Monday, July 18, 2011

summertime and mission news

We are having a great summer. The weather's been beautiful, we have been busy but not crazy. It's hard to believe July is half-over already!

Kristi was laid off of her job at the college day care but has been fortunate to pick up several odd jobs here and there (house sitting, pet care, child care-type stuff), and she has also been going into work with her dad helping him with lots of things he's gotten behind on while he's been wearing all the hats. She is SOO excited (and a little nervous) to begin college in a few weeks!

Austin was invited to play on the varsity summer basketball league, which meant some tournaments in the Sacramento area, but that's over and now he's giving his full attention to football practice (7-10:45 a.m. almost daily). He also has several lawn mowing clients, so he is making lots of money, building big muscles, and getting very blond and tan.

Dallin has been playing with friends, swimming in the backyard pool, and working on his first summer homework assignment, a 25-page packet for 6th grade advanced math. 25 pages, really?????? Austin also has summer assignments for math, history and english which he hasn't made much time for yet. I am really NOT a fan of summer assignments. And that would be an understatement.

Brennan was just transferred to a new area, into an area that hasn't had missionaries since '09, with a companion he had never met before. It's a small town (6,000 people) with a small branch as you will see in the letter I am including. Remember the story of the sons of Mosiah being sent to teach the Lamanite nation? Well, this is like Elders Shaffer and Christensen being sent to teach the Baptist nation. I think they have their work cut out for them. But gratefully he sounds excited and optimistic!

By the way, you will see that Brennan references a job that Keith got. We are feeling extremely blessed this week that Keith did take a job which for many reasons seems perfect for him. We definitely feel the Lord's hand in this, and know that even though it's been a stressful 2-3 years for us, the Lord has been mindful of our situation and has guided us to this position. He is hopeful that he can keep his consulting business alive on some level as well, but only time will tell how feasible that will be.

And now, here's today's email from my handsome missionary son (who turns twenty today!):

Shaffer Family and Friends!

Thank you all for all the birthday wishes! That really did make my day. I actually forgot it was my birthday this morning until a member in the Radcliff ward sent me a text saying happy birthday, we love you and miss you dearly. That felt good, but I did totally forget about what day it was. Thank you for the letter and the cookies, and the money; I really didn’t need anything but thank you anyways!

I'm so glad to hear Dad got the job. I'm so happy to hear that, I really, really am! I'm sure that will take a little bit of a burden off of your shoulders mom. So i'm very glad to hear that -- the Lord works in mysterious ways, so we will see what plans he has for dad in this new job.

Okay on to the good stuff. Monticello, Kentucky. Hmmm I really don't even know where to start. We are the most southern area in the mission, I've actually been to the Tennessee border so that was cool. The people here talk so different. I'm not kidding, I've never heard people talk like this before its unreal. It makes me laugh so so so much!!! Everybody down here seems pretty set in their ways, 98% of the community are baptists and pretty active ones at that. There are 63 churches here in the county and a lot of them are bigger than our community center in Carson. There are huge signs on almost every street and on the highway warning us about Christ’s second coming, and huge 10 Commandement billboards, and how we are all sinners and we need Jesus Christ. I'll take some pictures, its unreal. It’s a different world down here without a doubt, unlike anywhere I've ever been in my life. Let’s see, our apartment address is 45 Sycamore Dr. #11 Monticello KY 42633. Its a nice little condo that’s a lot bigger than my last apartment so that’s nice. No dishwasher though, so that stinks! But we do have a washer and dryer which I did not have before. It’s such a small community - everybody knows everybody here, and its just really different. It's cool though and I'm going to enjoy it a lot.

Okay check this out. So this Sunday we went to church and there are 8-10 active members that show up every week! That’s right - 8-10!!!!!!!!!!! I've never experienced anything like this before. We have one young women and that’s President Shoemake’s (Branch President) daughter. And no young men, not a one. Our Branch President is awesome, he's a truck driver with only 3 top teeth!! No joke! He's straight Kentucky, but he is such a great humble spiritual man I already love him a lot. The first counselor in the branch is brother Barton who is my favorite. He reminds me of dad a lot and i really like him. Those are 2 of the 4 priesthood holders in the branch. The other one is an 80 year old man who has polio so he cannot walk or move well, and the other is a 39 year old man, not married, who lives with his mom, and acts like he still lives at home. So this branch is unlike anything i've ever experienced! But i'm so excited to be here. This branch is awesome and takes care of us missionaries well! But the work here in the past has been non existent. So I'm just excited to work my hardest and baptize the heck out of Monticello! Its going to be extremely hard in the next upcoming weeks. But i know that there are people here ready and prepared, we just need to find them because the branch needs them so much! Dull months are for Dull missionaries, so we're not going to have any Dull months, only productive, energetic, exciting months here in Monticello! I feel very overwhelmed though, to be completly honest. Not because the area is new, but just the urgency in finding new people to help this branch. I feel like there is a lot weighing on our shoulders. I guess I've asked for this though, because i have not wanted my mission to get easy ever, and I don’t know if it will ever be easy here. So i'm very excited for the potential in this area, and that the Lord has trusted Elder Christensen and I to be here at this time to help this area explode. I'll send pictures here shortly but i want to take some more in this area before i send it. P-Day will be weird; we’re 25 miles away from the closest elders so there will be no hanging out with other missionaries while I'm down here. That will be hard because i'm used to playing basketball or football, but not for awhile!

Thanks for all you guys writing me birthday stuff, i really appreciate it. Well i'm going to respond to the other emails now, but I love you guys so much. Keep being great, and setting that example for me. I love you all so much!

Elder Shaffer