I got your recordings. Thank you. It was great to hear some updates! I always find myself wishing for more when you finish! That is probably how you feel with my letters, so I am not asking you to make them longer. I normally listen another time just for good measure. It was good to hear that Jessie is going to church and is a little Sun Beam! How cute! I got the picture of his new church clothes too, which were also very cute.
Happy 5th Anniversary, or something? I'm not sure how to congratulate you on that. Way to still be here!? It is crazy to think it has been 5 years. Have fun at your basketball game to celebrate!
I did see that you put money on my card for the bike repairs. I used cash I already had to pay for that, and will use the money on the card at the supermarket to save the cost of withdrawing from the ATM.
Say hi to all our basketball buddies and tell them I'll see them in 5 months!
I haven't gotten anything from Grandpa Stobbe. I checked my Gmail account to double check and there wasn't anything from him either.
I know you are probably planning on it anyway, but keep me up to date with your basketball team and Shered's. I want to know how his superstars are doing! : ) I am going play terrible when I get back, I'm sure. I'll have to get into the rythm again. Oh, speaking of basketball, I have some bad news that I never told you. While I was in the offices, I had a few things stolen from me. We are pretty sure it was the cleaning guy (who was a member) but we could never prove it. On several occasions food went missing when he was the only one there. I believe he also took my backpack and basketball shoes. I had my shoes in a cupboard for when we played on P-days, and one day after not playing for more than a month, I went to put them on... and they were not there. The same with the backpack I bought myself for Christmas last year. Didn't use it for a while, went to look for it, wasn't there, etc. I didn`t want to make a big deal about it because I can live without them both, but... just so you know. In the end, because there was no proof, and we didn't want to make a scene, President Stapley quietly let him go, and hired a new cleaning crew (who cleaned better anyway). On two separate occasions, the Assistants also lost my flash drives. Luckily, President Stapley gave me one and I have one of Matt and Rob's that I am using til I get home. I haven't really had too much of a need, since I can back up my pictures for now on the computer. I will probably DropBox them all home towards the end. I don't think I lost any pictures, but I am not postive either.
These past few weeks we have had an interesting experience with Paola, the sister in our ward who is the Primary President. She sent us a text message on New Year's Day (we can receive but not send them) saying that she wanted us to call her about something very important ASAP. We called her and she asked when we would be able to visit her, because she had a question about something. I told her Tuesday night, because we were going down to Dolores the next day. She ended the call by saying, "Ok, but I don't know if I'll still be a member on tuesday night!" Knowing her, I knew she was exaggerating, but that it was important. Over the next two days we tried to think of what it could be that was such an issue. Finally, when we went to visit her, she told us she wanted us to explain completely about Baptisms for the Dead. She had gone to say hi to an aquaintance of hers who is kind of like a preacher in another church. They hadn't seen eachother for a while, and catching up, she told him she had joined the Church. He immediately started spouting some anti-mormon garbage about worshiping Joseph Smith and how baptizing deceased people was an abomination. Long story short, he scared her! (She has been a member for about 7 months, and hasn't taken any temple prep classes) He showed her a scripture that proved it was not approved in the primitive church (ironically, the same scripture/chapter we used to help her understand). It was in 1 Corinthians 15:29 "Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?" Her "friend" used this to try and prove that the dead do not rise, therfore we should not be baptized for them. This, it seems, is a typical example of how people take scriptures out of context to try and confuse us. He did not realize, or maybe was ignoring the fact that this was used in a facetious manner. It is interesting, because for me, reading the whole chapter, it is perfectly clear what the meaning is. Paul used what to him and those who he was preaching to was a given truth: that baptisms for the dead were in fact performed and approved by the Church. That being the case, we realize that he is making something clear to them. In the vernacular of today's youth: Do you really think we would be baptizing people for the dead if they weren't going to have the same chance at salvation and resurrection as us? If not, why would we even bother? In the end, we were able to help Paola overcome her concern and understand a little more. We left her with the assignment to do her own studying, and more importantly, praying, to be at peace on this subject. Interestingly, after we finished teaching, she told us something that gives me hope for recent converts all over the world who face situations like this. She told us that even though she was extremely confused, and felt like she didn't know what to believe, she knew one thing: She had a testimony that the Church is true. She knew that she would eventually figure it out, but in that moment, the only thing that kept her from simply never going back to church was her testimony. It reminded me of a quote from my little book: "A testimony is something we keep up during the good times, so that it can keep us up during the difficult times" (or something like that)
I am grateful for all of the prayers and love that I receive each day. I can truly feel them. It seems I have been here for a lifetime. It is a life I love and it will definitely be bittersweet when it comes time to finish.
Mom, I will send pictures of my clothes next week.