Monday, December 19, 2016

December 12, 2016

Dear Family,

I don't really have much to tell you this week. The Christmas initiative is still going fairly well. We haven't gotten anybody to teach from it yet but hopefully that will come.

Both Elder Rarotoga and I will be staying in the area another transfer so we'll be here for Christmas. It's also Elder Rarotoga's last transfer in the mission. Actually, literally half my district will be going home at the end of the transfer. Should make for an interesting time. It'll be a mass funeral.

In other news, it cooled off for a couple days this week. Like it got below freezing at night and everything. There were signs everywhere about how to keep your pipes from freezing. Then yesterday it warmed up again. That was nice.

Have a good week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

They finally made a mission map on that has all the changes from the last year. The last one was out of date by my first Sunday in Texas. Since I arrived I think there have been 7 new wards and 2 new stakes created. Thought you might me interested to know. It will also help with figuring out where my areas are.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

December 5, 2016

 I wonder who is getting the foot massage for Christmas

 Dear Family,

It's been pretty much your average week over here. The Christmas initiative of course began this week so that's exciting. It's been a little different from last year. A year ago I mainly used it as a tracting tool and shared it with as many random people as possible. This year we've been helping the ward members get excited about it so they can share it with their friends. I think that will end up being more effective in the long run.

The First Presidency devotional was really awesome last night though. I liked how focused on the Atonement and Plan of Salvation it was. It's really sad to see people forget about those things during Christmas. It seems like everyone down here either gets caught up in money and stuff or just don't enjoy Christmas at all. We were lucky enough to be able to watch the devotional with some members. It's always fun to be with families around Christmas. The night got me thinking about why missionaries are specifically told to call home on Christmas. You call on Mother's Day out of tradition but the white handbook rule is call "your parents on Christmas and one other time during the year (usually Mother’s Day)." I think the reason is that a missionary's job is to testify of Christ and that includes to family. Christmas is the best opportunity to do that. Anyway, looking forward to it! I'll most likely call at 9:00am or 3:00pm your time your time. I'm not sure what the plans are yet. Plus, there's a small chance I'll be transferred next week.

This week I was also able to go on exchange with Elder Mendoza who's from Honduras. We got to share the Christmas initiative with a few families which was fun. It was interesting to do language study with him too. He has a pretty good vocabulary but has some trouble with grammar. He kept asking me questions about things people say that don't make sense to him and it made me realize how bad most English speakers are with grammar when they speak. All I could say most of the time was, "Well Elder Mendoza, that is not the way English was meant to be spoken so I don't know how to help you there." I did my best to explain words like "gonna" though.

That's about as interesting as my week got. I'll keep you in the loop as far as Christmas and transfers go.

Elder O'Brien (the younger)

Friday, December 9, 2016

November 28, 2016

Dear Family,

Again, this week seemed to be mostly preparing our area for better weeks to come. Neither Elder Rarotoga or I were terribly familiar with many of the investigators in our area book so we read up on them a lot and made plans to see them. We were able to visit a few of them but unfortunately none of them were interested in the least. We worked quite a bit with the members this week though. We've been trying to get the wards excited about the Christmas initiative so they can share it with their friends and introduce them to the Gospel! In the south it's pretty safe to share these kinds of things with anyone and everyone. I mean, how can you be offended by a Christmas service initiative? A member of our mission presidency once said, "the best thing about Texas is that everyone already goes to church. The worst thing about Texas is that everyone already goes to church." 'Tis truth, especially during Christmas.

In other news, Thanksgiving was this week. It still feels a month late to me... I had a few people ask about Canadian thanksgiving and what kind of traditions we have. Basically, I told them it's the exact same. I guess some people struggle to wrap their heads that. That and the fact that we have normal bacon.

It was a fun day though. We did our weekly planning in the morning and then went dinner at a member's... and then for more dessert at a couple other members'. Everyone wants to feed the missionaries on thanksgiving so you just kinda have to pace yourself. I think the best part of the day was the fact that I finally had some stuffing that tasted almost like mom's good ol' recipe. Only almost. Oh, and somebody made that apple/snickers "salad" I really like and put it in a pie. There's no stopping me now that I know people here make it too!

The day after thanksgiving you better believe there were some crazy Christmas light arrangements going up. The lack of ice or snow here makes it a little safer to go crazy with the lights I think.

Well, have an awesome week!

Elder O'Brien (the younger)