Monday, December 29, 2014

Love the scriptures

It's been a good week this week. Christmas was fantastic skyping y'all of course. After we got off with you we went to this member family's home for dinner. Then we went and played basketball and some games with the other missionaries in Lubbock at the stake center. 

The rest of the week after that we've done a lot of knocking and street contacting (which is only effective on the nicer days). We have had a couple good lessons with our investigators this week and M actually came to church yesterday! He seemed to like it and stayed all of sacrament meeting instead of only 20 minutes like he said he would, haha. The bad thing was one of our other investigators, J, didn't come to church, so we have to move his baptism date back again. 

I'm not sure if I told you about him because Tuesday was p-day and we finally met him Tues night. We had tried him a ton of times since we've been here since the sisters had been meeting with him and he had been progressing quite a bit, but he was never there. So Tuesday night we were heading in for the night when I just felt like we should try to see J again. We almost didn't because it was getting late and we wouldn't have hardly any time to meet with him, but we did anyway. We got there and he was there and we had a fantastic, yet short, meeting with him! We found out that he had called the sisters who gave him to the sisters before us as a referral and was wanting missionaries to come over. The sisters had tried to call us, but we were running from appointment to appointment and missed their call. But the spirit still guided us to him when he really needed us. 

This week I've really come to love the scriptures even more than I ever have. I've been frustrated from all the tracting we've had to do lately, but when we get back at night and I read a little from the scriptures (especially the BoM) I feel so much better and way more motivated to go out and do whatever it is the Lord needs me to do. I hope y'all can find as much joy and consolation from the scriptures as I do. Life would be miserable if I couldn't read from them every day.

Elder Carlson

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Rain - a gift from God

This week's been kind of crazy, but a really good one. We had a mission party yesterday (only with half the mission, though). It was really neat. We had a talent show and watched Saratov Approach and then more talents and then a short talk by Pres Heap. Some of the best gifts we can give others is our talents and time. When we use our talents to help others and make them happier, it's a lot more long lasting than anything you can buy from a store.

Elder Evans is really cool. He's from Lewiston, Utah and loves to shoot competitively. I feel like he's already been trained, haha. He's a good teacher and really knows his stuff. He just needs more practice, so hopefully we'll be able to have a lot of teaching opportunities.

White washing this area's been interesting too. It's good that I already know the members, and even a couple of the investigators. We have three main investigators: C and J (they're Pagan, but are coming to church for the structure for their kids) and M (this black guy who's awesome and understands pretty much everything we teach, but he just needs time to get an answer it's true). A lot of people aren't too happy the sisters got replaced by elders, which makes it a little harder sometimes, but some people like us better. 

One cool experience this week was last night, it started raining and we were out on our bikes (we're trying to save miles on our car). It was really cold and I wasn't too happy about getting soaked when it was so windy and cold. But then we rode past this man who flagged us down excitedly. He apparently wasn't too pumped about the rain, either, but when he saw us it reminded him that the rain was a gift from God and he should be thankful for it. So we prayed with him and all of us went on our ways happier. I'm glad that I can have that kind of effect on people just by being a missionary and doing what I know I should be doing.

I hope everything is going well and ya'll remember the true meaning of Christmas.

Elder Carlson

Tuesday, December 16, 2014


So we got transfer calls last Saturday and I'm staying in the same ward, but I'm moving up to the area in the north half of it (taking over the sister's area). Apparently there are 10 sisters leaving the mission and only one coming in this transfer so a lot of sister areas are being taken over by elders. I also got the crazy news that I'm training! His name is Elder Evans, but that's all I know about him. I don't feel 100% ready for this, but if the Lord calls me to do something, He'll make sure I can do it.

This week has been pretty productive. We met with our investigator T, who we haven't seen for about a week. We had an awesome lesson with her and she was super excited to come to church, but she didn't come. We think it was her boyfriend, who's a less active member, that's holding her back. Really the hardest part of missionary work is getting people to do the stuff we invite them to do. In church this week we talked about idleness and how we need to watch out to fill our lives with the best things in life and not waste our precious time in life with things that aren't the best, even if they're good. I think that's really what missionary work is, is helping others realize what's best for them and helping them make that step from doing good or better things to doing the best things. It's hard to just help others understand that.

We've also had some other good lessons with investigators this week, but they haven't really been progressing like T. One guy we meet with is reading the book of mormon, though, and is loving it! He's a Spanish tutor at Tech, so us and the Spanish elders are meeting with him. He's already read the first six chapters at least 3 or 4 times (he rereads it all each time he reads because he has a hard time remembering what he's read). The only problems with him is he isn't willing to come to church and he isn't sure if God even exists. As he reads, though, he'll come to know God is there and Jesus Christ is our Savior. The bom is a powerful book. 

Also, yes I did hear about the guy who crashed into the temple. Mostly from non-members. We don't know too much, but he might have been raised in the church and they say when he hit it he was going 94 mph and died before they even got him out of the car. The damage to the temple wall is minimal. There's apparently only a crack or two. I love you all and remember not to drive your car into any temples. The temple will always win.

-Elder Carlson

Monday, December 8, 2014

Community Nativity Exhibit

Not a ton happened this week. We got to help out with this nativity exhibit the stake has been putting on. I'm not sure if I told you about it. for about 5 years now this stake has put on a "community nativity exhibit" where members donate nativities for the weekend that are set up and people can walk around and look at. There are also a ton of musical groups and stuff that are performing as you walk around, too. It's really neat because the entire community of Lubbock contributes. There are choirs from other churches and schools and they have a concert type thing there every night. Yesterday, instead of the concert, they showed the Christmas Devotional and we got to see that. All the missionaries took different shifts and so Geverts and I got to help Thursday and Friday. Thursday we hosted (pretty much just walked around and answered questions for people) and Friday we pretty much were put as guards for the temple, haha. The nativity was in the stake center and the temple is right behind it and so I guess they had a problem with people thinking it was in the temple. so that wasn't as fun because we didn't get to see the cool nativities, but it was nice just to be able to relax next to the temple.

One cool thing that happened this week was on Saturday. We were pretty bummed because all our appointments for that day cancelled and we just found out that some of our pretty solid (we thought) investigators were now going to a baptist church. We went back to our apartment to grab something and when we were leaving (to go contacting or something) we saw this guy in our apartment courtyard-type-place looking pretty depressed. We sat down and started talking with him and found out that he had just been in a fight with his wife and had been struggling with some addictions for a while. We talked to him for a while and toward the end of our conversation he was able to talk to his wife and get back on less-bad terms with her and we gave him a BoM and he wanted us to come over and talk with him more another day. It's really neat how the Lord will always put us in the right place if we're just trying to do our best. He'll make sure what needs to happen will happen. As long as we're doing good of our own free will, God will put good opportunities in our path.

- Elder Carlson

Small miracles

It's been a pretty good week. We've been trying some different approaches lately and they've worked out pretty well. For a while we've been going around to visit less actives and trying to help the ward figure out who's moved and who still lives in this ward. While doing this this week we came in contact with this one family who moved here about three months ago and haven't gotten in contact with any missionaries or members here. It was really neat because about a week before we met them one of the missionaries who baptized them saw them and was wondering if they had seen any missionaries around. Then we showed up, haha. It's amazing the small miracles we're able to be a part of.

Thanksgiving morning - helping put together Christmas boxes for the Salvation Army

Thanksgiving was really good. We went to a member's house and ate with them and two other member families. They all have a bunch of little kids that were running around everywhere so it was almost like being home for Thanksgiving, haha. We also made some little flier type things I drew up wishing people a "Happy Turkey Day" and went around handing those out to investigators, potentials, etc. We even went to a nursing home and handed some out there. 

Friday we started "the initiative" by handing out those 'He is the Gift' cards when we morning find people. People are a lot more open when we start talking to them about Christmas rather than about prophets or something. It's also been a nice change when we just invite people out to the big nativity event we're having here. It's apparently a really big thing they've been doing in this stake for a couple years now and we get to help out with it a couple times. It'll be pretty fun. 

It's been really nice to be able to just focus on Jesus Christ this season and to help others do that, too. So many people focus on the negative things happening in the world but don't do anything to change those things, even in their own lives. Change is hard and that's why I think so many people are so afraid to talk to us; because we invite people to change. Don't be afraid to change. Even if you're comfortable where you are, you can always be so much happier. One man we're teaching told us, "Why would you do all that work to get to the Celestial Kingdom when the other two are so nice?" We need to shoot for the top and strive to reach our FULL potential. Never settle for less. Even though it may be hard, you'll never regret it.

-Elder Carlson

Friday, November 21, 2014

From Mescalero to Lubbock.

Brian was sad to be leaving Mescalero so soon, but looks like he's being well cared for in Lubbock.  This pic was at a member's home right after he got there.

So sad news this week... I'm not in Mescalero anymore. We got a call from Pres. Heap Friday morning and he gave us the news that I was leaving the next day after G's baptism. So Saturday right after the baptism I left with Pres and Sis Heap to Lubbock. It was pretty convenient that they were coming up for G's baptism in the first place and it was awesome because Pres Heap got to baptize G! I am so glad I got to serve in Mescalero and especially meet G. That branch really needs solid priesthood leaders and I know G is just what it needs to grow and eventually become a ward.

So the reason I got moved is quite the story and the Lord definitely had a hand in it. A while ago (I'm not sure exactly when), our land-lady in Mescalero called the mission office and complained that there were three of us in the apartment. They tried everything to get her to allow it, but she wouldn't allow it for some reason. Then that night, the Brethren emailed Pres Heap and let him know they were sending Elder Stuart, who was waiting for his visa, to Taiwan this Tuesday. This is weird because they usually wait until transfers, but they felt impressed to send him now.

Oh, yeah, and my new companion is Elder Geverts. He's from California (I'm pretty sure) and is a convert to the church. He's also the only member in his family currently. He's pretty sweet and is the district leader. I'm excited to serve with him. Also, we got snow yesterday!!! Which was awesome, but unfortunately I left my beanie in Mescalero, haha.

I am really sad that I had to leave Mescalero. It was by far my favorite area so far. I trust the Lord knows what He's doing even though I would never choose Lubbock over Mescalero in a million years. I just hope He'll let me know why He needs me here more than there pretty soon. No matter what you should do what the Lord calls you to do. It may seem hard and like you'd be happier if you didn't follow what He commands, but it'll all work out in the end.

- Elder Carlson

Monday, November 10, 2014

Loving Mescalero already!!

I was just going to start out by trying to say how much I love Mescalero already, but I don't think I can find words, haha. It is gorgeous out here, especially after being in dry, barren West Texas. It's kind of chilly up here already so I'm getting some more sweaters today when we go shopping. I hope we get snow soon. Getting out here kind of sucked because it's clear on the edge of the mission, but it was worth the long day of driving. Our apartment is really small and I had to sleep on the floor the first night because we were waiting to get a bunk-bed so we can all fit, haha. It feels kind of like we're camping because we're up in the mountains and living in a little cabin.

It's been such a drastic change from Midland. We have so many people we're teaching, it's crazy! There's about 160 people in the branch here, but only 15-30 people come each week. So we have a lot of less active work to do. Missionary work here is pretty different than what I've experienced before so far. We can't knock or ride bikes (I had to just leave my bike in Roswell with the zone leaders) and people are a lot more open to the BoM because it's about their ancestors. It's strange having a car, too and we can't live on the reservation so we have to drive a ways to get onto it.
We have one investigator who's super solid and he's getting baptized this Saturday!! He was an ordained minister of a Judo-Christian church and so he knows a lot about religion and it's so cool to see things just click when we explain it to him. We're still working with his wife and had one of the most amazing lessons I've had on my mission so far with her last night. It was great because we were scared for a while that if he got baptized he'd get kicked out and then he'd have to leave the res because he's not Apache. But now she sees that she needs to be baptized too!
My companions are great. Elder Murray is from Murray, Utah (awesome, huh? haha) and Elder Darby is from California. They are both great missionaries. Darby is the DL and is super in tune with the spirit and is great at finding new investigators. Murray is still in training, but is already a great teacher.
Elders Darby, Carlson and Murray

 I'm so happy I get to be here serving the Lord and bringing His gospel to the Lamanites. I hope y'all are doing great too and are happy and serving others. I love and miss you.
- Elder Carlson

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Transferred to Mescalero!

So I have a lot to tell you this week. First of all, we finally got a new investigator! She was actually an investigator in the past, but she's insanely busy and the missionaries lost contact with her. She's really cool and has investigated a ton of churches in the past and has developed a lot of similar beliefs as us from that.

Unfortunately, we got transfer calls this weekend and we're getting white-washed out of this area. I'm really excited, but I hope the new elders don't lose track of her. I'm sure they'll do great, though. I'm going to Mescalero, New Mexico. It's an Indian reservation and I'll be in a trio with elders Darby and Murray(who's being trained). Apparently they've been having a lot of success, so I'm really excited to go there, but I'm kind of sad to be leaving. I feel like I just got to know this area and the people here.

We had a "mission trip" this last Thursday where Elder Pino of the Quorum of the Seventy came and talked to us. It was really neat. He talked a lot about working with members because that's really the best way to do missionary work. Street contacting and tracting are not very effective. Elder and sister Pino were awesome, but they don't speak very good English, so they had to have some missionaries translate for them, which wasn't too great sometimes, haha. It was still really great.

Also, I had a great time at the temple Saturday! It was so great to feel that spirit in the temple again. There were a lot of missionaries there. I guess everyone was just trying to cram in a temple trip before the transfer's over. We were in the same session as some other missionaries here in Midland and even ran into some sisters that were in my last district. I also ran into the ward mission leader in Seminole (he works in the temple) and a ton of exciting things are happening in Seminole. The kids in that part-member family are getting baptized soon and a couple inactive families we were trying to work with when I was there are finally active!!
I think that's about it, but it's been a pretty eventful week. I'll end by saying I love the temple! I know it is the house of the Lord and we are so lucky to be able to have a temple in our mission. I think we take temples for granted a lot of time in Utah because there's so many so close. I hope you all go as much as you can and partake of those tremendous blessings that come from the temple! I can't express my gratitude for temples enough! I love y'all and hope all is well.

- Elder Carlson

Monday, October 27, 2014

Going to the temple!!!

So not a lot happened this week. We've still just been doing a lot of finding, which is not fun. I'm getting a lot better at it, though. It's quite a bit easier for me to just walk up to someone and start a conversation now. I've been kind of frustrated still not seeing much success from anything we're doing. We have found some people who seem pretty interested but the oil field screws that up because of the insane work schedules it's workers have. It's hard to get in touch with them again. Especially since we don't have a car and our area's so huge. Plus not even living in our area doesn't help. There's not much we can do but just keep trying and always seeking for the Lord's guidance.

I'm excited for Halloween this week, but it doesn't feel like it's coming up at all. It's still really hot here. For a couple days it cooled down and felt really nice. It even rained one day (which kind of sucked because we got soaked), but it didn't last too long. On Halloween we only proselyte until 6:00 and then we'll probably go play sports with the other missionaries in the city like we do on p-days.

Also, we set up a time to go to the temple with some members next Saturday! I love how we're able to go once a transfer now!! I'm really excited. I know the temple is truly the house of the Lord and we are so blessed to have temples so near by. I hope yall will continue trying to go as often as you can. I love and miss you all.

- Elder Carlson

Everything centered around the Atonement

Nothing really new to report on here this week. The most exciting thing this week was probably that we went on exchanges on Tuesday. I got to go up to this small town called Big Lake about an hour drive out of Midland with our DL. It was weird going back to a small town since I'm used to Midland now. We pretty much just went "morning finding" most of the time I was there (I'm not sure if I explained that to you, but it's pretty much just talking to everyone we see on the streets... and not just in the morning). We also went on splits to visit some less actives, which was fun because they were actually home, unlike most of the time in Midland.

We still don't have any investigators yet, but we have some potentials who seem like they'll be really solid once we can actually meet with them. People here in Texas have the craziest work schedules. So many people work for a couple weeks straight all day every day with only a few days off every once in a while. Others just have no set schedule and are basically always on call. It makes it hard to set appointments.

Random side notes: We found a turtle this morning near our apartment.
Some members gave us goat meat to try this week. I also think I forgot to tell you about when I ate menudo in Seminole (that's basically stomach soup). And thanks for the pictures again!

Oh, I also gave a talk yesterday in church. I still hate giving talks, haha. Hopefully by the end of my mission they'll be at least a little easier. It was on the Atonement, so it wasn't bad. That's a nice topic to speak on. Everything in the gospel and everything we teach as missionaries and in our lives is centered around the Atonement. I'm so grateful the Savior had enough love for us to do that for us. I'm so grateful for the times I've been able to feel it's power in my life. I hope you all realize this tremendous blessing we have been given and take advantage of this gift every day. I love and miss you all.

- Elder Carlson

Monday, October 13, 2014

Ute fans in Texas!!!

Mission wide fast

This week was pretty much the same old thing. Lots of walking and biking and trying to talk to people without much success. Hopefully things will pick up soon. We had a mission wide fast on Sunday to help us do better with finding people to teach because I guess since the big rule changes that were made our numbers on that have dropped. I think it'll just take a while for us to figure out how to balance all the resources we have and make the most of them.

Sunday we also got a ride from a member out to the county roads where we can't really get to on our bikes. We weren't able to see the referral we were going out there to see but it was good to finally get out there and see some of the less active members out there. We even got the opportunity to help one lady by moving her broken fridge out of her house.

We've also been able to meet with some part member families this week. Tuesday we went to the B's and were able to have a lesson with them, which went really well. Mr B is the only non-member in his family and he said he'd start reading the Book of Mormon, so hopefully he will. We also got to see the G's and Bro G, who hasn't come to church for about 12 years, came to church on Sunday! It was probably just because his wife was speaking in sacrament meeting, but hopefully he felt the spirit and will want to come back.

Also, our one investigator moved to Arizona this week. We weren't even able to teach her since I've been here and I didn't even know she was an investigator the first time I met her! Oh, well. I guess we'll just have to keep trying to find people and hopefully our fast will help speed up the work.

It sounds like y'all are having fun and thanks Mom for the pictures from Park City! One of the things I really miss right now is fall, haha. A few of the trees here are losing leaves slowly, but I doubt many of them will change colors and look as pretty as it does in Utah. I love and miss you all.

- Elder Carlson

Monday, October 6, 2014

General Conference

So this week was awesome! Mainly because of conference. We were able to watch it at one of the church buildings in Midland. We watched all of the sessions there except for Sunday morning because a member family invited us over to watch it with them and have breakfast. It was really fun because we got to do conference bingo with their kids, haha! It's great getting to know the members, but I think I get more out of conference without little kids running around and hanging off of me, haha.

This week we also had a zone conference, which was great because we got to see "Meet the Mormons". It's a fantastic movie and I encourage all of you to see it and bring all of your friends when it comes out! It's a great way to help everyone understand how normal Mormons really are and how the gospel blesses our lives without talking to us pushy, preachy missionaries. Unfortunately, it's most likely only going to be shown in one or two theaters in this mission, but I'm glad Pres Heap was able to get a copy and show us.

We haven't had too much luck teaching anyone this week, but we've been on our bikes a little more because we've been going out to the farthest out part of our area a little more.
God has blessed us a lot with safety this week. Biking around Midland is kind of scary. The traffic is crazy and there are some crazy drivers. We saw J again (the guy we found who we gave to the YSA sisters) and he found out he has a tumor on his lung and started chemo recently. It's not a coincidence we found him and were able to help him feel the joy of the gospel before this happened. Please pray for him.

I think that's about all the major things that happened this week. I'm so grateful for a living prophet today and for the opportunity general conference is to hear from him and all of God's chosen apostles. I hope you all can continue to find your own testimony and if you already have it continue to nourish it so it can grow and increase daily. I love you all.

- Elder Carlson

Monday, September 29, 2014

Adjusting to Midland

This week has been really long. And my feet hurt more than they ever have in my life, haha. Midland is awesome! But our area is huge and, like Seminole, it's supposed to be a car area, but we're stuck on bikes. Only Elder Morley likes walking more than biking, so we do a lot of walking. It's weird being in a big city now, since I got used to the small town life of Seminole. We don't even live in our area and have to walk about ten minutes to get to it.

It seems like this area will be a little harder than my last area because I feel like the poorer people of Seminole were a lot more humble and ready to accept the gospel. We're also working with a lot of less active members because there's so many! Probably almost half of the ward is less active it seems like! We've only had one lesson not with less active or active members this week and we only have one investigator right now and she might get deployed soon.

We did meet this one guy morning finding one day and taught him a lesson. He soaked it all up and loved it and accepted a baptism date already! But we had to turn him over to the sisters in the YSA ward so we probably won't see him again, or at least we won't be the ones teaching him.

Sunday it was really nice being in a ward again, but I feel like I know nobody, haha. There are three sets of missionaries in our ward (including Morley and I) plus two other wards in the city and a Spanish Branch. I'll have to get used to having so many other missionaries around. One missionary in our ward, though, is Elder Garey, who was in my MTC district!! It's great seeing him again and he's already training. After church Sunday we had the other elders in our ward drop us off in one part of our area. We spent the next five hours walking around visiting people and just contacting people (well, five hours including the hour and a half walk back to our apartment). I have some gnarly blisters from that, haha. While we were out there we talked to some people who only spoke Spanish and so I tried to talk to them, but I pretty much suck at it, haha. They probably didn't understand a word I said.

It's been kind of a hard week adjusting to Midland but I think I'll like it here and I hope we can find some people to teach or at least I can figure out how to help less active members better. I love and miss you all.

- Elder Carlson

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Transferred to Midland!!!

So we got transfer calls Saturday and I'm going to Midland!!! I'm super excited! My new comp's name is Elder Morley and it's his first time being a senior companion and they said it would seem like I'm senior comp sometimes. I've heard only good things about Midland. It's going to be quite a change going from a little town like Seminole with only one branch to a bigger city with four wards. Elder Christensen is staying in Seminole and he's training again!

Other than that, it's been a pretty slow week. The weather has been all over the place. It's rained a ton and been sunny some days. One day it was super sunny and warm outside so we went out to see the B's (they live just outside of town). Once we got to the edge of town, it started pouring and we were instantly soaked. The weather here's pretty crazy.

I feel like more happened this week, but I can't remember, haha. I've been busy today packing because I'll probably leave Wednesday and I'm not sure how much time I'll have later to pack. And my new address is: 3601 Andrews Hwy #405 Midland, TX 79703.

I wish I had more to say this week, but I'm sure I'll have plenty next week with being transfered and all. I love you all and miss you!

-Elder Carlson

Monday, September 15, 2014

Not a greenie anymore!

This has been kind of a slow week. It's actually been pretty cold here recently, too. I think Texas just chooses to skip over fall and go straight from summer to winter. It would be perfect temperature if it weren't for the wind and riding on our bikes just makes the wind seem stronger and colder. Friday we got a ton of flash flood warnings. We pretty much ignored them and went to our investigator's house for breakfast and payed the price by getting soaked on the way back. That day wasn't very fun because we were told to stay inside unless we had a set appointment because the weather was so bad. We tried to go to the post office, but the street we usually go down to get there had literally turned into a river. We had to get creative with our pedaling to try and avoid soaking our shoes again.
We had Stake Conference this week and it was awesome! We only got to see the meeting on Sunday because it was in Lubbock and they only broadcasted that meeting. It was a huge meeting because they were splitting the Lubbock and Roswell stakes into three stakes!!! It's super exciting and Elder Teh from the quorum of the seventy, who spoke at last conference, by the way, came to preside. It was fantastic and Elder Teh pretty much threw down on temple attendance. I hope y'all realize what a blessing the temples are and we are so blessed to have one so close (especially for everyone in Utah). I've been missing seeing temples so often and especially miss going to them. I hope the members got the message here and we're able to go there with them soon.

I'm not sure if I told you about the B family. The family that moved here from Utah introduced us to them at dinner last week. We were able to have a lesson with them yesterday and they are so solid! I'm so excited for them!! it's amazing to see how the Lord prepares people. They were telling us how they were raised thinking that Mormons were insane and to avoid us at all cost but how different things just in the past year have made it possible for them to be able to be more open to hearing the gospel now.
Oh, and I'm officially not a greenie anymore! We're done with the 12 week training program and so today is the first day I'm not in training. It's weird because last week was a seven week transfer instead of the usual six week ones, so I get a week of this transfer not being a greenie, haha. We get transfer calls next week and I'm pretty sure I'll probably be transfered because I just got done with training. I want to leave, but don't at the same time. If I do, I'm going to miss the people here a lot. I love you all and hope y'all always remember what a blessing this gospel is and feel that desire to share it with others.
-Elder Carlson

Friday, September 12, 2014

Zone Conference

Exciting changes!

So this week has been pretty awesome. We had zone conference Wednesday and Pres Heap made some exciting changes to the rules! There used to be restrictions on how many meals we could eat with each member every month and how many a week, but now we can eat with them anytime. The branch is pretty excited about that, haha. We can also do 10 hours of service each week instead of only 3. And the best change, I think, is that we can now go to the temple once a transfer! We used to go in big groups like every 8 months or something, but now we can go with investigators or members (as long as we can get rides because we didn't get a car and even if we had one we wouldn't have enough miles for that)
Yes, it has been very rainy this week. Actually, it only was on Thursday through Saturday, but when it rains in Texas, it rains hard. We would leave our apartment and be completely drenched before we left the parking lot. Plus, there's no drainage system here, so we've been riding through puddles that go up to our ankles when we're on our bikes. My shoes are still a little damp, haha.
This week at church S brought her son and he really liked it! He got offered a job by one of the members at church and he's super excited about that. Because of that he's decided to stop smoking and hopefully he'll start reading the Book of Mormon! Unfortunately, his sister didn't come to church this week because she was visiting her boyfriend.
I think that's about it, but this week I am very thankful for the rain because it brings cooler weather but also for a dryer in our apartment because we've used that a lot this week. I love you all!
- Elder Carlson

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Praying for a car!

Sorry I wasn't able to email yesterday, but the library was closed because of Labor Day. Not too much has happened lately. We have been trying all week long to meet with S's daughter, but their whole family is crazy and drama-filled, haha. She's been gone pretty much all week but fortunately we're going to meet with her tonight. With school starting it's been difficult to meet with any of our investigators consistently, which is frustrating. Fortunately, we were able to find out where our investigator got moved to by CPS and we know his foster parents names so hopefully the missionaries there will be able to help him.
This week was kind of rough because on top of everyone cancelling appointments on us all the time I got kind of sick (don't worry Mom, it was only a minor cold) and also twisted my ankle. It swelled up quite a bit and made it difficult to walk and bike. Fortunately, it's pretty much back to normal now.
We were able to finally make it out to another city we're supposed to cover this week, Seagraves. Bro. A was able to drive us out there because we had a referral from the Branch President there. The guy we were reffered to was out of town for another week, we found out, but we were able to visit a less active lady who lives out there. We have zone training tomorrow and supposedly if areas receive a car, it's usually at zone training. So we're hoping and praying because we need a car here.
Like I said, not much happened this week, but it's super exciting to hear about all my friends leaving on missions soon! I hope y'all always remember how much the Lord loves each of you and always be looking for His hand in your life every day. I love and miss you all.
- Elder Carlson

Monday, August 25, 2014

What I've learned this week

This week has seemed really long because a lot has happened. With S just getting baptized we've been meeting with her pretty much every day to give her the new member lessons (basically just reteach her the lessons) and her whole family decided to sit in on them too! When we went over to teach her the first one she made her kids join and all their friends who were there came too, so we had 8 people we were teaching, haha! Her daughter really likes it and even came to church yesterday and said she'd come next week! It's awesome to see what a great spirit S's decision to be baptized brought to her whole family!

On a less exciting note, one of our investigators got taken by CPS Tuesday. I guess it's good that he's away from his parents who were horrible examples and didn't really care about him and his siblings. We think he's in a foster home in Brady now, which is still in our mission so hopefully we'll be able to get the missionaries there to find him and help him out.

We found out that J, who was in jail out of state, got let out, but still has to stay up there until her court date. So that's really good, but she's been having a rough time away from home. Hopefully this will help her to start coming to church again (she's been somewhat less-active for a little while now) and she'll start making better decisions (we think she might have gotten back into drugs). Her cousin who went to jail with her (and worships Satan and does drugs) most likely isn't coming back because she wasn't even supposed to leave the state because of her probation, which is probably good because she wasn't the best influence on J.

I hope everything is going well with everyone who reads this. And remember it's ok to have questions about your faith, but remember to search for the answers in the right sources (the scriptures and God/prayer). But don't let those questions get in the way of what you already know. Always remember what you have a testimony in even when those questions/doubts arise. If your testimony is rooted in Jesus Christ and you've felt the spirit testify on His gospel and church, you don't need to understand everything about His doctrine. We all learn little by little at our own pace. That's what I've learned this week. I love you all and remember that God does too!

-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 18, 2014

First Baptism!!!!!!!!!!

This week was fantastic! It was kind of hectic getting everything ready for S's baptism because neither Elder Christensen or I have ever planned someone's baptism. We got everything figured out though and it was such a great service! I got to baptize and Elder Christensen confirmed her.
The font was a lot cleaner than before the last baptism which was really good. This time we just had to sweep out some of the dead bugs and dirt before we filled it. Hopefully it'll be used a lot more frequently from now on so it doesn't get as nasty as it was.
Nothing else too big happened this week and I'm having trouble remembering everything that happened, haha. We went to Plains to meet with the P's (a part-member family we're teaching) which was awesome because we can hardly ever get out of Seminole to do anything because we don't have a car. Luckily a member could drive us out there. We've been pushing for a car here because as much as I love riding bikes (sarcasm added), we can't cover our whole area because we have like four more cities we're supposed to cover that are impossible to get to on bikes and the members who do live in Seminole can't drive us a lot of the time (especially since all of those cities are at least a half hour drive).

We have a new elder in Lamesa because Elder Ross went home (I'm not sure if I told you that was his last transfer). His name is Elder Heninger and he's from Alberta, Canada. I met him Sunday and he's pretty cool. I had to teach Sunday School again this week with Elder Christensen, but at least it's not in spanish so I can actually understand what's going on. At church Sister A was talking with us and mentioned that her husband said he's ready to be baptized. We kind of freaked out inside because he's been coming to church for a long time and has had all the missionary lessons about a thousand times but for some reason has never been baptized. When we've talked to him before he said he just hasn't received an answer it's true. We're going to meet with their family tonight, so we're hoping that goes well.
I'm so lucky to be serving here while so many of these miracles are happening! I was struggling for a while wondering why I was sent to Texas of all places, but I know now that it doesn't matter where I am as long as I'm doing my best to do the Lord's work. He can work through me to touch any of His children and bring them to Him as long as I do my part. Unfortunately I can't do my part perfectly but I'm doing my best and am doing better at it than I ever have. I hope each of you can continue to improve yourselves every day and fulfill a little more of your full potential all the time. President Heap said a while ago that a mission shouldn't be the best two years of your life, but the best two years of your life so far. Every day can be better than the last.
-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 11, 2014

Baptism next week!!

This week was good but seemed really long for some reason. S came to church this week and is doing great on quitting smoking! Today will be her 9th day without a smoke. She also had her baptismal interview yesterday and it went great. I'm so excited because she's getting baptized next week! She's so solid, but the adversary is going to work hard on her so it'd be great if y'all could pray for her.
The bad part about this week is the K family didn't come to church and when we texted them to invite them again, they said their dad doesn't want to come to our church anymore. We haven't been by yet to talk to them since then. It makes me sad when people hold others back from accepting the tremendous blessing of the gospel. I can tell the whole family likes our message and is willing to at least give it a chance but their dad is holding them back. Also, there's a boy who we've been teaching and really wants to be baptized but his home life is really messed up and his parents are telling us not to talk to us because we're Mormons. She even threw away his Book of Mormon. We've actually started talking with all their children now and they're all interested, but we can't even talk to their parents because they avoid us at all costs.
There's been quite a bit of excitement with one of our members. We've started teaching his brother and his wife. He has been taught the lessons before but stopped investigating for some reason, so hopefully they'll be more open to it this time. Also, his wife went out of town to help one of her friends move to Missouri. We woke up one morning to get a text that she was in the hospital there! I think they found someone to come give her a blessing and she's ok now but then Sunday we got a text that she's now in jail there! That's been pretty intense hearing about all this stuff happening to her without being able to do anything about it.
Sunday was pretty great. I finally got to get a break from going to Spanish Sunday School because Elder Hansen decided to go with him this week. So I was excited to actually be able to understand the lesson for once, but then found out like a minute before class that I had to teach it with Elder Ross. It actually went really well. It was on the Lord's law of health from Gospel Principles. I think you learn a lot more when you're the teacher because I really learned a lot and enjoyed it a lot.
We got transfer calls Saturday night. We' re both staying in Seminole. Elder Christensen is happy about that because tomorrow's his birthday and he didn't really want to spend his whole birthday on the transfer bus. Anyway, this week should be fantastic because we get to plan S's baptism, which I'm so excited for.
One thing that's helped me this week is that all we need to do is give our best. If we give Christ all we can, He will make it enough. Just like he was able to take what little food that young boy had and make it enough for the multitude. I love you all and never forget that God does too, no matter what.

-Elder Carlson

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seeing miracles

Elder Christensen and Elder Carlson
This week was a really great one. We had 8 investigators at church!! It was awesome! The Mennonite family finally came because we taught them on Saturday and really stressed church attendance and how that's one of the fruits by which you can know whether this church is true. It was a great week for them to come too because testimony meetings always have such a strong spirit and this weeks was just amazing. Everyone talked about how they know this church is true and I think it really helped them. I can't wait to meet with them again and see what they thought about it.

Also, we were having a branch fast this week that our branch will grow and it has been so amazing. Before we even had the fast we've had three new active families move in. Then that couple I told you about were baptized. And now that family came to church and that bumped us up to 72 people at church this week which this branch has never been able to do without anyone from the stake there. We're very hopeful that we can finally hit 100 people in the branch and can finally become a ward!
S finally set a baptism date! We've been trying to get her to set a date because she knows it's true and has even been calling herself a Mormon but she didn't feel like she knew enough to be baptized. Then we go on exchanges and she sets one while I'm in Lamesa! But I'm just glad she's finally set that goal. We still have to work with her a little because she's been working on quitting smoking and she didn't come to church this week (that's kind of a long story), but she's really solid.

Exchanges were fun. I went to Lamesa, Texas with Elder Ross(he looks quite a bit like Kevin James if I haven't mentioned that before) and Elders Christensen and Hansen(our district leader) stayed in Seminole. I liked Lamesa. It's a little bigger than Seminole but there aren't many members there so they're in the Seminole Branch too. It was nice to have a car too and get a break from biking, haha. We mostly did morning finding while we were there, but we also gave L a blessing because he's been pretty sick lately. We also got to sit down with this guy we morning found and taught him the whole restoration lesson! It went really well and they're still teaching him, so hopefully he'll keep progressing and accept the gospel.

I think that's about it, but this was a fantastic week!! The Lord is definitely helping us along here and we're seeing miracles. A while ago it was unheard of to teach any Mennonites but now they came to church and hopefully felt that spirit and have the desire to come back. I love the gospel and I'm so grateful for the privilege to be here helping to hasten the Lord's work.

Love, Elder Carlson

Pioneer Day Celebration and Spiders!

This week has gone by so fast but it's been great! We finally had an investigator come to church! She's been planning on coming for a while, but things always come up. We forgot to tell her that church is three hours, haha, but she still loved it and is planning on coming again next week! We still need to help her with the Word of Wisdom a bit before she can be baptized and she doesn't feel like she knows enough about the church to be baptized anyway. She has received an answer that this is true, though, and so I think it's just a matter of time until she feels that desire to be baptized.
That tarantula in my pictures was right outside of the church (which is right down the street from our apartment)! Luckily we haven't had any in our apartment, but Elder Christensen saw a black widow on the outside of our window once. We'll definitely keep our windows and door shut because I don't want any of those in my bed.
(Brian took a traveling gnome to take pics with on his mission! You can see how big the spider was compared to it.) 

We actually did have a pioneer day celebration here, which was weird. I guess a while ago someone moved here from utah and gave the branch here that idea. Elder Christensen and I helped with it and invited our investigators but none showed up, but a couple less active families came, which was great! They made us cut the watermelon (which I found out I suck at, haha) and we got dutch oven cobbler at the end. It was really fun!
We had zone training in Hobbes on wednesday before the pioneer day thing. It was really good and I got to see some of the elders I came out with because there's a couple in my zone.

We talked about a lot of things but one of the things that stuck out to me was how we are called of God and even though what we say isn't perfect, the spirit will testify of it and make it so our investigators can understand if they have an open heart. All we need to do is bring that spirit and he'll do the rest.
Elder Carlson

Monday, July 21, 2014

Grateful to be sharing the gospel (and for AC)!

So first off I'd like to say how grateful I am for air conditioning, haha. The guy came by on Monday to fix it but then he found out they sent him the wrong part to fix it with so he said it would be a while. We weren't too happy about that so we actually slept in the church monday night, haha. It was a lot cooler but the floor was really hard. Tuesday we had interviews with Pres Heap which was awesome. I really love Pres and Sis Heap already and that's great they sent you that picture. After that we got back to our apartment and found out that our AC was fixed!! That was a good day, haha.
It seems like this week has been so long so I might not even remember everything that happened. It was a lot of riding around in the heat again without much success. I was so excited Saturday because we were expecting to have 13 investigators at church Sunday which would have been awesome! One family showed up but nobody else did. Some others really want to come, but their dad isn't really open to it yet and wouldn't let them come.
Sunday was fantastic this week, though, because we had a baptism! The elders in Lamesa come to our branch here because there isn't enough members there to have a branch. They were the ones who were teaching the couple being baptized.  They got married last week so that they could be baptized this week and it was so amazing. Elder Christensen and I had to clean out the font Saturday, though because the Lamesa elders can only leave their area for church and the church is in Seminole. It was really nasty and took some scrubbing because it hasn't been used in a while, but it looks better now. Anyway, the baptism was fantastic and Elder Christensen and I had to fill in the time while they were changing before they were confirmed and so we taught the restoration lesson. Then we got to be a part of the confirmations which was also really neat.
During church was ok, but Elder Christensen had to teach the spanish class (he's a spanish missionary if I haven't told you before) and so I had to be in there with him. It was really boring, haha. I understood the basics of the conversation but i couldn't contribute and Elder Christensen made me read a section from the book in spanish, haha. That wasn't too fun.
Well, not much else happened that's too exciting this week, but even though being a missionary is hard and hot and seems frustratingly uneffective sometimes, I love it. I'm still not that great of a teacher because we don't get too many opportunities sometimes, but i'm feeling much more confident when I do and Elder Christensen said I don't say "um" as much anymore, haha. I love you all so much and hope you all keep reading the scriptures and studying in Preach my Gospel because I know it can help everyone. I know the Lord has helped me so much out here and i love Him and His gospel so much. I'm so grateful for the opportunity to be sharing it with everyone we can find and I hope you all are doing the same.
Love, Elder Carlson

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Enduring heat and dogs

This week has been kind of long and definitely hot. Our AC stopped working last Tuesday I think and so it's been almost 90 degrees in our apartment all week. We called our apartment manager quite a few times until someone finally came to check it on Thursday, but we found out that the compressor was broken so they had to order a new one. Long story short, our AC still isn't fixed, but they told us the part would be in today and they'd fix it today. Hopefully they do because we got a fan, but that only helps if you sit directly in front of it.

Last Tuesday we got to go to Roswell to meet President and Sister Heap. They are awesome!! i'm really excited to serve under them because they really seem in tune with the spirit and you can just tell he will be a great mision president. Roswell was cool with all it's alien stuff all over, but it was about a 3-4 hour drive which wasn't too fun. I got to see Elder Arave again because he's in my zone, which was awesome. He met Elder Garey's family and said that was really neat.

Something President Heap said in Roswell about our mission: "It's not hell, but I can see it from here". HAhaha, that's definitely true and I can tell you that I can definitely feel it too. I may not like Texas yet, but I definitely love the people here. They are all so kind, but I don't like their dogs sometimes. Especially the chihuahuas. They run right up to you as you bike by barking their ugly little heads off and you're scared you'll run them over (even though I almost want to sometimes, haha)

Anyway, I really love being a missionary, but it's frustraring sometimes because I really haven't been able to teach a whole lot yet. We've had one lesson with that Mennonite family since I've been here and it seems like whenever we have an appointment with someone they always bail last second. I guess I just have to keep being patient and do my best. I know the Lord will bless me for that and it's His work, not mine so He knows how to do it best.

Monday, July 7, 2014

Week 2 in Texas

It's true what they say that once your first Sunday is past time flies by. This week has gone by so fast!

Seminole is kind of a smaller town. Our area actually encompasses a few other towns, but they are impossible to get to on bikes unless we bike through the farmland and oil fields literally all day, so I haven't been to any of those other towns. P-days we don't do much. We go shopping for food and come here to the library to email and do laundry just in our apartment because, luckily we  have a washer and dryer in our apartment. We cook a lot of our own food because Pres. Augustin made a rule that we can only eat at a members house three times a week, but we don't even get fed that often.

Yesterday we had an interesting experience. We were biking down a busier street just after leaving a members house when this big tattooed guy on a motorcycle comes up next to us and yells, "Hey, pull over up here for a minute!" My first thought is, "We're going to get beat up or mugged or something" but we pull over and so does biker dude. He turns off his bike and says, "How are you Elders doing?" That really threw us off, haha. It turns out that he just moved from Utah, is a member and was wondering where the church is. That doesn't happen to often in Texas, haha.

We didn't do much on the 4th because they called us that morning and told us we ahd to be back in our apartment at 6:00. So we ended up not having the BBQ until the 5th and we just sat around and listened to Christmas/Disney music from 6 to 10, haha. For some reason that's what Elder Christensen wanted to listen to. I really like him. He;s funny and goofs around sometimes, but knows what we need to do and is a great example. He graduated the same year as me and is from Odgen and has been out for 7 months. I'm the first person he's ever trained and since his last comp "died" (went home) and I was immediately "born" (got to the mission field), he calls me his phoenix, haha. I like that a lot better than being his greeny or trainee. Also, some members brought us some pie and icecream that night because they knew we had to be in really early because of the holiday. They're awesome.

The BBQ was great! They use a lot of peppers in Texan BBQ, but it's really good. We had these things called "armadillo eggs", which are jalapeno peppers stuffed with cream cheese, baby shrimp and bacon bits (or whatever you want to put in it with the cream cheese) and the whole thing is wrapped in bacon and BBQ'd. They were amazing! ahah! They're kind of hit and miss, so occasionally you get a really hot one and I did. It was so hot!! We actually went out to the farm where we had the BBQ quite a while before we had it and helped the man who's farm it is weed. There were so many weeds, but it was pretty fun and I didn't get as burned as my comp did which is reallly good, haha.

Sunday there was almost nobody there so church was only two hours. Right after, though we taught this family who has been coming to church, but they aren't all members. Our goal is to get the dad to be able to baptize his kids. It was the most amazing lesson I've taught so far, because we didn't even do that much teaching! the mom and dad were talking a lot and really teaching themselves. i'm pretty sure I almost cried a couple times and by the end, their dad was even tearing up.

I'm loving it out here! It's hard work and I don't exactly love Texas, but I love all of the people, even when they're straight up ignoring you or dodging your questions and telling you for the fifth time that they already have a church. I love you all and  hopefully I can figure out how to send some pictures, although most of them are just from the MTC.

Elder Carlson

Monday, June 30, 2014

First week in Texas

I'm finally a missionary, ahaha! I love it here already, but it is crazy hot. I am in a city called Seminole right on the border of New Mexico. it is a pretty small town and the wind literally never stops blowing here. And it seems to always be blowing the opposite direction we're biking. It cools us off sometimes, but some days it's a dry wind and is hotter than if the air was standing still. We used to have a car here Elder Christensen says (he's my trainer) but I think some Sisters crashed or something and so they gave them ours. So we bike everywhere, which is hard because there are some investigators we need to see but they live way too far away to bike (like an hour by car). 

Days are really long. It seems like I've been here forever already. Elder Christensen says the first week is super long, but after your first Sunday you suddenly are almost done with your mission. Unfortunately, even Elder Christensen feels like these days are long. For some reason every single person we go to see is gone when we get there. I've only been in two lessons with investigators that I can think of right now. Yeah, I think we've only had two. One was this Mennonite family of ten (Mennonites are of German decent. They speak German as a first language, then Spanish usually, then, if you're lucky, English as a third language. There are a ton of them here in Seminole so it's awesome that we get to teach some!), the other was this man named Cory. We taught him out on his front step and he had some pretty deep questions about the Plan of Salvation that came up even though we were teaching about the Restoration. There was also this family that was way solid with baptism dates and everything, but the first time I met them, they gave us back their Book of Mormons and said they wouldn't meet with us anymore.

The Branch here is only about70-80 members that come consistently. There are some really amazing recent converts I've met. We go read the BoM with one lady a lot. She is amazing, with a super strong testimony and follows every commandment and is so dedicated to the church, but can't be baptized yet because of her parole. We're trying to fix that though. We're even going to her father's house on the fourth of july for some Texan BBQ! i'm so excited, haha. 

I met this amazing lady. She got baptized not too long ago, but has had an insanely hard life. She was actually on her way to commit suicide when the missionaries found her. They asked her one question, "Have you ever heard of the Restoration?" and she got goose bumps and new she had to talk to them. They never gave up on her and literally saved her life because they showed her they loved her. She is so strong and strengthened my testimony of why i came out here so much.

I love it here, even though I have to endure the endless biking through the windy heat and nobody being home. I have already seen how much the gospel can save not only peoples souls but their lives also. I am so blessed to be out here and to be meeting these people. There are some interesting people in Texas and most of them aren't willing to listen to us because they all belong to one of the million different churches they have here. I love you all and miss you.

Love, Elder Carlson

Also, my address here is:
P.O. Box 543
Seminole,Texas 79360

I'd love to get more letters because i can read those the day I get them, but emails i only have an hour on Mondays to read and reply to. Tell all my friends to write me too. Letters would be great to get.