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Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Week

Dear Family,

So we said goodbye to Elder Jackson today. He flies home to Mapleton tomorrow. I gave him our address and phone number so he can come over, chat it up, and show some pictures.

We drove up to San Jose today for transfer meeting, and the whole way up Elder Bourne explained the whole 42 year history to Star Trek, including all the movies and the different tv shows. I feel this is the beginning of a beautiful companionship.

I guess now that I'm healthy again (so you don't worry) I can tell you that for the past 2 weeks I had bronchitis. Not very fun, especially since I still had the energy to work, but was very contagious. With San Juan being so small, I think I infected about half the town with handshakes alone. We had to stay inside for Elder Jackson's last week, which must have been hard for him, but he should have thought about that BEFORE I got sick.

Okay, I have a question for mom, or anyone else who feels qualified to answer. What are some good techniques to settling kids down and keeping their attention while you are teaching a family? We always try to get them involved by giving them an assignment to write something, draw something, or answer questions. What has worked with the kids at Westridge? Remember, I don't have access to any cool instruments from Africa or Indonesia.

So yeah, it turns out staying in with bronchitis isn't a very effective way to do missionary work. But mom and dad, you should know that President Jackson's wife is very aware of every missionary's health, and is not afraid to send one to the hospital if she hears them sneeze or cough twice in the same hour. She's a very nice lady.

Yesterday we went to a fireside for the outgoing missionaries. They each bore their testimonies, but my favorite part was when they have recent-converts speak. Hearing their testimonies and their gratitude for missionary work is really uplifting. It reminds us how this gospel can really bless people and help them find hope and peace. It's easy to forget that when so many seem uninterested. But it's worth having 1000 doors slammed in your face in order to find the one that will accept the gospel. 1001 doors slammed is pushing it though.

I hope you all are doing well, eating all your whole grains, and following the counsel of the Prophet. If anyone sees Guy Francis, tell him "Oogaleeboogaleeboo!" for me. He'll know what it means.

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

One month in Calif

Dear Family,

I apologize for not being able to write yesterday. We taught a guy named Dan the first lesson in the morning. Later we played several games of flag football with our zone in Gilroy, the garlic capital of the world. Of course, I scored several touchdowns and injured several other missionaries in the process.

So our efforts in finding people to teach have not been fruitless. We've tried several techniques. The usual tracting and street contacting, and a few others. For instance, being inspired by Sanka from Cool Runnings, for a few days we would dance and sing on the street in the day time. Our songs went a little like this:

"Some people say they can't believe,
San Juan Bautista, they got the missionaries..."

But yeah, this place has some golden investigators. We're teaching about 5 different people, and 2 or 3 are progressing well. The other night we had dinner with a member family and a family we're teaching. We planned to teach a lesson afterwards, but the member family's dad insisted we watch several scenes from Ben Hur. But I can't complain about Charleton Heston.

So right now I'm in a group of 3 missionaries. Elder Jackson, Elder Bourne and I. A trifecta of gospel teaching. Elder Bourne will stay when Elder Jackson goes home. Elder Bourne is an AMAZING teacher. We taught a recently baptized family with 3 little kids yesterday, and I felt like sitting down and drawing pictures with crayons with the kids while he taught. He's that good. I've learned a lot from Elder Jackson, and I have much to learn from Elder Bourne. Not to be one to hinder their progression, I try to help them learn patience, clogging the toilet often, spilling salsa on their white shirts, eating toast on their beds, getting crumbs everywhere, etc. I figure it's the least I could do for them.

We haven't gotten much guff here about Proposition 8. A couple times people have responded to our friendly greetings with "No on 8!" or "You're taking away our rights!" but no one is brave enough to say anything until we are already several steps past them.

Anyway, it's always good to get emails. Regular mail is good too, especially for non-immediate family members, since I can't email them back. I hope you're all happy, and if you're not, I hope you're not being dumb by not praying or reading the scriptures.

Thanks for the support! I love you all! Everyone reading this should watch an extra 1/2 hour of tv to cover all the time I'm no longer watching.

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

Monday, November 03, 2008

How was my Halloween? -- Nov 3, 2008

Dear Family,

How was Halloween, you ask? Well, let me tell you. Out of all the missionaries in the whole San Jose mission, we were probably the only 2 that actually got to stay out until about 10 pm. We were helping with the town Halloween Block Party.

The party was on 3rd Street, so basically right outside our cottage. We made friends with all the people at the local bakery, which is nice because it gives us an excuse to go there and smell the goodness of a small town bakery. The manager's name is Susanna, an enthusiastic business woman who is from Brazil. Everyone in town knows her and she has warmed up to us. She was setting up the whole block party, so she let us help out with it. This help was sorely needed.

We would have our own booth, so we needed to come up with games or something for kids to play. After much pondering, I suggested the balloon stomping game where you get a bunch of kids, tie a balloon to one of each kid's ankles, then have them all start trying to stomp out everyone else's balloons, or what I like to call "Begin the Chaos!"

It was so much fun. Little kids are hilarious! There are the ones who won't stop asking you the same question over and over again ("Can I do it? Can I do it? Can I do it?") while I can't respond because I'm about to pass out from blowing up so many balloons. Then there are the quiet ones that don't know what's going on, but their parents kind of nudge them around everywhere. One little girl about 4 years old was like this. Blank face. Totally oblivious, with a balloon tied to her ankle. We yelled "GO!" and immediately some snot-nosed boy stomped out her balloon. So sad, yet so funny. My cheeks were aching from laughing so much. There were also several kids that started crying when their balloon got popped, so I quickly brought them another one, which seemed to remedy the problem.

So we did this for about 2 1/2 hours (7-9:30pm) until we decided to have a go at it ourselves in an adult round. Looking back, it may not have been the most missionary-smart thing to do, but it sure was fun! We had Susanna record this round on Elder Jackson's camera, and as we watched it later, we freeze-framed it in a couple places where we were both in somewhat compromising positions with girls who were in on that round. Let's just keep that our little secret.

I can't remember if I told you all about my trainer. His name is Joshua Jackson, from Mapleton, Utah. He was AP when President Jackson and Sister Jackson came in, so they trust him, which is good. He goes home after this transfer (a couple days before Thanksgiving) so I'll get a new companion in San Juan then. I told him to stop by the house when he gets back.

Today we had some delicious hush-puppies and fried catfish at a former-investigator's (no longer being taught) house in Hollister with the six missionaries who live in Hollister. Total Larry the Cable Guy! He told us in detail how to catch catfish ("So ya shove yer arm under this rotted tree stump in the watah, feel around for somethin' slimy, then stick yer hand in its mouth...") and lots of other good information. He was a nice guy, and the food was SO good.

San Juan is so small that we mostly walk. But our area includes several neighborhoods in the outskirts and in the hills, so we drive as well. I got a bike free from a missionary that broke his wrist mountain-biking, but unfortunately we don't do much biking. Biking in a white shirt and tie is my favorite. Thanks for those things that go on the ankles to keep my pants clean while biking, by the way. They've been great.

I got the tape you sent. It was really fun listening to it. I'm trying to fill up the other side with some good stuff.

Things are pretty crazy here with Proposition 8 and all. As missionaries, we have to stay neutral with everything political, but the members are great on following the prophet's counsel for California members and supporting it.

As always, thanks so much for the letters and the emails. They always brighten the day.

Until next week!

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

P.S. The scripture for my plaque should be Ether 12:27. Thanks, Mom!

If You Could Hie to San Jose -- Oct 27, 08

Family,

So throughout my mission I will be able to use the mattkarlsven@myldsmail.net email address. I can only send emails to immediate family members, but anyone can email me, and I will get back to them as long as they give me their address and are willing to wait for a real non-virtual letter.

This week has been good. I have trouble distinguishing between days because we do mostly the same things on each. I just remember people we talk to.

We taught my first real sit down lesson the other day to a girl named Micaela from Mexico. We brought a ward member, former bishop Hill, and the lesson went really well. We started with the first lesson, and then she asked us why people pray to Jesus and not Heavenly Father. So we went in that direction the rest of the lesson. The Spirit was really strong, but she was still hesitant when we asked her to pray at the end of the lesson. I could tell she was uncomfortable praying in front of others, so I asked her to pray as soon as we left and she said okay. It's a very different feeling teaching a lesson with the Spirit there in the MTC as compared to investigators. In the MTC, a lesson like the one we gave Micaela would have left everyone bawling. But you have to be more patient with investigators to help them understand.

Let's see, we tracted to a home the other day that was full of drunk guys. But they were the friendly type of drunks. Drunk people are a big waste of time to talk to about the gospel, but for entertainment purposes, they're great.

But I'm getting pretty tired of drunk people pretty quick. After it gets dark here (around 6 or 7 pm) everything shuts down except for the few bars in town. One of note is called "Mom and Pop's Saloon." What? Is this like a family restaurant/place to drink your troubles away? So yeah, at night this place is pretty boring and lame. What this town needs is some good church mutual nights, or a nice late-night service project. We're working on that.

I'm getting better at tracting and street contacting. Now I just treat it like a regular conversation and then bring the gospel into it. Example:

Me: Hi, how are you doing?

Person: Oh. Hello, fine, thank you.

Me: Do you live around here?

Person: Yeah, just down 4th street.

Me: Oh yeah? My buddy and I just moved in on 3rd. Nice town.

Person: Yes, it is. I've lived here for 15 years and it's great.

Me: So you're good for getting baptized on the 12th then?

Person: Excuse me?

Me: Alright great. See you then!

And that, my friends, is how you do missionary work.

In response to Dave's question, no I wasn't able to bring along the 40 lb. prayer rock he sent me in the mail. It's in some bushes outside the Dan Jones building at the MTC.

It's too bad I missed Weston's blessing. I'm glad you all had a good time though. But probably about the same time this was happening, I was eating a baked potato and ribs at a member's house. Mmm, mmm, good.

We're trying to think of new ways to talk to people about the church and the gospel. One is to set up a booth with a sign on it saying "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints" on it or something and then have some of our materials there to give to people and answer people's questions. Another is to start teaching a class a couple times a week where people can come with questions that can be answered through the scriptures (e.g. Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where do I go after I die? Do robots go to heaven? What about a robot with a human brain? etc.). I'm trying to think of other things we can do just to meet people in a relaxed setting. Any other ideas? Seriously, anyone got anything? Dave and Brigette (or anyone), what are some ways you've gotten word out about your businesses?

We had exchanges with the Spanish speaking missionaries a while ago, and it was a lot of fun. The Spanish speakers were always friendly and thrilled to hear me struggle to say a few things in Spanish. I mostly just played with their kids. Also, lots of Mexican food. Very good.

Well, the library is about to close so I should wrap it up. I hope you're all well and preparing for a safe, wholesome, happy Halloween. Limit your candy-corn intake or you'll regret it later. I speak from experience.

Bye for now!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Email from Elder Matt Oct 20, 2008

Family,

I've moved into my first area and it's a good one. Beautiful San Juan Bautista, a town of about 1700 people strong. Not nearly as boring as it sounds. It's full of really good restaurants (they don't allow franchises here) and an unnecessarily large number of antiques stores. Many wonder why this town is struggling economically and can't seem to realize that a town this size just cannot support 16 antiques shops.

Another interesting thing about San Juan Bautista is that it is completely overrun with chickens - roosters and hens. So many roosters. They are everywhere, and no one can do anything about it because there are a bunch of laws put in place to protect them. But I am glad, for they brighten my day, except at 5am every morning when the five roosters living in our backyard wake us up.

Oh, and did I mention our backyard? Yeah, we have one. Also, we have a small cottage-esque house we live in, right in the middle of town. Very cool. There is a little path that leads to our house which is behind an antique store and a hat store. Each morning one of us takes some time to water our rose bushes, which is part of the lease agreement on the house. Really, it is.

Elder Jackson is my trainer, and this is his last transfer before he goes home. He is a really really good missionary. Especially at tracting. Often when I start the conversation at a door, the person responds somewhat angrily with something like "Oh, no, I'm not interested. I'm Catholic." I then start to sweat a lot and look around nervously. After about a second Elder Jackson jumps in, saving me and we have a friendly conversation. We've made many friends, and it is such a small town we see them all the time.

Right now I'm in the local library, which is small, but not too bad. Hopefully, we will in the next couple weeks start reading books to preschoolers here for our service. Awesome.

There are a lot of schools that take field trips to see the Catholic Mission here. It's a cool looking building, but we haven't had a chance to go into it yet.

The last missionaries in this area I guess was a senior couple back in the 80's sometime. Other than that, there haven't been any here...until now! There are about 20 or 25 members here, but most of them are less-active. We've met with many of them and they are all friendly and welcoming. The active members though are really REALLY awesome. They are very excited about having missionaries here and have provided us with food, cleaning supplies, and dinners just about every night. So nice. Our ward mission leader and bishop are also just about the most helpful, kind, enthusiastic and excited, good people you'll ever meet.

The people here are mostly all friendly, even when we go tracting. Only a couple of times have people said bluntly or a little rudely that they are not interested and shut the door immediately. Most we are able to talk to for at least a little bit. This is a lot because of Elder Jackson's speaking abilities. I'm getting a little better, but a lot of times I talk myself into a corner and freeze up. Example:

Big Angry-Looking Guy (B.A.L.G.) answers door

Me: How are you doing?

BALG: Can I help you?

Me: Yeah, we're the Mormon missionaries and we just moved into town. I'm Elder Karlsven (shakes his hand).

BALG: Yeah, we're not interested. We're Catholic.

Me: Well, uh, um...these are some nice plants you got out here. What kind are they?

BALG: Grass.

Me: Um, yeah, that's what I thought...uh, well do you know anyone who would be interested in our message about the restoration of Jesus Christ's church?

BALG: Look, I gotta go.

Then Elder Jackson would swoop in and save the conversation. We make a good team.

So yeah, I'm doing well living with Elder Jackson in our cute little house. And the members are taking real good care of us.

You can send things to the mission office at:

California San Jose Mission
3975 McLaughlin Ave. Ste. A
San Jose, CA 95121

We have a P.O. box here, but you should send mail to the mission office and they will forward it here. Packages can be sent there, and if you send it with USPS in a flat rate box they can forward it here. Otherwise, I can get packages about once or twice a month.

Thanks for all the support and your prayers. They are needed more than ever now that it counts.

Hope you're all having fun and doing well. I'm not sure if these computers will let me load pictures, but I will try soon. I love you all!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Last MTC Email

Hello Family!

There are many places in the MTC where everyone around you is intensely focused on what they are doing and hate to be interrupted. The computer lab is one of these places. Reading emails from everyone took 9 minutes, so I have 21 left. Thanks for the emails, everyone, they were great to read (skim).

Okay, I got my flight plans. I will be leaving on Tuesday October 14th, and my flight leaves around 8:30 am. Probably won't see Mandy or Kaylee. Dang it.

All the packages and letters are VERY appreciated. I think I have received more packages than all the other missionaries in my district combined. I especially liked the pumpkin mom sent me along with Halloween decorations. We won't be here for Halloween, but I enjoyed decorating the room, much to the chagrin of my roommates, anyway. Because the MTC wisely made all the windows to the Elders' residences permanently shut, I cannot go through with my original plans for the pumpkin (I'm on the fourth floor, by the way). But painting it will be fun to do later today.

In answer to a question Jarred had, I do go to the RC. It's a place where we either make or receive calls to people who have requested free DVDs, Bibles or Mormon Books from pass along cards or commercials of the church. Some days I love it, some days I hate it. Talking to people from the South about how much they love Jesus and the Bible makes my day every time. They are ususally more than happy to have missionaries come over, so I send the missionaries their address. I wonder how those visits turn out. The days I hate the RC are the ones where I make calls for 2 hours and only get answering machines. Terrible.

There's also a place called the TRC (I was never good at remembering what acronyms stand for) where we teach people from around Provo who volunteer to come in and pose as investigators. This is always good. Especially when they are ostensibly an investigator who has heard nothing about the church, but ask questions out of the blue like "So you're saying the Godhead are all separate, but one in purpose?" A question like this would happen when we would be teaching them about the Word of Wisdom or some other thing like that. I hope real investigators will be like this.

I apologize if my writing isn't up to par, but you must realize that there's a big timer in the top right hand corner of the screen, so I always feel rushed and pressured. That's what count downs do to people, you know.

Um, let's see, anything else you all want to know?

Gym is good. I play basketball or volleyball or 4-square usually. The other day my good friend Elder Ward broke his ankle playing volleyball and will be here for at least 4 more weeks. His expression was priceless when he received his travel plans the other day telling him he would have left with us on Tuesday. Poor guy.

Well, 4 minutes left. I love you all, and hope you're doing well. Keep the emails and letters coming when possible.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Letter 10/01/2008

Dear Family,

I'm enjoying my first P-Day at the MTC. At present my companion Elder Pikula is reminising over pictures on his camera and feigning homesickness, a common practice here.

Thank you for all the packages! With all the food sent and how much we eat here, I'm well on my way to being over 300 pounds when I get back - which is my goal. My district is countinously indignant when I get a new package each day, but the delicious brownies you sent the other day I shared among the zone and everyone was very appreciative. They brightened many a missionaries day. Thank you for that!

Also, thanks for the journal, hymn book, scripture marker, cookies (!!), pictures of the family and print out of dad's blessing. I think I forgot a copy of my patriarchal blessing.

So, the other day I was going to wear my black suit. When I put on the pants, I noticed I was showing an improper and indecent amount of ankle. They are about 3 or 4 inches too short. If possible, please send new pants, or a new suit. I will send the pants home.

Lets see, you asked about a normal day at the MTC.

Here it is:

6:30am - Wake up, forget where I am, fall off of the top bunk to the ground 6-feet below.

6:31 - 6:45am - Stare at something while falling in and out of consciousness.

6:45am - Shower, shave my heavy manly beard.

7:00 - 7:20am - Get ready, dressed up.

7:30am - 1pm - Class, study time, pick up a package in the mail room.

1pm - Lunch, eat too much, feel bloated and then go back for seconds.

1:45 - 6pm - Class study, teach, ect.

6:00pm - Dinner, have heart attack.

6:45 - 9pm - Study, class, teach, ect.

9 - 9:15pm - Plan for next day.

9:15 - 10:30pm - PARTY!

10:30pm - Sleep!!

RINSE AND REPEAT.

So, that is a regular day. There is a lot of study time, but we all wish we had more. I know the first lesson pretty well, and I'm trying to learn more scriptures with it, but the hard part is getting people we teach to really understand it and it's significance.

We teach other missionaries, people who come here to play investigators, but my favorite is teaching real people over the phone at the RC (Resource Center.) I spoke to a man there who had received a free bible from the church and was very excited to talk about it and Jesus. Awesome guy! I told him that God loves him and knows him so well, and has a plan for him. He completely agreed and told me how much he loves Jesus. I offered him a free DVD, and he excepted and said it would be great to have missionaries sent to his house to bring the DVD and share a message about Christ. AWESOME!

It's people like that gets me excited and wanting to get out to San Jose.

I hope all is well and I haven't bored you with the description of everyday MTC life.

There is power in the scriptures and prayer.

There is so much more I could tell you, but, as always, time is short and my writing hand cramps up quickly. I love you and miss you all!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

p.s. If you could, I need some addresses of a few people. Especially Dave and Brigette, Joe and Megan, Becky and Jarred, Mike and Mandy, and the Breens.

p.p.s Please thank the Breens for the popcorn - a big hit in our room!

p.p.s Pictures coming in the next letter! Probably!

Elder Matthew's first Email 10/01/2008

Greetings all from the heart of the Missionary Training Center, the laundry room. Today is P-day, which means we can wear our casual clothes, or as we call them here, our "heathens."

The MTC has been good to me. Three square meals a day, and all the cookies and brownies I could eat (Thanks to mom).

Mom had some questions, and I'll try to answer some of them before I run out of time.

Who are your teachers?

Their names are Bro. Okoren and Bro. Lucas. I like them. Bro. Lucas is taller.

Who is your branch presidency?

President Ahlander (sp?) is the branch president. I forget his counselors names, but one of them reminds me a lot of brother kendell.

Do you like the food?

The food is good. Breakfasts are nice, lunch and dinner have a good chance of being good, usually. I eat too much, but it sure is nice.

When is your P-day?

Weren't you listening earlier? It's today! Wednesdays. Which means we can go to the temple. We head there around 2:40 pm.

Did you have to get any more shots?

I got a flu shot, which was relatively painless. I asked for a shot of whiskey, to no avail.

What are your sundays like?

Every sunday will be different for me in the MTC. Last sunday was fast sunday, so several meetings were changed or cancelled. Next week is General conference, so we just watch that. Our last sunday here will be the only "normal" sunday.

Who else is in your district?

A hodgepodge of other missionaries. I could tell stories about each one, but I'll save that for when I can send a picture, which should be in about a week (in letter form to mom and dad's house). My companion is Elder Pikula, a Tongan with a big heart and an even bigger bicep measurement. Reminds me of Kamalei in some ways.

Everyone is going to California, but only 4 are going to San Jose. They are Elder Ward, Elder Gustafsson, Elder Pikula and myself.

Were you able to join the choir?

I joined a choir, but unfortunately thursday was the auditions for the General Conference Priesthood session choir, so I missed that. Too bad.

Have you seen anyone you know?

A couple. I saw Greg Hudnall (Jr) and Jason Fuller from high school. No one really else.

What are you studying in your classes?

The first lesson mostly. Trying to learn to teach is more simply so people can understand it better.

What do you do for exercise?

Play basketball and 4-square. Gym is at 6:30 am and is awesome.

Have you caught up on sleep?

I'll sleep when I'm dead. Or at least when I get back. I'm getting used to it though.

Do you need anything?

Prayers! They really do help. Letters are nice too. Maybe a carrying case for my small scriptures. Nothing fancy. The cheaper the better.

Are you happy?

The majority of the time, yes. I find I'm happiest while I'm saying my prayers before bed. It's a lot easier to express your love for Heavenly Father when you know you're about to be blessed with 8 hours of sleep.

Anyway, things are good here? How are you all doing? How's little Weston doing? Pictures are very appreciated. I'm not sure if I will be able to send pictures by email in the MTC, but in the field it may be possible.

You can email me back and I can read them on wednesdays. Tell your friends! And MY friends, if you see them.

Okay, time is about up. I love you all! You are in my prayer!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

From Laurel Dean: Matthew's email address in the MTC is mattkarlsven@myldsmail.net

Saturday, September 27, 2008

First Mission Letter 9/24/08

Dear Family,

I no longer fear hell, for I have been to the Provo Missionary Training Center.
The first night is the toughest. They march you in naked as the day you were born, eyes stinging and skin burning from that delousing stuff they put on you. And when that door slams shut, that's when you know it's for real. Whole 2 years gone in the blink of an eye.
Some elders come close to madness that first night. Almost always one of them breaks down crying. This time, that one would be my companion, Elder Pikula.
Actually it's not so bad. I was just way tired today after only 4 hours sleep last night. My companion, Elder Pikula, is from Salt Lake City and is a Tongan. We are often stopped by other Polynesian missionaries who do not know him, but inquire about his relatives who they often know. I've shaken hands and hugged many a Polynesian today.
There are 4 people in our room. My companion and I share one bunk, while the other bunk is taken by Elder Ward, a loveable and happy missionary from South Carolina. He goes about 6'5" and is the classic Southern type. We all liked him immediately.
His companion is our new district leader, the Swedish expatriate Elder Gustaffson. Several times are room has been filled with the chatter between the Swedish-speaking missionaries and himself. It is unnerving at first, but in time I think I will learn to block it out, or just learn to speak Swedish.
I'm not really oriented here yet, despite my previous visit with Kamalei. We're never lost though because of the people at every junction directing the flow of gawking new missionaries. Give me a couple days and I think I'll get the hang of it.
My departure date is not 100% sure yet. I will know when I get my flight plans next Friday (Oct. 3).
I hope you're all doing well since I last saw you this morning. Pray for me and the other missionaries. We definitely need it. I love you all and I hope to make you proud.
I must end this letter now because the act of writing has made me feel faint.

I love you!

Love.
Elder Karlsven

P.S. Pictures of the family, especially Kaylee and Weston would be great.

*note from LD- the first part of the letter is Matthew quoting from the "Shawshank Redemption," edited version of course.

MTC Address:

Elder Matthew John Karlsven
MTC Mailbox # 157
CA-SJO 1021
2005 North 900 East
Provo, Utah 84604-1793

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Yes, I know the way to San Jose

To prove just about everyone I know wrong, I have gotten my mission call (to San Jose, California) and leave on Wednesday.

As can be expected, the last couple of weeks have been pretty busy with many things - finally throwing out all the junk in my room I only keep for appearances and sentimental value (leaving nothing but an old soiled pillow, a bottle of water, and a small box of crayons - coming back home is going to be great), returning borrowed items to friends, and writing several more apology letters to teachers from high school.

A few things changed after I got my call, some of which were nice. For one thing, I quit my job. While I miss the people and the money, it has freed up some time I very much needed to work on my memoirs. However, most of this extra time was spent sleeping in, biking, and finishing the authorized New Kids on the Block biography (A much-appreciated birthday present from Talisa).

Another good thing that has happened is suddenly hearing from, and hanging out with old friends I haven't seen for some time. This can go one of two ways. 1) You have a great time together, having much to talk about and you wish you had more time to build the friendship back up. Or 2) After 5 minutes you realize why you stopped seeing this particular person and suddenly regret paying up front for the rented bicycle-built-for-two for the whole day. I enjoy both possibilities.

One more change that happened is that while in conversation with certain girls, I could say just about the stupidest, most idiotic thing and they would just laugh and laugh, ostensibly showing how clever and hilarious they think I am. Example:

Me: What's the biggest city in Ireland?

Girl: I don't know. What is the biggest city in Ireland?

Me: Dublin.

Girl: laughs long and loudly.

Me: And why is Dublin the biggest?

Girl: Ha ha ha! Why?

Me: Because it keeps on doublin'!!

Girl: Laughs without restraint, hitting you on the leg or arm if you am sitting or standing, respectively.

Me: You're not too bright, are you?

Girl: Hahahahah...what?

If I have offended any of my female readership with this, I apologize. To any who are offended, I assure you you were not the type of girl depicted in the dialogue. That type of girl, bless her heart, is laughing her head off right now as she reads this. Plus, this is not a good example because the Dublin joke really is kind of funny if you think about it.

One word of advice for those considering doing their mission talk any other Sunday other than the one right before the Wednesday you go into the MTC: DON'T DO IT! I had no choice but to do this, being strong-armed out of that Sunday by the Primary Program and the wrath of the Primary Presidency who, while seemingly ever-cheerful and helpful, will surprise you with their viciousness and ruthless threats. Very intimidating.

The reason why you must speak on the last Sunday possible is because, at least in my case, all your family and friends are there enjoying each other's company, everyone shares the bitter-sweet feelings of a goodbye party, and you are left with only the best feelings for everyone there and have a strong determination to work hard and that you are very supported and loved. Sounds good, huh? Wait a week. There might be one or two more get-togethers, but the excitement of it has dulled. You see friends and acquaintances here and there and you struggle to even make small-talk without bursting into tears. No one says it, but you know everyone is thinking Why is he still here? Hugs turn into handshakes, handshakes turn into high-fives, and soon you are so starved for affection that you ride the bus all day, hoping that someone, anyone, will try to grope you. You lie curled up in a cold corner of your room, clutching your soiled pillow, only getting sustenance from eating old crayons and drinking your own urine, continuously shivering and repeating the words, "I hope they call me on a mission when I have grown a foot or two" over and over until the words lose all meaning. Later that day you will be dropped off at the MTC.

I hope this description wasn't too graphic for any young or squeamish readers. But the truth must be told.

Anyway, I'm going to try to have my mom keep this blog up with some of my less boring letters from San Jose and some nice pictures of me in a suit standing next to people you don't know.

Feel free to comment on any post to your heart's desire, as I will not be able to regulate them. If you wish to tell me about how good your life is going, or what a great day you had, letters can be sent to:

Elder Matt Karlsven
California San Jose Mission
3975 McLaughlin Ave. Ste. A
95121-2631

Happy blogging, everyone! See you in 2010!

Friday, September 05, 2008

Paris Hilton Pregnant!?!

That title should bring in at least 10,000 hits. Anyway...

Do you remember Rodney Dangerfield? More importantly, do you remember Rodney Dangerfield's eyes? The way they were bugged out all the time? Was he doing that on purpose? Could he retract them if he wanted to? Or was he just one of the unlucky ones with eyes permanently fixed in a position not popped out enough to be a world record, and yet still prevents him from leading a normal non-hilarious life?

I only bring up the subject because I was helped the other day by a kindly, knowledgeable shoe salesman with a similar look. Very intense, and it would seem very useful in the field of salesmanship; I bought 7 pairs of Dr. Martins without breaking eye contact.

What would it be like for two people with this same phenotypical trait to touch the other's eyes with their own eyes? I'm sure it's happened. And I'm told it is one of the most beautiful things man can witness in this life. Unfortunately, due to the many overly sensitive censors of modern society who see eye-touching (also known as an eye-jelly swap) as "profoundly indecent," photographs or video or even any documentation of such rare occurrences are very hard to come by.

Due to the risks of eye-strain, undesired inter-eye adhesion, temporary blindness, and erectile dysfunction, I cannot condone or support anyone attempting an eye-touch. However, if you feel you are ready, please take the consideration of video taping the phenomenon and putting it on YouTube, just so I know it is really possible and as wonderful as the stories say.

Also, be sure to wear the right protection. Contacts are good, an eye-mask is better. Remember, you are not only swapping eye-jelly with your present partner, but with all the eyes their eyes have touched as well. And I'm sure Rodney Dangerfield and the old shoe salesman have gotten around with the peepers they had. Think about that!

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Tuition's fruition AKA Class Schedules

So usually I cringe a bit when someone asks me about my class schedule. This is because this usually means the conversation is getting dry, or they suspect I'm lying about trying to get an education and want more explanation from me in which they will look for inconsistencies. I don't blame them though. Sometimes I hardly believe that I'm enrolled in a university. University! That's as high as it goes. You go any further than that and you're in the real world. Naturally, I hope I never get that far. Not enough allowance for delusions of grandeur once you get there.

Anyway, this semester has been different in regards to being interrogated about my so-called "further education." For one thing, I only have 4 classes, and none of them are terribly hard or hard to explain. Let's see:

IT101: This is basically an overview of the Information Technology major. I do not plan on going into this major, but I do enjoy the other people in the class. About 90% of them are in the major. They often play a memory game where one of them says a random line of letters and numbers, sometimes interspersed with a made-up word (wizzle, giga-gigadda, in-a-gadda-da-vida, etc.) and then the next person must repeat what the first said, changing only a few of the numbers or letters. It's fun. Even during class the teacher often starts a round of this game, which is nice because it can help relieve some of the tension of college to listen to some random jibberish once in a while.
I suppose the other 10% of the class consists of people like me (still nerdy, but not good at computers) and the one girl who obviously signed up for the wrong class but has not been able to transfer out yet. Either that or she has some sort of weird fetish for pocket-protectors. But then again, who doesn't?

New Testament: 'nuff said.

Living with Plants: This class is as good as it sounds. We learn how to feed and nurture plants from a little seedling to a giant mustard tree into whose trunk one can drill a hole to collect the pure, delicious, clear filling inside (little known fact: companies dye it yellow later in the manufacturing process). Lately however, a lot of our class time has been spent on the debate about global warming. It's never part of the planned lesson, but somehow, no matter what we're talking about, the subject drifts that way. There's about two or three students who just keep arguing back and forth about it, citing several studies they read (or possibly made-up) the night before about it. Really interesting stuff. Naturally, after a few class periods like this, most of the people in the class (myself included) have taken the side of the debate which wonders why the process is taking so long and wishes to speed it up. Or at least focus it on the homes of those few students that keep bringing it up. Not so much that it kills them. Just enough so that they're as uncomfortable at home as we are in class whenever they speak. Okay, maybe kill them.

Carillon: For those not from Belgium, the Carillon is the formal name for the bell tower. For those from Belgium, rock on! For this class, each day I strap my prosthetic hump to my back and head up the stairs of the bell tower to practice. So if you are ever walking by the BYU bell tower and hear "House of the Rising Sun," "In-a-gadda-da-vida," or what sounds like someone had chained a rabid cat to the keyboard hooked to the bells, you know who to thank. And after you're done thanking the cat, I'd appreciate a nice pat on the hump as well.

And that's my class schedule. If you couldn't guess from these classes, my major is Mechanical Engineering, and I plan to graduate Fall 2034.