Monday, September 24, 2012

Back to Bloomington for Good, and . . . I Am Extending!

Dear Family,

     I would just like to start by responding to a comment Mom made in her email about Natalie accomplishing a dream of mine that I had in driving on the bike path.  Although the picture looks sweet to see you in the car on there the joke is that Brady and I drove down that one night on our way home a couple weeks before I left and I guess we never told you.  haha  So now Natalie is officially apart of our club that we started fall 2010.  Welcome Natalie! :) haha

     This week as I'm sure you are all fully aware of has been crazy and unexpected!  I would have never thought I was going to get a chance to call and talk to any of you if you would have asked me at the beginning of the week.  I am excited for the chance I have to extend my mission and to continue to help out anyway I can in my service to the Lord.  That's so cool to hear that Shae is extending too!  Man that's going to be crazy!  Too bad for Tommy haha.  I apologize that it did throw a major curve ball and wrench into the plans with Nick and Tati and the family all coming from Idaho.  Not only did it ruin the whole 11/11 @ 11 thing Mom's been talking about but everyone's vacation and holiday plans.  I'm excited to see what I can continue to learn and what the Lord will have in store.  It is different going back now to a ward that I just served in and to one that is neighboring too.  I've had 3 of these transfers now into bordering areas and these next few months will make my time in the Minneapolis stake officially up to somewhere over 15 months.  That's nothing compared to Nick's 15 months in one area but it sure will make Stake Conference cool in November when I get a chance to see everyone from the Eden Prairie and now Lake Nokomis wards too.  Even though I am excited to be be back in Bloomington I am sad to leave this area.  We have a lot of things going here now and it's hard when you grow so close to people and work so hard to see it build and then to leave and put it in another missionary's care.  Elder Neeley is great though and I only expect to hear about great things and many baptisms to come.  The Elder coming to replace me here is Elder  Bast.  He's a very good, very happy missionary from Germany.  He's from a little city called Glueckstadt up near the North Sea in Germany and will be a great help in leading this zone.  I got to do exchanges with Elder Bast when I was in Bloomington the last time and see all the great qualities he will help the zone with.  The good news is that even though I am leaving I'm only going a little ways away and will be able to see how all these things continue to progress and come back for some of the baptisms coming up.  This past week we had the interviews for both Brother and Sister Mentoe and they're both good to go for this Saturday.  we still haven't figured out the best way I can tell them I'm leaving because even if it is pretty close they still won't be happy haha.  And that's the last thing we want is some angry Liberians haha jk.  They should be ok because I should be able to come to the baptism Saturday.  We are really excited and have grown to love them so much!  They talked to me on Saturday about how they are wanting to come to Utah next summer to visit me and see the Salt Lake Temple.  I was pumped to hear that I they are excited to do it.  It's not for sure by any means but at the least it's a great idea and desire and something to look forward to hopefully. 

     Besides the crazy news on Thursday for Mom this week has been great.  We found a couple new investigators that show some real promise and potential with a few more people that we found and Elder Bast and Elder Neeley will go back to teach this week.  The Lord has been directing us so much and it's amazing to see the preparation of people that truly goes on before our face.  We run into at least a few people a week that have some association with The Church.  Whether it's they like or hate Mitt Romney, they have family members or friends that are members, or they have met with missionaries before years ago.  That last one happened to us a couple of times this last week; contacting and tracting into people who have been to our church or at least read from The Book of Mormon and met with missionaries some time in the past.  It's always a great feeling to be an instrument in the Lord's hands and feel the direction that was given to you to find these people.  Just as cool as the finding is when that guidance comes in teaching.  For example this past week when we taught the Ms about tithing we got to a point in the lesson where we were explain how you actually donate with an envelope there after we'd already covered the doctrine and asked Brother M some question about what we had taught.  He told us his experience of being in the kitchen a few hours earlier in the day and thinking, "I need to be doing more for the Lord, but how can I do that?".  He hadn't related that to Sister M because she'd been running errands all morning and we actually beat her to the house for the appointment.  He told us also in regards to the envelope we shared that they would ask themselves at church every week where to offering plate was or if we even did tithes and offerings because they never saw it.  Every week though they would forget to ask us about it and so Brother M said it was no coincidence that we taught that today with the thought that he had and now the answer that we gave to his question.  They were both excited and look forward to the blessings of tithing in their lives!  It was such a good lesson and all of us were just to happy afterwards.  Those guys are a true example to me of faith and really just putting your trust in the Lord and knowing that things will always work out "through God's grace" as the Ms always say haha.  It's sweet whenever you ask how they're doing too Sister M says, oh praise God we are blessed in Jesus name".  African people are so legit!

     Sorry that I don't have much more time.  We have to go down and start to help with the crazy transfer coming up today once all the calls are done and then I have to be in Bloomington by tomorrow morning again with all my stuff for my official early transfer because even though Elder Dalrymple doesn't fly home until Wednesday tomorrow all the departing missionaries go to the mission home and have all their departure interviews, training, and a trip to the temple.  Plus, we have a couple new missionaries from this last transfer to do exchanges with tomorrow before the craziness with 22 new ones coming out on Wednesday!  Thank you so much for the love and support that you guys give to me!  I can truly feel that and more fully appreciate it after this new change in plans!  You guys are so great and love having such a great foundation around me.  I love you and I'll talk to you soon!

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, September 17, 2012

Back to Bloomington . . . For a Couple Meetings?

Dear Family,

     This week has been one of chaos and fun for everyone it sound like.  It's crazy to see how many different things are going on in your own lives and then seeing how much goes on here with me.  The most amazing part of it all is to see how things seem to work out for all of us for the best and we can truly see the Lord guiding and directing us as His children.  That's why it blows my mind to see all the many miracles I do and then to hear about all the great things with Brady and you guys!  That's something I have a strong testimony of is the knowledge and care God has for each one of us individually in our own lives!  We weren't able to meet with Brother and Sister M this week due to scheduling conflicts and as a result may have to move their baptism back one week so it's on the 29th and not the 22nd.  They still have a desire and want to be baptized we just don't want to make it a hectic dash to the end with some of the things we still have to go over and have them just feel the stress of it all working out instead of the spirit that they should feel strongly as they prepare.  Pushing it back will give them the chance to make sure and invite all of their friends and relatives to attend too and make it an extra special event.  We set another baptismal date this week with an investigator for October that we are really excited about.  It's crazy and scary to me to see the Halloween stuff coming out right now!  Time is going quick!

     This is going to be a crazy week for us again.  It's the last week before transfers and this time around there are 23 new missionaries coming out to Minnesota!  That's the most I've seen at once since I've been here.  Cool side note is there's one coming from Japan and one from Nepal who is actually the first Nepalese missionary to come out the the country there.  At least that's what we were told so that's kind of a big deal.  With that many missionaries though that means that there's going to be a lot of trainers and transfers and new areas opened up which equals a lot of work for President and the Assistants.  So he has asked that I go back to Bloomington for a couple meetings this week to coordinate it all and help to drive the departing and arriving missionaries to and from the airport on transfer day.  It's nice for him because I am van certified haha ( I can drive the big mission 12 passenger transfer day travel van) and I guess it means that I must not have screwed it up too badly while I was there haha.  That should be fun to work with that whole aspect of transfers again and it will be cool for Elder Neeley to get the experience.

    Sorry that there's not much more that I can write about.  It sounds pretty boring this last week for us but rest assured I just can't remember all that happened and some that I can would take more time than  I have to write.  I need to finish up some applications for school so thanks for the transcripts Mom.  I'll be sure not to open them.  I love and hope the best for all of you this week.  Thank you for your love, prayers, and support.

Love, Elder Alex Craft

Monday, September 3, 2012

Fall Harvest

Dear Family,

     This week was a crazy hectic one just like it sounds like Brady had (because every missionaries week is crazy and hectic in some fashion haha) but it was very good.  We had a great time with all 100+ of us missionaries at the Twins game and Zone Conference the next day was very uplifting and inspring.  We've focused a lot on the finding and planning aspects of missionary work and now President Clements has been training on how to improve our teaching.  That's what most of the training we were assigned to give at the conference and what he trained on as well.  It's going to be a great thing to help us all do a lot better and really help the mission as a whole to move in a upward direction.  We have set a goal to have a great "Fall Harvest" here in the mission by helping 100 souls come to Christ over the next 3 months of September, October, and November.  We are working hard to do our part to build up the people we have so that our efforts can help in bringing people to Christ for all of those months and not just what we have already set up in September.

     I can't believe September is already here!  And that means Tomatoe Days on Labor Day! haha.  September is looking good for us still.  Sister M is scheduled and had already been interviewed to be baptized on this upcoming Saturday.  We are really excited for her!  She's been battling smoking for a long time now and she has finally kicked the habit.  We all fasted this past Sunday together that she will be strengthened to overcome temptation and the devil this week and throughout the coming months and years.  She had grown an amazing amount and it's a great blessing to be a missionary in helping someone crawl over, under, and through the obstacles that they may have in their life and being apart of that evey step of the way.  It can get frustrating beause all you can do is encourage but when the changes are made it's almost like you yourself have overcome that obstacle too.  That's the way we feel with Sister M.  Her faith and knowledge have grown a lot and with the new hometeachers she has things should ciontinue to only improve for her.

     We had a couple lessons this week with Brother and Sister M again and they are still doing awesome!  The lesson we had on Saturday was at a member's house.  We had a bbq there and the Ms brought some more of the Kala, that we made at their house, to go along with the hotdogs and salads haha.  They told me because I know the Liberian handshake from my time in Shingle Creek and I now have eaten and knwo how to cook so much of their food I'm practically Liberian haha!  That lesson after the bbq at the M family home was so great.  We taught about the Word of Wisodom but what's funny is that Brother M has already been telling us how important it is to eat healthy and stay in shape, so literally everything we taught about keeping ourselves physically and spiritually in shape and healthy they agreed with and were already doing.  Now they just have some more doctrine to back up their beliefs.  It was funny when we extend the commitment to live it Brother M just looked at me and said, "Come on Craft you know I'm already doing that!" haha Sometimes they only call us by our last names and no matter who you are they are very honest straight forward people haha.  He did say yes after that but it was just funny to seee how different it can be when we teach one person something that they have a really hard time with doing and other people we teach the exactly same thing to can have such strong agreeances and no questions of doubts about doing it.  The Lord prepares each person in their own way to hear and come to know the message is true, but no matter their path and the curves they have to follow, sometimes very faithful and fearfully, they all come to the same witness and enter the same gate to the straight and narrow path that Nephi talks about.

     I love this work and I love all of you!  I can't believe that the time is going like it is!  Thanks for your continued support and love for your.  Your prayers are very much appreciated and heard!  Talk to you again soon.

Love, Elder A. Craft  ( The "A" is for African now ;) haha)