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Friday, October 08, 2010

Finally Coming Home!

Matthew is coming home on Monday October 11th! The plan is for him to speak on Sunday October 17th in the Grandview South Stake Center at 11am. We are so excited to have Matt home!

Top and Bottom 10 10/04/2010

Dear Family,
To sum up my missionary experience here in California, I made the following lists. Enjoy.
Top 10 Things I Will Miss About Being A Missionary in California:
10. Free dinners with families every day
9. Driving a 2009 Chevy Malibu
8. Not having to pay for gas
7. Perfect weather
6. Being treated like a celebrity at church
5. Quoting church videos word-for-word
4. Meeting at least 5 people for different continents every day
3. Getting every member's leftover food even if you didn't eat with them
2. Inviting people to be baptized during the first visit with them
1. Being able to point to a nametag every time I introduce myself
Top 10 Things I Will NOT Miss About Being a Missionary in California:
10. Being mistaken for a Jehovah Witness, Polygamist, or Amish person
9. Waiting 2-3 months in an area before anyone pronounces my name correctly
8. Trying experimental recipes ward members make for us
7. Californians that complain if it's even 2 degrees above or below 72 degrees
6. Having to get out of the car and direct the driver any time the car is in reverse
5. Endless phone calls
4. Being attached at the hip to some other dude 24/7
3. Smelling a different ethnic food every time we go in our apartment complex
2. All the contents of my front pocket spilling out when I bend over, often referred to as a "pocket-puke"
1. My 2 best CDs are "Ultimate EFY Collection" and "LDS Superhits of the 90's"
Despite this last list, I've loved it here. These 2 years have changed and helped me more than any other time in my life. I have seen the gospel in action helping others have the happier, most satisfying, and Christ-centered lives that they are looking for. I can't express how grateful I am to have spent my time here as a missionary.
I'll be home on Monday just after noon. How about Burger Supreme for lunch?
Elder Karlsven

Not Coming Home Yet 09/30/2010

Dear Family,
Friday night. We are teaching Moss and Mele Malala in their apartment. Mele is scheduled to be baptized on October 9. During the closing prayer, Mele got up and went into the kitchen. After the prayer, she came out with 2 styrofoam containers filled with chicken wings and rice for us.
On the ride home, Elder Bell and I sat in silence, pondering. It may have been the smell of the chicken wings in the car, but I was filled with a great love for both of them. The feeling that I needed to be there for her baptism was growing in me. When I got in the apartment, the feeling continued to increase. I knelt to pray about it. The feeling remained. Coming into the kitchen, I said to Elder Bell, "Dude, I'm thinking about extending to see Mele's baptism."
I called President Jackson. After telling him about Mele (you always got to begin a conversation with the mission president about some sort of success) I said "So President, what do you think about me extending for 2 weeks to see her baptism?" In a casual tone, he told me to call Mom and Dad and see if it's okay and then call him back. 10 minutes later it was decided that I would stay to see Mele's baptism.
That's what they say about missions, you know. First you hate them. Then you get used to them. Enough time passes and then you depend on them. Institutionalized, is the term for it. Nah, but I'm pretty happy to have 2 more weeks with the people we're working with out here.
All of Monday I spent with the missionaries that were going home. President Jackson did his last interviews with them, and then he and his wife gave us all advice about going home. My favorite line he said was, "You will all be nerds when you get home. You won't know how to act around anyone..."
Tuesday was the worst day. On Monday night I slept over with all the missionaries going home. The airport is in the Santa Clara area, so we arranged for my companion to pick me up there when we would see the other missionaries off. We drove the missionaries to the airport, helping them with their luggage and all that. In the airport, I looked at the departure and arrival flights on the big TV screens. I saw the flight I would have been on. Dang.
But at the end we greeted the 18 new missionaries arrive at the airport, just beginning their missions. Confused, overly shy or extremely talkative, eyes wide open, tripping over their luggage, etc. I love new missionaries.
Anyway, I hope all of you that were planning huge surprise parties for me are able to have the catering, DJs, and firework shows moved back two weeks. Sorry about that.
I hope you all are doing great. I'll see you all soon. October 11 is the date.
Elder Karlsven

Soap Boxing 09/20/2010

Dear Family,
We invited our Ethiopian refugee investigators to George and Maria Batis's baptism on Saturday. 2 of them came - TD, and Keeflay. I got a little uneasy as Maria was baptized. She went face-first into the water, got her face and hair wet, and then came back up, gasping for air and trying to walk out of the font. She didn't realize she didn't go all the way under the water.
But it must have been a good experience for the Ethiopians. While eating cookies afterward, TD asked, "When can I be baptized?"
Also on Saturday, I realized I had not done something I always wanted to do as a missionary. That is what is sometimes referred to as "soapboxing." Luckily there was the local "Art and Wine Festival" going on at Santa Clara. There they have live music, lots of booths set up, and lots of people (many at different points of becoming drunk). We walked to the most crowded place with the most foot-traffic, carrying a milk crate and a sack of 16 copies of the Book of Mormon. I set the crate upside-down just off of the path, grabbed 2 or 3 books, and hopped onto the crate.
My original plan was to begin teaching about the Restoration until a few people began listening. Just like the first missionaries sent to Europe used to do on the street. No go. My voice wasn't loud enough to be heard for long over all the noise of the crowd. So I changed my approach to yelling:
"FREE BOOK! Jesus Christ teaches in America! FREE BOOK!"
Pretty effective if you can believe it. In about 10 minutes all 16 copies of the Book of Mormon were given away.
My favorite part was when a cop came up to us, and said "I'm sorry guys, but you can't sell those things here."
"Can we give them away?"
"Well, yeah, but you should probably, uh..."
Elder Bell offered, "Would you like a copy?"
"Oh, no, no," the cop said and walked away quickly.
-No unhallowed hand can stop this work-
Yesterday we had what is called the "Outgoing Missionary Fireside." It's the fireside for the missionaries going home, and especially for their converts and investigators. Making 150 to 200 phone calls telling people about it paid off with about 40 of the people I've met out here show up. About 300 total people came. I hope Dad is okay with me telling lots of people about his conversion story. I shared it with this group.
Basically this week has been awesome. I'm really excited to come home. Mostly to see Weston and Kaylee. I haven't updated my pictures of them, so I still imagine them a year and a half younger than they are. I'll probably be freaked out when I see them.
I love you guys. I was planning on bringing everyone back some food from In-and-Out Burger, but I heard there's one in Utah Valley now. Any other requests?
The Church is true. I hope no one has forgotten that. It took 2 years of having nothing to think about but the gospel for me to realize that. I love the people here, a lot because I've seen how the Spirit has worked in their hearts, inspiring them to become better, love others, be filled with hope and happiness, and last of all - to buy us missionaries food.
Seriously though, we get fed a lot. It's like as soon as someone's testimony grows, they get a sudden urge to buy food for the missionaries. Yet another evidence of the truth of this work. If anyone out there is contemplating going on a mission, I want you to know that it pays off. You see the lives of those you love become so much better as they learn to make changes to bring their lives in closer harmony with the Savior's teachings. Plus, the same thing happens to you without you even knowing it. Do it.
Elder Karlsven