Thursday, September 25, 2008

From Jon 9/25

Subject: Txoj haujlwm mus zoo

Nyob zoo!

The confirmations were awesome! Richard said it was a wonderful, strange feeling. He said he felt peace and excitement at the same time. Like he wanted to jump up in the air and take a nap. We went over this week with his home teacher and taught him about missionary work, and I could tell he got more out of it and was more in tune than usual. The Holy Ghost is good at teaching spiritual truth.

Jeffery described how he felt when he received the gift of the Holy Ghost in a similar way. He said he didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

This was my first time acting as voice, and it was a wonderful experience. The spirit filled me so strongly that it was hard to speak at first.

The miracle knob is still missing in action. We were talking to people downtown, and we started walking the opposite way than we usually go. We stopped a young man and had a great conversation with him. He was clearly prepared to receive the gospel. Coincidentally, he lives with another potential investigator whom we had been trying to get in touch with. While we were thus conversing with him, a woman pulled up on a bicycle and said she used to study with the missionaries and almost got baptized and would like us to come over and teach her again so she can work towards baptism. Gadzooks! Elder Neibaur and I split up and I continued to talk to the young man (Patrick) while Elder Neibaur talked to the lady (Jennifer).
John Perry is getting closer to baptism too. He's made some real progress! Too bad he'll be moving to Onalaska soon, so he'll be in the Northside Elders' area. Ah, well... as long as he gets baptized.

Well, I lubbachu awll, thanks for all the letters and love!

-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 24 Sep 2008

With Elders Adams and Stevens (Elder Pimentel's two trainees)
The "football" pitch where the Elders play with investigators each week
Getting a haircut at the Morgans (the obligatory photo "with the daisy")

Dear family,

Yvonne is doing great. Elder Stevens and I went over with her new home teachers on Saturday to teach the first New Member lesson. The home teachers took the lead, which was really wonderful. One of the most satisfying things to see as a full-time missionary is members working for and with the people that we teach. Every minute that members spend on Yvonne or our other investigators is worth several times as much as a minute that we spend on them. There’s so much that members can do that we can’t. I’m hoping we’ll see Yvonne get even more involved with the ward in the coming weeks as she gets a calling, etc.

We picked up a new investigator this week, a great young man (about 20, I think) named Ryan Mulcahy (not to be confused with Ryan Ormerod, the other great young investigator whom we play football with on Saturdays). He started talking to me and Elder Durkin in a bus stop the other week, and we set up an appointment with him and gave him a Restoration pamphlet. When Elder Stevens and I went to the appointment, he’d read and understood the entire pamphlet (a pretty unusual occurrence) and right away he asked us if he could get a copy of the Book of Mormon because he really wanted to read it! We taught him again yesterday and he has read (and understood) the introduction and the first two chapters. I’m pretty excited about him, because he gets everything and still seems pretty humble and willing to learn. He hasn’t been to church yet (he didn’t come on Sunday because he was concerned that he didn’t have nice enough clothes to wear) but we’ll be working hard to get him there this Sunday.

I did my second district meeting yesterday. I’d planned way too many things to do, and it ended up running late despite all the things I cut out at the last minute. But I felt pretty good about it. I have a great district, and they contributed a lot. We had district lunch afterwards in the chapel – the zone leaders brought their tosti maker and we all brought bread and cheese, and we all ate tostis while watching the Preach My Gospel DVDs. Good times. : )

Elder Stevens is great. I’ve been surprised by how good he is at teaching already – using clear, dignified language, using the scriptures really well, and picking up the lesson very confidently when I hand it to him – and he’s working hard on bus contacting as well. He tells me that the north of England is very different from the south: a lot more “rough around the edges,” apparently. His accent is very different from the Lancashire accent that I’m used to hearing around here, and once or twice I’ve had trouble understanding what he says. One of the members on Sunday was giving him a lot of stick for being a southerner, but otherwise the ward seems to be welcoming him pretty well. He’s quite a good football player, which should help in that respect. : ) He also knows this recipe for making really nice, really dark hot chocolate, and he’s made it several days this week in the evening while I’m taking phone calls from the district and reporting to the zone leaders. I’m a fan of this tradition. : )

I saw Elder Adams at transfers last week. I really enjoyed talking to him again. He’s doing really well and is now serving in Blackpool, so I’ll get to see him at zone conference. I also saw the rest of the people from my grand old district in Manchester South. Of the six of us who were in the district when I first got there (me and Elder Adams, Elder Davies and Elder McIntosh, and Elder Phillips and Elder Pettersson), 5 of us are training new missionaries this transfer.

On Saturday we had a district leaders’ council meeting. Elder Powrie and Elder Key (the zone leaders) gave some really good training. Elder Powrie really likes etymologies and often includes them in his trainings, and we talked a lot about the words “council” and “counsel” and the purpose of meeting together. Good stuff. I like our zone leaders. I went on exchange with Elder Key (from Fort Worth, Texas) yesterday, and we were able to do some good teaching together and get a bunch of new contacts.

I’ve scheduled a (practical) driving test for the 6th of October. That’s very soon! I’ve taken a lot of driving lessons by now and I’m doing pretty well with English roads and the manual transmission, but it’s going to be a big challenge for me to pass. Apparently most people don’t the first time around. So I’m a bit apprehensive, but I’m going to do my best to be ready! Wish me luck.

Elder Pimentel

Notes from Sam -- 18 Sep 2008

Yvonne's baptism; maybe you can sense how shy she is from the photo
With Elder Durkin at Yvonne's baptism

Dear family,

This will be a short one. But hopefully a good one.

Yvonne's baptism on Saturday went well. It was pretty exciting for me too. She was very nervous and shy the whole time, and apparently at first she didn't want to wear the baptismal dress because it was so ugly ("It makes me look like a 1930s woman," she said), but it all worked out in the end. Her confirmation on Sunday also went smoothly. Now comes the hard part - not letting her slip away.

I'm training again, which is great! Elder Stevens, my new companion, is from Sussex, but from the time he was 11 to the time he was 16 his family lived overseas - three years in Houston and three years in Hungary. He came back to England for his last two years of high school and did the IB program (English, Math, and Physics higher level and French among other things at standard level). A couple of his friends from school are freshmen at Stanford this year, so they'll be sophomores with me when I get back. He's the oldest of five, three of them teenagers (two sisters and a brother) and one two-year old brother. Sound familiar at all? : ) Needless to say, we are getting along pretty well. Elder Stevens hasn't met any of our investigators yet, but we have a very busy day ahead of us today, and we're going to get plenty of opportunities to teach together. He seems like a really intelligent person and a great teacher, so I'm excited about the coming transfer.

Lots of people are training this transfer. 19 missionaries are leaving and 21 have come in, which is apparently the biggest recorded turnover in EMM history. Elder McIntosh in my district now is training, so we have two new missionaries in the district. It's an exciting time to be here!

Dad, I'm excited for you in your new calling. I'm sure you'll do great. I would definitely like to have a ward mission leader like you in one of the wards I serve in. Ruth, it sounds like things are going great at Harvard.

We're needing to find new investigators right now. I haven't been the most diligent in speaking to everyone (see Preach My Gospel chapter 9) this past transfer, so I need to recommit myself and do better there. I think having Elder Stevens here will help me live up better to what I can do. I'm expecting to see some miracles as we really do our best to find those who are prepared to hear the gospel. They're definitely out there.

Elder Pimentel

Notes from Sam -- 10 Sep 2008

Elder Durkin with members and a cake shaped like the Preston Temple
District Leaders' Council with President Bullock
Dear family,

Yvonne is still committed for baptism on Saturday. We showed her the font at church on Sunday and went over the baptismal interview questions with her later that evening. She’s very nervous, about the interview, about the baptism, and especially about the confirmation. Her bad experience at that evangelical church still bothers her. The gospel principles lesson on Sunday was about the gift of the Holy Ghost, and she asked if there was any way she could get the Holy Ghost without having people lay their hands on her head. : ( I feel bad for her. But she is definitely ready for baptism, and we’re excited for her. We have the baptismal program all sorted out now. Unfortunately, Yvonne is gone all week since her college has sent her on a school-sponsored camping trip (what timing!). She gets back on Friday morning, though, so we will do the baptismal interview on Friday evening and have the baptism on Saturday. I’m looking forward to it a lot.

Chorley 2nd Ward also has a baptism on Saturday, a young man who works in the MTC cafeteria. They’ve told me a lot about him and he sounds like a really great person. I haven’t met him yet, but I’ll be conducting his baptismal interview on Friday. I’m a bit nervous about it, but not too much. It sounds like he’s really solid and really prepared.

Blackburn Ward has had a ton of baptisms this calendar year, but unfortunately none of them (except one who moved to a different ward) are currently considered active. : ( Elder Durkin and I have struggled even to get into their homes over the past month, but this week we managed to have proper visits with a couple of the families. It was a poignant experience. I can see glimpses of how wonderful it must have been to teach these people and help them progress towards baptism, and I can see that they’re good people. But they aren’t growing in the gospel like they could be. One man we spoke with has relapsed heavily on his several addictions. The first time we got into his home he was really drunk, apparently worse than Elder Durkin had ever seen him before his baptism. It seems like he still feels warmly towards the church and wants to be involved, but these addictions just have control over his life right now. Another woman we visited kept on repeating to us “I don’t want to go to church,” and telling us that she was happy as she was and felt that God was happy with her, but we could tell that she was lying to herself. I’m hoping that I can help some of these people at least make it back to church. But it’s really up to them to make the choice. The whole experience has motivated me to think more deeply about Yvonne’s baptism and wonder if she has the support she’s going to need. The two female young single adults in the ward who are close to Yvonne’s age and one of the bishopric members have done a great job of reaching out to her, which reassures me a lot. But there’s going to be a lot of careful work to do in the weeks after her baptism to make sure the ward really adopts her. I wish I had Mom and Dad in Blackburn Ward to fellowship all our recent converts! : ) I always love hearing about all the things you do with the Blincos and how great they are doing.

I went on exchange with Elder McIntosh this week. This is our third transfer in the same district, and it looks likely that we’ll be together for next transfer as well. He’s a “sound lad,” as the locals here might say, and I really enjoy serving around him. Most of our appointments fell through, so we did a lot of street contacting, and I felt a lot of power in our work. I stopped one lady who was walking her dog, and as she was speaking to me, I suddenly felt really strongly that she had been prepared by the Lord to meet the missionaries and receive the gospel. It’s amazing how much you can learn from the Spirit in finding sometimes. The lady (her name is Christine) is on holiday next week, but we’ll hopefully be able to teach her the following week.

As a side-note, an interesting connection between me and Elder McIntosh: One time when I was in Provo with Uncle Nate and Aunt Alicia, we ate at this great sandwich shop called Gandolfo’s. Turns out Elder McIntosh used to work at the camera shop across the street from Gandolfo’s and ate there almost every day. All roads lead back to Utah in the missionary world, I guess.

It’s Ramadan, by the way. The mosque across from the chapel was packed last night – the (very large) parking lot was completely full and cars were parked all up and down the street. Eastern Promise is now closed for lunch (much to Elder Durkin’s and my chagrin). A whole new set of advertisements for a Muslim charity has also been rolled out on bus stops in Blackburn: pictures of beggars or cute Asian children with phrases like, “He’ll either be fasting or starving,” or “He’ll either be begging or thanking God,” and the tagline, “This Ramadan, you can decide.”

On our way to the chapel yesterday, Elder McIntosh and I spoke to a Muslim man who was very convinced of the truth of his religion. I actually kind of admired his boldness and understanding of the importance of knowing the truth (even though he was a little confused about what the truth was). I think he would have made a good zone leader. My favourite thing that he said was, "[If you don’t accept Islam] you are one hundred percent going to hell. And hell is not a good place." : )

The other night we ate an African meal with Yvonne’s family. It was pretty delicious. The meal consisted of a white starchy mush made of maize flour (a bit like very thick grits, maybe) a savoury stew with tomatoes, onions, and chunks of beef in it (maybe a bit like some of the Ethiopian dishes I’ve eaten in the past), and finely-chopped greens. You ate it by taking a small clump of mush, scooping up stew and greens with it, and eating it. It made me think of Ruth learning from her friends at ISH how to eat with her hands. When I first tried to do it, I burned my fingers on the mush, which was very hot. Everyone laughed and Yvonne’s mum went and got me some silverware so I wouldn’t hurt myself. But I really wanted to eat the proper African way and once the food had cooled down a little bit, I did fine. Cool!

It’s Elder Durkin's last week. It seems like every other person we meet asks us how long we have left on our missions, which can’t be easy for him, but he’s dealing with it OK. The baptism will help us to stay focused this week, I’m sure. The ward is going to miss Elder Durkin – he’s built up a lot of good relationships with the members in his seven months here. Hopefully I can maintain that with my new companion.

Thanks for all the great letters I’ve received recently. Grandma Bay sent me a nice one filling me in on JaLeen’s mission, Leo and Jamie’s wedding, etc., which I enjoyed a lot. Does anybody have JaLeen’s mailing address? Or alternatively her missionary email address? I’m glad Ed’s Eagle project is all but finished. Make sure you all get some sleep! Ruth, I enjoyed your note a lot. I pretty much laughed out loud when I read about “Chernobyl: The Musical.” It sounds like something you’d read about it in a book. Please keep me posted.

Elder Pimentel

Monday, September 22, 2008

From Jon 9/18/2008

Subject: Baptism. Baptism is what bwings us togevah today.

[Ed note: On 9/14 Gary, Doug, Ribeka, and Tiara surprised Jon by showing up at his church service and baptism. Gary played the piano and organ at the baptismal service. Jon spoke briefly with Ty and Daniel on the phone while Gary and Doug's family were there.]

Nyob zoo!
What an awesome week! The baptism was most enjoyable, and I'm sure Dad has filled the rest of you in on the experience. We got to play stump the organist with Dad as the stumpee---just like back home.

Kari was the first one baptized, and she and Elder Murdoch had to waltz around in the font before he figured out which way they were supposed to stand, but it went fine after that was sorted out. Next was Richard and Bro. Sawle. Brother Sawle was very careful with the prayer and said it correctly, but in anticipation of the lifting up, he didn't get Rick all the way down (confounded elbow!). The third try was the charm though. Jeff was baptized last. He is tall. As he was going down, he lost his footing and slipped, which plunged him down hard and caused a large wave of water to flood the area above the stairs. It looked like a Judo throw called the Major Leg Reap (Kent knows what that is).

Richard and Jeff are way excited for the Holy Ghost this Sunday. Richard asked me to confirm him. I've never done it before, and I'll probably get nervous. I'm not now, but as it gets closer there will likely be some butterflies. I'll have to make sure I don't eat any caterpillars.

We were walking around downtown talking to people early this week and we stumbled upon the shooting of a film. They had closed off that part of the street and there were a bunch of old-timey cars with white-walled tires parked on the side of the road. I don't remember what the film was, but it was cool to see all the lights and equipment.

The ward certainly enjoyed the surprise Pimentel posse. Everyone was gushing about how cute Tiara is. I was certainly shocked to hear Daniel's voice, which seems to have plummeted off the treble clef, leaving many seats vacant.

Elder Jones got transferred to Bloomington, and is being replaced by Elder Chapel. The rest of us are staying the same.

[Ed note: One of the photos Jon sent was of a Liahona sitting on a welcome mat. Gary asked him what the 2nd spindle was for. Jon replied:]

Dad asked about the Liahona... On ours, the second spindle/needle points north, and the words just appear on their own. I don't know about the one Lehi had.

Well, it was fun to see some of you and talk to some of you! Thanks for all the fish---er, snacks!

Sib ntsib dua,
-Ewda Muaj Yeej

Thursday, September 11, 2008

From Jon 9/11/2008

Subject: Zoo siab ua luaj‏

Nyob zoo cov uas kuv hlub os!
Everything is ready for the big baptism this Sunday. We have Richard and Jeff, and the North Side has a woman named Kari (which still sounds like "Carrie" even though it has a 'K' instead of a 'C', and only one 'r', and an 'i' instead of an 'ie'). Richard is bringing a posse of friends and co-workers, and it will be held shortly after church, so there will be quite a crowd. Richard asked Brother Sawle to baptize him, which almost made him (bro. Sawle) cry. The thing that worries me is that Richard is a large man, and bro. Sawle is 72 years old...I hope his knees don't give out. Jeff still hasn't decided who he wants to baptize him.

Often we suggest to women who are baptized that they tie their hair back so it all goes under. As we were leaving Richard's house yesterday, I realized that I needed to make sure he knew about it to. His hair is the same length and color as Krissee's. Krissee offered to let him use her white scrunchy. ;)

That's neat how more cousins are going to BYU now. Maybe Megan will still be attending when I get back. Jordan will probably be heading off to Singapore or Thailand on his mission by the time I return, so I might not see him.

I love you all! Keep sharing the gospel with your friends!

-Elder Muaj Yeej

Pimentels around the world

I spent a few minutes today checking out the World Names Profiler on the web. The WNP uses data on 300 million people in 26 countries (which have a total population of 1 billion), so there's definitely a large margin of error here, and Portugal and the Azores are apparently not among the 26 countries, but I thought the results for "Pimentel" were interesting anyway.

Here's a screenshot of the Pimentel world map. If I've done this right, I think you can click on the maps here to see them larger:
As you can see, the USA overall has a "low" frequency of Pimentels. Spain is "high," and presumably Portugal would be, too, if data were available.

Here's a North America map:

No surprise, I guess, that California has a "high" frequency of Pimentels compared with most of the rest of the USA. Massachusetts is also high in Pimentels.

Zooming in a little more:
Those two darkest counties are Merced and Kings.

Some other statistics:
Country Frequency per million

SPAIN 56.99
CANADA 45.39

Geographical region Frequency per million

Top cities

Top given names

Fun, huh?

Thursday, September 4, 2008

From Jon 9/4/2008

Subject: Muaj peb tug uas nkag lub nceeg vaj

Nyob zoo!

Jeff has been led by the Lord to the true church, and he knows it. The Lord told him in a vision to find the true church before His second coming, and when Jeff prayed and asked the Lord to lead him to the true church, an image of the missionaries flashed into his mind. A couple weeks ago he was praying again to be lead to the true church he felt a strong prompting, almost a voice in his mind, that told him to go down the hill to the park and leave his name and number. Who should be at the park, but the missionaries! Since then he has come to church and the labor day picnic, and we have taught him 4 times in 5 days. He prayed silently as we taught to know if this is what the Lord had been leading him to or if he needed to keep looking. He says he has no doubt that this is the true church, and he doesn't want to waste any time getting baptized. It's hard for him to be patient because there are a lot of things that need to be taken care of to arrange the baptism and teach him all the lessons. He will need to come to church another time first, and everybody else's schedules require him to wait until the 14th, the same day as Richard. He's so excited. The only thing that's hard for him is that he LOVES coffee, and drinks tea a lot too. He said he loves the Lord, and he will keep His commandments, but it will be hard. He committed to stop, but he will miss it.

Richard was interviewed yesterday and he passed. He is planning on having a bunch of his co-workers attend. We asked him if he was excited, and he said, "Well, sure! I mean now I can get eternal life; who wouldn't want that?"

In conclusion, things are well, and I am happy.

Hurrah for Israel!
-Elder Moua Ying

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Notes from Sam -- 3 September 2008

Elders Johnson, Powrie, Pimentel & Kyambadde

Dear family,

Yvonne is doing great. We taught her in the home of one of the members of the bishopric this week. I was away on exchange, but Elder Durkin told me about the lesson. We'd planned to teach the principle of obedience and then the commandment of tithing (which we hadn't discussed at all yet). After teaching obedience, they read Malachi 3:8 and Elder Durkin asked Yvonne what she thought it meant. Apparently, she said, "It means that when I get any money, I need to give ten percent of it to the church because that's what God commands us to do." I guess she used to pay tithing in the church she attended before! It feels really wonderful to teach someone who understands everything so well.

We were supposed to teach Ryan tithing as well this week, but he got grounded and couldn't come over to the members' home to be taught. : ( The unique challenges of teaching a 15-year-old investigator, I guess. Luckily he was still able to come to church, and I think he's un-grounded now, so we shouldn't have any problems getting him ready for his baptism next Saturday.

I had a great bus contacting experience this week. I've been struggling to bus contact lately, but yesterday I was trying really hard, and I started talking to a teenager at the back of the bus on the way home. I asked him a few questions and he told me that his best friend had been killed in a motorcycle accident only a few months ago. He had a lot of questions about why his friend had died and what had happened to him, and I felt the Spirit with us a lot as I answered his questions. He was willing to meet with missionaries, later and I got his phone number. It was a perfect contacting experience, exactly what I needed to help me get excited about bus contacting.

I spent a lot of time in meetings this week. Last Thursday was zone conference, and on Tuesday there was a special district leaders' council at the mission home for all 20 district leaders in the mission. Apparently it's the first time something like that has been done in our mission for several years - usually district leaders' councils are conducted by zone leaders and held for a single zone (which reduces travel time and expense a great deal). President Bullock started the meeting by explaining that he had convened the meeting in part to "get the water to the end of the trough," and asked if there were any farmers among us who could tell us what that meant. Elder Pylant from Tennessee raised his hand and explained (in a thick Southern drawl) "Well, it pretty much means what it says - get the water to the end of the trough so the cows kin get some!" : ) President then drew a comparison to our job as district leaders - getting his vision for the mission to each of the individual missionaries. The meeting helped me really get a vision of what district leaders are supposed to do, which I think will be very helpful.

I went on exchange with Elder Johnson in Chorley on Monday and Tuesday. Elder Johnson is from Colorado (about an hour outside of Denver) and came into the mission at the same time as Elder Adams. He's a really dynamic person, very positive and excited about missionary work. He's also a talented drummer and sound engineer, and before his mission he worked the soundboard for a theater in Denver that had major touring shows pass through almost daily. I enjoyed working with him and getting to know him better. I also met a couple of Chorley's investigators, both husbands in part-member families.

Blackburn Cathedral is right next to the bus station where we tend to spend a lot of time. The original building is quite old, I believe, but in recent years some modern touches have been added - a tall metal spire, a big disc-shaped metal sculpture attached to one of the walls, etc. I'm not sure I really like the effect, but it is distinctive. The other day we were walking by the cathedral and I read an interpretive panel next to the disc-shaped sculpture. Turns out it was designed by Mark Jalland, our old art teacher from ISH! Kind of a crazy coincidence. Elder Durkin is not too impressed with the sculpture.

I love you all!


Elder Pimentel