Tuesday, April 27, 2010

P-Day (Apr 26 2010)

(Sister Bunker – Richard’s Mission Mom posted some pictures on her blog which I’m including here.  They’re of the Napa Zone Conference and include pictures of Richard – Mark)

NapaZone_DSC_0083 This is the entire zone.  You can see Richard near the left hand side of the picture.
Richard_ZoneConference_DSC_0069 This is Richard in the lunch line.  I asked who the other Elders were, but he told me that they were just in line with him.  Sister Bunker told them to line up for pictures together :-)

     Hello everybody!

     Here's a special hello for Grandpa, Grandma, and Uncle Steven! I hope you guys have enjoyed NC!

     *Whew* This week has been longer than others, but that's a given when I've been keeping my pants together with strings of thread until I got my new polyester ones. We've had bike problems (more Elder Knowles than myself), and crazy happenings all around. It's been cloudless, sunny, and hot. Classic California weather. The English Elders lost the truck, and got a dinky little Carolla. It'll be a little more crazy taking the bikes everywhere now... but we'll manage.

     I love this little town, I know just about all the little streets in it, and I'm growing to love the people more and more. It's funny seeing all the little quirks that come with living in a small town like this one, but it's nice all in all. I'll definitely be stopping by here sometime, if Aunt Marsha and family still live in Santa Rosa. I've almost spent 4.5 months here! I'll laugh if I stay another transfer after this one. I'll have been here for 6 months then. Being with Elder Knowles is great. We get along really well, giving each other trouble every once in a while. It's a guy thing I guess. I'm happy that I'm with him though. He's a great missionary, and a hard worker. We've been exploring some of the parts of Sonoma we hardly get around to, that are higher up in the hills ( on our bikes of course! ;)  ) and have had fun whizzing down the streets really fast. We've been looking for Spanish "pockets" of good areas to tract while talking to people on the road. It's good stuff.

     To answer some ?'s

  • Being on bike is always an adventure
  • I don't have the old SD card, it's lost with the other camera the new one works good.
  • The pants work great! and they're machine washable! Hallelujah! They should last a good long while.
  • Mother's Day... well we'll probably call after 2PM our time if we have lunch with a member, or about 6PM if we have dinner. I'll have more info as we get closer.
  • I don't remember if I already mentioned this, but I sang in sacrament a week or 2 ago, a solo of "Rock of Ages" It was fun, and everyone loved it. I'm enjoying the opportunity to sing at all times. It's just great to sing out and share my love for the Gospel.
  • Stamps and Stickers are great for the package, if your sending snacks I'd appreciate jerky and honey roasted peanuts, I'm still working on all of those bags of sunflower seeds you sent me last time. They're not my favorite type of nut, but they are good. Thanks! (the SD card too)

     Here's an update on what's been happening with people I've been teaching:  

     This week has been good, with it's share of challenges, and spiritual fulfillment. We've been working with getting into lessons with our investigators, but they are still workaholics and are always doing something. The Lord always provides other opportunities to take care of, and to help us fulfill our goals, but it's still sad to see the world taking control of our investigator's lives with the need to work. I loved Zone Conference! I always learn something new to apply to the work, and how I can utilize the resources we have, how we can better work with members, etc. We really have all the tools we need to get the work done; we as missionaries just need to use them! This week we've had some bike trouble, but Bro. Newman has been a great help with some backup bikes so that we're not terribly hindered in getting to appointments, and getting around. We've been working with Sara Perez; Estella, Succorro, and Alejandro; and Moises, Berta, Teresa, and Francisco Gutierrez. Sara had to change her baptismal date because she didn't feel ready, and because we can only meet with her once a week. She feels the spirit each time we teach her, and she has told US that. She feels that it's true, but we've only had the opportunity to teach her up the latter part of the Plan of Salvation. She likes our church, but with her new job she's struggling to adjust to the new schedule. We're trying to help her get out to church like she did in the beginning. We are excited for her, and just have to get into her busy schedule and teach her. Estella, Succorro, and Alejandro came to church this week! With almost the entire family! It was beautiful to see them sitting next to their inlaws the Sanchez family. Actually Estella's son Rudulfo got baptized a few months ago, and he's married to Sis Sanchez. They were at his baptism, and know a little bit about our church. Succorro is progressing, but she's feeling oppression from the adversary. She told us that she was feeling sick that Sunday morning and really didn't want to go, but she went anyway and felt fine. Also when she was praying, she was praying to know and then she felt ugly, and bad, and couldn't concentrate. Bro. Moreno was with us and testified to her that it was the adversary trying to fight against her knowing about our church. We are very excited for them, and their family. We'll see how they progress. The Gutierrez family has been out of the loop for about a month or so, and they really didn't remember anything about the Restoration, so we went back and taught it to them again to get them on track and start the fires of faith again. It seemed to light back up with them as we taught it, and we're excited to see them progress too. The thing that would help them most is getting out to church. Hopefully the party that we're throwing will break whatever ice that is preventing them from actually coming out.

     I love you all!

     Your Missionary,

     Elder Richard Mackelprang

P-Day Again! (April 19)

     Happy 23rd Birthday, Robert! Hope it's great!

     Well I have a lot more time this week, which is nice for a change. I usually feel rushed when I do emails, especially by the time I get to write you guys!

     Here's the answers to your questions:

  • Yes Mom, I would definitely like info on what I need for replacements regarding: that one pair of pants, and the shoes
  • The pants did arrive at the mission office, but they can't forward it to me. So I will have to wait until this Thursday, when we will have Zone Conference.
  • I said a little bit about transfers last time, but things are the same here except for Elder Balagna leaving. It feels weird with him being gone, he was a character. I'm happy that I'm here with Elder Knowles. We get along well. It's funny sometimes though, we're similar, but at the same time we're really different. The important thing is that we work together well. The new Elder who came in is Elder Wiznewski. He's cool, I don't know much about him though.
  • Sonoma Chapel, on La Grama which runs into El Portola it should be around 95476 area code, technically it's in the Agua Caliente town boundaries. Have fun googling it.
  • We get a lot of good food here. Mexican food is pretty general since Elder Knowles and I get fed by Mexican people a lot. They really are generous. They have been partying a lot recently too... it'll be interesting to see the craziness with the world cup and Cinco de Mayo. We had home grilled burgers for dinner. It was good stuff.

     I think it's great that the Popes are at BYU. I'm not sure if they'll remember me, but I'll probably look them up, especially since I probably will have to take a Eco. class for Gen Ed.

     Congratulations Jenna! (Getting into the Alpha-Beta club – Mark) I hope you enjoy it! It'll be good for when you apply for colleges.

     Don't worry Josh, I have a better looking hair cut now. That last one was one I did myself. I know I must have looked pretty crazy. When you guys send me a new SD card I'll take more pictures. I'm pretty much giving up on the other one. I have no clue where it could have gone... I'll keep praying to find where my old camera and SD card went to.

     Anyways here's what's been happening in my week:

     This week has been great! Elder Knowles and I have been teaching more than we have in the past weeks, and we feel like we're making a good deal of progress with our investigators! We're still facing some opposition with many of our investigators canceling, but we're working on passing by everyone more often and increasing our daily contact with them so that we have less problems with our appointments falling through.


     Sara Perez is still on for May 1st, although if she can't make a secure time to meet with us at least 2 a week for these next 2 weeks then we might have to push it back. She loves what we're teaching her, and it makes sense to her. She hasn't been as steady to coming to church as she was in the beginning, but we're going to help her realize that it's something important, and that she'll be blessed in all aspects of her life, job included, as she obeys the commandments like keeping the Sabbath Day holy.

     Velia still has some doubts, and so this past week we taught her that all we can really do is help her find that testimony. The actual work and effort will come from her own efforts to pray to know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God, just like the Bible. We committed her to pray to know about the Book of Mormon, to truly know. We're also still trying to get Velia and her family out to church. They said they were coming this week, but they didn't make it. We'll keep trying.

     Juan and Clara Saabedra are doing good, they were also going to come out to church, but their son has been down with a nasty cough for the past couple of days, bad enough that they canceled our appoinment later Sunday evening to take him to the hospital to see what's wrong. We're going to see them today, and if things haven't improved we've offered to give their son a blessing. We're going to get them working on their testimonies and show them that that's what they need to get baptized, and how it will bless their lives. I look forward to seeing how that will go tonight.

     We taught Erika yesterday as well. She had doubts about the Book of Mormon being the word of God, even though she thinks that it helps people come closer to God and the path that He has appointed for us to walk. We committed her to find that testimony through study and prayer. We plan to commit her to baptism with our next lesson with her.

     Luis is a relatively new investigator. We taught him, and the rest of his family last Sat. we talked about prophets and God's plan for us, and then watched the Restoration video. Luis seems to be into it, but his wife Angelica doesn't seem so interested. We commited them all to read, and we'll work hard with the spirit to get the flames of faith burning. We are very excited for them.

     We also have Martin Alverez. He's a non-member in a less active part-member family. He was doing great when he was being taught a few years back, but someone offended him at church, and things have been slow moving since. He doesn't seem to hold anything against whomever it was who insulted him... but something still seems to be holding him back from being baptized. We're teaching them again, and he's sharp. He remembers a lot of what he was taught, and understands a lot. We just need the spirit's guidance on what he needs. We'll be seeing him today. We'll see how it goes.

     It's been a good week. We've found some solid looking contacts and have made progress with some of our investigators! I hope to make this week a better week than the last as I work hard to make myself a Christ-like missionary and not just someone whose doing missionary things.

     Your Missionary,

     Elder Mackelprang

     PS - I finished Jesus the Christ and  am starting on the other books in the missionary library. It's awesome to be able to read from the apostles and the insights that they have had from studying the scriptures! I hope to be able to be a scriptorian like that someday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

This week (Apr 12)

Richard started his letter this week with some answers to some questions we asked earlier:

*Whew* hello all! They gave us a questionnaire this week, so I have even less time than usual... so to answer your questions:

  • We're not making plans for the phone calls on Mother's Day yet, but it will probably be after 1PM
  • Mission Home will call me, or will forward them to me.(the pants) (Note that we sent him a few pairs of pants to replace some that were wearing out)
  • I'm OK with shirts
  • Most of the Spanish people are impressed with what we understand from the amount of time we've studied.
  • I'm pretty sure that I'm losing weight with the biking.

     I'm sorry that I can't add much more to my weekly email, but here's some of what's going on.

     This has been a better week than the past couple of weeks though it has been more wet. We have been blessed with many new investigators this week that show a lot of promise of progression. We will work hard and do our part to teach by the spirit and help them know of the truths we bring. We had a lesson planed with Sara Perez who has a baptismal date, but she was called into work last minute and our appointment canceled. We have another lesson with her this week, and we hope to help her come to know all of the wonderful truths and blessings that this Gospel brings us. This week has also had a great share of cancelations of our appointments, but we've strived to make strong commitments to our lesson times this week, and have a lot of teaching planned. We will be working very hard to accomplish the Lord's work here in Sonoma.

     Here's some more of the investigators that we're working with at the moment: Juan and Clara Saabedra, Velia and Armando, Mike Guzman, and Moises and Berta and their two kids Teresa and Francisco.  The Saabedra family is really great, and hardworking, though very busy. Our hardest step is setting good appointments where we will definitely find them at home and getting them to church. They are worried about their squirmy 1yr old girl will cause too much of a ruckus. We hope help them realize that it'll help their girl calm down as she sees the example that her parents set for her by going to church. Velia and Armando have overcome their doubts about Joseph Smith being a prophet, but they still have small blocks of doubt that we're helping them to overcome through study and prayer. We hope to help them come and be baptized soon. They'll be ready as they feel the spirit confirming our words. Mike Guzman has been progressing rapidly, but he has gotten more work and his schedule is now more crazy than it was before. So now we're going to have to figure out some time that we can get in and teach him, and commit him to baptism. He's ready. The Gutierrez family (Moises and Berta & Co.) was feeling sick, and canceled our last appoinment, but we're meeting with them today, and are excited to teach them. They have a strong family, and we hope to invite them all to baptism. The only problem that hangs in the horizon with them is that Moises smokes and drinks. We will be teaching them the Word of wisdom soon.

     I'm growing as I'm learning where I can apply myself, to grow as a tool and servant of the Lord, and it amazes me how much we really can change. If we are willing and open to it.

     I love the mission and I look forward to helping these my brethren to see the light,

     Your Missionary,

     Elder Mackelprang

     PS Elder Balagna is out and we're getting a new missionary! more next week.

Monday, April 5, 2010

This Week, Happy Easter!

     Hello Friends and Family!

     HAPPY EASTER! I don't know how to say that better than what we have heard from the many inspired speakers at General Conference, but I want to celebrate the Resurrection of our Lord and Savior that made the Plan of Salvation and Happiness possible for us all. It's been slow teaching wise, with many of our appointments cancelling again, but it has been brightened with a baptismal date with Sara Perez, and with the many amazing words of General Conference.

     We have been working a lot with some part member families: Rosy and Matrin Lopez, and RIgoberto and Maria Turcios. We met with the Lopez family last Monday and shared with them about the purpose and eternal nature of families, but something seems to be holding Martin back... we're praying to be able to discern how we can help him overcome whatever is holding him back, because he understands that he needs to be baptized, but he doesn't seem willing to discuss why he wont. He brushes that question off, and changes the subject. We'll be meeting with him again today, and we hope to make more progress with him. The Turcios family had to reschedule our appointment for this week... so when we meet with them this coming week I'll let you know how they're progressing.

     Sara Perez was taught by Elder Knowles and Bro Marshall, and Sis Villalobos while I was on splits with Bro Petersen. Neither of the brethren spoke Spanish, but it allowed us to teach 2 lessons at once. Unfortunately, my lesson didn't show up, and I went contacting with Bro. Petersen. It was a good set of splits. We're excited for her to get baptized on the 1st of May! We were also hoping to extend the baptismal invitation to Mike Guzman as well, but he had to run out of town before our appointment on Friday... the same with many our appointments this week, people were busy, and ended up cancelling. We will continue undaunted, and make sure that we commit them a little more firmly to stick to the time that they meet with us and ask them if they would like a reminder call so that we can make a better use of our time.

     Regarding questions:

  • Yes, there are tailors here, and a few members that are very handy with sewing machines, I'm sure that I'll manage to get a good fit if you guys send me some pants.
  • I don't have an SD card since the one I had was lost with the other camera, but when I find it I'll send it home. I can take more pictures when I get the new SD card though.
  • I'm still doing great with shirts, especially with the new one Mom sent me, thanks Mom.
  • About the earthquake -- I didn't feel anything, I'm always surprised when someone says that there was an earthquake. I did wake up last night, but I didn't feel anything.

     April Fool's Day was fun. As expected I have a story for you guys. We pulled pranks on each other (the English vs. Spanish elders) I'll only mention one here: On each of our sinks we have one of those little hand sprinkler things. However, neither of the sets of us realized that we each had one. So we ended up pulling it on each other with great results very wet missionaries :P. 

     I learned a lot from conference, and I enjoyed it immensely from all of the council it gave to the family, to the youth, and especially to parents. It gave me many thoughts to ponder about the responsibilities I will have as a teacher and father after the mission to children and the raising generation. I also was amazed at how simple, and direct the talks were, and how powerful they were because of it. The speakers spoke with great power and authority that comes from the keys they hold, and from the spirit of revelation that they received. I know that each of those talks were inspired, and that it shows us just how much the family is under attack if all of the talks talked of how we must strengthen our homes. We are in the last days, and we must remain valiant and vigilant from all the many dangers that lurk in the clouds of darkness that surround us. One of my favorites was Boyd K Packer, he hit it home really good with his talk speaking to fathers. That was powerful. I look forward again and comparing the notes that I took listening to him during conference and comparing to what I think when I re-read his talk come May. I also enjoyed seeing and hearing Bro Rasband, I heard him a few times at the MTC and he always had some great remarks concerning missionary work. I know it to be very close to his heart. 

     I loved reading the spiritual thought about "Be Still My Soul" it is also one of my favorite songs; it really does apply to us whenever we are in grief and pain, we must always remember that God is on our side, and that He has conquered all, and He is always there with his hand extended in love towards us, and we must only reach out with our own hands and take His, and we will be lifted out of the clouds of gloom and sorrow that may burden our souls.

     I love my mission! I love the people here in Sonoma, and I love what I'm learning here everyday! Everything gets clearer as I study more and more the many things that we have from the mission library in addition to the scriptures. It makes me understand the story of the recent convert from Germany and what she said, that we truly don't understand, or comprehend what we have. If we did then we would shout it out from the rooftops! We have God's love here on the Earth today! We have evidence of it through the Book of Mormon, a living prophet, and through personal revelation through prayer and the Holy Ghost. We have answers to questions that the entire world is still in the shadow of doubt, but we have the light! Like Christ said unto His disciples, "Hold up your light, that it may shine unto the world, and that people may see it and glory God who is in Heaven." (Matthew 5:17?) I know that this is the Lord's work and that I've been called here to share my testimony to my brothers and sisters here.

     Your missionary,

     Elder Mackelprang

Sunday, April 4, 2010


Here’s the (very late) letter from Richard last week.  I actually got this email on Monday, but didn’t make time to get it posted until today, so the title is very appropriate :-)  We did receive a paper letter from Elder Mackelprang this week, and it has some stories in it.  We’ll try to get some of them posted with his next email.  <<Mark>>


     Hello family!

     Thanks Leah! I appreciate that you still find time with your crazy High school schedule to write to your brother. I understand what you feel about the High school being a spiritually dead place. It can be pretty sad to see everyone else's bad example, and not feel sorry for them, and how they ridicule others. It's tough. But you'll remember the good times, and good friends and things that happened there.

     Wow! I'm always touched by Elder Holland's talk about the solitary journey of the Savior and how He is the only one who could have shouldered that burden totally alone. That understanding of how necessary that was was increased through my reading in Jesus the Christ which I have been devouring ever since I bought it from the visitors center when the Sonoma District and I went to the Temple last Wednesday. I've seen so many things that I've never even imagined to the significance of things that I have "known" but perhaps never fully "understood". It's like there are levels to understanding that I can't even begin to comprehend, and it's breathtaking as it is daunting, that there is so much more for us to learn to follow more in the Savior's footsteps, but wherefore need we fear? He is with us through our journey,and I know that He always will be, and that we are here doing His work, and share His love and light with our Brothers and Sisters here!

     The temple was amazing! I love being able to take the majority of the day to rest, study, and ponder the messages we receive in the Lord's holy house. Like I stated above there is so much for us to learn that it is prideful to try to say, "I've heard it all already." Opening our spiritual ears takes a lot more focus, effort, and humility than people imagine, because we need to listen. It truly is amazing, and yet I can't express in words that can truly explain to others how I feel, what I understand about what I've come to understand... the desire to share it with others, but it doesn't reach them at times. A message so simple in truth, that people take as too good to be true, or too simple to actually be the answer. The Savior says it best that we need to be like little children, children who listen, who ponder, and ask sincerely for truth. It begins to become clearer and clearer to me how amazing this Gospel is and why it is that we need to share it! I love my mission!! I want to see that fire and light in my brother's eyes as they come to know and understand the plan that our Savior has for them! The joy on their faces as they come up from the water with a pure conscience free from sin and guilt. The love they feel from their Heavenly Father and their Savior and friend Jesus Christ.

     The work here has been going well. We're still working with Mike Guzman who is ready to be baptized, we just need to set a date with him. We also have Sara Perez who has clicked with the Book of Mormon and understands what a precious gift it is, and is gaining a testimony of the Church and the Restoration, and should also have a baptismal date soon. Anastacio and Maria Sanchez who are still struggling to make it out to church, but are slowly gaining the understand of the things we are teaching, and gaining the testimony of these things. We're working with Erika whose still learning. She understands things little by little, but we are focusing on getting her to pray so that she receives the understanding.  We are still working with Velia and Armando and their doubts, but they too are beginning to understand bits and pieces of the Gospel that we're teaching. We also have two new investigators this week: Marta, and Maria Turcios. Marta is a total former investigator from almost 15 years ago by her estimate. We shared with her the Restoration and the need for it, a modern prophet, and the Book of Mormon. She likes it, and we believe that she'll progress very well. Maria Turcios is the Catholic wife of a Less Active Rigoberto Turcios. Even though he's less active he is firm in his testimony and studies from the BoM with his children and his wife. His work prevents him from going to church very often, but we're working with his wife to get more steam and more fire built in the family and make it a team effort to get to church, and to help the rest of the family understand the Gospel. The work with the Spanish Branch is coming along slowly, but we have the Bishop working with one of the Recent Converts of about 6 months to get the Melchizedec priesthood, we're excited for him and he's excited to be able to more fully bless his family, and his fellow brethren.

     I got carried away writing to Pres this week, so I ended up running out of time to write about all of my stories that I had prepared... I'll write a letter home with all of the fun stories and then Dad can put them up on the blog or something like that. Stories, funny comments, funny happenings, lots of good stuff. (Your questions will be addressed there too.)

     I miss you all, and I hope that you guys love conference! It's really great stuff!

     Your Son, and Brother,

     Elder Mackelprang

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