Monday, August 27, 2012

Learning to BBQ

Dear Family,

     This was a great week for us here!  A lot of great things are happening that we are very blessed to be apart of.   I think I mentioned to you last week that we were planning a Liberian BBQ with our two investigators from Liberia, Brother and Sister M and that was awesome!  We went over early on Thursday to help because they told us they wanted us to learn how to make it.  We basically sat there and prepared it all.  They told us the ingredients and gave us instruction but we were the ones cutting, washing, boiling, pouring, and mixing almost everything that we ate.  We had potato greens with soup, Fufu with the same soup, Kala, watermelon, and peanut butter chicken and steak that we grilled.  It was kind of crazy with all 4 burners on the stove going and the grill, but it turned out great.  We had talked to and invited 7 other members of the ward to come over and they all really loved the food.  It wasn't half bad if I do say so myself and Brother and Sister M gave us all the credit anytime anyone said anything haha.  They are so awesome though and told us that now we can go home and impress our families with our cooking skills, so everyone look out for the foreign feast that I'm going to whip up.  The only challenge will be finding all the right ingredients in Utah haha.  Not only was the BBQ great but we were able to teach them two other times this week and one was last night at the mission home with President and Sister Clements.  It went really well both times and all people that meet them love them.  We were able to set a baptismal date with the both of them for August 22nd and they are excitedly preparing for that day!  The best part is that within the mission, and I think the church in general as far as missionary work goes, there has been a focus on teaching about baptism as a covenant and the eternal aspect of what we are teaching people to find true conversion.  The Ms understand that and are even more excited for their chance to go to the temple and do baptisms after their own baptism and for their sealing a year from then.  It's an amazing thing to continually see these changes and desires grow within people.  Sister M, the other lady being baptized on the 8th, is doing well also.  She is progressing and has made a lot of changes in her life.  It's so cool to see how proud we are of her and how much love and encouragement we feel for these people and then try to even comprehend the amount of pride and love Our Heavenly Father has for us when we do what is right.

     It's great to see all the many miracles that the Lord provides for all of us and our area and this mission seem to be doing really well.  We are just hoping to continue to find now so that October and November will be just as good for us as August and September have been.  It's going to be the people we are finding and meeting with now that can make that progression in the future.

     We have a very busy but exciting week ahead.  The 5 Twin Cities Zones will be going to the Twins game this Thursday and we have to prepare our training for Zone Conference this Friday. On top of all of that Sister Yazzie serving in the Edina part of the ward is going back to temple square after her couple transfers she's been out here and her companion Sister Briggs will be going to Waconia to be in a trio for the rest of the transfer, so we are now going to be covering their area and moving in to their apartment.  Moving, Twins game with 100 other missionaries, and Zone Conference should make for a very full and eventful week.

     It sound like things have been and are getting even more eventful at home too.  I'm glad to hear that things are going well though and most importantly that Natalie survived school haha ;).  I will continue to pray for all of you and hope to see the same great things continue for you.  Once again thanks for all the help and support that you all give to me.  Your faith and prayers are helping to bless the lives of all these people too.  The Lord hears and answers us and it's a great time to be a missionary.

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, August 20, 2012

Liberian Barbecue and a Twins Game!

Hello Craft Family,

      This week has been another great one with some amazingly mild and Utahesque weather haha.  We have had some decently cooler temperatures with moderate humidity.  We tell everyone when it's nice like this or on the dry days that "this is more like a Utah summer we're used to".  We just figured we'd let you know in case there's a sudden increase of Minnesotans in the state haha :).

     Unfortunately this week I don't have a lot of time to go through the miracles like last week but be assured they are always there.  It's amazing to see at all times how the Lord is in charge here and that we are lead and things just seem to work out in the right way.  It's not always just for us but we have the privilege of seeing that sort of stuff that is happening throughout the zone.  I think just behind Salt Lake City the Lord loves Minneapolis the most haha ;) jk Maybe they just need the most help haha.  Seriously there are a lot of great things in the works here for the work to continue to build and grow even through September and October as well.  We still have some great people we are working with and teaching here.  A couple in particular from Liberia are doing really well and love anything church.  Whether it's meeting with us, going to church, meeting the members, or whatever they just love it all.  Hopefully he'll be coming to play some basketball with us today and this Thursday we are going to there house for some Liberian bbq.  There will be fufu just like Shingle Creek last year.  It should be a lot of fun and hopefully have some good pictures for you.  I agree with what Mom said this week though we need to plan a trip where we can come back and I'll take you on a real tour of the mission!  It'd be sweet!  I've thought about it and a lot of the members and people I've taught have said for sure that I need to,so whoever is in we'll have to get something in the works haha. 

     It's crazy to see how fast time is flying though!  School starts this week for Natalie!  don't feel too bad Natalie I felt totally lost my first few times in that school but once you're there for a little while it's one of the easiest schools to get around.  And this whole driving thing for her is nuts too.  The cavalier is off limits as a drivers ed car haha. jk  You can use it but without the radio on.  We can't have any distractions for you. 

     Next week is Zone Conference so that's always exciting.  There are going to be zone activities associated with it too.  For us here in the Twin Cities ( the 5 zones that are here) we're going to a Twins Game on the 30th!  There's going to be probably 100-110 missionaries all going to that game and we'll all be in the same section.  It should be a lot of fun and get a lot of attention.

     I apologize that there isn't more time this week to write.  I love reading about all the great things going on at home.  The Lord blesses us in so many ways that are so incredible to see.  I look forward to hearing from you next week and appreciate all the love and support that you give me.

Love, Elder Alexander J. Craft, of the Minnesota Minneapolis Mission :)

Monday, August 13, 2012


Dear Craft Family!

     I'm so glad that things are going so well back at home!  I've been praying very hard for little Memphis and I'm glad to hear that things are looking up.  I can't believe school will start in 10 days though!  Have fun Natalie ;)! haha  Don't worry if you have any questions I'm just an email away and Fremont's not too scary.  You'll do fine. :)

     Transfer calls were this morning and we found out that both Elder Neeley and I would be staying here!  That's just fine with us.  He will now tie with Elder Dalrymple and Elder Haupt as being my longest companion for 2 transfers at the end of this next one haha.  We are being very blessed and look forward to the great things still to come from Lake Nokomis South and Minneapolis.

     This week was another wonderful week for us here.  Brother S.P.'s baptism was amazing and something like that can make any week a good week!  I feel so blessed to have been here at this critical time to be a part of his teaching and conversion process.  With his job as a Special Education Teacher there is no way if we would have taught him any other time of the year that he would have been able to commit as much effort and time to learning and building a testimony like he did with all the other distractions he would have had.  It really has given me an even stronger belief in the timing that it takes for people to learn about and accept the Gospel.  Brady wrote me about not having coincidences and I fully agree.  It was Brother P's time and now we are all anxious for the time in a year for their sealing and the blessing that that is going to be for their family.  I look forward to what the future is going to bring for them.

      I don't think I've told you about this before but if I have I'm sorry haha  we've had a mission focus of getting "2-3-7" to keep a balanced proselyting effort.  We focus on getting 2- FIs (Future Investigators= people who we get their info. and either set up an appointment with or they tell us to come back) average per day.  The other numbers are 3- investigators that attend Sacrament Meeting, and 7- lessons taught to investigators with members present.  This is ultimately leading up to not just having people baptized and then not having anything else going on in the area and having to rebuild after them.  We've been able to reach or surpass that 2-3-7 goal the past 2 weeks in our area and had a sweet miracle this past week I wrote in my weekly letter to President Clements about.  Here's what it was:
"We have been very blessed as we've been committed to our goals here.This past week we didn't have as much finding time and were concerned about making the goal we had set of 2 FIs per day.  Which has been a critical goal for us as people have been baptized and setting dates.  We know that finding now is what will help the work after these people make their covenants, so that's what our backup plan and most of our focus was for yesterday.  We had some Weekly Training Evaluation calls we needed to accomplish last night and could have easily justified going in around 8:30 to do it, but because of Elder Neeley's zeal and determination we decided to keep going and called to reschedule with the team we were going to call until after planning and encouraged them to do the same and go out and find for that last 30 minutes.  The Lord truly blessed us for our small effort.  Right after we got off the phone we started knocking some doors and in the middle of a contact with a man out on his porch a woman whom we had waved to as she walked by during an earlier contact on the street came up behind us and said. "excuse me.  I don't mean to interrupt but could I have one of ya'll's Bibles?" haha (you'll have to excuse my grammar for the quote)  So I went right down and talked to her on the sidewalk while Elder Neeley continued to talk to the man at his door.  With my ensuing questions she proceeded to tell me how she was just living with a friend and had had a Book of Mormon probably 10 years ago but got rid of it when she had to move.  She said when she saw us she remembered how she felt as she read and wanted to read it again.  We eagerly gave her a copy and promised her of the guidance by the spirit she had felt as she acted in faith to come find us and that the Book of Mormon would bring that peace back into her life.  She gave us her phone number so that she could come meet with us at the church hopefully this Wednesday and was excited to start reading again.  The amazing part for us was that we had knocked on her friend's door just after getting off the phone to reschedule our call to keep finding with no answer and instead she later came to find us.  After that miraculous faith building miracle with Kay we found 3 other FIs on that street we're going to see tonight.  This experience really helped us to feel as though we were guided by the Lord and blessed to stay in that area a little longer and find those that are searching."
It was an amazing experience that we were apart of last night and even though I just copied that from my letter I had to write President earlier it was such a great experience that I wanted to share with all of you.  I know that the Lord really does go before and that angels prepare people each and every day for us to teach.  If we listen for and act on promptings, no matter how small they may be or insignificant they may seem, like staying on one street or walking a block over to the next one, there are people prepared and placed in our path.

      We are now hoping to continue the blessings of the Lord in coming to the Minneapolis zone.  This transfer has been great and I look forward to serving with Elder Neeley for another six weeks.  We have some great goals that we are very committed to and hoping to accomplish the next couple of months and transfer with the Lord's help in Minneapolis.  Thanks for all your help and support you guys give to me!  I love you all and look forward to hearing from you next week.

Love, Elder Craft

Monday, August 6, 2012

Crazy Miracles

Dear Family,

     Sorry that I don't have time to write much today either.  Mine's not as cool as Brady's excuse.  I wish it was because I was going to play soccer haha.  These computers just don't let us stay on here long.

     That is some exciting news about little Memphis though!  So was she born on Friday or Saturday?  In the email it said Friday the 4th but the 4th was Saturday.  Either way it's still exciting.  I will continue to pray for you all and especially Memphis too.  Thanks for the updates!  I love to hear about all the great stuff going on there.

     This week in Minneapolis was sweet as always!  We have our baptism coming up on Saturday with Scott the guy I've been telling you about.  He is so great!  It's amazing to be blessed as much as I have to be apart of his teaching process.  The growth that all of us (Scott, Elder Neeley, and myself) have all made throughout his conversion has been a great thing to see.  It's so cool the bonds and lifelong friendships that you can build from only knowing people a few months.  It makes more sense though because as you love and serve someone you can truly get to know them.  That is one thing that I've learned on my mission.  The more fully you love and serve someone the better you get to know them.  I believe that's a true principle because of the Savior's example.  He didn't need a few months to get this way with anyone or even a few weeks like it often takes me.  His perfect example of charity and service to all is what helped Him to love more perfectly and more fully.  It's a great lesson I feel that I have been able to learn and only through serving as a missionary have I come to understand this a little more.  The other woman that we are teaching is progressing well with towards his baptism on the 18th of this month. She will have to have her interviews sometime this week, but she has a lot of commitment.  She sat next to us at church yesterday and on Saturday we had set a goal with her to quit smoking.  So when we went to teach her we ended up walking out at the end of the lesson with her last half a pack of cigarettes.  It was a great feeling to see her desire and commitment to the Lord and that we got to be the hands in the work of taking away that temptation.  Things here have been going great!  Your continued prayers are what's going to help even more.

     A couple weeks ago me and another Elder (Elder Happonen) on exchanges contacted a woman who just moved from Milwaukee for cancer treatment here and all her family is still in Wisconsin.  We talked to here for awhile and set up an appointment to come back.  Unfortunately she wasn't there for the appointment or the past couple weeks as we've tried to contact her.  Last night we decided to try again at a time when she should have been at work so we weren't as confident or faithful that she would be there.  She did end up being home and told us that she was sorry that she missed us and that she was expecting us to try back again soon because we hadn't been able to connect.  She also told us her mom had just sent her a DVD from the church (Finding Faith in Christ) this past week because her mom said, "it's a good video that you might like" while she's going through chemo.  She even showed us the DVD when she saw how confused we looked at the claim her Catholic mom had just sent her some church produced movie and praised it haha.  Turns out it really was from our church and that even more crazy or coincidental I guess was that her mom "used to be a Mormon" is how she put it but had never told her that.  Her mom joined the Catholic church when her parents got married because her dad's Catholic.  So once they'd established that her mom told her, "I'm glad that you're interested because it's a great church that you'll really like".  Then that's when we came into the scene again last night after all of that last week!  It is so unbelievable how the Lord works on our behalf.  I couldn't make up a story like that.  Or like most other things I see and experience here but I think that's just Minneapolis haha. ;)

     Crazy miracles and stuff happening "er' day up in here".  Thank you so much for all your love and support that you show to me.  You all are the greatest!  Can't wait to hear from you again.

Love, Elder "Hood" Craft