Thursday, April 26, 2012

04.23.2012 "Spring is Coming to Harrison"

Hello Everyone,

Things are going pretty well here in Harrison. This last week without the car has been a little rough to get some places, but it's still been fun. It should be  good serving here with Elder Porter for another 6 weeks.

We went fishing last Monday, even though it was windy and rainy and cold. We still managed to catch a few sunfish though, which was nice. We're going to give fishing another shot again today, so that should be fun. I don't think I mentioned that our fishing licenses expired at the end of March, did I? Well the Winters family has been very kind to us. Brother Winters actually renewed our fishing licenses for us. Not only that, but they also gave us a couch that they were going to put out on the curb (they got a new one and had no place to put the old one). And if that weren't enough, a few weeks ago they actually gave us an almost brand new bike because one of ours wasn't working at all (Brother Winters had bought the bike, rode it once, and then let it sit in his shed for the last four years). And Sister Winters is getting baptized this Saturday, and Elder Poulsen is coming down from Traverse City to perform that baptism! That should be pretty fun.

For the sake of time, I'm going to quote some parts of my letter to President Hess this week.

We're continuing to work here with a number of recent converts, which is nice. We're still working on getting with their home teachers to teach them the new member lessons, but they're doing well. We also have a few investigators that we're teaching that are doing pretty well. The Andrews family is the family that lives in the half of the house above the Cassidy family, who are recent converts (except Bro. Cassidy, he has been a member for years). We've been seeing them for the last couple months, and they have said that they would like to be baptized. We're going to keep working with them on that and try to set a date with them. Unfortunately, there has been a lot of colds going through those two families lately and they've been sick the last two weeks and haven't been able to make it to church. We should be able to teach them again this week though.

We spent a lot of time this last week doing service. On Friday we helped a group of members prepare a camp called Camp Neyati for a branch activity that was taking place on Saturday. They work ended up being a lot more than they had thought, and all in all by the time we got home it had taken up most of the day. The work was fun, however, and we were able to help out a lot. The event on Saturday went pretty well, too. There were a few less-active members there, as well as the Cassidy family, which was fun. We're hoping to start teaching their daughter Shyla, who is the only one living in the home who hasn't been baptized yet. She's opening up more and coming to more events though, so we're hopeful to start teaching her soon.
As for the investigators we've been teaching that have a date, Sister Winters is going to be baptized this Saturday at 7:00 pm, which we're excited about. There shouldn't be anything that comes up now that will change that. We're also planning on David Broniman being baptized on May 5, the following Saturday. We're going to keep working with him on that and hopefully he'll be able to make that date.
We also met with a less-active member this last week named Clifton Farnsworth. He was referred to us by the Elder's Quorum President, and he has been living in our area under the radar for years until recently when the branch received his records. He is a friendly guy, and lives in a senior apartment. We decided to teach him the missionary lessons, since he doesn't know much about the church. He has been inactive in church for most of his life. We found out that his father is a very active member out in Nevada, and it sounds like he has set a good example for his son that has made his son interested in being active in the church again. We're getting him a large-print Book of Mormon and we're trying to work with the branch to find a way to help him come to church, since he has no legs and gets around on a very heavy motorized scooter. We're looking forward to continuing to work with him.

Yesterday Elder Porter and I watched the movies "Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration" and "Legacy" with some recent converts, the Lanes. I really enjoyed watching them, more than I have before I think. It wasn't so easy for Joseph Smith and the Saints to do everything that they did. I can see parallels between those events that happened and the experiences I've had in my own life and my mission. I wrote in my journal:

"They traveled from place to place, worked hard to obey the Lord (and were blessed for it), and endured many trials, hardships, and what seemed to be setbacks. Yet the whole time, the Lord was teaching them, refining them, and moving them forward. Though at times it would have been easy for them to have been frustrated and discouraged, when it seemed as if the Lord had not kept the promises that He had made, or when it seemed as if the Lord's work itself was being frustrated, they exercised great faith in pressing forward. The Lord did not leave them comfortless. He did not forsake them. He strengthened them, and taught them and endowed them with power from on high. For the work of God cannot be frustrated by men, and as I exercise faith in Him, He will fulfill the promises that He has made unto me."
I was just talking to a missionary serving in another area (It was Elder Griffiths, the one I served in Allegan with after Elder Ralphs) and I told him a story about something that happened in the North Muskeegon area my first transfer in the mission. I don't know if I mentioned this story or not. I thought it was funny so I wanted to mention that here too.

"It was when Elder Holt and Elder Carr were serving there together. Elder Carr went on a trade-off with Elder Merrill in Holland, and I spent the day with Elder Holt. Everything went pretty well until that night. While we were sleeping, we heard an alarm go off. Elder Holt looked at the clock and turned the alarm off. We both groaned and got up. Morning always comes way too early on a mission (especially since it was my first transfer). It was still dark, and we both got up and started stumbling around and getting ready. Elder Holt went to the bathroom, and I walked into the kitchen. I looked up, blinked a few times, and read the time on the microwave- 3:30. "What?? This is stupid!" I went back to bed.

In the meantime, Elder Holt took a shower, got dressed, and ate breakfast. He looked in the bedroom a few times to see if I was up yet, but I slept right through it all. I guess he thought I wasn't the most obedient missionary and that I was just going to sleep in. It wasn't until he was all done with everything that he looked at the clock and saw that it was... only 5:30. He was ticked, but tired enough that he didn't really care. So he went and curled up on a recliner in the corner of the living room and went to sleep.

An hour later, my alarm went off, and I got up. I looked over at the bed next to me and it was empty. I blinked and looked around. The apartment was dark. The bathroom was empty, the kitchen was empty, the study room was empty, I didn't see Elder Holt anywhere. "Oh great", I thought. I was still half asleep, but I thought hard about what to do next. I had never expected to have my companion completely ditch me. I was just on my way out the door to go look outside the building for him when I glanced over and saw Elder Holt, fully dressed in shoes and a white shirt and tie, sleeping on the recliner. It was a really weird morning.

It turned out that Elder Carr had decided to mess with us on the trade-off (he was always pranking Elder Holt anyway). He just set the alarm as a casual thing. At best he thought that it would just wake us up in the night and annoy us a bit. He had no idea it would turn out like it did. He got a pretty good kick out of it. We all had a good laugh when we traded back the next day."

Have a great week everyone!

Elder Trevor Casper

04.16.2012 "Harrison Transfer #3"

Dear Everyone,
I hope you're all doing well still. It's been rainy here the last few days, but luckily we have the car right now. We're going to try to go fishing again this P-Day, and I guess we'll see what happens with the weather. Fish seem to be so unpredictable. We went fishing last Monday, and three of the Cassidy kids came with us. Apparently the fish were only biting in one spot in that whole area we were fishing in. One of the three Cassidy kids caught a fish, and I caught one, and Elder Porter found the one spot where the fish were, so he caught about 20. We ended up with about 13 or 14 sunfish that we took home, along with a couple crayfish that the Cassidys caught. The sunfish have a little bit of meat on them, so we're going to eat those. The crayfish we ended up giving to the Cassidys, because Trinity wanted to keep them as pets. Crayfish are kind of cool, they just look like mini lobsters really. They're fun to play with.
The Cassidy family was the family that was baptized when I first got here. The Dad was already a member, and his wife and three of his kids were the ones who were baptized. Their kids are Shyla (15 or so), Charles (13), Brandon (12), and Trinity (11 or so). They also have an older daughter, but she's already moved out and we've never met her before. They're a pretty fun family, and we've seen them a lot lately. We usually go over there Monday nights, and we've also been coming over once or twice a week lately to help them with a couple projects that they're working on at their house. We helped them destroy a brick chimney with hammers a few weeks ago, which was fun. Right now we're helping them build a dog pen outside. We're also working with Shyla too, since she was the one who wasn't baptized and hasn't been too interested yet. We're hoping to be able to teach her so that she can be baptized too and join her family when they go to the temple to be sealed next June. Still, we're trying not to pressure her though, it has to be her own choice.
I don't have a ton of time today on the computer, but here is something I was thinking about as I typed out my weekly email to President Hess-
Some days are tougher than others. Sometimes it almost seems like I'm on a roller coaster as I go throughout the week. Some days I feel like I'm being taxed to my very limits. I don't think that is all my fault. I feel like the Lord knows exactly where to put me where I'll be stretched to my limits mentally, spiritually, and physically, so that I can grow. I suppose it's like physically stretching, you have to go to your limits in order to become more flexible. Somewhere in all the confusion on some of those crazy days, there's a divine pattern at work.
As I prepared to go on a mission, I realized that the trials that I went through before my mission had made me stronger and prepared me for my mission. I knew that my mission wouldn't be easy, but I thought that the preparation I had gone though would have been sufficient to help me get through my mission. Now as I've been on my mission, the future isn't quite as breezy as I had thought it might be. With my mission has come its own set of trials and stretching, which are sometimes pretty strenuous. Though it would be nice to think that the future after I return home on my mission will be easy compared to the experiences I had on and before my mission, I have learned that that will not be the case. President Eyring's words in the last few General Conferences have really helped me understand that, as he has talked about preparation in the priesthood, spiritual staying power, and enduring trials in life. I have learned that I cannot endure well, without the Lords help, the trials that He wants to give me for my growth. I believe that the experiences I go through on my mission will help prepare me for the blessings and trials that will come ahead in my life. These experiences in my life, will, in turn, prepare me for after this life, and for the eternities. After all, exalted perfection is a long process. Again, there is a divine pattern in all of this in which I can see the hand of the Lord. If this life is to go through experiences that will help us to become more like Him, than He must not want me to waste any of my time here! I don't think I would want Him to let me waste it either.
Well, since I'm short on time I'll also just quote what I wrote about Sister Winters and David Broniman too, in case anyone was wondering-
Here in Harrison, we are continuing to work with our two investigators with a baptismal date. Sister Winters was interviewed this last week, and everything went well, but because of the complications with Brother Winter's priesthood we all discussed it and ended up moving the baptism back to April 28th. She should be all set for that date, and she is looking forward to it. Brother Winters (his records of priesthood ordination were lost) was re-ordained to the Aaronic Priesthood, and we're hoping that he might be able to be re-ordained to the Melchizedek by the 29th, but we're not sure if that will be possible. If he is, then he will confirm Sister Winters. Elder Poulsen will be coming down from Traverse City to perform the baptism on the 28th.  
David is doing okay too. We talked with him and decided to move his baptismal date back to May 5th, since it's been difficult to meet with him and he has a lot going on in his life right now. We have a few commandments left to teach him about.
Keep them in your prayers!
Have a great week everyone.
Elder Trevor Casper

04.11.2012 "Another Transfer in Harrison #3"

Hello Everyone,

This last week hasn't been too bad here. First off though, I'm writing on Wednesday because the internet has been down in the Harrison library this week, and this is the first day we've been out of town. I'm actually in Clare right now; it's another town on the southern part of my area. Luckily, we can use the library here, and we got permission to email today.

The weather has been nicer here this last week. It seems like Spring has finally actually hit, not just the warm spell where we got up to 80 for a week a month ago.

Interestingly, we actually got transfer calls today. Normally they would be this Friday, but the Mission President is going to be out of town this Friday so he called us a little early. It looks like I'll be staying here with Elder Porter then for this next transfer. It should be good, Elder Porter's not a bad guy and it's often fun serving with him.

We also had interviews this last week with the Mission President. Those went pretty well. They were held in a city called Midland, which is about an hour away from Harrison. We had to get a ride from a member, Brother Winters, on his way to work. The problem was that he needed to be in work by 6:45. So we got up at 5:00, and made it to the church in Midland by 6:30. No one else would be there until 9:00, so we just wandered around for a little while, took a nap on the foyer couches (they were comfortable, but it was too cold to sleep. Next time, we're bringing a pillow and blanket), and then shot baskets in the gym until everyone got there.

We were able to dye Easter Eggs with the Cassidy family, the family that was baptized the first week that I was here, which was fun. We usually see them at least once or twice a week. They're a pretty fun family.

Saturday mornings here we do something called Branch Workout, I'm not sure if I've mentioned it before. For two hours we, the two Cassidy boys (12 and 13), President Lee (the Branch President), and anyone else who wants to come, meet at the church and warm up and then play basketball and dodge-ball, and a dodge-ball variation called spud-ball. It's pretty fun. We have a good time with it every week.

One place in the scriptures that I've studied recently is in 2 Nephi 9. There are a lot of powerful teachings in that chapter. A few days ago I was studying verses 10-15, which talk about the Final Judgment. It was interesting to compare what that would be like for the righteous (Alma 5:14; 2 Nephi 9:14; D&C 121:45; Moroni 7:48) to what it will be like for the unrighteous (Alma 11:13-15; Mormon 9:3-5). I've read 2 Nephi 9 a number of times before but I've never realized what a great chapter it is. I love how we always learn new things as we continue to study the scriptures. I know Heavenly Father teaches us through them often.

Hope you all have a great week!


Elder Trevor Casper

Friday, April 6, 2012

04.03.2012 "A Busy Week in Harrison"

Hi Everyone,

Sorry about the late email this week. It is Spring Break here and the computers were really busy yesterday, so we have just a couple minutes today to send a quick email to President Hess and a quick one home.

Things are going well here. Last week was a crazy week, partly because we traded off the car on Wednesday and don't get it back until next Wednesday. So of course, while the weather over the last few weeks was nice and record-breakingly warm, it rains and snows this week! It was still a good week though.

I'll talk about one quick thing before I go.

Yesterday for Preparation day was pretty fun. There was a family in our Branch, the Hamiltons, that took us down to a different part of our area to an area where a lot of Amish people live. We went and visited a couple stores and looked around. It was interesting to see everything. They had some things in the Amish stores that you don't usually find in other places. There was a lot of crafts, puzzles, Amish clothes, trapping and hunting gear, and tools and other construction supplies. It was interesting to see some of the Amish people too; I had driven past an occasional horse and black buggy on the road but had never seen many Amish at once. Something new that I found out was that they speak English very well, but they also speak a kind of Dutch-German mix among themselves sometimes. We had a good time looking at everything.

Also yesterday, we went over to the house of some members and also some people that we've been teaching. They raise rabbits, but were getting too many and wanted to butcher some. Elder Porter was good at that, and I got to learn a little bit about it and help out. I might even get a rabbit fur out of it, we'll see.

I am really grateful for General Conference. I had been looking forward to it for a long time. As I listened to what they said, my testimony of living prophets and apostles was strengthened, and I was taught by the Spirit. I know that the Apostles who spoke were called by God, and that President Monson is a the living prophet today. I am excited to share that with people! I had been praying with some questions and praying for guidance, and until the last session of conference on Sunday I didn't feel like I had really found the answer.  Then as I listened to some of those last few talks, I found, either in their words or what the Spirit taught me as a listened, some things that were just what I needed to hear. It was a great experience. I see time after time how the Lord really does hear and answer our prayers, if we are really sincere and humble and listen for the answer. 

Have a great week everyone, and Happy Easter!

Elder Trevor Casper