Monday, June 28, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #19 June 28 , 2010

Well hello family and fans!
This week was very interesting. My companion Elder Porter and I got to say goodbye to a lot of people in this area that he has grown attached to while serving here in Ocala. It was pretty fun! Then Thursday came of course and I was in the training meeting with all the little greenies. I found myself looking around the room to see which one I wanted, kinda like shopping at a puppy store but instead you don't get to pick; God does. Therefore, it's a little different. You still look and wonder which one you’ll be going home with that day though. I was assigned Elder Day. Elder Day has dark hair and is from Syracuse, Utah. He is actually shorter than me, (so this will be my second companion that I am actually taller than) which I am excited about!! So far, Elder Day seems like a really humble and teachable kid. He won't accept any complement I give him; instead, he just kinda shrugs it off. It’s pretty funny trying to see him wiggle out of compliments. Also at transfer meeting, we got to say goodbye to President Newman, which was kinda sad. President asked lots of people to bear their testimonies, which was pretty nice and sad at the same time. I really love President Newman a lot. He is amazing! I have not had a chance to meet the new mission president yet.

Elder Day is the only change in our apartment of four elders, everyone else stayed put. Therefore, a couple of us have been together for a long time now. The twins have not been confirmed yet; last, I heard they are still running around with their mom somewhere in Florida. We have not been able to locate them yet.

This week though I have been contemplating about how to get the members more involved with missionary work. It has been on my mind almost constantly. While sitting in sacrament meeting yesterday an idea came to me about teaching the members how to teach their friends about the gospel. I thought “They all know it is true, but maybe they just don't share it because they are uncomfortable about what to say”. After sacrament I felt impressed to talk to a RM in this ward (that just got home 4 weeks ago) and he gave me the idea to teach the Ward Missionary “How to teach members about Preach My Gospel”. So that is what I am going to do. I want to work on an outline for a class that will teach members about Preach My Gospel. That way they will feel more comfortable and the best part is the fact that it will continue on - even if I get transferred! This way we will teach the ward how to be Preach My Gospel teachers! Because honestly, when you really think about it…this is not my area… it is the member’s area. They will be here long after I leave. This way I know our new converts will stay and not fall away when the missionaries transfer.

I am having a meeting today with the ward missionary about this idea, to see how he feels. Then after that, we will present it to the ward mission leader…and get this sucker goin'! Heck yeah!! This is something that I am super excited about! It will really make a huge difference I think. I am just kinda nervous to teach the members, it will be totally different than investigators, but maybe this way we will start getting loads of investigators! Wouldn’t that be wonderful!! I really feel like this will really help the missionaries’ efforts and the ward members to increase the area’s growth. I will have to keep my letter short today because I have that meeting at 12 noon with the Ward Missionary about this new idea. So I only have about 5 minutes left before I have to leave in order to make my meeting.

So yeah,…oh before I forget; Katlin and Michael are doing very well. Michael fasted yesterday to have the strength to stop smoking, we are going to follow up with him today! Everything else is going forward with them, slowly but surely. That is what we have going so far…this week. Basically everything is good here… except for the heat :) but whatever. One other thing I am also saying “gaul” a lot…so that is another mark from the south creeping into my vocabulary…ha-ha!! Elder Taft use to say it all the time too…so maybe we can blame him for that one and not the southern folks.

But hey, I gotta get running now. Maybe I might be able to get on later but it’s a slim chance. Tell everyone I am thinking of them and tell them not to complain to loud about the 90 degree days in Utah…cause it could be worse…it could be 98 degrees with a high humidity on top of that! Yeah that is the Florida summers for ya. Water never tasted so good…hehehe

Love to all,
Your Elder with “Class”…Elder Blair

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Kara Dioguardi

Ocala, FL Letter #18 June 21 , 2010

Hello to my fans back home!
Well, this week was good! We had Michael and Katlin meet with the Bishop on Tuesday, which was good for each of them. They had a nice visit. However, we had to push Michael and Katlin's wedding (and baptism) back to the 29th and 30th of this month, to give them more time. Michael wants to pay for the marriage license himself, so he is waiting to be paid. They are still doing well, and they came to church again this Sunday (and loved it once more).

We are also working with a couple of less actives in our ward area. None of them has been coming to our Tuesday night BOM classes. One can't quite come out yet because of work. She works on Sundays too, but now is planning to get Sunday’s off (so she can come to church).

As for transfers, Little Porter is leaving and I am staying in Ocala. So at the end of this transfer I will be here 6 months... wow. That will be the longest I have stayed in any area since I have been out. I did receive some interesting news today from President Newman….you better sit down for this one… I am pregnant...Yep; I will be training this transfer again. I will be receiving a new greenie this Thursday. So I will be a new father again (that’s “missionary talk”) so here goes nothing eh? I will do my best to help him adjust to missionary life.

Oh and I loved the box of Disney stuff! Surprisingly the chocolates were not “super” melted and they were super good! I think the best part of the box was the pictures at Disney or perhaps the Thor and Namor action figures!! Tell Drew he picked out a good super hero for me! I don't have sub mariner guy so that was cool! I liked the super long letter, it was a great letter, I enjoyed it. I loved the Goofy shirt a lot. I am actually wearing it today for p-day! From the pictures, Abbie looks to be getting super tall!! Moreover, I totally loved hearing all about Disney and all the new rides and changes. I would have loved to be there when she found out she got “fun napped”. Well maybe the New President will do some fun napping to us as missionaries and take us all to Disneyworld for a week!! Heck ya! That would be fun! I cannot wait to see what Disney does with marvel comics now that they own them! I want to go to Disney World and take a picture with Thor, Mickey Mouse, Spider Man, and Donald Duck (all at once!!) That would be something!

Well, that is pretty much my week. Really, nothing super exciting happened. Well... I do have one funny story to share. I captured a snake and put it in another Elder's laundry bag, and then put it on his bed! (Ha ha) Super funny!! Don’t worry we made sure it was not a deadly snake, just a big one. Ha-ha Here’s what happened: My companion and I (along with the Spanish Elders) saw this snake coming down the tree in our back yard. Right then and there, we decided we should catch it! Therefore, we waited for it to come down the tree, then when it was almost there we ran outside with golf clubs and knocked it off the tree and onto the ground. Then we held it down with the golf clubs (now we didn't know if it was poisonous or not) but we caught it anyway and flipped it up into this blue box. After we snatched it, we were awfully proud of ourselves!! Then what happened is total history. As I said, we put it on the elder’s bed, via his laundry bag. Then when he came home, he found it and he flipped out. He then chucked it into my room and closed the door (but little did he know that snakes could get out of places easily). Well it slithered under my door (while I was gone) and went down stairs. When we came home, (to my surprise) we found it there! Therefore, I caught it once more (all by myself) and after another epic battle, I put it into the blue box (again). It was pretty fun!

But hey, I got five minutes left on this computer so either I will have to try to get on another one, or I will just email you again next week.
Hope all is well out in Utah!
You’re mischievous Elder,
Elder Blair

Monday, June 14, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #17 June 14 , 2010

Howdy everyone!
Well, well, well, another week that just flew by way to fast!

This week started out pretty amazing! We had our Zone Conference on Wednesday (June 9th) that was really good! President Newman was able to say his goodbyes to everyone and everything. He is so wonderful; all of us in the Jacksonville Mission will miss him greatly. We also had a slide show with all of his pictures he had taken while here in the mission over the last 3 years. It was great; there were some really funny stuff, all of them filled with good memories. And oh hey, there was a picture of us at Jason’s baptism, (which was really neat to see that picture pop up). During the conference (in the middle of all that), we received new phones! Oh yeah, they look kinda like a black berry phone (which doesn’t make a lot of sense cause we cannot text or take pictures with it. Since we now have that feature on our new phones; it could seem very tempting at times to use it, ha-ha- NOT!)

However, the real highlight of the entire Zone Conference was the fact we received blessings from President Newman. Each one of us individually. Yeah, one at a time he called us aside, (in a separate room) and gave us blessings of comfort and peace. lt was an extremely spiritual moment for all of us. Everyone also got the opportunity to write in President Newman’s personal mission journal.

The rest of the week went pretty quick after that. I do have an update with Michael and Katlin. They are getting married on June 19th!! Woot!! (doing the happy dance). I am super excited about that, and then they will be baptized on June 20th!! Therefore, we have a pretty great looking week coming up this week as well. I am really stoked; I just pray that all will go according to plan.

Oh, yes another thing: transfer calls will be coming on the 19th as well. I am actually looking forward to that; I want to be transferred actually. I have been in this bike area for 4 1/2 months (it seems I serve in each area 4 1/2 months and then I am transferred. At least that has been my track record thus far). Each time I have stayed in an area about that long before being transferred. And truthfully I don't really want to be on bike for the whole summer. However, we will see what will happen this coming Saturday. I will happily do whatever the Lord requires of me, so if I stay here- I stay here. If I am called to bike all summer, I will bike all summer gladly. If their is anyone thinking of mailing a letter or care package to their favorite Florida Elder just as a friendly reminder… if you send it before Thursday this week, I should still get it well before transfers. Because, we will only get the phone call this Saturday but will not actually move until next Thursday (June 24th). So this coming Saturday I just find out “IF” I am leaving. So don’t talk yourself out of sending those letters and package this week! Ha-ha!!

I am pretty excited for this p-day today. We have some fun things planned. We are heading out to Jacksonville to go play laser tag with a bunch of missionaries! Elder “amazing” Rogers is going to be there, as well as tall “awesome” Porter (my last companion before this one that I have…I know it is confusing with 2 Porters…try to follow along… hehehe) So I will be heading up to Jacksonville with the Spanish Elders in Ocala, along with some of the young men from our ward! I will probably be leaving soon, because I am in the Family History Center at the church, so when they open I will have to leave so the people coming to do Family History can use the computers.

I think that is all of the big news for now. By the way the Elders in Apartment #56 loved the Oreo cookies!! That was really awesome! We each received our own individual package!! (You have totally redeemed yourself mom, good work! Ha-ha) Also, we received the Who’s your Hero Posters…Wow Sweet!! Elder Porter & I hung them up all over our bedroom ceiling!

I have to get running, I have got stuff to do before we leave and head up to Jacksonville (which is soon).

Love ya, tell everyone I say howdy!
Love Elder Blair (Who will win one round of laser tag for the home team in Utah!!)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #16 June 7 , 2010

Well here we are another week!
This week was pretty interesting; we went to Jack's house last Monday to watch him wrestle our district leader Elder Trott, which it was surprising that Jack lost! However, Jack wants a re-match (so that might happen today). I don't exactly know what we have planned for today. I know we might play a little soccer later today and we will have to figure out a way to get our laundry done. We are probably going to go eat right after this letter and then I am going to buy some protein stuff. Lol Ah heck ya! I am going to an actual nutrition store to buy the protein because a member works there so I am hoping I might get a decent discount. I don't know what type of protein I will be getting yet; I will talk to the member today and see what he thinks I need.

This past week we got in contact with Michael and Katlin again. We had a super good lesson with them; mainly they just asked lots of questions and we answered them. Then we talked about them getting married. We had a long talk where we discussed the pros, cons, and what that would mean for them. Then after that lesson we left and came back the next day, and Katlin told us that Michael had purposed to her that night after we left! So I am super excited for them! They then came to church on Sunday and loved it!! Gabi (their little one year old) was crying a little bit, so Katlin had to keep taking her out and walking with her around the church. Next week they said that they would be dropping her off in the nursery, so looks like Gabi will be getting some new friends.

Also something kind of crappy happened this week. I am sure you remember Erving (who had his two little girls baptized a few weeks ago) well he has not got them confirmed yet. This week he was going to bring them to church for the confirmation but he called us and told us that he and his wife had got in a little fight and she ran off with the kids. She is staying at one of her sister's, (she has like 8 sisters in Ocala). He called all of them, but none would confess where she was staying. Therefore it looks like this week we will be trying to locate them and trying to get permission from the mother to let us confirm them. I tell ya every week its new challenges as a missionary, but it’s all good.

On Sunday during church, I had to leave with Elder Snow to go to a Catholic church with one of their investigators. Then after that nice little Catholic service; we went back to our church. Later that same night we went out as a district to another church. It's called the Ocala Worship Center. We had heard they would speak in tongues. Man o’ man, I am just so grateful for our church. I am grateful that we have the full truth where people can go and actually feel the spirit and not fake it! It’s humorous when you watch it, but kinda sad to see people being lead away by vain imaginations... some people. Oh well overall I had a decent week.

We finished all of the delivered meals! We loved every minute of the frozen dinner selection celebrating my Hump Day and would certainly not say “no” if more of them just happened to "be delivered" sometime again. Ha-ha!! By the way I loved the camel pillowcase. It’s awesome. And the half-finished letter... ha-ha!! When the package first arrived and after I read that letter I thought, “Oh no, everything in this box will be half of something”... (Cause I always read the letters first). So I can now say with assurance that I will love EVERY package you send ( happens to be filled with Oreo’s that have the filling missing!) Ha-ha!!

I don't think I will need to buy Elder Roger's bike. I have a bike that Elder See gave me before he left the mission. I just have to fix it up a bit and it will run great! So I will be using that bike. I also bought contacts for the summer, I picked them about a month ago. They should work a lot better than the glasses with the high humidity here.

Jack told me about Drew being on x-box, he is really looking forward to playing against him this week! Well it is about that time… for me to get going. I will talk to you next week. Hope all goes well for everyone back home, and send my love to everyone! Hope ya'll have a good week.

Love from “Your favorite Elder”
Elder Blair

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Ocala, FL Letter #15 June 1 , 2010

Hey, hey everyone! Well obviously, I couldn't write yesterday because the libraries were closed for the Memorial Day holiday, but we made it here today! (FYI I don't know exactly how long I will be on, since it’s Tuesday and not our normal Monday.) I don't know how long all of us will stay at the library.

Well this week was pretty fun. As you know we are working with a couple named Michael and Kaitlin, they’re both really awesome people! We have fallen out of contact with them as of late, so that kind of stinks. However, we should be getting in contact with them again this next week. I will let ya'll know how that goes.

I freaking loved the 1-year mark package!! Really, really awesome!! I laughed so hard...over everything! And when I got to the Oreo’s I was thinking, “Well hey, at least I will get “half” a box of delicious Oreo’s”. Imagine my surprise when I opened it and saw all of Oreo’s in the package! Groovy! Until later,...when I tried one…and well… there was no FROSTING in any of them!! LOL All the Elders in my apartment were upset with that, (ha ha) Yeah they were all bummed out (but it was a smart idea!) I really loved everything, it was so hilarious!! One of the best packages I have received!

I noticed that you didn’t take half of the crunchy peanut butter jar and I’m glad you didn't take half of it cause that helps me with my protein. I’ve not been doing protein drinks with my workouts lately, but I am starting it up. I was doing lots of weight loss shakes, not now though. I’m switching to protein drinks.

I really thought the pictures of everyone holding the Hump Day signs were something else! Don’t know how you got all of those people. Ha-Ha Drew's picture had me in tears!! I thought that was soooo funny!! All of the Elders thought it was awesome! (So yes, all the Elders in my entire District have seen Drew more than half-naked!) Good work Drew! Man!! Ha-ha!! Drew works out for over 3 hours each day?? What the junk! Wow! But yeah, Drew looks really built! Tell him I said he is doing a good job!

This past week there was this ward member trying to get his Eagle Scout project completed and he was doing a blood drive. So when we saw President Newman at mission conference we asked him if we could possibly do that to help support him. President gave us the “go ahead”, and if you donated blood that day, you got a free t-shirt, and a free pint of Brusters Ice Cream, (which is really amazing ice cream!!)

Therefore, we showed up at 3pm (right on time) but we had to wait for the Blood Bus for a little while. Once it finally arrived, we got on first and they asked us if we wanted to do a “regular” donation or “Alyx” donation. The Alyx donation takes twice the amount of red blood cells but shoots fluid replacement back into your plasma, which helps you to avoid feeling tired, or dizzy…I believe... maybe... oh well. So anyway yeah they hooked us up to that special machine and it took sooooo loooooong for one person to donate. It takes about half an hour for one person. At that time, they only had one machine there, but had asked for another one. It took about 45 minutes to get another Alyx machine delivered.

While we were waiting, we were just chillin’ on the blood bus for a good while, talking with members and talking about blood stuff with the Blood drive people. Yeah.... when it finally was my turn I kinda got light headed, but it soon passed. The free shirts look way sick!! (I will send you a picture of one.) So I am pretty happy about that, and the ice cream was really good too!

For p-day yesterday, we just hung out at Jack's house and talked to him. He put in some church movies and we played some games. We also talked to his brother Mike who is not a member, we talked to him for a good while, he seems like a really great guy!

Yeah that was our week! It sounds like everyone at home is doing well, and school is almost out, so I suppose that is some good news! Well looks like it is time for me to head out, I will talk to ya'll on Monday.

Love Elder Blair (who is still laughing over his little bro’s picture!!)