Monday, March 7, 2016

February 29, 2016: I have walked 500 miles.... And I'll probably walk 500 more

"In a hundred small ways, all of you wear the mantle of charity. Life
is perfect for none of us. Rather than being judgmental and critical
of each other, may we have the pure love of Christ for our fellow
travelers in this journey through life. May we recognize that each one
is doing [their] best to deal with the challenges which come [their]
way, and may we strive to do our best to help out." (President Thomas
S. Monson, Charity Never Faileth, October 2010 conference)

Do you see others around you in need of help? If not, you're not
looking. Every person around you is struggling through this journey of
life, just as bad if not worse than you are. Matthew 22 also
exemplifies this great principle- "Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and
with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the
second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." So
the lord tells us to love God, and love our neighbors.... But how do
we show God that we love him?! Well, Mosiah 2:17 and Matthew 25:40
tell us that if we want to serve God (and we serve and follow those
love and serve others.
Find someone each day this week who needs your help. Pray for the
opportunities to help. As you put your faith in God he will provide a
way for you to help his other children. But remember- faith will move
mountains, but you better bring a wheelbarrow and shovel. Go out and
find. Find someone who needs your help. Look at your coworkers, your
peers, friends, family, random passers-by, the list goes on an on. If
you look for those people that may need your help, and have faith that
Heavenly Father will put you in their way, I can promise you that not
only will you be able to help others get through the trails that they
face, but the load that you are carrying will begin to be lifted by
the grace of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Slow Week.....
Boring preparation day. Hung out at the Stake center waiting for
people to come, but no one came..... Ever. Sat at the church for
like.... 2 hours. Nah. Had dinner at the Es, real good goat stew.
You can never know what we're going to have at their house ahaha. Then
we had a plan of salvation lesson with A and D, which went
well. At the end of the lesson though The zone leaders called us and
told us to meet them in Missoula ASAP to trade bikes (Elder Hansen
brought the wrong bike from Great Falls) so we rushed to Missoula....
Boy am I thankful for 80mph speed limits on the freeways!
We had literally no plans for today besides studies and dinner... So
we tracted out basically all of West Riverside, Bonner, Miltown,
Piltsville. We walked... And walked... And walked. At the end of the
day though we had the longest dinner appointment I've ever had and
then a great lesson out in Potomac (halfway between Bonner and Seeley
Lake) with the Hs (Sherrif and his wife). Taught about the
gospel of Jesus Christ and answered a lot of their questions!!!
The 500 mile day..... Okay so we only walked like 15. But still!!! We
walked like 15 miles to get to appointments and whatnot! haha we
walked all the way out to east Missoula and spent pretty much all
morning and all afternoon there. We tried to visit a bunch of people
and to find some more people to teach, but everything didn't quite go
as planned and we really didn't see much of anyone. It felt good to
walk and now I am absolutely exhausted, but I'm not quite sure how
much we did that day....
But after we had dinner we had an appointment with the Gs. We
planned on reading chapters 9 and 10 of 1 Nephi, but they had already
read those! So we read 13-15... Or Nephi's visions of the future. It
absolutely blew Brother G's mind to think that Nephi, in 600
b.c., saw Columbus, the revolution, and the formation of all the
churches in the US. He says- "If Nephi saw all that than heck, this
book must be true!" So now I can honestly say that Christopher
Columbus gave someone a testimony of the Book of Mormon haha.
After that we went to Sister O and read Mosiah 24, about the
people being under bondage and praying for guidance. We talked about
how even though they were going through a hard time, and even though
the lord didn't take their burdens away, they remained faithful and
worked hard to increase their faith everyday!!!
We were about to start weekly planning today, then the Zone leaders
called us and asked us, along with another Elder, to put together a
musical number for zone training tomorrow!!! Shoot.... So we drove
over to the stake center and met them there and started running
through some possible numbers we could do. I sat at the piano playing
some stuff for them, and while we were working to decide on a hymn to
sing, a realization hit me- I have done this dozens of times with my
dad..... HOLY SHOOT I'M TURING INTO MY FATHER. Dang.... I swore this
day would never come!! Haha it was good though, because I was able to
help them put together something that sound pretty good! They both are
singing and I'm trying to figure something to do on the piano....
We'll find out tomorrow if what I think I have is good!
We ran out of time after that and didn't get to weekly plan :(. So
disappointed! But we went out to West Riverside to help one of the
older folk in the ward move what we think was a ping-pong table. We
aren't sure, but that's what we think! And then we went and picked up
the mail for Brother G and found out that he isn't in trouble with
the law anymore! We are super excited to be able to take further steps
towards his baptism now!!!!
Zone training today. Good discussions and some good advice from my
fellow missionaries, but the zone leaders were a little fire and
brimstone with us. They kinda came down hard on some of the things
going on between elders and sisters, but I can see why. It is
important! Oh, and the musical number was okay, nothing spectacular on
my part on the piano. The two elders both sounded fantastic, so that
was good! Had some more appointments later during the day in East
Missoula, and tried to plan again with no avail. Again, so
disappointed! Haha
We got back to the apartment and spent probably a good 20-30 minutes
watching the most random, funny videos from Gospel library. Elder
Hansen has really had some time on his mission to explore the
different sections of Gospel Library!!
We started to realize that not having a planning session soon was
going to bite us in the butt, so we finally forced ourselves out to
Clinton and to sit and plan for the coming week! The session was good,
and we were able to get a lot of stuff planned. Next week looks pretty
good, I'm super excited! After planning we walked around Clinton. This
week I'm starting to feel like one of the Pinoneer children- I sing as
I walk, and walk, and walk, and walk, and walk. Hahah musical
abilities are starting to make me laugh at myself more, which is good!
Had a good dinner lesson with one of our investigators, T. She is
getting ready for her wedding and her baptism coming up in June!!!
Excited! Before we went home we visited Brother G again and talked
with him about the world of wisdom. He set some goals with us to be
done smoking by next week, and to stop drinking coffee. He agreed that
smoking would be hard, but he gave us his coffee and told us to get
rid of it!!!! Super excited for him!!
I learned very quickly that walking for a few hours on a fast Sunday
afternoon is not a good idea. After church we decided to start
tracting out all of Clinton.... ALL OF IT. Haha so we walked around
for probably a good 3 hours hitting every house along the way. Kind of
funny though- out in Clinton 3 hours of walking means about a dozen
houses. They are so far apart!!!!!!
But my companion was having some sort of inner struggle, and so he was
being kinda quiet. It made tracting a little weird, because I took
just about every door and went with it. It's good for me though,
because it's helping me start to get out of my nervous little shell
I've developed the past *6 months. (Hit my mark last week... WOOHOOO)
But besides that we had a pretty slow night.... Yeah the week in
general was pretty slow. But those need to happen every now and then,
Elder Braden R Wallgren
Montana Billings Mission
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Alma 5:40
40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and
whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.

I found this in a New era.... I thought my family would get a kick outta it.
I still never get tired of this Montana sky.... Although I am taking A
LOT less pictures of it. I think I'm beginning to become used to it.

February 22, 2016: It's time to SLAM this poetry

The old violin (Mom: The Touch of the Master's Hand)

'Twas battered and scared, the auctioneer
Thought it scarce worth his while
To wast much time on the old violin,
But he held it up with a smile:
"What am I bidden, good folks," cried he,
"Who'll start the bidding for me?"

"A dollar, a dollar"; then, "Two! Only two?
Two dollars, and who'll make it three?
Three dollars, once; thee dollars, twice;
Going for three-" but no,
From the room, far back, a gray-haired man
came forward and picked up the bow;
Then, wiping the dust from the old violin
And tightening the cold loose strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet
As a caroling angel sings.

The music ceased, and the old auctioneer,
With a voice that was quite and low,
Said, "What am I bid for the old violin?"
And he help it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once, three thousand twice,
And going, gone!" Said he.
The people cheered, but some of them cried,
"We do not quite understand
What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply:
"The touch of the master's hand."

And many a man with a life out tune,
And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd,
Much like the old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine,
A game- and he travels on,
He's going once, and going twice,
He's going and almost gone.
But the master comes and the foolish crowd
Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
By the touch of the masters hand.

Many times we look at others and (even if is only for a second) begin
to think they they aren't even worth our time. I have seen it many
time on my mission- a souls I pass by that I don't think would be
worth my time to see. The "master's hand" has changed me, and it has
changed many of you. Why can't it change everyone around you?! Jesus
Christ is the master. His hand morphs us. It changes us from what we
are now into what we have the potential to be. Pay close attention
this week- find some in your way who the world (the foolish crowd) has
given up on. Find someone who the crowd thinks is worth no more than a
dollar, maybe two, maybe three. Show them the masters hand. Help the,
find the potential they can have through Jesus Christ and his
Atonement. Help the crowd realize- each soul is worth the thousands,
each child of God is anything but worthless.
It reminds me of D&C 18:10-
Remember, the worth of souls is GREAT in the sight of God. (Emphasis added).
The worth of EVERY soul is great, but many time the world doesn't see
it. Help other see it. Help the master's hand affect their life. It is
by doing so that we will be able to see the happiness in our own lives
begin to shine.

Tiring preparation day today. We went to the institute building first,
but the only ones there were the zone leaders- so I played ping pong
with Elder Cobabe for almost 2 hours while Elders Mika and Crane
played pool, foosball, and air hockey. I found out that ping ping can,
in fact, be a workout haha. After that though we decided that we'd
check to see if the rest of the zone was at the church- which they
weren't. Turns out the zone and decided to go on a hike for the day
and inform neither the zone leaders nor the Clinton elders.... Huh. Oh
well! We had fun playing four person tennis volleyball. We invented a
new game, and now it's going to be in the next Olympics.
Hahahahahhahahaha! But really, it was a lot of fun, and I did so much
running around that as the day was coming to a close I was exhausted!
After that we taught a cool lesson to Brother G about giving to
the poor, and we read from the Book of Mormon. Lots of good scriptures
in that book! Good day... At the end of it and I'm tired and ready for
bed... But good day!
We spent the day today out of Potomac- basically the halfway point
in-between Seeley Lake and Clinton... It's kinda like Beavertail is
for Clinton and Drummond. We tracted, contacted, and found many people
to teach, as well as taught a few good lessons. We first taught a
lesson to the Hs- the deputy sheriff and his family. We had a
really good lesson about the plan of salvation, and we were able to
answer some burning questions that they had. Brother H has a lot
of confusion because even though he grew up a member, he didn't pay
any attention in classes and has a lot of things mixed up in his head
from the bits and pieces he can remember, and Sister H has a lot
of questions because she grew up Baptist and all she has heard about
the LDS church is negatives. They are an awesome, awesome couple and I
can tell that they really want to know the truth of the things that we
are talking about. They read, they are willing to pray, and all they
want to do is grow closer to God. It's fantastic to see them grow. The
next lesson we taught was to J K- a referral that
missionaries haven't contacted in almost 9 months....... We traveled
into what seemed like the eternal abyss, and after we went over the
river and through the woods we finally made it to grandmother's hou-
oh wait...
We made it to his house at the top of the mountain just in time to
catch him before he left, and we talked with him just outside of his
home for about an hour. We helped him feed the deer around his home,
and talked with him for a while about his life and beliefs in God.
Awesome guy, and I am looking forward to meeting with him again!
At the end of the day we headed back to the apartment so that Elder
Mika could finish packing. I was able to help him a bit, which was
pretty cool. I am really going to miss that Elder, and I really wish
him success in his areas to come!!
NEW COMPANION DAY!!! But first, I got to chill with the Elders in
Missoula 2nd ward- Elder Hatton and Elder McMiller. Awesome elders,
and we were able to do some great stuff throughout the day. We went to
Jimmy John's for lunch, and it reminded me of all the times I had been
with the ol' gang from school. Weird memories with those people.......
Fun.... But definitely weird haha. I guess the weirdos congregated,
and I was naturally part of the group lol. I am loving seeing how my
past is coming up now, and how all of it isn't bad. I thought for a
long time that the only things I would remember from high school are
all the dumb mistakes I had made, but I can't remember most of those
anymore, which is making me feel happy and hopeful about the future.
Anyways.... After a while with those two elders we headed back to the
stake center so I could pick up my new companion- Elder Hansen. It
feels super weird to be driving again, but I guess I should expect it
from time to time on my mission eventually, right? I'm just happy that
the first time I am really driving consistently is as all the snow is
melting, so the roads that I am driving on are all pretty dry and
clear. Lord is blessing me in small ways I guess! Either way, I picked
up elder Hansen, and then we went to the property management place to
get who is where all figured out in paperwork and whatnot. And then
after getting lost in Missoula for about an hour (little does my
companion know that I have no idea where anything is!) we eventually
were able to make it back to the apartment and drop off all his stuff.
We had dinner with some members, and then some lessons with Sister
O and Brother G. The lesson with Brother G was super
strong- the spirit hit that room like a wrecking ball! And unlike
Miley Cyrus, we wanted and expected this to be there! Brother G
started to tear up, and unlike when this had happened previously, he
didn't make a joke at me! He- this old-timey, biker, carney, convict
of a man- was breaking down in tears as we talked about Jesus Christ
and the sacrifice he made for us. It has been a long time since I have
felt the spirit as strongly as I did in that room! It was great!!!
Weekly planning- yuck. However, this week we only took a hour and we
got done just about as much as we did before in the 4-5 hours we would
take. I don't know what we did differently, but something was up that
made this session fantastic. We were really able to plan for all of
our people! It was good, and then we had a whole bunch of extra time
to be able to make sure that all of our plans were solid, and then
some time to mess around in the piano (turns out my companion has the
#1 voice in Texas. Took some theory tests, sight reading tests, and
then sang some stuff in front of judges; he got the top score!!! It
feels good to have a really musical companion!). After that we had
lunch and taught a... Different lesson to S. We went in, planning on
teaching the restoration to her caregiver W, but as we showed up
W was rushing out the door! But, because we were there and a
member was there, we went ahead and had a lesson with S. We talked
with her about what she had read, and somehow we went from giving alms
to the poor to a depression that she is entering and how the gospel
can help her get out of it. I have no idea how we got to that subject,
or even why we continued on with it, but it was definitely good. I could
tell that S needed some help, and that after our discussion she knew
the means by which she could obtain the answers to her prayers. It
felt good to help!
Besides that the only other thing we did was oversleep in our
nap/dinner time, and teach an awkward lesson to D E about
baptism. She says she isn't ready to talk about that yet, but we don't
quite know why.... She comes to church every Sunday, she has spoken in
sacrament meeting, and I think she might even unofficially have a
calling!!! She has some concern, and I really hope that we can help
her overcome it and make that covenant that will help her for the rest
of her life.
Started off the day with a meeting with Bishop out in Clinton..... I
found out that leading an area is hard! Bishop asked us all these
questions and I was the only one that could have had any answers (my
companion's only been here for a day, I can't blame him), and it
freaked me out just a little haha. It was good though, I'm starting to
see why the Lord has made me a senior companion- I need to learn to
rely on my own obedience and not the obedience of others, and maybe
then I can start to become a good missionary! After the meeting we
decided to walk around west Riverside/Miltown for a while, save some
miles and hopefully start to get a little healthier (one can only
hope....). But we visited everyone I could think of in the area, and
the. Even tracted a little trying to find people to teach. No success
today, and most the people we stopped by weren't ready to hear it, so
it was kinda disappointing, but it definitely felt good to get up and
walk around instead of sitting and driving everywhere!
After a few hours of that we walked back to the apartment for a
facilities break, and we had no TP!!! A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY!

Oh the aching heart!
How it yearns for the soft touch of relief!
A Pain! A Pain!
Oh what harsh a sound-
It calls to me the sense
Of Agony.
What place is this? I do not know
Yet I have become so familiar.
Yet in the end all I can see
Are the tears of those around me!
Darkness- envelopes the soul
Of the distressed mind
And all we see?
*snap* *snap* *snap* *snap*

Yeah........ I'm dumb............

But anyway we had ran out from the transfer before, so we decided it
was a good time for an emergency trip to Wal-mart to pick up the stuff
we needed for the transfer. Got all the essentials- milk, Frosted
Flakes, corn dogs, top ramen, ketchup, Goldfish, cookies, TP, bread,
peanut butter, and so forth. Everything a missionary needs to survive
for a transfer. After a while we went back out to Clinton and had some
good lessons there. Good day...  My new companion makes me laugh 
so I think this should be a good transfer!
Had a zone breakfast at President Price's house this morning. Kind of
funny moment- President Price forgot how many missionaries we have in
the Missoula Zone, so each time a new companion he would just shout-
"Oh no! Honey, we need more eggs!!" That man is hilarious, and is an
absolutely fantastic leader. We had a little devotional, and I got
voluntold to play piano. Haha I'm starting to like and accept it, but
I'm really starting to see that the practice I'm getting is helping me
get a lot better at just being able to play the hymns, not really
having to practice them. Maybe that's one of my purposes of coming on
my mission- I'm supposed to gain confidence in my piano playing
skills.... Nun-chuck skills, bow-hunting skills... No wait! I'm not
Haha but after the breakfast we headed out to Seeley Lake for the day.
I remembered that I really do not like driving for all that long. You
get bored... And if you're bored when driving you also get scared! It
was good though, helping me remember that even though I did get in
that accident I'm really not all that bad of a driver!
Once we got to Seeley we found out that the lesson we had first was
all the way out like 10 miles out of town. So we kind of rushed
(staying within legal speed limits, of course) to get out there. We
got into their house and their son asked the most mind-blowing
question: Why was Jesus able to resist temptation so much more than
the rest of us? Holy shoot. Kid.... You're 7. Why are these things...
How are..... Flip. It took me and my companion about 20 minutes of the
lesson to be able to formulate a thought coherent enough To be able to
at least somewhat answer his question. Sometimes the most complex
truths come from the mouths of babes....
After that we had a lesson with W/D/S family. We went
in planning to talk about the restoration and whatnot stuff, but it
turned into something weird. Sister D asked me about why I was
serving mission, so I told her the whole accident story from a few
months ago and about the temple stuff and whatnot, and me and her had
a real good discussion about priesthood, prayer, and the tender
mercies of the Lord. While we did that though, my companion was
playing some sort of game with K and N. I didn't know what game
they were playing, all I know is that it began to allow them to beat
my companion. During our whole conversation all I heard behind me was
stuff like- "around the circle, now twice." "OW!" "Okay now pick up
the rock!" "OW!" I don't understand... All I know is that they were
beating him up, and shoot I started to get a little worried!
We had a lesson with Sister O after that, and when we walked in
she was just starting preparing dinner, and she jumped on us and said
we had to have dinner with her.... Well.... Okay. She let us help her
cook, which I'm not going to lie- made me feel fantastic! I got to
wash, cut, and boil potatoes to make some mashed potatoes, as well as
help season and tenderize the steaks. It felt good to be able to get
in the kitchen and make stuff again. I haven't done a ton of it since
I've been out, but I think I'm going to be doing a lot more of it now!
The drive back home was scary...... Trying to avoid the deer and
couple elk and what I'm pretty sure was a dead bear on the side of
road. It was dark, I was scared, that's all you need to know. We got
home a little late and me and Elder Hansen spent probably a good hour
discussing our weird dreams. All I can say is that after an hour, we
were both pretty sure that we are going to die weird deaths. The only
interpretations we could come up with was death. The only one.
Church felt a little weird today- this is the first time I've been to
church in my mission where the people there knew me better than my
companion. I guess I should probably get used to it, but shoot I don't
know... It just feels weird!
We had choir practice after church (my companion is super musical!!!!!
I'm super excited!) and there were like a dozen guys there but only
three women. We had two 1st sopranos and a 2nd soprano, but no altos.
The guys sang nothing but melody, and the girls had a three part
harmony at one point. Let me tell you- three part Harmony is hard when
you only have two parts. So, being the dumb person that I really am, I
jumped in to help..... And sang alto..... Why?! Don't ask me
please.... I found two things for, this experience- 1) singing alto in
falsetto actually isn't really all that bad. 2) my head hurt, like A
LOT after we were done. Super light-headed for like the rest of the
day hahaha.
So speaking of my musical companion- I found out that my companion
apparently has the #1 voice in Texas. He took tests and sang stuff in
like a million languages and went in front of judges and stuff, and
yeah he certifiably has the best voice (male and female) in the state
of Texas! I am SO EXCITED to have a companion who knows how much music
helps in the life!!!! (But apparently grammar doesn't! )
For the rest of the day we really just spent our time walking around
east Missoula trying to find some people. It was good, but I found out
very quickly that I don't know east Missoula as well as I thought I
did. We only got lost like twice, and even then all I had to do was
look at a map and I knew right where we were! Haha it's good to know
that I am at least starting to learn something... Right?!

Elder Braden R Wallgren
Montana Billings Mission
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints

Alma 5:40
40 For I say unto you that whatsoever is good cometh from God, and
whatsoever is evil cometh from the devil.

I don't have like any pictures from this week.........
My last picture with Elder Mika..... I look like my dad trying to be
"cool"..... (Love you!)
A picture that I was sent a few weeks ago- it sounds crazy but it
actually doesn't feel that bad
The zone at the breakfast with Pres price
My companion was lame and wouldn't pose for a picture.... So I took
one anyway and apparently that is the only picture him and me that you
get to see is week haha