Saturday, September 10, 2011

There’s No Place Like Home…

Richard flew in from Santa Rosa California at about 8:40pm on Wednesday evening. Here are some photos of his return and his release…

175788_10150303024648409_540173408_8108006_1595104362_o Waiting for the passengers to disembark.
286434_10150303026613409_540173408_8108011_361601609_o Here he comes!!!
329208_10150303031178409_540173408_8108049_1591513515_o Josh was the first to run up and give Richard a hug. Followed closely by Hope and Jenna.
290198_10150303038943409_540173408_8108096_506820725_o Together again!
314434_10150303042763409_540173408_8108157_525479656_n Walking out to the parking lot.
291592_10150304617103409_540173408_8116657_202905720_o Just after Richard was released by President Maxwell, before he reported to the High Council.
330545_10150304617673409_540173408_8116658_1999666761_o A more natural view of the family Smile

We’re all very happy to have him safely home!!!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

I'm Coming Home!

Hello again.

I got special permission to write home today, so here’s a note from the last day of my mission.

I'm sending this right after my Zone Conference, and before I head to President's house for dinner, etc. It's been a very interesting day... We covered a lot of basics, and I know that the mission is in good hands.

It's still kind of a unbelievable and gradual thing to actually realize that I'm coming home... I wont be here in California soon... in just about 24 hours... I'll be home... I'm happy and excited, but it is saddening how difficult it will be to leave this place.

I know that I have done great good for the people here. I know that I have learned a lot, and I know that I can be true to myself, and I know how to do what the Lord has called me to do. I see many blessings being fulfilled in my life, and I know it is only the beginning. I fear the trials and hardships that lie ahead, because I feel that there will be many when I least expect it...

I fear what the future may hold, but I know that I can have faith and hope in the Lord to be my strength. I know that He loves me, and that He will sustain me if I will reach out and grab His out-stretched hand. He is always waiting for us, lovingly, longingly, for us to come home.

Why do we wander? Why do we wallow in sin, which only brings us unhappiness? Our joy is light, and our light comes from our Eternal Father. He gives us all the light that we can hold, but we need to cleave unto that light, or we become filled with darkness. Bitterness. Regret. Hatred. All these things are misery. The devil will laugh as he continues to instill these feelings into people everywhere as he reigns Babylon and her whimful pleasures.

We have been commanded from a prophet today to stand in holy places, and I would repeat that inspired council. Stand in the place that will not fall, where we CANNOT fall. Even to the temple, the House of Holiness, The House of our God. Go often. I speak to those who live in my home boundaries. We live Easily within 10 minutes of our Apex temple. 

I wont tell you how often you should attend, but re-evaluate your commitment to the Savior and what He has to teach you about His Gospel in His holy house. Follow the directions and inspiration that you receive.

In Zone Conference, I gave my departing testimony about change. I recounted my feelings, fears, etc. that I had before coming out to serve. I remembered missionaries talking about completely being changed. That they were no longer the same person. I feared that. I feared change. I liked who I was, I knew of things that I wanted to change, and needed to change, but I was afraid. That fear held me back. Since then I've learned that I can be who I am, and still change. I've learned that there is nothing to fear about change, because change is the only constant. Change will continue to be the only constant until we become even as our Heavenly Father, and Jesus Christ.

I'm out of time, we're off to President's house now, but I thought you'd enjoy this taste of spiritual learning that I've had here in the mission, and in my Zone Conference.

I love you all, and I'll see you all in about 24 hours! 

Love, 

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Monday, September 5, 2011

Well, It's Been Fun. So long NorCal!

Mom's email

:-) You made me laugh inside, and smile quite a few times. I didn't realize that I was supposed to count. I liked your snake story, or the "encounter of the scaly kind." ;-) We always have funny happenings at our house. And people wonder where I learned to laugh...  The Smoothies recipes you mentioned sound really good, and I'll enjoy going on the campout _this week_ with Joshua and his troop, and I'll talk to you alllllllll about this when I see you on Wednesday evening. I haven't seen Aunt Marsha yet, but we will soon. I'm alive, and I'm excited to come home. I love you MOM! You have a big hug waiting for you! ;-)  

Dad's Email

It will certainly be nice to spend some time with Aunt Marsha.  I’m glad I have permission to visit with her today (Labor Day). It's funny how I end up seeing her and the family on holidays. ;-)

It sounds like Seminary is going or will be going great!

Thanks for the heads up about the people who want me to talk in church.  I'm not too surprised that I'm getting asked to give several Church talks. I was expecting it.

I’m impressed with Joshua’s scouting! Finishing his Life award while he’s 13!!  Way to go!

Well I'm getting into shape again being on bike, and I'll be there in person soon enough! TTYL.

Love you all!

Your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Last Week of Coincidences

DSC_0365 Napa & Vallejo Zones with Napa Stake President Frye.  Elder Mackelprang is on the far right.  This was just before the move he mentions below.

So yeah. There was a big unexpected upset last Friday when I received a phone call from the Mission Office, and was told that I was going in a Zebra Trio (2 English, and me the Spanish)  for my last week of my mission. So to add to the irony that I'm dying in my Greenie area, I'm staying in the same apartment that was my first home as a greenie, where I first got trained, and had my first Christmas. Talk about returning to the land of my first inheritance (to die)! So I know that there's only 1 week left, but I would absolutely love someone to send me a letter this last week to break the myth that no one writes a missionary on their last week of their missions. I'd really appreciate it. 

DAD'S Email

That's wild that you guys had an earthquake. I actually have never noticed a single earthquake since I've been here. Maybe I'm not just paying attention, or I may just be a good luck charm. But I have had people ALL of this week telling me about how there was an earthquake back there, and how some buildings fell down, etc. Yeah, I was beginning to worry, but then I remembered how the media tends to sensationalize things, and how hurricanes leave nothing but rain at our house, and how the Lord is taking extra care in your welfare right now. So I'm glad that nothing happened.

I do like the idea of BBQing some ribs when I get home.

Jenna let me know that you made her seminary class president. I'm sure that you'll rock the seminary world. You seem to be a popular teacher.

I'm excited about coming home too, but I'm still focusing on being hard-working. I know that Andrew and I will have some fun, especially with Matthew getting home. Good times are ahead of us. 9 more days!

?'s

  • Do you want to run with us in the Greensboro 5K in October?  Yes, I'll be joining you for early morning jogs, etc. The more the merrier. I'll sell Joshua on the idea.
  • Do you want us to make any special arrangements or plans for the first few day’s you’re home?  I'll figure out exactly what I want to do the first few days home, but I REALLY would like to go to the DMV and get my license back. One that I wont have to worry about for 4 years! :-P But I'll let you know next week.  <<Editor’s Note: Elder Mackelprang’s driver’s license expired a few months ago, and NC won’t renew unless you’re on military leave, or renew in person>>
  • Are you going to need another memory card for pictures, or do you have room on it for this week?  I've been taking more and more pictures. My card still has room sufficient for these last few days. Don't worry about it. I'll be taking more.
  • You’re reporting to the High Council next Thursday.  Have you thought about your report?  I haven't thought about that report actually. I wasn't familiar with what they'd be asking me. So thanks for the heads up.

MOM'S Email

;-) No worries Mom. I'll write next week! I can't promise how long it'll be but I'll write, and tell you that I'm alive, and about any close calls with getting run over... oh yeah. I forgot to mention that I'm on bike again, up in Santa Rosa. Aunt Marsha may have told you, but I'm in Santa Rosa again for this last week, and I'm on bike. So I get to start losing weight again! I'll be more prepped for exercising with everyone when I get home. I may get the chance to see Aunt Marsha again; she said something about not having school on Labor Day, so it may be just 2 or 3 days before I come home. That made me laugh. But how can I say no?

I'm sure that I'll have plenty to do when I get home, and getting my license again will be very nice! I feel very locked up and constrained because I cannot drive. I still don't understand how some people still don't go get their licenses. It makes the world a lot easier. Better a busy calendar than a really blank one. I'm sure I'll have some time to rest and prep myself to go back to school, but I'll get it all done. I look forward to it. It's time for the next step, the next chapter of my life.

I've heard from MANY people that the East Coast felt a tremor. So, I figured that it's mostly over-excitement since I myself remembered how much our relatives would always over-react to hurricanes coming our way. I've had fun explaining that our area is too far in-land to be much of a hurricane hazard. I think people like to over-embellish the stories they hear on the media. I can imagine you with your umbrella just under the home depot entrance and fighting with your umbrella until you take the 20 steps to the door. :-) It made me smile.

It'll be interesting to see just how much my little Squash has grown. I'm sure I can't call him Squashy-Joshy anymore. He's probably big enough to actually try to tackle me. I'm sure that we will have some fun times ahead of us. We'll make some memories for sure.

I've heard about Dad losing weight, and I'm proud of him! I'll have to follow suit so that we are all going in the right direction. I agree with your philosophy, but there is a time where it's nice to know about the numbers. It can be a good impetus to get you started, which is the hardest part. 

I know that the Lord has blessed us greatly, and that this is only the beginning. I know that there may be trials in store ahead, but that I need to focus on today, and fight for today, and let tomorrow come. I'm grateful for all that I have seen and done here, and I'm grateful for the blessings and growth that I've experienced from having served here. I know that it is the beginning of many great things in my life. It really is a new beginning.

P.S. I will challenge you to keep writing weekly updates as a journal entry, and I will follow up with that when I get home! I've learned about inviting and helping other people make and keep goals, so you better watch out! ;-)

Yep, so I'm outta time. See y'all soon!

Love your son,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Monday, August 22, 2011

2 Weeks... Is It Really True?

MOM's Email

It's Alright Mom, I understand why you didn’t write last week. I heard from Dad that you weren't feeling very well. I know that I don't get very sick very often, but when I do I remember why it is that nothing gets done when you're sick. No worries.

I did enjoy the Taylor's visit. It was funny what you were telling me about how lucky I am to see them so often, because Aunt Marsha was saying that she loved the fact that I was so close here, because she's seen me more often here than she does outside the mission. ;-) It's true. I'm blessed, and I'm probably going to see them again next year after the winter semester at BYU Provo. I'm planning to road trip with Robert back to Santa Rosa next April and visit the mission before President Bunker ships home. I think it'd be a great opportunity. But we'll see how that one plays out. I was very happy and excited to get the jam and the pie. I wasn't expecting it at all. I'm very grateful that he took the time to handpick the berries, and cook them up himself. I'm impressed at his cooking skill. The Chinese restaurant was good, and I realized when I went with the Taylors that I swear that it's a restaurant that we went to as a family when we visited California as a family several years back. It's called China Wok, and there's a "One of a Kind Barbie Museum" behind it. I remember Dad making a funny comment about it, and about a comment I made about the family meal on their menu. It was interesting. It's crazy how all of these random, strange memories come back to me as I go and see these places, and serve here. It's actually really cool.

I was pondering on the changes that I have seen in myself as you were closing off your letter to me. Ironically I have gone back to reviewing the first "records" of my 2nd 3 months in the mission journal. It's interesting to see how my outlook and character have matured since then, but I have also seen the "normal" me peering out as I realize that my time is coming to an end as a full-time missionary. I realize that I can't go back to where I was, and that the only real way to go, is forward, with purpose. So I know that even though I wont progress as rapidly as I have here, and even though I will still have a lot of the same likes, and hobbies, I'll be more in control of who I am, and rise up to what is expected of me.  

I have had some weird dreams about coming home last week, but not so much this week. I know that it'll be a weird adjustment at first, but I know that I'll adjust quickly. That's something I'm improved on is adjusting to new circumstances.

I'm definitely excited to see Bishop Anderson again. I guess it's the Lord motivating me to go to singles ward. He already has several enticements there already to motivate me to go, so it seems like I'll go there. I hope that I enjoy it more than before my mission. I also hope that girls aren't chasing me around anywhere. :-P But then again, I'm not so good-looking as I was before the mission, so I'll have some time to burn the fat again. I do look forward to being in a choir again. I need to stretch out my bass notes again. I definitely don't want to lose my contra-bass notes. ;-)  

I'll pull that little brother of mine into some exercise, or he might not get to play and have fun playing games with his older brother. No, I wont be manipulative, but I'll encourage him. I promised him some bike rides, and we'll go on some walks for sure. I'm sure I can think of some ways to encourage him. I don't blame him though. I was the exact same way if you remember. exercise, and goal setting were some of the banes of my existence. We can help him. We'll get there.

Your letter hasn't made me more trunky. I appreciate the updates. It was a great letter. I'm sure that things will feel very different and strange when I get home, but life moves on. Have a great week Mom! Love you!

DAD's Email

I'm glad that Joshua is progressing so much on his scouting. I'll make sure to help him out with all of that when I get home.

Good luck going back to school Jenna!

I have the opportunity to go to the temple my last time in the mission this Saturday. I get to go to the Spanish session again! I'm going to love that. It was SO clear, and I could understand it all wonderfully last time. I look forward to this temple trip, and going again when I come home.

We definitely need to be more appreciative of the Holy Ghost. He is the key to all of this. We are trying to explain a 3 dimensional concept to a 2 dimensional people, conceptually speaking. Look up the Holy Ghost in the Bible Dictionary. There's some homework/ study to prep y'all for school. ;-)

Questions:

  1. Any recent pictures?  I did take just a few pictures today, but I lent the card reader to a missionary last week, and he broke the SD card slot trying to put his card into it backwards. So you'll just have to wait for 2 weeks until I bring the last few pictures home. I'm not very picture-taking savvy. Even though I keep the camera hidden in the car, the picture moments don't seem to occur very often. *shrug* I'll be taking pictures of me and the members during these last Sundays so that I can have some pictures to talk about.  
  2. How’s the journal coming along? I have filled a good portion of my missionary journal. The regularity in journal entries vary, but it's about 1 a week, sometimes, 1 every 2 weeks. I'm doing a speedier version of the transcribing of the first 6 months of my mission, where I wrote a few notes about every single day. That was interesting, and is interesting seeing the changes from about 2 years ago to now.
  3. Have you had time to send testimonies / notes to any old investigators or members?  I still have been writing regularly to a less active I helped reactivate in Rohnert Park. I actually got a letter this week saying that he finally got the Melchezidek Priesthood! I was way excited about that! He is a great man, and I don't want to lose contact with him. I don't have current addresses on other people that I would like to write. Latino culture tends to move a lot here in the states.
  4. Any investigators progressing well?  I've been working with Saul, but it seems his cold feet are determined not to get wet before I leave. I have faith to make some great things happen before I go, but Saul seemed like the best and greatest opportunity to have a baptism as I leave. Well, I know that he WILL get baptized, even if it's not before I go home. If anything else he's become a good friend. At very least I'll have Jorge Giron on track to get his mission papers started! He will make a great missionary. He will have to face many challenges to go, but I know that he can do it. I'll be there encouraging him the entire way!

Other than that, I'm just working hard, and doing all I can to leave this place better than when I found it. I love you all! I look forward to seeing you soon! Keep the faith! God will provide.

Love your son, friend, and missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Just a Few Weeks Left

DAD's Email

So this week. This has been a really good week. We've met a lot of people, and have been doing a lot of work. It's been great to see just how great the work is, and with the end in sight it's finally starting to begin to sink in that I'm really going to be leaving this place... Even with that in mind, I'm still plowing ahead at full speed to get things done, and to achieve those goals that I spoke about last week. I'm loving it here, and I'll be sad to leave, even though I am excited to come home. For a new chapter in my life. Things have changed, and they will continue to change, and something that the Lord has been teaching me in these last few weeks is how to really deal with change. So, even though the future may hold some interesting things, or maybe even scary things, I know that if we trust in the Lord and press onward then we will have nothing to fear.

Jenna & Leah's Daycare adventure. I'm glad that Leah was successful, and enjoyed her endeavors in taking care of all those kids. I've seen the spectrum of how crazy kids can be from visiting people's houses... It can get pretty crazy. Good job Leah! Good Luck on your new job hunting.

I also got my flight itinerary this week as well. That was cool. That was part of the sinking in that I'm going home. I think that it's funny that they make suggestions to help you try to not make me trunky, but with things as they are with everyone asking me when I'm going home, there really isn't any help for it.

The "new me." Well. I know that I have changed somewhat from the beginning of my mission. But I like to think that for the most part that I am the same person at heart. It's hard to express, but I think that most of the changes that do take place are the small, and sometimes subtle ones, but I can understand how they are great at the same time, since you're changing the path you will walk for the rest of your life. It can be pretty deep stuff to meditate about.

I’m sorry so many of the family is having trouble on the "cold" front. The Flu bug just loves to jump around doesn't it? I'm glad that I've only had 1 sick day on the mission. That was a very off day. It felt weird being in the apartment all day, and not being able to leave. we'll see what it's like being home.

Love your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang 

1 Month Remaining...

MOM's Email

Well, only one month... I'll definitely go out fighting! I've a few goals in mind on what I want to accomplish here with my last 3 weeks. I have 3 goals:

  1. Help Jorge start his mission papers
  2. Help Saul get baptized (he can be baptized whenever he wants to, he just has to commit himself. He's already had the interview and everything.)
  3. Help Yolanda reach her baptismal date for the 20th of August.

I haven't heard Jenna or Leah talk about their little daycare for a few weeks. I hope that it's going well.

:-) Mom, you're an awesome teacher. I know that I'm unfamiliar with teaching teenagers, although I can imagine it's a tough task to take on the 10-second attention-span of this new generation. But the Gospel helps us, and participation is definitely key in all of that. Asking good ?'s is one such way to teach effectively and help you understand if they understand what you're teaching them. I would recommend Preach My Gospel chapter 10 if you want to ponder on some teaching techniques that you want to try. I know that those are invaluable tools in teaching. It sounds like you're doing a great job, and I have full confidence in you and your abilities. Everybody loves you, because of the spirit you carry, and I know that it must affect the girls. Even if it seems that they aren't paying attention all the time, the words of Christ will sink into their hearts, and it will bless them one day. (I was reminded of a conference talk from not too long ago that mentioned Alma the Younger, not really listening, but when he came to that Crisis, he REMEMBERED the words that his father spoke. The Lord will provide, and direct your steps. You're doing a good work. Keep it up!

WHAT!?!?! YOU!? JOGGING!?!? I'm just kidding! ;-) That's great! I'll definitely need some help getting back into the full work-out routine now that I'll be dead focused in getting a job and losing weight, and preparing for college, and a calling and so forth. Too many projects, and too little time. :-) We'll just make the best of it.

DAD's Email

1. Stake Priesthood Meeting. Those meetings were pretty memorable. We have some very inspired and humble men in our stake. I hope that it remains that way. It'll be hard to see President Maxwell released here in a few years. Those sounded like great talks. That's interesting that there is emphasis on retention of Returned Missionaries. I would have thought that it wouldn't have been as difficult for RM's to re-integrate.... I don't forsee that being a problem, but I can understand that I will face challenges that I may not yet forsee. But from everything I've learned out here, and from the people's lives that I've helped change, I know that I can't let that happen, if not for me then, for them. If I become as hypocritical to tell them how to change their lives and live the Gospel in the face of challenges and I can't myself? I would be less than a man, and a liar. I have too many people's faces reminding me of who's watching me and my example. That WILL NOT HAPPEN! It makes my blood want to boil.

2. I did receive that calendar invitation to meet with the Stake Presidency. That's funny that Matthew and I will be there the same day at the same time. We seem to bump into each other a lot that way... ;-)

3. For the 5k in October, I dunno if I can run it, but I'll certainly join the family in it. Leah's the speed racer of the family, but it'll help me get back into shape. Well, we'll certainly see wont we?

4. Happy Wedding Day to my friend Erik Wells! Enjoy your wedding day to the love of your life, forever and always! Thus begins a new chapter for your life. Good luck my friend, until we meet again!

5. Yep. Leah told me that Andrew is her Home Teacher. I didn't hear who Andrew's home-teaching companion was, but I imagine that it might be someone I know. I had that call as the bulletin specialist when I was at the BYU ward at college. :-) She probably is doing more with it than I did. I didn't have a lot of tools to work with since I was only able to use Google to make it.  

6. I'll be there to help encourage you to jog, and will even jog with you. We'll make it work. We both need to exercise more, and I'll enjoy having someone there with me. It's easier to have a jogging buddy, so to lose yourself jogging while listening to music.

Questions:

A. Well, I don't have any stories that I can think of, but... I dunno. I'll write some down, and send it in a letter sometime soon. speaking of, I need a few more stamps, I'll be using the last of the stamps today, that Mom sent me about a month ago. I did have a funny experience last Saturday accidentally leaving the mission boundaries, and going over the bridge over into Crokett, and immediately turning around and coming back only to run into a toll booth that we didn't see until it was too late to turn back, and what's worse is that we didn't have any cash on us, and it was cash only. So the $5 toll became a $30 fine (with the original fee included). *sigh* That's one thing that I really hate about California. Stupid toll bridges... So I'm stuck since I just get by with what I get from the mission office for food, and living expenses... My companion expects me to pay half of the fine with money that I don't have... Could you help me out by sending me $15? and a few stamps? We had some bad luck last week. :-P

B. When I get home, I'll probably just want to sleep in a little bit since I'm going to have a little jet-lag, but I really don't know. I'll look at my bucket list and look at some things that we could do as you, Mom, and me to have some fun those first 2 days, and as a family on those nights.

C. I'm still progressing by playing basketball in the mornings, I've lost 15 lbs so far (in the past 2 months), but I need to lose a whole lot more. So It's a slow process, especially with such a regimented schedule. I like more flexible ones. (hence I want to sleep in a little, and then figure out what I want to do when I get home. ;-)

I love you all! I hope to see you soon!

Love your son and missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Happy August!

MOM's Email

Yep. I'm starting to see the time sift through my fingers too... 5 weeks, and about 35 days left... :-P that's really crazy!

We'll definitely get the chance to go to the Spanish branch together, and it'll be fun to talk to Matthew and Andrew in Spanish. It'll be good to have people to practice with.

Good luck with school Joshua! Work hard! And have Fun!

Teaching. It's very important. I've learned a lot about it, but there's always something left for us to learn. I could definitely teach English. Or at least I'd like to think so... so we'll see what happens. Maybe I can teach at the MTC. Just know that you're testimony is heard, and since you were called to be the YW Pres. That it is helping some young lady there through whatever struggles she may have. I know that because I know how impacted I was by Eric Wells, and Bro. Wells as well. He had a very big impact on my life. I will very fondly remember those days. You're playing a very big, and important part in some youth's life. I testify of that. Follow the spirit, and one day, whether it be here or the next life, you'll see just how much you did for those girls. 

DAD's Email

Congratulations to Brittany on her new job! NYC, huh? That sounds like a great trip. I'm glad that you got to see Aunt Diana and Uncle Mike, and Brittany. I'm sure that you had fun looking at her trip pictures. I don't think I have as many. It's just difficult for me to find the right moment / inspiration to take some. I'll make sure to take some pictures today. 

I didn't go to cafe Rio very often when I was going to BYU. I was stuck on foot. I didn't have any people with whom to go to Cafe Rio, nor the money to spend there either. That may change since I may be more of an explorer when I get home.

Joshua's awesome. :-) I know he's way excited to see me, and to play with me, etc. I'm excited to see him too. We're going to have lots of fun. Thanks for your love and support Josh!

  1. My companion's name is Elder Polson. He's from Colorado, just south of Denver. Somewhere near Castle Rock.  He's shorter, and quite the fireball of energy. He can be socially awkward sometimes, but he has a great heart, and he loves the people. He struggles with a short attention span as well. He's a great companion and he tries to help out in every way he can, so it's good, but we're different. It's difficult to explain, but I'll leave it at that. We get along, and work well together, but we're very different. Pictures will be forth-coming soon.
  2. I will be getting to see the Taylor clan one last time, probably in 2 weeks, they really want to take my companion and me out for dinner. It will be very nice to spend some time with them before I come home.
  3. I still haven't gotten my Flight info yet, but I imagine that I will very soon. I appreciate your copy of the info. I imagine that I'll be getting the info sometime this week.

Well family mine. There's about 35 days left... So I'll see you REALLY soon! I'm working hard and I'm feeling great! So I'll see you! Be well, and stay safe!

Your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Another Transfer, Another Week

Hey everyone! *Whew!* It's been a great week, with lots of great experiences with finding some great new people, and adjusting to a new companion, and really carrying the area.

Like I said last week, I'm still here in Vallejo, and will be until I come home, and things are moving along quickly. Faster than I probably realize, but as long as I'm focused and working hard then I wont worry about it.

It seems that everyday someone asks me how long I've been out, and my companions tell them EXACTLY how much longer I have... :-P It's kinda funny, but I'm not worried about it. I'm glad that I'm around some of my favorite friends, and companions for this last hurrah! I'll make it memorable.

This week will be interesting, especially since I will probably get the chance to sit in on one of our recent converts Patriarchal blessing! He's almost completed his year, and we're helping him prepare for serving a mission of his own, and helping his brother get baptized. It's really great!  I'm keeping busy, and positive about how everything is going. Here's my comments about your emails.

MOM's Email

Mom subbing in Primary. That just seems really natural. Then again, since I have lots of memories of her serving in Primary I guess I just generally think that way.

The Singles Ward  finally meets in the Cary building. That will be an adventure when the time comes. I'll be able to choose between the Spanish Branch, the Singles Ward, and the Cary 2nd ward. :-) The best 3 choices I could ever wish for.

I'm not the best as recounting Missionary experiences. I will probably have some good stories to tell, but I'm not good at recounting stories from memory. I'll do my best to have some good stories for y'all. ;-)

Andrew – thanks for the letter.  Keep up the good work! Good luck on your finals!

I know that many things have happened in "My House" since I've been gone.  I am expecting lots of changes. I might actually be surprised that not all that much has changed. I guess I'll see soon enough.

Finding a job will be interesting. It'll be nice to have a job where I can practice my Spanish. It's a great skill that I love that I have.

I'm glad that you all have had a great summer. Summer is wrapping up to a close. Enjoy every last minute of it.

DAD's Email

Weathers nice here in Cali. I'm glad I get to skip out on the hot times out there. It sounds pretty grim.

I'm excited for the Hanging Rock camping trip in October. Yeah that'll be nice. I look forward to being able to appreciate nature more now.

Wow... That's a lot of pork you guys pulled for Youth Conference... 200 lbs. That just sounds intense. I'm sure Youth Conference was a blast, but Jenna was too tired to relate all of her tales and experiences with that. Hopefully I'll hear about that soon.

I hope that I can go boating when I get home... everyone will probably be back into school mode though... rats. Well, I'll see how we can set up a boating trip sometime later.

The Youth Talent shows. What memories. Cary 2nd ward Priests never fail to live up to high standards. They certainly have followed the crazy humor of what I remember of my times in the Youth program. Keep the dream alive! ;-)

I'm working hard, and I will endure to the end. It looks like it'll be a challenge, but what accomplishment comes with no effort? See you all soon!

The church is true!

Your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Saturday, July 23, 2011

50 Days Remaining...

DAD'S Email

The Beach house sounds like you had an awesome time! I'm excited to go there. Next summer will be an exciting one indeed... ;-)  I can’t believe we've been having wildfires back there in NC.  I kind of expect that in the western US but not there. That's pretty crazy!

I liked the story of Mom getting scared by the crab. Sounds like Mom. She does have the best scream ever. I guess I'm just like you on that Dad. :-)

I'm trying to be more prolific at taking pictures, but I don't carry my camera with me at all times. But I do have some pictures to send you. I sent you some pictures a few weeks ago... did you get those? I'll send some via email, but if not then I'll just bring my camera with me home. I don't want to chance another wiped card. 

We're driving all the time – no bike riding at all. I'd die if I tried to ride my bike, and if I didn't my bike would. There are lots of hills EVERYWHERE. We walk a lot, and we get in some really good exercise in the morning. I'm losing weight, so I'm happy. I'll be looking forward to running again and losing more when I get home though. I'm going to be donating my bike to one of the missionaries who are coming in this next transfer. Some family will appreciate not having to spend lots of money to buy a new one, and less trouble and hassle trying to get it home. 

The missionary work is going great! We're still doing lots of finding, but we have some really great investigators, and they are progressing quite well. 

I write a less active member that I re-activated in Rohnert Park, but the other people that I have met have all changed address, and I don't have contact info for them now. I know how sweet it is to be able to hear from those you helped, and hear their testimonies growing. I will have my best missionary friends right here with me, to the very end. ;-) We just had transfers, so it's official that I'll be here in Vallejo until I return home. I have a new Companion named Elder Pulson. I'll get a picture of him and me soon.

 

MOM'S Email

I'm looking pretty tan, so I think we'll all be looking pretty good, we'll see how long those beach tans last! ;-) I'll be out in the sun everyday! Someone mentioned to me yesterday that my hair was starting to turn blonde, so I must be getting some sun for that to start happening. So Mom, yeah, you'll probably be the only white skin in our family. Some people ask me if I'm a Latino. :-) It makes me smile.

Mom, I've come to the conclusion that you're never going to be finished with the house Smile  It just never seems to end. I think there may just always be that little something to touch up on; at least in regards to the house as a whole. But I hope that you finish and enjoy your room, because I remember all those years that you wished you could finish it, or fix it up, or have it completely clean and organized, etc. I'm sure you'll be happier to have your room taken care of.

-Hmmm.... What would I say or share to the Cary 2nd Ward Newsletter of my adventures? Well... It's really the joy of adventure. The true meaning of success. It is sometimes erroneously purported that success is an "arrival" that you become the "best" and then that's the end. From what I've learned, and what I'm learning, and understanding, success comes in the journey. For a mission, success isn't measured by the number of baptisms you have, there are plenty of diligent, hard-working, 100% obedient missionaries who don't get 1 baptism in their missions. Sometimes that one person that one soul that we bring to God is ourselves. We follow the path the Savior walked for 2 years. We share, and bear our hearts out to strangers who really are our brothers and sisters. We learn how to have Christ-like love, charity for all the we meet. We grow, because God lifts us on His shoulders, and we act as His tools, as His power to spread the truth of His Gospel to every ear, in every tongue, to every land. I know this is true. I know that I have had a successful mission, because even though I haven't been a perfect missionary, I have become more perfected as a Son of God, I have been blessed to find and share the gospel with many special and elect people, and be able to baptize some, but the success is that I myself have come closer to my Savior. I know Him, and I strive to strengthen that relationship that others have with their Savior, Jesus Christ. The Restored Gospel is true. I know that He lives, and love me. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ Amen. I love you all! I look forward to seeing you all soon!

Love your Son, and missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Oak Island Vacation!!!

DAD's EMAIL

Cool! The beach trip sounds like you're all having lots of fun. enjoy those ocean breezes, I love them!!!  They're really nice.

So, Leah's room is getting remodeled. Again. :P How many times is that now, dear sister?

I'm so happy for Jenna, that she could attend EFY. I know that she learned a lot there. :) Keep those goals you made Jenna!

Your work projects sound really cool! I'd enjoy hearing about some of those projects sometime.

  1. Yes we did watch the fireworks. Although the trees prevented us seeing all of them. :( But it was nice being with the other missionaries that live in our apartment complex and have some fun for the 4th. 
  2. Our investigator pool is doing very well. Things are improving, and we're finding more people little by little. There have been some really cool experiences, but I'll save that for #5. We have a few people attending church. So it's nice.
  3. If we knew where we could pick blackberries then we'd probably go, but we don't have a single clue. I'll ask one of the members around here if they know. I remember that trip to Santa Rosa we made all those years ago. I still remember picking those blackberries, and making blackberry syrup for pancakes... yuuummmy. 
  4. Transfer information comes out this Saturday. I think that I'm most likely staying, but it's my last transfer, so who knows what will happen! I really hope that I stay.
  5. Elder Glaus and I get along really well. It's also nice having Elder Brickey (former companion), and Elder Estep serving in the branch. It makes things nicer. I'm among friends. As for spiritual stories and what-not I do have a sweet experience at one of the dinners we had this week. So her name is sis Angin. She is a member who lives here in Vallejo, but attends the branch in Fairfield. (long story). But she is married to a non-member. We go over to see her a couple times a month for dinners. So this time, we happened to have dinner as usual, and the husband kind and courtious as always excuses himself before we end with a prayer to prepare for the next day (for work.) It just so happened that I was asked to give the prayer. While praying I was prompted to pray for her husband that he would one day prepared to hear and accept the gospel. Afterwards with tears in her eyes, she thanked me, and told me, "Of  _all_  the missionaries who have come over for dinner (she's been a member for a LONG time) you are the first one to have prayed for my husband to be able to accept the Gospel." I was really touched, and I know that because the Lord prompted me that way, that he will be prepared one day. I know that she must pray diligently, and longfully for that day. I know that God will answer her prayers. There was a couple of really cool experiences when I was asked to give blessings, and those were very special moments for me. It almost seems more special to do it in Spanish than in English. But that's all that I really remember of the cool experiences for this week. I'll let you know of more later.

MOM's email

Oh the days of the Priest Quorum Quartet (PQQ). by the way, I sang a duet with my friend Elder Estep. All seven verses of “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief”, with many different harmonies.  We performed it for Zone Conference last Friday.  Zone conference! I finally got see my trainer give his departing testimony. He leaves next week. :P Crazy. I'm trying not to think too hard about my time coming to an end as well. There were quite of few pictures that were taken of me there. I'm sure Dad is getting them as we speak. The pictures I sent to you are mainly of me and my companion with 2 people. #1 my investigator Saul, and #2 Jorge (short with glasses, preparing for a mission). These guys are really cool, and really special. I'm glad that I'm their friend.

Well, I'm out of time, but I'm keeping busy, and I'm doing all that I can to get lots of work done. i love you all and I'll see you all in less than 2 months!! (dun dun dun!)

Love your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

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IMG_0207 Zone Conference
IMG_0209 Zone Conference

July 4th! 9 Weeks Left!!

Hello Everyone! Happy 4th of July! Enjoy the Fireworks!

This week has been a fast one, and a great one! This next week will be even better with Zone Conference on Friday! We found 5 new people that we're teaching right now, and they all seem really cool. There really isn't any way to describe this work other than miraculous! I'm seeing miracles happen everyday, due to the faith and prayers of myself, my companion, other missionaries, and all the people who are praying in our behalf. It is amazing to see the desire for change in these people's lives, and it is a great privilege to help them learn how to help themselves change for the better. My how the time is flying... it'll be over way too soon...

Yeah fireworks, we should have a great view of them from our apartment tonight!

The boys are at camp. Sounds just like the old days when I was in Boy Scouts. :) Joshua will have lots of fun!

:) Yay, for Singles Ward moving into the Cary building!

Swimming, I'm going to be doing more of that. My exercise routine is working good. I'll be doing my jogging stuff, and trying out swimming more to burn off those calories.

Well, 9 weeks until I'm home... it's really flying... It's kinda crazy :P I'm working on getting rid of things that I don't need, and giving away stuff to other missionaries, etc. It'll be so easy to pack this time around... I've gotten rid of a lot of unnecessary items, most of which are for my desk.

I wrote Erik not too long ago, and he wrote me this week! :) it'll be good to see him at BYU whether or not he's still single. ;-)

Things are interesting. It will be cool to see how things fly as time moves on. What jobs everyone ends up going for, etc..

Well, I love you all, and I hope that you are enjoying your summer. May God bless you, and watch over you. I know that Christ lives. I know that He loves us, and watches over us. I know that He waits for us with open arms, and calls out to us to come home. May we truly understand repentance, and it's role in our lives. I know that the Book of Mormon is true, and that it can truly bless our lives with knowledge and understanding of Jesus Christ, and what He expects of us. I invite those of you who don't know that the Book of Mormon is true to read it! study it. Meditate on it's message, and pray to God the Father in the name of Jesus Christ to truly know if the book is true. I know that He will answer us, because He loves us.

Fare thee well, my fellow brothers and sisters.

Elder Richard Mackelprang

10 Weeks Remaining...

MOM's Email

:-) Yes I got your letter. The mail seems to get here super fast here. I got your letter on Saturday, even though you said you sent it on Thursday in your letter. That was pretty crazy. The same with the package, they both got here ridiculously fast...

It should be pretty cool to see all the changes to the house and every thing else there. It will be different, but all for the better.

Next week is the 4th of July! Woah! :P P-Days on holiday Mondays are a pain for missionaries, so we'll see what madness is in store for us next week. I can't complain, because I'll be getting a pancake breakfast next week. So I'll have some things to look forward to, but I may end up trying to look for some fireworks, but I'll see if that's permissible next week. We'll see how much the singles ward has changed since I was there. I got a feeling of immaturity when I was there, and that bugged me, but if Leah feels that it's good, then it may have improved.

Good luck with Leah and Jenna's Daycare idea. I hope that it is being successful.

It was fun to hear about the family cleaning day... :P I can understand more of where your coming from with that, because I've become more of an organized clean freak when it comes to the kitchen and my desk... so our house may end up staying cleaner when I get home.

 

DAD's Email

Mom, and my dear sisters are always very loved. They are all awesome. I hope that they do well with their daycare project. 

Is Leah preparing you guys for a 5k walk? or a 5k run? 5k walk isn't bad, Lake Johnson is more than 5k if I'm remembering my measurements right (~4mi > 5k)?. That could be fun. I'll have to prepare myself to see if I can jog it all. I heard from a member who's a professional runner that shin splints can come from several different sources, but that the main cause is usually the form that you walk. You can probably find out some more about it online. 

I really don't remember Falls Lake, but I would imagine that I've been there at least once... It'd be nice to go there again sometime.    

Mom let me know in here snail mail how much everyone enjoyed the card I sent you. :) I knew that it was the one when I found it last week.

Good luck with Japan Ben! you'll do great!

Welcome home Leah! Enjoy yourself.

Good luck at scout camp Joshua! Have fun! Earn lots of Merit Badges!

 

Questions

  1. Can you send pictures?  I'm trying to be more camera-picture-taking-minded but it's still a work in process. I'll send some pictures of me and some of the members soon.
  2. Did you get the pictures we sent?  I did get the pictures that were in the package. They were really nice. I can't believe how big Joshua's getting, and now that he's losing his blonde hair. :P Craazy! Jenna looked very nice for her Rose Prom pictures.
  3. Do you think you’ll get transferred? I wont know if I'm moving until mid-July, but my guess is that I'll stay here to finish off my mission. 
  4. How deep is your “gator” pool?  Our investigator is pool is decent, but there are a lot of people who we can only see once a week, or sometimes that we aren't able to contact on some weeks, so we're work hard on finding right now, but we've seen a LOT of miracles happening as a zone from that. So it's growing slowly, but it should be great!

This week has been awesome! There have been many spiritual experiences, and amazing people that are ready to change their lives and progress in the Gospel. My testimony continues to grow and be fortified through these experiences, and the the joy I feel seeing the love of our Savior in active motion working in the lives of these people. I know my Savior lives! I know that He loves me, and each and every single one of you! I know that He has a plan for us that will enable us to be happy, forever. Keep working hard, and do what is right!

Love your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Summer is Here! Father's Day Approaches...

DAD's EMAIL

I’m proud of my family doing missionary work! Yeah! I hope that the dinner with the missionaries and their investigator goes well. Those lessons taught in Members homes can be some of the strongest lessons and teaching opportunities that you can find. That is from personal experience. It's a great thing.

Josh and EOGs. I think it's ridiculous to have classes 3 weeks after the tests are over. What's the point? It just doesn't make sense.

Jenna is Jenna, our prolific reader. :)  I hope she’s enjoying having some more time to read.  She probably has some good books for me to take on when I get back.

Happy Early Birthday Mom! Have a great one!  :)

Do I get to use some of the iTunes gift card when I get back? I'll have to listen the new Cars Cd sometime.

As Matthew Watkins would always say, "Leah Maria make me-a tortilla!" Leah's coming home this week. Awesome. We'll see how everyone adjusts to her being home. 

Q&A

  • The Baptism was awesome! :) My comp Elder Glaus, baptized the "recent convert" and I baptized the younger brother, the "child of record." This song is actually the 4th time we sung in consecutive weeks at baptisms. 3 being Spanish, 2 being ours. :-D  I do have a great singing companion and we do some great things to harmonize and our voices blend very nicely together. It's reminiscent of the PriestQuorumQuintet days. I looking forward to singing when I get back. If Joshua's voice is deep enough I'll start teaching him bass. He'll thank me later for it. ;-) We've been singing in Spanish as well, so it's been very cool. We sang "Brightly Beams our Father's Mercy" = "Brillan Rayos de Clamencia" 
  • My clothes are doing fine. When there are small rips and tears I sew them up and they're good as new. I've become quite good at sewing things. :P The bike is doing well, but I lent it to another missionary because his bike got stolen. (he just got transferred, so I have it back.) I'm thinking that I may just try to sell the bike to another missionary before I come home... I'll let you know if I need anything.
  • We don't have any miraculous tracting or contacting stories, but we have met some pretty amazing people who have overcome drug addictions here, but coming to Jesus in their various faiths. Those were some very interesting conversations.
  • Dinners are 99% with Hispanic families, but every once in awhile we'll eat with some Gringos, mostly that always know Spanish. Go figure. We have some amazing members, but I would take another hour talking about them all. We get dinners pretty much every night, most of the Latino wards are good about that except for my first area (being a greenie in Santa Rosa) which looking back is understandable because there were six of us missionaries.
  • I’m getting along fine with my expired drivers License. Just not doing the driving now. 

I know my time is far spent.  :) I'll get my rocket boosters going. Turning on the jets and getting some more work done. I do need to turn up the heat, even though I'm seeing that we're already accomplishing a *lot*. I'm moving forward, and will be excited to make miracles happen here in Vallejo.

MOM's EMAIL 

  • I’m looking forward to the package you sent! Yay! Oooooo, tape recording! It'll be nice to hear your voices again.
  • Moe Joe's burgers sounds great! The Inferno Burger sounds like a worthy challenge. Grilled Jalapenos are worse than regular ones. It all has to do with the oils.
  • Devin Romney, Congrats on your mission call. Tempe, Arizona. That's where I was born! Spanish culture is something you'll never forget.
  • I actually enjoy cooking. There are some days where I really don't want to bother with it, but that's life. I can cook just about anything, recipe or no.
  • Good luck with the health conscious change. I dunno if I can give up on your fabulous homemade bread though Mom. It's not worth giving up.
  • Father's Day is here! That's pretty wild! It's just another reminder that home is around the corner...
  • Singing has been awesome. Everyone just loves it. see Dad's email for more details.
  • Don't die up there at Girl's camp Mom! :) I'm not worried, you can handle it, you raised us 4 kids! Ha! :-D

Things have been going well here! I'm loving life, and working hard. I'll make these last few months the best. :) It'll be nice to have some mail this week. I love you all!

Love your son and missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Two Transfers / Three Months / < 100 Days Remain…

MOM'S EMAIL

It's not the first time I've heard or thought about singing Happy P-Day to the Happy Birthday tune. I can imagine it perfectly. Although if you want to send me something on a recording you can ask Kayla to come over, she has a recorder that we've sent each other back and forth a few times. :) If you want to.

The baptism was fantastic! That was the 2nd week in a row that I've sung a musical number with another Spanish Elder, Elder Estep. Another best friend. He lives in Georgia. Has a great voice. We sang again this past Saturday for one of their baptisms, and we will be singing again this Saturday for ours this Saturday. So I've gotten a lot of singing in! I've loved it though. :P We're getting popular! Everyone wants us to sing at the baptisms now.

Robert has been very diligent in his studies. I commend him in that. I hope that I can work as hard and put my heart into my studies. I know I can, but I have to love what I'm doing. So that's why I think I can work with the Animation program. It'll be a challenge, but it'll be worth it.

I'm proud that Leah has grown up so much since I was home. She used to be holed up in the house all the time, and now she's started to use her wings. :) It'll be good to see how things will fit together with the family when we're all back together. The other kids have been growing so much too... it's a little weird being the eldest, but I wouldn't give up on the privileges it comes with. ;-)

Exercise. Yeah. :P. The balance between exercise and proper diet is a hard one. Especially since we love bread so much. Your homemade bread can't be matched.

I would like a package if that's alright with you.

List:

  • Teriyaki Beef Jerky (Dr. G recommended it as a good snack)
  • stamps (probably 30)
  • drawings/ letters/ etc. from the kids and from my mission buddies
  • *small* goodies/ a few chocolates
  • pictures?
  • something nostalgic? just an idea. I really don't know what.

DAD'S EMAIL

  • Seminary Teacher again, huh Dad? You must be pretty awesome! 5 years running.
  • Rose Prom. Dances are awesome, but the guys are scared. They fear rejection. That's sad.
  • Less than 100 days! I figured that out this past Wednesday. That was pretty intense.
  • Here is the summer! Scout Camp!!!
  • Rachelle Romney's Missionary Farewell. Good luck in Chile! Dios este contigo hasta vernos!
  • Wait -- Christina Hiltscher is getting married? Huh. I guess it was bound to happen. How has she been doing in BYU-Hawaii?
  • I am planning on have lunch with Aunt Marsha and the Taylor clan in early August. That should be a wonderful treat.
  • The weather is mixed right now. small rain some days, and brilliant sunshine on others.

How's the exercise program going?

  • I'm back on the full hour exercise. Running to the church building (about 1 mi with hills) and doing some basketball afterwards with some other missionaries. It's going well, and I'm more now than ever working on learning on how to live on healthy foods for cheap... I'm still learning, and I'm cutting down my portions, which is only a problem with some dinners with members.

Any chance you can send more pictures?

  • There will be another baptism this Saturday, and I will have more pictures there. Next week.

Any stories about people your teaching you can share with us?

  • I do have a very sweet story. I believe that I told you about how Teresa got baptized, and how her husband has done a complete 180 with his feelings towards the church. Things having been rocketing along with them, because we went to the temple this past Saturday! We went to the Visitor's Center first, and then we helped Teresa go do Baptisms for the Dead. It was very busy so we were directed to do endowments. But it was a sweet moment to have our so recently converted sister come to the temple with us. It was a little rainy that day, and we didn't have the time to take a picture with us and them there... I regretted that even as we were leaving, but we had to go. However, in the Visitor's center the Sister missionaries and ourselves helped Antonio (Teresa's husband) set a baptismal date! For the 25th of June! I know he can make it, and even though he's apprehensive about it I know he can make it. It's really awesome.

I love you all and I hope that you have a fantastic week! 

Love,

Elder Mackelprang

Memorial Day!!

*DADs email*

:) Hey! That sounds like you guys are having a lot of fun over there. It's cool that you are working on developing apps for Mac systems. I'm wanting to learn more about programming as well, so it'll be cool to see what your new system can do. :)

:) Don't worry. I'll make these the best 100 days ever. They're going to be some of the most effective days of my life! I know that I have a second wind hidden somewhere in this hulky body of mine. ;-) Onward, ever onward. I will glory in His name. He will lead me, and guide, even walk beside me as I do His work. His will will I do. I'm especially pumped at the moment because I watched one of my investigators get baptized on Sunday, and I participated in my first Confirmation ever! Period. It was in Spanish, and I couldn't even remember the beginning of the prayer in English, so I the Branch President ended up reminding me how it went. The investigator's name is Teresa Solis. She's only been studying with us for 4 *_weeks_*. She's a golden superstar member now! Her husband was a roadblock to begin with, but since he came to the baptism, and to church to see her confirmed (he held the microphone for me, it was sweet. :) His attitude has changed, and he sincerely wants to know and understand. So we ended up teaching him last night, and picking him up as a new investigator. He has accepted to be baptized when he knows it's true, and you could tell that he meant it. That lesson was one of the best. The spirit was there throughout and help each of us understand and communicate clearly. Miracles do happen, and as we keep working hard, and have faith then our lives will shine even brighter. Those who seek that light will be attracted to us, because the light of the Gospel is the solace that everyone yearns for in this ever increasingly dark and riotous world. Let your light shine forth! Be thou an example of the believers! You know what you should do, what you ought to do, but will you do it? Hope becomes faith as we put forth our efforts to make our hopes and dreams come true. When the element of love comes into play with that hope and faith then you have a vibrant flame that cannot be vanquished! I know my Savior lives! I know that we can move forward through any trial and hardship, no matter how difficult, if we are willing and humble enough to constantly kneel before our maker and work with Him to make our lives change. I have experienced that miraculous change in my life, and I know that I still have many other challenges to face ahead, but like Nephi of old I can say, "But I know in whom I have trusted..." (2 Nephi 4) Trust in God, and obey His commandments. They are there for our good, and to help us be happy. Those who scoff, and scorn are those who are prideful, and most oftentimes ignorant of the blessings that are experienced as we give our will to the Father. There is a sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes from no other source, but from Heaven. I know my Father lives! He loves me, and watches over me. I fight for Him! I fight for my brothers and sisters who are struggling and searching for peace in their lives... I fight to help our Father's children come home. I love you all, and I pray that you are all safe, and doing well.

Your missionary,

Elder Mackelprang

PS enjoy the pictures from the baptism, and the one of me drinking natural Mexican coconut milk for the first time.

*Moms Email*

Dear Mom,

Hey! That's great that your vanity is coming through. :P Just another thing that'll be different about the house when I get home. JK Smile  I know that I'll still recognize everything for the most part. Things are looking good, and I feel happier here now than I have in a long time. Things are moving forward, and I know that I'm improving myself as much as I am helping others.

Keep up the good work with fellowshipping. Keep inviting them to activities, and find small chances to talk about gospel principles. It doesn't have to be a 7 course meal on the Gospel, but it can be a fruit snack. There are small, but powerful ways to share the Gospel. It only takes the open eye, and the courageous and loving heart to act on those opportunities.

:) I think it's great that Jenna is getting her dating in. I could have done better with dating as a priest. Dating can be a lot of fun! Go Jenna!

I'm proud to hear that everything is going well with the ward being so awesome with sending out missionaries! :) It's also nice to know that we've kept that number really high! 8 missionaries out. I'm impressed. That's great that Ainsley was made a DL. The Salt Lake Visitor's Center is one of the only places you'll find a Sister missionary District Leader. I'd love to hear how the other missionaries are faring in their parts of the field.

I'm pumped and excited. I know that this is the last leg, and that being so I'm not going to let that be a weak finish. I will finish strong. I know I can. I know I will.

I'm down to 10 stamps :P so if that package is coming soon then it'd be nice if I could have another batch of 20. I'm averaging about 4 letters a week now!

con mucho amor,

tu hijo mayor. ;-)

<<Lots of Love, Your Older Sibling>>

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3 Months Remain...

Hello Everyone!

<Dad's Email>

:) I appreciate the joke of the day! I like getting another chance to laugh. Sometimes I need more things to laugh about!

Vallejo is hustling and bustling, and we're happily preparing for our baptism this coming Saturday! A young lady (22 y.o.) named Teresa Solis, is getting baptized at 1pm this Saturday! She's one of the most faithful investigators I have had the chance to teach. This will also be one of the few baptisms that I have had the chance to be here to prepare, and help follow through afterwards. She has also asked me to confirm her, which will be the first confirmation that I will have ever done. I'm excited, and I'm happy here. Things are going along well, and time is flying although you do still have those days where everything falls through the floor, and you have to find things to do.

:( It's sad to hear that the Lete's are moving... Everyone that I know seems to be leaving the best ward in the world! Bro Lete's ribs are indeed the best I've ever had. We WILL try his recipie if he gave it to us.

Congratulations Joshua on your patriarchal blessing! I hope that it means a lot to you. It will help you in your life.

Jenna, congrats on your performance with the Cary High Choir!

<Mom's email>

That sounds pretty exciting! I can remember being in the office with Patriarch Stevens. I remember it taking awhile, but I do remember his booming voice. It was more calming for me though. I appreciate deeper voices. Patriarch Stevens will always have a special place in my heart. He's a great man. I think it's great that we (all of us kids) got to receive our blessings from him. I still have some work to do to meet all of those blessings, and promises, and also the expectations that the Lord has in store for me, but I'm another step forward. I look forward to learning more as I move along.

The Church is true, and I'm learning more and more deeply just how important it is to read the Book of Mormon everyday, and coming to church every week. I also am beginning to understand how our prayers can be more meaningful and effective as we put our whole hearts before Him. We are here to know Him, and if we search for Him with faith, then He will reveal Himself unto us. I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ's church, and didn't just set up his own. I know that you can know this truth for yourselves. If you will be humble enough to read the book of Mormon, consider it's teachings, and then asking God if those teachings, and also the Book of Mormon are true.

I love you all, and I'll keep you all posted!

I promise pictures next week.

Your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Monday, May 16, 2011

All Mission Conference

Hey All,

We had 4 members of the quorum of the 70 meet with us last Saturday, including Pres. Snow. We almost had Elder Andersen of the 12 come as well. We are a truly blessed mission. They said we're still #1 for the biggest increase of baptisms in the entire world. :) Yeah! It was a spiritual feast.

Patriarchal blessing! Woot! go Josh – I’m way proud of you!

Missionary week for both Jenna and Josh -- It's a great opportunity for learning. Try to set goals for yourself about what you want to learn from this experience. Whether it's something to help you to prepare for a mission, or some other goal in your life. It will help.

:( No Father and Sons campout getting cancelled because of rain... That's really sad. I always enjoyed those. Hopefully they'll postpone it until I get back! ;-)

Keep it up everyone! School's almost out!  Endure to the end!!

I'll be writing Ben today.

Hopefully you wont get swamped keeping my website up-to-date Dad.  <<Editor’s note – he guilted me into getting all these updates done Smile>>

Dad’s Questions:

  1. There's only me and my comp in my current apartment. Which I probably prefer.
  2. Our set of apartments is a gated community. We hardly see anyone, and it's pretty secure. The area round about is pretty nice considering that we're so close to the bay. It's refreshing. It's also very hilly. It's just slightly reminiscent of North Carolina.
  3. We have the car everyday, but we do some really good exercise at the church in the mornings with early morning basketball, etc. I'm keeping myself in shape.
  4. I don't have any interesting pictures, but I'll have some soon.
  5. I hear that there are scary things that happen on those streets, but I haven't seen or felt anything to make me worry. For the most part gangs don't trouble us anyway. I'm not worried, but I'm not going to do anything stupid.

Story of other missionaries:

Elder Ames and his companion were zone leaders here in Vallejo and they were walking around talking to people when a group of 10 year old kids come out of nowhere and surround them, and ask them what's in their backpacks. I don't remember if the kids were armed, but what Ames said was that he knew that someone was teaching these kids how to be gangsters, and it was probably older siblings. So even though they could have fought off those kids, he didn't want to have any really dangerous people after him. :) crazy huh?

I heard this quote at my last Zone Conference, it's pretty powerful. I love Elder Holland. I can see him being apart of the first presidency someday:

Elder Holland from an MTC Devotional Address on January 11, 2011.

“We can get better at this. We can do better at this. We can grow into this. But it is going to take a masterful, modern, twenty-first century, last and greatest of all dispensations, kind of missionary to do it. And I love you for accepting the call. I love you for believing and knowing that you can do it because this is God’s work, the Spirit of the Lord is the key, essential, ultimate, ingredient.


The Spirit of the Lord itself will pronounce that gift upon your head and endow that mantle of authority upon your shoulders, from the first day, from the very first day! If you are as honest as we are pleading with you to be, in a day when you have got to be the best missionaries this Church has ever had. That’s what you’ve got to be.


We have a world in trouble. If we understand these scriptures it’s not over yet. You are God’s answer. You’re the hope of Israel. You are the hope of Israel. And you’re nineteen years old, or twenty or twenty one or twenty two or whatever. I stand all amazed at what a missionary is in this Church! What God would somehow know and have the confidence to believe could be done with people like you and people like me. Its a marvelous work and a wonder.”

Well everything's going great! And I love Vallejo! I hope everyone's doing well!!

Love your missionary,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Post Mother's Day P-Day!

MOMs EMAIL

That was sweet! I did enjoy that phone call! We're going so fast, and are doing so much that I'm loving it! The days are whizzing past me, but I'm not as concerned because I know I'm doing all I can to help the people here. A funny thing happened yesterday. I felt like I should call Aunt Marsha to wish her a happy Mother's Day as well, but ironically due to something weird happening I ended up talking to Robert first. That was fun to talk to both of them as well yesterday. I'm thinking that I'm going to take a road trip to California after the Winter Semester 2012... at least that's the idea at the moment. I still have no idea about the details, but I thought that that would be fun. I'd get to see my mission President before he gets released that July, and the other families that I taught, and members that I befriended.  I hope I can work it out.

Even though Vallejo is a “bad” part of the area, I'm not on foot enough to be really scared about getting held up, and I don't take my camera around enough with me to worry about it getting stolen either. I really just carry my scripture case and pass along cards. They'd have nothing to steal. Too bad for them.

:) It's too bad that I didn't get a chance to hear your Spanish when you spoke in the branch. You might be able to understand what I speak and say in the Branch when I give my homecoming talk. I'm thinking that I may just stick with the branch for awhile, just so I can adjust to my new life being home. But we'll see what happens.

I'm glad you had a fantastic Mother's Day / Week-end / etc.! I hope that we can have some fun together as a family when I get back. Have fun with your new gifts, and presents. :) I'll see y'all soon!

PS I'll be happily awaiting the stamps!

DADs EMAIL

That's cool that you're helping me out with researching the career paths. I'm not just going for game design (although that would be cool too.) but I'm thinking about CGI stuff as well. Save a copy of what you've found and I'll dig through it when I get home. I'm sure that looking at the various fields that there are now would be helpful. I'm also considering learning mandarin / or Japanese to further my value as a worker, then you and I could have some secret conversations, or just laugh that everyone else doesn't understand. ;-)

I'll figure out the details when I get home. I have ideas, and plans, but they need to wait.

Zone conference this week was awesome, and it involved us taking another step up from where we were at to a higher plane. Teach short lessons (5 minutes or less, depending on time) to people who will talk to us on the streets, and invite them to act on our message. Even set baptismal dates with people if so inspired. It was intense. President Bunker also taught us some amazing things with the scriptures, and I learned a lot and was able to piece some things that I've been studying about the law of Justice, and Mercy into place. It's deep, but surprisingly simple at the same time.

I'll get to experience more humidity here in Vallejo since it's closer to the bay, but it's starting to warm up here too. :) We'll see just how much a change it is from home in 4 months.

Our Zone Conference was on 5 de Mayo. We went out to a Mexican restaurant to celebrate. Nothing super special though.

It's funny seeing the Latinos driving around with Mexican flags, and having parties, etc. Latinos party when they can find any excuse to party. :) And they party good!

The chapel address is:

110 Los Santos Ct
VALLEJO, CA 94590

Well sorry this is so short. But we talked about almost everything yesterday. :-P So, I love you and I hope that you're doing well!

Love your son,

Elder Richard Mackelprang

Vallejo Week 2 Begins / Mother's Day Approaches

Dad's Email

It's crazy! I'm out of time to comment more about your email since I sent you pictures. I hope you like them. I'll write a letter to Kayla about what's all happened this week, and she can share it with you. You can see what's all happened.

  1. My companions name is Elder Glaus. He's only a transfer or 2 younger than me. He's awesome, tall, blonde and hard working. I sent you a picture of him in the other email. He's from Florida, but he's also from Las Vegas. He like Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. I also served around him when I was in Sonoma. I was around when he was a greenie. He's a great kid.
  2. Vallejo Zone. Quite literally the ghetto. It's very poor, and as a consequence there is a lot of crime, gangs, etc. I don't have any personal experiences, but I've heard lots of stories from missionaries who have served here. I'll let you know what happens.
  3. I'm driving again. That's a surprise. I like the apartment. It's pretty nice, and It's not too big, and not too small. I have the biggest desk that I've ever had on the mission. I like it! :) Other than the small kitchen I don't have any complaints.
  4. I'm planning on calling you guys at 2pm your time. that should be 11am my time. I don't think that Skype is approved last I heard.
  5. Anything you want to send me is fine. I'm actually going to be needing new shoes again. So if you could include some shoe money I'd be grateful. (I know. again. I hate it. Stinking shoes.)
  6. I have sent you pictures. I'm keeping the card because of your advice.

Mom's Email

I have been thinking about how much Joshua has grown recently. It'll be a surprise to see how much he has grown.

I'm thinking that I'll be calling around 11am here, so that should be 2pm there, (I checked the schedule so that should work for you hopefully). Our meetings don't start until 1pm, and I don't think we'll have meetings that morning. It should be good.

I’m glad Leah likes BYU.  I’ve told her again and again that Provo is better. Now she sees for herself what I've been saying all along. :) It just rocks. I'm going back there. Leah is trying to help her roommates out everywhere. She tried to send me pictures, and have me write her roommate, but it didn't work out.

Vallejo is great! I'll tell you about it soon!

Lots of Love

Elder Mackelprang

Pictures!

Here's a generous handful of pictures that I've taken recently. I was going to send home the card, but I guess we don't want to risk damaging all of the pictures like last time.... that's such a bummer, I had lots of cool pictures on that SD card that got destroyed in the mail. Enjoy!

DSCN0794  
DSCN0802  
DSCN0808  
DSCN1515  
DSCN1517  
DSCN1518  
DSCN1521  

Happy Easter Surprise!!

Hey I'm at a new address. I got transferred. To Vallejo!

Things are good. I'm alive.

From DAD's email:

Go Ben! Woot! I'm sure he's loving his Japanese.

Happy Easter! I hope that everyone enjoyed it!

That's sad that the rainstorm killed your campout... I'm sure that the kids still had fun in the tent in the living room though.

:P I hope that Leah's letter is still there (BYUI) waiting for her. I sent it almost 2 weeks ago. Good luck at Provo!

Thanks for the help Dad. I'll find a job. Can you see if the Best Buy near our house is hiring? I'm still going to try to work for the Geek Squad, that would be fun.

The music at church went great! Still not as good as the Cary 2nd choir, but it was reminiscent. :) It's too bad I couldn't hear our choir sing it.

There is nothing to do in Dixon on a PDay. Absolutely nada. The other missionaries are too far out to want to do anything with us, so we're stuck with cleaning, drawing, and writing letters. I don't know what there is to do here in Vallejo, now that I'm here, but I'll get to know more as we move along.

We just went to the temple a few weeks ago. I forgot to mention it in my letter. since I'm in a new area that actually works for sending pictures I'll send pictures I took there in a moment.

We have an All-mission conference in about 2 weeks. The rumor is that Elder Neil L. Andersen of the quorum of the 12 apostles will be meeting with us. That should be interesting. I was in the Woodland zone in Dixon, and now I'm in the Vallejo zone, back in a Spanish branch with my people. Vallejo is supposed to be the ghetto of the mission. Lots of gangs, gangsters, and crime. Ironically, all the missionaries want to come here. :) Everything looks good so far.

From MOM's email:

Hey Mom! I did get your letter! I loved it, but surprise! I got transferred, so I may be behind some of those letters that just got sent :( I got letters from Grandma Johnson, Aunt Marsha, Robert, and Andrew, and a package from Kayla :). I don't know if there is more coming, but I left plenty of notes asking the new Elders in Dixon to forward my mail to me.

I think I already sent Kenny's letter to him, hopefully it got there before he moved, I don't know if I sent it to his new address. That's funny about losing your voice! Wow... We could have sung in harmony! :P I heard in Grandma's letter about Leah being asked out. It'd be great to hear how that went from her words. :)

Happy Birthday Sis Everett!! May it be a happy one! I don't have as much time to write today because of transfers, but I'll still be a writing machine!

Thanks for all of your love and support.

Elder Mackelprang

Monday, April 18, 2011

Birthdays Everywhere! 3 Transfers Remain…

Hello Family!

So you've all been asking for a cool spiritual experience lately, so I'll share something special that happened yesterday. So we were out contacting a few people that the ward wanted us to go see, and while we were out walking, I decided to cut through the park to save on time. So as we're cutting across I see a Latino family a little ways off, and they're all playing soccer, and having a blast as a family. I smiled, but didn't think anything of it. As we get across and are walking up the side walk passing by the family, one of the women calls out to us "!Hermanos!" Oh! I thought, they must be members if they recognize us like that, so I waved. She called again, "!Hermanos!" Then I realized with my very dense head that she wanted to talk to us. So we walk over, and I start talking to her since I'm the lone Spanish missionary in my companionship. I didn't recognize her, or her family at first, but as we started talking I began to realize that this was a family that I had taught periodically while I was in Fairfield! One of the family members lived out in the fields here in Dixon, and the rest of the family lived on a Ranch between Rio Vista, and Fairfield where there are tons of windmills! Apparently the missionaries had stopped visiting them after I had left and they hadn't been visited in almost a year! They both wanted missionaries over again, and so I was happy to oblige. It was like a little sign from the Lord that yes, I was supposed to be here in Dixon, even though things are slow right now, and that yes, He has a work for me to do. It was inspiring, since it's been difficult to have a super strong faith in the work here with things going so slowly with our investigators in Dixon right now. A inspiring and gentle rebuke that the Lord is in control, and that I need to have more faith in Him, and rely more on Him to accomplish what He would have me do. I know that He lives, and that He leads us and guides, even on a daily basis, if we will be humble, ask for direction, then LISTEN. That can be the hardest part sometimes. :P  May we all have the ability to move forward, and follow the example of our Savior Jesus Christ, and change. Whatever is holding us back let us change. Our ultimate desire is freedom, and we truly can become free as we master our feelings, appetites, and whatever may push us towards sorrow and misery. Be the master, be the captain of your soul. For that is your unalienable right. This is the test of life.  

Congrats on your Cary High “Green Tie Gala” concert Jenna! I wish I could have been there!

Happy 13th Birthday to my little Brother Josh! I know he had a blast at his party.

Also Happy 24th Birthday to my cousin Robert! Hopefully he got my letter that I sent off to Leah...

I hope that everyone is OK. Tornados, huh? I'd have never thought we would have problems with those.

You guys seem to really like Bahama Grill. We'll have to go there. Have you made a list of the top 5 places you want to take me to when I get back? :) I like good food.

So Ben's over here near the West Coast now, huh? That's funny. He's probably in SLC right now. It'll be weird that I wont get to see him for a long time. I hope that he had a chance to write, or that he will have a chance to write at some point. We'll see what happens.

Hey Jenna, How do you like driving on your own? :) I'm sure it's fun.

Have fun camping at Jordan Lake!

Dad's Questions

  1. <<We got an email from a family you met who knows another family here in the Apex Stake.  Tell us about that>>  The Wadell family is a family here in the ward. Sis Wadell apparently grew up with and/ or college roommates with Sister Garner (in Cary 1st ward?). We stopped by because her son was part of the focus 15, and they both happened to be there, and when I mentioned that I was from around Raleigh she talked about Sis Garner being from Cary. I smiled, and told her that's where I was from. Being here in California I haven't found very many people at all who have heard of it. So it's cool to see how small the world is sometimes.
  2. <<Have you sung or spoken in Church recently?  Is your ward all English, or is there a Spanish Branch in Dixon?>>  I haven't spoken or sung in church recently, Although I'm part of the ward choir at the members request. We'll be singing this next Sunday, "This is the Christ" I love that song! I remember singing that with our ward choir back home. Oh how I miss it! I am working on building a Spanish branch in Dixon. But for right now it's just an English ward.
  3. <<How are your clothes holding out?>> My clothes are holding out. Everything is flat here, so the biking isn't super strenuous, nor straining on my clothing, and since I'm slimming down, my clothes are fitting better. Things should be fine. I'll let you know if there are any problems.
  4. <<When are transfers?  Do you think you’ll stay in Dixon, or do you think you’ll move this time?>>  Transfers are next week. Although I'm 99% sure that I'll still be here, so I'm not worried. It's the last 2 transfers after that will keep me guessing. wow... I only have a total of 3 transfers left. 4.5 months... WEIRD and funky, but not quite trippy :-P.

Mom’s Email

I figured that I was going to get asked to speak in the Branch anyway. :) So go ahead and tell them to expect me Smile. I impress everyone out here with my Spanish. I look forward to seeing what they will think of my Spanish now -- I still remember them teasing me about my Spanish before I left.

I hope that the Wells are getting along well. I still need to write Erik back... I wonder if you can ask Sis Wells about his address. Speaking about addresses, have anyone been able to get Uncle Kenny's and Jenny Jump's addresses yet? I have the letters for them written up, but I can;t send them because I still need their current addresses.

:P I sent Leah a letter to her new address already, hopefully she can get it. Have her ask about it, I hope they wont re-send it back before she gets there. I sent it off last week, so it should be there. Hopefully Rob can find it, and the letter I included in Leah's letter for him.

On the school / college front -- I do plan on taking a few courses at Wake Tech or something, but I am going to shoot for working with the Geek Squad at the Best Buy near home, or whatever is available, and I will look for things that will keep me busy. I know that I need to keep moving in order to get back to college, and schooling etc. I should be back in time to be able to schedule stuff myself for BYU, since I _will_ be going there in the Winter Semester 2012. So hopefully I can get started with some art classes and some computing classes since I have a better idea of what I want to shoot for at BYU (their "animation" major check it out at BYU.edu)

I love you all! Have a fantastic week! I will write back to people who send me letters! I've gotten a couple of straight weeks of air-boxes. It's kind of depressing, more so since I'm trying to write absolutely everyone now. :P Anyways, Keep it real!

Elder Richard Mackelprang

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