Thursday, August 28, 2008

From Jon 8/28/2008

baptism in the Kickapoo River

Nyob zoo!

Well, we've had a relatively tame summer so far, and surprisingly August has been the nicest month! June and July were hot and muggy, but evidently not nearly as bad as most years. Word is that this cooler summer is going bring a more frigid winter than the last one, which was the worst in 6 years... so that'll be fun.

So you said Sam experienced the situation in Annette's article... so does that mean the name was changed from Samuel to Benjamin?

Lori is still reading and learning, but she found an anti-Mormon book that has made her very confused. She is a very logical, intellectual person, and she knows she feels the spirit when she reads the BoM, but the cunning craftiness of the arguments in her book seem mostly reasonable and she has a lot of questions. At least she's taking this seriously.

Richard is working toward the 9th to be baptized. He is doing great. He invited a lot of his friends to come, and many agreed...until they found out it would be a "Mormon" baptism. (Awww, I don't wanna get near those MORMONS...they latch on to you and never leave you alone!) He says he'll still probably have a support squad there.

We met a man named Jeff who investigated the church about 6 years ago, then stopped. Evidently since then he actually took Moroni's challenge and got an answer. He drove over to our apartment and asked us what he would have to do to get baptized. Wow. It's like someone up there broke off the Miracle Knob and they can't shut it off. It seems like we're getting blessed more that we deserve. That seems to be the way the Lord works: He starts by blessing us, thus putting us in debt. We serve Him and obey Him and work to make it up to Him, but as soon as we get halfway there, he doubles the helping. Well, I'll tell ya--- this is the most tremendous and wonderful debt in which I've been. I just hope nobody's in a hurry to fix that knob...if you find it, kick it under the couch or something. ;)

Love ya!
-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 27 August 2008

Elder Durkin with his planner, which got completely soaked on the way back from the Matapos’ house Wednesday. He’s written 17 on it (it’s his 17th transfer period) in Japanese script. Elder Durkin is really interested in Japan and speaks some Japanese.
Elder Durkin’s dried-out planner next to my not-soaked-in-the-first place one.

Dear family,

Last Wednesday we had a really exciting lesson with Yvonne Matapo. She’d been reading the Book of Mormon very diligently and praying to know if it was true, and at the beginning of our lesson on Wednesday she told us that she felt like she’d come to a decision about the Book of Mormon, but wasn’t ready to tell us yet. During the lesson she carefully noted the locations of all the scripture we referred to in the Book of Mormon, and towards the end she started asking us questions about how we perform baptism in our church. Then she told us she wanted to be baptized! It’s interesting to compare her progress with that of her younger brother, who hasn’t been reading or praying as diligently. Moroni’s promise really does work – when people really study the Book of Mormon with sincerity and real intent to know if it is true, they find out. That Wednesday evening, Elder Durkin had accidentally left his bus pass back at our flat, so we had to walk all the way home from the Matapos’ house in Blackburn, a one-hour trip, in the middle of a heavy rainstorm. I’d forgotten my coat, and a car splashed us en route, so when we got home we were pretty badly soaked. But it was all worth it for that great lesson with Yvonne!

Since then we’ve taught Yvonne twice and have set a baptismal date of September 13. Last time we taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When we explained confirmation, Yvonne had a serious concern – she didn’t want anyone to put their hands on her head to give her the gift of the Holy Ghost. When we probed a little bit, we found out that she’d had a bad experience with the laying on of hands at an evangelical Christian church she’d attended earlier. The preacher at this church used to invite people to come to the front of the chapel to be healed, and one time Yvonne went up there. When the preacher put his hand on her head, he pushed her really hard so that she fell down on the ground! Then the preacher announced that he’d just cast out an evil spirit (supposedly why Yvonne had fallen) and made some “prophecies.” When we explained the way confirmation is performed in our church (reverently, with the convert seated on a chair and everyone in the congregation having their eyes closed and arms folded - no pushing people down onto the ground), Yvonne was quite willing to be confirmed. “I think I should have started coming to your church a long time ago,” she said.

I finally met Ryan! He’s a really good kid, and he’s already almost perfectly integrated into the ward’s youth program. We pushed his baptism date back to September 13 to give us a little more time to teach and him a little more time to adjust to all the commandments.

I’m on exchange with my zone leader, Elder Powrie, in Chorley. Kind of a déjà vu trip to come back and work in the town where I went through the MTC. The ward in Chorley is amazing – 200 active members, far more than any of the wards I’ve served in and probably most of the units in Europe – and is full of temple workers who moved to Chorley to save commuting time, so the Chorley elders get to spend a lot of time teaching members, and they have plenty of members to take investigators under their wings. Last night we had tea at a member home with one of Elder Powrie’s investigators and taught the investigator with the members afterwards. Great stuff. Elder Powrie’s also great. He’s from Pretoria in South Africa, and speaks both Afrikaans and English. He’s kind of a quirky guy – he loves computers and Star Trek and is really good at solving Rubik’s cubes – and I’ve had a lot of fun working with him for the day. He cares a lot about our zone and making sure he knows all about individuals and not just the numbers that we report to him. He also loves good words (this morning he pointed out the words “catechize” and “arrears” while studying Jesus the Christ) and has a little electronic dictionary he carries around with him. He specially asked me to bring my electronic dictionary (which, unlike his, includes etymologies among other great features) on exchange so he could see and admire it. : ) The dictionary has come in really handy, by the way, and has been much appreciated by most of my companions as well.

The other day in the bus station, a woman came running up to us saying, "Elders, elders!" It turned out she was a member of the church who had been baptized in Yorkshire (Leeds Mission) last February. When she moved to Blackburn about a year ago, however, she didn’t know how to find the church and had had no contact with church members there until she’d seen us. Her name is Zita, she’s originally from Togo in Africa, and she has a four-year-old son named Mike who is pretty cheeky. We told them where church was and when it started and got her phone number so we can keep track of her. The experience is a testimony to me that our mission leaders knew what they were doing when they took the car out of this area – if we’d still had a car, we never would have been in the bus station to meet this woman and tell her where the church is.

Last week we knocked on the door of a man who teaches at an Islamic school in Accrington, and he invited us in. His name was Ayoob (sp?), which he explained is the Arabic version of the name Job. We didn’t get a chance to teach him much because he talked for almost the whole time about his own beliefs (a problem we run into sometimes), but I learned a lot of interesting things about Islam. He explained their belief in prophets and dispensations, and it was exciting to see how similar it is to ours. In particular, he explained that Muslims believe that in order to be saved, you have to believe in all the prophets throughout all time. You can’t just pick and choose which prophets to believe in – if you do that, you don’t really believe in any of them at all. It reminded me of the verse in the New Testament where Jesus condemns the Jews who oppose him and tells them that they must not really believe in Moses, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me” (John 5:46). Of course, Ayoob used this principle as an argument that we wouldn’t be saved because we don’t believe in Mohammed, since he believes Mohammed was one of the prophets. One of the other real differences that I noticed between our beliefs and Islamic beliefs is that Muslims care a lot more about the exact textual preservation of their scriptures. Ayoob (who has memorized the entire Koran in Arabic) explained that you can’t really read or appreciate the Koran unless you read it in Arabic – otherwise things may be lost or distorted – and he described the beauty and poetry of the Koran’s language as being mystically great. I realized that we don’t focus
on the nature of the actual text of the Bible or Book of Mormon as much as we emphasize the personal revelation we can receive by studying them, revelation that’s available no matter what language you read the Book of Mormon in. Since Muslims don’t really believe in modern prophets or personal revelation in the way we do, the text of the Koran is all they’ve got to depend on. I’m grateful to know that each of us can receive revelation for ourselves about the truth. Otherwise I don’t think anybody could ever really be certain of anything.

The other day we saw an Indian wedding going on. At least I think it was a wedding. We were walking down the street in an area we visit quite often, and outside one of the houses there was a long queue of women in brightly-colored saris. In the house’s yard there were several big pavilions set up with tables laid out for eating set up underneath them. It reminded me a bit of the funeral that we had in our yard in Sudan. : )

Elder Durkin knows a few people who served (maybe one of them is still serving?) in the Jacksonville mission: Elder Luker (sp?), Sister Hiapo, and Elder Johnson. All from Gilbert, Arizona, I believe. Do you or your missionaries know any of them?

Today we have a zone activity. Actually, it’s a multi-zone activity: we’re playing Preston Zone in football here in Chorley. I think we should be able to beat them no problem. : )

Hope everyone has a great school year!

Elder Pimentel

Tuesday, August 26, 2008


The power's back on, finally, and we're back home. Whew!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Tropical Storm post mortem

We survived Tropical Storm Fay, which was pretty well gone by Saturday morning, but we've been without power for a day-and-a-half now. It's getting pretty hot an uncomfortable, so we're spending the night at Kathryn (Pearson) and John's tonight (Sunday). We talked about getting a generator, but that really wouldn't help the comfort factor much, because we wouldn't have gotten one powerful enough to run our A/C.

Our trenching of the house worked well, and the water flowed well, away from the house throughout the storm. We even managed to drain what water collected under the house early in the storm. So that was a success.

It's back to school and work tomorrow (Monday), and we hope our power is restored soon. The culprit appears to be one of the large uprooted trees in the neighborhood, which brought down power lines with it. We were fine during the storm but afterward, the electric company realized those lines were down and shut off the power to the whole block until the lines can be fixed. No one came to work on the downed lines all day today, so we're still waiting . . . .

But we're all okay. It will be a very busy week for us, as we're all trying to catch up on things (I'll have to teach extra lectures to make up for the missed classes), and getting ready to send Ruth off to college on Saturday. But we're safe and the storm has now passed us by.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

From Jon 8/21/2008

Subject: Cov dej uas kho mob

Nyob zoo!
John Powell's baptism went wonderfully! He was baptized in the Kickapoo River on the 16th. I am glad we were able to get someone to drive us down there, as it is an hour away. I have pictures, but I can't get them to you this week.
John is very happy and very excited. He gave a talk the Sunday of his confirmation that left not an eye dry.
Zone Conference rocked. It was one of the best I've had. It was about using time wisely and planning and goals.
At Zone Conference we learned about some changes in the rules, including: no board games except chess and checkers, and those games must only be on p-day or when waiting for transfer calls and may not continue past that day; no card games; no keeping score in sports; no more EFY music, only Mo-Tab and Hymns in their original form (no re-mixes), only spiritual Christmas music, and Christmas music is only allowed after thanksgiving; and a few other things. These adjustments will help us have the spirit stronger and help us focus.

In sacrament meeting I happen to glance over the shoulder of the little boy in front of me and I noticed the author of the article he was reading in The Friend was strikingly familiar. He was reading "Benjamin's Name" by Annette Bay Pimentel. Have you seen that article? Neat stuff.

I came across a painting in the ensign called "They Put Their Trust in God" by Walter Rane and I really like it. It is of Helaman's "little army" after one of the great battles in which they fought. The Ensign only shows half the picture; words cover the rest.
As much as I love brother Friberg and his work, I feel his portrayal of the stripling warriors makes them seem like rippling warriors, and you don't get to appreciate how much faith they had and how much of a miracle it is that they were preserved. These were very young men who had never fought before against an innumerable host of strong and seasoned adult warriors. Rane's painting seems a lot more like how I imagined it, and really conveys more to me of what is important about that story. How can I get a printout/poster of that painting?

Did I tell you about Lori? I think I might have. She is a new investigator whom we met right after her mother died and she was just thinking of how lonely she was and how much she wished she could talk to someone else who believed in Christ when we biked by. She has had some traumatic experiences in her life including getting shot in the face with a silenced Glock which put her in a coma for a few months. She is really excited about the gospel and felt the spirit a lot when we were teaching her. She is an avid Bible student and compares translations with the Hebrew etc. to try to find the truth because she recognized that the Bible is sometimes unclear and can appear to contradict itself. She was thrilled to hear that there is a prophet and more scripture that hasn't been tampered with. She's coming to church this week.

Richard is progressing very well. He now feels the BoM is true, but doesn't KNOW it. We set a goal for him to work toward being baptized on the 9th of September. I love being a missionary.

Tell grandpa hi for me, and tell him I love him!

-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Hurricane Watch

Jacksonville is on hurricane watch at the moment. They've canceled school in the public schools, and at the law school, for the next two days. It's raining, but we don't have serious wind yet. We should start getting serious storm conditions tonight (Wednesday night), and they should continue through Thursday. We've done about all we can to prepare for it (although I'm wondering if we should have bought a generator -- since it is not uncommon, we understand, to lose power for several days). Kathryn and John have a complete generator system in their house, and they've invited us to bunk with them if we get a serious storm.

At this point it's not clear that the storm will hit Jax directly, and even if it does, there's a good chance that it won't be hurricane force by then. We have gassed up the cars and have an extra 15 gallons or so. We have plenty of cash. If we need to evacuate, it shouldn't be any trouble to get to Atlanta, where we could crash with Joanne. Annette has been tweaking our drainage situation to try to minimize flooding in the basement/garage.

The kids are celebrating the school cancelation (after only two days of school!). Emma Lucy ended up hosting an impromptu sleepover with friends last night. Fun stuff.

Notes from Sam -- 20 August 2008

Final shot with Elder Adams before leaving Manchester

District Leaders' Council with (L-R) Elders Soren, Powrie, Empey, and Durkin (current companion) all enjoying donner kebab

Dear family,

Happy Birthday Isaac! I hope you have a great year at Hendricks Avenue Elementary School.

I got my first letter in the new flat! Yay! That's always a happy day for me. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for your diligence in writing to me.

I'm getting to know Accrington (it seems to be spelled Accy, not Acky) and Blackburn a little better, as well as the ward and our teaching pool. We've got a pretty good group of people to teach, including a great family from Zimbabwe called the Matapos. The whole family (there's about five kids who live in England, I think, four of them still at home) has been taught in the past but we're focusing on the 16-year-old son Peter and the 20-year-old daughter Yvonne. Their younger siblings (ages 10? and 8, I think) are pretty wild and tear around the house a lot when we're teaching. Peter likes to joke around with us a lot and make fun of our American accents - Yvonne's a lot quieter and more serious. They both really like church, though, and Peter says that when he goes he "gets The Feeling." Kind of a cool way to describe the Spirit.

There's another great young man named Ryan who is actually dated for baptism this coming week, but he's been on holiday and I haven't met him yet. We're teaching him this week, though, and I'm really looking forward to it.

The young men in the ward (our key fellowshippers for Ryan and Peter) are great. There's only about three of them who are there every week, Adam and Cameron Morgan (ages 17? and 15?) and Lorenzo Willis (age 13), but they're really solid. Elder Durkin and I taught the young men's lesson on Sunday and spoke about the goals set by the Area Presidency to have each member read Chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel, give away a copy of the Book of Mormon, and bring someone into the waters of baptism this year. We compared achieving goals like this to scoring goals in a football game. The young men were involved, and I think we helped them be more committed to achieving the Area President's goals. Not that they're doing too shabbily as it is - one of them has given away three copies of the Book of Mormon already this year.

The young men and the young men's president all come out to play football with us and our investigators on Saturday mornings. This past Saturday was my first time - it was good fun, although I got sore enough that it was painful to stand up or sit down for the next day. I think I'll get a lot better at football during my time in Blackburn. Our members and investigators have kitted me out pretty well - one of our investigator families has lent me a nice pair of boots (i.e. cleats) and a member who is a die-hard Arsenal fan gave me one of his spare Arsenal jerseys (he has 15) when he found out I didn't have a football jersey to wear. Nice one. I think I'm now obliged to support Arsenal.

There's a heavily Asian part of Accrington that we ride the bus through frequently. Every time I see all the signs in Arabic script and the shops selling clothes from India and Pakistan ("Fatimah's Fabrics"), I think you all and how much you'd appreciate it all. I'll try and get some pictures for next week. Along the main street in this area is a place called Eastern Promise that makes some of the best and least expensive donner kebabs I've ever tasted. The people who work there know the missionaries so well that we don't even have to tell them our address when we order food over the phone ("Pickup Street, right? On the corner?"). They sometimes give us free food in our order as well. Another reason I'll enjoy serving in Accrington. : )

I've been called as a district leader, so I'm responsible for the weekly district meeting. I conducted my first one this week. It went really well, mostly because the other missionaries were really involved and contributed a lot. It can be really fun to teach when the people you're teaching are really great and want to listen and learn.

Elder Durkin is doing a good job of staying focused. He's a personable guy and has really good relationships with a lot of the ward members, especially the youth, which is really helpful. It turns out his dad is also a lawyer (he practices family law with a firm in Arizona), and his sister is studying law at UMich! She's just spent the summer clerking for a judge in the Phoenix area, but Elder Durkin doesn't know whether it's a federal judge or not.

The other day I was riding with the zone leaders through Chorley in their car, and we saw a bunch of missionaries from the MTC wandering around (they get one or two afternoons free every week, during which they can walk into town), and we waved to some of them and said hi. One of them had a long-sleeved white shirt on and had rolled up the sleeves to just below the elbow, something we're asked not to do in the Missionary Handbook. As we rolled by him, Elder Soren leaned out the window and yelled, "Roll down those sleeves!" As we passed by, we looked through the back window and saw him doing it right away. : )

We have a new rule in the mission that we can only use email to communicate with our family. That means not only that we can't email or get email from friends directly, but I'm not allowed to have you forward me email from friends and I'm not allowed to have you forward things to friends for me. I think some missionaries are feeling quite sad about this, but I didn't really give out my email address to friends so it shouldn't be a problem for me. All it means is that I can't send out a newsletter to my big mailing list any more, and that hence I'll have more time to write these letters!

I checked with the zone leaders and they said it's fine for you to print out emails that come to my Gmail account and hard-copy mail them to me (as you've been doing). And it's fine for you to forward my letters to the family (and, I would think, to post them on the Pimentel family blog) - President Bullock defines family to include grandparents, aunts, uncles, and first cousins. So no worries there either.

It's good to hear that everyone's home, happy, healthy and looking forward to school. Keep me posted!

Elder Pimentel

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Notes from Jon 8/14/2008

Subject: Cov txuj ci tseem ceeb

Nyob zoo!
This week has been interesting. We still don't have our cell phone back yet. It has been moved from Bloomington to Rochester, so that's a little bit closer. We are going to Rochester for zone conference tomorrow, so we can pick it up then. It has been hard to schedule things and confirm things because we don't have a land line.

We found a nice lady whose mother had just died that day. She invited us in and was pretty happy to see us. She was a former investigator from several months ago who was dropped because she said she didn't think she could ever leave Catholicism even though she liked what we taught, and liked our church. She wanted to know what we believe about life after death. She was pretty comforted. She REALLY wanted a copy of the Book of Mormon. The other elders were all out, and then they got transferred. She loves the Bible and studies it diligently, but feels there is a problem with translation: you can't ever know how correct a translation is. That is why she is so eager to read the BoM. The reason she said she would never leave Catholicism is because her mom told her never to do so. Right before her mother died, however, she told her she could do whatever she wanted. We didn't know she had talked with missionaries before when we found her. We just "happened" to be going down that street on the exact day her mother died, right as she "happened" to come outside, and we felt like we should talk to her. Coincidence is a marvelous thing, isn't it? ;)

Did I tell you about Richard's breakthrough? It's a long story, but pretty much he now has felt an answer to prayer, feels the church is true, but still doesn't feel he knows it, and now understands what to look for in an answer to prayer. The problem was that he didn't understand the true nature of God. It's hard to trust, talk to, and love a mysterious, shapeless, force. It's easier for him now that he understands that our Father is a person with a tangible body and a personality.

A bunch of good things are happening, and the weather is not quite so hot anymore, so I'm pretty happy. John Powell's baptism is still on for Saturday. =D

Love you all!
-Elder Moua Ying

Notes from Sam -- 13 August 2008

Dear family,

Happy birthday to Isaac a week from tomorrow! Moving up from "not much more" to "barely alive" already. I figured out some time ago that Isaac's birthday is also the exact halfway-point of my mission. So I'll be home for his sixth.

I like Accrington a lot. There's a lot more topography here than in Manchester - green, rolling English countryside poking up around the horizon wherever you look. Blackburn and Accrington (the two main population centers in our area) are in adjacent valleys, so whenever you travel from one to the other you go up a hill and get a nice view of the other city spreading out in front of you. I still haven't spent a lot of time in Blackburn, but Accrington at least has very Industrial-Revolution-looking architecture, with rows of gray terraced houses and one or two old brick smokestacks (remains of the now-defunct mills, I'm guessing) sticking up above the town. It's a very distinctly English place, more so than Manchester. The Accrington-Blackburn accent is also really interesting. They actually pronounce their Rs, a bit like we do in the states, and their vowels are all a bit schwa-like (the word "go" is somewhere between "guh" and "goo"). They also say "likkle" instead of "little," or even "hospickle" instead of "hospital." Maybe I'll be talking like that too by the end of my mission. : )

I think I mentioned last week that our district includes Chorley. Chorley has two wards, each with a set of missionaries. Elder McIntosh from Utah (from my old district in Manchester South) and Elder Johnson from Colorado are in Chorley 2nd, and our zone leaders Elder Soren (Idaho) and Elder Powrie (South Africa) are in Chorley 1st. It should be a good district. I'll try and get you pictures soon (next week, hopefully).

We taught a good lesson to the Parkes, a member family, on Monday. In chapter 5 of Preach My Gospel, there's a section called "The Book of Mormon Answers Questions of the Soul." It explains how the Book of Mormon contains answers to a lot of the deep questions people have about life and includes a list of example questions and scriptures or chapters that answer them. We wrote down the questions on slips of paper, passed them out to the Parkes, and did role-plays where we (pretending to be the Parkes' friends, neighbors, etc.) asked them the questions and they had to answer us in their own words. Then we gave each of the Parkes a scripture from the Book of Mormon that answered their question, had them study the scriptures for a minute, and did the role-plays over again. It was eye-opening to see how clearly the Book of Mormon can answer important questions, and it's inspired me to use the Book of Mormon more to answer questions from investigators. That's really why the Book of Mormon was brought forth - to answer people's deep questions - and using it that way can help them feel the Spirit and know that it's true. That's how I'd want to introduce the Book of Mormon to a friend after my mission, I think.

Serving with a missionary who's going home in five weeks has helped me see just how short my mission is. When I was a brand-new missionary and I messed up in something I always used to tell myself that I had two years left to get good at doing that. Now I only have one year left to get good at all those things! It's also satisfying, though, to think about how much I've improved and changed since I was new.

The other day in Blackburn I saw an advertisement titled "Low-cost car insurance that's right for you + Halal car insurance that's right for your faith." It was for the Salaam insurance agency which offers "Shariah-compliant" car insurance packages. Pretty cool. It's heartening to see evidence that living in obedience to one's religion still matters to people. Even if they're not of our religion.

I (finally) got hold of a July Friend this week and read Mom's story! I liked it.

The other day I was talking to a Canadian missionary who studied third-world development at college before his mission about all the places I've lived. He said, "I want your life!" and asked if he could come live with you guys for a while. : )


Thursday, August 7, 2008

from Jon 8/7/2008

Subject: Txoj kev sib pauv khub

It's transfer time again and there are some changes in the district. Elder Murdoch is the District Leader, and he is still with Elder Jones in Onalaska. Elder Bowen was sent to St. Paul, and Elder Cooper is still in Winona. I don't remember Elder Cooper's new companion's name. Elder Nielson is now in St. Cloud, and I am still here in La Crosse. My new companion is Elder Niber (I don't know how you spell it). It may actually be Nibourn or Niberg or something, but I heard Niber or Nibar.

I'm hanging out with Elder Cooper today while our old companions make the long drive to Bloomington, and our new companions travel over here. Since we don't really need to be in Bloomington it makes sense for us to stay here and get our preparation day stuff done.

Some exciting miracles this week! We got a call from the branch in Viroqua saying there is a young man there who has been coming to church for a month and even plays the organ for them, and he would like to be baptized. We are going to head down there Saturday morning with the Zone Leaders to teach him all of the lessons in one go and get him interviewed. He is friends with an RM there who has already shared a lot with him and probably taught him everything, so it will mostly be review. Wahoo! Too bad Elder Nielson is leaving...He's pretty put out, but is dealing with it well enough.

We continue to find new investigators, and some of them show real promise! One couple we are teaching hasn’t been to church since they were quite young, and they are not quite young anymore. They are honest, kind people, and they are very simple. It made me realize how vast and great the gospel is, and how hard it must be to jump into it starting from scratch with nothing to build off of. It would be even harder if you didn't have much education at all and never had to really think before in your life. I can see why we are counseled to get as much education as possible. Not only will it get you farther in the world, but it helps you learn how to learn, how to think. Knowledge is an eternal principle, a Christ-like attribute. It is one of the few things we take into the next life, and we cannot be saved without it. Well, there's my tangent; I hope you enjoyed it.

Did I tell you we got a new Ward Mission Leader? He's way fired up. He's ambitious and aggressive (in a good way). We're pretty excited.

Richard is still reading and praying and trying to find out if the BoM is true. He's doing well, but he's been getting really busy and has slowed down on his reading.

People are always watching us. They watch us missionaries as well as all members of the church. Recently we were biking along and noticed some people moving in, so we hopped off our bikes and helped heave a bunch of furniture out of the U-haul, into the house, and up a big, twisty flight of stairs. They were really grateful and invited us over for dinner. Even though they are Lutheran, they agreed to a spiritual thought to follow dinner. Most Lutherans around here act as though they are physically not capable of listening to our message---like they are allergic to it, and I think I may have an idea of the challenges Dad must have had in Germany.

Anyway the cool thing is, later that day as we were heading into some building to use the restroom, a man hailed us from 20-30 feet away and said that he saw us help those people move and he really admired it. He was firm in his faith, but was willing to look at our website because he had seen some of the fruit of our church.

How would it have been if he had seen Elders horsing around and being undignified? What if we had been scowling and grumbling as we performed service? I'm glad we were smiling. We don't do what's right to look good or so people will have a good impression of the church. We do it because that's the kind of person we are, and because that's the kind of person we are, we aren't caught out of character when we are 'offstage'. I think that's what makes an impression of people. Any politician or church (or church leader) knows what people want to see and hear, and they know how to put on the costume, but few actually ARE the character they play. I think people are drawn to honesty, integrity, and sincerity because it's safe. Second tangent complete.

Well, I'd better wrap this up.

May your Skittles be bright, and your yogurt frozen

-Elder Moua Ying

Notes from Sam -- 7 August 2008

Dear family,

I've been transferred to Blackburn (mentioned in the Beatles' song "A Day in the Life"). Actually the Blackburn ward covers a large area and includes another town of significant size called Accrington ("Acky" as I heard a local call it the other day) which is where I live. This part of Lancashire seems to have been the heart of the English cotton industry during the Industrial Revolution, and both Blackburn and Accrington are old "mill towns." The Blackburn Ward is in the Chorley stake, and the temple (which is in Chorley) is within the boundaries of my district. So that's nice. My new companion is Elder Durkin. He's from Gilbert, Arizona and he is very good at baseball. He's served in Blackburn for six months already and will be going home at the end of the transfer (so in mission slang I will be "killing him off"). My new address is:

Flat 10 Signal House
2A Pickup Street
Accrington, Lancashire

I actually haven't been to the flat yet, however. It's kind of a long and painful story. Blackburn has been a car area since Elder Durkin arrived, but on the morning of transfer day he found out that the car was being sent to another part of the mission and he had to hand over the keys. After giving the keys to his leaders so they could drive the car to Manchester, he realized that the flat keys were on the same ring as the car keys. Today (one day later) our flat keys are still in Manchester somewhere, although we should be getting them back tonight. : ) (We spent the night at our zone leaders' flat and my bags are at a member's home in Accrington.) I find the whole episode kind of amusing, but I don't think Elder Durkin enjoyed it very much - in addition to losing the car and getting locked out of the flat his favorite Japanese restaurant in Preston (where he spent the day) was closed for lunch, and he got ketchup squirted all over his shirt and tie. Anyway, today should be a better day. : )

I've met a few of the members in Blackburn, and one of our investigators. I think it will be a fun place to serve. There's someone named Ryan dated for baptism at the end of the month! He's on holiday right now, but I'm pretty excited to meet him when he gets back. Both Blackburn and Accrington are heavily Asian areas (by Asian I mean Indian or Pakistani, which is how the English use the word - I saw a survey a few months ago that asked about ethnicity and specified "Asian" and "Chinese" as separate categories), and the chapel is right across the street from a mosque. We got out of coordination meeting just as a service at the mosque was finishing, and there were tons and tons of men in robes and women and girls wearing the hijab pouring out of it. I had a little bit of deja vu. : )

I was kind of sad to leave Elder Adams in Manchester South. Not really sad, I guess, but I just realized in my last couple of days that I really love the people I served there. And also that my work has made a difference in people's lives. At church on Sunday last week, Elder Adams and I felt like all sorts of rewards were suddenly being poured out on us. None of our investigators were there at the beginning of sacrament meeting, but during the opening hymn, Arman (the great Iranian man we have been teaching) walked in with his daughter (I was playing the piano, so I saw him come in at the back and got excited and distracted enough that I messed up the hymn); a less-active member we'd taught that week was at church for the first time in a while, and she bore her testimony and talked about the commitment we'd left her and how she'd kept it; our ward mission leader shared his testimony and described a great experience he'd had while teaching a lesson with us; and our high priest group leader, who taught priesthood, talked about how our example had helped him. Earlier in the transfer I'd been feeling a bit frustrated that Elder Adams and I hadn't been able to baptize during our time together, so it was particularly powerful for me to recognize that we did make a difference after all. I'm also going to miss serving with Elder Adams. He's a great man. But I think I can learn a lot from Elder Durkin and Blackburn, and I'm really happy to be here.

I love you! Thanks again for your support.

Elder Pimentel

Postcards from Guatemala -- 6 August 2008

bueno. no tengo mucho tiempo, porque esta computadora funciona increíblemente lentemente. no sé porque.

mom, you are a newsletter goddess. i LOVE your updates.
dad, that looks like a very fun beach race. i feel really out of shape here, but i´d love to do it with you. maybe i can run every morning when i get home and get myself ready .

several of my facebook friends have listed me as their tattooist, mostly people from ASH, from the Earth Day fair when i was working the watercolor-pencil-tattoo table. now i´ve been commissioned to design an actual tattoo, for aníbal, a project employee. his niece julieta dinora marroquin king died, and he wants her initials in arabic on his back. i tried to do one of those elaborate word-pictures, like the logo for Al Jazeera, or like you see in islamic art, but everything i tried looked really dumb, so i went to the library at la cooperación española and found a really old arabic-spanish dictionary, written by a catholic priest, that had the arabic in nice-looking calligraphy, and sketched out the initials based on that. cool.

the chapel that Barrio Antigua meets in doesn´t have a basketball court, but the chapel in chimaltenango does. if the public basketball court near my house in colonia manchen is any indicator, the good church members of chimaltenango probably use it for intense games of fut. ring any bells, guys? nairobi?

la cooperación española has a new permanent exhibit: three giant sculptures of beans on its back lawn. there´s a black one, a white one, and a red one. beans, according to the interpretive panel, are an important symbol of chapín culture. they are seed, fruit, birth, and possibility. and a lot of other poetic things i don´t remember. then it says (in spanish, so maybe my translation is bad), ¨They don´t mean anything. They simply are.¨

by the way, i found a guatemalteca feminist newspaper in the library there. i´m quite pleased.

it turned out, on the day of la carta mensual, actually about halfway the through the day of la carta mensual, that we didn´t have to do 16,000 letters after all. the actual number was very close to our usual 12,000. so i spent a good hour or so UNstuffing envelopes. hah. the happy news is that i did it with two new volunteers, nicole and katie, who showed up together after lunch. nicole is from utrecht. katie is from alameda. HOW AWESOME IS THAT? but they´re the kind of volunteers who you never really see, because they hardly ever come, and if they do, they clean the kitchen.

i liked having all the teachers there for letter day. my colleagues! they acted exactly like our students act when we´re trying to teach them: profe josé (de sexto) and profe isabel (de cuarto) kept throwing wads of paper at each other when the other one wasn´t looking, and profe bilma (de primero) kept having gossipy little whispered conversations with other women at our table, and profe cesia (de quinto) started a hopeful, ¨hamburguesas! hamburguesas! hamburguesas!¨ chant when lunchtime rolled around. it struck me that most of the teachers are really young. i wonder how old they all are.

today my replacements showed up. sigh. angel told me that they´ll start teaching on monday, so my last two work days will probably be picking up donations with diego, or making social work visits with carlos and julian. my replacements are a couple from arizona, Harold and his colombian wife Elvia. they´re old, he´s a retired optometrist, and they´re here to take some mysterious alternative medical treatment in guate every afternoon. they figured they could volunteer in the mornings. hal speaks no spanish, but elvia´s there to help him out, obviously. sighhhhhhh.

i told some of my classes today that i´m leaving, and i actually got whole-room moans. it made me perversely happy. one girl from segundo accosted me in el recreo and said, ¨¡que no te vayas!¨ (awwww) and proceeded to pose me with a bunch of nearby girls from quinto so she could take my photograph with my camera.

aug 4 was my end-of-TASP anniversary.

when does everybody start school?

and. both CSA and SLC gave me a home-printed, plastic-spiral-bound Spanish grammar and a similar workbook, included in the price of my lessons. i want to leave them behind, maybe giving them to hal so he´ll have something to study. is that ok with you guys? i think the real value of the lessons i took was in the interaction, and that if anyone in our family wants Spanish material to study, the textbooks we got on Amazon will be just as good or better.

love love love you all!


PS excited to see you in almost exactly one week.

Friday, August 1, 2008

from Jon 7/31/2008

Subject: Txhua yam zoo heev

Nyob zoo!

I forgot to tell you last time that I got the package. Thank you! Elder Nielson and I enjoyed lunch at Rudy's on my humpday. They have good rootbeer and shakes.

Things are going very well! We are teaching a lot of great people and exciting things are happening.

A day or two ago as I stepped out of the air-conditioned car, my glasses fogged up! It was THAT hot and humid. It rains a lot, but it feels nice.

Richard is making slow progress. Up to now, he has not really been wanting to find out if the BoM is true for fear that he might find out that it isn't. He doesn't want it to not be true because Krissee believes it so completely. His most trusted, best friend whom he has known longer than he has known anyone else on Earth lives next door and is an archaeologist. His name is Scott. He tells Rick that the BoM is not true because there is no archaeological evidence to prove it, and there is some evidence to disprove it. All of Scott's colleagues and professors frequently joke about the absurdity of the BoM. This makes it hard for Rick, who trusts Scott a lot. We talked to Rick about how to find and develop faith, and read Alma 32 with him. We convinced him that he needs to learn spiritual things by the Spirit. We also reminded him that scientists' entire objective is to understand the universe better, and by so doing, prove that our current understanding is inaccurate. Rick is now willing to more sincerely ask if the BoM is true and nourish his seed of faith.

Sounds like the reunion was fun. It's crazy to think that Kent is actually going to be at BYU soon. Weird. Did you say Russ might be there for a bit? Maybe Kent will bump into him. Kent, are you planning on participating in Laugh Out Loud? Convert Nick so he can be in it. Actually, he can go to BYU even if he isn't a member...yet.

I am now remembering that there are a lot of streets in St. Paul that have funny names, and I never got around to taking pictures of the street signs. One was called Supornick Ave. Good times.

Thank you, thank you, magenta, yellow, cyan, now I know how loved I am!

-Elder Moua Ying