Saturday, December 31, 2016

Week 30: In which I count down to Christmas, Julian pops up, and Claudio flags us down.

T-6... 5... 4...

(Written Dec 19, 2016)
Salutations, my wonderful family and dear friends! Aqui estoy, y todavia estoy viviendo.¡A mí, me encanta este pueblito! Othello es lo mejor. No quiero estar en ningún otro lugar por la navidad. Si pudiera escoger un lugar en mí misíon para disfrutar la navidad, escogería directamente aqui. ¡Les amo mucho a todos! Espero que todos disfruten su navidad, en cualquier lado del mundo que estan.

Here I am, and I am still alive. I love this little town! Othello is the best. I don't want to be anywhere else for Christmas. If I could choose a place in my mission to enjoy Christmas, I would directly choose here. I love you all a lot!i hope everyone enjoys your holiday, whatever part of the world you are in.
Entonces, I guess I had probably better write in my native tongue. Man, Othello is the absolute best! It's perfect. Bishop Risenmay and his family are such good people, and they try so hard. Bishop Villarreal is just so loving. Christmas Day is so soon though! I can almost count the days on 1 hand. Thus begins the countdown...

I don't know if I told you about Julian. He's a former missionary who served an excellent mission and ended up as an assistant to the president! He is very, very bright, and knows just about everything about missionary work and is extremely knowledgeable about the gospel. However, he came home to discover his father had gone completely inactive and joined a very different church. He's had a bit of a rough time after that, but he's been doing really great! Honestly, he is completely brilliant. The point of the story, though, is he came to church this last week! It was completely out of the blue! He texted us Sunday morning asking when the church service was, and he then just showed up. Dang. We were attending the 2nd ward (English), but when we heard about him going we were about blown away to kingdom come. Things are looking very good for him.

We have also had another opportunity to teach Nikita, who I mentioned in my last email! She's doing really, really well. Apparently, the sister missionaries pushed really hard to get her baptized on a specific date before, and she's now a little more hesitant to set a date for it. However, she identifies herself with the Latter-Day Saints here, and she also has a ton of friends helping her along! We were able to teach her yesterday at a member's home, and it was really cool. She just realizes it's a really big commitment, and doesn't want to do anything half-way. She's got the right idea! Anyway, we'll be working with her and her mom a lot in the coming transfer or so.

A long time ago, I mentioned someone named Claudio (perhaps even my first email from Othello). Recently before we met him, he had become a member of a particular church that is one of the most ardently anti-Mormon groups in the city. Their members seem to like to seek us out to argue. Anyway, we were accordingly a bit nervous about Claudio. However, when we first met him, he had a bunch of concerns, and after talking for a while, he was shocked to hear how none of the clergy of the Church is paid, including us. His jaw about dropped when he heard about what we do as missionaries. He has been wanting to meet with us again for a while, but for one reason or another it has never been able to work out.

So, fun story: We had an appointment with Claudio, and we headed to his house (which is a little ways out of town). Unfortunately, he had had to take his wife to another city as part of a last-minute crisis. We left, disappointed, but understanding of his situation. We then worked in the area for a while, and decided to stop by once more to see if he had returned, but he had not. We then began walking the 30 or so minutes back to town.

However, to our great surprise, about 10-15 minutes down the road, we heard a car honk at us and pull over in front of us. It was Claudio! Apparently, he had returned home and his daughter told him we had stopped by. He was very sad we couldn't meet with him, but he didn't at all like the idea of us walking back to town, especially in the cold. Anyways, he immediately turned his car around and headed back to give us a ride back to town. He loves missionaries, and wants to help us out a ton! It's really heartening to see people with such big hearts, ready to serve people and help out some missionaries who had really only visited once before! It's kind of cool.

Anyway, that's all for now! Know that I love you all, and wish you all a wonderful season and a fantastic new year! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, and all of the above! Happy New Year, as well (Why not? It's less than 2 weeks away).

Love you,

Elder Adams

(The following refers to the "St. Nicholas boot episode" from last week.  Also a note on transfers which didn't affect Ben.)

p.s. By the way, THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!!! My feet are super toasty now! I would never have thought I would need boots, because I somehow forgot I would be in the cold for more than 20 minutes at a time. I now feel like I am a walking tank of warmth. I cannot thank you enough for sending those boots (and for letting me open them early, of course). You're lifesavers.

Oh yeah, and I think I forgot to mention that I'm still with Elder Steadman. The Zone Leaders are also the same.

(In a separate email, responding to a photo of our home table full of frosted Christmas cookies)
Oh my, that looks succulent. Yeah, I just grammered you. I also just verbed both "grammer" and "verb".

P.S. You might appreciate the fact that Elder Steadman is also a huge fan of Randall Munroe.

(Answers to questions from Editor Mom:)
How have you been celebrating the Christmas season, besides your mission party? Have you been able to do anything out of the norm because of the time of year? - Not really, no. I mean, we definitely feel it is Christmas, but aside from ward parties, it's pretty much business as usual. The main difference is the awesome advent calendars and the fact that it just... feels like Christmas, you know?

Did you put the little tree up? Do you have a bigger one or any other decorations besides your wreath? - Yes, we put up the little tree. Thanks for that, by the way! It really has added to the holiday cheer. Elder Steadman also has a little tree. We haven't found the time yet to put the ornaments on, though. We'll find some time one of these next few days!
Pictures of Ben at a service project, shared on the (private) mission Facebook page:

Friday, December 30, 2016

Week 29: In which Nikita appears out of nowhere, it gets really cold, and we have a mission Christmas party

Quick email (I only have 5 minutes to write it, so wish me luck!)

(written Dec 12, 2016)

Buenos Dias, hermosa familia!
Good morning, beautiful family!

We had a lot of awesome experiences this last week. Unfortunately, I have very little time this week (bad time management, really). In order to use my time as efficiently as possible, I will include an excerpt from my letter to President Lewis to tell a story instead of my preferred (though unfortunately less common) method of writing it new twice.
We've met so many incredible people here this week! There was a former investigator, Nikita, and her mom from a long time ago that hadn't really been progressing, and they haven't been taught for a while. However, a miracle happened! Out of nowhere, Nikita showed up to church last week. Turns out they've had some struggles recently, and they decided now would be a good time to turn again towards God. Funny, isn't it? It's often how things happen, unfortunately. However, we went by this week and taught a quick lesson, and Nikita came again yesterday. We have a return appointment tonight.
I am so happy to be here in Othello. It's really, really cold here! Goodness gracious! I don't think I have ever had to walk around long enough to really feel the cold before, but it can be quite chilling! I mean that literally, of course. Thank goodness for the new thermos I bought. I'm excited to use it. I'm sure it will see a lot of use.

We had an awesome Christmas Party this last Tuesday at a big house in Quincy (about an hour or so away). It was awesome! We ate, sang songs, listened to brief devotionals from the different zones in attendance. Finally, we finished it off by watching the movie "Ephraim's Rescue", courtesy of President Lewis. I'd seen it before, I think, but it had been some time. There are cheesy bits, but there were also some funny or inspiring moments. It was pretty cool. They gave us all fresh cider and little goody bags! I think the best part, though, was being able to see every single one of my companions in the field at the same time. It was definitely cool, just like the wind here in Othello!

I love you all, and wish you all a very merry Christmas and a happy New Year!


Elder Adams
p.s. Also, uh, 8-O thanks for the advent calendar you made. It's really kind of amazing 
(Editor Mom made & sent Ben an elaborate Advent calendar with a different necktie in each of 24 compartments.)

(The following is an excerpt from a side letter just to Ben's parents, included here because it is moderately amusing.  For background, St. Nicholas visits our family every Dec 6 and leaves treats in a shoe we leave out.  This year, St. Nick sent Ben a single boot full of treats in the mail.)

So, first of all, I wanted to thank you profoundly for the package on St. Nicklaus day! It was really awesome. I got to share German treats with the other Elders here, and even with President and Sister Lewis!

Now, I need to share some background. It has gotten much colder here than I was expecting, especially since I haven't really ever walked or biked in this kind of weather before for whole days at a time. My coat is a lifesaver, as is my hat, the earmuffs, both scarves, my gloves, and my other finger-less mittens (when it's not quite as cold). I even bought a thermos to help out! Man, it's pretty cold. I've managed to keep most of myself quite toasty, but there is one body part that has suffered a bit recently: my toes/feet. For a couple of days, I couldn't feel my toes after walking for a while they were so cold. I came up with a sort of solution, which is to wear 2 pairs of socks at one time, but that burns through my socks really fast. I even save the outer socks for the next day, but that's not my favorite situation to begin with. My feet are still kind of cold, but at least I can feel them.

The fair amount of snow (about 1/2 - 1 1/2 inches) is also not being extremely nice on my shoes. They're starting to stay soaked for longer periods, and I think they might even be staining. Thing is, it was cold this last week, but it's supposed to get even colder this next week. It's going to be getting down to the single digits (with the standard wind here).

Okay, with the background now, I'm going to cut to the chase: Basically, I didn't think I would, but I'm going to really need boots. The sooner the better. I noticed the boot that came with the St. Nicks package, and while I don't know for sure, I've wondered if one of the packages for Christmas has the matching boot. I suspect the one with nutcracker wrapping that referenced the scripture about "How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of him that publisheth peace" might have the matching boot.

I hate to ask this, but I didn't want to do anything without permission: The other missionaries thought me silly for even worrying about something so small, but I decided it was, however small, an integrity issue. May I please have special permission in this particular circumstance to open that one Christmas present a little early? Like, today? I have thought it over in my mind, and I came to the conclusion that it will get more use this way (and therefore be more worth hauling around the rest of my mission). It's a little unorthodox, I know, but I wanted to ask anyway.

(Editor Mom replied with permission to open a particular box, not the one Ben thought it would be.)

Thank you so much! I should be able to find it, and just in case, I'll have Elder Steadman open it for me :-D  Thanks again! I'm sorry I even had to ask, but it would honestly be amazing to have boots in this weather.  Love you, and Merry Christmas!

I tried on the one I have. It fits, and is extremely comfortable. I tried it once after my toes just about froze off, and they were really toasty really fast.

Elder Adams


I can only send pictures so often, but here are a couple:

Our wreath and window, looking outside:

Othello in the snow!
Here is a picture with all of my previous and current companions in the mission field; Christmas party!!!!!
Elder Steadman in front of a really nice mustang (unfortunately, it is not ours, but belongs to our investigators):

Here are a few more pictures the mission president's wife posted on Facebook.  These are from the Mission Christmas Party Ben attended.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Week 28: In which I discuss a sample day, miraculously find Luciano, and #LIGHTtheWORLD

Thus begins the Christmas season!

(Written on Dec 5, 2016)
Hola, todos! Mi tiempo es extremadamente corto hoy, porque tenia muchas cosas para hacer. Lo siento mucho!

Hello everyone! My time is extremely short today, because I had a lot of things to do. I'm so sorry!

Washington is awesome! It's getting pretty cold... but still no snow! That's just the worst. I heard you're getting some there in Utah, but I could be mistaken. Here's a sample day, taken from a relatively average day here in Othello, WA:

6:30-7:00 Wake up, go exercise with the 4 other Elders that live really close to us
7:00-8:00 Eat, prepare for the day
8:00-10:00 Personal study and Companionship study
10:00-11:00 Language study with the other 4 missionaries
11:00-12:00 Lunch
12:00-1:00 Knock doors
1:00-2:00 Service
2:00-4:00 Tract
4:00-5:00 Try to find/teach someone who didn't keep a teaching appointment
5:00-6:00 Dinner
6:00-7:00 Teach a less-active member with another member with us
7:00-8:00 Try to find/teach someone who didn't keep a teaching appointment
8:00-9:00 Try to contact a less-active member

Of course, we do sometimes actually have teaching appointments, and sometimes they completely fill up the day. We also have at least 2 backup plans for every plan. Usually, it's either trying to contact and teach people or knocking doors. Some days, we knock doors for a lot more time. However, in an effort to keep things balanced here between finding and teaching, we have a mission rule that we have to knock doors for at least 1 hour every day. That should at least give you an idea of what it's like here, but really, every single day is usually pretty different.

Excerpt from my email to President, since I wanted to share these but don't have time to write them up new (sorry again, running out of time):

Also, I wanted to share #LIGHTtheWORLD miracle! Earlier this week, we were tracting and came across a cool lady. Apparently, she had been an investigator some time before, and wasn't really interested in the message. She was friendly, though. However, we then shared #LIGHTtheWORLD with her and she got a bit excited. As it turns out, she and her husband had been trying to figure out what they wanted to do for a family advent calendar for their kids. They had thought about getting chocolate, but that wasn't exactly what they were looking for. When we shared #LIGHTtheWORLD, though, she exclaimed that it was exactly the kind of thing she had been looking for just earlier that day! She still wasn't really interested in hearing more of our message, but she really liked the church initiative. I hope and pray that that will open her up more and continue to aid in her preparation.

Finally, we met a really cool guy named Luciano. He was actually a media referral some other Elders in our district, but they couldn't find him. My companion aptly noticed that there was another road of the same name in our area, so the other Elders asked us to check by. The only catch was, we didn't have any information on this person! We just had a name and address; we didn't even know what he had requested. Well, I suppose we also knew he preferred English. That's about it.

Anyways, we finally were able to fit in some time to go to the area where he lives (it's a little ways from town, especially by bike). We had planned to teach the Restoration, seeing as we didn't really have much information. When we reached his address, we saw a guy in front working on his car. We went up and talked to him, and it was our referral! Hehehe. Bingo. As we talked with him, he opened up a bit and asked us a very profound question he had been wondering about for a long time: Why did Christ have to be crucified?

At that point, we figured it was a good idea to throw our plans out the window and share a little bit about the Atonement/Plan of Salvation. Interesting, no? The very week I begin to gain an even greater appreciation for the Atonement we end up teaching about it. He started paying more attention. Afterwards, we testified of eternal families, since he had also recently lost his mother, and offered to say a prayer. As we finished the prayer, he was in tears. The spirit was very strong. When we asked him how he felt in his heart, he just said "good." With a little further prodding, he nodded and said it was a different kind of feeling, a feeling he also gets when he thinks about how much he cares about his family. Needless to say, we are going back.

I tend to write long letters sometimes. Anyways, I wish you all an extremely wonderful Christmas season, and I wish you all the best! Lots of love sent your way from Othello!
Elder Adams

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week 27: In which I bake snickerdoodles, invite Michelle to baptism, and anticipate the mission Christmas party

Thanksgiving?  Nah, skip right to Christmas.

¡Hola, mi querido familia y mis amigos amados! Hoy quiero hablar un poco sobre como esta epoca realmente es loco. ¡Casi parece que nadie celebra el Die de Gracias, pero ya estan celebrando la Navidad! Pues, claro, casi todos celebran el Día de Gracias, pero algunas personas ya tienen arboles y todos! Nosotros tenemos un wreath muy genial. ¡Casi no puedo esperar, porque ya puedo sentir que es casi la Navidad! Tambien, casi no me da cuenta de esto, pero ya cumplí seis meses en mi mision. ¡No puede ser! ¡Todavia soy verde!

Hello, my beloved family and friends! Today, I want to talk a little bit about how this season really is crazy. It almost seems like nobody celebrates Thanksgiving, but they are celebrating Christmas! Well, sure, almost every celebrates Thanksgiving, but some people already have trees and everything! We have a really nice wreath. I almost can't wait, because I can feel that it is almost Christmas! Also, it almost didn't occur to me, but I finished six months in my mision. It can't be! I'm still green! ["green" is a term the elders use to mean they are new]

A week from tomorrow is the Mission Christmas Party! It's so exciting! Every zone in the mission is putting on a musical number, so the zone leaders asked Elder Steadman and I to spearhead that. This morning and later today, I'm arranging a medley of "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing" and "Angels We Have Heard on High". We'll be practicing it as a zone later today. It's super cool that those two songs are actually not too different from each other, as far as arranging goes! It's pretty perfect, actually. We're going to sing one of them in Spanish and the other in English, since our entire zone covers both languages.

This last week was really interesting, to say the least. Monday we had Zone Conference, Tuesday we had P-Day, Wednesday we went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, Thursday was Thanksgiving and we couldn't knock on doors, Friday was weekly planning and a meeting (normal Friday stuff, at least), Saturday we went on exchanges with the other elders, and Sunday was a normal Sunday (where we had very little time to do anything due to church). It was pretty crazy, but we still had a great time and worked in all the time we had. It was great!

On Thanksgiving, since we couldn't actually knock on doors, we baked some cookies in the morning. I made my dad's snickerdoodles, and Elder Steadman made some pumpkin and chocolate chip cookies. We then had a great Thanksgiving dinner with a member out here, and Bishop Villarreal from the Spanish Ward went. We gave out cookies to a ton of members and investigators, as many as we could find. It was a really nice day.

Saturday, even though I wasn't working in our area, we had an awesome experience. Some of the other elders in our district had a potential investigator of the church, Michelle. We visited her with a cool member here, Tyrel. As it turns out, Michelle's first language is actually Tagalog, but she speaks really good English as well. She understands English perfectly. We invited her to be baptized, and she said yes! She really wants to read and study the Book of Mormon and pray to know if it is true. At the end of the lesson, she said a really cool prayer in Tagalog with us. We're getting her a Tagalog Book of Mormon too, mainly to help out with some of the bigger words.

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving, and I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and holiday season! It's the perfect time to be examples to the world, and the church even came out with an awesome new non-denominational christian program, #LIGHTtheWORLD, to help give people ideas about how we can follow the example of Christ and serve others. It's all about bringing a little extra light to people's lives. They totally changed to be all about this new worldwide service initiative for this upcoming season. It's so exciting! I'm really pumped to be sharing this with people and participating myself. You should totally check it out! It's kind of like an easy service advent calendar for the 25 days leading up to Christmas. It even has some cool service ideas for anyone, christian, religious, or not. It's pretty awesome, and can bring us all together a little more.

Anyway, I think that's all for this week! Love you all, and I wish you the very best this holiday season!


Elder Adams

Me, Brother Clive, and his son Russel:

Elder Steadman and I rocking it out in the Family History Library:

Elder Steadman reaching behind the couch...

Goodbye to Wenatchee! (a while ago):

Elder Boren and I with a really cool returning less-active from Wenatchee, Hermana Ramos: