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....
Thursday, December 27, 2012
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
Posted by Denise Shoemaker at 11:45 AM
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 mormon.org/christmas 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
Posted by Denise Shoemaker at 11:37 AM
Monday, 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 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 mormon.org/christmas 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
Posted by Denise Shoemaker at 9:16 AM
Tuesday, December 4, 2012
Dear Mom and Dad,
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.
Posted by Denise Shoemaker at 10:03 AM
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
Posted by Denise Shoemaker at 9:49 AM