Hey there hope everyone is doing very well. No, you are not as sneaky as you thought :) - I had the notion that you were coming here for Fall Break. And hence you didn't mention anything about it it was quite clear that you were doing something of the sort. Ha, it's nice to hear some of the specifics though. I'm glad you enjoyed yourselves, those who went, at Palmyra and all of the sites that you visited. I'm looking forward to my turn to go in May; hopefully it isn't raining when I'm there. Although you are definitely right that the fall leaves are beautiful. I think the peak, here at least, has past and everything is slightly beginning to brown-up and die. I finally received the letter Mom wrote last week on Tuesday (which I do read the day I get them ;) ha) and I have yet to receive the letter this week (ie. with Priesthood line). It seems like our mailbox is broken, ha. In response to some things from that last letter I received - yeah we missed a bit of the Sister's talk Saturday morning (thank goodness it wasn't Jean speaking this time) and the Elder's after hers. I was sure to point out Uncle Mark to Lois and the member family who we were watching Conference with. I'm not sure exactly where Lois' nephew is in Mesa - I'll see what I can do. That is a cool story, Tyler, about Elder Anderson. I wish we were able to go to the Saturday sessions of Stake Conference with Elder Bednar - he did a lot of question/answer and spoke on some incredible things I hear. I've been reading about William Stevens (from Herkimer); he is quite the man. We're trying to use family history a bit more, especially in finding new people to teach. Could you send little snippets of information about more ancestors now, as opposed to a lot of information about a single one? Thanks. What percent of the population smoke in NY? How about AZ, CA, UT? How does the US compare, percent of smokers-wise, to European countries? I just found out in President's email that a woman I taught in Albany was baptized this weekend! It was a very pleasant surprise and a testimony that the harvest is the Lord's. It doesn't matter so much if I sow the seeds or harvest, etc... the joy in bringing others to Christ is all present.
This week certainly has been one to remember. Saturday was a great time receiving training from Elder Paul B. Pieper of the 70. I was in Liverpool, NY - the farthest west I have been in my NY experience (odd that you would have been so close to me, no?). He trained a lot about how to answer questions ourselves (ie. questions that we personally have in life, questions that others have, etc.). He taught how we must first understand the doctrine, then principles, then the application. It was very interesting how he explained it; rather than give us a fish he helped us learn how to fish ourselves. He also talked a lot about faith, hope, and charity. It was very uplifting and inspiring. He is very big on conducting meetings under the inspiration and influence of the Holy Spirit, so he wanted to know what was on our minds and train to it, etc. After the training out of the 40-45ish missionaries that were present, Elder Pieper chose about 10 to be interviewed by him. Not that there was any special criteria to have this interview - but guess who he chose to interview first? It was pretty neat talking with him privately for about 5 minutes. He asked questions like how I'm doing, what is the most meaningful thing that has happened to me on my mission, among others. He extended thanks from President Monson to me for serving. I certainly won't forget it. It was a fun day, too, to be able to see Elder Stratton and others who I haven't seen in a while. I saw Elder and Sister Timothy there and they said something about you guys not being at some class or something? Ha, I didn't know what it was exactly. But they like you guys in Ithaca. Yesterday was just as great. Elder Eyring of the 70 and Elder David A. Bednar were here in Rome for the Utica Stake Conference and the reorganization of the stake presidency. Elder Bednar's remarks were centered on the reality of revelation. He spoke about 3 things specifically which witness to him of the incredible revelatory process: first, the process that takes place in finding the new Stake Presdient; second, the coordination of talks at General Conference; and third, how missionaries are assigned to labor in specific areas. With each of these three he allowed us to "come behind the curtain" and hear more about the process and shared specific stories from each on how incredible and real revelation is. Just prior, Elder Eyring talked a little about revelation and used one of my favorite scriptures to teach with (1 Nephi 16:28-29) which relates the liahona and us receiving revelation. Faith, diligence, and heed is what is needed; heed is definitely my favorite part of that. Unfortunately, the turn out to stake conference was quite poor from our investigators - we were a bit disappointed but understand it happens in the Lord's way. Lois went to visit family in Pennsylvania (and do missionary work, I'm sure) for the latter part of this week and she wasn't able to attend. But she's back and I'm looking forward to continue helping her come closer to Christ. A few things are in the works right now and are close to very exciting new investigators who are "the elect".
Elder Farrens and I may be hitting range balls today. It should be a good time. I hope you all have a great week and know of my love for you. Thanks for all that you do for me.