I have been reassigned to the California Long Beach Mission!!!
FAMILIA!!!! (I know that was supposed to have an accent, but you can’t change the language on the computers I’m using)
I do NOT have my reassignment yet. We were hoping to get them yesterday, and if we get them today I will get back on the email and tell you where I am going. There are four districts in the MTC that are going to Brazil this week (that I know of), and no one has their reassignments left, so we don’t feel too bad. However, one of our Zone Leaders got his visa and Sister Green in our district got her visa. She is excited, but nervous! She was also really surprised, because when she got her mission call she had a really strong feeling that she needed to serve stateside. She is leaving Monday for Brazil and her companion, Sister Larson, is leaving Monday to have surgery.
I saw Elder Rogers, Elder Larson, and SISTER HANSEN!!! I was so excited to see everyone. I wanted to get a picture with Sister Hansen, but she was still getting oriented for the MTC and I was hosting another missionary (which means I welcome them and help them get everything they need for the MTC, show them their residence and classroom, etc). I’ve seen Elder Rogers a bunch, but I hope I see Sister Hansen and Elder Larson again before I leave. Sister Larson is going to be incredible in Finland. Maybe Elder Larson will run in to Aunt Cheryl in Reno!
Yesterday we had “in-field orientation” all day, which was really, really good. One of the teachers for it served in Taiwan the same years as Lacey, but I don’t remember his name (sorry!). Another one of the teachers was a missionary from “The District”, so it was really cool to see his perspective on what every missionary had watched him do. At in-field orientation, we pretty much just applied all of the things we have learned here. It was a lot of fun.
On Sunday, our devotional speaker was Vai Sikahema. He played for BYU and got the last touch down for BYU in a miracle. He also played for the Green Bay Packers, the Cardinals, and Eagles. For the past 20 years he has been a sports anchor for NBC in Philadelphia and has covered the Olympic games for that time. He talked a lot about how easy it is to share the gospel and why it is essential for everyone to have in their lives. It was fantastic.
I love my district SO MUCH. I’m going to miss them, so I hope at least some of us get reassigned to the same missions. I’m kind of guessing I’ll get somewhere like Pocatello, ID.
Grandpa’s story of recovery (and not needing surgery) is really neat testament of the power of priesthood blessings. We’ve already given a handful of blessings and those blessings have really helped to build my testimony of the power of the priesthood (and that God speaks to us!).
Dad- Elder Palmer’s Dad (who works at the Post Office) is your same age and majored in Economics at BYU. I wonder if you knew each other in college. I guess he started working at the Post Office a few years ago but worked in Economics for the rest of his career (I think for an Insurance company). Also, that is a LOT of driving. You probably don’t want to get in a car for a while now. Especially since that is a lot of driving on your own.
Mom- Yes, I write in my journal everyday now. I love writing in my journal. It helps me get to know myself better and gives me time during the day that I can have for myself. I’m really grateful for journals now, even though I’ve already written more in my journal here than the rest of my life combined. Also, my testimony of prayer has grown so much here at the MTC. I love praying. It helps me grow so much. Also, yes, I saw the new video. I loved it. It really brings a new aspect of realism and emotion that I didn’t even realize was missing before.
Lacey- You’re in Arizona! Michael has started school! Life is so exciting! It must be nice to be close to Spencer and Liz… I feel like we’ve always lived a long way away from them so it must be nice to have them right there. And I’m glad Michael is loving school.
Kimmie- So, I’ll just say I’m a sinner. I STILL haven’t sent your letter. So I’ll really try to get it sent today or tomorrow…. if I don’t get it sent then, I’ll send it from where I am next. I loved going to the Provo temple. I was here for six weeks, but because of construction at the temple we were only able to go once. I hope I will have lots of opportunities to go in the next two years, but our mission boundaries just got a lot smaller, and the temple is definitely out of our mission.
Isaac- Studying portuguese for hours a day definitely helps. Plus we have countless resources here to help us learn and we will soon be forced to speak it pretty much all the time. That’s so exciting that you got a house! You need to send pictures after you get everything moved it. That will be so nice to not have people all around you.
Ryan- It sounds like you had a great opportunity to spend time with Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz. I’m a little jealous! Also, I will definitely be looking for opportunities to study portuguese wherever I can. Thankfully I’ll still have an hour of language study wherever I am, so that will help a lot. Also, hopefully my companion will be willing to help me even though they don’t know portuguese.
Tyler- I love that Mission Prep class. Literally, nothing at home helped prepare me more in the months before my mission than that class and nothing comes closer to how the MTC is than that class. I’m SO excited to find out where you are going.
Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz- Happy Birthday, Grandma!!! I am so glad that Grandpa is doing better. It sounds like you two have had a tough couple of weeks, with Grandpa in the hospital, and Arvy passing away. I’ve been praying for you everyday. I’m so grateful that we could go over to your house every month or so before I left. Hopefully when I get back (or soon afterward), we’ll be able to see you everyday. The landscaping at the MTC is really colorful, and there is one tree that smells like cotton candy, and everyone has to smell the tree before they leave.
Grandma Mooney- Our family is always growing! It’s good to hear about everything that’s happening in our family. We have had a couple of big storms here in Utah. It’s funny to think we were in the same storm! I love you!!!
I should be able to send a short email saying where I am being reassigned to later today. If not, I guess you will find out next week!
Another week is gone! I honestly cannot believe how quickly the weeks go by here. I only have one P-Day left at the MTC and we receive our reassignments (since we don’t have our visas yet) next Thursday. I’m going to miss everyone in my district and my teachers so much.
I’m so sad that not everyone had an opportunity to email or send a letter this week, especially since it sounds like there is so much going on!!! I understand everyone is probably busy, though. I’m praying for Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz. I really hope Grandpa makes a full recovery.
Mom- I’m glad you and Ryan were able to go over to Stanwood and help them for a little while. How long are you going to be there?
Kimmie- Do you know Lon B. Nally? He was the Mission President for the Australia Perth mission, but I’m not sure when. He is the President of the MTC right now. Also, I promise I have responded to your letter. I just need to get it in the mail!
Lacey- You are moving to Arizona. How exciting! Have you found a place to live yet? You are probably so excited to see Michael.
On Thursday, Richard G. Scott (of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles) spoke at our devotional. It was such an incredible devotional. They broadcast that devotional live to all of the MTCs in the world, which meant some people were watching it really late at night, like those in the South Africa MTC. So now I can say I sang in a choir of 900 people in a worldwide broadcast with an apostle. Richard G. Scott talked about how essential prayer is in our lives. He talked about the three general types of answers to prayer, which are: peace comfort, and confidence (which assure your answer is right), a “stupor of thought”, which means no, and no response, which he says is the most important. He said that when an answer is withheld, it means that God trusts us and that we should thank God in these situations for the opportunity for our trust in him to grow. He also said that answers to our prayer seldom come when we are on our knees praying, but at later times when God knows it will help us grow the most.
Yesterday, Elder Stevens and I taught one of our investigators, Vera. We’ve taught her six or seven times already, but yesterday was different. We had already taught her the first three lessons and talked to her about why she needed to get married to her “husband”, Paulo, and she really had seemed to be growing and learning. She loved our visits and we committed her to be baptized at the end of our first meeting with her. However, we got caught a little off guard and didn’t have much time to plan our lesson, so we went in a little less prepared then we normally were. That meant we had to rely on the spirit and really listen to Vera’s needs (which we should have been doing before, DUH). As we read some verses from Alma 40 with her that she was having trouble understanding, we realized that because we weren’t really paying close enough attention to her needs in previous lessons, she was struggling. So we retaught the atonement and at the end of our lesson she was happier than I had ever seen her before. It is incredible to watch as someone begins to understand why they need the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their life. I just wish we could have focused more on her before and less on trying to speak perfect Portuguese. It was also our first lesson going in without any materials other than our scriptures. I don’t think I ever want to bring anything else into a lesson again if they are going to distract me from what matters most.
I don’t really think I have any other news this week. We get to go to the temple today (Hallelujah). It has been closed for the past five weeks, but we should be able to go again next Friday as well. This Sunday, I’m accompanying my companion Elder Stevens and Sister Larson in sacrament meeting. They are singing a duet of “I Know that My Redeemer Lives”. I’m so grateful I’ve had so many opportunities to play the piano so far. I thjnk Elder Tagg might play violin later today, too, if we have time, so I’ll probably play with him.
I love everyone! And I’m praying for everyone. I feel like my family is spread all over the United States right now, with Mom In Stanwood, Ryan leaving for California, Tyler in Spokane, Grandma Mooney in Utah, Dad in Arizona with Lacey, and of course Isaac in North Carolina. At least Kimmie is only fifteen minutes away.
Please send me mail! Or email! Or Dear Elders! I’m dying to hear from everyone.
This is Lacey Allen (Elder Kyle Madsen’s sister) asking in behalf of Elder Kyle and his fellow missionaries for all of your prayers.
Word is in that the San Fransisco Brazilian Embassy is overwhelmed with visas coming in from the church missionary department at the moment. Until the embassy’s visa office is able to deal with the demands, they have basically stopped processing any visa requested by the church. We have heard that 3 local San Fran mothers requested their missionary’s paperwork back and personally took it to the San Fran office. Their paperwork and visa was processed this past Friday. We have just contacted Church headquarters and requested Kyle’s paperwork back so we can personally process it. The hope is, since it will now be a personal visa submission instead of a part of a huge group submission, that it will be processed quickly and the visa received.
WE ARE REQUESTING YOUR PRAYERS that this process will go smoothly, that Kyle will be able to receive his visa and be able to leave for Brazil.
If you have a missionary waiting for a visa from the San Fransisco office or know someone who is:
• Parents are able to contact Church headquarters and request the paperwork back in order to process it themselves. Please be polite about this. It’s not the churches fault or anyone else. It is simply the situation. The church is also working to clear up the matter. They will have the most updated information concerning the issue. UPDATE as of 8/14: Because so many people have contacted the missionary department, they placed this notice on the website today: “Brazil is currently experiencing some visa delays. Please do not call the Travel Office. You will be contacted if necessary.”
• If the family requests the return of the missionary’s paperwork, they will personally be responsible for any fees with processing the paperwork for the visa.
• The police notarization, which is required by Brazil for the visa, expires after 60 days. Most likely you will need to request a new one in order to reprocess your missionary’s paperwork.
• There are parents who are personally flying to San Fransisco to submit their children’s paperwork. Church headquarters requests that parents don’t do this. Overnight mail should be just fine for a personal request.
• Missionaries in the MTC will most likely be stateside for a short time. Please encourage them to look at this positively. This will be a wonderful time for them to focus on their teaching and missionary skills without the difficulty of a foreign language. Once they arrive in Brazil, the skills they have developed in the USA will translate over beautifully to Portuguese and they will be even more effective missionaries.
I finally got a chance to send pictures, but our emails only allow us to send 15 MB of pictures, which for me is three pictures… so that is all you’re going to get for this week! All three pictures are of our district, the first picture includes our teachers, Irmao James and Irma Dangerfield, who are on the left and right side of the picture, respectively.
The members of our district (District 54E), are, from left to right: Elder Kennedy and Elder Tagg, Elder Blake and Elder Palmer, Elder Stevens and Elder Ence, Elder Madsen (me!) and Elder Huch, Sister Phillips and Sister Thompson, and Sister Larson and Sister Green.
Elder Kennedy is from Portland but he lived for most of his life in Sandpoint, ID. He is an amazing beatboxer. He wants to try out for Vocal Point when he gets back from his mission.
Elder Tagg is from Maryland. His Dad is an army doctor, one of only three of that type of doctor in the Army. He lived in Korea for a few years. Elder Tagg is hilarious. He is amazing at the violin, so we have played together a few times on P-days.
Elder Blake is from Blanding, Utah, a town of 8,000 people, and he is definitely from small-town Utah. He just graduated. He plays football and slow-pitch softball and lives on about 2,000 acres.
Elder Palmer is from Spokane…. North Stake! And somehow we didn’t really know each other. I know his older brother from Single’s Ward. He went to Mead, ran cross country, and has done a paper route since he was thirteen, so he has enjoyed sleeping in until 6:30.
Elder Stevens is from Suwanee, Georgia. He just graduated. He likes to sing, play basketball, and he played football his Freshman year of high school. Even though he grew up in Mississippi and Georgia, he escaped without an accent. His family has two sets of twins in family! He has a twin sister.
Elder Ence is from Fairview, Utah. He has seven siblings. Every single kid in his family has the exact same shade of white-blonde hair, but neither of his parents have blonde hair…. which I don’t really understand. He received his visa and is in Brazil now.
Elder Madsen is me. Hopefully you already know about me.
Elder Huch is from Chicago, Illinois. He ran track for BYU and as I said before, he is crazy fast. He also plays the piano. He was my companion for the first three weeks here, but he also got his visa.
Sister Phillips is from Tri-Cities, WA (Kennewick, technically). She says Tri-cities is better than Spokane, but someday she will admit the truth that Spokane is far superior. She did dance in high school.
Sister Thompson is from Bellingham, I think. Or Bellevue… I think Bellingham. Anyway, she is awesome. Sister Thompson has been super sick ever since she got here. She has strep throat, pneumonia, a sinus infection…. needless to say she has been taking a LOT of medicine and had to spend all of yesterday in bed.
Sister Larson is from Chico, CA. She is a great singer and loves animals. Last week she dislocated her shoulder. When she went to the doctor she found out that not only does she need shoulder surgery, she is mostly deaf and will need to get hearing aids. She will return home after her stay at the MTC to recover from surgery, but will go straight to Brazil after she recovers. She will be on medical leave, so her time home won’t count as part of her 18 months. She was shocked when she found out she would have to return home, but she has been very optimistic and isn’t giving up on her mision!
Sister Green is from Boulder, CO. She is only 4’10”! She did gymnastics in high school. Sister Green is always so happy and energetic.
I love everyone in our district. I’m sorry if that was really long and boring, but I love all of these people like famly. They are so great!
Mom- Our branch is getting smaller now… they just turned two Spanish branches into portuguese branches, so we won’t be getting anyone new in ours for a while. Our exercise time everyday except today is usually in the afternoon or evening. We have exercise time everyday except for Sunday. I’m kind of jealous that you are going to Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz’s. Is Grandma Mooney going with you? How do you know where you are moving Lacey’s things if they haven’t found a place to live yet? I’m praying for them to find housing.
Dad- I think I just got shin splints from running. Brother Schupp probably felt terrible! That doesn’t exactly sound like “touch” football. Did you use Google Translate a lot for your call or could you understand most of the French in the conference call?
Lacey- The shed is officially done? That’s exciting. Has it been painted yet? That tool belt was a little big for me… it was probably just sitting on the ground for Adelaide. I can’t believe I’m not going to see her until she is three years old! I guess she’s getting a head start on nursery if she’s already going to primary! I’m praying for you and Michael. I hope you can find a place to live!
Tyler- I can’t believe Sister Robinson just got a new companion… it’s been like two months! Speaking of living close to the MTC, Elder Palmer can see his cousin’s house from the MTC. They sent him cookies that were still warm when he got them. I’m so excited you are done with your papers! Hopefully you get your call before I’m done at the MTC.
Grandma Mooney- Is Spencer James going to be Spencer Jr, then?
It sounds like my niece and nephew are growing up without me! Thank you for all your words of wisdom. I love you!!!
I love the MTC. I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve the Lord for two years as a full-time missionary. It isn’t easy, but it is so worth it. I love all of you!
So… I have good news and I have bad news…
The good news is that two Elders in our district, Elder Ence and Elder Huch, got their visas. WOOT! They leave Tuesday morning at 6:15 for the Sao Paulo MTC. I am so excited for them. Elder Huch is my companion, but since there are two Elders leaving, my new companion will most likely be Elder Stevens, Elder Ence’s current companion. I am sad that I’m losing my companion, but he is going to do so great in Brazil. He is already learning Portuguese remarkably fast. He is probably the best in our class at Portuguese. Everyone else in our district got their calls at the beginning of February, so both of the Elders that are leaving had their visa stuff in by the end of February. I didn’t have my visa stuff sent in until like halfway through April, so I would be super surprised if I got my visa before I left the MTC.
The bad news is that I can’t send pictures this week. I have to buy an SD/USB converter from the bookstore here so I can put my pictures on the computer. So you’ll have to wait another week before you can put faces to all these names I’ve been spewing at you. I’ll wait until I send pictures to tell you about everyone in my district, but I can at least tell you that I love all of them. Everyone is very different, and there is no companionship where both people are even remotely the same. Regardless of our differences, we are becoming best friends, which is good, since we spend 16+ hours a day with each other.
Thank you so much for the pictures you sent. I appreciate them so much! Thanks for the package too. I’m definitely putting it all to good use. I shared the food with our district last night, so it’s already about half gone. I understand that it’s not really practical to send my quilt. It’s honestly probably better that you aren’t sending it.
I am so excited that Tyler is submitting his papers! Tyler, I know that no matter where you go, it is going to be a huge blessing. I’ll admit that sometimes I almost wish I was going somewhere English speaking. I feel like I could be a much more effective teacher. However, learning a language forces me to stretch and grow and be uncomfortable. It’s hard for me to not be able to say exactly what I want to say to the people we teach, but that forces me to learn even more Portuguese. It seems strange that in two short years, I will be fluent in Portuguese (hopefully a LITTLE earlier than that). But I know that I will be. And I definitely will only be fluent if I work my butt off and rely on the Lord to fill in the rest.
Lacey! I actually realized this week how useful another language (besides the one I’m learning) can be on a mission. The missionaries downstairs in our building are learning French, but one of the missionaries down their is from Belgium and is learning English. He was getting really frustrated because he felt like the only people he could talk to in French were his teachers, since his district had only arrived two days before and new very little French. I talked to him for probably fifteen minutes completely in French, and he was so happy to just speak to someone freely for the first time in a week. I was surprised I could actually understand everything he said, but even more I was surprised that I could respond and talk to him. That experience definitely showed me that my talents and abilities were meant to be tools for me wherever I am, and God knows that.
Also, Adelaide’s picture is so awesome! I’m definitely saving that for my whole mission. I’m also beyond grateful for the music from Michael. An Elder in my district, Elder Tagg, is a fantastic violin player and one of our (new!) zone leaders play the cello, so later today we are going to find a room to just play for a while. The music from Michael will be a huge blessing for my entire mission.
Dad- That Stake meeting reminds me of when Lizzy Keenan spoke at a stake priesthood meeting. I still remember that talk, which I think was at least two years ago or more.
The investigator that I told you about last week, Pedro, turned out to be our second teacher, Irmao James (excuse the lack of accents on my portuguese words. I don’t have time to change the language on the computer and I forgot all of the keyboard shortcuts anyway). He is a fantastic teacher, as is our original teacher, Irma Dangerfield. They each teach two districts, and switch off teaching us. Our district is convinced that our teachers have a thing for each other. The challenge is getting Irmao James and Irma Dangerfield to realize that. We’re still working on that.
We started teaching two new investigators last week, Paulo and Vera. Vera is 55, born Catholic but doesn’t go to church, is non-legally wedded (just like everyone else in Brazil), and has a daughter from a previous marriage that she rarely sees. She is also a heavy smoker. She has been very depressed because she lost her job and she feels like her life is at a dead-end, so we are teaching her about how the gospel, and especially our first covenant, baptism, can bring eternal happiness. Our second investigator, Paulo, is 28, lives with his brother’s family, and is unemployed. He has tons of energy and stutters a lot, so it has been really challenging to understand everything he says. His brother’s family recently joined the church, and he says that the church is the best thing that ever happened to his brother, so he’s off to a great start. He is really curious about everything we believe and loves learning everything he can about the church. It was his birthday yesterday, so we learned happy birthday in Portuguese and sang to him. He loved it and it instantly made him feel like we cared about him. Later in that lesson, he told us we were his only friends.
I can’t really remember what else happened this week. The days all blur together. I have really bad shin splints (where your muscle separates from the bone) from over-working my legs, and playing sand volleyball definitely hasn’t been helping. I should be fine though. As long as they get better before I have to walk around in Brazil all day, I will be great.
The longer I’m here, the more I know that the power of God is real. It’s amazing to be surrounded by so much good everyday.
I love you! Tchau!