Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Terra -- We called the cops on our referral.

Brother Blackham made a bonfire, and we got to roast biscuits on it!! (sometimes people have to have scrunchy faces..)
I'm quite the biscuit-by-the-lake-by-the-fire cooker!
We went back to the bonfire after planning
This email may be shorter than most because I have spent a lot of time emailing others (since I can now.  Oh yeah, new rule! I can email anyone!!)  but nonetheless, it will be great. Let's hope. :]
Just doing some shopping!
This week was kind of slow, but a few interesting things happened. We called the cops on one of our referrals. It was a strange situation. We were actually parked in a neighborhood trying to find our referral, and we were making some phonecalls. There were some people standing outside this house across the street talking. A black SUV (sounds intense) pulled up, and one of the girls got in the car. As the black SUV backed out of the driveway, they rammed into a parked car across the street! The driver pulled forward, got out and looked at the car, and then drove away!! So Sister Ward and I got out to look at the car, which had big scratches and scrapes on it, and then called the cops. We got the SUV's license plate number too. And they totally saw us watching them. Anywho, the next day we went to go contact our referral, and it ended up being that house!!! That house where the girl was picked up from!!!! So...we didn't contact her, haha. We were afraid that we'd get beat up. So we're waiting on that one for a certain member to come with us. 
Happy almost Easter! 

Last night these two nine year old twins were trying to guess my name. I told them it started with a T. One of them guessed "teacher", "tinkerbell", and "tyler"... aaaand I really don't think I look like a Tyler. Do you think I look like a Tyler? I don't think I look like a Tyler. But they are cute, nonetheless. These two girls say really funny things. 

This is at a member's house. Their door handle is way at the bottom!!

This week I've been praying a LOT for the gift of discernment. We know our investigators pretty well, and it's just a matter of knowing how to keep them progressing and being persistent enough not to push them away. I've been struggling with knowing how to help them and keep them going and encouraging them to not give up. I love them all so much and I want this so badly for them! If they only knew how wonderful this gospel truly is!!! And how blessed their lives would be if they let it enter into their hearts fully! They're all at turning points. The adversary is really working against them. This week we went and saw Denny and Jody, and during one appointment they just argued and contended back and forth. It wasn't a peaceful environment, and we did our best to calm it down. But, it was kind of entertaining, because Jody has dentures and they kept falling out when she yelled. I had to keep in my giggles.

We often take pictures after planning, and most of them are REALLY awful and funny.  But here's a nicer one.
It's comforting to know that Nephi pondered a lot, because I ponder a lot too. And if he pondered, that means it's a good thing to do. If Laman and Lemuel were the ponderers, well...that would be different. But I like knowing that I am similar to an ancient prophet in that way. Pondering is a blessing. It's a nice release. It's nice to be able to find peace in my head when everything can be crazy and stressful around me. It's not too stressful, but I do struggle. I miss home. I miss a lot of things about being home. I so badly wish I could have been at Grandma Allen's funeral. Seeing all those pictures brought me to tears. I wanted to be there. I wanted to be surrounded by family. I wanted to mourn with those that mourn and comfort those that stand in need of comfort. That's where I struggle. I wish I could be in two places at once. I wish I could be in a lot of different places at once, but wishful thinking is for wishing wells. Not for how-it-really-happens wells. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't hope. We should definitely hope. It says in the Book of Mormon that we cannot enter into heaven without hope. So we have to have it! Hope is believing that something can happen and expecting that it will. Sounds like wishful thinking to me, and so sometimes I struggle with hope. But God encourages hope. He asks for it. So therefore, I will hope. At least I'm working on it. I lost a lot of it last week and I'm working on gaining it back and gaining even more than before. Progression is awesome, and I love it. We should all always think about how we can progress. I can tell you one way that is a great way to progress. That is by having the character of Christ. Everyone should read Elder Bednar's talk called "The Character of Christ". (see post below).  It's amazing and it changed my perspective on EVERYTHING. The character of Christ (to sum it up) is to turn outward when it is natural to turn inwards. I made a list of examples this week of how to turn outward towards others. It's pretty long, so I'll just name a few:

-If you feel like complaining, or if you're having a bad day, seek out those who are also struggling and do what you can to serve them and help them
-sacrifice what you want so that somebody else can have what they want
-do unto others as you would have others do unto you, but don't get upset if they don't do the same to you
-always be willing to give and share
-pray for the gift of discernment, and strive to discern how others are feeling
-don't make rash judgements or assumptions
-find happiness in the happiness of others
-don't find or create reasons to get angry
-don't justify situations
-think of the welfare of others before yourself
-discover attributes that you like in EVERY person that you meet

Those are just a few. My time is up! But I love you all. I love you Mom and Dad. I'm excited that I get to email more people now! It's so fun! Everyone should serve a mission! Woo hoo!! Okay. Enjoy the pictures like you would a nice bubble bath.

Love, Terra

P.S. Mom, I LOVE what you said about Jane Austen movies.  And I LOVED all of your funny quotes. Especially the Pee Wee Herman one. :] :]

Sister Ward gave me permission for this one. There's a video that goes with it. Sister Ward just can't be explained (to which I replied, "I won't put this on the blog though" and Terra wrote back, "Yes, you can!"  So, here it is!)
This is a house!!!  It looks fuzzy!!
The elders and ward missionaries really enjoy blocking us in!

The Character of Christ by David A. Bednar

Terra has mentioned this talk in two of her letters.  I thought I'd copy and paste it here on the blog since it's not easy to find online.

Brigham Young University-Idaho Religion Symposium
January 25, 2003
Elder David A. Bednar

Good morning, brothers and sisters. I am delighted to be here with you. I pray for and invite the Holy Ghost to be with me and with you as together we discuss an important aspect of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Last September I participated in an area training meeting in Twin Falls, Idaho. Elder Neal A. Maxwell presided at the training session, and on a Friday night and a Saturday morning he, the Idaho Area Presidency, and other general church officers instructed a group of approximately one hundred stake presidents. It was a meaningful and memorable time of spiritual enrichment, learning, and edification.
During the course of his teaching and testifying, Elder Maxwell made a statement that impressed me deeply and has been the recent focus for much of my studying, reflecting, and pondering. He said, "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." Since hearing this straightforward and penetrating statement, I have tried to learn more about and better understand the word "character." I have also pondered the relationship between Christ's character and the Atonement--and the implications of that relationship for each of us as disciples. This morning I hope to share with you just a few of the learnings that have come to my mind and heart as I have attempted to more fully appreciate this teaching by Elder Maxwell.

What is Character?
After returning home from the area training meeting in Twin Falls, the first question I attempted to answer was "What is character?" The Oxford English Dictionary indicates that many of the uses of the word character relate to graphic symbols, printing, engraving, and writing. The usages I found most relevant, however, relate to ". . . the sum of the moral and mental qualities which distinguish an individual or a race; mental or moral constitution; moral qualities strongly developed or strikingly displayed" (Oxford English Dictionary Online, University Press 2003, Second Edition, 1989). Interestingly, when we look up the word "character" in the topical guide of our scriptures, we discover that it is cross-referenced to the topics of honesty, honor, and integrity.
Brigham Young emphasized the significance of the Savior's character as he taught and testified about the truthfulness of the Holy Bible:

. . . the Bible is true. It may not all have been translated aright, and many precious things may have been rejected in the compilation and translation of the Bible; but we understand, from the writings of one of the Apostles, that if all the sayings and doings of the Savior had been written, the world could not contain them. I will say that the world could not understand them. They do not understand what we have on record, nor the character of the Savior, as delineated in the Scriptures; and yet it is one of the simplest things in the world, and the Bible, when it is understood, is one of the simplest books in the world, for, as far as it is translated correctly, it is nothing but truth, and in truth there is no mystery save to the ignorant. The revelations of the Lord to his creatures are adapted to the lowest capacity, and they bring life and salvation to all who are willing to receive them. (Discourses of Brigham Young, p. 124, emphasis added)

Brigham Young further taught that faith must be focused upon Jesus' character, in His Atonement, and in the Father's plan of salvation:
. . . I will take the liberty of saying to every man and woman who wishes to obtain salvation through him (the Savior) that looking to him, only, is not enough: they must have faith in his name, character and atonement; and they must have faith in his father and in the plan of salvation devised and wrought out by the Father and the Son. What will this faith lead to? It will lead to obedience to the requirements of the Gospel; and the few words that I may deliver to my brethren and sisters and friends this afternoon will be with the direct view of leading them to God. (Journal of Discourses, Vol.13, p. 56, Brigham Young, July 18, 1869, emphasis added)

The Character of the Lord Jesus Christ
In a message entitled "O How Great the Plan of Our God" delivered to CES religious educators in February of 1995 (p. 5), Elder Maxwell specifically linked Christ's character to the infinite and eternal atoning sacrifice:

Jesus' character necessarily underwrote His remarkable atonement. Without Jesus' sublime character there could have been no sublime atonement! His character is such that He "[suffered] temptations of every kind" (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations "no heed" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:22).
Someone has said only those who resist temptation really understand the power of temptation. Because Jesus resisted it perfectly, He understood temptation perfectly, hence He can help us. The fact that He was dismissive of temptation and gave it "no heed," reveals His marvelous character, which we are to emulate (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:22; 3 Nephi 12:48; 27:27).

Perhaps the greatest indicator of character is the capacity to recognize and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. Character is revealed, for example, in the power to discern the suffering of other people when we ourselves are suffering; in the ability to detect the hunger of others when we are hungry; and in the power to reach out and extend compassion for the spiritual agony of others when we are in the midst of our own spiritual distress. Thus, character is demonstrated by looking and reaching outward when the natural and instinctive response is to be self-absorbed and turn inward. If such a capacity is indeed the ultimate criterion of moral character, then the Savior of the world is the perfect example of such a consistent and charitable character.

Examples of Christ's Character in the New Testament
The New Testament is replete with "strikingly displayed" examples of the Savior's character. We are all well aware that following His baptism by John the Baptist and as a preparation for His public ministry, the Savior fasted for forty days. He also was tempted by the adversary to inappropriately use His supernal power to satisfy physical desires by commanding that stones be made bread, to gain recognition by casting Himself down from the pinnacle of the temple, and to obtain wealth and power and prestige in exchange for falling down and worshiping the tempter (see Matthew 4:1-9). It is interesting to note that the overarching and fundamental challenge to the Savior in each of these three temptations is contained in the taunting statement, "If thou be the Son of God." Satan's strategy, in essence, was to dare the Son of God to improperly demonstrate His God-given powers, to sacrifice meekness and modesty, and, thereby, betray who He was. Thus, Satan attempted repeatedly to attack Jesus' understanding of who He was and of His relationship with His Father. Jesus was victorious in meeting and overcoming the strategy of Satan.

I suspect the Savior may have been at least partially spent physically after forty days of fasting--and somewhat spiritually drained after His encounter with the adversary. With this background information in mind, please turn with me now to Matthew 4, and together we will read verse 11: "Then the devil leaveth him, and, behold, angels came and ministered unto him."

This verse in the King James version of the New Testament clearly indicates that angels came and ministered to the Savior after the devil had departed. And, undoubtedly, Jesus would have benefitted from and been blessed by such a heavenly ministration in a time of physical and spiritual need.
However, the Joseph Smith Translation of Matthew 4:11 provides a remarkable insight into the character of Christ. Please note the important differences in verse 11 between the King James version and the Joseph Smith Translation: "Then the devil leaveth him, and, now Jesus knew that John was cast into prison, and he sent angels, and, behold, they came and ministered unto him (John)."
Interestingly, the additions found in the JST completely change our understanding of this event. Angels did not come and minister to the Savior; rather, the Savior, in His own state of spiritual, mental, and physical distress, sent angels to minister to John. Brothers and sisters, it is important for us to recognize that Jesus in the midst of His own challenge recognized and appropriately responded to John--who was experiencing a similar but lesser challenge than that of the Savior's. Thus, the character of Christ is manifested as He reached outward and ministered to one who was suffering--even as He himself was experiencing anguish and torment.

In the upper room on the night of the last supper, the very night during which He would experience the greatest suffering that ever took place in all of the worlds created by Him, Christ spoke about the Comforter and peace:

These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:25-27)
Once again the fundamental character of Christ is revealed magnificently in this tender incident. Recognizing that He himself was about to intensely and personally experience the absence of both comfort and peace, and in a moment when His heart was perhaps troubled and afraid, the Master reached outward and offered to others the very blessings that could and would have strengthened Him.

In the great intercessory prayer, offered immediately before Jesus went forth with His disciples over the brook Cedron to the Garden of Gethsemane, the Master prayed for His disciples and for all:
. . . which shall believe on me through their word;

That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me . . .
. . . that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me.
And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. (John 17:20, 21, 23, 26)

I find myself repeatedly asking the following questions as I ponder this and other events that took place so close to the Savior's suffering in the garden and His betrayal: How could He pray for the well-being and unity of others immediately before His own anguish? What enabled Him to seek comfort and peace for those whose need was so much less than His? As the fallen nature of the world He created pressed in upon Him, how could He focus so totally and so exclusively upon the conditions and concerns of others? How was the Master able to reach outward when a lesser being would have turned inward? The statement I quoted earlier from Elder Maxwell provides the answer to each of these powerful questions:
Jesus' character necessarily underwrote His remarkable atonement. Without Jesus' sublime character there could have been no sublime atonement! His character is such that He "[suffered] temptations of every kind" (Alma 7:11), yet He gave temptations "no heed" (Doctrine and Covenants 20:22).  ("O How Great the Plan of Our God," message delivered to CES religious educators in February of 1995, p. 5)

Jesus, who suffered the most, has the most compassion for all of us who suffer so much less. Indeed, the depth of suffering and compassion is intimately linked to the depth of love felt by the ministering one. Consider the scene as Jesus emerged from His awful suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane. Having just sweat great drops of blood from every pore as part of the infinite and eternal Atonement, the Redeemer encountered a multitude:

And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew unto Jesus to kiss him.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear. (Luke 22:47-50)
Given the magnitude and intensity of Jesus' agony, it perhaps would have been understandable if He had not noticed and attended to the guard's severed ear. But the Savior's character activated a compassion that was perfect. Note His response to the guard as described in verse 51: "And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him (Luke 22:51).

As individually impressive as is each of the preceding events, I believe it is the consistency of the Lord's character across multiple episodes that is ultimately the most instructive and inspiring. In addition to the incidents we have thus far reviewed, recall how the Savior, while suffering such agony on the cross, instructed the Apostle John about caring for Jesus' mother, Mary (John 19:26-27). Consider how, as the Lord was taken to Calvary and the awful agony of the crucifixion was commenced, He pleaded with the Father in behalf of the soldiers to ". . . forgive them; for they know not what they do" (Luke 23:34). Remember also that in the midst of excruciating spiritual and physical pain, the Savior offered hope and reassurance to one of the thieves on the cross, "To day shalt thou be with me in paradise" (Luke 23:43). Throughout His mortal ministry, and especially during the events leading up to and including the atoning sacrifice, the Savior of the world turned outward--when the natural man or woman in any of us would have been self-centered and focused inward.

Developing a Christlike Character
We can in mortality seek to be blessed with and develop essential elements of a Christlike character. Indeed, it is possible for us as mortals to strive in righteousness to receive the spiritual gifts associated with the capacity to reach outward and appropriately respond to other people who are experiencing the very challenge or adversity that is most immediately and forcefully pressing upon us. We cannot obtain such a capacity through sheer willpower or personal determination. Rather, we are dependent upon and in need of "the merits, mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah" (2 Nephi 2:8). But "line upon line, precept upon precept" (2 Nephi 28:30) and "in [the] process of time" (Moses 7:21), we are enabled to reach outward when the natural tendency is for us to turn inward.
It is interesting to me that one of the central elements of the word character is created by the letters A, C, and T. As we already have seen in the examples of Christ's character from the New Testament, the nature and consistency of how one acts reveals in a powerful way his or her true character. In the case of Christ, he is described as one ". . . who went about doing good" (Acts 10:38). Let me now briefly share with you two memorable experiences from my service as a stake president that highlight the relationship between our actions and a Christlike character.

Early one summer morning I was showering. My wife called to me in the middle of my shower and indicated that I was needed immediately on the telephone. (This was before the day of cell and cordless phones). I quickly put on my robe and hurried to the phone. I next heard the voice of a dear sister and friend informing me of a tragic automobile accident that had just occurred in a remote area involving three teenage young women from our stake. Our friend indicated one of the young women had already been pronounced dead at the scene of the accident and that the two other young women were badly injured and presently were being transported to the regional medical center in Fayetteville. She further reported that the identity of the deceased young woman was not yet known. There was urgency in her voice, but there was no panic or excessive alarm. She then asked if I could go to the hospital, meet the ambulance when it arrived, and assist in identifying the young women. I answered that I would leave immediately.

During the course of our telephone conversation and as I listened to both the information being conveyed and the voice of our friend, I gradually became aware of two important things. First, this friend's daughter was one of the young women involved in the accident. Our friend lived approximately 35 miles from the hospital and therefore needed the assistance of someone who lived closer to the city. Second, I detected that the mother simultaneously was using two telephone handsets--with one in each hand pressed to each of her ears. I became aware that as she was talking with me, she was also talking with a nurse at a small rural hospital who had initially attended to the three accident victims. Our friend was receiving updated information about the condition of the young women in the very moment she was informing me about the accident and requesting my help. I then heard one of the most remarkable things I have ever heard in my life.

I faintly heard the nurse telling this faithful mother and friend that the young woman pronounced dead at the scene of the accident had been positively identified as her daughter. I could not believe what I was hearing. I was listening to this good woman in the very moment that she learned of the death of her precious daughter. Without hesitation, and with a calm and most deliberate voice, our friend next said, "President Bednar, we must get in contact with the two other mothers. We must let them know as much as we can about the condition of their daughters and that they will soon be in the hospital in Fayetteville." There was no self-pity; there was no self-absorption; there was no turning inward. The Christlike character of this devoted woman was manifested in her immediate and almost instinctive turning outward to attend to the needs of other suffering mothers. It was a moment and a lesson that I have never forgotten. In a moment of ultimate grief, this dear friend reached outward when I likely would have turned inward.

I then drove to the hospital with a concern in my heart for the well-being of the two other beautiful young women who had been involved in the accident. Little did I realize that the lessons I would learn about Christlike character--lessons taught by seemingly ordinary disciples--were just beginning.
I arrived at the hospital and proceeded to the emergency room. After properly establishing who I was and my relationship to the victims, I was invited into two different treatment areas to identify the injured young women. It was obvious that their respective wounds were serious and life threatening. And the lovely countenances and physical features of these young women had been badly marred. Within a relatively short period of time, the two remaining young women died. All three of these virtuous, lovely, and engaging young women--who seemed to have so much of life in front of them--suddenly had gone home to their Eternal Father. My attention and the attention of the respective families now shifted to funeral arrangements and logistics.

A day or so later, in the midst of program planning and detail arranging for the three funerals, I received a phone call from the Relief Society president of my home ward. Her daughter had been one of the victims in the accident, and she and I had talked several times about her desires for the funeral program. This faithful woman was a single mother rearing her only child--her teenage daughter. I was especially close to this woman and her daughter having served as both their bishop and stake president. After reviewing and finalizing several details for the funeral of her daughter, this good sister said to me, "President, I am sure it was difficult for you to see my daughter in the emergency room the other day. She was severely injured and disfigured. As you know, we will have a closed casket at the funeral. I have just returned from the funeral home, and they have helped my daughter to look so lovely again. I was just wondering . . . why don't we arrange a time when we can meet at the mortuary and you can have one last look at her before she is buried. Then your final memories of my daughter will not be the images you saw in the emergency room the other day." I listened and marveled at the compassion and thoughtfulness this sister had for me. Her only daughter had just been tragically killed, but she was concerned about the potentially troublesome memories I might have given my experience in the emergency room. In this good woman I detected no self-pity and no turning inward. Sorrow, certainly. Sadness, absolutely. Nevertheless, she reached outward when many or perhaps most of us would have turned inward with sorrow and grief.

Let me describe one final episode related to these three tragic deaths. On the day of her daughter's funeral, this Relief Society president from my home ward received a phone call from an irritated sister in our ward. The complaining sister had a cold and did not feel well, and she basically chewed out the Relief Society president for not being thoughtful or compassionate enough to arrange for meals to be delivered to her home. Just hours before the funeral of her only child, this remarkable Relief Society president prepared and delivered a meal to the murmuring sister.

We appropriately and rightly speak with reverence and awe of young men who sacrificed their lives to rescue stranded handcart pioneers and of other mighty men and women who repeatedly gave their all to establish the Church in the early days of the Restoration. I speak with equal reverence and awe of these two women--women of faith and character and conversion--who taught me so much and instinctively reached outward when most of us would have turned inward. Oh how I appreciate their quiet and powerful examples.

I noted earlier in my remarks that the letters A, C, and T form a central component in the word character. Also noteworthy is the similarity between the words character and charity--as both words contain the letters C, H, A, and R. Etymologically there is no relationship between these two words. Nevertheless, I believe there are several conceptual connections that are important for us to consider and ponder.

Let me suggest that you and I must be praying and yearning and striving and working to cultivate a Christlike character if we hope to receive the spiritual gift of charity--the pure love of Christ. Charity is not a trait or characteristic we acquire exclusively through our own purposive persistence and determination. Indeed we must honor our covenants and live worthily and do all that we can do to qualify for the gift; but ultimately the gift of charity possesses us--we do not posses it (see Moroni 7:47). The Lord determines if and when we receive all spiritual gifts, but we must do all in our power to desire and yearn and invite and qualify for such gifts. As we increasingly act in a manner congruent with the character of Christ, then perhaps we are indicating to heaven in a most powerful manner our desire for the supernal spiritual gift of charity. And clearly we are being blessed with this marvelous gift as we increasingly reach outward when the natural man or woman in us would typically turn inward.

I conclude now by returning to where I began--the statement by Elder Maxwell in that special training session last September: "There would have been no Atonement except for the character of Christ." It was the Prophet Joseph Smith who stated that "it is the first principle of the Gospel to know for a certainty the Character of God" (Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 345). The New Testament is a rich resource for learning about and increasing our appreciation for the character and life and example of the Savior. My prayer for each of us is that through our study of this sacred volume of scripture we will more fully come unto Him; more completely become like Him; and more fervently worship, reverence, and adore Him.

As a witness, I declare my witness. I know and testify and witness that Jesus is the Christ, the Only Begotten Son of the Eternal Father. I know that He lives. And I testify that His character made possible for us the opportunities for both immortality and eternal life. May we reach outward when the natural tendency for us is to turn inward, I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Watch for Drake at General Conference

New haircut

Hey mom,
Thanks for sending all of the pictures from the funeral. I don't have much time, and I have a bunch of pictures to send.

So I am going to send a bunch of pictures.
Happy Easter!            .
Things are going great. Over half of our zone left for the field today. We get new missionaries this Wednesday, which is super exciting.

My MTC halfway mark is this Friday.

OH!!!! I forgot to tell you that I am going to be in the thing that they show in between sessions of conference!! Since I am in the choir, they filmed us for a special on the MTC. We are singing the song Like Ten Thousand Legions Marching. I don't know if I was ever on camera, but maybe!!!

I am singing in the choir for Easter, and an apostle is supposed to be coming, so that is super cool!

Ok, picture time!!!

Our zone before 1/2 left

Brat Leimer, teacher from Germany



more snow!

Elder Allen

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Terra -- Pork chops and Applesauce!

Cebre, this is an ode to our Library photos
We can't hold babies, so we hold bears!
Giving our babies a head ride.
I love my watch!
People always ask,
"Did it come like that?
Sister Ward and I woke up very very tired this morning. But as the morning went on, we ended up singing Hanukkah songs and dancing around the Blackham's kitchen in our matching slippers, and laughing our heads off. It ended up being a wonderful morning. Every morning should be wonderful, I think. But I am a morning person. I think it's really hard for non-morning-people (Emma for example) to understand how mornings are for morning people. And vise versa. And I feel that the majority of the people are non-morning-people. Actually, I think Cebre and I are the only morning people on the planet. And I herebynow start the "Morning People Club" (and also am creating the word "herebynow") and anyone who wishes to join, may. But their is a process to joining and that is to write me an email or a letter telling me how much you love me and 100 great things about me. Well, we'll lower that down to 10. Also, today is "Terra Day", I've decided. Exactly two weeks before my birthday. Every year we're going to have "Terra Day" two weeks before my birthday. It will be the first day of the celebration that will last for two weeks until my birthday. And everyone will be happy and wear red-headed wigs and celebrate that I'm alive. 

Planning and a little bit of photo fun :]
After planning, we went a little crazy and took zillions of pictures.      
Most were horrendously ugly!

Okay, Sister Ward wrote all of that. Okay, no she didn't. I did. But I think it's a great idea still. :]

Sweet little mini Terra so cute on my bed
This email is going to be a special one, because it will include a very special moment that I've had on my mission so far, but first we will talk about some other things. I want to talk about food first. This week I ate porkchops!! Porkchops and applesauce! Minus the applesauce. But Sister Ward and I kept saying "porkchopsh........and applesaush...." because she knows what that's from too! I love the Brady Bunch. Too good. And they were good! That's the first time I've ever eaten pork. Our investigator Jody actually made us that dinner. She's incredible and we love her so much. Also, this week, I made egg salad. I can't even begin to describe how yummy egg salad is. It is just SO GOOD. It's ridiculously delicious. Also, I had honeydew this week for the first time. And THAT is delicious too. 

The Blackham's have a harp and a piano in their home, and it is right next to our study area. So on lunch breaks Sister Ward and I like to play the piano. Neither of us can play the harp, but we try. :] Today I figured out how to play "Mad World" on the harp, so I taught Sister Ward what to do on it, and we played it together. It was so 
beautiful! It was. It was glorious. Music is 

We went on exchanges this week. I got to spend a day in Little Miami with Sister Green. She was super fun. Super hard-working, but super fun. We've had a lot of investigator appointments this week and a lot of them are progressing. We've also found some miracles. One night while we were in a lesson with Jody, we got a text from the second counselor in our bishopric saying that there was a lady at the church with SEVEN kids who wanted to learn more about the church. Instantly after our meeting we called her and set up an appointment with her for the next day. Her name is Elizabeth and she is just taking in the gospel so well. She's had a really rough life and is just so ready to turn it around. She's been struggling with the adversary fighting against her through this all, but last night she got a blessing and it was a pretty neat experience and I think it helped. We have an investigator on date! Paige! She wants to surprise her sister and bro-in-law with an invitation and cookies on their doorstep, so we're doing that tonight. We're praying and hoping that she'll see through with this plan. Jody is amazing. Her family is amazing. She's been smoking since she was 9. She said a month ago she said she would never quit smoking and that she would die with a cigarette in her hand. And now she's on day 4 of quitting. It's amazing what the gospel can do. We haven't even gone over the commandments or the Word of Wisdom yet, but she wants to get baptized so badly and she knows she can't smoke, so she's already made the decision to quit. And it has been so hard for her, but she is pushing through. And her husband Denny is quitting today. Their whole family has really felt the Spirit. They know the gospel is true. Denny is the only one who is a little unsure, but they are all working towards being baptized at the end of April. We are so thrilled and just love them so much. 

So, this week was pretty rough. Actually, it was really rough. One morning I woke up just completely depressed. But of course, I bounced out of it by the end of the day. But I have just been so on and off with having it be good and bad this week. It's been a struggle with Grandma Allen and Grandma Fridae passing away. It has. I still don't quite know how to deal with it, and it's messing with my mind a lot. But Saturday was miraculous.

Nancy and I
What a blessed day

There was a stake Relief Society activity on Saturday, and two of our investigators were going, so Sister Ward and I decided it would be important for us to go as well. We all started out in the chapel and listened to a speaker. After that there was a musical number with 3 singers and a lady playing the harp. It was GORGEOUS. It was beautiful. The harmonies, OH the harmonies. I miss harmonizing. I wanted them to sing forever. It just brought tears to my eyes. After that we went to lunch in the gym. There was a really long line for the food, so Sister Ward and I went around talking to people at different tables. I saw one of the singers walking towards me, and I said to myself, "I HAVE to tell her how much I loved her song." She walked right up to me and gave me this huge and long hug. I told her how much I loved her song. She told me, "I'm so happy that I can meet you and give you a hug today." That puzzled me just a little. Then she looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm so sorry that I couldn't make it to Dyanne's funeral." And tears started coming to her eyes. I said, "Wait, you knew my grandma?" She said, "Yes! I'm her cousin!!" I can't even describe how precious that moment was. I gave her another big hug right then. It was such a tender mercy to see a relative, even though it was one I had never before met, but she knew exactly what I was going through, and loved Grandma Allen just as much. It filled my heart. We were able to talk about her, and find comfort in each other. It was truly amazing. I loved seeing Nancy. Her eyes were so beautiful, just like Tracy's. I knew they had to be sisters. And she had the same sweet and loving spirit that Tracy has, and I just felt like I already knew her. After this rough week of heartache and confusion, Heavenly Father blessed me with feeling the love from Nancy, a distant but close relative. That was a miracle to me. I'll never be able to convey to her how much that meant to me. It meant so much. 

-Melody: I don't need a letter, but at least please email me! :D I want to hear from you so badly!!
-Jenna: I've thought a lot about you this week. I hope you're doing well. I need my sweet Jenna! <3

It's still hard being a missionary. Sometimes I want to quit, but I know I never really will. This is my life right now. It's grand, like a piano. I can never say that enough. But it's true. I love you all!

Love, Terra

I've been taking all of my notes with my right hand in cursive.
I CRAVE it during the day.

Drake gets to go to the TRC!

Class happy!

People in our district with glasses

Mom mom mommy,

P-Day P-Day P-Day

I will attempt to answer all of your questions from your letter:

There are 4 Elders in my room: Elder Allen, Elder Blom, Elder Owens, and Elder Olsen.
Owens and Olsen are the ones going to England.
The cafeteria is pretty good. Not that bad. I like the ice cream.
I haven't tried their bacon yet, but their eggs are probably made out of yellow chalk.... haha. I tried them, and that's what they felt and tasted like.
I am loving learning Polish. It is very difficult, but very fun as well.

Provo Temple
That sounds wonderful that their were so many people at Grandma's funeral. I wish I could have been there.

We went to the TRC ** for the first time this week. Where we teach Polish RMs lessons in Polish. (Like I used to for German) It was super fun.

I love getting letters from you and Lexie, and I finally got Dad's letter this week. The letters take so long to get here. Sometimes it is even up to a week.
I actually like it when you send me the Dearelder's though, mom. Because I get them faster and... I am not that good at reading your cursive... haha :)
But a mixture of both is fine too.
I got a letter from Terra and sent her a letter last week, I don't know if she has gotten it yet though.

Alrighty, better go

Elder Drake Allen

** P.S. from Drake's mom -- The TRC is the Teaching Resource Center where volunteers who speak the language being learned come to pretend they are someone who wants to learn the gospel.  So the misisonaries get to practice teaching someone who will only speak the language to them in return.  Drake volunteered at the TRC while he was at BYU, only for the German language or for English for those from non-English speaking countries.  

Also, they MTC is right across the street from the Provo temple and the missionaries  get to attend the temple each P-day and apparently have some time for picture taking. You can click on the pictures to make them bigger if you want to zoom in.

Most of our Zone --
Polish, Czech, Slovak, Bulgarian, Serbo-Croation

Epic Flag

Zach Hosman!
(Zach was a friend of Drake's in the dorms and was Terra's "Host" when she was dropped off at the MTC, click here for that picture.  He is going to the Sacramento Mission, Laotian speaking)

Temple downhill