A day in the life of a Fort Worth missionary. . . as posted by his parents

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Christmas Phone Call - Exerpts

Dear Friends and Family,

As you can see the last two post were a little tardy on my part. Recent shoulder surgery has slowed me down a bit and computer typing was slow to impossible.  Now that I've regained use of my left arm again, I've manage to post Elder Shoemaker's last two letters.  We did not have a letter on Christmas Eve, as we were expecting a call on Christmas morning and the Library, where Nate writes his letters was closed for the holidays.

We were all anxiously anticipating the phone to ring and promptly at 9:00 a.m. on Christmas morning we heard the melodious ring that we were all waiting for...

Nate:  Merry Christmas Mom and Dad and Justin...(I started the crying here, but managed to bury it for most of the duration of the call)

It was so good to hear his voice.  He sounds so OLD, but sounds very strong, upbeat and happy.  He was actually in the car with his companion as the tin roof of their "barn house" prevents adequate cell phone reception.  Elder Moses had just finished his call home and now it was Nate's turn.

We exchanged Christmas wishes and then proceeded directly to getting questions asked as Nate was very serious about keeping to his Mission Rules phone call length.

I had written down several questions the night before.  These are some of the things we talked about.

How do you decide what tie to wear? 
    Nate:  That is a tough thing sometimes.  It depends on how I'm feeling that day and I try to think of what I've worn recently.  I've put several ties into a box that  don't wear or that are too flashy for the mission.  I've also given many away at Zone Conferences to Elders in need or to other people.  I've also packed away stuff I don't use or stuff I'm not allowed to have like the Nose Flute - Missions rules say no instruments.  (LOL).

What are your wards like?
     Nate:  The wards in Texas are great.  They really love their missionaries.  One member here says if we need ANYTHING, not to call the mission pres or our parents, but to call him and he will take care of us.  We've really been spoiled by members this Christmas - from goodies, treats, dinners to Gift Cards, money and presents.  Texas is a pretty well-off area.  Our apartment is owned by members who have a nice big house with a pool, not that we can use of course, but they are an amazing family.  We are having Christmas dinner with them later.  There will be 17 family members there.  This is one family I will surely come back to see when I am off my mission.  We are also heading to a part member home for dinner too.

Has the President's wife come to inspect the apartment?
    Nate:  Whenever I get to a new area, the apartment is pretty thrashed, so on P-day I give it a White Tornado (Mom's version of cleaning like a banshee).  My apartment always looks good.  The AIR WICK things are great.  I left the room for a minute and came out and it smelled like sugar cookies when I came back.  That was an awesome gift.  

Did you enjoy the gifts?
     Nate:  The PJ pants are awesome.  We found the Marshmallow guns will fit the nerf darts too, so that's awesome. The GPS saves us so much time.  I've keyed in all our members homes and it really saves us time.  We just ask for the shortest distance and we're off.  Thanks so much.  Some missionaries have them, but we got here and found our car didn't have it.  The Mission Pres thinks they're great.

 What are your District Leader responsibilities like?  How have your companions been?
    Nate:  I call the other missionaries each week to get their reports (numbers) on number of discussions, contacts and so forth.  I report this to the Zone Leaders.  I also call them to see how it's going and to help where I can.  I've had some companions who were not as motivated so it has been hard at times, but by the time there came a transfer I feel I helped them to be in a better place and feel like they found more motivation to serve.

Have you bought any Texas souvenirs?
     Nate:  So far, only my cowboy boots.  I am still looking for a Texas flag.  Oh and I was given a Texas license plate that says "Truckin".  Lots of license plates are like that around here.

Are you a "truck guy" now?
     Nate:  I like trucks all right, but I think when I get home, I'll look for a more reliable car, maybe an Accord or a Toyota to get me back and forth from college.  Is my car, I mean, the Sentra still running?  I'm thinking of doing the Dave Ramsey thing and working and saving up to get a better car.

Have you gained or lost weight?
     Nate:  Well, remember I lost about 15 when I first got here.  Since then I've put some back on, so I guess I'm up about 5 pounds since I left home.  Elder Moses and I have agreed to start running for our exercise.

Do you have any after-effects from the rear ending accident?
     Nate:  Nope, I'm doing great.  That accident was a pretty interesting thing though.  It was a rainy evening and I remember hearing a prompting that told me to prepare and that we were going to get hit.  As we were waiting for oncoming traffic before we could turn left, the lady in the Trailblazer behind us hit our right rear part of the car and sent us into another car.  I had the impression to take my foot off the break and as it turns out, that was the best thing I could have done.  The lady was pretty upset, as she had just picked up her car from the auto shop.  It was still primered from her last accident doing the same exact thing.  She turned out to be a less-active member too.  It was interesting.  

Do you have enough money each month to get by on?
    Nate: Yes, plenty.  I made us Christmas breakfast today.  We've got some great deals here in Texas.  I bought a gallon of milk for $1.  And eggs are .39 cents a dozen.

Who cuts your hair?
     Nate:  There is a lady member here who cuts it for free.

Have you spoken in church or bared your testimony?
     Nate:  I've not spoken yet, but have had the opportunity to bare my testimony.  I usually go to church on Fast Sunday with a decision already made to bare my testimony and I usually do it right away.  On one Sunday before the elections, I had decided to testify, but the spirit said wait.  My Mission President counseled us to always be prepared to testify in case the spirit leaves the room.  A rather zealous member got a little excited over the elections to come and turned the testimony meeting in another direction.  I promptly got up and was able to help restore the proper spirit to the meeting.  Our  Stake President was there and read from the handbook regarding elections and so forth.  It was a pretty amazing experience.

What questions do you have for us?
     Nate:  Okay, so what's this NO MEAT/NO DAIRY thing with Spencer and Chelsey?  NO MEAT really?  (You have to realize Nate is in "Longhorn" country)  Mom:  It's called Vegan Nate, and yes they really are.  It's a healthier choice for them.  Nate:  Yeah, I got some Christmas treats from them and .........the chocolate pretzels were good.

     Nate:  So Justin,  what are your plans now that the mission age was set at 18 now?  Justin:  I'm not sure, I'm thinking of working or going to school.  Eric Turner said it was a great experience to really learn more about the gospel with classes and stuff, but I don't know.  I've been reading scriptures every day and have studied Preach My Gospel since you gave me that challenge on Mother's Day, so I feel like I'm getting pretty prepared already.  I don't know for sure yet.
     Nate:  I have a favor to ask of you.  Would you consider working with me when I get home?  We could get up at 6:30 everyday and exercise and then have companion study time together.  It would really help me to transition to home life and I could help you prepare for what it's like in the mission field.
     Justin:  Wow!  I think that would be pretty awesome.

What have you learned about yourself?  (This part is a little muddled, cause I started crying at this point)
    Nate:  (Basically said this...)  I know that all things are possible through Christ.  I know this is the foundation in which to raise my family and prepare for my future.  I will have true happiness and eternal blessings from living all the standards of this gospel.   (I know there was more, but it's very tender and special, so I'll let Nate share that on his own with you someday)

We were fast approaching the 40 minute mark so Paul asked Nate to share his testimony.  It's a special moment to hear the power and conviction in his voice.  He KNOWS the gospel is true.  He's a witness to it everyday of his mission.  He is an obedient missionary and has witnessed miracles and marvelous works in his service.  He has had challenges, but knows he can overcome and helps others through his example and loving ways.

He hopes others will write to him and thanks those who have done so.

As his parents, we are overjoyed at his sacrifice and service.  We knew the forty minutes would go quickly and wished for 40 more, but wanted to help him remain obedient  - we only have to repent of a 2 minute and 34 second overage.   LOL.

Hope you enjoyed his phone call. We surely did.

Counting the days till our next phone call -  Mother's Day....

12/17/12 - Christmas call next week -

Dear Mom and Dad, and everyone else,

There is so much to tell this week. Me and elder Moses planned it out -our calls for Christmas day.  He will call home to Utah at 10 Texas time and I will call at around 11 Texas time which I think is 9 for y'all  We will have to keep the talk time to 40 minutes so be prepared for flying time. I will definitely think of some questions for y'all but i will definitely be open to questions for me.

I am glad to hear that moms surgery went well and that she is already getting up and moving around. There is actually a less active member and her non member husband we have been working with, she had a knee replacement on the 12th,  the day after your surgery. It was definitely good for this family to see the ward reach out by providing food for them and we were also able to visit them in the hospital. He is really opening up and so has she. Hopefully they will be at church in the next month.

The Christmas lights look so great the tree looks amazing too. Our apartment is pretty well decorated and I used the tree that you sent me. Thank you so much for the gifts they are really helping out already. The GPS is used every day all day to help us get around and we have been using the Nerf guns to have wars in the morning for exercise. 

We are currently in a car but we will also get out on the bikes about once a week. The weather is mild and a little cold but not cold enough for me. Ha ha That is super crazy what happened to the awning.   As soon as I caught a glimpse of the picture I knew exactly what happened. 

This week has gone pretty swell- on Saturday I started to get sick around lunch time but we still went out and we received so many blessings. We left at lunchtime and did not return till 8:20 to have a short dinner before we planned for the next day. I also received the Mission letter from all of you and it was so great to read it. They were given to us at a zone conference to read. That letter has been a source of inspiration for me and will continue to be.  I was bawling when I finished. I was so proud to hear about your achievements Justin and how well your journal writing has been going along with you reading preach my gospel. I too have upped my quality of journal entries and have started an in depth study of preach my gospel. It is such an amazing source of knowledge and will greatly benefit you in preparation for your mission.

I will be talking to y'all soon and next week I will not be able to write since the library will be closed but you will hear from me on Christmas.

I love y'all so much am excite to hear your voices

Love, Elder Shoemaker

December 10, 2012

 Dear Mom and Dad,

    Wow I cannot even fathom how old I am.  I feel so immature right now that I am basically 20 Years old! I am glad that y'all have been able to relax from the vacation that y'all had. I am excited to see the pictures and also hear the details of the trip. I am also excited for the seasonal packages and definitely how they will even more help the work move along. I am also excited to talk to everyone on Christmas and answer all of the unanswered questions that you have. I will be calling from the mission phone on Christmas and I have been told to figure out where you will be on that day so I can make the call :)

      Our door contacting has actually been going very well.  There are always the experiences where people do not want us there but we have met 3 or 4 very good potential people this week from door contacts which is better than normal. Joshua is filled with very kind people and is a very good area to knock on doors. One person that we actually found that way is doing super great and rode with us and the ward mission leader to church early so he could come to church.  He waited in the lobby and read his colorful Book Of Mormon along side with his bible. The ward has done a great job fellow shipping him and he loves it. Also the recent converts in the ward are really loving the change in their lives. At first, it is foreign but with their friend from the ward they are strengthened. Most of the recent converts here were introduced by members helping them out even more. This past weekend the 26 year old daughter of parents who joined the church a year ago has brought her parents back into the church strong and has been super excited through her teaching process. 

I am excited for the Christmas decor and I will send some pictures next week of our decked halls ha ha. I love y'all so much and I encouraged y'all to strongly focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season.  As a missionary it allows us to focus on the true purpose. I would recommend looking on it is amazing what the church is doing. I hope you all have a great week and make sure to bundle up.  It is 35 degrees here soIi am sure it is cold at home.

Love Elder Shoemaker

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Christmas Spirit of the Gospel

Dear Mom and Dad,

    Wow!  I cannot even fathom how old I am.  I feel so immature right now that I am basically 20 years old! I am glad that y'all have been able to relax from the vacation that y'all had. I am excited to see the pictures and also hear the details of the trip. I am also excited for the seasonal packages and definitely how they will even more help the work move along. I am also excited to talk to everyone on Christmas and answer all of the unanswered questions that you have. I will be calling from the mission phone on Christmas and I have been told to figure out where you will be on that day so I can make the call :)
 Our door contacting has actually been going very well.  There are always the experiences where people do not want us there but we have met 3 or 4 very good potential people this week from door contacts which is better than normal. Joshua is filled with very kind people and is a very good area to knock on doors. One person that we actually found that way is doing super great and rode with us and the ward mission leader to church early so he could come to church. He waited in the lobby and read his colorful Book Of Mormon along side with his bible. The ward has done a great job fellowshipping him and he loves it. Also, the recent converts in the ward are really loving the change in their lives. At first it is foreign but with their friend from the ward they are strengthened. Most of the recent converts here were introduced by members helping them out even more. This past weekend the 26 year old daughter of parents who joined the church a year ago has brought her parents back into the church strong and has been super excited through her teaching process. 

I am excited for the Christmas decor and I will send some pictures next week of our decked halls ha ha. I love y'all so much and I encouraged y'all to strongly focus on the true meaning of the Christmas season, as a missionary it allows us to focus on the true purpose. I would recommend looking on it is amazing what the church is doing. I hope you all have a great week and make sure to bundle up it is 35 degrees here so I am sure it is cold at home.

Love Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Staying in Joshua for another transfer

Dear Mom and Dad,

Wow!  It sounds like the cruise was absolutely amazing and a very good experience to see what life is like in other places.   I love all the pictures so far and I did get the notes last week. Oh my goodness! Justin is so tall and looks pretty handsome. Also, that cave river looked super cool and I bet snorkeling was absolutely amazing. It looks like y'all got plenty of sun and had fun dancing and doing the activities on the ship.  Were there a lot of Mormons on the ship like last time? Ha ha I would not be surprised.

I hope y'all had a great Thanksgiving.  I know that I did and we ended up having three Thanksgiving meals on the actual holiday and then two others before the end of the week. We had one on Sunday after church and I got food poisoning very quickly afterwards and we had to stay in the rest of Sunday except the BYD that we got to speak at  - which was amazing.  I had the opportunity to speak on the spirit and related it to a conference talk that I had read earlier that week by David A. Bednar, relating the spirit to the rising sun and also flipping on a light switch. Sometimes the spirit gives us a direct answer but other times it is gradual like the rising sun.  Both build faith and we all have our different experiences.

Joshua is doing so great. We are finally getting the area down and found out this morning that me and Elder Moses are staying in the area another transfer. We actually have another baptism this Saturday and we have been finding more and more people to teach.   I would like to end with an experience. I was writing in my journal November 30th and started off with Wow! That's tomorrow... and I just started getting choked up and very emotional realizing that I will have been out almost a year and I feel that it has whizzed by.  I thought about what I have accomplished so far and what I still want to become. I am scared how fast this next year will go and I certainly love being out here. Yes, I cannot wait to be home but at the same time I would love to be a missionary forever too -  and that is exactly what I plan to do when I get home. 

I love y'all and am excited for the wonderful family strengthening vacation you were able to have.


Elder Shoemaker

President's letter about Christmas Phone Call

Dear Parents or Guardians:

With Christmas coming soon, we know you are anxiously awaiting the opportunity of visiting with your missionary via phone. The missionary handbook states: “You may telephone your parents on Christmas and one other time during the year (usually Mother’s Day) according to guidelines from your mission president. Take care that these calls do not pull your thoughts away from your service…Keep them short (preferably no longer than 30 or 40 minutes).”

We hope you realize the handbook states this phone call mentions “parents.” Experience has shown that when brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandmas, grandpas and others are allowed to visit with missionaries during these calls, they will often take most of the time leaving little time for the parents. We have asked missionaries to keep these phone calls to 30-40 minutes. Please help them be obedient so we can receive the Lord’s help in this work. (Doctrine and Covenants 130:20-21)

We would also ask that after your missionary has called that you erase their phone number. There is no need for you to have it and it can be too much of a temptation sometimes. Parents should not call or text their missionary. Please know of our love and appreciation for the sacrifice you make to keep your missionary on a mission.  Helping them be obedient will be a great blessing for all.  Your missionary should let you know in their email on December 17th or 24th of the time they will be calling. If a missionary’s parents are out of the United States, we have asked that parents call the missionary instead of the missionary calling the parents.

It is not necessary to call the mission office and correlate this.  If you have a preference of time or if you aren't not going to be home, you can let them know in your email.
We would also ask that you send any Christmas packages to your missionary’s apartment address instead of the Mission Office address. If you send packages to the Mission Office, it often times takes many days before they receive them so sending them to their apartment is much better. Transfers are December 5th so you may want to wait until you know if they have been transferred. They can let you know on December 10th when they email.
We love having your missionary son/daughter in the Texas Fort Worth Mission and we wish all of you a very Merry Christmas.

President and Sister Sagers
Texas Fort Worth Mission

Monday, November 19, 2012

FOUR Thanksgiving Meals this week!!

Dear Mom, Dad, Justin and Everyone,

Thank you always for your letters.  It is so great to be able to hear about the things that go on at home.  I am very excited for the cruise that you will be going on. Honestly, do not worry about making me trunky or anything.   I love it so much out here and I know that this next week I am supposed to be here and y'all are supposed to be out soaking up the sun and swimming with the fishies. Just make sure to send pictures of the family and also a sweet picture of the aqua blue ocean.

So, this week we have four people that have us scheduled for Thanksgiving dinner.  One with the bishop, another with one of the recent converts that was baptized last week, another with a part member family, and then the last with the Spence family - another part member family.  I will most likely be super stuffed and that day with be so great! There also was another baptism this past week for Kristy Jones.  She actually asked me if Ii would baptize her, which was such a great opportunity. She was going to ask elder Dunn but actually last Friday I got a new companion, Elder Moses.  It was a very fast change and we are working hard with our little knowledge of the area.  There was no problems with me and elder Dunn, it was just his time to leave the area.  Please pray for him and also me and Elder Moses in the Joshua area. 

Sad to say, but I will not be able to talk any longer at Christmas time.  The missionary handbook lets us know to keep the calls no longer than 40 minutes. I know there is so much to talk about but I know you all will understand. 

Just know, I will always answer questions, so feel free to ask them.  Here are some pictures.  Elder Dunn is the one that has the armadillo on his head and Elder Moses has brown hair.  The picture with the five missionaries at the conference last week is me,  then Elder Payne, then Elder Wilson, the missionary Elder Payne trained, Elder Williams, a new missionary Elder Payne is training now, and then also Elder Weaver the missionary Elder Wilson is training. Wow, I feel so old.   Ha ha.  They are all great missionaries and I am glad Elder Ericson helped prepare me to train so the mission can have good solid missionaries. There is also a picture of a cow to prove that we live in a barn, and also a drive-thru prayer.  Ha ha  - ONLY in Texas. Also pictures from the baptisms the past two weeks.

I love y'all so much and I hope you enjoy the cruise.  They are so great and I loved the time we had to spend on ours last year.

Love Elder Shoemaker

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Clean and Bright, Perfect in White

Dear Dad and family,

This past week has been so amazing. There were 5 investigators that were able to make the step of baptism this week. It was such a cool experience.  During the baptism I had closed my eyes real quick to contemplate and as I opened my eyes I forgot that I had all my whites on. As soon as I saw my white pants I was struck by the spirit and knew that I can be as clean as my pants and also those being baptized that day would be the same. What a great experience!

This week on Saturday another person that we are teaching will be getting baptized too. There is so much more that I need to tell you all about but we just got back from a General Authority Conference, which was amazing, and just had a little time before our appointment to email. I will make sure to fill you in on that and the area more next week along with pictures. 

Love your son,

Elder Shoemaker

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making Commitments is Awesome!

Dear MOM and everyone else,

Ha ha love the costume. This Halloween we had a district meeting in the evening and that went pretty well.  I dressed up as elder Dunn and Elder Dunn dressed up as me. Our meeting was focused on how investigators, missionaries, and members must feel in the process of conversion. I led the main discussion on feeling the spirit and teaching by the spirit. I committed the Elders in the district to thinking of commitments to extend to investigators before they teach. This will allow the investigators to act and feel the spirit on their own and even lead to conversion experiences. 

It sounds like there is a lot going on at home especially with callings and church functions and activities. I bet Justin was a stud during Halloween and I bet y'all made some pretty sweet pumpkins. I almost thought of carving one but could not find the time. I hope Dad's finger is okay. That's sad to hear about the Christmas gift exchange stuff but we should definitely continue it with our family.  I have a gift I am working on, even though it may come later,  but it will get there eventually. 

This past week was great.  There were seven investigators at church on Sunday and we are super excited for all of them. This Saturday will be the baptism of Mike and also a woman named Melissa and her three daughters. We are so happy for all of them and the amazing step that they will be making. Halloween went very well and I can now tell that fall is finally starting to come. I am super sorry - pictures will come next week.  I have my SD card but there isn't a slot for it on the computer. For My Christmas "wish list", I would say an electric razor, GPS; and the traditional chocolate orange and socks are always wonderful. Thank you for the notes from the Stake Conference and that scripture.  I always love hearing about those things.


Elder Shoemaker

Monday, October 29, 2012

"The CUBE"

Joshua TX and the Currant Bush

Dear family and friends,
This past week has been so amazing -one of the craziest and best weeks.
We had transfers and I moved to the wonderful country area of Joshua,
TX. Here I get to live with members out behind their house in a
converted barn. At first I was shocked but now it is my favorite
apartment. It is called "the cube". It has everything that we need and
nothing more. Lets just say it is pretty small. Ha ha. The ward here is
so great. It is small but very welcoming and so friendly - I love it. My
new companion is Elder Dunn, he is from California, and my favorite
thing about him is he is very friendly and has a major love for the
scriptures. He is also a convert to the church and I truly have a
major respect for converts.
Ever since I have been here things have been hopping so
quickly. We have tought a lot and have helped so many people in so
little time. Also, Sunday was absolutely amazing. It seemed like
everything there was all directed towards me. There were also 9
investigators at church - the most I have ever seen in any of my areas.
They were all excited to be there but not as excited as me. This area
is booming and we have been blessed in so many ways. There are 5
people that will be baptized on the 10th of this month and we just met
one of them just this past Friday. His name is Mike he was being
taught by other missionaries but came down here and we had dinner with
him and his member girlfriend and committed him to being baptized.
They already have plans to be married in the temple and Mike is super
It was so exciting to here about all the stuff at home. I feel like I
was just in Webelos with Alan yesterday. Wow! There is going
to be a new Stake. I am also super excited to really see the efforts
the ward is putting into the youth. It was that part of my life where
I really made the decisions that have affected where I am now and I am
so grateful for my leaders. This week I was thinking about Austin
Stephens. Is he doing okay? Also, could you send me his address as I would
like to write him. I was also wondering if there would be any way I
could borrow the GPS? This area is super big and it would really help
to keep us in our mileage limitations and also allow us to work this
amazing area even better.
I just want to let y'all know that my last area was very hard. There is
a talk by Hugh B. Brown I may have mentioned it before, and it is called
"The Lord is the Gardener", and I feel like I am the currant bush. I was
cut back and now I am here in this area to grow how the Lord wants me
to. I am doing very good and building up my defenses so I can continue
through my mission super strong.
I will send pictures next week. I love yall so much! thank you for the
scriptures Dad. I have been writing them down and actually two weeks
ago I used one as a main scripture for district meeting.
Elder Shoemaker

October 22nd. 2012 - HOPE

Dear Dad and family,
Sorry I missed your letter last week. That is very exciting about your test and I was not surprised to hear that you passed. I bet you are also getting a very good workout with your biking.  The other day I was thinking about how long you have been biking to work.  Ha ha. That mission statement list and your studies sound so great. One thing I would definitely add to the list is obedience.   That is something that is very stressed out here in the mission. One statement that my trainer told me was obedience brings blessings and exact obedience brings miracles. That hope quote was just what I needed.  This past transfer has been one of the toughest. Me and elder Stanworth get along great.  The work here has been hard though. I however have learned a lot here and I HOPE that this area will benefit from me being here. Also, as I will be transferred this Wednesday to the Joshua area in the Fortworth zone as the District Leader, I hope I can grow there and trust in the Lord as the gardener.
One thing that I was wondering is if you would be able to send me an absentee ballot so i could vote?  It may be too late but hopefully I can get it. My new address will be 924 Conveyor Dr. Joshua, TX 76058.
I am always very excited to hear from y'all.  I will be sending some pictures in a separate email. I wanted to end today with something I came across in my studies that stood out to me. It was an article about talking about our church life with others. This is from M. Russel Ballard. "Rather than simply responding to a series of random questions, it might be helpful to first take 30 seconds to establish a foundation. That can be as simple as explaining that we embrace Jesus Christ as our savior an accept the Bible's teachings about His birth, life, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection. We also believe that the Christian world departed from the truths Jesus taught in the Bible and that the Church he established needed to be restored." This is something I am going to try and use in my missionary efforts but it can also be used at home with friends and family when talking about our beliefs and helping people know we truly are Christian.
I hope y'all have a great week and I will make sure and let you know about my new area.
Elder Shoemaker

Thursday, October 18, 2012

More blessings than you can receive...

Dear mom and the rest of family and friends,

The women’s retreat sounded like it turned out great and the women sounded like they had fun. I bet the variety show was a crack up and had everyone laughing. The leaves are changing colors here too. It is actually very comparable to home here besides the humidity and winter is the best week of the year. It is cooling down and will make the days a little less sweaty. It also sounds like working at Lewis and Clark is going great I feel like I was just getting dropped off there for first grade with Mrs. Reynolds and crying all day ha-ha. It also sounds like your calling in young women’s is truly inspired the youth leaders have a major affect on the youth’s lives. It really helped to shape me into the kind of person that could go out and serve the lord.

The mission age change was so inspiring and will be so good for families and for the church. It will allow sisters to get back at an age that does not feel too old and for young men it will majorly increase their knowledge and get them prepared to get a good education. It was really weird - it feels like my learning might have paused out here but I have learned so much more than I ever have before. I am very excited about Justin being able to go out sooner too!

I would like to share a spiritual experience that I had before my mission. This goes out to anyone that may struggle to pay tithing and also all those trying to save up for their missions. (Justin, and other youth). My last summer before my mission I had just earned a pretty good amount of money, as I was looking at how much I had in the bank.  I calculated how much I still needed to earn and I still had quite a bit left to go to be ready. I had been doing good on paying tithing and I had set aside my tithing already. It was really hard to go and give it to the bishop but I remembered the blessing promised in Malachi 3: 7-12 - more blessing than you can receive. That next week I had so many people call me to help them out with what I did for my business, that I had to decline some of them. The next months I earned more than I needed and the wonderful members of the ward also contributed to my mission fund too. Thank you everyone that allowed me to work for them so I could come out here and serve the lord.
Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

General Conference - WOW!

Dear everyone,

Conference was absolutely amazing - it was truly one of my absolute favorites. In preparation for conference, I came up with a list of things I wanted help on and also desired revelation. One thing I am really working on is humility and developing that strongly in my life. The conference started off perfect.  Almost everything that I wrote down was answered with Quentin L. Cooks talk.  That was my ultimate favorite out of the whole conference. The conference to me seemed to be focused on humility and doing what that Lord has in store for us.

There are a couple talks I will reread when we get the November Ensign but overall conference again was like Christmas for me as a missionary.  We even had members make lunch for us in-between on Sunday, and on Saturday we went to Cici's Pizza for free because our Ward Mission Leader owns it.

We are emailing on Tuesday because the library was closed yesterday. I am currently on an exchange with Elder Brown for the next 24 hours meaning I am in his area working there and his companion is in my area working with Elder Stanworth. As a District Leader I go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders once every transfer and a transfer is every six week if y'all did not already know that.

That is so exciting to see Justin’s first date pictures.  He looks a lot older and very manly. Ha-ha also the Strong girl and younger Volmer's daughter look very similar to their siblings. I bet Justin will get his license soon and that is going to be so cool that he will be able to leave out on his mission so soon. I will be writing him a letter soon so keep a heads up. Ha-ha the flamingoes also look super funny and I like the chairs on the front porch too. I did get the package and thank you so much.  I will definately keep yell updated on the flonase I felt like I could breathe so much better that day.

I bet the Women's Retreat will be amazing and dad I have no doubt that you will do great on your exam. It was very inspirational for me when I saw you go back to school and it really helped me to develop a better work ethic when I was at CBC. I again cannot send pictures but I will make sure to do it ASAP. I love you all and will definately make sure and include you in my prayers.

Elder shoemaker

Monday, October 1, 2012

Just What I Need...

Dear Mom and Dad, family and friends,
Thank you for always writing to me.  There are some missionaries that are out here that don't have people to write or their parents are not members, so it is hard for those parents to know what to say. It seems that y'all always know what to say in your letters that helps me to get my week started off right. 
This past week was kind of difficult.  We have stopped teaching in a couple ghetto areas. Yeah, we can teach a lot of lessons but they do not lead to baptism because of availability to get to church and keeping commitments. We did not rule out any investigators, but we are getting ready to receive the blessings from fasting about where we need to be at certain times of the day to find the elect. 
I love being able to write every week because it allows me to get a lot out and also have spiritual experiences with my letters home and also to President Sagers. I am still learning a lot from other missionaries. One is a convert who's parents are not members. I look up to him a lot and have a lot of respect for him. Also,  there is something I can learn from companions  I serve with.   I am learning to really think about others and to just stop complaining about things that do not matter. 
The Temple 2nd ward is doing great.   There was a change in the bishopric yesterday and that is always exciting. 
As far as meals are concerned, we usually cook separately,  but sometimes I make breakfast and occasionally dinner when we don't have them. I have been doing pretty good on staying the same weight and that is something I told myself that I would not get fat on my mission.   Ha ha. 
Our lessons have been going very well, especially when we have members with us.  It is so amazing. I am constantly doing better and better with talking with people and my goal from this week is to talk with every living soul.  I gave a training on it in one of our district meetings and promised if Elders will do it for three days straight, they will teach more lessons than ever before and also find new people that are ready for the gospel. 
The ward mission leader here is always willing to help out, but is also busy too.  He is there when we need him though. I would love to be able to be a ward mission leader when I get home.   
It's also getting cooler here and it seems like summer just flew by which is really nice.   
I actually kind of predicted and was wondering when Grandma and Grandpa where going to get I-pads. 
That is really cool to hear about Justin's first date and I will be excited to see pictures.  Speaking of pictures,  I left my camera in Fort Worth and will get it back tomorrow so I can start sending pictures. I did get my contacts and I can see so much better.  Thank you for getting those and other things that I need. 
I want to make sure and say Happy Birthday to Dad.  I did remember and said happy birthday on the 19th so again,  Happy Birthday.
I would like to end with a very special and spiritual experience. The past week had been pretty rough with finding and teaching.  Last night all of our appointments cancelled on us.  I was frusrated at first but then realized we needed to be somewhere else. After thought and prayer, I thought "where does God need us to be right now?" We then went to an investigators house where we knew we needed to be. He was coming out right as we got there. I shared with him how my mother decided to become a member and I just felt the Holy Ghost speaking through me. I asked him how he felt after I read a scripture in the Doctrine and Covenants, and he said it sounded like Gods words.  We told him he can find out that they really are.   We will be going back this week to teach him again. 
Thank you for raising me in the gospel and I am so grateful for the opportunity to pay it forward out here.
Love Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Knots in a Rope

(This is a portion of this weeks letter Paul sent to Elder Shoemaker about his five-mile swim in the Columbia River this past week - GREAT MESSAGE) 
As we swam, I learned another "swimming lesson".  Forest fires burning in the Northwest have brought a lot of smoke in the air so its hard to see long distances.  We hadn't completely covered the route we were taking before so we weren't sure of the exact path we would take.  I was the navigator and decided to take the journey a step at a time.  There were familiar landmarks I could see that helped guide us along the way.  The first landmark was the bridges I've driven over many times.  As we swam under the bridges, we stayed clear of the huge pillars holding the bridge spans as we were concerned there might be dangerous currents or turbulence.  After the bridge, I could faintly make out the next landmark, a large tree on the far end of Bateman Island.  Even though the smoke was thick, the landmarks safely guided us along our journey.  The next landmark was a navigation marker that was just downstream.  From there, I could see the shimmer of the sunlight reflecting from a building at our final destination.   We followed the landmarks and finished our trip safely and without getting lost or off course.  It reminded me of how we can successfully navigate ourselves through life.  As we identify our destination, there will be acquaintances, temptations and situations that could interfere with our trip like the smoke that clouded the landmarks on our swim.  If we have landmarks along our way, we can stay focused on those to progress through life.  Maybe some of those landmarks might be graduating from college, having a joyous marriage, ongoing spiritual fulfillment or any number of other things.  Having landmarks along our life journey can help us weather the turbulence that we all will ultimately suffer and help us emerge better than if we were just foundering along in life without purpose, goals or aspirations.  As we identify landmarks, we have a guide to follow and hopefully bring lasting joy and happiness as we base our landmarks on enduring values and principles.

Hope this can be a help to you as you navigate!  Have a great week, Elder!
Dear family,
Wow!  It sounds like the fires are really bad and are affecting a lot of things. That is crazy to hear about the ash on the trampoline and plants. I love your analogy Dad.  That is so important that we have landmarks to direct our paths and give us happiness along the way. It is really cool.  Maybe I can set goals as my landmarks and use those to help me continually progress out here. There was an analogy that came to my mind one day. I am not sure if I have shared it yet. Anyway, it is about knots in a rope. We go throughout our lives (the rope) and we get to the knots that may discourage us and possibly stop us from progressing. However, with those knots in the rope it give us something to grasp onto and build off of allowing us to build and even have a better grip to help us become better.
I finished the Book of Mormon again and it was so amazing. I did a challenge given to us from the Mission President and it really has helped me to gain an even stronger testimony of the truthfulness of it. I love the Book of Mormon and I am so grateful for the opportunity to share it with others. This past week we had a meeting for all of the district leaders. I do not know what it was but it was so amazing and I learned so much from it and it really helped me to see the importance of missionary work. It is not just to baptize people but it is to go out and serve how Christ would.  I have really learned to love the people that we meet every day. However, I will still go out and help people make the step of baptism in their lives. We should be helping two or three people make this step soon and come closer to their Savior, Jesus Christ.
I hope y'all are doing great and if I am ever in danger,  y'all will know as soon as possible. I am really loving it out here.  I miss my family but know that you are all being taken care of while I am gone. I have been purging my mind of trunky thoughts and have seen the success from focusing on the work.  I found that I can progress as much as I can and no one can kep that from happening. We are doing great here in the Temple 2nd ward and this area is finally starting to show the success from turn around that has happend from the Lord preparing the people here.
I have decide that I will take a weekly picture every Sunday and send it home each week.  I think it will be cool to see the difference between now and later and have a weekly picture of Elder Shoemaker. Thank you for your prayers.
Love, Elder Shoemaker

Monday, September 17, 2012

Elder Stanworth Gets a Rough Welcome

Dear Family and friends,
Sorry if todays letter is short. I had 6 different emails in my inbox this morning. 3 from family, 2 from President, and from one of his helpers. I thought I would let y'all know so you do not have to find out from the mission. We got rear ended this week.  Elder Stanworth and I are both okay and no one was hurt in the accident. Things have all been taken care of and the church in on the ball and Sister Sagers just called to make sure we are still doing okay.
It sounds like so much is always going on at home.  It  is so crazy how Erica and Kenzy are continuing on in their lives. It is so weird. I feel like I just was in elementary school with them. I cannot wait to see where Tanner (Cousin) is going on his mission. My guess is Texas - Fort Worth - the best mission in the world.
Anyway, about the contacts and Flonase,  it would be a lot easier if y'all could get them to me.  It is very hard to find extra time to do things like that. I could definantly use a long sleeve shirt and an extra pair of pants 32waist x 30length. Other than that, we are doing great.  Elder stanworth just got here this week.  He is from Delta, Utah.  We are here in the Temple 2nd ward still and working hard.  This week is already set up with a lots of appointments.
I hope y'all have a great day.  I am sorry my time is almost up and I want to send a few pics now that fall is here, and the computers we are using are unable to send pics.  I will get them to you some way though.
Love Elder Shoemaker.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Time is Flying

Dear Dad family and friends,
Oh yeah, it was definently hot enough this week. However this morning we came outside and it was first time in a while that it was colder outside than inside. It is showing signs of cooling down.
With the card thing, I was not suprised that you noticed that there was a purchase. I helped Elder Fa'onelua out.  He got a new suit and his parents had not sent him money for one yet. I have money back from that now so everthing is okay. I am going to try and find a bank soon so I can put the money back on the card where it should be. I was wondering though if you could order some contacts for me and address them to here. I tried the other day to use my insurance card and I could not figure out what to do. I also found my camera cord and will send some pics with my email. Thanks dad for watching out for me. My address will stay the same.  Elder fa'onelua is finishing his mission this week and I will be getting my new companion Elder Stansworth. He is a pretty cool guy. He was in my zone when I was in Stephenville. I will be excited to serve with him.
This past week has just flown by.  We have been working super hard and I even lost track of what day it was this week. Ha ha. Our Sunday was great.  The stake presidency came and spoke and there were also two investigators that were able to make it to church. One was a girlfriend of a recent convert. We met her this week and invited her to come and she did. We will be teaching her in a members home this week and will have a great spiritual lesson to help her to follow the example of Jesus Christ by being baptized.
Thank you for the scripture from Ether dad.  I needed it. I actually had just read it this morning in my studies and I currently have two chapters left in the Book of Mormon. I have learned so much this time from reading and studying it. It was part of a challenge from our Mission President to go through and mark every reference to Jesus Christ; his doctrine, his words, and his atributes. It has been truly amazing and has really strengthened my testimony and faith in Jesus Christ.
Thank you dad and mom and everyone for your prayers. The last few weeks have been some of the hardest and best weeks, because we are so busy. It is exciting to see how the Lord allows his work to go forth and work so well. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve and I still have so much more to grow from. I hope ya'll have a wonderful week. Thank you for sharing about Brother Magee's talk.  It will help me from giving into peer pressure which there is a lot of out here with bending of mission rules and I have to always remind myself to remember my commitment is first to the Lord,  then the mission president,  and then the missionaries. That is from our missionary handbook.  I feel how important my calling is when I hear that, and I hope to remember it always. That is exciting to hear about your long swim and it sounds like the kayak is getting used efficaciously. Ha ha that is a new word I learned this week and I have bee trying to find a way to use it. I love ya'll and I will keep you in my prayers.
Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Soaring with the Eagles

Dear Dad and everyone,
Really really, I have been doing so good. I love it out here and I recently realized this week that Texas is okay. I am sorry for complaining how hot is was all of the time. It really is not bad. This week is forcasted with above 100 degrees but I am actually used to it. The work has been going great here.  We have been finding those who really are prepared to be baptized. We had a lot of investigators with baptismal dates that we had  to evaluate if were really ready and discovered they really had much more preparation. However, this week we have truly been finding the elect and I feel like I have finally broke through the ceiling so I can get out and fly. There was an experience that was shared at a zone conference about an eagle that was raised with chickens and acted like a chicken.  A kind soul bought the chicken and took it out of its comfort zone and to a high ridge where it could soar.  After different attempts at lower heights proved unsuccessful, he found on a high ridge the eagle saw it's potential. I feel kind of like the eagle and now know that the Lord can take me to that ridge and allow me to fly.
Anyway this past week we did meet with the students again. We have decided that we cannot fulfill our purpose there but as me and elder (Fa-own-A-looa) were praying as to what we should do about them there was one name out of the seven that just struck us. We both had confirmed answers and hopefully this week we will see the results of dropping the others and working with the student that we felt prompted was ready. Also, we contacted a referral that was from a member this week.  We taught him and he is so ready. Alex is his name. We went and were briefly talking before the lesson and he mentioned that the missionaries had invited him to be baptized before but he declined. He said however that if they invited him again he would accept it. He was so ready and one way we could really tell was that when we asked "What can the book of Mormon do for you?" he opened right to a page and read how the spirit will become part of him and cleanse him. Take note: The Book of Mormon He read out of was a blank copy, so apparently he has been studying the copy he has that is his own. Anyway, it was a really cool experience of how well Alex was prepared.
I am also going to try and write Chels and Spence so sorry for the shorter letter. It sounds like you trip to day will be great and it sounds like things are busy. I have seen your prayers mom and dad and everyone. I will make sure to keep you in my prayers too.
Elder Shoemaker

Monday, August 27, 2012

In the Service of the Lord

Dear Family and friends!,
Wow. It seems like BYD Sunday is every week but I guess not,  that is just how much time flys by out here.  I feel like I am going to be back at home tomorrow and it actually is legitimately scaring me. There is so much to do and so little time. This is helping me to realize that I need to keep working and use my time in the most effective way. I am excited that y'all got my letter and I hope the youth will learn from it. I am actually going to write a letter to the bishop this week or next too.
Anyways enough about that. Yes, Elder Fa'onelua is a rugby player and his coach is actually waiting on him to get back and play. My companion is very excited to be home but also wants to stay longer if he could.  He actually requested to stay longer too. We are doing great and enduring to the end. We are working as hard and effectively as possible. I actually looked at my planner for this week and there are already so many appointments set up throughout the week.  I have never seen it like this and it will definitely make this next week more effective than before. We were actually able to find 7 new investigators this Sunday. They are actually baptist students at the local university so we will see if they will progress as investigators. We will definitely be tested on our knowledge because their majors are in church history!
Well summer just whizzed by and school already started and a full on immersion into a crazy load of classes  Justin. Hopefully you will also be able to squeeze some fun stuff in there too. That is exciting about the presentation that you get to do dad - it sounds like fun. I am also excited to hear about Eric and continuing his missionary work. I hope I will be able to keep doing that and work with the missionaries in the ward too. It also sound like Austin and Justin are stepping up as role models in the ward and being good friends. By the way is Bro. Smith, Austin's dad, a member yet?
Thank you so much for all of you support and prayers.  I can see them taking effect in the missionary work that is taking place here, One thing that has helped me is truly relying on the Lord and promptings of the spirit. In Alma 26:12 in talks about Ammon boasting in his God. It also talks about how he is nothing compared to the greatness that has taken place. I hope y'all know that when we have this kind of humility it will help us to strive to be more obedient to living the commandments, and also one thing too, it will give you the strength to reach out and have real missionary experiences. I want to let y'all know that missionaries not only come to dinner to get food, but to also offer their services, not just to mow the lawn but to teach someone that we know who can use the gospel in their lives. The missionaries would love this. They may not be perfect but what they teach is, and everyone needs it. I love y'all. And I cannot express the joy I have being in the service of God.

Elder Shoemaker

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Change for the Better

Dear family and friends and all around ward family,
         Apologies if my letters have been short or impersonal, I will make sure to answer all questions and be more informative about the past week.
        I will start with this last week. It honestly started off very hard.  We started the week off with high expectations (which in the end it worked out) but they got shot down with two very ineffective days. We analyzed the beginning of the week and decide to just get out and work. We parked the car for a day and went out and WOW! - found so many people and flipped the week back over. We had Zone Conference this week on Thursday.  It was an all day thing from 9-4. There was a story shared about two fishermen. One who took all day for his fishing trip however he only fished for 2 hours because he took his time getting there and preparing to go. The other fisherman took all day too but was on the water with his line in the water as much as he could.  It felt like a slap to my face - not that I ever wasted time but I realized I could have my line in the water longer. I payed attention to what I was doing and focused on having my line in the water longer. One amazing example was the day after Zone Conference. We went to stop by some people's house but they were not home. There was a street close by called Brenda Lane. I had remembered seeing the name before and knew we needed to tract that street. Funny thing though - that street name was not on any records I looked at, but it was where we needed to be. We knocked three houses and at the third house was a lady that was outside that said "not interested" right away. However, we were persistent and talked to her more. We ended up teaching the Restoration to her and it was an amazing spiritual lesson. As we were finishing, her boy friend drove up hopped out and said right away, "okay you guys need to get out of here" I thought he was serious at first, then he laughed and said just kidding.  We then taught him the Restoration and at the end of the lesson he said there was something different about Mormons eyes and they both said they are excited to read the Book of Mormon. Anyway, we also found more people that were so ready to learn this past week. Me and Elder Fa'onelua were also able to teach the Sunday school class on Sunday and we also were invited to a Seminary Fireside to speak. I used part of what i have in my letter that i am writing to dad for the youth (by the way sorry I have been pretty slow on that dad.  I have been learning to manage my time and have been super busy as the District Leader and it has taken a while to get things strait with Elder Fa'onelua but now we seriously are getting along way better than I have with anyone.  It is so great and I will be very sad when he goes home) We currently have 8 baptismal dates set for the month of August.   It is so awesome. We have to make up for the last to months. Overall we had an amazing and trying week. If I could do one thing it would be to slow down time because things are going by way too fast.
       I will be sending pictures this week with my letter that is written to the youth.  I just printed them off today. I lost my computer cord for my camera so I will have to use snail mail.  Surprisingly, the temperature here has been great  - actually cooler than it is at home, but the humidity makes it feel just as hot. It sounds like the ward camp out was fun but short at the same time.  There should be a better turn out with the breakfast idea. It is crazy to hear about all of the young women moving up going to college and Brianna and Cheyenne entering YW.   I will definitely have to make sure to wish Chelsey Happy Birthday and also I cannot believe they have almost been married a year. It feels like it was yesterday.
        Here in Temple we only cover the temple Second Ward. The members here are amazing we went on exchanges every day this past week besides Monday. We have also been super booked on dinners and I have been having to watch myself. We are luck though.  We have a work out room that we get up at 5:50 every morning to go and use to stay fit an healthy.
       I have had to do an evaluation of my mission lately.  I felt like I started off super strong,  then when I got here I was not growing as much as I wanted to.  I know it cannot be blamed on companions but last transfer was very difficult. Also the beginning of this transfer, but now this past week has really changed a lot of things. Me and my companion are getting along great and doing awesome. Thank you for the letters today.  It is great to here about missionaries lives being changed by their missions and mine truly has made me so different in an amazing way. I have to admit I have been slacking on my journal but that is going to change especially now that I have confessed.  Haha. Anyway, I am sure you noticed my progression slow for a little but all is well and I truly am getting lost out here and I love it.

Love your missionary,
Elder Shoemaker

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Lord "has our backs" and the work goes forth.

Dear Familia y amigos, 

WOOOOOOOOOOOW! Justin looks like a super stud. Make sure you watch him. All those girls are going to want to date him haha.

I bet Priest Lake was a ton of fun.  It looks like y'all had a great time out on the boat and also fun with bike rides and swimming. Did you know Priest Lake is my all time favorite vacation spot? Not to put aside Mexico because that was amazing, but I really enjoy Priest Lake. Anyways I am glad to see the pictures and I love actually being able to see mountains. -  haha.

That is very exciting to hear about the  class reunion (Sunnyside 82'). I bet is was cool to see where everyone is in life, and also sad to see what some have done with their agency. WHAT? Eric is already back that is so awesome I bet he has changed so much. My mission has changed me so much too. That is exciting to hear about the family Book of Mormon reading. One thing that has been so great being able to read the Book of Mormon over and over is that it has strengthened my testimony and has helped me to understand how I can help others gain their own personal testimony.

Well, this past week has been full of finding new investigators that are very sincere and have a lot of potential. We have been getting outside in the hot sun and talking to everyone that we see.  It has proven very effective and I am super excited to start working with new people, especially because of the fact that we found two families this week that we are starting to teach. It was kind of frustrating again as we did not have anyone come with us to church and we had very solid commitments from them. However, we have made the goal of inviting everyone to church and setting a high but reachable goal for sacrament attendance of non members this week. I am super excited and ready to go out this week and talk with every living soul and find, teach, and baptize. Elder Fa'onelua is an amazing companion. I have learned so much from him and have been able to find more ways to fulfill my responsibilities. An experience that was a very spiritual and a great learning experience happened this last week. As a result of turning in a mileage report late we found out we had to park the car until the report was turned in. I learned to be more organized and prompt. I also learned that the Lords work will continue to move. We had already planned for the next day when we found out this news and it was amazing to see that the appointments that day were centralized and withing walking distance. We also had an exchange for the evening to go to other appointments. It was great to see that the Lord has our backs allowing us to continue his work.

Hope Y'all have an amazing week.

Love Elder Shoemaker

New Companion - August 6, 2012

Dear Dad, family, and friends,
        My new companion is Elder Fa'onelua. He is from New Zealand. He has the coolest accent ever. He has been on almost all his mision and has 5 weeks left. It is so cool serving with him and learning from him too. It sound like the hike went very well and sounds like everyone had fun. I also bet Priest Lake will be fun too.  I cannot believe that mom found a picture of my hair ugggggggggh! (Nate got a permanent in 2008) haha. It actually looks pretty cool.  I i should not have let the kids who made fun of it get to me to cut it and should have kept pulling it off.
            This past week has been so great. I am so excited for the opportunity that I have to be with Elder Fa'onelua here in the Temple 2 area. I have learned so much this week from him already. It is different being with a missionary who has been out longer then me. There is so much he has taught me. Elder Fa'onelua is doing great.  He has a very powerfull testimony and a great self conversion story that helps him to relate with the people we teach. I have been doing so much better at talking with everyone and I have talked to more people this past week than I ever have in a single week. It has been great and I am looking forward to working with new people. The area is doing well and we are excited to find the elect that are ready to hear the gospel. One spiritual experience that I had was as we were coming in a little early one night we were trying to decide who we should see. We listend to the promptings of the holy ghost and found ourselves at a recent converts house. While we were there we found out a name we came across in our records that morning from 4 years ago, which was his mother. We set up through him to go and see her the next day with him. It was amazing how it panned out and how we came to be there that night.
       Y'all will have to make sure and send me some pictures and I will make sure to send some also. I have some people waiting on me for the computer so I have to go.
Elder Shoemaker

Monday, July 30, 2012

New companion on his way. He's got an accent!

Dear Mom,
(First letter said he couldn't get on a computer, but one opened up with a little time left to write, so this one is short and sweet)
I am so excited to hear you got your late birthday present. It sounds like that was a crazy week. I am glad the Hanks are okay.  (car accident)  And it is exciting that you were able to give a talk on Sunday. It is so amazing what the Lord has planned for us even when it is hard or painful.  There is always something that we can learn and grow from. It also sounds like this week will be crazy too with cleaning and an acceleration on scripture study. I was excited to hear how your scripture study was going. This week is transfer week and Elder Blair in leaving to the north of the mission and I am getting a companion from New Zealand. I am so excited for the accent. Did I ever tell y'all I love accents? haha.

This week and transfers have gone by very fast. The Temple 2nd area is doing great. We were able to teach a lot of people and also find quality investigators this week. However this is the 4th week that some investigators have not come to church. We had four super solid commitments from people but they struggled to keep their commitment. Hopefully from our focus this month of "We invite" - "They commit"  and our follow up, will help us to help others keep their commitments and make the steps of repentance in their lives. 
Elder Blair is nervous for transfer week but I am excited that he will be able to get out into the mission. I have learned so much from him and I hope he has been able to learn from me. 
One of my spiritual experiences from this past week was from studying. I had felt like my personal study was very bland. I prayed that I would be able to get more form my studies and be able to also apply what I learned not only to myself, but the people we were teaching that day. As I studied the scripture, it started applying to me very well. I then looked at what I learned and found ways to apply the scriptures to investigators. Then throughout the rest of the week, with that mind set, I found so many things and was able to apply things from the scriptures, preach my gospel, church, and other missionaries.
Sorry I had to be quick and I totally forgot  to write what dad requested but I will send it asap.
Love Elder Shoemaker

Monday, July 23, 2012

Sincere Listening...a Great Thing

Dear friends and family,
To start off with happy birthday Mom! and also Grandma!
         That is so awesome how Justin was able to take the sacrament to bro Dabling. It sounds like he is already starting to fulfill his calling. It sounds like Sunday was pretty crazy. I am glad to here Spence and Chelsey got to Iowa safe.  It is so weird to think about them moving. I did get my shirts and they are perfect and they look so white compared to my other shirts haha. I bet the camping and vacationing trips will be amazing and Priest Lake sounds like so much fun. It is actually my all time favorite vacation spot. Make sure you send some pictures. It is sad to here about everyone moving and going away. I hope Spencer and Chelsey make sure and call along with grandpa and grandma.
          I don't know how much the gps is used at home but I was wondering if it is not used it would be very helpful especially with finding directions to get around in some of the confusing areas here.

          Well this past week has gone pretty well. Elder Blair is doing a great job. He feels like he is leaving the area soon and I feel like I just met him. However he will go where the Lord sends him. Elder Blair has been helping me out this week as I am working to continue to be more sincere. I feel like I have just been rushed, as, time flys and we have to work hard to fit everything into our schedule. The area here in Belton is amazing.  We have so many ward members that are willing to help in so many ways -from exchanges, to providing service to investigators, and especially feeding the missionaries, which can be a bad thing, but I will enjoy it while it lasts. Haha. An impactful spiritual experience this week I had was as I went on exchanges. I was with Elder Hatch from the district. I feel like I learned a lot from him. He has done a great job as a missionary and helped me open my eyes and helped me understand what I can do to improve. It has been to work on listening. I applied it this week and I realized that I talk too much. It helped me to connect with investigators, members, and gave elder Blair opportunities to teach. It worked out so well and has been helping me to work on my goals in a round about way. Especially sincerity.
             Anyways I hope your shoulder is alright mom, and that is a calender worthy picture dad! Have fun camping and I will know why if I do not get any emails when y'all are vacationing haha.
Elder Shoemaker

p.s. I am working on that letter you asked me to write dad.  I thought I could get it done this week some time but I will make sure I send it of by tomorrow.

p.p.s. check out and type in shoemaker

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ready to Receive

 Dear friends and family,
         What a great week.  There was another baptism in the district this past week. I love seeing the growth that is coming along here in Temple and Belton. I love being able to work with Elders Hatch, Moses, Smith, Long, and especially Elder Blair. The area here seems to be thriving.  I have seen so much potential here and me and Elder Blair are taking advantage of that. We are finding so many people who are ready to listen and accept the gospel. Elder Blair is a great example to me he always learns so much from studying in the scriptures and is doing great on the Book of Mormon challenge we are doing. It has helped me to get a lot more out of the other things I study. My goal this week is working on being more sincere. Elder Blair is a great example of that and I have learned a lot on how I can show Christlike love. An amazing experience happened this past week which has helped me to see how the holy ghost works in my life. We were riding down the street on our bike to an appointment and passed by a house with people on the front porch. We had passed the house and I felt prompted that we should go back and talk to them. I pushed it off because we were in a hurry but then realized I was ignoring a spiritual prompting. We went back and started talking.  It was akward at first but then found out that someone the missionaries had taught in the past lived there. He had moved and lost contact and wanted to meet again. It was so amazing and I am working harder to pay attention to spiritual promptings.
      Wow!  It sounds like there are some major changes in callings in the ward. Bro Christensen seems like he will be an amazing person to help with the youth. Also Bro Harris will do a great job. I rember when he was my sunday school teacher. The activities sound fun that are planned for the youth and will give them places to go where they can uphold their standards.
    Chels and Spence got to see Mt. Rushmore? That sounds so cool. I bet their trip is pretty long. It is so exciting that they are moving forward and making some major steps.  haha - I cannot wait to be an uncle.
     Congrats Justin on turning sixteen and happy birthday!!!! That is so exciting to be a Priest and have the opportunity to bless the sacrament. It sounds like your Preach my Gospel reading is going great.  I know it will really help to strengthen your testimony. So, do you think you will get your license soon?  It is the perfect time especially with all the eagle projects going on.
     Mom, it sounds like you are getting back into the swing of scripture study. That is sometimes my favorite part of the day- having time set apart to be able to delve into the scriptures. I know I will need to take advantage of my time studying out here and make goals to keep doing so throughout my life. It is so exciting to hear about Grant and Jackson.  It seems like they left yesterday. Dad, I would love to write about the importance, impact and preparation involved in my mission. I will send a letter containing that so you can share it with all the youth. I love all of you and am excited to here about all the positive changes at home.
Elder Shoemaker

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meetings Galore

Dear Friends and Family, This week was super packed and rushed -going to meetings, exchanges, and appointments. Temple is doing great and we keep finding more and more people to teach. We are teaching people and they are sharing with their families and introducing them to us. It is so great! I love seeing the testimonies grow of those we teach and it is amazing when they share it with others. Elder Blair is doing great we have been working on serving each other whether it is in the apartment or when we are teaching. I think I am getting used to the heat and enjoy getting out and still finding those who are ready to accept the gospel. I had a great experience this morning actually as I was studying. I was following up on a commitment from our district meeting based on how to use the Book of Mormon more effectively in my mission. I continued to study and when we were sharing what we learned with each other almost everything that I said was about that. It amazed me and I am learning new ways to use the Book of Mormon more effectively. One way is to keep the same context of the scriptures and make it so investigators can apply scriptures in their lives. I cannot wait to get out and apply it in my missionary efforts. It sounds like the Silverwood trip was super fun. I am not surprised at dad for getting everyone wet and hooray for mom too! I have actually fixed my bike problem. I have been updating my bike since I got here with stuff from past missionaries bikes. I actually have a carbon fiber specialized hard rock frame now with shocks, front disk brakes and paddle shifters so I am definitely doing good on my bike stuff now ha ha. I bet it is getting blazing hot there. The humidity just slaps you in the face down here but it get us to find people that we can teach so we can get out of the heat and teach investigators. We are told for the heat to just drink a lot of water in the morning and stay hydrated during the day and that keeps the problems away. I actually have not seen the package with shirts yet but I am sure it will be on the way. HA HA I finally got some boots. We helped a member move some stuff for an estate sale and I saw some sweet boots with the soles coming off, but I can fix that. I got them for 5 bucks. What a bargain. I will make sure to send some pics of them, along with some other pictures. That is exciting to hear about Justin and drivers ed. Anyways, info on Elder Blair. He is from Rexburg Idaho, he is 6'3" and can dunk ha ha. He is also really good at connecting with people we teach. I am glad to hear about Kade's project and I am expecting news on Justin's. Good idea with getting addresses of the converts I taught. I will have to get permission to write them but I will be able too. Anyways Dad, I love the story of swimming and applying that to people in their lives. It is so true. I do see those people who swam in the swift water and had to make up for it. I think it will be a great story to use in lessons and talks. It sounded like something I would hear at General Conference. I might have to use that story and apply it to the people I get to teach. Okay, well I am going to get some pictures loaded up and finally get them to y'all. Anyways here are some pictures. Truck line up at a missionary meeting, sunrise on an early morning missionary trip, sweet boots, Fort Worth skyline, apartment pic, and Elder Blair and Shoemaker. Love, Elder Shoemaker