Greetings from Saratoga Springs, New York! It's great to be able to hear from you all again this week and by the sounds of it you all seem to be doing well. That's awesome. I can't believe it is already this time of year - Mom's birthday, Thanksgiving, and the upcoming holiday season. Crazy! I know the outcome of the ping pong tournament is now uncertain because I won't be there but I hope it still goes great, ha! Thank you Papa and Nana for sending the awesome package this week, it was totally a surprise! Regarding the music question, and mention of the resolve back to strictly the rules in the white handbook: I still plan to only listen to MoTab and hymns (obviously renditions) simply to maintain the sacred Spirit of this call. There is nothing in this life, for anyone, worth losing the Spirit of the Lord over. The companionship of the Holy Ghost out here is more apparent than it has ever before been in my life - and it's obviously because of the lifestyle and "rules" to which we obey. I don't plan or even desire to deviate from that. Realistically, as appropriate, in this case there are definitely songs that are conducive to the Spirit but as a general rule of thumb this is the course I plan to continue to pursue. Yeah, the white handbook is still the same. Anyway, so the lights are up on the house in Mesa. How awesome! Let me first say in response to Dad's comment - this is the first year I haven't helped do them since as long as I can remember. (I was fortunate enough to do them last year during my Thanksgiving trip home, silly). Ha, just kidding but I hope they look good! Stay faithful to the lights, Mom.
But on a more important and relevant note, I had a fantastic week this week. Saratoga is for lovers - or I mean, I love Saratoga. Seriously, this place was made for me; I love it so much here. This week was full of really neat experiences and teaching, I'll do my best to make mention of the best ones. I really wish I could just wear a helmet cam that recorded everything happening and you were all filled in...but I suppose email will suffice for now. Basically, at this time we are teaching 15 awesome people. I'll give a quick run down of those I have time for.
-Dawn & Sophia. Awesome. Mother and daughter. Going to be baptized on 12/4! It's all fantastic! They love it and are progressing ideally. So exciting.
-Roger. scheduled for baptism 12/18. Possibly going to happen; he's been busy, out of town this weekend and we're not entirely sure of his preparedness. His wife Missy, who we're also "teaching" may be holding him back, we'll have to feel it out this week and see whether we are to press on or if time would be more effectively spent elsewhere.
-Jesse. 9 year old son of a less-active family. Planned on 12/18 for baptism. More than likely this will happen; we're really excited and simply hoping that the whole family comes around with it, to then obviously support and allow Jesse to really continue conversion.
-Sandra. Baptism on 1/8. Totally going to happen; she is amazing. Progressing very well. Found out at church yesterday she met President Hinckley, then Elder Hinckley probably, on a plane when she was little. Recognized his picture immediately. How cool! She's utterly prepared.
-Shawn & Shawny. Father and son. So awesome and accepting. Finding us referrals to teach. They're scheduled for 1/8 but it will need to be pushed back for an anticipated birth, but very excited and wanting to be baptized and talks openly about it. We're teaching his girlfriend too who really is enjoying it and we're getting her on the same page with it all. Some things will need to be overcome but what we have mentioned and taught already has been incredibly well received.
-Adam. This week we went by this former investigator. He is 19ish and simply knows that the church is true. Seems to have concerns about baptism but we plan on addressing those and setting him this week!
-Andrew and Lauren. CHECK THIS OUT. Andrew was a Head Quarter referral we received this week and picked up as an investigator when we contacted him. His grandmother is an active member and he knows quite a bit about the church and said he is interested now in really looking into it, etc. Awesome guy. But listen to this, he now is living with a girl. She is from Mesa and totally played club soccer with Paige! Lauren Baumgarten (Bomb-garden). Do you know/remember her? We walked in when we got to their place and she looked oddly familiar. I highly doubt I even saw or talked to her when Paige was playing with here but it was interesting. We got talking and she said how she went to Dobson High School, graduated in '06. We started teaching and out of no where she was like do you have a sister named Paige? haha, she was saying from the last name and how much I looked like her that she guessed we were totally related. It was way sweet, she was asking about her and everything; surprised to hear she is just in Ithaca. It was a really really cool experience and allowed us to build a pretty sweet relationship with them. She's in the nuclear power navy program here which is pretty intense. We're planning on teaching them this weekend again and hope to be able to help them out! Way sweet.
Anyway, this week was really cool. I had the privilege of giving 2 blessings this week. It's incredible how the Lord is able to work through you and magnify your priesthood. We recently had some ward missionaries called and they're so helpful. One is a 20 year old guy that is so cool! He was with us all day yesterday driving us around and to our appointment because he's in a lull of no school or job. He's thinking of going on a mission but I don't know what's holding him back. Such a smart and fun guy though, it's so nice. Tremendous blessing to help us get around and things. Oh, and not to mention provided us with a spontaneous meal last night because our meal fell through. I feel like I'm rambling but everything here is incredible. I love it so much and can honestly and truthfully say I wouldn't prefer being anywhere else or doing anything else than this right now. It's cool how as we are so busy and constantly thinking of others and their needs and what to do next, etc how the thoughts and concerns about yourself disappear. I pray I can become more selfless, like my Savior.
This upcoming week is going to fly! We are eating at the bishop's and the Badgers on Thanksgiving! Friday we get to go to Utica for Elder Stratton's Return and Report! I'm way excited; and Thursday night we'll sleep over in Albany because of it. Sweet! Dawn and Sophia have their baptismal interview Saturday morning. Because of that I'll be on exchange in Greenwich so our District Leader can do that. (Yes, the skunk place.) Well, I love you all so much and hope you have a great week filled with Thanksgiving and Birthday! I send my deepest love and concern for you all!
PS. I had a great 1/2 birthday ;). I can't believe how fast time is going. Crazy.