Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June Is Ending Already...

Yeah, I look forward to seeing how awesome laptops are when I come home! Seeing all the ads and stuff about laptops now and then help me know how much I love technology, and how much I'm figuring that I want to be a Electrical Engineer with a side of Programming. Imagining all of the things that that path will lead is a lot of fun! However, that's still a long ways ahead. So focusing again. Things have definitely been really hot and surprisingly dry out here. Not to mention windy on top of that. It's almost like being in Arizona again. We've been working with some amazing people, and we have high hopes for them, and for their progress. This week has definitely been better than the last few, which have been pretty slow, but like always there's still room for improvement. I actually came down with a little bug which took me out for a couple of hours last Tuesday. It was something weird with my stomach. Fortunately things were better after a rough night (on Monday) and a little nap that Tuesday. It was really bothering me, and making it hard to focus on anything, especially trying to listen to someone not speaking English. I'm happy that I'm perfectly fine now. Being sick is _never_ fun.

We've run into some new people this week, and we've been working with more of those whom we've been having trouble contacting. So I'm really happy with the way things are going right now. Just keep moving forward and onward.

So this week is a short P-Day for me because I'm going to the temple again! YES!! I hope it will be just as good as it was last time we went around in March/April. It really is a beautiful place, and a big temple in Oakland. Hopefully, some of our plans to take some of our investigators down there will work through.

It's also been a lot of fun seeing all of the different places there are to see here, all of the different unique restaurants that you never see anywhere else. I hope that I get the chance to try some of the other places around here! It's like finding little restaurant or fast-food gems that are only local stores. If we came out as a family I'd know some really good places to go, and could tell you where according to you're hungering for.

Elder Bittner's a great guy. We have our little rough spots sometimes but all-in-all we're close, and we share a lot of interests. He's one of those that I'll still be in touch with every now and then. It's funny how many close friends you can make out here.

It's true that the SR mission will only be what it needs to be if everyone is committed to living the higher standard. To changing what needs to be to follow after Christ. I remember when several people came to Christ to become a disciple or an apostle, and they were commanded to change in some form or another to leave everything and follow Him, putting all other affairs on hold. We have all committed to doing this. It's up to us to make those changes, Christ will walk and lead the way, but we still need to make the effort to follow Him. He'll do all in His power and wisdom to help us on that path, but it is still ours to walk. To learn and grow. We always need to be willing to make that next step, and to keep moving forward even when you feel that it you can't make it, or when you're afraid of not being able to see the road ahead to have the faith in Christ to keep moving, and following in His footsteps. I'm grateful for my Savior and His example for me, and for everything that He has done for me, and all the I know that He will yet do. His sacrifice was endless, His love is unimaginable, and yet I can glimpse at it through this work. If I gain nothing else from this mission experience it will be this: I have come to know and understand my Savior more fully, and deeply than in any other way, and to understand the purpose that He has for me in my life.

I know that there is so much more that  I'm gaining from being out here that all that I'm doing to be out here doesn't merit it. I know that even as I dedicate my all that it may not be enough - but God will work through my efforts and make miracles happen as I am obedient in all things. I know this to be true, and I'm grateful be out here in a time where things are changing for the better, that we're raising the standard and are seeing miracles. Those miracles wont be just with the investigators, but among us missionaries as well.

Here's some of the people we've been working with this week:

Eric Jacobo- He's a young teen that we've been teaching for a couple of weeks. He's had a few rough spots in life, but he's a hard worker, and wants more of God in his life. He's still struggling to read the Book of Mormon on his work schedule everyday, but I know that as he applies himself to reading it and praying about it that he'll know that it's true.

Francisco and Juan (and friends)-He moved from Napa to come out here. He lives in a house full of other Latino people. He loves it when we come over, and he calls us his angels from God. He likes how fortified we are in the scriptures and in God's word, but he seems to not catch the vision of the magnitude of significance of the Restoration. We read from the Book of Mormon this week with him, and he really liked it. I hope that it will help inspire him to read it along with our commitments. He appears to be someone who may take awhile, but I know that even with the most unlikely of people. that if they follow through with the commitments that they'll come to know that this is true.

Veronica and Virginia- They're people that we're teaching the Daily Dose program to. We have talked about the Book of Mormon a little bit, and we're going to be teaching them about the Restoration this coming week. I'm excited for them, and I hope that they will feel the spirit and be willing to follow Jesus Christ by keeping those commitments.

I'm happy here in Fairfield, and I love being with Elder Bittner. He's a funny guy, but he knows what he's doing. I'll laugh if he gets called to be a trainer this coming transfer.

Love you all! I know that this is the true church of Christ, the church that He established on the Earth, and that the Book of Mormon is God's word for our days, and that He has called a living prophet to lead and guide us.

Your missionary, and brother,

Elder Mackelprang

Regarding the package:

  • The last package was wonderful! If it's anything similar to last months package it will be great! I think it would be fun if I had a cake mix or a cookie mix, but I wouldn't want too many of those if you did send one that would be great. Especially, if it was like a red, white, and blue festive type cake mix or something. You guys know me. You always send great stuff.
  • I think that the show is called "sabado gigantes" on Univision Spanish channel 14 (the channel for what broadcasting co. I dunno)
  • There are some amazing things about my mission in my blessing and I feel that Fernando is one of them. I think that there are a few others around here too. I just need to speak out to them.
  • Josh! Have fun at Boy Scouts! Don't give Ben a hard time with the 'gangsta style', or he'll beat you down.
  • Jenna keeping enjoying those books! I saw a cool looking book at Wal-Mart today called the Red Pyramid written by the guy who wrote the Demigod series (Percy Jackson) I'm sure you'll enjoy that. I guess you get the Leah's old laptop, huh? Have fun with it! ;-)
  • Congrats on your new job Leah! I hope that it works out for you! Enjoy your new laptop. 

PS Hey Josh/Leah/Jenna it'd be cool to hear from you guys now that you have some extra time this summer! I hope I hear from you next week!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

This week: Happy Birthday Mom!

Mom, I'll be sending your package today, so look forward to some bellyflops! ^^ It's really good stuff. I'm surprised that the letter got to you so fast, I wouldn't have expected it to get there until today. I guess living next to an air force base expedites the mail travel time ;-P.


The remote control recliner: Well the scouts are also part of a robotics team type thing, so I'm not sure if it was part of some competition, but man it would have been a blast to rig something like that up in boy scouts! Imagine one of those old-school controllers connected to the gizmos underneath the recliner, and you have the machine, with the unique comfortable reclined-ride setting! ^^ That just made me laugh for a good long time. 


Yeah, this areas a great area. All of the members are great, supportive, and hard-working! The ward mission leader's family is great, and we usually eat there Sunday evenings, and just seeing him, and his wife (Bro. and Sis. Alvarez) so excited about the work, and hearing about all of what there doing helps me be pumped and work hard. Sis. Alvarez teaches English classes at her house, and so since they live in a very densely populated Latino area she knocks doors of her neighbors to say hello, and see if they'd be interested. Often times that's how people become more interested in the church, and the gospel. Because they see who we are, and they see something that we have in our lives that they would also like. We have several people that we're teaching because of the new English class program that the church has created to help the Spanish speaking people. I'm still trying to learn where everything is, since that seems to be a weakness of mine (I think I get it from Mom ;-) ) that it takes me a little while to really know an area. I learn my immediate surroundings pretty fast, but it's harder since I'm in a car and I'm in the passengers seat. I get distracted, and don't process how all the streets cross, and how things work as well, but I'm learning little by little.


Trust me if there's any really cool stories I'll let you know.


So this week:


We've been working with some families that have been progressing pretty well:


Rita, Jesus, Eduardo, Jesus Hijo: They're neighbors of a member family in the ward, and they attend English class at that members house. They're listening to the message of the Restoration, and seem excited to progress, and find out for themselves. Rita actually came to church, and really liked it. Hopefully she'll be a moving force to getting the rest of the family there.


Amada Carrillo: she's also an investigator from the Daily Dose program. She was progressing pretty readily, until a week or two ago she ran into and talked with some J-Dubs. So she's kind of confused on things, and she seems scared of finding out for herself through prayer. We hope that the spirit will touch and inspire her towards the necessity of praying to find out. We'll see how it works out.


I pray that the Lord will be with us as we contact the families we teach, This is a big work, but I know that as we are exactly obedient, and we put for our efforts and do our best to plan those efforts to His will that we will find success. Even if those successes aren't readily visible to us. I'm grateful for the opportunity to serve a mission. I'm grateful for the testimony that I strengthened out here, and for the chance I have to share the joy, and happiness with the people here. I know that Love is the driving force of this work, and that without it we really can't do anything. I know that my Savior is with me, and all of us as we seek to do His will, and that He will continually bless us. I know that this church is true, and that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God. I know that the Book of Mormon is the word of God on Earth, and that we can come closer to Christ through it's pages than we can anywhere else. I love you all, and I hope that your are blessed with all that you need.


Your brother and friend,


Elder Mackelprang

Paper Letter From June 17

<<This is a handwritten letter from Elder Mackelprang dated May 31, 2010, received June 17>>

Hello all! This is going to be a general letter to everyone so that I can tell all of the cool stories that I've been unable to related in my emails. Just a warning though, they're not in chronological order.


1. The Moreno family was on national TV. Alan Moreno and his Mom, Ana (Villalobos) Moreno were on Spanish Channel 14 on a show called "Sabado Gigante". It was a Mother's Day special held on May 8th. It was really cool. The Moreno family showed us highlights that they recorded on the TB. We'll see if Dad can find a way to take some clips of the show.


2. Just recently, my new companion, Elder Bittner, and I were going to a zone meeting at the stake center here in Fairfield. When we got their the zone leaders hadn't arrived yet and as we waited outside for them, some scouts brought out a rather strange contraption. Imagine a good sized recliner set on top of an "erector set" built robot car. Or more simply put - a remote controlled recliner. The scouts being adventurous guys they put their little contraption to the test. They also asked my companion to test drive their little machine. It was really impressive. Being a good companion, I recorded Elder Bittner's expedition. If I get the chance, I will send you the video I took.


3. Fernando Franco is the golden investigator. I've never met anyone ever, who has been more prepared to hear and accept the Gospel. He's been faced with opposition on every side as he's been progressing and learning these past 2 weeks, but he has found happiness, joy , fulfillment and love. He's read almost 1/2 of the Book of Mormon last I heard. His baptism was last Saturday. After some struggles and change of plans on the part of his family, Fernando told me that he was ready to ride his bike from Sonoma to Napa (about a 30 minute drive) to be able to make it. He's committed and he'll grow stronger in his faith. He can do great things, and will do great things. It was a great privilege to be able to baptize him.


4. Memories: Something else that I've noticed since I've gotten here in Fairfield are places that I remember visiting almost 10 years ago. Funny comments, conversations, arguments, observations and other things that I remember from walking on the main street with lots of their stores and restaurants (most of which I think are still here). It's great to see things that I've seen back in the day and bring back some of those memories. I'll enjoy going to the Jellybelly factory for sure! It's cool being able to talk to the Hall family (the family I'm living with) since they seem to know about "belly flop" specials.


5. I know that this is one of my really cool stories. Back in Sonoma there was a less-active named Sister Scarioni. During my stay there she never came to church until my 2nd to last Sunday. That day, after Sacrament meeting, she pulled us aside and told us that during that week she was filling up her car when she saw Elder Knowles and I walking. But she saw someone else - she saw Christ walking between me and my companion. She told us that at that moment she knew that it was high time to get back to church. That was a cool experience for me because it gave me assurance that even when it feels like we aren't accomplishing much, Christ is always with us. He will make use of whatever work and effort we give to Him.


That's pretty much all my stories... I'll make sure to make a note of more stories I can tell you guys.




Elder Mackelprang

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Summer Heat...

<<Note – we received a paper letter from Richard this week that I’ll enter in later.  It has several stories in it that we enjoyed hearing>>

     I have taken a few pictures with the new camera you sent me, with Fernando's baptism, but not enough to send it home yet. I'm still working on taking lots of pictures, and trust me there are plenty of good picture taking opportunities here. So it may still take a few more weeks. I have some stories in a letter that I'm sending home to you TODAY. So you'll get that, and I'll let you know some more stories as they come. I actually have a few that I can share with you right now.

     I got to get up close and personal with 10 tigers. That was cool to be able to get right up next to them and see them. My companion had the camera that day, and we took a few pictures, so I should be able to transfer them to the memory card before I send it home. It was cool. The tigers are right next to a great family of investigators, who happened not to be home for an appointment we had, so the big boss who owns the place invited us to come take a look at them. It was fun.

     Also, a couple of weeks ago, we were walking around the neighborhood trying to talk to people when this big Tongan guy comes out of his house and shouts out at us to come talk to him. So we make our way over there, and he invites us in to a graduation party for his sister. It turns out that half of his family (mostly extended) was Mormon, and so we were kinda the life of the party for awhile. It was kinda crazy, and a lot of fun. We got plastic lays filled with candy and someone asked me a question to the effect of 'what are you going to do now?' I shouted that "We're going to Tonga!" Everybody loved that. It was enjoyable. They talked about missionaries that they have out from their family serving around the US. They're cool. We're trying to work with the guy who called us in to see if we can re-activate him. We'll see how that goes.

     That game store sounds like a blast! <Sister Everett will be running a new game store here in Cary NC> I'll enjoy looking through there. I actually will be working on a game I want to create when I get home. It'll be big. A great story. I'd waste a little too much time talking about it, but it gives me so satisfaction to think about it on P-days when I can only just wait on some of the other missionaries that we drive around to help with their laundry.

     Sometimes it seems like being a missionary isn't all that hard because everyone loves you, and they all want to help you, but then you have those experiences with people who just can't wrap their mind around what we have that we can share with them, but they aren't willing to listen, or consider what we have to say... that I think is the hardest part. Having your heart torn, because you love these people whom you're serving, but they just don't want to listen, even if they respect who you are, and what we're doing. I was asked recently why. Why am I out here, serving people I don't know, paying my own way to talk to people? This man couldn't understand why we would sacrifice so much as missionaries to share the Gospel. Why we're willing to leave our families to share this message with others. I tried to share my answer that it's because I know this church is true, and that the Gospel can change the lives of people that we teach. He still didn't understand. The greatest part that I should have mentioned is that it is because of love. Christ's love to leave the 99 to go after the 1, the love to console the tender-hearted and share the burden of those who are heavy-laden. What I have learned out here cannot compare to anything else I could have chosen to do with my life. I have the opportunity to walk as Jesus walked, and see people as He would. To share, serve, and uplift people even as He did. What I gain, is the knowledge of how vast His love and patience is, I glimpse at His mercy, I begin to truly grasp what the Gospel truly is and what it means to me, and to everyone around me. I cannot express the gratitude that I have for the atonement of our Savior Jesus Christ, and the opportunity that He has given me to come out here on a mission. To learn, grow, be guided, and help His work move forward. I love this mission! and I will tell everyone who wants to go out to do whatever it takes to do so! I do not doubt that I will someday echo Elder Holland's words when he said "Everything that I know, and everything that I am has come from serving a mission."

     Here's what's been happening this week:

     This week has also been a little slow with people canceling and just seeming unproductive. It bothers me that we weren't able to achieve as much as we had planned, but it happens. The only thing is to move forward and do better. Things are looking up, though. I wasn't as diligent with setting time aside for tracting as I should have, and we've made up for it this week. We've found some good people to talk to, contact, and start working with. I remember when you said that finding is a continuous process, but I'm still figuring out how to effectively find as I teach, tract, and talk with people. I still have a long way to go, but every journey begins with a first step. 


     We've been working with several people this week:

     The Santiago family: Domingo, Cristina, Cindy, Roberto - they're the referral from the sister missionaries from here in Fairfield. They're a wonderful family who wants to teach their kids more about Christ, His life, and why it's all important. We've committed them to preparing for baptism as they come to know that these things are true, and we've helped them come to know how to feel the Holy Ghost. They were going to show up to church (stake conference), but couldn't make it due to Domingo working late. We hope to set a date with them all soon. At very least with the children with the parents permission. Cindy believes it all, and always tells us about that good feeling that she feels when she prays about the things we teach. The whole family will come around eventually, but the kids are already there.

     The Gutierrez family: Kelyt is the one who's progressing the most out of all of them. It was apparent from when we talked about infant baptism, and the Word of Wisdom that she has a testimony about Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. We hope to help them make those steps they need to make to be able to be prepared and ready to get baptized. They're really a great family (they're the family with the tigers in the backyard)

     I hope you all are well! Congrats to Ben, the Sams, Becca, Jade, and everyone else whom I may be forgetting ( sorry! ) You guys are in for some great times.

     Your friend, brother, and missionary

     Elder Richard Mackelprang

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

School’s Out For The Summer…

<<Sis. Bunker posted some Zone Conference pictures recently on her blog.  Here are the ones that had Elder Mackelprang in them>>

DSC_0088 Richard and his new companion – Elder Bittner
DSC_0106 Elder Mackelprang’s Zone (Fairfield).

     I do in fact have some stories to share, and I wrote them in a letter that I wanted to scan and copy to send to several people, but we don't have access to a library scanner here in the Fairfield Zone.  T.T I was kinda sad since we usually end up going to the stake center for emails, but no one has keys to the library. I may just end up sending you guys the list of stories that I wrote last week and you guys can upload it to the blog or something. It's just going to be difficult to make copies here.

     Life is good here. There have been some really cool things that have happened where random people talk to us and we set up appointments to go see them, and also random Tongan people inviting us over for graduation parties (that was some of the best teriyaki bar-b-q that I've had in a LONG time). Fairfield is also little wild, and dangerous as there have been shootings and murders in some of the areas we work in. Fortunately we haven't been exposed to anything. I will get Mom those bellyflop beans that I promised, and I will be going to the factory today! Unfortunately that will probably mean that my letter writing for this week will suffer... but I'll make it up next week. I know that your prayers are with us.

     Zone conference was awesome as always. It's like a short version of general conference on a very common basis, and it will pretty much be every month that we have one. I love it and I have learned much from President Bunker. He's an amazing man, and he's like another father for me. I'm grateful for his love and example because  I really can feel how sincere it is. I also had the opportunity to share my musical talents there. I sung a solo of "Oh Give Me Back My Prophet Dear" I was pretty nervous since I also sang it a cappella, but I did well.

     I love my mission, and I'm growing in what I know and understand about this amazing Gospel. Please find time to read your scriptures, even if it's just for 5 minutes a day. That's what I tell my investigators that say, "I don't have time." I have seen the blessings and change in the lives of the investigators that sincerely read and do what we've asked. I know that the Lord will always bless us with more strength to move forward if we study his word, and 'drink of His living waters' and quench the thirst of our spirits. I love you all, and I hope life is going well.

     The pictures that Leah and Jenna sent were lovely. :P I think that it's funny how my friends and investigators here can't get their mind around the fact that we're related since I'm a large and in charge giant while Leah and Jenna are thin and good-looking.

     Way to go Josh! 15 miles is a good distance on a bike. I know I've had a lot of fun riding my bike here. I know we'll have some fun riding around together when I get back. (Then again Mom would probably freak out since I ride my bike following all the rules like a car would here in California. :P Fortunately people treat bikes with respect on the road.) Keep working hard on your Scouts, and you'll have a blast!

     This has been a good week! This week has been a little longer than some of the past, but we're making good progress by finding lots of new people to teach, and increasing the number of people that we're teaching overall. I feel that there are still many things that Elder Bittner and I can do to improve the area, and that there are so many people who are just waiting to be found, taught, and baptized. While things aren't improving in a rate that I would like, they are improving. I want to keep moving forward pushing the limits higher and higher. I loved Zone Conference. There were many things that I learned, and goals that I have set for myself and goals that I hope Elder Bittner and I can work on as a companionship. I'm learning more about what I'm doing with the Lord's name, and what I'm doing with the Lord's time. What it truly means to be a representative of Jesus Christ. Learning more of His love for us and for those we teach. This really is our chance to walk the path that He walked, and learn how we can be more like Him.

     Here is some of the new investigators that we're working with:

  • Cindy, Cristina, Domingo, and Roberto Santiago- Cindy was the first one of this family that we taught. She's a 9 y.o. who wants to learn more about Jesus Christ, because she doesn't know much at all Him. We have been teaching the rest of her family and we have commited them to preparing for baptism as they gain a testimony of Joseph Smith, the Restoration, and the Book of Mormon. They were going to be at the Recent Convert meeting yesterday, but they were unable to make it, because Domingo got off of work too late. We're very excited for them.
  • Erik- He's a teenager who likes listening to people who talk about God. It was funny talking to him, since he already believed in things that we shared. He seemed a little reserved about reading and praying about the Book of Mormon, but once he truely reads it, He'll start progressing really well.
  • Enoc- He's someone who has talked with missionaries before, but is interested in learning more about us. He's reading the Book of Mormon, and we hope to help him understand what he needs to do to move forward and learn more.

     Your missionary,


     Elder Mackelprang

June Already!?

Hey Mom, can you forward my emails to John?

  • Transfers were short for me. We have a transfer loop and mine was the first stop after leaving Sonoma. It would have been cool to meet everyone at the mission pres.'s house, but I think that we have too many people and cover too big an area for that to be time effective.
  • Yes, I did get the package. The day after I arrived to Fairfield, actually. It was just in time for Fernando's baptism! I got a few pictures of that. I'll take some more cool pictures of the area and me.
  • Elder Bittner (my new Jr. Companion) is from Mesa, AZ (small world, huh?), and this is his 2nd transfer out here in California. So he's still green behind the ears, but he knows what he's doing, and he's still learning his Spanish. He's a cool kid. This will be a good transfer.
  • I haven't gotten mail from anyone besides the family in awhile, except from Kayla and Elder Roberts, and a wedding announcement from my MTC teacher at BYU. That was entertaining (inside MTC district joke).
  • The big charge from the bike shop was a tune-up that I did on it. I know that the shop is a *wee* bit expensive, but my bike works just like new, so I'm not complaining.
  • Yes, I'm loving the Cracklin' Oat Bran. It is really awesome, but I'll probably run out before the next package :P / :'( I'll have to try to enjoy it while it lasts.
  • The pants are doing great. They are comfortable and durable. I was able to have a Sister that lives in Sonoma to hem up the legs into cuffs so that it wouldn't be so long. So now they look even more stylish. They should last me a good long while.

Mom: I am near the Jelly Belly factory and I'm planning on going sometime soon. I don't know if I'll be able to get you some misfits before your birthday, buy I'll get you some. I promise.

I may have to write you guys a letter home with some of the stories that have happened this week. There's too many and I'm already a little over time.

I love you all!

Your missionary

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.