Monday, December 23, 2013

"I finally have pets!"

Greetings from Chino, CA!  It's a balmy 65 degrees here and I am loving it!  It's funny, back home I almost never wore short sleeved white shirts but now it's all I wear!  I swore that I'd never be the kind of guy that wears something in his front shirt pocket but I guess times change.  Now I've got a planner, mechanical pencil, white handbook of missionary rules, and pass-along cards all stuffed in there with a name tag on front.  Aren't I cool?

This week has been a little hectic with the transfer that just happened.  Chino is a LOT different from Apple Valley.  The population is a lot more dense so as a result I'm serving in one of the smallest areas in the mission.  Also, the best part about my new area?  It's all SLIGHTLY downhill.  Just slightly enough so that you don't notice it going up, but slightly enough so you don't have to pedal going down.  It feels like I'm on a Disneyland ride!  It's fitting, because apparently Disneyland is only about twenty minutes away from here.  I keep trying to convince the member we live with to take us, but he won't have it.

That actually brings me to my next point.  It's quite the difference going from living in the world's smallest apartment to living with a member.  His name is Bert, or as he's affectionately called around here, "The Crazy Old Man."  And it's true.  He's a crazy old man.  He's awesome, though.  I think he's my new best friend.  I also live with four pets!  And if you didn't know any better you'd think that they own the house.  There's two chihuahuas, Leo and Pixie, and then two parrots, Fred and Niki.  I hate Fred.  Every morning right before I wake up he screeches his head off.  The rest of the pets and I have a pretty good relationship, but Fred and I are working out our differences.

This week has been a lot of getting acquainted with the ward and with the area.  Lots of visits, lots of biking, lots of exploring, things of that nature.  I've met a lot of good people and will report on them later when I get to know them better.  For right now it's kind of a hectic day and my brain is too scattered to think of anything else to write.  I hope you all have a good week and enjoy Christmas!  What a wonderful time to reflect on the Savior's birth and His impact in our life.  I was telling my last companion in my last area once about my feelings for the Savior.  I said, "Now, this is probably really obvious but I sincerely mean it.  I feel bad for people who don't know about Jesus Christ or don't understand their relationship with him."  And of course that's really obvious, but it's true.  If only more people understood what the Savior did for them, His love for them, and how He can help them.  While I don't understand it fully, I do understand a little better than others in the world.  That's one of the reasons why I'm out here serving a mission, to help others understand that even in their darkest moments they'll always have a friend.  I know that's true and one day the whole world will know it as well.

Merry Christmas!
Elder Carter David Morgan

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Elder Morgan--the Magical Elf

Greetings from Chino, CA!  "What?"  Says the confused reader, "I thought he was in Apple Valley, CA?  How can this be?  Is my whole life a lie?"  Well, confused yet dear reader, you can be reassured that your whole life is definitely NOT a lie!  Well, maybe some of it.  You could've been adopted and your parents never told you.  But luckily all your dealings with me are the whole truth!  I've been transferred!  I've left the Ranchos ward in the Apple Valley Stake and I've gone to the Walnut Park ward in the Chino stake.  This is my first day in the area and I haven't had too much time to get myself acquainted with everything, but I'm looking forward to this incredible opportunity. 
The Rancho Cucamonga mission is divided into two geographical areas:  The valley and the desert.  The valley looks like everything you think Southern California would look like.  Palm trees, grass, houses that are all some various shade of burgundy or brown, you name it.  The desert looks like everything you associate with the word "desert."  Dirt yards, cacti, tumbleweeds, things of that nature.  I've made it out of the desert and I'm now serving in the Valley.  It's funny, I went from one corner of the mission to the other corner.  It's a lot warmer down here.  I think it was 50 degrees in Apple Valley and its 75 degrees here.  I'm in paradise!
In all seriousness though, it was really hard to leave the Ranchos ward.  I love the good people of that ward.  Great things are happening there and they will continue to happen.  It was funny, saying goodbye to the Ranchos ward was almost as hard as saying goodbye to Vancouver!  It's amazing how attached you can get to a people when you serve them with all your heart, might, mind, and strength.
The last thing I got to do with the Ranchos ward was attend their ward Christmas party.  I wore an elf hat with elf ears, served food, and helped hand out Santa's goodie bags while kids were sitting on his lap.  It was a good way to end my stay in Ranchos.  I'll always remember that ward and all that they did for me.

I'd love to write more but I really don't have much to say.  I'm a little overwhelmed at the huge change that has taken place in my life!  I'm excited for this new opportunity.  It's a completely different world in the valley.  I have no idea what these next six weeks hold for me but I know that if I work hard and follow the Spirit that we'll have great success in this area.  I can already feel myself getting consumed in the work!  It'll be a great experience here, I know it.
Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan

Friday, December 6, 2013

"Like kissing a cactus"

Seasons greetings from Apple Valley, CA!  The Thanksgiving week was fun and we were able to have a great dinner with some members in our ward and some other missionaries.  I'm grateful for how kind and caring the members of the Ranchos ward are.  They make sure that we're well taken care of as missionaries.

This week I had my first baptism!  While that sounds exciting, it's actually kind of cheating, haha.  There was a boy whose dad, who's a member, wanted him to hear all the discussions before baptism.  Well, they put the baptism off for a while so by the time we finished teaching him he had turned nine, making him a convert baptism and our responsibility, haha.  It was fun, though.  He had little to no knowledge about the gospel before we began teaching him.  By the end he had a good knowledge and understanding of a lot of gospel principles.  However, because he was technically a convert baptism he had to be interviewed by our zone leader, Elder M.  Now, the convert interview isn't designed for 9 year-old children.  Apparently, here are some highlights from his interview, according to Elder M:

Right at the beginning of the interview- 
Nick: "So, Minecraft."  He then talked about Minecraft for about twenty minutes.

Concerning the Spirit-
M: "So, when we talk about church how do you feel?"
Nate: "I feel weird."
M: "... Good weird?"
Nate: "No.  Like, weird weird.  Like kissing a cactus."

Concerning the Law of Chastity
Nick: "I don't think I'll ever get married.  Or if I do it'll be in about 400 or 1000 years.  But by then I'd be like 100 years old!"

That's one for the history books right there.  His baptism was Saturday which was very nice.  It may seem lame to take part in what was essentially a child of record baptism as a missionary, but I felt the Spirit at his baptismal interview.  The gospel isn't reinforced very strongly in the home so it was nice to provide some basic information.  Plus, before our teaching he wouldn't pray out loud and now he offers to say the prayer at every lesson.  Progress!  Also, the day after his baptism he gave his first talk in primary.  It felt good to help someone, even if he was nine, in his spiritual progression.

We had an excellent lesson with one of our investigators, S.  She's working really hard on gaining a testimony of the Book of Mormon and is making some good progress.  The testimony was really strong in our lesson as we read Alma 32.  Alma talks about how you can know if something is true by if the seed is good and if it grows.  

As I think about my mission it seems weird that just about 4 months ago I didn't know any of these people who have become some of my best friends.   I didn't know any of my zone, I didn't know my ward, I didn't know my investigators, and yet now they're my whole life.  What's even weirder to think is that some of the elders in my zone and I studied on the same floor and slept in the same building at the MTC and we didn't know each other till we got to the field.  The mission can be hard at times and sometimes I'm confused about why I'm here in California and not in Brazil, but the people I've met are a huge testament that I'm doing the right thing in the right place.  The church is true, the book is blue, and I know that the work I'm doing is the greatest in the whole world.

Your friend,
Elder Carter David Morgan