Monday, September 19, 2011

Twenty-one and wrestling again

As I started this blog entry, I noticed that it had been over a month since the last time I wrote about what Alex has been doing.  The blog entries aren't this far apart because we are slowing down towards the end of Alex's two years of service, it is more because Alex has been very busy and has had little time to write home.  So when we get letters from him, many times that are very short with just a quick summary of what he has been doing.  After a months time, I think we finally have enough good information to make a descent blog entry. 

Oh before I forget, today is actually Alex's 21st birthday.  Alex didn't really want us to send him anything because he would just have to pack it up in about a month when he comes home.  Hard to believe that Alex's two years is coming to a close in just over a month.  Anyway, to celebrate his 21st birthday we made him a little video filled with all kinds of very embarrassing photos.  These photo range from when he was just a little kid in elementary school to the last pictures we took of him just before he entered the MTC.  We had the office Sisters in the mission office help us out a little by surprising Alex with the video.  We told the Sisters that they had free rein to show the video to as many people as possible with the goal of making sure that Alex knows that we love him and are proud of all that he has accomplished.  Of course everybody knows that you only embarrass the one's that you love the most, right?  ;-)  So if you happen to be in the Independence, MO area and would like to see a good video of Alex, I'm sure the office Sisters wouldn't mind showing it to you. 

A couple of weeks ago Alex sent us a short letter and told us that he was coaching wrestling again.  If you remember way back almost two years ago when Alex first arrived in Independence, his first area was Wamego, KS.  While in Wamego Alex received permission from his mission president to spend some of his volunteer service time helping out at the high school as a wrestling coach.  Well it appears that Alex will finish out his mission in much the same way as he began.  No he isn't back in Wamego, but he is spending some of his service time at a local high school near Independence, helping out with the wrestling team there.  Alex told us that this is kind of a poorer area of town and because of that, some of the wrestlers haven't been able to purchase wrestling shoes.  Some of the team members show up to practice each day in just their stocking feet.  If you have ever watched a wrestling match you have probably noticed that a good grip on the mat is essential to being a good wrestler.  So trying to wrestle in socks is a very difficult thing to do which leads into a great story. 

Alex emailed us one night after getting special permission from his mission president since he was sending this email on a day other than his normal P-Day.  In his email he asked if we would be able to dig up some of his old wrestling shoes and send them out to him at the mission office.  His intent was to help out some of the wrestlers by trying to provide them with some descent wrestling shoes even though they might be a little worn.  After digging through Alex's stuff which has been put away in boxes for the last couple of years, we were finally able to find some of his old shoe.  Unfortunately, none of the shoes were in very good shape.  So we decided to get online, find a descent pair of shoe and send them out to Alex so that he could give them to one of the boys on he team.  Here is where the story gets a little more interesting.  As it turned out, we found a good pair of wrestling shoes on Amazon for not too much money.  If you know anything about purchasing from Amazon, many times they are just an online presence for a lot of other smaller stores.  We were a little surprised to find out that on Alex's next P-day after purchasing the wrestling shoes, he had already received them at the mission office.  That is when Alex told us about where those shoes really came from.  The sporting goods store that had actually sold and shipped the shoes is in Lenexa, KS.  Lenexa just happens to be one of the cities in the Independence, Mo mission, so obviously the store didn't have to ship the shoes very far.  Then Alex told us that the store is actually owned by a member of the LDS church.  Who knew that when we purchased the shoes on Amazon that they were actually coming from somewhere in Alex's mission and going to serve someone in that same mission.  The latest we have heard from Alex is that the shoes had been put to good use and the team is doing great.

Being in a mission with lots of church history sites Alex, at times, runs into people from back home.  In Alex's letter a couple of weeks ago, he told us about being at the visitor's center in Independence talking with people as they toured the center.  He started up a conversation with a couple who were there and asked them were they were from.  Their response was American Fork, Utah.  Alex told them that he was from Pleasant Grove, Utah.  If you aren't familiar with the Utah Valley area, Pleasant Grove and American Fork are two cities right next to each other.  In fact there is a fairly healthy rivalry between the two high schools in these cities.  Anyway, the couple made a comment to Alex about Pleasant Grove being good but American Fork being better.  Alex said that he had to teach this couple a little lesson about Good, Better, Best (if you don't get this joke, you better re-read Elder Holland's talk from General Conference).  The couple noticed that Alex's mission plaque said "Elder Nicholes" and they told Alex that they knew a Chris Nicholes from Pleasant Grove.  Alex responded with, "hey, that's my brother".  It turned out that this couple was the parents of one of Alex's brother's best friends from high school.  They had a good conversation right there in the visitor's center and caught up on a little news from back home.

Alex sent home a few pictures this week.  About a month or so ago, Alex told us about spending some early morning time at Adam Ondi Ahman.  He described a sunrise shooting through the clouds and how beautiful it was.  I told him to get some pictures and send them home.  Well he didn't get the picture of the sunrise but he did send some other picture from around the area.

Now here is a young man who is obviously out-standing in his fields.  OK it is an old joke, but you have to admit that it is a good one and it fits the picture.  :-)

Here is a handsome group of young missionaries.  Except that one in the back doesn't look very happy.  I think he was a little sad because he was nearing the end of his mission and was finally headed home.  Someone once told me that the day that a missionary enters the MTC, the missionary smiles and his mother cries.  The day that the missionary comes home, the mother smiles and the missionary cries.  That is the sign of a mission well served.


Apparently there is a bit of a pranking war going on between the office Elders and the Sisters.  The latest in the feud is sticky notes all over the office Elder's car.  Oh the wicked web we weave when revenge is on our minds.  Watch out Sisters!  What goes around comes around. ;-)