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Raymondville, Texas

Raymondville, Texas

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

"Service is Legit"

October 26, 2009

Whats up everyone!?!

Time is flying by, feels like it was just P-Day yesterday! Once again Happy Birthday to Kallie! How was your party? Did you get anything cool for your birthday? Glad you liked my card and all the ties and stuff. Sorry it made you cry tho haha. Sounds like Cassidys team is doing really well and that Cassidy keeps improving! Whats her teams record? I've only heard of them losing 1 game so far so sounds like they are really good. Hows varsity doing? What about the football team?

Sounds like the Halloween dance and party was a lot of fun. I think we are having a branch party but I'm not sure. I know Elder Horton and I are having a pumpkin painting/carving thing on Thursday but thats mostly for this one girl who we want to get baptized. On Halloween night we have to be in at 6. I'm not sure what we are donig yet.

Thats really sad about Sister Carlton. If she is in pain then its probably for the best then. I'm still praying she gets better tho. I totally forgot about the twins Flat Stanley thing. I'll do it today and put it in the mail tomorrow.

So life is pretty good here. Yesterday was a really interesting day at church. Actually I'll just go back to the week in general. We invited probably like 50 people to church. I thought and was hoping we would get about 5. We only got 1. We gotta start doing something to get people to church, cus they can't get baptized if they aren't at church. Anyway that one person was Derrick. He's my favorite, I'll tell more about him later.

Oh yea we only had 1 investigator, but we had this innactive guy come who we talked to. He basicly hated us when we first talked to him, but as we talked to him more he opened up (by the way this was like a week and a half ago) and he was actually kinda nice by the end of the lesson. So I had totally forgot about him, but then he showed up at church! He's been innactive for 10 years!!! And he said he's coming back next week, hopefully he brings his family.

So after Sunday school I went to go help the Presidente with something, and he handed me and Ensign. Hes like, pick an article and go teach Elders Quorum. Haha I was like okayyy cool. The lesson ended up being alright tho cus I basicly used it as time to teach our investigator Derrick. I just thought it was funny how I had to do it on the spot tho. I love our branch.

Used my bike kinda a lot this week which was fun. I love riding it. It works really well, thanks Mom and Dad. We are able to talk to tons of people when we are on our bikes. We ended up having 148 contacts this week which is cool. Our goal is 140 every week.

We helped some people move into their house yesterday and the day before. Usually people don't let us help them but they really needed the help cus they were all tired and it was hot so we just helped them unload the moving van. It was acutally kinda fun and they said we can come back whenever they want. Service is legit.

My memory card on my camera is full so Im gonna be sending that back tomorrow with over 200 pictures on it. There are some funny videos on there too. Tyler are you putting my pics on Facebook? I finally played basketball last week! I couldn't jump tho it was kinda sad. I blame the cement court and the high rims tho haha. It was fun tho. Whats the latest with Los Al bball? Anything interesting happening? Is Tyler ever gonna write me? Oh so check this out. We came home the other day, and I went to make a sandwhich, and my comps bread had been chewed on. Like threw the plastic! So we think there are mice or something in our house which is gross. We cleaned up a lot tho so I think that will help.

Is anyone in our family a Pentecostal? We contacted this lady who was Pentecostal and she was so loud and just like "PRAISE JESUS" but every time we asked her to pray about our message she was like "NO". Which we get a lot so that's not what annoyed me. She was all talking about how she was feeling the spirit and stuff and then started mumblin something all loud and then just kept going. Apperently she was "speaking in tongues". They just dont get it do they? It's so sad but really hilarious. She was like "can you speak in tongues? I can. Praise Jesus! Amen. I can speak in tongues. I go to church every Sunday. Amen! Can you speak in tongues?" That was basicly what she was saying for like 20 minutes. haha thats why I love missionary work.

People are so stuborn tho. We're like, if you knew these things were true would you change? And they're like nope. Then we say, so if God told you to do something, and that what your doing is wrong, your going to keep doing it your way? Yep. Woooow. But then we just move on because they obviously aren't getting it. But honestly it is pretty fun. Stuborn people make me laugh. They don't get it and they wont let us help them figure it out.

Okay enough about annoying people. Derrick and Angela. I think I told you about them last week. Derrick got interviewed by President Miller this week, cus he was down here for Zone Confrence. And he passed!!! We were scarred cus he has a scetchy passed but he's good to go. He just either has to get married or seperated. That's what we've been working on a lot but he keeps putting too much on us. I love that guy tho. He's gonna be such a big help to us as missionaries cus he can relate with all the super ghetto people we have been teaching. I try but I can only pretend to be ghetto hahah. Hopefully next time I talk to you he will be married!!! Alright well I think thats all I got for this week.

Mostly just want everyone to know how much I love and miss them. Can’t wait to here back from everyone.

Con Amor,

Elder Given

Working hard and getting plenty to eat...haha

October 19, 2009

Hows it going family?

Sad to hear a bunch of you are sick! Tyler dont worry your braces will come off eventually haha. Addy has swine flu? Crazy. Whats Cassidys volleyball team record? Sounds like shes doing great which is good to hear. Im sending out a package today. Its got some clothes in it that I dont need anymore and some stuff for Kallie and letters for everyone.

BTW Happy Birthday Kallie (for tomorrow) and guess what? My companions birthday is tomorrow too!!! He's gonna be twice your age tho :) Sounds like Hagen did a great job on his talk in church. Must take after his dad. Did he speak with Mike? Oh yea so my bike, I didnt even get it until Friday of this week when we went back up to McAllen for New Comp Training. Its great. I love it.

New Comp Training was way fun cus I got to see all my buddies from the MTC and we told all our stories and stuff. The weather has been pretty nice lately, around 80 so we decided to ride our bikes Saturday. It was fun and I wanna do it more often. Its a really good bike, definently worth the money. It was also nice to finally get some letters this week! No surprise the first letter I got was from Tawny. Then I got a letter from Dad and that package the next day. The package was soo good! I only have 2 cinnamon roles left haha. I gave some to my comp and our roomates tho so don't worry. The cookies were really good too. When do I need to send Lauren and Sydneys Flat Stanley thing back?

This week flew by soooo fast. So there is this thing, kinda like a goal but its more of a way of life in the mission, called 20-20-2. Which means if you have 20 contacts a day, 20 lessons a week then you'll have 2 baptisms a month. Basicly its revalation and it works like everytime. So obviously that’s what we're striving for. We ended up with 153 contacts this week. I’m pretty stoked cus thats a ton. We have over 30 twice. And we have 14 new investigators ( which means we taught them a lesson and made a return appointment) and we have like 25 lessons( which includes at least 1 prayer, usually 2). So basicly we worked our butt of and it was fun. But at the same time I feel like it was unsuccessful cus we didnt have any investigators at church. We called, arranged rides, made sure people would be there, but people used there agency to not show up. All I can do is work harder and pray more I guess.

Our kid that got baptized last week scared us this week. Basicly he’s not all there, is what we decided. We couldn’t find him until Saturday, and we had to get confirmed Sunday. All the little kids that live by him said they heard he was smoking and that he didn’t want to talk to us. But we ended up finding him and talking to him, he barely wanted to go to church but he did. It all worked out but he’s just weird, I don’t get it. We'll see if we can find him this week, it doesn’t help that his grandma hates us.

Oh yea so last Moday, after we went and bought food, we had lunch with the new brach presidente, and it was some bomb BBQ, so I ate a ton. Then we had double dinner appointments that night! Back to back at 7 and 8! So we go to this members house at 7 and she made some chicken for us, it was alright but I was still full. Everytime I finished my plate she would be like "sirvense mas elder!" which means serve yourself more elder! She made me eat like 4 plates! I almost threw up haha. So then we have our other appointment, which was with Derrick and Angela, who I'll tell you about later. Derricks hopefully getting baptized on the 1st of Nov. Anyway Angela(who is a member) made us Navaho Tacos, and they were actually kinda good but I was so stuffed that it took me forever to eat. I almost threw up but it was funny.

I’ve got some good pictures on my camera to send home probably in a week or two. You can send me some pictures of the family or whatever too if you want. I’ve got a picture of this Elder who I went on splits with on Wed. He’s under 5 feet tall. I think he’s like part midget or dwarf or something, he’s really cool tho. Anyway it was really funny cus it was big ol lengthy me and little tiny Elder Cutler. So we've got some pictures that’ll make you laugh.

Our grass in our yard was seriously like 2 feet long! We were told one of the members was supposed to cut it, but he never did so we had the branch president come over with his tractor to do it but we had to help him some. It was crazy how long it was. It looks so much better now haha.

We taught this guy from Honduras today. I couldn’t understand I thing he was saying but I guess he was really prepared and we set a baptismal date with him for Nov. 15. I'm excited cus I think hes really serious about it.

So our Branch basicly got changed to English cus the Branch President prefers English over Spanish. He kinda switched back and forth the sometimes. Typical Tex Mex haha. Even stupid me spoke some Tex Mex yesterday! I was saying the prayer in priesthood ( cus we do everything) and for some reason I was praying in English, which I havn't done outloud in a long time, and in the middle I said "te damos gracias por" which means we thank thee for, I really dont know why I switched to Spanish for a phrase but Elder Hernandez, Elder Brandleys comp, was laughing at me haha. It was pretty funny but that is so typical of what people do here. I’m actually struggling with it a lot tho. It’s hard to learn cus I can never practice cus people always wanna talk to us in English. Most can speak both but they see that we're white so even if we talk to them in Spanish they answer in English. Oh well tho, when I need it the Lord will bless me with it.

Oh yea so Derrick and Angela. Angela has been a member for like 10 years, but is kinda crazy. She used to have lots of drinking and drug problems but she’s cleaned up lately. Her and Derrick have been together for 8 years but aren’t married. Derrick is really changing his life and is planning on getting baptized soon. We are really helping them try to keep the word of wisdom. I really love them and really hope Derrick can get baptized. They have to get married tho and his interview is on Thursday so they gotta do it fast. Im nervous but I have faith its gonna happen.

Alright well I guess that’s all that’s happened this week. It’s going by really fast. Tell everyone I love them and to write me. Especially Tyler, I havn’t heard from him in forever!

Love you guys a lot and thanks for all the support

-Elder Given

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Hey family!
So I'm here at the Library in  Raymondville Texas! I love it! Its so great here. So basicly our town is tiny and is kinda like that town on the movie "Cars". It has a main road that goes through it, but then a freeway was made around it so now there is like no one here. But the people who are here are great. We can talk to basicly anyone, I haven't had one door slammed in my face yet haha. 

The Branch here is pretty crazy, but the members are great. There are some really really awesome families. Its funny there are two families with like 4 little kids and they all love missionaries. They drew us pictures and stuff. It was so cool. They always see me and yell GIVEN! But surprisingly we speak a TON of English. We teach about 75 percent of our lessons in English. I dont really like it, but whatever. This is supposed to be one of the more spanish areas, and I guess one of the most dangerous haha. We've had 3 meals with members and they were all pretty good. Probably because I'm always starving. We haven't gotten to shop for food yet, so we've been eating our comps food, which isn't much. Oh yea so my comp is Elder Horton, and he and his comp, Elder Hernandez were here for 2 transfers before us and were doing really well, so they split them and made them both trainers, sooo me and Elder Brandley are here. My comp is the District Leader so we get the car. Its actually been pretty cool the last couple days tho, only like 80-85 haha. It really gets hot tho but I still love it. I just don't like all the bugs. I got bug bites allllllll over my legs. Oh and the kids here are crazy, like the teenagers. Basicly they have nothing better to do then drink, do drugs and do other things. Its not good. Drugs are really easy to come by but we had to teach this 12 year old kid about the word of wisdom and really worry if he would keep it. I still love the people tho. They're really nice and whatnot. 

Surprisingly I haven't had any tacos yet. Had some really good spaghetti tho! Ive tried a bunch of stuff but nothing has really been terrible, except some beans I had yesterday but whatever.

My companion is great. He is a super hard worker and is gonna be a great trainer for me. He follows the spirit really well. Hes from St. George and has a scholarship to play soccer at the U of U when he gets back. We basicly do anything and everything to get our investigators to church. We were calling people at like 730 yesterday and aranging rides and stuff. We had 3 people at church so not bad. The branch is soooo different then ours. There is 1 priest, actually 2 now after our baptism, and that's all the young men, like 3 young women and just a bunch of random people. I'd say like 40 percent of the people actually wore church clothes. Maybe even less. Most people had jeans on. And we got a new branch president who is a recent convert and is really gonna help our work. The last one was way worn out and didn't really care about missionary work, I guess he was Brach Presidente for like 10 years! They need us to do like everything at church. We and the branch president, run the place. I bore my testimony in Spanish yesterday. We think the branch might be changed to English soon. Also hopefully it will be a ward before I leave! 

Oh yea so we had a baptism yesterday, pretty cool. He is a 16 year old kid names George and he almost didnt get baptized. We had to get consent from his parents cus hes under 18 but his parents live in another city outside our area and they dont have a car, but we ended up being aloud to have his older brother sign it so it all worked out. 

Our ward mission leader is a great guy. His name is Brother Abby, one of the few white people here, and he will do anything for us. He bought us food our first two nights here and gives the other Elders and bikes rides all the time. He really does his calling well and cares about the work. Our house is really nice. We have one room that we all sleep in, we have 2 study rooms, a living room, and a nice kitchen. We just need to fill that kitchen with some food haha. I heard we might be losing our house tho cus the owner might be selling it so that would suck. We've commited 4 people to be baptized since I've been here! We had a legit one yesterday, he is seriously so prepared and hopefully his wife and son will be too. I have a really good feeling about him. 

I've been sleeping really well, I basicly pass out at night, and my bed is long enough and really comfortable. We made a goal to have 20 contacts a day and we've been really living up to that. We actually had 31 one day. Im pretty comfortable talking to people now so thats good. There are so insane dogs here tho. They like run out infront of cars and bark at them. We almost hit on yesterday! They always basicly try to attack our car! So stupid but whatever. I havnt gotten 1 letter since Ive been here which really sucks. Tyler tell my friends to write me haha. Give them the address I gave mom. Actually here it is again: 204 Alamo St. Raymondville, TX 78580. I need some letters. I only have like 45 minutes to email and only to family so yea. We are about to go shopping at Wal-mart soon! I'm starving, I had watermelon for breakfast haha. Well let me know how everything is going. Sounds like Coach K might actually do a good job. Hows school going for everyone? Cassidy hows volleyball? WEll I think thats about it. I love you guys and am loving it here! I'm happy and slowly learning Spanish.
Elder Given

Friday, September 25, 2009

This letter made me cry!

Hola Familia,

Hows its going? Things here are pretty good at the MTC. Thanks so much for the package!!! This pictures were amazing and the Cinnamon Rolls were the same as always....AMAZING. I just had two after I got back from the temple. So bomb. You dont need to print me off any of my pictures, I printed a bunch here at the book store. Thanks for all the cards from the kids and whatnot. Kallie made me laugh the hardest tho. Miss you guys a lot. Thanks for Dylan's email. Sounds like hes doin way good and I liked his pictures. Im gonna email him today if I have any extra time.    

CRAZY about Los Al bball! Tyler just work your butt off and youll be fine. I'm way stoked for Coach Smith, I love that guy. I was actually thinking bout him the other day cus me and Elder Harword were talking about my plan to be on his team at BYU in 2 years. I really hope it works out. So once I get back, Im gonna come home and work my butt off shooting a couple hours a day and getting in better shape. Then go up to the tryouts for the team and earn a spot. Harword legitly thinks I would have a really good chance at making it. There's another kid who just got into the MTC this week that is commited to play at BYU and he's going to McAllen! So I could have two buddies on the team when I get back that are gonna help me get on that team. Hopefully tho, Ive been praying already.   

So sounds like seminary is going good so far. Nice big class and I already know Sister Hiatt is gonna be a great teacher. Dad Im glad your getting tons of work, how was that job in Vegas? Did you hit up any buffets? haha. It's totally starting to cool down here. It was pooring yesterday morning. I really really want it to snow! Cassidy sounds like you and your team are doing really well! Keep up the good work! Im sure your athletesism will come with time and work.    

OH YEA! Jeffery R. Holland spoke to us on Tuesday! So cool! He is so intense and so entertaining, but we can totally tell he just cares so much about us and about the work. I feel so blessed to get to here from 2 apostles while im here. So Sandy leaves today at like 4! She is gonna do great. Its funny that we've talked more here in the last 7 weeks than we did before. Didnt even realize we'd be in here togehter before I got here! haha.    We get our travel plans on Thursday! I can't wait. It will tell us exactly what day we leave. Either two weeks from today tuesday or wednesday. I thought I was ready until I called this lady in the RC in Spanish! It was so crazy! I could barely understand her! Needless to say I've been working way hard now. Yesterday I memorized over 75 words. Hopefully they actually stick tho. It's funny I actually have been looking forward to the temple now. I don't know I liked the temple before, I just wasn't exicted to go. Now I'm stoked to go so that's good.    

I'm considering possibly going to Utah State if I don't go to BYU. A ton of my friends from here are going there. We have time for that tho. I've been getting all kinds of dunks now in gym. I had this sick lefty 180 tip jam on this kid who is really good. I was so stoked. It was way clean too. Then the next day I jumped through this kid, like all the way through his body and tip dunked it and then hung on the rim with him directly under me. So sick. My list of people I've dunked on is up to 15 haha.    

We got to host all the new people getting droped off on Wednesday. Me and my comps had the best job. We had walkytalkys and would like tell each other which spots are open and whatnot. They have 25 drop off spots now where they used to have 12 a couple weeks ago. We got 400 people into the MTC in a little over an hour. Way fun. Oh yea and that speach that you saw on the video on the camera. Elder Burningham is the one who gave it and he left for Florida a weeks ago. He "left" me his speach to give to the new elders coming in haha. I feel honored that he trusted me with it. We'll see how I do on Wednesday.    

Well I just wanted to let you both(mom and dad) know how much I love and appreciate how you raised me and how you set me up for success in so many ways. I owe everything I am to you and I hope you really know how much I love and appreciate you. I never thought I'd miss everyone this much but I do. Absolutly not even thinking about coming home tho. I realized in the temple today that I promised to give all my time talents and whatnot to the Lord, so thats exactly what I'm doing. I'm gonna work my butt off while I'm here and come home with no regrets. I just can't wait to actually get out there! Alright well I think thats all for this week. 

Love you a lot! Elder Given

September 14, 2009 Miracle donation from Japan and most hilarious missionary story yet!!!

Hola Familia,

This was kinda an uneventful week but I feel like Im learning tons of spanish. Yesterday was exactly the half way point. Its totally flying by. Can't wait to get out of here tho. I love it but I wanna be in Texas. I'm working super hard in my new companionship. We are doing are best to not waste any time and are talking a ton of spanish to each other. We speak spanish at all meals now. I'm pretty sure I can teach the whole first lesson is Spanish now. We'll find out on thursday. Were gonna practice a bunch tho before then. Im surprised at how easy it is seeming, everything clicks most of the time. 

I bore my testimony in church yesterday, in Spanish. It was pretty cool, I said basicly what I wanted to say. I was the only person in my district to do it. My comps and I decided this week that we want to be a lot more mature, that representatives of Jesus Christ need to be more mature. Obviously we havn't been screwing around, we just used to occationally get off task or whatever, or laugh at jokes that we shouldn'. So we are really working on that and also on following every rule. I feel lame doing it sometimes but I know the blessing will be great if I follow all the rules. 

I got the package, loved it. Loved the pictures and the leters. Are you going to send me some shoes and a memory card tho?  Thats soooo AWESOME about the person that gave us that money from Japan! If you are reading this, whoever you are in Japan, muchas muchas, muchas gracias for the money! You have no idea how grateful I am. It will help pay for my bike!! And to Grammy Barbie and Papa, thank you so much for paying for this month. You spoil me way too much :) 

So have you sold my car yet? Or my phone? Hopefully, I've been praying for that. Coach Lopez will take that program somewhere. Tyler, I hear you actually started working out with Auddy so thats good. Hows off season with Eddie? I bet you guys do a lot of abs and running. Work your butt off kid. Your sophmore year is when you need to get in really good shape for varsity. Do work. Cassidy hows volleyball going? Do you play. Oh yea I think I know one of the girls on your team. She was at Deweys house a couple times cus shes friends with Deweys sisters, Niki and Dani. Do you have any classes with them? Seminary starts tomorrow Im guessing! Have fun with that haha. I'm just kidding you guys have a great teacher, it will be fun. HOW CRAZY IS IT THAT BYU WON! I'm so disapointed I missed that. I'm guessing it was number 1 or 2 on sportscenter that night. What a crazy upset. They announced it over the pulpit in our stake confrence like meeting we had yesterday hahaha. 

I bought this photo ablum at the book store. Its pretty nice and holds 204 pictures! and its was only $4.71! So great, so if you wanna send me some more pictures go ahead, such as Costa Rica pics or bball or something, idk. We got a new teacher for our classes. She is brand new but she is way good. She is teaching us a ton of spanish and doesn't have to cry every lesson like our old ones haha. Speaking of teachers how are everyones teachers so far? Kallie you got the same teacher for the third year in a row!?! And Lauren and Sydney are in the same class? So cool. I miss you guys a lot. How's being in the middle of the middle school Hagen. I hated 7th grade but that doesn't mean you have to. I havn't gained any weight in like a week :( Im stuck at 182. I really need to gain another 8 lbs in the next couple weeks! 

So Idk if I explained what the RC is here but its a place where we go and make phonecalls to people to see if they got there BOMs our whatever. But on another floor it has the same things but it has inbound calls and chats. I love doing it. We have people call in and ask us about the gospel or whatever. I chated with this guy for like 80 minutes on Saturday, he was mostly trying to bash but I bore my testimony like 5 times. I tried to help him the best I could. Then yesterday I went and this guy was trying to say we dont need to be baptized, so I showed him Matthew 3 and whatnot. He was saying its not literal and all this stuff. I'm supposed to love him but I'm not gonna lie he was an idiot hahah. He kept saying how we dont need works to be saved and stuff and how works will drag us to hell. I'm like have you read James 2? I think he was a JW. All you can do in that situation is just bear your testimony. It sucks how bad peoles understandings are of the Bible. On a funnier note I had a guy call in and ask if God is magical haha. I was like well, he can do anything but I wouldnt say he's magical. I could tell they obviously wern't really interested. Then he was like (sorry if this is innapropriate) can God make monkeys come out of my butt? hahahaa I was like sorry dude Im here to answer questions about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Then he hung up. You just gotta laugh at how dumb people are sometimes. 

Especially cus I fall into that category a lot. I had to get up to use the bathroom at like 4 AM this morning, so I went out, did my buisness, and when I went to go in my room the door was locked! The door is never locked! I was like what do I do? I didnt wanna wake up my comps but I had to. So I knocked quietly but trying not to be loud if that makes sense, and finally after like 5 minutes I decided to say a prayer and sure enough he opened the door all confused haha. I was about to sleep on the ground outside my door if he hadn't opened it right then. Well that's prettymuch whats going on in my life, how are things back at home? Is it still hot, its starting to get cold here. That's okay tho cus im in church clothes all day. Can't wait to here from you guys! LOVE YOU!
Su hijo, hermano, y amigo,
Elder Given

September 4, 2009

Hola Familia,

How is everyone? I gave a talk in church yesterday in Spanish. I was super nervous but people told me I did good. It's funny everyone tells me I'm doing really good at Spanish but I dont believe them. I have so much room for improvment, all I can do is work my butt off and let the Lord help me with the rest. We started this thing where we only speak Spanish now when we have our tags on, so basicly all day. It's pretty crazy but I like the challenge. It's really gonna make us a lot better at spanish. Love the shoes. Had a dunk in them the first game I wore them in. Packages are always good. Did you say your sending more pictures this week?    

I heard about you guys going to the beach with the Hickens. Leah wrote me last week. She said something about Dad and Scott doing headstands? haha So cool that the twins can surf. Not surprised tho, they are related to me :) Thanks for Dylans address mom but I already had it, I'm waiting for him to write me. I should hopefully get a letter this week. Heard any other news about him tho? Thats cool that your reading Jesus the Christ mom, I havn't been reading it as much any more cus it puts me to sleep sometimes cus I'm always tired during personal study. It's good when I do read it tho.    

Sounds like Cassidy is doing really good in volleyball. I'm not surprised that she is 6 foot! Keep me updated on how your team does, and Varsity. Thanks for the stamps. I got kinda a lot now cus Elder Taylor left me like 20. I definently didn't need the envelopes cus I got some out of the free box a couple weeks ago but thanks anyway. And don't send anymore gum cus its against the rules and I'm trying to be obedient.   

So the most consistant person at writing me is Tawny. I get a letter from her every week. JT is usually every week two. Gramm wrote me this super long Dear Elder the other day. It was kinda funny tho.  Chase and Zac wrote me once so far and so did Leah. Hopefully that letter from Dylan comes pretty soon. Tiffani wrote me a couple weeks ago but I havn't heard back from her yet. Got a great package from Aunt Kathleen and Aunt Mary. Awesome cookies!!! Gracias for ordering my bike. I'll make sure and be extra careful when Im there and always lock it up.    

I was playing ball on Saturday and I went to dunk it super hard and hit my finger on the rim. I broke part of the fingernail and was bleeding all over the place. So I went over to the trainers office and got it all fixed and kept playing. Being in the training room was kinda funny. Brought back some memories for sure. So I had a pretty good week in bball. Last Tuesday I had a lefty tip jam which I was pretty stoked on. Then the next day I was playing with Elder Hardward (gonna play at BYU) and I went up for a tip jam, kinda through him, and dunked it hard. So basicly I dunked on him, it wasn't straight on him but I still count it cus he's 6'10", I told him we're gonna be on the same team in 2 years anyway so its cool haha.    

Oh yea I got a letter from Japan. Enjoyed it a lot!! Sent my pics home today. Make sure you back them up on both external harddrives please. Theres like 230 pics I think so enjoy. Im only up to 183 lbs. I cant gain any more weight and Im so over the food. Its all good tho.    

Richard G. Hinckley spoke to us last week. Way cool, sounded like his dad. My best friends here in the MTC leave tomorrow morning. Its gonna be sad but Im way stoked for them. We'll be the oldest district now. Crazy how time flies. Almost 6 weeks! I've really started to miss you guys a lot lately, mostly the kids. I know im supposed to be here tho so I'm not worrying too much about it. Love you guys a lot tho.    

Taught the whole first lesson in Spanish a couple days ago. Went really well, surprisingly isn't that hard. Just need to be able to relate it better in spanish like I can in English now.    

So whats the deal with Los Al bball? Oh yea ask the Risenmays if they know Elder Orme. He said he knew them. Hes new in our zone, seems like a nice, kinda awkward guy.    Alright well I'm basicly out of time. Love you all a lot. Can't wait to here back. BTW its raining super hard here right now. 

Love it. Adios, Elder Given


Saturday, September 5, 2009

A visit from Richard G. Scott!!

This was a very interesting week, Elder Taylor, my comp went home. He was having really bad anxiety I guess and it was just a bunch of stuff adding up. He was only getting like 3 hours of sleep a night and whatnot. I knew he was having problems but I didnt think it was that bad. On Wednesday tho he talked to some high up people here for like 2 and a half hours, while I sat and did nothing. Then that night his dad came and talked to him cus he lives like 10 minutes away. That was one of the biggest problems for him, he was too close to home. So then he talked to some kind of doctor saturday morning and he told him that he needed to go home, basicly as a medical reason to get his head fixed. So he left Thursday and 2 pm. He hopes to be able to come back in about 6 months and hopefully end up in McAllen. I really really hope I see him there in a few months.

Im doing pretty good tho. He asked me, Elder Hansen, Elder Burningham, and Elder Cockrell to give him a blessing before he left. All 3 of them are in the older group and leave in 3 weeks but they are like my best friends. So I gave the blessing and the spirit was so strong it was crazy. Elder Hansen said the blessing was really good. I think Elder Taylor will be back. So now Im in a tripod, or threesome, whatever its called with Elder Navarro and Elder Rudd. They work super hard so its gonna be good for me. I like them a lot and we teach pretty well together so far. Speaking of teaching I can basicly teach the first 4 principles of lesson 1 in Spanish so thats legit. Gift of Tongues is a crazy amazing blessing, especially when you get it from an Apostle of the Lord. Yea, we had an apostle speak to us. So sick. So we are sitting in our Tuesday night devotional, like 5th row cus we know shortcuts haha, anyway we're all noticing all this stupid stuff like how it isnt showing who the speaker is on the slideshow, theres an extra security guard by the door, a lot more old people were there, so we're hyping it up sooooo much, kinda expecting it to be a letdown like a 70 or something hahahah. So Richard G Scott walks it. It was so crazy. I just got the chills as I was typing that. The spirit was so strong. In the middle of his talk he asked, how many of you are learning languages, so like half the place raised their hand, then he said: okay well as a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, I give you the gift of tongues. WHAT! It was so cool. Like I felt it hit me. Like a flipping wave. So crazy. I can't even describe it. So needless to say Spanish is going a lot better now.

Another amazing experience I had this week was seeing one of my best friends gain a testimony for the first time. I think I told you about Elder Yergensen last week, anyway he never really had a testimony and he was just here hoping to get one. He was really close to leaving but I kinda helped him stay and told him to start reading the Book of Mormon and whatnot and praying. So hes in his TRC lesson on Thursday night which is like a "real" investigator, and he starts sharing his testimony of family and it totally just hits him. Like this kid is a huge football player who never crys, and he just started balling. After we both finished our lesson he was still all teary eyed and I didnt know what happened yet so he was like, Elder Given come here, and he told me everything that happened, and how he knows the church is true and stuff. It was so cool. Im so proud of him, I love that kid, or Elder haha.

Alright so on a random note, I figured out that I've legitly dunked on 5 people here. Im gonna try and take pictures with a bunch of them hahah. Oh yea and im up to 182, hopefully I can keep increasing, Ive started to slow down, but Elder Taylor did leave me and ton of food so thats good. So I was telling you bout Elder Hansen earlier. He basicly is my best friend here. He is so awesome, hes form Wyoming and is going to Philly spanish speaking. Anyway his companion is a wack job crazy guy who never talks and is just a weirdo. He has endured him pretty well but he flipped out the other day and just like ran out of class and had to be alone cus his comp is a physco. So anyway I talked to him that night and Im gald we can just help each other out when we need to talk. We got a new district this week. The majority of them are way cool kids. They actually hang out with us and stuff, I like them so far.

I said the opening prayer in Sacrament meeting yesterday, in Spanish. I thought it was pretty good but when I got done President Watkins got up and said how good it was and made an example for the younger districts of how if you work hard the Spanish will come. I was stoked.

Oh yea and thanks for telling me about Forever stamps mom. I should have saved those. I didnt understand how they all work until I used my last one and someone told me. I got some more regualr 44 ones tho now. So the whole Coach May thing is no surprise at all. Eddie coming back blew my mind tho! So Russell is still gonna teach another year? So does that mean Eddie is taking Ms. Mais job for this year and then Mays job next year? I was tryin to figure out who would stay if Eddie wouldnt had come. James still might transfer now, prob not tho since Coach May is staying at Los Al and can sign him at some Pac-10 school. Eddie walked in on such a legit job. Tyler you got some good teachers. Work hard in bball and in school. What teachers did you get Cassidy?

So time is totally flying by. This week went some fast. Im lovin it. Could you get my Kyle Poes address in Utah. I wanna write him. Thanks for the package that's coming. I think I told you everything I need. Tyler could you get some sweet Facebook pics for me and print them out off my profile por favor. Crazy that Dylans gone. Next letter I get from him will be straight outtaa Africa. Dad, Im gald you're having great classes so far, and I had already written Tawny before you even told me to haha. And guess what, I've been writing in my journal every night. Oh yea and I had to get a flu shot. They said it was "optional" but I figured Id get it anyway. I paid for it with my card. And Listerine sucks. Elder Taylor gave me his crest mouthwash tho so that will work while im here. Our district went from 11 people a week ago, to 7 today. We lost the 3 hermanas to Guatemala and Elder Taylor. It seems so small in class now. Im reading Jesus the Christ. Its gnarly. Okay totally out of time! BYE!
Elder Given
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hola Familia,
So I said goodbye to Ryan yesterday. He left thismorning at like 3 or something. He had to fly back to LAX tho before going to Chile so I thought that was funny. I guess he was gonna call his parents from LAX haha. HIm me and Sandy took some pics last night so you can put them up at church or whatever when you get them. I got a nice package from Grammy. Still havnt finished all the food yet.THANKS GRAMMY MADDY!!! Could you please send me my Los AL bball sweatshirt. Its pretty cold in the mornings sometimes when we have to do our service or whatever and its only gonna get colder. I want snow tho! It might happen. Still want you to send some pics if you can. Mom, sorry you didnt get the job, im really surprised, do you know who got it? Way to go Cassidy! I knew youd make it. And way to pass up mom in height! Maybe if you grow fast youll pass up Tyler too haha. Speaking of Tyler, you need to stop being lazy. Play some bball. Work out with Auddy. Also I want you to do that crazy 15 minute ab workout and write down all the exercises and send it to me por favor. Im getting buff haha. Im doing a bunch of push up and pull ups. Oh yea and hows it goin with that chica Tyler? Cassidy you better hook him up! We had the Ohker Mountain Temple Dedication yesterday. It was pretty sweet. Spirit was super strong. Dad... Thats cool about the Institute. Scooters a funny kid. Doesnt he put his papers in soon? I BROKE 180 lbs! Im stoked on that. I just need to keep it on. Ok so Idk if I told you bout this Elder here but hes one of the best athletes I have ever played against. His name is Elder Hine. He's from St. George but he can high jump 7'2". He commited to BYU for football his sophmore year of HS. Then the other day he does this crazy backflip 360. He just ran, jumped off one foot, did a gainer, with a 360 and landed and kept running. So insane. I have been learning a ton of spanish on my own. I have been studying really hard and have made a couple hundred flashcards and know prettymuch all of them. And I've been memorizing a bunch of stuff such as the 1st vision in English and I just did it in Spanish yesterday. Definently couldnt be doing this without the Lord. Straight up. Say Hi to Kyle Poe for me. Crazy I'm not gonna see him for 4 years. Could you tell Tiffani to write me so I can have her new address por favor. This week flew buy. Its crazy. Time is so irrelavant here. I dont even get it. I'm not gonna lie I get pretty exhausted tho. It's sometimes very difficult to stay awake during class, especially when we are talking bout planning for the 5th time. My companion has been having kinda a tough time. At the beggining of the week he was sick and wasnt getting much sleep(ive been sleeping great) and he was just feeling terrible. So he met with the Branch Pres and basicly said he wants to go home. After they talked for like 30 minutes Pres Watkins came and got me out of class and told me that Elder Taylor wanted me to give him a blessing. I was super nervous but the blessing went great. The spirit was really strong. I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it. He's doing better now but hes still not sleeping well. I think he's gonna be okay tho. In case you didnt know mail takes FOREVERRRRRRRRRRRR. Thats the one of the few things I hate about being here. Prettymuch everything else is great tho. I'm glad Im here, learning a ton. Spanish hasn't been too hard yet. I'm just waiting for the tought times to come. So far so good tho. So hows home? Getting ready for school? HAHAHA. Say hi to everybody for me. Cant wait to here back. I'm out of time so I guess this letter is over.
Elder Given

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hola Familia,
Hows everything going? Its still great here. Thanks for all the letters. I wrote a bunch back in the mail on Saturday so you should get it today or tomorrow. Mail seriously takes forever though, It's annoying. I still havn't gotten any letters from my friends so I'm hoping that changes when the mail comes today. Thanks for the package. I'm wearing my close right now and the food is great. So did Cassidy make the Vball team? I'm guessing she did. How did Dylans Farewell go? Is Kyle back yet? One of the sister missionaries in my district was really good friends with Mike Jenson so thats funny. You guys should send me some pics of myself and mi amigos for my room. I'd appreciate that. I'm getting pretty good at spanish. I hate it tho haha. I can pray pretty legitly so that's cool. My companion had a little homesick overwhelming issue thing on Wednesday so he talked to a counciler in the Branch Presidency and we ended up giving him a blessing. Hes doing great now. My branch President is so tight. He retired when he was 32 and lives in some super nice area of Utah I forgot what its called. He's just a great guy. So the new district in our zone showed up on Wednesday and they have 2 kids taller than me! One of them isn't very athletic but he says he plays volleyball. The other is 6'10" and is gonna be on scholarship at BYU when he gets back. I really like the kid but honestly I think im better than him. I think we're gonna end up being good friends tho so whatev. I have aclamated to the altitude now so I'm having way more fun at bball. Ive been draining three's and I straight up dunked over this kid, it was pretty funny. OH YEA BEST PART SO FAR, IVE GAINED 8.4 lbs as of saturday!!! Im gonna weigh myself at gym tomorrow and I hope to be over 180. I just eat a ton and sit around all day. Ryans been telling me to do that for years haha. So there is some kind of time manipulator here at the MTC. We do so much work and studying its not even funny, and the days seem long but go by fast. And then when you look back at the week it flew by. I dont get it haha. Me and a bunch of my friends decided that a bunch of us are going to stay at our house for a while when we get back. Thought Id just give you time to prepare :) One of the fun/stupid things we do here when we have time to think is translate phrases into spanish that dont make sense at all. Like the most common thing we say is "está frio" which translated means its cold, but we pretend it means its chill haha. We're so lame but whatever. I have been following the rules like errybody told me to. It would be so easy to be lazy and take super long naps and sleep in or stay up late, but Ive been doing everything Im supposed to just cus I was told so many times to follow the rules. One of my really good friends in my district is this kid Elder Yergeson. He's the one that kinda looks like Clark but his attitude is kinda similar to Clay Blackledege. He picks bad times to say things in class and people got mad at him but Ive been kinda mentoring him and trying to tell him how to act. Hes a good kid I just kinda question his standards. Im gonna change him tho. Ryan leaves in 6 days. Crazy. Oh yea IDK what dads email is. I guessed on it last week and idk if I got it right so could you send me peoples emails (On dearelder) Anyway so how are things back home? Tyler you better be working out. I am. I do a ton of push ups erry night and now I can even do pull ups haha. It rained here last week. I really hope it snows some time before I leave, that would be sick. We had this guy speak last night who like helped right Preach My Gospel and the talk basicly blew my mind. It made how I need to teach understandable. I am going to re read it and try to fully comprehend it cus it was crazy. I took 2 pages of notes. I actually got homesick for like 10 minutes the other day. Im fine tho. Honestly I just need some letters from my friends. Its really weird not talking to anyone. I love the family letters tho. Lauren and Sydney should draw me some more pictures :) Alright well I gotta go. Can't wait to here back from you guys.
Elder Given

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Hola Familia,
The MTC is great. Supposedly the first 4 days were supposed to be the worst days of our life but I really thought they weren't that bad. I'm not gonna lie they were really long but we learned a ton so I tried to just stay focused. My companion is way cool. His name is Elder Kyle Taylor and hes from Lehi. He just got his call 2 weeks ago and he isn't even 19 yet! We are getting along way good and both have a great attitude on the experience in general. My district is way cool. There are 8 Elders and 3 Sisters. 7 out of the 8 elders are going to McAllen and one is going to Calgary Canada Spanish speaking. The hermanas are going to Panama City. There are some really cool people on my floor. One of my new best friends is this guy from Wyoming. Hes like 6'4" 230. Basicly just a big lovable funny guy. And hes actually pretty athletic. I dunked on him tho haha. Im kinda dominating gym time. There are a couple good players including this one guy from St. George so its pretty fun. We both throw down a lot. Dont worry Dad we're aloud to dunk in games if theres defense. I decided I'm gonna gain 20 lbs while I'm here haahah. Im eatintg a ton and have at least 2 glasses of chocolate milk at every meal. Guess what! I ate spagehti with sauce at dinner last night! And I ate some other things that looked disgusting so you should be proud. Thanks for the cinammon rolls mom! I just finished them last night. They were way good.  We basicly have classes all day and have no time to do anything we want but its good I guess. I've been working really hard at Spanish and I can decently pray and testify. The teachers are amazing. They really want us to learn a lot and just be successful. We had a lesson planning workshop and I learned a legit way to plan lessons now so I got that down I think. Ive been writing in my journal so thats good. I've been sleeping pretty good. It takes me a little to fall asleep but once im out im out till 615.  My bed is fine, pillow is kinda weak sauce but it gets the job done. If you didnt figure it out my Pday is monday. We dont really have any time to write letters during the week except Sundadys and Mondays. You can give me letters whenever you want tho. I only get 30 minutes on the email. It straight up shuts off if youre on too long. I have 12:45 left haha. I've seen Sandy basicly every day. She came up to my companion and I and gave us a little mini lesson on Heavenly Fathers love (Lesson 1 Section 1) Shes gonna be a real good missionary. I didnt get to talk to Ryan until yesterday but it was real good seeing him. Hes doing great. Hes already been here for 7 weeks! I forgot how funny that kid is. I can print some pics here so I think I might do that today and send you a couple. Oh yea theres this Elder in my district who played 2 years of Football at Utah State and is just rediculously ripped. His face totally looks like Clarks so it makes me laugh. Last night we had an AMAZING fireside talk on Charity. I took over a page of notes. Kinda rediculous how good it was. I take like 2-3 pages of notes evreryday. After the fireside we watched this sweet Joseph Smith movie. The spirit was super strong. 
I'm really having a good time here. I guess time is supposed to start flying now so youll be hearing from me again in no time. You should write me back via Dear Elder or in real mail cus I cant check Email until next week. Alright well I love all of you. Mom, Dad, Tyler, Cassidy, Hagen, Kallie, Lauren, and Sydney.
Elder Given