Brazil, Here I Come!

The Madsen family got a surprise phone call today. Elder Madsen called home to report his visa arrived! We were all a little surprised. He was anticipating being reassigned permanently to the California-Longbeach Mission. But, as we all are continually taught, the Lord’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. Elder Kyle Madsen will be leaving June 17th for Brazil! He will be in the Brazil MTC for two weeks of intensive language study then back to the field. Congratulations Elder Madsen!


Do What You Are Supposed to Do

Hello, minha familia! A lot happened this week.
By the way, I’m sorry my email didn’t make it to you yesterday. Memorial Day messed up p-day because all the libraries are closed where missionaries email and the family history center computers all froze because most of them are older than I am (Well, maybe a year younger).

I hope Grandma and Grandpa can be happy being together in the assisted living center.
What are you going to do with all of their stuff?
It sounds like you guys barely even have time to sleep!
I am praying for Grandma and Grandpa everyday.

This week we had a lesson with Debbie (who has been around the church forever). It was much better than our first lesson. She had read the first 8 chapters of the Book of Mormon and we read chapter 8 (The Tree of Life) with her. She said she has been praying to know if the Book of Mormon is true but “God hasn’t said too much” to her about it. I think we will talk to her next about being specific in her prayers.

We also finally came in contact with Valerie again. She is about to graduate from high school. Her Dad doesn’t even want her to be close to the church building, which is why we hadn’t seen her, but we finally talked to her and she said she still wants to meet with us. Her best friend, Barbara, is a recent convert of a year whose parent’s had a similar reaction. Barbara said she would sneak out of the house to have lessons in a nearby park so her parent’s wouldn’t know she was taking the lessons and that she has seen how her membership in the church has blessed her family. We are meeting with Valerie again tomorrow.

I’m not sure if I told you last week, but Elder Haynes and I went by a former investigator family last week and we decided to sing them a hymn. They were touched by it and invited us back for dinner and then after that invited us back again this past week. We are really building up their faith in us as representatives of Jesus Christ, which then builds their faith that what we are about to share with them will be true.

We haven’t had a baptismal date in a few weeks, and so Elder Haynes and I resolved this week to invite everyone including members to be baptized. We invite members by asking them to prepare to renew their baptismal covenants this Sunday and to read Matthew 26, which is the last supper. We also decided to really talk to everyone we see on the street, even if they don’t speak english or are on the phone or otherwise hard to talk to. Third, we decided to ask for referrals from everyone. At first, nothing happened. It was pretty discouraging. Literally, all day Saturday, nothing happened. All of our appointments fell through, no one wanted to talk to us, our extensive plans still ended up leaving us with nothing to do, and we ran out of miles on our car for the month. Thankfully, as Elder Wirthlin said, “Sunday Will Come” (that is an awesome talk by Elder Wirthlin, by the way. Look it up). After church on Sunday, we just contacted former investigators. Nothing special. But we asked for referrals from everyone. Again, it seemed fruitless, until about 8:00 at night. We knocked on a former’s door. Her mother answered, scantily clad and not excited to see us. We kept our commitment and asked for a referral. She scoffed at us but pointed to her next door neighbor, who she said she heard yelling at each other last night. She also said, ” I don’t think you would want to go there.” However, we went. We knocked on that door. This lady was a little nicer and definitely more covered up, but still not interested. After she rejected us, we again asked for a referral. She pointed across the street and said, “That family sure needs help.” Feeling like we were on a wild goose chase, we walked across the street. At this point we were a little discouraged. However, a woman walked out the door, we began contacting her, had a fantastic lesson on the street with her, she introduced us to her children, told us her husband had abused her children and so she was forced to leave him, and sincerely wanted to learn more. Honestly, Nancy (that was her name) was probably the most sincere person I have ever met while contacting. The spirit was strong as we taught her and we will be returning this week.

When we do what we are supposed to do, even in the face of disappointment, we will obtain the blessings promised by the Lord. And we will be happier.

I am grateful to be on a mission. I am grateful for the blessings it brings and the things I learn. I am grateful for a family that is faithful in the gospel. I am grateful that our family can be together forever. And I love you!

“If life was easy, it wouldn’t be hard.” -Sheri Dew

This week we dropped and dropped and dropped people. Most of them are good people, just not doing anything. And not doing anything shows a lack of faith. And then on Sunday everyone asked us, “How’s the work going?” And we responded by saying “We just dropped most of our investigators so pretty good, I guess.” I’ve noticed missionary work can become cyclical. We focus as a mission on being “escalator missionaries” instead of “elevator missionaries”. An elevator missionary finds an investigator and focuses on them until they are baptized. Then they have to go to the bottom and start from scratch again to find people. And escalator missionary is continually helping people onto the escalator, so that when someone makes it to baptism, there is still a diverse teaching pool that we are left with. Unfortunately, sometimes everyone on the escalator starts walking down at the same rate the escalator is moving up. So they don’t progress and they never make it to the top. And then you have to start over anyway. That’s kind of where we are at right now, although there are a few people who have good potential that we have not begun teaching yet.

We taught a lady this week named Debbie who has been around members of the church forever and even studied the history of the church but never really concerned herself with the doctrine of the church. A lady in our ward, who is good friends with her, invited her to take the lessons which we are now having with her in the member’s home. I think Debbie has a lot of potential. However, the lesson we taught her, from our perspective, was horrible. We were ill prepared and not unified at all. Fortunately Debbie is solid enough that the lesson didn’t deter her from progress. Elder Haynes and I were both humbled by the experience. In Jacob Chapter 5 (in the parable of the vineyard or the olive tree allegory), The Lord of the Vineyard asks “What more could I have done for my vineyard?” and asks the servant why the entire vineyard bore evil fruit even when the servants did everything right. The servant replies, “It is because of the loftiness of the vineyard”. The branches grew faster than the roots had strength and therefore grew corrupt and weak fruit. The Lord of the Vineyard then institutes a final pruning of the vineyard where the corrupt branches will be broken off continually as the natural or fruitful branches grow. Therefore the tree is in a process of constant refinement or continual sanctification until the day when it is a perfect tree bearing perfect fruit. Life is a lot easier when we humble ourselves. However, sometimes because of our inattentiveness we begin to “grow lofty” and the Lord needs to prune us. I’m grateful for this refining principle that cuts off our excess in order to help us grow into something healthy and fruitful.

Our experience with Debbie helped us check ourselves and enabled us to grow in unity and to teach simply by the spirit afterwards. It helped us realize… we need to create lesson plans, we need to practice teach. We need to prepare in humility to teach the people around us. The night before we had taught a fantastic lesson at the stake president’s home to their good friends. That lesson we prepared for. We practice taught. We taught simply. And then we mistakenly thought we would be ready for the next day even though we didn’t repeat the process. Even though Debbie and the member thought the lesson was great last week, Elder Haynes and I are looking forward to tonight when we teach Debbie again and can show her what it is like to have a lesson that is taught simply by the spirit.

There are also a few other members who want us to teach their friends, which is a huge blessing. As we have been talking with everyone and showing our faith by “dropping” people, the Lord is blessing us even though we don’t see the fruit necessarily during our proselyting efforts.

Elder Ballard is coming to our mission at the end of the month. I am playing for the missionary choir that is singing, which is cool, but we have to drive to the mission office and practice twice a week for the next two weeks (which is not cool). This week we have a lot of miscellaneous stuff that will take away from teaching and proselyting time, which is a bummer.

I am praying for Grandma and Grandpa Koetitz. I am sure their life must be trying right now, being separated from each other during their individual pains and ailments. Enduring to the end has deeper meaning and significance as we age. I really hope their health improves. Mostly I hope they can be happy and together. Mom, if you send me Grandpa’s new address, I will send him a card.

This past Sunday I gave a talk in the Mar Vista Ward. It was based on Elder L. Tom Perry’s talk “Obedience through Faithfulness”, from the recent general conference. I was really struggling with what I should say in my talk when I realized I had not begun my study for the talk with a pray. I prayed and as soon as I started the prayer I though of an experience from my life that would relate. That story was the first igloo campout I went on. I talked about a lot of things relating to that campout. The size of our igloo, the fact that Forrest, Jonny, and I were the only three in such a large igloo, and especially the fact that we did not hearken to Dad’s counsel to take off our coats and snowpants before we went to bed. Because of that, we were freezing. I also talked about how despite our disobedience, in our moment of need, Dad came and “delivered” us from “bondage” or a cold and snowed-in igloo. The whole experience of preparing for the talk re-emphasized that prayer works, that the Lord wants us to be inspired, and it taught me important principles of obedience.

It is incredible to me how even as parents guide and teach their children to do simple things, even just how to stay warm in the snow, they can be (perhaps unintentionally) be giving them life lessons that translate into gospel truths. The gospel is involved in every detail of our life. It is up to us to discover how the gospel applies.

I love you family! and friends.

New Companion, New Week, and a Lot of Love.

This week I started my 8th transfer on my mission. Crazy! At the beginning of my mission I always saw my companion’s stacks of planners and long list of letters to President Tew and felt like my mission was dauntingly and discouragingly long.

And then I worked and blinked and I’m almost halfway done. Wait, what? When did that happen?

I’m so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve a mission. I know that Tyler and I serving missions is blessing our entire family. The Lord doesn’t always bless us in the ways we expect, but he does always bless us.

My new companion is Elder Haynes. He is from Fort Worth, Texas. He is 6′ 8″. He was set to play college basketball before his mission until he had a crippling illness where he lost a lot of weight. He’s recovered now, but that experience allowed him to see what his priorities really should be. He likes to sing. He likes to draw. And he is completely honest and sincere. I love Elder Haynes. He’s just a good guy. He wants to love people. He was also trained by Elder Jacobson. I knew him when I was in Long Beach and I was ecstatic when I heard he was going to be my new companion. I am his second visa-waiter companion, although by the end of this transfer I won’t be his visa waiter companion anymore. I will either be in Brasil or I will not be waiting for a visa anymore.

Our focus this transfer is finding. He came from Huntington Beach, which the culture of the mission has taught everyone is the slowest area for work and the best area for members (which is true if you expect it to be. If you expect more work, you will find it). We have had great investigators whom I deeply love here, but I knew all of last transfer that we needed to find. And now we are.

This week we had a couple of good experiences with prayer. The biggest obstacle when we talk with people is that they do not know how to have or recognize a spiritual experience. As missionaries, if we are doing things right, we should essentially always have the spirit with us. We don’t even realize it is there. Kind of like our clothes. They protect us from harm, keep us warm, enable us to do more, but we often don’t think about the fact that they are there. However, when our clothes are gone, it is clearly evident. The spirit is the same way. If we as missionaries can teach someone to pray, promise them they will receive an answer, and wait for the spirit to speak to them, the person will almost always feel the spirit. This week we had a pretty substandard lesson with a part-member family that didn’t really seem to care. At the end, the spirit prompted us to ask the son to pray. He never had, so we taught him how. We asked him if he knew God was there. He said he didn’t. We promised God could tell him He is there. He prayed. It was a simple, unremarkable prayer. But his mother was weeping afterward. Because she had never heard her son talk to his Father. She had never seen the fruits of instilling faith in her children. And the 17-year old son was excited because now he knows that God is there. God spoke to his soul.

I love what Tyler said on Mothers Day. It is often the faith of others that works miracles in our lives. The faith of Alma and the people of the church brought an angel to Alma the Younger and the wicked Sons of Mosiah. The faithful prayers of Enoch spared a righteous part of his seed to always remain on the Earth, even after the flood. The faithful prayers of Lehi saved his wicked descendants from total destruction. Our prayers of faith allow for miracles in the lives of ourselves and others that could not happen without our faith.

I’m so sad to hear about Grandpa Koetitz. He seemed much less responsive on Sunday than even 10 short months ago when I last saw him. I will be praying for him and for Grandma. How is their living situation going to work? How far away is the care facility? Is Grandpa showing signs of improvement since last week? Does Grandma have an in-home nurse of some sort to help her?

How long are you (or were you) in Stanwood for?
Dad: Do you have any business trips coming up? Will you have to go back to Utah soon? Also, with this other basement project, how are you going to balance home, work, and more work? It seemed like you were already busy before! I was excited to find out Grandpa is in Rose Hills. I think I can just go to the office there and ask where he is in the cemetery. That’s the only way I would be able to find him.

Mom: School is almost out! Are you going to Utah for Kimmie’s delivery? Are you going to be going to visit Grandma and Grandpa this summer?
Thank you so much for sending that CD. More and more people have been asking me to give them something so I figured I should ask.

Ryan: That is so exciting that you are having opportunities to use Indonesian and participate in missionary work. It is amazing how God puts us in the right place at the right time to do his work and sometimes we don’t even realize what He has been planning the whole time.

Our family keeps moving along. We are going to be spread across every part of the globe! Chile, China, Japan, Washington, Utah, California (or maybe Brasil), Arizona, and North Carolina.

I think what I took away most from our conversation on Sunday is that nothing matters more to me than our family. It felt so natural to talk to everyone and it made me realize that’s what it will feel like when we greet each other after this life. Natural.

I love everyone! I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ that unites our family.

I took most of these pictures for Elder Jacobson since he was leaving, so a lot of them don’t even have me in them. First are zone pictures. Then Judy Albee.



HAPPY MOTHERS DAY!!! (and transfers)

Ola, minha familia!!!

Elder Palmer made it to Brazil last week! Hallelujah for him. Have you heard anything about Elder Starr?

We’ve been burning up in Whittier. There were three days this week where it was 100 degrees. That’s a little warm. It actually made me grateful to be in an area where we use our car so much. Usually I hate it. I would much rather bike everywhere, just not when it’s 100 degrees. Whittier is the hottest part of our mission, just because it is farthest inland, so I’m gearing up for a summer here.

Elder Jacobson is getting transferred to Long Beach for his last transfer. He has been a district leader for 11 transfers and he was called as a zone leader his last transfer. I love Elder Jacobson because he is so humble. Some of the leadership let it get to their head, but definitely not him. My new companion will be Elder Haynes, who Elder Jacobson trained. Elder Haynes was in my zone in Long Beach. He is 6′ 8″ and awesome. I’m excited to be his companion.

I feel like I had a lot to say this week but now that I am sitting here I can’t remember any of it. On Monday we had a lesson at the stake president’s house with two of their neighbor friends (Tammy and her son Zach). Tammy’s husband died a little over a year ago. We talked to them about eternal families. It was a great lesson. Tammy said that even though her Christian church doesn’t know what happens when we go to heaven, she wants to be with her husband forever. The Powells then shared with her how they were married/sealed in the LA temple and what that means for their family. It was great to see how Tammy changed as she became comfortable talking to us and began to trust us. At the end she told us that “Heaven wouldn’t be Heaven without my husband and my family”. And it is true. It wouldn’t be. It is interesting to see how there are some things we inherently believe (or want to believe) no matter what people preach to us or what organizations we are part of. The Light of Christ helps us recognize truths that feel familiar even if at first they seem “too good to be true”. We are excited to teach her again tonight.

It amazes me how much can happen in one family in a single week!

Grandma Mooney: I’m glad you are doing okay after spraying those dandelions! It’s funny how sometimes we literally trip over missionary opportunities and they land right in our backyard. I will pray for Ronald Brent Simmons. Every day. Thank you as well for the quotes you send. They are all so good!

Mom: I sent you a letter in the mail. I hope it gets there before Sunday! As of now, yes we will be able to do a google hangout on Sunday. I will try at 6:00 PM. However, I’m not sure if we want to have Tyler and I call at the exact same time because that cuts down on the amount of time we each get to talk to each other. You can send an invitation to my email . That is the one I will be using to hangout on. How long has Mitch been on his mission? It sounds like Stake Conference was fantastic. I don’t think I know the girl that spoke. Mom, would you be able to send me a copy of whatever the last CD I made is? There are a few people who have requested copies and I keep forgetting to ask.

Dad: It sounds like you are getting back into construction! I don’t think you did tell us about this other basement bid. How did you find out about it? Are they friends of Kimmie and David? Is Mom ever going to see you? I’m glad that computer is being put to use. Obviously no one was using it right now. Are you finally getting a few moments to breathe at home?

Lacey: WHAT? Michael is going to Chile? When? For how long? If Kimmie and David don’t move, it will be a huge blessing to have the basement finished.

Kimmie and David: I can’t believe your pregnancy is already almost over and soon we’ll have another awesome young man in our family. Online classes would probably work out really well. It would sure be a whole lot easier with a newborn baby.

Ryan: It sounds like you are a full time missionary too! What are you doing after classes are over? When do you come back to the Western Hemisphere?

Well, I love everyone! Talk to you next week!

Judy again.

An awesome member named Brother Thompson who is an interior designer.

Then our ward mission leader Brother Finger and his wife and son.