Dear Elder Slavens

Dear Elder Slavens

Elder Dallin J Slavens Cambodia Phnom Penh

Elder Chancellor J Slavens Idaho Twin Falls

Monday, January 27, 2014

There's a Will, So There's a Way, Right?

Hello everybody!! What a beautiful life!!

I'm sorry if this email seems rushed in any way. But if it seems that way, it's probably just because I actually am quite rushed today. For P-day today we're planning on having a big zone BBQ, and I think for some reason I just naturally pile on top of myself the responsibility to organize such things. So basically I'm in charge of the whole entire zone and their happiness today, even though I have no fancy calling or authority. I just told everybody I'd organize it without really thinking, and now I'm all stressed out about something rather pointless. But such is life!

Anyway, this week was really good! We got to teach a lot of lessons and do a lot of service, which is just how I like it. However we did have one experience that really wasn't so wonderful.

We were running out of things to do in the evening, so we made the decision to go visit the Perez family. Perhaps you guys remember - this family has been hearing the lessons from Elder Wright and I for a while; family of 4, all wanted to get baptized, totally on the straight and narrow, making the right decisions. They are such a cool family and I've grown to love them so much. But about 3 weeks ago the whole family got sick and couldn't have us over for like a week and a half, which is a long time of not seeing this family because they typically have us like twice a week. We came over when their sickness was dying off to find the father out of sorts and not overly welcoming. He gave us a big long schpeel about how we can't truly know him because we've never walked in his shoes nor had his experiences. He'd gone through life as a kid with no food and one shirt, and was upset that we were coming and trying to tell him how to live when we couldn't really comprehend his life.

This experience was tough for me, but after a long talk, we evened things out and he expressed to us that he'd had no intention of yelling at us, but that he just needed to vent. So I figured perfect, now things'll be back to normal. He told us he'd text us sometime soon so that we could stop by again and continue teaching the lessons.

A week rolls by.

Two weeks.

As I said, we were running out of things to do in the evening, so we figured we'd just swing by rather than awaiting a text that wasn't going to come. As we pulled up to his driveway we found that he'd just gotten in his car and was preparing to leave. We ran up and asked how he was doing, as well as whether it would be alright if we stopped by another day soon. He proceeded to kinda scoff at us and tell us that he never has time, is never home, has tons of stuff to do, and just doesn't know if he wants us over. In that moment, I understood.

I've always found it kind of silly when people told me that you can cry over a dropped investigator. I couldn't picture myself really involving myself so much in their lives that I'd feel that strongly about it. I mean, if I ever had to drop an investigator, obviously it would be one that wasn't really progressing and thus didn't help me fulfill my purpose as a missionary, right? But no. That's not how it works. I didn't cry having experienced this, but I'll tell you, I wanted to pretty bad. I found myself reflecting on some fun and spiritual experiences I'd had with this family, and was devastated to find that I knew it wasn't going to happen anymore. After discussing with Elder Wright, we came to the agreement that these people need some time and that we shouldn't visit them for a while. That decision sucked to make, but I know it was the right one.

This was a pretty sad experience, but for one reason or another, it's helped strengthen me. I know that everyone can find a place in their heart for the message that missionaries bring, if they are honest and sincere in their search. I know that the Perez family is an amazing one, and that their hearts will be softened someday. And that will be an incredible day to behold, if I have the pleasure of witnessing it!

Kind of heavy stuff, I know. But it's alright, we just keep our chins up! Missions are heavy themselves - what did I expect? I've learned a lot this week and I'm thankful for my trials! I hope you guys have an incredible week and that you learn a lot too!

Lesson Learned: Keep in mind the Lord's will and His time, not yours. He's a better planner.

I love everyone!

Elder Slavens

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

I Have a Dream...

...that one day the library will still be open on Martin Luther King Jr. Day so that it doesn't look like I completely ditched my family and friends.

I have a dream today!

Now how is everybody doing on this beautiful Tuesday? It's not looking especially beautiful in Wendell today in particular, but I'm sure it's really nice out in other places of the world, like in California or something. It's always a beautiful day somewhere!!

This week has seemed so long. But what I've come to realize is that how long a week feels on your mission is absolutely no measure of how much fun you're having, or of how much success you're seeing. It seems to be completely random how quickly a week goes by. It can feel like it didn't happen at all, it can feel like your mission should already be over. This week was one of those weeks. Although that in no way means that I want to be done with my mission. Just feels like I should be. Either way, this has been a great week, albeit a long one.

We've seen a lot of progress this week, and it's so darn exciting to see! I already feel like I'm improving as a missionary day by day since my experience last week, and that is super gratifying! This week has just been such a huge blessing; proof that hard work does bring miracles! Fo realz.

The most exciting occurrence this week, I believe, has been the progress of the Ortiz family. I dunno if you guys remember, but that was the family consisting of the guy who got his arm run over and completely pulverized. Anyway, they've just shown some incredible steps of progress (not to mention the incredible rate at which his arm is healing), and it's been so cool to be a part of. We taught Raul, the father, about the Word of Wisdom this week, going into it knowing that drinking had been a huge problem in his life in the past, but that he had dropped it, instead resorting to the drinking of coffee. But we taught him the Word, and boom. He dropped coffee then and there, vowing never to drink it again. "It may be fun to drink and I may like it," he said, "but if the Lord tells me not to, then I better not." He accepted it so dang quickly that I thought he may just be telling us what we wanted to hear so we'd get off his back. Yet with more discussion came my realization that this guy just wants to do the best he possibly can to follow the Savior.

That hit me hard. This super humble guy just heard the words and followed them. He needed no proof, no sign - he just did. I find that too often in my life I always seem to need a kind of strong impression or smack in the face before I do what I, deep inside, know needs to be done now. On top of that I always seem to expect some sort of instant gratification for my good acts, otherwise (in my mind) they aren't worth my time. But in reality, the only thing that really matters in this life is doing the will of the Father. And with every new morsel of information concerning this I receive, I should in turn act instantly to change my ways to accommodate that new knowledge. It's as simple as that. And while, of course, we should always have an eternal perspective on things, looking to the future in hope for blessings is beside the point. The point is that we should do what the Father asks, right now, because we love Him, not because we hope to get something out of Him.

So as you can see I'm still doing quite a bit of learning out here! It just never ends, and that is very very cool. Blessing to the max.

Apart from that, and significantly less spiritual, is the fact that we ran around in a giant gorge yesterday for P-day, which was way fun! Pictures of that in minus one or two paragraphs.

I love you all and I thank you for your love and support!! Hope your upcoming week reflects the love that God has for you! In fact, I know that it will, be your week covered in rain or sun! He knows what He's doing!

Lesson Learned: Don't wear flip-flops when you're commanded to wear sneakers. (Mormon Message, "The Sting of the Scorpion")  

The King of the Gorge

The Malad Gorge

Elder Wright's moves

Elder Davis is cute

The guys of the Jerome Zone

Monday, January 13, 2014

When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough Listen to MoTab

And another week passes by! This is pretty freaky how fast things are going here, you guys! Hit my 6 month mark just the other day and my heart was like oh crap. Well I hope that everyone here has had just the dandiest week! As for me...

Last week has to have been the worst week of my mission so far.

That being said, I would consider it one of my favorite weeks that I've passed through as a missionary. I've learned so much this week, and have had some really heart-changing experiences. It has been super humbling and certainly not the most comfortable week of my life, but since when is that the point of a mission? Let me explain.

For those of you who know me pretty well, this will be old news. But to those of you who just like my sillilly-worded emails, yet know me not, know that I am a very laid-back dude. Some may call it lazy; I choose laid-back.

Okay fine, I'm pretty lazy.

Basically a huge trial I've gone through just about my whole entire life is my constant battle with laziness. I love learning, I love doing new things, I love progress; but my aspirations are often held back by my unquenchable thirst for doing nothing. Or lack of thirst, I dunno. Anyway, you can see how this would be a problem for a missionary. However, this flaw of mine hasn't really caused me issue up until just recently. You see, for the first while of his mission, an Elder goes through months of training, having other missionaries over him to show him how to be. That Elder has been me for the majority of my time out here. But it's not so anymore. I mean, Elder Wright is technically the senior companion here in Wendell, but since I've had the most experience in the area and I'm the companion with the driving privileges, it's more or less up to me to lead the area and make sure crap gets done.

Now the problem is, my last companion, Elder Johnson, was a very self-motivated Elder. He just wanted to work work work and would never let me sit down. And it was one of the best experiences I've ever had. Yet Elder Johnson is gone, and my new companion (who has so many other positive traits I can't even count them), is pretty much just as motivated as I am, and thus, we can do a good amount of sitting around when things aren't immediately demanding our attention. Long story short, our numbers have been dwindling a bit, and it's really been stressing me out. We just weren't getting lessons this week, investigators were slacking on their commitments, and it was just driving me crazy. Why am I on a mission if people aren't gonna listen to me and I'm just gonna drive around aimlessly? That was probably the theme of this week for me, unfortunately. But at basically my lowest point so far, I just had to get down and pray about this and figure my life out. I wasn't going to have my mission be like this for 18 more months, I'll have you know!

And then a miracle happened! Though probably not one I wanted. I was basically spirit-smacked in the face and felt this huge guilt for not dedicating 100% of my time to the Lord and for being a slothful servant. Whoops. But in that very instant I knew what had to be done! Or rather, what still needs to be worked on, and that which I will probably be working on for the rest of my life. I need to be more focused, more motivated, and more work-oriented. Because when we are so, we're blessed. And I know that to be true, because I've seen it. Experienced it first hand!

Anyway, this has been my crazy experience for the week. I hope somebody else can get just a smidgen out of it what I did, because right now I know that I'm not the same person that wrote you last week. Updated software; version 2.7; better than ever! As long as I stick with what I've learned and apply the crap out of it.

Lesson Learned: Don't be a slothful servant!

Love you, muah!

Elder Slavens

Monday, January 6, 2014

Herper Ner Yer


It's me again! Elder Slavens!! Hi hi hi hi hi hi! I hope everybody had a wonderful New Year's Eve and that you're all refreshed and excited about the new year having set goals and challenges for yourselves so we can all improve and make the world better than it was last year!!

Now my parents have recently told me that I too often say "Nothing too exciting happened this week," and that those words bring the awesomeness of my emails from a beautiful 100% to about a 90.

Well hey, that's much better than I ever did in high school, so I've got no complaints.

But just so everybody knows, something exciting ALWAYS happens when you're on a mission! I suppose I just look back on my week and typically can't quite remember all that has happened, and thus I feel not much has come to pass. Yet when I actually get to the meat and potatoes of my emails I realize that a lot has actully happened in the week, and that I have no reason to say that! So from this day on, I say "Nothing too exciting has happened" no more.

This week was so exciting!! Truly though, it was a really great one. We were super busy and had a lotta jazz to get done! Elder Wright, my companion, is the District Leader here in Wendell, so that basically made him and me the party planning committee when it came to our New Year's Eve activity. You see, on New Year's Eve, everybody is driving around drunk and I am firmly convinced that nobody would really want a couple of missionaries on their doorstep at that time. So we were told by our Mission President instead to have an activity as a District from 6-9 pm. So what do missionaries do for party? Watch 'The Prince of Egypt', of course!! Wooohooo! Gosh, I had forgotten just how wonderful that movie is. I can't decide if it's because I haven't seen a real movie in 6 months, or if it really is just one of the best movies ever made, but I almost straight up cried. And if you know me, you know I don't do that in movies. But man, it just tugged at my little heart strings. After that we played Apples to Apples for like an hour and a half, which I am always totally down for.

Other than that, we had a lot of really solid lessons this week, and saw some real progress in a few of our investigators! I'm so excited about where Wendell's going; it's such a blessing to whitness. We got one of our investigators, Raul Ortiz (the guy who got his arm run over), to commit to being baptized sometime this month. We just need to work on getting him to church! And just yesterday, one of the members of the Spanish group invited her friend and the friend's kids to church, and afterward introduced us. She told us, "Alright, so you need to go over to see them soom so you can preach to them and baptize them!" Which I took to be a complete joke. But then I looked over at the friend, who had a huge smile on her face and was nodding!! I was like what the what?? And so we're really excited about the next couple upcoming weeks! Hopefully I have some stuff to talk about soon that's not too not too exciting!! :)

Wishing everyone a wonderful new year and an equally wonderful week,

Elder Slavens

Season's Greetings from Elder Slavens

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Our post Christmas Skype

It was so fun to talk to Chancellor!  We missed our Christmas call so I worked it out with the Nelsons in Chancellor's ward to have us skype him as a surprise.  
Somehow he seemed to know it was coming.