Friday, September 30, 2011

Elder Henry is in Huntington Beach CA!

    We heard from Michael from the airport this morning!  He sounds awesome and very well prepared to serve the Lord in Long Beach--except he is having a hard time remembering his English grammar (he couldn't remember how to say "me too" when talking with another missionary in English).  Apparently his Visa was sent by the Missionary Visa office through Los Angeles.  Normally they are sent through San Francisco with Northwest missionaries, and explains why its taking so long.  He could be in Long Beach up to around 4 months but he does expect to eventually get to Brazil. 
     His mission area sounds like it will be really nice, of course he can't enjoy the beach but he might be able to walk along the paths near it and enjoy the views.  The area of the mission includes Catalina Island, wouldn't it be neat if he was able to tract out there on that beautiful island?  
     He's looking forward to getting to work and utilizing his missionary skills he developed as Ward Mission Leader as well as in the MTC.  His younger siblings enjoyed visiting with him (once they woke up a bit) and hearing his voice.  Spencer sounds almost exactly like him now!
    (At 5pm) I just heard from his Mission President's wife.  He will be serving with a pair of Elders who are already in Huntington Beach, they are giving him an hour of language study each day so he can keep up his Portuguese, he will be in a car and well fed every night by the Church members there.  They've had many Brazil visa waiters in the mission, and the longest so far has been 7 weeks.  Lets hope he doesn't set a new record ;o)  but he will have a wonderful first part of his mission in Huntington Beach!
   His Preparation Day is Monday.  The new address to send letters is:
Elder Michael Jordan Henry
c/o 6500 Atherton St.
Long Beach, CA 90815
You can also use, and have it sent to the Long Beach CA mission.  I'm not sure how you pay for letters through them I assume they either set you up an account or charge you the postage each time.
Thanks for all your prayers!
Lisa and Damon

Monday, September 19, 2011

Michael's weekly letter

 Dearest Mother,

Thanks for the bolded questions, that makes things easier for me.
 How are you doing? 
Usually I'm doing quite well, but as any returned missionary can tell you, the Mission is full of crazy ups and downs, but I'm the happiest I've been in the longest time.  Super excited to hit the field.
  How’s the District? 
Well, the district is better now.  We have a couple of missionaries that really don't know why they are here and can be bullies sometimes, but they have changed a lot in the last 9 weeks and I know the lord will continue to change them for the better.  Fortunately I really like my companion, so things aren't ever too bad for me.  But just like you predicted the hardest thing for me in the MTC has been getting along with the other 19 year old boys here.

  Are you enjoying the home-like weather? 
It's crazy, I've never seen it so rainy and cloudy this time of year in Utah.  I really appreciate it though, its a nice change from the hot dry summer days.  Some of us enjoy the rain ;)
  How’s MTC Choir?  
I really love singing in the MTC choir.  Its a lot of fun and 10 of my 12 district-mates all sing in the choir together.  My only wish was the music was harder, the hymns they sing are really really simple.  Oh the MTC choir won't be singing in Conference this year, the director said they only do that once every 2-3 years.  So at least I won't be missing out on that opportunity.  The choir directors are really awesome here, and every rehearsal (we have rehearsal twice a week) is a really spiritually uplifiting experience.
 Seen Elder Abrams? 
Nope again, if someone isn't headed to Brasil they are on a different schedule than I am (and even if they are going to Brasil they could be on a different schedule because there are over 300 of us here now) and so the chances of our paths crossing are slim to none.

  How’s Elder Horrocks and Elder McDonnell?
Elder Horrocks seems to be doing good.  I see him about 2-3 times a day, but other than basketball there isn't really too much of an oppertunity to spend much time with him.  I see Elder McDonnell as well every now and again usually during a mealtime and we'll stop and chat.  He's seems to be doing fine as well.
      That's so crazy that you had a fire in the church!  That would be a real shame if some of the paintings/drawings/items that bishop has on his wall and in his office got destroyed because of the fire damage.
     I really enjoyed reading your testimony, thanks for sharing it with me.
     This week we had ANOTHER apostle come speak to us.  It's almost unheard of to have two apostle speak in just 2 weeks separating them.  I feel really blessed.  Elder Russel M. Ballard gave an excellent talk on the basics of being a missionary.  Who we needed to be, how we needed to prepare, and what we needed to study.  It was all really helpful to all of us.  Although it was interesting to notice a completely different style of speaking from Elder Holland.  I guess growing up I always just lumped the 12 apostles together as one, and didn't ever notice any difference between them, but as I study their words more I see that they definitely have different methods of teaching.  Its a real lesson in just being yourself, the Lord wants the best you can be, not the best you can imitate someone else.
     This past week we've been really focusing on Teaching People, Not Lessons.  They have a brand new curriculum in the MTC that came out right when we came in, focusing on 8 fundamentals of missionary work.  They are:
 The Doctrine of Christ - The missionary purpose
The Role of the Holy Ghost in Conversion
Revelation through Prayer
Revelation through The Book of Mormon
Revelation through Church Attendance
Teach People not lessons
We invite, they commit, we follow up
How to Begin Teaching
      Every week we've focused on one of those fundamentals.  It's really helped me to focus on what exactly are the foundations of missionary work, or rather what do I need to do as a Missionary to be able to point people to Christ.  Each of these fundamentals are focused on doing just that.  I'm really excited that we have the freedom of Preach My Gospel rather than the memorized discussions.  It takes a lot more diligence and hard work to do this correctly but I know that this will bless peoples lives.
       Oh and I saved this for last because I know you are all dying to know where I'm going for the next few months.  My reassignment will be given to me on Wednesday so you'll just have to stay tuned.  Also send me a Dear Elder with when the best time for me to call home is.  I get to call this week after I get my reassignment.  Either Wednesday at 7:30 your time or after 5:15 on Thursday would work best for me.

I love you lots,
Elder Henry

Monday, September 12, 2011

Elder Henry 9/12/11

Dear Mom,
I'm glad you enjoy my letters :).  I'm always worried that I don't send enough details because of the limited time and my lack of attention to detail. 
I'm glad that Spencer is having a blast playing tennis!
I did not get to do my online portion yet.  Its rough waking up every morning hoping that today will be the day that I get to do my online, and going to bed disappointed.  It's a surety that I'll be reassigned at this point.  It takes about 4-6 weeks after you get your online before you get your actual visa (from what we have observed, but even that is a very weak trend). 
This past week has been pretty rough on our district.  All of us have been getting pretty stir crazy.  Being cooped up in the same building for 10-12 hours a day is hard to do.  So there has been some friction, but with some good problem solving it seems the peace has returned.  Its really quite rough because we have a couple of Elders in our district that have a really hard time being here.  They haven't quite figured out that it is time to grow up, they are still stuck in high school and can be quite the bullies.  Hopefully we will be able to continue to help them grow into the missionaries that the Lord has called them to be.
Elder Henry's Spiritual thought for the week!  This morning for Personal Study Time I have been trying to read the Bible cover to cover, and I was reading in Exodus 32 about the Children of Israel building the golden calf to worship.  I was trying to figure out what on earth would posses you to do such a thing?  All Heavenly Father asked of you was to sit here for a little bit and wait for Moses to come down from the Mountain.  Then I started to think, how many times has Heavenly Father told us to just sit and wait for a little bit.  How often does he ask us to be patient but instead we get caught up in what we need right now.  I'm sure the Children of Israel had sick children, or didn't know what to do on the sabbath, or something really hard for them came up.  So they started pestering Aaron and he had no idea what to do.  So thus came the Golden Calf.  When we ask the lord for help we need to have the patience to wait for the answer, lest we build out own Golden Calves.
Portuguese is always quite the rollercoaster.  Its really rough trying to study hard knowing that in a week from Wednesday I'm going to get my state-side reassignment.  Hopefully I won't forget it all by the time its time for me to go down to Brazil.  I keep hearing of awesome missionary stories from Brazil.  I'm so excited to be able to serve down there, I just hope my visa comes.  But perhaps I need to touch the souls of someone in the United States first.  Wherever I go I know the Lord is there with me.

I don't think I know Elder Teuscher, they stuck the new districts in different branches because our Branch is already the largest in the MTC at over 100 missionaries. 

I love to hear about other missionaries missions.  Also if you could get me their address when you forward them that would be awesome.
I hope you are all having a great time back home.  Enjoy your week!
I love you all,
Elder Henry

Dear Dad,
For sure I can see that light at the end of the tunnel.  Only 15 more days here, not that we are counting down or anything.  Only 9 days until we get our reassignments.  Happy Birthday!  I was going to send you a card in the mail but all the cards in the bookstore were super lame.  So instead you get a Happy Birthday email.
Its funny it has actually been pretty rainy for September in Utah.  Its always warm in the afternoons but not the blistering sunny days that I had when I first came to college.  Looks like an early winter this year.  I was about to say fortunately I'll be out of here by then, but with my luck I'll be headed to Salt Lake City, South for my reassignment. 
Finally got started painting the house eh?  You've only been talking about it for what 3 years now?  I have successfully dodged that responsibility :P.  Although right now that actually sounds fun.  Its amazing how much your attitude changes when you have nothing to do but study Portuguese and the Scriptures.  You get so excited about the smallest things.  For instance basketball has become an intrinsic part of my life now.  Its funny how many of my journal entries start out, "Basketball was awesome today!"  or "I couldn't make a freaking shot at Basketball this morning".
I hope you have been enjoying Doctor Who for me.  Sounds like you have an epic season to look forward to.
Love you lots,
Elder Henry

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Happy 18th Birthday Sherry!

From the moment she not-quietly entered the world about exactly 18 years ago to today, we haven't been able to stop Sherry from talking, singing, screaming, shouting, dancing, speaking, and in general being the vortex for all the attention in our home.  None of us would have it any other way.  She has been a joy to raise and we have learned as much from her--or more--as she has from us.  What an amazing blessing it is to be able to give birth and raise children!  I have taken it for granted at times in my life, but at this point with half of my offspring grown and gone I certainly am cherishing every moment.

     Here are some fun things to celebrate our favorite 18 year old:

She looks the same, doesn't she?!  She was around 9 months old on the horsey.  I remember taking her to Valley River Center in Eugene for it.

This one was at her Preschool graduation, age 4.  Note the interesting bangs.  She cut her own bangs more times than I can count!

Always the tomboy, she enjoyed catching a Praying Mantis on one of our family vacations to Yellowstone.

 She was always a pretty little girl.  Again, she looks so much the same!

 She looks alot like her mommy at about age 11, too, here with a school project.

Oh goodness, did I really let her wear those pants?!!  School award ceremony, around grade 2.

 This is one of her senior photos from last year.  She's just beautiful inside and out!  It is so fun to watch her with children of all ages.  Recently we had a ward campout, and all the children were following her around and playing with her.  After a couple hours she sat them down at a picnic table and entertained them with this: 

 And last, this is one of my favorite songs she's ever performed.  It was just perfectly appropriate for her at the time, extremely difficult, and she sang it perfectly!

So pretty much, this video describes my daughter's silly fearless side:

Hilarious, spiritual, student, talented, humble, caring, child-loving, speaker, good friend, camper, smart, giving, servant, loud, quiet, hiker, reader, sports (esp football) fan, listener, dancer, singer, actor, basketball player, Volcano climber, daughter, sister, Child of God.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Latest mission letter from Michael (still at the Provo MTC)

That's awesome news about Spencer's Tennis schedule. I totally see what you are talking about Spencer and Tori being mini-dad and mom.  (I pointed out in our latest family photo, if you take out Mike and Sherry, Tori and Spencer really quite strikingly look like their Mom and Dad respectively).  That's super funny about Elder Yamada.  He was in the ward forever!  Coming up on Elder Clark time neh?  (Elder Yamada is being transferred this week after being in the ward for 6 months--Elder Clark was here 11 months).
So I finally hit my first real milestone this week.  1 transfer done.  It's funny to think that that feels like such an accomplishment, especially considering I have 18ish more to go, but it really has been a trial being at the MTC.  You really learn a lot of Patience and other Christlike attributes.  I'm way excited to head out to the field.
So this past week something SUPER AWESOME happened.  Elder Holland of the Quorum of the 12 came and gave the devotional last Tuesday night.  I don't have my notes on me, but he talked a lot about how we as missionaries have a name to live up to.  That we can't just be 19-20 year old men, but missionaries.  He spoke a lot about his love for us, and then there was a Q and A session.  The spirit that was there was just incredible.  After the devotional nobody even moved for like 5 minutes.  Imagine 2000+ Elders after the closing prayer absolutely still and silent, just sitting in their seats after wards.  It really made me want to improve myself and become more Christlike so that we can be the "apostolic ministers" that he told us we are.
Last week was also a really good week for our investigators.  We now have both of our Progressing Investigators on date for baptism.  I also feel like I can understand the language a lot better.  Although the language is a bit of a roller coaster where one week you feel like you can't say anything and the next you are surprised when you are talking in half English half Portuguese.
Chase Horrocks is in my Branch as well, he lives just one floor above me so I'm really excited for him to be here.  It's going to be great having another friend here at the MTC.
I almost forgot!  Almost half of my district, including my companion, got to do their online applications for their visas last week.  We are all hoping that the rest of us will get a shot this week.  Nobody has obtained a visa yet, but we all have high hopes :).  I didn't get to complete the online last week but I'm really happy that my companion got to do it.
It's really strange now that our district is the oldest in the branch.  I don't feel all that much more knowledgeable, but I still remember thinking the people, who were where I am now when I came, were practically fluent.  Now we have the responsibility of helping out the younger districts.  I still have lots to learn about Portuguese but I'm happy that I am able to help someone with my skills.
I love you all, I hope you are having the time of your lives :)
Elder Henry

 Dear Dad,
I have one question for you.  What does an impression of me sound like? :P. (Elder Yamada did a hilarious but unintentional "Michael Henry, Ward Mission Leader" impression at dinner last night that Damon told Mike about).  I'm glad that you didn't kill yourself falling off the roof.  Just because your Mom came near death during your mission doesn't give you the right to kick the bucket while I'm gone.  You have to take care of yourself for your grandkids :).  (Damon's mom succumbed to cancer 5 months after he got home)
What's the house like with only 4 people at home?  I imagine its much quieter nowadays.  Mom says there is lots of work being done no both Mine and Sherry's room.  Sounds like I'll be sleeping in the playroom when I get home huh?  Maybe I'll just move straight to Provo when I come back :P.
 Everything is going great here at the MTC.  Being a missionary is hard don't get me wrong, but I can't ever think of a time that I have been so happy.  I'm not even in the field yet and I think its hard!  I'm doooomed XD.
 Com muito amor,
Elder Henry

It's about time...

This tech-savvy family joined the world of Blogging.  I think its a great way to share Michael's mission letters, Sherry's adventures leaving at BYU, Spencer and Tori's humorous antics,  keep a family journal, and to hopefully make life more interesting! 
     Well I guess that second photo describes the behind the scenes of our family.  We like to laugh alot, Damon is always making awkward jokes (such as the time he told the missionaries that our ward "only sacrifices virgins to the best Elders..."  embarrassing!), Sherry trying to make jokes as awkward as her dad, everyone entertaining each other with their own talents and personalities, me trying to keep control but not quite succeeding...
     We are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.  We love to share our beliefs, but if you believe differently we all respect that, too.  We try to live better each day.  Damon is a computer engineer/programmer type as well as Stake Athletic Director and Lisa is a mom, Stake Music Chairman and works for Crafts Americana Group doing customer service.  Michael is a missionary waiting for his visa to Brazil, he is studying Economics at BYU.  Sherry is studying musical theater at BYU, she just finished her first week.  Spencer is in high school and is on the tennis team, and Tori is in middle school. 
     I will end this intro now and get onto posting Michael's latest mission letter.