As always, so wonderful to hear from you all. You are the best at emailing and keeping me posted with how you are all doing; it's such a blessing. It sounds like you all had a great week and Halloween weekend. Awesome! Ha, it cracks me up how universal Trunk or Treat is around the nation; what a funny people we are sometimes. That's great though and it was great to see all of the pictures you attached! Ste, yes I have played basketball on a Pday it was actually a couple weeks ago with Elder DB at a nice, new Rec. center here. Ha, we challenged these two black (real black, not your fake face black :) ha that's hilarious!) guys (one of them we knew as a son in a less-active family) and totally won. Can't say that I did too much but it was pretty fun and hilarious nonetheless. Pdays are typically pretty low-key around here though without a car. And we just realized this morning our bus passes expired with the beginning of a new month so now I don't know what we are going to do today and how we're going to get things done..anyway, more on that later. That is awesome Ste and Dad got to go on the camp out. I can remember being in 11 year old scouts like it was yesterday, over at the Chapmans. Yeehaw. Good times. Jackson looked awesome in his costume, not to mention his parents too. ha! So cool. I appreciate the emails and that lightning visits is a pretty cool idea. We'll definitely have to try that. Fortunately here, too, the members starting this week as it's colder now have one priesthood holder go out with us (and drive us around) 4 nights a week. We've been doing splits 2 nights a week before now and this should be a great blessing 1 member 4x especially with a new missionary here who would be less capable of doing that. Anyway, the Ithaca costumes looked sweet as well. Last year in Provo with the crayon costumes seems like just yesterday, I can't believe it. That's cool word got through about my companion and stuff already, such a joke.
This week has been perhaps the most busy, stressful, and crazy week I've had. Tuesday, transfer day, I basically was just in Utica all day waiting for the new missionaries to come. Yeah, chatted it up with the Woods; he is hilarious. It was a weird feeling basically sitting around all day (we had trainings and stuff but it was still different). Finally they arrived at like 5:30 and Elder Stratton came up and told me he was my companion. (They had brief interviews with President in the airport before he left for his Mission President Conference, ha so weird and glad I didn't have to do that). I was really excited when I saw he was my companion and got talking with him. He's from Hurricane, Utah; ha, driven through there a few times. He's really excited to work and get things done which is fantastic. Seems very skilled and I couldn't be happier about it. Had I got a new missionary companion unlike E Stratton I don't know how I would have been able to handle it. We got home way late on Tuesday and quickly tried to get him unpacked and somewhat settled. Wednesday was absolute crazyness - we had to let him email home to let them know he was good, get our bikes from the church, shop, and somehow still help people come unto Christ. If you could have seen us with Wal Mart bags and a trash can on the bus then walking that with our bikes back home it was a sight to see. His first day was still good though we actually got a referral from a member in the neighboring branch driving home from Utica; and we were able to get in contact with him, teach him, and set him with a baptismal date. Pretty legit. Also that night we taught Dawn and Sophia who are still doing awesome. The rest of the week was good but equally busy and hectic. I'll be honest, I don't consider myself one who really gets stressed out too easily, but lately and even now, I definitely am. I have the desire to be my absolute best in obedience, diligence, etc in setting the tone for E Stratton which is a constant struggle to always be pushing yourself that hard like that. Also, since all the planning and means of carrying out the work primarily rests on my shoulders at this time my mind is constantly centered and focused on the work. This is the way, I suppose, that it should be, but it's hard and tiresome. I hope I'm not relying too much upon 'my strengths' and not enough upon the Lord and His. Through Him everything and anything is possible, I hope it's His power and His will I'm placing first. Saturday was maybe one of the coolest, funnest, busiest days out here. The day consisted of teaching 3 lessons: Wendy (the Las Vegas self-referral person) and actually her fiance as well; Dawn and Sophia (we taught the Word of Wisdom and it went really well); and Roger (the referral we received just Wednesday). Good things are happening. Then at night we attended the ward party. Chili Cook off and Trunk or Treat. We had Dawn, Sophia, and Wendy come! As well as less-active families, part member families, and nonmember friends of members. It was really quite effective actually. Then, yesterday, Halloween was interesting and fun. After church we had a dinner appointment but while they were finishing preparing it we knocked a couple doors. The first door the guy told us we really pulled off the Mormon Missionary look, as he was handing us candy thinking we were trick or treating! (ha, it was 2:00pm!) It was quite the fun conversation with us telling him, no we're the real deal. Anyway, walking around the street at like 4:30 starting getting weird with people in masks and stuff all over. We gave the grim reaper a pass along card; pretty ironic don't you think? Ha, but we were in last night from 6 on doing our weekly planning session (President moved it to have it then because of the craziness). And now I'm here now. I've never been more immersed in the work than now; it's daang hard but we're seeing some really awesome blessings. We randomly ran into a guy who missionaries used to know and go over a few months back but lost track of him because he moved. We're planning on seeing him this week - as well as our other investigators we weren't able to see this week you may be wondering about. We are busy, we are doing our best. I suppose that is all we can really do and all the Lord can really ask of us. I pray that I can live up to it. In short: I'm very happy, busy, time is flying by, and loving it although this is very hard and making me stretch and grow in ways I've never before experienced.
Again I appreciate your words, prayers, thoughtfulness, and love. I love you all so much and I hope you have a great week! This life is the time to prepare to meet God.
PS. I look forward to getting my package! :) thank you so much!
PS. I knew you all would LOVE the Ute costumes. They are the Dennis family, the previous bishop dentist hookup guy and sweet wife. Classic.