Saturday, August 30, 2014

We LOVE your missionary!

This is an email and picture from Elder Spjute's mission president.  Also - his p-days are now on Mondays, except this week it will be on Tuesday because of Labor Day.
Dear Parents,
We are pleased to let you know that your missionary has arrived safely in the Texas Houston South Mission, the best mission in the world!!  They are happy and absolutely wonderful. President Ashton and I are thrilled to welcome them. We had a terrific afternoon and evening together on Tuesday. We enjoyed getting to know each of them.  Your missionaries received some training and then had the opportunity to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with people on the streets of Houston.  After, we enjoyed dinner together as well as a beautiful testimony meeting. Wednesday they received some more training, met their trainers as well as many other missionaries, and then left to their areas to meet and teach the wonderful people of Houston.  They come with such courage and strength.   You should be very proud of them.

I have attached a photo from our gathering in the mission home. As you can see, there are many smiles.  We have seven children.  Our youngest is 2 and our oldest is 15. They are so excited to be a part of your missionary's life! 

Again, thank you for the opportunity you have given us to serve with these fine missionaries. We love them already and promise to take good care of them. May you find great joy and blessings as you continue to support them in bringing souls to Christ through His restored gospel. This is His work and these missionaries are on His errand. More joy awaits them than they have ever experienced!
With love,
President and Sister Ashton, Spencer, Braeden, Jacob, Elisabeth Kate, Ethan, Daniel, and Wesley

Rex is in the very back, right of center with a bright blue tie.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

5 Days Left!

    Yeah, once again like before I left, time is broken and has begun to fly! I'm leaving here at 7 in the morning on Tuesday. I'm so excited to serve the people and missionaries in Houston! I'll be the last one to leave from my district. Elder Black leaves Mondaymorning, then the Chileans Monday night, then Elders Alldredge and Burton Tuesday morning a few hours before me. I'm so stoked, but not looking forward to the goodbyes. 
     My Spanish is getting so good! Yesterday, tonight, and Saturday night, me and Elders Jensen, Jensen, Mace, Alldredge, and Burton get to go to a Latino district to hear their discussions and classes. Yesterday was super cool! I understood probably 70% of it. Not too shabby! I can feel the Gift of Tongues at work little by little!
     We taught our 'investigators' for the last times this week. Our lessons were getting boring because they were practically perfect haha. They never had problems in their lives, and they always accepted our message, and always did their homework. But nonetheless, it was always a good experience. 
     Cool experience: on a solo Español day last week, we saw a moth outside our casa. I put my hand up by it, it was easily bigger than my hand! It was practically bat sized. When Elder Sharp (in my casa, also going to my mission) poked it with a mop, it started flying and he screamed like a girl.
     Everyone in their room (the Houston room) all try to scare each other. Just jump out pranks. And they ALL have the girliest screams! I go to their room a lot at night to chat. They are Elders Sharp and Beveridge (like the drink) and Fails and Balls. I'm stoked to go into the field with them!
     There was a lot of cool meetings on Sunday. First things first, hearing the newbies give talks in Sacrament meeting is just a guilty pleasure. I always get a giggle out of it. We watched an MTC devotional of Elder Holland that was an amazing call to action! I feel so inadequate for the field! But I know I'm not here to preach for myself; it's His message I'm preaching. If I put in enough effort to prepare, I will receive his Spirit sufficiently (which I've noticed in the past, and love)! After dinner, we watched a Joseph Smith video that made me cry. We had a very spiritual district meeting afterwards. I love this district. They are my family away from family!
     So the thunder here is like nothing I've ever heard before! It rattles clothing and is simply spectacular! I love so much about this place! 
     Hermana Vawdrey and I are performing Come Thou Fount on Sunday for a devotional, which should be spectacular if my voice holds out. I've picked up a bit of a sore throat. Fortunately on that front, I have a new favorite candy. It's called Halls cough drops. They are 3.5 pesos at the tienda, and there are 4 flavors. I love them all. Weird? Maybe. But do I love them? Yes I do.
     I have some advice to give for aspiring missionaries and others. First off, develop a habit of writing in an agenda. The more you plan out the more you'll get done. I was terrible at this before, and am developing slowly. But I can see the benefit! Secondly, to anyone who wants to find out precisely and accurately what our church is about, get a copy of the (short) book Our Search for Happiness by M. Russell Ballard. I took a week off from Jesus the Christ to read it, and loved every page of it. It is incredibly spiritual. It's difficult to describe, but it's amazing!
     So funniest thing: in a different casa, Elders Mace and Jensen and a few others were doing a core workout at night time. Elder Mace is a weird and hilarious person. He brought 2 aprons from home, which he and Elder Jensen were wearing for this workout, because random and weird and funny. So they hear a knock on the door, and Elder Jensen thinks it's an Elder coming home late or something, so in this girlish voice walks up to the door and says "who is it?" When he opens the door, it is our CCM president, President Pratt. Yeah, Jensen's in an apron. Then Elder Mace comes running in, "so who is it?" in a orange flame apron. Yes, the president is befuddled. They went through the awkward explanation of it all, but it was absolutely hillarious!
     To make up for this, we went caroling to his house last night :) We sang Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy in Spanish to him and his wife. He teared up and loved it! He made us do it again so he could sing with us. It was really cool. 
     Well, that's about all the time I'm gonna squeeze out of this email session! As I depart, I want to let everyone know that I have a firm testimony that this gospel is true! I live it, I love it! With all my heart. And I love everyone reading this! Lo comparto en el nombre de Jesucristo, amén.

-Elder Spjute

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Time Is Broken

 I have only 12 days left in the beautiful Mexico CCM! I can already tell it will be ridiculously hard saying goodbye to my district. I love them so much. My teacher, Padre Muñoz will be hard to say goodbye to as well. He just got engaged! We mess around and make fun of him a lot for it. All in good spirits though. 
     A few times, a tie Mafia will come by our room at night. We trade a bunch then! I've probably traded 10 or so :) I'm doing really well! 
     Hermana Vawdrey and I auditioned with Come Thou Fount, which went amazingly! They said we'll perform on the Tuesday a week or so before I leave. But we also have to have Spanish lyrics, which is a bit of a bummer. But still really cool! She's a cool girl, and I'm glad she agreed to do that with me :) 
     On Saturday, we had TRC (I don't remember the acronym). Anyway, all the companionships in the district teach a new 'investigator' for one time. Well me and Elder Black actually had a REAL nonmember/investigator! We committed him to prayer and to read the Book of Mormon! The Spirit was intensely strong!
     The next day, I gave a 5 minute talk in Spanish in Sacrament Meeting on Enduring to the End. It was a really cool experience. 
     There is a bug going around here. It is a flippin' plague! There are a few people in our casa that we quarantine away. Elder Black was worried he had something coming on. Fortunately, I thing Mom's doterra oils have helped me a lot. Also, 8 hours of sleep a night!
     I took the opportunity to fast again this week because my mind wasn't where I wanted it to be. I've never seen such rapid results; it was a wonderful thing! I love this gospel! 
On Monday, Elder Black convinced himself that he was getting sick (if you can't tell, there is some contention between us...), and he turned sour! His frustrations gave him a headache, and man, he was a grump! If this were an occasional thing, it wouldn't be a big deal, but he is frequently way off with his attitude. So while our district was having fun in the class room, we were out in the hall studying so he could be away from the noise. I said a silent prayer that something would happen to help. Sure enough, the Lord pulled through!
     We took a baño run, and on our way back, he was grumbling about something that made him angry, and I exploded. Probably a bit too forcefully, but man I snapped and told him that it was time for something to change. He told me to spill everything (which surprised me), so I said this was too frequent, and things needed to change. He acknowledged everything I said, and responded in a way i wasn't expecting.
     This kid is a fighter. He had a rough past with not-so-pleasant memories. He told me he was in pain with our district. He feels inadequate around such righteous people and keeps that bottled up. I told him that yes, the Lord could help. The Lord is the first companion! But I told him that he also needed to be there for me, the second comp. I told him I'd help him as much as I could and that it was my job to be there for him. He had tears streaming down his cheeks, and I knew that the message had made it across. As I hugged him, I gained a new understanding for him, and he for me. I still wish he were more pleasant, especially in the mornings... But I have a better feel for what is going on in his head. I continue to pray for patience. 
     Elder Montoya will be returning sooner than the 6 months before told. The dentists should be up and running with quicker procedures for him. He messaged Padre Muñoz' phone with pictures of his new teeth. He's also going to Chile as planned :) Cool stuff. 
     That's about it for this week! I know this gospel is true, and see it's effect more in my life every day! I love you all!

-Elder Spjute

Thursday, August 7, 2014

New Week!

    And, lots to tell! I'm just gonna jump in on Elder Montoya and his situation. Two days after the accident, he came in to class patched up on the nose, with two teeth out, but in good spirits. The plan was, he'd stay for training for the full 6 weeks, then go back to America for 1 month for dental care, then get assigned to the field somewhere.Word came in from Salt Lake, and they made an executive order against that on Monday. He was to be sent home immediately, and stay home for 6 months, then re-submit his papers. So he went to the airport at 2 am on Wednesday, and is now home. That was a very tough parting. We sang Nearer My God to Thee (our districts theme song) for our last night. Wow, tears. 
     So for other things from the week: Hermana Vawdrey (a sweedish name, also in my district) is a piano major, and we were all just singing for the heck of it last p-day. She pulled out this really cool version of Come Thou Fount, which she asked me to sing along to. An old couple (probably branch president and wife) heard us, and made us sign up for a devotional audition. We'll do that tomorrow. Kinda cool; the man's wife buttered me up like nobody's business haha. Pretty sweet.
     Elder Black and my lessons are going so well with our investigators! Spanish is so dang cool! There's so much more to it, than I gave it credit! Kinda humbling, but good for me! Kinda struggling with a companion who doesn't want to be here. He is in a foul mood a lot, and it's tough; nonetheless, because the Lord is my strength, I'll press on!
     I'm now about 200 pages into Jesus The Christ, and I flippin' love this book. It's so inspired, and just amazing :) Some interesting things in the zone: There's only 3 districts here. My DL got moved up to ZL with his companion ( Abuelo [grandpa] Jensen and Abuelo Mace) and Elder Alldrege from my room got moved up to new DL (Padre Alldredge). The Hermanas are now zone sister leaders or whatever it's called haha. So big things haha.
     I've gotten to know the other guys across the hall who are going to Houston pretty well. They're all really cool guys. I'm so excited for the field. 
     Mail here is extremely slow, but if anyone wants to use, you can send me quick physical mail like that. Just a thought ;) 
     That's about all I got for this week. Know that I love you all, and the church is true. Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world, and this church is the kingdom of God on earth to all who will accept it! God speed!

-Elder Spjute