Monday, September 20, 2010

A mission is busy, busy, busy...

"Busy" seems to be the key word for the past few weeks and that is what Alex has been experiencing since his transfer to Manhattan, Kansas and his new assignment as a zone leader.  For the past couple of weeks he has only had a limited amount of time to even write home.  Even on his P-day he has been busy taking care of all of the things that needed to be done.  Alex gave us the rundown of how his first week went...
"Ok so here goes for this week! So wow I don’t think I have ever had so many meetings in my life! It is usually not this bad but this week was just a freak accident. On Monday night we had to leave to Independence so we could be at zone leader council on Tuesday. So that took up most of Tuesday and we didn’t get back until that evening. On Wednesday we had district meeting for the Manhattan district and that took up a good chunk of our day, and after that we had to drive out to Junction city to help move the sisters out of an old apartment. On Thursday we had to drive an hour and a half to Salina for their district meeting and of course we always have lunch after and then the drive home so that took up a huge chunk of Thursday. That night we had to drive down to Wichita so we could go to a leadership conference down there and that took up the entire day of Friday. So of this whole last week we only got one day to proselyte…lame!!! But the meetings were all really good and I have been learning a ton!"
And that didn't even take into account the time spent organizing the vehicle situation for the entire zone, meeting with the Stake President and High Councilors and then anything else that just happens to pop up.  But the one thing that he did say at the end of all of the craziness is that he has never had more fun on his mission as he is having right now.  Through all of the busy times, one thing that Alex is learning is how to organize better so that he is able to take care of all of his new responsibilities.  He told us in his last letter that he is having to simplify some things in his life so that he can spent more time focusing on his mission and serving the Lord.  He told us that this mission experience is really a once in a lifetime thing and now is the time to make sure that he serves as a missionary 100% of the time so that he has no regrets when his two years as a full time missionary are done.  When we read this, it really showed us the maturity level that Alex is achieving in the decisions that he is making at this time of his life.

Well Alex reached another milestone in his life this last week.  He is no longer a teenager.  That's right, Alex is now a 20-something (minus the "something").  He didn't really tell anybody that it was his birthday because he didn't want anybody to make a big deal out of it.  So if you happen to live somewhere in Manhattan Kansas or the surrounding area and just happen to know an Elder Nicholes, well guess what, Alex had a birthday and he is now 20 years old.  So wish him a "Happy Birthday" the next time that you see him, especially from his parents and family.

Even though Alex didn't really tell anybody about his birthday, he told us that it was a really great day for him.  First of all, he and his companion were able to baptize a woman that they and the Elders who were there before Alex, had been teaching.  So for a missionary, having a baptism on your birthday is probably one of the best ways to celebrate it.  Alex told us that the baptism went really well and that there were a lot of the Ward members in attendance.  He said that the Ward where he is currently serving is very missionary minded which really helps to make the missionary work there a lot better. 

As it turned out, there were a few other people who somehow found out about Alex's birthday.  Alex told us that while he and his companion were filling the baptismal font before the service, he got a phone call.  When he answered the phone, the next thing he heard on the other end was a bunch of people singing "Happy Birthday".  At first he wasn't quite sure who it was and then he figured out that it was a group of his favorite people from the Lawrence 2nd Ward where he had served for several months last winter.  Alex told us that it was really great to hear from them and that it was probably one of the best birthday presents that a missionary could receive.  He still isn't quite sure how they tracked him down and got his phone number, but he is really glad that they did. 

This week Alex gave us a little more information about what they are doing as volunteers in the community.  If you remember in some of the past blog entries, Alex has talked about being a volunteer wrestling coach, raking leaves in the neighbors' yards, helping out at the community centers and various other volunteer services.  But this one kind of took us by surprise.  Alex told us that they have been doing volunteer work at the Sunset Zoo every Tuesday.  He went on to tell us all about how wild it is to be sweeping the sidewalks right next to a bunch of crazy Snow Leopard cubs.  He talked about how cool it was to be working next to the sloth bear exhibit and to see a big sloth bear hanging from a tree about 40 feet in the air, eating leaves.  I'm sure that the next time that Alex sends home his memory card from his camera, we will probably see a bunch of pictures of all of the wild animals from the zoo.  Maybe there will be a few pictures of him at the zoo and hopefully he will be standing on the outside of the animal cages. ;-)

Finally Alex mentioned a pattern that he has noticed lately about the Wards where he has been serving.  For whatever reason, Alex seems to be drawn to the 2nd Ward no matter where he goes.  In Lawrence he served in the Lawrence 2nd Ward.  Now that he is in Manhattan, he is serving in the Manhattan 2nd Ward.  All of this doesn't seem to be that significant especially when you consider all of the places he has served and will serve, until you consider that he came from the Battle Creek 2nd Ward too.  For some reason, the 2nd Ward just seems to be the right place to be for Alex.

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