Sunday, March 31, 2013

Alex's first email!!

Everyday after Alex left, we'd check our email, hoping it would be Alex's P-Day that day. We had to wait 5 days to get a letter from him, and the next day (on Tuesday) it was FINALLY his P-Day so he was able to email us! It was awesome that we got a letter AND an email last week!

He's already doing awesome with the language and is LOVING his companions and the classes he goes to each day! We're so excited for him!
Here's his email!
Oh my goodness!! It feels so good to finally be able to communicate with everyone!! Of course my P-day is the day before I came in so I had to wait an entire week to be able to write you guys!! What a busy week we've had so far. We began by putting all of our bags in our dorm. I was the first one in there so I claimed both the best bed, closet, AND desk! I was pretty happy about that. Then I went to the classroom where my teacher for over an hour bombarded us with hmong... Out of all the words he said, we basically only picked up "Nyob zoo!" (Nyah-zhong) which means hello, and "Kuv lu npe..." (koo-loompay) which is My name is. Later my teacher told us that trying to learn a language is like trying to catch the water from a firehose with a sacrament cup. You may only catch one word until you're able to understand the language and your cup expands. The food here, contrary to everything I've been told on my Olson and Larsen side, is NOT steak and potatoes every day... In fact, my companions and I are pretty sure that the food here is our LEAST favorite thing about our MTC experience.
My companions Elder Cook and Elder McKay are pretty decent so far. We love being in what we call a "Tri-panionship" We actually get along really well. Since there are only 7 total Lus Hmoob (Loo-Mong) speaking missionaries in the whole MTC (almost 4000) we seem like one really large companionship of 7. We all love the language and we seem to be progressing extremely well.
On our second day we had an orientation with our branch presidency (basically our bishopric) and afterward they held interviews with us. Our president, president Jackson, interviewed me. He made note of my Olson legs as they were bouncing up and down pretty furiously. He also told me that he did a lot of buisiness in Milwaukee, and it was his absolute favorite place in the whole world!! That was so good to be able to talk about with someone with the experience of actually being there. Anyway, not 2 minutes after the interview, I was called back, and my heart dropped!! They must have found out that I skipped out on doing my fast offerings that one week!! I was sure I was to be sent home when President Jackson extended me the calling of District Leader!! I was shocked, and accepted of course! I was sustained on sunday, and had my first difficult time only a couple of hours later. I was approached by somebody in the district, and he told me that he wasnt fully repentant, and felt he needed to meet with the branch president. We all scrambled and were able to set up a meeting, and all is well with him now. Everyone is so glad that we get to have him back, but especially me. I knew how hard it was for him to come forward and admit that, so as he went into an interview room with President Jackson, I prayed and pleaded with God to let this kind Elder stay with us. The spirit was very strong, and I was elated when he came out and told me the news.
I miss everyone so much, and 30 minutes is NOT enough time to write to everyone!! I hope you all don't mind me sending out one big letter! I absolutely LOVE getting packages and mail through dear elder, because if anyone sends it through E-mail, I wont have the time to read it. I have taken a ton of pictures, but I can't even send those because I don't have an sd card reader!! So I'm thinking I'll just send it home in a letter and have my family post it and/or send it through E-mail. I have a MILLION more things to say, but alas, my time is running short :/ I'll end with a quote from our last devotional...
"2 missionaries is a companionship... 4 is a party... and 6 is a disaster!!... Especially if they're Elders!!"

Love you all So much!! SEND ME MAIL THROUGH DEAR ELDER!!!!!!! Mail here is like Gold!!!!

,Elder Lis Xeeb (lee-seng)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The hardest day yet!

Last Wednesday, March 20th, Alex left for the MTC. Megan and Zach had school that day so Zach said his final goodbye the night before, and Megan was lucky to catch Alex awake that morning. Alex spent the morning doing some last minute packing and tying all the loose ends together before he left. At about 10:30, all his luggage was zipped up and Alex was more than ready to go. He was so excited to go!!! Saying goodbye was certainly harder than we expected, especially for Taylor who had to say goodbye to his best buddy!

The day finally came...

...when we had to say our goodbyes to our  brother, son, and friend. On Tuesday, March 19th, Alex was given the choice of where he wanted to eat out for his last dinner with us before entering the MTC. Alex chose Chinese takeout from Golden China (a definite favorite of ours!). After we ate, Alex gave each of his siblings a special gift that would help us remind us of him. The gifts were all very thoughtful!
Taylor LOVES his blanket from Alex!

 Later, we went to the Stake Center to have Alex be set apart as a missionary.

The festivities weren't quite over for us yet! Alex was craving some delicious Leatherby's, and how could we say no?! This would be our last time as a family of 8 in a restaurant until he comes home!

All around, it was a special night full of the Spirit. We are sure going to miss Al, but we know that he'll be an AMAZING missionary while he's teaching the people in Milwaukee!

Alex's Farewell!

Alex's farewell was on March 10th, and he had a ton of support from family and friends who came to hear his talk in sacrament meeting. He did an amazing job on his talk, and had many people to greet in the chapel afterwards. After that, both sides of the family came to eat at Aunt Lindsey's house. What a fantastic day!
We made some delicious cupcakes with missionary name tags and shirts and ties for decoration!

Alex had the opportunity to stand in the circle while his babyTanner got blessed on the same day. It was a special moment for Alex to be a part of such a special blessing.