Monday, October 31, 2011

Letter from Elder Henry, pics of the girls

Dear Mom,
YAY!!!  That's awesome that Trevor was baptized!!  There is no better news to a missionary then that of a baptism in a former area with someone you worked with.  I'm so glad that everything worked out for him.
I'm still here in Huntington Beach 1st and Pierside wards.  My address is the same as before, and anyone who was worried that I might not have gotten their letters, I sent out the news that I would be transfered a week early.  Transfers aren't until tomorrow, sorry if that confused anyone.
Speak of Transfers my trainer, Elder Stringham is being transfered to Long Beach, and Elder Mathews and I are staying.  We'll be recieving a new companion Elder Chadwick tomorrow.  He's supposed to be one of the best missionaries in the mission, so I'm super excited.
My Portuguese is officially ruined.  I was talking to a member in the ward in Portuguese yesterday and he said, how is the work going, which is a super easy phrase and I still couldn't understand him.  I'm not too worried though, once I get to Brazil I'll pick things back up pretty quick.  So far as Visa's go, the two other visa waiters who came out with me to Long Beach both got their Visas, so they are in Brazil right now.  I'm half jealous, half excited because at least visas seem to be picking up in speed.  My guess though is I'll be in Long Beach through 2011.  Which isn't a bad thing, by the way ;).  I'm super excited to spend the holidays with the ward here :D.
That's awesome that Tori won the contest!  You'll definitely have to send me Photo's :).  I also love the picture she sent me.  Sorry my handwriting is poor Tori, I'll work on that for you, or you can always send me e-mails, and that way you can read them.
I'm stuck down here in Trojan country so its hard to get updates about the Ducks.  From what I hear though this week we play Stanford and that (pretty much) decides who's going to be the Top Dog of the PAC-12.  So thank you for all the updates :).
I forgot my SD-Card to USB stick so no pictures this week, I'm sorry :(.  I've been taking pictures though so you will get some next week, and you'll get to see my new companion.
This past week was a bit of a mixed bag.  We've been recieving tons of referrals, but have a hard time contacting them, so we didn't teach as many lessons as I would have liked.  I also had my first disaster of a lesson last week, which I guess happens to all missionaries at one point or another.  I was teaching by myself because we were on splits with a new investigator.  Her name is J, and her boyfriend S is a member.  She felt really uncomfortable, and stopped me at the end of the lesson.  The member S got pretty upset with Elder Stringham because he sent a newbie to teach the lesson.
I've tried my hardest to learn from this trial, and its pretty rough when you are getting a verbal rebuke from a member but part of humility is being able to accept criticism, even when its not very constructive.  The important part about the lesson is that I did my very best, and the spirit was really strong in the lesson.  I certainly can improve my teaching skills, and I will throughout my mission, but for now all I can give is what I have.
Not to be a downer on anyone's day, I want you all to know that I'm really happy out here.  Some really awesome things happened this last week as well.  For instance, B one of our former investigators that we have been doing service for, really is starting to warm back up to us.  Yesterday he came with us to a departing missionary farewell, and he really enjoyed that.  Hopefully he will want to resume having us teach as well as serve him, but I think that we will just continue to do as Ammon and serve until he comes to us.
We also picked up a new investigator last week.  His name is G, and I don't know all that much about him.  I wasn't in the lesson with him, but what I do know is that he promised to read the whole Book of Mormon by last Friday.  Hopefully he did, but we will see.  It's always fun to have new people to teach.  One thing I'm really grateful for is the amount of time we get to sit down with just us and the investigators.  It's awesome to meet new people and try and share the gospel with them.
We also had a less active come to the family history center with us last week.  I think I might of mentioned Bro. H before in my E-mails (if I haven't he's an older man 80's who's an inactive member of the church).  He absolutely loved coming and doing family history work!  He had a great experience and he's opened up a lot more to us after that.  He's also told us why he doesn't come to church, and hopefully we'll be able to work through that with him.
I think that's the highlights of the week, no baptisms yet, but I feel them coming soon.  I think that the next two months will be some of the best months of my mission.  The work here is doing great.  I hope everyone at home is taking the time to be a good missionary ;)
I'm so grateful for all your letters and support, it means the world to me to recieve letters from you guys :).
Elder Henry
P.S.  Mission President is making us stay in for Halloween this year.  How crazy is that?  Apparently Mormon Missionaries are supposed to be a big costume this year, so President doesn't want us getting mixed up for fakes.  I hope we get trick-or-treaters tonight :).

Here is Tori in her Halloween costume, she actually won a prize at our Ward Party, it was the first time she's ever won anything and she was so excited!
Here are a couple more photos of Sherry at BYU with the best roommates a mom could ever hope for her daughter!  

Sherry is the tall one of the group...she can thank her Dad for those genes!  Happy Halloween!

Sherry and her roommates Emily (L) and Hannah (R) after running the Parents Weekend 5K.  It was Sherry's first ever race and she placed 6th out of the 150 or so women!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Oct. 24th Letters and Photos from Mike

Photo from a half mission conference Long Beach Mission, Michael is in the second row, fourth from the right.

Dear Mom,  
     Sunday's are by far the best day of the week.  Since we cover two wards we get to go to 2 sacrament meetings, and 5 hours total of church.  It's so awesome going to church as a Missionary, because it is your responsibility and calling to go and meet all the people you don't know in the ward.  We had an awesome sacrament meeting yesterday in the Pierside Singles Ward, where the bishop got up and asked people to come up and share with us their favorite hymn, and a quick testimony about that hymn.  Then the congregation would sing the first verse of the hymn.  It was amazing!  The spirit was so strong in that meeting, Hymns are just an amazing way to feel closer to our Savior and Heavenly Father.
     We had an interesting thing happen to us yesterday at church though.  There was a non-member who was there and loved all three meetings at church.  We were thinking AWESOME!!!  Golden investigator.  The catch is he's Muslim and from Egypt, and right now we can't teach people from Egypt, because their lives might be in danger if their family heard that they were thinking of switching religions.  Hopefully things will get worked out, because he really loves church.
     I really have no idea what's going on in politics at the moment.  It's crazy to think I'm in the middle of California and yet I have no idea what's going on in the world!
     So MK our favorite investigator went through another rough time last week.  She got fired from her job, and so she moved back to San Jose, California.  We are forwarding her onto the missionaries up there and hopefully she will be baptized up there, but she's out of our hands now.  Its sad to see our best investigator go through so much opposition trying to get to baptism.
     We do have one investigator who is progressing though :).  V had another lesson this past week and is reading the Book of Mormon.  We should be having another lesson this week with him.  Hopefully his wife will come around as well, she's going to be the real struggle, because she's happy where she is at.  Hopefully the Lord will work some magic with her.
     We also have a lot of people with a lot of potential to start teaching so hopefully some more people will be coming our way.  I'll tell you what though, when I get to Brasil, I'm really going to appreciate how many people I'll be able to teach ^^;.
     I had a really cool experience this past week.  We went on exchanges with the Zone Leaders, and they are in the Spanish area.  Well my trainer decided to send me to their area because, "it would be good for your Portuguese".  Man was I terrified!  But I got to the area and a prayed that I would be able to understand and participate in the work there, I didn't want to just sit there and be useless for 24 hours.  During all the lessons we had with the Spanish speakers I was able to understand everything they said.  Portuguese is pretty similar to Spanish, but I don't really speak all that much Portuguese, but the Lord took what little I did know and magnified it so that I was able to understand Spanish.  I'm really thankful for the gifts of the spirit, and I know that without Heavenly Father's help I wouldn't have been able to understand very much at all.
     Well I'm happy everything is going well on the home front.  Good luck with the Job, I'm really grateful for the sacrifice you are making so that I can be out here.  I love you all so much, thanks to everyone who has sent me letters.  I will try and write back as soon as possible, but P-days are SUPER busy, so please understand if you don't get one back quickly.
Elder Henry
Also this week is transfers, so send all your letters to the mission office instead of my apartment this week.  I'll send you my new address if I get transferred.  The Mission office address is:
 Elder Michael J. Henry
6500 E Atherton St.
Long Beach, CA 90815

Hey Dad,

This week was a little bit rough, but it ended on a good note which always kind of wipes away any bad feelings.  We spent a lot of time last week trying to find new people, and we are getting a lot of people who could have potential.  Hopefully we will find some new people to teach soon.
     We get to go to the Ward Trunk-or-Treat this weekend and I'm SUPER stoked!  I really love to two wards I'm in and I'm hoping I don't get transfered this week because I finally am getting to know the members and making relationships with them.  I feel like we are on the verge of a huge surge of investigators, and hopefully baptisms.  It's super exciting to be here right now.
     I really like the Road to Damascus talk.  Paul is my hero when it comes to being an awesome missionary.  He's such an amazing example of how important it is to talk to everyone and always be moving to find new people to teach and baptize.
     I actually haven't played basketball since I left the MTC.  P-days are really busy for us because we have to drive other missionaries around so they can buy groceries and the like.  Although today we have a sporting activity so maybe we will play some Basketball.
     I don't know if you remember how much it means to have members feed you, but I think it is always one of my top 3 things I look forward to in my day.  I love being able to meet with the members and eat food :D.
     I'm really excited to go to Brasil, and I actually met someone this past week who served a mission in Porto Alegre back in 1978-1980.  It was a ton of fun talking to him about how he had to wait in the MTC for his visa, but how awesome it was down there.  The most important part though is not to waste a single day of my mission, regardless of where I am.  I never want to look back on my mission and think I didn't give it my all.
     I'm glad things are going well, I better e-mail mom before I run out of time.  I love you dad, thanks for all your support,
Elder Henry

Elder Henry (right) with his MTC District at the Provo Temple.

 There is picture of a can of Bird's nest drink that I tried, which is a drink that they make in Asia from a bird that gathers up all sorts of stuff into the nest.  Then they take the nest and make it into a drink, it was quite... interesting.
 My District at the MTC, with my Professor Irmao Villanova

  MTC District with Professor Irma Gonzales

My companions in our NOW clean (thanks to Elder Henry) apartment You would be so proud of me, I came into the apartment and I have been cleaning it bit by bit until its up to Mom(ish) standards.  It was a pig-sty when I first came in.

Friday, October 21, 2011

BYU Photos

A million reasons why BYU is the most wonderful place to send your children to college.

Click on the link to see pics of the first part of Sherry's freshman year.  (Sure wish Mike would've taken photos of his freshman year!).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Elder Henry Week 3 in Huntington Beach (he isn't starving!)

Dear Mom,
I did get lots from everyone thank you all for your help.  I promise I won't starve ^^;.  I'm really glad to have been able to go to college before my mission and understand how to cook for myself.  Otherwise I don't know how I would survive
This morning at 4:30am we got up to go to the 6:00am session at the temple.  The Newport Beach California Temple is absolutely gorgeous.  Although it is super tiny.  The Temple usually isn't open on Monday's and so we usually have P-day's on Tuesday for when we go to the Temple, buuuut our stake had a special day at the temple.
I've never heard of this before but our Temple President lives in our stake, and apparently for a couple of years, once a year our stake will go on a monday and Staff the entire temple.  Our stake provides all the workers, and the attendees, and it was absolutely packed there.  There wasn't a seat open in the 6:00am session and when we left there was no room in the parking lot.  It was really neat to go and see all familiar faces in the temple.  There is nothing like going to the temple with a bunch of friends, when you recognize the temple workers, realize the stake president is sitting right next to you, and all the rows are taken up by friends, there is a feeling of love and commradery in the temple that I have never before felt.  I highly recommend to go to the Temple with friends.
This past week has been really busy for missionary work.  We taught 30 lessons this last week which is a record for my area, and we picked up a couple new investigators.
The first big news is our Investigator Mckenzie, who dropped us 2 weeks ago text us yesterday and asked if we could meet.  She's been coming to church still and wants to resume taking the lessons.  We haven't committed her to baptism yet, because we don't want to overstress her again, but that is definitely her goal.
Second big news is our other investigator, Bobby, who also dropped us said we can come by and still do service for him.  It's not a baptism, or even teaching the lessons, but as we learn from Ammon in the Book of Mormon, we just need to serve.  When we serve we show our love for people, and their hearts will be turned eventually.  Missionary work here certainly isn't a meet someone, and they are baptised two weeks later.  All 5 of our recent converts took about a year to 18 months to finally commit.  The important part is that we each take the effort to help people along at whatever pace they need, just like heavenly father allows each of us to turn to him on our own time.
Third we picked up a new investigator family.  They were a referral from one of our ward members and they set up a dinner appointment.  They were really friendly and we taught them the First lesson.  Lydia and Vas are the parents names and you couldn't have two friendlier neighbors.  Vas is from Romania, and Lydia is from Canada (Toronto for you Canadians reading this e-mail).  Hopefully they will continue to investigate, but they have awesome fellowship regardless.  There is nothing better to hear from a member, than to show up at their house and have them drag you to their neighbors and say, "Hey what are you doing monday night.  You need to listen to these guys and we'll make dinner out of it."
The best way for missionaries to work is to have the members invite their friends to activities, or to invite friends to meet with the missionaries.  Also, DO NOT WORRY about missionaries offending your friends by being overbearing.  We are very aware that sometimes people have friends who are just coming over for dinner.  Just let us know ahead of time what you expect, (i.e. just a spiritual thought, or teach them the 1st lesson, or they just have a couple questions) and we will tailor the lesson to that individual.
I'm happy to hear that the new job is working out for you, especially financially.  That's so cute that Tori is so excited for Halloween.  I certainly miss Tori's enthusiasm for such events.  It's so much fun to go into the houses of members and meet their kids and their families.  It always makes me think of when we were little kids and how excited Tori would get for Christmas, Birthdays, and all other manner of Hollidays.
Catalina Island is in our mission, but it is a closed area right now.  Its much more of a tourist trap than it is a residential area.  There is a small branch that meets there but president doesn't have missionaries there right now.  Also update on the picture front.  I am allowed to upload pictures onto the computer and e-mail them to you, but we just came from the Temple and I didn't bring my camera with me.  So for sure you will have pictures next week of our adventures.  Although to be honest I only have like 3 pictures in Huntington Beach right now, so I'll make sure to take some this P-day so I have pictures to send home.
If you just put money into my account that works for me, I just don't know how much is in there and if you want me accessing it.  I have survived on less at college, it just isn't very fun ;).  Also I'm finally stockpiling a little food here and there so I at least have something to eat.  Also I never saw Bobby's son. My comment about needing food was to a certain Kelsey Mills who has been promising me a care package for 3 weeks now and I still haven't received one :P.
Anyways I need to E-mail President Bubert.  I love you all, thank you all for your letters and support.  I love to hear from everyone, it's so much fun to get a letter from someone back home.  I try my hardest to reply to everyone who sends me mail, but sometimes P-day gets too busy.
Thank you,
Elder Henry

Dear Dad,

Yesterday was the Primary Program in our family ward here as well.  It was super awesome because one of the members brought a friend he's been working to teach with and the kids did an excellent job of teaching the Gospel.  It was a perfect sunday for a non-member to be there.
That's exciting news about the 100 visa's being aproved for Brazil.  Hopefully I will be able to leave for Brazil soon, but I'm enjoying my time in Huntington Beach as is.  The work here is doing great, and you can't beat the weather down here ;).
Mitch sent me a copy of his travel adventures in the mail, so don't worry too much about losing your copy to forward.
You know I can understand a little bit more how Mom and Sherry work being on a mission.  I know that they love each other and that Mom wants the best for Sherry, and Sherry wants to be a good daughter but there is still friction.  I'm having a bit of the same experience with one of my companions right now, where I realized I really love him and I have to focus on that rather than things that bother me. 
I hope that makes sense.  I know that my companion, as trying as he can be on my paitience, was put with me for a reason and that I know one day I'll meet back up with him and it will be like we are long lost brothers, but relationships are not easy, especially with random people.  I'm just lucky to be born in a day where the standards for missionaries have been raised and I have really hard working companions.

Anyways I better e-mail mom, I love you Dad,
Elder Henry

Monday, October 10, 2011

Week 2 in Huntington Beach CA

OK readers, I have to say that its a tough feeling knowing my little boy is out there working hard and starving!  So if you know any LDS Missionaries, please make sure they have enough food for breakfasts and lunches.  $23 a week to feed my 6'2" 210 pound son two meals a day is just not enough.  Sherry could probably manage on that, but not Mike!  Probably this is just a "warmup" for Brazil though!  Poor guy!  They fed him too well in the MTC!!!
    I've been updating everyone on Mike each week, but not the other kids.  Tori is doing pretty well in school so far this year.  She has to work so much harder than anyone else, but she continues to overperform despite her disabilities.  She enjoys playing with her neighborhood friends still, they played baseball in the cul de sac the other night, and also enjoys Young Women's.  We're so glad to have the Gibert cousins around the corner still, too!  Spencer absolutely adores playing tennis this year.  He's improved a ton and plans to continue working on it this winter and next spring/summer to try to make Varsity possibly.  He's just such a good, kind, fun person.  He needs to kick it up a notch grade-wise though, his lofty goal of going to BYU and becoming a surgeon kind of depends on it!  Sherry is treasuring her independence at BYU.  We don't hear from her nearly enough but she assures us its because she is relishing the rigorous coursework.  She's enjoying the home football games too, and they just had Homecoming last week with all sorts of activities and a parade (we're supposed to talk to her tonight and hear all about it hopefully).  She was going to audition for Disney this week but has two reviews for midterms that day so she can't go.  But it was for the winter college program anyway, and they come back again toward Springtime.  Its been great to see her take her responsible adult nature to the next level.
    Damon and I are busy working and enjoying our smaller, quieter family.  
Make it a beautiful day!
Oh no!  Tori is going to be huge when I get home XD.
We don't have walgreens down here, everything is CVS pharmacy which is strange, but if you get me some money I'll try and print off some pictures for you.  I haven't really taken any of California but I have about 100 of the MTC. 

We aren't allowed to go near the beaches, the rule in the mission is "where the sand starts the mission ends" so It's out of the mission to go, but we do drive down Pacific Coast Highway quite a bit because our area is right on the coast.  So I at least get to see the beaches every now and again.
We actually had two days of downpour this past week, and it gets pretty chilly at nights, but it always burns off in the afternoon and we hit the high 70's low 80's with blue skies.  We are in like the perfect area though because its nice and warm with a cool seabreaze to keep us from baking in the sun.  So pretty much it's paradise ;).
I could really use some food, we only have $23 dollars a week for groceries, laundry, and washing the car so I've been pretty hungry lately.  I don't know what grocery prices are up in Vancouver but here everything is soooo expensive.  I spent my entire weekly grocery money on 1 gallon milk, brick of cheese, 1 loaf bread, and 1 box of cap'n crunch (which was on sale), and a thing of rice.  The members are pretty good at feeding us dinners, but its the other meals that I'm worried about.
This past week we have had it pretty rough.  Our investigator who was to be baptized last Sunday, Mckenzie, text us and said, "I need some time", so she isn't baptized and she doesn't want to be taught anymore.  Our other good investigator B, a 77 year old man, got anti'd by his pastor, and now won't meet with us.  All our other investigators have been really hard to get a hold of, so we pretty much were at ground zero.
But not all is bad!  We are doing really well with the members and have received just heaps of referrals.  Not only that but this week we have appointments with 2 investigator families and YSA investigator.  Hopefully we will be able to bring the spirit into their homes, and help them to truly be converted to Christ.  I'm really grateful for the opportunity to be serving in this area.
We have a bunch of less active people that we are working with as well, and one of them received the aaronic priesthood this past Sunday.  It was a huge success and you could tell the Bishop, and P (the L.A.) were just super happy to have finally made it there.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Michael's first week in Huntington Beach!

Greetings from Huntington Beach, California!
My address is:
320 Nashville Ave.
Apt 14
Huntington Beach, CA 92648
Where do I begin?  This past week has been crazy!
Last Tuesday I flew into Long Beach Airport and met my Mission President and his wife, AP's and had a quick orientation.  Our mission is apparently the second to smallest proselyting mission in the whole world.  Second only to a mission in South America, (possibly Mexico City or Santiago, Chille I can't remember which at the moment).  Upon arriving at the mission office we were told that 2 of the 3 of us would be serving in Spanish speaking areas.  I lucked out though and got sent English speaking :).  I'm serving in the Huntington Beach 1st ward, and the Pierside YSA ward and I absolutely love them!  These are probably the two best wards in the world to serve in.
After I got to my new area with my two new companions, Elder Matthews (from Spanish Fork, UT) and Elder Stringham (from West Valley, UT) we then went to work that night at 5:00.  Well if you consider eating with members work ;).  We met with the Bishop from 1st ward that night and talked with him about how we could help the ward.  We've been working really closely with the Ward leaders in both Wards.  Our Mission President wants us working almost exclusively through member referrals down here so we have been spending lots of time getting to know the members and earn their trust.  My two companions have done an excellent job before me, and the Pierside Ward especially is on fire with the spirit of Missionary work.  You have no idea how much it means to a missionary to receive a referral from a member.  Missionary work is so much better being able to already have that friend base there when we have lessons with investigators.
One thing that my Mission President told me when we came in is we all need both a Spiritual and a Social Conversion to the Church.  People aren't going to want to come to church where they can receive spiritual revelation if they don't have any friends there.  The Prophet Gordon B. Hinckley also told us of this need.  He said every new Convert needs a Friend, a Calling, and the nourishment of the good word of God.
This week we were supposed to have a baptism.  Her name is MK and both Elders were super excited for her to be baptised, but she didn't show up to our appointment last Friday, and we haven't really talked to her.  Apparently she moved down to Oceanside, CA near San Diego yesterday, but is still going to come up to Huntington Beach for work and school.  We are all really disapointed because she really wants to be baptised.  Hopefully she will make contact with us again and will be able to make that Baptisimal covenant with the Lord.
We've had some really good experiences last week though.  We've been able to contact a couple of less-active members last week and they said that they felt the spirit during our lessons.  Hopefully we will be able to bring them back to church, and they will be able to turn their lives around.
We are working with and excommunicated member of the Church right now come back into full fellowship with the church.  I'm not quite sure the whole story, but we met with him on Sunday and he's a huge WWII buff!  What a perfect match for Elder Henry ;).  The missionaries have been working with him for a while now, and I'm not quite sure how close he is to being reinstated and rebaptized, but we are all very hopeful for him.
We also had the opportunity last week to give priesthood blessings to 3 non-members, which sounds like a lot but they were all inspired by the spirit.  Its a little scary to rely on just the spirit and try and follow those subtle promptings, but my trainer Elder Stringham is an excellent example for me.  Each non-member felt the spirit and power of the blessings we gave and hopefully they will be able to continue and make progress.  We are on the verge of a very exciting time here in Huntington Beach.  There are a couple of families looking to start investigating the church, as well as some Young Adults who are friends of the Pierside ward.  I wouldn't want to be any place then here right now.  I'm soooooo excited to continue working this week.
I love you all, thank you for all your support,
Elder Henry
Hey Dad!

How exciting was conference this time, eh? I was super excited to hear about the new Provo Temple. It should be being completed sometime around the same time I get back home. At least I hear it takes them about 2 years here in the states. I was really bummed out that the Provo Tabernacle burned down while I was in Provo. I don't know if you know this or not, but when we went on our tour to Utah in the Boychoir we sang in the Provo Tabernacle. It was a beautiful building.
     I'm really glad you got the oppertunity to go out and visit Sherry. That's really cool that Sasha got to come with as well. I know how much they enjoy their time together. Every session of conference I would think about how you and the rest of the family was watching, and it made me feel like I was close to you all because we were doing the same activity together. Kind of a strange thought, but I quite enjoyed it.
     I'm not quite sure what is in store for me this P-day but I sure hope it includes basketball. I'm itching to hit the court.
     I'm really blessed with a trainer who is super obedient and just loves the work. Elder Stringham also speaks Spanish so we can converse pretty well. We also had the privilage of being fed by one of the families in the Spanish branch on Sat/Sun Lunch between sessions and I was able to understand about 70% of what they were saying, although they made fun of my Portuguese :P. This Tuesday I'm going on splits with the Zone Leaders, and they cover the Spanish Branch, so I'm going to have fun speaking Portuguese to the Spanish speaking families. I hope I don't die XP.
      Anyways I need to write my Mission President. I love you all, I hope you have a safe trip home,

Elder Henry