Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Week 83 - In which we brunch with the Zone, clean windshields, and carol for Christmas

Week #83

(written 26 Dec 2017)

Hi everyone! To preface this, Elder Shoemaker is really good at doing tons of math in his head. He's a boss.

Today is weird, mainly because our P-Day is shortened today. Because of that, we're emailing a little earlier than usual so we can squeeze everyone in.

This week was pretty ordinary. We were with Elder Ruesch for the evening on Monday and most of Tuesday. It was good.

We kept trying to visit a less-active member of the ward, an 18-year old young woman named Lorna. We ended up starting to teach her dad, Ernesto! He's really nice and Catholic.

Honestly, Christmas was fantastic. We had a Zone Brunch with chocolate chip pancakes and eggs and bacon while watching The Best Two Years. Christmas Eve, we went caroling with and then ate with the Bergesons. They are really nice.

Not much else happened this week except it snowed a bunch and we scraped/cleaned off people's cars.

Love you all! There is really not anything else that happened this week.


Elder Adams

Questions from Editors Mom & Dad

What was your favorite moment on Christmas this year? - One of my favorite moments was cleaning off people's windshields from snow and ice. We have an amazing scraper tool that is basically a giant monster-destroyer. It's seriously huge, extendable to 5-or-so feet, and has what is basically a full-fledged broom on the end. It knows no fear for ice or snow. It even has a squeegee on the same end as the broom! Anyway, in order to make everyone's Christmas bright, we cleaned off most of the cars in our nearest apartment parking lot from ice and snow, just because we could. It was enormously satisfying. Afterwards, someone even made us some delicious hot pumpkin spice apple cider. It was awesome.

Do you have any thoughts on how you will carry the Christmas spirit throughout the year?  How will you continue to light the world? - We'll honestly probably just do what we normally do. As a missionary, the Christmas Spirit is pretty close to the Normal Spirit. I guess I'll try to remember to do what, in the words of Elder Oaks in the last Worldwide Missionary Broadcast, was just to "keep on keepin' on".

Have you picked up any sports skills from Elder Shoemaker? - No.

What is the best thing about your current area? - There is a lot of support from local members, and the church is extremely well established here. It's one of the strongest Spanish branches I've seen, and could probably even be a ward. In addition, our side of Moses Lake is the awful side of town, so people are generally pretty humble. Either that, or drunk or high. Not like Toppenish, though.


Me with a hook used to pull out turkeys from a giant box at the Food Bank.

My sweet voice recorder:

This is an interesting house in our area, in a neighborhood known as "The Base" because it used to be an Air Force Base. See if you can spot what is strange about this picture of an otherwise ordinary front yard. Hint: Zoom in and really SEARCH. I'll send you another email with the answer.

Let's just say Elder Jensen really liked dinosaurs, and we found this wonderful image on a church computer in The Dalles. Enjoy!

Photos sent by members Ben visited:

If you understand Spanish, you might enjoy listening to Ben's Christmas talk, sent to us by a member of the branch.  Audio only.

Week 82: In which we talk with Luis's mom, find an island of Spanish speakers, and have our mission Christmas party!

Super short letter, sorry... :-(

written 18 Dec 2017

Hi everyone! Some incredible things happened this week, but I just don't have time to tell you about them all. I'll just have to forward a portion of my letter to President Lewis this week.

This has been a fantastic week! One of our investigators, Luis, is still a teenager. All the missionaries before have said that his father was far more interested than his mother. His mom is just really, really, Catholic. For a while, Luis was even concerned if she would want him to do much more than meet with missionaries.

However, this past Monday, we saw a miracle! We were able to get in and teach Luis because his father was there (in the back room). Though his father didn't want to join us, his mom did! His sister also quietly listened from the other room, but didn't want to actually join in. In that lesson, we talked with Luis and his mom about the Plan of Salvation, sharing some scriptures from the Book of Mormon. The woman who was not interested at all before really opened up in that lesson. Since then, she has begun really keeping appointments and taking the Book of Mormon with her to work and reading it on her breaks. This last Saturday evening, she came to the Branch Christmas party and loved it! Right now, she's going to visit her baby in the hospital in Spokane every Sunday, but she will get him back on January 18th. She said that after that, she wants to come to church! We're so excited for her and Luis.

We're also excited that we found, late Sunday night, two amazing new investigators. They live in a part of our area where previous missionaries have said there are no Spanish-speaking people. However, we felt like we needed to go there, and we found 5 houses of Spanish-speaking people! In the very last house, right before calling it a night, we found Indalecio and Maria! They are young parents who currently adhere to the Catholic faith. However, They have amazing questions and are really excited to begin looking into the Book of Mormon.

Love you all! Sorry this was so short and lame. Bye!


Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

Hi Ben! - Hi Mom!

How was the Christmas party? What was the best part? - I loved the Christmas party! It was amazing! There were at least 20 non-members there, which is incredible for this branch! We also had 2 of our investigators come. I'll definitely fill you in more on them in the big email.

Note: Haha! You meant the Mission Christmas Gathering. I was talking about the Branch Christmas party. :-) The Mission Party was epic. We watched a movie called "Freetown" about missionaries trying to escape Liberia during the Liberian Civil War. They all about died a lot of times, and it was an impressive story of faith. It was a very intense movie. I also got to see Elder Fordham again, which made me very happy.

Do mid-transfers affect you, your district, or your zone? - Yes, they do. Elder Buchanan, an Elder in our district, is going home today. He was trained by one of my favorite people ever, Elder Call (one of my first Zone Leaders, who I lived with my entire time in Wenatchee). His companion, Elder Reusch, is going to do one of three things: stay, leave, or receive a new companion. If he stays, he will be with us in a triple companionship (or "tri-pan"). We will all almost certainly temporarily move to their apartment. If he leaves, we will probably just temporarily take over their area. We would probably move to their apartment in that case as well. If he receives a new companion, everything will stay more-or-less the same.

Do you have any exciting plans this week? - Not really, except having Christmas Eve and teaching some BOMB-SAUCE AWESOME people! I'm super excited for that!

Are you doing any caroling in your district or zone? What are you singing? - We're probably caroling, but it's probably just going to be from the hymnbooks.

Are you staying warm? - Yep!

Have you had interviews with President Lewis? If so, tell us about them! - Yes, I had interviews! They were great! I talked mostly about our Christmas traditions with Sister Lewis, and got my temple recommend renewed with President Lewis. I also asked how to be an even more effective missionary, and got some great advice. I'll save it for later, though (for time's sake).

Sister Lewis advised us to be talking to you about our Christmas call. Have you figured out where you will be and when you will call on Christmas Eve to discuss the details yet? I hope we'll be able to Skype reliably. How long is the call supposed to be? - I know where we will be. We will be with the Luna family (Sister Luna is actually from Massachusetts). I don't know when I'll call on Christmas Eve. We can call right after church, which will be around 12:30-1:00 our time. That's about 3:30-4:00 pm your time, if I'm not mistaken.

What did you talk about in your District meeting this last week? - We didn't have one this last week (because of the Christmas Party.

What are you doing to spread Christmas cheer? How are you implementing the Light the World program? - We're trying to share #LIGHTtheWORLD with everyone we can! Admittedly, we're not the best at sharing it all the time because of everything else to talk about.

I love hearing about your thoughts and experiences, so share anything that comes to mind, please. And send pictures! :-) - I'll try to! Love you!

Elder Adams

Pictures from Sis. Lewis

Sis. Lewis asked each missionary to describe their family's Christmas traditions, and to tell what they plan to do this year as a missionary.  Ben wrote:

Elder Adams:  We take Christmas Seriously.  We have lots of Advent calendars–about 10 and lots of decorations inside.  We get a live tree, heavily decorated.  We make lots of German treats and celebrate the 4 Sundays before Christmas with treats and hot chocolate.  We also celebrate St Nicolaus Day on Dec 6th, putting our shoes out and getting stuff to use during the Christmas season (chocolate, ornaments).  In the week before Christmas we carol to about 50 people–family and friends.  Christmas Eve we light candles on our Christmas tree, turn out the lights and sing carols with hot Cocoa and cookies.  We have a nice dinner and a live Nativity.  (My parents both lived in Germany–mission and military).  This year I’m making a list, not of who is naughty or nice, but of Christ’s characteristics and attributes.

Sis Lewis texted the following picture directly to Tammy:


Our wonderful district after the Branch Christmas Party! Left to Right: Elder Reusch, Elder Buchanan (who just left for the Mission Home), Me, Elder Shoemaker, Hermana Birchell (a new missionary), and her trainer, Hermana Burrup. Fun fact: Hermana Burrup is from Richland, WA. That's in Tri Cities, and is also where the mission's main temple is. She's on her mission about 1-2 hours away from her house.

 ELDER FORDHAM!!!! (He's going home in a few weeks)

(Right to left) Elder Hamblin, Elder Shoemaker, and I are getting our packages after the Christmas Gathering

 This is the creepiest family history picture I've ever seen... and it's in the Stake Center.

Pictures from the Mission Christmas Party

Bonus Videos

Try and spot Ben:

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Week 81: In which we have exchanges, eat chocolate, and do not have snow

Another Week Passes...

written 11 Dec 2017

Hello, everyone!
This has been a fantastic, wonderful, week! This past Friday and Saturday, we had exchanges with Elders Buchanan and Reusch. I went with Elder Buchanan to his area. We had a good evening on Friday (we exchanged at 6 pm on Friday and 4:30 on Saturday, after and before our dinners together). We tracted some, tried by some people, and went to a Book of Mormon Class. The highlight, though, was when we visited a family of members with whom they have been working. We followed up on #LIGHTtheWORLD, shared the "Faith" video from the Prince of Peace, and asked for referrals. We asked for referrals a couple of times, actually, and were able to get one for our own area!

Receiving that referral was a blessing we desperately needed. We contacted the referral last night, but he was drunk. Apparently, he began drinking after meeting with the missionaries, and told us that after trying to change his life around, he had been heavily attacked by the adversary. We will be returning later this week to talk with him again. We feel now may be a good time to try again. He has some doubts, and told us he was looking to join a "Christian" (probably evangelical) church rather than ours, but is open to listening again. We pray his heart will be softened when we return.

Jessica, by far our most promising investigator, asked us for a break from meeting. However, a miracle happened! We went by to talk with her. Her husband is not interested in God at all, and while he's a good man, doesn't always see eye-to-eye with her. Religion is just the tip of the iceberg. She has also been overwhelmed lately. However, we talked with her, and she was very glad to see us! She is fine with us coming by, but she wants a break from longer teaching visits. For now, we will focus on follow-up visits to chip away at her doubts and concerns.
Not much else happened the rest of the week. We tried to visit Luis, but his family was having some sort of argument and didn't open the door. He also wasn't there at the time. Oh well.
We have some great plans for this upcoming week, though! We're going to really focus on finding people and visiting/working with less-active members of the church to help their friends come to the Gospel. We've made a huge list of people to go by, and we're excited to see how it turns out!
Love you all!
Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

Hello my Beloved Son! - Hello my Beloved Mother!

How was St. Nicholas Day!? - Fantastic, as always! I've definitely eaten too much chocolate, though.

Do you have your mini tree up and decorated? - We have it up, but no ornaments, sadly. I'm honestly not sure where they went. I had them in a small, and some of the people in our apartment have an unfortunate habit of throwing away anything that they don't recognize :-D I hope they weren't thrown out, but at the very least, someone moved them and I have no idea where they went. :- (

Have you found any new people to talk to? - We've found some people to talk to, yes! There aren't a lot of people who we're actively working with, though. We've lost a lot of people in recent weeks, and are down to about 2-3 people. Some of them don't really want us to come by for actual teaching visits, though. However, we have some exciting new plans and some great new prospects this upcoming week, so stay tuned for some amazing miracles! This last week was largely spent laying a groundwork for the upcoming week.

How much snow do you have? - We have no snow at all. None. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada. It's kind of sad, but it's okay! It will come! We should just buy some heavy-duty snow shovels to show our faith, right?

What have you learned about your companion? - He's very smart. He likes sports (a lot), strategy games, and video games (also a lot). He likes studying the Gospel a lot, and while he is happy on his mission, he doesn't really feel like he's very good at talking to people. He tends to approach things from a very intellectual, non-emotional, sort of way. He's almost like Spock that way. He is passionate about being very large and muscular. He is a bit like I might imagine Porter Rockwell to be, minus being a mountain man. He is also very concerned with having thicker hair. He's a beast at sports, and very good at all of them. He's large, strong, and can be intimidating if he wants to be. He loves Reese's. People we talk to who are very social (especially if they are drunk) think he's distant and doesn't have a sense of humor. That's not true at all, though. He is one of the funniest people ever, his sense of humor is just extremely dry. He's also very, very, quiet. He approaches things from an extremely intellectual level with everyone. He's absolutely fantastic!

Have you found things to laugh about with your companion and your district? - There's not a lot of laughing out-loud, honestly, but there are plenty of very funny things. I can't remember anything specific, though, sorry.

Tell us about your district meetings--what spiritual thoughts have you shared? - We talked about how to use #LIGHTtheWORLD and serve those around us as Christ would serve. We've only had the one district meeting, but it seemed to go rather well! I'll be sure to keep you very updated.

What do you like best about Moses Lake? - Moses Lake has great missionaries here, some fantastic local members, and the people tend to be more humble. At least, that's the way it is in our area.

Ich liebe dich--looking forward to Skyping soon!!!! Do you know when and where you'll be able to Skype? - I don't know yet, no, but we will be finding out soon-ish. I'll make sure to keep you updated, and we'll still get a 5 minute call on Christmas Eve to coordinate the finer details.


 This is a boring picture of the entrance to where our apartment is:

 This is Elder Shoemaker entering our apartment. The stairway is the same as found in the above picture:

Honestly, I don't have any more pictures for you this week. However, you will find some very good moments captured in the voice recordings I have begun making in earnest.

Members sent us the following sequence of recordings of Ben singing: 

Week 80: In which we light the world with cookies, I conduct my first district meeting, and I experience the miracle of the glove

#LIGHTing the WORLD in Moses Lake!

written Dec 4, 2017

Good wonderful merry happy Christmas season, everyone! It's gonna' be a good 'un. First of all, we're all super happy that the Church decided to do #LIGHTtheWORLD again this year, since it was such a great idea last year. I'll briefly recount what happened this last, eventful, week:

Mon: We had P-day and played sports. It was chill. Not much happened after that, except we found a nice lady named Maria who is the mom of a young man named Edgar. You'll hear more about him later. We also found a young woman named Selena. She's nice, and interested, but seems to be going through a "so what? I don't care." phase. We went by during the week, and will be going by again tonight to try to teach the rest of her family.

Tue: We went by Maria Ramirez, who left a nice note telling us that she'd like to reschedule. That's kind of unusual, and made us hopeful. We also did service, more missionary work. We then had a lesson with Jay. He's interested, but told us following God, while important to him, is not quite his 1st priority right now. We've since referred him to the YSA Elders (Zone Leaders here).

Wed: We went by Selena and talked a little bit, setting up the lesson for today. We finished off with a #LIGHTtheWORLD activity with the youth.

Thu: We had my very first District Meeting! I panicked a little that morning with some final prep, but it went well. Nothing else happened much.

Fri: We planned. Nothing much interesting happened besides that. I mean, we worked, but nothing really came of it.

Sat: We caroled at the Moses Lake community nativity in the morning, doing service. We then went by Jay that evening, but he wasn't there. He's now in the territory of YSA. We did have a bomb lesson with Edgar, though! He got a lot more interested as the conversation went along. I lost one of my gloves, which made me sad.

Sun: I prayed to find my glove, and I miraculously found it! It was on the ground a little ways away from Edgar's apartment. We then had church, gave people a blessing, studied, had dinner, and knocked some doors. We found an amazing young couple. She's a member, he's not. She wants to be able to go to the temple with her family. She's English, so we gave her to the Elders who live with us.

Overall, a great week! Love you all, Merry Christmas, and don't forget to #LIGHTtheWORLD at


Elder Adams

Questions from Editor Mom

How's missionary life in The Prophet's Puddle? - It is fantastic! We're trying to work hard and do everything we can to find new, amazing people. All of the missionaries are pretty close together, and so, compared to any of the other zones, it's comparatively pretty social. We're close enough we can sometimes have zone exercise 1-2 times a week. We also live with 2 English missionaries that cover about our same area (we cover their area and also a little bit more, but we rarely, if ever, go to the part that is not in their area.) 

Have you ever visited the fitness center at your apartment complex? Is it worthwhile? - We have not gone there, no. I'm pretty sure we're not supposed to go to gyms to exercise. Maybe we could use the fitness center, I'm not sure. Either way, we have enough equipment in our apartment that our exercises are usually decent anyway. I've even begun losing weight again! (I have no idea why; in Toppenish I exercised really well and also ate the healthiest... here I lost weight over Thanksgiving. I have now determined it's simply the hand of God.)

Any fun plans for P-Days this month? - Not really, no. Next week, I might play Risk with Elder Shoemaker; he's been wanting to, but I have been fasting from anything like that for the last 40 days. That ends tomorrow, though, so maybe next week. Normally, people here just play sports. It's fun enough, just doesn't particularly catch my interest.

What are you most looking forward to in the next few weeks? - Well, I'm looking forward to Christmas! I'm also really excited to keep doing #LIGHTtheWORLD again this year; it is such a great concept! I hope all of you are doing it over there in the wonderful land of Massachusetts.

Have you found a cello in Moses Lake yet? - Working on it, but not yet. I've run into a music teacher in our branch, though, so that might lead somewhere!

Tell us about the interesting people you are meeting! - I'll work on it! I'll save it for later, though, so I have time.

I love you to the moon and back! - I love you to the moon, landing on the moon in a lander, performing tests and planting a flag, completing a successful orbital rendezvous, and returning to successfully slow down in the atmosphere and deploy the parachute to land in the ocean to cheers everywhere! In other words, I love you to the moon and back, too! :-)

Elder Adams


 Elder Shoemaker and I

Elder Reusch, in our district

 Elder Buchanan, also in our district. He goes home in 2 weeks, mid-transfer, and is Elder Reusch's companion.

Our district!

This is an apartment complex in our area, really late at night. We're about to go home when I take this picture:

Elder Hamblin, front, and Elder Larkin, rear. Elder Larkin just arrived, and is being trained by Elder Hamblin. They live with us. This is also our kitchen.

A youth activity on Wednesday, November 29th about #LIGHTtheWORLD where they made cookies to give to people who might need a little holiday cheer. It was great!

Same activity, where some of our missionaries are setting up for it.

The cookie wrapping table. We were in charge of the photo booth.