Monday, July 27, 2015

27 July 2015 - From Near Famine to Feast!

Hello Everyone!

It has been another great week here in Omaha! My companion and I were blessed with a ton of success this week.  First off, we found 3 new investigators which is awesome!   We currently have a total of 24 people that we are teaching/working with at some level.  Now, granted not all of them are progressing or are interested at the same level, but what a blessing and a great opportunity.  We are also meeting with a good number members we don't see often (or ever) at church and lately a few more of them have started coming to church more, which is awesome! I'm very blessed to be in this area and am thrilled with the prospects of having a ton of work to do out here.

The other day my companion and I were out walking and trying to contact some people. We are running really low on our allotted number of driving miles and so we have been walking more and more. It was an extremely hot day, the temperature was 97 degrees with 80% humidity, so it "felt like" (as they say on the weather) like 110 degrees. I don't think I have ever been so hot.  We were both drenched in sweat; it was almost like we were standing in a pool of water.  Even though it was a terribly hot day, the Lord blessed us for our willingness to work,  and we found two new investigators--worth it all!

The ward here is awesome...and yes, considering it is a ward and not a branch, it is much bigger.  Like the city itself, the ward is comprised of a diverse group of people.  You know my love for Asian people, well there are two Chinese families in this ward and we've been invited to have dinner with both of them.  The mother in one family started getting after the kids in Chinese while we were at the table, and I couldn't help but crack a smile.  In fact, it was almost hard for me not to laugh--I think their language sounds so cool. I love those families already and can't wait to serve around them more.  We haven't had to cook dinner a single night since I've been here, the members have fed us every night so far. 

YES, there are TONS of trees here. See? I told you there were lots of trees out here. You laugh because, still "under the influence" after having my wisdom teeth out, I asked you on the way home if we were in Nebraska.  Perhaps, during that time I was influenced by the medication, I had a vision of where I would be serving!  ;)  Ha!  Omaha is a beautiful city. It actually reminds me a lot of Utah, but it has more hills and no mountains.

Yeah, it has been nice to have such good support from everyone back home...did the Spencer's ever get my letter? You should ask for me. 

Well I love you all.  I'm loving life and and I'm having a great time!

Love, Elder Rasmussen

Monday, July 20, 2015

20 July 2015 - Humid Cicada Paradise

I'm really enjoying my time here in Omaha! I'm finally starting to get the area down and it has been even better now that I'm getting to know the ward members and all of our investigators. A lot of people are out of town for their last summer vacations..apparently school starts for kids here at the beginning of August (sounds like their school district is even more of a Nazi district than the one I was in).  Ha!  I am also happy to report that Marshall is also doing really well and that the Elders there are again doing great work.  I certainly did my best, but sometimes a change with missionaries is good and a true blessing for everyone.  I hear the Elder that replaced me is one of those "get it done Elders" and accomplishes a ton of work everywhere he serves. I'm truly glad for all involved.
We taught a lot of people this week and we are hoping that we will be able to teach even more. Elder Hansen and I are getting along great. We are still working on getting all the "new companion kinks out" and learning how to best work with each other, but we are having fun while we work and that's making a big difference.  We have a lot of potential here and I'm so happy to be able to say that I look forward to serving in this area with each upcoming week. Our days are mostly full and I know that the Lord is blessing us as we continue to be obedient and to try our hardest to find those who are ready for the gospel. This past week flew by and I can tell that the upcoming weeks will be similar. Serving in a big city is a lot of fun as you never know who you are going to run into and what things are going to happen.
It has been super hot here..temperatures in the 95+ range with like 80% humidity, so it's been really hot.  Mom, you would hate it here...the temps and humidity are ridiculous and there are plenty of giant cicadas that would certainly take nest in your hair.  HAHAHA!
As far as our living arrangements go, we stay in the basement where there is a separate living room, bathroom, and bedroom. We share a kitchen, but they really love us coming up every night to eat their ice cream and cake..which I suppose is good for me =).  We are careful to never overstep our bounds or take advantage of their generosity.
Do I still find Cort "cuddly?"'s funny you brought that up.  I was thinking about it the other day and I would probably have to say, "No."  Though, I'm not around him so that may change when I get home ;).  While I loved teasing him about being cuddly, it seems like a weird thing to say now.  Does Noah still find him cuddly?
Well, thanks for all you do.  Love you guys so much.

13 July 2015 - Sierra Leone and Lots of Ice Cream...a Dog Too!

Well, I have some bad news...
looks like I'll be serving for 6 more weeks...
as a missionary...
but not in Marshall!
I had you going for a second there, didn't I? Well, I actually have some fantastic news! I was transferred and I'm now in the Old Mill Nebraska area. Not what you might think.  When I heard the name I thought, "Great...another tiny town where there won't be much to do." But it is actually right in the middle of Omaha so it's been quite a big change. So far I'm really enjoying it! There are lots of things to do here and lots of people to talk to.  When I met with our new Mission President, I told him I had been in my area for a long time, but that I would serve wherever he felt the Lord wanted me to be.
My companion is Elder Hansen from Nampa, ID.  He is pretty sweet--super quiet which is a quite change from my last companion who was VERY talkative. We get a long really well. He has been out for 17 months. Most of my companions have been Elders that are toward the end of their missions. Elder Hansen has red hair, is a little taller than me, pretty average weight and all that good stuff.
So yeah, I'm really loving it so far and we have a great ward. The Bishop of our ward is from Africa.  I'm guessing South Africa because he has a hint of a British accent, but I'm not entirely sure. He is a dentist and seems very successful and well off.
Our area is a mix of just about every range and type of people. We have very, very nice areas where people live in expensive homes and we also cover the straight up gangster ghetto, which is pretty cool actually...sketchy at times..but cool. There is a lot more diversity here and we are teaching a lot of people which is a relief from not having many people to teach--which was the case in Marshall.
People here are, so far,  much more open minded and are willing to let us in and hear our message. We currently have 6 people on date for baptism, and while some of them will probably change those dates for various reasons, it's so nice to know that we have people who want to learn about the gospel.  
We are teaching a woman from Sierra Leone, and she speaks very little English.  Luckily, we have a member who speaks French and helps translate for us.  The lessons are very different, almost  awkward, because Elder Hansen and I don't feel like the active teachers, but it's cool to hear them talk back and forth in French.
Things are going really well here and I'm looking forward to working with the people in this area. We live with members who are wonderful. They are an older couple who treat us like their grandkids so it's awesome. They have so kindly opened their home to us and invite us to eat whatever we want and such. We don't really eat their food but every night when we come in, they always ask us if we want ice cream and then will continue to ask and pry until we break down and have something to eat. I love them already and have really been enjoying staying there. They have a dog so that's pretty cool too; it's nice to come home and play with the dog for a few minutes.
It feels odd to be past one year. I wouldn't say that I feel I'm on the down hill side of things but rather that it feels that I'm starting over..after going into a new mission.  Since I don't know anyone and it's in the middle of the summer, it again feels like I'm just newly out, but that I actually know how to teach people now.  I will say that the days are going by very quickly, so it will be interesting to see how the rest of the year goes overall.
Well that's about all for this week, love you all a ton, thanks for the prayers!
-Elder Rasmussen

6 July 2015 - Really Cool...and Young!

Hello Everyone!
Well, this week was a rather interesting one. You know, being in a small town like Marshall doesn't really allow for a huge influx of people to come in the Holidays. In fact I'm pretty sure most people left for the 4th, so there wasn't really anyone to talk to.
We met our new mission president and he is really cool. He is in his early 50's so he is still pretty young for a mission president. He is super chill and knows how to encourage and motivate you while simultaneously being able to tell you you need to shape up without making you feel like you are going to burn in Hell because improvement is needed.  Haha! He said that He is going to make some big changes in the mission so I'm guessing, and praying, that something will happen with transfers. He said that we wants us to refer to the mission as "the Nebraska Omaha Mission" not "N.O.M. plus the Sioux Falls Stake."  I'm assuming he is going to integrate a lot of the other missionaries in this area and move a lot of us out. Most people in the branch have been predicting that I'm staying and my companion is moving on. I guess we will see, but the branch members have a history of typically being right. 
We had an alright 4th of July we couldn't do a lot of missionary work because people were all "I don't want to be bothered by your religion while it's Independence Day!" *Door Slams* So we just did what we could and visited less-active members and a few members we see often for the most part. We couldn't see the fireworks because it doesn't get dark until 9:30 here, and that's our we just heard pops and bangs all night long while waving glow sticks in the air that we got from home.
Other than that, it has been a pretty basic week. Hopefully some new and exciting things will start to happen. I have arrived at my one year mark and overall, it has gone by quickly. I have loved being a missionary and can also honestly say I'm glad I'm half way done. I'm also looking forward to all of the exciting adventures that await me!  I'm hoping to be a better missionary overall in year two.  Mom asked where I'd want to go next?  I'd say anywhere that's a little bigger area/more populated.  You know I'm all about small town life, but I really enjoyed being around other missionaries, especially on P-Days. It can be hard when it's just you and your companion for weeks and weeks.  Having other missionaries close by provide a nice and welcomed break for all.
Thanks for all of your love and support! Love you!
-Elder Rasmussen

29 June 2015 - New, New Mission President and it's Very Smokey Outside.

Well, today we get a new, new mission president. President and Sister Gardner are suppose to arrive today at some time, they've likely already arrived by now. We will get to meet them on Thursday, in Sioux City, a 3-4 hour drive depending on which one of us is driving. I'm excited to be able to meet them, I heard they are super cool and very nice. I guess that's probably what is said about every mission president but I hope that it is true.
I wish I had more to report on the work here, you are all probably sick of hearing that but I'm afraid that the work is still slow here. I hope that we will soon be able to meet with our one active investigator again.  Unfortunately, we lost contact with her and don't know if we will be able to teach her anytime soon unless she gets a new job. Oh well, I know that the Lord has plans for us here and work to do, so we continue looking for that person out there that is waiting for us to knock on their door.

So it's pretty hot outside back home huh? It's been pretty nice here mostly in the 80's but the humidity has been pretty high. All of the farmers have started burning stuff--I'm not sure why--but it is very,  very smokey outside.  Noah can't complain about working...he didn't work a day in his life until he got that job. Ha! He probably hasn't even mowed the lawn yet..can he even push the mower?  ;) (Hey Caitlin..Duh nuh nuh nuh..*As Noah is pushing the mower* ) 

Answers to Mom's Questions:
1)Tornadoes no..but heavy storms that could easily turn into tornadoes, yes.
2) Special schedule on the 4th of July? it's a pretty normal day. There might be a parade I don't know, we don't hear anything about stuff like that.
3) Transfers process...we normally find out a day or two before, and then a huge van comes and picks us up (and our luggage) and drives us to our new area.  We get out of the van and work in our new area begins. 

Yeah,  not all of the time is fun on a mission, but I'm hanging in there.  Transfers are soon and a change is likely. If there is NO CHANGE, I will have to talk to someone ;)   4 transfers in the same area with the same companion is challenging even for the best of companionships.  
Well, I hope everyone has a fantastic week! Love you all! 

-Elder Rasmussen