Hey guys!!!! How are things going down there?? So I got the pictures from Masons party... what the heck? He's only 1 year old and he gets an ATV? I thought that maybe since I'm you're actual child that I would get something like that!! haha :) And I was really confused by all of those pictures.. you guys looked like you were happy and having a good time? Thats not supposed to happen while i'm gone! So I heard through an email that Kate is leaving for Vanuatu this week? I'm kinda sad that she's going to Vanuatu... I was hoping she would stay in Baltimore because lets be honest... its nothing compared to Alaska! But Vanuatu comes pretty close. Now I''m going to have some competition to see who can take the best pictures so i'm going to send one that I think will be pretty hard to beat!Editors Note: Not sure if Elder Brown's story about dropping his District Leader is true. Sounds a little fishy to me. You know his personality, likes to tease. I'll verify it next week:).
Anyways... So this week was pretty unusual! We had zone conference up in Anchorage for half of the week so we drove up there Tuesday night. All the time while we were staying there we got to stay in the mission home which I LOVE! It's kinda got that home away from home feeling. For our zone conference we wen't on a Pioneer Trek to kind of build up zone/district unity! We drove up about 50 miles from Anchorage to this area called Pioneer Peak. By far the most beautiful place i've been and that I probably will ever see! So before we hit the trail with the handcarts we did a couple of trust exercises with our district. So its kind of hard to explain but pretty much our district leader was on these stilts and he had to fall back and we were supposed to catch him. Well needless to say he kind of fell back right when this plane flew over us so we were all looking at that... I'm sure you know where this is going! So he did a trust fall from about 4 feet up and fell and smacked his back on all of these rocks in the parking lot! He was a really tough sport and kept on going but we found out yesterday that he tore 3 discs in his neck so he's in a neck brace now.. I guess our district needs to work on our unity a little bit more and maybe not getting distracted so easily?... So we started pulling the hand carts and it was so much fun! It had been raining for a while so the whole trail was full of mud. On a lot of parts we were about calf deep in mud pulling the handcart! We got to a big river and all of us figured that this was where we were going to stop since it was about 50 yards across and it was fed by a HUGE glacier in the back of the valley. We figured out we had to cross it so we had to wade waste deep in freezing cold glacial water across the river! It was pretty fun. To end it all off we had a big fire and roasted hot dogs and smores and had a devotional. Made me pretty happy :)
So we stayed up in Anchorage until Saturday because Elder Bednar was coming up to reorganize some stakes and so he was going to have a meeting with all of the missionaries! On Friday we got to go to the Anchorage temple which was so amazing! If you haven't been to the temple lately then you definitely should go see the new video! I learned so much from it! On Saturday we got to meet with Elder Bednar and there really aren't words that can describe it... along with Elder Bednar, Elder Maynes from the Presidency of the Seventy, and Bishop Causse from the presiding Bishopric were there. It was amazing to be in a small meeting with that many men high up in the church. There were only about 60 of us in the meeting with them so it was very personal. All the other missionaries in Alaska had to watch it over PVC so we got lucky. He didn't give a talk but rather we all had a discussion with him on seeking learning by faith. We were able to ask him questions and he would answer and talk about all of them! One thing that we talked about that I loved was about how he hates some parts of the LDS culture or habits we all fall into. When we pray we often pray for things that we simply want God to give to us but we aren't willing to do our part and act on our faith to put us in a position for him to help us. He used a few examples that I really liked. Example 1: All too often in our meetings we pray and say "please bless all of those people who are not here today that they will be able to make it next time". Instead of praying for that and just forgetting about it immediately after, we have to ACT on it! In order to really act on that request we would have to go and find those people who were not there that day and visit them, tell them that we miss them, and get them to come back!!!! That is just one example, but we can apply that to almost everything that we pray for. Example 2: People often pray for the missionaries asking Heavenly Father to help them find those people who have been prepared to receive them (I was guilty of this too) The way that members can actually help the missionaries and act on that prayer is to do their part and look for their own missionary opportunities. We all know those people who do not have the gospel in their lives and we can reach out to them and prepare them to receive it. "Every member a missionary". If you think about it... a huge way that Heavenly Father answers prayers is through us!
This entire discussion with him just reminded me of the scripture in James 2 that says that faith without works is dead. The way that we learn and become converted to the gospel is by exercising our faith ! Hearing Elder Bednar bare his testimony was one of the coolest things ever! It wasn't a testimony, it was a statement. He pretty much stated that he knows/has seen personally Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. There are only a few people in this world who can say that! When you're around him you just know that he is an apostle of Jesus Christ.
So one more funny story and then I'll stop writing.. So this week we were doing service for this lady we are teaching who has a bunch of dogs and were putting up a fence for her. So you're probably thinking that the fence was to keep the dogs in right? Wrong! In the last two weeks she's had two of her 6 dogs taken by wolves right out of her backyard! So we had to put up the fence to try and keep the wolves out haha! Its just so cool to be up here where things like that happen!
Well I hope you guys are having as awesome of a week as is possible without me being there!
P.S. We have a baptism with Sister Olson this Saturday and her son Leif got the priesthood yesterday so he can baptize her! So Cool! i'm pretty excited. Then we have another one set up for the 7th!