Hey there! I hope everyone is doing well all back in their respective residences. As always it is awesome to hear from you and how well you are all doing. Sounds like you're settled and things are more normal. This week has been pretty cold, not going to lie. When we went out this morning the van said it was -2. Yep, below zero. That's pretty cold. And last night we were out tracting for about an hour and it was pretty cold. Thank goodness the gloves arrived on Saturday! Thanks so much for that as well as all of the other sweet stuff. I was nervous the tie was going to be pink, great choice though! I'll talk more about it later, perhaps, but I've been trying to make sure I'm being as obedient as I can - including wearing only ties that are "conservative in color, pattern, length, width.." But yeah, I can't believe all of the sickness that was going on at home! I'm glad you guys are better though. I got the letter from last week (with the memory card) as well as the letter from this week on Saturday the same time as the package. I appreciate it all so much. The craziest thing I've eaten is home made sushi and this straight seaweed salad that was pretty nasty. Other than that, though, it's been really good. The pictures Ben (Lewis) put in the email, from your blog I believe, didn't show up but it sounded like you had a pretty awesome time. That's awesome E. Shrader is there in Ithaca; he is an awesome kid.
So this week was a pretty good week, definitely not normal but rarely is there ever a 'normal' week I feel. Pday last week on Tuesday was good. Wednesday we had to help orchestrate the transfers and make sure everyone had rides and knew what was going on. The weather was crazy that day. Thursday, oh my goodness, there is a funny story Thursday. We went in to get the car fixed and were going to 'Weekly Plan' while that was getting taken care of to be effective at UAlbany near by. Turns out it's not as close as we thought walking there. Long story short when we realized we were only like half way there we decided to make some "snow chairs" over in some trees off of a busy road and plan. Most ridiculous idea and plan ever. Anyway, many details aside, after climbing a snowy hill to get there, there were picnic benches (snow and ice covered) and we thought perfect for planning today. We made it about 20 minutes of freezing cold planning with all our warm gear on and it just wasn't happening. We decide to just go back, and luckily by that time the car was fixed. Ha, I wish that description did it justice; oh well, you can use your imagination. Later that day, though, we taught Tony (the man who came to church last week who asked for a ride). He is so sincere and we set him with a date for baptism in March. This week really was a roller coaster with the work. We saw some great blessings as well as some unfortunate happenings. As a whole, though, we are looking forward with faith, excited for the future. We have Tony and Dennis with dates in March. Dennis came to church this week! And we're seeing him tomorrow! There is so much work that can be done here, it is nice having 3 of us. So Friday, E. Boyakin and I drove to Utica (nasty weather that day) for Zone Leader Council. Whoa, this was awesome. We meet in the High Council room all at a "roundish table" and it is exactly that, a council. It's cool. The underlying discussions and themes of it all were faith, obedience, and accountability; evaluating increasing all of these in the mission. The most crazy thing to note, though, is missionaries are now allowed, and encouraged, to get on mormon.org. We are to get on 1 hour a week, other than on Pday, to familiarize ourselves with it. We can make a profile if we want, can show members about it, and everything! The January Ensign article on the new mormon.org explains it really well. We have new pass along cards we can use directing people there, and it's really exciting all of the things we can do with it! We're working already with 2 recent converts here to make profiles so we can direct people to their page as we feel they could relate, etc. So cool! So we get to train the missionaries on this at their district meetings, 2 tomorrow and 1 on Wednesday! Should be awesome. With all of this 'freedom' it raises the opportunity to exercise our agency righteously and therefore receive a greater endowment of faith and the Spirit. As President put it, there will be casualties (people misusing this privilege and blessing), but those who use it for the purpose intended will see great blessings. Obedience is directly correlated with faith. The more willing we are to obey and make sacrifice, the more abundantly we will be blessed with faith and the Spirit! And we are also preparing for our training at Zone Conference a week from tomorrow where we are having members come in and act as investigators or normal people where we practice door approaches tracting. Hilarious. E. Potter came back with us from ZLC and he is here now. He is a great missionary, perhaps one of the most diligent missionaries in the mission. It's really fun working with him and having 3 again. The dynamics of a threesome are definitely different from normal but we are working well together so far and only continue to grow in unity each day! Follow up on the investigator we gave the promise to last week...he stopped about 2 days in unfortunately. We're still teaching him but we'll see how it goes from here. He feels some pressure as his wife is a member and us sharing this with him but we think, and he says, it'll happen but maybe a little slower than we would have liked. The Lord's hand is in it though there is no doubt about that. We will have a good week this week, I'm excited for everything happening and the strength I'm gaining out here.
I love you all so much and appreciate your love and support always! Have a great week and continue to strengthen your faith through obedience to our loving Heavenly Father's commandments.