What exactly are you going to do on your mission?
I have accepted the calling to be a missionary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints so that I may share the gospel to those who are yearning to know of the truth of the gospel. I have answers to questions that people don't even know to ask. I am going to tell people where we came from, why we are here, and where we are going. I will explain to everyone that will listen why Christ is the center of the Plan of Happiness and why the Atonement that Jesus Christ has provided for us is necessary for our salvation.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving Weekend

Elder Walker had a very filling Thanksgiving weekend. The best part was that this past Saturday they had 3 baptisms. A mother and her two children. He was really excited about it. He was able to confirm the daughter. What a great thing to happen over Thanksgiving weekend! He then shared how his Thanksgiving was:
I had plenty of Thanksgiving. I had 4 meals on Thurs. (four entire blown-out meals ... there was no room for desert and it was over the space of 5-6 hours) it was supposed to be five, one of the times conflicted. We were invited to a lot more though but turned them all down. We also had a Thanksgiving meal with a family yesterday right after church. We have a lot of food in our fridge right now. 
I participated in a turkey bowl game with the ward (football game) (yes, we had permission to) it was lots of fun and it was a little bit painful for me. I was pretty sore the next day.
Elder Walker has been in the Summerville area for the last few weeks. There are four missionaries in that area, but he and his companion have the west side of the city including St. George City Northwest. Soon after he had arrived in South Carolina a few weeks ago, his mission president and the wife wrote us to tell us how great of a person he is. They sent us two photos! Here's Elder Walker's words describing his travel to South Carolina:
President Holms and Sister Holms with Elder Benjamin Walker
When I stopped in Atlanta, Georgia it was a huge airport so I had to use a subway train to make it to the place where we boarded (and called you). After we got to Columbia, SC, our mission president was there to meet us. All 13 of us, how nice. We went with him to his house I think (just to let you know I wrote this stuff down in one of my journals so you can have more info on it later if you ask nicely). His house seems to be a little bigger than our house except the space is much more efficiently used up. One room has four bunk beds in the one I stayed in. There are 3 other rooms for missionaries 2-3 beds each in them, not including their master bedroom. The next day we went to the forest outside the temple (there is forest everywhere) which resembles the sacred grove, then talked to the new temple president for a couple of minutes in the waiting room of the temple. Then we went out to eat at a southern place and Pres. Holm made a referral out of the waitress (he showed us all how it's done) and now I'm here.

He also shared a bit about their apartment:
We borrowed a carpet cleaner from a member. My companion loves that thing. The carpet still needs to be replaced but it looks a million times better, that's right, 1,000,000 times better!
He seems to be doing fantastically. Keep him in your prayers this Christmas season! If you'd like to send him a Christmas package you'll have to send it by the end of November or the beginning of December so that he can receive it at his next transfer meeting which is a week or so before Christmas. The address is the same as the normal mail address.

Monday, November 21, 2011

End of Week 2 in SC

Elder Walker wrote us today! He first made it known how sweet it was to have a good friend of ours in primary write a letter asking if they could be pen-pals. Elder Walker said that of course he accepted and that he hopes this young boy will have fun reading his future letters.

He had some interesting information to share with use that we found a tad fascinating.

First, I should share with you that he was considering buying a GPS unit because then he could figure out where he was going and such. But he had decided against it:
I decided that I'm not going to buy a GPS unit for a couple reasons. 
1. I'd rather have a hands-on map of every area I go to than for using google maps. 
2. (this is really awesome) ... The church have been progressing a lot lately in technology ... I went to a meeting last tues (every tues) and one of the ward mission leaders told us that he was talking with someone (I forgot his name though), a general authority I think, and it turns out that the church will be giving ipads to every single missionary. The ones out in the field will be receiving one and incoming missionaries will be receiving one. This is what results because of it:
  • mission presidents will be able to call the missionaries if they have been in the apartment too long. (all ipads will have been programmed in a way so that the mission pres can see where we are at all times)
  • does away with all CDs/DVD players/thumb drives/GPS needs/ward rosters/etc.
  • all missionaries get to keep the ipad after their mission. the ipad will be his/hers to keep.
  • the missionaries will need to pay a little extra per month, because they will be paying for it (but I'm sure that the church gets some sort of huge discount for buying in bulk)
  • it's unlikely that it will come out before I get off my mission, but I wouldn't be surprised if Joshua gets one on his mission and I would be surprised if Robert doesn't get one of his mission.
Then there are other things happening with the ways missionaries do things. In the Fresno California Mission, where Elder Walker's parents live within, is where the testing of church tours first occurred before going worldwide. Apparently, in the Columbia South Carolina Mission they are doing another test:
Something else the church has done is started a test program in my mission to have members write a letter to a friend telling them something to the effect of "because I care for you so much I want you to be a part of this church". This isn't with me, but one set of missionaries are doing this in my mission. 
There are a few things that every missionary is warned about and what everyone home wants to know about. The food. Sometimes you eat some odd food and sometimes you eat some really amazing food. But this is what Elder Walker has to say about the food so far:
We handed out a dinner sign-up sheet for everybody to feed us four missionaries (four in the ward). It was my idea, and so we carried this idea out. The second meal I had with a family was a very very southern meal, it couldn't have gotten more southern. They cooked gritts with other weird stuff, it was edible. The other meals I ate were pretty good. I have discovered other ways to prepare meals via my companion and the other two missionaries in my apt. A lot of it tastes pretty good, I'll have to show you when I get back.
yall'd enjoy it (I've done been speaking southrn)
He informs us that so far he hasn't had much of a problem understanding people. "Most people are normal." Also, his missionary work seems to be going well so far! Which is a really fantastic thing to hear about:
Yesterday was a long day, I biked more than 20 miles. That's ok though, it was good for us. We did make 61 contacts yesterday. (Yes, that's a lot, about 30 a day is what we are supposed to be doing) 
We committed a family of three (mother and two children) to be baptized this upcoming Saturday the 26th of November, they have been progressing investigators for 6 months now, and they committed to baptism last Sat the 19th, (they have been on date 3 or 4 times previously though, but I think this one will be ok). 
So that's all for today! Please write him! He's truly love to hear from you and write to you as soon as he can.

Monday, November 14, 2011

First week out of the MTC

Elder Walker at the Provo Temple
As you all may know, Elder Walker left the MTC last Monday. Just before he left, he mailed us a CD of his mission pictures that we received on Saturday. He even labeled most of them. I'll be including a lot of them throughout this post (but mostly at the end of it), as we have also received an email from him today as it's his P-Day. Thus, here are snippets of his email:
Well, I don't know where to start. There is a lot to tell.
Lets just say that there were miracles to other people that happened and that I wrote some of them down. These are three people that we've met for the first time. To quickly summarize three of them:

One guy was declared dead at a hospital and saw an angel.
Probably won't get baptized by proper authority, it was a street contact and we never saw him again.

One guy's daughter ran away from home last week and he is in very humbling situation right now (might get baptized someday).

Another guy that almost died due to anxiety/asthma attack because of some bad things he did and was sorry for and saw the hand and wrist of Jesus Christ in a dream who told him that everything would be ok (this was 4 years ago). Since then he has turned his life completely around and has much knowledge about Christ but his sources aren't good source as he knows a lot of wrong things about our church. (For instance: he thinks that we have been commanded to have at least 5 kids.)  But he's very receptive to everything he hears all he wants is proof of one of the things Joseph prophesied and after he'll do the research on him and believe us if he find out that it came true. The problem with this guy is that he's trying to figure things out the wrong way. But he treated us like heroes. He welcomed us into his house having never seen us before very excitedly knowing exactly who we were even though he'd never met missionaries before. He was baptized in another church though as that was one of the first things that he did after he got over his anxiety stuff, he found a church (he went for any church) to baptism him.
Elder Walker pointing to South Carolina
It seems he's still doing great! Apparently it's colder than he expected and is thinking of getting gloves and another cheap suit. But he says his bicycle works great! Which is good considering how much he'll be using it. He mentions that he'd love to get mail. Well, he sort've implies that. But he could be speaking to the family who hasn't written him a letter this past week. Whoops. In anycase, he ends his short email telling us he doesn't have a whole lotta time before the computer kicks him off and then says:
Well, I'm off to the mall, then store for food then I'll be writing letters all day. . . . literally, I get to write to everybody. . .

Elder Lash, Elder Phillips, Elder Hansen and Elder Walker

Elder Walker's District 
Elder Walker's District at the Provo Temple

Elder Phillips and Elder Walker at the Provo Temple

Monday, November 7, 2011

Off to South Carolina

Elder Walker has just arrived in Atlanta, Georgia on his way to South Carolina. We know this because he's just called home. He informed us so our mother wouldn't keep worrying about him. It's really great that the missionaries can contact their families to inform them of their safe arrival. My mom was really quite surprised and happy. We were hoping for at least an email. But a phone call was certainly great. See, traditionally there are two times a year when missionaries can call home. Christmas and Mother's Day. Today was apparently an exception. Love it.

However, he also wanted to tell us that the mission home address has changed since the point when he first received his mission call.

Thus, I just want you to know to no longer send letters to the MTC. He's no longer there. Send them to:

Elder Benjamin Walker
South Carolina Columbia Mission
110 Oak Park Dr #B
Irmo, SC 29063

But it was really great to hear him on the phone. He sounds like he's really enjoying life. Pray for him! and send him a letter! He'd appreciate it! from anyone!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

The Second Week of the MTC

Elder Walker is extremely lucky having 6 family members. If we each write him a letter once a week, well, let's just say that he gets letters. Though this may tapper off as the weeks go by. However, he has sent us a few hand written letters in return.

He starts out writing about his mission and his trip and such and how he's supposed to write us a letter as soon as he arrives at the MTC. So he did, but just hadn't sent it yet. In anycase, this was sealed inside one of his letters:
It's classic Elder Walker. This is the kind of humor he has. If you don't get it, think about it for a little bit. In order for that note to be sent to us in his letter, the envelope wasn't sealed yet. He could have taken the stamps out himself. I guess he really wanted us to write him back.

The next letter we received looked like this:
It's tiny. And every other line you have to use a mirror to read because he wrote it backwards. We're lucky he didn't write it in cursive. He's actually extremely talented in writing backwards. It looks exactly like his forward letters and words. Though it's extremely hard to read. When it's tiny. and backwards every other line. He's funny that way. :)

In Elder Walker's most recent E-mail it seems he's doing fine. In fact, I'm pretty sure he's doing more than fine based on his words. Here are some excerpts:
I can eat ice-cream every day, breakfast, lunch, and dinner. I found the ice-cream container on the first Sunday I was there ... if I wasn't constantly looking for it I wouldn't have found it.
Apparently the ice cream machine is in the back corner of the MTC cafeteria. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to find it as soon as he did, so he hadn't shown it to his companions as of last week. They've probably all found it by now though.

To my 17 year old brother he wrote:
now for the good news: when you go on a mission it is going to be lots of fun, you will enjoy it a lot.
Then there is Elder Walker's description just of how life is in the MTC:
Every meal is a buffet of good food ... not really a buffet though, just lots of different places where they prepare different plates of food and you can go wherever you want to get whatever variety of anything you want any time. I hope you understood all that ... and I've replaced my love of drinking milk with chocolate milk ... it's much better, and still all you can drink. in the cafeteria, with my card I get a 100% discount on everything. (big surprise there). and a 40% discount on everything in the store (which I have probably 40 dollars in getting a variety of colored pens and stamps and blank white paper and larger envelopes (for the blank printer paper). I am still sure that I made the best decision I could have made in the first 20 years of my life: to go on a mission. 
I have got to tell you about all the food we have gotten. Over the past week we, four people in a room (two companionships), have received 5 different types of cookies with a minimum of 6 for one type and 20 for the max. We have received enough brownies to provide everyone with their full share of desserts if we were to have a party at the Remington's. We have received a Pumpkin cake, cupcakes, frosted cookies, muffins. and lots and lots and lots of candy. all together including everything we already ate and gave away (as we got more today I later found out) we have received 30-50lb of junk food. I took a picture of what is left that we didn't give away as of this morning. 
Then he goes on to thank different people for different things:
I never thanked Uncle Donald for picking Elder Fischer and I from temple square ... would you call him and thank him for me? some friends of mine and Russell's visited us while we were at Uncle Greg and Aunt Debbie's house and Uncle Donald left during that time. Uncle Donald and Aunt Louise gave be a box full of cookies Tues night .. how nice of them. 
So he's really thankful for Uncle Donald, Aunt Louise, Uncle Greg and Aunt Debbie for the things they've done for him. He wants us to make sure they all know that.
And, of course, he thanks the editor if this blog for the absolutely amazing work I'm doing by saying:

Thank you for hosting my mission online for me, you are such a nice sister, I told my friends that you are doing that and that they should look at it to find out about it.
Did I mention that you were very nice to me? I realize that doing all of that online is a lot of work to do, thank you for doing that for me.
He's also really grateful for the DearElder.com site where you can type up a letter and it gets sent to him immediately. For those of you who has never used it you go to the site and create a free account. Then you write to the Elders and Sisters on their missions. It's a lot less expensive and in some cases it's even free (especially at the MTC).  So I'd recommend you use it to write Elder Walker unless you wish to write a handwritten letter.

Until next week everyone! Keep Elder Walker in your prayers along with all the other missionaries in the world!