I apologize for the redundancy but, as always, it is so awesome to hear from you all and get your updates! In Arizona it sounded like a laid back and fun week then a busier weekend; very cool. That's wonderful about the U health announcement, and perhaps not so wonderful about the football game. Oh well. Sounds like Ithaca had a good week too. I didn't know that about Elder Israelsen; he was in a tri-panionship there right? I wonder what was the cause for his leaving. I'm sure between my and your inside scoop we will get word. That's hilarious, Mom, you talked about the name "Isaiah" and its meaning. The day before I got your letter and read that, a lady from the ward called us and asked us the meaning of that name (for a new baby being born) so I looked it up just prior, ha random. That is nuts about Tyler King, wow scary and sad. My journal is perhaps 3/4 filled and I am pleased to report I still have not missed one day writing in it! I don't have any update on the flight attendant from my flight over here who goes to Cornell. I gave his info to the Elders over there when I got here but no idea since; to be honest they probably forgot about it, sad. So I got the package! :) Thank you so much for the Turkey Month stuff, ha. I always look forward to and love getting a new tie in those, very nice thank you. Wore it to church yesterday and going to wear it to Zone Conference tomorrow. The CD's are awesome. The cookies were great and fresh as well as the banana bread. And on and on; it was wonderful thanks so much it means so much! As well as, obviously, the letters included. Thanks. Speaking of which, Ste definitely owes me a letter. Love you man. So in response to some responses about last weeks email and being stressed or whatever..basically it's kind of funny. When I was emailing last week it was definitely the peak of my stress just with our bus passes being expired, etc. Then after it all was awesome. We got a ride from members to the bus depot to get passes, they bought us food, and dropped us off at TJ-maxx like we asked (no I didn't get anything, ha). And the week only went uphill from there (pun certainly intended regarding "uphill" and to be understood later).
So, I'm almost positive I have said this in previous emails and have always meant it, but this time I indeed mean it as well when I say: this has perhaps been one of the best/most special weeks of my mission thus far. In preface, we saw so many miracles this week it is easily unbelievable. On Tuesday we went out with a member to a less-active and part-member family's home. They have a 9 year old son who hasn't been baptized, Jesse, who wants as well as the parents to do so. So we are working with him in progressing toward baptism (on December 18) as well as activating the parents and family. On Wednesday, the most notable happening was helping move in a man (Phil, 21) from Oneonta who has met with missionaries there for 3 months. He has things he needs to overcome in his life to become fully converted to the Gospel, but we hope to help him out as he willingly keeps commitments we leave him. What's more fantastic, though, is he moved in with his sister, Sandra (24), who is incredible. Phil loved going to church in Oneonta so we got he and his sister to come! (Which was difficult because they live 30+ minutes away from the church and don't have transportation). Anyway, more to come on that later. Thursday, we went to a man's home named Shawn who had met with the missionaries here 3-4 months ago but lost track of them when we moved a few miles away. He is so sincere and awesome. We set he and his 9 year old son to be baptized on January 8 and it's very likely to happen. So on Thursday at the end of the day we had 6 people committed to be baptized with very realistic dates and 10 (ten) people committed to church. That's crazy. Friday was a great day, saw Jesse and less-active family we are working with who's been coming to church. Saturday was funny. A bus we planned to take to see Shawn doesn't run on Saturdays so we went down to a different town and worked and tried seeing some people. After not much success and some tracting we were waiting to catch a bus back to our apartment to eat, when who drives by and stops but the Badgers! Ha, they took us out for pizza and wings. So amazing I can't even tell you how awesome they are. After that, listen to this, we had to contact a referral we got from Salt Lake, but had no means of getting there other than biking. We rode 8+ miles, no joke, uphill at least 80% of the way to get there. It was insane. Such a funny time. Long story short, we got there (hoping she'd even be there or that it was a legit referral as she hadn't answered our phone calls before, etc) and she was awesome! Best friend is mormon and going to Byu, visited her recently and went to temple square, etc. We're going to teach her more this week. And to top it off we were able to get a ride home from her dad in his truck (it was going to be dark riding home and stuff). Way good. Finally Sunday. This is incredible, we ended up having 11 committed to come to church and we had 8 investigators show up! It was like running a 10 ring circus! It was so awesome though! Then later that night we went over to Sandra and Phil's place. Prior to going over E. Stratton and I discussed setting Sandra with a baptismal date and we were unsure which date to pick. So seeking inspiration we prayed. In our prayer E. Stratton asked that we might be enlightened and that the date that we choose will have a special meaning to Sandra. Fast forward to the end of our first lesson, we invite her to be baptized on January 8 and she agrees happily. Then going to explain that that is her 25th birthday, and how awesome that is. And ALSO, how for the last while she has felt that this birthday would make a turning point in her life. HOW COOL IS THAT? Too cool. Nah, but really cool. It was so humbling and incredible to see and be a part of. In short, we have 7 investigators committed to be baptized right now! It's amazing. We had 8 investigators at church this week. And, we found 7 new investigators! Simply, things are going amazing here and we are so busy it is crazy. But crazy, good. We have a lot of support and help which makes things a lot easier and actually possible. I love it out here. I've never been more immersed in the work; and I've never loved it more than I do now.
I hope you all have a wonderful week and stay safe. I love you all so much and again can't express how much your love and support means to me. Thank you so much!
PS- this is the only picture we took this week. it was this morning right before we left, so that's what I look like now. I haven't worn my glasses too often since my new contacts are sikkk but occasionally it's fun. Love you.
PS- You may enjoy this, I've never done this before. Here is an excerpt of my email that I emailed President Bulloch. Faith has been a huge focus lately, with him and me. And I realized I didn't mention anything about it so here is something from that email:
"Elder Stratton is doing very well and it's clear that he has great faith - one of the many things I desire to learn from him. This week has maybe been the best week of my mission up to this point, by way of seeing others coming unto Christ. I want to help you understand the kind of week we had; not to become boastful of ourselves "for as to [our] strength [we are] weak," but as Ammon explains I too would like "to boast of my God, for in his strength [we] can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land" (Alma 26: 12). My heart is full and I'm convinced we saw the many miracles we did this week because of faith as well as obedience. This week we set 4 investigators with baptismal dates (making a total of 7), we had 8 investigators at church, and found 7 new investigators. I mention this, as well, because it has helped me understand the great aspect of faith in the work even more so. In last week's Weekly Planning Session Elder Stratton and I prayerfully considered our goals for the week, seeking inspiration for each key indicator specifically (before we planned "how" we would accomplish the goal). To my joy and wonder looking back at these goals we accomplished all but one of them, "contacted referrals." In short, I know that faith is a primary driving force in seeing mighty miracles. Of course there are other significant forces as well, such as diligence and obedience, for faith without works is dead. But faith, in my mind, is standing most high. I pray that I can increase my faith. My faith in investigators. My faith in finding. My faith in Preach My Gospel. My faith in myself. My faith in my Savior."