionaries.  I'm happy to hear that you had enough to say that you went over time too.  Instead of just something like, "missionaries are great.  This is one that I think used to live in our house" haha ;).

     I hope that all is going well and everyone's doing just fantastic!  I can't wait to hear about Brady's trip and Kat and Tom's sealing in a few weeks.  I love and miss you guys and can't wait to hear from you again!

Love, Elder Craft