Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Time to make a move...

Alex is getting transfered!! Can you believe it? After only just a few short weeks in Wamego Kansas, Alex is being transfered to Platte City, Missouri. Welcome to life as a missionary. Just when you think that all of your hard work is starting to pay off and there is no way that you could be transfered now, that is when it happens. But even though Alex won't be in Wamego to finish what he and his companion started, the work will go on. One of the downsides of getting transfered at Christmas time is that now his Christmas presents from home are going to have to catch up to him in a new city. Oh well, Alex will just have to focus on the real meaning of Christmas this week and enjoy his presents from home a little later. Even though Alex doesn't want to leave Wamego, he also knows that there is probably a good reason for this transfer and that there are more opportunities ahead.

Before Alex left Wamego, he wrote to tell us about all of the good things that were happening. They have been teaching several really good people, the youth in the ward have been very involved with the missionary work there and the Wamego High wrestling team is doing well. Alex and his companion even had the local newspaper come and interview them for a story about all of the volunteer work that they have been doing.

Last Saturday night Alex and his companion went to the Wamego branch Christmas party. They also invited several of the people that they are teaching to attend with them. Alex mentioned in his last email that he and his companion sang, I guess, during the talent portion of the party. He said that they sounded OK but they did better during practice. What do you expect from a wrestler! ;-)

Well, with Christmas coming up this week, we also have the opportunity to talk to Alex on the phone. He is planning to call us on Christmas day. That will be the best Christmas present we get this year.

Merry Christmas to you all!

Monday, December 7, 2009

In the thick of everything...

As usual, Alex is right in the thick of everything and anything that he can find. He wrote to tells us that Thanksgiving was crazy. Alex and his companion celebrated Thanksgiving over and over again as they were invited to share Thanksgiving dinner with several different families. He really didn't give us a lot of detail about how all of the dinners went, but I am sure that the food and the company were excellent. Thanksgiving dinner is always good and missionaries can always make the best of a good dinner.

Alex just keeps telling us how wonderful all of the experiences are on his mission. The only problem is that there is only so much detail that he can provide in a letter home once a week. So we will just have to be satisfied with statements like:

"Again things here are going super well, and we are working really hard. We are having so many awesome experiences!!"

For all of you who know Alex well, you know that he has the ability to take any situation and find the fun in it. The more we hear about the things that he and his companion are doing, the more that statement is true. They are working hard doing all of the things that missionaries do, but the way that Alex makes it sound, you would think that missionary work is just non-stop fun. Well, when it comes right down to it, that is exactly as it should be. Finding the fun in everything even if that thing is hard.

Alex and his companion have been doing a lot of community service around Wamego. I mentioned before that they have been volunteering at the High School and raking leaves for many of the neighbors around town. By the way, I looked up the population of Wamego and there are about 4000 people who live there. Given that, they probably won't be running out of yards to rake any time soon ;) Alex has mentioned over and over again how appreciative the neighbors have been and that some of them have even sent "Thank You" cards and baked them banana bread. I remember Alex saying before he left that he wasn't going to get fat on his mission. Well with all of the Thanksgiving dinners and banana bread, he better be on a serious exercise program. But leave it to missionaries to not let any good deed go unre-rewarded. Now they are thinking about baking cookies for all of the neighbors. The fun just never stops with them :)

As you can tell, Alex and his companion have met a lot of good people around Wamego. Some of them have been very interested in what the missionaries have to tell them and have decided to allow Alex and his companion to teach them about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is a wonderful thing which just makes all of the hard work worth all of the effort. They have also been getting a lot of help from some of the members of the branch in Wamego. That is always a good thing and really makes the work go a lot smoother.

Here is a fun story for some of you, especially for those who went with Alex to those early morning temple sessions over the past few years and then came back to our house for breakfast before going to school. Well Alex is still trying to keep up that tradition. He may not have the opportunity to attend the temple, but he mentioned in his last email about how some people he knows dropped their house one morning to say "Hi". Well I guess Alex just couldn't resist inviting them in for breakfast before they headed to school. Some traditions just seem to work no matter where you are.

Christmas is getting closer and Alex mentioned in his last email that it feels a little weird to be away from home on Christmas. This will be his first Christmas away from his family, so please send him a letter or a Christmas card. He loves being out on his mission but also loves hearing from people back home. Especially at Christmas. And to any of you who live in Wamego, thanks for making Alex feel welcome.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Finally we are back in Kansas (Toto)...

In Alex's last email, he filled us in on life as a new missionary in Wamego Kansas. We also received the memory card from his camera and it was full of pictures and videos. We thought it would take him at least a few months to fill up a 4 gig memory card, but leave it to Alex to make sure that we get the full scoop on what he is doing. Included on the memory card were two videos that he made with his companions. In the first video Alex takes us on a tour of his MTC dorm room and the dorm rooms of the other Elders in his district. He showed us things like the unmade beds, white shirts hung up in the closet, care packages sent to some of the missionaries by their families and treat drawers filled with candy and other snacks. For those of you who are familiar with MTV Cribs (which I'm not), Alex's version was called MTC Cribs and the spotlight crib was Club 207 (his dorm room number in the MTC). All pretty exciting stuff especially the part where he pins his own picture up next to the pictures of the other Elders' girlfriends as if he was the heart breaker that left all of these girls behind.

The next video followed the same format except this time Alex is in Kansas and the "Crib" is the house where he and his companion live. This time the tour starts out in the "General Authorities" guest room, which is basically the main room in this tiny house, proceeds into the dining room and then into the kitchen (all of which are about 4-5 foot steps apart). The tour of the refrigerator was most exciting followed by the pantry and upstairs bathroom. The cinematography made the whole thing just riveting. The video then continued into the basement, past the laundry room and into the bedrooms. Again, just very exciting stuff. You would really have to see it to believe it. But now we have a very good idea of where he lives, what he is doing and who his companions were and are.

I think I mentioned in the last post that Alex got permission to volunteer at the local high school to work with the wrestling team. Well, that is exactly what he did and he didn't waste any time doing it. Alex announced to us, both in his email and on the video, that he and his companion are now volunteer assistant coaches at Wamego High School, home of the fighting ... (hmm, I'll have to find that out later). Anyway, Alex said that the team needs some work and hopefully he can help fill in some of the gaps. The funny store about his first day as an assistant coach is that while Alex was out working with the team, his companion (still dressed in his suit as a good missionary should) was standing by talking with one of the team managers (a student at the high school). As they were watching how the practice was progressing, the team manager turned to Alex's companion and asked if he was Alex's Dad. We never heard what the response was, but on the video he just acknowledged that "yes" he is a very mature looking individual. As Alex's real Dad, I wish I looked that young. ;)

Alex also had a first taste of what it is like to be a missionary who is always prepared. Alex said that last Saturday night the 1st councilor in the Branch called and asked if Alex would give a talk the next day at Sacrament meeting. Of course as a good missionary would, he said yes and prepared to speak the next day. According to his email, the talk went very well. Alex was assigned to speak on 1 Nephi 19:23. He started out speaking on the assigned topic but then, again as a good missionary should, quickly switched the topic to "Every member a missionary". One of their goals is to work with the members and get them more involved in the missionary work. All I can say is, nice bait-and-switch and I mean that in the best possible way. ;)

Besides volunteering at the high school, Alex and his companion have been trying out some new ways to meet and serve people in the community. Since it is fall and Kansas is filled with big leafy trees, they thought it might be a good idea to rake leaves. Apparently the "serve first and teach later" idea has really been catching on. Who knew?? Oh yeah, the Prophet and General Authorities have been teaching that system, like, forever. Anyway, Alex and his companion went out one day to try their new idea and started raking the yard of one of their neighbors. It took them 5 1/2 hours and over 50 trash bags full of leaves before they finished. But after they got done with the leaf raking job, the owner of the house came out and started hugging them and telling them how much he loved the Elders. I guess the Prophet was right, serve first and teach later really seems to work. What are they going to do once all of the leaves in Wamego are gone? Maybe they will have to switch to shoveling snow. Do they get a lot of snow in Kansas??

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Three weeks in the MTC and off to Missouri

It has been 1 month since Alex left to serve the Lord as a missionary in the Independence Missouri Mission. He spend exactly 3 weeks in the MTC and finally left for Missouri on Nov. 11th. He was able to call us from the airport on the morning that he left the MTC. It was really great talking to him and we spent a half an hour with him on the phone. He filled us in on all of his MTC antics like dressing up in his Kansas wrestling singlet and going trick-or-treating in the dorms on Halloween. You might wonder why he had a Kansas wrestling singlet in the MTC, but that is another story. Nevertheless, since most of his mission is actually in Kansas and all of the missionaries in this MTC district were going to the same mission, the singlet kind of became their rallying flag and spent the whole 3 weeks pinned up on the wall of their dorm room.

Anyway, the letters that we received from him while he was in the MTC, all said that he was having a great time. He mentioned many times how spiritual the MTC experience was and how great it was to hear from the various General Authorities at their devotionals. Alex was called to be the district leader over 9 other Elders who were all going to the same Missouri mission. He told us many times just how wonderful all of the Elders where in his district and how he enjoyed having Elder Shepherd (from American Fork) as his companion. But at the same time, he was very excited to get out of the MTC and get to work in Missouri. On the day that they all left the MTC, Alex described it has finally getting out of jail, which is probably too strong a word, but he did say that the MTC experience was like a 3 week EFY on steriods. I guess there is nothing wrong with that. ;)

Alex has been in Missouri for about a week and a half now. Actually he isn't in Missouri at all. After spending the first day at the mission home for orientations, his first assignment took him to Kansas. The interesting thing about that is that he is actually in a small town just outside of Manhattan Kansas. For anybody reading this who is familiar with Alex's senior year at P.G. High School and everything that went into becoming a 5A Utah state wrestling champion, will remember the coaching and mentoring he received from his (actually Susan's) cousins during his senior year. The ironic thing is that his cousins all grew up in Manhattan Kansas and spent their high school years on the wrestling team there. It has only been in the last year or so that their parents moved back to Utah from Kansas. So in a sense, Alex has returned to where some of his wrestling roots came from. I mentioned the Kansas singlet earlier that became a rallying flag for Alex's MTC district. Well the whole reason why he even has that singlet in the first place was in honor of his cousins and their wrestling heritage. Funny how what goes around, comes around. To go even further with this story, in the last email that we got from Alex (which was also the first email from Kansas), Alex said that he had received permission from his mission president to go to the local high school and volunteer some of his time working with the high school wrestling team. It will be really interesting to see where that goes.

Obviously there is a lot that has happened with Alex over the last month and will be a lot more happening over the next 2 years. To put it all into a blog just isn't going to happen. But we will try to update this blog as often as possible as well as include some pictures and video clips as we get them from Alex. We have tried to tie this blog to Alex's Facebook page so that anybody that is linked to him there, will see the updates as they are posted here. I'm sure that there will also be a lot of experiences that we will not even hear about until he gets home in 2 years. But that is all OK because Alex has been called to serve a mission and that is where is focus should be. We will have the rest of our lives to catch up on everything else. If you would like more details about how Alex is doing, just give us a call or write us an email. If you would like to write to Alex, his mailing address is on his Facebook page. Feel free to write. We know he would love to hear from you.

Elder Alex Nicholes - Independence Missouri

This is a family blog site that will be used to inform family members and friends about the missionary service of Elder Alex Nicholes.