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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Toilet Woes. 01/26/2009

Family,

So I got to play Settlers today! But instead of Catan being settled, it was Zarahemla. I wonder how much money people make off of dumb little church games.

Okay, I'm really rushed right now, because I've unfortunately developed the bad habit of clogging toilets. So our plumber is coming over in about 10 minutes. We're on a first name basis (he's stopped by about 4 times now).

Tomorrow we're going with a family we're teaching to the Pinewood Derby at the church! Should be fun, although I fear that the parents there won't be the most Christlike when they see their kids' cars break or get beaten.

Thanks for all the support, prayers and letters. I love you all. Read, ponder, pray, and repeat.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

He got to pet a bat ray! 01/20/2009

Family!

Yesterday we took a trip to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with two other missionaries and a lady named Sara that they baptized in December. Much was learned about the dark mysteries of the deep, and even more was learned about the hilarity of the otter and its many foibles. Those guys are crazy. Other points of note in the trip:

-The man that made our hamburgers for lunch had a striking resemblance to John Travolta.

-I got to pet a Bat Ray! At first I was planning to punch it for what the rays did to Steve Irwin, but its cute face melted my heart. I fed it a piece of dead squid.

-The man that looked like John Travolta was not nearly as friendly as I imagine and hope the real Travolta is.

The work has been slow lately, even though we're teaching about 8 investigators. About half of them are sick or out of town. But the lessons we teach are getting better and better as Elder Bourne and I are learning how to best teach together. I'm learning tons about the scriptures and church history, because so much of it comes up with people we talk to.

I know this is where I need to be right now, and I'm so happy to be here. This will probably be my last transfer in San Juan Bautista, so I'm trying to work extra hard. The citizens of San Juan will be slow to forget the name Elder Karlsven. Although few have yet to pronounce it correctly.

Enjoy the snow in Utah. We're in short sleeves here!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Mission questions and answers 01/12/2009

Family!

I've been informed on some of the questions people want answered about my mission. Here are some of them:

Q: What's your mission president like? Personality? Traditions? Leadership style?
A: I don't spend a lot of time with him, but from what I've seen and heard, the answer to all of these is: Crazy. But in a good way.

Q: What are some of your favorite things about your mission so far?
A: Hearing investigators read James 1:5. Then showing off how I know what the word "upbraideth" means.

Q: What are some of your challenges so far?
A: Getting out the door right at 10 a.m. Also, trying to strike up conversations with people who don't speak English.

The other day we set up a little booth outside the local grocery store here, The Windmill Market. We had a nice little table with pictures and some of our pamphlets and stuff. Although in theory our plan seemed foolproof to get us some new investigators, we ended up becoming more or less like Wal-mart greeters in that no one knew why we were there and most people tried to avoid us. But I got some ideas for next time that should get people's attention. Once we talk to the Fire Marshall about it, we should be good to go.

I had a good story to tell, but I'm not sure it's the kind of story that's "for the whole family." I'll just say that I've learned that no matter how many times you take the same path to an investigators house, you STILL need to check for old men sunbathing around the corner...in the nude.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

P.S. There is no such thing as evolution, just a list of creatures Chuck Norris allows to live.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Jan 7th 2009 email

Dear Family,

It seems President Jackson doesn't want to break up a powerful companionship - Elder Bourne and I are both staying in San Juan Bautista!

First of all, holy cow, Caitlin Perkins is getting married! Nevertheless, that's no excuse for her not writing back to me. Let's just say I'm not so much angry about it as I am blinded with rage. If anyone sees her, tell her congratulations for me, but do it with clenched teeth and glaring eyes. Thanks.

Earlier today we were fixing traffic barriers for the city. Keeping with the rustic and quaint look of the town, the barriers were old, bent and broken, and most of the bolts were rusted over. But working on them was nice because - 1. Manual labor feels good after not doing any for so long and 2. It reminded me of the countless hours I spent in Mom and Dad's garage taking apart that old antique piano, but this time I had the comfort of not being in danger of a gigantic iron string board falling on me.

I don't remember if I told you all this before, but while we were caroling with our district we got a really good excuse from a man and his wife for not wanting to watch the Christmas video we were giving out:

(After we finished singing and are talking to them)

Missionary: So during this Christmas season, we're sharing this free DVD called Joy to the World with families. It can really bring the true spirit of Christmas into a home.

Man: Um, yeah we can't really watch that because um... (all the missionaries watch him closely in anticipation)

-(We hear a dog bark in the backyard.)

Man: ...we have dogs!

His wife: Uh, yeah, they're much too loud to watch a movie.

Missionary: Oh, okay, well Merry Christmas.

-(Missionaries sadly walk away.)

END SCENE

"We have dogs"?! What? I guess the dogs could have had some sort of rare illness that required constant care, leaving these kind and caring people with not even 20 minutes to watch a Christmas video.

Or maybe that was just a really lame excuse.

So yeah, I'm very glad to be staying here for at least 6 more weeks. We have several investigators and even 2 or 3 that are progressing well. Elder Bourne was made district leader, so that means we will be going on several exchanges (switching one of us with another missionary for a day). Those are always fun, and it's really good for learning from other missionaries. I'm excited.

I'm very happy, and every day has surprises. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is Jesus Christ's church. It is led by a true prophet of God. The scriptures have the word of God, and they carry a Spirit with them that is so powerful. I'm grateful to be out here, and I hope you all are happy.

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

Thursday, January 01, 2009

December 31st email

Dear Family,

The phone call home on Christmas was everything I expected it to be - chaotic but enjoyable. Thanks to Mike for setting up the sweet cross-country conference call. I don't know if I told you all, but I was using one of those blue tooth things for the first time. Unfortunately the microphone didn't reach my mouth, so that's why I was yelling the whole time.

The Christmas season has been great. For one the few times in my life, there has been food in front of me and I don't want to eat it. It's a strange feeling, and I hope it passes quickly.

Thanks to everyone for their generosity in sending Christmas cards and presents. For all those who didn't, I wish you the best of luck standing at the Judgment Bar explaining why you neglected one of the Lord's humble servants.

The weather here is perfect. Clear skies, but still cool. I dread the coming summer. If it's perfect temperature on New Year's Eve, what sort of scorching heat will there be in July?

One short story:

The other day we were on exchanges (where you or your companion switches with another missionary in another area for a day) with the Zone Leaders. I stayed in San Juan Bautista and was with Elder Hessing, a missionary who knows many Chuck Norris jokes and has heard of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. I liked him immediately. Anyway, we were walking down the road and came upon a friendly game of baseball going on, when one of the players called us over to play. We didn't have any appointments, so we went over. To our surprise, they put us up to bat immediately. I was first up. Doing the classic pointing the bat in the air, indicating a home run, and then taking a few practice swings, I stepped up to the plate. The pitch came. A slow lob - one of the most difficult pitches to hit in baseball. Somehow I hit it - a line drive - but with the combination of dress shoes and loaded pockets, I was out well before I reached 1st base. Elder Hessing had a similar experience. Little did we know, this was the last inning of the game. And so these two young men went into legend, as the Mormon missionaries who lost their team the game.

Such is life in San Juan Bautista.

The work is wonderful, the gospel is great. I hope everyone has had a very merry Christmas, and that the new year treats you well. Thanks so much for the emails, letters, and packages. I write everyone who writes me back, as quickly as I can.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

P.S. Did you know that Chuck Norris invented the giraffe? It happened when he uppercutted a horse.

December 16th email

Dear Family,

Yesterday morning while I was cooking breakfast, the power went out. And the town is so small that when your power goes out, you can be sure the power is out for everyone. We couldn't do our laundry or email home or anything, so that's why I'm late this week.

I love the ending of The Testaments. You can feel the Spirit so much, and then 2 seconds later it's over. We watched it on Sunday at the Meyer family's home and brought a family we're teaching, the Brachos, with us. The movie ended, someone turned on the lights, and many of us quickly tried to wipe our tears, hiding the embarrassing notion of having felt the Spirit, ha. It was a great experience - the members here are such a blessing to us, and I am so grateful for the Brachos. Most every time we stop by the Brachos, they feed us and we have great lessons and conversations. I can't say enough good things about them. We love them, and it will be hard to leave them when I get transferred.

We go to the temple on Thursday, and I'm really looking forward to it. It's like a guaranteed good spiritual experience. The whole mission is going up on buses, and then having dinner together afterward. Lots of fun.

I'm very excited to get the Christmas Eve recording. That "Were you there?" song always hits the emotions.I have been so blessed by our family. So much love and good examples. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone!

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

december 9th email

Family!

So I saw a DVD yesterday at Target that was a new movie featuring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston. Glad to know I'm not missing out on anything since I left.

So Elder Bourne is a Scripture Master. I dread the day when I will be the more experienced missionary in a companionship, for that will be a very sad companionship. But really, he knows every Bible story, even the ones in the Old Testament that are a bit nonsensical and overly graphic. Did I tell you he reminds me of James? Well, he does. He's a great missionary and was a zone leader before he became my companion, so James has a lot to look forward to.

Recently we've been trying a new approach to tracting. We sing carols when they open the door. The reaction from a woman or teenager is usually a good one, and if they aren't interested in our message, they are happy to suggest some of their neighbors who might be interested. When a man answers to door, however, we rarely get passed "Joy to the wuh" before being interrupted by a slam. What kind of person slams the door to caroling? I was told I would see great evil on my mission, and indeed I have.

We're very blessed to be in this area. There are many friendly people here, and even some willing to listen to us. We are forced to come up with ways other than tracting to find people to teach, because of lack of doors to knock. I've suggested to President Jackson for the church to send more doors. He said he would consider it.

It's great getting emails and letters. Keep them coming! I try to reply to all letters, and all emails from family in a prompt manner.

Merry Christmas, all!

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

December 1st email

Dear Family,

Okay, so this week I did two things I've never done before in my life: Go into a Catholic mission, and set up the altar in a Catholic mission. We're volunteering through December with the Mexican theater here, El Teatro Campesino (founded by Cesar Chavez) for their musical La Virgen del Tepeyac, which they are putting on at the mission. It's all in Spanish, but I'm pretty sure it's based on Mormon doctrine. Just kidding. We help set up and take down the props as well as the things on the altar. Lots of fun. We get many strange looks, and several people have asked me why I'm there. I just smile and pretend I don't speak English or Spanish. It should be good, especially in such a Catholic town, so people can see that missionaries are regular people. Also, my fake German accent is improving.

One thing is for sure, your testimony has to be strong here. Mostly people have misconceptions about Mormons. For example, we asked if we could put some pass-along cards at a restaurant here, but were rebuked by a Catholic manager who said our cards advertised something exactly opposite of what she believes. The cards had a picture of Jesus on them. Huh?

The members here are awesome. I've never depended on church so much to uplift my spirits. Missionaries are like celebrities at church, in that everybody knows our names, but we don't know theirs. We have a great ward mission leader, whose grandson happens to be Austin Collie, so we always get updates on BYU football. Sounds like they blew it pretty bad against Utah.

As for Christmas presents, CDs are nice. Possibly the Prince of Egypt soundtrack and the Braveheart soundtrack. Other than that, just good food, I guess. The church members load us up with food, but often it is just their expired home storage. Also, no peanut butter. For some reason everyone thinks we need peanut butter. We have literally 8 jars of it in our cupboards. 8! And I know someone out there is thinking it would be just hilarious if they sent me some more peanut butter. Don't do it.

I love and miss you all, especially during the holidays. A lot of the people around here remind me of certain people back in Provo. It's more weird than comforting.

Happy holidays! Enjoy the coming snow for me!

Love,

-Elder Karlsven

P.S. If anyone wants to email Kamalei on his mission, his email address is KamaleiLogan@myldsmail.net.