13 Days Left!

Hey Famiglia!

This week was awesome, as usual!  Just to make sure I don’t forget to answer the questions this time, I’ll answer those first.

1) I didn’t manage to get Boone’s unit number and departure date. 😦 Sorry!
2) The soccer game got rained out last Friday night.  There was lightning so they had to close the field down.
3) The BYU brownies made it just fine! Thanks a ton! We still haven’t been able to eat them all.  We get so much food.
4) The 4th of July was great!  We had a short devotional, then got to watch the movie “17 Miracles”.  It’s a great movie.  It seemed a little familiar, but I’m not sure if I had seen it before.  We all got ice cream after and got to go outside and find a good spot where we could watch the fireworks from inside the campus.  We could see them just fine.  They were a lot better than last years!  We had a good time with those poppers.  They actually packed a punch.  I’ve got a picture of the results after the wild missionary party we had back in the dorms after the fireworks.

So this week I’ve got a few cool things that have happened.  The first thing I want to share is just a funny story.  Two Elders in our district, Anziano Lindsey and Anziano Carter both taught a lesson to one of our teachers, Sorella Miles (our teachers role play investigators for us all the time; we teach about once or twice a day).  One of the things our teachers do to us while they’re role playing is after we try and commit them to baptism, they’ll express that they were already baptized when they were a baby in the Catholic church.  So as a result, we explain that God appreciates they’re willingness to come closer to Him, but this this and this, priesthood authority, or whatever we decide to say.  So Anziano Carter wanted to pull out a scripture about infant baptism in Moroni.  He knew it was somewhere in Moroni 8 or 9.  It’s actually pretty hard to find scriptures in the Italian copies, because they aren’t completely marked up yet like our English ones are.  So he found a scripture that said something about “l’acqua” and “figli” (water and kids) and thought that was the one.  So he read to her Moroni 9:8, which reads, “And the husbands and fathers of those women and children they have slain; and they feed the women upon the flesh of their husbands, and the children upon the flesh of their fathers; and no water, save a little, do they give unto them.”  He didn’t even realize what they said until they returned back to the classroom, opened up their English copy of the scriptures to see what they had just shared with the investigator.  Oops.  We all had a good laugh about that one.  I guess the investigator thinks we’re cannibals now.

This last Sunday I had the chance to watch Elder Bednar’s Christmas address he gave last Christmas to the missionaries.  It absolutely blew my mind.  Every Sunday evening all the missionaries have the chance to watch a movie or go to a recorded talk.  Everybody raves about this particular address, however, so I wanted to see it.  This address was called “The Character of Christ”.  This one is for sure a life changer.  The main idea of the talk is that Christ turns himself outward, when everyone of us would turn ourselves inward.  It was a seemingly simple idea, service, unselfishness, and other things we hear commonly as members of the Church.  He shared some amazing stories that occurred while he was a Stake president, and after that, opened up the scriptures.  I’ve never before seen anyone read the scriptures the way he does.  He shared some incredible insights about the story after Jesus’ 40 day and night fast, and when the devil came to try and tempt him with a few things, such as turning stones into bread.  Elder Bednar also analyzed that temptation, how turning the stones to bread was actually the secondary temptation.  The devil said something like, “If you be the Son of God, then…”  That’s the primary temptation.  It’s so in depth, I feel like I’m doing it injustice right now, but then after that there’s a scripture that talks about how angels ministered to him, and then he went out to assist one of his apostles (I think it’s Paul, not positive) in jail elsewhere.  But then, Elder Bednar directed us to the footnotes, where we found a Joseph Smith Translation.  It turns out, after 40 days of fasting, after being besieged by Satan, he didn’t accept the ministering of the angels.  He sent those angels out to that apostle.  I thought that was really neat. I really wish I was craftier with words so I could express how incredible this talk is.  But at the end, he gave us all a suggestion if we ever have a question about something in the Gospel, or a topic we want to study, to buy a cheap, paperback copy of the Book of Mormon you can get just about anywhere as a missionary.  Then, read through the Book of Mormon, and highlight and take notes on everything to do with that certain topic.  Then, once you’re done, write a short half page summary about what you learned about that topic.  Then repeat with a different topic.  He said by the time you reach his age, you should have five or six-hundred Books of Mormon on your shelf on different topics.  I thought that was incredible.  I may start doing that.  If you somehow manage to find a way to watch that talk, do it.  It may only be available to missionaries.

Some quotes I’ve really loved hearing this week are (trying my best to do them from memory):
“There would have been no Atoning sacrifice without the character of Christ.” – Elder Bednar
“Preach my Gospel is not a manual; it’s who you are.” – Elder Bednar.
“Preach the Gospel, and if necessary, use words.” – St. Francis of Asisi
“No unhallowed hand may hinder the work from going forward.” – Joseph Smith

I wish I had my Preach my Gospel with me, I wrote some more down, and those may not be 100% accurate, because I’m doing them from memory.  But nevertheless, I still think they’re pretty good.  Even if you’re not a missionary, Preach my Gospel is an amazing resource for members.  There’s still a lot of chapters that are still applicable.

Italian is moving along, like always.  It’s obviously inevitable that we’ll be learning the majority of the Italian that we speak once we get out into the actual field.  I don’t have very good conversational skills with just normal every day words that you’d be using a lot of the time.  All I know really is “Gospel language.”  I’m pretty good at teaching principles, asking questions, reading scriptures, and doing whatever you need to do once you’re inside the door, but other than that, it’ll be an adventure for sure.  On top of that, we have to give a talk once we get to the ward we’ll serve in in Italy.  Oh dear.  We’ll see how that goes.

Not only has my Italian been improving a lot, but I also know the scriptures like I’ve never known them before.  Yeah, before my mission I could find most of the scripture masteries and stuff, and have a general idea about what’s going on in where, but now I feel like I can really dig in to what they’re saying.  I find myself flipping to scriptures during talks and stuff to find I’ve already highlighted that verse, and have comments by it.  Or when someone quotes a line on the podium from a scripture, I can tell you what chapter of what book it’s in most of the time with scriptures I never would have been able to find before.  It’s kind of freaky.  Obviously I don’t know them nearly as good as I need to, but I feel like I’m on the right track with them.  It’s such a blessing to be able to have time set apart for personal study of the scriptures!  I’m excited to only learn more and more about them.

I’m about out of time.  Thanks for all of the letters and packages!  They’re really awesome.  I loved the last one with chips and the beef sticks and Pringles.  I may save some of those for the trip over to Italy on the plane.  I still haven’t even eaten all the Cheetos you sent like the first couple nights in the MTC.  I can’t find space in my stomach for them!

Anziano Jones

Craig and his companion, Anziano Rigby, getting ready to “party hard” on the 4th of July.  Craig is holding one of the poppers that Anziano Rigby’s family sent in a package.

Craig and Anziano Rigby at the 4th of July devotional.  I don’t remember ever seeing Craig SO excited about the 4th of July before.Looking down the aisle at his district.  Craig said, “Sorry for the photobombers.  They’re everywhere in the MTC.  They like getting in on the pictures.”

The missionaries got to go out and watch the BYU “Stadium of Fire” fireworks after their 4th of July devotional.

Craig’s description of this photo:  “My companion had a missionary hangover at one point.”  All around his companion, you can see what Craig described as “the aftermath of the crazy party with the poppers and such.”

I guess they really did “party hard.”

It looks like Anziano Rigby survived the 4th of July party and is working hard, even on P-Day.

Anziano Kelley studying the scriptures while he’s also doing his laundry on P-Day.  These guys are hard workers!

Craig’s bed.  He’s on the top bunk and uses the top of the closet for his nightstand.

The boxes from all of the packages I’ve been sending to Craig.  It’s unclear as to why he is holding on to the cardboard boxes! 🙂  (Teenage boys are funny!)

Craig is using this box to hold all of his letters.  I can see that the one on the top is from his girlfriend, Joey!


2 thoughts on “13 Days Left!

  1. Dear Elder Craig, I can’t believe time is going by so fast. I am so awed by your letters and all you have learned. I am impressed by how excited you are to learn more of The Gospel. I am also one proud Grandma to witness your mission. We have many memories of your boyhood. Now this young Elder is giving us many more. We love you Craig and bless you in our prayers. Grandma Jo Ann

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