Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Putting your training into practice

Alex has had a really great few weeks.  In the last entry we told you about the baptisms that have happened in Burlington lately and how much success these missionaries have had.  Well, this week has been just as exciting.  Alex and his companion have been teaching a relative of one of their recent baptisms and now this person has also decided that they want to become a member of the LDS church as well.  Every time Alex writes to tell us about the people he has been teaching and how they have felt the spirit and decided to become members of the church, Alex end his sentences with multiple exclamation points !!!!!  He has been really excited about the work in Burlington and about the newest members of the church in that branch.

Another big moment or rather, week long series of moments, happened when Alex was able to attend the leadership training classes for missionaries.  The missionaries are being introduced to several new lessons and being taught how to listen and teach by the spirit more.  The way that Alex described it to us was that they were up and attending training classes from 7:30 in the morning each day until 5:00 in the evening.  Alex went on to tell us that he never new that he could actually enjoy 36 hours of church in one week, but he did.  And he loved it.  Alex told us that when he got back from all of the training, the best part was putting everything that he learned into practice and seeing how well it works.

In addition to the week of missionary training, Alex was also able to attend a Stake priesthood meeting in Topeka as well.  He told us just how exciting it was to go to the priesthood meeting because a lot of the people that he met while serving in Lawrence were also there.  He got to see the Bishop from the Ward where he served as well as many of the other leaders from that area.  Then while traveling from Topeka to Olathe for the training classes, they passed through Lawrence so he got a chance to drop by his old stomping grounds and say hi to even more people that he knows.  All in all this week of training and meetings was a very spiritual and fun week for Alex.  Besides all of the training, he got to hang out with many of the other top missionaries in the mission, play a little basketball on his P-day and even buy a "super sick nike k-state shorts at tj maxx for only $15!! Legit!".

There was one last story that Alex told us about that happened to him while he was in Olathe.  One night Alex and several other missionaries had the opportunity to meet and talk with an older gentleman who also happens to be a Pearl Harbor survivor.  This WWII veteran told these missionaries all about his experience at Pearl Harbor and how he was actually standing on the deck of  the USS California as the Japanese fighter planes were attacking.  During the attack this man watched a Japanese Zero fly just above the water in the harbor right directly at the ship that he was standing on.  In fact this plane flew so close that he could see the face of the Japanese pilot that was flying the plane.  This was actually a very rare experience for these missionaries because there are only about 10% of the surviving WWII service men and women still alive today.  And of that 10%, only a small fraction actually served at Pearl Harbor during the attack.  Hearing a story like that from an actual Pearl Harbor survivor is pretty amazing.  Then to top off the night, these Elders were able to lay their hands on the head of this man and give him a priesthood blessing.  I'm sure that this will be one of the mission experiences that Alex will never forget.

The Bishop of our Ward recently visited Independence Missouri and while there, met several of the missionaries.  Of course being Alex's home Ward Bishop, he asked these missionaries if they knew Alex.  It turns out that one of the Sister missionaries that he talked to, had also just returned from the training meetings in Olathe.  We mentioned this to Alex and he told us that this Sister missionary was part of his training group during the week so he got to know her quite well.  Alex told us that she was a really nice girl and probably one of the best sister missionaries in the mission.  It is always fun to hear from people who have come in contact with Alex even if it is kind of an indirect meeting.  There is still a connection there and we are always happy to get any news we can about how Alex is doing.

Transfers are coming up again and like every other transfer, no matter where Alex has been, he really wants to stay where he is and not get transferred.  The reason why is because he really gets attached to the people, the Ward or Branch and the missionary work in the area.  In fact he gets so attached that wherever he is becomes the best place in the mission.  So far Alex has served in four "best places" and I am sure that he will have an opportunity to serve in many more before his time is done.  He loves it in Burlington and really wants to see it continue to grow. 

As always, Alex included some more personal experiences in his letters.  In some of these experiences, Alex talks about the testimonies of the people that he has been teaching and just how much the message that the missionaries have brough, mean to these people.  These kinds of experiences have really made a big impression on Alex in letting him know that where he is and what he is doing right now, is the right place for him to be.

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