Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Reassigned Again... Oregon Salem Mission

Dear Brother & Sister Webster,

Sister Samuelian and I were so pleased to greet your missionary at the Portland airport! Upon their arrival we had the opportunity to take them by the beautiful Portland Temple. (Attached you will find a photo of your newly arrived missionary at the Temple!) Your missionary may have the opportunity to attend the Portland Temple while here serving the Lord. 

Shortly following his arrival, I had the opportunity to interview your missionary and find out more about him.  He is most impressive and will be a real asset to the Oregon Salem Mission! Out of all the assignments a Mission President has, none are taken more seriously than the assignment of their first companion and trainer. After careful thought, consideration and inspiration from our Heavenly Father, your missionary has been assigned to labor in the Keizer, Oregon Spanish Branch. His trainer is Elder Bensen from Clearfield Utah, a seasoned and well respected missionary. 

You can send all letters or packages for your missionary to the Mission office listed below. Of course we encourage you to correspond weekly via e-mail with your missionary. We don't know how long your son will be with us as he awaits his Visa, but know he will be loved, cherished and engaged in this great work while he is here.

Oregon Salem Mission Office
700 Deborah Road
Suite 260
Newberg, Oregon 97132

We thank you once again for sending your missionary to us.  We will take good care of him and know the sacred trust you place in ourselves and in the Lord.

Kind Regards,
President Michael Samuelian
Sister LuAnn Samuelian

Oregon Salem Mission

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Here We Go!


Pues, I'm allowed to email today because I may or may not be having my p-day next week, since normal p-days are on monday and thats my travel day and I'll have interviews with whoever the branch president in Portland is. Haha they literally told us nothing about our temporary reassignments. All they gave me was a piece of paper that said I will be temporarily serving in the Oregon Portland Mission and they stapled on my travel plans. We were able to look up the mission boundaries last night though. It looks like it covers the southern half of portland, and the eastern border is the peak of Mt. Hood. We're all pretty excited to leave the CCM, but we've started to really like it here. Its hard not to become good friends when you spend every second for 6 weeks together with 7 other Elders. Its gone by so fast, but at the same time, the days are so long here that by the time we go to bed we all have to check our planners to remember what we did that morning.

As far as the reassignments go, we're a little nervous, for different reasons. Elder Evans is nervous because he's going to Detroit and doesn't want to get mugged...understandable. Elder Kidman is worried that he's supposed to be flying all the way to New Hampshire by himself but has only been to an airport once before. And we're all nervous because we packed specifically for Argentina, and now I'm wishing I had more waterproof stuff (please don't send anything though). We're also curious if they're going to make us buy bikes, because we don't know if our new missions are biking missions. We're hoping we're just going to be walking, we don't want to buy a bike and then have to leave it when we go to Argentina. Haha, it would be way weird if we ended up somewhere we got cars.

Anyway, I don't have much else to say, since the reassignment is the main interesting thing this week. Its kind of weird here now, and sunday will be odd. The CCM is lowering its number of spanish speakers to take in all the english ones, so our branch is being dissolved along with a bunch of other spanish branches. They started right after we got here, so in church tomorrow the only people that will be there will be our branch president, his wife, and the 8 of us. Haha, we really want to do a musical number and have the 8 of us sing to them. Who knows?

Vos amo,

Elder Webster

Friday, July 26, 2013

Side Trip

Jace will be leaving the MTC on Monday! The visas for Argentina have been very slow in coming, so he will go to Portland, Oregon for a few months. He seems excited about it. Portland will be vastly different from Tucson, that's for sure!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Teaching With The Spirit

Haha, that's Elder Kidman's mom, that's cool that she tried friending you. Apparently she's been stalking my profile. There's 3 of us that should eventually be going to Argentina: my companion, an Elder Evans, and me. That's way cool that you're an official jewelry supplier for that foundation! And thanks for going to court for me! And yeah, I got Andrew's email last week, I found it. Thanks Dad for the spiritual thought, that was cool. And the fears thing was cool too. Sorry, I'm trying to address everything you guys said, but its hard to answer/comment on everything. Oh and I should be finding out my temporary reassignment on Thursday or Friday, and it should come with travel plans. They'll let me email you a short message once I get the assignment, so I'll be able to tell you where I'm going and what time I'll be leaving. So that's how that should work...hopefully.

Anyway, this was a way cool week. First of all, Elder Kidman and I had our best lesson yet. It was way cool. We were teaching Santiago (who is played by our instructor, Santiago is someone he taught on his mission, so he treats us how Santiago treated him). Santiago is always super appreciative, says he feels good when we're with him, and in his prayers with us always says thanks for our lessons. Anyway, during our lesson he was telling us about how his friends and everyone in his family was making fun of him for listening to us and thought he was crazy for even thinking about changing his life. He felt like he had to change but wasn't sure if he could do it because of them. I opened my mouth to respond to his worries and that's when the spirit totally told me what to tell him. I started to explain that he would be setting a good example for them through baptism, and he asked how that would help, and I told him it would help because then his friends and family would be able to feel good/feel the spirit when they were with him just like how he felt it when he was with us. The whole time I was telling him this we were just staring into each other eyes, and when I had finished, Santiago/our instructor was literally crying and told us it was exactly what he needed to hear, and that he was willing to prepare to be baptized. We all felt so great! Even though he isn't a real investigator it felt so real. And it all happened in spanish!
Another cool thing that happened this week was during TRC. We have TRC once a week, and its when members volunteer to come in and let us talk with them/teach them for half an hour (we do it in spanish with members that know spanish). Last week we got to do it differently. We skyped with native spanish speakers! Elder Kidman and I got to talk with a Sister from Spain. It was kind of hard because the whole time she spoke to us conjugating all her verbs in the "vosotros" form, which we weren't really used to, but we could understand a fair amount of what she was saying. It was pretty funny when her mom walked in to talk to her for a second though, because all of a sudden she started talking like 4 times faster than she had been talking to us. Haha, we had been feeling pretty good about understanding her at all, but we couldn't understand anything once she spoke in her normal speed! Oh well, we'll figure it out eventually.
So this week's scripture is 1 Nefi 3:7. I thought about choosing a different one, mainly because it seems pretty lame to choose a scripture mastery, but I like it. I've also decided I really like reading the scriptures in spanish. Over the past couple days I finished reading 1 Nefi in spanish and its cool because its hard to translate everything exactly, and I like to see how they say it in spanish. Sometimes I'll be able to think about something in a new way because the word that its written is spanish makes me think of different ideas than when I read it in english. For instance, we noticed a couple days ago that there's a verse in Ezekiel in the Bible that says to "turn yourselves" in english, but in spanish it says to repent. We thought it was cool that they translated it that way. Plus, I kinda just think its cool that I read 1 Nefi and understood almost all of it in spanish. It's a bit confusing because the scriptures use vosotros form a lot too, but I'm getting more used to it. Which is good, because I've heard they sort of use a form of vos/vosotros in Argentina.
Oh, another cool thing. For our last week, our district has a goal of doing 200 contacts/lessons. Basically, we want to share 200 scripture/mini-lessons with random people in the MTC. That means 50 per companionship. I think Elder Kidman and I will be able to get our 50, but I'm not so sure our district will get the 200 overall...but we're trying our best! Haha, during our last lesson that we did last night, the missionaries we were talking to gave us a bag of like 10 cookies for sharing the lesson with them (and because they were about to leave the MTC and couldn't take them with them). Haha, funny/random little blessing for doing our best, I guess.
Well, its been a great week and I'm excited to find out where I'm getting reassigned to! You should hear from me later this week about it.
Hasta Luego,
Elder Webster

PS- oh, and good luck with the house!
PSS- saw Elder Flores from Irvine a couple times. Slightly jealous that he already knows spanish so he only needs to be here for 2 weeks. Oh well

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Memorizing, Summarizing, and Define-izing

Hey guys!

Sounds like a pretty eventful week! I'm glad Hailey and Jordan had so much fun at EFY. I got the package and Hailey's letter last Tuesday, but it was after I had used my computer time, so I wasn't able to thank you for it, so thanks! I also put a letter in the mail for Hailey today, so that should get there... eventually. And good luck with the house! I hope it will sell quick!

So I should be leaving the MTC about 2 weeks from today. I haven't heard anything about the visa yet though. We're supposed to get our travel plans this upcoming weekend, so mine will probably tell me I've been temporarily reassigned somewhere in the US until my visa comes. I'm not exactly sure how that works, but I don't think it would be so bad to go state side for a little bit. It might even make the transition to Spanish a little easier. Who knows? So I got to talk in sacrament meeting this week! That was pretty cool. They treat us sort of like youth speakers, and we're only supposed to go 3-5 minutes, but it's a lot different when you're doing it in Spanish. I got up there and decided I didn't like what I wrote, so I ended up doing an improv talk in Spanish. It was pretty awesome. It was similar to what I had prepared, but I wanted to emphasize different stuff. Plus, its awkward if you stare at a paper the whole talk when theres only like 20-30 other people in the meeting. Speaking of which, one of the districts in our zone left yesterday for the field, so now there are only 20 missionaries in our district, and next week its dropping down to 8. They decided that rather than make us join another zone for a week, they'll just let us be our own zone. That last sacrament meeting here should be interesting with only the 8 of us and our branch president (his counselors have been released).

Oh, we've been slowly getting better at Spanish! We're way better than we were when we started, but we have a long way to go. Our lessons are also improving. We've been practicing teaching a lot. We practice teaching entire lessons by only asking questions and sharing a couple scriptures. We basically try to help the other person teach themselves the gospel and why they need it, rather than just telling them it's important.

Oh, and the verse of the week! I really like finding these. I have this goal of memorizing each of my "verses of the week" in Spanish, and remembering them. Right now I think I have 5 verses, the mission purpose, the first vision, and the invitation for baptism all memorized in Spanish. This week's verse is Alma 26:22. I really like this verse. It explains what we should do and then gives some awesome promises. One of them includes bringing thousands of souls to repentance. Pretty sweet.

As always, I feel like so much happens here, but whenever I try to write it down I can't remember any of it. I'm having spiritual experiences everyday, and one of my favorite things to do is when we have personal study. I've started doing this thing where I'll choose something I'm interested in, study it in the scriptures, and then try to write a super awesome definition of it, as if I were writing an entry for the Bible Dictionary. I really like doing it. It helps me focus on what I'm actually teaching and what it should mean to me and to investigators.

Vos amo,
Elder Webster

Pecado, Pescado


Sounds like you had fun at the Webster reunion. And that's too bad about the monsoon wrecking our yard. Good luck with the house selling, you're right, I don't envy having to help get it ready.

Anyway, another good week in the MTC. The 4th of July was kind of cool. There was a short devotional at 7 pm, and afterwards we all watched the movie "17 Miracles." Right after that (about 10 pm) the President of the MTC got up and told us that we were going to be allowed to "stay up past bedtime" and that there was free ice cream outside so we could watch the fireworks. I can't imagine anywhere else in the world where a few thousand ~19 year olds would be so excited about staying up past bedtime and free ice cream. We all went out to watch and we even started singing some songs while we watched.

That reminds me, I can't remember if I've told you guys this or not, but our zone has created "Christmas Song Saturdays" where we sing Christmas songs all day. Nobody else in the MTC actually participates, but while we were walking to breakfast singing "The First Noel" we heard somebody nearby ask their companion why we were singing that and he told him "don't you remember? It's those guys that sing Christmas songs like every Saturday." We were pretty stoked that somebody remembered us. Our zone likes singing a lot. In fact, that same day, our district decided to spend an hour and a half of our personal language study time by practicing our Spanish pronunciation by singing Christmas sons in Spanish. We found out that when we sing "Angels We Have Heard on High" and Silent Night" at the same time, we end up finishing at the exact same time. They probably aren't actually supposed to be the same length, and we sounded absolutely terrible, but it was way fun. Singing can definitely invite the Spirit. 

Dad, you asked about Santiago and Diego. Well, we've learned a little bit more about investigators work here. All of our investigators are instructors here, and they just come in and act the part of someone that they met on their mission, It feels really realistic though. Santiago and Diego are awesome, but they came with different challenges. Santiago can't really read well and gets confused easily, but I think it actually makes him more fun to teach. We had some really cool teaching experiences with him, and I'm definitely gaining a testimony of the scriptures that say if you'll just open your mouth, it will be given you what to say. For example, in one lesson with him we were taking about the Restoration of the plentitud of the Gospel. I asked if he had any questions and he asked what I meant by "plentitud" (it's sort of and odd word choice, but that's the work Prredicad Mi Evangelio uses). I wasn't sure what to say, but as soon as I started trying to answer has question, an analogy popped into my head. I started talking to him about pizza, and how it's delivered as a whole, but during a party, everyone will come and take a couple slices. I explained that for along time, that was what happened to the gospel. Jesus Christ brought "the whole pizza" but over time different churches came and took the slices they wanted. I then explained that our church had been restored and given the "whole pizza" of the gospel. It was kind of a funny way of putting it, but it was really effective and awesome. Later on when the teacher was giving us feedback on our lesson, he asked if we had planned the pizza analogy beforehand and said that Santiago (he was playing the part of Santiago) really liked it and that we had done a really good ob of teaching to his needs. We obviously have a lot of improving to do, but I'm happy with how things have been going so far. Our other teacher (playing Diego) gave us similar feedback, although we struggle teaching Diego a bit. He understands everything we say but doesn't seem to understand that we want him to actually believe in what we are saying. But this week both of our teachers told Elder Kidman and I that they were impressed with how we're doing and want us to be an example for the rest of the District and show them how we study or... something like that. They were telling us in Spanish and we didn't understand the whole thing. Haha that's one awkward part of the lessons. They intentionally talk faster and use words they know that we don't know, so sometimes it leads to awkward situations. Like in the lesson where I asked how Santiago was doing, he said bad because his wife got diagnosed with arthritis, and then I immediately followed up by asking what he likes to do for fun. Not exactly the best social skills... but once we actually start teaching it goes pretty well. There's actually been several funny things with the language. One of the other Elders in our district accidentally told an investigator he could be forgiven of his fish (pecado=sin, pescado=fish). Another time was when someone asked our teacher if he had a girlfriend. The teacher said he didn't, because he was married, but the Elder didn't understand and asked if he wanted a girlfriend in the future. We all laughed and the teacher said no, he didn't plan on having an affair. Had to be there I guess. We've noticed that for some reason, everything sounds more funny in Spanish.

Anyway, life in the MTC is pretty good. The language is coming along really well, but I know that as soon as I get out of the MTC and into the real world it will feel like I didn't actually learn anything.

Les amo,
Elder Webster

Studying It Up

Hey guys,

That's cool that Brayden's coming this week. I think the "new MTC" is the West Campus. Its like a temporary one over in the BYU off-campus housing at Wyview. If he is over there I probably won't see him. Although in a couple weeks our Branch/Zone is being disbanded and our district (the only ones that will still be here that are in our branch) will be combined with another branch, and there's a rumor that we might have to move over there.

Yeah, Andrew entered the MTC about a month before I did, and since he's going to Ohio, English speaking, I think he was only here for like 11 days, so he was out in the field before I even got here.

We're still teaching "investigators," but we finished with our first one. The investigators are all (or almost all) teachers here, so after we finished teaching Marcelo and got him to commit to baptism, we found out he was going to be one of our new teachers. We now have two investigators, Santiago and Diego. We haven't got to meet Diego yet though. Teaching is way fun. They're finally actually starting to help us practice teaching techniques, and they let us try doing a lesson in English... and it went way better. My companion and I sort of lose our personality when we teach in Spanish, but in English we felt a lot more friendly and it was easier to show the investigator that he could trust us.

Haha I feel like I have so many things I could tell you guys in these emails, and I'm constantly doing things, but when I sit down to type the email I can't remember anything about what I've been doing. I have the same problem when I write in my journal. The classes, lessons, and days all start blending together.

Well one thing I've been doing a lot of is playing soccer, which is pretty awesome. We get gym time a couple times a week and I always go to the field across the street with some other Elders in my zine to play soccer. One of them spent the last year playing for a college team, so he's pretty fun to play with.

Another thing I've been working on is memorizing things more. A few days ago I memorized the first verse of Called To Serve in Spanish (the Spanish version has 4 verses). I actually like the Spanish version more. My companion and I translated it and it sounds pretty epic. The first verse basically says that we are called to serve, to testify of Christ, to proclaim light to a world in darkness, and then the chorus is about singing a song of triumph and fighting for a celestial cause with the power of God. Sounds pretty cool. I've also started trying to memorize some of my favorite scriptures in Spanish. So far I've learned D&C 58:27 and Moroni 7:13. It says that everything which inviteth and enticeth to do good, love God, and to serve Him, is inspired of God. Not only does this seem like a good guide for making decisions, but since the whole point of missionary work is to invite people to those things, it means that the things I do should be inspired of God. Kinda nifty. I had some other thoughts/scriptures on that topic but... I don't feel like typing them.

Mom, you mentioned that its good that my companion and I get along. You're right, and its way helpful that we get along as well as we do. He actually wants to be a seminary teacher in Utah when he's older, and he loves learning/studying about the gospel. I know I would try to work hard no matter who my companion was, but I'm glad that he works hard enough to help keep me motivated. Of the 8 Elders in my District, only 3 of us have done any college, the other 5 are right out of high school. I don't want to make it sound like they don't work hard or that I work harder than them, they're still always teaching me things and we're all trying our best to learn, Just tell Jordan to keep that in mind. I remember always thinking of missionaries as these perfect examples, and next year that's supposed to be you.  Haha speaking of perfect examples, I heard from someone that since the church isn't super old in Argentina, the members there look to missionaries practically the same way we look to church leaders. So... that'll be interesting. 

Oh, and Sunday was cool. It doesn't exactly feel like a day of rest here, but it was still really cool. Our sacrament meeting was just our branch, about 30 of us, and the majority of it was in Spanish (except for two of the talks, who were given by one of the branch presidency members and his wife, neither of whom know Spanish.... Which I imagine makes paying attention during sacrament rather hard for them). Our sacrament meeting is also cool because 2 missionaries are supposed to give 5 minute talks in Spanish about a certain topic, but we don't know who will be speaking until we get there. We're all expected to write a talk every week just in case.

Dad, you asked about the visa. I haven't heard anything about it.

Anyway, life's good, the gospel's great, and... I'm basically out of time. Have an awesome week!

Les Amo,
Elder Webster