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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

What's the Theme of Tetris Again? 08/31/09

Dear Family,

On Thursday night the Elders Quorum and us missionaries helped a friend of an elder move. I think all 8 or so of the people that came to help work as engineers of some kind. Needless to say, that was the most efficiently filled moving truck you'll ever see. You know how whenever a bunch of things need to be put into a confined space and someone says how it's like playing Tetris? Well, not only was this comparison made several times by several people, but the majority all started humming the Tetris theme music. Hilarious.

Not many funny experiences while knocking doors this week. Yesterday we were doing it in a very Hispanic area. With those who speak little or no English, we offer to watch a video about Jesus with them (The video can be played in several languages, including Spanish). This time, we made the mistake of using this approach during a soccer game. All television sets were occupied.

It's good to hear that the missionaries from the ward are all doing alright. In the ward next to ours, a senior missionary couple, the Hulls, that went to England for a public affairs mission recently returned. I looked through a bunch of their pictures of other missionaries. Unless Luke Rowley gained 150 pounds, I didn't see him in any. Did Luke Rowley gain 150 pounds?

Has anyone heard from Zoram Quintana?

Elder Galletti and I are still doing our thing. I think I'm eating healthier than I ever have in my life. He cooks and teaches me how to cook for a healthy, low-meat diet for lunch. Then we get fed healthy, organic foods for dinner. I'm looking healthier every day, but I feel like I'm betraying my steak and beef-loving heritage.

There will be some good stories to tell next week, I promise.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

P.S. I'm taking a poll on this question - J. Golden Kimball: Great apostle, or the greatest apostle? email answers to mattkarlsven@myldsmail.net

Mmmmmm....Es Cargo 08/24/09

Dear Family,

I'm glad that Mom and Dad got to meet Jeff Merrick. He's one of the most dedicated and hard-working guys I know. He helps us a lot with the missionary work here.

Homesick moment:
Even though members of the ward often talk about Provo, I don't really get homesick until they mention something that I truly cherished there, and had almost forgotten about. This time it was when the McPhies in the ward said how much they liked to go to Burger Supreme in Provo. Oh man, I miss those Gyros.

Our 2 hours of knocking doors yesterday brought many blessings. We got 3 return appointments, and one family even let us in to teach a lesson about the restoration. They are from Myanmar, and have only been here a couple of months. They speak English alright (all except the father) and they said they came here to escape the persecution the government puts on Christians in their home country. They were very excited to hear about the Book of Mormon and the things it told about Jesus. Man, that felt good to teach and hear how they felt about following Christ. Sometimes you get so caught up defending the gospel that you forget how much deep joy and satisfaction of soul it brings.

So yeah, we're doing good this week.

While Elder Galletti has had some "firsts" on his mission (first time mowing a lawn, first 'Jumble Juice,' etc.) this week I had my first helping of es cargo and later the first time to eat mussels. Both delicious. And they didn't even squirm that much going down my throat.

This week we've been taking pictures of some families in the ward, which we will use for helping them remember to share the gospel (I don't tell specifically what we will do because some members read the blog). We ask to take their picture, they suspiciously ask "Why?"

"Um, no reason," we say.

"Hmmm, this isn't going to go on the internet or something is it?"

"It's for a missionary thing," we say.

"Oh, alright then."

I'm tempted to use the "It's for a missionary thing" line for other things.

"Sister _______, you need to get us 2 gallons of ice cream, and a big chocolate cake. It's for a missionary thing."

"Brother ______, we need your credit card. It's for a missionary thing."

"Come on, how can we share the gospel if you don't give us the keys to your Mercedes, Brother ______?"

I suppose I should count my blessings and not abuse the great blessing of helpful ward members.

Thanks for the emails everyone. Remember to search, ponder, pray and do. Then rinse and repeat. Simple.

Have a great week!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Jumble Juice! 08/17/09

Dear Family,

Elder Galletti is recovering from his sickness, and life is getting less boring by the minute. We've made it a point to periodically get what he calls a "Jumble Juice" (that's how he says Jamba Juice). I'm supposed to be helping him with his pronunciation, but I find that instead of correcting him, I just start saying things the way he says them.

People from our ward often go to visit Utah, and even Provo. I've realized that to save on postage, I can just give stuff to them to deliver to Mom and Dad. Our Assistant [to the] Ward Mission Leader, Jeff Merrick, will be stopping by soon with a bag full of the mail I've received so far on my mission. He's a great guy, and not a serial killer to my knowledge, so please treat him kindly. He has been a member of the church for about 5 years now.

Before I gave him my letters, I went through them to make sure there weren't any addresses I needed before sending them home. As I did so, I wept as the pile of wedding announcements I had received got bigger and bigger. I've wondered why it is so disheartening to hear of others getting married and moving away. I wasn't planning on marrying any of them myself. And several I didn't even expect to see again anyway.

Then I realized that what I really was losing were people who knew the Matt before the mission, and would be so impressed to see the new and improved Matt after the mission. Now, the people I meet will only know the post-mission Matt, which probably won't be that much to look at. They won't appreciate it because they didn't know how much worse the pre-mission Matt was.

It's like when I was living at home, my room was a total mess. So when I made even a little effort to clean it, Mom was ecstatic when she saw it, even though it still needed a lot more work done. When other people saw my "cleaned" room for the first time, they only complained that the path through the clothes and junk on the floor was too narrow, or tried to guess what it was they smelled coming from under the bed.

Because of this, I've decided that my pick-up line for after the mission will be "If you think this is bad, you should have seen me two years ago."

Our Mission President has asked us to knock doors for two hours on Sundays. When knocking doors in apartment complexes, we've found that often, the people in one complex have something similar about them. Sometimes they are all Spanish-speaking. Sometimes they are all Chinese, or all from Taiwan. Sometimes every apartment smells like curry. The other day, we found a complex that was all Jehovah Witnesses. Though none were interested, most were very nice, and only one tried to Bible bash with us. Every once in a while you find an apartment complex where the only thing in common with everyone there is that they all hate missionaries. I try to avoid those ones.

Well, my time is about up, so again I thank you for the many emails this week. Good luck, Mom, with the new school year! And happy (belated) birthday, Brigette!

Love,

Elder Karlsven

He's a Vegan Now? 08/10/09

Dear Family,

For most of my life my philosophy on a balanced diet could be summed up as: Avoid any and all foods that distract from the meat in the meal.

The other day we found ourselves eating at a vegan restaurant. Even more surprising, it was delicious and I felt good afterward. I won't become a vegan, or even a vegetarian, but since having to be awake, alert and energized working 10am to 9pm every day, I've realized the blessings of being able to "run and not be weary" and "walk and not faint" when following the "eat meat sparingly" part of the Word of Wisdom. A meat-induced coma after lunch can be a huge stumbling block for a missionary.

This morning during study we were reading a talk by D. Todd Christofferson that spoke about keeping the missionary purpose(Helping people develop faith in Jesus Christ, repenting, being baptized, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end) the reason for your missionary work, and not let the means of doing this become the goal. In other words, finding people to teach who will progress in the gospel, and not finding people to teach just to teach. Sometimes it's hard to keep this in mind when you're just happy to find a handful of people who are willing to listen, but then refuse to act on your words to find out if the promises you give to them are true. It just made me laugh a little when I thought of some of the people I've taught in the past who were mentally not all there, just wanted money from the church, or just liked having missionaries over (and had been taking the lessons for over 2 years without any progress). I think at some point, trying to teach these people the gospel, turns from a hope to a delusion.

But I still love teaching.

Elder Galletti was sick this week, so we didn't go out a lot. I learned my lesson from when I infected half of San Juan Bautista with bronchitis.

Thanks for the emails, everyone. I'll write some better emails next time, I promise.

Love,

Elder Karlsven

Good Eating! 08/03/09

Dear Family,

I found out yesterday that Elder Galletti and I will be staying in Los Altos for at least 6 more weeks. But I'm not complaining. One difference between me and Elder Galletti is that when I look in our fridge, I start getting ready to go to McDonalds. When Elder Galletti looks in the fridge, somehow he thinks of delicious things to make, and then he even makes enough for both of us! I often say to him, "I don't care what everyone in the mission and the ward thinks of the French. You are a nice guy." He appreciates my compliments.

The other day we made Ratatouille at an investigator's house. Or rather, I cut some vegetables for Elder Galletti as he made Ratatouille. He made me chop up three onions, and I was literally sobbing by the time I was done. We decided that hiding onions in our scriptures would help people think we were more sincere when our eyes tear up any time we open them.

Even though it was mostly vegetables, the Ratatouille food was much better than the movie.

Last week tracting was heaven. This week tracting has given me a testimony that there is opposition in all things. I remember one door we knocked and I felt like I needed to use the somewhat controversial door approach, "Hi, we're here to annoy you. Is it working?" They answered the door -a man only in his 20's and only in his underwear- and I chickened out. Instead I said, "Hey, how's it going?" He said 3 words, of which one was an obscenity, and then slammed the door.

"What did he say?" asked Elder Galletti.

"He said he's already a member of the Church and is on his way to the temple," I responded.

"Oh."

It's been a slow week, but all the ups and downs of serving here have shown me that when it rains, it pours. You just have to be patient, diligent and remember to have fun until it does.

Love,

Elder Karlsven