Hot Chocolate in the Rain?

Monday, December 29, 2014
Hanukkah Menorah

Shalom Aleichem, Mom and Dad/Dad and Mom,

If Hanukkah starts on December 7th next year, then I feel more so inclined to celebrate Hanukkah. I am excited. (December 7th is his birthday.) 

I honestly did not eat the Ho's Ho's.
 (A family tradition is for Santa to put Hostess Ho Ho's in Christmas stockings. This year some of them had a foul chemical taste. So we warned our son and his companion about this. Needless to say it is a tradition that has ended.) My companion, on the other hand, ate them, even if they did smell. I could smell it and I was not up to eating them. The unfortunate thought of it is even if they did not smell, they might still have that chemical in them. And who knows what is that chemical. So, my companion did not care whether or not it had it. He ate all of them. I even gave him mine. (I hate to waste and seeing that he was willing....)

I, unfortunately, understand what you mean by the immaturity of the missionaries. ( Many missionaries are still teens when they go out. Having a little fun is fine. Some pranks maybe. But we have been tired of goofy shots of missionaries.) Believe me, I understand. Some are not bad, but others are bad. I have been the victim of immaturity once or so, but I understand to act my age and when something I do is enough. Humor for me is a very hard thing to tackle. I do not understand humor and it takes very fine humor to make me laugh. Yet, for whatever reason, some people call me funny. I do not understand. (And you are not the only one that despises the text speak of which insults the finer language of English, or what used to be the finer language of English. This was a reference to missionaries writing home as if they were texting friends with their text shorthand. Most don't but some do.)

Thanks for the tip about children. I will use them for the single mother investigator's child who wants to be baptized. 

You will not believe what I discovered this past weekend. On Saturday, after accomplishing the task of our progress record, I decided to do my usual task of inputting information on Ancestry. I have been looking at all the hints I have for each person, which is a bear of a task. But, through this task I discovered something really, really cool. Let me take you back into our history. As you know, widowed Ellen Jackson Carter, mother of John Carter, after traveling across the plains, had married William Stewart Seely. Now, I had discovered this through William Stewart Seely's mother, Mehittabil Bennett, of whom I was inputting information. William's brother, Justus Wellington Seely, had a son, whose name was Orange Seely. If you go down his descendants, you will reach (and it took a while to figure this out) Elder Dallin H. Oaks. Now, mind you, I am not claiming we are related at all, but I am just noting this fact of interest. (I discovered this through a PDF file that is a document on Mehittabil Bennet, Justus Wellington Seely, and Orange Seely.) (Elder Dallin H. Oaks is an apostle in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Apostles direct the affairs of the church as a quorum, under the direction of the First Presidency and by assignment. Elder Oaks has represented the church in defending religious liberty including the controversial birth control under "Obamacare." He is a former Supreme Court Justice in Utah.) 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks (center) (C) Intellectual Reserve 2013

By now, you are probably wondering about my week. Monday, we had the usual P-day activities. I happily cleaned the bathroom; it needed it really bad. We saw our investigator of whom we are still unsure of what he is understanding. We taught him twice this week and he still has made no indications of what he understands. I remember we even asked a question about the Restoration and he stared at us with a smile. It is hard to say what will happen. We have plans on teaching him, but what to do is the hard question. I cannot say what he is interested in, because his walls are blank and empty. He has cassette tapes, but I cannot tell you what the music is. But, perhaps, it will be something that can draw conversation.

Tuesday, we had the all-day mission conference. There was many, many musical numbers and many good talks (or training sessions). One that has really stuck with me is one about hope. When we say, "I hope..." it conveys uncertainty; when we want to say we hope for something, we should rather say, "I know...." This conveys more faith and hope. It shows that we hope as a surety. I tried it out and I believe it gives more power to willpower. There was a member-- a recent convert in the lower county of the area-- who had a fever of 100 degrees. On Saturday, he text us that and told us he might not be coming to church. In reply, I almost put "I hope," but catching myself, I put, "I know you will obtain better health." Sunday, he came to church with normal temperature (may be a little sick, but he had better health).

I was able to see some old companions that have not gone home. I met the sisters who are in White Oak and obtained information on the area. After this conference, we went home. Our appointment with our "on date" person cancelled; we have not been able to see him this week and his baptism has been pushed back. Also, on Tuesday, the festivities of opening presents started. The members upstairs' son and his wife were going to Arizona for Christmas. Thus, the opening of presents began.

Wednesday, the heavens opened their floodgates and it rained hard. As much as I love rain, the rain threatened our plans for the day. We had planned, with the sisters, to do the hot chocolate stand that day. The rain could easily destroy and wipe away our plans. I prayed and felt that we were still able to do the hot chocolate. My companion, on the other hand, still had some doubt. We needed to pray. We set a time when we would make a final decision. 

In the meanwhile, we boiled water and filled up the cooler. We finally prayed as a companionship about the rain. I continually prayed. By the time we had to make a decision, it was still raining. Going on faith at this point, I said that the hot chocolate stand will go on. As it neared about noon, the rain stopped. It halted. It was more of a sign for us that God had our back and that the hot chocolate stand must go on. 

It would later rain while we did the stand. It was a successful event, full of good memories. In the beginning, I held the sign to allow people to know what we were offering and at no cost. It was during this time, I earned my dollar, because somebody felt bad for me. I later held an umbrella over the hot chocolate as it rained. I smiled and waved until my left hand, which was holding the umbrella, cramped up. That was extremely painful. I received a lot of honks, waves, crazy people, and smiles from people. It was successful in passing out the He is the Gift cards. Who knows what will come from it.

Later that night, we had dinner with the choir director of the ward. I had salmon, crab dip, and other food. My stomach was hurting a bit afterwards. There was more opening of presents. That was when I received the new suit, which is pinstripe (and I do not mind). It fits me quite well, just needs to be tailored a tad. I really like it.

Thursday, I got up at midnight. I put up our stockings and organized our presents. Then after a while, I went to bed and some time after, I fell asleep. In the morning, we opened our presents and spent time in the morning with the members upstairs. We went over to the elders' quorum president where I Skyped you. It was good to see you, Bria, and Carly. It was good to hear from my sister, Bria. And did I look surprised when Joy unveiled her big news?( She announced she was pregnant with her third.)

From there, we went to the members' upstairs family gathering. There was a "Chinese Auction" and it was a lot of fun. The festivities continued at their home, later that night.

Friday became a point of contrast. I usually recover from lack of sleep, or my own waking up, or some kind of disturbance of sleep. Last year, I felt great even after waking up at midnight on Christmas. On Friday morning, I woke up more exhausted than I have ever been before. Friday became the pinnacle of exhaustion. I did my usual routine, but during studies, I needed rest. That morning, we had to help a member floor the bathroom of our WWE fanatic's trailer for his parents. At this point, I became extremely grateful for my herniated disc and my now inability due to restriction to lift heavy objects. If the floor of their trailer and their trailer in itself was any indication that something was wrong, we rightly picked up on that hint. The toilet and the floor was bad. Now, I can only imagine, because I even seen a bad toilet myself arriving in a new area. Seeing as I was not able to do much, I stood outside, guarding the member's tools, as he so directed me to do. 

After flooring the bathroom, the member received a call from his father, who needed help dragging a deer out of the woods. So, off we went to his father and into the woods. We took a four wheeler and found his father and the dead deer. It was a rather solemn moment, if solemn is the right word. My companion and the member dragged the deer from its spot, up a hill, and to the four wheeler. Then, we headed back to the road, wherein the father took over. The deer was skinny and the hooves were falling off. The deer was diseased and its quickened death turned to be a mercy. From there, we, after cleaning ourselves, ate at a new Mexican restaurant to try it out. I have to say that I was not too impressed with the place and the Mexican rap that was blaring did not help.

That night, the senior couple had a few more candidates for baptism that needed to be interviewed by my companion. It was a tricky situation, but I did agree with my companion's decision. I felt the sustaining witness of the Spirit. Two of the three passed. This caused an upset for all three, wherein they were not baptized. This we learned on Saturday.

Saturday, we saw our single mother investigator after we cleaned our apartment and completed our progress record. We talked of revelation and told her that she needs to pray to know if the Book of Mormon is true and if Joseph Smith is a prophet of God. It went well and it got what we needed to say out. She asked questions and we answered. Meanwhile, her two kids were wrestling each other and going crazy. The single mom told us to ignore them; she had told them where they needed to be. One of the kids ended up crying, because she got hurt. The single mom explained to them what they did wrong, what they should have been doing, and now, we are owed apology letters. 

Sunday, we had our meetings in the morning, we had church, and we watched an Eagle Scout of Honor. We helped the wife of the members upstairs finish decorating for Christmas and we had the Christmas Eve dinner that night. Yes, Christmas was on schedule, but everything else was a bit behind.

Thank you for the pajamas and items of fun. It was a nice, simple Christmas.

Alles wohl!


Elder S. Todd

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