Sunday, September 29, 2013

Week 19, September 23, 2013


Jack! Sounds like you had a great game! Five goals!? That is a solid performance. We played soccer today. Not quite sure how many I scored today but it was up there. I definitely got a hat trick... What was the term for four goals? I had three goals from far out today. Two were right footed and one was lefty! It was  pretty sweet. I was really working on some ball control today and kept trying to pull off some fancy footwork. I also had a few quick touches for some assists. Those are fun to set up too. haha It was fun. Wore my Spain jersey again. So we were both red. haha Mom sent me a picture of you playing. It was pretty sweet! That’s good you are in a tennis class! If you work really hard and keep playing then when I get back... you might win a couple points. hahaha Just playing, everyone knows you’re a pro.

So… the race was not this week. haha But its this coming week. So this Saturday. haha We are stoked! It’s will be quite the sight to see all of these missionaries running the 5k in shirts and ties with out vibrantly colored running shoes. I’m looking forward to it. Some people...not so much... haha

I have heard a lot about the BYU game. My companion keeps bringing it up in our appointments. I finally turned to him and said "Elder, its our job to uplift the members. It’s not to keep rubbing salt in their wounds." haha Everyone wasn’t super happy about it.
Priorities... I did do some missionary work this week. I don’t just live for indoor soccer and tennis with Brother Ferguson in the mornings. haha but seriously. We had a great week this week. We taught a sister twice this week. Both times we were on exchanges. First, I was there with another elder. This was Tuesday. Her son was sick, and we were super excited because it provided a perfect opportunity to teach about the priesthood. So we went over and talked with them. She had a few clarifying questions about our last lesson on the word of wisdom. We answered them and she said that it made sense. She has really accepted that teaching based upon pure logical information. Again she bore testimony to us that nothing good will ever come from a night of drinking or any kind of drugs. It’s a true story. Then we explained the priesthood and offered to give her son a blessing. Her son was sick with something called hand foot mouth disease and was in the hospital all of Monday night. He was home from school all week and he wasn’t feeling too great. We gave him a blessing and he is now feeling much better. So, the next visit I was not there. They taught the law of chastity and from what I’ve heard, it went really well. But here we go...the plot thickens. Saturday morning before I got back from exchanges she texted and said something to the effect of "Hey, not sure if I’ll be at church tomorrow. I am thinking that I need to think about some things." We haven’t met with her since so we don’t really know what’s up. But she did come to church haha and we have an appointment to do a family home evening with her and the Turner family. Brother Turner's family is awesome so we are excited for that tonight. But for now, I’ll leave you with that cliff hanger.

When I was on exchanges the elder I was with put on a clinic for street contacting. haha We talked to a ton of people. Part of that was that we were on bikes. Finally I got to ride bikes all day! It’s so much better than sitting in the car! haha It was a blast. We met one guy who is nineteen and just starting to really think about religion and stuff. My bike chain had popped off and he stopped and asked us if we needed help. We didn’t really but as I was fixing it my companion started talking to him and we ended up setting up an appointment with him the next day. So the next day, we met him at noodles and co. It’s a delicious restaurant and his place of employment. We had a great discussion and got to know him. Turns out he lives in my area so we are hoping to be able to continue meeting with him this next week. He is a great guy with some great desires to serve other people. It was inspiring to listen to what he has done to help people.

We also had interviews with president this last week. It was not noteworthy. We waited all morning to talk with him for about ten minutes... not super beneficial. But I did ask some important questions. I found out that I can read two books that I have been wanting to read. Lectures on faith and believing Christ. I thought I would have to wait two years to read them but president approved them! Do you think that you could send me out a copy of those books? I’m stoked to read them. They both give an in depth look at two very important principles, faith and grace, which are seemingly simple. But I am feeling like these principles are often taken for granted and not understood as well as they could be. The more I study the basics, the more I realize that I may be able to recite them and even teach them clearly, but I do not know that I have the understanding required to apply these simple principles in order to get the most out of life. I won’t have time to read them in personal study since I will be busy preparing messages for the people we will see. But I will definitely have time during lunch and dinner and right before going to sleep. I will have to sacrifice some ab work out time but that’s ok I guess... I do like to read about ideas and principles of high level performance.  I can’t believe I haven’t read these books yet..

By the way, I have some troubling news... my vapors are finally starting to show some signs of wear... ugh, I’ll have to send you guys a picture next week. My shoes which were traditionally so well taken care of and exclusively used on the tennis court are a far cry away from my collection of past models back home. For once the top of the shoe may be equally trashed as the sole. No worries, there is no hole and I am sure that there will be some time before the bottom will break, but it is still crazy to see. It’s good though. Where the shoes go, the man follows. As I have moved from chasing victory on the tennis courts to doing anything and everything to help the people we meet with (i am shoveling manure tomorrow...) My shoes definitely reflect the transition, and I love it! I keep them close to my desk as a reminder that everything I once had must now be used for the benefit of those whom meet in this journey.  Peter, the apostle, was originally a fisher. We may assume that he was knowledgeable, skilled, and talented in the art of fishing. It’s how he spent his time and made his living. He loved it and he had found his niche. When the Savior called on Peter and his brothers he said, "Come follow me and I will make you fishers of men." His invitation was not to drop everything they knew and had in order to start over. His invitation to Peter was to take his unique skill set and background and repurpose it toward the work of salvation. "And straightway they left their nets and followed him."  The call came when Peter was working and doing what he loved and did best. Because of Peter’s decision his life was greatly blessed. Through the experiences that followed he grew greater himself as he grew closer to the Savior than he ever could have before. The Lord now wants those same blessings to be extended to all of us. I am confidant that when the Lord asks us to lift those around us He is asking us to take what we do best and use it for the benefit of other people. I have seen it happen in my mission. We are taught that the Lord puts us as missionaries in specific places because we are unique. I am sure that when the members get involved it is the same situation. It’s always like that in my experience so far. It is so exciting to see the members reach out to their friends and to see them experience the joy of working with the Lord in the work of salvation. The work takes many forms and I am continually impressed with how people make an impact on those around them.

I have to run now. We have a busy day a head of us. I hope all is well back home. You guys sound great and it is always good to hear from you. I will talk to you later. Until then...

I love you guys,
Elder Hinkle

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Week 18, September 16, 2103

Hello Family!

This week has been pretty great! Our p-day has been crazy today, in a good way. Sorry for the late letter. We ran into a service opportunity with a family. They decided to take a ton of trees out of their back yard. We have been there all day. Our p-day sacrifice was well worth it. They are a great family and we had a great time helping them out. It’s all about building the relationship. Plus, we pretty much hung out with the President’s bodyguard all day. How often does that happen? We worked in his yard, cutting down trees, taking all of the trees to the dump, and doing a whole lot of clean up. Then, we headed to the library to write the mission president and I started this letter. Now, we are leaving to go to our dinner appointment. Should be good. I will come back to the library in about an hour... wait for iiiiiiiit.

And I’m back. Pizza. We ate with these people who think their dogs can talk. They’re hooked on puppy phonics. It’s weird. Crazy day. haha And no worries. We got approval from the pres. for this all to go down today. Pretty sweet. haha After about six hours of yard work today, I’m still feeling ready to go. We are hoping for a couple of lessons tonight still. Fortunately, today’s dinner was the least interesting thing that happened this week.

Number one on the highlight reel is an investigator on date to be baptized in a few weeks. More good news, her mom, who hasn’t been to church in over twenty years, has promised to come to her baptism. It’s pretty awesome. So after the plan of salvation lesson I mentioned last week, we taught her about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We brought a Brother with us. He is an all-star. He made that lesson so good. We had a great spiritual discussion about the gospel pattern of living and our investigator was on board. This is one of those scenarios where the investigator is just super prepared. She is progressing very well. Since that lesson we have met with her twice. Once we met at a member’s house and read from the Book of Mormon where she was and helped her apply it to her situation. 1 Nephi chapter 7 was a perfect fit. Next time, we took the bishop with us and talked about commandments and taught the word of wisdom. We had a great lesson and bishop made a lot of solid contributions. She committed to live the word of wisdom and was really glad to learn about it. She made the comment that while she historically would go out and drink with friends, she really feels that she needs to set a good example for her son. She noted that he is getting older and recognizes what is going on. She doesn’t want her son to see any of those things as acceptable. She mentioned that she feels that nothing positive has ever come from a night of alcohol or smoking. She wonders why she would even do it anymore. It’s pretty sweet teaching her. When she answers questions she pretty much bears testimony of the principles we are teaching. She talked about how she is glad to have a stronger reason to say no. When she said no just because she didn’t want to her resistance was weaker. Now, she can say that she will not drink alcohol or smoke because the Lord has asked her not to and she wants to show her love for the Lord by following his commandments. It is so fun to watch her learn.

The library is closing in ten minutes... I have to hurry. ahh! Too much to say…too little time. So, I also found a historical treasure this week. I stumbled upon a copy of the Book of Mormon that was published in 1950. haha It’s cool. It looks super old. The index and footnotes are minimal. I would have sent a picture, but again, no camera.

Oh really quick! There was an experience this week where I felt prompted to go see someone in planning. The next day we went and saw them and they gave us like three referrals. We are planning a game night with us them and their referral friends. Super stoked. Love the feeling of acting on prompting and being the Lord’s instrument.

Anyway, you guys sound like you are doing well. In response to your question about homesickness, I haven’t really been homesick. Sorry. I loved being home and I really do miss you guys and my old tennis lifestyle. But I don’t really feel that far away. I feel like my life is a movie that I was watching and then pressed pause and walked away for a minute. I don’t know. I am focused here. Mission life is great and I am savoring it. To everything there is a season and I plan to enjoy this season just as much as hardcourt, grass, clay, or indoor season. haha I have to go. I’ll talk to you next week. Good luck with everything, I have work to do.

Love you guys,
Elder Hinkle

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Week 17, September 9, 2013

Vamos Rafa!!

Men’s final today! Even though I can’t watch it, I am stoked! This will probably be the third match I watch when I get back. I’m calling Rafa in five. Ahh!! So exciting! We had zone soccer today. We got there at ten and we played a couple games ‘til about ten thirty. Then more people had shown up so we decided to re-pick teams. I had to find some way to support Rafa today, so I took off to the pro shop I found a sweet national Spanish “futbol” team jersey. Normally $70, got it for twenty. So I came running back out on the field with the cry of "Vamos Rafa!!!" hahaha. They were all looking for me and when I came back out it was pretty funny. But anyway, I felt like I represented Spain fairly well today. I had some pretty sweet goals again. Indoor soccer is all the rage here in the Frederick zone. I could easily stay here for the rest of my mission just for Frederick soccer. haha And because Frederick is a great place to work of course.  Its funny, as the us open has been on there have been multiple times where we go to visit someone and they start out like this: "come on in elders. Did you see that Andy Murray lost? Or did you see Federer lost? Or Rafa and Djokovic won again." haha The news just flows to me. I’m like a magnet. Anyway, the moral of the story is: Vamos Rafa! I’m calling Rafa with the win in five sets. Did I say that already? haha

The big slide in Thurmont was pretty fun. It was like a thirty-foot slide that is made like a bowling alley. It was a big hit when the elders ran up the steps and then jumped on to the slide, high fivin’ the kids on the way down. haha It was a great ward activity but unfortunately no investigators or potential investigators showed up. Fortunately, there was a big slide, which was sure to make the trip worth our time. haha

As far as service goes, we are going to help a guy in our ward chop up a massive tree. He has a machine that will pretty much split anything you put below it. Sometime this week we are going to go up and spend a couple of hours splitting wood. It’s just one way to pass the time… we are looking for service opportunities all of the time so its good when we get some. The judge who collects neon signs whose lawn we mowed while they were out of town are coming back so hopefully we will be able to contact them and I will try to get some pictures of his sign collection! Should be cool.

Oh! I finally got a pull up bar! It’s taken me way too long. That should have been one of the first things I bought. It’s a pretty nice one. It’s set up so that you can do wide grip pull-ups too, which is really nice.

We have had a good week in the mission field. We still only have our one investigator, but things are going really well. We are seeing a lot of members and we can see her fairly consistently. We met with her twice this week and taught about the plan of salvation. We taught it in two parts. Part one was pre-earth life through the atonement. In that lesson, we had a great lesson about the atonement. Part two, was resurrection through kingdoms of glory plus a bonus of talking about the role of the spirit. the second lesson went really well as well. The spirit was definitely there as we were talking with her that night. We have been talking about when we would extend a baptismal invite to her and before hand we had picked a date that she could shoot for. At the end of the lesson, I felt like we could very realistically extend that invitation at that moment. The words came to my mind. It would have been like reading it off a card. But I took a moment to analyze how I felt, to analyze the prompting. You know, I wanted to be sure that I was interpreting it correctly and also take note of how the spirit communicated with me in that instance for future reference. But, as I analyzed the conversation turned from her talking about how happy her family was when they were sealed and how she wanted her mom to go back to church so she could live forever with her family to something that they were laughing at. I can’t quite recall. But it was clear that I missed the moment. I missed the moment. haha If my spirits were feeling elevated during the lesson, I hit rock bottom afterwards. haha It was just like a spiritual drop. It was disappointing, but it was a good learning experience for me. The spirit was pretty specific and felt like I really noticed and understood the contrasting messages.

Brad Gilbert has a 3-step process for playing tennis: 1. Recognize the opportunity. 2. Analyze the options. 3. Capitalize on the opportunity by choosing the best option. Simple, but difficult. This approach applies to pretty much anything that could be done in life. In this instance, I made it through the first two steps and then I didn’t capitalize. But it’s all good. It was a very beneficial experience and we are teaching her tomorrow about the gospel of Jesus Christ. After I realized I missed the moment for the invite I set up the next lesson fairly well, I thought, and hopefully it will go well.

So after that we went to choir practice! We are singing in stake conference. You may have been confused at the exclamation point after the words choir practice, but I pretty much just talked to Elder Barzee the entire time in between listening to the angelic voices of the other missionaries. But yes, I am in a choir. I think I’ll just check that off after the mission and move on. We were starting out and the director was telling us where to go based on whether you were a bass or alto or tenor or whatever. It just happened to get all quiet just as I asked "what does that even mean?" From early on that night my lack of musical talent was quite apparent. haha

The good thing is that what I lack in musical talent, Elder Barzee makes up for. One of the guys in Elder Barzee’s ward--well, this guy's wife decided to throw the him a surprise birthday party. He was led in to the church gym, blindfolded, and sat down on a couch. Then a ton of different people put on some type of performance for him. It was like a talent show. The entrants were mostly family... and Elder Barzee. We had met beforehand and written new lyrics to the song Hallelujah. We wrote all about this guy. hahaha His performance really stole the show! It was hilariously well executed! So that was a highlight.

Anyway... I hope you guys have a great week! Watch the final for me. Record it and watch it later for me too… haha I am still doing great! Life is good. I’ll talk to you next week!

Love you guys,
Elder Hinkle

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 16, September 3

Hey everyone! Good to hear you are all doing well and that the birthday people had great birthdays. Your trip to Southern Utah does sound like a lot of fun. Sorry the letter is a day late. The library was closed on Labor day. So we write on Tuesday this week.

First of all, we need to address the elephant in the room...we will just get it out of the way at the beginning - Roger Federer did lose in the fourth round of the us open. I was sad. I am sad. I was really pulling for the Rafa Roger quarter. But alas, there is good news! Rafa made the quarters! My money is on a 2010 repeat of Rafa vs. Nole. Sorry, tennis news finds me quickly. One of the members especially loves to pass news on to me. haha He is really glad I play tennis. He hurt his knee so we haven’t played since close to two weeks since he sent the video. Now, as he is starting to feel better, he insists that he wants to write president and ask if we can play during an unproductive time of the day. haha He is really funny. Elder Dorsey said there is a pretty good chance Pres. will say yes. I don’t know what to expect. Kinda’ funny though. He claims that he went to a seminar for therapists on compassion fatigue (emotional wear and tear due to counseling others) and took a test to measure his level of compassion fatigue. He scored really high... which is really bad.. the number one preventative measure is exercise. haha So he is chalking it up to service hours. Pun intended. We will see what happens. But what I am trying to say is - VAMOS RAFA!

So, I finally got the package that you guys sent me! The one that you put together at the cabin! It was great to read all of the little notes that you guys wrote. I got the package at lunch. We had just come back from service and Elder Dorsey was in the shower. He has been starved for mail lately. While he was in the shower I read all of the notes. Then I got  the bright idea to spread them all out over my desk, along with some additional papers, and wait for him to come out. The look on his face when he came around the corner and saw the abundance of mail before me was almost as priceless as your letters! hahaha! He seemed a little jealous until I handed over the candy. haha He sends his thanks.

This week has been busy! We did get the opportunity to do a lot of work with the members.  We got to see a lot of people.

Saturday, we had a pretty great day planned. We had a few set appointments and we planned to try by some people in between. This was the day before fast Sunday and we did not have a dinner that night. Elder Dorsey must have prayed for a dinner appointment. At each and every home we entered that day, we were fed. Pulled a family's weeds in the morning, ate burgers for lunch. Emailed the progress record, got milkshakes. Visited a family around three, they fed us at four. Visited another family around 4:30, they fed us dinner again. Visited two more people that night and cashed in on two desserts. It was kinda’ ridiculous. Haha.

We have a great ward activity set up this week. The elders quorum is hosting a party at what they affectionately call the big slide of Thurmont. It is apparently a big bowling ally like slide. Should be fun. It will also be a great thing for the members to invite their friends to. Needless to say, we will be there! We are told that invitations will be extended to a few non member families. It may turn out to be a great example of the ward really doing good finding.

We just took a defensive driving class today. A week ago there was three car accidents in two days. As a result, we are no longer allowed to listen to music in the car and we have to take a defensive driving course. Pretty sure I nailed it! Well, we will just say that I would bet on a perfect score. I found my driving record and mailed it in but they still have not processed my tiwi card. No worries though. Elder Dorsey is required to continue driving me around to and fro. I can just chill for now. Totally cool with that. But it went long and I am running out of time to write… We have an appointment with the bishop for dinner and we don’t want to be late to that. Sorry I don’t have more update on investigators. Next time... don’t let the short, uninformative letter fool you... this was a solid busy week just like the one that we expect to have this week. I’ll let you know how that goes Monday.

Until then, just keep enjoying life at home! I am having a great time out here! Life as a missionary is really quite marvelous. I will talk to you guys this coming Monday!

Love you guys,
Elder Hinkle