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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!