Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Hello! (Feb 22 2010)

     Hi Y'all! :P (I don't understand why more people won't use that term. It really is quite nice when talking to everyone.)
     Well I got my Birthday letter/ package from you guys on Saturday, along with the blog/ letter updates from all of the guys out serving their missions. It's great seeing them all grow as they share the Gospel. I wish the computers out here had a SD card slot so that I could send you guys the pictures on a pretty general basis, because in reality the card doesn't fill up that fast, and I'm not a crazy picture taker. Feel free to send a new out so that I can send the old one back. If we do that every other month or something like that you guys can get a few new pictures of me sooner.
     In regards to the pictures of me on the old and new bikes, I'll do that soon. There won't be a seat with the picture of the old bike because the seat is destroyed, and no I'm not exaggerating. You'll see a picture of just what the seat looks like when I send the card back next week. I've only ridden my new bike 1 day, before Elder Grandela left, and it's pretty nice, so I'll be making sure that I can lock it up and keep it secure. We're not on bikes as a trio but we're in a truck. I'm sure that I can take an awesome picture of me doing something funny with the truck too. I just don't think about all of the types of pictures I can take.
     The picture you were talking about Dad was the Napa Stake Conference one. My companions should be on the right of me (from your perspective) Elder Balagna having black hair and looking Italian, and Elder Bankhead should be right next to him with brown hair and kind of tan. We have one more week being in a 3-some before I get transferred or I get a new companion.
     The picture I get in my head of Mom hammering away at the bathroom tile is funny, I remember Mom hating the tile and how cold the tile would be in the winter. I'm sure the contractors didn't have to do much of that part of the job! :)
     The members here are very nice and they feed us almost every night. It's pretty awesome. ^^ Also on some of the nights that we didn't have a member dinner I've had some fun cooking some frozen steak, and making an ice cream pie from the cookie mix your guys sent me. It's just a lot of fun to have random materials left over to cook with.
     It's also kind of funny since it's 3 of us in a tiny room and I'm living out of my bags for these 2 weeks, fortunately there's only one left. We've had a lot of fun getting to know each other, and working together. We're trying to balance the work between the Spanish and English work, but Spanish often times has a whole lot of more things to do than the English side... so sometimes it's just kind of funny since neither Elder Bankhead or Elder Balagna know a lick of Spanish. They know a few words, but that's just about all.
     It's been sunny, and pretty clear skies for the past week. Yesterday and today have been kind of drizzly and overcast, but things should clear up as time goes on.
     Regarding my clothing, the majority of my clothing is doing pretty good. When I was on foot and on Bike my socks started going crazy, but they should be okay for awhile, but the 2 pairs of pants that we got before I left are wearing out. *sigh* they just aren't meant for being walked in all day. So, I'll figure out a quick patch job to work with it until I can get my 3 pair cleaned and look around to see if I can get some new pants. Unless you guys can do something to help me out there... I don't know, it's just bothersome how lousy some of these pants are.      
     I think that it's great that Cole got my letter! I was wondering whatever happened to it after I sent it off with my other missionary friends that were heading to Tucson, Arizona. I think I remember the number part of the address, so I'm going to try to send him another letter here pretty soon. I think that I'll be here in Sonoma still, but I won't know until next week.      I also remember the Stewart family, and particularly the night that we went to their house for dinner uninvited :P. That was pretty embarrassing for me. I don't remember much else besides that though.
     Note to President Bunker:
*whew* Another week gone by. It has been tough teaching the Spanish appointments here in Sonoma by myself, but it has definitely been a growing and learning experience to struggle and grasp more and more how I can improve myself to better serve the members here. It's also helped me work more with the members of the ward to coordinate lessons and people who can go on splits with me while the English Elders go to other appointments at the same time, or to just come along and fellowship the investigators. I am looking forward to a new Spanish-speaking companion though, it's kind of awkward to teach a lesson to an investigator with 3 people when 2 of them can't say anything at all to add to the conversation.
This week has been bad with many of the Spanish members of the Sonoma area feeling sick, working, or just being unavailable. I hope to be able to contact more people this week, especially Lourdes who has been in Mexico for the past 2 weeks. She was progressing well until that point. She gets home today, and I hope to get in touch with her soon.
Our 2 investigators with a baptismal date have been unavailable this week as well. Fortunately I'm still in contact with Angeles, but Elizabeth has been out of the loop for 2.5 weeks. I'm seeking help from the member that referred and taught her with us to help us get back into contact, but until that happens she's a little off the map.
Some of progressing investigators this week is Armando Landeros, Moises and Berta Gutierez, and Montserrat Munoz. They have been reading, and like what we have been teaching. I've committed them to praying specifically to know that these things are true and I hope to move through some of the individual doubts that some of them have, and I hope to extend a baptismal commitment within the next few visits if they have done their part and the spirit is right. 
Your Missionary,
Elder Mackelprang
Napa Conference
Napa Conference

Thursday, February 18, 2010


I actually “chatted” with Richard a bit this week, since he was emailing at the same time I was online.  He was having trouble getting logged on to his LDS.ORG account (which apparently is what missionaries use for their email login), so I was able to help him.  We traded about six emails over an hour or so.  I suppose that counts as “really slow chat”, right :-) - Mark

     It feels good to be emailing from a Gmail app again. It really is so much neater. Anyways please, please, please make sure everyone hears about the change. It's pretty simple. It's funny that they didn't let me choose the name :P I would have made it shorter, but I'm happy nonetheless.

     So I'm emailing this week from the Sonoma Library Family History Center because it's President's Day! Happy Holiday. It always bugs me that all of these holidays fall on Mondays. It really messes up the emailing system we have. Anyways something funny to look think about is that since arriving to California I have been here for 2 transfers, lived in 3 apartments, and have had a total of 4 companions. Yep, I'm with the gringo Elders now. They're funny, but it's just weird to see how crazy some of these Elders can get. We actually made the switch yesterday, on Valentine's Day. The APs came and picked up Elder Grandela and I moved over to English's apartment. It's still weird getting used to it. The other apartment still feels like home.

     So Yeah, I'm sad to see Elder Grandela is gone, but I know that he will have a great impact on his home community because he's a great guy. He has taught me much from his example, and I will working hard to keep up the pace with the Spanish work here.

     We have Angeles Anguiano and Elizabeth Ramirez with baptismal dates for March 6th. Elder Grandela and I lost base with Elizabeth last week, so I'll be doing my best to call / contact her and continue on from where we left off so that she can prepare to make those covenants that will bring her closer to her Savior, Lord and Redeemer. Angeles I will be seeing tomorrow with one of the best Spanish Sisters in the ward. They are becoming great friends, and Angeles is getting more and more excited about the baptism as the time draws near. She was close to Elder Grandela, and was sad to see him leave as many people from the Sonoma area were, but I will do my best to teach strongly with the spirit so that she will be prepared to be baptized.

     This week was pretty slow compared to other weeks, we had a lot of people who dropped appointments, but still have an interest in meeting with us, so I'll be contacting them as soon as possible to help them to progress. Hopefully I'll be able to get in touch with Ares Perez who called us to apologize for not being at the lesson, and told us he wants to learn more about the Book of Mormon, and wants to come out to church. So I hope to be able to tell you more about him and his progress if I can get ahold on him this week. We have several people who are progressing, but are doing so in small steps. I plan to excite them with the spirit to come out to church, and as they come to church they will progress faster.

     One good thing about Elder Grandela leaving is now I'm having to be more dependant on the Spanish members to help come and teach with the lessons that I have set up. Fortunately they are happy, willing, and able to help me out. I feel good that I have a great support from the English Elders and the ward to help keep this the Lord's work moving. My Spanish has been blessed, since I'm alone, and cannot ask for support from the English Elders when we're walking around to contact people. I know that the Lord is with me, and that He has a great work for Sonoma. I hope things are going well in the other areas of the mission.

     So to answer a few questions about the last bike: it was from a member, Bro Newman. It was pretty good until the bike seat went haywire. I have a picture of how totally screwed up it got. I'll be buying a new one since it broke while I was riding it. In contrast the new bike is amazing!!! It takes halve as much work to go up the hills around here, but I'm still figuring out how to smoothly change the gears since it's a little different than bikes I've ridden in the past. I love it. Thank Keith for putting fenders on it, that will be useful when things get wet again. It's a great blessing. The bike came down with the English Elders new car, or rather Truck. Yep, a new truck that only had 35 miles on it. Ridiculous, I know. They pick us up sometimes so it's useful when we're biking and we all need to head somewhere. So I've mentioned my new English compies, but I haven't even mentioned their names yet :P my bad. They're Elder Bankhead and Elder Balagna (pronounced like lasagna and yes he's from an Italian family) Bankhead's a greenie from Utah and Elder Balagna has 6 months left and is from Illinois. They're great. I look forward to some fun times with them. I'll tell you more about them as I learn more. I've only been with them in their companionship for a half-day so far. We usually do emails around 10AM, but my emails to you guys are usually last and I don't usually have time for a back and forth email conversation. Congrats to Sam!! It's cool that she's found someone that she can spend the rest of her life and eternity with. :P I don't know if she'll send me anything, but still, way to go!

     Well that's all for this week, I love you all and I want you to know that I know that our Savior lives and that He's constantly looking out for us and ways for us to grow and become more like Him. I know that He loves each and everyone one of us and that He's always there to give us a hand when we are weak. I know that the Book of Mormon is the work of God for our day, and that ANYONE can read from them and learn something. I know that Joseph Smith was a true prophet and He restored Christ's church as it was in His day, and I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen. 

     Love your Missionary,

     Elder Richard Mackelprang

Monday, February 8, 2010

Pre Valentines Day

     Well first off, I haven't gotten anything from the kids yet... hopefully that's because the internet's being funky. So here's some of what's been happening so far.

     This Week has been amazingly fast. Elder Grandela and I have accomplished a lot of work and have committed 2 investigators to baptism! I'm really excited for them, they have sweet testimonies of these things, and I know that baptism will only help them come closer to their Savior in their journey back to his presence. My spanish has been improving greatly since I first began in Santa Rosa, and again here in Sonoma. I can understand just about everything that the Spanish people are saying, which is really good, but I still need to expand my vocabulary to be able to express myself and be able to talk and get to know the investigators on a deeper level. I'm sad to see Elder Grandela go. He's been a great teacher, and a diligent worker even though his trunkiness about going home has started to creep up on him.

     So a little bit about Elder Grandela: He's from Virginia Beach, Virginia and he's flying home next Monday, leaving me to take charge of the Spanish work here in Sonoma with the English Elders. Elder Grandela's funny, but knows when to be serious, and he's one of the most dedicated and sensible missionaries that I've met. He wants to go to BYU Provo, so I'll look him up when I go back. He has served in Sonoma before, so he's been a *BIG* help in establishing the foundation of the Spanish work since we were "whitewashing" the area. That's all I can think to say about him... He's cool and we get along well.

     I'm excited to keep the work moving on the Spanish people, and I know that the Lord will aid me as I give more of my all to the work.
There are lots of people here as well who are ready to move forward, even if they don't feel prepared as of yet. It's just a matter of building up their confidence in themselves and their relationship with the Lord.

     If they only understood the blessings that come as we just take that step forward then I think they would not hesitate as many do. I will work and pray to be able to help them through their doubts with the Holy Ghost and the things that they need to hear.

     I have also found little by little by reading the Scriptures in Spanish I understand things on a more simple, and yet sometimes deeper level than what I have always read in English. Since it takes a little more time to read the Spanish on the page and read it as English in your mind, you see more and more connections between the stories, and the principles that the Prophets teach us.

     I am excited to serve with Elder Balagna and Elder Bankhead (English Elders), and I hope to be able to teach with them to the Spanish members and work on my translating ability from English to Spanish. For some reason it's a little more difficult for me to go to English to Spanish than from Spanish to English, probably because I've worked on understanding everything in Spanish as it would be in English. Now I get to start working the other way around.

     Elder Grandela and I have started asking soul searching questions to the Spanish people on the street, but it hasn't been working that well. They get uncomfortable and say "I don't know" to everything. I guess they are still kind of paranoid of people in suits since many of them are living here illegally. I can't judge them, but I wish there was something more I could do to share with them the spirit of our message in the short time we have to contact them. Usually afterwards we give them a card and they say thank you and leave.

     We are working on starting the new "Daily Dose" English program here in Sonoma so that we can start teaching people in their houses and find lots of people and try to build off a different base and share the Gospel with them. We have some appointments for these English classes this week, so we'll see how that will help in our finding.

     THANK YOU, THANK YOU!! I'm appreciative for a good and new bike! The one I have now is functional, but it's 5th gear is whacked and the seat can be rather uncomfortable, but I've worked with it. I should be able to pick up the bike from the office when we drop Elder Grandela off this Sunday. ^^ Just a quick thing, I did purchase my own helmet, bike lock, and lights last Monday, because we had to return those to the missionary that left them 2 weeks ago at Zone Conference. So Hopefully Aunt Marsha can get the lock and/ or helmet if she bought them and return them, but again THANK YOU!!

     I loved your package, maybe you guys could send some Capt'n Crunch or Cracklin Oat Bran, that would be cool.

     Your Son and Brother,

     Elder Mack

Friday, February 5, 2010

This week: February!

Richard’s email took over 24 hours to arrive here this week.  I’m not sure what’s going on with it, but from below it sounds like the Santa Rosa Mission is converting to GMail.  Hopefully that will be the case…

This is Richard’s note to President Bunker:

     I loved Zone conference this week! I particularly felt strongly about the area book that Elders Hubbard and Nielson taught us about. It's really true that the area book is a way that we 'return and report' to the Lord and help future missionaries that will serve in our area. I reminded me of an experience that I've had since being here in Sonoma. The house that I'm in has been without a can opener for some time. Unfortunately, I didn't realize this until after we had bought our groceries the day after transfers. So I returned to the cave man method of 'rocks and sharp sticks.' (I used a mug and a butter knife to open my cans.) This usually took 7 minutes, whereas if I had had a can opener it would have taken 30 seconds. I realized that when we don't update our area book like we should, then we are not keeping the tools or in this case the can opener sharp. I will concentrate on doing my part to keep the area books of my area in good working order for the Lord, for our investigators, and for the future missionaries who will serve there.

     Our investigators have been doing well. We've been meeting with a lot of less actives and investigators this week. One of the most amazing things that happened this week though was that we got 12 referrals from ONE member. Brother Moreno is amazing, he was baptized in 2006 and he's working with the stake presidency, and is one of the strongest Spanish members out here in Sonoma. Elder Grandela and I will be working with him a lot to meet his friends and teach them. We have already set up many lessons and opportunities to meet with them this week! I'm excited!! Lourdes Ceja is one of our fastest progressing investigators, and she is being fellowshipped by Sis. Garcia who is another one of the Sonoma's star Spanish members. Seeing the strength and heart of these members is very humbling, and is very exciting, because they are very happy and willing to help us share the Gospel! Lourdes is an old contact that Elder Grandela had that he thought had died of cancer, but they were never able to make sure that that was the case. She was one of those people who had a record, but weren't in the area book due to someone's misjudgment. So Elder Grandela was overjoyed to find her, and see that she had still been reading the Book of Mormon, even though no one had come to visit her for a year and a half. We will be getting her to church and inviting her to set a baptismal date soon!

     Also this week, since I had to return the bike helmet that Elder Coburn had left, Elder Grandela and I have been on-foot for the latter half of this week. It's been good to be able to talk to people on the street, and make those 10 contacts a day really easy. The only thing that I dislike about walking is that it greatly limits what we can accomplish during the day, because we can't cover as much area as on bike, or car. Fortunately, I was able to get the few things that we needed to get back on bikes for this week. So we'll get rolling!
I have thought a lot, and pondered more deeply about my relationship with the Savior. I'm grateful to be out here and share this message with the people of Sonoma, and I do everything I can to be ready for when I'm carrying the Spanish work solo with the English elders for two weeks. I will live up to the trust and confidence that the Lord has placed in me.

     Your Missionary,

     Elder Mackelprang

:P This week has been crazy with computers in Sonoma being whacky again! I promise that there will be a funny story next week!! Please send me my LDS account info too, we're upgrading to the Gmail, but it's giving me trouble. I love you all! (PS send me an email next week!!)

Note that this is a moderated blog - Elder Mackelprang neither reads or (directly) writes to this blog. This is done by his father.