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.