Monday, October 31, 2011

Weekly Update

Dear Family,

     Thanks so much for the package you sent with the Drapers!  I feel so spoiled now getting all this stuff from home.  I got Kat and Tom's package last week and for those of you who know about it all I'm going to say is I just started laughing when I opened it up!  haha  It was definitely creative and unexpected.  I could see Tom's personality all throughout too that's for sure.  I'll write you guys a letter today for that.  I really appreciate all you guys do for me as a family.  Like I've said before. . .You're the best!  Thanks for the letters Dad and Brady too.  I know it must have been painful to make it hand written Brady but you survived and it means alot so thanks. ;)  That's way cool that you guys got to meet and spend time with the Drapers and that the Meads did too.  Kind of an unfortunate way to meet them at a funeral and all, but it's all part of this thing we like to call "life".  They are very nice very helpful members to us here.  Brother Draper is the Stake Patriarch too.  I don't know if I mentioned that last week or not.

  The work here in Eden Prairie is . . .growing. haha  Slowly but surely it's picking up in little increments at a time. Patience in trails I think is one thing I definitely needed to learn before my mission (right along with just patience in general I guess) and right now is what the Lord needs us to do.  Missionary work comes in these cycles of finding, which moves to teaching, and after that to baptisms, and eventually on to the temple.  There's a saying for the mission that says "Find to Teach, Teach to Baptize, Baptize to Seal" because that's what we do in the MMM.  Right now at this point I feel like we're in the definite first part of that: Finding.  Typically I've tried to keep that cycle of continuous finding going along with teaching so that you don't have to worry and focus so much on finding because you didn't keep replenishing the teaching pool to have individuals to teach throughout.  Always striving for that balance of both aspects of missionary work I think is what we should do, but when you come into an area you can't really control what the missionaries did there before.  Especially, if they weren't there for a few weeks like what happened here.  It is a trial on patience and diligence in work but something I know is going to help me to grow.   We were reading in Alma 32 the other day as part of companionship study to prepare for a lesson we'd be having with some active members after dinner that night and read verses 41-43,
" 41 But if ye will nourish the word, yea, nourish the tree as it beginneth to grow, by your faith with great diligence, and with apatience, looking forward to the fruit thereof, it shall take root; and behold it shall be a tree bspringing up unto everlasting life. 42 And because of your adiligence and your faith and your patience with the word in nourishing it, that it may take root in you, behold, by and by ye shall pluck the bfruit thereof, which is most precious, which is sweet above all that is sweet, and which is white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure; and ye shall feast upon this fruit even until ye are filled, that ye hunger not, neither shall ye thirst. 43 Then, my brethren, ye shall areap the brewards of your faith, and your diligence, and patience, and long-suffering, waiting for the tree to bring forth cfruit unto you".
It really made me think about diligence and patience in what we're experiencing right now with limited people to teach.  Not only that but also continuing to act in faith and use that as the principle of power that it really is.  The other cool correlation that came from these verses is that after we labor with faith, diligence, and patience is when the fruit comes.  Not just any fruit though.  Fruit that is white and pure above anything else that when we feast upon it fills us all.  Just like the fruit from the tree of life that Lehi had seen and described about 450 years earlier.  Something we need to desire to share with all those around us.  That's my purpose here as a missionary is to share that.  Sometimes there's not fruit enough to harvest yet but it will come from our faith and in the Lord's time after we labor sufficiently here in part of His vineyard in Eden Prairie.  I love this work and the scriptures!  We're optimistic with things picking up here soon and will just keep working and serving until then :).

     As for Elder Mead.  I was not able to find an excuse to head down to the mission home to welcome him in on Wednesday like I would have like, but after a couple days I made a few calls, cause I've got connections haha jk, and talked to one of the Assistants to get permission to call over to Eagen Minnesota where Elder Mead is currently serving with Elder Black.  That was way sweet to find out because I've served around Elder Black a few times now being in the same zone with him and just talking to him a few different times.  I knew his trainer who served as my Zone Leader when I first came out and he served with my MTC companion a few months ago.  He's been out 3 months longer than me I think.  He's actually one of the few missionaries taller than me.  He's probably 6'5" or 6'6" an pretty goofy, but he's one of the nicest most sincere Elders ever.  Elder Mead is very lucky and really going to like him.  So on this last Saturday evening after planning at about 9:45 pm I called over and got dismissed with a text saying they were busy and would call back a few minutes later.  When Elder Black called back very formal I asked, "is this was Elder Black" with which he replied kind of shocked, "yes and who is this".  All I told him was I'd seen these commercials and I wanted to be baptized as soon as possible.  He didn't say much after that and after a brief pause I told him my name was Elder Craft and the sooner thy got the font filled the better. haha He just started to laugh and was like, "I knew it was too good to be true! What's up Elder Craft?'  So I talked to him for a couple minutes before talking to Elder Mead for about the next 12 minutes.  It was so cool to hear his voice and think he's out here with me now.  We got to talk about training and how lucky he is to be with Elder Black.  He seems to like him which is good, but it was just good to be able to call over and motivate and encourage a good friend who's probably going through a rough transition like I had to not too long ago.  I really hope that I was able to motivate and help him as a new missionary because I know if I would have had a call like that from someone I knew going through the same thing I was in the same place it would have helped me at the beginning of my mission.  I'm not sure when I'll get to see him.  Eagen is in between Minneapolis and St.Paul kind of.  I'm not sure the exact location or Zone, but hopefully we both get to go to the President's Fireside this next month and I can give him a nice face to face personal welcome.  So from what I got to hear and talk to him Elder Mead is doing well and now hopefully excited to go out and baptized the whole state of Minnesota his next few months of training! haha 

     I hope that answers most of the questions you guys had and gives a nice update from here.  I'm doing great and can't wait to hear from all of you again!  I love and miss you.  Thanks for all the prayers.

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Computer Ate My Email . . . I Promise!

Hey Crafts,

     I am so sorry that you guys thought that I forgot to email or didn't have time last week.  In reality I did send a really good long email that I was upset to find out at the library today didn't send because I attached too many pictures and it was too big.  So the email I have copied down here is the one from last week.  I'll write another one for this week too.  Sorry to leave you all hanging.  I was just trying to keep you on your toes and anxious haha ;).

                                                                                  (Monday Oct. 10, 2011)

Dear Craft Family,

     Thanks everyone for the birthday wishes!!  It was a good one.  I got to do on my birthday what I've done on every other holiday so far. . .tract. haha It was good all in all.  It didn't really feel like anything special yo now be 20.  I feel the same in case you were wondering haha.  I'm glad that you got the video and pictures from Sister Neilson.  I should have asked her to send them to me too so I could see it.  If it's not too much trouble maybe you could send them to me. I didn't mean to look nervous.  It was just kind of different.  It was cool to know that you guys could have a part in my birthday and all, but I almost didn't tell them it was my birthday.   I felt kind of sheepish and didn't want them to make it a big deal or put the attention on me.  They are the nicest family though!  I don't think there's another one in this ward I would have rather had my birthday with haha.  For you information Mom no my head is not shaved.  It's short but not shaved.  You're not allowed to shave your head in our mission unless your black or Polynesian basically.  For those of you that asked I got the package from Nick, Tati, Mom, and Brady on Thursday.  Thank you so much for that too!  It was really nice and the fudge was a nice treat too ;).  As for any others I have gotten anything and with the post office closed today I won't until maybe tomorrow.  You guys are the greatest though!!  Thank you for all the love and support that you give to me.

     This week was a good week but nothing too outstanding.  We're still working to find more people to teach but in the land of "great and spacious buildings" it's a little harder to accomplish through tracting.  Most people have a church or religion they're apart of and even though we may present to them a way to have even more happiness the underlying attitude seems to be, "why should I change?  I'm comfortable and obviously successful".  It's just one of those unique challenges we're working to overcome in this area, but I know the Lord will provide away for us to find those that are seeking the truth here among the kingdom builders haha  We went out tracting yesterday like I said before and didn't find one person that was interested or gave us their information to come back in the couple hours we were doing it.  The greatest part is that we still found a couple really solid potentials.  One was a guy washing his car in our garage that we just talked to as we were heading out, and the other lady was walking by with her husband as we walked down a driveway of a house that we had just knocked on.  It's amazing how even though there was no direct success from the actual knocking on doors itself the blessings of tracting were still presented to us in people placed in our path to talk to.  Like I said the Lord will always find a way to bring about His purpose for those of His children here in this area.

     In October there's what's called a mission tour here where we get the chance to meet and listen to a General Authority.  It's something I'm sure most if not all missions get the chance to have.  I'm not positive but I'm guessing that's when Nick got to meet Elder Eyring when he was in Korea.  Well ours is suppose to be at the end of the month sometime, unfortunately right before Kevin gets into Minnesota I think.  This week we found out we get a special privilege on Friday.  Elder Quentin L. Cook is going to be in Rochester for some reason, and he and President Clements are good friends.  They worked at the same law firm in San Fransisco and were partners of that firm together I think.  So President Clements talked to him and convinced him to come and do a "Mini Mission Tour" here in the cities at the Bloomington Building on Friday.  We get to go from about 12:30-4:30 to meet and listen to an apostle of the Lord speak to us!!  It's pretty exciting and something we're really looking forward to!  We only found out about it on Saturday, but I'll tell you all about it next week.

     I hope all is well and that you guys are enjoying the snow some of you are getting.  We've had record breaking Fall heat here.  It's been in the 80's for over a week now and last Thursday was the hottest it's been on that day since Minnesota became a state.  We're loving it and hoping that maybe winter just forgets to stop here this year haha.  Everyone talks about how awful and miserable last winter was.  It was the worst most people say they've ever seen.  That's what gives me comfort to know that I can survive another.  Except now the weather predictions for the winter are that's it's suppose to be even worse than the last one!  No body's really excited about that, but there's nothing we can do to stop it.  Thanks again for the support, love, and gifts for my birthday!  You guys are the best!  I love and miss you but look forward to talking to you again soon!

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, October 3, 2011

5 Months 28 Days and 15 Minutes Until the Next General Conference!

Hello Everybody,

     This week sure had a great ending to it!  Conference is the best!  I was fortunate enough to be able to go out to the church building we go to in Waconia and watch all of the sessions.  It's hard for me to try and pick something I liked best because it was all just so amazing!  It was great to see Elder Carl B. Cook speaking up there.  When I looked up from my notes to see the next speaker and saw that it was him I told the other missionaries that I've met him and he used to be my parents bishop in Riverdale.  He did a great job I thought.  His talk was really relevant about it being "easier to look up".  I really enjoyed that.  I noticed kind of the same thing that Mom had pointed out to me as well.  There was a lot of emphasis on The Book of Mormon and reading it for ourselves.  I know that it is the most correct book on Earth and just as the apostles and general authorities spoke of it's a tool our Heavenly Father has provided for us to draw closer to Him and to learn about our Savior Jesus Christ.  I noticed too, being a missionary, that there were a lot of prayers specifically and a couple subjects directed towards missionaries and missionary work.  Elder Holland's in the Priesthood Session and Elder Yamashita's in the Sunday session were a couple talks in particular.  This is off topic kind of but out of curiosity is Elder Yamashita related to the Yamishitas we know at all?  There was a lot of talk about we as members being more open and bold in sharing our values and beliefs as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints with others.  Something I wish that I would have been more aware of and done more frequently when I  was at home.  There are definitely people prepared all around each of us by Heavenly Father to hear our individual and specific testimony.  The real challenge is just being aware of those people and situations in our day to day lives.  Elder M. Russell Ballard had talked about and I don't think I've ever talked about it with you guys yet.  There's been a campaign here in the Twin Cities area that's been going since last August and started in 13 pilot cities to see what results it would yield.  It's a bunch of ads and commercials just about different members and situations that all end with them saying, " and I'm a Mormon".  Have you seen or heard much about it at all?  If not then I can expalin a little.  if so I guess you'll just have to bear with me haha.  Most of those campaigns in other cities ended in January of this year.  There has been so much success here in this area though that it is the only area that has continued the campaign and ads even now.  It's been a fantastic way for missionary work to move forward with the help of the members.  All you have to do is go online to and use your login to enter.  Once you've done that you can create a profile.  It's not anything like Facebook, but is more like a series of question asking different things like "Why I am a Mormon', "How I live my faith" and things like that.  Once you create it, you submit it for approval, and leave it after that.  You only update it if you want to later.  That is what all the members in this area have been doing and is a fantastic way to just put your testimony in writing.  I heard someone refer to is as Faithbook which I thought was pretty funny.  I have one that I made when I first came out you guys can check out.  You just have to search by first name.  It would be great I think for you guys to be able to make one as well, so that when missionary opportunities do come up you can direct people there to really see what we believe as a church and what each of us individually believes with our own unique testimony.  So will you guys go on and make a profile? haha There my missionary commitment invitation for you haha.  One of the other cool things from conference is seeing Grandma's friend Rick Steadman in the choir again.  It was cool this time because during the first session on Saturday we were watching the choir and when it showed him I said to Elder White, "There's my Grandma's friend Rick up there", and he said, " there's my Jr. high choir teacher Mr. Steadman".  That's when I put two and two together to know that we were talking and looking at the same guy.  Apparently Brother Steadman teaches choir at Crescent View Jr. High in Sandy and Elder White had his class in 7th grade.  I thought that was a pretty cool connection that you might enjoy as well haha.

     Sorry there's not much else to report on as far as missionary work.  We're still working with a couple people. Mostly we're trying to find and increase the people within our teaching pool still.  It's kind of a process we're going through.  Just another phase of the work haha.  It is kind of weird that I'll be entering my second decade of life this Sunday too.  I still remember at my 10th birthday when Tom said, "oh look at you entering double digits now" haha.  That doesn't seem like it was that long ago.  It will just be nice to be out of the teenager category haha.

     It was good to hear from all of you about the sealing and adventures of the family out in DC.  I love and miss all of you!  I hope that all is well and can't wait to hear from you again!

Love, Elder Craft