Sunday, December 28, 2008

New Pictures!

If anyone wondered how being a hardworking, obedient missionary would effect Zach's wacky personality, here is proof that his sense of humor is alive and well.  Zach is so happy and loving every bit of missionary work. He loves all the people he works with and is fast friends with other missionaries.  He called home on Christmas with some great stories and jokes, but he also continues to be a phenomenal example to our family as he grows spiritually and puts his whole heart into being a full time missionary.

Enjoy this batch of pictures from Zach!

Zach, Elder Simpson (old comp.), Elder Hulse, Elder Furniss on Zach's last day in Albany.

Zach and Ben and Sunchips (his words)

Zach on the coast

Zach and the Burton family

Zach and the Colby family

Thanksgiving dinner at the Merrills house

Elder Simpson and Zach in their Thanksgiving outfitsZach and Elder Simpson's Christmas card picture

Elder Simpson and Zach with the Stovers when mom and daughter were baptized.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Letter to Jen December 1, 2008

I struggle with real mail too trust me...

The baptism went really well. I got some pictures, I'm printing and sending them home soon. It was a really exciting weekend. We had a ton of investigators at church and everything has gone very smoothly. Transfers are indeed coming up this week. And I got the axe unfortunately. But all is well. I'll tell the whole story in a minute.

That CD I asked for, I'm actually gonna ask Elder Coffey, my dead trainer for it. He knows exactly what it was cuz I asked to listen to it every day lol. So no sweat on that one.

Ok so transfers:
In a recent letter to President, I expressed my feelings of having a lot left to do here in Albany. The Friday after Thanksgiving I got a personal phone call from President Macdonald. He told me he had read my letter and he disagreed (lol wow, blunt.). He said there are other opportunities for me elsewhere, and my companion needs to be training this transfer, so I'm leaving. I'm very sad to leave Albany because I've come to love it so much, but Brother M told me "Remember 'I will go, I will do' even when its tough". He's right. So I look forward to spending the Holidays with my new friends wherever I'm going. Like I said, I'm sad to go. But as sad as I am, I'm even happier that I was here at all.

So thats my week. Anywho... I hope all is well for you guys. Thanks for all your love and support and for being an awesome sister. Love you!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Letter to Mom November 17, 2008

hey hey-

Its pretty easy to be home and do nothing. [I had told him I finally figured out how he could be home all day and not accomplish anything.] You may have gained an education in said field, but I am a doctor of unaccomplishment. Thats kind of a cool phrase, doctor of unaccomplishment. A neat oxymoron. Anywho, not these days. I'm Dr. Do, lol. I suppose a mission will do that to you.

Your mention of Thanksgiving made me pretty enthusiastic. We have some sweet plans for Thanksgiving. Have I mentioned the M Family in my journal? They're a totally awesome family, like seriously they rock. They're having us over for Thanksgiving AND Christmas! So sweet. I'll definitely be here for TG but transfers are the first week of December so pray for me that I'll survive unaffected so I dont have to celebrate Christmas with strangers. I'm so desperate to stay that I called Bishop H yesterday and asked for a speaking assignment in early December lol. If you could believe that. But its true. As much as I really didn't like Albany when I got here... I LOVE it now. NUTS huh? Oh man... good news

Well, to begin with, Jennie and Raine S. are going to be baptized this coming saturday! Very exciting. Raine gave a brief talk in the primary program in sacrament meeting yesterday. She talked about learning from the missionaries and her desire to join the church. Way cool, made me tear up a little.

Furthermore, there's a couple we've been working with, John and Shawna. They were trying to decide on what church they wanted to settle into with their family, and John mentioned that he was baptized Mormon as a teenager, and he remembers having a really positive experience. Soon thereafter, we showed up. They were presented with an opportunity to buy the house they've been renting and when we prayed with them one night we prayed that they'd have the means to buy. Something worked out in a short space of time after that night. Johns sister recently passed away, and at the funeral the "presiding minister" read from Alma. It turns out there is Church involvement in his family too. Yesterday (Sunday the 16th of November) we went to visit them. They related these experiences to us and went on to say that they had prayed and received an answer. They know that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is their new home church. They said its been a long hard road but they've finally found what they've been searching for. When we left their home, I couldn't hold it back any longer: I cried all the way down the street. As Joseph Smith said: "...the truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent; till it has penetrated every continent, visited every climb, swept every country, and sounded in every ear..." I couldn't ask for any better than this.
So as you can see... good things, I dare say: miracles, are happening. I'm on top of my money... I love the ward... the work is on fire and life is GOOD.

Oh and the prop 8 fallout hasn't really made its way here. Albany is a fairly conservative town. Eugene may be more of a hotspot though. But all I've heard has been from members.
but anywho... thats my story, morning glory. I'm lovin it out here. And Elder Simpson and I are tearin' it up. Of course I'm not boasting in myself. But I will surely boast in my God. Thanks for everything you do Heida. You rock and I love you!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Letter to Aunt Danna

Hey hi hello. I think I'll shoot you a quick note just to say thank you again. You've helped a LOT. so you rock.
I think your job sounds kinda fun. I used to do that too. Only instead of a computer it was an xbox. And instead of trading I played video games. And instead of making a living I irritated my friends and family. So maybe it wasnt so similar after all, now that I think about it. In fact it wasn't similar at all. The point is... sounds like a cool job.
Anywho... life is good. Even though I've white-washed an area and neither of us have any clue whats going on lol. Ok we have some clue, but little. Life is good though. Thanks for your love and support. Love you tons!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Letter to Mom on September 22, 2008


I'm in the Takena Ward of Albany, Oregon. Ok wait, funny detail. Elder N. transferred from Takena ward in Albany to High Desert Ward in Bend to be my companion. Then I went from High Desert to Takena. How funny is that?? He had mail in our mailbox when we got here so I forwarded it straight to the High Desert Elders' apartment lol. He was really bitter about leaving Takena, so he'll be kinda miffed to see my handwriting on that envelope.

My new companion is Elder Simpson from Jacksonville Florida. He's totally cool. He and I are a lot alike and we get along very very well. Plus he's a super hard worker so we're getting a lot done. Its good stuff.

Man speaking of cool houses, you should see Albany, its mostly victorian houses. Some havent been kept well at all and are falling apart and all overgrown and stuff, but a lot of them are restored and really cool. Our old ward mission leader's house is a really cool old house that they restored. Its pretty awesome.

Everything is going really well. I'm loving life and workin hard. Thanks for being a great mom. I thought about you last night by the way, we were at an investigators house and they were watching Without a Trace. I was like "Aw... Momma..." lol. But anywho... you rock. You and Dad both. I'm full of love right now lol. Life is good. Dare I say great? I do. Life is great. Love you tons!

Zach with President and Sister Fugal before they left.

Zach with the Heinrich family.

Zach on P-day with the Grows.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Letter to Jen August 7, 2008

I keep forgetting to mention!! TELL me who the sealer is for Jess and Chris! My mission presidents father-in-law is a sealer at that temple!! And my companion lives only a few blocks away from the Tanners! Is that NUTS??? Dont answer, yes it is!

Dude... Did I tell you we went to Brother P's ranch this week and bucked FIFTEEN TONS of hay?? We loaded and unloaded it! So thats handling like 30 tons! It was so nuts. It dang near killed all of us. Plunkett is so cool though, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.

Freak, Bishop Tsang, our Bishop fell through on getting me to a copy machine this week. So we're going to get the library key from him today to copy my journal. He always uses huge words. He's not like "Were they nice?" or "Were they friendly?" he asks "Were they very congenial?" lol. Or not "I'll be there soon" its "I will expedite my efforts." lol. He's way cool though. He's a crazy good bishop. He's a retired engineer, and all he does is drive around visiting people and looking for missionary or reactivation opportunities. Dinner at the Tsangs is always fun too. Its always like... a bunch of chinese food, and a bowl of beef stew. Or hot dogs. Like, one American dish on a table FULL of chinese food. Its fun.

Anywho... life is good. I'm happy and healthy. The work is starting to pick up a little too. Maybe thats cuz I have a not-trunky companion. Lol. That does help a lot. But anywho... sorry this was so short. the computers are a pain today (public library, yay). Love you tons!!!

Letter to Mom August 7, 2008

I'm glad president Fugal said nice things about me. He called me out in front of the whole mission at the mission conference we had before they left. Sister Fugal was talking about one of her closest friends then related that she was talking about Elder Roberts grandma. Then A minute later President said "Now Elder Roberts, just cuz we know your grandma doesnt mean you'll get away with anything. It means we expect more from you!" it was nuts.

I have indeed had a lot of opportunity to see the Macdonalds. They stopped in on our combined district meeting on their way across Oregon to Eugene. We were the first zone to meet them. I was the first missionary to have met them. I know, way cool. Then we had interviews not much later, then the next week we had a zone conference. I've already gotten very close with them. They say I remind them of one of their sons.

Quick story about that son: In high school he walked around all day with a roll or toilet paper. He took it to all his classes and kept it on his desk. When people asked about it, he just said "you never know. You just never know." lol. So no wonder i remind them of him. They said "he has a very 'unique' sense of humor." I asked "Are you used to it?" and they said yes, and I said "Good we'll do great." lol.

But I spent a ton of time around them at zone conference. Sat with them at lunch and cracked jokes with them. I sat and chatted with Sister Macdonald for like 40 minutes afterwards. I've gotten pretty close with them. President has even given me permission to play a guitar if I come across one. (its otherwise against the rules to even pick one up). So I'm enthusiastic.
Anywho... My finances. I should do alright. But... I'll definitely accept help lol. And I'm a grateful guy. I sent Mary Lloyd a nice thank you letter cuz she sent me some McDonnalds gift certificates. Its funny how much even small things help a ton.

about my new companion, not a trunky one. He's been out like 8 months. Ask dad about other details. Small world.

Everything is good here. Anywho... life's good. I'm happy and healthy. Thank you so much for all your love and support and everything you do. Love you tons!!!

ps-I'll be sure to let you know if I need a little extra help with things. But so far the budget plan is going well... love you!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Letter to Mom July 28, 2008

I think pieces of enoch must be scattered about cuz i've been thinking the same thing about the high desert ward here in bend. Man once i get transferred, if you and dad feel like vacationing anytime, go to BEND!! Meet my ward. Otherwise we are stopping here on the way home. Cuz you guys gotta come get me. Ya gotta. Oh by the way, Elder little is leaving on tuesday and I get a new companion. I scored another 6 weeks here in Bend!!!

It sounds like life there is going really really well. I'm super stoked for you guys. Your talk sounds like it was freakin sweet. And yes, grandma did talk about her dad while I was there for my "spring break". Amazing talk.

I really liked the tree story. I think I'll be using that later on. Lol, thats kind of a joke between me and Elder Birch (one of the zone leaders who's also going home this week)... we always say "Do ya mind if I coin that as my own?" In kind of a Sean Connery voice lol. We're insane when we're together. I'm sad he's going home. Anywho, that story and its parallel were awesome.
And finally... CDO...? Mom you weirdo. lol. You WOULD. [I told him I have CDO, it's like OCD but the letters are in alphabetical order like they belong.]

Anywho... if this email is a little disappointing, find comfort in this: I talked with Bishop T at church and he's gonna get me into the library at church this week to copy my journal!! He rocks. Plus I wrote a little letter that I sent today, outlining my financial plans and a budget. So... my electronic communication might stink this week but my analog mail is gonna rock. So I'll say it early, buckle up.

I'm happy and healthy and doing all I can. Things are good. We're going out to P's ranch in about an hour to buck 15 TONS of hay with him. Oh joy lol. On preparation day nonetheless... lol. It'll be fun. He's feeding us lunch and dinner. So it'll be worth it. Anywho... Love you tons!! Keep having fun and being social! Rock on.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Letter to Mom July 21, 2008

People are STILL talking about my talk. I dono if I told you much about my talk, but I talked about how Eleanor's good example helped me want to change my life. EVERYBODY asks about her now. People ask if we're still friends, if she's writing me, if she's waiting for me lol. Its funny. Man... I feel SO at home in my ward its amazing.

I like your outlook on confidence in a missionary, and I totally agree. I used that mindset when I first got here. I felt like a scared little boy, but I did what I could to look like a man. (he look... like a man. lol). And people are surprised when they find out how new I really am. I'm almost out of the "green" phase of my mission. yay! How weird is that? Way weird.

Let me know how the talks go. And I'll get you a copy of everything I've been meaning to copy. I have one last Idea for how to get copies. Its a good one too. I really have been trying desperately to get copies but of the 2 churches i'm usually at, one has a passcode on theirs, and our building has the copy machine in the vault we call the library. So i'm just going to nicely ask Bishop Tsang. If that doesnt work out... I'm going to the stake center. lol

Being on a mission hasn't saved me from any hard work. I've laid a yard of sod already. And this week we helped our ward mission leader's son move some ridiculously huge furniture down an unrealistically small stairwell. Then we bucked 6 tons of hay. ALL IN ONE DAY! lol. Then we worked as escorts at the Red Cross Blood drive a couple days later. Man. Its been a crazy week.
Dads gas adventure sounds like a crazy time. WHY DID HE HAVE HIS BIKE?? Either way, lucky that he did! lol. Thats funny. And even though I ride my bike in dress pants Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays and every other Sunday, I still have sympathy for him lol. (We share a car). He's a mad man.

Transfers are at the end of the month. My apartment address should be safe for another transfer period, however just as good practice, assume I'll be transferred and dont use the address till further notice. I'm shooting for 6 months in Bend.

Anywho... its been a really hard week, and a weird couple weeks. I cant go into detail in an email, its too much to say. But suffice it to say, I'm seeing the crazy side of missionary work. It feels like freakin Harry Potter lately. Our whole zone has been experiencing some powerful and oftentimes spooky opposition. Its... weird. No fun. But that just means that miracles are around the corner.

I'm healthy and doing well. I'm broke as freak this month cuz Bend is one of the most expensive places in the universe to live and food costs are on the rise apparently. Yay! But i'm trying to learn to be more conservative with my funds. I think I'll start pinching pennies a little harder and see if a boog comes out of lincolns nose. lol. But yeah, life is good. Thank you so much for your love and support and stories! Love you tons!!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Pictures Finally!

Pictures from Zach, the captions below were written on the backs. Double click to see full size.

Our district in the MTC with Brother Jake Reis. He's the Hawaiian in the middle.
My MTC district at the mission conference 6-12-08. Nichols, Me, Lunt, Tui'one, Griffith, Rogers, Baucom.
My Zone from the MTC at the temple.
Me doing the classic "Matrix" shot. I hate myself for doing it.
Me & the Fugals at the mish conference. I thought I'd get one where I didn't look like a horrified greenie fresh out of the MTC. Elder Coffey & "his boys." He trained all 3 of us, so we're "brothers." Elder Haight, me, Coffey, Elder Burdess.
Me & Elder Larson the day our district went caving just outside of Bend.
Oregon is gorgeous!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Zach's Letter to Mom, July 14, 2008

I'm not proud that you and dad are WI residents. WI is lame... lol. I'm a Minnesotan. Oh man. I've run into a few of them out here too! Like, we had dinner with Brother K's family, he's the son of the first counselor to the Bishop, and his inlaws were here. FROM MINNESOTA!!! It was so awesome to hear the accent again. I even slipped back into it a little bit and Elder Little laughed at me a lot. It was a good time. He even knows about where LP is. Thats a true Minnesotan. He asked "Who's the chief of police there?" I told him Bob Carlson. He said "That tells me one of two things; either you were a wild kid before you left or your dads a cop." lol it made me laugh. Cuz dads not a cop...

Oh man, Elder Little and I spoke in church yesterday! Freak, it was amazing. Mine was very personal. I always procrastinate my talks, so this time i planned way ahead to stay up all saturday night to write it and it paid off big time. It was good. I'll send you a copy.

Our ward mission leader's wife (also the secretary for his calling) Sister B came up to me with tears in her eyes and held my hand and said "I WISH so bad I could hug you." it was kind of a whoa moment for me. I'm starting to feel like I'm touching lives and its blowing me away. This is what I live for, to leave my mark on peoples lives.

I'm enjoying your spiritual thoughts every week. They add good insight that I definitely enjoy. So keep pondering! Oh man, one last note, Elder Little and I went to Relief Society yesterday too! Way fun! lol. My journal explains why. Be patient with me, im sorry its not there yet! SOON!

Anywho... Life is WONDERFUL. The work has slowed down a lot, which makes me sad, but we're working hard to find more people to teach. It'll pick back up shortly. We just gotta have faith.

Anywho... Everything rocks. I hope the unpacking goes smoothly for you guys. Love you TONS!!!

Letter to Jen July 14, 2008

Grandma Liz sent me a bunch of envelopes with labels and stamps on them already. Right on, save a few bucks on postage.

(This is Zach's response to my question about his big post-mission travel plans and the info that our cousin Logan and his wife Kristen are going to Oregon to visit her family soon.)
Part of my big travel plans indeed do include Utah. I'm making a list of people to spend a few days with. Lol. It includes Oregon, California, and Utah. So I'll pretty much be America's guest for a while. If Logan and Kristen stopped in Bend that would make my day. Knowing my luck it'll be the same week that my trainer Elder Coffey stops back through. He's coming to visit me on his way up to Washington (to get the girl of his dreams). Man, I almost wrote "WARshington". Thats how they say it here.

They say such goofy crap in Oregon. We have a joke, we say "I ain't been in my rig in a couple-three weeks cuz I ain't warshed it." Which is Oregonian for, "I haven't driven my truck in several weeks because I havent washed it." We catch ourselves saying "Couple-three" sometimes. Its really stupid. Freakin Oregonian accents. Dont tell Kristen lol.

I've realized why missionaries are WEIRD when they go home. We're just a clever mix of all the other missionaries around us. We pick up weird crap from each other. Like one of the zone leaders and I always sit all proper and cross legged and talk like Sean Connery and say stuff like "Well thats just scrumptious" or "Ah, delicious, let me just write that down in my register" and "Oh, rather... Do you mind if I coin that as my own?" He and I have WAY too much fun together. He's NUTS.

Anywho, you got a longer email than mom did. Oops. lol. I'm just rambling in this one though. You can share with her.

Oh man. One last story, so we did an activity for district meeting on obedience. Our district leader asked one of our zone leaders Elder Dickison "Would you do anything to share the gospel?" and he said yes. So Elder Stout (Dist Leader) told him that in order to share the gospel in this activity he had to stand up in front of us and sing "I'm a little tea pot" with the actions. He had stuff for all of us. And for me, he asked "Would you do anything to share the gospel?" I said yes. He said "Then sign this contract." and Elder Baucom had written up a contract saying, in short "I Elder Roberts hereby admit that Hannah Montana is stupid and ugly and she's the crappiest thing that Disney has ever puked out into the world, which is saying a lot because they gave Britney her start. Blah blah blah" lol. I signed it "Orville Redenbacker" lol. It was aweseome.

Anywho, life is good. I'm still working hard and trying my best to be the best Elder Roberts I can be. Thanks for your love and support Jen. Youre a rockstar of a big sister! LOVE YOU!!!

Monday, July 7, 2008

Letter to Jen July 7, 2008

Okay this is only part of his letter because the other stuff was just answering my questions.

Hey, i got the package, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!! Oh my gosh it was amazing! You saved me a ton of money on groceries too! YOU ROCK!

And I will make copies of my journal very very soon. Its on the way. We've just had some major complications lately with that stuff. Freak, calm down. Lol.

4th of July was cool. You'll have to google Bend Oregon Pilot Butte so you know more of what I'm talking about. But anywho, they set of a sweet fireworks show from the top of Pilot Butte, so you could see them from anywhere in town. It was awesome! Especially since our apartment complex is really close to the butte. So I made a smoothie (which I've gotten REALLY good at) and we chilled out in front with some neighbors and watched the show. It was fun. I'm sending home a small memory card with some pictures and videos on it. Maybe some of that stuff will make its way to you. I hope so.

anywho... thank you so much for the package. My cabinets are stocked now! You're the best! I've been workin hard and having a blast. I've GOT to get my journal on its way... ugh. Anywho... thanks for your love and letters and all that. LOVE YOU!!!

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Letters June 30, 2008

My parents and I all got letters from Zach this week. Apparently the one to my dad was short and the ones to my mom and me were mostly just responses to our letters. He is still so happy and loving everyday but he's definitely in need of some packages from loved ones! If anyone has a minute to send him some cookies or candy or even a box of cereal, I know he would really appreciate it!

Here is one short story Zach sqeezed in to mom this week:
We got new neighbors next door. We had just gotten home from dinner when they pulled up with a pickup truck and trailer. We tossed on some work clothes and helped them unload. They were caught so off guard it was awesome! So now every time they see us they're way excited and super friendly. I have such a huge sense of belonging here. The ward treats me like a member of their own family, our investigators are awesome, and our neighbors are great. I love this place.

Here is one short story he sent me:
I've been making some cool changes in the ward I'm in. I'm really excited. I finally got a weekly corrolation meeting going with our ward mission leader, I'm pushing to get a full time gospel essentials teacher called, and I also came up with an idea for a cool class we're putting together. It would be a quarterly thing or something like that. About member missionary work. Where The missionaries will spend third hour with an auxilliary group with all the proselyting tools we have, lesson pamphlets, dvd's, pass-along cards, etc and teach them more on how to effectively use each of those tools. Like most people dont even know the lesson pamphlets exist. They're AMAZING!! They're packed with doctrine in simple terms, its what we give to investigators or contacts to help them learn more. So the goal of the class is to educate members on effective and non-scary ways to share the gospel. My idea. Came up with it on the toilet.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Letter to Mom June 23, 2008

Pictures... I dont know when I'll be sending pictures. I cant seem to find the perfect moment. But I will pretty soon. I develop pictures about every other week. So as long as I'm funded for that. I'm not allowed to use my missionary support fund card for things like that. Just food and personal needs. And the cost of living in Bend is way high. Its a ritzy town. Ugh, so I'm poor this week. I'll be eating a lot of Malt-o-meal products and rummaging through the cabinets. But our cards get recharged in a week so I'm looking forward to it. Anywho... pictures as soon as I can.

My new companion is Elder Little from Riverton Utah. Its gonna work out yeah. I'm gonna do what Elder Coffey did before he left, just get a ward contact list printed. Good plan. Oh man... I mentioned this to dad, one of our investigators, Brother P, my goal this week is to commit him to baptism. I want you guys to meet them some day. They are some of the most amazing people I've ever met.

I'm way amused by the prospect of you guys crashing weddings. Crash one in my honor wouldja? It'll be fun. Like the time I crashed the family reunion at the event center with Barneys' cousin Mark. That was super fun, mostly cuz he's an amazing liar and when we got confronted he dug us out. Anywho, It'll be fun I promise.

Things rock. Life is good. Oh funny moment, the other day Elder Little and I were walking down the road and there were two kids on bikes on the other side of the street, a boy and a girl. Out of nowhere the boy yelled "She likes you both!!" and the girl yelled "I do not! I'm gonna hurt you when we get home!" It was really funny.

Another day we were walking by the park on Providence... ok you dont know what that means, but we walk by it a lot. Anywho and there were two girls on the playground cat-calling at us. When I looked over one of them was waving us over. I paid Elder Little to go OYM them. He was so nervous and awkward, it was hilarious. It was uncomfortable for him cuz one of them was very very pretty. And she was making scandalously flirty gestures at us while he was talking. He was stu-stut-stuttering everything!

Sometimes I feel like I'm the wards little brother. You know how people were with me back in Hutch? That endearing poking-fun at me? It happens here a lot. Everybody kinda picks on me... well, not picks on me but just kinda gives me a hard time like I'm their frickin kid brother. I enjoy it. In spite of the jabs here and there from the members they treat me really really well. They know that there is no limit to what I would do for any one of them. Thats what matters to me, that they know how much I love them.

Elder Little and I are speaking in church on the 13th. I think... whatever sunday is closest to that. I'm going to include that in my talk, about how I would walk 600 miles to get a glass of water for anybody in the ward if they asked me to. I'd even run to make sure it was still cold by the time I got back. I love these people.

Anywho... whenever I can get access to a copy machine I'll get some journal out to you. Frick, its just been really complicated lately with that kind of stuff. I'll get it figured out soon though I promise. Missionary life... rocks. They told me "you'll get homesick, you'll get sick from food, you'll get sick of your companion, you'll get lonely, worn out, put down and discouraged." None of that has bothered me. The beautiful girls around town are a bother though. But they're all nice to us. Actually no thats the problem. Anywho. I hope everything goes well for you guys. I'll let you know if I baptize Brother P. Its my drive and focus right now. But all the work is going well. Thanks for all your love and emails and everything you do for me. LOVE YOU!!

Zach's Letter to Dad June 23, 2008

I'm not counting months yet. Time is flying too fast.

I'm still waiting for mail. I've been "boxed" all week long, meaning tosay I've received no mail. But today should be different. A girl ElderLunt knows from back home wrote me a letter. It should arrive from theoffice today. I havent heard from Vince or Abby yet. But maybe today. They're both due to write.

Anywho... I ran into a woman from Minnesota yesterday while we weretracting. She was talking about her family and how they moved to WI. Isaid "oh bummer, I just lost my parents to Wisconsin." We laughed goodand hard over it.

Oh man! My new companion is Elder Little. He's on his final transfer too. They send them to me to die I guess. But it secures my place inBend that much longer. I'm way stoked. We're getting along really well. Especially when I make breakfast or smoothies.

I figured out what my financial problem is. The cost of living in Bend is remarkably higher than average. Food is more expensive here. Even taco bell, the like 80 cent burrito I get is a dollar. Its crazy! So I got a Safeway card so I could save money on groceries and not have to be poor the last week of every month. Or at least AS poor. Real estate here is NUTS! We look at prices on houses when we're out. Your old housewould EASILY have gone for almost half a million here. Its ridiculous.

Anywho, things are going really well. We have a couple new investigators. And I got an investigator to come to church!!! I was soexcited to see her there! I worked my butt off for this too. Elder Coffey as well as Elder Little and I walked several miles to her apartment at least once a week. I called around to find her a ride. I'm working hard on everybody. My big goal this week is to commit Brother P to baptism. He's the guy who invented the snowboard. I think I've mentioned him. He's a barefoot waterski world champion. He came to the High Priests' activity on Friday and his wife was telling us all these stories about him. I looked at him and said "I've seen your movie, Superman" We laughed pretty hard.

There's a restaurant here in town that has a hotwing challenge. Fifteen minutes to eat fifteen insanely hot wings. If you do it you get a tshirt that says "I'm freakin HOT". I've been wanting to do it for a long time, and Brother P said he'll not only take us but he'll buy my wings. Their fellowshippers, the are coming too. It'll be a great time. He's gonna get baptized. His wifes already a member. He knows its true. He just needs to be nudged a little.

Anywho, life is good. The work is moving right along. And I'm just happyas a clam. Hey, keep being awesome. Thanks for all your love and effortsto make this possible. Love you TONS!!

ps-- I've heard nothing of this epic flooding. I'd like to know more. Love you!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Zach's Letter to Jen 6/16/2008

Summer is here! I'm so excited! Bend has turned so beautiful and green and the weather is just perfect.

My comp and I made the rounds lastnight, saying goodbye to a bunch of members he loves. He leaves bend on Wednesday and goes home on Thursday. So we stopped in on some people. We went to see the H's. Did I tell you about them? Well, you've heard about them in emails. They're the ones with the cool son and the little redhead daughter I played footsie with at dinner. We were talkin with Brother H on the front porch and the redhead and the oldest son (there are 4 kids) were playing basketball on the driveway. I commented on how the game was turning violent, and Bro H was like "Yeah... she's pretty good, I won't lie" then she threw up a shockingly horrible shot (air ball... not even close) and I was like "I'll give her the benefit of the doubt". It was funny. They're my favorite family.

Wow transfer calls were so stressful. I was sitting in the back of the apt panicking all night long. I was like "They're gonna white-wash us. They're gonna!" But they didnt. I'm staying in Bend.

I rejoiced over my extended stay yesterday. I was at the sacrament table, we were short on priests and deacons so I sat at the table and Elder Coffey passed. It was fun. Anywho I was just looking over the congregation and feeling totally happy that I got to stay. I've come to LOVE this ward so much. Brother H was pretty happy to hear that I'm staying. Last week... maybe the week before... I donno. Either way a previous week Elder Coffey and I had to pass the sacrament cuz there weren't enough deacons. When I was walking from the back of the chapel, a little kid (like 4 or 5 years old) shouted "ELDER ROBERTS!!" and everybody kinda cracked up. It was funny.

Anywho... yeah about mom and dad moving. Yesterday Brother H was like "Hey, Coffey, at least you're going home to your actual home right?" And Elder Coffey said "Unlike Elder Roberts, yes." And I explained that mom and dad sold the house, my jeep, and my furniture. He just grabbed me and shook me, I think that means something comforting in their family cuz it happens a lot.

We were talking about post-mission plans too (still with Bro H). I explained that the plan is for me to not fly home, but rather mom and dad coming to pick me up. Brother Heinrich asked "Then what are you gonna do with them?" and I said "Come back here." Meaning, to his house. He laughed very loudly. Its all good. I will come back.

Anywho... I'm just doing what I do. Things are going well, and life is good. Keep being awesome!


Friday, June 13, 2008

Zach's Letter to Parents June 9, 2008

Its weather season in the midwest! HA! Bend is SO gorgeous, and I never have to worry about overly powerful thunderstorms or tornadoes... just volcanic explosions... which arent as predictable as the weather... or predictable at all... but... im just going to be optimistic and assume Bend wont go Pompeii on us.

I know all about loving new wards. The High Desert Ward, where I'm serving, is AMAZING!! These people are so great! Elder Coffey has served here a total of 9 months, and he said its the best area he knows, and everybody loves it. I hope President leaves me here forever.
Its weird to hear you talking about being socially outgoing, I'll be honest. But I'm super happy for you. I've realized that I'm actually NOT socially outgoing. You know how when you make eye contact with people you both look away quickly? I dont have that ability. I cant look away, so I fill the awkwardness with a "Hi" or I point at them. The High Desert Elders Quorum president noticed that and he pokes fun at me for it. But hey, it helps me out as a missionary.

That ward sounds nuts! With all the moving in and out! Hey, I'm proud to report that I've moved three, count them: THREE pianos since getting out here! The first one was totally random too. I was tracting with one of the zone leaders (oh my goodness Scott Longs twin just walked into the library.) and we asked a woman if there was anything we could help her out with and Elder Dickison, as a RANDOM EXAMPLE said "like moving a piano or something" and he kinda laughed. And she said, well... as a matter of fact... and we ended up moving a piano out to a truck and putting it in the back! What the heck.

About that member family... FELLOWSHIP FELLOWSHIP FELLOWSHIP!! The guy we're teaching, the one who invented the snowboard, whose wife is a less-active member, etc... Their fellowshippers are on FIRE! Its amazing! They got them to church, and even got the sister to some ward activities for RF and such. so FELLOWSHIP! Plus you'll have some friends nearby.

Make sure to tell scoutie I miss her. cuz i do!

Ok so let me spin you a twisted tale. This is so bizarre you'll never believe it! It was my pleasure and privilege to be in the passenger seat of this wild ride.

So Elder Coffey dated this girl, back in high school right? Wrong! Ok no its true, he did. Anywho... so she moved to Vancouver, WA a couple years ago, and he was called to serve.
His first area was Bend, OR, much like me! Back then the ward mission leader was Brother H, who signed up to have us over for dinner on 6-8-08 back in May. Anywho... he was here for SIX MONTHS! holy crap right? But then he got transferred.

So then against all odds, he got transferred back to Bend at the end of his mission. He's been kinda letting me in on how things have been going in the letters between him the girl. Let me tell ya... its gonna happen. Anywho... He gets a letter from her that says something to the effect of "My friend is moving to Sisters (the town next to Bend), and we're all coming with her to help her move, we're staying with my other friends uncle in Bend. I need to know what ward you're serving in so we can avoid it". He responded and told her so there would be no awkward run-ins.
Fast forward to yesterday... the eighth of June. We were talking to a less active member who came to church, and Elder Coffey said "Elder this is bad..." I look up... there she is! FRICK, right?? Fast forward to dinner... We go to the H's house... there's the girl!! FRICK, right??? I had a great time at dinner, I love that family. They're a ton of fun and they make me feel completely at home. Its amazing. Elder Coffey... I'm not sure how that visit was for him. They introduced the girl and her friends, and he just said "We've met...." it was just... wow. So after dinner the girl hand delivered her latest letter. We read it later... it included something along the lines of "I dont know where the High Desert ward is, all I know is we're staying with my friends uncle, Brother H. We're going to church with him."

What are the frickin odds of that!!!!! It was so amazing! Poor Elder Coffey has been in complete shock over this! The odds of all of these factors coming together! The girl he liked moved to Washington... he went to Bend Oregon. Of all the people she made friends with, she made friends with the niece of the ward mission leader in the town--the very WARD where he was serving. Then for him to get transferred BACK to Bend, against ALL ODDS!! Oh my goodness I'm going to explode just thinking about it! You know how much I LOVE a good awkward situation, and this is the KING of awkward and random unlikeliness.

Anywho thats my story for the week. And in case you dont recall... Brother H is my image consultant. He tells me how I look every Sunday. He's rarely too nice about it either. His son is the super cool priest in our ward. Sister H flies an AirLife helicoptor for the hospital, and their daughter is the little redhead I accidentally played footsie with at the table a few weeks ago. They're a great family. Possibly my favorite? We'll see.

We've been working with a less active member who wants to quit smoking and get back on track. I think i've mentioned her before. Well her room-mate has a 15 year old daughter, who has shown mild interest in what we teach. Whenever we come over, she comes in and sits in on the lessons. We're hoping to get her to church. I mentioned how we want her to go to church with us sometime, but they said that the daughter would never go to church. Now... one thing about me... when people say "you cant", "you wont", and especially "never"... It becomes my priority to accomplish it. Not only will we get her to church but I'm gonna baptize her. Ok maybe not that much all at once, but we'll get her to church.

Anywho... As you can tell things have been wonderful. The work is progressing well and life is just all around good. (I'll be sending my journal pages as soon as i can.) I'm healthy and happy and doing well. Thanks for everything! Be good and play nice, LOVE YOU!!

Letter to Parents May 27, 2008

Theres a family in our ward, the W's, whose son just got home from his mish in Finland. He said his facebook was still up when he got home. Rock on right? Anywho... They are taking wonderful care of us. This ward treats us so well! The sunday before the recently passed week we went to a member family's house for dinner, and they served steak! They raised the cow themselves. Their son is really cool, and i've set a goal to get him involved in our work. I think i told you about their 14 year old redhead daughter, the one i accidentally played footsie with under the table. Ugh. If i didnt tell that story let me know so i can explain (lol).
Anywho... I'm pleased to hear that my stuff will be preserved (likely so I can throw it away when i get home, but oh well). OH! If youre wondering why you didnt get an email yesterday, that would be because we use public computers, and all public places with public computers were closed. Stupid holidays.

Ok well since there's no more of your email to respond to I'll just blab about how things have been going. Oh and by the way, please send me anything that may be missing from this email so I can stay posted. Anywho... I've felt a stronger desire recently to step up my efforts and work harder. I've become a bit bolder in the way I introduce the gospel to people. Its hard to explain, but its making the work easier and harder at the same time.

I got a haircut from one of the zone leaders, Elder Birch (who wants me to marry his sister, Heidi). I wont fight that offer. He showed me a picture of her. She's super cute.
Anywho, enough about females.

So... Let me explain some of the money traffic that went on yesterday. I needed to use my WF card to make my purchase at costco yesterday. My JP Morgan card (the missionary support fund card) was like three bucks shy on the amount, so i had to use my WF card. I can just use the JP Morgan card to compensate with another purchase later on, no worries. And the second transaction... well there's a Van Heusen outlet in bend, and they had a huge sale. Everything in the store was on sale plus and additional 40% off. So I bought a REALLY nice new shirt for like fourteen bucks. It was a bargain I couldnt pass up. Its a stain shielded, wrinkle free, poplin dress shirt, point collar and french cuffs. I'll scrape together some change for cuff links before the mission conference next month. Anywho, I'll probably never see a deal that good again, so i figured I'd buy a nice shirt for interviews and zone conferences and stuff like that. If it makes you feel better, I was advised to purchase some extra slacks to extend the lifetime of my suit pants, but I got the slacks for FREE from another elder. So just pretend the fancy shirt and new slacks were 14 bucks. Elder Coffey says that the first chunk of the mission you find things you need here and there and buy them as you find them, so eventually random purchases die off once you fill your needs. Especially keeping in mind the fact that we have to pack everything up every couple months and go somewhere else.

I dont want you guys thinking I'm being wasteful. I am living within my means. I wouldnt have had to use my WF card yesterday on food items, but they only gave us $100 for our first month, instead of the $140 or whatever it is. (cuz it was an incomplete month.) June will be cheaper.I've spent a little bit more than some of the other new elders out in the field, but I'm still doing better cuz they all spent a fortune on stuff in the MTC.

This email is so long. I hope the whole thing gets to you. If not i've carbon copied it to myself so I'll just resend it if its incomplete. Maybe by now youre asleep... lol.

OH MAN! My watch band snapped! I just remembered that, even though it happened in the MTC. So maybe that would make a good Christmas gift for me. Or I'll trade any amount of yum-yums for a watch band instead. I've been wearing the little like, utility watch dad gave me. Its actually really handy. And it turns some heads. Ok one head, a guy we've been trying to teach. He asked to look at it, and he turned it over and over and over just looking at it. He's really cool. His wife's a member but he's not. She's not exactly active either. So we're working with them a lot. They're always gone though. They take a lot of vacations because they're SUPER rich. He invented the modern snowboard and sold his design to Burton. And now he just chills. He's always working on some project around his property. They built a HUGE pond, and now they're building a waterfall on it. He's not a lazy rich guy either, he does the work himself (well, and with help obviously). I think it'd be cool to come back and stay with him after my mission. Work around his property with him and hopefully drag him to church if he's not baptized and active by then.

I know i'm going to leave the library and remember something i wanted to say. But oh well. Its all in my journal. It'll get to you sooner or later. Be sure to send me an address as soon as i can. Or... i guess dad has that envelope that he's "preparing". It makes the envelope sound like some sort of secret government thing. I've gotten pictures prtinted that I can send you also. So be sure the "prepared" envelope can handle a good dose of journal pages plus a small stack of pictures. That way you can put some faces with the names you hear. Oh man, i've even printed a picture of me when i had long hair and a beard. I share it when its appropriate. Its a lot of fun.
There's not much else to say other than... life is good. I'm going to stray from being trite and not share my testimony at the end of my email, but just know that this is what its all about. As PMG says, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is both the "what" and "why" of missionary work. This life is the time for men to prepare to meet God.

Once again, I love you guys so much! Thanks for all you do to make my life successful. I wouldn't be much of anything without my parents help, love, and constant support. Love you!!!

Letter to Parents May 19, 2008

I'm a big fan of the scriptures lately. Especially the Bible. Cuz it contains so much more of the gospel than I realized. Like in Romans 8:16-17 it says something to the effect of... The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirits that we are the children of God, 7) And if children, then heirs. Joint heirs with Christ if it so be that we suffer with him... Now thats from memory so its probably off by quite a bit. But the point it makes is... The Mormons are right.
Im glad my journal pages are doing you some good. I think the random stories or facts, and the constant repetition of those stories and facts is an accurate portrait of the writer. I have a bad memory. What can i say.

Anywho... since I wont be sending any pages in the mail this week I'll take a moment to tell you a quick story from the week.

We went to dinner at some members' house lastnight... the H. Family. And my knee aches from time to time when i sit and i need to stretch it. So i stretched my leg and totally rubbed my foot along the leg of their 14 year old daughter... OOPS!! and i was so horrified and she just laughed and laughed. And later I did the same thing to their 17 year old son. Those two drove us back to their apartment later and I explained myself to them. They just laughed at me. I was SO embarrassed!!

Anywho... I'm workin hard and doing all i can. I love this work. I love the Lord. Life is so amazing and I feel infinitely blessed every day. I hope everything works out perfectly for you guys!! I love you tons and tons. Thank you for all you guys do for me. You're the reason i succeed at anything. LOVE YOU!

Zach's Journal: Arriving in Oregon 5/7-5/11

May 7, 2008
Yesterday we landed in Eugene’s tiny airport. After meeting President Fugal and the AP’s we got our luggage. The AP’s took us on the “scenic” route back to the mission home. We took some pictures and had a good lunch.
I loaded up in a truck with Elders Baucom and Lunt. We were taken out to our first area: Bend. The driver was a Brother Mabe. He had a half-hour’s worth of something to say about everything. Nice guy though.
It was weird to see the rapid change in scenery on the 2.5-hour drive to Bend. People told me Oregon was diverse, but holy crap! Eugene was green and foresty. It looked like anything that sat still for more than a day grew moss on it. We got up into the mountains where it was snowy. Then we came down in to dry pine forest, and eventually a desert-like area.
My trainer is Elder Cofffey. He’s pretty awesome. We’re getting along classically, so far. He bought me dinner at Arby’s last night. Super cool.

May 8, 2008
This morning was a little overwhelming. In our companion study I found out how much memorization I need to do in this mission, including 50 scriptures. Then we did weekly planning. Holy crap! Then we went tracting.
At the end of our tract, before welt, we did one more house. The man was outside. He knew right away we were missionaries. He chatted with us a bit and asked us where we’re from. He seemed surprised when I said Minnesota. He’s a Minnesotan too! He invited us in. He had a great home. He’s a pastor, but he’s more in touch with God than most of his line of work. We answered some questions he had about the Book of Mormon and our beliefs. We left him with a copy of the Book of Mormon. He seemed interested I reading and praying about it. We’re going back next week to follow up with him. His name is Jim. He’s in his 60’s. A good man, and amazing storyteller. I’m praying for him.

May 9, 2008
One thing about the mission field I’m enjoying is the morning. What the heck, right? Not the waking up part. But like, at the MTC I woke up around 6, got in the shower or waited for a shower, and by the timeI was ready, we rushed off to the cafeteria and on with the day. Here I have a little more time to build up a good head of steam. Like right now. It’s 7:12 a.m. Personal study is at 8. I’ve been up since about 6. I’m showered and pretty. I’ve had breakfast, and even read a talk by Spencer W. Kimball.

May 10, 2008
I’ve been away from home for a month. Weird. I’m badly sunburned after a day wandering Bend. We did some serious walking today. Met a guy, like 6’4”. I think he could kill both me and Elder Coffey in one punch. We have an appointment to teach him a week from tomorrow. I’m excited. Okay my sunburn’s not that bad.
Today I was looking at a lamp in our apartment. I asked “what’s the deal with this lamp?” Elder Coffey just stared at me. I asked, “why is it here? Where did it come from?” and Elder Coffey said, “And where is it going? I have the answers to all these questions.” And we just sat there laughing at our punchy missionary selves.
Elder Coffey got his homeward bound itinerary today. He said it’s weird because this means he’s actually going home. This is my first area, and his final area. But it was also his first. He came back to train me. It’s a weird full circle thing.

May 11, 2008
I don’t know if I mentioned before, we met Sister Payne, one of the sister missionaries from The District. This is significant now, I promise. Her little brother, Elder Payne, is one of the AP’s here! Small world, especially in this church.